Someone's got to send "Snow Miser" Ken Gurnick of MLB.com some chocolates, stat, because his preview of the Dodgers at the upcoming winter meetings is enough to make one want to end it all:
The Dodgers have already committed roughly $50 million for eight signed players -- Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Juan Uribe, Matt Guerrier, Rivera, Ellis, Treanor and Kemp. They have another $30 million budgeted for six remaining arbitration-eligible players -- Kershaw, Ethier, James Loney, Hong-Chih Kuo, Tony Gwynn Jr. and Dana Eveland, with Kuo and Eveland potential non-tenders.
Assuming the Dodgers have a $90 million payroll, that leaves about $10 million for a starting pitcher, an extra infielder and a handful of minimum-wage youngsters. There might not even be room to bring back a workhorse reliever like Mike MacDougal. And that doesn't count the $10 million owed next year in deferrals to Manny Ramirez and Andruw Jones.
Colletti could fill a hole by trading Ethier or Loney -- who are one year away from free agency -- but not without their departure creating a new hole on the Major League roster.
He could dip into the Minor League system and deal away some pitching depth, but that pretty much defeats the purpose of Minor League pitching depth for a club that struggles for traction in its mission to build from within.
To this point, the starting rotation is topped by Kershaw, Billingsley and Lilly, with Nathan Eovaldi an early favorite to be the fifth starter and Kuroda's slot open. The bullpen has young closer Javy Guerra, strikeout machine Kenley Jansen, workhorse Matt Guerrier, situational lefty Scott Elbert, Blake Hawksworth, Josh Lindblom and Kuo a possibility.
The starting infield will be Loney at first, Ellis at second, Dee Gordon at short, Juan Uribe at third, Justin Sellers and Russell Mitchell backing up. The outfield is Rivera in left, Kemp in center, Ethier in right, with Tony Gwynn and Jerry Sands backing up. Ellis and Treanor are the catchers.
Regardless of what happens in the courts, the Dodgers face a challenge on the field. Even with Cy Young Award-winning Kershaw and MVP runner-up Kemp, there are questions that probably can't be answered with four days in a Texas hotel.
Thankfully, I got to start opening my advent calendar today.