Sunday, December 30, 2012

The current 25-man roster (I think)

With not a whole lot happening since the signings of Greinke and Ryu, and the trades for Schumaker and Rasmussen a few weeks ago, let's take a look at the 25-man roster (or at least what I think it will be).  For the position players, the starter is listed first.

A.J. Ellis
Tim Federowicz

1st Base:
Adrian Gonzalez

2nd Base:
Mark Ellis
Nick Punto

Hanley Ramirez
Dee Gordon

3rd Base:
Luis Cruz
Jerry Hairston, Jr.

Left Field:
Carl Crawford
Skip Schumaker

Center Field:
Matt Kemp

Right Field:
Andre Ethier

Starting Rotation:
Clayton Kershaw
Zack Greinke
Chad Billingsley
Hyun-Jin Ryu
Josh Beckett

Brandon League
Kenley Jansen
Ronald Belisario
Javy Guerra
Matt Guerrier
Scott Elbert
Chris Capuano

One thing to keep in mind is that Hairston and Schumaker can play multiple positions in the infield and outfield, so don't pay too much attention to where they're listed above.  I just had to put them somewhere.

A big question that looms is what to do with the Aaron Harang/Capuano combo.  I have Capuano listed in the bullpen because I think he can be a great power arm from the left side for an inning or two.  On the flip side, Harang could be a great option for long relief and spot starts, as we all know injuries cause pitching depth to be key.  For all we know, they both could get traded as well.

There's also injuries to Ted Lilly and Billingsley. Bills looks like he'll avoid surgery, so hopefully he can start the year on time.  The scary part is that he's not at all an effective pitcher when he's not 100%.  Lilly is kind of the forgotten man, but if healthy, it's like picking up another solid starter as a free agent.

A few other guys to keep in mind are Elian Herrera, Justin Sellers, Alex Castellanos, Jamey Wright, Paco Rodriguez, Stephen Fife, Shawn Tolleson, and John Wall.  I refuse to list Juan Uribe.  He sucks so bad, I don't even want to think about him.  Plus there's always January moves to be made, plus the inevitable Spring Training surprise.

In other words, stay tuned for more roster moves.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dodgers make it happen with Greinke

What broke on Saturday is now official: Zack Greinke is the newest Los Angeles Dodger.

Greinke signed the biggest contract in baseball history for right-handed pitchers with a six-year, $147 million deal.  He'll team with Clayton Kershaw at the top of a rotation that features a Cy Young Award for each.  And hopefully many more to come.

Why did Magic Johnson and the boys bring Greinke in?  Simply put, they want to win.

And having all that cash doesn't hurt either.  But hey, I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.

Now that Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu have been added to the rotation, there's suddenly some decisions that have to be made.  The three most likely on the outside looking in are Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano, and Ted Lilly.  Perhaps one of them will be kept for long relief/spot duty, perhaps more than one will, or perhaps all of them will be moved.  Ned Colletti has some options to consider as the winter gets colder.

Of course, the question had to be asked to Greinke about why he chose the Dodgers.  For one, he said on paper, he realizes how good they are.  He also is happy that every year of his contract, they'll have good players.

And lastly, just for good measure, the money didn't hurt either.  No kidding!

Now that he's signed, I'm sure guys like Anibal Sanchez and Kyle Lohse will be next in line, as the Greinke signing was holding up pretty much everything else.  As for the Dodgers, they'll switch their focus to offense, such as utility players in the infield and outfield.  There's also the issue of extending Kershaw, who has to be smiling just a bit after seeing the numbers tossed at Greinke and Ryu.  Lord only know what kind of deal he'll get, as he absolutely deserves whatever is coming to him.

I'm definitely looking forward to watching this rotation next year, as the Dodgers have to feel like they have a great chance of winning no matter who is out there.  If these guys continue to put up the numbers they're capable of, then look out. 

The newest #99: Hyun-Jin Ryu

If Hyun-Jin Ryu has any sort of similar impact that the last guy wearing #99 had upon his arrival to Los Angeles, then the Dodgers just struck gold again.

The Dodgers continued their incredible makeover from cash-strapped to makin' it rain in under one year by officially signing Korean lefty Ryu to a six-year, $36 million contract on Sunday, barely beating the deadline.  That's in addition to the $25.7 posting fee just to negotiate with him, and it's nearly $62 million committed to a guy who hasn't even pitched an inning in the majors.

