MSTI.com’s 2008 in Review: Manager

We’ve made it! This is the last 2008 review.

Uh oh. This is the last 2008 review. Now I’ll be forced to delve into the endless Manny/Sabathia/Furcal etc. rumors that are basically the same lies repeated over and over, won’t I?

87toppsjoetorreJoe Torre (C-)
I suppose the absolute best thing I can say about Joe Torre is, “he’s not Grady Little”. Unfortunately, that’s not exactly high praise. When Joe came out to the Left Coast last year, we were told that we could expect his expertise would be of immediate help in two areas: that after years in New York, his calming influence would help a clubhouse torn apart by the “old vs. young” fracture, and that damn it, anyone who led a team to the playoffs 12 years in a row just knows how to win - whatever that means.

Now as to the first point, we did hear a whole hell of a lot less about clubhouse dischord this season, and I don’t deny Torre his due credit for that. Keeping the clubhouse calm has always been a strength of his, and that’s all well and good. The problem I have with that, however, is that I’ve never felt the clubhouse issues were as bad as the local papers made them out to be. Obviously, stories of teammates that have issues with each other make for good copy, but I think the real reasons that we didn’t have such issues this year is that the elderly combatants of 2007 were either gone (Luis Gonzalez) or injured and/or ineffective (Jeff Kent), while young players like Andre Ethier were really stepping it up. How could you complain about a productive young player acting a certain way when you’re hitting .240 or on the DL yourself? It just doesn’t seem like this was ever nearly as large an issue as it’s been portrayed.

To the second point, the playoff streak Torre carries is all but meaningless to me. I can’t even explain how many ridiculous stories in the media were floating around about how Joe Torre was such a huge success for coming to LA and “showing the young Dodgers how to win”, while the Yankees missing the playoffs for the first time since 1942 was somehow proof that Torre was the man with the magic touch. The idiocy of such stories is mind-blowing to me – the Yankees were a better team in 2008 than were the Dodgers, and it’s not really even close. They won 5 more games despite playing in what was quite possibly the best division in the history of the sport and having to suffer through far more damaging injuries to the starting rotation. I’m not suggesting that Joe Torre did a terrible job (his grade is more due to how highly he was touted coming in), but let’s not forget that in 14 seasons as a manager before heading to the Yankees, he made the playoffs once and never won 90 games. Suddenly he’s a great manager once he puts on the pinstripes? No, I’d say it’s much more due to having the best collection of talent in the game, not to mention how lousy the entire division was for much of that time (remember, the Red Sox didn’t become the Red Sox until about 2003). In his first year in LA, as we’ve said many times, the division title he won owes an enormous debt to the complete ineptitude of the rest of the NL West.

I don’t mean to imply that I’m completely anti-Torre; not at all. The outfield situation alone had the potential to be a disaster of epic proportions, and that’s even before Manny showed up. How do you juggle a foursome of two talented young players, one expensive mediocre veteran, and one Hindenberg – both in terms of size and how badly he flamed out? It didn’t always work out smoothly (early in the year we had our disappointments about the lack of playing time at various points for both Kemp and Ethier) but when Kemp and Ethier end up first and fourth, respectively, in at-bats for the team I can’t really complain all that much about it. I especially give him credit for eventually realizing that Juan Pierre just was not one of the three best outfielders and finally showing him the bench without it becoming a team-consuming issue, though I imagine much of that is due to Pierre being a professional (mostly) about it.

In addition, we were all worried about what would happen once Torre got his hands on talented young relievers like Jonathan Broxton, given his propensity for running relievers into the ground in New York (which finally caught up to former Yankee Scott Proctor this year). While we have some pretty big issues with his bullpen usage, overuse wasn’t really a big problem. No full-time reliever went over 71.1 IP (Wade) or 71 games (Beimel), and that’s not that bad.  There were definitely things to like about Joe Torre in 2008.

But here’s what else we got with that. We had to have Mark Sweeney wasting a spot on the bench all year long. Once Furcal was out injured, we had to have Pierre leading off every single day despite overwhelming evidence that it was hurting the team. We had the bizarre usage of young ace Chad Billingsley in his first outing, which ruined his April – and fortunately nothing more serious than that. We had Jeff Kent continually slotted into the cleanup spot despite it being completely obvious he couldn’t handle it anymore. We had the abuse of Russell Martin and insane usage of him at third base on his “days off”, and we had Andy LaRoche never getting a chance to play despite the clear need for him. Possibly most infuriating of all, there was the insistence on using the lousiest pitchers in the bullpen in the toughest game situations.

Finally, we had the most face-blowing quote of the entire year:

“I tried to reason who was going to give me the better at-bat – Berroa or Loney,” Torre said.

It took me months of intensive therapy to get over that one, friends.

All in all, Joe Torre wasn’t terrible. It’s just that with all the glowing lights and heavenly music that accompanied him, “wasn’t terrible” isn’t exactly what we were hoping for.

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg

MSTI.com’s 2008 in Review: General Manager

Almost there! I was going to do Ned Colletti and Joe Torre together as one “management” post, but what the hell – might as well drag this death march out as long as we can. Today! Colletti! Soon! Torre!

87toppsnedcollettiNed Colletti (D)
Before we get into Colletti, let’s be clear: this is only for work he’s done between the end of the 2007 season and the end of the 2008 season. Unfortunately, this means no ragging on him in this space for Juan Pierre… probably. Ned made 5 moves that had a huge impact on the club in that time:

1) Signing Andruw Jones. Fail on an asbolutely epic level. That said, I can’t kill Colletti as much as you’d think – partially because absolutely no one saw Jones being as pathetic as he was… and partially because even we liked the signing at the time.

2) Signing Hiroki Kuroda. This worked out pretty well, but in the same sense that I won’t destroy him for Jones, I can’t really give him a huge amount of credit on Kuroda. I have a pretty hard time believing that Colletti was spending a lot of time in Japan in 2007 watching Kuroda pitch. From what I read, this one was almost entirely Logan White.

3) Trading for Angel Berroa. Look, I know the team was in a bad situation at shortstop, but come on. Angel Berroa? We were aghast at the move from the second it came down, and Berroa – despite the inane protestations of the local media – was predictably awful. I don’t care how bad things were at shortstop; there’s always a better option than Angel Berroa. Always.

4) Trading for Casey Blake. I won’t go through this yet again, because if you’re a regular reader you know how against this we were – as recently as, oh, Wednesday. Suffice to say, this deal was horrifying all around.

