The Dodgers just signed Jon Garland for 2011 at $5 million with $3 million in performance incentives and a guaranteed $8 million in 2012 if he pitches 190 innings in 2011.  My first thought on hearing this was Garland must want to play in L.A. next year.

The Padres paid Garland $4.7 million in 2010.  He went 14-12 with a 3.47 ERA and an even 200 innings pitched.  The Padres offered Garland arbitration, which meant he likely would have made at least $7 million or $8 million in 2011 through that process.  Given that, you have to think the Padres would have matched or bettered the Dodgers’ offer if the opportunity had been given to them.

My second thought was the Dodgers are going to have a great rotation 2011.  It know looks like the rotation will now be Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, Ted Lilly and Garland.  That looks plenty strong.

I may not be a fan of the Dodgers, but I am certainly a fan of the 2011 prospects for Kershaw and Billingsley.  They are both under 27 and have had consistently fine ratios throughout their careers.

At this moment, you’d have to prefer Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, but I certainly won’t be surprised if Kershaw and Billingsley ended up with the combined better performance in 2011.  In fact, I’d probably handicap it only 55/45 in favor of the Giants’ aces.

Kuroda and Lilly are getting up there in years, and you have to expect them to decline in 2011.  However, both have been consistently strong in each of the last three seasons, so it’s reasonably likely their combined performance won’t be much worse than 2010, if they stay healthy.

I’m not a big fan of Jon Garland, but it’s hard to see much daylight between him and Barry Zito.  As fifth-starters, you could do a lot worse.

As is often the case, it will probably come down to which rotation stays healthier between the Giants and Dodgers.  The Giants starters were exceptionally healthy in 2010 (only Todd Wellemeyer got hurt, and that allowed for the promotion of phenom Madison Bumgarner).  You have to figure the law of averages is going to catch up with the Giants in 2011.

Obviously, the Dodgers rotation is even more likely to break down, with Garland at 31, Lilly at 35 and Kuroda at 36 next season.  In fact, it may come down to which of the two teams can come up with the best sixth-starter if and when someone in the starting five goes down.

Not really surprising the Dodgers would go after Garland.  With the Giants as defending world champions, every team in the division figures it has to have a strong starting five if they’re going to compete in 2011.

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