Friday, September 26, 2003
1) Guillermo Mota is three strikeouts away from giving the Dodgers two bullpen teammates with 100.
2) If you remember, the initial report from Bob Nightengale regarding the Jim Tracy-Dan Evans feud said that among other things, Evans wanted Tracy to play Robin Ventura more, but that Tracy didn't want to.
It's interesting, amid the Times finally reporting today on the feud (with the principals saying that it was overblown), to note that out of the past eight games, Fred McGriff has started one game at first base, while Ventura has started six.
With apologies to Edmond Rostand...
THE VISCOUNT (with a conceited air): Sir, your team is ... hmm ... it is ... very disappointing!
CYRANO (gravely): Very!
THE VISCOUNT (laughing): Ha!
CYRANO (imperturbably): Is that all?
THE VISCOUNT: What do you mean?
CYRANO: Ah no! young blade! That was a trifle short!
You might have said at least a hundred things
By varying the tone ... like this, suppose, ...
Aggressive: "If I had such a team, I'd destroy it!"
Friendly: "Return to our league; you are welcome most anytime."
Descriptive: "Such roadkill ... such sweet roadkill ..."
Curious: "For scholars of the future, do tell us - how do you manage to watch others play in October, anon?"
Gracious: "Pray, thank you for your kindness to the little Marlins."
Truculent: "Your offense does indeed offend."
Considerate: "Do take this Brian Jordan bobblehead doll, as a proper remembrance."
Tender: "Ah, sweet March, with such promise, seems so long ago."
Pedantic: "Excuse me for saying, from this point of vantage, you might future-focus on on-base percentage."
Cavalier: "Ah, well, it's only a game, that you spend your whole lives pursuing."
Emphatic: " 'Tis no disappointment - you were never that good."
Dramatic: "Out. Out. OUT!"
Admiring: "Even with Monsieur Gagne, tout est perdu. Impressive."
Lyric: "Swing low, sweet batter. Coming for not to carry me home."
Simple: "You needed to manufacture runs."
Rustic: "How well you betray the lovely green fields."
Military: "We have found the weapons of minimal destruction!"
Practical: "This foundation, upon can one build,
Assuming one doth not stare deep and be illed,
And rend management contracts so carefully quilled
That might long run help, should one take a pill chilled."
--Such, my dear sir, is what you might have said,
Had you of wit or letters the least jot:
But, O most lamentable man!--of wit
You never had an atom, and of letters
You have three letters only!--they spell Ass!
And--had you had the necessary wit,
To serve me all the pleasantries I quote
Before this noble audience ... e'en so,
You would not have been let to utter one--
Nay, not the half or quarter of such jest!
I take them from myself all in good part,
But not from any other man that breathes!
(No, in my part, I didn't keep the meter. Include that in my apologies to Edmond.)
Thursday, September 25, 2003
Hmm. Coaching Can Help
Dan Evans, speaking to Robert Kuwada of the Orange County Register about Dodger pitching coach Jim Colburn:
"I think what Jim has done this year is really taken a really good work ethic and stepped it up even another notch," Evans said. "Just an example. We brought up Scott Mullen in Atlanta when we were really struggling. We were in a real delicate time of the year.
Tell me again why former hitting coach Jack Clark was powerless to help the Dodger offense?
"He stayed in on a Saturday night and waited for Mullen to get in and then went over the Braves hitters with him.
"And then the next day, Scott didn't get the win, but he got through three innings and to the point where we could win that game against Russ Ortiz.
"He took (Guillermo) Mota the day he first reported (to spring training), pitched him an inning and brought him down to he bullpen and worked on lengthening his stride, and a couple of weeks later all of a sudden he's throwing the ball a couple miles an hour harder.
"I think what he's done this year that's really impressed me is he's taken a number of different types of guys and meshed them together.
"We have a very diverse staff, not only from backgrounds, but languages and pitch selections and he's really monitored them and kept guys focused on what they need to do."
Worse Record, Better Organization
The letters keep coming ... this one from Mike B:
Been a Dodger fan since 1985; my chronological list of favorite players: Marshall (how sad is that?), Scioscia, Mondesi, Beltre, Lo Duca (former classmate of his at Glendale CC and Arizona State).
My quick background: Born in Redondo, lived toddler years in the valley, grew up in AZ but out of college I worked at papers in Santa Barbara Co. and Humboldt Co. Now living in Orlando, Fla., but I try to make it to the stadium at least once a year.
A few thoughts on this season:
1. Throw out Gagne's worst game of 2003 (4 ER in 1/3 inning against Atlanta), and his ERA is a neat 0.79. That's dominating, and I feel lucky that I saw him this year, even if it was a pedestrian 1 IP, 2 K save against the CRockies in late May.
2. That also was the game Dreifort struck out 7 in the first two innings, a feat I'll probably never see again.
3. Looking at the post-Lasorda, Fox-mayhem years, I think Dodger fans should feel fortunate that the team hasn't fallen through the floor. Wins per seaon, starting with 1997: 88-83-77-86-86-92-8? That's a decent run for a brain-dead organization. And don't give me any lip about having to hit bottom to successfully rebuild - Many teams hit bottom, then stay there.
4. Put me in the camp that Evans is doing well in coping with a lousy financial situation. Payroll flexibility is going to be a wonderful thing. The farm is getting better too.
5. Tracy is fine. SI made a dumb comment in the issue I received today about his job status being in jeopardy because he couldn't find an offense to support that wonderful pitching staff. People are failing to realize that the pitchers look so good because of a great defense (a Bill James belief), and those glovemen just can't hit. Beltre's an underrated defensive 3B, btw, and I'll bet Tracy stuck with him all
season for that reason.
6. So, what WILL it take for the Dodgers to get over the hump? (You compared it to a playground game of leapfrog.) A farm system that can produce some bats would be a start. Better health - what's LA's record if the Shawn Green of the last two seasons shows? Other than that, not much. This is a team that's competed down to the final week the last two seasons, and hasn't had a losing season since 1999. Although the W-L this season will drop off from '02, this is an organization that's improving.
Facts and Feelings
I appreciate that Ross Newhan apologized today in the Times for his cheapest shot at Odalis Perez last week...
Jolbert Cabrera got his 30th double last night, third on the Dodgers, in his 331st at-bat. He has had 16 doubles since his last home run, on July 12 at Colorado. Cabrera's last homer at normal altitude came May 30...
Cabrera and Alex Cora have more doubles than walks. On a smaller scale, so do Larry Barnes, Wilkin Ruan and Koyie Hill...
Dave Roberts almost has fewer doubles (six) than triples (five)...
I found it interesting that on the same day that Bill Plaschke wrote in the Times that the Dodgers have over-prioritized team chemistry (vis-a-vis Gary Sheffield), USA Today Sports Weekly came to my house and ranked the Dodger team chemistry last among the final 13 playoff contenders. The (insufficient) explanation: "The Dodgers have issues." ...
I am so sad that Rickey's career might end with surgery.
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Without neglecting or downplaying what Dan Evans has brought to the Dodgers as a general manager, Chris makes by far the best arguments I've seen for letting him go.
Dodger Thoughts Solicitation for Mail Continues to Pay Off in Lengthy Dodger Thoughts Content
Chris Hamilton writes:
Re: Tracy vs. Evans
Editor's note: this is the de facto version of a series of transactions. Having to pay $6 million to Todd Hundley next year is really going to hurt. $6 million would fill at least one and probably 2 lineup holes this off-season. (Full disclosure: I was optimistic about this deal up until the Dodgers signed McGriff.)
I don’t envy the jobs that Jim Tracy and Evans have had to do the last 3 years or so. They have both had to deal with restraints created outside their control and unrealistic expectations. Tracy might be the most patient man in all of baseball and even he seems ready to snap these days. Unfortunately, life isn’t fair and they both knew what they were taking on when they accepted the job.
So where do the Dodgers go from here? Let’s look at the pros and cons for Evans:
1) Evans has done a solid job rebuilding the farm system. It would have been easy for Dan to try and save his own skin and trade the farm for Giles, but he didn’t.