But the Dodgers have the cash, so they made it happen.

Here's what we do know about Ryu.  He's only 25, but has already enjoyed a great career in Korea.  He's actually pitched in Dodger Stadium before as a member of the Korean national team for the 2009 World Baseball Classic.  Scouts have commended him for his presence on the mound, command of his pitches, and ability to put a little something extra on it when needed.

Let's hope that's all true, because if it is, then the Dodgers have a very deep starting rotation.  What helps is that the Dodgers have found similar success with pitchers from overseas in the past.  Nobody will ever forget Hideo Nomo's unbelievable first year, but let's remember that Chan Ho Park and even Kaz Ishii were very good as well.  So, it's been done before in a pitcher's park like Dodger Stadium.

With the addition of Zack Greinke to team featuring Clayton Kershaw at the top, Ryu figures to be added in the 3-4 slot around Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley.  Don Mattingly could go righty-lefty through his rotation if he goes Kershaw, Greinke, Ryu, and Billingsley/Beckett.  He's got plenty of time to think about that.

A lot will be written about the Dodgers spending nearly $209 million on two starting pitchers, and rightfully so.  It could be a great thing for LA, as the Giants have shown once again that fantastic starting pitching and just enough hitting can lead to a championship.  And kudos to Ned Colletti for strengthening a rotation that needed to be tweaked.  Or in this case, injected with some completely new life.

Of course, this could also backfire, as Ryu pitches more like Kei Igawa.  You don't remember him?  Well, ask any Yankee fan about him, and I'm sure the answer will be interesting... and colorful.

Here's to hoping that the #99 jersey has some of that Manny Ramirez 2008 magic left in it.  Then we can see Ryuwood, or something like that, take over Los Angeles.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Like the Lakers, Greinke brings the Dodgers high expectations

With reports of the newest big free agent signing by the Dodgers, I can't help but take a look at another LA team for comparison's sake.

No, not the Angels.  The Lakers.

Yes, my Lakers brought in Steve Nash and Dwight Howard this past offseason to team with Kobe, Pau, and Metta, and expectations were immediately through the roof.

How's that going so far?  Nash got hurt in the second game, Howard shoots free throws like a third grader, Pau can't find his way around in any offense, Metta is inconsistent from the outside, the coach has already been fired, and the Lakers are stinking it up at 9-11.  And that's with Kobe playing out of his mind.

So, bringing in superstars doesn't automatically equal success.  It may eventually (look at the Heat), but it could take some time.  The Lakers are finding that out in some painful ways.

Now the Dodgers are trying a similar approach, as they are close to locking up Zach Greinke to a six-year, $147 million deal that would be the largest for a right-handed pitcher in baseball history.  Only CC Sabathia can claim to have topped this one.

Right away, opposing teams have to worry about the 1-2 punch of Clayton Kershaw and Greinke.  They are both legitimate #1 starters, and to have them go on consecutive days will be awesome to watch.  Throw in a revived Josh Beckett (let's hope it stays that way), a hopefully injury-free Chad Billingsley and potentially Ted Lilly, a possibly signed Ryu Hyun-jin, and veterans Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang, and the Dodgers clearly have lots of solid options in the starting rotation.  And, options to trade as well.

There's also talk of Ned Colletti not being done yet.  Kyle Lohse, Anibal Sanchez, and Ryan Dempster are still out there in the free agent bin, and there's talk of trading for James Shields or R.A. Dickey.  With the way the Dodgers are operating now, it's safe to assume that one of the above mentioned names could be in Dodger blue this April.

Let's not forget the other big contracts already in LA.  Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, and Carl Crawford are still owed a boatload of cash.  Andre Ethier extended last season, and Clayton Kershaw can expect a hefty raise coming soon.  More superstars = more cash commitments.

If you thought the expectations were high last August when the boys from Miami and Boston came over (and Shane Victorino from Philly), then you ain't seen nothing yet.  The Dodgers are clearly going to have a huge target on their backs, as other teams are going to be out to prove that big money deals does not equal championship rings.

