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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
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12) claiming your opinion isn't allowed when it's just being disagreed with

Betemit's Bat
2007-01-25 21:55
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

I just poured myself a glass of Wilson Betemit, and I can't say yet whether it's half-full or half-unfull.

Many now consider the third baseman who helped key the Dodgers' late-July rally into playoff contention after coming over from Atlanta to be the biggest question in the Dodger infield. He tailed off toward the end of the season, finishing his Los Angeles debut with a subpar .257 EQA.

Arguably, the best-case scenarios at third base for the Dodgers would be for top prospect Andy LaRoche to go all Russell Martin on Betemit's Dioner Navarro, or for James Loney to play first base so that Nomar Garciaparra can move across the diamond. Both notions have their merits; neither is an even-money bet for April.

The midrange possibility platoons the switch-hitting Betemit with the right-handed LaRoche. Betemit has been notoriously awful against left-handed pitching in his career, OPSing .624 with a .276 on-base percentage.

Whenever anyone brings up Betemit's right-handed struggles (which have been perplexing because he's a natural right-hander), my first reaction is to point out how few opportunities he has had. He had 11 plate appearances against lefties in 2004, 84 in 2005 and 81 in 2006. For a player who just turned 25, I don't think this is enough to suggest he is hopeless from the right side of the plate.

(As you may recall, there is disagreement over what Betemit's actual birthdate is. Although some sources list him with a July 22, 1980 birthdate, I have joined others in concluding that his actual birthdate is November 2, 1981. The discrepancy arose from the falsification of Betemit's age so that he could sign with a major league organization sooner.)

Anyway, while it's true that he may never show prowess against lefties, it's too soon to close the door on him.

Against righties, Betemit has shown enough for people to drink a toast: a career .810 OPS, with 30 doubles, 18 home runs and 53 walks in about a season's worth of plate appearances (567). He has struck out 130 times in that span, but that shouldn't move anyone to tears.

Maybe the league figured out Betemit at the end of 2006, but would you disagree that odds are that a 25-year-old will improve?

Against the kind of pitcher the Dodgers will face much more often than not, the Dodgers have an .800-plus OPS third baseman. Against lefties, the Dodgers have, perhaps, a No. 8 hitter, but perhaps something more if LaRoche can play. (And I could stand to see Olmedo Saenz get a spot start there.) It's not the dominance at the position anyone would hope for, but there's no black hole there.

Meanwhile, the left fielder with the resume, Luis Gonzalez, OPSed .740 against lefties and .819 against righties at age 39 last year while playing half his games in a better ballpark for hitters than Dodger Stadium or Turner Field. Sure, the Dodgers might have Matt Kemp boosting the outfield at some point in 2007, but it's not clear to me that Betemit or third base should be the bigger concern for Los Angeles.

* * *

I just poured myself a glass of Brook Lopez, and it's completely full!

Comments (65)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2007-01-25 22:12:40
1.   Xeifrank
For me, it was White Zinf out of the box. Had to finish it off to make room in the fridge. My glass was half full. I think jobs are there for the youngins to win this year. LaRoche, Loney or Kemp could all win a job... it's more likely that none of them win a starting job but one or more see significant starting time later in the season. vr, Xei
2007-01-25 22:13:14
2.   Bob Timmermann
BINGO!

(Clippers reference)

2007-01-25 22:13:38
3.   Jon Weisman
Oh, and Prime Ticket says Stanford set a Pac-10 record for team blocked shots.
2007-01-25 22:14:48
4.   Xeifrank
Three pointer with 0.8 left and the Clippers win! Sad to see USC lose to Standard Cardinals. vr, Xei
2007-01-25 22:15:11
5.   Bob Timmermann
Arizona had 16 overall in the game where Woods had 14.
2007-01-25 22:15:52
6.   Greg Brock
Very well said, Jon. I can live with Betemit, though I prefer LaRoche take the job as quickly as possible. Betemit has the chance to be a fine player.

Plus, Boom goes the LaRoche just doesn't work.

