Friday, May 31, 2013

Finger numbness has Beckett fearing the worst

Josh Beckett will be visiting a nerve specialist in Dallas on Monday to discuss the numbness he's felt in his fingertips on his right hand.  It's the same specialist who's dealt with Chris Carpenter last season.

How severe is this injury?  It's too early to tell, but that hasn't stopped Beckett from thinking his career could be over.  As he stated, when you can't actually feel the baseball on your pitching hand, well, that's not exactly good news.

There's no doubt that this year has been a very disappointing one for Beckett, which mirrors the struggles of his entire team.  He's 0-5 with a 5.19 ERA and 1.50 WHIP, which are obviously ugly numbers.  About the only thing he's done well is strikeout 41 in 43 1/3 innings, but then you see hitters have a .289 average against him, and the K's suddenly don't look like a big deal.

After coming over to the Dodgers in the blockbuster with the Red Sox last year, he put up great numbers by going 2-3 with a 2.93 ERA and 1.33 WHIP.  He was supposed to be a perfect guy for the middle of the rotation, pitching in a pitcher's park with two championship rings.  But all of that has meant squat this year.

He's already on the 15-day DL with a groin strain dating back to May 14, and combined with this news, don't expect to see him back anytime soon.  And if his worst fears are true, what a shame it would be if his career really is cut short.

I was expecting big things from him this season based on how strong he was at the end of last year.  However, reality has reared its ugly head.  He's obviously not an overpowering pitcher anymore, so relying on secondary stuff worked for a bit, not not so much now.  Plus, he's been banged up since the start, and might be really banged up now.  The Dodgers might not get anything out of him this year.

Injuries are tough both physically and mentally, and Beckett is in a spot right now where nothing seems to be going right.  Who can blame him for being so frustrated?  Let's hope this thing gets figured out and he can give the Dodgers something positive in the second half of the season.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

With Kemp out, it's Van Slyke's time to shine

The Dodgers not only lost to the Angels 4-3 on Wednesday night, but they may have lost Matt Kemp to a hamstring injury once again.  This is the same hamstring that caused him to miss two months last year, and all but derail what was an MVP-like start to 2012.  He claims it's not as severe, but that remains to be seen.

What should be clear is this: Scott Van Slyke has a golden opportunity to show the world what he can do at the plate.

On a team devoid of power hitting, Van Slyke is already tied with Andre Ethier for third on the team with four homers.  Here's another interesting stat - its taken Van Slyke 135 less at-bats to do so.  In fact, of his nine hits, four are doubles and four are homers.  That's a welcome sight on this team.

Last night he homered off of Angels' closer Ernesto Frieri with two outs in the ninth to pull the Dodgers within one.  Frieri isn't the most dominating closer in baseball, but he still is a darn good one with 11 saves.  For a young guy like Van Slyke to step up and deliver in that situation is impressive and cannot be ignored.

The logjam of outfielders that the Dodgers had to start the season wasn't going to make things easy for anyone to crack.  But, Carl Crawford is not quite an everyday player yet, Kemp has been struggling mightily and is now hurt, and Ethier has been just plain awful.  While people are very anxious to see Yasiel Puig, and rightfully so, let's appreciate what we have in Van Slyke right now.

If Kemp does miss extended time, then Van Slyke needs to be pencilled in the lineup each game without question.  On this team, he's a legit cleanup hitter who is only getting better.  I do not want to see Ethier's name listed above his.  Ethier is down to .253 and slugging .393.  Van Slyke is at .290 and .806.  Yes, it's a much smaller sample size, but anyone who watches the games can clearly see whose bat has more pop.  It's not even close.

Whether Kemp misses a few games or is placed on the DL, now is the time for Van Slyke to strut his stuff.  He'll be getting some help, as Hanley Ramirez appears ready to come off the DL in the next few days.  We can only HOPE he's healthy, and a trio of Adrian Gonzalez, Van Slyke, and Ramirez in the heart of the order looks pretty good.

No disrespect to Kemp, but if he does miss extended time, then it can only be viewed as a good thing.  It'll be good for Kemp to get away, rest up, and hopefully put the lousy start to the year behind him and return a better player.  Van Slyke will be able to see regular at-bats in his absence, and that helps the Dodgers' offense tremendously.

So do yourself a favor, Don Mattingly, and write Van Slyke's name on your lineup card with a permanent marker!  Keep him in, let him hit, and don't look back.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ryu takes control with dominant two-hitter

Hyun-Jin Ryu would like everyone to know that he's pretty darn good, too.

On a staff where Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke get most of the attention, it was Ryu who put together a remarkable two-hit shutout of the Angels on Tuesday.  Even more remarkable?  Luis Cruz finally got on the board with a two-run homer, leading the Dodgers to a 3-0 victory.

With lots of the attention most likely at Staples Center where the Kings won a thrilling Game 7 over the Sharks to advance to the Western Conference Finals, Ryu put on a show of his own.  He walked no one and struck out seven.  The only hits surrendered were a single by Howie Kendrick in the second and double by Chris Iannetta in the eighth.

The Angels countered with old friend Joe Blanton, who's had an atrocious year coming into this game.  Well, it was almost inevitable that he'd start turning things around at some point, and the Dodgers obliged for most of the way.  The game was scoreless through 4 1/2.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Dodgers finally got things going.  Juan Uribe got another start at third and singled leading off.  In stepped Cruz, who could not have possibly started this season off any worse.  Seriously, I could make the case that he was the worst player in all of baseball.  He was red hot to end last season, and limped into this one hitting under .100.  Yet, he once again avoided a demotion, with Dee Gordon getting the honors when Jerry Hairston was reinstated from the DL a couple days ago.

Cruz took an inside fastball from Blanton and hammered it out to left, giving him his first homer and only his fourth RBI.  And you know what?  Good for him.  Nobody deserves that much frustration, so even if he is sent down when Hanley Ramirez makes his return soon, at least he has something positive to build on.

Another guy looking for something... ANYTHING, to build on is Matt Kemp.  Don Mattingly made some waves before the game for moving Kemp to the fifth spot, instead of his usual #3 or #4.  In the sixth, Kemp doubled with one out thanks to a lot of hustle getting to second.  He then scored on A.J. Ellis's RBI single, and it was 3-0.

That was more than enough to support Ryu, who was absolutely phenomenal.  I know the Angels haven't played as well as they hoped (sounds like another team I know...), but they still have Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Mark Trumbo in their lineup (Josh Hamilton was a late scratch).  For Ryu to shut them down on only 113 pitches showed just how in control he was.

For all of the offensive and fielding woes this team has gone through, just take a look at their top three in the rotation: Kershaw, Greinke, and Ryu.  We all know what Kershaw is all about, so no need to discuss him.  Greinke is still working his way back from a broken collarbone, so give him some time.  And now Ryu seems to get a little better with each start.  I'm not sure many teams would want to line up against them in a playoff series.

That's obviously getting way ahead of ourselves, especially since the Dodgers are still dead last in the NL West.  But just imagine if the offense EVER starts to score runs more consistently.  Then the wins will start to come more often.  Hey, I'm trying to keep hope alive here.

Next up is two more against the Angels with the location in Anaheim.  I refuse to refer to them by the "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim" or whatever the hell they call themselves these days.  That just sounds ridiculous.  Chris Capuano takes the hill against the returning Jered Weaver.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What should the Dodgers do with Kemp?

The Dodgers won on Memorial Day, thanks to a big night from Adrian Gonzalez and overcoming a five-run deficit.  Unlikely?  You bet.  Especially considering their #3 hitter went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts.

Yes, that would be one Mr. Matt Kemp, who continues his season of futility as each game passes by.  And boy are the boo birds making their presence felt as the K's continue to pile up.  Here's a look at his numbers right now:

49 G, .253 AVG, .304 OBP, 9 2B, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 7 SB

Of his 47 hits, only 11 have gone for extra-bases.  And that's what he's become at this point - a glorified singles hitter.  More specifically, a singles hitter when he's not grounding out or striking out.

If Monday night didn't prove that something different needs to be done with him, then I don't know what will.  In my mind, there's three possible avenues the Dodgers can take.

1. Place him on the 15-day DL.  Maybe it's time Kemp admits that he once again rushed back too soon from an injury.  He had shoulder surgery in the offseason, and everyone thought he'd be all fine and dandy to start 2013.  Well, maybe the shoulder is fine, but it's hard to ignore a guy who's hit 20+ homers four times in his young career only having two thus far.  That's as big a red flag as there is.  Placing him on the DL would allow him to relax for a couple of weeks, rest his shoulder, then work on his swing when he's much healthier again.

I'd be surprised if this was to actually happen.  I think Kemp's stubbornness (and I don't mean that in a bad way) would prevent this from occurring.  But, say he continues to stink and Hanley Ramirez is ready to be activated.  Would the Dodgers make the swap?  It's something that should be considered at least.

2. Move him down the order.  This is something I've been saying for awhile.  I know it's a pride thing, which is why he was pissed he came out of the game last Saturday as part of a double-switch, but again, you can't ignore his stats.  How many times can this offense succeed when he provides no big hits in the heart of the lineup?  The Dodgers won in spite of him on Monday, and certainly not because of him. 

I would move him down to #6.  I was thinking #5, but even that seems too high right now.  The top four should be Carl Crawford, Mark Ellis, Adrian Gonzalez, and Scott Van Slyke.  That would leave someone like A.J. Ellis, Nick Punto, Jerry Hairston, or (believe it or not) Juan Uribe to hit #5.  Kemp is simply too unreliable and too strikeout prone to keep hitting high in the order.  Don Mattingly needs to put Kemp's pride aside, point to his mediocre numbers, and make the right move.

