Dodgers 5, Cardinals 3

kempethierfistbump.jpgBe
honest. If I’d come up to you before the game and said, “so, you know
how everyone’s all freaking out about how awesome Chris Carpenter is?
Yeah, well, Randy Wolf’s going to put 11 men on – five walks! – in just
3.2 innings, including loading the bases with zero out in the first,”
how would you have felt about tonight’s odds?

If you said anything other than “I’d feel like stepping in front of
a bus… that’s headed off a cliff… and is full of orphans… with
diseases,” then you’re a dirty, dirty liar, and it’s time to
re-evaluate your life.

Really, it’s Wolf’s struggles that were the story of this game. He
wasn’t good – far from it. (To be fair, saying “five walks” is pretty
misleading, as two were intentional jobs to Albert Pujols and he
was getting squeezed by home plate umpire Dana DeMuth all night.) But
despite clearly not having his best stuff, Wolf was able to
keep the messes he kept getting into from getting out of control, which
is more than Carpenter could say. Wolf’s two runs allowed came on a
ball that Matt Kemp probably should have had in the first, and a
cueball double by Skip Schumaker in the fourth.

Meanwhile, Carpenter was also not his usual self – even the outs
were hit hard – but unlike Wolf, wasn’t able to avoid the big play,
which was of course a two-run bomb by Kemp that put a point – as if
there was any question - onto his arrival on the national stage as a
big-time player.

Wolf’s line was terrible tonight, and I guarantee you’re going to
see a slew of articles in the morning about how the Dodgers rotation
issues are already rearing their head. In my book, I’m giving Wolf a
huge deal of credit for keeping this thing calm when he could have
easily left down 6-2. 

Heroes

Matt Kemp. He got a poor jump on that ball in the
first that could have prevented the first run, but more than made up
for it. If the Dodgers go quietly in the bottom of the first after the
Cards loaded the bases in the top, it could have changed the complexion
of the entire game. It’s amazing how different it feels to be facing a
Cy Young winner when you’ve just deposited a ball into the dead center
bleachers, doesn’t it?

Jeff Weaver. The man who I didn’t expect to even be
on the NLDS roster was put into an impossible spot when Wolf left in
the 4th inning. The Cards had loaded the bases with two outs, and had
just scored to draw within a run. A hit here blows the entire game
open; but Weaver got Ryan Ludwick to tap weakly back to the mound to
put out the fire, and then added a scoreless fifth on top of it.

Rafael Furcal. After a very mediocre season, Furcal
ended the year red-hot (.891 OPS in Sept/Oct). But who knew if that
would hold up into October? Well, how’s 3-4 with a triple and a
sacrifice fly RBI strike you? He could be a huge secret weapon this
month.

Every Dodger pitcher who faced Albert Pujols. When
you’re facing the absolutely-no-doubt-about-it, might-not-even-be-human
best player alive, and in five trips to the plate he comes away with
three groundouts and two intentional walks, you know you’ve done a good
job. That is how you beat the Cardinals. For the record, that’s
Wolf three times (two intentional walks and a groundout), Belisario
once (groundout), and Broxton once (groundout).

Having an awesome bullpen.
Belisario in the 6th! Kuo in the 7th! Sherrill in the 8th! Broxton in
the 9th! That’s just the scariest foursome of fireballers around, and
you haven’t even used Ramon Troncoso yet.

Including Weaver, the
five relievers combined for 5.1 innings of 5 hit, 1 run ball, a line
which could have even been better if Kemp hadn’t misplayed that hit in
the 9th. We’ve been saying it for months around here – it doesn’t
matter if your starters go deep into games in a short series with lots
of off-days when you have a pen like this.

Joe Torre. No hesitation to pull Wolf in the 4th
before things got out of hand, inevitable complaining that he’s
overworking the bullpen be damned. Clearly, you can’t ask the pen to
work 5-6 innings every night, but few things are more important than
winning a Game 1.

Brendan Ryan.
This was probably common knowledge to a lot of people, but I had
absolutely no idea he was rocking such an epic pornstar/child molester
‘stache. The sheer cojones it takes to wear such a thing puts
him squarely in the “heroes” category, and probably gets him on the
offseason list of “guys we need to trade for.”

Just look at it. Look at it. It’s glorious, horrifying, and ingenious all at the same time.

MSTI fans on Facebook. What? You’re not a fan yet? What are you waiting for? We had a pretty good conversation going on over there tonight. It’s what the cool kids are doing.

Goats

Tony LaRussa. Come on, Tony. I know you’re
notorious for this, so I can’t be surprised, but do you have any idea
how painful it is to watch you stride to the mound 12 times a night?
Did we really need to go through 3 pitchers in the 6th inning? I’m
watching this game from the East Coast, friend-o. Help a brother get
some sleep. This game didn’t need to be 3 hours, 52 minutes.

Mark DeRosa. It didn’t mean much in the course of the game, but there’s throwing errors and then there’s throwing errors. That ball he airmailed into right field from third base was at least 25 feet off the ground. Hey, keep it up, fella!

Matt Kemp.
Hey, Bison, you can hit awesome dingers off Cy Young Award winners all
you want. That’s enough to look past a bad jump that probably cost a
run in the first inning. And while not getting to the possible
game-ending ball was bad enough, allowing it to bounce past you to
allow a run to score is unacceptable. Fortunately, Broxton was able to
end it, but it should never have come to the tying run being at the
plate. That said, it was good to see him mouth “my bad” during the
fistbumps at the end.

Cashing in opportunities. This is on both teams; an
NLDS record 30 men left on base. You could say “well, that’s good
pitching not letting runners score,” but remember – you have to get 30
men on base in the first place.

TBS. I know it’s probably hard to get used to live events when you’re mostly showing reruns of Family Guy
and “Con Air”, but you realize how bad things are when the fact you’re
subjecting us to the Corpse of Dick Stockton isn’t the worst offense,
right? Because I know when I think of “playoff baseball,” I think “Dick
Stockton”. Actually, when I think of “Dick Stockton,” I think of
“Grizzlies! Timberwolves! It’s meaningless December basketball!” Or at
least I would if I gave a dick about the NBA. Which I do not. Anyway,
it’s all well and good that you point out that you realize you’re
having technical difficulties, but could you, I don’t know, FIX IT? I
was seeing jumpy video and losing audio for the entire game. Oh, and
Dick – Carpenter wasn’t “gritty” tonight. He was just lousy.  

Bill Plaschke. It goes without saying that he’s
always a goat, but I’m starting to wonder why the grumpy old man agrees
to cover a team he so clearly hates. What were your thoughts in the
first inning? Mine went something along the lines of “Crap, Wolf
doesn’t look great/Phew, he got out of it/MATT KEMP IS A GOLDEN GOD!”

Billy’s thoughts?

First error on Joe Torre, for playing
Ronnie Belliard at second base, fly ball falls between Belliard and
Matt Kemp for first Cardinal run..

Don’t
forget, tomorrow’s a 3:07pm Pacific start. So skip work, cut class,
break out of jail, do whatever you need to do. Kershaw! Wainwright!
Dodgers lead, 1-0!

Does Anyone Have a Direct Line to Bill Plaschke?

Because someone needs to get a hold of him and set him straight about the misinformation he’s putting out there. Look, it’s not that I particularly care what this joker has to say, and I don’t like having to focus on him in September of what’s been the been Dodger season in years (especially when Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier continue to blow me away); it’s just that when he’s out there in print and on television presented as an “expert”, the general public tends to take what he says as honest, researched facts. And of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

Today’s fallacy: Ned Colletti’s a failure because he didn’t get the Dodgers an ace. 

After some blathering intro about how Colletti’s box doesn’t have air conditioning and this means that he stewing in his own sweat of impending failure – or some such thing – we get to the meat.

Colletti finished his season’s work late Monday night, acquiring enough players to satisfy most of the team’s postseason needs.

All but the one that burns brightest.

The lack of an ace starting pitcher is still hanging out there, blinding and brutal.

Off to a good start. With wildfires torching much of the LA area (including close enough to Dodger Stadium to see giant plumes of smoke) Plaschke starts off with a reference to something that “burns the brightest,” that is “hanging out there, blinding and brutal”. Way to care about the people suffering, Bill. 

(Yes, I know that’s not what he means. But hey, if he can twist things around to come up with ridiculous metaphors, it’s only fair to do it right back to him, right?)

Colletti has done a masterful job of collecting every other imaginable championship piece, but none of it will work without an ace starter.

Why? Says you? It’s worked well enough to get the best record in the NL and second-best in MLB, hasn’t it? Baseball’s about more than “ace starters”, Bill. Just ask the Royals how well they’re doing despite having Zack Greinke, baseball’s best pitcher. 

Jim Thome and Ronnie Belliard will be nice late-inning threats — if the Dodgers can hold the lead that long.

Best ERA in baseball. 4th best starters ERA in baseball. Best relievers ERA in baseball, and it’s not even close. 135 more runs scored than their opponents, best in baseball – even better than the Yankees. What exactly makes you think that they won’t have leads?

George Sherrill has been nearly unhittable as an eighth-inning setup man — if the Dodgers are winning that late.

Which… they usually are. Still not seeing the problem here, Billy.

Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla are nice fourth starters — if the Dodgers are still in series contention.

So now you’re predicting the Dodgers are going to be swept in the first round or down 3-0 in the NLCS? I’m keeping this one for October.

Oh, and, guess what: you’re wrong. Padilla probably doesn’t even make the postseason roster, and Garland would be the 5th starter (behind Wolf/Billingsley/Kershaw/Kuroda) and is unlikely to get a start. Nice try, though.

The Dodgers can be confident in nearly every player at every position, except the most important player in the most tenuous spot.

Every player at every position, eh? So you’re not all that worried about the lousy seasons of Rafael Furcal, James Loney, & Russell Martin? Because if there’s any cause for concern, it’s right there. But since they don’t get a fancy newspaper word like “ace”, they’re not worth discussing. They’re fine. Got it.

Who will take the ball in their first game in the first full week of October?

Who will set the tone the way Cole Hamels set the tone for last year’s Philadelphia Phillies?

Who will throw the first roundhouse the way Josh Beckett once punched it for the Boston Red Sox?

wolfvsdbacks.jpgI’m not going to pretend that Randy Wolf is at the level of guys like that have been, because he’s a solid pitcher having an excellent year, and not more. Still, it’s hard to ignore how great he’s been this year, as he’s got a 2.80 ERA in his last 13 starts. Besides, funny thing about baseball… your pitcher isn’t facing the other pitcher. He’s facing the other offense. If the other team’s top guy shuts down the Dodger offense, as has been known to happen, it’s not really going to matter whether Wolf is excellent or merely just good.

The Phillies have Hamels and Cliff Lee. The St. Louis Cardinals have Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. The San Francisco Giants have Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain.

Is that the same Cole Hamels who’s having the worst season of his career? Declining K rates, increasing hit rates, 4.26 ERA? So let’s not pretend he’s going to be Cole Hamels of 2008, no questions asked. 

Clearly, the rest of those guys are great, but if you ask me if I’m trading the Dodgers 25 man roster for the Giants just so I can have Cain and Lincecum and absolutely no offense whatsoever, then there’s no chance of that. It’s a team game. If Manny, Kemp, and the boys don’t get it going against those top pitchers, it’s all over anyway.

The Dodgers?

“That’s what the rest of the season will tell us,” Colletti said.

So far, so-so.

Except… for all of the stats I posted above saying how the Dodgers have allowed the lowest ERA in baseball, and have the best bullpen in baseball. Funny thing how that works; if you realize your starters might only be good for 5-6 innings, you load up your pen with quality arms to finish it off. Really, am I going to be crushed if Chad Billingsley is great for 5.2 innings and we have to see a fresh Sherrill/Kuo/Troncoso/etc. rather than force Bills out there due to some bygone notion of “starters go deep?” That’s important in the regular season when you don’t want to wear out your pen. It’s far less so in October when there’s ample days off.

If the playoffs began this week, their top starter would be Randy Wolf, who has 274 career appearances but zero in the postseason.

Now this I love. Talk about not presenting the whole story. How many postseason appearances do Cliff Lee, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, and hell, let’s even throw in Roy Halladay, have? That’s right – zero. You just keep making up the story that fits your mindset, Bill.

Their second starter would be Chad Billingsley, who has disappointed the organization with his inability to either act or pitch like an ace. Not to mention, his career postseason earned-run average is 7.24.

billingsleyvsmets.jpgI won’t deny that Billingsley’s second half has been a struggle, but what the hell is this “act like an ace” business. Are you really going back to the same tired never-was-a-story-except-you-kept-harping-on-it business of Chad not throwing at people in the playoffs last year? God, let it go. Oh, and a 7.24 postseason ERA doesn’t mean much in just 13.2 innings, especially when one of those starts was excellent.

The other night in Cincinnati, Billingsley shook his head and said what the Dodgers hate to hear.

“Lately, I haven’t been able to find it, and I don’t know what it is,” he said.

Unfortunately, I can’t argue that this worries the hell out of me, but it’s sort of immaterial. There’s no way the Dodgers were getting enough starters better than Billingsley to deprive him of a postseason start, so all you can do is hope for the best with him.

Their third starter will be Clayton Kershaw, who will be a postseason ace in coming years, but not now, not at age 21, not with the sort of inconsistency that could end a game early.

“Sometimes, with young guys, you don’t know until you know,” Colletti said.

Inconsistency or not, he’s still got a 2.94 ERA and has allowed the fewest hits/9 of anyone in the entire league. Sure, there’s the chance he could go out and throw 103 pitches in 3 innings, but are you really going to pretend that a guy that talented isn’t worth throwing in October? As Colletti says, you don’t know until you know, and you won’t know until you give him a shot - and don’t forget, Bill, Kershaw has more postseason innings than Cain, Lincecum, and Lee combined.

Agreed. This is why the Dodgers should not have taken a chance. This is why Colletti should have offered more to the Cleveland Indians for Lee.

It is a failed trade that could haunt them through October, a failure of the entire Dodgers organization to either offer or cultivate the right prospects.

By all accounts, Colletti offered a package that included Midwestern League co-MVP Dee Gordon, as part of a four player deal, so let’s not pretend that the offer was a lowball. Most indications are that the Indians preferred the Phillies package of lower-ceiling players who were closer to the majors than the Dodgers package. Calling that a “failure” is a bit much; you can’t force Cleveland to like your package more than Philadelphia’s.

It could be that Colletti overvalued his kids. It could be that Logan White’s system has slowed in its development of kids.

