Will Zack Greinke Be the New Kevin Brown?

Back in 1998, the L.A. Dodgers made sports history when they signed Kevin Brown to the first $100 M contract, agreeing to pay him $105 Million over the next seven years. Brown would be 34 when he threw his first pitch as a Dodger, and had he finished the contract in LA, would have been 41 at its conclusion. Brown only played five years with the Dodgers, and, as anyone could have guessed, he missed much of that time, more than a full season in total, due to injuries. He averaged just under 12 wins a season as a Dodger, which came to $1.3 M per win over the five years. Not as bad as Jason Schmidt who produced 10 wins for the $47 M the Dodgers paid him, but still pretty bad.

At 29, Greinke figures to have many more quality years left than did Brown, but Brown had been a 20-game winner and had a history of leading goods teams to great heights, including to two World Series appearances. Greinke on the other hand, has never won more than 16 and has never been near a playoff game.

But, what the hey, the Dodgers have the money. As Jeff Passan reflected on Yahoo! Sports, they are the most expensive team in sports history, so what’s another $147 M here or there? The Dodgers’ team payroll for 2013 now is at about $230 M, and who knows where it will be by opening day.

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Clayton Kershaw
On paper the Dodgers’ starting staff looks dominant, but in reality, they need to overcome several injury problems to contend. After ace and ace#2, Clayton Kershaw and Greinke, Chad Billingsley will be coming off a serious injury that cut his 2012 season short, and who knows about the health of Josh Beckett?

At the start of the season, the four and five starter’s spots figure to be taken by Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang, but they are still paying Ted Lilly a bundle, and if he can return healthy after missing almost all of last season, he figures to overtake both Capuano and Harang in the rotation.

However, with all their spending, there is still an opening day hole in left field, as Carl Crawford does not figure to be at full strength until close to mid-season. Playing him too soon would be a major mistake coming off Tommy John surgery, so Jerry Hairston, Jr., Scott Van Slyke and Alex Castellanos all figure to get a shot at the job for the first couple of months. Unless, of course, Stan Kasten throwns out another $147 M for a free agent outfielder. To play for two months.

Of course, as we so often have commented, you can spend hundreds of millions of dollars, you can start Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, you can have Matt Kemp in center, Adrian Gonzales at first, and Hanley Ramirez somewhere on the field, but with an empty uniform masquerading as manager in a division loaded with managerial heavyweights such as Kirk Gibson and Bud Black, and baseball’s best manager Brucy Bochy handling the defending World Champion Giants, the Dodgers will be damn lucky to eek out a wild card slot.

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