Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Chin-hui Tsao Should Have to Be Vetted by MLB Before Reinstatement

There was interesting news reported yesterday that the Dodgers are attempting to reach an agreement with right handed reliever Chin-hui Tsao, who has been out of MLB for over five years.  Reports are that Tsao is throwing his fastball in the mid-90s, at the ripe old age of 34.  Those excited about the proposed signing should probably hold back their enthusiasm.

Tsao was suspended for life from the Taiwan Baseball League (CPBL) for match fixing and accepting bribes from gamblers.  Never convicted, nonetheless, Tsao received the permanent ban in Kennisaw Landis fashion from the CPBL.  He has languished outside of organized baseball ever since.
Chin-hui Tsao attempted to pitch in the Australian Baseball League with Adelaide a few weeks ago, but his past transgressions didn't allow him to participate in the ABL (photo source:  LINKED HERE )
Suspended after the CPBL Championship Series, in which he was the losing pitcher of the 7th game of the series.  Allegations claim he was engaged in accepting unsuitable benefits from gamblers in August of that very season.  Later after being suspended by the CPBL, Tsao ran into hot water in 2013 in an embezzlement scheme with his restaurant, an allegation made public by his estranged girlfriend in litigation that has not yet been resolved.

Tsao attempted to make a comeback in the Australian Baseball League last year, but the ABL decided to suspend him as well after meeting with CPBL officials who presented their evidence for the lifetime ban.  All the facts of the case have not been made public, but they must be rather severe for such harsh decisions to be made.

If Tsao is reinstated and allowed to play Major League Baseball, the decision would be rather unprecedented.  First, because MLB would risk it's friendly relationship with the CPBL, which is something MLB has been cultivating for years.  Second, because MLB has NEVER tolerated even the hint of players associated with gambling.

If by some miracle Tsao is allowed in, watch for Pete Rose to speak openly about it.  Reality is that Rose will probably be Tsao's greatest fan for reinstatement as it would most likely open the door for him as well.  

I honestly don't see this happening, but who knows?  Maybe Bud Selig's replacement, Ron Manfred, will opine on the side of leniency.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Now as the Dust Settles, More Outfielder(s) Will Have to Be Moved

In this topsy turvy world of following the Dodgers, it's almost as if we are watching a soap opera with the dynamic turns of events.  Kemp is gone, then maybe not.  Then the teams are working out another package due to his arthritic hips.  Oops!  No, the original deal is back on again.  This is crazy.

Rather than update things, I'm finding that it is simply best to wait until the teams make the formal announcements of the trades, which should be happening as soon as Friday.  

What we know is this:

Sources from the L.A. Times, ESPN, and MLB network are saying that Kemp and Fedex are now Padres and Grandal and Weiland are now Dodgers.

This means that Rollins will be a Dodger and Eflin will be a Phillie.

There are more names probably, but as I said, it'll be best to wait until the dust clears and the announcements are made.

What continues to be unsettled is the glut of Dodger outfielders that remain on the roster.  They include Chris Heisey, Scott Van Slyke, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Scott Pederson, and Yasiel Puig.  Watch for two of those six to be moved before spring training.  The organization's willingness to part with players owed huge sums of money leads many to believe that a player like Andre Ether could be on his way out with the Dodgers paying the majority of the $73.5 million he is owed over the next four years.

It is probably safe to say that the Dodgers would have to agree to pick up about $45 to 50 million of that contract, as Ethier's depleting numbers make him a hard sell.  An American League team with a short right field porch might be an attractive landing spot for him.  Perhaps New York or Texas could be a fit, but it would be shocking to see the Dodgers obtain anything of value in return.

Carl Crawford is owed $62.2 million through 2017 and he's another practically immovable piece that probably remains in blue due to that contract.  Perhaps that's good though, as Crawford appears to be one of the lone Dodger pieces remaining that has speed.  He swept 23 bags in only 105 games last year, and it is expected that he, along with 36 year old Jimmy Rollins, will be the only real stolen base threats on the club now that Dee Gordon is a Marlin.

So that leaves Van Slyke, Pederson, Puig and Heisey.  Of the quartet, I'm thinking that Van Slyke may be the player that is moved.  That's unfortunate, as Scott has shown signs of brilliance and has never been given a full time shot.  Unfortunately, the numbers game has caught up to him.  Heisey was acquired because of his versatile defense and pinch hitting skills.  Pederson is the new centerfielder and Puig continues to be, in my opinion, a player with the ability to be the next Roberto Clemente.

Scott Van Slyke and Andre Ethier - Two Dodger outfielders that could be moved in the coming weeks. (photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

A good match for Van Slyke may be in the A.L. East where he could be seen as a valuable asset to face Wade Miley in Boston.  His stat line of .444,  8 for 18, with 5 homers, should be of interest to Baltimore, Toronto or New York.  It's rather silly to use that small sample size against a lone pitcher as a selling point, but ownage is ownage, and Scott certainly has it against the new Boston starter.

Van Slyke was solid in his 98 games last season, hitting .297 with a .387 OBP and .524 slugging percentage.  He smacked 11 homers over 212 at bats and showed that he could handle all three outfield slots and an additional first base assignment.  This is a valuable player to have on a ball club, and added to that his salary comes in at the major league minimum.  Scott will be 28 years old this season, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him really emerge this season.  I hate to see him go, as he could be the one guy that someone could really steal from the Dodgers this off-season.  

Sabermetrically speaking, Van Slyke is the type of player that guys like Friedman and Zaidi like to acquire.  There's simply no room for him, unless the Dodgers magically are able to rid themselves of both Ethier and Crawford.  That Looks unlikely, but perhaps the new front office, affectionately monikered the "geek squad," has something up their sleeves.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Everything He Told Us Was Misleading...But That's OK

We just experienced the nuttiest 14 hours in Dodger history and it's not over yet.  Everything I wrote about Zaidi and Friedman in the previous post is completely to the window.  One thing we now know, if Farhan moves his lips, he's probably lying.

Less than 24 hours after dispelling rumors of a Dee Gordon trade by saying that he is their "cost controlled" second baseman, he was traded.

Less than five days after telling the world that right handed power bats are hard to come by and that Matt Kemp was the best hitter in the league in the second half of the season, he was traded.
Matt Kemp and Dee Gordon were both traded within 12 hours of each other.

The M.O. of the Dodger administration has emerged.  It's peddle off a player when his perception in the league is high.  Gordon, coming off an All Star season and Kemp, after recovering from injuries in the second half.  It's probably a wise way to run a club.  Fans with strong emotional ties to the players won't be happy, but it's important to remember that the Kemp contract was inherited, and that isn't Zaidi and Freidman's fault.

There are so many names that were involved in trades, I hope I have them right.

The Dodgers traded Dee Gordon, Dan Haren, and Mel Rojas, (additionally agreeing to pay their 2015 salaries, $13 million) to the Miami Marlins for LHP starter Andrew Heaney, Right handed deliver Chris Hatcher, infielder Enrique Hernandez and C/IF Austin Barnes.

Then they traded Heaney, a highly touted starter who was the number 9 overall pick in the 2012 draft to the Angels for their all star second baseman, Howie Kendrick.

Earlier in the day it was reported that the Dodgers had acquired Jimmy Rollins from the Phillies for two pitchers, who are yet to be un-named.  The Phillies are reported to have included cash in the deal.  Quantity unknown at this time.  

Lastly, Dodger fans woke this morning to the news that Matt Kemp, Tim Federowicz and $31 million have been traded to the Padres for Catcher Yasmani Grandal, and pitchers Joe Weiland and Zach Elfin.

Is that it?  Apparently not.

Reports this morning are that the Dodgers are close to a 4-year /$48 million deal with RHP Brandon McCarthy.
Brandon McCarthy finished 2014 as a Yankee. (photo by Bill Streicher/USA Today)

With the 40 man roster now sitting at over 43 players, (I've lost count) it is assumed that another trade is in the works.  Now with prospects stocked in the organization and money freed up, speculation is that the Dodgers can pull the trigger on a Cole Hamels deal.

It has been a stunning day and the Dodgers are being completely revamped.  Stay tuned, but be sure to fasten your seat belt.  Craziest day ever.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Ignore the MLB Network. Zaidi Already Told Us What Direction the Club is Headed

A few years back when the MLB network debuted, I was giddy with excitement.  What can be better than baseball 24/7/365?  

Now three years into the channel I am beginning to feel otherwise.  With Plesac, Reynolds, MaGrane, DeRosa, Byrnes and others constantly feeding us information, it's enough to make your head explode.  A good portion of those mentioned have said Matt Kemp is on his way to one of these destinations: Texas, Seattle, Baltimore, Boston, and San Diego.  It's enough to drive you mad.  Those guys are simply speculating and spreading rumors coming usually from no-where.

For those concerned about many Dodger rumors, especially that Matt Kemp is about to head to another location, it is highly suggested that these quotes from Dodger G.M. Farhan Zaidi made on air at AM 570 from last Friday be read and reread.  

(photo by Jon Soo-Hoo, L.A. Dodgers)
Zaidi could be an excellent poker player, and maybe he's playing us all, but his level headed comments seemed convincing.  The Dodgers are being run by a competent group that isn't going to gut the franchise into a non-contender.  In a previous piece I said that I thought they might be in payroll reduction mode, but after listening to Zaidi, I'm starting to believe that the front office is simply smarter than ever before and will do all they can to put a winner on the field now.  Zaidi's quotes follow.  

On Andre Ether and his trade wishes:

"We have a surplus of outfielders and there's some demand out there from other teams.  Offense is pretty scarce in Major League baseball, certainly in the last couple of years.  So a guy like Andre (Ether) could be a fit for a number of teams.  including our own.  So we're just continuing to look at those opportunities as they come across the table for us.  If there's something that makes sense for the Dodgers, we'll pursue it."

On Matt Kemp and the endless rumors of him being traded:

"Matt Kemp was the best player in the National League in the second half.  If anyone wants to challenge me on that, I have all of the numbers to back it up.  It's the hot stove.  People need something to write about everyday.  We're aware that there's a desperate desire for content out there, and frankly it's not just the desire for content, but some of the stuff you read about free agents, I'm telling you, going from Oakland to L.A., I've never been more popular with agents in my life..."

Read between the lines here.  It seems that Kemp isn't going anywhere, unless the Dodgers are overwhelmed with an amazing offer:

"Matt (Kemp) is a terrific player.  We are well aware of how important he is to the team, but we were brought in with some specific goals in mind and with very high expectations.  And part of our responsibility is to just look at everything..."

Zaidi explains that the G.M. position with a large market team with resources is much more difficult than being with a club without resources, here's why:

"We have financial resources at our disposal.  I was asked earlier, 'who are you going to pursue?' and my answer was 'everybody.'  To me that's part of the difference between being in Oakland and being in L.A.  I could sleep well at night in Oakland knowing that I wouldn't have to wonder if a certain player was worth $100-150 million dollars.  Now there's some sleepless nights because those are all decisions that we have to look at.  It's kind of like the answer that I gave when I was asked about Matt (Kemp).  It's that you have to look at everything, and particularly when you are looking at a guy that is at an elite level, that every team could use. " 

About the starting rotation:

"We have a little problem with our starting pitching depth and we've started to adjust with some smaller moves.  It's always a good idea if you're a baseball team to add pitchers at the front of your rotation than at the back..."

More on the differences between running a small market club vs. one with resources:

"At Oakland...there was just a whole group of players you didn't have to think about.  The more resources you have at your disposal, the more complicated the cost benefits analysis gets on every move.  We're in a position where we have to think about the luxury tax in baseball, the competitive balance tax implications that that has for us.  So I actually think it's more complicated.  The more money you have at your disposal, the bigger chance mistakes will be made.  We understand the challenge ahead and we are in a position where the expectations are great, the challenges are great and we hope that the reward is also great.  So that's our perspective."

On the topic of shortstop, (it's best to get used to Arruebarrena at short until Seager is ready): 

"Right handed power is a scarcity at this time, and that's what Hanley brought to this team last year.  That's what Matt Kemp continues to bring to this team, and that's probably the most difficult thing to replace.  I do think that as we look to fill the shortstop position, we're maybe able to reorient that position to being a more defensive position.  Looking to some guys that really contribute defensively at short...  This gives us a chance to get a really plus defender at short, that will really help our pitching staff.  We're viewing it as an opportunity to upgrade defensively and we believe that will compensate for the loss of offense."

                              ---------------end of Zaidi quotes-------------------

We all know it's difficult to slow down and gawk at the car accident ahead of you as you drive by, but that is what the MLB network is at the moment, (and twitter rumors as well).  Look if you must, but you probably won't like what you see.  Zaidi has spelled out the Dodger front offices direction in a short 15 minute segment.  It's best to listen to his words, because the wonks at MLB network are running with stories that often don't have any legs.

Friday, November 28, 2014

From Beast to Payroll Reduction Mode...

Matt Kemp trade rumors are swirling and that is perfectly understandable with his torrid second half of baseball this year.  Kemp rose from the ashes back to being relevant, and that's good when you consider that we all had pretty much written him off after last season.  His salary was considered a true albatross and addition to the Dodgers woes.  Now, that $106 million he is owed for the next five seasons doesn't seem too overwhelming.

Shoulder surgery recoveries take time, and for Kemp, it took two surgeries and two years for him t regain his strength.  Adrian Gonzalez warned him of that, as he had the same surgery back in Boston, and his power was sapped for a spell.  Now that Kemp's strength has returned, it really wouldn't be surprising if he hit between 35 and 40 homers next season.  Whether it'll be in a Dodger uniform is the real question now.

Though many have written that Andrew Friedman has moved on to a team that is capable of buying the World Series, what they aren't realizing was that the Colette regime had pretty much maxed out on spending by the time he got here.  The Dodgers are a team loaded with over paid contracts for underperforming players.  It's safe to say that Crawford, Ether, League, Wilson, Uribe, and even Kemp and Gonzalez are actually overpaid.  It frankly wouldn't surprise me to see Friedman peddle off some of those expensive players, like Kemp (their most attractive chess piece), in order to lower payroll and make the team younger.  If Crawford or Ether leave via trade, you can count on the Dodgers eating a good portion of those contracts.

That's not what a lot of fans want to hear, but all signs point to it so far this off season.  The Dodgers are lowering payroll.  I could be wrong, but I don't think so.  

Patience Dodger fans...patience will be the word with this administration.  Building a young nucleus with this team won't happen overnight.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Random Dodger Stuff

I have a hard time accepting that the MLB team in Japan is an "All Star" team if Drew Butera is on it.
The Farhan Zaidi hiring is a good one.  The Dodgers are definitely going in a far different direction now with Freidman, Kaplar, Byrnes, Zaidi and Gasparino in the fold.  The way we looked at Dodger baseball from the past is gone.  Watch the innovative moves that will be coming our way.  If we see Mattingly platooning a lot next year, we'll know for sure who is calling the shots in the Dodger organization.

Having read Kapler's articles over the past few years, I'm convinced that he is in the right place working in the farm system.  He's a strong proponent of teaching fundamentals, and drilling them in at the lower levels.  It might take a few years, but watch for improvements in this area.  Maybe we won't have to hear Vin Scully repeatedly say that run down plays are continually botched by seasoned veterans.
Arizona Fall League performance of Scott Schebler is showing that the Dodgers have another fine outfield prospect in their system.  Over 69 ABs in, Scott is hitting .297 with three homers.  Not bad for the kid that broke out in pitcher friendly Chattanooga with 28 dingers last season.  Watch for this kid in Spring Training and at Oklahoma City next year.
The collaborative team of young Dodger executives in place is a very interesting development.  It'll be interesting to see how decision making takes place and the hierarchy of power that will be in play. It's quite a change from the days of Buzzie Bavasi and later Al Campanis, (and even Fred Claire).  Player personnel administration is truly a team effort.  Hopefully they are able to get Mattingly to manage according the the players strengths where he'll take advantage of the chess pieces the brain trust gives him.

The entire coaching staff returns, meaning that they will be given one last opportunity under the new regime.  I suppose that's fair, but I almost wish they had blown the whole thing up and started over.  Truth is, I'm thinking that Friedman has certain individuals that he has in mind for field managerial and coaching decisions.  The Dodgers went down this road with DePodesta back in '04-'05.  Jim Tracy was forced on him and he never managed according to the "moneyball" playbook and the roster that DePodesta had assembled, hampering DePo from the get go.  We'll see how it happens this go-around.
It looks like Hanley Ramirez will seek out greener pastures.  And by green I'm referring to money.  No surprise there.  As much as Hanley was a china doll out there, I loved his bat and the threat it posed.  I think he'll be missed.  I still think that if Corey Seager does well in Spring training that the Dodgers should start him at shortstop.  I know he could use more seasoning in the minors, but this kid is special.  I think he has the maturity to survive the inevitable difficulties he'll have in the bigs.  Dodger fans are gonna love this kid.  And he is a SHORTSTOP, not a third baseman.  Seager is not too tall to handle the position.  Ask Cal Ripken.

Corey Seager

Troy Tulowitski has expressed interest in possibly being traded to the Yankees or Dodgers.  New York is probably a better fit, but he'd be an amazing acquisition if the Dodgers got him.  How that could happen, I haven't a clue.  Considering my earlier thoughts on Corey Seager not being too far away from the majors, I don't see room for him unless he agrees to move to third.  The "he" I refer to here is Tulo going to 3B, and not Seager.  Seager is not a third baseman, nor has he been playing there at all.  It would be unfair to try to transition him over to 3B at the major league level.
Is this not the slowest paced off season we've ever experienced?  I know the days are dragging for me.  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Kershaw or Bumgarner

I might hurt a few feelings with this short piece, but that never got in the way of me saying what I perceive to be the truth.  Some friends have posted on a Dodger related bulletin board that they would hands down take Clayton Kershaw over Madison Bumgarner based on statistical comparisons.

I understand their loyalty to Clayton, who will be the Cy Young Award winner again and most likely National League MVP as well when 2014 MLB awards are handed later this month, but they are failing to look at the big picture.  Compare the two left-handers stats and over the 162 game season, and the number shows that Kershaw is better.  That is if you don't factor into that post-season play.  So sure, ignore the greatest post season pitching performances since Christy Mathewson.  That's fair, right?

That's like saying we love how our favorite Nascar driver and his car have performed in the Daytona 500's first 199 laps while it's in first place, but then ignoring that it broke down and was passed in the final lap.  What it comes down to is that the job has to be finished, and that includes the additional 11 victories that a team must attain in post-season play to win the whole thing.  You throw out those games from the statistical mix and the comparison is incomplete of it's most important comparable component.

This game is all about championships and Bumgarner has three of those and significant contributions in all of them.  Clayton has failed in his postseason performances, and more than once.  

So it come down to a simple question: what would you rather have?  A player with an MVP and a couple of Cy Young awards OR a team with three World Series Championship trophies over five seasons?

Yeah, I thought so.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Failure to Acquire Middle Relief Was Ironically the Cause of Colletti's Dismissal

It's not fun watching a World Series when you know your team should be there.  It's worse when the team representing the National League is the Giants.  I can't remember feeling so much bitterness watching the fall classic.  This was the year, it really was.  I can honestly say that I believed the Dodgers were the best in the National League, even with their deficiencies in middle relief, I still believed they had enough to get the ball to Howell and later Jansen in the 8th and 9th innings.

2013 photo, three key members of the Dodger bullpen in happier times.
I mean seriously, the areas of deficiency was "middle relief?"  Who needs middle relief?  Its not like the trade deadline looms and we're all clamoring for our GM to go acquire a guy that can pitch the 6th inning.  You can usually weather through the 6th and 7th innings with the likes of up and coming minor leaguers, and the Dodgers had plenty of those guys like Baez and Frias.  Last year Chris Withrow and Paco Rodriguez filled that role rather nicely.

Now as we watch the Royals and their excellent bullpen, and the vital role it has played in their 10-1 post season performance (thus far), the reality of having quality relief pitchers has really hit home.  These are relief pitchers from top to bottom.  All quality and handling their role with precision.

We are looking at two second place teams that practically ran the table into the fall classic due in a large part to steady defense and quality bullpens.  Two areas of play where the Dodgers lacked strength.  Middle relief isn't that sexy.  In fact, we used to joke at Colletti's efforts to acquire veteran relievers and sign them long term.  Players like Brandon League, Octavio Dotel, Jamey Wright, Brian Wilson, Matt Guerrier, Peter Moylan, Ronald Belisario, Todd Coffey, Chris Perez, Randy Choate, Blake Hawksworth, and others.

So as much as we criticize Colletii and his failure to land quality relief pitchers at this 2014 trade deadline, I honestly ask, "was that criticism fair?"  We'd seen Colletii deal off prospects for relievers in the past and we screamed about how incompetent he was.  Remember the Lambo/McDonald for Dotel trade? That one left me seething in anger.  When August 1st rolled around and he had failed to trade Pederson, Seager or Urias for a veteran relief pitcher, many of us were relieved of that fact.

Funny thing is though, his failure to acquire a middle reliever probably served as his undoing.  I'm pleased that Colletti is gone, because his tenure had it's share of foibles, especially with expensive free agency signings, but I would have never guessed that he would be removed because he failed to sign a middle reliever or two when in previous years, he would stock up on them to the point of silliness.

Here we are though, watching two teams that we never imagined would make it to the World Series.  And it's because the Dodgers couldn't trust their bullpen and they coughed up three games in the NLDS as a result.  It'll be interesting what the new regime does in this area as 2015 nears.  Honestly though, isn't it a bit hypocritical to rip Colletti over his failure to stockpile middle relievers when that was his M.O. for several years?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

That Unpopular Word Rears it's Ugly Head Again : PATIENCE

Andrew Friedman meets the media for the first time at Dodger Stadium on Friday, October 17, 2014.  (photo by Jon SooHoo, L.a. Dodgers, found at:  http://dodgersphotog.mlblogs.com)

Most of us got what we wanted when the Dodgers announced that Andrew Friedman had joined the fold.  Actually it is quite the coup to nab the 37 year old executive from Tampa Bay, but now comes the hard part: PATIENCE.

Do we have it?  Are we prepared to part ways with some Dodger players that are both popular and productive, but maybe a little long in the tooth in order to make the organization younger?  The Dodgers now have to make some moves to secure this organization as a contender year after year.  They're getting old and the door has just about closed for some to nab that championship.

That's what we are going to be facing Dodger fans.  That World Series Championship might be a few more years away.  Considering we've been waiting 26 years, it'll really be a test of patience to wait a few more before Friedman has assembled the core of players that will put them in the World Series year after year.  I honestly don't know if the fan base will be willing to wait a few more years, especially with the Giants amazing five year run.

Matt Kemp is back. That fact is recognized amongst all circles in MLB.  Maybe it's time to unload him to restock the farm system with some top notch prospects.  With Kemp's second half performance, suddenly that expensive contract doesn't seem so exorbitant.  Aside from Puig, the Dodgers will get the most from Kemp amongst their gluttony of outfielders.

At this time each year, we seem to always be looking at the available free agents where we put our eye on a few.  Based on Friedman's track record and his cautious and guarded comments from the press conference, I'm thinking he's looking to steer clear of the free agent market and seek to grow from within and through some wise trading for obscure and talented major leaguers that may slip under the radar of most people.  
Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay's sleek fielding ultility-man, is the type of player that Friedman likes.  Quick feet, good glove, good eye that works the count, power, intelligent.  A two time All-Star that Friedman acquired from Houston when he was an unknown lower level prospect.  (photo by Nick Laham, Getty Images)

Watch for him to acquire speedy players.  The Rays loved guys that could run.  Bartlett, Upton, Crawford,  Zobrist, Jennings, Joyce, and even Longoria were all guys that had multiple seasons of double digit stolen bases.   He likes guys that can catch the ball and provide reliable defense.  Friedman seems to emphasize teams that use their good gloves that save runs as much as the bats that produce them. In the past seven years, the Rays committed the fewest errors in the A.L. once, and ranked between second and fourth another three times.

Making these changes might be a long process.  It usually takes two or three years for a new regime to put their stamp on a team.  In Friedman and the Dodgers case, it may be even longer because there are so many lengthy and expensive contracts amongst the 40 man roster already.  For a guy looking for a real challenge, Friedman has found it.  The press corps that continually say he's suddenly inherited a lot of money are dead wrong.  The Dodgers have overspent, and Friedman is in place to fix that.  

What I'm trying to say is that we shouldn't expect him to go out and spend tens of millions of dollars on players like Russell Martin, James Shields or Jon Lester because Los Angeles has the deepest pockets in baseball.  The time for outlandish spending is probably over for a while.  There may be an exception here and there, but for the most part this guy is coming in to reign in the spending and make the organization stronger at all levels organizationally.  That my friends will require some changes.  Probably a few unpopular roster moves and overall, a lot of patience.  Do we have it?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Requiem for the 2014 Season

(AP photo by Charles Rex Arbogast)

I gave it a few days, knowing full well that it's best not to write with the mind skewed by a ton of emotion.  It could come off as too raw, irrational maybe, or overly magnifying the negative.  "Give it a few days," I thought.  "I can then cool down and give an introspective assessment of the 2014 season."

I have done that now.  More than five days have passed and I've accepted the Dodger's plight.  It's not as if there is any other option.  A couple of ribbing emails from Giant fans have come and gone.  The condolences from co- workers also.  The 2014 season is done for us and I must say, I have not calmed down.

In the last 100+ hours I have seriously considered dropping my baseball fandom altogether.  I know it can be done.  I did it before with another sport, distancing myself from football with the Rams departure.  Why not again?  I spend an inordinate amount of time following the Dodgers and for what?  Twenty-six years of ineptitude?  Heartbreak after heartbreak?  From Aase to Zachary.  These guys break my heart every year.  The fact that I can think of players from A to Z without having to look them up is proof positive of that.

So without further ado, here are some critical off-season moves that I believe should be made.  Some radical, others not so much, but each having received a lot of thought over the past few days.

Let me start off by saying that I strongly believe that the Dodgers need to seriously consider getting younger.  Otherwise in a year or two, they are looking like the current Philadelphia Phillies.  Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, A.J. Ellis, Hanley Ramirez, Juan Uribe, Andre Ethier, Josh Beckett, Jamie Wright, Brian Wilson and even Matt Kemp are on the wrong side of age thirty.  The Dodgers are hamstrung by some of their contracts, forcing them to hold on to a few for a few more years.  With guys like Pederson, Urias and Seager, they need to be in future plans and not future trade plans.  Seager is a shortstop and a good one at that.  Moving him to 3B doesn't make sense to me.  I see him in the mold of Cal Ripken Jr., and with Arruebarrena, Rojas and Alex Guerrero able to play the position, as a stop-gap.  One of them can step aside when Seager arrives in the bigs, probably in 2016.

