Thursday, March 31, 2011

2012 Dodger Roster Early Preview

Well, we finally know what the 2011 Opening Day roster is going to look like.  It's time to look ahead to 2012.  A lot will depend on performance, injuries, trades, development, etc...but there is definite potential for next year's team to look a lot different.

*Click to make bigger

We see a lot of 'Free Agent's and 'Team Option's on the 2012 side of that roster.  Let's take a look and see what we think is likely to happen with each player.

C Rod Barajas
Barajas signed a 1-year deal to replace Russ Martin.  We don't know exactly how that's going to work out yet but we can (hope) be sure that at 35 years old the Dodgers don't see Barajas as the long-term answer at catcher.   However, the Dodgers don't have much at the position in the minor league system.
Chance of Returning: low to medium

C AJ Ellis
Ellis is an interesting player.  In his minor league career he's shown a very good ability to draw walks (.398 OBP, 15% BB/PA) while displaying no power (.375 SLG).  The though on Ellis as a major leaguer has always been that pitchers would just pitch him down the middle since there's little chance of him hitting an extra base hit and a single is no worse than a walk, most of the time.  In Ellis' limited major league experience, he has shown the ability to walk (10% BB/PA) against major leaguers.  Ellis has good bat control showing only a 4% whiff rate (8.5% average) in the bigs.  IF Ellis can continue to get on base he'll make an adequate backup catcher.  Since Ellis has an option left I think his...
Chance of Returning: medium

C Hector Gimenez
Full disclosure: I'd never heard of Gimenez until it appeared that he was going to make the roster.  Gimenez has appeared in 2 major league games in his career, in 2006 for the Astros.  He went 0 - 2.  In his minor league career he's never shown any exceptional ability to hit for power (.403 SLG) or to get on base (.318 OBP).  Word on the street is that he's not a good defensive catcher (hence the need to have Ellis as a backup catcher).  I'd be surprised if Gimenez finishes the season with the Dodgers, let alone begins next season with them.
Chance of Returning: very low

1B James Loney
Loney's offense has been stagnant to going-the-wrong-way since his rookie season while his salary is starting to climb.  2011 should be the decision year for Loney and the Dodgers as to his long-term future with the team.  If Loney can show improved power in 2011 he's probably worth 7-8 million in 2012.  If it's Loney as usual then his 2012 salary will likely outweigh his production and it will be time for the Dodgers to look elsewhere.  The Dodgers reportedly listened to offers for Loney this off seasons, and discussions with the Nationals  were particularly involved.  Also 2011 rising prospect Jerry Sands is a possibility for 1B in 2012.
Chance of Returning: medium

2B Ivan DeJesus
DeJesus was a highly regarded prospect until a 2009 injury sidelined him for the season.  His 2010 wasn't up to the pre-injury standards and he lost some of his luster.  He'll have a few games (ideally more) to impress new manager Don Mattingly at the beginning of 2011.  I'd like to see DeJesus hold down the starting 2B job (at least until Casey Blake returns, and maybe even after) and then stay on the team as a backup infielder in place of Aaron Miles.  DeJesus has options and should be back next season either in LA or Albuquerque.
Chance of Returning: medium

3B Juan Uribe
"World Series Hero" Juan Uribe signed a 3-year deal with LA prior to 2011 so he should be around in 2012.  What position he will play is certainly up for debate and is dependent on what happens with some other players (Blake, Furcal, Gordon, DeJesus).
Chance of Returning: very high

SS Rafael Furcal
Furcal has been a very good player in the 4 seasons he's played in LA.  Unfortunately, those 4 seasons have been spread out over 5 years.  If Furcal can stay somewhat healthy in 2011 I think LA has to pick up his 2012 option.  Dee Gordon is an interesting (polarizing.  Some think he's the bee's knees, some don't get all the buzz) prospect but unless he really shows something in 2011 I doubt LA will turn over SS to him in 2011.
Chance of Returning: high to med

IF Jamey Carroll
Carroll had a surprisingly productive 2010 filling in for Furcal, Blake, and Blake 2 De(return)Witt. Carroll put up a career high (by 1 point) on base percentage.  His 2.4 WAR almost matched his combined total for the previous 3 years (2.9).  He's going to be 37 this year, 2 years older than the first time he signed with LA but if he performs again he may be back.
Chance of Returning: low

