White Sox 6, Dodgers 1

Well, at least it was quick. Two hours, five minutes, to be exact, in a game that perfectly illustrated everything that this Dodgers offense is struggling with right now. Good postgame quote from Jeff Kent about the team’s lack of patience:

“In reality, it’s a catch between patience and being aggressive. There is that fine line. There is a time to be patient and a time to be aggressive when you’re an offensive player. There is a time to be patient when you’re coaching, too. There are decisions to be made about your action plan. There is a time to be aggressive and take some action, because you can’t wait too long.
“As long as I have been playing, there has been that fine line. Coaches can say be patient, but in the same breath, they’re saying this (opposing pitcher) throws strikes early. How can you be patient when a guy throws strikes early? That’s the catch, and it’s hard.”

Kent was trying to be as diplomatic as he possibly could. Let me say what he couldn’t, or wouldn’t:

Your humble correspondent and blog host (that would be me) is a firm believer in the Joe Torre approach to hitting, the idea that you make an opposing pitcher work as much as possible, throw as many pitches as possible and that you go to the plate with an idea of exactly what you want to do. The proof is in the pudding — and in the four World Series and six A.L. pennants Torre’s Yankees teams won by taking that approach. But you have to remember, those were VETERAN teams. This is a young team. And it’s just possible that they aren’t ready to take on this cerebral approach to the game just yet. Not that they won’t ever be. But let’s put it this way: this approach has been preached to them since Day One of spring training, and it obviously still hasn’t caught on with any consistency — and because these guys are so young, it might not catch on anytime soon ,either (read: anytime in 2008). These guys are still at a stage of their careers where they would prefer to keep things as simple as possible, and Torre’s way is definitely not simple.

Dodgers fall to 35-41 and remain four behind the Snakes, who lost at Boston.

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  • Marcel

    Ethan Martin…where art thou?

  • JLS23

    And I would tell Mr. Kent that he’s drawn a whopping 10 walks all year and posts an OBP below .300. So maybe he needs to be more patient too. God knows why he’s still batting third, that is when he can actually make it onto the field. I would like to know what’s going on with the Ethan Martin negotiations as well. Thanks Tony.

  • Lochi

    Maybe someone should also mention that scrappy Juan Pierre has had 199 plate appearances in the lead off spot over 45 games and has posted a .298 OBP (per baseball-reference).

  • scanman33

    Quit being lazy and continuously playing the blatantly false “young players” angle.

    Rafael Furcal: 1.045
    Russell Martin .856
    James Loney: .836
    Matt Kemp: .780
    Andre Ethier: .764
    Blake Dewitt: .726
    Jeff Kent: .706
    Juan Pierre: .655
    Andruw Jones: .583

    And you sit there and say the young players want to keep it simple? That’s exactly what you’re doing regurgitating this young players angle.

    If the young players were performing as the “veterans” were, where would this team be? 15 games below .500? 20 games below .500?

    The veterans are hurting this team, as they are falling far shorter of what they need to do than the younger players. The younger players have their share of the blame, but it isn’t close to what the veterans should take. This also includes the pitching staff, where Brad Penny and Derek Lowe haven’t done what they’re supposed to. Chad Billingsley’s performance is similar to Lowe’s, but he isn’t supposed to be the ace of this staff. Right now, though, he is.

    Having to hit Luis Maza and Angel Berroa/Chin-Lin Hu in the lineup compounds the problems of Pierre, Jones and Kent. With the pitcher hitting, they have five guys in the lineup some nights with OPS’s below .675 and it’s compounded when Mark Sweeney (for reasons unknown) or the backup catcher is randomly thrown into the lineup . No amount of “sound, fundamental” baseball is going to make up for that.

    This isnt to say the younger players are blameless when it comes to the teams offensive woes. They havent made the gains that they needed to at this point. However, they are the ones spotlighted by the local media. You wont hear Kent called out for his poor performance. Pierre will shake the spotlight of blame. Most of all, GM Ned Colletti will not be called out for the horrible decisions he has made.

    Talent is talent and theres no doubt that the young players the Dodgers have are talented. Age and experience are no more a guarantee of success than youth and inexperience is a guarantee of failure. If experience was all it took to be successful, why is Eric Karros (another media talking head recycling the young player angle because they’re too lazy to do the research) sitting in a television booth instead of someones lineup?

  • scanman33

    It looks like most of the young players “get Torre’s approach” to hitting:

    Pitches per plate appearance, 2008
    4.13 Ethier
    4.06 Martin
    3.90 Loney
    3.86 DeWitt
    3.79 Pierre
    3.68 Kemp
    3.37 Kent

    Really, this stuff is available to anyone who wants to put in the work to find it. Or you can just recycle the “Young players don’t get it” angle. One option takes effort and one doesn’t.

  • Tony Jackson

    Ethan Martin is somewhat on hold at the moment. Logan White is in the Dominican, although it could get done while he is gone. The Dodgers are pretty hard-core when it comes the slot money, and slot money in this case is $1.73 million. They aren’t going to go above it, and I think once the player and his agent advisor realize that, the deal will get done. The kid isn’t going to turn down that kind of money.

  • KevinS

    And Tony… I haven’t had a chance to respond to all this ’till today… but please correct me if I’m wrong… but I’m probably not… : )

    …but doesn’t Blake DeWitt have a .297 batting average against left handed pitchers??? And if this being the case, what the heck it Torre doing resting him against a left-hander like Buehrle who throws strikes??? Me no get it again… I know that Andy LaRoche needs his licks but not to the detriment of our regular third baseman, or has Torre already determined that DeWitt was just a flash-in-the-pan? It’s maddening to hear Joe say one thing one day, and then do another thing on another day…

    …if it weren’t so “grotesque” it might be confused for “Gradyesque” in nature. (To quote a friend of mine! Thanks Dick!)

  • Craig Phillips

    I have no problem with LaRoche starting last night, and also DeWitt has been slumping badly all month. To me that decision made sense, although it would also be nice to see them both start together (one at 2nd) one of these days. Or, heck (gasp!) Delwyn Young, who, as per Vin Scully, “can flat out hit” starting over Juan Pierre. DY’s OPS is so much better.

    Also, I think the patient hitting approach preached by Torre is *generally* the right one, but they need to let go of it when it comes to Kemp. He is much more successful when allowed to be first ball swinging.

  • JLS23

    Good to know (as usual) the Dodgers are trying to cut corners when it comes to actual talent, while paying out the nose to keep the likes of Mark Sweeney and Juan Pierre aboard. Good stuff. If they don’t get Martin signed based on a few thousand dollars, I won’t be surprised given the Kyle Blair fiasco last year. Please just give the kid the money.

  • Craig Phillips

    required reading today, Dodger Fans: Both Jon Weisman’s post on Dodger Thoughts on the state of the Dodgers so far and why we are where we are:

    plus a few of the subsequent, thoughtful comments (Especially Eric Enders’ #144). All should be required reading for anyone associated with the Dodgers. It’s fair-minded, not unduly harsh, only where it needs to be, I think.