December 18, 2014

My Thoughts on Ted Lilly’s Return to LA

I realized I hadn’t commented on the return of Ted Lilly (well, outside of Twitter) so wanted to officially weigh in on his return to the Dodgers.  To recap, Lilly signed a three-year contract worth a total of $33 million.  At nearly 35, Lilly isn’t exactly a spring chicken, but he is a durable, consistent starting pitcher that’s had a high degree of success throughout his career. 

Most importantly, he’s a veteran who knows how to win and will be an excellent mentor to both Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw in the years ahead.  I think this is just one of many intangibles that are often overlooked by fans and bloggers when assessing whether or not a free agent signing or trade is a success or not.  Yes, bringing back Lilly shows the Dodgers are willing to spend money to improve the club, but more importantly it shows they are willing to invest in a quality starting pitcher.

Plus, Lilly’s a really good guy and character matters when building a baseball team. 

Like many fans, I would have liked for the deal to have been for two years instead of three.  But the reality is that Lilly would have commanded three years in today’s free agent market and I’m not opposed to spending the extra $11 million if that’s what it takes to bring him back.

Lilly had solid success while in LA (and was simply amazing upon his arrival), going 7-4 with a 3.52 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP in 12 starts.  For the season, Lilly was 10-12 with a 3.62 ERA.  I’m sure Lilly recognized that his season really turned around when he came to the Dodgers, and was a factor in him resigning vs. testing the free agent market and probably obtaining a slightly larger contract elsewhere.  Whatever the reason, I’m glad he’s back and will look forward to him pitching and representing LA for the next few years while he’s in Dodger Blue.

Now for a #4 starter…any ideas?

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Danny Moloshok

Crazy Rumor of the Day: Ethier to Red Sox?

I know, it’s crazy right?  But according to NECN, Ethier “has reportedly told friends he would like to come to the Red Sox.”

Look, I’m sure most players have a short list of teams they would love to play for at some point in their career, but that doesn’t mean they are unhappy with their current team.  Plus, Ethier is under contract for two more seasons and I really don’t see Colletti trading one of his best young position players for any package…let alone for a theoretical package of Dice K and a minor league prospect as the article mentions.

Nice try, Boston.

UPDATE: The LA Times’ Dylan Hernandez caught up with Ethier before yesterday’s game and tweeted the following comment from Andre: “I don’t think it makes any sense to comment on something like that.”

Hmm.  Not exactly a denial, is it?  I don’t have any doubt Ethier likes the Red Sox would love to play with his college teammate Dustin Pedroia, but still don’t think this is anything to worry about during the offseason at this point.

Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2010

Is the Sun Setting on the Dodgers Season?

My fellow Dodger fans, I apologize for the lack of posts since the trading deadline.  Life sometimes gets in the way of things, and that’s been the case as of late.  But I’m back, and will be at the game tonight covering all the action of Ted Lilly’s first start in Dodger Blue.

Before then, I did want to address the trade deadline dealing.  Like our friends over at the Sons of Steve Garvey, I really noticed an interesting schism between the “mainstream media” that seemed to love the Dodgers recent acquisitions, and the bloggers that cover the team who did not (I also just noticed that Orel and I both share a love for the word “schism”).  Here’s my take:

Yes, Ned Colletti did continue to live up to his reputation as a dealmaker, making two three trades at or near the deadline, landing veteran outfielder Scott Podsednik, veteran lefty starter Ted Lilly, veteran infielder Ryan Theriot and veteran reliever Octavio Dotel.  See a pattern?

We know Joe Torre likes his veterans, but I’m sure he’s not excited about the quality of these moves, despite what he says publicly.  Afterall, he came from the Yankees…a team that makes big moves when they need to.  And the Dodgers (other than last night) are a team that’s had an absolutely horrific time scoring runs over the course of a six-game losing streak. 

I give Ned credit for making moves given the financial restrictions that he’s facing (the Dodgers assert there are no financial restrictions) and not sacrificing a ton in terms of the prospect department, but when I look at these moves, I just don’t think they’re collectively big enough to turn this club around.

Right now, I’m think of the Dodgers like a slow-moving freighter, slowly making their way down the NL West standings.  The effort to turn around said freighter is going to be a Herculean task requiring all hands on deck.  Do the recent additions (and the subtraction of fan favorite Blake DeWitt) help the Dodgers accomplish this?  Theoretically, yes it helps, but I fear it’s just too little, too late.  What the Dodgers desperately needed was a shot of addrenalin…ala Manny Ramirez at the trading deadline in 2008.  As I noted on my Twitter feed yesterday, the Dodgers need motivation.  Passion.  Desire.  The offense is simply listless and the position players are like zombies out there. Short of the arrival of Kenley Jansen, I just don’t see the necessary heroics for the team or its fans to rally around.

Yes, there’s still time, but winning the remaining three games against the Padres is an absolutely critical first step.  Otherwise, the sun might set on the Dodgers’ season a lot quicker than we all would like.

Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2010

Trade Rumors of the Day

As the trade deadline approaches, there are (and will be) numerous rumors, each with varying degrees of truth.  We’ll continue to report the major ones, but keep in mind that these are just rumors, many of which are floated by various general managers and organizations as smokescreens.  Ok, on to the rumors!

The persistent rumor today has the Dodgers talking to the Pirates about starter Paul Maholm.  Per Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

“Maholm, a 28-year-old left-hander is the Pirates’ highest-paid player on the active roster at $4.5 million — second baseman Aki Iwamura is continuing to make his $4.85 million salary in the minors — and he is coming off a three-hit shutout Sunday of the Astros. Overall, he is a team-best 6-7 with a 4.03 ERA.”

Paul Maholm? Eh. The news that the Dodgers are talking to the Pirates about this guy doesn’t get me excited (57 Ks and 40 walks in 114+ innings of work), but he most likely is going to be the type of starting pitcher the Dodgers eventually acquire before the trading deadline.  He won’t cost them a ton in terms of prospects (hopefully), and also won’t cost them that much in terms of salary this season and next year (per a tweet from DodgersFYI, “Maholm is owed $5.75M in ’11 % has a 9.75 club option in ’12 that can increase to $11.05M with a $750k buyout”).  No word yet on who the Dodgers may have to give up to land Maholm.

On the plus side, Ned Colletti told Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times that he’s not planning on moving Matt Kemp:

“I’ve never floated his name,” General Manager Ned Colletti said. “He’s a gifted, five-tool player. He’s getting better and better. He’s had a tough couple of months. It’s a baseball career. It’s not a baseball two months.

“I have no intention of moving him.”

And trading Andre Ethier would be even crazier than trading Matt Kemp, right?  This is lunacy in my book, but Peter Gammons thinks it’s a possibility (per Steve Dilbeck at the LA Times):

“The one team I keep wondering about if they drop a few games back, if the Dodgers start dropping back, would they talk about Andre Ethier. He’s going to make $10-$12 million next year, the coaching staff feels with their bizarre ownership situation, they don’t want to pay Ethier and might trade him now. That would be a fascinating guy to go after.”

More updates to come…

Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Can the Dodgers Make a “Major Transaction?”

Jim Bowden, the co-host of “Inside Pitch” on MLB Network Radio and a baseball analyst for Fox Sports, tweeted today that Ned Colletti told him that the Dodgers have “the flexibility to make a major transaction.”

Not sure I buy that, but the Dodgers definitely are looking for starting pitching and relievers. Relievers are always a crapshoot (case in point, George Sherrill), so don’t expect Ned to give up much for a bullpen arm, but there are some interesting #1-caliber starters out there.  For example, we know that Roy Oswalt is available, and I suspect Ben Sheets and Dan Haren can be had for the right price, but I just don’t see how the Dodgers can make take on that kind of salary right now.

Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo/UPI