31 July 2007

Proctor for a Utility Infielder? Update -- Yes

by Joshua Worley

The Proctor for Betemit rumors are back with a vengeance. This trade idea that I found so ludicrous from the Dodger perspective seems on the verge of happening, if all the different websites talking about it are to be believed. I really thought the Dodgers would be smarter than this. We'll see. It happened, sooner than I thought. Jon Heyman of cnnsi.com is reporting the deal is done pending medical reviews.

Here's a round-up of the Betemit for Proctor rumors:

Jon Heyman, cnnsi.com

The Yankees and Dodgers are engaged in talks that may send reliever Scott Proctor back to the Dodgers for utility infielder Wilson Betemit.

Wilson Betemit may be used as if he was a utility infielder, but that doesn't make him one. Ramon Martinez is a utility infielder. Wilson Betemit is a starter who is blocked.

Ben Maller, foxsports.com

The deal the Yankees want is to send Scott Proctor to the Los Angeles Dodgers for the utilityman Wilson Betemit, a deal they discussed last July with Betemit's former team, the Braves. The thinking is that Proctor's arm may be vulnerable, considering how often he has pitched the last two seasons. A National League scout, who did not want to comment publicly on a potential deal not involving his club, said Betemit, a .263 career hitter, was nothing special. But the scout said the deal still made sense for the Yankees because Proctor seemed exhausted despite throwing hard. -- NY Times

Would the scout feel more comfortable commenting publically on a potential deal that involved his club? Wouldn't that actually be worse? The red flag on Proctor is raised here: that he's thrown in a lot of games over the past two years and has nothing left, which is why the Yankees consider him expendable. Again Betemit is called a utility infielder, and even worse he's "nothing special". While he may never quite put it all together as a hitter, his power certainly is special. His plate discipline, this year, has been special.

Jayson Stark, espn.com

The Dodgers need bullpen help like Lindsay Lohan needs a personal prison mug-shot artist. And Proctor looks like their best bet at this point. The Dodgers' second-half bullpen ERA has swelled to 5.61. What kind of sample size are we talking about here? Yeah, the bullpen is struggling lately, but this is over a period of a few weeks. And if you subtract closer Takashi Saito, setup man Jonathan Broxton and a cameo relief appearance by Derek Lowe, that figure explodes to 7.17. So after coming up short on Dotel, the Dodgers -- as first reported by our cohort, Buster Olney -- have turned their attention to the Yankees. Proctor has definitely shown signs of wear and tear from pitching more innings (156 2/3) than any relief pitcher in baseball since opening day 2006. But the Dodgers clearly think that with less abuse, he can get back to being the guy who was Joe Torre's most trusted setup man down the stretch last season. The Yankees, meanwhile, are set to call up one of their most highly regarded young dominators, Joba Chamberlain, to replace Proctor in the bullpen. And they'll get the multi-talented Wilson Betemit from the Dodgers to serve as first-base protection now and a potential third-base replacement for Alex Rodriguez next year.

I hate it when columnists make these cutesy pop-culture references. None of you are Bill Simmons. You don't know how to do it, and when you try it you look like idiots. But this is a big improvement from the other pieces, because Betemit has gone from being a utility infielder to being multi-talented. The red flag on Proctor being over-used by Torre is mentioned again, though not in so many words. ( Torre is never blamed. ) Most interesting to me is how the Yankees plan to replace Proctor, by calling up a hard throwing prospect. So why can't the Dodgers do the same thing and forget about Proctor? Bring up Jon Meloan, as a replacement for the Proctor plans.

Scott Christopher Proctor

year -- games -- IP -- SO -- BB -- HR -- ERA
2006 -- 83 -- 102.1 -- 89 -- 33 -- 12 -- 3.52
2007 -- 52 -- 54.1 -- 37 -- 29 -- 8 -- 3.81

The strikeouts per 9 innings is down from 7.83 to 6.13 this year. The walks are way up; the home runs have gone up as well. His fielding independent ERA, based on just his strikeouts, walks, and home runs allowed this year is 5.49. This is not a pitcher the Dodger need to trade for, especially if they give up a talent such as Betemit.

This is so maddening. The Yankees use up one of their pitchers and then seek to trade him at a point when his value is likely to be highest ( before his stats completely collapse because of over-use. ) At the same time the Dodgers drive down the value of one of their players by using him as if he was a utility infielder, even though he has power and plate discipline to spare. Buy high, sell low. Again. Or perhaps not. The deadline is four hours away. No news is good news.


Yes, again. Okay, now to spin this as positively as possible. The truth is the Dodgers didn't have a spot for Betemit. For worse or worse Nomar is the Dodger third baseman for the rest of this year. Betemit wasn't going to be more than a utility infielder with the Dodgers, even if his talent demanded he be far more. And the third baseman of the future is Andrew LaRoche, so there likely wouldn't have been room for Betemit in the future either. I think choosing LaRoche over Betemit is the right call. That said, Betemit could have been a backup plan for both second and third in case either Abreu or LaRoche didn't work out. I certainly wish the Dodgers could have gotten more for Betemit than a tired-armed reliever.

However, maybe Proctor's arm will be fine. Maybe he'll be great in the final two months with the Dodgers. He could be a fine addition to the Dodger bullpen for years to come, even. I'm not counting on it, though.

To me this is not as bad as trading LaRoche or Abreu for Dotel. In that sense Colletti picked the lesser of evils. I just wish Meloan had been given a shot first. Even though he was only being used as a utility infielder, I think the Dodgers will miss Betemit. I'll miss him.

No comments: