Tuesday, April 5th, 2005
4:11 pm - Opening Day...  
Opening Day, plus the onset of daylight savings makes DX a happy camper. Or at least a content camper.

The Dodgers open today in San Francisco, and I'm not especially enthused about this team. They fell apart late three straight games in a row in the Freeway Series this weekend. Yeah, the games didn't count, but they gift wrapped those games for the Angels.

It's a strange situation. DePo has basically taken this team down to bedrock in the fourteen months he's been in charge. The only guy left in the starting lineup not acquired by Doogie is Cezar Izturis. DePo seems to think he made the right moves last year to get the team to the playoffs, but I'm not all that sure that the team didn't make it in spite of the moves. They were a far more dangerous team prior to the Lo Duca trade than they were after it. If the Giants don't completely fall apart in the ninth inning of that clinching game last year, I don't think the Dodgers would've beaten them the next two games.

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The best thing that happened to the Dodgers all spring was when the Mets' Steve Trachsel got hurt. The trade of Kaz Ishii for Jason Phillips did two positive things for LA. First, the erratic Ishii and his huge salary left town. Second, Phillips is a far better hitter than either of the incumbents, Dave Ross and Paul Bako. That's not really saying much, because neither of those guys can hit a lick. Ross was subsequently shipped to Pittsburgh, where I wish him well. Phillips is not a great hitter by any means, but he should hit enough. The real hope is that Dioner Navarro tears up AAA pitching at Las vegas, and is brought up to the big club in July.

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Hee Seop Choi is the everyday first baseman. Yikes! Yes, he's got good power, and walks a lot, but he has yet to do it for an extended period of time. He did seem to get better as spring wore on, so we'll see. He's seems a decent fielder. I'd hate to have to kill him.

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DePo's plan for third was a platoon of middle infielders, Jose Valentin and Antonio Perez. Valentin is a switch hitter who can only hit right-handed pitching. He's so bad against lefties that he even stopped switching for awhile, figuring he couldn't possibly hit worse against them. Turns out he was wrong. Perez can hit some, but he's having all sorts of problems adapting to the position. Jim Tracy has even said Perez isn't ready to play there yet. Oops. He's out of options, so he can't go down to AAA to learn the position. For the time being, he'll back up Jeff Kent and Izturis, and when the Dodgers go back to eleven pitchers, Nori Nakamura, who's both a decent hitter and was a gold glover at third in Japan, will get called up.

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Milton Bradley has become one of the team leaders (along with Jeff Kent). Double Yikes! To be fair, his temper tantrums have never been directed at his teammates, but still. I guess the anger management classes have been working out for him.

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Jason Repko, this year's spring phenom, makes the team as a replacement for the injured Jayson Werth. Go him. He seems to be able to both hit and field well. I hope he makes the most of it, although even if he hits .400, he'll likely get sent down when Werth comes back.

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With Brad Penny (and Wilson Alvarez) on the DL, Derek Lowe is now the ace of the staff. Triple Yikes! DePo is making some awfully big assumptions, both about Lowe's performance last year being anomalous, and about how effective he should be in Dodger Stadium

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Scott Erickson, the longest of long shots, had a great spring, and made the team as the fifth starter. He is another sinker-baller, and so could do well at Dodger Stadium. The caveat is that it's been a very long time since he had a good year.

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Who among the Dodgers' staff thought it was a good idea for Eric Gagne to try to change his motion to accommodate his injured knee this spring? Have they never heard of Dizzy Dean? I'd say they ought to be fired, but that would just give the owner a chance to replace them with a couple more of his family members. So Gagne starts the year on the DL. Except for Giovanni Carrara, the rest of the bullpen is very, very young. They don't look all that invincible anymore.

The opener starts in four minutes. This could be the start of a bumpy ride.

Edited to add: Woo! Cezar Izturis leads off the game with a home run, the first Dodger homer EVER off Giants ace Jason Schmidt.
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Hecubothecubot on April 5th, 2005 - 04:30 pm
...and yet, Schmidt gets the win.

I think this Giants team is actually pretty good without Bonds. Better than the A's are, though the A's obviously will have a huge wad of talent for the next three-four years, and the Giants are shooting the moon on this season.

I hate hate hate to see a light-hitting infielder at third. You've got to get some power on the corners.
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DXMachinadxmachina on April 5th, 2005 - 05:33 pm
Yup, that's four games in a row the Dodgers have gift-wrapped the game for their opponent.

I still have no idea what DePo was thinking when he signed Valentin. He doesn't seem to fit the profile. He did hit 30 homers last year, but that's his all time high. He strikes out a lot and doesn't walk much. I've seen some of the sabermetricians suggest that Kent + Valentin were equivalent in production to Beltre + Cora, but that leaves out the part where they're both a lot older than the guys they replaced.
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