The Dodgers have seemingly used a different lineup every game this year. Today is no exception as the Dodgers just recently tweeted their lineup for tonight’s match-up against the Giants.
The biggest change is that the red hot Jerry Sands has been moved up to the sweet spot aka hitting 2nd right in front of Matt Kemp. James Loney had a dramatic turnaround that began about 6 weeks ago, and not surprisingly it started with him being inserted into the sweet spot in the lineup. Sands has shown that he belongs at the Major League level during his 13 game stint back with the Dodgers.
Sands has a hit in 10 of the 13 games including a current 9 game streak. During his streak he has 17 hits including 8 RBI and 2 homers, 1 off of Giants ace Tim Lincecum, which I boldly and luckily predicted and which also earned me a mention on ESPN.com’s Dodgers blog Dodger Thoughts. (Thank you to Jon Weisman for the shout out and the link)
Sands has seen his batting average increase from .187 to .249, which is respectable considering how surprisingly he was promoted early in the season. He then went from playing everyday to playing infrequently, losing playing time to Jay Gibbons of all people. After being sent back to AAA, which is where he probably belonged at that point in the season, he continued to do what he’s done his entire Minor League career, hit for power. He should have been promoted back to the Dodgers and given an everyday job probably at the All-Star break, but wasn’t.
But what’s done is done, he’s finally back where he belongs and he’s proven that given everyday playing time he will produce. Another quality he possesses is patience and the willingness to hit the ball to all fields. His On-Base Percentage has also climbed 50 points and most importantly the Dodgers have won 13 games and lost 8 since young Jerry reemerged back on the scene.
BTW the Dodgers were 20-and-21 in games Sands played in earlier this season. However 9 of those losses came in games that he did not start and received only 1 or 2 at-bats . So it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that when Sands play the Dodgers win. Let’s hope he’s placed into the starting lineup next season on day 1 and has the luxury of hitting in the sweet spot, right in front of Kemp. If so I don’t think it’s out of the question to see him hit .275 with 20 homers and 75 RBI. That would be a significant improvement over what the Dodgers got from their left-fielders this year.
But this off-season promises to be a crazy one for the Dodgers. Loney, Kemp, Ethier and Kershaw are all arbitration eligible, and it’s not out of the questions Kemp and Kershaw will garner $15 to $20 million, Ethier $10+ million and Loney $6 to $7 million. That’s a lot of money for a bankrupt franchise, but news surfaced this week that MLB will allow the Dodgers to spend this off-season to keep their young studs. Check out stories on this issues here, here, and here.
Jonathan Broxton in a free-agent as is Hiroki Kuroda and most of the rest of the roster not already mentioned, except for Juan Uribe. The rotation has 3 spots filled, but it’s hard to see Nathan Eovaldi holding down a rotation spot all season long. His innings pitched have increased from 98 in 2010 to 134 in 2011 and the Dodgers will want to limit the 21 year olds IP to around 170 in 2012. The heartbreaking loss of Rubby De La Rosa still makes me sick to my stomach. With Rubby the Dodgers had the makings of a young, versatile rotation full of power arms, and Ted Lilly.
But all of the off-season changes warrant a post in itself, which will be coming after the end of the season. But one thing for certain is Ned Colletti is in for the most challenging off-season of his tenure as Dodgers GM. Let’s just hope big money isn’t handed out to any former Giants, Ala Jason Schmidt and Juan Uribe, or any fat lazy out of shape veterans who’s numbers have diminished the past few season Ala Andruw Jones. Regardless the Dodgers, an organization currently full of uncertainty, will enter the 2011-2012 off-season with more questions than perhaps in any other time in the franchises history.
Let’s just hope young talents like Kemp, Kershaw, Ethier and locked up long term. Kemp and Kershaw are once in a generation talents that need to be signed long-term. Kemp spoke today on the Mason and Ireland show today, that he plans on spending his entire career with the Dodgers, even though they haven’t discussed a contract extension. That is music to this Dodgers fans ears. You can hear Kemp’s interview by clicking here.
For tonight though let’s enjoy the Dodgers regular season home finale, enjoy watching Jerry Sands hit in the sweet spot and see if they can deal another blow to the Giants playoff hopes.
Tonight’s Dodgers Lineup:
1. Dee Gordon SS
2. Jerry Sands RF
3. Matt Kemp CF
4. Juan Rivera LF
5. Aaron Miles 3B
6. James Loney 1B
7. Jamey Carroll 2B
8. Rod Barajas C
9. Hiroki Kuroda P
The Giants got a huge boost from the Mets today who scored 6 runs in the top of the 9th inning to pull of a shocking win and a devastating loss for the Cardinals. With the Braves having an off day the Giants have a chance to get within 3 games of the Wild Card which makes tonight a virtual must win.
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