Roster Update

A few weeks ago, I predicted the 25 man roster.  With the season now a week away, I wanted to update that prediction.  The first 20 players I listed in my first post will make the team, but my guess is that two of them, Nomar and Kent, will begin the year on the DL.  That means there are 18 players right there who will be on the opening day roster.  After those players, it looks like Hong-Chih Kuo and Delwyn Young will be on the team because Joe Torre said that because they are out of options, he doesn’t want to lose them to another team.  So that makes 20.  Tony Abreu will also be on the roster, and probably in the starting lineup for opening day, so that makes 21.  So far, we have 10 pitchers and 11 position players. 

Now the question is whether the Dodgers will carry 11 or 12 pitchers to start the season. My guess is that they will start with 11 because they don’t even need a 5th starter until something like April 8th.  That means they will probably carry another reliever, and that player will probably be Rudy Seanez.  Therefore, Chan Ho Park will probably start the year in AAA, and be the first starter called up if needed.  With Seanez, we have 22 players so far, so that leaves 3 more bench spots.  If Kent is on the DL, one of those spots will for sure go to Chin-Lung Hu.  Next, Ramon Martinez will probably make the team as a backup, so he would make the 24th player on the team.

The last spot I’m really not sure about.  It may go to Blake DeWitt, but because Abreu will start at 3rd, he would only be up there to sit on the bench for a few games, so I’m not sure that makes sense.  I guess it could go to Jason Repko, but he has also be injured this spring, and we don’t need another outfielder.  So I guess we could carry another pitcher, even though I said above that we’ll probably only carry 11, and that would either be Chan Ho, Brian Falkenborg, Greg Jones, or Ramon Troncoso.  So I’ll guess we’ll have to wait and see, but in the mean time we can watch the Red Sox and A’s start the season in Japan!

25 man roster

Before I get to my prediction for the 25 man roster, I wanted to mention a few quick things.  First, what happened to Andy LaRoche is really unfortunate.  Even if he wasn’t picked to start at 3rd base, he probably still would have made the team, and provided some much needed depth.  He was looking good this spring both offensively and defensively, but now he’ll have to rehab and probably won’t be 100% until sometime in June.  Now Nomar will have to produce, and while I don’t doubt his ability, his biggest problem will be staying healthy.  The other thing I wanted to talk about was the pitching of Clayton Kershaw.  I finally was able to see him pitch on TV after reading about him for 2 years, and he really did look great.  His fastball looked amazing, and his curveball was awesome.  While he probably could use some time in AAA, I can see him performing well right now at the big league level.  In fact, I would say that if he started the year as the Dodgers 5th starter and was with the team for the whole year, he would go something like 13-8 with an ERA of around 3.40.  Anyways, on to my roster predictions.

Guaranteed Spots on the Team:

1. Brad Penny – our #1 starting pitcher

2. Derek Lowe – solid pitcher…contract year

3. Chad Billingsley – could be the Ace by the end of the year

4. Hiroki Kuroda – should be great as a 4th starter with less pressure

5. Esteban Loaiza – may not start, but will make the team with a $9 million salary

6. Takashi Saito – Calf problem should be fine by next week

7. Jonathan Broxton – Hopefully won’t be overused this year

8. Joe Beimel – good lefty out of the pen

9. Scott Proctor – good inning eater in middle relief

10. James Loney – hopefully will pick up where he left off

11. Jeff Kent – just wants to win the world series

12. Rafael Furcal – should be 100% healed, will produce like in 2006

13. Nomar Garciaparra – Just needs to stay healthy and hit with RISP

14. Russell Martin – might just be the best catcher in baseball

15. Matt Kemp – could have a monster year in 2008

16. Juan Pierre – will probably start, needs to do anything he can to get on base

17. Andruw Jones – hasn’t looked good this Spring…needs a turnaround in April

18. Andre Ethier – deserves to start, but will get a fair amount of playing time

19. Gary Bennett – I guess we need a backup catcher

20. Mark Sweeney – just had his knee drained, but should be fine in a week

Not quite sure about, but my guess for remaining 5 spots:

