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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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5) discussing politics
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The Fortune Cookie
2008-06-25 08:58
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Howdy campers! Today, I'm interested in looking at whether the Dodgers' 2008 misfortune relates more to planning or misfortune.

Catcher
The plan: Rely on All-Star catcher Russell Martin for brilliant offense and defense. Replace the retiring Mike Lieberthal with Gary Bennett as a backup. Position Danny Ardoin as the third catcher in Las Vegas. Hope Martin can play the whole year.
Good plan? Good to have Martin, but the signing of offensively and defensively challenged Bennett was nonsensical.
The midseason reality: Little of significance has gone wrong with the Dodgers' easiest challenge. Martin has been strong offensively. His defense seems a bit off his 2007 standards, but overall there was certainly no need to fear a junior-year slump. He has caught 86 percent of the team's defensive innings this season, which hasn't been a problem thanks to numerous scheduled off days for the team and some improvised dalliances for Martin at third base, but the Dodgers will suffer if they can't replace his offense as it tapers. Bennett managed to undercut the lowest of expectations, but he played too little for it to matter. Just as it was wrong to expect much from Bennett, it would be wrong to overly fret over how bad he was. Ardoin, though a March villain for the fluke injury his throw brought to Andy LaRoche, at least appears capable defensively. It's early, but in 38 innings, he hasn't allowed a stolen base on his watch. So at least there's that.

Infield
The plan: Head into the season with James Loney, Jeff Kent, Rafael Furcal as starters at three positions. Stage a competition between LaRoche and Nomar Garciaparra for third base, with the loser either going to the bench or Las Vegas. Use Tony Abreu or Chin-Lung Hu as another backup infielder. Mark Sweeney would be a pinch-hitter. Face the inevitability that a Ramon Martinez-type might also factor in.
Good plan? Yes, if (as it appeared) the Dodgers were to give LaRoche a fair shot at winning. In theory, this should have been above average offense at at least three positions, with Kent as the weak link.
The midseason reality: Cynics might have expected LaRoche, Garciaparra and Abreu to be hurt, but certainly it was bad luck that it happened at the same time. Blake DeWitt's unexpectedly well-played first two months muted the damage, and now as he slumps, LaRoche is being given a chance. Furcal was sensational until his back went out, and the Dodgers got blindsided by the disappearance of Hu's bat. Everything that was expected to happen at third base in April happened at shortstop in May. At second base, Kent got off to a terrible start, which became more problematic when Furcal got DLed and Loney slumped, and even more so when Luis Maza replaced him in the lineup instead of forcing in Young, DeWitt or LaRoche - even if it meant sacrificing defense. But in June, Kent has rallied a bit, and Loney a lot. All in all, the infield has performed below all but the most cynical expectations for long stretches, but there can be hope for the second half of the season.

Outfield
The plan: Sign Andruw Jones for a power boost. Have Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Juan Pierre compete for the corner outfield spots. Use Delwyn Young as fifth outfielder/pinch-hitter.
Good plan? Yes, if you believed that Jones could improve on his 2007 performance, and if the Dodgers were willing to honestly look at Pierre's value. About the latter, they gave mixed signals.
The midseason reality: Fair to poor. Putting aside the debate over whether Colletti should have seen it coming, Jones has been a bust to date. His importance was such that giving him a lot of rope to work his way into form was the right idea if he were healthy, but failing to realize sooner that his knee was balky exacerbated the damage he was causing. If Jones musters a comeback on a rehabilitated knee this summer, it'll be a case of "Why didn't that happen sooner?" The Dodgers also used the Furcal injury as a perverse excuse to stop evaluating Pierre's performance relative to his fellow outfielders, on the theory that the Dodgers needed him to replace Furcal as leadoff hitter, even though he shares almost none of Furcal's skill set. Young, though no one would expect him to be the hitter he was in his 2007 debut, has been underused relative to Pierre and Sweeney until very recently. (That being said, playing Young over Pierre probably wouldn't make that much of a difference.) Kemp has disappointed from a power standpoint, but until a recent slump was one of the Dodgers' top hitters while holding down the fort in center field. Ethier has been about what you'd expect. The collective outfield performance should improve in the second half, but there still may be some rough patches ahead.

Starting pitching
The plan: Brad Penny, Derek Lowe, Hiroki Kuroda and Chad Billingsley in the first four spots, with Esteban Loaiza holding down No. 5 while Jason Schmidt rehabilitated and minor leaguers Clayton Kershaw and James McDonald matured.
Good plan? I don't see why not. Getting a higher quality pitcher like Johan Santana would have been too costly.
The midseason reality: Starting pitching as a whole hasn't been a problem - not that there haven't been issues. An April rain delay caused Joe Torre to mess with Billingsley's schedule, but it also helped unveil the new, improved Hong-Chih Kuo. And Billingsley continues to mature. A mediocre Loaiza was cut with almost surprising eagerness. Lowe had his usual recovery from a bad month. Kuroda has had mostly good moments, but is going through some arm issues. Penny has had mostly bad moments, and is going through some arm issues. This group hasn't been able to throw the kind of eight-inning, one-run games the depleted offense needs them to - they suffer, for example, in comparison to the Angel starting pitching this season - but they're solid. Even the young Kershaw.

Bullpen
The plan: Bring back Takashi Saito, Jonathan Broxton, Joe Beimel, Scott Proctor. Mix in two or three other low-cost guys to fill the back end.
Good plan? Pretty much. Perhaps it relied too much on faith in Saito, Beimel and Proctor to maintain good form, but it's as good a plan as any. Very little wasted energy in putting together this group.
The midseason reality: Better than expected. Saito and Broxton have had some costly moments, but together, they have combined for 81 strikeouts against 82 baserunners in 63 1/3 innings. In case it's not clear, that's good. Beimel and Kuo are having their best years yet (though Kuo went through a period of severe underuse), and Chan Ho Park and Cory Wade have been hugely pleasant surprises that mostly compensate for the ineffectiveness of Proctor and Yhency Brazoban. But how long can it last?

Manager, coaches, training staff
The plan: Bring in Joe Torre to help reunite the clubhouse and provide the experience of a World Series champ. Try to get the rest not to screw things up.
Good plan? Other than the money spent, it was a much less significant plan than most people would think. Because it's been proven time and again that winning is the most important contributor to chemistry, Torre's mixology skills weren't going to matter if the team didn't perform on the field. And that's mostly the players' responsibility, except to the extent that Torre's lineups influence things. As for that, based on his track record, it wasn't clear that Torre would really know what to do with the roster he was given. It was especially disconcerting that he was as casual - as procrastinatory, if you will - about getting to know his team this winter as Jones was about his offsason workouts. It wasn't likely that Torre was going to cause any more harm than the average manager, but it was dubious from the start whether he'd do any more good than a fresher and less expensive leader. Now, to the extent that his famed presence might take pressure off the players, he could have value. But was that really going to happen in this climate, or was it inevitable that the media would let him skate for any failings the players showed? The "try to get the rest not to screw things up" was a great plan, though.
The midseason reality: Unless you believe this Dodger team is playing above its head at 35-41, it's hard to find much to celebrate in Torre's work. Some welcome outside-the-box moments, like the sparing use of Martin at third base, have been countered by other more conventional and sometimes inane choices. He's had the right philosophy of trying to get his hitters to force a lot of pitches - yet continues to blame the kids publicly for not implementing the approach, even though the Dodgers' top four players in pitches per late appearance are all more than a decade younger than Jeff Kent, who is last among the regulars.

Pitches per plate appearance, 2008
4.13 Ethier
4.06 Martin
3.90 Loney
3.86 DeWitt
3.79 Pierre
3.68 Kemp
3.37 Kent

The training staff actually has shown some improvement in aggressive treatment of injuries, but given that it's their job to monitor players, it still seems too many health problems go unaddressed for too long. They cannot expect players to come to them every time they are hurt. They have to play Sherlock Holmes.

Summary
Most of the planning for 2008 was solid. Well, let me qualify that. The front office made some bad bets in previous years that added dead weight to the roster. However, thanks to good drafting and the occasional useful pickup, the Dodgers were still well-positioned to take a step forward this season. The three most damaging events this year were Furcal's injury (accompanied by Hu's lack of readiness), Jones' injury/ineffectiveness, and the lack of power from the younger players. Except perhaps in the case of Jones, those are just unfortunate events, things that could have gone right but that the fates chose not to.

And here's some news: As bad as he was, Jones couldn't bring this team down while he was playing. The Dodgers lost only 14 the 35 games he started in center field this season, including only three of the final 15. That's right: The Dodgers are 21-14 with Jones starting in center, 14-27 without him. Sure, it's largely coincidental, but unless Jones' presence prevented the team from acquiring someone better, he hasn't caused much damage to the Dodgers' record to date.

As the pressure mounts on this team, the challenge for the collective front office is to grasp where the true strengths and weaknesses are. Dodger management must continue to show the patience that it preaches. And looking further ahead, the Dodgers have to minimize their poor acquisitions. Not every bad move is a product of hindsight. Some were bad gambles from the start.

Making young players the core of the team and filling the gaps with veterans was the right idea. But the execution of that idea has had some hits, some misses and some misfortune. For the long-term health of the franchise, it's critical for the Dodgers to recognize what goes in each of those three categories.

Comments (202)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2008-06-25 09:21:06
1.   Bob Timmermann
The key is to sign both Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau.
2008-06-25 09:23:01
2.   scareduck
And here's some news: As bad as he was, Jones couldn't bring this team down while he was playing. The Dodgers lost only 14 the 35 games he started in center field this season, including only three of the final 15. That's right: The Dodgers are 21-14 with Jones starting in center, 14-27 without him. Sure, it's largely coincidental, but unless Jones' presence prevented the team from acquiring someone better, he hasn't caused much damage to the Dodgers' record to date.

Jones represented one and only one good thing for the Dodgers: the acknowledgment that the team had made a mistake with Juan Pierre. But they compounded that mistake by pushing Pierre to left and reducing Kemp and Ethier's playing time; when Jones turned into a bust (and later was injured), the kids slumped, too, making for an unfortunate series of events. Frankly, the kids should be getting the AB's unless there's some compelling reason to believe they're not as good as advertised.

2008-06-25 09:26:20
3.   Bumsrap
Torre says hitters have to make the pitchers work.

Colletti signs Jones and Pierre.

2008-06-25 09:26:52
4.   GoBears
Great new post. But I can't help repeating myself, having been all LAT'd and stuff:

404. I disagree. First of all, the Yankees' success was not necessarily the result of their approach to hitting. It could just have been vastly superior talent. You wear a pitcher out by getting a lot of hits against him too.

Second, Kent made a clearer point than Jackson is making. The problem isn't (necessarily) that young guys can't wait for their pitch. The problem is that they are getting contradictory advice (take pitches vs. swing at good pitches). As Kent said, if a pitcher throws first-pitch strikes right down the middle, that might be the best pitch you'll see, and swinging early is the same thing as swinging at a good pitch to hit.

If youth (read, inexperience) matters, I'd guess it matters in two ways. First, their pitch-recognition skills are not that well developed. This seems clearest with Kemp. It doesn't matter how patient you are - if you can't tell a strike from a ball, you're in trouble. Second, maybe (this is just speculation) young guys see strikes early, whereas vets with proven success see more nibbling.

How often does A-Rod look at 2 strikes? Rarely, I bet. I bet he swings at early strikes or else starts counts 2-0.

The confusion, as I see it, is that Jackson and others (maybe even some of the coaches and players) equate "patience" with "taking pitches, whether they're hittable or not."
Sure, any kind of pitch-taking will help to wear out the opposing pitcher (pitches is pitches for him), but if those pitches are called strikes, you're not going to have a lot of success against him starting every count 0-2.

2008-06-25 09:27:58
5.   regfairfield
3 Jones does walk a decent amount.
2008-06-25 09:30:11
6.   Jon Weisman
4 - I agree.
2008-06-25 09:33:05
7.   Bumsrap
5 - To be fair, Jones walks more than Pierre because he more often doesn't make contact swinging at pitches that Pierre puts into play.
2008-06-25 09:33:11
8.   underdog
Great Jon! That's just great. Now that you've basically said it all, what're we gonna talk about here? ;-) No, seriously, that says it all above.
----

re: the topic of working the pitch count, I think Torre's philosophy in general is the right one, but it's not a problem of age vs. youth as far as how it works or doesn't, it's more that it should be adaptable for certain players. There are two players who I don't think should have to abide by that approach; one of them, Kent, never has, and has had a pretty good career, the other, Kemp, is much better when he is allowed to hit the first pitch if it's what he's looking for. We've seen how much more erratic he looks when he's taking pitches. Other players may get resentful, "Why don't they have to do it, tooooo?" (whine) but I think it should be adaptable. Kemp needs to scrap it basically.

2008-06-25 09:33:39
9.   underdog
Or, what Go Bears said.
2008-06-25 09:34:50
10.   jasonungar07
.211/.278/.307/.585 Kent with runners on base.

.246/.301 /.268 /.569 Pierre with bases empty

Joe talks roles and situations all the time. If there is anything these two should be leauge avg at is in the main roles they are suppossed to be providing to the team

So when Joe and Ned talk about the kids, although they may be right it holds no weight with me. It's all PR. It should be about the whole team

2008-06-25 09:35:02
11.   Greg Brock
4 To continue from last thread, my kids read The Jungle over winter break. Right when we get into Progressivism.
2008-06-25 09:35:18
12.   Prescott Pete
There's been so much talk in the media about Torre's patience approach that I'm sure scouts are telling their pitchers to throw strikes early and often to Dodgers hitters.
2008-06-25 09:35:48
13.   schoffle
0

I am not sure that I understand how having our centerfield OPSing .540 for the first two months of the season did not bring the team down, are you saying that by have a decent hitting centerfield over that time that our record would not have been better? If that is indeed what you are suggesting then I strongly disagree.

2

So they acknowledged that they made a mistake with Pierre (in centerfield) and instead decided to make a bigger mistake with Pierre in leftfield. This does seem to represent anything good to me.

2008-06-25 09:37:04
14.   Ghost of Carlos Perez
I think it is refreshing that Joe Torre recognizes his own need for patience, as indicated by the quote from the PE blog:

"My patience has to be as patient as I need to be."

2008-06-25 09:40:03
15.   Bumsrap
14 - Reminds me of the joke where two hungry buzzards are sitting in a tree and one says to the other, Patience my *ss, lets go kill something.
2008-06-25 09:42:11
16.   Ken Noe
When I was in college I had a summer job working construction. We were behind schedule. My friend and I came up with a way to produce tied rebar twice as fast as we were doing it before, but it required sitting on the ground. Our boss promptly forbade us to do it because it involved "sitting down on the job." I learned a lesson: in the "real world" appearances sometimes count more than results.

The Dodgers seem no different. While no one has been a world-beater, the results are clear, Loney is out-performing Kent and Pierre in all offensive categories except SBs, while Kemp and Ethier are in most all categories. Yet Pierre and Kent are praised for their "approach," while Sweeney continues to pinch hit because, according to Torre, he keeps himself in shape and has a nice swing. I certainly don't blame the vets alone for the season, it truly has been a team effort. And I like working counts; the basic theory is correct. But thirty years after working that construction job, I still think results to count more for than how something looks.

2008-06-25 09:45:13
17.   underdog
Based on our discussion last night about books, here are some of the great novels that have been written about the Dodgers:

"Tender is the Shoulder" - F Scott Fitzgerald

"The Catcher is the Guy" - Salinger and
"The Golden God" - Henry James, tied

"An American Tragedy" - Dreiser

"A Portrait of the Lineup as Young Men" - Joyce

"Lord of the Fly Outs" - Golding

"Something Wacky This Way Comes" - Bradbury

"Sometimes a Great Notion..." - Kesey

"In Search of Lost Time" - Proust

"One Hundred Games of Solitude" - Marquez

"The Black and the Blue" - Stendahl

"Bleak House" - Dickens

"Les Miserables" - Hugo

2008-06-25 09:46:48
18.   ToyCannon
Excellent breakdown.
While the big name injuries to Furcal, Jones, and LaRoche undermined the plan, the little injury to Abreu really screwed the plan. If he had stayed healthy he would have been an excellent option at SS instead of Berroa and allowed Kent to rest much more often when Furcal was healthy.

Picking up Berroa displays the weakness of Ned's in-season adjustment to problems. We replaced the worse SS in baseball with the worse SS in baseball.

2008-06-25 09:47:16
19.   Jon Weisman
13 - The Dodgers went 21-14 with Jones in center. Given the alternatives available, how many more games could they have won? Sure, they'd be better, but it's not like they'd have gone 35-0. The Dodgers, for the most part, overcame the Jones problem while he played.
2008-06-25 09:53:10
20.   ToyCannon
Preston Mattingly is in the midst of an 0/25 streak.

The Odgen Raptors are 0-8.

2008-06-25 09:53:56
21.   Bumsrap
But the more Jones played the more the team seemed to change and by the time he was out, the Dodgers were a mess.
2008-06-25 09:58:57
22.   Johnny Nucleo
0 I think this is a pretty fair-minded assessment of the 2008 Dodgers and their front office. I really can't find much to quibble with in your post.
2008-06-25 10:02:41
23.   Jon Weisman
21 - "But the more Jones played the more the team seemed to change."

What do you mean?

2008-06-25 10:04:43
24.   fanerman
0 The only thing I'd really add is that the Dodgers record with Jones in the line-up probably has more to do with Furcal also being in the line-up than it does with Jones.
2008-06-25 10:05:51
25.   fanerman
24 Well, yeah, that was kind of covered, too. Okay. Nevermind.
2008-06-25 10:13:05
26.   GMac In The 909
This is where I blame Pierre, right?

