The Dodgers, the Mariners
If you hung out here during the off-season (and I’m guessing you did) you probably heard Dave and I (at least) say that the Dodgers had the worst off-season of any team.
They’re 20-14, while the Mariners (who I applauded for the Beltre signing) are 13-21 and are ahead of only KC and Tampa in the overall AL standings.
So what the heck?
There are a couple of players on the team that are powering a huge offense:
J.D. Drew (sorta)
and Hee Choi
Choi’s breakout is nice to see. There’s this class of prospects that don’t live up to expectations until they’re almost forgotten and discarded, and then, suddenly, they catch fire and everyone wants to get back on the (now-flaming) bandwagon. Nick Johnson’s like that, in a different way, and there are tons of examples. (These guys are death to keeper fantasy teams. It’s hard for owners to give up on them for fear they’ll finally hit, and at the same time you have to endure all the bumps — I had Eric Gagne on my team for the bad years, for instance, and drafted and discarded Bronson Arrojo… I’m getting depressed.)
Together, it’s one of the best offensive units in baseball, behind.. the Nationals? What?
Yet they’ve allowed 164 runs, which isn’t Tampa-esque (224!) but playing their home games in Dodger Stadium, that’s pretty bad (M’s? 160)
Derek Lowe, who I thought was an insane signing for the money, has a 2.94 ERA (though he’s 2-4) , while the rest of the rotation’s been bad-to-okay. They’re backed by an effective bullpen.
Even looking at their expected won-loss record, they’re not that far out off what you’d normally expect.
Meanwhile, the Mariners picked up Beltre for what I thought was a song, given this marketplace, and there’s only really one person I know who likes to rub it in.
I can’t bring myself around, though. Lowe may enjoy success this year, but I still think that deal was crazy-expensive. And if Drew’s not in the lineup and hitting for power, that’s not helping very much.
And yet I have to tip my cap. DePodesta took an immense amount of crap this off-season, from people with axes to grind and people like me, and his team’s 20-14 and the axe gang is nowhere to be found (well, that’s not really true). Right now his decision to pass on Beltre looks great, even if I disagree with how he ended up spending the money.
In the meantime, the Mariners took a kidney punch when Madritsch’s shoulder went out and they’ve been down on the mat ever since, rolling around and moaning in pain. Olivo has been amazingly bad. Last PA that didn’t result in an out: May 6, when he walked. Last AB: April 27th, a hit in Texas.
Bavasi’s got some tough decisions to make about what to do with playing time if this season’s lost, and if they punt for 2006, the team might get worse. Meanwhile, the Dodgers have the money to reinforce and prospects coveted by other organizations if they decide to trade for some rent-a-players (Baseball America’s 2005 Top 100 had 7 Dodgers, the most of any team… the Mariners had 4, which isn’t bad at all).
By the All-Star break we’ll be able to speak much more clearly about what’s going on with the teams and their success or failure, but right now it looks like things are going DePodesta’s way, and Bavasi’s staring at a second bad season — and the first he can totally be blamed for — when it looked like they’d make a run at respectability this year.