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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

Get Well, Get Well Soon, We Hope You Get Well Soon
2005-06-15 08:58
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

What else can you say?

Except, is this all because of a freakin' pepper game?

* * *

Eric Gagne is obviously the story of the day, but a couple other life-marches-on notes ...

Two years ago, Odalis Perez had the temerity to point out that the worst offense in the National League was the worst offense in the National League, and teammates and the media villified him.

This year, Scott Erickson publicly criticized the defense, and other than a small comeback from Dodger manager Jim Tracy, there was no guff.

Tuesday night, Jeff Weaver tells Tony Jackson of the Daily News, "Once our offense gets going again, all we can do is benefit from it."

Certainly, I've seen more stinging rebukes in my time. But I don't recall a single position player uttering so much as a negative word about some of the lousy games Weaver has had on the mound this season - so it leaves me feeling rather disenchanted.

I'm not suggesting that we all need to tiptoe around each other. And my point isn't even about people in glass houses.

It's just that to this day, I cannot understand the treatment Perez got in 2003. And it still rankles me.

* * *

Part of the mythology of Tracy is that he's a Strat-o-Matic manager - he played the game and understands that the probability formulas that form the tabletop game's backbone can be applied to the real thing on the field.

But there are cracks in this fable, illustrated, for example, by Tracy's fear of the double play from certain batters. ("If we hit into a double play, then it takes you right out of the inning," Tracy said to Jackson.)

Double plays in Strat-o-Matic are generated by rolling the dice and getting a "GB (position) A." You can also tell a player's bunt rating, from A to E.

Guys like Antonio Perez, facing pitchers like Mike McDougal, are not going to have "GB (position) A" come up very often on their cards. Maybe if you roll something like a 2-12 (a two with one die in combination with sixes on a pair of dice). Perez might be an A bunter, though we haven't seen evidence of that. Meanwhile, there would be a lot of actual hits on the Perez and McDougal cards.

Just something to think about.

* * *

Tut, tut. Busy times at work ... will sneak back when I can.

Comments (138)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2005-06-15 09:13:59
1.   Colorado Blue
Weaver should have noted the fact that he gave up homeruns to:
A) A guy with 3 all year
b) A guy who hit his first major league homerun

I thought Weaver pitched extremely well... however he made the mistake to pitch either a bit more aggressively or to lose his concentration on guys who aren't supposed to hit the ball out.

2005-06-15 09:14:57
2.   Colorado Blue
I meant to add that if he maintained his effort through the lineup he very well could have had a shutout after 7.
2005-06-15 09:16:52
3.   Colorado Blue
BTW: To those of you with MLBEI let's pray that we are not subjected to the Royals announcing crew again. They were awful IMO.
2005-06-15 09:18:21
4.   overkill94
I don't really fault Weaver for the Costa homer, that was a long at-bat where eventually something's gotta give. The Dejesus homer was just a matter of him not concentrating early in the game, one of his faults this year.

As for Odalis, I think the reason he got so much guff is because the offense knew it sucked so they were a bit touchy about it. On the other hand, our offense this year knows it's good, so any comment will be shrugged off, especially one as harmless as Weaver's. I agree though, Perez got a bad rap for that one, especially with how little run support he personally received.

2005-06-15 09:22:23
5.   Colorado Blue
Thanks overkill... I was going to attempt to make 4 posts in a row where I was going to ask about the specific pitches. I was involved in other activities during the homeruns and only heard the spectacularily boring Royals announcers make the calls.
2005-06-15 09:29:24
6.   aloofman
I remember the Odalis Perez Affair too. My thinking at the time was that the hitters were touchy about it because every baseball media outlet in the country had mentioned it a hundred times already. I also thought there was more to it than just that. He also had the thing where he bailed out on a start because of his fingernail and I got the impression that some of his teammates thought he wasn't a gamer. But yeah, in hindsight it seems really silly.
2005-06-15 09:30:42
7.   db1022
Weaver really should've said "Once Izturis gets it going again".

I think Bob asked in an earlier thread why are we hitting so many solo homers? Well, our leadoff hitter is 1 for his last 90, and he certainly isn't going to start taking walks now. Our #2 hitter's homerun binge is being obviously wasted, but Drew is the other guy smacking homers in June. Doesn't help him that Choi is completely all or nothing recently - either he homers or makes an out.

I really hate to harp on Izturis, but I think that you have to consider dropping him down. Relying on Izturis to be Ichiro-lite is a strategy setup for failure.

2005-06-15 09:31:12
8.   Bob Timmermann
Weaver's comments didn't seem that bad to me. He was asked a question and he responded. He seems to take responsibility when things don't go well.

Against the Tigers (after a win) he said
``I've felt good the last couple of outings,'' Weaver said. ``I think it's about time to get on a roll again and get those quality starts going and give us a chance to win each and every night.''

After the loss to the Brewers:
``I was fortunate to be able to keep putting up zeros. That's my job,'' Weaver said. ``If I give up any more runs the rest of the way, things start snowballing and the game's way out of reach. But it was too many runs to overcome.''

2005-06-15 09:35:16
9.   Steve
Who's going to start taking responsibility for botching ninth inning rallies?
2005-06-15 09:43:43
10.   Colorado Blue
I guess I felt Weaver's response was ok, too. Mostly just making an observation that it seems he had break down in his concentration.

Also, I agree with db1022 as well. The offense is pretty anemic at the moment and in large part due to Izzy's struggles. The Dodgers as a whole a very one-dimensional at the moment... not sure how many RISP they left stranded last night, but it was at least 2.

2005-06-15 09:45:29
11.   Bob Timmermann
The Dodgers left 5 runners in scoring position with 2 outs.
2005-06-15 09:49:01
12.   gvette
"WHAT ELSE CAN YOU SAY?"

Well,
1)Weaver is what he is, a serviceable, but highly overpaid #4 starter. Like all .500 pitchers (think Tim Belcher, or in his good moments, Mike Morgan)if you give him two runs, he'll give up three, give him three, he'll allow four etc. Can't imagine that he can expect to get $9.5 mil/year from anyone,even in this pitching starved market.

2)Hopefully the Times, and "ace reporter" Bill Shaikin jumped the gun on the Tommy John surgery aspect of Gagne's injury. Tony Jackson's story on Gagne was far more cautious concerning the severity of the injury. Shaikin is usually unable to write a story without irrelevant mentions of $2 Beer Night, or the Angels name change, so I would take his report with a grain of salt.

3)Anyone else think that Lima is preparing for his start tonight like its a playoff game against the Cardinals? Not winning a series against KC would truly be disappointing, especially when the Dodgers did so well against the Twins.

2005-06-15 09:53:49
13.   Steve
That is the best summary of Weaver I have read.
2005-06-15 09:54:58
14.   Colorado Blue
RE 11: Thanks Bob. There were none left with less than 2 outs? Sheez, they're having a hard time even getting them there.
2005-06-15 09:57:56
15.   Formerly R
I tend to agree with Jon that having Perez bunt last night was probably not the best move.

HOWEVER...what about the times when it is a good move? There are times late in the game when you do want to bunt a runner over. Or there are times when the pitcher is up and he should be bunting a runner over. My point is that this Dodger team is absolutely awful at bunting runners over. The pitchers, the position players, the pinch hitters, no matter who Tracy sends up there to bunt, nobody can do it.

I'm not saying Tracy should call for the bunt more, but I don't think he should have to avoid calling for it just because nobody can do it. Even though it isn't used often, it's an important skill that this team needs to get better at.

A team that doesn't do a lot of bunting obviously won't be very good at it, but this team is horrendous. Time and time again this task is botched. I know it's a small part of the game but still... Pitiful. Just pitiful.

2005-06-15 09:59:41
16.   Steve
No bunting, ever. Pitchers excluded in SOME situations.
2005-06-15 10:03:05
17.   Colorado Blue
RE Bunting: Even though it isn't used often, it's an important skill that this team needs to get better at.

It's Wallach's job to have the players sufficiently drilled. He is clearly failing on this point. It's Tracy's to recognize this and either a) quit bunting, or b) instruct Wallach to emphasize it more.

What really stinks is that Lima is going to pitch one gem this season and it will be tonight.

2005-06-15 10:04:00
18.   regfairfield
The only time when you should bunt with a position player is when there is a runner on second with no outs, and you are only playing for one run. This is the only situation where your odds of scoring even one run increase, and even in this situation, you need to be successful 91.6% of the time for it to matter. Your expected runs will always go down when you bunt.

These numbers assume a batter with a .700 OPS, which should apply to every position player in the lineup.

2005-06-15 10:04:03
19.   Steve
In fact, bunting late in games is even dumber, because you give up outs late when the "clock" is running out and you can least afford to do so, in return for a diminished chance of scoring a run. The "upside" of a successful bunt is less of a chance of scoring successfully. Why would you do that?
2005-06-15 10:04:41
20.   Colorado Blue
What I can't stand are those Izzy half-hearted show bunts on a good first pitch down the middle...
2005-06-15 10:06:36
21.   Colorado Blue
RE 18, 19: Also, the rule is to play for a win on the road... Tracy was definitely looking to tie it up.
2005-06-15 10:06:59
22.   Steve
Repko and Bradley do that too.
2005-06-15 10:09:20
23.   gvette
Steve, shouldn't you be at your Bar Review Course, brushing up on useless legal theories like the Rule against Perpetuities? Not like any of that will help in the real world when dealing with clients who don't want to pay their bill, or opposing attorneys who fly into irrational rages at depositions.

By the way, what the heck is Erickson still doing on the roster?

2005-06-15 10:09:57
24.   Steve
21 -- and reduced the chance of even tying it up. It's not a trade off of scoring one run versus scoring multiple runs. It's that a bunt (much less two -- I still can't believe that happened) reduces the chances of scoring any runs at all.
2005-06-15 10:10:53
25.   Steve
Rule Against Bunting is more important.
2005-06-15 10:17:02
26.   db1022
Home team up, runner on 2nd, no one out, tie game, 9th inning or beyond. Automatic bunt situation?
2005-06-15 10:19:10
27.   Steve
No.
2005-06-15 10:26:14
28.   regfairfield
26 - No. It depends on who is up. If someone like J.D. Drew is up, then, no, do not bunt. If it's a hitter who is likely to make an out, then yes.
2005-06-15 10:27:13
29.   db1022
#27 - Really?
2005-06-15 10:29:34
30.   Eric L
I think Weaver's comments are straight from the book of cliches.

As for the Perez thing, wasn't it Heart and Soul Lo Duca that was the most outspoken about Perez's comments?

2005-06-15 10:31:30
31.   db1022
It was also LoDuca who said the fans weren't allowed to boo. Somebody's sensitive...
2005-06-15 10:33:20
32.   the OZ
If my remembering is correct, didn't Lo Duca whine that Perez had complained about his teammates in the press rather than in the locker room...

...by himself complaining to a reporter?

2005-06-15 10:34:13
33.   regfairfield
31 - Wow, someone else actually remembers that comment.

I have booed Lo Duca ever since then, just to drive home the point.

2005-06-15 10:35:10
34.   Steve
I think that's right. I have enough reasons to hate Weaver that I don't need another one.

The rule needs to be established before exceptions to the rule can be considered. The rule should be: No Bunting. But, in any case, no, I don't see any reason to bunt with a runner already in scoring position and no outs. Three shots to win is as good as you're going to get.

2005-06-15 10:36:17
35.   Ben P
As for our offensive woes, I agree that Izturis' slump is a problem, but I think it goes beyond that. In the last three games we've drawn a total of three walks (two by Drew). Choi has said Wallach told him to be much more aggressive, and watching Werth and Grabowski swing and miss at six straight pitches in the 8th inning yesterday made me wonder if Wallach has given the whole team that advice.
2005-06-15 10:47:34
36.   Colorado Blue
26, 28 - No, but if Drew decides to bunt on his own to an infield playing back, then it may be a good risk, but not a managerial decision.
2005-06-15 10:51:08
37.   Colorado Blue
34 - How about his slow-a%$ mound walk-off at the end of an inning... it must take him 5 minutes to get to the dugout.
2005-06-15 10:54:15
38.   db1022
#34 - What about a "productive out"? At least then there's still a potential for squeezing a hit through the 2B- and 1B-men.

