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The Think Blue All-Star Summertime Variety Revue Power Hour
2004-07-11 20:25
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Starring ...

Starting Lineup (8)
OBP SLG OPS EQA E

.355 .580 .935 .314 5 Adrian Beltre
.377 .437 .813 .291 2 Milton Bradley
.388 .429 .817 .288 2 Alex Cora
.343 .369 .711 .287 3 Dave Roberts
.355 .461 .819 .278 3 Paul Lo Duca
.335 .399 .734 .264 5 Shawn Green
.292 .431 .723 .251 4 Juan Encarnacion
.337 .362 .698 .255 3 Cesar Izturis

Oohs
Beltre is (or was) doing a Kirk Gibson 1988 World Series Game 1 on an everyday basis. Lo Duca has postponed his anticipated slump with a July power surge, though his infrequent walks lower his value. The speed of Roberts - 28 steals in 29 attempts - is mouthwatering. Cora and Izturis are Fred and Ginger - and for that matter, Beltre is Gene Kelly, and Green can hoof it at first as well.

Awws
Bradley gets on base but his impact has been ironically quiet. Green unequivocally belongs in the starting lineup - near the bottom. Encarnacion has on-base and health problems.

Bench (8)
OBP SLG OPS EQA E

.400 .621 1.021 .324 0 Jayson Werth
.300 .667 .967 .324 0 Joe Thurston
.389 .463 .852 .306 3 Jose Hernandez
.319 .452 .771 .278 1 Olmedo Saenz
.315 .427 .743 .264 1 Jason Grabowski
.306 .264 .570 .216 0 Robin Ventura
.234 .271 .505 .177 1 Dave Ross
.000 .000 .000 .000 0 Chin-Feng Chen

Oohs
Werth is 25 years old, controlled, powerful, athletic - he's the kind of stud pickup the Dodgers always seem to come up with on the mound and never at the plate. The potential of Grabowski should not be confused with Werth's, but he has been productive. Amid all the injuries, the Dodgers have needed to dip into the minors for only 12 plate appearances (by Thurston and Chen.)

Awws
With a .537 OPS since June 1, Hernandez is tailing off from his hot start. To a lesser extent, so is Saenz. Ventura, the active leader in grand slams, has no power left but can still pick it on defense. Because of his ineffectiveness, Ross is forcing the Dodgers to play Lo Duca more.

Starting Pitchers (5)
Inn. ERA K/9

106.3 2.96 6.5 Odalis Perez
11.7 3.86 4.6 Edwin Jackson
101.3 4.00 4.3 Kazuhisa Ishii
113.0 4.22 6.7 Jeff Weaver
67.0 8.06 5.0 Hideo Nomo

Oohs
Perez has been almost pristine this year and even timed his injury well, forcing the Dodgers to test their faith and renew their hopes for Jackson. Ishii has had some of the most brilliant games of his career. Weaver has become proficient in the quality start.
Awws
Nomo. Why, why, did they wait so long to MRI, MRI?

Swingmen (2)
Inn. ERA K/9

65.7 3.56 7.4 Wilson Alvarez
83.3 4.32 4.8 Jose Lima

Oohs
Look no further than this past weekend to see these how dominant these two journeymen can be.

Awws
Shakiness earlier this season encouraged the Dodgers to dilly-dally with Nomo.

Relievers (8)
Inn. ERA K/9

05.7 0.00 9.5 Giovanni Carrara
02.0 0.00 4.5 Rodney Myers
54.7 1.65 7.9 Guillermo Mota
39.0 1.85 12.5 Eric Gagne
40.3 3.57 4.9 Duaner Sanchez
38.3 3.76 11.3 Darren Dreifort
25.0 4.32 6.5 Tom Martin
14.3 7.53 6.9 Brian Falkenborg

Oohs
Gagne is in his third year of unparalleled brilliance. Mota is in his second year of paralleled brilliance. Sanchez is the counterpoint to Werth - his emergence from nowhere is welcome but less shocking. Myers and Carrara filled their holes capably.

Awws
Martin is fooling nobody but Jim Tracy. Dreifort has outstanding strikeout rates but a worse walk rate than Ishii or Nomo. Falkenborg simply wasn't impressive.

Cancellation or Fall Renewal
Since the one-third point, the Dodgers solved their biggest problem of the season. By removing Nomo, they now have a starting rotation that gives them a chance to win every single game.

The Dodgers also solved their second-biggest problem of the season. By replacing Green with Beltre in the cleanup spot, they finally have a fearsome lineup anchor, while Green can bat in a place where his double plays are less likely and where his singles and walks can be considered a positive.

The Dodgers also solved their third-biggest problem of the season. They needed a second power source, one that wouldn't bite them in the OBP butt like Encarnacion. They have found him in Werth.

The Dodgers have three emerging problems, however.

The first is Beltre's health. If he doesn't play, every single day, the offense goes Amish, with everyone turning back hopelessly to Green to raise the barn.

The second is that conventional wisdom will tell them to place "proven RBI man" Encarnacion back in the lineup when he comes off the disabled list - at the expense of Werth.

The third is that because of a dearth of impact talent available on the trade market, it is unclear what moves Paul DePodesta should make - in a race in which he has little margin for error. And the internal (let alone external) grief he might take for standing pat could be, well, implosive (let alone explosive).

And yet ...

For all of the Dodgers' ragtag qualities in this 2004 season, for all of the problems they face, the jazziest, most artful defense you'll ever see has a chance to play on the October stage.

There have been some drop-dead awful numbers in the Think Blue All-Star Summertime Variety Revue Power Hour, but when you look at what's on other channels, you realize that these kids have done a plucky job. Future episodes could be truly entertaining.

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