Without belaboring the point, he is simply evolving into a very, very solid pitcher.
Tony Jackson of ESPN/Los Angeles has part of the reason why:
The turning point was that well-chronicled meeting with manager Joe Torre and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt the day after Billingsley was knocked around in Cincinnati on April 20. Billingsley lost his next start, five days later in Washington, but he lost it 1-0, and Honeycutt said that was when he saw the first signs of what he is now seeing on a regular basis from Billingsley.
“We saw a more consistent arm slot,” Honeycutt said. “We really just wanted him to get back to what he should be, and that was the basics, fastball-curveball. I didn’t want him to give up the cutter entirely, and he threw a few of them tonight. But we wanted him to get away from throwing it too much. It was a pitch he was using too much, and with that, he was changing his mechanics sometimes in order to throw it.”
By using it now as more of a “show-me” pitch, used on rare occasions just to give the other team something to think about, Billingsley is able to maintain the consistent mechanics he uses to throw all his other pitches. For now, he appears to have hit on that secret formula he had tried for so many years to find. As a result, he has become a pitcher who not only is supremely confident in himself, but who fosters extreme confidence on the part of the rest of the club whenever it is his day to pitch.
The team looks supremely confident… except when a ball is hit to LF – you never know what can happen with Manny!
It looks like Josh Fisher who writes Dodger Divorce has finally realized what I have been saying all along. Here it is in part:
It goes without saying that the ownership situation is messy now. Even as a happy, intact family unit, selling the Dodgers would require the McCourts to untangle a string of affiliated companies and debt facilities so complicated it’s taken several months of expensive discovery just to unveil them. Should Jamie win half the team or a cash award so great the team must be sold, it’s going to happen at a discount, and an entity which might not have the wherewithal to operate the Dodgers would be encouraged to bid. Sound familiar?
The impassioned cries for Anyone Else are understandable, reasonable, and entirely defensible. But I’d urge everyone to consider just what that means: several likely years of turmoil. The sale itself would be an arduous, difficult process, and the new owner would likely experience significant growing pains. What’s more, there are just fewer folks out there right now who can afford a baseball team than there were three years ago. A fresh start has its advantages, to be sure–especially if whoever’s next is a true Southern Californian. But it’s likely to be a long, painful slog.
There is a significant possibility that the right answer for the long term is Frank McCourt. It’s hard to argue with the team’s success during his regime, and all indications are that he has moved past the perilously-thin margins characterizing the early days of McCourt ownership. The team is profitable, the fans are still engaged, and there is room to grow. Perhaps, with the financial strictures of the divorce behind him, he’ll be able to invest in the future of the organization, addressing shortcomings of the last few years. The TV rights come back in-house after the 2014 season, which will make the Dodgers all the more valuable. And, if things don’t work, a sale several years down the line will be without the urgency that would dramatically devalue the club in a sale this winter.
I’m not ready to throw my full support behind Frank just yet. Emotionally, it’s difficult to embrace a figure who has brought so much negativity to the Dodgers. But maybe that’s my point: there is no panacea here, no cure-all. Clamoring for Anyone Else is emotionally and philosophically justified, but we should be careful to remember that Anyone Else comes with problems, too. And this is where we come back to the divorce as a test case for fans’ attitudes towards their teams: what do we want?
If we want a fresh face we can relate to, an owner for whom the Dodgers are the reason to exist, an owner who truly understands what the Dodgers mean to Los Angeles, then yes: Anyone Else could be that owner. But Anyone Else could also be a relatively faceless group of investors that sees the Dodgers as a vehicle for growing and accumulating wealth. The team might be available for a song this winter, and those TV rights are so close you can taste them. Anyone Else might be everything we’ve grown to distaste about Frank McCourt, but at least he’s cut his teeth as an owner.
If we want to win above all else, Frank McCourt could be the answer. He’s got more money than even his wife knew, he’s had some experience in figuring out what works and what doesn’t, and he’s learning how to stay out of the way. And there’s another factor at work, here, too: should he come out of this mess with the team intact, he’ll needto win. It’s the only way back into the fans hearts (and wallets). I know it, you know it, Frank knows it. Say it along with me, Frank, “The difficult events of the last several months have made me reconsider my priorities, and after my sons, the Dodgers are the most important thing in my life.” And so begins the rest of the McCourt era. If, over the course of several years, Frank’s actions match his words, everything is forgiven.
It’s with a great deal of reluctance I sing the praises of Frank McCourt, Potential Long-Term Solution. And, obviously, whatever degree I support Frank is based only on what we know; yet more skeletons may lurk. But my interest in the entire fiasco has never been about Frank or Jamie, pools or jets, stadiums or campaigns. It’s always been about the Dodgers.
So, for the moment, I’m not going to write Frank off. However these next few months play out, my end-game is the same: I will support the candidate best able to sustain an organization I can be proud to call my own. As it is with analysis, the past only matters to the extent it colors the future. And, for everything that’s happened, I’m not sure the future is better left to Anyone Else than Frank McCourt. Not quite yet, anyway. Lord knows we’ve got plenty of time to sort it out.
Let me translate that for you: If Frank sells the Dodgers, the odds are it will be another 10-20 years before the Dodgers win anything. Frank McCourt is our next best chance. So quit wishing for a new owner, because if that happens, it will probably mean disaster for the Dodgers.