I guess I just love seeing the infield and outfield come up like a bad T-ball hitter's up, knowing that we just have to make contact to win the game.

2005-06-15 10:59:07
39.   Steve
Keep in mind that last night's ninth inning has me in such blinded rage that I realize I'm not making any sense at all.
2005-06-15 11:02:12
40.   Steve
Assuming of course that I ever made sense before.
2005-06-15 11:02:22
41.   brendan glynn
I hate, just hate Weaver's face
2005-06-15 11:07:40
42.   Fearing Blue
#39: Last night, I kept refreshing FJT until I read the expected reply. I hope it was as therapeutic writing it as it was reading it.

My favorite quote from Tracy:

"You want to get the tying run into scoring position," Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. "If we hit into a double play, then it takes you right out of the inning. We were trying to get a guy (Choi) to the plate who is probably the hottest hitter in baseball and we did."

He made almost the exact same comment earlier in the season when he had Choi bunt to get to Rose and then Saenz. At least he's predictable. If the current hitter is better / hotter than the subsequent hitter, it seems like it's just one more reason not to bunt. Betting the entire game on a two-out single with anyone due up is a bad strategy.

2005-06-15 11:07:42
43.   db1022
#41 - But he plays a mean guitar

http://perso.wanadoo.fr/ivy/puddle_of_mudd_blurry.htm

2005-06-15 11:11:12
44.   Bob Timmermann
For the LOB in RISP (LOBRISP will be my new mantra), I just copied the stat out of the boxscore. They just keep track of that with 2 outs.
2005-06-15 11:11:13
45.   Steve
42 -- not at all therapeutic. Much hate has this young Jedi.
2005-06-15 11:15:42
46.   Bob Timmermann
I'm getting the feeling that Jim Tracy goes for a lot of inside straights when he plays poker.
2005-06-15 11:17:40
47.   champion of choi
Did everyone notice how over-matched Werth was in the eighth-inning last night? The league knows he can't touch a fastball up in the zone.

I don't know if he is the answer in left; not to mention his suspect fielding/arm.

2005-06-15 11:18:46
48.   db1022
#47 - From the column immediately to your right:

$337,000 Jayson Werth

2005-06-15 11:23:37
49.   champion of choi
#48-I know, he's cost-effective but I don't remember him looking so feeble on balls up in the zone last year.

In last night's eighth, after he fanned on the 98mph heater up, his face betrayed him and he couldn't hide a little smirk. In the world of non-verbal cues, that was very telling. Werth can expect a steady diet of fastballs up.

2005-06-15 11:24:42
50.   Steve
Should have been bunting for Grabowski.
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2005-06-15 11:40:41
51.   Bunting is for losers
Just so you guys know, Depo is supposed to be on xtra sports with the "Cannons" today. For me that show is totally unlistenable and that only softball questions will be asked, but I'm still interested in hearing an update on Gagne, etc. Even though I'm sad to see Gagne go down and what it does to our bullpen, I think Depo might be the most disappointed because he may have been thinking of trading him soon. If he's down for a long time, there goes any possibility of doing that and us getting some decent players in return.
2005-06-15 11:49:14
52.   JT Dutch
... Couple of things:

First, I'll join the people who were outraged by the managerial decision to bunt with Perez and with Izturis. And for those who say that Cesar was bunting on his own, that doesn't get Tracy off the hook, either; at that particular point in the game, the defense was VERY mindful of a bunt -- hell, any time Izzy comes up, the defense is mindful of a bunt; but in this case, doubly so. It's the manager's job to make sure that Cesar doesn't have the green light to bunt in that situation.

A couple of days ago, Grabowski was on second base in the bottom of the 5th with the Dodgers up 3-2. Houlton was at the plate, and the obvious decision was to bunt Grabowski over to third, since there was no guarantee that Grabowski could score from second on a base hit. Houlton was instead allowed to swing away, and predictably struck out. Perez, up next, singles to left ... if Grabowski is sacrificed to third, he scores easily; instead, he is out trying to score from second. Inning over, Twins tie it up in the 6th, and only Choi's third HR of the game gave the Dodgers the winning run.

Now, you have a situation like last night, and the leadoff batter in the NINTH INNING gets on, replaced by a fast punch-runner to boot -- and the next two batters due up have averages of .357 and .304 respectively. And, a game after allowing a .000 hitter to swing away, Tracy calls for the bunt with the .357 hitter and calls for (or allows) a bunt with the .304 hitter. Two outs are burned, setting the stage for a .263 hitter, and the last out comes shorty thereafter.

Now, I recall that there was mention in yesterday's broadcast about how the Dodgers are having trouble scoring runs without the benefit of a homerun ... this fact shouldn't come as a surprise with the managerial decisions that have been made over this recent period. We have already seen the games that have been lost or nearly lost due to very obvious mistakes in handling pitchers on the staff, and now we're seeing good quality hitters wasted in absolutely critical situations due to an obsession with the bunt.

Games are being flushed down the toilet -- I think everyone here is aware that the division was won by only one game last season. It's taking a lot of the fun out of rooting for this team to see this obvious ineptitude. How much longer can this team go with Tracy before the Dodger's postseason chances have been sabotaged?

2005-06-15 12:00:41
53.   Dodgerkid
Does anyone believe that the LA Times might be behind this injury to Gagne? They goaded him about his velocity, so he overdid it and caused a tear. I'm actually relieved that if anyone is going to be gone for the season it's a reliever. If we win the division without him maybe will wake up to the fact that relievers no matter how good just aren't as valuable as starters or position players and should be paid accordingly.
2005-06-15 12:04:05
54.   Steve
(rousing applause)

I'm not sure about Houlton bunting...it would help us score too if Glenn Hoffman wouldn't windmill people around third like a drunken sailor...but that's exactly the problem. Tracy doesn't even make sense in his own bizarro Superman world, much less the real one where we blow up late inning games for no reason but vain ideology.

2005-06-15 12:05:58
55.   bojangles
Long before Bill James, thought the bunt was the most frequently mis-applied offensive strategy in the game. In this era, nobody
mis-applies it better than Jim (although Willie Randolph, one of my favorites, is doing some very puzzling work in that regard with the Metropolitans).
The lineup is showing the structural weaknesses chosen by the architect, top and bottom. If Weaver's comments (and I agree wholeheartedly about the Perez flapdoodle of two years ago - he had every right to blow his stack from time to time that year) - are grist for the O's mill, then this team is still way too mentally fragile, to say nothing of the almost-to-a-man-predictable physical breakdowns, including $21 million Odalis, ironically.
When some brave soul mentioned the possibility of trading Gagne this off-season,
I gave him my support - thought he was among a bunch whose body may have begun the the
too-many-high-stress-pitches blues. Paulie has much to prove when it comes to intuitive aspects of his cost-benefit analysis where player's ongoing health is concerned. And it would be a minor miracle if trips to DL by major contributors have reached the limit...
The minor league praises are beginning to remind me of the Brewers' run in (I think) the late eighties/early nineties, when for four or five years in a row, the post-Bambi
boys were said to have the richest pool of talent of all. Now that Gagne is hurt, wanna tell me who, besides a too-soon-to-tell-for-
sure Repko, covers the various Dodger scouting regimes with recent glory? Wanna tell me you knew of Derek T., when a young thrower was needed? What it means for the extraordinary wealth of young arms that they reached for Houston's surplus in rule 5? That before Gagne got hurt, only two of the twent-five roster guys were home-grown? Seems every year, if there are new young guys, they are not "our" new young guys (so Paulie and Co. deserve some real credit for last year's Werth and this year's Perez). The move from Spokane to Albuquerque was a strategic blunder; the move to Las Vegas an absolute failure to conceive a remedy.
In spite of all this gallimaufry, be well, blue guys...
2005-06-15 12:11:48
56.   Humma Kavula
While I'm no fan of the bunting in the 9th, Bob's point should not be taken lightly: the Dodgers left too many men on base in the early innings. The 9th is Tracy's fault and he gets low marks for it, but if Werth comes through in the 1st, Izturis comes through in the 2nd, or Perez or Izturis come through in the 4th, or Werth or Grabowski come through in the 8th, then the 9th is moot.

None of this lets Tracy off the hook; just saying that I'm not ready to put all the "Loss Shares" on him. Werth and Izturis both had multiple chances to be the hero and failed.

2005-06-15 12:15:48
57.   Steve
56 - yep, yep. Agreed.
2005-06-15 12:29:25
58.   Ben P
Re #51: DePodesta was not/is not trading Gagne. People keep forgetting that this is not the 2002 Oakland A's. Even if Gagne is "overvalued," we can afford to pay him the market price and he is a HUGE box office draw. The idea that DePo was just waiting to unload him is silly, unless we plummet into last place and are desperate to rebuild.
2005-06-15 12:30:43
59.   JT Dutch
#56

... While I will agree with you "contemplating the ifs", as it were -- the whole point of a manager, in my opinion, is to provide the best chances for the players to succeed. If Izzy and Perez don't come through in the 9th, the onus falls to them. The manager can then say, "hey, I had two .300 hitters and a guy who's hit 7 homers in the last 4 games, and they all came up with a chance to pick up a fast runner; and they all failed", and that is totally justified (at least, for me it is). And the players themselves will admit this as well. I don't mind losing; if the pitcher is just that damn good on that day and shuts down my offense with runners on, hey -- I don't necessarily blame my hitters, I tip my hat to the guy who retired them. But, I will not react well to a loss where the bat is taken out of my hitters' hands.

No matter how many chances a guy has had earlier in the game, it does not justify taking chances away later. If you have enough trust to put a man in the lineup and bat him leadoff or 2nd, then you need to trust that at some point in the contest, given enough chances, he will come through.

2005-06-15 12:35:37
60.   Fearing Blue
#52/54: Just to get the details right, in Houlton's AB, Grabowski started at 1st with 1 out. Houlton faked a bunt and swung and missed at a 1-0 pitch, and Grabowski stole 2nd. It was only after Grabowski was on 2nd with a 1-1 count on Houlton that Tracy decided to let Houlton swing away. At the time, Jon argued that Houlton shouldn't even be batting, since it was the bottom of the 5th. Tracy seems to rarely bunt with a man at 2nd, which is good. I just wish he would bunt a lot less (perhaps never) with a man at 1st.
2005-06-15 12:36:56
61.   Humma Kavula
#59 - I didn't express myself properly. I didn't mean to justify Tracy's decision to bunt with Perez/Izturis in the 9th by pointing out that both had had their chances and failed. You're right that the decision to bunt with them is inexcusable.

Separate from that, my point was that there has been a lot of criticism of Tracy on this board for last night's game and very little for the batters who didn't come through earlier in the game.

In last night's game -- like in most one-run losses -- there's plenty of blame to go around. Tracy's had games where his bungling singlehandedly lost us the game, but last night wasn't one of them.

2005-06-15 12:38:55
62.   Bob Timmermann
I didn't know I had a point. I was just responding to a question about the LOBRISP number.
2005-06-15 12:41:04
63.   Humma Kavula
Didn't mean to put, um, a point in your mouth, Bob.
2005-06-15 12:42:43
64.   Sam DC
Sheesh, I go a way for a week and you guys start arguing about bunting and Jim Tracey throwing away ball games? Next thing they'll be telling me that Phil Jackson is coaching the Lakers.

Anyhow, real busy at work and dealing with some of life's horribles (sick dad) so not a lot of time or heart for the festivities here. Was out in LA and did watch the Choi 3-fer game with said sick Dad, a Field of Dreams moment that was only sullied by spending 8 hours the next day watching the Jacko verdict and follow up.

It's funny stepping back into paper-age fandom -- checking scores and standings once a day, watching a game here or there. From that vantage, you basically see (i) the Dodgers meandering along, winning just a bit more than losing, (ii) the Padres doing the same but a bit worse, allowing us to close the gap a little without the benefit of a win streak, (iii) the Division finally starting to separate, and (iv) Cesar Izturis entering his own personal ice age from hell. May (ii) get worse and (iv) get better soon.

