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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

Jose Valentin ... And Once More, Ayn Rand
2004-12-17 20:38
by Jon Weisman

Jose Valentin, who agreed to terms with the Dodgers on Friday according to his agent, is a left-handed compliment to say the least. The 35-year-old infielder is something of a mirror to the right-handed ex-Dodger, Jose Hernandez.

Valentin's a swinger, with a .503 slugging percentage against right-handed pitchers (we're not even going to talk about him against lefties). In 314 at-bats from the left side, he hit 23 home runs and struck out 86 times. Playing in U.S. Cellular Field, the quaint name for new Comiskey Park, will have slightly boosted his overall offense. But the home runs could translate well to Dodger Stadium, which only cuts down doubles and triples - and which might yield more offense in general with its reduced foul territory next season. Of course, that change to Dodger Stadium holds true for everyone.

The story says Valentin will be getting paid $3.5 million in 2005, nearly $3 million more than Hernandez made last season, no doubt because of such details as Valentin arriving with more than double the homers that Hernandez hit the season before he came to Los Angeles. So where you had Hernandez as the low-risk fading player whose upside was a pleasant surprise, Valentin is a mixed bag unlikely to outplay his salary.

And, like eight-years-removed-from-the-position Jeff Kent, Valentin's only real place as a third baseman is in the history books. He has played 151 hot corner games since his 1992 debut. In those games, he has been average, with 24 errors and a Rate of 97 on Baseball Prospectus (where 100 is average - and by the way, that's my first time using this stat).

Valentin is potentially a good fit for Dodger manager Jim Tracy, who got about as much out of Robin Ventura in 2004 as anyone could possibly have. Of course, if Valentin squirts 'em like post-July Jason Grabowski, people may have to force Tracy to turn off the spicket.

It doesn't need to be said that Valentin is no Adrian Beltre.

* * *

A day has passed since the Beltre news, and the hysteria has surpassed that surrounding the trade of Paul Lo Duca, though that no doubt includes a snowball effect dating back to when Lo Duca checked his luggage to Miami. I'm not sure anybody in this town misses Beltre more than I do. That being said, I point you again this week to the writings of Tom Meagher at The Fourth Outfielder, who has won my heart with his passionate but measured analysis:

The thing is, and I wrote this before, teams do not need slugging third basemen to compete. They need a sum total of talent. Just because Brian Myrow or Kevin Youkilis or Alex Cora is not your idea of a great third baseman does not mean that the team becomes worse when they're used to replace Adrian Beltre because the team can (and will) make other improvements.

Hell, maybe they won't. Maybe DePodesta will screw it all up and reveal that Ayn Rand put him up to it just to dash the hopes of countless Dodgers fans. When that happens, be angry.

When one player leaves, don't be angry. Be analytical.

By the way, the recurrence of Ayn Rand in the past two days of reader comments is intriguing. I thoroughly enjoyed The Fountainhead in high school, but the lasting impression it made on me was only enough for me to rip off Howard Roark's character for a short story in college about an architect who breaks his finger catching a foul ball just before a project deadline. Anyone who wants to extrapolate further, though, be my guest.

Anyway, it's funny. I see all the rage and it is more than I feel - and I treasured Beltre. I feel more rage when Kazuhisa Ishii walks the leadoff man than I felt seeing Beltre go. On days like Thursday, I feel not rage, but lament. What's the psychology behind that, I wonder?

The most rage I have ever felt since founding Dodger Thoughts was over the Vladimir Guerrero debacle, which I thought implied the end of the Dodgers as a competitive franchise. I absolutely did not expect the Dodgers to win a division title after that - much less in as enjoyable fashion as they did. That doesn't mean Frank McCourt's group deserves endless benefit of the doubt, or any, but maybe it means that the game does. Maybe the past year has been valuable in that respect alone.

I don't love the Dodgers' odds without Beltre, and I don't think solutions are going to be easy. And yeah, it's going to be flat out weird to go to the ballpark next season and see so many new names. (Of the 42 players who suited up for the 2003 Dodgers, nine remain in the organization - including the teetering Shawn Green.)

I like being in first place. I like winning. I like having players to root for. I don't know how much of that we'll have next season, but I'm just going to hope. I'm not always capable of hoping, so I'm going to do it as long as I can, when I can.

* * *

Please make sure you temper the language (even the veiled cursing) and personal attacks in the comments. We're doing well enough given the record number that have hit the site since Thursday, but more than a few remarks have been on the edge. Just take a breath when you need to before you post. If you're new to the site, I heartily welcome you, and thank you in advance for keeping it cool. (Same goes to some of you vets out there.) Thanks - I appreciate it.

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