In my thirty-one years as a Dodger fan, which encompasses my entire life, I have never seen the Dodgers play this bad. Sure I have been through some bad years with the Boys in Blue. All teams go through bad periods, but this is something new entirely. As fans we hang in there, that’s what we do.
The Dodgers have not scored a single run since last Sunday in Anaheim. That series was painful too but at least they scored runs during that series. Even in the Oakland series they managed to plate two measly runs. No such luck in this last series against the Giants. The Dodger’s hitting slump has reached the record books. They have never ever been swept in San Francisco and not score a single run. But I don’t want to talk about that horrid road trip that saw the Dodgers lose eight of nine games.
Now that the Dodgers have finally returned home, we can talk about where they go from here. With the team in one of the worst hitting slumps in recent memory, the offense, or lack thereof must be addressed immediately. Without Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, The Dodgers are bereft of power. They rank almost dead last in the majors in home runs. The only team that has hit less home runs than the Dodgers is the Padres, and they are catching up. Now with Ethier possibly gone for the next two or three weeks with an oblique injury, the Dodgers are approaching defcon five. While we await Ethier’s MRI results tomorrow, the Dodgers face the awful reality of their lead in the NL West completely gone. Only a walk-off home run on Sunday from Oakland’s rookie catcher Derek Norris, that beat the Giants (thank god), prevented the Dodgers from falling completely out of first place.
Of course the Dodgers are not new to random hitting slumps that have sunk their past seasons. The 1962 Dodgers went through a worse hitting slump during the 1962 season. The Dodgers that year who finished in a flat footed tie with the Giants, lost in a three game playoff series, went 35 consecutive innings without scoring a run. That is over three games without scoring at all, before they exploded for eight runs in the second playoff game.
I expect for that to happen. When we least expect it, they will blow up and score like 12 runs in one inning. That is how it usually works, but of course it is easy to question if the Dodgers will ever score again? Yes they will score. Some moves need to be made quickly.
Things are beginning to get testy in LA right now. Everyone is getting sick of watching out after out being made. So where do the Dodgers go from here? I have heard of a lot of people blaming Magic, or Stan Kasten, and the new Dodger ownership. Here is the problem with that. First, the new owners have only been in office since April 30. That is about two months. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the guys haven’t even had their offices set-up yet. The point I am trying to make is, the new ownership hasn’t been in place long enough to place blame on them. Two months isn’t long enough to fix all of the problems left over from the McCourt era.
I see Dodger fans saying on twitter that Magic needs to make a move, or that Kasten better do something, etc…etc… The other thing is the trade market just hasn’t developed yet. With it being way too early to make trades, and the second wild card putting more teams into contention later in the year, the trade market just hasn’t developed yet. We know the Dodgers are going to make some moves soon, but it won’t come until the end of July when the trade deadline nears. We all know that that is when the trades all happen within a flurry of moves during the last week of July. Who will the Dodgers pick up? I don’t know, but rest assured they will have to get someone. Some people might wonder why the Dodgers didn’t go after Kevin Youkilis, or some other player that was being shopped pre July. The truth is, we just don’t know what goes on behind the closed doors of the front office of a Baseball team. We just don’t know. Maybe the Dodgers tried their best to get Youkilis, and the Red Sox wanted too much. I mean would you have given up Zack Lee, or Chris Reed? Remember Youkilis had been hurt all season and was only batting .225. He was having the worst season of his career by far, so I am not sure how much he would have helped anyways.
So if we can’t get some one in trades for another three weeks, is there anything we can do right now to improve the roster? In one word, YES.
First of all, cutting the three automatic outs from the team is the first step, and I have a feeling the Dodgers will at least cut one of these three stooges. You know who they are. The stooges are as follows, Juan Uribe, Adam Kennedy, and James Loney, also known to us Dodger fans, as Larry, Moe, and ground ball.
If there is a lesson that Dodger Manager Don Mattingly should have learned from last year, is that you can’t have auto outs in your lineup and expect to win ballgames.
Now here is why the Dodgers should immediately release these three bums above, for the non-dodger fans, or the people just not paying attention to the offensive incompetence of these three players.
Juan Uribe- .217/.262/.304
James Loney- .244/.312/.333
Adam Kennedy- .222/.328/.283
What is really sad is Kennedy’s OBP is higher than Uribe and Loney’s on base percentages. The three bums have combined for three home runs this year. Uribe has only hit five home runs as a Dodger, and is making 21 million dollars.
