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About Jon
Thank You For Not ...

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
8) making the same point over and over again
9) typing "no-hitter" or "perfect game" to describe either in progress
10) being annoyed by the existence of this list
11) commenting under the obvious influence
12) claiming your opinion isn't allowed when it's just being disagreed with

Bless the Beasts and the Children
2005-04-06 08:10
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

This isn't Little League, folks - this is the majors. And this wasn't just the majors - it was Opening Day. The Day Where Everything Means Everything.

So pardon me if I ask you to spare some kind words, if I ask you to reach out with some understanding to this team from Los Angeles.

New acquisition Steve Finley went 0 for 3.

New acquisition Orlando Cabrera went 0 for 3.

They've got a first baseman batting leadoff - he went 0 for 3. Oh, he got one of those measly walks, but those don't count.

Against the Texas Rangers, who sport one of the poorest pitching staffs in the division, they only got three runs on six hits. Ryan Drese - Ryan Drese! - retired 15 in a row at one point.

The local Opening Day starter, Bartolo Colon, was in jams all game long, allowing 10 baserunners in 6 1/3 innings. The setup man, Scot Shields, served up a gopher ball.

Vladimir Guerrero had a big day, with a double, home run and two RBI, but you can't depend solely on him every game.

If the best they can do on Opening Day is defeat the future last-place team in the Western Division by one run, what hope is there?

* * *

(Dodger adjusts necktie, stretches neck from side to side)

"Whew. Tough room."

* * *

To paraphrase Danny DeVito in one of those Batman sequels, "Who brings tomatoes to a baseball game, anyway?"

Plenty of people, and they came ready to throw. If you can stomach an early-morning double entendre, they came ready to hurl. And conveniently, they got their target - an error by Jose Valentin that allowed the winning run to score. Valentin might as well have bent over in clown pants with a big red target on his butt, just to make it more of a challenge.

Although I thought the ball was hit sharply enough that it was no automatic play, I'm of no mind to make excuses for Valentin - whose acquisition I have questioned more than once. Nor will I easily forget Adrian Beltre, who I think is the real deal.

But, since apparently this is not stating the obvious, can I just make the point that Jose Valentin did not replace Adrian Beltre?

J.D. Drew replaced Adrian Beltre. And for that matter, Jeff Kent replaced Steve Finley. It's not that the positions they play are irrelevant, but it should go without saying that the bulk of the former Dodgers responsibilities came from batting third and fourth in the lineup.

To make the point clear, if the Dodgers had traded outfielder Jason Grabowski and infielder Beltre for, say, outfielder Barry Bonds and infielder Neifi Perez last year, would you be saying that Bonds was replacing Grabowski and Perez was replacing Beltre?

Paul DePodesta believes that the Dodgers are a better team overall than they were last year. He may be wrong, but picking on one game, one moment, one player, isn't going to be what proves the case against him.

DePodesta knows that Valentin isn't Beltre. That's not even a question. The questions are - among others - whether Drew is Beltre (maybe), whether Kent is Finley (maybe), whether Valentin is Alex Cora (maybe), and whether if any of the above are answered "no," can DePodesta do something about it?

If you think any of those questions were answered yesterday, well, pass the tomatoes.

Comments (110)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2005-04-06 09:59:34
1.   Marty
But Jon, it's so much fun to give up after one game :-)
2005-04-06 10:03:53
2.   LetsGoDodgers
If Drew hits 35 homers and 110 RBI, do the 2005 Dodger bench players need to hit 13 more homers and 11 more RBI than 2004 rendition did to even things out?

Finley was a stretch drive rental. Hopefully, Kent will play more games in a Dodger uniform in 2005 than Finley did in 2004.

Valentin does replace Beltre, for the half of the game spent in the field. But fielding is irrelevant...

2005-04-06 10:06:27
3.   Berkeley Doug
As always, thanks for being the voice of reason. I think most people on this board would be happy with 90 wins from the men in blue this year, which should be enough to win the division. That said, the Dodgers still have 71 losses to go before they don't meet my expectations.

I have tickets to the games tonight and tomorrow so here is hoping for a couple of wins. Go Dodgers!

2005-04-06 10:09:53
4.   goodman64
solid point....it's a loooong season. I think here's a case where you tip your hat to Jason Schmidt, unfortunately a better pitcher than any starter on the Dodgers' roster -- as well as a lot of other teams. Now, if they can't get more than 5 hits off Kirk Rueter tonight -- then we get to start fidgeting.
2005-04-06 10:15:56
5.   Berkeley Doug
If they can't get more than five hits off of Reuter then I may have to jump off the right field porch into McCovey's cove.
2005-04-06 10:31:02
6.   Bob Timmermann
Rueter is a crafty lefty you know.

Rueter had 292 baserunners reach against him last year (not counting errors) in 190 1/3 IP.

He faced 841 batters last year, which means you've got a 1 in 3 chance of reaching base against.

The fourth best comp to him for his career is Ramon Martinez of all people.

2005-04-06 10:33:02
7.   corey
Does this mean Ledee is Green? Hmmm, we lost on that deal.
2005-04-06 10:37:45
8.   jasonungar05
Game 2 can't come soon enough.
2005-04-06 10:37:54
9.   Jon Weisman
Putting aside that Ledee is millions cheaper than Green ... no, it doesn't mean Ledee is Green. Again, the point is whether the TEAM will win in 2005, not whether any single player from 2005 is better than a player from 2004.

Consider the converse. Just because Derek Lowe 2005 is better than Hideo Nomo 2004 doesn't mean the Dodgers will win.

