At lunch I went to my usual spot by the airport, but didn't last very long. Not only is it hotter than blazes, but there's no breeze to speak of, either.
So, the trade deadline came and went Monday afternoon, and the Dodgers were extremely active both in the days leading up to it, as well as at the deadline itself. Five deals in ten days with fourteen players moving hither and yon.
• First, Sandy Alomar, Jr. was shipped off to finish his career with the White Sox in exchange for minor league pitcher B.J. Lamura.
Alomar was originally brought in to help mature Dioner Navarro and occasionally catch. When Navarro got hurt, it turned out Russell Martin didn't need nearly as much maturing, and Alomar was only used as a catcher when Martin absolutely, positively couldn't go. When Navarro and Seo were traded for Hendrickson and catcher Toby Hall, Alomar's sole function became pinch hitting, a luxury role at best. So he goes off to Chicago where he maintains his residence.
The most interesting thing about Lamura appears to be that his name is almost an anagram of "Alomar," but at least he seems to be about even to Alomar in value. The key thing about this trade was that it cleared a roster space for Jason Repko to be activated. Repko was sorely missed.
• The next to go was Odalis Perez, who was exiled to the Royals along with a couple of minor leaguers to reacquire Elmer Dessens.
Perez seemed to have completely lost whatever pitching talent he once had (6.83 ERA), and he'd become disgruntled with the Dodgers' management. The problem as far as making a deal was the huge contract extension DePo had signed him to last year. In the end, the Royals took him, along with two A level minor leaguers, for Dessens, who is a mostly reliable middle reliever. The Dodgers also had to pay a good chunk of Perez's salary for next year.
There was much hue and cry that Colletti should've gotten more, or paid much less to get rid of Perez, but I don't think there was much he could do. Perez had pitched terribly, had copped an attitude, and had an enormous contract. Addition by subtraction. Dessens, who was with the Dodgers in 2004 and 2005, is nothing special, but he's pitched better than Perez.
• Colletti next tried to correct a mistake he'd made by sending Danys Baez and Willy Aybar to Atlanta for Wilson Betemit.
Baez was originally acquired along with Lance Carter in a much maligned trade with Tampa Bay. He had his good moments, but his bad moments were absolutely horrendous, blowing a couple of five-run leads this season. Aybar is a pretty good young hitter, who shows excellent plate discipline, although without a lot of power. The knock on him is his fielding. I'm not sure the knock is completely justified. His big problem with LA was that when he did make an error, it always seemed to be at the worst possible moment, and this seemed to make Little hesitant to use him in key spots.
Betemit is a bigger, better version of Aybar, and only a year older. Or two... Or three... There was considerable
There were mixed feelings over this deal over at DT. Nearly everybody was glad to see the man who'd been nicknamed the "Cuban Missile Crisis" in another uniform. OTOH, very few especially wanted to lose Aybar, a prospect who seemed on his way to be fulfilling his potential. The key is whether Aybar can become as good a player as Betemit appears to be, and there are legitimate arguments both ways. Right now, Betemit is the better player. Meanwhile, Baez's spot in the pen was taken by Brett Tomko, coming off the DL.
The came the deadline, and it looked at first as if Ned was going to stand pat. By 4 p.m. EDT, there were no announcements involving the Dodgers, and DT collectively breathed a sigh of relief. The prospects were safe. Then at 4:05 came word of not one, but two deals.
• Cesar Izturis was traded to the Cubs for future Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux.
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to praise Cesar, not to bury him. Alas, poor Cesar. He was the victim of a freak occurrence (I mean really, how many shortstops need to have Tommy John surgery?) In his absence, Colletti signed Furcal to play short, and when Izzy came back (way earlier than expected, I might add), he was told he had to play positions other than the one he'd won a gold glove at. He didn't complain, he just went out and played a brilliant third base. The, when Betemit came over to play third, Izzy went to second, and fielded that position well.
The problem is that he just doesn't hit enough to play any position but short. Although he'd showed unexpected plate discipline in his rehab assignment, he went back to his non-walking habits upon his return to the bigs. He's got no power, and despite his speed, he can't steal a base to save his life. The best possible outcome for him would be a trade to somewhere he could play short.
Which is what happened. In return LA gets one of the greatest pitchers of all time. Unfortunately, he's forty, and on the downside of his phenomenal career. Still, he's probably the smartest pitcher ever, and he's moving from the friendly confines over to a pitcher's park. All he really needs to do is be better than Hendrickson, and folks will be happy. Also, given some of the head cases that inhabit the Dodgers' rotation, it's hoped that Maddux will be able to lead by example. Billingsley is the guy they really want him to take in hand, but maybe he can have a positive effect on Penny and Lowe, too. All in all, this trade should be a good one for the Dodgers.
• Finally, minor leaguers Joel Guzman and Sergio Pedroza were sent to Tampa for Julio Lugo.
The Maddux trade was announced before this one, and people were feeling pretty good. Ned had managed to achieve some good trades without having to give up any of our "untouchable" prospects. Then came the news that the man nicknamed "JtD" (for Joel the Destroyer) was yet another Dodger heading for Tampa, and all hell broke loose at Dodger Thoughts, both for and against.
Last year, Guzman was considered to be the number one prospect in the Dodger organization, a shortstop who put up monster numbers in Jacksonville. Since then, his stock has fallen somewhat. There were some doubts about whether he should really be at shortstop. His size and strength seemed a better fit with one of the corner positions, so this year he was tried at first and third and the outfield. He was promoted to Las Vegas, but didn't hit right away in one of the best hitter's parks there is. He got a two-week cup of coffee in the bigs in June, but he showed he wasn't ready. Then he bitched when he got sent down. Meanwhile, guys like Kemp and LaRoche passed him on the depth chart, and the most logical positions for him to play were all filled. Many agreed that if we had to give up a top level prospect, Guzman would be the least upsetting.
At least, it was until it actually happened. It's not that Julio Lugo is a poor player. In fact, of all the trades Neddy has made with Tampa, Lugo's really the only really good player the Dodgers have gotten. I wondered why we needed him. Now granted, both Kent and Nomar are on the DL, but their injuries aren't supposed to be serious, and when they come back there'll be a logjam. I'd presumed that was one reason why Izturis was traded. Loney should do fine filling in for Nomar, and Betemit could've played second while Kent was out, so why not bring up Laroche to play third?
Besides the not needing Lugo thing (which Colletti and Little disagree with), there's also the fact that Lugo will be a free agent at the end of the season, so the Dodgers are essentially renting him for two months at a very high price. However, there is a line of reasoning that say this approach could actually be a good thing. There's a good article over at armchairgm.com that lays it out. Essentially, since Lugo is likely to be a type A free agent come the fall, if the Dodgers offer him arbitration, and then don't sign him, they will get two first-round draft picks when he signs with another team. In effect, they will have traded two prospects for whom the luster has worn a bit in JtD and Pedroza for two shiny new prospects.
To me, that makes a bit more sense. It still doesn't explain Neddy's fascination with Tampa Bay. So far, we've gotten Lance Carter (exiled to Las Vegas because he stunk), Danys Baez (shipped to Atlanta because he stunk), Mark Hendrickson (actually fell off the mound while pitching this weekend), Toby Hall (already bitching about playing time, and wants to be traded), and Julio Lugo (whiffed on three pitches in his first Dodger at bat). Okay, the Lugo thing is a cheap shot.
So, all-in-all, it was a lively ten days. Ned didn't give up the farm, which is good, and only brought in one aging veteran, but at least he's going to the Hall of Fame. The one negative thing is that even though the Dodgers did not give up they're top propects, it continues to look like Ned is overpaying on some of these deals. he paid a lot to have Odalis removed, and Willy Aybar seems a pretty expensive throw-in just to get someone to take the Cuban Missile Crisis off our hands. Or is it that the value of those players was so low that it was the best he could do. Fortunately, the Dodgers had the resources to do it.
Meanwhile, back at the Ravine, Jose Cruz, Jr., was DFA'd to make room for Lugo. I like Cruz. He's a decent fielder, and patient at the plate, but he'd slumped badly against righties this season, and with Ethier playing so well and Repko back he wasn't needed. Hopefully he'll catch on with someone who can use him.
Speaking of designated for assignment, old friend Hee-Seop Choi was DFA'd by the Sox yesterday, mostly just to get him off the forty-man roster. It a heck of a blow for the sabremetrically correct, and not particularly good news for Choi, either, who was only hitting .207/.347/.361 at Pawtucket before going on the DL.
And finally, MLB has come down hard on the Milwaukee Brewers. To quote the Griddle:
MLB has told the Milwaukee Brewers that they can't use the "Chorizo" in their nightly sausage races, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Yeah, that's the ticket. MLB is still "investigating" steroid usage by players, but when a franchise puts a guy in an unauthorized giant sausage costume, they're right on it.
Bet it wouldn't have happened if Bud Selig still owned the team...