Categorized | Mark Timmons

Character Issues?

Character Issues?

Tony Jackson and Jon Weisman write about how important it is that the young Dodgers (Kemp, Loney and Ethier) rebound in order for the Dodgers to even have a ghost of a chance.  I happen to totally agree with that, but I also believe that it’s really a lot more than that.  Steve Dilbeck continues to dwell on the negative, and he’s very adept at it as he wonders whether Andre Ethier should be platooned (an idea I mentioned a few days ago), and that’s a possibility, but really, that’s not quite the question.  Here’s the deal:

Yesterday Rory (aka/Badger) suggested that the Dodgers may have character issues.  I think he thought that might upset me, but I

The Dodger Way To Play Baseball

happen to believe he is DEAD ON regarding this issue.   Regardless of how famous or loud a player might be, they are like most other humans.  Some lead, some follow, and some say “What happened?”

I absolutely think that character (or lack thereof) contributed mightily to the Dodgers collapse last year.  I know that I am going to probably get blasted for this, but I think the main culprit was the Dodgers’ alleged Captain, namely one Russell Martin!  As I have said before, when Russ Martin came up, he was the hardest worker I had ever seen.  He was the first on the field and the last to leave.  For two years, he was the heart and soul of the Dodgers.  Gold Glove, Silver Slugger and Charlie Hustle in a catcher’s outfit.  Russell set the tone, and his teammates followed.  I loved THAT Russ Martin.

Then came fame, fortune, wine, women, song and food.  Did I mention the food?  Russ was sucked in, and the result was that he became lackadaisical in his conditioning.  He wasn’t as mentally sharp, and as a result, he wasn’t as confident.  He teammates liked him, looked up to him, emulated him, followed him and for three straight years, he regressed.  He played worse than the year before, EVERY YEAR!  Last year, he said he was in great shape, but his teammates knew better.  His commitment wasn’t there, and neither was theirs.  Their Captain abandoned ship.  The rest of the team floundered.

Russ has left for greener pastures.  He is still making excuses.  Hopefully his teammates have learned.  Can they re-gain their character?  I don’t think that Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier or James Loney are natural leaders – at least now now!  Is character something you can grow?  I’m not sure.  However, I do know that if you bring someone in with character who is a leader, that quite often, many of  the followers will slowly develop that same character.

Do the Dodgers have that guy.  Is it Juan Uribe?  It’s not Raffy – he’s solid, but he’s a follower.  Is it Casey Blake?  He’s got character, but I don’t know if he’s the leader either.  I hear that Navarro has “character issues.”  Gabe Kapler might be that “Kirk Gibson-esque character”, but he probably won’t make the team.  Is is Jay Gibbons or Marcus Thames?  I hear that Thames is a great teammate, but…

I do hear that Juan Uribe is the guy the Dodgers want to step-up and be the leader.  Is he THAT guy?  That’s part of the reasaon they payed him$21 million.  But, I’m not sure.  Maybe it’s a combination of players.  Manny is gone and so his his fat little buddy (Belly).  Russell is gone.  Rod Barajas is solid catcher, but no star.  A.J. Ellis is still nearly a rookie.

Who’s the leader?  Who delivers the character?  Could the change of manager be just the ticket?  Is Donnie Ballgame a clone of Joe Torre, or is he his own man?  Does he understand what happened last year and does he have the balls to change it?  Could the “Keeper of the Character” be Davey Lopes, who has returned to his roots after 29 years?  I have a feeling he will be on fire.  Larry Bowa was fiery, but he was never really a Dodger.  He had no Dodger Heritage.  Davey Lopes bleeds Dodger Blue.  He knows the Dodger Way to Play Baseball.  Davey Lopes will provide the character.  Will the rest of the team drink the Kool-Aid?  That’s the question…

P.S. If this sounds like a “Trash Russ Martin Column” I apologize.  I wish Russ the best, but I think I’m not far off on what happened…

About Mark Timmons

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

19 Responses to “Character Issues?”

  1. Mark Timmons says:

    Joe Beimel is a Pirate. Now Troy from West Virginia can see him play with regularity!

  2. ken says:

    You do not need black eye shade to have a “Come to Jesus Experience”.

    Lopes, Hillman, Uribe, and ???? Who will be the Fourth Horseman of the apocalyptic transformation?