They all need to be cut from the team ASAP. I don’t mean wait until after the all-star break, I mean right this very moment. Those guys are pathetic. Now Loney is the best of the three and that isn’t saying much. Kennedy is just a bench guy, but Uribe and Loney are our starting corner infielders. The Dodgers are getting zero production from their infield corners, and it’s hurting the team.
For argument sake you could say that Loney is the best of the three, and you would be right. Loney is at least below league average against right handers, but none of them can hit lefties at all. I would probably be ok with keeping Loney as a bench guy/late inning defensive replacement. That is only because of his many years of service to the Dodgers, and all the wonderful memories he has given us over the past seasons. Yes I am very aware of what a great first baseman Loney is. He is a wizard with the glove. Unfortunately his defense doesn’t justify his non-existent offense. We need infield corners that can hit. So if the Dodgers want to keep Loney as a bench guy, and occasional starter against right handers, and then give him his release during the winter, I’m probably fine with that, but the other two bums must be released.
The Dodgers will have to call up, Scott Van Slyke, Josh Fields, or Alex Castellanos. None of those three rookies impressed at all with the Dodgers, but all three can’t be any worse than Uribe, Loney, and Kennedy. I know I had said earlier that those three weren’t impressive enough to stay with the club, and judging from their initial numbers it could be true.
Van Slyke batted .194 (6 for 31), with one home run, and six RBI. Alex Castellanos batted .143 (3 for 21) with two RBIs. Josh Fields has yet to see anytime with the Dodgers, but I have a feeling he will soon. He can play first base/third base and the outfield. When Ethier is placed on the DL with his oblique injury, I’m guessing Castellanos or Van Slyke will be called up in his place. Jerry Sands has been disappointing, but even he might be better than Loney, because he can at least hit a home run every once in a while.
Another thing the Dodgers need to start doing is playing Ivan DeJesus Jr. more often. He had recently fallen out of favor with the Dodgers because of injuries and a reported poor attitude. This season he has resurrected his career, well sort of. The Dodgers still refuse to start him anymore than once per month, but as a bench guy he has thrived. IDJ is batting .281/.333/.375 (9 for 32) with three doubles, and four RBIs. Who would have known he would resurrect his career? Not me of course, like most of my predictions this season, I was wrong. That’s Baseball.
I read somewhere that the Dodgers and Giants have reversed. In a way it is true. The Dodgers are now riddled with injuries, using a lineup filled with AAA players, bench guys, and aging veterans. While the Giants are using a lineup that still has little to no power, but using OBP skills and lot’s of singles and doubles to score just enough runs to win games in unison with their solid pitching staff. Over the last month the Dodgers have only hit six home runs. The Dodgers are hitting just .219 in the month of June, and are dead last in home runs, RBIs, OBP, and OPS during this month.
Of course the sure fire way to immediately improve the offense is to find out when Matt Kemp is coming back, and second baseman Mark Ellis. The reason why the Dodgers are struggling so bad is they are without their franchise player, and the greatest player in Baseball, and their skilled and versatile second baseman. The absence of Mark Ellis has also hampered the Dodgers in run production as well. After all he was their number two hitter, was hitting .273, and had a .373 OBP before he was injured on a take-out slide from Tyler Greene of the Cardinals. Ellis had to have an emergency fasciotomy to relieve swelling and fluids from his knee. Kemp, and Ellis are said to be very close from beginning rehab assignments respectively, but can they come back in time to save the Dodgers?
Remember any team can have a bad month, or a few weeks, you only hope it happens in the beginning of the season, and or in the middle. If you remember last year, the Giants were in first place in Early August, and finished 11-18 that month, and never recovered. It could happen again to them. Maybe Sandoval breaks his hand again, or if Posey gets hurt, etc… etc.. The point is despite the historically bad offense this month, the Dodgers are still in very good shape. They have a 43-33 record and are still tied for first place. Until they can get Kemp, and Ellis, and Ethier back, they will have to just keep their heads above water and try to survive. The Dodgers will score, the Dodgers will win again.
Again until then, get rid of the three bums, call up the young guys, Play Dejesus, and set a date for Kemp, and Ellis’s return. Then come late July make those trades! Changes are coming guys, trust me here. