Sunday, July 20, 2014

It's time for the outfielders to put up or shut up

The Dodgers are in a tailspin entering Sunday night's game in St. Louis.  They've dropped two straight, their offense is a disaster, and their outfielders aren't doing much to help.

Take away Yasiel Puig, and there's a whole lot of nothing left.  Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Carl Crawford combined to go 0-for-5 on Saturday with a big strikeout in the eighth (Kemp) and a game ending double play (Ethier).  Those guys are making about $57 million combined this season.

And to that, I say this: Boys, it's time to start performing on the field.  Or get out of the way and let others do it for you.

How many times are we going to go through this?  There's a whole lot of talk about what they've done in the past, but not a whole lot about what they're doing this season.  Probably because they're doing a big pile of nothing for the most part.

I'll give Ethier and Crawford this - they at least appear to play hard.  They're not getting the results that justify their contracts, but they aren't dogging it.  I'm doubt that makes anyone feel better, but it's something.

I'm not sure I can say the same about Kemp.  Saying you want to be the everyday center fielder is commendable, but not taking ownership for just how awful you've been is not.  As I pointed out the other day, it would be great if he said something along the lines of, "My bad, I've been terrible.  I've got to play better."  But have we?  Nope.

Instead, we've seen a lot of swings and misses, a lot of hanging his head, and defense that is so bad, it's gotten to the point where analysts are ripping apart how he chases after the ball.  Seriously.  I'm not sure I've ever heard an outfielder being criticized so harshly for how he simply runs after the ball.  That's pretty pathetic.

Ethier should be very thankful that Kemp is getting so much attention, because his offense has gone MIA.  Right now he's hitting .249 with four home runs and 34 RBIs.  He's slugging .374, by far the lowest in his career (.421 in '11 is his second lowest).  There's absolutely no reason to fear him at the plate.

True, he is ridiculously better in center than Kemp, but playing him so much there is at the expense of the offense.  He has no power left, doesn't get on base well (.313 OBP), and strikes out way too much.  There's just no magic left in that bat.

The odd man out was supposedly going to be Crawford when he came off the DL right before the All-Star break.  Kemp can be thanked again, this time for being so atrocious that plans changed.  But is he an upgrade?  It's hard to make that case.  In 49 games, he's hitting .255 with four home runs, 19 RBIs, and 10 stolen bases.  Not exactly numbers that get a manager excited to pencil his name in the lineup.

At this point, the Dodgers are stuck with these guys, at least for this season.  Every other team in baseball looks at their contracts and just starts laughing.  And after they get done laughing, they say, "Thanks, but no thanks" when it comes to talking trade.  Unless the Dodgers take on a BUNCH of cash remaining on their deals, you can forget about them going anywhere.

If these guys want to play as much as they think they deserve, then show it on the field.  If you're not in the lineup, then stay ready for when you eventually will be.  Because taking away Puig in right, there's two positions remaining in the outfield that have yet to be fully claimed, and we're at game #100 tonight. 

Show why you deserve to play.  Get a hit.  Take a walk.  Move a runner over.  Cut down the strikeouts.  Just do SOMETHING.

Or, accept the fact that your best days are behind you, and let someone else (Scott Van Slyke?  Joc Pederson?) come in and play that spot.

As the headline says, it's time to put up or shut up.  Make a choice.

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