How to Improve the Offense: Trade a Good Young Hitter!

Brilliant. Why didn’t I think of that?

I wasn’t planning on putting up another post so soon after praising Martin (sidenote: Vote Martin ’08!), but this article just came out about two hours ago, and I can’t help but take a look at it here. It’s FOXsports.com’s Ken Rosenthal with more crazy trade rumors! I’m often torn between wanting to strangle him for some of the things he says, and wanting to send him a basket of candy for giving me gifts like this to write about.

What do you have for us today, Ken?

Make outfielder Matt Kemp available, and the Dodgers’ trade options quickly would multiply. Make Kemp available, and the team could put together a package for virtually any hitter on the trade market — the Pirates’ Jason Bay, maybe the Tigers’ Magglio Ordonez, maybe even the Rockies’ Matt Holliday.
 
To this point, the Dodgers have resisted moving Kemp or any of their other top young players, but their stance might be changing. “If we get to the point where we can definitively improve ourselves, we’ll do it,” general manager Ned Colletti told the Los Angeles Times.

This is already getting out of hand. No one denies the Dodgers could use some help on offense – that much is obvious. But trading Matt Kemp is in no way the answer. Remember back on April 6, when I posted a Baseball Prospectus article that showed that Kemp was off to a historic start for someone his age? Sure, he hasn’t necessarily kept up that pace, and we’d all hoped the power would have come along by now. But as someone who’s not even 24 for three more months, he’s still leading the team in slugging percentage (excepting Furcal, who hasn’t played enough to qualify.) Not to mention the fact that he’s shown a strong arm in both CF and RF, and much improved instincts in the outfield. No question that he’s got room to improve at the plate, but he’s not the problem here.

Also, I’m not sure how Colletti stating the obvious (if we can make ourselves better, we will) proves that “their stance is changing” on anything.

Kemp, batting .299-.346-.446 at age 23, possesses the tools to become a major star. A rival executive describes him as an “awfully, awfully intriguing talent,” one who only figures to get better. Questions persist about Kemp’s makeup and ability to make adjustments, but those are not unusual criticisms of a young player.

He certainly does possess the tools to become a major star, and is already proving so at the major league level. And while I’ve long though any issues about his makeup were overblown by the media, the end of this paragraph is dead on – he’s a young player. In the outfield, he’s already shown that experience has helped him immensely; why should we think the same won’t happen at the plate?

A trade of Kemp is not the Dodgers’ only alternative — the team also could pursue a less dramatic possibility, trading either first baseman James Loney or right fielder Andre Ethier to add more of a veteran presence to a lineup that ranks 11th in the National League in runs per game.

This is a little more reasonable. I don’t really want to see Loney moved after we waited so long to get him, but he’s been pretty underwhelming so far this year (97 OPS+). As for Ethier, he’s been a good, solid player who I think we’d all like to see manning the outfield for the next several years, but there’s no question he doesn’t have the ceiling that Kemp does.

The eventual returns of shortstop Rafael Furcal and even center fielder Andruw Jones should help the offense, but Furcal is expected to be out three more weeks, with the oft-injured Nomar Garciaparra replacing him at short. If the Dodgers ever get healthy — if — the addition of a proven slugger could be the difference in their quest to overtake the Diamondbacks in the NL West.

Well, Furcal, sure. But Jones? Really? Is anyone out there saying, “damn! if only we had Jones back, we’d be fine.” Anyone? Hey, I’m hoping that his time off and healthy knee will help him more than anyone, but what happens if/when he comes back and is still his same ineffective self?

