In today’s version of “The Dodgers’ Desperate Hunt for A Fifth Starter,” the newest name bandied about the rumor mill is Cubs lefty Ted Lilly. They have been after Roy Oswalt, but the number of complications in a potential deal involving the Houston ace make a match between the Astros and Dodgers extremely unlikely.
Oswalt has a partial no-trade clause and he has been vocal about staying close to his home in the Midwest. He is owed 15 million in 2011 and has expressed a desire to have his 2012 club option for 16 million picked up immediately by his new employer. Furthermore, the Astros have requested an exorbitant package for the 32 year old: an elite young player from the major league roster, two top prospects, and another minor league player with upside. The young major league player requested from the Dodgers is rumored to be James Loney. Suffice to say, the Blue Crew will not consider something along those lines. Loney is a .300 hitter and LA does not have the luxury of sparing offensive talent.
Which leads me to my main point. Why exactly are the Dodgers so eager to upgrade their pitching? They managed to take 3 out of 4 from the Mets, despite scoring a whopping total of 7 runs in the series. They’ve watched their starting pitching dominate since the All Star break, while the offense has mustered an average of 2.2 runs a game since. Heck, even temporary 5th starter Carlos Monasterios threw 5 shutout innings in his last start before succumbing to injury.
I’ve written before about the limited positions free to upgrade amongst the starting position players. It’s difficult to find catching, so upgrading from Martin is not really a plausible option. Casey Blake is a veteran and clubhouse leader signed until 2011 at third base. Given the youth on the team, his presence is deemed necessary to maintain clubhouse chemistry. And of course, there’s the 20 million dollar albatross in left field who hasn’t actually been on the field much. So it’s not like I don’t understand the difficulties in finding the right fit offensively. Yet, that is truly the only area in need of upgrades. The rotation has been lights out. The bullpen is as good as it gets and the recent call up of flame-throwing reliever Kenley Jansen solidifies it further.
One guy seems to fit the profile offensively: Toronto’s resident Major League home run leader Jose Bautista. He is able to play third base and the outfield. He could step in for Manny in left or play third base, moving Casey Blake to second (or can he play second base himself?). Obviously, having Bautista or Blake at 2B is not an ideal situation but the Dodgers don’t have a ton of options at this point.