The Dodgers have gone through a rough patch.
After a year of ownership conflicts, a down season and traded stars, some will forget that the Los Angeles Dodgers were the best team in baseball for much of the 2009 season and that their core—Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Andre Ethier and Jonathan Broxton—remains intact and young.
Joe Torre is gone. Manny Ramirez is gone. But the team remains talented.
Ned Colletti spent this past offseason trying to supplement LA's core and return the Dodgers—which finished below .500 last year—to the top of the division. While the team made few major additions, it retained some key pieces and supplemented that talent with bench players.
How did Colletti do?
Pitching is not a problem for the Dodgers. Clayton Kershaw is one of the best young aces in the league, and Chad Billingsley is a good No. 2. But the Dodgers' third best starter, Hiroki Kuroda, might be the most underrated pitcher in baseball.
Kuroda has made 82 starts in the major leagues with an ERA of 3.60 and a 3.18 K/BB rate. While his 28-30 record is mediocre, there's no denying that he's a No. 2 starter, at the very least, and a crucial part of the Dodgers rotation.
The Dodgers needed to retain Kuroda and they did. At $12 million, he's probably still underpaid for a starting pitcher of his caliber and consistency and, despite his age, he's only getting better. The Dodgers were also able to limit the years, minimizing the risk associated with a potential decline.
The Dodgers did what they had to in retaining an important part of the team and probably compensated him fairly, all things considered.
Technically not an offseason move, Mattingly was hired as the Dodgers' next manager this past September but will take over the team as players report this week.
When Joe Torre announced this past fall that he would be retiring as manager of the Dodgers effective at the end of the 2010 season, Ned Colletti needed a replacement. He found his replacement in Don Mattingly.
The favorite to replace Torre in New York after the 2007 season, Mattingly is well thought of in baseball circles and experienced as a coach.
Grade: B, for now.
Mattingly has been waiting quite a while for his chance to manage a team and seems like a knowledgeable, prepared coach. At the same time, the Dodgers job is a good one, and getting a managerial candidate with experience could have been a positive.
A few months ago, Juan Uribe was among Giants fans' favorite players in baseball. No longer. The Dodgers swooped in, offering Uribe the deal of a lifetime—a three-year, $21 million contract that will make him one of the highest-paid shortstops in baseball.
Uribe is a known commodity. He won't hit for a good average and he won't get on base much, but he's a solid shortstop with good pop. Last season he hit just .248 but chipped in 24 homers and 85 RBI.
The Giants probably overpaid. Uribe is a solid starting shortstop, but committing $21 million to a player of his caliber is questionable. The Dodgers do get the added bonus of taking Uribe away from the Giants, a significant swing in what could be a close division.
Vicente Padilla provided a jolt to his career down the stretch in 2009, going 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA for the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 2010, though, Padilla made just 16 starts and he proved that 2009 wasn't a complete fluke, going 6-5 with a 4.07 ERA and a very impressive 3.50 K/BB rate.
Padilla has had an up-and-down career, but his recent success would have made him a valuable commodity on the open market. The Dodgers were able to sign him to a one-year contract with a low base salary and significant incentives, securing the Dodgers' No. 5 rotation spot with a low-risk, high-reward talent.
Padilla isn't Cliff Lee, but he's a talented pitcher and the Dodgers got him at a major discount.
It seems not that long ago that Russell Martin was one of the best catchers in the league and among the Dodgers' young core. In just a few short years, overuse drove Martin to injury and destroyed his once-productive bat.
With this in mind, the Dodgers decided this offseason that Martin was not part of their future plans. While there were potential offers on the table for Martin, the Dodgers non-tendered their 27-year-old catcher, allowing Martin to sign with the Yankees where he may start next season.
This isn't a huge loss and a change of scenery could help Martin, but he's still one of the better all-around catchers in the game. He has value and it's puzzling that the Dodgers would non-tender him.
With Russell Martin out of the picture, the Dodgers needed to figure out their future behind the plate. Rod Barajas, who is 35 and saw significant playing time with LA down the stretch last season, seems to be the temporary answer.
Despite his age, Barajas is still a relatively good offensive catcher with 47 home runs over the past three seasons. With the Dodgers last season, Barajas hit .297 with a .361 OBP, .578 SLG and .939 OPS. He also hit five of his 17 home runs.
Barajas can't repeat that, but he's not a bad player. The Dodgers got him cheap and he should get some playing time in LA next season.
Not a huge move, but a good one.
Jon Garland is not a great pitcher. He can't strikeout major league batters and he did benefit from a friendly home ballpark last season. Still, the Dodgers got him at an incredible bargain this offseason.
Garland threw 200 innings on the dot in 2010 with a 3.47 ERA. Given his low strikeout rate, that is not sustainable, but given his 4.01 ERA in 204 innings in 2009, a solid ERA seems likely.
He's thrown 190 or more innings each year since 2002, and since 2005, his ERA is just 4.10. In fact, if you take out his disastrous 2008 season with the Angels, his ERA since 2005 is just 3.95.
A reasonable projection at this point for Jon Garland would be 200 innings and a 3.90 ERA. That would make him a solid No. 2 or No. 3 starting pitcher in this league. The Dodgers signed Garland for one year and $5 million.
Like his style or not, that's a huge bargain.
Committing $12 million to a relief pitcher is always risky. Spending that kind of cash on a reliever with as shaky a skill set as Matt Guerrier is borderline suicidal.
Guerrier has been successful over the past two seasons. In a small sample size of 147 innings, he has an impressive 2.75 ERA. But as a fly-ball pitcher with a K/BB rate just over two, that might not continue.
He is a solid reliever, but a risky one at that.