Rosenthal then goes on to suggest deals for Adam Dunn, Magglio Ordonez, Matt Holliday, and Jason Bay. To which I say:

Dunn. I wouldn’t mind taking him for the next few months until he goes free agent, but not at the expense of Kemp.  
Ordonez. Magglio’s 34, missed two years to an experimental overseas knee surgery, and after getting $15m this year is in line for $18m next year and $33m more over 2010-11 with easily reached incentives. Uh, pass?
Holliday. Besides being a Boras client who’s free agent at the end of the year and being a divisional rival, he’s a massive Coors Field creation. Career home OPS, 1.088. Career road OPS, .780. Pass.
Bay. The only really interesting name on the list. Though he does turn 30 in September, he’s relatively cheap ($5.75m this year, $7.5m next year) and is absolutely killing the ball. I’d love to have him on the team. That said, I still wouldn’t move Kemp for him. But I would be willing to send Ethier and some other parts to Pittsburgh.

If the Dodgers are patient, Kemp might prove more productive than Bay, Ordonez or even Holliday. But this is a team that has won only one postseason game in the past 20 years. Colletti needs to win. Manager Joe Torre wants to win. And Matt Kemp is one powerful chip.

And herein lies the problem. One huge reason that the team hasn’t won in 20 years is that when the Dodgers have come up with talented young players, all too often they’ve been dealt off too soon (Pedro Martinez, Mike Piazza, etc.) So far, Colletti’s done an admirable job of not selling off our talented young players, but it’s the line “Colletti needs to win” that really gets me. The reason he needs to win is not because the young players haven’t performed to expectations (though that may be true, in some cases). The reason Colletti is feeling the pressure is because of all of the high-priced veterans he’s signed that haven’t lived up to their billing – i.e., Jones, Jason Schmidt, Nomar Garciaparra, Juan Pierre, etc. To further blow the future of this team because his mistakes have him on the hot seat could set this team back years.

One more Dodger-related note from Rosenthal:

The Dodgers, before obtaining shortstop Angel Berroa, attempted to acquire White Sox infielder Juan Uribe in a deal for Esteban Loaiza, major-league sources say. The Dodgers offered to split the difference between Loaiza’s contract and Uribe’s, but the White Sox balked and signed Loaiza for the pro-rated minimum after the Dodgers released him — a move that also enabled them to retain Uribe as a trade chip.

I’m torn about this idea. On one hand, Uribe is awful – after putting up a pretty good 111 OPS+ with 23 HR in 2004, his numbers have cratered straight downhill every year since. On the other hand, even while awful he still gets double digit HR every year, and even more importantly his acquisition might have forestalled that of Angel Berroa’s.

Speaking of Nomar and the infield situation, this line from Tony Jackson blew me away and is really what I’d intended to write about today:

Nomar Garciaparra, meanwhile, is expected to start a rehab assignment possibly by the end of this week, and he is expected to play exclusively SS on that assignment — which means he’ll probably be the Dodgers’ everyday SS, the position where he became a star in the late 1990s, when he returns. Torre said Nomar won’t need the full 20 days.

As someone who lived in Boston 4 years ago when the “Nomar as SS” idea really started to flame out, this blows my mind. Hey, remember last year when he had to stay at 1B, keeping Loney in AAA, because he was “too fragile” to play 3B? SS ought to be a trip. I can’t even blame Torre for putting this out there, because really, what else is he going to do? With Furcal’s return constantly up in the air, Angel Berroa clearly not the answer, and Nomar unlikely to be a permanent solution, we’re really going to need to look for yet another shortstop. I’m definitely going to be looking around the SS market to see who we can come up. Like, tomorrow.

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

Random Stupid Quotes And Stupid People: Ken Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal is back at it in his most recent column.  In it, he includes a section about the Dodgers.

From his article today:

On the surface, the Dodgers’ young position players appear to be doing fine: Catcher Russell Martin and center fielder Matt Kemp both boast on-base/slugging percentages over .800 and third baseman Blake DeWitt, right fielder Andre Ethier and first baseman James Loney are not far behind.

Team officials, however, are growing frustrated with the inability of the youngsters to react properly to game situations. DeWitt shows a knack for making adjustments, but Kemp, in particular, can look brilliant one moment, awful the next. Even the highly regarded Martin is “flattening out,” one club official says.

Russell Martin as of 6-9-08:

.314/.422/.429, 121 OPS+, .299 EqA, second highest VORP amongst catchers in MLB… yeah, he’s sure flattening out; in fact, he’s toast.  Someone notify Chase Carey, immediately!

And note how Rosenthal only cites Kemp.  Even if Martin is flattening out, that doesn’t necessarily mean it directly ties in with his ability to adjust to game situations.  So, basically, we should believe that all the youngsters (who Rosenthal says either has OPS’s near or above .800), sans Blake DeWitt, have an inability to adjust properly to game situations because Matt Kemp looks brilliant and awful every other day.  Yes, makes perfect sense.

Martin’s game-calling came under scrutiny when the Cubs’ Kosuke Fukudome hit a go-ahead single off Takashi Saito on Thursday after smacking a home run off Chad Billingsley earlier in the game.

And that’s the ONLY reason why we lost?  Due to Martin’s game calling?  I’m not saying that maybe it didn’t contribute, I’d have to watch the inning again, but it’s a stretch to put that much blame on him.  Was it his fault Saito also hit a batter that inning, as well?

Before we heap the blame on Martin, who, if anything, has historically gotten praise for his game calling since he’s been in the big leagues (including from Greg Maddux), Saito has been rather inconsistent all year long and, up until recently, Billingsley has been erratic, too.

The Dodgers clearly miss injured shortstop Rafael Furcal and even center fielder Andruw Jones, who — as poorly as he was hitting — at least provided veteran presence in the lineup.

Oh My God… how boneheaded do you have to be to make this statement?  Why should a veteran showing a presence in a lineup be a virtue solely based on that?  In fact, it’s such a virtue that Rosenthal implies that it supercedes actual production, such as in his example of Jones.  If that’s the case, do you remember on Opening Day, during the fancy pregame stuff, Duke Snider came out and just stood in center field?  I argue that we should have KEPT him there.  In fact, we should have played all of the old Dodger greats who appeared there, instead.  I mean, look at all the “veteran presence” they have, with some great stories to boot!  I mean, who cares if they’re old and crusty… did you know, they have a combined score of 2093840928 on the veteraniness scale?!  Who gives a flying fig how well they can play… as long as they’ve been in the game for a bazillion years, that’s all that matters!

However, there’s something to note in this article and it’s been a trend since last year: the same standards that they want the kids to have go away when it comes to the veteran players.  They’re rarely applied.  Essentially, being a veteran is just enough and, therefore, because of that, they’re exempt from criticism of their play.  For crying out loud, I repeat:

The Dodgers clearly miss injured shortstop Rafael Furcal and even center fielder Andruw Jones, who — as poorly as he was hitting — at least provided veteran presence in the lineup.

I mean, really, think of what this statement is saying.  He is literally saying that having a player who couldn’t even hit .200 and is, thus far, one of the biggest FA signing busts EVER, is good to have in the lineup… because he’s played a long time.  I shit you not.

Yes, perhaps the kids do not quite yet understand some of the nuances that comes with the game and being a mystical veteran, but you know what they CAN do that veterany guys like Andruw and Sweeney can’t?

Get to fucking first base!

I mean, how absurd can this be?  If we’re going to criticize the kids for failing to live up to certain aspects of being a baseball player, why aren’t those same standards applied to the elder players – the ones who are supposed to be, like, the shit  – when they fail to succeed at the most elementary concepts of the game… like, hitting a ball?  In other words, why is it that when these kids, putting up near or above .800 OPS as Rosenthal says, make certain errors, it’s plastered throughout the media, while Rosenthal gives the likes of  Andruw Jones, hitting below .200, get a free pass and, in fact, even say that he’s needed in the lineup?  While we’re at it, where was the criticism last year over the horrific baserunning of Jeff Kent?  When Matt Kemp did that, he was being dumb (which he was), but when Kent or other veterans did it, they were just being “aggressive.”  Where was anyone when Juan Pierre got picked off at second base, last week?  Where is the lament over the fact that the veteran Mark Sweeney only has FOUR hits all year?!  Or the fact that, even though he’s really picked it up the past week and a half, Jeff Kent still has a line of .252/.291/.424, 82 OPS+ and is still on pace to become one of the worst clean up hitters ever?  If the near or above .800 OPS hitting kids can’t adjust to game situations, what do you call this?  Most bloggers realize this, other fans know it… the media and some people in the organization?  Not so much, it seems.

None of the young regulars is playing poorly enough to merit a demotion, even though making an example of one might jolt the others.

So, basically, in order to motivate our team, instead of replacing dead weight (i.e. Sweeney) and making other roster adjustments, let’s make examples out of our best players.  Great plan, Ken!

By the way, mentioning these shortfalls by the veterans isn’t to deflect the criticism from the kids; Rosenthal isn’t completely wrong about Kemp.  Matt Kemp is incredibly amazing and then incredibly frustrating to watch… sometimes within the same game or even the same inning.  But he’s still a 23 year old kid who has only been playing the game a little more than FIVE years.  What do you expect?  For that matter… uh…, aren’t these youngsters also called “the kids” for a reason?  Certainly they need to continue to grow and make strides, of course they need to work in certain areas… most players do.  But you’d think they were clueless fringe players with the way they’re talked about.  Even despite their flaws, the kids (except Loney, who has been the one true disappointment, this year) are STILL amongst the best hitters on the team.

Yet it’s not even so much the criticism that bothers me that much, however whacked it is, as much as the fact that, in the process of criticizing the kids, the media (and perhaps even our GM) ends up giving complete blow jobs to veterans for, in many cases, just still playing.  All I ask is for consistency.  Of course, I also ask for a million dollars, but the chances of either happening are remote, at best…

And, for the record, let’s not forget, this organization hasn’t been the greatest at giving these kids the opportunity to get the experience and learn these important nuances in the first place, which is the irony of this.  On one hand, they threw every hurdle they could at James Loney last year and he wasn’t called up until June, as Nomar was fully into his horrific decline.  Players like Ethier and Kemp still had to battle for playing time in the second half, after it was clear that 1.  they were ready and 2.  Gonzo was done.  Essentially, this is the very first year these kids, sans Martin, are going into the season knowing that they will be getting a lot of playing time.

And now you expect them to act like polished 10 year veterans?  That’s ridiculous.  Even success stories like the 2007 Rockies and Diamondbacks dealt with their kids going through the usual struggles before they hit their stride.  It’s naive to have these utopian expectations of a youth movement where all these kids come up polished and ready and immediately lead their team to the championship or at least coast through without any downsides.  It’s like a Dad expecting their college graduate son to immediately make a six figure income out of college.  Struggles will happen and, unless they’re actively not listening to any feedback – and nothing has suggested that – you deal with it, if you’re truly committed to a youth movement.

But, no, screw that; we need veterans.  Let’s instead become the Seattle Mariners or Detroit Tigers.  Loaded with veteraniness.  Sure has worked out for them, this year…

- Vin vinscully-face.jpg

And Hey, Maybe Kevin Elster’s Available Too!

Ken Rosenthal has a new “Full Count” video up over at FOXsports.com. Which, thanks a ton, FOX, for not allowing me to embed your videos here. That’s helpful. Now I’m going to have to point out that as stupid an idea as it is to have Rosenthal talking under what appears to be a rain delay, it’s even stupider when the rain effect is so bad that it just looks like the highway speeding by under his face. Like forcing Joe Buck and Tim McCarver on us wasn’t bad enough.

Anyway, Rosenthal has two tidbits of Dodger-related information, which I will present to you in reverse order, because it serves my purposes.

