Luis Gonzalez Talking Trash

Sometimes one of the nicest guys in the clubhouse will suddenly turn when he gets old and grumpy--or his playing time is cut. Take, oh, say, Luis Gonzalez for example. The 40-year-old, who was signed as a temporary bridge to the younger members of the Dodgers ... Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp ... joined the two-man chorus along with nearly-40-year-old Jeff Kent, in flailing the clubs youth movement.

Gonzalez downplayed a clubhouse split between the veterans and young players and instead blamed a disappointing 2007 season on what he saw as a flawed organizational philosophy. His quotes are so bitter it is unbelievable.

"No More Mr. Nice-Guy" Gonzalez blames the organization for using Loney, Kemp, Martin and Ethier with complete disregard for the won-lost record that was being generated. Here is the words he used, presumably with a straight face on "The Dan Patrick Show":

"We went away from a game plan. We had no game plan. If you look at our record, we had the best record in the National League at the All-Star break.

"And we brought up a lot of young kids, and when they brought the kids up, they did well. There's no doubt these are all great young players. They were hitting .340, .350. (James) Loney, Kemp, (Russell) Martin, Ethier -- they're all great players, but we weren't winning games.

"They're getting three and four hits, but you're not winning games.

"So in baseball a lot of times people look at the numbers instead of the results, and the results for us were we were not winning games, but that's what the organization wanted. They wanted to develop these young kids.

"And instead of us going out there and winning games, we ended up finishing in fourth place and the fans are ticked off, and the organization is now going to continue to this youth movement, which is great for them."


Well, now, as Casey Stengel would say, "Let's look at the record."

Point. --"The Dodgers led the league at the All-Star Break."

Fact --They didn't actually take the lead until after the break and they held that lead for the next 16 games, piling up a 57-46 record. They finally hit a snag after winning the first game of a scheduled four-game set in Colorado. During that prime 13-game streak they started Furcal, Pierre and Loney all 13 games. Martin and Kent started 12 of them. Gonzalez 11, Ethier and Kemp 8 and the injured Garciaparra 7

At that point the club went into a 3-13 swoon and the same players were started in the exact proportion they had during the time they gained the lead, save Kent who was injured and missed seven of the games. Furcal and Pierre again played all 16 games. Martin, Garciaparra and Loney played 14, Gonzalez 11, Kent and Ethier 9 and Kemp 7.

Point --They brought the kids up and they did well but we didn't win games."

Fact-- It looks like, through good times and bad, the same basic unit dropped down to just one games over .500, and after leading on July 26, finished the season 25-32. Thus, even if they played the kids the entire final six weeks, they actually picked up a game from their season's low.

In truth, it is hard make a reasonable argument that if the youngsters hit so well it would have been prudent to keep the older players in the game (which they did until the final week or so in the season) during the losing streak.

Mr. Gonzalez should have checked the records over the final half of the season. He would have found that when they pitched well, they didn't hit. And when they hit well, they didn't pitch -- regardless of age. With the injuries they suffered throughout, the fact that they finished over .500 is something good to hold onto.

And if one polled the fans, who are much knowledgeable than some might think, the vote to play young Matt Kemp -- despite baserunning extravaganzas and wild swings at pitches out of the strike zone -- his many positives would have given him a 4-1 or 5-1 margin over playing either Gonzalez or Pierre for that matter --down the stretch.

And as for just plain stupid insult that the Dodgers were more interested in using young players than winning games, that is too absurd to even grace with a comment.

He Shudda' Never Left Home-- Red Sox fans would like to rid themselves of struggling former Dodgers closer Eric Gagné, after Game 2 of the ALCS where he took over in a 6-6 game in the 11th and gave up a single and a walk. Despite the fact that he left the game at that point, when Cleveland went on to score seven runs and take a 13-6 victory the fans ire was saved for the righthander. He arrived from Texas, having recorded a 2-0 record with a 2.16 ERA and over his 20 games in Beantown has seen his earned run average swell to 6.75 with three blown saves in three chances.

New Voice of the Dodgers-- The Dodgers have signed a broadcasting deal with 790 KABC that returns the Dodgers to their radio home from 1973-1997 and includes pre- and post-game shows as well as a weekly talk show for fans.

The multi-year contract will take effect on November 1, 2007 and grants KABC the English-language radio broadcast rights. In addition to broadcasting all 162 regular-season games and 15 Spring Training games, the highly-rated AM station will partner with the Dodgers on a fully-integrated marketing campaign, promoting the team on sister station 95.5 KLOS FM and in an outdoor advertising campaign.

KABC's radio signal covers all five counties in Los Angeles and the station will continue to provide the game broadcasts and pre- and post-game shows to the entire Dodger Radio Network, which includes nearly 20 stations across the state and country, including Bakersfield, San Luis Obispo, Palm Springs, Las Vegas, NV, Albuquerque, NM, Vero Beach, FL and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In 2005, USA Today ranked the Dodgers' radio broadcast team of Vin Scully, Rick Monday and Charley Steiner as the best in Major League Baseball based on a technical rating, a fan rating and an entertainment rating. Scully will return in 2008 for his 59th season as the "Voice of the Dodgers," the longest tenure of any current sports broadcast with one team. Monday and Steiner also recently signed extensions to keep the award-winning broadcast team in place through 2009.

Money Can't Buy Love -- or Pennants-- The Yankees, who spent over $190 million, the Mets who spent $115, along the Angels, Cubs, Dodgers and Seattle, either didn't make the playoffs or didn't make it to the final two rounds. Only Boston, who ranked No. 2 with a $143 million payroll, made the grade along with Cleveland (No. 23), Colorado (No. 25) and Arizona (No. 26). The Indians, Rockies and DBacks spent only $168 million total, $21 million less than the Yankees' entire outlay. As owner Frank McCourt said, "It isn't what you spend but what you spend it on."

And on the same subject, Ken Gurnick, of MLB.com, answering a question about long term contract and how they worked out, noted: "An appropriate word would be "disastrous." Over the last 10 years, the Dodgers have spent about $800 million on 37 multi-year free-agent deals and extensions. To show for it, they've won one postseason game (courtesy of Jose Lima, working on a one-year Minor League contract). The richest and longest contracts have gone to Kevin Brown, Shawn Green, Darren Dreifort, J.D. Drew and Juan Pierre (Brown, Dreifort and Drew were represented by agent Steve Boras). Of the first four, none of them were around to help the Dodgers when those contracts ended. Of the 37 players, the Dodgers dealt away 18 during the term of that contract, released three and five retired. The others are either still on the club or have left via free agency. You'd have a hard time finding more than a handful of those deals that any club official would say the club came out on the better end. In general, the longer the commitment, the more regrettable the deal for the club."

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