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Around the division: The offseason of the Los Angeles Dodgers

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The Giants have not been active. They lost two shortstops, and they signed one shortstop. It wasn’t exactly front-page material. And by "front-page material", I’m not just talking about local papers – the moves the Giants made this offseason didn’t even make the front-page of "Giants Offseason Transactions Quarterly," who will feature Jim Harbaugh on their next issue.

The Dodgers, on the other hand, have been busy, busy, busy! Look at those little squirrels, digging around, trying to hoard acorns for the hard times! A left-fielder here, a reliever there, and a catcher there! Busy, busy, busy! The fruits of this labor:

 

Acquired:

Jon Garland
Matt Guerrier
Tony Gwynn, Jr.
Dioner Navarro
Juan Uribe
Eugenio Velez!

Lost:

George Sherrill
The cloud of suck that followed Sherrill around like Pig Pen
Russell Martin
Justin Miller
The tattoo that Miller has of the Grim Reaper on a motorcycle, playing his scythe like a guitar

Just going on an acquired/lost list, you can see the Dodgers have been busy, but that doesn’t include the players who have re-signed:

Rod Barajas
Ted Lilly
Hiroki Kuroda
Jay Gibbons

The re-signs comprise 40% of the starting rotation and 25% of the starting lineup (if Gibbons can beat out Gwynn for the left field spot), so they’re worth including in an offseason retrospective. You could do these lists all day…

Names I would have given to the baby seals clubbed to death by members of the Dodgers organization this offseason:

Snuffy
Whiskers
Gargamel
Chipsy
Waxy
Rimp-Romp
F. Scott Seamammal

…but only a few of them apply to baseball. So let’s get back on track.

A lot of moves up there. And the end result is:

  • a very good rotation in Kershaw/Billingsley/Lilly/Kuroda/Garland
  • a three-year deal to a reliever with a poor strikeout rate
  • $85M in committed payroll for the new and re-signed players
  • Tony Gwynn and Jay Gibbons competing for a corner outfield spot

I look at the Dodgers lineup, and I think, dang, now that’s a lineup that could use Manny Ramirez. But most of their offseason funds were spent to secure the back end of the rotation, with a sizable chunk reserved for Uribe. The spending seems to imply that the Dodgers think they weren’t bad last year, they were just unlucky. With a rebound from Kemp, a healthy Ethier, a healty Furcal, a return to form from Blake, a breakout season from Loney, and a performance by Uribe that trumps what Blake DeWitt could do, they might be right.

But if a couple of those things don’t work out – if Blake continues to decline, if Ethier continues to ail, if Loney continues to hit like what you’d expect from J.T. Snow’s down years – the lineup will be very, very spotty. The priority if I ran the team would have been left field, left field, and left field. Well, the priority if I ran the team would have been to trade Clayton Kershaw for Barry Zito, but that’s because I’d be trying to run the team into the ground. If I were actually trying, though, left field would have been the biggest offseason priority, and it wouldn’t have been close. The Dodgers saw things differently

It’s not a bad team. Heck, it wouldn’t take a lot of surprising developments to see this group win 90+ games next year. It’s just a team that’s not much different than last year, which is a team that finished 80-82, twelve games back from the San Francisco Giants, who ended up winning the World Series. Say, that reminds me of something I just read, actually:

(The Dodgers) finished 80-82, twelve games back from the San Francisco Giants, who ended up winning the World Series.

Quoted for truth. And I remember when I used to worry myself sick over the impending Kemp/Loney/Hu/LaRoche/Ethier apocalypse. Those were the bad old days, alright.