Hello, my name is Jacob Burch and Tim has asked me to contribute as his Dodgers’ correspondent. It’s great to be aboard and I look forward to offering news and insight on the boys in blue. If you have any Dodger related rumors, I can be reached directly at email@example.com.
Dodgers news has dried to the point where Luis Gonzalez being hit by a pitch thrusts itself as a headline. However, a common speculative thread is the availability of Brad Penny to the many teams in need of an impact in their starting rotation. The speculation bases itself on the depth the Dodgers have near the end of their starting 5, with no less than four guys, currently working for the fifth starter position, that would love to take Penny’s place.
There’s no shortage of posts over this off-season suggesting Penny as an answer to a pitching-deprived team’s prayers. The latest can be found in yesterday’s Clemens-to-Cards rumors, which suggests Penny is a more likely solution than The Rocket. Not to crush the hopes of teams in need of pitching, but there are a couple of issues that suggest that Penny won’t be traded until at least several weeks into the season.
First off, while it’s true that the Dodgers rotation shines in quantity, the tail-end of their staff lacks the consistency Dodgers’ GM Ned Colletti would want to hang his blue cap on. With Chad Billingsley likely taking the fifth starter spot, either a former-prospect with less than 60 major league innings under his belt (Hong-chih Kuo) or one of two starters that were forced to pitch from the bullpen last year (Brett Tomko, Mark Hendrickson) will have to force their way to allow such a trade to not derail the pitching staff.
Secondly, with the signings of Luis Gonzalez, Nomar Garciaparra and Juan Pierre, Colletti duct-taped the possible holes a trade for a big-bat could fill. To the adage "if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it", the Dodgers lack a position to upgrade without stunting a developing rookie or throwing away a newly-dried big-money contract. Third base may become an option if Wilson Betemit continues to disappoint, but with top-prospect Andy LaRoche nipping on his heels, it appears unlikely. Until the Dodgers rotation proves itself and the offense digs itself a hole or two, Penny will likely remain in Dodger blue.