Well, That’s One Way to Fix The Dodgers

I’m still trying to put together my 2012 plan, traditionally the longest and most difficult post of the year. It’s unbelievably difficult this year, and not just because of the McCourt-based financial difficulties; other than Albert Pujols & Prince Fielder, who few expect to come to Los Angeles, there’s just really not a whole lot of offense out there.

Over at ESPN, Jim Bowden, former GM in Cincinnati and Washington, has his own ideas on what the Dodgers should do. I’ll be upfront here and say that I’ve often found Bowden’s ideas foolish, both during his GM career and after; that said, he was a GM for fifteen years, so it could be interesting look at how someone in the game might attack the Dodger situation. Or, you know, not, considering some of these whoppers.

Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder: Everyone associated with the Dodgers, from the front office to the media to the players and fans, all want them to sign either Pujols or Fielder to put an impact bat in between Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. I’m hearing Frank McCourt has even given General Manager Ned Colletti the go-ahead to pursue them with the impression the Dodgers could fit either one of them into their budgets going forward. However, it is difficult to believe that the bankruptcy court and/or Major League Baseball would approve such a transaction until the team’s ownership and television deal are resolved. Even if the deal were approved, it would be more than likely Pujols would end up re-signing with the St. Louis Cardinals while Fielder takes the largest offer on the table — and that probably won’t be from the Dodgers.

Agreed. It’s unlikely the Dodgers have the money for either, and as we looked at a few weeks ago, it’s not necessarily the best idea anyway.

Getting younger: If the Dodgers can’t sign for Pujols or Fielder, they should look to get younger and continue to build around Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw. Perhaps a blockbuster deal with the Cincinnati Reds that would send right fielder Andre Ethier and pitcher Chad Billingsley to the Queen City in exchange for a package that included Yonder Alonso, Devin Mesoraco or Yasmani Grandal, Juan Francisco, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake. Such a deal would give the Dodgers two young starters to go behind Kershaw while solving catcher, first base and one of the corner outfield positions for a long time. The deal might be unpopular for the short term but all of these players will be able to contribute in 2012. This would also free up enough money to get Kemp and Kershaw signed long-term, which should be the team’s top priority anyway.

Now we’re talking. Bowden’s not wrong that a lot of Dodger fans would hate this, but I would not be among them. Five of Cincinnati’s better young players – well, four and Juan Francisco – with Alonso and Mesoraco sporting drool-worthy on-base skills, all under team control, for Ethier (coming off an injury, headed into his free agent year, and clearly unhappy in Los Angeles) and Billingsley (coming off a frustrating season), who are owed something like $21m next season? Where are the Reds going to be spenders like that? It’d probably involve forcing the Dodgers to take the ~$13.5m or so left on Bronson Arroyo‘s contract too, but the problem with that is that it starts getting into realistic situations, and there is nothing realistic about this. Pretty sure the only outcome of this would be to expedite Walt Jocketty’s dismissal as Reds GM. Unless that’s Bowden’s ultimate goal, of course – to get his old job back. Long story short, this is totally unrealistic, but yes please!

Hiroki Kuroda: He turned away the opportunity to be traded to a contending team in July because he wanted to stay in Los Angeles with a team that was not going to the postseason. Perhaps he could be persuaded to take less than market value to re-sign with the Dodgers. If they don’t jump on him before he enters free agency they could lose him to the Los Angeles Angels or a Japanese team.

Probably. Though I’m guessing that since he had arguably his best season, he won’t be too amenable to much of a pay cut.

James Loney: The Dodgers should trade James Loney to the Cleveland Indians, who are unhappy with Matt LaPorta at first base and want to keep Carlos Santana behind the plate. The Dodgers should attempt to acquire either Vinnie Pestano, Nick Hagadone, Rafael Perez or Tony Sipp to add yet another good arm to their improving bullpen.

I actually kind of like this, though similar to the problem with the Reds, I’m not sure I see an Ohio team wanting to take on a sizable contract for a questionable player with one year left before free agency. I’ve long coveted SoCal native Pestano and his massive strikeout rates (92 in 67 MLB IP), however. Putting him alongside Kenley Jansen would be just unfair, and it would help Ned Colletti not try to go out and buy an overpriced arm on the market. Again, though – this is a thing that isn’t happening.

Another big get: If the Dodgers were able to clear enough payroll space with the deals with the Reds and Indians, they could delve into free agency and try to sign Carlos Beltran to a two-year $26-$28 million dollar deal to play right field. This would allow Beltran and Alonso to sandwich Kemp in the middle of the Dodgers’ lineup. The Rays are expected to listen to offers for B.J. Upton and the Twins on Denard Span. The Dodgers should try to trade for either one of them to combine with Dee Gordon at the top of the lineup and improve their outfield range.

Don’t also forget that Beltran is a Type A free agent, which would mean that the Dodgers would have to surrender their first-round pick to the Giants, a prospect so distasteful that I imagine it’s exactly the sort of thing Colletti would do. (As Scott points out in the comments, Beltran is a Type A, but his contract states he cannot be offered arbitration, so no draft pick compensation would be necessary.)

So if Bowden’s plans all went through, this is the team you’d be looking at (ignoring the Upton/Span comment since he didn’t propose an actual deal):

SS Gordon / 1B Alonso / CF Kemp / RF Beltran / LF Sands / C Mesoraco / 3B Francisco / 2B Uribe

SP Kershaw / SP Kuroda / SP Lilly / SP Leake / SP Bailey

CL Guerra / RP Jansen / RP Pestano / RP Guerrier / RP Lindblom / RP Elbert

Which comes out to something like $75m (+~$20m in dead money), and when you look at it like that, well, hey, that’s not a bad club at all, save for some possibly brutal defense on the left side of the infield. Of course, it requires two trades which would never happen, and signing the best outfielder on the market. But if you can squint hard enough to get past all that? Well, it’s clever, at least.

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  1. [...] Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness: Mike Petriello steals one of my article ideas about dissecting Jim Bowden’s plan for the Dodgers in the 2012 off-season. He did it well, so go read it. [...]

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