3. Start benching him more and not view him as strictly an everyday player.  This would be the trickiest move, as Kemp's huge contract (eight years, $160 million) isn't exactly one that you'd want riding the pine.  While I wouldn't consider him a platoon player like Andre Ethier should be at this point, I have no problem sitting him once a week or so.  As long as he's not producing at the plate, then he should be held accountable and not automatically penciled in the lineup.  The Dodgers' offense has very little margin of error, so Mattingly can only take so much of Kemp's lousy nights at the plate.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Buster Olney on trading Ethier

Buster Olney of ESPN has a good article up on his blog (Insider only) discussing the possibility of the Dodgers trading Andre Ethier.  Let's take a look at the highlights:
  • The Dodgers have two options in their minor league system of outfielders they can call up: right-handed Yasiel Puig and left-handed Joc Pedersen.  I'm guessing most know about Puig already, but Pedersen is hitting .320 with 20 extra-base hits for Double-A Chattanooga.  He's starting to make some noise as the season progresses.
  • Rival scouts and officials think it will be difficult for the Dodgers to move Ethier because of his massive contract extension he inked last season, which is at $13.5 million for this year and goes up to $18 million in 2015.  He's still owed $80 million of the $85 he signed for.  That's really hard to move all of that at once.
  • If the Dodgers really are serious about moving him, they might have to eat anywhere from 50-60% of that deal, says a rival executive.
  • In 2007, his OPS was .719 against lefties.  Last season it was down to .606.  It's actually much better this season at .729, but he's definitely viewed as a platoon player at this point.
  • There's a bunch of teams listed as possible fits for him: Blue Jays, Mets, Yankees, Pirates, Rangers, A's, Orioles, and White Sox.
  • The Mets make the most sense because they have the need and financial flexibility to swing a deal.
The biggest hurdle remains how much the Dodgers are willing to admit that the deal they made with Ethier last season was a bad one.  They obviously have lots of money, but possibly taking on half of that deal, if not more, is tough to pull the trigger on.

If the Dodgers really are serious about moving him, then they may want to act fast.  In 65 at-bats in the month of May, he's hitting .262 with four extra-base hits.  He looks a little worse and worse each game.  Then you throw in his displeasure at being benched this past week, and you can see the writing on the wall.

If I'm another team's executive, I only make the deal for the right price.  There's no way I'm taking the contract of a hitter on the wrong side of 30 whose numbers continue to dwindle.  Plus there's the maturity issues that seem to not really go away.  Nothing major, but still a bit concerning.

If I'm the Dodgers, I have to start exploring who's serious about making a trade.  We all know how this team hasn't played with much intensity this year, and at some point you have to shake things up.  And in Ethier's case, it's not like he's giving many indications that he's ready to hit again.  Southpaws own him, and a pathetic .186 average with runners in scoring position is something else that cannot be ignored.

With Don Mattingly's future up in the air, Ethier could very well be the first one to go if the price is right.

Gonzo provides the hits, Kemp provides the frustration

Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto had three hits apiece, Ted Lilly pitched strong into the sixth, and the Dodgers actually got the big run late.  Add it all up, and it was a win for the Dodgers over the Cardinals, 5-3.

That should be the story, but we know all that's probably not the case.  Instead, Don Mattingly's decision to yank Matt Kemp in a double-switch in the seventh was what got people talking.  Kemp was certainly one of them, as he was visibly upset and yelling once he reached the dugout.

More on that in a bit.  The story in the first inning was another unearned run given up by the Dodgers.  Matt Carpenter singled leading off the game, but Lilly got the next two.  A grounder to Punto at third by Allen Craig was booted, and Yadier Molina cashed in with an RBI double, making it 1-0.

The Dodgers responded right away against young John Gast, who was making his third career start.  Punto hit leadoff for the resting Carl Crawford and walked.  An out later, Gonzalez launched an RBI double off the wall in center to tie the game.

Gonzo gave his team the lead in the third.  Now hitting against Joe Kelly, who relieved Gast because of a sore shoulder in the second, Gonzo singled to center to drive in Punto and make it 2-1.

In the fifth, it was all about Gonzo again, who deposited a solo shot leading off, his fifth of the season, and it was 3-1.

At this point, the story then turned to the bullpen, and the age old question of whether or not they'd hold the lead.  Simply put: no.  Ronald BeliSUCKio relieved after Lilly walked Matt Holliday with one out.  The Cardinals soon tied it up on a double by David Freese and infield single by Pete Kozma.  Paco Rodriguez had to come in to get the final out.

This is also the time when the Dodgers' offense goes into hibernation, but thankfully not on this night.  The Cardinals gave that error from earlier right back when Crawford pinch-hit and reached on one with one out.  Mark Ellis delivered with a two-out RBI double, and it was 4-3.

The eighth is when Kemp was now on the bench and Juan Uribe up in his spot with runners on.  Rather than striking out like Kemp would have (you know it, don't deny), Uribe hit an RBI double to go up 5-3.

Brandon League went through the Cardinals in order to record his 10th save.

Before getting back to the Kemp drama, let's recognize the grizzled veterans who came through.  Gonzalez has been struggling of late, but he drove in three runs with some big hits.  Punto has a .427 OBP this season, and reaching base four times and scoring twice shows how well he's been playing.  Lilly gave up one earned run (two total) in just over five innings, lowering his ERA from 5.63 to 4.05.

Now back to Kemp, who got to watch the last few innings from the bench thanks to another miserable day at the plate.  He went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a walk.  He left five men on base, and all three outs were with men in scoring position.  He's now hitting .261 with a .313 OBP, 2 homers, and 17 RBIs.

In other words, he hasn't been anything close to what a superstar needs to be.  It's not like he's not trying, because he certainly is, but the end results are not good.  So he shouldn't have found it surprising that he was part of a double-switch late in the game that allowed Kenley Jansen to pitch another inning.  Mattingly said that was his only reason for yanking Kemp, and it had nothing to do with his struggles.

Ya, right.

Look, I'm sure Mattingly is telling the truth, or at least a half-truth.  But there's no way Kemp gets pulled if he's even hitting decent.  He's not, so it was the right call to bring in Skip Schumaker.  And it ended up working out, as Uribe doubled in a run, and Jansen got all four outs with K's.

I appreciate Kemp's fire, and hope he continues to play with that.  Faces of the franchise should be upset when they're not playing, and it's a natural reaction to be ticked.  I get that.  And I also think he should be commended for downplaying the incident after the game, even though I doubt he meant anything he said.  Good move by him in trying to put it behind him.  Hopefully it stays that way.

What Kemp needs is a big Sunday.  A couple homers, a couple doubles, a couple steals, maybe even a couple of diving catches would do the trick.  Plus it would support Clayton Kershaw, who gets practically no run support.  Young Shelby Miller, another fantastic Cardinals' arm, will oppose.  Should be fun.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Cardinals stomp the Dodgers in every way possible

The Cardinals had better hitting, pitching, fielding, and baserunning than the Dodgers on Friday night.

Other than that, I really like the way the Dodgers looked.  Very inspiring!

The game was over early as the Cardinals did everything humanly possible better than the home team, as they won a blowout, 7-0.  The Dodgers are starting a stretch of 20 games in 20 days, and boy do they look like they are ready to go on a big losing streak.

Chris Capuano was terrible, but at least got the Cardinals in order to start the game.  Carl Crawford led off with a single against Lance Lynn, so things were looking pretty good.  Then Crawford thought he was five years younger and tried to steal on the great Yadier Molina.  Uh, advantage, Molina.  Adrian Gonzalez popped up to end the inning.

The Cardinals scored in the second, and everyone in Dodger Stadium may as well have gone home at that point.  It could have been another easy inning, but Gonzalez had a bad toss to Capuano covering first, and John Jay reached.  Then David Freese gapped one, and Jay scored on a throwing error by Punto in which A.J. Ellis got plowed at the plate and nearly was knocked out.  Thankfully he wasn't, but two errors gave the Cardinals a lead they would not relinquish.

Allen Craig kept pouring on the Dodgers in his next couple of at-bats.  His two-run double made it 3-0 in the third, and a solo shot put his team up 4-0 in the fifth.

The final runs were scored on a two-run bomb by Freese and a sac-fly by Molina.

The whole time, the Dodgers had absolutely no clue whatsoever against Lynn.  Look, Lynn has turned himself into a great starting pitcher pretty much out of nowhere.  That's the Cardinals for ya.  They make the most of their talent, which landed them on the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated.

The Dodgers may make the cover soon as well, but for very different reasons.  They had all the swagger in the world before the season talking about World Series or bust.  You can guess which one of those choices has won out.  Just like the Lakers, throwing money around and talking a big game means nothing once the games actually start.  It's been a disaster.

The offense had three hits the whole night: Crawford's single in the first (then got caught stealing), Juan Uribe's double in the third (next two hitters K'd), and Skip Schumaker's infield single in the eighth (Uribe then erased him on a double play).  Nobody even reached third base.  Only Uribe reached second.  What a joke!

The guys who are supposed to carry the offense in Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Gonzalez were all terrible.  Gonzalez gets a bit of a pass because his numbers are still good, though he's down to .254 in May, and a pitiful .091 over the last seven days.  He's been banged up with a sore neck, and it's obvious he's not moving as well.  At least he's trying to play through it.

Kemp and Ethier, on the other hand, get no pass.  They continue to make no impact at all.  Kemp has 11 extra-base hits in 177 AB's.  Ethier has 12 in 155.  So much for those guys providing the power.  They are singles hitters, and nothing more.  It's painful watching how bad they are now, which makes the whole offense dull, lifeless, and boring.  Insert more synonyms if you want, you get the point.

Capuano didn't get any help from his defense, but still wasn't any good himself.  He lasted five innings for six hits, six runs (five earned), three walks, and four strikeouts.  He was robbed of a win in his last start because of the crappy bullpen, but he was every bit as bad in this one.  He's now 1-3 with a 5.60 ERA.

Ted Lilly will make his first start in just under a month on Saturday.  He looks old, washed up, and can't stay healthy.  I'm feeling really good about this one.  He'll go up against young John Gast, who's made only two career starts, resulting in two wins.  What are the odds he makes it a perfect 3-for-3?  Take a wild guess.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Breaking down Mattingly's vent

If Don Mattingly is about to be shown the door, he's making sure to make plenty of noise on the way out.

Before Wednesday's finale against the Brewers, won by the Dodgers convincingly 9-2, Mattingly benched Andre Ethier, questioned his team's toughness, and also questioned how it was put together in the first place.

Let's take a look at exactly what he said, with my thoughts to follow.

