Enjoy the Off Day

Because on Friday, if my calculations are correct – you’re going to see some serious shit.

We’ll look ahead at the big series against Arizona on Friday, but for now, let’s bask in the warm glowing warmth of a three-game sweep against Adrian Gonzalez, Jake Peavy, and 23 other guys who snuck into the clubhouse to steal San Diego uniforms. Just 1.5 games out of the lead, folks.

* Do we really have to stop making fun of Angel Berroa? Just as Nomar went into a 3-28 death spiral, Berroa took advantage and stepped up. In 10 games (8 starts) over the last two weeks, Berroa’s put up a .345/.424/.517 line. That’s… and I can’t believe I’m even saying this… good. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way on the bandwagon. He’s still got a 61 OPS+ on the season. But hey, credit where credit is due. Even better, he’s been entertaining. First you’ve got the grounder getting lost in his shirt on Tuesday night, and then last night you’ve got a fantastic post-game interview where he has Manny be his translator and, well, watch for yourself. (Hat-tip to LarryBrownSports for the video).

 [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--0Pt4qt80A]

That’s right, Manny’s serving as Berroa’s translator… until Berroa blows the whole charade by speaking English.

* Speaking of Manny, he won the National League Most Valuable Player award for the month of August, thanks to his completely insane line of .415/.508/.736. That’s a 1.244 OPS, folks. It’s too bad he’s been slacking so far in the first few games of September by only posting a 1.131 OPS. Shape up, Manny!

* Another trade rumor regarding the depleted middle infield: Via MLBtraderumors, we see that Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times has a mention of the Dodgers’ interest in Tadahito Iguchi. No, really, that’s basically all the information he has:

The Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies have expressed interest in second baseman Tadahito Iguchi, according to his agent, Rocky Hall. Iguchi was released by the San Diego Padres this week.

Since September 1st has passed, Iguchi wouldn’t even be elgible for the playoffs should that become a consideration, but I still say: pass. He was pretty terrible in San Diego this year (64 OPS+) before being cut, and Blake DeWitt’s starting to show signs of life with two homers in the last few days. Plus, you’ve still got Chin-Lung Hu sitting on the bench and all indications are that Jeff Kent will be back in another two weeks or so. I don’t see the need here.

* If you’re a regular reader, you know how much we love the guys at FireJoeMorgan around here, especially when we’re completely ripping them off to bag on guys like Ken Rosenthal and Tracy Ringolsby. But you’ll also have noticed that we very rarely do that to T.J. Simers, because it’s well-known that he’s a total clown – and a clown who’s not even all that funny, at that. So when Simers came up with this “Ned Colletti is baseball’s best GM” piece, I barely even gave it a second look, because it seemed so obvious that it was just a (completely unfunny) way to take backhanded swipes at Colletti. But it seems that FJM took it seriously (although they admittedly mention more than once that they’re unsure, but they did go through with it in the end). T.J. Simers should never be taken seriously. If I were in a room with him and he yelled “fire!” I’d ask him what his real ulterior motive was before I took a step.

* Finally, this is neither here nor there, but I couldn’t help but chuckle when I read it on Baseball Prospectus:

Left-hander Mark Hendrickson won’t be back with the Marlins next season, but he has significantly increased his free-agent stock by showing he can pitch effectively out of the bullpen since being dropped from the rotation.

Hmm… this sounds familiar somehow. Yet, I can’t place it. Oh! That’s right. It’s because I said the exact same thing on December 15th of last year:

Yet I still want to pay Mark Hendrickson millions to be an employee of the Los Angeles Dodgers. You know why? Because even though he’s a terrible, terrible starting pitcher… he’s a surprisingly effective relief pitcher.

As long as we never, ever, even in case of emergency, allow him to start again, that’s a lot of value there. He seems like a fantastic long reliever, who can give you 2-3 effective innings when your starter can’t make it past 5, and behind a pen that’s so fantastic in the late innings with Saito/Broxton/Beimel, that’s a pretty nice chip to have.

But that’s not even the most entertaining thing from the BP article, and to be fair, this is from an unnamed major league scout, not from the BP staff:

Dodgers outfielder Juan Pierre: “I know he doesn’t draw walks and he’s a low on-base percentage guy, but he is an energy guy. I just think the Dodgers miss him not being on the field. They lack that spark he provides.”

Priority number one of the offseason: find out what club this guy scouts for! Sounds like a good trading partner to me.

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

I Always Hate Playing the Angels

I don’t know what it is, but it’s never fun. Oh, maybe it’s the 27-35 record the Blue have against them, including dropping 5 of 6 last year. That could be it. Also, if I’m not mistaken, it was a game against them last year where James Loney almost destroyed his career on the right field wall. (Edit: I was right. And it was adding injury to insult, as it was the 8th inning of a 10-4 Angels win).  Anyway, ESPN actually gives some pub to the West Coast rivlary – and it only takes them 20 seconds to include the not-played-out-at-all “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of…” bit! At least Tim Kurkjian gives the Dodgers some respect, saying it could possibly be a World Series preview, and saying he actually spoke to a scout who said, “you know the Dodgers are going to win the division by six games.” Actually, I didn’t know that, but I’d be more than okay with it.

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.553191&w=425&h=350&fv=] from sports.espn.go.com

Let’s do a bit of a roundup of things on a variety of topics.