Lima game should be fun tonight.

2005-06-15 12:42:53
65.   JT Dutch
#60

... For the record, I wouldn't have opposed bringing in a pinch hitter at all. I just feel that a starting pitcher should have the ability to bunt a man over to third if he's going to bat for himself. For me, I would prefer to not have a wasted AB, if I can help it. I will admit that I'm not sure of how good a bunter Houlton is; he could a terrible bunter for all I know.

2005-06-15 12:47:27
66.   Bob Timmermann
I rarely have a point. I just like to fill up the blog with comments about information that may or may not be relevant.

I didn't realize I was being relevant today.

2005-06-15 12:50:08
67.   JT Dutch
#61

"Separate from that, my point was that there has been a lot of criticism of Tracy on this board for last night's game and very little for the batters who didn't come through earlier in the game."

... Fair enough. I thought the Royals got some good pitching yesterday, and they are as responsible for the Dodgers losing as anyone. Hernandez and Burgos were particularly impressive.

2005-06-15 12:51:39
68.   Bunting is for losers
#58 - I agree with you. I don't want to see Gagne go, and I'm pretty sure Depo won't do it. But you never know what is on his mind. Gagne is one of the few players on this team that I would go out to the Stadium to see. That's one thing I hate about the players on this team, and with the manager. I pay good money to go to the game and eat my hot dog, only to have Groundoutski, Robles, Edwards, et al in the starting lineup. I don't want to pay to see these chumps play. I know not every player on the team can be a star, but at least get some players that are exciting to watch. I'm sick of Weaver's little stroll off the mound and "I don't give a f&*#" attitude after giving up homers to AA players. Whatever...
2005-06-15 12:58:43
69.   Bob Timmermann
68,
Seeing your handle I keep thinking of Alec Baldwin at the beginning of "Glengarry Glen Ross".
2005-06-15 13:06:09
70.   Bunting is for losers
Enlighten me, I haven't seen that one.
2005-06-15 13:07:50
71.   db1022
#65 - Extra Innings has allowed me to see the strategies of other managers, and rarely do you see pitchers bunting with one out and a runner on 2nd. A bunt moves the player over to 3rd w/ 2 out, so nothing much gained there (other than the wild pitch argument). If you can't score from 2nd on a hit with two out, well then, you need some baserunning tips.

However, letting the pitcher swing away at least allows the opportunity to get lucky with a hit and score the run.

2005-06-15 13:08:32
72.   db1022
#68 - Jim Tracy: "The bunts are not weak, YOU are weak!"
2005-06-15 13:10:47
73.   regfairfield
Isn't the general rule that if you could go to third, but make some kind of mistake, the opposing pitcher will always throw a wild pitch?
2005-06-15 13:11:38
74.   db1022
#73 - Only if Vin looks it up first. "As we always do with a runner on third..."
2005-06-15 13:18:42
75.   Bob Timmermann
Put ... the ... coffee ... down!

Coffee is for closers.

2005-06-15 13:23:48
76.   rageon
Put me in the "what the heck was Izturis doing?" camp. Bunting in that situation is just plain stupid, that's all there is to say about that. Completely unacceptable.

I really hope the reports of Gagne's "decreased" velocity had nothing to do with the injury. I'm sure I'm not the only one who thought to themselves "so what" when the Times started running stories about how his velocity is "only" hitting 93 or so. Who cares, he was getting people out.

I watched Sunday's game with a Twins fan and a Cubs fan, both smart fans, but neither had actually seen Gagne pitch too much before. It was pretty interesting to watch/listen to their reactions to just how foolish he makes people look. By the third out, both were pretty much just silent and shaking their heads. I'll admit that I still chuckle every once and a while when he pulls out the 68 mph curveball right after the 95ish fastball and the batter misses by a few feet.

2005-06-15 13:29:46
77.   Bunting is for losers
74 - That had me rolling! All my co-workers thought I was spazzing out. I tried to explain, but I'm in Utah and no one is Dodger fan besides me.
2005-06-15 13:35:34
78.   db1022
#77 - Dang, I thought my #72 was funnier.
2005-06-15 13:42:37
79.   Bunting is for losers
i read them both at the same time, so maybe it was a combination of the two that caused me to break out in wild laughter...
2005-06-15 13:44:37
80.   Bunting is for losers
My brother loves to drop all of the "Vinny-isms" when we watch games together, which is far too infrequent these days. So that line just brought back a lot of fond memories of days gone by...
2005-06-15 13:45:08
81.   Bob Timmermann
So the guy for Fox who made the special video lead in for Gagne's arrival has to go back to doing something else now doesn't he? Perhaps Plaschke will write an article about him losing his job or something.

And blame it on Guillermo Mota.

2005-06-15 13:49:10
82.   Jon Weisman
72 - made me laugh out loud.

Regarding the comment about the player failures early on in the game - I think we all agree that we'd like the players to take the game out of the manager's hands.

The fact is that the very best offensive player reached base approximately 60 percent of the time, a good player does it 40 percent of the time, and an average player even less. Each at-bat in scoring position is a discrete event. There are going to be times when good players don't come through with runners in scoring position, one time after another. Does this mean they're not doing their job? Well, if they're .400 OBPers and they do it 40 percent of the time over the season, then they are doing their job. But failure is absolutely part of being a major league hitter.

The question is, what percent of the time should the manager be expected to make the right decision. Not get the right result, but make the right decision. Though there are some decisions that are pure tossups, I think that expectations for a manager would be much higher.

2005-06-15 14:13:22
83.   JJoeScott
Re: Strat references --

Further, the Royals had 4's all over the infield, making a double play highly unlikely to start with.

(Plus I think all of Choi's homeruns are off of the pitcher's cards, but that's a topic for another day.)

2005-06-15 14:35:25
84.   overkill94
Am I the only person who thinks the bunt is a good play? Obviously there's a time and a place, but in the "normal" bunting situations I am all for it.

- Leadoff single or double late in a close game unless it's a big power hitter
- Normally a leadoff single in the first inning, but Choi isn't the prototypical 2 hitter
- Pitcher at-bat with a runner on in basically any situation
- 1st and 2nd, nobody out

Our team has a decent amount of power, but not enough to just wait on the homer all the time, sometimes you have to manufacture runs.

