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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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Talking the Fifth: A Dodger Thoughts-Baseball Analysts Chat
2005-05-13 15:01
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

With the season about a fifth over, Rich Lederer of the supremely thoughtful Baseball Analysts and I sat down for a face-to-computer-to-computer-to-face chat about the state of the Dodgers. Here's how it went:

Jon: Asking the Rich Lederer Magic 8 Ball: With 34 games behind us, will the Dodgers win the NL West?

Rich: Although I picked the Dodgers to finish third back in the spring (before Bonds went down), I see L.A. winning the West now. I thought the Giants, Padres, and Dodgers would all finish within six games of each other. The division is perhaps weaker than anticipated, and the Dodgers appear to be the strongest of the bunch.

Jon: So the Dodgers haven't surprised you as much as the other teams have disappointed you a bit?

Rich: Well, if Bonds doesn't make it back well before the All-Star game, I think the Giants will have given up too much ground. I never really thought the Padres were anything more than a second or third place team. The one surprise has been the Diamondbacks, but I don't think Arizona can compete with L.A. over the course of the full season.

Jon: I agree with you about the Padres. They'll obviously contend, but they (and to some extent the Giants) got the opposite preseason treatment of the Dodgers. Their weaknesses were hardly scrutinized at all.

Rich: Right, the Dodgers because of Paul DePodesta more than anything else, have been under a microscope unlike almost any other team in memory.

First to 90?

Jon: So now we find the Dodgers have already had two seasons: a 12-2 start, followed by an 8-12 stretch. Some people may be wondering which of these is closest to the real Dodgers. But maybe they're just a 20-14 team that happened to break things down oddly. That projects to 95 wins.

Rich: After getting swept by the Angels in the Freeway Series, the Dodgers surprised almost everyone in baseball by going 12-2. They're no more a 12-2 team than they are an 8-12 team. I'm not even sure they are a 20-14 ballclub, but it is my opinion that the first team to win 90 games takes the West this year.

Jon: One thing the Dodgers have going for them is a fairly solid lineup for seven spots. Jason Phillips has given them a catcher that just about matches Paul Lo Duca's production, Hee Seop Choi has come on, and the core of J.D. Drew, Jeff Kent, Milton Bradley always seems to have someone working. Cesar Izturis has been wonderful in the leadoff spot, though his reliance on singles for on-base percentage seems to beg for some kind of slump later. Still, all-in-all, seven guys have been producing. They have one lineup problem to solve, at third base, but things could be a lot worse.

Rich: What I find interesting, Jon, is that the makeup of the lineup is such that guys like Drew, Kent, and Jose Valentin (before he was hurt) are all walking at rates not seen prior to DePo coming aboard. The Dodgers have improved their on-base average quite a bit and are a much better offensive club this year than even last season.

Jon: Absolutely. And in theory, the more pitches they see, the quicker they will get into another team's bullpen. And in a battle of bullpens, especially when Eric Gagne returns, the Dodgers should have an advantage over most teams. Of course, they do have to keep hitting: All walk and no play makes Dodger a dull boy.

Problem Position(s)

Rich: I have to admit to being skeptical about Ricky Ledee in left field or Jayson Werth, for that matter. Ledee is likely to regress toward his career production (which is one of mediocrity at best) and Werth (2-for-17 with no extra-base hits or RBI and nine strikeouts) is struggling in his rehab assignment after whiffing a ton last year. As for third base, I'm not sure what the Dodgers are going to do there. Do you have any suggestions?

Jon: So far this season, the Dodgers have a .747 OPS out of left field and .687 out of third base. Jason Grabowski, Norihiro Nakamura and the recent slump of Jason Repko have really leveled out the better performances of others at those positions. I think Antonio Perez can bump up the production at the Base of Misfit Toys, and I think a Repko/Werth-Ledee platoon can keep left field near where it's been. And then by July, DePodesta decides where the team needs the most help.

Rich: The problem, as I see it, isn't just one of offense at third base. I'm also concerned about the position from a defensive standpoint. The team's defensive efficiency (.691) is the fifth-lowest in the league.

Mike Edwards and Oscar Robles are career minor leaguers, Perez has some talent but is unproven, and, thank goodness, the Dodgers had the sense to drop Nakamura. I'm not suggesting that DePodesta should panic here, but I would be inclined to find a one-year stop gap for as little consideration as possible.