2007-01-25 22:30:28
7.   Jon Weisman
I didn't get into the discussion of whether Betemit (or for that matter, Garciaparra) could play second base if Kent gets hurt. What do you think? Presumably, in the short-term they'd go with Martinez or maybe Anderson, but what about if Kent goes on the DL?
2007-01-25 22:33:58
8.   Greg Brock
7 I would assume Betemit plays second, LaRoche plays third. As much as Nomar playing third base makes a heck of a lot of sense, I think the Dodgers are determined to keep him at first. No way they play him at second, with visions of torn hamstrings dancing in their heads.
2007-01-25 22:34:31
9.   arnold
I like that Colletti has said that he wants LaRoche to compete with Betemit for the job at third. Good competition, I believe, will elivate the play of whomever plays at third this year. I don't believe that Saenz is in competition at all for playing time at this position. He is an emergency fill-in at third and only in the field at first. (Where I would like to see Loney get at least 200 at bats) Spring training will determine who we have at third. If we had a Navarro followed by Martin scenario who here would complain. Either way, I would like to see 30 homeruns and good defense out of this position at a reasonable salary rate.
2007-01-25 22:37:06
10.   Andrew Shimmin
Nomar's positional versatility was supposed to be part of the reason he was re-signed. Why not Nomar to 2B, Loney to 1B?
2007-01-25 22:40:19
11.   Andrew Shimmin
I have trouble believing there'll be three 1Bs on the opening day lineup. I guess it's marginally more likely, now that none of the three is Ch-i, but it still seems unlikely. If Nomar is just a 1B, and so is Saenz, I don't see Loney making the team out of ST.
2007-01-25 22:40:33
12.   TellMeTheScoreRickMonday
Lopez was sweet but Bruins were strong too. Sets us up for a great game on Saturday @ Maples...
2007-01-25 22:42:49
13.   Ryan Jerz
Man, I hate to get off topic so quickly, but as a Nevada guy, I want to know how the Stanford guys like Trent Johnson. We obviously loved him here, but have moved on. What's the Stanford take on him?
2007-01-25 22:45:12
14.   Jon Weisman
11 - Loney will be a first-baseman/outfielder. There's room for him. Only if everyone is healthy and the Dodgers decide to use 12 pitchers, as other Andrew cautioned, would Loney need to get the boot.

It's not impossible that Loney could beat out Ethier for a starting job, by the way, is it?

2007-01-25 22:45:30
15.   Jon Weisman
13 - Liking him more this year.
2007-01-25 22:47:55
16.   Greg Brock
Such a waste of a great glove at first base. You're entire defense around the infield is so much better with a smooth glove around the bag. I'd hate to see Loney anywhere but first.

Strike that. I'd hate to see him in Vegas, so I guess the outfield is okay, but it's still a waste.

2007-01-25 22:52:19
17.   Greg Brock
No, I'm not gonna correct "you're" in my sentence. Laugh away.
2007-01-25 22:58:22
18.   Andrew Shimmin
14- I don't know the real answer to that question, but it's the sense I get that Ethier is competing with Kemp for the RF starting job (with the clear expectation that Kemp won't win), not Loney. It would make sense for Loney to be in on that fight, so maybe he is. Also, since there doesn't seem to be another OF on the radar, maybe that portends well for him.
2007-01-25 23:07:24
19.   LAT
Arguably, the best-case scenarios at third base for the Dodgers would be for top prospect Andy LaRoche to go all Russell Martin on Betemit's Dioner Navarro. . .

Great line.

2007-01-25 23:26:57
20.   saltcreek
Why are people worried about third base...we just signed Fernando Tatis. FERNANDO TATIS!!!!!!!!!!!
2007-01-25 23:31:05
21.   Bob Timmermann
12
UCLA and Stanford play Sunday, not Saturday, so don't wait up.
2007-01-25 23:47:07
22.   TellMeTheScoreRickMonday
Thanks Bob. Sorry, I was looking at my Tokyo TV Schedule. My bad.

There are advantages, though. They get tip off of the Lakers/Hornets game in less than three hours!

2007-01-26 07:22:42
23.   ToyCannon
3b will be the least of our worries by the all-star game. 3b has the potential with a combo of Betemit/Laroche as being the most productive position on the team.

Mobley cut Lawlers Law down at the knees.

2007-01-26 07:42:19
24.   Bumsrap
Betemit has a huge edge over LaRoche regarding having a job our of spring training because LaRoche can be sent down and Betemit can't.