People are complaining about Perez bunting last night, but that's exactly what was needed to do. Sure he's hitting .350 in limited at-bats or whatever, but that still means he gets out more often than not. If he does his job and gets the runner over, that leaves two chances for a single to score the tying run. If you don't bunt, you'll need an extra-base hit to score the run which is even more rare than simply getting a base hit. Obviously Izzy bunting was a bad idea, though who knows if it was called or not.

2005-06-15 14:41:36
85.   regfairfield
84 -

http://www.tangotiger.net/RE9902score.html

Learn it, love it.

2005-06-15 14:42:17
86.   Aug C
The Odalis Controversy...

That was Paul LoDuca's fault. He first the one who stepped up to the plate to deliver his best team-leading comments. I'm sure he added about 6 wins to that club.

2005-06-15 14:43:57
87.   champion of choi
The only reason Izturis was bunting in the ninth last night and in other crucial situations lately was because he has zero confidence in his stick (bat) right now; not the kind of guy we want/need batting leadoff.

Someone posted awhile back about Izturis having the "emptiest" batting average in MLB. He's got to moved down to the #8 hole. At this point, I'd rather have Phillips bat leadoff than Izzy, even though Phillips is so slow, he'd drowned running thru a car wash.

2005-06-15 14:45:39
88.   champion of choi
...to be moved
...drown running thru

sorry for the errors. it's hot out here in the desert.

2005-06-15 14:47:14
89.   Vic
84 -- I'm sure others will provide myriad examples of why swinging away instead of bunting is almost always more likely to result in a run being scored.

I absolutely HATE seeing a team bunt in your last example, when they have runners on first and second with no out. You already have a runner in scoring position with three chances to drive him (and the runner on first) in -- why on earth would you give up an out just for the sake of getting the other guy in scoring position as well?

2005-06-15 14:48:11
90.   Ben P
I really didn't have a problem with Izturis bunting in that situation. He has very little chance of getting an extra base hit even when he's on a hot streak, and he genuinely thought he could bunt for a single.

That said, I'd be fine with sticking Perez in the leadoff spot until he cools off and Izturis heats back up.

2005-06-15 14:51:21
91.   GoBears
Seems to me that Tracy's MO is to play "not to lose." His misguided bunts that have been discussed above have been to get that damn runner off first base, so as to make a DP unlikely. He'd rather give up an out (twice) if it means reducing the probability of a DP. Only problem is, the team doesn't get points for avoiding GIDPs. One of those guys needs to score too, Jim boy.

Here's the thing. We know it's wrong (sure, even a .360 hitter will "fail" most of the time, but asking him to bunt is asking him to not try), but I bet 100% of managers would have done the same thing, now that Earl Weaver is out of the game, and 99% of the media think the fault wasn't JT's, but the hitters for "failing to execute" a supposedly correct strategy.

So even if JT is fired for stuff like this, who in the world will DePo get to replace him? Do we really think Wallach, or anyone else, would throw out "the book" and read Bill James instead?

2005-06-15 14:55:40
92.   Jon Weisman
91 - Speaking generally, there's a first for everything, right? And you only need one.
2005-06-15 14:57:41
93.   the OZ
Actually, I detected a hint of "Huh?" in bot the LATimes and Daily News writeups of last night's game. They went out of their way to mention that Tracy asked Perez to bunt despite the fact that he's a good hitter. The writers didn't seem so sure that a bunt call was a good idea, especially against a marginal pitcher like MacDougal.
2005-06-15 14:58:49
94.   GoBears
I really didn't have a problem with Izturis bunting in that situation. He has very little chance of getting an extra base hit even when he's on a hot streak, and he genuinely thought he could bunt for a single.

Here's the thing. First, attempts to bunt for a hit have to be less likely to succeed than attempts to swing away. If that weren't true, we'd see lots more bunt attempts. Second, if Izzy had succeeded in bunting for a hit (instead of for a sac), it's 1st and 2nd with 1 out, best case scenario. If he had swung away, even without an XBH, 1st and 3rd is possible (and Choi's groundout would have scored the run).

Ichiro was rightly criticized last year for bunting for a hit with a runner on 2nd and 2 outs. Sure, he was safe, but he gave up the chance to drive in the run. Probably the only example I can think of where selfishness (adding to his hit total) was bad for the team. Usually, anything good for an individual's stats is good for the team too. The only time that bunting for a hit makes sense to me is if it's the hitter's best chance (given skill, speed, and defensive alignment) to get ON BASE, where the team needs that baserunner.

2005-06-15 15:00:23
95.   Monterey Chris
#52--

The Dodgers won the division by two games last year, not one game (as is often claimed by my Giants-fan friends).

From reading the comments from the past few weeks, it seems that Tracy is criticized for doing two things: for times that he plays by the book and for times that he does not play by the book. My guess is that he will be heavily critisized no matter what he does and regardless of whether the Dodgers win or lose.

2005-06-15 15:00:56
96.   alex 7
We can't be that far away from being able to place a computer in the dugout that flashes probabilities and percentages so the manager can simply give the team the best chance (percentage) to win. Wallach, you, and me could do that job.

It's all the leadership and behavior modification background that would probably weed us out. But finding someone to do the job wouldn't appear to be that hard if he's given help, which DePo would seemingly love to do.

2005-06-15 15:05:39
97.   GoBears
BTW, I also agree that now that Cesar has stopped hitting at a Gwynn-like average, he should be dumped down to #8. Teach him to take a pitch now and then. Since his hits never get him past first base anyway, he might find that walks are really nice too. For now, I'd try Perez at leadoff, but I like the Bradley idea if he's ever healthy again.

BTW, anyone notice that Kent and Drew are leading the team in Games Played (OK, along with Izzy)? Ironically, despite Tracy's platoon obsession, Choi and Phillips are next (b/c they've been healthy), then Ledee and Bradley, who are hurt now.

Kent/Izzy 61
Drew 59
Choi 56
Phillips 52
Ledee/Brad 48
Repko 44

This counts some PH-only games, esp. for Choi and Repko, but it shows the effects of injuries, and that, so far at least, Old Man Kent and "brittle" JD are doing just fine.

2005-06-15 15:07:04
98.   Ben P
Re #90, obviously it would have been bad for Izturis to bunt with a guy on 2nd and two outs. But in this particular case there was one out and the 3B was playing way back. Bunting for a hit can be a good play if the other team is expecting it. If you do it all the time, then the corner guys are playing up and it works less often It's true that the runner might have gone to third on a regular single, but I still don't think it was a bad play. If Izturis had laid off a bunch of pitches trying to take a walk I don't think we'd be criticizing him, and a walk would have yielded the same result as a bunt single.
2005-06-15 15:08:17
99.   bigcpa
Re: #95

I think the consensus here is Tracy goes by the book, but that his copy of the book is missing a few pages. Specifically the data linked in #85. Maybe he spilled coffee on those pages.

Chances of scoring at least 1 run:
0 out, man on 1st - 47%
1 out, man on 2nd - 41%

If you have speed on 1st and speed at the plate that 47% would go up. If you're hitter is well above league avg. it goes up again. Argh!

2005-06-15 15:09:10
100.   Ben P
Correction: "bunting for a base hit can be a good play if the other team is NOT expecting it."
Show/Hide Comments 101-150
2005-06-15 15:11:10
101.   GoBears
96: I think you're right. In-game managing should be "by the book." The problem is that the current generation of managers (and media dorks) are reading from an outdated user's manual. There's a new book, and they don't know about it, or in the case of the Joe Morgans of the world, are afraid to read it.

I also agree that the difference between a good manager and a bad one (since all would make the same in-game "mistakes") has to be in the other aspects of managing - dealing with egos, etc. As far as I can tell (which isn't very far) Tracy is pretty good at that stuff. And winning 4 more games per year by avoiding 3 sac bunts per inning may not be worth hiring a guy whose players hate him and who won't work hard for him. I don't know how to quantify those between-game skills, but I'm sure it's why poor game strategists keep their jobs, and geniuses like all of us will never work in baseball.

2005-06-15 15:15:48
102.   regfairfield
Why not hire a guy like Tracy to motivate the team, and another guy to actually make the moves.

It worked for my Cross Country team. We had the head coach who was the motivator, but when it came time to do the really horrible work that would make us better, someone else is in charge.

I have no clue if this would actually work at the big league level, but it might be worth a shot.

2005-06-15 15:16:42
103.   GoBears
If Izturis had laid off a bunch of pitches trying to take a walk I don't think we'd be criticizing him, and a walk would have yielded the same result as a bunt single.

This misses the point. Sure, taking a walk when the pitcher isn't throwing strikes is unexceptionable (unless you think that "expanding the strike zone" is a good idea). But when you square to bunt, you're making the pitcher's job easier. Especially when you're bunting for a hit, the key is surprise, so you'll bunt at a ball outside the zone fairly often. You're denying yourself the chance to hit a strike out of the infield.

But the real question is, which has a higher probability of success, bunting for a hit or swinging away? I bet that it's the latter, for almost every hitter in almost every circumstance. It's one more example of fake hustle.

2005-06-15 15:22:41
104.   Steve
What is it about Dodger fans who hate bunting that live in Utah.

Bunting for a base hit is always a horrible play. If it wasn't, more people would do it.

2005-06-15 15:25:53
105.   Steve
Managing would have to be by "a book" if not "the book," because otherwise it would just be guessing, and again, you could get the monkey to push buttons at that point.
2005-06-15 15:31:24
106.   Bob Timmermann
Bunting for a base hit isn't a bad idea in itself. It's just that not many people are very good at it anymore.

In theory, Cesar Izturis should be a good bunter because he is out of the "good fielding, no power, little guy" mold. But he isn't a good bunter.

So Cesar Izturis bunting for a base hit is a bad idea. If Cesar Izturis were Brett Butler it would be a different story.

2005-06-15 15:35:23
107.   Monterey Chris
99--

It seems a little circular to argue that Tracy goes by the book and when he doesn't it is only because his book is missing that page. Couldn't it also be that he is choosing not to go by the book in those situations.

By the way, since Joe Morgan was mentioned, his latest series of rants is about how managers misuse the bullpen, espepecially in using their closers only in the 9th inning. He thinks the closer should be considered for any hotspot late in the game, even if not the 9th. I thought it would be interesting to mention this because it might force a number of you to utter these words..."I agree with Joe Morgan."

2005-06-15 15:38:07
108.   Icaros
Steve,

If Cesar Izturis told you he would either never try to bunt again or never try to steal a base again, but you could choose only one, which would it be?

2005-06-15 15:38:43
109.   Steve
No, Joe Morgan agrees with me. If it happened more often, he'd make more sense.

I dissent from the idea that Tracy is a "book" manager. He is not. He appears to have no discernable preferences other than arbitrary whim.

As with the runner on second no out situation, I think it important to establish the rule before one establishes the exceptions. No bunting for base hits is the rule; the ninth inning after already wasting one out and down one run is not a good exception.

2005-06-15 15:40:13
110.   Steve
Icaros,

Easy.

Bunt. Bunt. Bunt. Steals can be successful.

2005-06-15 15:41:30
111.   Bob Timmermann
Gagne was officially placed on the DL and the triumphant return of Elmer Dessens is here!
2005-06-15 15:42:34
112.   Bob Timmermann
Time for some more Leo Mazzone magic! Jim Brower was signed by the Braves.
2005-06-15 15:42:44
113.   Steve
And so is Scott Erickson. We should have DFAed him when we had the chance.
2005-06-15 15:43:00
114.   Icaros
Steals can be successful.

Even for Izturis?

2005-06-15 15:43:04
115.   champion of choi
Does anyone remember years back when Karros was asked to bunt? I can't remember if actually got the bunt down or not but he was indignant in the post-game interview. he basically said, "I'm a power hitter. I should never bunt." The bunting discussion got me thinking about the history of the Dodgers and the bunt.
2005-06-15 15:44:22
116.   Icaros
"I'm a power hitter. I should never bunt."

Well, he was half right.