2) Evans hasn’t signed any dangerous long term contracts. Not that he had much choice in the matter.
3) Evans hasn’t been an embarrassment to organization like previous General Manager Kevin Malone. He has towed the company line almost to a fault.
4) Evans has put together an amazing collection of pitchers that take advantage of one of the Dodgers biggest assets - Dodger Stadium.
1) Evans hasn’t been very creative and when he has tried to be creative he has failed. Dan doesn’t have much of a track record, but his one big deal, Karros for McGriff, has been a disaster.
2) Evans (or the people he has hired) loves tools. It has worked well enough for the pitching, but the hitting is a mess. By pretty much any standard the Dodgers are terrible hitters. It is questionable whether or not Evans even knows what makes a good hitter. This is a big problem in our minor league system.
3) Evans might get some undue credit for the farm system. Other than Loney and Miller, our other top prospects were not signed/drafted by Evans. Hanrahan and Jackson were both drafted by Malone and Gutierrez was signed in 2001 from Venezuela. Drafting HS players has turned out ok, but it remains to be seen whether or not the Dodgers can succeed long term drafting high schoolers.
4) Evans doesn’t appear to have a good relationship with other GMs. The only way the Dodgers ever close a deal is to pay a premium or deal with someone who is desperate. Also, others have complained that Evans doesn’t return phone calls. Because of the nature of MLB it is critical that a GM can work well with his peers.
In my opinion, it is time for the Dodgers to thank Evans for his hard work and part ways. There is reason for optimism in the future and I think it makes sense to make a clean break with the past. The decision becomes easier when you realize that Billy Beane could probably be enticed to take the job. Beane has a strong track record and is strong in every area where Evans is weak. If the Dodgers don’t at least try I will be very disappointed.
I think Tracy is a good manager and I don’t think that anyone else could have gotten more wins out of this group the last few years. But if the Dodgers bring in a new GM, they should let the new GM make a decision on the manager. It is critical that everyone is on the same page.
Judging by Gammons' track record, I’ll bet he was two busy listening to American HI-FI (or whatever is his new pop punk flavor of the week) to give his column a good once over for errors.
The Dodgers are going to trade one of their starters for a bat and Odalis looks like the odd man out. Hopefully, the Dodgers trade him to the AL because he isn’t the type of guy I would want to be facing for the next 10 years.
In a bit of a coutnerpoint to the long-term optimism found on this side, Rick Todd writes:
I think many of us are a little too positive on the future of the Dodgers. I'm not sure about you specifically, but the John of John's Dodger Blog and others that I've seen seem to think that the Dodgers chances will be regained with new ownership. The influence of FOX will still be felt. The best-case scenario I can think of with the Dodgers is they are sold immediately after the regular season, Evans remains GM, or Beane becomes GM after the A's do whatever they will do in the playoffs. I find this
Here was my e-mail reply to Rick:
scenario unlikely. I think more realistically, the Dodgers will not be sold in the off season, or at least not until late in the off season, which will prevent us from getting any big free agent position players, which we can afford and desperately need.
On top of that, even if Beane, whose name has been rumored for the job, were to take over, it's likely that his new style of leadership, and inevitable shakeup of the scouting and front office teams, will slow down any chances a quick and easy takeover.
If you look at our acquisitions, and the crap that Evans has had to put up with, since FOX announced that the Dodgers would be put up for sale, Evans has made ZERO multi-year free agent acquisitions. The last one he made was Shuey, in the middle of the 02 season. This is important because, no free agent wants to sign a one-year contract. They want stability. Unless they're old and broken (McGriff and Henderson), a good
free agent wants nothing to do with a one-year contract. All the trade and free agent acquistions this year have been to players who will retire after this season (Ventura), or be at best bench players next year (Henderson, McGriff, Burnitz). I guess the rub of this tale is, expect more of the same from the Dodgers next season, unless the team is sold
post-haste. And with the Glazer family running into trouble from Tagliabue and NFL, and FOX refusing to hand over cable TV rights, no one is chomping at the bit for this team. Not good.
Thanks for your letter. I think you make some good points - particularly that the Dodger sale may take a lot longer than people realize, or at least be a lot more complicated even after a buyer is chosen.
