I’m going to be completely honest with you here. I had a recap written. WordPress ate it as I tried to publish it. And as we look at a team that just lost game number eight in a row — no really, they haven’t won since April 30 — I don’t care to spend the time to do it again. It’s really not worth it right now, for this team.
A quality Clayton Kershaw start was wasted by a non-existent offense, and stop me if you’ve heard that one before. Let’s see about the Dodger offense after the first ten games of the season, along with some baseball-reference charts.
In a 15-team National League, the Dodgers are 13th in runs scored, and that’s actually less impressive than it sounds. They’re ahead of only the Pirates, hitting .175/.252/.247 as a team, and the Marlins, who really should have been relegated to the Florida State League by now. But it’s not all bad, because…
…they’re fourth in the NL in on-base percentage. That’s in large part due to Carl Crawford‘s .474, but of the regular lineup, A.J. Ellis, Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Ellis, & Andre Ethier are all at .350 or higher. The main drags here are the thus-far atrocious Luis Cruz & Justin Sellers, unsurprisingly, and also Matt Kemp‘s slow start — though Kemp does have hits in five consecutive games.The power hasn’t really been there, as you can see by the .379 SLG (ninth in the NL), but on the whole, this team gets on base.
So when you combine a team that puts runners on and isn’t getting them in, you get the inevitable chart of…
…a team that’s behind even the Pirates in runs batted in. RBI is an atrocious stat for individual players, but it’s a worthwhile team stat. Runners are on base, but they’re not coming in, and that’s how you end up with the second worst batting average with runners in scoring position in the bigs.
So what to do? Well, upgrades on the left side of the infield would certainly be nice, but we’ve been saying that for months. Even if trade possibilities were available there — which they really aren’t — Hanley Ramirez‘ cast is off and he’s reportedly ahead of schedule, though we still won’t see him until well into May. Fans are fond of pointing out that Yasiel Puig has continued pounding the ball in Double-A (.417/.481/.708), but with Crawford playing phenomenally, there’s really not room for Puig right now.
Unfortunately, the only answer to this seems to be time, and that’s probably spelled out as much by the fact that the Mets are leading the NL in most offensive categories more than anything. That’s not going to continue — no, John Buck is not this good — and Kemp isn’t going to hit .189 all season. It’s only been ten games, and they’re just a game out of first at this early juncture due to a pitching staff that’s allowed fewer runs than everyone but Atlanta.
I suppose it’s not satisfying to say, but unless they can suddenly rustle up a replacement for Cruz or Sellers, all we can do is wait. The hits will come in bunches. They always do.
Carl Crawford‘s spring debut ended up with no hits in three plate appearances — he flew to center and grounded to short twice — but that’s entirely missing the point. He played in a real game, he made contact each time, and looked reasonably good doing it. As far as we know he didn’t re-injure anything, and that’s absolutely all you can ask for right now.
News from the the rest of Sunday’s split-squad doubleheader of fake games…
Home against Milwaukee, i.e., “the good”:
Adrian Gonzalez hit not one but two opposite-field homers off Brewer pitching as part of an 11-1 rout. That’ll do. Hyun-Jin Ryu went 5.2 one-run innings, striking out six and retiring the last 11 batters he saw in what was really a very encouraging outing for him. Andre Ethier reached three times, including two doubles, & Mark Ellis reached four times, including a homer.
Road against Arizona, i.e., “the bad”:
Ted Lilly looked absolutely atrocious, getting yanked after retiring exactly zero of the five hitters he saw in the third inning, getting charged with five earned runs overall. I’m starting to wonder if they can gin up a disabled list reason for him to start the year, because he has shown absolutely nothing this spring. Chris Withrow, who just can’t buy a break, left the game after being hit with a ball off the bat of Paul Goldschmidt, and Peter Moylan didn’t help his chances either by allowing a first-pitch homer to Aaron Hill. Chris Reed got into the game and gave up a dinger to “old friend” Rod Barajas. The entire starting offense was stagnant other than Yasiel Puig, who stole both second and third after singling his way on.
Well, okay, there was one good thing in this game. Good lord, Matt Kemp, that just ain’t right:
Per Ken Gurnick, Javy Guerra was optioned to the minors before today’s game. I didn’t think he really had much of a chance of making a crowded bullpen, especially since he’d missed time with a groin strain and had pitched only 2.2 innings this spring, but I count it as a mild surprise that he’s gone so soon.
On the other hand, he doesn’t seem to be too concerned about it…
— JavyGuerra54 (@JavyGuerra54) March 17, 2013
Anyone have any good Vegas connects for a good time ;) ???
— JavyGuerra54 (@JavyGuerra54) March 17, 2013
So there’s that. If you’re wondering why the first one shows up just text and the second one only as a real tweet, it’s because he later deleted the initial one. He also vented his frustration on Instagram, in another post that was since deleted, saying “it’s a frustration kind of trip … If u would have seen me throw yesterday .. You would know I could help ANY team win right Now … But that’s life… People will always tell me what I Can’t do … So ill take out this frustration and get back to work Thursday … #ItIsWhatItIs” (h/t Antonio)
Lovely. More cuts to come this evening, no doubt.
Sure, the game is still going on, but if Kevin Gregg is on the mound… well, is it really still going on?
This is what today’s game has given us just from the outfield perspective…
1) Alex Castellanos really, really wants to make this team. His homer in the seventh prompted this from Bill Shaikin:
Alex Castellanos: 3 HR this spring, more than entire projected starting lineup. #Dodgers
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) March 9, 2013
2) Yasiel Puig isn’t just big and powerful, he’s really, really fast. Here he is beating out an infield grounder, and it isn’t even close.
3) Carl Crawford isn’t the only injured Dodger outfielder worth being concerned about. Matt Kemp went 0-3 with two strikeouts today, leaving him oh-for-the-spring, not reaching in 10 plate appearances with four whiffs. Obviously, I’m not putting much emphasis — any, really — on that small of a sample when he’s coming off surgery, especially when we’re reading stories that he’s trying to get over the mental hurdle of accepting he’s healthy. So that’s fine, and there’s still weeks to go in the spring. Still, as we saw last year, Kemp is the man that makes this offense go, so his presence — productive an healthy — is a requirement.