Monday, January 30, 2012

Baseball Prospectus releases its Top 20 Dodgers' prospects for 2012

Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus revealed his Top 20 Dodgers' prospects today. There are a few surprises -- good and bad -- but the top three are expected.

In fact, Goldstein's top three and mine are the same. Here's the Top 20 (my rankings in parenthesis):
  1. Zach Lee (1)
  2. Nathan Eovaldi (2)
  3. Allen Webster (3)
  4. Chris Reed (19)
  5. Garrett Gould (4)
  6. Chris Withrow (12)
  7. Alfredo Silverio (11)
  8. Joc Pederson (6)
  9. Alex Castellanos (21)
  10. Angel Sanchez (5)
  11. Shawn Tolleson (8)
  12. James Baldwin (16)
  13. Tim Federowicz (30)
  14. Ethan Martin (37)
  15. Josh Lindblom (14)
  16. Aaron Miller (24)
  17. Gorman Erickson (13)
  18. Scott Van Slyke (15)
  19. Kyle Russell (43)
  20. Steve Ames (17)
Biggest surprise: Castellanos
Biggest head-scratcher(s): Federowicz and Martin

I get Reed at No. 4, as I'm not nearly as high on him as others. I hope he shuts me up with a strong 2012 with the Quakes. Castellanos cracking the Top 10 is surprising, considering he wasn't on the Cardinals' Top 30 heading into last season. It's also nice to see someone else with Sanchez rated in the Top 10. I also like seeing Erickson on there, but I think he's better than Federowicz.

Speaking of Federowicz, I still don't get the fascination with this guy. Yes, his glove is good and he should have a long career in the Majors -- but as a backup catcher. He doesn't possess a good hit tool and has minimal power at best. Baseball America ranked him No. 10 in the system. I had him at No. 30. I'm no authority, but I just don't see him being all that special.

As for Martin, I get the stuff. I really do. A mid-90s fastball and a power curveball (and plus-athleticism) is something to be excited about. However, he had those things when he was drafted more than three years ago. He simply cannot throw enough strikes to be effective (at this point in his career). I'm probably a bit harsh on him -- placing him at No. 37 -- but he doesn't belong anywhere near the Dodgers' Top 20, let alone the Top 15.

Noticeably absent are Jake Lemmerman, Blake Smith and Angelo Songco. Admittedly, I don't have a premium subscription to BP, so I can't read what Goldstein had to say, but I asked him about the trio on Twitter and this was his response:
"Wrote about Smith in piece, all 3 just missed. RT : No faith in guys like Songco, Lemmerman or B. Smith?"
I know I probably overrated them a tad, but these guys are all deserving of the Dodgers' Top 20. It isn't like there's a bunch of 4- and 5-star prospects preventing them from making it. In fact, Lee is the Dodgers' only 4-star prospect; everyone else in the Top 20 is a 3-star prospect.

A solid list overall. I know I don't get paid to do this or have access to scouts, but it's always nice to see what others think about the Dodgers' system -- especially professionals.

The BA Prospect Handbook is live, but I won't have mine until late February. Oh well, it'll give me something to write about then.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Number of prospective Dodgers' owners down to eight

It isn't often that $1 billion isn't enough money, but that was exactly the case for a lot of prospective Dodger bidders on Friday.

Two of the biggest names -- Mark Cuban and Dennis Gilbert -- were informed their initial bids did not get them to the second round.

Gilbert getting ousted is not too shocking, as Frank McCourt gets to make the final decision and Gilbert is buddy-buddy with MLB Commissioner Bud Selig (not exactly McCourt's favorite person right now).

Cuban has stood firm on the amount of money he'd spend on the Dodgers -- or any baseball team, for that matter. Cuban told this to the Los Angeles Times in November:
"'I don't think the Dodgers franchise is worth twice what the Rangers are worth.'"
Besides, he's only (using this loosely) worth upward of $2.3 billion, so it would have been really surprising to see him put up more than half his net worth to buy the Dodgers. But he's a smart man and I'm sure he could have found a way to make it work.

Cuban's been weary of buying the Dodgers for too much since November, so it's not that surprising he's out after the first round.

I know when the Dodgers first went on the market, a lot of folks wanted Cuban to end up owning the team. He's proven with the Dallas Mavericks that he'll spend the money to win. But this could be a good thing for everyone involved.

The Orel Hershiser-Steve Garvey group is also out of the bidding.

The confirmed remaining bidders are:
  • Steve Cohen
  • Stanley Gold/Roy Disney
  • Leo Hindery/Marc Utay
  • Magic Johnson/Stan Kasten
  • Stan Kroenke
  • Josh Macciello
  • Peter O'Malley
  • Joe Torre/Rick Caruso
Macciello confirmed, on his Twitter account, that he's still in it -- at least, one could deduce that from this:
"love That Pearl Jam song 'I'm still alive'"
So there you have it. The Johnson-Kasten group remains my favorite and is probably the favorite overall.

Man, April 6 cannot get here soon enough.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Hiroki Kuroda wanted to stay and the possible Rams-Dodgers connection

Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times caught up with former-Dodger-turned Yankee Hiroki Kuroda and confirmed what a lot of Dodger fans suspected: he wanted to stay in Los Angeles.
"Asked whether he would have remained with the Dodgers had they made him a reasonable offer, Kuroda said, 'It's hard to talk about something hypothetical. Obviously, I was comfortable there. I liked it there. My family liked it there.'

In fact, Kuroda said his wife and two school-age daughters will remain in Los Angeles while he is in New York next season.

'Part of me is sad to leave Los Angeles,' he said. 'I loved the atmosphere of the stadium.'"

So, anyone who claims Kuroda wasn't loyal or went back on his word can shove it. The guy wanted to be a Dodger and Ned Colletti failed to make that happen.

And how the hell were the Dodgers going to fit Kuroda in after signing Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano? Kuroda is obviously better and he would have bumped one of them to the bullpen, but what the hell is Colletti thinking? Just another in the long line of missteps by the Dodgers' GM.


Earlier this week, prospective bidders for the Dodgers' ownership placed preliminary bids. There were the usual names -- Magic Johnson, Joe Torre, Mark Cuban, et al -- but a new name entered the fray: Stan Kroenke.

Kroenke is the new owner of the St. Louis Rams and there's a lot of speculation the Rams could be on their way back to L.A. -- even moreso after Kroenke "explored" a possible bid for the Dodgers.

While the rules are not exactly straightforward, Forbes' reporter Mike Ozanian had this to say:
"NFL rules prohibit an owner from having controlling interest in a major sports team outside of the football team’s market."
"Even if Kroenke doen’t get the Dodgers, the fact that he is bidding for the team implies the Rams are bolting for L.A."
As a Rams' fan, this is great news. Of course, it's a bit presumptuous at this point. The Rams cannot move before 2014 and the Dodgers' ownership situation is set to be resolved by April 6 (with the new owner taking over April 30).

Then there's this from Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk:
"If Kroenke owns the Dodgers and another team moves to Los Angeles, how would the NFL’s cross-ownership rules apply? Currently, an owner of an NFL team can own a non-football team in another market as long as there’s no NFL team in that market. If Kroenke buys a baseball team in Los Angeles, which would be permissible, and then an NFL team other than the one owned by Kroenke moves there, the situation could get dicey, to say the least."
"It may be that Kroenke would merely be required at that point to transfer the paperwork of the Dodgers to another family member. Regardless, it would be hard not to view a purchase of the Dodgers as a potential precursor to moving the Rams to the same town."
So, who the hell knows?

I doubt Kroenke -- despite being a billionaire -- is going to spread his money that thin. He dropped $450 million on the Rams (a 60-percent share) and I don't think he'll be in the rumored $1.5-plus billion bidding unless he partners up with one of the billionaire super groups.

Still, the prospect of the Dodgers getting a wealthy owner and the Rams returning to Los Angeles makes me all giddy. But it's early in the process -- I should really temper my enthusiasm until more news potentially breaks.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Report: Dodgers were in on Prince Fielder

Maybe Ned Colletti does read Dodger blogs, as the Dodgers were reportedly finalists for Prince Fielder's services.

From Jon Heyman of CBS Sports:
"The Dodgers' attempt at Fielder, with a high annual salary on the four years Fielder was guaranteed to be a Dodger and the always favorable player opt out, is believed to have put them among the final three teams in on Fielder..."
I kind of wish I didn't know that.

The details -- as limited as they are right now -- had the Dodgers paying Fielder $26 million for the first four years and "in the low $20-million range" for the last three years. There was also an opt-out clause in the contract.

I, and others, have written about Fielder to the Dodgers before he signed with the Tigers this week. It made sense. But in the end, it's hard to blame him for not taking a 7-year, $160ish million deal instead of a 9-year, $214 million deal.

This is, most likely, the last time I'll write about him in detail. Good luck to him in Detroit. It's too bad Victor Martinez had to go and tear his ACL. The Dodgers will enter the season with James Loney at first base, which was to be expected all along.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Will any Dodgers make's Top 100 prospect list?

Jonathan Mayo of is releasing his Top 100 prospects for 2012 tonight, first with a Top 50 show on MLB Network (7 p.m. Pacific) followed by the Top 100 on the website.

The question for Dodger fans is, how many Isotopes, Lookouts, Quakes, Loons or Raptors will make it?

Last year, Dee Gordon was the only Dodger to make's Top 50 list, coming in at No. 44. Ethan Martin (somehow) came in at No. 55.

This season, it appears there are only three viable candidates for spots on the list: Nathan Eovaldi, Zach Lee and Allen Webster.

These three are generally regarded as the Dodgers' top prospects.

Both Lee and Webster made Baseball America's Top 50 midseason list from July and while Baseball America is not, it's pretty likely we'll see one, if not both, of these guys on the list.

Eovaldi is a different cat. If people value him as a potential starter (as I do), he could crack the Top 100. If not, he probably won't make the list.

Here are my predictions for the trio and the Top 100:

48. Lee
67. Wesbter
89. Eovaldi

We'll see what happens. Lee has the ability to be a Top 50 guy on all lists with his No. 2 starter potential (No. 1 if he really turns it up this season). Webster struggled late last season and that will probably hurt his ranking. Eovaldi's long-term concerns to remain a starter knock him down, but not out of the Top 100.

The Dodgers' farm system is in the bottom-third of all farm systems in the game. A lot of good players graduated from last year's list, hurting the system overall. To get three in the Top 100 would be impressive.


The minimum bid price for the Dodgers is set at a $1.5 billion, according to an article on Tuesday from Forbes.

Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness looks at Matt Kemp's contract now and how great it is compared with the Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols contracts.

Chad Moriyama has his own breakdown of the potential Dodger ownership groups. Mike A. of Dodgers Rumors also has a breakdown of the potential owners.

Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. is spending six weeks at Camelback Ranch for Dodgers' Spring Training, and he looks at Andre Ethier's radio appearance yesterday.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Prince Fielder agrees to 9-year deal with Tigers

Well, that just happened.

Prince Fielder, the man who would have been perfect hitting behind Matt Kemp, just agreed to a 9-year, $214 million deal with the Detroit Tigers today.

Fielder will take Victor Matrinez's spot in the lineup, as he suffered a torn ACL last week and could miss the vast majority of the 2012 season.

Preliminary reports make it sound like he'll play first base for the Tigers, forcing all-world hitter Miguel Cabrera to change positions. Cabrera came up as a shortstop and has experience in left field and at third base.

Having said that, the Tigers do have the benefit of the designated hitter, so I'm betting the two split time at first and DH.

There was talk he might consider a 1-year deal to hit the market next off-season when the Dodgers could afford him. That obviously went by the wayside.

Instead, super agent Scott Boras worked his magic again, landing Fielder a 9-year commitment and more than $200 million.

It now seems the Dodgers are going to have to acquire a big bat via the trade market once a new owner is in place. The best bat available next off-season is Josh Hamilton, who isn't the most durable player and I'm sure the Rangers wouldn't want to let him walk so easily.

A name to keep an eye on is David Wright of the Mets. They're going nowhere fast and Wright isn't the lifetime Met many thought he would be. He has a $16 million option for 2013 (I think... Cot's is down at the moment) that isn't a no-brainer for the Mets to exercise.

Fielder would have been nice, but it wasn't meant to be (and certainly not for that contract). I've already written about how the Dodgers blew their chance -- even with limited funds (or so we thought). The $23.8 million average annual value isn't absurd, but the nine-year duration is less-than desirable.

James Loney's job is safe -- for now.

Monday, January 23, 2012

At least 10 billionaires submit inital bids to buy the Dodgers

Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times has the first story on at least 10 billionaires who submit opening bids to buy the Dodgers today.

The names revealed include Magic Johnson (and Stan Kasten), Mark Cuban, Joe Torre (and Rick Caruso), Steven Cohen, Peter O'Malley, Stanley Gold (and Disney) and Dennis Gilbert.

Two new bidders came to the forefront today: St. Louis Rams' owner Stan Kroenke, who is decided whether to place a bid, and New York investors Leo Hindery and Marc Utay, who attempted to buy the Chicago Cubs two years ago.

Kroenke recently purchased the Rams and there is speculation he might attempt to move the team back to Los Angeles after the 2014 season.

