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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
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Has the Season Started?
2005-06-16 09:17
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

It isn't just the Dodgers, and it isn't just the National League West. Mediocrity, or worse, has gripped practically the entire National League.

Projected Wins/Team
102 St. Louis
96 Washington
90 San Diego
88 Philadelphia
86 Chicago
85 Florida
85 Arizona
84 Los Angeles
82 Atlanta
80 New York
77 Pittsburgh
72 Milwaukee
67 San Francisco
66 Houston
65 Cincinnati
54 Colorado

Who do you like in this bunch? Perhaps the Cubs have the wild card edge right now - they're doing okay and getting healthier. On the other hand, they have to play St. Louis 14 more times this season.

Among the challengers to the Cardinals, if April was the Dodgers' month and May was the Padres', June has become the Washington Nationals. Like their two predecessors, however, it wouldn't shock me if the Nationals fell on hard times a month from now.

Philadelphia may well prove my theory that Larry Bowa was the problem all along and pass Washington. I still sort of like the Mets as a big-city underdog, and for all of their problems, I still don't count out the Marlins (though I've been ready to count out Atlanta, and Arizona, for a while).

The Dodgers haven't really played great baseball for two months now, yet there they are in the thick of it. I'm like the rest of you: I want the team that wins to be a good team. But so far, four good teams haven't been revealed.

In some ways, it feels like the real season hasn't even started, and that it may not start until after the trading deadline.

Comments (60)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2005-06-16 10:08:00
1.   db1022
I'm not sure the Cubs have enough hitting, unless Prior, Wood, Maddux, and Zambrano are firing on all cylinders. Then there's the little matter of the bullpen there too.

Not sure what Washington was thinking with the Spivey deal (Ohka threw a shutout the other night, albeit against TB).

As usual, the team who makes the biggest splash at the deadline will probably make it to the postseason.

I guess your point, though, is that there's usually at least 2, usually 3, strong teams that seem like obvious playoff teams.

2005-06-16 10:10:43
2.   Colorado Blue
Nice observation Jon. The NL, with the exception of the Cards, does feel wide open to the most fortunate of the mediocre.
2005-06-16 10:21:20
3.   db1022
The Urbina trade looks good for the Phils, just because it clears a path for Chase Utley (I'm biased though because I correctly tagged him as my sleeper starting second baseman in my fantasy league).
2005-06-16 10:22:47
4.   Bunting is for losers
This is totally off topic, but does anyone else listen to the Xtra Sports stream on the internet? I want to blow my freaking brains out during commercial breaks. Between the commercials of the Cannons saying how much they love Hoobastank and the dude from KFI promoting 'Go to my PC' or Anti-Virus software (uh, how about just buying a Mac), or bits from the Mancow show, it's enough to make me jump out of my office window. And then they repeat them every break! I would just mute it, I have a co-worker with the most annoying laugh in the world and this is the only way I can avoid hearing. It seems as though I'm in a pickle (see, I worked in something about baseball!)
2005-06-16 10:31:46
5.   Brian Y
I have no idea if it's been talked about or not but Edwin Jackson has been demoted to AA to hopefully regain his confidence and Eric Stultz has been promoted from AA to AAA. Good luck to both!
2005-06-16 10:34:54
6.   db1022
#5 - Finally. Long overdue, IMO. Should be very good for him, as long as it doesn't shatter his confidence.
2005-06-16 10:35:37
7.   Bob Timmermann
Since Frank Robinson has gone on my proscription list, I don't think I have a dog in the NL East hunt anymore.

The Phillies will be without Randy Wolf most likely as he is headed for Gagne's fate.

Tim Hudson might be going on the DL for the Braves also.

