A Woeful April for the Dodgers in 2010

The Dodgers will have a lot of questions to answer at the end of the 2010 season. Among them are: What to do with the pitching staff; whether some of the guys in the bullpen are the guys they want; whether age (Casey Blake) and lack of power (James Loney) are the
answers at the corner infield spots; and how much they can open their wallets to secure some guys for many years, like Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.

Manny Photo by Icon SMI

But to me, the biggest question will be the one in left field when Manny Ramirez departs. What will the Dodgers do to replace the left fielder who might not be what he used to be, but can still hit and is an absolute presence in the lineup.

There are a bunch of options. Free agency (a fairly big splash) is the least likely of them and giving a prospect a shot doesn’t seem to be what this team will do. Going with a patchwork guy and claiming the young guys aren’t ready seems to be this team’s speed.

Let’s pretend, for a minute, that they will give a young guy a shot. Who will it be? Who should it be?

The most advanced guy is Xavier Paul. He has spent some time at the Major League level in each of the last two seasons, and he has spent most of the last two years at Triple-A.

Paul is 25, will be 26 when next season starts and he has proven he can hit at the Triple-A level. He hit .328 in 116 at-bats down there in 2009 and was hitting .361 in 61 at-bats this year.

He has all the tools, he has some power, but thus far has not shown the ability to hit at the Major League level. However, that sample size is way too small to pass judgment. He’s only got 34 at-bats (8 for 34, .235) in the Big League’s in his career. He needs a real look, and I think that he should get it next year.

The guy I had been rooting for, and the guy who was back on track, was Andrew Lambo. The 21-year old was hitting .342 at Double-A and could have be on his way to Triple-A soon, which could have put him in Los Angeles in 2011.

He was bouncing back quite nicely from a 2009 season that saw him hit just .256. Apparently, he can’t lay off the bong. According to Tony Jackson, of ESPN Los Angeles, all signs indicate it was marijuana.

So, his development has been stunted, and his chances of being the guy next year are gone. Now he has character issues, something the Dodgers don’t normally have with their prospects, so perhaps his future with the organization is in jeopardy.

One of the most confusing things about how the Dodgers are handling the development of prospects is why Kyle Russell is still at Class-A Advanced. He’ll be 24 in June, and was a college guy, and those guys that perform usually come fast.

He’s hitting .345 with four home runs currently for the Inland Empire 66’ers, and this is after hitting .272 with 26 bombs at Single-A last year.

Sure, he needs to cut down his strikeouts (180 last year, and 25 this year in 87 AB’s) but to not even be at Double-A is confusing. A big bat like that in 2011 is enticing, but not likely to happen considering he may not see Triple-A this year.

I remember seeing Trayvon Robinson play for Inland Empire in 2008 and I thought he’d never hit enough. Well, he hit .306 for the 66’ers last year, but only .246 at Double-A Chattanooga, and is only hitting .230 this year. I don’t think he’ll ever be a viable option despite being considered one of the top 10 prospects in the organization.

Carl Crawford Photo by Icon SMI

Carl Crawford is the big free agent prize this off-season, and in the midst of financial difficulties, it doesn’t seem like the Dodgers will be able to go after him. But who knows?

With a good portion of Manny Ramirez’ salary, along with most of Juan Pierre’s gone, the Dodgers could have the money. Hiroki Kuroda’s $13 mil and Vicente Padilla’s $5 mil will be gone as well, so perhaps the team can make a run.

They will have to address the starting pitching with some of that money (which is about $33 mil between the four players, according to my calculations) but there could be enough left over to sign the speedy left fielder.

If the team is looking to just fill the void for a year, there is Jerry Hairston Jr, Reed Johnson, Willie Harris, Austin Kearns, among several other guys who aren’t even good.

Let’s hope the team makes a run at Crawford, and if not, gives one of the youngsters a chance.

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  1. Lasorda for President

    May 6, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Would cheapskate McCourt make a free agent “splash?” No f’n way, he will hide behind the contract mistakes to Schmidt, Pierre, and Jones as reasons why free agents dont work…in fact beyond McCourt we have never fared well picking up the top OF on the free agent market…i.e. Strawberry and EDavis snorting too much coke while they were in LA LA land. The money saved from Kuroda, Pierre, Manny, Padilla should come close to 30-40mil, we have very little committed past 2012 and it would be hard to justify that we couldnt afford it. We still have 20mil off the books from last year that Frank chose to spend on his divorce hearing rather than put it back into the team. Frank is looking to drop this team to mid-market to save money.

    Would Crawford look sexy in LA…yes, but I’m not going to pray to God each night that he can grant Ned some balls, and Frank a brain…won’t happen.

    Bigger problem than LF is our starting rotation which looks to bring a struggling Bills and Kershaw back who so far are regressing and arent ready to lead a staff…either one. Kuroda is leaving and we this is one time I’m happy Frank cant pay 10mil to resign him. Ned hasnt caught any free agency bargain bin lightning this year…there goes that strategy…good thing not resigning Garland or Wolf cause they arent playing better than Padilla or whomever throws the fifth time…oh wait.

    I felt this past offseason that if Frank really cant offord this team and wont let go, then as a die hard dodger fan there is only one solution…I dont like it but how do we cash in on the talent we have now that can win but keep payroll low enough for a couple years that Frank can start spending like a big market team like Baltimore! 80mil for a last place team? We lower payroll by dealing our talent and trading them for prospects.

    Trading Ethier, Broxton, Martin, Bills and Loney will drop our payroll to 40-50mil a year and we keep Kemp and Kershaw as center pieces of our rebuild…we keep a low payroll for 2-3 years giving Frank a chance to cash in or pay off debts and rebuild around 2 of the best young players in the game. Broxton and Ethier will bring in 3-4 legit starting prospects for the team and Martin Bills and Loney should be able to put our farm system back on top…

    My only goal is to win ONE world series…I dont care about a dynasty that doesnt exist, the current plan isnt going to do anything but keep some butts in the seats hoping for a miracle that wont happen.

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