Dodgers Now

Steve Dilbeck and The Times' Dodgers reporters
give you all the news on the boys in blue

« Previous Post | Dodgers Now Home | Next Post »

The Dodgers are a team left without a true star

Manny_400 Los Angeles is the city of eternal sunshine, bright lights and stars.

Lots and lot of stars. We have more stars in L.A. than the Milky Way. Our stars have stars.

Unless you're the Los Angeles Dodgers. Then you are a team without a star. In this town, that’s bad business.

They have mini-stars and stars (they hope) in the making, but right now they have no name to put on the marquee. Certainly nothing that approaches a superstar.

Say what you will about Manny Ramirez, but that piece of work was a star. He may not have performed like one since the world learned he had gotten in touch with his feminine side, but he was without question a star.

He had charisma. He had drawing power. Had his own legion of fans. The Dodgers paid dearly to retain him, but if you factor in the Mannywood section and the Manny wig-caps and the season tickets he helped sell, it was probably money well spent.

Only Manny's gone now, and there is no one ready to assume his mantle.

Clayton Kershaw is a star on the rise. But he's starting pitcher who plays every five days. Which, now that I think about it, isn't a whole lot less than Manny last season.

Teams need an everyday player to rally around, to lead them, to bring daily media and fan attention.

Andre Ethier certainly looked like he had the makings of a guy who would be the face of a team the first six weeks of last season, when he was only the best hitter in baseball. Then came that fractured pinky, a rushed return and major leveling-off.

Matt Kemp? He has divided fans with his remarkable talent and seemingly casual approach to the game. Rafael Furcal? Check back when he actually is healthy and up to par an entire season. Russell Martin? He was badly fading and then suffered serious injury. The left fielder? Wait, the Dodgers will get back to you on that one.

"We don't have one superstar that draws," said General Manager Ned Colletti. "I think most people come out to watch the team rather than one player.

"There's probably some players in the game who have a unique draw to them, where people actually come out to see them play. I'm not sure that’s us. I think it's more well-rounded around this team."

A team so well-rounded, it almost reached .500 last season.

Stars, of course, cost serious dinero. That thing Frank and Jamie McCourt like to take out of the team and spend on mansions and private jets and hairstylists.

Peter O’Malley -- why do I think Frank McCourt is starting to cringe at the mention of that name? -- understood the impact a star player could have. And when the Dodgers weren't producing one, he'd go out and get a Kirk Gibson or a Darryl Strawberry.

These Dodgers? The wattage is so low, some are calling them the Los Angeles Pirates. Which somehow seems to insult Pittsburgh.

The Dodgers may have had a record number of no-shows last season. The number frustrated by the McCourt regime seems to swell by the day. There's no reason to believe they will come storming back next season.

Right now, it certainly wouldn't be because of the team's star power.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Manny Ramirez. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

 
Comments () | Archives (22)

The comments to this entry are closed.

What we don't have is a keeper of the stars. To leave a lasting legacy, you must be a good caretaker of your cause.
.
Whom is the good caretaker of our's?
.
The one star we need, is the North star. This is where you look for direction. Give us a solid foundation to follow!
.
You wander, you wonder!!

Very accurate assessment Steve - and some zingers to boot....

in touch with his feminine side
five days...isn't a whole lot less than Manny
which insults Pittsburgh

Ethier, assuming he gets back on track and is top 5 in several categories in the league, would be #1. Kemp 2, and maybe ahead of Ethier, if he picks up where he left off. And save for Loney, who needs to find power to go along with his rbi production, that's it.

It isn't the lack of star power that's the #1 problem; it's the dozen or so spearchuckers. Figuratively, they can't hit the broad side of a woolly mammoth, and they need to consistently do at least that.

OK... Its time to take a deep breath. This was a poor season, period. However, if you are truly objective, they only really need three or four moves this off season. Not much difference from most other teams, including those in the playoffs. To become competitive (or remain competitive, for those more successful this season) improvements must always be made. Like most teams starting pitching must be addressed. Another outfielder and a solid third baseman with some sock would be ideal. They are already competitive at catcher regardless of Martin's recovery, which would be a nice plus. It would be interesting to see if Russell could pick up an infielders glove and give it a try, while he regains his stroke at the plate. A healthy Furcal for the whole season would also be a blessing for this team. And, as always improvements in the bullpen. I am not worried about the finances of this organization as the value is there and they will be able to find the resources to be more the competitive. Far too much is being made of the owners and their financial problems. They have a very valuable product and will no doubt be able to find the money to keep the team competitive.