It no longer is a given that the team will exercise Brad Penny’s option for next season, and that could potentially lead to a trade before July 31st. The Dodgers might just prefer to get something for Penny in return rather than pay him a $2 million buyout at the end of the season. Penny’s ERA in May? 8.82.

Now, we have no idea whether this is really the feeling in the Dodger front office, or just Ken Rosenthal trying to come up with some news he heard from the ex-girlfriend of the cousin of the mailman of Ned Colletti’s high school math teacher. Doesn’t this seem unlikely in just about every way? I can’t argue that Penny has been anything but a huge disappointment this year, of course. But I find it hard to believe that they would trade him or not pick up his option, although I would admit that if there had been any chance of him getting a long-term extension that’s gone out the window for now. Why trade him? His value is at the absolute lowest it’s been in years, so that doesn’t make sense – and it forces the team to rely on either Clayton Kershaw or Jason Schmidt down the stretch. As for not picking up his option, that’s silly. His option next year is for $8.75 million. You tell me where you’re going to find a guy who started the last two All Star games and finished third in the Cy Young voting last year on a one year deal for under $9 million. Of course you pick it up.

Besides, Penny hasn’t been a complete disaster here. We’re not talking about the Andruw Jones of pitching. Don’t forget, he won four out of his first six starts this year. As recently as May 2 – a month ago tomorrow – he was 4-2 with a 3.29 ERA, having not allowed more than four earned runs in any of his first seven starts. Of course, he’s gone off the cliff since then; in his ensuing five starts he has four losses and a no-decision, having not allowed less than four earned runs in any of them. While again, he hasn’t been effective, there’s something to be said for his just plain being unlucky, too: in the last month, his BABIP (batting average on balls in play, generally considered to be a stat that the pitcher has little control over) is .391, which is completely unsustainable and points to either a ton of hits falling in the wrong places and/or the defense not helping him out.

Hey, there’s always the possibility he doesn’t come out of this or reveals an injury, and if either of those happen then maybe I rethink my position. But I think it’s insane to consider getting rid of a pitcher with a good history of sucess and an incredibly reasonable option for next year based on what is essentially a lousy month.

Back to Rosenthal:

The Dodgers talks with Rafael Furcal about a long-term contract were growing serious just as Furcal was sidelined by his lower back strain. Now the Dodgers might need to think twice about locking up another frequently-injured player long-term.

This is really going to be a tough call. We’ve all seen how brutal this offense is without Furcal, and especially how bad Chin-Lung Hu has been at the plate, so this might really be shaping up to be a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-dont situation. For his part, Hu says it’s all mental:

“I think too much about where my legs should be, about having my hands up,” Hu said. “I forget about what the pitcher wants to pitch to me.” He’s 0 for his last 15, while his batting average has sunk to .170. He should be taking at-bats at Triple-A right now, but the Dodgers can’t afford to send him down with Rafael Furcal sidelined.

Tony Jackson also reports that the Dodgers are trying to add a veteran shortstop, as the two-headed-monster of Hu’s great glove and terrible bat paired with Luis Maza’s adequate bat and mediocre arm just can’t work all season:

Dylan Hernandez, Diamond Leung and I got a few minutes with Ned Colletti in the tunnel after the game. Said he might be getting close to acquiring a veteran utility infielder who could better plug the gap while Furcal is out, or if Furcal is out again later in the season.

He doesn’t mention who, of course. Mlbtraderumors.com has a list of the shortstop trade market going here, but most of those names are starters of varying skill who probably would either not come cheap or not be happy going to a bench role once Furcal comes back. Here’s one veteran infielder I really hope it’s not, though:

Longtime major-league infielder Jose Vizcaino, 39, now a special assistant with the Dodgers, said he hasn’t completely ruled out coming back as a player next season. Originally signed by the Dodgers out of the Dominican Republic, Vizcaino spent 18 seasons in the majors with eight different clubs, including two stints with the Dodgers.

