Random Stupid Quotes And Stupid People: Joe Torre (Part II)

In what is the second of many more times Joe Torre will make the “Random Stupid Quotes And Stupid People” feature, Torre feels that, despite it being June 23rd and having only 6 hits on the year, the Dodgers need to, and will continue to exert patience with Mark Sweeney.

From yesterday afternoon’s article from Michael Schwartz:

“The thing about players when they get older, it’s a series of adjustments,” said Dodgers manager Joe Torre. “I think that’s what Mark is going through right now.

Huh?  Let me get this straight… the reason Mark Sweeney has been an abortion of a baseball player this year is because he has to make adjustments, since he’s old.  Uh, since when is making adjustments a concept that’s exclusive to old men in the game?  Mark Sweeney has to make adjustments just like Russell Martin or Matt Kemp.  That’s like Torre saying regarding Scott Proctor: “Well, the reason Proctor has been bad is because when you get to around your early 30’s, it becomes a matter of mixing up your pitches and trying to throw strikes.  I think Scott is going through that, right now.”  Again, what the hell?

Right now, I think he’s pressing a little bit

No shit, Joe?

and it’s tough because you don’t play. You’re waiting for that one at-bat, [and] you’re never going to throw him up there in an at-bat when it doesn’t mean something.”

Say this in April, I totally get it.  May?  Alright.  But June 23rd?!  Are you kidding me?!

Just to illustrate how freaking awful Sweeney has been this year, do you remember how we all pissed and moaned about Olmedo Saenz last year, when it was obvious how cooked he was?  Here’s Saenz’s numbers through the first half of last year:

Saenz through All-Star Break 2007 (63 AB’s): .206/.333/.397, 3 HR’s, .730 OPS.

Sweeney 2008 (56 AB’s):  .107/.203/.143, 0 HR’s, .346 OPS.

Yes, that’s right, folks.  2007 first-half Olmedo Saenz is kicking the living crap out of Mark Sweeney.  THAT’S how bad he is.  For the record, even Saenz’s second half stats last year are better.  And, of course, as evidenced last year, everyone but our GM and manager noticed how washed up they were.

Still, Torre feels Sweeney has something left based on watching his body language and demeanor on the field, saying the hitter does all the right things [. . .]

Except hit the fucking ball.

“He’s certainly aware of his age, he’s certainly aware of eventually this thing’s going to be over, but I don’t sense that he’s there yet,” Torre said.

Thank You, Joe, for giving us the groundbreaking information that he’s aware of his age and knows that his career is going to eventually be over.  We were worried that he was suffering from alzheimers, but apparently not; good.  Now he’s right on his way from being aware of his age to being aware of how many outs there are in an inning!

Torre added Sweeney still has a “great swing path,”

That’s very true.  I’m sure the opposing teams feel the same way, as this deeply skilled and great swing path just flows through the strike zone and creates a nice, big cluster of… air.

The Dodgers’ organization is always looking for improvements, but Torre said it hasn’t gotten to that point with Sweeney where Los Angeles feels it could find an upgrade over him at Triple-A or through a player available in a trade.

Do you hear that, folks?  Having a .107/.203/.143 line through late June isn’t bad enough and, therefore, isn’t worth an upgrade.  That’s right… Mark Sweeney is having a season that is still good enough to keep him employed.

Don’t you wish Joe Torre was your boss?  I mean, let’s picture that Torre was, like, the head of a hospital and Sweeney was, oh, I don’t know… a surgeon.

Sweeney: Say, boss, I’m afraid I botched another surgery today.  Today, I had this guy in who was supposed to get a colonoscopy.  Instead, I gave him a sex change.  I’m really sorry, boss.  I know this is coming right after the 14 year old boy I gave a vasectomy to, but it’s just been a bad year.  I’m just getting up there now and I don’t think I can…

Torre: Mark, when is your birthday?

Sweeney: Uh, October 26th, 1969.

Torre:  And do you think you’ll be doing this forever?

Sweeney:  Well, no, boss.  But what does this have to do with anything?

Torre:  What?!  Everything, Mark.  Yes, you should have given the man… eer, woman, their colonoscopy, but you know what?  You’re aware of your age and know that this isn’t going to last forever.  You see, it’s just a matter of adjustments you have to make, that’s all.  But I’m still impressed with you.

Sweeney: Even though I have malpractice suits up the ass and my patients hate what I’ve done to them?

