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.

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