Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Plaschke No More Questions

Welcome to whack the LA Times Day at INOTBB. Of course, this whacking is of Bill Plaschke, which is more or less shooting a columnist in a barrel. In today's sports section Plaschke began with the obvious--"Gagne over"--and then moved to the ridiculous, as he tried to figure out how Gagne burned so bright, so fast. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I must fess up that I had Gagne on my fantasy team in his dominant years, and he helped me win. Bonds was also on my team those years. You can decide what that means about steroids rumors about the two of them, although I never really saw them palsing around in the fantasy clubhouse. And why, yes, my head has always been this big.)

Actually, Plaschke does let the steroids rumor into his piece, only to dismiss it by writing:

A more definitive reason for the breakdown is his prolonged use at the end of the 2004 season, after then-general manager Paul DePodesta traded away his setup man, Guillermo Mota, on July 31.

Two days after that trade, Gagne pitched three innings. A few days later, he pitched 2 2/3 innings. The Dodgers rode his back to the playoffs, but he was never the same.

Now, if you read Plaschke, not only do you have my sympathy, unless you like your brain hurting, but also you have to know that everything bad that has ever happened to the Dodgers is because of Paul DePodesta. He is for Plaschke what Bill Clinton is for Republicans. And DePodesta's Monica Lewinsky is Paul Lo Duca. OK, so the metaphor not only breaks down, but it leaves you with one nasty image in your head. But for Plaschke, the trade of LoDuca, Juan Encarnacion, and Mota to the Marlins for Brad Penny and Hee Seop Choi was the downfall of everything truly Dodger-rific. You might as well have handed over Tommy Lasorda's Dodger Blue testicles along with Lo Duca, who was the Dodger's heart.

It's never quite clear why Plaschke hates DePo so. Maybe because he was younger than Plaschke, or because he was smarter, but then most of us would have to hate the LA Times scribbler. But it's not a coincidence that Plaschke most complained that DePodesta was a stat man, and the thing he did most wrong was trade away an intangibles player like Lo Duca (who I've come to appreciate this year as a Met, even if he cheated on his Playboy model wife with a 20-year-old, and even if he shouldn't bat second--that's a baseball reference and not a follow-up to the affair issue).

What's most sad is that Plaschke can't even get the facts straight in his endless drive to take down DePodesta and use him as a proxy for all folks who are interested in learning what stats can tell us. Here's what Will Carroll (the info is in the pay-for-play section, sorry) of Baseball Prospectus wrote as the Dodgers headed into the playoffs in 2004:

Gagne followed his singular 2003 with another dominant campaign. An increased workload was dropped on him after the trade of his set-up man, Guillermo Mota, and the subsequent injury to Darren Dreifort. Gagne's "tired arm" shouldn't be a problem--he was able to pitch just a day after the diagnosis and he's thrown only one inning in the last week. Yhency Brazoban has emerged as Mota's equal, giving him a chance to be this year's K-Rod.

But wait, there's more, if you think it's unfair of me to trot out a BPer to defend DePo. I decided to look up Gagne's 2004 season in Retrosheet, the amazing archive of boxscores, and it turns out Plaschke doesn't tell the truth. First, Gagne pitches those 3 innings the very night after the Mota trade, not two days later. He got the win, and was 1 of 5 pitchers in a 12 inning game. A pre-injury Dreifort got the save, ironically.

As for that 2 2/3 inning stint, it never happened. Gagne had some 2 inning appearances the rest of the way, but only tossed 34 1/3 of his 82 1/3 total innings from July 31 on.

OK, I'm nitpicking, but to me it's pretty clear who's the nit here.


Anonymous Mike said...

This dude seems like the Dan Shaunnesy of the West coast from what I've heard.

I thought Los Angelinos were laid back; didn't think the neanderthal sportswriter thing would play in Cali.

10:46 AM  

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