IF Aaron Miles
Miles isn't really a good player.  His bat (as measured by wRC+) is 72% of the average major leaguer's bat.  And his defense is no real reason to have him on the roster either.  At least he isn't Juan Castro.
Chance of Returning: very low

LF Tony Gwynn jr.
Gwynn signed with LA a year after...sucking at hitting the ball with San Diego.  Gwynn should see a lot of time spelling Thames et al in LF and pinch running.  There's also a chance that Gwynn gets some at bats and does something with them or the Dodgers become totally enamored with his defense.  Gwynn is eligible for arbitration so if he performs the Dodgers can bring him back.
Chance of Returning: medium

CF Matt Kemp
Kemp looked poised for stardom following a 2009 season in which he put up 5 WAR and improved his:  walk rate, strikeout rate, on base percentage, slugging and UZR.  Unfortunately, 2010 saw him date Rihanna and everything possible about his game suffered (not to imply causation).  Unless he slips even further in 2012 'the Bison' will almost surely be back for 2012.
Chance of Returning: very high

RF Andre Eithier
Eithier, like Kemp, signed a 2-year deal prior to 2010.  Also like Kemp, Eithier exploded out of the gates in 2011 (.428 wOBA in April, .585 wOBA in May).  Then Ethier broke his pinky finger and couldn't pick up where he left off.  Either has been a steady performer though and there's no reason to think that his 2011, and then, 2012 would be any different.
Chance of Returning: very high

OF Marcus Thames
Thames signed prior to 2010 to be 1/2 of a LF platoon.  Unfortunately, he doesn't really have a platoon partner.  Being a platoon guy without a partner is much like not having a place on a team.  Not having a place on a team makes one unlikely to be on the team-especially two years in a row.  There's always a chance that the 'left' portion of the LF platoon sucks so bad the Thames gets at bats vs righties.  If that happens there's a chance he hits some home runs vs those righties.  If that happens there's a chance Colletti signs him to a 3-year $30 million deal[/hopefully sarcasm].
Chance of Returning: Low

OF Xavier Paul
Paul has put up some decent minor league numbers but shown nothing in a few major league at bats.  In the minors Paul showed a decent ability to get on base (.360 OBP), hints of doubles power (.449 SLG), some speed and a glove that might be adequate in center and good for the corners.  Paul is quite useful as a 4th or 5th outfielder.  If the Dodgers don't see Gibbons as a starting outfielder when he comes off the DL then Paul will have a chance to stick with the team through the season.  I think this is in the Dodgers' best interests.  As Paul is out of options, he cannot be sent to the minors without clearing waivers-and I think some team would claim him.
Chance of Returning: low

DL-3B Casey Blake
Blake came over at the 2008 trade deadline.  He performed will in 2008 helping LA to the NL West championship.  2009 was an excellent year for Blake as he put up 4.6 WAR.  2010 was seen as a down year for Blake but he still managed 2.8 WAR which is a typical Blake season. A decline in offense (especially against right-handed batters) have many bloggers calling for Blake's head (or at least his butt on the bench) but I'm not convinced that he's finished.  Still, what happens to Blake in 2012 depends on how he performs in 2011 as LA has a team option for the season.  Starting the season on the DL doesn't help (him).  What might help him is that the Dodgers don't have any 3B prospects ready to contribute though Juan Uribe could play third.
Chance of Returning: medium

DL-C Dioner Navarro
Navarro was acquired by LA in 2005 for Shawn Green and anointed Dodgers' catcher of the future.  Well, now it is 2011 and here's Navarro.  Navarro actually got a chance in 2005 and 2006 with LA and played pretty well.  But he got Wally Pipped by Russ Martin. Navarro had a good 2008 with the Rays and has been terrible since then.  Just 27, he has talent, and he deserves a chance.  One million bucks is a low risk gamble to see if Navarro can become useful again.
Chance of Returning: low

DL-OF Jay Gibbons
Gibbons played well in Baltimore in 2002 and again in 2005.  Baltimore is a long ways away from LA and 2005 is a long time away from 2011.  Gibbons did put up a .346 wOBA in 80 at bats for LA last year.  Then this spring he got new contacts, didn't have any depth perception, couldn't hit or catch the ball.  The chance that Gibbons has a good year this year: small.
Chance of Returning: very low

SP Clayton Kershaw
23 years old.  26 - 23 3.17 ERA, 483 innings, 497 K's.
Chance of Returning: 97.9%+the title of Jonah Keri's new book.