Torre:  Yes.  You see, the problem with all these patients is that they just pay attention to the results.  What they can’t see and fail to understand is the body language and demeanor that you put into your surgeries.  Take that Nikki Cox girl you had earlier this year.  Yes, all she was there for was to get her tonsils out, but as you were giving her plastic surgery, you put heart into it.  That shows character to me and you can’t put a price on that, you know.  So, even though I got a couple of sharp, younger doctors from Johns Hopkins I could hire, forget it; it’s not to the point where we need an upgrade.  In fact, I’m giving you a raise!

Back to reality… in terms of upgrades?  Terry Tiffee, John Lindsey, Xavier Paul and, heck, my 86 year old Grandmother are on the phone, Joe.

And, for the record: yes, that’s right.  I blame Mark Sweeney not only for his sucktitude on the Dodgers, but also for the butchery of Nikki Cox.

“There’s nobody that jumps out at us to say it’s a surefire thing,” Torre said.

Hi, Joe.  Terry Tiffee, here.  Did you know that this year at Triple-A I have been hitting .405/.446./.595, while ranking 2nd in average, 12th in OBP, and 12th in OPS in the ENTIRE minor leagues?!  Oh wait, probably not, since I was DFA’d not long after my cup of tea in L.A.

Mean, cruel bastard…

Hi, Joe.  I’m John Lindsey.  I might be 31 and still in the minor leagues, but at least I can make adjustments, this year!  This year I am hitting .314/.396/.567 with 15 HR’s in Las Vegas.  Yeah, you can’t use me…

Hello, Mr. Torre.  My name is Xavier Paul.  I’m also at Las Vegas.  This year, I’m hitting .305/.373/.444 and also have a cannon of an arm in the outfield.  Then again, what good is that?  Our body language sucks.

“Could somebody else be better? Yeah, possibly. But in order to make a decision on a guy like Sweeney you’re certainly not going to take a chance and say, ‘We think.’ You want to know that it’s a better option for you.”

And when will you figure that out, Joe?  In mid-August with more than 70% through our season gone, and he’s hitting, like, .032?  How can any alternative be any worse?  In order to make a decision on a guy like Sweeney, you ask yourself whether he’s contributing to the team.  If it’s not early in the season, which it’s not, and he has shown no signs of coming out of it, which he has not, and weigh the fact that there are younger, cheaper and superior talent in the minors, then you say: “HELL YEAH, RELEASE HIM!!”

But noooooooooo… instead, what have we learned today, kids?  We should keep Mark Sweeney on our team and be even more patient with him because:

1.  He has to make adjustments, like every other player who wants a career in the Major Leagues.

2.  Because he has a killer demeanor and body language.

3.  He knows how old he is and is aware that his career will come to an end, one day.

4.  Having a .107/.203/.143 line is, apparently, acceptable and no one would come in and be an upgrade from that.

For the record, yes, I acknowledge that Mark Sweeney is one of the all-time great pinch hitters and has been valuable most of his career, so I can understand getting some rope for the first month or two.  But when you are almost at the All-Star break and only have 6 hits the entire season, after not being that impressive with us last year, is at age 38, shows no signs of improving, with people in the minors who couldn’t do any worse, then the decision is obvious.  Yet to be defended constantly with such unrelated, vague, and fellacious reasoning is beyond ridiculous.  Which, by the way, reminds me of something: if the only thing you hear people describe a player is by their character and other things unrelated to their performance on the field (or at least greatly emphasized more than anything else): chances are?  They suck.

Body language?!  Demeanor?!  Yes, folks, this is who is running our team… God help us all…

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Random Stupid Quotes And Stupid People: Joe Torre

O.K., so we just talked about this, and I prefer to keep the “Random Stupid Quotes And Stupid People” segment more occasional than constant, but there’s lots of stupid, these days, and after reading through the Times right now, I gotta mention it.  From this morning’s L.A. Times

Outfielder Juan Pierre, benched at the start of the season, has led off in every game since Furcal was injured. That’s 33 and counting, and Torre says he sees no rest coming.

The Dodgers have averaged two fewer runs a game without Furcal. They rank last in the National League in home runs, and Pierre leads the league in stolen bases.

“He’s a legitimate leadoff hitter,” Torre said. “We don’t score a lot of runs, and he can generate some offense just by being on base.”