Moving on, I really enjoyed Slimers' piece on NedCo's wheeling and dealing. Hopefully the heat continues to be turned up.

"Most fans probably have you pegged as a GM who hasn't done a very good job of bringing in talent," I suggest, and he disagrees.
"I don't know if that's fact or fiction," he says. "That's your opinion."

http://tinyurl.com/5flyku

2008-06-25 10:14:04
27.   KG16
But the execution of that idea has had some hits, some misses and some misfortune.

One can only hope that the front office recognizes that this happens any time you execute an idea and that it's not always the result of a bad idea.

Who was it that said a battle plan never survives the first engagement?

I also wonder if there was a little bit too much hope that this team was set to break through, especially after watching what the Rockies and Snakes did last year. And if some thought those two teams would regress rather than improve.

2008-06-25 10:16:14
28.   regfairfield
26 Yeah, I really didn't like Ned throwing Watson/White under the bus there, even though I had no idea what moves he could have been referring to.
2008-06-25 10:18:29
29.   Frip
I was wondering what you all think of the Fox broadcasting team of Matt Vasgersian and Eric Karros?

I'm ok with Vasgersian, but Karros is grating, a very unpleasant and inharmonious presence. I could do without his combative voice bouncing around my living room on otherwise peaceful Sunday afternoons. No matter how trivial the subject that comes up, he feels the need to take either a hard-pro or hard-con stance on it. Take a pill dude.

His partner will make a light, go-with-the-flow type comment, and this Karros pyranha gets all Judge Judy on him.

Maybe I'm biased, as he's one of these conversational type-A's that I can't bleeding stand.

Plus he shares with John Madden the maddening habit of starting sentences with the wholy unnecessary phrase, "as I was saying earlier." Just talk man. We know you're going to touch on themes you mentioned before, it's called conversation.

He does offer more strategy talk than your average announcer though, which is good.

2008-06-25 10:18:42
30.   El Lay Dave
Jon, well-reasoned, well-presented, and spot-on analysis.

"[Torre's] had the right philosophy of trying to get his hitters to force a lot of pitches - yet continues to blame the kids publicly for not implementing the approach,..."

I have seen some comments recently where Torre indicates that he still needs to figure out how to present his message, but it would sure go a long way (with me at least) if he would step up and publicly take some blame for the current W-L record. It can be couched speculatively and doesn't even have to be completely true, but doesn't a good manager try to take pressure off those he manages in attempt to allow them to perform? How about, "these young players have had to deal with two different major-league coaching staffs in two or three seasons and the transition cost probably doesn't help in their development process, yada, yada, yada"?

Or take a look at a Colletti quote from the Simers column that Jon linked:

" "Some of those are minor league deals and I had nothing to do with them," Colletti protests when I mention his trading track record, and while I find it odd the Dodgers' GM doesn't have final approval of all deals, he adds, "The player development people made five or six of those." "

Again, I would like to see Ned and the front office publicly accept responsibility and stop deflecting. Isn't Colletti better off simply replying with something like "our front office (whether it was him directly or his staff) is responsible for all the player transactions, some work, some don't, and we'll take the credit and blame accordingly. We try to learn from the ones that don't work, but the most important thing is to field the best team we can, etc. etc." (BTW, is this more fuel for the front office factions fire?)

How about the veterans stepping up and acknowledging their own underperformance? Has Jeff Kent been quoted saying that he realizes he's been slumping and that that can place additional burdens on the offense, but that he is continually working hard to perform? Wouldn't that be leadership? Or is he only quoted on how the kids are still learning to hit and approach batting?

OK, sorry if that comes off whiny or if I'm totally off-base, but I sure feel like there's a lot of finger-pointing with the Dodgers these days and less taking responsibility.

2008-06-25 10:18:55
31.   underdog
I still hold out hope we'll be writing about some more positive developments with this team in a month or two. We'll see...
2008-06-25 10:19:18
32.   silverwidow
LHP James Adkins isn't pitching well in the High-A Cal League.
2008-06-25 10:19:29
33.   GMac In The 909
28 Is it common practice for GMs to allow moves without their rubber stamp? I mean, is NedCo really trying to sell the idea that transactions went down without his consent? I find that very hard to believe.

The PR Machine™ is in full spin mode.

2008-06-25 10:19:48
34.   Jon Weisman
Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness analyzes the Simers column:

http://mikesciosciastragicillness.com/2008/06/25/prizefight-simers-vs-colletti/

2008-06-25 10:21:00
35.   El Lay Dave
26 Jon links to that with the underlined phrase "made some bad bets in previous years".
2008-06-25 10:21:19
36.   scareduck
4 - How often does A-Rod look at 2 strikes? Rarely, I bet. I bet he swings at early strikes or else starts counts 2-0.

Easy enough to check on B-Ref:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/pi/bsplit.cgi?n1=rodrial01&year=2008

119 plate appearances in which he gets to a two-strike count, nearly half of his 244 plate appearances for the season. Over his career, that's 4,237 of 8,726, roughly in line with his career numbers.

2008-06-25 10:21:40
37.   Bumsrap
23 - When a very good veteran joins a team and carries a team, puts them on their back, everybody plays better. The team plays more relaxed and confidently. But when a proven veteran joins a new team out of shape and stinks the place up, the team plays tight and no-one really knows their roles.

Jones was not just bad, he was real bad. His back foot sliding back with every swing and most swings missing the ball by a foot. Yet, Jones was in the lineup while the younger players were hearing all this stuff about patience and having a plan and situational hitting.

Anybody that has ever played or coached a team knows that one great player can make all the other players better and one player that is really bad but continues to get prime playing time, makes the team worse. And the more the latter happens, the worse the team gets.

2008-06-25 10:23:36
38.   underdog
Oh and that may be the first time I've ever appreciated TJ Simers! Either the earth is going to now split open or it's a one-time deal, but...

Still has some of that Simers' smugness that bugs me, but it's a very useful column. I mean, Colletti did make one good point in his own defense, that he's made a few good moves (clearly not enough) and hindsight is easier and yadda yadda, but he does come off as defensive and wrong-headed.

2008-06-25 10:28:08
39.   underdog
34 Totally spot-on, tragicillness! That's it, that's exactly how I felt reading it -- I detest both these guys, and they're both often wrong, but... Anyway, good and fair breakdown, I thought.
2008-06-25 10:32:44
40.   Jon Weisman
37 - "Anybody that has ever played or coached a team knows that one great player can make all the other players better and one player that is really bad but continues to get prime playing time, makes the team worse."

I wouldn't buy that as a rule in general - but the Jones example in particular argues against it. The Dodgers won 12 of his last 15 starts in center. The worse it got with Jones, the better the team performed. And it's a pretty huge stretch to say that it's Jones' fault the team wasn't winning when he wasn't playing.

Good players make a team better because they're good players, not because they're gnomes that the rest of the team can rub metaphorically.

2008-06-25 10:36:48
41.   JoeyP
So was Ned blaming White/Watson for dumping Navarro, Ruggiano, Guzman, Denker, Jackson?

Getting back to the patience dicussion around the Dodgers young players:

It doesnt surprise me that these guys dont have the best patience yet (excluding Martin--he's excellent)--> because the Dodgers have really emphasized making contact (not striking out), over patience and power at the minor league level. I think this had changed temporarily when DePo took over (judging by the players he drafted/acquired), but now its back to the way it always has been. The Dodgers just dont emphasize plate discipline at the minor leagues---probably resulting in players being afraid to strike out so they swing early in the count.

Loney, DeWitt, Kemp, Abreu, Hu---> never been guys that drew many walks--> but still were promoted.

Ruggiano, Denker, DeJesus, Martin, LaRoche---> How much did the Dodgers really value 4 of these 5? They like Martin---> but did White like the others?

2008-06-25 10:36:54
42.   scareduck
13 - yes, I'm aware that Pierre in left = loss. I wanted to ac-cent-u-ate the positive, which is admittedly tiny.

19 - I guess I don't care about winning right now so much as I do seeing the kids get at-bats and figuring things out. I expect rough patches, as the Dodgers are going through right now.

Chuck Jones, in his wonderful autobiography Chuck Amuck, tells the story of how his drawing instructor at Chouinard (now CalArts) told his class that they all had 100,000 bad drawings in them, and it was in his pupils' best interests to get them out of their systems as soon as possible. Jones said he figured that was a good thing, because he had already produced something like 30,000 bad drawings. The same sort of thing applies to young players. It's frustrating to see the Dodgers lose, but I'd rather seem them do that and learn instead of pretending by getting veterans of dubious utility who thereby slow down this process.

2008-06-25 10:44:02
43.   bhsportsguy
Kim Ng made the deal for Anderson on her own and Ned has acknowledged thatin the press at that time.

I believe that those early deals involving young talent certainly came from recommedations made by his staff not from Ned drawing names from a hat as he certainly did not see much or any of their games.

Now, ultimately it is his job so I don't think he should phrase it that way but I am absolutely sure that Ng, Terry Collins, and Logan White all had say sos in those deals involving Jackson, Navarro and the like.

