04.04.05

Phillips On DePodesta (Again)

Posted in Baseball at 3:50 pm by

Steve Phillips, following his comments about Los Angeles’ recent moves on the radio this weekend, as quoted by Bill Plunkett in today’s Orange County Register.

Five position players acquired by Paul DePodesta had OPS of .780 or higher last season – J.D. Drew, Jeff Kent, Jayson Werth, Hee-Seop Choi (even with his two-month slump in L.A.) and Milton Bradley. Three of the players DePodesta let go also did – Adrian Beltre, Steve Finley and Shawn Green.

“That combination of power and patience is an ideal one,” DePodesta said. “A lot of this comes straight out of ‘The Science of Hitting’ by Ted Williams, which was written a long time ago. That probably does a better job of encapsulating our offensive philosophy than anything I could tell you in a short answer.

“Find a pitch you can drive. Be patient enough to wait for it and aggressive enough to take advantage of it when you get it. I want guys to drive the ball. I want guys to be aggressive.

“At the same time, I want them to be patient enough to wait for the next one or pass the baton to the next hitter. But the goal is not to simply draw walks. The goal ultimately is to score runs.”

The reverse is true for pitchers. DePodesta looks for pitchers who can suppress power and don’t reward patience – “strike-throwers who keep the ball in the ballpark.”

“I want guys who don’t beat themselves, who force that other team to beat them,” he said. “It probably is somewhat just the flip side.”

The Dodgers’ projected starting rotation this season (Derek Lowe, Odalis Perez, Jeff Weaver, Brad Penny and Scott Erickson) had a collective strikeout-to-walk ratio of better than 2-to-1 last season while allowing an average of one home run every 101/3 innings.

But DePodesta’s figures don’t add up to a winning equation in the eyes of some observers.

“Paul’s a bright guy. He looks at things differently,” said former Mets GM and current ESPN analyst Steve Phillips. “I know there’s the ‘Moneyball’ perception but it’s not even that really. That’s not it.

“I thought the formula they won with last year was pitching and defense and pitching after the sixth inning, in particular. … When you analyze it (DePodesta’s moves), you say, ‘OK, what’s the strategy here?’ And it’s just not as obvious. It seems more like multiple formulas – which is OK. That can work.

“On the outside looking in, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. He’s smarter than I am. I just don’t see that the pitching and defense is as good as it was and I don’t think the offense will be as good as it was. … I’m anxious to see it play out.”

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