Saturday, September 25, 2010

2 comments Bill Plaschke Suggests a Dodgers Makeover...Few Are Impressed

It's been a while since I have covered a Bill Plaschke article. July 16 to be exact. That is a long time for me to have laid off Plaschke because his rate of terribleness-to-article-written is among the highest in the United States. Today, I will rectify this egregious error. Bill Plaschke thinks the Dodgers need a makeover and fortunately for the Ned Colletti, who I am sure listens to everything Bill Plaschke suggests, he does have some suggestions. Mostly, he would like to keep the team like it is...but still change things.

With no money, no closer and no clubhouse leader, the team could go from bad to worse next year. GM Ned Colletti needs to make some quick, cheap, decisive moves.

That's what Plaschke wants to see. There are three aspects to the moves he will suggest. Let's break them down very briefly:

Quick moves: Sign free agents before the free agency period actually starts. Made trades and violate MLB rules that players have to pass through waivers before they can be traded to another team.

Cheap moves: Sign players very cheaply. If a player wants 3 years at $12 million, trick him into signing a cheaper contract and have an attorney ready to battle it out.

Decisive moves: Don't quickly sign a player and then release him the next day. Try to ensure all big-name players signed are still on the team for Spring Training.

Mostly, Bill Plaschke thinks the Dodgers need new players on the team because the current make-up of this Dodgers team isn't going to work. By "new players" he means "re-sign many of the players currently on the team and then increase payroll."

When Torre made that pronouncement at Friday's changing-of-the-poor-slob-who-has-to-manage-the-Dodgers ceremony, he didn't act like he was leaving a sacred dugout, but a burning building.

He is 70 years old (Is he really that old?) and he saw Lou Piniella announce he was retiring at the end of the year and then get worn down by the Cubs losing and clubhouse issues, so he just left mid-season. Can we blame Torre that much? I do have to say, if Torre writes a book about his time with the Dodgers and throws the players, management and everyone else under the bus, then we may find out if I was right in the late 90's when I thought he was an asshole.

(Of course I thought he was an asshole because he kept beating the Braves in the World Series and the Yankees were insufferable to me at that point. Now he would be an asshole because he writes book and burns bridges in those books. Intent for calling someone an asshole doesn't really matter does it? I'm still right if Torre writes a book called "The Dodgers Years" and talks about he never wanted Manny Ramirez on the team and Matt Kemp was too wrapped up in dating pop-stars to improve his baseball game.)

You know it's bad when a guy who managed a dozen years for George Steinbrenner's team can't stand one more minute with yours.

Again, he is 70. Feelings change over time and the things a person can put up with over time change.

You think this Dodger season has been lousy? You haven't seen anything yet.

The veterans have faded. The kids have stalled. The stadium is booing. The owner is broke. That rumbling you hear is not the cavalry, but the cellar, growling underneath a team whose final game this autumn will not stop its precipitous drop toward last place.

"The owner is broke." Remember that statement in regard to the Dodgers' payroll for 2011.

I think these statements sufficiently establish that Bill Plaschke doesn't care for the players on this team and what keeping these players on the team would encompass...which is an immediate free fall to last place in the NL West...which is also where the Dodgers are this year.

Less than one year after being perhaps a couple of Jonathan Broxton strikes from reaching the World Series, the Dodgers are the length of one Ryan Theriot bunt from being one of the worst teams in baseball next season.

Sounds to me like that Ryan Theriot trade is on Ned Colletti. For some reason, Plaschke doesn't blame Colletti in this entire article. He talks about how the players at nearly every position aren't very good, but acts like Colletti has always been handicapped by the payroll and never mentions that its possible Colletti hasn't done a bang-up job.

Until owner Frank McCourt finally sells, bringing in new money and fresh hope, they will probably remain that way.

This is the one statement in this column I will agree with. Though I will, again, put the finger on Ned Colletti. If Plaschke has a problem with the current team, that may be on Colletti more than McCourt.

If Friday was a day to recognize Mattingly as the Dodgers' manager for 2011, then Saturday was a day to start feeling sorry for him. For him to have a chance with this mess, he needs to change his nickname to Donnie Miracle.

(Bill Plaschke starts calling comedy troupes looking for a job and samples this joke for them. The receptionist every place he calls immediately hangs up the phone)

Money might fix it, but McCourt has little. Prospects of high value might fix it, but the farm system has few.

The Dodgers could fix this by trading players like Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier for prospects of high value. I am not advocating this, but it would bring in high value prospects and save money.

(spoiler alert) Bill Plaschke will reject this idea. He wants the team to have more money and more high level prospects, but he doesn't think the Dodgers should trade more expensive established players for prospects with high value that are cheaper. He wants the Dodgers to trade their established players for other established players, who possibly cost as much money as the players being traded away.

