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Friday, May 09, 2008

Pickoff Moves

What To Do With DeWitt?

The Kamenetzky's ponder the question stirring every Dodger fan's head:
This is a toughie, one that AK and I discussed at length in yesterday's Purple, Gold, and Blue podcast.  Certainly he's been terrifyingly good over the last week or so, has shown great poise and patience, and a couple muffs notwithstanding, solid skills at third.  But if he was to Wally Pipp both Nomar Garciaparra and Andy LaRoche, I have a feeling that over the long haul, he'd cool off considerably.  I don't mean this to diminish what the future mayor of Sikeston has accomplished, but in some ways he's been the beneficiary of low expectations in the same way that Andy LaRoche was punished by high ones when he struggled last year.  Nobody expected anything from DeWitt, so that he's been legitimately good makes it seem even better.  I'm still of the mind that a) over a full season his production will taper (wait, I already said that- damn!), b) it's important to get LaRoche back and playing, and finally give him a chance to establish himself, and c) back to DeWitt, it's better to send a kid down with a fully positive experience rather than waiting for him to stall, then shipping him out.
Frankly, having seen the kid's at-bats, I'm inclined to think he's made some hella great strides over the last season. He's got almost as many walks (10) as strikeouts (12), which is saying something. Granted, that zero-AB's-past-AA thing is liable to catch up with him, and we don't know how much value Andy LaRoche will really bring at the major league level. Also, there's the problem of what happens when Nomar comes back to the roster to fill it with his putrefying performance, but that's part and parcel of McCourt/Colletti Productions — never play a kid ahead of a vetruhn if you can help it.

Video Of Yesterday's Rangers/Mariners Melee

Here. Milton Bradley actually trying to break up a fight? And that pitch wasn't anywhere close to Sexson's head. BTF snark here.

Helene Elliott On Charles Steinberg, Dodgers XVP Of Marketing

Pretty good piece by Times sports columnist Helene Elliott on Charles Steinberg, the Dodgers executive vice president of marketing. Noting that he's an unmarried 40-year-old, she goes on to mention how Steinberg "gets misty about baseball's ability to unite families":
In orchestrating how games are presented and trying to make fans share his love of baseball, Steinberg listens to "the 10-year-old kid that is eternal inside of me." Team President Jamie McCourt said the decision to hire him was made "in terms of dream-weaving," his skill at creating an atmosphere in which families connect and create memories.

He may be a dreamer but he's bold enough to tackle the impossible -- he's trying to change Southern California tradition and get fans into Dodger Stadium hours before the first pitch.

She also mentions that
The Dodgers are the eighth-most expensive outing for a family of four this season at an average cost of $229.14, according to Team Marketing Report's annual baseball survey. The tally includes four average-priced tickets, two beers, four soft drinks, four hot dogs, two caps, two programs and parking for one car.
Unasked in this piece was how things proceeded in Boston, Steinberg's previous stop; at present, that club leads the majors in cost (Excel spreadsheet, see the press release here) at $320.71, vs. $229.14 for the Dodgers. The Angels pack in next to last (or second place in affordability, if you want to put it that way) at $140.42. Draw your own conclusions about the direction Frank wants to go.

Padres Implode Early

I quote myself from the BTF thread on the Padres woeful offense:
I figured the Pads would be right up there if the offense were to hold up halfway. It's not, and the Pads could be one of the worst teams in the NL if this keeps going. If their godawful offense (tied with the Giants for last place in the league in runs scored) were the extent of the bad news for the Padres, it would be bad enough, but their bullpen is also the worst in the league, with a 2-10 record all by itself. Make that an even 6-6 record and suddenly the Padres are only one game under .500 and in third place all by themselves.
Huh. Flying monkeys, now.

Speaking Of Teh Suck, How About That Barry Zito?

First Giants pitcher to go 0-7 in 81 years, and only the third in Giants history. The other two were Bill Carrick in 1899 and Bill Clarkson in 1927.

In that same piece: Peter Magowan is rumored to be considering stepping down as the Giants' managing general partner.

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he's trying to change Southern California tradition and get fans into Dodger Stadium hours before the first pitch.

I haven't read the piece yet (I sometimes make it to 6-4-2 before I've read the paper), so I don't know if it's discussed, but one of the ideas behind the McCourts' plans for the stadium is to get folks there early and keep them there after the game. I'm just not sure how feasible that is in Southern California. People have a hard enough time as it is getting there by 7:15. If you're coming from the west side, or the valley, or really any place other than Pasadena, downtown, or somewhere east of Hollywood, are you just supposed to take the entire afternoon off to come to the game? How many people can do that? And how many people with families are going to linger in the ballpark past 10, on a weeknight anyway, when it's going to take them 35 minutes to drive home? Families are expected to do this?

Los Angeles is not NY, or other east coast cities, or even someplace like San Francisco, where the stadium finds itself in the middle of a neighborhood where people live and work nearby.

Color me skeptical.
I kind of am, too, but then there's Petco, which is smack dab in the middle of the Gaslamp district. San Diego is very similar to LA in terms of its spacious dimensions (cranky "new urbanism" types would dismiss it as "sprawl"), but there's actually a lot to do there before and after. I don't think it's a bad idea at all.
And BTW, thanks for the kind words about the blog.
I think that Petco's location within a neighborhood that has both daytime business as well as vibrant nightlife is fundamentally different than the castle on a hill that is Dodger Stadium, and here I think geography is working against the Dodgers. And though San Diego does indeed have sprawl or whatever, I just don't get the sense that it is on the scale of the greater L.A. area.

The other thing is, many people go to the Gaslamp even though they're not going to the game, and that's part of what makes that area so vibrant. The presence of several large hotels in the area certainly doesn't hurt (and the hotels are there partly because it's also only 10-15 minutes from the airport).

Maybe I'm wrong, but I think it's an uphill battle (pun intended) that's going to take more than a little imagination to get a substantial number of people to trek out to Dodger Stadium early, and/or stay late.

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