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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
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I Don't Know - Third Base
2005-03-29 20:13
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

It's all well and good that the Dodgers bonded during a team meeting initiated by Jeff Kent and Milton Bradley, as Steve Henson writes in Wednesday's Times, but the second notebook item was a bit like going outside to get the morning paper and having the locked door close behind you: Jim Tracy doesn't think Antonio Perez is ready to play third base.

Though Tom Meagher of The Fourth Outfielder is sanguine enough about Jose Valentin, I have my reservations. To be clear, I don't think Valentin is hopeless, just that I think he is a player in pretty serious decline, one that will be perhaps the weakest hitter in the infield. The more he plays, the more I feel the wind whistling at my bathrobe.

Fortunately, this should solve itself as the season goes on as 1) the Dodgers revert to 11 pitchers and test out Norihiro Nakamura and 2) Tracy gains more confidence in Perez at the hot corner. But it could make for some chilly legs in the season's wee hours.

Henson also passed along a third item, which is that the Dodgers have convinced Hee Seop Choi to try to hit home runs. In this Spring Training, I've read about two things that go directly against baseball lessons I've been taught for years: a player (Eric Gagne) purposely altering his mechanics as he comes back from an injury and a player trying to hit home runs instead of line drives (that will become home runs).

Look, I'm not beyond believing that Choi could benefit from being less selective, nor am I certainly beyond believing hitting coach Tim Wallach after his success with Adrian Beltre in 2004. But are we so sure that Choi's mental approach was so wrong? Not a rhetorical question - I'm asking. Every generalization has its exceptions, but these are testing me.

Back inside the house I go...

* * *

Update: Wilson Alvarez is headed for the disabled list to start the season, according to Ken Gurnick at MLB.com. That opens up room for not only Kelly Wunsch and D.J. Houlton to start the season in Los Angeles, but Ryan Rupe or Buddy Carlyle as well. (Of course, the quintessential 25th man, Brooks Kieschnick, is now available - not to mention former Dodger first-round pick Ben Diggins, who went to Milwaukee 2 1/2 years ago in the Tyler Houston trade.)

Update 2: Comments have already begun on Hideo Nomo backing into the Devil Rays rotation and the sale of Dave Ross to Pittsburgh. Adding to Ross' sadness is this from The Associated Press: "It is uncertain how Ross fits into the Pirates' plans since they will start the season with Benito Santiago and Humberto Cota in Pittsburgh and have prospects Ryan Doumit, Ronny Paulino and Neil Walker, their first-round draft pick last season, in the minors."

Somehow, I never gave up on Ross. I wish him the best. Nomo too, of course.

Checking in on other ex-Dodgers ... It looks like Pedro Astacio will pitch for the Texas Rangers sometime this season, though he may start the year on the disabled list with a strained groin. ... Shades of 1999: Trenidad Hubbard, still going at it at age 38, was cut by the Houston Astros. ... Jason Romano too, by the Cincinnati Reds.

Update 3: Dodger fans know not to count on a full season from Dave Roberts, likeable as he is. The Padres are learning, according to the San Diego Union Tribune:

Padres center fielder and leadoff man Dave Roberts could open the season on the bench or the disabled list because of groin soreness that has lingered since March 12.

The Padres will re-evaulate Roberts, but after checking with him yesterday, manager Bruce Bochy said there's a "real good" chance that Xavier Nady will start in center in Monday's season opener at Colorado.

General Manager Kevin Towers said that Roberts, obtained in a winter trade primarily because of his base-stealing skill and quickness, could need extra time to ensure he returns at full speed. "If it's not 100 percent, we'll give him a couple of weeks to get it right," Towers said. "I don't want it to be lingering."

Comments (71)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2005-03-29 20:41:51
1.   Jerry
That quote by Choi is the most disturbing thing I've read all offseason, and we've had a heck of an offseason.

"I like walk, but I swing now," the Korean first baseman said without a translator. "Now I like swing. No more walk."

I wonder how DePodesta's taking this in.