21. Hong-Chih Kuo – I believe is out of options, and has most potential of lefty’s fighting of a job

22. Yhency Brazoban – has most experience in bullpen, and also the most potential of other options

23. Delwyn Young – not hitting a lot in Spring, but has shown his versatility and is out of options

24. Tony Abreu – hopefully is healthy by opening day to provide help off the bench

25. John Lindsey – would take the place of Olmedo Saenz…minor league stats last year were 30 HR’s, 121 RBI’s

So that’s a team with 11 pitchers. which is how I think the Dodgers will start the season.  The other guys who might make the team:

1. Chan Ho Park – having a strong Spring…would be 5th starter if it’s not Loaiza

2. Jason Johnson – another good candidate to be the 5th started…0.00 ERA this Spring in 4 innings

3. Mike Myers – a little older, but will likely be in bullpen if Kuo gets injured

4. Tom Martin – another lefty, but not hasn’t performed well so far

5. Chin-Lung Hu – will likely make the team if Abreu starts the season on the DL

6. Ramon Martinez – only if the Dodgers are really desperate…I really hope they aren’t

7. Jason Repko – will probably just get hurt again…already having problems

8. George Lombard – having a good Spring (.583 average), but probably no chance

Finally, I wanted to mention some of the younger players who have made appearances in Spring Games:

1. Blake Dewitt – 3B – value went up with the LaRoche injury, but needs more time in the minors.  Will probably start the season at AA and move to AAA by mid-season.  Can play both 2nd and 3rd base, and it has been said that his power development may follow along the lines of James Loney

2. Lucas May – C – He’s already 25 years old, but had good power in High A ball last year, with 25 HR’s.  Will likely start the year at AA, and may be able to Martin backup catcher by next season

3. Ivan De Jesus – SS – A great fielder who has some speed.  Still a young player, and hasn’t played above High A.  Will probably start at AA as well, and hopefully will develop his bat so he can eventually hit for a good average

4. Xavier Paul – OF – Will probably only be a 4th outfielder one day for the Dodgers, unless he develops his power.  Will be in AAA this year.

5. Clayton Kershaw – LHP – Already talked about him…will be awesome very soon

6. James McDonald – RHP – Had a great 2nd half last year,  but needs more time in the minors.  Will probably go back to AA, but will probably be a September callup

7. Jon Meloan – RHP – From what I’ve heard, he’s going back to AAA to learn how to be a starter

8. Greg Miller – LHP – Still needs to learn to control his pitchers.  Will probably start in AAA with hopes of a September call up

9. Cory Wade – RHP – Another pitcher who had a great minor league season last year.  Will probably start in AA and move up to AAA  by mid season.

10. Eric Hull – RHP – Continues to do well in the minors…will probably start the year in AAA, but could see some time with the Dodgers throughout the season

Dodger Talk…Radio Version

With Spring Training well under way, and the season right around the corner, I am going to try and post most often…In fact I hope to post at least 3 or 4 times a week now that my schedule has slowed down a little.  But first, I wanted to let you all know about the radio program that 790 AM KABC is going to be starting this week.  Beginning Wednesday, there will be a half hour show on 790 AM from 6:30 – 7:00 pm.  This will be a Monday – Saturday show, and on Sundays, there will be a  much longer version of the show from 7 – 10 pm.  This will give fans the opportunity to call in and talk about the Dodgers, and the number is 1-800-222-KABC.  Also, you can listen online at www.kabc.comI look forward to listening and calling in as much as possible.

As for the real boys in blue, so far this Spring they’ve looked pretty good.  All of the pitchers from our 25 man roster have performed well, and a few non-roster guys have also done so.  I’m excited for James McDonald to make his spring training debut tomorrow, and I hope he continues his dominance from last year.  Also, while only a few games have been played, no player fighting for a spot on the team has really dominated.  Both Nomar and LaRoach have had mixed results, and the same goes for Pierre and Ethier.  As it stands now, it appears that the veterans will be starting, but like I said before, it is still early. 

Delwyn Young appears to be playing some aggressive baseball, and it’s good to see him at 2nd base again.  Hopefully he will prove that he is too valuable of a player to lose.  While I’ll post my personal 25 man roster in my next entry, I will say that he is definitely on it. 