2005-06-16 10:36:27
8.   Bunting is for losers
Yeah, best wishes to Edwin. Hopefully getting out of that launching pad in Las Vegas will help him.
2005-06-16 10:38:05
9.   db1022
I like Delgado and Cabrera, so I could stand to see Florida win.
2005-06-16 10:43:02
10.   Fearing Blue
Double posting, since I accidentally posted in the TV thread the first time :). Here is Will Carroll's assessment of Gagne from today's UTK:

"A second-degree sprain doesn't sound so bad, but for the Dodgers, it's the worst possible thing they could hear. No, I guess there's worse; a third-degree--complete--tear of the UCL would be more problematic, but with that, at least there would be less uncertainty. Eric Gagne will know more next week after Frank Jobe gets a look at him. The hope is that the sprain--a "partial tear" in common parlance--is not so severe to necessitate a re-do of his Tommy John surgery, but indications are that everyone is prepping for that. Gagne was put on the DL; a best-case scenario is that he'll be back in six to eight weeks, much as he was after a similar but less severe injury during spring training."

2005-06-16 10:43:37
11.   Bob Timmermann
The Marlins do have Heart and Soul®, so they have what it takes to win the NL East don't they?

Jack McKeon has more knowledge in his vestigial tail than the rest of the NL East combined!

2005-06-16 10:46:13
12.   Fearing Blue
#1: BP's analysis of the Ohka deal is that Ohka isn't nearly as good as his ERA and Spivey probably adds at least 1 win for the Nationals over Jamey Carroll. Still probably a better deal for the Brewers because of Ohka's upside, but a lot closer deal then people think.
2005-06-16 10:48:57
13.   Fearing Blue
#8: The one question remaining is who is going to fill the now open slot in the AA rotation? Stults and Jackson were flip-flopped and Broxton was moved to the bullpen.
2005-06-16 10:52:06
14.   Bob Timmermann
Omen for tonight's game?

K.J. Choi shot a 1 under par 69 in the first round of the U.S. Open. (K.J. = Kyoung-Ju)

Perhaps H.S. Choi will have a good day today.

2005-06-16 10:52:46
15.   Bob Timmermann
The Tigers are beating the Padres again, 2-1 in the third.

Bonderman vs. Williams.

2005-06-16 10:54:27
16.   Brian Y
I would look for Orenduff or Tiffany to take that spot. Broxton was always compared to Eric Gagne and considered a potential closer so this shouldn't surprise many of us. He could be up sooner rather than later if he proves he has the mental make-up to close. They eased him in last night with an inning. Lets see how he does in a few more back to back appearances.
2005-06-16 10:54:34
17.   the OZ
Dare I say "Let's Hear it For the Chois" ?
2005-06-16 10:55:36
18.   db1022
#12 - Is that winshare only for the next 6 weeks until Vidro is back, or projected over the course of the season.

And there's the Rickie Weeks factor, who now gets a starting slot at 2B for Mil.

2005-06-16 10:57:32
19.   Jon Weisman
Before Frank Robinson got into it with Mike Scioscia, he got into it with Ohka. He can't get rid of Scioscia, but he could get rid of his pitcher.
2005-06-16 10:57:36
20.   Brian Y
Weeks is not ready. He can hit but his defense will cost them runs. It cost them 2 last night.
2005-06-16 11:02:04
21.   db1022
#19 - Certainly that was a motivating factor for Washington. Too bad, because I think they got hosed.
2005-06-16 11:12:01
22.   heato
I want the Dodgers to win the World Series (or at least get there). If they don't get there, however, I want to see Washington and Anaheim. I don't particularly like either team, but I would love to see Mike and Frank going at it for another four or more games.
2005-06-16 11:13:43
23.   Fearing Blue
I posted this in an earlier thread, but thought it would be more relevant here considering the topic. Below are the division rankings based on their overall winning percentages:

1. NL East - .532 (173 - 152)
2. AL Central - .524 (166 - 151)
3. AL East - .500 (163 - 163)
4. AL West - .496 (127 - 129)
5. NL Central - .482 (186 - 200)
6. NL West - .469 (151 - 171)

Baseball Prospectus' uses adjusted standings to determine team quality. Essentially, they look at key statistics to estimate runs score and allowed, and then apply their Pythaganport formula to determine expected winning percentage for each team. Here are combined results for each division.

