Two Quick Thoughts on a Saturday Night

…if only because I’ve been traveling for a few days and I’m sick of looking at the shortstop review as the most recent post.

Ken Gurnick at dodgers.com with an interesting thought:

Alex Castellanos, 25, OF, 10th-round pick in 2008 by St. Louis: Acquired in the Rafael Furcal trade, Castellanos is already off to a hot start, with three homers in seven games. Mattingly said Castellanos might be tried at second base after playing primarily in right field, although he started his pro career as an infielder. As a hitter, his 23 homers and 102 runs scored this year have management intrigued. He was the Texas League runner-up in batting (.319) and slugging (.562).

Snap judgement: this isn’t what you think it is. I’ve seen some suggestions that Castellanos may be lined up to help fill the second base hole, but I think it’s the opposite. Despite his sexy 2011 stats in the hitter-friendly Texas League, Castellanos turns 26 next year and didn’t get above A-ball until his fourth minor-league season, leading to most prospect hounds referring to him as a possible fourth or fifth outfielder when he was first acquired from St. Louis. Though he played multiple positions in his first two seasons, including second and third, he’s been almost exclusively a right fielder in 2010 and ’11, which doesn’t say much about his skill in the infield; generally, if you’re going to put up with subpar defense from a middle infielder, you’re going to need him to hit like a Dan Uggla or Jeff Kent. Sounds like more of a “if you want a chance at the bigs, you need something more to offer than what you currently have” than a “we value your bat so highly that maybe you can fill a hole” move to me.

That said, it’s exactly the kind of move the team should be making. Is it likely that Castallenos can play a passable big league second base? Probably not. But it’s also unlikely, from what I’ve read, that he hits enough to be an everyday outfielder, so there’s little downside in a move like this. (Which, we should note, isn’t even certain; it merely says that he “might be tried” at second base.) For the record, while I thought he was an intriguing return considering how low Furcal’s value was, I’m biased against him if only because every time I try to look up information on him I inevitably end up reading about the political scumbag of the same name.

Second, and this is just pure 100% speculation from MLB Trade Rumors

Dodgers: Ned Colletti can either activate an out clause in his contract after 2012, or 2012 is actually the last year on his deal.  Either way, the general manager will likely be pursued by the club to sign an extension given how competitive the Dodgers were this season in the wake of the ongoing ownership mess.  Of course, Colletti could choose to leave given the uncertainty with the McCourts.

I’ll leave that one to you guys.

Let’s Parse Ned Colletti’s Comments on 2012

Ned Colletti gave a lengthy interview to Jim Bowden of ESPN/LA this week, and he was surprisingly candid about his thoughts on the 2012 club, giving thoughtful, honest answers on nearly every area of the roster. Or did he? Remember, it’s not a GM’s job to tell the truth to the media, it’s his job to assemble the best team he can for the best value possible. In many cases, telling the truth actively hurts that goal, and we can’t possibly know just how much of what gets leaked to the media is real and what’s a carefully calculated attempt to manipulate the real or perceived value of a player or interest by a team in that player.

Of course, that’s not going to stop us from trying anyway. So let’s sort through this and introduce the “Ned Colletti Truth-O-Meter”. After starting with positive reviews of Don Mattingly and the coaching staff, Bowden asks about the contract situations of Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw.

2. Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw had MVP/Cy Young Award-type seasons. Do you plan on trying to extend either of their contracts this offseason?

Matt Kemp is a priority, and I plan on getting with his agent, Dave Stewart, and will work diligently in trying to work out a long-term deal with Matt. There is some urgency because he’ll be a free agent at the end of the 2012 season if they don’t sign him long term now. Clayton Kershaw’s situation is not as urgent because he’s only first-time arbitration eligible and won’t be a free agent until after the 2014 season. That doesn’t mean we won’t have conversations and listen, and if we can make a deal that makes sense, we will be open to it — but not with the same urgency as Kemp.

Not too much to argue with here. Obviously signing Kemp is the #1 priority of the entire offseason, bigger than importing any outside talent. And I agree with him that Kemp’s timeline makes him a more important signing than Kershaw, particularly if cashflow issues mean that the Dodgers are only able to sign one of them this winter. However, let’s not totally skim past the “well, Kershaw is only first-time arbitration-eligible” thing. He was so good this year that he’s probably going to increase his salary from ~500,000 to ~$7m, and while $7m is still a steal for a player like that, just think how much it’s going to keep going up in future arbitration hearings. The longer it takes to sign Kershaw, the more it’s going to cost them (since they’ll be buying out free agent years, not team control years).

After a bit of surprisingly honesty regarding Andre Ethier, saying he had a “subpar year” but that Colletti is not looking to trade him, the conversation moves to some of the younger players.

4. From a player personnel perspective, what is the Dodgers biggest need this offseason?

We really need a middle-of-the-lineup impact bat, which would be a very key component to us winning next year. We need to figure out second base. Carroll and Miles are free agents. Right now we have the two young players in Sellers and Ivan DeJesus that we might let compete for that job next year.

I’ve already seen people responding to this comment at face value, wondering about Sellers and DeJesus fighting it out for the second base job. Let’s clarify this right now: there is absolutely no way that’s going to happen. It was just yesterday that we looked at DeJesus’ season and noted that despite all of the infield injuries this year, DeJesus still didn’t get much of a look or a September call-up for the second year in a row. In addition, we’ve heard multiple reports that his attitude isn’t exactly the best. That’s really a guy who’s going to get a shot for the starting gig? Sellers at least spent a decent amount of time in the bigs, but after brutal home/road splits in AAA he hit just .203/.283/.301 with the Dodgers. Future utility guy? Sure, maybe. Big league starter? Uh, no. Either Carroll or Miles return, or someone else gets imported.

We need to figure out left field as well, but we’re leaning towards Jerry Sands, especially after the way he finished this season with us.

There’s probably a little bit of “publicly pumping up a young player who finished the year strong” here, but I’m inclined to believe it’s true. Sands has nothing left to prove in the minors – career line of .286/.376/.576 and 93 homers in parts of four minor league seasons – and after a rough introduction to the bigs (.200/.294/.328 between April-June), he looked like a different player in September (.342/.415/.493, playing every day). For a team that needs to rely on cost-efficient players as much as they can, giving Sands the shot he deserves makes all the sense in the world, and clearly the team thinks highly of him, having promoted him in April, long before any of us thought they might.

Behind the plate, we’ll probably let Tim Federowicz and A.J. Ellis handle the duties. They are both good catch-and-throw receivers. If Federowicz can hit .240 with some power, he can be an everyday catcher. He calls a really good game and has a strong arm. The free agent catching market is very thin, but we’ll look there as well just in case.

My first thought here is, “come on, Rod Barajas is dying to come back, he’s not great but at least he hits homers, and Federowicz is clearly not ready.” But then again, this would hardly be the first time that Colletti valued Federowicz more than anyone else on the planet, right? So it’s feasible, though hopefully unlikely, that Colletti is really considering this plan. If anything, I like to think that it’s a sign to Barajas that “hey, we’d like you back, but if you want to be a Dodger so badly, you best be prepared to take a pretty serious paycut from the $3.25m you got last year.” If not Barajas, perhaps someone else; there’s just not enough depth in the system to go with two catchers who have less than a full big-league season of experience between them, and nothing behind it.

We’ll also have to look at rethinking our bench. Carroll and Miles contributed a significant amount of plate appearances this year, and if we’re not able to re-sign them, it’s an important area that we’ll look at for depth, especially because we have to protect ourselves for potential injuries or younger players that could struggle.

True, with a catch. I assume that Colletti is speaking in terms of “Carroll and Miles could both be gone, as could Tony Gwynn and Juan Rivera, so we might be starting from next-to-zero in the bench department.” I prefer to think that he’s saying, “hey let’s rethink the recent bench philosophy that has left us with an underpowered, underperforming bench, populated by guys like Garret Anderson, Mark Sweeney, and Juan Castro.” At least I hope so; but with so many question marks next year – you can hardly consider either Juan Uribe or Dee Gordon as Cal Ripken-like ironmen – the 2012 bench will absolutely need someone decent to count on.

If Kuroda doesn’t re-sign with us, we’ll need to look for another veteran starter to make up for his innings as well. And finally, although we’re pleased with our deep young bullpen, we’d still be open to signing another veteran reliever, but that would be a low priority based on our other team needs.

