Anyone remember the prognosis for the Dodgers headed into 2010? Tons of offense, especially from the completely stacked outfield, and a terrifyingly thin starting rotation. That’s pretty much exactly what happened, too…
So now the team is 2-4 headed back to Los Angeles, and while the big-time offense is a nice change, the Dodgers are looking at some serious questions. Remember when this team was built around pitching and defense, but couldn’t really hit? Yeah, me neither.
Okay, so maybe this team can’t pitch. Maybe they can’t field. Almost certainly, those weaknesses are going to come back to bite them in a big, stinking, painful way. There’s going to be plenty of time to discuss that, but tonight we’re going to focus on what just might be the most high-powered offense any of us have ever seen wearing the Dodger blue. It’s getting to absurd levels, and I mean that in the best way possible. Look at the lineup, and realize that 7 of the 8 regulars are carrying batting averages over .300. 7! And the one who isn’t – Blake DeWitt – merely has a .404 OBP.
Has there ever been a worse week of starting pitching in Dodger history? I’m not even sure how I’d go about researching something like that, but in the last week we’ve seen Clayton Kershaw not get out of the 2nd, Chad Billingsley allowing four runs in the 1st, Hiroki Kuroda allowing 14 baserunners in 5.1 IP, and then last night Charlie Haeger got as many Rockies out as I did – zero. If not for John Ely’s sparkling turn on Thursday, this trip through the rotation would have been a complete wash, and yet Ely was rewarded for that with a trip to AAA.
All of that, though early in the season, reflected exactly what we expected the 2010 team would look like. Yet as the starting pitching has stopped being “horrendous”, moved on past “acceptable” and right into “pretty damn good” territory, the offense has sunk further and further into mediocrity. Actually, I don’t think we’re giving the offense or the rotation enough credit…
You’ll notice that I didn’t include the relievers in that number, as they rank near the bottom of the stats, in large part due to issuing a unbelievable 5.86 BB/9 over the last month. (I believe much of that is thanks to Joe Torre; only three teams have given more than nine intentional walks in the last 30 days. Only one team has more than 14, and that team is the Dodgers, with 21.)
But even the bullpen has brighter days ahead. Kenley Jansen‘s career is off to an excellent start, and Jack Taschner is gone. Ronald Belisario is coming back starting tonight, and even George Sherrill has shown a glimmer of hope, allowing 4 hits and 0 walks in his last 17 batters. A bullen with Jonathan Broxton and Hong-Chih Kuo at the back, Octavio Dotel, Belisario, and Jansen as setup men, Sherrill as a LOOGY, and Carlos Monasterios as the long man could be pretty formidable.
Of course, none of it matters unless the bats start to get moving, and Dylan Hernandez notes that Matt Kemp & Rafael Furcal are each out of the lineup for tonight’s series opener in Philadelphia. Kemp is probably a slump-related day off after his 0-4, 4 K disaster on Sunday, but Furcal was supposed to come back from his back woes tonight. He’s still reporting pain, so I don’t think a DL trip is out of the question. Jay Gibbons gets his first start as a Dodger, hitting 6th and playing left field as Podsednik slides to center.
Minor news and rumormongering: the Dodgers have signed former Phillie and Astro Geoff Geary to a minor-league deal and sent him to AAA. Geary allowed 83 hits in 58.2 innings for Oklahoma City before being cut by Texas last month, so you can imagine how that’s going to play in Albuquerque. Completely predictably, he allowed four runs on four hits and a walk in his Isoptope debut.
In addition, there’s rumors that the Dodgers are interested in ex-Royal (ex-everyone, really) outfielder Jose Guillen, who was DFA’d by Kansas City a few days ago. At first glance, there doesn’t really seem to be a fit; with Scott Podsednik acquired to play left field, Manny Ramirez in theory coming back at some point, Reed Johnson healthy, and Jay Gibbons just recalled, the outfield doesn’t need any more bodies. Not that Guillen’s an outfielder anyway; he’s a pretty terrible defender, and really fits only as a DH.
On top of all that, a big reason that Guillen has been on so many different teams in his career is that he’s never been seen as much of a clubhouse guy, which is exactly the sort of dude you want to add to a clubhouse that has Manny, Vicente Padilla, and rumblings about Matt Kemp.
Still… if the price was zero, and Guillen was okay with a bench role, I might not hate this as much as you think. Guillen does have 16 homers this year, and one of the biggest problems the Dodgers have is the absolute lack of power on the bench. I still probably wouldn’t do it, but I understand the interest.