Categorized | Mark Timmons

The Forest or The Trees?

The Forest or The Trees?

Some people are saying that the Dodgers are a .500 team (when I say “some people” I don’t mean “informed baseball people”), which I think is just plain delusional.  I think sometimes Dodger fans fail to take into consideration that change is inevitable, and often, it is good.  Will everything be OK?  Seth Godin summed it up today by saying:

It’s natural to seek reassurance. Most of us want to believe that the choices we make will work out, that everything will be okay.

Artists and those that launch the untested, the new and the emotional (and I’d put marketers into all of these categories) wrestle with this need all the time. How can we proceed knowing that there’s a good chance that our actions will fail, that things might get worse, that everything won’t end up okay? In search of solace, we seek reassurance.

So people lie to us. So we lie to ourselves.

No, everything is not going to be okay. It never is. It isn’t okay now. Change, by definition, changes things. It makes some things better and some things worse. But everything is never okay.

Finding the bravery to shun faux reassurance is a critical step in producing important change. Once you free yourself from the need for perfect acceptance, it’s a lot easier to launch work that matters.

Will the Dodgers be OK?  We are so much in the middle of the Forest that we can’t see the trees, or is it we can’t see the Forest for the trees?  I will leaf that alone.  What I will say is that we often look at how a player performed last year and extrapolate that into the next.  What we fail to factor in is that we have a very young team and these guys often get better by leaps and bounds.  In some cases you can count on it.  I think we forget how far some of our young player have come, how much they have matured and how they will almost certainly continue down that same path. 

In the middle of the long, cold winter, I usually pick-up a copy of Lindy’s Fantasy Baseball(I never play it myself), because over the years, I have found that their takes are pretty close to the reality.  I don’t know for sure, but I think that they use a variety of statistical analysis as well as scouting resources to reach their conclusions.  At any rate, I have read them for many years and their accuracy rate is exceptional when predicting what players might do.  I thought I’d share a few of their predictions:

  • Russell Martin is the 7th Highest Ranked Catcher in Baseball behind Soto, Posada, Wieters, McCann, Martinez and Mauer – no surprise there. He is rated ahead of Suzuki, Bengie Molina, Ryan Doumit, Yadier Molina,  Chris Iannetta and Mike Napoli.  I caught a lot of heat from some of you for ranking him that high, but you can see I’m not the only one!   (Projection:  .269/9 HR/58 RBI/470 AB)  Comments:  “He inexplicably morphed into Jason  Kendall with slightly more pop, slipping even in stolen bases, a category he once dominated.  He’ll either return to fantasy relevance or fade into oblivion this season.”
  • James Loneyis the 15th Highest Rated First Baseman is Baseball ranked ahead of Chris Davis, Paul Konerko, Adam LaRoche, Jorge Cantu, Todd Helton, Carlos Delgado, Casey Kotchman and Aubrey Huff (Projection:  .281/18 HR/30 DBL/92 RBI) Comments:  “There’s a lack of sizzle and a whole lot of Mark Grace going on here.  A more critical peek at his numbers reveals Loney is becoming more patient (70 walks last season), suggesting a brighter future.  He’s due for a spike … don’t bet on an explosion.”
  • Of course, the Dodgers don’t have anyone rated at 2B, but I do hope they give Blake DeWitt the opportunity.  If he and Carroll can’t cut it, then we can make a deal.  Second-basemen are a dime a dozen and that All-Star you all wanted back (Orlando Hudson) is only the 16th rated at his position (and he wants $9 mil a year?  HA!).
  • Casey Blake is ranked #17 at 3B, right ahead of Casey McGhee, Andy LaRoche, Garrett Atkins, Jhonny Peralta, Scott Rolen, Edwin Encarnacion, Ty Wigington and Kevin Kouzmanoff.  (Projection:  .276/18 HR/ 76 RBI).  The words they use as “consistent” and “solid.”  Certainly, he ‘s no star, but we could do worse.  
  • Raffy Furcal is ranked the #14 SS and Lindys calls him “No longer an elite fantasy option, as injuries have robbed him of his speed and power.”  (Projection: .283/10 HR/51 RBI/15 SB)  If he can put up those numbers with a .360 OB%, we will be fine. “Hurry up Dee Gordon!”
  • Ryan Braun is rated the #1 outfielder, but #2 is none other than our Matt Kemp (Projection: .302/35 DBL/8 TRIP/31 HR/105 RBI/38 SB).  Those are “elite” numbers.  Andre Ethier is rated #16 (Projection: .293/36 DBL/30 HR/102 RBI) and Manny Ramirez is #18 (Projection: .302/26 HR/86 RBI).  They say that they still believe “Ethier will win a batting title” and that “Manny still has an elite batting eye and isn’t done being relevant in our game.”  If that prediction holds up for our outfielders, the Dodgers should be very good offensively.  In fact, that should be baseballs best offensive outfield.
  • When it comes to pitching, Lindys has Clayton Kershaw at #16, just ahead of Cliff Lee!  Chris Carpenter was #15.  Other pitchers ranked behind Kershaw are:  Vazquez, Cain, Beckett, Jimenez, Webb, Peavy, Shields and Lackey who was rated #25, just ahead of Chad Billingsley at #26.  (Projections:  Kershaw- 16-6/2.88 ERA /198 IP/156 H/210 K/1.24 WHIP; Billingsley – 14-11/3.72 ERA/202 IP/180 H/188 K/1.29 WHIP).  Here’s what they say about Clayton:  “He’s a still a work in progress, last summer adding a slider to compliment his mid-90′s fastball and all-world curveball.  Check out Fangraphs.com for more on his slider and put a check next to his name on your cheatsheet.  He’s going to be unstoppable in the very near future.”  Yeah, like maybe in 2010?  Billingsley was rated ahead of the likes of Baker, Garza, Rodriguerz, Lilly, Weaver, Dempster, Nolasco, Anderson, Oswalt, Burnett, Bucholz, Jurrjens, Danks, Jackson and Harden.  They regards the 2nd half of 2009 as a “hiccup.”  Hiroki Kuroda was ranked #49, ahead of Hudson, Kazmir, Maine, Sherzer, Saunders, Pineiro, Zambrano and Randy Wolf (who was #65, and they predict 10 wins with an ERA over 4.00 for him).  They project Kuroda at 11-8 with a 3.63 ERA/182 IP and ad WHIP of 1.20.  Of Kuroda they said “his underlying numbers are solid and the injuries were not arm-related.“  Vicente Padilla weighed in at #96 (not bad for a #4), just behind Jon Garland at #95.  They project him at 12-10 with a 4.33 ERA and 169 IP with a 1.43 WHIP.
  • Which brings us to Jon Broxton, ranked #5 as a closer.  Here’s the crux of what they say about him (sounds like what I say):  “Perhaps a visit with a sports psychologist is in order…”  ‘Nuff said!  George Sherrill is rated #40 and Lindys thinks he could close more on the road, especially against LH’ers (where Brox has his issues).