Mattingly - "We're in last place in the National League West. Last year at this point, we played a lineup with nobody in it, but they fought, they competed and battled every inch. I felt like we got more out of our ability. I don't know if that team was tougher. I don't know why and it was only for a short period of time."

My Thoughts - Right now the Dodgers are 19-26.  Last year at this same point, they were 30-13.  In fact, the 30th win came after being down 5-0 in Arizona with names like Tony Gwynn, Elian Herrera, and Bobby Abreu at the top of the order.  Matt Kemp was on the DL.  Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford were still in Boston, and Hanley Ramirez was still in Miami.

So with that said, I completely understand Mattingly's point that last year's team fought more.  And that's the problem with throwing all sorts of big names together - they each feel like they can get the big hit.  The results are a bunch of strikeouts and wasted at-bats.  The team last year had no choice but to focus on the little things like moving runners over and taking extra bases.  That showed their grit.

It's not like the Dodgers aren't getting men on base, because they certainly are.  But when men do reach, that's where we're seeing more "hero ball" of 2013 and not the "small ball" of 2012.  How many times this year have we seen them put together horrible at-bats with multiple runners on?  It's been embarrassing for the most part.

All in all, I believe Mattingly is dead on in saying his team needs to battle more.  Questioning the toughness of players is always a tricky issue, but can you blame him for being frustrated?  I certainly do not, and I'm actually happy he's not taking the laid-back approach to this.  It's time the players compete more, bottom line.

Mattingly - "Part of it is the mixture of competitiveness. It's not just putting an All-Star team out there and the All-Star team wins. You try to find that balance of a team that's got a little grit and fight, and has enough talent to get there also. It's not all grit and not talent that gets there, and it's not all talent and no grit. It's a mixture of both."

My Thoughts - These comments are the most stinging, to me at least.  That's clearly a shot against the new ownership and GM Ned Colletti.  That's how the Dodgers have been assembled, with multiple stars from the past (Crawford, Beckett, Gonzalez, Ramirez) taking key roles.  It didn't work last year, and boy has it failed this year.  There's obviously lots of time left, but who would have thought they'd be this bad already?

What people need to remember is that Mattingly saw basically the same type of roster assembled during his time coaching with Joe Torre on the Yankees.  The farm system was brushed aside for big names like Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Gary Sheffield.  While they did win a World Series in 2009, there were plenty of rough times as well.  I'm sure Mattingly is afraid of the same thing happening in LA, and he can't help but draw comparisons.

Still, it's odd to see him specifically point out the "All-Star" roster that's been put together.  Maybe it came out differently than he intended, but it's a bit of a cheap shot against Colletti.  While I'm glad to see him question how hard they're playing, I'm surprised he used those choice of words in describing them.

Mattingly - "There's a touch of a difference between saying you're giving your best effort and you're willing to fight for something. Some guys go to another level for that price, will do whatever it takes to win a game … that inside, you're not beating me today. There's something there you can't measure with SABR-metrics. You can't put a number on it."

My Thoughts - This is the quote that explains why Andre Ethier wasn't in the lineup on Wednesday.  Clearly, he's ticked that Ethier appears to give less than full effort at times, at least in his eyes.

I have to say, I'm glad Mattingly was blunt here.  While I thought his comment about how the roster is assembled was a bit too far, I don't think he was here at all.  Ethier extended his contract last season for five years and $85 million.  He then finished that season hitting .284 with 20 homers and 89 RBIs.  Those aren't dominating numbers, but certainly very good ones.

This season?  He's hitting .264 with 4 homers and 15 RBIs, which is pathetic.  With the bases empty he's hitting .307.  With runners on, it goes way down to .219.  Even worse, with runners in scoring position, it's .195.  That's horrible!  And for a guy expected to drive in runs hitting after Kemp and Gonzalez, it's even worse.

I'm more than happy to see Scott Van Slyke get more playing time in left field.  Van Slyke is a legit power threat and capable fielder who can also play right field and first base.  Plus, he just looks more into it.  Ethier doesn't.  There's no statistic for measuring body language, but clearly Van Slyke is the guy to go with here.  Ethier needs a serious wake up call, and if this does the trick, then fantastic.  And if not, it's time to look for a trade partner so Yasiel Puig can also get called up.

My Overall Thoughts - Again, I cannot blame Mattingly for showing frustration.  There's plenty of people who are questioning what the point is of going public with all of this.  My response is that I'm sure he's done so privately plenty of times.  Where has it gotten them?  I'll tell you - last place in the NL West.  Even with the injuries, that's clearly not going to cut it.

Maybe Mattingly knows he won't last much longer, so he wanted everyone to know why he's just as upset at his team as people are with him.  I think it's time the players are called out for their spiritless play.  It's about time!  A manager can only be patient for so long. 

We'll see if this talk works in the long run.  Maybe it will, maybe it won't.  But I applaud him for telling the truth.  It's not like things can get much worse, so why not try to light a fire underneath these guys?  I'm all for it.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Magill optioned to make room for Lilly

Despite putting forth his best performance in his young career on Sunday, Matt Magill is the odd man out in LA, as he's been sent back to Triple-A Albuquerque to make room for the returning Ted Lilly.  Lilly will soon rejoin the rotation, which gets more and more southpaw by the minute.

With an off day coming on Thursday, it's unknown if Lilly will even be needed to make a start anytime soon.  If the Dodgers do skip him, then he's looking at possibly May 28 against the Angels as his next one.  That will give him about a week of long relief out of the bullpen.

Lilly's only made two starts this year.  His first one was good (5 IP, 1 ER, 7 K vs. the Mets), and his second one not so good (3 IP, 4 ER, 2 K vs. the Rockies).  He hasn't appeared since that April 29 start against the Rox.  He last pitched in a rehab game with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga on Wednesday.

As for Magill, he can leave LA knowing that he showed definite signs of improvement based on his last start.  He still has a ways to go, so sending him back down isn't too surprising.  Walks are still a concern, as he has 13 in four starts, but he did strikeout eight against the Braves.  With the way these guys fall like flies, don't be surprised if he's back soon.

Rumors are swirling of Mattingly's demise

After a very disappointing series in Atlanta in which the Dodgers were swept despite holding early leads in all three games, it appears as if Don Mattingly's tenure in LA is in serious danger.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has just penned an article stating that he believes Mattingly will get the ax today.  And if not today, then after the upcoming three-game set in Milwaukee, especially if the Dodgers continue their poor play.  Throw in the fact that Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-Jin Ryu are the starters, and you can see why Mattingly would be on a very hot seat if they still lose.

There's been no noise out of the Dodgers' management that this is going to happen, but the signs are there.  We can all recall that before the season, the club chose not to pick up his option, effectively giving him "lame duck" status for this season.  It was understandable considering he's failed to make the postseason in his first two years, so they wanted to see how he'd do with a revamped, mega-rich roster this year.

So far, not so good.  At all.

Rosenthal, who's a very respected baseball reporter, makes many good points.  He accurately observed how annoyed Mattingly was this weekend with the defense and bullpen, which is a big change from his usual calm, upbeat demeanor.  That's a sign of a man who knows he could be on borrowed time.

A scout who talked to Rosenthal also made a good point.  That calm demeanor of Mattingly appears to be backfiring right now.  This is a team that is so boring and lifeless, it's hard to get excited about them.  These guys need someone to fire them up, and like it or not, Mattingly isn't doing that right now.

My opinion is that I believe Mattingly will manage in Milwaukee.  Thursday is an off day, and if the Dodgers continue to stink up the joint, that's the day it could happen.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Just your latest embarrassing Dodger loss

I would laugh if this wasn't all so pathetic.

For the third straight game, the Braves made all the clutch plays late, the Dodgers made none of them, and you can just guess which team ended up winning.  A 2-1 lead in the eighth turned into a 5-2 loss, all aided by more awful bullpen work and errors galore.  That's a sweep for the Braves as the Dodgers fall to eight games under .500.

Young Matt Magill got the call, and like the other starting pitchers this series, was actually spotted an early lead.  After a rain delay of nearly two hours, Carl Crawford doubled leading off against Mike Minor.  Mark Ellis made his return from the 15-day DL and grounded him over to second.  Matt Kemp struck out, of course, but Adrian Gonzalez hit an RBI single to go up 1-0.

The defense was actually good in the bottom half, as Magill escaped thanks to a strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play.  That would pretty much mark the end of the good defense, so savor the moment, Dodger fans.

Gonzalez was again responsible for driving in a run in the third.  Crawford walked, and an out later, Kemp actually doubled for two on.  A sac-fly RBI by Gonzalez to deep center made it 2-0.

The Braves got one back in the fifth.  It started on an error by Nick Punto at short, as Andrelton Simmons beat it out.  To Punto's defense, that probably should've been a hit all along, so we'll let that slide.  With two outs, Minor kept the inning alive with a single, and Jordan Schafer's RBI single made it 2-1.

Magill was chased in the sixth when Justin Upton singled leading off.  J.P. Howell got to an 0-2 count on Freddie Freeman, then had to wait out another rain delay.  When back, he got Freeman to ground to second, which was then booted by Ellis for two on.  Ronald Belisario had to get pinch-hitter Evan Gattis to ground into a forceout to end it.  Yes, Belisuckio actually did something right.

Like the other two games in this series, the offense went into hibernation after the early going.  Poor Scott Van Slyke had to leave the game after fouling two straight pitches off his left ankle.  That pretty much sums up the Dodgers' entire season so far - painful.

Belisario, Paco Rodriguez, and Kenley Jansen all pitched in the seventh and held the Braves scoreless.  No thanks to Rodriguez, however, as he beaned Jayson Heyward in his only batter faced.  Jansen K'd Upton for the last out.

There would be no such luck in the eighth, as defense and bullpen just completely melted down.  Nine hitters came to the plate as the Braves took apart the atrocious bullpen.  Jansen gave up a hit and a walk.  Brandon League was awful, just awful.  Four runs scored off of him, though it needs to be pointed out that there was a big error in this inning.

Who committed the error?  That's right, Mr. Championship Experience himself, Juan Uribe.  He couldn't handle a simple bunt to load the bases.  An RBI single by Gerald Laird tied it, and a sac-fly RBI by Ramiro Pena gave them the lead.  Chris Johnson added an RBI single, and Schafer a perfect suicide squeeze bunt just for fun.

