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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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A Little Club Soda Might Work on That Stain
2005-04-26 07:53
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

To start Monday's game against Arizona, Derek Lowe threw four consecutive balls to Craig Counsell, who has 18 home runs in 2,556 career at-bats.

"If I knew what I was doing wrong, I guess I wouldn't have done it," analyzed Lowe, according to Ken Gurnick on MLB.com.

We know better, but we don't always do better. And so it has gone for the Dodgers, who have allowed nine runs in their past three opening innings. Gurnick notes that they have trailed by the end of the second inning in six consecutive games.

"Falling behind early is like spilling syrup on your tie at breakfast and leaving the house late for work," adds Steve Henson of the Times. "The morning is off to a bad start and the rest of the day is a mad scramble to turn it around."

We know better. The Dodgers know better. Don't spill syrup. How hard is that not to do?

Lowe, who entered the game with a 1.27 ERA, cleaned up nicely after his sloppy three-run first inning, throwing five shutout innings before allowing a two-out, two-strike, RBI single to Luis Gonzalez in the seventh.

The Dodgers, who entered Thursday 12-2, need some maid service as a team after losing four of their past five games. The answers might not come tonight, with Scott Erickson's 7.80 ERA looking like it belongs on center stage about as much as Scott Savol. Erickson has allowed 27 baserunners in 15 innings while striking out four batters, and was pounded the first time he faced Arizona this year.

Still, in the topsy-turvy world we live in, Erickson has got perhaps one more start before you have to give up on the "he's due" prayer and start wondering if this will be the long, slow torture of Hideo Nomo 2004. After all, Savol's in the final six, right? Looks can be deceiving, right? Right?

Maybe so. Dodger Thoughts readers generally seem calm, if a little less comment-happy these days. This makes sense, since we all knew some losses would come. A 13-6 record isn't as nice as 12-2, but it's still nice. Brad Penny is back, while Eric Gagne, Jayson Werth, Wilson Alvarez and Antonio Perez are all making progress in their recoveries. Jose Valentin is looking better defensively at third base. It is probably Valentin's recent 1 for 20 at the plate that has most directly hamstrung the Dodger offense, but even during the slump, he has reached base six times via walk or hit-by-pitch.

You don't win every bet no matter the odds, and you don't win every game no matter the talent. Reality is working its way back to the Dodgers, and we're still trying to see how it will land. The Dodgers are no more a 1-4 team than they were a 12-2 team. They can be clumsy at times, but this isn't a team of serial syrup spillers.

Except perhaps for Erickson. We'll see ...

***

Earlier Monday, I read a recent interview that Palo Alto Weekly had with a friend of mine at Stanford, Denise Clark Pope, who is now a leading lecturer and writer in education.

"What many parents don't realize is that they are contributing to the frenzy this way and they are hurting their kids," she said in response to a question about over-protective parents. "A Palo Alto educator calls them 'helicopter parents' - they hover and they swoop in and they don't want their kids to make mistakes or get hurt or have any real freedom to mess up. But kids need this freedom, even to get hurt and make mistakes, or they won't be able to thrive now or later in life."

As much as I'd like to draw the analogy, major league baseball is not high school. It's not a development arena - it's the working world. Nevertheless, it's clear that Hee Seop Choi has at least one helicopter parent.

If Olmedo Saenz is the Dodgers' best hitting first baseman, then the Dodgers should play Olmedo Saenz. If they're not sure if Saenz is the best or not, or if they think Saenz is good now but not the best for the long term, then the Dodgers should start him some days but not others, as they have been. That's fine.

But it doesn't make sense to start Choi, see him sandwich a questionable called third strike with two hard-hit fly balls against a pitcher other Dodgers were struggling against, then take him out for Saenz with two on and two out in the eighth inning.

"If that was going to be our only opportunity," Dodger manager Jim Tracy told Gurnick, "we had to cash in."

Considering that the No. 8 (Jason Grabowski) and No. 9 (pitcher) slots in the lineup might easily have come up during any kind of ninth-inning rally, this doesn't make sense. There was sort of a bipolar approach here by Tracy, where he was willing to pinch hit for Choi against a right-handed pitcher, but not for Lowe.

