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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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The Slump, El Slumpo, Slumpola
2005-05-15 22:14
by Jon Weisman

It's all Elmer Dessens' fault. He was injured on April 19. Two days later, it all began.

The Games
4/21at San DiegoL 6-112-3Eaton (2-1)Erickson (1-1)
4/22at ColoradoL 9-1 12-4Jennings (1-2) Weaver (2-1)
4/23at ColoradoL 8-6 12-5Chacon (1-0) Perez (3-1)
4/24at ColoradoW 8-613-5Carrara (3-0)Kim (0-3)
4/25ArizonaL 4-2 13-6Vazquez (2-2) Lowe (1-2)
4/26ArizonaL 3-2 13-7Ortiz (2-1) Erickson (1-2)
4/27ArizonaL 6-3 13-8Cormier (1-0) Weaver (2-2)
4/29ColoradoW 6-3 14-8Perez (4-1) Jennings (1-3)
4/30ColoradoW 6-2 15-8Penny (1-0) Kennedy (1-3)
5/1ColoradoW 2-1 16-8Lowe (2-2) Chacon (1-1)
5/2WashingtonL 6-2 16-9Loaiza (1-2) Erickson (1-3)
5/3WashingtonW 4-2 17-9Weaver (3-2) Rauch (0-1)
5/4 WashingtonL 5-2 17-10Hernandez (4-2) Perez (4-2)
5/6at CincinnatiW 13-6 18-10Penny (2-0) Wilson (1-3)
5/7at CincinnatiL 11-3 18-11Weathers (2-0) Lowe (2-3)
5/8 at CincinnatiW 9-3 19-11Weaver (4-2) Milton (2-3)
5/9at St. LouisL 4-2 19-12Mulder (5-1) Perez (4-3)
5/10at St. LouisW 9-8 20-12Alvarez (1-0) Jarvis (0-1)
5/11at St. LouisL 9-3 20-13Suppan (3-3) Penny (2-1)
5/12at St. LouisL 10-3 20-14Carpenter (5-2) Lowe (2-4)
5/13AtlantaW 7-4 21-14Carrara (4-0) Reitsma (1-1)
5/14AtlantaL 5-1 21-15Bernero (3-0) Perez (4-4)
5/15AtlantaL 5-2 21-16Hudson (4-2) Alvarez (1-1)

  • The Dodgers have gone 9-14 in their past 23 games, playing 8-8 ball since losing six out of seven.

  • Against teams with a record worse than .500: 6-3

  • Against teams with a record better than .500: 3-11

  • 2005 strength of schedule according to .510, sixth out of 30 teams

  • Current RPI rating by fourth out of 30 teams

    OPS during the slump (updated through May 15, courtesy of Baseball Musings):

    1.164 Hee Seop Choi
    .928 Ricky Ledee
    .832 Mike Edwards
    .824 J.D. Drew
    .819 Jeff Kent
    .811 Milton Bradley
    .737 Cesar Izturis
    .719 Jason Phillips
    .714 Paul Bako
    .669 Olmedo Saenz
    .542 Jason Repko
    .303 Norihiro Nakamura
    .258 Jose Valentin
    .246 Jason Grabowski
    .118 Oscar Robles

  • Only Hee Seop Choi and perhaps Ricky Ledee have been hitting out of their respective worlds (and in limited duty, Mike Edwards and Paul Bako).

  • Still, the principal starters at first base, second base, right field, center field and left field are all hitting well at .800 or better, while catcher and shortstop are doing about as well as one would expect.

  • Third base is not.

    ERA and K/9 during the slump (updated through May 15, courtesy of Baseball Musings):

    3.97/6.0 Brad Penny
    4.94/6.8 Derek Lowe
    5.93/6.5 Odalis Perez
    6.16/7.6 Jeff Weaver
    6.41/2.4 Scott Erickson

    * * *

    0.00/7.9 Kelly Wunsch
    2.08/8.3 Wilson Alvarez
    2.25/10.1 Yhency Brazoban
    2.45/12.3 Giovanni Carrara
    2.92/5.1 Duaner Sanchez
    5.59/6.5 Steve Schmoll
    12.27/12.3 Buddy Carlyle
    14.62/9.0 D.J. Houlton
    18.00/27.0 Eric Gagne

  • Interestingly, the strikeout numbers of the top four starters are pretty decent. But when your starting rotation boasts ERAs of 4, 5, 6, 6 and 6, you're going to be in some trouble.

  • The bullpen has been outstanding in the first four spots. The final three spots (Carlyle/Alvarez, Schmoll/Gagne and Houlton) have allowed some close games to get out of reach.

  • One unanswered question: if Dodger manager Jim Tracy went to the bullpen sooner in games, keeping the starters' ERAs down, would the bullpen ERAs have gone up? Or would the team ERA go down?

    Either way, it's pretty simple. Stop the bleeding in the starting rotation while maintaining the current production from the offense and bullpen – and while also getting through a difficult part of the schedule - and the Dodgers are back in business.

    * * *

    Check below for updates to this post ...

    Update: Score by Innings

    April Date/Score

    21 200 031 000–6
    22 022 230 000–9
    23 430 010 000–8
    24 200 003 010–6
    25 300 000 100–4
    26 030 000 000–3
    27 011 000 301–6
    28 --- --- ---
    29 010 000 110–3
    30 000 000 101–2

    May Date/Score

    01 100 000 000–1
    02 000 000 222–6
    03 011 000 000–2
    04 000 010 400–5
    05 - --- --- - - -
    06 000 000 042–6
    07 000 006 230–11
    08 001 100 010–3
    09 100 030 000–4
    10 000 341 000–8
    11 111 030 120–9
    12 005 010 400–10
    13 000 000 040–4
    14 100 011 002–5
    15 000 002 102–5
    Total (15)(12)(11) (6)(20)(14) (20) (18) (10)–242

    Update 2: These stats are for the entire 2005 season, from The Hardball Times:

  • Jeff Weaver: 5.15 ERA, 3.93 fielding-indepedent ERA, .677 defensive efficiency ratiobehind him
  • Brad Penny: 3.97 ERA, 3.03 fielding-indepedent ERA, .703 defensive efficiency ratio behind him
  • Derek Lowe: 2.94 ERA, 3.33 fielding-indepedent ERA, .712 defensive efficiency ratio behind him
  • Odalis Perez: 4.50 ERA, 4.03 fielding-indepedent ERA, .736 defensive efficiency ratio behind him
  • Scott Erickson: 6.57 ERA, 7.55 fielding-indepedent ERA, .744 defensive efficiency ratio behind him

    Erickson has actually had the best defensive play behind him of all five Dodger starting pitchers this season.

