Catching Up on the Weekend

After three days out in the farmland of middle America, I’m back and trying to catch up on the weekend. So what’d I miss?

The Dodgers sunk further out of the race. In losing the weekend series against the Giants, the Dodgers scored just six runs in three games – two of which came off the bat of Chad Billingsley. Headed into tonight’s series opener in San Diego, they’re just one game over .500, 8 games out in the division and 8.5 behind the Phillies for the wild card. They are, obviously, done. The Padres come in on a ten-game losing streak, but the Dodgers haven’t been able to do anything about it. At this point, the only number that matters is “17″ – that’s the current elimination number.

One bright spot from the weekend was the performance of Billingsley, however, and not just for his bat. He’s got a 1.79 ERA over his last nine starts; in many ways, he’s having one of the best seasons of his career, as he’s currently rocking the lowest WHIP, FIP, and BB/9 in his time in the bigs.

Hey, remember how many people wanted to give up on him after his rough end to 2009, claiming he didn’t have “the heart of a competitor”? Yeah, I’ll be taking some credit for not jumping on that bandwagon, thanks.

John Lindsey lives the dream! I don’t think anyone can be against a story like this; as I called for last week, career minor-leaguer John Lindsey is finally getting the call to the bigs. Read this section of Ramona Shelburne’s story, and I dare you not to smile:

“Oh man, the second [Isotopes manager Tim Wallach] told me my whole brain kind of shut down. I was hearing what he was saying, but I couldn’t even believe it,” Lindsey said.

“He went to shake my hand and I had to hug him because my legs were so weak.”

Lindsey said Wallach had initially tried to fool him by asking him to come into his office, then slamming the door.

“I think he was trying to mess with me, but [hitting coach] Johnny Moses was in the corner, trying to keep a straight face the whole time, but he couldn’t stop smiling,” Lindsey said.

“Wally told me it was the happiest day as a manager he’s ever had. I walked out of that office and hugged all my teammates, called my wife, and I haven’t stopped smiling or pacing around the clubhouse since.

“I probably won’t sleep the next three or four days.”

Lindsey probably won’t get many – if any – starts, but I hope they do give him a shot to provide some power off the bench. It’s certainly better than more bench at-bats wasted on Ronnie Belliard, right?

Also called up were John Ely, Jon Link, & Chin-lung Hu, who we all know plenty about, and Russ Mitchell, who would be making his major league debut. To be honest, I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Mitchell. He’ll be 26 before next season starts, yet he had a line of just .241/.298/.406 last year, his second season in AA. Overall, his career OBP in the minors was just .321. Somehow that was good enough to get him to AAA, where he took advantage of the ABQ environment to rake: .315/.363/.535, with 23 homers.

That’s not an accident, either; his OPS at home was 1.164, but on the road it was just .834, and it’s not like ABQ is the only park in the PCL that caters to offense, either. Still, Mitchell offers nice versatility – while he’s primarily a 3B, he also saw time at 1B, 2B, LF, & RF this year – and it’s nice to see another homegrown prospect make the bigs, so maybe he’ll make an impression and get into the mix for a utility role next year.

Jonathan Broxton blew up again. You’ve probably noticed that there’s some sort of “blog war” brewing over Broxton. (Yes, it’s the nerdiest war in history.) To be honest, this whole thing is pretty stupid. Is there really anyone who’s saying that Broxton isn’t pitching terrible right now? Of course not; since the June 27th disaster against the Yankees he’s been tuned up to an .861 OPS and a 7.71 ERA. Whether there’s an injury (his velocity is down) or a mechanical issue (his movement and control are horrible), there’s clearly something wrong. So if you want to jump on Broxton for being awful right now, I certainly won’t be refuting you.

But let’s just not to pretend that he’s the biggest or only problem with the 2010 club, as though the mediocre offense (15 shutouts, more than any other club), lousy defense, questionable management (time wasted on Garret Anderson & the Ortizes, plus everything Joe Torre does), and multitude of injuries (Furcal, Manny, Ethier, Martin, etc.) had no impact at all. Are the Dodgers in better shape if Broxton was pitching like he was in 2009, or the first half of 2010? Sure they are. But close enough to be a serious playoff contender? No, probably not. Broxton hasn’t helped, but he’s far from the #1 problem with this team.

Clearly, there’s something wrong with Broxton, and that’s been proven no matter what inning he appears in – and let’s not forget that he was basically the best closer in baseball for the first three months of the season. I think we’d all do better to try and figure out what the problem is rather than cast aspersions on the man’s tenacity or bravery, no?

Jay Gibbons is making his case. If you look at #5 on my list of things I wanted to see over the rest of the season, you’ll see “finding out if Jay Gibbons is worth a roster spot for next season.” So what happened? Gibbons got the start on Saturday and collected his third homer of the season. Someone remind me again why it took so long to get rid of the corpse of Anderson and get Gibbons up here – not like many of us hadn’t been calling for just that for months – because I sure as hell can’t come up with a good reason.

The “Tim Wallach” watch is starting to heat up. Kevin Baxter’s LA Times profile of Wallach contains a piece that practically jumps off the page:

Wallach says he interviewed for a big league job once, making the short list before the San Diego Padres decided to go with Bud Black four years ago. But he says it’s a good thing he didn’t get that job because the last two years in Albuquerque provided an invaluable apprenticeship.

“If I hadn’t done this, I would have been overmatched in the big leagues,” Wallach says. “I made a lot of mistakes because I was not ahead in the game. You have to be a couple of innings ahead, six hitters ahead.”

If that doesn’t shout “Don Mattingly has no managerial experience” in big neon capital letters, I don’t know what does. Also noted within that article is that fact that Ned Colletti understands that if Wallach isn’t the Dodger manager in 2011, he’ll likely be with another organization.

If so, that would really be a shame. Really, I’m just about completely on-board the Wallach train right now. He has managerial experience; Mattingly doesn’t. He hasn’t “learned” at Torre’s feet for the last few years; Mattingly has. He’s very familiar with all of the minor leaguers who have passed through ABQ the last two seasons; under Mattingly as batting coach, the offense has stagnated this season.

I’m already terrified that Logan White is going to end up as the Arizona GM; imagine if he brought Wallach there as well while we’re stuck with Colletti and Torre/Mattingly?

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  1. [...] Loney. That’s the same Russ Mitchell who’s 0-5 with a K in his first two games, and who I said I didn’t have high hopes for. Don’t get me wrong; this is a good thing, since I’ve been saying that it’s time [...]

  2. [...] and positional versatility. To that I say, why? I didn’t have very high hopes for Mitchell when he was recalled, and he didn’t do much to change that perception by getting just six hits in the bigs without [...]

  3. [...] and positional versatility. To that I say, why? I didn’t have very high hopes for Mitchell when he was recalled, and he didn’t do much to change that perception by getting just six hits in the bigs without [...]

  4. [...] was recalled on September 6, after rosters had expanded, and at the time I didn’t think much of him: To be honest, I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Mitchell. He’ll be 26 before next season starts, [...]

  5. [...] made the decision to keep him on the farm in favor of Anderson look all the worse. Or as I said on September 6… If you look at #5 on my list of things I wanted to see over the rest of the season, you’ll [...]

  6. [...] for Mitchell, it’s no secret that I’m not a fan, claiming last September that his mostly underwhelming minor league career was inflated only by the friendly confines of [...]

  7. [...] I’ve never thought much of Mitchell, dating back to what I said when he was first recalled in September of 2010: To be honest, I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Mitchell. He’ll be 26 before next season starts, [...]