Dodgers of the Decade: First Base

I have to say, I was surprised with the results of the catcher poll. Despite Paul LoDuca having put up the best overall season and slightly better overall stats, Russell Martin won the vote for best Dodger catcher of the 2000s by a score of 68% to 31%. I figured Martin would win, but not by that much. I suppose the steroid allegations carried more weight than I’d thought they would, or maybe Dodger fans just have short memories. Special thanks to Chad Kreuter’s wife and mom, who clearly must have been the two people behind his two votes.

Lets move on to first base. And what a motley crew this is; you’ve got a 1990s Dodger star in the twilight of his career, a star shortstop trying to make the position switch in his hometown, a top prospect still trying to take the next step, a portly pinch-hitting fan favorite, and possibly the most divisive Dodger (non-Pierre division) of the last ten years. Good luck choosing from among all that.

You may notice that there’s one eligible player missing here, and that’s Shawn Green. Yes, he did play more than 100 games at 1B as a Dodger, and that’s the threshold. But he only played first base regularly in his final season in Los Angeles, with the huge majority being played in right field, so that’s where we’re placing him. I was going to include defensive stats, but UZR doesn’t kick in until 2002, so I’m not sure how to account for the first two years. I’ve left it out for now.

Dodgers of the Decade team:
C: Russell Martin (68%)

First Base

James Loney (463 games, 2006-09)
Dodger stats: .295/.354/.451 .805 45 hr 265 rbi
WAR: 3.6

Eric Karros (418 games, 2000-02)
Dodger stats: .253/.317/.418 .735 59 hr 242 rbi
WAR: 0.6

Olmedo Saenz (381 games, 2004-07)
Dodger stats: .263/.334/.484 .818 38 hr 151 rbi
WAR: 1.7

Nomar Garciaparra (298 games, 2006-08)
Dodger stats: .289/.345/.445 .790 35 hr 180 rbi
WAR: 1.4

Hee-Seop Choi (164 games, 2004-05)
Dodger stats: .238/.328/.419 .747 15 hr 48 rbi
WAR: 0.6

Top three seasons
2.1 WAR Garciaparra, 2006
1.7 WAR Loney, 2009
1.5 WAR Loney, 2007

No one really stands out here to me. Karros was at the end of his career to start the decade, while Loney’s just at the beginning of his career and hasn’t fully realized his talent. While the best single season was probably Nomar’s 2006, it was also really the only season he was any good at all. Saenz was a bench player who was only nominally a first baseman, and I always felt that the biggest travesty of the Jim Tracy era was playing Jason Phillips at 1B down the stretch of the lost 2005 season rather than Choi mainly out of spite from the LoDuca deal. I assume Loney will win because he has the highest overall WAR and is the freshest in people’s minds, but how sad is it that two seasons which are subpar for a first baseman are probably going to be enough to make him the best first baseman of the entire decade?

Make your choice. Who’s your Dodger first baseman of the 00s?

[polldaddy poll=2437858]

Eric Karros Brings the Crazy

karroshair.jpgYou may have seen my earlier post laughing at the FOX jokers, Eric Karros and Thom Brennaman. Rather than adding this as an update to that where it might get lost, what Karros and his crazy hair just said deserves its own post – because it’s just that ludicrous. Thanks to Vin and his quick DVRing, Karros goes off the deep end, in regards to what the Dodgers should do with Juan Pierre after the season.

“From a selfish standpoint, you keep him because he’s arguably been the most valuable player…

Well, with Manny being gone, that’s when a lot of teams felt that’s
when they could catch the Dodgers, make their push. During that period,
not only did he fill the void of Manny being gone, playing left field,
but he also filled the void at the top of the lineup, Furcal, because
he wasn’t playing well, created. So he goes to the top of the lineup,
he bunts, he gets over, he does things to ignite the offense. Dodgers
didn’t have another player who was capable of doing that and they could
have really fallen to the pack during that period.”