    Update 3: Edwin Jackson pitched a six-inning complete game for AAA Las Vegas in the second game of a doubleheader Sunday, allowing two runs, five hits and three walks while striking out four in a 2-1 loss. In the lidlifter, Pat Mahomes went an almost identical six innings, allowing two runs, six hits and four walks while striking out four in a 3-2 victory.

    No one ever says "lidlifter" anymore.

  • Comments (100)
    Show/Hide Comments 1-50
    2005-05-15 22:28:00
    1.   LAT
    From the LAT "Second baseman Jeff Kent couldn't get off a throw trying to turn two on the play preceding the home run. Although Erickson suggested the play should have been made, Kent would have had little chance of getting the speedy Marcus Giles at first."

    Has anyone seen what Erickson said? The Times curiously omitted the "suggestion". Whatever it was he sure is making friends amung his teammates.

    2005-05-15 22:43:45
    2.   the OZ
    Henson pointedly suggested that Weaver also wondered why the heck he was allowed to pitch to LaRoche, although Weaver clearly stopped short of blaming the manager when he said that he needed tp make better pitches.

    Regarding SOS (Strength of Schedule), it's true that we've played tougher opponents to date than our division foes (in some cases, extremely so), but the differences are less than 3% at the most extreme. This can't be an excuse for the poor play.

    Luck is a big factor, too. Several of the losses very easily could have been wins if hits had been structured differently. The Padres have about 8 one-runs wins in the last two weeks, and we haven't been so fortunate.

    2005-05-15 22:47:23
    3.   Dodgerkid
    I think it's just bad luck, especially for Weaver. Tracy should have pulled him that last game with the grand slam, and everyone knows it. Expect that to go down. Erickson needs to be dropped immediately. I don't believe we will see Erickson for awhile because of the schedule, so I think our record will improve. Can anyone good with stats show that this team is capable, or are we done?
    2005-05-15 23:05:34
    4.   the OZ
    I think we'll continue to see Erickson, actually. With Odalis' shoulder suddenly iffy and a decent outing by Erickson today, he's pretty much a lock to continue allowing 5 runs per start into the foreseeable future.

    I wish he'd just totally suck now, instead of throwing a decent game every third start inbetween disasters and fooling Tracy into thinking he can pitch.

    2005-05-15 23:34:44
    5.   Bob Timmermann
    Sanchez is also a candidate for a spot start and apparently is considered more of a candidate for one than Alvarez.

    It would be nice for the Dodgers to win tomorrow and get a chance to go back ahead of the Padres, but one thing I'm learning from my trips through Dodgers history is that records in May are usually not all that predictive of how a team will end up.

    I'm beginning to wonder just when Arizona will wake up out of its dream, but they might hold on longer than expected. They are going to Houston, which should be fun for them. The Astros did manage to split their four game series with the Giants. I don't believe that the DBacks will face Clemens.

    And when the Dodgers rumble with their designated interleague rival in the Angels over the weekend, the DBacks will be playing theirs: Detroit.

    San Diego's designated interleague rival is Seattle.

    (I'm referring to the interleague team that a team plays two series against.)

    2005-05-16 00:34:13
    6.   DougS
    I agree with OZ and Dodgerkid in that you have to consider the effect of bad luck during this bad stretch. It really seems like the Dodgers have been hitting more line drives at fielders and have had more good fielding plays made against them than during the first two weeks. E.g., if Furcal doesn't knock down Drew's liner (and that ball was hit hard) in Sunday's game, that changes things pretty dramatically. And that blown call at second base in St. Louis has to qualify as a horrible bit of luck....
    2005-05-16 06:41:42
    7.   Im So Blue
    From the OC Register:

    Erickson has made oblique references to being one pitch or one play away from avoiding trouble in his starts and did the same when asked about the ground ball.

    "It's tough. Big-league hitters are good," Erickson said. "If you give them a couple extra chances, they're going to get to you. It's not just me but a lot of games the past week. ... You've got to find a way to get that third out."

    From the Riverside P-E:

    Afterward, Erickson spent about a minute staring pointedly in the direction of Kent and center field.

    "It's a groundball. I don't know what to say," Erickson said. "I can't believe the next pitch went out of the park. That was even more amazing to me."

    Tracy and Kent both called the potential double play a difficult one.

    "A slow ball hit down the third base line with Giles probably their fastest guy on the team, a double play wasn't going to happen," Kent said. "That's why I was trying to throw the ball before I even caught it, because I knew we were going to have almost no chance to get it."

    2005-05-16 08:28:22
    8.   Sushirabbit
    Erickson seems like a cancer to me; the one good thing is that it looked like the whole defense was pointedly ignoring him, particulary Choi after Erickson tried to get him killed again. Hahaha.

    But maybe that's what the guy needs to be a successful pitcher. But having seen how he plays defensively in two games, I don't see a future for him.

    2005-05-16 08:29:33
    9.   Suffering Bruin
    #7 - That cuts it.

    Dear Mr. Erickson,

    Suppose the press provides an open microphone for players who want to comment on the quality of your pitching this season. Not that they would because that might, you know, be bad for the team but suppose for a moment the players as a group decided, what the hey, I want to make a few remarks about a boy and his gopher balls.

    I'll wait a moment, Scott, to let that sink in.