So, while Lindy’s is not Bill James or Fangraphs, it’s still very useful, and I have found that their projections are quite accurate.  I think a lot of Dodger fans depreciate the value of a lot of our young players, as well as our role-players.  The 2010 Version of the LA Dodgers is destined to be VERY, VERY GOOD!  Now, depending upon what happens with the divorce, we could be buyers in August.  Get ready for a great season!  I see at leat 93 wins!

DODGER NEWS:

  • Jon Weisman has an excellent post on the Dodgers lack of resources at this juncture.
  • The Phillies have $130 million committed to 14 players in 2011, which means they may not be abale to sign Jason Werth.  Hummmm…
  • The Dodgers could sign Noah Lowery as soon as NOW!

About Mark Timmons

When you see the invisible, you can do the impossible!

12 Responses to “The Forest or The Trees?”

  1. Rory says:

    93 wins?

    I’ll take the under. For 500 push-ups?

    What does Rotoworld say? I won’t pay the 20 bucks needed. In doing some research I have seen a few Fantasy sites and I didn’t see that many Dodgers rated in the top 20 – the only two names I remember seeing consistently were Kemp and Kershaw. Everyone else is middle of the pack. It will take everybody on the team having good to great years to reach 93 wins.

    As usual, you are being overly optimistic, and that is a good thing. For all the trouble the Dodgers are having financially, they are hanging in there with the Vegas odds makers. They still have us as the second best team in L.A..

  2. Mark Timmons says:

    Second best?

    I’ll bet the Angels would do thatb trade in a minute!

    I said at least 93 wins. Probably more.

    Oh you of little faith.

  3. Roger Dodger says:

    Mark, you write about the trees, forest, seeing, not seeing.

    Let me frame that in a different way.

    When one looks at the forest from a distance — it can look beautiful, indeed. Artists for years and years have painted forest scenes. And we love to look at forest scenes.

    Now, go up close to the individual trees in the forest. Up close. Some of them stand tall, colorful, healthy, smell wonderful — they are indeed beautiful.

    But, look at some of the other trees around you. Some have tree disease, others have been hit by lightening and fallen, now dead. Some have been injured by humans. Some are looking imperfect. That is just life in the forest.

    Now go back and look from afar. It seems beautiful.

    Looking at a baseball team can be a similar way. The total roster can seem great. Strong here and there. Filling holes and needs. Everyone is excited.

    Now look closer, at each player. Broken leg over the winter. Sore arm at the end of last season, will he be okay the following season? Another year on some players, will they finally mature and be what we want and need in a player? Other players will be older, can they continue and be productive?

    Seeing from afar has one reality —

    Seeing from up close has another reality –

    Dodger fans that study their team — are, for the most part, not far that far away and see the concerns, problems, lacks, gains, hopes, and the last new guy on the roster.

    We all want the players to have their career year in 2010. No 50 day sit downs because of testing. Very few physical problems. Players are now preparing to report to Glendale. Then the training. Then the season . . . . . . and we all hope for a 100 win season.

    By the way, my shoulder I injured last year in the batting cages during Spring Training at Camelback has healed. Have Joe call if he needs a good relief pitcher. I am un-hittable.

  4. mark says:

    but can you pitch 80 innings?

  5. Rory says:

    This part of Weisman made me laugh:

    “Unlike more off-seasons in the past than I care to remember, they did no real harm. Though they didn’t do the farm system any favors, they also didn’t burden future Dodger teams with disastrous contracts.”

    Did no real harm? That is how we evaluate our off season? And, don’t we have several payments in the future on contracts that we dumped?

    There is the advantage of having some very good ballplayers already here and under team control. Thank goodness for that. And unlike many other impecunious Major League teams, the Dodgers are wealthy enough to support a $100 million payroll even when the checkbook has a lock on it. This is of course because they are in a wealthy market and draw 3 million every year, win or lose. How good would Oakland or Florida be if they had that going for them?

    We will have a decent year, and probably win more than we lose. How long that goes on after next year? Who knows. My gut tells me as long as McDimes is the owner, we will never win a championship.

  6. mark says:

    … and yet, the Dodgers have never had a stretch where they were this good … EVER!

    And still McCourt gets disssed!

    I guess he should have instantly became RedSox West.

    Man, the Dodgers have been good and yet still.

    Look at the Phillies before they broke through. After 1988, we were really bad for a long time. Give it time. Give it time.

    I’ll take that bet for 93 games.

  7. mark says:

    Go back and read last years comments from January to March. It sounds like what is going on here – TODAY!

    Except, that most of you were arguing that we should sign Manny for at least 3 years. Good luck with that! I said that “Manny will not be the model citizen he was last year, but the question is how bad will he be (conduct-wise)? The Dodgers don’t want him at the price and contract length he wants, but do they want him if he doesn’t get what he wants? That may be worse!”

    Little did I know…

  8. Ken says:

    The Dodgers got a lot more for Pierre than the Angels got for Matthews.

    87 Wins = Wild Card!

    Fangraphs.com has a lot of stats. Some of you now have no excuse not to do your own research.

    Between Stults and Heager the 5th spot is taken! The rest of them should start at AAA so they will be ready for 2011 when Kuroda and possibly Padilla are gone.

  9. Rory says:

    I admit, I was one who wanted to give Manny three years. How was I to know he was still doing steroids? I realize the guy is not known for is IQ, but, come on. Roids at this stage of the game? And, had he been there all year, what kind of numbers do you think he would have put up?

    And Mark, you are the guy that predicts career years every year, what are your predictions for Manny this year? Is he the one guy on this team you don’t believe will hit .300 with 100 rbi’s?

    And, just out of curiosity, how many tickets do you think he sells every game?

    I see Manny, in the middle of our lineup, hitting .290 with a .400 OBP. If we hadn’t lost Hudson, I could have easily seen 100 rbi’s. I don’t know now, because I have no idea who hits second on this team. Martin? Hope not. He needs to be around the 6 hole so he can do what he does without pressure. Ethier? He is probably the best suited for it, but, he will likely hit 3rd. Furcal and his .335 OBP leads off, then ……. ?

    And I will say again what I said last year, had we signed Manny for three years, if needed, we probably could have moved him in his last year to an A.L. team, where he could focus on doing what he does best, hit the freakin’ ball.

    I can see this team winning 88-90 – if all goes right for them. We have any hiccups or injuries – .500 will be it.

  10. Mark Timmons says:

    I predict what I think players can accomplish. I don’t publish fiction. I mean, I don’t say that Kemp will hit .350 with 50 HR or that Kershaw will win the Cy Young (this year). I think my projections are realistic. Now, things happen: injuries (Raffy), Suspensions (Manny) and just off-seasons(Bills and Martin). I know that not everyone will have a career year, but when you see guys like Loney, Kemp, Ethier and Kershaw improve every year in certain areas, you can rest assured that they will continue to do that.

    I have a sneeking feeling that these guys will take their game to another level this year.

  11. Rory says:

    We are going to miss Hudson, Wolf and Pierre. We have no replacements for them.

    I can see the middle of this lineup having good years, but they will have to carry the ballclub. I sure hope they all stay injury free. I did see that fangraphs predicts Raffy to have his best year since 2006. I hope they are right and he gets his game back. We are going to need something at the top of this lineup. Again, 3-6 should be ok. I hope Martin returns to form, but I see a lot of outs at the top and at the bottom of this lineup. I am not confident in the bench and I do not expect 32 starts out of Kuroda, Padilla and whoever wins the 5th spot. The pen should be fine, but they will again likely lead the league in IP.

    I still have many questions about this club, and I worry that the pressures of what is happening in the ownership suite will have a trickle down effect on the players. That divorce is hanging there like a huge black cloud, and when it opens up, there may not be an umbrella big enough to keep the team dry.

    BTW, fangraphs has a different position for Casey Blake. They have him behind Andy LaRoche. Do I see another 100 push-up bet for the coming year? Bill? Romey? Anybody?

  12. Mark_Timmons says:

    Great read by Tony Jackson about Kim Ng:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/los-angeles/mlb/columns

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