I'll start by saying this: I wouldn't be opposed to dropping out of the race and selling. Packing it in for 2010. Punting on Broxton, Martin, Loney, Padilla, whatever. Maybe someone will want Manny in August; he'd surely pass through waivers. The Dodgers are seven games back in the West, and the longer things go on, the less it matters that the Padres really aren't this good. Yes, they're just three-and-a-half games out of the Wild Card lead, but that's sort of illusory--there there are three non-division-leading teams between the Dodgers and that last playoff spot.
Baseball Reference hosts this cool figure conjured up by John Dewan called Summed Games Back, which sort of takes into account both teams' records and how hard it will be to pass them along the way to the top. By that calculation, the Dodgers are effectively 7.5 games out of the Wild Card and 10.5 back in the West. Could the club go on a run? Of course. But, with the farm system ravaged by the trades and non-investment of recent years, I wouldn't be opposed to kick-starting the system by selling off desirable, soon-to-be-expensive big league pieces.
But I don't think the club has quite reached that conclusion. Over the last couple weeks, there have been several articles (like this one and this one) focusing on the same general theme: despite the ownership turmoil and everything else, the Dodgers intend to buy at the deadline. And buy they have, a little bit: they traded a couple minor league pieces for the useful Scott Podsednik. Today, the discussion is centered on adding Ted Lilly, a 34-year old from Lomita whose #1 and #2 career comparables are Randy Wolf and Brad Penny. Lilly, owed several million dollars over the remainder of the season, would shore up the back half of the rotation, slotting in alongside Hiroki Kuroda behind Kershaw and Billingsley.
And maybe the Dodgers make the move. Maybe they toss the Cubs a couple of the few remaining good prospects so that Chicago will cover Lilly's salary. Maybe they take on the money themselves. However it is accomplished, maybe the Dodgers add Lilly, hope for a little bit of luck, and make a September push. It would be a shame, after all, to sacrifice a year of the core's youth in a lost season.
Or maybe it's all just blustering. Over the winter, the Dodgers made it loudly known that they were in on Joel Pineiro. Of course, it's not clear that the sides even exchanged numbers, but see? The Dodgers were in on Joel Pineiro! No money problems here! Then in June, the Dodgers took a highly-regarded Texas high school right-hander named Zach Lee in the draft. See? The Dodgers drafted a premium talent! Only problem: Lee is also premiumly talented at football, and was considered the toughest first rounder to sign even before the penny-pinching Dodgers picked him.
And here we are in late July, with the Dodgers again making loud pursuit of pitching. We're buyers! We're in on Lilly! Like I said, maybe it happens, though I'm sure I'm not alone in praying this doesn't go the same way as Blake/Santana and Sherrill/Bell. The tough part here is that it's still perfectly clear the Dodgers don't understand the time value of player acquisitions; Ted Lilly is not bad, but giving up anything of value for ten of his starts is unwise unless the margin between making and missing the playoffs is a game or two. It's not.
Resources spent on the draft and in amateur free agency go farther than resources spent on major league free agents. And resources spent on major league free agents go farther than resources spent at the deadline, because there are only two months left and the cost is often more than just money. I'm against a Lilly deal on the not-unreasonable assumption that the Dodgers might surrender a prospect or two just to put the We're Trying! veneer on a decaying season.
I hope I'm wrong about everything in that last sentence. I hope a Lilly acquisition would come from the naive-but-well-intentioned place of "we're still in it." I hope we don't surrender a prospect or two. And I certainly hope the season isn't decaying; Billingsley, Kershaw, Kuroda, and a healthy outfield would make the Dodgers a tough out in October. But, for all that short-term hope, I still have the long-term hope that, at some point, the Dodgers will start thinking about the big picture. And that big picture shows a pipeline that has hemorrhaged talent over the last several seasons chasing races more easily salvageable than this one.
Kyle Lohse will miss his next start with an elbow injury
11 minutes ago