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Organizational Rankings: #13

Today, we keep looking at some teams that have legitimate hope, so it gets harder from here on out. And, for those of you who haven’t seen the previous parts (which are linked below), keep in mind that this is a forward looking exercise – we are evaluating clubs on their overall ability to contend for a World Series title in the future. We are not evaluating how they have performed historically. This is about the health of each organization going forward.

Rankings So Far

#30: Washington Nationals
#29: Florida Marlins
#28: Houston Astros
#27: Kansas City Royals
#26: Pittsburgh Pirates
#25: San Diego Padres
#24: Cincinnati Reds
#23: Colorado Rockies
#22: Detroit Tigers
#21: St. Louis Cardinals
#20: Toronto Blue Jays
#19: San Francisco Giants
#18: Minnesota Twins
#17: Chicago White Sox
#16: Baltimore Orioles
#15: Seattle Mariners
#14: Philadelphia Phillies

#13: Los Angeles Dodgers

Ownership: B

This one’s tough, honestly. When McCourt was buying the team from News Corp, there were all kinds of questions about his financial viability. During his first few years of owning the team, they had the messy DePodesta situation, which was handled quite poorly. McCourt has also taken to putting his family members into high level jobs within the organization, which is hardly ever a good idea. And during the Manny Ramirez negotiations, it became pretty clear that McCourt was an active participant in the decision making process of the front office. So he’s got some baggage. But, he’s consistently provided the team with significant budget room, and they have strong revenue streams thanks to their market and established fan base. They have a financial advantage over the rest of their division, and that doesn’t look likely to end any time soon.

Front Office: D+

Ned Colletti learned from Brian Sabean. Perhaps that’s all that needs to be said? Since taking over as the Dodgers GM, he’s made a few disastrous moves. The signings of Jason Schmidt, Juan Pierre, and Andruw Jones couldn’t have worked out any worse than they have. He drastically overpaid to get Casey Blake, losing top catching prospect Carlos Santana in the process. And he’s managed to put together a decent but not great roster for 2009 despite the most resources of any team in the division. Like Sabean, he ignores most of the new analytical processes in baseball and manages with his gut, which has led him astray too many times. He does have some strengths (especially as it relates to scouting), but he’s got a lot of work to do before he’s a quality GM.

Major League Talent: A-

The young core of Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Russell Martin, James Loney, Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, and Jonathan Broxton is an enviable one to build around. Toss in quality veterans such as Furcal, Hudson, Kuroda, and some guy named Manny, and the Dodgers have a team capable of winning the NL West both in 2009 and going forward. The roster isn’t without holes, of course – the back end of the pitching staff could use some work, the setup men trying to get the ball to Broxton are question marks, Furcal’s health isn’t a given, and the team has to figure out how to get Martin days off more often, but overall, it’s a good team that’s built around players who shouldn’t be expected to take big steps backwards. They’ll need to continue to plug in solid veteran role players to compliment the core, but the pieces are in place.

Minor League Talent: C+

The team lacks a true standout prospect, instead going with a cornucopia of interesting guys with question marks. Ethan Martin is a good arm, but as a HS pitching prospect with no pro experience, he couldn’t be further from the majors. James McDonald lacks the classic big fastball of a top pitching prospect, but has almost everything else. Andrew Lambo might turn into Adam Dunn, but that’s not as good a player as most people think. Ivan DeJesus is out for the year, and while Scott Elbert is healthy right now, whether he will be tomorrow or not isn’t certain.

Overall: B-

Given their talent base and their market, there’s no reason the Dodgers shouldn’t dominate the NL West. That they don’t is mostly poor management, and while the team has been able to overcome a series of bad moves, they won’t be able to forever. Colletti is either going to have to improve as a GM or get replaced. Thankfully, the young talent on the roster should keep the team afloat while they figure out how to get the front office in order, and with a better management team in place, the potential for a top tier franchise is in place. Until they tap into that potential, though, they rate as just a bit above average.