Just in case you glossed over that, let me reiterate in fancy bold capitalized letters. ERIC KARROS THINKS JUAN PIERRE HAS (ARGUABLY) BEEN THE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER IN LA. No, not Matt Kemp, who’s almost already the best center fielder in baseball. Not Andre Ethier, who’s going to end up with a 30 homer/100 RBI breakout season. Not Randy Wolf, who’s started more games than anyone in baseball, has held the rotation together and been dazzling lately while doing it. Not Jonathan Broxton, leading all of baseball in strikeouts by a reliever. Not Clayton Kershaw, who spent two months being arguably the best pitcher in baseball.

No,
according to Eric Karros, the most valuable player for the Dodgers this
year is a bench player who had an incredibly well-timed two week hot
streak, before spending the next three weeks sucking horribly. You
think that it was because of Pierre that the Dodgers didn’t fall back
to the pack? How about Casey Blake, who was unbelievably hot
while Manny was gone? And Eric, if Pierre was so important, how come
they only went 16-14 in the 30 games of Manny’s suspension that JP was
awful for? It’s because he was destroying the offense hitting leadoff every day.

I
know that we make fun of guys like Plaschke all the time, but the level
of complete ignorance displayed here is insane. You wonder why we bag
on Pierre all the time? It’s not because he’s not a good player,
because we knew exactly what we were getting when he was signed. It’s
because jokers like this act as though a powerless, OBP-challenged,
weak-armed speedster is the second coming of Babe Ruth’s lovechild with
Ghandi.

Eric – GET A CLUE.

Stop Making My Job Harder, Thom (updated)

This is not in any way meant to bag on Juan Pierre; he is what is, and we’ve spent far too many words on him at this point. I would have posted this no matter what player this was in reference to. It’s just that the constant ignorance we see in the “mainstream media” world of papers and television is mind-blowing, especially because we all know there’s a huge amount of casual fans who hear what these so-called “experts” have to say and regard it as gospel.

On FOX just now, announcers Thom Brennaman and Eric Karros had a conversation about Juan Pierre, including these statements presented as fact:

There’s Juan Pierre, who did such a great job filling in for Manny.

This is a pretty common misconception, because if you remember what actually happened:

Games 1-20: .425/.495/.598  1.093 OPS
Games 21-50: .244/.299/.283  .583 OPS

So if by “such a great job” you mean “had a killer hot streak for less than half of Manny’s absence and was worse than ever for the majority of it,” then yes – great job. (Again, not trying to kill Pierre for anything here. Just drawing attention to public figures talking out of their asses.)

He’d be starting for just about any other team in baseball.

Pierre’s career OPS is .721. Of all MLB outfielders with at least 200 at-bats this year, a .721 OPS would rank… 90th. Which is delightful that it came out that way, as it means that every single one of the 30 teams has 3 outfielders who are better hitters than he is. Considering that we haven’t even discussed his absurd salary or his terrible throwing arm, it’s probably more accurate to say that he’d be starting for zero other teams in baseball.

And he’s handled it with pure class.

Again, the point here isn’t to denigrate Pierre but facts are facts: he’s whined more than once about his situation. But hey, the D-list FOX announcers think he’s a “great guy” who’s “had an outstanding” career, so why not spout whatever comes to mind?

dodgersworldseriesflag.jpgUpdate: after an inning spent talking about Brett Favre and expressing shock at the fact that Joe Torre isn’t managing the Yankees anymore, they discussed the Dodgers/Reds rivalry of the 70s. Brennaman then lets loose with this gem:

The Dodgers won a few World Series in that decade, too.

Ah, yes. I remember that 1977 victory parade fondly. Is it really that hard to find baseball announcers who know even a little about baseball?


Can We Play The Cubs All The Time?

You really have to hand it to Charlie Haeger.  He came in and made his MLB debut against a Haeger20092.jpgteam that generally kills us and, while he lost the game, he still put up a very solid performance, going 7 IP with 3 ER.  Today, against the Cubs, he one ups that and gives the team another 7 IP, but totally shutting down the Cubs, giving up 0 ER, 3 H, while walking 4 and striking out 7.  The control wasn’t quite as sharp today as it was on Monday for Haeger, though that isn’t necessarily the worst thing, either.  Given that he’s a knuckleballer, that also meant that the ball had more movement on it and he was completely baffling the hitters.  Haeger has given plenty of reason to keep him pitching until he shows otherwise.  His results have been beyond reasonable expectation and the Dodgers would be foolish to not continue to ride out what he’s been doing.  He looks totally legit and, while he’s not going to go 7 IP every start, he’s definitely earned more starts. 

