The Los Angeles Dodgers may have some financial flexibility soon. But do they need to go for the “Free Agency Home Run”?
It is 1998 and the Dodgers are coming off a season where they have traded away team icon, Mike Piazza, in a failed CEO experiment. The fan base was unruly as the new owner, Fox, made some iratic personel moves with the roster and the front office. The team needed to do something so they signed all the “Home Run’s” on the free agent market: Pitcher Kevin Brown, Outfielder Devon White and Manager Davey Johnson. Do I need to tell you how it all ended?
Well for the Dodger fans with amnesia I will remind you how it all worked out. Brown pitched well but never lived up to his contract. White didnt materialize as a consistent outfielder for the Dodgers and the “3-Run Home Run” management style of Johnson never fit the “Pitcher Friendly” Dodger Stadium. Horrible year and mediocre 5 years after the signings.
Since the 1998 offseason the Dodgers have never been in the market for the top free agents. Most of it had to do with Frank McCourt and his liquidity issues but some of it had to do with the fact a majority of the top free agents who sign for the top dollar amount rarely fulfill the value of the contract. However for the record if Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee would have been signed or acquired by the Dodgers there would be another World Series trophy at Chavez Ravine. So signing the biggest free agent is warranted in the right situation but should not be the norm.
So what do the new Dodger owners do now? It is assumed the new owner will have supreme financial stability in comparison to the previous regime. What else is certain is the payroll starved Dodger fans will be pushing for the top free agents to be signed. It will be like when you receive your first paycheck and you go out to buy the one thing you always wanted only to find out it was a disappointment and you are broke again.
Now that there is some assumed financial stability is this the right situation to sign Albert Puljos or Prince Fielder? The Dodgers are in need of a power hitting corner infielder and making a big splash would boost the moral of the community. Either one of those players would be a fixture at first base for many seasons to come which could bring some star power continuity to the team. But the last time I checked niether player could play catcher, third base or pitch. And the reality is the Dodgers need those positions filled before a guy who can hit 500 foot home runs.
The needs of the Dodgers are bigger than a occasional home run can fix. They are catcher-less and I don’t want to bare another season with Jamey Carroll playing the hot corner. So what do the Dodgers do? Play to the strengths the “Dodger Way” with pitching and defense.
Dodger Stadium has a reputation as being a “Pitcher Friendly” ballpark for good reason, because it is a “Pitcher Friendly” ballpark. So would acquiring the biggest hitter on the market be a smart move? Darryl Strawberry should have something to say about that. The fan base needs to stop wishing for the instant gratification of Puljos and Fielder and come back to the “Dodger Way.” After all if was successful for a reason and if you don’t believe me, please drive to Dodger Stadium and go down to the trophy room in the Diamond Club. There you will see World Series trophies built on the principles of pitching and defense.
So who do the Dodgers sign? Should they bloat the current budget on some big names? What is next? Nothing, or at least almost nothing. Contrary to popular belief the Dodgers were a descent team in 2011. Also contrary to popular belief the Dodgers are not dismal at first base asJames Loney has played respectable since becoming a regular. True he doesn’t hit 45 home runs a year but we need to wake up and realize we are not in the “Steriod Era” of baseball anymore. Which by the way is a good thing for the Dodgers.
During the 20 years of the “Steriod Era” the Dodgers became irrelevant in World Series talk. Part of it was ownership issues but allot of it was due to MLB becoming a beefed up on power league while Chavez Ravine wasnt built to compete on that level. With steroids out of baseball the style of the Dodger Way will become relevant again. Just ask the San Francisco Giants who won with our style.
Sorry Dodger fans, with no premier third baseman on the market it appears Juan Uribe will be the best option third base unless General Manager Ned Colletti can pull off a trade. As for catcher? Jose Molina, Ramon Hernandez or Jason Kendall will have to be a temporary fix until Tim Federowicz is ready. The pitching market appears a little stronger with Hiroki Kuroda, Mark Buehrle, Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt all available.
If the Dodgers can make the small moves and stay away from the big moves the 2012 season will be entertaining and the 2013 will be the World Series contending year with a better free agent market.. Plus do the Dodgers need to be the Yankees West? I would prefer the Dodgers to be the DOdgers West…..Just no more Brown’s, White’s and Johnson’s as my blue heart couldn’t take that again.