Fire Jim Tracy

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

OK, It's Semi-Official

Well, our long national nightmare is not quite over. The web-site design is a bit plain for my taste right now, but I'm told we can be functional. Therefore, we officially announce our move over to www.firejimtracy.com effectively immediately. We hope you will follow us over there. Jerry the Procrastination King still hasn't finished Law School, but he promises to rejoin us soon. Pardon the dust, as the expression goes, but all new updates will go up over there now. Frankly, I watched the Angel game today, couldn't believe my eyes, and had nowhere to post it. Very frustrating.

So we here we go.

That's www.firejimtracy.com

Please govern yourselves accordingly.

Thanks,

Steve

Tonight's Game

I'll take two seconds from furiously trying to figure out this blogging stuff to give a quick FJT review of tonight's game. Weaver is not the pitcher he was last year. Struck out seven -- yeah, four were Cristian Guzman and the pitcher. Not terribly impressed. He did avoid walking anyone, but all in all, a fair game but nothing to write home about. Tracy finally got a pitching change right, pulling Weaver as soon as he walked the first batter in the seventh, though his decision was complicated by Duaner Sanchez pitching like he missed Buddy Carlyle. But a combination of Cristian Guzman and Kelly Wunsch got us out of the jam. Well done.

Then Tracy went and almost threw it all away in the eighth, as Carrara put two men on with two men out, then went deep into the count with Brian Schneider. As Carrara labored mightily, and the count went full, the dugout showed Jim Colborn rushing to the phone. I mean, if you're going to the phone at that point...you're too late. Apparently D.J. Houlton had been warming "earlier" according to Vin Scully, so everything was under control. Schneider swung at an off-speed pitch up around his eyes on 3-2 and killed the rally, saving Tracy in the process.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Ignore That Man Behind The Curtain

Stay here, until I tell you to go there. Because there's nothing there yet but a title and a dream.

Tonight's Game

All bricks, projectile weapons, and shotguns have been removed from my home. I can now safely watch the game. If not sanely.

The Unmentionables

Good discussion about Simers' latest twaddle here and here. (I won't link to Simers. FJT policy. Go find it yourself). Nothing terribly difficult about this issue. Start with the major premise that Plaschke and Simers are wrong about everything. Add the minor premise that Jason Phillips did not join the Debate Team in High School. Easy.

Throw The Newspaper At Them

Well, of course, if Mike Scioscia says it, then...

Setting the Record Straight

What few facts are coming out regarding the Palmdale Little League murder so far appear to render Bill Plaschke's column about it completely irrelevant. Not that Plaschke's irrelevance is any surprise. But this story appears to be another in a string of senseless, random, violent acts by teenagers -- certainly a societal problem, likely not caused by Little League. A baseball bat is, unsurprisingly, the most likely and easily obtained weapon at a Little League Field in April. And whatever "teasing" occurred would be in the context of just having played...baseball, as opposed to roller hockey or water polo or riding horses or playing "Halo." Here at FJT, we like to put the responsibility where it belongs, and not on the great amorphous "Little League Monster."

Why Even Ask?

Look at that, the best managers are the guys with the best records in their leagues! Wow. Insightful analysis. Really.

"He Was Still Throwing The Ball Great"

Apparently, Jim Tracy has already figured out what to put on the headstone at the end of the season. If Erickson was still throwing the ball great, how do you throw the ball badly?

UPDATE: I'll take this opportunity to again repeat that Steve Henson is the only writer at the Times with a clue. Erickson was lucky through the first six, he was obviously tiring, he was obviously wild and hanging pitches, and rather than take the cheap way out (like Plaschke would have) and obsess over Choi's defense in the eighth or Buddy Carlyle (which got their due mention -- they didn't help), he focused on the key issue -- Tracy put us in a hole.

Truer Words...

Danny Graves after the Reds' meltdown last night:

"It's frustrating, but what's even more frustrating is hearing the fans boo you in your own ballpark,'' Graves said. ``We're out there trying the best we can. That's not the first time it's happened, and as long as I'll be playing, it won't be the last.''

