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Hey, buddy, could you spare an extra starter?

Ned Colletti

Baseball’s annual winter meetings are this weekend in Dallas, but don't look for the Dodgers to exactly be at the hub of activity.

General Manager Ned Colletti is nearing the end of his budget for the 2012 season and he’s still minus two starters for the rotation.

The Dodgers must be on the every-other-year rotation plan. They went into the 2010 season with only four starters, which proved one Charlie Haeger knuckleball away from total disaster. Last year they actually thought they had an extra starter in Vicente Padilla, who managed to throw almost nine innings before ending his season due to injury, surprising no one. And then Jon Garland went down.

For 2012 they currently have Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly and two holes. Rookie Nathan Eovaldi may have to fill one slot, but assuming they are unable to bring back Hiroki Kuroda, that still leaves a huge gap. Unless you’re all excited about the return of Dana Eveland.

Between Frank McCourt dropping another $9.9 million in bankruptcy-related expenses (per The Times' Bill Shaikin) just through October and Colletti dropping $4.5 million on Juan Rivera, it doesn’t appear the Dodgers have enough money left to bring back Kuroda. He wants to pitch one more season.

If the Dodgers go the free-agent route, the second-tier starters available are wholly uninspiring. Mike Petriello looked at them and his best, reluctant recommendation is … Jeff Francis?

There is, of course, the trade market. Yet to acquire a quality arm the Dodgers probably would have to give up an Andre Ethier or James Loney, both one year from free agency, simply creating another hole.

Dodgers.com’s Ken Gurnick previewed the winter meetings by estimating that Colletti had only about $10 million left to work with — and that was before he spent at least $800,000 on utility infielder Adam Kennedy.

Meanwhile, for the rest of baseball, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder are still out there.

MORE:

Fox can't put Bud Selig on witness stand, judge rules

Adam Kennedy agrees to one-year deal with Dodgers

Larry King aligns with Dennis Gilbert in Dodgers bidding

— Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Ned Colletti. Credit: Morry Gash / Associated Press.

 
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