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Hyun-Jin Ryu

In a 0-2 hole, can the Dodgers still win this series?

The short answer is: Of course they can.
 
The real question is: what is the likelihood of that happening?
 
What the Cardinals have done over the past two games is stunning: they’ve managed to take every advantage of even the smallest Dodgers mistake and exploit it to the fullest. They’ve taken every LA weakness and poked it til it’s bled. This isn’t an indictment on the Dodgers, a 92-win squad who could damn well still be the best team in the National League. It’s a testament to just how great this St. Louis Cardinals team.
 
I sat in my buddy’s apartment on Saturday afternoon, still exhausted from the 13-inning marathon the night before that ran until after 1am Eastern Time and about $170 in our bar tab. It’s not a good sign when the players you’re watching on TV are slinking down as deeply on the bench as you are on the couch.
 
The camera had zeroed in on a sullen Yasiel Puig, face in his hands as he had just wailed at pitch after pitch from a fellow rookie Michael Wacha. The sublime right hander carved Puig up, striking him out yet again. Yasiel looked as dejected as we’ve ever seen him, not surprising considering how little he had come up in such big spots in his previous Bush Stadium ABs.
 
It was the fifth inning. Puig finished the day going 0-10 in his first two NLCS games with six strikeouts.… Read more...

(Not So) Instant Trade Analysis: The Dodgers’ Big Weekend

Los Angeles Dodgers get: SP Zack Greinke, SP Hyun-Jin Ryu

Zack Greinke gets: 6 years, $147 million

Hyun-Jin Ryu gets: 6 years, $36 million (plus a $25.7 million dollar posting fee going to his Hanwha Eagles team in the Korean league)
On Friday, the back end of the Dodgers’ starting rotation was filled out by the likes of Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano and the remains of Ted Lilly’s ravaged shoulder. Just three days later, Chad Billingsley, Josh Beckett and seven-time Korean League All-Star Ryu round out what’s become perhaps one of the most formidable rotations in the National League. 

Greinke, 29, signed the second biggest deal for a pitcher in MLB history, trailing only CC Sabathia’s 8-year pact for an astonishing $161 million. This isn’t to suggest that Greinke is nearly the player that CC is–after all, the Yankee southpaw has finished in the top five of Cy Young award voting every year but this one since 2006. Rather, the money is just a sign of the changing times in baseball, as the game continues to expand its revenue streams. Whereas the annual price for a free agent ace pitcher might have been $18 to $20 million a few years ago, now we’re looking at an average yearly salary of $23 to $25 million.

Let’s not focus on the payroll implications here–we’ve made the case here on MAMBINO that the Dodgers had transformed themselves into “Yankees West” with their August acquisition of Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. It’s clear that the Dodgers aren’t concerned at all with the mammoth salaries on their payroll, nor with the punitive luxury tax given to “repeat offenders” that regularly rise above the $189 million ceiling. If the news hadn’t sunk in Dodgers fans, then focus on this: the Dodgers just spent more this weekend on free agents than the Tampa Bay Rays have in the past decade. Whoa.

Don’t let the contract fool you; Zack Greinke might not be better than Matt Cain, Cole Hamels or any of the other nine-figure contracts doled out in the past twelve months, but he’s still very, very good. Since his 2009 AL Cy Young award-winning season, Greinke hasn’t struck out less than 7.9 batters per 9 innings, walked more than 2.6, nor pitched less than 171 innings. He’s been overwhelming at times, but not a true dominator in the sense of a Justin Verlander, Adam Wainwright or Sabathia.  Zack Greinke isn’t an ace, let’s be clear. However, if money isn’t an object here, then he doesn’t need to be. The Dodger already have Clayton Kershaw in the fold, and all Greinke has to do is be the best number 2 option in the league. More importantly, he’s moving to a pitcher’s ballpark in the National League, which should benefit his performance overall.

There’s a few different factors that are somewhat worrisome about the contract, however; Greinke does give up a lot of contact for a pitcher that also strikes out so many batters. He’s given up nearly a hit per inning, along with almost 20 home runs per year. Of course, with any pitcher, a multi-year deal is a frightening prospect. There’s no telling what Greinke’s arm will look like in six years in his age 35 season, and at $147 million dollars, that’s a huge gamble to take. More importantly, the Dodgers gave him an out clause after the third year of his contract–if he were to still be at an All-Star level at that point, he’d be able to terminate his contract and negotiate a new one, wit
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