SP Chad Billingsley
CBills and Kershaw are about the best #2 and #1 rotation pitching you could reasonable expect your farm system to produce at the same time.  CBills has put up strong number every year since his call up in 2006.  LA needs to lock both pitchers up for the next few seasons.  EDIT:  Billingsley has agreed to a 3 year extension + an option for the 4th year.

SP Hiroki Kuroda
Kuroda signed a 3 year deal prior to the 2008 season and has pitched 3 solid seasons.  Kuroda apparently decided he would either stay in LA or return to Japan following 2010.  Obviously, he chose to stay in LA.  He'll likely face the same decision after the season.  Kuroda will be a valuable trade piece at the deadline but I'd hate to see the Dodgers send him away after he's made it clear he wants to stay in LA and signed a below market deal to come back in 2011.
Chance of Returning: medium to low

SP Ted Lilly
Lily was acquired at the 2010 deadline.  He pitched well for LA down the stretch.  After Cliff Lee...way after Cliff Lee...he was on of the top free agent starters following the season.  The Dodgers had only Kershaw and Billingsley in the rotation so they signed Lilly for 3 years.  Lilly should pitch well enough in 2k11 to avoid being released and should be back in 2012.
Chance of Returning: very high

RP Jon Broxton
Broxton was lights out until Joe Torre ruined him by allowing him to throw about 1000 pitches in 4 consecutive games in June then it all went to crap.
APR 1.18
MAY 1.83
JUNE 2.24
JULY 4.22
AUG 4.04
SEP 7.00
If Broxton returns to pitching like he did pre 2nd half of 2010, he'd be a nice trade piece for a contender. If he doesn't, the LA won't want him back on the $10 million contract he'd likely earn in arbitration.
Chance of Returning: low

RP Hong-Chih Kuo
Kuo has had eleventy surgeries on his left arm, but he still manages to dominate opposing hitters.  Kuo struck out 28 of 69 left-handed batters in 2010 while allowing 6 hits.  Next year will be Kuo's last year of arbitration and if he remains healthy in 2011 there's no reason that he shouldn't return to LA for 1 more year.

RP Matt Guerrier
Guerrier is an average reliever who's been able (lucky?) to end up with mostly above average results.  I hope that continues to because he's gonna be in LA for a while.
Chance of Returning: very high

RP Kenley Jansen
Jansen was a minor league catcher a year and a half ago.  Now he's a major league relief pitcher.  Jansen blew hitters away in both the minors (15.4 K/9) and the majors (13.7 K/9).  The walk rate (5+ BB/9) and the rawness make me temper the 2011 a bit.  I look forward to 2012 and beyond.
Chance of Returning: very high

RP Blake Hawksworth
Hawksworth was highly rated prospect in the Cardinals system but never really panned out.  He's pitched 130 major league innings of replacement level ball.  He'll be eligible for arbitration after the season so if he pitches well the Dodgers can bring him back.
Chance of Returning: low

RP Mike MacDougal
MacDougal has saved 70 big league games in his 10 seasons.  Not that saves really mean anything other than MacDougal's been around.  There was a time when MacDougal had the stuff to strike out around a batter per inning but recently he's been striking out about a batter per walk.
Chance of Returning: very low

RP Lance Cormier
Lance Cormier made the team.  He walked more than he struck out last year.  Cormier has been around and we know what he is-a completely replaceable pitcher.  He won't last the year in LA, let alone next.
Chance of Returning: very low

DL Jon Garland
Garland returns for his 2nd stint in blue.  The first was 6 starts in 2009.  Garland is more known for his durability than for his skill.  Of course, he starts 2011 on the DL.  The 2012 option becomes guaranteed with 190 innings pitched in 2011.  What was likely to vest now becomes less likely.  For the option to be picked up Garland would have to pitch well enough to out earn the contract AND the Dodgers would have to have $ to spend in 2012.  
Chance of Returning: low to medium

DL Vicente Padilla
Padilla has been around (4 teams) and has generally pitched well.  He posts decent ground ball rates and averagish K and BB rates.  His 134.1 (is that really all?) innings in LA have well exceeded his career averages.  Padilla signed a incentive laden $2 million contract to pitch for LA in 2011.  It was unsure at the time (and still is) whether he'd pitch out of the pen or in the rotation.  Padilla's return depends on his 2011 performance (of course) and other roster decisions (of course).  It's not out of the realm of possibility that the Dodgers could be in a similar situation next year.
Chance of Returning: low to medium

There's a lot of empty spaces on the right side of that roster.

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