Jonathan Broxton’s A Starting Pitcher Now, I Guess

June 28, 2010 at 12:25 am | Posted in Clayton Kershaw, Joe Torre, Jonathan Broxton, Ronald Belisario, Ronnie Belliard, Russell Martin | 54 Comments

I wanted to talk about how Clayton Kershaw really showed something on national TV tonight, going seven strong innings while not walking a batter for the first time in his career. Then I was going to laugh a bit at the Yankee defensive ineptitude in allowing the Dodgers to score three runs in the second while barely getting a ball out of the infield, and finally I was going to ask someone to tell me when the last time was that the Dodgers dropped down three bunts in a row. And I really wanted to laugh about Joe Morgan referring to OPS, but rhyming it with “stops”.

But let’s not pretend anyone cares about any of that right now, because obviously all of the focus is on the disastrous ninth inning from Jonathan Broxton. Because, things I’m not looking forward to tomorrow? Idiot fans and bloggers (yep, there’s those too) pointing to this as some sort of proof that Broxton doesn’t have the “guts” or “courage” or whatever you want to call it to close, as though A) he hasn’t been awesome 97% of the time, B) he’s not more awesome than 97% of the rest of closers in baseball and C) the blame is his alone.

Look, Broxton wasn’t good tonight. Four runs, four hits, two walks – I’m not pretending otherwise, even if I do think that only a steroid-fueled Eric Gagne can reasonably be expected to go entire seasons without blowing games.  But there’s quite the laundry list of blame to go around here. Without totally absolving Broxton – who, again, was lousy – let’s run this down quickly.

Joe Torre. #1. In the 9th, Broxton was brought on to pitch for the 4th time in 5th days, two of which were for more than one inning, despite the Dodgers having a four run lead. As Eric Stephen will happily tell you, “the last 3 [games were] with win expectancies of 95.5%, 98.8%, and 98.8%” when he entered. The point being, those are the kinds of situations in which you bring on your lesser relievers, at least to start. Even if you don’t trust them – as Torre clearly doesn’t, other than Hong-Chih Kuo – if they run into trouble, then sure, bring on the big man. And no, I’m not suggesting that Broxton should only be brought into save situations (which he hasn’t seen since June 9) but you have to measure his usage a little more carefully, especially in all of these non-vital situations.

So when the lead was pushed to four on Rafael Furcal‘s 8th inning double, that’s when you pick up the phone to the bullpen and say, “you’ve pitched enough lately, Jonathan, especially yesterday. Sit down and we’ll let the other guys pick you up, and only bring you in if there’s a disaster.”

But no, Torre brings in the clearly overworked Broxton, and we’re supposed to act surprised that one of the best teams in baseball fouled off pitch after pitch, dropped in hit after hit, and patiently drew walks. Broxton eventually tossed 48 pitches, topping his previous career high of 44 set on July 3, 2006.

If there’s any takeaway from this, it’s this: Broxton has thrown 99 pitches since June 23rd. By comparison, the Dodger starting rotation since then has these counts: Kershaw 101 (tonight 6/27), Kuroda 110 (6/26), Padilla 111 (6/25), Haeger 102 (6/24), Ely 97 (6/23). Because apparently, Broxton is a starting pitcher now.

(update: As Plaschke Thy Sweater Is Argyle points out, Broxton was warming up in the one game of that five game stretch in which he didn’t enter. I can’t verify that, nor do I know how long he was up, but if that’s accurate it’s an even bigger indictment of Torre’s usage.)

Joe Torre. #2. Kershaw has one of the most effective outings of his career, not walking a single man (for the first time ever) and throwing just 101 pitches through seven, and just ten in the 6th, yet he’s not even allowed to start the 8th despite rookie pinch-hitter Colin Curtis leading off. Ronald Belisario came in and just narrowly avoided getting himself into trouble, but even that was largely thanks to a fantastic 3-6 double play started by James Loney. We may not get to find this out now since it’s going to be all Broxton, all the time, but I’d love to know why Torre yanked him so quickly.

