Cubs @ Dodgers August 3, 2012: Claim All of the Phillies

As morning turned into afternoon, all seemed quiet in Dodgertown, with only the prospect of a weekend series against the atrocious Cubs to occupy our thoughts. Then the Dodgers traded for Joe Blanton and claimed Cliff Lee on waivers, and all of a sudden there’s no shortage of fun things to talk about.

On Blanton first, in my hurried trade post put up between meetings at work today, I briefly said that I liked the deal, and the more I think about it the more I approve. It’s hard to say that Ryan Dempster is going to provide that much more value over the rest of the season – and maybe not even any, considering how rough his last few starts and Texas debut have been – and even if he does, the price for Blanton is monumentally less than the Allen Webster package Chicago wanted. Blanton’s not someone I want starting Game 2 of a playoff series, but he’s absolutely better than Stephen Fife, and any worries about the rotation being overstuffed get set aside when you hear that Ted Lilly had another setback in his return from shoulder pain. (And the $25.5m he’s getting this year and next, well, that just looks better and better.)

Cubs
Dodgers
CF
DeJesus
LF
Victorino
SS
Castro
2B
M.Ellis
1B
Rizzo
CF
Kemp
LF
Soriano
RF
Ethier
RF
LaHair
SS
Ramirez
C
Clevenger
1B
Loney
2B
Barney
3B
Cruz
3B
Valbuena
C
A.Ellis
P
Samardzija
P
Billingsley

Chad Moriyama has more:

Up until 2010, Blanton had a 5.8 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9, but over the last 174.2 innings from 2011 on, he’s posted a 7.7 K/9 and a 1.4 BB/9. As a result, while his ERA is 4.59 this year, his FIP sits at a solid 3.98, while his xFIP and SIERA are both 3.39. The move from Citizens Bank Park to Dodger Stadium could not only make him a significant improvement as a #5, but make him the third best option on a staff with a lot of solid but not great pitchers.

Surprised by the peripherals? So is … uh … everybody, but the more significant point is that he’s a solid upgrade that will help the Dodgers and might actually end up making more of a marginal wins difference than Victorino.

I don’t expect the player to be named to be of any worrisome value, and in fact it might be a way to fix the 40-man issues we discussed this morning if they unload Ivan De Jesus, Chris Withrow, Josh Wall, or Matt Angle. But on to the other big Philadelphia news of the day, and that’s that the Dodgers won the waiver claim on Cliff Lee.

I’ve seen a lot of confusion on what this means, and it really means one thing and one thing only: the financial power of the Dodger ownership is for real. The sheer cojones it must have taken to put in a claim on a player who has over $120m coming to him (assuming a 2016 vesting option takes effect, which barring major injury, it probably will) for his age 34-37 seasons is incredible, and that’s why no team ahead of the Dodgers put in a claim – because in the incredibly unlikely scenario that the Phillies actually let the claim go through, that contract would torpedo nearly every other club in baseball.

I say “incredibly unlikely,” because that’s what it is. The Phillies have three options between now and Sunday afternoon. They can pull Lee back off of waivers, which is almost certainly what they’ll do. They can negotiate a trade with the Dodgers for Lee, which seems sure to go nowhere since they reportedly were demanding top prospects and a club to eat most of the contract, in addition to needing to deal with Lee’s no-trade clause. (It’s not a full no-trade, but at the moment it’s uncertain if the Dodgers are among the 21 teams he can block trades to.) Finally, the Phillies could just throw up their hands and say “take him,” sticking the Dodgers with the entire contract with no prospects changing hands.

While it seems like a tempting way for the Phillies to trim payroll, I just cannot imagine them simply allowing an elite pitcher like Lee – and make no mistake, stupid 2-6 win/loss record aside, he is an elite pitcher – walk for nothing other than financial savings. It’s nearly unheard of. As unlikely as I find that, I consider it even more unlikely that the two teams would somehow manage to find common ground on money, players, and deal with Lee’s no-trade before Sunday afternoon. So as much fun as it is to dream of a Clayton Kershaw / Cliff Lee duo in the playoffs… well, it just doesn’t seem too likely. I’ll give it a 5% chance, at best.

As for tonight’s game, Chad Billingsley attempts to keep his productive streak rolling as Hanley Ramirez gets his first start at shortstop for the Dodgers. Luis Cruz slides to third base to make his second start at the hot corner, while Juan Uribe, two days short of two weeks since his last start, looks wistfully at the fans in town for Star Trek Night and wonders what being a Tribble might be like.

711 comments
Bill Grabarkewitz
Bill Grabarkewitz

And a very pleasant good evening to you, wherever you may be.

Justncred1ble
Justncred1ble

Billz throws 7 strong innings, Victorino gets his first base hit and stolen base for LA, AJ hits 2 HR's, Vin continues being Vin and a Dodger win. Today... today was a good day.

ThtsaPaddlin
ThtsaPaddlin

Can someone who's b-ref savvy share AJ's stats since he's gotten hot?

Tired Math Cat
Tired Math Cat

this ump is playing favorites. or is pitying the cubs. 

JoeyE
JoeyE

call me maybe is always stuck in my head

Hoagiebum
Hoagiebum

It always pisses me off when pitchers walk guys when the team has a big lead.

MSTIer: Jake
MSTIer: Jake

ha people are getting annoyed by hanley? just wait to victorino comes around

Frank J Lapidus
Frank J Lapidus

Cubs announcers didnt like Hanley taking an extra second to admire his hit the other inning

Morry
Morry

Did anyone notice after AJ's 10th HR he said to Ethier "I comin for you". Awesome

MSTI>Dodgers Digest
MSTI>Dodgers Digest

Cubs announcers suggesting Hanley should be plunked for the pause, specifically Brenly

JoeyE
JoeyE

hanley has some great speed

CptPineapple
CptPineapple

Can you imagine how much fun the clubhouse will be when they realize that AJ is trending on twitter? It's gonna be madness.

Mike Petriello
Mike Petriello moderator

recaps for games like this are always tough. How do I even do this justice?

Frank J Lapidus
Frank J Lapidus

@Justincredible14 Yep! All is good...maybe tomorrow we do it again...and gain some ground this time

ThtsaPaddlin
ThtsaPaddlin

 @Cadtalfryn That's a bit of a strech, but I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt because it's #TwitSlam night.

JoeyE
JoeyE

 @JakeHorvitz can't wait til we go  back to San Francisco. they HATE Victorino like Dodger fans did because he started a fight last year. and they already hate hanley lol

ThtsaPaddlin
ThtsaPaddlin

 @JakeHorvitz I saw a clip of him colliding with an AZ first baseman on MLBN today.  It was brutal.

Deuce (is loose)
Deuce (is loose)

@JoeyE Don't. Cy Young like performances have followed us around.

Morry
Morry

@ED_IN_DE cubs fans should plunk every member of their team for having to sit through another worthless season