If Wednesday night’s loss to Colorado was indeed the final start as a Dodger for Hiroki Kuroda, it came in the most appropriate fashion possible: six innings of one-run ball, twice as many strikeouts (six) as walks (three)… and yet another loss, since the inept Dodger offense couldn’t be bothered to put a run on the board until Rod Barajas‘ solo homer with one out in the ninth. (On a side note, another strike for pitcher W/L records; Kuroda, Blake Hawksworth, and Mike MacDougal all allowed the same damage of one earned run. Kuroda allowed that much over six innings, while Hawksworth did it in one and MacDougal in one and a third. Yet Kuroda is the one with the blemish on his record. Uh, okay.)
That inspired Jon Weisman to pass along this astonishing note:
Since May 22, Kuroda is 1-10 with a 3.38 ERA.
Unbelievable. Let’s take a look at that stretch of games…
Five times he allowed fewer than two earned runs, and still came away with the loss. In fact, the only two times in that entire stretch where he didn’t come down with an L were the two games in which he was essentially perfect – seven scoreless innings on June 19 against Houston (which didn’t even get him a win), and seven more scoreless innings on July 1 against the Angels.
And yet, from all we’ve heard, Kuroda has little interest in being freed from this trap, despite rumors that interest from the Red Sox and Yankees (in addition to the Rangers, Brewers, Indians, and Tigers) is growing. Kuroda’s comments to MLB.com show little inclination of a man preparing to leave town:
“My honest feeling is that I can’t fathom wearing another uniform than the Dodgers uniform right now,” Kuroda said through a translator. “I never thought about it, and it’s really hard to think.”
That may be, but Kuroda holds all the power in a potential deal, meaning he could have come out weeks ago and said he flat-out didn’t want to be traded.
“I haven’t really decided on anything, so I can’t really give you an answer,” Kuroda said. “Today I was wearing a Dodgers uniform, and I was playing here, to win, for this team. I have a few days before the Trade Deadline, so I’m going to think about it, I’m going to talk to my agent about it, and we’ll go on from there.”
Of course, Kuroda is a notoriously private person in the public eye, so it’s not in his personality to say anything that would take his focus away from the next start or even the next pitch. As the deadline nears, it’s becoming clear that the best thing for the Dodgers is to see him elsewhere. Whenever the Yankees and Red Sox are in on the same player, that can only mean good things for the seller, particularly since the Yankee rotation behind CC Sabathia continues to be a mess as Phil Hughes struggles to regain his form, and the injury concerns for Boston’s Clay Buchholz are growing.
Besides the big two, Milwaukee’s interest in working with the Dodgers may have only grown since second baseman Rickie Weeks injured his ankle last night. That, plus the death knells of Craig Counsell‘s career (0 for his last 43 [!!!]), the struggles of Casey McGehee, and Yuniesky Betancourt being Yuniesky Betancourt means that the Brewers ought to be in hard on Jamey Carroll, or even Rafael Furcal – or both. And Detroit and Cleveland are both rumored to still be extremely interested in adding Kuroda.
Clearly, it’s best for the Dodgers that Kuroda move on; depending on who they get back, it would help for the future, and in the short term, it’s not like Dana Eveland or John Ely couldn’t lose games as regularly as Kuroda has been. Professionally, it’s certainly best for Kuroda, who would go to a team that isn’t a total embarrassment and offer him a chance to play in October. It’s the personal issue that is the sticking block, though one would think that going on a two-month road trip before being free to choose whether to return to Los Angeles or even Japan wouldn’t be so much as to scuttle the entire idea.
With 3 days left before the deadline, I’m putting the odds at 70/30 that Kuroda stays in Los Angeles. Prove me wrong, Hiroki (and Ned). Prove me wrong.