As I sat on Tuesday and watched the Dodgers blow a 1-0 lead in the 7th by Jonathan Broxton, only to lose 3-1, I asked myself: “Could it get any worse for this team?”
Turns out, it could!
Last night, the Dodgers went into the 9th with a 1-0 lead only for, out of all people, Takashi Saito to come in and pitch what, in my opinion, was his worst outing ever as a Dodger. Sure, he only ended up only giving up one run, and he’s given up more in an inning before, but I’m talking about actual stuff. His lack of control was hitting Ishii levels, it took him about 37 pitches to get out of the inning, and he was absolutely horrific. In fact, it’s a miracle he only gave up 1 run, however, after that, it was pretty much a formality that we were going to lose, which we did after the Ho proceeded to give up the go-ahead winning run in the 10th.
So, the Dodgers get swept at Wrigley and have now lost 5 out of their last 6. What the hell is going on?
Now, sure, there are the obvious things that we mope about. While many people say that a lot of this is due to the loss of Rafael Furcal, I am inclined to agree with them, but only to a certain extent. Yes, it makes a HUGE difference when you have Rafael Furcal starting at SS over Luis Maza, but I still argue that our offensive struggles would exist, albeit maybe to a lesser degree. Our lineup is still full of holes at the moment, with the exception of Ethier, Kemp, Martin, Pierre (in the: “he’s not a complete offensive liability, right now” sense) and DeWitt, and even DeWitt is slowly falling back to earth over the past 6 games.
Jeff Kent continues on the quest to become the worst clean up hitter of all-time, while his backup, Chin-Lung Hu, has been absolute merda at the plate; for God’s sake, the man has an OPS+ of 22! I like Hu and feel he could be a solid contributor sometime in the future, but that time is not now and he would be best served back in Las Vegas to regain his stroke.
At first base, as much as I hate to say it, but, outside of his 15 game hitting streak to begin the season, James Loney has looked, well, average, at best; and that’s being slightly generous. That’s not to say that he’s been horrible or that I’m having fantasies of having Nomar coming back to man first base while hearing “Low Rider” on an endless loop while curled up in my bedroom late at night in the dark, just that Loney hasn’t been what I hoped. Sure, he’s tied for the team lead in HR’s with 5, but, through 51 games, Loney has put up a .274 BA, .329 OBP, and .432 SLG, .258 EqA, and a 95 OPS+. Not good. And even worse, the person who is backing up him and who is supposed to be our best pinch hitter; Mark Sweeney. Yes, beating a dead horse here, I know, but what else can be said? He’s 4-42 this season! How sad is it when you would be happy to see your alleged best pinch hitter raise his average to the levels of Andruw Jones?! There is no reason in God’s green earth why he should still be on this team. None. What, are his “American Idol” chemistry building contests he puts together every spring training that good? Does he have these hidden tapes of Ned serenading him with “My Funny Valentine” or something? As said earlier by my partner in crime, it is criminal that Andy LaRoche has not been called up yet. What the hell does he have to prove, still?
However, I can’t just put it all on the offense: the pitching staff deserves some blame, as well. Brad Penny has been anything but a #1 with his 4.34 ERA, 82 ERA+, and I do not like his “pitch to contact” philosophy, as I feel it’s hurt him, in particular, his K/9 rate, which has dropped to a horrible 4.77. That’s not good for any pitcher to have, especially if you have the stuff Penny has. Derek Lowe, sans last night, has been a bust, while Billingsley has been erratic, although he is starting to rebound. As mentioned in the Kuroda article, Hiroki has been the only constant this year. Having said that, I do feel that the rotation will rebound and it’s gradually starting to with the emergence of Billingsley and hopefully Kershaw.
But the offense is another story. I really wish that I could brush off this current losing streak as something early in the season or a simple aberration. However, we are almost in June and it is not getting better. Through May 28th, the Dodgers’ offense has a .269 BA, .340 OBP, .387 SLG, and 92 OPS+. Now, the first two are alright, but, again, the slugging percentage shows the lack of power. Once again, the Dodgers find themselves in the same position as last year: they don’t have any power in their lineup and if you don’t have power in your lineup, you will likely lose. Slugging percentage matters. Now, sure, you have some folks who still think it’s 1965 and say: “Well, pitching and defense is what matters, you don’t really need that power lineup, because back in my day, we had Maury Wills steal a bazillion bases. We manufactured runs, and that was good enough for us, dammit!,” but power is a must in this game. And, without that power, it will be 2007 all over again: we will have to string together 3-4 hits at a time to score a minimal amount of runs. When everyone is hitting, this works great and we’ll win games, but, when it doesn’t, we will be horribly inconsistent and we will have these stretches. The problem is, barring some big trade (which always scares the crap out of me, considering our GM), where will our power come from? The guy we are banking on is probably sitting on his ass turning into the long lost sibling of El Guapo, and even some of the people who are hitting, such as Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, have disappointed in the power department (Kemp: 3 HR’s, Ethier: 4 HR’s), It’s not going to get the job done, for, shockingly, you cannot Sally slap a team to death.
So, now it’s on to Shea for 4 games. Last night’s loss was a tough one, probably the worst one of the year, but having a good series would be a good remedy and hopefully can jumpstart them and propel them to a long winning streak!
Yeah, I always say that…