The thing that's concerning to me is how the Dodgers responded after making those trades last season.  Simply put, they flat out stunk for a little while, coming up short time and time again in the playoff push.  When they did figure things out the last couple of weeks, the margin of error was so slim that they eventually ran out of time the last couple of days.

Make no mistake, though, I'm glad the Dodgers got Greinke.  He's not worth the monster contract (who is?), but that's what it was going to take to land him, and they made sure to make it happen.  He's also proven he can handle pitching in a big market by going 6-2 in 13 starts with the Angels last year, along with a 3.53 ERA and 1.19 WHIP.  Sure he's regressed some since winning the Cy Young Award with the Royals in 2009, but who the heck would be able to top a 2.16 ERA and 1.07 WHIP?  Those numbers are just crazy.

I'm sure Don Mattingly is pumped about this upcoming season, but he naturally can't help but be somewhat worried about making this all work, and fast.  Over at Staples Center, the boys in purple and gold are showing that even the biggest names might not automatically mesh and run over the rest of the league.  It takes a complete team effort to make that happen, and not just a guy here and there.

While the names are undoubtedly big and have absolutely been stars in this league, as the Hot Stove season ticks by and Spring Training starts to approach, the Dodgers will face scrutiny they haven't seen in a long time.  How those 25 men in the locker room come together, and not the amount of dollars on their paychecks, will ultimately show how far they will go.

That's something the Lakers have yet to figure out.  Let's hope the Dodgers are paying close attention.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Taking a look at Greinke and The Beard

There hasn't been much movement on the Dodgers front lately, which is a huge change from the hectic pace that saw them grab one player after another towards the end of the 2012 season.  But there are two big free agent pitchers being discussed, so let's take a look at both of them.

Zach Greinke - There's no doubt that the Alpha Dog of the free agent starters this offseason is Greinke.  He split his time between the Brewers and Angels last season, going 15-5 with a 3.48 ERA and 1.20 WHIP.  He also is a strikeout machine, K'ing 200 in 212 1/3 innings.  He won the Cy Young Award in 2009 with the Royals, posting one of the sickest seasons you'll ever see (16-8, 2.17, 1.07, 242).

What is also is no doubt is the type of contract he'll command.  It'll easily be nine figures, which you have to figure is already scaring some teams off.  But don't forget, these are the new Dodgers, and money is of little to no object.  So, let the bidding wars begin.

If the Dodgers somehow do get Greinke, he'll make a great 1-2 punch with Clayton Kershaw.  Throw in a rejuvenated Josh Beckett, a hopefully healthy Chad Billingsley, and possibly Korean lefty Ryu Hyun-Jin, and the Dodgers suddenly have a deep pitching staff.  It's hard not to get excited about that.

What can't be ignored is the Dodgers' history of giving starting pitchers long-term deals.  Kevin Brown?  Flopped.  Jason Schmidt?  Abysmal.  To Ned Colletti's credit, he's been gun shy about dishing out those deals ever since then.  And who can blame him?  So, there's always a risk with dishing out such huge contracts.

If the Greinke thing doesn't work out, look for Kyle Lohse to be pursued, and even another run at Ryan Dempster.

Brian Wilson - In a surprising move (at least to me), the Giants chose to non-tender closer Brian Wilson, who was out practically the entire 2012 season with Tommy John surgery.  It was a big blow at the time, but we all know the Giants found a way to figure things out anyway, winning the World Series.  I really hate saying that.

Pre-elbow problems, Wilson was one of the top closers in baseball, and may have even been the best at one point.  In the 2010 championship season, he saved 48 games with a 1.18 ERA, plus 93 K's in 74 2/3 innings.  He followed that up with 36 saves in 2011 before the elbow injury hit this past year.

Let's say the Dodgers do sign Wilson, who supposedly would favor pitching in LA since he lives there in the offseason.  I would look at him as someone who pays off as the year progresses.  A bullpen down the stretch of Wilson, Ronald Belisario, Brandon League, and Kenley Jansen would be awesome.  The Dodgers would still need to add a lefty arm or two, but that's some serious heat late in games.

Granted, it would be really weird to watch him pitch for the Dodgers at first.  I won't go so far to say it would be like watching Mariano Rivera pitch for the Red Sox, but it's the same idea.  But let's remember the Giants chose not to keep him, so now anything goes.  That definitely includes The Beard pitching in Dodger blue.