Sports Beat - February 21, 2014

Major League Soccer's takeover of Chivas USA was the logical next step for the league's most troubled franchise. Last July, I outlined many of the problems with Jorge Vergara's concept for a Los Angeles-based version of his Chivas Guadalajara club. It's difficult to attract fans when you vigorously insist on appealing to only one segment of one ethnicity.

It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Chivas USA. MLS Commissioner Don Garber says that he'd like the team to stay in Los Angeles with new ownership and a new name. Reportedly, the trademarks Los Angeles F.C. and Los Angeles SC have been registered.

Given the market clout of the LA Galaxy, I'm not quite sure how a second MLS team can gain a foothold in the Southland. Perhaps it could succeed if it represented a slightly different geographic area like Orange County or the San Gabriel Valley. The new New York City MLS team will reportedly play near Yankee Stadium while the New York Red Bulls are all the way out in New Jersey. But otherwise, there are numerous cities that would like an MLS team and would be happy to take Chivas USA for their own.

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It's pretty surprising that Pau Gasol survived the trade deadline. Even trading him for sheer luxury tax relief would have been a net gain. The Lakers probably missed their best chance to trade Gasol when the Cleveland Cavaliers had a short window to deal Andrew Bynum. I think the Lakers overvalued Gasol and what his injury-wrecked body could bring them in return.

GM Mitch Kupchak says a salary dump would be "unacceptable" for the Lakers. Apparently a salary dump wasn't unacceptable though when the Lakers laid off scouts and other front office personnel during the NBA Lockout.

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Matt Kemp may insist that he's an every day player, but he has to prove that he can get on the field first. Reportedly, he won't be ready in time for Opening Day, and it would be surprise if he's immediately effective. If I'm the Dodgers, then I'd slowly bring Kemp along so that he'll be hitting on all cylinders in the second half of the season.

In the meantime, it appears that Andre Ethier will be the Opening Day centerfielder. Last October, I wrote that the Dodgers should try to convince Carl Crawford to play centerfield. While it's not his favorite position, he's probably the Dodger best-suited to play in center, even with Kemp in the mix. Crawford has played gold glove caliber defense in left field for years, but he has the speed and athleticism to handle center. Kemp still has trouble tracking flies in center, and it may be better to preserve his body in left field. Puig is a natural right fielder and needs to prove he can make better decisions in the field. Ethier played well in center last season, but the Dodgers need more speed at the position.

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I'm very surprised that the Angels didn't add at least one veteran arm to their starting pitching staff. Entering 2014 with Garrett Richards, Hector Santiago, and Tyler Skaggs at the back end of their rotation is a little dicey for a team with playoff aspirations. Matt Garza would have been a great fit in Anaheim, but even just taking a flier on someone like Paul Maholm wouldn't have been a bad move.

I remain perplexed by the decisions that Jerry DiPoto is making as GM of the Angels. After throwing enormous long-term deals at offensive players they didn't need like Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols, they've refused to throw more modest salaries at starting pitchers they actually do need.


More by Phil Wallace:
Sports Beat - February 21, 2014
LA Sports Beat - January 31, 2014
Blame Jerry Buss for the Lakers' woes; maybe Phil can save them
Lakers Basketball: Let them tank!
Will Steve Sarkisian win at USC?
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