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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
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5) discussing politics
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Pipp-in'
2004-07-19 12:00
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Of course, I don't want to see the Dodgers bench Jayson Werth. I say this for unselfish reasons - because the team has been winning with him in the lineup. And I say this for selfish reasons - he, along with Adrian Beltre, are the two players that I diagnosed high hopes for early in the season, that I felt were legit beyond their hot starts.

Werth has been a revelation. Talk all you want about how minor a trade this seemed in March and how unproven he is, but I think anyone would take this production, even if it's only for 92 plate appearances: 1.076 OPS overall, 1.089 vs. lefties, 1.058 vs. righties, 1.047 at home, 1.106 on the road. Even a healthy dropoff will leave Werth, who is within six weeks of sharing a birthday with Beltre, at better than average.

Juan Encarnacion had a pretty great month of June himself - .905 OPS. But that's not as good as Werth, and Encarnacion is a candidate for a dropoff as well. Like Shawn Green, Encarnacion has labrum issues. Eleven days ago, Will Carroll wrote:

The MRI on Juan Encarnacion showed that he needs surgery to repair a torn labrum and an impingement in his left shoulder. Now, the question is when he'll have that surgery. Encarnacion will play through the pain, hoping to stay productive and have the shoulder fixed in the off-season. With the Dodgers in contention but short on power, this is a tough decision for the team. Watch how he's used and if his power numbers suffer.

If it requires Encarnacion - who probably is beside himself to have missed out on the Arizona pitching the past weekend - to return to the lineup with a subpar performance for Jim Tracy to navigate the psychologically tricky "you don't lose your job through injury" Wally Pipp waters, so be it.

The risk is that Werth could fall out of his groove. But right now, there are four lineup spots for Werth, Encarnacion, Green, Dave Roberts, Milton Bradley and even Jason Grabowski. Given the health concerns about the middle four of this group, there may be plenty of playing time to go around.

The days remain precious - make no mistake. It's now the Giants' turn to pick at Arizona's carcass, while the Dodgers travel to Houston to face a team that still has a fighting chance. Let's put it this way - I'd be loath to take Werth, the Dodgers' top hitter in July, out of the lineup at all, but I'm going to be tolerant in the short term.

Maybe I'm feeling more forgiving because of how angry I was at Tracy when he sent Robin Ventura up to pinch-hit for Roberts on Friday. That the move worked heroically doesn't make it right, but it does perhaps earn Tracy - riding the thin line between candidate for termination or Manager of the Year - even more faith with regards to how he works the entire 25-man roster. Remember, he's the manager who's had faith in Werth and Roberts to begin with.

* * *

From Baseball Prospectus: Value Over Replacement Level: The Odalis Perez Trade

Odalis Perez VORP with Dodgers
2002 45.2
2003 9.3
2004 31.3 (to date)
Subtotal: 85.8

Brian Jordan VORP with Dodgers
2002 24.2
2003 16.5
Subtotal: 40.7

Gary Sheffield VORP with Braves:
2002 46.5
2003 79.3
Subtotal: 125.8

Dodger Total: 126.5 (to date)
Braves Total: 125.8

The totals don't include the fractional share of Milton Bradley that can be attributed to Andrew Brown, who came to Los Angeles with Perez and went to Cleveland for Bradley as a player to be named later.

* * *

Thursday, I made the following comment about Joe Thurston: "His fall from his 2002 season will go in the textbook of Dodger prospect disappointments. It seems like it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy."

At least one reader read this statement in the sarcastic tone it is often used, but which I did not intend. I meant it sincerely; Joe seems like a truly nice guy. I apologize for any misunderstanding.

* * *

Tonight's Game

Chin-Feng Chen has now appeared in 10 major league games and spent countless days on the roster without a hit. Nuts.

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