The Dodgers need a pitcher, but do they want to pay the price?
The Los Angeles Dodgers are in a serious divisional race for the first time since 1997. Though the Dodgers have played well this season despite having a ton of injuries, they have three starting pitchers on the disabled list for a month at least. With two weeks until the trading deadline, many people think the Dodgers should trade for a starting pitcher. However, what do the Dodgers have to trade? The Dodgers cannot trade Mark Grudzielanek or Gary Sheffield and have any hope of winning the division.
The Dodgers have a history of making bad trades. In the 1990s the Dodgers traded away famous players such as Pedro Martinez, John Wetteland, and Pedro Astacio for Delino DeShields, Eric Davis, and Eric Young. Martinez, Wetteland, and Astacio have had good performances in the other teams' uniforms. DeShields and Davis struggled in Dodger uniforms, and the Dodgers had difficulty getting rid of those players.
Last July the Dodgers made two trades to help them to win their division. Though Todd Hollandsworth was not an asset to the Dodgers because they did not need a left fielder, Tom Goodwin has not been a good addition. Though Hollandsworth has missed most of the 2001 season with a nerve problem, he makes less than Goodwin and has a one-year contract. Goodwin, 33, was supposed to solve the Dodger leadoff problem, but he has not. This spring the Dodgers had their bunting and base running coach Maury Wills spend much time with Goodwin trying to teach him to make more consistent contact and develop downward slant on his swing to produce more ground balls. The extra work has not helped Goodwin's performance. His batting average is .243, and his on-base percentage is .292. Goodwin has lost his center field job to Marquis Grissom. Goodwin signed a three-year $10.75 contract in December 1999. Because Goodwin has not performed well, the Dodgers cannot trade Goodwin easily.
The Dodgers traded Jamie Arnold for Ismael Valdes. Valdes did not do well in a Dodger uniform and could not pitch in September. Though Arnold was not a great young pitcher, the Dodgers could use him now with Darren Dreifort and Andy Ashby out for the season and Kevin Brown out for a month at least. Arnold is in triple-A for the San Francisco Giants.
To trade for a player, the Dodgers must have something that other teams want. Most teams, who are out of their divisional races or the wild card race, are looking to lower payroll and strengthen their farm systems. The Dodgers do not have much room on their payroll for another expensive player. They do not have many top prospects to trade. The Dodgers need to keep their minor league prospects because they have an older team, and they must lower their payroll. The teams, who are in contention, look for players who can help them make the playoffs. Other teams do not want many Dodgers, but they do want Mark Grudzielanek, and they will take Gary Sheffield. Mark Grudzielanek is a good contact hitter, hitting close to .300. Though I would not mind if the Dodgers traded Sheffield, the Dodgers feel they have a power shortage and Sheffield is a good power hitter, who is difficult to replace.
The Dodgers need starting pitching, but all teams want starting pitching. The Dodgers have Darren Dreifort out for the rest of this season and possibly for the entire 2002 season. Andy Ashby is out until next season. Kevin Brown is out until September 1 at least. Chan Ho Park is the only experienced starter in the Dodger starting rotation. By Friday the Dodgers must locate a fifth starter. They cannot convert another reliever as they did with Terry Adams. The Dodger bullpen has overworked because the starting rotation has had many injuries and the replacement starters have not often gone at least six innings. Maybe the Dodgers can find a starter for Alex Cora, Angel Peña, and another minor leaguer. Since neither Cora nor Peña is considered to be a good prospect, the starter probably will not be top notch, but the Dodgers need a person to start some games and go at least six innings.
Though the Dodgers do not want to jeopardize their future, they must have another starter to be a serious contender. Though the Dodgers would like another infielder and a good leadoff hitter, they cannot get this much. Will the Dodgers survive without another starting pitcher? The Dodgers probably will not because the San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Colorado Rockies have outstanding hitters. The Dodgers need a pitcher who can pitch a lot to rest the bullpen. When the Dodgers have shown a winning spirit bouncing back from adversity, it would be a shame if the Dodgers miss a playoff berth.