You're not kidding.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Speechless

You know, it seems like so long ago that I was contemplating a name change. Jerry had always wanted one. I could never drink the Tracy Kool-Aid, but given the tumultuous off-season and the brain-dead Times, I was amenable to something different. A little less...controversial.

Those times seem very long ago. I do not know how to calculate VORM (Value Over Replacement Manager). But it seems that a manager should be at least helpful to his team's chances of winning, and not provide the other team with two or three run handicaps on a regular basis.

Scott Erickson pitched six shutout innings in 65 pitches. That's good. But there's something about that. Oh yeah. It's Scott Erickson. On a 3-1 count, the leadoff hitter in the seventh singled to center. Time for concern? Certainly not. Time for tea in the dugout. The next batter, Vinny Castilla, walks on five pitches, the fifth pitch being a particularly ugly toss at Castilla's head.

Now here's the dirty little secret. Erickson hadn't really been throwing that well all night. 85 pitches total -- 45 strikes, 40 balls. He kept the ball low, getting a lot of groundouts, but of course, the first thing that happens when you get tired is...

Back to the story. Taking it as gospel that Tracy is going to now walk as slowly to the mound as humanly possible while the bullpen warms up, I brace myself for what is likely to be the bullpen's utter failure. But no. Who's that! It's Colborn! What's Colborn going to say? "Stop throwing balls?" He hadn't been throwing strikes all night! So Brian Schneider comes up. Well, for Schneider, this is like a free at-bat against a guy who has two pitches -- a wild breaking ball, and an 85 mph "fastball" right down the tube. So, of course, Frank Robinson orders a bunt, because he wants to give us an out in the middle of our death throes, as well as give our bullpen more time to warm up. Thanks, Frank. Not so fast. Rather than taking this gift from the Idiot Gods, Jim Tracy orders the infield to get the lead runner. Why? So that the Nats have to run farther for the now inevitable three-run homerun? So on the bunt down the third base line, instead of being there to field it, like a normal outfielder, Valentin is running to cover third, though there's nobody around to actually throw him the ball. Meanwhile, Erickson, who has probably forgotten more than I ever knew about fielding my position, ran back to the mound to face the next batter. The result was the Dodgers acting out the Miller/Hiller/Haller Hallejuah Twist instead of just picking up the ball and throwing it to first where it belonged in the first place.

Now I can probably think of a few guys who I would rather see in a situation with a runner on 3rd, and less than two outs than the guy with the 7 ERA and the K/9 rate of 1.3. In fact, the entire bullpen, even Buddy Carlisle, qualifies as guys I would have rather seen on the mound there. Against Cristian Guzman, who probably has an easier time putting bat on ball against the 84 mph throwing Erickson than say Duaner Sanchez. Groundball to second, force play, Washington scores the run, and we're tied at 1.

So now, Scott Erickson has overstayed his welcome at least two batters, so you figure it's the bullpen to pitch to pinch-hitter Carlos Baerga. Yes, you read that right. But you would be wrong. And as Erickson floats pitch after pitch right around the waist, and Baerga fouls them off, you wonder two things. 1) How embarrassing is this for Carlos Baerga? and 2) How many times can Erickson throw that pitch and Baerga keep missing it? Unfortunately, the answer to that last question was five, since that's the one Baerga lined into right field. Only then did Tracy awake from suspended animation, pull Erickson, and bring in Wunsch. For gravy's sake, Wunsch then struck out good hitters Wilkerson and Johnson, which wasn't really necessary to highlight this particular idiocy, but did help put a capstone on it.

Having given up, Tracy threw Schmoll to the wolves, then Carlyle to ensure defeat. While everyone was focused on Choi's hitting, it also appears that he needs to work on the defense. Not that Shawn Green was Brooks Robinson, but I'd sort of like Choi to just be good on his own, rather than just be better than whatever schlub we just got rid of to improve the team.

Now, we got problems everybody. I am not buying Valentin. I don't care if DePo walks on water. We can walk, but we seem to have forgotten that whole thing where you swing the bat and hit the ball. Grabowski is still on the roster. As usual, we ran out of the only rally we got all night, J.D. Drew wasting an out and killing an inning getting thrown out at third on Jeff Kent's RBI single. Certainly, Tracy does not deserve all the blame for this (though he probably deserves ultimate blame for all of this baserunning nonsense -- probably babbles a lot about taking the "extra base" and all that rot).