I'm not sure I agree with you about the one-year free agent in this day and age - look at Ivan Rodriguez, for example. I would be willing to say that Rodriguez is an exception to the rule you state, but perhaps not the only one.
My reasons for being positive about the Dodger future don't have much to do with potential new ownership - in fact, I might be as pessimistic as you on that front. What makes me optimistic is that at a minimum, some discipline has been instilled in the organization after a chaotic stretch under Malone. Yes, Evans doesn't always make the right decision, and I can concede perhaps better GMs can be found. But only one team in baseball has been able to buy its way out of its problems, and that team plays in the Bronx. I think that setting a spending limit has forced the Dodgers, in a sense, to go back to school, to learn what works and what doesn't. (And yes, they are clearly still learning.) The payoff isn't immediate, but it could be a long-term one. If you don't build a winning baseball team with one-year free agents, you certainly don't build it with one-year plans.
That leaves me cautiously optimistic about the team. Very cautiously. I stated saying several years ago that the Dodgers could become the 21st century version of the Cubs - 100 years without a title - if they're not careful. They still need to be careful.
Rick wrote back saying that Rodriguez was a good exception but perhaps more unique than I think he is. In any case, again, a reader has come in with some good points to be made.
Finally, in response to my query Tuesday about whether the lack of negative letters to this site indicated that I was merely preaching to the converted, Dan Reines writes:
Jon, is that your intent? To convert minds?
I wrote Dan back to say that his point was well taken. My primary goal is to communicate - I wasn't supposed to worry what the reader does with that information. So after these few days of self-examination, I'm just gonna get back to going about my business, and let you guys react however you want. But thanks for indulging me to this point.
I, for one, enjoy reading your blog more than any other Dodger site -- actually, more than any other sports site. It's smart and insightful, and it serves as a sort of reference point for me when it comes to this team. But I'm not sure how or why I should be "converting," though I grant that perhaps it's not me you're aiming to win over.
In any case, I wouldn't be disappointed by flat numbers -- leave that to the boys at Fox. If you want hits, start raving about the team like Michael Savage or someone. I'm sure you'll get plenty of visitors. I won't be one of 'em, but whatever.
Seriously, Jon. I think you make a mistake in interpreting the silence of your audience as disapproval or disinterest.
The Unmagic Number
The Dodgers are 17-13 when they allow two runs in a game - a .567 winning percentage. Sounds decent, right?
It's the second-worst mark in baseball.
Worst is Arizona, which is 9-9 when it allows two runs in a game.
The rest of baseball is 424-108 wheh allowing two runs in a game - a .797 winning percentage.
Two teams are undefeated in this area: Kansas City (15-0) and San Diego (10-0). In a slightly different category, the last-place Padres are 32-0 when they allow two runs or less. When allowing three runs or more, San Diego is 30-94 (.242)
Speaking of Post-All Star Greatness
Did you know that Eric Gagne allowed three runs in the All-Star Game - and only one run since?
Gagne's post-All Star record: 35 innings, 13 hits, 1 run, 8 walks, 59 strikeouts, 0.26 ERA.
Aaron Gleeman brings his usual attention to detail in analyzing the National League Cy Young race today.
Out of nowhere - which I guess is appropriate - Wilson Alvarez has hurled himself into National League Comeback Player of the Year candidacy.
Who's your pick?
Wilson Alvarez, 2002: 23 games, 10 starts, 75 innings, 36 walks, 56 strikeouts, 5.28 ERA
Wilson Alvarez, 2003: 19 games, 10 starts, 86 innings, 20 walks, 76 strikeouts, 1.99 ERA
Kevin Brown, 2002: 17 games, 10 starts, 63 2/3 innings, 23 walks, 58 strikeouts, 4.81 ERA
Kevin Brown, 2003: 31 games, 31 starts, 204 innings, 52 walks, 182 strikeouts, 2.43 ERA
Okay, it's still Brown - and by the way, there are no other candidates outside of these two. But Alvarez has been incredible. He continues to lead the league in post-All Star Game ERA, at 1.17.
