Credit where credit is due: Ted Lilly was excellent last night. After allowing an early home run to Miguel Tejada, he retired twenty in a row and left having struck out five without issuing a walk. Now why, after just seven innings and 87 pitches, Joe Torre felt the need to replace him (once again, it’s not like Garret Anderson offers more at the plate than your standard pitcher) to squeeze another inning out of Hong-Chih Kuo is beyond me, but that’s pretty much par for the course, isn’t it?
So good for Lilly, and good for us. While I didn’t like the trade for a variety of reasons, none of them were because I thought Lilly was useless; he’s certainly an improvement on what Carlos Monasterios would have offered from that slot. Unfortunately, Lilly’s nice outing was somewhat obscured by all of the other bad news from yesterday, and there was quite a bit of it.
1) Jeff Weaver was placed on the DL with left knee tendinitis, and – stop me if you’ve heard this before – had concealed the injury from coaches for about two weeks, which I’m sure had nothing to do with his allowing ten earned runs in his last five games.
2) Manny Ramirez had what was termed “a setback” in his rehab, and no date has been set for his return. At this point, I’d be surprised to see him back before the end of August, which means those who advocate trading him should probably look for something else to do. Update: Buster Olney, via MLBTR, notes that players on the DL cannot be passed through waivers. I’d say the chances of Manny moving at this point are maybe 5%.
3) Russell Martin felt pain in his hip on an awkward slide last night and is headed for an MRI. While I’d usually joke that his absence wouldn’t really hurt the lineup that much, he did have the only two RBI to back up Lilly.
4) Perhaps worst of all, Rafael Furcal strained his back in Monday night’s game and required an MRI as well. He’s hoping to avoid the DL for now, but won’t play tonight either. Let’s not speculate too hard here, but when you have ever heard news that Furcal’s back hurts and had it end well?
If not for the injuries and Lilly (and Kuo and Jonathan Broxton), the bigger story here would be that the offense, once again, was non-existent. Scott Podsednik and Ryan Theriot combined to go 1-8, with Podsednik 4-24 and Theriot 1-12 as Dodgers. Boy, who could have seen that coming? It’s not just them, of course, since Matt Kemp and Casey Blake each went hitless (though each walked, and scored on Martin’s hit), but once again the offense contributed nothing in eight of the nine innings.
With Manny no closer to returning and now Furcal & Martin possibly on the shelf, things don’t look like they’re headed in the right direction on the offensive side. And Torre’s not helping, because apparently he’s learned nothing from the Juan Pierre experience – it doesn’t matter how fast Podsednik and Theriot are, you simply cannot bat them 1-2 in the lineup if you expect to score any runs.
I get, of course, that Furcal’s absence doesn’t help him fill out the lineup card. Still, no one had a higher OBP in yesterday’s lineup than Jamey Carroll, and it’s not particularly close. Since Carroll looks like he’s going to be playing for the foreseeable future, he has to be hitting higher in the lineup in order to give the middle of the order a prayer of having people to drive in.
Of course, when the bottom 3rd of the lineup could be Ausmus-Theriot-pitcher, and the only reliable threat (Furcal) has been subtracted, it’s hard to get excited about any part of the lineup.
Remember back in June, when the Dodgers drafted highly touted high schooler Zach Lee, and the pick was widely panned because Lee had a commitment to LSU and was considered unsignable? Yeah, about that…
Dodgers no closer to signing top pick
LOS ANGELES — There haven’t been any conversations between the Dodgers and first-round Draft pick Zach Lee since shortly after Lee was selected, assistant general manager of scouting Logan White said on Tuesday.
Lee, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound right-handed pitcher from Texas, was considered to be a difficult sign going into the Draft because of a commitment to play quarterback at Louisiana State and reported bonus demands in excess of $3 million. A day after the Dodgers took Lee at No. 28 overall in June, LSU issued a statement reaffirming Lee’s desire to play college football.
“We had get-to-know-you dialogues when we first drafted him, and that’s it,” White said. “… He likes football, he likes baseball. He’s a good kid.”
Granted, most of these negotiations do tend to go right to the deadline; you’ll notice that most of the other first-rounders haven’t signed yet either. Still: wonderful.
Which all means…
Yesterday’s win aside, the Dodgers are still seven games out in the wild card, and any hopes they have for postseason play rest on them putting together a historic run. With the offensive performance and the injuries piling up, does anyone really have faith in that happening?
It’s hard to say this, but it’s time to be realistic. Lilly’s debut was nice, but it only covered up more offensive shortcomings, and now without Furcal, Martin and Manny this team really has no prayer. I never thought I’d say this three days after the trading deadline, but it’s time to sell. See what’s out there for guys like Lilly, Podsednik, Octavio Dotel – maybe even Vicente Padilla, Hiroki Kuroda, and Casey Blake, if you could get out from under his salary for next year. I’d rather finish ten games out with pieces for the future, than six games out with nothing to show for it.
Update: Found this on Olney’s blog today, and thought it was interesting. Former catcher (and ex-Dodger Brent Mayne) checks in from time to time with Olney about the finer points of catching, and today they were discussing Carlos Santana getting destroyed by Ryan Kalish while blocking the plate in Boston. Mayne was asked if he thinks catchers should block the plate at all, and, well, you’ll see the part that caught my eye.
“I think catchers should do it — BUT learn how to do it right. I believe if you make the play correctly (which Mayne goes into extensively in his book, ‘The Art of Catching’) you end up with some momentum going into the play (as opposed to being a sitting duck) and you end up as low as you can get without laying down. Which is super important because, if you’ve ever played football, you know the lowest guy usually wins. My technique also gets your knees into a safe position … a position that if you’ve hit the knee will bend in the direction God intended it to bend. Unfortunately for Santana, he did the goofy ‘hockey goalie, throw the leg out’ thing. You’ll also see Russell Martin making that same move and I’ll guarantee the same thing will happen to him as Santana one of these days. I actually don’t even consider that ‘blocking the plate’ … it’s more like just getting your leg in the way. And it’s a disaster waiting to happen.”