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Monday, July 04, 2005

In Disaster, Opportunity

Jon looks to the camel-breaking straw of Drew's broken wrist as just the excuse the team needs to (a) retain Tracy, and (b) write off 2005. It makes some sense, but before the Dodgers start feeling too sorry for themselves, I would remind Mr. DePodesta that the Dodgers' DL list pales in comparison to the Angels', who lead the AL in games missed.

I say this partly to highlight the differences between the two teams' farm systems. The Dodgers, for all their good drafts, still aren't making usable spare parts, and the front office has all but directly blamed the junk currently playing at the major league level for its travails. But it's also true that DePodesta has taken a lot of chances on guys who have had the "injury risk" tag attached (Penny, Bradley, Werth, and Drew come immediately to mind) -- and has duly gotten burned. Houlton has been good at times, but the pixie dust wore off last night. Thompson found himself unused for most of a month and then sent down to AAA Las Vegas, where he's earned a 4.50 ERA in two starts. Cody Ross is filler. Mike Edwards could be a useful part (though he clearly has no business playing in the outfield), but Mike Rose is a big question mark.

For my part, I have no grand plan to save 2005; it's beyond redemption. I just don't know if it makes sense to be a buyer or a seller at the trade deadline.

Update: Does anybody else remember what the hit-by-pitch to Nomar Garciaparra's wrist did to his power?

But, part of the reason for the difference is just luck. I mean, when Guererro was signed he was considered by many to be as big an injury risk as anyone (remember his back?). But, he's been remarkably healthy.

Not only that, but as Depo said, when Dodgers players have gotten hurt, they've been out for unbeleivably long periods of time. Other than Escobar, the Angels haven't had that problem.

Finally, I think it's fair to say that the Dodgers took some risks, but the disapointing thing is that other than Perez, these guys aren't getting hurt in any predictable way. Even if you thought Bradley was a risk, who could predict the ligament tear. Sure, Drew's knees were a concern, and they have predictably caused him to miss a few games. That was manageable, this isn't.

Anyhow, I think this just has to be explained by bad luck, and I really don't think that there was anything Depo could have done differently other than have a deeper bench.
I guess you missed the part about the Angels leading the AL in days missed. I mean, yes, point taken the time for return, but I think the Dodgers' days lost due to injury isn't a complete answer. DePodesta needs to take some of the blame for this, and I'm not seeing it.
But, days missed isn't everything. It matters most who is missing those days.

And, what is Depo supposed to say? Should he come out and apologize to Plaschke for trading Loduca? Really, the only thing he can do is come out and level with the fans about what his plans are. If he's going to take this opportunity to rebuild then he needs to come out and explain that without any more of this talk about 'getting one more bat,' or whatever.

That being said, I agree that Depo has to take some blame, but mainly because he's the guy in charge, not due to any specific action I can name. And, believe me, he'll take plenty in the local papers and with the fans without saying or doing anything else.

It's sort of like the Angels a couple years back. Can you lay all the blame on Stoneman for having a team that wins the World Series one year and doesn't make the playoffs the next?
Steve Finley, Bengie Molina, Lou Merloni, Maicer Izturis, Robb Quinlan, Curtis Pride, and Orlando Cabrera on the DL?

Oh, the horror! The horror!
yeah, i'm with steve. who cares how many days lou merloni and curtis pride miss? frankie rodriguez was gone for a little while, but he's back. meanwhile, gagne is out for the season. guerrero missed a little time, but he's back and hasn't missed a beat. we haven't had our entire starting outfield intact since the beginning of the season. third base has been a revolving door of mediocrities. kelvim escobar has been gone most of the season, sure, but how does that compare with penny to start the season, then perez and dessens and alvarez to follow?

any way to pro-rate those DL days to projected VORP or something? that'll give you a better idea about which team has been hurt the most by injuries.

er, prorate doesn't have a hyphen.

I just don't see "explaining" this. Ball thrown hard. Ball hits wrist. Wrist = small bones. Small bones introduced to great force = broken bones. I realize that the media wants its blood, in a 24-hour news cycle to boot, but this is just res ipsa loquitor.

It doesn't help that I'm obscenely jealous of the Angels' pitching staff, which we could be in first place with too.

