Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Hanging Chad

Poster nuetralluke over at Minor League Baseball had what I thought was a very good breakdown of the Dodgers 5th starter competition.

The Dodgers aren't being stupid in this situation. In fact, this move makes perfect sense for them. Despite what some on this board may think about Hendrickson and Tomko, if you look at their fielding indepent era's they were both over a half a run better than Billingsley last year. Yes, Billingsley is a very good bet to improve that in the coming years but that is exactly why he needs some time to hone his craft.

The Dodgers still see Billingsley as their future ace. Several people within the organization have said so explicitly and no one has said otherwise. It is also clear that the Dodgers are one of the deepest teams in the league when it comes to viable starting pitchers. By having Tomko or Hendrickson start the season in the rotation they are giving them as good a chance as any to improve their value for possible trades in the future. It is no secret that they have been shopping Brad Penny this offseason, doesn't it seem logical that with Kuo and Billingsley nearly ready to start full time and with Elbert and possibly Miller waiting in the wings that they would want to get the most out of Hendrickson or Tomko if they were going to trade them?

All that is actually pretty irrelevant though if you believe as I do that Kuo will begin the year in the rotation. He makes much more sense than Billingsley to start not only because he was so effective as a starter at the end of last year, but also because he proved ineffective as a reliever. Coming off of two Tommy John surgeries made it difficult for Kuo to warm up effectively in relief. He said so himself and his stats as a starter and as a reliever clearly back this assertion.

Here is what's going to happen. Kuo will be sent to the minors to begin the season. There will be 100 posts by people who picked Kuo as their 'great fantasy sleeper' crying about how dumb the Dodgers are. A few weeks into the season when they actually need a 5th starter Kuo will be the guy. If Bills excels in the bullpen Penny and possibly Tomko or Hendrickson will be traded opening up a spot for him in the rotation and all will be well in the world.

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