Perhaps Tracy had the same second-guessing of himself that I had. Perhaps the moment in which Lowe allowed a seventh-inning run after batting for himself in the sixth was the moment where Tracy realized he had to start being more aggressive with his bench.

If so, then it's a hint of better in-game decisions to come. If not, it was a strange aberration that can only be explained by a parent who doesn't know what to do with this adopted Choi of his.

Comments (54)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2005-04-26 09:51:37
1.   Landonkk
Jon -
I absolutely love your assesment of the Saenz for Choi pinch hit last night and agree whole heartedly. SPOT ON.
2005-04-26 09:52:37
2.   Adam M
Mentioned this last week, and it's only become more true:

Gagne needs to pitch the first.

He can then yield to the scheduled "starter" once we've escaped the rocky shoals of the 1st, but it's just too dangerous an inning to entrust to anyone but your most effective pitcher. Ghame Over can close, but you have to have a lead to get a save. It's just that simple. With any luck, they'll be selling "Game Initiated" shirts before it gets too late. Hurry back, Eric.

2005-04-26 10:16:52
3.   dan reines
"game initiated"? how about, in a tribute to gagne's love of hockey, "game on"?
2005-04-26 10:18:27
4.   Jim Tracy
I've been mentioning this since Game 2 of the season... if you are going to say Choi is your starting 1B, then commit to him for NINE innings at least once in a while. Bringing Saenz up in that situation is stupid. If anything, give Valentin or Choi a night off and play Saenz if you truly believe Saenz is your hottest bat right now (which is probably is). But it is not fair to Saenz or to Choi to bring him in like he did last night.
2005-04-26 10:20:32
5.   Jim Tracy
And Tracy has a history of making mistakes with in-game decisions. I will never forget leaving Quantrill in too long against Arizona instead of bringing in Gagne. That was when he wouldn't admit he was wrong... until 12 days later when he came out with his sob story about that decision keeping him up at night and how he apologized to Dodger players in a private meeting. Idiot!!
2005-04-26 10:24:23
6.   Jim Tracy
Sorry... just venting a little bit. No panic yet from the four losses in five games, but it would suck to have such a good start and still find AZ 1/2 game behind us soon. And Erickson doesn't exactly exude confidence.

As a side note, my first Dodger game of the season tonight. Last year, when I was at Dodger games, they were 10-7 (including Game 161)... which is ok, but not as good as 2003, when somehow at the games I was at, they were 11-0. True story. I even saw Andy Ashby win a game that year.

2005-04-26 10:28:47
7.   LAT
Andy Ashby win a game? Now I know you're lying.
2005-04-26 10:32:51
8.   FirstMohican
From what DePo was quoted as saying throughout the offseason, I got the feeling that they were going to throw Choi out at 1B and see how he did with extended time. I'm guessing that's to see how he does when he's comfortable, because based on his spot appearances with the Dodgers last year, he might not perform well outside of a regular position.

Well, if that's true - and I think its a safe conclusion - then playing Choi for the first 2/3rds of a game and pulling him in any pressure situation doesn't make someone exactly comfortable. Imagine what Choi might be thinking: "Shit, if I go 0-2 I'll get pulled in the 7th... I better get a hit early so I can stay in the game."Well, that's what I'd be thinking, anyways.

Does anyone else agree that Choi is easily our best defensive first baseman? Not only is Choi's replacement hurting his confidence, but it's hurting the defense late in a tight game where defense can be key.

Unless you have a killer matchup with a bench player of yours against the current pitcher, why pull a guy you're trying to give a chance to get comfortable? I'll go ahead and second or third or fourth the criticism of Choi's use. Besdies, if Choi's not in the game, I can't make my Fielder's *Choi*ce jokes.

2005-04-26 10:34:35
9.   Formerly R
Ultimately, I tend to agree with you, Jon. I would have preferred that Jim Tracy let Choi hit last night in the 8th.

My second choice: pinch hit Saenz for Choi with explicit instructions to Saenz that he take a healthy hack at the first pitch.

