For Dodgers, Lack of International Spending Is Beginning to Show

Regular posting will resume next week. For now, a thought…

With the starting rotation of Clayton Kershaw / Chad Billingsley / Ted Lilly / Aaron Harang / Chris Capuano all but set, Nathan Eovaldi & John Ely likely the main reserves, and the possibility of other minor leaguers like Allen Webster, Michael Antonini, or Zach Lee arriving at some point at well, the Dodger starting group looks like it could have a decidedly American and Caucasian feel.

If that seems unusual for the Dodgers, well, it is. If it holds, this would be the first time since the 1980 staff featured Jerry Reuss, Bob Welch, Burt Hooton, Don Sutton, and three others that the Dodgers have had all of their starts made by American natives. 19-year-old Mexican Fernando Valenzuela made ten relief appearances that year and would start at least one game for the club in each year from 1981-90, by which time Dominican Ramon Martinez was on the scene; Martinez was a Dodger through 1998 and was followed by starters from all over the world, like Chan Ho Park, Odalis Perez, Kazuhisa Ishii, Hiroki Kuroda, and Vicente Padilla. Considering the Dodgers were once known for their diverse “United Nations” rotation in the mid-1990s with Martinez, Park, Hideo Nomo, and Ismael Valdes – in 1996, those four plus Pedro Astacio made 135 of 162 starts, with Tom Candiotti taking the rest – it’s a surprising turnaround.

In and of itself, this isn’t a problem, because Kershaw is one of the best in the game and the other four are all legitimate (if overpriced) rotation options; besides, this wouldn’t even be a discussion if financial concerns hadn’t prevented Kuroda’s return and if Rubby De La Rosa hadn’t blown out his elbow last season. (Other than a trade, the slim possibility of de la Rosa returning late in the season is probably the most likely chance of keeping the streak alive.) Of course, since one of the many sins of the Frank McCourt era is that the Dodgers have become one of the most stingy teams in international spending after years of leading in that area, it’s hard not to notice.

The Americanization of the current team goes beyond just the starting rotation, because of the current 40-man roster, only seven players are from outside North America (and yes, I’m saying “North” because Blake Hawksworth is Canadian) – Ramon Troncoso, Kenley Jansen, Ivan DeJesus, Juan Uribe, Trent Oeltjen, Juan Rivera, and Alfredo Silverio. That could increase by one if Ronald Belisario actually makes it back, but it’s also unlikely that Troncoso, DeJesus, Oeltjen, or Silverio make the 25-man roster or have any impact on the 2012 club. Just as random point of comparison, the 2008 team had 14 players who weren’t from the United States or Canada.

Again, that’s hardly a scandal or something that seemed planned, and does feel as though it’s a direct impact of the lack of funding for international scouting. (Nor is it really a racial issue, especially on a team that will give considerable playing time to African-Americans Matt Kemp, James Loney, Dee Gordon, Jerry Hairston, and Tony Gwynn.) But what was once an important talent pipeline has seemingly dried up, as evidenced by the fact that only four of the top 20 prospects recently listed at Minor League Ball are from outside North America. If the Dodgers are to return to prominence – once, you know, the criminal is gone – refunding international scouting needs to be a top priority.



  1. [...] Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness thinks the Dodgers’ lack of investment in foreign players under McCourt has begun to [...]

  2. [...] Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness: Mike Petriello highlights what the lack of international spending has cost the Dodgers. [...]

  3. [...] given how little they’ve spent in the draft and even worse in international signings. (Mike Scioscias Tragic Illness has a great article on this disturbing trend) They seem to have a legitimate above average major [...]

  4. [...] read an interesting post awhile back by Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness about the Dodgers and their current lack of international talent.  Spending by the team that [...]

  5. [...] players. It seems like we have gone away from that under the previous ownership. According to MSTI this lack of international spending has been trending downward for a while [...]

  6. [...] not just in the traditional free agent market either. As Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness pointed out a month ago, the money spent on international players has dropped considerably. [...]

  7. [...] have we ever heard the Dodgers involved. Of course, those were the Frank McCourt Dodgers – the ones with a shameful record of international spending – and these are the Guggenheim Dodgers, the ones led by Stan Kasten, who has been clear about [...]

  8. [...] that means that the Dodgers really are going to make 2012 their first season in over three decades in which every single start was made by American pitchers. (Rubby De La Rosa, who was already all but certain to be used as a reliever this year anyway, is [...]

  9. [...] that means that the Dodgers really are going to make 2012 their first season in over three decades in which every single start was made by American pitchers. [...]

  10. [...] As I went into detail about in late December, the shameful record of international spending during the Frank McCourt era has caused a variety of wide-reaching problems for the team over the last few years, as the team had simply stopped trying to compete for high-end talent outside America. Not only were there very few international players on the 40-man roster, but the likely 2012 starting rotation – Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang, & Ted Lilly to begin and Nathan Eovaldi & John Ely in reserve – was entirely North American & Caucasian, a rarity in today’s game. [...]