Fire Jim Tracy

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Bizarre Glove Triangle

To supplement last night’s Gleeman-length post about the first four games, here’s a short laundry list of things to keep your eye on during the next few weeks:

- Milton Bradley. Forget about the hyped-up anger management issues—that’s much ado about nothing. Focus on the talent that has always been there—can he translate that talent into actual performance on the field and improve on a solid 2004 season? Early indicators (discussed below) are very positive—if he turns that corner, we could have a very solid 3-4-5 in Drew-Kent-Bradley.

- Derek Lowe. Especially at Dodger stadium—pay attention to his groundball-to-flyball ratio and see if that translates to the good performance DePodesta expects. His poor 2003 and 2004 performances can also be partially attributed to his climbing walk rate—let’s see if Colborn & Co. can get him to bring the walks back down to 2002 (Cy Young candidate) levels. Don’t be alarmed if he blows up at Coors field and other hitter-friendly parks—he’ll be pitching most of his games at friendly places like Dodger Stadium, Petco Park (where hits go to die), and SBC Park.

- Yhency Brazoban. Was 2004 a fluke? Or was Wednesday night the fluke when he gave up two earned runs in a third of an inning? Baseball Prospectus loves his “great stuff,” as do I. If he sustains his 2004 performance levels the Dodgers have an 8th-9th combo in Brazoban and Gagne that is probably unequalled in the bigs. This is especially important considering the makeup of the rest of the bullpen; frankly, we can’t be sure how Kelly Wunsch, Steve Schmoll, and Duaner Sanchez (good ERA, bad K rate) will perform this year.

- The Bizarre Glove Triangle of Jose Valentin-Olmedo Saenz-Hee Seop Choi. Let’s see how this thing shakes out. Early indicators point to Valentin and Saenz landing permanent spots in the lineup. Can Saenz continue to hit right-handed pitching the way he did Wednesday night (3-4, 3 RBIs)? Can Valentin be an effective hitter from both sides of the plate? No matter how this thing resolves itself, Tracy has some nice platoon matchups to play with and has Antonio Perez and Norihiro Nakamura waiting in the wings as insurance.

- Odalis Perez. Keep an eye on his pitch count and whether his elbow can stay healthy. The tendonitis concern hasn’t disappeared, and while Jim Tracy is no Dusty Baker in terms of labor abuses, I don’t exactly trust him to manage Perez’s workload to maximize long-term performance and minimize injury risk.


Here’s another list of things NOT to watch (or more specifically, things that shouldn’t matter much in terms of the team’s overall success).

- J.D. Drew. At some point the slump will end, and he will return to his proven performance levels. No matter how loud Plaschkers screeches, offensive lapses from Drew should not be worrisome at all. Even if the doomsday scenario occurs and Drew goes down, this offense might be able to survive without him.

-Elmer Dessens & Scott Erickson. We shouldn’t reasonably rely on these guys to give us great innings—any production they provide us is a bonus. Brad Penny should return in a couple of weeks, so no matter how bad (or good) these guys are in the next few weeks, their performance should not really be indicators of the general success of this year’s squad. If Penny (fingers crossed) comes back 100% healthy, we’ll have only one murky rotation slot to deal with.

1 Comments:

  • Brazoban in the game last night got hit hard. Got the save, yes, but was hit hard while getting it. I'm sure it's nerves. I mean, I hope it's nerves...

    Plaschkers is due for a column tomorrow. Simers should be predictable. The Dodgers could reel off ten straight and he'll still find something to moan about. But Plaschke, I think is running into trouble. If the Dodgers win tonight and Drew struggles, I think he'll go after J.D. or Choi.

    By Blogger Mr. Landon, at 4/09/2005 07:13:00 PM  

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