2005-03-29 20:47:17
2.   Howard Fox
Different subject, but has anyone received their season tickets yet? We have called, been promised that they are on their way, and are still waiting...and the first game is in 4 days!
2005-03-29 20:50:21
3.   Jerry
Now that I've had a moment to digest that piece, I'll say that I too am not beyond believing that Wallach can help Choi improve his game. Even Choi admitted he had a "big problem." I think what Wallach is really trying to do is just build off of Choi's selectivity and help him hit those pitches he should be hitting a long way.

Isn't Olmedo Saenz the natural choice to platoon with Valentin? Or is Saenz' defense a liability as well?

2005-03-29 21:00:04
4.   Jim Hitchcock
Well, Nakamura did win a gold glove in Japan, for what it's worth. And I think it's pretty clear he has better offense.

Boy, do I ever agree with Jon. Instructing a batter to hit HR's is death.

2005-03-29 21:11:58
5.   dzzrtRatt
I agree that instructing a batter to hit HR's is a bad idea, but I just read the item in the Times, and that's not what it says. According to the story, Choi's being asked to swing a little more freely, and try to drive the ball. Wallach is adjusting his mechanics. The only quote that relates to Jon's fear is Choi's quote that "Today I tried to hit a homer," the key word being "today." And, of course he was saying this after having hit a homer.

Choi's walks boost his OBP, but you need power from a corner outfielder, not someone who can only get on first, and only move another runner to second. His ability to get walks speaks to his familiarity with the strike zone--a good thing. But he shouldn't be shackled by it.

2005-03-29 21:24:57
6.   Bob Timmermann
I recall Steve Garvey being told to hit more home runs and he came out OK.

But Garvey never had much plate discipline.

In 1976, he had 13 HRs w/ 50 BB and 69 Ks.
In 1977, he had 33 HRs w/ 38 BB and 90 Ks.

50 BBs was Garvey's single season high for him.

Choi had 63 BBs last year.

2005-03-29 21:35:48
7.   Dodgerkid
When I read that I had a stroke, but then I realized, if Chen does poorly, he'll just switch back to what he is known for, which is waiting. It might even confuse the pitching against him.
2005-03-29 21:42:48
8.   Eric Enders
My reaction to the Choi quote was the same as Jerry's -- it's the scariest thing I've read all spring training. Wallach seems to have some talent as a hitting coach, but I can't see how pulling a Mickey Hatcher with a naturally selective hitter is ever a good thing.
2005-03-29 22:03:08
9.   Jon Weisman
Howard, the family tickets arrived at my Dad's. Is your situation a Dodger problem or a problem with UPS or whoever is delivering them?
2005-03-29 22:32:39
10.   Eric Enders
Picking up Kieschnick would be awesome, and not just because we went to the same school.
2005-03-29 22:55:03
11.   molokai
Howard I've had mine for several weeks. If they have been sent by the Dodgers you should have a UPS tracking number.

Let it fly Hee Sop, Let it fly
Make Plaschke cry
When you let it fly
Make Depodesta look sly
When you let it fly
Won't be a dry eye in the Dodger house
When you let it fly

2005-03-29 23:01:49
12.   Jim Hitchcock
Well, I suppose we can give you points for effort, Molokai...
2005-03-29 23:58:29
13.   Suffering Bruin
My reaction to the Choi quote is the same as dzzrtRatt's. An insane hitting coach would recommend hitting homers over being selective. Wallach does not strike me as insane.
--------------------------------------------
Today's fact of Choi, SB's favorite player, 2005:

Choi was the National League Rookie of the Month in April 2003 (.241/.431/.556). He cooled off a bit but had fine numbers heading into a June 7 game with the Yankees. In the top of the fourth, Jason Giambi hit a high popup toward third. The Cubs were playing a lefty shift so third baseman Lenny Harris had no play. Choi and Kerry Wood chased after the popup. They were both running hard and there was a bright sun in the sky. They collided, Choi hit the back of his head on the dirt and was knocked colder than absolute zero.

