Friday, July 22, 2005


The Entire NL West Should Wave White Flags

Before winning the last 2 games, LA was 8.5 games behind 1st place San Diego and 8.5 games infront of last place Colorado. Talk about mediocrity. If it weren't for the non-strike call on Phillips' checked swing, the team would have lost six straight right after the All-Star Break.

Yet LA is still in the race, thanks to the ineptitude of the other teams. San Diego just got swept by the Mets, getting embarrassed yesterday despite having Peavy on the mound. Kudos to Kaz Ishii for pitching as if his former team is still paying for some of his contract. Come to think of it... never mind.

The Dodgers are somehow 6.5 games out of 1st place despite continually shooting themselves in the foot.

The annual rumor mill before the non-waiver trading deadline is now in full gear. It seems as if A. J. Burnett and Adam Dunn will be joining every contending team. Dunn's name has often been linked with LA. He's a scary slugger, but the steep cost in terms of young talent (Billingsley, LaRoche, more?) might not be worthwhile in the long run. Especially if Dunn doesn't sign a reasonable contract to cover some of his free agency years.

Besides, the reinforcements are on their way as Bradley and Valentin are both undergoing rehab assignments. Bradley's the largest piece of the puzzle that's been missing during the extended slide. His presense may mean about a 1/2 a run per game better than a scrub replacement player like Chen. The team has truly missed Bradley's bat in the #3 spot.

As for Valentin, at the very least he lengthens the lineup. The problem is getting him at-bats after his extended absense, as Robles has so far exceeded expectations (albeit not very high) in filling 3B. The year-long search for a 3rd baseman since Beltre's departure has netted an excess of temporary fill-ins, each one somehow imperfect. Somebody out of Valentin/Perez/Robles/Saenz/Edwards is trade bait. Beware, Neifi Perez and Cristian Guzman!

The list of prized minor leaguers who must be protected on the 40 man roster from the Rule 5 draft this winter is long, as LaRoche, Loney, Miller, Broxton, and others now must join that list. No one out of this prized group is "untouchable", but it's difficult to imagine trading the blue chippers for a player whose skill level is only marginally better than the incumbent, when fully healthy.

The following is a summary of what I consider the current roster's strengths and weaknesses.

Curent excess:
The wealth of middle infielders masquerading as 3B
Some payroll space for 2005 and beyond
Pitching prospects

Temporary needs:
A rental power bat in the corner outfield

Needs beyond 2005:
A real 3B
1B or a platoonmate for Choi

Weaver, Valentin, and Saenz are veterans whose contracts expire this year and are thus expendable as long as their roles, especially Weaver's, are assumed by someone else. Newbies such as Robles or Antonio Perez might be worth more to other teams looking for a young and cheap everyday player. Then there are the older prospects such as Hanrahan who could lose their spots on the 40 man roster as younger prospects grab the spotlight.

Only a few of these names carry much trade value, so the players obtained in return might be mere stopgaps to fill the temporary holes in the roster. Such a trade is what I would call a "horizontal" trade; deal away from your strength to address a weakness without burning up the farm system.

In a way, the LoDuca trade last year was a horizontal trade. Neither team dumped blue chip prospects in order to improve the major league roster. Instead, both teams addressed weaknesses by trading from depth. Mota was expendable as LA was bullpen-rich, and Penny was likewise expendable as FLA was SP-rich. Florida needed a catcher and a future closer, and LA needed an ace and a ... catcher when Charles Johnson declined to waive his no-trade clause without an extension. Anyway, major prospects were not sacrificed for short term gain.

So I would not be surprised if DePodesta pulls off a similar trade or two while preserving the farm system. He'll have to be creative again - a 3 way trade netting a struggling 3B like Lowell at a much discounted price would not surprise me.

Nice analysis. I see the Dodgers as buyers and I agree that Depo will probably add a power outfield bat (solid but not a superstar) and this player is someone who is off the radar mediawise at the moment --- someone who will be more than a half season rental because of our lack of outfield prospects. Werth and Ledee (if not traded) can platoon the remaining outfield spot until Drew returns.

I don't see Depo going after a thirdbasebman. Robles is working out, and from a purely offensive standpoint, Kent is our thirdbaseman and Robles is our secondbaseman; they just happen to switch positions on the field for some crazy reason. ;)
Today was a tough day to be a dodger fan. MB is back, the bats were going, even the rule 5 5th starter was OK. Then Tracy abuses the pen and the lead is lost.

I don't think this is the year of the blue. Hopefully Depo will trade with the future in mind and use this year's performance as the excuse to fire Tracy.

BTW, rumors are that the Mets are interested in O. Perez. Though they'd never give him up, they certainly have a nice, young, cheap 3B.
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anon, i guess i'm a little biased when it comes to 3B. robles has been great for a month with the bat and glove, but i just can't picture him continuing to hit .330. i hope he proves me wrong...

slack, i can't put much credence in OP taken by the mets. they have about 7 starters when trachsel comes back, and they have bigger needs at 1B, 2B, and bullpen.

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