Jake Peavy: Do Not Want

jake_peavy.jpgIf you’re like me, your first thoughts upon seeing that Jake Peavy is on the verge of being sent to the Chicago White Sox were, “Whoa! A big time deal! Early in the season for that!” followed by “Well, there’s no reason to keep Adrian Gonzalez too, I guess,” and finally, “Geez, without Peavy and Gonzalez that team might win 30 games.” (Yes, some are now calling it unlikely to be completed. Regardless, this doesn’t change my opinion).

Here’s what I did not think: “Hey, the Dodgers could use an ace starter, so why isn’t he coming to LA?” The reason is this: you do not want Jake Peavy.

First of all, he’s just not as good as people think he is. That’s not to say he’s bad, not at all, but is he really worth the money and talent it’d take to get him? I was going to go through a whole thing of exploring his home/road splits, but Dave Cameron over at FanGraphs already has it explained:

For his career, Peavy has a 3.73 K/BB rate at Petco, and he’s allowed one home run every 56.3 plate appearances while pitching at home. On the road, his K/BB is 2.54, and he allows one home run every 30.8 plate appearances. The vast expanse of the outfield in San Diego not only turns long fly balls into outs, but it allows Peavy to be more aggressive with his pitch selection and challenge hitters with pitches he can’t get away with in stadiums that aren’t as forgiving. Away from Petco, hitters have put up a .245/.316/.419 line against him, which certainly isn’t bad, but also isn’t ace-like.

Here’s the real take-home quote from that piece, though:

If I was a White Sox fan, I’d be hoping Peavy nukes this deal.

Jake Peavy, outside of Petco: good, but not great; and smart baseball fans shouldn’t want their team to give up a ton of talent for him. Keep this in mind, because it’s about to become very important, as I answer your other question, which is why I’m turning a Padres/White Sox trade rumor into a Dodger discussion. The reason for that is… Ned Colletti & Kevin Towers have had discussions recently over what it’d take to get Peavy to Los Angeles – and hold on to your pants.

Thanks to Harpo over at the BBWC for pointing me in the direction of today’s edition of the Dan Patrick Show, in which Ned admitted that he’d talked to Towers in the last month about it. Towers’ asking price? Three members of the Dodgers 25-man roster, plus “a strong prospect”.

What, exactly, does that mean? I think it’s safe to assume that Chad Billingsley isn’t part of the conversation, because he’s better than Peavy is right now. Obviously Russell Martin can’t be moved, and the Padres would have no interest in veterans like Rafael Furcal, Orlando Hudson, Casey Blake, Juan Pierre, etc. But three guys off the 25-man? Is that something along the lines of Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp, & Ramon Troncoso? Or perhaps Scott Elbert, depending on when the conversation took place? And then a “strong prospect” meaning… Andrew Lambo? Ivan DeJesus? Blake DeWitt?

Plus, don’t forget the money. Peavy is owed $52m between 2010-12, which isn’t all that bad, but there’s also a $22 million 2013 option, which you have to imagine he’d insist upon being picked up in order to approve any deal.

So, yeah, I’d like to see the Dodgers get a top starting pitcher this summer, and I like that Colletti is at least doing his due diligence. But for what it sounds like Peavy is going to cost, and for a pitcher who’s half as good away from his home field… no thanks. 

This Is Why This Team Might Be So Dangerous

Future Hall of Famer Manny Ramirez and All-Star Russell Martin, arguably the team’s two most potent hitters, combined to go 0-6 with two walks. How many Dodger teams would have seen their chances of victory completely disappear if their top two hitters didn’t contribute, especially with Dodger-killer Jake Peavy on the mound? Just the thought of lineups that included Cesar Izturis, Dave Roberts, and Juan Pierre every day makes my eyes bleed.

But not this team, on this night, and one has to hope that this is a sign for the rest of the season. Tonight, we saw how strong this lineup is going to be 1-8 – there’s no weak links here. Well, except for Casey Blake, who struck out three times in going 0-4. But that can’t keep up, right? Right?