O.K., two problems with this:

1.  Last I checked, we’ve scored 0-1 runs in 10 out of the last 19 games and, in case you haven’t noticed, Joe, he’s BEEN our leadoff hitter most of the season, including this stretch… if he can generate some offense, uh… where is it?  Surely, not all the offensive struggles lay on him, but there’s nothing to suggest Joe’s claims have any validity, based on individual stats and team stats.  Which brings us to…

2.  Joe’s definition of a “legitimate leadoff hitter” tends to differ from mine.  A legitimate leadoff hitter, or any hitter legitimate hitter, to me implies, oh… I don’t know… that he gets on base?!  Instead of rehashing the stats, just look at the post right below this one.  Until proven otherwise, Pierre is not a legitimate leadoff hitter.  He has not been close to one in FOUR years… then again, who knows?  Perhaps he is because he has that kickass veterany presence that Ken Rosenthal talks about.

Oh, yeah, and on a side note:

Pierre entered play Wednesday batting .429 off left-handers [. . .] Outfielder Andre Ethier, batting .178 off left-handers, has started against a left-hander once in the last six weeks. . . .

Now, I can sort of understand sitting Andre against LHP at times, he’s been bad against lefties, this year.  However, if matchups and splits against LHP and RHP are so important, how about some consistency when sitting players:

Juan Pierre vs. RHP in 2008:  .235/.304/.275

Nah… I guess it’s best to start him in the past 30+ consecutive games, instead, and get him the most at-bats on the team.

Can someone remind me again how Joe Torre’s supposed to be this significant improvement from Grady?  Argh!!

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… And I Swear That I Don’t Have A Gun…

As I sat on Tuesday and watched the Dodgers blow a 1-0 lead in the 7th by Jonathan Broxton, only to lose 3-1, I asked myself: “Could it get any worse for this team?”

Turns out, it could!

Last night, the Dodgers went into the 9th with a 1-0 lead only for, out of all people, Takashi Saito to come in and pitch what, in my opinion, was his worst outing ever as a Dodger.  Sure, he only ended up only giving up one run, and he’s given up more in an inning before, but I’m talking about actual stuff.  His lack of control was hitting Ishii levels, it took him about 37 pitches to get out of the inning, and he was absolutely horrific.  In fact, it’s a miracle he only gave up 1 run, however, after that, it was pretty much a formality that we were going to lose, which we did after the Ho proceeded to give up the go-ahead winning run in the 10th.

So, the Dodgers get swept at Wrigley and have now lost 5 out of their last 6.  What the hell is going on?

Now, sure, there are the obvious things that we mope about. While many people say that a lot of this is due to the loss of Rafael Furcal, I am inclined to agree with them, but only to a certain extent.  Yes, it makes a HUGE difference when you have Rafael Furcal starting at SS over Luis Maza, but I still argue that our offensive struggles would exist, albeit maybe to a lesser degree.  Our lineup is still full of holes at the moment, with the exception of Ethier, Kemp, Martin, Pierre (in the: “he’s not a complete offensive liability, right now” sense) and DeWitt, and even DeWitt is slowly falling back to earth over the past 6 games.

Jeff Kent continues on the quest to become the worst clean up hitter of all-time, while his backup, Chin-Lung Hu, has been absolute merda at the plate; for God’s sake, the man has an OPS+ of 22!  I like Hu and feel he could be a solid contributor sometime in the future, but that time is not now and he would be best served back in Las Vegas to regain his stroke.

At first base, as much as I hate to say it, but, outside of his 15 game hitting streak to begin the season, James Loney has looked, well, average, at best; and that’s being slightly generous.  That’s not to say that he’s been horrible or that I’m having fantasies of having Nomar coming back to man first base while hearing “Low Rider” on an endless loop while curled up in my bedroom late at night in the dark, just that Loney hasn’t been what I hoped.  Sure, he’s tied for the team lead in HR’s with 5, but, through 51 games, Loney has put up a .274 BA, .329 OBP, and .432 SLG, .258 EqA, and a 95 OPS+. Not good.  And even worse, the person who is backing up him and who is supposed to be our best pinch hitter; Mark Sweeney.  Yes, beating a dead horse here, I know, but what else can be said?  He’s 4-42 this season!  How sad is it when you would be happy to see your alleged best pinch hitter raise his average to the levels of Andruw Jones?!  There is no reason in God’s green earth why he should still be on this team.  None.  What, are his “American Idol” chemistry building contests he puts together every spring training that good?  Does he have these hidden tapes of Ned serenading him with “My Funny Valentine” or something?  As said earlier by my partner in crime, it is criminal that Andy LaRoche has not been called up yet.  What the hell does he have to prove, still?

