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Tag Archives: Andy LaRoche

Look, I know things aren’t all that rosy for you these days. I understand the economy’s in the tank, and people just don’t have the sort of discretionary income they used to.

And then there’s that whole “we lost our NBA license” thing on top of the “we lost our Yu-Gi-Oh license” thing.

I also understand you tried to undercut and sneak your way into other related business transactions. But hey, that’s the business world. And as we’ve grown accustomed to seeing, seems like nobody in the business world really operates ethically, or for that matter, politely any more.

I get it. Things at Upper Deck just aren’t what they used to be. But good grief, great googly moogly, and for the love of all things good and beautiful, there is just no excuse for this monstrosity.

hamilton1

I normally use a much smaller size when inserting scans. But a smaller scan would’ve made this card somewhat forgivable. I don’t know how much UD is paying their photo editors these days, or if they even still employ any, but this is the absolute worst photo I’ve ever seen used on a trading card. I can’t imagine how Linda Hamilton or her representatives would’ve reacted had they known this is what they had signed for.

I mean, this is the mother of the Resistance, Sarah Connor herself! She looks like some freakish Madonna lookalike!

The only that kept this pack from being a complete waste was this card.

laroche1

But even Free Andy can’t save yet another mediocre offering from the UD design crew. 2009 is clearly the Year of the X, as SPx, Spectrum, and of course, the much-beloved X all share the harsh, jarring X-centered motif.

Just like I’ve wondered with bailout babies GM, Chrysler, CitiBank, and now Upper Deck, you almost wonder if the market would be better off without companies like them putting out such mediocre goods.

Eight cards per pack/24 packs per box
Base set completion: 244 of 500 (48%)

Insert set completion
New Age Performers: 2 of 15 (13%)
Baseball Flashbacks: 2 of 10 (20%)
News Flashbacks: 1 of 10 (10%)
Then and Now: 2 of 10 (20%)
Chrome Parallels: 5 of 100 (5%)

Short Print set completion (426-500): 8 of 75 (11%)

Hits”

millwood

heritage_scans

Impressions

It’s the end of February, so we all know that means it’s time again for Topps Heritage. This year, the very colorful 1960 design is resurrected. I can’t complaing about the design — it stays true to the original.

What I will complain about is the return of lazy Topps photography. Just when you thought Topps had done away with all of their lovely spring training photos, they come back with a vengeance in this year’s iteration of Heritage.

Take a look at card number 5, Andre Ethier

ethier

Clearly a spring training shot, and probably taken at the former Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. Does the photo look familiar? It should!

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Here’s Andre in 2008 Heritage, looking the other direction, but likely standing in the same spot (and with the older version of his signature as well).

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And here’s his card from the 2008 All-Rookie subset, but with a bat this time. Really Topps, would’ve it been that hard to find good headshots of these guys? I mean, you did it for THIS guy!

laroche

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a perfect example of a good photo to use on a trading card. Happy Andy, enjoying his freedom, and making me think “2009 Heritage is awesome, really.”

This particular box delivered all the advertised insertion (SPs, inserts) ratios, and included the essentially worthless Kevin Millwood gamer. Given that the hits out of this set are essentially pointless, you’d think DACW/Blowout/Charm City would all be selling at MSRP, but no. As of today, their 09 Heritage prices are $15 above MSRP at $80. So unless you can find someone to sell these boxes at MSRP, it’s going to be a pricy go to finish this year’s set.

So other than the usual Topps photography issues, Heritage once again is what Heritage has always been — a set collector’s trammel (STUPID SHORT PRINTS) and treasure all rolled into one.

beltre_mcgriff

My last post re-started Adrian Beltre thoughts. Beltre was easily one of my favorite Dodgers from his eye-opening first full season in 1999, his botched appendectomy in 2001, and his monster career year in 2004. I totally believed he, Gary Sheffield, and Shawn Green were as good a power trio as anyone else in the league.

Well, Adrian had a little trouble after his looking even better in 2000. Before even playing a game in the 2001 season, he was out long-term, suffering from the aftereffects of an appendectomy gone wrong. Now why a major leaguer would choose to be operated upon in a 3rd world country when he has the option of using any doctor the team has access to is beyond me.

Adrian more than faltered from 2001-03, failing to post an OPS+ greater than 100 until 2004. Of course, by that point, it was too little too late. The Dodgers had apparently invested enough in him, and Adrian chose to sign the Mariners’ offer, which was worth slightly more than the Dodgers’ offer.

Since then, the Dodgers have trotted out four opening day 3B in four years (05: Jose Valentin, 06: Bill Mueller, 07: Wilson Betemit, 08: Blake DeWitt) and will trot out a fifth (Casey Blake) in this fifth year. And let’s not forget everyone else who’s logged time at the hot corner since — Norihoro Nakamura, Olmedo Saenz, Mike Edwards, Oscar Robles, Antonio Perez, Willy Aybar, Ramon Martinez, Julio Lugo, Cesar Izturis, Joel Guzman, Wilson Valdez, Tony Abreu, Nomar Garciaparra, Shea Hillenbrand, Russell Martin, and of course, Andy LaRoche.