2005-04-06 10:40:48
10.   Dodgerkid
Jon I have every right to have a nervous breakdown if we lose on opening day. I think I've earned that right. That being said, I think we'll win the division, however I can't promise that I won't become hysterical if we lose at any point, especially to the Giants.
2005-04-06 10:41:35
11.   bigcpa
Didn't yesterday's game seem like Bill Plaschke's dream scenario? A key Valentin error and a Choi 0-fer. Oddly reminiscent of the Dreifort collapse right after the Mota trade.

Buster Olney offers this gem today:
"The conventional wisdom is that the Dodgers are a mess, and nobody was surprised that on Opening Day, Valentin made a decisive error."

What exactly is the track record on conventional wisdom?

2005-04-06 10:45:47
12.   gvette
Jose Valentin is the Dodgers'version of the date you end up taking to a wedding only because you broke up with your girlfriend the week before.
You need somebody fast and on short notice, you hope that nothing embarrassing happens, and mercifully it will be short term.
2005-04-06 10:49:34
13.   bigcpa
And Jon- please add Lima's opening day line to your ex-Dodger toteboard.

3ip, 6H, 5ER, 3HR, 15.00 ERA, LOSS

2005-04-06 10:51:54
14.   Eric L
Though I was disappointed with Buster's writing, it must be taken with a grain of salt. He is the same guy that did his pre-season rankings with the Dodgers at #18, with the Orioles at 17 and the Tigers at 19.

This is the same guy who came up with the goofball productive outs stat that doesn't really have any relation to a teams W-L record.

2005-04-06 10:52:46
15.   Bob Timmermann
I'll switch my comments over here.

So in 2003 the Dodgers lost because they couldn't hit.

In 2004, the Dodgers suddenly became the Greatest Defensive Sqaud Ever (TM) and also hit more. But the stating pitcher was pretty shaky. Does anyone remember how much we winced through all of September.

So 2005, the team has been remade again. It may or may not score more runs. However that's the plan. The starting pitching may or may not be less shaky, but it's supposed to be better. Neither of these may be true. The defense will likely be a bit worse. But isn't going to be catastrophically worse?

How many games in all of baseball are ever decided because of a late inning error? Probably not a lot. It stinks when your team does lose one because of it.

Does anyone remember the one time the Dodgers beat Schmidt last year? It was early in the season and the Dodgers scored 3 runs, all by Roberts and all on infield ground outs by Bradley. And the Dodgers won 3-2 after Gagne gave up a tremendous bomb to right field by Bonds.

2005-04-06 10:54:46
16.   Bob Timmermann
If you read Buster Olney's bio on his ESPN blog, it mentions that he grew up as a big Dodgers fan. Despite being from Tennessee.
2005-04-06 11:00:41
17.   Rick A
"Can it! Its 'The Fuzz'!"

C'mon, you had it coming when you titled the post Jon. :p

Plaschke strikes again. Can anyone remember Alex Cora getting this much praise from Plaschke prior to him being released? I sure as hell don't. I miss the guy, but christ, I think Plaschke has a man-crush.

2005-04-06 11:02:41
18.   scareduck
How many games will the Dodger team lose
Before they regret signing Drew?
How many errors can one team commit
Before their season is through?

The answer, my friend, begins with game two
The answer begins with game two

2005-04-06 11:03:37
19.   scareduck
The above is silliness, and not intended for children.

Jon -- I don't think the Rangers are a fourth place team, though it could end up that way.

2005-04-06 11:05:45
20.   DodgerJoe
Good points, Jon.

It is only one game, but it was against the Giants. I think that if yesterday's game against was against the Pirates, the tirades made by those on Dodger Talk among others would be a lot less enthusiastic.

Did anyone read Plaschke's article? I told myslef I would not read him any more, but I did. There are so many holes in his article, but I am sick of writing letters to him pointing them out.

2005-04-06 11:08:57
21.   Smirk
Jon, I'll bet you one tomato that the Rangers win the Al West.

As far as Valentin goes, I'm nervous because, if my memory serves, didn't he have a couple of errors in the Freeway Series?

2005-04-06 11:09:48
22.   Bob Timmermann
Don't feed the Plaschke!

At least Simers columns have some humor. I like how Kent told Simers that he wanted the expletives included in his quotes.

2005-04-06 11:20:54
23.   Jon Weisman
I liked your #18, Ducky. And I will say that in a tournament of fourth-place teams across the U.S., the Rangers would do pretty well.

I think Bob's point about the September 2004 pitching in #15 needs to be emphasized. Even with the great fielding, the Dodgers really had big problems in that area last year. As long as someone like Elmer Dessens is in the rotation, those problems remain. But I'm confident about the long haul.

2005-04-06 11:29:29
24.   Marty
It's going to be very interesting to see how Odalis does tonight. He worries me more than any other Dodger. I hope the good Perez shows up.
2005-04-06 11:37:04
25.   gvette
"The Dodgers are just not a playoff team."
Jim Rome; 11:30PST; April 6, 2005

Hey, now that's been decided, why bother with the other 161 games?

2005-04-06 11:40:28
26.   Eric L
My biggest worry with Perez isn't his ability. I think his durability is a bigger concern right now.
2005-04-06 11:49:43
27.   Bob Timmermann
The Times story today said that Perez is on a 75-pitch limit. However, if he's pitching well 75 pitches can get him relatively far, so we can safely get the game to ... um ... you know ... one of those ... guys who sit down in the ... um ... bullthingee.

Relievers! Yeah! I want to know what Steve Schmoll looks like!

