This Would Be Funny If It Weren’t So Excruciating

Man, it’s one thing to watch your offense struggle… and it’s another thing to watch it struggle like that. You figure you’ve got a perfect opportunity to break out of your offensive malaise, because you’re up against the worst team in baseball, and not only that, the 22-year-old opposing moundsman is something called “Collin Balester“, who I’m not afraid to admit I had never once heard of in my life before tonight. But what do we end up with? One run on seven hits, plus another wasted outstanding pitching performance (Derek Lowe the victim tonight, as it seems he so often is.)

Make no mistake, though. Regardless of what the scoreboard said, the Dodgers were shut out tonight. Their one run came after loading the bases on zero hits – back-to-back hit batters and a walk - and only came around when Nationals catcher Jesus Flores had a brainfart in not tagging Nomar at the plate on Matt Kemp’s fielder’s choice grounder to third.

Really, I can’t describe this any better than Dodgers.com reporter Michael Schwartz put it:

The Dodgers’ run of offensive futility has gotten so bad, they’re inventing new ways not to score runs.

And against the worst team in baseball no less.

Tuesday’s episode included four double plays, 10 runners left on base and a lineout double play with the bases loaded, as the Dodgers dropped their season-high-tying fifth straight game, 2-1, to the Nationals at Nationals Park.

It’s unbelievable. It’s not outright futility, the matching 0-5′s turned in by Kemp and Andre Ethier aside. It’s the complete lack of situational hitting that’s destroying this team right now. Four for thirty-nine with runners in scoring position over the last three games is completely unacceptable. Another opportunity lost, with Arizona on their way to defeat against San Diego. I’m still not ready to jump ship, not when you still have six more games left with the team you’re three games behind. But clearly, this needs to get fixed now. And yeah, I do feel like I’ve written the same post four days in a row.

So what now? Obviously, just hoping guys turn it around isn’t enough, although you can’t really replace the entire lineup, either. Look for some lineup changes for game two, although this quote from Torre seems to say that it’s more about rest than performance:

Torre still hopes to give Kent, catcher Russell Martin and possibly third baseman Casey Blake a breather in Los Angeles’ series against the last-place Nationals to keep them fresh in advance of this weekend’s showdown in Phoenix against the first-place D-backs, who entered Tuesday leading the Dodgers by three games in the National League West.

Kent could use a break, although he is 4-9 lifetime off of Nationals starter Tim Redding. If you’ve read this site at all lately, you know I want to see Martin get a break. Here’s what worries me, though: if Blake takes a seat, is Torre going to put Martin there again? Because we’ve been through this. That’s NOT a break for Martin. Put Nomar at third and Angel Berroa at short, or don’t rest Blake at all. I cannot stress this enough. I also have zero faith that it’s actually going to happen.

Finally, expect to see a roster move before the game, as Cory Wade is expected to be activated off of the disabled list. No word on who leaves town for him… but it has to be Tanyon Sturtze, right? The Dodgers are already carrying 12 pitchers on the roster, so it has to be an arm that goes down. I suppose it could be Ramon Troncoso too, optioned to Vegas until rosters expand, but Sturtze is barely…

Who am I kidding. Of course it won’t be Sturtze.

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

27-5

That would be the total in which the Dodgers were outscored in Philadelphia this weekend. What an embarrassment. This team doesn’t really deserve to make the playoffs – not that it ever really did – but Arizona did their best to help us out. If there was a half decent team in this division like all the others, by all rights the Dodgers would be 11 games out of first place and we wouldn’t have traded excellent prospects for guys like Casey Blake. There’s really nothing good you can take away from this series at all. The pitchers didn’t pitch (decent starts from Kuroda and Billingsley aside), the defense looked terrible at best and lazy at worst, and the offense.. my god, the offense. Who goes into Citizens Bank Park and has the offense disappear?

I can’t even talk about this debacle, so I’ll just leave you with some fun stats over the last 7 days, and while I’m not ready to say the season’s over just yet (not with two more series against Arizona), I will say that if the Blue don’t go into Washington and take at least two out of three, it’s time to pack it in.

Oh, and keep in mind with the stats below, the Dodgers played 7 games this week (some teams only played 5) and they were home against Colorado and in Philadelphia, not generally time you’ll see the offense fizzle. If they’d played against good pitching, they might somehow have scored negative runs.

Dodgers, Last 7 Days (MLB Rank):
Runs: 14 (30th of 30th)
BA: .250 (22nd)
OBP: .296 (25th)
SLG: .336 (29th)
OPS: .632 (29th)
RBI: 11 (30th)
ERA: 5.69 (25th)
Wins: 1 (tied, 30th)

If this team misses the playoffs and finishes at or below .500, there’s no way Ned Colletti can retain his job, right?

