Torre Makes His Team Worse

If you haven’t been following the Dodgers of late, there’s an interesting development down in LA – Joe Torre has decided to give a significant chunk of the playing time at second base to Ronnie Belliard, sending Orlando Hudson to the bench in the process.

With most personnel decisions in baseball, there’s a gray area where a legitimate point could be argued for either side. This is not one of those scenarios. Belliard is half the player Hudson is, at best, and if Torre is actually contemplating swapping the two out as his team heads into the postseason, then the man should have his sanity questioned.

Hudson is a known quantity, and a productive one at that. His .342 wOBA so far this season is basically a dead even match for his .339 career mark. He’s a good contact hitter with some gap power and draws a fair share of walks, making him an above average hitter overall. UZR thinks his defense has been in decline, but still thinks he’s around average with the glove.

The total package makes Hudson a slightly better than average player – he’s been worth +2.2 and +3.3 wins in each of the last five years. He’s consistently a quality asset, and certainly the kind of guy you can win a world title with as your second baseman.

Belliard simply is an inferior player to Hudson. His entire production bump since the trade to LA is a function of a 25% HR/FB rate that has allowed him to slug .589 in 18 games. If you think that’s sustainable, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. Belliard is a swing-at-anything hack without the contact or power to make that kind of approach work. In 204 plate appearances before the Nationals shipped him to LA, he posted a .297 wOBA.

He’s not a defensive wizard. He doesn’t run well. He’s not as good of a hitter. The only thing Belliard can outdo Hudson in would be some kind of eating competition.

When October rolls around, Torre better have Hudson installed back at second base and Belliard on the bench where he belongs. Any other alignment will be a blow to the Dodgers chance of winning a World Series.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

118 Responses to “Torre Makes His Team Worse”

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  1. R M says:

    So what if Belliard is performing over his head….sometimes players perform over their heads, and if Belliard is hitting right now, it would be pretty hard to argue that Torre is making the team worse.

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    • lookatthosetwins says:

      He has performed over his head. It would be really stupid to bet that he will continue to perform over his head. That’s what “performing over your head” means.

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      • sunzeneise says:

        Should one “Make hay while the sunshines”, or persist in one’s orthodoxy?

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      • Chris says:

        @sunzeneise: If the sun is shining then I can reasonably assume that it will continue shining for a while. If I roll three sixes in a row with a six-sided dice can I reasonably assume it will roll another six next? (hint: No, it has the same chance to roll a six as it always had). Players are not as predictable as the sun.

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      • sunzeneise says:

        @Chris . . . . It not the shinning of the sun. it’s the making of the hay.

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    • Matt Harms says:

      Are all of you people coming here thanks to the Yahoo link? As Dave notes later on, you don’t start players hoping they constinue to sustain un-sustainable numbers. Belliard has been lucky, not good.

      Managers need to construct rosters with players that offer the highest probability of success. Crossing your fingers and hoping for blind luck is entirely the opposite.

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  2. Nick C says:

    Well you can win a World Series with Belly as your 2B too. Just ask the 2006 Cardinals. I am in no way arguing that Belly is a superior player to Hudson but is there not a chance that Belly could outperform Hudson over the next 20-30 games? In the long term you would have to be an idiot to select Belly over Hudson. On the other hand, there is nothing to say that Belly (or any major leaguer) cannot have a 20-30 game run where they perform better than they really are. Heck Ibanez did just that over the first 50 games of this season.

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    • Dave Cameron says:

      Selecting players based on possibilities, and not probabilities, makes you the Kansas City Royals.

      There’s no reason to believe that Belliard is more likely to play over his head over 20-30 games than Hudson is. There is every reason to believe that Hudson’s natural rate of abilities is greater than Belliard’s. Thus, Hudson is the easy choice.

      Playing “the hot hand” is a bad idea, and this has been systematically proven.

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      • Tripon says:

        What if you’re missing information that the team has, like say, an injury that isn’t being publicly mentioned?

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      • Nick C says:

        I see your point Dave. However, if Hudson is indeed dinged up as some other commenters have suggested then it sheds some light on Torre’s decision-making. If my team had a big division lead and had a reasonable replacement for a worn down dinged up player I would be upset if the manager did not play the backup allowing the starter time to heal before the games started counting again.

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      • j reed says:

        I am still a beginner so I don’t know if this phrase “natural rate of abilities ” is sabrmetric terminology that is explained elsewhere in the site and I haven’t found yet. I was wondering is this “natural rate of ability” the mesure of his physical talent like time to sprint 90 ft, swing a bat, perceive and react to stimuli, throw a ball “x” number of feet…And does “rate” apply to these things individually like the sprinting rate, throwing rate….or on the collection of these abilities which may change over time i.e. season to season, or different points in the season or in games.

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    • MU789 says:

      The Cardinals liked Belliard so much they signed Adam Kennedy for more than Belliard got in 2007. He was better than Luna in 2006 but the Cards saw enough not to bring him back.

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      • Kincaid says:

        To be fair, it was kind of dumb to write, “He’s consistently a quality asset, and certainly the kind of guy you can win a world title with as your second baseman.” For one, that statement has absolutely no meaning. You can win a world title with any Major League second baseman if the rest of your team is good enough. It does nothing at all to advance his point, and it’s more or less the equivalent to someone resorting to citing intangibles as why Jeter is better than someone else.