Finally, I wanted to let all you Dodger Bobblehead fans out there know that we can vote on one of the bobbleheads again this year.  Follow the link to http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com/la/fan_forum/bobblehead_ballot_form.jsp and vote for your favorite Dodger, but please, take note that Nomar, Furcal, Kent, and Russell Martin all already had bobbleheads made for them, so PLEASE DO NOTE VOTE FOR THEM.  I would love to see someone new get a chance (such as Loney, Kemp, Penny, Lowe, or Billingsley), so thanks for you’re help on that vote.

No Time

I really wish I could have made more posts in the past few weeks, but I just haven’t had time.  Work is crazy, and even my online class is taking up a lot of time.  Even this post tonight will be really short because I need to get up early for work.  Really, the only thing that gets me through the day is the fact that pitchers and catchers report on Thursday, and spring training games are just a few weeks away!

The only thing I really have time to talk about right now is the Mark Sweeney signing.  Personally, I think he is a good player to have on the bench, but I really hope he doesn’t prevent a guy like Delwyn Young from being on the team.  With the addition of Sweeney, we really have only 2 or 3 roster spots up for grabs, and we have like 50 guys trying to fill it unless players get hurt (which I really hope doesn’t happen, unless it’s Jason Repko).  Delwyn needs to make the team because he is out of options, and has proven his worth the last few years in the minor leagues.  Almost the same thing could be said for Tony Abreu (assuming he’s healthy), although he does have at least one more minor league option.  So those two guys need to make the team, and it looks like Hu and Repko will go back to the minors.  If the Dodgers decide to carry 12 pitchers, however, one of those guys (Delwyn or Abreu) will be in trouble because we then run out of roster spots.  So, like I said, while I like Sweeney as a pinch hitter, it does create a difficult situation for the Dodger roster.

Random Thoughts

So while there haven’t been any trades or acquisitions since my last post, there have been a few things going on.  First, the Dodgers are holding a Prospect Development Program that is giving many of the Dodger minor league players the chance to see Dodger Stadium, workout with future teammates and coaches, and learn how to be a big league player.  I think that this is an awesome opportunity for these young players as it will give them the chance to understand what Dodger baseball is all about.  I also think it’s great that many of the current Dodgers, such as Kemp, Loney, and Andruw Jones, attended in order to get ready for spring training and meet the younger guys.  It shows that the Dodgers mean business and hopefully this program will continue for years to come.

Other news  has to do with the Dodgers agreeing to contracts with Repko and Proctor, while Beimel will probably go to arbitration.  I like Proctor, and I think that he provides a solid effort out of the bullpen.  Repko, however, I could do without.  I know that he would be on the team anyways whether we signed him now or he went to arbitration, so we didn’t really have a choice, but I just want to take this time to talk about how much I don’t like him.  I know he’s a hustle player and gives 100%, but he just isn’t good enough to be on the Dodgers.  He has no power, is not a very good outfielder, and basically takes playing time away from better players.  His only asset, his speed, has been hindered over the past 2 years due to injury, so I doubt his running ability will ever be the same again.  And, he injured Furcal last year, so that is also why I don’t like him.  We already have enough backup outfielders with Delwyn Young and Ethier/Pierre on the  bench, so lets just keep Repko at AAA  until he gets hurt, or until all of our other outfield options go on the DL.

Lastly, I want to mention my bobblehead collection, and give the Dodgers some suggestions for next year.  I know that the team has probably already decided on who they are going to give out this year, but I really think we need to see players like Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax, and even Johnny Podres who passed away recently.  Anyways, the ones I currently have are:  Shawn Green, Hideo Nomo, Russell Martin, Nomar Garciaparra, Jeff Kent, Tommy Lasorda, Rafael Furcal, Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, Fernando Valenzuela, Ceaser Izturis, Don Drysdale, Don Newcombe, Eric Gagne, and Paul Lo Duca.

Newest addition

With the addition of Kuroda to the Dodgers rotation, I really think the team is coming together.  I’ve watched a few videos of him pitching in Japan, and I swear that his fastball has some rising action!  Our team as a whole is looking really good.  Top to bottom, our starting pitchers can compete with anyone in baseball, our lineup features at least 5 guys who can potentially hit 20+ homers, and our bullpen is still very solid.  We have younger versions of Olmedo Saenz and Ramon Martinez in Delwyn Young and Tony Abreu, and now we even have a backup catcher in Gary Bennett! 

