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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dodgers Trade For Orioles Closer George Sherrill

Ken Rosenthal and MLB.com report that the Dodgers have acquired Orioles closer George Sherrill from the Baltimore Orioles for 3B Josh Bell and RHP Steve Johnson; both are currently at AA Chattanooga. 32-year-old Sherrill has 20 saves (3 blown) on the season, with a 2.40 ERA and an 0-1 record. It strikes me as likely that Sherrill will end up more as an insurance policy for Broxton, whose toe has been bothering him quite a bit lately; but Rotoworld disagrees, believing he will be a setup man. Though we don't know when the injury — originally labeled a nerve injury, now believed to be a sprain — to his toe was incurred, he was first marked unavailable prior to a June 17 game. After that date, he has accumulated a 6.59 ERA with a 1-0 record and seven saves, one blown. In fairness, the ERA is the product of five bad games in that span, as he's mostly held the opposition scoreless. It's not encouraging, and considering Broxton has said he'll have to deal with it for the rest of the year despite cortisone injections, the combination leaves us wondering just how much use he will, in fact, get, and whether it might be better for him to hit the DL.

The more interesting part is what the Dodgers are giving up. The Dodgers either feel pretty good about Casey Blake over the remainder of his contract, believe that Blake DeWitt is a legitimate solution at the position (he isn't), or have something else in mind by trading away the next obvious prospect at third base. Those who didn't like the Carlos Santana et al. trade for Casey Blake will have that déjà vu-all-over-again (that includes me) feeling about dealing Bell. Bell, according to his Baseball America writeup, had "the most raw power in the system" with "a good approach at the plate" and "and above-average arm at third base", though they note his flaws include "a lack of speed and range"; his nickname in the minors was "Baby Kemp", and was the Dodgers' eighth most valuable prospect by that publication's ranking. Steve Johnson started the season as the Dodgers' 15th most valuable prospect, and while he's relatively highly thought of, he's a 90-93 MPH pitcher with ordinary stuff who compensates by pitching smart.

All that said — considering the consequences in the postseason, if I squint hard and hold my breath, I can understand this trade. Broxton's ERA is especially depressing, and while it's not necessarily indicative of the level of work he's doing overall, it makes some sense to have an A-grade closer if that's your lack. Thinking of it as a one-year rental going into a postseason where the Dodgers are in some ways the favorites helps, too; Dodger fans of a certain vintage probably recall the end of the Jeff Shaw deal, so the news that he's currently on a one-year deal with no options attached is good news (though look out for Ned Colletti attempting to extend him). I don't want to say I like this deal for the Dodgers, but I do understand it. Trouble is, I'm not sure Sherrill is going to be any better than Broxton — or, as Jon points out, any of his likely in-house replacements.

Update: While the trade isn't official per ITD, regfairfield makes the following useful comment at DT:

There's a pretty good chance that we won't miss Bell or Johnson, no question about it.

However, when you keep trading guys you probably won't miss for guys that don't help all that much (read any reliever outside of the top 10 or 15 guys), if even one of those guys you won't miss pan out, you end up behind in the end. I'd have to imagine that Cody Ross alone has provided more value than any of Colletti's minor moves.

I'm not a big Cody Ross supporter, but the larger point is that this is of a piece with Ned's tendency to throw away good pieces for rentals of established but dubious older players. True, Joel Guzman fizzled, and the jury's still out on Andy LaRoche, but Edwin Jackson and Dioner Navarro hurt in the here-and-now in that Jackson turned out to be as good as the guy who ended up replacing him (Mark Hendrickson) and better than either of the guys who he was traded for (Danys Baez and Lance Carter) while being a lot cheaper; and he's much better now. Similarly, Navarro is a starting catcher and was sold way too low. The only genuinely good trade I can think of that Ned's executed in his tenure with the Dodgers is Milton Bradley for Andre Ethier.

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