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Dodgers sign Chris Capuano; Hiroki Kuroda looks gone

December 2, 2011 | 11:17 am

Capuano_275Hope that new Dodgers owner leans to the left.

If not quite desperate to add a starter to their rotation, the bankrupt Dodgers were sadly at least sniffing in the area. And so it came Friday, that they signed left-handed Chris Capuano for two years and $10 million.

The agreement was first reported by ESPN’s Jim Bowden.

The addition of the fragile Capuano all but ends right-hander Hiroki Kuroda’s four-year career with the Dodgers, and leaves the Dodgers with three left-handers in their rotation — Clayton Kershaw, Ted Lilly and Capuano. Chad Billingsley is their only certain right-handed starter. Right-hander Nate Eovaldi is currently in line to be the team’s No.3 starter.

The addition of Capuano, 33, as a fifth starter wouldn’t be so bad, though given he’s had two Tommy John surgeries, a two-year, $10-million deal should leave everyone more anxious than a teenager readying for a first kiss. Alas, it’s the going rate.

The trouble is, he’s essentially replacing Kuroda in the rotation, which is a fairly serious step down.

Kuroda will be 37 to start next season, but is arguably coming off his finest year (13-16, 3.07 ERA). He’s getting up in the years, but hasn’t shown signs of slowing down. And he wants to pitch for one more season.

Which will now likely be in Japan. His asking price was apparently out of General Manager Ned Colletti’s price range; the GM seemed to have given up on the possibility of re-signing Kuroda weeks ago. Budget restraints and all. And then there was all that money spent elsewhere (Juan Rivera, $4.5 million).

Now comes Capuano, who had Tommy John surgery in 2002 and again in 2008. He missed all of the 2008 and 2009 seasons, and nearly half of 2010.

But last season, signed by the Mets for a guaranteed $1.5 million, he had a nice comeback. He went 11-12 with a 4.55 ERA and 1.35 WHIP for the Mets. Bad news: He also gave up 27 homers. Good news: He struck out 8.1 batters per nine innings.

If he stays healthy, he’ll be fine. It’s just that for a team that was hoping to build on the final two months of 2011, the rotation now appears less than what it was with Kuroda.

Which doesn’t exactly get the happy feet going, but does feel remarkably like a team in bankruptcy and with a lame duck owner.

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— Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Chris Capuano. Credit: Patrick McDermott / Getty Images

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