Showing posts with label Ted Lilly. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ted Lilly. Show all posts

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Dodgers don't really need another starting pitcher with in-house options

All too predictably, one of the other teams overpaid for Masahiro Tanaka, and he took the money. The Dodgers did the right thing here, saying we’ll pay "X" number of dollars, but no more (where x is probably around six years, $120 million + $20 million release fee).

Given his fastball velocity (good, but not elite) and past workload, the Dodgers harbored substantial questions about how well Tanaka will do in the majors and for how long he will be able to pitch well. The Yankees are pretty likely to suffer the "Winner's Curse" in this auction. Read General Manager Ned Colletti say something smart.
"We had a value to the player and that's where we went. The value of a player involves a lot of factors -- needs, strengths and weaknesses. We put a certain value on the player and when it went beyond that, we knew we weren't going to get the player. We understand that's how the process works."
The Dodgers only had so much use for ho they viewed Tanaka. That translated to a large, but finite number. It’s great to hear rational thought coming from the front office. What does the newly rational Colletti think about adding another starter now?
"I think we're fine either way."
I find myself agreeing, which is a little bit scary given Ned’s track record.

After the first three spots in the rotation, the Dodgers are counting on some combination of Dan Haren, Josh Beckett and minor leaguers until June -- at which point they can count on Haren, Beckett, minor leaguers and Chad Billingsley. Haren finished strong last year, and the Dodgers think it's real. For today, let’s just say he’ll be at least OK and focus on the No. 5 starter.  If the Dodgers keep with the standard routine, they need about 30 starts if those top four stay healthy.

Given their respective injuries, I see about a 35 percent chance of Beckett contributing and an 85 percent chance for Billingsley (starting sometime between May and September). The second half of the season, though, is also when trades tend to happen and prospects tend to be ready. So, the Dodgers will have plenty of options in the second half: I’m looking at you Zach Lee and Ross Stripling (pictured). I don’t get the fuss about Chris Reed, as I doubt he’ll work out in the short-term.

If the Dodgers roll with Stephen Fife in the no-Beckett scenario, and he puts up the 4.50 ERA we expect from him, the Dodgers still probably win seven or eight of those first 15 games when the No. 5 starter is used. If they sign a Bronson Arroyo-type, we might get closer to a 4.10 ERA there, and probably still win eight of those games.

Admittedly, Arroyo will stay in longer and save the bullpen about 20-30 innings. Saving the bullpen actually decreases the chance of winning these games since the bullpen is generally better than him, but presumably increases the chance of winning games later in the year.  Being better than Fife, but not letting the bullpen take over in the sixth inning, it about balances out so the two options both have relatively the same expectation.

The problem with signing Arroyo or somebody like him is you cannot send him to the bullpen or the minors, or start him every other time if you decide you'd rather go a different route. With the four outfielder situation, you can rotate them all through and keep them relatively happy; veteran starting pitchers are not like that.

That's why the Dodgers were in pursuit of Tanaka. If the guy you get is a clear upgrade, then it's problem solved. Haren is the No. 5, while Beckett and Billingsley on "rehab assignment" until needed and ready. And critically, the postseason rotation becomes stronger. But if you sign a "meh" starter, all you've done is create drama. Poor Ted Lilly's panties are still in a bunch over the disrespect the Dodgers dealt him last year when he was in the situation of veteran starter on the roster, but one who was not really needed to start.

The Dodgers are right now so much better, talent-wise, than anybody else in the NL West. They should run away with the division unless things break really poorly for them. They can stand to throw out the "B" team 15 times this season, if everyone is healthy.

If they were really smart about it, they should be planning workloads, with the expectation of playing through October, for their top guys. Pull Clayton Kershaw early in a blowout, even if he's cruising; let lesser relievers get the 1-inning, 3-run saves, etc.

Many people in sports refuse to coast because they will regret it too much if it turns out they missed the playoffs by a small margin, or because they don't feel like they can "turn it on" and off. The way the Cardinals handled their young pitching last year was a nice example.

They didn't work any one guy as hard as they could because they knew the next best option was still OK and because they knew they had a good chance of wanting Michael Wacha, et al, to be at their strongest in September and October.

If the Dodgers want sign another starter, that's their prerogative -- but they don't exactly "need" one.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Thursday, November 21, 2013

2013 Los Angeles Dodgers season review: Starting pitchers

A strong starting rotation has long since been the calling card of the Dodgers, and 2013 was no different. A Cy Young award winner, a big-money free agent who paid off and a rookie led this group.

Despite having question marks at the end of the rotation, the Dodgers were still great in this department.

Dodger starting pitchers by the numbers

62-46 W-L
3.13 ERA
1.19 WHIP
8.3 H/9
0.8 HR/9
2.5 BB/9
7.7 K/9
3.07 K/BB
7 CG

Individual performers (minimum 40 IP)

16-9, 1.83 ERA, 236 IP, 0.91 WHIP, 6.3 H/9, 0.4 HR/9, 2.0 BB/9, 8.8 K/9, 4.46 K/BB, 194 ERA+
- What can I say about Kershaw that hasn't already been said about the greatest things in life? He's the best pitcher in the galaxy and has another Cy Young award to show for it. Now, about that contract extension...
Grade: A

15-4, 2.63 ERA, 177 2/3 IP, 1.11 WHIP, 7.7 H/9, 0.7 HR/9, 2.3 BB/9, 7.5 K/9, 3.22 K/BB, 135 ERA+
- Despite suffering a broken collar bone, Greinke was better than advertised in his first season with the Dodgers. He's a "No. 1a," not a "No. 2." The next step: making 30-plus starts and logging 200-plus innings.
Grade: A-

14-8, 3.00 ERA, 192 IP, 1.20 WHIP, 8.5 H/9, 0.7 HR/9, 2.3 BB/9, 7.2 K/9, 3.14 K/BB, 119 ERA+
- Ryu's debut season went better than anyone could have expected. Ryu established himself as a legitimate No. 3 starter after the Dodgers inked him out of Korea last year. He's going into his age-27 season and should get better.
Grade: B+