Ned Colletti
GONE.  It's time.  He's had 9 years and about a billion dollars in payroll to spend.  Add up the contracts, there was about a billion doled out, with half of it being wasted money on guys like Schmidt, Manny Ramirez, Ted Lilly, Andruw Jones, Billingsley and Ethier.   Don't be fooled by the 5 playoff appearances.  Truth is he hasn't produced, and considering the gobs of money he has had to spend, I seriously can't see how he can defend himself. Look at the names: Jason Schmidt, Andruw Jones, Manny Ramirez, Juan Pierre, Andre Ethier, Luis Gonzalez, Bill Mueller, Brett Tomko, Nomar Garciaparra, Shea Hillenbrand, Mike Lieberthal, Mark Sweeney, Eseban Loaiza, Vicente Padilla, David Wells, Angel Berroa, Casey Blake, Octavio Dotel, Orlando Hudson, Mark Loretta, Ronnie Belliard, Jim Thome, Eric Milton, Jon Garland, George Sherrill, Ryan Theriot, Garrett Anderson, Scott Podsednik, Ted Lilly, Jack Taschner, Reed Johnson, Skip Schumacher, Juan Rivera, Nick Punto, Eugenio Velez, Tony Gwynn Jr., Dana Eveland, Luis Cruz, Blake Hawksworth, Adam Kennedy, Jerry Hairston, Bobby Abreu, Shane Victorino, Edinson Volquez, Todd Coffey, Carlso Marmol.  That is scrap heap heaven, and the money spent on those names could have paid for the franchise and maybe a second one about 5 or 6 years ago.


Then factor in some of the prospects that Colletti gave away to get some of those players, (Carlos Santana, Ethan Martin, Jesmuel Valentin, Rubby DeLaRosa, Andrew Lambo, Andy LaRoche, Justin Ruggiano, Allen Webster, James McDonald, Nathan Eovoldi all off the top of my head).  Granted a lot of them aren't household names, but at the time they were dealt they had value.  The track record isn't good.  Colletti botched so many deals that it boggles the mind he still has a job.  If he does keep his job, I seriously question whether Guggenheim ownership is serious about winning.  Ned has overstayed by about 4 years now and deep inside we all know that once he leaves he'll return to his true loyalty - the San Francisco Giants.

Don Mattingly
GONE.  Nice man, terrible strategical manager.  Bunting to set up intentional walks to his best pinch hitter so that the opposition can pitch to Drew Butera?  Yes, it happened twice this year and both games were losses.  I won't tear him apart for the NLDS because he was hamstrung by the weak bullpen he was given, but he didn't have the guts to try something unconventional to resolve that problem.  Like say, insert Kenley Jansen in the 7th inning when a threat emerged or use Dan Haren to relieve Kershaw.  Sorry, teaching Puig a lesson in game four of the NLDS was a bit late.  It doesn't matter how much he had struggled.  He was still an offensive threat and a quality defensive piece.

Don Mattingly has been given his chance.  His talented roster got him to the post season twice.  I'll argue that the Dodger have won overcoming his mistakes.  He isn't a man that is able to take them to the next level.  If his roster was head over heels better than the rest of the league, he could probably do that, (as Torre did with the Yankees in the late 90s), but the L.A. roster isn't that good.  Don's a good man and he works hard, but he's a stubborn manager who ignores his past mistakes...committing them over and over.  He probably should be a hitting coach and that's it.

Mattingly's coaching staff will have to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.  Too many mistakes by Bundy did him in.  Crim might be the fall guy by the lackluster bullpen.  Wallach failed to talk Mattingly out of a number of boneheaded moves involving double switches, bunting, and lifting pitchers.  I loved Wallach as a possible managerial candidate before, but now, who knows?  McGwire has his positive contributions, but the bats struggled a good portion of the year too.

Hanley Ramirez
It could go either way.  I'm indifferent.  When he was on the field and giving a full effort, he performed, but he could hardly be counted on for anything.  Giving this China doll a $15.3 million qualifying offer is only a good idea if the Dodgers are certain that he'll leave and they'll get a draft pick as compensation.  Otherwise, it might be $15,000,000 thrown away because Hanley cannot stay healthy for a month, let alone an entire season.  Defensively he is a complete liability.

A.J. Ellis
GONE (unless he agrees to a backup role).  However, if the Dodgers will consider a player/coach position, I say they do it.  That could be a difficult proposition, but truth is I see Ellis as a potential future manager in the organization.  If Ellis agrees to a back-up catcher/bench coach job, I think it could be a good fit.  He does his homework and he's about as cerebral a player that the Dodgers have.  Physically though, Ellis wasn't getting it done.  Poor pitch framing, too many lazy passed balls, (possibly caused by his knee problems), a poor throw out of stealers ratio and a .191 batting average.  He raked in the 4 playoff games, but it was too little too late.  The season was a disaster for him, both offensively and defensively.

A possible player/manager?  (Getty Images)

Let me throw this out there.  Player/manager A.J. Ellis?  Radical thought but maybe he is ideal for it.  Nobody studies the game harder.  Let Zack Greinke take on pitching coach chores as well.  We may not win, but it would certainly be interesting.  Ellis is managerial material and it may not be wise to toss him out there without any minor league managerial experience, but Ellis might be in the Ausmus mold and not be the type of person that needs to grind things out in the minors.

Drew Butera
GONE.  Please, do we even need to discuss this guy?  He's terrible.  Was Tim Fedeowicz thought of so negatively that Butera surpassed him on the depth chart?  Since that's the case, Fedex needs to go too.

Roberto Hernandez, Kevin Correia, Paul Maholm
GONE. Old, unrelieable.  Each given a chance to prove themselves and they all failed.

Chad Billingsley
GONE.  Buy out the contract and give him his $3 million to walk.  Billingsley might recover, but he's not worth another contract.  Too bad because he could have been a great one.  Truth is though, he's on the wrong side of 30 and there's too many question marks here.  If he agrees to come back at an incentive laden contract, well then that would be okay, but you know a team like Cincinnati near his Defiance, Ohio home will get a preferential nod from him.

Jamie Wright
GONE.  Forty year old unreliable relievers have no business on a team that needs to get younger.

Dan Haren
GONE if he decides to not take the guaranteed $10 million.  If he doesn't take that, he's nuts.  Haren came back and was solid in the last month, but he's going to be 34 years old next year and his fastball rarely reaches 90 MPH now.  As a number 5 pitcher, he's serviceable, but again, this team needs to get younger.  Why not let Zach Lee or Chris Reed try out being the number 5 guy?  You only have to pay him the major league minimum.