Betemit will be given at least through April and probably May to lose the job. If Betemit is really bad and LaRoche is really good it is more likely LaRoche would be at third May 1, just not likely.

Now if Loney has a really great spring I can see Nomar moving to third or even left and either Betemit or Gonzo sitting.

Tatis and Martinez could be competing for the utility roll but I don't see Tatis in the mix for starting at third.

If all the older guys do well in spring will it surprise anybody that the 51's could have a really great team starting the 2007 AAA season?

2007-01-26 08:02:34
25.   TellMeTheScoreRickMonday
22 Sorry, "fewer" than three hours.

By now, I know the outcome of the game.

2007-01-26 08:18:17
26.   Bob Timmermann
25

If you tell the score of the game to Rick Monday, you will be assured that no one else will ever know it.

2007-01-26 08:29:48
27.   twerp
I think there was talk about the time of Pierre's signing that he was guaranteed to start.

Does anyone know what was promised him about this, if anything?

2007-01-26 08:35:19
28.   D4P
27
I'm guessing LuGo was pretty much guaranteed a starting position as well.
2007-01-26 08:42:33
29.   D4P
Dead to Me:

*eBay sellers who don't accept payments via PayPal

2007-01-26 08:50:05
30.   jdm025
19
Interesting article I found when doing my prep for Fantasy Season (notice capitalization).

http://www.sportsline.com/mlb/story/9949470

Using their (admittedly slightly sketchy) model, Betemit could be quite the source of power they are looking for. I look for him to hit around 20-23 HR and Jeff Kent to hit that many as well what with his newfound love for exercising in the offseason.

2007-01-26 09:44:44
31.   kinbote
i think on a team where a lack of power is one of our admitted weaknesses, we will give betemit every opportunity to be a full-timer. even if laroche has an insane spring, i find it hard to imagine his winning the job outright.

while opinions on betemit seem to be split, i sure read a lot of reactions from braves' fans who were upset at the trade.

he deserves at least a half season to prove hiself as ready for prime time, but the AAA performance of laroche will no doubt be a factor as well.

2007-01-26 09:47:19
32.   Andrew Shimmin
29- Oh D4P, you've slipped big time, my friend. This is like when Marge turned into a gambling addict. Any time from here on out you give me a hard time about Walmart, it'll be so easy. You are a PayPal user. If I go hunting for endangered owls, that'll be bad, but you won't have any moral authority to scold me, because you are a PayPal user.

Or if, say, I started a motor oil recycling company, but instead of recycling the oil, I just dumped it down storm drains? Well, maybe I'd go to jail, but you would still be a PayPal user. You're history's greatest monster.

2007-01-26 09:52:45
33.   D4P
32
Enlighten me, oh owl-killing one, as to the evils of PayPal.
2007-01-26 10:07:04
34.   Andrew Shimmin
Did somebody say something? All I heard were millions of souls, crying out in anguish.

Weird.

2007-01-26 10:08:06
35.   D4P
Don't mind that. It was just a disturbance in The Force.
2007-01-26 10:08:46
36.   Benaiah
I got Bryan Smith to answer a question about the Dodgers on baseballanalysts.com:

Bryan, if these recent Dodger grads still qualified, where would they rank in your 75? Matt Kemp, Russell Martin, Andre Ethier, Chad Billingsley and Kuo?

All right, we'll run through this quick. I love Kemp, his power-speed combination seems fantastic, and his athleticism is off the charts. I worry about his ability to hit a breaking ball, however. He's a better prospect than Carlos Gonzalez {#19}, so we'll stick him right in there. Martin would be extremely high on this list, I think the world of his defensive abilities, which will be combined with average offensive skills (above-average for a catcher). Martin and Tulowitzki would be neck and neck (#12). Ethier, man, I don't know. I think his great season was a little fluky, but he's still a very good young player. I'll say he's right behind Adam Jones (#29). Chad Billingsley would be close to Adam Miller for the third pitching prospect award, and my new love for Miller probably puts him right behind (#11). I would put Kuo down as the third-best Dodger southpaw in the system (a ridiculous statement), and he'd probably be right around the range of Mike Pelfrey (#31). Logan White has done one helluva job, hasn't he?