        The whole statement is just a cheap throw-in that, while useless, might sound good to someone who doesn’t know any better, and it’s disappointing that Dave would resort to such a tactic in his article. So when it turns out that beyond just being a dumb and meaningless statement, it actually applies to the histories of the specific players he’s talking about, but in the opposite direction, he deserves to be called out on it.

        Obviously, Ronnie Belliard is a second baseman you can win a WS with, even if he wasn’t good enough for the Cardinals to want to bring him back. That just kind of demonstrates how worthless that statement is, and by including it, Dave is just inviting comments like the above.

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  3. Shannon says:

    Except that how he has hit in the 18 games since he came to the dodgers has almost zero bearing on how he will hit in his next AB, game, or the rest of the season.

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    • Laura says:

      That’s not entirely true. Players go through hot streaks and slumps. If Belliard is hot, why not play him until he’s not? It’s not like Torre has written his name on the lineup card for a playoff in pen.

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      • Travis L says:

        Laura,

        I’ve yet to see much evidence of hot streaks, beyond my own psychological biases to identify patterns. I second (fourth? fifth?) what the other commenters said: you cannot use success from the past 30 games to predict the next 30.

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      • Nick says:

        “Streaks” and “slumps” end at completely random times and for no apparent (or actual) reasons. It’s foolish to expect a player to be better than he is, simply because he was for the last week or so.

        At the same time, there’s nothing foolish about playing Belliard to make sure that Hudson is fresh for the playoffs. I’m pretty sure that’s what Torre’s doing here. The fact that Belliard is hitting well just makes the decision more palatable.

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  4. VolsnCards5 says:

    its simple…the dodgers have all but wrapped up a playoff spot…hudson gets paid $10,000 per PA…this is a money saving move plain and simple

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    • Tripon says:

      There’s only one last $50,000 PA requirement left, Hudson would basically have to miss half of the remaining games to not reach it.

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      • walkoffblast says:

        Looking at Cots I see $10,000 per plate appearance up to 632 PA. He is at 595 right now. Looks like Tripon made over a quarter million dollar error.

        Not sure when Dave decided to start writing like a real sportswriter (not a compliment) just with better information. It seems to be his one shortcoming is that when he writes these attack pieces he fails to cover the whole issue conveniently ignoring aspects that make the decision less insane than he wishes it to be portrayed.

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  5. Sean says:

    Come on guys, just because it’s possible Belliard might be better over the next 20 games doesn’t make it a smart choice. You don’t fold AA because K9 has a chance of being better, unless you’re trying to lose money.

    I’ve read something about Hudson getting a $10k bonus for every remaining plate appearance he makes this season. That might have something to do with it.

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  6. Tripon says:

    Hudson’s been playing with nagging injuries all year, and his production has been sapped because of it. Torre said in a recent interview that he’s been playing Belliard so much because Hudson overworked himself, and he can finally get Hudson some rest.

    I don’t get the compliant, to be honest. Belliard’s doing okay now, and is the bench player, that’s why you have bench players, so they can play when the starters aren’t healthy enough to play everyday.

    Are we going to complain when Manny sits for the last week of Sept for Juan Pierre as the Dodgers clinch the NL West?

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    • Tripon says:

      Rather, I feel like this post is to complain about complaining. Players have hot streaks, Belliard is having one, and Hudson had one that lasted two months before he did a serious crash dive in June/July. Might as well ride it down until the season ends.

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  7. pm says:

    Once again, Fangraph gets it wrong. You can’t look at Belliard’s previous numbers with the Nats the way you guys did. Belliard was primarily a pinch hitter with occasional starts. Beginning in August, he got consistent playing time with the Nats and had a .990 OPS with the Nats in that month. You combine that with his .928 OPS with the Dodgers, he has a .961 OPS in 124 PA which is a decent sample size. He is better than Hudson right now. Even Fangraphs got it wrong with their defense. Belliard has a 4.7 UZR/150 at 2B while Hudson is at -3.9 UZR/150. That is a 8.6 run gap. Good job cherry picking stats and then stating that Hudson is a better defender without actually looking at the numbers because it would destroy your point.

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    • lookatthosetwins says:

      124 PA is not a decent sample size. That’s a ridiculously small sample to use UZR.

      Hudson’s been consistently better than Belliard throughout his career. If you think that 124 pa’s is enough evidence that they’ve switched places, you are a lot dumber than you think you are.

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  8. Omar says:

    Yankee fans knew this for years.

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  9. scott says:

    remember when Torre hit Matt Kemp 13th all year? amazing despit there only being nine spots in a batting order.

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  10. Tripon says:

    BTW, Belliard’s career wOBA is .330. Its a drop off from Hudson’s career .339 wOBA but its not so huge a dropoff that you’re going to see a huge enough difference for the Dodgers.

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  11. OsandRoyals says:

    According to reports Orlando Hudson has become worse defensively and may actually be close to his poor UZR the past two years. Torre’s move is defensible as long as Hudson plays in October.
    While players being hot and cold doesn’t seem to hold statistically (I’ve read the Book too) I feel that some players do go through some streakyness. As long as it is recognized as being players playing over their head it works in small sample sizes. It doesn’t work if you build teams expecting that level of production a la the Royals

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  12. big baby says:

    Way too much cherry picking.

