Friday, June 15, 2012

SI's Cliff Corcoran Bearish On Ethier Signing

Lots of sour grapes running around in the Corcoran household:

The Dodgers have clearly overpaid Ethier, who will be 35 in the final year of his contract and could easily meet the plate appearance requirements that would vest the $17.5 million option for his age-36 season, bringing the total value of the contract to $100 million. They did so in part because Ethier, who is in his walk year, is both more established and closer to free agency than Jones, who wasn’t due to become a free agent until after the 2013 season. They also did so because they are a team with very little long-term offensive potential.

Matt Kemp is 27, a superstar in his prime and signed through 2019, but beyond Kemp and Ethier, the lineup of this year’s first-place Dodgers team is being propped up by players in their 30s with little remaining future. A.J. Ellis is having a breakout season, but he’s a 31-year-old catcher. Bobby Abreu has been a boon since coming over from the Angels, but he’s 38. Jerry Hairston Jr. is helping to keep the infield afloat, but he’s 36. Looking over Kevin Goldstein’s list of the organization’s top 20 prospects coming into the season, the top six men are pitchers and none of the hitters who follow them project as stars.

The Dodgers didn’t need to sign Ethier. Free agent alternatives this offseason could still include Josh Hamilton, Nick Swisher, Melky Cabrera, Michael Bourn, Shane Victorino, Angel Pagan, Carlos Quentin and B.J. Upton. Most of those men are centerfielders, but moving Kemp to an outfield corner, which will prove necessary long before his contract expires, and installing one of the better defensive centerfielders on that list in center could have improved Los Angeles at two positions. Of course, there are negatives to all of those players, be it age (Swisher and Victorino are 31), injury (Quentin has never played in more than 131 games in a major league season), dependability (Cabrera, Pagan, and Bourn are all having career years that may not be repeatable), or cost (Hamilton, who is both 31 and fragile, is likely to demand a nine-figure contract).

The Dodgers chose to overpay for what they saw as Ethier’s dependability (though it’s worth noting that Ethier hasn’t played in 140 games since 2009), preferring to bet on his ability to sustain his production into his mid-30s than to take a similar or perhaps even greater gambles on one of the men above. Better the devil you know, I suppose.

The big question now is, with $235 million committed to Kemp and Ethier beyond this year, and reigning Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw due for another payday after the 2013 season, how much flexibility will the Dodgers and their new owners have left to improve the team this winter? Using the figures from Cot’s Baseball Contracts and adding in Ethier’s $13.5 million salary, the Dodgers already have $116.65 million committed to next year’s roster. The highest payroll in team history was a little more than $118 million in 2008, so don’t expect the Dodgers to be major players in this offseason’s free agent market. They just made their big splash.

Well, I like Ethier.

19 comments:

Hideo Nomo said...

"Here's a bunch of guys they'd have to pay just as much or more to get!

Now here's a list of reasons why those guys suck!"

How was the Ethier signing a bad idea again?

Mr. LA Sports Czar said...

Because one-run wins are unsustainable!

Hideo Nomo said...

Well, they kinda have been lately.

Mr. LA Sports Czar said...

(cries)

Fred's Brim said...

@Hideo 9:32: nail hit squarely on the head

Dusty Baker said...

I continue to be very bullish on the signing. Jesus Colorado, how many more outfielders are out there/gettable at this price with his track record who aren't 176 years old already? I sure like it a hell of a lot more than, say, the Pujols deal.

Dusty Baker said...

ps- Orel, I TOLD you at SoSG Fest II that Dodgers would pay the money for these guys, didn't I?

See Karina, I can optimistic!

Hideo Nomo said...

I CAN HAZ OPTIMIZM?

Ryan said...

For those interested, Dave Cameron over at Fangraphs has a good breakdown of the Ethier deal.

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/dodgers-overpay-ethier-but-will-it-matter/

Orel said...

Really, Dusty? All I remember is you ordering more beer.

Fred's Brim said...

was Dusty being hoptimistic?

Dusty Baker said...

@Orel

In all seriousness, you don't remember the conversation?

BTW, drinking Delino's beer is so much easier than the hassles of ordering one's own!

Orel said...

I don't, but please don't take it personally. My mind is like a sieve.

Dusty Baker said...

Yeah you were all we're not going to re-sign Kemp and all our good players (all three as of last year) are going to leave. And I was all bullshit, we have to put butts in the seat, we're not idling to let our homegrown talent - at least Kemp and Kershaw - go.

And then We were both all (drinks).

Orel said...

Yes, I can imagine that conversation happening. I was not sanguine about the Dodgers' ability to keep their homegrown stars. Call it the Piazza Principle.

Steve Sax said...

I remember the drinking part.

And the passed-out-DelinO-meets-Sharpie part.

And the strippers.

And then it gets blurry.

karina said...

I think this guy needs to have fun somehow, let's say the Dodgers will overpay Ethier but Ethier and Kemp will be getting the team in the playoffs, AT LEAST.

Team in the playoffs: revenue and tshirt selling, nothing has happened. I mean, I'd rather to watch three great years and fade than that sad and embarrassing show Andruw Jones put on the field when he was a Dodger.

After all, maybe this is one of the sports writers who hasn't paid attention to the great season he has amd that still thinks neither the NL West or the 2012 Dodgers are legit.

karina said...

Love when you are all about optimism, Dusty :)

"the top six men are pitchers and none of the hitters who follow them project as stars."

that's a huge scouting problem! specially in the pitcher-friendly NL West! only if you could trade one pitcher for two hitters sometimes...

karina said...

Victorino in a Dodger uniform?

*stuff from nightmares are made*