The Dodgers didn’t want to retain Chad Billingsley after he succumbed to two elbow surgeries (one of the Tommy John variety), yet they have decided to sign Brandon Beachy to a one-year $2.75 million deal and take a risk in the twice removed Tommy John surgery club member.
Chad Billingsley signed with Philadelphia for one year and $1.5 million with performance bonus potential. Bills had two elbow surgeries, but he was once a workhorse in the Dodger rotation before his elbow gave out in 2012. I said my goodbyes to Chad Billingsley in written form this offseason, and I still wish the Dodgers had taken a chance on the once long-tenured Dodger pitcher.
That’s why I was a bit surprised to hear the news on Saturday that the Dodgers had signed pitcher Brandon Beachy to a one-year deal with a club option for 2016. The Dodgers are willing to take a risk on the 28-year old right-hander, but they weren’t willing to give the 30-year old Billingsley another shot.
Perhaps the new front office regime thought that signing free agent Brandon Beachy would ultimately be a better investment come mid-season when one of the starting rotation pitchers goes down with the inevitable injury. Zack Grienke already had to get an injection in his elbow mere days into Spring Training. Even though the Dodgers insist it is just a preventative measure, it sure gives me an uneasy feeling.
We all know that Brett Anderson and Brandon McCarthy cannot possibly pitch a perfectly healthy season. It’s almost as inevitable and predictable as the scheduled Carl Crawford disability stints sure to come in 2015. If the chips falls into place like Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi hope they will, Beachy will be ready to go in the second half of the season when the Dodgers most likely will need reinforcements.
The part I do like about this signing is that Brandon Beachy was really good before the pair of Tommy John surgeries. I specifically remember back to a certain Dodger loss back in April 2012 to the Braves. Things weren’t peachy when the Dodgers lost to Beachy. The Dodgers lost 4-2 to Atlanta on a gloomy day in L.A. Ted Lilly was still starting for the Dodgers, and Matt Kemp was hitting Bison Blasts over the Dodgers Stadium wall. That seems like so long ago. This was also the game when Javy Guerra was hit in the face with a line drive by Brian McCann. Javy never was able to recover from the shocking blow, and his closer role quickly deteriorated.
Call to the Pen
Beachy allowed 2 runs in the game, but Craig Kimbrel made sure the Braves secured the win after Javy’s scary ninth inning. It was one of those pivotal games which I will always remember.
Beachy has made 3 starts against the Dodgers over his career, and he is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings. Two of those starts were at Dodger Stadium.
If Brandon Beachy is able to come back with the Dodgers this season and he shows glimpses of his former self, then it will be a real treat to watch. Having Beachy in the wings is a lot better than desperately signing a washed up starter mid-season. I have no more patience for Kevin Correia or Roberto Hernandez.
Even though there is inherent risk in signing virtually anyone, I see the Beachy signing as a relatively inexpensive risk in the scheme of things and larger season long scope when it pertains to pitching depth.
"“If you just talk about a ceiling for a guy like this, even before he got hurt just based on his big league performance he’s a mid-rotation or better guy,” Farhan Zaidi said. “That upside is very appealing to us, and was to other teams that were pursuing him as well.”"
The Dodgers didn’t shy away from signing Chris Capuano back in 2012 after having two Tommy John surgeries. Capuano has pitched admirably since his second surgery before the 2008 season. Not many pitchers have had sustainably long careers after a second Tommy John surgery, but it doesn’t mean that Beachy cannot be productive post second round of TJ Surgery.
J.J. Cooper of Baseball America says that patients undergoing two Tommy John surgeries don’t necessarily have a lower success rate as those who have only had one surgical procedure.
"“So for Parker, Medlen, Beachy and the other two-time TJ men working toward becoming two-time TJ survivors, the prognosis doesn’t seem all that different than that of a typical Tommy John surgery recipient. With more and more pitchers undergoing the surgery in high school or early in their college or pro careers, it’s likely we’ll see even more two-time surgery survivors going forward.”"
It may be awhile before we see Brandon Beachy pitch in Dodger Blue, but the future possibility of Beachy being ready when the Dodgers are needing another starter down the stretch is a risk worth taking.