5) Trading for Manny Ramirez. I don’t deny how well this deal worked out. We got two of the most productive hitting months in history and we didn’t even have to pay the man. But come on. Are we really going to say this was some masterstroke of a deal in which Colletti hoodwinked Theo Epstein? Everyone on the planet knew that Manny simply had to go, and between his no-trade clause and teams being out of contention, it’s not like there was a huge market that Colletti had to compete against.

Now, I’m not going to say that Ned didn’t do anything right this year, not when we can still look at the roster and see Russell Martin, Matt Kemp, James Loney, Clayton Kershaw, Andre Ethier, Jonathan Broxton, Chad Billingsley, and James McDonald. I can only imagine the sheer number of trade offers the front office has recieved for these kids, and I commend Colletti for standing strong and keeping the young prospects right where they belong. But more often than not, we saw bad decisions rather than good coming down from the front office.

…like signing a backup catcher who can’t throw, much less hit. Or the shameful way in which our top infield power prospect, Andy LaRoche, was neglected (both by being stuck in AAA and on the LA bench) before he was traded. Or sending down Blake DeWitt when Nomar first came back off the DL, leaving no backup third baseman (other than Russell Martin) behind one of the most notoriously fragile players in the game. Or the insistence on claiming a never-was utility infielder, Pablo Ozuna, and then placing him on the playoff roster. Or allowing the Corpse of Mark Sweeney to take up space on the bench all year despite obviously superior options both at AAA and the local Little League. Or the bizarre bullpen roster decisions, like promoting Brian Falkeborg and Tanyon Sturtze. Now I understand that those bottom-of-the-roster decisions may have been influenced by Joe Torre, but you’re the general manager, Ned. At some point, you’ve got to put your foot down and say, “Look, it’s adorable how much you like Tanyon Sturtze, but I’d much rather have ballplayers who can still play the goddamn game.”

Oh – and that time you traded one of the top catching prospects in baseball for CASEY FUCKING BLAKE. Have I brought that up yet?

Really, in the final accounting, you need to ask yourself this question: Is there any way that Ned Colletti still has his job if both of the following two improbable conditions didn’t apply: 1) A once-in-a-lifetime situation where a Hall of Fame slugger is dropped into your lap, and 2) a division that featured zero teams that won more than 84 games. If Manny doesn’t miraculously appear, the Dodgers finish under .500. If the Dodgers play in any other division, they finish at least 6 games out (and that’s without even taking into account that in any other division, they wouldn’t have been able to play patsies like San Diego, San Francisco, and Colorado so often). And I truly believe that if the Blue had finished under .500 and/or been unable to make the playoffs, Frank McCourt would have shown Colletti the door. I understand that all the injuries weren’t his fault, but still, if you’re almost certainly being fired if not for the confluence of two historically unlikely events, I have a hard time saying you’ve done a good job.

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg

MSTI.com’s 2008 in Review: Secondary Relievers

Yeesh. This is the review I was dreading, partially because there’s only so much you can write about guys who threw about six innings for the club this year, but partially because it’s a little worrisome to think that our readers might not really want to read an entire post on the dregs of the bullpen. That said, if we didn’t do it this way, we’d have had 11 relievers all bunched together in one post. On we go! No grades here, because they all fall under the “incomplete” heading.

87toppsbrianfalkenborgBrian Falkenborg
(2-2, 6.17 ERA, 1.286 WHIP)
Nothing sums up “Brian Falkenborg” more than the fact that when I did an AP image search for him, of the first eight results I got, one was the picture you see in the card, one was a shot of him fist bumping his San Diego catcher… and six were pictures that he wasn’t even in, but were tagged with his name because they were of other teams celebrating with a caption that inevitably ended “…with the game-winning hit off reliever Brian Falkenborg.”

Actually, for a guy who only pitched 11.2 innings (and somehow picked up 4 decisions in that time) in his second go-round in LA, we sure did talk about him a lot. To be fair, most of our problems with the Brian Falkenborg era weren’t with Falkenborg himself; we all know he’s just not very good, and it came as a surprise to no one that when he got a chance he didn’t really do much to change our minds. No, our problems were mostly with Ned Colletti and Joe Torre for even allowing Falkenborg to be on the roster in the first place. I mean, this is the very first mention of Falkenborg I could find on this blog:

On the other hand, they called up Brian Falkenborg, who already failed in one try with the Dodgers (7.53 ERA in 14.3 innings back in 2004) and has never really had any success in the bigs (5.74 ERA in parts of 5 seasons), while bypassing Mike Koplove, who’s got 222 MLB games of 120 ERA+ work under his belt. I’m sure that makes sense somehow… somewhere… in some reality.

From day one, I didn’t see why he was here, and according to the second post he shows up in (“But thanks to the bullpen blowing his lead tonight – and yes, Brian Falkenborg, even though two of those three runs got charged to Kershaw, it was you who gave up that three run bomb – Kershaw has now gone almost 11 months since his last professional win,”) it’s clear that his already lousy statistics should have been even worse.

I don’t really mean to make this all quotes from previous posts, but they really serve to illustrate the failure of the decision-making regarding Falkenborg all too well, because here’s the third post he was in:

Bringing in the guy who’s somewhere around 16th on the organizational pitching depth chart into a high-pressure situation despite having so many better options around. Brian Falkenborg? Really? The guy who’s been a failure at every MLB stop in his career, with a 5.74 ERA in parts of 5 seasons for 4 teams entering this year? The guy who gave up a 3 run homer in his 5 pitches his last time out? The guy who I said never should have been called up in the first place?

To put it as simply as possible, Joe Torre thought Brian Falkenborg was a better option to prevent the tying run from scoring than Joe Beimel. Falkenborg’s ERA of 3.60 in triple A was three and a half times higher than Beimel’s been able to do in the big leagues – yet somehow, he’s the superior choice here. To the surprise of absolutely no one except for Joe Torre (hell, I bet even Mrs. Falkenborg was covering her eyes when Joe walked out to the mound and raised his right arm), Falkenborg self-immolated on the mound. Sure, he got Aurilia to strike out, but then he gave up a game-tying single to Fred Lewis, walked Ray Durham, and then – because just letting them tie wasn’t good enough – allowed Randy Winn to drive in the go-ahead run.

You can blame Falkenborg here for not getting the job done. But really, there’s no way he ought to have been placed in that situation anyway. He’s the last man on the staff. He ought to be pulling mop-up duty, at best. How he gets put into a high-pressure situation that ultimately decided the game is completely beyond me.

And it’s that last paragraph there really shows the problem here. It’s not Falkenborg failing to get the job done that’s the problem here; he’s a fringe major leaguer at best precisely because he doesn’t get the job done. The problem is that instead of using him as the last man out of the pen or as a mop-up guy, Joe Torre inexplicably kept inserting him into high-pressure situations, in which no one should have expected good results.  The best part was, this kept happening for as long as Falkenborg was here (this post from weeks after the previous one):

What you don’t do is bring in veteran retread Brian Falkenborg ahead of all of these guys. Can we finally give up on the ”Falkenborg is a good pitcher” train that some people seem to be on? We’ve been pretty unhappy with him since day one (see here and here) and we’ve actually gotten some grief over it, and I just can’t understand why. Is it his 4.91 ERA coming into the game (that’s now 5.56 after it, by the way)? Is it his history of being unable to stick at the major league level? Even if you can justify him being on the team ahead of some guys we have in the minors (that’s a tough sell for me), I don’t see how anyone can say he’s any better than the last man out of the pen. Look, if we get to the 14th inning and it’s him or letting Russell Martin take the mound, that’s fine – if he gets hammered, what else could you have done? But there’s just no reason you let him pitch before every single other one of your rested and effective pitchers.

To no one’s surprise but Joe Torre’s, Falkenborg let the team down by allowing three of the four men he faced to reach base. Yeah, Joe Beimel hit Rick Ankiel to force the run in, and that was a pretty terrible job by Beimel (although he did rebound to get the next two outs with no further damage). But it’s a situation that never should have happened in the first place.

I suppose this is really more of a discussion for Torre’s review, and we’ll get there. Anyway, the point remains: Brian Falkenborg is a lousy pitcher, and lousy pitchers don’t magically improve when put into high pressure situations. Lousy pitchers DO get DFA’d, as Falkenborg eventually was. Let’s hope that after 2004 and 2008, we don’t have to suffer through this a third time in 2012.

87toppsjamesmcdonaldJames McDonald
(0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.000 WHIP)
Now we’re talking! After about 1000 words on Brian Falkenborg, it’s time for some real talent, and James McDonald has more than a little of it. Quite a 12 months for Mr. McDonald, I’d say. It was just about this time last year that he was being named the 2007 Dodgers Minor League Pitcher of the Year, and he spent most of 2008 excelling at AA and AAA, in between having to see his name in constant trade rumors for CC Sabathia, among others.

So after that, coming up to get a quick cup of coffee is a pretty good cap to the year of the local product from Long Beach, right? All the better that it was a positive experience, notching six scoreless innings over four games. Hooray! A good end to a good year. Work hard in the winter, James, and maybe we’ll let you compete for a spot next spring.

Wait, what? We put him on the NLCS roster? And brought him in against the deadly lineup of the Phillies in the Little League field known as Citizens Bank Park? With the bases loaded? Against Pat Burrell? Well, geez, Joe. What an unfair thing to ask the kid to do. He’s going to get abused, and now you’ve ruined a prospect for good. THANKS, JOE. Except…

One amazingly huge bright point, if not so much for this postseason as for next year and beyond: James McDonald. The kid – he’s still only 23, although Clayton Kershaw has skewed our perception of “kid” a little – was a last-minute addition to the playoff roster after getting all of six September innings in four games. Almost exclusively a starter in the minors, even his relief appearances for the Dodgers came with him entering the game at the start of an inning. But tonight, having not pitched in two weeks, he comes in as the fourth pitcher of the third inning of NLCS Game 2… with the bases loaded, Phillies fans going nuts, and slugger Burrell at the plate in Philly’s bandbox park. Recipe for disaster, right? But no! McDonald strikes out Burrell, and proceeds to go three more scoreless innings, striking out four others and giving up just two hits. What an absolutely phenomenal effort by this kid, and he’s really thrown his hat into the ring for a starting rotation gig next year – he’s unscored upon in 8.1 MLB innings.

Really, I hate to base anything on three innings, but that performance was one of the most impressive things I’ve seen all year. Talk about being set up for failure; if he’d given up a grand slam, who could have blamed him? Yet not only did he get out of that situation, he went three more scoreless innings in an unbelievable pressure situation in the hardest pitching park around. Can’t say enough about the kid – that was phenomenal.

I think there’s a bit of a misconception about McDonald among Dodger fans, simply because we haven’t been hearing about him as long as we have Clayton Kershaw. I’m not suggesting that McDonald is as good as Kershaw is, but we tend to forget that McDonald is 4 years older than Kershaw is. It’s not time to let him cool his heels in AAA next year, it’s time to see what the kid’s got. Judging by what we saw in October, I’d say he’s got plenty.

87toppsscottelbertScott Elbert
(0-1, 12.00 ERA, 2.167 WHIP)
I tell you what, after the procession of veteran stiffs like Falkenborg, Sturtze, and the disappearance of Jason Schmidt, I just cannot get enough young talented pitchers. Now, Scott Elbert’s stat line up there looks pretty rotten, but you’ve got to keep two things in mind before judging it. First of all, when you only get into ten games, having one of those be a “giving up 4 runs while getting 0 outs” debacle as happened to him on Sept. 17 in Pittsburgh is really going to inflate those stats. There was a lot of good in there as well – I’ll take a 22-year-old lefty who strikes out 8 in 6 innings any day.

The second reason to cut Elbert a break here is that he’s pitched so little over the last two years. A shoulder injury cut short his 2007 campaign after just three games, and missing your entire age-20 season isn’t exactly the way to get the experience you need. Despite all that, the former starter came back as a reliever to dominate AA-ball in 2008 (2.40 ERA, 1.02 WHIP) and get called up to the Blue.

After missing so much time and having a bit of a rocky start to his MLB career, I wouldn’t be completely surprised to see Elbert start out in AAA Las V.. uh.. Albuquerque next year to get some more innings in. By the way, thanks guys. Don’t get me wrong, I love having a Simpsons joke as the AAA team, but having to spell Albuquerque instead of Las Vegas every time? Killer.

