Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

‘And that’s why you don’t bunt with Matt Kemp on deck’

Tonight’s J. Walter Weatherman game, ending in a 2-1 Dodger loss to the Giants – who turned four double plays, is ably recapped by Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A.

In an otherwise strong tenure as Dodger manager, the overuse of bunting is by far Don Mattingly’s biggest weakness.

Clayton Kershaw started shakily, ended up pitching eight strong innings, but saw his 10-game winning streak and 12-game home winning streak end. Javy Guerra pitched a 1-2-3 ninth – in a situation that, yes, you normally use your best remaining reliever. If you enter the ninth inning tied or trailing at home, there’s no more save opportunity.


Casey Blake retires


Overwrought reaction to Guggenheim ‘lie’ misses point


  1. So angry about this game (well perturbed, not angry, to be precise) that I’ll change subject to something else that I’m angry about…
    How is Capuano not on this list?

    • Anonymous


    • Anonymous

      He got added as #26 in the “oops dept” at the bottom of the list.

  2. Anonymous

    I blame Kershaw for agreeing to pose for that photo in Lincecum’s headlock. Kershaw will now go 0-5 against the Giants this season.

  3. I have generally been positive about Don Mattingly. He seems to have the respect of the players, and their focus seems to be there, game to game. But….as time goes on it’s clear that he’s pathetic at the tactics of managing offense in today’s major leagues. He must think outs grow on trees. The Uribe bunt was bad enough…but the Ellis bunt suggested something deeper: a lack of managerial awareness and preparation. The choice was essentially this: do you want to have Kemp hit against a tiring Ryan Vogelsong or do you want Ethier to hit against one of the toughest LOOGY’s in baseball, Javy Lopez. The choice he made was inane. I’m convinced he had no idea who Lopez was, and he made no effort to think ahead. Don Mattingly put a bullet behind the ear of that inning, and may have cost the Dodgers a game.

    Being a manager is kind of like being a doctor. The rule is “first, do no harm”. But good old “paint by the numbers Don” continues to do harm, game after game.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve also generally been okay with Donnie, but there are times when I wish he’d grow out of his WWJTD bracelet.  

  4. Anonymous

    I’m right there with you on this, Jon. Donny frustrates me to no end with his often ‘misuse’ of the bunt not just ‘overuse’. There have been times when he should have bunted and did not, like a squeeze or safety squeeze when we need to score, especially with a good to decent bunter at the plate and someone who isn’t slow @ 3rd. 

  5. This game made me sick to my stomach.

  6. Anonymous

    For me…. not too much to comment on concerning last night’s game…
    -VogelSong:  Nice outing. 
    -The Dodgers (especially Ethier) had their chances.
    -Vogelsong was pounding the zone….trying to get up in the count, and for some reason, a good number of Dodger hitters were taking the first pitch or two…when the best pitches they would see would be the 1st and/or 2nd. So many Dodgers having to swing with 2 strikes.
    -You knew they’d walk Kemp… but, Ethier’s gotta get it done.  Didn’t happen on this night.
    We move on!  :-)

    • MillaRed

      Uhh, no. You do not take the bat out of Kemp’s hands. Period.

  7. Anonymous

    I am less disturbed by the bunting than I am at Mattingly’s insistence that he would do it all over again.

  8. Anonymous

    Josh Hamilton not only has a four homer game, but he has five homers in his last six at bats. And the one where he didn’t homer, he hit a double.

    Wei-Yin Chen, you’re up next.

  9. Anonymous

    I will say one thing about Ethier…
    Watch tonight…the way the Giants pitchers approach him.
    He likes to get up in the count by taking a pitch or two….. They hammer the strike zone early.
    Their “out pitch” is to “bust him” inside … Hey, it worked last night as he grounded into 2 rally-ending double plays….
    Poor Andre.  :-( 

    • Anonymous

       At any given AB, Andre will decide to take a pitch or two before he even sees it…
      (and, I’m not talking just 3-0 counts)
      He won’t even look like he was ever going to swing as he takes the pitch…
      It’s pretty obvious when you see the disappointed (concerned) look on his face when a pitcher gets one of these pitches over for a strike… (It’s subtle, but it’s something I notice)
      BTW – this is not a dig on him at all… Look at his career… He’s been very, very effective.

  10. Regarding first comment here, I have to give credit to Jon Heyman for once–he responded and agreed with me.

    @DKnobler @JonHeymanCBS That C Capuano isn’t on this FA list is a huge oversight, imho. Been a steal so far. 4-0/2.21/k per IP.Jon Heyman ‏

    @JonHeymanCBS@craigary you are correct. capuano should have made it

    • Anonymous

      He got added as #26 in the “oops dept” at the bottom of the list.

  11. Anonymous

    Ok… since I’m thinking about it…. One more comment…

    I have no problem with the bunt, and subsequent anticipated walking of Matty Kemp….
    Looking ahead a couple of AB’s, if I were Donny Ballgame, I would have been thinking to myself…

    Ok.  we’ll have the bases loaded with Andre at the plate. 
    There will be more pressure for the pitcher to throw a good enough pitch, and not “bounce one” to the backstop.  Andre should get a really good pitch to hit.  And, I’ll take my chances with Andre Ethier, bases loaded, and 1 out…..

    • Against a lefty, with Tony Gwynn on deck? That’s where it gets particularly dicey. 

    • Anonymous

      My thought too Jonny.  Etheir up with bases loaded one out or a chance Ellis doesn’t do more harm than good by hitting away.  With less than two outs and a runner on third, so many things can happen.  I don’t fault this call, nor do I fault Ethier.  This one just happened.

      • Anonymous

        I just don’t think that you as a manager can take the bat out of Matty’s hands, and waste an out to accomplish such.

      • Respectfully, I disagree. Ellis is a contact hitter so there were plenty of options for Mattingly, particularly the hit and run. I have two problems with the sequence:
        1. Giving up outs late in the game. This is not a percentage play.
        2. Willfully taking the bat out of Kemp’s hands and in effect choosing to put it in the hands of Ethier against one of the toughest lefty relievers (against left handed batters) in the game.

        The argument that drives me crazy is Mattingly stressing how many RBI Ethier has, as a way of justifying his decision. RBI totals are utterly and completely meaningless. What MATTERS is that, against Lopez, Ethier probably becomes a below average hitter.

        • Anonymous

          I agree that the hit and run is superior to the bunt, and that Ethier might be a below average hitter against Lopez (especially as opposed to Kemp v. Vogelsong). But I do not agree that RBI are meaningless – they may be overrated but, given equivalent opportunities, a hitter like Ethier is far likelier to drive in runs than, say, a Juan Uribe.

          • Ethier is a better hitter than Uribe because he’s a better hitter than Uribe. It has nothing to do with how many RBI he has.

          • Anonymous

            You’ve got it exactly backwards: Ethier has more RBIs than URibe because he’s a better hitter.  He has earned the opportunity to hit behind Kemp (and thus drive in a guy who’s constantly on base) by succeeding in that role more often than Uribe.  RBIs are a crude shorthand for how good a hitter you are, even though they don’t tell the whole picture. 

          • Anonymous

            My other thought on this is simple…

            Everybody on that Dodger bench knew the situation…
            And, if he’s anything, Mattingly is big on “supporting his players”…
            If he would have worked it any other way, it would have been obvious to everybody, especially Ethier, that he was avoiding a situation that put the game in Ethier’s hands….And, I think this very obvious and deliberate manipulation of that inning by Mattingly was a big show of confidence in Andre.  I’m sure he really appreciated that.  And, I’m sure he wanted to return the favor to Donny and his teammates very, very badly.  I like this move this early in the season. 
            To me, it says, “Hey, Matty’s great…but, we trust in  Andre as well.” As the season goes on, I think only good things can come from this.

          • Anonymous

            JonT – So Ellis don’t have feelings?

        • vs a tough lefty he was then able to send up a guy with  .669OPS for career vs lefties, followed by one with a .587OPS and then one with a .663 OPS if those two HAPPENED to fail. All three guys for their career have OBP vs lefties around .300 and all three have hit about .240 off them. Seems legit.

        • Christopher Staaf

          Javier Lopez makes a lot of left handed hitters look stupid. The Giants don’t have a World Series without Lopez. 

          Having said that, I do agree that Mark Ellis should have allowed to swing away and not bunt. While Ellis isn’t exactly setting the world on fire with men on base, he is still a good contact hitter. I dunno if Vogelsong had anything left for Ellis. But even if Vogelsong struck Ellis out, it’s one out with two men on with Kemp coming up. Chances are Bochy has his pitcher intentionally walk Kemp anyway but you never know. 

          • Anonymous

            We are all looking back with hindsight only on the actual outcome.  What if Ellis swings and hits into the double play himself?  Kemp still gets walked.   Ellis flies out or stikes out, so they gingerly pitch around Kemp and the siutation ends up the same.  If you can’t trust your #4 hitter to drive in a run with bases loaded and one out, there are far bigger problems than the #2 hole bunting.  The right decision as made and the outcome wasn’t as hoped. 
            And as much as I hate to say it, how about giving Lopez credit for making a good pitch to induce the ground ball.  This can’t all be about Ethier and/or Mattingly failing, the other side also had a job to do and executed.
            ** I do not give permission for the Chronicle to publish any of this.  Now let’s beat the hell out of Lincecum tonight.

  12. Anonymous

    Hamilton is one extra base hit shy of the record for consecutive extra base hits, 7, held by Elmer Smith and Earl Sheely who did it in 1921 and 1926 respectively. The last player with 6 straight XBHs was Larry Walker in 1996.

  13. Anonymous

    See all this above conversation about the game last night??????
    This is what I love…..  Baseball talk with the guys….especially fellow Dodger fans!!!!
    We have the tv’s on in the office….
    And, I just came from seeing a morning show debate on some reality show.  Ugh!
    Thank God for DT… :-) 

    • Anonymous

       “TG4DT” ….

      Jon Weisman… this could be a good vanity license plate for your car. 

  14. Adam Luther

    Dee Gordon needs to draw at least two walks today (Lincecom has been eratic)
    and forget about bunting for a base hit.  I’m pulling for the guy – but he’s got to be more patient.

    His percentage of K’s in relation to total AB’s (strikeout %) is 16.4%.  Walks to AB’s…5.7%.  Those two stats need to be closer together, and we all know he strikes out (20 K’s) more than he walks (7).

    The Dodgers should have been in a position to already be 2-0 in the series facing the Giants ace today…instead it’s the rubber game.

    •  Why does he need to forget about bunting for a base hit? Dee should be as patient as he can, but whatever Lincecum’s done this season, I don’t think Dee can go up there expecting to walk. For him, bunting might be his best weapon tonight.

  15. Dave Cameron has a good article on the whole sac bunt thing in Fangraphs.

  16. Anonymous

    I’m still scratching my head over the 7thplate inning. Wasn’t Kennedy available to bunt? He may not be much faster but he starts off a step closer to first. And why not replace Rivera with Gwynn when he was at second. Why have a guy with a tight hammy as the tying run?

    • Anonymous

       Using Kennedy might have forced Bochy to burn the lefty early.

      • Anonymous

        And that would have made the above discussion academic.

  17. Hi Jon,
    I have been offline for about a week and a half now, my old computer died. I am just now catching up on your posts and, frankly, am a bit surprised that you haven’t taken an official stance on the questions surrounding the new Dodgers ownership. While your history suggests that you, more often than not, distance yourself from the machinations of the business end of the team, this does appear to be a fairly growing story, wouldn’t you say? I mean, if Mark Walter “borrowed” 2.5 billion in cash from Guggenheim, which is not his, in order to consummate a sweetheart deal with McCourt, secret deal I should say, in a midnight back-room deal meant to push this thing through since neither Cohen nor Kroenke may have wanted anything to do with Frank, and now none of the other “owners” are willing to be transparent about it…Isn’t this cause to be concerned? Do they have the money to do anything at all, or are they simply waiting for the new TV contract money to come in, which Walter will very quietly “return” to Guggenheim partners?

    I would love to hear an official Weisman take on this, as a NPUT. :)

    • Anonymous

      Frank McCourt, master of the long con. But as I learned from watching “Grifters,” the long con never works.

      • Since Frank McCourt’s not really a master of anything, I’m gonna go with conspiracy theory and not worry about this very much. 

    •  I actually have something in the works, but not along the lines of what you’re thinking.

  18. foul tip

    From dodgers. com, a perceptive perspective: “Hook slide has gone by the wayside”

    How’s that for alliteration, or at least for spewing “Ps” all over the countryside?  ;-])

  19. Anonymous

    Until last night’s game, I didn’t realize that first AND second bases must be occupied for the Infield Fly Rule to be invoked.  The whole intention of the Infield Fly Rule is to prevent plays like Loney’s; I wonder why they don’t allow it with only a man on first?  (I’m not criticizing Loney though; kudos on him for knowing the rules and taking advantage of the situation.)

    • There’s no infield fly rule with only one runner on because the batter has the opportunity to run as hard as he can to first base.  There’s nothing holding him back.So in theory, it’s one out either way.  

      The infield fly rule exists because without out, two runners get held back, so that if an infielder drops the pop fly, he can get two outs for one even with the batter running hard.  But with one baserunner, the infielder can only get two outs if he earns them.

  20. Jack Dawkins

    I rather enjoyed TJ’s rant in the fishwrap this morning.  I think he has it exactly right.  The new owners need to be far more transparent and forthcoming, precisely because the last one was so shady.  That last line cracked me up too.

    • Anonymous

      That’s right. We shouldn’t let Magic set a pick for them.

    • Anonymous

      It is a private company.  I don’t think we, as fans, are owed any transparency, though it might be nice

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