First Half in Review

As the second half kicks off tonight, let’s take a quick look back at the first half and issue some grades. (I actually got requests for these on Twitter. Ha!) These are slightly condensed compared to years past, but you only want to read so much of my garbage anyway.

Remember, these are totally subjective opinions of one man, and they reflect only what was expected from the player before the season – they’re not meant to compare them to other players on the team or in the league. I say that so no one thinks I really consider Jeff Weaver more valuable than Chad Billingsley.

Hong-Chih Kuo. He’d get at least a B just for still being able to pitch with his history, but he’s dominating out of the pen in a way we haven’t seen in years. Still hasn’t allowed a hit to a lefty since last season. I’m pretty sure George Sherrill allowed three hits while I was writing this sentence.

Clayton Kershaw. That’s A for Ace. ACE. ACE. Tied for 6th in lowest batting average against, and the only one of the guys ahead of him who didn’t make the All-Star team should have – Mat Latos.

Juan Pierre. Wait, what? Oh, that’s right. He’s got a .615 OPS for the White Sox, and John Ely (and much less so, Jon Link) has been a huge contributor for the Dodgers in a time of need. This is without question the most valuable Juan Pierre has ever been to the Dodgers.

Rafael Furcal. Docked slightly for the missed time, but I did already call him the best shortstop in LA Dodger history, so there’s that.

Jamey Carroll. Hey, I’ll admit when I’m wrong, and Carroll’s been so much better than I ever expected he’d be. His OBP is stellar and his steady play at SS during Furcal’s absence prevented the kind of “Angel Berroa, 2008″ disaster which could have sank the entire season. That said, if someone’s actually looking to trade something of value (like a pitcher) for him, you do it ten times out of ten.

John Ely. Kind of funny to give an A to someone who got demoted before the break, right? Well it doesn’t matter. He could not pitch another inning for the rest of the year, and it wouldn’t diminish the excitement he brought out of nowhere when the starting rotation was at it’s lowest.

Jeff Weaver. Once again, a non-roster invite, and once again, a reliable jack-of-all-trades in the bullpen. If anything, he’s actually been better than last year (dig the lower WHIP). He’s not flashy, but he’s provided value from basically nothing.

Travis Schlichting. I jinxed the poor guy’s scoreless streak. Least I can do is give him an A. Now can someone please update his Wikipedia page so that the picture is no longer of him as a Devil Ray (yes, Devil) third baseman?

Jonathan Broxton. Broxton’s awesome. Refute me, and be wrong. He’s only knocked down a peg because that Yankees debacle was so public and gave so much unneeded fuel to his detractors, which I could certainly have lived without.

Andre Ethier. Kicked down only because of his missed time and mediocrity since returning, but holy hell was he on fire before he got hurt.

James Loney. The power’s still not there, and I don’t know that I really expect it to come any more. That said, his .803 OPS would be nearly a 50-point improvement over last season, and his OPS has improved each month of the year. So for this season, on this team (with three top bats in the outfield)? He’s fine. But as arbitration costs go up, and as Manny’s going to get replaced with someone less productive next year, he may not be worth the price going forward. For now, he’s having a nice year.

Carlos Monasterios. I still don’t know how he’s getting by with a 4.5 K/9, but this is a guy none of us had heard of when he was acquired in the Rule 5 draft. Most kids who jump from A-ball to the bigs via Rule 5 either get sent back immediately, get torched in the bigs, get hidden on the DL with a phantom injury, or some combination of the three. Monasterios not only has stuck but has been decently effective, even while being forced into a few starts. That’s impressive.

Chad Billingsley. Oh no! Run! Chad Billingsley doesn’t have “it”, the undefinable existential quality that all great pitchers have! Trade him! Cut him! Kill him! Oh, what’s that? By many standards, he’s having one of the best seasons of his career, because 3.2/9 is his lowest walk rate ever, and his 3.40 FIP is comparable to his 3.35 2008 mark when he won 16 games? Nah, facts bore me. I’d rather indiscriminately say that he’s got mental problems.

Hiroki Kuroda. Hey, he’s stayed healthy, and on this squad that counts for something, right? He’s been more hittable than in previous years, but he’s also striking out more, and his ERA+ is an even 100. I’ll take it.

Vicente Padilla. Such a hard grade. Missed so much time, but has been awesome since his return. Ah hell, no gunshot wounds, no fistfights or arrests, I should probably have given him an A+. Why do I feel like I’m about to take a beanball?

Manny Ramirez. Manny rightfully loses credit because he’s missed a lot of time, but the claims that he’s finished are laughable. His career OPS is an even 1.000, and at 38 he’s got a .937 OPS, which leads the team and would be 12th in MLB if he had enough plate appearances. Damn those pesky facts getting in the way of a good story!

Justin Miller. He was going to be lower, but then I remembered that he was a non-roster guy who’s striking out 11.4 per 9. Even though he’s struggled lately and constantly seems on the verge of losing his job, that’s nice performance from a guy you invested nothing in.C+
Blake DeWitt. The nearly complete lack of power is concerning, and I’m still not convinced he’s the long-term solution at 2B. However, his defense has definitely improved since the beginning of the year – he’s clearly put a lot of work into it – and his OPS has improved each month of the year. Still plenty of room for improvement here.

