What is the opposite of a youth movement? An un-youth movement? A maturity movement? An elderly movement? Whatever it is, the Dodgers are doing it.
You have to give the Dodgers credit, despite being tied up in bankruptcy and an ownership dispute, they’ve been mighty active. They started the off-season with a bang by locking up superstar Matt Kemp to a lucrative long-term deal. But since then, the moves haven’t been nearly as flashy.
First, they re-signed OF Juan Rivera to a one-year, $4.5 million deal with a second year option at $4 million.
Up next, 2B Mark Ellis was signed to a two-year, $8.75 million contract.
Then it was back-up catcher Matt Treanor getting a one-year, $1 million deal, again with second year option.
After that, utility infielder Adam Kennedy was brought in on one-year, $800,000 deal.
Then, they brought out the big bucks to land LHP Chris Capuano for two years, $10 million.
They followed that up with a two-year, $6 million for Jerry Hairston.
Last, and certainly not least, the Dodgers (as of this writing) are said to be on the verge of inking RHP Aaron Harang to a two-year contract worth at least $12 million.
OK, now take a deep breath. That is a lot to process. So many moves and so many numbers. Allow me to give you a few to really focus on.
- In Rivera and Ellis, the Dodgers handed out at least $13.25 million to two players who were designated for assignment midway through the 2011 season. Not good enough for their first teams, but good enough to get overpaid by the Dodgers.
- An average of at least $11 million in annual salary for Capuano and Harang. That is about how much the vastly superior Hiroki Kuroda would’ve needed to re-sign with the Dodgers, but that won’t be happening now.
- All six players the Dodgers have signed or re-signed will be at least 34 years old by the end of the 2012 season.
- The total 2011 WAR values of all six players adds up to 5.5. The lowest WAR was Kennedy at 0.1 and the highest was Capuano at 1.6.
It is one thing to sign older players, but it is quite another to sign a value pack of middle-aged scrubs. Granted, Ned Colletti doesn’t have as much payroll to work with as normal, but one would think he could do better than this. Alas, I suppose this is what you get from a GM who was mentored by Brian Sabean, the crown prince of overpaying washed up veterans.
The sad thing is that the Dodgers weren’t all that far from being contenders last season. They finished with 82 wins and were fronted by NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw and NL MVP runner-up Matt Kemp. This is a club that has a strong core to build around and was arguably a few key additions from challenging the Arizona Diamondbacks for the NL West division title.
However, instead of trying to make a small amount of high-impact moves, it appears Colletti is going for the old “quantity over quality” maneuver.
Sure, he could have kept the very good Kuroda, but instead he chose to give that money to two starters with a history of arm problems coming off of bounceback seasons. They won’t be as good, but those innings will get so eaten… unless, of course, Harang and/or Capuano get hurt… again.
The Dodgers definitely needed upgrades at either second base and maybe third too. They could have made on calculated big move to get a high quality player at either spot, but instead they opted to just sign every veteran infielder they could get their hands on. We do know one thing for sure, the Dodger infielders may not much, but they are sure to lead the league in “scrappiness” and “veteran presence.”
Heaven forbid they went out and got more bang for their buck by giving the $14+ million they gave to Hairston and Ellis to a guy like Kelly Johnson since he at least has some power and patience (career 10.7 BB% and .181 ISO), which is far from a guarantee with any of the umpteen infielders the Dodgers actually did sign.
Now, perhaps this is a bit harsh on the Dodgers. They are still working their way out from under the tyrranical reign of Frank McCourt’s ownership. That probably explains why these deals are backloaded in their second years and/or include option buyouts. Colletti is really trying to stretch his dollar for 2012, even if it means he is kind of cutting his own legs out from under himself in 2013 and 2014. If only there was some other way he could fill all these holes in his roster on the cheap.
What would have been great for LA is if they could have just handed some of these spots to some youngsters. Like Jerry Sands, for example. I know his .727 OPS was better than Rivera’s .701 OPS last season, but Sands doesn’t have all that immeasurable grittiness that the notoriously lazy Rivera has.
It would have been downright silly for Colletti to wait until after December 12th for all the non-tenders to hit the market. I mean, if you are going to go cheap, you definitely want to be sure that you don’t accidentally stumble across a diamond in the rough, right? Why hold onto all the team’s money to use on younger, inexpensive players who might just need a change of scenery to have a big impact, like Ian Stewart or Chris Getz or Jesus Flores or Chris Volstad or Kevin Slowey or Donnie Murphy when you can spend all that money now on guys in the twilight of their career and in clear decline.
All of this just would make far too much sense.
You know what? I finally figured out what we can this roster building strategy for the Dodgers. A bowel movement. And you can’t totally blame Frank McCourt for this one.