Los Angeles Dodgers: Looking Towards the Future

Kristin DellContributor ISeptember 23, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 17:  (L-R)Manager Joe Torre and coach Don Mattingly of the Los Angeles Dodgers attend a press conference announcing that Mattingly will manage the Dodgers in 2011 at Dodger Stadium on September17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Well, with the Dodgers mathematically eliminated from the division race a couple of days ago, it’s time to look at the future of this team.  I will be the first to admit that I don’t pay all that much attention to the draft or to the minor leagues for that matter.  I guess I look at it like I look at College Sports, if these players are going to be great then I will seem them in the major leagues. 

 I know of some, just by word of mouth mostly.  Dee Gordon seems to get a lot of attention.  Trayvon Robinson is another one.  Ivan DeJesus, Jr (I remember I wanted to take my Goddaugther to a game in Inland Empire hoping Mr DeJesus, Jr would see her and would want to date her…ha ha!).  I don’t think our farm system is as strong as it has been in seasons past.  When you don’t offer players salary arbitration (like Randy Wolf) and just let them leave via free agency, you don’t get any compensation for their departure. 

  Thanks to MLB Trade Rumors I am able to take a look at what free agents are available on the market and who the Dodger free agents will be this offseason.  For catcher, as we know, Brad Ausmus is retiring and Rod Barajas is a free agent.  You still have AJ Ellis and Russell Martin.  There is a remote chance that Martin could be non tendered simply because of his 5 Million salary this season and the Dodgers could then try to sign him for less money in 2011.  First base is fine with James Loney arbitration eligible for the 2nd offseason.  Second base has Ryan Theriot who is also arbitration eligible

but who could also be non tendered as well but I hope not.  Both shortstop and third base are filled with Rafael Furcal and Casey Blake and Jamey Carroll will be back as the team’s primary utility player.  There is a hole in left field that could be filled many ways.  I like Jay Gibbons a lot but could see him as more of a fourth outfielder than an everyday outfielder.  Reed Johnson is a free agent and I have read that he will probably not be back.  There is a mutual option for Scott Podsednik for 2011, for around 2 million but both player and team have to agree to it.  As for money, if the Dodgers are willing to spend, there are a few guys I would love to possibly see playing left field in 2011.  Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth for example but both should command large salaries.  The Dodgers have seemed to shy away from those types of players and I could see them going after someone who has either been injured or who has had an off year that they can sign for less money.  I would put someone like a Brad Hawpe in this category.  To be honest, I haven’t been all that disappointed with the Dodgers bats this season, with the lack of the clutch hits.  We can get hits but can we cash them in?  As for the other two positions, center field and right field, will be manned by Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier unless Ned Colletti will trade one or both of them (which seems very unlikely). 

 I am concerned about the starting pitching for next season.  We are set with Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley.  What about the other three pitchers?  I would actually love to see all three of our free agents in Hiroki Kuroda, Ted Lilly and Vicente Padilla resigned but if not, I like these guys.  Actually I take that back.  There really aren’t any that I like other than Cliff Lee and I don’t see that happening.  Now here comes the fun part.  The bullpen.  I can’t for the life of me begin to understand what happened to the bullpen in 2010.  Either way, we have one free agent in Jeff Weaver and then George Sherrill will be arbitration eligible again and I am more than certain he will be non tendered.  What is scary to me is how far Jonathan Broxton has fallen.  Do the Dodgers need to get another closer next season?  My thought is no, we have two in Kenley Jansen and Hong-Chih Kuo.  What to do with Broxton?  Trade him?  Maybe a change of scenery is what’s best for him.  Who do we get to replace any of these guys?  I love the retreads…meaning Joe Beimel.  Joe wanted a little too much money but I would love to see him back in a Dodger uniform in the left handed specialist spot vacated by George. 

 The biggest of all bigs that the Dodgers will be dealing with is a new manager.  Joe Torre is not coming back and the Dodgers are going with Don Mattingly, the current Dodgers hitting coach.  There is a lot of anger amongst some Dodger fans stating that Don hasn’t earned the right to manage the Dodgers because he has no managerial experience.  According to Ned Colletti this was already set up in Don’s contract when he came over with Joe Torre from the New York Yankees before the 2008 season that when Joe would “hang it up” Don would be the go to guy.  Personally, I think Don’s ready.  He has been a coach for Joe Torre, either a hitting coach or a bench coach for the last 7 seasons.  He has seen every situation imaginable on the field, behind the scenes, etc and has learned from one of the best in Joe.  Of course the critics will be out in full force for this guy and anything less than a trip to the playoffs for the 2011 Dodgers will be seen as failure which is a shame actually.  I think this team is going to struggle for a bit.  How long is a bit?  I don’t know.  I will hope only a season.  I still remember when Jim Tracy was signed as Dodger manager.  I was like, “who?” and then I was pissed but Jim did a great job for us.  I like to give the team and to give Don the benefit of the doubt.  I support this team even if they end up in last place next season battling the Pirates for the worst record in the NL.  Because of the Dodgers I have been fortunate to have met some great fellow Dodger fans who a lot of them have turned out to be personal friends.