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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Eliminator: Diamondbacks 6, Dodgers 2

I don't have any explanations for this Dodgers season, yet, though I am working on it. Win shares? So far, the numbers don't back up my hypothesis that Grady pushed the veterans into too many spots where they could have been profitably replaced by kids. But win probability added (WPA)? It's not even close. Russell Martin, James Loney, Wilson Betemit, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Wilson Valdez, and Andy LaRoche, believe it or not ... and after that the list goes to zero or even negative.

Look, I don't put much stock in WPA as a metric for grading players, because it tends to amplify the wrong things (it gives closers a huge boost). But it is something.

Yesterday's game featured the largely spent (and just plain large) David Wells on the mound, trying to stave off divisional elimination for another day. Wells predictably got knocked around by Arizona with almost exactly the same line as his last start against that team for the Padres on August 1. Opponent Brandon Webb was never really seriously in trouble, and the Dodgers become just another team with an E next to their names on the standings.

What gets me amid all of this floundering is how amazingly absent Frank and Jamie McCourt have been from the scene. The hoopla over Tommy Lasorda's 80th birthday brought them out of hiding, but even that was telling in a way; they only want to be seen, it seems, when the team is doing well, and Lasorda, tenuously but stubbornly, remains a symbol of the team's better days. Even in that, Lasorda's victories are partial: yes, rings in 1981 and 1988, but let us not forget Pedro Martinez, Paul Konerko, and Jeff Shaw. It's of a piece with the McCourts' superficiality, of style over substance. Veteran over rookie.

Seven straight losses, and postseason elimination. If that doesn't focus your mind, nothing will.

Postscriptum: The Michael Schwartz MLB.com recap got it wrong: the Dodgers have been eliminated from the division. They continue to await elimination from the Wild Card.

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