It was in 2004, that I first really noticed Andy LaRoche. He was a 20 year-old third baseman who ended up with 23 HR and 76 RBI in A ball. The next season, he hit 30 HR with 94 RBI and had a slash line of .305/.374/.553. He had amazing opposite-field power – I said it was “Piazza-like.” As he moved through the system he looked like the “real deal” to me. He did have some injuries along the way, but I still felt his star was bright.
In 2004, Andy played for Vero Beach and some of his teammates were Reggie Abercrombie, Tony Abreu, AJ Ellis, Joel Guzman, Chin-lung Hu, Matt Kemp, Russell Martin, Russ Mitchell, Delwyn Young, Chad Billingsley, Jon Broxton, and Eric Stults. Andy was better than any of them. In 2005, Matt Kemp hit 27 HR in 418 AB’s and Andy LaRoche hit 21 HR in 271 AB’s. Kemp OPS’ed .918 while Andy OPS’ed 1.031!
I watched Andy a lot in 2005 at Jacksonville (the games were on the web) and was still very impressed. I was also impressed with Russell Martin and his work ethic and proclaimed he would be a star as well. Matt Kemp had raw talent, but was wild and undisciplined. I had great HOPE for Matt Kemp but I KNEW that Andy LaRoche would be the Dodgers Third-baseman and Russell Martin would be the Dodgers Catcher for the next 10 years.
Well, I was half right about Russ Martin. He was great in the beginning, but burned out rapidly. I still can’t figure that one out. I really can’t. However, I was totally wrong about Andy LaRoche. 180 degrees off. I was reminded of this Friday night when I took my son to an Indianapolis Indians game. The Indians are the AAA affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates and were playing the Pawtucket PawSox. Hitting 6th for the PawSox was Andy LaRoche (now 28 years-old and playing 2B), followed by Jason Repko in CF.
Andy was hitting .256 and Jason was hitting .301. Both appear to be career AAAA players. Jason is 31 years-old and has battled severe injuries and physical problems for many years. His star is really setting. Andy still has an outside chance, but my impression is that he needs to get a personal trainer. He looks a little soft to me. Maybe that won’t help – some people are just built that way (John Kruk), but if I were him, I would try it. Both Andy and Jason are really good guys – not back actors. They love the game and play it the way it is supposed to be played. I found myself to be very sad and melancholy as I watched them Friday night. Oh… what might have been…
This is very sad to me because I know haw hard it is to play at the major league level and both Andy and Jason are close – just no cigar! I wish them both Godspeed! You will always be Dodgers to me. It’s interesting to see the types of players at AAA. The PawSox 1B is Lars Anderson who used to be the Red Sox Number One Prospect. He has struggled to hit in the .260′s at AAA for three years. He’s younger (only 24) but he’s not regarded as a top prospect anymore.
By the way, you can, click on the photos to see a full-size image.
OK, now that I am done wailing about Andy and Jason, today my son and I are going to the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis. We get to sit in a suite, complements of UPS Racing. I asked him earlier in the week if he wanted to go:
Me: “Stephen, do you want to go to the Brickyard?”
Stephen: “No, it’s too hot.”
Me: “Oh, we have a suite.”
Stephen: “I’m in!“
Dodger Rants & Raves
- The Truth Hurts called Kemp’s shot. He’s psychic, you know. He told me what the stock market is going to do Monday, but made me promise not to tell. Sorry! Kemp is fine. Don’t worry about him.
- Cut Mark Ellis some slack – he is working himself back into shape. He almost lost his damn leg for Godsakes! Put him in the #2 hole and let him go.
- Think about this: Kemp, Ethier and Ramirez could be as good of a #3, 4 and 5 hitter trio as there is in the game. OK – I said COULD not IS.
- Hanley Ramirez looks like a kid in a candy store. He’s a young 28 years-old and he is having fun and smiling (cheesing, actually) – something he hadn’t done much lately in Miami. It has been well-chronicled that he was moody, lazy and had a bad attitude in Florida. He deserved it. That is a different dynamic however. He was the main man in Florida but in LA he’s after Kemp and Ethier. He can relax, get a fresh start and be the monster he is capable of being. This guy is going to be an amazing player for the Blue. I am just not sure where he should play. I think LF is ultimately the best place for him, but this season he’ll probably stay at 3B. Why mess with it?
- Luis Cruz is playing too good to move him off of SS. He has to stay there for now.
- The Cubs allegedly want Allen Webster for Ryan Dempster. No way! How about Stephen Fife (his stock should be rising) and Jon Ely or Josh Lindblom instead?
- Zach Lee gave up 1 run and 3 hits in 5 innings in his latest outing at AA.
- RDLR and Ted Lilly both pitch today at Rancho Cucamunga. If both come back in a week or two maybe the Dodgers don’t need Dempster, especially if C-Bill can pitch like he did against the Giants today, but… you can NEVER have too much pitching.
- By the way: How about Chad Billingsley? WOW! He pitched up to his ability today. What a game! If he can pitch like that, the Dodgers can go a long, long way!
- The Dodgers need a leadoff hitter. Juan Pierre? Nah! Shane Victorino? Maybe! He makes the most sense in LF because he can leadoff and has some power. Reed and Tolleson for Victorino? Too much?
- I feel a Kershawshank Redemption coming on. After running out of gas in St. Louis last week, Clayton Kershaw faces the Giants today. Sweeeeeeeeepppppppp!
- OK, here’s the update on this site: I want to cut back to posting twice a week. David Caldwell (TheTruthHurts) is going to do the blog on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. I am going to do it on Sunday. I can also do it on Tuesday or Thursday (not both days). So, I am looking for someone to do it on Tuesday or Thursday or even both days if they want, and Friday. It can be one person, two persons or three persons. If you are interested, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Victorino LF
- Ellis 2B
- Kemp Cf
- Ethier RF
- Ramirez 3B
- Morneau 1B
- Cruz SS
- Ellis C
Minor League Notes:
- Jerry Sands went 4-6 with his 16th HR and Alex Castellanos went 3-5 with 2 HR (12, 13) and 5 RBI – They weren’t playing in Albq. They were playing in Nashville. John Ely got his 10th win with 6 strong innings (2 ER).
- Ethan Martin was roughed up for 4 ER in 5 IP. He got the win and is now 8-6. He walked 4 and struck out 6.
- Leon Landry was 3-5 and his BA sits at .328 in RC.
- Cory Seager was 2-4 with a double.
- Still no Yasiel Puig sightings as he works off the fat.