Andre Ethier Strains Oblique as Dodgers Tie Team Scoring Futility Record; Chad Billingsley Blamed

Somehow, it's always Ryan Theriot's fault

I feel like by the time this season ends, the camera’s going to slowly pan out, and we’ll see that the entire year was simply a dream in Ned Colletti’s snowglobe. Every time you think things can’t get any more absurd – whether it’s the club selling for $2.15 billion, or an overachieving group shocking everyone to have the best record in baseball in May, or 90% (ish) of the 40-man roster all getting hurt – they do.

Today, we were hit with a doubleheader of depression, and let me tell you, here’s a pretty good way to know how badly things are going right now. You’d think that A) making 2012 Tim Lincecum look like 2009 Tim Lincecum B) blowing sole possession of first place C) getting swept out of San Francisco without scoring a single run, and D) tying a team record for most times being shut out in a row would be painful enough, yet even that collection of woe isn’t the biggest disaster that came out of the club today: it’s the strained oblique which sent Andre Ethier out of the game in the first inning.

We’ve yet to hear the severity of Ethier’s strain, but obliques are notoriously tricky when it comes to healing. An absence of at least two weeks seems all but certain, and in some cases it can take up to two months. I’ll speculate that Alex Castellanos would get the call assuming Ethier lands on the DL, and with Mark Ellis & Matt Kemp still a few weeks away, that means the Dodger lineup between now and the All-Star break looks something like…

C Ellis / Treanor
1B Loney / Rivera
2B Hairston / Herrera / Kennedy
SS Gordon
3B Uribe / Herrera / Kennedy
LF Abreu / Herrera
CF Gwynn / Herrera
RF Castellanos/ Rivera

(I didn’t include Ivan De Jesus because as far as the Dodgers are concerned, he doesn’t exist.)

I mean, good lord. I’ll buy into the idea that the June slump was an unfortunately timed confluence of everyone hitting the wall at the same time and that it’s all but impossible for the team as a whole to keep hitting so poorly, but just look at that group. What a mess of has-beens, never-wases, and Adam Kennedys; it’s almost hard to believe that’s a major league offense.

If that’s the case, that leads you to a larger question. Should the team even be trying to buy offense on the market? I get that it’s an odd question for a club that’s currently tied for first place, but this is a group which was expected to struggle even with Kemp & Ethier; I’m not sure that we should let a hot and almost certainly unrepeatable start color that. I’m certainly not advocating selling right now (again, tied for first place) and Kemp & Ethier & Ellis will all be back at some point. I’m just starting to think – let’s be honest, I was thinking this a bit before Ethier got hurt – that selling pitching prospects for a Josh Willingham or Carlos Lee or Jeff Francoeur whomever else is out there might not be the best use of assets to reinforce a roster which is full of holes even at full strength. There’s a pretty convincing line of thought that says to enjoy the hot start, conserve your trade chips, and spend big in the offseason to take a real shot in 2013.

I’m not there yet, to be clear. But I also didn’t expect to be looking up the record for most consecutive times a team has ever been shut out and finding that the Dodgers are just one shy of that mark, which they’ll now have to try to avoid without the help of Ethier or just about anyone else resembling a major league hitter.

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