Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Fishslapped By The Grabowski Principle, A Socratic Dialogue: Marlins 8, Dodgers 3
When a pitcher does something hopelessly bad in a situation he should easily handle (e.g., giving up a hit to an opposing pitcher in a National League game, plunking the batter with bases loaded, or walking a struggling hitter), the Grabowski Principle says that pitcher must immediately be replaced.This represents a clarification of the principle, first formulated by Fire Jim Tracy† after a
So today's game represents another example of Jim Tracy failing to observe the Grabowski Principle?
Possibly, though the case is unclear. (BTF denizens might also observe that it may represent a special case of a failure to use Option J, in a certain context, where the bullpen is the antecedant.) Today's game was his shortest of the month, and his third-shortest all season. After the second home run to Miguel Cabrera, one might have decided, well, enough; but at that point the score was still only 4-2, with the Dodgers well in the game (assuming their bats could keep up -- about which, more later).
But then came the enormity of unexpected events. Second baseman Damian Easley, with two home runs all year, collected a third after Weaver got right fielder Encarnacion to pop out and third baseman Joe Dillon to fly out. With the score 5-2, the Dodgers could still -- barely -- be nominated for the "in the game" award, but Weaver's presence on the mound had a distinctly snowy picture. The next batter, Alex Gonzalez, would double, ending Jeffy's tenure on the mound.
So the lynch mob at Dodger Thoughts need to stay their ropes and torches. While Weaver's pitch count was high (96 by the time he was pulled), he's gone higher and been effective. And though he started showing signs of shakiness in the fifth, he only faced six batters and gave up three singles, hardly reason to go for the hook; if Weaver's 2004 earned him anything, it was more leeway than a short hook in the fifth after five singles. And you can make the argument -- which I'm sure Tracy will -- that you can't go pulling your starters every time they get into trouble, especially with the dodgy Dodger bullpen. Weaver really hadn't been in any serious trouble prior to the sixth, and there were few signs until the Easley home run that he was tiring.
Is Kelly Wunsch the next Dodger reliever to turn into a pumpkin?
The Dodgers' first two weeks were so magical that they have made the time since that much worse. As recently as April 25, I extolled the Dodgers' "cheap-yet-effective bullpen" -- a comment I have been loathe to make subsequently, as nearly all of their "cheap" pitchers have also become ineffective. Wunsch just about doubled his ERA today (2.57 from 1.32); but that said, it also represented the first run he's given up all month, and the first since April 10, as well. If the Dodgers are worried about their bullpen, they could still do well to look elsewhere first.
Are the Dodgers well-prepared for the series against the Angels this weekend?
To the extent that they've shown they know how to lose, most likely. But things change, and you never know when key guys who've been slumping will turn it around. J.D. Drew, for instance, had a 2-4 day, representing his second multihit game of the year. He's still had fewer 0-fer games this month than games with a hit, so evidence builds that he's learning to hit at Dodger Stadium. Aside from the awful Dodger pitching lately, though, I would tend to be concerned about Izturis, whose hot streak can't continue indefinitely; Tracy needs a plan B at leadoff, and so far, this team doesn't really have one. J.D. Drew, with his ability to work walks, could fill in that gap nicely on a short-term basis.
*According to a dodgers.com report, Grabowski is on the DL, so he is not quite an active player. Nonetheless, glory for one is glory for all, as Jackie Robinson attests!
†The official FJT formulation of the Grabowski Principle is given as "Every so often there arises an event so heinous that you must remove the person who committed it from the game immediately, because it can only get worse." However, I maintain this is a problem because it doesn't directly apply to the pitcher, whom it affects exclusively.
Update 9/16/2008: The above has gone three years without correction, but the correct game referred to above providing the genesis of the Grabowski Principle is actually May 10, 2005 in St. Louis.
The bats are going to continue to cool down and the pitching will get a little better and end up being mediocre.
This is not a very good team.