Just One More Month Until Pitchers & Catchers Report

Yesterday, I wrote the following regarding the Dodgers signing a free-agent pitcher:

In fact – and there’s going to be a full post on this in the next day or two – I strongly prefer Jon Garland to Pineiro anyway.

The idea behind this was going to be basically that even though Pineiro had a fantastic 2009, he’s also coming off three horrible years in the four previous seasons and is going to be far more expensive. Can he survive away from Dave Duncan? Was his 2009 simply a contract push? Who knows? Garland’s never going to be as good as Pineiro was last year, but he was better in most of the years before that, he’s cheaper, and he’s nothing if not consistent – he gives you the same 200 league-average innings every year. Since neither is going to be an ace and the season is largely going to hinge on the progress made by Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley, why not just save some money and sign the more reliable guy to give you some stability as a 4th starter?

Yep, that’s the post I was going to write, much more than a paragraph’s worth. And then Eric Seidman of Baseball Prospectus had to go and completely steal my thunder this morning by saying basically the exact same thing, just better than I would have, so if you’re a subscriber, check it out.

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Get ready to start hearing stories like this non-stop if Kershaw takes off like we expect him to:

Clayton Kershaw is coming off a strong season for the Los Angeles Dodgers, his second in the big leagues. He posted a 2.79 ERA and fanned 185 batters in just 171 innings of work. If the lefty takes another step forward in 2010, GM Ned Colletti may soon find himself in a similar situation that Seattle was with Felix Hernandez this winter, before signing the right-hander to a five-year contract.

Kershaw will not be eligible for arbitration until after next season, but that may be when the club starts to think about locking him up for more than one year to achieve some cost certainty and avoid a situation much like the one San Francisco is in with Tim Lincecum.

Hernandez got his deal after four years of service, so in that light the Dodgers have two seasons to go, but it might be smart accounting to do what the Red Sox did with Jon Lester — 5 years, $30 million after his second year of service, which is where Kershaw will stand a year from now.

You can see how Boston is saving money by doing so, too. For Lester’s contract to be worth more than Hernandez’s, he’d have to have an average annual salary of more $20 million in 2014 and 2015. In other words, it’s costing Boston about $48 million less for Lester over the same period of time.

Moral of the story: The Dodgers might be wisest not to wait.

As always, the divorce case looms over everything. But if Kershaw does take that next step in 2010, I think Dodger fans would do somersaults if he’d be willing to settle for $30m over 5 years. Remember, that’s not anywhere near what he would get on the open market, but this would of course be buying out his slave and arbitration years.

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Oh, look. A seemingly harmless story on Fox Sports. Let’s click it, shall we?

Kennedy down to three teams — 12:04 p.m.

The representative for free agent Adam Kennedy said he remains in talks with three teams about the infielder.

Two clubs are interested in Kennedy as their everyday second baseman, Paul Cohen said. Another has interest in Kennedy as a super-utility player.

“We have narrowed it down to three teams,” Cohen said.

Cohen wouldn’t address specific clubs, but the Cubs and Nationals are known to be looking for a second baseman.

Whenever a free agent second baseman is mentioned, you immediately think of the Dodgers (ESPN’s already tossed LA into this mix). But what’s important here is how the agent described the interest – two teams interested in Kennedy “as their everyday second baseman.” I’m not sold on Blake DeWitt yet, but we have to be hoping that the Dodgers aren’t one of those teams, right?

Actually, Kennedy’s not as bad as all that. Or at least he wasn’t in 2009, because after two horrific seasons in St. Louis (.572 and .692 OPS’s) that nearly ended his career, he parlayed a NRI from Tampa Bay into a .289/.348/.410 line with 11 homers playing 2B and 3B in Oakland. As a lefty batter, he’s almost useless against fellow lefties, but then again Blake DeWitt – also a lefty – has a reverse split, so you could theoretically see a platoon happening here.

On the other hand, the problem with Jamey Carroll is that he can’t play shortstop, and neither can Kennedy. So that probably rules that out. Still, it didn’t stop me from getting a chill down my spine when I saw that two unnamed teams are pursuing him to be a starter.

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Finally, via Diamond Leung, Troy from West Virginia has some strong thoughts on the Russ Ortiz signing (along with a wicked beard). Hey, I can’t say I disagree with him; Ortiz is abysmal and has been completely cooked for years. Troy is probably on his way to jail, and if the things in that article are true, then his future is well deserved. Still, when a man has that much facing him and he’s still bothered by a minor-league invite to Russ Ortiz… well, it probably means you shouldn’t have signed Russ Ortiz.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suLNESmFphs]

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  1. [...] January 20: Troy from West Virginia has some strong thoughts on the Russ Ortiz signing (along with a wicked beard). Hey, I can’t say I disagree with him; Ortiz is abysmal and has been completely cooked for years. Troy is probably on his way to jail, and if the things in that article are true, then his future is well deserved. Still, when a man has that much facing him and he’s still bothered by a minor-league invite to Russ Ortiz… well, it probably means you shouldn’t have signed Russ Ortiz. [...]

  2. [...] January 20: Finally, via Diamond Leung, Troy from West Virginia has some strong thoughts on the Russ Ortiz signing (along with a wicked beard). Hey, I can’t say I disagree with him; Ortiz is abysmal and has been completely cooked for years. Troy is probably on his way to jail, and if the things in that article are true, then his future is well deserved. Still, when a man has that much facing him and he’s still bothered by a minor-league invite to Russ Ortiz… well, it probably means you shouldn’t have signed Russ Ortiz. [...]