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Worse Record, Better Organization
2003-09-25 10:31
by Jon Weisman

The letters keep coming ... this one from Mike B:

Been a Dodger fan since 1985; my chronological list of favorite players: Marshall (how sad is that?), Scioscia, Mondesi, Beltre, Lo Duca (former classmate of his at Glendale CC and Arizona State).

My quick background: Born in Redondo, lived toddler years in the valley, grew up in AZ but out of college I worked at papers in Santa Barbara Co. and Humboldt Co. Now living in Orlando, Fla., but I try to make it to the stadium at least once a year.

A few thoughts on this season:

1. Throw out Gagne's worst game of 2003 (4 ER in 1/3 inning against Atlanta), and his ERA is a neat 0.79. That's dominating, and I feel lucky that I saw him this year, even if it was a pedestrian 1 IP, 2 K save against the CRockies in late May.

2. That also was the game Dreifort struck out 7 in the first two innings, a feat I'll probably never see again.

3. Looking at the post-Lasorda, Fox-mayhem years, I think Dodger fans should feel fortunate that the team hasn't fallen through the floor. Wins per seaon, starting with 1997: 88-83-77-86-86-92-8? That's a decent run for a brain-dead organization. And don't give me any lip about having to hit bottom to successfully rebuild - Many teams hit bottom, then stay there.

4. Put me in the camp that Evans is doing well in coping with a lousy financial situation. Payroll flexibility is going to be a wonderful thing. The farm is getting better too.

5. Tracy is fine. SI made a dumb comment in the issue I received today about his job status being in jeopardy because he couldn't find an offense to support that wonderful pitching staff. People are failing to realize that the pitchers look so good because of a great defense (a Bill James belief), and those glovemen just can't hit. Beltre's an underrated defensive 3B, btw, and I'll bet Tracy stuck with him all
season for that reason.

6. So, what WILL it take for the Dodgers to get over the hump? (You compared it to a playground game of leapfrog.) A farm system that can produce some bats would be a start. Better health - what's LA's record if the Shawn Green of the last two seasons shows? Other than that, not much. This is a team that's competed down to the final week the last two seasons, and hasn't had a losing season since 1999. Although the W-L this season will drop off from '02, this is an organization that's improving.

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