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Castoffs Paying Dividends In NL West

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With all the hype surrounding the non-waiver trading deadline of July 31, there have been some moves made after that date that have been useful, at least in the early returns, for the top three teams in the National League West.  Here is a look at some of the key acquisitions by the Dodgers, Rockies, and Giants in August, as they prepare for the stretch drive.

Dodgers

Vicente Padilla was so disliked in the Rangers' clubhouse that some Texas teammates actually congratulated GM Jon Daniels when it was learned Padilla was released.  The Dodgers, searching for a fifth starter all season, signed Padilla to a minor league contract on August 19.  All Padilla has done since joining Los Angeles is pitch three good games, with the Dodgers winning all three.

Split GS W-L IP H R ER BB K ERA WHIP FIP
Padilla with Tex 18 8-6 108.0 120 61 59 42 59 4.92 1.500 4.93
Padilla with LA 3 2-0 16.1 16 5 5 4 12 2.76 1.224 2.41

Ronnie Belliard struggled earlier this season, but he started to get hot with semi-regular playing time with the Nationals.  Belliard was hitting .361/.400/.590 with the Nationals in August, before he was traded to the Dodgers on August 30.  I jokingly invoked the name of Marlon Anderson, another ex-National who caught fire for the Dodgers in September 2006, but so far the comparison is apt, as Belliard has produced.  With the opportunity to give Orlando Hudson more rest, and the hamstring injury to Casey Blake, Belliard has been more than just a bench player, starting seven of his eight games as a Dodger.

Split G PA HR RBI BA/OBP/SLG OPS
Belliard with Was 86 204 5 22 .246/.296/.374 .670
Belliard with LA 8 28 2 6 .370/.393/.667 1.067

I figured the Dodgers' roster moves were complete with the Belliard deal, but last Monday night proved me wrong.  The Dodgers added Jon Garland and Jim Thome, adding some depth to the starting rotation and power to the bench, respectively.  Garland, a workhorse who has pitched six innings or longer in 17 of his last 18 starts, won his Dodger debut last Thursday.
Split GS W-L IP H R ER BB K ERA WHIP FIP
Garland with Ari 27 8-11 167.2 188 90 80 52 83 4.29 1.431 4.57
Garland with LA 1 1-0 7.0 5 2 2 1 6 2.57 0.857 3.71

Thome, limited to pinch hitting duty with his bad back, got a hit in his first Dodger at-bat.  Assuming his foot injury isn't too serious, Thome will provide the Dodgers with a legitimate power threat off the bench over the next month or two and, knock on wood, a ready-made designated hitter in the World Series.

Split G PA HR RBI BA/OBP/SLG OPS wOBA
Thome with CWS 107 417 23 74 .249/.372/.493 .864 .373
Thome with LA 3 3 0 0 .333/.333/.333 .667 .297

Rockies

Jason Giambi was signed by Colorado to a minor league contract on August 24, after being released by Oakland 17 days earlier.  Giambi was activated once the rosters expanded, and quickly made himself at home with the Rockies:

  • September 1: Giambi pinch hit with the bases loaded in the 8th inning with a 7-3 lead over the Mets, and Giambi induced a walk in his first Rockies' plate appearance
  • September 2:  Tied 2-2 with the Mets in the 8th inning, Giambi again came up with the bases loaded, this time delivering a go ahead, two-run single, in a game the Rockies would win 5-2
  • September 4:  Tied 4-4 with Arizona in the 8th inning, Giambi again delivered a pinch single, driving in the go ahead and eventual winning run in a 5-4 Rockies win

Giambi became the third Rockies player in history to have a run batted in during each of his first three games with the club, joining Jeff Salazar (2006) and Steve Decker (1996).

Split G PA HR RBI BA/OBP/SLG OPS wOBA
Giambi with Oak 83 328 11 40 .193/.332/.364 .697 .315
Giambi with Col 4 8 0 4 .400/.625/.400 1.025 .487

The Rockies also wanted to acquire Garland, but instead opted to trade for Jose Contreras of the White Sox.  Despite his 5-13 record and 5.42 ERA with Chicago, Contreras wasn't having that bad of a season.  His FIP was 4.14, and as Rockies Magic Number noted on Purple Row, Contreras figured to help the club as a fill in for the injured Aaron Cook.  Remember, the Rockies had to start Josh Fogg against the Dodgers, so any kind of a warm body would have sufficed, but Contreras is much more than that.

Contreras did nothing to disprove his worth with his first outing  in Colorado, allowing only one run over 6.2 innings in a win over the Diamondbacks on Saturday.

Split GS W-L IP H R ER BB K ERA WHIP FIP
Contreras with CWS 21 5-13 114.2 121 83 69 45 89 5.42 1.448 4.14
Contreras with Col 1 1-0 6.2 8 1 1 1 5 1.35 0.350 4.04

Giants

The Giants got Brad Penny off the scrap heap when he was dispatched by the Red Sox after posting a 5.61 ERA (and 4.59 FIP) over his 24 starts in Boston.  All Penny did his first game back in the National League was own the World Champion Phillies, throwing eight shutout innings in Philadelphia last Wednesday.  Penny came back today with another win, this time against the Padres.

Split GS W-L IP H R ER BB K ERA WHIP FIP
Penny with Bos 24 7-8 131.2 160 89 82 42 89 5.61 1.534 4.59
Penny with SF 2 2-0 15.0 8 2 2 2 8 1.20 0.667 3.33

Penny is scheduled to face the Dodgers, his old team from 2004 through last year, in each of the next two weekends.

Sure its early, but sometimes the big moves aren't the only ones that deserve all the headlines.  In the case of the NL West, some minor moves have paid big dividends so far.