Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
August 4, 2004
BASEBALL: Stinks Like Old Fish

You know, the Dodgers have gotten a lot of entirely undeserved grief for Paul DePodesta's imitation of the 1987 Giants, turning over a big chunk of the roster and dealing popular team leader Paul LoDuca. But even if you buy into the idea that "chemistry" is too fragile a thing to mess with, how can you possibly argue that the Marlins made a good deal by dumping Brad Penny and Hee Seop Choi for LoDuca, Juan Encarnacion and Guillermo Mota? I mean, LoDuca could win the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, and that still doesn't even the scales with Penny, who after all won two brilliantly pitched games against the Yankees in the World Series last year.

More seriously, what the heck were the Fish thinking? LoDuca is indeed having a fine year, batting .308/.460/.360, compared to career averages of .287/.430/.342, but he's notorious for wearing out in the second half (not a characteristic usually associated with team leaders on successful teams), and at 32 he's unlikely to change that pattern. Hee Seop Choi, by comparison, is just 25, already batting .270/.495/.388, and only likely to improve. (It's true he's had the advantage of platooning thus far this season). Encarnacion, of course, is likely to be no help at all with the bat (.235/.415/.290), while Penny was the team's second-best pitcher this season (3.15 ERA, 105/39 K/BB ratio), is only 26, and is still learning how to harness his Grade A fastball.

The only way to make sense of the deal is to look at Florida's desperate situation at catcher, where Mike Redmond and Josh Willingham have both been offensive and defensive busts. But that still makes this a panic trade; you don't give up young stars like Penny and Choi to fill a single hole with an unspectacular 32-year-old. Fools.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:06 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

Thank you. It's been an uphill climb trying to convince Dodger fans of the benefits of these deals, and the more voices we have on our side, the better!

Posted by: Robert Tagorda at August 4, 2004 8:11 AM

It's kind of interesting to me in that statheads seem to think the Dodgers won the trade, while more traditional minds seem to favor the Marlins in the trade. I guess I am a stathead, because I think the Dodgers pulled off a great deal. Even if it proves disasterous for this season, it will surely pay dividends in coming years.

Posted by: Tom G. at August 4, 2004 10:01 AM

Penny is really the key - while I disagree, I could see justifying the LoDuca-Choi swap as one in which the Marlins get the better end, at least in the short run and in light of LoDuca being a catcher. But there's no way that Mota is equal value for a front-of-the-rotation stud like Penny (particularly to a Marlins team that's been lights-out in close games as is), and Encarnacion is worse than useless.

Posted by: The Crank at August 4, 2004 10:20 AM

The Fish were going to have to trade Penny once the season was over, anyway, as he will be too expensive after arbitration. Yes, they were desperate for a good bullpen arm (the strain this season on Benitez is now evidenced by his DL stint) and a catcher who could hit at least a little bit. I guess that makes this a desperation trade, but then, the Dodgers were desperate for a starter, which the Marlins (IF Burnett and Beckett are healthy - a big if) have plenty of. This trade is a big risk for both sides, but it also makes (a certain amount) of sense for both sides as well. As with any trade - we will have to re-examine later. Who knows how it will work out.?

Posted by: Wiggs at August 4, 2004 11:47 AM

It's amazing how many of the mainstream media caterwaulers totally ignore the existence of Choi when discussing the deal.

Posted by: Dr. Manhattan at August 4, 2004 6:43 PM

First off the trade was a this-year trade, not a trade for the future. Mota was doing the job as a setup man and could have been a future closer. Encarnacion was starting to really hit and was a good base runner. But the worst was giving up an all-star catcher who was a very important part of the pitching and batting success while giving up more than 100 points in batting average in the catcher's spot in the line up is silly. And whom do the Dodgers have catching? David Ross (.170) and Brent Mayne (.215). You gotta be kidding. Brad Penny has been a bust this year. One start and a win and then he breaks down. Choi, on his best day, has been slightly better than a warm body on the field. Choi will never be a star, much less a regular. He certainly couldn't hit his way into the line-up. (He's batting 9 for 56, .160, no HRs). The trade was a gamble and the Dodgers would be better off if they had never made it. They got their pockets picked and the prize was LoDuca, who will be a better catcher at age 37 than Ross will be at age 27. Acquiring Steve Finley was a gimme insofar as it was simply purchasing an outfielder and a catcher (Mayne). Chad Kreuter where are you? DePodesta is no better than the two pretenders who preceeded him. In fact he's worse now because he thinks he's better. If the Dodger's collapse and lose out, it will probably be due to DePodesta's bad choices.

Posted by: Philip Pettus at September 17, 2004 2:02 AM
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