Vazquez consistently threw first pitch strikes last night, many of which were catching large portions of the plate. I know that this year's Dodger hitters are all about looking at pitches and making the pitcher work. I'm all for that. But when opposing pitchers start to take advantage of this by consistently putting hitters in 0-1 holes, then somebody's got to step in there, mix things up, take a hack, and make 'em pay.

2005-04-26 11:07:30
10.   DodgerJoe
Choi should have hit in the 8th last night. Although he was 0-3, he has a couple of good at bats against Vasquez.

Tracy is showing no confidence in Choi. And he may be hurting him in the long run. He is not being given the opportunity to succeed in a big situation.

On a side note, Kevin Modesti of the Daily News has a nice article on the Dodgers this morning. It seems that every media outlet in the NL West thinks the Dodgers can play a little except their own.

Here's the link:
http://www.dailynews.com/Stories/0,1413,200~28541~2836354,00.html

2005-04-26 11:20:30
11.   jasonungar05
Choi-

I'll play Devils Advocate-

1. Trace though pinch hitting for him gave the dodgers the best chance to win. So whats the big deal?

2. He can't hit the inside pitch and Vasquez was throwing it there every time.

3. Choi is failing overall right now.

4. Rudy's pinch hit numbers are great and he should have hit last night in that situation

2005-04-26 11:29:47
12.   Vishal
how does putting saenz in against a righty whom he'd never seen before necessarily give the dodgers the "best chance" to win?

and if choi can't hit it where vazquez was throwing it "every time", how did he hit it to the warning track in center in his first at-bat, and loop it back into center in his third at-bat? both balls got caught, but they were hit well.

2005-04-26 11:34:09
13.   LetsGoDodgers
I agree with you as well, Jon. I'd also like to add that lifting Choi for Saenz mid-game to face a right-handed pitcher can only hurt Choi's confidence.

Vazquez is a quality pitcher who threw very well last night. He took advantage of the umpire's inside strike zone; Grabowski, Choi, and others did not adjust.

If this offense is truly built on walks and homers, then last night's performance will rarely get it done. 2 walks all night: one for the #8 hitter, one for a pinch-hitter in the #9 spot at the end of the game.

Lastly, if Jim Tracy cannot handle the in-game management of the team, then he doesn't deserve to be a baseball manager at any level. For Pete's sake, that's what he's getting paid to do!!! Admitting mistakes is one thing. Not learning from them is another.

2005-04-26 12:15:59
14.   Steve
The ultimate point that has been repeated over and over again by Jon and many people over the last two days is the correct one -- if Saenz is the guy you want up with two men on in the eighth against Vazquez, then Saenz should be the starter and play and get the ABs. There was no matchup advantage, unless you think that eight at-bats against RHP is a sufficient sample size to outweigh Saenz's .571 OPS against RHP last year.

Quantrill over Gagne. The one that started it all. The mustard seed from which "Fire Jim Tracy" blossomed. Just the mere mention...

2005-04-26 12:16:47
15.   jasonungar05
Vishal

I agree with you. I am sorry I posted this. I posted it cause I have a long heated battle this morning with who I think is a knowlegeable dodger fan (and friend) and this is all he would say. Like I have this hard on for choi. Like any logical response is met with, yeah but Choi is terrible...

I brought up Jon's article (after I had been making the same exact points) and he ridiculed me and said I am an idiot (basically).

My feeling is if you don't have the confidence in him in the 8th, then why even play him at all?..

Let alone what this does for Choi.

my feeling is also that when the dodgers loose its choi's fault, when they win..well he had nothing to do with that, we overcame him (if u will)

my take last September (and still is) is that in 2005, Choi should play everyday until mid June..then re evaluate.

Choi will not be the reason we do, or the reason we don't win in 2005 IMO

2005-04-26 12:32:10
16.   Adam M
Has anybody acknowledged how similar "using Choi situationally" is to "showcasing him for a trade"? Personally, I'd like to see him be the regular 1B for the next 10 years or so, but he's still so cheap and talented that somebody would take a flyer on him if he gets a decent stretch of hitting together. Both possibilities seem plausible. On the other hand, yanking him last night probably killed his "cred" for at least a month.
2005-04-26 12:40:33
17.   ElysianPark62
Up until now, Tracy has seemed to make almost all the right moves in the young season. Now that they're scuffling a little, moves are more questionable and glaring.

