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Dodger Rotation Takes Turn for the Worse

December 19, 1987

Am I the only person who feels that the Dodgers' decision to part with Bob Welch in favor of Griffin-Orosco-Howell represents an astonishingly stupid trade? I know the consensus seems to favor giving the club credit for at least trying something, and that the acquisition of two proven relievers and an everyday shortstop appears, on the surface, anyway, to be a fair exchange for a pitcher of Welch's talent. But in reality, the club has dealt away one of the most consistent performers in the history of the franchise for nothing of substantive value.

Unfortunately, possessing a couple of stoppers such as Orosco and Howell only helps the team if there is something to stop. When you are only scoring 3.9 runs per game, as the '87 Dodgers did, while the rest of the league is scoring 4.6 runs per game, your bullpen isn't going to get a whole lot of save opportunities.

As for the redoubtable Griffin, this "slick-fielding" shortstop committed 24 errors last season, the second-highest figure in the American League. Offensively, you could slip Griffin's numbers anywhere in the Dodger roster, and nobody would know the difference.

For the last couple of seasons, the Dodgers' only saving grace--namely, the only thing that kept the team from losing 100 games per season--has been its top three starters. Among them, Valenzuela, Hershiser and Welch can keep even the most wretched team competitive. Do the Dodgers think that giving the ball to Pena or Hillegas 30 times next season is going to represent an improvement over Bob Welch? Get serious.

By trading Welch, the Dodgers have committed the cardinal sin--they've traded away a team strength to feed a weakness. If they only score 3.9 runs per game next year, they could easily lose 100 games.

D. M. WILEY

Los Angeles

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