Los Angeles Dodgers: Joe Torre Has Allowed Pitcher Joe Beimel to Blossom

Molly GraySenior Analyst IMay 20, 2008

Southpaw pitcher Joe Beimel has spent much of his baseball career traveling between teams. He started off at a junior college in Maryland before making a move to Duquesne University, where he was named to the Hall of Fame and led his team in wins and complete games while there.

He was the first player ever drafted out of Duquesne to make it past the minors when, in 1998, the Pittsburgh Pirates picked him up. From 2003 through 2006, Beimel bounced between the Pirates, Twins, Devil Rays and Dodgers.

Then Dodgers manager, Grady Little, began using Beimel as a left-handed specialist and a middleman. He debuted with a 2.96 ERA in 62 appearances and seemed as if he was going to be an integral part of the Dodgers pitching staff, becoming a regular in the seventh and eighth innings.

It soon became evident that Grady Little had a bone to pick with Beimel. Little rarely let Beimel work his way through an inning, pulling him as soon as he walked a batter.

In 2006, Beimel pitched 70 innings in 62 game appearances, for an average of 1.13 innings per game, Beimel’s lowest average since 2004 when he pitched 1.2 innings in three games for Minnesota.

His numbers were even worse in 2007 however, when Beimel pitched 67.1 innings in 83 games, averaging less than one inning per appearance.

Beimel was involved in a controversy in New York right before the 2006 playoff season. Beimel cut his hand on broken glass in a New York City bar the night before their opener with the Mets, and was unable to pitch at all during the series and the Dodgers fell to the Mets three games to one.

Although coaches and fans alike had under-appreciated Beimel all season long, they were sure to lay blame on his shoulders for the Mets series. Beimel apologized to his team behind closed doors, and has been sober since the incident.

Despite setting the record number of game appearances by a Dodger lefty with 83, Beimel was not utilized to his potential in 2007.

Little seemed to be harvesting a grudge after the New York accident, because he rarely let Beimel pitch more than one or two outs. Little pulled Beimel at even the slightest sign of struggle, when he let pitchers like Mark Hendrickson and Brett Tomko pitch five or six innings with large numbers of walks, hits and runs. Granted these men were starters while Beimel was a middleman, however bias was clearly evident.

Thus far in the 2008 season, Beimel has appeared in 23 games. His season ERA is 0.61, with 1 run in 14.2 innings. He has walked six, struckout twelve, and has three holds and three wins. Beimel only had four wins in the entire 2007 season, and only two in 2006.

So, why does Beimel have more wins in the first part of this year’s season? Joe Torre.

Torre hasn’t made Beimel a better pitcher, he has just trusted in him. Torre, unlike Little, has allowed Beimel to develop in an inning. Of course as a relief pitcher, Beimel is expected to be proficient in getting outs, and getting them fast. However, Torre has realized that Beimel is capable of making the outs, even after giving up a double or a walk. Torre has had more faith in Beimel than did Little, and has let Beimel finish out more innings, which he has done successfully.

Overall, Joe Torre has been a blessing for Beimel. Hopefully, he will continue to improve this season and put up great innings, with the help of Dodger bats, allowing him to snag a few W’s along the way.

The only thing that Beimel could complain about the new management in 2008 is the fact that Torre made him cut his long messy hair.