Worth Every Penny
Paul DePodesta pulled off his first trading deadline deal as Dodgers GM, and we like it. According to ESPN.com, the Dodgers will send Guillermo Mota, Paul Lo Duca, and Juan Encarnacion to the Florida Marlins for Brad Penny, Hee Seop Choi, Double-A pitcher Bill Murphy.There are rumors circulating again that the Dodgers might be back in the Randy Johnson sweepstakes, or might acquire Steve Finley, but we'll leave that aside for now.
Brad Penny is the type of front-line ace starting pitcher that the Dodgers need in the stretch run, and he will be extremely valuable in the playoffs should the Azul get there. He's got a 3.15 ERA and great ratios. Hee Seop Choi is a great young power hitter who can immediately solve the team's first base woes in the post-Karros era. And heck, you can never go wrong with a highly-touted pitching prospect.
Some Dodger fans may be upset about losing Paul Lo Duca... and justifiably so. He was a gritty hard-working fan-favorite who was living a dream after being stuck in the minors for most of his career. But we all know that as the season wears on, so does Lo Duca. He's a .252 hitter after the All-Star Break the past three seasons, compared to .323 before. He hit .222 this June, and was around .250 for July. That's effectively a hole in the lineup.
Rumor has it that the Dodgers will now acquire Charles Johnson, which is almost comical after he dissed the organization and the city back in 1998, but Baseball Prospectus says he's the 6th-best catcher in the NL (Lo Duca is 4th) and that's with Coors Field factored in. Let's hope reacquiring Charles Johnson goes better than reacquiring Todd Hundley. And let's hope Colorado is picking up some of the tab on his outrageous contract. If Johnson isn't going to LA, then David Ross could probably adequately fill in.
We've dissed Juan Encarnacion a lot on this weblog, so we're not sad to see him go. A little surprised though that he'd go back to Florida after the Marlins nearly waived him in the offseason. We're guessing Jeff Conine will be playing first base there, but this is LAist and not Floridianist.
As for LA, we think this means Shawn Green will move back to right field where he's more comfortable anyways. He was doing a decent job of playing first base, but perhaps his hitting was sagging as he tried to learn a new position. We're not sure exactly what will happen with Jayson Werth--if he'll play more over Dave Roberts or be traded to Arizona for Steve Finley--so we'll address that when the time comes.
Clearly the toughest piece for the Dodgers to lose in Mota. You have to give Dan Evans major credit for having the guts to give up Matt Herges a while back for this converted shortstop who might be the best setup man in baseball. But at 31, he's never been more valuable on the open market, and it's not like he'll be a closer anytime soon in LA. This is DePodesta selling high. The Dodgers still have plenty of relief pitching talent to carry them through the rest of the season, especially with Wilson Alvarez moving back to the pen.
The Dodgers have been an inherently flawed team for some time. But they have often been too top-heavy, and not had the guts to give up some pieces to reorganize. Paul DePodesta has now shown he's creative enough and bold enough to rearrange pieces in a quest to make the Dodgers legitimate winners.