By: Andrew “Fish” Fain
Now is the winter of our discontent … made glorious summer by this acquiring a front line pitcher. So I took a few liberties from Richard III, but the sentiment in the same.
Since the team was eliminated too early from the post-season for the third straight year, you know something had to be done. What has been done is allowing the 2nd best pitcher on the staff, who is coming off one the best years a pitcher has ever had leave for Arizona. Meanwhile the Dodgers biggest rival the Giants, signed two very good pitchers in Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto, putting the Dodgers as the 3rd place team in the NL West.
Then the Cubs absolutely destroy the competition this winter by signing Jason Heyward, landing Ben Zobrist and trading for Adam Warren. In other moves not made by the Dodgers, Tigers sign Jordan Zimmerman, Red Sox sign David Price, D-Backs trade for Shelby Miller, Angels acquire Andrelton Simmons, and the Mets are able to land Neil Walker.
What have the Dodgers done, sign an injury prone 3rd starter for 3-year in Hisashi Iwakuma and re-upped with 2nd baseman Chase Utley. So the mandate to get younger and more athletic was not really the mantra this off-season I guess.
The only thing I can guess is that Andrew Friedman came from Tampa and Farhan Zaidi came from Oakland, where in both places they are taught the value of prospects over established stars who may cost more money. But the saying they need to learn is, “Prospects are cool, Parades are better”.
I realize that no team can continually survive with a payroll over $300 million, and that a lot of those really bad contracts (Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford) were not given out by the current regime. But I will say this, Ethier is a very useable piece (I will explain why a little later when I tell you how to fix this team), whereas I think it is time to just cut Carl Crawford loose. Nobody is going to take him, even if the Dodgers are willing to eat 80% of the contract, and it is a total shame as Crawford was one of the most dangerous weapons in baseball just 5 years ago.
In 2010, Crawford played in 154 games with over 600 plate appearances; hit .307 with 19 blasts, 90 driven in, 47 steals and a league leading 13 triples. But if you watched him at all in the post-season this year, he couldn’t even catch up to a mediocre fastball. Sadly, injuries and Father Time have caught up with Crawford and he is now much more of a hindrance than a help. He used to be one of my favorite players, and the few times I have talked with him, he has always been a class act, which makes it that much harder. But sometimes it is time to say goodbye. The Dodgers sources I have spoken to say the team is willing to eat almost $30 million of the $42 million he is still owed, and still can’t get a bite.
The Dodgers may have won the NL West three consecutive years, but in 2016 that streak is in serious jeopardy, especially if they keep going the same way they are this off-season. I realize they want to lower payroll, no they are not crying poor, but they also do not want to end up like the Yankees. They will spend if it is called for, but still, they would like the payroll closer to $200 million than $300 million.
I get the fact that they want to get younger and more athletic. I also see why people are upset that the team wouldn’t pay Zack Grienke until he is 37, but they were willing to pay Iwakuma until he was 37. Of course what is never mentioned when those people complain is that Iwakuma is making less than half of what Greinke is making, and that Iwakuma is only on a three year pact, while Greinke is a 6 year deal. That is not to say Greinke will not be missed, but the comparison is unfair.
Right now, this Dodger team sits behind the D-Backs, Giants, Cardinals, Cubs, Pirates, Mets and Nationals in the National League, which is something Dodger fans will not stand for. The 27 year World Series drought (while nothing for the Cubs), is something that is unacceptable for a team with the resources this team has.
Of course, in just four simple moves, this Dodgers team can be right in the thick of the race and be a favorite to win the NL West and make the World Series alongside the Cubs. Of course, it would mean parting with some of the prized prospects the Dodgers have in their system. But then again, proven players are worth a lot more than prospects.
So without further ado, here are the four moves the Dodgers should make to build this team back into the favorite, and of course a look at what the roster would look like when it is all done.
First, sign Alex Gordon to a 4 year $70 million contract. It will give the Dodgers the best fielding left fielder in the game and a guy who has not only proved he can hit in the clutch, but is a perfect two hitter.
Second, offer Grant Holmes, Chris Anderson, Austin Barnes, Scott Schebler and Zach Lee to the Reds for Aroldis Chapman and Todd Frazier. I realize the risk they would be taking with Chapman, but I believe not only is it worth it, but Chapman will be all he is cracked up to be. It will also give the Dodgers the 3rd baseman they haven’t had since Adrian Beltre. True, Grant Holmes is going to be a beast, Zach Lee is ready to take a 3 or 4 spot in the rotation, Barnes is the best catching prospect in the minors and will cover the Reds if Devin Mesoraco still has issues catching, Anderson is a flame thrower who could be a great bullpen arm and Scott Schebler will be a power hitter in the outfield.
Third move, send Yasiel Puig and Jharel Cotton to the Indians for Carlos Carrasco. Puig will give the Indians the outfielder with pop that they need, especially with Michael Brantley on the shelf until May or June. If anyone can get through to Puig, Terry Francona is probably the best bet. Cotton is a power arm that can help replace Carrasco in the rotation.
Finally the Dodgers can go one of two ways, either offer Julio Urias, Alex Verdugo, Ross Stripling and Walker Buehler to the Oakland A’s for Sonny Gray, which would give the Dodgers a perfect #2 to go behind Kershaw, and give the A’s the best pitching prospect in the minors in Urias, along with two other high ceiling pitchers (including one who helped Vanderbilt win the College World Series in 2014), and an outfielder in Verdugo who projects into a 20/80 guy with a solid arm and great base running instincts.
If Billy Beane doesn’t go for that, all the Dodgers have to do is call up Kenny Williams in Chicago and offer the same package to the White Sox for Chris Sale. I guarantee you that one of these two GM’s would jump at the chance to add a talent like Urias who may be as good as Gray or Sale, but is only 19 years old.
If the Dodgers made those moves, the minors would still be stocked with guys like Jose Deleon, Jose Peraza, Yadier Alvarez and Cody Bellinger among others. But more importantly, the big club would look like this:
A-Gone at first, move Justin Turner to his more natural position at second, Corey Seager at short and Todd Frazier at 3rd. The outfield would feature Alex Gordon in left, Joc Pederson in Center and Andre Ethier in right, with Yasmani Grandal behind the dish.
The bench would feature Scott Van Slyke, Chase Utley, Alex Guerrero, Carl Crawford and Enrique Hernandez.
As far as the rotation goes, not sure too many teams could beat Kershaw, Gray (or Sale), Carrasco, Wood and Anderson. Plus you still have Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy working their way back from injury.
The bullpen would feature Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman at the back end, with Chris Hatcher and JP Howell setting them up. Plus they have the live arms of Yimi Garcia, Pedro Baez, Carlos Frias, Adam Libatore and Luis Avilan to choose from.
That my friends, is a World Series contender, and a team others would not want to face. The payroll would actually be less than it was last season, and the team would be getting younger with some of the best arms in the game. With the way Billy Beane covets prospects, I do not see how he could turn down the package of prospects the Dodgers would offer for Sonny Gray. If the Indians really do not want to part with Carrasco, Danny Salazar would be a good fit too.
Now I have been talking to several people within the Dodgers organization, and all I can tell you is, some of what I have written here, is actually being discussed. The others are just the best way to finish what this front office appears like it is going to start, and a World Series trophy will be headed to Chavez Ravine.
This might seem blurry now… but this Thursday Night (12/17) at 7:30pm all things will be cleared up on FantasyJAM. wbad.net/rock