Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Hear, Hear!

From Christina Kahrl's Transactional Analysis column posted today over at Baseball Prospectus

Optioned 3B-R Andy LaRoche to Las Vegas (Triple-A); placed RHP Yhency Brazoban on the 15-day DL; recalled LHP Hong-Chih Kuo and RHP Eric Hull from Las Vegas. [6/1]Sold C-R Kelly Stinnett to the Cardinals. [6/3] Optioned RHP Eric Hull to Las Vegas; activated RHP Jason Schmidt from 15-day DL. [6/5] Placed INF-R Ramon Martinez on the 15-day DL; recalled OF-R Matt Kemp from Las Vegas. [6/9]Designated OF-R Brady Clark for assignment; recalled 1B/OF-L James Loney from Las Vegas. [6/10]

Some of this is very interesting, and some of it's more basic bizarre Dodger behavior. The question is whether or not Kemp and Loney aren't up to fix two mistakes Ned Colletti made this winter. The complaints about Juan Pierre from the very moment of his signing could fill a few phone books, but that move also generated a human shield for Nomar Garciaparra's spectacular suckitude. Ponder the Dodgers' VORP values from among their hitters. Nomar rates behind Pierre by 3.9 runs in barely two months of play; hell, Nomar rates behind the now-released Clark, and behind LaRoche by four runs. That's not just a little bad, that's awful, and I don't care what the press conference said about his character or more gamey qualities--those were meant to describe his leadership, not his value on the hoof. Perhaps the most damning indictment of Nomar's contributions? That Loney got called up to challenge him despite hitting .279/.345/.382. In Vegas. In the PCL. If there are ever going to be performance evaluations of this general manager, how do you think Ned's going to do?

Similarly, two different Ned December masterstrokes are looking like so many garage-bound Christmas boo-boos these days. Whether Kemp is up to take playing time from Pierre or Andre Ethier, either way, one of Colletti's over-touted acquisitions loses time. Where's the anti-Moneyball jibber-jabber about the genius involved in stealing away Ethier from the A's now? And what does it say when Ethier is the less-expensive, sensible pickup while $44 million drains away into Juan Pierre's bank account? This isn't Pierre's fault, but the Dodgers can--as ever--thank Logan White and the player development program to provide some sort of saving grace. Kemp was having a nice month-plus with Vegas, hitting .329/.374/.540, so it looks like he's over the shoulder problem that shelved him in April. The Dodgers say he'll get playing time all over the outfield, and that's as it should be, coming as it will at the expense of Pierre, Ethier and Luis Gonzalez.

Finally, there's the dramatic latest fixes to the rotation, as Schmidt and Kuo step into it, while Brett Tomko and Mark Hendrickson get asked out. Since it doesn't seem as if Schmidt is right as rain just yet, it's interesting to again wonder if the only part of it that's going right is Kuo...another part of the puzzle that Colletti didn't add. For all of the talk of Hendrickson's newfound power of positive thinking, it generated all of one quality start in eight; the guy is 33 and has been given every break possible, so I think we might safely conclude that he's not about to turn some corner, and that he remains staff filler. At least Tomko posted three QS in eight starts, or close enough to acceptable for a fifth starter, but in general, Kuo should represent an improvement. After all, that was the story in 2006, and I don't see much reason for that to change. Still, there's the issue of whether or not Schmidt's going to provide value, and while I won't harbor a guess about the value of converting him into a Sunday starter; if Stan Conte's training staff was supposed to help him remain a quality pitcher, and they can't, then the real problem isn't with Conte's crew, it's in the decision-making process that picked Schmidt as the big-ticket hurler they had to add. Would it be besides the point to bring up the fact that Paul DePodesta pick-ups Brad Penny and Derek Lowe remain the worthwhile investments in the rotation?

Hmmm. This all sounds so familiar. Complaints about signing Pierre? Check. Questioning the Nomar-over-Loney decision? Why, we even have a "Free James Loney" campaign. Wondering why we're giving away games by starting Lurch and Tomko instead of kids like Kuo and Billingley? Yep. Wanting to give props to DePo? Absolutely. Sons of Steve Garvey: your source for insightful Dodgers analysis (and I didn't even mention Abes vs. Babes).


Rob said...

However, those threads were also obvious, from memory, at the time the Baseball Prospectus 2007 edition went out the door.

Rob said...

And, you might want to provide a link to the story.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else a bit uneasy with that picture of christine on the la times page? Do I want my sportswriters posing for glamor shots like that? It just bugs me.

cigarcow said...

Wrong Christine.

OCNudist said...

I think this column echoes the sentiments of thoughtful Dodger fans. The squad's meager successes are despite Colleti and not because of him. The guy has been Maloned on practically every deal he's made, and he's constantly lauded for "not giving up the farm."

Guzman, Jackson, Navarro and Aybar may have yet to pan out - they may never. But they had more value as prospects than Hamulack, Hendrickson and the garbage we got in return.

Rob said...

The guy has been Maloned on practically every deal he's made, and he's constantly lauded for "not giving up the farm."

Even this is not really a fair assessment, if only because Kevin Malone had nothing to work with, thanks to some appallingly bad decisionmaking by Tommy Lasorda, Fred Claire, and others in the Dodgers' front office earlier in the decade. Imagine Paul Konerko still in Dodger blue now. (Okay, given his record to date, maybe not.) Pedro Martinez pitching the Dodgers to glory in, say, 1995.

Guzman, Jackson, Navarro and Aybar may have yet to pan out - they may never. But they had more value as prospects than Hamulack, Hendrickson and the garbage we got in return.

This, to me, is the real crux of the matter. So far it's been a wash at best, with Jackson still flailing, and probably doing worse at AAA Tampa Bay because he's expected to hold his own against actual major leaguers in the AL. There were a lot of people skeptical about Navarro (something I'm just now reading about), in part because he was one of those overhyped Yankee "can't-miss" types that so often did. (It really annoys me that there are people right now declaring Phil Hughes a presumptive future Cy Young winner.) So far, the kids traded away haven't been all that valuable. The fulcrum of that "so far" remains an open question.