Random Stupid Quotes And Stupid People: Ken Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal is back at it in his most recent column.  In it, he includes a section about the Dodgers.

From his article today:

On the surface, the Dodgers’ young position players appear to be doing fine: Catcher Russell Martin and center fielder Matt Kemp both boast on-base/slugging percentages over .800 and third baseman Blake DeWitt, right fielder Andre Ethier and first baseman James Loney are not far behind.

Team officials, however, are growing frustrated with the inability of the youngsters to react properly to game situations. DeWitt shows a knack for making adjustments, but Kemp, in particular, can look brilliant one moment, awful the next. Even the highly regarded Martin is “flattening out,” one club official says.

Russell Martin as of 6-9-08:

.314/.422/.429, 121 OPS+, .299 EqA, second highest VORP amongst catchers in MLB… yeah, he’s sure flattening out; in fact, he’s toast.  Someone notify Chase Carey, immediately!

And note how Rosenthal only cites Kemp.  Even if Martin is flattening out, that doesn’t necessarily mean it directly ties in with his ability to adjust to game situations.  So, basically, we should believe that all the youngsters (who Rosenthal says either has OPS’s near or above .800), sans Blake DeWitt, have an inability to adjust properly to game situations because Matt Kemp looks brilliant and awful every other day.  Yes, makes perfect sense.

Martin’s game-calling came under scrutiny when the Cubs’ Kosuke Fukudome hit a go-ahead single off Takashi Saito on Thursday after smacking a home run off Chad Billingsley earlier in the game.

And that’s the ONLY reason why we lost?  Due to Martin’s game calling?  I’m not saying that maybe it didn’t contribute, I’d have to watch the inning again, but it’s a stretch to put that much blame on him.  Was it his fault Saito also hit a batter that inning, as well?

Before we heap the blame on Martin, who, if anything, has historically gotten praise for his game calling since he’s been in the big leagues (including from Greg Maddux), Saito has been rather inconsistent all year long and, up until recently, Billingsley has been erratic, too.

The Dodgers clearly miss injured shortstop Rafael Furcal and even center fielder Andruw Jones, who — as poorly as he was hitting — at least provided veteran presence in the lineup.

Oh My God… how boneheaded do you have to be to make this statement?  Why should a veteran showing a presence in a lineup be a virtue solely based on that?  In fact, it’s such a virtue that Rosenthal implies that it supercedes actual production, such as in his example of Jones.  If that’s the case, do you remember on Opening Day, during the fancy pregame stuff, Duke Snider came out and just stood in center field?  I argue that we should have KEPT him there.  In fact, we should have played all of the old Dodger greats who appeared there, instead.  I mean, look at all the “veteran presence” they have, with some great stories to boot!  I mean, who cares if they’re old and crusty… did you know, they have a combined score of 2093840928 on the veteraniness scale?!  Who gives a flying fig how well they can play… as long as they’ve been in the game for a bazillion years, that’s all that matters!

However, there’s something to note in this article and it’s been a trend since last year: the same standards that they want the kids to have go away when it comes to the veteran players.  They’re rarely applied.  Essentially, being a veteran is just enough and, therefore, because of that, they’re exempt from criticism of their play.  For crying out loud, I repeat:

The Dodgers clearly miss injured shortstop Rafael Furcal and even center fielder Andruw Jones, who — as poorly as he was hitting — at least provided veteran presence in the lineup.

I mean, really, think of what this statement is saying.  He is literally saying that having a player who couldn’t even hit .200 and is, thus far, one of the biggest FA signing busts EVER, is good to have in the lineup… because he’s played a long time.  I shit you not.

Yes, perhaps the kids do not quite yet understand some of the nuances that comes with the game and being a mystical veteran, but you know what they CAN do that veterany guys like Andruw and Sweeney can’t?

Get to fucking first base!

I mean, how absurd can this be?  If we’re going to criticize the kids for failing to live up to certain aspects of being a baseball player, why aren’t those same standards applied to the elder players – the ones who are supposed to be, like, the shit  – when they fail to succeed at the most elementary concepts of the game… like, hitting a ball?  In other words, why is it that when these kids, putting up near or above .800 OPS as Rosenthal says, make certain errors, it’s plastered throughout the media, while Rosenthal gives the likes of  Andruw Jones, hitting below .200, get a free pass and, in fact, even say that he’s needed in the lineup?  While we’re at it, where was the criticism last year over the horrific baserunning of Jeff Kent?  When Matt Kemp did that, he was being dumb (which he was), but when Kent or other veterans did it, they were just being “aggressive.”  Where was anyone when Juan Pierre got picked off at second base, last week?  Where is the lament over the fact that the veteran Mark Sweeney only has FOUR hits all year?!  Or the fact that, even though he’s really picked it up the past week and a half, Jeff Kent still has a line of .252/.291/.424, 82 OPS+ and is still on pace to become one of the worst clean up hitters ever?  If the near or above .800 OPS hitting kids can’t adjust to game situations, what do you call this?  Most bloggers realize this, other fans know it… the media and some people in the organization?  Not so much, it seems.

None of the young regulars is playing poorly enough to merit a demotion, even though making an example of one might jolt the others.

So, basically, in order to motivate our team, instead of replacing dead weight (i.e. Sweeney) and making other roster adjustments, let’s make examples out of our best players.  Great plan, Ken!

By the way, mentioning these shortfalls by the veterans isn’t to deflect the criticism from the kids; Rosenthal isn’t completely wrong about Kemp.  Matt Kemp is incredibly amazing and then incredibly frustrating to watch… sometimes within the same game or even the same inning.  But he’s still a 23 year old kid who has only been playing the game a little more than FIVE years.  What do you expect?  For that matter… uh…, aren’t these youngsters also called “the kids” for a reason?  Certainly they need to continue to grow and make strides, of course they need to work in certain areas… most players do.  But you’d think they were clueless fringe players with the way they’re talked about.  Even despite their flaws, the kids (except Loney, who has been the one true disappointment, this year) are STILL amongst the best hitters on the team.

Yet it’s not even so much the criticism that bothers me that much, however whacked it is, as much as the fact that, in the process of criticizing the kids, the media (and perhaps even our GM) ends up giving complete blow jobs to veterans for, in many cases, just still playing.  All I ask is for consistency.  Of course, I also ask for a million dollars, but the chances of either happening are remote, at best…

And, for the record, let’s not forget, this organization hasn’t been the greatest at giving these kids the opportunity to get the experience and learn these important nuances in the first place, which is the irony of this.  On one hand, they threw every hurdle they could at James Loney last year and he wasn’t called up until June, as Nomar was fully into his horrific decline.  Players like Ethier and Kemp still had to battle for playing time in the second half, after it was clear that 1.  they were ready and 2.  Gonzo was done.  Essentially, this is the very first year these kids, sans Martin, are going into the season knowing that they will be getting a lot of playing time.

And now you expect them to act like polished 10 year veterans?  That’s ridiculous.  Even success stories like the 2007 Rockies and Diamondbacks dealt with their kids going through the usual struggles before they hit their stride.  It’s naive to have these utopian expectations of a youth movement where all these kids come up polished and ready and immediately lead their team to the championship or at least coast through without any downsides.  It’s like a Dad expecting their college graduate son to immediately make a six figure income out of college.  Struggles will happen and, unless they’re actively not listening to any feedback – and nothing has suggested that – you deal with it, if you’re truly committed to a youth movement.

But, no, screw that; we need veterans.  Let’s instead become the Seattle Mariners or Detroit Tigers.  Loaded with veteraniness.  Sure has worked out for them, this year…

- Vin vinscully-face.jpg



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