Thursday, February 29, 2024
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Attn Dodgers: Stop Starting Chase Utley, and Stop Now

The Los Angeles Dodgers befuddle me. I don’t mean I disagree with some of their decisions. I’m not talking about the minutia of pitch counts or whether or not a strategic bunt is necessary at a particular time. I mean they make decisions that absolutely defy logic, common sense and everything they’ve supposedly built their decision-making culture upon.

I’m talking about their insistence on starting Chase Utley again and again, despite his abysmal batting average, and equally despite the fact players with comparable defensive abilities and much better offensive capabilities are available instead.

We all know the Dodgers’ front office claims that numbers should determine playing time. Never mind the “intangibles”. The cold, hard numbers will speak for themselves. Ok, enough of me. Let’s see what the hard and cold numbers have to say:

Since Opening Day Chase Utley has had 41 at bats, and he’s played in 9 of the last 11 games. In that time he’s amassed 6 hits, 1 double, and 1 RBI. His line is BA .125/OBP .204/SLG.136/OPS.250

It’s understandable to an extent that Utley would get plenty of field time since Logan Forsythe has been on the disabled list. However, he isn’t the only choice on the bench to spot Forsythe – and he sure as Scully isn’t the best choice.

Let’s consider the Banana Kid, Enrique Hernandez. Before Andrew Toles started hitting and Cody Bellinger hit the scene, Kike was getting starts in the outfield. That’s not happening much anymore, because Toles and Cody are hitting home runs and sparking the offense nightly. That’s a good thing beyond the offensive numbers because Kike is a sub par outfielder and his arm isn’t much good beyond a 50-foot throw.

That said, the Banana has shown he’s plenty competent at second base, and even better, he’s slugging extra-base hits once every 4+ at bats.

Hernandez has 47 at bats with 11 hits, 6 doubles, 1 triple, 1 home run and 7 RBIs. He’s batting .234/.288/.532/.820 

He’s especially good at home. Here are his Dodger Stadium numbers: .259/.310/.630/.940. For comparison, here are Utley’s DS numbers: .150/.227/.200/.427.

Guess who the stat-heads are starting at Chavez Ravine? If you trusted your “reasonable person” skills, you’d be wrong. Utley gets the start.

All of that said, Hernandez isn’t the only option available. Young Chris Taylor is up with the big club for a cup of coffee. How’s he doing? In 28 at bats he’s got 9 hits, 2 doubles, 2 home runs and 6 RBIs. His line: .321/.367/.607/.974. Maybe you’re thinking he doesn’t hit so well at Dodger Stadium? Compare these numbers to Utley’s: .308/.308/.692/1.000

Small sample sizes? Everyone is on a small sample size. The season is only one month old, but one can see trends, and I don’t see a pattern that insists Utley and his weak bat should be getting 3 or 4 plate appearances a night while players with hot bats sit so their batting eyes can lose focus, their timing can grow rust, and their mojo can dissipate on the dugout pine.

I suppose a team leading the division can afford to carry two or three dead bats in the lineup, but these Dodgers aren’t that, and they need every quality at bat they can muster just to beat the last place team in the division.

Adrian Gonzalez is dead bat number one, and thankfully the Dodgers have moved him down in the lineup where he belongs. Chase Utley at dead bat number two went 0 for 3 against the Giants with two strike outs and he left three men on base. The Dodgers lost to the last place Giants by one run.

Meanwhile Kike’s hot bat, with its .350 slugging percentage with men on, sits cooling off in the dugout, the Dodgers sit in third place, and I sit befuddled.




Oscar Martinez

I was born in the shadow of Dodger Stadium and immediately drenched in Dodger Blue. Chavez Ravine is my baseball cathedral, Vin Scully was the golden voice of summer all my life, and Tommy Lasorda remains the greatest Dodgers manager ever. My favorite things are coffee, beer, and the Dodgers beating the Giants. I also blog about my baseball card hobby at All Trade Bait, All the Time.

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Oscar Martinez
I was born in the shadow of Dodger Stadium and immediately drenched in Dodger Blue. Chavez Ravine is my baseball cathedral, Vin Scully was the golden voice of summer all my life, and Tommy Lasorda remains the greatest Dodgers manager ever. My favorite things are coffee, beer, and the Dodgers beating the Giants. I also blog about my baseball card hobby at All Trade Bait, All the Time.

51 thoughts on “Attn Dodgers: Stop Starting Chase Utley, and Stop Now

  1. Amen Oscar!!! Although I don’t expect the almighty FAZ to actually do what is right for the team. Why does this FO continually go against conventional wisdom? Nevermind.