    Oh, by the by... thank you so much for staring down Jeff Kent. I mean, really, that is rich. If you see a fly on a wall while Kent is in your face today, Scott, it's me.



    2005-05-16 08:52:11
    10.   JJoeScott
    Between Weaver the Quitter, Erickson the Blamer, Perez the Heartless, Lowe the Partier and Penny the Cowboy, that's quite the rotation.

    I didn't even need to read the Times article this morning to know what Erickson had to say about the ground ball.

    Here's what I have to say to Erickson: Michelle Tafoya is both hotter and a better reporter.

    Still, I do wonder if Jeff Weaver ready to pull Erickson after five like the rest of us were? I just wonder who Weaver would have sent up to bat for Robles in the 6th ...

    2005-05-16 09:00:16
    11.   JJoeScott
    One more thing: I've been following the team since I was 9 years old and I have never HATED a Dodger player. Until now.
    2005-05-16 09:08:17
    12.   Wayne Wei-siang Hsieh
    I agree that Erickson's a punk, but I don't see any alternative in the rotation right now, with Odalis' shoulder in question. It's not like DJ Houlton's has shown very much promise as a replacement, and neither has Edwin Jackson.


    2005-05-16 09:11:31
    13.   Sam DC
    So -- it's just been work work work, mom in town, work work work for me. Have really missed participating in the life of the site over the past week. Have also missed checking a gamescore w/out having to say "bleh." Time for me and the Dodgers both to get back in the game.

    Anyhow, with 10 plus posts and 2000 or so comments under the bridge, I'm afraid that a lot of DT wisdom is forever gone to me. I did skim a bit across the surface of the comments like a Bolivian Hovercraft in time of war, but thats's all I managed.

    Between $2 Tuesdays, this Erickson nonsense, Perez' shoulder, and heaven knows what else, anyone think it's time for another group hug?

    2005-05-16 09:13:07
    14.   Bob Timmermann
    #11, I don't know your age but you didn't hate?

    Darryl Strawberry
    Mike Davis
    Don Stanhouse
    Dave Goltz
    John Tudor
    Steve Howe

    And there's sizeable amount of discontent with guys like Kevin Brown or Gary Sheffield.

    My most hated Dodger has to be Strawberry. By an incredibly wide margin.

    2005-05-16 09:15:40
    15.   JJoeScott
    Timm - Strong dislike, perhaps. Extreme disappointment. Mild resentment.

    And of course Goltz never should have started the playoff game in '80!


    Yeah, I guess I do hate Kevin Brown now that you've brought it up.

    2005-05-16 09:24:47
    16.   Steve
    Late-vintage Mondesi was another one.
    2005-05-16 09:42:22
    17.   Jacob L
    All weekend long, as Vin waxed nostalgic about Mondesi, I kept waiting for him to tell it like it is -

    Raul Mondesi, the most disappointing player of my lifetime, and I can't think of a second place.

    2005-05-16 09:43:43
    18.   FirstMohican
    Vin said he was a disappointment.
    2005-05-16 10:09:31
    19.   Jon Weisman
    See update above: Erickson has actually had the best defensive play behind him of all five Dodger starting pitchers this season.
    2005-05-16 10:11:30
    20.   Bob Timmermann
    With Erickson's lack of strikeouts, he better get good defensive support. Think of how bad his record would be otherwise.

    You'd be looking at a 2000 version of Orel Hershiser.

    2005-05-16 10:14:07
    21.   Stefan
    The D-Backs are actually scheduled to face Clemens on Wednesday.

    Yeah, at some point, the "luck" begins to run out (or, at least, stops adding 25% to the win total), but there's only so long you can say that until the luck factor doesn't become quite an issue.

    The Pythag factor is screwed up by the fact that the D-Backs have lost 3 games by a combined score of 50-11. No, it's not good that they haven't won any games by a large margin of victory, but I've wondered before whether the rankings would be improved at all by "calling" games at 10 runs.

    2005-05-16 10:16:14
    22.   franklin
    Bob-Please add Carlos Perez to the hate list for me. Thanks.
    2005-05-16 10:24:43
    23.   Bob Timmermann
    It's not my list. I'm just picking out nominees.

    I think among current Dodger fans the winner would be Sheffield, followed by Brown and then Mondesi.

    If you go further back, Darryl Strawberry would win, although Delino DeShields would get some votes, although he wasn't a bad guy as much as being the wrong guy.

    Bill Russell had a career arc where we thought he was good, then we thought he stunk, then he became a respected veteran, then he became a coach, then he became a manager, and then we went back to hating him.

    My current enemies list of non-Dodgers is fairly arbitrary and many were chosen in Malcolm Gladwell-esque "Blink" style.

    2005-05-16 10:29:47
    24.   gvette
    Missed this weekend's meltdown while gambling my family's future away in Vegas.

    Top 5 most hated Dodgers;
    3)Eric Davis
    4)Kevin Brown
    5)Mike Marshall-either one

    Honorable mention to Brett Butler for the Mike Busch incident. Erickson is now definitely a contender.

    Besides Steve at FJT, did anyone else think Bill Shaikin's Friday game story was an absolute joke. Tremendous comeback, and he blathers on about the LAPD for the entire story. Another well balanced article from the Times. Shaikin and Mike Penner must think the only way to get promoted is to join in the Dodger bashing.

    2005-05-16 10:50:42
    25.   Sushirabbit
    Definitely Strawberry. I actually kind-of-disliked Garvey, too. Everybody thought I should like Garvey and that's probably why I didn't, Kent, would have been more my style way back then, sort of a Johhny Unitas. Dreifort wore me out, too, but that was not from attitude thing. But Strawberry I hated.
    2005-05-16 10:57:16
    26.   jtshoe
    Does Jack Clark qualify for that list since he's a coach? I'd have to put him in my top 5. And if coaches count, Glenn Hoffman would probably also make my top 5.

    As for players, what about Offerman? I never was a fan of his either.

