Fire Jim Tracy

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

You Knew This Was Coming

No Explanation Necessary:

"The Dodgers paid $10 million for him to take off their uniform. That's more money than they will pay all but one player to wear their uniform."

That's sort of the point, Bill.

UPDATE: The truth of this statement also depends on whether you believe Dreifort is "wearing the uniform" or not. If he is, then that's two -- and a sobering two at that.

The Dodgers could have paid an extra $6 million to keep him.

What a bargain!

That's barely half as much as they will be paying J.D. Drew, who had eight fewer homers and seven fewer RBIs in the second half of last season.

And Shawn Green bats fifty points lower against lefties than Drew. So? This is analysis?

Shawn Green finally left town Tuesday after thrice being stuffed into Paul DePodesta's back seat and driven to the city limits and dumped, and you wonder: What on earth did he do to make the Dodgers so mad?

It used to be that getting traded was just that. Now it's murder. No. Using Jason Grabowski in key pinch-hitting spots is murder. Setting the table for Shawn Green to make 16 MORE million then he was already getting is not exactly a mob hit.

Did he spill eggnog on Frank McCourt at the team's annual kids holiday party? A party in which he was the only player in attendance?

Doesn't this say more about the players than McCourt? If it's like most holiday parties, this would have been a party for children of not just front office people, but staff members, etc. I don't know the real truth (neither does Plaschke, and if he does, he's either a liar or craven), but isn't it at least as likely to interpret this as Dodger players not wanting to be seen in the same room as the riff-raff that works for the team as anything? In other words, this is dubious information that leads you to any number of conclusions.

Did he take too long to return to the dugout after homers? Because he was giving his batting gloves to kids in the stands?

No. It's that he wasn't giving away enough batting gloves, if you get my drift.

Shawn Green was shoved to Arizona on Tuesday in the clumsy manner of a sweating bartender shoving a loutish patron to the curb — "Don't come back, and I mean it!" — and you wonder: Did he really deserve this?

One hackneyed simile per article please. I know you have to reach a word count to make the formatting work out, but that's what the analysis part of the opinion is for.

He may never have consistently reached his promise in five seasons here but, goodness, he is no Hee-Seop Choi.

Who got 50 at-bats to "reach his promise" here. Even if Green consistently reached his promise in at least 2001 and 2002. Plaschke can't even make his own case right.

(Choi, who makes about $15.5 million less than Green would have with the Dodgers, is taking his place at first base.)

Which is the point.

He may not have been the most powerful clubhouse leader but, heck, he was no Milton Bradley.

Shawn Green has been reduced to being compared to Milton Bradley, and Bill Plaschke thinks this helps his case.

(Bradley, who makes about $14 million less than Green would have with the Dodgers, will take his place in right field.)

Don't know if you were watching last year, Bill, or if you are familiar with the game of baseball, but Shawn Green can't play both first base and right field at the same time.

Knowing how the McCourt regime squeaks when it walks, one would immediately assume Green was traded purely for money, and that's part of it.

Nothing like a cheap joke on the eve of a press conference announcing the signing of another wildly overpaid pitcher.

"If they don't dump him, they say, they couldn't make a long-term commitment to pitcher Derek Lowe."It's not about getting rid of Shawn Green, it's about being able to add other things … it's about doing more with our starting pitching," acknowledged DePodesta.To accept this notion is to accept the truth that the Dodgers have become the second team in the L.A. market, unable to purchase the right players and win at all costs as they do in Anaheim. That's scary."

Like Orlando Cabrera. Does losing at all costs get partial credit? Because if Colon ever reverts to first-half form (that will never, ever happen, right Angel fan?)...

Scarier still is that, because the Dodgers were willing to pay $10 million of his Arizona salary, the Green deal is about more than money. It's about vision.

What is "vision?" Is this like Dodger math? Actually, I suspect that this one is just about money.

It's because, once again, the new Dodger regime wasn't looking close enough. DePodesta, a stranger to the players, didn't hang around the batting cage enough last year to understand that maybe Green had finally figured it out here.

Because all it takes is a half hour with Shawn Green in the batting cage to psychoanalyze his ability to respond under pressure.

Uncomfortable for four years under pressure, Green hit 18 homers in the second half of the season, capped by a ninth-inning, two-out, two-strike, two-run game-winning homer in Colorado that pushed the Dodgers toward the NL West title.

