The world of Dodgers’ fandom is rejoicing, thinking with the moves the team made today that a world series title has been assured. People in the media and fans across SoCal have not bought into hype like this since the LA Rams brain trust said they were drafting a franchise QB in Jared Goff. Two of the three deals made today are just as good as the deal the Rams made trading away gold for a rusty tin pipe.
First the good news. The Dodgers did acquire a quality left-handed relief pitcher in 32-year-old Tony Watson, and to do so they only had to part with a couple of lower level prospects that were not on their radar for the near future, Oneil Cruz, a 18-year-old third baseman in low “A” and Angel German, a 21-year-old right-handed pitcher who has gone 3-15 with a 5.10 ERA so far in the low minors, but who has shown marked improvement in
21 games this season at Great Lakes in the Midwest League (1.91 ERA over 33 innings with 37 strikeouts). Watson is a solid major league-quality reliever who pitches in 70-plus games every season and who over six seasons has compiled a solid 2.68 ERA along with a fine 31-16 won-lost record and a 1.09 WHIP. He’s been that seventh or eighth-inning guy, and he’s also been a closer, though in that role he has not been overly successful. But he fits the bill for a solid, late-inning lefty.
And then there is that other lefty reliever that the Dodgers traded for today, Tony Cingrani, a 28-year-old, five-year veteran who had an excellent first full year in 2013 and who has been awful since. He is in no way a major league quality pitcher, period. This season, in 25 appearances he’s compiled a 5.40 ERA and 1.33 WHIP, and in only 231/3 innings pitched, he’s given up NINE home runs. Over the preceding three seasons he was 4-16 and in 159-2/3 inning pitched, while striking out 149 he also walked a horrendous 97. Over that time his ERA was 4.71. Lifetime he has blown more that one-third of his save opportunities, nine of 26.
Not only is Cingrani NOT a pitcher who has any chance of helping the Dodgers, but they gave up an actual veteran major league caliber player, outfielder-first baseman Scott Van Slyke, plus a prospect, to get him. Van Slyke was a victim of the Dodgers’ tremendous depth this season, spending most of the year in Triple-A, but he is a guy who has contributed in the past, and a player who in case of injury could step up the the majors and fit in without losing a step.
Along with Van Slyke, the Dodgers also gave up 20-year-old catcher-first baseman Hendrik Clementina who is currently hitting .370 at Odgen of the Pioneer League.
But all this stuff aside, the big deal, and the horrendous FIASCO, is the Yu Darvish trade, where the Dodgers gave up some solid talent to rent, for two months, an unproductive, over-rated 30-year-old free-agent-to-be, who has been pitching far less effectively than the guys he would replace in the rotation.
For some reason, supposed “experts” think that Darvish is a great pitcher. Look at the damn stats – HE’S NOT!. Lifetime, over his close to five years in the majors, he’s a barely above average 52-39, with an ERA of 3.42 and WHIP of 1.18, but looking closer at his numbers, he’s performed consistently worse season after season, and his last several weeks have been horrid.
As a rookie in 2012, he was a fine 16-9 and he made headlines with his strikeouts, collecting 221 that rookie year, and following that up with 277 in only 209-1/3 innings as a sophomore, while wining 13 and losing 9. But, over the almost three full years since, he’s gone 23-21 with an ERA of 3.49. This year, he’s a mediocre 6-9 with an ERA over 4.00. And recently, he’s been far worse. Darvish has LOST seven of his last eight decisions, in three of his last eight starts he gave up between five and ten earned runs, and his ERA over his last dozen starts is 5.03.
Compare that to Kenta Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu, the two Dodgers’ starters who will likely lose starting assignments to Darvish. During June and July, Maeda has gone 6-2 and in his 39-2/3 innings has compiled an ERA of 2.72. Over these same last two months, while Ryu has one been only 1-1. the TEAM has won five of his seven appearances, and his ERA of 3.72 is a run and a quarter lower than that of Darvish.
To get Darvish, the Dodgers gave up, among others, an exceptional young hitter in Willie Calhoun, the fourth-ranked player in the Dodgers’ minor league organization. The 22-year-old second baseman, getting his first taste of Triple-A, has hit 23 home runs in 99
games, while batting.298. He hit 27 homers last season in Double-A. How good of a hitter could he be? Well, one other stat is a very good indication. Over this year and last, while hitting 5o home runs while coming to bat 970 times, he’s struck out only 114 times!
In addition to Calhoun, for their two-month rental, the Texas Rangers also receive from the Dodgers A.J. Alexy and Brendon Davis. Davis is a 6’4″ shortstop who at 20 has not yet shown that he has the skills to play that position in the majors, nor that he can hit quality pitching. Alexy is a 19-year-old right handed pitcher who gained national fame a couple of years ago when his high school coach let him throw 164 pitches on one game. He’s currently at Great Lakes in the Midwest League where he’s striking out 10.5 batters per nine innings.
Can Darvish help the Dodgers? Sure he can. Will he? Maybe. Could any help he provides make a real difference? Not in the regular season for sure, but in the post season, perhaps. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens in October, and then see if the Dodgers re-sign Darvish, or let him fade off into the sunset. I cannot see them giving him the $150-200 Million or so that he’ll be demanding. Maybe he’ll pitch a great game in the World Series and help the team to a championship, but I think his days as a member of the Dodgers will be limited to 2017.