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Running down the rosters: Los Angeles Dodgers

Feb 15, 2012, 5:56 PM EDT

Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp Getty Images

Quantity over quality was the theme of the Dodgers’ winter. The team signed nine free agents for this year’s roster, none of whom will cost more than $4 million in 2012. Let’s dig right in…

Rotation
Clayton Kershaw
Chad Billingsley
Ted Lilly
Aaron Harang
Chris Capuano

Bullpen
Javy Guerra
Kenley Jansen
Matt Guerrier
Todd Coffey
Mike MacDougal
Scott Elbert
John Grabow

Disabled list: Blake Hawksworth (R)
SP next in line: Nathan Eovaldi (R), John Ely (R), Chris Withrow (R)
RP next in line: Josh Lindblom (R), Ramon Troncoso (R), Jamey Wright (R), Fernando Nieve (R)

The Dodgers allowed Hiroki Kuroda to walk as a free agent, replacing him with Harang and Capuano on two-year deals. It’s the second year in a row the Dodgers have tried signing a Petco pitcher. Jon Garland didn’t work out, though that was injury related, and it seems unlikely that Harang will either, given that he had a 4.70 road ERA last year. One would think they would have been quite a bit better off with Kuroda behind Kershaw and Eovaldi in the fifth spot, but at least now they have Eovaldi in reserve awaiting the inevitable Capuano injury.

The bullpen figures to be a strength, though that should have more to do with the youngsters than the vets. Jansen is one of the game’s best young relievers and will likely replace Guerra in the closer’s role before too long. Elbert had a 2.43 ERA in 33 1/3 innings after coming up last year, and Lindblom came in at 2.73 in 29 2/3. They’re further down the depth chart at the moment, but they’ll move up.

Lineup
SS Dee Gordon – L
2B Mark Ellis – R
RF Andre Ethier – L
CF Matt Kemp – R
1B James Loney – L
LF Juan Rivera – R
3B Juan Uribe – R
C A.J. Ellis – R

Bench
C Matt Treanor – R
INF-OF Jerry Hairston Jr. – R
INF Adam Kennedy – L
OF Tony Gwynn Jr. – L
OF Trent Oeltjen – L

Next in line: C Tim Federowicz (R), C Josh Bard (S), 1B-3B Josh Fields (R), INF Ivan De Jesus (R), INF Justin Sellers (R), OF Alex Castellanos (R), OF Jerry Sands (R), OF Scott Van Slyke (R), OF Cory Sullivan (L)

Things aren’t very encouraging here. The Dodgers boasted the NL’s best position player last year and still finished just ninth in the league in runs scored. A healthy Ethier will help, but Kemp can’t possibly be quite so good again and Ellis, the biggest acquisition of the bunch, is going to be a downgrade offensively from the departed Jamey Carroll.

I’d like it a little better if I could pencil in Sands, but it’s hard to imagine that the Dodgers committed $4.5 million to Rivera to become a bench player. Sands should be a starter eventually, whether it’s in left field or at first base.

Unfortunately, that’s the only infusion the team is likely to get this summer. No other minor leaguer figures to make much of an impact. If the Dodgers were particularly high on any of them, they wouldn’t have needed to bring in so many veterans over the winter.

It’d be a shame if the best years of Kemp and Kershaw are essentially wasted thanks to Frank McCourt’s money woes and GM Ned Colletti’s bumbling. But that’s what we’re looking at right now. The Dodgers were an 82-79 team last year and don’t figure to improve from there this season.

  1. dodger88 - Feb 15, 2012 at 6:35 PM

    Love these roster previews.

    Troncoso is out of options so they risk losing him if he doesn’t make the opening day roster (or hits the DL). Unless he gets lit up during Cactus League games, he may get a spot instead of the risk of losing him via waivers. Either way the bullpen looks good on paper. The starting pitching is a mixed bag with Billingsley needing to ste up despite a falling K/9 rate and a rise in walks.

    Unfortunately you are dead on that this group in general and the offense in particular is not encouraging. Every team has “ifs” to hope (pray) for but the Dodgers have too many at key positions from Either to Loney to Uribe and of course those well past their best before dates (M. Ellis, Rivera, Kennedy). It’s sad that I had higher hopes (misguided or not) last year. Bring on new ownership and the hope for better days to come.

    • craigbhill - Feb 16, 2012 at 5:48 PM

      What makes you think the people with real money who are buying this team won’t restock as soon as better players become available? I don’t expect this pathetic roster to remain intact even by the end of spring training, and i completely expect the new owners to shed Ned’s has-beens (and Ned) as they show they’re not capable of being part of a championship-caliber team, and all Dodger fans should feel the same. Better days are not way off in the future, they’re coming this year.

  2. cup0pizza - Feb 15, 2012 at 6:43 PM

    I hate Ned Colletti. The Dodgers have 2 of the top 5 players in baseball, and everyone else is beyond useless. Pathetic lineup. Hard being a Dodgers fan.

