Do you remember The Twilight Zone episode “It’s A Good Life?” The episode features a six-year old boy, who has the powers of a god. He can read your mind or control the weather. No one knows if he made the entire world disappear, leaving only his small town remaining, or if he ripped their town away from the planet, and placed everyone literally in the middle of nowhere. That said, the kid’s scariest power is the ability to wish anyone, at any time, into the cornfield.
And that brings us to the Dodgers and the A.J. Ellis trade. Dodgers management sent Ellis away to Philadelphia with the same amount of foresight and sensitivity (ZERO!) the monster shows when he ships folks off, or creates a snowstorm just because he can. Just like the monster, Dodgers management was completely oblivious to the timing of the Ellis trade, and the ramifications it could bring.
They traded Ellis today not because Carlos Ruiz had to be on the roster RIGHT NOW, they did it because they could.
I get it. Ellis has been unproductive (in the stats charts) for the past couple of months. The Dodgers could use a shot of new – postseason tested – blood on the roster. Ruiz should be a step forward for the catching corps. Those are all valid points.
My question is, did it have to happen exactly when it happened?
Is the Dodgers brain trust that blind to the fact that team leaders matter? They supposedly sent Yasiel Puig to the minors partly because of team chemistry factors, so this one makes me scratch my head. Hello, Clayton Kershaw? Hello, Yasmani Grandal? Hello, pitching staff? And all the other teammates that like and respect him? Did that chemistry count for nothing? Zilch? The non-logic makes my head explode.
I’m not talking about trading the guy. I’ll grant that it was a good move, if all we care about are numbers on a chart. But baseball is so much more than that. Do you think people believe they are born fans of a particular team because of that team’s OPS and WHiP stats? Do you think teammates cry about trades because of FPCT numbers?
My mother recently passed away. When I stopped by the mortuary to pick up the urn containing her ashes, there was a family there having a funeral service. EVERYONE attending was decked out in Dodgers gear. That doesn’t happen because of WHIP trends. Baseball is life. It’s life to those of us who watch and opine about it; you better believe it’s bigger than life to many who play the game at its highest level.
That’s my point. Dodgers management had no concept of how trading away a popular team leader would affect the mojo of the Dodgers – at least in the short-term. And when there are less than 30 games on the schedule, everything matters in the short-term.
According to reports, Clayton Kershaw was devastated by the news. I’m sure he wasn’t the only one in the clubhouse feeling blue – and I don’t mean the good kind of Dodger Blue. Many in the fan base were outraged by the cold and callous way the trade was handled.
It happened on the night of a home game – a sell out – when the Dodgers were playing their hated rivals, the San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers had just taken two games from the Giants, advancing their lead to three games. The Giants were slipping in the standings and reeling. A sweep and going four games up was entirely possible.
And then management sucker punched the team, right in the gut. A ten-year old would have advised against the timing. The results? The Dodgers slept-walked through the game. They were no-hit for 8 2/3 innings, and were shutout 0-4.
Management wished A.J. Ellis into the cornfields of Philadelphia, without considering the fallout of the timing, simply because they could. If this isn’t an argument against having a baseball team solely run by numbers-crunching stat heads, I don’t know what is.