July 20, 2005
In the eighth inning of Tuesday's game, Rick Monday and Al Downing were commenting on how Ryan Howard of the Phillies needed to work on his approach at the plate. Monday observed how Howard was flying open too soon. Downing noted that Howard was bobbing up and down too much and seemed intent on trying to hit every pitch out of the ballpark. Both announcers agreed that these were habits that Howard could get away with in the minors but not in the bigs, and clearly Brad Penny had exploited them earlier in the game as he had retired the young Philadelphia prospect on strikes on three occasions.
Unfortunately, Monday and Downing did not get word down to Yhency Brazoban before Howard's plate appearance in the 10th inning. Then again, Brazoban himself is but about a calendar year removed from the minors. He didn't expect to be the closer for almost the entire season, but that's his role on this ballclub, even if it is a prime-time role that he's far from ready for.
It would be merciful if the Dodgers could find somebody else to run out there to close a game. Brazoban's confidence has to be shaken, and while he might be the closer-in-waiting should Eric Gagne A) never return from injury, or B) come back for just that one year before taking the money and running, perhaps the best strategy is to look at the glass as half full, be optimistic about Gagne's return for next season, and let Brazoban remain in the key setup role.
With the Dodgers lacking a big offense, Brazoban still would see his fair share of pressure situations in the 7th or 8th innings. He just doesn't deserve the pressure of closing at this juncture of his career.
Now I'd like to ask resident Braves fan Kevin to answer a question for me? How are the Braves doing it? The injuries that they have suffered this season should be as devastating as those that have plagued the Dodgers, and yet they are right in the the thick of the race to win the NL East and are currently in the lead in the NL wild card race. Are the players the Braves had to call up from the minors that much better than the replacements the Dodgers have been relying on? Is it Andruw Jones? Is it something Bobby Cox is doing, or something Jim Tracy is not doing? Is it that Odalis Perez and Derek Lowe are pitching like they're competing for the biggest free agent bust award?
Posted by Andrew Torres at 9:06 AM
I agree about Brazoban. He looked genuinely rattled after Burrell's triple Tuesday night, so the big bomb from Howard wasn't that big of a surprise (especially to Dodger fans whose hearts and minds are taking quite a beating this season). But what choice is there? What reliever is out there to be traded for that could come in and solve the Dodgers' problems in these tight games? And even if there was one, Depo, if he's gonna do anything, ought to be looking for that (those) situational hitters you were talking about earlier and giving Brazoban a chance to shake off those jitters for real, or collapse for real-- neither has happened yet, and one is as much cause for comfort as the other is for distress. That said, tonight's 10-2 blowout sure felt nice, even if it doesn't translate into a streak or momentum of any significance. At least the Dodgers gained on SF and SD, and I had a hell of a good time listening to that big inning. As crummy as this division is this year, 85 games could win the whole thing, and all it'd take would be a week or so of San Diego and/or Arizona slumping Dodger-style to tighten things right back up again. The glass is definitely half full, but the refrigerator remains heavy!
Posted by: Dennis Cozzalio on July 21, 2005 8:52 AM