But how much does he deserve? Does this improve his VORM? Of course not. Is making Scott Erickson pitch in that situation to Carlos Baerga "putting him in position to succeed?" Don't make me laugh. He didn't put Wunsch in much of position to succeed, instead dinking around with Erickson so long that Washington got to the top of their order. To Wunsch's credit, he got out of the inning in fine form.

Jim Tracy is making decisions that are costing us runs. They are costing us outs. They are costing us baserunners and opportunities to score. They are costing us the currency with which baseball is played. For what value added? "He gets the most out of his players?" Which ones? Grabowski? Nakamura? Carlyle? We're back in our old circular logic machine. I'm told on one hand that it's Weaver's fault when he hits Craig Counsell, but on the other hand "Jim Tracy gets the most out of his players." It can't be both!

And so we soldier on, attempting to again win the division with this handicap of a manager, who basks in the bromides of the idiotarian press while taking a flamethrower to common sense. Which is why, you figure, he basks in the bromides of idiots like Bill Plaschke and Joe Morgan. He speaks their language.

Talkin' 'Bout The Choi

Here.

And T.J. Simers Got A Raise

You know, I have three ideas to fix this, and two-thirds of them have nothing to do with political bias. Tim Brown, on the other hand, was obviously hired to help sell papers in Fullerton and Tustin.

Why I Blog About the Dodgers

Every once in a while, I'll tell a friend of mine about this blog thing that I do. They ask me what it's about, and I tell them it's about generally, the Dodgers, and specifically, about their manager. After the obligatory "You must be crazy" stare, they generally ask me why I don't blog about something like politics or the law, topics I'm not unacquainted with.

Well, this is why.

I mean you have it all right here. Meaningless twaddle about some kind of media dinner. B level celebrities. Self-congratulation from stem to stern. The obligatory ghost-written jokes straight from a Bob Hope Special. The obligatory response from Republicans about just how cool we really are. The obligatory David Corn quote about the coming conservative crackup stemming from the meaningless twaddle about some kind of media dinner. I don't write about politics because you get everything you want to know from The Onion.

Sorry for the meaningless trip to Nowheresville, but I had to get that off my chest.

In Case You Were Wondering What Joe Morgan's Been Up To

DePodesta for President is on the case. Reminds me of the movie Clue:

Col. Mustard: Wadsworth, are you trying to make me look stupid in front of the other guests?

Wadsworth: You don't need any help from me, sir.

Col. Mustard: That's right!

Sunday, May 01, 2005

One Last Thing

Sorry to all of you who played the Name Game, and are no doubt disappointed when Tracy refused to pull Jeff Weaver on Wednesday night, and eliminated all of you from contention to win the wholly illusory non-existent prize at the end of the rainbow. Fact is, I'm sort of glad this site exists in this form after last week. And it reminds me that unlike Joe Morgan, I need to stay true to my principles, and not wither in the face of mere facts like winning and losing. And fact is, it's like a brand now. FJT. It's catchy. My wife told me not to change it. You listen to your wife, don't you?

Announcement forthcoming as to our impending move. I thought getting out of school would move along the process, but it turns out that having nothing to do makes you lazy.

Why Can't This Newspaper Get It Together?

Who's your favorite sports star?

Bill Plaschke, of course!

The question was asked of a couple of thousand Americans by the Harris Poll folks this winter, and the top 10 was a jaw-drop 10.

So, they asked all the Times subscribers, eh?

Five guys who work beneath a helmet and pads.

Rollerball?

Two guys in a sport where fans recently attacked the players.

And the Catholic Church is nothing but the Crusades and the Inquisition.

Two guys in sports that require big money or hot wheels.

Poker?

And, oh yeah, one baseball player.

This is what happens when you keep trying to foist Alex Cora on us.

Their faces, down to the last drops of brown juice rolling from the corner of their bottom lips, are on television for six months.

America hates tobacco chewers. Go to hell, Babe Ruth!

Their habits, from hemlines to hairstyles, inspire as much childhood imitation as a Hummer full of rappers.