87toppsyhencybrazobanYhency Brazoban
(0-0, 6.00 ERA, 2.333 WHIP)
Hey, anyone remember Yhency Brazoban? Last seen fighting with Andruw Jones over the last Big Mac? Remember that time he was our closer of the future and set a Dodgers rookie record for saves (since broken by Takashi Saito)? No? With how little we’ve seen of him over the last three years, it’s really easy to forget just how long he’s been on this team. What’s more shocking? That he was aquired so long ago that it was to bring Jeff Weaver to town to start his Dodger career, or that it was the deal that sent Kevin Brown east? How’s about this: Brazoban made his major league debut against Pittsburgh on August 5, 2004. Other players in Dodger blue that day? Adrian Beltre, Shawn Green, David Ross, and Jose Hernandez.

The thing about Brazoban is… he hasn’t been any good since those last two months of 2004. The 2.48 ERA in 32.2 innings, I liked. The 5.33 ERA in 74 games the next year? Not so much, and 21 saves be damned. Sure, he’s managed to pitch in each of the last five years, but I’m hardly impressed by the 5, 4, and 2 games he’s thrown in the last three years either, sandwiched around injuries and fatness. You want 2008? He made it into 10 AAA games and put up a 2.40. “Not bad,” you say. Yeah. That’s a 2.40 WHIP, which is brutally awful, and helped him compile that 10.80 ERA.

He’s arbitration eligible this year. Sounds like a prime candidate for non-tendering to me. Ghame over!

87toppstanyonsturtzeTanyon Sturtze
(0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.857 WHIP)
See that face Tanyon Sturtze is making over there in his picture? Yeah, that’s about the face I made every time I had to think about Tanyon Sturtze as a Dodger this year. It’s the kind of face that roughly says ”Oh no, I just ate Taco Bell, why did I eat Taco Bell, I know better than to eat Taco Bell, where’sabathroom where’sabathroom where’sabathroom.” That’s right, Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness: unafraid to make the occasional poop joke since 2007. I don’t want to put undue importance on a guy who pitched all of 2.2 innings this year, but just like with Falkenborg, it was an example of bizarre roster decisions by the management group. Let’s see…

Did we like seeing Sturtze come up?

Sturtze is 37 years old, and he actually had to start his 2008 at Jacksonville this year, which is an experience I can’t even imagine for a non-rehabbing pitcher of that age. Look, we all know why he’s here; he’s another one of Joe Torre’s unexplained relief pitcher mancrushes, despite the fact that he was never even very good for the Yankees. In his 3 seasons in New York (2004-06), he was reliably below average, posting ERA’s of 5.47, 4.73, and finally 7.59 in 18 games in 2006 before being shown the door. Sturtze hasn’t been even league average since 2001, and suffered through a brutal 4-18 campaign for the 2002 Devil Rays. Last year, he didn’t even get to taste the majors. He somehow spent time at four different levels of the Atlanta system and put up a glowing 9.53 ERA. He’s at least been better than that this year with a 4.70 ERA at Jacksonville and a 4.13 at Las Vegas, but it’s like that’s very good either. Why him to be the 42nd Dodger we see this year rather than, say, Matt Riley, who’s outperforming him in AAA by a good margin? Why not Mike Myers, who had a 166 ERA+ in 55 games for the Yankees last year and is outperforming Sturtze in the minors this year?

It seems we did not. Did we like seeing Sturtze stick over Stults?

That said, I have to ask: why was Stults sent down rather than Tanyon Sturtze? Neither had gotten into a game since they were recalled on the same day last week – Sturtze, in fact, still hasn’t pitched in the bigs since 2006. Stults has been outperforming Sturtze in the minors this season, but that’s almost irrelevant since Stults has had major league success this season – have we already forgotten his completely dominating complete game shutout of the White Sox earlier this year? In 6 starts, he had a 3.18 ERA, which is good for a 139 ERA+.

Not only that, now that Kershaw and Maddux are both in the rotation and both unlikely to go deep into games (for different reasons), the club could certainly use an effective multi-inning guy like Stults, rather than a busted veteran who hasn’t pitched in the bigs in over 2 years (and hasn’t pitched effectively in the bigs in 7 years!)

That’s a negative, Ghost Rider. Did we like keeping Sturtze over picking up another pitcher on waivers?

No, I don’t care about the Twins, and yes, the Dodgers bullpen has been excellent thus far. But the post got me to thinking – should the Blue have tried to go after Reyes? Excellent pen or not, he only has to be better than the weakest link, and when you’ve got Tanyon Sturtze on the payroll, that’s not a tough hurdle to clear. Using Gleeman’s own statistic of xFIP (basically a fancy way of predicting a pitcher’s expected runs allowed per 9 innings, independent of defense), maybe they should have: While Reyes has a xFIP of 4.33, Sturtze is at a truly awful 9.28. However, this doesn’t really mean that the Blue should have acquired Reyes; it just further proves what we’ve been saying all along – that Sturtze doesn’t belong in the big leagues at this point. Would Al Reyes be a better option for a roster spot right now? Sure he would. But so would Eric Stults, Mike Myers, Mike Koplove (once he gets back from Beijing), Matt Riley, and probably James McDonald, too. So that’s only half of the AAA Las Vegas team that’d be preferable – plus even AA lefty Scott Elbert. Passing on Reyes doesn’t really bother me; keeping an inferior option when you’ve got several better ones on the farm does.

And thus, God willing, ends any mention of Worcester’s Own Tanyon Sturtze on this blog or any other.

Finally, one more review. He’s not a reliever, but it was brought to my attention that I neglected to include Jason Schmidt in the starting pitching reviews. To which I say, he didn’t make an appearance in 2008, and I didn’t review Don Drysdale or Mickey Hatcher either. But if we must…

87toppsjasonschmidtJason Schmidt
(0-0, – ERA, – WHIP)
Sorry, this is the only picture I could find of Jason Schmidt as a Dodger. Happy?

 

(Tasteless? Oh, you better believe it. But come on. You laughed, just a bit. You know you did.)

 

(hat tip, Sons of Steve Garvey for the Dodger casket.)

