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It's a Beautiful Day for a Dodger Thoughts Notebook
2004-02-06 17:23
by Jon Weisman

For a Dodger Thoughts notebook today.
The readers are out to get an opinion or two,
From the San Fernando Valley to the Blue Bayou.

It's a beautiful day to discuss Vinny,
But even Dan Evans will do.
We're gonna vent, and quip
And give McCourt a rip
At the Dodger Thoughts Notebook today.

1) Oh yes, the new regime will win some points with me and many others if it brings the original version of "It's a Beautiful Day for a Ballgame" back to kick off radio broadcasts.

2) If I hear one more person criticize Dodger general manager Dan Evans for assembling the worst-hitting team in the majors without acknowledging that he assembled the best-pitching team in the majors ... well, then I must be reading T.J. Simers in the Times. Simers did well to pursue an interview with Dodger owner Frank McCourt yesterday, and McCourt did well to call him back. But talk about two people ill-suited for a useful conversation.

3) Robert Fiore sends this e-mail with a note in response to my discussion of Vin Scully.

Once I ran into Jon Miller on his way into the press box at Dodger Stadium and said to him that according to the unwritten law of baseball that the Dodgers must always have the best broadcaster, I fully expected him to be here when Vin Scully retires. He laughed and said, "Give me a call!" I don't suppose it means anything, but I personally think he's the best there is right now.

4) Fiore adds this:
I don't know how such an offer would be received, but if the Nets do move to Brooklyn, don't you think it would be a nice gesture to offer to license them the use of the name "Dodgers?" After all, we have New York football Giants to go along with the San Francisco baseball Giants. If the (real) Dodgers got a royalty on the souvenirs (as one would assume) it would probably be a profitable gesture, too.

Well, profit for the Los Angeles baseball Dodgers is certainly the only way this would ever happen. My first reaction to Fiore's suggestion was that I didn't think it would happen and didn't think it should, but the idea is growing on me as I think about it. After all, some of you will also recall the Brooklyn football Dodgers.

5) The readership of Dodger Thoughts does include people living in proximity to a bayou. Felton Suthon of New Orleans, looking ahead, sent me an e-mail discussing the possible 2006 Dodger lineup. Here it is in short form, with ages in parentheses.

C - Dave Ross (28)/Koyie Hill (27)
1B - James Loney (22)
2B - Joe Thurston (26)
SS - Cesar Izturis (25)
3B - Adrian Beltre (26)/Willie Aybar (23)
OF - Franklin Guiterrez (23)
OF -
OF -

Yeah, it sort of peters out, doesn't it. Of course, the pitching, with some combination of Edwin Jackson, Greg Miller and the like, could look better than the hitting, giving Suthon reason to be optimistic. "I know projections like this are barely worth the paper they are written on," he writes, "but there is a glimmer of hope that this could work out."

There is a glimmer - in the nebulous sense of the word. Even if you fill out the outfield with two Shawn Greens, you don't have very much guaranteed offense in the above lineup. That being said, it's a starting point. Thanks to Evans, the Dodgers have the flexibility to build a contender for years to come.

Suthon asked if I read Joe Sheehan's Baseball Prospectus column on the Dodgers Wednesday, and I had. Sheehan was on the money from the start.

"I have no emotional attachment to the Dodgers or Evans," Sheehan wrote. "However, the idea that Evans, who inherited a nearly impossible situation and has put the franchise on much more solid ground than it was when he arrived, could somehow find his job in danger just as his work could begin to bear fruit strikes me as patently unfair."

McCourt has said that he has a plan for the team. Well, guess what - Evans has a plan, too. It's clear what the plan is and has been clear for some time to anyone who was willing to look beyond the next minute to see it. Clear the contractual dead weight, create a foundation of pitching, build the farm system, then use available dollars to get the hitting you need.

Evans was ready to take his plan forward, only to be thwarted by the McCourt purchase. The glimmer of hope is that Evans brought enough sanity to the organization that he has made it easy for his successor to fulfill the promise and grab the glory. But we'll have to see about that.

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