Baseball Toaster Dodger Thoughts
Jon Weisman's outlet
for dealing psychologically
with the Los Angeles Dodgers
and baseball.
Frozen Toast
Google Search
Dodger Thoughts

02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

09  08  07 
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

Myths 'R' Us
2008-07-04 21:15
by Jon Weisman

The Dodgers won today for the 11th time in their past 17 games, moving within a half-game of first place if Arizona doesn't stage a second ninth-inning miracle in a row, thanks to contributions from players that have been boosted in these parts for a long time now. They also won today thanks to contributions from Nomar Garciaparra, who has been maligned.

But if you'll recall, Garciaparra was criticized in context. Last spring, I didn't feel that he should be the first baseman ahead of James Loney, and suggested that he be moved to third base. But the Dodgers insisted that was impossible, simply out of the question - until they moved him to third base.

I'm more than happy to see what Garciaparra can do at shortstop, though I share the skepticism that he can remain healthy. I do see his presence in the lineup as a definite boost in the absence of Rafael Furcal. But it makes me wonder about other ideas the Dodgers convince themselves are true, based on non-existent or even conflicting evidence.

  • There's this notion that Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp benefited from competing with each other for playing time. I'll leave it to someone else to run the data, but doesn't it seem as if Ethier benefits from being put in the lineup and left alone, from his rookie year to the present? This is a player who is notoriously hard on himself. All competition did was send Ethier to the bench for Juan Pierre. With Pierre sidelined, forcing a commitment to Ethier, look who's thriving again.

  • If in fact a player can benefit from competing for playing time, why wouldn't that apply to Pierre? The injured Dodger outfielder was at his best early this season, when he was fighting to regain his starting position. Now, I'm not saying that's the reason he did well back then - but if the Dodgers are going to consider that premise for their other outfielders, shouldn't they at least consider that for him? (It would probably help if manager Joe Torre even looked at his performance before declaring that he has been "great.")

  • There's this notion that Kemp strikes out too often to be an effective leadoff hitter. Yet although he whiffs all the time, sometimes in mystifying fashion - as when he took a fastball right down the middle late in today's game - he usually comes through with something big. Strikeouts don't matter when you're getting the job done despite them.

    I could go on, which is pretty sad. This post has some urgency I gotta say, life is sweeter when the Dodgers are winning - it really, truly makes me happy to a disproportionate degree - but it's a nagging worry that you can't trust the organization to truly understand what's working for them.

    * * *

    Which brings me to Bill Plaschke of the Times: Are we supposed to think this is for real?

    Part of the reason that Paul DePodesta was fired from his job as the previous Dodgers general manager was because, during his final aborted managerial search, he did not even inquire about the availability of Scioscia.

    I read this 24 hours ago and tried not to write about it, but it's really been bugging me. In what universe could the Dodgers have possibly gotten Scioscia out of his Angels contract to manage the team - a team that unceremoniously gave him the boot. In what universe was Scioscia going to leave Arte Moreno to work for Frank McCourt - or for that matter, if he was such a lowlife in your eyes, DePodesta? And why are we hearing about this for the first time now, 2 1/2 years after DePodesta was fired?

    I realize providing a source for these kinds of statements would be too much to ask, but could they at least pass the credulity test? It's bad enough that Plaschke has written another column suggesting that the Dodgers would be in first place if they had 25 Blake DeWitts. Nothing personal against DeWitt, but if that philosophy is true, I'm available for center field. I'm a hard worker and a great listener. I'll even get a sitter for the kids.

    Yeah, it makes that much sense.

    Doing the little things are great. They're valuable. Doing the big things are more valuable. Yes, David beat Goliath, but not over 162 games. If the DeWitts and the Juan Pierres are working as hard as they can and still aren't as good as the so-called lolligaggers - a group that somehow manages to include Russell Martin, among others - do I really need to spell out which group is more critical to winning?

    Show us that the little things are more valuable. Are we to believe that the Angels have more ballplayers than the Dodgers, but less talent? Prove it.

    I also remain incredulous that the core of younger Dodger players has been, in Plaschke's word, "coddled," considering that except for Martin, they were demoted, benched and put down in the press at every opportunity for much of the past two years. Loney, Kemp and Ethier always hit and field in the long run, yet for Plaschke it's all about the missing grounder to second base. Even Chad Billingsley, the best young pitcher in the National League West this side of Tim Lincecum, can hardly draw an ounce of respect in this town.

    I sort of operate under the premise that I implicitly agree to disagree with Plaschke, considering how differently we see things with the Dodgers. He's doing his job as he sees it, and I'm doing mine, and he's not going to care about what I say, so why bother challenging him? But when I see a column like this one, it isn't clear to me that it has a requisite amount of fairness. Or maybe DePodesta should have checked to see if Miller Huggins would interview for Jim Tracy's job.

    * * *

    According to Dylan Hernandez of the Times, Joe Torre believes that Mark Sweeney's strained right hamstring, which has reportedly been bothering the struggling pinch-hitter for the past month, has been a factor in his poor performance. If that's true, why wait until now to put him on the disabled list?

    You see what I mean? Either the Dodgers have made an utterly phony DL move, or they've been just pointlessly slow in reacting to signs of trouble.

    * * *

    Okay, enough moaning.

