If Rubby De La Rosa Went to Tampa Bay…

92topps_rubbydelarosaWhat if the Dodgers had traded Rubby De La Rosa not to Boston, but to Tampa Bay? That’s the question John Tomase asked in the Boston Herald earlier this week, indicating that the Rays were strongly interested in trading for the young righty.

Last season, Friedman periodically spoke to Maddon about a right-hander coming off Tommy John surgery in the Dodgers organization. The Rays liked his stuff, believed him available, and were intrigued by his power arsenal. His name?

Rubby De La Rosa.

It’s no surprise that Tampa Bay — and, presumably, other teams — would be interested in De La Rosa, since he’s clearly a talented prospect. What’s most intriguing is thinking about what sort of dominoes such a trade might have set in motion — or prevented. We heard stories last year and over the winter that the Dodgers were sniffing around James Shields, and if that’s how a prospective deal had been built… would Zack Greinke still be a Dodger? Would the huge Boston trade have still happened, or just looked considerably different? Would Wil Myers still be a Royal? It’s obviously all speculation after the fact, but it’s fun to think about how much might have changed based on one different move.

As for the trade that did happen, I think most of us feel the same way about it as we did at the time. I don’t regret the move, because Adrian Gonzalez was a must-get both due to the total dearth of first base options and his perfect fit in Los Angeles, and while Carl Crawford is a huge risk, I’m still optimistic that merely getting out of Boston will be a great boost for him. But what didn’t seem to click at the time — and does less now — is that if the Dodgers were going to take on all that risk, including Josh Beckett, that De La Rosa & Allen Webster would have to be included. I can’t imagine the Red Sox would have decided to hang on to all that cash if, say, Matt Magill & Garrett Gould were the pitchers involved instead.

Mariners
Dodgers
CF
Gutierrez
CF
Moore
3B
Seager
2B
Ellis
DH
Morales
DH
Kemp
RF
Morse
RF
Ethier
LF
Ibanez
1B
Hairston
1B
Smoak
LF
Gwynn
2B
Ackley
C
Federowicz
C
Sucre
3B
Uribe
SS
Ryan
SS
Sellers

If Gonzalez and friends lead the Dodgers to a World Series, then the trade is a win regardless. But if this deal turns out badly, it’s not going to be because Crawford is wasted money; it’s going to be if De La Rosa & Webster, who are generating fantastic reports in camp this spring, turn out to be stars.

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None of the four players acquired from Boston — no, not even l’il Nicky Punto, off playing for Italy in the WBC — is playing today against Seattle at Camelback Ranch, though the game will be one of the free webcasts available at Dodgers.com. Future Oriole Aaron Harang faces former Dodger Jon Garland, to be followed by Brandon League, Kenley Jansen, J.P. Howell, Kevin Gregg, & Juan Abreu.

2012 Dodgers in Review #35: RP Rubby de la Rosa

27.00 ERA 12.09 FIP 0.2 IP 0/0 K/9 27.00 BB/9 0.0 fWAR (inc.)

2012 in brief: Returned from Tommy John surgery to face just four batters before being shut down to be a player to be named later in Adrian Gonzalez deal.

2013 status: Should be in the mix for a big league job with Boston.

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What can I really say about the 20 pitches to four batters Rubby de la Rosa threw against the Giants on August 22 which represented the entirety of his 2012 season? Nothing, really, so I won’t. Well, almost nothing; the picture you see in the card to the right is from that game, and it’s the only time you’ll ever see him wearing #41 as a Dodger, since he was #50 in 2011.

When we look back on the giant trade with Boston someday, it will mainly be judged on how much production Adrian Gonzalez & Carl Crawford (and to a lesser extent, Josh Beckett) brought to Los Angeles. But that won’t be all of it, because not only did the Red Sox unload hundreds of millions of dollars, they picked up two very good pitching prospects in de la Rosa & Allen Webster. And that, really, was always my biggest concern with the deal. Everyone focused on the money and Crawford’s uncertain status, but my argument was that if you’re going to be taking on such massive risk, you probably shouldn’t have been expected to give up two of your best pitching prospects as well. Does anyone really think the Sox wouldn’t have still jumped at the opportunity if, say, Chris Reed & Matt Magill were the prospects? I find it hard to believe they wouldn’t.

That’s not exactly to say I wish the deal hasn’t been done, because as we’ve learned money barely matters to this team and Gonzalez was a badly-needed add to a team which had no first baseman and few options in the market this winter. De la Rosa could potentially turn out to be a star, however, and we’ll all be watching him closely in Boston.

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Next up! Aw, poor John Ely!

 

Dodgers Claim Matt Angle On Waivers From Baltimore

Yesterday, I mentioned that the 60-day disabled list was now available for Rubby De La Rosa, should the Dodgers need to open up another 40-man roster spot to make room for Jamey Wright, John Grabow, or another NRI at the end of camp. Who knew we’d be revisiting that idea less than 24 hours later?

Today, the Dodgers took advantage of that option by moving De La Rosa off the 40-man roster and claiming 26-year-old outfielder Matt Angle from Baltimore. Angle made a brief debut with the O’s last year but spent most of 2011 as Triple-A Norfolk’s center fielder; since the Dodgers already acquired Norfolk’s primary right fielder, Tyler Henson, in the Dana Eveland trade, all they need to do now is get 2011 Norfolk left fielder Kyle Hudson (now with Texas) to complete the entire set.

Angle hit just .177 in 31 games for the Orioles last year, but he’s not without his uses, since he has a .372 career minor league OBP and plenty of speed, stealing 11 bases in 12 attempts with the big club and an additional 27 in the minors. Baseball Prospectus 2012 has additional info:

Angle’s best tool is his speed, which he put on full display in his first taste of the big leagues: despite a mere .293 OBP, Angle stole 11 bases in 95 plate appearances thanks to an absurd 55 percent attempt rate and a 92 percent success rate. Widely considered the best defensive outfielder in the system, his bat is suspect. He has no power to speak of and struck out 18 percent of the time at Triple-A, unacceptable for a guy without pop and without Ichiro’s BABIP. Still, he takes some walks, and if he can manage to stretch his tools, his best case scenario is becoming a toned-down version of Michael Bourn.

So for the low, low price of a waiver claim, you’re getting a young guy who can fly and is apparently a plus defensive outfielder. By itself, that’s all well and good, though you do have to wonder about a player who got DFA’d by Baltimore (and to fit in Luis Ayala, of all people), because the Orioles are hardly overflowing with talent and might actually start Endy Chavez in left field this year. Still, Angle didn’t cost anything and comes with at least two tools, so that’s fine for additional depth.

Now that the 40-man roster is indeed full, that makes it all the more likely that the out-of-options Ramon Troncoso is going to get the axe unless he surprises us all to take that last bullpen spot. It also makes Trent Oeltjen‘s spot that much more perilous with another outfielder around; it also does make me wonder if Alex Castellanos really is destined for more infield work in Albuquerque, perhaps pushing Alfredo Silverio to a corner (where he probably belongs) and letting the defensively superior Angle remain in center.

The 60-Day DL Is Now Open For Business

When the Dodgers signed Todd Coffey earlier this month, they had to DFA Russ Mitchell in order to make room for him, since the 40-man roster was already full. While it was something of a surprise to me that it was Mitchell who got the axe and not Ramon Troncoso or Trent Oeltjen, it did raise a question that I was unable to answer at the time: when can you start putting people on the 60-day DL (and thus, off the 40-man?) The Dodgers have an obvious choicefor the 60-day in Rubby De La Rosa, who is reportedly making good progress but who won’t get into rehab games until June at the earliest.

Via River Ave Blues, we’ve now learned that yesterday was the first day the 60-man DL is available, as the Red Sox took advantage of shifting John Lackey and Bobby Jenks there in order to make room for Rich Hill and Chris Carpenter. The Dodgers aren’t expected to sign anyone else to a major-league contract this spring, so it’s not an immediate concern, but we should know by now that every year, at least one non-roster guy (or more) is going to find his way onto the team. (Last year, there were three: Aaron Miles, Lance Cormier, and Mike MacDougal. Completely off-topic, how is it that Miles hasn’t even picked up an NRI from someone yet? He’s awful, but I can’t quite reconcile how Adam Kennedy can get a guaranteed deal in November, while Miles can’t even get a no-strings-attached pity date in February.)

Now that we know Blake Hawksworth isn’t going to be ready for Opening Day, the last spot in the bullpen is available, and if Jamey Wright (or John Grabow or someone else who isn’t Josh Lindblom) makes the cut, they’ll need to be added to the 40-man roster. That’s the obvious time to shift De La Rosa, though don’t forget as well that Troncoso is out of options, and will need to be DFA’d (or traded) when he doesn’t make the club. So while it may seem that only one 40-man spot is going to be needed in order to get that last reliever on the club, mark my words, something else is going to happen that will require both De La Rosa and someone else to be removed from the 40-man.

Back later today with something a lot more uplifting than rosterbation procedural news.

Plenty of Dodgers Making the Cut on Bill James’ Top 100 Pitcher’s Duels

Last year, ESPN and Bill Simmons teamed up to launch “Grantland“, a new venture aimed at focusing more on long-form sportswriting, a throwback to the glory days of magazines and newspapers, as opposed to the shorter blog posts which are more popular today. Predictably, the feedback has been mixed; some of the work I’ve read has been excellent, but good lord, can it be pretentious.

Your feelings on Simmons aside, it’s hard to argue with a staff that includes Chuck Klosterman, Jonah Keri, Rany Jazayerli, and Katie Baker, among many others, and today they’ve added a new luminary: baseball stats legend Bill James. James debuts with a list of the 100 best pitcher’s duels of 2011 – completely subjectively, of course, because how else could you do it – and wouldn’t you know it, 10 of his first 42 entries involved the Dodgers. As it turns out – and this is going to come as a huge surprise, I know – Clayton Kershaw is really, really good, and I don’t know if anything was more fun this past season than watching him constantly beat down Tim Lincecum and the Giants.

3. July 20, 2011, Dodgers at San Francisco, Clayton Kershaw against Tim Lincecum

MSTI, July 20:

Now how about adding eight shutout innings with 12 whiffs against just three hits and a walk? By Game Score, which is admittedly imperfect, that was the third best start of Kershaw’s career. That it was also the third best start of his season should tell you a lot about just how good his 2011 has been so far, particularly now that he’s up to 23 consecutive scoreless innings and an MLB-best 167 strikeouts.

5. September 9, 2011, Dodgers in San Francisco again, Kershaw and Lincecum rematch

Looks like I didn’t say anything, because I was traveling for a wedding that weekend. Stupid weddings, part one.

18. September 20, Giants in L.A., Lincecum against Kershaw, Round 3

Stupid weddings, part two. This was my birthday and I was busy getting engaged. Still not sure that choosing those over watching Kershaw / Lincecum was the right move.

23. June 26, Angels at Dodger Stadium, Jered Weaver against Clayton Kershaw

MSTI, June 26:

This is the 12th time in Kershaw’s career he’s put up double-digit strikeout numbers, though it’s the first time he’s done it in back-to-back starts, since he also struck out 11 Tigers last week. It also put him up to 128 K’s on the season, putting him back ahead of Justin Verlander for the most in baseball. That’s impressive, but that’s not what I liked the best about today; it was the fact that he did it without a single walk. Remember when we said that the only thing holding him back from megaultrastardom was harnessing the walks? Yeah, about that: his K/BB rate from 2008-11: 1.92, 2.03, 2.62, 3.66.

Clayton Kershaw, shiny golden god.

25. August 9, Phillies in Los Angeles, Cliff Lee against Ted Lilly

MSTI, August 9:

On the other side of the ball, for all the jokes we have at Ted Lilly‘s expense, the veteran lefty was actually pretty solid against a good Phillies lineup. Lilly allowed just six hits and a walk over eight innings, which ties for his second-longest outing as a Dodger, and he even drilled Shane Victorino in the back for good measure. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Ted Lilly game if he didn’t allow a homer, and that’s how we get back to Lee, who took Lilly out to right field in the 7th inning. That made the score 2-0, though with the way Lee was pitching against the unimposing Dodger lineup, it might as well have been 200-0.

This was also the game where Dee Gordon injured his shoulder attempting to dive around Ryan Howard at first base, nearly causing all of us to pass out in terror.

31. August 2, Dodgers in San Diego, Mat Latos against Hiroki Kuroda

This win merely put the Dodgers to 50-59, and it’s amazing how tuned out we were from worrying about daily results at the time. The second-half improvement didn’t really get going until the latter half of August, and at the time we’d considered this team completely dead in the water, to the point where I was less concerned about recapping a phenomenal Kuroda start than I was about looking ahead to possible waiver moves and September recalls.

32. March 31 (season opener), San Francisco in Los Angeles, Lincecum against Kershaw

MSTI, March 31:

Earlier today, I noted that I had picked Clayton Kershaw to finish 1st in the NL Cy Young Award voting over at Baseball Prospectus. I’m now concerned that I didn’t pick him quite high enough, because Kershaw was absolutely sublime in tonight’s season opener, to the point where San Francisco starter Tim Lincecum allowed just one unearned run over seven innings himself, yet there was still no question about who was the most dominant starter on the mound tonight.

Kershaw scattered just four hits over seven scoreless innings, but even that doesn’t tell the true tale. One of those hits should have been an error on a botched toss from James Loney to Kershaw, and one was a bloop that fell just out of Loney’s reach. But while Kershaw was outstanding all around, it’s not just the few hits he allowed that impressed me most, and it’s not the nine strikeouts he put up. It’s not even how bad he made a handful of Giants look, particularly when he offered his curve. It’s the fact that he walked just one and made it through seven innings with fewer than 100 pitches. In years past, it might have taken him 120 pitches to get that far; in starts that aren’t his first of the season, you’d expect to see him continue into the 8th and 9th.

Need more proof of Kershaw’s progression? This was the 11th time in his career that he pitched at least seven innings without allowing more than one walk. Though he’s been in the bigs since mid-2008, seven of the previous ten came after June 27, 2010 – i.e., in the last half a season. We’ve long known that Kershaw had all the talent in the world, but there’s now a clear pattern of him harnessing the wildness and becoming one of the most dominant pitchers in the bigs. Mark my words, this is the year he gets the respect from the general public he deserves. Oh, and he turned 23 two weeks ago.

35. June 8, Dodgers in Philadelphia, Hiroki Kuroda against Cole Hamels

Kuroda was very good, as I mentioned

Hiroki Kuroda sailed through the first four innings on a hot night in Philadelphia, escaped some trouble in the 5th, and then was touched for a Ryan Howard solo homer in the 6th. That was the run that put the Dodgers down 1-0 entering the top of the 7th…

…but this game ended up being far more memorable for being one of the low points of a dreadful first half by the offense, as once again, no Dodger other than Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp could contribute even the slightest bit of help:

Down one run, Andre Ethier & Matt Kemp set up the 5-6-7 hitters with two men in scoring position and no outs. To avoid scoring a run in that situation, you basically have to be actively trying to fail. To the surprise of absolutely no one, Juan Uribe, Marcus Thames, and Rod Barajas failed to get the job done. But that’s not news; Ethier and Kemp have been sabotaged by their underperforming teammates all season long. What really got me was the furor on Twitter as this was happening. In rough chronological order…

Tony Jackson (ESPNLA):

horrible AB by Uribe right there. Just horrible.

EephusBlue:

Boy am I glad we kept Thames

Dylan Hernandez (LA Times):

Thames, who batted 3rd Monday, comes up with men on the corners. “It doesn’t matter where you bat him,” someone said, “the game finds him.

Jayson Stark (ESPN):

The Rod Barajas Fan Club will be delighted to know that once that pop-up came down, he was 2 for 37 this year with men in scoring position.

Jackson:

@jaysonst and that .054 average is 54 points better than Thames, who is now 0 for 11 w/RISP

Jackson:

I have never seen a team come up with more creative ways to not score after getting a runner to third with less than two outs.

Kevin Modesti (LA Daily News):

@dodgerscribe It’s another example of we’ve talked about. Ethier & Kemp get on … Uribe, Thames & Barajas coming up — what do you expect?

ChadMoriyama:

That was one of those Dodgers offense moments you sorta knew was coming, but you still feel disgusted anyway watching it happen.

36. July 9, Dodgers in San Diego, Rubby De La Rosa against Aaron Harang

This led to one of my favorite post titles of the season,”Dodgers Win in Most Dodger Way Possible“. This was still a few weeks before the second half surge really got going, and the team was so bad at this point that it was all you could do to laugh at them.

Being no-hit for 8 2/3 innings, nearly wasting six one-hit innings from rookie standout Rubby De La Rosa, and then winning on two miraculous hits from Juan Uribe and Dioner Navarro, two of the worst hitters on the team?

Yeah, that sounds about right.

42. June 19, Houston in L.A., Bud Norris against Hiroki Kuroda

MSTI, June 19:

For 7 1/3 scoreless innings on Sunday, the Dodgers looked likely to set us up for disappointment. Hiroki Kuroda had sailed through the first seven, allowing just five baserunners before Matt Guerrier threw a clean eighth. After a tough turn around the starting rotation, it was a much-needed boost from the veteran. But yet again, there was absolutely no support from the offense, as Bud Norris and Sergio Escalona held the Dodgers to harmless singles by James Loney and Dioner Navarro, and walks by Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. There’s a reason Kuroda has a losing record both for the season and his career, and it’s because of games like this. How many times have we seen a solid starting pitching performance wasted due to an offense that is barely of a Triple-A caliber? Tony Gwynn flied out to center to start the eighth, and with the bottom up the order due up, it seemed just a matter of time before patchwork bullpen (though buoyed by the returns of Kenley Jansen yesterday and Hong-Chih Kuo today) would allow the Astros to score and complete the sweep.

Kuroda didn’t get the win in the boxscore today – Guerrier did – but I think we all know who deserves that W next to his name.

Just barely avoiding a sweep against the lowly Astros. How did we survive the first half of the season again?

Perhaps more pertinent to the current situation, I wonder how this list might look if it were redone after 2012, now that Kuroda is gone and De La Rosa is injured. To be fair, Chad Billingsley does appear twice in the second half of the list, Harang was very good in the De La Rosa game, and Chris Capuano had the single best-pitched game of 2011 as judged by Game Score. (To be even more fair, this is a completely subjective list that’s very easy to tear apart and by definition requires both pitchers to be excellent at the same time, something which the mediocre Dodger offense probably had a big hand in.)