New outfielders in Hollywood
The Los Angeles Dodgers finally decided it was time to try and improve their anemic offense over the All-Star break. They signed outfielder Rickey Henderson and traded for outfielder Jeromy Burnitz.
LA's entire offense has been bad this season, but the outfield has been a mess, especially with Brian Jordan out for the season and Dave Roberts out since the first of this month. Shawn Green has been slumping all season and the rest of the outfield fillers have not been pretty.
Mike Kinkade can only hit lefties, Chad Hermansen has four hits in 23 at-bats (.174), Wilkin Ruan has a .258 OBP in 31 at-bats, Daryle Ward has a .411 OPS in 107 at-bats and Jason Romano, Larry Barnes and Bubba Crosby combined for seven hits in 51 at-bats (.137) while they were with the Dodgers.
So the offense obviously had to be addressed, and the outfield looked like the best place to address.
For those of you who haven't been paying attention, Henderson (now with his ninth team) can still help a team. Over the last three years, he's only hit .229 with almost no power (.331 SLG) in 978 at-bats, but he does have a .367 OBP in that time.
With Jordan out, Paul Lo Duca is the only Dodger with an OBP higher than that. Kinkade is the only other Dodger with an OBP higher than .333.
Henderson might have hit his 296th career home run last night, but that's not how he's going to help the Dodgers. He's going to help the Dodgers by getting on base, which is exactly where they need help. Only the Detroit Tigers (.293) have a worse team OBP than the Dodgers (.305).
Burnitz will just help the Dodgers by being a good hitter. His stock took a big hit because nobody paid attention to him when he was with the Brewers and he struggled in his first season with the Mets. He bounced back this year though, and he's been good (if inconsistent) since 1997 aside from last year. Here are his Avg/OBP/SLG/OPS and games played each year since 1997.
1997 - .281/.382/.553/.935, 153 G
1998 - .263/.339/.499/.838, 161 G
1999 - .270/.402/.561/.961, 130 G
2000 - .232/.356/.456/.812, 161 G
2001 - .251/.347/.504/.851, 154 G
2002 - .215/.311/.365/.676, 154 G
2003 - .274/.344/.581/.925, 65 G
Like I said, he's been very inconsistent, but last year was the only time he was bad. If he can do with the Dodgers the same thing he has been doing with the Mets this year, he will quickly become LA's best hitter.
So, the Dodgers offense should improve significantly over the rest of the season (especially if Green can get on one of his hot streaks and Adrian Beltre can keep hitting like he has been the last five games), but it may not be enough for Los Angeles to make the playoffs.
The Dodgers lost 15 of their final 20 games before the All-Star break, and they now trail two teams (San Francisco and Arizona) in the NL West and two teams (Philadelphia and Arizona) in the wild card race. They certainly still can make the playoffs, but by waiting so long to improve their offense they have left themselves with an uphill battle.