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Turning Wilson Betemit and Bubba Crosby Into Robin Ventura

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Over a year ago, Ned Colletti shipped Edwin Jackson and Chuck Tiffany over to the Devil Rays for Danys Baez and another player who shall not be named. Baez was predictably horrible during his stint with the Dodgers, he had the perhiperals of a middle reliever and simply gained value by being the best pitcher in a bad bullpen. This year, however, I thought Colletti learned his lesson, and he assembled a bullpen out of cheap arms with good upside. Apparently, Danys Baez didn't quite hammer home the lesson as well as I thought he did, because the Dodgers have just acquired another middle reliever because of his track record.

Scott Proctor looks like the typical guy that breaks into the league late, has a nice year or two, and then fades nicely into obscurity. Look at the difference between Proctor's numbers between this year and last.

  1. 7.82 K/9, 2.69 K/BB, 1.05 HR/9
  2. 6.13 K/9,  1.28 K/BB,  1.32 HR/9
Proctor went from being a solid reliever to basically trash this year. His strikeout rate is below average for a relief pitcher, and his other peripherals are just horrible.  When you consider the massive workload that Proctor was put under last year, he doesn't seem like a very likely candidate for a bounce back, even if the Dodgers reduce his workload. Why? Because there's just not that much difference between how the Yankees would use Proctor and how the Dodgers will likely use him. Proctor was on pace to pitch 27 more innings this year if Joe Torre continued to deploy him as he had all year. How many innings will he pitch with the Dodgers? 20? 25? Will two to seven less innings save his arm and let him bounce back to where he was previously? I doubt it. If you believe that Proctor's declining numbers stem from over use this year, then why was April his worst month of the year? There's absolutely no reason to believe that Proctor was anything more than a flash in the plan last year, and now he's no better than any number of interchangeable relief pitchers (i.e. Rudy Seanez).

It doesn't help the Dodgers gave up something potentially very valuable in order to acquire Proctor. When the Dodgers acquired Wilson Betemit, the big question mark I had with him was plate discipline. He was showing growing power, but a questionable ability to hit for average combined with low walks meant there was a good possibility he would on base below .310 and be a replacement level hitter. In 2006, he lived up to this and while he hit a few jacks, he on based only .306 and was a near replacement level hitter. This year, something changed, and Betemit started walking. Wilson Betemit leaves the team as the leader in both isolated patience, and isolated power. Maybe it's just a sample sized based fluke, but given how expensive patience and power guys are on the open market these days, you have to give a player who shows those skills all the chances in the world to fail, because they can become the centerpiece of an offense. This applies doubly so if you can slot them into a middle infield spot, at least temporarily, like you can with Betemit. As he enters his peak years, Wilson Betemit has at least displayed a skill set that will allow him to become a huge offensive threat. I can't promise he'll ever live up to that ability, but you have to take a long, hard look at guys like that.

I'm really starting to hate Ned's propensity for valuing a player highly enough to give up something of value for him, then immediately turning around a few months later and dealing him for far less than he paid. Danys Baez, Jae Seo, and Betemit all fall under this category, and I just want to know how our GM can like a player enough to give up talent to acquire him, then suddenly do a complete 180 on his talent.

The only saving grace for this trade is that Betemit didn't seem to be in the Dodgers long term plans, so they didn't really lose much. Nomar, like it or not, seems to be firmly entrenched at third, and Tony Abreu or Andy LaRoche are his most likely replacements if he gets hurt. Still, there should be a place on the team for a switch-hitting utility infielder with Betemit's patience and power. He could have take Ramon Martinez's spot as utility guy. He gives the Dodgers a plan at second if Jeff Kent retires this off-season or he's contract isn't renewed. He could have taken some fly balls, and then possibly became a Chone Figgins style super utility guy for the next three years. It doesn't take much imagination to give a player with Betemit's skill set a place on your team, yet the Dodgers seemed unwilling to exercise any of them, all because of a one bad month.  When the best part about the trade is that your own mismanagement removed some of the impact of it, there's a problem.

The best-case scenario here is that the Dodgers hit the middle relief lottery with Proctor, he allows two runs in twenty innings with the team, and solidifies the bullpen. For the next three years, we hope that Proctor avoids the fluctuations in performance that plague all middle relievers. Meanwhile, Wilson Betemit's patience is a fluke, and he becomes the type of player he was in 2006. A nice guy to have on the bench, but not a real option for playtime.

Worst case scenario, Proctor flames out like the middle reliever that he is, while Betemit's patience and power numbers are for real and he goes on to put up a couple of .270/.370/.500 seasons while getting paid the salary of an arbitration eligible player. Yet again there's a huge possibility for the Dodgers to get burned on this deal, with very little upside. I know I keep saying this about Ned's trade, but if he does get burned one day, it could eliminate all the good we've gotten from his other deals.