Should the Dodgers Get a Starter or Relief? It’s Simple – Must Have Both

It’s that time of year again. Twitter and the other media outlets are full of speculation about trades the Dodgers should (and shouldn’t be making) in order to perfect the team and break their generation-long World Series drought. I’ve engaged in the opining and debating myself. I’ve talked about it in Youtube videos and pushed my two cents worth into Twitter arguments about who to trade for, and which prospects are untouchable.

It seems a lot of us who aren’t in the Dodgers’ front office are arguing the Dodgers should make a trade for a starting pitcher. There’s another large group that’s saying the team should focus on shoring up the bullpen. I’ve come to the conclusion this should not be an “either-or” debate. In fact, the Dodgers need – and should definitely acquire – both a starter and a bullpen arm if they are serious about locking down a World Series championship in 2017.

The Dodgers’ number one ace, Clayton Kershaw, is on the DL with a strained back muscle. Although the signs of his coming back quickly from that are good, it’s his second back issue in as many seasons, and one never knows what complications can arise or linger with the back. You think hamstring injuries are tough to overcome? Try a bad back.

My point is, the Dodgers need a replacement starter as Kershaw insurance. If Clayton returns strong and remains that way, the Dodgers haven’t lost anything, and are exponentially a better team with a stronger arm than they presently have in the number four slot.

There are those who insist the bullpen is a more pressing need because the playoffs and World Series are decided by bullpens much more so than starters. I get that, and agree the Dodgers bullpen could use a bit of shoring up. Trading for a quality bullpen arm would not be a bad move.

The false debate in all of this is the split over starters or relievers. The Dodgers have the money, the prospects and/or current players needed to secure both, thus securing a stronger team for the fall tournament. I don’t profess to be privy to enough information to propose specific trades for specific players, and that isn’t what this column is about.

That said, the Dodgers must be creative enough to mix and match resources to make the pitching side of the team as strong as possible. And it’s just not there yet.

They don’t have to worry about the offense. We all know it’s a different hero every night, and they have displayed more than enough comeback magic, but the big blue arms still give off a bit more drama than I like to see on my team.

Baseball has always been about pitching, pitching, pitching. The Fall Classic even more so. I’m not naive enough to think the Dodgers can guarantee World Series success with a trade for the right starter, or if they find the right bullpen piece, but I know they will get a heck of a lot closer to that championship by adding two big pieces to the mix, rather than one.

The front office has been hesitant to make that one big trade for the past couple of seasons, thinking the team was strong enough to make it all the way. They thought piecemeal moves were enough. History and the number of championships the Dodgers won over that period have exposed the weakness in this thinking. Enough with injury-prone, middle of the road, bargain experiments that hope for the best, combined with iffy pitchers already on the roster. That’s given nothing in return but early playoff exits.

It’s tough enough to get into the Fall Classic. Once you’re in it, every pitch is magnified ten-fold. Halfway measures never won a championship. The Dodgers must fortify the starting rotation and shore up the bullpen if they want to be dancing on the steps of city hall in October.

 

Oscar Martinez

Oscar Martinez

I was born in the shadow of Dodger Stadium and immediately drenched in Dodger Blue. Chavez Ravine is my baseball cathedral, Vin Scully was the golden voice of summer all my life, and Tommy Lasorda remains the greatest Dodgers manager ever. My favorite things are coffee, beer, and the Dodgers beating the Giants. I also blog about my baseball card hobby at All Trade Bait, All the Time.

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41 thoughts on “Should the Dodgers Get a Starter or Relief? It’s Simple – Must Have Both

  1. I just watched Zack Britton close out Texas. His stuff looked really good; threw 96 a few times to strike out Mazara and get Beltre to ground out to end it.

    Apparently he’s gone 2 days in a row. Can you say showcase??

  2. Watching the ESPN broadcast. I really cannot stand listening to their announcers because they pay little attention to the game and most of their prattle has been about the Giants struggles. Olney has been analyzing the trade market, and he is not sure from what he hears that FAZ is in on any of the big names. Even the relievers. But by 1:00 tomorrow afternoon all our questions will be answered. Seems the Dodgers are really encouraged by the fact that Kershaw has thrown 3 days in a row.

  3. Both Verdugo and Calhoun in lineup tonight. Would seem to indicate they are not in any pending deal.

  4. I think a trade will be made, maybe two. There are too many blocked pieces and maybe the FAZ is trying to be cute by getting some salary relief if prospects are going out for a reliever. Would one do Calhoun plus Kazmir for Wilson? As a baseball matter no, but a move like that would definitely get us under the cap for 2018 and make us big players in the elite 2018 FA market.