I can’t even fathom how a man who’s watching a team with the best record in the league, fueled largely by the outstanding work of the farm system, is going to dump on Logan White right now.

Or it could be that this belongs on Frank McCourt’s desk. Remember that last summer, in an effort to save money, the Dodgers traded some of their best prospects for players — Manny Ramirez, Casey Blake, Greg Maddux — instead of just buying them.

This… doesn’t even make sense. “Instead of just buying them”? That’s not exactly how baseball works – this isn’t the supermarket. Then again, assuming that Plaschke has any clue about how baseball works is a stretch, so I’ll leave him be on this one. Besides, Andy LaRoche is hitting .244 in Pittsburgh while Bryan Morris has a 5.73 ERA in A ball, so don’t tell me that Manny Ramirez wasn’t worth that.

For Maddux, they gave up two low-minors prospects (Michael Watt & Eduardo Perez) who are still in A-ball and on no one’s top prospect list, so stop pretending as though they are. As for Blake, well, we’ve discussed Carlos Santana enough around here for my taste.

The bottom line is that, in acquiring Lee, the Phillies traded from a system that had four of Baseball America’s midseason top 50 prospects.

The Dodgers had zero players on that list.

This is so ridiculous I don’t even know where to start. Would you rather have guys on the prospect list, or guys who have been home grown and are the core of your club, like Matt Kemp, Billingsley, Broxton, Kershaw, & Martin? Of course the Dodgers don’t have anyone on that list; all of them have graduated to the bigs. And while you’re bagging on Logan White, higher than any Phillie on that list is Carlos Santana, a Dodger product.

Besides, three of the four Phillies on that list weren’t even part of the trade. Most people think the Indians got jobbed on the deal. So again, point invalid.

So Lee went to Philadelphia, where, typically for an American League pitcher going to the lighter-hitting National League, he is 5-1 with a 1.80 ERA.

And guess who could be on the mound against the Dodgers in October?

“I thought we had the guys,” Colletti said of the Lee deal. “I really thought we had the guys to get it done, but you never know how organizations value their players.”

Exactly my point; the Dodgers made a solid offer and the Indians decided, for their own reasons, they liked the Phillies offer better. What’s the problem here?

Judging from raw statistics, the Dodgers’ pitching is set, with the league’s best ERA and lowest opponent batting average.

Didn’t you just spend half your article saying how poor the pitching staff is?

But postseason pitching is about raw, period. It’s not about cold statistics as much as swagger and savvy and stuff. Even though starting pitchers work less than anyone in a World Series, it is no coincidence that 11 of the last 23 Series featured a starting pitcher as MVP.

Ah, yes. “Swagger” and “savvy” and “stuff”. As though Billingsley and Kershaw, for any of their other flaws, don’t have the “stuff” to hang with anyone else already mentioned. Also, the MVP stat is laughable, because another way to put this would be “less than half of the last 23 Series, and just 1 of the last 5, had a starting pitcher as MVP,” and that’s without even including the fact that MVP awards are completely meaningless. I mean, David Eckstein won one.

The top pitchers in championship rotations bring the heat. If that guy doesn’t emerge soon, the Dodgers will be feeling it.

The correct point of view is, “if the Dodgers offense can’t hit that guy, the Dodgers will be feeling it.”

There’s no question that Plaschke is a joke, but apparently I need to make this point for the 12038123th time: regardless of whether you want an “ace”, there was none available. Toronto’s demands for Halladay was laughable, and they made a competitive offer for Lee. What other aces did you want to go get?

I’m not pretending that I don’t wish we had a Lee or a Halladay, because of course I do. But pretending that not having them means that the season is doomed is really short-selling all of the great work the team has done so far in collecting the best record in the NL.

Update: Reader Tim points out that even ESPN’s Rob Neyer realizes how batshit crazy Plaschke is, too:

Cole Hamels is little (if any) better than the Dodgers’ best starters. Matt Cain is little better (if any) than the Dodgers’ best starters. The Rockies’ best starters are no better than the Dodgers’ best starters. The Braves’ best starters are no better than the Dodgers’ best starters.

It’s fair to say that the Dodgers can’t quite match Carpenter and Wainwright. But nobody can. Not in the National League, anyway. It’s fairly rare for one team to feature two legitimate (at this point) Cy Young candidates.

What gets Plaschke’s goat, I suppose, is that Chad Billingsley leads the Dodgers with just a dozen wins and nobody else has more than nine. Clayton Kershaw, with the lowest ERA (2.94) and (perhaps) the most talent, is just 8-7. It’s been an odd season that way. 

Bigmouth Strikes Again, Part II

Yes, folks, he’s back,.  Actually, he was back yesterday, Plaschole2009.jpg with some crap article on Manny which I’m not even going to link, but, for my own sanity, I skipped it.  But today, I just can’t resist.  I try to resist, I really do, but it’s just so hard.  It’s therapy for me, despite the fact that with the amount of columns he’s putting out lately, we might have to rename ourselves: “Fire Bill Plaschke.com.” 

Anyways, he’s back today, whining about the ace the Dodgers failed to get.  Because pissing off Dodger fans wasn’t enough, he decides to also devote his article to pissing off Angels fans too, but, for the sake of brevity, I’ll just post most of the pertinent Dodger quotes.  Ironically, his article is entitled: “Dodgers, Angels make risky bets,” but it’s not half as risky as if you actually read the whole thing.  I assure you. 

Take it away, WPS! 

Both teams have done this before, refusing to imitate the big-market
swagger of the New York Yankees, shunning the win-it-now attitude of
the Boston Red Sox, preferring to trust stopwatches instead of wallets.

Refuse to imitate the “big market swagger?”  Not opening up their wallets?  Hey Kevin Malone, is that you?  If not, then, here’s a bit of a history lesson, WPS… but… hey… do the names Kevin Brown, Darren Dreifort, Shawn Green, Jason Schmidt, J.D. Drew, Juan Pierre, and Andruw Jones ring a bell?  And, hey, I can’t even stand the Angels, but Vladimir Guerrero, Bartolo Colon, Kelvim Escobar, Gary Matthews, Jr., and Torii Hunter are all on line one.  Does it also ring a bell when the Dodgers have been, sans 2005, in the top 10 in payroll every year with payrolls very near, but mostly above $100 million?  Same with the Angels since Arte took over.  Not bad for a bunch of cheapasses! 

Oh yeah, I forgot another thing: for all of your grumbling about these two teams constantly holding back, wasn’t it these two teams who, this time last year, made the two biggest blockbusters when the Angels got Teixiera and the Dodgers got… oh, what was his name again… ah, that’s right… Manny fucking Ramirez?!  I figured YOU, out of all people, would know that, given your fetish with smearing him every chance you get since May.    

It
suits local fans who feel as if they are growing up with the kids. It
suits local bankers by keeping their payrolls manageable.

Problem is, it doesn’t do much for the local ring industry.

So a team with young kids is detrimental to the “local ring industry?”  And therefore, as WPS will imply later, that’s a reason why the Dodgers haven’t won in so long?  Yeah, because you know what I’m really pissed off at over the past 21 years?  That the Dodgers didn’t spend the 1990′s trading away MORE young talent and spending MORE money on older players and kissing away the future.  Yeah, that’s right.  In fact, Bill, there was a time when YOU were sick of it, too.  Remember in 1999, which was, of course, a year after you advocated the Piazza trade (only to go 360 on it six months later, by the way), that you got sick of the Dodgers play to the point where you yourself advocated a youth movement to get back to “winning ways?”  And that was all despite the fact that those Dodgers were in the midst of doing everything you’re advocating these Dodgers do now: establish themselves as that big market, “go for it now,” checkbook opening team.  They even had the 7th highest payroll in all of baseball that year. 

Didn’t quite help out that ring industry, did it? 

In the last 21 years, the Dodgers and Angels have combined to win only one championship.

Really?  Only one?  So given that 21 years ago was 1988, did the A’s really win in 1988 or did the Giants really win in 2002 and that guy who used to be the Iraqi Information Minister is just lying to us?  Dammit!   

During that same time, the Yankees and Red Sox have combined to win six championships.

Hey, he might be able to count after all!  Nonetheless, very deceptive, William.  Did you also remember to mention that, while those Yankee teams did have their share of veterans, they also won their championships in the 1990′s on the backbone of players like Jeter, Williams, Pettitte, and Rivera?  You know, all the guys who came out of their farm system.  Thank God you weren’t in charge, though, because since Andy Pettitte’s first two postseason series (1995 and 1996 ALDS) weren’t anything to write home about (4 ER’s in each start), you would have shipped him out.  And, remember, the Yankees of 1996-2000 weren’t the “hey, let’s spend more money than every team combined” Yankees of 2001-present.  Yes, their payroll was always near or at the top, but it was at least very close.  Ironically, this defeats your point: what have those big spending Yankees won in 9 years?   

As for the Red Sox?  I’ll concede that 2004 was largely a group of veterans, but 2007 is a bit different: what about the performances of Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Elsbury, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matzusaka, and even Kevin Youkillis, who was, for the most part, playing in his real first postseason (only 2 AB’s in 2004 playoffs)?   Does that sound like the reckless “win it now” attitude you claim they have? 

Yeah, I guess I can see your point; really didn’t do anything for the ring industry either, did it?

Billingsley has given up 22 runs in his last 26 1/3 innings and was rocked in two NL Championship Series starts last October.

And, in fact, totally rocked the Cubs in the NLDS that same postseason.  Again, why is that forgotten? 

Kershaw, still only 21, has given up only three earned runs in his last
38 innings, but his next playoff start will be his first.

Yo, Cliff Lee, here.  I’m the guy that Plaschke advocated the Dodgers should get.  But do you wanna know a secret?  Do you promise not to tell?  Cool.  Well… the truth is, I haven’t ever started a postseason game either!  Shhhhh… (whispers) seeeeeeecret… 

Billingsley was one player the Dodgers could have traded without much uproar but didn’t.

