I suppose, in my heart of hearts, and like everyone else, I'd like the FO to go out spend another $300 million, resign Greinke, sign Price, and perhaps pick up another big bat like Yoenis Cespedes and off we go to the World Series.
But realistically, I don't see that happening. At some point, the CBA kicks in and having a payroll of $300 million becomes a payroll of $400 million through the various penalties that accrue to high-spending owners. I don't know when that happens, but I'm sure the FO does.
Besides which, my take on Friedman & Co. is that they want to make the Dodgers younger and less expensive rather than older and more expensive. You could see that last year with the Matt Kemp for Yasmani Grandal trade and we saw it again when we traded for Jose Peraza, Alex Wood and Luis Avilan. These, moreover, have been great moves. Grandal has already shown how productive he can be at the plate when he isn't injured. Peraza fills a hole at second base that we had no replacement for in our system. Alex Wood has flashed signs of brilliance (and he's only 23) and Avilan has proven he's a great LOOGY and may be much more than that if given the chance. So I give Friedman & Co. an "A" for the young talent they've picked up this season.
Looking to next year, I see Don Mattingly gone. After 5 years as manager, and the last three taking the team to the playoffs, but not advancing past the first round, I think we've seen what Mattingly can do. If Jeffrey Loria wants him and Miami, by all means, let him go. I also think Wallach, Maguire, Valentin, and Bundy will be let go. I hope they keep Honeycutt, Lopes (still a good 1st base coach and I'd like to see him work with Peraza) and Roenike (because I thought he did a great job as the 3rd base coach). I have no idea who the FO will choose to replace Mattingly, but I will throw one name out there--Dave Martinez, Joe Maddon's long-time bench coach. I read an article last year when Friedman was hired that he and Martinez were really close.
As far as the pitching goes, I don't see us resigning Greinke or signing David Price. I can imagine us signing someone like Jordan Zimmerman for four years at around $80 million to slot between Kershaw and Ryu. And they'll probably either have to sign or trade for another arm to fill out the rotation, because I don't see McCarthy being able to pitch again until August or September. The Dodgers have so many arms in the bullpen, I'm sure they'll figure all that out in Spring Training. Even with the injuries to Ryu and McCarthy and the occasional meltdown of the bullpen, pitching wasn't problem with this year's Dodgers.
The biggest problem the new Dodger manager and his staff will have to face is the lack of situational hitting. We simply left too many people in scoring position without bringing them home to score. And this wasn't just a problem in 2015, it was a problem in 2014 and 2013 and probably in 2012, but I can't remember that far back. We're never going to be a championship team if we keep leaving people at second base with no outs and then not bringing them in to score. That has to be the main priority of the new manager.
Next year is going to be tough on us long-time Dodger fans, because for the first time since about 2006, we're going to have a lot of young players in the line-up. And they're going to strike out, a lot. Not only will Joc Pederson return to centerfield, but we'll have Seager at SS and Peraza at 2nd base. I'm kind of on the fence about Puig - part of me says bring him back and see if a new manager can figure him out; the other part of me says the guy is a head case and we're better off without him. Joc Pederson looked like Mickey Mantle the first half of the season and Mickey Mouse the second half. Still, I figure he'll be back. I wonder if the FO will see if Scott Schebler can handle left field. If not, there's a whole bunch of platoon possibilities with Kike, SVS, and Justin Ruggiano. Turner will be back at 3rd base. Seager looked great in September and then got schooled by the Mets. But he'll be back. And the second base job is Peraza's to loose. I'm not as hard on Agon as Torgy is. I looked at Agon's numbers over the last three years and they're remarkably consistent, with the exception that he ground into more double-plays this year. Agon can no longer carry an offense anymore and he's probably overpaid, but I don't see anyone we could trade for that could replace him. And we would not get back Agon's value if we traded him. Grandal will be back behind the plate with Austin Barnes backing him up.
I don't see A.J. Ellis making the cut, though I'm sorry to see him go. As Dopple pointed out, Andre Ethier has about two years and $35 million left on his contract. I can imagine he can be traded if we eat a little bit of his contract. Ethier at least reestablished some of his value. Crawford has two years and $42 million left on his contract. I suspect we'll have to give him away.
I don't think this team I've described is a world beater by any means. I doubt if this team wins more than about 85 games. On the other hand, the NL West is so bad, that might be enough to win the division. There are a lot of young players in key positions and they're going to struggle offensively as they learn how to become major league players. But even the best players struggle their first couple seasons in the majors. Still, I'd rather suffer through their teething pains and see if they develop into a great team rather than watch this year's team choke and hand a victory to the Mets.