What size dress does Shawn Green wear? I always thought Paul LoDuca looked good in a sundress, but the back hair was a problem.

More than any other athletes in any sport, they are constantly in America's face.

While America scrunches up its nose.

While paying $100 a pop for a view of the guy's head in front of them.

We really don't like baseball players anymore, do we?

Remember, as I've pointed out 100 times before, when the plural pronoun is used in a Plaschke column, the result should be re-written to insert the word "Plaschke" in place of the pronoun. Hence, "Plaschke really don't like baseball players anymore, do Plaschke." Which, grammatically, is no huge improvement over Plaschke's style, but I do try my best.

"Baseball players have become aloof to consumers," said Paul Swangard, managing director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon. "They are arguably the most prolific athletes in terms of exposure, but they're just not great ambassadors for friendly athletics."

"College professors have become aloof to common sense," said Steve Haskins, proprietor of firejimtracy.blogspot.com. "They are arguably the most prolific academics in the world in terms of gasbaggery, but they're just not able to put together sentences without using words like aloof."

We really don't like baseball players, or we wouldn't have ranked only Derek Jeter in the top 10 of a list that includes NFL stars Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Tom Brady, Donovan McNabb and Ben Roethlisberger.

Just think of how Andy Roddick, Venus Williams, and Wayne Gretzky feel. Leave America while you still can. But don't panic!

We wouldn't have put only Jeter in a list that includes two NBA players, retired Michael Jordan, who ranks first, and Shaquille O'Neal.

This explains the above line. Michael Jordan retired three years before Ron Artest (not usually confused with Michael Jordan) went crazy. And Bill, that was Jermaine O'Neal. The skinny O'Neal.

We would have more of them in a list that included Tiger Woods and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Those last two guys may be worth as much as the Dodger clubhouse combined, yet it is baseball players who are considered overpaid louts.

Where are all those experienced Times editors who are supposed to catch lazy writing constructions like passive voice? Let me help.

Those last two guys may be worth as much as the Dodger clubhouse combined, but I consider baseball players overpaid louts.

See? Now there is a noun to go with the verb! Hooray! Usually, the presence of noun and verb are required to win the Pulitzer. I'm just trying to help.

(UPDATE: Ah ha! Patterico figured it out. All those experienced Times editors are busy editing key facts out of news stories to make them conform to the official party dogma!)

Football players never sign autographs anywhere near their playing field, yet it is baseball players who are considered fan unfriendly.

See above.

Basketball players are no strangers to police blotters, yet it is baseball players who are perceived as immoral cheaters.

See above.

Attendance is rising, October ratings have been huge, the sport has made such a resurgence that folks will even pay $85 to sit in Dodger Stadium seats from which you can see only two bald heads and a hairy neck.

What am I even doing this for? Plaschke decided to Fisk himself!

But it is the game we love. It is not the players.

"But it is the game Plaschke love. It is not the players."

Not anymore.

We just go for the ads on the outfield scoreboard, the limp Panda Express, and the steamed Dodger Dogs. If you generally listened to Bill Plaschke, et. al, (not that I would recommend it) you would necessarily come to the conclusion that all we could go for was the players.

Saturday was just another reason.

Commissioner Bud Selig finally proposed a steroid policy that would work, one with a short leash and long penalties, a three-strikes-and-you're-out-forever fastball.

Plaschke's sole argument for this steroid policy? That it would "work." Not only does he fail to argue that perhaps the penalties don't fit the crime (something that the players should decide anyway, since they are the ones at risk for steroid use), but he fails to argue why this wouldn't work better than a one-strike-and-you're-out policy. Or public stoning. In fact, there's no argument here at all.

So what does he do? Well, Jose Lima is gone, so he asked Jason Phillips for one instead.

And what did one of the Dodgers say?

"That's ridiculous," Jason Phillips said.

Continue. But let me give you some advice, Jason, given that I think you're younger than me, and therefore I can give it. When you talk to Plaschke, talk in paragraphs. If you do that, he can't use it.

Phillips, who makes $339,000 a year, complained that Selig's proposal of unpaid suspensions ranging from 50 days to lifetime would hurt guys in his tax bracket.