Please Steve, let's not bring up Peter O'Malley again. Kirk Gibson fell into his and Fred Claire's laps. Darryl Strawberry was a disaster. He never helped us win anything. He hired Fred Claire, who had less experience in baseball than Don Mattingly. Fred Claire famously traded Pedro Martinez for Delino deShields, because the sainted Tommy LaSorda thought Martinez was "too small." O'Malley sold the Dodgers to Fox. Fox sold the Dodgers to ........................ Need I go on?
O'Malley grandstanded from the comfort of his office about McCourt. If anybody needs a refresher course on O'Malley, then the should look up the very incisive column T.J. Simers wrote a couple of months ago regarding Mr. O'Malley.
Otherwise, yeah, we have no superstar. We're not getting one anytime soon. As long as McCourt is running things, we're wasting our time even discussing this stuff.

Dodgers never have stars at their peak. If anything, we get stars on the downward slide of their careers purely for marketing value. Or we trade them away for multiple losers before they cost us too much money.
Who was the last great star the Dodgers had at his peak?
At his peak....
Manny?
Nomar?
Sheffield?
Thome?
Piazza
Gibson?
Maddox?
Schmidt?
Penny?
Lowe?
Any ideas? Stars are expensive, messy, attract national focus and need to be handled with dignity and grace. It is not so easy to have a true superstar on your team. Just ask the Giants.

Yo ho, yo ho...
.
a Los Angeles Pirates' life for me!

If a star costs more than a divorce from his next ex-wife or his next mansion, forget about it. the only thing that matters is HIS GREED.......

Money devolved from a supernova in '08, to a white dwarf in '09, to a black hole in '10.

McCrap's Pirates have plenty of true stars: Jamey Carroll, AJ Ellis, Jay Gibbons, Ramon Troncoso, Scott Podesnick, Reed Johnson, Ryan Theriot, Vincente Padilla, Ronald Belisario, I could go on & on...Hu?

Steve, you are absolutely correct...there isn't a star--a real star--on this club. However, if I was forced to pick who could be that guy next season, it would be Ethier...if he stays healthy.
Oh, here's an answer to Hollywood Dodger Mark's question (pretty good post, by the way): I'd say Piazza was the closest thing to a star while he was here.

HDM - good post.

It would be Piazza for everyday players. And that's covering a lot of years.

For pitchers, its Gagne (maybe). Of course, he was cheating, too. So up to the individual if you count it or don't count it.

But before them, you'll have to reach back to the 1980s. And there you'll skip past Orel and his magic year and realize a true star with megawatt power over a sustained time frame was Fernando. The next position player you could offer up - true star, megawatt power - would be Steve Garvey.

HDM is correct that we without fail just don't have them on the roster in their prime. And Piazza and Fernando would be the only ones in the last 20 years that are of a sustained time period.

And it is all idle conversation - we ain't gettin' one anytime soon.

The Dodgers will have to do better than Gibson, Strawberry or Manny. Neither of them lasted very long as Dodgers. Not only do the Dodgers need a superstar but one whose raze will not die so quickly.

Since '58 -

You hit the nail on the head. I'll even argue that the Kirk Gibson signing as a WHOLE was not very good. Yes, his HR in Game 1 was worth the whole thing, but in '89 and '90 he was a mess (and so was the team). In 1988, the 3 year/$4.5 million contract was a huge deal, making Gibson one of the highest paid players in baseball. Yet besides his 1988 season, the contract was a bust.

Strawberry was obviously a huge bust as well. As was Kevin Brown, and Manny Ramirez, and... well... pretty much every Dodger free agent contract in my memory. They haven't had a homegrown star since Mike Piazza, and they haven't been a consistently great team since the 1974-1981 teams of Garvey, Cey, Lopes, etc.

Point is, adding a "star player" to these Dodgers will be nothing more than a PR move designed to put butts in the seats. It won't help the team at all. It never has.

At the beginning of their 90's dynasty, the Yankees didn't really have a "superstar" either. They were heavy underdogs to the Braves in 1996, yet won with a lot of homegrown talent (Jeter, Rivera, Williams, Pettite) and key, clutch, grinding players like Paul O'Neill & Tino Martinez, and guys at the end of their careers in Wade Boggs, David Cone, Doc Gooden, etc. Point is, they were a TEAM with the goal of winning, period. The Dodgers just never seem to grasp that concept.

I don't care about stars. It drove me nuts -- and I posted at the time -- that the instant Manny came over, suddenly it was "Manny's Dodgers." Suddenly the national media were paying attention. Suddenly they were joking about how we'd stay until the end of the game, as if there had been no one present to watch Gagne's saves (or, for my part, cheer Sammy until I couldn't speak the next day.) I had to grit my teeth and admit he helped the team, but he wasn't MY boys -- Andre and Russ, Loney and Kemp, Kershaw and Bills and Brox and the rest.

And then they went splat. That hurts more than his departure.

I'm waiting for them to get better. I won't give up on them. Not Russ. Not Broxton. Not Kemp. But I am... grim... about the possibility that the young core I was hoping for isn't ever going to happen, after all.

Those are the stars I want. The team. I don't remember Cey/Lopes/Garvey. I want a group like them, not a single superstar.

