COMMENTARY | Edinson Volquez is the player the Texas Rangers famously traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Josh Hamilton before the 2008 season. He was so good in 2008 that he earned nine National League Rookie of the Year voting points, even though he wasn't a rookie.
But it's 2013. Volquez, 30, hasn't been the same pitcher since that solid season. So, naturally, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed him to a major-league contract on Aug. 28 after the San Diego Padres released the veteran right-hander.
The Dodgers' 1 through 4 starters are great -- Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Ricky Nolasco -- but the No. 5 spot in the rotation has given the Dodgers some trouble this season. Of course, a team that's 9 1/2 games ahead in the division and just 2 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Braves for the best record in baseball doesn't really need to worry about its No. 5 starter, but the Dodgers still signed Volquez.
Chris Capuano has been wildly inconsistent this season. He's dealt with minor injuries, but he's certainly not the same pitcher he was last season.
Stephen Fife has been good, when he's been healthy and in the majors. But he's struggled in recent weeks with the Albuquerque Isotopes, and beat writer Chris Jackson thinks there could be something wrong with Fife's shoulder at this point. Fife has been on the disabled list two times already this season with shoulder bursitis.
Some believe Volquez will earn some September starts for the Dodgers. I guess it could happen, but he's been terrible this season with the Padres. His 6.01 ERA in 142 1/3 innings says about all you need to know. He's below-average or worse in virtually every major pitching category. I'm really not sure what the Dodgers expect to get from him.
The Dodgers are no stranger to reclamation projects. They traded for Brandon League last year and got him figured out for the last six weeks of the season. That led to an ill-advised 3-year contract, and he's back to being bad this season.
They also picked up Carlos Marmol in a trade in July. He has 12 strikeouts in 12 innings (good), but he also has nine walks (bad). It remains to be seen if he can recapture his 2007 through 2011 form.
The Dodgers also signed Brian Wilson just about a month ago. The former All-Star closer of the San Francisco Giants has pitched sparingly with the Dodgers thus far (2 2/3 innings, zero runs, four strikeouts) and, like Marmol, it remains to be seen if he can be anything close to what he once was.
Hoping for or even expecting similar success from Volquez is misguided. Volquez has always had trouble throwing strikes (4.8 walks per nine innings in his career) and didn't really benefit from Petco Park's massive environment the last couple seasons.
At this rate, if Volquez makes an appearance with the Dodgers, I'd be surprised. If he makes any kind of meaningful start for the Dodgers, I'd question (even more) general manager Ned Colletti's mental state.
If Volquez is retained following the season, works with the Dodgers in the winter and figures things out enough, he could compete for the No. 5 starter spot in the spring. But the Dodgers also have pitching prospects and other young pitchers who could vie for that spot.
There isn't much to be made about this signing. It's extremely low-risk and the reward is relatively limited. Volquez still throws in the low-90s and has two offspeed pitches he uses. The stuff isn't the question, it's whether he can harness said stuff. This screams of the Jonathan Sanchez signing, and that's probably all it is at this point.
Dustin Nosler has followed the Dodgers from Northern California all his life. He's the founder of Feelin' Kinda Blue, a Dodger blog. He also co-hosts "Dugout Blues," a weekly Dodger podcast. Find him on Twitter @FeelinKindaBlue.
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