Jon: I agree. But in a sense, the point you bring up about left field leads us to the fact that DePodesta does have multiple weaknesses to consider with this team. Which is the bigger problem right now, for example: third base or a complete starting rotation?

No. 5 Ain't Alive

Rich: Given that Scott Erickson is the pitcher who makes the starting rotation incomplete, there is no doubt in my mind that finding a fifth starter is the more important issue, at least from the standpoint of the regular season. A fifth starter isn't all that important in the post-season though so I would want to shore up the third base situation before the trading deadline passes.

Jon: Well, I assume that Perez will get his shot to prove himself offensively and defensively at third base, and then if by mid-June the position is this year's version of Dave Ross-Brent Mayne 2004, DePodesta will make a move.

Rich: That's fair. One guy he won't be able to move in a trade though is Erickson. For my money, I don't see how Jim Tracy can afford to hand him the ball even one more time. I mean, five strikeouts in 31 innings? C'mon. I'm not sure what they saw in him to begin with but it's painfully obvious by now that the guy is done. No good. Incapable. Over-the-hill. Kaput.

Jon: One of the Dodger Thoughts commenters found, I think, that three of his five strikeout victims were pitchers. I believe Adam Eaton accounted for two.

Rich: Wow, if that doesn't say it all ... I can't add much beyond that other than to also chime in with the fact that Erickson has only struck out ONE batter in 17 IP at home. You know, as in Dodger Stadium, the renowned pitcher's ballpark. Now that is pathetic!

Jon: There's another journeyman in the organization. In Las Vegas, Pat Mahomes doesn't have big strikeout numbers, but he does have a 2.41 ERA - something you don't ever see a 51 have. Do you give him a shot before you make a trade? Or is that just wasting time?

Rich: Yikes, Pat Mahomes? I dunno, Jon. How is Edwin Jackson doing? How close is Chad Billingsley? Can Wilson Alvarez pitch every other turn when he builds his strength back up? There has to be another solution somewhere. Or is there just nobody within the organization outside of Mahomes who could fill that spot?

Future Tense

Jon: I think if we're talking about May-June, it's too soon for the young'uns. Spot-starting Alvarez is certainly an option if he's up for it physically - the Dodgers go from May 16-27 without needing a No. 5. Elmer Dessens, whom I've never been high on, looks more attractive than the other alternatives - too bad he's not ready to return from injury.

Let me put it this way - I'd rather risk wasting another start on Mahomes than on Erickson. But for the summer months, the fifth starter looks like a problem.

Rich: If you're DePodesta, do you trade a Joel Guzman, a Billingsley, a Chuck Tiffany, an Andy LaRoche, or some other highly prized prospect for immediate help or do you go with who brung ya?

Jon: I don't know. Part of me is content with contending for the division title and going for broke with a more mature group from the minors in 2006. But years of experience have taught me not to count too much on what looks good on paper - sometimes you do have to seize the moment. I could part with one A prospect in a good deal. Not a Tyler Houston-type deal, but a good one.

Rich: Yes, I would be agreeable to that as well. I wouldn't want to mortgage the future but if another team wanted one of my prospects bad enough, I'd have no problem if I got a meaningfully good player in return.

Jon: Before we leave the pitching, there are issues with the top four starters of Odalis Perez, Brad Penny, Derek Lowe and Jeff Weaver. These guys are not Randy Johnson - or I guess now I should say, Dontrelle Willis. But if they can give the Dodgers ERAs under 4 ...

Splitsville

Rich: All four can be really special on any given night but they seem to be pretty erratic as well. The home/away splits (3.14/5.55) are astounding. More than you would even normally expect. I think that is partially attributable to DePo getting pitchers who have what it takes to do well in Dodger Stadium.

Jon: I guess the Dodgers better take advantage of their home games, then, unless the splits on offense are just as extreme. Dodger fans sure have to be glad that St. Louis is in the rear-view mirror for at least 4 1/2 months.

Rich: The splits are not quite as extreme offensively. Another amazing stat is that the Dodgers are 2-12 in games in which they score three or fewer runs and 18-2 when they score four or more.

Jon: Hence, my desire to see the guys keep their ERAs under 4.

Rich: Understood. The Dodgers are 12-1 when they allow three or fewer runs. I even checked to see if perhaps those records were more the norm than not, but they are way below and above the league in each of those areas.

Jon: There's one person we haven't talked about, and he's become quite the topic of conversation for Dodger Thoughts readers: the manager. Jim Tracy seems to have lost a little favor despite the Dodgers being in first place - more people than before seem to think he is wasting opportunities and making mistakes. Interestingly, the mainstream media have hardly made a peep about him.

Rich: Your Dodger Thoughts readers are some of the brightest and most level-headed around. They see things the media is blind to because members of the latter are less apt to criticize when the team is playing so well. However, if the Dodgers reeled off a half-dozen or so losses in a row, then I'm quite sure the media would not only be wise to Tracy's mistakes but would go public with them as well.

Jon: I have to say, I have been truly disappointed by Tracy's timing on going to the bullpen for the past two weeks or so. He has been dramatically passive, to coin a phrase, and it has had as much impact on the results of the games as anything other than perhaps Choi's resurgence. Yes, the pitchers have to get the batters out, but the manager has to predict with some accuracy when that's no longer going to happen.

Rich: I wonder if the addition of Gagne to the role of closer and putting Yhency Brazoban back as the primary setup man will give Tracy more flexibility and confidence to pull the trigger at the right time in the future?

Smokejumper!

Jon: I think it will help and hope it will help a lot. Another great idea by a Dodger Thoughts commenter was making Brazoban a "smokejumper" - instead of stacking the closers in the eighth and ninth innings, bookend them. Use Brazoban to get the Dodgers out of that mid-game jam that seems to hurt them so much. The beauty of the idea - others have had the general notion, of course - is giving it a cool name that makes it enticing to do. I think it's a tremendous idea. But it won't happen - the best Dodger fans can hope for is that Brazoban and Gagne not be wasted.

Rich: For sure. I have always been an advocate of using your best relief pitchers in the most highly leveraged situations. Brazoban and Gagne should be used when the game is on the line, no matter the inning. The Dodgers also have the luxury of having one of the best LOOGYs in baseball this year and a couple of decent back of the bullpen guys who could pitch late in a game, if need be.

Jon: All in all, I'll stick with the notion that the Dodgers have a contending team that may be the NL West's best equipped to improve itself at midseason. It won't be a smooth ride, but it could easily end in the playoffs.

Rich: I think the Dodgers have the best shot at winning the West. However, I am not as optimistic about their chances of beating the Cardinals, Braves, and perhaps the Marlins in the playoffs unless they make a meaningful trade or two to shore up a couple of their weaknesses. But the post-season is usually more about the hottest team than it is the best team. As such, if the Dodgers are playing well in September, it isn't inconceivable that they could find a way to beat these other teams in a short series.

Jon: Agreed! And if not, it beats watching all of October from home.

Rich: Not so fast, Jon. I want to enjoy June, July, August, and September first. I love the summer for the weather and baseball. It doesn't get much better than that.

Jon: It's all good ...

Comments (52)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2005-05-13 15:13:06
1.   Xeifrank
woof! woof!

NL West and NL East have both become a four team dog fight. Meanwhile, the NL Central, minus the Cardinals have become... well, just dog food.

vr

Xeifrank

2005-05-13 15:26:23
2.   Xeifrank
Great article/interview. Enjoyed reading it.

Cardinals, Braves, Dodgers... the three division leaders are the same from last year. Coincidence? I think not!

vr

Xei

2005-05-13 15:26:53
3.   Xeifrank
Ok. Now someone else post.

vr

Xei

2005-05-13 15:42:40
4.   the OZ
Xei falls short of the cycle...he got the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, but not 4th post.
2005-05-13 15:43:59
5.   dzzrtRatt
The big picture is as Rich and Jon say, I think--Dodgers the strongest in a weak division, better by far than the two press darlings, SD and SF.

But in the short run, I think this week in St. Louis showed that the injuries have finally caught up with the Dodgers, and are beginning to eat us up from within, like termites. Tracy's poor bullpen management (as hinted above) could just be a guy who knows he doesn't have all the cards he needs, so he has to do a lot more inside-straight draws, banking on a wobbly pitcher to escape without more damage. The injuries to Werth and Valentin are costing LA playing time from probably its two weakest links offensively, so it doesn't seem like that big a deal, but it is, because replacing them has depleted the bench. Ultimately, the Valentin injury might cost us a real good prospect in return for a mediocre fill-in, which also will damage the team.

