Preview: 162 Game Itch
162 Game Itch
diamonds are a girl's best friend: a blog about dodger baseball
Let's See How I Did - wrap
Well, for the players who played consistently, I predicted pretty well. Kent was mighty close.
predicted: 148 games, .298, 21 HR, 110 RBI.
actual 149 games, .298, 29 HR, 105 RBI
Choi, I underestimated. Philips, I overestimated.
Of course, Valentin, Izturis, Bradley and Drew were mostly in the hospital ward.
Pitching? Close on Weaver & Lowe. I predicted Penny as more on the DL than he was (miracle of miracles), and -- sadly -- way over estimated Perez. Silly me believing Erickson had another year in him. I predicted an off year for Gagne, but not one that was off the mound.
I predict that next year's Dodgers will fare better. But the 2005 team gave us a pretty easy record to beat.
Until then, Go Angels!
Let's See How I Did - hitting
predicted: .275, 62 RBI
actual: .238, 55 RBI
predicted: 79 games, .231, 4 homers, 58 RBI
actual: 56 games, .170, 2 HR, 14 RBI
predicted: 160 games, .304, 33 steals, 120 runs.
actual: 106 games, .257, 8 SB, 48 runs
predicted: 148 games, .298, 21 homers, and 110 RBI.
actual 149 games, .298, 29 HR, 105 RBI
predicted: 68 games, .221, 8 homers
actual: 133 games, .253, 15 HR
153 games, .294, 24 homers, 20 SB.
actual: 75 games, .290, 13 HR, 6 SB
predicted: 120 games, .253, 21 homers
actual: 72 games, .286, 15 HR
Let's See How I Did - pitching
predicted as Dodger's top pitch: arguably so.
predicted: 16-11, 4.3 ERA, 148 K
actual: 14-11, 4.22 ERA, 157 K
predicted: 15-12, 3.85 ERA, 125K
actual: 12-15, 3.61 ERA, 146K
predicted: 3-4, 5.1 ERA, 28 K
actual: 7-9, 3.9 ERA, 122 K
predicted: 17-8, 3.1 ERA, 175K, 240 innings
actual: 7-8, 4.56 ERA, 74K, 108 innings
predicted: 13-10, 3.8 ERA
actual: 1-4, 6.02
predicted: 4-9, 5.2 ERA
actual: 2-2, 6.28 ERA
predicted: 4-4, 39 saves, 3.4 ERA, 5 blown saves
actual: 1-0, 8 saves, 2.7 ERA
Series One: Dodgers in tie for first, Giants in last
It is a beautiful thing when the Dodgers pancake the Giants. It's typical, we professional fans say, that a fan in Dodger Blue among the Black & Orange at SBC gets a pie in the face. At least when the cameras were on him, he seemed to be taking his abuse with a cheery response.
Things I thought were super from the first three games:
1) Defense. Okay, I'll admit that I love to hear Vinny call an extraordinary defensive play. He taught me to love the acrobatic, all-out risk-taking middle infielder. Unfortunately, most of these plays were executed by Vizquel.
2) Valentin can hit a bit. He's hot now, and I hope he stays hot now. If his bat is working for him, maybe he can relax on defense. I really hope so, otherwise we're screwed.
3) Jeff Kent. Maybe this guy was MVP for a reason.
4) Jeff Weaver. My boy. He had a brilliant game replete with nasty stuff and inning-eating efficiency.
5) Odalis. 10 runs for Odalis? Odalis broke out in style this year.
6) And who can't love Izturis hitting a lead-off home run?
Jason L. Phillips
It's official: Ishii to the Mets in exchange for Jason Phillips. Hey, a good trade, I believe.
We may miss Ishii's wins, but what with those other, um, problems like bases on balls, he'll be looking for a NYC apartment, now.
Jason Phillips has one good year under his belt. In 2003 he hit .298 and drove in 58 in 119 games. Since Piazza wants to play behind the plate, we're the beneficiaries of a solid-hitting catcher.
