Nomar wasn't a Dodger very long but he had a huge impact on the team in the three years he spent with us. In 2006 he was one of Ned's first FA signings, and at the time it looked like a huge risk. Nomar was coming off of multiple injuries and had barely totaled 100 games combined in 2004/2005. Even stranger Ned signed him to play 1st base a position he had never played before.
Prior to 2004 Nomar had been one of the most deadly hitters in the game but his game seem long removed from those glory days. Things did not start out well. In Nomar's first opening day, he hurt himself in the batting cage, and missed the first 17 games. All the cynics of the signing were doing plenty of "I told you so's" but once Nomar got healthy he shut the cynics down in fast order. From April 22nd to July 13th Nomar maintained an OPS over 1.000 and quickly became the fan favorite at The Ravine. Things went south for Nomar after that as his OPS fell from over 1.000 to .872 by the end of the year. However that trajectory does not tell the entire story. Nomar was the + 1 in the most famous regular season game in LA Dodger History , and he followed up those dramatics with a walk off grand slam six days later. He wasn't done yet, hitting a three run home the following day. In the heat of the pennant race Nomar drove in 9 runs in three games helping the Dodgers win two key games very late in the season.
In 2007 Nomar was brought back to play 1st base and the blogging crowd howled with the horror of keeping James Loney in AAA. The same crowd by the way who would replace James Loney in the blink of an eye today. The daily Dodger fan however was thrilled to see their favorite player coming back. The Dodgers even built a marketing campaign around Nomar featuring him in a super hero like Van Mural. Luckily for the Dodgers they didn't have faith in Wilson Betemit as the 3rd baseman, and after Nomar had started at first base from opening day until June 21st they moved Nomar from 1st base to make room for James Loney. We have talked about Loney's road/home splits but in 2007 Loney had nothing on Nomar. Nomar had some of the largest Home/Road splits I'd ever seen. No wonder the Dodger fans liked him, when he was home he hit, on the road he may have been the worst hitter in baseball. Home - .325/.385/450 Road - .243/.272/297
The naysayers of course focused on his dismal road numbers and said he was done, others pointed to his home numbers and said he still had something in the tank. Either way his 2007 season was a huge disappointment but he had signed a two year deal in the winter of 2007 so he was coming back in 2008 no matter what.
In the spring of 2008 Nomar was the de facto 3rd baseman getting nominal competition from Andy LaRoche the highly touted minor league prospect. Just like Loney the Nomar detractors felt that Nomar was holding back Andy LaRoche. No one was a bigger Andy LaRoche supporter than the prior manager of TBLA. He hung his hat on the wrong guy. He may have been right about Nomar being done, but he turned out to be dead wrong on the capabilities of Andy LaRoche. However to the dismay of Dodger fans neither one was the Dodger 3rd baseman to start the year due to a freak accident that saw both Nomar and LaRoche get sidelined in the same spring training game. This game had huge future ramifications for the Dodgers. With the veteran sideline, and the hot prospect sidelined the Dodgers turned to Blake DeWitt to play 3rd base. Nomar was only sideline for the first two weeks of the year and came back by April 18th. Of course this was the brittle Nomar and he only lasted a week before going down for 10 weeks. In those 10 weeks he was gone DeWitt had some ups and downs and ultimately was sent back to AAA when LaRoche was ready on June 11th. Nomar was activated on July 4th and instead of playing 3rd base actually saw time at SS. LaRoche did nothing to impress and with Nomar being so brittle the Dodger felt they needed a real 3rd baseman. Thus they traded Carlos Santana for Casey Blake and parlayed Andy LaRoche into Manny Ramirez. Nomar saw alot of time at SS in Aug but with injuries plaguing him became a part timer in Sept. In the 2008 playoffs he had three singles in seven at bats and that was the end of the Nomar era here in Los Angeles.
He was never as bad as his critics claimed, he was never as good as the Dodger faithful thought. He was however a good Dodger, and if only he had been able to stay healthy just a bit longer in 2008 we might still have the one player we have traded who I miss everyday even though he has yet to play one single major league game. I just wanted to write about the Guitar.
Thanks for 2006 Nomar, it was a hell of a ride. We might have been off letting you walk after that and who knows what the future would have been if we had done so but for that one year, you gave us our money's worth.