Monday, April 11, 2005


The Best Transactions of the Offseason

1) Trading away SP Kaz Ishii for C Jason Phillips

A Phillips trade had been rumored in December, and this trade fell into Depodesta's lap when Trachsel went down. At first, I was skeptical. (and not because I am opposed to trading a SP for a backup C...) LA looked thin in the rotation to start the season - Odalis and Alvarez suffered setbacks during ST, and Penny was unable/unwilling to air it out. Phillips had a dismal .624 OPS in 2004 after a solid 2003 season, which is strangely Ross-esque. Then I read the following article, written by Tom Meagher of the Fourth Outfielder:

"How rough was Jason Phillips' season? He had fewer singles than his batted ball types would suggest, but he also had fewer doubles, fewer triples, and fewer home runs...perhaps he just had the unluckiest season in baseball. "

Phillips should be a solid starting catcher, will cost near the league minimum this year, and is a huge roster upgrade over Ross, who, to quote Lasorda, "couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat." As for Ishii, his 13-8 W/L record last year is not indicative of his performance; he enjoyed the best run support of any NL SP. The trade also makes it likely that the two blue chip prospects, Navarro and Martin, are not rushed to the bigs. So this trade is perfect for the roster, for the short term and the long term.

Plus I won't be chugging Pepto once every five days. Many thanks to the Mets!

2) Signing 2B Jeff Kent

Back in December, I posted this on the Dodgers forum just after Kent signed a 2 year $17 million contract with LA. I did this to throw some sense to the critics who were harping that LA signed a surly, slow-footed, pornstached, redneck former Giant with a propensity for popping wheelies on his bike. I compared Kent to Finley and concluded that Kent was the better fit for the Dodgers.

Finley ended up signing with Anaheim (that's right, NOT LAAofA) for a few bucks less than expected, but I think my point is still valid. Finley is nowhere near the upgrade over Werth/Bradley/Green(now Drew) as Kent is over Cora. LA upgraded from a #8 slap hitter to a cleanup hitter with a mere 2 year commitment. All this with a minimal downgrade on defense, to boot.

I know that it's only six games into the season, but I'd say he's gaining a few fans with his leadership, defensive play, and his 1.275 OPS.

3) Tie - Resigning RP Alvarez/Acquiring 3B Nakamura

Alvarez resigned with LA over the offseason for 2 years, $4 million. The portly one-time ace has found a nice niche as the swingman for LA, and provides veteran leadership to a bullpen where, outside of Gagne, is rather inexperienced. I realize that "experience" means nothing to a hitter facing a 95MPH fastball, but.... Alvarez is a 13 year veteran who provides versatility out of the pen, and is effective right-handed batters. Plus that "Fat Boy" gag last year...classic.

Nakamura, who recently got called up to the majors, could be a find. If not, it's no big deal - his contract is a "mere" $500,000. Beltre left a huge hole at 3B, and Valentin is a one year stopgap. (I know it's only 4 games into the season, but 3 errors in the first six games... although Jose is on fire with the bat) Will Nakamura pan out? I think he's capable, and if so, he would help the lineup overall - he has 5 Gold Gloves in Japan. Valentin would then fill in/platoon at 3B, SS, LF, and perhaps 2B - a la Jose Hernandez last year. That would be ideal.

But did you notice Ross's 1.235 OPS so far this year? OK, so it's only 11 ABs. (Phillips has a .596 OPS in 26 ABs.)

You think Depo would have pulled the trigger on the Ishii/Phillips deal if Ross has hit a 1.235 OPS in spring training?

Sometimes I think guys are given up on too early. On the other hand, sometimes guys can't reach their potential breaking in on a big market team like the blue. No one cares in Pittsburgh, so Ross feels no pressure and then can succeed. I really hope Choi doesn't follow in his footsteps.
slack, apparently mark grace unretired to pitch in a game if ross went 3 for 4.

seriously, i wish him well and hope he hits a ton. (just not against LA.) hope he doesn't disappear like jack fimple.

choi is starting to follow that path, but i think he'll be fine as soon as he stops pulling everything foul - his swing's looking better, but is mostly arms not enough wrists, so it ends up long and pull-happy. he needs to watch kent and how kent aims at left-center to right-center with a compact stroke. once choi gets it, he'll be fine.
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