Los Angeles Dodgers: Grading Dodgers' Offseason Moves So Far
The Los Angeles Dodgers finished the 2011 season a hair above .500 at 82-79. They managed to survive the maelstrom of off-field drama somehow and walked away with the NL Cy Young, Clayton Kershaw, and NL MVP, Matt Kemp (yes, I said MVP).
This offseason the team is somewhat handicapped because the ownership situation is in such limbo. They find themselves in the young and competitive NL West that is currently being run by the Arizona Diamondbacks and, on occasion, the San Francisco Giants.
Compounding their issues with attendance, popularity and hope was their crosstown rival signing two of the biggest marquee free agents at the same time.
The Dodgers have been making moves of their own, however—moves that I think are flying under the radar, which is essentially just what the team needs at a time like this.
Here are my grades for the Dodgers' moves thus far this offseason.
Signing Jerry Hairston Jr. and Adam Kennedy: C
The Dodgers don't have much money to work with this offseason nor do they have much appeal to free agents. The team had all time low attendance in 2011 and for months the players were not sure whether they would be getting paid on time or not.
They did manage to improve their infield from a utility stand point and their bench. Bringing in veteran guys such as Jerry Hairston Jr. for six million over two years and Adam Kennedy for one year and just under one million.
Hairston Jr. and Kennedy provide veteran leadership and a calm demeanor in the clubhouse while bringing savvy play on the field. Both guys hit for contact, play small ball, and do what needs to be done for the team to succeed.
Barring any serious injuries this was a solid move by Ned Colletti.
Picking Up the Contract of Minor Leaguer Chris Withrow: C
I wrote a piece back in June and had Withrow listed as the seventh best minor league prospect in the Dodgers' farm system. As an avid Dodgers fan I have been following Withrow's development throughout the minors and am excited to finally see him earn a shot.
Withrow has been on and off throughout his career in the minor leagues but through all the ups and downs has shown signs of future success.
I don't see the Dodgers making any serious moves this season in the division or late into October so giving young and raw talent a shot can only provide answers (and hopefully results).
Signing Chris Capuano: B
Chirs Capuano is a veteran guy that will now be playing for his fourth team in seven MLB seasons. Capuano has never been a top of the rotation starter but throughout his career has done what has been asked of him in a timely manner.
As Dodger GM Ned Colletti said, "Chris is an established major league starting pitcher who adds to our staff." The Dodgers had Kershaw anchoring their staff last season but after Kershaw stepped off the mound it was all hands on deck.
They bring Capuano in on a two-year, $10 million deal meaning Capuano will be making less than Ted Lilly, Hiroki Kuroda, and Chad Billingsley all made last season for the team.
Capuano will likely be the third or fourth man on the rotation but his veteran leadership will pay dividends throughout hit stint with the team.
Signing Aaron Harang: B
Aaron Harang joins the team under the same circumstances Capuano does. Harang, a nine year veteran signed a two-year, $12 million deal and will also be tasked with anchoring the staff, bolstering chemistry in the clubhouse, and mentoring the youngsters around him.
Harang has been a solid starter in the majors throughout his career, he has had two 16 win seasons (both years he struck out more than 200). Harang had the lowest ERA of his career in 2011 while having over a 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio.
Colletti did well bringing in Harang who coupled with Capuano, will give the clubhouse new life, new energy, and a new look. If Harang avoids injuries and manages to throw consistent innings from April through the fall, he will definitely be worth the money for the Dodgers.
Signing Matt Kemp to an Extension: A+
I may be a biased Dodger fan, and therefore this statement may be entirely disrespected, but Matt Kemp deserved NL MVP this season and thanks to the potential cheating on current MVP Ryan Braun's part, he may just get the award when all is said and done.
Kemp is the most electrifying player in the state, or he was until Albert Pujols moved to Orange County. He is the perfect example of a guy who had all the potential in the world and is now living up to his potential thanks to hard work.
Locking Kemp in for eight years at $160 million was a perfect move. It shows the team's faith and dedication in him, and it shows the fans hope for the future. Knowing Kemp will be around for quite some time is good for the fans, the players, and the team.
This was by far Colletti's best move this fall.