2005-04-06 11:58:04
28.   Marty
Bob, you said in a previous thread that visiting teams have to have the names on the back of the uniforms, right? Was I just (not) seeing things, or did the Dodger grey unis have no names yesterday?
2005-04-06 12:00:45
29.   Marty
Bob, nevermind, it was Rob who said that. I wonder if the dodgers are eligible for a fine for that.
2005-04-06 12:05:52
30.   scareduck
I will be damned. They are off the backs of even the away jerseys. See the third picture here:

http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com/la/photogallery/year_2005/month_04/day_05/cf1001010.html

2005-04-06 12:17:48
31.   Sushirabbit
Does anyone here remember Guerrero,Hamilton (and Hatcher at Third?) Wonder what their error count for the year was...
2005-04-06 12:20:08
32.   LowlyDodgerFan
Let me provide you with an analogy to illustrate my concern.

Suppose you go car shopping and find a good deal for a car. You tell your friend about the deal and he says not to buy the car because it has transmission problems. You go back to the dealer to ask about these supposed problems and he pulls out charts and graphs which indicate that the transmision is not a problem.

So, you buy the car. The first day you drive it to work, it breaks down with a transmission problem. Now, this was the first time and you could get the transmission repaired for free (assuming there's a warranty) and never have a transmission problem again. But wouldn't you still be worried?

Applying the analogy to the Dodgers, we were told that Valentin was an adequate replacement for Beltre. When we asked about fielding (because, obviously hitting was poor), charts and graphs were pulled out that actually indicated that Valentin was a better fielder than Izzie.

Yet, on the first day, he commits an error which allows the winning run to score.

True, this is only the first game and Valentin could have a Gold Glove hear. But, those of us who are not enchanted by the computer questioned his defensive capabilities and on the very first game, he let us down.

That is why I am not happy. We had one of the best and DePo let him go.

2005-04-06 12:24:13
33.   Icaros
Do I think not having his name on the back of his jersey may have caused Jose Valentin to commit that error?

I can't answer that question.

Do I see it as a possibility?

Sure I do.

2005-04-06 12:26:50
34.   Jon Weisman
Can you find in print the rule about names on away jerseys?
2005-04-06 12:26:58
35.   Gold Star for Robot Boy
We had one of the best and DePo let him go.

That's still up for debate. The Dodgers' take is that they were never given the opportunity to respond to Seattle's offer.
And, Lowly, to cut off your expected response of "You're going to believe the Dodgers?" are you going to believe Scott Boras?

2005-04-06 12:28:05
36.   Icaros
LDF,

Despite his transmission problems, you have to admit that Valentin has a hell of an upper-lip spoiler.

That has to have some blue book value.

2005-04-06 12:33:32
37.   Jon Weisman
The analogy doesn't work. Valentin is neither the Dodger transmission, nor is he a replacement for Beltre, nor does the play prove that he can't play third base.

I very much wanted the Dodgers to keep Beltre, so please understand that I'm not arguing against keeping him, and that you can be sad that Beltre is gone (not that you need my permission in any case, obviously). But I would suggest you not see one player as the transmission to the car. Valentin is not important enough to cause the car to break down by himself.

You need to disconnect the link you have between losing Beltre and signing Valentin. DePodesta did not choose one over the other in a vaccum.

2005-04-06 12:40:20
38.   Icaros
But we were told things, Jon.

Don't you remember the phone call you got from Frank and Paul?

We were told things, and after one game, it is clear that we were lied to.

Sign me up for Angels tickets.

2005-04-06 12:47:07
39.   Sam DC
MLB Official Rule 1.11: ". . . (i) A league may provide that the uniforms of its member teams include the names of its players on their backs. Any name other than the last name of the player must be approved by the League President. If adopted, all uniforms for a team must have the names of its players. "

Not sure how to check if there's a league rule; still looking

2005-04-06 12:48:27
40.   jelmendorf
It doesn't take a "computer" (i.e. new statistic that hasn't been generally accepted) to make that case that Valentin is roughly Beltre's equal defensively.

Looking at their basic numbers--fielding percentage, range factor and zone rating-- Valentin's a little better in all 3 cases, and significantly so by zone rating.

Valentin's numbers are comparable to the top shortstops in the league, including Cesar Izturis, Omar Vizquel and Miguel Tejada, just as Beltre's are comparable to the best third basemen, including Scott Rolen and David Bell.

One could argue that Valentin won't be able to transition effectively to third. I doubt that, but it's a fair comment. But it's not fair to say that there's any question about Valentin's defensive skills. He's played well over 11,000 innings, and been solid throughout his career.

2005-04-06 12:51:02
41.   Colorado Blue
I cannot believe the undercurrent of panic in these recent posts...

I don't even want to think about what is going to be said if the Giants sweep the opening series. I'm not talking about the mainstream folks... we all know the Dodgers will underperform by their standards; I'm talking about DT'ers... I'm really surprised that so many subjective takes are being made after 1 game!

As for me, I'll reserve judgement anywhere from 1 month to 3 months depending on the standings and player situation (e.g. if the Dodgers end April 1 - 22 and/or Penny, Perez, Gagne hurt and still on DL, then 1 month is probably long enough).

BUT, no matter what is said in the media, I believe DePo has improved the Dodgers overall and I will not let uncontrollables like injuries or, God forbid, a better NL West team sway my opinion.

2005-04-06 13:00:05
42.   Sam DC
Meanwhile, in the top of the ninth, Boston: 12 hits, 2 runs; NYY: 3 hits, 3 runs.

Boston does have 2 on nobody out as they try and avoid a sweep that will restore that old pre-2004 gloom we've all come to miss . . .

