It’s About Time!

I originally wanted to see Will Ohman in Dodger blue as far back as last October, and as his price continued to drop while the Dodgers trotted out minor league jobbers like Brian Mazone and Erick Threets, the fit only seemed more obvious: hey, maybe a contending team who badly needs a lefty specialist should bring in the lefty specialist who’s already said he wants to be on the west coast! I still can’t quite comprehend why it took so long, but common sense has finally arrived:

The Dodgers need relief pitchers, and reliever Will Ohman needs a job. Those two needs intersected on Sunday morning, when the Dodgers gave the free-agent left-hander a tryout.

Ohman, accompanied at Camelback Ranch-Glendale by his agent, went through a two-inning simulated game against Minor League hitters in front of manager Joe Torre and most of the Dodgers’ front office.

ohmanbraves.jpgGreat! Perfect! In case you’re not familiar with Ohman, he’s exactly what the team needs right now, and not even just because of (complete lack of) competition for the position otherwise. The 31-year-old Pepperdine alum made his debut with the Cubs in 2000, getting into 17 games in his first two years, before blowing out his arm and missing 2002 and 2003. Since making it back to the bigs in 2005, he’s been one of the most reliable lefty relievers over the last four seasons, making at least 56 appearances each year with quality results (ERA+ scores of 151, 112, 94, and 116).  Even better, unlike Joe Beimel, Ohman’s been killer on fellow southpaws, holding them to just a .571 OPS in 2008.

That’d be a pretty valuable addition to any team, but in comparison to Mazone (32 and yet to appear in a MLB game) and Threets (6.75 spring ERA after allowing a run and two hits in 1/3 of an inning today) Ohman’s basically looking like Sandy Koufax right now – especially when you consider that Hong-Chih Kuo is almost guaranteed to miss some time this year due to injury. (That said, until Kuo does go down, how tasty is a Kuo/Ohman lefty duo? Niiiice.)

So what’s stopping the Dodgers from signing him now-ish? Well, Joe Torre, for one:

Free agent left-hander Will Ohman said he would be ready for opening day, but Manager Joe Torre wasn’t so sure.

Of Ohman’s command when he pitched to minor leaguers in front of the Dodgers’ brain trust, Torre said, “You can see he hasn’t been pitched in games.”

From the story, Torre also mentioned:

“But there’s a certain element of sharpness you’d like to have. Where we are, how many times can he pitch [in a game]? We saw today the quality of his stuff. You can see he hasn’t been pitching in a game as far as command. Not that he’s been pinpoint [in his career].”

Well, yeah. I don’t doubt he’s rusty. Why wouldn’t he be? He’s missed almost all of spring training. But doesn’t he have enough of a track record of success to think that it’ll just take him some extra time to get going? I mean, what would you prefer to have out there in the pen? A proven reliever who might need a week or two more to get up to speed, or, well, Brian Mazone and Erick Threets?

Will Ohman. Dodger blue. Let’s make this happen.

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