    Utley has got to go but what scares me is how long they stuck with Turner last year when he was struggling at the plate. Although Turner is a completely different story when it comes to age etc… But we lost quite a few games because of him early last year bating in the heart of the lineup. Same thing might go for Agone. FAZ seems to be loyal to a fault. They preach about depth and flexibility yet they they trot out the same dead bats every night.

    If they send Bellinger down there should be a major revolt. Text book bunt last night. And I bet he did it on his own. No way the coaches came up with such a brilliant play.

    This team is so frikin listless it scares me. They just go through the motions, except when there is a long ball and then they jump up and down and hang on the railing cheering each other on. No long ball, all they do is sit on the bench. This team needs to play at 100% ALL THE TIME. They can’t afford to stay so listless, but wait, they are saving themselves for September and October.

    1. Bluto

      Read Slotim’s post, and you will see I was right about Turner, having a very slow start, last year.,

  2. You forgot the biggest dead bat, our so called power hitting pitch framing genius Granny groundout Grandal. That guy should never hit above 7th in the lineup. You switch him and Bellinger last night and they have a run or two more. Frustrating, infuriating and down right effen dumb moves by the FO and Roberts. He is not any less guilty than the powers that be.

  3. “Define your principles and live them” – Edgar Cayce.

    FAZ and their Dodgers, like it or not, are a platoon driven organization. From the top of the management pyramid to the Rookie League, this is the philosophy and these are the principles that we all have to live by. Unless and until they promote Calhoun, we are going to see Utley in the lineup. Those who sing the National FAZthem before every game will also sing the praises of all things platoon. I suspect their opinions can be caught at DodgerBlah.

    Utley is obviously a shadow of his former self, but I don’t believe he is this bad. No matter the on field result, I’m sure his influence is substantial. But, coaches don’t usually make as much as he does. Do they? And then there is the roster spot.



  4. Impressive that you call Agon dead bat #1. We all think he will eventually heat up, but right now he is a gaping hole in the middle of the lineup. So Bellinger must wait.

    Where I don’t agree with you is Kike as an infielder. Put him on the diamond and he is dead glove #1.

    Wonder who gets moved off the roster when Gutierrez is activated? Or has it been announced already?

    1. Not yet Artie, but my bet is Bellinger since they still need Taylor as a backup infielder and the RH bat until Forsythe is back this weekend. They could DFA Hatcher and it would not bother me a bit, but they like that 8 man BP. I think they need to add the 26th man to the rosters.

  5. Just an observation. Last night on the broadcast Orel was telling Joe about playing for Tommy. He said that Tommy brought a sense of urgency to every game all season long. He instilled that in his players. He also said that the script has flipped, it used to be the Giants were chasing the Dodgers just to win the division and what ever happened after that was gravy. Now it seems to be the other way around and the Giants are the team who has won over the last decade. I, and this is me personally, do not see any urgency on the part of management or the players. They are 2 1/2 games out of first. Not an insurmountable number. But they had a chance over the last week and a half to bury the Giants. They win 2 of the 3 loses they have vs SF and the Giants are reeling. The Dodgers would have 16 wins and be right behind the leaders. This is where the FO has fallen flat on their collective asses. The problems this team had last year are problems this team still has although the FO would have you think that they addressed those problems this off season. Forsythe and Gutierrez were going to make them more competitive against LHP, The depth of the starting rotation was such that the bullpen would not be as over worked as it was last year. To their credit, the BP has been a bright spot, the starters, not so much, both Gutierrez and Forsythe go down with injuries, and the hitting has fallen flat save 4 guys, and 2 of them were not even with the team out of spring. Turner and Seager, Taylor and Bellinger. They have gotten no power out of their primary butter and egg man, little production from behind the dish, and when you think about it, not a whole lot from their bench guys. They supposedly brought Bellinger up as a warning to those who were not producing. Yet, probably this afternoon, or at least by Friday, barring a miracle or someone getting released both Bellinger and Taylor will be back at OKC. Me, I cut SVS, Utley, Hatcher, and Gutierrez and go with youth, Bellinger, Taylor, Dickson and Calhoun, who is also tearing up the PCL. I know they will not do that, but in my book, it is time.

    1. I have no problem with Van Slyke going down, but I still believe Forsythe and Gutierrez can be productive. Maybe getting some time off now will oddly be helpful to them come August and September. Neither of those guys are stars but both can hit. I say again, I’m not nearly as concerned about the offense as I am the pitching. I may be naive about the sticks and dead wrong about the arms, it’s just a gut feeling after 25 games. Well 25 this year, over 170 last year. We’ll score. But do have 180 game pitching endurance? I don’t know.

  6. Breaking news: Franklin Gutierrez activated from the DL, Scott Van Slyke optioned to OKC…….shocker…..

  7. Starting line up…Hernandez, CF Seager SS Turner 3B Gutierrez LF Taylor 2B Puig RF Barnes C Bellinger 1B Wood P….

        1. After what just happened with the bases loaded, I think not! Triple by Bellinger!

    1. Artieboy

      Bellinger hits decently against lefties.

