Wednesday, February 8, 2017
L.A. Dodgers Season 37 preview
Los Angeles Dodgers
Season 36: 45-117
Having never heard of a rebuilding process, new GM DodgerBlue13 took over the reigns of the historically bad Dodgers (45-117) and immediately attempted to make the team competitive while also slashing payroll from $95M to $78M.
The process began with clearing payroll from last season by waiving ace Otto Little (P) and his hindering $20M salary, and hoping he's claimed, which he is by the Mariners.
Under-performing Andrew Wathan (3B) ($8.4M last season), is allowed to leave via free agency (interestingly, also picked up by the Mariners). And Kosuke Takada (3B) ($7.4M last season) is traded to the D-Backs for Martin Clayton (P) and a pair of prospects.
This new payroll flexibility allowed the Dodgers to make the a flurry of roster moves to augment face-of-the-franchise Dan Ross (LF), completely changing the makeup of the team.
The following are the new members of the Dodgers big league roster for season 37: Cy James (3B) signed for 5/82 to be the new starting 3B; Jemile Frazier (RF) signed for 5/42 to play RF; Joakim Henriquez (1B) and his career .392 OBP signed for $1.6M to take over at 1B for Quentin Blair (2B), who will shift over to 2B; Jun Lee (C) (season 33 #50 overall) will take over behind the plate; Haywood Shumpert (1B) was claimed off waivers to provide power off the bench; Jair Cortez (SS) (season 31 IFA $18M) tries to live up to his prospect hype as the new starting shortstop; Russ Hiljus (P) signed for 3/22 to be the new staff ace; Martin Clayton (P) was acquired in the Takada trade to take a spot at the back of the rotation; Bernie Martin (P) was acquired from Pittsburgh for a pair of prospects to be the primary left-handed setup man; and Kane Bailey (P) was claimed off waivers and will pitch out of the bullpen.
In addition, the Dodgers used their prime draft position to pick up a pair of potential starting pitchers in the rule 5 draft, Marcell Trinidad (P) and Billy Foster (P) .
DodgerBlue13 is under no illusion his team will compete for the title, but he believes all these moves will at least make the team competitive and provide a big step forward from the nightmare 117 losses of last season.
So what do these wholesale changes mean for the Bums? Well, throw out last season and the disastrous start under previous management. In Season 35, the Dodgers won 76 games and finished 12 back of the 88 game-winning Rockies (who won 88 again last year). So that's our starting place.
LA scored 612 runs in Season 35, and really only got a good season from Ross (.282/28/102), with the departed Wathan and Takada disappointing (again). Lee should be a big upgrade at C - their most-used C that year, Henry Young, OPS'd all of .665. Henriquez is not going to return to his Angels All-Star form at age 37, but he can still get to first (a much-needed talent, given last year's .294 team OBP). Did they overpay for James? Maybe, but he's a relatively young FA (30), 3B overall is not a highly productive offensive position in this world, and James' value going forward from here is not tied solely to a high power rating. I think this is a great pickup for LA (even with a solid 3B situation in Pittsburgh, we were pushing the bidding on James). The final big offensive addition is RF Frazier, and he should be the primary power threat. Yes, most of his value is tied up in that 96 power rating, which will undoubtedly drop over the course of his contract. But he should more than earn his salary for the first 3 years of his contract, and if they're lucky, his mid-30's resemble those of Chris Freel (see Tampa Bay preview). I like this team to reach 680 runs...maybe more. That would probably put them around #8 or #9 in the NL, and certainly competitive with the top offenses.
The pitching is less certain, but I sure like some of the moves. Their team ERA in Season 35 was a respectable 3.86 - 11th in the NL. The effort featured a 3.30 ERA by Ali Garces in 185 IP, a 3.72 in 186 IP by Little, and a 3.74 in 192 IP by Fernando Diaz (those were the 3 leaders in IP that year). Garces and Diaz had comparable seasons last year, so it's not crazy to expect similar numbers from them. Hiljus has a 3.67 career ERA in Oakland (similar ballpark to Dodger Stadium, so he could be a great replacement for Little at a much lower ticket price.