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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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5) discussing politics
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Give Us Dreifort Any Day Over This Alternative
2005-05-03 22:49
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Tampa Bay was the hammer Tuesday, and Kevin Brown was the rusty nail.

More than a few Dodger fans took pleasure at the fact that the prickly ex-Los Angeles pitcher gave up six runs on eight hits in the first inning, and eight runs on 13 hits overall in his most recent start, falling to 0-4 with an 8.25 ERA this season.

I don't tend to celebrate another's misfortune, much less someone who pitched plenty of great games for the Dodgers. Still, there's plenty of reason to be grateful that former Dodger general manager Dan Evans was able to acquire cash or Jeff Weaver or Yhency Brazoban in exchange for Brown, let alone all of the above plus a minor league prospect, before the 2004 season.

And there can hardly be anyone that isn't happy that the Dodgers aren't paying eight figures in salary and plane tickets to compensate Brown, who in 24 innings this year, has allowed 41 hits while striking out a mere 14. Though Brown has walked only four batters, he looks done and doner.

But if I can celebrate one particular thing in the unfortunate turn of events for Brown, it's that he's not in the Dodger clubhouse day after day in this current state, a hand grenade wrapped in barbed wire hung like an albatross. (!)

Consider how much misfortune has befallen Darren Dreifort and how he has shouldered it all, never once taking his pain out on anyone. And yes, I know - Dreifort was well compensated for his pain. True enough.

But - and this is nothing personal against Brown, just a (mostly) objective fact - compared to the unmitigated toxicity that Brown would have brought to the Dodgers in 2005, perhaps even bringing the Dodgers down, the team's contract with Darren Dreifort is a pure pleasure.

Comments
2005-05-04 00:11:57
1.   Nolan
I'm with you Jon. Dreifort has done what I ask of all Dodgers and all players on the teams I root for - his damnedest. Was the contract a mistake? Yes. Was it Dreifort's mistake? No. I think all we can ask of players is to a) work hard and b) carry themselves with class. Dreifort has done both. Any resentment towards his failure to fulfill our expectations should be laid at the feet of past management and lady luck.
2005-05-04 00:57:43
2.   fanerman91
I agree. Dreifort isn't going to win any "Dodger of the Year" award, and for good reason. But it wasn't his fault he got the contract, and he's tried his best to overcome his injuries, even when he's had to undergo multiple surgeries an off-season. I'll certainly be glad the day he comes off the books, but he definitely is better than Brown.
2005-05-04 01:19:23
3.   Eric Enders
I loved the way Dreifort pitched, the intensity he had out there on the mound. He was, and is, one of my favorite Dodgers. (I've always been a sucker for pitchers who can hit.)

It struck me as a little weird that Dreifort doesn't even have a locker at Dodger Stadium this year. I guess the Dodgers are already cutting ties, even though he's still under contract?

2005-05-04 05:21:58
4.   CT Bum
I read an interview with him from his hometown Wichita newspaper a couple of off-seasons ago.

He came across as a genuinely nice guy, who has either run into an unbelievable amount of bad luck, or just isn't physically suited for the wear and tear that the body takes during the course of a MLB career.

Since then I've been pulling for him, but it just hasn't worked out.

2005-05-04 05:24:55
5.   Eric Enders
As the owner of a somewhat useless history degree, I've always had a soft spot for both Dave Roberts (who has a History degree from UCLA) and Dreifort (whose father is chairman of the history dept. at Wichita State).
2005-05-04 05:28:34
6.   Eric Enders
From the Wichita State website (gotta love that first sentence):

"Professor Dreifort is a specialist in Modern European Diplomacy and the history of Baseball. He is the author of Yvon Delbos at the Quai d'Orsay: French Foreign Policy During the Popular Front, 1936-1938 (University Press of Kansas, 1973) Myopic Grandeur: The Ambivalence of French Foreign Policy toward the Far East, 1919-1945 (Kent State University Press, 1991), and Baseball History From Outside the Lines (University of Nebraska Press, 2001). His articles have appeared in such journals as The Journal for Contemporary History, The Historian, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, and Research Studies. He is currently working on a book manuscript on the wartime relationship between Generals Eisenhower and de Gaulle. Dr. Dreifort serves as the graduate advisor."

Anybody read his baseball book, BTW?

2005-05-04 05:54:07
7.   patsweetpat
I'm an M's fan, and I remember Randy Johnson's last year in Seattle. Midway through the season the front office was dangling him as trade-bait, and the Dodgers were interested, but (iirc) they weren't willing to part with Dreifort in the deal. I think they wanted to package Valdes, the M's wanted Dreifort, the deal fell through, and Randy went to Houston.

Dunno what that all amounts to, really. Just a footnote in the Dreifort story.

2005-05-04 05:56:17
8.   Borchard504
Jon - Just think of all the TJ Simers columns that we've missed out on since KB has moved east. He was the perfect foil. Thin skinned, with anger issues, and evidently thin brained.

And Eric is right, maybe DD can come back as a pinch hitter!