Ricky Nolasco (with Dodgers)
8-3, 3.52 ERA, 87 IP, 1.19 WHIP, 8.6 H/9, 0.6 HR/9, 2.2 BB/9, 7.8 K/9, 3.57 K/BB, 101 ERA+
- Nolasco got off to a great start with the Dodgers before impolding the last three starts. He, at one time, looked like he might challenge Ryu for the team's No. 3 spot in the playoffs. He only appeared in the NLCS, and didn't fare too well. Still, he was well worth the price the Dodgers paid in young players.
Grade: B

4-7, 4.26 ERA, 105 2/3 IP, 1.41 WHIP, 10.6 H/9, 0.9 HR/9, 2.0 BB/9, 6.9 K/9, 3.38 K/BB, 84 ERA+
- Capuano was all-but-traded in the winter only to remain with the Dodgers for the duration of the 2013 season. He had his ups and downs, but was a somewhat valuable piece for the Dodgers in 2013.
Grade: C-

4-4, 3.86 ERA, 58 1/3 IP, 1.53 WHIP, 10.6 H/9, 1.1 HR/9, 3.1 BB/9, 6.9 K/9, 2.25 K/BB, 93 ERA+
- Fife had asserted himself well, despite suffering the same shoulder injury twice this season. He had a sub-3.00 ERA for a majority of his season before having a rough go at it late. Fife is definitely a nice No. 6 or No. 7 starter for the Dodgers at this point.
Grade: B

0-5, 5.19 ERA, 43 1/3 IP, 1.50 WHIP, 10.4 H/9, 1.7 HR/9, 3.1 BB/9, 8.5 K/9, 2.73 K/BB, 69 ERA+
- Beckett had one good start in Arizona (which he lost). Other than that, he was atrocious and missed most of the season with an injury. He's on the books for 2014, so barring an unforeseen trade or release, he'll be around. Reports say he'll be ready for the start of the season. I'm skeptical about that.
Grade: D-

1-0, 3.00 ERA, 12 IP, 1.42 WHIP, 9.0 H/9, 0.8 HR/9, 3.8 BB/9, 4.5 K/9, 1.20 K/BB, 123 ERA+
- I'm sure you're asking, "Wait, I thought the minimum number of innings pitched is 40?" It is, but Billingsley gets a write-up because of his and the Dodgers' stubborness. Billingsley was diagnosed with a partially torn UCL in late-August 2012 and instead of undergoing Tommy John surgery, he and the Dodgers decided to try to rehab through it. Well, that didn't work and cost Billingsley all but two games of the 2013 season and likely at least half of the 2014 season. I'm one of Billingsley's biggest fans, but this was clearly the wrong call (and many said the same whent he decision was made).
Grade: F 

The rest
Ted Lilly, Grade: F
Matt Magill, Grade: D-
Edinson Volquez, Grade: C

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Dodgers place Chad Billingsley on DL, recall Stephen Fife, sadness ensues

That didn't take long at all. We were all skeptical about how long Chad Billingsley's balky elbow would hold up. The answer: two starts.

The Dodgers placed the 28-year-old on the disabled list on Sunday. Stephen Fife was recalled from Triple-A to take his spot.

While I've come around on Fife, this is still a bad situation for the Dodgers, which will seemingly cap off a bad week.

Some are calling for Zach Lee to be recalled. While I"m sure it's tempting, especially with his fast start in Double-A, the Dodgers have other options.

Ted Lilly is set to rejoin the team next week. After the Dodgers and Lilly played a game of chicken, the Dodgers won. In hindsight, that was a good win for the club. Instead of finding a trade partner for Lilly or having to release him, he'll slide into Chris Capuano's spot until the lefty is ready. Then, the Dodgers will have to make yet another decision about the rotation.

For now, Fife is playing the role of Billingsley. He was always going to be first in line from the minors to replace a fallen starter, especially after logging 26 2/3 decent innings with the club last season. If things don't go well with Fife and Capuano isn't fully healed, Matt Magill would be next. He's already on the 40-man roster, so the Dodgers wouldn't have to make a subsequent move to get him on the active roster.

I'm the biggest Magill fan not named Chad Moriyama in the Dodger blog community, but he needs a little more seasoning before he gets the call. He's walked 10 batters in 15 innings. That isn't the kind of walk rate that's conducive to success anywhere, let alone the majors.

It would take a lot of bad luck for Lee to start a game for the Dodgers this season. That, or he'd be so lights-out in Double-A that his prospect status rises again and the Dodgers can't keep him down.

If Zack Greinke weren't out, Billingsley's elbow soreness -- while expected at some point -- wouldn't be as big a deal. Greinke will be fine when he gets back, but there's no telling what the Dodgers are going to get out of Lilly, Capuano and Fife. And that's a scary thought.

So much for that pitching depth, eh? It's really being put to the test right now.

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Carlos Quentin suspended 8 games for breaking Zack Greinke's collarbone

That's fair, right? The Padres' second-best hitter (which isn't saying much) idiotically charges the mound and, because of that, the Dodgers lose their No. 2 starter in Zack Greinke for at least eight weeks.

The funny thing is, Quentin will appeal and likely get the suspension reduced to five games. Oh the joy of the Player's Union.

Greinke is having surgery on Saturday, which makes his recovery time longer than it would normally be.
So, there's that.

The Dodgers are going to have to make due without their No. 2 starter (an ace on two-thirds of MLB teams) for at least eight weeks. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he didn't pitch until after the All-Star break.

The team recalled Shawn Tolleson to replace Greinke on the roster, but that should be short-lived. Ted Lilly will likely be the beneficiary of Greinke's injury.

Chris Capuano is the better pitcher, but he's not stretched out to start after beginning the season in the bullpen. Plus, his skill set is much better coming out of the 'pen than Lilly.