I think Haren comes to his senses and realizes that the Dodger deal is the best one he'll find out there.  I'm sure his agent is looking into what the market will fetch for him.  Perhaps a team in need of pitching will offer him over $10 million, but I highly doubt it.


The catching position without a doubt.  There's nothing in the high minors.  There are doubts with the personnel in the low minors.  AJ was awful this year and Butera and Fedex followed suit.  The rumors of reacquiring Russell Martin are intriguing but there are problems there.  First, Martin left on bad terms and we all know what a bad Russell Martin can be as catcher.  Additionally, Martin is going to be 32 years old next year.  That's old for a catcher, and locking him up to a multi-year deal gets the Dodgers much older.  Unfortunately Martin is about the only catching option out there on the free agent market.

Middle Relief:  The long man is non-existent.  This team was hurt greatly by the injuries to Chris Withrow and Jose Dominguez.  Brian Wilson and Brandon League couldn't be trusted.  J.P. Howell had an awful final month.  This team will need to depend on the kids: Paco Rodriguez, Pedro Baez, Carlos Frias, Yimi Garcia, Daniel Coloumbe.  I'm not sure if Scott Elbert survives and is back.  That's a lot of youth to depend on but how else are they going to learn except on the big league level.  The club may have to ride with these guys and then attempt to acquire solid middle relief via trade mid-season.

Starting pitching:  After Greinke and Kershaw there are concerns.  Ryu was shut down twice with injuries and required a cortisone shot and three weeks rest to pitch game three of the NLDS.  That is a concern.  This may be thte beginning of the end for Hyung-Jin Ryu.  I hope I'm wrong.   Haren would be a fool not to return, but he's a number five guy.  In the minors, nobody is really emerging to be thrust in the starting pitcher role.  Whoever is sitting in the GM chair will have to deal with this problem.  Jon Lester would be ideal, but are they cutting payroll?  If so, he won't be an option.  If he is available.  They should break the bank and have the top three starters in the game on their staff.

Proposed changes:
Andrew Friedman, Tampa Bay's 37 year old General Manager

Management: There is talk of Tampa Bay's Andrew Friedman.  He'd be a sabermetrician's dream.  And if Joe Maddon accompanied him to L.A., it would be a perfect fit.  I know that's a pipe dream, but what a change that would be.  So significant that I'm fairly sure they could lead the ball club into dynasty status for years to come.  Friedman has a long-term vision that will keep the team competitive for years to come.  Maddon is a great strategical manner and he lives in Southern California.  They are too perfect of a fit.

Kim Ng is a name that is surfacing.  The Dodgers are pioneers in so many areas of the game.  I wouldn't put it past them to hire the first female G.M. in the game and she'd be an excellent choice.   From within there's Logan White, and he is certainly worthy of the General Manager reigns, but there would be a learning curve with him as he has always been leading scouting.  He certainly knows the game and I think we'd all be ecstatic with him at the helm.  The loss of DeJon Watson is making the scouting department in need of an urgent hire now.  Bob Engle is already in house.  Maybe he's the replacement there.

So What do we do now?
That's a tough one.  Trying to stomach the NLCS is about as hard as it gets.  The thought of a third Giants championship in five years is enough to make me gag, and it's real probable because Kansas City or Baltimore in the series will be just happy to get there, whereas the Gnats fully understand the process and won't stop until the World Series is through.

It's a long off-season and this one might be the longest of all.  If there ever was a real chance for the Dodgers to win the whole thing, this was the opportunity and it was full out blown.  We've been around long enough to know that these opportunities don't come very often.  And now Kershaw will have to hear over and over again that he's not a big game pitcher and that he fails under the big spotlight.  You'd think that last year's failure would have been enough motivation to get him past that, but it didn't happen.  

The next few weeks are crucial to the Dodgers future.  If changes are put in place in the top managerial levels, I say they're on the right track.  If not, we'll probably see more of the same and a team that simply gets older that will fall out of contention in the coming years.  It's a critical juncture in the future of the franchise.  Hopefully the Guggenheim group sees the light and makes the correct moves to get this ball club to the next level.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Matt Carpenter...the Latest Thorn in the Dodger's Side

In another game not made for cardiac patients, the Dodgers came up on top this time.  It was a  3-2 win over the pesky Cardinals on Saturday night, and their leadoff man has emerged as the latest heartbreaking Dodger nemesis.  His name is Matt Carpenter.

(Photo by Mark J. Terrill/AP)

Carpenter alone may be responsible for the ousting of Dodger manager Don Mattingly before this post season play is over.  Mattingly is pushing all the wrong buttons when dealing with the Cardinal lead off hitter and third baseman.  Concerns of power bats like Holliday and Adams are being overshadowed by Carpenter, who is teeing off against left-handed hurlers, and pretty good ones at that.

It is getting to the point that the Dodgers are going to have to reassess their strategy against Carpenter.  The man is about as automatic as Matt Stairs was whenever he faced Broxton in '08 and '09.  When you are counting the hitters to determine when Carpenter steps up to the plate again, well that is considered "ownage."  And Carpenter currently owns the Dodger pitching staff.  

Where did this guy come from?
Pretty much out of nowhere is not the answer.  Carpenter's father, Rick, was James Loney's High School coach at Elkins High in the Houston, Texas area.  Fact is, both Carpenter and Loney won a Texas state championship as teammates in 2002.  Matt continued his high school career for another two years while the elder Loney took off to Vero Beach to play pro ball with the Dodgers after graduating.

Elkins was a high school that has produced several major leaguers and currently four that play in the bigs right now, (Loney, Carpenter, Kip Wells and Chad Huffman).  Unlike Loney, Carpenter didn't enter into professional baseball right out of high school.  He went off to Texas Christian University and excelled there before being drafted in the 13th round draft pick by St. Louis in 2009.

Carpenter would have gone higher in the draft, but an injury shut him down during his senior year.  The Cards took a flier on him and here he is, five years later with a Silver slugger and two all star game appearances in his back pocket.  Add to that the numerous clutch post-season extra-base hits to his credit and Carpenter already will long be remembered in Dodger playoff lore as a true "Dodger-killer."

"That guy's as tough an out as there is in the National League.  Especially when the stakes are raised," said Dodger catcher A.J. Ellis on Carpenter after yesterday's action.  He is recognized now by the Dodgers as a serious threat, and one that the Dodgers will have to solve if they plan on winning this series.  This is a guy that is able to focus and visualize his success before doing it, telling Fox Sports' Erin Andrews following the Friday night victory: "I'm not gonna lie, I was thinking about the hits off him (Kershaw) from last year (2013 NLCS Game 6)."

