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What's Done Isn't Done
2003-08-11 08:50
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

When the Dodgers faced Florida in May this season, we all considered it a foray into a soft part of their schedule. And in fact, the Dodgers did sweep the Marlins, giving them wins 2, 3 and 4 at the front end of their 10-game winning streak. The Marlins left town 19-26, 5 1/2 games behind Los Angeles.

Since then, the Marlins are 45-27, and the Dodgers are 36-36.

The Marlins regular lineup hasn't really changed. Rookie Miguel Cabrera, a third baseman in the minors, has become part of the search for a productive left fielder. Otherwise, you still have C Ivan Rodriguez, 1B Derrek Lee, 2B Luis Castillo, SS Alex Gonzalez, 3B Mike Lowell, CF Juan Pierre and RF Juan Encarcion.

Perhaps the biggest deal offensively for the Marlins is their health: Their top seven guys have missed only 40 games combined this season, an average of less than six games missed per player. (Note: Lee is still adding to that total, having suffered a dislocated shoulder July 28.)

By comparison, your Dodger top eight of Paul Lo Duca, Fred McGriff, Alex Cora, Cesar Izturis, Adrian Beltre, Brian Jordan, Dave Roberts and Shawn Green have missed 168 games.

But one other thing has happened since May.

The day after the Marlins left Los Angeles, Dontrelle Willis faced Montreal in his third career start. He gave up five runs in three innings, and fell to 1-1 with an ERA of 7.07.

Since that time, Willis is 10-1 with a 1.87 ERA.

Everyone's talking about the moves the Dodgers have failed to make this season to stay in contention, but the only transactions the Marlins have transacted in their rally was to add Ugueth Urbina, a relief pitcher who has contributed all of 12 2/3 innings this season, and to not trade Lowell to the Dodgers.

Oh, and they fired their manager, Jeff Torborg, the week before coming to Los Angeles.

I make that last statement for the record, and not as a backhanded comment on Jim Tracy's situation. In fact, in my opinion, Tracy does not even have a "situation," except that other people have raised questions whenever the team isn't on a winning streak. Despite his minor flaws, Tracy has done well just to hold the Dodgers together.

Emotionally, however, it is frustrating and downright confusing to see a team with no apparent talent advantage, in a region that doesn't support it, with perhaps the worst ownership in major league baseball outside of the Expos, only six years after it won the World Series and then held a fire sale, positioned to take a playoff spot from the Big Blue Book of Job.

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