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Biting the Bullet
2003-09-03 09:00
by Jon Weisman

My e-mail to Will Carroll at Baseball Prospectus:

Regarding the revelations about Shawn Green ... would in-season surgery have been a viable option for him? What might the recovery period have been?
Will's response:

Viable? Sure, but he would have missed two months or more. Better to do it the day the season ends or eliminated or whatever. He should recover in time for spring training.
If Green had undergone surgery and missed the first half of the season, up to the All-Star break, this is what the Dodgers would have had to replace:

93 games
93 hits
51 singles
31 doubles
1 triple
10 home runs
31 walks
187 total bases on hits plus walks
2.0 bases per game

By comparison, here is what the Dodgers would have hoped to have for the second half of the season - something on pace with Green's stats from 2002:

158 games
166 hits
92 singles
31 doubles
1 triple
42 home runs
93 walks
376 total bases on hits plus walks
2.4 bases per game

Who would have replaced Green during his rehab? A combination of this guy and that guy and even him over there. All of whom would presumably do at least as well as this:

133 games
113 hits
89 singles
19 doubles
5 triples
0 home runs
22 walks
164 total bases on hits plus walks
1.2 bases per game

Those are Cesar Izturis' numbers - essentially, the minimum output for an everyday player.

So here we go. Would it have been worth dropping below the two-base-per-game level in right field for the first half of the season in the hopes of rising above it in the second half?

Would it have been worth giving up dollars and prospects in order to add an extra outfielder that would have matched Green's output?

Realize that it must have taken some time in 2003 for the Dodgers to realize how good their pitching was going to be, and how much the injury was going to sap Green's power. Around the time they were realizing this, Darren Dreifort went down. Soon after, Kevin Brown was working through his own injury. Brian Jordan and Fred McGriff followed.

With those injuries, the Dodgers could have declared 2003 a lost cause.

Or, they could have pulled out the stops to try to salvage the season.

Instead, their approach was, do the best we can in 2003 without going over $117 million or sacrificing the future.

If the team doesn't improve to the point of becoming a perennial World Series contender by 2005, this approach will have been a mistake.

But my hunch is that the team is working right now toward closing the door on a sad chapter in its history, that it is correct in finally instilling some discipline, in biting the bullet. It's a bullet that's hard to swallow amid a steady 15-year diet of them, but it really may help the Dodgers' long-term fitness.

Again, the Times is coming down hard on Dan Evans, but it doesn't seem like you'll ever catch that paper's writers thinking beyond the present. Perhaps Evans deserves some credit for risking his own job security to restore the health of the Dodger franchise.

* * *

Aaron Gleeman put together a combined Los Angeles-Detroit All-Nothing Squad today, writing, "I could say a lot of things to try to describe just how awful that team would be offensively, but I think the best and easiest way to put it is to ask exactly how awful a team would have to be in order for Cesar ".246/.278/.309" Izturis to not be bad enough to crack the starting lineup?"

John Wiebe has really kicked into another gear over the past month at John's Dodger Blog. If you haven't been reading him, you should be. If you have been reading him, I can only hope you're still reading me.

Meanwhile, Robert Tagorda has got his chart game going on. This week, he has drawn attention to the frequency of the Dodger September swoon and is tracking the stats for this month to see if the swoons are returning to Capistrano.

And finally, are you all caught up on the saga of ex-Dodger Tyler Houston? If not, check out the View from the 700 Level.

* * *

Update: Dodger postseason chances, from Baseball Prospectus
Today: 7.9 percent
September 2: 4.8 percent
September 1: 7.9 percent
August 31: 6.9 percent
August 30: 5.5 percent
August 29: 4.8 percent
August 28: 2.6 percent
August 26: 3.6 percent
August 25: 3.1 percent
August 24: 4.4 percent
August 23: 6.5 percent
August 22: 5.8 percent
August 21: 4.2 percent
August 20: 2.3 percent

Projected NL Wild-Card Standings as of September 3
Wins ... Team ... Chance of winning wild card
88 ... Philadelphia (50.4 percent)
86 ... Florida (26.7 percent)
86 ... St. Louis (3.6 percent)
85 ... Houston (3.4 percent)
84 ... Los Angeles (7.9 percent)
83 ... Arizona (3.1 percent)
82 ... Montreal (1.2 percent)

(Division leaders account for the remaining wild card possibilities.)

Baseball Prospectus predicts that the Dodgers will play only .489 ball the rest of the season - worse than any other wild-card contender. Los Angeles has the second-toughest remaining schedule of the contenders, behind only Florida.

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