July 13, 2009, 10:03 p.m.
Item: Roy Halladay might be traded.
Item: Roy Halladay might not be traded.
Bigger Item: Contrary to common belief, the Dodgers do not need Roy Halladay. It's arguable that starting pitching is even the club's priority (more on that in a minute), but this idea that Halladay is the guy, the end-all in starting pitching, and worth trading key players from what is now the best team in baseball by plenty, really needs to be addressed.
Look, of course the Toronto ace is a great pitcher. Like, duh. He might even be a World Series hero in the making. So what if he's never thrown a pitch in the postseason, and there's no predicting what a star might do his first time on the October stage.
More importantly, much more importantly, a general manager's task is not only to predict to the best of his ability which player or players will help his team down the stretch and into the Series, but to get the maximum while giving up the minimum. Take advantage of the other club, do not let it go the other way around.
I love Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, and I've raved about his work in this space for years, but Russell Martin plus whoever for Roy Halladay is a ridiculous suggestion. A team built on pitching doesn't trade the guy who catches that pitching to the degree of importance and with the dependence on which a club like Dodgers has with Russell Martin. Joe Torre surely knows that, Ned Colletti does too, and it's just a lame idea.
Trading the farm for an arm like Halladay's, maybe, but the heart and soul of the team, current batting average and home run totals notwithstanding? Please.
I've been talking about the other Roy for weeks and will continue to till I'm Dodger blue in the face. Houston still has a shot in the mediocre National League Central, and that's fine. The Dodgers can afford to wait to the very last moment of the non-waiver trading period on July 31, or into August for a waiver deal, to get an ace the quality of Roy Oswalt. He's got a big but not Barry Zito or CC Sabathia-like big contract, and is worth the money, especially when you wouldn't have to give up a starting player or a boatload of minor leaguers to get him. And you wouldn't.
Beside Oswalt, here are a few names for you. Cliff Lee we all know about, and I'd give a testicle to science if he were getable for a James MacDonald, a Blake DeWitt and a couple of prospects. There's a deal worth debating. Maybe the Dodgers do go ahead and take Kerry Wood to make it happen. That might turn out all right, and it's only money.
Gil Meche, Mark Buehrle (if the White Sox fade), Javier Vazquez (although he hasn't pitched well in the postseason), Wandy Rodriguez (2010 is his walk year), Doug Davis, Zach Duke and Aaron Harang are possibilities too.
The thing is; the Dodgers don't need a starting pitcher. I mean, it would be nice, sure, but they don't need a starting pitcher. Philly won the last World Series with essentially one good starting pitcher, Cole Hamels.
Though you might not think so now, Chad Billingsley might be the Hamels of 2009. And you might not think so now, but for all we know, Clayton Kershaw is a hero for the ages, come October. The history books are filled with October surprises – it's always been that way and probably always will – with plenty of examples of hurlers other than the staff ace who led his team to Series victory.
And there have been almost as many sorry cases of ill-fated trades in quest of an arm that teams would love to have back.
If the Dodgers go for a starting pitcher, they'll be patient first, perhaps creative second, and generous with the purse-strings rather than the family jewels third. Let's hope so, anyway.
Forget a Russell Martin trade this season. It's thoroughly unnecessary to the point of malpractice, and there's absolutely no way.
I cannot remember a time in recent years, or ever really, when I wasn't waiting for a Dodgers mid-season trade with almost pained anticipation during the All-Star break, holding my breath until July 31. This year is different, and it's exhilarating. Los Angeles can stand pat and win it all. They do not have to make a trade. They just don't.
L.A. should keep as much of the team intact as is humanly possible, steering well clear of a deal which will mess with what they have. There's enough talent and experience to play for a ring already in place.
If the Dodgers can get a pitcher like the ones I've mentioned without moving a thing off the starting eight or parting with a key bench player, and I believe they can, then fine. Otherwise, no. Use the smaller chips to acquire a relief pitcher. Or two.
And they might need two. Torre says the only thing that that will fix Jonathan Broxton's troublesome and extremely big toe is an extended period of rest. If that's true, why not give it to him? They can get by for a few weeks with what they have, plus one new reliever, such as Chad Qualls.
Qualls will be a free agent in a matter of months, and Arizona will no doubt part with him while they can get something, since it's unlikely they'll pay him top dollar later. Qualls can close effectively until Broxton is healthy, and then be as good a setup man as the Dodgers can ever hope for. Win-win.
I understand the thing about trading within the division, but this puzzle piece is worth the consideration, for both squads. And it's a gazillion times more of this planet a concept than a Russell Martin for Roy Halladay trade...
Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…
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Speaking of a player named Qualls, check out Michael Bamberger's SI.com article, about Tom Seaver's near-perfect game, 40 years ago last Thursday.
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