Stay Thirsty, My Friends

Hey, after a fun streak of 20 games in 21 days, including the longest homestand of the year, we’ve got a day off today. So take a breather, enjoy a baseball-free day, catch up on all that DVR’d pornography, and get ready to watch the boys head east to finally play some real competition in the defending champion Phillies, plus the completely nose-diving Marlins (6-14 in their last 20 games). With that in mind, let’s touch on a few outstanding topics…

* So long, Eric Milton?

Still trying to find out the details here, but from Baseball America‘s minor league transaction section:

Los Angeles Dodgers
Released:
RHP Miguel Ramirez, LHP Eric Milton, C Andrick Villalobos, 1B Chris Gibson

This is pretty surprising – Milton was holding AAA batters to a .641 OPS and had a 3.00 ERA, and it seemed almost like a given that he was going to get a shot with LA sooner or later. I believe his contract had an out if he wasn’t up with the big club by a certain date – have to check on that – but I’m kind of surprised that the Dodgers would just let him go instead of bringing him up over Brent Leach or Guillermo Mota.

* Hey, you may not like Ned Colletti, but it could be worse… much worse.

Via Dodger Thoughts, the Detroit News has a piece on the development of former Dodger prospect Edwin Jackson. It’s a nice read, and it’s good to see a former Blue phenom achieving success, but try to read this sentence without having your brain try to push its way out of your skull:

And in the waning days of August 2003, after Jacksonville’s season had ended and as Jackson packed for a trip to see family in Detroit, Bill Bavasi, then the Dodgers’ general manager, phoned a 19-year-old pitcher to tell him the short-handed Dodgers wanted him to start, the next weekend, at Colorado.

I don’t know if the reporter (Lynn Henning) incorrectly named the Dodgers GM (it was Dan Evans) or Bavasi’s position (in charge of player development) but really, it doesn’t matter – the words “Bill Bavasi” and “Dodgers general manager” should never, ever, ever, be in the same sentence.

* You can see his charisma from space. He’s a lover, not a fighter, but he’s also a fighter, so don’t get any ideas.

I’m a little late on this – both FireNedCollettiNow and SonsOfSteveGarvey have the story, complete with pictures, but the fact is that this whole “Casey Blake offended Brian Wilson” story is too ridiculous not to mention. (If you’ve missed it, basically Wilson does this goofy “X” symbol with his hands after each save, which Blake mocked in the dugout after yesterday’s game-tying extra inning home run, and now Wilson is offended because the symbol partially represents his faith and his late father.) As Kensai says, if Blake was knowingly mocking Wilson’s faith and family, then yeah – that’s not cool. But it sure seems as though Blake didn’t know that at all, and was just goofing on a stupid hand motion, which is unquestionably funny.

Besides, Wilson seems like a bit of a wingnut, even to some of his teammates:

I asked him about teammates dropping the X, including Omar Vizquel who does it every time. (Omar doesn’t know what it means. “I just like him because he’s crazy,” Vizquel said.)

Brian, maybe you should get over it. Oh, and it’s nice that you made the All-Star team and got 41 saves and all last year, but a 95 ERA+ and a 1.444 WHIP isn’t much to get worked up about. (Admittedly, he’s been much better this year.)

* Either fielding stats are still completely wonky, or we really do watch every game through blue-colored glasses. Or both.

I’ve always considered Andre Ethier to be a pretty decent right fielder, though I think in my heart I knew he was never as good as I thought he was. At second base, Orlando Hudson has looked great, though with a similar disclaimer in that it’s not all that hard to follow four years of Jeff Kent and look good. But man, does FanGraphs and their UZR rankings disagree with us…

The White Sox, Dodgers, Nationals, and Red Sox make up the bottom of the league. I’m just as surprised as you to see the Red Sox ranking low. So far Jason Bay (-8.2, the lowest in the majors amongst qualified players), Julio Lugo (-2.4), Mike Lowell (-2.3), and J.D. Drew (-2.2) are killing them. The team leader is Kevin Youkilis at 1.4 runs. As for the Dodgers, Orlando Hudson and Andre Ethier are sinking them. You hate to make assumptions based on these small of sample sizes for defense, but if it holds up over the long haul then it’s time to proclaim Hudson’s run as an excellent defender over.

The comments to their post are littered with suggestions that small sample size warnings apply even moreso to defensive ratings than offensive, but still: a big surprise to see that about Hudson.

Buster Olney, you’re too smart to be parroting the mainstream media line like this.

The absence of Ramirez has been acutely felt by the Dodgers, who are 1-3 since the outfielder was suspended.

Fact: the first of those losses was due to a total disaster by the bullpen, not because the offense “only” put up nine runs. The ’pen doesn’t implode like that, and you’re not complaining about the team being 2-2. Besides, as much as I hate to admit it… 

Credit where credit is due: Juan Pierre’s been outstanding.

Obviously, a .991 OPS isn’t going to stick for Juan. Nor is .891, .791, or .691, which he hasn’t even reached since 2006. But for as much as I bag on him around here, it’s only fair to give him credit when he’s doing well, and 9-16 with 2 walks and 0 K’s in the 4 games since Manny went down is pretty impressive. No, there’s no prayer of him keeping anything like this up, but you can’t point at left field in the post-Manny era as being an enormous black hole. Yet.

It’s the Guillermo Mota lightning round:

1) Why does no one care that Mota also got a 50-game ban for steroids? Hey, Bill Plaschke and Kurt Streeter: if you two jokers want to get up on your accusatory high horses about how the fans of Los Angeles are idiots because no one seems to be as upset as you two about Manny’s steroid test, maybe one of you could have ever once mentioned that the Dodgers currently employ one of the few players to go down for 50 games previously. So tell me, Bill, why aren’t you calling for Mota to be banned from baseball for life like you are for Manny? Is it because no one cares about Mota and writing about him won’t sell as many headlines for your dying industry? Nah, I’m sure it couldn’t be that. 

2) Why is Mota still on this team?

Let’s go back to my thoughts from when Mota was signed:

Let’s look at this fun “Gee, You Think Steroids Helped?” timeline:

2006, April-August: 6.21 ERA, 1.699 WHIP for Cleveland. Mota, your stats… woof.
2006, August 11: DFA’d by Cleveland.
2006, August 20: Acquired by the Mets.
2006, August-Septmber: 1.00 ERA, 0.833 WHIP for the Mets.
2006, November 1: MLB announces a positive test from “sometime” during the 2006 season and hands down a suspension.

Gee. You think steroids helped?

At the moment, I don’t care whether Mota is hopped up on steroids, PCP, or Yoo-Hoo, because whatever he’s doing, it just isn’t working. After giving up 6 hits and 3 runs in just 2 innings to blow yesterday’s game in extra innings, his ERA now stands at 7.42 and he’s given up multiple runs in 5 of his 14 appearances. He’s 35, and his WHIP is 2.175. I don’t care about his contract – it’s over. Really, if the team ever gets down below 13 pitchers, he ought to be the man to go. Will he be? I doubt it. 

We’re coming to get you, Chan Ho!

Hey, remember when we said it was a big mistake for Chan Ho Park to leave the only team with which he’s found success to go to a hitter’s park in Philadelphia? Well, predictably, Park is 0-1 with a 6.67 ERA with the Phillies and is on the verge of being dropped from the rotation. So I’m hoping that the big offense of the Dodgers can help him with just that. Good series, though – after Clayton Kershaw vs. Park on Tuesday, you’ve got two old lefties in Randy Wolf and Jamie Moyer on Wednesday, and then a fantastic matchup of Chad Billingsley vs. Cole Hamels on Thursday afternoon.

Should be fun.

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