We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2009 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2009 Dodgers Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness.
1) Chad Billingsley is my pre-preseason pick for NL Cy Young, but The Verducci Effect says I might want to fall back on the Old Faithful of preseason Cy Young picks and go with Johan. Are you worried about Billingsley’s increase in innings last year?
At the moment, I’m far less concerned by “the Verducci Effect” (god, I hate that term) than I am by the “shattered his leg slipping on ice in November” effect. So, 2009′s not exactly off to a great start for him, though all reports have him being ready in time for spring training. That said, I’m really not that worried about his arm. It’s true that the increase in innings is worrisome for a pitcher of his age, but this is a guy who’s never had any arm issues to speak of at all. Besides, he gets a good deal of his power from his enormous backside and legs, which does seem to take pressure off of that treasured right arm. He was actually even better in 2008 than his stats suggest, because he got off to a brutal start thanks to Joe Torre’s bizarre usage of him out of the pen. On April 24, he was 0-4 with a 6.52 ERA; from that point on he was 16-6 with a 2.75 ERA. So sure, the increase is always a concern, but Billingsley has shown no signs that he’ll fall victim to this “curse”.
2) After giving Juan Pierre a $44 million, five-year contract, isn’t Manny worth about $300 million over ten years? Is it the “Colletti no talkie to Boras” thing that’s stopping Manny from signing with the Dodgers? If need be, could Manny Be Manny’s agent? If so, please act out Manny negotiating a contract.
First of all, let’s not use Juan Pierre’s contract as a comparison point for anyone. If the 5/$44m he’s getting was actually his fair market value, then the minimum salary for rookies would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $12m/year. Seriously, if Bobby Abreu’s only getting one year and $5m, what would Pierre’s market value be right now? $500k? What’s stopping Manny from signing with the Dodgers isn’t Colletti not talking to Boras; it’s Boras not wanting to swallow his pride and admit that he grossly overestimated Manny’s worth. At this point, it’s just a waiting game – the Dodgers have no other options with Dunn and Abreu off the board, but Manny has no other options to offer anywhere near what the Dodgers have. I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but I think he ends up coming back to LA on a 3 year deal worth between $65-$70m – which would be exactly what I said way back in October. So we may have had to suffer through four months of this just to get back to where it should have been in the first place.
Blake DeWitt has to be one of the most unpredictable players in baseball right now. His line from last year may not say much, but just look at how his 2008 unfolded. Though he was a former first round pick, he was coming off some uninspiring minor league seasons in A and AA and was somewhere around the 7th option at third base – even falling behind “screw it, let’s just fix our outfield logjam by playing all four and forgetting the hot corner” and “hey, why don’t we play our All-Star catcher there?” Most predicted that he’d flop miserably, yet he came up and was great for two months, even to the point where I noted in May that he was a top-5 MLB 3B. Then he started to fail so badly for two months that by July I was calling for him to be demoted (he eventually was), only to return as the everyday 2B in September and the playoffs, and with a much more productive bat than he’d left with.
My point is, I have absolutely no idea what to expect from Blake DeWitt in 2009. He could hit .320 with 20 homers; he could hit .220 and be back in the minors by May; he could be caught speeding down the Pacific Coast Highway with 3 Guatemalan hookers and the corpse of Ricardo Montalbon in his trunk. Nothing would surprise me from him.
4) The Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles pitchers are always good for fantasy because of their weak hitting division and home stadium (even Chan Ho Park!). Give me the rotation, as you see it.
The top 4 starters are pretty set right now with Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Hiroki Kuroda, and Randy Wolf. The 5th slot likely goes to Jason Schmidt if he’s healthy, but since he’s at about Nomar levels of durability, we’ll also see a battle between youngsters James McDonald & Ramon Troncoso, quad-A type Eric Stults, and the corpses of Shawn Estes, Eric Milton, and Claudio Vargas. It’s funny that you mention Park, however, because the Dodgers have had quite a bit of success in taking washed-up has-beens and wrangling a few months of decent performances out of them (see: Park, Aaron Sele, Scott Erickson). LA had better hope so; while the top 4 is talented, each has health or durability questions to worry about, and while it may be one thing to have the rest of the crew batting for the 5th starter job, it’s quite another to have Vargas, Schmidt, and Estes all in your rotation at the same time.
5) With Alyssa Milano and Wilmer Valderrama as Dodgers fans and STD carriers, which current Dodger do you hope they pull into a threesome? And why?
The biggest tragedy of the offseason, as far as I’m concerned, is the loss of Brad Penny to the Red Sox. Not just because the Dodgers needed a starter, but mostly because he’ll be taking Eliza Dushku with him. To fill that void, I’d almost consider re-signing Brett Tomko, if only because his wife is a smoking hot former Playmate… but he’s so awful at actually, you know, “playing baseball” that it’s probably not worth it. As for current Dodgers, Andre Ethier seems to have a following among the “non-traditional male” category. But really, the most likely choice has to be Russell Martin – there’s already been rumors about him and Milano.