How has one player adapted to Jones being gone, well here are two stat lines, each representing over 100 PA:

.276/.327/.410/.737
.311 .336/.509/.845

The first line represents Matt Kemp's stats as a CF, the second as a RF. Now some of those CF stats are from games when Jones was still on the team but I am just put them out there.

2008-06-25 10:48:07
44.   Jon Weisman
42 - I don't disagree. But except for Pierre and Kent, it's happening. Nagging included, of course.
2008-06-25 10:50:35
45.   Bumsrap
40 - Good argument but I stand by what I said regarding Jones having a negative influence on the Dodgers. Maybe the sub-.500 winning percentage is as simple as the team not having a great clean-up hitter protected by a consistent and clutch #5 hitter. Giving Jones as many PAs as Torre gave him gets in the minds of younger players like a little league coach who always lets his son pitch even though his son can't throw strikes gets into the minds of the little league team.
2008-06-25 10:51:37
46.   JoeyP
Should playing CF really affect Matt Kemp's hitting?

Looks to me like he somehow hit a few more homers while playing RF than CF.

Does it really state anything?

2008-06-25 10:52:34
47.   GoBears
36. scareduck
4 - How often does A-Rod look at 2 strikes? Rarely, I bet. I bet he swings at early strikes or else starts counts 2-0.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/pi/bsplit.cgi?n1=rodrial01&year=2008

119 plate appearances in which he gets to a two-strike count, nearly half of his 244 plate appearances for the season. Over his career, that's 4,237 of 8,726, roughly in line with his career numbers.

Thanks scareduck, but that's not what I meant. That's the number of PAs in which he gets to two strikes at some point (includes 0-2, 1-2, 2-2, or 3-2). And it doesn't distinguish strikes looking and strikes swinging. My hypothesis was that it's rare for someone like A-Rod to get to an 0-2 count without swinging at either pitch. Because I'm pretty sure that 0-2 from two misses or foul balls would still strike some as "impatience" whereas 0-2 from two called strikes would be called either "patience" (if a PVL) or "poor strike zone judgment" (if younger than 26). Or bad umpiring.

2008-06-25 10:52:58
48.   GMac In The 909
46 Does it really state anything?

That the right field battle is heating up!

2008-06-25 10:53:17
49.   LoneStar7
0 very well said

"Not every bad move is a product of hindsight. Some were bad gambles from the start.
Making young players the core of the team and filling the gaps with veterans was the right idea. But the execution of that idea has had some hits, some misses and some misfortune."

While there is some blame to be put upon the front office for some of its decisions, and possible lapses in judgment when analyzing the risk/reward factor in certain players, I was excited about the team that had been put together at the beginning of the season, and thought we would be serious contenders..

while this echoes what many have already said, the unfortunate injuries have really been tough for this team, but I still hold out hope that we can win this division.

2008-06-25 10:53:56
50.   LogikReader
41

Now, whose fault is that? "Not Striking Out" is SO overrated.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2008-06-25 10:55:34
51.   bhsportsguy
46 Actually he's hit more homers playing CF than RF. Perhaps when Jones around, even though he wasn't hitting it did relieve some of the pressure plus playing RF is easier for him than playing CF.

Again, all I am doing is putting out the numbers, if you are going to use numbers to illustrate points you agree with than you should be able to use them to indicate that there might be something else going on.

Of course, maybe numbers don't mean anything, evaluation should be based solely on observation.

2008-06-25 10:57:08
52.   Jon Weisman
45 - Certainly, the Dodgers' lack of power in the middle of the lineup has hurt them. That's a separate argument from the one you've been making.

The argument that giving Jones 133 at-bats poisoned the younger players - I just can't even fathom it. Jones hurt the team because he wasn't hitting. It wasn't because other players looked at him and said, "If he can be bad, then why can't I?"

It's certainly your right to believe that, but it's not convincing.

2008-06-25 11:01:12
53.   bryanf
Great, great post Jon. You always have a way of bringing levelheadedness to my emotional downfalls after long losing streaks. :)

Some of your best points, I think, are about Torre, and I wonder why he still continues to mostly get a free pass from pretty much the entire world outside of DT. Colletti is no saint, but Torre is about as average a manager as I've seen so far this year.

2008-06-25 11:01:44
54.   ToyCannon
That is very sad that Ned won't stand behind all the deals made on his watch, good or bad.

If Kent and Pierre have had the best approach to hitting I shudder to think how bad they would be doing if they took approaches like Loney. Evidently Joe is more interested in the approach then in the result.

2008-06-25 11:02:49
55.   Jon Weisman
It was a Jim Tracy characteristic to take credit for the good things and pass along blame for the bad things.
2008-06-25 11:03:31
56.   dzzrtRatt
42 I guess I don't care about winning right now so much as I do seeing the kids get at-bats and figuring things out.

I agree. This season is turning out exactly as I'd hoped. My fingers are crossed that Ned won't mess up a very good thing. I don't care if they're one game out on July 30th, don't trade for that veteran bopper, Ned, unless it's straight across for Juan Pierre.

What this whole, Zen-like take-pitches-but-swing-at-your-pitch discussion reminds me of is the Wes Parker interview on KABC about six weeks ago. In some ways he sounded like an old veteran fart, opining that the problem is, the team isn't hitting in the clutch. But asked why, he said it's because the young players don't yet know what the pitchers will do in these situations because they haven't seen them enough. That's where veteranyness is an inarguable advantage.

But it's not available to the Dodgers at a price we can afford. We don't have anybody who's really good, healthy, and in their prime right now. Kent might have superior pitch expectation and recognition skills, but he's too old now to take complete advantage of them. Furcal obviously does, but it's not doing us any good at the moment. Jones, who knows? Our only choice is to wait it out, let the young guys build up their experience a pitch at a time, and hope they stay healthy and Ned doesn't panic, so they can all peak together in a year or three.

2008-06-25 11:04:44
57.   bryanf
55 Is it a Jim Tracy characteristic to take credit for the good things and pass along blame for the bad things? Yes.
2008-06-25 11:05:03
58.   sporky
42 I'm about to compare the Dodger hitting/offense to bacterial growth, but the log phase shall soon follow this lag phase!
2008-06-25 11:06:44
59.   underdog
I think the most important and overlooked point was made earlier, which is Jones being in the line-up occurred when Furcal was also in the line-up. Having both of them meant that Pierre was rarely starting, and never batting lead-off. Having a more productive lead-off hitter may have had more of an affect than Jones being in or out of the line-up. But I pine for the both of them for that reason and for the glimmer of hope that when Jones returns he may also be closer to the productivity we'd hoped for, rather than the useless at bats he gave us earlier. Either way, Furcal's absence is still the bigger story to me for the domino effect it had up and down the lineup. Furcal + Jones > Pierre + Berroa.

Or as Bill Paxton once said, "Game over man."

2008-06-25 11:15:39
60.   bhsportsguy
I'll add this to the debate. Speaking for me and not as someone trying to decipher smoke signals from Chavez Ravine, I was not pleased at all by the comments I have heard both on the radio on Sunday by Ned Colletti or in print in today's column by Simers.

Now I tend to take Simers with a ton of salt because he would easily lay into the players too, it just right now, Ned is a targert du jor.

My first problem is Ned's comments about how players are adjusting to the coaching staff's instruction. If Mike Easler, Larry Bowa or Joe Torre want to fill up a column with their critiques, fine, that's their jobs and the players are being paid so they should be able to take criticism public or private. But I don't think it is something for the GM to talk about since I don't believe it is his hitting philosophy or his organizational philosophy that is being taught here.

Two, between Simers' shots about the player acquisitions, I have stated positions on most of those and I won't go into them now but Ned should just stand up, tell Simers that he felt those were the moves he felt would improve the club and regardless on whose recommendations he listened to and considered when making these deals, the good, the bad and the ugly falls to him. If he does that, hey, that is all I ask for.

And three, certainly no one points out more than me, the fact that the organization has held on the majority of their prospects over the last 2 1/2 years, what I don't need to hear now is someone telling me that he is willing to live out some sort of Shakespere tragedy for the betterment of the club.

2008-06-25 11:16:29
61.   Ken Noe
42 56 59 I love that Parker quote and I generally agree with him and all of you. While I still think we can make a run on the Snakes with Furcal, I'm perfectly happy if necessary to write this off as a rebuilding year (or a "building" year as someone wrote) and shoot for a better 2009, especially since there are increasing signs that Ned will stand pat with the core. In some ways my favorite LA team remains the 1973 group--they finished second but the future was clear.
2008-06-25 11:21:44
62.   JoeyP
Again, all I am doing is putting out the numbers

Right, but you are not stating why you think there is a descrepancy in the numbers.

Are you suggesting that Kemp hits better with Druw in the lineup, Kemp hits better playing in RF rather than CF, or is it as simple scheduling---meaning the Dodgers have faced better pitching since Druw has been out of the lineup as opposed to being in the lineup?