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg

MSTI.com’s 2008 In Review: Relief Pitchers

87toppstakashisaitoWelcome to day… err, I don’t really know at this point, but welcome to another day of MSTI’s 2008 Season In Review.  I apologize for the delay.  You see, we are in our pre-hot stove period, but, you see, it’s me.  My outside life isn’t particularly conducive to baseball articles and so if there’s usually a gap between posts, it’s probably me not being able to get to the article I said I would.  Let’s call it: “Vin Being Vin,” if you will.  Yeah… I like that.  So before MSTI lands at LAX to beat me with a club screaming: “Friday!  You promised me this would be up by Friday, you bastard!” let’s get into the always fun world of relief pitchers…
Takashi Saito = B+
(4-4 , 2.49 ERA, 1.19 WHIP)
O.K., we might as well get it out of the way and just say it: Takashi Saito had, by far, his worst year as a Dodger.  The numbers show his worst W/L record, his highest ever ERA, WHIP, and the lowest number of K’s.  What a loser, right?
Well, no.
Now, yes, it’s true: he wasn’t quite the same awesome Saito that he was in 2007, but still, he was very good in the time he pitched in 2008.  I think in these instances, it really shows how spoiled Dodger fans are when it comes to closers: we went from arguably the most reliable closer in MLB history to a guy who isn’t that far behind in terms of being automatic (and, yes, I know I skipped Danys Baez… but he’s long repressed in my mind).  In fact, in his mid-season review, MSTI said something similar:

As for this year, there’s been some sentiment around the Internets that he’s lost it, and I for the life of me just can’t see why. He’s really had two lousy games all season, and his ERA+ is still a fantastic 201. Is it because he’s not as dominating as last year, when he had a better season than future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera has ever had? Sure, he hasn’t, but he’s still been a pretty damned effective closer, and if he’s DL’d or worse, there’s no question this team’s in trouble without him.

So let’s take a gander at the numbers: in 2008, while he wasn’t Saito 2007, he still managed to put up a 171 ERA+, and have a very good WHIP, at 1.19 (Brad Lidge had a WHIP of 1.22 this year).  His K/9 was actually better this year going from 10.91 in 2007 to 11.49 in 2008.  In other words, there was still plenty to like about Saito, this year.
However, there were obvious declines.  His BB/9 ratio went from 1.82 in 2007 to a 3.06 this year.  To get a little geeky, let’s take a look at a stat called pLI.  This is called Player’s Leverage Index.  Now what do we mean when we talk about leverage index?  Well, that’s talking about the importance a certain situation has on a game, and it’s determined by variables such as outs, inning, number of runners on base, the score, etc., etc.  So when we talk about Player’s Leverage Index, this is to show the average leverage index a player had throughout the season in games.  So in 2007, Saito’s best year, his pLI was 1.80.  In 2008, it was a bit lower, at 1.63. The interesting thing to note is that Saito also did seem to suffer a bit of bad luck this year: his BABIP went from .213 in 2007 to a whopping .350. The league average is usually somewhere between .290-.300.
At the end of the day, though, it’s hard to really get the greatest look at Saito’s year simply due to the fact that he was injured quite soon in the year.  When he was healthy he was still a very good closer: again, not the top 5 he was before, but still quite capable and enough to earn a B+.  What I do especially commend him for was making an attempt to come back.  When he went down, it was looking quite possible that he was going to have to undergo Tommy John surgery, but he fought and came back at the end of the year.  Unfortunately for him and the club, other than a few good moments, he wasn’t quite the same as we saw in the NLDS.  And while the Dodgers were still successful in 2008, he was definitely missed.
Going into 2009, I do see Saito coming back and at least giving it one more shot.  Hopefully he can return to form so we can rekindle the lovely Broxton/Saito combo in the 8th and 9th.
87toppsjonathanbroxton1Jonathan Broxton = B-
(3-5, 3.13 ERA, 1.17 WHIP)
Now it’s interesting to see how Jonathan Broxton has gradually become a bit of a lightening rod amongst the Dodger faithful.  In one circle, you have the group who argues: “That Broxton is a wimp!  He can’t handle the pressure as a closer!” and then the group who argues quite the contrary.
It is an intriguing case.  No doubt Broxton is incredibly talented and gifted with the tools he has: a 97 MPH fastball with a wicked slider.  Can’t go wrong with that.  When he is on, he is literally untouchable and my condolences if you have to face him on those nights.  On the other hand, he can drive you insane.
Nonetheless, since Broxton was primarily a closer this season, that’s what I want to focus on.
As a closer, Broxton filled in admirably for the injured Saito.  However, admirably is about as far as I’ll go.  Now this isn’t to say that Broxton was this horrible closer.  He wasn’t and many, many teams would be happy to have him as their closer.  But let’s face it: despite saving most of his opportunites (14 out of 22), he did make it an adventure in the games he did save.  Out of his 14 saves this year, only 6 of them came without allowing a runner on base.  This was also showcased in his walk totals where he walked 2 more batters this year than in 2007 (27 to 25 BB), despite having pitched 13 less innings.  In fact, his BB/9 ratio jumped considerably, going from 2.74 in 2007 to 3.52 in 2008.  To his credit, we also saw an increase in K/9 going from 10.87 to 11.48.  Still, the walks killed him many times this year and, in order to be successful consistently, those have to come down.  What also hurt Broxton were the two absolutely horrific months he had; in May, where he gave up 10 ER’s to give him a 7.50 that month and then a horrific August, giving up 7 ER’s to the tune of an ERA of 5.11.
But there is still plenty to like about Broxton; as mentioned, we saw an increase in K/9, but he still managed to have a 136 ERA+, a respectable 3.13 ERA and a fine WHIP of 1.17.  Another thing we have to remember, and it’s hard to remember when we’re on our toes in the 9th inning: even though he’s the longest tenured Dodger (damn, that’s weird to say) he’s just barely 24.  These growing pains will happen and it will be an adventerous road at times.  This isn’t to excuse him when he does screw up, but it is to say that if we’re getting this type of production from a 24 year old kid, then I do look optimistically at how he’ll perform as he gets older and gets more experience.  Also, I think arguably the biggest problem with Broxton is that he can rely way too much on his fastball and, once he does that, all they have to do is sit on it and it will go a long way (see Stairs, Matt 2008 NLCS).  Once Broxton can get more of a handle on his stuff, then watch out.
87toppsjoebeimelJoe Beimel = B-
(5-1, 2.44 ERA, 1.44 WHIP)
See Joe Beimel’s pose in that picture where he’s pointing his finger?  Little known fact: turns out during one game this year, beloved fan TroyFromWestVirginia ran on the field naked, but with a smile, towards Beimel screaming “I love you, Beimel Baby!” and so that’s actually Joe saying: “Oh My God, can you believe this?  Security, get him out of here, now!  Help!”
O.K., so maybe not.  But you’re probably wondering: for a guy who went 5-1, with a 2.02 ERA, why the hell are you giving him a B-?  You might say: “Vin, are you high?”  While the answer to that question will remain undisclosed, it is important to note that his W/L record and ERA is a tad deceiving.
So, O.K., his W/L record and ERA was good.  In fact, during the first half, he was awesome.  MSTI in his first half review:

Joe Beimel (3-0, 1.61) (A)
You know what they say about middle relievers; they’re so up-and-down from year to year that it’s a mistake to ever depend on them. Except for the third year in a row, Joe Beimel’s been incredibly reliable out of the Dodgers bullpen. His ERA is a little deceiving; while he’s clearly doing a good job of not letting guys score, his WHIP is from 1.29 to 1.42 this year. Still, 5 earned runs at the All-Star break is pretty impressive.