This is rudimentary math, but a 50 day suspension would cost Jason Phillips one-third of his salary, or about $100,000. Since I am opposed to class warfare, I'll just say that a penalty that cost me a third of my salary, regardless of how much I made, would pinch my pocketbook.

"Do I think the penalties are a little harsh? Yes," he said. "Not for, say, the guys who have already been in the big leagues a lot of years and are making millions. [But] put yourself in my position. I play paycheck to paycheck to support my family."

For instance, what if the Times docked you one-third of your salary for every time you used passive voice?

Phillips even implied that some players would have to get a part-time job if they were suspended for questionably illegal substances.

"What are you supposed to do?" he said. "Go work at Burger King for 50 days because you're not getting paid because you ate five poppy-seed muffins? Until they can come to an agreement on what is positive and what is not positive. …"

Everyone on the 40 man roster, including minor leaguers not on the major league club, is subject to Major League steroid testing (hence the guys you've never heard of getting suspended under the MLB policy). Unless something significant has changed, those guys might have to work at "Burger King" to eat. Last I checked, some of them were still sending money home to the Dominican Republic, but I'm against class warfare by nature.

But whatever the case, I would like to know if Phillips is acutally right that there is no "agreement on what is positive and what is not positive." Maybe that's something Tim Brown can take up when he stops harassing Jose Guillen.

Positively, we hate this sort of talk.

Absolutely, baseball players remain singularly famous for sounding like entitled brats.

Was it a baseball player that said "We make a lot of money, but we spend a lot of money?"

Phillips is known as a solid guy, but … Burger King?

Would you prefer Wal-Mart? A writer should be familiar with poetic license, but since the most poetic sentence in this piece involved drool, I'm not terribly surprised by this.

Some of that is inspired by working in sports' most combative and fan-ignorant union.

Well, when you're right you're right.

And some of that is because nobody has been coddled from childhood to stardom like a major league baseball player.

Not even LeBron James.

Did you know that after games at Dodger Stadium, no matter how many fans are waiting, one of two full-service elevator operators is ordered to override all buttons if a player needs a ride up to the parking lot?

Yes, Bill. You whined about this no more than three weeks ago. Nobody cared then. Nobody cares now.

I've ridden before with players who didn't even bother to thank the poor guy pushing the buttons.

Poor guy. Is that the guy who invented "Game Over?"

"It's different today than it used to be," said Tom Lasorda, who remains the most popular living Dodger even though he hasn't been in uniform for nearly 10 years.

Dodger Stadium plays Welcome to the Jungle every time Lasorda shows up.

"Taking time with the fans, some players do it, some players don't do it."

Thanks for the quote, Tommy. I only had 780 words. No, I didn't forget to ask you which players do it. I just don't care.

When players take time with the fans today, television shows them throwing chairs at them or punching them.

The nature of news being to show rare events, that being why it's called the "new"s instead of the "mundane"s or the "normal"s or the "oldhat"s.

Of course, Gary Sheffield, who threw a forearm at a Boston patron recently, was commended by the commissioner's office for showing "restraint."

Has it become so bad that a player is officially a good guy if he hits a fan only once?

I suppose the answer could possibly be "yes" or "no", so this makes an ineffective rhetorical question.

Even everyone's darling Angels canceled their in-season autograph sessions for season-ticket holders.

You know how this works now...

"Even Plaschke's darling Angels canceled their in-season autograph sessions for season-ticket holders"

(The Dodgers, incidentally, hold their first of three in-season autograph sessions for children in Lot 32 today.)

(This is very incidental, and parenthetical, and ironical, and coincidental, for reasons that should be clear to Plaschke's readers over the last eight months.)

(Paragraph).

"Young people today like an aggressive, violent, bad-boy image in their athletes," said Dodger Jeff Kent. "Major league baseball players are only seen as selfish prima donnas."

This is kind of an interesting quote. Lots of subtext there. Too bad NOTHING EVER COMES FROM IT. Why is this quote even here?

Just ask Paul Roberts, longtime owner of Landry's Sporting Goods in Montrose, who supplies his community with 4,000 youth-league baseball uniforms and only 200 football uniforms each year.