John Wiebe at John's Dodger Blog e-mailed me overnight with this:
Wilson Alvarez : 2003 :: Terry Adams : 2001
I'm writing this before John's Wednesday morning post, but with that caveat, I definitely agree about the surprise part, but I'm not sure about the fluke part. Why?
Wilson's going to land another multi-year deal from somebody this off-season. I just hope it's not from L.A.
Seriously, this has got to be the biggest surprise since Lo Duca's 2001 season, but it can't be anything more than a fluke. Still, as I'm writing on my site today, the vicissitudes of good fortune have only swung our way when it is least convenient.
Hideo Nomo's ERA, year-by-year
2002: 3.39 (age 33)
Wilson Alvarez's ERA, year-by-year
2003: 1.99 (age 33)
Both pitchers went through a dead-arm period. Both pitchers are now operating in perhaps the best pitching environment in baseball.
No, I wouldn't expect Alvarez to return in 2004 with a sub-2.00 ERA. And few pitchers in this day and age deserve a contract beyond two or three years.
I'm no fan of bidding wars, but I'd certainly want to sign Alvarez for two years if the price were right. He's a year and a half younger than Nomo, his strikeout rate is at a career-high 7.95 per nine innings, and he has much fewer innings under his wide belt in the past four seasons.
As for Terry Adams, he was a career reliever who was converted (forced by circumstance) into being a starter. I don't know that he's as valid a choice for comparison.
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
Hurts All Over
Will Carroll, who in addition to his incredible work on Baseball Prospectus has just started his own blog, has two Dodger notes today at BP:
With Paul Lo Duca spazzing out when Jim Tracy tells the truth (strained chest muscle), the stories about friction between Tracy and (fill in the blank) are getting louder and more frequent. Tracy will be one of the "won, but still on the hot seat" managers after the season, along with Jerry Manuel, Tony LaRussa, Bob Melvin, and, to some extent, Jack McKeon.
Carroll puts an interesting twist on the spreading rumors of friction in the Dodger clubhouse. Instead of Jim Tracy-Dan Evans, it's Jim Tracy-pick one.
The Dodgers also will pay for another surgery for Darren Dreifort. Honestly, he's a medical marvel. The fact that he could have so much go wrong and still factor into anyone's plans is amazing. Just 10 years ago, he'd probably have three separate conditions that would end his career. Now, Dreifort is headed for surgery to repair his acetabular (hip) labrum in Boston. Reports have him ready for spring training, believe it or not.
I've said before that Tracy seems like a brittle guy, from his dealings with the media alone, so it's not that I find the reports of general friction hard to believe. The real question is, is this friction incurable?
I've worked in situations where relationships were so bad that someone had to go, but I am still not convinced that this situation is so extreme.
And am I the only one, after reading about his displeasure with Perez and Tracy this season, that is starting to think that it's Lo Duca who is a little too sensitive?
John Wiebe has an amusing story about pursuing a story of a possible offseason trade of Paul Lo Duca.
I don't want to give away the punchline, but suffice it to say, his girlfriend may be correct. Then again, who knows?
My Undisgusted, Unappalled Readership
Disappointed or disgusted by the Dodger finish this season? Two responses to this query of mine Monday came in:
The first, from Bill Simms:
I am, like you, disappointed but not disgusted. The team has teased us this year, like the last two, but I had modest expectations going in. It's been far more entertaining than some years past and I'd rather been in it until the last week, than done in August. While the win total will not increase from last year, at least it's second and not third place.
The second, from Terry Austin:
There is absolutely long term hope. The budget improves over the next three years and I'm pretty confident that if Evans is still in charge, the Dodgers will be the best in the division when the Brown/Dreifort deals come off the books. It will be a shame if Evans loses his job because he made the best (long term) decision to keep the top prospects. While I question the preponderance of high school draftees, the commitment to developing through the system and planning for the long term is something we haven't seen since that fateful night in 1987 when the downfall of the Dodgers started.
All the mistakes will be forgiven if they pull off the miracle.
