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Dodger Thoughts


Saturday, February 07, 2004


Very Idle Speculation

Lonnie Wheeler of the Cincinnati Post wants Frank McCourt to acquire Ken Griffey, Jr., saying that both teams would be doing each other a favor.

Of course, Wheeler also hypothetically plucks Dodger prospects like fruit at the Farmer's Market - if it were that easy, the Dodgers would have all kinds of outfielders to pursue. (Although, who knows - with Dan Evans' future in doubt, anything could happen.)

Anyway, among other things, Wheeler doesn't seem to realize who Walter Alston - an Ohio native - was.

"The other thing is that it hasn't really worked out for Junior since he returned to his hometown four years ago," Wheeler writes, "but you can fix that in a flash. All you have to do is give him his old number back. He was the best player in the game when he wore 24 for the Mariners. When he got here, though, Tony Perez didn't want to unretire the old double-dozen, and the problem is that Junior is just not a 30 kind of guy, no matter what his old man wore. Looking at your roster, I see that the Dodgers don't have a 24. Perfect. It's a marriage made in Tinseltown."

You'd think it would have occured to Wheeler to see if the Dodgers' 24 was retired as well.

Only If He Hits Righties Does He Hit Lefties

Ever have one of those moments where one of your lifelong assumptions is turned on its ear?

That happened to me Friday, at least on a baseball level.

I'm writing this still somewhat in a state of disbelief, but I wanted to share with you the discussion that's going on.

The inspiration for the discussion is ex-Dodger Eric Karros, whom Oakland signed to be a part-time first baseman. Rob Neyer wrote about the deal on The justification for the signing is that, although Karros' numbers against right-handed batters are poor, he hits lefties very well, and is ideal for a platoon.

The numbers are there.

Karros vs. LHP, 2001-2003: 207 AB, .904 OPS
Karros vs. RHP, 2001-2003: 991 AB, .672 OPS

So, here's the revolution.

The best way to look at how a right-handed major league batter will perform against left-handed pitchers ... is to make sure you give heavy emphasis to his stats against right-handed pitchers.

I am really going to try to give you the shorthand version of this. For one thing, a carpal-tunnel like fatigue is taking over my typing fingers, and for another, I'm not looking to convince you in one shot. I'm content to let this simmer for a while.

Studies performed by Bill James and other sabermaticians - MGL on Baseball Primer is another notable source - indicate that over time, the ratio between a right-handed batter's OPS against righty and lefty pitchers is consistently 1.09 to 1.

In a given season, or even in given seasons, there will be aberrations. Because most pitchers are right-handed, players get relatively few at-bats against southpaws, thus skewing the sample sizes.

But the stats guys are trying to assure us that overtime, right-handed batters will regress to this Platoon Golden Mean.

Thus, while there's no denying that Karros enjoyed a dramatically better performance against lefties in recent years, the odds are that his platoon gap will revert to normal in coming years. And since he has more at-bats against righties, his stats against righties - as poor as they are - represent the norm.

So, if you're picking a hitter to go against a left-handed pitcher, you'd be better off picking a player who had proven success against righties than a player like Karros.*

Finding this hard to accept? I did. It's intuitive, for me at least, to assume the human frailties involved in picking up a piece of wood and swinging at small ball coming very fast would affect different players differently. The arm that the opposing pitcher uses to throw that ball is clearly a variable, so certainly, some batters would respond better to left-handed pitchers than others.

My instincts battled what I was reading all afternoon, with the result being that I pumped the guys on Baseball Primer with questions. You can read more some of their responses in this thread, but let me boil them down for you.

No one wants to demean my intuition, but the numbers just don't back it up. Over time, a right-handed batter with a .500 OPS against righties will do 109 percent better against lefties (.545), and a right-handed batter with a 1.000 OPS against righties will do 109 percent better against lefties (1.090). The fact that the first guy might be coming off a year in which he posted a .800 OPS against lefties, and the second guy might have gone .700 against lefties - to borrow from Meatballs, it just doesn't matter! At least as far as predicting the future is concerned.