While Colletti claims that we still have some moves to make, I don’t think that we will give up any of our big name prospects for anyone, since our team is pretty much set.  We may trade a lower tier prospect for a reliever or something, but I think that’s about it.  And honestly, I think the team we have right now can compete with anyone in baseball.  We may not have the most dominate pitcher or the top power hitter, but we are solid through and through.  I’m not just saying this cause I’m a fan either.  We are much better than last year because our younger players have had another year to mature, and I think that we are deeper as well.  Overall, I’m excited to watch this team play in the Spring (although I’m not too excited about the apparent increase in ticket prices!)

Jones to LA…KEEP KEMP

I’ve been at work late all week, and I’ll be gone this weekend, so I just wanted to post a few quick comments about the recent Dodger activity.  First of all, getting Andruw Jones for 2 years really is a pretty good deal.  I know that over $18 million a year is a lot of money, but at least he is not locked in for 5 years or something.  He’ll provide great defense in center field, and I predict he’ll have some good year with the Dodgers.  He’ll still be playing for a big pay day since he’ll be a free agent again in 2 years, so I think he’ll give us his best effort.  My predictions for next year and that he hits 31 HR’s with 115 RBI’s, and a .273 average.  You heard it here first.

Next, I want to say that we cannot trade Matt Kemp.  After we signed Andruw Jones, all I kept hearing about is how we would now turn around and trade Kemp.  There is NO WAY that should happen.  We need Kemp in this lineup to win, and he should play every day in right field.  He has such great talent, that I would not give him up for anyone.  However, an outfield of Jones-Kemp-Pierre leaves Ethier on the bench.  As much as I like Ethier, I think he deserve to play everyday, so I wouldn’t mind trading him for a guy like Joe Blanton.  I mentioned a trade involving Ethier and Blanton a few weeks ago (see Recent Activity on Nov 23), and I still think that it could happen. 

That’s about it for now.  I’m almost positive that we will trade for or sign another starting pitcher, but I’m not sure who it will be.  I’m also pretty sure that we will leave the 3rd base job to both Nomar and LaRoache, which sounds great to me.  A lineup of Furcal, Martin, Loney, Jones, Kemp, Kent, LaRoache, Pierre looks pretty good to me. 

Final Hawaii/Arizona Winter League Stats

Both the Hawaii Winter League and Arizona Fall League have completed their seasons, so I wanted to take a little time to post the Dodger Prospects final stats, along with a little analysis.

Hawaii Winter League Hitters:

Josh Bell – 94 AB’s, 3 HR’s, 17 RBI’s, .213 average

Jamie Hoffmann – 97 AB’s, 0 HR’s, 7 RBI’s, .278 average

Russell Mitchell – 111 AB’s, 3 HR’s, 19 RBI’s, .270 average

Ryan Rogowski – 93 AB’s, 3 HR’s, 18 RBI’s, .237 average

Kenley Jansen – 63 AB’s, 0 HR’s, 2 RBI’s, .206 average

Well, the final hitting stats for the Dodger prospects were not impressive at all.  Kenley Jansen, Jamie Hoffmann, and Ryan Rogowski have never really been on the Dodgers radar as they have not had great minor league numbers, so their poor seasons didn’t really matter.  For Josh Bell and Russell Mitchell, however, I’m sure the Dodgers were hoping for a little more out of them.  Josh Bell is one of the Dodgers more highly rated prospects.  Although he was sent to the Hawaii League to mainly work on his defense at 3rd base, a .213 average is no excuse.  He is only 21, however, so let’s just hope this doesn’t hinder his growth next season where he will probably play for the Dodgers High A team (Inland Empire 66ers).  Russell Mitchell, who plays 1B, hit 22 HR’s last season for the Dodgers High A team, so the Dodgers were hoping he would continue to show some power.  With only 3 HR’s, however, they are probably a little disappointed, but he did lead the team with 11 doubles.  Look for him to start the year at AA Jacksonville next season where he will hopefully continue to develop his power.