Craig Kimbrel got the save, striking out Kemp, Gonzalez, and Andre Ethier.  Again, it's symbolic.

The Dodgers have suffered many embarrassing loses this year, but this one might top them all.  Three errors on simple ground balls.  Three hits, and none after the third.  Four runs given up by the bullpen.  All three batters striking out to end it.  Those are just brutal stats.

But, that's life as a Dodger right now - just brutal.  Almost everything about them is terrible.  The offense, defense, bullpen, and managing.  Yes, it's easy to point the blame all at Mattingly, but it's not like he's the one who makes all the pitches.  But he also is the one making the calls to the bullpen, and it seems to rarely work.  That's where he gets the blame.

About the only positive to take away from this is another good start from the rotation.  Magill went five innings for four hits, one unearned run, three walks, and eight strikeouts.  His reward?  Another no-decision.  He still doesn't have a record after four starts.  He did lower his ERA by nearly two runs, which shows how good he was today.  Alas, it didn't matter.

Let's see if management wakes up and does something with this horrendous bullpen.  They simply cannot keep running the same clowns out there, only to watch them get squashed day in and day out.  Either way, they're off to Milwaukee for three starting Monday.  Clayton Kershaw gets the call.  Expect him to be dominant for eight innings... only to watch the 'pen blow it in the ninth.  Write it down.

Dodgers by the numbers

In today's installment, I'm going to take a look at the offense and all of the TERRIFIC and RECORD-BREAKING numbers they put up on a consistent basis.

Or at how much they suck.  Here goes.

OBP: .329 (10th)
Slugging %: .365 (2nd to last)
Runs: 140 (2nd to last)
Home Runs: 28 (3rd to last)
K's: 264 (2nd least)

Analysis: It's pretty amazing that the Dodgers have very little strikeouts, get on base in the top third of the league, yet are only ahead of the Marlins in runs scored.  Why is that?  Take a look at the power numbers of homers and slugging %, which are abysmal.  They simply do not have the horses to drive them in, as Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier have done a big pile of nothing.

Runs scored vs. Left: 55 (11th)
Runs scored vs. Right: 85 (2nd to last)
Runs scored in 7th inning or later: 42 (4th to last)
Slugging % when behind: .346 (4th to last)
Home Runs in #3 spot: 3 (3rd to last)
RBIs w/ RISP: 99 (4th to last)
Average w/ bases loaded: 4-for-31, .129 (2nd to last)

Analysis: Obviously, when the pressure is on, the offense goes into hibernation.  Like I said before, it's not as if they aren't getting runners on base, it's actually the opposite.  But a stat like 4-for-31 with the bases loaded is absolutely embarrassing.  Those are golden opportunities to have a big inning, and they fail miserably.  Unless a stat like that changes, this team will continue to go further and further in the tank.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Crappy offense, bullpen, and team

If it can go wrong for the Dodgers, it will.

Despite Matt Kemp robbing Jayson Heyward of a homer, and Chris Capuano pitching shutout ball into the eighth, the Braves used consecutive homers from Evan Gattis and Andrelton Simmons against Kenley Jansen to get the win, 3-1.  That's now two straight nights of the bullpen blowing slim leads late in the game.

On paper, you wouldn't think the pitching matchup of Capuano and Kris Medlen would be a duel, but it sure was.  Neither man surrendered an earned run going into the eighth.  In fact, the lone run for the Dodgers was unearned.

That occurred in the fourth.  Adrian Gonzalez drew a walk with one out.  Andre Ethier flied out as part of his pitiful 0-for-4 night.  Gee, I'm so glad he was back in the lineup and not Scott Van Slyke, who hit two taters the night before.  Great decision by Don Mattingly... not.

Now back to the game.  The second of the Dodgers' two hits on the night came here, as Skip Schumaker lined one down the left field line.  Justin Upton bobbled it a bit, which allowed the snail slow Gonzalez to score.  I never thought I'd see him run from first to home, but the misplay deep in the corner was the reason why.

Capuano was awesome in keeping it a 1-0 game going into the eighth.  With one out, B.J. Upton actually got a hit with a single.  To say that guy has been in a slump would be an understatement, as he was Luis Cruz-like bad.  OK, so nobody's that bad.  That would be darn near impossible!

Evan Gattis came into pinch-hit, so Mattingly called upon Jansen.  Gattis battled him with three straight fouls on a 2-2 count.  Then he squared one up and absolutely unloaded on a laser out to left, giving the Braves a 2-1 lead as Capuano looked like he wanted to spit nails in the dugout.  Just for good measure, Simmons hit one out next to go up 3-1.

That's all Craig Kimbrel would need, as he made only 10 pitches in earning his 13th save.

Looking at the lineup coming into this game, I knew the top third of the order would have to make the most noise if they wanted to win.  Well, Carl Crawford, Kemp, and Gonzalez combined to go 0-for-11 with a walk and run scored.  The only hits were a single by Tim Federowicz and the double by Schumaker, which wasn't an RBI because of Upton's error.

To sum everything up for this lineup, out of 131 pitches faced, only two went for hits.  That is absolutely, truly, utterly pathetic.  But not the least bit surprising for the most boring offense in baseball.

It's a shame that Capuano didn't get the win, but like the lack of runs scored, it's not surprising.  He lasted 7 1/3 innings for five hits, one run, no walks, and five strikeouts.  He's lowered his ERA in his last two starts from 10.38 to 4.84.  About the only justice is that he didn't get pegged with the loss, Jansen did.

And speaking of Jansen, how bad was he?  He can be dominating, but it's fair to say the rest of the league has caught up to him a bit.  He no longer throws high-90s, it's more like around 92.  He's always been a one-trick pony with the cutter, but now hitters don't look as intimidated by it.  All in all, he had a chance to step up and get some big outs, and failed miserably.

Then again, if Mattingly let Capuano keep pitching, perhaps none of this would have happened.  He was only at 91 pitches and didn't walk a hitter all night.  Yet, the second the right-handed Gattis came to the plate, Mattingly brought the hook.  It was all downhill after that.

It's not Mattingly's fault that the bullpen stinks.  But there's no denying that it's yet another wrong call late in the game by him.  Much like going with Paco Rodriguez the night before, only to watch him walk Heyward and surrender a grand slam to Upton.  It was the wrong call then, and the wrong call again on Saturday.

I don't want to be one who piles on every move by Mattingly when things go wrong.  However, the heat is definitely on him right now.  The team looks lifeless, and his moves late in the game have once again backfired.  If things don't turn around in a hurry, and unless Clayton Kershaw or Zack Greinke are on the mound I don't see why they would, then I wouldn't be surprised to see him relieved of his duties.  That's the point we're at right now.

A win on Sunday would at least be something positive to take away from a frustrating weekend.  It won't be Kershaw, as he's been pushed back to Monday in Milwaukee because of his large workload last start.  The mediocre Matt Magill will go instead.  Advantage, Braves.  This has sweep written all over it.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Van Slyke's big night goes to waste

The Dodgers got everything they could have asked for in Scott Van Slyke on Friday, as he hit two solo homers and made a great sliding catch in the fifth.

Then the defense and bullpen decided to flush all of that down the toilet in the matter of one inning.

Two misplayed balls in the sixth soon led to a grand slam from Justin Upton, and the Braves went on to down the Dodgers, 8-5.  Despite three separate leads of 1-0, 3-2, and 4-2, it didn't mean a thing in the end.  It was another blown opportunity.

After Hyun-Jin Ryu worked around two walks in the first, the Dodgers got him a run in the second.  A.J. Ellis doubled leading off, and believe it or not, Luis Cruz singled an out later to put runners on the corners.  OK, so it was only a cheeseball infield hit, but it raised his average at the time to .100.  Seriously, that hit RAISED his average to that in his 28th game.  I'm beyond the point of laughing about it since it's so utterly sad.

Anyway, Dee Gordon chopped a ball into a fielder's choice that was good enough to score Ellis from third, and it was 1-0.

The Braves grabbed their first lead of the night in the third.  A single by Andrelton Simmons and double by Jayson Heyward put two runners on.  An RBI groundout by Upton and RBI single by Freddy Freeman later, it was 2-1 Braves.

The back and forth night continued in the fourth as the Dodgers went back ahead by one.  Ellis walked and Cruz reached on an error (because one hit was way more than enough for him on this night).  With two outs, Ryu and Carl Crawford went back up the middle for run-scoring singles, and it was 3-2.

The fifth and sixth innings were amazing because of the difference in defense.  In the fifth, Van Slyke made a great sliding catch to rob Chris Johnson, and Matt Kemp topped him right after that with a diving catch right after.  Van Slyke slugged his first of two homers to start the sixth, and the Dodgers looked good up 4-2.

And then the bottom of the sixth came, and it all unraveled.  Matt Guerrier struck out B.J. Upton to start, pretty much because everybody strikes that guy out.  Then Jordan Schafer popped up into shallow left center, and all three guys converging couldn't catch it.  Simmons lined one right to Cruz after that, and like a damn Little Leaguer scared of the damn ball, he dropped it.

So instead of three outs and inning over, Paco Rodriguez came in with one.  He immediately walked Heyward to load the bases.  Upton waited on a fastball right down Broadway, and nearly hit it that far as well for a grand slam, going up 6-4.

The game was all but over after that, as the Braves added two more runs in the seventh.  Crawford again made a bad defensive play by dropping a liner in left to score another run.  Heyward added an RBI single right after that, and it was 8-4.

Van Slyke crushed his second homer to dead center to make it somewhat close at 8-5, but that was it for highlights.  Craig Kimbrel got Kemp to groundout to short as the rain was falling to end the game and his hitting streak at 14.

My, what a difference an inning can make.  The two catches by Van Slyke and Kemp were Web Gem worthy.  Then Cruz and Crawford showed not soon after that just how far the Dodgers have to go in order to even be a decent team again.  The second something looks good, they remind you that they're not.

Ryu had trouble with his control, and for the first time in his brief career failed to go at least six innings.  Still, five innings and two runs with five strikeouts ain't too bad.  He left with a chance to get the win, and that vanished in no time.  He remains at 4-2.