Well, not so last year. Only .218 in 128 games. But that's a 48 point improvement!!! over David Ross. It's a 15 point imprvement over Bako. So even if Phillips duplicates his gutter-ball year, we've got a stronger team.
Or lordy, what if he hits, say .240, or .260, or even comes closer to duplicating .298. Oh, yes, we're in the money.
.275, 62 RBI and a dependable receiver
I love Eric Gagne, who in her right mind doesn't, but this isn't going to be his year. Well, he'll have another terrific year, but it won't be spotless extraordinary and super-human, so we'll be disappointed.
I'm worried about his knee. I'm worried about the luck of the draw. He'll have to sit out some games this year, and he'll struggle through some innings as well, losing a few. I think he needs an "average" year so that he can understand how much fluctuation there is in a career, and learn to rebound and be super-human again.
4-4, 39 saves, 3.4 ERA, 5 blown saves.
Someday "Young Edwin Jackson" is going to be known as "Edwin Jackson."
But not for a little while yet.
If he stays healthy, if he can stay on the club, if he gets his innings in... Edwin Jackson is "Mr. If." Sure, he's got talent and sure, he'll pitch regularly in the majors one day, but he needs to learn how to do it. I am not an advocate of sending him down, rather I think they should give him a consistent role as a fifth starter for the first half of the season to see how he settles in. We're chock full of experienced pitchers who can handle bumping from long relief to spot starter, and we ought to use them that way (Alvarez, Ishii, Erickson). But keep Young Edwin Jackson in the rotation and we'll develop a great pitcher.
4-9, 5.2 ERA
and ready to be the pitcher we need next year -- and for years to come
Erickson hasn't had a good year since 1999, but I have a hunch he has one more in him. He'll be our Jose Lima this year (ah, that we couldn't have had both Lima and Erickson).
His ERA has never been terribly good, but that was in the DL'ed AL, and it will take time for the NL hitters to figure him out. He'll start the year in the rotation and bounce from there to long relief as needed, and never squeak about how he's being used. He's a pro. He'll be a wonderful influence on the bench, especially with young Edwin Jackson. Yes, folks, this is a good pick up.
Sure, he may tweak something and spend time on the DL, but his track record shows him to be a work hound. He won't sit without a fight.
13-10, 3.8 ERA, and (intangibly) a leader on the club.
Ah. the dreaded # 5 spot, that may become the #3 spot with Penny and Perez out. Ishii will be in and out of the rotation, as he was last year. Please give us a reason to keep you in the starting rotation, Kaz. And then gives us another, and another...
Kaz is wild. Over the last three years, he has averaged almost 6 BB per 9 innings. Yikes! Add that to 5 hits per 9 and you have close to 14 baserunners to deal with. No wonder his ERA was 4.71 last year. [not that the other pitchers are that much better, but Perez at 10.4 is a good comparison]
7-8, 5.2 ERA, more work from the bullpen than in previous years.
Here's the man that 2004 crucified. If he had been given run support and a little luck, we'd have been speaking his name as the presumptive opening day pitcher. Perez has got a lot left in the tank, and if the team rallies behind him, he's going to be our stopper.
There is so much I like about Perez. Game after game, the lineup sucked for him. Game after game, he went out and pitched like a man with a mission. 128 K to 44 BB. Good ratio, in fact a great ratio. For three years he's been around 200 innings. This man is a horse and he's breaking out in style this year.
17-8, 3.1 ERA, 175K, 240 innings
I want LoDuca back!
Penny may be another Greg Brock: all potential, all the time. This guy, however, doesn't have the body to survive as long as Brock did with LA (5 years) in the post-Garvery era. He'll pitch a little, get hurt, pitch a little, go on the DL and sit by Darren Dreifort on the bench.
