Categorized | Mark Timmons

What Do We Know?

What Do We Know?

It pains me a great deal when fans berate players - ”He’s a bum.”  “He’s worthless.”  “He can’t play.”  

What do we know?  As it turns out, not much.   I will say that anyone who plays at the major league level is so far advanced over anyone else that it’s like comparing my writing ability to Jon Weismans’.  The worst guy in the majors is so much better than any of us ever were.  Think about that for a minute.

When a hitter is in a slump or pitcher just can’t find the strike zone, we fans only look at the results, but fail to consider the underlying circumstances (if they can even be known).  For example, Eric Stults lost his mother to cancer.  In most cases, this is not an “overnight” thing, but something that can consume several years.  By all accounts, Eric was close to his mother, so when he knew she was sick (and maybe no one else knew) how did that affect his ability to pitch?  “He’s a professional – he gets paid to produce.”   HE’S A HUMAN BEING!

What were the dynamics surrounding Manny Ramirez when he was suspended and after his suspension?   He’s a  proud person who was humiliated.  I believe that his problems last year were more “emotional” than physical.   I don’t condone what he did (the steroids), but part of me feels sorry for him because he’s never had to deal with anything like this, and as an elite athlete, he’s ill-equipped to handle it.  He’s a professional – he gets paid to produce.”   HE’S A HUMAN BEING!

James McDonald seems to get that “deer-in-the-headlights” look when he suddenly walks batters with two outs.  He’s young, inexperienced, and who knows what is going on in his life?  Not me.  Not most reporters!  But, boy-oh-boy, he can pitch when he throws strikes!  He’s a professional – he gets paid to produce.”   HE’S A HUMAN BEING!

What about Chad Billingsley?  He’s newly married (I won’t even go there) and he had a broken leg and he’s very young. I mean, there are so many possible distractions and issues in his life that I could write a book about it.  He’s a professional – he gets paid to produce.”   HE’S A HUMAN BEING!

Rafael Furcal had back surgery before last season and was never the same in 2009.  He was friends with Andruw Jones (who had to leave due to illness – the Dodgers were sick of him)and who knows what else was happening in his life, in addition to rehabbing his back.  It takes time to come back all the way from that – even when you think you are OK, you aren’t… mentally!  In addition, Raffy has his best years in “even years” – look it up – that bodes well for 2010.  He’s a professional – he gets paid to produce.”   HE’S A HUMAN BEING!

When I think about what goes on in my life – my kids, my wife, my business, my health, my parents and in-laws (actually, I have no parents and in-laws anymore as they have all passed, so maybe that’s easier in some ways), but you get the point – we all have a lot of “stuff” in our lives.  So do ballplayers.  He’s a professional – he gets paid to produce.”   HE’S A HUMAN BEING!

All of this gives me pause, because the power of the human spirit is incredible!   I have hope (and tangible evidence from others) that Eric Stults, Manny Ramirez, James McDonald, Rafael Furcal and Chad Billingsley could actually harness their vast talent (initially or again) and put up some great numbers.  In fact, I will go on record that there will be no “middle ground” with Manny – he will be very good… or very bad!  I am betting on the VERY GOOD part, like .310/37/124.  That would play well in the middle of our lineup!

I name these five players, because I think they are in a unique position – they are all poised for breakout (or comback) years in 2010!  If that happens, LOOK OUT!  This could be a very SPECIAL season.

About Mark Timmons

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

27 Responses to “What Do We Know?”

  1. Rory says:

    last thread con’t:

    and let me tell you something Haeger – stop denigrating grocery store baggers. Joe Torre would be lousy at it.

    You do know that I was kidding about the Gertie thing and me being able to manage the Yankees.

    Eh, – you probably don’t – so nevermind.

    But the Yankees could manage themselves and win more than they lose. Over 162 games, the teams with the better players just win more. I don’t think that can be considered a scoop.

    Human beings? You remind us these guys are human beings? And I thought they were all Centaurians.

