MLB Trade Rumors: 10 Reasons Los Angeles Dodgers Shouldn't Move Young Talent
Some might say it's baseball blasphemy for a die-hard San Francisco Giants fanatic to give opinions about our hated enemies to the south, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In fact, I know quite a few who will say that.
But bear with me for a second.
The blood rivalry—that is unfortunately a literal term when it comes to this particular pairing—between the Gents and Bums is an example of major-league contempt in its purest form.
Granted, the saying goes familiarity breeds contempt, but you could argue the converse is just as true.
That is, contempt breeds familiarity.
Add the fact that the unbalanced schedule in Major League Baseball tosses these two in a cage 18 or 19 times a year, and I'd wager that both fan bases have a pretty good handle on the other side.
The trick, of course, is removing the obvious bias from the assessment.
That's difficult, but not impossible.
Especially in the case of the topic at hand—the whispers from baseball's offseason that los Doyers are considering several of their young studs as bargaining chips to bring in fresh, equally talented faces.
It's also true (as you can see in the links) that Ned Colletti and company have said they will NOT move those same names at any point during the winter.
What's the bottom line?
Well, you don't hear anything about Andre Ethier, Clayton Kershaw or Chad Billingsley on the trade winds these days.
By comparison, I'd say that means the Bums are at least considering the use of Loney, Kemp and/or Broxton as bait.
Consideration is fine; pulling the actual trigger on a deal would be monumentally stupid.
(So let's hope it happens...)
No. 10—The McCourts Are Already Too Popular in the Bay Area
Dissolution of a marriage is rarely a simple thing, but this train has gone completely off the rails.
We've got an allegation of an affair between Jamie McCourt and her bodyguard, conflicting post-nuptial agreements, a high-powered attorney claiming he made an error a paralegal wouldn't make—while drafting a document controlling the ownership of a major-league franchise, no less—and constant promises that the circus wouldn't affect the daily operations of the team while the opposite is blatantly happening.
In other words, it's the perfect story to be hatched in the shadow of the Hollywood sign.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers wobbled in 2010 and, with the owners' attention elsewhere, the entire thing disintegrated.
The two-time defending division champs slumped all the way to fourth place and the loudest cheers were coming from the Bay Area.
With that sort of neglect ongoing, do you really want to start moving around such enormous talents?
Or James Loney?
No. 9—The Jason Schmidt Contract
The 2006-07 offseason was a mind-boggling bonanza for former Bay Area aces.
Barry Zito signed his infamous contract and sucked all the oxygen into a media firestorm. As Zeets struggled to live up to his bloated contract (impossible), he was the only albatross up for dissection.
In the process, he saved ex-Gent ace Jason Schmidt from his own humiliating roast.
That same winter, the Dodgers grabbed a severely compromised "ace" with whom their GM should have been intimately familiar since Schmidt came over from the Giants the same year Colletti did.
Yet the Dodger GM still gave the right-hander $47 million and three years; Jason never shook off the injuries that started in SF and managed 10 ugly starts for all those clams.
True, Schmidt-head and Colletti would be due bonuses if they worked on Wall Street.
But this is one of those oddball occasions when performance matters.
Yet it's only Exhibit A as to why Dodger fans shouldn't want their brass moving around big-ticket items.
No. 8—The Andruw Jones Contract
Exhibit B, thy name is Andruw Jones circa 2007.
A year to the day after the Dodgers inked Jason Schmidt (according to Baseball Reference), they grabbed another severely compromised "superstar" in Jones.
The BIG fella was coming off consecutive seasons of shocking decline in which his slash line plummeted from .263/.347/.575 in 2005 all the way down to .222/.311/.413 in '07.
Yet the Los Angeles powers-that-be decided it would be a wonderful idea to move him from the NL East to the NL West—which is kind of like a Seinfeldian Florida for power hitters.
Luckily, the contract was for only two years and $36.2 million because Andruw was gone after one, leaving behind disgruntled fans and a batting average about half his weight.
Oh, but there's more.
No. 7—The Manny Ramirez Trade and Re-Signing
Here's the ultimate whammy—the Manny Ramirez debacle.
You know you've made a bad mistake when a guy can hit nearly .400 for a third of a season, carry your team to the National League Championship Series and still be a cataclysmic disaster in retrospect.
Nobody could've predicted the PED suspension, but that's about the only headache you couldn't see coming from a mile away.
Remember, LA volunteered for a few years of Manny being Manny after he literally quit his way off the Boston Red Sox in the midst of their 2007 World Series defense.
That's some serious arrogance or idiocy, pick your poison.
Whether this one's on Colletti and/or McCourt, it's a doozy.
I wouldn't be thrilled about asking the same dynamos to move serious talent now, when the sanity of the deal would depend very much on securing a sizable return.
No. 6—James Loney Fits Well in Dodger Blue
So who cares about management's track record, you say. Those deals are in the past and Colletti's made some good ones since, you say. We trust 'em, you say.
A trade would still be a bad idea.
I made a previous crack about James Loney because he's substantially less valuable—whether measured by actual or potential production—than either Jonathan Broxton or Matt Kemp (or any of the other major trade chips LA might ante up).
But that's not to say he's average or even slightly above average; there is quite a bit to love about Loney.
He's still at the opening of his prime at 26-going-on-27 and he's not eligible for free agency until 2013. Most importantly, he's played three full years plus parts of two others and posted the following 162-game averages: 69 R, 32 2B, 5 3B, 14 HR and a slash line of .288/.348/.436.
Those aren't staggering numbers, 2010 didn't live up to the aforementioned standards, and the Bums had hoped his power would come along further and faster than it has.
Loney plays a good-getting-better first base, he has the talent to be a serious contributor with the lumber, he's got extensive postseason experience, and there's something to be said for someone who can perform like this under the brightest lights.
That's quite a package to concede before his 28th birthday.
No. 5—Jonathan Broxton Is Still Excellent
I've never been Jonathan Broxton's biggest fan—if you plumb the depths of the Internet, you can probably find a snippet or two of me calling him wildly overrated. But that was before 2010.
Joe Torre worked him to a shell of his considerable self and now, Broxton is underrated.
OK, so maybe that's not entirely true.
Ox's 62 1/3 innings pitched in 2010 were his lowest total since becoming a regular weapon out of the bullpen in 2006.
Additionally, the pattern of use by Torre wasn't much different than previous years, though the ex-Bum skipper did use him with more abandon in terms of consecutive days of use and saves of three or more outs.
Finally, and most problematic for those who want to put all of the blame on Joe, is an in-depth look at the decline in velocity of the closer's heater.
Nevertheless, I think Torre's merciless use of Broxton even as the horse was showing signs of breaking contributed to a truly horrible year. His numbers regressed significantly across the board and he lost the closer's job by the end of the season.
And even if '10 were simply a bad year with little rhyme or reason, let's remember the kid won't be 27 until mid-June.
Granted, he'll be a free agent at the end of the year, but I still say there's too much untapped potential and history of actual achievement to sacrifice.
Especially because the Dodgers would be selling low on a guy who stands an excellent chance of bouncing back, either through proper use by management or increased endurance consequent to offseason conditioning.
No. 4—Matt Kemp Is Only 26
This is the guy the San Francisco Giants and the rest of the NL West would love to see shipped elsewhere. Preferably to the AL Central, but anywhere west of the Rocky Mountains will do.
I realize Matt Kemp's attitude problem and inattention to detail in 2010 were frustrating in the best of times and revolting in the worst ones. As someone who fancies himself old school, I find few things as tedious as a million-dollar talent with a 10-cent brain.
But let's turn the dial down on the rhetoric and disgust coming out of Los Angeles for a second, justified though they may be.
The Bison isn't a free agent until after 2012, he's only 26 and he's a physical BEAST.