Obviously, the Dodgers have been lucky compared with the Giants, who've lost probably their three most important players. But I think we're going to see some tough times until the pitching staff and bench are at full strength.

2005-05-13 15:45:59
6.   Bob Timmermann
Lederer's Law: First to 90 wins the division! It's the law!

Tooting my own horn, I was the guy who went through Erickson's box scores looking for Ks.

Eaton and Loaiza account for 3 of the 5 Ks. I forget the other two. One Padre (either Giles or Nevin) and some other nonentity

2005-05-13 15:46:09
7.   the OZ
Regarding Werth -

Let's not forget that while he's struggling at LV, he's just now getting his strength, swing, and timing back. He only got that one AB in spring training and is very far behind everyone else as a result.

We should hopefully see a slow [but not too slow] return to the Finley-esque rate stats he was putting over the last half-season. A solid 6 hitter would be very nice.

2005-05-13 15:46:43
8.   Bob Timmermann
Oh, and one of Erickson's Ks came when Eaton bunted foul on strike three. He wasn't exactly blowing it by him.
2005-05-13 15:55:07
9.   mcrawford
I was surprised to learn that the Dodgers' (!) defensive efficiency is so low. I remember checking it after 15-20 games, and it was 2nd or 3rd in the league. So it must have plummeted recently.

I was having some fun earlier with b-ref's college pages. I tried to figure out the best team I could put together with ex-UCLA people.
C - Don Slaught
1B - platoon Karros & Chambliss -- was Chambliss better than Karros? it doesn't really look like it
2B - Jackie Robinson
SS - Mike Gallego -- yes, he's the best one available
3B - Todd Zeile (Glaus?)
LF - Jeff Conine
CF - Shane Mack
RF - Bud Stewart (??)

The starting rotation is awful, though:
Tim Leary
Bill Bonham
Matt Young
Jim Parque
Dave Schmidt

2005-05-13 15:56:08
10.   Landonkk
Great stuff as usual, Jon. Hey guys - Rich thinks we're bright and level-headed.

One thing that I have found interesting, both with myself and with other fans (as witnessed on this board), is the constantly changing psyche of a Dodger fan. It has become even more apparent as the Dodgers have alternated wins and losses this entire month (before yesterday). When the Dodgers roll to a victory over the defending NL Champs via a 3 run blast from everybody's favorite underdog, I honestly feel that we have a legitimate shot at doing some real damage this year. My feelings are usually mirrored all over the place by other Dodger fans. This is followed by unhealthy frustration and depression less than 24 hours later when I watch the Cards look like they are hitting off a tee (most of the time with two outs), and we can't get anybody out. I then proceed to find numerous doomsday posts by the same faithful posters. I am smarter than this. I like to think of myself as an educated fan, and usually have a good sense of where my team stands in regards to bottom line talent and likely production, in turn giving me some sort of guideline on how much I should get my hopes up. This team is tough though. Exemplified by their 12-2 streak followed by their 8-14 streak, I think the team itself might be having the same confused feelings. Ahh.... such is baseball I suppose. And such is being a diehard fan. You live and die with them. I guess I would just like to have an idea if I will be living or dying ...

2005-05-13 15:59:23
11.   ElysianPark62
Erickson blamed the defense in Tuesday night's game. Great. I'm sure that endeared him to teammates. When you've given up 9 HR's and only gotten 5 K's, you have no room to point fingers.

The guy is toast. He has no out pitch. ST was a fluke. Is he going to be this year's Nomo, or will they wise up? I fully expect him to be tattooed on Sunday by Atlanta.

2005-05-13 16:05:19
12.   ElysianPark62
The Cardinals certainly exposed Dodger weaknesses. It is very disturbing when your pitchers cannot shake off poor defensive plays (ummm, Choi? I'm calling him "Redwood" from now on) and bad umpiring calls. Buckle down and get it done. Lowe has shown this in two consecutive starts, and Perez and Weaver also have a history of it. And of course, we have Erickson outwardly blaming the defense.

There is no excuse, either, to give up 0-2 hits, especially to pitchers or otherwise poor hitters. Similarly, having a guy 0-2, only to walk him, is not acceptable.

This series was so frustrating. Now they have Atlanta, Florida, and ANAHEIM to face. With the Dodgers' recent luck, Angel batters will suddenly find their sticks.

Come on, guys, get it going!

