Back To School: The Professor Returns…

According to reports out of the L.A. Times, and through Tony Jackson, the Dodgers have acquired Greg Maddux.  According to Jackson, though, the deal isn’t quite done yet and it is in the process of clearing the final hurdles and the like.

Who the Dodgers have given in return to San Diego isn’t known yet, so that definitely plays a HUGE part on our feelings towards the deal itself.  The good news to that, though, is that it isn’t like the Padres have any leverage, here.  Maddux has repeatedly said that if he were to get traded, he would pretty much only waive his no-trade clause to the Dodgers, as he wants to stay on the west coast near his home in Dana Point.  But, still, we don’t know who is going back and, until we do, let us analyze how Maddux helps the team itself because, even if Ned overpaid, it doesn’t necessarily mean Maddux won’t help out the club this year.  In other words, take the Casey Blake deal: while we hate that we gave up too much to Cleveland, that doesn’t mean that Blake hasn’t helped us this year.  So, back to this deal:

Now, you remember Greg Maddux… the Mad Dog.  The Professor.  The guy who somehow found his mojo again for us in late 2006 and went 6-3, with a 3.30 ERA, 136 ERA+, and a 1.08 WHIP and propelling us to a playoff berth (I’ll ignore his game 3 start in the NLDS, though…).  In fact, his start two years ago against SF where he went 8 IP, while throwing 68 pitches is probably the best start I’ve seen at Dodger Stadium in a long, long time.  Masterpiece.

However, Maddux is now 42 and isn’t necessarily in his prime anymore.  In fact, even in the spacious confines of Petco Park, he has been rather average.  This year, Maddux has an ERA of 3.99, an FIP also at 3.99, a 98 ERA+, and a 1.22 WHIP and most of his peripheral stats have remained consistent.  But even with these average stats, he has managed to turn it on this August, a month historically his best, by putting up a 1.89 ERA, and 0.74 WHIP in three starts.  Also, from 2005-2007, he has also turned it on in the second half, going from a first half ERA of 4.48 to a second half ERA of 3.87.  One of the concerns that I have had this year is that his home/away splits have been rather, alarming?  At Petco Park this season, he has an ERA of 2.62 with an away ERA of 5.75.  The good news is that, despite those away numbers, he has always been good at Dodger Stadium, even in recent times.  This year, he had a very good outing against the Dodgers at the Ravine, throwing 5 IP of 2 hit ball in April and from 2005-2007, he has put up a 2.68 ERA at Dodger Stadium in 8 starts.  He has also done well against most other division rivals.  He has complete ownage of the Giants, and over the same 3 year span, Maddux has a 3.15 ERA in the three games started there, as well as a 6 and 7 IP outing over there this year, where he only give up 1 run in each start.

The downside?  Well, he sucks against Arizona… anywhere.  His ERA at Chase Field from 2005-2007 is 6.40 and he’s doing about the same against them, this year.  But, overall, I can’t really complain about this move.  With Brad Penny likely not being able to be effective this year, the Dodgers did need an average starter to fill that spot and, for some strange reason, I do tend to trust even a 42 year old Greg Maddux over Jason johnson.  Also, if the Dodgers do make the playoffs, I do have concerns with a Billingsley/Lowe/Kuroda rotation, especially with some of the inconsistencies of Kuroda.  Of course, the other aspect of this deal is Clayton Kershaw: if the Dodgers make the playoffs, chances are Kershaw doesn’t make the roster.  I mean, it IS possible, but not likely.  Not due to any performance related issues, mind you, but, rather, he is still all but 20 years old and he is gradually nearing the maximum amount of innings he should be throwing this year.   By putting Kershaw either in the bullpen by September or off the potential playoff roster, Maddux can be a capable replacement.  While I’m not thrilled with his numbers against Arizona, I do think that Maddux will come back and prove to be a decent starter from here on out, especially as he tends to get better in the second half and is now back in a pennant race.  Perhaps he won’t have quite the effect he had in 2006, but as long as he can provide an average of 5-6 IP every night, maybe giving up 2-3 ER, I’ll take it.

And, of course, you can’t forget about the whole mentoring effect, where, surprisingly, he seemed to have the biggest effect on Derek Lowe in 2006, but, oh, how I’d love to see The Professor and Clayton Kershaw talking pitching between now and the end of the season… but until then…

Welcome Aboard, Professor!

- Vin vinscully-face.jpg

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  1. [...] August 19, 2008 at 5:46 pm | In Eric Stults, Greg Maddux, Tanyon Sturtze | Yesterday, Vin detailed the then-pending trade for Greg Maddux, and while I was very happy to hear that Maddux was coming [...]