Off Base
No One Said This was Going to Be Easy

August 17, 2009,6:39 p.m.

OK, well I may have, a month ago. Oops.

Sorry, but shame on you for listening to me. So hang your hat on six weeks of columns to come at your own peril.

I’m still reasonably confident the Dodgers will win the West, while finishing with the best record in the National League. I’m almost completely sure that Ned Colletti will come to the rescue with a baseball savvy acquisition or two by August 31, and I think Colorado will put up a lenghier fight than will the Giants.

And I think I have as good an idea about the health status of Chad Billingsley, and to a lesser degree Jonathan Broxton, than do the Dodgers, which is scary. I’m worried about Bills trying to shed an image, rather than looking long-term, and taking the ball Tuesday with a balkly hamstring.

As pointed out correctly by Jon Weisman, in his Dodger Thoughts blog today, Broxton’s current run of ineffectiveness is all of seven games old, with but three blown saves, and flipping duties with George Sherrill isn’t a logical salvo. What difference does an eighth inning gut-wrencher of an appearance mean, instead of a ninth?
Closers blow saves, people, and it’s painful to watch, but it’s simply part of the baseball equation. Let’s be thankful Broxton isn’t Brad Lidge, he of a perfect season slash championship last year, looking like the second coming of Mitch Williams today. Worse, actually. All in all, wouldn't you’d rather not be in Philadelphia?
On the other hand, one can argue that Grady Little’s serial overuse of Broxton in 2007 cost both the Dodgers the pennant and Little his job. That slump lasted 11 games over a 17 day span from September 6-23, and included three blown saves, two losses, with nine earned runs in 7 2/3 innings. This year’s seven-game model has occurred over an 18 game period, with Broxton’s earning a save, blowing three others, while giving up five runs in seven innings.
In other words, Broxton is less of an issue in 2009 than he was in 2007, and not a man on earth has a clue as to what will happen next. So join the club, earthlings.
Here’s some brilliant math for you. The Dodgers just-concluded 3-3 road trip is one game better than the previous 2-4 trip. Now, the club’s last home stand featured seven losses in 11 games, and they have seven at Dodger Stadium starting tonight against St. Louis. Five out seven would be a rousing success, but improvement is a given, especially with four against the Cubs starting Thursday.
If only Colletti could work some magic sooner rather than later. It’s absolutely excruciating sitting here waiting, but what can you do?
I’m still taking heat for my endorsement of the Esteban Loaiza acquisition two years ago, but I’m willing to go out on a limb with this much of a statement: Loaiza had a gazillion times more going for him at the time than Vicente Padilla ever will, and it would a be mistake for Colletti to bring in another 30-something former Texas Rangers pitcher, just because he’s an easy pick-up. Bordering on malpractice, actually.
And given the blithering idiocy of Bronson Arroyo’s downright boasting about his past and current over-the-counter drug use, can we skip him too please? Please.
Aaron Harang, sure. John Smoltz, Doug Davis, Jon Garland? Maybe. Zach Duke? In a heartbeat, and for top prospects. Anyone else and I’m hoping to be presently surprised, but I’m sure Ned has one or two things cooking that he can convert. He pretty much has to…
Trading James Loney: Don’t send me letters. Or do, if you feel like it. Just understand I’m not advocating anything here and just thinking aloud that Loney’s lack of power will eventually lead to the Dodgers trading him.
Ten or 12 homers per season isn’t the end of the world, but a first baseman has to do a lot better than .279 to warrant the position in Los Angeles. If he’s going to be the so-called Mark Grace of L.A. we’ve heard he might be, Loney has to hit 15 to 30 points higher consistently to keep his job…
Media Savvy: Here’s a “Remember When” multi-contributor piece at that’s worth a read, although in its originally published form, Albert Chen referred to the Vero Beach stadium we all know and love as “Holtzman Stadium.” After Ken Holtzman, don’t cha know.

Say what you will about T.J. Simers, but he can be quite thoughtful at times, and is in this column about retaliation pitching.

And a nice follow-up to the Nick Adenhart story by Mike DiGiovmna

You may have noticed my easing up on the Angels this year, and the reason is too obvious to mention. I haven’t gone soft, but can you forgive me for rooting for them a bit in 2009. Not to worry, however.

The Dodgers are and always will be my team, I still think Los Angeles is the superior-in-every-way city (emphasis on the word city), that no baseball fan within the borders of our exponentially more soulful town will ever care a lick about an adjacent county’s baseball, and that anyone who would use a prepositional phrase for a team name is at the very least boob-like, in not a complete boob. But it did seem like a lightening up was in order.

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

Six Degrees: John Smoltz’s mother used to work for my brother’s wife’s sister, a pediatrician in East Lansing, Michigan

Investors Wanted: Invest a thimble full of venture capital today, make major league minimum tomorrow. No joke. Inquires welcome
Golf Notes: I don’t know whether what occurred at Hazeltine Sunday was a full-on choke or not, but I wonder if the combination of Tiger Woods’ having the physique he does, along with his ability to swing a stick, would raise questions if he played another sport.
Equally as important, since this is our last chance to mention that the Tiger Slam sounds like breakfast at Denny’s for the year, I thought I’d take the opportunity…

Statue for Sandy: Sports sculptor Malcolm DeMille, co-sponsor of the “Statue for Sandy” e-petition, along with yours truly, have something really neat up our sleeves, and in the immortal words of Ricky Ricardo, I think we “might just got something there.” Wish we could share it with you. We ask that you just hang in there a little longer. In the meantime, please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…

Remember, glove conquers all….







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