Thursday, April 14, 2005


The Worst Transactions of the Offseason

The easy answer is not resigning Beltre. However, Beltre chose to sign elsewhere; such is the reality of free agency. Rather, what irks me is how the team chose to replace Beltre's production in the lineup. To quote Depodesta from a Dodger Thoughts interview:

"Our biggest fear was being left standing without a chair when the music stopped"

Depodesta called this an "audible", but this sure sounds like a scramble to me. I warned against that scenario in the Dodgers Forum way back in last October, and sure enough, it happened. Boras timed the Beltre signing beautifully. Glaus and Koskie, the other big-name FA 3Bs, had already signed, forcing LA to look for offensive production elsewhere. The premier position FAs left were catcher Varitek (no chance), 1B Delgado (LA was set on Choi), and the overpriced Boras clients such as Beltran, Drew, and Magglio.

Perhaps I should have called this post "The Beltre Hangover".

1) Giving J. D. Drew a Player Opt-Out Clause

Drew is a potential top 10 player when healthy, and may be worth $55 million over 5 years, if not more. My main gripe is the out clause. (See an earlier post for an explanation of its value - eerily similar to Beltre's contract) I just can't root for a player who will opt out 2 years if he performs well, or possibly saddle the team payroll for 5 years if he underperforms. Small upside, big downside.

Kent is a massive upgrade over Cora for a relatively low price at 2B, as is Phillips over Ross/Bako at catcher. Drew may be able to match Beltre's production, but he is NOT a massive upgrade over Green given the $55 million contract with an ugly clause versus $16 million for 1 year, especially figuring in the $10 million sent to AZ in the Green trade.

2) Trading RF Shawn Green

In itself, trading Green and $10 million for catching prospect Navarro and a handful of B prospects is not bad. Who knows how an aging Green will perform in 2005: .199 BA with RISP in 2004 or .970 OPS in 2001. Besides, the trade shored up a minor league system thin in catchers, and freed up some 2005 payroll to sign SPs - the biggest priority off the offseason, in my opinion. But I do not like this trade because it was made necessary by the Drew signing, which was in turn made necessary by the Beltre fallout. Trading Green to a division rival with a stadium that is kind to decent power hitters is not a good idea, either.

One could say that Green waived his no-trade clause for an extension; I would say that Arizona pursued him because they were reasonably sure that they were one of the few teams willing to extend Green's contract and take on a decent RF in the middle of their lineup. (It helps that Green's former agent runs the Dbacks now.) Hence they were probably the only serious bidder for Green's services. When you are forced to make a move, chances are that you won't get equal value in return.

3) Resigning Elmer Dessens

This isn't the worst signing in LA history. Afterall, it's only a small one year deal. Who knows, maybe I don't like anyone named Elmer. But let's face it, this is the same guy who got bumped from the rotation of the worst team in baseball last year. Alvarez, when healthy, is clearly the better swingman. Dessens came up golden the other day, and I hope that he continues to be serviceable filling in for the pitchers on the DL. But I think he was resigned because:

1) He is the only Mexican player in a large Mexican market.
2) He is a Depodesta acquisition.

Neither of these reasons translate to performance on the field.

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