Start with the starting pitching. It's good, but it's going to get worse.

The only two guys guaranteed to be back next year are Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley,

That is not a bad thing since these two pitchers also happen to have the most talent on the entire pitching staff and very well could be the two best pitchers on the staff right now as well.

as Vicente Padilla, Ted Lilly and Hiroki Kuroda are all free agents.

Bill Plaschke wants the Dodgers to save some money, so losing two expensive pitchers seems to be a fairly good way to do that. Not re-signing these guys would meet the criteria for the Dodgers needing to be cheaper.

(another spoiler alert) Bill Plaschke says the starting staff will get worse, but yet he advocates the Dodgers sign two of these three free agent pitchers.

Move to the infield. There is no catcher,

Russell Martin made $5.05 million this year. I would imagine they could replace his production at a cheaper price than that. There you go, I just saved the Dodgers more money. I just think logically if a person thinks a team needs to start over, then losing these expensive under-performing players, like Martin, isn't a bad thing.

first baseman Loney doesn't have enough power in this lineup, second baseman Ryan Theriot is a complementary piece, shortstop Rafael Furcal can't stay healthy, and third baseman Blake is finally showing his age.

Somewhere in here, you would think that Bill Plaschke would blame Ned Colletti. Furcal has never been able to stay healthy, everyone knew Theriot was just a complementary piece when they traded with the Cubs for him this year, and Casey Blake did not have a fake birth certificate that stated he was 29 years old when the Dodgers signed him to a 3 year/$17.5 million contract through 2011 so the team knew how old he was. Shouldn't some of the blame fall on the doorstep of Ned Colletti? Plaschke never actually points the blame that way and it confuses me.

Now for the outfield. Andre Ethier has regressed in right field, Matt Kemp remains an enigma in center field,

Ethier was injured this year for a time and he didn't regress much at all. Plus he is 28 years old and is fairly affordable. Ethier in no way should be replaced in right field by the Dodgers.

Matt Kemp is 25 years old and did regress this year. I can't imagine why Bill Plaschke would list Kemp and Ethier as parts of the problem with the Dodgers team. He seems to indicate he thinks the team should get rid of them.

and they really don't have a left fielder who fits.

They don't have one right now, but remember the There is time to get a LF, especially with Lilly, Kuroda, Martin, and Ramirez's contract coming off their books. I know money is scarce, but the Dodgers can afford to get a LF that "fits," whatever that means, as long as they don't spend a shitload of money in other places.

Finally, the bullpen, which would be great, except it has no closer and three setup guys and blown leads everywhere.

I wouldn't give up on Jonathan Broxton quite yet. Closers and set up guys can be inconsistent as it is anyway. One year they may be great, the next year, maybe they will be bad. There is time to fix this.

So what is a harried general manager to do?

Make better personnel moves?

"We're not talking about a core group that has not been successful, because they have," Colletti said. "It's too early to say that the struggles will continue. I can't say that. I'm not going to blow this up."

Probably a smart move. Obviously adjustments need to be made though.

Translated: "I don't have any money to do anything big, so I'm going to have to work with what I've got, so chill out and let me figure out how to reach them, OK?"

Translation for what Bill Plaschke is saying: "I like Ned Colletti, so I am going to list all of the personnel moves he made and then act as if this whole problem isn't because of him at all and try to make it look like the team needs to get blown up, just without getting blown up."

Bill is treading a thin line by complaining about the players at every position, but not blaming the General Manager for signing/trading for those players.

The first item on his winter list will be Matt Kemp. Everyone around town wants him traded. Everyone in baseball wants to trade for him.

Don't pull that trigger, Ned.

Just a couple of paragraphs ago, Bill Plaschke had complaints about Matt Kemp. Now, he wants to keep him.

This is the worst time to trade him. You won't get full value for him. You've endured what is surely the worst of his immaturity. Stick with him long enough to enjoy his adulthood.

So wait until Matt Kemp is an important and productive part of the team and then trade him? I agree the Dodgers wouldn't get full value for Matt Kemp, but after calling Kemp "an enigma" how does Plaschke know Kemp will improve?

The same goes for Andre Ethier, whose biggest enemy remains his own perfectionist personality. He should also grow out of his inconsistency.

I don't even understand this. I would take Ethier on the Braves in a heartbeat (not in place of Jason Heyward).

So if you can't trade your two best young hitters, how do you get better?

That's what I am wondering. What are you getting at Plaschke?

You look at moving guys who can be replaced. You look at moving Loney, who may have reached his power potential and would be outstanding on a team with other sluggers.

