Sunday, April 08, 2007

Post-Game 6 Thread: April 8 @ Giants


Break out the bats! This game turned early-season conventional wisdom on its head, with Luis Gonzalez providing some much-needed power (and helping to silence critics—SoSG included—of his defense) and the Dodgers touching up the usually untouchable Barry Zito for eight (!) earned runs.

Randy Wolf got his first win as a Dodger by overcoming early-inning difficulties and settling down to limit the Giants to one earned run over six innings. With his injury history, don't expect Wolf to consistently go deep into games; six solid innings combined with a fat lead allowed the Dodgers to rest Joe Beimel and Takashi Saito while getting some work in for Chad Billingsley.

Billingsley, in his first appearance of the season, showed signs of rust as he allowed three earned runs over two innings, but a ninth-inning RBI by Matt Kemp and another dominant inning of relief by Jonathan Broxton (including striking out Rich Aurilia on a Gagne-esque off-speed pitch when everyone in the park was expecting a fastball) ended any thoughts of a Giants rally.

Kemp batted sixth in the order and went 3 for 4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. In only three games this year, Kemp has seemingly demonstrated more plate discipline than in all of last year. It will be interesting to see if his approach with the bat changes as he tries to hit for more power.

The third member of the Dodgers' outfield, Juan Pierre, provided what Ken Gurnick calls "more outfield misadventures" with a first-inning error that led to the Giants' first run. Pierre was 1 for 5 at the plate, but stole third in a double-steal in the seventh.

In the infield, Jeff Kent continued to prove he's healthy by going 2 for 4 with three runs scored. Wilson Valdez, who just last week looked like a temporary fix for the injured Rafael Furcal, went 3 for 5 with two RBIs. In his past two games, Valdez is 6 for 9 at the plate and has provided some sparkling defense at short.

With Furcal's return imminent, the Dodgers will have a tough decision in whether to keep Valdez on the roster, since he is out of options and eligible to be claimed by another team should the Dodgers try to send him to the minors. And we keep wondering why there isn't room for James Loney on this team.

So the Dodgers recover nicely from their opening missteps in Milwaukee by sweeping the Giants in San Francisco. We'll see if they can keep their upward momentum in the NL West when they play the Rockies tomorrow in the home opener. Remember to get there early!


Steve Sax said...

A very nice wrap-up. Thanks Orel for filling in some of the blanks while I was out, er, working on my toilet (so to speak).

Anonymous said...

Its starting to become painfully obvious: Ned Colletti screwed the pooch this offseason. In his hard-headed willingness to force young players "earn" their way into major league starting jobs, he willingly tied his hands behind his back at two positions for at least two years and at one for at least FIVE. It became clear as day this spring that James Loney is ready for the bright lights of Dodger Stadium, but with Nomar at 1B for the next two years its a classic case of the immovable object and the irresistible force. In CF it appears that the offseason predictions about Juan Pierre are becoming painfully evident over the first week of the 2007 campaign. The value of his 'speediness' has been terribly overvalued and it appears that he really is only keeping Matt Kemp from making the CF position his own. CF rightfully belongs to Kemp and with Pierre around for at least five more years, it can only mean that one of four scenarios is likely: a) Kemp becomes trade bait for a big bat at 3B or LF b) Ethier becomes trade bait for a big bat at 3B or Lf c) Kemp AND Ethier become trade bait for a big bat at 3B or LF c) Pierre becomes trade bait, where the Dodgers have to swallow their pride and/or 20 million of Juan Pierre's remaining contract for the next 4 or 5 years.
All of these scenarios are unacceptable. In his haste to make some sort of signing in response to losing out on Aramis, Alfonso, Carlos et. al., he mistakenly pulled the trigger on Pierre without ever considering that he may have a superior talent in his very own farm system. We will all have to come to grips with this realization at some point this year. Lets just hope its the latter of the scenarios alluded to previously.