“Dodgers Facing a Blue Season?
They’re almost all gone, the frontline pitchers, who were up for bid in baseball free agency.
Gone to Arizona, arriving at Fenway Park and to Chinatown, but not to Chavez Ravine.
The first wave of free agency is nearly complete, with the superstars getting mega contracts.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, with the highest payroll in baseball, have a real problem now.
It’s not because of a rookie manager they brought on board. It’s got nothing to do with the constant crisis that is Yasiel Puig. It surely does not involve the health of the legendary Vince Scully.
It’ the pitching staff, the one that gave you Clayton Kershaw first, Zack Greinke second, in any three game series, any weekend matchup the Dodgers would play.
Kershaw, at age 25, is every bit the equal of the greatness of Sandy Koufax. Greinke was as close to being a Don Drysdale, in forming a great 1-2 combo at the front of the rotation.
Greinke is gone. Took the biggest payday he could, regardless of whether the Arizona Diamondbacks have enough to get a diamond-studded World Series ring next October.
Left behind is a patch-work package of post-surgery pitchers, recycled high mileage veterans, and untrustworthy young kids.
The LA front office loved Greinke, and offered him what would have been a record 4-years worth 120M, with an option for a 5th season. The 32-year old righthander loved being Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with Kershaw. But when he saw what the Red Sox gave pitcher David Price, the demands changed.
Price went to Fenway Park for 32M a year, on a 7-year, no trade deal. Greinke was not going to accept less, and the Dodgers decide they weren’t going to offer more. End of relationship, good luck in Chase Field, it’s the Diamondbacks problem if you break down. LA was not going to guarantee that kind of money to a pitcher who would be age 37 when he gets his final payday. Six years of investment was offset by six years of risk, knowing the history of pitching breakdowns.
However LA turned around and signed aging Mariners pitcher Hashishi Iwakuma, to a 3-year deal, worth 45M total, with all the bells and whistles, including a no-trade proviso. They guaranteed him that deal that carries him to age 37, and he has already had arm issues. So they won’t take care of the greatness of Greinke, but they are willing to gamble on Iwakuma?.
You look at the staff on paper, and you cringe, once Keshaw has made his start in the rotation. Hyun-Jin Ryu is coming off shoulder surgery, and has lots of miles on his arm, an arm with a bad history. Brandon McCarthy has fought thru terrible injury adversity in his career, and is a warrior but limited. Brett Anderson cannot stay healthy, not in Colorado nor in Oakland, and then not in LA.
Beyond that, young Mike Bolsinger faded a third of the way into the season. Carlos Frias was drydocked with back issues. The kids, Zach Lee and Joe Wieland, were found wanting and never made a mark infront of the clubs execs.
The remaining free agents won’t come cheap. Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija both went to the Giants, for a combined 220M investment, so everyone’s price went up. The next tier of guys expecting phone calls are led by ex-Reds and Giants pitcher Mike Leake, and former Padres starter Ian Kennedy. But they are 4th or 5th starters in people’s rotations, and yet they might be slotted into being the next guy up after a Kershaw start. Doug Fister-Scott Kazmir anyone? Don’t think so.
Maybe Japanese free agent pitcher Kent Maeda is the one they land, in hopes he can be a Ryu, a Hideo Nomo, or a Chan Ho Park. But you never know with pitchers from abroad.
The Dodgers have issues. No 2nd baseman. A 3rd baseman coming off microfracture surgery. Age-injury-attitude problems in left and in right. A huge question mark about the kid in center And a productivity question even behind home plate.
The next wave of prospects, led by pitcher Julio Urias could be two years away, and what happens between now and then? Kershaw and lst baseman Adrian Gonzalez cannot do it all by themselves. LA steadfastly refused to put their blue-chip prospects in off season trades.
Granted the season does not start next Monday, but Dodgers baseball is surely not what they thought it could be, especially after what Arizona and San Francisco did.. You’ve got Greinke’s money to use, but no one out there comes close to being half the pitcher Greinke was.
The biggest spenders in baseball lost the arms race on marquee free agents. They’re on the brink of a losing season too.