Monday, September 24, 2007
Oh You Kids: Dodgers 7, Diamondbacks 1It's easy for me to go on about Grady and his lineup failures, especially now that the Dodgers are in competition mainly to find out who's going to be doing what next year; with an elimination number of two from the Wild Card, they only staved off the inevitable with this win for another day. What's funny, though, is to read Jon's recent piece quoting one from 2005:
The Dodger farm system has not promised more than it has delivered. It has not been highly rated for years. The rise of the farm system, both in perception and reality, is a recent development, and the prospects are arriving right on time.That elicited a cranky response from me (one of my most heavily commented-upon posts ever — I should write about the Dodgers more often!) that the kids were overrated, perpetually receding into the future via the Logan White Time Dilation effect that had them becoming less useful as time moved forward. As evidence, I cited the fact that the A's had brought up Huston Street relatively quickly through their system. That is to say, a truly great farm system will have at least one superduperstar who rockets through the minors in a short time, bypassing a level or three. (Very rarely, you'll find a Dave Winfield, who doesn't spend a day in the minors and, like Athena from the head of Zeus, arrives fully-formed.)
I no longer think this is as true, but it does bear some watching, because it's not at all clear that what the Dodgers have on the roster now is all gold, either. Now that Andy LaRoche has been outed as less-than-diligent about doing his back exercises — even if only once — it makes him a question mark for future lineups. James Loney has his mental lapses at first, and hasn't proven himself to be much of a slugger. (Update: ... though he's showing some very positive signs this year — a .331/.381/.528 line in only 320 AB? That's [maybe] 20+ homers had Grady Little started him at the beginning of the season, production the Dodgers weren't going to get out of the heavily advertised Nomar. Sign me up.) Matt Kemp forgets himself on the basepaths. They are good players, yes, but so far, outside of Russell Martin, Jonathan Broxton, and Chad Billingsley, none of them have shown themselves to be difference-making stars, either. That could change, of course, and with time it likely will.
LA leadoff hitters .278/.328/.363 32 SB/8 CSThat is to say, Slappy McPopup is killing this team at leadoff, and this was wholly predictable.
#2 hitter .286/.328/.353 56 SB/12 CS
Quite literally the lowest OBP (and SLG) of any lineup spots. #7 hitters are hitting a combined .304/.363/.474
But back to the kids, and the game: one of those we wish good fortune upon, Andy LaRoche, is hitting .217 now, but he drove in a run, going 1-for-3 with a walk. In fact it was the kids and only the kids who drove in the team's seven runs in this game. Chad Billingsley really kept the Dodgers in this one, unlike the string of garbage-time fifth and sixth and eighth starters Ned Colletti has acquired lately. The game snapped a seven-game losing streak, and who knows but Grady might learn something from it. Or not.
Bud Black Takes Down Milton BradleyAnd on purpose, even! Bradley reached on a single in yesterday's 7-3 loss to the suddenly-hot Rockies when he started mouthing off to the first base umpire. Bud Black came out and tried to restrain him, but ended up injuring his knee on a takedown that looked a lot less friendly than you might expect. (The link is to the Padres' recap page, and you can get to the video from there; here's a direct link, but those things tend to be transient.)
- Cleveland also clinched their division yesterday by beating Oakland 6-2. At 92-63 they are a half-game better than the Angels in the remaining race of interest in the AL, that for home field advantage.
- Edwin Jackson beat the Red Sox for Tampa Bay yesterday, holding them to three runs in five and a third innings; amazingly, the Devil Rays' bullpen held up the rest of the way, but it was definitely not the Sox' A lineup in the game, either, with Julio Lugo, Doug Mirabelli (catching Tim Wakefield), and Eric Hinske all starting.
- Atlanta kept their division hopes (dimly) alive by beating Milwaukee 7-4. Combined with the Cubs' 8-0 shutout of the Pirates, the Cubs' magic number in the NL Central goes down to four.
- The Padres' once-healthy lead in the NL Wild Card looks more and more tenuous all the time. With the sudden resurgence of the Rockies, the Pads have been sent reeling, getting swept at home by a team now only a game and a half back of the Wild Card berth. Thanks to their pounding of the Dodgers earlier, the Rocks have won eight of their last ten, but will be pinning their hopes on a pair of tough opponents: the Dodgers in Los Angeles for three (well, not so tough), and the Diamondbacks at home. Meanwhile, the Padres play San Francisco and Milwaukee, all on the road. The second-place Phillies finish out their schedule against the Braves and Nationals at home. The Rocks are probably done barring a miracle, but the Phils and Pads are about as close as you can get. The NL Wild Card will be the most exciting race down the wire.