Fast and Furious: Grading the Los Angeles Dodgers' Offseason Moves

Dmitriy Ioselevich@dioselevSenior Analyst IIIDecember 4, 2010

Fast and Furious: Grading the Los Angeles Dodgers' Offseason Moves

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    PHOENIX - SEPTEMBER 24:  Don Mattingly of the Los Angeles Dodgers sits in the dugout during the Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on September 24, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona.   The Dodgers defeated the Diamondbacks 3
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The Los Angeles Dodgers have been busy this offseason, locking up several players already and in the hunt for even more.

    General manager Ned Colletti has been aggressive following a disappointing fourth-place finish for the Dodgers in the NL West. The team, picked by many to win the division, managed only an 80-82 record and was never really in the hunt for a playoff spot.

    Colletti is determined to change that, building a roster around young studs Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.

    But will the new additions be enough to vault the Dodgers past the defending world champions, the San Francisco Giants?

    Here's an early look at what the Dodgers have done so far and a grade for each of their moves. 

Re-Signing Ted Lilly

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    DENVER - SEPTEMBER 27:  Starting pitcher Ted Lilly #29 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 25, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. Lilly earned the win as the Dodgers defeated the Rockies 3-1.  (Photo by Doug
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Lilly came over to the Dodgers from the Chicago Cubs as part of a deadline deal last season and was brilliant. In 12 starts, Lilly posted a 7-4 record with a 3.52 ERA and a career high 9.0-strikeouts per nine innings.

    The 34-year-old lefty has revived his career since coming to the National League and was even an All-Star in 2009. So it's no surprise that the Dodgers wanted him back.

    Colletti signed Lilly to a three-year deal worth $29.5 million, which is quite a pay cut for a pitcher who made $13 million in each of the last two seasons.

    Hard to imagine Lilly will be worth $12 million at the age of 37, but in the short-term it's a great deal for both sides. Lilly should make a fantastic No. 4 starter for the Dodgers.

    Grade: A-

Re-Signing Jay Gibbons

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 04:  Jay Gibbons #31 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a three-run home run in the fourth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium on September 4, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Imag
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Gibbons made a return to baseball last season after sitting out 2008 and 2009, and he was great in limited action for the Dodgers.

    In 37 games, he pounded five home runs and posted a .280 batting average and .819 OPS. It was the 33-year-old's best season since 2005, when he was a full-time player for the Baltimore Orioles.

    Colletti decided to bring back the left-handed slugger for $650,000, and it's easy to see why. The only starters penciled in to the 2011 outfield right now are Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.

    Last season, left field was shared by Manny Ramirez and Garrett Anderson. But with both those players gone, there's a sizable void.

    At worst, Gibbons could be the fourth outfielder. If he can rediscover his former glory, he may even win the starting job. Great low-risk signing.

    Grade: A

Re-Signing Hiroki Kuroda

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 17:  Hiroki Kuroda #18 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium on September 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    The Dodgers resigned the 35-year-old righty to a one-year deal worth $12 million early on in free agency.

    Kuroda has spent the past three seasons in LA after coming over from Japan and has been a solid pitcher for the Dodgers ball club. He owns a career 28-30 record with a 3.60 ERA and 1.177 WHIP.

    Last season, Kuroda set career highs in ERA (3.39), innings (196.1) and strikeouts (159) in the final year of a three-year, $35.3-million contract he signed in 2007.

    The Dodgers did a good job bringing back Kuroda to solidify their rotation behind Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw, but the $12-million price tag seems high considering what other pitchers on the market are getting (Javier Vazquez for $7 million, Jorge de la Rosa for three years and $32 million, Jake Westbrook for two years and $16.5 million).

    Might they have been better off taking a chance on Vazquez, who at 34 is younger than Kuroda and is only one year removed from a Cy Young-caliber season with the Atlanta Braves?

    Grade: B-

Signing Jon Garland

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    ST. LOUIS - SEPTEMBER 19: Starter Jon Garland #27 of the San Diego Padres pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on September 19, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Cardinals beat the Padres 4-1.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Garland declined a $6.75-million mutual option with the San Diego Padres and became a free agent.

    Three weeks later, the Dodgers signed him to a one-year, $5 million deal, with an $8 million club option for 2012 that would become guaranteed if Garland pitches at least 190 innings (something he's done every year since 2002).

    Garland was great last season for the upstart Padres, finishing with a 14-12 record and a 3.47 ERA. He also made six starts for Los Angeles in 2009, posting a 2.72 ERA after a midseason trade. So the Dodgers obviously haven't forgotten about him.