Lenny Harris said Choi held onto the ball but after hitting the ground, Choi's eyes rolled back into his head. Kerry Wood had this to say: "I've never seen anything like that when I've been on the field. To see a teammate just lying there helpless and knocked out, it was scary." After a time, Choi was able to squeeze the fingers of the trainer. During the 17-minute delay, an ambulance came on to the field to take Choi to a hospital. His replacement on the field? Eric Karros.

Baseball Almanac said the collision probably cost Choi a ROY. After the concussion, he was never the same player for the rest of 2003. Dusty Baker, who always had an affinity for the vets, came to trust Karros. Choi's 65 at-bats in the month of May were two more than he got the last three months of the season. He was traded that November to Florida for Derek Lee.

2005-03-30 00:26:28
14.   Tommy Naccarato
Bob, Nice to see you on the bus in Phoenix! :)
2005-03-30 00:36:38
15.   fanerman91
How has Choi's discipline been lately? Has he been walking less? I haven't paid enough attention to actually count.

I think it's too early to judge anything, and for now we should give Wallach (who seems to be a pretty good hitting coach) and Choi the benefit of the doubt. Choi is young and is still trying to find the balance between patience and aggressiveness. I don't think we should overreact if he teeters too far on either side over the course of the season. Besides, DePodesta probably isn't going to be shy about having a word with Wallach if he thinks he's "destroying" Choi.

2005-03-30 04:10:31
16.   Langhorne
I think the advice to Choi is right on. He's proven that he has a good eye but walks are not the only reason for being selective. Really you want to work the count to where it is favorable to the batter. On a 3-1 count you want the batter looking for a pitch he can drive. The pitcher doesn't want to give up walks so you're likely to get something over the plate. You still have the opportunity for a free pass if the pitches aren't to your liking. I don't want to put a player down for getting a lot of walks but I think there's more to being disciplined at the plate than working a walk. Steve Finley is great at this. He's a very disciplined hitter. Choi had a big walk down the stretch last year but Finley had much bigger at bats using the same skill.
2005-03-30 07:10:31
17.   Sam DC
I was watching the Choi collision Cubs game with my 2 1/2 year old. He was horrified and keep saying "he went bang" over and over while Choi lied there motionless on the field. Then he started asking if Choi was dead. After a while, you could hear what sounded like the whole crowd chanting "Hee Seop Choi," so we joined them, which made the whole thing a little more fun. When the ambulance came, my son actually cried and he kept asking for weeks if "the man" was OK, until I finally found a clip on the internet somewhere of Choi playing to assuage him. It really was scary.

Not as scary as "Now I like swing. No more walk.", but scary.

2005-03-30 07:15:36
18.   Eric Enders
#s 15 and 16 -- tremendous points, both.
2005-03-30 07:38:32
19.   Eric Enders
CLEARWATER, Florida (AP) - Hideo Nomo has earned a spot in the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' pitching rotation.

Nomo locked up the fifth and final spot in the rotation Tuesday despite giving up 11 hits, including three home runs, in 4 1-3 innings in the Devil Rays' 5-4 win over Philadelphia.

``I'm pleased with his effort this spring,'' Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said of the right-hander. ``He worked hard and he earned it. He has the experience we need for our rotation.''

Nomo, 36, who did not figure in the decision, beat out left-hander Casey Fossum, 27, and joins Dewon Brazelton, Scott Kazmir, Mark Hendrickson and Rob Bell in the rotation.

2005-03-30 08:06:49
20.   Ben P
Going back to the 3B discussion, do we know if Nakamura will actually be on the opening-day roster? I don't think I've seen an update in awhile
2005-03-30 08:22:21
21.   Gold Star for Robot Boy

"VERO BEACH, Fla. -- The Dodgers on Wednesday traded catcher David Ross to the Pittsburgh Pirates for cash considerations, believed to be about $75,000."

Wow. What an ignominious end to Ross' stay in Los Angeles.

2005-03-30 08:24:40
22.   Eric L
I was just gonna post that GSfRB..