However, I can’t just put it all on the offense: the pitching staff deserves some blame, as well.  Brad Penny has been anything but a #1 with his 4.34 ERA, 82 ERA+, and I do not like his “pitch to contact” philosophy, as I feel it’s hurt him, in particular, his K/9 rate, which has dropped to a horrible 4.77.  That’s not good for any pitcher to have, especially if you have the stuff Penny has.  Derek Lowe, sans last night, has been a bust, while Billingsley has been erratic, although he is starting to rebound.  As mentioned in the Kuroda article, Hiroki has been the only constant this year.  Having said that, I do feel that the rotation will rebound and it’s gradually starting to with the emergence of Billingsley and hopefully Kershaw.

But the offense is another story.  I really wish that I could brush off this current losing streak as something early in the season or a simple aberration.  However, we are almost in June and it is not getting better.  Through May 28th, the Dodgers’ offense has a .269 BA, .340 OBP, .387 SLG, and 92 OPS+.  Now, the first two are alright, but, again, the slugging percentage shows the lack of power.  Once again, the Dodgers find themselves in the same position as last year: they don’t have any power in their lineup and if you don’t have power in your lineup, you will likely lose.  Slugging percentage matters.  Now, sure, you have some folks who still think it’s 1965 and say: “Well, pitching and defense is what matters, you don’t really need that power lineup, because back in my day, we had Maury Wills steal a bazillion bases.  We manufactured runs, and that was good enough for us, dammit!,” but power is a must in this game.  And, without that power, it will be 2007 all over again: we will have to string together 3-4 hits at a time to score a minimal amount of runs.  When everyone is hitting, this works great and we’ll win games, but, when it doesn’t, we will be horribly inconsistent and we will have these stretches.  The problem is, barring some big trade (which always scares the crap out of me, considering our GM), where will our power come from?  The guy we are banking on is probably sitting on his ass turning into the long lost sibling of El Guapo, and even some of the people who are hitting, such as Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, have disappointed in the power department (Kemp: 3 HR’s, Ethier: 4 HR’s), It’s not going to get the job done, for, shockingly, you cannot Sally slap a team to death.

So, now it’s on to Shea for 4 games.  Last night’s loss was a tough one, probably the worst one of the year, but having a good series would be a good remedy and hopefully can jumpstart them and propel them to a long winning streak!

Yeah, I always say that…

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It's Official: Grady Little Out!

According to Tony Jackson of the L.A. Daily News, the Dodgers have officially parted ways with Grady Little and are scheduling a conference call at 4 P.M. Once all of this madness settles down, we’ll try and make some sense out of it, but until then…

GRADY IS GONE!! YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Repeat after me…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwnqqj5Q1BU]

NA, NA, NA, NA, HEY, HEY, HEY, GOODBYE!!

Nintendo Baseball triumphs.

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Mama Always Told Me Lineups Were Like A Box Of Choc… lates: You Never Know What You're Gonna Get!

So after a 15-3 bitch slapping of the Phillies last night with the best lineup of the year, Tim Donaghy’s partner in crime, Grady Little, came right back out to intimidate the Phillies – you know, the team the Dodgers are battling with for the Wild Card – with this lineup…

1. Furcal – SS
2. Pierre – CF
3. Kemp – RF
4. Kent – 2B

Now that’s a good start, right? I mean, Kemp has been on fire lately, Kent’s doing well, hell, even Pierre has had a great August. So, yay, he’s finally going to stick with the good hitters, right?! Well…

5. Hillenbrand – 1B
6. Martin – C
7. Gonzalez – LF
8. Martinez – 3B
9. Thunder Thighs – P

Must I even explain the obvious? Do I REALLY have to say why Shea Hillenbrand does not deserve to be hitting above Russell Martin? Or why Ramon Martinez and Luis Gonzalez do not deserve to be in the lineup at all? Or why Loney and Ethier have to sit yet again? All we needed was Olmedo Saenz hitting clean up to complete this abortion.

And, yes, before everyone starts e-mailing me, I realize that Ramon Martinez had a key 2-run single that helped win today’s game. Very good. He and Gonzo still have no business in the lineup over Ethier and Loney (as Martinez out of the lineup brings Hillenbrand back to third).

But how does Little defend himself on this one? Take it away, Grady!

On playing Ramon Martinez:

“Martinez has an unusual stat,” said Little. “He has the same number of RBIs as hits [20]. You don’t see that very often. It’s an amazing stat.”