As the Dodgers attempt to survive St. Louis, Matt Carpenter has to be primarily on their minds.  If they don't solve the Carpenter dilemma, the 2014 post season could be cut short way ahead of their goals. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Ultimate Heartbreaker

It was the kind of game that makes you turn away from it for good.  A punch to the gut loss that simply makes you say "this isn't worth it."  It was one of those games that you'll always remember as the one that broke your heart and spirit all in one.
(photo by Jayne Kamin Oncea - USA Today Sports)

You can second guess Mattingly and curse up a streak but truth is, what are you supposed to do when you have the best pitcher on the planet pitching with a 6-1 lead in the sixth inning?  The weak middle relief corps did the Dodgers in because Mattingly didn't trust it enough to insert it into the game in the 7th inning.  Though Kershaw was getting tagged batter after batter, he was left out there to die.

That was a once in a lifetime loss, but the Dodgers have had quite a few of them over the years and I hate to say it, but they're probably done this post season.  I mean, how do you recover from that?   It'll be the game that Giant fans gloat about, even though they had nothing to do with it.  Cardinal fans will remind us of it for years to come (and they had everything to do with it).  

It makes you wonder if we're being punished for some unknown reason.  Did any of us really believe that the late inning comeback was anything more than a tease?  Just a little more salt to pour on the open wound that opened up in the top of the 7th inning.  That tying run standing 90 feet away from home was simply there to raise false hopes.

So we go into game two in a "must win" situation.  Zack Greinke takes the ball and we hope the tide turns.  There's no such thing as a safe lead against this St. Louis club.  A ball club that we frankly thought didn't have that type of offensive prowess in them.  You've got to hand it to them, they came back from the dead and stole this one.

Man, it hurts bad.  This loss is about the lowest of lows I've ever felt watching this club.  If the Dodgers are able to come back from this it'll be the epic-est of epic recoveries.  Baseball is certainly a cruel game.

Welcome to "Nervous Time"

I know this is what we live all season for.  It's post season play.  We're supposed to be happy with that, but I never have enjoyed this.  The playoffs are torture.  The emotions go through a myriad of scenarios that usually are excruciatingly painful.

Tommy Lasorda said it best when he stated that losses will grate you for hours on end, and the euphoria of victory only lasts a fleeting moment, and it then wears off in a few minutes.  You can't enjoy a win because you immediately start worrying about the next game.  The only time you truly savor a victory and wear it for months on end is when it's the 4th win of a World Series matchup.

A passionate Lasorda always was out there fighting for his ball club.

Now take all of that tension and nervousness and amplify if by about one hundred times and you have post-season play.

Last year I wrote about the disease of "Dodgermania" over at www.ThinkBlueLA.com (LINKED HERE), and things haven't changed.  The symptoms get worse as another season goes by without a World Championship trophy not being added to the mantle.  I'm sick of the torture.  I'm pretty sure I don't deserve it and neither do the millions of us that follow this ball club 24/7/365.

Dodger fans are owed a World Championship.  We've put up with the Fox group and the McCourts.  We've endured torturous managerial decisions by the likes of Liddle, Tracy, Davey Johnson, Torre and the ever present Mattingly.  We watched the Bonds pirouettes and Caminiti steroid enhanced heroics. We dealt with asinine front office decisions that robbed us of Piazza and Konerko, and brought us players like Jayson Phillips and Brian Jordan, all the while ignoring the likes of available stars like the prime years of Randy Johnson and Vlad Guerrero.

We've watched the hated one win two championships.  We've seen other division foes go to the Fall Classic while we watch it all.  The Gnats (four times), Padres (twice), D-Backs and Rockies (once each).  Three World Championships by those division opponents and we never even scratched the surface of a fall classic.

The 1981 World Series Championship was 33 years ago.

We see our ball club bullied out of a championship by bean balls (see Cardninals in 2013 and Phillies in 2009) while we sat back meekly and didn't even attempt to retaliate.  We watched Dodgers such as Chris Gwynn, Ramon Martinez, Corky Guerrero and Mike Maddux labor in Dodger uniforms while their more famous brothers excelled for the likes of the Padres, Expos, Red Sox and Braves.

Being a Dodger fan hasn't been easy.  We've had our share of miracles, but not World Series miracles.  Heck, if it wasn't for the Cubs, we'd be the laughing stock of the National League.

So the time is now.  Second place won't suffice.  A National League pennant isn't enough, (though it'd be a start).  Truth is, they've got to win the whole thing. Kershaw and Greinke must dominate.  Puig, AGon, Hanley and Kemp...they've got to tear the cover off the ball.  Dee...how about stealing every bag you see.  Jansen...relief corps domination is needed now.  NOW IS THE TIME FOR DODGER BASEBALL!!!  It's the playoffs.  They've got to bring it and show the world that the Dodger way must dominate again.  This patient lot of millions certainly deserves it more than any fan base watching the playoffs right now.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Night to Remember

There isn't much better for a Dodger fan than watching his team clinch a division title at home against a storied rival like the Giants.  It's one of those moments where you remember where you were and exactly what you were doing when it happened.

Never did I figure I'd be over 6,000 miles away on the other side of the planet, all giddy with excitement.  It was about 3:00 am here in Montevideo, Uruguay and when the MLB.com footage cut off after the game, I was left hanging.  It was a surreal scene.  I had nothing but my thoughts...

(photo by USATSI)

No post game show.  No view of a pool party.  No footage of players squirting champagne at fans.  No chance to watch the Giants wallow into their dugout away from the celebrations.  No bubble machines, not even more than a little taste of the Division Champions shirts being passed out.

I was alone with my thoughts in this town of sleeping soccer crazed fans.

Though the hotel here at the Sheraton has about a dozen sports channels, my scan through them showed about 8 dedicated to soccer, one to formula 1 auto racing, another to cycling, and an NBA channel showing an old game with Charles Barkely playing for the Suns in the 1990's.  That was it.

I couldn't share the moment with anyone.  All I could do was turn off the light and go to sleep.

And how was I going to sleep after that?  Kershaw won his 21st.  Puig with a clutch homer and another amazing assist.  Crawford tearing things up again.  It was too much to absorb.  Too much excitement going on, but on the other side of the world.

What a great night.

(NOTE:  I fly back to the States tonight...and being in DC, I'm hoping to be able to catch a Dodgers-Nationals NLCS game or two in the coming weeks).

There never has ever been a better chance for a "Freeway Series" to take place this year.  Maybe I'm jumping the gun, but a Dodger-Angel World Series I believe is in the cards in 2014.  We all know anything can happen in the post-season, but the stars seem aligned for it this year.  What an event that would be!


So it's time to speculate who makes the initial NLDS roster.  In a best of five series, do the Dodgers go lighter on pitching?  I say "yes" with only 11 pitchers on the roster.  I also favor having a second lefty in the bullpen (e.g. Paco) over Chris Perez, who has been steady lately.



