Trade analysis: Sherrill to Dodgers

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Dodgers acquire LHP George Sherrill from the Orioles for 3B Josh Bell and RHP Steve Johnson
So much for the thought that the Orioles would have to be overwhelmed to move their closer.
Sherrill can’t be considered an elite reliever when his career high for innings is 53 1/3, but he’s as effective against lefties as anyone in the game and he holds his own against right-handed hitters. Now that he’ll again be a matchup reliever, he should be even more effective. In theory, he’d also be a better bet to stay healthy. However, Joe Torre is going to have something to say about that. Sherrill might have been better off throwing an inning at a time as a closer than he will be when Torre decides to use him four times a week with the occasional warm-up, sit-back-down usage that he rarely had to deal with in his set role.
What figured to really help Sherrill’s trade value — and make him more attractive as a keeper for the Orioles — is that he’s under control through 2011. However, this isn’t far off the kind of return he might have brought in as a free agent at season’s end.
Bell isn’t the problem. The switch-hitting 22-year-old was hitting .296/.386/.497 with 11 HR, 52 RBI, 70/50 K/BB and 3 SB in 334 AB for Double-A Chattanooga this season. I view him as a potential 25-homer-per-year regular for Baltimore. However, he’s never going to be better than average defensively at third base and some think he’ll require a move to first base or an outfield corner. Also, he’s yet to show much power as a right-handed hitter. In fact, all of his homers this year had some left-handed. He’s a top-50 prospect, but he’s not a sure thing.
Johnson is the weak link here. The Orioles should have insisted on a better second prospect than the 21-year-old. It’d be very disturbing if they let the fact that his father, Dave, was a former Oriole influence their thinking here. Steve Johnson was 8-4 with a 3.82 ERA for Single-A Inland Empire this season. He just moved up to Double-A and posted a 1.69 ERA in his first two starts. Overall, he’s allowed 55 runs — 43 earned — and 15 homers in 107 1/3 innings this season. The Cal League is a tough place to pitch, and he does have 117 strikeouts. However, he’s a long shot to become a quality starter. The Dodgers had at least five better pitching prospects, and the Orioles have around 10.
So, I think the Dodgers did quite well here, though it’s a pickup that could backfire easily. Sherrill’s arm and Torre’s tendency to overuse his setup men could be a bad match, and while Sherrill’s contract status makes him more valuable, if things go badly enough, it’s entirely possible that he’ll be non-tendered this winter.

Imagining Theo Epstein in politics

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“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.”

Or: “When Theo Epstein won World Series championships with the two most championship-starved franchises in baseball history, he got bored, and decided to run for the Senate or something.”

That latter bit is the premise of a Politico piece speculating that the Cubs president could go into politics one day. The story features an interview with former Obama chief strategist David Axlerod, who thinks Theo has what it takes. Mostly what he has is fame, popularity, good looks and money. No idea what his positions on issue are, but that other stuff goes a long way in politics these days.

Bonus: given what we just elected last fall, a guy who once had a little temper tantrum and dressed up in a gorilla suit is just as viable a candidate as anyone.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.