Jerry's from Montrose! Shout out to Jerry! Jerry owns a Dodger hat! I think he owns a jersey!

Yet he sells far more NFL jerseys than baseball jerseys in this town without an NFL team.

Does Montrose have television? Those of us who grew up in West Los Angeles kind of doubt it, but it's possible.

Steroids have eroded our trust of the men.

Which men?

Idiotic beanball incidents like the one between Boston and Tampa Bay have dwindled our respect.

Don Drysdale. Not a Hall-of-Famer. Hated by millions.

Free agency, used in baseball like in no other sport, has cost them our love.

Bill Plaschke, of course, works under a system where he gets a contract unilaterally composed by his employer, and if he disagrees with the pay, the employer is simply allowed to renew his old contract at the same rate, or Bill Plaschke has to retire. What a great system! I'm for it in this case.

As for baseball, I am with good old Charlie Finley. One year contracts, and universal free agency.

In a sport whose most famous player is Barry Bonds, well …

Or possibly Derek Jeter.

Brian Cochran of Palos Verdes, one of the adult participants in a youth league day at Angel Stadium recently, doesn't need a poll to tell him about baseball's problems.

At Angel Stadium! I don't believe it.

Marching around the field with hundreds of young baseball players before a game between the Angels and Oakland A's, Cochran noticed something odd.

All but one of the major league players acted as if the kids didn't even exist.

So they treated the kids like T.J. Simers in the locker room, then.

Only the Angels' Steve Finley took the time to slap hands and offer encouragement.

Finley needs all the fans he can get right now.

"None of the other players made any effort to acknowledge us…. They didn't even look at us," said Cochran.

And they wonder why we don't look back?

Now that you've read this, don't look back. Don't ever...look...back.

Now in seriousness, it is not hard to detect a certain separation between players and fans, though the absurd lines that Plaschke draws between baseball and the other sports (particularly basketball) are ludicrous. Meanwhile, the NFL is so powerful (for reasons not fully known to me) that it can get ESPN to pull a FICTIONAL show portraying football players acting in less than favorable ways. What power does the NFL have over real, actual, damaging news? That's a question for another day, but it's certainly a question. Meanwhile, Plaschke goes on lecturing, hectoring, providing no answer better than your typical media bromide. The difference between football and baseball? Football = 16 games. Baseball = 162 games. There's a whole book right there. But this isn't even a foreword.

UPDATE: Someone at Primer makes the incontrovertible point that if you ask people in the middle of winter who their favorite sports stars are, you are more than likely to get football players for answers. That would particularly explain Roethlisberger's presence on the list.

Now That's A Half Full Glass

Here's a weird bit of news. According to the Los Angeles Times, Jim Tracy is only now acknowledging that Darren Dreifort "might" not pitch again. Strange.

More Through The Looking Glass

So sitting here working on my Plaschke piece (you didn't think I'd let that one go, did you?), and watching the end of the Nats/Mets game. Mets have runner on first with no out in a tie game in the ninth. Willie brings in Marlon Anderson to pinch hit. This is what Joe Morgan would call a bunting situation. Well, Marlon Anderson, to my amazement, and likely to the amazement of all three million viewers, did not bunt. That's right. Put this one in your journal. Willie is not beyond help.

In fact, Marlon Anderson blooped a broken-bat looper into right field for a base hit. After Jose Reyes beat out his bunt, the Mets were on their way to three runs and a win.

So how did Joe Morgan react to all of this? Here was the conversation as Mike Piazza grounded out to end the Top of the 9th:

JonM: Well, we have to give credit to Willie Randolph tonight, Joe. Most managers would have bunted in that situation.

JoeM: You're right, Jon.

This is simply representative -- Morgan was unsurprisingly unwilling to stand up for what he believed in the face of contrary evidence.

And this is where I simply refuse to accept results-based analysis. Rather than having any sort of system whatsoever, Morgan simply suggests that if it "works," it must have been the right decision. That is nonsense. It also suggests that had Dave Roberts been thrown out, Joe Morgan's conclusion would have been very different.

