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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
6) using hyperbole when something less will suffice
7) using sarcasm in a way that can be misinterpreted negatively
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2005 Dodger Preview
2005-04-03 23:05
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Or close enough, courtesy of the invitation I received from The Hardball Times to look at the upcoming Dodger season using their five-question format. Read it there, comment on it here.

Comments
2005-04-03 23:29:21
1.   Jerry
Great stuff, Jon, as usual. I'll say that if your first two predictions are correct (re Penny and Drew), and the rest of the squad comes close to matching their 2004 performances, we'll run away with the division. If real-world Lowe performs as well as DePo's theoretical Lowe, we have a team that can go deep into the postseason.

So, basically, IMHO the team's success is dangerously dependent on the health of two question marks: Drew and Penny.

2005-04-03 23:29:54
2.   Jonathan
Holy Cow, thats a funny article. Even my girlfriend is laughing is she hears way too much about the Dodgers to think anything about them is funny.

A Choi is just a Choi!

2005-04-04 02:07:02
3.   m-unit
Great stuff as always.
2005-04-04 02:35:02
4.   GoBears
Echo echo! Great job. "Will they do more than vaunt?" I'm still chuckling.

I'd say that, substantively, you make the very cautious case. Things COULD be a lot better than you warn they might be. But I think they are less likely to be substantially worse than you warn. If your projection of 80-100 implies a central tendency of 90, then I'd take the over. Especially now that all the kids go back to the minors, and stop setting such a bad, ball-dropping example for guys like Paul "oops!" Bako.

Over at The Fourth Outfielder, Tom put together an analysis of all the activity since DePo started dealing last year, as though it were all one huge trade, and does a pretty good job at showing just how well DePo has done, position by position - with the Beltre/Drew tradeoff a separate matter.

One small question: Did you mean to say that Kent will look awkward compared to Izturis (as you wrote) or compared to Cora, the guy he replaced? Either way is probably correct, but I just wasn't sure which point you were after.

2005-04-04 03:48:35
5.   Langhorne
Jon, you seem to gloss over the fact that DePodesta ripped the heart and soul out of this team because he is a Godless, commie, terrorist, candy-stealer who spits on old people and hates sunshine. Oh wait, are we being rational and well thought out? It's so freaking nice to read an honest, level-headed analysis after being exposed to several buckets full of Chicken Littles.
2005-04-04 05:41:56
6.   Suffering Bruin
Langhorne, it's only after I recovered from spitting out hot tea from laughing that I could write this post.

DePodesta is a lover of Ayn Rand and studied under a conservative speech writer. How come we call him with great humor a commie terrorist instead of an elitist ogre? Because ironically a man known for his reason and keeping his emotions in check (see Henson article in LAT) is being viewed as baseball's equivalent to Che Guevara.

2005-04-04 05:46:49
7.   Suffering Bruin
Well, I just read Jon's article after posting above. I don't mean to embarrass Jon but if I were a sports editor, I'd hire him with the contractual caveat that no matter how well he does, my job stays secure.
2005-04-04 07:38:32
8.   Doug N
just for kicks...

Dodgers 2007 preview:
Navarro, Choi, A. Perez, Izturis, Guzman, Werth, Bradley, Drew....
Penny, O. Perez, Weaver, Lowe, Billingsley, Jackson....

i almost can't wait. and, seriously, i actually see a plan at work here.

2005-04-04 09:00:49
9.   Bob Timmermann
* vaunt, v. Now rhet. or arch.
1. intr. To boast or brag; to use boastful, bragging, or vainglorious language.
Fairly common c 1600; now rare or Obs. *

I was wondering why we never use "vaunt" as a verb anymore. And "vaunt" and "taunt" come from different sources. Go figure...

I think April will be a slow month for the Dodgers with some players out with injuries, but I think DePodesta will be able to shut out L.A.'s version of the nattering nabobs of negativism until the team gets healthy.

2005-04-04 09:14:36
10.   Jesse
I think April is going to look a lot like spring- plus or minus .500 baseball. I also find it hard to see much pressure letting up on Depo by the mainstream press, ever, really.
2005-04-04 09:23:52
11.   walbers
yes, brilliantly written...and doesn't take into account that there will likely be some sort of mid-season acquisitions or personnel changes that will improve the team. i'm looking forward to the season...
2005-04-04 09:46:11
12.   scareduck
I loved the "lightning rod store" crack. Too damn funny.
2005-04-04 10:26:54
13.   blue horseshoe
Not thinking blue yet?

http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/multimedia/tp_archive.jsp?c_id=la

Oct 2....