The number in paranthesis, I put in just to point out where the prospect would be ranked (I moved players back with the additions, so Kuo would have been 27th, but instead he was 31st. This is in addition to numbers 16, Kershaw, 18, Laroche, 20, Elbert and 37, Loney. The future is bright (especially for LHP with Kuo er Guo, Elbert and Kershaw).

2007-01-26 10:19:36
37.   D4P
Until and unless I get a straight answer, I'll continue using PayPal.
2007-01-26 10:35:21
38.   Bumsrap
The competition between LaRoche and Betemit is as open as is the competition between Repko and Pierre.

Betemit could be a Sexon in that if he hits 35 homeruns it will come with a .235 batting average not to mention his vior, xyz, vorp, aztz, or obaha scores.

2007-01-26 10:38:43
39.   D4P
The competition between LaRoche and Betemit is as open as is the competition between Repko and Pierre

I guess I take that to mean that Betemit has been guaranteed the starting job and LaRoche has no chance of supplanting him.

2007-01-26 10:44:14
40.   Jon Weisman
38 - I'm not following. Pierre is a lock to start the season in center field. No way Betemit is that secure.
2007-01-26 10:45:04
41.   Benaiah
39 - That is a little absurd though. Betemit is a young guy making no money, Pierre is a vet, "who gets on base" and makes 9 million a year. Pierre won't be supplanted, he would have to play himself out of a job (picture Izturis's slump in 2005) or be injured. Betemit could lose the job out of spring training.
2007-01-26 10:45:09
42.   regfairfield
28 Sexson has never had a season like that.
2007-01-26 10:49:06
43.   Bumsrap
39-42
See 24
2007-01-26 10:52:58
44.   regfairfield
Has anyone that signed a huge five year contract lost his job in the first year? Even Russ Ortiz kept his spot in the rotation in 2005.

Juan Pierre is the center fielder, no matter how badly he performs. I could see Betemit losing his job out of Spring Training, and taking on the Lugo role from last year

2007-01-26 10:56:52
45.   Bumsrap
I don't think Ned and Grady are going to let a 21 year old player have a hot spring like Loney had a few years ago have the starting third base job if they have someone like Betemit that they will want to take a longer look at.

LaRoche's best scenario is to leave a very favorable impression on Ned and Grady. The competition at third in my view is between Betemit and Loney if Ned has the guts to move Nomar to third.

2007-01-26 11:03:56
46.   Bumsrap
If Repko hits over .375 in spring with some power and shows speed on the bases he might be allowed to play until he fades, whether that play means 2 out of three or some combination of part time or full time.

If I were GM I would be more confortable in letting Repko have CF if I knew I had a plan if he fails. That fall back plan might cost me $9M a year but I wouldn't let that $9M backup plan force me into making it my first choice.

I don't think Pierre has a lock on CF, at least not a Brinks lock.

2007-01-26 11:06:19
47.   Andrew Shimmin
46- So if someone were to offer you odds, say, ten to one, on who'd be starting Opening Day, you'd, maybe, want a piece of that?
2007-01-26 11:06:56
48.   TellMeTheScoreRickMonday
26 Too true.

But you know, friends, Panda Express is Chinese for "yummy" (according to Rick).

2007-01-26 11:09:04
49.   Jon Weisman
Bumsrap, there's a good possiblity both Betemit and LaRoche will be on the roster in April, much less later in the season. Meanwhile, Pierre is guaranteed to play center field unless lightning strikes him. Colletti explicitly signed him for, among other things, his stability.

Short of injuries, I expect Betemit will be the opening day third baseman, but I know that Pierre will be the opening day center fielder. Pierre could hit .100 in Spring Training and still be there when the season opens.

2007-01-26 11:09:59
50.   bhsportsguy
45 I think Ned and Grady have a plan to play Nomar about 120-125 games at 1B this year, so unless you see Nomar playing some 3B in Spring training and with Betemit, LaRoche and maybe DeWitt playing there, its doubtful Nomar plays anywhere but 1B this year.
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2007-01-26 11:18:30
51.   bhsportsguy
49 Unfortunately for Repko, his shot was last year in May when there was a spot for him to play everyday. Grady liked him and the club liked him but he got hurt which in turn brought Ethier and eventually Kemp up to the MLB.