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

Tracy Ringolsby Has Never Watched The Game of Baseball

Friends, lets talk about the newspapers for a moment, if we can. Now, it may be true that we here at MSTI are just lowly bloggers, baseball fans without a journalism degree amongst us. We are held to no rules of integrity; if I wanted to post that James Loney and Joe Beimel held up a liquor store in Tijuana, shot the clerk, and sold his kidneys on the black market in order to finance their illegal gun-running operations, well goddamn it, I could do that. And what would happen to me? Probably nothing, except that people would stop reading this blog because it would stop being about baseball, and start being about stupidity. Okay, more about stupidity. That’s the main complaint the ‘legitimate media’ has about bloggers – that we have no training and no repercussions.

Which sort of makes me wonder how someone like Tracy Ringolsby of FOXsports.com and the Rocky Mountain News can write something as unbelievably insane – and let’s face it, lazy – as this piece of crap that showed up today, and have no repercussions. It’s one thing to have an opinion I don’t agree with – and it’s quite another to be so wrong and/or uninformed that its actually offensive.

Let’s get on with it:

What’s changed: After shelling out a five-year, $44 million contract for CF Juan Pierre a year ago, the Dodgers major move this off-season was to give out a two-year, $36.2 million contract to CF Andruw Jones. Plan is to move Pierre to left, replacing Luis Gonzalez, who left as a free agent.

Okay. Nothing too bad here – you might think that giving $35 million to Hiroki Kuroda would warrant a mention too, but, fine.

Battle front: Stuck with Nomar Garciaparra for another year after the inexplicable decision to re-sign him last season for two years, the Dodgers had to move him from first base to make room last year for James Loney. Now Garciaparra will battle with prospect Andy LaRoche for the third base job.

Still nothing that wonky. The fact that his first two points are relatively accurate should give you an idea of just how bad this is going to have to get to pull this whole article down to the level of “uninformed crap.”

Story line: A team that has taken the approach that wasting more money will cover up the money already wasted now has decided to bring in manager Joe Torre and hope that the calming influence he provided in New York can overcome the fractured clubhouse with the Dodgers. There’s one problem. In New York there was a strong home-grown foundation built around SS Derek Jeter. In Los Angeles, there’s no basis to build on.

And here we go! First of all, when Torre joined the Yankees in 1996, Jeter was 21 years old and had all of 12 major league hits under his belt. Even when the Yankees were winning it all in 1996 and going back to the playoffs in 1997, Jeter was merely a league-average hitter (101 and 103 OPS+ in those years). Point being, while Jeter obviously blossomed into a Hall of Famer, Torre hardly landed in the Derek Jeter Leadership Show. Joe Torre as manager of the Yankees predated “a home-grown foundation built around SS Derek Jeter.”

Second, this isn’t about the Yankees. “In Los Angeles, there’s no basis to build on.” You’re really going to say this in the very next sentence after bringing up a strong home-grown foundation? Really? So no love for 24-year-old Gold Glove winner/Silver Slugger winner/All Star starter/arguable best catcher in baseball/home-grown Dodger Russell Martin? Have we forgotten 22-year-old, .894 OPSing, home-grown Dodger Matt Kemp? Not interested in 22-year-old, already better than average and occasionally dominating, home-grown Dodger Chad Billingsley? I was going to come up with fun quips for Jonathan Broxton, and James Loney, all ending with “home-grown Dodger” – but you don’t need me to outline their achievements; if you’re reading this site, you know who they are.

The point is, there’s a pretty damned good home-grown foundation to build on. Which makes Tracy Ringolsby either wrong, ignorant, or both.

Strength: RH Takashi Saito has become a dominant closer and had particular success within the NL West last year. He was 2-1 with a 1.52 ERA and 16 saves in 18 opportunities within the division.

Alright. I might have gone with Martin here, but picking Saito as a strength is hardly a sin. Moving on:

Weakness: Besides SS Rafael Furcal and CF Andruw Jones there isn’t an average defensive player on the field, and that takes a toll on a team’s pitching staff.