    .310 37 and 124. Man, you are looking through blue glasses. I’ll go .290 25 and 95.

    And, they are professionals and they are paid to produce – though some don’t after getting paid. They are paid ridiculous amounts of money to play baseball and that is what is frustrating for us fans. I worked my ass for years, was very good at what I did, but I didn’t get paid several million dollars playing a game and getting paid whether I produced or not. I am guessing the same is true with you?

  2. Roger Dodger says:

    Managing — is that the problem in Little League? Most coaching folks (most are probably men in L.L.) are not former major league players or even minor league. And they are at the beginning level for our youth today — going to be the future baseball players of tomorrow.

    Does that mean that the Little League should interview, train, and observe LL coaches prior to their coaching a LL team? Maybe.

    It was said by Peter Drucker (the expert on corporations, in hundreds of books) that a manager or executive could lead any organization if they had the organizational skills and used them in the right way.

    That should be true in sports and let us say baseball. Except, professional baseball players need to have some respect of the person that is the manager. I think Joe gets that respect. He was a great player. Yes, he had great Yankee teams to manage, but they (at least most of them I guess) wanted to play for him.

    When Tracy came to the Dodgers most of us had never heard of him, and we (fans) did not totally respect him as OUR manager. We were hard on the guy.

    As I am tying this, I remember that Walter Alston (back in the 50s 60s & 70s) managing the Dodgers player very little baseball, but he was a winner. Yet, Jackie Robinson did not like him and soon retired.

  3. Roger Dodger says:

    I have been calling for a new pitching coach for several years now. Honey-babe talks a good game, but I think this Dodger team needs another face there.

    Mark, all folks have problems, secrets, other agenda they are dealing with much of the time.

    On a pitching coach getting a pitcher to throw strikes. Yes, there are ways and techniques and all — but some guys just cannot throw the ball over the plate and never do learn. Some throw and they do not even know where the ball is going.

    But I love watching some of the older players, throwing junk up there and getting hitters out because they do not rely on speed, but location and change of speeds. I saw Drysdale pitch in Chicago late in his career — and he was throwing junk — and winning.

    Better put up their strings down in Spring Training for the pitchers to throw to.

    I think that our starters can go 5 strong inning almost every time out — it is the pen that will carry this team. Shutting down other teams in those tough 6th, 7th, and 8th innings. That is went many games are lost.

  4. A Shot of Haeger says:

    I know you were kidding Rory,

    My issue is with Ken who complains about Torre on pretty much every single post, that doesn’t have to do with the leagalese in the McCourt divorce case

    I never complain about atheletes salaries. They deserve every cent that they can get. To play professional sports competitively is difficult. They get paid exorbiatant amounts of money because less than 1% of the population has the ability to do what they do. It’s all supply and demand.

    There’s a demand for quality athletes who can perform there sport at a high level and the supply is minimal. Take MLB.. there are 30 teams and each team has 25 active players. that is 750 players. 750 people out of how many millions of people who live in the United States are good enough get on a major league roster. The worst player on a major league roster is better than 99.99999% of the human beings on the planet at playing baseball. Salaries in sports aren’t compared to other baseball players. they’re compared against the entire earning population.

    Making it to the majors isn’t easy… you don’t just show up for orientation and start the job in two days. it takes a lot of work and a lot of extra time outside of actual game situations. to get to the majors takes working hard from a very young age to get good at it. They say the average length of Major League service is probably 3 years. Imagine working at your craft from the time you were 3 years old until you were 23 or 24 just to get good enough to play for three years. You better believe they deserve to get paid.

    We all work our asses off at our jobs… but people don’t spend millions of dollars to watch me edit video for the 5 and 11pm news in Las Vegas… and to be honest, my job isn’t that difficult. I have trained people who just walked in the door to be a good editor in two weeks. do you honestly think you can teach me to be good enough to play in the majors in two weeks…two years..twenty years… i don’t think so.

