Congratulations, Russ Mitchell

Let’s take the bright spots where we can, and Russ Mitchell ending an 0-15 start to his career with not only his first hit, but his first home run, is worth noting. Why is the picture above of his back, and not, say, him following through on the dinger? Well, you can thank ESPN.com for having 47 pictures of fog and Jonathan Sanchez, but only this one of Mitchell.

Otherwise? Ted Lilly got bombed, and I can’t think of a single reason why anyone should be surprised that after his stellar first four starts, he’s got a 7.09 ERA and a 1.020 OPS against (and eight homers!) in the ensuing five. Did anyone really think he was going to keep up that performance? Of course not.

Of course, when your team once again manages only four hits – one by pinch-hitter Chin-lung Hu, of all people – it’s really not going to matter what your pitching does… not that anyone could have seen that coming.

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I’m away for the weekend again, so you might not hear from me until Sunday evening. In the meantime, be sure to check out Dave Brown’s stellar interview of Vin Scully for Yahoo’s Big League¬†Stew. Dave was kind enough to ask me to help with a few questions, but as other people have noted, Vin is so reluctant to talk about himself that interviews with him are often dry or generic. Dave was able to get Vin to share some new (to me, at least) facts and stories; I particularly enjoyed the “Seventh Inning Walk“.

Finally: yes, I’ve seen Peter O’Malley’s comments about Frank McCourt needing to sell, and yes, I completely agree. Of course, we started down this path when O’Malley sold to FOX in 1998, so while I like seeing more public pressure on the McCourts, O’Malley has to share at least a small portion of the blame here.

Russ Mitchell Is Getting His Money’s Worth

The official Dodger Twitter feed has tonight’s lineup…

#Dodgers lineup: Furcal-6, Carroll-4, Blake-5, Ethier-9, Kemp-8, Johnson-7, Mitchell-3, Barajas-2, Kuroda-1

…and what’s notable here is that Russ Mitchell is getting his third straight start, two of which have come over James Loney. That’s the same Russ Mitchell who’s 0-5 with a K in his first two games, and who I said I didn’t have high hopes for. Don’t get me wrong; this is a good thing, since I’ve been saying that it’s time to see what the new guys can do for a while. It’s just very odd, especially on a Joe Torre team, to see a mid-level prospect like Mitchell get that sort of immediate treatment.

My prediction? Tonight’s the night they break out, because it’s the first time since July (I believe) that neither Scott Podsednik or Ryan Theriot are in the lineup. They’ll put up 11 runs on 14 hits, and then tomorrow¬† Torre will play them both, saying, “runs are nice, but we need more grit.”

Tonight’s the Night for John Lindsey

I present four points:

1) Tonight, the Padres start lefthanded rookie Cory Luebke, who’s making just his second big-league start. He gave up two homers to the Rockies last week in his debut, despite the game being in San Diego, not Colorado.

2) Dodger first baseman James Loney is hitting just .211/.255/.299 against lefties, and just .206/.278/.322 against everyone since the All-Star break, including 0-4 with 2 K last night.

3) The primary right-handed backup at 1B, Ronnie Belliard, was sent packing via DFA just yesterday.

4) John Lindsey, everyone’s feel-good story, has not yet received a plate appearance since his recall. His line against lefties in AAA this year was .430/.477/.719, and while I’m sure there’s a lot of ABQ in that line, that’s still pretty ridiculous.

Seems pretty clear, right? The offense is stagnant, Loney can’t hit lefties – or anyone, really – and you have a power bat who crushes lefties dying for a chance. There’s no better time for Lindsey to start than tonight, and there’s no excuse if it doesn’t happen. It’d be one thing if it was just a nice story to watch in this dismal season, but there’s real baseball reasons to do it as well.

Ideally, this wouldn’t be the only move; Andre Ethier should absolutely not be playing against a lefty tonight either, and I wouldn’t be crushed to see Russ Mitchell at 3B rather than Casey Blake, but not starting Lindsey at 1B tonight is truly indefensible.

Do the right thing, Joe.

Update: Well, sort of. Dylan Hernandez reports that Mitchell will be starting at 1B tonight. It’s not Loney, and it is one of the new arrivals, so that’s nice, but starting Mitchell over Lindsey does seem odd. Dodgerfan.net points out that they think comments made by Ned Colletti point to Lindsey playing a bit in the upcoming series against Houston.

Catching Up on the Weekend

After three days out in the farmland of middle America, I’m back and trying to catch up on the weekend. So what’d I miss?

The Dodgers sunk further out of the race. In losing the weekend series against the Giants, the Dodgers scored just six runs in three games – two of which came off the bat of Chad Billingsley. Headed into tonight’s series opener in San Diego, they’re just one game over .500, 8 games out in the division and 8.5 behind the Phillies for the wild card. They are, obviously, done. The Padres come in on a ten-game losing streak, but the Dodgers haven’t been able to do anything about it. At this point, the only number that matters is “17″ – that’s the current elimination number.

One bright spot from the weekend was the performance of Billingsley, however, and not just for his bat. He’s got a 1.79 ERA over his last nine starts; in many ways, he’s having one of the best seasons of his career, as he’s currently rocking the lowest WHIP, FIP, and BB/9 in his time in the bigs.

