Report: Dodgers to Sign Chris Capuano to a 2/$10m Deal

Per Jim Bowden, and now picked up by several others, the Dodgers are closing in on a 2/$10m deal with lefty Chris Capuano to join the starting rotation. This likely means that there is absolutely no chance that Hiroki Kuroda returns, which is simply fantastic, because now the rotation is worse than it was in 2011 yet the Dodgers were unable to get anything in return for Kuroda departing.

I could do analysis on this signing, but I basically did that already yesterday, pointing out that Capuano had a surprisingly decent 2011 despite a massive longball problem that rendered him all but unplayable outside the forgiving CitiField, so let’s get right to the jokes. Of which there are many.

Eric Stephen, TrueBlueLA:

Would rather have Kuroda back and have the Dodgers literally sign nobody else this offseason than what they have done

Kevin Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus:

I’m far more offended by any team giving Chris Capuano decent coin than a closer contract.

Chris St. John, Steal of Home:

Was expecting 1-2 years, 3-4 million. 2/10 is so bad

Now I’ll say this for Capuano, he’s not an awful guy to have at the back of your rotation. Dinger rate aside, he was able to miss some bats last year, and while 2/$10m sounds like a lot for a mediocre guy in his 30s with two zippers on his elbow, that’s really the going rate. Bruce Chen got basically the same deal, don’t forget, and I like Capuano better than Chen. For a team that absolutely had to sign someone, this contract isn’t awful, and Capuano can only be helped by Dodger Stadium and the big ballparks of San Diego & San Francisco. The alternatives are atrocious, you need to fill out your rotation with someone, and apparently you like Ted Lilly so much that you need someone just like him. In a vacuum, I don’t hate this deal as much as you’d think; in fact, the more I think about it, the more I like it. So this is all fine.

…or at least it would be, if Capuano was joining along with Kuroda to be the fifth starter, not essentially replacing him. Capuano is not Kuroda’s equal or anything close to it, so what you’ve done is downgrade the overall rotation, when it absolutely didn’t have to be this way. Just look at Ned Colletti’s comment to Ken Gurnick in Gurnick’s preview of the Winter Meetings, which is what today’s post was originally going to be about, before the Capuano news saved Gurnick from my light-hearted jabbing that he’s claiming Mike MacDougal had “a season worthy of Comeback Player of the Year honors”.

All that’s left on his frugal shopping list is an affordable replacement in the starting rotation for Hiroki Kuroda, a utility infielder like Jerry Hairston Jr. and a veteran, versatile, durable reliever.

“It’s become increasingly difficult to fit [Kuroda] in financially at this point, unless somebody gets more creative,” Colletti said.

I don’t want to keep on beating this dead horse, but “creative”? Here’s creative, how about don’t give Juan Rivera the ludicrous sum of $4.5m? How about not handing Juan Uribe & Matt Guerrier over $30m last winter? How about thinking before bringing in Adam Kennedy, and not that $800k is a lot of money, but that roster spot is now more expensive and worse than it’d have been with an internal option. Where’s your “advanced quantitative analysis” now, Ned? You cut back on some of those stupid, needless moves, and you can bring back Kuroda and still sign Capuano as your #5, which would have been perfectly acceptable. (To say nothing of the inability to bring in a bigger fish like a Prince Fielder, because while the ownership mess is bringing down payroll, it’s not like this club is operating on a $45m Pirates-esque budget here.)

Again, this isn’t a terrible deal on its own, nor is a 2/$10m contract so large that it’s singlehandedly a disaster. It’s just yet more evidence that this team could have been so much better over the last six seasons if Colletti had simply kicked back, cracked open a beer, and done absolutely nothing at all – and it’s why when people ask me if I’m excited that Frank McCourt is finally going to sell, I say “sure I am, but mostly because a new owner usually means a new front office.”

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