But Hee Seop Choi only had an extra-inning, pinch-hit double against Colorado a week later, and then walked to keep the Giant rally. Those aren't nearly as cool.

Unsettled for four years in the spotlight, he hit three home runs in four playoff games.

Can't argue with the three home runs in four playoffs games. But how wrong is the statement that Green was "unsettled" in the spotlight? He had a decent 2000 (though not at the price), then a killer 2001 and 2002, he struggled early in 2003 as he usually does, then the labrum got him. I'm no doctor, but it comes from fair enough sources that the labrum injury comes and goes -- and then it goes. But everyone knows this. The point is that Plaschke's writing is as usual, indefensible.

And next year being the final year of his contract, well, the last time his deal was winding down, he hit 42 homers with 123 RBIs in Toronto.

1999? This is what passes for analysis? Harmon Killebrew had good walk years too. Remember when every year was a walk year? It's Jose Valentin's walk year too. Arizona didn't get his walk year -- is he going to hit 15 home runs less now?

Green does not have the personality to function as the team's star. But finally, with the addition of Drew and Jeff Kent, he could have receded into the shadows from where he does his best work.

That's what he wrote. What he meant is "Now that I can whine about how J.D. Drew walks too much, and Jeff Kent is no Alex Cora, Shawn Green will be off the hook."

As with Adrian Beltre, the Dodgers invested much time and money into Green. Couldn't they have waited one more year? For $6 million? Less than the average contact value of, gulp, Odalis Perez? Because of, double-gulp, Choi?

Yep. Those cheap-ass bastards overpaid Odalis Perez too.

Everyone in town jokes about it, but, really, is DePodesta willing to stake his reputation on a man whose best plate appearance last season was a walk?

Not cool. Walks are not cool. Plus, I forgot about the pinch-hit double. Or I'm just not going to mention it.

"The Dodgers were in the process of doing a complete overhaul," said Green in a conference call Tuesday. "Paul Lo Duca, Adrian Beltre…. I fit into that group."

You know, there's something to this free agent thing. The reason they're called "free" is that they can sign with any team "free" from strings attached. I fail to see the connection between Paul LoDuca and Adrian Beltre.

I later spoke by phone to another member of that group, Alex Cora, who was disappointed that three-fourths of the National League's best fielding infield had been hacked away.

I talked to Cora because it wasn't like general managers were tying up his phone or anything.

Even though Cora had been the longest-tenured Dodger last season, DePodesta never bothered to call him with the news that he was being cut loose, instead delegating the task to assistant Kim Ng.

Has anyone ever heard of a "job description?"

"We were all pretty young, and we thought we'd be together for a couple of more years," Cora said. "I guess we were wrong."

Guess so. Have fun in Tampa Bay.

I also spoke this week to members of the team's coaching staff, who finally agreed to new deals Tuesday. They are baseball's last coaches to sign because of — surprise, surprise — disagreements over their value.

It's all about money. Or it isn't. I don't know any more.

Being the loyal employees that coaches usually are, they didn't want to complain, but most will be paid well under baseball's $125,000 median salary for coaches, most having received minuscule raises despite the division title and the reputation as one of the best staffs in baseball.

Glad to have you back. It's not your fault you got dragged into this.

UPDATE: By the way, what happened to Plaschke's Hideo Nomo valediction? He was here not only once, but twice. "Nomo-mania." No-hitter in Coors. Single-handedly kept the whole team from falling apart in 2003. Never complained that he got paid less than everyone else. Took his medicine the first time he started sucking. Worked his way through Milwaukee and came back to L.A. It's not his fault he should have been D.L.ed through all of 2004, and it's not his fault Tracy kept throwing him to the wolves in an ongoing suicide mission to blow the division. I'll tell you where Nomo's Plaschke goodbye is. It's nowhere. It's nowhere because Bill Plaschke thinks that Shawn Green demagoguery will work (Bill, that word means "A leader who obtains power by means of impassioned appeals to the emotions and prejudices of the populace." It's what you do, even if you've never heard the word before), and Hideo Nomo demagoguery won't work. All this high-minded garbage about thank yous and phone calls is nonsense; pure drivel, designed for the saps who call Dodgertalk claiming that we can trade Alex Cora for Nomar Garciaparra.