Two of the worst things about the Dodgers this year have been Cruz and the middle relief.  Well, that was on full display in this one.  Cruz is hitting .096 and had the big error.  The bullpen certainly didn't get help from the gloves, but still couldn't get the big outs when they needed them.  Guerrier gets a pass because he should've had a 1-2-3 inning.  Rodriguez and Ronald Belisario were the usual mixed bag.  That's no surprise.

Let's hope a two-homer night will earn Van Slyke more starts.  I've got no problem watching Andre Ethier sit again.  He actually did appear in the ninth, and predictably struck out against Kimbrel.  It wasn't even fair for him, Kimbrel was so much better.  Can Van Slyke play third?  I doubt it, but hell, give it a shot!  Anyone but Cruz!

Chris Capuano is coming off his best start against the Marlins, picking up his first win.  He'll take the mound on Saturday against Kris Medlen.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

With Kershaw and Greinke at the top, anything's possible

Dodger fans, take solace: we have Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.  If Tuesday and Wednesday are any indication, they're the best 1-2 punch in baseball.  And should only be getting better.

One night after Kershaw came withing one out of going the distance for a shutout, Greinke made his first start in a month and beat the Nationals, surrendering one run in 5 1/3 innings.  Considering the guy was supposed to be out anywhere between 3-4 more weeks, I'd say this is an encouraging sign.

It's made even more encouraging by the fact that the Dodgers scored five runs in these two games, but still won.  Encouraging indeed.

Let's start with Kershaw.  Right now he's 4-2 with a 1.40 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, and 67 K's in 64 1/3 innings.  Fantastic numbers for the 2011 Cy Young winner, and runner-up last season.  But the scary thing is, he's actually a notoriously better second half pitcher.  In his career, he's had a 2.92 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in the first half, and those numbers go down to 2.42 and 1.09 in the second.

Currently he's first in the NL in innings and ERA, second in strikeouts, and third in ERA.  So it's hard to imagine him actually getting better than that.  But then again, this is Clayton Kershaw.  Where his ceiling is, we have no idea.  I think back to LeBron James when he won this year's MVP award, and he admitted he has no idea how good he can get.  That's what I think about Kershaw.  He's 25, which isn't even his prime years yet.  With the way he's perfected his breaking and off-speed stuff, he truly is on the pace to be one of the greatest of all-time.

Coming out of Spring Training, the hope was that Kershaw and Greinke would provide a dominating 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation, but Greinke's elbow issues prevented that from happening.  Now, everything is back on track.  He's nowhere near 100% yet, but still held a good team like the Nationals in check to win a close game.  And we all know that when you pitch for the Dodgers, you better be able to pitch well in close games, or you stand no chance of getting a win.

To be fair, the Nationals' lineup did not feature the names of Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth because of injuries, and they obviously are two big bats.  It's still a great start, however, no matter who was and wasn't playing.  To give your team a boost like that when you could've easily rested longer or made another rehab appearance goes to show how committed to winning this guy is.  Major props to him.

The Dodgers' offense will continue to be an issue going forward, especially with Hanley Ramirez banged up, among many other people.  Matt Kemp has a 14-game hitting streak, but no homers or much power to show for it.  Andre Ethier looks a little better in recent days, but again, there's no power.  Carl Crawford has slowed down after a red hot start.  Adrian Gonalez is swinging very well, but there's that neck problem that seems to be lingering.

In other words, don't expect the offense to suddenly start to sizzle.  Still, if you're an opposing manager and you have to face Kershaw and Greinke in the same series, you're very worried.  Both have a history of getting stronger as the season progresses, and both will make life miserable for hitters under the hot sun of Dodger Stadium this summer.

And when you have two aces at the top, anything's possible.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Greinke starts Wednesday as Beckett gets DL'd

The answer to the previous post: Zack Greinke will come off the 15-day DL and start Wednesday night in Dodger Stadium against the Nationals.  Switching places with him will be Josh Beckett, who has a left groin strain.

With the way the Dodgers have disappointed this season, I'm not surprised that Greinke isn't getting another rehab outing.  He's their big money investment (well, one of many anyway) and if he's good to go, why not put him out there?  I'm still nervous that it's too soon, but hopefully he'll prove me wrong.

A day after Clayton Kershaw once again showed the world why he's the best pitcher in baseball, it will be cool to see Greinke go right after him.  That was the original plan coming out of Spring Training, but with Greinke's elbow acting up, he had to be pushed back a few days.  Of course, now that Kershaw threw 132 pitches on Tuesday and is getting an extra day of rest, who knows if they will remain back-to-back.

As for Beckett, it's obvious that he's just a shell of his former self.  Is it because of his groin, or because he's just plain washed up?  I'm fearing it's a little of both, as his 0-5 record and 5.19 ERA in eight starts are just pitiful numbers.  I really thought he was going to have a good season, but then again, I also thought Luis Cruz would be good, so that shows what I know.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Greinke will start Wednesday, but where?

Ken Gurnick, a reporter at, has just tweeted that Zack Greinke will indeed make his next start on Wednesday, but it's unclear yet if that will be in the majors or minors.  The concern, obviously, is that he'll do something again to his collarbone, which has healed way ahead of schedule.

It was only a month ago that Greinke got hurt in his now infamous brawl with the Padres' Carlos Quentin after Quentin took exception to getting beaned in a close game.  The original thought was that Greinke would be gone eight weeks, yet here we are right around four and he's supposedly ready to go.

That could be great news for the Dodgers, and just as equally as scary.  Take Matt Kemp circa 2012, for example.  He tried to comeback way too soon from a hamstring injury, only to be shelved again, which completely derailed his season.  Plus he tried to play through a bad shoulder injury late in the year that required offseason surgery, and hasn't looked the same since.  There's two examples from the same body of not taking the proper time to heal.

There's no doubt the Dodgers can use a player of Greinke's caliber on the mound, as he's a legit #1 starter on many others teams.  But starting pitching is not their biggest issue.  It's an issue, just not the biggest one.  Scoring runs is their biggest area of concern, followed by the bullpen.  Greinke can help a little bit in each category by putting up blanks deep into the game, but he's not there to hit homers and get saves.

My point being that I'm already more than a little nervous about putting Greinke back out there so soon, especially when there's other areas that need more help.  I'd like to see him take another week or two to ensure he's all good.  Hey, I'm no doctor, but I'm scratching my head a bit that he went from suffering a potential season-altering injury to back in a month.  But, maybe that's a testament to modern medicine.  I sure hope so.

Stay tuned in the next couple of days to see where Greinke ends up.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Kemp reaches 1,000, Dodgers actually win 2 straight

For the first time in a month, the Dodgers have won two straight against the same team.  And also for the first time in a month, the Dodgers scored more runs in the same game than the other team.

OK, so that last sentence was a joke, but not the first.  Chris Capuano struck out seven, Scott Van Slyke homered, Matt Kemp got his 1,000th career hit, and the Dodgers beat the Marlins, 5-3.  They took two straight games, something they haven't done against the same team since downing the Padres a month ago.

Both teams failed to take advantage of two singles in the first.  Van Slyke got the start for Adrian Gonzalez at first, who's still battling neck discomfort.  Leading off the second, he hit a solo shot to center for the 1-0 lead.  That actually made me angry again, because I still contend he should've pinch-hit with the bases loaded on Friday and not Tim Federowicz, but I digress.

A one-out double by a suddenly hot Skip Schumaker led to another run in the fourth.  He then went to third on a single by Federowicz, and scored on Nick Punto's sac-fly RBI, making it 2-0.

The Marlins cut into that lead in the sixth, when they finally got to Capuano.  With one out, Justin Ruggiano laced a hard one out to left, and it was 2-1.

The seventh was a little dangerous, as Capuano was chased when he allowed a one-out double to Derek Dietrich.  In came Kenley Jansen, who struck out both Adeiny Hechavarria and Chris Coghlan to end the threat.

In the bottom half, the Dodgers extended their lead.  Punto and Juan Uribe greeted Jon Rauch with singles, which brought in Mike Dunn.  Carl Crawford found room for an RBI single through short and third to make it 3-1.  The bases were soon loaded, and Andre Ethier scored another on a sac-fly, and Van Slyke on a single, pushing the lead to 5-1.

Jansen threw more smoke in striking out two in the eighth.  Don Mattingly gave the ball to Brandon League in the ninth, and things certainly got interesting.  With two on and two out, Hechavarria hit an opposite field two-run double to get the score to 5-3.  Greg Dobbs then pinch-hit and grounded one hard to third that Uribe had to make a sharp play on for the game's final out.  That very well could have been an RBI single and a one-run game, and who knows what would've happened from there.

For the second straight night, the Dodgers completely dominated this game, for 8 1/2 innings anyway.  And quite frankly, when you're playing the pathetic excuse for a Major League team that is the Marlins, that's the way it should be.  Yes, Giancarlo Stanton is hurt, even if he was in the lineup, it's no-namers galore.  It has to be tough rooting for that team.  Good luck!

Capuano came into the game with a 10+ ERA, and exited in much better shape.  He lasted 6 1/3 innings for five hits, one run, one walk, and seven strikeouts.  He also lowered his ERA by nearly four runs to 6.60.  With Zack Greinke due back soon, I would think Matt Magill would be the odd man out, so Capuano will get more starts.  I'm sure we all feel a little more comfortable about that after today.

Like I brought up before, I was very happy to see Van Slyke get a chance.  The Dodgers are third in baseball in OBP, but 28th in runs scored and slugging %.  A big bat like Van Slyke could help change that.  I'm not saying we should expect Manny Ramirez circa 2008 here, but anybody who hits a home run on this team should automatically be given more at-bats.  Since he can play outfield as well, I'd like to see him mixed in this upcoming week.

This week will be a tough one for the Dodgers, as they take on two playoff teams from last season, the Nationals and Braves.  First up is three against Bryce Harper and the boys at home, followed by an off day Thursday and a trip to Atlanta for three.  Josh Beckett will look for his first win yet again on Monday.  It won't be easy, as Jordan Zimmermann and his 6-1 record opposes.

Dodgers wake up, flash some leather, and finally win

It feels good to win.