2005-04-06 13:01:27
43.   Sam DC
Good heavens, 18 men LOB for boston, including 5 by their new shortstop.
2005-04-06 13:02:37
44.   FirstMohican
Last year the Dodgers couldn't get ESPN recognition by winning 10 consecutively. The media grilled DePo for his midseason trade which, with the pitching breakdown at the end of the season, seemed to be validated.

So now the Dodgers lose their first game, and everyone acts like their pace for 162 losses will inevitably be realized. Somehow one game and one error confirm everyone's fears about DePo's decisions. Guess what, they're the focal point of ESPN.com.

If the "not a playoff team" ends up in the playoffs, expect a bunch of analysts quietly ignoring them or acting like they expected the Dodgers to be there.

One game!

2005-04-06 13:05:49
45.   mcrawford
Yes, it's a long season, but one loss is huge. There are only 15 games left in the season. We need to finish 10-6 to have a good chance of making the playoffs, which means we can only lose 5 more games. Even 10-6 might miss the playoffs.

Oh wait, that's football.

I'll be at the game tonight. Yay! I'm hoping and assuming that the Dodgers will be able to put up some runs against Woody Rueter. Watching a game where the Dodgers don't score against Rueter is the most frustrating thing in the world. Every single at-bat seems to end with a guy reaching for an outside pitch, and grounding out. It's incredibly aggravating.

And I, too, am looking forward to seeing what some of these relievers look like. Wunsch, Houlton, Carlyle, Schmoll...I'm pretty sure I have never seen any of these guys.

2005-04-06 13:09:17
46.   Sam DC
And that questionable third baseman picked up by the Yanks last year makes a key error that blows an inning-ending DP possibility and allows the tying run to score. What were they thinking letting that hero Boone go?
2005-04-06 13:09:23
47.   the OZ
OMG! OMG! The Yankees blew the game when their third baseman made an error! They made a huge mistake letting Brosius go!
2005-04-06 13:10:09
48.   Bob Timmermann
Oh no! A converted shortstop to third base makes an error at a crucial point! Crucify him!

Oh wait, that's Alex Rodriguez....

As for the uniforms, I can't see how there would be a "National League" rule for uniforms. MLB is pretty much an entirely unitary organization regarding its rules with the exception of the DH.

2005-04-06 13:12:07
49.   Sam DC
I guess we're gonna have to come up with some new jokes at some point . . .
2005-04-06 13:15:20
50.   LowlyDodgerFan
Jon, the analogy does work because it's a park of the car that broke and the car doesn't run (the Dodgers lost, right?). And don't read too much into the part; the transmission was the first item that came to mind. I could have used the battery, starter, exhaust, et cetra.

The point is that those of us that aren't enraptured by the Moneyball method expressed our concerns that Valentin would not be up to the job of playing third and we should get a real thirdbase man (or keep the one we had). We were pooh-pooh and told we didn't know what we were talking about. That the "numbers" proved us wrong. And, yet, our faux-thirdbase man committed an error and let the winning run score in the very first game.

Don't get me wrong. I hope Valentin can do a good job at third. But, so far, he hasn't. He didn't produce at the place and he allowed the winning run to score on an error.

And that's the bottom line.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2005-04-06 13:15:46
51.   Sam DC
What does the gameday LOB stat mean? It now says the Sox have left 25 men on base (having gone up from 18 over the course if this one half inning). If the bases are loaded with no outs and three batters strike out, is that counted as 9 LOB? If that's right, is that what the stat usually means, cause that's a pretty strange way to count I'd say. I guess Team LOB would be a different stat?
2005-04-06 13:23:05
52.   Jonny6
I was only able to catch the first two and last two innings on the radio yesterday, so I missed the dreaded 7th inning. Obviously, it's silly to get catatonic after a single error and a single loss, but you've got to admit it's a pretty ominous way to open the season. I saw the Valentin error replay, and it is was it is, but my bigger question for those who saw the game was from earlier in the inning. Should Izturis and Kent been able to turn the double play that would have ended the inning prior to Valentin's muff?

For someone who still believes in intangibles and immeasurable abilities, my hunch has been that this is where Kent's fielding ability at second base will pale in comparison to Cora's. He won't necessarily make more errors, but how many fewer plays will he make? I realize that some of these various fielding ability measurements try to take range into account, but how do you measure the ability to turn a double play? There doesn't have to be an error or mistake made to still have a person standing on first base and one less out than if someone else was playing at 2nd.

I am not saying that this is what happened yesterday because I didn't see it, but I would be willing to bet that our double play numbers go down for the season even with the additions of Lowe and Penny.

2005-04-06 13:26:23
53.   Eric L
Sorry, what happened yesterday is like one of those things that happens to your car out of the blue.

You get in it one day and it doesn't start on the first turn of the key. It's a little troubling, but you crank it again and it goes.

It could be an inidicator that something is wrong, or it could a be one time thing.

One good play is hardly enough evidence to make a case that a certain fielder is gold glove caliber (GGs are kind of a joke anyways), just like one bad play doesn't make a fielder a bum.

2005-04-06 13:26:34
54.   Bob Timmermann
The Gameday LOBs come in two varieties:
1) Personal
2) Team

In the case of #1, if Joe Blows come up with the bases loaded and strikes out, he is charged with 3 LOB. If he gets a hit or a sacrifice (I believe that varies by who does the counting), then there is no LOB. If he grounds into a DP, he is credited with 3 LOB.

The team totals are the ones we are used to and those are the ones you have to have to make the boxscore add up.

2005-04-06 13:28:15
55.   Icaros
And that's the bottom line.

In your world, at least.

2005-04-06 13:31:25
56.   Icaros
Geez, Bob. Joe Blow has one bad at-bat and you're already making fun of his name.

Didn't Bojangles already scold you for namecalling in the previous thread?

2005-04-06 13:35:42
57.   Sam DC
Thanks Bob. I see now -- the Sox had 27 individual LOB but 10 Team LOB (also reported by Gameday, but i'd missed that at first).

Re #48, given the text of the rule, I was wondering if the old League President offices might have issued pronouncements or directives or something back when those offices had some heft and that now survive until changed by the commish. Couldn't find anything like that on the web, however, but I guess it's still possible. Or not.

2005-04-06 13:36:10
58.   Bob Timmermann
I sincerely apologize to the Blow family. However, I have made no references to any Bojangles. That could have been one of our many Robs that visit this site.

The Red Sox as a team had 10 LOB. If you add up all the individuals, it comes up to 27, but some are counted more than once. If you have three guys in a row strike out with the bases drunk, you have 9 LOB for individuals, but just 3 for the team.

2005-04-06 13:39:38
59.   Bob Timmermann
It's quite possible back in the days when league presidents had authority that was such a rule about names and numbers, but now it's "One man, one vote" in MLB and that man is Bud Selig.
2005-04-06 13:39:52
60.   Icaros
I don't think Bojangles is Rob, unless it's his rambling drunk side.
2005-04-06 13:47:00
61.   Jon Weisman
LDF - certainly, I don't mean for us to fixate on which part of the car we make an analogy to.

As for this that you wrote:

"The point is that those of us that aren't enraptured by the Moneyball method expressed our concerns that Valentin would not be up to the job of playing third and we should get a real thirdbase man (or keep the one we had). We were pooh-pooh and told we didn't know what we were talking about. That the "numbers" proved us wrong. And, yet, our faux-thirdbase man committed an error and let the winning run score in the very first game."

This is off-target. It assumes that there is a Moneyball crowd that thinks the same way on every issue. I didn't like the Valentin pickup. Tom Meagher of The Fourth Outfielder likes it more. Everything is to degrees.

Meanwhile, you still haven't acknlowedged that you're looking at Valentin in a vaccum. For the final time (because I don't want to preach to deaf ears), nobody thinks Valentin is a better player than Beltre. The team has weakened itself at third base, but it is stronger in other areas.

After Opening Day you see a lot of sentences like this by Jonny 6 (#52):

"Obviously, it's silly to get catatonic after a single error and a single loss, but you've got to admit it's a pretty ominous way to open the season."

There's the the beginning of the sentence with the disclaimer, followed by the conclusion to the sentence that clearly flies in the face of the disclaimer. If it's silly to get catatonic after a single error and a single loss, then why would anyone have to admit that it's a pretty ominous way to open the season.

2005-04-06 13:55:24
62.   MSarg29
I think LowlyDodgerfan makes a great point. We as Dodger fans have been told by management that Valentin is a very good defensive player. Then we've been showered by statistics by Depo's adoring crowd explaining how Valentin is one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball.

Those of us who have expressed skepticism have been lambasted and mocked for not understanding statistics or being overly sentimental.

Well, even though its one game, it is pretty scary to a loyal Dodger fan when Valentin makes that error confirming your fears about his ability.

2005-04-06 13:57:48
63.   Strike4
I watched both LA teams play yesterday. As a lifelong intense Dodger fan, for me the worst part about yesterday is having to admit that the Angel game against lowly Texas was more interesting and exciting than, of all match-ups, the Dodger game against the Giants. Very depressing.
2005-04-06 14:01:38
64.   Eric L
I think yesterday's loss was an ominous way to open the season for those who were already skeptical of the off-season moves.

If a similar game were to take place on June 17th (just throwing the date out there), most folks would take it as a tough loss and not fixate on one bad play.

2005-04-06 14:02:18
65.   Gold Star for Robot Boy
I hope Valentin can do a good job at third. But, so far, he hasn't.

Braves fan: I hope Smoltz can do a good job as a starter. But, so far, he hasn't.

2005-04-06 14:06:06
66.   Jon Weisman
I'd like to add, in the wake of #62, that I read every comment on this board, and those who have expressed skepticism about Valentin's defense or not bought into a given statistic have hardly been lambasted and mocked. If it has happened at all, it has been isolated, and certainly no more than those who praise Valentin's defense or a given stat have been criticized.

It's been a point of emphasis of mine to keep the discussion friendly, with the help of all of you, and I think we've been successful. Let's not have either side of the debate make false martyrs of themselves.

2005-04-06 14:08:38
67.   Eric L
If Valentin's error yesterday makes him a poor fielder, than Izturis must be a power hitter now.
2005-04-06 14:09:56
68.   Jonny6
Would you have preferred "disheartening"? How about "unfortunate"? When hundreds of fans and "experts" have spent most of the off-season pontificating, analyzing, and arguing over whether or not our infield defense is weaker even though we brought in more ground ball pitchers, and wondering how that will effect the Dodgers' success, and then we blow a game on the very first day of the season due to the aforementioned infield defense, I call that ominous. It may very well turn out to be just a meaningless blip in a very long season, but you have to admit it could at least potentially be a harbinger of things to come. After all, how many games did our infield defense cost us all of last season? I don't know the answer off hand, but I am guessing it was very few. Well, after one game, that defense has cost us one game. At a minimum, it's not a very satisfying way to start the new season (to me at least it's much worse to lose a game due to errors than due the other team stringing together a series of hits).