2005-04-04 10:39:16
14.   dlt2
The key line in your analysis is that the Dodgers will win somewhere between 80 and 100 games. It's that uncertainty that leads some people_and not just smart-aleck sportscasters_to question whether Depodesta has a viable plan.
Sure, I can see a method in many of his moves, but it's tough to defend the excessive contract for Lowe, the two-year out for Drew and the signing at any price of Valentin. For every move he makes that makes sense, there's a contradiction.
But here's my biggest complaint, and one I'd welcome comment on: last July Depodesta correctly determined that the Dodgers' biggest problem was their lack of a dominant pitcher, a true ace.
The trade with Florida was intended to set up the acquisition of Randy Johnson. That didn't work out, but the Dodgers were left with Penny, not an ace, but a pitcher with post-season experience. Then he went down and we still don't know today if he ever will pitch again.
In the off season, a number of top pitchers changed teams, and DePodesta missed out of every one of them. To me, that was a huge failing. Imagine how strong the same team today would be if instead of Lowe as our starting pitcher Tuesday, we had Johnson, Radke, Hudson, Martinez or one of the other top pitchers who were available?
2005-04-04 10:47:18
15.   Bob Timmermann
The Greatest Pitcher for the Dodgers in the Past 20 Years (as some would have us believe) gave up home runs to Dmitri Young and Brandon Inge in the second inning and the Royals are down to the Tigers 3-0.

Lima's shutout in the playoffs was a gem, but I'm not going to miss him.

2005-04-04 10:55:18
16.   Wayne Wei-siang Hsieh
Johnson seemed to only want to go to the Yanks.

Radke seemed to only really want to stay in Seattle.

I agree on Hudson--I wish DePo had found a way to get it done. I think it would've taken Werth to do it, though. The rumor I heard was that DePo was trying to work a three-way to exchange Choi for Rios who would then go to Oakland with Jackson. Toronto wanted no part of it, and our only legit OF is Werth. For Hudson, I would've given up Werth and EJ, but this is a pretty debatable point.

Martinez. Did you really want to give Pedro what the Mets gave him? It was, what, 53 mil/4 ys.? I think Pedro will have two good years, and perhaps two the Mets will regret, but if you don't like the Valentin signing, how can you like the Pedro contract?

I'd take Clement over OP in all due honesty, but the simple reality is that the free agent SP market was pretty thin.

Anyhow, with regards to Jon's piece, I thought it was wonderfully sane. Poor DePo really has become too much of a larger symbol for the so-called feud between Moneyball statheads and old-school scouts. His own stated goal is to combine traditional and "new-age" methods, and his retention of Logan Whit as the draft guru seems to support that. Sure, he's definitely more radical than conservative, in the baseball rather than political sense, but some of this over-wrought coverage from the mainline media and statheads become over-done and over-hyped.

All that being said, I think DePo will be a good GM and will be able to build the dynasty that Baseball Prospectus predicts. A lot of that will have to do with Dan Evans and Logan White's reconstruction of the farm, but I think DePo will also deserve a lot of credit.

WWSH

2005-04-04 10:55:29
17.   blue horseshoe
Lima- 2HRs allowed so far....nice
2005-04-04 10:57:33
18.   Bob Timmermann
I think you meant Minnesota for Radke.
2005-04-04 11:01:34
19.   blue horseshoe
make that 3hr in 3 innings....royal blues...
2005-04-04 11:05:47
20.   Wayne Wei-siang Hsieh
Thanks, Bob, I think I was thinking Seattle because Radke's on my fantasy squad and Radke's pitching against them today.

3 HR by Lima. Yikes. Not a huge surprise, though.

WWSH

2005-04-04 11:11:17
21.   Bob Timmermann
Lima can give up home runs in even the biggest of parks to the weakest of hitters.
Brandon Inge isn't exactly the second coming of Mike Schmidt.
2005-04-04 11:18:59
22.   Mark
Ah, but is Lima's wife anywhere at the park? We demand closeups!
2005-04-04 11:59:00
23.   Icaros
Now it's time for Lima to do what he does best: grab a pom-pom.
2005-04-04 13:49:42
24.   LetsGoDodgers
Jon,

I completely agree on the quality of play from your player assessments in the article. I completely disagree on the quantity of play. I guess time will tell.

