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.

Oh good, it’s “Yasiel Puig is a showboat” season

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With the Los Angeles Dodgers punching their ticket to the World Series, Yasiel Puig is now going to be the subject of commentary by people who tend not to care about Yasiel Puig until it’s useful for them to write outraged columns or go on talk radio rants about baseball deportment.

We got a brief teaser of this last night when, after scoring the Dodgers’ ninth run on a Logan Forsythe double, TBS analyst Ron Darling criticized Puig for his “shenanigans” and “rubbing it in.” Never mind that his third base coach was waving him home and that, if he didn’t run hard, he was just as likely to be criticized for dogging it. In other news, baseball teams don’t stop trying in the fourth inning of baseball games, nor should they.

That was just an appetizer, though. The first real course of the “Puig is a problem” feast we’re likely to be served over the next week and a half comes from Phil Mushnick of the New York Post, who wrote it even before the Dodgers won Game 5 last night:

If you were raised to love baseball and to recognize the smart, winning kind from everything less, the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig is insufferable. As the sport is diminished by professionals who disregard the basic act of running to first base as a matter of style, Puig, an incurable home-plate poser, often makes turning doubles and triples into singles appear effortless . . . In the postseason, Puig continues to behave as if he’s in the Home Run Derby. He even seems to relish his high-risk flamboyant foolishness despite frequent backfires.

This may as well be a fill in the blanks column from 2013 or 2014, when “Puig is a flashy showboater who costs his team more than he gives it” columns were all the rage. It ignores the fact that Puig, commonly dinged for being lazy, worked his butt off in 2017, particularly on defense, to the point where he has a strong case for a Gold Glove this year. It also ignores his .455/.538/.727 line in the NLDS sweep of the Diamondbacks and his .389/.500/.611 line against the Cubs in the NLCS. In the regular season he set career highs for games, homers, RBI, stolen bases and almost set a career high for walks despite having seventy fewer plate appearances than he did back in 2013 when he walked 67 times. He’s not the MVP candidate some thought he might be, but he’s a fantastic player who has been a key part of the Dodgers winning their first pennant in 29 years.

But the dings on Puig from the likes of Mushnick have rarely been about production. They’ve simply been about style and the manner in which he’s carried himself. To the extent those issues were legitimate points of criticism — particularly his tardiness, his relationships with his teammates and his at times questionable dedication — they have primarily been in-house concerns for the Dodgers, not the casual fan like Mushnick. On that score the Dodgers have dealt with Puig and, by all accounts, Puig has responded pretty well. An occasional lapse to be sure, but nothing which makes him a greater burden than a benefit. I mean, if he was, would be be batting cleanup in a pennant-clinching game?

So if the beef with Puig is not really about baseball, what could Phil Mushnick’s issue with him possible be?

I, for one, have no idea whatsoever.