Friday, June 13, 2003

Dodger Blues

Not getting to see the Los Angeles Dodgers play much, but it seems like Jim Tracy is a reasonably good manager. Baseball Prospectus usually has nice things to say about him, and he does have that Dodger team in contention, even with that incredibly bad offense. So what I can't figure out is how, HOW, can a team that has so much trouble scoring runs have Cesar Izturis hitting leadoff?!

And man, the Dodger offense is bad. Last in the National League in OBP by 16 points (the largest gap between any two teams) and last in runs, you would think that Tracy would like to find any advantage in the way he constructs a lineup to squeeze out another run a game. Yet here is Izturis, one of the very worst offensive players in the major leagues, guaranteed to get more at bats than any other Dodger. Cesar Izturis can not hit. He could never hit righties. Last year he could hit lefthanders, but they seem to have figured him out. At this point, to quote Kevin Costner in Bull Durham, he couldn't hit water if he fell out of a f----boat.

Here is the lineup that Tracy submitted last night, against lefthander Brian (Mr.) Anderson. I'm including whether or not each player is lefthanded or righthanded, and their OBP and slugging against lefthanders and for the year.

Player (L,R,orS) OBP vs. Lefties OBP for the year SLG vs. Lefties SLG. for the year

Cesar Izturis (S) .286 .289 .290 .327
Paul Lo Duca (R) .424 .386 .547 .462
Shawn Green (L) .315 .319 .482 .428
Brian Jordan (R) .385 .364 .500 .401
Fred McGriff (L) .194 .315 .343 .427
Ron Coomer (R) .333 .279 .471 .255
Jolbert Cabrera (L) .326 .344 .585 .523
Adrian Beltre (R) .370 .271 .390 .335
Alex Cora (L) .444 .293 .611 .333

Take a good look at the OBP vs. lefties, because that's the situation they're going to face for roughly the first six innings of the game. If you wanted a defensive-minded speedy middle infielder for your leadoff spot (which for some inexplicable reason many managers do) why not try Cora? You have the one man in the lineup who can't get on base, and the pitcher, in front of the one guy who crushes lefties (Lo Duca). Then there's McGriff.

The Crime Dog is having a terrible time against lefties, with just a .194 OBP against lefties, and Tracy has him fifth. Meanwhile, the Dodgers have Mike Kincade on the bench, who has a fantastic .542 OBP and .684 SLG vs. lefties. And we know Kincade is healthy, because he actually came into the game for McGriff later, when McGriff left with tightness in his right groin (I'm totally serious about that, but is that an injury? How do you tell your boss about that? "Aah, gee coach. My groin is tight. Can I leave the game?).

Let's say that for ego and contract purposes, Green needs to stay in the middle of the order. We also want to try to take better advantage of Cabrera's Slugging Percentage, and move him up. How about this(OBP included):

Cora - .444
Cabrera - .326
Lo Duca - .424
Jordan - .385
Green - .315
Kincade - .542
Coomer - .333
Beltre - .370
Izturis - .286

You're looking here at an average increase of 83.17 OBP for the first six spots in the order! And you have speed at the top, which many like, but I don't feel is that necessary. Certainly the lineup is overly righthanded, but if the Dodgers can get four runs off of Anderson before the bullpen comes in, it won't matter. The Dodgers will win the World Series if they score four runs in the first six innings every game.

In other news, Dmitri Young is the winner of the PDMOH, and here are my picks for the weekend pool:

St Louis for 200
Toronto for 500
Montreal for 100
Atlanta for 200

Happy Father's Day everybody. As a first year Dad, I'm taking tomorrow off.


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