Despite our many needs as we re-tool the lineup for the 2006 season, the Dodgers are not one of the teams prominently mentioned in much of the “hot stove” discussions that are roaming around the web. I don’t know if this is because Ned is lulling everyone to sleep, or if we are just considering some of the people off the free agent radar-—but it’s fair to say that, at minimum, the Dodgers have needs in starting pitching, middle relief, utility infield (or outright holes at first and third), and center field. So it’s surprising to me that the hot stove talk that I’ve seen really doesn’t involve the Dodgers.
MLB Trade Rumors.com has a very thorough list predicting where the top 50 free agents will go, and the Dodgers are only mentioned twice in the top 50 predictions, nabbing #18 Greg Maddux (in a one-year deal) and #30 Juan Pierre. Pierre is an interesting one. Despite his obvious advantage in speed, Pierre doesn’t make a ton of sense to me over Lofton offensively, given his .292BA/.330OBP/.388SLG numbers (relative to Lofton’s .301/.360/.403). Yes, we’d have a terror on the basepaths in Pierre, who stole 58 bases to Lofton’s 32—-but Lofton was caught only five times relative to Pierre’s 20 CS. And we already have a leadoff hitter in Furcal (especially if he can perform like his second-half of the season). Pierre earned $5.75M last year, which is almost a 50% premium to Lofton’s $3.8M. I agree that we need more coverage defensively in center field, but I don’t know if Pierre is the answer.
MLB Trade Rumors also predicted where all of the current Dodger free agents would go. It’s got #17 Julio Lugo going to the Red Sox (not fast enough for my tastes), #31 Nomar Garciaparra going to the Angels, #36 Kenny Lofton going to the Rangers, and are you sitting down#41 Eric Gagne going to the Indians. I don’t mind losing Lugo and his .219 BA (almost 100 points less than he batted at Tampa Bay prior to coming over to the Dodgers) or Lofton (as mentioned above). However, I’m still considering bringing back Nomar who, despite his injuries, would be a nice insurance play as we use 2007 to watch if Betemit/LaRoche will pan out at third base, Loney will pan out at first, and Kent will get injured washing his truck. I remain convinced that there will be enough opportunity for everyone on the infield to get a fair shot next year (barring a Mueller return, of course). But Gagne going to the Tribe—that would be a sad end of an era that I don’t want to consider at this point. It hurts too much to think about it, even if it might be the most prudent fiscal move.