Hawaii Winter League Pitchers:

Steve Johnson – 30.2 innings, 23 K’s, 2.05 ERA, 0.88 WHIP

Kyle Wilson – 20.2 innings, 26 K’s, 7.84 ERA, 1.89 WHIP

Garrett White – 8 innings, 9 K’s, 7.88 ERA, 3.13 WHIP

So one great season, and two bad ones.  Let’s start with the good.  From what I’ve heard, Steve Johnson has been described as an average pitcher, but he showed otherwise in the Winter League.  He had the 2nd best ERA on the team, and demonstrated that the had good control as he only walked 7 batters.  In four of his seven starts, he did not allow a run, and was one of the bright spots on the team.  While his season last year for the Dodgers low A team was nothing to brag about, he’s only 20 years old, and he’ll look to carry over his dominance from the Hawaiian league into next season, which will most likely be at High A.  For the other two pitchers, Garrett White and Kyle Wilson, it looks like they just never got things going in Hawaii.  They both had great minor league seasons last year, but they just couldn’t get the job done for their new team.  Neither of them pitched very many innings, so hopefully they’ll forget about Winter Ball and go into 2008 with a fresh start. 

Arizona Fall League Hitters:

Xavier Paul – 105 AB’s, 0 HR’s, 8 RBI’s, .248 average

Blake Dewitt – 57 AB’s, 0 HR’s, 6 RBI’s, .281 average

Chin-Lung Hu – 33 AB’s, 1 HR, 2 RBI’s, .273 average

Delwyn Young – 21 AB’s, 1 HR, 4 RBI’s, .524 average

Andy LaRoache – 18 AB’s, 1 HR, 4 RBI’s, .333 average

This is a disappointing set of hitting statistics for some of the Dodger prospects, but other did very well.  Xavier Paul is supposed to be one of the Dodgers top outfield prospects (not including those who have already debuted at the MLB level), but that did not seem to be the case this Fall.  He followed up an average 2007 minor league season by showing no sign of power, and at this point the Dodgers may wonder if it will ever develop.  Blake Dewitt was hitting over .300 for most of the Fall season, but slowed down at the end.  He didn’t get enough playing time to really display his talent, and I think he’ll do well at either AA or AAA next season.  Chin-Lung Hu had his season cut short due to a hamstring injury, but he should be ready to compete for a spot on the Major League Roster this Spring.  Andy LaRoache and Delwyn Young got to play with Team USA, and did well in limited action.  These stats do not include the tournament that they played over seas where they both did very well, especially LaRoache.  Barring a trade, both of these guys should be on the Dodgers roster next season.

Arizona Fall League Pitchers:

Greg Miller – 12.2 innings, 15 K’s, 12.79 ERA, 3.08 WHIP

Wesley Wright – 21.1 innings, 18 K’s, 5.06 ERA, 1.78 WHIP

Justin Orenduff – 16.1 innings, 14 K’s, 4.41 ERA, 1.71 WHIP

Zach Hammes – 14 innings, 7 K’s, 6.43 ERA, 1.64 WHIP

Cory Wade – 10.1 innings, 10 K’s, 1.74 ERA, 0.97 WHIP

Greg Miller just can’t seem to find his control.  For the season, Miller ended up walking 16 guys and hitting 2 others.  This Fall season was not only bad for his stats, but for his confidence as well.  He still has the makeup to be a great pitcher, and showed that he can strike guys out, but until he finds the strike zone, he will continue to pitch in the minor leagues.  Both Zach Hammes and Wesley Wright struggled this season as well, and it’s starting to look like they may never amount to anything at the big league level.  Justin Orenduff and Cory Wade, however, are a different story.  Both were recently added to the Dodgers 40 man roster, and looks like the Dodgers will give them a look this next year at AAA.  Wade pitched very well, and only walked 1 guy in his 10 innings.  Orenduff had a tough outing to end his season, which is why his stats don’t look so great, but besides that he looked very good.  Also, at 6’4" and 205 lbs, he has the makeup to be a big league pitcher.

Overall, the Dodger prospects had both ups and downs over the Fall and Winter Leagues.  It’ll be fun to see how these guys respond in 2008, especially the guys that played well.  Now, we have to sit back and wait for spring training.