    Dara Torres who was a senior at our sister school Westlake when I was a senior in high school at Harvard, will be going to the Olympics next month at age 41. I want to express my completely unearned pride her in achievement. I also went in the pool today, but spent much of the time doing somersaults, which I guess qualifies me for half a synchronized swimming team.

    Anyway, big congrats, Dara.

    * * *

    Update: Radio announcer Brad Golder of the Dodgers' affiliate in Great Lakes has been interviewed by David Laurila of Baseball Prospectus.

    An excerpt:

    DL: Who is the best player wearing a Great Lakes Loons uniform right now?

    BG: I think that Andrew Lambo, hands down, is the best prospect, and the best player, on this team. He's a hitter who can go to all fields with power, especially gap-doubles type power. He's also a real competitor. For some players there's an intangible you see when you're with them on a day-to-day basis, and with Andrew that's a swagger and confidence. He's an above-average defender in left; he gets good jumps on the ball, despite the fact that this is his first full year playing left field. He's probably a better defensive first baseman, but we have hardly seen him there, because with James Loney at first for the Dodgers, I think they see the future for Lambo as a left fielder. And I think he'll be well above adequate there, but his strength is hitting. He's a left-handed hitter who hits lefties better than righties, and he can go to all fields. He's the guy you want at the plate late, when the game is on the line, because he's far and away this team's best hitter.

  • Comments (81)
    Show/Hide Comments 1-50
    2008-07-04 21:24:03
    1.   bhsportsguy
    I will say that Nomar really has never been healthy at 3B since the Dodgers have tried playing him there. Now, it could be just coincidence or that he would be hurt no matter what, but their concern about him playing anywhere but 1B does seem to have some truth behind it.
    2008-07-04 21:30:40
    2.   Jon Weisman
    1 - But that's not really the point. Because they never needed him to play 3B every day. Instead, they used a complete unwillingness to play him at third as an excuse to deny Loney any chance of playing first base a year ago.

    Of course Nomar is an injury risk. But he's an injury risk at any position. He got hurt playing first base in 2006, did he not?

    2008-07-04 21:39:57
    3.   alex 7
    tonight also figure-four leg-locks last night's myth that "Arizona's big comeback win = beachball fastballs for their hitters and a long winning streak for the team."
    2008-07-04 21:41:43
    4.   ChicagoDodger
    Speaking of Nomar, I read a comment where Torre said he would use Nomar at SS, but not every day. That it "wouldn't be fair to Nomar" to play him there every day.

    Can someone help with this comment? What does that mean, wouldn't be fair?

    Nomar is under contract. He is old, so it's not like they are trying to protect him ala Kershaw. Get what you can out of him. It's only a couple more months and then he's history. Is it really that much harder (physically) to play SS then say 3rd? Or even 1st? Maybe over 162 games, but there is less then 80.

    2008-07-04 21:44:49
    5.   Jon Weisman
    4 - I think it's just managerspeak. The reality is, rest, at least at this stage, will probably do both Nomar and the team good.

    To play off what I wrote in 2 , I think there's reason to question whether Nomar could even DH every day without getting hurt.

    2008-07-04 21:45:48
    6.   Sammy Maudlin
    Dara Torres is phenomenal! I could see a marathon runner achieving this at age 41, but a sprint swimmer is seemingly impossible. Goodness gracious sakes alive! She competed in the 1984 olympics in Los Angeles.
    2008-07-04 21:46:14
    7.   Louis in SF
    I just read the Plaschke article as well, and it would be great for someone to debate him considering all of the fluff he puts out. Ironically if his main beef is the Dodgers not going after Scoiscia, whose fault was that? If anything it was top Dodger management.

    One other point while Kemp may still be learning on the job he gets better each week, early in the season when other Dodgers besides Furcal were not hitting Kemp was. He also improved significantly in center field when he was subbing for Jones.

    If I was into conspiracies between Ned's interview and the Plaschke article I should be concerned, but am hoping that with the Dodgers forced to play the kids and the vets for the next month, people will begin to see how good this team really is.

    2008-07-04 21:47:14
    8.   bhsportsguy
    Can it be that as Eric Byrnes goes, so go the D-Backs?
    2008-07-04 21:48:22
    9.   bhsportsguy
    7 Actually all of Kemp's stats went down when he played CF for Jones.
    2008-07-04 21:48:28
    10.   Louis in SF
    If any DT's are at the game tomorrow in SF, come by LB 121, row 35. I will have a Dodger hat on. Went to the game last year with the group Underdog organized, it was lots of fun. Hopefully in August or September we can do it again.
    2008-07-04 21:50:10
    11.   ChicagoDodger
    5 But rest is all Nomar has had this year. He's had like 85 games of rest. One would think that Nomar would want to play as much as he can given it's his last year and all.

    If he needs a day here or there Maza is more then sufficient.

    I mean, where does Nomar play if they get Wilson? Please don't tell me he takes over 3rd or 1st? That's even worse then the players they would have to reportedly trade for Wilson.

    No, the only spot for Nomar is SS, and he's lucky Furcal is injured or it would be the bench. Let him make the best of the situation.

    2008-07-04 21:54:47
    12.   Bob Timmermann
    DePodesta was fired on October 30, 2005.