Am I allowed to express any semblance of negativity or must I put a little smiley face on everything that goes on this year in deference to DePodesta's grand plan? Since I tend to be argumentative by nature, I have now overstated my own thoughts on yesterday's game. I really don't think it's a big deal, but I do find the irony of the situation somewhat amusing.

2005-04-06 14:12:37
69.   Eric L
Hey, you can just look at yesterday's game as karma..

Cody Ransom gave the Dodgers a little help in game 161 last year. Jose Valentin gave the Giants a little help in Game 1 this year.

2005-04-06 14:13:10
70.   Mark
So, Drew is the replacement for Beltre. I assume that means Scott Erickson is the replacement for David Ross? And Jason Phillips is the replacement for Kaz Ishii? Come on, Jon. Defense, and thus fielding position, is 50% of the game, don't forget that.
2005-04-06 14:19:56
71.   Jon Weisman
Jonny, it was the combination of the two thoughts in that earlier sentence that I found ... well, ironic, actually. I'm not telling you - or anyone - to put a happy face on a defeat.

All that some of us are trying to do is put Valentin's error in perspective. You don't have to go along. But again, the idea that one side is somehow trying to censor the other's viewpoint ... I really disagree with this. Both sides are engaging each other.

2005-04-06 14:20:25
72.   FirstMohican
Re: # 67. by Eric L

Probably my favorite reaction to game one so far.

2005-04-06 14:20:25
73.   Eric L
Would it make you feel better if someone were to say that Drew is the offensive replacement for Beltre?

And Scott Erickson might be able to hit as well as Ross, but I'm not sure about his catching skills. He is getting kind of old to be a catcher.

2005-04-06 14:24:41
74.   MSarg29
Jon,

I really respect your site and what you do here. I did not mean to insult you. It is also true that your board is much more civil than the one on dodgers.com.

But I do think that it is unfair for you to take a shot at me about being a "false martyr".

Those who have not agreed w/ many of the moves of the current GM have been mocked.

But we are all Dodger fans and need to stick together.

2005-04-06 14:28:00
75.   Icaros
Some people really need to get over themselves.
2005-04-06 14:28:53
76.   Jon Weisman
"I assume that means Scott Erickson is the replacement for David Ross?"

This is completely random. No, that would be an incorrect assumption.

"And Jason Phillips is the replacement for Kaz Ishii?"

On one level, yes. Phillips - plus the dollars saved in trading Ishii - replaced Ishii on the roster. Are the Dodgers better now? Some, though not all, would argue that they are.

At the same time, comparing Phillips and Ishii is not the same as comparing Drew and Beltre. And the idea that I've forgotten that defense matters ... sigh. I haven't. But it's not 50 percent of the game, unless you're including pitching in there - and if you are including pitching, then it's certainly not 50 percent of Beltre's game.

Who would have thought Day 2 of the season would be the most tense and emotional day for comments on the site since Beltre's departure. Doesn't that seem wrong?

2005-04-06 14:29:58
77.   Jonny6
Don't worry Jon I am not accusing you of censorship, I just enjoy getting a little melodramatic whenever somebody questions my infinite wisdom or omniscient message board posts. I am also trying to keep the error in perspective; I really don't think it's a big deal. But the fact that it happened on THE FIRST DAY is both an interesting tidbit, and since I like using the word as much as possible, also a little "ominous". Perhaps, Eric L (#64) summed it up better (and more succinctly) than me.

Now, back to my real question for those who saw the game yesterday. Would Izturis and Cora have turned the double play earlier during that same inning?

2005-04-06 14:33:17
78.   dan reines
After all, how many games did our infield defense cost us all of last season?

Not many, you're right about that. But Jonny, I think Jon's point is that if you're going to ask this question, you also have to ask how many games the Dodgers lost (or almost lost) due to starting pitching last year? In September alone, for that matter.

If you're going to be very quick to point to the inferior fielding of This Year's Model (and I'd agree with you), you should also be willing to acknowledge the superior pitching. If you're going to say that Jeff Kent is a worse fielder (and I'd agree with you) than Alex Cora, you should also acknowledge that he's a better hitter. And if you're going to point out that Jose Valentin is no Adrian Beltre (and everyone would agree with you), then you should at the very least acknowledge that the money saved on Beltre allowed the team to sign Derek Lowe. Maybe Valentin+Lowe still doesn't equal Beltre, but surely you'll at least acknowledge that Lowe is part of that equation?

2005-04-06 14:36:20
79.   Smirk
Jon, you do have a knack for finding a way to argue the tactics a person uses to make an argument, instead of the argument itself.

#37 "The analogy doesn't work. Valentin is neither the Dodger transmission, nor is he a replacement for Beltre, nor does the play prove that he can't play third base".

and

#61

"There's the the beginning of the sentence with the disclaimer, followed by the conclusion to the sentence that clearly flies in the face of the disclaimer. If it's silly to get catatonic after a single error and a single loss, then why would anyone have to admit that it's a pretty ominous way to open the season".

Perhaps this is why one side may feel "censored".

2005-04-06 14:37:10
80.   dan reines
As for that DP ball, I for one don't think having Cora over Kent would have made the difference. If I recall correctly, the problem was with Izturis' toss to Kent, not with Kent himself. If Plashke weren't hunting so hard for supporting evidence, he might have slammed that weak-fielding power hitter we've got playing the 6 spot.
2005-04-06 14:40:37
81.   Michael G
I am less disturbed about Valentin's error than I am about the way the offense shut down after exhausting themselves scoring those two runs. Yet, all in all, Lowe's solid performance trumps the negatives of game #1.
2005-04-06 14:45:30
82.   dan reines
wow, smirk, you have a very liberal definition for the word "censored." and no, it's not my intent mock you.

but come on. that's censorship?

2005-04-06 14:46:52
83.   fanerman91
I agree with the point that the start of the season is "onimous" is because of the error.

However, I don't agree that the defense cost us the game. We lost the game. Not our defense. Our offense did not hit very well (against a good pitcher, of course) either. No point blaming out defense for everything. If we scored more runs, the error would have been a mute point. Of course you can say that "but Valentin also didn't contribute on offense." In that case you can blame him, but you might as well blame everybody else too, because most everybody struggled, too. (sorry to talk like JT, but...) So what's the fairest assessment? Well, the fairest assessment is that Valentin's play cost us a run. And by chance, that run happened to decide the game. Over the course of the season, he'll save us some runs Beltre wouldn't have and cost us some runs Beltre wouldn't have (in theory). But it's mostly chance if that run happens to decide a game.

It's not fair to say "how many games did our defense save last year versus this" because it's largely chance that decides in which games certain defensive plays become key.

More thoughtles overreacting: Boy that Izzy, gonna become an offensive juggernaut. He's out-homering Choi, just goes to show how bad Choi is right?

Re Kent: From all I've heard, if the failed double play was anybody's fault, it was Izturis' because the throw to Kent was so slow. I don't think Cora would have made a difference, but then again, I didn't see the play.

2005-04-06 14:48:16
84.   Jon Weisman
Smirk -

Re: #37, I wasn't arguing that LDF couldn't use an analogy as a tactic. I just didn't agree with his analogy.

Re #61, my second sentence that you've quoted is a counter-argument, plain and simple. I'm not even sure what tactic you think I was arguing against, unless you consider a contradictory sentence a tactic.

If anyone feels censored because of what I've said, we've got a problem here. I hope people don't feel censored when they're just being disagreed with. The difference btetween the two is vast.

2005-04-06 14:51:58
85.   alex 7
group hug.

I am now sold that the media dislikes Depo due to his nerdy looks and Harvard background. Otherwise, as some have pointed out, incredibly dumb articles would be appearing on ESPN about John Smoltz, the Oakland A's offense, and Jose Lima.

I wonder how many games into the season people would have needed before allowing Valentin's first error.

If he makes a few more, then the arguement that all shortstops can't make smooth adjustments to 3rd base becomes valid.

2005-04-06 14:54:18
86.   joekings
I think part of the problem, and I'm guilty of it sometimes too, is that the people who see Valentin as a weak link can't understand how others can't, and the people who say it's only one game can't understand why it should matter so much. There's a middle ground in there somewhere but I sure as heck am not going to try and find it.
2005-04-06 14:59:51
87.   Bob Timmermann
Perhaps what we need is a holistic look at the team.

I'm never sure what people mean by that, but I'm hoping it makes me sound smart.

2005-04-06 15:00:47
88.   molokai
Nice article about the Angels Jon but the difference was huge in that they won which is why they get the plaudits. Ryan Drese was actually a very effective pitcher last year and was certainly better then Lowe as his 39 Vorp over the -11 that Lowe pulled in shows. Dips be damned. The Texas infield is easily the best in baseball. That Colon pitched as well as he did against them should not be compared to Lowe pitching against the Bondless Giants. The Angels deserved the praise this morning and the Dodgers deserved the ridicule. Doesn't matter to the millions of people who read the LA Times that Valentin didn't replace Beltre. What matters is that the player who played 3b which had been manned by the player who had the greatest offensive year in LA Dodger history cost them the 1st game. That is the story the writers got to tell. The sports pages aren't written for the people who populate blogs they are written for the masses. The Dodgers handed them the stories on a silver platter.
Today will be different day and it is up to the new Dodgers to write a different script that doesn't fall into the laps of those who want the Dodgers to fail this year to prove their points.

One final point about Jose. His excellent defensive rankings were as a SS and they were based on his excellent range. He always made alot of errors which is why his reputation is that of a lousy SS. Now that he's playing 3b, range is not nearly as important as his reactions and the accuracy of his arm. He may or may not adjust to 3b but I don't think his previous SS defensive ranking mean a thing about predicting his future success at 3b. Plus he's now 35 which further clouds the equation. JMO

2005-04-06 15:06:23
89.   Jon Weisman
Actually, I think #87 is pretty much the point I'm trying to make. So I think you sound brilliant, Bob.
2005-04-06 15:13:22
90.   Smirk
True, Jon, you weren't arguing his use of an analogy as a tactic, you got me...

But I think from LDF's argument his point is clear, he feels we were dealt damaged goods. Your response jumps over that point and attacks his (I agree, not quite precise) analogy.

To be honest, though, I don't feel censored and I don't even know why I am in the middle of this discussion. I think I'm just trying to work some competitive juices before the first pitch tonight.

Ok, I'm in for the group hug.

2005-04-06 15:16:19
91.   Jim Tracy
I think the Dodgers' offense this year will be a bigger issue than the defense will be. All the people who are overreacting about Valentin's error are the same people who thought the Dodgers wouldn't win the division last year when we blew an 8th inning lead at San Diego the day Mota was traded. Let's wait and see Valentin for a few games before we crucify the guy. Personally, I would have Nakamura on the 25 man roster to play 3B in late innings, but again, I have no problem trying Valentin there for a few games. But we did not lose the game yesterday because of Valentin's error.. and most of you have to agree that we did not look like winning that game before the error anyway. In fact we were a little lucky to get out of Lowe's mess two inning before when he retired the side on three pitches with runners on 2nd and 3rd and no one out.

