Brave New World
This time, it’s not a book recommendation but something I realized driving in. J.D. Drew and Rafael Furcal, the two former Braves on our team (besides Maddux and Betemit, who just got here), are the only two Opening Day projected starters of ours to avoid the disabled list this season. At some point or another, Dioner Navarro, Nomar Garciaparra, Jeff Kent, Bill Mueller, Jayson Werth and Kenny Lofton have all spent time on the DL. But Furcal and Drew march on.
I don’t really believe in jinxes, so if they get hurt today, don’t blame me. It’s just something I noticed. In fact, it was early May when someone told me that Rafael Furcal was the biggest free agent bust of the winter, something no one could possibly think these days. And J.D. seems to be everyone’s favorite punching bag, yet between the two of them, they lead our team in runs, RBI, hits, stolen bases, walks and more. And they both come from winning backgrounds with the Braves and in J.D.’s case, the Cardinals.
Furcal, meanwhile, has done more than anyone could have hoped. Sure, his first month he struggled and though he didn’t complain about injuries, they were certainly nagging him. But he played through it and he’s now hitting .284 (which is exactly his Major League average entering this year). He’s our first bonafide leadoff hitter in a long time and should be the first to score 100 runs since Brett Butler in 1991.
He’s also driving in big runs, batting .360 with runners in scoring position which has given him 51 RBI, 49 of which came from the leadoff spot. As Ken Gurnick pointed out last night, we haven’t had a leadoff guy drive in that many runs since Steve Sax in 1988, who had 50. Before that, we’re talking Davey Lopes in the late 70s.
J.D. might not be the fist-pumping Takashi Saito or Eric Gagne or Jonathan Broxton and he’s probably not going to wow you like Andre Ethier, but he’s been consistent all year long. I’m sure people want to see more production for what he’s being paid and you know what? He does, too. But much like Grady Little, he doesn’t get too excited when he’s on a hot streak or too down when he’s slumping and that allows him to be a steady player all year ’round, when healthy.
Anyway, these were just a couple things bouncing around in my head as I trekked into the yard today. As I pulled in, Viva los Dodgers was in full effect in the parking lot and it’s really become quite a special event over the past nine years. It’ll go until 6 p.m. today, so come on down and check out what 10,000 fans seem to think is a great way to spend the day with their families. Then stick around for the game…hopefully it’ll be another good one.
A couple more notes for you:
YOUNG AND POWERFUL – Triple-A outfielder Delwyn Young drove in his two runs last night to give him 94 RBI on the year, the most by a Dodger minor leaguer since Luis Garcia had 95 in 2004. The last Dodger farmhand to drive in 99 or more runs was Phil Hiatt in 2001 while Chin-Feng Chen drove in 123 in 1999.
PAVILION PARTY PACK – The Dodgers are introducing the new Pavilion Party Pack and the third and final event will be held on Sept. 21. For $35 (or $30 for groups of 10 or more), fans get a ticket and an all-inclusive menu of Dodger Dogs, nachos, peanuts and more. Call 866.DODGERS for tickets.
RUNNING RUSSELL – Russell Martin stole his ninth base of the season last night, tying him with Jason Kendall for the most by any Major League catcher this season. His nine thefts are the most by a Dodger catcher since Johnny Roseboro swiped 12 bases in 1962. Since 1900, only five Dodger catchers have stolen more than 10 bases – Lew Ritter (1904, 05), Otto Miller (1912), Al Lopez (1933), Mickey Owen (1942) and Roseboro (1958, 62).
TAPPING THE ROCKIES – Brad Penny is 4-0 with a 0.99 ERA against the Rockies this season, improving his career marks to 9-2 with a 2.26 ERA vs. Colorado, the lowest ERA against that team in its 13-year existence (minimum 50 IP).
TOMKO NEARS MILESTONE – Dodger reliever Brett Tomko has struck out 995 batters in his career. Since moving to the bullpen, the right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.64 ERA.