On another topic, the reported Tracy/Evans friction is disappointing. I like both of them, but I would choose Evans if it came to one or the other. I can see anyone blaming Tracy for the poor offense, because he seems to choose defense over offense almost exclusively when he has the choice (having both Cora and Izturis in the lineup is a huge handicap). But, I don't think that you can criticize the lack of run scoring without balancing it with the tremendous run prevention. The team ERA isn't all because of the pitching. I hope the new ownership keeps the management in place (if they can get along). I'd rather bring in a new manager if the relationship is really strained. The two need to be working together.
Throughout this first full year of Dodger Thoughts, I have received sporadic letters. The quality of discussion has been high, and the quality of manners in each and every one has been impeccable and really gratifying. For both of these things, I truly, truly thank you.
Seems the only place to get a balanced opinion on the Dodgers these days is your blog. And I thank you. I’m looking forward to your coverage of the hot-stove league.
I, “two,” am puzzled as to the alleged reports of friction between Tracy and Evans. Perhaps Gammons meant that upon the filing of his column there were now “two” reports about this alleged friction (Nightengale’s and Gammons’). Who knows?
Regardless, since I don’t work for the LA Times, I guess I’m lacking any sort of hidden agenda or burning desire to see Evans and Tracy fired. Tracy again managed a mediocre team to the brink of playoff qualification. He didn’t have the horses, as they say. The man whose job it is to get the horses didn’t have the resources to do so because some of the studs already in the barn are grossly overpaid. This still goes back to Kevin Malone, and it will continue to do so until the Brown, Dreifort and (to a lesser extent) Green contracts are off the books (after the 2037 season, I believe). Evans and Tracy are still playing the crappy hands they were dealt. (If you’re scoring at home, that’s one paragraph with “two” many clichéd metaphors – horses and cards. And don’t forget about “scoring at home.”)
Couldn’t agree more on Odalis Perez. This guy was put in a no-win situation (and I’m not talking about the outcome of last night’s game). If he skipped another start, he was likely to replace Carlos as the least popular Perez in Dodger history. (Yorkis wasn’t around long enough to qualify.) So he would have started last night’s game even if he’d just returned from an appendectomy in the Dominican Republic. While I’m puzzled by the treatment he received from Tracy, I’m left to wonder if anyone really thinks this is part of some grand conspiracy theory to make it easier to trade Perez this offseason. The Dodgers want to use him as bait, so they sacrifice their wildcard hopes while simultaneously driving down his trade value? It must be true – I’m hearing “two” many reports on this one…
Yes, there are many positives from this season that point to a solid 2004 campaign if – IF – the offense is buttressed. And yes, the Green-Cora-LoDuca play was a highlight. The question now is how many of those guys will be in the position to make a similar play next year? At this point, only Lo Duca’s position seems secure. The Green-to-first campaign has already begun anew, and even though Cora has gotten some nice PR in the Gold Glove race, the Dodgers most certainly will make a run at replacing him next year. (Matsui? Castillo? Larkin? Alomar? Walker?)
Normally, when I run letters on this site, I edit out the praise of Dodger Thoughts and publish only the actual Dodger thoughts, if you get the idea. I figure that no one but me really needs to have my ego stroked. (Make no mistake, each stroke is wonderful.)
Today, I left in Terry's praise, for a reason. I did not receive any "disgusted" e-mails overnight - and in fact, with the notable exception of my loyal reader, "BigCPA," almost every letter I have received this year has agreed in large part with my position. And although BigCPA and I have disagreed on how important it is to have a balanced team, our debate has been completely collegial.
At the same time, despite increased exposure throughout the year on different websites, and a positive review in the Times (hopefully not the last time the paper would pay kindness or even attention to me, despite my recurring criticism of its baseball coverage this summer), my readership has not increased by any significant measure.
I'm coming to think that on Dodger Thoughts, I am simply preaching to the converted - and not converting. I get the feeling that when other members of the Dodger faithful come across this site, they do a little read, objectively dismiss me as an amateur quack, and move on with their lives. Just like I do with callers on talk radio. Completely fair, but certainly I'd like to see these readers stick around, even if they don't agree with me.