He last played in the majors in 2006 with St. Louis, when his career ended because of an injury.

This is going to blow your mind; I looked up his career stats at baseball-reference intending to make a snarky joke like “his career also ended due to being subpar at the game of baseball,” but this is beyond even what I expected. Jose Vizcaino played in parts of 18 seasons between 1989-2006. Jose Vizcaino had a season where he had a 100 OPS+ (i.e., league average for that season)… zero times. Not once. Not only that, other than a 90 OPS+ in 2002, he hasn’t even been within 20% of league average since 1996! But hey, at least he’ll be 40 next season.

Finally, some fantastic news out of the minors: Andy LaRoche has begun playing some second base in AAA! In his first start there last night, he was 1-4, but more importantly didn’t commit an error and even got involved in a 6-4-3 DP. This is something I’ve been on for a while (namely here and here) so I’m glad to see him finally getting some time there.

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

The Smell of Grass, the Crunch of the Dirt…

…. and the blood in the water. Well, it only took until March 9 for the rumors to start flying! With LaRoche out for 8-10 weeks, Nomar hardly the epitome of durability, and Jeff Kent 40 and already nursing a hamstring pull, the media is already circling. Now, I like to think that Nomar and Kent’s issues are just minor, and considering their ages and the fact that it’s still only March 9, the team is erring on the side of caution. Which, is of course, the entirely correct way to go. But since the presumed main backup at 2B & 3B, Tony Abreu, has played all of one game this spring, it’s hard to count on him, so I suppose I can’t really blame – for once – the rumormongers for coming out on this one.

Let’s start within the blogosphere at South Side Sox, who wonder if the Dodgers might want to acquire Joe Crede. Sell me, boys!

Crede and Inge are very similar players in that they’re both low-OBP, defensive minded, slugging third basemen. But Crede brings more power, a better contact rate, and a smaller salary — Inge is owed $19.1M over the next three years. Why wouldn’t the Dodgers be interested?

Well, I’ll admit that Crede is a far more attractive option than Brandon Inge, if only because Crede is only on the books for $5.1 million for this year, rather than the $19.1 over three for Inge. Also, as you may have read, Brandon Inge is in no way the answer to our problems. I don’t know that Joe Crede is, either – players who manage to get a league average OPS in exactly one of their four seasons and are 8% below average for their career aren’t exactly drool-inspiring. But Crede does have some pop, and on a one year deal, as an injury stopgap, I could live. Oh, what’s that?

I know, I know, Crede’s got a bum back. But he’s appeared healthy (with the exception of his throws to 1B) in camp, and the Dodgers might only need him for 2-3 months anyway.

Oh, well, you’ve got me convinced. He’s totally healthy – except that he can’t make the throws to first base. Well, why didn’t you say so? What MLB team couldn’t get by for 2-3 months with a third baseman who’d have to run every grounder to first base? Yeah, thanks: PASS.

Over at FOXsports.com, Ken Rosenthal says that we’ll be lucky enough to bypass the Inge/Crede route entirely:

Instead of pursuing a high-priced third baseman, the Dodgers are looking for a more versatile infielder who can play second and third, backing up Jeff Kent and Nomar Garciaparra. 

Which is all well and good, except Tony Jackson, who I trust way more on Dodger issues than Rosenthal, says not quite yet:

Joe and Ned met this morning, and pursuing a 3B from outside the organization was discussed, but don’t look for it to happen until later in the spring, after all other options are explored — and those options DO include trying Delwyn Young and Chin-lung Hu at 3B.

Considering that Young has been surprisingly excellent at 2B this spring, and Hu has such a dazzling defensive reputation at SS that it’s not hard to imagine him being able to smoothly handle the fielding aspects of 2B and 3B, this seems to be the wise course.

Rosenthal, back to you:

Delywn Young, who is out of options, is an internal possibility for the utility role, but his defense might not be strong enough for the Dodgers to justify carrying him.

