Sunday, July 26, 2009

Trade rumors abound

I just don't understand the Dodgers sometimes. I understand the need for a workhorse starting pitcher (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee), but why in the world are the likes of Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley being mentioned in these rumors?

The Blue Jays and Indians have every right to ask for the players in any deal, but the Dodgers need to do a better job of coming out and saying, "These guys are not available." While Halladay and Lee are great starters, subtracting Billingsley or Kershaw and adding Halladay or Lee would be an upgrade, but not enough of an upgrade to mortgae the future. And I'm not sure where the interest in Victor Martinez came from, but James Loney isn't exactly chopped liver at first. He doesn't hit for a whole lot of power, but his glove is one of the best in the game. The same cannot be said about Martinez, who has spent a great majority of his career behind the plate.

The Dodger farm system isn't what it used to be, but there are some quality prospects with pretty high ceilings:

  • Ethan Martin (RHP, Low-A): First-round pick in 2008, he is the Dodgers' best pitching prospect. He has a ton of upside with his low-90s fastball and power curveball. Sounds like another former Dodger draftee (Billingsley). He is still raw and learning to pitch, but Billingsley drew similar reviews on his way up.
  • Dee Gordon (SS, Low-A): Formerly known as Devaris Strange-Gordon, he is enjoying a breakout campaign in Low-A, hitting .299/.361/.369 with 55 stolen bases. If he reaches his peak, he could be comprable to Jose Reyes.
  • Chris Withrow (RHP, High-A): First-round pick in 2007, Withrow got off to an inauspicious start with the Dodgers, suffering a freak injury which helped to cost him most of his debut season. He has 102 strikeouts in 83.1 innings and has only progessed as the season has.
  • Andrew Lambo (LF/1B, Double-A): Rated as the Dodgers' best prospect by Baseball America, Lambo got off to a hot start this year before cooling off. However, he has recently picked it up and is playing well in Double-A as a 20-year-old. He is still the best hitting prospect in the system and will likely get better with experience.
  • Josh Lindblom (RHP, Triple-A): Lindblom had an impressive showing in Spring Training, almost winning a spot in the Dodger bullpen. He has put up decent numbers this season after being drafted just over a year ago between Double-A and Triple-A. He is a wildcard in the Dodger system, as he could be a sinker-balling innings eater as a starter or a hard-throwing, late-inning reliever.
The media continues to insist that guys like Kersahw, Billingsley and Kemp must/should be included in a deal for a top-flight starter. It also says the Dodger system isn't that strong and that all the top talent is in the lower-levels of the minors. As I recall, they said the same thing when guys like Edwin Jackson, Billingsley, Kemp, Loney, Jonathan Broxton and Russell Martin were making their respective ways up the ladder. Jackson, Billingsley and Broxton were all-stars this year, Martin was an all-star the past two seasons and Kemp was an all-star snub this year.

I'm not saying the prospects profiled above will reach the level of these established Major Leaguers, but I think Logan White, the mastermind behind the Dodgers' current glut of young talent, knows talent when he sees it. If I'm the general manager of a team, I would be extremely interested in any high school pitchers the Dodgers have taken in the past few years (Martin, Withrow, Scott Elbert, etc.).

After Friday, the trading frenzy will have come and gone. Let us, as Dodger fans, just hope they can acquire a front-line starter without giving up some of the core players. It is possible. I think the Dodgers will end up with either Halladay or Lee, with my money on Lee.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Dodgers don't grab a starter. I expect them to grab a reliever, regardless of what happens with the starting pitching situation. They have been linked to George Sherrill and he is likely the primary target for help in the pen.

Go Blue!

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