    Most notably about Hudson’s defense. You cannot with a straight face say UZR has him at “average.” Last he was a -7.6, this year around a -4. It’s absolutely preposterous to say he’s an average defender according to UZR.

    Hudson has been cold for a while and Belliard has been hot. Neither are superstars. There’s nothing wrong with riding a hot streak.

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    • Colm says:

      -4 runs over the course of a season is not so very far from average, especially in a stat that figures in as much noise as UZR.

      Knowing that UZR over even fairly large sample sizes tends to reflect a lot of random variance, and considering that the fact that for most of his career Orlando Hudson has been an above-average defender, I think it’s perfectly defensible to say he’s “around average”.

      Contrarily, as noted elsewhere, “riding a hot streak” from a lesser player is statistically indefensible. It tends to strike us all as common sense, but it leads to bad outcomes, like Willie Bloomquist starting games.

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      • big baby says:

        -4 runs a year removed from having -7.6? that means average?

        and no, riding a hot streak is not stastically indefensible. acting as players don’t get locked in and play better for elongated periods of time is absolutely asinine. people go in slumps for reasons: not just because the random chance monster decides that all of their grounders find gloves.

        that’s an absolutely retarded notion.

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  13. lincolndude says:

    I get the point — a rant against Torre for playing the hot hand — but this is a little over the top. Especially the last statement:

    “He’s not a defensive wizard. He doesn’t run well. He’s not as good of a hitter. The only thing Belliard can outdo Hudson in would be some kind of eating competition.”

    Really? Belliard was a 1.7 win player in half a season of PT last year, and a 2.4 win player the year before. We’re talking half a win over the course of a full season, and if you add up all the playoff games, maybe one run. Maybe. Luck is going to completely envelope and wipe out any difference between these players.

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  14. Vode says:

    This is swapping shit for diarrhea. I’d rather have the solid stuff, but in the end it is all feces.

    The sheer arrogance of implying you know more than Joe Torre does about his 2B situation by reading a couple of spreadsheets is laughable. Did it even occur to you for one moment that Torre makes some lineup decision using information you have never been, and will never be, privy to? (i.e. you don’t work for the Los Angeles Dodgers)

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    • Colm says:

      That’s a lot of scatalogical metaphor for one post. You might want to broaden your palate of verbal imagery here.

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    • mannysfirsttrimester says:

      Give me a break. What information is so top secret that only Joe Torre knows about and would make him think Belliard is the better player? Did it ever occur to YOU for one moment that Torre is fallible and makes bad decisions from time to time? (i.e. this one)

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      • Vode says:

        “What information is so top secret that only Joe Torre knows about and would make him think Belliard is the better player?”

        Well for starters, I don’t think playing Belliard means that Torre thinks he is a better player than Hudson. It could mean, for instance, that Torre feels the team would be better served by having a fresh Hudson in the lineup and on the field come October. This is something that the manager of the ball club would have a better feel for than, say, some tool on a laptop.

        “Did it ever occur to YOU for one moment that Torre is fallible and makes bad decisions from time to time? (i.e. this one)”

        Yes, the notion that Joe Torre is not an omniscient, God-like being has occurred to me once or twice. Thanks for the reminder.

        The larger point I was trying to make was that writer rips this minor decision that is CLEARLY meant to benefit the team in the bigger picture as if Torre has suddenly lost his mind and is screwing his team. The argument is an inane one.

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      • wobatus says:

        I think Vode’s response to you is correct. Saying that Torre might know that Hudson is gassed, sees him practice, talks to the trainer, etc. is not suggesting he is infallible. But he does indded have some info dave doesn’t have. And the wOBA and WAR differences between these 2 players over their career doesn’t mean gassed or hurt orlando hudson (and he had a wrist injury last year, recall) is going to outplay belliard right now. They were way too close to make some definitive “Torre makes team worse” leap.

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  15. The A Team says:

    There’s a lot already posted on this so hopefully I’m not making the same point as someone else…

    Anyway, theoretically a player who gets to start a handful of times of week is sharper than a player who rides the pine and gets 4 PH appearances in that same week. Is it inconceivable to think that Torre is looking at his division lead and thinking that it would be a good idea to keep Belliard as sharp as possible as an off the bench option once the post-season rolls around?

    That would be how I’d try to rationalize the decision.

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  16. pm says:

    Orlando Hudson is not a good defender anymore. He has been below average the past 2 years and average the previous 2 years. That is a huge UZR sample. He is living off past reputation. Hudson really isn’t that much of a better hitter than Belliard when you factor in that Belliard was a better hitter last season. This is a great move by Torre. This is where stats guys lag behind.

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    • lincolndude says:

      Nope. Hudson has turned himself into an above average hitter. Belliard definitely is not that.

      It’s crazy to suggest that this is a great move by Torre. But it wouldn’t be the worst thing he’s ever done.

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  17. Ivdown says:

    You know, Hudson was basically starting every game for the first 120 games or so this season, I think this move is mainly so he can rest Hudson up for the playoffs now that there are 12 games left with a 5 game divisional lead. It’s like what they would have done with Kershaw had he not been injured anyway. I’d rather play Belliard and Padilla and Garland now than in the playoffs.

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  18. Eric Enders says:

    As usual, Dave makes an arguably legitimate point in a completely off-putting and obnoxious way. Torre makes his team worse by playing Belliard? Not yet, he hasn’t. He’s made it much better, in fact. You’re assuming facts not in evidence; namely, that Hudson will outperform Belliard the rest of the way. You’re probably right, but you’re acting as if that’s already happened when it hasn’t.

    You know Hudson is better. I know Hudson is better. And you know what? There’s a 99.5% chance Joe Torre knows Hudson is better. Thing is, Hudson’s got problems right now with his surgically repaired right wrist. What’s that? Joe Torre knew that and you didn’t? There’s nothing like calling someone ELSE an idiot when you haven’t even bothered to pay attention to the publicly available information regarding the situation.

    Joe Torre does a lot of things that frustrate me as a Dodger fan. He makes a lot of mistakes: strategic mistakes, lineup mistakes. This isn’t one of them — not yet, anyway.

    Please excuse me for not taking your half-ass research and blowhard generalizations as gospel.

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  19. CaR says:

    Agreed Eric. But that’s an overall strategy employed by Cameron recently. Jim Rome of stat nerds. Belliard is hot until he’s not, then he rides pine. What in the world is wrong with that? Who cares about career numbers when he is hitting, Hudson has not been, and Torre feels that he needs the offense? Over the top and typically combative post.

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    • scott says:

      What defines no longer hot, though? 0-4? 0-4 with 3ks? 0-8? 2-12? What if those two hits are walk offs? Does Belliard still qualify as “hot?” I think that’s the point Cameron is taking umbrage with; you have absolutely no idea what quantifies a “hot streak” until you can look at it in hindsight. When Jason Bay and Bobby Abreu hit like 9 HRs in 11 games, that was “hot.” And while we knew it while it happened, could YOU or ANYONE have predicted when it would end? What about a stretch of 150 PAs when a guy hits 350/460/700. Guaranteed he went 0-3 at least once, right? Do we then say “NO LONGER HOT!!!!”?

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      • CaR says:

        Upon further consideration, it turns out not even to matter whose hot, or making that call. Hudson is getting rest, his power numbers have lagged in the second half, he played too much early and had to fill in for Manny when he was suspended, batting third.

        Its the managers decision and job to judge who looks “right” at the plate over a small amount of games. If it mattered (for the playoffs) I’m sure Hudson would play as he is better. Since it doesn’t, going with a guy that is hot over a week has little correlation with expecting different outcomes just ’cause, (as is implied below) but more to do with what the fella looks like and his results at the plate. When he looks over matched or confused again, you take him out.

        The vitriol seen in response to Dave’s posts strangely doesn’t seem to happen to several other guys at the site. If he wanted a different outcome, looking in the mirror would be the first step. The School of Dave seems to have one overriding principle: “Destroy any and all Old School axiom because jocks are dumb.” Its a slippery slope to presume that you have knowledge and information that always trumps the guys in charge. I could care less about Torre and his managerial moves but this one seems fine for a number of reasons that have been laid out in the responses. And it certainly wasn’t one that deserved the typical scornful response from Dave.

        Last, one can still be wrong while being technically right.

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  20. Andrew says:

    There are definitely streaky players, and if you can ride that streak it helps. Lots of players have gone on streaks this season where they way outperformed their career norms, two good examples are Ibanez and Way-Rod. They were both hurt by regression as the season progressed, but there were other factors that contributed and “luck” can hardly be the sole factor. Ibanez was injured and Wandy was tipping pitches. Dave, your argument is bad because you ignore that Torre may be considering other factors aside from Belliard’s “hotness”: namely that Hudson has a surgically repaired wrist and his contract pays him $10,000 per PA. The Dodgers have ran away with the division so it’s not like they need Hudson badly and can’t afford to rest him.

    In one of my fantasy league playoffs I’m starting Juan Uribe over Peralta and Alexei Ramirez at SS even though everyone knows he’s worse than both of those guys. Why? Because he’s on fire now. Over the past few weeks he’s been a much better player offensively and the other two have sucked.

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  21. Dim says:

    Chillax, Cameron’s just P.O.’d ‘cos he’s got Hudson on his fantasy team.

    I mean, even the biggest stat fundamentalist understands that MLB managers have to take into account factors like injuries, general rest before the playoffs, seeing what you’ve got from role players who may be called upon to fill a bigger role in the playoffs, etc… right?

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  22. Andross says:

    Not having actually paid any attention to the Dodgers of late, I don’t know exactly when the Dodgers are using Belliard, but this from BR was interesting:

    Orlando Hudson vs. RHP: .289/.355/.440
    Orlando Hudson vs. LHP: .264/.323/.402
    Ronnie Belliard vs. RHP: .270/.329/.398
    Ronnie Belliard vs. LHP: .283/.361/.465

    Those are the career splits for the two second basemen. It might not be a total mistake to start Belliard in the playoffs against a left handed starter, even given the difference in defense. So if the Dodgers face the Phillies this year in a postseason series, I wouldn’t fault Torre for giving Belliard a start or two. If they face the Cardinals, however, then Belliard should be coming off the bench.

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    • Felonius_Monk says:

      I’m not convinced about the whole “Hudson is a better defender than Belliard” supposition anyway – for the last FOUR SEASONS (and indeed for his career), Belliard is dead average by UZR. For the last four seasons, Orlando Hudson is worth a cumulative -10 runs by UZR (he’s also dead average for his career). Whilst both are probably basically equal when you include the large amount of error associated with UZR, it looks to me like, if anything, Belliard is the better defender, but realistically, they’re probably a wash. In no way whatsoever does the one defensive value stat that this site uses support the notion that Hudson’s better – no way at all.

      There’s not that much between them as hitters, either. .339 wOBA for Hudson, .330 wOBA for Belliard. Admittedly, Hudson’s been better in the last four years, and has better hitting stats this year than Belliard, but during the majority of that period he was playing in a hitters’ paradise in Arizona, whilst Belly has played in the less conducive offensive environments in St Louis and Washington.

      Overall, it looks to me that Hudson is a slightly better player, but there’s not a huge amount in it. He’s maybe 1 win or so better per year, so he should be playing in an ideal world, but if he’s a bit dinged up (wrist?) or tired I can see it’s perfectly defensible for Torre to give him a rest for a week or two of meaningless games before the post-season. Really, seems like much ado about nothing.

      The increasingly frenzied attacks and nit-picking by commenters on Cameron’s posts have become a bit tiresome lately, I don’t know why he seems to induce such bile from commenters (I suppose his arrogant and generally content-free responses to the comments probably don’t help), but I tend to agree that this post is a little over-the-top; there’s perhaps not a lot to write about in baseball at the moment, but Joe Torre running out a guy who is, at worst, maybe 1-2 runs or so worse than the other alternative over the remaining 2 weeks of meaningless games pretty much qualifies as a non-story in my book, especially given the Hudson contract situation and the possibility that he’s hurt/tired.

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  23. fan says:

    This is a stupid article. This website tried to do something different in the beginning, but has become just another blogging site where people who’ve never played baseball get emotional and spread their opinion as if it matters. Next…

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    • Colm says:

      Why is this post stupid?
      I’ve just read a bunch of (fairly hostile) responses asserting that it is defensible and sensible to ‘play the hot hand’ (in so many words) without citing any supporting evidence. Asserting something is so, absent any facts, because YOU KNOW IT IS, DAMMIT – that’s stupid.

      Now to the original article, it’s provocative to be sure, it’s not a starkly obvious case, and there are valid arguments about Hudson’s defense declining, or Torre trying to keep him healthy, but that doesn’t make it incorrect.

      Baseball managers, even hugely successful ones, still regularly make tactical decisions that hurt their teams chances. For all his virtues as an unflappable leader, Torre isn’t imune from that.

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      • wobatus says:

        There were “hot hand” responses, but there were a lot of others that discussed other issues. The 2 “sides” ned to chill. There are actually people in this world that both know stats and know that sometimes a guy is hurt and needs to sit.

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    • j reed says:

      fan-
      so by your logic
      I should not critize my senator because i have never been a senator.

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      • lookatthosetwins says:

        I should not criticize my janitor for spilling garbage on the ground, because I have never been a janitor.

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      • fan says:

        Until you know the pressures of being a senator, the effects of such responsibility and being a public figure, yes, you should think twice about being a smart-ass spectator.

        And, no, don’t criticize your janitor (you have a personal janitor?). Probably not as easy as it looks.

        You all need perspective.

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      • JAH says:

        Until you know the pressures of being a sports writer, the effects of such responsibility and being a public figure, yes, you should think twice about being a smart-ass spectator.

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      • fan says:

        Ahh and we come full circle. I’m glad you see my point.

        So, Mr. Cameron, if you are over matched by this “sports writing”, I hear “lookatthosetwins” is looking for a personal janitor.

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  24. El Lay Dave says:

    The problem with playing an inferior player on a hot streak is that by the time it’s clear that he’s cold again (regressed to the mean), he’s hit .200 for two weeks and been killing you.

    As was pointed out earlier in the comments, Hudson has incremental PA bonuses, he’s made all but the last, and he makes the last one if he plays about 50-60% time – this is not an issue.

    Torre is resting an overplayed player who has a chronic wrist problem and Belliard is a reasonable part-time starter for that situation. (He also filled in at 3B while Casey Blake nursed a hamstring problem.)

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    • Felonius_Monk says:

      Hudson is just as likely to continue to tear the cover off the ball for two weeks as he is to hit .200. To use the fact that he might go on an unpredictable cold streak as an argument against playing him when he’s on an unpredictable hot streak seems specious.

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  25. Repo Man says:

    The Angels cutting into half of their total Catcher’s playing time with Jeff Mathis’s atrocious bat is a much worse thing than what Torre is doing. Why isn’t anybody talking about Mathis and his .600 OPS getting so much playing time in place of Mike Napoli?

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  26. david says:

    couldn’t agree more. As a nats fan I have suffered through plenty of ronnie belliard moments. Such as a game in july against the astros when belliard pinch hit for the pitcher and accounted for the first and third outs of the inning, I believe one from a K and the other from an infield fly. In addition to this, I can also verify that belliard would destroy hudson in an eating competition. If you bring up his weight while heckling him for not running a play out or not giving chase to a foul ball down the first base line, he will stop and glance over in your vicinity. Dodgers fans beware, belliard is a terrible everyday player!

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  27. Sekrah says:

    Dave Cameron with another garbage article filled with wrong facts and absurd opinions. Dave, you are on a hot streak with these!!

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  28. CCW says:

    And to sum up, Dave, in the process of being basically correct, is hyperbolic, combative, and unwilling to see other points of view. So what else is new?

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    • Wally says:

      Its pretty hot in Phoenix today, Obama is on the news, and the sun is about to set in the west…. oh wait you said what’s new….shit

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  29. Justin says:

    If Torre just wants to rest Hudson why not use a prospect like Gordan or even Dewitt some time?

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    • Eric Enders says:

      Good question on DeWitt. Gordon’s nowhere near ready for the majors, doesn’t have to be added to the 40-man anytime soon, and even if he did, there’s no room on it right now unless you DFA somebody.

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      • Justin says:

        I think I just want to see what Gordan can do in the majors. In addition, I figured he could be rewarded for his year. Nothing more than a game or two.

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      • El Lay Dave says:

        Justin – There is no room on the 40-man for Gordon. He is still considered “raw” by most of the scouts. There is no reason to start his service clock. Trying to get him up to the majors would be foolhardy. He hasn’t even played high-A ball yet!

        Belliard is much more likely to be on the playoff roster than DeWitt. For a team going to the post-season, the Dodgers focus is rightly on keeping the players who will be on the post-season roster from getting rusty, not trying out prospects. Plus the major-league coaches have already seen DeWitt quite a bit.

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      • Justin says:

        Sorry, I was just stating I wanted to see Gordan; not necessarily that they should play him.

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    • Ivdown says:

      Torre trusts proven veterans over young players 90% of the time, that is why Dewitt isn’t getting any PT right now. Im fine with that.

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  30. Nick says:

    It’s pretty amazing that a post, in which the author opined that Orlando Hudson is a better player going forward than Ronny Belliard, has received over 50 comments; with at least half of them actually disagreeing with the premise of the post.

    I mean, come on folks; this isn’t the most controversial article Dave’s written.

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    • jpdtrmpt72 says:

      that’s because Dave said that joe torre is making his team worse by doing so now. I mean, Joe torre isn’t a good manager, but this is not a terrible move right now.

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    • Tripon says:

      I think more people are taking issue with the implication that Torre actually did bench Hudson for Belliard. He hasn’t done such a thing. If this was earlier in the season, Hudson would still be playing, (Hudson played everyday for the first 55 games), if the Dodgers were still in a playoff race, Hudson would still be playing. (He started in 133 games of the Dodgers 139 games so far this year.)

      But its Sept, the Dodgers pretty much have the NL west locked up, and Hudson could use some rest.

      Ronnie Belliard isn’t the starter at 2nd base, and the only reason Dave Cameron wrote this article because the back up beat writer for the L.A. Times decided to be disingenuous with a story to fill up pages.

      Eric Stephen at True Blue L.A. also got quotes from Joe Torre.

      “# Orlando Hudson is sitting today, for the eighth time in 19 games since the arrival of Ronnie Belliard. Torre said he is getting Hudson rest, the rest he didn’t get earlier in the season. Hudson started the season with the club, which was not expected, and he was playing so well that he didn’t get a day off until game number 55. Torre wouldn’t say whether or not Hudson was injured, noting “you can’t get him to admit anything” anyway, and that the season was simply taking its toll on the O-Dog. When asked whether or not Hudson was the starting second baseman going forward, Torre bristled, saying “He’s not starting today.”
      # Torre also noted its easier to rest Hudson with Ronnie Belliard on the club, noting that Belliard is swinging the bat very well right now. Torre praised Belliard’s ability to play multiple positions, even first base if needed, an important asset especially in the National League.”

      http://www.truebluela.com/2009/9/20/1045313/dodgers-pregame-notes-orlando

      There is no story here.

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    • Andrew says:

      That isn’t what people are taking issue with. The name of the article is “Torre makes his team worse”. However, what he’s doing now is actually good managing and foresight. Joe Torre does a many things to make the dodgers worse namely his refusal to shift the lineup and overuses relievers. He’s definitely one of the worst managers in the NL.

      What we take issue with is Dave’s implication that Joe Torre thinks Ronnie Belliard is a better option at 2nd base than Orlando Hudson. Hudson is resting before the playoffs. He played pretty much everyday and now he’s taking a few days off here and there. This is a solid managerial decision.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  31. Joe R says:

    Wait, I’m East Coast, wtf Torre’s benched Orlando Hudson? His split OPS+’s for July and August were 103 and 100. He was fine. Is Torre seriously considering Belliard over Hudson to start the postseason?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • ineedanap says:

      There was no mention of Belliard over Hudson in the post-season.

      I think Tripon already said everything I was going to say on the matter. I’ll just reiterate that the Dodgers have a 99.9% chance of making the playoffs at this point. This is a non-issue. Certainly not one to whine about.

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  32. neuter_your_dogma says:

    Nasty title, but the article’s premise isn’t far off. If indeed Torre decides to start Belliard over Hudson in the playoffs, then absent some compelling reason (injury, looming suspension for PEDs, etc.), Torre’s decision should and will be questioned.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  33. Dr. James Andrews says:

    Wow, and no mention of how he’s blown out his bullpen arms? That will end the Dodgers’ title run more than anything.

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  34. neuter_your_dogma says:

    Looking at those posted career numbers, why isn’t Torre playing 2nd base?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  35. Nick says:

    I would say Dave wasted his time because he didn’t realize Torre is just giving Hudson rest, but it’s not like he spent more than 25 minutes researching/writing this post.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  36. Bill says:

    If Torre sat Hudson in the playoffs, he would be making his team worse. By sitting Hudson now, he is making his team better. Not because Belliard is “hot”, it is the correct decision if both players were assured to perform at their season average the rest of the way. Belliard playing over his head just makes it possible without a grievance from Hudson.

    At Hudson’s rate of PA/game, there are about 51 PAs available the rest of the way. If you prorate Hudson and Belliard’s WAR/PA production to 51 PAs (including Belliard’s time on the Nationals), you get a difference of 0.07 WAR the rest of the way, in favor of Hudson. (Which is essentially worthless given the Dodgers playoff situation.)

    However, the marginal cost of Hudson is $370,000 in performance bonuses, (37 PA at $10,000 each. 632 PA is the cap for this bonus so the rest are free). Belliard’s is $0. Assuming $4.5 million/WAR for next season, the Dodgers will be able to purchase an additional 0.08 WAR with the money saved by playing Belliard.

    Resting Hudson for the playoffs is gravy.

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  37. Coby DuBose says:

    After cheating Hudson out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, I wish the Dodgers luck ever signing another player to a short-term, incentive laden contract.

    Here’s the gag. We’ll sign you to a one year deal to make sure that you’re fully healthy and producing! Then when you produce for 4/5ths of the season and help us get a comfortable enough lead, we’ll swap you out for a player who is and has always been worse than you at baseball. That will effectively rob you of almost a half million dollars that you’ve rightfully earned!

    Sounds awesome to me! Gotta love the Dodgers.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Joe R says:

      Don’t a lot of teams do stuff like this, though? The Red Sox flat out sent Brad Penny packing to avoid paying him incentives.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Coby DuBose says:

        There’s a difference in sending a 5th/6th starter packing and sitting your starting 2nd baseman on the bench after 135 games. The Sox had better options than Penny. The Dodgers don’t have better options than Hudson.

        And to this point, why is it that Rafael Furcal and his atrocious numbers have been at the top of the lineup all season long? That’s been the only steady thing about Torre’s decision making. Shitty player to signed to long term contract making outs at the top of the lineup? Check. Budding superstar center fielder knocking the crap out of the ball at the bottom of the lineup? Check.

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      • Joe R says:

        Not a fan of a guy using up 634 PA’s to go .257/.325/.361 I take it?

        Remember, James Loney is as valuable as Matt Kemp. This is what Joe Torre’s lineups remind me of daily.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • neuter_your_dogma says:

        Penny earned every nickel he didn’t get.

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  38. pm says:

    ORLANDO HUDSON IS NOT A BETTER DEFENDER THAN RONNIE BELLIARD. LOOK AT THE STATS FOR THE PAST 4 YEARS.

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  39. Sekrah says:

    The problem that Dave is having trouble grasping is that minor injuries, confidence, and form affect performance. If Hudson isn’t swinging the bat in form or if he has an small pain somewhere nagging him, he’s not going to hit to his career numbers.

    Taking two players and looking at their career numbers and determining which guy to use is why sane people laugh at Dave Cameron’s articles. Dave gets himself caught in these numbers tunnel visions that are completely illogical.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  40. arsenal says:

    dave cameron makes this site worse.

    you’ve turned into this bitter, know-it-all stat nerd. just stop.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  41. aliasct23 says:

    Teams that are HOT win in October…… play whoever is going to maximize pruduction!!!!! and right now Belliard is producing better than hudson…October is about the RIGHT NOW!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Coby DuBose says:

      What a foolish outlook.

      The Rockies were realllllly HOT!!!!IOHWIOHWHOIW!!!WOI!IO!WOI!!!!! in October in 2007. Then they inexplicably cooled down in the World Series to get swept out of the thing.

      Wonder what happened? I thought hot teams won in October!!!!!!!!???!

      No.

      Better teams win. Upsets happen, sure, but why on earth would you want to be the exception and not the rule.

      Play the best players and let the chips fall where they will. Ronnie Belliard didn’t magically become a better player than Orlando Hudson. He’s the same Ronnie Belliard that is just as likely to suck tomorrow as he was in April.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Andrew says:

      That’s a dumb argument. The Rockies swept back-to-back series to get there. They WON THE NATIONAL LEAGUE based on their hotness. The “better” team doesn’t always win it all and they lose series all the time. The Cubs have put good teams out there in the playoffs, and then just play atrociously. Some teams are better built for the playoffs, as defined by Nate Silver’s “secret sauce” formula but they aren’t “better” necessarily.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Kevin S. says:

        A high school team could win the National League if it got really hot. Was the Rox hotness in October a product of their hotness in September? Who knows. The ’00 Yanks backed into the playoffs so hard they should have been beeping, then they rolled to the championship, so being hot in September is hardly a requirement.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Joe R says:

        Same with the Cardinals in 2006.

        Don’t get it twisted, though, hard charging into the playoffs helps. Yes, streaks and slumps can start and end for no rhyme or reason, but, mentally, it helps.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  42. fan says:

    Imagine how many runs the Dodgers would have scored today if Hudson played instead of Belliard. Sky’s the limit.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Andrew says:

      yea that game seriously hurt their expected pythagorean win-loss record since they only won by 12. i’m sure if hudson started that game he would’ve had 9 RBIs to belliard’s puny one RBI. i’m sure he would’ve hit back-to-back grand slams too.

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  43. Josh B says:

    Dave Cameron writes: With most personnel decisions in baseball, there’s a gray area where a legitimate point could be argued for either side. This is not one of those scenarios.

    —-

    HAHAHA What kind of joker are you? Seriously? I hope this is volunteer work and FG doesn’t actually pay you for your opinion because you are nothing more than a complete fool making a statement like that.

    There’s no gray area between a career .330 wOBA and a .339 wOBA? Dave Cameron is a freaking joke. The only reason to open his articles is to get a good laugh and wonder why FanGraphs lets this clueless jackass voice his opinion.

    “Belliard simply is an inferior player to Hudson.” — Haha.. .009 wOBA seals the deal. Nevermind that Hudson’s defense has degressed terribly over the past couple years.

    Nevermind that Ronnie Belliard is career .317 avg (.886 OPS) with bases loaded vs Hudson’s .246 (.671).

    Nevermind that Belliard hits lefties .100 OPS higher than Hudson over their careers.

    Nevermind that their WAR’s when they are both getting consistant playing time is basically a push. Belliard has a 3.3, 3.5 in 2004 and 2005 with the Indians, had a down year in 06 (injured in spring training) but closed strong with the Cardinals with a stellar playoffs both offensively and defensively.

    Nevermind none of that stuff. Dave Cameron said so. There’s no gray area. We are all morons in the land of Lord Cameron.

    What a jackass.

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    • wobatus says:

      I have to say I didn’t understand why this became a huge issue. Joe Torre may make questionable decisions as all managers do but is it possible he saw that Belliard was fresh and healthy and playing like he has when given a chance ina decent environment, while Hudson, who may be slightly better when on, had nagging injuries and was evidently slowing down. Hudson may have been better over a long career and even earlier this year, but he’s not so much better that he can overcome physical problems. Recall that some teams shied away because of his wrist from last year.

      I don’t think dave is a clueless jackass, but I do take this site to task at times for being able to dish out out to managers and management and then being awfully defensive themselves when called on it. And then falling back on small sample size and other defenses of the process over results, which is fine, but some of the more blatant examples that i thought at the time were wrong were: calling out twins for signing Kubel, defending Brian Giles as a good bet to be worth his contract this year, that White Sox got a steal with Rios and Blue Jays were foolish, this article…I think there tends to be some blindness at times as to what is going on in front of there noses. With Kubel, a decent chance of improvement. With Giles,a good chance a bounce back year last year masked the undeniable overall decline (and a desire to back their consistent argument that you can’t write off players at x age due to a brief cold streak). With Hudson and Belliard, a likely injury or just run down player. With Rios, someone in a pretty serious tailspin (which he may reverse next year, who knows, but also forgetting the Blue Jays signed him right before the economy collapsed and as their attendance fell off a cliff, and no one would claim Wells so that wouldn’t have helped). You get the feeling that in baerga or Robbie Alomar’s first year with the Mets Dave would have been saying lay off Mets fans, these guys will bounce back. Sometimes, guys don’t.

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  44. pm says:

    Ronnie Belliard is better at Baseball than Orlando Hudson. Fact. This is where Stat geeks get it wrong.

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  45. Vode says:

    Looks like Belliard started game 1 over Hudson. JOE TORRE IS THE DEVIL.

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    • Joe R says:

      To be fair, they won.
      And if he took Belliard and his SSS-tastic 1.034 OPS in LA out of the lineup, he’d still get bitched at.

      Torre gets a lot of shit from guys like me, but I’m willing to give him a flier here.

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    • joser says:

      At least Kemp is batting up in the order where he belongs. Baby steps.

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      • Joe R says:

        But obviously, in a very telling, huge, non-BABIP 38 points below his season mark and over 100 points below his 8th place slot BABIP, sized sample of 60 PA, Kemp went .291/.333/.436.

        Obviously he never went over to USC to get his lessons on poise from Mark “San-chise” Sanchez.

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      • JoeR43 says:

        Seriously, look at this. 23,000 results about Mark Sanchez’s poise in just 0.27 seconds. I only got 14,800 for Peyton Manning, and in 0.29 seconds.

        EVEN GOOGLE UNDERSTANDS MARK SANCHEZ IS FULL OF POISE-FUL POISENESS.

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    • JoeyO says:

      “Looks like Belliard started game 1 over Hudson. JOE TORRE IS THE DEVIL.”

      Ah yes, the “Don’t you dare talk about my team” argument.

      Believe it or not Chicken Little, the ability for one to see a blimish shouldn’t be taken as if the sky will fall. And I know this may come as a shock to you, but no team lives in a force-field bubble protecting them from having flaws – even the team you root for.

      Now don’t worry, we understand it takes time coming to grips with imperfection. But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t do you some good to remove that denial from your forehead.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

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