Dodgers, ex-Dodgers, and guys Howard wants to be Dodgers. Or primarily guy, singular – Cleveland shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera – so let’s start there.
First let me be clear. I’m neither predicting Cabrera to the Dodgers nor have I heard a rumor that anything’s been discussed. But talk is literally everywhere about the Tribe wanting to move the 27-year-old switch hitter – why I have no idea because he’s an absolutely great player – but if it’s a case of not appreciating what you have and thinking you can do better with a roll of the dice; well, that’s the Indians loss and someone else’s gain.
We’re talking the prototype National League shortstop here. Hanley Ramirez couldn’t hold a candle to Cabrera in the field – well, he could the candle, but he’d either drop it or throw late to first – and the back-to-back American League All-Star is ten times the player Dee Gordon is now.
Maybe Cabrera is only seven or eight times the player Gordon is later, but this is a perfect fit for the Dodgers, and if there’s any chance of a deal, you simply have to go for it.
The career fielding percentages for Cabrera (.979), Hanley (.967) and Gordon (.949) don’t begin to tell the story. Cabrera has the range, the arm, plays confident in the middle of the diamond, and most importantly, is the genuine article at short; not some cross-your-fingers-and-hope-for-the-best-on-every-single-ground-ball type offered by the two current Dodgers.
And I love Luis Cruz, by the way; this is not about knocking Luis Cruz. Los Angeles might do just fine with Cruz at short full time next year, but then again, with Cruz as a steady bench piece and a proven player like Cabrera in the lineup every day, well, you can finish that sentence yourself.
Cabrera’s a stick too, sporting a career 162-game average of .279, .342, .416, with 171 hits, 84 runs, 37 doubles, 14 home runs and 78 RBIs. He hit 25 homers with 92 RBIs as recently as 2011, and managed 16 and 68 in 2012.
He has hit a little better as a right-handed batter, but we’re talking a 15 or 20 point difference in batting average, not 90, ala Shane Victorino last season.
Cabrera’s young enough to improve where he needs to, which isn’t much, and he’s signed for about $16 million through 2014. He’s a dynamic player and one the Dodgers have the pieces to trade for. And man, I would love it.
Turning to pitching, while I did expect L.A. to sign Hiroki Kuroda, I’m not overly concerned, nor would I make much of the notion that he supposedly “took less” to re-sign with the Yankees. Maybe Kuroda just plain liked New York, appreciated the way the organization works with pitchers and wanted another year.
To an extent the Dodgers were playing Kuroda and South Korean starter Hyun-Jin Ryu against one another, with the greater focus on signing one rather than two likely. So they’ve lost some leverage, but I don’t know how a lifetime 2.80 ERA with the Hanwha Eagles translates to the majors anyway.
If anyone does know, however, it’s Los Angeles. And if Scott Boras plays hardball, the Dodgers won’t lose a ton of sleep passing on the 25-year-old southpaw. The sides have until December 10 to agree on a contract, or L.A. gets its $25.7 million posting fee returned.
After losing out on Kuroda and jettisoning both Dan Haren and Ervin Santana, the Angels are about as desperate as can be to sign Zack Greinke, and the Dodgers being in the conversation means the bid goes up, not that it wasn’t anyway. But faced with the horror of spending $90 million on Anibal Sanchez, Los Angeles of Anaheim will cough up whatever they have to keep Greinke in Orange County.
And that’s fine. Despite the talk of Haren “falling to the Padres,” don’t be surprised if the Blue swoops in to land him, say by the Winter Meetings, which begin December 3 in Nashville. Kyle Lohse is a possibility too. Two years max for Haren, maybe three for Lohse. I’m betting on Haren.
As for the already strong bullpen, L.A. is supposedly in on closer Kyuji Fujikawa, and while computing the worth of a starter out of the Korean Baseball Organization may (or may not) be a crapshoot, closers from Japan are another animal entirely. And Fujikawa is another animal entirely, a complete beast.
Compensate for the numbers how you will, but 202 saves in six seasons is nice; the 1.36 lifetime ERA and 0.855 career WHIP off the charts. Oh, and Fujikawa’s struck out 510 men in 369 innings. A complete stud.
It’d be almost unfair for the Dodgers to sign Fujikawa, along with whomever else, but that’s life in the big city. I assume they’d try him at setup slash backup to Brandon League, in case he goes south, trading Ronald Belisario or Kenley Jansen if a tempting offer comes along. Or they just keep everybody.
As for some prominent former-Dodgers, I have a sneaking feeling Victorino is headed back to Philadelphia, or secondarily to San Francisco to replace Angel Pagan. Victorino cost himself millions with his second half play here, and will be lucky to get $15 million for two years, or $20 for three.
For the life of me, I still have no idea what’s happened to Russell Martin, and his career is this close to being ruined, at least from an offensive standpoint – i.e. money. The Yanks might go another year or two, at something like $6 million per, but I’d be shocked to see anyone splurge on a big-bucks multi-year pact.
Cody Ross seems to generate interest regularly, and it’s happening again this offseason. Could end up almost anywhere, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, the Mets, Philadelphia or San Francisco. For more money than is conceivable.
Pitchers and catchers report February 12. That’s 81 days. We’re going to make it, you and I.
And remember, glove conquers all.