Oh boy: here we go. Urge to kill… rising… rising… Come on! This is just ridiculous. Remember two paragraphs ago when I pointed out Russell Martin won a Gold Glove? Yet he doesn’t count as an “average” defensive player? By one metric from Baseball Prospectus, Andre Ethier was the 8th best defensive RF of 24 ranked in baseball last year. That would put him in the top 1/3 – yet Ringolsby asserts that he’s not even “average”? And James Loney? Already one of the smoothest first basement around. I’ll give you that Pierre is horrible, Kemp is inexperienced defensively thus far, and Kent has no range. So if by “not an average defensive player other than Jones or Furcal”, you really meant to say “Jones, Furcal, a Gold Glove catcher, and two other excellent fielders in Ethier and Loney”, that would make sense.

Unfortunately, I’m thinking what you, Mr. Ringolsby, really meant to say was, “oh, Andruw Jones and Rafael Furcal – those are names I’ve heard of. They must be good, and everyone else sucks.” I’m getting a little embarassed for you.

But it gets better!

Sleeper: LHP Clayton Kershaw is the top prospect in the system. If the Dodgers ever decide to truly give home-grown players a chance, the lefty will take charge.

GAHHH! I’m starting to bleed out of my forehead. Has this “journalist” ever watched a Dodger game? Or even a baseball game? Have we not already been through the fact that Martin/Ethier/Kemp/Billingsley/Broxton/Loney are enormous parts of this team, and have all already proven themselves at the big league level? Who hasn’t gotten a “chance” yet? LaRoche? He had a bad back most of 2007, and is likely to get every shot to beat out Nomar in 2008. Why does this myth persist? We are likely to have five under-27 home-grown starters this year, and six on days Billingsley goes. But, hey, we’re not “giving home-grown players a chance.” This is worse than just laziness – this is criminal.

Off-season dealings: Major free agent additions were CF Andruw Jones and backup C Gary Bennett. Major free agent losses were LHPs Randy Wolf, Mark Hendrickson and David Wells, RHP Roberto Hernandez, Olmedo Saenz and Rudy Sanchez, Cs Chad Moeller and Mike Liberthal, and OF Luis Gonzalez.

Gary Bennett. Barring injury, backup catcher for the Dodgers is about as strenous of a job as backup QB for the Packers. Yet he and his one-year deal to sit on the bench is a “major free agent addition”, while Hiroki Kuroda and his $35 million don’t even get a mention. Absolutely phenomenal work, here.

Oh, and Tracy? If you want to pretend to be a baseball journalist, could you at least, you know, spell the players names correctly? I don’t know who “Rudy Sanchez” and “Mike Liberthal” are, but somewhere Rudy Seanez and Mike Lieberthal are embarrassed for you.

As am I. Simply atrocious.

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

Random Stupid Quotes And Stupid People: Adrian Garcia

For all the crap that James Loney (along with Matt Kemp) has been getting lately about being unprofessional, blah, blah, blah, all that was laid to rest a couple of nights ago.

Folks, meet Adrian Garcia.

Since the beginning of this season, he has been the Dodgers new field reporter for FSN Prime Ticket. To be uncharacteristically succinct, he is a blithering idiot: I mean, really STUPID. Like Jessica Simpson stupid, but at least what she lacks in intelligence she makes up for in hotness. Or Grady Little stupid, which makes for real fun during the postgame interviews. I mean, he’s just… weird. Besides his God awful questions which make you scream “no shit, stupid!”, he’s an ass who completely overpronounces Latin names (although I swear he once tried to roll the R’s on Pierre), does bilingual interviews with players who actually DO speak English, and then sometimes mixes English AND Spanish at the same time when he talks. Then there was the ridiculous “Spanish Word Of The Day” thing. To top it off, he also has a fetish for the words “obviously” and “basically.”

It’s like: “And now we send it out to Adrian Garcia!”

“O.K., thanks guys, let’s talk about Rrrrrrr… (five minutes later)… afael Fuca, who obviously went 2-3 con un RBI and is hitting well… obviously.”

O.K., the point? After the Dodgers completely got bitch slapped yet again Thursday by the Rockies, 10-4, with two more RBI’s by Loney, James was brave enough to have another interview with Garcia. I say “another interview” after the gem from a couple of weeks ago when Garcia asked if Loney’s contacts gave him X-Ray Vision, which you could tell Loney was thinking like “What the hell?” Then Garcia asked if he could call him “Big Game James,” to which Loney said “call me whatever you want” and smartly took off.

So, just for the hell of it, I will first answer Garcia’s questions LIKE Adrian Garcia, and then put Loney’s real answer afterwards in bold.

Adrian Garcia: Alright guys, well, James Loney, tonight, 31 RBI’s, that’s where you’re at right now. How important is it for you to finish strong like this?