Digesting that? Here's something else: It doesn't work the same in reverse. If you want to predict the performance of a left-handed major league batter against right-handed pitching, you can rely a little more confidently on his personal platoon split - if you are looking at several seasons worth of at-bats. To make a prediction based on one to three seasons of at-bats, instead of multiplying the player's overall OPS by 1.09, multiply it by 1.20 - the league average platoon ratio for lefty batters.

Steve Treder's explanation on this matter was particularly helpful (and note that it applies to major leaguers only).

"The best explanation is this: there are many fewer LHP than RHP," Treder wrote on Baseball Primer. "So while all RHB must learn to hit RHP reasonably well even to make the majors, it is possible for a LHB who hits RHP well to make the majors even though he never masters hitting against LHP. The demographics of handedness allow many LHB to practically never face LHP."

"Here's another way to think of it: there are RHB who can't hit RHP, but they never make the majors," he added. "LHB who can't hit LHP often do make the majors. So RHB and LHB at the major league level aren't exactly comparable populations."

I really find this extraordinary. Think about the impact this revelation, if one accepts it, would have on your player personnel decisions - both as you plan a season, and as you plan for a pinch-hitter to face a southpaw in the bottom of the ninth. Where you might have picked the Karros-like hitter with the gaudy platoon split, you now have more reason to want with the guy whose past numbers against lefties are a little softer, but whose numbers overall are stronger.

Counter-arguments to this theory may well rise, and we should keep an eye on them. But when this kind of evidence is presented, even if it counters my way of thinking for 20 years or more, I have to take notice.

*MGL adds, in reading my first draft of this post:

"What you should encourage people to do if they want to predict how a RHB will perform versus a RHP or a LHB is to use his overall stats and do the appropriate adjustments (for a RHB who faces 65% righties and 35% lefties, multiply his overall OPS by 1.05 to predict his OPS v. lefties and divide by 1.03 to predict their OPS v. righties)."

Friday, February 06, 2004


Murph, Jill, Nick and 'The Earnest Guy'

I promise to getting back to talking about ballplayers soon. But I'm fascinated by Bob Timmermann's e-mail to me, revealing the complete lyrics to "It's a Beautiful Day for a Ballgame."

Let's go! Batter up!
We're taking the afternoon off!
It's a beautiful day for a ballgame
For a ballgame today!

The fans are out to get a ticket or two
From Walla Walla, Washington to Kalamazoo!

It's a beautiful day for a home run,
But even a triple's OK!

We're going to cheer
And boo
Or raise a hullabaloo
At the ballgame today!

Batter Up!
Strike one!
Hey, the game has just begun
And the home team's out to win!

There he swings!
At the pitcher's dipsy-doo
See his fastball pop right in!

This is it!
The fans are tearing up the chairs
But what the heck who cares?

It's a beautiful day for a ballgame
For a ballgame today!
If you and I are out of dollars and cents
Oh honey we can always share a little hole in the fence!

It's a beautiful day for the ladies,
So throw all your dishes away

We're going to cheer
And boo
Or raise a hullabaloo
At the ballgame today!
At the ballgame, the wonderful ballgame

Timmermann, who raised an e-mail eyebrow at the verse about the ladies and their dishes, also adds:

Some of those verses were never played to the best of my knowledge.

Back in the days when the Dodgers were on KFI, they switched around the verses. Or sometimes they would play more of the song if they had time to kill.

Back in the days when a player hit a home run and Vin would say, "For that home run, Union 76 is proud to donate two $20 books of Union Oil Auto Scrip to the Boys Club of Downey in the name of Willie Crawford ..."

And the only games televised were from San Francisco or Sunday afternoon road games.

Dang I'm old.

Not much older than me. Timmermann's reminiscences immediately brought to mind the Union (not Unocal) 76 commercials during Dodger telecasts of the 1970s. They took place at a fictional gas station. There was father figure Murph, ingenue Jill, trouble-finds-him Nick, and the "earnest guy," whose name Timmermann and I forget but who was played by future CHiPs hot-rodder Larry Wilcox.

You guys remember those? I do seem to remember seeing the Jill actress get some roles beyond pumping gas - if anyone knows her name, or Nick's, or Earnest Guy's character name, or has any other recollections of these commercials, feel free to share.

More Memories I Need to Share

Three voices I can hear in my head, clear as day.

My late paternal grandfather, saying, "How are ya, champ?"

