The most valuable asset in baseball is good pitching. Good, young, controllable pitching could be likened to winning the lottery for a million dollars, and when you go to cash in your ticket, you find out you actually won five million.
To call the 2009 season a roller coaster for Chad Billingsley would be an understatement. He was named to his first All-Star game in July, but he also had his career-worst year statistically.
Things took an even worse turn for Billingsley when Dodgers manager Joe Torre only used him once in the team's two playoff series. He didn't make an appearance against the Cardinals and pitched once out of the bullpen against the Phillies.
This was coming off a drubbing the Phillies gave him in the 2008 playoffs. In two starts, he lasted only five innings while giving up 11 runs on seven walks and 12 hits.
Several reports are now surfacing that Billingsley is on the trading block. It's rumored he could be the centerpiece of a trade with the Blue Jays that would bring Roy Halladay to Los Angeles. It would be incredibly foolish of the Dodgers to pull off such a trade, especially with Halladay only a year away from free agency.
Despite having the worst season of his career, Billingsley will only be 25 years old on opening day next year. He's also under team control for three more years.
By the start of the 2011 season, the Dodgers could have the best pitching staff in baseball. They would be one of the favorites to sign Halladay next winter, so why give up on Billingsley and other talent when they can wait one year to get Halladay and keep all their resources?
A starting rotation with Halladay, Clayton Kershaw, and Billingsley as the top three would rival any trio in the game. The Dodgers would also still have control of all their young hitters, having retained them all by not trading for Halladay.
The next crop of Dodgers' prospects are not nearly as strong as has been the case in past years, so the team needs to hold onto them while not letting go of any of the young core already established on the team.
Even if Los Angeles were to lose out on Halladay, there will be a plethora of available pitching that they could lure into the fold. The key is just to hold firm with what they have and then attack the pitching market next winter.
Although that may not be a popular idea among the Dodgers faithful, they must take a realistic team that they now have. Even after they almost collapsed and lost the division to the Rockies, they are still the class of the National League West. There is no reason to make such a hasty trade.
Going after one or two starters this year could stabilize the rotation, but giving out a long-term deal to anyone other than John Lackey this winter is not needed. Most of the pitchers on the market could be signed to a one or two-year deal.
Even with his struggles in 2009, Chad Billingsley still has a very high upside. To give up on him now and trade him away would be like taking that same winning lottery ticket and throwing it away because you aren't happy with the jackpot amount.
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