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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Quiet MLB trade deadline, busy for Dodgers

--posted by Tony Garcia on 8/01/2006

No big trades this year before the trading deadline. But the Dodgers have been very busy. They were in first place in their division going into the All-Star break, went on a horrible slide going 1-13 before ending the month with a 3 game winning streak. They fell to 5th place and are currently 5 games behind the San Diego Padres.

So they made a few moves.
First they traded disgruntled, overpayed and underperforming Odalis Perez (SP) to Kansas City for Elmer Dessens (RP/SP).
It is a reunion as Dessens spent 2004 and 2005 with the Dodgers before signing with the Royals as a free agent. Since joining the Dodgers he has done well...3 G, 5.1 IP, 3 hits, 2K, 2 BB, ERA 0.00, WHIP 0.94, OBA .150. The bullpen needed this pick me up.

Next came the trade with Atlanta which sent the disappointing Danys Baez (RP) and Willie Aybay (3B/2B) to Atlanta in exchange for Wilson Betemit (3B/SS).
Betemit is a competent bat playing the hot corner. Baez not only was a disappointment but became expendable with the Dessens trade. The line on Betemit at the time of the trade: 88 G, 199 AB, 9 HR, .281 AVG, .344 OBP, .497 SLG. He is also young. The Dodgers have been in need of a competent 3B since Cesar Izturis (SS/2B) has been playing there and not doing well with the glove or at the plate (.257). Aybar was batting nearly 80 points (.250) below last year (.326) and word is the Dodgers are not thrilled with his development thus far.

Then came the deadline trading. Dodgers need help with their rotation, Izturis is expendable and with Kent nursing an injury there is a hole in the IF that seems to be really hurting the offense.

Joel Guzman (3B) gets called up and traded to Tampay Bay for Julio Lugo (SS). This is a great addition. Lugo is hitting .308 with 12 HR, his average has been uptrending his entire career and can add more fire power to the suddenly silenced lineup. Guzman played 8 games in June and that is the extent of his MLB career thus far. Prospect, yep. Promising? Maybe later. The only problem with this move is the middle infield will get crowded when Jeff Kent is healthy. At the moment Lugo and Rafael Furcal make up a solid middle infield with good bats. Kent's return will give the Dodgers 5 starter quality IF (Garciaparra, Kent, Lugo, Furcal and Betemit). We'll cross that bridge when we get there...and it will be a nice problem to have again.

Previously in the season some injuries forced the Dodgers to call up OF Andre Ethier, OF Matt Kemp (listed in March by mlb.com as a top 100 minor league prospect for 2006, but has since been sent to the minors) and C Russell Martin. Ethier is making a strong case for NL Rookie of the year in an OF that already has Kenny Lofton and JD Drew. Jose Cruz, Jr. and Jason Repko are no slouches either making for a very crowded OF. Good problem to have. All of them are stater quality OF.

Martin has been doing so well (was said to be in contention also for the NL Rookie of the Year) that the Dodgers traded away their previously #1 C, Dioner Navarro who was finishing up his minor league injury rehab assignment and was hitting .280 before his injury.

That brings us to the final trade. Just before the deadline the Dodgers traded the now expendable Izturis to the Chicago Cubs for Greg Maddux (SP) who will be the #3 pitcher behind Derek Lowe and Brad Penny. Maddux line up to this point is slightly sub-par (but cut him some slack, he is 40 years old). 9-11, 4.69 ERA, 1.29 WHIP. The encouraging part is his K:BB ratio is looking to be around 3.5:1. It is BB that kill you more than the hits, in my opinion.

So, I am very encouraged by the roster moves over the past week. I think the Dodgers filled the holes without creating new ones...and they dumped some of the negativity in the club house. I do not doubt they can get their offensive machine back on track during the next two months and win the West (not a big feat, really) and go deep into the playoffs.

(Profile pictures courtesy of mlb.com)



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