Lilly has been unimpressive in his first two minor-league rehab starts: 12 IP, 17 H, 11 R, 10 ER, 4 HR, 1 BB, 10 K. At least he hasn't walked a bunch of minor-leaguers.

This doesn't bode well for the Dodgers. The clear loss is downgrading from Greinke to Lilly. If Chad Billingsley can give close to Greinke-level production while Zack is out, that would be great. He wasn't bad in his first start of the season. It's just a matter of his elbow holding up.

Jerry Hairston was also suspended for a game, which is no big deal. I'm surprised Matt Kemp didn't get any suspension at all.

Hanley Ramirez's return should help to mitigate the Greinke loss, but he won't be back for another month-plus. Until then, Kemp needs to break out of his slump and hope the rest of the rotation steps it up in Greinke's absence.

Photo credit: wisley, Flickr 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Zack Greinke solid in final spring start, Rodriguez and Sellers make team

This hasn't been the greatest month for Zack Greinke leading up to the start of the 2013 season, but Saturday night was the most encouraging sight from him since he signed his mega contract in the winter.

Greinke made his final spring training start on Saturday against Angels and fared pretty well. It was just his second start in the last 29 days, so it's understandable if he's still a little rusty.
  • Greinke's line: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K, 81 pitches, 45 strikes
The final line is definitely acceptable for a spring training outing, even if the strike percentage could have been better (55.5 percent), but that's being nitpicky at this point.

It was just 18 days ago we were concerned about Greinke's elbow. And while he had a poor first outing on Monday, his outing in Anaheim was just fine.

Greinke hit as high as 95 MPH on the radar gun (according to MLB Gameday) with his fastball and threw his other three pitches consistently.

Greinke makes his regular season Dodger debut on Friday against the Pirates. If anyone would like to donate about $200, I can be in attendance for that game as I'm heading to Southern California this weekend for a wedding (not mine). If not, I guess I'll just have to listen to it on the radio.

As long as he's healthy, Greinke is going to be great this season. He's the perfect complement to Clayton Kershaw.

Roster cuts made, 25-man almost finalized

In somewhat of a surprise, Alex Castellanos and Kevin Gregg were among 11 players reassigned to minor-league camp after Saturday night's game.

Alfredo AmezagaStephen Fife, Elian Herrera, Peter MoylanJosh Wall and Matt Wallach were the others sent down immediately after the game. The rest of the names will be announced by tomorrow's 12 p.m. deadline.

It was also announced the Dodgers will have four players begin the season on the disabled list: Chad Billingsley (short-term stay), Scott Elbert, Ted Lilly and Hanley Ramirez.

This means Paco Rodriguez and Justin Sellers have made the opening day roster. Both are surprising, but Rodriguez is refreshing while Sellers is head-scratching.

The Dodgers, barring a trade, will have three lefties in the bullpen (J.P. Howell and Chris Capuano) to start the season. Rodriguez has shown the ability to get right-handers out just was well as left-handers. His fastball/slider/cutter combination is nasty.

Sellers, who I'm sure was on the chopping block after his Jan. 19 arrest in West Sacramento, made the team due to Ramirez's injury. While Sellers is a good defender, he isn't much with the bat -- like Luis Cruz, but worse.

There's chatter Sellers could play more shortstop than Cruz until Ramirez comes back, thus effectively benching Juan Uribe. If Sellers making this team means less Uribe, then I should be much happier.

The roster is at 28 players. There could be a trade tomorrow (Aaron Harang or Capuano) or some outright releases (Matt Guerrier). It remains to be seen.

Garcia takes the loss

Dodger reliever prospect Yimi Garcia pitched the bottom of the ninth inning tonight and, except for the walk-off home run he allowed to Angels' catcher Hank Conger, looked pretty good.

I have admittedly never seen him pitch, so it was a nice little treat.

Garcia featured a fastball that clocked in at 89-92 MPH, a changeup in the mid-80s and a slider at 79-81 MPH. He struck out the first two batters he faced (both swinging) -- Brendan Harris on a nice, sharp slider and an 89 MPH fastball to Kole Calhoun.

After a ball to Hank Conger, Garcia left an 89 MPH fastball out and over the plate and Conger deposited it into the right-center field seats, ending the game.

Garcia made it to High-A Rancho Cucamonga last year, and I suspect he'll begin the 2013 season there. If so, I should be able to see him in person.

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dodgers' SPs Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly likely to start season on DL

Maybe it's a good thing the Dodgers didn't rush to trade Chris Capuano, as Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly are both expected to start the 2013 season on the disabled list.

Billingsley, who is dealing with a potential elbow issue, also is dealing with an injured fingernail on his pitching hand. He was slated to start the second game of the season after Zack Greinke had his Dodger debut pushed back because of a spring training elbow injury.

Instead, Billingsley will be out for a little bit, meaning Capuano will likely be in the Dodgers' rotation -- if Billingsley is out long enough, as the Dodgers won't need a starter for the two weeks of the season.

The Dodgers' rotation sets up like this for the first two weeks (barring anything unforeseen):
  • April 1: Clayton Kershaw
  • April 2: Hyun-Jin Ryu
  • April 3: Josh Beckett
  • April 5: Zack Greinke
  • April 6: Kershaw
  • April 7: Ryu
  • April 9: Beckett
  • April 10: Greinke
  • April 11: Kershaw
  • April 12: Ryu
  • April 13: Beckett
  • April 14: Greinke
Lilly, who was just terrible this spring (9 IP, 17 H, 18 R, 14 ER, 8 BB, 6 K), wasn't going to be much of a factor anyway, but he didn't do anything to help his perceived value on the trade market. He's in the last year of his deal, but I'd be surprised if he made more than a handful of starts for the Dodgers, especially with him seemingly not fully recovered from his shoulder surgery.

