|What Ails Dem Bums: Part 1, Offense||................. 1 1 / 2 5 / 2 0 0 2|
Until the O'Malley's sold them.
Fox ownership has been a virtually unmitigated disaster. Kevin Malone rushed to buy a championship with expensive free agents, most notably Kevin Brown, a starting pitcher with a temper so ferocious that, when he signed with San Diego, "he informed the Padres that he would reimburse the club for any damage inflicted on team property during the season." Malone fired the Dodger minor league coaching staff, including Mike Scioscia, Mickey Hatcher, and Bud Black, all of whom went on to teach the Angels a thing or two about how to win ballgames. Fox traded away Mike Piazza -- twice. Fox wanted wins, but they were the ultimate soulless machine, and couldn't understand that the Dodgers had a culture as important as turnstyle counts. By ignoring it, they wrecked one of the great and storied teams of baseball. Dodger fans, bless 'em, have been remarkably forgiving, continuing to show up regardless of win-loss numbers. But the Angels World Series win brings to light some of the really big missing elements of the Dodgers' organization. I hope to put on the web some of my thoughts, position-by-position, for what the Dodgers could do to bring home a division win.
In this section, I've taken the liberty of crawling mlb.com to get the last ten years' worth of stats. Since offense was the big thing obviously missing from the Dodgers' numbers this year, I'm starting with that. To simplify things a bit, I use OPS numbers as a shorthand for overall offensive capability. It's necessarily incomplete, but it does serve the purpose of highlighting the problems I think exist in the organization at present. The statistical tables below are color coded according to the following legend:
|light green||Top third of MLB players with 100+ appearances (unless otherwise indicated)|
|light yellow||Middle third|
|light red||Bottom third|
|Offensive statistics for M Piazza|
|2002||NYM||C||0.903||1 of 22||0.045|
|2001||NYM||C||0.957||1 of 20||0.050|
|2000||NYM||C||1.012||1 of 18||0.056|
|1999||NYM||C||0.936||2 of 25||0.080|
|1998||NYM||C||0.960||1 of 22||0.045|
|1997||LA||C||1.070||1 of 23||0.043|
|1996||LA||C||0.985||1 of 24||0.042|
|1995||LA||C||1.006||1 of 17||0.059|
|1994||LA||C||0.910||1 of 6||0.167|
|1993||LA||C||0.932||3 of 22||0.136|
But, as Susan Sarandon's character in Bull Durham observed, bad trades are a part of baseball. We now have Paul LoDuca, one of the few Dodgers whose performance I have no complaints about. This year, his OPS is a fairly mediocre .731, 28 of 100 in the majors but 9 of 22 for catchers appearing in 100 or more games.
|Offensive statistics for P Lo Duca|
|2002||LA||C||0.731||9 of 22||0.409|
|2001||LA||C||0.917||2 of 20||0.100|
You won't find me complaining about hitting at the catcher position, though; offensively, he's at least in the middle of his position's range throughout the majors. And, now that the threat of a strike has passed, there's every reason to think he'll be in better shape next year, as his duties as union representative will have either migrated to someone else's shoulders, or will have in any case diminished. However, you will get an earful when the subject turns to
|Offensive statistics for E Karros|
|2002||LA||1B||0.722||30 of 33||0.909|
|2001||LA||1B||0.691||27 of 27||1.000|
|2000||LA||1B||0.780||25 of 30||0.833|
|1999||LA||1B||0.912||10 of 35||0.286|
|1998||LA||1B||0.830||16 of 34||0.471|
|1997||LA||1B||0.787||23 of 26||0.885|
|1996||LA||1B||0.795||24 of 31||0.774|
|1995||LA||1B||0.905||7 of 23||0.304|
|1994||LA||1B||0.736||13 of 15||0.867|
|1993||LA||1B||0.696||25 of 28||0.893|
|1992||LA||1B||0.730||18 of 26||0.692|
This is just pathetic. Sarah Morris recently wrote an article on the Dodger's website analyzing their current situation; while I normally find her rational, her discussion of Karros is perfunctory. How she can look at his OPS numbers and say she doesn't understand why the Dodgers would want to platoon him is beyond me. Offensively, Karros has been in the bottom third of starting first basemen in the majors for seven of the last ten years. His poor hitting has hurt the Dodgers immensely at a traditional power position. He should be platooned at the very least. Preferably, he should be traded.
Update 2/21/03: it looks like I get my wish. Both Grudz and Karros are now safely away in Chicago, where they will, in all probability, end their careers. (This is probably true for Karros, at least, though given Grudz's low numbers, it's hard to argue that he'll withstand younger competition much longer). I wish both the best with their new team, excepting that they're playing the Dodgers, natch. Karros' replacement is the Cubbies' stalwart Fred "Crime Dog" McGriff, who will likely end his career in Dodger blue. McGriff is one of the game's great power hitters, never mind that he's pretty aged at this point -- he has one or two good seasons left, and I think it was overall a good series of trades that brought him to Chavez Ravine.