Tonight’s not a night for focusing on the bad, so let’s look at the good:

Matt Kemp is going to be a monster. What’s more impressive? The blast he hit out to dead center vs. Peavy, or the diving catch in the 6th inning that prevented the ensuing rally from getting any worse? For some reason, people seem to think that Kemp can’t handle center, but we’ve always said that his inexperience was the cause of any issues out there. Besides for the homer, Kemp only struck out once against one of the best pitchers in baseball – and drew a walk, too. Remember when we had Pierre or Andruw Jones in center? Yeah, me neither.

wadepumpsfist.jpgCory Wade has balls of steel.
After Kuroda began to falter in the 6th, Wade entered with the bases loaded and a two-run lead, with Kevin Kouzmanoff at the plate. If the Padres were going to have a prayer, this was going to be it, and after rumors of arm soreness this spring, it wasn’t hard to question Wade here. Kouzmanoff grounded weakly back to Wade, and that was really that for the Padres offense. That’s exactly the kind of situation that could have spiraled out of control for the Dodgers in previous years, and Wade locking it down may have been the biggest moment of the game. 

James Loney is going to be better than last year. Not that he was bad last year, but somewhat underwhelming. 2009′s looking better already! In addition to some nice defensive plays, Loney led the way with three hits, the most important of which was his first. With the bases loaded and two outs, Loney came up with Peavy on the ropes. You don’t get a whole lot of opportunities against a guy like that, and you can’t squander them when they happen – especially with the history of TOTAL FAIL LA’s had against Peavy. Loney pokes a 2-RBI single to left field, and the Dodgers never trailed.

No more questioning Jonathan Broxton as closer. Did you see that 9th inning? I almost felt bad for the Padres. Well, almost, because screw them. But Broxton comes in throwing absolute gas. I know you can’t ever trust the TV gun, but when that’s saying 99s and 100s, then he’s still throwing at least 96 or 97, and that’s plenty good enough. Strikeout, popout, strikeout, and the game was done. I think we’re all going to enjoy watching the Bull this year. 

One down, 161 to go!

Well, That Didn’t Take Long

You’d think after a long season (two weeks longer than usual) management, writers, and fans would want to take a bit of a breather. Maybe not that long, not with the offseason looming, but you’d think more than say, 30 hours after the final pitch, right? Hell no! Let’s jump on board the rumor train, and yeah, I got a lot of these links from MLBtraderumors

* Hey, let’s trade for Jake Peavy!
Uh, let’s put this under “wildly unlikely”. Hey, don’t get me wrong, Peavy’s one of the five best starting pitchers in the game, and putting him at the top of the Dodgers rotation would be marvelous. But there’s a lot of problems with this. First of all, the only reason that the Dodgers are involved in these rumors is that Peavy named them as one of the few teams he’d waive his no-trade clause for, which doesn’t automatically mean there’s interest on the other side. More importantly, the return to the Padres would be immense. Think about the kind of names being tossed around last offseason for Johan Santana and Erik Bedard, and then double it. Unlike those guys, Peavy is signed to a relatively reasonable deal that keeps him under team control until 2013 – plus the Padres would certainly ask for more from LA than anyone else if they’re going to have to face him a couple of times a year in the division until then. Just look at this quote from that ESPN article:

San Diego, too, is said to be willing to deal with the rival Dodgers, who could conceivably have some excellent young players to dangle, like outfielder Matt Kemp and pitchers Clayton Kershaw and James McDonald.

That’s not necessarily what the deal would be, but you’d better believe it’d take at least one of those guys, if not two. The article states that the Padres are “seeking at least two young pitchers in return, along with someone who can become the team’s everyday center fielder sometime in the immediate to near future.” You really think that Scott Elbert, Ramon Troncoso, and Xavier Paul are going to get that done? No thanks. I really can’t see this deal going down, and if it does, any joy I’d get over adding Peavy is likely to be overwhelmed by what was going back to San Diego.

* Manny wants a lot of money!
Shocker. Talk about an unbelievably hard contract to nail down. We’ve got the Sabernomics blog saying Manny should get 6 years, $128 million. In the article linked above, Bill Shaikin says that Manny “has suggested that he might seek a contract of five or six years, and isn’t interested in a pay cut from his current $20 million a year”, while in the same article former Dodgers GM Fred Claire “said the Dodgers should offer Ramirez $20 million per year for three years.” I tend to think that Claire is the closest of the three, but he undershoots it. I really can’t see any team giving Manny five or six years – not with his character issues, not with his declining defense, not with his age, and not with one of the top big market teams (Boston) obviously not in play. I do agree that Manny won’t take a paycut from the $20m/year options he had, so my best guess? 3 years, $70 million, perhaps with an option on the 4th year.