No question that without Kuroda, signing an outside starter is an absolute requirement. (Jon Garland or Vicente Padilla again, anybody?) What’s more interesting here is his viewpoint of the bullpen, after we were less than thrilled with the idea a few weeks ago that he might be looking for a veteran arm – since we know that’s rarely the most efficient way to spend money, given how little Matt Guerrier delivered for his millions. Here, it seems clearer that he doesn’t consider it a very high priority, and if anything, we’ve learned that once again, T.J. Simers is never to be trusted. Ever.

5. Is it realistic to think the Dodgers could be players for Albert Pujols and/or Prince Fielder?

As you know Jim, I can’t speak about specific names of players who are not yet free agents because of tampering rules. However, we have a need in the middle of our lineup, and if we could do the right deal with a player in terms of duration and money, we would be willing to do it. We have flexibility if we keep catcher, second base, shortstop and left field as non-arbitration eligible players like we have now, then it is definitely possible that we could afford to spend the money on a significant middle-of-the-order bat.

This is less about “is Colletti being truthful” and more about “are Pujols and Fielder really coming to Los Angeles”, which we’ve been over so many times – it’s not happening, and that’s arguably a good thing; long-term, $100m+ contracts are full of risk. It’s interesting to see Colletti at least raise the possibility of going with so many young players, however, and it’s also interesting that he doesn’t bring up James Loney at all here. I’m not sure it means anything either way, but you’d think when the conversation turns to first base that Loney’s name would at least get a mention. Of course, this goes back to what I said the other day: if not Pujols or Fielder, who qualifies as a “big bat”?

What are your thoughts on the outfield for next year?

The outfield as of now has Andre Ethier in right field, Matt Kemp in center field and Jerry Sands in left field. Tony Gwynn Jr. played great defense for us off the bench, and his offense has improved from the prior year with the Padres. We hope to bring Juan Rivera back because he gives us a right-handed hitter to play against some tough lefties while giving Ethier or Loney a blow. His ability to play both corner outfield spots and first base is really beneficial to our bench.

No surprises here, and while I’m not as big of a fan of Rivera as others, I do agree that having a righty bat who can spot for Ethier and Loney – neither of whom can hit lefties – is a big need. (If not two guys like that, actually.) Gwynn, well, he went from a .304 OBP to a .308 OBP, with a big more power, so I wouldn’t say he was that much of an improvement. Still, his excellent glove and speed make him a decent bench piece. As expected, no discussion of moving Ethier to left field; while I’d like that, it’s not like Sands is miles better and the possible aggravation of asking Ethier to move headed into the last year of his contract, coming off an injury, is probably not worth it.

What are your thoughts on the infield and behind the plate for next year?

Right now, James Loney is our first baseman, and we like the second half that he had. Sellers and DeJesus will platoon or compete at second base. Dee Gordon will be at short with Juan Uribe at third base. We didn’t pick up Blake’s option, and we need Uribe to bounce back next year and stay healthy. He doesn’t have to repeat what he did in 2010, but we do need him to hit 15 home runs and drive in 65-70 runs while playing average defense at third base.

This goes back to the same second base discussion we had above, which just can’t be true. (… I hope. Besides, how are you going to “platoon” two righties with limited experience?) Is it so simple as to say “Loney at first and Uribe at third,” though? Perhaps it is, and perhaps Loney continues his second half and Uribe bounces back to just be generally terrible instead of atrociously godawful. There does need to be more of a backup plan than that, however, because we saw what happened this year with no production from either infield corner for the first few months of the season. I know Uribe gets another shot simply because of his contract; he just can’t be trusted with no safety net.

What are your thoughts on the starting rotation for next year?

We’re pleased with our starting rotation. Clayton Kershaw should win the Cy Young Award. Chad Billingsley, Kuroda and Lilly give us three solid veterans behind him, and Eovaldi really impressed us in September and should be our fifth starter. We also like the depth we have after those five, with Dana Eveland, who was 3-2 for us in September. Rubby De La Rosa should be back in June or July of next year from the Tommy John surgery, and as you know, Jim, he has the potential to develop into a No. 2 starter down the road.

Interesting here how he notes “Billingsley, Kuroda and Lilly give us three solid veterans”, isn’t it? I don’t want to read too much into what was probably not meant to be anything more than a simple answer to an interview question, but it does somewhat sound like he has an inkling that Kuroda will return. That’s also the case because he’s only talking about possible fifth starters, including Nathan Eovaldi and Dana Eveland. Here’s the thing, though: you really can’t count on those two guys to be your fifth starter, because remember that no team ever only uses five starters. If Eveland starts the year in the rotation, that means you’re almost certainly going to have a decent number of starts from guys who are worse than Eveland. As for Eovaldi, I like his future, but let’s not get too carried away with a guy who walked too many and struck out too few in his time in the bigs; his 4.80 xFIP sounds more accurate than his 3.63 ERA. That’s not to bash Eovaldi, who I do like; just that he could clearly use more minor-league seasoning.

