Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 26, 2005
BASEBALL: Our Man Scott Erickson

The Dodger Stadium grounds crew could be even busier this summer.

Yesterday, Scott Erickson, the former 20-game winner and (as the Associated Press dutifully reminds us) loving husband of sportscaster Lisa Guerrero*, agreed to a minor league contract with Los Angeles and received an invitation to spring training. This signing, while financially low-risk, came with its share of questions. After all, Erickson only pitched 27 innings last season, as he battled back from shoulder operation. His injuries, combined with his age (36), hardly made him a prototype for a Dodger pitching staff that had Brad Penny, Darren Dreifort, and Edwin Jackson go out in pain.

But, at the same time, we shouldn't be surprised to see Paul DePodesta roll the dice, given the statistic du jour: groundball-flyball ratio. Derek Lowe, last year's AL leader in grass destroyed, is a prime example of how the Dodgers are valuing this category. So are Jose Valentin and Jeff Kent, both of whom have a penchant for hitting the ball in the air (indeed, the former had the lowest G/F in the majors at 0.53). Erickson, as some of us may recall, is himself adept at inducing grounders. In 1997 and 1998, he led the AL with ratios of 2.88 and 2.85. In 2002, his most recent full season, he posted 2.31 against a league average of 1.16. For his career, the number stands at 2.44.

It remains to be seen whether Erickson will find renewed success under Jim Colborn's tutelage, just as Wilson Alvarez and Jose Lima have. But, if he makes the team, Erickson can at least add to DePodesta's sample size and help the team figure out just how significant G/F truly is at Chavez Ravine.

*Incidentally, I met Ms. Guerrero at Dodger Stadium three or four years ago, when she participated in the Hollywood Stars game -- Billy Crystal's favorite park promotion.

Posted by Robert Tagorda at 11:25 AM | Baseball 2005 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (1)

Ah, Dodgers Stadium. Still the only major league baseball park I've ever visited. I'll probably remedy that situtation by going to Angels Stadium and Petco Park this season.

Posted by: BigFire at January 26, 2005 12:49 PM

Investing in Jeff Kent to play second base makes a lot less sense if you intend to have Derek Lowe and Scott Erickson in your rotation, even with Jose Valentin and Izturis in the infield.

Posted by: The Crank at January 26, 2005 1:13 PM

I don't necessarily disagree with that point about Kent, and for the record, I'm actually against the Lowe contract. But DePodesta's convinced that Kent's defense isn't as much of a drop-off from Cora's as people generally believe. In this sense, he agrees with Mitchel Lichtman, who said:

"Kent had a phenomenal UZR in 2004, +20 per 150 defensive games. Before that, his UZR was a few runs above average per year. So yes, using UZR alone, he projects to be a well-above average defensive second baseman. It appears that Depo does not disagree with that assessment. He probably uses a similar defensive rating system.

"Kent is not generally considered a good defender, although I have heard a few knowledgeable people say that his instincts and positioning are underrated. In Tango’s excellent Fan Scouting Report, the respondents have Kent rated quite low (and Cora high) in all categories. Who knows? UZR is not the gospel. All things considered, my best guess is that he is around average. For Dodger fans, let’s hope that UZR is right!

"Cora? Dazzle schmazzle! Seriously, UZR does not rate Cora very well. Interestingly, his UZR was much better as a SS in 2000 and 2001. It should be the other way around. Of course, that could just be luck (either good luck as a SS or bad luck as a 2B’man). How a player “looks” on defense can be misleading of course. In fact, players who make the spectacular looking (dazzling) plays are often overrated and vice versa. For example, there is a certain GG fielder whose first name is Der… Never mind."

We'll see, I guess.

Posted by: Robert Tagorda at January 26, 2005 1:42 PM

Any time my wife hears the name "Erickson" she immediately responds "is that the name of that good looking pitcher who went against the Braves in the series against Minnesota"?

He and Tom Brady make watching some sports with your wife difficult. :)

Posted by: RW at January 27, 2005 8:09 PM

I just happened on to your site from 6-4-2. I noted that your principal interests are baseball and politics. Just like mine. I thought "this should be interesting". Disclosure: I am a cradle to grave Dodger fan, and a moderate liberal, middle of the road Democrat who has had a lot of R friends from my time in a high government position in California. I was radicalized by the Clinton-hunting of the '90's, and can't imagine voting for anyone with an R after his name, even tho I did vote for Anderson in 1980. So I think I will stick to your baseball comments, because I respect a conservative, and some Republicans, totally partisan Republicans stir my blood in the wrong way. BTW, I love your links, blogroll, etc., altho your putting the New Republic on the left is out of date by lo these many years.
Good luck and good blogging.

Posted by: Don Burns at January 28, 2005 1:37 AM

Wouldn't you know it! Lisa Guerrero meets Scott Erickson and makes a bet that the Angels would beat the Giants in the 2001 World Series. She wins the bet and he has to fly down to Los Angeles where they both wine & dine at a restaurant in West Hollywood somewhere. They fall in love and marry a year ago. Now today, Scott Erickson is trying to keep his head above water trying to stay with the Dodgers. And Lisa you ask? What has Lisa G. been up to lately? Fasten your seatbelts guys! She has been doing.....INFOMERCIALS for a fellow named Mike Parnell who's hawking his so-to-speak trend-trading crap last time I checked on CNBC or MSNBC!! Jesus-God Almighty, you talk about going from the penthouse to the S***house in 15 minutes of fame!! I somehow get the feeling that she might have made a bad move with this on her part and it will cost her dearly in the long run. Now, Don't get me wrong, I hope she made some money in all this, but the bottom line is she could have done better......A LOT BETTER!!

Posted by: Robert Benjamin at June 27, 2005 3:48 AM
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