So you trade the players that have lesser trade value, which also means the Dodgers will less value in return for the player? Also, how does Loney all of a sudden become a great player on a team full of sluggers? He is still a first baseman without a lot of power. That doesn't change because the players around him can hit home runs. Perhaps if a lack of home runs in the lineup around him is the issue, James Loney isn't the problem for the Dodgers.

The Dodgers would also essentially be selling low on Loney, which is what Plaschke advised against in the case of Matt Kemp.

You look at moving former closer Broxton, whose shattered confidence isn't helped by the fact that he is now being jeered with nearly every pitch.

This should be simple as well. This is another case of the Dodgers selling low on a 26 year old who has shown he can be an elite closer in the majors. It makes no sense to sell low on him just because he had a bad year. How can Plaschke justify not selling low on Matt Kemp, but selling low on Jonathan Broxton?

Has Plaschke ever heard of Brad Lidge? He had a bad year as well and now he isn't that shabby of a closer. Closers can have bad years for no reason at times, just like they can have good years for no good reason.

You use both of them, and more, in a trade for a power-hitting first baseman or third baseman.

So Bill Plaschke thinks another team will trade for a struggling closer who has lost his confidence and a non-power hitter in James Loney (those are not my words, but what Plaschke thinks about these two guys) in return for a power-hitting first baseman or third baseman? I would be interested to know what team would make this trade. Power-hitting first basemen and third basemen don't come along that often, at least quality power-hitting first basemen and third basemen a team would want to put in the #4/#5 spot in the lineup don't.

You sign a free-agent outfielder in your only big winter expenditure.

The big expenditure other than the two starting pitchers Plaschke will suggest the Dodgers sign.

How about this idea: The Dodgers sign Adam Dunn to play first base (I know he sucks defensively, but he does have power), put Ethier in LF (which is a position he has played before), and put Loney in RF (which is a position he has played) and then sign a free agent third baseman.

It is an out-of-the-box idea at least. It puts Loney in a more powerful lineup which makes him an outstanding player. Granted, this probably isn't the best idea, but it also involves making the lineup stronger while not trading Loney and Broxton when their value isn't at the highest. If the team needs a middle-of-the-order hitter, then Dunn is that guy.

You bring back Lilly and Kuroda.

Well, naturally for the reason that this move doesn't meet the criteria to be "quick," or "cheap." Neither Ted Lilly or Kuroda are going to be cheap to bring back to the Dodgers at all and they probably won't sign very quickly (at least Lilly probably won't) until the market has been set. Lilly will probably want something in the neighborhood of what Randy Wolf got, which was $9 million per year and Kuroda will most likely want something in that neighborhood. That's two pitchers for $18-$20 million, plus the expensive bat to put in LF. Signing these two pitchers is eating a lot of what losing Manny Ramirez and Russell Martin gained the Dodgers.

And, then, as important as all of that, you find a leader. You find a guy unafraid to stare down, scare down, and even throw down with one of his younger teammates. You find a guy who will not let them whine. You find a guy who will not let them wilt.

And again, these types of players are just so easy to find. I know a way! Sign Derek Jeter and move Furcal to third or second base. That will fix the problem of finding a leader! I am sure Jeter only wants $20 million per year or something, that shouldn't be a problem.

"'Do we have one player in there who stands up and says, 'Follow me?' " asked Colletti. "No."

Says the guy who built this team. I wonder, other than Ned Colletti, who in the past would have been responsible for finding this type of player and signing them to play for the Dodgers? Probably not Ned Colletti, the General Manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

On Saturday morning before another loss against the hard-charging Colorado Rockies, the clubhouse was deadly silent. At this rate, it could be a couple of years before we hear from it again.

Which is why Bill Plaschke essentially wants to keep the same team on the field for next year as was on the field this year or increase a payroll to a point the Dodgers may not be able to increase payroll. Let's look at his proposed changes that would keep the Dodgers from being in the basement again, as compared to this year's Dodgers team. Notice how the team isn't that different and the payroll would be increased:

(I got all information from Cot's Baseball Contracts and I am not including bench players in this discussion, but only including the parts of the team that Bill Plaschke suggested get replaced and gave all arbitration eligible players a 25% increase in salary, which may be inaccurate, but shouldn't throw the numbers way off)

2010 rotation:

Clayton Kershaw- $0.4 million
Chad Billingsley- $3.9 million
Hiroki Kuroda- $15.4 million
Ted Lilly- $13 million (I know the Dodgers didn't pay this much for him, but this is how much his salary was last year)
Vincente Padilla- $5.0 million

Closer: Jonathan Broxton- $4 million

Set up guys:
Hong Chih-Kuo- $0.9 million
Ronald Belisario- $0.4 million
George Sherrill- $4.5 million

Bill Plaschke's Proposed 2011 Rotation:

Clayton Kershaw- $0.5 million
Chad Billingsley- $4.8 million
Hiroki Kuroda- $10.0 million
Ted Lilly- $10.0 million
?????- ?????

