Now that the baseball season has ended for our two Los Angeles teams, I thought it was high time that I give my two pennies as to what the Dodgers and Angels need to do to be playing in the postseason in 2013, rather that watching it as they are doing now.
Indeed, with stars such as Albert Pujols, Mark Trumbo, Jered Weaver and Mike Trout returning to the Angels next year, and standouts such as Clayton Kershaw, Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp doing the same for the Dodgers, I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that both teams will on a short list of favorites for the World Series, if not the favorites.
OK, enough preliminaries: Here’s what I think these two L.A. teams need to do, starting with the…
LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM
Final 2012 record: 89-73
1. (Most Important): Resign Torii Hunter
I know full well that the Angels have three extremely capable guys to patrol the outfield, particularly the bet-everything-I-own likely winner of the American League’s Rookie of the Year, Mike Trout. However…
If owner Arte Moreno and GM Jerry Dipoto don’t resign Hunter to – at bare minimum – a one-year deal, they are absolutely crazy, simply because this right fielder did so much to carry the club through the final weeks, batting well over .300 and coming through time after time with driving in runs.
To add to that, Hunter remains an essential veteran presence, one who was a mentor to Trout and who is still deperately needed to do so.
2. Dump Vernon Wells
Simply put, it hasn’t worked out for him in Anaheim, as he has been hurt for quite a bit of stay in Angel red.
When Wells has played, the outfielder’s hitting has been well-below par as his average has been miles of what it needed to be.
Now with Trout, Trumbo and speedster Peter Bourjos in the outfield as well as (hopefully) Hunter, Wells has become more than expendable as I’m sure he doesn;t want to be a fifth outfielder.
His contract is a large one that Moreno will have to eat, but it would be worth it in the long run as the Angels will be able to move on with Trout and Trumbo, and Wells would be free to be able to get the playing time somewhere else that he won’t be able to get as an Angel anymore.
3. Sign Zack Grienke to a long term deal
This should be a no-brainer, as with Dan Haren and Ervin Santana not having great seasons and possibly leaving Orange County, plus Moreno not likely willing to go deep into the free anget market for pitching, Grienke will be needed to beef up their rotation.
Especially when you consider the old adage, “It all comes down to pitching”.
All right, let’s now take a look at what the L.A. team that wears blue need to do, the…
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Final 2012 record: 86-76
1. Let Shane Victorino go in free agency
This outfielder who came to L.A. from the Phillies did a decent job, but there’s one overwhelming reason why I won’t feel that it’s the end of the world if Victorino left:
Having arrived to the Dodgers with Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett in the huge Red Sox trade, he spent the remainder of 2012 recovering from reconstructive surgery on his left elbow.
As he would be a big upgrade over Victorino in the outfield and at the plate in that he would be the veteran leadoff hitter that the Dodgers need, I am excited about Crawford playing next to Kemp and Ethier; those three guys could be the best outfield in baseball if things work out right.
2. Dump Jose Uribe
See dump Vernon Wells, as almost the same reasons apply for letting this free agent from the Giants go.
3. Put Hanley Ramirez at third base, Dee Gordon at shortstop, and Luis Cruz as the top utility man
Lots of Dodger fans are understandably clamoring for Cruz, who was a mid-season call-up, in the starting lineup for the brilliant job that he did down the stretch. But…
I feel that he would help the team better as the first man off the bench, as he can play third, second and shortstop, while Gordon can only play short and Ramirez is better suited for third at this stage.
Besides, having Gordon in the lineup – probably in the number eight spot - adds wicked speed and wouldn’t add undue pressure. Plus he would be surrounded by veteran stars that would have his back.
Remember, he was leading the National League in stolen bases when he dislocated his finger on July 4th.
Bottom line: Gordon is a young guy with a very bright future, that should be with the big club.
I know that what I’ve just said is one person’s opinion – mine – but if there was ever a chance for a Freeway World Series, 2013 stands an excellent one for it.
Particularly if the Dodgers and Angels do these things that I have suggested.