Here's the tiny url if anyone is interested:

http://tinyurl.com/5uq5l

2005-03-30 08:32:59
23.   Eric Enders
You know, if all we Dodger Thoughts posters had pooled our resources, we probably could've afforded to buy David Ross. Anyone need a butler?
2005-03-30 08:38:33
24.   Sam DC
I wish Ross well. I secretly believed he would have a much better year this year. No support for that once-secret belief; just one of those things that starts as a hope and morphs into a belief through the natural process of fan-ness.
2005-03-30 09:02:01
25.   Sam DC
Also, while we're tossing links about, there's a short history of the Dodgers/Giants rivalry in today's Wash Post (special section on whether the Orioles and Nationals will ever be true rivals). It's not great, but it does contain a few gems like this one: "The Giant's Little Napoleon and the Dodgers' Uncle Wilbert went at it tooth and nail through the 1931 season." I mean, we've got Coco Crisp and all, but baseball names have definitely gone downhill.



http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A8285-2005Mar28.html

2005-03-30 09:22:43
26.   Ben P
On Choi, this quote from Ken Gurnick's story is much more reassuring than the one that was in the Times:

"Last week, I [thought] too much," Choi said. "I'm more aggressive now. I like to walk, but I want to swing now. The pitcher throws good pitch, I swing. Last time I look. Now I look to swing at strike. I try to be more aggressive in hitter's spots."

2005-03-30 09:50:29
27.   Eric Enders
Incidentally, the trade of Ross now means that the top four catchers in the Dodger organization (Phillips, Bako, Navarro, Rose) were all acquired this offseason. That's gotta be some kind of record.
2005-03-30 09:53:40
28.   Icaros
While I have argued the merits of Valentin at third for awhile now, most recently with Molokai, let me just say again that this was only in the context of a platoon situation. If he faces LH pitching on a regular basis, all bets are off for me.

I also think Wallach may be getting too much credit. I've never been convinced that he was the guy who "cured" Adrian Beltre. How can anyone really know that? He hasn't been at the job long enough to merit that type of support. Colborn, on the other hand, has done some impressive things with pitcher reclamation projects over the past few seasons, so I do think he's probably a good coach. Wish he could get Edwin Jackson going, though.

I'm afraid the combination of the LA media and the coaching staff's apparent desire to chase HR and BA totals with Hee Seop Choi is going to ruin him. What is this, the Angels organization? If the guy can draw more walks than anybody and hit doubles and HRs, why mess with him? He seemed to be doing fine this spring. Now I hear him swinging at first pitches and flying out on the radio, and it makes me ill. We'll see what happens, but I'm getting scared.

2005-03-30 10:00:57
29.   Jon Weisman
Ben, Nakamura will not begin the season in Los Angeles, but presumably will be the first position player called up from the minors.
2005-03-30 10:40:36
30.   Bob Timmermann
I glanced at Plaschke's column today about the Lakers and their decline and he mentioned that one season ticket holder said that he had been billed $160,000 for the PLAYOFFS.

That would be for a maximum of 16 games (or with the Lakers this year a maximum of 12 games.) Apparently, such a price is not as remarkable if it is for 83 baseball games.

2005-03-30 10:47:30
31.   Jim Hitchcock
Damn. I would hope for that kind of money he would be invited to sit on the bench and act as asst. coach, or sumptin.
2005-03-30 10:48:32
32.   gvette
1)Roberts is most effective with a good platoon partner(Grissom). Without a good partner and lacking good health, and with miles of CF to cover at Petco, the Padres may get nostalgic for Jay Payton;

2)While Spring BA are usually meaningless, buried in the Choi story is the fact he's only hitting .217 in 46 AB. OBP is great, but who is going to drive him in from the 8 or 9 hole in the lineup? Time for Kent to break in the 1B glove.

3)I guess we were all delusional about Ross' abilities if at best he is a back up AAA catcher for the Pirates. 2003 must seem a lifetime away for Dave right about now.

4)Bet we see Nakamura in Dodger Blue before Mother's Day.

5)Add Harold Reynolds to the list of ESPN talking heads ripping the Dodgers. He must be spending too much time hanging out with Steve Phillips in Bristol. As for Phillips, only ESPN is arrogant enough to think that the opinion of someone who actually traded for Mo Vaughn is worth hearing.

