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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
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Doghouse Diary
2005-04-27 09:00
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

You might not remember when our skies were blue or our freeways were a pleasure. You might not even remember what you had for lunch two days ago. (You had chicken. No, no - trust me, it was chicken.)

Here's one other thing you might not remember: Hee Seop Choi actually got off to a good start when he joined the Dodgers.

In his first game with the Dodgers, on July 31, Choi faced perhaps the best pitcher in the National League West, Jake Peavy. Choi fouled out, doubled to deep right and grounded into a double play. In his final at-bat, against Akinori Otsuka, he was walked intentionally. In sum, Choi produced three total bases and three outs.

As you'll see, that game was the last complete game Choi would play for more than a week. Despite this, Choi's blue skies in Los Angeles weren't limited to a single day:

August 1: Choi struck out as a pinch-hitter - against Trevor Hoffman.

August 2: no game.

August 3: Choi did not play.

August 4: Choi doubled in his first at-bat, against Pittsburgh. The future maligned first baseman was now 2 for 5 with two doubles and a walk as a Dodger. Choi later struck out and flied out. In the eighth inning, Olmedo Saenz pinch-hit for Choi and struck out.

August 5: Choi grounded out as a pinch-hitter.

August 6: Choi entered the game defensively in the 10th inning. He struck out in his only at-bat.

August 7: Choi started. He struck out, hit an RBI double, popped out and walked, playing the entire game.

Choi was now 3 for 12 with three doubles and two walks, giving him an OPS of .857 after more than a week with the Dodgers. He hadn't hit a home run, but he had made considerable headway in stop-and-start traffic, with some good power in his engine.

This was Choi's peak, however, though his decline was slow, not sudden.

August 8: Choi flied to left and struck out, then came out in a double-switch in the sixth inning.

August 9: no game.

August 10: Choi struck out in his first at-bat, then hit a sacrifice fly deep enough not only to score Adrian Beltre but allow Shawn Green to advance from second base to third. He then flied to center and was hit by a pitch. His batting average as a Dodger fell to .188 and his OPS to .675, but he completed his third game.

August 11: Choi did not play.

August 12: Choi walked twice, flied out and grounded out.

August 13: Choi grounded out twice and struck out. Saenz pinch-hit for him and singled. Choi was now 3 for 21 - all the hits doubles - with four walks and an HBP.

August 14: Choi did not play.

August 15: Choi started against Mark Prior and had his fourth double, a groundout and a single. In the top of the eighth, Jose Hernandez hit for Choi and lined out. Choi improved to 5 for 24 - a .208 batting average and a .708 OPS. Against Peavy and Prior combined, Choi was 3 for 6 with two doubles; against the rest of the league, he was 2 for 18 with some walks.

In any event, one could expect better than a .708 OPS from a platooning first baseman. Choi was in trouble.

And then, from August 16 through September 4, Choi went 4 for 30 (all singles) with six walks. Following his 1 for 4 performance on September 4, Choi was benched from starting in the pennant race for good.

So what of it?

As a Dodger in 2004, Choi had 76 plate appearances, a number that many have felt was too small to judge him upon. In fact, the negative segment of Choi's 2004 Dodger debut was even smaller. Indulge me in some hairsplitting for just a moment, courtesy of the Baseball Musings Day-by-Day Database:

July 31 - August 7: 14 plate appearances, .857 OPS

August 8 - October 3: 62 plate appearances, .454 OPS

Okay. So for a week he was good, and for a few weeks, he was about as bad as he could be. Or so one would have thought. Let's look at 2005:

April 5 - April 10: 18 plate appearances, .289 OPS

Ugh.

April 11 - April 26: 38 plate appearances, .966 OPS

This last figure, of course, is boosted by his 4 for 5 performance (with a home run) Tuesday night. But it hardly seems fair to leave that out, with all the gruesome stats that have fallen on his ledger.

As a Dodger, Choi now has 132 plate appearances and a .632 OPS. The OPS is completely inadequate for anyone who doesn't pitch. But as we can see from splitting hairs, that bland OPS hides some wild fluctuations.

Which leads us to this comparison:

Choi with Florida and Chicago: 642 plate appearances, .814 OPS
Choi with Los Angeles: 132 plate appearances, .632 OPS.
Career: 774 plate appearances, .782 OPS

Is Choi a .632, a .782, or an .814? Or is he something even better? Choi just turned 26 years old. He is nearing a make-or-break point, but he hasn't reached it yet. He just hasn't. Many people watched him in the opening week of the season and decided his swing, so slow with so many holes, was irretrievably bad. Since then, Choi has gone on, if one might be so reckless to say it, a tear.

