Going to Detroit: Hiroki Kuroda … coming to L.A. …?

If the Dodgers are looking to make a deal before the trade deadline, working something out with the Tigers for starter Hiroki Kuroda might be a good idea. (The Associated Press)

Major-league baseball is the best professional sport in the world! One of the reasons? The July 31 trade deadline.

Fans of the top teams such as the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies and Giants are excited about which players their team might land to put them over the top. Fans of the bottom feeders such as the Astros, Cubs, Royals and Orioles get excited about which prized prospects they might land in a trade.

Winners and losers unite and get excited about the summer baseball trades!

The Dodgers aren’t the worst team in MLB this season, but they’re pretty bad. I’ve heard that Frank McCourt’s new marketing slogan to try to get fans back in the seats is this: “We may stink, but we don’t stink as bad as the Astros, Cubs, Royals and Orioles.”
The Dodgers will be sellers come the trade deadline. The team’s most marketable (without being stupid, aka, Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw and Andre Ethier) trade chip is Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda is a durable starting pitcher who will win between 10 to 15 games a season with an ERA around 3.50.

Kuroda does have to approve a trade from the Dodgers, but that shouldn’t be difficult if he has any desire to win this season. Where will Kuroda end up? In the Motor City, baby!

The Detroit Tigers have been scouting Kuroda, who has a 2.93 ERA in his past 10 starts. He can’t help it if the team on the field behind him can’t score any runs, so his 6-10 record this season should come with an asterisk.
If Kuroda does indeed get shipped to the Tigers, which players might possibly end up with the Dodgers? Kuroda won’t fetch the best prospect in the Tigers’ farm system; after all, he isn’t Roy Halladay.

What Kuroda will bring, though, are a couple of solid prospects who can help the Dodgers become stronger in the future. Here is a look at some of the potential prospects the Dodgers might receive from Detroit in a Kuroda trade:
Dan Schlereth, LHP – Schlereth is a left-handed relief pitcher, which is like being the Golden Ticket on “Willy Wonka.” Everyone needs a lefty in the bullpen. Schlereth is 25 years old and has been up and down with the Tigers the past few seasons. He has posted mediocre numbers with the Tigers this season (0-1, 4.91 ERA), but he was better in the bigs last year (2-0, 2.89).

Brandon Douglas, 2B – Like Schlereth, Douglas is getting long in the tooth (25 years old). Douglas has posted pretty mundane numbers at triple-A this season – .263 average with 3 homers and 28 RBIs. The Dodgers need a second baseman, but is Douglas really better than what they have now? In his minor-league career, Douglas has never hit more than four home runs and has never driven in more than 35.

Drew Smyly, LHP – Smyly is rated by Major League Baseball as the No. 7 prospect in the Detroit organization. Only 22 years old, Smyly is 4-3 with a 3.18 ERA at single-A. Smyly has walked only 15 in 62 innings this season, so he has good control. Give me Smyly over Schlereth if I’m bargaining over Kuroda.

Casey Crosby, LHP – The Tigers probably won’t part with him, but if I’m GM Ned Colletti, I’m asking about Crosby anyway. Rated the No. 4 prospect for the Tigers, the 22-year-old Crosby has a 5-3 record and a 3.73 ERA at double-A this season.

Francisco Martinez, 3B – Another prospect the Tigers probably won’t even discuss with the Dodgers, but I’m still asking for Martinez if I’m Colletti. Martinez, 20, has a .286 average with 7 homers and 40 RBIs at double-A this season. The Dodgers sorely need a third baseman and Martinez would fill that need by 2013. Martinez is the No. 6 prospect in Detroit.

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