The Dodgers, the Mariners

DMZ · May 13, 2005 at 3:51 pm · Filed Under General baseball 

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:
Cesar Izturis
Jeff Kent
Milton Bradley
J.D. Drew (sorta)
Jason Phillips
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.


25 Responses to “The Dodgers, the Mariners”

  1. giuseppe on May 13th, 2005 4:36 pm

    Yes Derek, it’s been interesting watching my two teams and their fortunes so far this season.

    I was sure the Dodgers were going to be horrible, but actually didn’t blame DePo for everything as some did. Everyone knew there was going to be some major turnover soon, people just didn’t want to see it right after the surprising success of last year.

    I’ve been telling everyone I thought Choi would come around since they got him last season, but I was never sure I really believed he would, so it’s very nice to see him finally start hitting the ball. We’ll see if he can keep it up.

    Same goes for the Dodgers. I’m skeptical that they’ll be able to maintain their lead in the NL West and keep pace with the D’backs (I can’t believe I just typed that) but I was skeptical all of last year as well.

    I’m ready for the Mariners to have a surprisingly good year rather than a surprisingly bad one. Here’s to the Dodgers and Mariners switching roles next year!

  2. maguire on May 13th, 2005 4:44 pm

    Speaking of Olivo, I was looking at the rosters for the World Cup of Baseball. Looking at the Dominican Republics roster their ‘skinny’ on the team was ” Though they’re thin at catcher, the Dominicans match up with Team USA as well as anyone.” Guess who that catcher would be? Mighty Olivo.

    Here is the link to that.

  3. MarinerDan on May 13th, 2005 4:50 pm

    I didn’t expect the M’s to contend this season, but so far they have played worse than my expectations (though admittedly, it is still early). If the M’s bumble through another near 100-loss season, after the substantial investment this offseason in Beltre and Sexson, what do you think the chances are that Bavasi gets canned at the end of the year? Have you guys gotten any kind of a read on what sort of a leash ownership has on the GM?

  4. eponymous coward on May 13th, 2005 5:06 pm

    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.

    I dunno- Sele and Nellie leaving the team for Campillo and Sherrill (or whatever hot hand there is in the ‘pen in Tacoma) couldn’t make things WORSE, really. Lopez for Boone and/or Valdez? Meh. At this point, there are enough replacement-level performances that you could certainly make some moves without really hurting the team.

  5. Aaron on May 13th, 2005 5:23 pm

    Yup, Tacoma is scoring nearly 5 runs a game, with a team OBP of .357.

    I don’t know how that translates into MLE, but I doubt even a wholesale turnover would make things worse than they are now.

  6. wabbles on May 13th, 2005 5:37 pm

    I wish I had said this before the freefall, so I’d sound like a genius instead of sounding like I’m relying upon hindsight, but here goes.
    We all shoulda seen the freefall coming.
    We played .500 baseball because of unexpectedly good performances from Moyer, Franklin, Sele and we still had Madritsch.
    Valdez was hot to start the season and Boone hadn’t started to tank. (Does it seem that he is blinking a lot, like maybe his eye surgery is bothering him? I’ve heard of that happening with Lasik.)Ichiro also was hitting over .400 and has dropped more than 100 points since. I was kinda thinking that when the luck ran out we were due for an extended losing streak. ‘sigh’

  7. PositivePaul on May 13th, 2005 5:43 pm

    As a “My GM beat up YOUR GM” person this offseason towards Dodger fans, I’m still not exactly sure it’s the exact opposite quite yet. It’ll turn out into a much closer bout — the M’s sucktitude will not necessarily be as bad as it was last year, and the Dodgers’ awesomeness will not likely be sustained, either.

  8. Chris Begley on May 13th, 2005 5:49 pm

    I think that what I am most hoping for is that we take our bullpen and see if there are any takers there for Shiggy, Villone or especially Guardado. At $4 Million, that is not too much, and hopefully some team looking for bullpen depth will peel off a prospect for one of them.

    I dunno, it seems sort of early to be punting the season, but the way our team looks right now, it is hard to get that “feeling” that they have it in them to pull out of the hole.

  9. EA on May 13th, 2005 6:15 pm

    Them 2003 Marlins sure looked belly-up right around this time. You gotta believe!

  10. Jeff Sullivan on May 13th, 2005 6:15 pm

    As far as 2005 is concerned – if we figured before the season that the Mariners would need a whole bunch of stuff to go right in order to beat the Angels by one game in the division, what do you think the chances are of this team beating Anaheim by seven games from here on out, with 128 to play? Without our best starter, no less.

    I already feel like this season is a lost cause, as far as contention is concerned.

  11. Jim Thomsen on May 13th, 2005 6:17 pm

    It could be worse … we could be stuck with Bobby Higginson. Or Doug Creek, for that matter:

    Tigers place Higginson on disabled list
    DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Tigers placed outfielder Bobby Higginson on the 15-day disabled list on Friday, retroactive to May 6, with a sore right elbow.
    Higginson is hitting .077 (2-for-26) with a RBI.
    Detroit also purchased the contract of left-handed reliever Doug Creek from Triple-A Toledo.
    Creek was 1-1 with a 2.81 ERA in 12 games with Toledo and he is 7-14 with a 5.19 ERA in 259 major league appearances with St. Louis, San Francisco, the Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay, Seattle and Toronto.

  12. msb on May 13th, 2005 6:17 pm

    #6–fwiw, Boone blinked a lot when he had his contacts. it may just be habit now.

  13. Jim Thomsen on May 13th, 2005 6:22 pm

    I think the Dodgers are extremely unlikely to jeep the pace, unless DePodesta reloads smartly at the trade deadline. Lowe will regress to his mean, Jeff Kent will have one of his obnoxious nagging injuries, Izturis will get back in touch with his inner Endy Chavez and it would be an upset if the fill-in closers held up at their current level.

    Ex-Mariner-farmhand news:

    MISSISSIPPI BRAVES—Released LHP Andy Van Hekken.
    LINCOLN SALTDOGS—Signed RHP Jared Hoerman.

  14. pensive on May 13th, 2005 6:38 pm

    RE # 10

    Boy when it is stated so simply like that it is really depressing. But true.

  15. sonny on May 13th, 2005 7:19 pm

    I was just wondering if there was going to be a game thread today?

  16. JasonAChurchill on May 13th, 2005 7:40 pm

    Re – #7

    Any post that has the words “sucktitude” and “awesomeness” in it gets my vote for greatest post of the day.

  17. JasonAChurchill on May 13th, 2005 7:47 pm

    In other former farmhand news, as I’m sure most have heard already heard, Luis Ugueto was one of 11 more suspended for violating the banned substance policy.

    Lil under the radar — The M’s signed former White Sox farmhand Dan Wright and assigned him to Triple-A Tacoma… then promtply placed him on the DL.

    OF Dustin Delluchi, LHP Melvin Pizarro, RHP Bret Evert were released.

  18. Mike Bannan on May 13th, 2005 7:53 pm

    Yea, the Dodgers are doing awesome despite what you guys said. Am I suprised??? NO! It’s not like Peter Gammons runs this site.

  19. book on May 13th, 2005 8:23 pm

    Look, y’all.

    DePodesta did have a poor offseason, and Bavasi did have a fairly good one.

    And yet… we all knew going into the season that still left the Dodgers as arguably the favorites in the NL west (waiting for the Padres to arrive being a little like waiting for Godot). And we certainly knew the big question with the M’s was whether they could climb back to .500, good for maybe third in the AL West.

    The pitching hasn’t broken our way. We’ll be lucky to win 70 unless that changes.

    The Padres haven’t arrived.

  20. Noel on May 13th, 2005 11:08 pm

    Maybe we can palm Villone off on the Yanks at the deadline. Along with Boonie.

    Of course, the Yanks don’t have a whole lot to offer in return…

  21. TypicalIdiotFan on May 14th, 2005 12:00 am

    Not sure why everybody’s harping on the Dodgers success. They got off to a 15-8 April (12-2 start, 3-5 finish) and have gone 6-6 since. Sounds more like they’re coming back down to earth to me. We’ll see. Actually I’m more interested in the White Sox success then the Dodgers.

  22. Jamie on May 14th, 2005 1:26 am

    As someone who was berated and insulted here for saying the Beltre signing was godawful, I can’t help but feel like rubbing it in a little bit.

    It still doesn’t mean the Dodgers had a good offseason, though, whether they win the NL West or not. They did last year. Spending a ton of money to tread water is a lot less painful if you’re in first place instead of last place. Plus the M’s and Dodgers signed long-term deals, and neither looks very good 4 years from now.

  23. DMZ on May 14th, 2005 3:02 am

    Who, and when, “berated and insulted” you here?

  24. Knuckles on May 14th, 2005 7:34 am

    I’m still of the opinion that anyone who thinks that the Beltre signing is/was godawful just isn’t paying attention. He is the best FA signing the M’s have made in the last 15 years (perhaps ever), and simply because he’s had a rough opening month or two doesn’t change that. That Beltre kid is good.

  25. TypicalIdiotFan on May 14th, 2005 1:12 pm

    I agree. If it weren’t for the rough end of April – Beginning of May that, seemingly, everybody had, then we’d probably be looking at at least a .260 hitter right now from Beltre and a .250 from Sexson. Not great numbers, but they’re showing improvements.

    That two week stretch though just murdered everybody, including Ibanez who was .297 at the end of May (.250s now) and even Ichiro. Winn, I think, is the only person who hasn’t been effected by any schnides yet, and Jeremy Reed is hitting better in May then all of April.

    Baseball does weird things, peaks and valleys, streaks and slumps, are all very commonplace. I think we’ll have a better grasp of things by about the All Star Break.