So anyway, I'm going to ask again, if you disgusted readers are out there, write me. I'm all for having my views endorsed and my insecurities soothed, but there's a reason they call healthy debate, well, "healthy debate."
Who's the Dodger Dog Now?
- Jason Reid, Los Angeles Times
So Odalis Perez wasn't dogging it after all. Big shock.
The small mea culpa from Reid, addressing the criticism laced upon Perez for missing his September 17 start with a finger injury, will probably have to suffice as far as the Times is concerned, although I'm tickled with curiosity about how Bill Plaschke, who wrote the most inflammatory column questioning Perez' dedication, would dance around the subject, following a hopeless inning by the injured Perez that effectively ended the Dodger season Monday.
Oh, but that's right. Unlike Perez, Plaschke can duck out from this challenging assignment and not be criticized by anyone, except a guy with a blog whose readership is in the hundreds.
To be fair to Plaschke, I don't get the sense he made up his column out of thin air. Multiple reports indicate that there was the ever-popular "grumbling" among Perez' teammates, so it sounds like Plaschke used that noise as a launching pad for his column.
Of course, Plaschke could have lent a voice of reason to the proceedings - saying that maybe a guy like Perez, who missed the entire 2000 season with Tommy John surgery but fought his way through rehab and made it all the way back, actually has every appearance of being a dedicated player.
But why bother when there's a tirade to be had? I should know - I'm writing my own now.
Another question: Was there only grumbling about Perez, or was there a contingent of teammates ready to come to Perez' defense - only to be ignored. Perhaps the primary language of this contingent, like Perez, is Spanish. This was a key element in the Ismael Valdes-Eric Karros feud of several years ago, during which the Times ran one pro-Karros story after another, filled with interviews of Karros' white teammates and nary a word from a Latin player.
**Let me be perfectly clear here. I'm not throwing out the racism card. I'm throwing out the language card. I'm saying that the reporters tend to pursue interviews with the people who give them the best quotes. Not suprisingly, those players tend to speak the same language as the reporter. It strikes me that the same thing may well be happening with the Perez controversy.**
So now what? With the Dodgers six days from the end of their season, does this even matter?
Check out Rich Hammond in the Daily News today:
It seems that the recent controversy over Odalis Perez skipping a start because of a chipped fingernail might have made something of an impact in the Dodgers' clubhouse.
Vomiting isn't the end of the world for a baseball player. However, creating a climate where players are afraid to be candid about their physical condition, for fear of their manhood being questioned, is tremendously dangerous.
Pitching coach Jim Colborn said after Sunday's game that Kazuhisa Ishii had a severe headache and vomited during the game, but apparently neither Colborn nor manager Jim Tracy knew about his ailments until afterward. Ishii gave up five runs in three-plus innings, but the Dodgers beat San Francisco 7-6.
"I don't know a thing about it, I only read about it on the injury report," Colborn said before Monday's game, referring to the post-game sheet given to coaches, off of which Colborn informed reporters of Ishii's ailment.
Ishii did not answer questions about his illness after Sunday's game and refused an interview request Monday. If nothing else, the timing is interesting, given the negative reaction Perez received from teammates when he said he didn't want to pitch last week in part because he didn't want to embarrass himself.
Do you want 20-year-old Edwin Jackson, knowing that the Dodgers may want him to pitch Saturday, to conceal soreness in his shoulder? Jackson's a gamer; we can see that. It needs to be made perfectly clear that he should tell the Dodgers if he has so much as achy facial hair. Otherwise, you might be looking at the next Darren Dreifort.
Decisions need to be made on the facts, not on emotion and speculation. And this policy needs to be applied to everyone - the tempermental players as well as the popular and easy-going ones.
Colborn said he wasn't concerned about Ishii's nondisclosure, and Ishii ran before Monday's game and appeared to be in good health. Still, Colborn said he didn't immediately see anything wrong with Ishii's mechanics Sunday and called the start "unusual."
Are you sure, Jim? You'd better be.
"But he would tell me if he thought something was affecting his pitching," Colborn added. "All of (the pitchers) do that."