We are inching closer to an answer on Choi, but we are not there yet. Those who are behind him need to remember he can be very bad, and those against him need to remember that he can be very good.

Comments
2005-04-27 11:34:32
1.   Jim Hitchcock
No, really, I had a spam sandwich...which is kinda cool now that Farmer John has been bought out by Hormel.

I really do hope things work out for Choi. But, of course, we all do. He plays a decent first base. Let's hope the added confidence of a four hit game (and the memory of a stadium chanting his name) stick with him.

2005-04-27 11:47:09
2.   Adam M
He needs a catchy nickname.

How about "Bop Choi"?

2005-04-27 11:49:13
3.   scareduck
>>Since then, Choi has gone on, if one might be so reckless to say it, a tear.<<

Not a tear, but maybe a rip? A wardrobe malfunction?

Choi could go either way. The Choi-ce is his.

2005-04-27 11:51:11
4.   the OZ
Hee-Man?

Happy Happy Choi Choi?

AttaChoi?

2005-04-27 11:57:28
5.   Landonkk
Too bad we have no chance of seeing him tonight since Halsey is pitching. Or what if Tracy finally gained enough confidence in him to start him against a lefty?.... Yeah right.
2005-04-27 12:02:58
6.   blue horseshoe
Fielders Choi'ce?
2005-04-27 12:15:15
7.   Mark
Guys, Hee Seop is Korean. There's only one possible nickname for him.

The .038 Parallel.

2005-04-27 12:16:32
8.   DougS
Sonofagun, Jon! I did have chicken sausage and scrambled eggs for lunch two days ago. And it didn't sit well with me, I'm afraid....

It's not too late for Hee-Sopmania to break out. A good, solid season would win the town over. Last night's performance strikes me as a really good sign, although it would have been even better if he'd driven in the game-winning runs. Shows some resiliency on his part; either he's ignoring the critics or they don't bother him much.

2005-04-27 12:43:32
9.   bigcpa
Someone tried to tell me Choi was a mistake hitter that couldn't hit good pitching. So I pulled up all his HR to look at the opposing pitchers. Turned out his 27 HR broke down something like this:

Good pitcher: 2 (Sheets, K Wells)
Mediocre: 7 (Tomko, R. Ortiz, Livan)
Sucky/Out of baseball: 18

Maybe that's about right for a 23-25 year old player. But it's no Blalock taking Gagne deep in the All Star game stuff.

2005-04-27 12:48:59
10.   Jon Weisman
Choi hit 7 percent of his homers off "good" pitchers. What would the breakdown be for an average hitter?

What percentage of pitchers today are "good" pitchers? Perhaps more to the point, what percentage of innings pitched are pitched by good pitchers?

Not to take this stuff too seriously, but would one expect any old batter - even a good one - to hit more than 10 percent of his homers off good pitching? There are so many more bad pitchers.

I suppose that as I ask this, in the wake of A-Rod last night, I should find out if Bartolo Colon is a good pitcher. I mean, is Colon better than Livan?

2005-04-27 12:54:13
11.   Marty
Is Colon better, or the Livan easier?
2005-04-27 13:21:58
12.   Eric L
The real question...

Who is fatter?

2005-04-27 13:24:09
13.   Bob Timmermann
On Monday I had tofu, eggplant, rice, and ... chicken for lunch.
I had eels and mozarella cheese for dinner.
2005-04-27 13:28:34
14.   Xeifrank
What? No Sesame Street references? You are losing it my friend. :)

vr

Xeifrank

2005-04-27 13:29:08
15.   the OZ
Bartolo is fat, but Livan is Orca fat...
2005-04-27 14:03:53
16.   jdl
Nickname?
Balk Choi.
2005-04-27 14:21:36
17.   joekings
what about the one vinnie came up with....Hee Sop's Fables.
2005-04-27 14:58:18
18.   Bleeding Blue in Colorado
He Suck Choi is my choice.

BTW I am Korean so you guys can't call me a Homer.

2005-04-27 15:11:10
19.   Linkmeister
Kim Choi?
2005-04-27 15:14:06
20.   Fearing Blue
I dislike listening to announcers who constantly complain about the umpiring, especially without providing both sides. It's probably because I've been spoiled by Vin. I'm watching the White Sox - Oakland game and Joe Crede slightly leaned into a slow rainbow curve in the top of the 9th with two on. The umpire, Hunter Wendelstedt, in my view rightfully, didn't give him the HBP. On the other hand, most umpires would probably give him the base for it, anyhow. Well, based on that play, the White Sox announcers have just declared that the umpires "don't want the White Sox to score."
2005-04-27 15:24:32
21.   Steve
White Sox announcers get an automatic mute. So do Rocky announcers. Absolutely painful to listen to.
2005-04-27 15:29:55
22.   Suffering Bruin
Normally I wait for the game chat to post but I think this is as good a place as any.

