Thursday, June 14, 2007

Northwest Coast Bias?

From "Finally, some analysis not made in Manhattan" by Larry Dobrow at

For sportswriter-type people in the Northeast, it's been a big week for baseball navel-gazing. The only three franchises worthy of our attention -- the Yankees, Mets and Red Sox -- have, respectively, risen, sunk, and eked out a few close wins....

Still, union rules dictate that we allot 2.5 percent of our weekly word allowance to teams that are not the Yankees, Mets and Red Sox, as pointless and wasteful as that may seem. It reeks of tokenism, the kind that our civil-rights-movement forbears went to the mat to eliminate. I hate it, but a rule is a rule. So here's my four-part contribution to the discourse, based on reading a few articles or something....

The Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Padres are a collective 27 games over .500, despite having, like, four regulars who can hit: Here in the Northeast, which has better schools and more affordable dairy products than wherever it is you live, we like our batting orders like we like our The View hostesses: big, bawdy and prone to cruel outbursts. So when we look at the current NL West pacesetters, we blink our eyes in uncomprehending disbelief.

On Tuesday night, the D-backs trotted out a batting order featuring five players with on-base percentages hovering at or below .300. Sensing a trend, the Padres started a single player with an OPS exceeding .800. The Dodgers, stat-worshippers that they are, continued to perch Juan Pierre and his .308 OBP in the two-hole, a decision that can only be viewed as a practical joke.

To be sure, these teams can pitch, even if the Dodgers have depth issues and the Padres' magical bullpen elixir loses some potency away from home. The numbers still suggest that for any of the three to make a legitimate run, they need a middle-of-the-order bat: specifically, they need Adam Dunn. Uh, and his bat.

Yeah, yeah -- he's the official Cincinnati whipping boy right now owing to his strikeouts and statuesque defense, and his contract is a problem (he can opt out after this season, which means the Reds can only expect a few C-level prospects in return). But you plant him between Orlando Hudson and Conor Jackson, Russ Martin and Jeff Kent, or Mike Cameron and Kevin Kouzmanoff, and the D-Backs, Dodgers and Padres might sustain a rally every so often.