Dotel to the Dodgers

Ned Colletti looked to be done after acquiring Scott Podsednik, Ryan Theriot, and Ted Lilly, but with minutes to go before the deadline bell rang, the Dodgers GM pulled off a deal that will send Pittsburgh closer Octavio Dotel to Los Angeles for RHP James McDonald and OF Andrew Lambo. The Dodgers will reportedly receive cash from the Pirates as well, as Dotel has $3.5 million left on his contract.

Dotel will certainly help the Dodgers bullpen, but as was discussed in the Lilly deal, the question is how much. He has a 3.84 FIP/4.06 xFIP/3.50 tERA on the season, pretty much right around where he was in 2009. ZiPS thinks he’ll have a 3.50 FIP for the rest of the season (as well as a 3.86 ERA). He’s a solid upgrade to the bullpen, but I’m still not sold that this is what puts the Dodgers over the top. There’s a lot of baseball left to play and they’re pretty far back (seven back of San Diego, four and a half back of San Francisco), having to climb over two good teams.

What did they give up? Well, too much. McDonald is still a young, live arm who has had MLB success and is doing very well in Triple-A this season. Meanwhile Andrew Lambo was rated as the Dodgers #3 prospect this off-season by our own Marc Hulet. He currently is hitting .271/.325/.420 as a twenty-one year old in Double-A, and is highly regarded among prospect enthusiasts.

The Dodgers bullpen has had some serious struggles, and it doesn’t look like Jeff Weaver or any of the other guys recently used by manager Joe Torre were going to become saviors any time soon. However, the question isn’t whether or not Dotel upgrades the pen (he definitely does). It is still whether or not these deals will be the tipping point in LA’s hopes of making the playoffs. If they are not, then Ned Colletti just paid a whole lot in cash and prospects for marginal help than won’t have any real impact.

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Pat Andriola is an Analyst at Bloomberg Sports who formerly worked in Major League Baseball's Labor Relations Department. You can contact him at or follow him on Twitter @tuftspat

29 Responses to “Dotel to the Dodgers”

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  1. baty says:

    Wow, they really are going for it, haha

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  2. Bill says:

    The Pirates really cashed in those veteran bullpen arms. Trading Dotel, Carrasco, and Javier Lopez they end up with Lambo, McDonald, John Bowker, Joe Martinez, and Chris Snyder. Not bad for three guys signed to relatively cheap 1 year deals in the offseason.

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    • BX says:

      But then they non-tendered Matt Capps, who the Nats cashed in on, big time.

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      • ToddSm66 says:

        If the Pirates had kept Capps and spent the $4 million or so he would have earned through arbitration, it would have been interesting to see how many of these other bullpen arms they would have also spent money on. I’m guessing not many. Certainly not Dotel.

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      • Stu says:

        That was a huge mistake by the Buccos

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  3. BX says:

    Rest easy, Dodgers fans, for the man you are acquiring has saved 21 games for a very, very bad Pirates team, or over 50% of the Pirates’ wins this season.

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    • 3rd Period Points says:

      Seriously? Dotel has been known to lose the strike zone overnight, or go on the DL after slipping in the bathtub. Okay, maybe that was Larry Andersen…you get the point, though. I’d put the odds of Dotel remaining healthy and effective through October at -115.

      Apologies if you were J/K, BX.

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  4. Ned Colletti says:

    Is the deadline over? NOOOOO I haven’t found a taker for Kershaw yet!

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  5. longbeachyo says:

    Didn’t Lambo get suspended earlier this year for PED’s??? I don’t mind losing him one bit, but I hate to see a young pitcher given up on… a la Pedro Martinez.

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  6. Xeifrank says:

    Of course it doesn’t put the Dodgers “over the top”, trading for AROD would not put the Dodgers “over the top” this late in the 2010 season. It does shore up their bullpen which has been very shaky the past month or so. The Dodgers probably shouldn’t be buyers with their slim chances of making the playoffs. But atleast Ned is taking a run at it without giving up anything too earth-shattering.
    vr, Xei

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  7. Mike says:

    Hate this deal as a Dodger fan. Why trade away two former top 10 organizational prospects for a 36 year old reliever with a high WHIP and ERA? I wouldn’t trade either one for Dotel straight up, let alone packaged together! I’d rather see Manny traded for some good prospects.

