Dodgers Finish Off 2011 Home Schedule

In just a few minutes, the Dodgers will take the field for their final home game of the season, and we won’t see them back at Chavez Ravine until April 10, 2012 – a little over six months from now. (At 41-39, they have clinched a winning home record). I don’t usually do game threads, but what the hell, it’s the last home game of the year – and it comes with a question.

Tonight’s lineup:

Gordon 6, Sands 9, Kemp 8, Rivera 7, Miles 5, Loney 7, Barajas 2, Carroll 4, Kuroda 1

When we next see the Dodgers in the spring, how different is that lineup going to look? Matt Kemp is the only fully guaranteed returnee, with Dee Gordon most likely joining him and Jerry Sands doing his best to make his case. Beyond them? James Loney may yet be a non-tender. Juan Rivera, Jamey Carroll, Aaron Miles, Rod Barajas, and Hiroki Kuroda are all free agents, and the prevailing winds on Kuroda are that he’s going back to Japan. How many of those guys are going to come back? (The correct answer, probably, is “more than I hope”.)

To be honest, I’m about ready for the season to end. As much fun as it’s been to see the team come back from the absolute depths of June and July to play well over the last six weeks or so, what we’re watching is clearly a roster in transition, populated by two top stars, a few prospects making their bones, and a lot of veteran filler. I’m ready. I’m ready for the tough arbitration decisions, the tug-of-war between “McCourt will make a big splash” and “uh, yeah, he’s a penniless scumbag”, the pie-in-the-sky creative plans for moves that might be made, and the inevitable disappointment at the ones that are.

Of course, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, because there’s one thing I’m ready for first, and that’s for Kuroda and the Dodgers to deal yet another blow to San Francisco’s dwindling playoff hopes. Let’s get on that first, okay?

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