OF Drama in LA… Again by Eric Seidman December 30, 2008 Following the 2007 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers seemingly had their outfield in order. Juan Pierre had signed a 5-yr/$55 mil deal prior to the season and was not about to sit on the bench. Flanking him would be prospects Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Ned Colletti then proceeded to sign Andruw Jones to a 2-yr/$36.2 mil contract, creating a logjam in the outfield and relegating someone to the bench in the process. With all of the money invested in Jones and Pierre, the odd man out had to come from Ethier and Kemp. Jones produced a .234 wOBA and, despite a +3.7 UZR rating in centerfield, proving his worth to be -0.4 wins. He missed most of the season, opening up a spot for all three of Pierre, Ethier, and Kemp. Manny Ramirez soon joined the team, once again creating a surplus of outfielders. Fans screamed for Pierre to sit on the bench and Ethier to receive plenty of playing time. Though Joe Torre did not immediately react to these please, he soon found it too difficult of a task to keep Ethier out of the lineup. Pierre became disgruntled, but Kemp and Ethier needed to play every day, and you do not acquire Manny Ramirez to sit on the bench. Jones may have missed a good portion of the 2008 season, but he is still technically under contract. Pierre also has three more years remaining. Kemp and Ethier are pretty much guaranteed starting jobs next season, but who takes over the remaining outfield spot? Manny Ramirez does not appear to be heading for as big a payday as he expected, meaning the initial 2-yr/$45 mil offer that the Dodgers withdrew may make the most sense. Should he re-sign with the Dodgers, Colletti will have the outfield that helped propel the team into the playoffs returning n tact. He will also have around $30 mil in outfielders sitting on the bench/not living up to their paycheck. The most recent reports have Jones heading to the Mets. Unless the Dodgers are willing to take on a bad contract like the one belonging to Luis Castillo (of whom they have no interest), Colletti will have to pay the large majority of Jones’ salary. If Ramirez rejoins the team and Jones is dealt, then Juan Pierre may not be happy, but you could do much worse in the fourth outfielder department. The big issue there is that he will earn plenty of money to make contributions that do not necessarily merit that fee. An even newer report has Adam Dunn talking to the Dodgers. I cannot imagine Colletti would sign both Dunn and Ramirez, meaning he will go for either one or the other. Both are all-hit/no-field corner outfielders. Their 2009 projections call for +3.5 wins for Manny and around +2.8 wins for Dunn. Dunn is several years younger than Ramirez and will cost less, as well. From an owner’s perspective, however, ManRam puts butts in the seats, and Dunn does not. Regardless, Pierre could be very useful as a pinch-runner who stays in the game as a defensive replacement, occasionally garnering starts. For most Dodgers fans, it seems the ideal solution is to cut ties with both Pierre and Jones while bringing back Ramirez to play left-field. The Jones part of that solution may come to fruition very soon, but I would fully expect to see Pierre in Dodger-blue as a fourth outfielder come Spring Training 2009. Either way, Colletti definitely loves him some outfielders, as four are currently under contract already and two more have been heavily rumored to be signed.