Furthermore, Kemp (who I do not like for his arrogance) toils in the heart of a city drowning in a sludge of image-consciousness and self-importance, and had become the main attraction in the wake of Manny's demise.
With that as the context, he had one atrocious year.
I'm not sure that's a fireable offense.
Consider that Kemp's 162-game averages still sparkle—28 2B, 3 3B, 23 HR, 27 SB, 10 CS and a slash line of .285/.336/.472—following a season that saw him play 162 games and limp to the finish with a slash line of .249/.310/.450.
Now I'm positive, and the Dodgers should be too.
No. 3—Don Mattingly Is on the Job
This isn't a shot at Joe Torre—anyone who can withstand George Steinbrenner and the New York Yankee media glare as gracefully as Joe did has my enduring respect.
But let's face it, the experiment in La La Land didn't end well.
For whatever reason, the Dodger youngsters didn't take to Torre's leadership, or maybe they did and the on-field results simply never synced up. Whatever the case, it was probably high time for both parties to head in separate, sun-drenched directions
That's exactly what happened at the close of 2010 and Donnie Baseball is now tasked with the job of righting the ship.
I have no idea whether he's up to the chore, but it would seem entirely too rash to start hocking key elements of a once-successful squad before Mattingly even gets the keys in the ignition.
No. 2—The San Francisco Giants Would Love It
Really, this should be No. 1.
Because if you told me the Giants were considering a move that huge swaths of Dodger fans were hoping came to pass, that's all she wrote as far as I'm concerned. Thanks, but no thanks.
Well, not completely.
No. 1—It Would Fracture the Dodgers' Scary Young Core
Let's get totally nuts and pretend you, fair reader, have disagreed with everything I've written. That I've yet to make one salient, convincing iota of an argument as to why LA should keep all their young talent.
Not a problem—I saved my trump card.
Take a look at the Dodgers' core group of studs, though my fellow Giant faithful may want to shield their eyes or look through one of those funky eclipse scopes (with career 162-game averages):
- Chad Billingsley, 27 in July—3.55 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 8.2 SO/9, 2.10 SO/BB and an opponents' slash line of .248/.329/.369 in 825 2/3 IP
- Jonathan Broxton, 27 in June—109 SVOpp, .710 SV%, 3.11 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 11.7 SO/9, 3.20 SO/BB and an opponents' slash line of .219/.298/.315 in 379 1/3 IP
- Andre Ethier, 29 in April—80 R, 37 2B, 4 3B, 22 HR, 87 RBI and a slash line of .291/.363/.491 in 2812 PA
- Matt Kemp, 27 in September—90 R, 28 2B, 6 3B, 23 HR, 86 RBI and a slash line of .285/.336/.472 in 2469 PA
- Clayton Kershaw, 23 in March—3.17 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 9.3 SO/9, 2.22 SO/BB and an opponents' slash line of .221/.311/.328 in 483 IP
- James Loney, 27 in May—69 R, 32 2B, 5 3B, 14 HR, 92 RBI and a slash line of .288/.348/.436 in 2436 PA
So that's one guy (Ethier) who's smack in the middle of his prime and might just win an MVP if he can ever stay healthy. Then there's the four premier talents who are each entering what is generally accepted to be the prime of a baseball player's career.
Last but not least, there's the 22-year-old man-child who's already established himself as one of the game's filthiest flamethrowers.
And the brass is considering blowing half of the nucleus to kingdom come? After one admittedly ugly season?
Uh uh, bad idea.
With those six guys in place, the Bums have about a three-to-four year window of genuine promise. They should be adding mercenary talent without subtracting.
That's what revenue from one of the largest media markets in the United States should allow you to do...you know, when the owners are playing tug-of-war with a franchise that really belongs to a city.
Of course, if the Los Angeles Dodgers did that, they'd be a good bet to give the San Francisco Giants stiff competition for the NL West pennant and greater glory.
And who wants to see that?