So Much For a Quiet Rumor Season

Well, here’s something. Ken Rosenthal hits us with:

The Dodgers and Indians are in serious discussions about a blockbuster that would send left-hander Cliff Lee and catcher Victor Martinez to Los Angeles for first baseman James Loney, one of the Dodgers’ young starting pitchers and prospects, according to major-league sources.
Holy hell! Now that’s what I’m talking about. Cliff Lee’s no Roy Halladay, but he is the top-level pitcher the Dodgers could use, and the idea of trading the somewhat-disappointing Loney for Victor Martinez (118 career OPS+) would boost the offense from “bad-ass” to “hell, yeah!!” Plus, both Lee & Martinez are under contract for 2010, so neither would be a “rental”.
But who’d go back to Cleveland? Loney, of course, then someone from a group of “young starting pitchers and prospects”. Okay, fine. So we’re talking guys like Scott Elbert, James McDonald, Josh Lindblom as far as pitchers, I’d think, and then maybe along the lines of Josh Bell, Andrew Lambo, or maybe Blake DeWitt on the offensive side. Depending on how many, that’s steep but fair. How’s a rotation of Lee/Billingsley/Kershaw/Wolf/Kuroda strike you? Because that’s pretty delicious to me.
Sign me up. Wait. What?!
Lee would replace either left-hander Clayton Kershaw or right-hander Chad Billingsley — it is not known which the Dodgers would part with in the package — giving manager Joe Torre the more experienced starter that he covets.
No. No, no, no, no, no. Back this up for a second. There is nothing in baseball more valuable – nothing - than talented young pitching that’s cost controlled for several more seasons. We’ve been pretty consistent about this around here - I’ve been saying that we need to lock up Billingsley for months and that I wouldn’t trade Kershaw for Roy Halladay straight up – and nothing’s changed. If we’re to get another starting pitcher, it needs to be someone to add to these two guys to create an unholy trio, not someone to replace them. 
Look, put aside age, cost, and history for a second and know this fact: Cliff Lee hasn’t been as good as either Chad Billingsley or Clayton Kershaw this season.

Kershaw: 1.260
Billingsley: 1.286
Lee: 1.324

(and that’s even though both Billingsley and Kershaw walk more than they ought to!)
Kershaw: 8.8
Billingsley: 8.5
Lee: 6.4
Opponent’s OPS
Kershaw: .606
Billingsley: .689
Lee: .709
Even better, despite being several years older than either Dodger, Cliff Lee actually has zero innings of playoff experience to boot, something you can’t say about either Kershaw or Billingsley. Don’t get me wrong; I’d love to add Cliff Lee to the rotation. But at the cost of either of those two? You may have not only just weakened your rotation, both for the rest of the season and in the playoffs, you’ve tossed in some other top prospects for the pleasure.
Now I completely understand that rumors are just that – rumors – and always have to be taken with a grain of salt. And I’m happy to hear that Ned Colletti isn’t sitting on the lead and is actively looking for ways to improve, both expected (a top starter) and less so (an upgrade at first base). But to give up either of Billingsley or Kershaw for just about anyone who’s not Albert Pujols is a monumental mistake – and with the Indians already possessing the fruits of last year’s mistake, Carlos Santana, there’s no way I can live with sending them the futures of either of our young pitching duo.
Just say no.