by Keith Glab, BaseballEvolution.com
December 28, 2007
On July 30th of 2004, The Florida Marlins traded Brad Penny, Hee Seop Choi,
and Bill Murphy to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Juan Encarnacion, Paul Lo Duca,
and Guillermo Mota. The move was widely criticized in the baseball world.
"Why would the contending Dodgers give up the heart and soul of their team?"
critics asked, referring mostly to Lo Duca, but also to Mota.
Baseball Evolution wouldn't exist for another few months yet, but Scott,
Asher, and I were all unanimous in our condemnation of this popular sentiment.
We fell in love with Choi when he was with the Cubs and knew that Penny had
perhaps the best stuff in baseball. We also weren't sure whether
Encarnacion's career OBP was over .300 at the time, understood that Lo Duca had a
history of second half collapses, and figured that even though Mota was pitching
well, that bullpen success was often fleeting, and that the Dodgers still had a
pretty dandy bullpen without him. During one of our many marathon
all-you-can-eat sushi, all-you-can-talk baseball outings, we decided to
mockingly refer to Lo Duca and Mota only as "Heart" and "Soul" from then on.
In the short term, the truth lied somewhere between conventional
wisdom and Baseball Evolution analysis. The Dodgers by no means lost their
firm grasp of the NL West title because of this trade, but their winning
percentage fell from .588 pre-trade to .550 post-trade, and they lost to the
Cardinals in the opening round of the playoffs. Similarly, Encarnacion,
Heart, and Soul failed to propel the Fish to the promised land as experts
expected, but they did improve from a .505 winning percentage pre-trade to a
.525 mark afterwards.
Individual performances almost unanimously disappointed for the remainder of
that season, however. Choi, who had a 132 OPS+ with the Marlins, hit just
.161 in limited action with the Dodgers. Brad Penny suffered an injury in
his third start with the Dodgers and missed the remainder of the season.
Meanwhile in Florida, Encarnacion began walking at an astonishing rate (for
him), but sacrificed his already-modest power stroke in the process. Heart
experienced a 105 point dip in his OPS, which was right in line with his career
splits (yup, we might have simply named the
Alex Gonzalez of the
Marlins Award the Heart Award). Poor Soul saw his 2.14 Dodger
ERA go to hell after a 4.81 stint in Florida that included four blown saves in
Of course, it turns out that Mota had sold his soul to the devil, so we
shouldn't have been so surprised to see his ERA go where it did. He had
tested positive for a banned performance-enhancing substance at the end of 2006,
causing him to miss the first 50 games of the 2007 season. The Mets grew
so disenchanted with Mota that they traded him with a big bag o' cash to the
Brewers for catcher Johnny Estrada, whom they promptly non-tendered. This
Soul that the 2004 Dodgers supposedly couldn't do without had become so rotten
that the Mets had to pay another team to take him off their hands.
Then with this month's Mitchell report, we had a Heart attack. Paul
LoDuca's name was littered throughout the report. Not only did Lo Duca
allegedly order many shipments of HGH for himself, but he helped several
teammates - including Kevin Brown, Eric Gagne, and Matt Herges -
acquire the hormone, according to that report. From a transcript of Dodgers Baseball Operations
Department Meetings, dated Oct. 21-24, 2004, the report cites the following on the
Dodgers' desire to trade their Heart:
Steroids arenít being used anymore on him. Big part of this.
Might have some value to trade . . . Florida might have interest.
. . . Got off the steroids . . . Took away a lot of hard line drives.
. . . Can get comparable value back would consider trading. . . . If
you do trade him, will get back on the stuff and try to show you he can have a
good year. Thatís his makeup. Comes to play. Last
year of contract, playing for '05.
If true, this would certainly explain why Heart never seemed to play with as
much Heart in the second half of seasons; instead of pumping chemically enhanced
blood, he would often pump the normal junk. The Mitchell report does
indicate that Lo Duca made an order for more HGH in August of 2004, but the
benefits of that usage likely aren't as great during the season as during an
offseason workout regimen.
Give some credit to Juan Encarnacion here. While other players tried to
get more out of their bodies than nature intended, he was content to get less
out of his than his body frame and potential would suggest. Seriously,
though, Encarnacion had a career year with the Marlins in 2005. If the
Dodgers regret anything about that trade, it's that they didn't have Encarnacion
anchoring their injury-riddled joke of an outfield in 2005. If Lo Duca is
Heart and Mota is Soul, then perhaps Encarnacion is Body? Hmmm.
Better to lose your Heart and your Soul than your Body? That's not what we
want to teach the youngsters.
As for the Dodgers' future return on their investment, Hee Seop Choi played well
in a platoon role in 2005, then disappeared from the face of the Earth. As
for Brad Penny, he would have productive years in both the 2005 and 2006
campaigns before breaking out in 2007. He finished third in the NL Cy
Young voting by going 16-4 with a 3.03 ERA. Having signed an extension in
June of 2005, Penny looks like one of the best financial deals in baseball right
now. The Dodgers paid him $7.75 million last year, and will pay him under
$18 million over the next two seasons, assuming that the club indeed wishes to
exercise its 2009 option.
So the next time you hear a bunch of experts talk about a trade in
sentimental terms like Heart and Soul, go ahead and take that as a red flag.
These supposed experts may not know what in the heck they are talking about.
For that matter, go ahead and apply the same logic to the experts that are
dubbing Brandon Webb and Dan Haren the best pitching duo in baseball and the
Arizona Diamondbacks the favorites to represent the National League in the 2008
World Series. Paul Lo Duca is Heart, Guillermo Mota is Soul, and Dan Haren
could very well be this year's Heart and Soul all by himself. That would
not bode well for the defending 2007 NL West Champions.
Career Stats after June 30, 2004, courtesy of
Baseball Musings' Day-by-Day Database:
||K per 9
||BB per 9
||HR per 9
Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Keith resides in Chicago, Illinois and can be reached at email@example.com.