    2005-05-16 10:59:24
    27.   Steve

    Yes, 22 and 23, that completes my list. Thank you for playing.

    2005-05-16 11:02:40
    28.   Sam DC
    New and hopefully improved version of this comment (first try seems lost in the ether)-- first post seems lost in the ether. Didn't hate him, but Jeff Shaw always bugged me. Some combination of his utter disinterest in playing in LA, his kooky warmup/pitch scripting habits, and the deal that brung him I expect. Mostly, it was just bizarre being on vacation and looking up and seeing a Dodger in the All Star game that I didn't even know was a Dodger.
    2005-05-16 11:04:12
    29.   Marty
    My most hated Dodgers:

    1. Jose Offerman
    2. Delino DeShields
    3. Don Stanhouse
    4. General Soreness
    5. Tom Niedenfuer

    2005-05-16 11:05:39
    30.   Steve
    We've forgotten Bobby Bonilla! No circle of Dodger Hell is complete without Bobby Bonilla.
    2005-05-16 11:17:38
    31.   bigcpa
    Great summary Jon. Clearly the starters have been the issue. I'll add that over the 23 games we've gotten a mere 10 quality starts. Tracy's late hook could have preserved a few more. But it's tough to go 13-10 or 14-9 without getting QS around 2/3 of the time.

    Hopefully we'll get a break from Old Man Pythogaras the rest of the way. AZ/SD/SF area combined 10 wins over projected. We're +1.

    2005-05-16 11:18:16
    32.   Landonkk
    Off Topic Warning :

    The LAT says that Tracy mentioned Sanchez as a possible starter. He has apparently been working on a changeup and been working a lot with Colby. Dodger fans know that Sanchez does have a live arm, but is a worse pitcher than his sub 3 ERA. I personally think this might be a PR move to build up a supposed confidence in Duaner for trade talks. His name has been mentioned in a possible deal for Polanco, and I just don't see Tracy taking a chance with him as a starter since we have a few other viable options. Thoughts...?

    2005-05-16 11:24:33
    33.   Marty
    Add Wilton and Lisa Guerrero to my list.
    2005-05-16 11:36:54
    34.   Bob Timmermann
    Both Lisa Guerrero and the woman who replaced on Monday Night Football, Michele Tafoya do not use their real last names. Lisa Guerrero's last name at birth was Coles and too her mother's last name when she went into TV. I forget Michele Tafoya's real last name, but it's something far more Northern Europeanish.
    2005-05-16 11:41:32
    35.   Bob Timmermann
    The Daily News article today on Paul Lo Duca presents a guy who looks like he's accepted the changes in his career and is not bitter.

    2005-05-16 11:43:41
    36.   Marty
    Nice photo they used of Lo Duca lunging and missing at a ball outside.
    2005-05-16 11:55:58
    37.   LetsGoDodgers
    I was very unhappy when Erickson was signed in the offseason (I have no room in my heart for men who beat women). I was frustrated when Edwin Jackson couldn't get his game together in spring training. I was disappointed when DePo/Tracy looked at Erickson's tremendous spring stats and handed him the 5th starter role (he looked good facing minor leaguers, has-beens, and rusty veterans).

    Now, I am just disgusted.

    2005-05-16 12:01:37
    38.   dzzrtRatt
    "Hate" is by definition an unfair emotion. So here's my list of most-hated Dodgers, which includes others' best-loved, I'm sure:

    1) Eric Karros. Stat-hungry, poor in the clutch, embodies for me the frustration of the 1990s team.
    2) Steve Howe. Losing him sent the Dodgers on a ruinous chase for a replacement that cost us one good prospect after another.
    3) Terry Forster. Surprised no one's mentioned the fat tub of goo that kept a fine LA out of the playoffs in 1982.
    4) Roger Cedeno and Tom Goodwin (tie). "You can't steal first base."
    5)Ismael Valdez. No guts, looked like he was about to bust out crying everytime he was on the mound. Didn't finish off Karros when he could have.
    6)Mariano Duncan and Marquis Grissom (tie). Lead-off hitters who thought a base on balls was beneath them.

    I'll give Erickson a pass if the Dodgers release him before the end of June.

    2005-05-16 12:04:14
    39.   LetsGoDodgers
    My top 5 least favorite Dodgers:

    Strawberry (in first place by a long shot)
    Carlos Perez
    Franklin Stubbs

    2005-05-16 12:10:32
    40.   Jonathan
    so far, 2005

    240/268/367 635

    Dodgers as 3B
    205/318/333 651

    MLB average as 3B
    274/348/447 795

    This is funny, however I don't think third base is a big problem. The current problem is the starting pitching and some very unlucky timing of offensive events.

    2005-05-16 12:12:28
    41.   bojangles
    Funny to hear all this poltergeist talk among The Rational Prince's Rational Legions; maybe, after the first real test, this is the result of good-strategy-bad-tactics predicted in this corner at season's beginning...and maybe it's just one more typical trough to be followed by one more typical sudden ascent as Manager Jim goes sailin' in the Sea of Despond. (Ever a streakier Dodger helsman?)
    Shaky analysis, Jon. This is team suffering from callow general managing, hasty re-active decision-making on key fronts since last July. Numbers-juggling, in the end, will not disguise that bitter chemical taste from this supposed experiment in non-chemistry.
    2005-05-16 12:22:54
    42.   Jon Weisman
    However shaky my analysis might be, Bojangles, you don't counter with any kind of concrete analysis at all. One could say "flowery writing, in the end, will not disguise ..."
    2005-05-16 12:30:39
    43.   Gold Star for Robot Boy
    2005-05-16 12:32:10
    44.   DougS
    Scoff if you will, bojangles, but the 'Rational' approach to baseball does not discount the importance of luck over the short term. Quite to the contrary, it stresses that the smaller the sample size, the more luck can distort the statistical picture. What Jon is doing here is presenting a snapshot of a small sample of the season and wondering aloud what it might mean in relation to the season as a whole. It's a valid question, but one that may not have a good answer right now.
    2005-05-16 12:34:07
    45.   dzzrtRatt
    Re: #41

    I'm a caveman. Your talk of poltergeists frightens me. But I sense that you are saying the team's problem is a lack of chemistry? Boy, that's one issue I didn't think would surface to explain the current slump. This team seems have come together quite nicely as a unit. They just aren't getting good starting pitching, which is not survivable in the Major Leagues.

