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Are the Dodgers planning on
2003-01-24 09:57
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Are the Dodgers planning on trading some of their pitchers, or are they just concerned that they arenÕt healthy?

The team will carry 11 pitchers on its roster this season. Currently, the Dodgers have five starting pitchers in Brown, Perez, Ishii, Nomo and Ashby, five relievers in Gagne, Quantrill, Shuey, Carrara and Mota, plus Darren Dreifort. Their only real need right now is for a lefthander to substitute for one the aforementioned relievers, who are all righties.

Unless É

1) The team plans on trading from its surplus of starters or righthanded relievers to bolster the offense.
or
2) They donÕt feel that the pitchers they have now are healthy enough to endure this season.

The Dodgers have signed such lefty relievers as Pedro Borbon, Jr. to non-roster contracts to fulfill the slot that Jesse Orosco most recently handled. But the recent addition of Wilson Alvarez, an injury-plagued and ostensibly washed-up lefthanded starter, has me wondering.

Alvarez has won 88 games in his career and threw a no-hitter, but he had to sit out the 2000 and 2001 seasons before going 2-3, 5.28 in 23 games (10 as a starter) with lowly Tampa Bay last season.

General Manager Dan Evans told the press that envisions Alvarez as a candidate to replace swingman Omar Daal, now with Baltimore. But thereÕs a key difference. Daal was healthy Š Daal was insurance. Alvarez is anything but. Plus, they already have six starting pitchers on the roster before you even get to Alvarez.

With a non-guaranteed contract, of course, Alvarez may be nothing more than a flight of fancy. But he only amplifies the imbalance on the Dodger roster: lots of dubiously healthy starting pitchers.

If Alvarez actually can pitch, what can we expect? Dreifort and Brown are untradeable because of their contracts. Nomo and Perez pitched too well last year to trade at this point. And in the current economy, itÕs hard for me to imagine anyone wanting to take on the contracts of Ashby and Ishii before the late-summer pennant push, even if those two pitch well.

The only role for Alvarez right now is to take the lefthanded short relief slot (which in itself implies that Mota or Carrara will be traded Š I donÕt think either would be heading back to Las Vegas.)

Unless Š and this is the big one - the Dodgers already suspect that at least one of their starting pitchers will not be ready to take the mound in March?

This is my hunch. Further, IÕll make Kevin Brown my head huncho.

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