That’s 16 different third basemen since Beltre departed for the Pacific Northwest!

While his contract at the time, not to mention his irregular play — presumably requiring mideseason 3B acquisitions such as Robin Ventura and Tyler Houston — didn’t exactly leave me pining for Beltre. But the revolving door since then does make you wonder how different things would be if AB were still around.

And I can’t forget who Beltre’s sharing baseball card real estate with either. Such a sad story was Fred McGriff’s one and only season with the Dodgers. To that point, Crime Dog played in more than 144 games in all but two seasons of his long career. Unfortunately for the Dodgers and McGriff, 2003 was not like the others. In a year in which he should’ve joined the 500 HR club, he instead languished on the bench, beset by injury. McGriff belted 13 homers as a Dodger, but he was still nine short of the milestone.

Much was expected of the Dodgers’ corner infielders coming into 2003, and sadly, they did not produce.

These three beauties were among the many other surprises left by my postman this afternoon.

2005 Prime Patches Hideo Nomo

nomo_pp

This card is so awesome, so beautiful, so much better than any other GU card of Nomo that I currently have. It took a long time to finally hammer out a deal to acquire this, but it’s now mine.

2006 SP Authentic By the Letter Chad Billingsley

billingsley

For some reason, I can never find Chad Billingsley BTL patches at a reasonable price on eBay. So when the opportunity came to divest myself of a totally unwanted gold refractor autograph in exchange for these cards and others, I had to capitalize!

For what it’s worth, I doubt I’ll be finding Matt Kemp’s 08 SPa BTL patches at any better of a rate. I did manage, however, to acquire “LAROCHE,” with most of them costing less than 10 dollars.

2006 SPx Rookie Signatures Chad  Billingsley

billingsley_spx

Add another autograph card to my collection. Only James Loney, Clayton Kershaw, and Blake DeWitt remain of the Dodgers’ young stars that I don’t have an autograph card.

Dioner Navarro

Edwin Jackson

Willy Aybar

Not to mention Justin Ruggiano, Joel Guzman, and Sergio Pedroza. Okay, maybe I don’t miss those three THAT much. But Jackson, Aybar, and Navarro … so, who did Ned Colletti get in return for these guys again?

Did these guys get LaRoched? Or did they get Hee-Seop Choid? Or did Andy LaRoche get Navarrod?

And then there was the one who got away …

Not too many remember this, but David Price, he of striking out J.D. Drew with the bases loaded and the go-ahead run on first fame, was nearly a Dodger.

He was picked in the 19th round of the 2004 amateur draft, the same draft that produced Blake DeWitt, Scott Elbert, and Cory Wade. However, Price never signed, along with other future standouts such as Joe Savery (15th round) and Jeff Larish (13th round).

But hey, that’s like, four years ago. Still, imagine a 2009 rotation of Billingsley – Kershaw – Price – McDonald – Kuroda. DROOL.

Mr. LaRoche finally has his freedom. I don’t know if he’ll be anything more than he is now. Regardless, this is yet another example of the mindlessness of the Dodger front office.

Dodger problems:

– J.D. Drew leaves for greener pastures (and honestly, do you blame him?)

– In response, Ned signs an aging, over-the-hill Luis Gonzalez, and outbids his old boss for Juan Pierre, at the bargain basement price of 5/45.

– Gonzo whines about the kids being better than him and taking his PT, and Juan Pierre is, well, Juan Pierre.

– Looking to address the fact that Juan Pierre is Juan Pierre, Ned signs Andruw Jones to 2/36 and moves Slappy McPopup to LF.

– Andre Ethier blisters the crap out of the ball in spring training, forcing them to play him.

– Joe Torre plays Slappy anyway.

– Fat Andruw sucks on a historic level, and Slappy is still Slappy. Meanwhile, Ethier and Matt Kemp are quietly the team’s best two OF.

– Hoping to address Fat Andruw’s historic suckiness, the Dodgers trade away Andy LaRoche and Bryan Morris for Manny Ramirez, forgetting that Manny’s gone after this year, and so are Casey Blake, Nomar, and Jeff Kent — meaning there’ll be vacancies at 2B, SS, 3B, and LF. And there’s no one left to fill the vacancy at 3B, since you know, Andy LaRoche is gone. I suppose Blake DeWitt and Ivan DeJesus/Chin-Lung Hu can take over at 2B and SS, respectively, but do you really think Joe “I had Tony Womack DH and Miguel Cairo at 1B, not to mention am convinced that Slappy’s .299 OBP is evidence he ‘knows how to lead off'” Torre is really going to hand over the reins to the kids?

For all the hand-wringing about the “Dodger Way,” it doesn’t appear that Ned is interested in following it. That is, unless, the “Dodger Way” is loading up on marginally useful veterans with ridiculous contracts and tossing aside useful resources (i.e. pre-arbitration youngsters) like yesterday’s garbage.