Hey, wait… something doesn’t seem right here… didn’t you just say a few days ago… 

No, you don’t trade Kershaw and, even though it’s tempting, you don’t trade a 24-year-old Billingsley.

Ah, he DID say that!  You liar!  I feel SO violated. 

The Dodgers will fight through with a starting pitching tandem of Chad
Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw, both of whom have postseason talent
but lack postseason pedigree.

Two things, here.  First off, which pitchers don’t “fight through?”  Why is it just the Dodgers?  Secondly, ignoring all the vaguery of the terms “postseason talent” and “postseason pedigree,” if WPS means “postseason pedigree” in the terms of them lacking postseason history and experience, then way to contradict the whole argument, for both Billingsley and Kershaw on their own have more postseason history and experience than either Halladay or Lee combined. So given that we’ve settled the “postseason pedigree” part of this, then that leaves us with the “postseason talent” aspect, which you say both Dodgers have.  Now, surely, you think Halladay and Lee have them too.  However, given your articles and the quote above, you seem to place a much greater emphasis on pedigree.  So, given your stronger emphasis on “postseason pedigree,” then shouldn’t it logically follow that you advocate Billingsley and Kershaw above Halladay and Lee?  

Colletti stuck with them. He will now have to win with them.

Correction: not only can he win with them, but they have won with them.  In fact, if it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. 

If Philadelphia shows up again, the young Dodgers have to keep down those pitches.

And, what, if we get to face Philadelphia, Lee gets to keep them up?  What the hell does this mean?  Only young pitchers get to keep their pitches down? 

Suicide squeezing, all of them.

Coincidentally enough, after reading through your columns, I would also advocate that you try s… oh, forget it, I’m too tired. 

- Vin vinscully-face.jpg

Bigmouth Strikes Again

Folks, meet William Plaschke Shakespeare.  William Plaschke Shakespeare, the younger, less talented and evil twin brother of the great William Shakespeare, has struck the world with more blithering non-sense and even worse hypocrisy in his latest column.

Being prepared for this moment, I must first provide you with some background…

Growing up together, William Plaschke Shakespeare was always envious of his older brother’s work. After the elder William’s triumphant successes with “Romeo & Juliet,” “Hamlet,” “Lady MacBeth,” and more, William-Plaschke killed his older brother and immediately ran away to California, thus he was his only mother’s son, and a desperate one.

After awaiting the next 425 years to find work, he was hired by the L.A. Times in 1987. Since then, he has been extracting revenge on the audience that supported his brother through his miserable columns.

So, in his latest article, Plaschke, affectionately known as just WPS, argues that, essentially, the Dodgers don’t have an ace and, if they don’t get one, then they screwed!

Let’s take a look… hit it!:

There is nobody who will take the mound on a chilly fall night and
refuse to leave until morning. There is nobody who will grab the ball
in October and refuse to give it up until November.

Well, of course not.  October is when Billingsley has his weekly canasta games, while Kershaw likes to keep tabs on his fantasy football teams.  Wolf likes to go hiking, while Kuroda likes to spend the offseason pursuing a budding rap career.  How can you blame them for not wanting to show up?

What a nice way to start this article off: blast the entire pitching staff’s character and motivations.  Apparently, Plaschke can peer into the hearts of men.  Neat trick.  But while he derides their toughness, then we get this:

There is power here, there is speed here, there is brashness and belief and as much bullpen intensity as bullpen ivy.

So, on one hand, they’re weak and refuse to step on the mound in October, yet they’re brash and full of belief?  Yeah, that really follows, William.

You win regular-season titles by using dozens of arms, but you win
championships with one, a guy who can carry the load and the pressure
and the strain.

Yeah, an ace.

Wow, so if we get Roy Halladay, not only is he going to start for us, but he’s going to relieve himself, too?!  OMG, OMG, OMG, OMG, OMG!!

Yeah, a moron.

During the last nine seasons, no world champion has had a starting
pitching staff that was ranked lower than ninth in the league in
innings pitched.

The Dodgers’ starters currently rank 14th.

During that same time, no world championship bullpen was ranked in the top 10 in its league in innings pitched.

The Dodgers’ bullpen currently ranks second.

Wait, you mean World Series winners had a bullpen, too?  But you said that all of them have this really supercool pitcher who can do it all by himself!  Liar!

Seriously, this is such a meaningless statement, but also asinine.  First off, Plaschke needs to show why starters throwing more innings and relievers throwing less innings pitched directly correlates into winning titles.  I’m not saying it isn’t a preferable thing, it is, but he assumes that as long as the Dodgers fail to meet these goals sufficiently, then they’re not going to win the World Series, because past champions met the criteria while the Dodgers don’t.  But he’s leaving out other factors.  For starters, just because the pitching has thrown more innings, it doesn’t mean that they’ll be bad innings and, despite what Plaschke is assuming, you don’t win titles just solely on pitching, much less purely on how many innings they pitched.