Yeah, it is a weird stat. A fluky stat, but weird. Wanna know another stat? O.K., here’s one. Did you know that those 22 hits also came in like 115 at-bats to give him a .191/.248/.217 line? Wanna see some other cool stats, Grady? I got a few on Gonzo too! Sure, they’re not quite the fluky stats that help get people into the lineup, but, dude, just check these out, THESE ARE WHAT I CALL STATISTICS!!

Luis Gonzalez Since The All-Star Break:

.233/.277/.301

Oh, I got more!

Andre Ethier Since The All-Star Break:

.337/.417/.571

Yet Gonzo still gets to start. Hmmmmm…

On second guessers:

“A lot of people are capable of playing Nintendo baseball,” he said. “When you play fantasy baseball or on a computer, rarely do you take into account a missed umpire’s call or a tweaked hamstring.”

If you’ll excuse me, I need to go pay a visit to my Father – who’s probably never heard of fantasy baseball – and then my Grandfather, who’s never even touched a computer. Why, you ask? Because I need to tell them that since they also second guess Grady, that they are a bunch of fantasy baseball, Nintendo loving ninnies who are full of shit and that their opinions are worthless, as they obviously do not pay attention to umpire calls or player injuries. After all, it is ancient baseball secret that paying attention to missed umpire calls and tweaked hamstrings are what makes a great manager, right? If that’s the case, Stan Conte: you’re hired!

That quote is seriously one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard by a manager… and after dealing with five years of Jim Tracy I’ve heard some real doozies. At least he’d be so redundant I couldn’t make out what he was saying. But this? This is “Baseball Tonight”-like stupid.

Here’s a clue for you, jackass: just what the hell do you think we’re watching when the game is on? Do you think when I say “It’s Time For Dodger Baseball!” at 7 P.M. every night, we then just go run to our Sega Genesis and completely avoid what goes on during the game? Also, I’d love to hear the correlation between tweaked hamstrings and missed umpire calls (which you are so passionate about) with putting together sane lineups and good in-game managerial strategy.

Perhaps Bill James could write a new “Baseball Abstract” detailing this finding. I got it, he could come up with a new statistic: MUCATH (Missed Umpire Calls And Tweaked Hamstrings). Just picture the next time you’re getting into an argument with your friends over who is a good manager. It could go something like this…

Person 1: Say, you know, that Grady Little is a really shitty manager. He gives playing time to washed up vets and the better hitters have to fight for playing time.

Person 2: Obviously you do not pay attention to the game, as you play your “Virtual Baseball 1995″. Did you not see Grady’s MUCATH last night? Dude, it’s why we won! In fact, this year, Grady has contributed to his team’s success with a +22 MUCATH. He has such an insane MUCATH that he leads all NL managers in MUCATH… he is MOY material if not for his MUCATH alone, you fool.

“People only know part of it. There’s a reason why we do what we do.”

Really? So let me give you the benefit of the doubt for just this one second. So, because we haven’t taken into account a possible tweaked hamstring, is that why Ethier – the team’s hottest hitter since July – still has to fight for playing time? Did he tweak something last night that made Gonzo just HAVE to start in place of him? Because, you see, when Andre later came into the game today as a defensive replacement, he didn’t really look hurt. Oh well… it must have been a missed umpire’s call that kept him out.

But, you know, Grady, I’m glad you are showing a concern with player injuries because when me and my fellow fantasy nerds took a break to go grab our “Pong” game, we did notice a few things with injuries. For instance, we did notice Rafael Furcal still playing every day on one good ankle, we saw Jeff Kent playing on a bad hamstring, Matt Kemp hobbling around, and we still see Russell Martin running a little gimpy still. Speaking of Russell Martin…

I’m sure someone as cognizant as you has taken into account how much he’s been run into the ground, right, Grady? Surely for all these factors that you take into consideration – which we’re not capable of doing – that’s why Mike Lieberthal has only 12 starts this year and only TWO starts in the past FIVE weeks, right? Is that why he didn’t get to at least start one game during the Philadelphia series, his old team? Is that why Russell Martin has 73 of the 74 RBI’s generated from the catcher’s position this year?

Yes, Grady, you are right, there is a reason why you do what you do.

Because you’re a fucking idiot.

Now I have to cut this article short, as it’s almost 5:30 P.M. and it’s time for me to play “Baseball” on my Intellivision.

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