Ah, it’s nice to be a Dodger fan again.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, the boys in blue are spending straight cash homey. The new ownership group opened up the vault and acquired Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Brandon League among others during the season and have agreed to a deal with this offseason’s #1 pitching target – Zack Greinke.
As if Greinke wasn’t enough, the next day they agreed to terms Korean lefty Ryu Hyun-Jin. Haters hate away! Hyun-Jin is likely penciled in as the #4 starter behind Beckett, the veteran who had a 2.93 ERA in 7 starts with the Dodgers. Clayton Kershaw had to be smiling after getting news of Greinke’s signing and for multiple reasons. First, he’ll be followed by a fellow ace which may alleviate any pressure to be “the” guy that Kershaw may feel. Second, this just sets the bar higher for when the Dodgers and Kershaw’s agent sit down to hammer out an extension. The southpaw will soon be baseball’s highest paid hurler.
Kershaw and Greinke would be one hell of a 1-2 playoff combo, but they’ve got to win a few ballgames before we drift too far into postseason fantasyland. Behind those four starters are four guys vying for the last spot in the rotation – Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano, and Aaron Harang. Billingsley and Lilly are coming off injuries, so the timing of any trades involving Capuano or Harang will tell us what the Dodgers know about their recoveries.
You can never have enough pitching, but I’d look to deal from strength to address other weaknesses. What do they need? I’m fine with them heading into the season with Cruz at third and Hanley at short. Assuming the Ellises return at second and catcher, your lineup is set. What needs attention? The bullpen and the bench. Well, if I’m setting priorities, the bullpen leads by a mile. What do we have to work with?
When I look at the bullpen, here’s what I see –
Scott Elbert (L)
I see three really nice 8th inning arms, a solid lefty, and a couple of 7th inning righties. From the current roster, League or Jansen looks to be the closer, but if I could put a cherry on this offseason, I’d look to move some of that starting pitching depth for a proven closer. Who’s available? One in particular happens to be
Pittsburgh’s stopper, Joel
Hanrahan. The Pirates closer struggled
at times this past season, but I like his arm and fit in the 9th
inning role. If I could package my 6th
or 7th starter with someone from the farm for Hanrahan, I’d sign off
on the deal right now.
I’m anxious to see what a lineup with Hanley, Kemp, Gonzalez, Ethier, and Crawford can do together for a full season, and it looks like they’ll backed by an equally talented pitching staff. I’m not printing World Series tickets yet, but the skies are looking Dodger blue again baby!