The Dodgers Do NOT Need David Price
A lot of hoopla (by bored – and lazy – baseball writers) that the Dodgers will deal for David Price. In years past, when the Dodgers didn’t have that true ace, maybe, but now… why? I get the greed factor – “build a super rotation – that’ll show ’em” – but again, why? As it is, the Dodgers have played mostly mediocre or poor baseball and are one of the top teams in either league? Why? Because of the strength of their starting pitching – top to bottom, and yes, that includes Dan Haren, people. So if the Dodgers win the West and go into October play, it is largely due to that rotation, not the bullpen, not the offense, and certainly not the defense. So again I ask – why Price?
Would it surprise me if the Dodgers dealt for Price? No. The Guggenheim group came in declaring Frank McCourt’s farm was barren so they’d get that churning again. They drafted some good prospects, retained others, bought some International players and lo and behold, there is hope once again. To deal for Price would derail that hope – and for what? I don’t mean to diminish Price’s ability. If not hurt, like he was last year, he’s as good a pitcher as any in the game. But as it stands now the Dodgers are solid 1-2-3 and outside of an occasional lapse, Josh Beckett has learned to pitch and relies on smarts more than stuff nowadays. Haren is playing on a one-year deal and while uninformed and greedy “fans” complain, as a bottom of the rotation starter, he’s been mostly good, and certainly what you’d expect from a 4-5 starter.
So again, why would the Dodgers want Price? Well, who wouldn’t? Also, I can see Stan Kasten thinking, “easier to add another superstar to the group than do the hard work of benching or trading the superstars we have now.” I honestly don’t believe the Dodgers would be much better by adding Price. He’s a great starter, but 1-5 the rotation now is pretty dominant. Can Price field at SS, LF or CF? Can Price drive in runs consistently? I don’t think so, so adding another fancy pants starter seems redundant to me. Basically you’d be saying, “Haren isn’t a good option at 5, so we better deal for Price to upgrade.” Why?
In a post-season series you have 3 starters, and your other 2 go to the pen. So if the Dodgers added Price, Ryu would be moved to the pen. That’s saying Hyun-Jin Ryu isn’t to be trusted in important Oct games, which I don’t feel is the case. The bullpen currently has some deficiencies, mostly Brian Wilson, Chris Perez and Paul Maholm. In the post-season, a few of those guys wouldn’t even make the roster. So even if the Dodgers did nothing (I would opt for a good relief pitcher), the horses are present to win – the deck chairs just need to be rearranged a bit. Oct mandates such decisions, since 2 starters don’t have jobs.
A few other things bug me about the Price talk. First, it’s assumed by fans Tampa would give the Dodgers Price for nothing. Some say they’d part with garbage, but little else. If the deal this weekend between Oakland and Chicago didn’t teach you anything, you’re not that bright. Mid-season deals cost the front-runner a lot – or should. Chicago got, one most “experts” agree, to be a crown jewel for their infield, one of the games’ top prospects. In return – the price for doing business – the As addressed rotation deficiencies and are now set up to contend in the dog days and into the Fall. Both sides got what they wanted and no one put one over on the other. For Price, who’s markedly better than the 2 starters Oakland acquired, the price would be steep. The Dodgers don’t have the need to pay that kind of price and very little resources to do it anyway. In lay man’s terms, the price for David Price would be quite high and while improving the Dodgers rotation (again, already their strength), it would only improve it so much. The cost would be great in terms of next-generation kids, which I’d like to think is what Kasten is actually building towards, since this bunch of Dodgers is lackluster most of the time.
The other thing that’s funny is that Price is continually called a rental by those who oppose the trade to LA. I like the thinking but the getting there confuses me. If the Dodgers were fool enough to trade for Price, don’t you think the richest team in baseball would retain him? Also, wouldn’t Price, going from the outhouse (sorry, Tampa) to the penthouse, in a pitcher’s park, fitting in alongside Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Ryu, want to stay put? The term rental is used when Pittsburgh acquires someone, not the Dodgers. Not anymore. So I think that aspect of the conversation can be shelved.
Finally, I will say that while the Dodgers do not need another top starting pitcher, to humor those who are greedy and have been Lakers fans too long, I will throw out the name Cole Hamels. Hamels is not needed by the Dodgers any more than Price is, but if I were a GM and wanted to build the ultimate rotation, I would sooner deal with bottom dweller Philly. Hamels is a pretty outstanding starter and owed a lot of money. That money means Philly can ask for less than Tampa can for their star pitcher. So instead of moving Corey Seager, Joc Pederson or Julio Urias, the price would be more like Zach Lee, Paco Rodriguez, or some lesser prospects no one cares about anyhow. The Dodgers would be doing Philly a favor, so when you ask for favors, you can’t be as demanding. And before you complain about the contract Hamels carries, Price will have the same deal, or larger – once he was re-upped to stay in LA. i.e., it doesn’t matter. All things being equal, I’d prefer to keep the aforementioned kids, especially the position players, since pitchers can be had – as this mid-season is proving.
My hopes are that Kasten is smart and acquires a few relievers, perhaps a veteran for the bench and forces dumb Donnie to make the tough decision of playing the players who give the Dodgers the best chance to win over those who make the most money. If the team wants to seriously contend in Oct, they will need to play defense at shortstop and in centerfield. The best outfield combination, in my opinion, is SVS, Joc and Puig. The best defense at short is Arruebarrena or Rojas. Kasten and Donnie can let the inmates run the asylum, but in all my years of watching baseball, I know that the rotation is more than good enough now, the pen needs some tweaking, and the right players are on hand to fix the defensive shortcomings, they just aren’t being used. I hope Kasten and Donnie start using their heads for something other than holding their hats.