    On July 12, 2004, Mike Scioscia was given a contract extension through the 2007 season and in November of 2005, Scioscia's contract was further extended to 2009.

    At what point was DePodesta supposed to engage in contract tampering?

    Since I was out of town and I missed the coverage, but was Billingsley's performance during the no-hitter like game by the Angels ever acknowledged?

    2008-07-04 22:01:12
    13.   Louis in SF

    Pardon being unclear. You are correct his offense did suffer, but his CF defense seemed to improve

    2008-07-04 22:04:40
    14.   Robert Fiore
    The main requirement for being a sports journalist is the ability to produce readable copy in a short period of time on a daily basis. This skill is infinitely more important than having any kind of insight into what makes a sports franchise succeed. Indeed, if you look you will find that the majority of sportswriters get by with nothing more than a set of received notions that are impervious to evidence. Like most sportswriters, Bill Plaschke's stock in trade is human interest. This is largely because human interest is what engages the common reader. Like many sportswriters Plaschke deludes himself into believing that the values of the human interest story coincide with the factors that make for success in sports. The fact for instance that a talented player of mediocre character is far more valuable to a team than a mediocre player of high character cannot be reconciled with the human interest point of view. Jon, you and Bill Plaschke do not have a disagreement. To paraphrase Scott Adams, ignorance is not a point of view. Bill Plaschke is stupid. He is the man who said the Portland Trailblazers were going to defeat the Lakers because they'd acquired Scotty Pippen. He is the man who said that Pete Carroll would fail as football coach at USC. He is a renaissance idiot. It so happens that being stupid is not a handicap in his line of work as he practices it, so there's no reason why he can't continue to be stupid. They give him awards for it.
    2008-07-04 22:05:34
    15.   overkill94
    11 What seems to be the DT assumption is that someone like Wilson would be necessary if/when Nomar gets hurt. We're all crossing our fingers that he can stay healthy as long as possible, but the raw truth is that he can't be counted on.

    Wilson makes sense since he's still under contract for 2009 which would give Hu and DeJesus another year to develop. That being said, I wouldn't give up a whole lot to get him (maybe something like May and Adkins). Although he's a fan favorite in Pittsburgh and doing well at the moment, Pirate management would be dumb to not get something for him while they can.

    2008-07-04 22:06:15
    16.   bhsportsguy
    The 1/2 game deficit that the Dodgers find themselves in tonight is the closest the Dodgers have been to first since April 7th when they were 1 game behind the D-Backs after losing the first game of their series in Arizona.
    2008-07-04 22:11:44
    17.   bhsportsguy
    16 Since then the Dodgers have had to work hard to play to a 38-41 record while the D-Backs have had 2 months of .400 baseball and overall, a 38-42 record, to find the NL West leader under .500 on July 4th.
    2008-07-04 22:15:09
    18.   ChicagoDodger
    15 Well I wrote the same thing in the last post in terms of who could/should be given up to acquire someone like Wilson.

    But the Rosenthal article, (I know, who trusts him anyway), said that some of the players mentioned in the CC trade are mentioned in a potential deal for Wilson.

    The ones mentioned in the CC trade were McDonald, Hu, and LaRoche. I wouldn't trade any of those for Wilson. And I wouldn't include LaRoche for CC either. Can't they just give Andy the 3B job already?

    2008-07-04 22:21:36
    19.   68elcamino427
    Haven't read one of Plaschke's articles for quit some time.
    This one sounds like Tommy Lasorda was a co-author and written before the recent win streak began.
    That might help explain reference to Scioscia. The propaganda smokescreen continues unabated.
    Blame the young players who are producing (Martn, Kemp, Loney, Ethier) for the play of the older players who have not been producing (Bennett - hurt, Brazoban - hurt, Furcal - hurt, Garciaparra - hurt, Jones - hurt, Kent - until the past two weeks, Loaiza - gone, Penny - hurt, Proctor - hurt, Schmidt - hurt, Sweeney).
    Necessity has led Torre to field a line-up that is now scoring runs. A line-up with Kemp batting lead off.
    Too much.
    2008-07-04 22:21:44
    20.   Xeifrank
    Just got back from the fireworks show. I didn't watch any baseball today, but am amazed at some of the scores. 35 runs in one game, that's the Coors Field we all know and love! The Rays won again, 150:1 baby! I don't think Plaschke even deserves a response. It's like responding to potty-talk from a three year old. It's best left ignored and not given any attention. Congrats to Dara, remind her to bring an inhaler and some anti-biotics along. The air is terrible. I doubt it will be cleaned up.
    vr, Xei
    2008-07-04 22:23:22
    21.   berkowit28
    OK. He knows:

    '"The guy for us who changed the momentum was Kuo," said Torre. "He just shut them down."'


    2008-07-04 22:24:48
    22.   Bluebleeder87

    Gave me hope (when I reach that age) & I wanted more so read up on her here {}

    2008-07-04 22:28:30
    23.   KG16
    14 - no, Plashcke believes, it seems to me, that the human interest story coincides with what makes success in sports interesting. Why was Bonds treated so different than say Ripken, McGwire, or Sosa during their runs at history? In large part, because Bonds was a cad, and likely a cheater.