  3. lanflfan - Feb 15, 2012 at 10:21 PM

    Pretty much right on. I really don’t like the Harang and Capuano signings, and would have much preferred Kuroda and a kid as opposed to two mediocre, injury-challenged vets. Offense will be…interesting.

    The only bone I have to pick is your assumption that if LA had any impact kids they wouldn’t have signed vets. What part of Needle Head Ned’s history demonstrates that, even with a stacked minor league system, Ned would NOT have signed worthless vets (as Exhibit A, I submit the Either and Kemp cockblock).

    I can’t wait for new ownership to take out the trash of McCourt’s reign of terror.

  4. micker716 - Feb 15, 2012 at 10:47 PM

    When you have two anchors like Kershaw and Kemp, and you play in a wide-open division, you have to put all of your cards on the table and go for it. The Dodgers just shuffled and stood pat. Pathetic, I can’t even hate them anymore.

  5. surly1n1nd1anapol1s - Feb 15, 2012 at 10:49 PM

    The only value on this roster ties to the previous GM. Colletti sucks.

  6. cup0pizza - Feb 16, 2012 at 12:43 AM

    surly, you’re dead-on that Colletti sucks, but he did trade Uncle Miltie to the A’s for Ethier. That was thievery. Whoever Oakland’s GM is that got schooled by a moron like Colletti deserves a lot of scorn of humiliation. Other than Ethier, Colletti has only made garbage moves. When both McCourt and Colletti are officially gone, it will be the greatest day in Dodgers history in the last 24 years (since the magical ’88 team). I swear that Colletti is a San Fran operative that was put in L.A. to assist McCourt is completely dismantling the franchise. Well, mission accomplished. GTFO

    • lanflfan - Feb 16, 2012 at 3:17 PM

      That Oakland GM you mentioned is the saberhead demi-god and star of Moneyball, Billy Beane.

      Give Needle Head Ned just a little more credit (very little). He did get Manny from the Red Sox for basically nothing (of course, that was canceled out by needlessly giving up Santana for Casey Blake), and Manny did have a lot to do with the success in 2008 and 2009. Needle Head has also shown a decent eye for pitching reclamation projects, but he also had the penchant for signing vets to block rising youngsters. Then again, if McCourt put proper money into the Dodgers, Ned would not have been looking in the 99cent bin for arms.

      Ned isn’t and wasn’t horrible, but I do agree, given the whole body of his work, it is hard to dismiss the “tin foil hat” theory that he is a gints operative. I will celebrate when LA is Needle Head (and McCourt) free. I may even go to a game again.

  7. craigbhill - Feb 16, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    I don’t expect your reporting to improve this year either, Matthew. If you thought before you typed, and did some research instead of regurgitate the old news that Ned Colletti’s grabbag of forgotten has-beens stinks, you’d realize the new ownership has no reason to keep Colletti or his band of many old men around past the introductory hellos, and will have as many as $6 billion reasons to improve local tv ratings ASAP, iow this year, before they negotiate the tv deal that’s going to bring in as much as $6 billion to them over the 20-year or so life of that tv contract.

    Simplifying the math, if they spend as much as $2 billion, let’s round it up, for the Dodgers so they can realize $6 billion for their return on investment, all they have to do to drastically improve the ratings well enough to earn that new huge tv contract, is spend a measly $2 (or $200 million more) on the best players as they come available over this year, when ratings will be gauged, and next winter, when the free agent market starts anew. For what they’ll get back, that is CHICKENFEED, and chickenfeed well spent!

    IOW, the people with $2 billion are not so stupid as to not improve the product this year—even get the Dodgers into the playoffs, and be dangerous in October, with the players they need to acquire to improve local tv ratings this season.

    I suggest you rethink your prognostication the Dodgers will not improve over last year’s mediocre Frank McCourt team of 82-79, Matthew. They’ll have Yankee-sized resources to spend henceforth.

  8. maco88 - Feb 16, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    If I was a conspiracy theorist I would agree that Braindead Ned was still working for his Giants. With all of the old, oft-injured, and dead weight Giants he has brought in to this organization, it does seem a little strange doesn’t it?

    But each year our roster seem to get worse and worse. For example, we get Rod Barajas off the scrap heap, and much to Ned’s surprise he actually does better than expected, helps the pitching staff with his veteran presence…..and now, gone! So who are our catchers now? A couple of young inexperienced catchers and a couple of veteran journeyman without much experience. I really hope that doesn’t hurt Kershaw or the other pitchers. Because if bad catching doesn’t hurt the Dodgers, keeping that stiff Honeycutt around as a coach sure will.

    And how do we make no move to try and get better first base. Loney has proven year after year to be just a slap hitter who can’t hit to the opposite field. And with what the Angels have done at the first base position, Loney is only the 4th best first baseman in Los Angeles behind Pujols, Morales, and Trumbo.

    A couple of years ago we were a small-market team. Now, we would have to rebuild twice over just to get to small-market.

    McCourt, please sell the Dodgers soon so we can overhaul the team, the pitching coach, and the front office.

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