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  8. Ned Colletti says:

    You can’t pass on an opportunity to add a middle reliever when all it costs is a couple of top 10 prospects.

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  9. skippyballer486 says:

    According to, James McDonald has an MLE 4.06 FIP. In ’09, it was 4.18. Dotel has an xFIP the past two years of 4.13 and 4.06. I think Dotel is a little better for this year, but McDonald may have been able to provide most of the current value as well as being 11 years younger and a potential future starter. And then the Dodgers added in another good young prospect. So yeah, that’s a pretty terrible trade for L.A. and a pretty awesome trade for the Pirates.

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    • Joe P. says:

      It’s even more terrible than even you point out here. McDonald more than makes up that value – that MLE FIP you’re using is him as a starter, not a reliever. He’s got only 60-ish (effective) innings as an ML reliever, but given what we know about starting vs relieving (and assuming MLE FIP conversion is worth a darn), he’s either pitching more Dotel-caliber innings or pitching better-than-Dotel relief innings.

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  10. Jon says:

    The Pirates may actually manage to contend in the next 5 years with all these rip-offs.

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  11. ray says:

    are you guys serious? McDonald has been inconsistent the past two seasons in AAA and in LA, and all of a sudden he is a solid major league starter in Pittsburgh? He couldn’t make it pitching for a winning team and in a pitchers park. And Lambo was a top 10 prospect in LA, sure, but had he stayed in the Dodgers organization, he would have dropped into the teens in 2011. See Dee Gordon, Chris Withrow, Aaron Miller, Trayvon Robinson, Jerry Sands, Allen Webser, Ethan Martin, Josh Lindblom, Jonathan Garcia, Zach Lee (??), and Kenley Jansen.

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    • KJ says:

      Ray, I think you are missing the point. Dotel is a known quality, a hard throwing releiver with a solid slider but is sometimes inconsistant. Dotel is not the kind of player that is going to likely swing a penant race because middle releivers rarely do. McDonald is relatively young and still has upside although he has not shown it yet (or ever will) but that is a gamble a team like the Pirates should make. Lambo is a very interesting prospect because keep in mind he is 21 playing in AA. There are not many 21 year olds in AA. As a 20 year old (his birthday is in October) in AA Andrew McCutchen put up a .260/.327/.386. Remember, with prospects its not necessarily what they are now but what the can be. One or both of these guys could be good, and that is more than worth a middle releiver.

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  12. Jim says:

    If a bunch of former or current baseball GMs collaborated to write a book and called it, “The Art of Being a Bad Baseball GM”, I think Ned Colletti could write the chapter on “The Art of Overpaying at the Trade Deadline”. I mean, serioulsy, dude, this is your 3rd straight year of doing this!

    (Although maybe the haul for Sherrill last year wasn’t overwhelming, but given what Sherrill has done and the fact that Josh Bell could be a decent young 3B for the O’s for a while–not spectacular, just decent–then yes, it’s 3 straight overpays.)

    The chapter on “The Art of Misjudging Your Organization’s True Depth/Potential” could be written by former M’s GM Bill Bavasi, based on that awful 2007-08 offseason that led to the disaster of a 2008 season.

    I’ve got more…anyone else want to make some suggestions?! ;)

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    • Justin says:

      “How Not to Run a Major League Baseball Rule 4 draft” – Dave Littlefield

      “How Not to Run a Major League Baseball Rule 5 draft” – Dave Littlefield

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  13. jahanzeb says:

    Really nice to read your blog keep it up

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  14. Joe R says:

    Surprised none of the fangraphs community has bumped this post to further ridicule Ned “will be selling shoes door to door by 2013” Colletti.

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