2005-05-04 06:25:23
9.   Eric Enders
The Mariners, of course, came very close to drafting Dreifort out college too. And as much as I like Darren, I think we all wish that they'd done that.
2005-05-04 07:06:50
10.   Im So Blue
And lest we forget, how the Dodgers came to select Dreifort in the 1993 draft...

"(The memory of how the Dodgers lost a coin flip with the Mariners for the first pick overall in 1993, and had to settle for Dreifort instead of Alex Rodriguez? Just punch a hole in my chest, grab hold of my heart and squeeze.)"

[from Jon's Dodger Thoughts, January 29, 2003]

2005-05-04 07:38:41
11.   Eric Enders
I'm So Blue -- Yeah, that was sort of the point of #9.

If you recall, Boras tried to warn the Mariners off picking A-Rod with the #1 selection, saying that A-Rod wanted to play for the Dodgers and wouldn't sign with Seattle no matter how much money they offered.

But then, Boras's lips were moving...

2005-05-04 08:45:17
12.   molokai
K Brown my least favorite Dodger of all time. Dreifort just had bad luck. Every year hitters would complain about how nasty his stuff was. Shame we never found out he good he could have been.
2005-05-04 09:10:15
13.   Fearing Blue
I still vividly remember Dreifort's last game: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/boxscore?gameId=240816119. He gave away the lead to the Marlins and when Tracy pulled him the Dodgers fans booed him off the field. It was only after the game that we learned that he had torn his ACL on the first batter he faced and KEPT PITCHING! Having torn my own ACL, I must say that is a tremendous feat, though in hindsight perhaps not the best thing for the team. Nonetheless, since that game, I've had a tremendous amount of respect and sympathy for him. I continue to hold out hope that he can come back and be successful.
2005-05-04 09:41:32
14.   Mark
Compared to a kick in the head, a punch in the stomach is a welcome relief.

That doesn't make the punch in the stomach any less of a hit.

2005-05-04 09:43:10
15.   Jon Weisman
Actually, that's exactly what it does, doesn't it? It's still a hit, but less of one.
2005-05-04 09:51:42
16.   dzzrtRatt
I'm evidently in the minority, but I thought Kevin Brown was a great addition to the Dodgers when the 'new sheriff' signed him. His grittiness, competitiveness, and that heavy, unhittable assortment of pitches he threw (when healthy) gave the Dodgers a new look, which they desperately needed at the time of Brown's arrival.

The Piazza-Karros era was my least favorite time in my Dodger fandom, because that team was so damned soft and complacent. There was talent, but no drive. To that team, a ninth inning home run that did not change the outcome of a losing game was celebrated because it would look just as good as a game-deciding three-run blast when contracts were being discussed. A pop-up with the bases loaded was seemingly excused as "part of the game, man." There was no emotion for the team.

Kevin Brown (and his offensive counterpart Gary Sheffield) began to change that. Losing became intolerable. And while we never won anything with them, the change in tone has continued from then to now. I could be wrong, but I think the hardnosed competitive zeal I see in Eric Gagne, Cesar Izturis and Milton Bradley--that I also saw in LoDuca, Cora and Beltre--was the legacy of the Kevin Brown era.

Obviosuly, the trade Evans pulled off was brilliant, and I didn't regret seeing Brown go. He was done, but Evans dressed him up and made him look like the new Clemens. Cashman was a fool and fell for it.

But still I am sad to see Brown's great career end in heaps of scorn and ridicule. His overall career was impressive, and it's tragic that his decline should take place in the media glare of New York.

2005-05-04 10:03:17
17.   Eric Enders
dzzrtRat,
I don't think it's the decision to sign Brown per se that people disliked, but the decision to give him $875 million a year or whatever it was. It was ridiculously out of line with what other teams were offering, and signing any pitcher to a seven-year contract that runs out when he's 40 years old is just shy of clinically insane.

Nobody denies that Brown made some noteworthy contributions to the Dodgers. But it's like buying a used paperback of "Wuthering Heights" for $5,000. It's a hell of a book, but not worth anywhere near the price.

2005-05-04 10:31:12
18.   regfairfield
#16 Bear in mind that the Dodgers actually had accomplishments like "going to the playoffs", and "being relatively successful" in the Piazza Karros era.

When Karros joined the team in 1992, the Dodgers lost 100 games. In two years the Dodgers were a playoff team. (They were in the lead at the time of the strike by 3 1/2 games, despite the fact they were just two games over .500)

From 95-97, the Dodgers made the playoffs. This doesn't seem like much of an accomplishment until you consider that once the Fox era began, the Dodgers hardly ever came close. Does the fact that they traded Piazza have anything to do with this? I can't say. It is a bit of a coincidence that as soon as he left the team, the Dodgers saw no post season play for seven years.

Despite what you say about the team "being soft", the Piazza/Karros era is the most successful one we've had since '88.