Time will tell whether or not Manny for LaRoche is another Delino for Pedro or another Shaw for Konerko. But do you really expect this one to turn out well for the Dodgers? Two months, max, of Manny’s HOF bat — yes, that’s a great thing. But will it make that big of a difference for them down the stretch? How many more wins is he worth? Two, three, maybe five? Will that even be enough to catch the Diamondbacks? And if they do, what happens in the playoffs?

The Dodgers traded six cost-controlled years of LaRoche & Morris for two months of Manny. Adding Manny makes them  better for sure, but I’d say anything short of an NL pennant would make this trade a disaster for the Dodgers, considering how many more holes they’ve now created.

More than that, it displays a commitment not to the continued long-term success of the team, but a dependency on win-now thinking. It demonstrates that the Dodgers are more than willing to impede the progress of their own players, so long as they dominate the headlines. And it can’t be more than headlines, especially considering the really, marginal difference Manny will make. Is there anyone who thinks the Dodgers make this deal if the Angels hadn’t acquire Mark Teixeira the day before?

It shows a commitment not to the vague notion of the “Dodger Way,” which I presume to be developing your own stars, but rather, a commitment to whatever the flavor of the moment is. The Dodgers suffered through this same thinking under Fred Claire and Kevin Malone, and it’s apparent things still haven’t changed under Ned’s control.

Well, now that Andy’s free, it’s time to set the sights on getting Andre Ethier off the bench.

Andy LaRoche, in the eight days since being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas: eight plate appearances and 17 innings in the field. Because you know, Luis Maza is THAT good.

As of Monday, he’s free!

Of course, the question is, “Will he do more than ride the pine?” We shall see!

Even in his best year, his AL ROY-winning 2003, Angel Berroa still only managed a pedestrian .789 OPS. In 332 plate appearances for Triple-A Omaha, Berroa had a .797 OPS. While that certainly is an improvement over Chin-Lung Hu (.430) and Luis Maza (.585), was it really worth spending the $500,000 the Dodgers will pay to buy out Berroa’s option for 2009?

Silver lining? Acquiring Berroa probably signals the end of Chin-Lung Hu’s time with the big club. Hu just looks flat-out awful at the plate, and should benefit from some time in Las Vegas. In a perfect world, Mark Sweeney and Luis Maza would join him as well. But the Dodger world under Ned Colletti has been far from perfect.

I expect Hu to be sent down, and with no backups to incumbent 3B Blake DeWitt, Andy LaRoche should finally be recalled to L.A. If Rafael Furcal can return on June 17th as the club seems to think, that should also signal the end for Luis Maza, leaving Furcal and Berroa as the primary middle infielders, with LaRoche backing them up.

Still, you can’t help but be amused when you hear four-time World Champion manager™ Joe Torre say that he needs time to evaluate what Berroa can do. Um, Joe, I can do that for you, and save the club valuable time and money. Berroa sucks.

In spite of Berroa’s suckitude and Hu’s apparent need for a change of scenery, assuming Rafael Furcal is back in a week as anticipated, why even bother with Berroa? Hu’s defensive ability clearly outshines Berroa’s. And while Berroa is marginally better with the bat, any gain made there is erased by his defensive inability. Hu certainly could benefit from time in Las Vegas, but the Dodgers don’t benefit at all by having Berroa. They could’ve easily gone with a combination of LaRoche, Maza, Tiffee, and Hu to fill in for Furcal until he returns.

I love the Dodgers. I love baseball. But what I hate is the archaic, stuck-in-the-mud thinking that permeates baseball management. My baseball philosophy is much more in line with forward-thinking, statistically-inclined people such as Billy Beane, Paul DePodesta, Bill James, and is featured on websites such as Baseball Prospectus, The Hardball Times, and Dodger Thoughts, among many others. Essentially, I enjoy looking for a reasonable explanation for the innumerable vagaries of baseball. I enjoy reading about those who attempt to theorize why baseball is as exciting as it is for us.

As to the title, one of my favorite ballplayers, Andy LaRoche, is currently stuck in exile in Las Vegas (the Dodgers’ Triple-A team). He was sent there on a rehab assignment after he was injured in spring training. Halfway through that rehab, the Dodgers activated him, and then optioned him to the minors, wasting 10 days of rehab and an option year for LaRoche. Meanwhile, LaRoche, one of their best power-hitting minor league prospects languishes in Triple-A while the likes of Mark Sweeney, Andruw Jones, and Jeff Kent continue to feebly hit ground balls to NL infielders. All the while, Dodger management bemoans the lack of production on the major league club.

It would seem a very simple fix. No power hitters? Call up a power hitter. Of course, Blake DeWitt’s emergence has made this less simple (DeWitt and LaRoche are both third basemen). But if you can find time to play Kent/Sweeney/Jones, then you can cut bait on any of the three and find time to play LaRoche.