Our conversation with the enemy series continues, as we circle back around to Colorado. The other day I spoke with Michelle Hoag, and Curtis Seidle of roxpile. This first post has Stacie and I answering questions from Michelle, and Curtis about the Dodgers. In this series we answer questions about the Dodger Bullpen, Matt Kemp, James Loney’s love for Colorado, and Casey Blake, (Rusty anchor), and his projected contributions to Colorado in 2012. In part two of this article, Michelle, and Curtis answer questions from us about the Rockies strange off-season of clubhouse changes, their starting rotation, and various other questions about the Rockie’s 2012 season.
Q: How confident are you in the back end of the Dodgers’ bullpen?
Scott: I’m very confident in the back-end of the Dodger Bullpen. I think the pen overall is going to be a big strength for the Dodgers this season. During the first half of the 2011 season, the Dodger Bullpen was a disaster. The main problem was they ranked dead least in walks allowed. Combine that with an infield that was range challenged, and you had a recipe for failure. Not to mention that because of all their injuries, they had to start the season with god-awful retreads like Ramon Troncoso, and god lord help me, Lance Cormier. So they rebuilt the bullpen on the fly mid-season. they didn’t have much choice. They called up rookie flamethrowers Kenley Jansen, and Javy Guera. Those two will take over 8th and 9th inning duties. Guerra saved 21 games of 23, Jansen broke the record for highest strikeout rate per nine innings. In addition they have lefty Scott Elbert, who had a solid year, plus newly acquired Todd Coffey, who can slot in as a decent roogie. (righty one out guy) They brought back MacDougal, who pitched admirably often being asked to pitch above his pay-grade. Add in veteran Matt Guerrier, and throw in fungible back-end guys like Blake Hawksworth, Josh Lindblom, and some interesting non-roster guys like Shane Lindsay, and John Grabow, and the Dodges have a solid collection of guys that all have very strong fastballs. With the bullpen stocked with power pitchers for the late innings, we should see a lot less meltdown games at the ravine this year.
2. Who is more likely to close, Kenley Jansen or Javy Guerra?
Scott: Good question. That’s a tough one. There both very good. I think Jansen is more dominating, but Guerra pitched very well last season stepping into the closer role, when the Dodgers desperately needed someone to step into that role. I think they might end up sharing the closer role at times, but I believe we got to go with the more dominating Jansen. However Guerra pitched well, and I don’t see a good reason to take the role away from him, unless he starts having issues. It is possible that Mattingly may use Jansen like he did in the second half of last year, as an “out man” using him only in the high leverage situations, when the game is on the line. Well find out soon enough.
Michelle: In Matt Kemp’s six seasons, he has shown a pattern of performing brilliantly one year followed by a serious regression the following year. Since 2011 was the best year of his career so far, does it follow that 2012 will be the worst? What does he need to do to make sure that doesn’t happen?
Scott: I am 150% confident that not only will Matt Kemp have another monster year, but he will have an even better year than 2011, if you can believe that. Mark my words. 2012 is going to be another monster year for Kemp. We knew the way he advanced through the minors so quickly that we had something special. He only spent a couple of years in the minors. We knew he was a toolsy prospect with a high ceiling, but its more than that. Not only is he a five tool player, all-star, team captain, but he is one of the greatest hitters I’ve ever seen play for the Dodgers since Mike Piazza. But as far as regression, I don’t think he has ever had a regression except for his 2010 season. He hit .342 in 2007, .290 in 2008, .297, in 2009, and .324 last season. His 2009 was terrific, he hit 26 homers,101 RBI, 34 stolen bases, silver slugger, gold glove, 10th in NL MVP voting, and that was his 2009 season. The only regression he has ever had was in 2010, but he still led the team in home runs, and RBI with 28 and 89 respectively. I think the Dodgers new coaching staff has made a huge difference, especially base running guru and Dodger legend Davey Lopes. if he continues his strength and conditioning that he does during the off-season, he will have an even bigger year. A lot of people before last season were calling for him to be traded, because of his 2010 decline in average, and base-running, but that just gave Bison more fuel for his fire. He promised us he would go 40/40 before 2011, and he was just one home run shy. Mark my words, there’s another Bison stampede on the way, so watch out.
Michelle: Will James Loney continue to mash against the Rockies in 2012? Should the Rockies just forfeit every game against the Dodgers right up front?
Scott: Basically yes. Funny, Stacie and I always used to joke that if Loney ever got to play half his games at Coors Field, he may win the home run crown. Needless to say, James Loney LOVES Colorado.
Michelle: How will Los Angeles ever survive without the presence of the Rusty Anchor, Casey Blake? And now that the Rockies have him, should the Dodgers just forfeit every game right up front?
Scott: Ha Ha Ha, were gonna miss Rusty. He was a good third baseman, and a decent hitter, he just couldn’t stay healthy. You’ll find out that he’s pretty versatile. He can play some games at first base, and a few in the outfield corners. The problem was that Blake kept contracting every single disease imaginable during the 2011 season. His elbow bursa sac burst one day in the clubhouse, and he had to be hospitalized. In spring training, Don Mattingly asked him to lay down a bunt, and he threw out his back. He re-injured his back several weeks later in a collision with Chase Headley during a game in San Diego. During his time with the Dodgers, he has also contracted, the plague, small pox, scruffy beard, and anthrax.
He will be a good clubhouse mentor for the young guys though, but it’s just a question of can the Rockies keep him healthy?
Stay tuned for part two of this series, in which Michelle and Curtis answer our questions. Don’t forget to stop by Rox Pile. You can follow Rox Pile on twitter here Rox Pile Twitter
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Go Blue in 2012!