Update (9:11 p.m., Jan. 23): Molly Knight of ESPN the Magazine confirmed the group led by Orel Hershiser and Steve Garvey also submitted a bid today.

She also wonders about a man worth more than $7 billion -- Los Angeles' Patrick Soon-Shiong. He bought Johnson's minority stake with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2010.

Today's deadline was a soft one and, as Ramona Shelburne of ESPN LA tweeted last night, the bids can change and the bidders have no obligation to follow through on the bids.

The sale price is expected to be upward of $1.5 billion.


Jared Massey of L.A. Dodger Report has a look at Angelo Songco, who was No. 13 on his Top 20 Dodgers' prospect list.

Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness just wants a team to sign Prince Fielder, even if it isn't the Dodgers.

Brandon Lennox of True Blue L.A. has finished the first half of his 200-prospect countdown.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dodgers' news from around the Web

Other than the Dodgers being $573 million in debt, there isn't much going on right now. So, I'll link to some posts from other Dodger blogs.

But first, chew on this from the L.A. Times' Bill Shaikin:
"McCourt owes $573m in team debt, $131m to ex-wife, up to $200m on tax liability. That's up to $904m, with any Stow liability TBD. "
Frank McCourt is nearly $1 billion in debt. That's mind-blowing. After the sale, which Bob Nightengale of USA Today predicts will be $1.73 billion, McCourt could still live comfortably for 25 lifetimes, despite debt. Insane and unfair.

Around the Web

Evan Bladh of Opinion of Kingman's Performance has a great post about my all-time favorite Dodger, Mike Piazza. He recalls when Piazza was traded to the Marlins and when he returned to Los Angeles for the first time as a Met in 1998. There is absolutely no way the Dodgers should have traded Piazza.

Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness reminds us all of the glorious fact that McCourt has 100 days (hopefully less) as the Dodgers' owner.

Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts, inspired by Bladh's Piazza post, looks at every other team's Dodger MVP.

Jared Massey of L.A. Dodger Report announced he's moving over to to be a Dodger contributor there. Best of luck to you, Jared!

Scott Andes at Lasorda's Lair wonders if the Dodgers should bat A.J. Ellis at leadoff. The answer to this question is absolutely not, but it's an interesting question to ponder. If anything, he could bat in the 2-hole, but his lack of speed would really hurt him there. He'll likely bat seventh or eighth the entire season.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Is Clayton Kershaw worth $10 million?


I could easily end the post right there -- and I contemplated it -- but I figure I'd go a little more in depth on the topic.

The 23-year-old is asking for $10 million in his first year of arbitration while the Dodgers offered him $6.5 million.

That's a lot for a guy's first year of arbitration. It isn't surprising to see the Dodgers come in $3.5 million short of that number.

The midpoint is $8.25 million, which would be a fair amount. However, the Dodgers would just be better off trying to sign him to a long-term deal (which probably won't happen until new ownership is in place, i.e. next winter).

But his performance in his short career puts him in some solid company.

According to Baseball-Reference, his similarity scores of pitchers through age 23 include Vida Blue (a Cy Young and MVP Award winner), Dontrelle Willis (a Rookie of the Year winner and a guy who led the Majors in wins at age 23 and finished second in Cy Young voting) and former Dodger Ramon Martinez (second place CYA, led Majors in complete games in age-22 season).

All of these guys were good pitchers at this point in their careers. Blue had a solid career, Willis fell off the face of the earth and Martinez was never the same pitcher after his age-22 season. Now, that doesn't mean Kershaw will go in that direction -- he's a special talent -- but it's just interesting to note.

His similarity score to pitchers overall include Josh Johnson, David Price, Ricky Romero and Yovani Gallardo.

All these guys have at one point been the ace of their staffs. Price and Romero rank as two of the best lefties in the league and Johnson is probably the most talented of the quartet -- and the most injury prone. Galladro seems to be coming into his own at the ripe old age of 25.

So, is the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner worth $10 million in his first year of arbitration? Of course. Will he get it? I'd say there's a solid chance he will. Without Kim Ng -- unparalleled when it comes to negotiating arbitration cases -- Kershaw's chances of winning increase dramatically.

Still, I'm hoping they just meet in the middle to avoid the whole process while continuing to work on a long-term deal.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dodgers avoid arbitration with Andre Ethier and James Loney

The Dodgers avoided arbitration today with Andre Ethier and James Loney, signing them both to 1-year deals.

Ethier will earn, surprisingly, $10.95 million as a base salary. Tony Jackson has the contract details:
"Ethier's deal is one year, $10.95 mill plus $25,000 for each of 600 and 625 plate appearances. He has reached 600 PAs just once, in 2009"
It's surprising because he made $9.25 million last year and he was almost a lock to make at least $11- or $12 million in base salary. Instead, he got an 18 percent raise (thanks to Jon Weisman for pointing that out).

Even without Kim Ng looming, the Dodgers were able to get Ethier for less than a lot of people thought.

The base contract is $45,000 less than the Dodgers' second-highest paid player for 2012: Ted Lilly.

Mike Petriello pointed out Lilly will make $12 million this year, as he's due a $1.5 million signing bonus in April. So by April, barring something totally unexpected, Lilly will be the team's highest paid player. That's awfully depressing.

Jackson also has the details of Loney's contract:
"Loney deal is $6.375 mill plus $25k for 585 PAs, $50k for each of 625/650 PAs. Would max out at $6.5 mill"
As Weisman points out, Loney got a 31 percent raise. I was expecting somewhere in the range of a $6- to $7 million contract for Loney, so this isn't too bad. And the only reason he's still a Dodger is because of his late-season surge.

However, with that money and the $18.75 million the Dodgers spent on spare parts this off-season, they could have easily landed Hiroki Kuroda, Prince Fielder and a couple of the other guys General Manager Ned Colletti just had to have.

Sorry, had to get that dig in there.

Clayton Kershaw is expected to go to arbitration, as the two sides couldn't agree to a contract before the deadline.

The kid is gonna get paid. It'd be nice to lock him up long-term, but I suspect that will happen next winter.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Why is Ned Colletti in a rush to sign mediocre free agents?

Since Ned Colletti was named Dodgers' general manager in late 2005, he's always been in a rush to sign free agents. One has to wonder why that is. It has cost the Dodgers a lot and is just a bad practice in general.