Closer: ?????-?????

Set up guys:
Hong Chih-Kuo- $1.2 million
Ronald Belisario- $0.4 million
George Sherrill- $5.6 million

2010 Pitching Payroll: $47.5 million

2011 Proposed Payroll: $32.5 million

Remaining needs: Now they need to sign a closer and a starting pitcher with $15 million. This could probably be done.

2010 Lineup:

C: Russell Martin- $5.1 million
1B: James Loney- $3.1 million
2B: Ryan Theriot- $2.6 million
3B: Casey Blake- $6.0 million
SS: Rafael Furcal- $9.5 million
RF: Andre Ethier- $6 million
CF: Matt Kemp- $4 million
LF: Manny Ramirez- $20 million

Bill Plaschke's Proposed 2011 Lineup:

C: Rod Barajas/Platoon catcher- $1 million/?????
1B: Power hitting middle of the order hitter/?????-
2B: Ryan Theriot- $3.3 million
3B: ?????/Power hitting middle of the order hitter/Casey Blake- ?????/$5.3 million
SS: Rafael Furcal- $13 million
RF: Andre Ethier- $9.3 million
CF: Matt Kemp- $6.9 million
LF: Expensive free agent- ?????

2010 Hitting Payroll- $56.3 million

2011 Proposed Payroll (w/ Casey Blake at 3B)- $38.8 million

Remaining needs: The Dodgers will need to trade for the power-hitting first/third baseman, sign a backup catcher, and sign an expensive left fielder for $17.5 million. I'm not so sure this could be done.

Remember this is just to keep the payroll at the same level it was in 2010, which isn't guaranteed because Frank McCourt has wanted to cut payroll before and with the legal woes of the McCourts the Dodgers may not have the same payroll in 2011 they had in 2010.

The Dodgers can probably re-sign Lilly and Kuroda, but will that leave them enough money to get a closer, pay for the power-hitting 1B, and then sign an expensive LF? I'm not so sure.

So one of two things will happen:

1. The Dodgers are able to do this (somehow) and improve their team. I don't think this is likely. If they are able to do Plaschke's plan, which I doubt, they would probably be a better team. I still wouldn't trade Broxton and Loney though.

2. The Dodgers will not be able to sign an expensive LF or a reliable closer (especially given the reported money woes they will have) and will have basically made a trade off between the upgrade at 1B/3B and keeping the status quo at starting pitcher and creating new holes on the roster. Then Casey Blake would keep playing 3B, one of the unreliable set up guys will have to be the closer, and they will have to find a LF that probably isn't of the standard the Dodgers want.

Essentially, the Dodgers would end up with the same roster that Bill Plaschke went position-by-position and ranted against. If it isn't the same roster, it isn't a much better roster than the Dodgers currently have. I think the Dodgers are still not a bad team, they just had a bad year. I would stick with Kemp, Ethier, and Loney, and use the money they save in having Kuroda, Martin and Ramirez off the books to upgrade in left field and at second base. For a team that seems to be think it will have a tighter budget in the future, I am not sure Bill Plaschke's team makeover is realistic.


rich said...

You look at moving guys who can be replaced. .

But don't let them leave in free agency! They're only replaceable if they're traded.

You bring back Lilly and Kuroda.

Lilly has all but said he's going back to the Cubs. It's why that trade was epically retarded to begin with.

I'd give Colletti a pass, but Lilly said this before he got traded for.

You sign a free-agent outfielder in your only big winter expenditure

One of the top prospects the Dodgers had was Andrew Lambo. A fucking LF... who was traded to Pittsburgh...

They also have a SS at AA who is pretty good, so they could move Furcal to third, call up the new guy to play SS and then have Blake fill in when Furcal is hurt.

I mean, you can't get cheaper than minor league call ups, so why the hell didn't Plaschke take 10 minutes to research the Dodger's prospects?

Bengoodfella said...

Also, if the Dodgers have such a bad lineup wouldn't the replaceable guys be the ones who probably are going to make it tough to get traded? Is Loney replaceable, or does Plaschke just think the Dodgers can trade for someone better?...but has no proof of this. That's my issue. Is what he saying to do an upgrade?

Lilly may go back to the Cubs, but Kuroda is going home to play again I hear. So maybe the Dodgers will have plenty of money b/c they won't even have a shot at signing those two.

I can deal w/ a big LF expenditure, but Ryan Theriot is a much more valuable utility guy than he is a starter. The Dodgers have options, but Plaschke wants to improve the team by making the team more bloated. He doesn't want to trade Kemp after a down year, but he is perfectly willing to trade Broxton and Loney after down years. I don't get it.