Chad Billingsley could be the Indians' ace in 2011 and beyond.
As the calendar turns to July and the pennant races heat up, we enter my favorite time of the baseball season: the countdown to the trading deadline. I love the game itself as much as anyone, but I've always been obsessed with player movement and trades. This month will see plenty of rumors and names thrown around as teams desperately try to improve before July 31.
The Indians are still in good shape after their dismal June, but definitely need something to get them over the hump. By no means should we mortgage the future and bring on an aging veteran with a bad contract, but if we could acquire a younger player without much cost, then I'd be all for it.
Chad Billingsley could fit that profile perfectly.
With Fausto Carmona now on the DL (thank goodness) and Mitch Talbot still struggling, the Indians could use one more good pitcher. The Carrasco-Masterson-Tomlin rotation isn't bad, but it needs one more big piece. Maybe AAA pitchers Zach McAllister or Jeanmar Gomez could fill the void, but if the Indians could get Chad Billingsley, he'd be a more sure thing.
The man I've seen Dodger fans refer to as "Bad Chad" hasn't been all that bad of a pitcher in his young career. Check out the 26-year-old pitcher's impressive career numbers: 3.62 ERA (112 ERA+), 1.361 WHIP, 8.2 SO/9, 3.9 BB/9, 2.11 SO:BB. Sure, he walks more than he should, but his above-average strikeout ratio makes up for it.
Should the Indians trade for Chad Billingsley?
If Billingsley was able to learn to control his walks more (not unlikely considering his age), he could easily jump into the same class as Justin Verlander (8.2 SO/9, but a significantly lower 2.9 BB/9).
In a perfect world, the Dodgers wouldn't even begin to consider trading Chad Billingsley. The world isn't perfect, though, and the Dodgers are in big trouble payroll-wise. Their bankruptcy proceedings could lead them to need to move some of their bigger contracts.
Billingsley is owed a good amount of money over the next years (2011: $6.275 million, 2012: $9 million, 2013: $11 million, 2014: $12 million, 2015: $14 million team option), meaning he is a prime candidate to be moved out of Los Angeles.
The Indians typically don't take on these kinds of contracts, but if Billingsley can limit his walks and turn into the next Justin Verlander, this contract will be a bargain. Add in the fact that Billingsley will only be 30 years old at the time of the 2015 team option and this is a very manageable contract.
As long as the Indians aren't giving up prime prospects, I'd jump on this deal. If the Dodgers can be satisfied with some decent single-A prospects and a player like Tim Fedroff (enjoying a career year in AA Akron and AAA Columbus (.337/.399/.451 slash line, .850 OPS, 3 HR, 40 RBI, 7 SB) fueled mainly by an extremely high .387 BABIP), I'd take it. As long as our top prospects are safe, this deal is a no-brainer.
The Tribe still need some hitting (as rest assured I'll write plenty of trade articles highlighting hitters we should target), but I still feel we could use one more strong starter to push in 2011. Playoff trips are hard to come by in baseball and I would hate to waste a chance in 2011.
Chad Billingsley was born and raised in Defiance, Ohio. How great would it be if an Ohio native was able to join the team midseason and help lead his hometown team to their first championship since 1948?
We'll never know if we don't try.