Probably the biggest question is why we let the D-Backs throw at us without hesitation.
Steve: The obvious answer to that is because our pathetic offense was desparate for baserunners any way we can get them. Don't retaliate and stop a good thing coming, right?
Yes, and Tim Salmon. If you don't think the Angels don't miss him, think again.
At this point in his career, I think that Salmon is roughly equivalent to Jose Valentin. Sure, they miss him, but how much would he help?
In regards to Garciapara, I believe his injury was completely different. The pitch hit him on the wrist and damaged the tendons. Obviously, we don't know the extent of the damage to Drew's wrist, but if it's truly a 'clean break' of the bone (without tendon damage) then I don't think it's comparable. Bones tend to heal pretty well, connective tissue damage can be much more iffy.

Having said that, it will, almost assuredly, cause him to have some reduced power immediately after returning (see Jayson Werth).
Rob, I said it before the beginning of the season and of course will happily bring it up again--this year had injuries written all over it. DeStupida will not get rid of Kent simply because the PR department will never forgive him if they do. I would say that next year you'll see the Dodgers without Bradley, who'll more then likely be gone as soon as some team like the Yankees or Red Sox cough -up the players and money to get him.

Werth is also going to be gone soon. (My prediction)
Meaning Bradley will be gone this season. Werth too.
I don't think Werth or Bradley are going anywhere. What's the point of rebuilding if you trade away young guys who can only get better? If you are a "seller" that means getting rid of veterans (ie, Weaver) and bringing in quality young guys. What could the Dodgers get from the Yankees that would be better than what they already have in Bradley?
Just reiterating the fact that the Angels haven't lost anyone of consequence other thean Vlad and Escobar everyone else is either a part time player or has a sub .700 OPS.

Where on Earth would Salmon play on this team? Is he better than Juan Rivera? DaVanon? His lack of production the last couple of years would say no.
If depodesta deserves blame for the situation, what exactly has he done wrong? What outfielder should he gone after this offseason, magglio ordonez?, out-bid the mets for beltran?, keep beltre? I dont see how these were better or realistic alternatives. It seems people feel the need to blame someone, but as jon has claimed repeatedly, every single depodesta move has helped the team, weather placske realizes this or not. Depodesta did realize the team was vulnerable to injuries, which is why ledee was signed early. As for the complaints about the farm system, entering 2002 the minors were empty and since have been built up with teenagers from the draft and overseas, the oldest among the new wave are 20,21, or 22 years old. I think its a little to much to ask that they produce at the major league level. Wait until the class of 2002 is in at least their mid-20's to judge exactly what they can do. What has kotchman, mcpherson, or santana accopmlished for the angels so far?
Adam -- the 2003 Angels had just as many problems with inconsistency and the failure to recognize the thing called a career year (see Scott Spiezio, though in Stoneman's defense you will notice he didn't long-term him, either). The Angels ended up eating Appier's big contract, despite injuries to Salmon (again!).

Vishal: let me judo that response back at you: Dessens is a nonentity. There were concerns about Perez's shoulder before he was long-termed; should we dismiss that now?
Sanchez -- alert readers of this blog will realize I actually think DePodesta is the smarter of the two GMs here. That said, I also think DePo isn't taking enough blame here. That's not to say that I think he's got the majority share of it -- the injuries have been just bad luck, it's true -- but c'mon: OP's shoulder going down? You bet. Drew's knees acting up again? Tell me that was a surprise. (Not, of course, that that has been what's kept him off the diamond.)

Sure Kotchman, McPherson, and Santana haven't been perfect. But where's the love for Peralta and Woods? I just don't buy the age excuse, either. Some of these guys should be close to ready. We keep hearing about how great these drafts are; what are we supposed to do, wait until 2007 or 2008 until the farm starts producing? Some of these guys are going to be ready in three years.

