Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Choices, Part One

By Joe Quadres

When first approached to write a blog for this site, I was instructed to wear the black hate of a lifelong Dodger fan slinging arrows at the Padre faithful. I found that hat enticing and immediately began to think of barbs to throw at you. Here is a sampling of some of the good ones.

1. Even naming your team after a religious leader hasn’t helped you win.

2. I have three World Series “rings” in my lifetime—you have none.

3. Los Angeles is like San Diego but with a point.

4. You know your franchise is pathetic when you can’t even get a team to be your rival. The closest thing the Padres have to a rival is the Mariners, who are in a different league and over 1000 miles away.

5. You have the least relevant team in a state which also has the Angels. That’s pathetic. Congrats.

6. Ken Caminiti was once your franchise’s proudest player. Congrats.

7. Jake Peavy has more acne than my back in 1994. No slider can make up for that. He is possibly the ugliest millionaire I’ve ever seen, including that Apple guy who’s dating Kathy Griffin.

8. Your stadium is named after a chew toy.

9. Your GM’s biggest free agent signing in the last 5 years is Ryan Klesko. Congrats.

10. Real teams don’t have throwback uniforms. You’ve changed uniforms more often than Lindsey Lohan has forgotten to change her panties.

These are the highlights of shittalking which I intended to throw your way. However, the more I thought about being the “Dodger Fan,” the more I had to consider the reason I couldn’t be. The reason why is simple: I am no longer a Dodger fan and haven’t been for years.

My relationship with the Dodgers ended like so many others do. It happened gradually and, at the same time, instantly. I can, however, pinpoint the exact day that I gave up the Blue for dead.

I stayed with the Dodgers through a whole lot of bullshit that I didn’t like. When Peter O’Malley sold the team to Fox, I stayed. When the Dodgers traded Mike Piazza—my favorite player—I stayed. I remained faithful through the Kevin Malone era—and era which brought us Carlos Perez among others. I stayed when Fox sold the team to a Boston parking lot attendant with no money. I stayed even though it meant rooting for Jeff Kent. But my back was finally broken on October 30th, 2005 when the Dodgers fired Paul DePodesta.

Most of my faith in the Dodgers was already gone. But the hiring of DePodesta was the life raft I needed to keep me on board. Here, for the first time in a decade, was a hope for long-term success. Imagining what Billy Beane had done in Oakland with no payroll sent me soaring. Seeing what Theo Epstein was doing with more had me dreaming. I believe and will until my dying day that if Paul DePodesta had been given five years, the Dodgers would have joined the Yankees, Red Sox, and Cardinals as the flagship franchises in Major League Baseball: the teams that had a chance to win it all EVERY SINGLE FUCKING YEAR.

DePodesta took the helm in mid-February 2004. It was too late to overhaul this albatross—teams aren’t dealing in spring training. Little by little, De Podesta put his stamp on the ’04 team, always looking not to the present but to the long-term future. In his 19 months, DePodesta added and subtracted a number of players. Not ONE of his personnel decisions was a bad one. NOT ONE!!!! Don’t believe me? Here are the guys DePodesta got:

Milton Bradley: not exactly a cornerstone, but acquired for an outfielder who is only now playing his first big league season in Cleveland. Bradley was the second best Dodger position player for two years, had a manageable contract, and was jettisoned as soon as better options came up. Good move.

Jose Lima: Here’s a timeline: 1. Lima brought to spring training along with a dozen other retreads. 2. Lima pitches well enough to make the team at the league minimum salary. 3. Lima has a good year--again, at the league minimum. 4. Lima wants more money, so DePodesta releases him, knowing that he can invite a dozen more retreads to Spring Training in ’05 and replace Lima at the league minimum. 5. Lima proves DePodesta right by sucking balls the rest of his short career. Good move.

Brad Penny: Pitched in two All-Star games, including one start.

Hee Seop Choi: Sure a bust, but who cares at the league minimum salary?

Jeff Kent: Yes, I hate him, but signing a former MVP and Hall of Famer to a two year contract? Good move.

JD Drew: The only questionable guy on the list, mostly because of the length and size of his contract. But Drew is a solid player when healthy, and the Red Sox—by far the best run organization in the bigs--are happy to have him. Decent move.

Derek Lowe: A highly criticized move, but a GREAT one, that’s right, I said it, GREAT. Lowe was signed to a four year, $36 million deal. For that, from 2004 to 2007, Lowe missed ONE start. Just one. He has had an ERA under 4.00 each of those years. Baseballprospectus.com values his performance over those three years as being worth $44.8 million. GREAT move.

Here are the major players DePodesta parted with. Not ONE of them has been a cost/benefit success. Not ONE. Don’t believe me? Here they are:

Adrian Beltre: Sure he’s a good player, but at $13 million a year? No thanks.

Paul LoDuca: peaked in 2003. Now he makes a ton of money, was named in the Mitchell report, and plays for the Nationals. No thanks.

Guillermo Mota: See Jose Lima.

In 2004, DePodesta’s nominal first year, a horrible thing happened. The Dodgers got lucky and won the West. This was the worst thing that could have happened. First of all, the ’04 Dodgers had no chance to get to the Series. They were lucky just to be there. More importantly, DePodesta was in the middle of blowing up this team. If the ’04 team had sucked, DePodesta would have gotten his time. But the ’04 win made the last place ’05 team look even worse than they were. Of course, the ’05 team was ravaged by injuries, having to dip into the Mexican league twice just to field a roster. But none of that mattered. Bill Plaschke and the rest of the sub-moronic newspapermen (Plaschke is still a Tommy Lasorda fan—I think there’s enough said there) were too stupid to understand what DePodesta was doing and threw him to the wolves. Owner Frank McCourt is legendarily stupid and fired him after 19 months on the job, the first six of which should not even count because of his late hiring. He went out and hired a guy named Ned from the Giants, a protégé of Brian Sabean, who will soon rival names like Malone, Jim Bowden, and Andy MacPhail in the annals of the worst GMs of all time. Seriously, could we hire Isaiah Thomas? In the interest of fairness, here are Ned’s moves in his two years:

Grady Little: Need I say more?

Rafael Furcal: an ok signing, but was shortstop really our biggest need, with Izturis perfectly capable of keeping the seat warm for Lu?

Nomar: It’s not 1998. Enough said. Then resigned to block Adam Laroche.

Brett Tomko: oooooh, shiny. Jesus.

Kenny Lofton: It’s not 1995.

Danys Baez and Lance Carter for Edwin Jackson: Jackson is contributing to a second place team, Baez and Carter are contributing to unemployment statistics. AND they cost ten times as much money as Jackson is making.

Mark Hendrickson and Toby Hall for Dioner Navarro and Jae Seo: Is going to the Rays for big league help really our best option?

Greg Maddux: nice rental, didn’t help.

Juan Pierre to a HUGE five year contract: there’s nothing better than a below average centerfielder with no arm, no bat, and a crooked hat. I am SHOCKED that Kenny Lofton didn’t fill our needs. Besides, we really need a leadoff man whose OBP is .310…oh wait, we already have one in Furcal. But luckily, we have Pierre to block Kemp, Ethier, et al at 50 times the price. Just brilliant.

Jason Schmidt to a big 3 year contract: It’s not 2001.

Luis Gonzalez: It’s not 2003.

Joe Torre: okay, a fine move, but isn’t this sort of a no-brainer? Should a GM really get credit for this? When the alternative is Grady Little? Really???

Andruw Jones: To be fair, this was a good signing. No it hasn’t worked out and probably won’t, but at two years was worth the risk.

All of the best Dodger players make less than $1 million dollars and were called up because of injury. So basically, found by accident. And every one of them is currently blocked by an albatross veteran whose best days are a minimum of three years behind him. You cannot build a franchise by pretending you’re playing MLB 2004 on PS2. Instead of joining the Red Sox, Indians, Brewers and Diamondbacks—teams that thought long term and succeed primarily with either homegrown talent or stars acquired with homegrown talent-- the Dodgers have joined the Orioles, Giants, and Mariners as teams that are sinking beneath the weight of their terrible contracts.

Enough prelude. The point is I’m not a Dodger fan any more. But am I doing the right thing? Am I Benedict Arnold? Is it my right as a fan to be a Free Agent?

STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO.

2 comments:

Joe C said...

welcome to the fold, Q. Good to have you.

Red said...

Why do men insist on judging the looks of male athletes when they are so wrong all the time? Jake Peavy is hot. LA sucks.