Yes, the Marlins are terrible, and this win might only be a slip on the radar of a lost season, but on Saturday night the Dodgers could do no wrong.  Led by a strong start from Hyun-Jin Ryu and three diving catches on defense, they got the win over the Fish, 7-1.  It's their first W since April 30, which was also a victory for Ryu.

Andre Ethier had a four-hit night, by far his best game of the season, and he doubled leading off the second.  A.J. Ellis sacrificed him over to second, and Skip Schumaker's RBI single made it 1-0.  The Dodgers never looked back from there.

The third inning brought an incredible sight - Dee Gordon hit a leadoff homer.  He took a low pitch and golfed it just over the wall in right for the improbable shot.  The inning also featured a dumb baserunning move by Matt Kemp, who overran second and was gunned down from behind.  Schumaker picked up another RBI on a fielder's choice, and it was 3-0.

Two more runs were pushed across in the fifth.  Ethier and Ellis started things with one-out singles.  Schumaker became an RBI machine with a run-scoring single, and Juan Uribe got another one in on a sac-fly, and the Dodgers were in full control at 5-0.

The only blemish of the night for Ryu came on a long home run hit by Miguel Olivo to start the seventh.  The Dodgers responded right away in the bottom of the frame on an RBI single by Uribe and a run by Schumaker from a passed ball to close out the scoring on the night.

There's a lot that went right for the Dodgers, but the defense was fantastic the whole way.  The first of three great diving plays came from Schumaker in the fifth, as he robbed Matt Diaz of an RBI with a two-out stop to end the inning.  Carl Crawford got in on the act with a full-stretched diving catch of Nick Green in the seventh, and Ethier's sliding catch denied Diaz in the eighth.

Heck, even Javy Guerra gloved a wicked liner right back at him for the game's final out.

Ryu is quietly becoming a very effective Major League starter, as he turned in another quality performance by going 6 2/3 innings for five hits, one run, three walks, and three strikeouts.  He's now 4-2 with a 3.40 ERA and 1.21 WHIP.  His strikeouts have been down, but his ground balls have been way up.  He's also pitched at least six innings in all eight starts, which is huge considering how awful the middle relief has been.

All in all, he's been worth the money spent for the Dodgers.  Yes, I know they gave away a boatload's worth to get him, but with injuries to Chad Billingsley, Zack Greinke, Chris Capuano, Ted Lilly, and even Stephen Fife, it's good to rely on Ryu to get deep into the game with a chance to win.  And he's clearly only getting better.

Offensively, the Dodgers were a shocking 5-for-11 with RISP, which is almost an unheard of stat for these guys.  Schumaker had two of those hits as part of this three RBI night.  Uribe had two hits, a walk, and a sac-fly in four productive at-bats.  Ethier had four hits despite playing on a sore leg.  Every starter reached base at least once, including Ryu with a walk.

Kemp was only 1-for-5, but somehow has a 10-game hitting streak.  It's by no means a dominating streak, but it's something to try and build on.  He has raised his average from .253 to .269 at least.  The power is still AWOL, though, and it remains a big issue.

The Dodgers will look to start the week off fresh with a series win over the Marlins on Sunday.  Yes, I know, nothing to get excited about, as the Marlins feature a bunch of no-namers.  But at this point, the Dodgers would take wins over Little League teams.  Capuano gets the call.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Like Parcells says, "You are what your record says you are"

And if you're the Dodgers, your record says you're the sixth worst team in baseball.  But I'll take it one step further - I think they are THE worst team in baseball.  So take that, Bill!

Friday night once again showed just how horrible this season has been.  They got up 3-0 on a three-run homer by Adrian Gonzalez in the first.  They went on to lose 5-4.  It was so Dodger-like it was scary.  You can call it being pessimistic, but I call it being realistic.  That's life as a Dodger fan.

This game featured all the ingredients for another loss: little to no clutch hitting, mediocre starting pitching, atrocious bullpen work, bad baserunning, and another questionable decision by the manager.  It's a sight we've all grown very accustomed to already.

The first inning was the only positive one.  Matt Magill was able to get the Marlins in order.  Carl Crawford then led off with a single and Nick Punto walked.  Gonzalez, and thankfully not Matt Kemp, got the start in the three hole and smacked a three-run shot to center.  That was just like his three-run homer last year against the Marlins in his first game as a Dodger.  He won that game.  This one?  Uh, no.

The score stayed 3-0 until the fourth, when Magill flushed it all down the toilet, and all because of a couple of damn walks to a horrible team missing their best offensive player in Giancarlo Stanton.  97-year-old Placido Polanco walked leading off, and two outs later, no-namer Marcell Ozuna also walked. 

No big deal, right?  Afterall, there were two outs and 23-year-old Derek Dietrich was up playing in his second career game.  So of course that meant he lined a three-run homer out to right to tie the score at 3-3.

Even though it was only in the fourth and the score was tied, the Dodgers were done.  Again, you can call it pessimistic, but that's how the Dodgers are right now.  They have no offense to keep scoring runs, and their bullpen is a joke, so it's a big advantage for the other team.  Those are the facts, and that's exactly what happened.

With Ronald Belisuckio in to start the seventh, the Marlins jumped all over him.  Rob Brantly singled to start, and Chris Coghlan came within inches of a two-run homer, settling for a double instead.  Juan Pierre singled home a run, and a double play ball by Adeiny Hechavarria still scored another, making it 5-3.

The Dodgers actually scored another, and even more shocking was that it was mostly because of Kemp.  He singled leading off in the eighth and then stole second.  An RBI single up the middle by AJ Ellis made it 5-4.  Andre Ethier had a chance before Ellis, but he flew out.  He is absolutely terrible and needs to be traded.  But I think I've said that before.

Steve Cisheck plowed through the Dodgers in order in the ninth for his fifth save.

I've already brought up the bad pitching and lack of clutch hitting, so let's discuss the other two reasons for the loss: baserunning and managing.  The baserunning part came in the fifth.  Juan Uribe pinch-hit and singled.

OK, now that you've recovered from falling out of your chair, just know that he soon erased that good feeling with an idiotic move on the bases.  After going to second on a single by Crawford, Uribe was caught wandering too far off of second when Punto missed a bunt.  A throw behind easily nailed him, and nothing came of that inning.  Uribe just continues to further and further embarrass himself each game he takes the field in Dodger blue.  Yet, there he still is playing.  I continue to be amazed by that.

The managing part came in the sixth.  The bases were loaded with two outs on a single by Ellis, a double by Skip Schumaker, and an intentional walk by Dee Gordon.  Rather than calling upon Scott Van Slyke, who was killing the ball at Triple-A Albuquerque, Don Mattingly went with Tim Federowicz and his zero power.  You'll be shocked to know that he easily flew out to center.

Again I ask, Why not go with Van Slyke in this spot?  He was recalled to give a boost from the bench because of his power.  But you would rather watch Federowicz fail to get a hit again?  It's not rocket science!  Play the guy you said would be used in spots like this.  I just don't understand the (lack of) logic at all.  Another terrible move late in the game.

Magill had some good moments, but more bad ones.  He lasted five innings for three hits, three runs, four walks, and two strikeouts.  Maybe he'll be a good starter one day, but I have to be honest - he just doesn't look that good to me.  He's just OK.  I know it's easy to pile on him after another loss, but I don't get the feeling that he'll ever be anything special.  Like I said, he's just OK.

The two weekend games are huge for the Dodgers.  Can you imagine if the Marlins sweep them?  That could equal the end of Mattingly's time in LA.  I don't know that for sure and it's purely a guess on my part, but we're at the point where we have to start thinking about it.  Hyun-Jin Ryu will pitch on Saturday.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Van Slyke is back, Herrera sent packing

The Dodgers made a move on Friday to try to do SOMETHING with their horrific offense, promoting Scott Van Slyke from Triple-A Albuquerque.  The recently recalled Elian Herrera is the odd man out.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Van Slyke, Chad Billingsley, out for the season with Tommy John surgery, has been transferred to the 60-day DL.

This might seem like a minor move, but when you see Van Slyke's awesome numbers down on the farm, there's something to get excited about.  In 34 games, he's hitting .397 with 9 homers and 30 RBIs.  He also has a whopping .503 OBP.  Good Lord, Don Mattingly should put him in the cleanup spot right away!

Seriously, hit him at cleanup.  Why the heck not?

For now, though, Van Slyke can expect to see time at first and as a corner outfielder.  All kidding aside, I do think he'll get his chances.  The Dodgers are so desperate for any sort of power and spark at the plate, he needs to get opportunities to prove his worth.  With Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford banged up, and with Andre Ethier terrible, expect to see his name etched into the lineup and soon.  And that's a good thing.

No offense to Herrera, but he stinks.  So the Dodgers won't miss him at all.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Disgraceful Dodgers drop 7th straight

A 2-0 lead, sixth inning, ace pitcher on the mound.  A perfect recipe for stopping a losing streak, right?


Paul Goldschmidt's two-run homer off of Clayton Kershaw tied it in the sixth, and his solo shot in the eighth off of Kenley Jansen was the game winner as the Diamondbacks got the win and the sweep, 3-2.  At 13-20, the Dodgers are in dead ass last in the NL West.  Exactly where they belong.

The game was scoreless until the fourth.  Dee Gordon led off and singled, and he quickly scored on Nick Punto's RBI double.  Matt Kemp flew out, mostly because you can't possibly expect him to hit a homer in this spot.  Or, hit anything in this spot.  Adrian Gonzalez picked him up with an RBI double, and it was 2-0.

I would also like to point out that Juan Uribe stranded two in the same inning by flying out.  That pretty much sums up just how sad and desperate the Dodgers are for offense, that they have to use that guy as a starter.  Pathetic.

Kershaw was rolling until the sixth.  Didi Gregorious reached leading off on an error by Gordon.  No surprise there at all, as Gordon might be the worst defensive shortstop in baseball.  It's not like he doesn't make good plays, but you definitely have to take the bad with the good when it comes to him.  And wouldn't you know it, Goldschmidt deposited a two-run shot to left to make it 2-2.