My late maternal grandfather, teaching us French by saying, "Parlez-vous francais? Chevrolet cou-pay?"

Vin Scully, doing a Farmer John commercial voiceover and saying, "Braunschweiger."

Thursday, February 05, 2004


It's a Beautiful Day for a Dodger Thoughts Notebook
For a Dodger Thoughts Notebook Today

The readers are out to get an opinion or two,
From the San Fernando Valley to the Blue Bayou.

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

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

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

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

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

4) Fiore adds this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taking Notice

Writing that makes you stop and think - what more could you want?

Perhaps I should be worried that the new blogs are going to steal readers from me, but more important is my goal with this site, which is simply to pass along what I take to be worthwhile information. It was never a rule that I had to be the author - so may the best work win.

With that, I point you once more to The Bench Coach and his thoughtful piece on the passing of Negro League veteran Ernest Burke.

He's gone now, this simple man who played a game that did not honor him, who fought for a country that did not love him. Others will follow, as the living history of the Negro Leagues -- a glorious and embarrassing part of our past -- fades from memory in a string of small, cluttered stories on the AP wire.

"Will anyone notice?" the Coach asks in his conclusion about Burke's passing. Well, thanks to the Coach, I did.

Entering Rotoworld has published a print version 2004 preview issue, for which I have contributed a feature. Despite the Dodgerhood currently atop of my baseball writing resume, this feature is on Barry Bonds.

Gregg Rosenthal, late of Gregg's Baseball, Etc., is Senior Editor of the publication and worked yeoman hours writing and editing to help get it done. And, Aaron Gleeman of Aaron's Baseball Blog also dug in for the cause: His showcase piece is a Top 100 Prospects feature. Gleeman will also be writing a weekly column for

Parochial connections aside, the magazine looks packed with information for both the fantasy player and the general fan, so give it a look. You can order it online, or look for it at that quaint local establishment they call a newsstand.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004


New Dodger (and Angel) Blog

Rob McMillin, an almost daily correspondent with me during the process approving Frank McCourt's purchase of the Dodgers and creator of the McCourt Timeline, has made the logical move to start his own blog, 6-4-2 - covering both the Dodgers and the Angels. Now he won't have to rely on me, The Bench Coach or the Fan Forum to get his messages out.

For a quick introduction, click to his comparison of Dodger general manager Dan Evans with Oakland GM Billy Beane.

By the way, I assume that the "2" in 6-4-2 is for two teams, but I will say that a good 6-4-2 double play is one of the most exciting plays in baseball.

Update: Apparently, the 6-4-2 title was an accident, but I persuaded McMillin that it was a happy accident. Also, McMillin has a post in which he reports Angels general manager Bill Stoneman referring specifically to the Dodgers' pursuit of Vladimir Guerrero, providing "confirmation independent of the Times reports."

Joey Ballgame: Forgotten, But Not Gone

Got the following letter (unsigned):

To his credit, Frank McCourt has said all of the right things since he became the new owner of a once successful and storied franchise. The skepticism that I felt as a fan has been contained somewhat even as spring training approaches and we still have the same rally-killer extraordinaires preparing to dazzle us with another exciting season of first-pitch swinging, warning track flyballs we grew to love last season.

I read that the Dodger signed Jose "K" Hernandez. I am a bit confused and I am hoping that you may be able to shed some light on the subject - the subject being 2B. I do not understand why Jim Tracy hasn't given Joe Thurston a chance to prove himself? I know Cora is a whiz with the glove but he neutralizes his excellence in defense with his nonexistent bat. Whatever the Dodgers might lose by replacing Cora's glove with Thurston will be reimbursed with a legitimate hitter who makes contact and is never an easy out. Thurston had a great year in Vegas two years ago and it was a shock to everybody when Thurston did not make the club out of spring training. Did we miss something here? I don't think Dodger fans, including myself, will be able to tolerate a lineup that had Beltre, Cora, Izturis and the pitcher in succession. That is a guaranteed inning and a third of allowing the opposing pitcher to gather himself and gain momentum. Dave Roberts would be the only hitter who made an effort to work the pitcher. Every other starter did not feel obliged to do the same and we had 1-2-3 innings galore.