2005-05-13 16:07:14
13.   Jon Weisman
In case it isn't clear, I have also made this the game chat thread for tonight. So unleash your Random Dodger Callback, Fact of Choi and It's a Schmoll World if you have them, people.
2005-05-13 16:08:19
14.   dzzrtRatt
Allow me to add my outrage over Erickson blaming the defense for his lousy pitching. Odalis Perez got fricaseed when he made the much fairer point about the LA offense in 2003, but Erickson seems to be escaping scorn for this idiotic, surreal alibi.

It must be that he's a dead man walking, so players figure "why bother?"

2005-05-13 16:15:06
15.   Bob Timmermann
Random Dodger game callback (hope this didn't get posted twice)

May 13, 1975

Burt Hooton, who had had two bad starts since being acquired in a trade from the Cubs, threw a 2-hit, 5-0 shutout in St. Louis before a crowd of 18,519 at Busch Memorial Stadium. Backup shortstop Rick Auerbach, filling in for the injured Bill Russell, drove in 2 runs and center fielder Jim Wynn drove in 3. The win put the Dodgers, the defending National League champs, 4 ½ games in front of second place Cincinnati.

But come June the season would go south on the Dodgers while the Reds took off. The key contributors of 1974, Wynn and reliever Mike Marshall could not match their efforts from the previous year as they were plagued by injuries like the rest of the Dodgers in 1975. The Dodgers ended up 88-74 while Cincinnati rolled up a 108-54 record which would eventually earn them a World Series title.

Hooton was one of the two bright spots for the Dodgers in 1975. Acquired on May 2 from Chicago in exchange for Geoff Zahn and Eddie Solomon, Hooton finished with an 18-7 record and a 2.82 ERA. Hooton won 12 straight decisions to finish out the year. Steve Garvey hit a 2-run game-ending home run off of J.R. Richard on September 26 to give Hooton his last win. In his career, Richard was 15-4 against the Dodgers with a 1.86 ERA.

The other highlight for the Dodgers in 1975 was the performance of second baseman Davey Lopes. Lopes stole 77 bases to become the Dodger to lead the league in steals since Maury Wills in 1965.

The most important player on the 1975 Dodgers however was Andy Messersmith. Messersmith put up a 19-14 record and a 2.29 ERA. But more importantly, Messersmith played the 1975 season without signing a contract. Messersmith, along with Dave McNally, decided that they would test out the legality of baseball's reserve clause at the end of the season.

In 1976, Messersmith was on the Braves. And baseball was much different.

Thanks to the New York Times, BaseballReference.com and Retrosheet

2005-05-13 16:36:30
16.   Jon Weisman
Okay, I'm changing my mind. I'm gonna do a separate game chat. Bob, you're welcome to repost RDGC there. Please continue to comment at will on the chat between Rich and me here.
2005-05-13 16:37:04
17.   Bob Timmermann
Fortunately, I have knowledge of the tools of "cut and paste"
2005-05-13 16:39:47
18.   Jon Weisman
Okay - look below for the game chat.
2005-05-13 16:40:27
19.   GoBears
Thanks for letting us listen in on your conversation with Lederer, Jon. I agree that the Dodgers are the favorites to win the West, but will need to improve to do anything in the playoffs. I also would be willing to part with one of our 4 3rd base prospects (including Guzman), and/or one of our pitching prospects in exchange for a MLB-caliber 3rd baseman. Aubrey Huff springs to mind. Polanco if necessary, but at a lower price. I think LF is also in need of help, but Werth might be sufficient, and anyway, it's easier to patch together something in LF than at 3B (because it's an easier position to play defensively). I think I'd release Erickson now, and call up Mahomes for that next start, saving the young guys til September.

Finally, I too loved the "smokejumper" moniker, but remind myself that this would not be new, but a return to the way relievers used to be used, as it were. With Gagne holding down the back end, I don't think it's impossible that something like that could happen if DePo or (chuckle) Tracy were to think of it or read it here. It would maximize Yhency's value, but ironically probably lower his market price (insofar as such haphazard use would not bring him "setup man" or "closer" money. Only his agent would have reason to object. I'd also use Carrara that way.

