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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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Ashby in Escrow
2003-08-28 08:50
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

I come to you this morning, 13 hours after receiving the news that I have made the biggest purchase of my life - a bigger purchase, it seems like, than all previous purchases combined. My wife and I have bought a house.

It's a good house, in a good neighborhood. Not the prettiest in the world, but it'll do, pig, it'll do. Although it will be about 15 degrees on the average day there than the area I currently live in, there will be shade to be found. Although the yard is small, there will be space inside and out for my daughter to play. It's got the schools, the parks, the shops - all within walking distance.

I come to you this morning, the impending move occupying just about all the mental energy I have. Knowing I couldn't get the perfect house, but believing we made the best possible purchase. Trying to feel excited, but fearing something's wrong because I'm more anxious than excited.

All because I know that even the best intentions can turn out to be ... Andy Ashby.

To be sure, my house cost less than the $22.5 million the Dodgers spent to watch Ashby have four decent months over three years. In April, May, June and August, 2002, Ashby had a 2.95 ERA in 152 1/3 innings. In the other 13 in-season months of his Dodger career, Ashby's ERA has been 6.08 in 111 innings.

Ashby has now been sent to the bullpen for the final month of his Dodger career (although at any moment an injury to one of the Dodger starters could bring Ashby out again). In the morning papers, Ashby reacts to the decision with grudging understanding. In the Daily News, for example:

"I'm not going to worry about it anymore," Ashby said. "I didn't throw well so they're not going to let me (start). I'll do what they want me to do, and that's it. I've been there before; it's nothing shocking, so to hell with it. I'll do what they want me to do, and then go on."
Let's face it - paying $22.5 million to a ballplayer that says "to hell with it" is a vintage Money Pit moment. My question: Would it hurt more if the Dodgers had reason to believe Ashby should have performed better over the life of his contract? Would it hurt more if the Dodgers had real reason to be disappointed?

Because they do and they don't.

From 1994-1996 and in 1998, Ashby posted ERAs below 3.50. In 1997 and in 1999, his ERAs were 4.13 and 3.80. In 2000, his ERA soared to 4.92, but even that last ERA isn't as bad as it looks. According to BaseballReference.com, Ashby's ERA in 2000 was nearly at the league average - and after being traded from Philadelphia to Atlanta, it was well above.

So when Dodger general manager Kevin Malone pursued Ashby in the 2000-2001 offseason, he could be excused for thinking that Ashby might be worth taking a flyer on.

A flyer, however, is not $22.5 million. That's a Hindenburg.

The man replacing Ashby in the rotation, Wilson Alvarez - now he was a flyer. I'm not suggesting that Ashby in 2000 didn't deserve more than the $750,000, one-year contract Alvarez got in 2003, but it's not hindsight to say that low-seven-figures was the neighborhood to settle in. That's what everyone was thinking at the time.

Ashby has been a disappointment, but the disappointment began before he threw his first Dodger pitch. The Dodgers had no business signing him to that contract, and for all of Dan Evans' faults, I'm glad that the man now in charge is not a man who would repeat that mistake.

As for me, my family and my house, well, wish us luck. It's a big commitment for the franchise, but signs point to success. We just have to make sure the house passes its physical. Don't want it to end up on the DL in its first month.

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