Well said, MSTI.  He really was something during the first half, wasn’t he?  But the second half?  Not quite as much.  After having a stellar first half, he put up a 4.76 ERA in July and 4.32 in August.  To Beimel’s credit, he rebounded well in September (0.90 ERA), but his WHIP bumped from 1.29 last year to 1.44 this year, and while his K/9 ratio went from 5.21 to 5.88, BB/9 ratio went up from 3.21 to 3.86.
Actually, the Kamenetzky Brothers over at the L.A. Times had an interesting take regarding some of the reasons for Beimel’s decline in the second half:

Beimel surrendered seven earned runs over fourteen July/August innings, allowed many an inherited runner to score and bumped his 2007 walk total despite a decrease in frames.  In my opinion, the innings drop may have accounted for the production following suit.  Joe Torre often shifted Beimel’s role from “seventh inning mainstay” to “one batter-and-out lefty,” a transition I think Beimel never adjusted to, and was often a waste of his services.

I would agree.  Nonetheless, Beimel hasn’t done anything to show that he doesn’t deserve the spot in 2009 and here’s to more of the 2006-2007 Beimel.
87toppscorywadeCory Wade = A+
(2-1, 2.27 ERA, 0.92 WHIP)
Yeah… who the hell is Cory Wade?
Well, I’ll tell you who he is.  Cory Wade in 2008 was the pitching equivalent of Blake DeWitt: in other words, like DeWitt, Wade came out of nowhere from double-A and became a fixture with the team.  Of course, there were some differences: unlike DeWitt, Wade was stellar throughout the entire year and, unlike the popularity DeWitt achieved, Wade was truly the definition of the unsung hero.
In 55 appearances this year, which translates into 71.3 innings, Wade put up a good 2.27 ERA with an even better WHIP of 0.92.  The great thing about Wade this season is that, as the season went on, he got better.  Throughout the first half, his ERA was 2.56, and topped that with a 1.93 ERA in the second half, spurred by great months in August (2.16 ERA) and September (1.08 ERA).  In fact, that’s what was so impressive about him, this year.  I don’t remember a period where he ever really truly sucked and went all Proctor on us.  The worst month he had in 2008 was July, where he had a 3.52 ERA and gave up 6 ER in 15 IP.  Not great, but not horrific.  He was also arguably our best reliever in 2008 ranking second in VORP only to Hong Chih Kuo with 22.9.  Cory was definitely our most reliable, being able to give us a good couple of innings at a time, if need be.  In other words: he was this year’s Scott Proctor, much to the delight of Joe Torre, who went to Wade very often.
Overall, though, a hell of a debut for a 25 year old kid who wasn’t expected to do much of anything, much less become a fixture in the bullpen and hopefully for the years to come.  He has great stuff and, in particular, quite the nice curveball.  Nice year.
Wade to go, Cory!

87toppsscottproctor1Scott Proctor = D-
(2-0, 6.05 ERA, 1.68 WHIP)
So Joe Torre finally did it; he finally got Scott Proctor’s arm to fall off midway through the year, having to be DL’d for a large chunk of the year.  But, in ways, I feel like I should thank Joe because there was no way to spin Proctor’s year up to that point: he was horrific.  Bad.  Abominable.  Aretha Franklin in a bright yellow teddy bad.  (in British accent) Absolutely dreary!  The Official 2008 Dodgers’ Bullpen Representative For Crapulence… little children would cry and scream “No, Mommy, no!!!!” when hearing the name “Proctor”… O.K., so maybe I’m exaggerating just a bit.  I don’t recall him being a representative for anything.
Nonetheless, 2008 is a year Scott Proctor would like to forget.  Proctor began April with a 5.14 ERA.  O.K., so just a rough month; he’ll get better right away.  Well, in May he shot back with a 6.10 ERA.  O.K., so a little concern, but you know what?  June will be good!
Scott Proctor’s June statistics: 11.05 ERA, 7.1 IP, 9 ER’s.
O.K., so maybe not?
But his arm decided to say “you know, Scotty, we need some time apart” and he was out for two months.  However, to Proctor’s credit, and the only thing that barely keeps him in D range and prevents him from getting F’d is the fact that he was at least respectable when he came back in September, putting up a 2.57 ERA and walking only 2 to striking out 10, but, alas for him, a playoff spot wasn’t to be.
While he gets a D- for his performance this year, there is no need to fret: he did come in runner up to Brad Penny for the Biggest Douche Of The Universe Award.  How could we forget this…

LOS ANGELES – For the past month, Scott Proctor insisted that his arm was not hurting. After being told he was going to be optioned to Class AAA Las Vegas on Wednesday, he changed his tune and said he has been pitching in pain.
[. . . ]
After being repeatedly asked by Torre if an injury led to his rough stretch, Proctor told him his right elbow has hurt for nearly six weeks.
“There is still no excuse. I don’t care how bad you’re hurting, you still have to go out and pitch,” Proctor said. “I don’t like the way this thing looks right now. Right now all I care about is the respect of my teammates and coaches.

As opposed to… oh, I don’t know, winning games?!  Way to put the team first, jackass.
87toppsramontroncosoRamon Troncoso = C
(1-1, 4.26 ERA, 1.28 WHIP)
Wow… Ramon Troncoso!  Doesn’t reading this part of the review just fill you with excitement?!

