After what was believed to be a failed negotiation, the Cubs have resigned Carlos Zambrano to a five year, 90 million dollar contract. This gives a little bit of hope that Barry Zito isn't being used as the bench mark for free agent pitchers, and that maybe Johan Santana could be had in 2009 for less than 30 million dollars a year.
However, Zambrano's resigning does have a big effect on the present day Dodgers. With Zambrano off the market, the starting pitching market this offseason is empty. If you assume that teams are going to activate the options on their good pitchers, the best available pitchers this offseason are Tom Glavine and Curt Schilling. When the free agent class is lead by two quadragenerians, it's a very, very bad sign. After those two pitchers, you have some pitchers that you've heard of, but aren't any good like Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia, and then you get into the Odalis Perez/Joe Kennedy quality of pitcher.
The consequence here is that if the Dodgers want to bolster their starting rotation next year, they're probably forced to bring back Randy Wolf. Arm troubles or no, there mere fact that he can occasionally dominate while putting up decent numbers makes him one of the five or six best pitchers, and if teams end up scrambling for pitching and paying the dreck far more than they deserve (like this year) they may end up throwing 30 million at Jason Jennings. As much of a risk as Wolf is, one year of him at nine million is far nicer than anything else out there. Similar logic may mean it could make sense to bring back one or both of the Tomdrickson combo and stashing them in long relief, simply because there's nothing better out there. Fortunately, with Eric Stults and D.J. Houlton available, they should keep that from occurring.
Any improvements that the Dodgers pitching staff will make next are going to have to come from within. On the very likely chance that Jason Schmidt won't be ready, or James McDonald, Clayton Kershaw, Scott Elbert or even Justin Orenduff won't have the stuff for the bigs, they're going to need to have reinforcements from the free agent market. Since those are practically non existent, we're just going to have to go with what we've got, no matter how risky that may be.