In 2010 the Dodgers ended the season 3rd in their division and remained competetive throughout the season. They need to make a few key improvements to get to the top of the division in 2011. Before we explore the Dodgers off-season until now (12/28) we should identify some of their needs from last season.
First Base: James Loney is a good baseball player, I'm not refuting that. His production at first base however is lower than the league average. They'll need to increase production from that position for more home runs and 90-100 RBI.
Left Field: As it stands the Dogers have few options for left field: Tony Gwynn Jr., Jay Gibbons and some un-experienced minor players. They're solid at center and right (Kemp & Ethier) but need to find a more servicable player for left.
So, what have they done so far to fill these holes? Lets examine their acquisitions to date to see if they've made marked improvements.
December 3rd the Dodgers signed catcher Rod Barajas for $3.5 for one year. The past 3 years Barajas has hit double digit home runs (11, 19, 17) and considering the thin offerings in the free agent market for catcher this signing will serve them well. With AJ Ellis as their catcher of the future they didn't need to give Barajas any more than a one year contract.
In 2009 the Dodgers used Padilla as their opening day starter and while he wasn't spectacular he was certainly a pitcher any club would like to have in their rotation. He missed time last year with injuries and logged just under 100 innings with below average results. He will likely be a long reliever and spot starter for the 2011 season. He got a $2 million dollar, one year contract and if he stays healthy he will be worth every cent.
Tony Gwynn Jr.
Tony can't hit well but he can run. He will likely serve as a back-up outfielder and for less than a million that a good signing.
Navarro had a rough 2009 and wasn't very productive. Even though their paying him a small salary ($1M) I don't think this was a good signing. I wanted to see AJ Ellis more time behind the plate and it seems like the team is planning on using Navarro as their back-up.
The Dodgers lured Uribe away from the Giants with a 3 year, $21 million dollar contract. This is a great signing. A few home runs they don't get from first base will now come from second as Uribe has power good for 18-22 homers a year.
Matt was great in relief last season and will be part of a great late inning relief corps currently comprised of Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo & Kenley Jansen. His contract is for 3 years and 12 million which might seem high for a reliever but I think it will pay off for the Dodgers.
In November the team signed Garland to a one year, $5 million dollar contract. Garland has been a re-hab project for a while now but he proved his effectiveness last season. With the Padres he threw 200 innings and won 14 games in 2009. This is a great signing that will help the Dodgers win games and protect their bullpen.
While the Dodgers will have a very competetive team in 2011, I don't think they addressed their major concerns. Within their division last year they were 4th & 5th in runs and home runs. A repeat performance of that run production will not see them winning the NL West. The moves made so far will not improve their run production enough to make a substantial difference. They did, however, improve an already good pitching staff. If their defense is solid behind their pitchers it could earn them to the Wild Card. If you're a Dodgers fan, here's to hoping they'll sign a bit more offense through the rest of the off-season.