Finally, on an unrelated note, would everyone (especially LA Media) be so upset about Finley leaving the Dodgers if not for that one home run against the Giants. Not to make the home run seem moot... I was at the stadium when he hit the grand slam and it's one of my best ever memories as a Dodger, but a sacrifice fly would have won the game for the Dodgers too. Would everyone have said it was a good idea to pay Finley $15 million for two years if not for the grand slam? In other words, if not for the grand slam, would Finley's asking price have been around $10-$11 million for two years? What do you guys think?

2005-04-06 15:17:56
92.   Bob Timmermann
But I associate "holistic" with people drinking camomile tea for an upset stomach or buying St. John's Wort or something like that.
2005-04-06 15:21:38
93.   Jon Weisman
That's what's so funny, Smirk - because as I've said, I don't like Valentin all that much either.

I'm in for the group hug. I'm going to start a new thread in a few moments and, like the cast at the end of the final episode of the Mary Tyler Moore show, we can shuffle over there.

2005-04-06 15:21:49
94.   bigcpa
Are words like "holistic" things that dumb people say to sound smart? Umm, I'm fired aren't I? (Simpson's quote)

The Yankee collapse today was a joy to watch. Rivera has blown 4 straight save opps vs. Boston. The Red Sox are officially Rivera's daddy.

Tonight I sense Odalis giving up a few bombs to the righthand dominated SF lineup. I also see an early shower for Reuter and a big win. Then after the Dodgers take 2 of 3 we will collectively tear into our Friday morning Times to find a full color Masters preview, Phil Jackson rumor mongering and a Dodger game wrap on D5.

2005-04-06 15:22:07
95.   Eric L
Maybe some of the folks who are upset about yesterday's game should buy some camomile tea to sooth their upset stomachs..
2005-04-06 15:24:36
96.   Smirk
Does Bob know how to shuffle?
2005-04-06 15:29:02
97.   dan reines
look, if you're going to call yourself jim tracy, you need to reword that whole post: "Do I think we're going to have problems on defense? Yes I do. Do I think our offense is a bigger concern? Yes I do. Did we lose yesterday's game because of Valentin's error? Maybe. Do I think we were on our way to winning that game even if Valentin hadn't committed the error? Yes I do. Do I think Steve Finley got a $5M bonus for one home run? Yes I do."
2005-04-06 15:29:04
98.   Jim Tracy
When I want to change a pitcher, I walk on to the field, pull my pants up and shuffle over to the mound.
2005-04-06 15:29:44
99.   Jim Tracy
Do I ever ask questions in response to questions? No I don't.
2005-04-06 15:31:19
100.   dan reines
er...change that penultimate "yes i do" to a "no i don't." um...
Show/Hide Comments 101-150
2005-04-06 15:32:47
101.   dan reines
woo hoo! 100 posts in less than 8 hours! if jon wouldn't go making new threads willy-nilly, i'm sure we could crack 300 by the seventh inning!
2005-04-06 15:37:06
102.   LAT
Jon, you are never guilty of censorship. However, IMO, some of the regulars view us non-Depo supporters as emotional and unsophisticated. But that is the nature of an open and frank dialogue. If we all agreed what would be the point of having the site. Either way I have learned a lot on this site.

P.S. I'm choosing #69 and Eric L for my perspective on the game.

2005-04-06 15:37:10
103.   Jon Weisman
Too bad. On to the next thread.
2005-04-06 15:37:23
104.   Jim Tracy
Do I wish I had used willy-nilly in my post? Yes I do. (Sorry I'm not usually this silly, but am really antsy for the game to start tonight.)
2005-04-06 15:39:30
105.   Bob Timmermann
Just think if we were Mets fans. From my experience from Baseball Primer, those people slash throats first and ask questions later. They believe in giant group efforts to give each other the finger.

I still think our "arguments" are pretty mild.

When they asked Omar Vizquel yesterday if he thought a Dodgers-Giants game was as intense as he expected he said something like "No, maybe tomorrow. I thought there would be more violence."

2005-04-06 15:50:07
106.   brendan glynn
I was going to jump out a window at the start of last season. On paper that team was a piece of crap and then they followed up with the worst spring training I've ever seen.

The 2004 team cured me of my (premature) hand wringing and teeth grinding, especially over one day.

I just thought back to how I felt a year ago and today doesn't seem so bad. Not sure how long it will last but it's working so far.

2005-04-06 15:59:54
107.   driches
You can never say one thing, at least not on the level of a single play, cost a team a game. Why does it all come down to an error, and the fact the Dodgers were facing arguably the best pitcher in the NL? How about the walk to Vizquel that put Durham in scoring position before the error?

A baseball game is a compilation of countless tiny events: from an inning to an at bat to a pitch to where a second baseman positions himself before a given pitch. To blame the loss on a single error ignores everything that happened before and after it that, if not equally, also contributed.

2005-04-06 16:01:06
108.   Langhorne
Well, it took 83 posts but someone finally got to the point. Valentin's error didn't cost the Dodgers the game. The fact that the #2-#5 hitters went 2 for 15 cost the Dodgers the game. They were facing a very good pitcher but we're not going to win many games in which we get only five hits.I think the Dodger infield needs to stick together. In a show of solidarity Izturis and Choi should grow mustaches.
2005-04-06 17:29:34
109.   Blue in SF
Can somebody post that Buster Olney article? I'd like to check it out.
2005-04-07 07:32:19
110.   Xeifrank
Valentin sure looked like Beltre in game #2.

vr

Xeifrank

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