Foam Finger: A Pitch For New Dodgers Pitchers

Our off-season trade watch has begun

This week, blockbuster baseball trade news has broken more than Clayton Kershaw’s curveball.

On Wednesday, Prince Fielder and cash considerations were sent to the Rangers in exchange for Ian Kinsler. a trade benefitting both teams. The Tigers wanted to give Miguel Cabrera, a not-so-gifted defensive player, the opportunity to once again play first base, while the Rangers will plug Fielder, a power hitter, into an already electric lineup.

Today, the Angels and Cardinals continued a long history of trades (see: Jim Edmonds, Adam Kennedy) when they announced that speedy center fielder Peter Bourjos will be sent to St. Louis, while World Series MVP David Freese will be sent West.

The December meetings, in which a number of front office officials are known to wheel and deal, are—obviously—still a couple weeks away from happening, but I can’t help but feel a little deal envy on the part of the Dodgers. That’s why I was relatively pleased when Mark Saxon of reported yesterday that the Dodgers are eyeing starting pitcher Dan Haren of the Nationals.

I know what you’re thinking: Not this scrub. But Haren played last season for a Washington Nationals team that was surprisingly weak at the plate and he pitched much better down the stretch. I’ll take that any day over waiting on injured guys like Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett to get back to full strength.

For now, there are three “sure things” in the Dodgers’ starting rotation: Kershaw, Greinke and Ryu. Beyond that, all bets are off. In Haren, the Dodgers would at worst be getting a serviceable back-of-the-rotation guy whose ERA has never been over 5.00 at the end of a season (save for his rookie year in 2003) and has won ten or more games in each of the last three seasons.

The Dodgers may want to free up a salary for Japanese pitching ace Masahiro Tanaka, but since when have these new Dodgers, under the ownership of Magic Johnson, been about keeping spending down? As long as the team keeps wining and people keep showing up to Dodger Stadium, the team’s luxury tax will be more than covered.

And isn’t that the point of having what is already an outrageously high payroll, the luxury of it? The ability to compare two startable pitchers side-by-side and have options?

I’m not saying the Dodgers need to go crazy and sign every single journeyman pitcher with a pulse and a glove, but they should look at options like Dan Haren or Bronson Arroyo—at least in the short-term—as guys who have the potential to produce quality starts on a consistent basis.

Given the fact that this team won 92 games last season, I’d say its key parts are already in place. Now the Dodgers just need to fine-tune and fill out their roster with the right back-end starting pitchers and bench players.  My hope is that they don’t become too fiscally conservative to do so.