Full disclosure: I spent most of tonight out sharing drinks with some friends, old and new, from Baseball Prospectus, Heater Magazine, and elsewhere, so I only caught the last two innings of tonight’s game. With it pushing 1am here in the East and work looming in the morning, it’s time to turn to every blogger’s favorite crutch: the lightning round.
I’m running out of adjectives to describe Andre Ethier. After three more hits and two RBI, he’s now up to .393/.452/.732. He’s leading all of baseball in batting average, slugging percentage, and OPS, and by quite a bit. We’re getting far enough into the season to almost consider this less of a “hot streak” and more of a “damned good player having a career year.” Of course, every hit increases the chance that the Dodgers won’t be able to afford him when he hits free agency after next year 2012. Hooray? Still, that’s a worry for another time, because what Ethier’s doing right now is historic, at least in Dodger terms.
Is this the most depressing seven-of-ten winning streak ever? A 70% clip will get you pretty far in baseball, but I’ll be damned if it feels that way. Then again, that’s what happens when you don’t know who’s starting the next night’s game half the time and those three losses have all been thanks to absolute disaster starts. While I think the negativity around here is well deserved, I also think it’s important to realize that this team is playing awfully, yet is still coming up with wins. Should they ever be able to put it all together at once, you might yet see something special.
What the hell is Joe Torre’s deal, part one? I love that Chad Billingsley was able to pull it together and get the win after his rough first inning the last time out. But he was clearly upset when leaving the mound, and I don’t blame him. He’d thrown only 90 innings, and while he certainly wasn’t Kershaw-level dominant, he was also up 4-1 when he left. Yes, he had put two men on base. But when you hear nonstop that Billingsley never works into the 7th inning… well, it’s pretty hard to do that when Torre apparently requires a no-hitter to be active before letting Billingsley get that far.
Garret Anderson may actually be dead. After another weak out today, his line is .122/.154/.204. That’s a .358 OPS. His OPS is almost 40 points lower than Ethier’s batting average. Can we please, please, please cut the cord already?
What the hell is Joe Torre’s deal, part two? Jonathan Broxton began warming in the 8th inning, with the Dodgers up 4-2. Fine. Yet the Dodgers put up 3 in the top of the 9th after RBI hits by Loney, Blake, and DeWitt, so Broxton sat down. Also fine. Yet with a five-run lead, who comes in? Not George Sherrill, who’s been horrible. Not Carlos Monasterios, who for all his success is still a Rule 5 pick. No, Torre inserts Ramon Troncoso, now on pace for over 90 games this year. I can’t even begin to explain how boned this team is if Troncoso, the most vital non-Broxton reliever, breaks down, so you’d think you’d want to save him for important situations. But wait! This gets better. Troncoso walked Chris Young, and then gave up an RBI single to Rusty Ryal… which gets Torre to warm Broxton up again.
Troncoso, of course, got the final three outs in the next two batters thanks to a strikeout and a game-ending double play. So Torre managed to work out both of his best relievers… in a five-run game. All this, while guys who practically have middle names of “put me in only in five-run games” sat and watched.
You’ve probably seen the stories floating around recently that say if the McCourt situation doesn’t get sorted out, Torre may not want to come back. Are we sure that’s such a bad thing?