The Process Was Good, Even If the Results Weren’t

The Dodgers, as you probably noticed, did not win last night, dropping them down to .500. That’s not all that unexpected based on what we thought coming into the season, because this team just isn’t built to withstand a poor performance by the starter (and Ted Lilly and his declining velocity is about one more lousy start from getting his own post on whether I should have been harder on his contract than I already was) and an oh-fer by Matt Kemp. Without Rafael Furcal, and with Juan Uribe and James Loney sucking in a fashion not generally seen outside of the darkest corners of the internet, it’s going to take more than the occasional Rod Barajas homer and a few lucky hits by Aaron Miles to help this team score runs.

That’s not the point of today’s post, however. I have always been of the mindset that the process is more important than the results, because if you make wise decisions in your process, the results will come. For example, if Ned Colletti traded Jerry Sands for Jose Lopez tomorrow, and Sands immediately suffered a career-ending injury while Lopez hit a few dingers for the rest of the year, the end result may be that the Dodgers got more value, but the process would have been so horribly flawed that there’s no defending it.

It’s with that in mind that Don Mattingly should be commended for his lineup choices last night, even though they didn’t, you know, work. For months – years, maybe – I’ve been dying to both take Loney out of the lineup against lefties and have Casey Blake play first base in his stead. Blake, I’ve long argued, should not be an everyday third baseman, and would be much better served as a utility player who steps in against lefty pitching. Not only did Mattingly do that, he also then shifted Blake to left field in 8th inning as part of a double switch, showing that he’s willing to move Blake around if needed. Blake may have only went 1-4, but the process in terms of getting him in over Loney against a lefty was sound.

Also serving as a positive for Mattingly was that he placed Jamey Carroll atop the lineup with Miles hitting 8th, exactly the way it should be. (Well, the way it should be is that Miles would be unemployed, but still.) Again, the results weren’t there, but that’s more because Mattingly is saddled with a largely underperforming roster than anything. For once, the thought process was sound, and it’s part of the reason I already like Mattingly about 10000x more than Joe Torre.

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Christopher Jackson of the Albuquerque Examiner has been a wealth of information lately, both in comments here and on the newspaper’s site. I’ll be doing an interview with him near the end of the month on life following the Isotopes. Check out his recap of the mess that happened in last night’s game:

Second baseman Justin Sellers was hit by a pitch on his right hand in the fourth inning, forcing him to leave the game.

Three batters later, Juan Castro fouled off the first pitch from Austin Bibens-Dirkx, only to suddenly double over in pain, clutching his left side. He had to leave the game as well.

In the seventh inning, J.D. Closser, who had moved from catcher to third base to replace Castro, stumbled while trying to field a grounder. The ball bounced up and struck Closser under his left eye, leaving him with a visible bruise and forcing him out.

At that point, Jerry Sands had to move from right field to third, and with no position players available on the bench, pitcher Tim Redding trotted out to right field.

“The big question is with J.D., if he’s available or not (to catch),” Bundy said. “I guess Jerry Sands would be my backup catcher.”

First things first: is “Austin Bibens-Dirkx” a great name, or the greatest name? Sellers and Closser sound like they’ll be fine in a few days. Castro, well, I will never celebrate someone getting hurt. Let’s just say, we won’t have to worry about seeing him in the big leagues any time soon. And before you ask: no, Sands is not going to be a third baseman in the bigs. Besides, he didn’t even homer last night. What a bust! (Trent Oeltjen had two.)

Speaking of the Isotopes, you probably noticed that Ramon Troncoso was never called up yesterday despite my claim that he would be. Jackson notes that it was announced in ABQ that he’d be going up, and Troncoso was told to get moving, but then the move was canceled with no explanation. Bizarre.

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