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Saturday, April 10, 2004
Dodgers Dipstick, (Almost) One Week In
Ishii pitched a gem last night, for him, anyway, issuing four free passes and four strikeouts in six innings of work while only giving up a single run against a capable hitting lineup. We now know enough about Dodger Stadium to say authoritatively that it's a severe pitcher's park, and at no time more so than April and May when the air is cool and damp at night games. Walk-and-wiggle, as Vin has called him from time to time, benefitted from this, throwing a mess of breaking pitches. Ishii gets a W and the Dodgers streak proceeds to three. My skepticism about the Dodgers' long term chances has not abated any, though. (Neither, as if it needed any reinforcement, has that of Dodger Blues.) Recognizing that it's still early, here's the continued problems:
- Middle infield offense. Despite Alex Cora's triple last night, he's hitting .143 in the regular season thus far, despite a gaudy .391 in spring training. And while Izturis' .313 represents even a step up from his .306 in spring training, you have to wonder just how many more at bats he's going to be able to keep that up. Further, the hitters haven't seen any teams with genuinely solid pitching to date; let's see him do that against Jason Schmidt or Randy Johnson.
- First base. Shawn Green seems to be settling in defensively better than expected, yet his bat sleeps (.188/.278/.375). Jon's already weighed in on this subject, and frankly my reading of it is toward the black end of that scale, i.e. Green's shoulder is permanently on vacation, and the likelihood of getting power from 1B is nil.
- Encarnacion will scare us throughout the year; his .188/.235/.313 says all you need to know about his streakiness, and why he was benched last year in the World Series (for the most part). He was a nice cheap pickup by Evans amidst the McCourt purchase maelstrom, but you can be certain DePo will unload this guy at the first opportunity for a real hitter.
- The Dodgers still can't score, and trail the division again in runs scored. However, eleventh in the league beats last.
- Update: How could I forget pitching after Nomo's shellacking on opening day? But today's outing calmed me some, though Nomo-san's 40-pitch second didn't do much to make me think he's not sputtering.
- Adrian Beltre's bat. Beltre is actually slugging in April; .438/.471/.813 with 2 HR's is an enormous turnaround for him. If he keeps this up, he'll be making the case for the Dodgers to keep him around, not to mention bumping him to the three slot in the batting order. This will no doubt incite riots in some quarters, but PECOTA finds guys with similar records at his age includes names like Bill Mazeroski, Robin Yount, and Brooks Robinson (BP subscription required). It also includes a large number of guys whose careers tailed off, like Aurelio Rodriguez and Wil Cordero. I won't bore you with the standard line on Beltre, but as Raul wrote the other day, time to put up or shut up, Adrian.
- The Dodgers team OBP is sixth in the National League, behind only the Padres in the division.
- Dave Roberts' kleptomania, successfully stealing six bags without getting caught caught yet.
- Paul DePodesta's Michael Milken impression. While they're early and few, the moves he's made give me confidence that he knows what he's about. Picking up Milton Bradley was a good deal for both teams; the Indians get our best hitting prospect (though they're already awash in outfielders), and we get a major-league ready hitter.
- Milton Bradley, though I qualify it heavily; in what universe does a .267/.389/.333 line -- i.e., his SLG is below his OBP? -- qualify as an "impact bat", as Dodgerkid has asserted? Whatever. Anybody approaching a .400 OBP has to be a godsend for the Blue, and I'll chalk that up in the plus column.