2005-05-13 16:59:56
20.   dzzrtRatt
Thanks, Bob. 1975 was one of those years I was more interested in wine, women and song (i.e. I was a college student, and sometimes the wine came in a green leafy form) than baseball, so my rememberances of that season are hazy. All I remember was that what Messersmith was doing seemed like an unwanted invasion of adult topics in the playground. I'd forgotten about Marshall's fast fade, and totally forgotten that Hooten came in a trade. Good trade! If DePodesta is half the dealer Al Campanis was, we'll have a good rest of the decade.
2005-05-13 17:36:18
21.   Vishal
do we need to invent this "smokejumper" word? doesn't it mean the same thing as "fireman" used to? that seems like a clearer image. he comes in, he puts out the fire.
2005-05-13 17:38:39
22.   Jon Weisman
No, people now equate "fireman" with "closer." We want a word that makes the middle innings glamorous. And "smokejumper" - the first guy into the fire, as opposed to the last guy putting it out - could do that.
2005-05-13 17:44:16
23.   Vishal
ah, i see what you're saying. i guess people do equate the two now. i really don't think a 3-run lead with nobody on in the 9th inning sounds like much of a fire, though.
2005-05-13 18:16:57
24.   franklin
Jon and Rich, thanks for allowing the eavesdrop.

I'm with GoBears... willing to exchange a few prospects for a proven third sacker in a Finley-esque rental then let one of the kids have it in 2006. As much as I want Griffey to right his career and by association the Big Red ship, I have a stronger desire to see them tank so the Dodgers can get their hands on Joe Randa in July. He should have been signed in the offseason anyway. This type of move is exactly why prospects are stockpiled. Playoff years are a rarity and the West is weak. The team should (and will) equip itself for a run this year.

In regards to the pitching staff, the performance of the 4-headed #5 (Erickson/Dessens/Alvarez/Jackson?) doesn't concern me as much as the Splitsville lines of the first four. Every team has a gaping hole at number five that they keep shoving bodies into. So far, none of our four have consistently displayed an ability to rebound from a bad inning. Tracy deserves some of our criticism but the reality is that his starters don't just lose steam, they stop dead in their tracks and lay down. Until two of the four starters show that they can limit bad innings to 1-2 runs, this is big trouble. Looking forward to the test of the next ten games...will the real 2005 Dodgers please stand up.

2005-05-13 18:20:51
25.   Vishal
joe randa?! why joe randa?
2005-05-13 18:26:34
26.   tomb
hey-- i've got 2 reserve level tickets for tonight that I can't use. if anyone from here wants them, just drop me an e-mail and you can pick them up in Hollywood.

thebump@earthlink.net

2005-05-13 18:42:09
27.   tomb
Sorry--

Disregard previous post. Somone's using them.

go dodgers.

thomas

2005-05-13 19:09:12
28.   DXMachina
May 1975 was when I saw the Dodgers inperson for the first time, on May 28 at Shea. Doug Rau lost to Jon Matlack, 4-3. One odd thing about the game was that Messersmith came in to relieve Rau in the eighth, after having pitched a complete game loss to Seaver two days before.
2005-05-13 19:51:15
29.   franklin
Randa...one year rental for the Reds. I don't think the Astros will get rid of Ensberg. Don't want to move someone from the AL and can't really find anyone else that a losing team will part with and fits the offense/defense that Randa brings. Not saying the guy is a star, just that he would take care of the 3B problem on the field and in the lineup immediately.
2005-05-13 20:03:49
30.   CanuckDodger
It would be quite foolish to give up any prospects of real value to patch a non-existent "hole." Our third bagger who was hitting .194 goes down and now we have a "hole?" We never expected much production from that position anyway with a 2B who is our clean-up hitter. It is for situations like the one we have now that Triple A exists. Mike Edwards is hitting close to .400, albeit in limited action. Aubrey Huff is a lousy 3B and is not hitting well anyway, but of course the punters want the "name" player instead of somebody who just does the job. Impatient, short-term thinking is something we have to get away from.
2005-05-13 21:31:40
31.   franklin
There is a "hole" when a starter is lost and the back-ups don't cut it. The toughest part about prospects is knowing which have "real value" in the long run. My recommendation to swap prospects for a rent-a-vet is contigent on the condition that there still is a perceived offensive/defensive hole at 3B when the deadline approaches because the other options haven't panned out.
2005-05-13 22:04:36
32.   CanuckDodger
The discussion has been about trading one of our few "elite" prospects. I know who those guys are, what they can do. Their "real value" is not a mystery. None of them should be traded for a "hole filler." Now if a deal at the deadline can be made in which we give up the kind of expendable prospects that got us Steve Finley last year, great, I would be fine with that.
2005-05-13 22:14:58
33.   In Enemy Country
That was awesome, thanks Jon.
2005-05-13 22:27:49
34.   franklin
Now if a deal at the deadline...I would be fine with that.

