Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti has already stated that starting pitching will be the Dodger’s top priority this winter, as it should be. With the uncertainty of the health of Chad Billingsley, and Ted Lilly as well, the Dodgers are going to need to bring in another starter, possibly two from outside of the organization. If Billingsley needs to have Tommy John surgery, they’re going to need someone to fill his spot in the rotation, and it should be someone who can slot in as a number two guy behind Clayton Kershaw. So who should the Dodgers be targeting in their quest for another arm?
Kenny has been harping on me for the Dodgers to sign James Shields When I say harping, I mean literally he’s been almost harassing me on the subject. It’s a great suggestion. Not the harassment, I mean signing James Shields. Kenny says it to me almost every time we speak. The more I think about it , the more I love the idea. I’m kidding about the harassment of course. Shields would be a great fit for the Dodgers.
Right hander James Shields is 30 years old, and was originally drafted in the 16 round of the 2000 draft by the Tampa Bay Rays. Shields is 6’4, 215 pounds, and has pitched for Tampa Bay his entire career. Shields is finishing up a five year 17.75 million dollar contract. Here’s the thing though, Tampa Bay does have two team options in his contract for 2013, and 2014. So in order for Shields to be available, Tampa Bay would have to decline his options year, which they could considering he could become too expensive for them. Shields a nine million dollar option for 2013, and a 12 million dollar option for 2014, with a 1.5 million dollar buy-out. If the Rays decide they need to clear up some financial flexibility, and choose to not pick up his option, then he would become a free agent, and the Dodgers would be able to pursue him.
Shields originally hails from Santa Clarita, CA, and went to school at Hart High School in Newhall, Ca. The fact that he hails from my hood gives him more points in my book. IN his junior year of 1999, Shields was named the Los Angeles Time’s high school player of the year. That season after leading Hart High to the division II championship, he posted a 11-0 record, with a 2.35 ERA, and he also batted .478 with a school record 11 home runs. He was given a full scholarship to Louisiana State University. Baseball America ranked him as the 16 best high school prospect in 2000. Shields made his MLB debut with the Rays in 2002, but wasn’t able to pitch his first full season until 2003, because of season ending shoulder surgery. Shields has always been a good pitcher, and most known for his control, and being a work horse. Shields is primarily a fastball, change-up pitcher. He has a four-seamer, two-seamer, a very good change-up, a cutter, and a curve.Shields had his best season in 2011. That year, Shields finished with a 16-12 record, a 2.82 ERA, 225 whiffs, and pitched 249.1 innings of work. That year, Shields led the league with 11 complete games, earning him the nickname of “Complete Games James”. That season he was selected to his first all-star game, and finished third in the AL cy young voting. Shields had another solid year in 2012 for the Rays. In 2012, Shields posted a 15-10 record, a 3.52 ERA, and 223 whiffs in 223 innings pitched. Shields has excellent control. In 2011, he walked only 65 batters, and this season he walked 58. His season low is 36. His career walk per nine rate is 2.1. Potential problems are his high home run rate. The last two years, he has allowed 25 and 26 homers, and has a career 1.1 home run rate per nine innings. In Shield’s seven big league seasons he has a 87-73 record, a 3.89 ERA, and 19 complete games. Shields has over 1250 career whiffs. In Shields final start this year for the Rays, he pitched a complete game two-hitter, and whiffed 15, but lost to Baltimore because the Rays didn’t score any runs. The only run was a home run allowed by Shields to Chris Davis.
Shields is also the first cousin of former MLB outfielder Aaron Rowand. You can file that under more obscure facts about James Shields you may not have known. The Dodgers should sign James Shields. I think he would be a perfect fit, so does Kenny. He would look great in Blue. Don’t you think?