White Sox, Mariners shopping for offense

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According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the White Sox and Mariners have been active in early trade talks, with both teams looking for offense.
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise in either case. The White Sox have gotten lucky with Andruw Jones, but Juan Pierre has struggled in the leadoff spot and Mark Kotsay, who appeared likely to play more than Jones initially, has been a complete void through the first month.
The Mariners went for sentimentality over sense when they re-signed Ken Griffey Jr. over the winter. There was little reason to think he’d be this bad — he’s hit .212/.268/.242 with no homers and five RBI through 66 at-bats — but there were plenty of better choices to fill the DH spot in Seattle. The Milton Bradley-for-Carlos Silva swap, which was universally acclaimed, also couldn’t have worked out any worse.
There aren’t many obvious trade candidates available for either team right now, though. The Royals should be glad to part with Jose Guillen if anyone is willing to take on the remainder of his $12 million salary for this year, but since they are the Royals, there’s no way of telling if that’s really the case. Also, Guillen has played just one game in the field this year, and both the White Sox and Mariners would prefer someone who could play an outfield corner with some regularity.
The Marlins, with Mike Stanton on the way, could make Cody Ross available in a month or so, but only if both Chris Coghlan and Cameron Maybin step up their games. The Orioles should be willing to talk about Luke Scott, since they’re going nowhere and he doesn’t figure into their long-term plans. Jody Gerut is expendable in Milwaukee and is a useful part-time player.
There’s also free agency as an option. Of course, if either team wanted to try Jermaine Dye, the move would be done already. Dye was always open to returning to Chicago, and he listed Seattle as a favored destination last month. Gary Sheffield is another veteran waiting for a call. Plus, there’s the talented-yet-troubled Elijah Dukes still looking for work.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.