I've yet to mention Aaron Harang because I doubt he's still a Dodger by Monday. He'll either be traded to one of the teams that have scouted his starts (Mets, Orioles, Brewers, Mariners) or he'll be designated for assignment. Harang, who's made six relief appearances in his 11-year career, would not fare well out of the bullpen. He needs to be a starter on a team that needs a guy capable of throwing 160 or more innings. Harang is that guy.

When the Dodgers need a starter on April 15, let's hope Billingsley is ready to take the ball. If not, I suppose that are worse options than Capuano -- if he's still a Dodger.

Photo credit: SD Dirk, Flickr

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

First impression of Dodgers' Hyun-Jin Ryu: Not an ace, but not bad, either

Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched at Camelback Ranch on Sunday -- the last day of my spring training trip. I was lucky enough to see him on that day.

While it started off rough, he ended up throwing a gem (by spring training standards).

Ryu gave up a run on three hits in the first inning, with little help from his defense. Luckily for Ryu, Adrian Gonzalez hit a 3-run home run in the first inning, and the Dodgers were off.

Ryu ended up throwing 5 2/3 innings, allowed three hits, one run, two walks and struck out six Brewers. He retired the last 11 hitters he faced on St. Patrick's Day (hence the ridiculous green jerseys).

Pitches
- Scouting reports have varied on Ryu and what I saw in spring training is just that -- spring training. But he showed at least one plus offering, an average offering, an offering that could be average soon and a below-average offering.

Four-seam fastball
- The scouting reports about Ryu have not been consistent. Some said he throws in the 87-92 MPH range, others said 92-94 MPH. On this day, Ryu was in the 88-90 MPH range with his fastball. He had just a little arm-side run (as all lefties do) and was able to locate it well enough. Hopefully for him and the Dodgers, he can increase his velocity going forward. Average

Changeup
- This is absolutely his best pitch. The pitch dives away from right-handers, prompting a lot of swings and misses. He can change speeds on it. He threw it in the 78-81 MPH range, which is about right for his fastball velocity. The changeup will be the pitch he will be known for in his career -- and that necessarily isn't a bad thing. Plus

Curveball
- Ryu worked with Sandy Koufax early in camp on the pitch and it might be developing into his third-best offering. He can throw it at different speeds -- anywhere from 71-78 MPH. It still needs work, but it could be a nice weapon against left-handed hitters if he can be consistent with it. Average soon

Slider
- His slider, like most lefties, can be effective against both types of hitters. As of now, it's not a pitch he can go to with the utmost confidence. It's a pitch that sits in the upper-70s and can touch the low-80s. But the fact he throws four pitches at this point in his career is encouraging. The slider doesn't have the greatest tilt and depth to it, but he shouldn't ditch it just yet. Below-average

His delivery isn't picturesque, but it works for him and shouldn't lead to many injury issues down the road. His frame is such that he should be able to handle a heavy (I swear, no pun intended) workload, but we'll see how he handles his first season in the majors.

When Ryu hit the market, everyone knew he wasn't an ace. People knew he wasn't a No. 2 starter. But with work and his potentially good four-pitch mix, he could be a No. 3 starter at his peak. If not, he'll likely be an inning-eating (again, no pun intended) back-of-the-rotation starter -- a pitcher who has value in baseball.

With Chad Billingsley not certain to make it through the season, Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang, and Ted Lilly's spring struggles and Zack Greinke's elbow (though, he should be OK), Ryu might be the most durable Dodger pitcher this side of Clayton Kershaw.

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Zack Greinke's elbow is OK (for now), Dodgers and fans breathe sigh of relief

When Bill Shaikin tweeted about Zack Greinke's elbow yesterday, Dodger fans everywhere held their collective breath. Could the team's biggest free agent signing ever really be hurt already?

Luckily, Greinke's MRI came back relatively clean, save some inflammation. But in a somewhat surprising twist, Greinke needed a platelet-rich plasma injection -- the same injection Chad Billingsley received for his partially torn ulnar collateral ligament.

I'm not saying Greinke has a serious problem with his UCL, but the PRP injection is something worth noting.

He should return to his throwing program in the next couple days and manager Don Mattingly expects Greinke to be ready for his April 2 start.

The Dodgers stated they were being overly cautious with Greinke's elbow, and rightfully so. There's nothing wrong with that for any player, but especially a player who signed a 6-year, $147 million contract this winter.

And something refreshing pointed out by Mike Petriello:
"One positive from this Greinke elbow thing is that he told the team. We've seen far too many guys try to 'gut it out' and make things worse."
If any player is going to be upfront about his health status, it's Greinke.

Here's hoping this isn't a problem going forward, but it also just shows how volatile Major League pitchers are these days.

Maybe it's a good thing the Dodgers haven't yet traded one of their 47 starting pitchers, but more specifically, Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang and Ted Lilly. I'm certain at least one will go before April 1, but it's anyone's guess at this point who that pitcher might be.

Photo credit: EephusBlue, Twitter

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Scott Elbert undergoes second elbow surgery, plus other Dodgers' news

Dodgers' reliever Scott Elbert on Wednesday underwent his second elbow surgery in four months.

He isn't expected to begin throwing until early March, making his availability for Opening Day all but out of the question. And being his second surgery in such a short period of time, I'm skeptical he'll pitch much in 2013.

It's too bad because his live arm from the left side is something the Dodgers could always use. But perhaps this is an opportunity for Paco Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, the Dodgers' second-round pick in 2012, was the first player from his draft class to reach the majors and could benefit from the Elbert injury.

However, he'll have his work cut out for him as the Dodgers have an overcrowded bullpen at this point:

Locks
Ronald Belisario
Matt Guerrier
J.P. Howell
Kenley Jansen
Brandon League
- Barring injury, all these guys will make the Opening Day bullpen.

Maybes
Javy Guerra
Rodriguez
Shawn Tolleson
- All three have options, meaning they can (and probably will) begin the season in the minors.

Non-roster invitees
Juan Abreu
Kelvin De La Cruz
Peter Moylan
Matt Palmer
- Moylan has the best chance of this quartet, but that chance isn't high.

