John Kruk Has the Vapors

There’s a lot going on today, so let’s get to it. The quick ones, first:

* Clayton Kershaw is awesome… even though the Mets lineup is a joke right now. I had a whole post planned out about how “he’s no longer a prospect, but a quality major league pitcher”, and then Dodger Thoughts beat me to it. Just look at the ridiculous numbers:

  • In his past five starts, he has allowed two runs in 29 2/3 innings for a 0.61 ERA with 32 baserunners against 33 strikeouts.
  • Since May 1, Kershaw has allowed 17 earned runs in 72 2/3 innings for a 2.11 ERA with 91 baserunners against 69 strikeouts.
  • For the season, Kershaw has allowed 34 earned runs in 93 2/3 innings for a 3.27 ERA with 115 baserunners against 95 strikeouts.

Unreal – you could have made a case for him to be on the All-Star team as well, probably. So what have we learned here? Mostly that there’s no need for worry when you hear people mentioning his name in trade ideas for guys like Roy Halladay. Of course the other teams would ask for him, because, why wouldn’t they? There’s a higher chance of Michael Jackson moonwalking on the moon than there is of Kershaw getting dealt right now.

Oh, and, he’s 21 and still has a lot to learn in terms of pitch economy. So it’s only going to get better from here. Yes, please!

* Of course it’s stupid for Matt Kemp to be hitting 8th. In a lot of ways, Kemp’s been the best Dodger hitter all year. No, he’s not as dangerous as Manny, but Manny hasn’t been here all season. No, he doesn’t have as many homers as Casey Blake or heroic walk-offs like Andre Ethier, but he hasn’t slumped as badly as they have either. If anything, with his speed he should be leading off, because you want a top hitter to get more at-bats, not fewer. I’ve just never touched upon it because it seemed so disgustingly obvious, and it seemed a little nit-picky about the best team in baseball. That said, FanGraphs couldn’t be more right:

The bottom of the order in the National League is reserved for pitchers and usually the worst hitters. This season, the average 7-9 slot is occupied by a non-pitcher hitting .249/.320/.381 – the equivalent of Luis Castillo. For whatever reason, Joe Torre has decided to up the ante for those lower-hole hitters by placing Matt Kemp in the tier – the same Kemp with a higher OPS than Ryan Howard.

The article is actually kind of short for FanGraphs, but I think that just speaks to the larger point of how braindead a decision it is.

* John Kruk is just the worst. Can’t find the video, unfortunately, but John Kruk went on a pretty nice rant on Baseball Tonight about Manny getting tossed from last night’s game. Now, I understand that Manny’s not the most popular cat in the sporting world right now, and that most of the media, sounding like the help had just knocked a spare monocle into a spot of tea, are completely out of touch with how most fans feel about this. What makes this noteworthy, though, is how completely inaccurate the Krukster is.

The objection of Manny Ramirez, to me, makes absolutely no sense.

manny-balloffplate.jpgJust look at where this pitch is – it’s closer to LaGuardia than home plate. Plus, Manny had been called out on a very questionable third strike earlier in the game. You don’t think Manny had a legitimate beef there? Even the Mets broadcasters on SNY were incredulous about the poor call – one going so far as to wonder if umpire John Hirschbeck was striking back at Manny’s cheating by doing him no favors at the plate. Because, what better way to protect the integrity of the game than by ruining the integrity of the game?

Look, if the Los Angeles Dodgers are gonna win that division, and they’re gonna go deep in the playoffs they need Manny Ramirez at his best.

There’s no “if”. They are going to win the division. And Manny had three RBI last night despite only playing half the game. Are we really complaining about his output now?

He had a chance to play ten games in the minor leagues. Instead, he elected to just play five.

…so? Besides, wasn’t everyone whining that Manny was even allowed to play minor league rehab games? So last week, it was “wahhhh, why is Manny allowed to play in the minors?!”, and this week it’s “wahhh, Manny didn’t play enough games in the minors.” Because… that makes complete sense.

He had to sit out Sunday’s game against the San Diego Padres because he had a little bit of a leg issue.

It was a day game in hot San Diego, against one of the worst teams in baseball. He didn’t have “a leg issue” – he’s a 37-year-old coming off a two-month layoff, and the Dodgers have a huge lead in the division. You’re going to run him into the ground because…

He needs to play more games.

Oh, my mistake. I hadn’t realized that the All Star Game is now an end-of-season celebration, and that the playoffs start on July 15. Oh? What’s that? Manny’s got three more months to get his legs under him? Hey, John – it’s July 8th. Get a grip.

To get thrown out when he needs at bats, he needs to get his timing, and he needs to play the outfield to prove to Joe Torre that he’s ready to play nine innings… and he gets thrown out in the 5th inning of the game against the New York Mets. It makes no sense.

In the three games Manny’s started since his return, he’s 3-10 with a homer and 4 RBI. I think he’s going to be okay. I like how Kruk is framing this as though Manny made a conscious decision to get tossed from the game. As though even the other team’s announcers weren’t agreeing that it was a horrible call! Besides, how often does Manny really play nine innings anyway? He’s 37 and a poor defensive outfielder. Why wouldn’t you want to replace him on defense in the late innings with a lead as often as you can – and with the Dodgers winning so much, they often do have a lead. Again: it’s July 8. There’s time.

It just goes back to a lot of the stuff that happened in Boston last year. All he care about is himself, he doesn’t care about the team, and whatever’s best for Manny is best for Manny – and not what’s best to help his team win.

Oh good lord… seriously? JOHN. DID YOU EVEN WATCH THE GAME? Manny got 3 RBI and the Dodgers cruised to an easy victory! How is that not helping the team win?! Not to mention, what upset him so greatly was a terrible call that hurt the team, because Manny was up with the bases loaded and could have blown the game open right there.

I understand that we’re talking about an ESPN commentator here, and that the bar needs to be set understandably low, but this has to be one of the most inane things I’ve ever heard them say. Considering the source, that’s saying a lot.