The 2011 Dodgers are drowned in bad news. Muddled in a bankruptcy lawsuit, stuck tied with the equally-awful San Diego Padres in last place. the Bums are looking at potentially the worst record a Dodger team has had since moving to Los Angeles.
General Manager Ned Colletti made news today by firing hitting coach Jeff Pentland, sending a message to the entire organization. However, Colletti needs to understand this season is gone and the best thing to do is to sell off every veteran now and prepare for the future.
Free agent acquisitions Juan Uribe and Ted Lilly have been disappointments thus far, Rafael Furcal, Casey Blake and Rod Barajas have been tormented by injuries and the bullpen that was once so strong is full of fresh young faces, called up before their time. Unfortunately James Loney has failed to live up to expectations, and his name is being discussed around baseball circles.
The Dodgers can’t seem to catch a break, as even their best trade option, veteran starter Hiroki Kuroda, will not lift his no-trade clause to any team on the East Coast. Therefore, the Dodgers have to look for a team that he will agree to, something many in the front office are not sure will even happen.
See if your favorite Dodger is on this dreaded list...
Rafael Furcal, the Dodgers all star shortstop from only a year ago, has been hampered by injuries all season long and continues to fail to stay on the field consistently. Batting .167 this season, the Dodgers have to try to find a suitor for Furcal even if it means paying almost all of Furcal’s remaining $10 million dollar contract.
Waiting in the wings is future shortstop Dee Gordon, who impressed many during a stint with the club earlier this year. Gordon has nothing left to prove in the minors and is just working on becoming a better gap-to-gap hitter right now.
Gordon will be and should be the starter next year, assuming Ned Colletti does not make a huge mistake and resign Furcal.
Furcal’s experience, his excellent defense and he career statistics should be enough for a team to take a chance on him. With only one extra base hit this season, teams are probably very skeptical that he has lost his stroke with good reason. The Milwaukee Brewers, looking for a shortstop, have inquired about Jamey Carroll but not about Furcal because of his contract.
However, Furcal needs to go or else spend the rest of the season on the bench watching Gordon get more seasoning.
Juan Uribe, the Dodgers’ biggest free agent signing this past offseason, has been absolutely dreadful this year for the boys in blue. Currently batting just .208 with a meager .270 on base percentage and .300 slugging percentage, Uribe is well below his career averages. He only has 4 home runs and 27 RBIs for the Bums, and has been on the Disabled List twice already.
Uribe is a versatile player however, that some teams could potentially take a chance on. Uribe can play practically any position in the infield, and has played spectacular third base for the Dodger over the last month. Although not in tremendous athletic shape, Uribe moves well and makes some fantastic plays at the hot corner.
However, his swing is just terrible right now. He has looked lost all season at the plate, and his body flails around much after the ball is already in the catcher’s glove. His approach is awful and is basically an automatic out right now. That being said, he is a professional who did very well for the Giants last season in the playoffs, coming up with some clutch hits that doomed the opposition.
Uribe is vastly overpaid, making 7 million dollars this season and two years remaining on his 3 year, 21 million dollar contact. If a team wanted to take a risk on Uribe finding his stroke, the Dodgers would probably have to offer to pay at least the rest of this season’s contract. That might still be worth it considering Uribe’s next two years will hamper the team during a tough financial time.
After acquiring Rod Barajas last season in a questionable move, a native Los Angeles boy got to come home and play in front of his friends and family for the team he grew up rooting for. However, when the Dodgers resigned Barajas to be the starting catcher this season, it was to many fans chagrin.
Barajas has put up mediocre numbers this year, reflecting his mediocre career. He is currently hitting .209 with 8 home runs and 21 RBIs and is batting .237 in his career. His power is an asset the Dodgers have not had at catcher since Russell Martin’s power declined, but overall Barajas would be much better suited as a skilled backup on a contending team.
Barajas is making 3.25 million this season, so it would cost another team about 1.5 million dollars to acquire him. However, I could see the Dodgers offering to take some of the financial burden off the other team in exchange for a low level prospect that could be utilized in a couple years.
Barajas, a good clubhouse guy, could be a help to the rival San Francisco Giants for the rest of the season considering they have been using backup Eli Whiteside in the starters role after Buster Posey was injured for the rest of the season.
The Chicago White Sox, very friendly with the Dodgers in past seasons, also could use some depth for aging A.J. Pierzynski, who has no true backup after Ramon Castro went down with an injury.
Wherever Rod ends up, it would be nice to see him get a chance to compete and let A.J. Ellis get a real chance at being the starter for the Dodgers for the rest of the season.
Ted Lilly, acquired last season from the Chicago Cubs, has been quite frustrating to watch this year. At 6-10 with a 4.83 ERA, Lilly has been very hittable this season and has really not possessed the grit that made him an all star only a couple years ago.
Lilly, however, has been successful at staying healthy and eating innings for the Dodgers. Lilly has thrown 113 innings, averaging almost 6 innings a start. His contract is bloated, as Lilly is signed for three years at $11 million a year.
At the end of the day, Lilly’s chances of being moved are slim but if Colletti shops him hard enough, he might find a suitor.
If a team wanted to take on Lilly for the playoff run to provide depth to a starting rotation, the Dodgers would have to fork over multiple millions of dollars to offset the blunder of Lilly’s contract. Lilly could be very successful pitching a big ballpark like Jacobs Field for the Cleveland Indians or for the St. Louis Cardinals.
It’s truly touching to see how much everyone wants to see James Loney succeed. I, just like so many fellow Dodger fans, want nothing more than to see him tap into the potential that his strong body and sweet swing make us believe in. His fantastic defense makes everyone want to keep him forever, but the offensive frustration has reached its peak.
Loney, currently batting .263 with only 4 home runs and 31 RBIs this season. His on base percentage is only .310, down significantly from his career .343 on base percentage.
Loney has never hit more than 15 home runs in a season and his power numbers are dropping when everyone in the Dodgers organization needed him to boost the numbers.
Loney is making 4.8 million dollars this season and is arbitration eligible after the next season. This works to the Dodgers advantage, as a team that is need of a solid, reliable first baseman not just for the rest of the year but for the long term can afford Loney. Potentially, the Pittsburgh Pirates could take a chance on him considering Lyle Overbay is batting only .239.
The Oakland Athletics might be a team that would like the services of Loney, who could flourish with a change of scenery. The A’s have often gone after failed projects of other teams and given them opportunities elsewhere.
Whatever the outcome, Loney’s time in LA is numbered if he doesn’t improve immediately.
A quality starting pitcher is hard to come by in the midst of a heated major league season. Hiroki Kuroda has been a valuable starter for the Dodgers for the last four years, but the best service he can do for the Dodgers is lift his no-trade clause and allow them to deal him to a contender.
Kuroda, a hard-luck pitcher who is 6-11 this year with a very respectable 3.13 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, is making $12 million this year. The Dodgers could definitely help out any team that wants his services and get more prospects in return. Unfortunately, Kuroda does not want to go to an East Coast team, a difficulty considering that both the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees have inquired about Hiroki’s services.
Kuroda could be a good fit with the St. Louis Cardinals, who could use some help from a quality starting pitcher that has done well under pressure. Kuroda won two games in the 2008 playoffs for the Dodgers on their run to the NLCS.
Expect many more teams to jump in the Kuroda sweepstakes, potentially making it harder for Kuroda to resist a trade to a contender, especially if they are west of the Mississippi.