Longshots
Steve Ames
Josh Wall
- A lot would have to go right (wrong?) for either to make the bullpen.

Starters
Chris Capuano
Aaron Harang
Ted Lilly
- Capuano and Harang could (and should) still be dealt before the start of the season, while I'm skeptical of Lilly's shoulder.

Rodriguez is facing stiff competition. The addition of Howell was a blow to Rodriguez's chances. If Lilly is healthy enough to pitch, then he's really out of luck. Perhaps he won't begin the season in the majors, but he will get there sometime in 2013. The experience for him would be invaluable and it's a cost-effective move for the Dodgers.

Minor-league free agents

Speaking of Moylan, he's one of two guys the Dodgers have inked to minor-league deals in the last week-plus. The other is Jesus Flores, a catcher.

When I first saw the Dodgers signed Flores, I was somewhat excited. I remembered him from Washington and thought he could be a nice little pickup.

Then I looked at his 2011 and 2012 numbers:
  • .212/.249/.325 in 113 games
Yikes.

I'm not the biggest fan of Tim Federowicz, but I'm sure the 25-year-old could post better numbers and be better with the glove than Flores. Unless Flores has a big Spring Training, he'll either be minor-league depth or a free agent come early April.

Moylan, who's thrown just 13 1/3 innings the last two seasons, has some solid career numbers -- 2.59 ERA, 3.70 FIP, 7.6 H/9, 7.1 K/9 -- so it stands to reason, with a hot spring, that he could make the team.

Dodgers on the verge of record TV deal

The Dodgers have reportedly agreed to a deal with Time Warner Cable to broadcast their games. The price: $7 to $8 billion.

Wow.

The final price has yet to be determined and duration of the deal is unknown, but I'd be shocked if it was any less than 25 years.

On the conservative side ($7 billion, 25 years), the Dodgers stand to make $280 million per season on the deal. The team is getting about $40 million from Fox, a deal that expires after this season.

Remember all those people after the sale of the team saying "Are they going to have enough money to spend on players?"I think this answers that question once and for all.

BA's Top 10 Dodger prospects drops Friday

Baseball America releases its Top 10 Dodgers prospects on Friday. Here's my prediction for the list:
  1. Yasiel Puig
  2. Zach Lee
  3. Corey Seager
  4. Hyun-Jin Ryu
  5. Chris Reed
  6. Joc Pederson
  7. Onelki Garcia
  8. Ross Stripling
  9. Chris Withrow
  10. Jesmuel Valentin
Update: Apparently, the list is already out in some places. Here's how it looks:
  1. Ryu
  2. Puig
  3. Seager
  4. Pederson
  5. Lee
  6. Reed
  7. Garcia
  8. Rodriguez
  9. Matt Magill
  10. Stripling
I wanted to include Magill on my prediction list, but I wasn't sure BA would give him credit as he was a 31st-round draft pick. The publication tends to favor higher draft picks, hence the Withrow inclusion on my list.

Ryu at No. 1 will surprise some folks. Lee at No. 5 surprises me more than anything, actually. I didn't think his 2012 season was bad enough to warrant a drop like that, despite the additions of Puig and Seager.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Eric Stephen, True Blue LA

Friday, November 30, 2012

Reports: Dodgers and Pirates talking Capuano-for-Hanrahan swap

Word broke earlier today from Mark Saxon and Buster Olney of ESPN and Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness that the Dodgers and Pirates have talked about a deal that would send left-hander Chris Capuano to Pittsburgh for right-hander Joel Hanrahan.

This potential deal makes a ton of sense for both sides, but particularly for the Dodgers.

As solid as Capuano was for the Dodgers last season, at least one starting pitcher is going to have to be dealt this offseason to make room for a guy like Zack Greinke or Anibal Sanchez. This would be a step in the right direction.

The term "full circle" comes to mind, as Hanrahan was drafted by the Dodgers in the second round of the 2000 MLB Draft. He was once considered a top prospect as a starting pitcher. He even threw two no-hitters in the minors. However, he never made an appearance with the Dodgers before he was granted free agency in 2006.

Hanrahan, despite an odd 2012 campaign in which he gave up eight home runs (he gave up seven in the previous two seasons combined), had a 5.4 walks per nine innings and an ugly 4.45 FIP, he was able to compile a 2.72 ERA, 10.1 strikeouts per nine and 6.0 hits per nine.

Before 2012, he was on he was to elite status. I'm of the belief his 2012 was more of an aberration and his 2010 and 2011 seasons are more the norm.

The 31-year-old will likely earn about $6-$7 million in his final year of arbitration, which is a drop in the bucket to the Dodgers. Capuano is due $7 million guaranteed this season, so the salaries are almost a wash.

The Pirates need help in the rotation while the Dodgers need to free up space in the rotation -- it seems like a good match. If the Dodgers can land an arm such as Harahan for a guy like Capuano, it seems like a no-brainer for me.

While Capuano is a better pitcher than Aaron Harang and more of a sure thing than Ted Lilly, he also holds more trade value on the open market. There's no way a team like the Pirates would want Harang or Lilly for Harahan.

If the Dodgers land him, they'll have an absolutely nasty bullpen. He wouldn't close like he did in Pittsburgh, but it'd be tough to name a better seventh-inning guy than Hanrahan.

Potential bullpen

Ronald Belisario
Scott Elbert (provided his elbow is OK)
Hanrahan
Kenley Jansen
Brandon League
Paco Rodriguez

That's not even including guys like Javy Guerra, Shawn Tolleson or whoever else the Dodgers might acquire.

The Dodgers probably won't make this deal until they're sure his spot is upgraded. But it almost seems like a formality at this point. I'm all for it, if and when it happens.

Photo credit: UC International, Wikimedia Commons

Monday, November 26, 2012

If the Dodgers sign Zack Greinke, they'll need to trade a pitcher or two

You can never have too much pitching, but I think the Dodgers might take this notion a bit too far.

