Pull up a chair and come sit down at our Lasorda’s Lair roundtable discussion. This new column will feature a different discussion topic each time which our writing staff will have the opportunity to address individually. We also would like for you to participate by answering the roundtable question in the comments below.
Question: What is the best move (or even non-move) the Dodgers have made this offseason?
Kenny Shulsen, Sr. Staff Writer– This is a tough one for me. Originally I thought it was Brian Wilson, coming off his 2nd year of Tommy John surgery I expect him to regain his mid to high 90’s velocity, but what was more impressive about him was losing that velocity forced him to learn how to pitch. Adding a cutter to his arsenal made him even tougher to hit and essentially gives the Dodgers 2 closers, meaning a lead in the 8th inning equals game over. However, the most important signing has to be Juan Uribe. He was phenomenal defensively last year, and of course he hit the huge HR in the NLDS. What makes his signing so important is the lack of quality third-basemen that were on the market. Had the Dodgers not signed Uribe they would have had to dip into the farm system to make a trade, something they have thankfully refused to do. My only concern is Uribe won’t be playing for a new contract, so will we see the Uribe of 2011-2012 who did virtually nothing, or will we see the Uribe of 2013. One other huge factor in his favor is his presence in the clubhouse, particularly when it comes to mentoring Yasiel Puig, you cannot put a value on what he brings in that regard. The Dodgers have had a fabulous off-season with the only concern being the lack of a solid Utility guy and what happens if Guerrero isn’t ready to play 2B at the MLB level. Something tells me Ned & Co. aren’t done adding to an already incredibly talented roster.
Adrian Garcia, Staff Writer– Best move the Dodgers made (or didn’t make?), that’s an easy one, Ricky Nolasco. Clearly Ricky Nolasco wanted to be here, he’s an LA kid, and it’s been mentioned by Vin on television in 2012 that Nolasco wanted to be a Dodger. Growing up a fan of the Dodgers, he finally got his dream in 2013 pitching for a playoff team for the first time, and down the stretch Nolasco performed admirably putting up a 3.52 ERA in 15 starts with a 7.76 K/9 and a 2.17 BB/9. Fangraphs loves Nolasco, they think he’s an acceptable #2 starter according to WAR as evidenced by his 5 consecutive seasons of + 2.0 fWAR, as high as 4.1 in 2009. So if you present a pitcher with Nolasco’s numbers without the name and only show the FIP, xFIP (both of which use strikeouts, bases on balls, and home runs to measure a pitcher’s true performance), and fWAR (which is based off of FIP), you’ll see a strong #2 starter. Unfortunately, this is a case where sabermetrics don’t tell the true story.
Nolasco’s stuff is quite frankly, mediocre. There’s a reason his BABIP, Home Run per Fly Ball, and Left On Base% are so bad, his mediocre stuff doesn’t allow for him to be a great pitcher. FIP would make it seem like he has a chance, but realistically he doesn’t. He just doesn’t have the stuff to have a chance in these categories. There’s nothing wrong with the pitcher Nolasco is, but when people talk about a 4 year 49 year million dollar deal for a back end starter, it’s ridiculous.
A Kershaw extension, Brian Wilson contract, Dan Haren‘s deal could get nominations, but my favorite move of the offseason was one they didn’t make.
Julian Lopez, Staff Writer– For me, the best move the Dodgers made this offseason was giving Don Mattingly an extension. We all saw how awkward that news conference was in late October when Mattingly felt that the Dodgers organization didn’t have faith in him and he was right for feeling this way. After all, he completely turned around a team and did a great job of working with Yasiel Puig and yet, the Dodgers still didn’t give him an extension. Mattingly is loved in the clubhouse and if he would have left, I think a large number of players would have been upset. Mattingly knows that he is under pressure to win a championship very soon and has learned from his mistakes that he made in the past and is a better coach and the right guy for the Dodgers.
Lucas Talbot, Staff Writer– The best move of this offseason was the Clayton Kershaw extension.
Clayton Kershaw signed a 7 year deal for $215 million this winter with Dodgers. Kershaw, who is only 25, just won his 2nd CY Young award in three years. This deal was a win-win deal for both sides because one, the Dodgers were able to secure the best starting pitcher around the MLB. Two, the Dodgers made a very underrated deal with Kershaw, who could have got more than $ 215 million. And three, Kershaw gets the long term security and money that he deserves. If you think about it, Kershaw, who could have taken more money, but he wanted to do what was best for the team, which was to take less money. The Dodgers could use the money left to get the players that is the right fit for the team and make a run for a ring. It goes to show that Clayton Kershaw is a true team player.
Stacie Wheeler, Editor- I have to agree with Lucas on this one. The best offseason move the Dodgers made this winter was to sign Clayton Kershaw to an extended contract. If the Dodgers had failed to come to an agreement with their prized ace pitcher, the rumor mill would have continued throughout the season causing an unwanted subconscious tension for Kershaw, the Dodgers, and the fans. Even though Kershaw is as focused as they come, there’s no need to add a layer of uncertainty and even possible stress to the two-time Cy Young Award’s workload. Kershaw should only have one thing on his mind when on the mound- pitching. The fans would have also worried that they would lose Kershaw to free agency after the 2014 season while fans from opposing teams salivated in hope that they could possibly land Kershaw. With Kersh and Don Mattingly secured a long-term deal with the Dodgers, there will be no distractions.
Scott Andes, Editor- For me, I think the best move the Dodgers have made this offseason, (besides extending Kershaw, which is obvious), was the move to resign lefty J..P. Howell. That move was imperative to the success of the Dodger bullpen. Howell was outstanding last season in all ways, and with the inexperience of Paco , bringing back Howell was a necessity.