Too bad, because otherwise he'd be a nice third or fourth pitcher. Over at CBS Sportsline
, you can find him ranked an anemic #34 in starting pitchers. The really stinky thing is that the Dodgers have three pitchers ranked in the 30's (#31 Weaver, #34 Penny, #36 Perez) and not an arm above that. Dodgers with pitcher rankings in the 30's? Puh-leeze. (Lo Duca
is ranked the #5 catcher in the majors, BTW, and #1 in the NL).
3-4, 5.1 ERA, 28 K
Lowe is a solid pitcher. He knows how to win and has a shiny ring to prove that (well, as of this writing, there is a ring waiting for him to pick up in Boston once the season starts). Last year was a sub-par year for him at 14-12. Look back to 2003 for 17-7 and 2002 for 21-8. In 2002 he had a sparkling ERA of 2.58.
And all that at Fenway. Dodger Stadium has the pitching mystique, the high mound and the spacious foul territory -- oh wait, that's been snatched up for luxury boxes. On many nights, the air is heavy and the ball stays in. Lowe is going to have another good year.
But will he win 21 or even 17 games? He's got to get run support for that to happen, and he won't get much.
15-12, 3.85 ERA, 125K
Tall and lanky with unkempt hair, Weaver is not the model of a modern major general nor big league pitcher. But he is what all teams crave: a dependable, good, and occasionally brilliant pitcher who gets his work done, plays with a certain level of crankiness that bolsters the club, and puts up a lot of innings.
His numbers will always be okay -- 11 to 15 wins, an ERA around 4 or 4.5, a credible 150 K -- but he is worth more than that. He will be there for every start and power through days when his stuff is lackluster. He is Mr. Steady on a team that needs more of them.
Is that worth $6.5 million? Probably not, but this late it would be hard to get a better pitcher for less without losing one or more of our desperately needed everyday players.
Prediction: Dodgers' top pitcher
16-11, 4.3 ERA, 148 K
David Ross, Good Guy, Player Rep, Solid Citizen.
Too bad he rather sucks as a ball player. Some day, maybe sooner than later, Ross will leave his playing days behind and become a coach. I wish him well.
Prediction: 112 games, .192 (improving 22 points), 7 homers, 21 RBI.
Here's a player with unimpressive stats: career .243 with a high of .273, 60 or 70 RBI, scores about 70 runs. He'd be a great man on the bench, oozing experience to younger players, but alas, he is slated to be the everyday third baseman.
Sure, he's no Beltre NOBODY is, but he's not even a Robin Ventura. Somehow, we need to acquire viable corner players, the power dudes, the knock 'em in duo. Choi and Valentin? We're doomed.
prediction: 79 games, .231, 4 homers, 58 RBI. And pulled often in late innings to get Nakamura and Perez more experience.
Oh, how I love this guy. He is fun to watch; he is having fun playing the game.
I remember falling in love with defense listening to Vin Scully call Cardinal or Padre games with Ozzie Smith at short. Vin's descriptions of Smith's fielding were mellifluous gems of grace and beauty. Izturis plays like that. He may not win 13 consecutive gold gloves, but that's an awfully high standard to meet. Still, Izturiz scoops and smothers and 360's onto ESPN's highlights reels. He is everything I want a Dodger shortstop to be. (And here's hoping his little brother can do the same for the Angeles.)
Izturis knows now that he can play defense. A Gold Glove sits somewhere in his house as visceral proof. Following recognition for his defense last year, this year will be his breakout year at the plate. He'll bloom into a fine lead-off hitter with an OBP up around .400. He'll take more walks, get more bunt hits, and start to drive the other team's defense a little batty. And he'll be there, waiting to be driven in by Kent and Drew.
160 games, .304, 33 steals, 120 runs.
Another local boy comes home. I know there has been a lot of groaning about Kent and his salary (that mighta - shoulda gone to Beltre), but I think he is a solid addition to the team for the next year, hopefully two, and maybe three.