1. AL Central - .537 (170.2 - 146.8)
2. AL East - .531 (172.9 - 152.9)
3. NL East - .507 (164.2 - 159.8)
4. AL West - .507 (129.1 - 125.7)
5. NL Central - .491 (189.5 - 196.3)
6. NL West - .430 (138.6 - 183.4)

One of these things is not like the other...

2005-06-16 11:13:43
24.   the OZ
Dave Roberts has done two uncharacteristic things today: Homered and GIDP.
2005-06-16 11:13:58
25.   champion of choi
I have to say that I lost a lot of respect for Mike Scioscia. The guy is a born cheater. Anyone remember who was catching Jay Howell when he got busted in the '88 playoffs for using pine-tar.

Anything that adds weight to a baseball (i.e. pine-tar, vasoline) will affect the spin positively.

The fact that he tried to weasal out of it by saying "everyone" does it was immature and incorrect. Specifically, he had the umps inspect the Nats pitcher the following inning, which revealed no pine-tar in the subject mit, which disproves his contention that "everyone" does it.

2005-06-16 11:14:35
26.   Fearing Blue
#18: It was over the expected 6-8 week period until Vidro gets back. They expected him to contribute additional value off the bench after that though.
2005-06-16 11:17:40
27.   Fearing Blue
#16: Another (at least I think) intriguing possibility that I mentioned in another thread is to move Hong-Chih Kuo up to AA. He's coming off two Tommy John surgeries and has had three impressive starts for Vero Beach. Also, at 24, he's older than most of our other pitching prospects.
2005-06-16 11:18:49
28.   the OZ
I like BP a lot, but their Adjusted 3rd-Order standings are sorta weird, and tend to be overly bearish on pretty much everyone. They have only the Orioles, Twins, ChiSox, and Cards to win 90+ games, with none of them at 95 wins. It's fun, but I think it tends to minimize the talent difference between teams. What it's good at, though, is exposing teams that have been extremely lucky (like the ChiSox and Nationals).
2005-06-16 11:20:39
29.   Bob Timmermann
I don't think Scioscia was in the right, but I also think that Frank Robinson is really crazy and his "I'm not the forgiving type" makes him look like a petulant jerk also.

The way managers get upset at players I think is always related to their production. Ohka was not pitching well, so Robinson got rid of him. Guillen has played well so far, so he is "misunderstood".

Ask Milton Bradley about how much bad behavior is tolerated in relation to one's onfield performance. When Guillen has his Lo Duca-like second half, his attitude probably won't be as enjoyable for the people of the District.

And I'm still mad that Robinson stunk so much for the Dodgers in 1972. We gave up Doyle Alexander to get him! But we got Andy Messersmith for him later so the net advantage went to the Dodgers.

2005-06-16 11:22:23
30.   Fearing Blue
#28: I agree. I just thought it amusing how bad the NL West is. The good news is that the system projects the Padres and Dodgers as just about even.
2005-06-16 11:23:36
31.   Icaros
29 - But if we would have kept Doyle Alexander we could have traded him for John Smoltz in 1987.
2005-06-16 11:23:57
32.   Jon Weisman
23 - the thrust of this is well taken, especially when talking about who is likely to win the World Series. As far as making the playoffs, of course, some National League West team will probably win 90 games easily, thanks to playing beating up on the others within the division. And it wouldn't shock me to see two teams do it. I think the Cubs and Phillies might have trouble making it to 90 wins - even if they end up with statistically better teams than those in the NL West.
2005-06-16 11:26:57
33.   Fearing Blue
#32: I agree. Even though the best 2nd place team will likely come from the NL East, the Wild Card team will likely come from the NL Central or NL West.
2005-06-16 11:38:50
34.   Bob Timmermann
The 1987 Dodgers needed a lot more help than Doyle Alexander. Or John Smoltz. And I don't think Smoltz for Alexander is all that bad when you realize that the Tigers won their division in part because Alexander was so good down the stretch.