      Agone actually hit better then a lot of players on this team, against lefties last year.

      They were not Agone type of numbers, but not that bad.

      Agone needs to go on the DL and see if he can get better, because he isn’t helping the team, like he would, if he wasn’t hurting.

      Cody is up and doing ok, so Agone just needs to realize he isn’t doing what is best for the team, by playing when he is so restricted, with his injury problems.

      Maybe a few weeks of rest, will have him get where he needs to get, to be an asset to the team.

    1. Jonah and Michael

      Thanks for that info about that ring tone, I said this on the previous thread, but I wanted to make sure that you saw this.

      I like that guitar rift at the begining of Revolution, and that is why I wanted that, for my ring tone.

      I looked on the ITunes Store, and they had every other Beatles song there, except that song.

      Jonah I saw something on the road, on my way home from the store, that haven’t seen in a long time.

      I actually saw a Pinto, and I can’t believe they looked that bad, back when.

        1. Jonah

          There are a lot of people now, that collect those type of cars.

          I don’t know if you have ever saw America Pickers, but I think you would like that show.

          These guys go across the country, trying to buy the old things that are valued now, like the car you had.

          They go to people’s homes, and try to find these old things.

          And there is a lot of stuff they like, from when we were kids.

        2. My dad bought me an old Ford Falcon, to drive to high school.

          It was a 65 Falcon.

          That car was fast.

          But once I went to college, I needed a better car, and my dad got me a Pinto.

          1. I’ve had some great American built cars. None recently. ’62 Impala SS, ’65 Malibu SS, ’65 F-150. ’66 Buick Riviera, ’63 Falcon Convertible w 260 V8. All beautiful vehicles.

      1. Jonah

        I am the same way.

        I would never buy an American car either.

        I had a 91 Nissan 240, and I loved that car.

        It was a fast little car.

        It wasn’t the 240s from the 70s, it was small but it was more like a Honda Prelude.

        I was glad when I bought that car, because it was one of the only Nissan cars, that was still put together, in Japan.

        I wish they still made them.

        I would have got one of those, instead of my Honda Accord.

        Cars are getting bigger and bigger.

        My Accord is the first car I had to get a cushion for, to see out better, since my driver’s edd teacher, went and got me a pillow to help me see better, when I was is high school.

      2. Badger

        The Pinto was a newer car, and we didn’t learn about the dangers about them, until later.

  8. In Santa Paula there is a huge lot in a very obscure area full of pintos and Granadas and other 70’s cars. It’s also a big area for studio shoots. Hmmm

      1. I had one, a station wagon and prefer never to see one again…had about as much horse power as a lame mule.,

  9. Oscar

    I don’t agree with you about Kike.

    There was a point when we faced so many lefties, that Kike actually played in 6 of 7 games, we played last week.

    And during that same period of time, Toles only started two, of those same seven games.

    And that was when his average went down so much.

    He was getting those one or two at bats, at the end of games, but that is nothing like starting a game, and knowing you will get 4 at bats.

    I don’t think Kike and the part time players, should be playing in that many games, and getting that many at bats.

    That is when Kike started hitting, and if you look at his average now, it has came down a little.

    I do give him credit for what he did in those seven games, but he shouldn’t have been playing so much, like a regular player.

    I guess I feel like Scott, about the line up.

    And that is, play the everyday line up, almost everyday.

    I think most of the time, it is the everyday players, that play with the part time players on the platoon team, that are supppling most of the offense in these games, anyways.

    So they should just play the everyday line up, and have the part time players, give days off, when they are needed.

    But if one of the regular players are not performing well, that is different.

  10. What a way to make the gints feel better. What was Kike thinking. He flopped over like a beagle ear

  11. Why is Joe West still doing this?

    Bellinger knows what he’s doing. AGon is going to get time to rest.

  12. Anyone else notice how much better the offense has been since Bellinger was called up. He going to ‘Lou Gehrig’ somebody. Just not sure who’s going to be Wally Pipp.

    1. You stole my line! I was going to say they were calling Agon “Wally Pipp” in the dugout.

  13. Moore walks the first hitter on 4 pitches and is out of the inning on 7. You don’t see something like that everyday.

  14. Hill/fields gone. Pederson-hatcher gone. Forsythe-ravin 60 dl segedin- either Utley gone or either to 60 day dl or gonzo 10 dl. what do u think. we still have ryu/kazmir/and stewart on dl

  15. hill, Pederson, forsythe, and segedin coming off dl who goes down. fields, hatcher, ravin 60 dl, ethier 60 day dl. gonzo and Utley are close to dl or dfa.

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