Secondly, not all World Series winning pitching staffs are equal.  In other words, just because you win a title, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you had elite pitching.  Three of the top four pitching teams last year in ERA were everyone else that made the playoffs in the NL: the Dodgers, Brewers, and Cubs.  The Phillies were middle of the pack.  You can also have a non-World Series caliber team and have excellent pitching (see 2003 Dodgers).  What he’s arguing just doesn’t follow.

And, yes, it’s tough to sell anyone on prospects when most scouts
believe that most great Dodgers prospects are already at the major
league level.

But, hey, this is an organization that somehow acquired Manny Ramirez
for nothing, so surely there is something they can figure out.

Plaschke is suffering from the fallacy of equivocation on the word: “nothing.”  If he means “nothing” in the sense of talent, then it’s just a false statement (see: LaRoche, Andy).  If he means “nothing” in terms of money, that’s correct, but that’s completely separate from prospects.  He’s using “nothing” in both senses or, at the very least, using it irresponsibly.

Coincidentally, Plaschke is also committing the fallacy of being a freaking moron.  Yeah, we were able to get Manny free of charge last year, and while Ned gets big props for that, that was also a huge byproduct of Boston desperately wanting to get rid of Manny with the way things were going south.

They are a pitching staff that can lead the Dodgers to the league’s
best record,

Yet somehow that makes them…

But right now, they are a pitching staff filled only with decent arms

Yeah, gotta love that.

and daring souls and just enough heat to meld together the next two months.

Why, because you said so?  And if that’s the case, then what’s the point of getting a Roy Halladay?  If our staff falls apart, then not even he will save us.  Oh yeah, that’s right, you said that these special cyborg, “ace” pitchers pitch all the time, right?  Argh, now you’re lying again.  Make up your mind, dammit!

but you know what that guarantees them? Ask the other best
teams from the last 15 years, and duck, as only one of them actually
won a World Series.

Yeah, so you know what would really help us, then?  A big 8 game losing streak!  Yeah, that’ll do it!

And it gets worse.  From the caption:

Averaging 6 1/3 innings, Chad Billingsley doesn’t qualify as an ace.

Oh geez, so because he averages 6.3 innings per start, therefore, he’s
not “ace” enough?  Yeah, you know who also shouldn’t qualify as an
ace?  Johan Santana.  That average arm is only averaging 6.5 IP/9!

Jarrod Washburn?

Not much better.  6.6 IP/9.  Should have looked this up, William.

There is no Cole Hamels, no Josh Beckett, no David Wells.

So, given that Cole Hamels is only averaging 5.8 IP/9, this season, does that mean that the Phillies have no ace, either?  Oh yeah, the ace of the other team the Dodgers might see in the playoffs, Chris Carpenter, is averaging 6.6 IP/9, not too much better than Billingsley.  So, no acehood yet for him, huh?

Given his experience, the man here should be Billingsley, but he still
needs to prove he has emotionally recovered from last fall’s two awful
starts against the Philadelphia Phillies, when he gave up 10 earned
runs in five innings.

Emotionally recover?  What does that mean?  What, does he need to go on “Dr. Phil” and bawl his eyes out or spend a month in Hawaii with Dr. Landy?  Also, if you want to be consistent, C.C. Sabathia, a bonafide ace with lots of creamy veteran goodness and fits every criteria Plaschke sets in this article, not to mention also having a freaking 260 ERA+ with the Brewers last year to boot, also got totally shellacked by the Phillies in the playoffs, last year.  Does he still need to prove that he’s emotionally recovered, as well?

Remember that? All the momentum the Dodgers built in a divisional
series sweep of the Chicago Cubs was wiped away with one Brett Myers
pitch behind Manny Ramirez’s behind.

Pardon my French, but: bullshit.  The Dodgers came back after that miserable game 2 and won game 3 and were leading 5-3 in the 8th inning in game 4 until Cory Wade and Jonathan Broxton completely imploded and Matt Stairs essentially got a knife and twisted it in the heart of every fan in L.A.  That’s when the momentum pretty much went to hell.  Yet we don’t see any articles about how we should acquire an elite closer, do we?  No, and for good reason.

Look, Billingsley’s been getting a lot of flack lately in all of these “we need an ace” articles, so can we just settle this now?  Yeah? Alright, good…

This NLCS fiasco needs to go.  Really, just stop.  No, it’s not to exempt Billingsley: he sucked donkey balls.  But for those who keep saying that he “needs to emotionally recover,” first off, what the hell do you mean?  He’s been, for the most part, one of the better pitchers in the league for most of the season, including absolutely shutting down that Phillies team in a 7 IP, 1 ER, 4 BB, 9 K performance against them.  The other problem is that if you’re going to accuse Billingsley of helping kill the momentum of the team last year, then you must also give him credit in sustaining it before that, namely his performance in the NLDS, when he went a commanding 6.2 IP, 1 ER, 1 BB, and 7 K against a 97 win, heavily favored Cubs team.  Or when he threw some scoreless relief innings as a 21 year old in the 2006 NLDS.