2008-06-25 11:22:20
63.   jujibee
I was behind the Jones signing, especially because it got Pierre out of CF, and sometimes on the bench. Whether or not Jones' contributions, or lack thereof, while he played had any bearing, good or bad, on the record is irrelevant. Most of the games that Jones was a part of, we also had a guy named Furcal tearing the cover off of the ball. I forget the exact day, but Furcal, as of a week or two ago was still leading the team in runs scored. That is amazing to me.

Furcal 34 runs in 134 AB over 32 games
Pierre 29 runs in 254 AB over 68 games

While I remain nuetral on whether Jones hurt the team more than he helped the team, I can say without a doubt that having Furcal/Jones in there over Pierre/Berroa-Maza-Hu is the significant impact of the slumping Dodgers. And, as I mentioned earlier, Jones, for the most part, was playing while Furcal was, and that is the point to be made for what the record is when Jones has started.

2008-06-25 11:22:51
64.   Jacob L
59 Furcal + just about anybody > Pierre + Berroa.
2008-06-25 11:25:08
65.   bhsportsguy
62 I have no idea why there is a difference, like I said, maybe he is relaxed knowing that he is starting all the time, maybe playing CF is more taxing physically, I don't know, all I know is that those are the numbers.
2008-06-25 11:25:47
66.   underdog
64 - I guess that goes without saying, but I said it anyway.

Well, Furcal + Me not necessarily > than Pierre + Berroa, but maybe it is.

2008-06-25 11:26:04
67.   MC Safety
Lol @ Slimers pointing out Milton Bradley is second in batting average behind ARod.

That was brilliant. Made my day.

2008-06-25 11:26:50
68.   underdog
Hey I have this kooky idea, Dodgers!

How about just winning more games, so we can all relax and take a break from worrying and analyzing for awhile. Could you be dears and do that for us? Thank you so much!

sincerely,
Underdog

2008-06-25 11:30:39
69.   jujibee
this just in from the Jim Callis chat

Ryan (LA, CA): Where on the moron sclae (1-10) would Frank McCourt rate if he lets Logan White leave to be the GM somewhere else while Ned Colletti stays on in LA?

Jim Callis: (2:02 PM ET ) That would be a disastrous decision. Still can't believe the Astros hired Ed Wade over White, reportedly because Wade's experience would allow them to contend quicker.

2008-06-25 11:31:21
70.   underdog
What's a moron sclae? (tee hee.)
2008-06-25 11:33:40
71.   KG16
50 - no, "not striking out" is properly rated: it is bad, very bad. Not as bad as hitting into a double or triple play, but still pretty bad. It is the only thing a hitter can do that does not give him at least a chance of advancing the offense. There is pretty much zero chance of a run scoring when a player strikes out.
2008-06-25 11:34:19
72.   Bob Timmermann
I believe the Dodgers tend to play better when I'm not around to see them.

I'm at the airport!

2008-06-25 11:37:42
73.   KG16
Just curious, who else was available that the Bums could have traded to get Ethier? Seriously, an outfield of Ethier-Bradley-Kemp with Young playing once or twice a week would look pretty nice right now.
2008-06-25 11:39:13
74.   KG16
66 - I don't know, can you throw from the warning track to the in field on less than four bounces? Because if so, you could probably get lucky enough at the plate to be close to Pierre.
2008-06-25 11:42:38
75.   Daniel Zappala
This entire season can be laid at the feet of none other than Bob Timmermann:

74-88 as the Dodgers succumb to a wave of injuries to the pitching staff and infielders.

2008-06-25 11:43:38
76.   GMac In The 909
73 While I enjoyed Slimers punching holes in NedCo's regime, Slimers was cherrypicking the Bradley vs. Ethier argument. Sure, having Bradley over Ethier right now looks grand, but what about when Bradley was acting like a mad man in the months leading up to his trade or last year when he was hurt? Does the Bradley vs. Ethier argument hold up then? Not so much.
2008-06-25 11:43:50
77.   underdog
If Bob would just travel more all this could be avoided!
2008-06-25 11:44:06
78.   bhsportsguy
73 Maybe the Padres would be happy if they had Bradley as opposed to the Edmonds experiment or maybe even the A's wished they still had him too.

And Milton Bradley has yet to come close to playing a full season.

2008-06-25 11:47:22
79.   underdog
76 I'm with you on that one. I know some here wold disagree but I wouldn't want both his emotional meltdowns and his recurring injuries added back to a team that already teeters on the brink with both as it is. The numbers look good but behind the numbers, no thanks. And I don't see him keeping it up.
2008-06-25 11:47:55
80.   dzzrtRatt
By the way, William Faulkner is my favorite author. I missed last night's thread, but I wanted to rush to his defense. He's about a lot more than "the decline of the South blah blah blah," or whatever was said, just as James Joyce is about a lot more than "the pettiness of Dublin" and Ernest Hemingway is about a lot more than "the decline of my manhood."
2008-06-25 11:49:03
81.   silverwidow
Tony Jackson says (in the comments section) that Ethan Martin's negotiations are "on hold." Apparently, the Dodgers will not go over slot ($1.73 million), so that could be a reason.

If he somehow doesn't sign, we will have the 15(a) pick in the 2009 draft.

2008-06-25 11:49:21
82.   Bob Timmermann
75 - I thought Kent would get injured though.

If my prediction comes true, I'm changing my name to Cassandra.

2008-06-25 11:53:10
83.   underdog
80 Oh I love Faulkner, too. Absalom and As I Lay Dying are still brilliant (I recently re-read the latter), among others. I wasn't sure about recommending him to high schoolers, but I think depending on the class and students, he'd be great. Either way, I still appreciate him.
2008-06-25 11:54:10
84.   LogikReader
72

Bob, where are you going again? The Sabr convention in Toronto?

2008-06-25 11:54:47
85.   Daniel Zappala
82 The Dodgers are on a pace for 74 wins right now, so I'll get the paperwork ready.
2008-06-25 11:55:15
86.   fanerman
83 We read "As I Lay Dying" in HS. My mother is a fish.
2008-06-25 11:55:41
87.   bhsportsguy
84 Cleveland. Bob does not his passport for that.
2008-06-25 11:56:35
88.   bhsportsguy
81 Tony Jackson's complete comment.

Ethan Martin is somewhat on hold at the moment. Logan White is in the Dominican, although it could get done while he is gone.

The Dodgers are pretty hard-core when it comes the slot money, and slot money in this case is $1.73 million. They aren't going to go above it, and I think once the player and his agent advisor realize that, the deal will get done. The kid isn't going to turn down that kind of money.

2008-06-25 11:59:56
89.   scareduck
70 - a moron sclae is a Scottish variant of curling, played with the decapitated head of a baseball general manager.
2008-06-25 12:01:03
90.   scareduck
72 - if a Slappy pops up to the shortstop while Bob is in Toronto, will the Dodgers still lose?
2008-06-25 12:06:17
91.   bhsportsguy
90 Like the man said at the end of "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," print the legend.
2008-06-25 12:07:45
92.   Ghost of Carlos Perez
I dislike when people give too much emphasis on how a player does something instead of what the player does. For example, I don't care if a player is a great hitter because of physical talent or because of his "approach."

More obvious examples are seen in statements like, "Chipper Jones is a special player because he is a switch hitter. Only X switch hitters have hit more homers than Chipper has," or "Curt Schilling belongs in the hall of fame. Only X righthanders have more wins than he has over the last 20 years."

I can picture the discussion when Tim Wakefield retires: "He's a hall of famer. He was the most dominant knuckleballer of his generation."

Certainly there is room to consider a hitter's approach (e.g., a coach trying to help the hitter improve) or a pitcher's handedness (figuring out the best matchup), etc, but it does not really fit when trying to figure out how well a player performed.

2008-06-25 12:09:08
93.   GoBears
That was me, bashing Faulkner. As I said, I had to read it all in the course of a few months. I don't remember, but it's possible that I liked the first book I read. But I found the canon to be monotone. The same theme over and over and over.

That's the nice thing about art, however: there's no accounting for taste.

BTW, Ratt, it was at Rolling Hills HS that I was subjected to this. Not that that matters one way or the other - just thought I'd give a shout out to your neighborhood.

2008-06-25 12:10:05
94.   Bob Timmermann
Toronto? That was three years ago? Since then, there's been Seattle and St. Louis.

Seattle, where people left angry criticisms directed at me on the Grilddle because they didn't like Sean Forman's research.

2008-06-25 12:12:10
95.   Linkmeister
If Bob ends up in Toronto he's gonna miss the convention, which is in Cleveland.

Query: Toronto. Is it a better location than Cleveland? My mother would say unequivocally yes.