2005-06-15 15:46:26
117.   Steve
You made me pick one. A sacrifice is never successful by definition, unless it's thrown away, and Carrara is playing for us, not against us. A bunt for a base hit is a virtual automatic out. Steals will be successful 40-50% of the time. Hence, stealing stays.
2005-06-15 15:48:08
118.   bigcpa
I suppose "the book" refers to conventional wisdom, so in that way Tracy follows it chapter and verse. Jon, maybe you can throw out some examples of Tracy blazing his own trail. I can't think of any.

Smallball aside, my gripes with him:
1) Over-reliance on lefty/righty splits, often employing the lesser talented player.
1a) Weighing experience over talent, i.e. Ventura over Choi last year. This has been largely neutralized by DePo.
2) Assigning relievers to innings and leads/deficits.
3) The odd use of the #2 hole as the audition spot.

2005-06-15 15:48:15
119.   Icaros
I wasn't disagreeing with your choice, Steve, just having a little fun.
2005-06-15 15:50:53
120.   Icaros
Big,

Everybody knows that the 8th spot is the toughest place to hit in an NL lineup. That's why the best hitters have always batted 8th.

2005-06-15 15:51:36
121.   Steve
I am in a supremely bad mood. We lose, and we lose stupidly. The first is ok, but the second just drives me crazy.
2005-06-15 15:52:27
122.   Bob Timmermann
LA Times, August 19, 2001
" When asked if he gave any thought to having Karros drop a sacrifice bunt in the ninth, Dodger Manager Jim Tracy was succinct.

"You don't ask players to do things that they're not capable of doing," Tracy said. "We've done a fantastic job this year as a ballclub of bunting runners into scoring position. But there are circumstances, in my mind, which makes it difficult, even if you have your best bunter on your ballclub on the bench. To bunt a 95-, 96-mph [pitch], that's much easier said than done, believe me."

2005-06-15 15:57:37
123.   Steve
My own sense is that Tracy has been brainwashed by the Frank Robinson/Ozzie Guillen/Clint Hurdle "Bunting is Good in All Circumstances And We Will Go To All Absurd Extremes To Prove It To You" Police.

In other words, bunting is to Jim Tracy as Kate Hudson is to Tom Cruise.

2005-06-15 15:58:26
124.   champion of choi
Why then did he ask JD and Choi to bunt recently?

That's the thing that irritates me about Tracy. He routinely contradicts himself.

2005-06-15 15:59:49
125.   db1022
Katie Holmes?
2005-06-15 16:00:39
126.   db1022
#124 - "It's not a lie if you believe it." - George Costanza
2005-06-15 16:03:35
127.   Steve
Yeah, her too. I'm not hip to the pop culture.
2005-06-15 16:05:47
128.   Icaros
I'm not hip to the pop culture.

I find that hard to believe coming from someone in Utah.

2005-06-15 16:08:58
129.   Steve
I'm from West LA, so I knew the pop culture. Then I came up here to go to school, and the LA Times hid the Calendar section behind the pay wall. I've been playing catchup ever since.
2005-06-15 16:11:02
130.   Icaros
Hey, Calendar is free again, you know.

(I'm sure you knew).

2005-06-15 16:11:52
131.   Steve
Now I've gotten used to not reading it. I get my entertainment news from Defamer. :)
2005-06-15 16:21:14
132.   alex 7
quick question since we seem to have conflicting reports on the data.

re: 99 states we have a 47% chance of scoring a run with a runner on 1st and 0 outs.

re: 85's chart shows the odds of scoring ONE run goes up when you bunt a runner from 1st to 2nd and give up 1 out. Admittedly the chances of scoring TWO runs drop.

re: 18
"Your expected runs will always go down when you bunt."

So what's the concensus?

2005-06-15 16:25:59
133.   overkill94
Re 85:

I'm all for statistics and all, but that sabermetric table is quite flawed. You can't just go by the numbers because of the numerous factors that go into it. For example, if the leadoff batter in an inning gets on base and has Pujols and Walker behind him, he'll have a better chance than Desi Relaford and Danny Ardoin (just using some examples from today's lineups around the MLB).

My point is, when you don't have hitters who are big sluggers coming up, it's better to bank on a single scoring a run than either a flurry of hits or an extra-base hit. As well as Perez is doing so far, he only has 7 XBHs in 84 at-bats. Izzy only has 14 in 160 at-bats, but he does have 79 hits in those 160 at-bats. It's a little late to try for the big inning when you're in the 9th, so my philosophy ("the book") is to do what you can to get that one run.

2005-06-15 16:32:46
134.   bigcpa
Re: 132
The concept of "expected runs" refers to averaging all outcomes in that situation, i.e. 3 run innings pull up the total run expectancy. This is misleading/useless when trying to score exactly 1 run, especially in a tie-game at home, 9th or later.

This chart gives you the odds of scoring each precise number of runs. So the best way to read it is take the inverse of the odds of scoring 0. GIDP is already factored into these outcomes. This is hitting 16 against a dealer 7. It sucks to bust but you have to play the odds.

2005-06-15 16:44:13
135.   bigcpa
Eaton is down 4-1 with 50 pitches through 2.
2005-06-15 17:00:47
136.   DodgerJoe
With all this bunt/no bunt talk....has anyone ever heard of play to win on the road and to tie at home?

IMO, no way should Perez have tried to bunt.

On another note, is anyone else REALLY frustrated with Jayson Werth? Or have I not given him enough time?

2005-06-15 17:08:50
137.   the OZ
Against Burgos, Werth struck against against a very fine young pitcher with a great fastball. That's forgivable.

I expect/hope he'll come around soon.

2005-06-16 01:42:30
138.   Louis in SF
133's point is excellent and the whole issue of to bunt or not to bunt obscures what is starting to be a bigger issue having to play a number of people who are limited in what they can do everyday. Grabowski and right now Werth and as good as he has been Olmado Sanez in my mind are not everyday players-finding the right place and the amount of at bats is the crucial thing. This is one of the reasons why run production seems to be going down and you end up arguing about a bunt in the ninth inning against the Royals, where in theroy you should have had enough runs so you wouldn't be in that position. Don't know when Ledee and Bradley are coming back, but we need them back soon.

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