Thursday, April 19, 2012

The LA Dodgers: A Look Ahead

What can we expect from the Dodgers going forward? With new ownership headed by Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson, there’s bound to be some cultural shift there. Something important to realize is that, they are not going to be a free spending team. They will not be the Nationals, the Yankees, the Red Sox, absolutely not. They will however probably sit somewhere in the middle of the league’s payroll, trying to blend the big market, big money team mentality with the model used by Tampa Bay to sustain success.

Kasten is the former President of the Atlanta Hawks, Braves, and Thrashers as well as the Washington Nationals. Kasten isn’t very much interested in the free agent market and believes strongly that he can build a team near solely from the farm system. Magic however wants to see some flash, not just building their team from within and making their own stars, but he wants to go out and get an Albert Pujols, a CJ Wilson, etc. This will be the constant battle for this team, which section of ownership is in the driver’s seat at any time, or are they going to work together actively so that everyone’s voice is heard at the top?

Now, Kasten did preside over the Braves for a very long time, including their ‘95 World Series, and the run through 86 through 2003. This was not by any stretch a bad team, but if that is the type of talent Kasten hopes to bottle up in LA he is going to need a lot of luck, and a patient fanbase. While I agree with Kasten that spending on the free agent market rarely nets a fair return as far as WAR/million spent, it will be a necessary evil for his team over the next few years to maintain a watchable product.

Currently the Dodgers are ranked 22nd in minor league depth by Minor League Ball, 24th Baseball Prospect Nation, and Keith Law (yeah, the link is to the fanatic, but for those of us without MLB insider access, it was that or taking my word on it) ranks them 12th solely on pitching depth. If we are to disregard Keith Law, or at the very least weigh his opinion equally with the two that rank the team much lower because they haven’t really got any bats in AA or AAA, you can see that if the Dodgers are to take the West, they will have to bend a little bit in Magic’s direction and pull in a few free agents, whether they be above average role players, or a couple of really dominant guys, trying to balance rebuilding your farm system with having a competitive team at the major league level is no easy feat, and only gets harder if you decide to ignore free agency. The Dodgers have some very good talent on the roster, though they certainly have room to upgrade, and if they can add a piece or two to really put it all together, they will be in an excellent “win now” situation without having sacrificed their future to do it. *Note: I am aware that the Dodgers are off to a 9-3 start. The Mets are 7-5 and so are the Orioles, a hot start does not make your team a lock for the playoffs.*

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