    Most people, in real life, work incredibly hard at what they do. They believe that they get by on their work ethic and their talent. They want to root for athletes who also get by on their work ethic and talent, who also happen to show a little bit of gratitude for the opportunity to play a game for several hundred thousand dollars, if not millions.

    I'll be honest, I'd prefer to root for a team with 25 Blake DeWitts than 25 Barry Bonds'. I'd also like to root for a winner, and I think that what the Dodgers are going to be winners long term, and they're going to do it with a team that can engage in the human interest trade.

    As for Plashcke's previous predictions, they were not out of bounds. Carroll had no prior success in football as a head coach, predicting his continued failure was logical. As for the Blazers, they did take the Lakers to the limit, if I recall - and then imploded for reasons distinct from Scottie Pippen. We've all made predictions that have been way off.

    I now have to go have a very, very stiff drink.

    2008-07-04 22:36:59
    24.   Bob Timmermann
    Please tell me when the team of 25 Blake DeWitts comes into town because I want to buy tickets to go see my team to put a beatdown on them.

    If you are watching sports to see a team win because of its superior moral character, you are going to be waiting a long time to see that happen.

    2008-07-04 22:37:49
    25.   Neal Pollack
    This post makes me sad, Jon, because you're right. The Dodgers are playing well now, because the right players are, for the most part, being put on the field in the right batting order. But we all know it can't last. Even if the Dodgers win at a .700 clip without Pierre, we all know that the day Pierre returns, Ethier goes to the bench. None of us can trust that Nedco won't trade one of our good young players for a "proven veteran" who "knows how to win" and can "put us over the top."

    Just once, I want someone with some actual influence over the club (no offense to you, Jon, and I WISH you had Plaschke's job) to say the right thing in print or on the radio.

    2008-07-04 22:38:22
    26.   Bluebleeder87
    .5 games back baby! [in a SNL Frank Sinatra voice]
    2008-07-04 22:42:39
    27.   Suffering Bruin
    I haven't seen a Plaschke fisk like that since

    Actually, "fisk" is not the right word. Jon was not condescending, he was measured... heck, he was just Jon. Great stuff and a very good read.

    2008-07-04 22:43:49
    28.   Robert Fiore
    Excuse me, but Plaschke didn't say a team with 25 Blake DeWitts would be interesting, he said they would be in first place. The leading indicator that one has insight into what makes a team win is to predict correctly, not to be spectacularly wrong in a defensible way.

    Sportswriters didn't like Bonds because he was a cheater, unlike McGwire? Check. And while sportswriters may not have liked Bonds, would any of them have said he wasn't interesting?

    2008-07-04 22:45:14
    29.   overkill94
    18 I agree that it shouldn't take any of our best prospects to get Wilson, but I think your position takes it to the opposite extreme. At this point, all we could get for Greg Miller would be a pinch-hitter or something. You have to give something to get something and while Wilson isn't exactly a stud, he does have value. May and Adkins aren't really in our long-term plans which is why I wouldn't mind giving them up. LaRoche and McDonald would definitely be off the table, but I might be willing to trade Hu straight up for him.
    2008-07-04 22:48:07
    30.   KG16
    24 - I'm not watching sports to see a team win because of its superior moral character. I watch sports because, like most things in life, I am intrigued by the human aspect.

    A team of cads holds little interest for me, unless they are losing (see the Sacramento Kings, circa 1999).

    And c'mon now, you should know I am using the examples of DeWitt and Bonds as extremes. I'd also prefer a team of Many Rameriz's or Vlad Guerreos over a team of Bonds'.

    2008-07-04 22:48:11
    31.   PDH5204
    Jon, the point re Kemp at leadoff is that his OBP was .333 coming into today. And be consistent, I mean, the argument that the metrics-heads use is that your memory tends to be rather selective, and so, if we were to posit that Matt gets the job done, well, then why all those 0s and 1s on the board there for a while? Can't say that I know what has happened to Matt so far this year, but his coming-into-today line of .281/.333/.437 does not compare favorably with last year's .342/.373/.521. Also not saying that I expected last year's line to have remained the same or even improved, but that is quite the dropoff.

    Oh, and Jon, my real beef with you prior was simply that you used J.D. Drew being the second man thrown out at home to discredit Jeff Kent, i.e., you were comparing supposed baserunning skills and compared Matt's sometimes cluelessness with Kent being 1 of 2 thrown out at home on the same play. Most of the negative emotion re that 2 out at home play is associated with Drew and not Kent. Kent was otherwise simply following the lawful direction of his 3B coach, and I assume that there is a clause in his contract that requires him to do just that. Matt's errors, in contrast, largely tend to be of the careless and not situationally aware variety. Not saying that Matt isn't worth more than Kent, but it isn't really fair to take others to task when you've traveled down that same road.

    Oh, and so there is no mistake, Jeff has undergone quite the dropoff as well. Take the two combined and that explains as much as anything else, the why of the current win-loss record. I would suggest that we fill the divide and simply understand and report that unless all do their part...and so perhaps Lord Nelson need signal the fleet.

    Lastly, it's easy for you and me to bench Pierre as we aren't the ones paying him the big bucks. Presumably, those paying him the big bucks are going to get their money's worth even if it kills them. It wouldn't be the first time in history, nor the last. Fairly predictable, actually.