Paul Lo Duca was frustrating to watch. At one point, Lo Duca was on pace to match Jose Offerman's infamous 42 errors. Offerman was a shortstop and Lo Duca's a catcher. I think that the breakout season that Lo Duca had a couple years ago has now had a negative impact on him. Lo Duca apparently is thinking he is one adjustment away from becoming the offensive juggernaut he was a few years back. He hits absolutely weak grounders to the left side and barely has enough strength to send shallow pop flys into the outfield. With Karros and Grudzielanek gone last year, Lo Duca more than picked up the slack in hitting into inning ending double plays.

My response:

I'm sure Joe Thurston will get some at-bats in Spring Training 2004, but basically, the Dodgers wanted to hand him the job in Spring Training 2003 and he didn't hit. Okay - that was just Spring Training - an audition, not a full-fledged reflection of one's ability. I, for one, thought at the time that the Dodgers would have been better off keeping Thurston on the major league roster. In any case, Thurston then went and had a worse season in Las Vegas than he had in 2002. So it's hard to fault the Dodgers for being skeptical about him. Thurston had a .746 OPS in AAA - maybe Los Angeles is more his style than Sin City - certainly he deserves a chance to show what he can do at Vero Beach - but why should anyone assume that his OPS as a big-leaguer wouldn't drop to Cora's .625 level.

Thurston also only walked 31 times in Las Vegas - hardly reason to hope he would work the count like you correctly assert the Dodgers need.

Let's get rid of the Lo Duca-Offerman comparsion right at the start: Lo Duca made three throwing errors after the All-Star Game. Certainly, everyone wonders where his power went and whether it will ever come back, and yes, hitting into 41 double plays in the past two seasons hasn't helped any. There is a real incentive for the Dodgers to play David Ross more to see if they can get more production out of the catcher position. But, let's not forget that Lo Duca is a catcher, and above average among his brethren. It's not Lo Duca's job to carry the offense. It's the Dodgers' job to find offense to surround him. Catcher is probably the Dodgers second-strongest position on offense.

McCourt has said "all the right things?" I guess he has said some good things, but not all. And I'm still worried about what he hasn't said.

Seattle Blogs to Dodgers: 'Take Our Gillick, Please'

When the rumors of the Dodgers' interest in Pat Gillick as a potential general manager first appeared, I asked writers for two Seattle blogs to comment. I think what you'll find is, at a minimum, although Gillick has been in charge of winning ballclubs in other cities, as the Times points out, he may be no improvement over Dan Evans.

First, here's David Cameron from U.S.S. Mariner:

I've been Gillick's harshest critic the past few years, and wouldn't be "too thrilled" either if I were in your shoes. However, for what (former Dodger executive) Bill Bavasi has done to our club this offseason, I believe you guys deserve everything that comes your way, including fireballs from heaven incinerating Dodger Stadium.

Hmm - sounds promising. Cameron mercifully backpedaled from the last point, but U.S.S. Mariner definitely is not pro-Gillick. Here, in this post from November, was a list of their complaints:

1. He didn't manage his budget well, spending lots of money on bad players.
2. He was not creative, choosing only to buy talent through free agency and ignoring other paths of acquisition.
3. He had a strong penchant for veteran players, choosing age over talent.
4. He was ridiculously stubborn, refusing to give an inch when it could gain him a foot.

Meanwhile, Stephen at Mariner's Wheelhouse had this to tell me:

I'm probably not going to be as anti-Gillick as [U.S.S. Mariner] - though I certainly don't think hiring him would be a good idea. More like a mini-disaster than a mega-disaster.

The big problem is that Gillick is old school all the way, and is scornful of the newer ideas. There are some concepts for which he gets left in the dust - not understanding replacement value players and overvaluing veterans in their 30's. If hired, he will probably bring respectability. I think he's established that he has the "old school" game down as well as anyone, and right now that would be enough to compete.

The bigger issue is that he will greatly delay the needed transition to modern thinking. He is not open at all to SABR-type of thinking, and is openly scornful of Beane. (But that seems as much influenced by personality conflict - Gillick doesn't think Beane treats other people with proper respect and doesn't like statements that were attributed to Beane in Moneyball.) Gillick will not build or develop SABR skills in the organization, and may drive out capable people who might be there who do have those skills. So it will take that much longer for the organization to get properly oriented into a modern management mode, and the pit the team is in may be that much deeper after he leaves.