Jansen took over for Kershaw in the eighth after 104 pitches.  That worked out at first as A.J. Pollack and Gregorious were set down, but on a 3-2 pitch, Goldschmidt launched his second homer of the night, and it was 3-2.

The Dodgers actually had a great chance to at least tie the game in the ninth when Skip Schumaker pinch-hit and doubled against Heath Bell leading off.  But in true 2013 Dodger fashion, the next three did absolutely jack squat with it.  AJ Ellis grounded out, Andre Ethier struck out, and Carl Crawford flew out to end it.  Typical.

On one hand, you can say that Kershaw wasn't at his best, as he only struck out four over seven innings.  But then you see that he only gave up five hits, one earned run, and one walk, and you go back to feeling sorry for him.  That's got to be tough knowing that no matter how many times you take the hill, you have to be practically flawless just to get a win.  He has three wins this year, and deserves at least three more.  That's life with the Dodgers.

During the seven-game skid, they've scored over three runs only once.  That would be the 10-9 game they lost to the Giants last Saturday, which was an absolute joke.  In the other games they've scored 3, 1, 3, 2, 3, and 2 runs.  Speaking of an absolute joke, there's another one.  Same old song and dance.

Gordon hit leadoff and went 2-for-4 with a run, but was also picked off of first and committed that huge error.  Basically, he balanced himself out by the end of the night.  Kemp had one hit, and still only has one homer on the year.  Gonzalez had to leave after two at-bats because of his neck strain.  Ethier had one hit and is hitting a deplorable .243.

To sum it all up, there's just no punch in this lineup.  The punch they do have in Crawford and Gonzalez are both hurt and appear in and out of the lineup on any given day.  The rest of the lineup is an embarrassment of names like Uribe, Elian Herrera, and Luis Cruz.  Those guys wouldn't even beat my local Little League team.

Friday night begins a three-game set at home against the Marlins.  Well isn't that appropriate?  The worst team in the NL (Marlins) vs. the third worst team (Dodgers).  The Marlins came into this season as the league's biggest joke, and now the Dodgers are quickly taking over that coveted crown.  Matt Magill will go against young sensation Jose Fernandez.  Let's just go ahead and call this the eighth straight loss, OK?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

5 ideas to fix the Dodgers

The Dodgers are terrible.

We all know that, and we all see it every night.  They're banged up, can't drive in runs, can't close out games late, and make plenty of mental errors.  A $200+ million payroll doesn't fix any of that.

So how can things be fixed?  It won't be easy, it won't be quick, but here are five ideas I have for turning things around.  Some might be radical, but so what?  It's not like this team is going anywhere at this current rate anyway, so why not try some new things?

1. Demote Brandon League and put Kenley Jansen back in the closer's role.  League has been absolutely embarrassing as of late.  He's given up runs in five of his last six appearances, and seven of 10.  He's been charged with the loss his last two appearances, and his ERA has risen from 4.09 to 5.40.  Hardly the numbers of a closer.

I know League signed a big contract for a reliever this past offseason (three years, $22.5 million), but that can't be the reason to keep running him out there late in games just to watch him flop.  Kenley Jansen is by far the best option right now.  When you're looking at a closer, you want him to strike people out.  Well, League's K/9 is a paltry 4.73, while Jansen's is 11.12.  There is no comparison.  Jansen is certainly not flawed, as he basically just throws a cut fastball over and over.  But when it's on, he's unhittable.  Make the switch, get League some work in the middle innings, and don't look back.

2. Promote Yasiel Puig.  He's the most exciting thing not named Clayton Kershaw the Dodgers have right now.  And he hasn't even played Triple-A ball yet.  And you know what - Who cares?  He made a huge splash in Spring Training and was the talk of the baseball world.  I did not blame the Dodgers one bit for sending him down to get him seasoning.  The only thing I said at the time was that he needed to be on standby in case the offense sputters.  Uh, the offense is sputtering.

There are understandably concerns with his maturity, as he was recently busted for reckless driving.  He's only 22 and obviously has plenty of growing up to do.  And guess what I say to all of that once again - Who cares?  The Dodgers need offense, they need some excitement, and he's just the guy to bring it.  Let the kid play, and buy him a damn chauffeur for all I care.  Just get him to Dodger Stadium and fast.

3. Trade Andre Ethier.  Speaking of calling up Puig, it would have to be Ethier who is let go.  Look, Ethier has had lots of great moments in Dodger blue, as he was at one point the walk-off king, earning the nickname "Andre the Giant."

And now?  A .243 AVG, 3 HR, 10 RBIs.  Not horrible, but certainly not good either.  He still can't hit lefties with a .250 AVG, but now he can't hit righties either (.239).  At home he's hitting .218.  With runners in scoring position, it's .161.  The bottom line is that I just don't see any pop in his bat anymore.  He can hit singles, but that's about it.  The days of his clutch hitting are done.  Because he's only 31, there's still time to trade him before he gets out of his "prime."  I have to believe some teams would pounce on him, believing that a change of scenery would do the trick.  If I'm Ned Colletti, I'm making it happen.  Everyone deserves a change here.

4. Demote or DFA Luis Cruz and Justin Sellers.  To be honest, I couldn't possibly care less what happens with these two.  They have had some of the most atrocious trips to the plate I can ever remember.  Cruz is hitting .091 with 2 RBIs in 66 ABs.  Sellers is hitting .191 with 2 RBIs in 68 ABs.  That's pathetic!

Yet, because of injuries and way too much patience, there they are being run out there almost every night.  They are clearly not Major League-level players.  Clearly.  Down in Triple-A Albuquerque there's guys like Alfredo Amezaga, Brian Barden, and Rusty Ryal playing infield positions other than first base.  Dee Gordon and Elian Herrera are already up because of injuries.  Do I have much confidence in any of them?  No.  But at least it would be better than watching Cruz and Sellers stink up the joint game after game.  Enough is enough!

5. Move Kemp out of the #3 spot in the order.  The Dodgers' leader in home runs right now is Carl Crawford with five.  Kemp has one, which is the same as Sellers and Nick Punto.  Um, not good.

The Dodgers simply can't afford to keep watching Kemp fail over and over to make an impact in the three-spot.  How many times already have we seen him in a spot to deliver a big hit, only to ground out?  I can appreciate Don Mattingly having faith in his boy, but the Dodgers need to score runs!  It's not about riding out a slump while others hit because so many others aren't hitting, too.  I would move him down to #5 for now until he proves he can consistently hit again.

Crawford's numbers have cooled off lately, but he's still hitting .304 and is a career .291 hitter as the third hitter.  He's definitely an option to move into that spot.  Adrian Gonzalez is an option as well since he's hitting .340, though I like him in the cleanup spot better.  Either way, it's time to fix the lineup instead of hoping it'll fix itself.  It's not going to happen.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Leave it to the Dodgers to make Cain look good again

Was there ever any doubt?

Matt Cain came into Sunday's game winless on the year in six starts with an ERA of 6.49.  He definitely didn't look like the Cain of old who once threw a perfect game with 14 strikeouts.

So naturally, he pitched into the eighth inning and gave up one run against the Dodgers, as the Giants held on for a 4-3 win.  And to answer the question above - no, there was never any doubt.

With Adrian Gonzalez again a late scratch because of a sore neck, the comically bad lineup included the names of Luis Cruz at third and Juan Uribe at first.  Nick Punto had been swinging well and started at second, so it was only right for him to go 0-for-5.  He did his best to fit in well, and it showed.

Hyun-Jin Ryu found himself in immediately trouble in the first.  Before you could blink, Andres Torres, Marco Scutaro, and Pablo Sandoval all singled to load the bases.  Much to Ryu's credit, he only surrendered one run on an RBI fielder's choice by Hunter Pence.  That could've been a whole lot worse.

This night belonged to Pence, as he was responsible for driving in all four Giants' runs.  The second RBI came in the third.  Scutaro again singled with one out and Buster Posey walked with two.  Pence smoked a double to left, and it was 2-0.

In case you thought Cain was mowing down the Dodgers left and right, that wasn't exactly the case.  In fact, the Dodgers got at least a runner in scoring position in five of the first six innings: Matt Kemp in the first, Uribe in the second, Carl Crawford in the third, Dee Gordon in the fifth, and Andre Ethier in the sixth.  Take a wild guess if any of them scored.  Uh, no.

Pence struck again in the fifth to increase the lead for the Giants to four.  Torres singled leading off but was erased on a pickoff by Ryu.  He finally got Scutaro to fly out for two down.  Then Sandoval walked, Posey singled, and Pence brought them both in with a two-run double.  Two-out damage started by a walk.  Burns pitchers all the time.

The Dodgers mercifully got something to go their way during a long eighth inning in which they nearly tied the game.  Bruce Bochy used five different pitchers as the Dodgers scored three runs, but again stranded a couple.

It all started on a one-out walk to Kemp, which signaled the end of the night for Cain after 109 pitches.  Javier Lopez, the left-handed specialist, got Ethier swinging for two down.  It figures.  Ethier whines about not playing against lefties, but then does a big pile of nothing against them.  I think the Dodgers need to give seriously consideration to trading him.  He looks like he doesn't have any big hits left in his bat.

Anyway, George Kontos came in and was pretty bad, as Ellis singled and Uribe walked to load 'em up.  That's when Gonzalez was called on to pinch-hit, which Bochy countered with lefty Jeremy Affeldt.  Gonzo was able to hit a two-run single up the middle to make it 4-2.  Gordon scored another run on an infield single, and it was 4-3.  Jerry Hairston pinch-hit and struck out against Jean Machi to end the inning.

Kenley Jansen completely blew the Giants away by striking out the side to send the game to the ninth.  Even with the top of the order up, the Dodgers went down meekly in order, as Romo collected his 12th save.

I'll give the Dodgers credit for coming back in the eighth, as Lord knows they blew plenty of chances to score before that.  They actually moved runners along that inning and took a couple of walks.  It didn't matter in the end, but at least the Giants had to sweat a little.  That counts for something, right?

Ryu wasn't at his sharpest, as he lasted six innings for eight hits, four runs, two walks, and two strikeouts.  The two K's was a season-low, as he next lowest was five against the Giants in his first start.  It's not like his offense gave him any support anyway, so he was in a no-win situation.  Such is life when you pitch for the Dodgers.