The Dodgers are considered the front-runners this winter by multiple sources for the services of Zack Greinke. With the Dodgers' rotation already full, someone is going to have to go if the team does indeed sign the right-hander.

But who?

The Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw, who absolutely isn't going anywhere. Other than him, the remaining five pitchers could all be trade candidates.

That leaves Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang, Josh Beckett, Ted Lilly and, yes, Chad Billingsley.

Let's break this down a bit.

Capuano

The 34-year-old southpaw is coming off one of the best seasons of his career and probably has the most trade value of the five.

He was second to Kershaw in innings pitched (198 1/3), WHIP (1.22) and actually had the lowest walks per nine of all the Dodgers' starters (2.45). He was durable in his first season in Dodger Blue and would be attractive to a team looking for a back-end starter who's good for at least 175 innings.

Capuano has a somewhat friendly contract, as he's signed for $6 million for the 2013 season. He and the club also have a mutual option for 2014 at $8 million (or a $1 million buyout). He's guaranteed $7 million, which is a nice price for a No. 4 starter (FanGraphs valued his 2012 season at $9.4 million).

Trade possibility: 80 percent

Harang

The hulking right-hander had a perfectly mediocre 2012 season -- as mediocre as his pitching career, I suppose. But Harang, 34, does hold some value.

In his last nine seasons, he's failed to top 161 innings just once (2010). He's averaged 183 innings in that span. In his last two seasons, he's averaged 175 innings and a 102 ERA+, which is basically league-average.

Harang is signed for $7 million this season. He, like Capuano, has a mutual option for 2014 at $7 or $8 million ($2 million buyout). He's guaranteed $9 million, which makes him a little less valuable to a team looking for a No. 4 or 5 starter, despite the inflated value of pitching these days.

Trade possibility: 40 percent

Beckett

The Dodgers acquired the former flamethrower in August as part of the Adrian Gonzalez deal. He enjoyed moderate success in 43 innings of work as a Dodger. His overall numbers left a lot to be desired, but his 2.93 ERA and 3.61 FIP gives me hope for him the upcoming season.

Beckett has enjoyed odd-year success in the majors, meaning every other year, he has a good or at least decent season.

He hasn't thrown more than 193 inning since 2009 (his age-29 season) and is no lock to even throw 180 innings (164 average in the last three seasons). That, coupled with his unfriendly contract make him a prime candidate to remain in Dodger Blue.

Beckett is signed for $15.75 million each of the last two seasons. For a guy with middle-of-the-rotation upside at this point in his career, that's too much dough for a team to take on.

Trade possibility: 15 percent (and that's being generous)

Lilly

Lilly began the 2012 season on fire, as he was perhaps the biggest surprise of any Dodger starting pitcher. However, a horrendous outing in Arizona, coupled with a shoulder injury ended his season quite fast.

Shoulder injury: the two most frightening words to hear when referring to a starting pitcher. Lilly has never been a fireballer, but it remains to be seen if he can come back from the injury and be a starting pitcher.

If he does come back, the Dodgers would likely use him out of the bullpen as a swingman.

He was pretty decent in 2011 -- his first full season as a Dodger -- posting a 3.97 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and a 4.21 FIP. Not great, but not horrible, either.

Lilly had a no-trade clause for the first two years of his 3-year deal, but it has since expired. That doesn't mean he'll be traded, but at least the team doesn't have to get his permission to do so -- provided any team would take a chance on a 36-year-old coming off shoulder surgery.

Lilly makes $12 million this season in base salary and is due a $1.5 million signing bonus on April 1.

Trade possibility: 10 percent

Billingsley

Here is the wild card. In a recent episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (L.A. Dugout) mentioned Billingsley as a potential trade candidate. I hadn't thought much about it before then, but he's easily the best pitcher of the five and could bring back the most value.

Of course, Billingsley suffered an elbow injury late last season and had a platelet injection that, for now, has prevented him from having Tommy John surgery. In fact, if not for this injury, he'd be a lot more likely to be traded (to a team like the Royals, which is trying to bolster its starting rotation with veteran pitchers).

Despite having a workhorse-type body, Billingsley has topped 200 innings just once in his career (200 2/3 in 2008). He's always had a problem throwing strikes consistently, leading to his being removed from games in the fifth- and sixth innings. His stuff is second to just Kershaw in the Dodgers' rotation.

Billingsley signed a 3-year contract extension prior to the 2011 season. He's due $11 million this season, $12 million in 2014 and a $14 million club option for 2015 ($3 million buyout). He's due at least $26 million for the next two seasons. It's a solid price for a solid No. 3 starter with No. 2 ability.

All things being equal, I'd rather have Billingsley in the Dodgers' rotation than not. He has No. 2 starter ability, but pitches like a No. 4 starter at times. Still, a potential top-three of Kershaw-Greinke-Billingsley is quite appealing.

Trade percentage: < 5 percent

This doesn't even include Hyun-Jin Ryu, who isn't under contract yet. If the Dodgers do ink him to a deal -- and there's no reason to believe they wont -- he'll almost assuredly have a rotation spot.

If the Dodgers land Greinke, they will have to trade at least one of these guys. My money is on Capuano being that guy. He has the friendliest contract and the best track record of anyone not named Billingsley or odd-year Beckett. It'll be interesting to see what Ned Colletti and Co., do in the next couple months.

Photo credits
Capuano: EephusBlue, Paint the Corners
Billingsley: SD Dirk, Flickr

Thursday, October 18, 2012

2012 Los Angeles Dodgers Season Review: Rotation


Aside from Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers' rotation -- despite posting decent numbers -- was generally underwhelming in 2012. September was actually the pitching staff's best month, but even if the Dodgers had made the playoffs, they didn't have the starting pitching to hang with the big boys.

Dodgers' rotation by the numbers
56-56 W-L
3.41 ERA
1.25 WHIP
8.2 H/9
0.8 HR/9
3.0 BB/9
7.5 K/9
2.51 K/BB
2 CG, 2 SHO (both by Kershaw)

Rotation

Clayton Kershaw
14-9, 2.53 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 6.7 H/9, 0.6 HR/9, 2.5 BB/9, 9.1 K/9, 2.89 FIP
- Kershaw wasn't as dominant as he was in 2011, but he wasn't as far off those numbers as some would lead you to believe. Kershaw still led the majors in ERA for a second consecutive season and led the majors in hits per nine innings. He also led the National League in WHIP. His slider wasn't nearly as good a pitch as it was in 2011, but his fastball improved and he made his curveball a great weapon again. In fact, his curveball was nearly twice as good as it's ever been. He was the Dodgers' most consistent performer and should take home team MVP honors (for what it's worth).
Grade: A

Chad Billingsley
10-9, 3.55 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 8.9 H/9, 0.7 HR/9, 2.7 BB/9, 7.7 K/9, 3.34 FIP
- Billingsley had just hit his stride before injuring his elbow in late August. It was the second time he hurt his elbow. This time, it might mean Tommy John surgery. He emerged as the Dodgers' second-best pitcher and would have been a big help in September. He had a career-low walks per nine rate and a career-best strikeout-to-walk ratio. Let's just hope his elbow recovers well enough for him to pitch in 2013. I'd be surprised if it does, though.
Grade: B

Chris Capuano
12-12, 3.72 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 8.5 H/9, 1.1 HR/9, 2.5 BB/9, 7.4 K/9, 3.95 FIP
- Capuano was brought in to help alleviate the loss of Hiroki Kuroda, and he did an admirable job doing so. He scored career-bests in ERA, WHIP and hits per nine innings. He pitched so well that he garnered some All-Star consideration from some. I wasn't appalled by his signing, but I was still wanting Kuroda to return. He was consistent in the first half before seemingly running out of gas in the second half.
Grade: B-

Aaron Harang
10-10, 3.72 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 8.7 H/9, 0.7 HR/9, 4.3 BB/9, 6.6 K/9, 4.14 FIP
- Harang, all things being equal, was reasonably adequate for the Dodgers this season. We all remember his Dodger record nine consecutive strikeouts, but that's about all we remember. Harang's walks per nine innings and walk-to-strikeout ratio were not in line with his career numbers, accounting for a high WHIP. He's a prime candidate to be traded or sent to the bullpen come 2013.
Grade: C

Joe Blanton
2-4, 4.99 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 10.3 H/9, 1.1 HR/9, 2.5 BB/9, 8.0 K/9, 4.26 FIP
- Blanton came over in an August trade that sent Ryan O'Sullivan to the Phillies. I was actually a fan of this deal when it went down (though, I would have rather kept O'Sulivan), but Blanton struggled in his 10 starts as a Dodger. He's a free agent and I'd be surprised if he was re-signed.
Grade: D

Nathan Eovaldi
1-6, 4.15 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 10.1 H/9, 0.8 HR/9, 3.2 BB/9, 5.4 K/9, 4.11 FIP
- Eovaldi began the season in Double-A -- just as he did last season -- and was recalled to fill a rotation void. He was decent in his second go-round with the Dodgers before he was traded with Scott McGough for Hanley Ramirez. Eovaldi pitched similarly in Florida, but there's still a lot of promise left in his 22-year-old arm.
Grade: C

Ted Lilly
5-1, 3.14 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 6.7 H/9, 0.6 HR/9, 3.5 BB/9, 5.7 K/9, 3.92 FIP
- Lilly got off to a fast start before suffering what would end up being a season-ending shoulder injury in May. Before allowing eight earned runs in 3 1/3 innings in his last start of the season, Lilly owned a 1.79 ERA and had clearly established himself as the Dodgers' third starter. He had shoulder surgery and his status for 2013 is unknown.
Grade: B-

Josh Beckett
2-3, 2.93 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 9.0 H/9, 1.0 HR/9, 2.9 BB/9, 8.0 K/9, 3.61 FIP
- Beckett came over with something to prove. I'm not sure he did, but he pitched reasonably well in his one-plus month with the Dodgers. Beckett is a wild card for the Dodgers. He could be the Dodgers' No. 3 starter Opening Day.
Grade: B

Stephen Fife
0-2, 2.70 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 8.4 H/9, 0.7 HR/9, 4.1 BB/9, 6.8 K/9, 4.14 FIP
- Fife, a surprise addition to the 40-man roster prior to the season, actually made some meaningful starts for the Dodgers and didn't get shelled. That qualifies as a successful season for the 25-year-old righty. Fife used a lot of smoke and mirrors to get through his starts as he didn't miss many bats.
Grade: C+

Next up: Outfielders

Photo credits
Kershaw: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue
Eovaldi: EephusBlue, Paint the Corners

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

CanPredictBall: Dodgers will sign Zack Greinke to mega contract this winter

Figure I should get this out there now because it's all but a sure thing. The Dodgers, which tried to acquire Zack Greinke before the July 31 trade deadline, will undoubtedly back up the Brinks truck to get the former Cy Young award winner.

With Clayton Kershaw likely heading for hip surgery that would keep him out until mid-May next season and Chad Billingsley's status uncertain (but looking better), the Dodgers are going to be short on impact starting pitchers going into the 2013 season.

That brings us to Greinke. He will be -- by far -- the best free agent starting pitcher available. With Cole Hamels signing a long-term extension with the Phillies and Matt Cain doing the same earlier this year with 'Frisco, the market is wafer-thin.

The Dodgers don't exactly have the blue chip prospects necessary to acquire an impact starter on the trade market, so I'm fully expecting the Dodgers to flex their financial muscles.

Greinke, since winning the American League Cy Young in 2009, hasn't been nearly that dominant:
  • 2010 through 2012: 40-25, 3.87 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9, 8.6 K/9
Good numbers (really, who cares about the win-loss record?), but not $20-million-per-year good, which is what Greinke will likely earn with his next contract.

It might not be the most sound financial decision, but it's a chance I'm sure the Dodgers willing to take. The only way I see that is if another talented pitcher becomes available and the Dodgers land him.

With Kershaw not lost of the season and Billingsley's status uncertain, the Dodgers would still have a logjam at starting pitcher if they landed Greinke.

Ted Lilly is having shoulder surgery, so there's no guarantee he'll be able to help in the final year of his contract. Chris Capuano is having arguably the best season of his career, but he's struggled in the second half after a superb first half. Aaron Harang is, well, Aaron Harang. The jury is still out on Josh Beckett, but he's definitely a wild card. Still, he's not getting any younger.

If the Dodgers sign Greinke, they'd have to move at least one of these guys. Capuano would probably be easiest to move, but I'd expect the Dodgers to try to move Harang first. Lilly's no-trade clause expires after the 2012 season, but no team is going to take a chance on him after shoulder surgery. And Beckett's contract is too much to move.

It's going to take a little doing, but the way things are going in Dodgertown right now, I'd be surprised if Greinke ended up anywhere else.

Photo credit: Jninja, Wikimedia Commons

Friday, August 3, 2012

Dodgers acquire Joe Blanton from the Phillies

Not exactly the Phillies' pitcher I wanted the Dodgers to acquire, but the they finally grabbed a starting pitcher in Joe Blanton.

The Phillies will receive cash and/or a player to be named later. The Dodgers are also responsible for the $2.9 million left on Blanton's contract.

As long as the possible player going to Philadelphia is of no significance, this deal is OK. While Cliff Lee was claimed on waivers, I don't think it was the Dodgers (my guess is Texas) and the likelihood of them landing him weren't exactly great.

This must mean the Dodgers are concerned about Ted Lilly's ability to return this season. Plus, we all know Stephen Fife (God bless him and his specs) wasn't going to finish the season as the Dodgers' fifth starter.

My favorite statistic regarding Blanton: he's walked just 18 batters (two intentionally) in 133 1/3 innings pitched (1.2 BB/9). He's also striking out batters at a career-high rate (7.8 per nine innings).

He's giving up way too many home runs (22, 1.5 per nine), so that's something he'll need to work on.

Blanton's home/road splits this season are eerily similar, but I'd still expect him to pitch better for the Dodgers than he did with the Phillies.

He's a free agent after the season, so this is likely a rental pickup. But I think I like this acquisition more than if the Dodgers somehow began the season with Blanton.

Photo credit: keithreifsnyder, Flickr

The Dodgers should absolutely claim Cliff Lee off waivers

As soon as the non-waiver trade deadline passed on Tuesday, people immediately speculated whether Cliff Lee would be claimed off waivers.

Lee was promptly placed on waivers Thursday and the Dodgers should claim him with little hesitation.

Lee, who makes $21.5 million this season (roughly less than $10 million remaining) and $25 million annually through 2015, would make sense for the Dodgers. He also has a $27.5 million vesting option for the 2016 season ($12.5 million buyout).

All told, it'd be nearly a $100 million commitment (with the buyout). But look at it this way: It'd be like signing a major free agent with less than half the season remaining. Plus, they were set to go after Cole Hamels this offseason before his contract was extended. Lee would be a mighty fine consolation prize.

The Dodgers failed to land a starting pitcher before Tuesday and after trading Nathan Eovaldi, there is a hole in the rotation. Now, Ted Lilly is on his way back (no definite timetable), but Cliff Lee is an elite pitcher in this game. If money is truly no matter for ownership, this claim is a no-brainer.

If the Dodgers claim him, they'd be the only team that could trade for him. That means Lee wouldn't go to the Rangers or Yankees (the only two teams who could realistically claim him and his contract).

Now, claiming him comes with a few other notes:
  1. The Phillies could just let him go and the Dodgers could assume all the money in the contract.
  2. The Phillies and Dodgers could attempt to work a trade for Lee, but all players involved on the 40-man roster would have to clear waivers. This means the Dodgers would likely be sending players in the lower minors, which is good for them because it shouldn't take much to acquire Lee.
  3. The Phillies could pull him back and explore trading him in the winter.
So, this is actually a somewhat convoluted situation.

Worse-case scenario: the Dodgers are the same team in a few days without Lee. Best-case scenario: the Dodgers have pitcher 1A to Clayton Kershaw. This would give the Dodgers a formidable rotation for the postseason.

The Dodgers took on nearly $39 million in the Hanley Ramirez deal. Ownership has shown the desire to do whatever it takes to acquire talent for a playoff run right now. I'd be somewhat surprised if the Dodgers don't claim Lee from the Phillies.

Photo credit: Matthew Straubmuller, Flickr 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dodgers fail to land starting pitcher at trade deadline

So, the Dodgers' farm system is weaker now than it was just two weeks ago. That was expected. What wasn't expected is the Dodgers would still need a starting pitcher after July 31.

The Dodgers went down to the wire for Ryan Dempster before the Rangers jumped in and snagged him. There were rumors of the Dodgers looking at Jason Vargas as a backup option, but that never came to be.

The Cubs were determined to get Allen Webster, but Ned Colletti stood strong, even if he gave into the Phillies' by giving up Ethan Martin in the Shane Victorino deal.

So, the Dodgers head into August needing a pitcher because Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano aren't pitching as well as they were earlier this season -- especially Capuano.

Cliff Lee's name is being bandied about because there are just two or three teams that could take on his massive contract.

If the Dodgers somehow land Lee in August, that'd be awesome. If they don't, they'd bank on Ted Lilly being healthy and maybe a guy like Webster to fill in. It's not the worst plan, but it certainly isn't ideal.

Rubby De La Rosa could also be an option, but I'd be surprised if he was anything but a reliever coming off Tommy John surgery.

I'll have a full trade deadline recap tonight or tomorrow.