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Hiroki Kuroda

2013 Free Agency Preview for the Los Angeles Dodgers

Back in April, in my giddiness emanating from the great emancipation from Frank McCourt, I wrote a lengthy article looking forward to this winter and the potential free agents a newly fiscally robust Dodgers team could invest in.

Little did I know that Mark Walter, Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson had more immediate plans in mind.

At the beginning of 2012, the Dodgers were without solutions at left field, third base, catcher and the back end of the rotation and an unsure future with the incumbents at first base and shortstop. Few offensive reinforcements were coming up through the minor leagues, so to very professionally summarize, the Boys in Blue were screwed.

Now, after two massive trades and the emergence of two unexpected life-long farm hands, the Dodgers are set at every position player on the diamond. Upgrades could be had at third and catcher, but if the Dodgers were to stay pat, most fans should feel comfortable with the players at hand.

Looking at this offseason, I earmarked pitching as the biggest probable targets for the team, even though the Dodgers had (and still have) such little offensive firepower in their minors. Starting pitchers Cole Hamels and Matt Cain have since been locked up to long-term deals, as well as second baseman Brandon Phillips and third baseman David Wright has had this 2013 option picked up, as the Mets continue to negotiate with him on an extension.

LA fell a couple games short of the Wild Card playoff game, so even as the team will naturally improve with greater continuity of a more settled squad, free agent additions should be made to bolster the team. It still feels foreign that payroll isn’t even something to consider any longer, because in the words of Mark Walter, the payroll ceiling is in the nebulous region of “Somewhere…I suppose”. Luckily for the Dodgers, the team doesn’t have a whole lot of holes, and most of these targets are merely “wish list” items, rather than absolute necessities. GM Ned Colletti did a lot of his winter shopping in season and picked up several high priced items, so for better or worse, the team will be surfing the season with Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez.

An already thin farm system has been cleared out in recent months, so a trade for an elite player is unlikely. Chavez Ravine is awash in cash these days like a giant safe in Duckberg, so simply buying talent is most likely the best avenue for this team to improve.

Looking at the ace free agent listings from mlbtraderumors.com, let’s shoot off MAMBINO’s top free agent targets for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 2012 offseason:

1. SP Zack Greinke, Anaheim Angels

His Deal: Greinke is the number one pitcher on the market, and arguably the most sought after free agent. This isn’t to disparage Josh Hamilton, but between his shaky health history, contract demands and lack of teams that can satisfy them, many more teams are in play for Greinke rather than the Rangers’ center fielder. He’s going to ask for a five or six year deal (maybe as many as seven years) at around $20 million a year. It’s not going to be cheap.

Why the Dodgers Would Want Him: But he’s a 29 year old pitcher in his prime. Since his AL Cy Young win for the Royals in 2009 during his age 25 season, Greinke has pitched to a 3.37 ERA, averaging nearly a strikeout per inning, and less than a hit per inning. I don’t buy that the right-hander is declining, as almost every metric from last season was on par or slightly better last year while splitting time between Milwauke… Read more...

Instant Trade Analysis: Other Aspects of the Day the Yanks KILLED It

Even as the prohibitive favorites to win the AL East, the New York Yankees just got favorite…er. In fact, they might be the prohibitive favorites to win the whole damn thing. Because the New York Yankees just had a day.

Already excellently covered by BockerKnocker earlier in the evening, the Yanks pulled off a major trade tonight involving the primary pieces Jesus Montero and Michael Pineda.

This in itself is gigantic for the Yankees, and beneficial in many ways aside from the talent they had just traded for. With the aging, high-paid Yankees infield of Alex Rodgriguez, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano, along with Nick Swisher and Eduardo Nunez, the Yankees have multiple players that can play all four infield positions. Switching between these 6 men is a necessity manager Joe Girardi must deal with in order to keep his older stars fresh and ready for another 162 game stretch. That means DH-ing A-Rod and Jeter in particular, leaving rookie DH Jesus Montero on the bench for multiple days in a week.

So what to do with this problem? Somebody had to go, and seeing as he had such high trade value and lack of a heavy, multi-year contract, Montero was the logical choice to go.

Again, BockerKnocker covered what it means for the Yanks to lose Montero – he’s an absolute stud, and a homegrown one at that. But on the other side, the Yanks acquired Michael Pineda, a fireballing Cuban right hander, built like a tight end at 6’7″ and 260 lbs. If you’ve never seen him, imagine Ron Gronkowski’s body, with Randy Johnson’s arms, except young and perpetually looking pissed off. I watched Pineda pitch a bunch this year, and he is an absolute monster. Though he tailed off at the end of the year, Pineda killed the AL with a 3.03 ERA, and 113 strikeouts in the same amount of innings. Though projected to be a future ace, right now Pineda is most well-served to be the second or third best pitcher in any rotation – exactly what he’ll be with the Yankees.

However, I’ve got my reservations about Pineda in the Bronx. For most of last year, Pineda lived in relative anonymity. he pitched in the quiet AL West, for a team no one expected to achieve against a subpar A’s team and a oddly mediocre Angels squad. H estarted the year off with little fanfare, and even that came from only fantasy baseball nerds (me) and the 17 Mariners fans left. Without expectations, Pineda was the imposing juggernaut reflected by his hulking stature on the mound. But then came the accolades, the internet buzz and the All-Star berth. All combined, Pineda performed at less than league average in the second half – he still was striking out a ton of guys, but giving up more hits and homers than ever before. As soon as the pressure came, Pineda wilted even in the moderate Seattle weather.

Now let’s extrapolate this situation and add 69,000 times the amount of pressure that he ever had in Seattle. Tonight, people are out in New York, buying shots and dedicating them to the acquisition of Michael Pineda. With the Yanks faithful having to endure a couple years of D-list pitchers supporting ace CC Sabathia, a young, cheap stud like Pineda is a dream come true. I just don’t think that a man whose shown that he doesn’t respond well to pressure can immediately succeed in New York. This is not to say that he’ll never be the dominant force he has the physical tools to be while in pinstripes, but I highly doubt it’ll be an instantaneous and smooth transition. Overall, a great trade for a team that badly needed … Read more...