16 games into his managerial career with the Dodgers Don Mattingly is trying to keep a positive attitude and send a consistent message to his team that things will turn around. For at least one day things did go the Dodgers way. The Dodgers essentially have 2 effective hitters on their squad, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp. And once again it was the dynamic duo who saved the day.
Despite pitching 8 scoreless innings and not allowing a run, Chad Billingsley gave way to Jonathan Broxton to pitch the 9th inning. Broxton quickly retired Colby Rasmus and Albert Pujols but then gave up a double to Matt Holliday and after an intentional walk David Freese hit a bloop single to right to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead. It could have been worse but Aaron Miles made an outstanding running catch on a blooper to right field by Yadier Molina to end the inning.
Cardinal manager Tony La Russa turned to lefty Trever Miller to pitch to left handed hitting Andre Ethier to start the 9th and Ethier ripped Miller’s first pitch down the right field line for a double. The Cardinals then brought in closer Ryan Franklin to face the leading hitter in all of Major League Baseball, Matt Kemp. With first base open and with the next 3 Dodgers due up after Kemp all hitting near or below .200, La Russa could have walked Kemp, but fortunately for Dodger fans he chose not to put the winning run on base.
Instead, Kemp made him pay by drilling a 2-2 fastball over the center field fence and ending an excruciating 5 game Dodger losing streak. As Vin Scully put it “They pitched to the one guy who could beat them and he does.”
The win gave Dodger fans something to feel good about after a week that has been full of troubling news for the club who is now 7-9 on the season and already 5 games behind the Rockies. The Dodgers are not only struggling on the field but they are also in big trouble off of it.
Multiple media outlets reported that owner Frank McCourt had to turn to Fox to cover payroll expenses for the month of April, by borrowing 30 million dollars. For those of you keeping score at home that would bring the debt load McCourt has accrued since taking over the Dodgers in 2004 to almost $500 million. According to Bill Shaikin at the LA Times:
The loan was furnished to McCourt personally rather than to the debt-strapped Dodgers, so the arrangement did not require (MLB Commissioner)Selig’s approval, according to the people briefed on the deal. The loan marks the second time since the end of last season that Fox has provided money to the Dodgers owner so he could cover expenses.
However, the news gets worse for the Dodgers front office. Dodger fans are not showing up to games at an alarming rate. Friday night games are usually close to sell-outs with the ‘Friday Fireworks” promotion however the Dodgers had their lowest Friday night attendance in 8 years. Sunday’s paid attendance was announced to be just over 27,000, the Dodgers did not have a single game last season where they had under 30,000 in paid attendance.
Also according to a Tweet from @craigminla:
I have NEVER seen closed concessions stands within the Inside Reserved level during the regular season until today
More bad news for the cash strapped ownership. It also makes me wonder why Dodger GM Ned Colletti continues to try and put together patchwork rosters full of journeymen year in and year out. Today Aaron Miles who is batting .220 for the season, and is a career .270 hitter started at second base for the second straight game over prospect Ivan De Jesus Jr.
The Dodgers called up De Jesus 5 days ago and he has not started a single game. He finally got to play in the field last night during the blowout and got his first career hit. The Dodgers said they want IDJ to get at bats yet he isn’t getting any playing time aside from pinch hitting. Aaron Miles was not signed to be a part of the Dodgers long term plans, yet day in and day out he plays while the teams second baseman of the future, who needs playing time sits and watches. How do you expect young players to develop or get any better by sitting on the bench, especially in favor of a career journeyman who is hitting .220 on the season.
But just look around the Dodgers lineup and you see that the cash strapped club has turned to veteran players, who are singed to 1 year deals to try and fill roster spots. Last year in was the Russ and Ramon Ortiz disaster, Reed Johnson, Jay Gibbons, Garret Anderson etc…
This year it’s Aaron Miles, Marcus Thames, Lance Cormier, Mike MacDougal, Tony Gwynn, Dioner Navarro etc…For an organization who was so successful in the 70′s and 80′s and known for it’s stability, the yearly turnover of 1 year journeymen is a trend that has to stop.
IDJ and Jerry Sands, who is absolutely destroying AAA pitching, should be inserted into the every day lineup. The Tony Gwynn/Marcus Thames platoon is not part of the Dodgers long term plans. James Loney is absolutely lost at the plate because everyone was so worried about him not hitting enough home runs. Sands can play both LF and 1B. It is time for the Dodgers to quit sending out veterans who have been mediocre players at best and turn to the young players they have so we can find out if they are the future or not.
If not Dodger fans are in for another long season, and judging by this weekend the fans are not going to continue to show up, something the teams cash strapped owner desperately needs them to do.
Follow Lasorda’s Lair on Twitter by clicking here
Topics: Aaron Miles, Andre Ethier, Chad Billingsley, Don Mattingly, Frank McCourt, Ivan De Jesus Jr, Jerry Sands, Jonathan Broxton, Lance Cormier, Los Angeles Dodgers, Marcus Thames, Matt Kemp, Mike MacDougal, Vin Scully