Snooze…

O.K., I thought so.  Still, Troncoso was another rookie inserted into the bullpen in 2008, although not quite the story Cory Wade was.  But, nonetheless, Troncoso didn’t Falkenborg himself either, going from a less than stellar 4.91 ERA in the first half to a respectable 3.81 in the second half, sparked by a good August where he sported a good 2.57 ERA.  His ERA+ was 100 even and that about sums it up; average and servicable for the role he played throughout the season.  For a person in his rookie year, not bad; here’s to an improvement in 2009, but otherwise; not really much to say about the big Tronny.

- Vin vinscully-face.jpg

MSTI.com’s 2008 In Review: Secondary Starters and Swingmen

Yeah, that’s right. “Secondary Starters & Swingmen.” Look, with 22 men having thrown a pitch for the Dodgers in 2008, we had to come up with some way to break it down over several posts, and after the main five starters the other day, these are the remaining six guys who made a start for the club this year. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I’m feeling like this part may not be as popular as the first group. Relievers will be broken down into two groups as well, and then we’ll finally be done with this eternal death march to start off the offseason.
87toppsgregmadduxcubs87toppsgregmadduxGreg Maddux (C)
(2-4, 5.02 ERA, 1.16 WHIP)
“Something’s weird here,” you think. “But what is it? And what’s with this bizarre ‘typing the story between two images thing? No sir, I don’t like it.”
So here’s the deal on this one. As you may or may not have noticed, I thought it’d be fun to kick up the pictures of each player by putting them into the greatest card series of all time, 1987 Topps. I’d gotten about halfway through when I realized that Greg Maddux is so old… that he was actually in the 1987 Topps set, complete with a ridiculous mustache. If a man is so old that he’s actually got his own entry in something two decades old that I’m referencing, then damn it, he deserves to get both of them put up here.
But I suppose that people are more interested in Maddux’ on the field performance rather than baseball card trivia. If anything, I’m imagining that people are wondering why I gave him a C, when his ERA jumped over a run after his trade north from San Diego. The truth is, sometimes ERA doesn’t tell the entire story. Much of that was inflated by two disaster starts in which he gave up 7 runs in each (on the other hand, when you only make 7 starts, being terrible in 2 of them isn’t exactly a point in your favor.) Maddux’ WHIP actually fell from 1.220 to 1.156 after the trade, which if kept up over a whole season, would have been his best mark since his 2001 campaign for Atlanta. Plus, he did put together a fantastic start – in Coors Field, of all places – managing seven innings on just 68 pitches. How many times have we seen guys barely get through 2 innings on that pitch count?
The truth is, Maddux has been basically the same guy ever since 2003. He’ll give you 30+ starts (remember, the last non-strike season in which he didn’t get over 30 starts, Bill Buckner hadn’t booted that ball yet – and Bill Buckner was a Dodger in 1969) and about 200 roughly league-average innings. That’s a pretty valuable thing to have these days, and absolutely amazing from a guy in his 40s. If Maddux was 29 with those stats (and not, you know, Greg fucking Maddux, who went 19-2 with a 1.63 ERA that year), he’d be getting a 4-year $50 million deal. Hell, I’d be happy to give him $5 million or so to come back next year to be the fifth starter, and probably that much just to have him sit next to Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, and James McDonald all year. Why not? It’s not like there’s no room in the rotation for him. Unfortunately, the prevailing thought is that he’s going to call it quits, or so said his agent Scott Boras, in between bites of delicious infant. Too bad for all of us, Dodger fans or not.
87toppsericstultsEric Stults (A)
(2-3, 3.49 ERA, 1.32 WHIP)
Ah, Eric Stults. The eternally forgotten 8th starter, except for places like here. But he gets a nice big A anyway, if only because he of all people may have pitched the single best game of the year for the Dodgers, back on June 25 against the White Sox:

Eric Stults: first shutout by a lefthanded Dodger since Kaz Ishii in 2004. There’s not a whole lot to add to this one, except to point out that it was pure domination. The Sox only managed four hits and a walk; not only that, Stults drove in a run of his own on a sacrifice fly.
In his two starts now, Stults is 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA, which is just one ER over 14 innings, and an excellent K/BB ratio of 4/1. Look, Stults isn’t a mega-prospect, and he’s not a kid. He’s 28 years old. His time, if he is to have one, is now. Let’s hope the Blue give him a shot to see what he can do.

About that last part… look, if you’ve got a lefty with the talent to shut out an American League contender, and that lefty gives up 4, 1, 3, 3, and 3 earned runs in his other starts, doesn’t that sound like a guy who’s worth a look? No, he won’t be an ace; probably never anything more than a decent #5. But probably a guy worth keeping up over the likes of Tanyon Sturtze, isn’t it? One would think. But no, after Joe Torre prematurely pulled him from a blowout win against Colorado because Stults wasn’t being aggressive enough, Stults rotted in AAA for the rest of the year, save for one token appearance in September. I don’t neccessarily want to see him anointed a starter for 2009; but I would certainly love to see what he could do if given a chance. Why do I feel like that’s never going to happen?
87toppschanhoparkChan Ho Park (B+)
(4-4, 3.40 ERA, 1.40 WHIP)
First of all: congratulations, Chan Ho, on reviving that corpse of a career you had going on there. After six disastrous years bouncing around from Texas to San Diego to the Mets, which not-so-coincidentally happened to be the six years since he’d left the Dodgers, you turned a non-roster invite into a renaissance. The 3.00 ERA in April was a pleasant surprise; the 1.93 in May was a jaw-dropper. 2.70 in June was a great help, and by the time you were posting a 2.12 in July we’d allowed ourselves to believe, in some dark corner of our minds, that you were back. That maybe Dodger blue really does hold some magical qualities, at least in your case.
And then as quickly as it had come, it was gone. A 6.00 ERA in August. 6.52 in September. A fluke? Lack of stamina from so many partial years? We might never know, because you’ve also written your own ticket out of town. First of all, by being so awful over the last two months, which only convinces your doubters that your first half was a mirage, and second, by almost literally writing your own ticket out of town: (hat-tip FNCN)

At his homecoming press conference, Chan Ho Park announced that he was unlikely to return to the Dodgers and also unlikely to play for South Korea in the World Baseball Classic. Park wants to be a starting pitcher again and believes the Dodgers would return him to a swingman role. Assuming he gets a one-year deal to start for a new team, he’d like to focus on that rather than pitch in the WBC.