Tracy: "If that was going to be our only opportunity, we had to cash in." Just like trying to "cash in" in Colorado by having Perez bat with the sacks full? It's not sufficient to say in hindsight, as Tracy did, that Perez hit the ball hard.

The point is that he made an out, which he should've been expected to do. He only pitched one more inning in that start, as did Lowe last night after he was sent up to bat in the 7th when they needed runners.
I hope this does not become a pattern.

The Dodgers need to keep Choi on a short leash. He is not even walking enough to merit being in that #2 hole. Now that they're struggling to score, his weaknesses cannot be covered up so well.

Grabowski has no use on this team. He does not hit or field well, and his only saving grace is being left-handed. However, that is not enough. Repko deserves more playing time, regardless of the righty-lefty thing. He does many things well, and I would rather try to find out what he can do on an extended basis. We already know what Grabowski can/cannot do.

2005-04-26 13:07:46
18.   Steve
I agree with ElysianPark. More Repko, less Grabowski (or, alternatively, no Grabowski). But I think JG is on the roster because he's the emergency catcher.
2005-04-26 13:24:33
19.   Dello
Do you think Billy Beane would have tolerated Art Howe showing up his guy with a pinch hitter? Ok, it seems pretty obvious to me - Tracy doesn't like the guy. Choi hasn't done anything in LA and Tracy doesn't feel like risking his job while waiting for him to figure it out. Regardless, Billy wouldn't allow that move.
2005-04-26 13:37:11
20.   jelmendorf
I think Grabowski is on the roster because, at least at this point, he's a better player than Repko.

Comparing their minor league numbers, Grabowski's OBP is 72 points higher and his slugging is 56 points higher. Repko's younger, so perhaps in time he'll be a better player, but last year, he was 9th on the 51s in OPS of players who got significant playing time.

Repko had a great spring but before declaring him solid, we might want to let him get a few more ABs.

It strikes me that this is a great example of how the beginning of the year can skew things a lot. Repko had 8 hits in his first 26 ABS, and since then has one hit in his last 13 ABs. Conversely, Choi went 1 for his first 15, and has 8 hits in the 30 ABs since.

2005-04-26 13:46:24
21.   Marty
"Repko had a great spring but before declaring him solid, we might want to let him get a few more ABs."

I agree, but the more ABs should be at the expense of Grabowski.

2005-04-26 13:52:34
22.   Ben P
When Werth comes back, can he be our emergency catcher? Or does his injury history mean he can never play that position again? I'm not necessarily sold on Repko, but I do think a case can be made for him to stay on the roster ahead of Grabowski, whose offensive numbers haven't been impressive this year or last year. Repko seems to bring better speed and defense, too.
2005-04-26 13:55:26
23.   LetsGoDodgers
I agree with ElysianPark62 on Grabowski. DePo can do better. Watching him roll his eyes after every called strike is grating on my nerves. If the ump is calling the same inside pitch a strike again and again and again, then get that bat off your shoulder and swing! Like it or not, the ump is always right and the batter is always wrong. It's been that way for 100+ years and it's not going to change.
2005-04-26 14:05:06
24.   ElysianPark62
Granted, Repko has less experience than Grabowski, but Repko is a former #1 (supplemental) pick who clearly has well-rounded skills. He needs a chance to show them.

In contrast, Grabowski does nothing well (and some things very poorly). Repko has far more upside than Grabowski (who, BTW, is 29 and not likely to improve on what he's displayed).

2005-04-26 14:10:02
25.   jasonungar05
anyone who almost beats out a routine grounder to SS should get some more looks as far as I am concerned.
2005-04-26 14:13:41
26.   ElysianPark62
Re: #25. Hear, hear!
2005-04-26 14:16:16
27.   LAT
I agree that Tracy should either go with Saenz or Choi and I think it should be Saenz. Between last season and this one Choi has had plenty of opportunity and simply has not produced. Choi supporters can make excuses for him all day long but he has not gotten it done.

