Just got back to Los Angeles after a busy week. I’m personally very happy with everything that’s been accomplished this week, from the Organization of the Year honors to the numerous signings, all of which make great sense to me. Of course, my opinion isn’t the important one, so if you want to hear Ned explain his thought process behind all of this, tune in tomorrow morning to AM 570 at 8:20, when he’s going to be talking to Fred Roggin, T.J. SImers and Tracy Simers. If you miss it, you can also go to their website a few hours later and hear the audio. And if you want to ask him questions yourself, be sure to take part in Tuesday’s web chat next week.
From reading the comments, it sounds like there are mixed feelings about Luis Gonzalez (which actually isn’t even officially done yet), so I’ll at least give a few of the key reasons behind why I like him.
– He had a very productive season last year with 52 doubles and is one year removed from an All-Star selection in 2005; with the speed that’ll be ahead of him in the lineup, doubles should drive in plenty of runs
– Over the past nine seasons, he has averaged 27 home runs and 94 RBI while slugging 23 or more homers in seven of those nine campaigns and logging 100 or more runs batted in on five occasions. I know 2001 somewhat skews the numbers, but the idea of him replacing J.D. Drew’s 20 homers is very doable
– His 20 home runs at Dodger Stadium rank second only to Barry Bonds among active players who have never played for the Dodgers
– He appeared in 153 games for the Diamondbacks last year, the ninth time in the past 10 seasons that he has played in 145 games or more; he committed just one error in 150 games in left field
– Once again, the "good guy" factor is something that really means something in baseball. I know it’s hard to see that unless you’re around it every day, but what he’ll contribute off the field will be on par if not better than what he does on the field
– A one-year deal does not block our prospects long-term; Most people believe Kemp still needs time in the minors and he’s only 21 years old. Everyone still thinks he’s got a bright future ahead of him and that’s why this wasn’t a long-term deal that blocks any of the kids. Loney may very well be ready (or he may not, we won’t know until we see it every day), but he should get about 40 games at first base and a bunch more spelling Gonzalez on some days and Ethier on others (plus possible DH games, etc). In my opinion, this is an ideal way to break a kid into the Majors (facing primarily right-handers, without all the pressure of an every day job at 22 years old)
– For those who believe this team is old, I’m not sure what to say; in the every day lineup, there should be only two guys over 35 (Kent and Gonzalez) and five guys under 30 (Pierre, Furcal, Ethier, Martin, Betemit). Penny and Billingsley are under 30, Wolf is 30 and Schmidt and Lowe are both in their mid 30s but are bonafide stars based on their track records.
I guess I’m not too sure what power hitter people wanted Ned to go get – we were in on just about every power-hitting free agent there was, but in cases like Soriano and Aramis Ramirez, we can’t make Los Angeles further East than it is. And it seems like most people didn’t think that trading for Manny made sense, given the price. As for the other guys rumored to be available (Andruw Jones, Vernon Wells, etc.), I’d be stunned if either of those guys gets moved for anything less than a gargantuan package of prospects and both are one-year rentals and will surely test the market, given the current landscape.
Anyway, the best part about the winter is that we all get to debate the moves and then we’ll see how they turn out once the year starts and ends. Plus, with eight starting pitchers and no major holes at this point, Ned can approach the next two months from a position of strength and hopefully that will stand land us some pretty good players before we head to Vero.
Until then, keep checking the blog regularly, as I’m thrilled to see such great debates and people checking in every day.