Continuing from this morning's season preview of the Dodgers…
Are the Dodgers really as good as their payroll suggests?
With a payroll of over $213 million, without counting the posting fee for Hyun-Jin Ryu, the Dodgers believe they have bought themselves a true World Series contender. The rest of the baseball world seems to believe that too because, well, how could a team that spent that much not be a championship caliber club?
But don't let the stacks of cash blind you, there is a possibility that the Dodgers aren't really that good. After all, there is a big difference between spending smart and spending because you can and when you dig deep, it seems that the Dodgers might fall into the latter category.
One of the more derided signings of the off-season was the three-year, $22.5 million contract they gave to Brandon League, who is hardly considered to be an elite closer and may, in fact, not be the best reliever on the team even. That is just one example of where GM Ned Colletti was throwing around cash because he could, not because the performance or market demanded he do so.
The giant contract Los Angeles later rewarded to Zack Greinke is also one that was called into question, but at least there was a consensus that Greinke actually is a top pitcher in the game. Maybe he isn't at the level that he deserves the largest contract ever given to a right-handed pitcher, but he is a guy who has a Cy Young one his resume.
What the Dodgers may have really set themselves up to look bad though was that fateful trade with the Red Sox last July that really began the Dodgers' wild spending spree. They assumed hundreds of million in long-term contract obligations to bring aboard star players Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett.
Or perhaps we should refer to them as former stars. Adrian Gonzalez is supposed to be the big slugger in the middle of the order to protect Matt Kemp, only A-Gon is coming off a year where he posted an .805 OPS and .164 ISO, not exactly the kind of power one expects from someone paid to be an elite slugger. Then there is Crawford who is supposed to be the sparkplug of their offense, only he is coming off Tommy John surgery and a wildly disappointing year-plus in Boston. As for Josh Beckett, he is mostly trading off a his legacy at this point having turned in rather pedestrian years in four of the last five seasons. And while he came in a different trade, you could lump Hanley Ramirez into this group as a brand name player who hasn't performed anything like a star in recent years.
What the Dodgers really seem to have paid for, in true Hollywood fashion, is star name recognition, not actual star production. Even their holdover players like Andre Ethier benefited in such a manner. He received an $85 million contract extension in 2012 that the Dodgers lost faith in so quickly that they shopped him incessantly over the off-season.
Working in LA's favor is that they do still have Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw who are both arguably top ten players in all of baseball. With them leading the way, they may not need to have all their expensive imports to play up to their paycheck but rather merely be above average because with the way the Dodgers have been spending the last year, they'll probably just go out and flash more cash at the trade deadline to fill whatever holes they have come mid-season.
It isn't a strategy anyone but the Yankees can pull off, so we will see if it actually works for the Dodgers in 2013.