Well, Chan Ho, that’s a brilliant idea! I mean, it’s not like you were just about twice as effective in Dodger Stadium as you were anywhere else in 2008. A 2.18 ERA vs. a 4.50 ERA do anything for you? No? It’s okay. It’s not like this has been a pattern that has lasted you for your entire career, with that 2.96 career ERA in Chavez Ravine. So you go right ahead, and enjoy that 4th starter role in Kansas City, or Pittsburgh, or whatever barren outpost decides to take a shot on you. Because that worked out so well the first time, leaving Los Angeles, didn’t it? Buzz, your career choices… woof.
87toppshongchihkuoHong-Chih Kuo (A+… ow, my arm!)
(5-3, 2.14 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 4 elbow surgeries)
I believe Mr. Kuo needs to get a better lawyer to review that deal with the devil. Tons of people say they’d give their left arm to be a dominating major league pitcher – they just usually make sure the deal explicitly says that they get to keep the arm long enough to have a major league career with.
Seriously though, what an absolutely incredible story we’ve got here in Hong-Chih Kuo. He’s been one of my favorites since he came up alternating blazing heat with crippling arm injuries, and then really sealed the deal with his most excellent bat flip on the back end of back-to-back-to-back homers against the Mets in 2007. But still, enjoyability does not a career make, and just as a reminder of what we were expecting out of him this year, this is what I said on March 5:

And that just as the sun rises in the East, Kuo is feeling discomfort in his repeatedly surgically-repaired left elbow. Besides, as much as I want to see him succeed, he’s got as many MLB wins as he does Tommy John surgeries. It’s insane to count on him for anything, ever.

Now if you were to tell me on March 5 “Kuo will miss most of September and the NLDS with an arm injury,” I’d probably have replied with something like “and Thanksgiving will be in November, I know.” But in between? It’s absolutely unreal how dominating he was, particularly in the middle of the season – monthly ERA’s of 1.12, 0.69, and 1.84 in May, June, and July. You think that’s good? He held fellow lefties to a .557 OPS… but righties were just as helpless, putting up only a .569. During a nearly three month stretch from May 17 to August 14, Kuo may have been the hottest pitcher in the game, allowing just 5 earned runs over 44.1 innings in that time (1.01 ERA) and striking out more than a man per inning. Even C.C. Sabathia wasn’t as good over that time (1.92 ERA), and he’s going to get about a bajillion dollars soon. Hell, maybe it was just me, but for a good part of the summer, Kuo coming in was almost as good as Manny time – you dropped whatever you were doing to watch, because you knew he’d just blow people away… and because you were never sure whether it was going to be his last pitch.
Oddly enough, he continued his long-standing pwn3rship of the Mets by tossing ten more scoreless innings, which makes his career total against New York one run allowed in 26 innings, with 26 strikeouts. It’s almost as if the homer against the Mets was a penance to make up for that one blemish. 
But what does the future hold for Kuo? He’s still just 27, and while he finally stayed healthy for most of the year, he couldn’t quite make it all the way through. (And what the hell was with that stuff about his arm turning colors when he tried to warm up? I’m no doctor, but that can’t be a good sign). He’s long said he prefers starting, because he never has to worry about warming up more than once every few days, and the thought of him in a rotation with Billingsley, Kershaw, Kuroda, and McDonald is pretty fantastic – though the Dodgers don’t seem to view him as a starting option, more than just as a spot guy. Seeing him at the end of a game would be great as well, because could you imagine having to come out in the 9th inning against this guy? Or as part of a tag-team with Broxton? I can’t think of two scarier sights coming out of the bullpen, but that does raise the spectre of injury if he’s overused, because he really is a fragile piece of china. It almost seems a waste to have such a sublime talent be a middle reliever rather than an ace starter or shutdown closer. On the other hand, if those roles causes him to be lost entirely, I suppose we ought to be happy to have a weapon that most other teams don’t.
87toppsestebanloaizaEsteban Loaiza (he puts the F in DFA)
(1-2, 5.63 ERA, 1.21 WHIP)
Yes, I know. Esteban Loaiza’s WHIP was lower than Chad Billingsley’s. I see, and I do not care. Chad Billingsley is a young All-Star. Esteban Loaiza may be mowing the grass at your local Little League field right now.
Speaking of not caring, this is about the time when I regret saying that I’m grading every player. This is particularly the case for Esteban Loaiza, because it’s already been four months since I said this:

But hey, at least for the $8 million or so the Dodgers paid him, he gave them 2 wins in 8 starts over the last two seasons before being unceremoniously kicked to the curb. Did he really pitch 24 innings for the Dodgers this year? I mean, I know he did, but doesn’t that seem like it was about 40 years ago?

So now it’s even four months past that. Frankly, I refuse to acknowledge that Loaiza was a Dodger in 2008. Or, ever, really.  Moving on…
87toppsjasonjohnsonJason Johnson (F-)
(1-2, 5.52 ERA, 1.50 WHIP)
Hey, look! It’s Jason Johnson! Look at him over there! He… sure is looking like he just gave up a big hit! You know why? Because he most likely did. Unlike in Maddux’ review, when I said that his high ERA is less important than his low WHIP, and in Loaiza’s review, when I said his low WHIP doesn’t excuse his crapulence, Jason Johnson has a high ERA and a high WHIP. Do you know why this is? It’s very simple. It’s because Jason Johnson is not very good at the game of baseball. To be honest, I have no idea how the hell he’s managed to last this long. This was somehow his 11th year in the bigs, in which he’s accumulated 1357 innings, 100 losses against just 56 wins, a career ERA of just about 5, and the thing is – he’s never been good. Ever. Hell, even in the minors he was lousy. If it’s not a good sign when you go 2-12 in A-ball, it’s really not a good sign when three years later you’re still in A-ball. Yet somehow he carved out a career that’s lasted this long despite only one year in which he could even buy a bus ticket within ten miles of respectability – and even that was a 10-12, 4.09 ERA season for Baltimore in 2001. Yes, I know that he had a better ERA in 2003, but his WHIP was 1.561, so I decree: suck on an epic level. And he’s not even a lefty! I just don’t get it.
I’ve gotten a little off track here, because this is supposed to be a review of Johnson’s 2008 with LA, not his entire mediocre career. But really, what do you want me to say? He pitched 29.1 mostly lousy innings, and even the one outing that may have earned him credit (six shutout innings in July 29) came against the AAA offense of the Giants. I suppose I’m just disappointed that a pitching staff that was ostensibly so strong ever had a place for him in the first place.
Uh… nothing personal, though, Jason.
(He wasn’t even the best Dodger to wear #54 this year!)

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg