Much to the relief of Dodger nation, Takashi Saito's shoulder is reportedly fine, but still says he feels pain. While I feel much better about his chances of a clean recovery now over a couple days ago, there's still a chance that the Dodgers will be without his services for an extended period of time. If Saito is forced to leave the team for a while, what would the Dodgers do?
First, Jonathan Broxton must become the Dodgers closer. He's putting up better numbers than second tier closers like Chad Cordero, Octavio Dotel and Eric Gagne. Only if the Dodgers acquired an elite closer like Francisco Rodriguez could the Dodgers get a better closer than Broxton.
"But Andrew" some hypothetical person might say. "Jonathan Broxton can't close games." This feeling is based almost entirely on the two games he recently blew in the ninth inning, but is there history to this? Not really. Broxton has pitched in the ninth inning in either a save situation or a tied game 10 times. In those 10 games, Broxton has pitched successfully six times and blew a save four times. Really, this is all just small sample size, paying more attention to four bad innings Broxton has pitched rather than the hugely successful remainder of his career. If he gets slotted into the role, then goes on a LaTroy Hawkins type meltdown for a month. There's a chance there might be something to this, but I would guess that Broxton will be just as successful as a closer as he has been as a setup man. If the Dodgers somehow acquired a magically healed Joel Zumaya, you wouldn't hesitate to make him the closer in Saito's absence, right? Broxton is arguably a better pitcher than Zumaya.
Even at his young age, Jonathan Broxton looks to be one of the few reliable relievers in the bigs. We need to take advantage of that, and not go looking for some kind of veteran presence to take over the role.
Speaking of veteran presence, the Dodgers also need to seriously look at Jonathan Meloan before going after another pitcher. Since 2006, Meloan has almost twice as many strikeouts (163) as he does walks and hits combined (87). While he has finally gotten called up to AAA, he needs to be given a chance against big league hitters. This doesn't mean "oh, he gave up a two run bomb in his second outing, we need help", he needs to be given every possible opportunity to succeed until the trade deadline.
If it does come to the Dodgers going after Octvaio Dotel as rumored, they can't give up anything of value for him. Even though Dotel is probably good enough to fall outside of the middle reliever tag, any pitcher can be shaky for the 20 or so innings Dotel would probably pitch. For example, Johan Santana has a 4.05 ERA over his last 20 innings. If Johan can't be perfect all the time, there's no way that Octavio Dotel could be. Just one mistimed home run could make his tenure here a waste.
Even worse, he's not even guaranteed be converted into a draft pick. Since Elias' free agent rankings go back over two years, Dotel has a lot of ground to make up since he lost last year to injury. Using just half the playtime of his competitors, Dotel would need to get into the top 40% of relievers. Depending on how many counting stats are used in Elias' calculations (the exact formula is secret) it's almost impossible for Dotel to reach type B status. Even if he does, do you want to risk him accepting arbitration and having to pay Octavio Dotel six million dollars plus in 2008? If you can bring him in for a C prospect, go ahead and get Octavio Dotel, but without a guarantee of performance or compensation, it's not worth giving up anything of value for him.
The Dodgers bullpen is currently in a very scary place, but they would be much better served by looking within, rather than to the outside to fix their problems.