FIRE JOE MORGAN: Define "slump."


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Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Define "slump."

Because I'm not sure you're using the term correctly, Kevin Kennedy.

As a baseball fan for many years I've noticed the stolen base no longer seems like a real priority. What happened? In this age of great athletes why haven't these guys been stealing more? Where are the great base stealers like Ron Leflore, Tim Raines, Willie McGee and, of course, Rickey Henderson? — Robert Hannon

Speed and motion are offensive weapons that never go into a slump.

>> Scott Podsednik has been caught six of his last eight steal attempts. Isn't that a slump? Consider that prior to that, he had been successful 50 out of his last 59 attempts. If this were a hitter, it'd be equivalent to a guy hitting .330 for 400 at bats and then going for a Todd Helton-in-May-like 4 for 50.

It's fine to argue for the proper use of stolen bases, but why make such clearly erroneous, outlandish claims about them?


Part II:

I think there is one area that is critical to all teams that is being missed these days: the value of catchers. Catchers control much of the game but I don't think there are that many who do it now. What catchers stand out as examples of game controllers and is this becoming a lost art because too many pitching coaches and managers control the game? — John Fellner

When the Dodgers traded Paul Lo Duca in 2004, I said they were trading the heart and soul of the club, and not only because of his bat. It was his defense and leadership from behind the plate that would be missed the most.

>> People love criticizing that Lo Duca trade. Kennedy doesn't offer any evidence showing exactly how much losing Lo Duca's heart, soul, bat, defense, and leadership affected the Dodgers. I think he probably wanted to avoid doing any research. So did I, but then I did some anyway.


60-43 (.583), first place in NL West, 2 1/2 games ahead of San Diego


33-26 (.559), first place in NL West, 2 games ahead of San Francisco

So after losing their heartiest, souliest player, the Dodgers sacrificed .024 of their winning percentage. (They also acquired Steve Finley and Brent Mayne for minor leaguers around the same time they lost Lo Duca, so maybe those two guys filled the heart/soul quotient.) They also managed to win their division and steal a game from the Cardinals in the NLDS.

As a post-script, in the small sample size of 213 PA for Florida last season after the trade, Lo Duca posted an OPS+ of 82. Which is fine for a catcher I guess, but not great compared to the 109 he recorded before the trade. This year he's bounced back and been pretty productive (again, for a catcher), with an OPS of .761 and presumably outstanding leadership.

The centerpiece of the trade for the Dodgers, meanwhile, Brad Penny, has been the team's best starter this year (although he's missed a few starts with injuries), with a 3.62 ERA and a WHIP of 1.26. Hee-Seop Choi and Guillermo Mota have both been pretty disappointing and Juan Encarnacion for some reason became amazingly good (.868 OPS and 15 HR?!).

I've forgotten what the point of all this was. Oh, right. How bad could a trade really be when the team that made it goes on to surpass expectations and win its division? Also, you're still going to harp on a year-old trade that didn't have a clear negative impact?

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posted by Junior  # 6:52 PM
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