So I want to come out and cheer for them and offset the boos. But then it comes back to our money going to the McCourts, and not the team we want to cheer for, and I think... I'm spending another year watching with Vin. He made this year so much easier.

What sucks more than anything else about this site and most other Dodger sites is all anybody is commenting on is how bad everything surrounding this team SUCKS! That's a direct reflection of leadership. As bad as things have gotten since '88 there has been hope. The ownership has been in question before but getting free agent "stars" hasn't been a problem to keep "hope" alive.

I.. like many Dodger fans... HOPES Frank does the right thing and walks away... by that I mean off a cliff of course.

Steve, I think that some of the posters don't understand what you mean by a true star. To me, a true star is someone I would pay to see play. For example, when the Bears came to the Coliseum to play the Rams, they both weren't very good that year, I strictly went to see Dick Butkus play. There isn't anyone on the present Dodgers that would draw fans into road ballparks. Just being an All-Star nowadays is pure baloney as witnessed by the no names on the 2010 rosters.
Check some of the 1961 All-Star roster below.
Yogi Berra, Norm Cash, Rocky Colavito, Whitey Ford -Starting Pitcher, Nellie Fox, Elston Howard, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew, Tony Kubek, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Brooks Robinson, Hank Aaron, Ken Boyer, Orlando Cepeda, Roberto Clemente, Sandy Koufax, Eddie Mathews, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Frank Robinson, Warren Spahn --Starting Pitcher, Maury Wills

IF Ethier posts 2009 numbers in 2011, it will be star stuff to Dodger fans but run of the mill numbers elsewhere. To be a true star, a player has to put up huge numbers and fans, other than home fans, will pay to see him play. The same with Kemp.

Great comments about the stars. But Colletti got one thing right, people in LA come out to watch the team, not necessarily the stars. The ones we've had, Strawberry and Brown have been busts. Gibson had the one good year out of three, and that one year definitely was worth it. But mostly we've suffered.

However, that's one area I can't necessarily get on Frank too hard about. He's signed several stars - Schmidt, Andruw Jones and Manny, at high costs, and none of them were worth the size of the contracts he paid. Manny was the best, from the standpoint of helping the players around him perform better, but still can't say he was worth $20 million.

I think the potential is there for either Ethier and/or Kemp to become the next stars. If they perform well, they will become stars. They were fairly big draws last season, as I recall, with people spending money to do yoga with Ethier and pay something like $500 for special events hosted by Kemp, Martin, Loney and others.

As for this offseason, there are a few stars out there, Lee, Crawford and Werth. I think Frank had two big problems last offseason. First, they did well enough, that he reasonably thought the core players would do well again. That didn't happen. That's on the players, not on Frank. And second was that Ned had success with late offseason veteran additions like Hudson and Wolf, so he thought he could pull that off again with the Ortiz' pitchers, and that failed miserably. I'm still pretty happy that Frank didn't overpay for last year's free agent "stars" Lackey and Piniero. You might ask the Red Sox and Angels how those deals worked out for them - they have the same postseason record as the Dodgers.

I'm going to take a wait and see approach with Frank this year. He knows he can't neglect the starting pitching this time. He knows, whether he acknowledges it or not, that the fans have had it and want to see a major move to improve the team. But looking at his track record, it's not that he's scared to sign a star, and I have to believe that Schmidt and Jones may have impacted his willingness to pay Sabathia, who's turned out to be one of the good free agents. It's that the stars he has signed haven't performed up to their expectations.

This had better not end up being the teams leagcy. I'm not one to dwell on the "what if's and the should/could have happened" but the organizatione needs to get it's (act) together ASAP or the Angels and Artie Moreno are going to be the "TEAM" in L.A.

neoncactus: Jason Werth is a very good ball player. He is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a star. Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Roy Halladay are the stars on that team. Second, Frank, if he was paying any attention, knew there were major holes on the Dodgers that needed to be addressed, and were not. There was no attempt made to improve the pitching, either at the top or at the back or the rotation. There's no way I can give him a pass. Lackey and Pineiro weren't even on the Dodger radar. So, I wouldn't necessarily call it a brilliant move not signing them. I simply was a non-move. Sabathia was signed two seasons ago, when Frank supposedly still had the money to sign him. The Angels made a stronger attempt to sign him, as a matter of fact. Orlando Hudson was an off season signing, not an end-of-the-year pickup.
Please, Frank never had the best interests of the franchise in mind after the first year or so of his stewardship. As we sadly have been finding out, he only has had his best interests in mind.Enough Frank McCourt sympathies. He has none for you, my friend.

NAIL ON THE HEAD

Meanwhile, the Giants advance in the playoffs.


Connect

Recommended on Facebook


Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...

Video

About the Blogger

Recent Posts

Categories


Archives
 


Bleacher Report | Dodgers

Reader contributions from Times partner Bleacher Report

More Dodgers on Bleacher Report »




Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: