Los Angeles Dodgers Need a Hamels or Greinke to Win the Pennant in 2012
The headline may be a tad obvious unless you are one of those Los Angeles Dodgers fans that thinks the club in its current state can cruise to the World Series with their current roster.
On the other hand, it could be a "castle in the sky" idea that the Dodgers' front office could swing a deal of enormous proportions that would land the likes of Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke, Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster or Wandy Rodriguez into the (un)friendly confines of Chavez Revine.
The Dodgers pitching staff has been a formidable force this year, thanks to the predictable great performance that Clayton Kershaw puts on the mound and the overachieving success of Chris Capuano. Chad Billingsley has been his unpredictable self while Aaron Harang has also pitched well at times throughout the season.
With Ted Lilly on the shelf without a timetable for return, the Dodgers have turned to the 22-year-old Nathan Eovaldi to help the club stay the course.
On the surface, it appears that the Dodgers have one of the more complete packages in terms of five-man rotations.
The bullpen consists of quality arms that handle their own. Closer Kenley Jansen is one of the better young relievers in all of baseball while the congregation of Todd Coffey and a few other lesser known pitchers have filled in decently at times. Javy Guerra is getting closer to returning but Matt Guerrier appears to be on the shelf for a while.
Therefore, it could be suggested that if anything, the Dodgers should pursue relievers instead of starting pitchers.
It is true that the Dodgers rank sixth in all of baseball with 27 wins from their starting rotation while ranking first in all of MLB for least amount of losses for the starters. But, the Dodgers have a high BB/9 rate of 3.11 which ranks them the fifth highest in the National League.
It is also true that the Dodgers starting rotation has the second-best ERA in all of baseball (3.15). On the other hand, the rotation has a WAR of 5.5, which ties them with the Cubs and seats them in the middle-of-the-pack in this category, behind the starting rotations of the Diamondbacks, Marlins, White Sox, Brewers and Mets.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers relievers are second in MLB with 14 wins collectively and sit in the middle of baseball with nine losses. The bullpen in the City of Angels ranks third in MLB with a K/9 of 9.10. Meanwhile, it does have one of the highest rates of BB/9.
Despite that, the Dodgers rotation is highly dependable for the most part but the organization can afford to part ways with some key prospects in order to win now by acquiring more reliable arms for the dog days of summer and fall.
Eovaldi, the current fifth starter for the Dodgers, is ranked by Baseball America as the organization's third best prospect. Eovaldi has shown some potential thus far so it is uncertain if the Dodgers would be willing to package him in a deal to acquire a high-end pitcher that can help the Dodgers win a title now.
Therefore, the chips that should be on the table for the Dodgers include a pair of young RHPs in Zach Lee and Allen Webster. Also, OF Alfredo Silverio, C Tim Federowicz and LHP Chris Reed could be dealt.
Some current big leaguers for the Dodgers could be siphoned off as well. The injured Mark Ellis might be an option but he isn't set to return until some time in July. Bobby Abreu and Juan Rivera could be auctioned off as parts of a trade but hypothetically, a team that is selling may be unwilling to bring in one or two veterans whose current skill sets are a dime a dozen. In the right scenario, Tony Gwinn Jr. might be shipped out of Los Angeles too.
That aside, this leaves us with the question of who would provide the first place Dodgers with a more enhanced opportunity to bring home the World Series title in 2012?
Philadelphia Phillies ace LHP Cole Hamels (9-3, 3.34 ERA) is a kid from Southern California that might be moved when one considers how things have turned for the worst in the City of Brotherly Love. The only thing that might prevent the Dodgers from acquiring Hamels would be the asking price. After all, the Dodgers are likely to be able to afford to come to a long-term contract extension with the young lefty.
RHP Zack Greinke (7-2, 2.96 ERA) has repeatedly told the Milwaukee Brewers that he will not discuss anything related to a contract with the organization this season. That means Greinke is destined for free agency. With the season becoming a lost cause for Milwaukee, they are likely to seek a trading partner that is willing to pay a price to receive this former A.L. Cy Young Award winner's services.
RHP Matt Garza (2-5, 4.04 ERA) has been offered to those willing to make a deal with the Chicago Cubs. His teammate RHP Ryan Dempster (3-3, 2.11 ERA) is another piece of bait that has been cast into the open waters of MLB trade rumors. Either pitcher would suffice as a No. 2 behind Clayton Kershaw.
Houston Astros LHP Wandy Rodriguez (6-4, 3.35 ERA) is another player with a loaded contract that the Houston Astros may look to dump as the new front office begins to dismantle the walls built by the old regime.
All in all, any of these five pitchers would help the Dodgers reinforce their rotation while still having an adequate supply of pop in their lineup.
The question then remains, who is left out of the rotation? With no timetable for Lilly's return, Eovaldi could be shifted back to the rotation. This would allow the Dodgers to take their time with Lilly. They could also possibly use a six-man rotation in the way that the Boston Red Sox once contemplated using. Then again, Lilly or Harang could be placed in the 'pen so long as Capuano continues to pitch well. Should Capuano struggle, then he would be a likely candidate to work things out in the bullpen.
Either way, the Dodgers' chances of bringing home a World Series drastically improve by reeling in a Hamels or a Greinke (or a Garza, Dempster or Rodriguez). Truth be told, it is a likely scenario that the Dodgers grab one of the aforementioned pitchers. After all, it appears that Magic Johnson & Co. are willing to do whatever it takes to bring a title to Tinseltown.
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