House of Pain, indeed.
Look, I hate to be the negative voice of doom here – but is it not getting close to time to admit that this just is not working? That a rotation of Brad Penny, Chad Billingsley, 50% of Derek Lowe, Brett Fucking Tomko and Mark Goddamn Hendrickson just isn’t going to cut it? That while Luis Gonzalez’ early-season renaissance was nice, he’s still going to be 40 in a few weeks and has continued his decline of the last 5 seasons? That Nomar Garciaparra hasn’t been a good baseball player in fourteen months now? That much as we love Russell Martin, the man is not indestructable and actually needs a rest – especially when we’re pulling day games after night games in hellish Midwest conditions?
After today’s 12-2 waxing by a very mediocre Cardinals team, the Blue now sit only 3 games over .500 and in 4th place in the NL West. They’ve lost 10 out of 13. And they haven’t won a series since taking 2 out of 3 from the Phillies nearly a month ago. We’re supposed to believe that this team is going to turn it around to leapfrog 3 teams to win the division, or 4 teams to win the Wild Card?
Even more unfortunately.. there’s not much that can be done. There’s little reason to think Mark (6.57 ERA since the All-Star Break) Hendrickson is going to suddenly become an effective starter. There’s no reason to think Brett (ohmygod 5.49 ERA, 80 ERA+, how can you suck this bad?) will suddenly become even a mediocre starter. Wait, I’m not done with him. There’s been 113 MLB pitchers who’ve tossed as many innings as him. Ranked by VORP… he’s 105th. But, there’s no pitching out there to be had. Should we throw D.J. Houlton and Eric Stults in the rotation instead? You could make a strong argument that they couldn’t possibly be worse – but they’re not going to propel this team to playoff glory either. That’s pretty much it in terms of rotation options.
Speaking of black holes that suck the life out of everything they come near, Nomar Garciaparra. Ranked again by VORP, of the 105 players who have as many at-bats as he does.. he’s 97th. Considering that 3 of the 7 players below him are ancient members of the San Francisco Home for the Elderly, I’m counting this as 97th of 102. But again – what can be done to improve this? I’ve been on the Andy LaRoche bandwagon for some time, but he’s only played once in the last week at AAA due to back issues, so he’s hardly a viable option right now. With Meat shipped off to New York, who’s left at 3B? The Wrong Ramon Martinez? Another position where the status suck is likely to remain.
The one area where we do have some control is left field, currently inhabited by the rotting remains of Luis Gonzalez.
Luis Gonzalez’s OPS, Last Five Seasons:
Wow. It’s almost like there’s a trend there. And that trend is “old and busted”. Admittedly, he got off to a good start this year. But OPS since the All-Star Break? .501. Three extra base hits. Add that to his below average defense, and can we just put this dog to sleep? So what’s wrong with playing Andre Ethier (that’s Andre “best outfielder on the team, 1.021 July OPS, .911 August OPS” Ethier) every day? What’s wrong with giving Matt Kemp a chance to break out of his slump and realize his immense talent by playing? (Yes, I realize I’m advocating not giving Gonzalez any more time to break out of his slump, but somehow I feel more confident in a 22-year old improving than a 39-year old). Finally, what’s wrong with giving Delwyn Young a real shot to play? The kid’s hit at every stop in the minors (career SLG: .514) and he’s been impressive in his short time with LA, going 6 for 11 since he’s been up, including 4 for 4 on Thursday. Since we all know that Juan Pierre’s not going anywhere in CF, tell me why we can’t see Ethier and Kemp as the starters in LF and RF, with Young getting a few starts a week in each corner?
Oh wait. Forget everything I said. We just acquired Shea Hillenbrand, Mark Sweeney, and Chad Moeller. Problems solved!!
- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness