Monday, September 10, 2012
Day Off Tidbits and a "MUST READ" link
Linked below is the most compelling argument I've read that supports batting A.J. Ellis second in the lineup. Once again is was written by Mike Petriello at Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness.
There is no other logical spot in the batting order for the Dodger catcher, (well perhaps leadoff, but that's another story altogether). His .388 on base percentage and uncanny ability to work deep counts are being wasted in the 8th spot and have been all season long. Those that argue he'll have a decreased OBP due to the times he is intentionally walked in front of the pitcher in the 8th spot don't have a leg to stand on. Even if you decrease his on base percentage by 20 points, he is by far the best on the team (besides Kemp) at reaching base.
As the season slowly dissolves before out eyes it is easy to look back and see so many things that could have been done differently to save this team. This is one of the areas that could have made a big difference. Mattingly following baseball traditionalist philosophies has been the undoing of this ball club on so many occasions. I love the fact the our manager is a players guy and he communicates so well with his men, but that only takes things so far. It takes you to a .510 winning percentage.
There are those that scream about the injuries and certainly they have played a role, but with this group of players, this team should have been better. Plate approaches by some of the superstars have been lacking. Fundamental mental errors have happened and not been corrected. Deplorable hitting results with men in scoring position has killed this club.
We all know that Hanley has professed his happiness with being a Dodger and that is great. In the month and a half that he has been with the club, I have seen a few disturbing trends with him that will not sit well if they continue. I can see why he had issues with the Marlins. He was the superstar on the organization and if someone stood up to his shenanigans, he didn't like that. From what I have seen so far as a Dodger, he has hustled for the most part and that has not been an issue, but if some of these trends continue into next season, there may be troubles ahead. They include:
1) Running through base coach stop signs. It has happened more than once and he wasn't thrown out, but he made Wallach look bad and that may not sit well in the future. When he runs through a stop sign and gets thrown out, there may be some fireworks that result.
2) Taking called third strikes against very hittable pitchers (e.g. Barry Zito last night). Hanley's hitting approach was horrible against a poor pitcher whose fastball was sitting in the 83 MPH range. I think we can understand taking a called third strike on a slow hook from Zito, but that fastball is a BP meatball waiting to be pounded.
3) Double clutching and delaying throws to first base after fielding ground balls. At first I thought this was a hitch in his fielding mechanics, but I don't think so anymore. Ramirez knows he has a good arm and he knows just how much time he has to gun out a runner. It almost burned him in yesterday's action. These playful instincts that I believe area intended to showboat have no place with this team right now, especially the way they have been playing of late.
I must admit though, aside from these few anomalies, the addition of Ramirez has been a fine acquisition. I just hope that some of these issues don't blow up and cause Ramirez to sulk. He has been known to have a deteriorating performance when that happens. Keeping Ramirez performing at a top level and happy may be the biggest juggling act that Mattingly will have to do as a manager.
I find it hard to believe, but as bad as these guys have been playing they can still make post season play IF they go on a good run. I doubt they have it in them, but the season is still not over. With a 2-game sweep in AZ and a good weekend against the Cardinals, they'll be knee deep in play off contention.