What are your thoughts on your bullpen for next year?

I like our bullpen. We developed a lot of good young arms this year. Kenley Jansen, Guerra, Lindblom and Elbert all showed us what they are capable of doing. Guerrier gives us a veteran presence and Kuo should be able to come back next year and even MacDougal did a good job for us.

This one doesn’t even require a Truth-o-Meter image, I just had to chuckle that he said “even MacDougal”, like even he knows that MacDougal isn’t much to talk about. Also, sounds like maybe Hong-Chih Kuo gets tendered?

10. Any closing thoughts on this season and the prospects for next year?

We’re a lot closer to winning than people realize. If we had gotten just the typical offensive contributions this year from James Loney, Andre Ethier and Juan Uribe, who knows how many games we could have won. But injuries and subpar seasons are just part of the game. If we can make a few key moves this offseason and solve some of the question marks on this team that we’ve just been talking about, I really believe this club can finish in first in 2012.

Well, of course the general manager is going to say that the team he assembled isn’t in trouble, so not much to glean here. The funny part about the Loney bit is that overall, you basically did get the typical contribution for him this year. His wOBA of .329 is right in line with the .315, .332, and .332 marks over his last few seasons. It’s just that instead of being mediocre all year long like usual, he was awful to start and fantastic to finish. Overall, he gave you what you usually get, so on the whole he didn’t really help or hurt the team’s record any more than he generally does.

Can this team finish first in 2012? Well, the Diamondbacks did go from further back in 2010 to win the division this year. And with the way the Dodgers ended the season, it certainly puts them in the right direction. On that question, we’ll go with the magic 8 ball respons: reply hazy, check back later.

Youth In the Bullpen Is Still the Way to Go


I hate to ever, ever use T.J. Simers as a source for anything – hell, in the same column we’re about to discuss, he says he’d choose Ian Kennedy over Clayton Kershaw for the Cy Young because “without Kennedy the Diamondbacks don’t win the division”, as though A) that makes sense or B) Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay don’t exist – but the LA Times‘ resident clownshoe did manage to elicit an interesting quote out of Ned Colletti yesterday:

He’s hoping Hiroki Kuroda returns and will look to add a veteran to the bullpen, “but not a closer,” he says. “I think we’ll go with a combination of Kenley Jensen [sic] and Javy Guerra.”

For such a short sentence, there’s a whole lot going on there, and I’m not talking about Kuroda. Let’s take the second part first, where he says they’ll stick with Guerra and Kenley Jansen (not that Simers knows who that is) in the back of the bullpen. This is unquestionably the correct decision, because Jansen has been one of the most dominating relievers we’ve seen in years – decades, perhaps – and Guerra, for all of our uncertainty about his underwhelming peripherals, has consistently gotten the job done as the closer. While Jansen fits the prototypical mold of the fireballing closer more than Guerra, I agree with Jon Weisman that using him as the fireman in the highest leverage situations is a much better use of his time than shoehorning him into the 9th inning because that’s simply what closers do, which is often not when the game is won or lost. Going out and spending big dollars on a closer just because he has “saves”, like Francisco Rodriguez, Matt Capps, or Heath Bell, is not the most efficient usage of money when you have Jansen and Guerra, and good on Colletti for recognizing that.

If that was the end of the story, we’d be sitting pretty, but unfortunately, Colletti had to add that he wants to add a veteran to the bullpen, and that’s where the problems begin. We’ve talked ad nauseum around here about the unfortunate Matt Guerrier contract and how handing out multi-year contracts to decent-ish middle relievers rarely works (particularly when, as shown in that last link, better veteran relievers were signed for less money last winter).

It’s not even that Guerrier has been bad this year, because he hasn’t, just that there’s almost no way he lives up to the money committed to him, as Chad Moriyama broke down a few weeks ago:

Guerrier was the big money free agent signing, and he was actually decently productive in 2011. Unfortunately, the only reason he clocks in at positive value is because of the deferred nature of his overall contract (4 Y/12 M), so he’ll have to get better in a hurry if he wants to continue breaking even. The more likely scenario is that it ends up being a neutral to poor overall transaction.