    1. Yueh, I do not think that they do anything major involving their top prospects. They have said repeatedly that Verdugo and Buehler are nigh on untouchable. Kazmir is unwanted by anyone. The Dodgers would have to eat his entire salary. Name one team that wants a guy who has spent the entire season on the DL? Listening to this broadcast just reinforces that stance. Rockies just traded for Jonathan Lucroy. Blocked pieces? They are prospects. The guys who are in front of them are proven major leaguers. The Dodgers are not going to trade say Joc, or Puig and bring up a AAA kid in the heat of a pennant race. They might not be tearing up the league but look at it this way, Joc, Puig, Hernandez, Seager, have all been in the playoffs before. The only real rookie out there is Bellinger, but he is playing out of his mind. Calhoun, Verdugo, Buehler, for all their skills, they have never been there yet. If you trade for someone, you can bet he will be a major leaguer with experience and not so you can bring up a kid. Verdugo, and Buehler will probably be up in September, same way they brought Seager up in 2015.

  5. Wow Bellinger with the reflexes in the 5th. He made both stabs there look easy and the balls were coming out of the shadows.

    1. Why would anyone take Kazmir?

      I think something will be done. We will get a reliever. And if nobody goes down it just might be enough. I’d still like to see a good starter.

      1. Rockies just got Lucroy for a PTBNL> They really do not have to do anything, but I think they want a lefty reliever more than a starter at this point since all the teams asking prices for starters are astronomical. We will see, less than 24 hr’s to the deadline. Ryu is dealing today. So is the Bum. And NOBODY wants any of our flotsam like Kazmir.

  6. Puig with the best at bat he’s had this year. Too bad Taylor and Bellinger couldn’t win it.

    Extended innings ….

    1. Utley should have been out. A gift.

      Calhoun walked 4 times this afternoon.

      Did anyone see what Bud Norris did today?

      1. Utley was clearly safe on replay. But I think you meant the Giants’ Gillespie’s double clutch was the gift. It all even out as he got his glove on Turner’s bouncer in the hole – Puig had to hold up because of that.

        This one may go on for a few more innings ….

        1. A belt high two bounce doink to a drawn in third baseman is an out in any league. The guy took 4 steps to throw it. This team has nearly everything going for it.

          It’s kinda fun to see a midgets team this bad.

          6 relievers used so far. Yoiks

      1. ya. I like Wilson (he’s a Fresno St grad, so I have to root for him), but I totally prefer Britton. Let’s hope we get him

      2. I saw that but is it right? Theo Epstein only had to give up prospect ranked #96 out of the MLB 100 for Justin and Avila?

        1. The Cubs package for Wilson was very underwhelming. Let’s what the next 24 hours holds … I think Theo did a great job this deadline with what he had to offer.

  7. I have been a dodger fan since 1958 so I have heard these arguments time and again that you cant win unless you make a big trade so you mortgage your future for the crapshoot that is the playoffs. We have tried this and still failed to even make it to the WS. (Remember Hanley and Gonzales we traded for them and still did not make it.) Don’t get me wrong these were good trades they just did not bring a WS championship. Again there is no guarantee so I feel that we should do a deal if and only if we do not over pay, otherwise stay the course and see what the future brings.

        1. Mine too.

          Another gut feeling I get is that at this point nobody wants to do the arrogant uber rich Dodgers any favors. You don’t want to give us your best prospects? Up yours. We’ll settle for much less over here. I know that’s paranoia but how else do you explain some of the moves we do (Hill/Latos) compared to what other contenders do (Theo). Is Theo just more likeable than FAZ? Yeah, probably, but still…..

          How about Darvish for a few PTBNL? Sounds reasonable to me. If Darvish wins a WS game, the package includes … whatever. If he wins the Series MVP, they get whatever plus whoever.

    1. Hanley was the hottest player on the planet until he got his rib broken by the Cards. Had that not happened, the may well have made it that year. They were on fire, and losing their biggest bat, that had a negative effect on the team.

    1. Bobby

      This is the year, talk about a charmed life, or charmed year.

      A rookie wins it on his first major league at bat!

  8. Kyle Farmer might be our new AJ Ellis. They say he’s a great teammate and pitchers love throwing to him.

    I can see him being here for 10 years, starting and backup up guys like Grandal, then Keibert Ruiz

  9. I think Kyle Farmer was thinking of Michael Norris when:

    On @espn, Kyle Farmer credits the coaches in the Dodgers’ minor league system. That’s a nod to the franchise’s organizational alignment.

    1. Ok. I’ll nod to the organizational alignment.

      I look forward to some of their picks moving on up. I am also awaiting for some of those Cuban investments to pay off. Sierra, Alvarez, Estevez and Diaz represent over $67 million. There’s more too. Time for some organizational alignment of Cuban stars.

  10. You are right but what you said proves my point in that injuries cannot be anticipated, so if you overpay for any player you can lose it all through injury. The Dodgers did get 3 new pitchers at the trade deadline and did not appear to overpay, except, perhaps for Darvish. I am afraid that these trades may upset the club chemistry but we will see. Go. Dodgers!

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