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…
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.
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
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.