Dodgers fans: First off let me say this was a WONDERFUL ride that we all went on. I know our city has been yearning for a World Series Championship, but I see this season as a huge success. Coming into this 2008 season, the Dodgers were not expected to go far in the playoffs but we proved critics wrong by stomping the Chicago Cubs.
We made it to the NLCS, where we were beaten by the Phillies.
Now that the season is over, we begin the rocky offseason. We have a lot of questions that need to be addressed.
Do we re-sign Greg Maddux? Do we pick up Brad Penny's option, or do we let him walk? Will the Dodgers sign CC to a lucrative contract? Is Manny Ramirez really going to get $100 million for four to six years? Who will fill the voids at second, third, and shortstop? What's going on with our bullpen?
Our starting pitching depth has shrunk almost exponentially, where Lowe will probably be gone and Brad Penny, who was huffing and puffing about his current contract, may be bought out. Penny has been the longest tenured Dodger who is still left from the Paul Lo Duca trade a while back.
This puts us with a starting rotation of Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, Clayton Kershaw, and James McDonald. If you ask me, that is scary. Kershaw has shown what kind of stuff he has, but he needs to mature more. McDonald came through in the postseason, pitching a lot better than I expected.
If we do re-sign Greg Maddux, it will probably be as a coach. Rick Honeycutt, the Dodgers pitching coach, needs to go. Seriously. When Joe Torre came to Los Angeles, I was hoping that Duncan would be the only returning coach. Maddux offers so much insight that it is highly beneficial for the younger players.
If the Dodgers sign CC, it will solidify our starting rotation. Don't be fooled however, as CC did not come up big in the playoffs. The Brewers pretty much got their money's worth as they ran him out there for the maximum amount of innings. The Dodgers would be smart to not give him the same type of contract Barry Zito got, where he has not lived up to the expectations he was supposed to. CC can hit the ball (as he rocked that HR in Los Angeles this year), but a lot of teams will be trying to obtain his services.
Speaking about services, Manny Ramirez will be the most sought after free agent on the market. His defensive skills have always been talked about, but he makes up for it with his offensive prowess. In this year's postseason, Manny feasted on National League pitching. I have never seen a huge offensive player who took the team on his shoulders and propelled them into the postseason.
Manny, in my opinion, needs to be re-signed IMMEDIATELY. Here are some reasons why. The Dodgers need a power hitter who can change the game with one swing. The amount of revenue Manny brings in will offset how much he is asking for.
Think about it.
He brought in at least $20 million in revenue with increased ticket sales, his dreadlocks (I bought two for $25 apiece), and his overall presence at Dodger Stadium. Even though he is 36, he will still give the Dodgers that valuable presence in the lineup. If the Dodgers do resign Ramirez, that means Andruw Jones will probably be traded next year. I say sign Manny for $25 million a year with a player/team option for a fourth year.
The next question is who will fill the hole at second and third base? Casey Blake was a great pick up for this year's campaign. If Blake leaves, Blake DeWitt will most likely take over. DeWitt, who made the roster this year as the starting third baseman, was expected to start in AA.
He made the adjustment to hit major-league pitching, but I believe with another full season in the majors, he will be a great productive No. 8 hitter. DeWitt is versatile to play second base so don't be surprised if he starts there next year. If the Dodgers re-sign Kent (I don't know how Kent will last for another year), then he will be the starting second baseman.
The Dodgers should re-sign Rafael Furcal, but with an incentive-laden contract. Furcal has been injured the three years he has been here. Furcal needs to prove that he is healthy before the Dodgers lock him up. His three errors in the Game Five of the NLCS may not help his cause to get a bigger contract.
Who is our closer next year? Will it be Saito, who suffered an elbow injury and was left out the Dodgers NLCS roster? Jonathan Broxton has shown signs that he can be closer and also has shown that sometimes he just doesn't have it (NLCS Game Five).
I used to love the trio of Beimel, Broxton, and Saito. That was almost a guaranteed victory. Both Beimel and Chan Ho Park are free agents. I think signing Chan Ho as our spot starter would be a great signing, and re-signing Beimel again is a priority as he gives us the veteran lefty out of the bullpen.
Kuo, whose left elbow is super fragile, is still questionable. He has been in and out of the Dodgers bullpen. Hopefully his elbow will hold up. Scott Proctor is recovering from surgery, so we will see how he fares in Spring Training. Jason Johnson, who was used as our spot starter, should not be re-signed. There have been too many instances where he has come in and he just gets hammered by the opposing team.
We do have a lot of money coming off the books. Nomar Garciaparra may retire with all of the injuries he has had over the years. Sweeney, who hasn't really contributed at all this season, should NOT be re-signed. We will find another veteran bat with a better batting average. Schmidt is scheduled to pitch again for us (don't hold your breath) supposedly, and he will FINALLY pitch in the final year of his contract.
I shudder at the fact that Ned Colletti has over $60-65 million to spend this offseason. I hope he spends it wisely. No more locking washed up players for long term (Jones, Schmidt).
Well, according to Dodgers.com, Pierre wants a trade because he lost his playing time and Jones does not want to return to Los Angeles (what a waste of money).
Expect the Dodgers to do some wheeling and dealing.
Los Angeles Dodgers: N.L. West Champions of 2008.
Los Angeles Dodgers: NLDS Champions vs. the Chicago Cubs.
I know I'm being selfish, but I hope the Dodgers make the playoffs every year. Going to playoff baseball simply is a lot better than the regular season.
I bleed blue. Go Dodgers!