Joe Torre. #3. Okay, I may be reaching a little bit here because I’m so down on Torre, but he put Garret Anderson into the game as a “defensive replacement” for Manny in the 9th. The mere thought of that sentence is laughable. Now of course, there’s no way Torre could have known that the game would go on, meaning that Anderson would bat 2nd in the bottom of the 9th rather than Manny, but since Anderson’s just as terrible of a fielder, the move was totally pointless. If you really wanted to improve the defense, send Matt Kemp out to center and push Reed Johnson to left. Otherwise, don’t even bother, and still have Manny available to hit in the 9th.

James Loney. With men on first and third and one out in the 9th, and the Yankees trailing just 6-5, Curtis grounded to first base. At this point, Loney has two choices. He can either throw to second, attempting to start a 3-6-3 DP and end the game, or he can immediately throw home, possibly starting a 3-2-3 DP, but cutting off the tying run regardless.

Yet Loney chose to step on the bag first and then throw to the plate, despite having the speedy Curtis Granderson on third. The throw wasn’t perfect and was going to be late anyway, as you can see in the lead picture of this post, and the game was tied. Had Loney done either of the two correct options, instead of choosing option #3, this game might have ended far differently. Loney’s been playing fantastically lately, so let’s not get on him too much – but this was a poor choice, magnified by the situation.

And of course, Broxton deserves his share of blame for such a terrible outing, and you can’t entirely ignore that. I’m sure he won’t be putting blame anywhere else but on himself, which is nice. Just remember when you read all sorts of internet idiocy (and dear god, now that the Lakers are done I can just hear Bill Plaschke cracking his knuckles, scraping aside the Twinkie wrappers and cans of Jolt Cola and getting ready to tackle this), that Broxton’s a human being who was incorrectly used by his supposed Hall of Fame manager. Because it’s going to get ugly.

Anyway, after all that, George Sherrill comes in to allow a dinger to Robinson Cano and, well, that part doesn’t matter so much. We all knew that was going to happen, didn’t we? (At least this guy on my Twitter did.)

******

This is going to get lost in the aftermath, but the 9th inning implosion deprived Kershaw of his 8th win, through no fault of his own. Wins are stupid. (Commenter dodgerbobble notes that if the Dodgers had come back in the bottom of the 9th, Broxton – of all people – would have gotten the win. Wins are doubly stupid.)

******

Russell Martin went 0-4 is now hitting .241/.349/.327, which is awful, yet he’s been allowed to catch more innings than anyone in the NL (and 2nd most in MLB). As I said on Twitter as he was being tossed for arguing a strike 3, “I think Martin cracking his bat on the ground was the most solid contact he’s had in weeks.”

This is going to require an entire post devoted to it, and soon, but for now let’s note that he’s 162nd of 173 qualified big leaguers in SLG, and the names below him aren’t exactly pretty (Pedro Feliz, Jason Kendall, and Gordon Beckham).

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  1. Love the title. Seriously you almost had me laugh there, so freaking close….

  2. Sick to my stomach, i was thinking “i hope he gives Miller a chance or someone else” i’m pretty sure Brox had thrown a lot recently………farewell to Sherrill you pitched great for us last year but IDK what happened, is there a drug habit we don’t know about? Death in the family? IDK but he should be gone. What if Ethier or Kemp do something with the bats? What if the ump tried to be fair? What if Coso is left in? What if Kershaw is left in? What if………well at least i was there last night and the IP series is tied at 3-3 so not too shabby when taking on this ridiculous All-Star team with more than double the payroll.

  3. Great stuff, and I totally agree with you on where the blame lies. There is absolutely no way that Torre should have left Brox in the game when he clearly didn’t have his best stuff tonight. Even after Brox gave up the tying run in the ninth inning to a rookie pinch hitter, Torre STILL left him in to finish off the inning.

    No excuses for Loney’s bone-headed play either. He had plenty of time to figure out what he was going to do and made a really bad judgement call.

  4. I know wins are stupid, but if the Dodgers scored in the bottom of the ninth inning, and Broxton got the “W”, that would have made this a lot worse.

    Torre needs to take the blame for this. He’s got a record of abusing relievers. I would hate to see Broxton become another one of those relievers.

    • Man, great point. Wins are the WORST.

  5. Un-fucking-believable. I last checked, we were in the 9th about to fucking win. THen I check later and see we are in the bottom of the 10th LOSING. WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED?!? Christ. Torre going away may not be such a bad thing. To be fair, I don’t trust Troncoso or Sherrill with a 10 run lead. DL troncoso….he could use the rest. SHerrill I am torn about. I dont want to toss him because he cost so fucking much to get. But he is really awful. Where the fuck is Link or the German? Or fucking hell, Lindblom?!? Its not like we don’t have relief reinforcements. Shitty shitty fucking loss. Im glad I didnt watch it.

    • He gave us a great couple months for a prospect that was overrated because we didn’t have another prospect to replace him. Go check out Josh Bell right now. I’ll take Sherrill.

      • A slumping Josh Bell is still ridiculously more valuable than Sherrill, it’s not even funny. If you’d really rather have Sherrill, you’re as out of it as Torre is.

  6. Kershaw could have gone eight, with Beli pitching the ninth, even with only a three-run lead. Very simple.

    • Agreed. No idea why Kershaw had to come out when he did.

  7. Russell Martin may not be hitting all that well but he’s been a lot better defensively picking up runners trying to steal. If he could just work on not backhanding balls and getting some hits. He would be solid.

    But I’m really impressed with him picking off batters this season.

    My only problem with Torre is he keeps giving Sherill way too many chances and everytime he blows it. We just called up John Link up from the minors let’s give him a chance. I agree Kershaw could have gone eight.

    Tonight was the one lost that really stung just as bad the blown save by Broxton in last years NLCS.

  8. To me, the ninth inning started to unravel right after the Dodgers’ infamous “defensive indifference” allowed A-roid to second. I know the first baseman has a lot more range playing behind the runner, but it backfired this time. Had Loney been holding the runner, that double to his left is likely a fieldable ball and a double play to end the game right there. The only time I like to see the first baseman not hold the runner on first in that situation is when there are two outs, hence no DP opportunity. Lay that strategy at Torre’s door, too.

    • yea i thought that too. Is my memory off or did they let it happen twice in the 9th?

      • Yes, it happened twice. And I said to myself when I saw A-rod on 2nd, “defensive stupidity.” I had a bad feeling about this as soon as I knew Kershaw was out.

        Pitch counts: I hates ’em. Especially for starters.

  9. One other point I would like added to Torre’s blame is the idea he has that you can’t take the closer out and put in a different reliver. It was obvious Brox wasn’t going to have a good night after the second or third batter he faced. However, instead of taking him out (and I realize the other choiced didnt seem great) torre left him in to rot. The guy is going to have abad night once in a while, but why can’t he have backup too?

    • Joe Torre:

      “At that point, my managing is over with. You bring your closer in and your managing is done. That makes it tougher for me because there’s nothing you can do. You just hope the result is better.”

      • I can’t tell you how much that quote infuriates me. It’s just typical of Torre’s anesthetized presence in the dugout. Walt Alston’s corpse would have more life in it that Joe.

  10. Hey, Dodger fan from Southern Illinois here, about to make his first trip to LA this July to see the Dodgers play the Giants/Mets. Any advice for my trip. I hear the parking lot doesn’t open until 2 hours before game time, does that allow me to see batting practice? Any secrets of Dodgers Stadium or the city of LA that I need to know, I am a country boy about to come to the city…watch out

    • If you get there when the gates open, you’ll get to see visitor’s BP only. The Dodgers either don’t take BP or they take it before the visitors. Check the Dodgers parking instructions to make sure you go in the right entrance. Nothing really worse at Dodger Stadium than having to walk a mile from your seats because you went in the wrong gate 5 hours ago.

      • Oh, and make sure your Dodger Dog is grilled not boiled.

    • Hey, Dodger Fan From Illinois:

      I meant to write that Philippe’s is at 1001 NORTH Alameda St., not S. Alameda. And it’s a great place to go before the Dodger game. Just allow yourself plenty of time–the lines can be long.

    • Check out Autograph Alley in centerfield before games.

  11. Funny. You forgot to write about Padilla. Give the man credit, you always ignore him MSTI.

    • I was actually away for the weekend (I think I noted it at the end of my last post) so I didn’t post at all after Friday or Saturday’s games. Padilla did do well, though.

  12. Yeah call me spoiled for cheering Gagne those years and thinking that a 4 run lead should be an automatic win with your closer out there, but I still put it on Broxton. Never seen so many hitters foul off so many pitches off this guy. And it happens more than rarely. Yes he’s the best we got, but he got punked by a 42 year old Mariano Rivera this series. Tired? He gets paid a pretty penny people. I’m just as frustrated as everyone else, but he’s gotta take the blame for not doing his job… It used to be on the road, but now it happens at home. Not good for our chances down the line…

    • HOw much you are paid does affect performance. It may affect expectations of performance, but a fatter wallet will not make you not tired when used this extensively. If pay dictated performance Alfonso Soriano and Vernon Wells would be MVP candidates and Darren Dreifort would have won multiple Cy Youngs.

      • Gary, you’re right in that pay does not dictate performance. My point was this guy is a pro whose been given the huge responsibility of closing the game and too many times I’ve seen him fail. I know he’s trying and he seems to be a good kid, but it doesn’t seem like he will reach the “upper echelon” of relievers. And yes I know there are not too many of them. It was my hope as a lifelong Dodger fan that one of those Hall of Fame closers would wear Dodger Blue. Heck maybe five saves in a row will shut me up for a while… who knows? Peace-out.

    • He’s already the best in baseball, the numbers bear that out.

    • Yeah, Broxton didn’t do the job last night, but it’s Torre’s job to actually notice that and to not run him out every game to the point where he’s making too many pitches. It’s also Loney’s job to keep his head in the game and throw to the plate and to not let Jeter take second. And it’s Sherrill’s job to keep the ball in the park.

      Lots of blame to go around, but it all goes back to Torre’s inability to manage and coach and Frank’s terminal cheapness.

  13. Hi, Dodger Fan From Illinois:

    If you get to the stadium when the gates open, you’ll be able to see the visiting team in BP but probably not the Dodgers. You might see the tail end of Dodgers’ BP. Sometimes the Dodgers open the stadium earlier for BP, but it’s usually for a special game, like the Yankee series this weekend. They don’t do it often.

    Don’t know if you already have tickets, but I would completely avoid sitting in either pavilion. Although they don’t sell alcohol out there anymore, it hasn’t deterred some thugs from acting like baboons. Avoid it at ALL COSTS.

    If you want cheaper seats, the top deck or the reserved level (get as close behind home plate as you can get) will give you a great view of the whole stadium in front of you, plus the mountains, hills, and trees beyond. It’s incredible, especially on a summer night.

    If you get a chance, I always recommended visitors to try Philippe’s near Union Station for a French dip sandwich. It’s at 1001 S. Alameda Street, on the edge of Chinatown, just down the hill from the stadium. It’s over 100 years old and a local treasure, popular with locals, tourists, businesspeople, etc.

    Try the beef sandwich, double-dipped, with a side of homemade potato salad, macaroni salad, or cole slaw, and homemade pie.

    Enjoy your trip, and I hope you get to see a better team in blue than we’ve seen the last two weeks.

    • Only get seats behind home plate if you don’t mind that backstop net in front of your view. I believe it is Sections 10+ in the reserve and 10-13 in the Top Deck where you are clear, sorry people but i find it irritating even more than the plexiglass at Staples Center.

  14. How long before we make the “Bring up Tim Wallach” chant viral.

    • I have to second this point. I am beyond hopeful that Torre gets replaced with Wallach and not Mattingly. Wallach seems to be better able to had the “lemons” Upper Management/Ownership hands him than Torre does and I am sure his protégé could.

      Lets hope than another more qualified Dodger minor league manager does not get scooped up by another team because the Dodgers need a flashy “name” managing the big league team.

      The nightmare scenario I have is Wallach in San Diego or San Fransico coaching against the Dodgers.

      • I like Wallach a lot. I just don’t know enough about Mattingly’s management style to have an opinion for or against him. No one does, since he’s never managed. That’s probably not in his favor.

      • I agree that the lack of experience is a negative for Mattingly. Do we need a manager learning on the job while in charge of the Dodgers on the field?

        Wallach has a body of work to look at and get a sense of his managing style. Mattingly does not. Mattingly could pull a John Ely or a Charlie Haeger. Which one he pulls off is not the point, choosing to put someone in that place when a proven commodity is in the organization is the point.

        When was the last time the Dodgers put an unproven person in charge of the team, Bill Russell? While I was a fan of Russell as a player, as a manager he was not memorable.

  15. MSTI-Wrong on one point.

    You thought you’d have to put up with all those posters wanting to lynch Brox. But most sane people see that Torre is to blame.
    One way to look at it is that Torre lost this game the night before by pitching Brox with a five run lead.-A real panic move-
    One can’t blame Brox for having a tired arm, just like you can’t blame Martin for catching too many games!!! They don’t write the lineup cards.

    • I suppose that just goes to show that MSTI commenters are even brighter (and more handsome, and in better shape) than I’d thought. Trust me, it’s not the same everywhere across the internet.

  16. Mike- Thanks for the link, and I confirmed Brox warming up with two very reliable people.

    • Sure – not doubting you, it just wasn’t something I could go back and check on myself, without watching the last 3 innings of the game, anyway.

      • I know you weren’t doubting Mike, just wanted to say that I had confirmed it, having not been around for the game myself. Even if he hadn’t warmed up that day, the overuse of Broxton is indefensible.

        He managed the game like it determined if we got into the playoffs or as if it were Game 7 of the World Series.

  17. So who sucks now Dodger fans? Face it your team isn’t as good as you think they are. They play the best (AL) and they look like a minor league team. RIvera is the greatest ever and he showed 56,000 fans why he’s the greatest. Kemp, Loney, and Martin especially need to stop acting like children questioning the call by the ump on none other than MO. I mean come on. Go Yanks!

      • I think Jonathan must be related to the troll-like creature that runs LA Dodger Talk.

      • Wow your so funny, you got me there real bad…

      • Jonathan- We try our hardest!

    • Well lets see….we are now 3-3 head to head in IP so who is going to brag? Who looked like a minor league team not being able to field simple bunts? The Ump gave borderline calls to Rivera but not Broxton, i was hoping Torre would go off on him and get kicked out because you knew the game was going to end badly. I would be embarrassed if i were a Yankee fan, $200 Million and you barely won those two games lol I also loved the announcers saying how the Dodger fans went home already, as if a ton of Yanker fans didn’t leave too?

      • DodgerKings323, I guess being original left you a long time ago. High pay roll, I haven’t heard that before.

    • “I am sooooo sick about hearing about payroll whaaaa” doesn’t make it any less true, you wouldn’t happen to be the same Jonathan trolling the Dodger – Giant game thread at ESPN.com would you?

  18. […] He’s referring to the fact that I (among others) put a lot of the blame on Joe Torre for the Yankee debacle, and generally defend Broxton […]

  19. […] in George Sherrill against a righty in the 9th inning of a tie game, letting Jonathan Broxton throw 95 pitches in five days (which he still hasn’t recovered from), sitting Matt Kemp in favor of Juan Pierre, continuous […]

  20. […] even get him a blown save because the lead was so big. Still, I didn’t absolve Broxton, but my main issue at the time was with Torre’s usage of him: In the 9th, Broxton was brought on to pitch for the 4th time […]

  21. […] in George Sherrill against a righty in the 9th inning of a tie game, letting Jonathan Broxton throw 95 pitches in five days (which he still hasn’t recovered from), sitting Matt Kemp in favor of Juan Pierre, continuous […]

  22. […] Even in the heat of the moment, we could see what Torre had done: In the 9th, Broxton was brought on to pitch for the 4th time in 5th days, two of which were for more than one inning, despite the Dodgers having a four run lead. As Eric Stephen will happily tell you, “the last 3 [games were] with win expectancies of 95.5%, 98.8%, and 98.8%” when he entered. The point being, those are the kinds of situations in which you bring on your lesser relievers, at least to start. Even if you don’t trust them – as Torre clearly doesn’t, other than Hong-Chih Kuo – if they run into trouble, then sure, bring on the big man. And no, I’m not suggesting that Broxton should onlybe brought into save situations (which he hasn’t seen since June 9) but you have to measure his usage a little more carefully, especially in all of these non-vital situations. […]

  23. […] last week doesn’t seem too bad. This isn’t like Joe Torre making Jonathan Broxton throw 99 pitches in five days back in 2010, a stretch which arguably ended his career as an elite closer. But then, it’s also not just […]


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