The Dodgers and Angels are strapped

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Mike DiGiovanna and Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times write that both the Dodgers and the Angels are limited in what they can do this offseason due to payroll restrictions.  The Angels have roughly $12 million to work with.  The Dodgers have their own problems of course, but even if you don’t look at the McCourt drama, they have a handful of players — Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Chad Billingsley, Russell Martin, James Loney, Jonathan Broxton, George Sherrill and Hong-Chih Kuo — who are due for raises heading into 2010 which could jack the payroll by $20 million before they even sign anyone to fill the holes they have.

Upshot: if the Angels have any hope of retaining their big free agents, it will have to be with backloaded deals.  If the Dodgers are going to make any real changes, it will be via bargain hunting.  The way things sit right now, neither team seems poised to actually improve in 2010.

Which means that if I were running the Giants, Mariners, Rockies or the Rangers, I’d think long and hard about going for broke this winter and making a deal that could be the equivalent of stepping on the L.A. teams’ throats.

Yasmani Grandal played himself out of NLCS Game 4

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Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal has not had a good postseason. Entering Monday night’s NLCS Game 3, he was batting .111/.238/.278 in 21 trips to the plate across the NLDS and the first two games of the NLCS.

Defense has also been an issue for Grandal. In Game 1 of the NLCS, Grandal was on the hook for two passed balls. In the sixth inning of Game 3 Monday night, he couldn’t corral a curve in the dirt, which allowed Travis Shaw to score the Brewers’ second run of the night. Starter Walker Buehler was charged with a wild pitch. In the eighth, with Ryan Braun on first base and Shaw at the plate, Grandal again couldn’t corral a pitch in the dirt, allowing Braun to move to second base. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Alex Wood was able to escape the inning with no damage.

Manager Dave Roberts said that Austin Barnes, not Grandal, will start behind the plate for Game 4 on Tuesday night, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. That comes as no surprise at all. When Grandal struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, Dodger fans regaled him with boos.

Barnes will be an upgrade defensively, but he’s lacking with the bat. He had an 0-for-3 performance in Game 2, though with an RBI, bringing his career slash line in the playoffs to .200/.281/.300 across 57 plate appearances. During the regular season, his career 100 adjusted OPS is a fair bit behind Grandal’s 115. Roberts is trading offense for defense in Game 4. Rich Hill will get the start opposite the Brewers’ Gio González.