Monday, September 22, 2003
On a Wing and a Met
Since August 23, the New York Mets are:
2-0 vs. Los Angeles
5-1 vs. Atlanta
1-19 vs. Everyone Else
This is the team the Dodgers need to beat Florida this weekend.
Another goal of the Dodgers - a team ERA below 3.00 - has almost become a lost cause thanks to the recent Giants series. San Francisco scored 15 earned runs in the three games, lifting the Dodger ERA to 3.05.
If the Dodgers play 72 more innings in their final eight games this season, they must hold the opposition to 15 earned runs to go below the 3.00 mark. A season-ending total of 486 runs allowed would leave the team with an ERA of 2.9945.
A 16th earned run allowed - meaning a 2.00 ERA over their final eight games, would put the Dodger season ERA at 3.0007.
Behind, Behind, Behind
Trying to play catchup this morning. I worked the sucessful all-night Thursday-Friday party at the museum (it was quite the scene at 3 a.m., man.) and have been off-kilter ever since...
The Shawn Green-Alex Cora-Paul Lo Duca relay to save Eric Gagne and the Dodgers on Thursday is the play of the year for me. I nearly threw my shoulder out in a Tiger Woods fist pump after it happened. Too bad it didn't kick off a weekend surge...
Philadelphia and Florida left the door open with 1-2 weekends, but the Dodgers banged their heads against it anyway. They may be only two games back in the loss column - and with wins by the Dodgers and Braves tonight, it might only be one - but with the remaining schedule, a postseason appearance really becomes a miracle now...
Is everyone out there disgusted and appalled? I'm disappointed, but not disgusted. I think of myself as a cynical guy, but am I the only one who thinks there is long-term hope if they take the positives out of this season? I'm willing to air opposing views...
Will all be forgiven if the miracle occurs? If you're writing, answer that one too...
Odalis Perez is scheduled to return tonight after a week of attacks on his character. If he does well, the Times will probably attack him even more for missing his start last week. The paper's writers refuse to entertain the possibility that it might have been a prudent decision. I'm still amazed by the idea that it was better for Perez to gut out a poor performance rather than let the Dodger who had the best chance of pitching well pitch...
Of course, with teammates and managers like the Dodgers and Jim Tracy, who needs the press to add to Perez' angst? Tracy told Ken Gurnick at MLB.com, "There have been a lot of words thrown around the past few days, let's see some action," said Tracy. "He has an opportunity to make a statement for himself without a lot of explanation. Actions speak very loudly, and in a lot of cases, a lot louder than words." I can't for the life of me figure out what the statement is going to be...
Tracy made the correct decision benching Paul Lo Duca on Saturday, whatever Lo Duca's physical condition was. Right now, David Ross may be the better hitter, especially considering Ross' power...
Tracy does many things well, and some things not so well. For some people, this is an extraordinarly difficult concept...
Clay Landon passes along Peter Gammons' notebook item from ESPN.com that "there are just two many reports of friction between Jim Tracy and Dan Evans to dismiss them." Was the use of the word "two" a typo, or a subliminal indication that two reports would be too many? We're still waiting for the first person to go on the record with this. I think it's to the point where someone can do a full story on the rumors themselves and their implications for the future of the team, instead of just passing it along as "heard on the street" material...
In our 22nd year with season tickets, we finally won on Fan Appreciation Day - "we" being my brother, since I did not attend the game. He walked away with a $50 gift certificate to Albertson's and a promisory note (literally) for a Farmer John ham. My timing was indicative of a season in which the Dodgers played .500 ball with me in attendance and .593 ball without me. It was my worst season since 1999...
I can't talk about the parking lot shooting. I can't think of anything intelligent to say. I want to say that people should try to be nice to each other, but maybe that isn't intelligent. At Saturday's game, a guy stood up in front of us, looking toward the stands. After a couple of minutes, my Dad said, "Excuse me..." and gestured calmly so that the guy might duck or sit down. The guy responded with a sarcastic remark designed to make my Dad the villain in the situation. In society today, it seems like you often have only two choices: if you don't suffer in silence, you put yourself at risk. The stadium shooting is newsworthy for where it happened, or why it happened, but it is nothing, nothing new...