Casey Blake. This is kind of an average between “Casey Blake = D” and “Casey Blake‘s Beard = A+”. So C it is.

Matt Kemp. This is another one of those tough grades, but only because we had such high hopes for him. Benching or no, it’s hard to ignore the obvious regressions in baserunning, fielding, and plate discipline. On the other hand, those who consider his season a disaster are way off base; he’s going to hit 25-30 homers and he’s got a 113 OPS+.

Reed Johnson. This is basically what we expected, right? Slightly below-average offense, slightly below-average defense. That sounds about right.

Russell Martin. Can’t go any lower than this because I expected him to suck before the season started, and indeed he has. If anything, it annoys me that we have to say this is acceptable because every other catcher sucks, too. I just still can’t believe I actually wrote this in reviewing the 2008 first half:

Without question, the best offensive player so far. There were actually some inane stories out there that I won’t even subject you to linking to saying that he’s been off his game this year, but that’s mostly thanks to his very slow start to the season, hitting .197 as late as April 20th. But you know what? Martin’s actually having the best offensive year of his career overall. His 118 OPS+ is up 5 from last year, and while his slugging % is down slightly (.029 less than last year), it’s more than made up by his exemplary .394 OBP, which is actually better than Alex Rodriguez, Josh Hamilton, and Hanley Ramirez. Plus, he plays third base! What can I say? This guy’s the heart and soul of the team. He’s the best player, and he never complains. Love this guy. Love him.

Ugh. Not enough facepalms in the world. Seriously, I wish I was on fire right now.

Ramon Troncoso. Blame Torre if you want, and that’s certainly part of it, but just read this post from June and remember that this isn’t as shocking as it seems. Still, don’t forget how valuable he was in April when the staff was falling apart.

Ronnie Belliard. Remember the excitement he brought after coming over via trade last year? So far the only interesting thing he’s done was get weighed daily in camp to see if he’d made his number. He’s also got one hit in his last 27 at-bats. When do we start calling for his job?

Ronald Belisario. We still don’t know the true extent of his situation, but has proven to be absolutely unreliable. Obviously, you hope he can overcome whatever’s causing his issues. Does he still have a future in LA? Hard to say.

Charlie Haeger. What can I say, I had the highest of hopes for Haeger, and he disappointed. Was his foot injury really that serious? Who can say. All I can cling to at this point is that he’s still just 26, which is an infant in knuckleball terms – and that in his last three AAA outings, he’s got a line of 14 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 11 K, 8 BB. It may not be until September, or next year, but he’ll get another shot in the bigs. I just hope it’s with the Dodgers.

George Sherrill. All-Star to waivers in the space of a year. Just unreal. Like Haeger, I bet we haven’t seen the last of him, because no one’s claiming that contract.

Ramon Ortiz. After predictably failing as a Dodger, he’s now getting lit up even worse for the Mets’ AAA club (18 ER in 19 IP). Nothing makes me happier, except…

Russ Ortiz. …knowing that Russ Ortiz was forced into retirement, he was so bad. I’m not even sure that’s enough, he should be in witness protection. Really, was anything more predictable than the failure of these two?

Holy god, FFFFFFF
Garret Anderson. For the record, I said this was a terrible idea from day one. (Before day one, actually.) But even I never thought it’d be this bad. Remember, he’s having ONE OF THE TEN WORST SEASONS IN TEAM HISTORY, and this team’s been around since about 30 years before Vin Scully was even born. How is it okay that Sherrill gets dumped because he’s unfixable, but Anderson keeps on keepin’ on?

Brad Ausmus. One game before back surgery, but he may be back as soon as next week. Hooray?

A.J. Ellis. No, he’s not hitting. He’s also played about as much as I have. What did we really expect?

Nick Green. Hitting a robust .154 with Toronto. Boy, who could have seen that coming?

Chin-lung Hu. Hu got into three innings over two games, and didn’t even get a single defensive chance, much less an at-bat. I’m honestly not sure what you want me to say here. At least he’s hitting a (mostly empty) .300 at ABQ?

Jon Link. Link’s been up and down about five times this year, yet only has seen action in four games. Still like him better than Pierre.

Scott Elbert. Geez, I’m not sure how his season could be any worse. His one MLB appearance this year was a 3 BB, 0.2 IP disaster, he hasn’t been great in AAA (1.846 WHIP)… oh, and he basically disappeared for over a month. He’s only recently returned to Camelback to start throwing, but his future is hugely in doubt at this point.

Xavier Paul: Hasn’t really played enough to judge, but he isn’t Garret Anderson, and that alone counts for something.



  1. [...] I should be an equal opportunity naysayer and expand on the D I gave Ronnie Belliard in the first-half grades. He’s got one hit in his last twenty-eight at-bats, and he’s hitting just .220 on the [...]

  2. [...] despite hitting the DL with a minor groin strain in June, enough so that I gave him a B+ in our mid-season reviews: Oh no! Run! Chad Billingsley doesn’t have “it”, the undefinable existential quality that all [...]