Missed the Point: Simers Doesn’t Understand Rebuilding Process


My disdain for the Los Angeles Times’ resident jester T.J. Simers is no secret. He’s far from the stereotypical cantankerous writer who bemoans the Dodgers when they make a decision he doesn’t like; he believes the team should adhere to his own ridiculous concepts of morality. Simers let the readers know how much the release of Garret Anderson in favor of Jay Gibbons bothered him, even though the production from Gibbons vastly overshadowed GA’s dismal output. He called Matt Kemp a baby because his agent explained the resistance his client felt from the coaching staff and front office to the media. He even criticized Manny Ramirez for some perceived arrogance, only because Ramirez refused to speak to the press. But Simers’ latest piece reveals just how out of touch he is with modern baseball, both in his expectations and his reasoning.

His article starts out with the explaining that Ned Colletti is either a liar or a bad judge of talent. Why?

"Read the list out loud of off-season acquisitions as I did to Colletti the other day: Jay Gibbons, Ted Lilly, Jon Garland; Tony Gwynn Jr., Juan Uribe, Vicente Padilla, Rod Barajas, Dioner Navarro and Hiroki Kuroda.“Which one of these is not a stiff?” I wanted to know."

I do not know what his definition of a “stiff” is. Is he expecting the team to sign only Hank Aarons and Nolan Ryans? Teams have role players, guys who fill specific needs a team like the Dodgers requires. Gibbons is a lefty bat off the bench. Garland is the number-five starter. Gwynn is a backup outfielder. But that doesn’t seem to be enough for Simers.

"Colletti and I went through the list of stiffs one by one. Gibbons is the former steroids guy, strictly a pinch-hitter. Lilly was 10-12 a year ago and the Dodgers have agreed to pay him more than $13 million three years from now when he’s 37. McCourt must figure the next owner will be on the hook for that one."

Ah, there it is. Simers only real explanation for why Gibbons is such a terrible player is that he used PEDs earlier in his career. He conveniently ignores the fact that Gibbons had an OPS of .819 in just 80 plate appearances last season and vastly outperformed all of the Dodgers’ backup outfielders on offense.

Then there is his reasoning for Lilly. While the three years is tough to swallow, a pitcher with his two lowest season-WHIPs coming in the last two years is hardly a “stiff.” Lilly has also had his best seasons in terms of K/BB ratio and BB/9 in the last two years, and he has pitched at least 30 games five of the last seven years. That doesn’t sound much like a stiff to me.

After waiving Juan Uribe away by suggesting Colletti has an affinity for portly players, he proceeds to rip through the Kennedy product Jon Garland.

"Garland is 25-25 the last two years after leaving no memories as a starter briefly with the Dodgers and earlier with the Angels."

Simers once again uses Win-Loss record as his defense, and he fails to see why the Dodgers added Garland: to eat innings. He’s no Roy Halladay, but nobody expects him to be an ace. Well, besides Simers of course. And then it’s Kuroda’s turn to feel Simers’ misdirected wrath.

"Kuroda is 28-30 in three seasons here, the Dodgers worried a year ago his arm might fall off."

Kuroda had an injury-plagued 2009, but part of that was a result of the line drive he took to the head in a game against Arizona. He pitched a full season this past year and had a 3.39 ERA. Kuroda was arguably the second-best free agent pitcher in a thin market this offseason, and his retention was a considered by many to be a coup for the Dodgers. But Simers decides to ignore that in favor of (sigh) Win-Loss record and an injury-laden season.

"Just to be clear here, I think the Dodgers are stockpiling garbage when they should be acting more like one of the game’s top franchises located in one of the country’s top cities.…Why can’t the Dodgers act more like the Red Sox and Yankees when it comes to improving their teams?"

“Just to be clear?” Because through this whole article the readers thought you were heaping praise on the acquisitions? Why can’t the Pirates act more like the Yankees or Red Sox? Why can’t the Braves, or the Twins, or the Giants, or even the Angels? Because those two franchises have the largest amounts of revenue by far of any team, thanks in large part to their own television networks. Besides, as recent years have shown, focusing all available money on just a few select players has not exactly worked out for Los Angeles (see: Kevin Brown, Andruw Jones, Manny Ramirez). Spending a lot on a few doesn’t translate to winning the way it has for the Yankees and Red Sox.

But that doesn’t matter to T.J. Simers. It’s either big names or big busts, and there is no in-between.