2005-03-30 10:49:02
33.   Eric Enders
Oscar Robles batted a jaw-dropping .382/.473/.552 in the Class AAA Mexican League last year. With the knowledge that he'll go back to Mexico if he doesn't make the 25-man roster, is he worth keeping around?
2005-03-30 10:50:04
34.   Jim Hitchcock
As per Icaros' statement, I would frankly just give Wallach credit for NOT BEING JACK CLARK!
2005-03-30 10:59:44
35.   Mark
David Ross for $75k? I dunno, $1200 per hit seems awfully steep...
2005-03-30 11:18:36
36.   bigcpa
Choi just swung and missed 3-0! Ahhhhh!!!!
2005-03-30 11:24:45
37.   Eric Enders
Seems like Houlton may well have pitched his way onto the team today. Will he be the mop-up man all year?
2005-03-30 11:30:28
38.   bigcpa
Long HR for Valentin!

Did anyone hear Steiner/Lyons talking about Guzman this inning? Steiner said he watched Guzman face Billingsley and hit a few bombs. When was this?

2005-03-30 11:33:58
39.   Im So Blue
I believe the deal with Robles is that he'll go back to the Mexican League, with the understanding that if the Dodgers want him back, they can purchase his contract.
2005-03-30 11:34:18
40.   Icaros
"While Spring BA are usually meaningless, buried in the Choi story is the fact he's only hitting .217 in 46 AB. OBP is great, but who is going to drive him in from the 8 or 9 hole in the lineup?"

That's why Tracy would be a moron to bat him 8th and Repko (who has nothing but a decent BA) second.

"Time for Kent to break in the 1B glove."

It'll be awhile before that happens, if ever.

2005-03-30 11:39:38
41.   Jim Hitchcock
Icaros is correct. After Choi, you have Saenz and Nakamura, IMO better than Jackson at second
with Kent at first.
2005-03-30 11:42:24
42.   Icaros
Perez, Jim?

I don't think we should give up on Edwin as a pitcher just yet.

2005-03-30 11:43:20
43.   Eric Enders
Though the dude can hit, as we all know.
2005-03-30 11:47:53
44.   Jim Hitchcock
I have a way with beating up on myself, don't I?
2005-03-30 11:49:43
45.   Jim Hitchcock
Bob T, will you please bring me a program from the home opener?
2005-03-30 12:14:07
46.   molokai
Icaros we were only arguing who was better, Alphonso or Valentin going into 2005.

Everytime Valentin makes an error this year it will be the 1st thing they show on Baseball Tonight if the Dodgers lose. They will fail to mention it when we win and he makes an error. That is my baseball prediction for the year. Oh and Choi will hit 29 bombs and lead the Dodgers in home runs not because anything Wallach did but because that is his talent level.

2005-03-30 12:15:45
47.   Eric Enders
Rupe getting torched -- Buddy Carlyle must be loving this.
2005-03-30 12:18:48
48.   Jeromy
To add to gvette's comment #32, add ESPN's morning radio host Colin Cowherd to the list of those in the media who are saying the Dodgers can't win this year. On my commute to work this morning I was listening to Colin's argument that Tracy will be fired this year because the expectations are higher than the reality with the Dodgers, mostly because off season moves that broke up the team's chemistry. He said the overall pitching is suspect, and he specifically called out Kent as a guy who damages clubhouse relationships. He argued that all the listeners should call Vegas and bet the under on 82 wins. Personally, I think 82-80 should not be a problem for this team. I would be inclined to bet the over.
2005-03-30 12:21:34
49.   Eric Enders
Then on the other side of the coin, there's this thread over at Baseball Think Factory, where about 100 people, almost unanimously, have picked the Dodgers to win the division.

http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/primer/discussion/27153/

2005-03-30 12:22:14
50.   Bob Timmermann
I haven't bought a program at Dodger Stadium in years. I'm one of those guys who brings his own scorebook.

But should I be taking orders?