We're in agreement. I'm not advocating giving up the crown jewels for a three month rental, just the fools gold.
2005-05-13 23:59:00
35.   aloofman
Has anyone seen any mention in the local media about how two players that the Dodgers let leave -- and DePo has been criticized repeatedly for -- haven't hit well at all? Obviously it's early, but if you're going to rake the front office over the coals about dissing Finley and Beltre, at least acknowledge that, so far, it's money well unspent.
2005-05-14 00:39:50
36.   Sameer
"if you're going to rake the front office over the coals about dissing Finley and Beltre, at least acknowledge that, so far, it's money well unspent."

Easily explained: Joe Morgan says that it is totally unfair to compare how the players are doing for their present team with how they would have done with the Dodgers.

God I hate Joe Morgan. Oh, by the way, I have a question. Will somebody tell me how to bold the quoted text on internet explorer so that I can present quotes like everybody else?

2005-05-14 04:09:34
37.   GoBears
*32: The discussion has been about trading one of our few "elite" prospects. I know who those guys are, what they can do. Their "real value" is not a mystery. None of them should be traded for a "hole filler."

That's impressive. Because GMs and scouts often DON'T know which guys are going to make it, even after AAA success. And if we DO have info on who is really good and who is likely a career minor-leaguer, and if that info isn't completely consistent with reputations, then we can win by trading the guys with better reps than they deserve. The Yankees are famous for this - hyping their prospects to trade them for better value. Besides, we have 4 3rd base prospects. We don't need all of them. Trading from strength is the whole point. Now, of course, not for 3 months of junk. Only if something worthwhile comes up.

2005-05-14 04:56:29
38.   william
Victor Diaz was widely seen as filler when we traded him to the Mets for Ventura, and he's been looking really good. It's hard to tell with prospects.

I want to see Placido Polanco in Dodger Blue. Pretty cheap, really versatile, good defender, won't be that hard to pry away because Charlie Manuel is angry he's still on the team. They might bite on a B-list prospect and reliever. Something like Broxton and Sanchez? We can also give him arbitration next year, with this year's brouhaha I find it hard to imagine he'd take it, but if he did, he's a solid player at 3B, SS, and 2B.

A more radical path would be trading Izturis, perhaps to the Cubs, and get back a prospect and a 3B like Polanco. Have Valentin come back and play SS, and he wouldn't need to hit all that well to justify a starting spot because of his great defense. Then the IF is Choi-Kent-Valentin-Polanco, and doesn't block any of our prospects. Sell Izturis when his value is high!

2005-05-14 05:00:45
39.   william
I should also mention Aubrey Huff seems like a guy likely to be traded. D-Rays would want a premier prospect for him, but an elite hitter making $4.75 million this year and $6.75 million in 2006 is worth it. Next year, he'd move to 1B or the corner outfield to clear up 3B for a prospect if ready.
2005-05-14 08:23:14
40.   Jim Hitchcock
Sameer, just put asterisks at the start and at the end of the text you want bolded (no spaces) like *this*.
2005-05-14 08:39:56
41.   Howard Fox
was at the game last night...a few thoughts...

what the hell was Tracy thinking in leaving Weaver in so long? ok, a great 7 innings, but he pitches to the Brave cleanup hitter with the bases loaded and 110 pitches thrown? no one even warming up til chipper comes to the plate with second and third...

kudos to Bradley, but it should have been cushion, not come from behind...

last year Tracy worked the staff well, this year, he leaves the starters in an inning too long almost every game...

2005-05-14 09:01:09
42.   Sameer
Thanks, Jim
2005-05-14 09:55:08
43.   Dodgerkid
Great interview. When you do these Jon, I think they are some of the best times for the blog.

Can anyone say differently, but I think Tracy usually is decent with the bullpen. I've been watching him his entire time with the Dodgers, and I can't remember him being this bad so consistently. I'm of the opinion that perhaps his father's illness is getting to him, because there's just no other reason why he should all of the sudden be doing so poorly. Or has he always been this bad? I'm convinced he used to be good with the hook.

