Aflac Duck: We'd like to thank Ned Colletti for joining us this inning to talk about his 4th place Dodgers.
Ned: Glad to be here
Aflac Duck: Ned, you seem to be taking a lot of unwarranted flak in LA for your current position. Given all the injuries you've suffered to the pitching staff, I would think your happy to be in the hunt at all.
Ned: That's right, losing Schmidt, Kuo, and Wolf has really made us scramble for some pitching but I think I did a great job in getting Wells and Loiaza, so were set for the stretch run.
Aflac Duck: Wells and Loiaza have certainly pitched some key games since you acquired them. At the beginning of year your rotation appeared to be eight deep. Do you think Loaiza will work out better then Schmidt, Wolf, Tomko, and Hendrickson have?
Ned: We ran into tough luck with Schmidt and Wolf. No one could have seen that coming. Brett has the stuff to be an all-star but he just couldn't get it done for us. We kept expecting him to pitch like he did in his rookie year, 10 years ago but he couldn't just catch the breaks. Hendrickson was having great success in the tough AL East when we traded for him last summer. For whatever reason that success hasn't translated over for us but all we gave up was a starting 22-year-old catcher, so no great loss. You have to take chances in this game to succeed.
Aflac Duck: Pierre has been criticized quite a lot in LA. I don't get it. He's hitting near 300 and look at all those stolen bases.
Ned: The critics are probably concerned with the OBP of 325 and the arm that only a ten year old computer geek would be proud of, but they are missing the intangibles that he brings to the table.
Aflac Duck: What would those be?
Ned: He shows up everyday ready to play
Aflac Duck: So, your saying most professional baseball players don't show up ready to play everyday?
Ned: No they do, I just love to say it because it sounds good. However none of them work as hard as Pierre does.
Aflac Duck: If he works so hard wouldn't he learn how to properly set himself when throwing to mask his deficiencies? Or learn how to take a pitch like Brett Butler? Or just get better at the things he's weak in?
Ned: No, he works hard at the things he's already good at. Everyday you'll see him working on his bunting, his base stealing, his smile, and his confused look when he's underappreciated. Those kind of things.
Aflac Duck: I see, and you're good with that.
Ned: Oh yeah, we didn't give him all that money for all those years because we wanted him to get on base. We just want him to do things he's good at.
Aflac Duck: Okay then, how about all these youngsters who seem to be leading your team back into the race?
Ned: The kids are all right
Aflac Duck: That is it?
Ned: Yeah, the kids seem to be getting much too much credit. The real credit goes to the veterans who are plugging away every day, not getting to high or to low. Gonzo, Kent, Nomar, Furcal, Sweeney, and Pierre have really been the backbone of our team.
Aflac Duck: Reallly!!!, so Kemp, Loney, Etheir, Billingsley and Martin aren't the reason your still in the race?
Ned: Martin has been great, he plays like a veteran. This is his 2nd season so I consider him a veteran. I can't say enough good things about Martin.
Aflac Duck: That's interesting, because you know Matt Kemp has been your most productive hitter.
Ned: I guess you could say that based on the numbers but the numbers don't show all the mistakes he makes. He's made more baserunning mistakes then I've got fingers, and he plays lazy, rarely hustling right from the box.
Aflac Duck: So you don't think his OPS+ of 130 and his gun in RF make up for his bad baserunning and occasional laziness?
Ned: Not sure what an OPS+ is but there is no doubt Kemp can hit. We just need him to focus on the little things and then you'll see him playing everyday. If he could take his talent but play like Kent he'd be an all-star.
Aflac Duck: Begging your pardon, but are you talking about the Jeff Kent who ran you out of the playoff game last year and has made a few mistakes of his own on the basepaths recently?
Ned: That is just a case of being over aggressive. I have no problem with veterans being over aggressive as opposed to rookies making baserunning blunders.
Aflac Duck: I see
Aflac Duck: James Loney hit two home runs last night and is starting to make a case as a force in Sept. You must be thrilled to know he's going to be your 1st baseman for years to come?
Ned: Loney has been great on the road but until he learns to hit at home I'm not convinced he's the long-term answer.
Aflac Duck: No question, Loney has struggled at home. It is interesting you've had two 1st baseman this year. One has struggled on the road but hit at home while the other hits on the road but struggles at home.
Ned: Whom are you talking about?
Aflac Duck: Nomar, he was terrible on the road, in fact I think his OPS was the lowest for any player in baseball.
Ned: No kidding, who knew? All I know is that Nomar hits when it counts.
Aflac Duck: Yes his RISP has been high all year, which has masked his dreadful season. Is that more important, a player who has a high RISP or a player who can hit no matter what the situation?
Ned: All I know is that I'm happy Nomar is back. Just like year he'll provide a big boost to this team.
Aflac Duck: True, Nomar did hit six home runs last year in Sept. Do you think he can do that again considering he's only hit six all year in over 400 at bats?
Ned: No, we don't expect Nomar to hit. Just his veteran presence will help us maintain focus so we don't make the little mistakes.
Aflac Duck: So, it is more important to have a veteran presence then someone who can actually produce?
Ned: Veterans produce in ways that can't be measured. I'm sure you've heard of PVL haven't you?
Aflac Duck:Yes, I believe it was 1st coined at DT where the biggest and smartest Dodgers fans hang out, but stay away while a game is underway, it turns into something worse then talk radio if things go bad.
Ned: I've heard of this DT. Frank brought it to my attention several weeks ago. When I checked out the site I didn't understand most of what they were talking about, however it did appear that Underdog & BHSPORTSGUY really know their stuff. The lead writer shows some skills and I bet if he hung out with Bill and TJ he'd really blossom, he just needs someone to give him direction.
Aflac Duck: Andy La Roche, who tore up the Pacific Coast League to the tune of 12 home runs in 90 at bats in July, finally got healthy and joined the team. He quickly made an impact with two huge doubles but I notice he hasn't played since his last double. Is he now sitting because he has no PVL? If so at what point does PVL kick in?
Ned: If we can get Nomar out on the field then we have to do it. Andy will be a fine young player once he learns how to handle the game at the major league level. Nomar and Shea have been there before so they know what is expected. Right now I'd say that Martin and Ethier have PVL since they were with us in 2006.
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