    I’m against a salary cap, as you’ve probably guessed. They are artists at their craft.. and they deserve to be paid accordingly

  5. ken says:

    Wow. Getting called out by the most vile person in the world.

    Mark – I agree with what you said about Stults. He is obviously a great guy. If he is given a real chance to pitch he could be as good as Zito. (And who decides when he pitches) Does a person trained at a Mennonite school have issues attempting to reconcile pacifism and competitiveness? Hopefully not.

    Manny needs the kids to step up and lighten the load. (And who decides when a player rests?).

    MacDonald needs another year at AAA to get his head straight for the 2011 season. (And who decides to bring a player to the majors before they are ready?)

    Billingsley needs an off season where he concentrates on creating some balance between his fast twitch and slow twitch muscles so that he can last into the 8th inning. (And who should explain this aspect of Kinesiology to him?)

    Raffy needed time and rest to renew his body. (And who decides when a player rests?)

  6. A Shot of Haeger says:

    How am I vile?

    Do you not like Torre as a manager?

    Do you find fault with pretty much everything he does?

    All that I’m saying is that Torre is not as bad of a manager as you make him out to be and you should at least attempt to recognize the positives he brings to this team.

  7. Bill Russell says:

    Mark, That’s a pretty good take on some of the players that had an off year in 2009. Great list but Martins name probably belonged on it as well. Partying and chasing women may have distracted him last year but he’s only human.

    I’m not sure what’s going on with the dislike of Torre. Yes he’s semi retired and doesn’t raise a fuss with the ump’s or ever get kicked out of games anymore but the main thing a manager does is position coaches to run the team while he keeps the players ego’s in check. (getting kicked out is overrated anyway) Maybe he has to figure out when to steal a base or send in a pitch runner. The biggest issue for a manager in todays game is when to pull the pitcher or pinch hit for a batter. None of us know for sure what the correct move is and what the out come would/will be. It’s just a gut feel. Joe’s had success for many years as some have pointed out. Phil Jackson never gets credit for his success because of the players he’s had around him but keeping the ego’s in check, getting the most out of your players and the respect of the players is really all you can ask for. Joe Torre is over paid for what he brings but he’s capable of getting the job done and knows the game as well as anyone alive. Honeycutt may or maynot have been forced upon Joe when he took over the team in 2008. But with one of the best ERA’s in the game last year, it’s hard to place the blame on the pitching coach. Famous words from a fellow LA native “Can’t we all just get along” (R. King). Our biggest concern should not be the manager or pitching coach, it should be how the divorce will affect the team and how soon we will feel the effects.

  8. Rory says:

    My main problem with professional baseball players is the guaranteed salaries. You get one and you are set for life. It’s as sweet a deal as being a politician – once you get elected, you have a pension for life. None of us in the middle class have guarantees, and they shouldn’t either. Yes, making it to that level is difficult, and yes they work hard, but their ability is a gift. It is my opinion that MLB contracts should be handled the same way the NFL handles theirs. You make the money as long as you are good, and there will be some guaranteed money involved, but once you lose your ability, the team should be able to cut you – and your contract. Just my humble opinion.

    Honestly, I really don’t care who manages the team. It doesn’t matter who is doing it, there are times when I am questioning what the heck they are thinking.

    I just don’t understand pitchers at this level not being able to control their pitches. I could still hit my spots at least 70% of the time when I was pitching in the MABL at age 50. It seems like such a simple thing to me. I was taught “high and tight low and away” by my grandpa when I was 12 years old. These guys are pros, they get paid millions to do what they do. THROW STRIKES! And throw them on the corners. Same thing with hitting – the first rule of hitting, taught to you when you were in Little League – get a good pitch to hit. And yet, every game we see guys looking at strike one down the middle and swinging at strike three low and away. I don’t get it, but, I am not the manager. If I was, there would be fines, maybe kangaroo court fines but fines, for doing these stupid things.

    “Our biggest concern should not be the manager or pitching coach, it should be how the divorce will affect the team and how soon we will feel the effects.”

    Amen to that Bill.

  9. Roger Dodger says:

    Rory, when you were 12 years old, I bet you played baseball in some form almost all day long (when you could; season wise). Threw baseballs agains the house or some wall. Hit rocks with a bat for hours. Played pepper.

    I think for the past 15 or so years, many youth or kids, played some ball when it was scheduled – but did as much or even more on computer games and video watching. Those got in the way.

    I believe that hurt many guys in their total development of the game.

    Haeger – I agree with most of what you say above, but I really would like to see some kind of salary cap for all teams. This is a really big problem. We have kicked this around, from time to time, here and on earlier Dodgers boards (LA Times for example) — because there is not one, the big city mega owners will keep those $$$ flowing to win. And I really feel for the likes of Pitt, KC, Oak, Cin, Fla, Wash, SD, Tor, etc. that do not have ownership and TV funds, and so forth that can compete.

    Along with that, they do get the high draft picks, and when they come up with players that are super, they usually have to let them go in a trade just as the big money comes the players way. IF there was a kind of cap on salary — owners and players would have to work around that.

    I do not know why those lower teams do not bring it up for a vote, and out vote George and the rich ownerships . . .

  10. Rory says:

    Roger I had a block wall in my back yard. On it, with chalk, I had 6 spots circled, at the knees inside and outside, at the letters inside and outside and at the chin for both lefthanders and righthanders. I spent hours hitting those spots from about 40′. (that is all the room I had) and when I got on the mound, I could come very close to all of those spots. I had one bat I ruined hitting rocks into the lake, from then on I used a stick, sometimes an old broom stick so the barrel was much smaller than a bat. When I started coaching I made sure every kid had a bat at home, and their homework assignment was to take 100 cuts a day – visualizing a line drive. It worked.

    I absolutely agree with you on a salary cap for baseball. The union has become too powerful for that to happen, it will take another lock-out to get it done. The luxury tax is a good idea, but teams should be forced to use that money on payroll. Currently that money goes into the general fund, and though in theory that should help with payroll, in actuality it doesn’t.

    The Yankees just have it going on. Rich owner, cable deal, lots of fans, and – here is the kicker – lots of rich fans. Those home plate seats go for between $500 and $2500. One might ask – who the hell pays for those? People do. Some folks just want to be seen on the extended cable the Yankees have. The Dodgers should be just like them, and of course are not. We could argue why that is, but my feeling is it begins and ends in the owners box.

    I wouldn’t vote the rich out. I would tax them however.

  11. ken says:

    Joe Torre is rumored to earn approximately $5.3 million per year. Depending upon the location the average brain surgeon earns between $300,000 and $1,500,000. Who should be held to a higher standard?

    Here is the small list of players who currently earn more than Torre:
    Kuroda – #13 mil
    Rameriz – $10 mil
    Furcal – $8.5 mil
    Blake – $6.0 mil

    Players (before incentives) that earn almost as much as Torre are:
    Martin – $5.05 mil
    Padilla – $5.025 mil
    Broxton – $4.5 mil
    Kemp $4.0 mil
    Pierre – $4.0 mil
    Billingsley – $3.85 mil
    Jones – $3.7 mil

    2010 is the year to hold not only the coaches accountable but also the players. If the players want the economic rights but do not accept the associated responsibilities then in my opinion they should be traded. Baseball is a business and MLB’s anti-trust exemption should be eliminated.

  12. Rory says:

    There is a strong argument to be made for hiring only those talented players who are on their way up. Not all, but many players get complacent once they are set for life. To do that to a man who is under 28 seems a little out of balance

    Baseball is a business and MLB’s anti-trust exemption should be eliminated.

    Can I get an amen from the congregation!

  13. Bootz says:

    “Chad, you just gave up the game winning home run in game 7 of the Series. What are your thoughts?”

