Off Base
Dodgers Deals a Mixed Bag

September 1, 2009, 11:18 p.m. Ned Colletti and the Dodgers made some bold moves for the stretch run, dusting the closest competition in the process.

So much so it’s almost funny. Not almost, actually, it really is funny. I mean, the Giants picked up Brad Penny, for God’s sake. How can you not laugh? I’m doubled over as we speak.

The way the schedule is set up right now, and assuming he’s not injured before he gets the chance, Penny will face the Dodgers twice in the next three weeks, probably September 13th at San Francisco and September 20th here.

That means you're looking at ten innings of work total, 11 at the outside, and six to eight runs for Los Angeles. That’s a couple of games the Dodgers might not have otherwise won, two games off the schedule, two games to subtract from the magic number.

It is just me, or are more people celebrating the Penny-to-Frisco move in Southern California than in Northern?

And just watch as Penny, with his big mouth, creates a little bulletin board material for the Dodgers, and yet another reason or three for their fans to boo him unmercifully. If it were physically possible for a man to burn the same bridge twice, this is the guy to attempt it.

Not to be outdone mastering the waiver wire transaction, the Rockies acquired Jason Giambi and Jose Contreras. Good for Dan O’Dowd. There’s an Executive-of-the-Year-Award pair of moves for you. Every other GM should concede right now, and rise up in a chorus of “we’re not worthy!”

Look, there are no guarantees with any of this stuff, but Colletti vanquished his NL West counterparts in July and August, and there can be no big-market small-market complaints about it. He neither added substantial payroll nor parted with prospects of consequence. He just took the front office game for his club.

If you watched any of Colletti’s interviews Monday night, you could see the confidence oozing out of him, a confidence that’s liable to work its way down to the clubhouse. It was almost like he was saying, "well, I did my job, now watch us win." Joe Torre’s a good poker face, but he looked pretty damn pleased as well.

There’s already been plenty of talk around town about whether Jon Garland or Jim Thome is the more likely to be a successful Dodger, with plenty of good statistical analysis on either side of the aisle for a healthy debate. But I don’t hear anyone, anyone, questioning whether or not the Dodgers made the best moves of the contending teams Monday.

Some say Thome’s relative lack of production as a pinch hitter is a point against him, but I’ll take the September and October experience and the 17 postseason homers, when Juan Pierre is the lefty off-the-bench power threat at the moment, anytime.

Jon Garland, I’m less keen on. He’s got pennant race and World Series success to boast about, and like everyone including the pitcher himself says, you know what you’re going to get out of him – takes the ball every fifth day, innings eater, consistent performer. And it might work out fine. There’s a good chance, in fact.

Garland does give up a lot of base-runners, however, and more than a fair share of them cross home plate. And he’s fifth in the league in losses, with 11, right now, as a matter of fact. For whatever that’s worth.

Each pundit or wannabe-pundit has the numbers to back up his point of view. In addition to the high WHIP number (walks plus hits divided by innings pitched, a stat I try not to call upon as much as the next guy, and you can look it up anyway), here are the ones that concern me:

Righties are hitting .271 against Garland, left-handers a whopping .302, which rounds out to a lofty .286 total.

He’s 0-2 vs. St. Louis this season, with an 8.38 ERA, 0-2 with a 6.35 against Philly, and gave up eight earned runs in the 2 2/3 of his one start against Atlanta.

San Francisco tallied four runs on 10 hits in seven innings Garland's one time out in 2009, which in all honesty is about as typical a line as you can possibly expect from him.

ERA vs. the New York Yankees from 2006 through 2008? 5.05. It’s 5.58 against Boston over the same period, and 6.60 with the Rangers.

But I don’t know. It might work out fine and dandy. Garland might look like the elusive L.A. ace the rest of the season, ending up a World Series hero. Or he could wind up off the postseason roster, with Randy Wolf, Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Hiroki Kuroda, Vicente Padilla, Jeff Weaver sand Charlie Haeger all looking down on him.

In other words, who the bleep knows? Most major league pitchers are up and down, tough to hit one night, a total mess the next time out. A mixed bag.

Garland was on my list of starters I hoped the Dodgers would consider adding. It’s just that he was at the bottom of the list…

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

Media Savvy: Yet another fine piece from long-time favorite and Internet Baseball Writers Association of America founding member Tim Brown, of YahooSports, about the growing understanding within the game of players dealing with emotional problems.

And a nice line from Ken Rosenthal, of about the deadline deals made by the various clubs: "It's not too early to circle the date of Penny's first start against the Dodgers — the team he left in a huff last offseason — and for the umpires to issue warnings to both sides."

Statue for Sandy: The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…

Remember, glove conquers all…







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