We have all had those times when we get sick and have to go see the doctor (as much as I hate that). Have you ever had the doctor, having concluded the exam and having run some tests, tell you, “Well, I have some good news and I have some bad news. Which would you like to hear first?” Well the doctor is in and I have some good news and some bad news for the Dodger faithful.
Yes I realize that it has only been one week. And the news isn’t all bad. The diagnosis is not terminal, nor final. The prognosis and destiny of the 2011 team can change if the Dodgers follow my prescription and do so quickly.
First, the good news. The pitching staff has been very good overall. Tim Redding has gotten off to a surprisingly fast start, starting two games, going five total innings, and allowing six hits but no runs. Chad Billingsley pitched three shutout innings in his only appearance thus far. Jonathan Broxton got his first appearance of the Spring out of the way allowing no hits or walks. This is a very good sign given the way he ended 2010. Kenley Jansen is making his case for the closer spot should Broxton’s struggles reemerge. He has been just plain nasty so far this spring. Keep up the good work young man!
It is actually easier to say who has not been pitching well, which leads us to Jon Link and Carlos Monasterios. Both pitchers have ERAs over 10 and have been roughed up in their outings. Link is a bit of a long-shot to make the club so every outing is important and he must make the most of every opportunity. Monasterios, having pitched in 32 games last season, may have a little more leeway, but he has got to find his rhythm and soon.
Hiroki Kuroda struggled mightily yesterday, giving up runs in three innings against the “powerhouse” Reds offense. Not exactly the shot of confidence from the number four starter I would like to see. Thankfully he still has time to get things together.
Now for the bad news. Hitting. Can the Dodgers hit? Will the Dodgers ever hit? This is one tradition that the team needs to put to rest. Three games in which only one run was scored? Really? Again, I know it is early. But it cannot be a good sign that the team has been held to one run in half of their games. They are last in the Cactus League with a paltry 3.1 runs per game. And some of these guys desperately need a great spring if they are going to make the trip West at the end of the month.
Xavier Paul is one such player. Two hits in his first ten at-bats, with five strikeouts, is not going to land him a spot in the crowded Dodger outfield. His chances diminish by the moment considering that Jamie Hoffman and Jerry Sands have each gotten off to a good start and could land that last coveted roster spot.
While the Dodgers would like to platoon Jay Gibbons in left field with Marcus Thames, Gibbons is an awful 0-5 with two strikeouts. Thames is off to a better start going 2 for 7 so far. The Dodgers are going to need much more production from this spot if they are going to compete.
So let’s get it going boys! Start rippin’ the ball! Or perhaps Donnie Baseball is trying to lure the rest of the division into a false sense of security. Maybe he wants the boys to save all their hits for when it counts. Yeah, that’s it! What a great strategist the Dodgers have leading the charge! But don’t tell anyone. We wouldn’t want to ruin this strategy. Remember, it’s a secret!