I have watched the Dodgers from afar. Not as the fan I was as a kid (see, “Done Bleeding Dodger Blue” from back in April), but as someone who has followed the Dodgers for half a century. After a few decades, it’s what you do, even if a team has gone badly wrong.
I have seen them floundering. Usually not awful, but also not good. Their run-differential (only plus-10) would seem to suggest they actually have overachieved a bit to be seven games over .500. But they are in a weak division, too. Honestly, if they can’t run down the Padres, who have the second-lowest payroll in baseball ($38 million to the Dodgers’ plunging but still $95 mill) … well, how good can they be?
And now I see they have made a trade tonight. You know, one of those blockbuster “in it to win it” kind of late-July deals.
Scott Podsednik? Really. That’s all you’ve got?
The Dodgers got the Pod Person from the Royals, and if he came for free you could almost make a case that this is a good thing. But the Dodgers not only assume the rest of the Pod Person’s $1.7 mill from this year (about $750,000), they gave up on trade their top catching prospect, in Lucas May, and a Single-A pitcher, Elisaul Pimental, who had a long ways to go to make the bigs … but was striking out more than one batter per inning at Great Lakes.
First, the Pod Man: Think “slight upgrade on Juan Pierre” and you’re pretty much there. Pod Man is a slap-hitting outfielder whose defensive skills are a little better than Juan’s (of, course, anyone’s would be). Pod Man has a bit more pop; he’s hit five homers this season; Juan has one over the past four seasons. And he actually can go days in a row with an RBI (44 so far this year, compared to Juan’s 21). He also is a bit above MLB average in on-base percentage, while Juan is a bit below.
The Pod Person likes to run, and fans love the stolen base, even if professional stat-crunchers are far less enamored of it. He has 30 steals in 42 attempts (he and Juan were tied for the AL lead in caught-stealing). He apparently is considered a good guy in the clubhouse, even if he is changing teams for the sixth time in a decade.
And this is a bit scary: The White Sox let Pod Man go at the end of 2009 so they could give an outfield job to … Juan Pierre.
Podsednik ought to be vaguely useful as long as Manny Ramirez is out, and Manny is breaking down a lot, these days. As in, “Podsednik will play and he’s probably better than Jamey Carroll” useful. But he is not a guy who should be expected to turn around the Dodgers. We have a decade of history to indicate he’s not that kind of player.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers took on some salary (which they clearly are loath to do, while the McCourts are fighting over the franchise in that very ugly divorce) … but the bigger issue is giving up the two prospects.
Lucas May was having a nice season at Albuquerque, with 11 homers and 45 RBI, and at this point in time looks like he may have more pop in his bat than Russell Martin, whose slump can now be measured in years — 2.5 and counting. (Twenty-three RBI in 300-plus at-bats?) But now the Dodgers apparently are stuck with Martin for years to come unless they spend real money on a free agent — or A.J. Ellis suddenly learns how to hit.
May doesn’t look like a can’t-miss prospect. Not like, say, Carlos Santana, the catcher the Dodgers gave up in the Casey Blake trade. Blake helped the Dodgers get to the playoffs the past two seasons, and he has a very impressive beard, but who would the Dodgers rather have now, a hirsute 37-year-old third baseman making $6.25 million … or the catcher hitting cleanup for the Indians and making the major-league minimum? Yeah.
Then there is the right-handed pitcher, Elisaul Pimental, the Dodgers threw in. Pimental is at the lower half of Single-A, but hitters down there are having issues with him, batting just .215 when he is on the hill. At 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds, Pimental probably isn’t going to remain a starting pitcher in the bigs, if he gets there … but then, there was that Pedro Martinez guy who was about the same size and seemed to do OK.
Still, giving up young pitching by an organization desperate for pitching at the big-league level … smacks of “short-term, we ain’t gonna be here when this matters” type of management, doesn’t it? The Dodgers have been short of pitching since spring training, and they haven’t fixed it yet, and it would seem fairly clear they can’t hit enough to make up for that starting rotation.
Again, I feel a bit bad for Ned Colletti. He is left with, apparently, almost zero money to spend, overseeing a team with a nice offense and really shaky pitching, maybe a move or two away from giving the Padres a real run for the postseason … and all he can do is fling away a couple of decent prospects to take on a low-salary outfielder, not a pitcher, who is a stop-gap, not a savior.
But, then, this allows the Dodgers to say, “Sure, we did something to try to improve ourselves for the stretch run.” Cliff Lee, it was not. Dan Haren, it was not. And that really is what the Dodgers need. Pitching.
Too bad they don’t play in a big market with massive revenue streams … Oh, yeah. They do. It’s just that the McCourts, a couple of self-indulging cretins, are spending a lot of it on lawyers in a battle to see who gets what, including the ballclub that neither of them deserves.