Green spoke to McCourt once about his contract, an hour-long conversation after that holiday party."I left there thinking they could go either way, that it would be OK for them to have me back," he said. "I don't know if things changed but, obviously, the focus was to trade me."

Tragic. Now I'm getting paid in 2006 and 2007.

It was just like when DePodesta said he wasn't planning on trading Green, and then did.

Just like it.

The chemistry problems that had long infected the Dodger clubhouse have apparently moved upstairs to the front office, where today's introduction of new pitcher Lowe will cause more confusion.

Derek Lowe is clubhouse cancer. Or something. This sentence is actually inscrutable. I thought McCourt and DePodesta were so in tune that they both were saying that they weren't planning on trading Green, but then did. I'm so confused.

He is an outstanding groundball pitcher, but, um, with the infield decimated, who exactly will be catching his ground balls? J.D. Drew?

Tom Meagher, have at him!

Dioner Navarro might eventually be a great catcher, but for now, he will work in triple-A while the Dodgers will go with a David Ross-Paul Bako rotation that, if possible, is even more suspect than last season's.

Did you know they moved up Opening Day three months? I missed the memo.

And so as the Dodgers' rot stove league finally ends, the truth becomes clear.When Frank McCourt and Paul DePodesta took over this team last winter, they fashioned themselves the brilliant saviors of a group of losers with no hope, no future, no chance.

Until those chemistry problems interfered. Now McCourt won't return DePodesta's phone calls, and DePodesta has taken to calling McCourt "Mayor McCheese."

They have finally rid themselves of everyone who had the audacity to prove them wrong.

And everyone that might force McCourt to tear down Dodger Stadium and build a new stadium so that McCourt can pay them. I'm not saying he won't do that; I'm simply saying that in Plaschke-world, such an act would be a foregone conclusion, forced upon us by fiscal reality. What do you want Dodger fans? Plaschke-world?

This article was, in some sense, helpful. Given that words like "chemistry" and "vision" have no meaning, he can just throw them around. Don't like the Lowe signing? Blame "chemistry."

FINAL QUESTION: Is there an L.A. Times reporter moratorium on Green's shoulder injury? It's like the 800-lb. gorilla standing in the corner, ignoring Green's shoulder injury.

By the way, this is what I'm talking about regarding the Dodger blogosphere. And they can't give away the Times? Surprise! I think it's a vision problem. Or maybe chemistry.

UPDATE: That 16 million dollar contract sure looked worse on December 17 then it did on January 12, didn't it? Whiplash!

LAST POINT: Those guys at Dodger Thoughts are killing each other over something called UZR right now (see the comments appended to the article I linked to above), echoing Tom and Rob's spat over PECOTA v. ZIPS a couple of weeks ago. I don't know what any of them are, and am perfectly willing to let others do the math -- but I know that in the Los Angeles Times, Bill Plaschke is using stats from 1999.


  • Steve,

    I just started reading your stuff a few days ago and am loving the Plaschke responses. I hope you'll keep this as a staple of your blog.

    It'll save me the time of having to curb my anger toward Sad Bill by sending him hate e-mail.

    By Blogger Icaros, at 1/12/2005 05:00:00 PM  

  • Actually, I thought that this amounted to having a battle of wits with an unarmed man... he seems so... helpless.

    By Blogger Rob, at 1/12/2005 10:08:00 PM  

  • He's turned a staple of the Los Angeles sports diet into a print version of that horrible, obnoxious, rampagingly bad ESPN show that he's on! (The title, as well as everything else about it, escapes me.) I recognize that quality is not exactly Concern 1 (or 100) at the Los Angeles Times (Our Motto: America's Luckiest Media Monopoly), but they HAVE to be able to do better than this. And doesn't he have an editor? Someone who can say, "'re talking about six years ago." It's a little bit like Tracy and Nomo -- it's not all Plaschke's fault. But it's easier to pick up on skills like marshalling evidence for an actual argument than it is to add 10 mph to one's fastball.

    And don't even start me with Simers.

    Jim Murray...Mike Downey...sigh...

    By Blogger Steve, at 1/12/2005 10:52:00 PM  

  • The Response-to-Plaschke should be their own blog. I'd laugh everyday.

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