Angels and Nationals should consider a smaller trade

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Many are trying to set the Nationals up with Peter Bourjos after they lost another starting outfielder to injury in Jayson Werth over the weekend. That’d be nice and all, but the artillery is lacking to pull it off.

Instead, I’m thinking about a smaller deal here, if the two teams have in fact talked: Alberto Callaspo for Jesus Flores.

The Angels could really use a catcher with Chris Iannetta out 6-8 weeks following wrist surgery and Hank Conger sidelined with a sprained elbow. Flores has yet to show the promise he did before shoulder problems cost him all of 2010, but he is solid defensively and he might yet make an impact offensively if he could get regular playing time. For the Angels, he could start in the short-term and then replace Bobby Wilson as Iannetta’s backup later this season. The Nationals probably won’t ever have an expanded role for him if Wilson Ramos remains healthy.

The Nationals, on the other hand, could use another option at second base with Danny Espinosa floundering. Callaspo has played mostly third lately, but he came up as a second baseman and would be a useful stopgap there until Espinosa figures things out. He’d also be valuable insurance in case of another injury to Ryan Zimmerman. The Angels could move Callaspo and still have Maicer Izturis and Mark Trumbo at third base, with prospect Luis Jimenez also capable of stepping in at some point.

So, I think this one would work well for both teams. Who’s with me?

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.