He's an RBI machine, so long as there are people on base in front of him. He is a good fielder. He doesn't match Cora at second, but we all know he's our likely first baseman as soon as Choi crashes and burns in April. He's got experience up the wazoo, and the kind of experience this team needs. He's played with Barry Bonds and survived. He can play with Drew and Bradley and do very well. I like him in the clubhouse.
One can talk about injuries, but he's put up impressive numbers for a long time. He's a star could have a super year for us.
148 games, .298, 21 homers, and 110 RBI.
Hee Seop Choi
Choi will open at first and be benched within 6 weeks. Then he'll platoon with various experiments such as David Ross at first.
Then there will be talk of a trade, but in order to get someone who can hit above .240 at (power position) first, we'll have to give up much more in return, like Izturis for an aging BJ Surhoff or career .250 hitter Matt Stairs. That will fall through because of, well, dumb luck, and so instead we'll get Scott Spiezio from Seattle, happy to come back to the Southland with his fat $3 million / year contract.
At least Spiezio would be a substantive upgrade.
68 games, .221, 8 homers, 2-for-11 pinch hitting, gone by the All Star Game
Milton Obelle Bradley
I believe in Milton Bradley. I picked him up on my fantasy team back in 2000. Of course, he didn't do much for me then when he was an Expo, but there was something special there.
Bradley has a temper, sure, but it is also a part of what can make him a great player. He plays with passion--so much passion that he loses control of it sometimes. The underlying reason for his high-profile weakness is his greatest strength.
He moves elegantly, fielding with grace and simplicity, hitting with grace and instinct. He has power and speed. I believe in Milton Bradley.
Prediction: 153 games, .294, 24 homers, 20 SB.
David Jonathan Drew
How did "David Jonathan" become J.D.?
Why the Dodgers picked up (paid the big bucks to) a player with his history amazes me. First is the greedy holdout when drafted by the Phillies in 1997. His actions proves that what is important to him is not the game but the paycheck: not the team but the individual. $3 million dollars in your first year was paltry enough to warrant a holdout? Makes me feel great about my salary. Right.
He's had a string of injuries that lead any mildly logical person to conclude that he's not about to have 5 years (and maybe not even one more) of 140+ games. His record shows that every other year he sinks back to about 100 games. The Dodgers can look forward to that in '05.
Of course, the real good news is how smart he is in the clubhouse. The first thing we hear from him is that he's taking on Milton Bradley. It's hard enough to keep opposing fans and umps from pissing off Bradley, but why his neighbor in right? Good way to start, J.D.
92 games, .284, 18 homers
Jayson Richard Gowan Werth
Jayson, Jayson, Jayson. He's a big boy (6' 5") with loads of potential that will never be realized because he's injury prone. Some of it is dumb luck, but some of it is knowing how to keep yourself healthy.
He's a good outfielder: not great. His instincts seem to take him to the right spot, but I have a hunch he thinks too much after that, and sometimes there isn't time to do that.
At the plate he's a fine number 6 hitter. A solid .262 hitter with patches of .290, but not enough consistency to stay near .300.
When he get ahold of a pitch, oh yes, he has that natural grace that powers a ball out of a park. It is a beautiful thing. If he can learn patience and pitch selection, he'll hit 30 homers, but as Kingman did without the singles and doubles that help the team day-to-day.
That said, give him three healthy years, and I'll be eating my words. If he can play every day and pay attention to the Dodgers staff, he could become an A-list player. Probably not an A-plus, but still an A-player. Will he be a Beltre? No. He might have some Shawn Greene years, but I think he's more of an Eric Karros. And Eric hung around for a long time.
120 games, .253, 21 homers
Over the next few days, I'll prognositcate the successes and failures of the projected lineup.
The Happy Anticipation
I love Spring Training.
I'd love it even more if I could hear everyday games on radio and see Sunday games on TV. Alas, those days are gone.
When KFWB carries the Dodgers, the news comes first, and then traffic, and then weather, and then maybe, just maybe, some baseball.
I miss the old days.