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Over the course of the 2011 season, the Dodgers relief corps has proved that bullpen arms are indeed a fickle and fungible group, with production to be found from a multitude of sources, and that the most value out of the pen is commonly derived from those making the least. Sticking with cheap team controlled building blocks in the bullpen can be highly effective, and the money used to sign costly relievers can frequently be better used elsewhere.

This is especially true because relief pitching is one of the few areas that the Dodgers are relatively deep in as far as young arms on the way up. In addition to Jansen, Guerra, Guerrier, Scott Elbert, & Josh Lindblom, all proven at the big league level (we’ll have to get back to whether Hong-Chih Kuo gets tendered a contract another time), the organization is full of nearly-ready names like Shawn Tolleson, Steven Ames, & Cole St. Clair, moderately useful filler like Blake Hawksworth (if tendered) and Jon Link, plus who among us doesn’t believe that Mike MacDougal and his shiny ERA will be back? That’s a pretty full bullpen right there, and it’s not like this team doesn’t have a dozen other holes to fill in the upcoming offseason.

Now, if signing a veteran bullpen arm means another scrap-heap type like MacDougal, then fine, since for all his warts he made just $500,000 this year. Colletti does seem to be able to find at least one arm like that every year. If it means handing out another multi-year deal to one of the members of this year’s non-elite reliever free agent class – I’m looking at you, Jon Rauch, Mike Gonzalez, Jason Frasor and Chad Qualls – then we could be in trouble.

Ned Colletti Thinks the Dodgers Are Close to Contending, Because Of Course He Does

While I was away for the weekend, we saw Clayton Kershaw dominate the Giants as usual, Dana Eveland do his best to match Kershaw’s outing, and Hiroki Kuroda finish the series by tossing out his second consecutive lousy start, possibly as a result of recurring neck pain. We learned that Andre Ethier is finally getting knee surgery on Wednesday and that contrary to all previous reports, there will be not be any further callups to bolster the roster for the final weeks.

Yet what interests me the most, and what I heard more about from readers than anything else that happened this weekend, were Ned Colletti’s comments that he doesn’t think the roster is going to need a whole lot of work to be competitive in 2012. From the Dylan Hernandez story:

General Manager Ned Colletti and Manager Don Mattingly don’t think the Dodgers have to overhaul their roster next season.

“I don’t think we’re that far away,” Colletti said.

The initial fan response to that was predictable. This is a team which was flawed from the start and was flirting with the depths of team history barely two months ago. Does an admittedly-impressive-but-ultimately-meaningless hot streak in August and September suddenly turn this team into a contender? Of course it doesn’t. How, people asked, could Colletti be so blind as to think this was a team that could compete with the Philadelphias and Atlantas of the league?

The answer, as it always is, is to never take anything Colletti – or any other high-ranking executive – says at face value. What did we expect him to say? “Boy, these guys sure do suck. Can’t wait to clear them out and start over next year.” Of course not. This is the team Colletti has personally put together over the last few years, and the ownership situation makes his future tenuous at best. It’s absolutely in his best interest to put out the vision that this was always a good team, torpedoed early by a wave of injuries and perhaps lacking that one impact bat – a deficit which he, of course, personally helped fix by picking up Juan Rivera.

That’s in no way meant to bash Colletti, since part of any executive’s job (in baseball or out) is to project a sense of calm and leadership, not to stir the pot any more than is necessary. It’s something that Colletti hasn’t always done a good job of in the past. It’s best for him, best for the players, and best for trying to drive next year’s season ticket sales to make people think that something special is brewing, even if that’s only remotely the truth.

Besides, on a practical level, it doesn’t even make sense. Regardless of how Colletti feels about the current roster, it’s still a collection that has offensive veterans like Jamey Carroll, Aaron Miles, Tony Gwynn, Rod Barajas, and Rivera without contracts for next year. Rafael Furcal is already long-gone and Casey Blake, for all intents and purposes, is too. Prospects Dee Gordon, Justin Sellers, Jerry Sands, and Tim Federowicz have all shown promise but none have unquestionably nailed down a job, though that is still likely to change. James Loney, recent play aside, is still very possibly a non-tender, plus while Ethier is unlikely to move, he is going to be coming off surgery and is clearly unhappy with his situation. And can you really count on anything from Juan Uribe? On the pitching side, Jonathan Broxton, Jon Garland, and Vicente Padilla are all unlikely to be back, Mike MacDougal is a free agent, Rubby De La Rosa is likely out for most or all of next year, and it’s anyone’s guess as to what Kuroda will do.

