29 March 2012

back to elite?

2.15 billion dollars can do a lot.  i'm not sure that it has restored all of the dodger faithful however.  and i'm not even talking about the fact that 2 billion dollars wasn't enough for magic and company to be able to tell mccourt to get all the way out.  i am thinking about payroll and free agency versus scouting and player development.

back in the 1970's and into the early 80's - the last time i would say that the dodgers were an elite team, the success of the franchise was based on developing talent (the infield, don sutton, bob welch, fernando, pedro guerrero, sax, etc.) and supplementing with well placed trade acquisitions (dusty baker, reggie smith, etc).  their primary free agent acquisitions heading into the 80's (don stanhouse and dave goltz) turned out to be busts.

take a look at this 2005 donruss elite card - from their 'elite team' insert set
on the front we have adrian beltre and shawn green.  beltre was picked up as an amateur (and underage, if i recall correctly) free agent back in 1994, and made his debut for the dodgers in 1998 at the age of 19.  he is a classic example of home grown talent.  hindsight is 20/20, but would al campanis or fred claire have re-signed beltre after his monster 2004 season?  i would like to think that they would have because he was the type of talent that the dodgers used to keep, especially since they haven't had such a steady force at third since ron cey was traded.

shawn green, on the other hand, was acquired in a trade for raul mondesi, himself a product of the dodger farm system and a rookie of the year.  green had some great seasons as a dodger, and was my favorite dodger for his entire tenure there.  his trade reminded me of the bill buckner/rick monday deal, except without the 3 world series appearances in the 5 years after the trade.

on the back, we have a couple of free agents, although not the more common sort.
hideo nomo and kazuhisa ishii are two examples of the dodgers paying a high price for free agents with mixed results.  for the purposes of this post, i wished that kevin brown had been on the card instead of nomo.

what i fear is that the dodgers will become another big market team that tries to spend its way to a championship.  i realize that there has been past success with free agency (kirk gibson, of course) but my hope is that we see a lot of money spent smartly on player development and that our gm can fill the holes with sensible trades.

just like it used to be, back when the dodgers were elite.

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