Not impossible, but as he says, “out of options”, so I’d be very surprised to not even see him get a shot. But okay, Ken, who might we otherwise be looking at?

The Nationals’ Ron Belliard and Royals’ Esteban German, both of whom are attracting the Dodgers’ interest, would be more affordable than the Tigers’ Brandon Inge or White Sox’s Joe Crede.

Well there’s two names I would have never thought of. Belliard’s not a bad target, at first belliard.jpgglance. The Nationals have a huge middle infield glut between Belliard, Christian Guzman, Felipe Lopez, and the inexplicable resurgance of the corpse of Bret Boone, so it’s well-known they’re going to need to dump someone. He’s been around a surprisingly long time – despite being only 30, he’s got 8 seasons with at least 350 at-bats. He hit .290 with 11 homers last year for the Nats, though a .332 OBP leaves a bit to be desired. He only played 2 games at third base last year and one in 2006. Before that, he hadn’t touched the bag since 2002. And, he’s no simple stop-gap: the Nats, for some reason, signed him to a 2-year, $3.5 million deal this offseason. I don’t hate the idea, but I still don’t prefer him to Delwyn Young, and we haven’t even gotten into what it would cost in trade to acquire him. PASS.

Esteban German? You know what? I actually like this one. He’s been kicking around for parts of six seasons, and finally got some real playing time the last two seasons. Look at this line in german.jpg2006 – only 279 at-bats, but still, a .326/.422/.459 line (128 OPS+) is pretty impressive. He dipped a little last year to .264/.351/.376, but I’ll still take that .351 OBP from a backup role. Even better, in the last two seasons he’s seen time at every position except for 1B and RF. Plus, he’s signed for a very reasonable $1 million this year. A quick glance at the Royals depth chart shows that he’ll have a fight for playing time behind Mark Grudzielanek, Alberto Callaspo, and Tony Pena, Jr., up the middle, so it might not cost more than a mid-level prospect to get him. I wouldn’t want him at the expense of having to cut Young free without giving him a shot, but on the whole: ACCEPTABLE!

The season is still three weeks away, but it’s certainly not quiet around Dodgertown. And just wait until the whole China trip starts. Oh, and if you haven’t yet seen this clip of Clayton Kershaw’s absolutely ridiculous curvevall today against the Red Sox, sit back, relax, and enjoy (fantastic find by Jon Weisman at DodgerThoughts):

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2M0c6DxCMY]

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

Ken Rosenthal: My New Favorite Writer

Ken Rosenthal! Please! Enlighten us. And wondering what’s with the picture? It popped up on a Google Image Search for “Ken Rosenthal”. I’m assuming it’s an artist by the same name, and not a self-portrait of the FOXsports.com writer, but it seems to fit all the same.

After signing Torii Hunter and trading for Jon Garland, the Angels are pushing hard to acquire Miguel Cabrera.
The Dodgers?kerosenthal4d.jpgTheir off-season might have been over before it began, judging from comments by owner Frank McCourt in Sunday’s Boston Globe

“I think we’re in good position right now,” McCourt said. “We don’t have to make a deal. We made the biggest move we needed to make in signing Joe.”

First of all, I still don’t understand why we should care even a little bit what the Angels do. The Dodgers outdrew Anawhatever last year, as they do nearly every year. Except for the 6 interleague games a year, the Angels aren’t a direct competitor on the field, either. Why do I care what goes on down there? Well, except to point and laugh when they give Torii Hunter a ridiculous contract to give themselves 6 outfielders. Thanks, guys! Also, “we don’t have to make a deal” is a good thing, no? Keeps our great young prospects? Right?

Well, Torre is not enough.

His hiring should be a beginning, not an end — especially for a team that plays in the booming L.A. market and has finished second only to the Yankees in home attendance the past four seasons.