A healthy Repko definitely would have kept Kemp in the minors at least until September.

Now he is back to being a guy fighting for a spot but he knows that Pierre, Gonzalez, Anderson and Ethier are all locks to be on the club. His competition is probably down to Kemp and the Front Office would rather see Kemp play everyday in Vegas than sit up here.

2007-01-26 11:20:31
52.   jasonungar05
Pierre has an absolute lock on CF unless he gets hurt. Lets get over it. Anything else is just wishful thinking.
2007-01-26 11:59:44
53.   Benaiah
If Pierre hit .100, didn't steal a base, failed to hit the cut off man 50% of the time and never took a walk in spring training and April, plus Repko hits .370, with 9 home runs, 4 steals and stellar defense in Spring Training and spot starts on the corners, then Repko would start taking starts from Gonzo, Loney and Ethier while Pierre would keep playing. Maybe Pierre would get a day or two off, but he is a brinks truck lock to be in CF unless you and Tonya Harding are planning fixing the Outs race in 2007.

The best case scenario is Pierre having an unnaturally high BABIP, hitting in low .300s and posting an OPS ~.780-.790.

2007-01-26 12:09:31
54.   Steve
Juan Pierre is the center fielder, no matter how badly he performs.

And since he always performs badly, no one notices anyway.

2007-01-26 12:45:05
55.   GoBears
54. That's exactly right. He will perform badly, probably just not badly by Colletti's pet measures (hits, SBs, 1st-to-3rds).

But as Jon says, even if JP were to go ofer March, and make 10 errors, the only way he wouldn't start Opening Day would be if he were injured. And he never gets injured.

2007-01-26 12:58:44
56.   Marty
Nobody "never gets injured". Because bullet head hasn't been injured yet, makes me think he's due to snap a hamstring around April this year.
2007-01-26 13:00:08
57.   Jon Weisman
56 - He would truly be a Dodger then.
2007-01-26 13:08:59
58.   ToyCannon
I would think the last thing we want is Juan to get injured because Ned would certainly move one of the loveable prospects for a stop gap solution. You may not like what you wish for. Juan cost us nothing but money. Who knows what the price would be for another starting CF when they know Ned is desperate. Don't tell me Ned could just play an inhouse solution because if he was happy with our inhouse CF solutions Juan wouldn't be a Dodger today.
2007-01-26 13:13:23
59.   Marty
I wasn't wishing for an injury. I just wouldn't be surprised with one.
2007-01-26 13:14:27
60.   Marty
Didn't Kevin Brown have a durable reputation when he was signed?
2007-01-26 13:40:17
61.   Sushirabbit
Someone pass me something to gouge out my eyes with...

Another way of thinking about this is that at the plate compared to Pierre, Luis G. will look good. And in the field Pierre will look better than Luis G.

2007-01-26 13:56:00
62.   Benaiah
Dream time scenario: Repko tears up Spring Training, Pierre zzzzzzzzz, Pierre gets hurt immediately during the season, Repko starts. Repko continues torrid start and Ned doesn't make a trade because Repko plays so well.

Also I guess I should hope that Pujols, Grady Sizemore and Johan Santana get traded to us in a four way trade where we only give us Kent, Lowe and Nomar (and Hendrickson).

We are stuck. Fortunately, we can win with Pierre, but we will be winning in spite of him, not because of him.

2007-01-26 14:03:43
63.   trainwreck
I definitely think LaRoche can take the job away from Betemit. Hopefully, they can start the season platooning and then LaRoche will just take the job. Let Betemit learn how to play second base in case we need him to replace Kent at some point.

I am late to the Stanford party, but I was telling my friends to watch how good the Lopez twins were and they left the bar very impressed.

2007-01-26 14:20:23
64.   ToyCannon
Just love this quote from BP:

"I don't know why people like the home run so much. A home run is over as soon as it starts....The triple is the most exciting play of the game. A triple is like meeting a woman who excites you, spending the evening talking and getting more excited, then taking her home. It drags on and on. You're never sure how it's going to turn out."
- George Foster, 1978

Unfortunately for me I knew how it was going to turn out and I'm sure it wasn't with the success rate of Furcal going for 3rd.

2007-01-26 14:54:04
65.   Jon Weisman
New post up top.

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