Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Monday, October 13, 2014

Requiem for the 2014 Season

(AP photo by Charles Rex Arbogast)

I gave it a few days, knowing full well that it's best not to write with the mind skewed by a ton of emotion.  It could come off as too raw, irrational maybe, or overly magnifying the negative.  "Give it a few days," I thought.  "I can then cool down and give an introspective assessment of the 2014 season."

I have done that now.  More than five days have passed and I've accepted the Dodger's plight.  It's not as if there is any other option.  A couple of ribbing emails from Giant fans have come and gone.  The condolences from co- workers also.  The 2014 season is done for us and I must say, I have not calmed down.

In the last 100+ hours I have seriously considered dropping my baseball fandom altogether.  I know it can be done.  I did it before with another sport, distancing myself from football with the Rams departure.  Why not again?  I spend an inordinate amount of time following the Dodgers and for what?  Twenty-six years of ineptitude?  Heartbreak after heartbreak?  From Aase to Zachary.  These guys break my heart every year.  The fact that I can think of players from A to Z without having to look them up is proof positive of that.

So without further ado, here are some critical off-season moves that I believe should be made.  Some radical, others not so much, but each having received a lot of thought over the past few days.

Let me start off by saying that I strongly believe that the Dodgers need to seriously consider getting younger.  Otherwise in a year or two, they are looking like the current Philadelphia Phillies.  Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, A.J. Ellis, Hanley Ramirez, Juan Uribe, Andre Ethier, Josh Beckett, Jamie Wright, Brian Wilson and even Matt Kemp are on the wrong side of age thirty.  The Dodgers are hamstrung by some of their contracts, forcing them to hold on to a few for a few more years.  With guys like Pederson, Urias and Seager, they need to be in future plans and not future trade plans.  Seager is a shortstop and a good one at that.  Moving him to 3B doesn't make sense to me.  I see him in the mold of Cal Ripken Jr., and with Arruebarrena, Rojas and Alex Guerrero able to play the position, as a stop-gap.  One of them can step aside when Seager arrives in the bigs, probably in 2016.

Ned Colletti
GONE.  It's time.  He's had 9 years and about a billion dollars in payroll to spend.  Add up the contracts, there was about a billion doled out, with half of it being wasted money on guys like Schmidt, Manny Ramirez, Ted Lilly, Andruw Jones, Billingsley and Ethier.   Don't be fooled by the 5 playoff appearances.  Truth is he hasn't produced, and considering the gobs of money he has had to spend, I seriously can't see how he can defend himself. Look at the names: Jason Schmidt, Andruw Jones, Manny Ramirez, Juan Pierre, Andre Ethier, Luis Gonzalez, Bill Mueller, Brett Tomko, Nomar Garciaparra, Shea Hillenbrand, Mike Lieberthal, Mark Sweeney, Eseban Loaiza, Vicente Padilla, David Wells, Angel Berroa, Casey Blake, Octavio Dotel, Orlando Hudson, Mark Loretta, Ronnie Belliard, Jim Thome, Eric Milton, Jon Garland, George Sherrill, Ryan Theriot, Garrett Anderson, Scott Podsednik, Ted Lilly, Jack Taschner, Reed Johnson, Skip Schumacher, Juan Rivera, Nick Punto, Eugenio Velez, Tony Gwynn Jr., Dana Eveland, Luis Cruz, Blake Hawksworth, Adam Kennedy, Jerry Hairston, Bobby Abreu, Shane Victorino, Edinson Volquez, Todd Coffey, Carlso Marmol.  That is scrap heap heaven, and the money spent on those names could have paid for the franchise and maybe a second one about 5 or 6 years ago.


Then factor in some of the prospects that Colletti gave away to get some of those players, (Carlos Santana, Ethan Martin, Jesmuel Valentin, Rubby DeLaRosa, Andrew Lambo, Andy LaRoche, Justin Ruggiano, Allen Webster, James McDonald, Nathan Eovoldi all off the top of my head).  Granted a lot of them aren't household names, but at the time they were dealt they had value.  The track record isn't good.  Colletti botched so many deals that it boggles the mind he still has a job.  If he does keep his job, I seriously question whether Guggenheim ownership is serious about winning.  Ned has overstayed by about 4 years now and deep inside we all know that once he leaves he'll return to his true loyalty - the San Francisco Giants.

