Welcome to The Show! Tim Kurkjian is stopping by Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET as part of our ongoing Hot Stove Heaters chats! Check back each day for a new topic and a new chat! Take it away, Tim!
Which organization has a brighter future, the Dodgers or the Angels?
Ten years ago, that wasn't even worthy of discussion. The Dodgers were the kings of Southern California, but they haven't won the World Series in 20 years, they've won one playoff game in that time and they've lost their stronghold on baseball in that region. The Angels won the World Series in 2002, and they have made the playoffs four times in the last six years. They're the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and they've officially caught the Dodgers.
The case for the Dodgers
A talented cast of young, major league players, led by catcher Russell Martin, first baseman James Loney and outfielder Matt Kemp, gives the Dodgers hope to contend in 2008 and beyond in what is now a pedestrian National League. New manager Joe Torre will blend the older and younger players, as he did so well in New York. Plus, he brings a cache to the job. He is the biggest name Dodgers manager since Tommy Lasorda. Torre and aggressive GM Ned Coletti have no interest in missing the playoffs two years in a row.
The farm system isn't as strong as it used to be partly because most of the best players are in the big leagues. Still, there is some talent below, led by left-hander Clayton Kershaw, who has a great future. There is a lot to like about the future of the Dodgers. They drew 3.8 million fans last year, 47,614 per game -- second only to the Yankees in each category. As always, their radio/TV package is among the best in the game. Their payroll of $125 million was the third highest in the game last year, and should be roughly the same this year. They may not own Southern California, but with Torre in charge, things are looking up.
The case for the Angels
The Angels are the team to beat again in the American League West thanks in part to their collection of young players, including Howie Kendrick, Casey Kotchman and Jered Weaver, combined with their veterans, led by Vladimir Guerrero. They have an owner in Arte Moreno who is pro-active, will spend money (though it appears he's close to his payroll budget of around $125 million) and is closely involved in player moves. New GM Tony Reagins is slightly more aggressive than predecessor Bill Stoneman, but Stoneman is working as a consultant for the team and still has input, so it's probably unlikely that the Angels will trade their best young kids.
The Angels system is not as deep as it once was, and the Angels weren't big spenders in the June draft. Still, there is talent in the minor leagues, led by right-hander Nick Adenhart and shortstop/third baseman Brandon Wood, whose development this year (he likely will begin the season at Triple-A) will be important. The Angels drew 3.3 million fans last year (41,551 per game, fifth best in the major leagues) and have a good radio/TV package. The Angels got bounced out of the postseason without winning even one game last season, but things are bright in Anaheim. And that's because manager Mike Scioscia might have a larger voice in organizational matters.
Vote: Which organization has the brighter future?
Taking into account a weak AL West compared to a strong NL West and a relatively weak NL when compared to the AL - who do you think has a better shot of winning the World Series near term?
In the short term, I'm going to say the Angels have the better chance, even though they're in a much more difficult league and will have to get through the Red Sox, Tigers, and Yankees to even get to the world Series. I think the Angels' talent level is higher than the Dodgers' now, although not significantly higher. With the way baseball has gone the past few years especially, a lot of teams are capable of winning in the short term, including the Dodgers.
Kevin (Mansfield, MA)
Tim, The Angels have made a bigger impact this offseason and I think they will contend more (especially given the Dodgers' division), but it seems that their future is dimmer because their team is aging, with Torii Hunter, Guerrero, Garrett Anderson, Colon, Matthews Jr. all having their best years behind them. Do you think that's a fair assessment?
I see what you're saying, but I'm just not ready to call Vlad old. I'm not ready to believe that Matthews isn't capable of being better than last year, and I think Torii Hunter has at least a few more good years in him. I know Guerrero's body has been beaten up in recent years, but I still think he has a monster year yet ahead.
Joe (Point Pleasant, NJ)
Joe Torre has considerable experience dealing with veteran teams. How do you think he will manage the Dodgers this year with a more youthful lineup?
I think Joe Torre is one of the best I've ever seen at dealing with people and putting players in a position to succeed. Tino Martinez once told me that he was in a slump early on in his career in New York. Torre called him in his office. Tino thought he was going to get benched. Instead, Torre gave him the name of a great Italian restaurant, told him to go there, forget about everything, and relax. Tino told me he came out of the slump the next day. Those are the kind of things Joe Torre does, and I think he will do much the same with the Dodgers.
Paul (Whittier CA)
What do you make of the surplus of outfielders with the Dodgers? Do you feel that one will get traded before the start of the season?
