I think this was a better team than the 2014 version, I really do. We got hit hard by injuries (Ryu, McCarthy, Grandal, Puig, Kendrick) and we still made a hell of a go at it. I put a lot of the blame for the game 1 NLDS loss on Mattingly's shoulders (seriously, let Kershaw get into a jam and then bring in Baez? deja vu), but he wasn't terrible after that. I mostly agreed with the lineups and I like how he handled the staff in game 4. At the end of the day, we needed a better outing from Greinke in game 5 and the team was sloppy and kinda quit after the 4th inning. We kept threatening against deGrom, but just couldn't break through. Also, it seemed like somehow the team dynamic changed after Ethier's tantrum ... not sure exactly what happened there, but it wasn't good. And while I think that Mattingly did a slightly better job of in-game managing for this post-season, our team looked clueless out there at times and it's time for a new voice in the clubhouse. Like, what the hell happened with that failed coverage on Murphy? Seriously? In the playoffs, someone got confused or was lazy? Inexcusable. And why in the hell did Ethier catch that foul ball and let the run score? You can't just give the opposing team a run in a winner take all game that's supposed to be a damn pitching duel. Clueless.
While Mattingly grew on me somewhat, I'm just not seeing the positives outweighing the negatives here. He may have a good rapport with the guys, but the team isn't well coached or well managed and it's time for a change. Sorry for it to happen to such a nice guy ... and I think he might actually succeed elsewhere, but we need an attitude change and while we're at it, we might as well get someone who actually knows how to manage. Plain and simple. Fire his ass and hire Kapler or someone else with a clue. We've got young kids who need instruction and positive role models.
Looking forward to 2016, I think this team is VERY well positioned to keep this thing going. Let's look at that roster:
SP: Kershaw, Ryu, Wood, Bolsinger, Frias with Wieland, Lee, Cotton, De Leon and Urias in the mix and McCarthy possibly back at mid-season.
RP: Jansen, Hatcher, Howell, Nicasio, Avilan, Baez, Garcia, Liberatore
C: Grandal, Ellis and Barnes
IF: Gonzalez, Seager, Peraza, Turner, Kike and possibly Barnes/SVS
OF: Puig, CC, Pederson, Ethier, Schebler, SVS, Kike and Ruggiano
That is still a REALLY strong team. Our payroll is actually down to $148M now without Greinke and before arbitration. What a difference a year makes! I'd like to think that we can shed some more salary, too. We need to sign AJ Ellis to a 3 year $8M backup/coaching contract. I'd also try to get Jansen and Turner signed to multi-year deals, but that may prove difficult. Heisey, Barney, Nicasio and Ruggiano could be expendable, but none of them are all that expensive. I would love, love to see one of Ethier or CC traded. Carl has two years and $43M left, while Ethier has 2/$35. If this FO can trade CC, they are working GD miracles. I just don't see it. Ethier, on the other hand after a successful bounce-back year, I think could be moved. Eat $15-20M, take nothing in return and hopefully clear $15-20M from the books. No need to keep Ethier with CC and all the other OFs on this roster. While we're at it, time to trade/cut Guerrero. Let's say we cut $15M and add $25M in arb: currently sitting at ~$160M.
Now the easy part: make qualifying offers to Anderson, Kendrick and Greinke. Honestly, I'd be stoked if all THREE of those guys accepted, which would put us at ~$206. But, if all three decline, we'll have five early picks in next year's draft. Not too shabby. I'm not sure what our payroll will be next year, but I have to expect a decline. $250M is a reasonable target, so we likely still have ~$90M to work with, no?
Our needs are easy: SP, offense. I think the bullpen is fine. We could use another piece, but relief pitchers are such a crapshoot. Obviously, we need to be real aggressive on the pitching market. I'd love to sign Greinke to a 5/145 deal, because I think his fine control will play well into his older age and he's a RHP, which we need. But, if someone offers him 6-7 years or ~$200M, I'd pass. At that point, I'd go hard after the big three. I'm concerned about the staff being 4/5 LH, but I could see us signing Price and then flipping Wood to another team to fill another hole. You take the best available talent and it's real hard to pass on Price. But Zimmerman or Cueto would look great in this rotation, too. For the offense, I'd look real hard at re-signing Kendrick, because we need some steady veterans to balance against the youth on this team. Gonzalez is NOT an MVP-type hitter any longer, but he's a solid 4/5 and he plays great D. If we didn't have so many OFers, I'd consider a run at Cespedes or Upton, but we need to subtract, not add to that department. I definitely would be approaching the Marlins about Puig and anyone else that wants to listen with an eye towards a SP or bat. I'm not trading Puig for middle relief.
Otherwise, I really like our chances that Seager, Kike, Joc, Peraza and possibly Barnes will step up next year. I'd like some more stability in the lineup outside of Grandal, Gonzalez and Turner, but I think there'll be some options for us. With the FA market full of OFs, we really need to see how the trade market develops. I'll tell you this much, with $90M to work with, a stable FO and tons of assets, I think we're going to see some serious fireworks this offseason. Some of us won't like at least some of the moves. But, change is coming. Buckle your seat belts!!!