Don Mattingly
GONE.  Nice man, terrible strategical manager.  Bunting to set up intentional walks to his best pinch hitter so that the opposition can pitch to Drew Butera?  Yes, it happened twice this year and both games were losses.  I won't tear him apart for the NLDS because he was hamstrung by the weak bullpen he was given, but he didn't have the guts to try something unconventional to resolve that problem.  Like say, insert Kenley Jansen in the 7th inning when a threat emerged or use Dan Haren to relieve Kershaw.  Sorry, teaching Puig a lesson in game four of the NLDS was a bit late.  It doesn't matter how much he had struggled.  He was still an offensive threat and a quality defensive piece.

Don Mattingly has been given his chance.  His talented roster got him to the post season twice.  I'll argue that the Dodger have won overcoming his mistakes.  He isn't a man that is able to take them to the next level.  If his roster was head over heels better than the rest of the league, he could probably do that, (as Torre did with the Yankees in the late 90s), but the L.A. roster isn't that good.  Don's a good man and he works hard, but he's a stubborn manager who ignores his past mistakes...committing them over and over.  He probably should be a hitting coach and that's it.

Mattingly's coaching staff will have to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.  Too many mistakes by Bundy did him in.  Crim might be the fall guy by the lackluster bullpen.  Wallach failed to talk Mattingly out of a number of boneheaded moves involving double switches, bunting, and lifting pitchers.  I loved Wallach as a possible managerial candidate before, but now, who knows?  McGwire has his positive contributions, but the bats struggled a good portion of the year too.

Hanley Ramirez
It could go either way.  I'm indifferent.  When he was on the field and giving a full effort, he performed, but he could hardly be counted on for anything.  Giving this China doll a $15.3 million qualifying offer is only a good idea if the Dodgers are certain that he'll leave and they'll get a draft pick as compensation.  Otherwise, it might be $15,000,000 thrown away because Hanley cannot stay healthy for a month, let alone an entire season.  Defensively he is a complete liability.

A.J. Ellis
GONE (unless he agrees to a backup role).  However, if the Dodgers will consider a player/coach position, I say they do it.  That could be a difficult proposition, but truth is I see Ellis as a potential future manager in the organization.  If Ellis agrees to a back-up catcher/bench coach job, I think it could be a good fit.  He does his homework and he's about as cerebral a player that the Dodgers have.  Physically though, Ellis wasn't getting it done.  Poor pitch framing, too many lazy passed balls, (possibly caused by his knee problems), a poor throw out of stealers ratio and a .191 batting average.  He raked in the 4 playoff games, but it was too little too late.  The season was a disaster for him, both offensively and defensively.

A possible player/manager?  (Getty Images)

Let me throw this out there.  Player/manager A.J. Ellis?  Radical thought but maybe he is ideal for it.  Nobody studies the game harder.  Let Zack Greinke take on pitching coach chores as well.  We may not win, but it would certainly be interesting.  Ellis is managerial material and it may not be wise to toss him out there without any minor league managerial experience, but Ellis might be in the Ausmus mold and not be the type of person that needs to grind things out in the minors.

Drew Butera
GONE.  Please, do we even need to discuss this guy?  He's terrible.  Was Tim Fedeowicz thought of so negatively that Butera surpassed him on the depth chart?  Since that's the case, Fedex needs to go too.

Roberto Hernandez, Kevin Correia, Paul Maholm
GONE. Old, unrelieable.  Each given a chance to prove themselves and they all failed.

Chad Billingsley
GONE.  Buy out the contract and give him his $3 million to walk.  Billingsley might recover, but he's not worth another contract.  Too bad because he could have been a great one.  Truth is though, he's on the wrong side of 30 and there's too many question marks here.  If he agrees to come back at an incentive laden contract, well then that would be okay, but you know a team like Cincinnati near his Defiance, Ohio home will get a preferential nod from him.

Jamie Wright
GONE.  Forty year old unreliable relievers have no business on a team that needs to get younger.

Dan Haren
GONE if he decides to not take the guaranteed $10 million.  If he doesn't take that, he's nuts.  Haren came back and was solid in the last month, but he's going to be 34 years old next year and his fastball rarely reaches 90 MPH now.  As a number 5 pitcher, he's serviceable, but again, this team needs to get younger.  Why not let Zach Lee or Chris Reed try out being the number 5 guy?  You only have to pay him the major league minimum.

I think Haren comes to his senses and realizes that the Dodger deal is the best one he'll find out there.  I'm sure his agent is looking into what the market will fetch for him.  Perhaps a team in need of pitching will offer him over $10 million, but I highly doubt it.