Judging by my calendar, it’s November 26.  The Winter Meetings haven’t even started yet. There’s been about 3 trades and 4 free agents who’ve gone to new teams. Have they moved Opening Day up to December 1 and no one told me about it? Relax, Kenny.

The lowly Reds, for goodness sake, are not content with the hiring of a big-name manager, Dusty Baker. They’re trying to sustain their momentum and build a better team. Signing free-agent closer Francisco Cordero to a four-year, $46 million contract doesn’t exactly qualify as shrewd, but at least it demonstrates commitment.

I’ll give you this – it takes some real journalistic talent to contradict yourself in the space of one sentence. Cordero’s deal was a completely insane one, especially for a team that had such starting rotation issues it couldn’t even get a lead to the closer half the time. Not only that, Rosenthal admits in this exact paragraph that it wasn’t “shrewd”. But hey, “at least it demonstrates commitment.” Committment to fiscal irresponsibility by a small-market team, perhaps. Did anyone really want the Dodgers to give $46 million to Francisco Cordero? Anyone?

McCourt talks the talk, saying, “If there’s a player or two out there that can make us better, I’m very interested.”

But let’s see him back up those words.

Again. The season ended like 10 minutes ago.  Pitchers and  catchers don’t report for nearly 3 more  months.

This is my favorite part of the article coming up:

Two of the Dodgers’ division rivals, the Rockies and Diamondbacks, met in the NL Championship Series — and only figure to get better. A third NL West club, the Padres, routinely contends despite limited resources.

And the Dodgers’ answer to this is … nothing?

Please. Someone, please explain this to me – on more than one level.

1. “The Rockies and Diamondbacks only figure to get better.” Why do you say that, Ken? Because they have a good amount of young, inexpensive homegrown prospects who are just making their mark on the bigs, and figure to improve over the next few years? Well, good point. The Dodgers have absolutely no one who fits that description.

2. “And the Dodgers’ answer to this is … nothing?” Setting aside how early in the offseason it still is, what exactly have the Rockies and D-Backs done? Colorado’s probably losing their starting catcher, half of their bullpen, and their second baseman. Arizona hasn’t made a single move at all. You’re right. We better hurry to catch up!

No, that would be too strong, too early a condemnation. The Dodgers remain in the mix for Cabrera. They could sign Aaron Rowand or Andruw Jones to play center field. They might even attempt to trade for Johan Santana.

Oh, they’re going to do something, but they’ve already passed on Hunter and appear destined to pass on Cabrera, who would cost them at least two elite young players in a trade.

Wait, now you’re saying it’s too early to condemn them?  After you’ve been, you know, condemning them for not doing anything yet? And, by the way, passing on Hunter was a GOOD thing, for the contract he got, and for how slightly-above-average he is.

It’s also understandable that the Dodgers do not want to include both outfielder Matt Kemp and Class AA left-hander Clayton Kershaw in a deal for Cabrera. Both could develop into stars, centerpieces of the Dodgers’ next championship team. Then again, the same was said of former Dodgers phenoms such as Joel Guzman and Edwin Jackson, and neither came close to fulfilling his hype.

Did you ever think that, just maybe, the Dodgers see something in Kemp and Kershaw that they didn’t see in Guzman and Jackson? You can knock Colletti forever for the dreck he got back from Tampa Bay – I’m no fan of Lurch or Lugo. But maybe, just maybe, the man has a talent for trading away the right prospects and holding onto the guys who can succeed.  I don’t think anyone misses Guzman or Jackson… but we’re all happy we still have Martin, Billingsley, and Loney.

I’m not even going to quote the rest, because he just blathers on about how the Dodgers have money, and they don’t spend as much of it as the Angels – which, fine, but I’m still not sure why I should care about what they do.

So Ken. Please. Relax. Take a vacation. Have a mai-tai on the beach. Remember how early in the offseason it is. And stop advocating that we send all of our best young players for older, more expensive players. You’ve no idea how many sheep there are out there that take this kind of crap seriously.

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