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« Some Numbers to Start | Main | Tough Enough »

June 28, 2005

Paul DePodesta

My husband calls him "Stupidesta." What the fans call him can't be broadcast on the air. But this month, I finally had the opportunity to talk to the man who traded away Adrian Beltre and Jose Lima and Paul Lo Duca.

It was a gathering around the pool at the Figueroa Hotel -- a kitschy, fake-moorish bar that was far too cool for a man wearing a suit. DePodesta is polite, quiet, exactly the kind of guy you'd imagine would feel more comfortable behind a keyboard instead of in front of an audience.

He talked about injuries, about a possible trade for another starting pitcher. But I wanted to talk about heart. It may not show up in computer statistics, but no matter what Billy Beane says, heart is a vital part of baseball. Certainly Jose Lima's cheerleading last year was an important part of what got the team into the playoffs. And here's the shock: DePodesta agreed with me. Not about Jose Lima -- he insisted said there are others on the team taking over the leadership role, passing it back and forth like a baton. But De Podesta didn't dismiss the importance of heart when he calculates the value of a player. Exactly how he computes that in his excell program, I don't know. I should have asked. But at least meeting the man face to face made him less of a machine and more of a flawed human being.

Now if he could only find us a pitcher who can stay off the disabled list.

Posted by Kitty Felde at 7:59 PM


Kitty, the problem with the Dodgers is not heart, no matter what Bill Plaschke of the LA Times says about them and Paul DePodesta. Mike Edwards and Mike Rose, who are both acquainted with DePodesta from the Oakland A's organization, had each toiled in the minors for 10 years before this season. Olmedo Saenz served for 8 campaigns in the minors before he received a substantial shot in the majors, also with the A's, and Antonio Perez is yet another player who has logged a number of years in minor league ball.

Then there's Wilson Alvarez, who had won over 70 major league games by age 27, only to disappear in the baseball netherlands of Tampa Bay, where he lost 2 seasons to injury before battling his way back into the big leagues. This is a plucky team that has been built around some talented players like Jeff Kent, the consummate professional ballplayer, and the mercurial Milton Bradley and quiet J.D. Drew.

What I'm saying is, people should root for these guys and forget the likes Adrian Beltre and Jose Lima, both of whom left as free agents. Clearly DePodesta looks for players who have committed themselves to their profession. Beltre is talented, but I could never see him as a team leader. And Lima is entertaining, but his act is imploding in Kansas City these days, and who's to say it would not have happened here too.

Whether or not these Dodgers have enough talent to win can only be determined over the course of 162 games. It might not be pretty, but I'd rather pull for these Dodgers than root for the Yankees, a team that a good friend of mine and lifelong Yankee fan characterized as "a pack of mercenaries."

Posted by: Andrew Torres on June 29, 2005 10:27 AM

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