Van Slyke



Those left out:
Chris Perez
Tim Federowicz
Roberto Hernandez
Carlos Frias
Yimi Garcia
Scott Elbert
Darwin Barney

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Best Medicine Around...

Okay, I've been sick.  About as under the weather I have felt in years.  The OKP blog has been stagnant now for 14 days as I have traversed the continent on training assignments and as I write these words, I'm sitting in a hotel room at the Holiday Inn in Cordoba, Argentina, preparing for a weeks worth of class material to be given to Argentinian Customs officers.

Cordoba, Argentina
Work has kept me from the blog, which was something I advised readers of back in April.  Things haven't changed either, as the Dodgers are gearing up for what may be their most exciting post season in years, I'm trotting the globe and preparing lesson plans as I never had before.

So I caught some type of bug in Bogota, Colombia last Thursday, the day that I departed that country.  Three consecutive nights I have tossed and turned with chills, fever, sweats, no appetite and constant other issues that I'd rather not discuss.  Such is the life for an international traveler, and I don't even finish this South American Journey until September 26th.

But you know what the best medicine is for the symptoms I described above?

How about 17-0 and 4-2?  How about a lead at 3.0?  Or a Magic number of 11.  Yeah, those are the antidotes for the worst case of Montezuma's Revenge that I've ever felt.

Yes, taking down the Giants in their home yard allowed me to forget all the misery of the last few days and for a few precious moments I could savor sweet Dodger fruits of victory a full 6,082 miles from the site due to the magic of MLB.com.

Scott Van Slyke rounds third after homering in Saturday night's action, a 17-0 win over San Francisco.

The hoots and hollers from the gringo in room 109 came from me.  As I walked through the hotel and saw others in the lobby bar gathered around a plasma with soccer on it, I came to realize that I just may be the only person in this city of a million plus that even cared about the Dodgers/Giants.  I'm sitting here at the foot of the Andes, 6,000 miles from home.  Weak from exhaustion, sick and thin as a rail with a big freaking smile on my face.

Thank you Dodgers.  Thank you for healing this ailing traveler.

Man, baseball can be so awesome!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Random Stuff to Close Out the Month of August

The Dodgers finished the month of August 16-13.  On August 1st they were 2.5 games up on San Francisco.  They close out the month in the same spot, 2.5 games up.  They went through seven starting pitchers in the month and eleven different relief pitchers.  Such newcombers as Darwin Barney, Ronerto Hernandez, Kevin Correia, Pedro Baez and Carlos Frias made significant (and insignificant) contributions.  Others such as Josh Beckett, Jose Dominguez, Chris Perez, Paul Maholm, and Stephen Fife were lost for the year.  There were scares with injuries hobbling Juan Uribe, Hanley Ramirez, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Zack Greinke.
Dodger reserve Darwin Barney (photo by Mark Zerrill/Getty Images)

But here we are, after all that, the Dodgers still remain in a relatively strong position.  There are 25 games remaining, and the Dodgers destiny is on their hands.

You want some good news?  There are no more games in San Diego, and only three more against the pesky Padres at home in mid-September.  I hate playing that team.  And speaking about rival ball clubs...

It's not as if the Dodgers are looking for help or anything, but don't you find it particularly annoying that the Milwaukee Brewer went into Los Angeles and played the Dodgers like World Series champions and swept them, only to go into San Francisco this weekend and roll over and die?

The Brewers are quickly becoming my latest team to despise.  Not only for the reasons mentioned above, but also because of that left fielder of theirs, a player that lacks character more than any other player in the league.  Mr. Ryan Braun.  (Something addressed in previous posts several times over the years).

But back to Milwaukee the team.  I honestly hope they don't make the playoffs, just because they have done everything in their power to keep the Dodgers out of post season play.  That and the gimmicky slide, stupid sausage races and for being the team of Commissioner Bud Selig.  I find it hard to believe that there is actually a statue erected to the man outside that stadium of theirs.

So in the period of six days, the Dodger lead disintegrated by more than half, from 5.5 to 2.5.  Those things happen in the course of pennant races, just as the Giants 9.5 lead disappeared quickly in May.   It should be noted that though the Giants had a great week, going 6-1, their elimination number reduced from 29 to 24, at a pace of almost one game per day as well. 

You didn't think it was going to be easy did you?  Especially after 3/5 of the Dodgers starting staff disappeared with injury and it got to be Kershaw and then count the days until Kershaw would pitch again.  The truth of the matter is that if Greinke and Ryu don't return to form, this team will be in trouble in post season play, (and getting there).  Those three are enough to carry the ball club to the World Series, but they have to stay healthy.  Signs have shown that not to be the case during most of the month of August, but after Greinke's last two starts and Ryu's return today, maybe they will hold up.
Now the Giants.  They're good.  No doubt about it.  Their pitching is solid.  Their hitting mediocre, but streaky at times.  That Giants starting five made up of Bumgarner, Hudson, Vogelsong, Petit (& no Lincecum) and Peavy is not a bad staff.  As a Dodger fan, you don't want them inching much closer to the lead because those horses can hold up down the stretch.  Those five guys will keep their team in contention most nights.

Believe it or not, these three upcoming against 1st place Washington are big, very big.  It'll be a tough chore, but champions have to win during these stretches, and this is their test.  Do the Dodgers have the heart of a champion to take the reigns of this race and hold on strong?  Guys are hobbling, some are slumping and the rotation has resorted to depending on guys like Roberto Hernandez and Dan Haren fairly often.  But this is it.  The time for the Dodgers to show that they are that club that can go all the way.

A sweep of Washington would do wonders for their confidence.  First, because these would be wins at home, (something that they inexplicably haven't done well at all this year) and second, because the Giants are playing well and making a run at them, and third, it will show the baseball world who will be the team to reckon with in post-season play.

Over the years the Dodgers have had their share of slow base runners.  James Loney comes to mind.  So does current first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.  But I think I speak for EVERYBODY when I say that A.J. Ellis has got to be the slowest position player base runner they have ever had.  And he probably wouldn't argue about it either.  I love they guy, but man! Talk about running with a piano on his back.


Matt Kemp's avoidance to the tag while scoring the Dodgers sixth run today was about as savvy a base running play I've ever seen him make.  Kemp has a history of base running blunders, especially from his earlier years, but that was simply a veteran player knowing where he was and avoiding the tag as on a true "Dodger" can as he literally lived up to the team moniker.  Great heady play!

Kemp avoids the tag just before slapping the plate.  (photo by Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers @ Dodgersphotoblog.com)


It's always nice to win on "get-away" day.  Today's win was a big one.  Had San Diego swept them, it could have really set the Dodgers off in a tail-spin.