    “I don’t know, it’s cool. I’m a human being.”

    -

    “Mr. President, unemployment is still high, Gitmo is still in Operation, and there are still thousands of troops in Iraq. What are your thoughts on this?”

    “I’m a human being. Cut me some slack. My sore back has been effecting my jump shot though.”

    Another Homer article.

    Bring back Tony Jackson’s old blog.

  14. A Shot of Haeger says:

    Bootz,

    “Your kids have the flu, your car won’t start, and you have to take the bus to work

    I’m sorry boss that the report due on your desk, didn’t make it on time. I have a lot of stuff going on, I’m distracted!”

    Everyone has problems..rich and poor, man and woman… highly paid or not.

    Since when has the amount of money you make per paycheck made you more or less of a human being. Since when does making a large salary mean you don’t have to deal with problems in your life like every other person on the planet.

    They’re human beings! They aren’t different from you at being humans…they’re only better than you at playing baseball

  15. GoNzO says:

    Anybody in MLB knows A LOT more than any of us in here. Cox is considered a great manager because he has won MANAGING with less. He’s had good quality players over the years but not like Torre with the Yanks. Imagine if Cox would have managed the Yanks for their championship run instead of Torre.

    Torre has his positives but to me a good manager is one that can check egos and make good in game decisions like: Cox, Gardenhire and my favorite Manuel. Manuel benched the reigning MVP Rollins when he failed to run on a pop up.

    Another thing and I think I can speak for Ken and Lawdog is that we don’t compare Torre’s abilities with ours but to those of his peers.

  16. GoNzO says:

    edit from above: Imagine if Cox would have managed the Yanks for their championship run and AFTER instead of Torre.

  17. Rory says:

    Gardenhire. Excellent call GoNzo. TK was as good too. Taking young talented players and making them good enough to leave for the huge dollars is a great way to define a quality manager.

    If Cox or Gardenhire would have managed the Yanks it might have gone exactly the way it did. What do you do when you have an All Star team on the field, and super subs on the bench? You just let them all play.

    Speaking of huge dollars, Lincecum signs a $23 million deal. Two Cy Youngs and he makes what Wolf would have received in arbitration.

    Bootz, bring something worth commenting about, all of us will tell you what we think and in doing so you can upgrade this blog. Otherwise, put a sock in it.

  18. Mark Timmons says:

    Bootz,

    You miss the whole point, so let me explain it to you (r-e-a-l s-l-o-w):

    Players are human, but I would never expect them to have an excuse like your Billingsley excuse above. They will almost always give it a go, no matter what. However, just because a guy makes millions a year, doesn’t mean he handles grief or other life problems any differently than a guy who makes $50,000.00. Everyone handles grief differently and just beacause they have amazing baseball talent, doesn’t mean they react to life’s problems differently than any other human.

    Now, I write about the Dodgers, so please explain how what I wrote was being a Homer?

    Oh, I don’t force you to read what I write. You want Tony Jackson? Just follow the link at the top of the page.

  19. GoNzO says:

    “If Cox or Gardenhire would have managed the Yanks it might have gone exactly the way it did. What do you do when you have an All Star team on the field, and super subs on the bench?”

    Yeah badger, but what I’m talking about is the other years the Yanks fell short. Would Cox or Gardenhire have won more championships with those teams? I say yes.

  20. A Shot of Haeger says:

    Yeah badger, but what I’m talking about is the other years the Yanks fell short. Would Cox or Gardenhire have won more championships with those teams? I say yes.

    I say… who knows how they would’ve reacted working with the Yankee players. They’ve been considered great managers because they did more with less. I don’t think you can manage the same way when you have talent like the Yankees did than you do when you have talent like the Braves did. Managing and playing in New York is a whole different mindset too.

    I’m not saying Cox or Gardenhire wouldn’t have been more successful.. I’m just saying it’s not as simple as you think.