I can't see Gillick staying on the job for more than three years. Then he will want to hand the reins over to someone who thinks like him. If his ownership is not sophisticated baseball, Gillick will likely have a Svengali-type of hold on him, where they absolutely and implicitly trust and support him in any activities, particularly if he is also having on field success (and competing in the NL West he is likely to be successful, at least initially).

I think (Dodger assistant general manager) Kim Ng is an interesting variable in that. I don't know enough about her to assess whether she would complement Gilliick in those areas. ... (but) I can see where a Gillick-Ng tandem could work out well, and make a good transition into a full GM role when Gillick leaves in about three years. ...

On the positive side, he avoids the disaster signings, and will keep payroll flexibility. His biggest "disaster" was (Jeff) Cirillo, and, frankly, the Cirillo deal was pretty defensible at the time. Third base was an obvious position to upgrade the roster, and Cirillo looked to be a definite improvement over Bell. And Piniella had his fingers into trading for Cirillo, as well.

He will build and strengthen organizational scouting, as that is his strength. It may be at the expense of SABR skills though, instead of blending the skill sets.

Gillick would also not to do a Tejada or Vlad signing. He's a "spread the money around" type of guy. And frankly I agree if the money is wisely spent. Even if the big signing is a Barry Bonds, it leaves the team too vulnerable to an injury. SF, frankly, has been lucky that Bonds has been durable.

Hiring Gillick would be bad, but not an unmitigated disaster. There are a lot of worse hires that can be made, and that will be made.

This morning, The Bench Coach has more on the GM situation. By the way, Coach, Mrs. Dodger Thoughts and I enjoyed reliving all of SportsNight on DVD a year ago.

Although Beane can't help but intrigue, no one has yet proven to me that, after this crippled, truncated offseason, Evans doesn't deserve another year on the job. However, I realize this is beside the point now.

Make Sure It's Wood

"If the Dodgers can sign (Greg) Maddux for a reasonable price (which is unlikely considering that his agent is Scott Boras), they'd be in a position to deal another starter for a bat. Actually, for Darren Dreifort, they might literally be able to get a bat."

- from Dodger Blues


"Los Angeles collectively has given us one big bear hug," Frank McCourt tells

Look, Frank - over here! Over here!

Yeah, that's right - me! The one with arms folded. The one not participating in your collective bear hug.

Oh - and hey, look - there's people on my left, people on my right, people in front of me and people behind me. They're not hugging you either.

Frank, I know there are people who have responded positively to your opening comments, who think that your trashing of Dan Evans' position as Dodger general manager despite the stability and discipline he has brought to the team is welcome, who believe you when you say you're going to bring a championship to Los Angeles.

But you insult us when you make statements that deny that there has been any skepticism and discontent greeting your arrival.

Don't start your ownership tenure by implying that Dodger fans who are nervous about you don't matter. It's not a good way to go.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004


When I'm 64 I Can't Get No Satisfaction

"Are the Dodgers becoming MLB's version of the Clippers?" ESPN asks in ranking the Dodgers 64th among baseball, football, basketball and hockey teams in its Fan Satisfaction Ratings.

These rankings are more debate fodder than anything else: ranking the Dodger on-field talent 88th, one notch below the 4-12 Oakland Raiders, is like saying that I'm fatter than some bloated guy on Venus. Or thinner. However that works.

Anyway, until this year, you wouldn't have even considered the Dodger-Clipper question above. I'll even add a another: Which organization offers its fans a brighter future, the Dodgers or the Clippers?

In general, Los Angeles doesn't score too impressively on this chart. The Lakers are 31st, the Kings 48th and the Clippers 86th. On the other hand, the Angels are a robust sixth.

Brooklyn Battle II

The news of the New Jersey Nets' plans to move to Brooklyn is old, but not so old that I have to ignore it, especially when an insightful article comes along. And so, as Walter O'Malley and Robert Moses look on with great interest, the more things change ...

"Ten days ago Bruce Ratner announced he bought the Nets for $300 million with the idea of rehousing them in a massive complex in downtown Brooklyn," Brian Braiker writes for Newsweek.

"But locals in the abutting Prospect Heights and Fort Greene neighborhoods are promising to fight the plan, which could force between 350 and 900 Brooklynites (depending on whose count you believe) from their homes. They claim their ouster would be illegal and that the project would bring more traffic to already-overburdened streets, ruining the hardscrabble flavor unique to the ethnically and economically mixed area."

Disney Hall architect Frank Gehry has been hired for the project, which would also include office and residential spaces.

On these kinds of issues, there are three main areas for contention.

1) What are the merits of the project, functionally and aesthetically?
2) What is the compensation to those disrupted?
3) For the greater good, does the city have the right to forcibly remove people from property that they own?

The first two questions are negotiable, but the third is fundamental.

If the answer to No. 3 is "yes," then give the people a fair voice and everything should be resolvable.

On the other hand, if the answer to No. 3 is negative, then there's no point in dickering with Nos. 1 and 2.

I'm going to argue that yes, the city does have the right to disrupt the few to serve the many. After all, at some point, any violation of one's property can be addressed through compensation - no property is infinitely valuable. Just don't kill anyone for it.*

That might settle the philosophical question, leaving the admittedly difficult negotiations of the other questions. Perhaps those negotiations end in a stalemate, and the project does not happen. But there is no reason not to talk.

I've posted this entry because it relates back to the Dodgers' Brooklyn roots. When I apply it to what Frank McCourt might propose to do in Chavez Ravine, I get uneasy. In fact, I get queasy.

Let's just say that in the case of Dodger Stadium, a stalemate might be the result we live with.*

*What if tearing down Dodger Stadium gives me a heart attack?

Cart ................................ Horse

Don't get overwrought about the Dodgers' interest in Greg Maddux.

More than likely, it will go nowhere.

If it goes somewhere, despite the people who will be up in arms because the Dodgers upped their arms, it would simply facilitate a trade of another starting pitcher for a power hitter, which is what everyone wants anyway.

Of course, signing Vladimir Guerrero would have been much simpler, but what can you do?

Updated NL West Rosters

I didn't have much to change in this latest National League West roster update, but I do have these thoughts.

  • Dodger manager Jim Tracy said that the Dodgers' No. 5 starter slot is Edwin Jackson's to lose - and I tend to think he'll lose it, temporarily. Although Jackson had his famous birthday victory over Randy Johnson, he also walked eight batters in another start, and I predict the Dodgers will let him simmer in the minors for a little bit, allowing Wilson Alvarez to begin the season in the rotation. If Alvarez (or Jeff Weaver, or Kazuhisa Ishii, or Hideo Nomo) then were to falter, the Dodgers could then turn to Jackson, Darren Dreifort, or I suppose Jose Lima.

  • If the Dodgers get consistent starting pitching, they would be free to use pinch hitters more liberally to bat for Alex Cora and Cesar Izturis. Picture a home game with Izturis and Cora starting. Those two bat twice each, then are replaced in their third at-bat by Jeremy Giambi and Todd Hundley. Jolbert Cabrera and Joe Thurston take over, and then, if you want, you can pinch-hit again with Bubba Trammell and David Ross. I'm just thinking out loud, here - not arguing that Hundley's a great hitter or that Cabrera shouldn't be the starter in the first place. My general point is that Tracy should think about being aggressive with his bench earlier in games.

    Of course, upon a trade or free agent signing, I get to rewrite all of the above.

    National League West Rosters - Updated February 4
    PositionArizonaColoradoLos AngelesSan DiegoSan Francisco
    CHammockJohnsonLo DucaHernandezPierzynski
    LFL. GonzalezBurnitzEncarnacionKleskoBonds
    * pitcher

    Do you think non-roster invitee Jose Hernandez would beat out Joe Thurston? Maybe...

    Update (February 10): Jim McLennan of the Arizona Diamondbacks blog But It's a Dry Heat told me that he expects the team to carry 12 pitchers, with knuckleballer Steve Sparks a leading candidate. He also thinks that Felix Jose will use another of his nine baseball lives to make the team.

  • Sunday, February 01, 2004


    Cooperstown Gary

    It won't be as a third baseman and it won't be because he's so cuddly and lovable, but Gary Sheffield deserves to be a Hall of Famer, according to Rich Lederer at Rich's Weekend Baseball Beat.

