Restoring the rosters: No. 2 – Los Angeles (NL)

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This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
No. 20 – New York (NL)
No. 19 – Houston
No. 18 – Oakland
No. 17 – St. Louis
No. 16 – Florida
No. 15 – San Francisco
No. 14 – Texas
No. 13 – Cleveland
No. 12 – Minnesota
No. 11 – Arizona
No. 10 – Los Angeles (AL)
No. 9 – Toronto
No. 8 – Boston
No. 7 – Colorado
No. 6 – Montreal/Washington
No. 5 – New York (AL)
No. 4 – Philadelphia
No. 3 – Atlanta
It’s finally time for what I viewed as the two powerhouse teams. While No. 1’s presence at the top of the rankings will probably come as a surprise to many, everyone should have known the Dodgers would rate highly, even if not one of their former Rookie of the Year winners is still in the league.
Rotation
Ted Lilly
Chad Billingsley
Clayton Kershaw
Edwin Jackson
Hiroki Kuroda
Bullpen
Joakim Soria
Jonathan Broxton
Ramon Troncoso
Pedro Feliciano
Takashi Saito
Hong-Chih Kuo
Chan Ho Park
With four guys who have pitched like All-Stars this year, this rates as the best rotation any team has produced. Kuroda is another above average starter for the fifth spot, and even if you didn’t want to include Japanese players in the rankings, you could just go ahead and plug in some guy named Pedro Martinez instead.
The bullpen also rates in the top three, thanks in large part to Soria’s presence. The Dodgers signed him out of Mexico in 2001, but he made just four appearances in Rookie ball for the team before getting hurt and eventually released.
Depth is an obvious strength as well. Missing out on spots were Cory Wade, Dennys Reyes, Wesley Wright, James McDonald and Eric Stults. No Eric Gagne either, of course.
Lineup
LF Shane Victorino
C Russell Martin
RF Matt Kemp
1B Paul Konerko
3B Adrian Beltre
CF Franklin Gutierrez
2B Willy Aybar
SS Alex Cora
Bench
1B James Loney
OF Delwyn Young
INF Andy LaRoche
C David Ross
INF Chin-Lung Hu
The lineup isn’t quite as strong, mostly because of the middle infield. Aybar can hit, but he’s a weak defensive second baseman. Cora lacks range at shortstop these days, and I’m not sure that Hu isn’t the better option there. There are also Ivan DeJesus Jr. and Devaris Gordon on the way, so things could get better at shortstop before long.
The outfield defense would be absolutely phenomenal. Gutierrez might well be the game’s best center fielder right now, and Victorino and Kemp both rate in the top 10 or so. I’d love to see what Lilly could do in front of that group.
Summary
The Dodgers produced five straight Rookies of the Year in the ’90s: Eric Karros, Mike Piazza, Raul Mondesi, Hideo Nomo and Todd Hollandsworth. All are out of the league now and the team hasn’t come up with one since, but obviously, the talent has continued to flow. Given the job done by the scouting department, it’s more than a little remarkable that the club went 19 years without winning a postseason series before advancing to the NLCS last year.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.