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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Seo Long: Seo, Navarro To Tampa Bay For Mark Hendrickson, Toby Hall; Tomko To DL

This morning's rumored trade has gone down, Jae Seo and Dioner Navarro to the Devil Rays for Mark Hendrickson and Toby Hall. More from Jon, who also passes along this Inside The Dodgers note that Brett Tomko has gone on the DL. It just gets better and better...

Snarky retorts at BTF.

Update: Also at BTF's Transaction Oracle:


Year           BABIP     ERA
Career       .301        5.21
2006         .252        3.81

Hmmm, something's different, I just can't quite put my finger on it...

Hendrickson, of course, remains Mark Hendrickson. He's still really tall. He still has no fastball. He still has a few other pitches of varying quality that batters swing out mainly out of boredom.

Update 2: according to tonight's Dodger broadcast, and contrary to the current Dodgers probables page, Hendrickson will face the Angels at Angel Stadium on Saturday in what is currently Brad Penny's scheduled start.

Update 3: I've shied away from making any kind of snap judgments on these trades, but, as I mentioned in the comments below, Steve (formerly of Fire Jim Tracy) characterized the trade as a replay of the Edwin Jackson and Chuck Tiffany for Danys Baez and Lance Carter trade. Navarro is all of 22, and a solid hitting catcher. At 22, there are plenty of guys who only now got drafted. Mark Hendrickson is 32 and has been consistently below average every single year he has pitched (given enough opportunities). Worse, he's only got one more year after this one of arbitration eligibility, and he won't likely be good enough to earn whatever salary he's liable to make. Toby Hall is nothing special defensively, and offensively, he's an aging (30 years old) nonentity. That is to say, the Dodgers just paid the D'Rays to take out their garbage while getting a hard kick to the groin and a "thank you sir, may I have another" besides.

There's a strong temptation to read into this a Frank McCourt moment of weakness, the idea that if the team's near contention, they need to do everything they can this very instant to help that along. But tossing aside kids like Navarro for garbage like Hendrickson and Hall, and before them, Jackson and Tiffany for Baez and Carter, makes me question the sanity of Ned Colletti. Almost certainly, Hendrickson won't be pitching well the rest of the way for the Dodgers, and if he is, the absence of Billingsley-grade, near-major-league-ready prospects in the Dodgers minors will ensure another year's worth of his mediocrity. Navarro was flawed, to be sure, but this flawed?

Update 4: Two quotes, one from the retired blogger Tom Meagher at Jon's:

"No, it's not something he will keep up," Meagher said. "In fact, it's kind of a sign of a stronger collapse to come. Pitchers do not wake up one morning with the ability to keep batters from hitting line drives. In terms of persistence of skill, LD% is at the bottom with HR/Fly, behind K, BB, and G/F. While the fluctuation Hendrickson is seeing is at the extreme, it is just fluctuation. ...

"Now, I don't mean to imply that it is impossible that Hendrickson has made some major change and that his pitching has improved considerably this year because of a change in his skills. It's not just his LD% that's down, he's also getting more Ks and BBs this season, so one could look at his line and decide that he's changed. However, to do so requires a great deal of naivete and wishful thinking. If he truly had made a significant change - had added velocity, came up with a new pitch - then we might assume there was a reason for the change in his line. But I've heard nothing about that being the case, and the team who would know best whether it was true is the one that just sent him packing. ...

"Performance fluctuates greatly all the time, and the fact that a perfect storm of fluctuations away from his career norms has only yielded Hendrickson a 3.81 ERA should be disquieting enough."

Now, contrast this with Mike Emeigh's comment here (see comment 46):
Allowing fewer line drives is not a skill.
Yes, it is.

There's a structural problem when standard statistical methods are used that makes it appear as though LD rate is not under the pitchers control (the same problem exists with BABIP). A pitcher with a high LD rate *has* to get better at it in order to keep pitching in the majors. When he does get better at it, statistically it looks like a regression to the mean.

When you look at pitchers that allow more LD than average as a group, they tend to allow more LD than average year in and year out. When you look at pitchers that allow fewer LD than average as a group, they tend to allow fewer LD than average year in and year out. That evidence suggests that LD rate (or more precisely, keeping balls in play from being hit hard) is in fact part of a pitcher's skill set.

I have no idea who's right, but my inclination is to believe Tom's theory, as it's more in line with Murphy's Law; wishful thinking, especially about veterans, rarely works out.

For some wacky reason, i like that deal for the dodgers.

Apparently Navarro, is horrible.

That is a bummer for Tomko.

Friends with him and his brother.

I know a team across town that can part with a starting pitcher. Say Escobar or a Weaver well acquainted with the Dodgers. (And no I don't mean Jared)
Escobar is untradeable because of his contract extension, I believe. WTE, on the other hand...
right now, I don't know if the Angels can afford to trade any starting pitcher.

Dodger Weaver, is actually coming along nicely, much to my chagrin. Escobar has been an enigma. And Colon is a "BIG FAT" question mark.

I am starting to regret that extension given to the Mr. Blister, Escobar.

So no deal with the boys in blue.

Navarro is defensively pretty bad, but he's a decent-hitting catcher, young, and will be under baseball's indentured servitude clause for another five years. Steve in today's Dodger Thoughts gameday thread called it a reenactment of the Edwin Jackson and Chuck Tiffany for Danys Baez and Lance Carter trade. That may be a pretty good characterization. Your belief in whether this is a good trade for the Dodgers will probably hinge on how much better you think Dioner can get. As a REALLY young guy, you'd think that would be a lot.
The corollary to that, Rob, is that it doesn't matter whether Navarro is changing oil at Jiffy Lube come October with Edwin Jackson washing the car after it comes out. It doesn't matter what we gave up, because we have nothing.
My general policy is to always believe Mike Emeigh.
Why, Chronicler? What evidence do we have that, as Meagher asks, Hendrickson has established a new pitch of some kind, or otherwise has given us some reason to believe his performance so far this year is the result of something other than fluctuation?
I think both Tom Meagher and Mike Emeigh are talking about the same thing.

It's been found that pitchers in the minors have a certain level of control of balls in play. For the most part once they reach the majors, this ability "disappears" because everyone has roughly the same ability in the majors.

So if you decide that you want to rush a bunch of AAA pitchers, what Mike is saying is that all things being equal, the one's with lower LD% would do better than the high LD% group.

And since we're talking about AAA pitchers, you'd rather have Hendrickson over the guy in AAA with the .350 BABIP.

So there you have it -- Mark Hendrickson, one of the best AAA journeymen around.

And the Dodgers just traded a 22-year old catcher for him.

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