REJOICE!!! If there is a silver lining to losing Zack Greinke after trading three of our top prospects to the Brewers for a failed playoff push, it’s that he didn’t sign with the Rangers. In related news (kind of), not only did the Rangers not sign Greinke, the also traded Michael Young to the Phillies this morning. Not a great day for the AL West, but not a bad one for us either.
September 30, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Zack Greinke (23) throws to the Texas Rangers during the first inning at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
To be perfectly honest, I’m more heartbroken about the 2000+ songs I deleted from my phone today by accident. That incident led to a small brush fire. I had been holding out hope that Greinke might be coming back. Jerry Dipoto has been sticking to the clearance aisle this winter picking up relief help. He even got creative in picking up Tommy Hanson to fill the “middle of the rotation if good/back of the rotation if bad” starting spot. There was still plenty of money left in the payroll to go after Zack and set us up for 2013. Then Joe Blanton happened. In theory, we still could have had Greinke, but I prefer reality. Greinke was gone, time to move on.
So, here we are, sitting at roughly $135 million in payroll obligations. What does Jerry do now? Well, we still need pitching, mainly starting pitching. Our bullpen is set, and there a couple of high quality arms in the minors who could come up and fill in in a pinch. Our rotation is five deep, on a good day. Anibal Sanchez is still available. He is now the only “good” pitcher who is still in his prime left on the market. But I’m sure his agent is very pleased that Greinke has finally signed a contract. Any team that was in the market for a top-ish tier pitcher is now going to have to overpay severely for Sanchez. Ditto for Ryan Dempster, who is now more than likely to get that third year that he so badly wants on his next contract. Back to the clearance aisle Jerry.
Well, what do we have here? A mostly bare cupboard, that’s what. Dallas Braden is still available, as is Joe Saunders. We can see if Mike Butcher can screw up some more arms and sign either Jonathan Sanchez or Francisco Liriano. Yeah, it’s pretty depressing here. The drop off in this years free agent class after the top flight pitchers are gone is pretty damn steep. There really is, no one left on this list that a team who is expected to contend should even bother with. Dipoto could pull of another trade, but that would be a death punch to our minor league depth. So, I’m going to lay the conservative card and predict that we go into the season with a rotation of:
Yup, that’s a whole lot of meh right there. But, if I take off my pessimist hat and pick up my poms poms, it looks a little better.
Weaver is still Weaver and needs no build up from me. C.J. is coming off of bone spur removal. Yes it is “elbow surgery,” but it is the same surgery he had in 2009. He came back pretty good from that one. Tommy Hanson says he’s been tweaking his off season work out routine and regimen, which probably means that he will be showing up to spring training in the “best shape of his life” at the ripe old age of 26. Joe Blanton is why we can’t have nice things, but there is value in a pitcher who can be counted on to take the ball and pitch 170-180 innings every year. That value is right around replacement level, but it’s valuable nonetheless. The new question is: Who takes the fifth spot? Does it go to Richards, his upside and rumored attitude problems? Or Williams and his uninspiring repertoire? Decisions, decisions.
Richards is probably the best bet to be the fifth starter. Williams slots better as the long man/swing man type. It’s not the choice I would personally make, but it is most likely the decision that Mike Scioscia will go with. Sorry Jerome, I love ya, but sorry.
So, barring a trade (Which I fear), the rotation above is the one we will most likely see come opening day. The Dodgers payroll is now approaching infinity, which we can all laugh at when they get bounced out of the wild card game in October. Ours is a more comfortable, and flexible one. At least if it doesn’t work out, The beer prices are still incredibly low by Major League ballpark standards. Which is good, it will probably come in handy 60 percent of the time. Cheers.