    Hopefully, all we've got is a bunch of independent slumps; and even those are overstated. Lowe's is worrisome; is this guy really any good? Perez's is worrisome for different reasons; could he be hurt? Penny's slump is he had one bad game. Weaver actually is pitching well right now. Erikson belongs outside the stadium scalping tickets, and hopefully he will soon be replaced by Sanchez, Alvarez, Jackson, or someone we get in a trade.

    2005-05-16 12:41:16
    46.   Bob Timmermann

    What's that all about?

    2005-05-16 12:43:49
    47.   Sam DC
    I just hope I don't get Legionnaires' disease.
    2005-05-16 12:44:32
    48.   FirstMohican
    I'm going to offer my solution at 3B, regardless of how likely his aquisition may be: Russell Branyan

    1.055 against righties, platoon w/ saenz or a healthy valentin, solid 3B no?

    There aren't any seemingly attainable 3Bs out there that I've seen.

    2005-05-16 12:48:41
    49.   bigcpa
    Steve, please update the latest CORP data. I knew Jon in his haste overlooked something.
    2005-05-16 12:56:48
    50.   scareduck
    Jon -- just a minor tweak, but a tweak nonetheless: when does a sample size reach statistical significance? This is a side discussion I'm having with Studes via e-mail regarding my posts yesterday on Gagné. I had to drag out my college stats textbook (I never actually took the class) and started looking this one up.

    The comments on the dichotomy in the bullpen may actually partially explain why Tracy has stayed with his starters so long -- essentially, he's only got half a bullpen (the Houston Astros' disease) and has to manage accordingly. Still, he had three guys warming up Friday in the 8th and he could have pulled Jeff at any moment.

    FirstMohican/48: I assume you mean, aside from Polanco. But I suspect that is just gas from the Times.

    Show/Hide Comments 51-100
    2005-05-16 13:05:16
    51.   dzzrtRatt

    I said yesterday that the problem with Tracy staying with starters too long might not be a character flaw so much as a lack of confidence in the pitchers with whom he would replace the struggling starter. Friday night, Weaver should never have started the 8th. But if you wind the tape to the point where Weaver loaded the bases, how confident should Tracy have been in the ability of one of his new pitchers to avoid Weaver's fate? Tracy's decision--that Weaver was his best available option for getting LaRoche out--was at least arguable.

    2005-05-16 13:20:28
    52.   FirstMohican
    Re 50

    Polanco would be easier to get at 4.6M than Branyan at .8M, but I'd rather have Branyan by far

    2005-05-16 13:32:00
    53.   GoBears
    52: I'm with FirstMo. Polanco is a nice guy to have around. Like Figgins on the Angels 2002 team. But you don't want him starting every game (like Figgins now). Actually, I wonder if Polanco and Pedro Feliz are the same guy....

    Placido 29 820 .294/.340/.408
    Pedro 30 444 .261/.293/.451

    OK, I was wrong. Not the same guy. Polanco gets on base more often (mostly better batting average) but has no pop. They're actually only 6 months apart in age. Remember when Pedro Feliz was the hot prospect? He's 30! I feel old. The point of all this is that I don't understand the love affair with Polanco. He's not really very good except as a spare part. Maybe better than what the Dodgers are going with now, but there might be better options. In fact, I can't believe Antonio Perez will be worse than Polanco.

    2005-05-16 13:33:03
    54.   Jon Weisman
    Rob, if your question is whether the starting pitching might be as bad generally as it has been for the past 23 games, well, it might be. I think Weaver and Penny are better than their ERAs have shown, but the other three might not be.

    As far as the good half of the bullpen goes, I still maintain that a) you shouldn't worry about your relievers being tired until they are tired and b) if you leave a starter in and the result is more runs allowed instead of outs, you're not doing your bullpen a single favor. They'll have just as many outs to get.

    Obviously, the bullpen isn't automatic - they give up hits and runs, too. But there are good guys in that pen who have actually been underused, and you don't want that. If your starter reaches the eighth inning of a game and things are in jeopardy, there should be no hesitation about going to your best relievers.

    2005-05-16 13:38:34
    55.   scareduck
    54: Actually, Jon, I was thinking more about the splits you presented regarding defense. That is, given the concerns about sample size for individual pitchers, can we say anything meaningful about the defense behind each of them?
    2005-05-16 13:40:13
    56.   the OZ
    RE: statistical significance -

    The generally accepted minimum threshold for a set of observation to be statistically significant is 30. So, if you measure 30 of whatever (games, people's opinion's, etc.) you should have some idea of what's going on. [Thanks, UCLA Extension!] Of course, larger samples are ALWAYS preferred, 30 is just the minimum accepted.

    However, in the world of baseball where differences between 'great' and 'average' are quite slight, statistically (the difference between a .350 and .400 OBP at 500 PA is about one walk per week), 30 is a pretty small number. They differences don't have a chance to manifest themselves in a sample of that size.

    If you're judging players, it's best to wait til 200 or so plate appearances to make a reliable determination. Obviously, a player who is far below league average through, say, 50 PAs (Norihiro, I'm looking at you) cannot be expected to reach "average" numbers unless they perform far far above the baseline they've already established.

    This is why scouts are so very important: to cut through data noise and better understand where the numbers are a good bet to either improve or decline.

    Hence Phillips - last year's .200-whatever AVG hid the fact that he was unlucky with BABIP. Banking on a positive regression to the mean, DePodesta snagged him. My guess is that scouts saw something they liked, too.