As for Tracy's call on pinch hitting for Choi, we don't know the facts. Lots of people say Tracy hates Choi so its unfair to pull him and ruin his confidence. Dello even points out that Beane never would have tolorated this move. I'm guessing (and I stress guessing, like everyone else) that Tracy would not play Choi in the first place if it were up to him. Tracy is giving Choi more rope than he wants to by letting him start and bat second. But when Choi fails to get a hit (or on base) he is the first guy Tracy wants to pull and does'nt mind becasue he thinks he has already given Choi his opportunity. Yes, I am saying Depo is telling Tracy he has to play Choi.

The real problem with this approach is it is unfair to Saenz who should get more playing time. It is also unfair to Choi, not in terms of playing time, but in terms of keeping the spotlight on Choi and making him the lightning rod for Depo and the New Dodger philosophy.

2005-04-26 14:19:07
28.   Langhorne
This reminds me of the Quantrill situation because shortly after that Tracy was blamed for using Gagne too early too often. Which was probably true. I think last night was, at least in part, a reaction to complaints about not hitting for Perez the other night. This is not a defense of Tracy, quite the opposite. He has a history of reactionary moves that don't make sense.
2005-04-26 14:24:28
29.   DodgerJoe
I agree with the Repko over Grabowski sentiment. But when Antonio Perez is activated who get demoted?

Repko, Nakamura, or Grabowski......I say Grabowski.

2005-04-26 14:27:23
30.   Steve
Marty, 21, LOL. Indeed.
2005-04-26 14:29:28
31.   Steve
Grabowski or Nakamura? Regardless of my own personal feelings, I bet Nakamura goes when Perez is activated, and then Repko goes when Werth is activated. Grabowski's pictures of prominent Dodger front office personnel in embarrassing situations win again.
2005-04-26 14:40:37
32.   the OZ
Carlyle should be sent down. Maybe Scmholl, too, even though he's my favorite Dodger pitcher this season. Unless Erickson suddenly gets it together, it's time to cut him and try Houlton in the #5 spot.

My guess is that Grabbo's on the roster simply because he's big and, given ABs, should hit more home runs than Repko or Nakamura - if you need a pinch hit from a marginal player, you might as well maximize the chances that it's be a home run. The danger is, we're lefty-heavy on the bench right now, as Saenz is the only good non-starting RH bat. In fact, against a starting LHP, all our RH bats are already in the lineup (Saenz, Kent, Naka, Repko, Phillips) with none in reserve.

2005-04-26 14:52:44
33.   blue horseshoe
So Saenz has as many hits a Choi does, in half the ABs. He has 9 more RBIs. His BA with RISP was posted during the CO series as .800 I believe (yes, sample size, yada yada yada). Game on the line & I think Tracy made the right move.

My question is, do we still have options on Choi to send him back down? His K/BB ratio is horrible.

2005-04-26 15:14:12
34.   Steve
33 -- THEN START SAENZ!
2005-04-26 16:04:53
35.   chumsferd
I disagree with starting Saenz.

Saenz is not the long term solution at first base. Saenz is our top pinch hitter off the bench, which is a very valuable commodity to have. Is every game important? yes. Is it important to give a young player time to see what he can do? yes.

What really kills me about tracy's move was that:
1. choi was making good contact vs. Vazquez (the ball he K'd on was inside)
2. Vazquez was getting tired and losing his control a bit, and Choi can draw a walk as easily as Saenz.
3. a lefty was warming in the pen. You send up Choi and see if they bring in the lefty. THEN you bring in Saenz.
4. this lefty got Drew to start the ninth. If we force them to burn him in the 8th then we can still mount a rally in the 9th.

2005-04-26 16:15:02
36.   LetsGoDodgers
How about pushing Choi down the lineup, like to the 7-hole, before shipping him off to Las Vegas or another team?

I'm not a fan of Nakamura the hitter, but he's our best option at 3rd base after Valentin. For that reason, I hope Nakamura stays when Werth/Perez come back.

2005-04-26 16:34:11
37.   LetsGoDodgers
The more playing time Olmedo gets, the less he contributes offensively. 2001 was a banner year for Olmedo with 305 AB's in 106 games. He OPS'ed at .675.

At best, he's a modern-day Dave Hansen. Starting Saenz on a daily basis is not the answer.

2005-04-26 16:51:24
38.   LAT
Playing Olmedo every day throughout the season may not be the answer but playing Choi is not the answer either. The answer is to play Olmedo regularly until another solution can be found. Perhaps convert Nakamura to a first baseman. Or maybe Valentine. His problem appears to be throwing not fielding. Both guys have power.
2005-04-26 16:51:37
39.   Jim Tracy
Forget it.. people will ignore years of data and keep insisting Saenz should start over Choi based on two-three weeks of games. I'd want to know who thinks Saenz will end the year with a higher OPS than Choi. I hope no one!!

Furthermore, the point is that if Tracy thinks Saenz is the best option, use him from the start. You do not pinch hit in that situation unless AZ had brought in a lefty reliever. Bringing Saenz in at that point is wrong and shows that either Tracy has no clue what he is doing or that he can't stand up to management and use the starting line-up he thinks is best.

2005-04-26 16:56:09
40.   KAYVMON
Bringing in our best pinch hitter with two outs and two men on in the eigth inning is usually a good idea. To recap, the reasons we are making a fuss is b/c in order of importance: #1 Saenz struck out, #2 we're especially sensitive to things relating to Choi's playing time, #3 Choi was hitting the ball well that game, and possibly #4 there was a lefty in the bullpen and if he was brought in, we know Saenz hits lefties better. Regardless, our BENCH WILL HAVE A HUGE EFFECT ON OUR TEAM'S SUCCESS, obviously. And Tracy uses it often, and usually very well, so we should not worry too much. On a side not, Grabowski should not start because he, in my opinion (I did not check any stats, this is just obsevation), is a very competent pinch hitter. He should be used as such.
2005-04-26 17:06:16
41.   subclub
I admit I'm a new Dodger fan (just moved to L.A. last summer), but I just haven't been able to figure out what Grabowski is even doing on this team. Is there a reason for keeping him on the roster (much less letting him set foot on the field)?
2005-04-26 17:10:04
42.   LAT
Jim Tracy, you are awfully hard on yourself. In your day job, when you are not managing the Dodgers, do you stand up to your boss everytime he tells you to do something you disagree with. Either you are self-employed or getting fired alot.
2005-04-26 17:17:28
43.   Eric L
The only reason that Grabowski seems to have value is that he can play a little outfield, 1st base, and he can go behind the dish in a pinch. I guess since he bats left-handed, it makes him unique or something like that.
2005-04-26 17:20:03
44.   fanerman91
I agree with the sentiment tha Choi should be moved down in the order (#7 sounds good) and that he shouldn't have been substited for yesterday. Regardless, he's still one good series away from getting out of the dog house. He's been having better at-bats of late, I wish he had a better chance.
2005-04-26 17:43:59
45.   molokai
Has anyone ever homered for the cycle?
Arod has hit a 3 run, 2 run, and grand slam home runs so far tonight and it is only the 4th inning. He only needs to hit a solo home run to complete one of the greatest feats in the 21st century.
2005-04-26 17:51:18
46.   LAT
My gosh, its only the 5th inning in NY!!!
2005-04-26 17:53:54
47.   GoBears
Ugh. This is maddening. Bringing in your best pinch hitter in a crucial situation is a good idea if and only if you think that his probability of success is higher than that of the player he's replacing. Overall, Choi is a better hitter than Saenz. Against RHP, Choi is a better hitter than Saenz. Choi is a better defensive 1bman than Saenz. Choi increases the possibility that Zona pulls their dominant starter from the game. There are only two possible answers for why Saenz batter for Choi: (1) Tracy is mesmerized by 2 weeks worth of numbers, at least in part belied by the good ABs Choi had early in the game, and on the recent road trip, or (2) Tracy just had a "gut" feeling about this specific plate appearance. The first is dumb. The second is, well, managerial prerogative. If it has worked out (more likely if Saenz had swung the bat at any of the 3 strikes) despite being unconventional in every way ("against the book") then good for JT, and he's a hero. It didn't work out (as was more likely), so he has to suffer the slings and arrows. Just like when a fielder dives for a ball he's unlikely to get, when letting it bounce would have been safer, or when a runner is out stretching for an extra base. It's a high-risk gamble, and you gotta pay the piper if it blows up in your face.
2005-04-26 17:54:53
48.   Mark
If we had Mike Sweeney, we'd never be having this discussion.
2005-04-26 17:54:55
49.   Marty
It seems that Arod had Colon figured out.
2005-04-26 17:58:33
50.   Bob Timmermann
I don't believe anyone has had a solo, 2-run, 3-run, and grand slam.