James Loney As Adrian Garcia: Well, you know, Adrian, I mean, with the way I’ve obviously been hitting the ball this past month, everyone’s been like, “ah, ta loco!” But basically, pretty much, no, it means nothing and I hope to finish off the year weak, pretty much, basically.

James Loney Como Adrian García: Bien, sabes, Adrian, yo significas, con la manera que he estado golpeando obviamente la bola este último mes, cada uno estado como, ” ¡ah, loco de TA! ” Pero básicamente, bonito mucho, no, significa que nada y yo espero acabar apagado el año débil, bonito mucho, básicamente.

James Loney: I want to finish strong, you know, like everybody else and, you know, and stay focused and try to win games.

AG: Now the Rockies have won 7 straight against you guys, are they that good?

JLAAG: No, I mean, they, you know, obviously like squashed our palotes in and out for the past two weeks and eliminated us and are obviously precisely within reach of the postseason still, obviously, but… no, they’re not all that good and neither is their manager, Clint Hurrrrrrrrr… (five minutes later)… dle obviously.

JLCAG: Besame, besame mucho, como si fuera esta noche la última vez. Besame, besame mucho, que tengo miedo a perderte, perderte despues. Quiero sentirte muy cerca mirarme en tus ojos verte junto a mí. Piensa que tal vez mañana yo ya estare lejos, muy lejos de ti.

JL: They got a great team over there, you know, they got some great hitters and, uh, you know, all around, actually, they’re pretty good. They’re playing for a spot in the playoffs so they’re playing hard.

AG: Now they have a big series over the weekend with the Diamondbacks, which of those two teams in your estimation has the edge there?

JLAAG: I would say basically precisely that it’s obvious that the team who pretty much scores more runs will basically have the advantage obviously.

JLCAG: La cucaracha, la cucaracha, ya no puede caminar. Porque no tiene, porque le falta marijuana que fumar. Ya murio la cucaracha, ya la llevan a enterrar. Entre cuatro zopilotes, y un raton de sacristan.

JL: I don’t know, they’re both great teams. I mean, I guess obviously the D-Backs have the edge, I think cause they’re a few games or so, but I don’t know, it should be a great series.

AG: Now for you guys, over the weekend, you got the Giants, is it important to finish at least at .500?

JLAAG: No, we’re obviously hoping those pendejos can beat the mierda out of us and we can finish below .500, so they can sweep us, obviously.

JLCAG: No, estamos esperando obviamente que esos pendejos pueden batir el mierda fuera de nosotros y podemos acabar debajo de .500, así que pueden barrernos, obviamente.

JL: Yeah, I would hope so, you know, hopefully you can win all those games and go end the season on a positive note. And, hopefully time passes quickly, so we can come back next year and do it big.

AG: Thanks, James, take care.

JLAAG: (jumps up and begins to strangle him)

Anyone who can put up with his interviews without strangling him IS a professional. And to think, Garcia replaced her…

 

Come back, Lindsay!

Thank you to Dictionary.com’s translator for letting me make mostly non-sensical and awful translations.

Vin vinscully-face.jpg

Mommy's Alright, Daddy's Alright, They Just Seem A Little Weird

*delete* *delete* *delete* *delete* *delete*.

Oh, hello there. Excuse for me just one second.

*delete* *delete* *delete* *slam head into desk* *delete*

Okay, fresh piece of blog paper. All that deleting up overnowcdcover.jpgthere? Well, that was me just finishing up a nice post about the Dodgers’ playoff hopes. That would be me running through some stats of what it would take for the Dodgers to catch the Padres, how many games each could win and lose, etc. etc. This was based on the Dodgers split with Colorado today. Because, up 4 with Broxton and Super Saito, that’s what it was going to be.

Well, if blowing this on home runs off of two fantastic pitchers who DO NOT GIVE UP HOME RUNS isn’t enough of a sign for us, I don’t know what is.

September 18, 2006, was the 4+1 game that will live on forever in Dodger annals.

September 18, 2007, was the death knell to this season.

Sorry, folks. It’s over. Done. Finished. The motherfucking plane has crashed into the motherfucking mountain. Even a few weeks ago when I was pretty down on our chances, I’d never really given up hope. But now? Forget it. Time to go home. Time to stop living and dying every night on this team. Time to take a breather and reflect on what’s been working and what hasn’t been working. And this shit? Just ain’t working.

Oh, we’ll still be posting here. Don’t you worry about that. Hopefully my next post will be a little more composed and less rambling than this. Consider this just the stream-of-conciousness of a tormented Dodger fan who’s realized that for the 20th season in a row, he’s poured his heart into a collection of guys who just can’t get the job done.

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