My question to the group is: does DePo get a pass for 2005 if the injury bug spends the season rotating through the marquee players in the clubhouse, ensuring we rarely, if ever, get to see the lineup card(s) DePo had in mind as the offseason came to a close?

--The commentor formerly known as Ben

2005-04-04 13:57:17
25.   alex 7
The Reds have one sick lineup. Griffey is batting 2nd, Sean Casey, Kearns, Dunn (who has two HRs and 5 rbi so far) and Randa fill out the 3-6 holes. No pen though.
2005-04-04 13:57:23
26.   aloofman
Did anyone see Olney's rankings on espn.com today? It's one thing to think that the Dodgers won't win the division, which is a defensible position. But to say that the Dodgers today are worse than Cleveland, Houston, Texas, and Baltimore? That they're just a bit better than Detroit, Seattle and Toronto?

Either the rest of the world has been brainwashed or we have been.

2005-04-04 14:01:29
27.   alex 7
I don't think Depo will want a pass. That's why we have above average outfield depth and talent. If your situation occurs, he'll make the necessary moves in June or earlier.

Jon, gonna get to update the estimated payroll and starting lineups before tomorrow? Sorry if you answered it somewhere else.

2005-04-04 14:04:24
28.   Bob Timmermann
Anytime Buster Olney writes about baseball, think two words:

Productive out

It was his beloved stat last year.

Last year the team that created the most productive outs on a percentage basis was Montreal (36.8% of opportunities).
The worst team was Boston.

Colorado (!!) was second, Pittsburgh was third and the Giants were fourth.

2005-04-04 14:27:26
29.   Wayne Wei-siang Hsieh
Re: injuries, I don't think DePo deserves a pass for the injury bug, because every GM should have the ability to anticipate and deal with those sort of problems, especially a team with a large payroll and strong farm system.

WWSH

2005-04-04 14:38:25
30.   Im So Blue
How about Nakamura & Oscar Robles? Are we making a mistake keeping Antonio Perez, Olmedo Saenz, Jose Valentin & Hee Sop Choi ahead of these guys?
2005-04-04 14:52:33
31.   alex 7
I think someone mentioned earlier that we have to keep Perez or else he is granted his release. Similarly, Nakamura will remain in the organization at AAA. Valentin and Choi are good players, not guys you're gonna release in the hopes of guys like Naka and Robles making it.

Just 23 more hours...

2005-04-04 15:10:28
32.   Langhorne
I think we've got depth in L.A. and Las Vegas, at least in the field. I'm still nervous about the rotation's over all health. But pitching is an ongoing concern for every team. His blue-blood credentials are the only thing I don't like about DePo. I'd rather he were Che. The other day I was trying to explain to a young person why someone might be offended at being called 'Boss'. I come from a long line of unionists who were proud of their working class status. My grandfather would have knock you on your butt if you called him 'Boss'. I.W.W. 1905-2005
2005-04-04 15:54:36
33.   aloofman
Che Guevara as Dodger GM? Hmm. If players didn't perform, he could just execute them!
2005-04-04 15:57:32
34.   Jim Hitchcock
So, how 'bout them Diamonb...uh, never mind.
2005-04-04 16:06:05
35.   gvette
"A kiss is still a kiss, A Choi is just a Choi."

Too bad every fifth day Elmer will be Elmer.

2005-04-04 16:38:37
36.   Icaros
Looks like Trevor Hoffman is overworked.
2005-04-04 16:39:39
37.   Icaros
And I'm glad Javier Vazquez didn't make that opening day start for the Dodgers.
2005-04-04 17:30:19
38.   Bob Timmermann
The Padres would never had lost if they hadn't gotten rid of Jay Witasick.

Too bad the Padres don't have Dave Roberts playing center. That Nady kid just doesn't produce the same kind of excitement as Roberts. All he did was hit 2 homers.