2008-06-25 12:12:17
96.   Bob Timmermann
For those not scoring at home, next year's SABR convention will be in our Nation's capital.
2008-06-25 12:13:50
97.   Daniel Zappala
94 And if there's one thing we've learned, with all this talk about obelisks, is that Bob carries a grudge quite willingly.
2008-06-25 12:15:06
98.   Ken Noe
(a) If the LADs win this weekend, it's because of me. If not, it's still on Bob. (b) I still root for Bradley, but he had to go. (c) "Moron sclae" is nearly the opposite of "squee," but more emphatic than {sigh}.
2008-06-25 12:15:44
99.   Bob Timmermann
Toronto may be a better city than Cleveland, but it was harder for a convention with border crossings and the inability of many vendors to bring stuff across the border without a million permits.
2008-06-25 12:18:38
100.   Ken Noe
The last time I went to Toronto, the US border guard said he wouldn't let me back into the county until I said "Roll Tide." He finally relented, or I would still be there.
Show/Hide Comments 101-150
2008-06-25 12:18:51
101.   Linkmeister
99 That's what I had in mind: TSA and ICE hassles. I didn't want to break Rule 5.
2008-06-25 12:22:16
102.   old dodger fan
Hmmm!

Ben Sheets (MIL - P)
News: Sheets said on Tuesday that he intends to test the free agent market after this season and it would be really hard for Milwaukee to sign him to a contract before then, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

2008-06-25 12:25:12
103.   ToyCannon
I love Ben Sheets, I also know that any chance we had of signing him went up in smoke with all the free agents that Ned has signed ending up on the DL. He would never take a chance on Sheets with his medical history and Frank being a little tired of having a payroll on the DL more then the combined salaries of the Florida teams fighting for the playoffs.
2008-06-25 12:33:40
104.   El Lay Dave
60 is stated twice as well as 30 . (At least.)
2008-06-25 12:34:05
105.   KG16
92 - this is my opinion, and my opinion only:

approach is a better indicator of future performance than past performance.

A guy can rely on some combination of talent and luck for only so long before the bottom falls out. Conversely, a player relying on "approach", which I understand to mean mechanics and strategy, will likely be better long term. This is especially true when the right approach is combined with a high level of talent.

2008-06-25 12:35:01
106.   KG16
95 - well, don't forget, there is a hellmouth under Cleveland.
2008-06-25 12:36:29
107.   bhsportsguy
104 Thanks though your points are well taken and I don't think mine are anything new.
2008-06-25 12:36:38
108.   regfairfield
105 I don't think many people here will disagree that the process is more important than the results.
2008-06-25 12:36:50
109.   KG16
105 - let me clarify that statement: in predicting future performance, approach is better than past performance.
2008-06-25 12:37:38
110.   bhsportsguy
103 Also Sheets will be 30 when the 2009 season starts and he will probably want a 5-year but may have to take a 4 year deal,
2008-06-25 12:42:45
111.   Vaudeville Villain
51

The likely explanation is that Kemp's hitting with Jones is simply coincidence. It's not like it was a large enouh sample size to be valuable, anyway. I'm surprised to see you making this argument.

2008-06-25 12:42:47
112.   El Lay Dave
108 "...in the new approach, as you know, the important thing is to understand what you're doing rather than to get the right answer." - Tom Lehrer
2008-06-25 12:42:57
113.   regfairfield
Giving Sheets a Ned special, something like 3/60, seems like a good idea to me if he'd go for it.
2008-06-25 12:42:59
114.   Jim Hitchcock
Awfully good post, Jon.
2008-06-25 12:45:40
115.   Physics DR
SOOO---

I was wondering if we had 9 guys all at 100 for a player average (whatever it is called); would that be a good thing?

2008-06-25 12:46:54
116.   regfairfield
115 No, because then by definition you'd win 81 games.
2008-06-25 12:46:54
117.   regfairfield
115 No, because then by definition you'd win 81 games.
2008-06-25 12:54:40
118.   Eric Enders
Sheets will get a lot better than 3/$60 from someone. He's not at all like Jason Schmidt other than the injury proneness. Sheets is younger and better.
2008-06-25 12:56:31
119.   Physics DR
116

Understood.

What are the player averages for our current players?

Not that many over 100 if I remember.

2008-06-25 13:01:04
120.   fanerman
119 Are you referring to OPS+ and ERA+? Team data is over here:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/LAD/2008.shtml

2008-06-25 13:03:47
121.   El Lay Dave
It belatedly occurs to me that part of the original plan for "Manager, coaches, training staff" including having Don Mattingly on the staff, primarily to work with the hitters. Hard to judge if it was a good plan or not, but the midseason reality is that he isn't around much, but - and this is mostly conjecture - Torre may have been counting on Donnie Baseball to be the guy that knows how to deliver "the message" to young batsmen.
2008-06-25 13:06:27
122.   Johnny Nucleo
Just throwing this out there:
Dewitt was plan D for 3B (behind Garciaparra, Laroche, and Abreu) - and he has worked out for a long enough time for LaRoche to come back.
Berroa is plan D (at least) for SS behind Furcal, Hu, and Maza. Hu looked really good at the end of last year. Over the winter, some people on this board were clamouring for Hu to start in 2008. Unfortunately he needs more time in the minors.
Abreu was also our plan B at 2B. Young, I suppose, might be plan C. Kent isn't doing so hot.

The starting rotation has worked out pretty well. Behind our 5 starters are (in order) Park, Stults, and Kuo. That's not bad.

Part of the GM's job is to plan for contingencies in case things go wrong. Lots of things have gone wrong in the infield. On the whole, Colletti craves depth - in my opinion, he's better than Depodesta was in this regard. I can't fault Colletti too much for not coming up with a good plan D on the fly. Berroa is a replacement-level stopgap until Furcal gets back. Kent should have a better backup available too, but again, as someone pointed out above, the Abreu injury really cut short some options.
I agree that Colletti needs to say that he's ultimately responsible for all the front office decisions though, regardless. To do otherwise really alienates the people you need to help you do your job.

2008-06-25 13:09:17
123.   Suffering Bruin
I am now convinced that the only reason why Jon's stuff isn't the LA Times is because of the high cost of newsprint. That is the only reason I can think why I don't have to pay to read this stuff.

IF the Times hired Jon and IF he were allowed to do that voodoo that he do so well and IF he were joined by, oh, I don't know... Bobby T and Robby M, THEN I would absolutely pay to have a print copy on my door, daily.

As it stands now, my best information on my favorite team is right here.

In other words, Jon... that was a damn good post.

2008-06-25 13:13:46
124.   underdog
123 Jon's paragraphs are too long. The Times would never go for it. (No, I agree with you.)

Missing a hell of a soccer game people.

2008-06-25 13:14:06
125.   Eric Enders
"On the whole, Colletti craves depth - in my opinion, he's better than Depodesta was in this regard."

The only difference between these two regarding depth is that Colletti had the advantage of taking over at the exact moment when the fruits of a bounteous farm system were about ready for the majors. Both GMs kept some AAAA players around for depth. It's just that DePo's depth guys, like Grabowski, Edwards, and Robles, actually ended up being needed for extended playing time, while Colletti's guys, like Tiffee and Lindsey have been able to cool their heels in Las Vegas while unexpected lineup holes are filled by young players like DeWitt, Ethier, and Kershaw.

Colletti's teams have been deeper than DePo's but it's solely a function of opportunity.

2008-06-25 13:17:13
126.   Suffering Bruin
124 I hear you. But if I cut Jon's article by 75%, I've still got more depth and entertainment than a Simers screed.
2008-06-25 13:22:47
127.   Jon Weisman
124 - I wouldn't say I'm missing it, Bob.
2008-06-25 13:25:32
128.   Jon Weisman
126 - Well, this was hardly one of my funniest pieces :)
2008-06-25 13:26:54
129.   kinbote
0 Phenomenal stuff, Jon. Your friendly blog is unequivocally the finest source of Dodger thoughts available.

68 Don't get too greedy, underdog. We did have that little one-game win streak a couple days back. How soon you forget . . .

2008-06-25 13:27:40
130.   old dodger fan
124 GOAL!!
2008-06-25 13:36:37
131.   Jacob L
Regarding approach vs. past performance, while I have no particular orthodoxy, I've always taken it to be one of the major tenets of sabermetrics (or at least Bill James) that performance predicts performance.

It seems obvious that some hitters with terrible approaches can do very well based on athleticism and instincts, but that these hitters will not (cough, Nomar) enjoy long-term success.

2008-06-25 13:37:42
132.   underdog
129 And since I do count the Reds series, we have that going for us, too.

127 Tee-hee. But two lightning strikes knocked out the feed, in addition to the crazy game itself. Memorable stuff.

2008-06-25 13:37:53
133.   trainwreck
Poor Turks.
2008-06-25 13:39:38
134.   fanerman
131 I think Nomar's long-term success (or lack thereof) has more to do with his wrist injuries and constant DL-edness than it does with his approach.
2008-06-25 13:42:44
135.   underdog
Why did Constantinople get the works?
That's nobody's business but the Turks.

Ah well.

Back to work now.