On a side note, given how well he’s been pitching, doesn’t he deserve the opportunity to change his name to, say, I don’t know, Charlie Lee Roth?  It just seems so wrong for a talented pitcher to have to be called Haeger.  I’m even fine with Haegermeister or Haegerbomb.  But, come on, not Haeger. 

From the offensive side of things, the Dodgers weren’t particularly great, but they did do enough to leave us with two memorable moments, those being the solo HR’s by Matt Kemp and Casey Blake.  Kemp’s in particular was very memorable, as he hit a 449 FT. utter monster shot behind the bullpen.  In fact, after several replays, I’m not even sure exactly where it went, but it definitely cleared the bullpen and the walls there.  It was very similar to Matt Holliday’s shot in 2005.  I’d take a stab at saying that Kemp’s shot is probably the farthest one hit this year at Dodger Stadium and certainly one of the farthest traveling balls I’ve seen hit there in a while.  Although I’m sure Dick Stockton could have found some ball that Eric Karros hit 395 FT. sometime in 1995 and argue that Karros’ HR was better because somehow the pavilion was further back or the wind was blowing harder in that day or something. 

Oh yeah, there was one other memorable moment.  Mark Loretta stole third base, his first SB since 2007.  That was a shocker.  I mean, WTF? 

On a side note, let’s give some props to Joe Torre for the way he handled the bullpen at the end of the game.  Yes, that’s right, Joe Torre is actually getting praise for his bullpen usage.  For those who missed, he went to Broxton in the 8th inning to face the Cubs’ heart of the order and then used Sherrill in the 9th inning, who closed out the game.  Broxton pitched well and looked like the Broxton of old for the second consecutive night, while it was Sherrill who wasn’t in particularly dominating fashion, but the Bellhead behind the plate didn’t help matters much.  It was Sherrill’s first save as a Dodger and, according to Eric Karros, whose hair is increasingly looking like Marge Simpson, the first time he’s ever saved a meaningful game.  Hear that, George?!  Congratulations! 

Mommy, wow!  Sherrill’s a big kid now! 

By the way, do you need more evidence that Eric Karros is a dolt?  Last I checked, Sherrill also had 3 saves in addition to setting up J.J. Putz for the 2007 Mariners, who won 88 games. 

But hey, I guess that doesn’t qualify as “meaningful.” 

Nonetheless, that won’t spoil the sweetness of today’s victory.  The Dodgers win three in a row for the first time since the sweep of the Reds which occurred exactly a month ago today.  Billingsley on the mound, tomorrow.  A sweep would sound awfully nice heading into Colorado on Tuesday. 

- Vin vinscully-face.jpg

Random Stupid Quotes And Stupid People: Eric Karros

Marge Simpson has very large hair…

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Eric Karros continues to catch up…

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No point to that, really, except I’ve been itching to make the comparison for awhile. However, during today’s Diamondbacks vs. Dodgers broadcast, Eric Karros was one half of a very painful broadcasting crew. Here are a few words of wisdom from Eric…

On Juan Pierre critics:

The critics will say “Well, the on base percentage isn’t what it should be,” but, again, he does get on base…

Juan Pierre’s OBP: .329.

Ranking amongst all the people who get on base: 128 out of 167 qualified MLB hitters.

After Russell Martin blocked a ball with runners on late in the game:

That should count as an RBI for Russell Martin right there because he prevented a run from scoring.

Oh God… driving in runs with your glove, now. I got it: we can call it the GRDI (Gloved Run Driven In). Picture it…

“Hey man, did you see in the 7th inning that routine flyball Ethier caught? I mean, if he doesn’t catch it and just runs away from it, they get a hit and score. He just rocks this year, that was like his 88th GRDI this year, man, which puts him 5th in the GRDI category, which is around his RBI category and then…”

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Don’t worry, folks. I’ll NEVER retire.

Vin vinscully-face.jpg