2005-04-04 18:43:28
39.   molokai
Gotta love walk off homers on opening day. Randa and Barmes two unlikely hero's for their respective teams.
As Icaros said, it was good to see Vazquez pitching for someone other then us. He was having a good spring until his last start and then this debacle.
2005-04-04 18:55:34
40.   Jim Hitchcock
The Rockies are in first! The Rockies are in First!
2005-04-04 20:49:41
41.   Bob Timmermann
The Rockies are off tomorrow. The DBacks play the Cubs again.

So, either the Dodgers and Giants will be tied for first in the NL West with the Rox.

The DBacks could be anywhere from 3rd to 5th.

The permutations are endless.

2005-04-05 01:23:09
42.   Strike4
Is there really any old or new school methodology that indicates excitement about the Dodger starting pitching? Based on opening night home run totals, the ball is probably more juiced than last year, so Lowe will be a good addition. Who would want any of the rest against a good team in a short series? Maybe they'll do passable for the regular season as do the A's (JW, anybody can make a prediction of 80-100 wins), but the Dodger goal should be rings. Being a passable team has always seemed to me to be the McCourt business proposition.

Is it Dodger fan-like to debauch former Dodgers who played their hearts out while here? Any day, I'd take Lima trying to cheerlead the team over a closed door meeting led by Kent and Bradley -- leading the team to what, more perjury or more national embarrassment?

I am concerned about the Depodesta/Beane comfort with high player turnover. My perception (any stat-heads to dispel this?) is their teams turn much faster than championship teams. By the way, how many rings does Billy have?

I still don't swallow the "can't afford to be a fan" strawman from Depodesta. Is Steinbrenner not one of the biggest Yankee fans? George simply demands winning, and quite obviously doesn't give fan-rationalizations that he has to live within the "modern realities" of an $87MM payroll. Who set that variable in the equation except some overleveraged owner?

I pray I'm too pessimistic, but I haven't been this depressed on opening day since the first Fox-owned one. Too many holes, no there there.

2005-04-05 09:10:11
43.   Vishal
that was spot-on, jon. nice work!

though, a technicality: doesn't penny count as a returnee, too?

and why are you so down on scott erickson?

2005-04-05 09:11:39
44.   Bob Timmermann
Steinbrenner not having to set payroll limits doesn't have anything to do with his being fan or having more control of his team. His team simply takes in more money. The Yankees are a money machine. The Yankees have their own cable network which is a license to print money.

McCourt acts like a fan. He sits with the fans. He talks to them. He schmoozes. He does that far more than Steinbrenner does.

However, it's DePodesta who can't be a fan, which is much different. Do Theo Epstein or Brian Cashman act like fans? Does Billy Beane?

It's not DePodesta's money to spend. It's McCourt's. And McCourt tells him to spend "X". And that's what DePodesta does. He's an employee. He's not a fan.

2005-04-05 09:36:01
45.   Jon Weisman
Vishal - it is a technicality, but I was referring to players on the 25-man playoff roster. It was an arbitrary decision.

Strike 4 - it's fair to be concerned about the Dodger pitching - no guarantees based on the numbers. There are some other points you make that I would disagree with, most notably that my not pinning down a win total for the team has any significance at all.

2005-04-05 09:39:49
46.   aloofman
"Based on opening night home run totals, the ball is probably more juiced than last year..."

That's quite a sample size you based that on, Strike4!

I think it's important to keep some perspective about the McCourt/DePodesta era. It's barely begun. The high turnover of the last 10 months was the result of transitioning between Fox's long-contract craziness and DePo's value-oriented strategies, with a few big contracts thrown in so they can contend until the prospects are ready. I'm not saying that the turnover has been fun, only that this isn't the time for pessimism.

Last year's team only won the division because (1) Gagne closed almost every game he was asked to, while the Giants blew more than 20 saves; and (2) the Dodgers got lucky with late-inning comebacks. It would have been foolish to stand pat after that.

2005-04-05 11:44:08
47.   Bob Timmermann
Kevin Malone acted like a fan a lot.
2005-04-05 23:07:15
48.   Strike4
Let's face it, Dodger management is selling a product... entertainment. If one of my general managers said they couldn't afford to put themselves their customers shoes(e.g., be a fan), then we'd have a short and clear discussion about what his job was all about. A better objective coming from any g.m. would be that their job is to put a winning team on the field... what the fan wants in the long run.

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