It seems clear there’s going to be a shortage of content here in the next few weeks. While Dustin is busy at work finishing his prospect rankings and there’s still a few things that could be covered from the abbreviated spring training, I’ve gone in a different direction.
Looking back through Dodger teams of the past from my childhood and closer to present day, I’ve decided to steal a fun idea Deadspin used to write about before it was unceremoniously destroyed. I’m going to just look back on weird times in the history of this franchise, which let’s be honest there’s plenty to choose from in the time period I feel comfortable writing about. So here’s my first attempt at Let’s Remember Some Guys: Dodgers Edition.
I’m going to start with a player I made a dumb joke about on Twitter, only for Daniel to point out a funny connection.
Now while the very bad 2005 Dodgers (71-91, the worst team since 1992) somehow managed to get four guys named Jason/Jayson at least 100 plate appearances apiece, I realized Grabowski has an especially rough place in the team’s history. Tied for the second-worst WAR among position players since 1990, Grabowski achieved the feat in 316 PAs, more than 300 less than any of the other bottom four players.
Arriving in Los Angeles after 20 PAs across two seasons with Oakland, Grabowski hit his first career home run off of Kerry Wood in one of his two career three-hit games. A week later Grabowski hit two home runs against Vicente Padilla and wrapped up an amazing 12-day stretch with a fourth home run against the Braves. In his 10 games from May 11 to May 22 in 2004, Grabowski slashed .361/.439/.750 with a 206 wRC+ (literally 6th in all of baseball during that incredibly specific stretch). Within that stretch came the screencap from above, as Grabowski was the runner on first during Alex Cora‘s 18-pitch at-bat a few days after his first career home run.
I’m guessing I stumbled across the greatest stretch of his career as he didn’t hit another homer for a month and never pulled off a multi-homer game the remainder of his career, ending with 11 after the 2005 season.
An impressive Triple-A player, with a career .875 OPS in 1,264 career plate appearances for three franchises, Grabowski never appeared in the majors again after his two-year tenure with the Dodgers. He spent 39 games in Japan during its 2006 season before his career effectively came to an end.
I’m going to stick with the mid-2000s theme and highlight a pitcher I was shocked to see ranks 10th in appearances since 1990. Carrara’s two stints with the Dodgers, from 2001-02 and again from 2004-06, included 249 games and 333 innings. Of the 39 qualified pitchers since 1990, Carrara ranks 38th in WAR at 1.7.
Carrara’s 2004 was easily the best of his career, with 1.3 WAR and a 2.18 ERA/2.68 FIP in 53 2/3 innings for the Dodgers after returning in June of that year. It didn’t exactly translate to the playoffs as Carrara allowed a homer to Larry Walker in his inning of work during Game 1 and then a two-run single to Mike Matheny in Game 2. Carrara appeared in the seventh inning of all three losses to the St. Louis Cardinals, though the Dodgers were trailing in all three before he entered, during the Divisional Series, the only postseason experience during a 10-year career.
While he started four games in his first stint with the Dodgers, the appearance I randomly remember Carrara for best was five-inning stretch in extras in 2002. A blown save by Eric Gagne against Atlanta, thanks to Gary Sheffield’s homer in his first game against the Dodgers since being traded by Los Angeles, led to five innings of work by Carrara. Entering in the 11th, Carrara struck out two while allowing two hits and a walk (and struck out himself in his lone at-bat) as he eventually earned the victory.
How did Carrara carved out a niche as a middle reliever while producing one of the franchise’s worst K-BB% and a 4.64 FIP? A 80.2 LOB% ranked Carrara behind only Kenley Jansen, Zack Greinke and Rich Hill among Dodger pitchers with at least 250 innings pitched since 1990.
I’ve found plenty more random names to throw out there if this was at least slightly entertaining for anyone. And if there’s any suggestions of players to revisit, feel free to let me know.