Just under 50 games into the 2010 season, the first word of potential trade brewing has surfaced for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
According to the Dodgers' website, the team has inquired about pitchers Roy Oswalt of the Houston Astros and Cliff Lee of the Seattle Mariners. Although both teams responded with a, "No for now," it doesn't necessarily mean the door can't be opened later.
But which pitcher would make a better fit in Tinsel Town? Perhaps the pitcher with the ability to eat up innings or simply keep the Dodgers in the game long enough for the offense to solidify a victory. If not that, at the very least keep hitters from sending the ball to left field.
On the slides to follow will be a break down of Roy Oswalt's attributes and Cliff Lee's skills respectively. Along with statistics, there will be an inside look at each player and how they might fare in Los Angeles.
Roy Oswalt is currently in the starting rotation for the worst team in the National League and second worst team in Major League Baseball (Baltimore Orioles). He has expressed his desire to take his above-average abilities to a team with a chance to contend for a championship. It certainly seems the Dodgers would be a good fit if they can continue their current level of play.
The Dodgers would obviously welcome the talented veteran. Oswalt would offer a chance at a solid front-of-the-rotation pitcher with the ability to go deep in to games, saving a bullpen that seems to finally be coming around.
For his career, Oswalt sports a 3.20 ERA with a record of 140-76. The right-hander will turn 33 in August, and still has a few decent seasons left in his arm.
Although Oswalt missed most of the 2009 season due to nagging injuries, he appears to have re-established his fastball and effectiveness. His current 2.35 ERA is a testament to his ability to reinvent himself, and his 3-6 record is due to low run support.
However, Oswalt would be a long shot to become a Dodger at this point in the season. Although it is likely he would fit in nicely to the rotation and the personalities of the Dodgers, he may be unaffordable.
Under Oswalt's current contract, the Dodgers would have to pay him $25 million, money they may not be able to free up, given they are paying their left fielder near that amount this season.
Prompting the Dodgers inquiry into Oswalt was not the attraction of a small salary, but the necessity to shore up a rotation currently weakened by injury. Opening Day starter Vicente Padilla is still suffering from elbow issues on his pitching arm, and the fifth starter position is still in flux.
If Oswalt were to come to L.A., a major position player or several prospects may be a necessity included in a trade with the struggling Astros.
The Astros certainly won't give up their only method of success for a cheap thrill. They are likely to request a position player with a big bat, and the Dodgers may not have one to spare.
The idea of Roy Oswalt wearing Dodger Blue and pitching shutouts at the top of the rotation is sublime, but may be a distant memory by season's end.
However, it has been years since the Dodgers have had a pitcher of similar caliber to Sandy Koufax on the roster, and there are several fans out there that miss the days of old. Oswalt may be worth the $25 million if he can draw in crowds the way Koufax did in the '60s. Oswalt remains a longshot.
Cliff Lee is finally back on the hill for Seattle, but the Mariners are struggling to find an identity and are sputtering around the bottom of the American League West.
Thought to be the front-runner in the division before the season, the Mariners lost Cliff Lee during Spring Training to injury, and newly acquired infielder Chone Figgins has been an offensive letdown. Now the Mariners are looking for bats to stifle their offensive woes by dealing their ace.
Lee seems to be a better fit on the Dodgers' roster. Clayton Kershaw is currently the only lefty Dodger starter, and Lee would provide a different look for opposing hitters. Additionally, a trend has formed in Major League Baseball for pitchers who switch leagues mid-season.
C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee and Vicente Padilla are shining examples of veteran pitchers that experience renewal when crossing the line to the other side. Teams may have out-of-date scouting reports or several players that have never faced that pitcher, or both.
If Lee were to find his way to Chavez Ravine via trade, it is likely he would experience the same success he had as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies on their way to a World Series appearance.
The veteran lefty's numbers are in the same ballpark (pun intended) as Oswalt's. Lee has a respectable career ERA of 3.96, and is 92-54 in 195 career starts. Lee is also a year younger than Oswalt, and is still considered to be in the prime of his career.
For Philadelphia last season Lee finished 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA and was a vital piece to the Phillies playoff run, providing one quality start after another under pressure situations.
The way Lee handled clutch situations, coupled with his low salary requirements makes him more appealing to the Dodgers. Lee is currently in the final year of his contract, and the Dodgers would only be required to pay him $4.5 million for this season. The team would have a good chance of re-signing him for 2011 given a large portion of their salary would be freed up with the departure of Manny Ramirez.
Lee's quiet confidence would be a good balance in the Dodgers' clubhouse as well. The Boys in Blue certainly don't need another personality, as the roster is loaded with its own Hollywood celebrities.
With that in mind, it is my opinion that Lee is the more likely mid-season Dodger addition, provided the Mariners continue to struggle and the Dodgers continue to require pitching help.
Dodgers fans, have patience: This trade is still far from fruition, but let the water cooler discussions and fantasy dreams begin.