2005-05-14 11:37:44
44.   Fearing Blue
Regarding our 5th starter situation, Carlyle just pitched well for the 51s last night, but then Lopez blew the lead in the 9th. Buddy's line was 5IP 2H 1R 1ER 3BB 8K 0HR. We'll still need quite a few more performances like that before getting excited, considering his earlier performance in the majors. A lot of people on this board were hopeful that Buddy would be able to contribute. Perhaps his potential will best be realized as a 5th starter?
2005-05-14 11:51:40
45.   Fearing Blue
#43: It doesn't seem like Tracy trusts his bullpen like he has in previous seasons. On one hand, I understand how a few performances from Carlyle, Schmoll and Houlton would make any manager gun-shy. Yet, Alvarez, Carrara, and Wunsch have all pitched well, and Brazoban has been outstanding. Overall, our bullpen, even without Gagne, has been a strength, especially relative to our late-inning starting pitching. I'm hopeful that Tracy's bullpen management problems will be alleviated by Gagne's return tonight. Certainly, Gagne = 9th, Brazoban = 8th, Sanchez / Alvarez / Carrara / Wunsch = 6th & 7th is an easier equation to follow in close games.

As an aside, isn't it odd how all of our pitchers spontaneously implode after 5 or 6 innings? It seems like we have a "Grabowski" through 5 every other day.

2005-05-14 12:10:30
46.   ryu
Wow, is that what intelligent baseball talk sounds like? Thanks for the conversation, Jon.
2005-05-14 12:49:42
47.   tjshere
There is nothing I like better than "listening" to folks who know what they're talking about casually discussing baseball. Which is precisely why I enjoy this blog so much. Thanks, Jon, for sharing your conversation with us.

Regarding some of our holes, isn't it amazing how fast a little production can shut us all up? Just ask Mr. Choi.

2005-05-14 13:01:38
48.   Denezin
Being out here on the East Coast (DC), it is often difficult to catch the late Dodgers games on the West Coast (e.g., 10:40 start last night), so of course I Tivo™ the game to watch the next morning.

After faithfully watching the first 7 2/3 innings and feeling pretty good about a nice start to a Saturday, of course my heart is ripped out by Tracy again leaving in the SP too long. I immediately kick it into three arrow mode to just confirm my suspicion that Tracy will again be the goat. Well of course Milton comes back and saves his bacon and re-energizes my Saturday. Anyways, I just wanted to say how much fun it is to re-create the game by wading through 500+ posts knowing how things turned out. One of my first thoughts after LaRoche's slam was, "I gotta know what Steve had to say about that." To see the tenor of the posts turn from despair to elation was a great joy to me today...

2005-05-14 14:10:41
49.   bokonon42
If a no-no is a Grabowski, is a perfect game a Big Grabowski?

Great chat; thanks for posting it. Is Wunsch really a LOOGy? Looking at his splits over the last three years, he's faced about 2/3 as many RHs as LHs. His OPS allowed jumps against the RHs but is still lower than Duaner's career OPS allowed against RHs.

2005-05-14 14:47:11
50.   Dello
I'm all for the smokejumper concept! why let the game get away from you. that's why you have 6 guys in the pen. it should be how skillfully you play your cards that count.

remember when Worrell was our closer. that is when I realized how overrated that role was. He was complaining that the manager was not using him properly. he only wanted to pitch the ninth inning and never wanted to be brought in with anyone on base. I was suprised that he didn't demand to be only brought in with two out in the ninth with none on base. Oh, and a three run lead.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2005-05-14 14:54:03
51.   Steve
bokonon,

If you go over to The Hardball Times, there is a two-parter on "What is a LOOGY and why in the world did they get that way?" One of the things he found is that even the most dedicated of the LOOGYs, Mike Myers, pitches about equally to righties and lefties, and then most loogys have a split sort of like you're looking at for Wunsch. I expected an ending to the story like LOOGYs are good or LOOGYs are bad, and the conclusion was more like "LOOGys are there" and so you can draw your own conclusions.

2005-05-14 15:04:49
52.   Langhorne
Re: #48

Denezin, I echo your feelings. I have the opposite problem to yours. I'm on the west coast but I work nights. When the Dodgers are on an eastern trip I can usually see the whole game. But tonight I'll probably see three or four innings before I go to work. I really look forward to reading the comments when I get home. It's a great way to unwind after work. My thanks to everybody.

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