Sherrill gives the Dodgers lefty depth 

July, 30, 2009
Left-handed reliever George Sherrill, acquired by the Dodgers from Baltimore on Thursday, works mostly as a fastball/slider guy and is death on left-handed hitters, who have a .356 OPS against him in 2009 and a .501 OPS against him for his career. He is more ordinary against right-handed hitters -- he's not a specialist, but his platoon split is significant enough that opposing managers are going to yank left-handed hitters for right-handed pinch hitters wherever possible.

He closed for a bad team in Baltimore but is more of an emergency closer on a contender because of the platoon split. If Hong-Chih Kuo is effective for the Dodgers after spending most of the year (and most of his life) on the disabled list, they'll have two good lefties in their bullpen, both of whom are better than specialists, and they'll be able to avoid overusing Kuo. If the Dodgers face the Phillies in the playoffs, two lefties in the 'pen won't be just a luxury.

The main return for Baltimore is third baseman Josh Bell, who alone is probably worth more in asset value than a good but sub-Joe Nathan, 60-inning-a-year reliever with two years of control left. Bell is a strong, athletic switch-hitter with ridiculous bat speed from the left side -- so much that his bat might be in and out of the zone too quickly. He has improving power that probably is above-average to plus in the future. He's a little rough at third but projects to stay at the position, and he has the athleticism to be above-average there with more work. His walk rate has improved this year even with the move up to Double-A, typically considered the toughest promotion for a player before he reaches the big leagues. His platoon split became more pronounced this year, so there's some chance he eventually ends up needing a right-handed caddy, but he's young, and getting him to keep his weight back when he hits right-handed could help matters.

The second player Baltimore acquired, right-hander Steve Johnson, has a solid to average fastball that will touch 92 with a fringe to average changeup and a below average to average breaking ball. But Johnson has a long arm action; he shows the ball to the center fielder, pronates his forearm and comes around with a "pie-thrower" action that really looks like it's costing him command. He's a local kid and the son of former Orioles pitcher and current Orioles broadcaster Dave Johnson, so there's some karmic value there, but he looks more like a good organizational pitcher than a prospect right now.

Keith Law

ESPN Senior Writer