Now, if you start talking about the "Buttercup" trade or even the Rafael Landestoy for John Franco deal, then you're talking about some bad trades.

2005-06-16 11:38:54
35.   the OZ
Does anyone else feel like the season hasn't started yet? I saw a comment like that somewhere and it summed up my feelings pretty well. We had three replacement-type players in the lineup last night (Perez, Edwards, Grabbo), four if you count Werth, and no bullpen anchor.

I keep waiting for the 'real' Dodgers to show up, but it never happens.

2005-06-16 11:40:17
36.   Bob Timmermann
Everything will be better once Paul Bako comes back.
2005-06-16 11:41:39
37.   db1022
#35 - And they won't show up this year, unless we get miraculous news on Gagne.
2005-06-16 11:43:41
38.   Bob Timmermann
Everything will be better when Ricky Ledee comes back.
2005-06-16 11:44:12
39.   Bob Timmermann
Chris Shelton homered in the 7th to give the Tigers a 3-1 lead.
2005-06-16 11:50:35
40.   dagwich
Went to my annual Mudcat-Suns game last night in Zebualon, NC (outside of Raleigh but not far from Lizard Lick). Being a Wednesday night, there were only a couple thousand people there so I moved around a bit...sat above the Sun's dugout and ended up behind home plate with the guys with the speed guns.
Impressions:
Guzman is TALL. At bat he reminds me of Strawberry, graceful but quick swing. He hit some long, very hard foul line drives, but only got 1 hit (and an RBI) on a lucky bloop hit. He also made a very nice grab of a hard ground liner to start an inning-ending DP. I know he has lots of errors at 3rd, but he seems pretty comfortable there. I can't wait til he hits the bigs.
Loney -- very slick at first, made some very nice grabs there. Not impressive last night at the plate, at least 1 K but did not hit anything hard.
Broxton: WOW! Don Drysdale big, hard thrower, lots of action on the pitches. People were oohing and ahhing. One pitch hit 103 on the scoreboard display -- I turned to one of the 3 speed gun guys and said "103? C'mon, now", and he said he had 97 on his gun, I would guess that is closer to the truth. The first batter got a solid single off the wall, but he struck out 2 in 1 inning's work. If he is being groomed for a Gagne type role, even temporarily, I can get behind it. We was scary good last night.
2005-06-16 11:51:46
41.   dagwich
That should he "He was scary good last night."
2005-06-16 11:53:10
42.   Bob Timmermann
Things will get better once Dazzy Vance is resurrected.
2005-06-16 11:56:44
43.   LAT
I would imagine not, but have the Royals swept anyone this season?
2005-06-16 11:57:22
44.   Bob Timmermann
Anyone who is another Don Drysdale on the mound better be "scary good". It would scare me to see him there.
2005-06-16 11:58:01
45.   Bob Timmermann
The Royals swept some team from New York last week.

The Yan something or others.

2005-06-16 12:03:53
46.   Icaros
The Royals also swept the Angels this year, IIRC.

Re: Alexander for Smoltz. I didn't mean help for the '87 Dodgers, really. We need him now!

2005-06-16 12:06:32
47.   Jon Weisman
New post above re: Jacksonville.
2005-06-16 12:09:13
48.   Icaros
At least the Padres offense is struggling as bad as LA's. Just swept by Detroit.
2005-06-16 12:09:30
49.   overkill94
Bochy really shot himself in the foot with his lineup tonight

1. Lefty
2. L
3. L
4. L
5. L
6. R
7. S
8. R
9. L

So essentially six batters in a row are lefty (9 through 5), which made it easy for the Tigers' lefty specialist to get through the 8th inning (faced 9,1,2,3).