Here are all Colletti's major signings in November and December:

December 2005
Bill Mueller
Nomar Garciaparra
Rafael Furcal
Kenny Lofton
Brett Tomko

November 2006
Garciaparra (re-signed)
Juan Pierre
Randy Wolf

December 2006
Luis Gonzalez
Jason Schmidt

December 2007
Andruw Jones
Hiroki Kuroda

December 2008
Casey Blake (re-signed)
Furcal (re-signed)

December 2009
Jamey Carroll

November 2010
Kuroda (re-signed)
Jon Garland
Juan Uribe

December 2010
Rod Barajas
Vicente Padilla
Matt Guerrier

November 2011
Juan Rivera
Mark Ellis

December 2011
Chris Capuano
Jerry Hairston
Aaron Harang

Some of these signings were good: Furcal (both times), Garciaparra (first time), Lofton, Wolf (both times) and Kuroda (both times).

However, most of these signings were made in haste, either costing the Dodgers money by not playing the market and not playing young players or losing out to superior players. And the Dodgers haven't signed any elite players in this time period.

Colletti's refusal to trust -- or even give a legitimate chance to -- young players was apparent in 2007 and even today. In November 2006, he re-signed Garciaparra to a 2-year, $18 million contract without blinking. James Loney was fully ready to take over.

Pierre, being pursued by only the Giants in November 2006, was signed before the market could even play out. The Giants had reportedly offered him a contract in the neighborhood of $30 million over three years. Colletti, for some reason, felt compelled to give Pierre five guaranteed years and $14 million more.

Was Kenny Lofton's 2006 performance (.301/.360/.403) not good enough? It was better than anything Pierre did in his time as a Dodger, except when he was (rightfully so) a part-time player for the team in 2008. Yet, Colletti didn't even give re-signing Lofton a second thought. Curious, as Lofton was approaching age 40 and seemed to be right up Colletti's alley. I guess Pierre was more the player he was looking for. It's one of the only times Colletti has chosen a younger player instead of an older player.

With Torii Hunter, Andruw Jones, Aaron Rowand and Ichiro Suzuki all 2008 free agents (at the time of Pierre's deal -- Suzuki signed an extension with the Mariners later that season), Colletti couldn't possibly have waited for a better player? I know he eventually signed Jones (who busted) and Rowand got a ridiculous contract, but it's the principle of the matter.

The same thing happened when he signed Luis Gonzalez for the 2007 season. Ethier was ready to take over in left field, putting up a .308/.365/.477 as a rookie in 441 plate appearances. Instead, he and Kemp were forced to split time with the likes of Gonzalez and Pierre. The Dodgers won 82 games in 2007 and probably wouldn't have been much worse off getting Ethier and Kemp 500 at-bats.

I was actually on board with the Schmidt and Jones signings, so I can't be too upset about those.

However, jumping at the bit to re-sign Blake after his less-than half-season with the Dodgers was inexcusable. The Dodgers had Blake DeWitt, who, in hindsight, wasn't the greatest option, capable of playing third base until someone better came along.

The fact that he gave Blake three guaranteed years when the only team seriously in on him was the Minnesota Twins is a classic example of the market playing Colletti. It should be the other way around. Blake had a fine 2009 season, but was not great and riddled with injuries after that, which isn't exactly abnormal for a 36-year-old player.

A good -- or even somewhat competent GM -- would play the market and not get taken in by past success, irrational mistrust of young players and minimal postseason success.

Which leads us to one Juan Uribe. He was signed on Nov. 30, 2011 when there was absolutely no reason to sign a guy like that to a contract like that (3 years, $21 million). Once again, the Giants and Colletti were in competition for a bad baseball player, and the Dodgers, unfortunately, won again.

Colletti was also in such a rush to sign Guerrier that he inexplicably gave him a 3-year contract.

If that wasn't bad enough, the 2011 off-season might take the cake. We know the Dodgers weren't going to be in on Albert Pujols, but why was Colletti's priority to sign replacement-level players (Rivera, Ellis, Capuano, Harang) and guys who deserve minor-league deals only (Kennedy, Matt Treanor) over guys like Kuroda and Prince Fielder?

No one knows for sure, but Colletti's refusal to trust young players could be an explanation.

Rivera was signed when Jerry Sands is perfectly capable of taking the reins. Ellis was signed in lieu of using a combination of Ivan DeJesus and Justin Sellers. Capuano and Harang are expected to replace Kuroda's production, which likely won't happen. Those guys are decent options at the back of the rotation, but the money they're earning $6 million (total) this season -- $6 million that could have been used to re-sign Kuroda and go with a rookie (Nathan Eovaldi) or a non-roster invitee (a player who always seems to find his way onto the Dodgers).

The Dodgers have needed a real bat for years (not Jones, not J.D. Drew, etc.). Prince Fielder is available and the Dodgers don't even think twice about pursuing him. I know the ownership situation is a mess, but every guaranteed contract this off-season (save Rivera and MacDougal's) has an uneven split between 2012 and 2013.

The Dodgers have spent $18.75 million this off-season on nine players, none of whom couldn't have been replaced by minor-league talent or non-roster invitees (I'm OK with the Gwynn signing, though).

The Dodgers could have signed both Kuroda and Fielder (with deferred money, of course) and have been a better team. Instead, Fielder is still a free agent, Kuroda signed with the Yankees and the Dodgers are not any better right now (arguably worse) than they were at the end of the 2011 season.

It's easy to rip Colletti and call him a double agent (working for the Giants). We all know he isn't, but some of the moves really make you wonder. Then again, he "crafted" his trade under Brian Sabean, the undisputed king of signing over-the-hill free agents and not trusting young players.

Colletti's job hasn't been easy the last couple of years, but the misallocation of resources has never been more apparent. I mean, the Dodgers are still paying for the likes of Manny Ramirez and Jones, Kuroda's signing bonus ($1.5 million this January and $2.5 million next January) and just got done paying off deferred money and signing bonuses from Pierre's and Furcal's contracts. That, and striking out on free agents, has kept the Dodgers from being serious championship contenders.

The 2008 and 2009 squads had the talent to make it as far as the National League Championship Series. Running into a hot Phillies' team both years didn't help, but having the ability to add a key piece (Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, etc.) would have gone a long way to bringing a championship back to Los Angeles.

Dodger blogger profile: Ernest Reyes (Blue Heaven)

In the seventh part of my Dodger Blogger Profile series, I check in with Ernest Reyes of Blue Heaven.

If you're an L.A. sports fan, I'm sure you already know about the blog. It's one of the most comprehensive for all Los Angeles sports. It also has a card-collecting component, if you're into that stuff*.

*- I'm a recovering card-collecting junkie, so I'm certainly not judging.

Reyes was inspired by Jon Weisman at Dodger Thoughts and has been blogging since 2006.

1. How did you become a Dodgers' fan?
- I’ve been a Dodger as long as I can remember. I was originally born in Inglewood and subsequently moved with my family at very young age to Orange County in the mid-to-late-'70s. I’m often asked why the Dodgers instead of the Angels since I was young enough to not have strong geographic ties? And to be frank, I don’t have a really good answer. For whatever reason, I always identified with the Dodgers. Whether it was the rise of Fernando Valenzuela, who I thought at my young age looked like my father, my nightly radio listening to Vin Scully in the summer or my understanding and respect for Dodger history. I just don’t know.