Sure, results are important. Wins and losses are baseball's currency. But Morgan's ongoing opposition to "Moneyball" suggests adherence to a strategy of baseball that he thinks wins games -- call it what you will. Abandoning that strategy simply because it "works" post hoc in any individual situation suggests that "theory" as such is not worth considering. And that leads to the question of why Morgan wastes so much time worrying about theory at all -- his or anyone else's. If anything, it suggests Baseball Chaos Theory.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Bob Brenly

What a knucklehead. Brian Bruney gets two outs in the bottom of the eighth, and Arizona brings in Mark Sweeney with nobody on. Brenly goes to his LOOGY, some guy named Lopez with a double digit ERA, who proceeds to give up a base hit and a walk to the guy who hits for Sweeney, then Dave Roberts. Loretta then drives in a run against some other stiff Brenly is forced to bring in because Lopez sucks.

Two outs, nobody on. Banjo hitters coming up. Bruney isn't the second coming of Gagne, but he throws hard. Get with it, Brenly.

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Angel Press Release

Congratulations, lively boys!

Wherein We Follow The Exploits of Bill Plaschke's Favorite Sixty-Four Million Dollar Third Baseman

Just struck out swinging at a pitch that almost hit him with the bases loaded and two out, with Seattle losing 5-4.

You Can Say That Again

What does he know?

Indeed.

Paging...

Jamie Moyer. Paging Jamie Moyer. Your soul-owning demon is on Line 2. Paging Jamie Moyer to the white courtesy phone. Thank you.

Grr...We're Tough...Grr

Honestly, this has the air of quiet desperation about it. The players have brought this upon themselves, which is (again) why they shouldn't have been doing it in the first place, but there you are. And meanwhile, more raspberries for Bud Selig who manages to look desperate and craven at the same time.

New Dodger Blog

Rob points all of us to the Blue Think Tank, a new sabremetrically inclined site. More charts and graphs. Remember SecondHandSmog, us lawyer-types need the Executive Summary!

The Virtues of Patience

Choi Central is understandably bullish on Hee Seop Choi after last night's Grand Slam. And so they should. It was a line drive shot -- perfect for getting out of the stadium despite the sea level altitude and "heavy" air at Chavez Ravine. As always, I'm holding my Choi stock too, but I cannot as easily jump on the anti-platoon bandwagon as many have. I am not anti-platoon per se; the platoon simply has to be justifiable (as, for example, last year's Ross/Mayne platoon was not -- Mayne should have been playing every fifth day). Specifically, I look not at the Choi side of the equation, but the Saenz side. Saenz's early successes against LHP might be considered too small a sample size to be meaningful (1.407 OPS to be specific), but last year his split was 1.058 LHP/.571 RHP. In 2002 (Saenz missed 2003 with injuries), his split was not quite as pronounced, but it was still a healthy .937/.744. Furthermore, at least given tonight's game, Joe Kennedy is a pitcher with some pronounced splits of his own (other than 2002, which was three years ago -- below, with OPS against right handed batters on the right).

2002 .742/.796
2003 .906/.684
2004 .822/.549
(There is no pronounced split in 2005, but Kennedy's samples are too small to be meaningful -- total he OPSes at about 1.000)

Of course, the X factor in all of this is Choi's ability to hit major league left-handers. Really, no one has any idea whether he has any or not. Only about 70 plate appearances in his career against them, and while those 70 appearances are downright horrible, no one but Bill Plaschke would argue that they are meaningful of themselves.

Of course, you have to take into consideration that Choi is the future and Saenz, well, isn't. And if Choi never has a regular regimen of hitting against LHPs, it leads to the circular but unfortunate conclusion that he can't hit LHPs. But Tracy has on his bench a guy who hits lefthanders. By starting Saenz, Tracy guarantees that Saenz gets at least two or three at-bats in favorable situations, rather than sitting around and waiting to possibly get a situation later in the game.

So while Tracy's inexplicable decision to bring in Saenz against a RHP last week was as close to unforgiveable as he's made in four years (though last week was possibly his worst six game stretch as the Dodger manager, period), it seems to me that Tracy's use of Saenz against starting LHPs (the way I would look at it) is at least defensible, and probably right for the time being. If Saenz appears to cool as the season progresses, that would call for reassessment.