    Sorry, almost forgot, but Rowand looked okay today, yes? Don't suppose that Ned could make a deal with his former mate and so we give them Pierre and Jones and pay their tickets while we get Rowand and they pay his ticket? Then maybe Fukudome threatens to commit ritual suicide unless he can play with Saito and Kuroda in LA? As I've said before, a man can dream.

    2008-07-04 22:49:13
    32.   Robert Fiore
    And come to think of it, Blake DeWitt is a perfect example of the player as human interest story. Cinderella is one of the most popular stories there is. The problem is, Plaschke imagines the clock will never strike midnight.
    2008-07-04 22:52:04
    33.   Robert Fiore
    Funny, I watch sports because I enjoy seeing my team win.
    2008-07-04 22:54:12
    34.   elandcohen
    a buddy of mine who has seen Lambo play compares him to Paul O'Neill
    2008-07-04 22:54:26
    35.   KG16
    30 - "human aspect" is not quite the right term, perhaps "human experience" is a better phrase.
    2008-07-04 22:55:25
    36.   Neal Pollack
    I've been forced, over the years, to root for Gary Sheffield and Kevin Brown and Jeff Kent and Derek Lowe and a few other players who almost certainly would have tried to beat me up in high school. But if the Dodgers won a Series, I wouldn't care. Winning is the only "human interest" I care about.
    2008-07-04 22:55:44
    37.   Neal Pollack
    Maybe not the ONLY human interest, but it's the pre-eminent one.
    2008-07-04 23:00:54
    38.   Alex41592
    I'd like to point out that Andre Ethier is not mentioned once in tonight's L.A Times game story. I was gone all day and night and just caught up on everything that's gone down today. Great win and only a half game back. Incredible that when we go to bed tomorrow night we could be in first place. I'll take that.
    2008-07-04 23:03:58
    39.   Bob Timmermann
    Ethier is mentioned in the Dodgers notebook.
    2008-07-04 23:04:30
    40.   KG16
    32 - time waits for no man. The bell tolls midnight for everyone, from Midnight Graham to Barry Bonds, at some point they aren't good enough to hack it. Nothing wrong with enjoying the ride while it lasts. Nor is there anything wrong with hoping it lasts for a very long time.

    36 , 37 - I prefer winning, but not if the cost is the soul of my team. Look at the difference between the Cubs and the Marlins... one team hasn't won for a century, the other has two titles in the last 10 years. Which one generates more fan support and interest? The guys who rented two teams to win titles, or the team that has continually tried to do it "right"?

    2008-07-04 23:04:31
    41.   Robert Fiore
    Oh, and by the way, a team made up of "cads" would be very, very interesting, particularly if they were winning. Not edifying, perhaps, but interesting. One imagines them sitting in the dugout, twirling their mustaches, sardonic glint in their eyes as each hatches his own nefarious scheme . . .
    2008-07-04 23:05:16
    42.   KG16
    40 - crud, it was Moonlight Graham, not Midnight Graham, huh?
    2008-07-04 23:15:12
    43.   Alex41592
    39 - Thanks. Nice of them to throw Ethier a sentence.

    Also, Nomar can be very valuable to us as a shortstop. That's the only place he can play without blocking anybody and it won't be hard to improve on Maza and Berroa's offensive efforts. I like him there a lot.

    As for Andruw Jones well he sits on Sunday. Put Loney back in the 5 spot. Drop Jones to 7 for tomorrow.

    Pee Wee's clutch RBI pinch hit did not go unnoticed.

    Fred Lewis is probably going to have to buy his own drink tonight in San Francisco.

    2008-07-04 23:15:32
    44.   arbfuldodger
    The one thing I dont get is how DeWitt could be called a Cinderella story ...Cinderella's don't get $1.2 million signing bonuses. If your gonna use a Cinderella story I think Mike Piazza is more like it.
    2008-07-04 23:27:57
    45.   underdog
    It would be neat if as many of Dodger Thoughts plentiful commenters (as well as its overseer) could write letters to the Times re: Plaschke's indefensible latest piece of tripe. Granted, those letters don't generally affect much, and the Times probably thinks "controversy sells papers" or whatever, but it would be good to have him even more publicly called out for his nonsense with the kind of facts Jon lays out in this post. Maybe they'd print a letter or two. Maybe he'd even see it. At the least it would at least be cathartic. But the more we counteract at least that will prevent the possible harmful side effects that come from Plaschke Disease.

    I hadn't read the print version of the Times in quite some time until this morning and looked forward to seeing the sports section to read about the Dodger win yesterday. While the game report was not anywhere on the front page except for a tease, Plaschke's ludicrous negative and error-laden column was front and center. It's depressing.

    Anyway, on a less depressing note... Dodgers win! Let's go for another tomorrow.

    2008-07-04 23:34:35
    46.   Bob Timmermann
    The Times has picked their letters for Saturday's paper already and they're online.

    A lot of them are about the Clippers and there are a lot of complaints about the Angels lack of offense.

    Which apparently shows that Angels fans know the deficiency of their own team a lot more than Plaschke does.

    2008-07-04 23:37:41
    47.   Bob Timmermann
    But you didn't notice how the only young player on the Dodgers that Plaschke likes is the white player?

    And the players who have "issues" happen to be not white. That was the most appalling part of the whole column.