As for Colin Cowherd, he has asserted that the Pac-10 isn't a good basketball conference because it doesn't have an ESPN contract. Did you know that signing a contract with ESPN automatically improves the level of basketball talent. If the Pac-10 had signed a contract with ESPN, I suppose Salim Stoudamire would have shot better against Illinois and Hassan Adams would have made the shot at the end of the game and Arizona would have made fewer turnovers.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2005-03-30 12:24:07
51.   Jeromy
Back on topic: I know I haven't taken Jon's pledge, yet having listened to some of the spring training games, I haven't been impressed with Antonio Perez. He seems like he needs more seasoning at AAA. In my opinion Nakamura and Valetin should play 3rd.

I'm sad to see Ross go, but I also feel the Dodgers gave him every opportunity to be successful, and he just didn't get it done.

I am really pleased to hear that Nomo will be in a starting rotation this year. He has always been one of my favorite players and it is great to see him rebound from last year's distaster.

Houlton pitched well today. Rupe was awful. Steiner is touting Carlyle. The spots on the staff seem to be settling themselves.

2005-03-30 12:24:44
52.   Jeromy
O.K. so, Carlyle just gave up a 2-run homer. I may have spoke too soon.
2005-03-30 12:49:49
53.   Eric Enders
By the way, it appears that the same thing is going on in Oakland with a tatented young hitter:

"Nick Swisher hit a three-run homer in the fifth. Macha thinks Swisher's high strikeout total (23) is because he takes so many first-pitch strikes, and he said, "I told him if he gets his pitch, to go ahead and hit it, be a little more aggressive.'' ... "

2005-03-30 13:02:53
54.   db1022
"it appears that the same thing is going on in Oakland with a tatented young hitter"

Can't you just hear the phone conversation between Depodesta and Beane:

Depo: "These managers are killing us. They should mind their own business and let these guys do what they do. They're messing with my algorithms."

Beane: "Yep, you may as well ask them to bunt."

2005-03-30 13:48:32
55.   Paul B
Jeromy, it might be overstating things a bit to say Ross had every opportunity to be successful. Compare his 300 big league at bats (probably fewer than half of which came as the everyday starter, and those in the midst of an intense playoff race) with the 2500+ ABs Beltre got, all as a regular before he broke out. Of course I would never compare the two as players. Presumably the differential treatment is based in large part on the perceived potential of Messrs Beltre and Ross. And Ross certainly could have seized the job in the limited opportunities he did have. But I certainly feel for the guy, and hope he has a chance to show 2003 wasn't a complete fluke. Just not against the Dodgers, please.
2005-03-30 14:28:34
56.   alex 7
I wonder if there was anything character-wise that led to Ross being shown the door. Obviously his hitting woes were the main factor, but re-reading Jon's comments earlier this year...

"He struggled in the plate and behind the plate," Tavares said. "He was not popular at all with Licey fans."

Just curious about his behavior with the fans and if it might have carried over to any clubhouse problems.

Also on the earlier comment about Colborn fixing Jackson, Jackson needs to do well in AAA to get called up and have the chance at working with Colborn on a daily basis. It's not that Colborn hasn't improved Jackson, it's that he hasn't seen him at the big league level long enough to develop him.

2005-03-30 14:36:28
57.   Eric Enders
Paul B,
How did you do that boldface type? I've tried to use html tags on Toaster with no success...
2005-03-30 14:54:59
58.   Jon Weisman
Put asterisks on either side of the word. Easier than HTML!
2005-03-30 15:02:15
59.   molokai
who knew
2005-03-30 15:26:14
60.   Icaros
I'd wondered the same thing but had been too shy to ask.

Thanks for biting the bullet, Eric.

This is fun.

2005-03-30 15:45:39
61.   Jim Hitchcock
Dang. I thought all you had to do what backspace and type over it...
2005-03-30 15:53:08
62.   Eric Enders
Sweet. Thanks.
2005-03-30 15:58:02
63.   Eric L
"He struggled in the plate and behind the plate," Tavares said. "He was not popular at all with Licey fans."

