Claudio Vargas, Really?

I’m not entirely sure I remember writing this on Twitter late last night, but apparently I did:

I could have sworn I just saw dodgers.com say Claudio Vargas may be the 5th starter soon. Clearly, I have alcohol poisoning.

Well, at least it was legible and without typos. And apparently it’s true:

Vargas could take over fifth-starter role

BOSTON — The Dodgers’ fifth-starter shell game has a new/old name in play: Claudio Vargas.

In his first start for Triple-A Albuquerque on Thursday night, the right-hander allowed one run on a solo home run in three innings, with four strikeouts and no walks.

Vargas was signed earlier in the week, two weeks after being cut loose by Milwaukee, where he had a 7.32 ERA in 17 relief appearances. The three innings was his longest outing of the year, an indication the Dodgers will try to stretch him out and make him a starter again.

I think the only indication here is that the rotation is in serious trouble, hurt by the injury to Chad Billingsley and the poor outings of John Ely and Carlos Monasterios – and that’s without having any idea how Vicente Padilla will do in his return today. I guess I don’t really understand why people are all that surprised Monasterios struggled last night; he’s a Rule 5 pick who’s striking out just 4.1/9. The fact that he’s been able to stick in the big leagues without completely embarrassing himself, and with some small successes, is remarkable in itself. It says far more about the Dodgers that he’s been asked to start so much than it does about him.

As for Vargas, well, why not? I actually was sad to see him go last season, mostly because the trade made no sense at all. It’s not like he’d come up until he shows he can get hitters out at AAA, so that’s at least a few more turns of the rotation.

Really, I think people are looking at the problem here in the wrong way. The issue isn’t really whether guys like Ely, Vargas, or Monasterios can pitch like All-Stars. They’re your #5 starter, and there’s plenty of teams in the bigs who have even larger issues at the back of the rotation. No, the problem is having more than one of them in the rotation at the same time. Now, part of that will be helped when Billingsley returns, hopefully as soon as his 15 days are up. But if and until Padilla proves himself… well, everyone seems to want the Dodgers to get a Cliff Lee or a Roy Oswalt. I’m not going to go through the reasons again why they’re so unlikely; we’ve been through that. But even if the Dodgers were able to get one of those guys, it likely wouldn’t be for another month. Maybe what they ought to be doing is getting a lesser veteran who wouldn’t cost as much – sort of like Jon Garland last year – right now, just to solidify things.

And no, I’m not talking about Pedro Martinez. I want someone who’s actually pitched this year. I’m talking more along the lines of (and I’m just tossing names out without really looking into salary concerns or doing a ton of research) Kevin Millwood or Jake Westbrook. They’re certainly not the piece that’ll push you to a championship, but they may be the stabilizing force in the middle of the rotation that will keep things from imploding until Billinglsey is healthy and you can work on getting a top starter.

(Although if you really want a good laugh, go read some of the jokers on the Dodger Facebook page, replying to the Vargas story. I’m not sure how some of these people managed to even turn their computer on; I particularly like the suggestion that the Dodgers should trade Vargas to Florida for Josh Johnson.)

Of course, Tony Jackson has the perfect last word on the situation:

Even when he is ready to go, well, he is still going to be Claudio Vargas.

Yep. He sure is.

******

Ramon Troncoso got rocked, again. Travis Schlichting was effective, again. Whether you think Troncoso’s problems are that Torre ran him into the ground, that he was never that good in the first place, or both, there’s a roster move to be made today to activate Padilla, and it makes no sense to keep Troncoso over Schlichting. I’m not saying you demote Troncoso, but at least come up with an injury to get him some time off and away from the mound.

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I’m sure some people will read this as arrogance, but these anecdotes from Jackson’s story on Manny make me think that Matt Kemp is just hilarious:

Before any of the real reporters could approach him, a phony one did. Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp, holding his blue batting-practice bat like a microphone, immediately stuck it into Ramirez’s face and said, “How does it feel to be back in Boston?”

Ramirez gave Kemp about as much time as he was going to give anyone. After Kemp returned to the other side of the clubhouse, which was about seven feet away, he yelled at the assembled media, “Manny smells good today. If y’all get close enough, you can smell him.”

and…

When Ramirez stepped out of the cage after taking his first allotment of hacks, he received another loud cheer. Kemp, who had followed Ramirez into the cage, who had his right back pocket hanging out of his uniform pants and who, like Ramirez, was helmetless, stopped after one swing and turned to wave an acknowledgement to the crowd, feigning as if he thought the ovation was for him.

No complaints about immaturity, old people. That’s good clean fun.

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Yes, I saw that Garret Anderson hit a homer last night, and yes, it is making me reconsider the DFA-o-meter on the right sidebar, though not for the reasons you’d think. I still think he’s awful and want him to get cut, but since I don’t think the team will ever actually do it, I’m not sure I feel like updating it for the entire season.

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Hey, Nick Green signed with Toronto. Hooray! Gone for good.

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