I don't disagree with any of that Rod. I just think that people go WAY overboard with statements such as that Bills should be released in favor of unproven youngsters in the minors. I think its foolish for several reasons; 1) it's unlikely any of the youngsters could out-perform Bills in 2012 and 2) Bills is not the worst starter on our staff, so why release Bills instead of Harang or Capuano?
I agree with you about our Farm system. You need a ton of prospects for 1 to reach his potential and a handful to be serviceable minor league players. That's what we saw recently; We had a ton of great position prospects (Loney, Kemp, Martin, LaRoche, Guzman, Hu) and Kemp reached his potential and Loney and Martin became reasonable major league players while LaRoche, Hu, and Guzman bombed (you might also put Thurston in this catagory, although I always thought he was lofted too highly to begin with). Monitoring pitching prospects can be a bit trickier; it some ways they are riskier (health problems) but there is also a reasonabe option in putting them in the bullpen, which many take well too. But it is rare that a very good prospect turns into a really good starting pitcher. Just off the top of my head over the last several years, we've had Kershaw, Bills, Broxton, Elbert, Jackson, McDonald, Meloan, Greg Miller, and Hanrahan. Kershaw turned into a really good starting pitcher. That's it. Remember when Jackson and Miller were going to become the new Drysdale and Koufax?
The new management better have some resources to spend, because they have two daunting tasks. They are going to have to spend and spend big in free agency for the team to win now. The Dodgers ought not heavily use trades to do this for fear of further depleting the farm system. They then need to rebuild the farm. It's difficult to do this domestically because of the draft. We have a good scouting team led by White. Make sure they have the resources necessary and then the Dodgers have to get big on foreign scouting and development again. There should not be a single foreign prospect of value that we are not in on in the next couple of years.
After watching the poor starts by both Capuano & Harang, I compared our starters WHIP (Walks, Hits/inning Pitched) for 2011. Here they are, along with ERA. I put Kuroda in there for WHIP reference:
Kershaw 0.98/2.28Lilly 1.16/3.97Kuroda 1.21/3.07Capuano 1.35/4.55Harang 1.37/3.64Billingsley 1.45/4.21 In ERA order:
Kershaw 0.98/2.28Kuroda 1.21/3.07Harang 1.37/3.64Lilly 1.16/3.97Billingsley 1.45/4.21Capuano 1.35/4.55
By those stat orders, Bills is either our number 4 or 5 starter, and quite expensive for a 4-5 starter. Lilly is number 2 or 3, and Capuano is either number 3 or 5. Harang is number 2 or 4.
No matter how we look at it from these statistical totem poles, Bills comes in at the back end of our order.
I certainly agree that Bills is a proven mid-level starter, and it would take a very rare phenom rookie to replace him. On our roster, he's an expensive back-of-the-order starter. Perhaps this is the year that he'll finally get his head together, but we all doubt it.
Even with his emotional/focus problems on the mound, he's still a "plus" for the team, albeit inconsistent. Replacing Bills for anything better this year just can't be done!
Uribe: Geez, what a big mistake. He has a good glove wherever he plays on the infield but is such an easy out for the opposition. Even if he hits .250 and 20 bombs for the next couple of years he has made out like a bandit with the contract Colletti afforded him. For the sake of competing this year we have to play Kennedy or Hairston Jr. @ 3B, meanwhile we look for a long term solution.
Bills: Is not a concern. He just pitched an excellent 8 1/3 innings, granted it was against a light hitting Pads lineup but I'll take that over the 3,4,5 runs in 5 innings. I don't think he'll ever be the beast #2 that I want him to be but certainly a formidable #3 for this team. What I really want to see out of him is the fortitude and the tenacity that no one will throw at our guys without expecting retaliatory action on his behalf. What we should concern ourselves with is Lilly, Capuano, and Harang- not Bills. Those 3 are essentially the same type of pitcher. Mediocre, slow throwers with somewhat hefty price tags. I want to see Eovaldi and or Lindblom. Eovaldi may take his lumps but he might be one for the future. Lindblom seems to posses the physical ability (big, strong, dude) to sustain the rigors of a starting spot and has demonstrated in his short span with the team that he has good pitching ability by coming in and getting us out of jams or holding it down.
It's fair that perhaps Bills is not the #2 on this staff, but you can't just look at 2011 when making that analysis. Harang had a outlier season in 2011 and I doubt he repeats that. So I would still put Bills ahead of Capuano and Harang on the depth chart (and we'll see if Lilly is healthy or not.) I also tend to think that Bills will outperform is 2011 (which was worse, especially in terms of WHIP, from any other season.)
But yes, I so agree is would be hard to replace Bills.