Recent Activity

Since my last post, Mike Lowell re-signed with the Red Sox, and Torii Hunter surprisingly signed with the Angels.  That gives me a little relief, because I did not want either of these guys.  I mean, look at the money that Hunter is going to get…$90 million over 5 years…that’s $18 million a year for a career .271 hitter who has hit more than 30 HR’s in a season only once.  Sure he is a gold glove center fielder, but will he still have those same skills in 4 years when he is 36 and still making $18 million?  I don’t think so. 

What worries me, though, is that these signings might cause Ned Colletti to panic.  He sees these moves being made, and he might feel forced into doing something that he shouldn’t do.  My advise to Ned…Don’t do it!  Don’t overpay for a guy just to get attention.  Don’t trade away our best prospects for a guy who will be a free agent in 2009.  It’s just not worth it.

By all means, if the right deal falls into his lap, I want him to take it.  We do have a lot of minor league talent that has no where to go because they are blocked by guys on the current team.  If one or two of them can be traded for a decent starting pitcher or reliever, then I’m all for it.  I just don’t want to see our 3 or 4 best guys traded for Miguel Cabrera. 

When it’s all said and done, I think that Colletti will sign Aaron Rowand, and then trade away players like Ethier, Chin-Lung Hu, and James McDonald for a guy like Joe Blanton.  While I’m not sold on Rowand, and have written some negative things about him, he does goes go all out on every play and has a great attitude.  I like his style of play, and he would probably be good for the clubhouse.  Also, if we could get Blanton, we would have a very solid rotation, and I wouldn’t be too upset about giving up those prospects.  I’m not sure if this will happen, but since I know that Colletti will make at least at least a few moves, I prefer them to be the ones I wrote about above rather than some other stupid moves.

Latest Rumors

The latest rumors surrounding the Dodgers include a few guys I haven’t mentioned before…Aaron Rowand, Mike Lowell, and Joe Crede.   So let start with Rowand, who is asking for $15 million a year in a long term deal.  Last year he hit 27 HR’s, had 89 RBI’s, and had a .309 average.  While that’s a pretty good season, is that really worth $15 million a year?  If you look at his stats more carefully, you can see that he hit the majority of his home runs last season at home (17 of 27), in a stadium that has been know to give up home runs.  Also, his batting average in the previous two seasons (before 2007) were .262 and .270, and he only had 12 and 13 HR’s those years.  If you ask me, the Dodgers can get equal numbers from Andre Ethier, and much better numbers from Matt Kemp, and these guys play for a fraction of the cost.   So basically, there is no way he is worth that kind of money, and if they Dodgers sign him, they will have another Juan Pierre on their hands.

Although Mike Lowell had a great year last year, I’m still not sold on the guy.  He’s had his fair share of bad years, and he’s not getting any younger.  Basically, it’s a similar situation to Rowand because the Dodgers can probably get similar play out of Andy LaRoach this year, and a much cheaper price.  I’m not saying that Laroach will drive in 120 runs like Lowell did last year, but I can see him getting 20 to 25 home runs if he’s given a full season to play.  He’s been tearing it up for Team USA over the past few weeks, and I think he’s finally ready to make an impact for the Dodgers.  That being said, you can quote me right here right now…if the Dodgers do sign Lowell, he will not hit more than 20 HR’s, and will not break the 90 RBI mark.  Yet, he will still cost the team around $15 million a year.  Once again, not worth it. 

Joe Crede is injury prone and has only had one semi-decent season, where he hit 30 HR’s and had a .283 average.  In each of his other full seasons, he’s hit .261, .239, and .252, and averaged only 20 HR’s.  Unless we are trading DJ Houlton for this guy, then it’s a worthless trade.

Overall, it seems like Colletti wants to make a move just to say that he did.  He thinks that the fans want a change, but he is looking in all the wrong places.  The truth is that the free agent class this year is very weak, and the Dodgers already have guys who can put up great numbers if they are given the opportunity to play a full season.  If you project out Loney and Kemp’s numbers from last season over a 162 games, they would both have hit over 20 HR’s, which would have been better than anyone else on the team.  Also, Billingsley might have won 17 games had he been a starter for the whole season.  And who knows what Delwyn Young’s stats would have been last year if he had been the main pinch hitter instead of Olmedo Saenz.  Bottom line:  Colletti needs to learn that paying more money doesn’t equal better players.  I’m not saying to never sign a free agent…but please, just be smart about it!

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