Hey, remember how many people wanted to give up on him after his rough end to 2009, claiming he didn’t have “the heart of a competitor”? Yeah, I’ll be taking some credit for not jumping on that bandwagon, thanks.

John Lindsey lives the dream! I don’t think anyone can be against a story like this; as I called for last week, career minor-leaguer John Lindsey is finally getting the call to the bigs. Read this section of Ramona Shelburne’s story, and I dare you not to smile:

“Oh man, the second [Isotopes manager Tim Wallach] told me my whole brain kind of shut down. I was hearing what he was saying, but I couldn’t even believe it,” Lindsey said.

“He went to shake my hand and I had to hug him because my legs were so weak.”

Lindsey said Wallach had initially tried to fool him by asking him to come into his office, then slamming the door.

“I think he was trying to mess with me, but [hitting coach] Johnny Moses was in the corner, trying to keep a straight face the whole time, but he couldn’t stop smiling,” Lindsey said.

“Wally told me it was the happiest day as a manager he’s ever had. I walked out of that office and hugged all my teammates, called my wife, and I haven’t stopped smiling or pacing around the clubhouse since.

“I probably won’t sleep the next three or four days.”

Lindsey probably won’t get many – if any – starts, but I hope they do give him a shot to provide some power off the bench. It’s certainly better than more bench at-bats wasted on Ronnie Belliard, right?

Also called up were John Ely, Jon Link, & Chin-lung Hu, who we all know plenty about, and Russ Mitchell, who would be making his major league debut. To be honest, I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Mitchell. He’ll be 26 before next season starts, yet he had a line of just .241/.298/.406 last year, his second season in AA. Overall, his career OBP in the minors was just .321. Somehow that was good enough to get him to AAA, where he took advantage of the ABQ environment to rake: .315/.363/.535, with 23 homers.

That’s not an accident, either; his OPS at home was 1.164, but on the road it was just .834, and it’s not like ABQ is the only park in the PCL that caters to offense, either. Still, Mitchell offers nice versatility – while he’s primarily a 3B, he also saw time at 1B, 2B, LF, & RF this year – and it’s nice to see another homegrown prospect make the bigs, so maybe he’ll make an impression and get into the mix for a utility role next year.

Jonathan Broxton blew up again. You’ve probably noticed that there’s some sort of “blog war” brewing over Broxton. (Yes, it’s the nerdiest war in history.) To be honest, this whole thing is pretty stupid. Is there really anyone who’s saying that Broxton isn’t pitching terrible right now? Of course not; since the June 27th disaster against the Yankees he’s been tuned up to an .861 OPS and a 7.71 ERA. Whether there’s an injury (his velocity is down) or a mechanical issue (his movement and control are horrible), there’s clearly something wrong. So if you want to jump on Broxton for being awful right now, I certainly won’t be refuting you.

But let’s just not to pretend that he’s the biggest or only problem with the 2010 club, as though the mediocre offense (15 shutouts, more than any other club), lousy defense, questionable management (time wasted on Garret Anderson & the Ortizes, plus everything Joe Torre does), and multitude of injuries (Furcal, Manny, Ethier, Martin, etc.) had no impact at all. Are the Dodgers in better shape if Broxton was pitching like he was in 2009, or the first half of 2010? Sure they are. But close enough to be a serious playoff contender? No, probably not. Broxton hasn’t helped, but he’s far from the #1 problem with this team.

Clearly, there’s something wrong with Broxton, and that’s been proven no matter what inning he appears in – and let’s not forget that he was basically the best closer in baseball for the first three months of the season. I think we’d all do better to try and figure out what the problem is rather than cast aspersions on the man’s tenacity or bravery, no?

Jay Gibbons is making his case. If you look at #5 on my list of things I wanted to see over the rest of the season, you’ll see “finding out if Jay Gibbons is worth a roster spot for next season.” So what happened? Gibbons got the start on Saturday and collected his third homer of the season. Someone remind me again why it took so long to get rid of the corpse of Anderson and get Gibbons up here – not like many of us hadn’t been calling for just that for months – because I sure as hell can’t come up with a good reason.

The “Tim Wallach” watch is starting to heat up. Kevin Baxter’s LA Times profile of Wallach contains a piece that practically jumps off the page:

Wallach says he interviewed for a big league job once, making the short list before the San Diego Padres decided to go with Bud Black four years ago. But he says it’s a good thing he didn’t get that job because the last two years in Albuquerque provided an invaluable apprenticeship.

“If I hadn’t done this, I would have been overmatched in the big leagues,” Wallach says. “I made a lot of mistakes because I was not ahead in the game. You have to be a couple of innings ahead, six hitters ahead.”

If that doesn’t shout “Don Mattingly has no managerial experience” in big neon capital letters, I don’t know what does. Also noted within that article is that fact that Ned Colletti understands that if Wallach isn’t the Dodger manager in 2011, he’ll likely be with another organization.

If so, that would really be a shame. Really, I’m just about completely on-board the Wallach train right now. He has managerial experience; Mattingly doesn’t. He hasn’t “learned” at Torre’s feet for the last few years; Mattingly has. He’s very familiar with all of the minor leaguers who have passed through ABQ the last two seasons; under Mattingly as batting coach, the offense has stagnated this season.

I’m already terrified that Logan White is going to end up as the Arizona GM; imagine if he brought Wallach there as well while we’re stuck with Colletti and Torre/Mattingly?