One of the signatures of the Philadephia Phillies’ former grip on the National League East is departing, according to Fox Sports. The network says Shane Victorino was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers Monday for relief pitcher Josh Lindblom and minor league pitcher Ethan Martin, whose name was raised earlier during conversations with the Chicago Cubs regarding Ryan Dempster.
The network quotes an unidentified source as saying the Dodgers for now are thinking, “Damn the money, make the club better,” as the Dodgers continue a push in the National League West. For Victorino it’s a sort-of homecoming: he was originally a Dodger draft (1999), but the Dodgers lost him twice in Rule 5 minor league drafts and he eventually haunted his first organisation in postseason play, helping beat them in 2008 and 2009—and triggering a bench-clearing when Hiroki Kuroda dusted him during the 2008 League Championship Series.
Victorino is a two-time All-Star with 40 runs batted in in 2012. He’s thought to have faded somewhat this season but he’s still only 31 and, according to the Los Angeles Times, the Dodgers think he still has plenty of upside left for them, if you listen to general manager Ned Colletti.
We’re excited to add an All-Star caliber player with postseason experience. He plays the game with passion, gives us a top of the order bat from both sides of the plate, can steal bases and is solid defensively in the outfield.
Victorino has 24 stolen bases and came off a 2011 in which he scored 95 runs and led the National League with 16 triples.
What did the Phillies get for him? Martin is a starter who’s considered just about major league ready but the Dodgers have a decent rotation behind Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley; Lindblom has established himself as a solid enough late-inning relief option with a 3.02 ERA thus far in 48 2012 games.
The Phillies were said to have been listening to offers for Victorino from the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates as well, both of which NL Central contenders were said to be as weak in the leadoff spot as the Dodgers. Sports Illustrated noted the Reds might have felt the Phillies’ return demand might have been too high. On the Phillies’ part, unloading Victorino and/or Hunter Pence could free up some salary space, bring in a prospect, and possibly get them back in the NL East hunts for 2013. (Of course, possibly moving Cliff Lee would do even more in that regard.)
The Reds are at the bottom of the Show in batting average from the leadoff spot (.203) and on-base percentage (.248). With Victorino gone, the Reds may set their sights instead on Juan Pierre (also with the Phillies) or Minnesota’s Denard Span, but they may not want to give up a pitcher to get Span. The Pirates, on the other hand, merely need help in the lineup, especially in the outfield where Andrew McCutchen now seems like a one-man show, since they fixed their biggest problem when they landed Wandy Rodriguez from the completely-rebuilding Houston Astros.
Speaking of Dempster, the Dodgers are still thought to be interested in landing the veteran righthander whose scoreless innings streak ramped his value to his personal all-time high. Dempster himself has vetoed a potential deal to the Atlanta Braves, who need to shore up their rotation for a final postseason push, and the issue seems to come down to just what the Dodgers will have to send the Cubs to get him.
The Cubs, for their part, need to move Dempster in favour of continuing a rebuilding effort that began when they brought in Theo Epstein to run the organisation. They’ve already moved veterans Geovanny Soto (C) and Paul Maholm (P) for some attractive prospects.
What makes Dempster so attractive other than his apparent career year this year? To those who dismiss him as a mere .500 pitcher, here says SI’s Jay Jaffe: “Dempster has been a guy who has averaged 200 innings a year while striking out 8.2 per nine, with an ERA 17 percent better than league average. That’s a solid 2-3 starter. He’s not going to maintain that 2.25 ERA, but he should still be a help to the Dodgers, and he’ll command a pretty penny this winter.”