Building a Winner

Four different teams made it to the LCS this year. Where did they come from? I have already addressed the Phillies, and the folks at River Avenue Blues covered the Yankees. I would like to address the two Los Angeles teams briefly to see what we can learn about building the best teams in baseball.

Los Angeles Dodgers
1B – James Loney – 1st Round Draft Pick, 2002
2B – Orlando Hudson – Signed as Free Agent from Arizona, 2009
SS – Rafael Furcal – Signed as Free Agent from Atlanta,
3B – Casey Blake – Traded by Cleveland, 2008
RF – Andre Ethier – Traded by Oakland, 2005
CF – Matt Kemp – 6th Round Draft Pick, 2003
LF – Manny Ramirez – Traded by Boston, 2008
C – Russell Martin – 17th Round Draft Pick, 2002
SP – Clayton Kershaw – 1st Round Draft Pick, 2006
SP – Randy Wolf – Signed as Free Agent from Houston, 2009
SP – Clay Billingsley – 1st Round Draft Pick, 2003
SP – Hiroki Kuroda – Signed as Free Agent from Japan, 2007
CL – Jonathan Broxton – 2nd Round Draft Pick, 2002

The Dodgers acquired 6 players via the draft, 3 from trades, 3 from free agency, and 1 from Japan.

Los Angeles Angels
 1B – Kendry Morales – Signed as Amateur Free Agent, 2005
2B – Howie Kendrick – 10th round Draft Pick, 2002
SS – Erick Aybar – Signed as Amateur Free Agent, 2002
 3B – Chone Figgins – Traded by Colorado, 2001
RF – Bobby Abreu – Signed as Free Agent from Yankees, 2009
CF – Torii Hunter – Signed as Free Agent from Minnesota, 2007
LF – Juan Rivera – Traded by Washington, 2004
C – Mike Napoli – 17th Round Draft Pick, 2000
DH – Vladimir Guerrero – Signed as Free Agent from Nationals, 2004
SP – Jered Weaver – 1st Round Draft Pick, 2004
SP – John Lackey – 2nd Round Draft Pick, 1999
SP – Scott Kazmir – Traded by Tampa Bay, 2009
SP – Joe Saunders – 1st Round Draft Pick, 2002
CL – Brian Fuentes – Signed as Free Agent from Colorado, 2008

The Angels acquired 5 players via draft, 3 via trades, 4 via free agency, and 2 as amateur free agents.

None of these teams are completely bought. The Phillies acquired 8 through the traditional draft, Rule 5 draft, or amateur free agency. The Yankees acquired 7 that way, plus another through Japanese free agency. The Dodgers acquired 6 like the Phillies and join the Yankees with 1 from Japan. Finally, the Angels 7 through the draft and amateur free agency. Overall, the Phillies are the most homegrown team, and either of the LA teams have brought in the most players from other teams.

What conclusions should we draw from this?

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3 Comments on “Building a Winner”

  1. verdun Says:

    One thing that jumps out at me is the lack of really 1st rate free agents picked up by any of the teams, except possibly NY. I suppose Ramirez (at LAD) and Lee (at Philly) would have been 1st rate, but they are technically trades. Only Guerrero of the Angels and Tex and CC of the Yanks could be considered 1st rate free agent signings.
    I supposed others might consider Abreu and Hunter top of the line, but I don’t. To me a 1st rate free agent is one you get that allows you to legitimately say “now we’re gonna win because we got him and nobody else does.” I don’t see any of the LA players that way, except that Guerrero was seen that way back in 04.
    So maybe it’s better to pick good draft choices and then throw money at your home grown players rather than go after free agents.
    v

  2. sportsphd Says:

    I would place three as first rate free agents, Teixeira, Sabathia, and Guerrero. Outside of them, it is noticeable how big the dropoff is to the next top free agent. Torii Hunter? Nice player, 3 hitter on a team in the ALCS, but having him as your 3 hitter is symptomatic of why the Angels are having trouble beating the Yankees. The Dodgers did particularly well with deadline trades, i.e. Ramirez and Blake, as did the Phillies with Lee.

  3. verdun Says:

    In some ways it’s kind of amazing that owners and general managers seem to think that a bunch of stars is going to win. Baseball history is full of great teams with a bunch of role players doing the bulk of the heavy lifting. Using 2 Yankee teams and one Dodger team for examples we can see the 1927 team with Ruth and Gehrig as superstars, then Combs and Lazzeri as Hall of Famers, and the rest of the starters as role players. The ’98 Yankees are much the same with Jeter probably a sure fire Hall of Famer and the rest a lot of very good players who made a wonderful team. I’ve excluded pitchers in both cases to concentrate on the hitters. The 1965 Dodgers are exactly the opposite with Koufax and Drysdale and a bunch of hitters no one’s ever heard of (except maybe Wills). Each of them have in common they won a World Series and each did it without a lot of superstars.
    v


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