  21. lawdog says:

    Wow Badger! Your experience with pitching as a youth sounds a lot like mine. I probably threw 80 pitches a day against a wall and developed very good control. If someone had taught me how to use my lower body when pitching the fastball, I’d have had more success. But pitching without the big push with the legs and hips gave me really good junk. Later I figured out that the fastball was like driving a golfball and the junk was like use a pitching iron or sand wedge to finesse the golf ball close to the pin, but by then it was too late. I was better in high school, but UCSC had no baseball team and that was that.

    You guys who like Stults’ stuff haven’t been paying attention. When he’s on, he can put the ball where he wants it and changes speeds well, but he’s all finesse. Unfortunately, he’s only got his good stuff about a third of the time. He needs smoke and mirrors to be successful and he doesn’t have the fine control a pitcher of his type needs to succeed. He will always be a disappointment if you expect more than a 4-12 record and an era around 5.50 from the guy. He’s clearly a marginal player.

    McDonald and Elbert have good stuff and should be decent as starters if they get their heads out of their asses and learn to pitch with a little finer control and confidence. Should come in a year or two, hopefully. Haeger, on the other hand, was ready last season at the end of the AAA season. He should be given a real shot–but I doubt Torre will give it to him because he doesn’t like the dancer. If he di, he would have given him a real shot last year instead of just screwing around with him like he did.

  22. A Shot of Haeger says:

    I agree with lawdog about Haeger. His stuff, in the two times I watched him pitch on television, was incredible. Besides, he’s unique.

    What draws people to spend there money. Show them something they don’t get to see that often. From a monetary and marketing standpoint, an effective Charlie Haeger is a money-making certainty for Los Angeles.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I agree that Cox and Gardenhire are great managers as Gonzo points out, but like Haeger said, who knows if they could have kept Jeter and Rodriguez from killing each other and the rest of the high dollar babies in check like he was able to do. Maybe they could have but It may not be as easy as I might think. Torre is respected and the high dollar babies seem to listen to what he says. I feel the same way about Phil Jackson and his success without his peers giving him the credit he deserves.
    I wonder if Torre was told to bring Honeycutt along or if that was his pick of choose for pitching coach when he took over? Any inside info on that question?

    You may have to wake Torre up around the 6th inning to take out the pitcher but I don’t think he’s the cause of the Dodgers not having an ACE on the pitching staff.
    I’m looking forward to Camelback Ranch. The smell of freshly cut grass and a cold beer is the ticket. Just avoid the sun, it’s a killer.

  24. Bill Russell says:

    That was me……

  25. Mark Timmons says:

    I have mixed feelings about Honeycutt. On the one hand, I’d like to see the Dodger pitchers throw more strikes and pitch deeper into games, but on the other hand, they have the best ERA in all of baseball.

  26. lawdog says:

    The Torre/Jackson comparison is interesting. It’s true that they both have a unique talent in getting high priced players to work together and for the team when lesser coaches just got ground under. Rambis comes to mind for the Lakers. They guys who managed the Dogs prior to Torre would be good comparisons as well as being in the Rambis mold.

    The biggest difference comes in regard to their actual managerial skills. Jackson is a friggen gennius.

    Torre is not.

    In fact, Torre makes moves on a regular basis that remind me of the moronic moves of Del Tracy–another “well liked” idiot posing as a major league manager. I don’t think Torre is dumber than a bag of hammers like Tracy. He’s just coasting and makes moves based on his memory of how he managed different players with different skill sets in particular roles with NY and assumes diffferent players with different skills in similar roles will deliver just like the players in NY did for hi. A good example is using Broxton as a 2 inning “closer” because Rivera did it so well for him in NY. He’s too dense to even consider the fact that a pitcher with one pitch, a nasty cutter, is going to be able to be used more frequently than a guy with a 102 mph fastball and off speed stuff he can’t control or throw with consistency. Torre is in a kind of fog. Old age has robbed him of many of the skills he once had.

    Dementia is a horrible thing, don’t you think? :shock:

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