Friday, September 03, 2004

Free Hee Seop Choi, Part 2

The Dodgers faced a lefty today, so Hee Seop Choi didn't play, which I don't really mind. But over on Dodger Thoughts at All-Baseball.com there's a comment war going on incited by a comment that perhaps Choi should be benched for the rest of the season because he's "pressing." I don't know about you, but if I were a) constantly being derided for being acquired in a trade involving a popular player, including having all of my successes overlooked and all of my failures treated like signs of the baseball apocalypse and b) receiving dwindling playing time against right-handed pitchers and no playing time whatsoever against left-handed pitchers, I would probably be pressing too. If All-Baseball.com decided that Jon Weisman would cost too much in arbitration and traded him for me and I started receiving comments about how I used too complex sentence structure to be comprehensible and how I used too many stats that people weren't familiar with and how I didn't know enough about the 1958-1989 Dodgers and how I go into too many digressions about the minutia of Bruce Bochy's managerial strategy, I might start to press. If I were pressing, though, I imagine that the proper managerial response from Christian Ruzich would be to tell me that what they said in the short term didn't matter and that my stuff is good and I just need to keep doing what I do best (and eventually my complex sentence structure issues would resolve themselves). I imagine I would start to press even more if, on the other hand, Christian Ruzich told me that my first three weeks on the job weren't good enough and that he would assign a substitute on random days and that if my posts didn't get better the sub would do my blog more and more, I would start to press. And if Jon Weisman had instantly become the most popular Marlins blogger of all time after breaking the news on Carl Pavano's secret appendectomy, I would certainly press even more. So what do you think would happen if Christian told me that I was pressing too much and that John Weibe was going to take over for the rest of the season and that I had better change my whole approach for 2005? Would I train harder in the offseason? Or would I, perhaps, be discouraged? I really don't think it's fair to take out one's disappointment over losing a favorite player on another player. Hee Seop struggled with the Cubs last year when Dusty Baker didn't want to play him. He thrived with the Marlins when he knew he was going to play. Are the Dodgers just supposed to consider him a sunk cost and not invest anything more in him? And if the Dodgers had acquired Choi for Franklin Gutierrez, would Dodgers fans' reaction be the same as it is now?

Even with Choi going 0-for-4 in the Brandon Webb game, he's still been as productive when he's started as Werth/Ventura have when they've started against RHP in his place (Choi: 1.76 RC/27; Non-Choi: 1.68 RC/27). Plus, Choi has played against better quality pitchers:

Starting
Pitcher
ERAStarting Dodger
Peavy2.21Choi
Fogg4.71Choi
Abbot6.24Choi
Myers5.41Choi
Harang4.25Choi
Hancock4.98Choi
Maddux3.7Choi
Wood3.3Werth
Prior4.87Choi
Pavano3.09Choi
Burnett3.91Choi
Valdez5.23Werth
Ortiz3.86Choi
Thomson4.21Choi
Wright3.19Werth
Kim5.37Choi
Biddle7.17Werth
Armas3.86Choi
Livan
3.65Choi
Seo4.76Choi
Benson4.68Ventura
Webb3.55Choi



Total4.27Choi
Total4.71Non-Choi


I know there are better metrics than ERA, but I have a two billion word Adrian Beltre essay coming and Bob Bailey's stats aren't gonna check themselves. This is, of course, a tiny sample size, but if you don't like making decisions based on tiny sample sizes and you're arguing that Hee Seop shouldn't get to play... Anyway, if the Dodgers lead by six games a week from now, Hee Seop should not only be starting every game against right-handed pitchers but should be starting every game period. Hee Seop Choi is a high-yield investment, and especially if the Dodgers are gonna monkey around with Werth to try to make him a catcher again (as Ross Porter reported Jim Tracy said they might do if they have a big lead in a couple weeks) there's no reason not to let Choi work on his game against southpaws. And if you play him regularly and he gets hot he's definitely a better option than Werth in the playoffs against RHP. A few Werth homers against southpaws doesn't make him God's gift to hitting, you know.

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