And if I ever, ever, ever, see Grabowski or Nakamura over there again...

UPDATE: Some more background. Last year, it was Jayson Werth's emergence in left field that benched Choi. My problem with Tracy last year was not that Tracy wasn't starting Choi, but that the first guy off the bench was always Grabowski, who was in the midst of a 1-250 slump, even in cases where we needed baserunners and where no one denies Choi's ability to work a walk. Tracy did a few times, but could hardly bench Green in favor of Saenz; he would either have had to do that, or move Green to right, moving Bradley over to left(?), or center with Finley going to left (?) -- anyway, you get the idea. I suspect that for this year, DePodesta understood that by getting rid of Green (a move heartily endorsed in these quarters), Tracy would have more opportunity to play both Saenz AND Choi, and that a loose "switch-hitting" Choi/Saenz platoon would be better than Shawn Green at first base, particularly in 2005. Early in the year, that is turning out to be true, and is especially true when you look at Green's Erickson/All Pitchers Not Named Erickson splits.

This is all a long way of saying that for the short-term, I think that DePodesta probably has little problem with Saenz starting against some LHP. In my admittedly short experience with DePodesta, the players who Tracy likes who are used badly (Encarnacion, Martin, Roberts, Mota), generally find themselves on other teams that use them badly (Encarnacion has 23 RBIs. When I found that out, I wanted to kill myself with a spork.) . DePodesta doesn't like to leave Tracy a lot of rope to hang himself with. And that is all a long way of saying that if DePodesta doesn't want to platoon Choi anymore, he won't give Tracy anybody to platoon him with.

But forget Choi. What in the world are we going to do about Valentin?

Willie Randolph

Apparently, beyond help.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Tonight's Medival Torture

Jennings v. Perez. Why isn't Perez hitting in front of Bako? The Tracy Mysteries continue.

UPDATE: And after a day to sit around and think about it, the Dodgers manage to look at five pitches in the first inning. That's right. Perez -- 27. Jennings -- 5. I'm not even looking at the same team I was a week ago.

UPDATE 2: Now that might just wake us up.

UPDATE 3: The guys at Choi Central will be loving this.

Discuss

Adrian Beltre's OPS.

Pot Calling Kettle...

T.J. Simers, in an act of supreme irony, is judging maturity. Read this at your own peril. FJT does not take responsibility for its contents, or the result of exposure to it.

Polishing The Resume

Another Dodger front office executive bites the dust. But if he knows that you're supposed to bat for the pitcher with the bases loaded, maybe he just needed a transfer within the organization.

In an example of burying the lede, by the way, the reporter also notes that Wilson Alvarez threw 60 pitches and 5 innings in his last AAA appearance, giving up just one hit. Alvarez could be called up over the weekend, presumably after appropriate rest given that outing.

Finding Favorable Situations

Remind me of your initial impression of Pete Carroll again, Bill?

Thursday, April 28, 2005

For All The Good It Does Us

What bullpen?

Yeah....

Tracy indicated that he was pleased with Erickson's outing Tuesday against Arizona with the exception of the two home runs he gave up.

How was the play, Mr. Lincoln?

Well, He Needs A New Career Anyway

Sometimes, when I read nonsense like this about, for instance, Magglio Ordonez, I think that Henry Blodget would have made a tremendous sportswriter.

Things I Was Wrong About

The latest in a not-too-often feature, covering things I was wrong about.

1) The Diamondbacks. If their bullpen holds up, they will clearly compete in the NL West, particularly with the Giants melting down, the Padres taking hitting lessons from Tom Goodwin, and the Dodgers playing Johnny Need A Manager. Mind you, I'm not making predictions (all right, I'll make one -- the Giants are what I thought the D-Backs would be), but I would lean toward me eating all those cracks about Chapter 13, and instead contemplating yet another manifestation of Bill Simmons's "Patrick Ewing" theory. Though with the Saenz/Choi platoon out-hitting Shawn Green, I'm still not quite sure what all that hubbub was about. I wouldn't boo him, true. But whatever ails us certainly has nothing to do with that.

Thank you.