    The 30-year-old righty is one of baseball's most consistent pitchers. He's made at least 32 starts in nine consecutive seasons and does a good job of limiting damage with a career 4.32 ERA. Yet, he continues to get paid like a No. 5 starter, which is exactly what he will be for the Dodgers.

    If Garland pitches like a No. 5 starter, then the Dodgers got him for the right price. If he pitches like anything better than that, then LA got him for a bargain. Steal of the offseason so far, for any team.

    Grade: A

Signing Juan Uribe

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    ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 01:  Juan Uribe #5 of the San Francisco Giants throws the ball to first base against the Texas Rangers in Game Five of the 2010 MLB World Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on November 1, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by
    Elsa/Getty Images

    The former Giants shortstop left the world champions to sign with the Dodgers for three years and $21 million. So not only do the Dodgers improve their own team, but they steal an important player from their main rival in the NL West.

    Not a bad day at the office.

    Uribe had a terrific year in San Francisco, hitting 24 home runs and posting a .749 OPS, which put him among the best shortstops in the game.

    His .248 batting average is worrisome, and he was awful in the playoffs, but he did lead all NL shortstops in fielding percentage (though he will play second base for the Dodgers).

    Uribe has never had a salary higher than $4.5 million in his career, so $7 million might be a tad high for the 30-year-old. But on the other hand, the free-agent market for infielders is laughingly weak this year and the Dodgers did a good job by getting this deal done before Jeter's exorbitant contract is signed.

    Grade: B

Trading Ryan Theriot for Blake Hawksworth

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    PITTSBURGH - AUGUST 25:  Blake Hawksworth #53 of the St Louis Cardinals throws to first base after knocking a ball down with his glove during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 25, 2010 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Ja
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    With Uribe in the fold, the Dodgers had no reason to hang on to their 2010 second baseman, Theriot.

    Theriot came over to the Dodgers with Lilly as part of the Cubs trade, but he wasn't nearly as successful in LA as the lefty starter. Theriot appeared in 54 games for the Dodgers and batted only .242 as he recorded only 48 hits against 28 strikeouts.

    Theriot has never been a particularly productive offensive player in his six-season major-league career (.704 OPS), and he would have cost the Dodgers about $3 million in arbitration money.

    Hawksworth is a 27-year-old righty who has spent all of his short two-year career in St. Louis. He primarily pitched out of the bullpen but did make eight starts last season. His 6.1 strikeouts per nine innings rate last season shows promise, but the 3.5 walks per nine innings rate is worrisome.

    Hawksworth isn't likely to contribute much to the Dodgers bullpen, but at a salary of about $500,000 it's difficult to complain. Theriot likely would have been released if he wasn't traded, so it's a win-win for both teams.

    Grade: A-

Re-Signing Rod Barajas, Non-Tendering Russell Martin

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 01:  Rod Barajas #28 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts to his throw to first for the out of Jayson Werth #28 of the Philadelphia Phillies during the first inning at Dodger Stadium on September 1, 2010 in Los Angeles, California
    Harry How/Getty Images

    The Dodgers decided to part ways with former All-Star Russell Martin by non-tendering the 27-year-old catcher a contract. The move temporarily left the Dodgers without any major-league caliber catchers on their roster.

    Colletti wasted no time, however, in signing the 34-year-old Barajas to a one-year deal worth $3.25 million.

    Barajas came over to the Dodgers late in the 2010 season after a brief stint with the New York Mets. In 25 games for LA, he batted .297 with a robust .939 OPS and five home runs.

    Barajas is a good veteran catcher with some pop (at least 17 home runs in each of the last three seasons), but he struggles to get on base (.284 career on-base percentage).

    He's also never played full-time, appearing in a career high 125 games in 2009 and only four times in his career appearing in at least 100 games.

    Barajas looks like he'll be the starting catcher, but he can't do it alone. Is 29-year-old A.J. Ellis the answer or could the Dodgers bring back 41-year-old Brad Ausmus?

    Grade: B

What's Left?

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    ST. PETERSBURG - JULY 26:  Designated hitter Johnny Damon #18 of the Detroit Tigers fouls off a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on July 26, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Though they're off to a great start, the Dodgers aren't quite done yet. They still need to add an outfielder, and reports have them in discussions with Johnny Damon's agents.

    They could also use a couple of bullpen pieces, especially if closer Jonathan Broxton struggles again.

    Thus far, LA has focused on restoring a team that was merely mediocre last season. The only new signings are Garland and Uribe, both of whom are good players but perhaps not the kind of impact talent that the Dodgers need to be able to contend next year.  

    There are still three months left, however, before spring training, so the Dodgers have some time to round off their roster. What will Colletti do next?


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