Improving the 2014 Dodgers: Starting Pitching

billingsley_insandiego_2013-04-10

 Hey, remember that guy?

The third in a five-part look at 2014 areas of need, which we started with second base and third base and will conclude with the bullpen and bench…

The Incumbents: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, & Hyun-jin Ryu are obviously all going to be back, and make for a pretty nice trio. Chad Billingsley (Tommy John surgery) should be ready relatively early in the season, but can’t really be counted on. Josh Beckett (thoracic outlet syndrome) is also on the road back, but he’ll be 34 and his last four seasons have been terrible (2010), surprisingly good (2011), mediocre (2012), and terrible/injured (2013). You wonder if either or both end up working out of the bullpen. Free agent Ricky Nolasco was a nice addition after coming over from Miami in July, and would probably love to return. Chris Capuano will be a free agent when the team declines his 2014 option, and late season addition Edinson Volquez is a free agent as well.

Organizational Options: Matt Magill & Stephen Fife each saw time in the bigs in 2013, and provide good depth to have on hand even if none of us wants to see them any more than absolutely necessary. Zach Lee is probably just about ready for a shot in 2014, Chris Reed may not be far behind, though I still believe his future is in the bullpen, and Ross Stripling could be a possibility later in the year.

I think we learned this year that there’s no such thing as too much pitching, so the play here is probably to add at least one more starter, then let Beckett / Billingsley / Fife / Magill / Lee variously fill out the fifth spot as needed.

Trade Options: Will we ever stop hearing about Cliff Lee trade rumors? Probably not, especially when the Phillies look to be on the downturn. Yovani Gallardo could likely be had, but his declining velocity is a concern, and while I’ve long liked Brett Anderson, rumored to be on the block, he’s just constantly injured. I imagine the Brewers would be thrilled to move Kyle Lohse, also, but no thanks.

The big name out there is David Price, of course, and the Dodgers will likely be connected to him all winter. I can’t argue that the idea of adding Price to Kershaw, Greinke, & Ryu is just beyond absurd, but if the Rays were able to pry Wil Myers and more away from Kansas City for a lesser pitcher in James Shields, I can’t imagine what they get for Price — probably more than the Dodgers have to offer, unless you really want to give up Corey Seager, Joc Pederson, Zach Lee, and Julio Urias, and even then maybe that’s not enough. In a similar vein, might the Tigers make Max Scherzer available? He’s headed into his final year before free agency and will likely have a Cy Young in his pocket. The price will be massive, of course, but worth considering.

Free Agent Options: Nolasco, of course, and we’re familiar with him at this point. There’s no shortage of names here, really. Matt Garza is probably the biggest, and wouldn’t require draft pick compensation since he was traded to Texas (where he was disappointing) during the season. Hiroki Kuroda is coming off yet another very good season as he starts his usual dance of “Yankees or California or Japan,” and assuming New York extends him a qualifying offer, I again have no interest in losing a first-round pick for him at age 39. There’s an interesting group of formerly-great starters who could probably be gambled upon for short-term deals, like Josh Johnson, Dan Haren, Johan Santana, or Roy Halladay. (I’m convinced the latter two are cooked, though.)

There’s more. Ubaldo Jimenez shook off a few down years to have a very good season for Cleveland, and might be in line for something like 4/$50m; Ervin Santana also turned his career around in Kansas City and should be an interesting case. Bartolo Colon will be 41 and is just about impossible to predict, but you can’t deny his success in Oakland; Similarly, I have absolutely no idea what to think about Scott Kazmir. And there’s tons of back-end guys like Scott Feldman, Bruce Chen, Bronson ArroyoJason Hammel, Phil Hughes, Paul Maholm, Mike Pelfrey, & Jason Vargas. Finally, we talked about Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka yesterday, who should be on the Dodger radar.

The Verdict? The more I think about Tanaka, the more I like him, and I hope the Dodgers get him. But the more I think about him, I think the Yankees just have to come away with him, because they have a mess of a rotation and dollars to spend, even as they try to stick under $189m. Since the posting fee won’t count towards that, it makes all the sense in the world for them to go all-out. If they do, I think we’ll hear the Dodgers be connected in trade rumors for Price, but won’t see anything come of it, and then probably surprise us all by signing both Nolasco and someone like Garza or Haren. It won’t matter, though; We’ll still see Fife by May 15. We always will.

1305 comments
Onedodgerssportsfan
Onedodgerssportsfan

Sign David Price and Masahiro Tanaka, resign Wilson in the bull pen unload Carl Crawford, Bring up Corey Seager to play third and Joc Pederson.

StephenDimig
StephenDimig

Bills is better than Nolasco. WHy can't he be relied upon again? Is it just the TJ surgery? Lots of guys come back from that.

systemguy
systemguy

I love Samuel Adams seasonal beers..that ja al

efb
efb

TONIGHT WAS FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Blue_Waffles
Blue_Waffles

Has anyone had a Wexford Irish cream ale? Is it similar to Kilkenny?

Lobo
Lobo

So Captain Phillips is yet another feather in the cap of Tom Hanks.  And the guy who played the lead Somali pirate, Barkhad Abdi, was terrific.  Would love to see him get a Supporting Actor nomination

Kewldood69
Kewldood69

Sipping on a Pumpkin Barley Wine...interesting.

KMT59
KMT59

Monster University is now over...time to try to put my son to sleep...hope it works because I'm tired

Dang88
Dang88

Kinda interesting my sis is friends with Jesse Chavez from the A's, he is the only player drafted in his round (42nd) to make it to the majors, lucky bastard

ABSmileBunch
ABSmileBunch

who on here suggested the movie Pelotero the other day? 

efb
efb

what the fuck, where is everyone? it's friday not fuckin christmas

TaintsnifferMcGillicutty
TaintsnifferMcGillicutty

I heard Blah was actually Amish............and he's on that show "Vanilla Ice goes Amish".......

KMT59
KMT59

just put in Monster University...One good thing about off-season

DBrim
DBrim moderator

That Dominican baseball stream just showed the crowd dance cam. That was pretty great.

Lobo
Lobo

@KMT59 Loved Monsters University so much

BIah
BIah

@efb it's Friday night, you answered your own question :P

ABSmileBunch
ABSmileBunch

@BingeSquinger @ABSmileBunch Great documentary! Now I'd like Sano to tear the league up, become a huge star, and get alllll the money from someone. 

'Sugar' is fictional, but it's a good companion to Pelotero, it explores what happens to many of these players once their in the US. 

Finally, have you read the book 'The Eastern Stars' by Mark Kurlanski? Great book on these same issues. 

InsideThePark (Ethier, Kemp, Puig)
InsideThePark (Ethier, Kemp, Puig)

someone said his view of Rally Bear went down because he went to both the Dodgers AND Angels for the job? I completely disagree with that view. I mean, that's how committed he was to being a mascot, he even solicited the Angels.