San Francisco Giants’ Minor Moves, and Los Angeles Dodgers May Regret Octavio Dotel Trade

As I’m sure you have heard by now, the Giants obtained right-handed reliever Ramon Ramirez from the Red Sox and left-handed reliever Javier Lopez from the Pirates.  I’m not particularly impressed with either pitcher, although Lopez does fill the Giants’ glaring need for another LHP. At least the trades didn’t cost the Giants much.

For Ramon Ramirez, the Giants gave up Dan Turpen, a big right-hander who turns 24 on August 17th and had been pitching in relief at AA Richmond.  Turpen hasn’t been on my radar at all this year, because he hasn’t pitched well enough to notice.

In 2009, Turpen had a terrific 1.20 ERA pitching almost the entire season at A+ San Jose, although his ratios, while good, weren’t nearly as impressive as his ERA.

This year, Turpen’s ratios suggest he has pitched better than his 4.09 ERA in relief, but not a lot better.

I have a hard time getting excited about a reliever with an ERA that high at Richmond, which is obviously a good place to pitch.  By way of comparison, the Flying Squirrels’ team ERA is currently 3.61.

Still, the Red Sox usually have a pretty good idea what they’re doing, and, most likely, they like Turpen’s age, size, and his fairly good strike out rates.

Ramon Ramirez turns 29 at the end of August.  He pitched well as a middle reliever for the Royals in 2008 and the Red Sox in 2009, but he has not pitched as well this year.  His ratios are better than his 4.46 ERA would lead you to believe, but allowing six dingers in 42.1 IP will obviously leave an impression on a pitcher’s ERA.

Ramirez may get a bounce returning to the National League and pitching his home games in a better pitchers’ park than Fenway.  The Giants will need to clear a roster space for Ramirez, however.

My guess is that whenever Ramirez arrives in SF, the Giants send down Denny Bautista.  Bautista still has an adequate 3.38 ERA for the season, but his ERA has been over 7.00 in his last ten appearances, and his lack of command (nine walks in 6.1 IP over those last ten appearances) has become a major concern.

That’s pretty much always been Denny Bautista’s problem: he has great stuff, but he cannot consistently throw strikes.

While Javier Lopez fills a pressing need, he’s no world-beater and hasn’t pitched as well as his 2.79 ERA as a Pirate suggests.  After tonight’s first appearance as a Giant, in which he got out the one left-handed hitter he faced (the reason the Giants got him), he has a line of 39 IP, 39 hits, two home runs and 18 walks allowed and 22 strike outs.

One thing to be said for Lopez is he doesn’t give up a lot of home runs (18 in 282.1 career IP).  However, he’s very hittable and pitches to contact.

The Giants had to give up more to get Lopez than Ramirez, but I don’t think either John Bowker or Joe Martinez, who are both now 27 years old, had any future in San Francisco.

I like Bowker’s chances better than Martinez’s going forward. Still, the Giants are competitive this year and expect to be competitive next year with their young starting rotation.

There is just no place on a contending Giants’ team run by GM Brian Sabean for a 4-A player like Bowker, who hasn’t established himself as a major league player after significant trials each of the last three seasons.

Bowker’s best bet is to go to a team like the Pirates (i.e., not a good one), and try to become the next Garrett Jones.

Pretty much the same for Joe Martinez.  He’s also a 4-A player at this point in his career, but he’s just not good enough to earn a regular spot on a team with pitching as good as the Giants.  In Pittsburgh, he’ll get more opportunity to prove he belongs on a major league roster, although I doubt Martinez will have more than one or two seasons as anything better than a replacement-level pitcher, if that.

Meanwhile, the Giants get the left-handed pitcher they needed as they sit positioned as the NL’s wild card leader (only 1.5 back of the West-leading Padres), and they didn’t give up anything they weren’t already determined to live without.  Given those parameters, it is a sensible move.

Now the Dodgers have been swept by the Giants in the three game series which ended at AT&T Park tonight, the Octavio Dotel trade looks terrible.  Dotel had pitched better in Pittsburgh as their closer than his 4.28 ERA suggests, and James McDonald doesn’t look nearly as promising as he did a year ago.

However, the Dodgers are now eight games back in the NL West and behind four other teams for the wild card.  It’s hard to see how Dotel can help them make up that much ground.

Also, the sleeper in this deal is minor league outfielder Andrew Lambo, who turns 22 on August 11th.  Lambo got hit with a 50-game suspension early this year for testing positive for a “drug of abuse” — actually, under MLB’s drug policy, it had to be Lambo’s second or third positive test for a 50-game suspension to issue.

The drug is suspected of being marijuana, because Lambo left the first high school he attended after getting caught smoking up on school grounds.  He’s back from the recent suspension and was playing fairly well at Chattanooga in the AA Southern League in the last two weeks before the trade.

The main reason I think the Dodgers may regret sending Lambo away is that he made it to AA ball last year at the tender age of 20, and he’s got alley power (56 extra base hits in 2008 and 51 at AA Chattanooga last year).  While his outfield defense is reportedly poor, he looks like what you look for in a future major league hitter.

Of course, Lambo will have to start making better choices about his recreational activities.

Explore posts in the same categories: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburg Pirates, San Francisco Giants

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