While some of the players listed above will return, the majority won’t, and that means there will be changes. Possibly a good deal of them, particularly in the infield, and Colletti notes that another bat is a big need:

Pointing to how the July acquisition of Juan Rivera transformed the pitching-heavy Dodgers’ previously-impotent offense, Colletti and Mattingly said their top priority this winter is to land a run producer.

“It has to be the right bat,” Colletti said. “If the right bat’s not available, then it’s got to be somebody else.”

Of course, just exactly what that means is a topic of conversation we’ll get into heavily in the offseason. We have absolutely no idea what the McCourt mess means for the 2012 payroll, making it unlikely that the Dodgers are in the Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder game – and you could make a solid argument that even if the team wasn’t in bankruptcy court, $100m+ contracts like that aren’t the best use of resources anyway, particularly with the contract situations of Matt Kemp, Ethier, and Kershaw quickly becoming serious issues.

There’s a solid core here, and we’ve seen it come out in recent weeks. Yet Colletti’s media-friendly statements aside, expect the 25-man Opening Day roster next season to look a whole lot different than it did this season – and that’s not a bad thing.

Clayton Kershaw Against Roy Halladay For the Cy Young


On Tuesday
, Clayton Kershaw tossed six scoreless innings in St. Louis, extending his National League strikeout lead and making the start the 10th of his 27 outings this year in which he hasn’t allowed an earned run. At 23, Kershaw is living up to the promise we’d all seen since the day he was drafted in 2006. But is it really going to be enough to get him the NL Cy Young Award over Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and others? Let’s take a quick trip through the stats to find out. For the purposes of this exercise, we’ll just compare Kershaw to Halladay, because if he can’t beat Doc, then the rest won’t matter.

Stats that shouldn’t matter, but do:

W/L Record
Kershaw: 16-5
Halladay: 15-5
Edge: Kershaw’s had the advantage of one additional start, so this is essentially a draw. Of course, Halladay plays for a Phillies team that scores 4.3 runs per game, while the Dodgers are ahead of only the Giants in scoring 3.8 per game, so Kershaw leading the league in wins would be somewhat miraculous, if wins weren’t completely pointless.

ERA
Kershaw: 2.51
Halladay: 2.56
Edge: Basically identical. Draw.

Team
Kershaw: Plays for a West Coast team that is in and out of last place and is more notable for its embarrassing legal situation.
Halladay: Plays for an East Coast team that is the best in baseball and is an overwhelming World Series favorite.
Edge: Here’s where Kershaw is going to run into his first problem, since he’s a young pitcher on a bad team, while Halladay has been a long-time star. This might not affect him as badly as it will Matt Kemp, however, since “Cy Young Award” isn’t named “Most Valuable Pitcher”. It’s silly, but that word “valuable” really gets a lot of people stuck, and Zack Greinke & Felix Hernandez have each won on bad small-market teams in recent years.

Raw strikeouts
Kershaw: 207
Halladay: 182
Edge: Kershaw, though again Halladay has one start in hand.

Stats which are moderately more helpful:

K/BB
Kershaw: 4.31
Halladay: 7.91
Edge: Kershaw’s mark is very good and represents marked improvement over previous years. Halladay’s is just under twice as good as that. Good god.

WHIP
Kershaw: 1.023
Halladay: 1.054
Edge: WHIP isn’t as helpful as people assume it is, because it doesn’t correct for opponent, defense, park, etc., but it’s still a nice quick and dirty snapshot. Kershaw has the edge here in part because his edge in hits/9 (6.9 to 8.4) is more than Halladay’s edge in BB/9 (1.1 to 2.3).

Opposing hitter’s line
Kershaw: .212/.265/.304 .569
Halladay: .248/.272/.320 .592
Edge: Both excellent, of course. Halladay turns the average opposing hitter into Orlando Cabrera; Kershaw doesn’t even have a perfect comp because no qualified hitter has a lower OPS than Alex Rios and his .592.

Advanced stats which no real voter will even look at:

xFIP
Kershaw: 2.78
Halladay: 2.56
Edge: Halladay’s FIP equals his ERA, suggesting that his results have been exactly what they should be. Kershaw gets dinged a bit because his BABIP is relatively low, but not much to see here.

rWAR
Kershaw: 5.3
Halladay: 5.9
Edge: Halladay, clearly though they’re 1-2 in the NL. I don’t consider WAR, especially for pitchers, to be pinpoint enough where slight differences like this make a ton of difference.

So what’s the final verdict? Too close to call, honestly. I think it’ll be a tight 1-2 (unless something unexpected happens over the final five weeks of the season), with Halladay pulling out a thin victory due to his reputation and the success of the Phillies this year.

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I almost don’t want to post this because it’ll just get our hopes up, but the rumors keep flying, so who am I to deny them?  Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times claims that the Cubs are already doing information-gathering on Ned Colletti:

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts is wasting no time gathering information on potential general manager candidates, talking this week to people in and around baseball about current GMs Andrew Friedman of the Tampa Bay Rays and Ned Colletti of the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to sources.

While Colletti is viewed by many as cut from similar old-school-GM cloth as Jim Hendry, one attraction to him, a source said, is the likelihood he would try to bring Ryne Sandberg back to the organization as the Cubs’ manager. Sandberg has told those close to him that with Hendry out, he wouldn’t hesitate to return to the Cubs.

Again, I wouldn’t put too much stock into this; Ricketts has said that he wants a change, and Colletti is too similar to Hendry to qualify as that; besides, if Ricketts wants Sandberg so badly, he could just go out and hire him himself.

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Some of you have asked me why I always bash on Bleacher Report, which is somehow mind-bogglingly popular despite being a barren wasteland of horrible, juvenile writing, slideshows, and occasional incredible insensitivity. After I devoted a whole post to it in January and nearly brought the writer to tears, I resolved to just ignore the site completely, since it would only make me angry.

That was all well and good until handsome reader Scott emailed me this morning directing me to an “article” titled “Ned Colletti’s 5 Worst Trades as GM”. After I regained consciousness from blacking out, I decided I could not let this injustice go unnoticed. I’m not going to link to it. If you’re brave enough to subject yourself to the feeling of hitting yourself in the face repeatedly with an ice pick, I’m sure you can google it. Now, when you think of terrible Colletti trades, you don’t need to look too far. Millions of words have been spilled on “Carlos Santana for Casey Blake“, “James McDonald and Andrew Lambo for Octavio Dotel“, and the recent Trayvon Robinson deal.

None of those are on the list. Here’s the ones that are:

1) Joel Guzman and Sergio Pedroza for Julio Lugo. I didn’t have a blog at the time. I don’t really remember how I felt about the deal. But I do know that neither Guzman or Pedroza amounted to anything. At worst, this was irrelevant.

2) Ryan Theriot for Blake Hawksworth. Or as I like to think of it, one of the best moves Colletti has made all year. Why was this bad? Because Hawksworth is 2-4 and Theriot “has already surpassed his RBI total from 2010 with 39″. Oh. You got me there.

3) Delwyn Young for Harvey Garcia and Eric Krebs. Like the Lugo deal, who really cares at this point? I was one of Young’s staunchest defenders at the time, and even I can’t get up in arms about the fact that a guy who is hitting .252/.305/.400 in AAA during his age-29 season this year is gone. Completely, totally irrelevant.

4) Juan Pierre for John Ely and Jon Link. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that a guy who references Pierre’s “perfect 1.000 fielding percentage” in 2009 has absolutely no idea what the hell he’s talking about, right? Boy, I sure do wish we had Pierre and his 21/13 SB/CS back on the club.

5) The Manny Ramirez trade. The stupid… it burns. Basically, since Manny was suspended in 2009, injured in 2010, and lost on waivers, they never should have acquired him in the first place. That ridiculous run at the end of 2008? Never happened!

I feel bad for this poor guy, who has no idea what he’s talking about, but I mostly feel bad for us. Bleacher Report just picked up $22m in funding. They have partnerships in which their content appears on the sites of the Los Angeles Times and plenty of other large outlets. The common fan sees this garbage in the wrapper of a respected paper and they think it’s real. They think it’s journalism, when really it’s just the misinformed ramblings of an in-way-over-his-head intern. And that’s why sites like this will always exist – because sites like that will always exist.