Three Late Deals

The second trade deadline is usually fairly boring, as most of the interesting players don’t clear waivers and teams are unwilling to surrender much in value for a one month rental. This year, however, two NL west clubs made three deals at the final hour, and all of them are kind of interesting.

First off, the Dodgers acquired Jon Garland from the D’Backs. After a disastrous start to the season, Garland has rebounded to put up a season right in line with the rest of his career – not many walks, strikeouts, or home runs allowed, living and dying with the results of his balls in play in any given start. Lately, the results have been great, and the Dodgers are willing to pay a premium for a guy who should be able to eat innings at the back of their rotation down the stretch. He’s basically insurance for Hiroki Kuroda in case his recovery from a concussion doesn’t go so well. Dodger fans should be hoping he doesn’t start any playoff games this winter.

LA wasn’t done, however, also adding Jim Thome to provide some punch off the bench. If this deal were made five years ago, James Loney would have to fear for his job, but Thome’s been strictly a DH for a few years now and would seem to be nothing more than a pinch-hitter for the Dodgers. He’ll improve LA’s bench in October, and because of the reduced need for pitchers in the playoffs, they should be able to carry a pure bench bat.

Finally, the Rockies got into the trade fun by acquiring Jose Contreras to help patch their pitching staff. Contreras is a tough guy to get a read on, because his stuff is still good, his peripherals are strong, but he remains awful when men are on base, so his absurdly low strand rates lead to less value than his FIP would suggest. Usually, we chalk stuff like that up to random variation, but Contreras has been underachieving in LOB% for so long that its getting hard to ignore. If the Rockies can figure out how to fix his problems with leaving runners on, they could have a nice addition, but that seems like a tough task to pull off in four weeks time.

None of these moves are likely to have a huge impact on the playoff races. The Dodgers are still huge favorites to win the NL West, and the Rockies acquisition of Contreras is just an attempt to balance out the Giants addition of Brad Penny. However, given the usual boredom August 31st brings, it’s interesting to see three fairly big name guys moved this late in the trade season.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

15 Responses to “Three Late Deals”

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  1. Matt says:

    Some of his LOB issue is that he’s terrible at holding runners, singles and walks are doubles.

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  2. The Typical Idiot Fan says:

    Contreras? Didn’t he like, choose poorly in that Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade movie?

    Guy was already old, but he sure got old fast, even for an old… you get the idea.

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  3. Matthew says:

    the PTBNL in the garland trade is TONY ABREU…. what a JOKE ned colletti is…. 5 starts of garland for Tony abreu… a guy who was TEARING UP AAA and would be the dodgers 2nd basemen of the future Once hudson gets his smiling ass out of dodger town

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  4. Kevin S. says:

    Isn’t it possible that Contreras simply loses more than a normal pitcher does when he goes to the stretch? Seems like a logical reason why he’d underperform LOB% consistently.

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  5. Joe R says:

    SSS alert, but last time Thome played 1B, he had a +4.4 UZR/150 over 436 innings.

    Thome is still an elite hitter, that’s a lot of pop to leave chilling on the bench for most of the game.

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    • Teej says:

      Thome told Colletti he can’t play first anymore.

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      • Joe R says:

        Meh, I guess for a 24 year old in single A, getting Thome’s pretty good.
        In fact, wtf, Kenny Williams couldn’t at least ask for a guy who could pan out as a middle reliever?

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  6. Ari says:

    I’d be surprised if the Dodgers picked up Thome and the 2.2 or so remaining on his contract just to PH. Loney hasn’t hit righties well this year and has reverse splits, so I’m assuming Thome picks up a whole whack of starts vs. RHP and gets removed for defensive purposes late in the game.

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    • Joe R says:

      True, but I wouldn’t read too much into 112 PA vs. LHP. Career-wise, he has a .297/.353/.461 guy vs. righties and a .286/.350/.426 vs. lefties, with about the same BABIP against both.

      The way more interesting split for Loney is this:
      Home: .267/.331/.377
      Away: .320/.373/.523

      Granted 1/9th of those road games are in Colorado, but that’s huge. That’s the difference between an all star (or borderline) and a AAAA guy at 1st.

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    • Paulie L. says:

      The only way Thome starts is if there is an emergency. He has a bad back and can’t play the field anymore. He will be a pinch hitter the rest of the way until/if the Dodgers make the WS and he can then DH.

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    • Mike says:

      You seen Thome run lately? He’s never been fast, but if they kept a stat for “Singles off the wall” he’d be leading the league just in the last month. It takes a triple to score him from second. Not sure he’s real capable of playing first except in an emergency.

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  7. Rob in CT says:

    Contreras probably just absolutely sucks from the stretch. That would explain a bad strand rate. I can’t imagine what the Rockies see in him, but you never know.

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    • Joe R says:

      He’d be 17th of 80 starters if he pitched a few more innings in GB rate. High GB pitchers can usually do well in Colorado.

      His FB rate is also high, though, which could make things dicey.

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  8. Mike says:

    Small sample size alert, but John Garlands postseason numbers are pretty darn good.

    2 starts, 16 innings, 11H, 3BB, 11K

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  9. delatopia says:

    Charlie Haeger has one bad inning and gets yanked from the rotation. Ned Colletti and the Dodgers can bite me.

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