I may have been mistaken in my last post. I claimed that the Dodgers are stuck with what they have in the rotation, because nobody of consequence will pass through waivers in August and be affordable for them. Consider this eating my words – the Dodgers could be in play for Cliff Lee.
A waiver trade of this magnitude would be difficult to pull off, but the Dodgers are one of few teams with pockets deep enough to afford taking on Lee’s big contract.
Lee has reportedly already been placed on waivers by the Phillies, but no team is likely to claim him considering the enormity of that contract. But…the team that missed out on Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, James Shields and every other starting pitcher at the deadline might need to throw money and common sense out the window and take a flyer on Lee.
He’s a former Cy Young winner who, despite his 2-6 record, is pretty much dominating as he always has. And we all know that the Los Angeles rotation is about as deep as a toilet bowl.
With the moves the Dodgers made at the deadline, the offense is suddenly locked, loaded and about as scary as any outside St. Louis in the National League. But as we’ve seen a hundred times in the past, pitching and defense really do win championships.
And that’s what we’re after, right? A World Series title? That is what the new ownership promised to spend money on. Putting a championship-caliber team on the field every day.
Well, they are close. But not close enough. Clayton Kershaw is tasked with shouldering the load in the rotation, and is followed by a couple scraps of meat and a ball of lint. Not to name names, but Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano and Chad Billingsley haven’t exactly been the most consistent pitchers in the world. Or the universe for that matter.
Capuano, while off to a fantastic start and providing mostly quality outings, has faltered lately. It was only a matter of time – Cappy is a career .500 record/4.00 ERA type pitcher. Similar to Billingsley. Better than Harang. That doesn’t bode well if the Dodgers are seriously going to contend for the World Series, let alone the playoffs.
We need a shut down type of pitcher to complement Kershaw. And who better than a fellow lefty with just as dazzling control and even more experience?
Lee could be had for the right price. If the Dodgers are willing to eat all but maybe $10-15 million of his contract, and provide the right type of prospects, Lee could definitely be wearing Dodger Blue by the middle of August.
Unfortunately, acquiring Lee might cost a Lee of our own – Zach Lee, the organization’s top overall prospect and first-round draft pick. But sometimes sacrifices of that magnitude need to be made in order to win right now. We don’t know if Zach Lee will pan out in the future. He has an exceptionally high ceiling, yes. But Cliff Lee has already panned out, and will continue to be a brilliant starter for a few more years.
If the Dodgers can put together a package like Lee or Allen Webster and a couple other prospects for Cliff Lee, and then agree to take on a major portion of that contract, they would immediately become overall favorites in the National League.
Instead of just “the big buyers who still can’t pitch worth a damn.”
Getting Cliff Lee is worth a shot. It’s worth the prospects and worth the cash. And if the players, coaches and owners really want to win NOW, Ned Colletti needs to go for it.
Put in a waiver claim. Pony up the cash. And then spend the rest of August finding a way to overpay for a guy who might be the key to unlocking this team’s first World Series appearance in nearly a quarter-century.
You can follow Jeremy on Twitter @Jamblinman.