Talk about turning your molehill into a mountain. On Monday, the Dodgers made a “non-headline” move when they acquired right handed reliever Brandon League, 29, from the Seattle Mariners. The original thinking was because the Dodgers have not been able to obtain another starting pitcher, shoring up the bullpen made sense. As it turns out, League was being used to set-up yet another deal in what has been a busy July for the Dodgers.
Tuesday, the Dodgers sent relief pitcher Josh Lindblom, along with another prospect, to the Phillies in exchange for two-time All-Star outfielder Shane Victorino. The Phillies also dealt Hunter Pence to the Giants so it looks like a franchise that went to the post-season the previous five seasons is blowing off 2012 and entering into a “rebuilding mode” as far as their offense is concerned.
The acquisition of Victorino answers one question but raises another. The 31-year old, who becomes a free agent after this season, fills in nicely at the top of a Dodgers line-up devoid of what one may call a “classic lead off” hitter. An injury to infielder Dee Gordon left the Dodgers with little speed at the top of the line-up. For example, Monday night against Arizona, the first two Dodgers to bat were infielder Mark Ellis and outfielder Juan Rivera. Between them, they have five stolen bases and one triple. Not exactly a pair of Usain Bolts.
Victorino changes all of that. He has 24 stolen bases and five triples this season. Victorino led the league in triples last year with 16. He is having a bit of a down year at the plate as evidenced by his .261 BA, 19 points below his average over the previous four years. The question is where Victorino will play in the field.
Victorino has pretty much been the Phillies everyday centerfielder since 2008. The Dodgers already have a guy named Matt Kemp there. Victorino has played all three outfield spots during his career and Kemp says he won’t mind learning left field if needed.
Victorino, who was originally drafted by the Dodgers in 1999 before being lost to the Padres in the Rule 5 draft, also brings along two added bonus’ – defense and the ability shine in the post season. He has won three Gold Glove awards and batted .368 in the 2009 NLCS versus the Dodgers and .316 against the eventual World Champion Cardinals in the2011 NLDS. Funny how quickly hate turns to love. I hated it when the Dodgers couldn’t seem to get him out in that NLCS, ; now I’ll love it if he can do it all over again.
Lindblom, 25, was drafted out of Purdue University in 2008. The Dodgers originally saw him as a potential closer behind then-All Star closer Jonathan Broxton. He came up last year and was called into 28 games. His 1-0 record and 2.73 ERA last season earned him a key relief role in 2012. Lindblom appeared in 48 games going 2-2 with a 3.02 ERA.
The Phillies also get minor league starting pitcher Ethan Martin. Martin was 8-6 with a 3.58 ERA at Double A.
League (0-5, 3.63) will certainly be asked to a lot more than originally planned. In addition to filling Lindblom’s role, he may need to take some of the load off the struggling Ronald Belisario. Belisario, who had a 1.53 ERA at the All-Star break and was the main “go-to” guy in the seventh and eighth innings, has given up five runs in his last four appearances and his ERA is now 3.03.
The Dodgers obtaining two high profile players (they added Hanley Ramirez last week) is sort of ironic given the fact the Angels stole the L.A. headlines during the off-season with their signings of Albert Pujols and pitcher CJ Wilson, not to mention trading for Zack Greinke a few days ago. Now the headlines of the Los Angeles Times sports section is doubly packed. That much dreamed about freeway series may be looming larger than the San Gabriel mountains.