How quickly fortunes change in baseball. It seems like it was just hours ago when the Dodgers were rich in starting pitching, with manager Dave Roberts juggling seven starters by putting healthy pitchers on the ten-day disabled list here and there, and shuttling starters and relievers back and forth to Triple-A. Well, just guess what happened.
First, the inevitable happened with the team’s latest $48 Million Dollar Give-A-Way, Rich Hill. First it was missing time with his usual state of affairs, the blister, and then lo-and-behold, his lack of pitching ability caught up to him! As I’ve written so often, the journeyman walking injury, on the scrap heap for most of 2015 after an undistinguished career of demotions, releases and waivers among five major league teams, the then 35-year-old Hill was picked up by the Red Sox and pitched four solid games in September.
That netted him a million-dollar deal in Oakland for 2016, and after his usual DL stints and all of 76 inning pitched through the first four months of the season, the Dodgers load up the truck and let the A’s steal the silver in a horrible deal for Hill and the totally non-productive free-agent-to-be Josh Reddick. Once he got off the DL, Hill managed a grand total of 34-1/3 innings for the Dodgers, for which he was rewarded with his three-year, $48 M deal, the sort of thing art thieves and incompetent cooked politicians dream of.
So what do the Dodgers have out of Hill so far for their $16 M this year (and a little from late last year? Well, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Hill has set a standard never before seen in our lifetime. Elias today reported that after his start the day before yesterday, Hill had ten consecutive starts, dating back to September, 2016, in which he had recorded 15 or fewer outs, the LONGEST such streak by a Dodgers’ pitcher since 1893!. For the 2017 season, and for that $16 mil this year, in-between stints on the DL, Hill has managed to waddle through a total of 35 innings over eight starts, compiling a 5.14 ERA, 1.57 WHIP and a -0.2 WAR.
So, with Hill in the trash pile (as sooooo anticipated here), with Julio Urias not only losing his spot due to ineffectiveness and being sent down and now suffering from shoulder pain and on the DL himself, and with Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kenta Maeda both inconsistent and traversing back and forth from the starting rotation to the bullpen and back, and with the number eight guy, Ross Stripling, failing in his stints out of the pen and sent down to Oklahoma City, the Dodgers now find themselves in need of starting pitching, and if you believe the reports, actually discussing giving up a solid prospect or two for a HORRIBLE FRINGE pitcher whose talent and value have been repeatedly overstated int trade talks for five years: Believe it or not, there are reports that the team is interested in Chicago White Sox starter Jose Quintana.
Before discussing Quintana, let’s review the last deal that the Dodgers pulled off involving the White Sox, a three-team deal also involving the Cincinnati Reds, that has turned out to be DEVASTATINGLY BAD for Los Angeles. The winter before last, the Dodgers packed up
three of the organization’s top prospects, outfielder Scott Schebler and infielder-outfielders José Peraza and Brandon Dixon ostensibly sent to the White Sox (but then dispatched by them to the Reds for third baseman Todd Frazier), for Trayce Thompson, Micah Johnson and Frankie Montas. The sad, sad story of that trade will haunt the Dodgers for the next decade. Both Johnson and Montas were touted as great young prospects by the Dodgers, but within a year, each was traded away, Montas to Oakland as one of the talented guys dispatched for Hill and Reddick, and Johnson given away to Atlanta for the infamous “player to be named later or cash considerations”. For the record, Oakland recently dispatched Montas beck to the minors after 21 appearances and a 6.91 ERA.
In Thompson, the Dodgers acquired at best a future journeyman with average defensive skills, some power, but a guy that strikes out a LOT and that will never hit for an average. Thompson is significantly over-rated in the media due to the fact that his father is former LA Laker and current LA radio personality Mychal Thompson. But the facts are that when he came to the majors with the White Sox at the end of the 2015 season, he had a great two weeks, hitting home runs and compiling a great batting average. Since that two weeks, he has been awful. The following couple of weeks until the end of the 2015 season in Chicago saw his average drop 150 points, and in 2016 with the Dodgers, he hit a robust .225. This year he had a horrid spring training, and that continued in the season, as he is managing a .205 average in Triple-A. Thompson has speed and covers a lot of ground in the outfield, but if you watch him play you quickly see that he is at best average but more likely a below average fielder, frequently bobbing bounding balls and misplaying line drives and gappers.
So what did the Dodgers give up for this trio? Dixon is an ok prospect with a chance to get to the majors. He did pretty well in Double-AA in 2016 but has struggled, hitting only .230 this season in Triple-A. Pedraza is a top prospect who has played all over the infield and outfield for the Reds, Last season he hit a solid .324 in 72 games. Besides being a solid fielder with excellent offensive potential, the 23-year-old Peraza is great base runner who has stolen over 60 bases in a minor league season and in what amounts to one full major league season over this year and last, he has stolen almost 40 bases. But the star of the group is Schebler, who in his second season is a regular in Cincinnati who has played all three outfield positions for the Reds. As of today, Schebler has hit 18 home runs and driven across 35, stats that would put him right there with Dodgers’ phenom Cody Bellinger (18 HRs, 40 RBI) were he doing this in LA.
So the fact is that the While Sox have embarrassed the Dodgers in a major trade and the issue is, could it happen again? In Quintana the White Sox have a pitcher who has been
horrendously bad this season, compiling a 3-8 won-lost record, 5.07 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. In his sixth season as a regular starter for the White Sox, he has won in double figures only once, and had a wining record only twice. In 168 major league starts, he has managed a single complete game. His ONLY upside is the fact that he is signed through the 2020 season, but is THAT what rules trades in the major league baseball of today?
Quintana has at best a very slightly above average fastball, but his curve is far below average. He also throws a sinker, and that also is not a major league out pitch. His best out pitch is probably his changeup. This season, though, none of those pitches is working, hence his 5.07 ERA after 14 starts.
Trade for Quintana? NO WAY, and certainly not for anyone above a low level prospect. No, not even for that. We do not want Quintana on the Dodgers, period.