After last night’s 3-1 loss to a kid making his first ever MLB start (is anyone really surprised?), I was reaffirmed of something.
Our really offense sucks.
I was also once again reminded of another thing.
We have NO power.
In all of MLB, our offense ranks 22nd in BA, 24th in OBP, 28th in SLG%, and HR’s, and, well… we suck. Now I know all of this is obvious and, despite our need for power, the options to get it are very, very limited. At this point, Andruw Jones is a lost hope, Jeff Kent is 40, and our two leading HR hitters, Andre “I look like I starred in a horrible 1980′s porn movie” Ethier and Russell Martin at 10, are projected to finish with 18 HR’s. Now that’s nice, but not quite the thumper we need. Sure, we could also trade for a hitter, but, one, the options are limited and, two, it would likely cost Matt Kemp and other valuable pieces. And, frankly, Ned Colletti needs to be kept away from a phone. In fact, the phone should place a restraining order on Ned Colletti.
So what to do? Well, there still is one hope. Remember a long, long time ago, there was this kid once called LaRoche who was supposed to battle it out with Nomar for the third base job in Spring Training, but they both got hurt in the same game? Well, in case you haven’t noticed, Andy’s been back in L.A. for a month now, but he’s been enslaved to Torre The Hutt on the bench, much like Andruw Jones has been enslaved to Pizza The Hutt.
I suppose Andy sort of became forgotten during Blake DeWittmania, but, of course, there was no reason for him to be in L.A. with the way DeWitt was playing. I mean, talk about a surprise story. On Opening Day, all we wanted was for him not to embarrass himself and for the first couple of months, he was one of the team’s best hitters. He started out April very solidly, hitting .279/.364/.397, before going on a torrid May, hitting .322/.379/.517, while hitting 5 HR’s in that month alone. Awesome and, let’s not forget, he was also playing incredible defense to go along with it. Personally, the best defense by a Dodgers’ third baseman I’ve seen since Adrian Beltre. In short, he saved our ass for that period.
Alas, since late May, he has gone from torrid to horrid and has become a black hole in the lineup. He had a terrible June, hitting .182/.238/.234, with 4 XBH, and following that up with a line of .259/.333/.259 line through July with no XBH. While he seems like a great kid who works hard, you cannot ignore these past two months, which really magnifies itself with the offensive struggles of the entire team. I mean, if Jones is hitting like we expected, and if Furcal is still healthy, we can likely overlook it. But with that not being the case, and with a healthy Andy LaRoche rotting away on the bench, there is no better time than now for Andy to come in and take a shot and perhaps provide the power we badly need.
Now I know what you might be thinking:
“Well, why should we start LaRoche when DeWitt, even with his declining numbers, is still outhitting Andy? After all, DeWitt is still hitting .260/.325/.370 compared to LaRoche’s .175/.283/.350. What gives, Vin?”
The thing to keep in mind when looking at this are the amount of at-bats each has. Going into today, July 12th, 2008, Blake DeWitt has put up his below average numbers in 262 at-bats. He has also been able to play every day, while Andy LaRoche has only had 40 at-bats this season and has started only 10 games the entire year. In fact, the last time he started at all was 8 days ago, which is completely inexcusable on Joe Torre’s part. What is the point of calling him up, when you are just going to waste him away on the bench? Or send him to the bench the next game each time he’s hit a HR? He’d be best served in Las Vegas, if that’s the case. The point is, while LaRoche has yet to put up consistent numbers in the big leagues, he’s also yet to have consistent playing time and, therefore, it is unreasonable to expect him to produce more, if he is yet to be given a reasonable opportunity. That’s not to argue that the Dodgers are entitled to do such for entitlement’s sake along. But if they want to see if he is a flash in the pan prospect, they are.
And while I acknowledge that we’re talking small sample sizes here, LaRoche’s numbers have been slightly better as a starter. When starting, LaRoche has an OPS of .722, while also having a miniscule .154 BABIP, so his numbers are bound to improve.
Finally, we must look at their histories. Throughout DeWitt’s minor league career, he is a career .279/.333/.444 hitter and, thus, has not ever showed that he is the type of hitter that we saw through April and most of May. In fact, his numbers this year are falling more and more in line with those minor league numbers. But it’s a different story with LaRoche. Throughout his minor league career, he’s hit .293/.379/.516 and has put up those numbers with power at every level. Yes, I know, we’re talking minor league numbers here and they should be taken with a grain of salt, but not entirely. It is an accurate generalization to say that if one’s hitting abilities have been unimpressive throughout their minor league careers then, logically following, their hitting abilities will likely be unimpressive in the major leagues.
However, Blake DeWitt will only turn 23 next month, which, in Dave Cameron years means he has a little more than a year left before he’s done, but I do hope he can improve. He’s a good kid and someone that is well liked around MSTI. He’s the type you want to see succeed, but you cannot ignore the lack of production over the course of the past two months and so it is time for Andy LaRoche to get his time. Save us, Andy!
Blake DeWitt will now hit for the cycle, tonight, with a walk off grand slam, and pitch 7 scoreless innings.