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Monday Morning Rockpile:

So I took an impromptu Thanksgiving weekend holiday -sorry for no warning. I really was going to write something on Saturday, but I owed my family some quality time. Thanks to Russ for posting and to Silverblood and oo nrb for some quality diaries this weekend.

I've been affected by Joe Kennedy's passing and my deepest sympathies go to his family and all that knew him personally. His 2004 season with the Rockies won me over as a fan, and I've been hoping for his success ever since. This saddens me greatly.

Francisco Cordero's signing with the Reds means that the late inning reliever market is pretty close to peaking this offseason. Unfortunately, I think a healthy influx of Japanese talent this season had me overestimating the potential trade haul the Rockies can get for Brian Fuentes right now. I think I'm back in the wait until the July trade deadline camp to move him now. Teams that should be interested in Fuentes, like the Brewers Rays and Royals (who want to move Soria to the rotation) are either turning to the Japanese imports like Fukumori Kazuo or closers of seasons past for their solutions. The Rays and Royals in particular seem keen on Fukumori, while Troy Percival and the already in house Derrick Turnbow are getting all the press in Milwaukee as the Brewers' next options.

I'm thinking that after a couple of these teams come home from the honeymoon and realize that their mother was right all along, that this man they got married to at closer wasn't what they thought he'd be, that the teams will start to look for a little side action with Fuentes. That's when we show them how messy infidelity really can be.

Anyway, the Dodgers offseason to date hasn't impressed Ken Rosenthal who likes the Rockies and Diamondbacks for getting better with their youth, and the Padres getting better with the power of their front office's craftiness -and dealings with Beelzebub- but doesn't see the same with the Dodgers. I think this might be a misguided impression as I think the Dodgers aren't a whole lot worse off than anybody else. Given their resources they probably should be better off than everybody, but I don't see them in any particular trouble in the coming years.

Let's just break down where the teams' holes are:

Likely holes in 2008:

SP #2 or 3: Figuring Randy Johnson, Doug Davis and Micah Owings fit at the bottom after Webb, finding the upper middle to this rotation is difficult. However, similar to Jason Jennings' rookie year, Owings' bat might give him enough value on both sides of the ball to make him pseudo #2 worthy. I have a bit of trouble believing in their depth beyond #5 as well. Petit doesn't do it for me, and Scherzer seems to rely to heavily on his fastball. The ages and injury history of Johnson and Davis  make this significant.

Possible holes in 2008:
RF: Justin Upton is only going to get better -scary better eventually- but he wasn't quite ready for the show in 2007. His 2008 might not quite be starting MLB corner outfielder worthy either.

SS: The bar to reach for being an above bench value shortstop at the plate is fairly low, but Stephen Drew didn't reach it in 2007. Everybody expects a bounce back, but what if it doesn't happen? This is a similar situation to us with Chris Iannetta.

LF: Eric Byrnes' production took a nosedive after signing his contract extension.

Holes on the horizon:

2B: Callaspo or Ojeda? I'm not buying it.
SP: Webb, Owings. Anderson and Parker still seem too far away and I see Scherzer moving to relief.

Likely holes in 2008:

SP #1: Ubaldo Jimenez or Franklin Morales could fit into this role, but I think it's easier to predict that the Rockies will be missing out on an ace again. I think we've still got a lot more rotation depth than anybody else in the division, though.

2B: Replacing Matsui won't be easy.

Possible holes in 2008:

C: Something that struck me while looking at projections for next season is that Edwin Bellorin is predicted to be about as valuable as Yorvit Torrealba. Iannetta is projected to be more valuable than both. We'll see.

Holes on the horizon:

RF and/or LF: Left field because of the uncertainty/unlikelihood of extending Holliday, right field because Brad Hawpe -like Atkins and Helton- figures to be heading downhill in production over the next couple of seasons and unlike Atkins or Helton, we don't have somebody in the system capable of replacing either of them right now. The way I see it, I think our most productive alignment for 2009 and 2010 has an Atkins, rejuvenated Nix, Tulo, Stewart infield, with Iannetta catching, and a Nelson, Fowler, Holliday outfield. There are two big leap of faith assumptions there with Nix being for real and a Holliday extension that I'm really not sure if I'm ready to make. If neither happens we're left with Nelson at second and have to hope that Hawpe defies age and history well. Holliday doesn't figure to have the same sort of collapse for whatever reason.

2B: All those scenarios above are relying on somebody without an MLB at bat to date being fully capable of proving themselves at the highest level. That's the kind of bet that lost my family their riverboat casino. Okay, just kidding. My family never had enough to own a riverboat casino. We probably just lost a mule or something.

1B and the team's ability to spend: Helton will continue to be a burden on our payroll even after he's no longer productive at first base, I just hope the team's smart enough to replace him anyway.

Los Angeles:
Likely holes for 2008:

RF: Andre Ethier and Delwyn Young are both backup outfielders for contending teams. One of them seems likely to get the starting nod for Los Angeles.

CF: Juan Pierre. He might move to left where his arm in theory will be less damaging. I think his arm is disaster anyway.

Possible holes in 2008:

3B: Andy LaRoche has always seemed like the answer, but after a while you wonder why the team seems so insistent on targeting third basemen. I'm  going to go against the grain here and say that sub-par corner infield production is likely from LaRoche. Feel free to disagree.

SS: Furcal took a tumble at the plate in 2007, most models have a rebound in 2008. While I agree with this and expect a stronger year, I think there's a  decent chance that he doesn't return to form.

Bench: The Dodgers collapsed late last season, and I think the reason was on the pine, but not necessarily the spot warmed by Grady Little's behind. There are still some depth issues that need to be addressed.

Holes on the horizon:

LF or RF: There's a gap here before a couple of guys the Dodgers had in the Pioneer and Gulf Coast Leagues in 2007 are mature enough to handle the rigors of MLB ball, with Ethier and/or Young having to fill it. It's not a terrible position to be in, but they could be better.

2B?: Blake DeWitt seems the heir apparent to Jeff Kent, or the Dodgers could keep Furcal and slide Hu over if that doesn't work. It's not a real big concern.

San Diego:
Likely holes for 2008:
LF: This position is bound to be an underwhelming player or Milton Bradley.

Possible holes for 2008:
CF: Mike Cameron might or might not be back but he's going to miss games for amphetamine use.

2B: Matt Antonelli might or might not be ready.

RF: Brian Giles is definitely on a downslope, it's just a question of how long he can hold off the big drop.

Holes on the horizon:

RF, CF and LF: The Padres' outfield situation in 2009 and 2010 is looking to be worse than the Giants, particularly if Giles' collapse continues to the point his option isn't picked up. The good news is that either Chase Headley or Kevin Kouzmanoff could move off third to fill one of the slots. In the unlikely event of a Brian Giles renaissance, they'll be in much better shape than I'm making it out to be.

C: The shelf life for catchers is limited, and Josh Bard likely has seen his best two seasons these last couple of years. I definitely don't see him holding up compared to the younger backstops on the other three contending NL West teams over the next three.

SP #3-5: That said, I'm confident the Padres front office will find people to fill the slots behind Young and Peavy, that seems to be part of their Faustian bargain.