Dodgers get better, worse with Ted Lilly acquisition

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There’s a case to be made that Ted Lilly was worth Blake DeWitt, Brett Wallach and Kyle Smit.
What I don’t get was why Ryan Theriot was a part of these talks, unless he’s about to be spun into another trade. Theriot is hitting just .284/.320/.327 in 388 at-bats this season. If he’s a better defender than DeWitt at second base, he’s still probably below average there. He’s a poor baserunner for someone with above average speed, and he seems to have lost the plate discipline that made him an adequate regular in the first place.
The second baseman the Dodgers should have picked up in the deal was Mike Fontenot. A left-handed hitter, he would have been a fine platoon partner for Jamey Carroll in the Dodger infield. His .281/.328/.394 line this year is nothing special, but it’s been dragged down by pinch-hitting appearances. Plus, since he’s due only a modest raise from his $1 million salary, he should be worth hanging on to in 2011. Theriot is already making $2.6 million, so he’s a definite candidate to be non-tendered in the offseason.
I’m not a big DeWitt fan, so I’m fine with giving him up for Lilly and the possibility of two draft picks this winter. The 24-year-old has outplayed Theriot this year, but he lacks great range at second and he’s probably never going to display the power to play third on a regular basis. He’s a tweener.
Wallach, 21, had a 3.72 ERA and a 92/43 K/BB ratio in 84 2/3 innings for low Single-A Great Lakes. Tim’s son has a chance to be a legitimate major league starter, but he needs to tighten up his slider. He was probably the Dodgers’ fifth- or sixth-best pitching prospect. Smit, a 22-year-old right-hander, is a fringe relief prospect. He had a 2.35 ERA and a 47/10 K/BB ratio in 53 2/3 innings, most of them coming at high-A Inland Empire.
Lilly’s addition should provide a significant boost to the Dodger rotation. He’s been inconsistent, but he’s healthy now and he’s a nice fit in Dodger Stadium with his flyball tendencies. While L.A. is still far from a lock for the postseason, the price paid for the left-hander was worth it. Now if only they can go get themselves a real second baseman before the deadline. They should be after Kelly Johnson.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.