    Discipline and heart will lead to Success and Winning The Future.

  3. bluetrain says:

    That 4th rider just might be Ethier. If not for the broken finger i think his season and the LAD’s would have been much different.
    train

  4. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    Character is probably part of the issue. And it also might be that experiencing adversity may have been the wake up call that Ethier, Kemp, Loney and others needed to push them to the next level. But if they do drive themselves to achieve that next level, well, then I guess that’s character. Should be interesting to watch it unfold (or not). Losing Torre and Bowa I believe is addition by substraction, and I’m hopeful that bringing in Lopes and other new coaches proves to be a positive contributing factor. Uribe?, Thames?, etc., maybe. Time will tell.

  5. Bluenose Dodger says:

    As I have written before, my take is that we went into the season with Manny as our rudder or the wind in our sails. Manny didn’t produce the spark we were looking for. That is, not an OBP guy, but a masher making all of our hitters better because of his presence in our line up. He came into the season not talking to reporters, rather like the old Manny. Our rudder was gone and eventually fell off to the White Sox as we drifted aimlessly.

    I just don’t think any one guys bears the responsibility for our poor showing. There was plenty to go around. Manny and Russell seem to be easy to point fingers at. Russell, I am sure, does bear some blame, as the team did look to him as a leader. This year should give us a clue if he was a “good time” Russell the past two years, or his play simply declined prematurely.

    When looking for leaders, we never seem to look to our pitchers. I don’t think Bills is the guy, but I do think Clayton can be if he chooses to be. Why can’t Lilly or Garland be a strong clubhouse influence? Kuroda is a warrior and I expect not the guy.

    I was one of the first to complain that Mattingly (I hate the moniker “Donnie Baseball”)would be a Joe Torre clone, screaming for Tim Wallach. Well, we have both now. I have changed my opinion of Don Mattingly already. What he has said about being involved around the batting cage, rather than an office guy, and the interviews that I have seen, tell me he will be a differnt kind of manager that Joe Torre. I am not dissing Joe T., just sayiing we needed a change of direction, IMO.

    I expect Davey Lopes will have a positive impact on the team, and namely one Matt Kemp. I don’t expect Matt will ever be a clubhouse leader but could be a huge one on the field. He is Davey’s project, or so I have read consistently. And, we have Tim Wallach on board. He worked very well with minor leaguers, many of whom were older than our young players. The coaching staff has to bear some responsibilty for our demise last year. I think a group has been put together that will work well together.

  6. Rory says:

    Badger went into hibernation.

    I don’t see any natural leaders from last year’s team. Personally, I wouldn’t look to the pitching staff for my captain, in my opinion it has to be an everyday player. Maybe Uribe is the guy. He is new and allegedly a tough, no nonsense type of player.

    OK, here it comes again….. it is my opinion, based on what I have seen for the last few years, our best players just might be playing for themselves. Yeah, like ken said, maybe they will, on their own, without eye shade (or being given a black eye) have a come to Jesus moment and become team players… but guys like Ethier and Kemp just look to me like guys that care more about personal stats and the big contract than they do about wins and losses. Of course, I am not in the dugout and I know none of them personally, but I have watched them up close and personal for some time now. Am I the only one who sees it like that? Last year Kemp listened to nobody and Ethier has always been a guy with an aloof reputation. Loney? I still say he plays on Ambien. Take a look at MSTI has to say about him today.

    Maybe it’s different this year. I hope so.

  7. ThE OrIgInAl GoNzO says:

    My take is that Kershaw has to step up and be the leader. Granted he only plays once every 5 days but I believe come the season he will be the stopper we needed these past years. He seems to be a grounded kid that loves the team (he had a Dodger themed wedding)Hes been on the big club for a few years now and is the one guy that gives the Dodgers a legitiamte chance to win everytime he touches the rock.

  8. SpokaneBob says:

    If its on any one person, it’s Mattingly. It is up to him to set the tone and allow people like Lopes and Uribe to reinforce to message. We can only wait and see how he does.

  9. ken says:

    Bluenose the hound dog on the right track again, stiffing out the truth.

    Before writing “????” I thought about Kershaw??, but more often than not a young kid that goes on a mission does not kick butt. Maybe the pitching staff as a whole will develop a type of leadership through silence. Just avoid all of the selfish players and restrict their social interaction.