I'm thinking he wasn't popular with the fans because he wasn't very good in his short time with Licey. Being a big goofy white guy from GA probably didn't help either.

2005-03-30 16:03:58
64.   Bob Timmermann
Now everything I say will have much more importance. Behold the power of my boldface commenting!
2005-03-30 16:10:45
65.   alex 7
Robles 3-3 in today's game. Grabowski has been swinging it well lately. Guessing he's locked up his roster spot.

Wunsch pitched well again. Houlton 4 scoreless innings. Brazoban strikes out 2 in 1 inning. Valentin and Nakamura with 2 rbis. I know it's only spring, but I'm as excited about our GM as I am about any player.

2005-03-30 16:12:43
66.   aloofman
A little late to this thread, but I'll try to catch up...

1) I specifically remember that game when Choi got the concussion at Wrigley Field. He was fielding a high pop-up and fell backwards, his head hitting the dirt along the third base line. It looked a lot worse than it turned out to be and the game was delayed for quite a while for the ambulance to take him off as a precaution. I was watching that game because Clemens was going for his 300th win that day. He didn't get it because Eric Karros hit a 3-run homer to give the Cubs their final lead. Karros had replaced Choi in the lineup.

2) I don't recall hearing that Ross was unpopular on the team. He was the union rep for a while, I think. And I have to say I was impressed by his forthrightness regarding his hitting woes over the last year. He blamed no one but himself and acknowledged that he wasn't playing well enough to earn playing time.

3) Wallach seems to be popular with the players, and that might be the best function a hitting coach can serve. The year that Clark was the hitting coach was the Dodgers' worst offensive season in memory, so his replacement was bound to do better. Several Dodger hitters had nowhere to go but up, and they did go up. I got the feeling that Beltre matured quite a bit before last season and -- combined with his bad foot -- he was able to keep his weight back to improve his swing. Maybe Wallach convinced him to lay off those low-and-away pitches he used to flail at, but that was such an obvious hole in his swing that everybody must have been telling him that for years before that. If Wallach found a way to get through to him on that point, then he should get some credit.

4) The BTF guys' optimism about the Dodgers seems a bit self-serving to me. They tend to be statheads, so they want to see DePo's methods succeed against the conventional-wisdom naysayers. I think they have an intellectual bias in favor of the Dodgers and A's, as opposed to our emotional bias. I think the Dodgers will contend for the division, but I also think that those guys want to believe it a little TOO much.

5) I'm puzzled as to why there's still so much optimism on Edwin Jackson. Granted, he's young and cheap, so he can struggle for quite a while before he stops being worth LA's while. But ever since that major league debut vs. the Big Unit, I haven't been that impressed by his progress. By this I don't mean that he's been disappointing because it's very rare that such a young pitcher would even be a major league prospect. I just haven't seen enough good outings by Jackson to convince me that he's ready to join the big club's rotation.

2005-03-30 16:16:11
67.   Colorado Blue
How 'bout Ryne Sandberg's conclusion about the NL West for '05... This is definitely worth bolding lest we forget these immortal words:

With a second surgery on his right knee, Barry Bonds' situation is now up in the air. If he comes back well before the All-Star break and he's ready to go, then the Giants will win the division. If he's gone for longer than that, the Padres could win the National League West.

I'm shocked and appalled!

2005-03-30 18:14:38
68.   Eric L
I'm puzzled as to why there's still so much optimism on Edwin Jackson.

It's probably because he has a total of 365 IP as a pro and he reportedly has really good stuff.

He still isn't ready for prime time yet, but we must remember, he wasn't a full-time pitcher until he was drafted by the Dodgers.

2005-03-30 18:16:37
69.   Gold Star for Robot Boy
I prefer to make my point quietly.
2005-03-30 23:08:54
70.   Paul B
Yikes. I've created a monster.
2005-03-31 21:02:52
71.   bill cox
Where and how is Ben Diggins availible.Did he get waived by the Brewers?(Not a sign of optimism there)
Eric Enders:Isn't Russell Martin ahead of Mike Rose and Bako on our catcher hierarchy even though they're playing at a higher level?

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