    2008-07-04 23:38:56
    48.   Jon Weisman
    I have written extensively about how much my interest in sports in general and the Dodgers in particular depends on my investment in the characters of the team, using character in a "storyteller" sense. I also like to think that I've shown that I care about people doing the right thing.

    I have no trouble rooting for Blake DeWitt or being interested in him. I might even be more interested in his story right now than I am in, say, Ethier's.

    But that has nothing to do with the Dodgers' ability to win. The thing is, the Dodgers as a unit are also a character. And in fact, I root for the Dodgers to be good on and off the field. Both of those things include playing the players who deserve to play.

    I work hard in my career. But if I get beaten, so to speak, I'm not offended if the person who beats me isn't of superior moral fiber. I might not like it, but if he's a better performer, who the heck am I to complain?

    I don't see Plaschke in this column showing the level of character (in the moral sense) he demands from the Dodger ballplayers. And honestly, as much as I'd like to see the Dodger ballplayers have character, it's more important that a sportswriter have it.

    2008-07-04 23:41:58
    49.   underdog
    Btw, as I've said here before, I really like Jack Wilson and thus part of me was pleased to hear the Dodgers were actually interested in him, too, but have mixed feelings based mostly on my doubts about Colletti's ability to trade properly. I would be up for giving up prospects for him, but not top of the line prospects. But let's see how Nomar fares there. I will be rooting for him.

    On the other hand the Sabathia rumors make no sense to me. The Dodgers do not need pitching at all. This strikes me as one of those let's make a splashy trade to make a splashy trade situations where the Dodgers could severely blow it, give up top young players for a (very good, no doubt) pitcher they don't need. I hope that's just a Rosenthal rumor-for-the-sake-of-a-rumor and not my trade-for-the-sake-of-a-trade deals.


    Anyway, night all.

    2008-07-04 23:42:01
    50.   Bob Timmermann
    I plan on going to work tomorrow and going up to someone on my staff and saying to them, "You know what you are. You're a librarian!"

    I know how to fire up the troops.

    Show/Hide Comments 51-100
    2008-07-04 23:42:34
    51.   Jon Weisman
    40 - Are speaking philosophically, or are we debating whether the current Dodgers have a soul? Because it's not as if the current Dodgers are lacking in humanity. Are they not for the most part a likable group?

    47 - He does like Pierre, doesn't he, even if he didn't say it today.

    2008-07-04 23:44:00
    52.   underdog
    46 Well, people can respond to Plaschke's column any time soon, doesn't have to appear this weekend per se. Write the Times! Show them there are intelligent Dodger fans out there who care.
    2008-07-04 23:47:16
    53.   Bob Timmermann
    Plaschke likes Pierre to the extent that it helps him prove his point about athletes succeeding because of intangible qualities.

    And two of the Angel young players he liked were minorities: Maicer Izturis and Erick Aybar.

    I wrote the Times last night around midnight. I was ahead of the game.

    2008-07-04 23:48:50
    54.   KG16
    47 - Just read the column, his having issues with the non-white players is disgusting, but how much can we read into it? Still, it adds to the level of stupid that we've seen from Plaschke over the years.

    I particularly like the part about the Dodgers having a better batting average and on base percentage but scoring fewer runs and losing more games. No analysis needed, no context of the slugging percentage or the built in advantage of the DH.

    I also wonder, what it is in the Plaschke world view that suggests that a guy with flashy talent can't be taught the fundamentals.

    As far as young Angels having a better understanding of winning, well, it might have something to do with them playing in a weaker division than the Dodgers and, you know, actually getting to play everyday during pennant races.

    2008-07-04 23:48:59
    55.   underdog
    I believe if you write the Times using a quill pen, on parchment paper, seal it with wax, and deliver via messenger on horseback, they are more likely to respond and print, I'm told.
    2008-07-04 23:53:21
    56.   KG16
    51 - speaking philosophically. And I do find the current group of Dodgers, with one or two glaring exceptions, to be likable, which is why I really hope to see them succeed together in LA.
    2008-07-05 00:37:26
    57.   Louis in SF
    Does anyone know who the guest will be on the KABC Sunday radio show this weekend?
    2008-07-05 01:01:29
    58.   Louis in SF
    One hopeful thing in the Gurnick article on a possible trade for a SS, Ned says with 3 weeks left before the trade deadline, Nomar should have a chance to prove that they don't need to make a trade.
    2008-07-05 01:09:35
    59.   jasonungar07
    I don't think Kemp has looked good at all in leadoff so far myself to a tune of a .400 OBP and +.800ops in 4 games, all wins.
    2008-07-05 01:30:05
    60.   Eric Enders
    I'd just like to say in advance that I miss Andy LaRoche and I really wish we hadn't traded him and James McDonald to Pittsburgh for Jack Wilson.

    I for one welcome our new Pirate overlords.

    2008-07-05 01:37:25
    61.   fanerman
    60 Please don't say something like that before bedtime. I'm not going to be able to sleep.
    2008-07-05 01:52:15
    62.   dsfan
    Pass on Wilson unless the cost is a non-prospect and the Bucs eat at least 80 percent of his salary for next year.

