Here’s the good news: by one metric, Rafael Furcal is the best player in baseball so far.
2008 MLB leaders in MLV (Runs contributed by a batter beyond what an average player at the same position would produce in a team of otherwise league-average hitters.) [From Baseball Prospectus]
1. Rafael Furcal SS LAD 9.6
2. Pat Burrell OF PHI 9.5
3. Hanley Ramirez SS FLO 9.3
4. Albert Pujols 1B STL 8.5
Here’s the bad news: just about everything else. To start with, Andruw Jones. MLV, as described above, has 503 qualified players in 2008. Where’s Jonesy rank? At a robust 498th. Basically, while Furcal has gained us 9.6 runs already over what an average SS would do (remember, the Dodgers have only played 10 games. Furcal is gaining us 1 run every game so far), Jones has cost the Dodgers 5.8 runs to this point. That said, two of the only five players who are worse off than Jones so far? David Ortiz and Robinson Cano. And this is why small sample sizes are fun!
Also, for the fourth time in six games, Matt Kemp was on the bench last night – and one of the two he started can almost be seen as a fluke, because he replaced Jones in center while Juan Pierre still got to play. Now, Pierre has hardly been the biggest problem of this young season, but how exactly is a young talent like Kemp supposed to get into a groove when he barely gets to play? In the two games he did get to play, he was 4 for 9 with a triple.
“I believe I hit righties pretty good,” Kemp said. “I don’t have an answer to the question (of why I don’t play), I really don’t, but I wish I could get in there against those guys.
Let’s put that to the test. It’s hardly a rarity that a young player has some big left/right splits – one needs look no further than Detroit’s otherwise exemplary Curtis Granderson to see that. What about Kemp? Well, his career numbers vs. righties are a pretty respectable .299/.328/.497. His OPS vs lefties is a little better (.868 vs .825), but still – he’s hardly a liability vs. the right-handed pitcher. Plus, as we very recently pointed out, considering his age? That’s a pretty good track record. Can we just let the kid play? Please? I mean, it’s not like the Dodgers are having widespread offensive apathy right now.
That’s a pretty disgusting way to treat a veteran, and it’s especially surprising coming from Joe Torre. Loaiza had a solid enough spring, and the day after he allowed four runs over four innings in his first start of the year, Torre said he’d stick with him as a fifth starter. Now he’s reversing course. It’s a long shot that this will work out, as Kuo has never been able to stay healthy as a starter. Odds are that Loaiza will be right back in the rotation in two weeks, except he’ll be a worse bet than ever because his arm strength will have deteriorated that much more.
“A pretty disgusting way to treat a veteran”? Really? I’m not exactly sure what him being a veteran has to do with anything – besides, while Kuo has obviously not been able to stick in the bigs, he’s hardly a rookie; it’s now his fourth season in which he’s appeared in the bigs, including starting Game 2 of the 2006 NLDS. And are we really that attached to Loaiza? He’s given up 5 earned runs in 6.2 innings so far. Sure, he probably deserved another start or two. But we all know the 3 headed, 2 hyphened 5th starter beast of Estehong-Ho Parkuoaiza (ugh. best I could do) is just keeping the seat warm for Clayton Kershaw anyway, so I really can’t get all that worked up about this. Kuo has consistently said that he’s more comfortable as a starter anyway, and having also pitched 6.2 innings this year, he’s given up 0 runs and struck out 8. Sorry, Esteban. I’m not sure why Rotoworld has your back so much, but you’re out of luck on this one.
Anyway, Chris Young and the Padres are back for another game tonight. Maybe, just maybe Matt Kemp will get a start? Ken Gurnick and dodgers.com, please give me some hope? Please?
Juan Pierre, who was batting .067 two games ago, is up to .273 after going 3-for-4 and could return to the lineup for a third consecutive game Saturday night against Chris Young.
One outfielder who figures to be in the lineup is Andre Ethier, who drove in two runs Friday night and is 6-for-16 with three homers lifetime against Young.