    2005-05-16 13:41:13
    57.   bigcpa
    This guy is available for $316K:
    .281/.377/.586 (9 hr in 128 ab)
    2005-05-16 13:45:02
    58.   GoBears
    57: Wow - not bad. And available, you say? OK, big, spill it.
    2005-05-16 13:46:51
    59.   scareduck
    Ratt/51: I don't think so, and I've already said as much. Tracy had three guys warming up in the pen -- Carrara, Wunch, and Brazoban. If he really were interested in keeping his powder dry, he wouldn't have those guys warming up, would he?
    2005-05-16 13:48:05
    60.   GoBears
    Waitasec - those numbers are suspiciously close to A-Rod's. Did you mean $316K per game?!
    2005-05-16 13:48:08
    61.   scareduck
    bigcpa: are those major league stats or minor?
    2005-05-16 13:49:03
    62.   bigcpa
    Pinch-hitting for Oscar Robles... JOEL GUZMAN.
    2005-05-16 13:49:07
    63.   Jon Weisman
    55 - no, not as a predictor. In fact, I would question, no matter how much data you had, whether you could ever predict how a defense is going to play behind a pitcher.

    However, I think you can say what's past is past. And I think one could make the case that Scott Erickson is the last of the Dodger starters who should be complaining about the defense behind him.

    On the other hand, I just did a quick scan of some big-name pitchers around the NL, and they have DER behind them better than what Erickson is getting. Willis' is .768, Clemens is .761, Prior is .765. So even Erickson could be be getting more help. To which I say, "Do unto others ..."

    2005-05-16 13:52:51
    64.   LetsGoDodgers
    RE: #53

    "In fact, I can't believe Antonio Perez will be worse than Polanco."

    Based on what evidence???

    Polanco has a career line of .294/.340/.408 over 2871 at-bats.

    Perez has a career line of .252/.341/.357 over 143 at-bats. Hardly what I'd call a decent sample size.

    I think Perez has the potential to be a good player, while Polanco has proven he is a good player. There is no comparison on the price tag, but given the team's current budget they (allegedly) have room to acquire a player like Polanco.

    In the context of the Dodgers 25-man roster, I think the team needs less platooning, not more.

    2005-05-16 13:53:57
    65.   Jon Weisman
    To clarify my first paragraph in #63 - I meant how the same defense is going to play behind one pitcher as opposed to another.
    2005-05-16 14:01:06
    66.   dzzrtRatt
    Re 59

    I'm aware Tracy had three guys warming up. I'm assuming that Tracy isn't completely irrational, so my guess is he concluded there was a greater risk with any of those three pitchers coming in to face LaRoche with the bases loaded than in staying with Weaver. I would love to know what he was afraid of--a walk? a wild pitch? the particular matchup? I don't think it was a vote of confidence in Weaver, except in a relative sense.

    2005-05-16 14:03:11
    67.   spacebrother

    A friend of mine just flaked on attending the Marlins game tonight. If there is anyone who wants to go to a slumpola-period game with me for the price of a $17.00, field level, front row ticket, please email me at

    2005-05-16 14:03:11
    68.   bigcpa
    Ha you guys were on to me. That bump in walk rate might be Big Joel's ticket up here.

    2004- .297/.341/.540
    2005- .281/.377/.586

    2005-05-16 14:04:24
    69.   spacebrother
    ...and don't forget to bring your Team Depo shirt.
    2005-05-16 14:10:35
    70.   LetsGoDodgers
    RE: 68

    Have you compared the pitching Guzman has faced vs. the pitching he will face if he were called up today?

    At this point in time, Aybar has faced more pitching that is closer to the MLB equivalent than Guzman has. I'd rather see Aybar than Guzman this year.

    Don't get me wrong; I think Guzman is the future at 3B for the Blue Crew. Just not yet.

    2005-05-16 14:16:01
    71.   Steve
    bigcpa -- that was cruel. Not quite as cruel as the Italian Stallion hoax, but cruel.


    In one of the papers, DePo was just quoted as saying something like "We would like to leave Aybar in AAA, but we may not get that luxury." Duh, says I.

    2005-05-16 14:26:31
    72.   Fearing Blue
    #53/64: Comparing Polanco and Perez:

    Defensively, Polanco is statistically better than Perez. He's a positive infielder according to BP, whereas Perez is slightly negative.

    Offensively, Polanco is PECOTA projected as .287/.341/.429 and Perez is PECOTA projected as .257/.334/.411 (using equivalents). But, PECOTA gives a much higher chance for Perez to beat these numbers (most likely because of age).

    So, the question is are we willing to give up a prospect or a useful bullpen part for Polanco? We'd be getting a relatively expensive half-year rental who's going to give us a minor boost defensively and offensively, with little to no upside.

    While I can understand the argument both ways, my preference would be to start Perez at 3B until the trade deadline and then make a decision, since Perez does have some upside potential. What I'm most afraid of is that Tracy slots Perez into the 3B platoon roulette and we don't give him a chance to succeed.

    2005-05-16 14:31:35
    73.   dzzrtRatt
    72 -- totally agree. We haven't even seen Perez yet, and we're searching for alternatives. He's not Robles, yet. He might be, but we can struggle along til closer to the deadline. Remember the A's paradigm: Get to the trading deadline within reach of the top, then trade for the player(s) who will get you over the top.
    2005-05-16 14:42:54
    74.   Fearing Blue
    #71: Good point. Aybar is similar defensively to Polanco and his PECOTA projections of .244/.314/.396 (using equivalents) are slightly lower than Perez's. Those projections don't take into account his crushing of the ball so far in AAA this year, so he should project higher than that. If the PCL weren't so retarded, we might have a better idea of how he would fare against major league pitching. His line last year was .276/.346/.425 for Jacksonville and his line this year is .344/.403/.523 for Las Vegas.

    Comparing Perez's stats last year in Las Vegas to Aybar's stats this year:

    Perez (2004): 476AB .296/.379/.511 with 22HR, 87K, 61BB, and 24 2B
    Aybar (2005): 128AB .344/.403/.523 with 2HR, 20K, 14BB, and 15 2B

    Obviously, discretion is in order due to sample sizes, but Aybar compares favorably offensively so far, though he's been getting his pop from 2Bs instead of HRs.

    2005-05-16 14:45:56
    75.   Marty
    Obviously, discretion is in order due to sample sizes, but Aybar compares favorably offensively so far, though he's been getting his pop from 2Bs instead of HRs.

    That will make Steve Lyons happy since he thinks HRs kill rallys :-)

    2005-05-16 14:49:09
    76.   the OZ
    I kind of like the idea of Polanco, but I'm in the camp that says he's not a big enough upgrade to warrant giving up anything at all. He's also way more expensive than his expected contribution would justify.

    If we really want to make this team better, the first upgrade should be a starting pitcher. I'd be more willing to part with a decent prospect (Delwyn Young?) in exchange for a good-but-not-great pitcher, or a package for an Oswalt-type, should one become available. But not Polanco - he's just not good enough.

    2005-05-16 14:57:44
    77.   Suffering Bruin
    I think all of you are missing the main point of Jon's post.

    This all the fault of Elmer Dessens. :)

    2005-05-16 15:01:21
    78.   Ben P
    Hey dzzrtRatt, what do you mean when you say Perez is "not Robles, yet." Robles now has a total of 17 career AB. I'm not saying that he is definitely going to turn things around, but he might. He certainly deserves more time to try, at least until Perez is ready.
    2005-05-16 15:02:38
    79.   Xeifrank
    Off topic... but check out the numbers that Tino Martinez has put up the last two weeks. Ladies and gentlemen, Barry Bonds has returned.


    that's an OPS of 1.515!!!

    AB/HR of 4.2



    2005-05-16 15:02:43
    80.   Steve
    Perez is ready Wednesday, right? I'm guessing Robles isn't going to get too many chances after that, at least at third.


    2005-05-16 15:04:09
    81.   dzzrtRatt
    I was making a joking reference to the way the posters in this site get excited about a player and then get over him, sometimes within days. Last week, we were begging for Robles. Now we can't flush him quick enough.
    2005-05-16 15:04:33
    82.   GoBears
    Thanks to Fearing and OZ for putting it better than I did. Contra LetsGo's assessment: I think Perez has the potential to be a good player, while Polanco has proven he is a good player, I think that Polanco has proven that he is a mediocre player. A career OPS of .748 from a corner IFer is not good. Not horrible, but not good, and as Fearing put it, since he's 29 already, and would be coming to Dodger Stadium, there's not much upside there. For that OPS, and considering costs, I'd take a pass on Polanco and give Perez a shot. Ultimately, we might finish the season the way we THOUGHT we'd start it (before injuries), namely with a Valentin/Perez platoon, and with Robles, Nakamura, and Edwards back in the minors.
    2005-05-16 15:25:42
    83.   Jon Weisman
    81 - I believe that Billy Joel said it best when he so eloquently sang, "I don't know why I go to extremes." From the album, "We Didn't Start the Fire Jim Tracy."
    2005-05-16 15:34:29
    84.   GoBears
    81: I was noticing the same thing about the discussion of Robles. Funny - in this group, we generally understand the lack of information provided by small samples, so we resort to "scouting," only with untrained eyes. Well, Robles (or Nori) has "looked overmatched." Well, people were say that about Choi early on too. And now he looks totally in control of his PAs. Must be human nature. Which means that sabermetricians aren't computers after all... Who knew?
    2005-05-16 15:36:37
    85.   Rick A
    Don't look now but our former 3rd baseman is being touted as one of 2005's Free Agent Busts by SI (already).

    2005-05-16 15:39:34
    86.   dzzrtRatt
    Well, we also live in the era of "Blink." We, your posters, decide whether a player is good or bad based on initial impressions. We love, no I mean hate, Jason Repko. We love, er wait a second, hate, Scott Erikson. Why is Tracy playing that no-talent Choi, er wait, hold on, why isn't Tracy playing Choi every day?

    That's what's really fun about this site. You have so many brilliant statisticians putting up great nuggets of information that should guide all of us to a dispassionate view of what's going on with the Dodgers. Then we proceed to throw it all out the window!

    2005-05-16 15:41:54
    87.   Louis
    Hey Bob T,

    Is John Tudor really hated by Dodgers fans? Is that because of the popularity of Pedro G....or did he do/say something during his short tenure in LA? The only thing I remember him for (as a Dodger) was having an elbow that Dr. Jobe said was held together by a piece of string. And he did pitch relatively effectively in '88, right?

    2005-05-16 15:46:51
    88.   Bob Timmermann
    I don't think people care much one way or the other about Tudor, but I always got the impression that he definitely did not want to be in Los Angeles.
    2005-05-16 15:50:20
    89.   JSN
    I was trying to write something intelligent to add to this conversation but I gave up because alot of good points have been made and we have quite a few threads of discussion going on at once. Instead I resorted to pure opinion.

    I don't know how many of you like all the lineup changes, etc, but I think this is a team that could use a little more continuity in lineup spots, roles (i.e. pinch hitter, starter, platoon, etc.) so they can get into some sort of groove. I'm not talking chemistry, just comfort in the daily routine. I think that will happen once Perez and Werth are back. It's something I look forward to. Bouncing the lineup all around is really bugging me. Particularly Choi's appearance in the seven hole to take advantage of his power or some nonsense.

    As for the starting pitching, I think we have had a combination of mediocre outings coupled with a few bad decisions by Tracy. However in my opinion we're still in decent shape partway through a Cards, Braves, Marlins, Angels stretch. Gagne will get back into form, push the bullpen down, hopefully make Tracy feel more comfortable pulling starters and we're going to find our teams balance on offense and on the mound.

    WARNING: This post contains no data, numbers, or statistics and may not be suitable for some readers:)

    2005-05-16 16:01:52
    90.   Nagman
    #89, I remember at one point last season how pleased I was at the fact there was truly an "everyday" lineup. We must lead the league in lineups used... anybody know?

