Back when the Dodgers hired Paul DePodesta as their general manager in 2004 the Los Angeles Times columnists decided that he was a no good sabermetric nerd and, as a group, decided that it was their business and duty to run him out of his job. Which, eventually, they did.
Since that time one of those columnists — T.J. Simers — has retired. Another one — Steve Dilbeck — is still on that “make fun of the geeks” kick. And then there is Bill Plaschke.
Plaschke is a bit more complex than the openly-trolling Simers and the luddite that is Dilbeck. Since 2004 he has said that he has come to appreciate the insights of sabermetrics, and there is some evidence of that. He has not, however, given up the idea that the Dodgers general manager has to be a dyed in the wool baseball man and, more importantly, that the Dodgers general manager has to please him and him alone in order to be good at his job.
The evidence: last night’s column in which he excoriates Andrew Friedman for the Matt Kemp trade, rips him for “blowing up” the Dodgers (and calls them “The Los Friedman Dodgers” which is just stupid). Which, fine, you can criticize the trade if you want to (Yasmani Grandal ain’t exactly Johnny Bench), but Plaschke’s efforts to do so are patently disingenuous.
- He misleadingly characterizes Grandal’s value as a hitter, citing his batting average only which, well, so much for the appreciating sabermetric insights stuff.
- Mere months after calling the Dodgers’ playoff loss the worst he has ever seen and one which required big changes, he changes his tune to say they were “just getting used to October” and now Friedman has ruined that beautiful, on-the-upswing team.
- He says “two years ago, they were two victories from [the World Series]. With Kemp gone, they’re not getting any closer,” somehow forgetting that the often-injured Kemp was AWOL from those playoffs; and
- He re-writes the history of the Mike Piazza trade, acting as if they got mere pennies on the dollar for him or something when, in fact, they got an awful lot of value in return. But hey, any weapon at hand.
The worst part, though, is that the thing is so infused with self importance. Get a load of this:
Impressively, the new guy isn’t afraid of the heat. Friedman returned a phone call even though he knew I would be criticizing the Kemp trade.
Yes. Impressive that the $30 million executive did not cower in fear from the newspaper person.
And then there’s this:
[Friedman] was asked if he understood how, just a couple of months into his journey, he was already treading in the sort of deep water not found off the shores of St. Petersburg.
All of this is premised on the notion that, in Los Angeles, it’s important that someone win a dang pennant for the first time in 27 years. It’s almost as if Plaschke doesn’t realize that Friedman won a pennant in Tampa Bay already.
Anyway, Plaschke’s alleged love of Matt Kemp is absolutely hilarious — I recall him ripping Kemp for his attitude, his love life and his frequent injuries in the past — but it can be understood completely when you realize that it is occasioned by a pathological need on Plaschke’s part to go after some guy who he does not think is worthy of Ned Colletti’s job. I’m just shocked he waited nearly two months after Friedman was hired to uncork this thing.