At 13-17, this season is obviously a big disappointment so far.  Injuries, no clutch hitting, and a leaky bullpen have completely hammered this team.  On nights they pitch well, they can't score.  On nights they score, they can't hold the lead.  On nights they do both right... well, they may still find a way to lose.  That's the way it's been.

The Dodgers have six games at home this week: three vs. the Diamondbacks and three vs. the Marlins.  Combined they have a 26-37 record.  So, if Dodgers are ever going to start chipping away and getting better, this would be a good week for it.  Although, they could also bury themselves even more by continuing to play like crap.  Chris Capuano comes off the DL to go on Monday.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

After 25 years, it finally happened

Add this nice little tidbit to the long list of Dodgers' ills this year: they lost to the Giants for the first time in 25 years when scoring at least eight runs.

I would laugh if it wasn't so sad.

Despite putting up a seven-spot in the fifth to overcome a 6-1 deficit, the Dodgers still found a way to lose for the second straight night on a walk-off homer.  Friday night it was superstar Buster Posey, Saturday night it was the unknown Guillermo Quiroz.  The loss puts the Dodgers three games under .500, the win gives the Giants a share of first place with the Rockies at 18-12.

Hey, at least the Kings won.  So rejoice, LA.  At least you have SOMETHING to be happy about!

With a lineup that didn't include Adrian Gonzalez (sore neck) or Hanley Ramirez (15-day DL, hamstring), the Dodgers got pounded in the first couple of frames.  Matt Kemp ended the Dodgers' opening inning with a double play, which of course led to three runs for the Giants.

Young Matt Magill didn't exactly get much help from his defense, as Angel Pagan popped up leading off for the Giants.  The combination of the sun and hitting into a dead zone allowed the ball to drop for "double."  After two straight walks to Marco Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval, Posey came within a few feet of a grand slam, setting for a grand rule double for the 2-0 lead.

The third run was scored on Gregor Blanco's infield single to make it 3-0 after one.

The next inning wasn't much better, as Magill didn't even last the whole frame.  Scutaro and Sandoval singled with one out, and Scutaro scooted (I had to say it) home to go up 4-0.  Following a walk to Posey and single by Hunter Pence, J.P. Howell relieved and gave up a sac-fly RBI to Blanco before getting Brandon Crawford to ground out.

At this point the game sure looked like a lost cause, as there sure were better things to watch (Bulls-Nets, Kings-Blues, Mayweather-Guerrero on PPV).  A.J. Ellis was able to hit a solo shot with one out in the fourth to make it 5-1.  The Giants got that run right back on an RBI fielder's choice, so it was 6-1.

The unthinkable happened in the fifth: the Dodgers actually got hits with runners on.  And it was against a good pitcher in Ryan Vogelsong, who hasn't pitched well this season, but is a proven playoff winner.  Like many rallies, it all started on a walk, as Nick Punto hit for Howell and drew the free pass.

A fielder's choice erased Punto at second, but Jerry Hairston's ground rule double put runners in scoring position.  Kemp didn't hit a signature bomb, but his single to center was good enough to plate two to put the Dodgers down 6-3.

Andre Ethier flew out to make it two down, which is absolutely no surprise considering he's only hitting .250 and is pretty much a complete non-factor at this point.  Ellis drew a walk, which led to consecutive RBI singles by Skip Schumaker and Juan Uribe.  Yes, you did just read that.  At 6-5, Vogelsong's night was now over.

Jean Machi came in, but didn't fare any better.  One of the real bright spots for the Dodgers on this night was the 2012 debut of Dee Gordon, who smoked a two-run triple to right center to get the lead at 7-6.  An RBI double by Punto put the Dodgers up 8-6 in a stunning inning to say the least.

Now if you thought the Dodgers would just cruise from there, you would be sorely mistaken.  Keep in mind it was only the fifth, and the Giants began the comeback right away when Andre Torres hit a solo shot off of Javy Guerra, who also was recently recalled from Triple-A.

The Dodgers blew a chance with two on in the sixth, which naturally led to the Giants tying the game in the bottom half.  Guerra loaded the bases on a single, walk, and hit-by-pitch.  Paco Rodriguez did an excellent job in striking out Crawford and Brandon Belt, but a wild pitch allowed Posey to score and tie the game at 8-8.

Both teams traded runs in the seventh thanks to RBIs by Carl Crawford and Sandoval.  Gordon got to second in the ninth but was stranded, and Posey grounded into a double play with the bases loaded to send the game to extras.

The Dodgers looked tired in the 10th, as they were already playing short-handed and couldn't even keep a lead with nine runs scored.  With one out in the 10th, Quiroz lined a solo homer to left off of Brandon League to send the Giants home happy once again.

The nine runs was a season-high, but the bottom line is that it's three straight loses, four of the last five, and five of the last seven.  This team simply isn't capable of putting everything together at once.  If they score, they give up too many.  If their pitching comes through, they can't get the big hit.  It doesn't help that everybody and their mother is hurt, too.

Magill will certainly have better nights, as he couldn't get anything going.  He lasted only 1 1/3 innings for six hits, five runs, four walks, and two strikeouts.  I can't help but point out how his downfall started when nobody could catch Pagan's popup leading off.  That's still no excuse for walking four, but I have to think he wouldn't settled in better had the first hitter not reached.  Guess we'll never know.

The bullpen was the usual mixed bag, which may actually be an improvement considering how lousy they normally are.  The southpaws Howell and Rodriguez combined for one run in nearly four innings.  Guerra was terrible, which is no surprise.  It's hard to imagine he was once a solid closer.  Yikes.  Ronald Belisario gave up another run, and somehow has an ERA of 3.52.  It seems like that guy gives up a run every appearance.

League is the one who lost it in the 10th, and nearly blew it in the ninth anyway.  The positive is that he's 8-9 in saves (this was not a save opportunity since the score was tied).  The negative is that his ERA is 4.38.  Basically he's a closer who doesn't intimidate anyone.  He's just kind of there.  Some good, some bad, but certainly doesn't have the stuff that scares the opposition.  Kenley Jansen does have that stuff, so let the speculation begin that he should be the man at the end again.  I can't argue with that.

As I mentioned before, Gordon was definitely a bright spot.  He was reluctantly recalled on Saturday, but played like the 2011 version that excited everyone to begin with.  He collected two hits, including a two-run triple, scored twice, drew a walk, and stole two bases.  When things are clicking, he's a very exciting player to watch.  With the way bums like Luis Cruz and Justin Sellers are playing, Gordon has a golden opportunity to strut his stuff.  Let's hope he continues to do so.

The Dodgers will look to avoid the sweep on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball.  Hyun-Jin Ryu was fantastic in his last start, and the Dodgers need him to be the man again against the struggling Matt Cain.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

With Hanley out, here are his brutal replacements

It hasn't been made official yet, but it's only a matter of time before the Dodgers announce that Hanley Ramirez will go on the 15-day DL with a hamstring injury.  It's a tough break for him and the Dodgers, who desperately need his bat in the lineup.

The early word is that Dee Gordon will be brought back up to fill his spot.  It's not so much that he deserves to be up, but more because the Dodgers have some awful players on their roster as it is, so they have to give it a shot.

Speaking of those awful players, let's take a look at those players who could see increased at-bats in Hanley's absence.

Dee Gordon
(With Triple-A Albuquerque) 25 G, .319 AVG, .397 OBP, 0 HR, 12 RBI, 14 SB
We all know the story of Gordon, who was great in his appearance at the end of the 2011 season, couldn't get on base or stay healthy last season, and began this season in the minors.  As you can see, at least he's playing pretty well down on the farm, as he's finding ways to get on base and has only been caught stealing twice.  But, he once again is struggling with the leather, as he has eight errors in 25 games.  That just won't get it done at the big league level.  If he wants to get to LA and stay there, that has to get better.

Nick Punto
20 G, .386 AVG, .471 OBP, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 1 SB
About the only part-time player who's given Dodger fans any confidence has been Punto.  He plays hard and can get it done defensively at multiple positions.  He certainly won't give any help in the power department with 15 home runs in 13 seasons, but that's not his game.

Jerry Hairston
18 G, .234 AVG, .275 OBP, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 0 SB
I like how hard Hairston plays, but once again, it's another example of someone getting all sorts of playing time with little results.  In 47 AB's, he has two extra-base hits.  There's just nothing special he brings to the plate anymore.

Justin Sellers
23 G, .194 AVG, .270 OBP, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 0 SB
Awful, just awful.  He was the surprise Opening Day starter at short, and has shown everybody why he completely didn't deserve it.  Absolutely no pop in his bat, and just an eyesore to watch.

Luis Cruz
22 G, .098 AVG, .125 OBP, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 0 SB
I can make the case that of all the players who receive regular or semi-regular playing time, Cruz is the worst.  In 61 official at-bats, he has six hits.  Think about that.  SIX FREAKIN' HITS.  That is so horrendous and embarrassing, I don't even know what else to say.

Skip Schumaker
23 G, .119 AVG, .288 OBP, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 SB
Schumaker was brought to the Dodgers on the advice of hitting coach Mark McGwire, who had some success with him in St. Louis.  Well, that success must have never made the plane ride over from Missouri, as Schumaker has been pathetic.  He's slugging .143, too.  That says it all right there.

Juan Uribe
17 G, .200 AVG, .391 OBP, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 0 SB
The average is no surprise, but the on-base is a pleasant surprise.  Not that it matters because he hasn't stolen a base since 2011 with a whopping two.  The fact that after his first two seasons of miserable baseball in LA he's still receiving at-bats is a perfect reflection of just how bad the Dodgers are offensively.  And how desperate they are for somebody to step up.

Bottom Line:
I wouldn't be opposed to Gordon getting the call-up, as with the exception of Punto, everybody else has no business whatsoever of getting Major League at-bats.  In a perfect world, Sellers and Cruz would be sent packing to Triple-A, or just flat out DFA'd.  Because of injuries, that's probably not going to happen.  Schumaker should also be a goner, but will be given a longer leash because of his track record.  I've already accepted the fact that Uribe isn't going anywhere because of his contract, so that's just the way it is.