Los Angeles Dodgers: Should They Really Be Targeting Starting Pitching?
The Los Angeles Dodgers are taking the free agent market seriously. Jayson Stark of ESPN reported Tuesday that the Dodgers are looking at top shelf starting pitchers Zack Greinke, Hiroki Kuroda and Anibal Sanchez.
While each of these three pitchers would obviously help the Dodgers, it is difficult to tell if this is really the best use of all of the money that new ownership is going to be pumping into the franchise.
First, as Jayson Stark also mentioned, the Dodgers have a veteran group of starting pitchers. Clayton Kershaw obviously leads the way as a potential Cy Young candidate every season. Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett should provide plenty of support as well.
In fact, if Beckett is able to rebound from an incredibly frustrating 2012, he should be more than support. In 2011, he went 13-7 with a very low 2.89 ERA. The reason that I designated that ERA especially is because he posted that in the American League East.
For perspective, in 2011, every team in the American League East was in the top half of Major League Baseball in terms of runs scored. In such a high-scoring division, it is obvious that Beckett did great things if he kept his ERA that low.
With the pitching staff seemingly under control, it seems as if it would be more logical for the Dodgers to worry about the offense. In 2012, they came in 26th in terms of total runs scored. There is a lot of room for improvement in their lineup.
While they do have potential All-Stars at almost every position thanks to a major blockbuster with the Boston Red Sox last July, third base has the potential to be a weak link.
Luis Cruz saw a substantial portion of time at the hot corner last season, and he handled himself very well at the plate with a .297 batting average, six home runs and 40 RBI in 78 games. However, that was a small sample size, and he rarely displayed that much power or average in the minor leagues.
A free-agent option such as Kevin Youkilis might make a lot more sense at third base and be a better use of that money.
Last season was definitely not ideal as he hit .235 with 19 home runs and 60 RBI. However, he did play markedly better once he was traded away from the Boston Red Sox to the Chicago White Sox.
Although his average only crept up slightly, he hit 15 home runs in 80 games. When you expand that over an entire season, 30 home runs would definitely be valued at third base.
I know that the Los Angeles Dodgers might be a little bit heavy on former Red Sox, but this situation is entirely different with different management in place. A similar meltdown would almost definitely not occur.
While I do not doubt for one minute that the Los Angeles Dodgers are indeed looking at top end starting pitchers, that strategy is questionable to say the least.
With an offense that ranked near the bottom of the league in terms of runs produced last season, it might not hurt to a little bit more firepower to that lineup.
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