    Apparently everyone has character issues. Even Sir John is writing about how baseball is like eating a muffin.

  10. Bill Russell says:

    My take is that if you become the leader you are also a strong producer for the club. It’s hard to call guys out for not doing their job if you aren’t producing yourself. I may be wrong about that but we don’t have the guy that’s an Allstar caliber everyday player on this team right now. Not even a consistent producer. We might think Kemp or Ethier could become that but they haven’t proven themselfs for two straight years yet. If Ethier stays healthly maybe he’s the guy. I agree with Bluenose that Manny and Russell were suppost to be the guys last year but Manny’s injury/decline and Russells lack of commitment lost us a leader in 2010. I believe it’s got to be an everyday player not a pitcher that takes the role. Uribe or Raffy are the only other two possibilities. Screwed for leadership in Blue.

  11. Rory says:

    Larry Bowa was a leader on the Phillies because he was a player of average talent that outworked everybody on the team. It ain’t necessarily the big dog that is the alpha, it’s the dog that just insist on taking the lead. I don’t know the new guys personalities at all, but the dogs we have had there, Kemp, Ethier, Loney, Blake….. I don’t see any of those guys doing it because they were there last year and none of them seemed to get it done. That’s what pissed Bowa off so much… all that talent and very little “want to”.

    My money is on Uribe. Lopes might be looked at as old school by the young egos on this team, but a take no sh*t player might be able to light a fire under the soporific Kemp and Loney. I still see Ethier keeping to himself and padding his stats.

  12. dtwdodger says:

    Pure speculation on my part as to who is going to step up and lead this team…something that certainly needs to happen.

    While coaches/managers set the tone for the day-to-day flavor at the field level (sort of like the wind providing the way the sails will be set) if the club house is going to come together and players get behind each other in an infectious manner, it takes a clubhouse leader who is a player (sort of like a rudder determining the course of the ship).

    He doesn’t necessarily have to be the best player on the team (especially if the best player(s) aren’t natural leaders) but he does have to be a hard working and productive player that can and does generate respect from the players (much like Gibson did when he came to a goofy team in ’88).

    On that basis, my pick, even though I wasn’t ecstatic about the signing at the time, is Uribe. Pure speculation on my part that he will become that guy but it is my understanding that he plays hard, works hard and is one tough dude. He’ll get support from coaches like Wallach and Lopes and if he steps up he’ll take command of the clubhouse with his presence. If that happens at least all will be pulling the rope in the same direction.

  13. Corey says:

    I agree with most of the posters here I guess. I think/hope that Uribe is that guy to be the leader and take charge. I think Ethier may do it eventually, but I think he needs that full season of playing well to have the credibility. And here’s my longest of longshot predictions…..Jerry Sands continues to develop, makes the big club next year after an impressive performance during a callup this year and becomes that big talent, no nonsense leader they need….???? Ok, maybe i’m just California dreaming here in cold snowy Wisconsin….

  14. Maybe Jamey Carroll is the guy…He certainly leads by example while on the field….He can be just as effective in the dugout when he isn’t playing…Don’t know much about his personality but he gets the most out of his talent and skill level as any player in the league….

  15. ken says:

    Buster Olney rumor:

    The Os are offering $4.5 million to Vlad.

    So once again I ask my question “Do the Dodgers have the money to sign Vlad?”, which may be $4.5 mil. How much would Chavez receive with incentives? $2.5 mil? Who else is out there, if anyone, who can play either LF or 3B, and is worth $4.5 mil or less?

    Do the Dodgers have any money?

    I am getting ready to voice my impatience on Tuesday regarding when the Big February Signing will happen!

  16. ken says:

    Apparently the Dodgers have decided to attempt to boost Broxton’s self esteem by signing Mike Meiklejohn MacDougal to a minor league contract. Now Broxton will be able to watch the hitters tee off on a pitcher with a 95 mph fastball that is even flatter then his fastball.

  17. Robert King says:

    Martin is gone — my money now on James Loney to step up and step in. I have not support for this — it is a gut feeling. I was excited a few years ago at getting Donnie Baseball a a future manager…I also feel that he has “it” in him. Last year a cancer seemed to hit the team but they are more talented then they showed. I think it will be a much better year. Go Blue.

  18. Mark Timmons says:

    Good analogy, Robert.

    I think the cancerous growth was successfully removed.

    What do you think?

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