Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dodgers Minor Moves Show Them Getting Younger, Jury Still Out if They're Better

There's not a lot of off-season maneuvers for the Dodgers, but the ones they have made are showing a definite change in philosophy when it comes to building up their roster.  Word is out that the Dodgers are trying to get younger and the roster changes seem to show for the 2014 season.

Gone: 34 year old Skip Schumaker
Gone: 36 year old Nick Punto
Gone 36 year old Mark Ellis
Gone: 31 year old Ricky Nolasco who was seeking a long term deal.

Signed 26 year old Alexander Guerrero
Signed: 32 year old Dan Haren to a one year pact with incentives.
Signed: 28 year old Scott Elbert
Signed: 30 year old Drew Butera
Signed: 28 year old Mike Baxter
Acquired: 25 year old Jeremy Hazelbaker (for Alex Castellanos).

Drew Butera and Brandon League in September 2013 action. (photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

None of these decisions appear to be major impact moves,  though I'd argue that Guerrero may be one.   One thing most of them have in common:  The additions are with young players or the deals were short length contracts for an older guy (but not mid-30s player, like Haren).  It is plainly seen that the free agents seeking long term deals, such as Robinson Cano,  Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin Soo Choo and Mike Napoli are all off the Dodger’s radar, as they probably should be. 

Considering that Ned Colletti has a history of signing guys into their 30s up to age 35 or 36, I'd guess that these organizational moves have Stan Kasten’s finger prints all over them.  

The Dodgers also have to be completely in on Japanese pitching star Masahiro Tanaka and we might see something that we haven’t seen since the early George Steinbrenner years, a  Dodger-Yankee bidding war for his services.  That might be the most interesting off season move in 2013-14.

The Dodgers in the late 70s were reluctant to enter into free agent bidding sweepstakes, even though the Yankees had success doing it.  Essentially the Yankees went out and signed the entire American League All Star team.  After the Yankees beat Los Angeles in consecutive World Series in ’77 and ’78 and then theDodgers fell flat in 1979, the O’Malley ownership reluctantly went all in and landed two top free agents.  Those two players were: RHP Dave Goltz and Reliever Don  (full pack) Stanhouse.

Both pitchers had awful Dodgers careers and never regained their All Star-like form of years previous.  Their lackluster performances had an impact that kept the Dodgers mainly out of free avant sweepstakes for another half dozen years or so.  Both were sought after by the Yankees too, but interestingly enough, the Dodgers outbid them for their services.

Had the Dodgers bought in to building the team partially through free agency, historically things would have been quite different.  In 1975 Reggie Jackson reported that Oakland owner Charlie Finley would trade him to a team that offered $2 million in exchange.  Reggie had been in Hawaii participating in ABC’s Superstars competition and chummed it up with several Dodgers, including L.A.’s General Manager, Al Campanis.  After Reggie mention to Campanis what Finley was  purportedly seeking, Campanis said he thought the trade could be worked out.

So Reggie Jackson returned to the Bay Area and told Finley that he had a deal with the Dodgers for the terms he had specified and the A’s owner balked saying he’d never sell him for cash alone, as the fans would be in an uproar.   Considering that a year latter he tried to sell Vida Blue and Joe Rudi for straight cash, (a move Commissioner Bowie Kuhn disallowed), it’s hard to believe that Finley wouldn’t sell Jackson too.  The potential trade died before even growing on the vine.

A year later Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally were declared the first free agents in MLB when the reserve clause was successfully challenged and baseball history has never been the same.

Imagine if Jackson had been a Dodger from 1975.  Perhaps he would have done his magical Mr. October exploits in Los Angeles.  It's one of those "what ifs" that we can only imagine.

(source to the Reggie Jackson saga found at ESPN.COM)


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  2. The Dodgers with Reggie Jackson, now that sounds weird! Matter of fact that just doesn't sound right! He belongs with the A's and the Yankee's, it is better in baseball historical terms that he'd be a natural nemesis of the Dodgers, and he will always be a part of Dodger history. Remember this, a Dodger has always been a Dodger and not the team with all respect to Reggie. Reggie and Little Joe are two of the greatest and beloved/hated arch rivals of the Big Blue Wrecking Crew and that's the way it should be! Plus why would we want Reggie when Al Campanis could get Garvey, Cey, Baker and Smith for about the same cost. Campanis sure knew how to pinch the pennies but also he was able to get the most out of each one he pinched!