2008-06-25 13:42:55
136.   Daniel Zappala
This is what bugs me about soccer. The team that plays the best, controls the ball, and has far more shots on goal, often doesn't win.
2008-06-25 13:45:09
137.   bhsportsguy
136 So when does the Zappala family make its return to So Cal?
2008-06-25 13:45:31
138.   JoeyP
131--If that theory is true, then teams should think twice about signing Vlad Guerrero. He may have the worst approach/best results of any player I've ever seen.
2008-06-25 13:47:07
139.   regfairfield
I think the thing is that no one with a bad approach (aside from freaks like Vlad) can have sustained success, so generally good numbers=good approach.
2008-06-25 13:53:54
140.   underdog
136 I don't know about "often." It happens, but I don't think it happens that much. Sometimes games are even and then it's anybody's game, or it goes to PKs, but more often than not the team that played best wins, imho. But when it doesn't happen, as with today, it can seem particularly frustrating, especially if you're rooting for Turkey.

Can say this about baseball and football, too. Sometimes a team was outplayed but still manages to eke out a win. But it doesn't happen frequently.

2008-06-25 13:54:29
141.   Mike De Leon
Good analysis Jon, but I lay a lot of the blame on torre and the coaching staff and never thought torre was/would be a good fit. If I could have chosen a replacement for little it would have been either Gibby or Joe Girardi. The reasons for his being hired, to increase the clubs chemistry, was a complete crock. Chemisrtry being important is a falisy, the 1971-1975 A's, who were at each others throats most of the time, showed that it doesn't matter. Go back farther and everyone hated Ty Cobb but the Tigers still won.

The reason I lay a lot of the blame on torre is his prefrence for vets no matter how they seem to preform and puts all the blame on the kids. Ethier completely outplayed JP in ST and started the year out hitting very well. Then for some inane reason he got pulled in favor of the weak armed Pierre. There's also the fact that, before Kent's seeming June resurgence, he was left in the 3 or 4 hole and would either SO, GIDP, FO or GO. Then too there's the Sweeny black hole that continues to plauge the ph role.

I do agree that patience is a good thing but at the same time if you get a pitch early in the count that's hittable you should hit it rather than let it go by if that's the 'approach' that Easler and/or Bowa are pushing its idiotic. Especialy when you consider that last year the kids weren't hitting well until Bill Mueller (sp?) took over as hitting coach then everything seemed to click and they took off. So either bring Mueller back at least part time and see if he can't get them back to where they were last year if he does show Easler the door.

2008-06-25 13:55:23
142.   kinbote
Coming full circle here, I think Juan Pierre would make one heck of a soccer player. Much like in baseball, his fine work could even be commended in a scoreless effort.
2008-06-25 13:56:51
143.   Daniel Zappala
137 Unclear. We had been planning a trip in July, but that is likely off. Possibly not till Christmas.
2008-06-25 14:05:26
144.   Eric Enders
The following is long and rambling and may not have much of a point.

One thing about the Simers column is that it aptly illustrates the two main problems with the Colletti-era Dodgers.

1. They refuse to acknowledge -- and often refuse to repair -- even the most obvious mistakes.

"You're looking in hindsight, so your vision is perfect," says Colletti, who apparently works with blinders on, the only logical explanation for some of these deals. "Who has come back to haunt us?"

A better question, I said, "is who did you acquire who really improved the team?"

"Ethier helped us," he says. "Maddux helped us, Lugo gave us some support, Anderson certainly helped us in September of '06, and Hendrickson pitched. You do have to have players who pitch and play in the games."
- - - - -

First of all, when you're asked what good deals you've made and the third one that comes to mind is Julio Lugo, that's bad. What's worse is that Colletti insists that the trade helped the team. This is a guy who was allowed to bat 164 times and posted a 41 OPS+. This is a guy whose acquisition was an unmitigated disaster.

This is a guy who was almost completely redundant in terms of the Dodgers' needs: He started two games at his natural position of shortstop, 13 at his secondary position of second base, and every other game he played was at a position where he was in over his head offense-wise (3B, LF, RF).

Even allowing for the fact that Colletti was being harassed by a buffoon of a columnist, the fact that he could make such a quote is pretty damning of his qualifications to be a general manager. It indicates that either (1) He is clueless beyond the pale where player evaluation is concerned, or (2) He resolutely refuses to acknowledge even the most egregious and obvious mistakes.

You could say that he's trying to avoid becoming a Ricciardi, trying to avoid running down a player in public. But he's the one who brought up the subject of Lugo. He could have simply said nothing. He has no reason to want to placate Lugo. This is not a player who's under contract to the Dodgers, or who conceivably could be in the future. This is a guy who is in the process of playing his way out of the majors, and whose defining moment in the major leagues was the time he smashed his wife's head into the hood of her car. The point is, there's no reason for Colletti to avoid the truth just to spare Lugo's feelings.

One could reasonably argue that the Lugo trade benefited the Dodgers not because of Lugo himself, but because of the draft picks they reaped when he departed. I myself would make this argument, actually. But Colletti specifically avoids this interpretation, and given the indifference he's shown toward the draft with both the Dodgers and Giants, it's not plausible that Withrow and Adkins were the reasons he made the trade, or the reasons he thinks it's successful.

On to the next problem raised by the Simers column....

2. The Dodgers' player evaluation is so incompetent that they have shown a near-complete inability to distinguish the players who help them win from those who don't.

If you give the Dodgers a choice between two baseball players, a good one and a bad one, there's at least a 50/50 chance they'll pick the bad one.

Moreover, the things management says publicly are often provably false, even comically false. The main failing of the Dodgers' beat writers, who I think generally do a good job, is their complete refusal to question the hokum the Dodgers spew forth. Even when the Dodgers say something about player performance that's provably false, the writers will unquestioningly regurgitate it as fact. Perhaps this is because they are in awe of Torre, or afraid of incurring his wrath. But then again, it was the same way under Grady Little.

"Torre says he likes the approach Juan Pierre and Jeff Kent take, and Russell Martin does well at times, but the rest of the Dodgers' lineup is too impatient and swings at too many bad pitches."

Perhaps Torre is engaging in motivational psychology here that's specifically directed toward Matt Kemp, in which case you can ignore the following. But if we take the statement at face value, it's hard to believe a person who's been around baseball for 50 years could actually believe it's true. Perhaps it's simply a case of being too close to the situation -- not being able to see the forest for the trees.

Here are the players on the current roster, ranked by pitches per plate appearance (50 or more ABs):

1. Andre Ethier
2. Russell Martin
3. Delwyn Young
4. James Loney
5. Blake DeWitt
6. Mark Sweeney
7. Juan Pierre
8. Matt Kemp
9. Jeff Kent

So the five most disciplined hitters on the team are young players. Moreover, the guys whose approach Torre goes out of his way to praise are two of the worst three hitters on the team in terms of plate discipline. Torre's comment, with all due respect to his experience, is completely, laughably false. It shows either (a) a complete disregard for whether the things he says are actually true, or (b) a fundamental inability to analyze the game of baseball. Neither option reflects well on him.

This inability to accurately evaluate players is the main thing that's plagued the Dodgers under Torre. I'm not saying this would be a great team if Torre had deployed his players in a manner that made sense. But it would be somewhat better, and I think it's reasonable of fans to expect the team to field the best lineup at its disposal.

Instead, Torre seems to have picked his favorites and not wavered from those favorites, even when the player is a washed-up relic hitting .100.

We're less than halfway through the season, but Torre and Colletti have already, at various points during the year, made the following misallocations of playing time:

Sweeney over Young
Proctor over Kuo
Proctor over Wade
Loaiza over Kuo
Pierre over Kemp
Pierre over Ethier
Pierre over Young
Bennett over LaRoche
Maza over Hu
Maza over Young/DeWitt
Tiffee over LaRoche
Garciaparra over LaRoche
Garciaparra over DeWitt

It's hard to win when you don't know who your best players are.

2008-06-25 14:12:45
145.   Xeifrank
142. Juan's stolen bases would have much more value in soccer's low scoring environment. :) vr, Xei
2008-06-25 14:13:33
146.   Xeifrank
144. Can you summarize that post in one sentence for me. I have to go to bed by 11pm this evening. :)
vr, Xei
2008-06-25 14:13:41
147.   trainwreck
144
Depressing isn't it?
2008-06-25 14:16:56
148.   tjdub
144 Amen. To all of it. Amen. I think we can accept as fact that if you put the best lineup in night after night your chances of success are greater. I also believe we can accept the notion that perception can be clouded by many things, not the least of which is prior success. I think Torre may actually believe what he's saying and believes he must be right because he won so many games. I don't believe Torre specifically is being disingenuous, just clueless. Sadly, I don't think he's likely to improve in that regard.
2008-06-25 14:17:48
149.   Eric Enders
146 Better be careful or I'll go all PDH5204 on you. ;)
2008-06-25 14:18:25
150.   KG16
139 - Define "sustained success". Are you talking more than a single season? Because in that case, I'll agree with you.

The key is to find someone high on the "right approach" metric as well as high on the "talent" metric. I picture these as two sort of bell curves that intersect at some point, being the ideal and many points near it being acceptable.