2. What got you into blogging?
- I became an active reader of blogs starting at about 2005. At the time it was mostly business and political blogs that struck my fancy, but soon I discovered sports blogs. Then, I ran into Jon Weisman’s Dodger Thoughts and immediately searched high and low for Dodger/Baseball blogs to read. Seeing that there were not many out there that really focused on my interest (around 2006), I figured I would give it a try. I wanted to do something a little different and decided to focus on two of my passions with the blog -- the Dodgers and collecting.

3. What are some of goals for your blog?
- My main goal when I started was to just fill up my time with something I enjoyed -- that is, talking about the team and my hobby. If you look back at my early post you’ll see that I was much more active in writing about specific games and the goings on with the team than collecting cards. I’ve now focused more on the hobby and collecting side of the Dodgers more so than talking about some of the happenings with the franchise. Who knows, maybe I go back to how I started and start doing game recaps again. I dunno, I guess you can say that I’m a little fickle like that.

Anyway, long story short, I ultimately want to just have fun with the blog. My earlier aspirations (dreams) that I might be able to make a living doing this have abated, so fun and recreation is my main motivation. That said, if someone wants to hire me to do this then I’m all ears.

4. What is the best experience you've had since blogging?
- There are two that immediately come to mind. First, it was being invited to the Blogger Nights in a suite by the Dodger PR department. It truly has made this adventure worthwhile. The second reason is being able to spend an evening in the press box reporting on a game. Although I don’t know if I’d do it again (I had a very difficult time not cheering) I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

5. What is your most memorable in-person Dodgers' experience?
- I think I kinda answered that above. Playing reporter for a game, being able to go to the press box, seeing Vin Scully (and being too scared to introduce myself), going into the clubhouse and standing on the field before the game. It was just awesome. Awesome!

6. How many Dodger games have you attended? At Dodger Stadium?
- I have no idea. While in college I went to quite a few. A college roommate my freshman year was more rabid than I was so we often went when time was available. As I’ve gotten older, being able to go has been more difficulty; especially considering I live in south OC.

7. Who is your all-time favorite Dodger player and pitcher?
- My all-time favorite Dodger is Jackie Robinson. I love the history of the franchise. When it comes to a favorite pitcher it would have to be Fernando Valenzuela.

8. What season of Dodgers' baseball do you remember most? Why?
- 1988. That season, the playoffs and World Series still resonate vividly in my mind.

9. Who is the Dodger you liked that no one else seemed to like?
- This is a very good question and I don’t know if I have a good answer. Tom Niedenfuer, maybe? I’ve read the many complaints folks had about him, but I was fairly young when he was the closer and I always put a great amount of faith on him- even when things didn’t turn out the way we wanted. Still, I always liked the guy.

10. What do you the Dodgers need to do to win another World Series in your lifetime (save axing McCourt and Colletti)?
- I think the Dodgers should focus on what has historically gotten them to the heights they have experienced. I always disliked Kevin Malone and the FOX takeover. It seemed like their focus was on long ball, free agent baseball, the big bang to satisfy the corporate honchos who wanted immediately results instead of focused attention to detail. I say go back to Dodger Baseball.

Draft well, nurture from within, focus on pitching and fundamentals on the field. Find a catcher whose main goal is handling the pitching staff while providing bonus at-bats. Run, bunt, move players along, small ball is what I think they should focus on. That to me is Dodger Baseball.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Hiroki Kuroda signs 1-year deal with Yankees

Former Dodgers' starter Hiroki Kuroda signed a 1-year deal believed to be worth $10 or $11 million today with the Yankees.

This deal follows the blockbuster trade that landed the Yankees Michael Pineda from the Mariners for Jesus Montero.

I hope Kuroda does well in New York. It's obvious he wanted to remain in Los Angeles, especially after invoking his no-trade clause at the trade deadline. It seems he was likely to end up in Boston in that trade. The Red Sox showed interest in him this winter, too.

But here we are in the new year and Kuroda is heading 3,000 miles east. It's unfortunate because Kuroda is coming off one of his best seasons and is actually, according to the first report, taking a small paycut from last year's $12 million salary.

We've been through the "Dodgers should have brought back Kuroda" song and dance, so we won't go there again.

Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness called this one on Twitter, kinda, on Tuesday.
"Not to stir the rumor mill, but Kenji Nimura, who joined the Dodgers in 08 to translate for Kuroda, has moved on to the Yankees."
It remains to be seen if this actually had an impact on Kuroda's decision, but it's safe to assume it had at least a little bearing on the signing.

Anyway, here's to Kuroda doing well in New York. He was a strong competitor and did nothing but his job for the Dodgers.

Dodger blogger profile: Mike Petriello (Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness)

In the sixth part of my Dodger Blogger Profile series, I take a look at one of the best in the business -- Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness.

Petriello, one of the few Dodger bloggers I know of who isn't located anywhere near Los Angeles (New York, actually), does an excellent job breaking down everything Dodgers.

His blog is informative, analytical and gets tons of mentions all around the Internet. When looking for Dodger news and analysis, there's almost no better place.

1. How did you become a Dodgers' fan?
- It's kind of a stupid story. Needless to say, 7-year-olds should not be allowed to make any life-altering decisions. Anyway, as you can tell from the linked story, I became a long-distance Dodger fan at 7, and was hugely invested in the Mike Piazza/Eric Karros/Hideo Nomo years (Piazza, particularly, as how could I not love a superstar Mike P from the East Coast?).

2. What got you into blogging?
- I was pretty disappointed when Piazza was traded -- see you in hell, Chase Carey -- and between that, the awful FOX sale and horrible Kevin Malone, I largely lost interest between 1999-2003 (not so coincidentally, my college years). My interest was once again piqued with the (Paul) Lo Duca trade and playoff run of 2004, and then even moreso in 2005 when I finally got Extra Innings and found a great place for Dodger discussion at After a year or two of posting long-winded opuses there, I figured I'd be better served putting them on a blog. Nearly five years later, it's still a thing.

3. What are some goals for your blog?
- The complete destruction of Bill Plaschke. I joke, but only partially. The line of thinking he perpetrates is just so wrong-headed that I almost feel an obligation to set the story straight. I enjoy having a place where I can put out analysis that's hopefully both informed and entertaining, and I'd do that even if absolutely no one read it.

4. What's the best experience you've had since blogging?
- Doing this blog has really opened up a lot of doors. In addition to writing for Baseball Prospectus and meeting some good real-life friends, I've been interviewed by the Boston Globe and on SNY, and been able to make baseball contacts I never would have otherwise.

5. What is your most memorable in-person Dodgers' experience?
- It wasn't technically a Dodger game -- by which I mean, it was in no way an actual Dodger game -- but I was lucky enough to attend the 1996 All-Star Game in Philadelphia, where Piazza bashed a homer right over my seats in left and won the MVP.

6. How many Dodger games have you attended?
- I've seen Dodgers games all over the country; aside from Dodger Stadium, I've seen them in Boston, both Philadelphia parks, both Mets parks, Pittsburgh, and at least four or five spring training games in Arizona and Florida.

7. Who is your favorite all-time Dodger player and pitcher?
- Piazza, for sure. It's kind of a cop-out to say (Matt) Kemp and (Clayton) Kershaw now, but somehow saying "A.J. Ellis and Scott Elbert" doesn't have the same cache.

8. What season of Dodgers' baseball do you remember most? Why?
- You'll laugh, but probably 2005. It was the first time I really committed to watching and discussing them on a full-time basis, and that team was so bad that it was kind of entertaining. I also played about a billion games of "MVP 2006" with that team, and that was the one with the lefty bug, so I think I bopped 46 homers with Cesar Izturis. Good times.

9. Who is the Dodger you liked that no one else seemed to like?
- I absolutely thought Hee-Seop Choi would have made it. Still think he might have, if Jim Tracy didn't insist on playing the awful Jason Phillips at first base. Oh, and Charlie Haeger. I wanted Haeger to work out so badly.

10. What do you think the Dodgers need to do to win another World Series in your lifetime (save axing McCourt and Colletti)?
- Obviously, losing McCourt and Colletti are paramount. Then, signing Kershaw long-term. Really though, re-investing in scouting and the system is key. It's criminal that they're the lowest spending team in those areas, and as you can see, it's really hurting the big club.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

McCourt 'laughs' at adding Prince Fielder, plus other news

For this being a blog about the Los Angeles Dodgers, I sure am writing about a player with little-to-no-chance of being a Dodger.

Anyway, today at the MLB Owners' Meetings, soon-to-be-former Dodgers' owner Frank McCourt was asked about Prince Fielder.

He laughed. Literally.
"But, to the question of whether the Dodgers might pursue Fielder, outgoing owner Frank McCourt laughed.

'We're not going to talk about that,' McCourt said Thursday at the Major League Baseball owners' meetings.'"
McCourt does appear more focused than ever in trying to sell the Dodgers, as the bidders are lining ready to spend a billion-plus bucks to acquire the historic franchise.

There was even talk about the Brewers bringing Fielder back on a 1-year deal so he could hit the market next winter with the new Dodgers' owner in place.

Scott Boaras, Fielder's agent, probably laughed in the way McCourt laughed at the Fielder question.

Still, it might not be a bad proposition for Fielder, if he really wants to be a Dodger and play with Matt Kemp and Tony Gwynn. That, or Fielder/Boras wait to see what happens after Jan. 23 to re-assess their options.


Reliever Blake Hawksworth underwent surgery on his right elbow on Wednesday and should be out 4-to-6 weeks.

Chad Moriyama and Mike Petriello both wondered if Hawksworth was pitching hurt toward the end of last season.

Moriyama thinks it was normalization while Petriello thinks it happened post-season.

Either way, it's good Hawksworth is getting this taken care of, as he's slated to be the Dodgers' long reliever this season. Petriello also points out this could lead to Josh Linblom making the squad out of Spring Training, if Hawksworth's recover is slower than expected.


The Dodgers and FOX have settled the ongoing dispute over the TV rights.

Clayton Kershaw was named Sportsman of the Year by the Los Angeles Sports Council. He'll be honored on March 15. His trophy case must be filling up, especially after winning the National League Cy Young Award and a Gold Glove earlier this off-season.

Brandon Lennox of True Blue L.A. is counting down the Dodgers' top 200 prospects. He's down to No. 131.

Dodger Bobble has some details about the Vin Scully bobblehead (Aug. 30). I'm really going to try to make it to that one.

Jon Weisman asks who will be in the Dodgers' rotation in 2013. He lists 10 legitimate candidates. Hmm... 10-man rotation anyone?

Evan Bladh of Opinion of Kingman's Performance wonders why the Dodgers are so hated.

Roberto Baly of Vin Scully is my Homeboy has a look at the latest billionaire to enter the bidding. Ramona Shelburne of ESPN L.A. has a more in-depth look at Josh Macciello.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Buster Olney thinks the Dodgers should sign Prince Fielder

The Dodgers' ownership flux will be resolved in the next couple months, with Jan. 23 being a big day. And with the the 23rd approaching quickly, Buster Olney penned a column (ESPN Insider required) today stating the Dodgers should sign Prince Fielder.
"There's one more thing McCourt can do to add to the feeding frenzy, however. He should go out and sign Prince Fielder. Right now."
He said it'd benefit McCourt in the long run because it'd make the club more attractive to the seemingly never-ending stream of billionaires lining up to bid on the Dodgers.

Olney threw out a couple of contract numbers, both of which are not exactly realistic this far into free agency.
"The Dodgers might be able to get Fielder for seven years and $175 million, or maybe eight for $192 million."
Yeah, that'd be crazy. I don't think there's any way Fielder gets that many years or dollars annually. The teams lining up for his services aren't exactly top-notch franchises (Washington, Baltimore, Seattle) which benefits the Dodgers. Something along the lines of five or six years guaranteed with a couple option years seems more realistic.

But we've been through that before.

Olney did make a good point, though:
"They would sell more tickets, draw higher ratings and give the next owners a little more leverage in negotiating that next television contract."
Most definitely. Well that, coupled with McCourt being out as the owner and the Dodgers would be back to 3 million-plus fans in no time. And the next TV contract would benefit from a better product on the field.

However, I strongly disagree with his next statement.
"Fielder would be to the Dodgers what Shaquille O'Neal was to the Lakers."
That's a bit far-fetched for me to buy into. O'Neal made the Lakers a championship contender right away. O'Neal is one of the most dominant players of all-time. Fielder is a really, really good player, but he's not on the same level as Shaq.

I obviously agree the Dodgers should sign him, as it makes a ton of sense. But his column didn't really make a persuasive argument.

While the addition of Fielder would make the club more attractive to potential buyers, he isn't a franchise-changing player. He's more of a division-changing, maybe league-changing player, but he's far from the likes of Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez (with Boston) or Shaquille O'Neal.

Still, it's fun to daydream about it. The odds of this happening have to be less than 5 percent (admittedly arbitrary), but every day Fielder is a free agent only benefits the Dodgers, and not just in the "he's-available-for-anyone-to-sign-way."

