Los Angeles Dodgers: 5 Players Who Should Be Replaced This Offseason
Apparently money can't buy everything. All it got the team with the highest payroll in baseball (by a mile) was an NL West division crown, the highest attendance in the game, a trip to the NLCS, and endless momentum for the foreseeable future.
But when the end goal is to win a World Series title, this all feels a little...pointless.
Jay Gatsby can buy all the beautiful things in the world, but none of it matters if he doesn't win Daisy Buchanan's love, right?
So while some fans may call for a complete overhaul, we're going to keep it simple and rational here.
We're going to list the five players who the Dodgers should either let walk to free agency or look to trade away in the off season.
Make no mistake about it -- the Dodgers can get better. And they will. These are some suggestions to help them along the way.
Nolasco returned home to Los Angeles in a midseason deal with the Marlins and was absolutely brilliant for the first couple months of his Dodgers tenure. In mid-September it all collapsed, and he never regained his form. Even worse, Nolasco was virtually useless to the Dodgers in the postseason.
All that said, Nolasco will be the hottest free agent starter on the market now that Tim Lincecum re-upped with the Giants.
The good news for Nolasco is that Lincecum's comically-high two-year, $35-million deal should bode well for his own financial prospects. The bad news is he will be signing with a different team, and moving to another new home.
Any team who signs Nolasco should know what they're getting -- a serviceable number two, pretty good number three, or very strong number four. But the Dodgers, with Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu locked up ahead of him and top prospect Zach Lee not far off, can afford to let Nolasco go.
If rumors are true, the Dodgers might already be looking to upgrade, dipping into the international pool again.
Nobody has been more successful than Los Angeles in acquiring foreign talent, but they may be pushed hard by the Yankees and Rangers, among others.
Either way, they can do without Nolasco and what will likely become an astronomical burden of a contract. It's just a shame he'll have to part ways leaving a sour taste in Dodgers fans' mouths.
Young was another midseason acquisition by the Dodgers in 2013. He hopped on board with dreams of winning a World Series after multiple let-downs with the Rangers and a disappointing start to the year in Philadelphia.
And despite much insistence to the contrary, he was a pretty good pick up for the Dodgers.
Young can still swing the bat a little bit, even if there isn't much power to speak of. We don't have to talk about the defensive side of the ball, because it isn't pretty. But at this stage in his career, Young should be looking to provide veteran leadership in the clubhouse and an offensive spark off the bench.
If he wants to sign on for a discounted rate and continue to play second fiddle to both corner infielders, the Dodgers may take a stab at a short deal. Otherwise, there are plenty of playoff-bound teams that could use the depth.
While Young seems to be a good fit in Los Angeles (really, who isn't right now?), he's a near-clone of guys like Skip Schumaker, Jerry Hairston, Jr. and Nick Punto.
With the abundance of role-playing veterans, one or two will have to split.
In this case, it's Young who should get the boot. I'm sure he would become a valuable commodity for American League teams looking for a quality teammate and a part-time DH.
The soft-tossing lefty has been an underrated part of the Dodgers success for a couple years now, but it's time for the team to part ways with Capuano.
In 24 games this season, Capuano went 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA. His value was in long relief, and in his willingness to move back and forth between the rotation and bullpen as needed.
It never hurts to have another left-handed pitcher who can come out of the bullpen or make a spot start, but Capuano will be better suited playing for a team that actually needs a left-handed back of the rotation starter.
Paco Rodriguez won't reach arbitration until 2016, and the front office would be crazy not to bring J.P. Howell back.
That leaves little room for Capuano, especially when the Dodgers can improve on their left-handed catalog through the free agent market.
Wherever Capuano ends up, he'll be a nice flex option, but nothing more than a back-end starter. There has to be plenty of teams in the market for a left-handed arm, especially one who can pitch in any role, but the Dodgers are no longer one of them.
Hopefully Dodgers fans appreciate what Capuano has done for the club in two seasons, but the time has come to phase him out completely. Plus, Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett might return in 2014, meaning Capuano slips even farther down the depth chart.
Hey, we'll always have the first half of 2012, right?
Jerry Hairston, Jr.
Hairston, Jr. was briefly mentioned in the Michael Young slide, but this one will be a lot harder to stomach.
Not only was Hairston, Jr. a savior in 2012 when injuries and poor play wracked our third basemen, but he has rapidly become a clubhouse and fan favorite in Los Angeles.
The ability to play every infield position besides catcher has made Hairston, Jr. an extremely valuable utility man over two seasons with the Dodgers. But he will be 38 next May and his age really showed in 2013.
In 96 games, he got on base at a dismal .265 clip, and was so horrid down the stretch that he rarely saw the field.
When October rolled around, Hairston, Jr. was left off the postseason roster entirely. Even if fellow veteran Young walks, there is no room for Hairston, Jr. with Skip Schumaker and Nick Punto both younger and more likely to be brought back and produce off the bench.
Ideally (this hasn't been discussed to my knowledge, but it's a fun idea), Hairston, Jr. would retire and join the Dodgers staff in some capacity. Maybe the title of "Chief Fun Officer" would suffice for a guy who played a huge part in keeping a rich, talented clubhouse in sync all season.
Alas, there is no space on the actual player roster for Hairston, Jr. But if he does walk, and does want to continue playing, he can likely find a role as a bench player for a team in need of depth.
More than likely, at this stage in his career, it will be a rebuilding team.
One major area the Dodgers need to fortify in the offseason is their bullpen. They ranked ninth in the National League in bullpen ERA, and they got so desperate for depth late in the season that they brought on Edinson Volquez and Carlos Marmol, who work out their welcomes in San Diego and Chicago, respectively.
There are a host of young arms to be excited about, like the previously-mentioned Paco Rodriguez, Chris Withrow, and closer Kenley Jansen. But with set-up extraordinaire Brian Wilson likely leaving for a bigger role elsewhere and the team unlikely to retain Chris Capuano, Marmol, or Volquez, there are some holes to fill.
Why would they let League, he of last winter's awful three-year, $22.5 million deal, walk then?
Because he is that bad. League was horrid in the closer's role, as yours truly projected, and was replaced by Jansen before the All-Star break.
So, if the bullpen is getting a full re-vamp, it's time for General Manager Ned Colletti to do what he isn't capable of doing: swallow his pride. Trading or releasing League and eating his contract is an admission that Colletti made a bad business decision, but it would be best for the team.
To completely trim all the fat off the edges of this bullpen and fill the holes with proven talent from a very strong reliever market would benefit the Dodgers immensely in 2013.
League is a pariah to the fans, and showed very little improvement after his demotion.
While I highly doubt that Colletti actually pulls the trigger on a move like this, the Dodgers would do well to get rid of him while they can and build around the young arms of Jansen, Rodriguez, Withrow and Jose Dominguez.