Or maybe not, and it's all just the fabulists at Baseball America stroking scouting director ego.
Rob, that's my point. Much of what happened was due to bad luck (just as a lot of what went right for them in the championship run was good luck). What you generally want from a GM, I think, is for them to build a team that will be consistantly good, and if everything breaks right (which is generally required for championship runs), great. But, I don't think Depo has made mistakes in terms of locking 'career year' guys up. Depo's problems were not caused by expecting guys who had career years to repeat (Beltre wasn't even resigned). I can't even figure out exactly what he did wrong. He's definitely made some questionable moves, but if he hadn't made those moves would it have mattered? If he didn't re-sign Perez, does it change anything? Was there someone else we could have gotten? I don't know.
Oh, BTW, Andrew, Salmon would DH, a position the Angels have desperately needed production from.
Hey Rob, I'm not sure if you've read any of my DL analysis posts over at Dodger Thoughts. I decided to extend it to the Angels to test your claim that "the Dodgers' DL list pales in comparison to the Angels'". Based on my analysis, I'd say you're wrong. The Dodgers have lost approximately 11 days of WARP and the Angels have lost 8.5 days of WARP. The format for each player is Estimated Games Missed * WARP / Game = Total WARP Lost. I also included the Daily WARP Loss rate for current DL.

*Dodgers Pitchers = 4.965 Total; 0.046 Daily*
*Dodgers Hitters = 5.969 Total; 0.158 Daily*
*Dodgers Total = 10.934 Total; 0.204 Daily*

Vladimir Guerrero: 18 * 0.062 = 1.116 Total; 0 Daily
Steve Finley: 11 * 0.03 = 0.33 Total; 0.029 Daily
Orlando Cabrera: 1 * 0.034 = 0.034 Total; 0.032 Daily
Adam Kennedy: 22 * 0.041 = 0.902 Total; 0 Daily
Tim Salmon: 60 * 0.034 = 2.04 Total; 0.026 Daily
Bengie Molina: 17 * 0.028 = 0.476 Total; 0 Daily
Robb Quinlan: 1 * 0.002 = 0.002 Total; 0.001 Daily
Macier Izturis: 13 * 0.024 = 0.312 Total; 0 Daily
Lou Merloni: 8 * 0 = 0 Total; 0 Daily
Curtis Pride: 1 * 0 = 0 Total; 0 Daily
*Angels Pitchers = 5.212 Total; 0.088 Daily*
Kelvim Escobar: 11 * 0.166 = 1.826 Total; 0 Daily
Francisco Rodriguez: 7 * 0.051 = 0.357 Total; 0 Daily
Matt Hensley: 0 * 0.152 = 0 Total; 0 Daily
Bret Prinz: 34 * 0.03 = 1.02 Total; 0.014 Daily
*Angels Hitters = 3.203 Total; 0.014 Daily*
*Angels Total = 8.415 Total; 0.102 Daily*

The Angels have indeed been hit hard, but not as hard as the Dodgers. Additionally, the difference between the Angels farm system and the Dodgers is that the Angels have AAA talent, whereas the Dodgers do not. That helps tremendously when dealing with injuries. All of the Dodgers talent resides in AA or below, which is directly correlated with Logan White's tenure (2002-). The fact that they are not ready to contribute has to do with age (21 - 22 year olds) and draft philosophy (primary projectable high-school players). They're still going to be a lot of great major leaguers in the bunch, but we need to give them more time.
Additionally, I wanted to point out that the Dodgers are currently being hit twice as hard by injuries as the Angels.
Okay -- you win on points. But: I still have my doubts about the Dodgers farm. We keep hearing how great it is, but everybody worth a damn keeps stalling at AA or below. Wake me up when I should start being impressed.
Say, theoretically, for a moment, that the reason Saenz is playing so much is that DePodesta wants to trade him. Just hypothetically. Also hypothetically, would the Angels have any interest in him -- DH? Semi-platoon with Erstad? Trying to come up with a list of teams that this scenario would make any sense at all, the Angels popped to the top of the list. A contender, with a bit of a hole at first (yeah, yeah, ok, Erstad fans. Whatever.), and needing some juice off the bench and at the DH spot. Thoughts?
It seems like the Angels or Orioles would be the best matches. Most other AL contenders already have a 1B/DH type. The Angels are getting a .648 OPS from their DH slot, and the Orioles are getting a .645 OPS. I'm having a tough time determining who the Dodgers would realistically ask for from the Angels. Perhaps they could get Larry Bigbie from the Orioles as a Grabowski-upgrade for a few years?

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