2005-06-16 12:09:55
50.   Bob Timmermann
I thought you wanted Doyle Alexander on the Dodgers now.
But since he's 54, I think his fastball doesn't quite have its same pop.
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2005-06-16 12:12:56
51.   Bob Timmermann
Woo hoo, we can lose and not lose any ground AGAIN!
2005-06-16 12:14:46
52.   Icaros
I bet Doyle's fastball has as much pop as Scott E's.
2005-06-16 12:15:39
53.   Icaros
I want Smoltz now, starting and closing.
2005-06-16 12:26:46
54.   Colorado Blue
51 - Yeah, but if SF and Colorado win then they threaten to close the gap... (sarcasm)

AZ doesn't even have to play to gain ground! (not-so-funny)

2005-06-16 12:34:54
55.   Stefan
At what point, though, do you start to ignore the Pythagen-whatever records and focus on the actual records.

Yes, Arizona has outperformed their Pythagorean records thus far. But the season is, indeed, more than 40% complete. The Yankees last year out performed their Pythagorean record by 12 games -- the D-Backs are barely above that pace.

At some point (probably about the trading deadline), the Pythagorean debate becomes pointless for about 4 months (until we start reviewing the season).

And I don't see any reason why the Diamondbacks won't, at worst, be within shouting distance of the division lead.

Really, in this division, why not the Diamondbacks?

2005-06-16 12:53:27
56.   the OZ
55- Russ Ortiz.
2005-06-16 13:07:47
57.   Fearing Blue
#54: I don't think there ever is a point in the season you start ignoring Pythagorean projections. For good teams, you can usually explain the discrepancies (strong bullpen, high variation in quality of starters, etc.). For not-so-good teams (see the Cincinnati Reds around this time last year), the Pythagorean theorem is a big warning that if the extreme luck doesn't hold up, there's going to be bad times ahead. Even if we didn't have Pythagorean, I wouldn't be worried about the Diamondbacks, because the Dodgers (if healthy) and Padres are both fairly significantly better teams.
2005-06-16 13:59:35
58.   molokai
Why do you think the Dodgers have a significantly better team then the Diamondbacks? I think your overestimating the current Dodgers and underestimating the Diamondbacks. With Conor Jackson/Carlos Quentin/Scott Hairston they have 3 bullets that can be used to strengthen their team either as callups or serious trade help. They need big help in the bullpen but Aquino just came back and Lyon is not far off. Wouldn't shock me at all to see this team playing for something come September.
2005-06-16 20:15:27
59.   bojangles
57. I think I have a better understanding of Ayn Rand's New Dodger Architect. Before covering medically-scary applicants in small
mountains of million-dollar bills, he looked at the sum of these fragile parts (Gagne, Perez,
Valentin (the creak of age), Drew, Bradley (don't breathe extravagantly near Milton), Werth, Dessens, Alvarez and on and on, and said, in absolutely objective admiration of his own handiwork, "If healthy....."
If wishes were horses....
2005-06-17 09:07:25
60.   Fearing Blue
#58: Currently, I don't believe the Dodgers have a better team than the Diamondbacks due to all our injuries. But, I don't think the Dodgers will have a legitimate shot of making the playoffs without getting and staying healthy. Scott Hairston is a perfect example of why I donn't put too much faith in their prospects. Hairston has consistently battered AAA pitching, but he hasn't performed at the major league level. Additionally, even with Aquino and Lyon healthy, the Diamondbacks bullpen is not very good. Their current bullpen ERA is 6.17. Aquino is inconsistent, and may not help at all. Lyons will probably help, but he was already having a career-year type performance (read, likely to regress) and he's always been extremely injury prone. I don't expect him to come back and play the rest of the season. Certainly stranger things have happened, but I don't think much of the Diamondbacks' playoff odds.

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