Show/Hide Comments 151-200
2008-06-25 14:18:48
151.   Xeifrank
149. Actually, it was a great post once I took the time to read it. :)
vr, Xei
2008-06-25 14:19:07
152.   LoneStar7
heck of a match, unfortunate that the winning side really didn't deserve to win...maybe I'm just being a bitter english fan...anyway just after reading 44 thats a pretty shocking fact that the top 5 players with plate discipline are young guys...

Do you think anyone even approaches Ned or Joe after saying something totally off mark like that? I mean do you think they ever find out when they say something completely off base?

2008-06-25 14:20:05
153.   Sushirabbit
144, Can we go back to talking about westerns and books, now? Ouch.
2008-06-25 14:26:24
154.   JoeyP
144--Great post Eric. I wish you could send that to everyone involved with the Dodgers.
2008-06-25 14:26:38
155.   Marty
149 You could do worse. You could go all bojangles on him.
2008-06-25 14:28:06
156.   LoneStar7
I'd be interested to see what guys like gurnick, leung, and jackson have to say in response to 144 its too bad this stuff never gets outside the realms of this blog....again good stuff
2008-06-25 14:28:44
157.   Xeifrank
155. Or sing a vulgar rap song about me?
vr, Xei
2008-06-25 14:29:16
158.   scareduck
144 - Not rambling or pointless at all.
2008-06-25 14:31:17
159.   Xeifrank
I think the LA Times article today flipped the heat switch on Ned Colletti's seat. It might not be a "hot seat" yet, but it's warming up real fast. Sometimes it takes the msm a while to catch on, as if they were living in a world where gas was $2.50 a gallon.
vr, Xei
2008-06-25 14:33:07
160.   Sushirabbit
144,153 - In case it wasn't clear, I thought 144 was great, too. And I'm kidding about returning to non-baseball thoughts... Sometimes the truth hurts; just wish it would hurt the right people.
2008-06-25 14:34:29
161.   68elcamino427
What a great post and thread! One of the very best since I've been visiting here. Thanks to all, very enjoyable :)

Send it special delivery to Mr. McCourt, as all of the others would probably try to hide it from him, if they bothered to take the time to read it!

2008-06-25 14:34:59
162.   Sushirabbit
159, shouldn't that read: as if they were living in a world where gas was 32 cents a gallon?
2008-06-25 14:35:24
163.   LoneStar7
actually I noticed someone under the name scanman33...most likely someone who posts here as well came through with this plethora of information about the ridiculous "young players" argument...for which Tony had no response..
2008-06-25 14:36:08
164.   Xeifrank
162. Probably, but it was a jab at both high gas prices and the msm. vr, Xei
2008-06-25 14:37:24
165.   bhsportsguy
144 See, the only way to get mass love here is to call management out to the carpet.

:)

2008-06-25 14:39:11
166.   bhsportsguy
159 Well, next will come a column on how fans are blind to the Dodger shortcomings since they keep buying tickets, that column will come the day the Dodgers recognize the 1988 team.
2008-06-25 14:42:55
167.   Jon Weisman
159 - It was inevitable as soon as the Lakers' season ended.
2008-06-25 14:45:12
168.   Terry A
It hadn't struck me before 144 that Colletti blamed some of the bad moves completely on "the player personnel people" and then claimed Marlon Anderson as one of "his" good acquisitions. Do I recall correctly that Kim Ng, and not The Great Communicator himself, basically did the Anderson deal?

Pretty scummy.

2008-06-25 14:46:17
169.   Jon Weisman
By the way, good posts today from both BH and Eric.
2008-06-25 14:52:30
170.   underdog
Yeah, great points Eric. Can you repost that as a blog entry on one of the other Dodger blogs, too, or post at least the highlights from it in the comments on the Blue Notes blog and so on?
2008-06-25 14:53:21
171.   Daniel Zappala
Congratulations, Eric, you've succeeded in getting me depressed about Colletti. It was a great post, but ... sigh.
2008-06-25 14:57:41
172.   fanerman
144 I was expecting The Brothers Karamazov and I only got Crime and Punishment.
2008-06-25 15:03:59
173.   underdog
I've decided to petition McCourt to hire Dodger Thoughts as Group GM after he fires Colletti.
2008-06-25 15:04:09
174.   Frip
Could someone please give me their opinion of Erik Karros as an announcer?
2008-06-25 15:07:04
175.   underdog
174 Sorry, I saw that before but then forgot. I find him honest enough, and often knowledgeable but he does have that air of smugness about him, and seems kind of humorless. He also seems over critical of the Dodgers but maybe I'm just too sensitive. And tends to make the same points, gets a little predictable. In short I don't mind him, he's not Joe Morgan, but not a big fan.
2008-06-25 15:09:29
176.   Prescott Pete
Karros the announcer does not float my boat.
2008-06-25 15:12:33
177.   cargill06
173 i think a minor league team did some type of promotion like thata few years ago. you got to vote on the starting line-up and who plays where.
2008-06-25 15:14:56
178.   underdog
177 Oh, if only... can you imagine if DT picked the lineups and the roster? {Drool} Just give us one night, McCourt, one night!
2008-06-25 15:16:19
179.   underdog
Of course, there might be some disagreement here about who to replace Sweeney with.

There'd be a few people wanting to call up John Lindsay, a few Tiffee Marchers and Chowderers, and me, calling for Jason Repko. Or we could work a trade for a guy somewhere.

2008-06-25 15:24:14
180.   KingKopitar
167 Yeah, I sometimes get annoyed that the Times barely covers the Kings, but then they do and I wish they never mentioned them in their paper again.
2008-06-25 15:28:29
181.   GMac In The 909
154 Who says you can't?
2008-06-25 15:32:28
182.   LoneStar7
I just found a wheat penny, is it normal that when abes head is facing up, the "one cent" is upside down on the other side?
2008-06-25 15:41:19
183.   El Lay Dave
182 I believe that obverse/reverse relationship has been true on all U.S. coins for quite some time (at least a century?).
2008-06-25 15:43:11
184.   underdog
This is apropos of nothing, but I just discovered that there is a "War Games 2" that is coming to DVD late next month. What the heck... ? Straight to video it appears, and pointless. Only 25 years later.
2008-06-25 15:45:36
185.   LoneStar7
182 oops never mind, i guess all coins nowadays are in coin alignment as well, dang i really wanted it to be some sort mint error

i guess i'm a little geeked after watching national treasure 2 a couple nights ago lol

2008-06-25 15:46:48
186.   Jim Hitchcock
184 Sounds like a can't miss...IMDB movie meter ranks it at 14%...and asks `why?'
2008-06-25 15:47:41
187.   Jon Weisman
184 - It made me think of how much I liked the first one when it came out, so there's a plus. Broderick, Sheedy, Corbin - how could you not love it?
2008-06-25 15:53:18
188.   underdog
187 Me, too, and without that cast (thankfully, for their sake) and the 80s era charm, what's the point? Greed and desperation, I guess.

I had such a crush on Ally Sheedy when that movie came out. Her and Jennifer Jason Leigh. I guess I like the cute and slightly crazy actresses.

2008-06-25 15:54:19
189.   scareduck
187 - Sheedy. Oh, my, did I used to have a crush on her. What a career she didn't have, and I thought she was all ready to break out after The Breakfast Club.
2008-06-25 15:54:46
190.   scareduck
188 - she's mine, do you hear me? Mine!
2008-06-25 15:55:09
191.   underdog
186 - the movie meter thing always has that 'why' link there, but it's still the right question!
2008-06-25 15:55:51
192.   underdog
190 Okay, Daffy, all yours.

Dibs on JJL, though.

2008-06-25 15:56:05
193.   scareduck
174 , 175 - Karros is fine so long as he isn't talking about the Dodgers. He starts to get bitter and annoyingly hypercritical about all the wrong things then.
2008-06-25 15:56:33
194.   scareduck
192 - I'm a happy miser.
2008-06-25 16:01:25
195.   StolenMonkey86
171 - It took you that long? I've been down on Colletti since the Mark Hendrickson deal.
2008-06-25 16:03:18
196.   underdog
194 Consequences schmonsequences... as long as you're rich.
2008-06-25 16:04:20
197.   Jon Weisman
Ally's Hill Street Blues appearance might have had the greatest impact on me, though.
2008-06-25 16:06:23
198.   Jim Hitchcock
197 Really? What kind of role?
2008-06-25 16:06:55
199.   Jon Weisman
NPUT
2008-06-25 16:11:28
200.   Jon Weisman
198 - http://dodgerthoughts.baseballtoaster.com/archives/13564.html

Caution: Not your typical DT content.

Show/Hide Comments 201-250
2008-06-25 16:16:13
201.   Jim Hitchcock
200 !!! :)
2008-06-25 20:43:05
202.   3rd gen yankee fan
144 I don't have any opinion about Coletti but about Joe, well, yeah. There's a reason we sometimes called him Clueless Joe.

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