There is some exciting baseball being played in the American League and National League playoffs. No doubt, there are even fans of teams that didn’t make the playoffs watching the postseason action. But that’s not what really matters to me right now.
My Dodgers made a valiant effort to salvage a season gone horribly wrong by playing good baseball the last month. Finishing above .500 seemed impossible in August, but Donnie Baseball and my Boys in Blue got ‘er done.
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I am watching the playoffs (in between switching back and forth to “Dancing With The Stars” to see if Chaz Bono falls and squashes his/her/its partner). However, I don’t really care whether the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies or anyone else wins the World Series. Well, I would like someone to knock off the Phillies, but that’s just because I’m a jealous hater.
What’s most important to me, though, isn’t who wins in the playoffs. What I care about is what the offseason holds for my Dodgers. I care about what the team is going to do to put itself in the position the Arizona Diamondbacks are in right now — National League West Division champs.
Here is my look at where the Dodgers might/should go as I wait for spring training 2012 (center field, right field and shortstop aren’t going to be discussed because Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Dee Gordon are securely entrenched at those respective positions):
Catcher: Do we want another year of Rod “Strikeout Machine” Barajas, or are we ready to hand the catching keys over to A.J. Ellis and Tim Federowicz? Barajas did hit 16 homers, but he also struck out an average of about once every three plate appearances. A .230 average and an on-base percentage of .287 also don’t help the Barajas cause. I say turn the job over to Ellis and keep Barajas or some other washed up veteran on speed dial. Ellis did hit .271 with a .392 on-base percentage in 31 games last season.
First base: Dang James Loney! Why did he go and complicate things like this? Until August, Loney was a sure bet to be released/traded/euthanized because of his pitiful batting average and lack of offensive production. Then he caught fire and ended up hitting .288 with 12 homers and 65 RBIs. Loney also has said if the team pursues free agent Prince Fielder, he would be glad to move to the outfield. Stop being so nice, James. You’re making it hard to get rid of you! It’s obvious the Dodgers need a power bat besides Kemp, so I say go “All In” on Fielder and let Loney try to reinvent himself somewhere else. We need more production from the first-base position, and Loney’s never going to hit more than 10-15 homers in a season.
Second base: While we’re on the subject of euthanizing someone … anyone know a good hit man who is willing to earn a little down-economy cash for rubbing out an overweight, overage, overpaid infielder by the name of Juan Uribe? Anyone? … Anyone? OK, we’re stuck with Uribe for at least another year. His four homers, 28 RBIs, .204 average and numerous all-you-can-eat buffet binges were a nightmare last season. There’s not much the Dodgers can do here but hope Uribe backs away from the table this offseason and gets healthy. At least we have Justin Sellers waiting in the wings to back up Uribe when he gets hurt again in 2012.
Third base: Does Ron Cey have a son who’s even close to being baseball age? We need help at this position in the worst way. Casey Blake has the best beard in baseball, but he’s 38 years old and can’t play even close to every day. Aaron Miles (3 homers, 45 RBIs) did a great job of filling in everywhere but at pitcher last season, but he’s not the answer for a potent, regular third baseman. Russell Mitchell got 51 at-bats this season, but he hit only .157. He’s 26 years old, so if Mitchell is ever going to be ready, now is the time. I say try to re-sign Blake and see if he is healthy enough to help Mitchell grow into the role as the lead third-base dog. Mitchell hit 16 homers and drove in 69 runs at triple-A Albuquerque this season (while batting .283).
Left field: If you combine the cast of characters who manned left field for the Dodgers this season, the production wasn’t that bad — 11 homers and 94 RBIs. Juan Rivera, Jerry Sands and Tony Gwynn Jr. did an admirable job playing Spin the Left Field Bottle. However, we need someone to step up and take the job. Rivera might be re-signed. Sands seems ready to take over the position — he hit .253 last season with four homers and 26 RBIs in only 61 games. Gwynn is a good utility guy who stole 22 bases last season. I say give Sands the chance to sink or swim in left and keep Gwynn as insurance. With the money we’ll be paying Fielder, we’ll need to let Rivera go his merry way.