Sunday, July 13, 2014

Dodgers lacking a true Big Bopper

If you're looking strictly at box scores and standings, then you saw that the Dodgers beat the Padres 1-0 on A.J. Ellis's sac-fly RBI in the ninth inning on Saturday, putting them back in first place of the NL West.  You also saw that with the win, the Dodgers have the best record in the National League.

If you're someone who watches the game closely like I do, then you know the truth - the Dodgers are very fortunate to be in this position because their offense is practically on life support.  Those guys better be buying the pitching staff a whole lot of gifts.

Right now, the Dodgers don't have that one guy who strikes a whole lot of fear in the opposing team.  Last year it was Hanley Ramirez and Yaisel Puig, and even Adrian Gonzalez at times.  Before that it was Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier at various points.  Even before that, it was all about Mannywood.

Outside of MAYBE Puig, the offense is really struggling to find that one guy to step up and lead the way.  And even though Puig is starting in the All-Star Game and is in the Home Run Derby, he's hit one home run since the end of May and has seen his average dip from .344 to .307.  So he's on the list of struggling players as well.

How about the other guys?  Well, let's take a look:

Kemp?  He continues to look like a shell of his former self more and more each game.  Two more strikeouts last night, including one in the ninth when Gonzalez led off with a double, making it nine K's in the last five games.  Before that, he walked leading off the seventh, but was quickly erased on a stolen base attempt.  There's no life in his bat, as he can't catch up to fastballs and is constantly tricked by breaking balls.  What a waste.

Gonzalez?  He was hitting .337 with eight homers and 24 RBIs through April, but that has dramatically changed.  In the three months since then, he's hit six homers with 36 RBIs.  So while you look at the bottom line and see that he's fourth in the NL with 60 RBIs, the truth is that he did most of that damage at the start of the season.  A .182 average against lefties has really hurt him.

Ramirez?  Last year he was able to perform at a MVP level when he was on the field for half the games.  This season he seems to be getting hurt every two minutes, and when he does play, it's a nothing special.  He's hitting .275 with 11 homers and 48 RBIs, which aren't bad numbers, but again, nothing great.  It's his contract year, so I'm sure that's weighing on him heavily.  But the bottom line is that his injury history and lack of production is not giving him a good outlook for that huge contract he's seeking this offseason.

Ethier?  Let's just say that the days of "Andre the Giant" are long gone.  Much to his credit, he plays hard each time he takes the field, which is why he's claimed the starting job in center field.  But at .252 with four homers and 34 RBIs, there's barely any magic left in that bat.  Plus, he's just as lousy against lefties as A-Gon is, hitting .190.  Wow.

With all of this talk about the Dodgers trading for guys like David Price or Cole Hamels, I think it's only a matter of time before we start hearing about upgrading the offense.  Why not?  The guys I just listed above are either hurt, past their prime, or both.  They're certainly not showing any signs of turning things around.  Maybe they can, but most likely it wouldn't be anything drastic.

At what point does Ned Colletti decide to bring up young studs like Joc Pederson or Alex Guerrero?  They'd clearly add some life to an offense that lacks punch and consistency.  I'm sure that would lead to hard feelings if some of the rich boys have to sit, but so be it.

I have all the confidence in the world the Dodgers will make the playoffs.  They have a starting rotation that can give them plenty of chances to win.  But do they have the offense?  That's the part that really concerns me.

Without the big threat on offense to get the job done, then it will be another year without a ring.

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