Dodgers get a Betemit for third

Wilson Betemit is an interesting player, a Dominican infielder with some sock in his bat (OPS of .841 in his second full season.) He gives the Dodgers another shortstop on the roster to go with Rafael Furcal, Cesar Izturis and Ramon Martinez, but Betemit will probably be the regular third baseman until Andy LaRoche arrives from the minors in the next season or two. He could then move to second base or slip into the utility role he filled for Atlanta. The Dodgers sent the Braves infielder Willy Aybar, another intriguing player who probably could not hold a major league job at 3B, and also got to shed Danys Baez, who proved in his 49 innings as a Dodger that they were overly optimistic to acquire him as a bullpen closer last winter. The move likely means Bill Mueller is done and pushes Cesar Izturis out of the lineup once he finishes filling in for Jeff Kent at second.

Here's a behind-the-scenes look at the trade on the official Dodgers blog, by PR director Josh Rawitch:

As you might imagine, yesterday was pretty hectic leading up to game time. The team knew that it wanted to activate Tomko (who looked pretty efficient out of the 'pen), but there was not a spot open. Ned, Kim, Roy and Bill LaJoie were literally on the phone with various clubs, including the Braves, up until about five minutes before first pitch.

I was standing in Ned's office as the deal was literally getting completed and as soon as it was, he had to hustle downstairs to let Grady know and to inform Danys and Willy about their new homes. Both guys took it in stride, though it was obviously tougher on Willy, who has known no other organization since he was 16 years old. They're both good guys who deserve good things down the road.

Once Ned and Grady had informed the players, Kim called me and told me I could announce it in the press box, which took place at about 7:37. The broadcasters got this just seconds before they went on the air and passed it along to all the fans. Ned made his way upstairs, where he met with the media to explain the move during the top of the first inning and then immediately headed back to his office to try and work some more magic.

I'm rarely in the clubhouse during a game, but had to head down there last night to say goodbye to those two guys and see if they would be willing to talk to the media before they left. Both guys obliged, which says a lot about them. I can't imagine being told that I have to pick up my life and move it to the other side of the country in the next 24 hours and then have to explain my feelings to the world. Sure, these guys make a lot of money, but they are human beings with families and lives that they go into utter disarray for this period of time.

Rawitch also reports on some roster maneuvering that is prompting speculation. James Loney was called up from Las Vegas, Betemit will be held off the roster until Sunday, and then another player has to go (if just to the disabled list.) Betemit, by the way, has another place in baseball lore. The Braves were sanctioned for signing him as a 14-year-old kid and telling baseball he was 16. His birthdate is still wrong in some baseball references, but apparently is really Nov. 2, 1981, making him 24 years old.

ESPN, L.A. Times,

July 29, 2006 9:58 AM • Native Intelligence • Email the editor

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