Start Spreading the News…

With the season headed downhill and the trading deadline only six weeks away, it’s only natural that other teams would start to wonder if the Dodgers are going to be buyers or sellers. Personally, I think it’s too early to make that determination, but I can’t deny that there’s not a whole lot of time left to figure out if this team is ever going to get it going this year.

In that spirit, I’ve come across two separate trade ideas involving the Dodgers, one for each New York team. I hesitate to call these “rumors” because it seems that each of these articles is just the author speculating, but here’s the fun part. One proposal is from a “mainstream media” source, and the other is from a fan blogsite much like this one. One proposal is reasonable and well-thought out… and the other one is written by the New York Post. Point: blogs.  

Let’s start with the crazy one!

But the Mets should see which teams that need a big-time center fielder and/or run producer such as the White Sox, Cubs, Cardinals and Dodgers, and maybe even the Yanks and Red Sox, would give up for Carlos Beltran. With the Dodgers, the Mets might need to take back a Juan Pierre or Andruw Jones to balance contracts/center fielders, but if that allowed the Mets to get the Dodgers to consider building a package around James Loney, Matt Kemp and/or Chad Billingsley, they should consider it.

This is a good one already. I particularly like the part where if the Dodgers build an offer around Loney, Kemp, and/or Billingsley, the Mets should consider it. Hey, there’s no question that Beltran is miles better than either Jones or Pierre, but after the rest of his $18.5 million for 2008, he makes that again for the next 3 years – $55.5 million remaining, or $11.5 more than the entire value of Pierre’s contract. Beltran is, of course, a very good player, but at 31 he might already be in decline – his slugging % is down for the third year in a row, as are his homers (after 41 in 2006 and 33 last year, he’s got only 8 this year). Also to keep in mind: he had surgery on each of his knees this past offseason. But ignore that, the Dodgers should definitely give up one of the top young power hitters in baseball, a good young first baseman, and a young power pitcher who is ostensibly already the ace of our staff for a sore-kneed veteran who makes about 50 times what they do combined.

Wait, scratch that: this proposal might be insane, but it’s exactly the sort of thing a desperate GM on the hot seat might do to save his skin. Man, I hope Ned Colletti doesn’t read the New York Post.

Onto something much more palatable, Yankees blog Was Watching wonders if the Yankees might have interest in Derek Lowe:

If Chien-Ming Wang’s injury does turn out to be season-ending, I wonder if the Yankees will try and make a run at picking up Derek Lowe in a trade?

Lowe will be a free agent at the end of the season – so, there’s some incentive for the Dodgers to shop him. Plus, the Dodgers are 31-38 right now and appear to be going nowhere this year.

Lowe is durable – he never misses a start, and, if I recall correctly, he’s never been on the disabled list. He’s played in Boston and L.A. – so, he’s not going to melt in New York with all the media coverage here.

Now this, I can get behind. I think Lowe’s been incredibly underrated in his time in LA, but he just turned 35 and as a Scott Boras client, is likely to demand a multiyear deal for big dollars – exactly the kind of contract for an older player the Dodgers shouldn’t be handing out right now. If the Dodgers decide to be sellers, he’s exactly the kind of player who should be moved and would probably have good value for a contender, based on his track record.

What would it take to get Lowe from the Dodgers? Well, hopefully Joe Torre is high on Ian Kennedy. If so, that would be a great starting point for any discussion. Maybe Cashman can even play up to “Kennedy was big at U.S.C.” angle on this one? If L.A. wants another starter, how about throwing in Kei Igawa? I doubt that Torre wants him. But, hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Shoot, throw in La Troy Hawkins while you’re at it.

But, in addition to Kennedy, the Dodgers are going to want someone else as well. Torre would probably love to get Robinson Cano – with Jeff Kent being 40-years old and at the end of the line. However, there’s no way that Cashman would trade Kennedy and Cano for three months of Lowe.

First of all – no, no, noto Kei Igawa. I’ve seen him pitch a few times, and he’s just not an MLB-quality pitcher. $12 million over the next three years to a 29-year-old guy with a 6.75 career ERA? No thanks. Ian Kennedy, however, is another story. He struggled mightly in 8 starts in the Bronx this year, but he’s only 23 and has been dominant in the minors (13-3, 1.77 ERA career). Besides being a local boy, he was a 1st round pick in 2006 – 15 picks behind Clayton Kershaw. He was terrible this year for the Yankees (7.41 ERA), but it’d hardly be the first time that a young pitcher was rushed before he was ready.

As for Cano, I’d do him for Lowe straight up – his unbelievably lousy 2008 aside. This kid can hit, but as the Yankee blog stated, it’s unlikely he’s getting dealt.

If the Dodgers want a second baseman for the future, maybe they would have an interest in Kevin Russo? Perhaps New York could also sweeten the pot by “throwing in” a pitching prospect like George Kontos?

I’ve never heard of either of these guys, but neither of them made Baseball Prospectus’ list of Top 11 Yankees prospects (plus 4 “just missed”) from this past offseason. They’re both 23, and in AA, and while their 2008 stats look okay (Russo: .303/.362/.439, Kontos: 3.39 ERA/1.26 WHIP), neither of them really thrill me all that much.

How is this for a deal? Ian Kennedy, George Kontos, Kevin Russo and either Kei Igawa or La Troy Hawkins for Derek Lowe. Personally, I think that’s a fair offer – there’s no way that L.A. would see that as an insult. And, if Wang is done for the season, it’s a trade that the Yankees can afford to make – in terms of what they’re giving up and what’s left in their system.

That is indeed a fair offer. For three months of Derek Lowe, we would get one plus pitching prospect who’s close to being MLB-ready, and two young AA players who seem to be producing, but who I admittedly know nothing else about. I can’t say whether or not I would take it without knowing more about Kontos and Russo, but I would definitely be interested in Ian Kennedy. I wouldn’t take back Hawkins or Igawa, though – the Yankees aren’t in the business of salary dumps, and I would think that if they really want a reliable veteran starter like Lowe, refusing to take back the dreck of those two probably isn’t a deal-breaker.

The real question, though, is whether the Dodgers ought to insist on a young hitter rather than a pitcher as the centerpiece of a deal. Clearly, pitching isn’t the problem – offense is, so it may not be smart to spend a valuable trade chip like Lowe – should we choose to go in that direction – on not getting a hitter.

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg