Let's try this LaRoche thing again
February, 2, 2009
Does anyone remember how many times last spring and summer I wrote that the Dodgers should have given Andy LaRoche the everyday job at third base? I don't, either. But it was a lot. And if they'd taken my advice, they wouldn't have finished in first place. So that's on me. This year, though? This is Andy LaRoche's year. Dejan Kovacevic in the Post-Gazette:
That torn right thumb is finally, fully healed, Andy LaRoche will insist. But the confidence that clearly crumbled in those two mercilessly cruel months that followed his trade to Pittsburgh last summer?
Might take a while.
"I won't lie to you: I was down on myself. I really was," the Pirates' third baseman was recalling the other day. "Nothing was going my way, and it felt like I was putting all my energy just into fighting through it."
One element to which LaRoche clings: He was ranked the No. 1 prospect in the Los Angeles Dodgers' system entering the 2007 season by Baseball America, No. 33 overall in baseball entering last season. He is a career .295 hitter in the minors, with a terrific .382 on-base percentage and 95 home runs in 1,800 at-bats.
And he is only 25 years old, with 111 games in the majors.
"That's the thing, the knowledge that I've hit all my life," LaRoche said. "I just need to start fresh."
Management is committed to giving LaRoche a chance as the everyday third baseman, partly because he is out of options, partly because he was one of the key acquisitions in the Jason Bay trade, but largely because of his potential. He is not a complete lock, but he would need to struggle at that 2008 level for prospect Neil Walker or someone else to have a chance.