Saturday, December 02, 2006

This Just In: ESPN Reports Dodgers Have a Couple of Good Young Players

Tim Kurkjian from ESPN just reported that, on the eve of winter meetings, the Dodgers actually have some young players whom other teams might want. No. F'ing. Way.

I have heard, from someone who went to high school with Kurkjian, that Kurkjian is a nice guy. And usually his baseball analysis is reasonably insightful, despite the fact that his byline picture looks like his head is falling off of his neck. But to post this as "breaking insight" is a little aggressive (and aside from an outright mention of Matt Kemp, James Loney, and Andy LaRoche, there isn't any more info than that).

Equally funny is the mention of the Mets as one of the other four teams "with pieces to move"--though the only piece Kurkjian mentions is Lastings Millege. Yawn.

But seriously, let's talk about the Dodgers' youth movement, and who we'd want to keep on the team. From my perspective, I think we've gotta keep Russell Martin and Andre Ethier. I'd consider moving Chad Billingsley or Hong-Chih Kuo but not both given the thinness of our starting rotation. Jonathan Broxton may also be trade bait if Yhency Brazoban's return looks likely.

Loney and Kemp are the names most mentioned as the first prospect to go, and at this stage I think the data supports Loney over Kemp. Loney is a star defensively and seems to be on the upswing at the plate; plus, the Dodgers' need of protection against a potential Kent or Nomar injury seems logical. Kemp does have power but he showed a lot of trouble hitting the down-and-away breaking ball in the second half of the year (reminiscent of Adrian Beltre); defensively I recall a number of plays where he seemed to misplay balls in the field. And as for LaRoche, I haven't seen anything so I can't make a call.

It's clear the Dodgers will have to give at least a couple of prospects up to get that power bat in the lineup. The question is, who?


Orel said...

Keep 'em all. Billingsley, Kemp and Loney are only 22; Kuo, 25. They need playing time to reach their potential. Sign Schmidt and trade Penny for a bat.

Lasorda said...

Given the volatility of the relief pitching, I think the Dodgers would be better served to hang on to "The Guns of" Broxton (forgive me for the Berman-ism; I recently picked up the boxset of the Only Band that Matters). After all, in case Saito proves to be a fluke, Broxton would likely slide right into the closer's role (yeah, I know, I usually am a critic of the idea that a team has to have a quote, unquote closer, but so long as the Dodgers use their better relievers in highly leveraged roles, then who am I to quibble?). I'm not so sure that the recent spate of articles, both locally and nationally, aren't just media leaks to try to drive up the perceived value of the prospects. Based on the projections over at Baseball Prospectus, neither Kemp nor Loney project to be superstars. Now, I'm not saying that this doesn't mean that they won't be useful (especially since they'll be cheap), but I wouldn't call either untouchable.

Steve Sax said...

Nice post Tommy.

I don't know if it was Berman or not, but the best "Guns of" reference I've heard in baseball was for former Oriole center fielder Mike Devereaux, after he threw out someone at home. At least that one has the right syllable structure!