Tracy Ringolsby Has Never Watched The Game of Baseball

Friends, lets talk about the newspapers for a moment, if we can. Now, it may be true that we here at MSTI are just lowly bloggers, baseball fans without a journalism degree amongst us. We are held to no rules of integrity; if I wanted to post that James Loney and Joe Beimel held up a liquor store in Tijuana, shot the clerk, and sold his kidneys on the black market in order to finance their illegal gun-running operations, well goddamn it, I could do that. And what would happen to me? Probably nothing, except that people would stop reading this blog because it would stop being about baseball, and start being about stupidity. Okay, more about stupidity. That’s the main complaint the ‘legitimate media’ has about bloggers – that we have no training and no repercussions.

Which sort of makes me wonder how someone like Tracy Ringolsby of FOXsports.com and the Rocky Mountain News can write something as unbelievably insane – and let’s face it, lazy – as this piece of crap that showed up today, and have no repercussions. It’s one thing to have an opinion I don’t agree with – and it’s quite another to be so wrong and/or uninformed that its actually offensive.

Let’s get on with it:

What’s changed: After shelling out a five-year, $44 million contract for CF Juan Pierre a year ago, the Dodgers major move this off-season was to give out a two-year, $36.2 million contract to CF Andruw Jones. Plan is to move Pierre to left, replacing Luis Gonzalez, who left as a free agent.

Okay. Nothing too bad here – you might think that giving $35 million to Hiroki Kuroda would warrant a mention too, but, fine.

Battle front: Stuck with Nomar Garciaparra for another year after the inexplicable decision to re-sign him last season for two years, the Dodgers had to move him from first base to make room last year for James Loney. Now Garciaparra will battle with prospect Andy LaRoche for the third base job.

Still nothing that wonky. The fact that his first two points are relatively accurate should give you an idea of just how bad this is going to have to get to pull this whole article down to the level of “uninformed crap.”

Story line: A team that has taken the approach that wasting more money will cover up the money already wasted now has decided to bring in manager Joe Torre and hope that the calming influence he provided in New York can overcome the fractured clubhouse with the Dodgers. There’s one problem. In New York there was a strong home-grown foundation built around SS Derek Jeter. In Los Angeles, there’s no basis to build on.

And here we go! First of all, when Torre joined the Yankees in 1996, Jeter was 21 years old and had all of 12 major league hits under his belt. Even when the Yankees were winning it all in 1996 and going back to the playoffs in 1997, Jeter was merely a league-average hitter (101 and 103 OPS+ in those years). Point being, while Jeter obviously blossomed into a Hall of Famer, Torre hardly landed in the Derek Jeter Leadership Show. Joe Torre as manager of the Yankees predated “a home-grown foundation built around SS Derek Jeter.”

Second, this isn’t about the Yankees. “In Los Angeles, there’s no basis to build on.” You’re really going to say this in the very next sentence after bringing up a strong home-grown foundation? Really? So no love for 24-year-old Gold Glove winner/Silver Slugger winner/All Star starter/arguable best catcher in baseball/home-grown Dodger Russell Martin? Have we forgotten 22-year-old, .894 OPSing, home-grown Dodger Matt Kemp? Not interested in 22-year-old, already better than average and occasionally dominating, home-grown Dodger Chad Billingsley? I was going to come up with fun quips for Jonathan Broxton, and James Loney, all ending with “home-grown Dodger” – but you don’t need me to outline their achievements; if you’re reading this site, you know who they are.

The point is, there’s a pretty damned good home-grown foundation to build on. Which makes Tracy Ringolsby either wrong, ignorant, or both.

Strength: RH Takashi Saito has become a dominant closer and had particular success within the NL West last year. He was 2-1 with a 1.52 ERA and 16 saves in 18 opportunities within the division.

Alright. I might have gone with Martin here, but picking Saito as a strength is hardly a sin. Moving on:

Weakness: Besides SS Rafael Furcal and CF Andruw Jones there isn’t an average defensive player on the field, and that takes a toll on a team’s pitching staff.

Oh boy: here we go. Urge to kill… rising… rising… Come on! This is just ridiculous. Remember two paragraphs ago when I pointed out Russell Martin won a Gold Glove? Yet he doesn’t count as an “average” defensive player? By one metric from Baseball Prospectus, Andre Ethier was the 8th best defensive RF of 24 ranked in baseball last year. That would put him in the top 1/3 – yet Ringolsby asserts that he’s not even “average”? And James Loney? Already one of the smoothest first basement around. I’ll give you that Pierre is horrible, Kemp is inexperienced defensively thus far, and Kent has no range. So if by “not an average defensive player other than Jones or Furcal”, you really meant to say “Jones, Furcal, a Gold Glove catcher, and two other excellent fielders in Ethier and Loney”, that would make sense.

Unfortunately, I’m thinking what you, Mr. Ringolsby, really meant to say was, “oh, Andruw Jones and Rafael Furcal – those are names I’ve heard of. They must be good, and everyone else sucks.” I’m getting a little embarassed for you.

But it gets better!

Sleeper: LHP Clayton Kershaw is the top prospect in the system. If the Dodgers ever decide to truly give home-grown players a chance, the lefty will take charge.

GAHHH! I’m starting to bleed out of my forehead. Has this “journalist” ever watched a Dodger game? Or even a baseball game? Have we not already been through the fact that Martin/Ethier/Kemp/Billingsley/Broxton/Loney are enormous parts of this team, and have all already proven themselves at the big league level? Who hasn’t gotten a “chance” yet? LaRoche? He had a bad back most of 2007, and is likely to get every shot to beat out Nomar in 2008. Why does this myth persist? We are likely to have five under-27 home-grown starters this year, and six on days Billingsley goes. But, hey, we’re not “giving home-grown players a chance.” This is worse than just laziness – this is criminal.

Off-season dealings: Major free agent additions were CF Andruw Jones and backup C Gary Bennett. Major free agent losses were LHPs Randy Wolf, Mark Hendrickson and David Wells, RHP Roberto Hernandez, Olmedo Saenz and Rudy Sanchez, Cs Chad Moeller and Mike Liberthal, and OF Luis Gonzalez.

Gary Bennett. Barring injury, backup catcher for the Dodgers is about as strenous of a job as backup QB for the Packers. Yet he and his one-year deal to sit on the bench is a “major free agent addition”, while Hiroki Kuroda and his $35 million don’t even get a mention. Absolutely phenomenal work, here.

Oh, and Tracy? If you want to pretend to be a baseball journalist, could you at least, you know, spell the players names correctly? I don’t know who “Rudy Sanchez” and “Mike Liberthal” are, but somewhere Rudy Seanez and Mike Lieberthal are embarrassed for you.

As am I. Simply atrocious.

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg

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