    Jon makes several good points, Plashke's either intellectually dishonest or a bit thick. Hard to interpret from reading the column, but he appears to be trying to identify the kids' shortcomings that aren't easily captured by statistics -- instincts or lack thereof. Maybe there's something to it that goes beyond mere inexperience, but his execution falls short. He actually treads near a real story angle -- that the Angels have a cleary philosophy that they apply in scouting of amateurs, development in the minors and with reinforcment from Scioscia. Bully for them. Really. The Dodgers don't have an overall identity nearly as strong (culpability, for me, begins with the McCourts). What they do have is young talent that's comparable to that of the Angels. So who's to blame if that talent isn't as well-schooled or understood and supported as well at the major league level? Plaschke chooses to blame the kids. They aren't infallible but this team would be road kill without them.
    Again, Plaschke's not taking on the appropriate people, almost like he's trying to ingratiate himself to Ned (and one can almost hear Bowa going off to Plaschke on these "coddled" kids).
    If Plaschke pines for a "Dodger Way" he has ample subject matter other than whispering about Kemp. If the Twins can indulge the wild stallion Carlos Gomez as their leadoff man, why can't the Dodgers do the same with Kemp? What has been the ripple effect of Pierre's injury on the kids? Positive or negative? If Andruw's bad knee further fouled up his swing, why bring him back after so few ABs in Triple-A? Wasn't the plan to keep him there for several weeks? Why not keep him there for his own good?

    Keep calling him out, John.

    2008-07-05 02:36:49
    63.   bhsportsguy
    62 The "coddled kids" theory was given last year. I believe it has more to do with the perception that the Front Office and maybe ownership has pushed the kids as a part of the return of how the Dodgers used to grow talent within.

    Because of this belief, the theory is that the kids do not feel the need to listen to veterans or coaches since they have no fear of any real threat.

    Again, that is the theory, somewhat advanced by probably some of the players who may or may not still be on the team and those dreaded unidentified sources.

    I do think its a little early to start advancing any theories on if Pierre's absence has anything to do with this latest streak (I don't think it really does).

    2008-07-05 03:20:28
    64.   bhsportsguy
    Outfield Stats before and after May 25th (the day Jones went on the DL).

    Ethier: .289/.354/.436
    Kemp: .317/.354/.460
    Pierre: .289/.342/.326

    Ethier: .272/.326/.496
    Kemp: .239/.304/.406
    Pierre: .266/.297/.309

    2008-07-05 04:12:49
    65.   Chiron Brown
    Dear Mr. Plaschke,

    Why can't the Dodgers find good young players? By good I mean the kind of players who turn down a big signing bonus because they don't feel they're worth it. The kind that don't accept promotion because they don't think they're ready yet. And when they get to the big leagues, the kind that ask the manager not to start them because they want more time to study and learn from the veterans. Where are those players?

    I don't think the young Dodger players appreciate that when Larry Bowa was a rookie he had to walk five miles, through the snow, in his cleats, to get chewing tobacco and eye black for his veteran teammates. And only then, maybe, would the manager let him pitch hit.

    2008-07-05 04:23:09
    66.   Chiron Brown
    Seriously, after a while the Dodger youth critics start sounding like these guys:

    2008-07-05 05:05:57
    67.   Andrew Shimmin
    Given that I'm a raging LaRocheaholoic (I'm addicted to LaRocheahol), this cannot, perhaps, be taken as benignly as I mean it, but: when did DeWitt get crowned Miss America? Is he really a notably great person? He fields his position well, and isn't an obvious slacker, but what is it about the guy that distinguishes his moral fiber?

    I know virtually nothing about the character of any baseball player. I can think of no reason to believe that Bill Plaschke knows significantly more than nothing.

    2008-07-05 05:14:25
    68.   Andrew Shimmin
    Also, I think it's useful to stick a category in between good people and bad people--normal people. I suspect most baseball players are of roughly average moral character. Maybe a little below average, given the peculiarities of what makes a professional athlete work, but probably pretty close to the middle. Being a person of a little below average moral character myself, I'm content with that.
    2008-07-05 06:14:31
    69.   Marty
    It's obvious. DeWitt plays the game the right way: he's deferential to Jeff Kent and calls Bowa Mr. Bowa.

    BTW, so Nomar runs through the stop sign and only by sheer luck does not get thrown out by five feet. That would have killed the game. Is he in Bowa's dog house now? I doubt it.

    2008-07-05 06:16:24
    70.   D4P
    I'm not saying you shouldn't write them, but I suspect that Plaschke considers himself victorious when he receives letters telling him how stupid he is, especially from "blogger" types. From his perspective (or any other writer, "celebrity", etc.), the worst thing that can happen is to ignored.

    All publicity is good publicity.

    2008-07-05 06:26:47
    71.   Ken Noe
    The inevitable Uribe rumor:
    2008-07-05 06:37:23
    72.   Ken Noe
    By the way, the most disturbing thing about the Plaschke article to me hasn't been discussed. Thursday night online BP essentially says that Ned's on the hot seat and that troublesome Kemp needs to go. The next day, Ned reverses what he told Diamond Leung about patience and starts talking about trading a previously untouchable, no-longer kid. Are Ned or McCourt taking marching orders from Mr. Around the Horn?
    2008-07-05 06:37:57
    73.   D4P
    Uribe meets Ned's "Low OBP" criterion (.293 career, .258 in 2008), but may have a little too much power (.422 career SLG). However, his power has recently come down to acceptable levels (.394 in 2007, .326 in 2008).

