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.

Report: Major League Baseball bans transactions with Mexican League teams

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Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Major League Baseball has banned all transactions with Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (LMB), popularly known as the Mexican League. As of now, all 30 teams are prohibited from signing players under contract with LMB teams. The ban was issued due to Major League Baseball’s contention that “corruption” and “fraud” run rampant in the player acquisition process.

Passan describes the issues in detail, and they sound pretty compelling. The upshot: LMB clubs — which have full control over their players — are taking advantage of them, taking most if not all of the signing bonuses MLB teams give them after negotiating for their rights. Mexican teams often sign players when they’re 15 years-old so that, once they are old enough for American teams to approach them, they’re in the position to take a usurious cut.

Passan says Major League Baseball is demanding greater transparency from LMB before it’s willing to lift the ban. He also says that the MLBPA is in “lockstep” with Major League Baseball on the matter, which makes sense given that, if MLB’s claims are accurate, players are being exploited here. He also says that if LMB does not change its ways, there is a “Plan B,” though it’s not clear what that is.

There aren’t a ton of Mexican players signed by MLB teams each year, but there are enough to make this a significant issue that is worth watching.