After getting shut out on Sunday by San Diego, and kicked in the stomach by Pittsburgh on Monday, how welcome was last night’s romp? Matt Kemp – who as you may or may not have noticed, I have advocated allowing to play – scored three times. James Loney has now hit in every game this year (that’s 14 in a row, longest to start a season for LA since Steve Garvey in 1978. I believe “14 in a row in 1978″ was also Steve’s record for stewardesses, but we’ll save that for another time). Russell Martin finally gets something going with his first home run of the year, and even Andruw Jones showed some life with two hits. And what can you say about Rafael Furcal after a 2-5, 2 RBI night that pushes his average up to .364? Well, there’s this:
2008 MLB Leaders in VORP:
1. Rafael Furcal SS LAD 11.5
2. Hanley Ramirez SS FLO 11.4
3. Nate McLouth OF PIT 11.1
4. Pat Burrell OF PHI 10.9
5. Albert Pujols 1B STL 10.8
Is it too early to start the “Rafael for MVP” chant? For tonight’s game, Andre Ethier is going to sit in favor of Juan Pierre, according to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times, but since Ethier has yet to sit even once this year, I can’t get too worked up about that.
But here’s where things may get interesting. We have Nomar news, also from Hernandez:
Back in Los Angeles from a minor league rehabilitation assignment, Nomar Garciaparra is set to be activated in time for a five-game trip that begins Friday in Atlanta.
“You have steps throughout the whole process to get back and I’ve taken every step,” Garciaparra said. “Now, it’s go out there and play.”
Great! I’ve been more than thrilled with Blake DeWitt, but since the team obviously doesn’t view Chin-Lung Hu as more than an emergency option at 3B, DeWitt has played every single inning at the hot corner thus far. Think about that for a second – there is no Dodger who has played more this season than Blake DeWitt, other than James Loney, who has also played every single inning at his position. Mind-blowing. Anyway, I think this team could use the infield depth, not only to have another viable 3B option, but also because Loney can’t play every inning all year either, and Torre has already said he’d prefer not to start Mark Sweeney and lose his bat off the bench, going so far as to have Ethier take grounders at 1B in practice. I don’t think any of us want to see that experiment, so Nomar will come up, hopefully get some time at both corners (I’m thinking, two starts a week at 3B and one at 1B?), and keep everyone happy and healthy. Right?
Garciaparra said his preference would be to play “every single day.”
Oh. I suppose I can’t blame him for saying that; would you really want a guy who admits he doesn’t want to play every day? The thing is, DeWitt’s actually been surprisingly good. DodgerThoughts does a good job of breaking down the supposed “success” of DeWitt this year vs. the supposed “failure” of Andy LaRoche last season – although I might add, it seemed to me that most of the people who considered LaRoche’s debut to be poor were those who only look at batting average as an evaluation tool.
As for the corresponding roster move, Tony Jackson, on his blog, says:
And although I have been hinting that DeWitt is going back to the minors when Nomar comes off the DL, it now looks like they are at least considering keeping him and cutting back to 11 pitchers temporarily. That would almost certainly mean Ramon Troncoso is the odd man out.
Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t that the only possible move? There’s no way you can send down DeWitt just yet. Even if Nomar is handed the everyday third base job, which I can’t imagine happening right off the bat, the Dodgers obviously have no other third base solutions. There’s simply no way you can count on the fragile Nomar to play every single inning. With Tony Abreu suffering yet another setback (is it possible he’s going to make Nomar look like an ironman?) and Andy LaRoche just about to start his rehab assignment, DeWitt can’t possibly go anywhere. If he’s sent down, he has to stay down for ten days, and that’s a scary proposition to have to count on Nomar to be able to handle all of that immediately. It’s not that any of this is groundbreaking; I’m just surprised that Jackson would even consider that DeWitt gets sent down until LaRoche or Abreu are available.
Also, Joe Torre has an Iphone? I don’t know why that thought entertains me so much.
Finally, just to throw fuel on the fire, take it away, Buster Olney!
Nomar Garciaparra has rejoined the Dodgers, but if he doesn’t play regularly — and he says within this piece that he wants to play every single day — you wonder how long this situation will last. Blake DeWitt has done a nice job at third base, and you wonder if it would be best all for all involved for the Dodgers to cut ties with Garciaparra and move on.
Buster, I still don’t really have a problem with Nomar saying that – that’s what he has to say. Besides, this team is in absolutely no position to start dumping third basemen. Plus, as much as I like to be objective and focus on the stats, cutting Nomar would be a pretty big PR hit for a team that doesn’t need any right now. Here’s what I’d do when the injured start returning:
1. Nomar comes off the DL, Troncoso goes down. Nomar gets two starts a week at 3B and is available to give Loney a breather at 1B.
2. LaRoche comes off the DL, DeWitt goes down. DeWitt gets to play every day in the minors, which he wouldn’t with both LaRoche and Nomar around. LaRoche gets the majority of starts at 3B, Nomar available to spell both infield corners.
3. Abreu comes off the DL (assuming this ever happens), Hu goes down. Abreu’s now your middle infield backup, and Hu gets to play every day in AAA, which, considering how high I am on him, is very important, as I think he might be stagnating a little sitting on the bench every day in the bigs.
4. To get back to 12 pitchers: cut Mark Sweeney. I know, I know: Torre loves his veteran bat off the bench. Well, guess what? Sweeney has 1 hit in 10 pinch-hitting at-bats. He’s yet to touch his glove. Dump Sweeney, and make Nomar the new Big Sexy.
Of course, since this is what I’m proposing, none of it will actually happen.