A little truncated due to life getting in the way, a final look back at the first half of 2008.
It’s hard to look at this (a little more than) half a season as anything but a disappointment so far. There’ve been bright spots, sure. The 8 game winning streak. The amazing arrival of Blake DeWitt, and the continued ascendence of Russell Martin and Chad Billingsley. The incredible resurgence of Chan Ho Park, and the finally healthy Hong-Chih Kuo, plus the pleasant surprises of Cory Wade and Hiroki Kuroda. But the fact is, the team has still lost three more than they’ve won, and saying “well they’re only one game out” obviously speaks a whole lot more to the crapulence of the NL West than it does to the success of the Dodgers. In the AL East, they’d be 10 out and tied for last place; in the NL Central they’d be 11 back.
Worse, it’s hard to point the finger at any one player or cause for the mediocrity this season. We’ve seen an nearly unprecedented amount of injuries decimate the team (too many to list, but especially Furcal and now Saito); we’ve seen young players like Ethier, Loney, and Kemp be good but not all that great; we’ve seen young players be complete disasters (Hu, and DeWitt since June 1); we’ve seen expensive veteran players be below their usual lousy average (Pierre); we’ve seen a veteran try to be the Worst Offensive Player in History (Jones); we’ve had usually reliable vets completely crap the bed (Penny, Proctor, Kent); and we’ve had confounding decisions by the manager (insisting Pierre is great, using Falkenborg in tight spots) and the front office (allowing Sweeney to have a role, possibly botching trades due to politics). Not only that, but the first game of the “second half” hasn’t even been played yet, and already the Dodgers have lost their closer for at least 4-6 weeks.
All that said… they’ve still got a shot. I completely agree that they don’t deserve to be one game out, that they ought to be floundering in 3rd or 4th place looking to sell some pieces off. But you know what? Thanks to the Diamondbacks, the Dodgers still have as good a chance as anyone to make the playoffs. And once you’re there, they don’t penalize you for how badly you backed in (see: 2006 St. Louis Cardinals.)
So what’s it going to take? First of all, some good news on the health front. Give me Furcal back for September, give me the miracle of Jason Schmidt coming back with any sort of effectiveness. Give me something – this team deserves it. Second, at least one of the young players is going to have to step it up besides Martin. James Loney, please pick up the white courtesy phone! Third, Ned Colletti’s going to have to resist the urge to deal talented young players for a short-term veteran fix. And finally, either Andruw Jones is going to have to approach decency… or Joe Torre’s going to have to have the cojones to just cut the rope and sit him down.
It might not be pretty. But at least there’s still a pennant race to look forward to. Go Blue.
- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness