Part three of the series, I take a look at my perfect Dodgers offseason.
The dreaded offseason. Every die hard baseball fan knows about the struggle the offseason provides, from not being able to see your favorite team and players take the field every day, to all the trades and front office changes. The Dodgers have already begun the major changes in the offseason. Though the roster has not yet changed much, with the new addition of Dave Roberts to the Managerial position, it is clear in 2016 Andrew Freidman and Farhan Zaidi are going for a whole new blue. In order for the Dodgers to have a successful offseason in my opinion, they will have to do a lot more than just changing the coaching staff.
The first area that needs to be addressed is starting pitching. It is clear that Clayton Kershaw is the ace on the team and rightfully so. While a team can make a World Series run in a number of ways, it would feel a whole lot better for the Dodgers to enter 2016 with a second ace behind Kershaw. I think I speak for every Dodger fan when it comes to Zack Greinke. Please pay the man! Zack has been the perfect pitcher to follow up Kershaw. Together they are the 1-2 punch the Dodgers need to win essential games. Not many teams can say their second starting pitcher in the rotation finished the year with a record of 19-3, an ERA of 1.66 and a WHIP of only 0.84. Moving forward Zack is a key piece the Dodgers need to secure in their rotation.
I still do not believe that is enough. The remaining third spot in the rotation is likely to go to Hyun-jin Ryu, but Ryu missed practically the entire 2015 season after having shoulder surgery on May 21.He is a huge wild card and it is going to be hard to predict the success he may have on the mound going forward after taking a spot on the bench for so long.
All that being said, there are some big free agents on the market. Earlier this week one of the biggest names, David Price, was taken off that list when he signed with the Red Sox for $217 million over seven years. That only puts more pressure on the Dodgers’ front office to pay Greinke top dollar and to find another pitcher close to that caliber.
The best thing the Dodgers can do in my opinion is to sign Greinke and look for some lower caliber pitchers to fill the remaining rotation spots after Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood, Brett Anderson, Hyun-jin Ryu, and maybe Brandon McCarthy. Spend the big money on securing Greinke then keep the rest to put towards the bullpen.
Oh yes, the bullpen or as many Dodger fans “lovely” adopted the nickname of the “blowpen”. Which speaks for itself. It is tough to see 7 brilliant innings worked by Clayton Kershaw only to see someone like Pedro Baez come in and blow the game.
Kenley Jansen proved to be a great closer, but the Dodgers need some more middle men who can handle the pressure of those innings between the starter and Jansen. The problem with the current bullpen is their inconsistency. Sure, J.P. Howell and Chris Hatcher had moments of greatness, but they were not consistent. Then there were other guys where the moment they made the run from the bullpen to the mound you just knew the lead was about to be blown.
The bullpen pitcher of my choice would be Aroldis Chapman. It is really one reason and one reason alone, who does not want a guy who throw heat at 103 MPH on their team? There is no doubt about Chapman’s dominance when he is on that mound. Aroldis does come with a risk. The Dodgers would have to be willing to give up a big name in return and after the 2016 season Chapman would again be a free agent.
Another bullpen guy that could fit the Dodgers would be Darren O’Day from the Baltimore Orioles. The 33 year old right hander could bring the pen the stability it has been lacking in seasons past. Last season he posted a 1.52 ERA in 68 games. He would be the perfect man to bridge the gap between the starter and Kenley.
It seems like for the last few seasons now the outfield has been a juggling act. I do not think there is enough room for both Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier, but there is a dilemma with both players. In the long run Ethier would benefit the Dodgers more. After coming off a successful season, he proved that at 33 years of age he still can swing the bat well and make great plays in the outfield. On the flip slide, Ethier would be a smarter trade because he is of a higher value after last season than Crawford is. Carl Crawford’s career has been plagued by injuries. I do not know many other outfielders who have already had two Tommy John’s. The 2015 season did not prove to be much different for Crawford who again struggled with injuries throughout. Carl only played in a total of 69 games all season. Though it would benefit the Dodgers to trade Crawford and free up a roster spot for someone else, they also are not likely to get a great caliber player in return for the trade.
Oct 3, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielderYasiel Puig
(66) in the dugout before the game against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Call me crazy, but I think for the right guy Yasiel Puig could be traded. Lately, it was reported that Puig was involved in a fight at a club with a bouncer in Miami. It may not seem like a big deal, but actions such as these are not how you win friends in a clubhouse. Baseball is a business at the end of the day, your reputation matters. I think trading Puig could benefit the chemistry of the team overall. In 2015 his numbers were not spectacular either. Puig played in 79 games, but only hit 11 homeruns. The Dodgers need an outfielder with consistent power. It is clear Puig has potential, but the situations off the field do not imply that he is working hard to make those adjustments. This would only help the Dodgers if they could get a top prospect or great young talent because trading Puig for a mediocre player is not worth it.
The Dodgers already revamped the coaching staff and are yet again focused on bringing home a World Series trophy. In order to do that they need to sign Greinke and get a few more arms in the rotation. They also need to add some power and consistency to the bullpen in order to hand the ball over to Jansen so he can close out the win. The outfield still seems to be a problem. The three positions are too small for two left-handers like Crawford and Ethier. A Puig trade might cut some tension in the locker room and help chemistry while also bringing in another top talent player. Nothing is ever clear cut, but the Dodgers are going to have to address these problem areas if they expect to bring a trophy back home!