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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Broxton Blows It: Giants 3, Dodgers 2 (10 Innings)

I have long opposed the "one big bat" theory of lineup construction for many reasons, but principally these two:
  1. It ignores the basic nature of baseball as a team sport. Baseball is rife with examples of teams that had One Big Bat but little else; the recent editions of the Reds sporting Ken Griffey, Jr., for instance, or the many incarnations of the late 90's/early 2000's Cubs for whom Sammy Sosa was the only offense. Vlad Guerrero, on the Expos prior to his rescue by the Angels. I could go on.
  2. It fails to provide a balanced attack. In the current Dodger lineup, Manny can be pitched around, as could Vlad prior to the Teixeira acquisition, etc.
Really, they amount to the same thing; if the big bat fails, you're down an out and you have nothing. This game was lost on Manny — or anybody else — hitting the ball for something other than a single with RISP, in the main. The Dodgers' only offense through the ninth was Hiroki Kuroda's RBI single in the second. Kent drove himself in in the top of the tenth on a long solo shot. Jonathan Broxton choked it back up and the winning run, ironically enough, squirted under Kent's glove off Aaron Rowand's bat. You knew the Dodgers were going to lose the minute Broxton loaded the bases with nobody out. You just knew.

You've gotta beat the bad teams, and the Giants are a bad team. The Dodgers couldn't take advantage of an 11-4 Braves win over Arizona to advance in the standings, and so fall — once more — to .500 at 58-58. Getting Manny was a huge mistake, an enormous misreading of the team's position in the standings and its ability to execute, a blunder of the same order as that made by Bill Bavasi with this year's Mariners. Sure, they'll get a little help from an injury to starting Arizona second baseman Orlando Hudson in tonight's game that will likely sideline him for the balance of the year, but winning the division with a losing record shouldn't be the Dodgers' principle goal.

Yahoo boxMLB.com recap

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Rob, don't you think it's a little much to compare the Manny deal to the Bedard deal? The M's gave up SIX players, including a young likely stud OF (Jones), a very effective reliever (Sherrill), a young highly touted pitcher (Tillman) - plus three more guys, all to shore up a team that should have known it was going to need more than one more pitcher to catch the Angels over the course of the season.

While I agree I wish LaRoche had ever gotten a fair shake at 3B, the Dodgers gave up WAY less than the M's did, and you certainly can't argue that Manny is producing, which the M's didn't even get out of Bedard. Besides, while the M's should have known they weren't good enough, the Dodgers were only a game out. While that's of course due to the mediocrity of Arizona, it doesn't make getting into the playoffs count any less, especially with the pitching staff the Dodgers have.
Regardless of the number of players given up, the fact remains that it is still the same kind of misreading; in fact, you could argue it's an even worse one because the 2007 Mariners were an 88-74 team, where the 2007 Dodgers were an 82-80 team. That is, last year's Dodgers were further away from contending than this year's team was if you look at the long term goal of achieving league escape velocity. The Dodgers are not really a contending team, no matter who they beat — or fail to! — in the lilliputian NL West. The acquisition of Casey Blake and Manny Ramirez won't change that. Giving up big pieces of the future for two- or three-month rentals does not make sense in that context.
But you're comparing the 2007 M's to the 2007 Dodgers. The 2008 Dodgers - the only team that should matter in this - were only a game out of the playoffs. You can argue that just getting Manny didn't improve the offense enough (and on that I may agree with you), but I do believe that the Manny deal should be enough to put the team into the playoffs. And once you're in the playoffs, a very good pitching staff (which the Dodgers have) is more important than anything. Sure, it'll look like they got lucky in getting in, but I don't see the 83-79 2006 Cardinals flying that WS flag any lower because of it.
You were saying something about the pitching... huh.

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