Thanks For Reading, Bill!

Rob over at 6-4-2 brings to my attention something amazing, from Bill Plaschke’s column about Andruw Jones:

Plaschke Steals MSTI’s Gag Line

In today’s column:

“Are you saying you’re sorry?”

Are you sorry for showing up at spring training looking like a blue manatee? Sorry for not working hard enough to fix that weight? Sorry for ripping the fans who booed you for that weight? Sorry for asking to be put on the disabled list so you could disappear from those boos?

Funny, I coulda sworn I’d heard that before… where was it now? Oh, yeah.

Oh, Bill. I never knew you felt that way about me. After all the times I’ve pointed out just how bad you are at your job on this site, I never imagined you actually cared to read the thoughts of, well, someone who uses more than one sentence in a paragraph. Fine, it might not be as egregious as when Scout.com literally plagarized FireNedCollettiNow, but surely the use of the term “blue manatee” can’t be a coincidence, right? Not after I made a Photoshop of an enormous blue manatee to represent Jones? Especially when I made the joke above not because we ever called Andruw Jones a whale, but because the nickname “Hindenburg” had stuck due to both his resemblence to a blimp and the fact that his explosion injured nearly as many people?

Bill, I appreciate your readership. The invoice will be in the mail shortly.

On to far, far more important things, Jon Heyman has some rumors about Dodger third baseman:

There was talk at Dodgers camp that the Yankees might have interest in excellent contact hitter Mark Loretta, who could upgrade their third base situation.

Cashman wants to guard against an overpay, and opposing teams will be looking to take advantage of the Yankees’ situation. Blake DeWitt is another Dodger who would make sense, but one Dodgers person suggested L.A. might want young pitcher Phil Hughes for DeWitt — which definitely would qualify as an overpay. The Yankees would likely be willing to trade USC product Ian Kennedy but not Hughes, who’s having an excellent spring.

First, let me say that I find all of this incredibly unlikely. As a free agent signed this offseason, Loretta would have to give his consent to be traded before June. I’m not sure I can see a local boy who finally made his way to the Dodgers agreeing to be moved to New York to start for a few weeks just to sit on the bench when A-Rod returns. Besides, even if he did want to go, the Yankees surely wouldn’t want to give up all that much for a 37-year-old stopgap who’s miscast as a starter. Since Loretta is actually pretty valuable to the Dodgers as a backup at all four infield positions and a lefty-masher, whatever the Yankees would be willing to give up probably wouldn’t be worth it. So, scratch that.

iankennedy.jpgAs for DeWitt, well, I’d do DeWitt-for-Hughes in a heartbeat. But the Yankees never would, so we can drop that right now. Ian Kennedy’s an interesting proposition, though. A USC product and a former first-round pick, he’s been dominant in the minors (1.99 career ERA with more than a K per inning!) and got off to a hot start in his 2007 MLB debut, allowing just 4 earned runs in 19 innings. Of course, he got torched when pushed into the rotation in 2008 (8.19 ERA in 39.2 innings). Since he was still pretty good back in the minors (2.35 ERA), I’m willing to chalk that up to a 23-year-old who wilted under the pressure of his first real test in New York City.

Kennedy’s still just 24, and those minor league stats really impress me. And to be honest, while I really like Blake DeWitt, I do think that Dodger fans have overrated his potential slightly just because of how amazing his out-of-nowhere 2008 was. I do think he can be a solid regular, but I really don’t see him being an All-Star. I might say the same for Kennedy, but wouldn’t you rather a solid starting prospect than a solid infield prospect?

The other issue is one of depth. Even with the loss of Ivan DeJesus, Jr., to a broken leg, the Dodgers have plenty of middle infield depth between Loretta, Chin-Lung Hu, Tony Abreu, and perhaps even Juan Castro and Hector Luna, so losing DeWitt’s contributions at second base isn’t an issue. At third base, there’s a nice crop of youngsters coming up like Josh Bell and Pedro Baez, but none who would be ready this year if something were to happen to Casey Blake. If DeWitt were moved and something happened to Blake, you’d likely be looking at Loretta or Abreu playing every day, which isn’t a great situation.

On the other hand, an all 25-and-under group of Billingsley/Kershaw/McDonald/Kennedy, plus Kuroda or another veteran, in 2010 is drool-worthy. I think this is one of those deals I’d be okay with either way – if Kennedy gets added to the crop of pitchers, that’s great and I wouldn’t be crushed at losing DeWitt, and if not, it’s not like I’m dying for Kennedy anyway and then we’d still have DeWitt. But I would probably go ahead and do it, were this offer actually on the table.

Finally, yes, I have heard that Pedro Martinez is interested in coming back to the Dodgers, and no, I’m not all that interested. Yes, it would be nice to bring him back home after all the pain that was caused by the historically bad deal that sent him to Montreal in 1994, but that was fifteen years ago. He’s hardly the same player, and while I wouldn’t object to giving him a look, I do object to the two things he wants: a guaranteed rotation spot, which we don’t have considering that Jason Schmidt is the guaranteed #5 if he’s healthy, and a “Smoltz-like” contract of $5.5m guaranteed with $5.5m in incentives. If he’s willing to work for half of that, say, the possibility of getting to $5.5m total if he gets all his incentives, I might have interest. But even then, that’s still high and he might not sign for that little anyway. So, no.

You really can’t go home again.

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