October 16, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Carl Crawford (25), right fielder Yasiel Puig (66) and center fielder Andre Ethier (16) celebrate the 6-4 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals in game five of the National League Championship Series baseball game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Apparently the theme surrounding these Los Angeles Dodgers this offseason is to not tweak a winning formula, as they have refrained from pursuing big name free agents like Robinson Cano so far this winter.
This despite the large amounts of money available from Magic Johnson and the Guggenheim Group.
The commitment to keeping the status quo particularly manifested itself during the recent Winter Meetings in Orlando, FL, when the Dodgers left without any acquisitions worth mentioning.
Their energies were instead focused on keeping key players as Brian Wilson, the bearded one who could have garnered a big contract as someone’s closer after doing so well in his comeback from a serious elbow injury, opted to resign with L.A. as the set-up man to Kenley Jansen.
Which will provide depth in the closer’s role as Wilson can easily step in to save games should Jansen becomes ineffective or gets hurt.
The other big development for Dodger blue this offseason is general manager Ned Colletti stating that he will not trade Matt Kemp, at least for the foreseeable future.
There had been much speculation, especially from Kemp’s agent, former Dodgers and Oakland A’s pitcher Dave Stewart, that Kemp would be traded to perhaps the Boston Red Sox as there are four frontline outfielders – Kemp, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig – and only three outfield positions.
October 14, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig (66) reacts after he hits an RBI triple in the fourth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in game three of the National League Championship Series baseball game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
However, Colletti put a stop to that as I reckon that since Kemp is coming off two injury-plagued seasons and has yet to resume real baseball activities, it would be best to keep those four top-flight guys in case someone else gets hurt; have some depth there.
I think that’s a good idea and a good problem for manager Don Mattingly to have.
Even though I still feel that Ethier should be the one traded if any one of them should go because there’s too much money involved with Crawford and Kemp, while too much of everything else is involved with the young potential superstar Puig.
The only things that the Dodgers lack with two months left until pitchers and catchers report to Camelback Ranch for spring training is a bench, as Nick Punto and Skip Schumacher have both signed free agent deals with the A’s and the Cincinnati Reds, respectively, while Jerry Hairston, Jr. has retired after 16 years in the Show.
As well as a second baseman as Mark Ellis has opted to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Alexander Guerrero, a Cuban who is as touted as Puig was, was signed to fill the void left by Ellis, but it’s unknown whether the Cuban national team standout is ready for the rigors of the majors or needs a bit of seasoning in the minors.
Add to that the fact that he hasn’t played since November 12 because of a hamstring injury suffered in the Dominican Winter League, and second base can be officially be called a question mark at this point.
That could easily change in the next few weeks, and I expect the Dodgers to do something about it; they could either put Dee Gordon, who with Punto, Schumacher and Hairston gone is assured of a bench spot, at second or sign someone to fill in until Guerrero is ready.
L.A. should be careful about this and everything else, as though it means nothing now they have been picked as the odds-on favorites to win the 2014 World Series.
They will certainly be favored by pretty much everyone to repeat as National League West champions as it’s apparent that the Dodger brass feels that after they were beaten by the Cardinals in the NLCS in six games, they are right there as far as contention.
I believe that’s why the Dodgers shied away from going after Cano, who would have filled the second base position rather nicely. They didn’t want to pay roughly $250 million to another guy after committing that type of money to Kemp.
Sep 27, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) throws the ball against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
And they definitely need that kind of loot to be available as they continue to try to sign Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw to a long term deal.
It’s no secret that L.A. wants to make Kershaw a Dodger for many years, if not for life, as he is eligible for free agency after this upcoming season.
That is the Dodgers’ main focus going forward this winter.