I can see the Dodgers making a deal for Andre Ethier, because they do have one too many outfielders. A former Dodger told me that now is the time to trade Matt Kemp, because he's so coveted, you might get a good deal for him. Personally, I might hang on to Matt Kemp and see if he develops into a player that many think he will become.
with the addition of Garland, how do you compare the 2 teams' starting rotation?
I think the Angels' rotation is slightly better than the Dodgers because it is certainly healthier. If the Dodgers can get Jason Schmidt back and healthy for a full season, and if Hiroki Kuroda is as good as some people have told me, then the Dodger rotation could be as good if not better than the Angels'. Either way, if the Dodger rotation is healthy, both teams will have excellent starting pitching this year.
Peter (Silver City, MS)
Much has been made of the lack of power in the Dodgers line-up in recent years. But I remember the Cardinals doing quite well with little power in the '80s. How do you think the Dodgers will do with only one legit power hitter?
The Dodgers have finished higher than 8th in runs scored in the NL only one time in the last ten years. They have had a power shortage for some time, and they still have one right now. Andruw Jones will be a huge addition to them if he returns to the Andruw Jones form of two or three years ago. It's one thing to have a bunch of good hitters in your lineup, but in today's baseball, you have to have a truly productive, really dangerous power guy in the middle of the order if you're gonna win consistently.
Do you think Kershaw gets a shot this year?
I think we'll see him in the big leagues at some point this year, but my guess is later rather than sooner. The Dodgers, as you said, have plenty of starters, and there's no reason to rush this kid before he's ready. Everyone I've talked to about him thinks he'll be terrific someday, and he's not that far from ready.
Matt (Miaaion Viejo, CA)
Are the Angels ever going to get the big bat to protect Vladdy? Do they really believe Hunter is the answer?
I don't think Hunter is the answer to protect Vlad. He's not the big-time hitter they need. That was Alex Rodriguez and Miguel Cabrera. Even though they made a run at both, they didn't come up with either one. That could be a problem again for the Angels. But with Hunter, a comeback year from Matthews, and even more production from a healthy Kendrick and Kotchman, they should score enough runs to win the AL West.
Ryan (Walnut Creek, CA)
Tim, do you see the Dodgers playing 3rd base by platoon with La Roche and Nomar? Or will someone win the job out right?
I don't think they'll platoon at third. I think they'll give LaRoche a chance to win the everyday job in ST, but one Dodger told me he wasn't as good defensively as the Dodgers had hoped. Nomar, on the other hand, has had a tremenous amount of trouble staying healthy, and according to one scout, his bat slowed last year. Third base is a question mark for the Dodgers. It could be a productive position, or it could be a hole.
Brandon Wood...how critical is this year in AAA for him to show that he can limit his strikeouts? If he can't, what's his potential (offensively)?
This is a very important year for Wood. Chances are he'll start the season at AAA, but it's possible at some point this year that he could be the starting shortstop or third baseman for the Angels. His potential is still great, but you're right; he has to make more contact. Really good hitters mature as they go along and the K rates for them generally go down. I think that would be the case for him, but he's going to need some extended play in the big leagues to see if he can do that.
Who is set up better now for the 8th and 9th innings? The Dodgers with Broxton and Saito or the Angels with Shields and KRod?
That's a really close one. Saito has been terrific for a couple of years, and Broxton is good enough to close in the big leagues. Shields had some problems last year, but seemed to get them fixed, and K-Rod may not be as filthy as he's ever been, but he's still pretty good. Both teams have things pretty well convered in the late innings.
Matt (Brooklyn, NY)
Garrett Anderson came on strong in the second half when he got healthy. Do you think he has much left and do you think he is a Hall of Famer?
I think Garrett Anderson has quite a bit left, but I don't think he'll be the hitter that he was from 2000-2003, when he had his very best seasons. As for the Hall of Fame, he's still got a long way to go. He might need to get very close to 3,000 hits to get in, and that will require another 800 hits. I'm not sure he's got that much left.
Who has a better chance to win a CY over the next few years- John Lackey or Brad Penny?
I'll say Lackey. He was at worst, the third-best pitcher in the league last year and not very far behind the Cy Young winner C.C. Sabathia. People forget how young Lackey still is because he came up so quickly and made such a huge impact right away. His ERA last year in the very difficult A.L. suggests to me that he has a better chance than Brad Penny to win the Cy.
Thanks for logging in, and I can't wait to get to spring training.