    Career OPS+ of 79 is very satisfactory.

    2008-07-05 06:42:13
    74.   D4P
    Park vs. Zito and Peavy vs. Davis gives the Dodgers a good chance of taking over first place after tonight's games.
    2008-07-05 06:49:06
    75.   Terry A
    For your early Saturday consideration, here's my first installment of Bill Plaschke Fan Fiction:





    Mark Sweeney at the plate?

    Nomar Garciaparra strapping on his truss?

    Larry Bowa shadowboxing?

    No, these three strikes are the Dodgers' trinity of young punks, the once-proud franchise's bratty grandkids who run the bases pell-mell and run their accomplished teammates ragged.

    Matt Kemp, James Loney, and Andre Ethier.

    Whiff, whiff, whiff. Three strikes, boys, and you're out.

    Patience, says their adoptive father, Ned Colletti, and you can just barely see Logan White's lips move behind him.

    The franchise's mother hen, Kim Ng, so accustomed to standing around looking pretty, scolds little Matty for playing with a trash can, but the pride in her exotic eyes – was her father a GI? – betrays her stern countenance.

    Casey Stengel once said, Can't anybody play this game? Not these three, Casey. They pad their geeky stats by getting on base or hitting flashy home runs, but they couldn't care less about the game.

    In today's Dodger universe, it doesn't seem to matter.

    Torii Hunter carries the weight of the Angels' world on his shoulders.

    Andruw Jones carries a small map of Curacao.

    Little Andre wields an iPod.

    An iPod.

    Mickey Hatcher once played first base with a Twinkie box as his mitt.

    Olmedo Saenz likes Twinkies.

    James Loney says Mickey Hatcher is on his friends list on Facebook.

    Must be a pop-up book.

    Ted Williams left baseball to fight a war.

    More nobly, Mike Scioscia left the Dodgers to build a winner in Anaheim.

    Matt Kemp? He left spring training – his team's last at hallowed Dodgertown – for a road trip to China. Unfortunately for people who like their ballplayers slow, white and unassuming, he found his way back.

    Three ballplayers – no, three athletes – with scads of talent yet no feel for the little things that build a winning team.

    Can they bunt? Take an extra base on a leftfielder with a rag arm? (Wait… bad example. Forget I wrote that.) Let a grizzled writer with a drunk-tank half-beard get in line in front of them for the postgame spread?

    Whiff, whiff, whiff.

    Three strikes for three underaged, overindulged brats. Three kids who say they're learning as they go, promising – with crazy, rolling eyes and dismissive, "Whatever dude" phraseology – they're willing to sit as Juan Pierre's understudy and wait their turns in the food line.

    They'd better be.

    2008-07-05 06:53:22
    76.   D4P
    What seems to be missing from all this tripe is any kind of blame directed at Ned. If the kids are as bad as we're supposed to believe, shouldn't Ned be getting criticized for relying on them so much this season? If Depo were the GM, wouldn't he be getting raked over the coals by now?

    Why isn't Ned being held accountable for playing these horrendous kids instead of trading them last season?

    2008-07-05 07:51:37
    77.   Bob Timmermann
    But Plaschke's column implicitly criticizes Colletti.

    DePodesta arrived on the job pre-raked.

    2008-07-05 07:56:29
    78.   tethier
    I'm hoping that the Nomar experiment at short works. As others have said, he is certainly better offensively than Maza or Berroa - it is the defense (along with, will he hold up?) that is suspect.

    If it doesn't work, I'm not oppossed to bringing in someone like Wilson by trading one of the 'kids." But if you're going to do that, why would McCourt and NC make comments like we will hold onto the ones that are "prepared to put in the work, listen to coaches and get better every day." So, what they are saying to a team like the Pirates, is we'll give you our malcontents and slackers - hope they work for you.

    Why couldn't they just say "in order to get a quality major league shortstop, someone we'll need if we hope to get into the post season, we will have to give up some good players, maybe even some young players. Fortunately, we're in a position where we can part with some players because we have a surplus of talent in certain positions. We also have some young players who are not in a position to contribute to the Dodgers today but who will be quality players in the future."

    BTW, I think the idea that certain young players are not "the ones who are prepared to put in the work, listen to coaches and get better every day" is crazy. But even if there were some truth to it, why poison the well?

    2008-07-05 08:13:55
    79.   Jon Weisman
    2008-07-05 10:46:28
    80.   Camilli
    I could not agree with you more about Ethier. He led the team in hitting in his first year. Once they started playing him/benching him/playing him, he became less effective.
    2008-07-05 12:39:15
    81.   lurkingdodger
    Very thorough. Excellent commentary. Why aren't you writing for the Times instead of Bill "Blowhard" Plaschke? Oh... that's right... because he's a successful corporate kiss-ass. That's right, I forget sometimes what it takes to be "mainstream". I'm a NorCal Dodgers fan, and thankfully I do not have to put up with Plaschke on a daily basis. I loathe the man when I watch him on Around The Horn (he's an outright moron, to a lesser degree of Mariotti), and I always wonder how they manage to stay employed when there are obviously superior writers with actual intellectual input.

    Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.