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.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.

Marlins announcer Tommy Hutton was let go because he was “too negative”

marlins logo wide

We heard earlier this week that Marlins television analyst Tommy Hutton was let go after 19 seasons on the job. By all accounts, he’s well-liked and respected, so it smelled a little fishy with a team that has owner Jeffrey Loria calling the shots. Well, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald was told by a source close to the Marlins that Hutton was let go because he was “too negative.”

Jackson was also able to get in touch with Hutton, who provided some details about how things went down.

“I know there were times I was negative, but I thought those times were called for,” he said. “Ninety percent of what I said was positive. I tried not to be a homer, but you could tell I wanted the Marlins to do well.”

After being told that his salary wasn’t a factor in the decision, Hutton suspected that his candid, blunt analysis might be the impetus for his ouster.

So after learning his fate on Monday, he asked that question – whether they thought he was too negative — to both a Fox producer (at a meeting at Starbucks) and the Marlins’ vice president/communications (by phone).

He said the question was met with silence by both executives.

“I couldn’t get a yes or a no,” he said.

Hutton said there were three incident in recent years where he was told the Marlins were uncomfortable with something he said. He disclosed one example where he was exasperated at the ballpark’s dimensions after former catcher John Buck flew out to the warning track for the final out of a game. He was told by a Marlins vice president after the game that Loria prefer he not talk about the ballpark’s dimensions. Of course, the team is moving in the fences this winter.

To be clear, Hutton said he was told it was a “mutual decision” between the Marlins and FOX to let him go, but Jackson’s source hears that the concern about his “negativity” came from the team.

Hey, do you know the best way to prevent “negative” talk about your team? Fielding a winning baseball team without a dysfunctional ownership and front office. Crazy idea, I know, but it could be cool?