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.

Clay Buchholz apologized to the Phillies for getting injured

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MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that starter Clay Buchholz is at Citizens Bank Park for Wednesday night’s game against the Marlins. The right-hander recently underwent surgery to repair a partial tear of his flexor pronator mass. The timetable for his recovery is three to five months, but most are expecting him to miss the rest of the season since the Phillies aren’t legitimate contenders.

According to Zolecki, Buchholz apologized to GM Matt Klentak “and others” — presumably other front office staff and/or his teammates — for getting injured. Buchholz hopes to return to pitch in September.

It’s saddening to me, and indicative of the general anti-labor culture in sports, that a player feels obligated to apologize for getting injured on the job. Injuries are nothing new for Buchholz, which might have factored into his decision to apologize. Red Sox fans got on his case quite a bit over the years for his propensity to land on the disabled list. But it wasn’t like Buchholz was taking unnecessary risks; he simply did his job, which entails doing a lot of unhealthy movement with his arm. Buchholz owes no one an apology.

Buchholz isn’t the only player to have apologized for getting injured. Outfielder Hideki Matsui apologized to the Yankees in 2006. Starter Masahiro Tanaka apologized in 2014. Twins reliever Glen Perkins apologized last year. Even Madison Bumgarner sort of apologized for suffering injuries riding a dirt bike on an off-day, saying “It’s definitely not the most responsible decision I’ve made.” Because god forbid an athlete has interests and hobbies outside of his vocation.

Players are brought up in a sports culture that allows exorbitantly wealthy owners to bilk the players — laborers — at every possible turn. They’re mostly underpaid and poorly taken care of in the minors. If and when they reach the major leagues, their salaries are intentionally depressed for six years and their service time is toyed with (just ask Kris Bryant). Buchholz endured that and then endured the criticism that comes with having been a hyped prospect who mostly failed to live up to expectations. He’s gone above and beyond what he needed to do to have a successful career as a professional baseball player, even if it wasn’t as much as fans or front office personnel would have liked.

Eric Thames leaves game with apparent injury

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Update (5:22 PM ET): Thames is dealing with left hamstring tightness. Manager Craig Counsell says it’s “not a big deal,” Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

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Brewers first baseman Eric Thames left Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Reds in the top of the eighth inning with an apparent injury. Thames took his position to start the inning, but was replaced by Jesus Aguilar. Thames had flied out weakly to center field to end the previous inning, so perhaps something happened while he ran that out.

The Brewers should provide an update shortly on the exact nature of Thames’ early exit. Needless to say, losing Thames to the disabled list would be a huge blow to the 11-11 Brewers, as he entered Wednesday leading all of baseball in runs (25), home runs (11), slugging percentage (.929), and OPS (1.411). Thames was 1-for-3 with a single, a pair of walks, and two runs scored before leaving.