The catching position without a doubt.  There's nothing in the high minors.  There are doubts with the personnel in the low minors.  AJ was awful this year and Butera and Fedex followed suit.  The rumors of reacquiring Russell Martin are intriguing but there are problems there.  First, Martin left on bad terms and we all know what a bad Russell Martin can be as catcher.  Additionally, Martin is going to be 32 years old next year.  That's old for a catcher, and locking him up to a multi-year deal gets the Dodgers much older.  Unfortunately Martin is about the only catching option out there on the free agent market.

Middle Relief:  The long man is non-existent.  This team was hurt greatly by the injuries to Chris Withrow and Jose Dominguez.  Brian Wilson and Brandon League couldn't be trusted.  J.P. Howell had an awful final month.  This team will need to depend on the kids: Paco Rodriguez, Pedro Baez, Carlos Frias, Yimi Garcia, Daniel Coloumbe.  I'm not sure if Scott Elbert survives and is back.  That's a lot of youth to depend on but how else are they going to learn except on the big league level.  The club may have to ride with these guys and then attempt to acquire solid middle relief via trade mid-season.

Starting pitching:  After Greinke and Kershaw there are concerns.  Ryu was shut down twice with injuries and required a cortisone shot and three weeks rest to pitch game three of the NLDS.  That is a concern.  This may be thte beginning of the end for Hyung-Jin Ryu.  I hope I'm wrong.   Haren would be a fool not to return, but he's a number five guy.  In the minors, nobody is really emerging to be thrust in the starting pitcher role.  Whoever is sitting in the GM chair will have to deal with this problem.  Jon Lester would be ideal, but are they cutting payroll?  If so, he won't be an option.  If he is available.  They should break the bank and have the top three starters in the game on their staff.

Proposed changes:
Andrew Friedman, Tampa Bay's 37 year old General Manager

Management: There is talk of Tampa Bay's Andrew Friedman.  He'd be a sabermetrician's dream.  And if Joe Maddon accompanied him to L.A., it would be a perfect fit.  I know that's a pipe dream, but what a change that would be.  So significant that I'm fairly sure they could lead the ball club into dynasty status for years to come.  Friedman has a long-term vision that will keep the team competitive for years to come.  Maddon is a great strategical manner and he lives in Southern California.  They are too perfect of a fit.

Kim Ng is a name that is surfacing.  The Dodgers are pioneers in so many areas of the game.  I wouldn't put it past them to hire the first female G.M. in the game and she'd be an excellent choice.   From within there's Logan White, and he is certainly worthy of the General Manager reigns, but there would be a learning curve with him as he has always been leading scouting.  He certainly knows the game and I think we'd all be ecstatic with him at the helm.  The loss of DeJon Watson is making the scouting department in need of an urgent hire now.  Bob Engle is already in house.  Maybe he's the replacement there.

So What do we do now?
That's a tough one.  Trying to stomach the NLCS is about as hard as it gets.  The thought of a third Giants championship in five years is enough to make me gag, and it's real probable because Kansas City or Baltimore in the series will be just happy to get there, whereas the Gnats fully understand the process and won't stop until the World Series is through.

It's a long off-season and this one might be the longest of all.  If there ever was a real chance for the Dodgers to win the whole thing, this was the opportunity and it was full out blown.  We've been around long enough to know that these opportunities don't come very often.  And now Kershaw will have to hear over and over again that he's not a big game pitcher and that he fails under the big spotlight.  You'd think that last year's failure would have been enough motivation to get him past that, but it didn't happen.  

The next few weeks are crucial to the Dodgers future.  If changes are put in place in the top managerial levels, I say they're on the right track.  If not, we'll probably see more of the same and a team that simply gets older that will fall out of contention in the coming years.  It's a critical juncture in the future of the franchise.  Hopefully the Guggenheim group sees the light and makes the correct moves to get this ball club to the next level.

1 comment:

  1. Your a wise man Evan, for waiting the mandatory few days to calm down. Writing this on 10/17 allows me to see a little more of the future then you had when you wrote this post. Having said that I agree on some of your remarks and not on others. Example, I like Ellis coming back he's the right guy to trust a pitching staff with. He had a bad offensive year but that shouldn't cost him the starting job. The Ned thing is done and the Friedman deal is done, all that needs to happen now is hiring Kim Ng. What Friedman will do that Ned never did is trust in the kids more and to build the farm system. That's where Ng will be at her best. The rest of it all depends on what's available and what cost. Some will go and some will stay. My only hope is to remove the OF log jam and start bringing up some kids.