Off Base
Eight is Enough

May 5, 2008

Really, it is. The Dodgers just won eight straight games, and the faithful will take it, thank you very much.

Derek Lowe wasn't going to make it nine. Maybe not anywhere, but certainly not in Colorado, where Lowe just can't pitch. It was nice that he was able to stay out there for five and semi-take one for the club, but the guy just cannot pitch at Coors Field.

And for whatever reason, Coors Field is back to being Coors Field, with ridiculously high scoring contests that barely resemble baseball. Even more frustrating is that, after two lame games Friday and Saturday, the place throws a curve by hosting an almost normal affair Sunday. And I have no idea why.

Except, maybe the humidor operators are preparing to strike for a bigger piece of Internet revenues, and stayed home Friday and Saturday, just to give us a taste of what it could be like once more, if they don't get what they're after (and whatever it is, I say give it to them) before returning for the series finale. Point well taken, guys.

Anyway, Los Angeles won a week and a day's worth of games, doing a lot of things right, and while it's an unfamiliar feeling to do so, we might as well accentuate the positive.

First of all, Rafael Furcal is a god, and is all over the place, doing literally everything possible to make his team win. I love the guy. Negotiations for that contract extension should start immediately.

And yes, yes, yes; Juan Pierre is playing well. He doesn't deserve to play over Andre Ethier, but the man is playing well. There, I said it.

Perhaps a lengthier benching of Andruw Jones, along with a large order of NutraSystem is in order now. I understand they're offering free shipping, plus an iron-clad guarantee to look as-close-to-as-cute-as-Jillian-Barberie-as-is-humanly-possible in a matter of just weeks.

Matt Kemp, James Loney, Russell Martin, Jeff Kent and Blake DeWitt all contributed big hits during the win streak, and don't look now, but all of a sudden, the Dodgers are third in the majors in scoring. The Dodgers, third in baseball plating runs. Inconceivable.

Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda each tossed great starts, the bullpen, which weathered the absence of Jonathan Broxton like it was nothing, was stellar, and perhaps most importantly, Takashi Saito looks like Takashi Saito again.

With the win streak, L.A. went from the oblivion of what, contrary to pre-season popular opinion, is the lower 60% of the National League West, to perhaps getting in Arizona's face sometime soon. They have their work cut out for them, clearly, and this homestand against the Mets and Astros is going to be huge. Will they slip right back to .500 or start taking series on a consistent basis? Your guess is as good as mine…

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

I'm getting closer to admitting I was wrong about Esteban Loaiza, but I'm not quite there yet. Was it the Coors Field factor, or Loaiza just plain stinking up the joint Saturday? Let's see if Joe Torre sticks with Loiaza for another start or two. We'll pick it up again in about a week…

Of course Andruw Jones looks clueless at the plate, and of course he's killing the Dodgers offensively. Like, duh. No argument there. But this business being discussed about how Jones is seeing a lot of pitches, to the tune of five or so per at bat, and how he should be given some sort of credit, is thoroughly misguided. Talk about your lame stat. It takes Jones three pitches to strike out, right? Great, so he sees two pitches per AB extra before whiffing. C'mon…

The Dodgers losing out on the Juan Castro sweepstakes was a relief to me, and a good thing all the way around. It's just too bad he went to Colorado instead of San Diego. The Padres adding Castro to that murderers row of theirs would've been priceless…

New Feature. The Russell Martin-Day-Off-Oh-Meter: First things first. Third base may be a nice little break, and a barrel of laughs for the Dodgers irreplaceable catcher, but a day off it is not. As of May 5, the Dodgers have played 31 games. Russell Martin has played in 31 games.
Torre has nearly given him a rest twice, but in both cases, on April 8 and April 19, Martin appeared as a pinch hitter and stayed in to finish behind the plate. Inexcusable.

In this one area, Torre is worse than Grady Little, and sooner or later, he's going to live to regret it. The key thing is this: Martin's desire to be out there daily is, or should be, of zero relevance to Torre in making out his lineups. Zero.

The manager needs to schedule a day off for Martin two or three times per month, at a minimum, as a matter of course. Failure to do so is borderline negligence.

For the record, Torre's career highs in games caught are these: 112, 105, 100, 114 and 114...

Media Savvy: The San Diego media has seen enough, and all I can say is "that's gotta sting." Here's a sample from Tim Sullivan, of the San Diego Union-Tribune, on the home team: "They don't hit. They can't run. The Padres produce position players the way Switzerland does surfers. They fill their holes by foraging in baseball's bargain bin, collecting castoffs, re-patching retreads, frustrating fans with the combustible mix of premium prices and skinflint spending."

And check out this interesting piece on "failure dynasties," by Jonah Keri, of ESPN.com...

Investors Wanted: BaseballSavvy.com is a growth enterprise. I’d say we’re looking for Angel investors, but that’s vulgar, and I promised my mother. Invest a thimble full of venture capital today; make major league minimum tomorrow. Inquire

Ode to Carlos Delgado: With the Mets in town, a little pertinent to nothing reminiscing, if you don't mind. In 1995, ESPN’s Chris Berman held a contest. Viewers were to send in suggestions for a Carlos Delgado nickname, which Berman would then use as his own. The winning selection was, of course, Carlos Ina-Delgado-Vida. I’m still proud of the name I sent in, Carlos Del-Gado-Go-Back-to-da-Minors. Remember, Delgado hit .165 that year...

Statue for Sandy: As we inch forward, the Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…

In Memoriam: Buzzie Bavasi was a cherished friend to this publication, and his contributions and good cheer will be sorely missed. Buzz and I were introduced by a mutual friend around the time of BS's debut in 2000, and talked baseball, mostly by email, regularly since that day. He was a weekly reader of Off Base, and would often chime in with his comments, while welcoming my questions. Always with a word of encouragement.

I sent Buzzie a question about the Frank Howard for Claude Osteen trade last week. It was the only time he didn't get back to me.

Rest easy, sir. We'll get the Hall of Fame campaign started for you right now…

Remember, glove conquers all….

 

 

 

 

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