    Another thought... last season, the division was pretty much won in July. We held on for dear life in August and September. I also remember an 8 game losing streak (at least) in May or June, highlighted by some pretty mediocre play. So... I'm worried (maybe this is a .500 team?) but optimistic.

    On another note... I live in San Diego and while I watch the Dodgers on Extra Innings, I watch a lot of Padre games (I have a split screen feature on my TV). This team can hit. I'm not sure Klesko and Nevin can hold up for an entire season but 1-7 (somewhat biased thinking on Roberts) are tough and when K. Greene picks it up, the 8 hole won't be a "Ross" (or a Robles or a Nakamura).

    2005-05-16 16:02:41
    91.   Jon Weisman
    I actually did not think Robles was either a long-term solution at third base, nor as bad as he has looked - and still don't. It takes a lot for me to get too excited about a minor leaguer who's approaching age 30 or more. Buddy Carlyle has been the only minor pickup this year who really performed below my expectations.

    That being said ... not that batting order matters that much in the end, but I think if Robles were batting eighth when he played, and pinch-hit for as quickly as Choi has been pinch-hit for, people would be more patient with him.

    2005-05-16 16:08:42
    92.   Steve
    Bat Robles second, Edwards third, then bat Drew sixth and Choi seventh to take advantage of their power.
    2005-05-16 16:12:23
    93.   franklin
    jumping in a little late here but...

    54--if your question is whether the starting pitching might be as bad generally as it has been for the past 23 games, well, it might be.

    How well do stats on May 16 for Dodgers starters reflect their expected stats at the end of the season? As a first cut to address the question, I found the cumulative within season 2004 ERAs for Weaver, Lowe, Perez and 2003 ERA for Penny (skipped 2004 injury year) at various intervals throughout the season (end of 1 mo, on May 16, end of 3 mo, 5 mo and season).

    1 mo May16 3mo 5mo Final
    4.99 4.74 5.47 5.22 5.42
    3.69 3.59 2.96 3.09 3.25
    6.07 5.07 4.29 3.60 4.01
    4.11 4.35 4.78 4.19 4.13

    took the difference of the within year performance vs. the final and averaged the absolute values to get...

    deviation from final ERA
    1 mo May16 3mo 5mo Final
    0.74 0.58 0.32 0.21 0.00

    Lets have some fun now. Lowe currently has an ERA of 2.94, so by the end of the year he will have an ERA between 2.36 and 3.52 (probably on the higher side because ERAs tended to stay flat or increase toward the end of the season). Using the same logic, we have predictions for the rest of the staff:

    Lowe: 2.36-3.52
    Weaver: 4.57-5.73
    Perez: 3.92-5.08
    Penny: 3.39-4.55
    (screw Erickson...I won't waste my time)

    Given the variability and small sample size (# of pitchers), this is a rough guide (could add more years, types of pitchers, etc.--leave it to the SABRs) to illustrate the utility of current stats to predict total season performance. As the end of the season approaches these begin to approximate the final totals. For now, they are pretty big ranges (i.e. inaccurate) but I sure don't like Weaver's numbers.

    2005-05-16 16:15:20
    94.   GoBears
    I don't think lineup juggling matters much if at all, at least not if Tracy isn't micromanaging ABs according to "situations." I guess I just don't believe much in situational hitting. Go up, try to get a base hit. Pretty simple. Except in the bottom of the 9th in tie games, or with 1 run deficits, I can't imagine that trying to hit a SF or hit behind the runner, etc., is in anyone's mind. They're trying to get hits. Olney notwithstanding, "productive outs" are bad outcomes that are a little less bad than they could have been. I saw some comment that Choi wouldn't get any fastballs to hit in the 7 hole. Well, I watched, and he got plenty. And if he's a good hitter, he can hit off-speed pitches too. I'm pretty sure Bill James has shown that batting order doesn't matter much if at all in terms of run production, but I'm arguing that it also probably doesn't matter much to the batters involved, except when "middle of lineup" guys are obviously demoted to hit 7th or 8th. But for Choi, was the move from 2nd to 7th a demotion, or a promotion? Who knows? Fewer PAs, but with (potentially) more RISP?
    2005-05-16 16:18:25
    95.   Steve
    We are assured that Robles is a "good situational hitter." From what I understand, this means Jim Tracy thinks that if he bats him second, he can bunt Cesar Izturis over three times a game.
    2005-05-16 16:23:07
    96.   GoBears
    I really hope Cesar can learn to be a good base stealer. I understand that SBs aren't as important as they used to be, but if Tracy is going to send him anyway, he might as well make it. It would also reduce the sacrifice bunts. Cesar is obviously very fast, so it must be that he can't read the pitchers very well. Hopefully, Maury can teach him a thing or two. I think he's faster than Roberts, just not as skilled at this. Cesar has learned to hit over the last couple years, so there's every reason to believe he's a good student. A 2nd best solution, of course, is that Tracy just stops sending him.
    2005-05-16 16:30:28
    97.   Steve
    No, the best solution would be if someone else stopped sending Izturis!
    2005-05-16 16:32:17
    98.   GoBears
    97: Good one, Steve. But if Tracy were to become the perfect manager, by making all the decisions we would have him make, then there'd be no need to replace him. I suppose he'd have to master the English language as well, but hey, you can't have it all....
    2005-05-16 18:31:39
    99.   Vishal
    "...el slumpo, slumpola"

    can we call it a slumpowksi?

    2005-05-16 23:30:40
    100.   bojangles
    Young Jon:

    Too early: analysis, concrete or no. Otherwise, 2-5, now 2-6, vs. decent teams, as rock-hard as it gets.
    Not too early: impressions. Old bones speak. Ask any Ute or Navajo...though Tracy
    teams compromise previous rep as dependable seer of Dodger seasons...
    Doug S. I know. Just playin' with the live ammo available...
    Be well, blue guys!

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