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Other People's Words
2003-09-16 09:03
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

As the morning greets me with some computer problems and nothing more profound than Wilson Alvarez's 0.66 home ERA (three earned runs in 40 2/3 innings), here are some letters:

* * *

First, Louis writes in response to my Monday post about Adrian Beltre.

Interesting post on Beltre....I was asking myself the same question while watching Friday's game. It doesn't seem like he's changed his approach at the plate very much. He isn't going the other way a whole lot, and the walk statisitic you posted shows he certainly isn't any more patient and selective at the plate in the 2nd half. He may be improving his ability to hit bad pitches, but to me that's not a good thing (although, setting aside the obvious criticisms/downside to his approach at the plate, it DOES take a lot of talent to be able to pull a breaking ball that is almost in the dirt into the left field bleachers, as I've seen him do several times).

That's why I think this offseason brings some difficult questions and answers about Beltre. Yes, his 2nd half has been excellent, and his end-of-the-season numbers will look OK, but do you, as the Dodgers, commit to a guy who's mental approach to hitting is so bad? And what about the fact that this approach hasn't really shown any significant signs of improvement after 5 seasons? Doesn't that have to seriously factor in to Evans' statistical projections?

In short I think Beltre will forever be a self-limiting player; tantalizing physical talent handcuffed by a lack of discipline at the plate. It's like the (typical?) girl who goes out with the "bad boy", thinking that she can change him. He says he'll call, he says he'll change, he says he'll be faithful, he says he'll get a job. It never works. I just hope that Adrian Beltre isn't the bad boy here and the Dodgers aren't those women (picture woman waiting by phone for the call that never comes and the Dodgers at the all-star break in 2004 looking at a 3rd baseman hitting .215).

My reply?

I think the decision on Beltre will be made not in a vaccum, but in context with other player moves. I could see scenarios where the Dodgers decide they've had enough, and others where they can afford to give Beltre one more shot. Keep in mind that third base is a weak position throughout the majors right now.

There are differing schools of thought as to whether plate discipline can be taught. Sammy Sosa learned it; Raul Mondesi didn't. Assuming the Dodgers are smart enough to care, they have to figure out which school applies to Beltre.

Let's see what happens over the next two weeks...

* * *

Meanwhile, Dodger Thoughts' Maine Dodger fan, Kent Whitaker, fills us in on another analysis of Cy Young candidate Eric Gagne:

You may have had your fill of Eric Gagne-for-Cy Young notes, but I wanted to call your attention to an article in the Wall Street Journal that ran back on September 5th. Written by Allen St. John in his "By the Numbers" column, it was titled "How to Spell Relief". In the column, he discusses a stat called OFB (off-base percentage), which measures how effective a relief pitcher is at getting the job done. Gagne had an OFB of .804 in the article, tops in the majors. I haven't run the calculation to see what his OFB is now but at the time, he rated ahead of Seattle's Soriano (.790) and Atlanta's Smoltz (.771)
OFB is calculated by taking the number of outs a pitcher records and dividing it by the number of batters he faces. St. John goes on in the article to say that the stat can also assess entire bullpens. The Dodgers were tops in the majors (at that writing) with a .727 OFB, ahead of Seattle and Anaheim. By comparison, the Yankees bullpen had an OFB of .657.
Regards,
Kent Whitaker
Newcastle, ME (A snowball's throw from Waldoboro, Maine, where former Dodger Clyde Sukeforth passed away September 3, 2000)

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