Luis Maza made his major league debut, and minorleaguebaseball.com has a short profile on him:

Luis Maza, IF, Los Angeles Dodgers

CALLED UP: Contract purchased from Triple-A Las Vegas when SS Rafael Furcal went on the DL.

DEBUT: May 14 in a 6-4 win against Milwaukee. A late-game insertion on defense at shortstop after starting shortstop Chin Lung Hu was pinch-hit for, he did not bat.

NOTES: In his 11th pro season without making it to the Majors, the 27-year-old Maza finally got the call from the 51s. With Las Vegas, he was hitting .402 (.472 against left-handers) and had played second, third, shortstop, left and right field. Ironically, he wasn’t even the team’s leading hitter at the time (that honor went to third baseman Terry Tiffee and his .430 average). But while Tiffee strictly profiles as a corner infielder and left fielder, Maza’s middle infield versatility worked in his favor. Originally signed by Minnesota out of Venezuela in 1997, he was a .273 career hitter coming into 2008. He spent his first nine years moving up the Twins’ ranks before signing with the Dodgers in 2007 as a Minor League free agent.

If you saw his start against Milwaukee yesterday, you’ll know that it won’t matter if he’s hitting .402 or .902 – we need him to never be at shortstop ever again. I’ve never seen a shortstop with such a weak arm, to the point that the Milwaukee broadcasters were trying to figure out what he was even doing in the majors.

When did we sign Mark Bellhorn? Rotoworld has this:

Mark Bellhorn debuted for Double-A Jacksonville on Thursday and went 2-for-2 with a walk.
Bellhorn didn’t hit for the Padres in 2006 and he received just 11 at-bats with the Reds last season, so he faces an uphill battle to get back to the majors at age 33.

Bellhorn had one excellent season (27 homers, .512 SLG, and a 133 OPS+ for the 2002 Cubs), one good season for a champion (17 homers, 82 RBI, and 107 OPS+ for the 2004 Red Sox).. and at no point in his other 8 full and partial seasons has he even been within 20 points of league average in OPS. He started 2006 as San Diego’s regular second baseman, and was cut after putting up a solid .190 in 253 at-bats. He’s mainly a 2B/3B, but he’s played every position on the diamond. Let’s hope we’ll never need him.

Finally, I have a lot respect for Tony Jackson of the Daily News,  but I couldn’t help but chuckle when I read this, in an article about Dodgers hitting coach Mike Easler helping Juan Pierre:

Pierre, whose last home run came with the Chicago Cubs in 2006, will never come close to the 118 jacks Easler hit in his 14-year career. But that doesn’t change the fact that at times when Easler looks at Pierre, it’s as if he is looking into a mirror.

“I remember going through exactly what he has gone through this year,” Easler said. “I remember one year (1982), leading the (Pittsburgh Pirates) in this, that and the other, and then I open the ’83 season on the bench. I couldn’t believe it. I did some things kind of like him. I pouted a little bit.

Mike Easler was a very good hitter in this day, putting up a 111 OPS+ or better in each of the seven seasons in which he got 339 at-bats or more. (Which sort of makes him not even a little bit like Juan Pierre, doesn’t it?)  Not that anyone here really wants an in-depth examination of the 84-78 4th place 1982 Pittsburgh Pirates, but Easler led them in exactly.. zero offensive categories. No, really: not even a single one.

Finally, and most hilariously… the picture on the front of today’s Fire Joe Morgan post? Yeah, that was me. Took it with my phone in a bodega on 9th Ave in New York City the other day.

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

Fire Joe Morgan… Out of a Cannon

This is what the internet is all about, folks: here we have a blog run by two guys who’ve taken their names from The Simpsons and a octogenarian baseball broadcaster about to discuss another blog’s decision to take the makeup off and reveal their true selves. As you may have noticed around here, we’re huge fans of FireJoeMorgan.com. Most every time we tear apart an article line for line (I’m still angry at Tracy Ringolsby) it’s a direct result of the influence the good folks at FJM have had on us.

If you’re not up on the FJM ethos, the story goes that it’s just some random college friends across the country who took their back-and-forth emails trashing awful sports-writing and made a sparsely-designed yet wildly popular website out of it, though never using their real names. The headman, “Ken Tremendous”, purported himself to be an insurance salesman in the middle of Kansas. While we knew that was likely a load of crap, it was kind of a nice thought that these guys were just regular guys like us – rabid sports fans who enjoy writing about/making fun of our passions, rather than actually focusing on our boring day jobs.

Except, today, the guys at FJM have revealed their true selves. Which are… television writers? “Ken Tremendous” is actually a writer for The Office, and occasionally appears as Dwight’s crazy Amish relative, Mose? The other guys have credits ranging from South Park to Last Call With Carson Daly? I’m not totally sure if this makes me like the site more or less. On one hand, I liked thinking that it was the blog of the average fan fighting against the inanity that is put out by the “legitimate media.” On the other hand, I do really like The Office.

More importantly, if these guys are TV writers: aren’t you on strike? Why aren’t there 6 FJM posts a day? I’m actually kind of disappointed there haven’t been any FJM in-jokes on The Office yet, like how 30 Rock has (more than once!) worked in LemonParty.com jokes. (No, I’m not providing a hyperlink to that site. No, I don’t recommend you go there – NSFW is one thing, but it’s more Not Safe For Humans).

I, for one, look forward to the episode where Dunder-Mifflin creates a company softball team and manager Michael Scott complains that Stanley is “clogging up the bases.”

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