-----------------------------------------------
TODAY'S FACT OF CHOI, SB'S FAVORITE PLAYER, 2005:

Disclaimer: The following was provided by BIGCPA. I, Suffering Bruin, had nothing to do with it. This is all the work of BIGCPA.

Mitch and Peter, this was not a difficult thing to do...

Last Saturday the Brewers' Russell Branyan became the 8th visiting player
to homer into SBC Park's McCovey Cove in 5+ seasons. This short list of
launching lefties includes our own Hee Seop Choi:

Russell Branyan 4/23/05
Cliff Floyd 8/21/04
Corey Patterson 8/7/04
Hee Seop Choi 4/30/04
Ryan Klesko 4/9/03
Luis Gonzalez 5/30/02
Mark Grace 5/28/01
Luis Gonzalez 9/23/00
Todd Hundley 6/30/00

2005-04-27 15:33:55
23.   Langhorne
It seems that Tracy has turned the debate over Choi from 'can he play?' to 'will we ever get a chance to really see if he can play?' I have been a strong critic of Choi since he came here. I didn't think he had shown much in the past. Or maybe it was just the stigma of him being sent down by the Cubs. The Cubs! That's like being sent down by the Rockford Peaches. However, he is the best first baseman we have. He has shown some ability and any negative feelings I have about him have been redirected to his manager. Play him, Tracy. You can only be pleasantly surprised or vindicated.
Two days ago for lunch I had a couple of Dodger Dogs and some peanuts. Really. I wake up around noon so lunch for me is early evening and dinner is about 3a.m. Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.
2005-04-27 15:58:11
24.   Jon Weisman
The thing is, Choi was not sent down by the Cubs - he sent to Florida in a trade for Derrek Lee, who is currently batting .430 with seven home runs. Say what you will about which player you'd rather have, but this should hardly be a stigmatizing indignity for Choi.

Choi was then sent to Los Angeles with Penny in the Lo Duca/Mota trade. This is not directed at you, Langhorne, but this is an example of some observers trying to have it both ways. They say Choi is damaged goods because he has been traded twice - but meanwhile, they have all kinds of praise for the players he was traded for. So he wasn't exactly a discard.

2005-04-27 16:11:29
25.   GoBears
What is more, for a young hitter to be jettisoned by Dusty Baker (and the Cubs in general) is certainly no stigma. Dusty likes old dudes, other than young pitchers he can abuse. He should start every game with a rousing Rev Tevya rendition of "TRADITION!" and then send out a lineup of players who must be good, because they've been around so long. I mean - Shawon Dunston?! Tom Goodwin?! Benito?!
2005-04-27 16:12:35
26.   GoBears
OK, I'm off to Chavez Ravine. Sellout and rush hour, so I figure 3 hours to go 12 miles oughtta be about right...
2005-04-27 16:17:11
27.   Linkmeister
Darn, GB, maybe you should just walk.
2005-04-27 16:44:44
28.   Langhorne
Jon, Choi was sent down by the Cubs. I remember because a friend in Chicago told me aboutthe controversy there that Karros caused over wanting more playing time. Choi played 18 games for Iowa in 2003 and was in only 80 games for Chicago. He was traded to Florida the following off season. I don't seriously see being traded or being sent down as a mark against a player, especially a young player. Mota was traded and I don't think he is bad. It's a neccessity of the game. But Choi didn't play well with the Cubs. He did play well for the Marlins. My real point is that the way Tracy is using him we will never find out who the real Hee Seop is.
2005-04-27 16:46:38
29.   Steve
As long as the Cubs have come up, when will the Cardinals take their first double digit lead in games? I have middle of June.
2005-04-27 16:55:06
30.   Jon Weisman
Choi was having a great 2003 for the Cubs - .885 OPS - until he conked his head. He went on the DL, Dusty gave Karros the job and Choi couldn't get it back - because Dusty used him even more sporadically than Tracy has been. I may have missed Choi being sent down, but I think it's wrong to say he didn't play well with the Cubs.
2005-04-27 20:16:41
31.   socalcardfan
He probably got sent out on a rehab assignment after being hurt. He was playing very well up to that point.

Judging by the general feeling of Dodger fans about him, I guess "The People's Choi(ce)" is out of the question.

2005-04-27 23:31:24
32.   Todd
Yeah, I've been calling him Hee Sucks Choi but I do like the guy and hope he succeeds this year. I think he will. It's nice having Olmedo Saenz (signs, everywhere the signs) back of him though....and Nakamura, well, 4-28 is a small sample....

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