* Why does everyone think pitching is this team’s problem?
I’ve said this on many occasions, so I won’t want to repeat myself. But here we have Joe Torre saying that pitching is a top priority this offseason, and Dylan Hernandez saying “the Dodgers will be forced to target a top-of-the-rotation arm if they can’t re-sign Lowe.” I’m not saying I wouldn’t like a top pitcher, who wouldn’t? It’s just that the free agent arms like CC Sabathia are going to be insanely expensive – and how many times did we show this year that the pitching was fine and the offense was holding it back?

* Juan Pierre wants out!
Well, of course he does, and I can’t even come down hard on him for it. We might not think he’s any good, and we certainly don’t want him being a starting Dodgers outfielder, but I can’t blame a guy for wanting to be somewhere where he’ll get a chance to play. I no longer think he’ll be impossible to move, because there’s now only 3 years and $28 million left on his deal. It’s reasonable for some team that needs speed and ignores OBP, especially considering LA will have to eat a little of it. But there really can’t be any movement on this until the Manny saga is dealt with. Knowing whether you have three starting OF (no, Andruw Jones doesn’t count) makes a big impact on how badly you need to get rid of JP. Top destinations: White Sox and Reds.

* Andruw Jones wants out?!
From the same article as the Pierre one above…

Teammates say Jones wants no part of a return to Los Angeles, where he was a target of angry fans for his poor performance.

Guess what, Andruw? We all want you out too. But what you’re forgetting is that you were so bad this year that it’s not even a case of “he’s owed how much?” – it’s a case of “should I even waste a roster spot?” I mean, you’re owed $18.1 million (update: according to Jay Jaffe in today’s Baseball Prospectus article, it’s actually $22.1m because it was backloaded. Great.) in 2009. Let’s just say that Frank McCourt would be willing to pick up $13 million of that to trade you (which, and this should go without saying, he would never ever do). After hitting .158 with 3 homers, you really think some team is going to spend $5.1 million on you when they could get any minor leaguer to far surpass that output for a tenth of the price? The Dodgers aren’t going to cut Jones, and it’s just not going to be possible to trade him. He’ll be back, unfortunately, in 2009.

* Greg Maddux, Padres player-coach?
This article says that San Diego has talked to Maddux about such a role, but Kevin Towers thinks Maddux will retire. Personally, if he’s willing, I’d rather see the Dodgers do this, especially with young guys like McDonald, Kershaw, and Billingsley around. He’s worth the money to just talk to them all season.

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

Jake Peavy’s Got Our Goat

O.K., so making photos of Jake Peavy as a southern, practitioner of bestiality makes me feel better when the Dodgers are getting completely dominated. I’m only kidding, of course.

They weren’t doctored.

While one can chalk this loss up to just a dominating performance by one of the best pitchers in baseball, which would be accurate, this does signal an issue that has been going on for awhile now. That is, the Dodgers’ inability to beat elite pitchers. Tony Jackson of “Inside The Dodgers” provides an interesting statistic:

Since the start of last season, the No. 1 starters for the Rockies, Padres and Diamondbacks — Jeff Francis, Jake Peavy and Brandon Webb, respectively — are now a combined 11-0 with a 1.71 ERA in 14 starts against the Dodgers, who are 1-13 in those 14 games. If this team is to contend, it HAS to find a way to beat good pitching, at least once in a while.

Jackson would be right. However, after reading this, it made me want to check to see how far back some of these elite pitchers have dominated the Dodgers, as this seems to be a problem that’s lasted beyond the start of last year. Here’s a quick and dirty check:

Jake Peavy has not lost one start against L.A. since 2003 and since the start of 2005, he has gone 6-0 with a 2.04 ERA, which is his best against any team.

It gets worse. Brandon Webb, since the start of 2005, has gone 7-0 with an ERA of 1.21, also his best when taking into account the amount of innings pitched against the Dodgers in that span, 52. He has not lost a decision against the Dodgers since 2004.

Jeff Francis since 2005 is 4-1 with a 2.96 ERA, that one loss coming in 2005.

While I’m not one to pay much attention to wins, the ERA’s do speak for themselves. It’s one thing to just get beat by the best sometimes, but the Dodgers are going to have to do a hell of a lot better than this, especially within their own division, if they want to seriously compete. This won’t cut it.

Oh well. At least we still have Barry Zito to beat up on.

- Vin vinscully-face.jpg