While Fielder or Scott Boras, his agent, won't come out and state it publicly, it's fair to say they're waiting to see how the ownership situation plays out before committing to a team. But if a team came to them with an outrageous offer (like the ones Olney proposes), they wouldn't hesitate.

If Fielder is still a free agent in February, the odds Fielder signs with the Dodgers goes up to at least 6 or 7 percent.

A 3-4-5 of Matt Kemp-Fielder-Andre Ethier would be quite attractive. Here's hoping it happens, even though it most likely won't.


Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness has a fantastic post about the 12 ownership groups looking to buy the Dodgers. It's a great read.

Jared Massey of L.A. Dodger Report also has a breakdown of six billionaire groups looking at purchasing the Dodgers.

The Magic Johsnon/Stan Kasten group is the most appealing to me.

Much like the Lookouts, the Quakes will be a force in 2012

I took a brief look at the Lookouts last week, focusing mostly on the pitching the team should have in 2012. This time, I'm looking at the Quakes, a team that should have some great pitching in a hitter-friendly league.

The 2011 second-half California League champions should have a strong squad heading into the 2012 season, with the pitching staff highlighting the squad.


Dodgers' top prospect Zach Lee should begin the season with the Quakes. Depending on his performance, he could be there the entire season or move up to Double-A quickly.

Lee had a solid debut season in the Midwest League. I don't think he'll have much difficulty adjusting to advanced hitting. Remember, as the competition level advances, so does Lee's experience. For all intents and purposes, he has great poise on the mound; he just needs to get more experience under his belt. As he continues to mature, he should refine his pitches and become a good starting pitcher.

As a reference, Allen Webster virtually dominated the league in his first nine starts last season. Lee profiles as a better prospect as Lee, so he could just as well. But Lee is a year younger than Webster was, so it remains to be seen what happens.

Like 2011, Lee should be followed by former Loons Garrett Gould and Angel Sanchez. Both had breakout seasons for the Great Lakes' team and both rank in my top five Dodger prospects.

Gould and Lee are similar, with Lee having a better cutter/slider and Gould having a better curveball. Sanchez was a surprise breakout player in his first professional season. It'll be a telling season for both and both could also be promoted to Chattanooga before the season ends.

The Dodgers' 2011 first-round pick Chris Reed should also be in the Quakes' rotation to start the season. He actually went straight to Rancho Cucamonga after he signed with the Dodgers. He didn't exactly pitch well in his limited time (seven innings), but he started for the Quakes in the Cal League playoffs and threw five solid innings.

Another southpaw who could join the Quakes' rotation is Ryan Christenson. He struggled with the Loons last season, posting a 5.05 ERA, 1.49 WHIP and a staggering 11.1 H/9 rate. He's younger than Wilborn but older than the Lee-Gould-Sanchez trio, so there's still a chance for him.

And with the potential overcrowding in Double-A, a guy like Red Patterson or Jon Michael Redding could begin the season back with Rancho.

The bullpen could have 2011 fifth-round pick Scott McGough closing the door. He had a nice debut season, pitching better for the Loons than he did for the Ogden Raptors of the Pioneer Rookie League. One thing's for sure: McGough can get a strikeout. His K/9 in his first 26 professional innings is 11.4. His K/BB is even more impressive, sitting at 5.50.

Another fireballer who should see time with the Quakes is Juan Rodriguez. Rodriguez was acquired in the Trayvon Robinson trade. Armed with the system's best fastball, Rodriguez could find himself setting up McGough or even closing at times.

Greg Wilborn, who began 2011 with the Quakes, could also find himself back with the team in the bullpen. He struggled mightily in 43 1/3 innings last season, posting a 6.85 ERA and 1.75 WHIP. His long-term prospects aren't great, but he could be a stabilizing force in a young bullpen.


On paper, the offense doesn't look that intimidating. But some guys should be helped by the hitter-friendly environment -- good or bad as that may be.

The best name the Quakes could have is Leon Landry. He was my No. 9 prospect going into last season, but had a rough 2011 season. He's primed to bounce back. He plays a legitimate center field and has a good approach at the plate. He could be the team's No. 1, 2 or 3 hitter.

Joining him in the outfield will be Jonathan Garcia. Garcia started last season on fire, clubbing seven home runs in April. He had an up-and-down rest of the season, which is to be expected from a streaky, young hitter. He could put up big power numbers at the Epicenter.

A guy who could start the season with the Quakes after ripping through the Pioneer League is Joc Pederson. He's the Dodgers' best offensive prospect. However, there's no reason to rush him. A better bet to start with the Quakes is Noel Cuevas, who saw time with the team last season.

Chris Jacobs, he of the .914 OPS with the Loons last season, could be the team's first baseman. It could be a breakout year for the big slugger.

If the Dodgers want to be aggressive with one of their 2011 drafted catchers, Pratt Maynard might be that guy. He struggled a bit with the Raptors, but as a college player, he has more experience than the high schoolers. If not, expect Steve Domecus to catch most of the time. J.T. Wise could also see some time at first base and catcher, but he's getting awfully old for the Cal League.

The up-the-middle combination could be Casio Grider (2B) and Christian Lara (SS), while Jesse Bosnik mans the hot corner. Both Grider and Lara are much better with the glove than the stick.

My projected lineup (with DH)
Landry CF
Lara SS
Cuevas LF
Wise/Domecus C
Garcia RF
Jacobs/Wise DH
Dean/Jacobs 1B
Bosnik 3B
Grider 2B

This is assuming Pederson starts with the Quakes (which is my own gut feeling).

So, the Quakes' strength in an offensive league could be their pitching. We'll see what happens, but 2012 should be a fun season for Rancho.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dodgers about done with moves, focus on Winter Development Program

To no one's surprise, Ned Colletti said the Dodgers are at their payroll limit, meaning there are not going to be anymore significant moves this off-season.

It's disappointing to know guys like Hiroki Kuroda and Prince Fielder, who seemingly want to be in Los Angeles, have no chance of playing there because of a limited payroll.

Then there's this gem from Ramona Shelburne's article:
..."(the payroll) is down from a year ago. But sometimes it's not what you spend but how you spend it."
Really Ned? You don't say. It's too bad he doesn't take his own advice, because he's spent money more foolishly than almost any other general manager since 2006.

Just another chapter in the long book for frustration for the Dodgers' upper management for the last seven-to-10 years.


The Dodgers began their annual Winter Development Program a few days ago. The Dodgers had 15 prospects/young players attend, as well as some Major Leaguers.

Players in attendance:

Steve Ames, Michael Antonini, Alex Castellanos, Rubby De La Rosa, Gorman Erickson, Tim Federowicz, Stephen Fife, Tyler Henson (acquired from the Orioles), Alfredo Silverio, Shawn Tolleson, Scott Van Slyke, Josh Wall, Matt Wallach, Allen Webster and Chris Withrow.

Roberto Baly of Vin Scully is my Homeboy has a ton of photos and videos from Monday's media day. He also said in his blog post he saw Castellanos playing some second base, a position he played in the minors. There was talk earlier in the winter about trying him at first base, but if he can hit like he did in 2011 as a second baseman, he could see himself in Los Angeles sooner rather than later.

Brandon Lennox of True Blue L.A. was also in attendance and said Don Mattingly said Castellanos would play mostly in the outfield. It's always nice to know if a guy has versatility, though. He said he also saw Henson playing third base. Like Castellanos, Henson is mostly known for playing outfield, but he has some infield experience in the minors.

Friday, January 6, 2012

My 2012 MLB Hall of Fame ballot

Much like last year, I'm going to create my own Hall of Fame ballot, even though I obviously don't get an official vote.

My 2011 ballot:
Roberto Alomar*
Bert Blyleven*
Barry Larkin
Tim Raines
Alan Trammell
*- 2011 inductee

Here's my 2012 Hall of Fame Ballot (percent of 2011 vote in parenthesis, 75 percent required for election):

Jeff Bagwell (41.7)
- Bagwell was one of the most fearsome hitters of the 1990s, posting an average season of .304/.416/.545, 29 HR, 107 RBI, 35 2B, 102 R, 98 BB. That includes his first two seasons, including a Rookie of the Year award in 1991 and two strike-shortened seasons. His career took off in 1994 when he slugged 39 home runs, drove in 116 runners and posted an obscene 1.201 OPS. Those numbers were good enough to earn him the NL MVP that season. From 1994 to 2003, he averaged the following: .301/.420/.574, 37 HR, 116 RBI, 36 2B, 116 R and 107 BB. So it seems his 1994 season (minus the .368 batting average and .750 slugging percentage) would set the tone for the rest of his career. The only reason he wasn't a surefire first-ballot guy was phantom steroid/performance-enhancing drug allegations. I left him off last year because I didn't envision him as a first-ballot guy in general (side note: he was one of my favorite non-Dodgers in the '90s). Upon further review, it appears I was mistaken. The guy put up some amazing numbers and should be rewarded as such.

Most impressive season: 1994, Houston: .368/.451/.750, 39 home runs, 116 RBI, 32 2B, 104 runs scored, 213 OPS+, 8.9 bWAR, 7.8 fWAR
Extrapolated for 162-game schedule (155 games played): .368/.451/.750, 55 HR, 163 RBI, 45 2B, 146 runs scored

Barry Larkin (62.1)
What I wrote last year:
- Much like Roberto Alomar, when you thought of shortstops in the '90s, Larkin was one of the first guys you thought of. Not only was he a solid defender, he was pretty good with the bat -- so much so that he took home the 1995 NL MVP. He was a consistent hitter, putting up a career line of .295/.371/.444 and was the face of the Cincinnati Reds franchise for the better part of 13 years.

Most impressive season: 1996, Cincinnati: .298/.410/.567/.977, 33 home runs, 89 RBI, 36-for-46 in SB, 117 runs scored, 154 OPS+, 7.4 bWAR, 6.8 fWAR

Edgar Martinez (32.9)
- I'm a National League guy. I'm staunchly opposed to the designated hitter, but Martinez was such an incredibly talented hitter that it's a little easier to look beyond the fact he played the vast majority of his games as a designated hitter. Nevertheless, he put up some awfully impressive numbers: .312/.418/.515 career slash line. He was Ken Griffey's primary protection for the great Seattle teams of the '90s. He led the Majors in batting in 1992 (.343), but that wasn't nearly his most impressive showing. His 1995 season was one of his best, leading the AL in batting and runs scored. He led the Majors in on-base percentage, OPS, OPS+ and doubles that season. Martinez is one of the most underrated hitters of all-time. He would have been a shoo-in first-ballot guy if he played in the field. There has to be precedent for a designated hitter making the Hall, so why not the best one of all time?

Most impressive season: 1995, Seattle: .356/.479/.628, 29 HR, 113 RBI, 52 2B, 121 runs scored, 185 OPS+, 7.7 bWAR, 7.5 fWAR
Extrapolated for 162-game schedule (162 games played): .356/.479/.628, 32 HR, 126 RBI, 58 2B, 135 runs scored

Tim Raines (37.5)
What I wrote last year:
- Aside from Rickey Henderson, Raines is the best leadoff hitter of the last 50 years. Batting first, he had a slash line of .294/.385/.427. Surprisingly, he spent a lot of time batting second and third in his career (2841 plate appearances), but he will always been known as a leadoff guy. He had a four-year stretch from 1981-84 in which he led the National League in stolen bases -- 71, 78, 90, 75 respectively. In 1981, a strike-shortened season, he stole those 71 bases in 88 games.

Most impressive season: 1987, Montreal: .330/.429/.526/.955, 18 home runs, 68 RBI, 50-for-55 in SB, 123 runs scored, 149 OPS+, 6.8 bWAR, 6.9 fWAR

Alan Trammell (24.3)
What I wrote last year:
- Trammell is a lot like Larkin. When you think of the Tigers in the 1980s, Trammell is the first guy you think of. He, along with Cal Ripken, were the first two guys to redefine the shortstop position, as they were offensive (the good offensive) players. However, they didn't sacrifice defense for offense. From 1983-90, Trammel had an .813 OPS as a shortstop. In a time when shortstops were "glove-only" guys, it was almost unheard of. He also has the 72nd-best WAR of all-time (66.9), 0.2 points in front of Dodgers' Hall-of-Famer Pee Wee Reese. He's also 0.2 points ahead of former Dodger Eddie Murray.

Most impressive season
: 1987, Detroit: .343/.402/.551/.953, 28 home runs, 105 RBI, 21-for-23 in SB, 155 OPS+, 8.4 bWAR, 7.9 fWAR

Knowing the history of Hall of Fame voters, I'm betting Barry Larkin is the only guy elected (to go in along side Ron Santo, may he rest in peace). Jack Morris fell 21.5 percent short last season and could sneak his way in, but I don't believe he's worthy of the Hall.

Larry Walker (20.3 percent) will likely see an increase in his voting share and could get in eventually. His 1.172 career OPS in Coors Field could hurt him, though (fair or unfair).

Then we have the known PED users: Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro. Both would be unquestioned Hall-of-Famers if not for the PED use. I'm doubting either get elected anytime soon.

Former Dodgers on the ballot: Jeromy Burnitz, Brian Jordan, Don Mattingly, Terry Mulholland and Eric Young -- none of these guys are Hall-bound.