Off Base
Let's go Right Ahead & Jinx it

September 15, 2008, 4:47 p.m. There's a Sports Illustrated Jinx and a Sophomore Jinx to be reckoned with, sure, but there is no such thing as a DBacks-Come-Back-From-Oblivion-to-Snare-NL-West-From-Dodgers-by-Finishing-80-82-Jinx to fret over, so let's put this thing to bed right now.

The Dodgers have the division. The National League West race is over. It's a done deal. The fat former Dodger manager has sung. Arizona is six feet under, with zero chance of an afterlife. Their skipper will be fired the first week of October, and the club will limp off into the winter wondering what went wrong.

L.A.'s magic number is ten. In English, sports fans, that means that if the Dodgers go 7-6 the rest of the way, the Diamondbacks have to win 12 of their remaining 14 just to tie. If the Dodgers finish 8-5, Arizona has to counter with a 13-1 record to tie.

And there's no way. Arizona is not going to see .500 again in 2008, and is more likely to finish 78-84 or worse than they are to pick up even a single game on the Dodgers the rest of the way.

All that's left is for Joe Torre, with an assist from Ned Colletti, to bleep the thing up.

The way they do that is by making the lamest of lame postseason roster decisions, or by continuing to run poor Russell Martin farther into the ground than he already is. More on Martin in a minute. The Dodgers have a pitching staff to deal with, and they've already hinted at some miscues.

First and foremost, Brad Penny is a boob. He's just a total boob; a weak-limbed, out-of-shape, transparently-selfish oaf of man with no understanding of the Dodger way to play baseball and nothing left to offer his club other than a more reiable bat than Mike Sweeney.

Torre should not be bullied into anything more than a relief appearance in a runaway game or after a clinching, if that, and any talk of Penny starting again is pure folly. Same goes for his getting a postseason spot.

Next is the disposition of Hong-Chih Kuo. It might just be he's ready for another surgery, but if there's a chance he can gut his way through October effectively, "effectively" being the operative word, the Dodgers need an honest and accurate assessment of his capabilities. None of this Jason Schmidt crap.

Here's how the postseason staff should shake out. Chad Billingsley, Derek Lowe, Hiroki Kuroda are your first three starters. The Greg Maddux / Clayton Kershaw decision is going to be a tough one, and will probably depend on the match-up. If the Phils are the opponent, for example, with their big-hitting lefties and their small ballpark, perhaps Kershaw gets the nod.

The bullpen should include Kershaw or Maddux, and these four for-sures: Joe Beimel, Cory Wade, Jonathan Broxton and Chan Ho Park. If Takashi Saito can pitch, of course he's in. Scott Proctor and Kuo too. The key is determining how ready these guys are. Assuming they're all good to go, that's your 12 men. In the wings are Ramon Troncoso, Jason Johnson and Scott Elbert, all of whom are deserving and capable.

Thankfully, there's no Andruw Jones call to be made. Hallelujah, and ding dong, the witch is dead.

The Sweeney debate survives, however. If Rafael Furcal can get himself even remotely ready to pinch-hit, Sweeney should be out. I doubt the club will have the balls (uh, initiative) to go that route, or to give Delwyn Young the job, but either player would be a significant upgrade. If Jeff Kent can patch himself together in time, and I bet he can, that's a huge bonus for the club, and another reason to push Sweeney off the roster.

Now, to Martin. This is sarcasm (kind of), but the Dodgers could always gain another postseason roster spot by dispensing with the concept of backup catcher altogether. Let's hope Torre doesn't get any bright ideas.

That was some seven innings of luxuriating for Martin yesterday, huh? What's a man to do with so much time on his hands?

Usually in this space, I detail Martin's games played, games caught, games DH'd (three at bats all year), and rail on the skipper for his malfeasance. Day games after night games, etc. For change of pace today, just Martin's off days. This won't take long.

On August 28, Martin last sat an entire game. Slacker. He's caught 17 straight since, but like I said, he did have those seven innings off Sunday. In what must have seemed like a month at a spa, Martin also got a breather on August 7th. Other rest days include July 29, June 6 and June 2. That's it. Those five…

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

Media Savvy: Check out this interesting piece about league award voting, by Yahoo Sports Jeff Passan.

As far as I'm concerned, the time for award predictions is the final evening of the regular season, which this year is September 28. Look for my calls then. To unveil the winners early is to ignore the idea that the pennant races count among the criteria, especially regarding the MVPs. Please check back in two weeks…

The Sophomore Jinx: Since we broached the subject, my favorites in the category are Joe Charboneau, Jerome Walton, Todd Hollandsworth and Don Schwall. Please feel free to chime in with yours. Comments

Statues: While the Koufax in bronze campaign continues (Yes on 32.”), the Statue for Vinny is just picking up steam. Vote early and vote often. And tell a friend…

Remember, glove conquers all….








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