Dodgers: Signed CF Andruw Jones for 2 years, $36 million (Rating: Contract 6/10, Long-term plan 2/10)
I've seen far worse contracts--Torii Hunter's comes to mind--but that's not the problem here. Rather, the Dodgers think that adding Jones and shifting Juan Pierre to a corner will somehow improve their lineup, and that doesn't add up.
Remember when Darin Erstad got hurt playing center field, so the Angels moved him to first base even though he was the worst-hitting first baseman in the majors? Starting Pierre in a corner is just as senseless. But hey, the White Sox did the same thing with Scott Podsednik and lucked their way into a World Series title, so why not give it a shot?
Bill James projects Andruw to have a worse OPS than Andre Ethier or Matt Kemp, one of whom will probably be traded to clear a spot for Pierre in the lineup. If the Dodgers trade Ethier, they'll be no better on offense than they were before, maybe a win better on defense, and $18 million poorer.
Apparently Ethier will be dangled for starting pitching. You'd think that the Dodgers filled this hole already by picking up Esteban Loaiza and his $7 million contract. You'd think they could look at Hong-Chih Kuo's career 10 K/9--that's in the majors, not AAA--and figure that maybe he can pitch a little. Nahhhh...that's crazy talk.
To the Dodgers: You don't need another starting pitcher. What you need to do is get Juan Pierre out of your everyday lineup. If that means throwing in $20 million to trade him for a six-pack of Milwaukee's Best, fine. The solution is not to spin your tires by signing a redundant player, or to block your most valuable assets--talented young players--by blocking them with Pierre, Jones, Luis Gonzalez, or Nomar Garciaparra. Make sure you open 2008 with Andy LaRoche and Matt Kemp playing every day, and you might actually get back to your former glory.