    Cash vs. Class

    The Bench Coach draws a compelling analogy about new Dodger owner Frank McCourt's search for a general manager while keeping Dan Evans on the job:

    McCourt respects Evans like Charlie Sheen respected Heidi Fleiss. He got what he wanted or needed from Evans, and now he hopes to dump the GM on the first available street corner.

    It is true that Evans has acted in the Dodgers' best interests throughout his tenure as GM, a fact that seems lost on McCourt (as well as the Times' Ross Newhan and others in the LA media). ... What McCourt is probably doing is trying to get Evans to walk away from the last year of his contract by publicly embarrassing him rather than have to pay Evans to not work for the Dodgers.

    Somewhere in the ether, there's an argument that the $500,000 that the Dodgers would have to pay Evans this year if he doesn't quit is better re-allocated for the player budget, or the concession budget or, yes, even to pay off McCourt's loans to buy the team.

    The counterargument? If you have any talent at all, how eager are you going to be to come play or work for the Dodgers and McCourt. The man had the team for a day before humiliating his first employee - and in turn, himself.

    Where do I not sign?

    Let Vin Make the Call

    Over the years, we've probably heard Vin Scully talk about everything there is to talk about - except one thing.

    The next Vin Scully.

    In my mind, of course, there will be no replacing Vin. I'm well aware Vin has his detractors - people who tire of flubs he makes at the microphone, or who aren't drawn to his style. I accept that some feel that way.

    For me, there has never been, nor will there every be, anyone who gives me more joy in listening to the broadcast of a sporting event than Vin.

    Vin has been on my mind this weekend, ever since the announcement that all 162 Dodger games will be televised this season. Because there is no indication that Vinny's travel schedule will expand, this year we'll receive even more of our ongoing preview of life without Vinny.

    I think we've all wondered about Vin's successor from time to time. I've been in the Al Michaels camp for years; I also still enjoy Jon Miller and Bob Costas. Not everyone in the Dodger audience would agree, but it doesn't really matter; none of those three seem likely to come.

    Anyway, this weekend - for the first time, oddly - I started wondering whom Vin would recommend as his successor.

    It's a question, because of his nature, that Vin would probably never answer on the record, but I still wonder.

    I wonder if, among his unparalleled talents, if Vin has the ability to spot greatness in other broadcasters.

    It seems like he would, wouldn't he? Think of Roger Angell, the consummate (albeit East Coast myopicized) baseball writer for The New Yorker. Fiction Editor at the magazine for years, Angell is certainly capable of spotting writing talent. But could he find the Next to be the most literary of baseball scribes?

    I don't know (although I have a hunch about Ben McGrath over there). My gut tells me that one artist can pick out another artist. But I don't know. Is it possible that Vinny might not know exactly what makes him so great, or perhaps perceive greatness in another that isn't really there? That he would do as poorly picking a replacement for Dodger broadcasts as Magic Johnson coaching basketball?

    Is it possible that one foggy day, way back when, Vin recommended Rick Monday? Seems like heresy to think it.

    Certainly, I don't think any of Vin's remarkable poetry has been passed to Monday, tenured as a Dodger broadcaster without any spark of brilliance because he twice rescued flags, one American, one a 1981 National League pennant. Nor do I even think Vin has profoundly molded Ross Porter, likeable in his literal, earnest, Barney Fife kind of way, any more than Andy Taylor trained Barney to be his equal in Mayberry.

    When the season finally comes that Vin doesn't ask us to "pull up a chair," I don't expect a new No. 1 from outside the organization. More likely, Porter would become the No. 1 announcer, Monday the No. 2, and the Dodgers would search for a new No. 3. Or, perhaps Porter and Monday would take over the TV coverage, and the Dodgers would hire a 3-4 duo for radio.

    Here's what I think. Assuming Vin's fingerprints are not on Monday's hire, the Dodgers should let Vin choose his own successor. Have Vin listen to the tapes, have Vin meet the men or women applying for the job.

    It's simple, really. Let Monet pass on his own brush.

    Who knows, maybe Vin will spot some 22-year-old, fresh out of college, with crackling talent and an ethereal magic with words, who will bring true joy to Dodger fans for another 50 years.

    Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers and baseball. To respond or contribute -- or if you are having technical problems with this site -- please e-mail

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