Clearly, his breakout season of 1999 was just not repeatable. His .665 OPS is well below his career average of .704. And even though major league average OPS at second has generally declined every year over the last four years, Grudz has declined faster than the league. There doesn't seem to be much hope that he'll improve to a repeat of his 1999 numbers. My advice to the Dodgers would be to trade him, especially given how expensive he is.
|Offensive statistics for A Beltre|
|2002||LA||3B||0.729||23 of 31||0.742|
|2001||LA||3B||0.720||18 of 28||0.643|
|2000||LA||3B||0.835||11 of 31||0.355|
|1999||LA||3B||0.780||18 of 32||0.563|
In his defense, he's hit a fair number of homers (21), but homers don't by themselves win ballgames. His weak OBP (.303) and his mediocre SLG (.426) combine for an OPS in the bottom quarter of starting third basemen. Most players at this position either have a good eye (high OBP and/or lots of walks) or can hit for extra bases (SLG), but Beltre is outstanding in neither of these categories. The Dodgers should trade Beltre... but wait, this is beginning to sound too familiar.
Update 2/21/03: Owing to the Dodgers' weak financial situation and bad moves under former management, Beltre's chronic underachievement at third just won't go away.
|Offensive statistics for S Green|
|2002||LA||OF||0.944||12 of 100||0.120|
|2001||LA||OF||0.970||11 of 98||0.112|
|2000||LA||OF||0.839||42 of 104||0.404|
|1999||TOR||OF||0.972||9 of 99||0.091|
|1998||TOR||OF||0.844||31 of 99||0.313|
|1997||TOR||OF||0.809||34 of 92||0.370|
|1996||TOR||OF||0.790||49 of 90||0.544|
|1995||TOR||OF||0.835||31 of 81||0.383|
Besides his outstanding offensive numbers, he's one of the classiest guys playing ball today. Mercifully, he's signed to a long-term contract.
Brian Jordan had an okay year, but he has filed for free agency; I tend to agree with Sarah that a trade is best for all concerned. His OPS numbers are good but not great; he should be replaceable.
|Offensive statistics for B Jordan|
|2002||LA||OF||0.807||42 of 100||0.420|
|2001||ATL||OF||0.830||35 of 98||0.357|
|2000||ATL||OF||0.742||83 of 104||0.798|
|1999||ATL||OF||0.811||56 of 99||0.566|
|1998||STL||OF||0.902||16 of 99||0.162|
|1996||STL||OF||0.833||35 of 90||0.389|
|1995||STL||OF||0.827||34 of 81||0.420|
Update 2/21/03: ... and yet, he came back. One can only hope for better things.
Marquis Grissom had an exceptional season:
|Offensive statistics for M Grissom|
|2002||LA||OF||0.831||33 of 100||0.330|
|2001||LA||OF||0.654||90 of 98||0.918|
|2000||MIL||OF||0.640||101 of 104||0.971|
|1999||MIL||OF||0.734||77 of 99||0.778|
|1998||MIL||OF||0.685||82 of 99||0.828|
|1997||CLE||OF||0.713||73 of 92||0.793|
|1996||ATL||OF||0.838||33 of 90||0.367|
|1995||ATL||OF||0.693||72 of 81||0.889|
|1994||MON||OF||0.771||32 of 49||0.653|
|1993||MON||OF||0.789||36 of 87||0.414|
|1992||MON||OF||0.741||41 of 85||0.482|
Given these numbers, it's tempting to suggest that Grissom should play full time. He's capable of some spectacular defensive plays as well.
Update 2/21/03: ... so naturally, he leaves the Dodgers to play for the Giants. They'll need him, with so many of their 2002 team run off.
Dave Roberts is the biggest question mark. I have to wonder why Sarah likes him so much; his OPS numbers are anemic for a starting outfielder, better than his average in Cleveland but declining substantially from his best and last year there:
But, that said, given how cheap ($217k 2002 salary) and young (30) he is, and the fact that his numbers seem headed in the right direction generally, the Dodgers should retain his services.
So, is it time for the Dodgers to replace their current hitting coach, Jack Clark? I don't know, but I suspect Tyler Houston's drought points in that direction. Mickey Hatcher, a former Dodger, is reputed to keep stats on the number of pitches per plate appearance; in fact, if I recall correctly, the only three hitting statistics he cares about are OPS, number of pitches per plate appearance, and RBIs. Perhaps it's time the Dodgers gave him a call for some advice.
Lock in: Paul Lo Duca.
Resign for a 3-year contract: Marquis Grissom, Dave Roberts.
Replace: Jack Clark? Maybe?
Next week: pitching.
Last modified: Fri Feb 21 22:58:46 PST 2003