Monday, August 31, 2009

Boosting The Bison

Jon Weisman over at Dodger Thoughts did a great job at highlighting Bill Plaschke's recent valentine to Matt Kemp, which reflects a change of heart from his earlier rips on Kemp. Writes Jon:

Well, Plaschke's new column for Monday's editions of The Times shows he has come to appreciate Kemp's value – as have presumably Kemp's earlier detractors – although not without a few parting shots. "His infamous baserunning blunders? He deals with them." [...]

Not every prospect pans out. Some seem to pan out and then disappoint you later. On the other hand, not every prospect is Joel Guzman or Chuck Tiffany. The Kemp example reminds us how careful you need to be before you give up on prospects – how carefully you need to evaluate them – as well as the danger of buying into a convenient story line at the expense of a meaningful one.

One of the great things about Weisman's DT work is that there's a body of work long enough to track longitudinal changes, both in a player's development and skill advancement, as well as a columnist's opinions. I imagine that exposing Plaschke's turnabout (as well as suffering through his template-driven writing style), must be a delicate operation for a LATimes-associated (and funded) blog; meanwhile, other Dodger blogs (namely MSTI and ourselves, for starters) can point out the logical flaws and irrational "reasoning" with scrutiny and vitriol. Weisman does a nice job at putting down a smackdown in a polite, courteous fashion.

But back to the subject: Kemp is indeed worthy of a valentine from his local paper's columnist, and I'm glad he got it. I was also pleased to see the Kemp montage inserted into Fox's Saturday broadcast of the Dodgers/Reds game, giving him some national (regional?) publicity. Kemp leads the team in batting average and OBP, is second in HR and RBI, and third in OPS.

Sure, he still makes baserunning gaffes, like getting picked off second base Saturday to squelch a sixth-inning rally (in a game the Dodgers went on to romp anyway, partially fueled by a Kemp three-run HR in the seventh). Without Kemp and Andre Ethier pacing the team through all of its ups and downs, there is no way we'd be leading the league, let alone the division (a point to which Peter Gammons refers in his most recent column, in the course of pointing out that Manny Ramirez's post-suspension play has been akin to the period where Gammons thinks he "quit" prior to leaving the Red Sox).

Let's take a second to praise the Bison, and at least celebrate the fact that this Bison isn't an endangered species any longer for the Dodgers.

7 comments:

Brandon said...

Not related, but Brad Penny is signing with the Giants.

Paul said...

Nice Sax!

The last couple of years have been the most enjoyable seasons for me as a Dodger fan.

I was too young to appreciate (or really remember) the culmination of the great 70's teams with the 1981 championship and of course 1988 might go down as my favorite single season ever bookend by two very painful ones.

However I have really enjoyed seeing all these young kids progress from prospects to favorites, to local superstars and hopefully now on the national stage.

The young group seem to have a bond with each other, a true team in other words and watching them have success is much more special than bringing in a superstar free agent (although I will take that anyday). It will be really great if they can win it all with this core. Oh and Martin and Loney step it up!

Brad Penny...you fat SOB I hope you pitch against the Dodgers. The biggest belly is in San Francisco now.

Ken said...

How long is it going to take for Manny to wake back up? Also, how about Martin and Loney?

Dusty Baker said...

Nicely said, Paul. You should join Nic and me in heckling that fat lazy bastard Bad Penny in person when he pitches in LA (hoping he does). We have to razz him unmercifully.

Dusty Baker said...

Mad props to Bison.

Peter Gammons can't go one sentence without bagging on Manny. It's like he and Plaschke lie around in bed together all morning, spooning and talking about how they are going to slam Manny that day through their respective media outlets.

Steve Sax said...

I like Gammons, but I have to admit his Manny-lynching campaign is a little tired. So in that spirit...

@DB, is Gammons the spooner, or the spoonee?

I Alivandi said...

You know what was funny about when Manny "quit" on the Red Sox? He was absolutely raking. By far their best hitter.

I hope Penny pitches against the Dodgers too. His hanging curves and straight heat will help Bison hit 30/30.