2005-05-04 10:37:17
19.   dzzrtRatt
I would argue that the Brown contract, while insane by any medical definition of the word insane, was no more insane, and perhaps less so, than the Lowe contract. But since it's not really my money, I love Derek Lowe! The SOP for superstars' agents, then as now, is to lure a team into paying a lot of money for what actuarily should be a player's declining years, so he doesn't have to face what, for instance, Garciaparra is facing, entering free agency after a season on the DL. If you want to sign the high-impact players, that's a risk a team has to take.

I would argue that Evans' ability to dump Brown's last two years, and get significant value in return, more than mitigates the foolishness of the original Brown deal.

2005-05-04 10:48:27
20.   Icaros
I would argue that the Brown contract, while insane by any medical definition of the word insane, was no more insane, and perhaps less so, than the Lowe contract.

Considering Lowe's deal is for three less years and a lot less money (and private jet rides), I would really have to disagree.

2005-05-04 11:01:36
21.   Suffering Bruin
I'm still intrigued by Molokai's comment. Kevin Brown as least favorite Dodger of all time. Hmmm...

Bill James wrote this in his Historical Abstract: "I don't root for him either, but he is a great pitcher."

Change that sentence to the past tense and I think it about sums it up.

2005-05-04 11:01:40
22.   dzzrtRatt
#18

You're right, inasmuch as they contended for four years from 1994-7, got into the playoffs twice (and got swept both times), and won 90 games once. We had some excellent pitching during that phase. But it was a frustrating team nevertheless. I'll never forget the number of times Piazza and Karros would make commments like "I'm not a leader....as long as I get my hits, I'm fine...it's really not up to me." And they played like that was how they felt. Wasn't that the "25 players, 25 cabs" era? They were players who wanted to do just enough to earn the big bucks, but beyond that, naah, too much stress.

2005-05-04 11:16:17
23.   Icaros
The mid-90s was the "no chemistry" era, and I definitely believed it at the time. Looking back, though, I wonder how much of that was just more of the LA Times oversimplification that we read today.
2005-05-04 11:52:58
24.   dzzrtRatt
#23
Icaros,

I had no more respect for the Times then than I do now, but a stuck clock is right twice a day. The bland underachieving nature of the mid-90s Dodger team came through every year when they would have an important series near the season's end, usually against the Padres or the Giants, and would be out-hustled and out-passioned by the opposing team. My recollection is we'd get a well-pitched game from our pitcher, but our hitters went to sleep, playing with all the intensity of a bunch of accountants.

I always cynically thought because it was so close to the end of the season and there was no way they could change their stats much even by going 4 for 4, they figured, why stress? They had much more important things to worry about...like "Kauai or the big Island? Hmm, better find out which one has the best golf courses..."

2005-05-04 12:01:54
25.   Wayne Wei-siang Hsieh
Count me in the small minority that actually liked Kevin Brown. Sure, Evans' trade was a stroke of genius, and the contract was more than excessive, but Brown was a great pitcher in his day. He certainly wasn't Mr. Happy, but I appreciated his competitiveness, and as long as he only took his anger out on inanimate objects, I was okay with that. Sure, he's an unpleasant guy, but I've never entirely understood Dodger fans' hostility to him. It was Malone's fault for giving him that contract, and he always seemed to do his best to fulfill the terms of that deal. I never expected him to be a pleasant person to be around in any way.

WWSH

2005-05-04 12:19:31
26.   mcrawford
I guess I'm the opposite of WWSH, because I never liked Brown because he was such a unpleasant jerk.

His shtick about everything going wrong got old. He could never be happy about winning or doing well, but could only complain about how poorly he pitched (regardless of whether he gave up 1 run or 5). He seemed incredibly self-centered, 10x moreso than the average baseball player (who is probably self-centered himself).

2005-05-04 14:33:37
27.   Langhorne
On ESPN last night I saw that Larry Bowa has solved Browns' problems. Larry says that Brown needs to start throwing at hitters. Back them off the plate, intimidate them. He says that when Brown was with the Dodgers batters were scared to hit against him. Now they're not. Far be it for me to disagree with the Baseball Tonight braintrust but right now I don't think Brown could scare anyone if he went out there with a machete.
2005-05-04 14:58:41
28.   Adam M
For some reason obscure unrealized trade packages stick in my mind like peanut brittle on a back molar. Seem to recall that Hollandsworth was involved in the proposed Randy Johnson deal as well. Cleveland offered I think Nagy, Sexson and one other guy; the Yankees offered their usual BS deal they had no intention of completing just to keep Cleveland from getting him, then yanked it at the last minute. The M's got a great package from Houston and pretty much rewrote the recipe for chicken salad, despite being over like 3 barrels (Johnson's FA, the teams' struggles without him pitching well, and his phantom "back injury" which was suddenly cured by the application of an Astros uniform to the affected area).

OT, greatest "what-if" non-trades I can recall:
*Joe Dimaggio for Ted Williams
*A pre-Orca Shawn Kemp/Jim McIlvaine/Hersey Hawkins to the Lakers for Eddie Jones and Elden Campbell

2005-05-04 15:35:23
29.   Eric Enders
right now I don't think Brown could scare anyone if he went out there with a machete.

Well, if he had a bat instead, he could probably still frighten a commode or two.

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