It’s simple: if he gets the blame for killing the momentum, then he should also get the credit for sustaining and building it through the NLDS. Similarly, if all of his troubles are essentially attributed to mental weaknesses, then his successes must be attributed to mental toughness. Why the asymmetry?  Or do the latter instances not count?  At least be consistent.

No Dodgers starter stood up then.

They need somebody to stand up now.
They need somebody to take the mound this October and stalk it, stomp
it, own it, because, as certain as browning leaves and buffeting winds,
another fight is coming.

Yeah, an ace.

Don’t you love how whenever Plaschke wants to advocate the Dodgers to do something, he always words it like the freaking apocalypse is coming?

Yeah, a nincompoop.

So, to sum up, what have we learned on the blog, tonight, Vin?

Well, according to Bill Plaschke, we need to get an ace because, apparently, our starters want to vacation beginning October 1st and they don’t want to pitch until the morning.  Here’s the kicker, and this has been somewhat of a theme, lately: notice how nearly all of these arguments are never really backed up with numbers, but merely attacks on character?  In other words, forget the fact that the Dodgers’ pitching ranks the best overall ERA in baseball, and, statistically speaking, have an elite rotation and bullpen.  Forget that; why?  Because there’s no “big nerved, cold starting pitcher.”  Because Clayton Kershaw isn’t going to walk up to the mound come October (if he even shows up, of course) and rip off his jersey and yell at the batter: “Whatcha gonna do when the Kershawmania comes after you… brother?!”

Basically, instead of realizing that a trade for this Halladay like figure would pretty much be a case of “the rich getting richer,” most of these so-called journalists feel the need to degrade the pitching staff in order to make some point.  Look, of course getting a Halladay would make this staff better, and it would improve the team and give us a deadly staff come October… duh!  But that doesn’t mean that the Dodgers haven’t had great pitching, as it is, and to argue otherwise is insane.  Just because we had major pitching concerns coming into the season doesn’t mean that we necessarily do, now.  Yet, for some mysterious reasons, these so-called journalists feel the need to degrade the pitching staff in order to make a point and, sadly, the guy who has taken the fire the most lately for it has been Chad Billingsley.  He had a bad NLCS and apparently his regular season numbers aren’t enough to show how “emotionally recovered” he is, either because 1. the journalists are just flat out irresponsible and not bothering to look or 2.  the numbers likely don’t carry much weight because it’s only the regular season and in order to “prove himself” he needs to show it in October.

But in this article, it’s likely the latter and note the contradiction.  Plaschke doesn’t really seem to care about how the Dodgers’ pitching staff has done this year, instead making judgments on Chad Billingsley based on two games in the NLCS, and essentially tossing aside or at least not caring much about the great success of the pitching.  But If we aren’t to place much emphasis in regular season numbers, as Plaschke has done with the Dodgers pitching, then that should also apply to Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.  After all, they’ve yet to throw a postseason game in their careers, so you’re essentially bolstering regular season numbers, too.  But why is it O.K. with them, but what our staff has done over the course of the season (specifically Billingsley, in this article) is just sort of tossed aside?  It’s inconsistent and dishonest.

But what else do you expect?  It’s Plaschke.

Now it’s 8:14 A.M.  I’ve yet to sleep.  Goodnight!

- Vin vinscully-face.jpg

It’s Time to Build Something This Summer

I have the flu right now. In July. Life rules. I can only imagine what people thought of the guy walking home from work yesterday on an 80 degree day with chattering teeth. Moving on, while listening to the Hold Steady/Deadspin podcast

There’s about to be some awesome roster decisions, soon. Jason Schmidt is back on the roster, as we know, Hong-Chih Kuo is expected back next week, and Doug Mientiewicz could follow the next week after that. Plus, Tony Abreu is finally healthy and performing well in the minors, Ronald Belisario and Cory Wade’s rehabs are reportedly moving along smoothly, and you know the Dodgers will acquire at least one arm via trade. That’s at least 5 guys who will need to be added before the September 1 roster expansion, and while Blake DeWitt has the market cornered on being sent down, where are the other spots coming from? Unless we see some injuries, there’s about to be some tough decisions.

Apparently, not walking people isn’t enough
. Back in June, Hiroki Kuroda went 4 starts and 26.1 innings without allowing a walk, striking out 22 in that time. What did that get him? A 1-3 record and a 5.13 ERA.

Finally, this:

Bill Plaschke’s on jury duty. Could you imagine being accused of a crime, preparing to defend yourself, and seeing Bill Plaschke in the room? I’m not even sure I could get the words “uh, I’ve been relentlessly bashing his journalism on my blog for years, so I don’t trust he’d give me a fair trial” out of my mouth without laughing. On the other hand, will he render his opinions on the case in one-line sentences?