Dodgers Good, Angels No So Much, in Key Areas

The Dodgers and Angels each went into the off season with key infielders becoming free agents, and with several other needs that could be filled through a great farm system. As the 2016 season approaches, regarding these two areas, the Dodgers are rightfully smiling, while the Angels are looking, to say the least, embarrassed.

The Dodgers acquired Howie Kendrick a year ago knowing that he would become a free agent at the end of the 2015 season, and as great a performance as he gave them, it seemed


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as if they never had any intention of re-signing him beyond that one year. Well, after praising prospect Jose Peraza as their second baseman of the futures, the future perhaps beginning with 2016, as the offseason began they seemed to sprint from his bandwagon, eventually trading him away, but in a deal for, among others, yet another young second baseman, Micah Johnson.

Johnson brings to the team something very
lacking on the 2015 Dodgers, and even more so for the projected 2016 version, speed and the ability to steal bases. The 2015 Dodgers stole a grand total of 59 bases, ranking 26th among MLB’a 30 teams. And, 2015 team leader, with the abysmal total of 12 SBs, Jimmie Rollins, is gone. The highest stolen base total of any returning member of the squad is 10, collected by Carl Crawford, who figures to play little, if at all for the 2016 team. Kendrick was third last year, with a total of six.

So, a young speedster at second would be great, right? Wrong. Apparently, the team believes that while Johnson is a fine base runner and base stealer, as his 164 minor league stolen bases over four seasons attest, they apparently feel that he is neither a major league caliber defensive payer nor major league quality hitter.

So, the Dodgers re-signed Chase Utley, who had appeared about ready to hang them up while suffering through injuries and poor performance with the Phillies, but who got a bit of a second wind once he was acquired by LA, and the team appeared to be heading into the season with an Utley-Kike Hernandez platoon at second.


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But then, after expressing little interest in re-signing Kendrick, and after Howie received surprisingly little interest from other clubs, who would have had to surrender a top draft choice to the Dodgers, the team has now brought him back, signing him to a two year contract. at $10 million per season. Utley and Hernandez may take that platoon over to third base for the start of the season, as Justin Turner recovers from off-season surgery, and is likely to miss the start of the season.

The Angels faced a similar situation at third base, as David Freese became a free agent after the season. Taken for granted by the club and by fans, his value and clutch hitting became very evident as the team struggled to find anyone to play the position when Freese missed 40-plus games

While he was out, the position was an absolute disaster area, with the likes of Kaleb Cowart (.174), Kyle Kubitza (.194) and Connor Gillaspie (.203) getting the playing time and contributing NOTHING, with two home runs and 14 RBIs between them. Upon his return, Freese played extremely well, hitting .337 in September. But, the Angels decided not to pursue a new contract with him, letting him go. As with Kendrick, there he has evoked surprisingly little interest from other teams.

Instead, the Angels traded for 33-year-old Yunel Escobar giving up outstanding young pitching prospect Trevor Gott, who over 48 appearances in 2015 rose significantly in Manager Mike Scioscia’s hierarchy and confidence. Escober is a fine player coming off a solid season in Washington, but the Angels do not have the kind of depth in their relief corp to trade away pitchers like Gott.

The Angels have another hole that for the second consecutive season they are attempting to fill with duct tape and goose poop. After they gave up on Josh Hamilton, a year ago they figured that Matt Joyce, along with Colin Cowgil would be plenty of talent in left field. Wrong. Joyce outstayed his welcome by June, finishing the year at .174 and Cowgill did little more to endear himself than that, batting .188. Seeing their 2015 post season in jeopardy, late in the year they raided the waiver wires, bringing in three new guys to battle


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it out in left - David DeJesus, Shane Victorino and David Murphy. DeJesus at .125 and Victorino at .214 were terrible, but Murphy contributed, hitting a decent .265 and driving in some key runs. But, alas, all are now gone, and this off season, they've brought in the likes of Daniel Nava, Craig Gentry, and Todd Cunningham. What can they possibly see in this group, who in 2015 batted .194, .120 and .221, respectively?

And that leads into the real point of all this – the Dodgers’ and Angels’ farm systems.

The Dodgers filled their center field hole a year ago with Joc Pederson, and now and future shortstop Corey Seager, who killed it in last September audition, is rated baseball’s number one prospect in both mlb.com’s and baseballprospectus.com’s just released lists of the games top 100 and 101 prospects. In baseballprospectus.com’s list, the Dodgers had four of baseball’s top 40 prospects, including the next up on the list to join the team, lefty starter Julio Urias, and fellow pitchers Jose deLeon and Grant Holmes. With a deep and formidable minor league system, the Dodgers have talented players stepping in and others soon ready to step in, and they thus could afford to trade some of the better talent – but NOT the top talent like Pederson, Seager or Urias, for other needs.

But then there are the Angels. The Angels did not place a since player in either mlb.com’s list of the 100 top prospects or baseballprospectus.com’s list of the 101 top prospects. NOT ONE! And thus, they had to trade a key guy from last year’s bullpen to fill the hole at third, and they are going into the 2016 season again with duct tape and goose poop in left field.

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