Mark Whiten, when he had his 4-homer game, had a grand slam, 2 3-run homers, and a 2-run shot. He had 12 RBIs to tie the single game record.

Shawn Green had "only" 7 RBI in his 4-homer game.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2005-04-26 18:25:23
51.   LAT
Bears your post presumes Choi is the better hitter. Why? Saenz' AVG. and OBP are .200 points higher than Choi, his SLG is more than .300 pts higher and his OPS is nearly twice Choi's. While I agree these are only 2 week numbers, they are reflective of who has the hot hand right now. When you have a hot hand do you play it out or get up from the table?

Even if you look at thier 2004 numbers Saenz exceeds Choi in each catagory, except OBS, and that's including his big numbers with Fla. last season. Take those out and look at his LA 2004 numbers and its not close.

2005-04-26 18:43:50
52.   Steve
Jim Tracy is right. Huh. Never said that very often. But the point, again, is that if you are going to pinch hit for Choi with Saenz in that situation, then Saenz should start. If he's better than Choi against Vazquez in that situation, he's better than Choi against Vazquez in every situation. If you like Saenz, then Tracy wasted three at-bats with Choi. If you like Choi, then Tracy pinch-hit for him for no reason. In other words, whether you like Choi or Saenz at first, you still have reason to dislike Jim Tracy. The manager, not the commenter.
2005-04-26 19:02:32
53.   GoBears
re LAT #51. Because Choi IS the better hitter. And to go against the platoon split he have to be markedly worse for Tracy's decision to make sense, a priori. You can't arbitarily ignore Choi's very good Florida or Chicago numbers any more than you can arbitrarily ignore his bad post-trade Dodger numbers. Both count. There is no evidence of any such thing as a "hot hand." Plenty of studies have been done of this, and both good and bad streaks are simply statistical artifacts - they will happen over time unpredictably, but the best predictor of any individual performance is the overall track record, not any small sample, good or bad. If a guy is a career .350 OBP guy, then we should expect a 35% chance that he gets on base, no matter what he's done recently, unless something has changed (e.g., an in-game injury). Now, of course that's "other things equal." Often, we have more info than an overall average. But in this case, all of those signs (platoon splits, very recent matchup success - the last 3 PAs for Choi, never for Saenz, the general belief that PHing is always tougher than taking a 4th try at the same pitcher) all pointed to letting Choi hit. Obviously, Tracy thought Saenz was more likely to be successful at that moment (either that, or it was just plain spite, which I don't believe). But the point of my post was to ask -what could have made Tracy think that? The only answers I could come up with were (1) bad inference from small 2005 sample, or even 2004-05 sample, or (2) gut feeling. I don't know what to make of the latter, but it'd be silly of me to claim that managers never just act on gut feelings. But when they ignore, or selectively ignore, the data to do so, they're taking a risk, and should be just as prepared to be criticized as lauded, depending on the result.
2005-04-26 19:02:43
54.   GoBears
I think the other point that several have made is also right - that Tracy was inconsistent. If he really believed that Saenz was more likely to be successful against Vasquez, then Saenz should have started. He either doesn't control his own lineup card, or he changed his beliefs mid-game. Given how hard Choi hit the ball in going 0-3, that seems an odd turn of events.

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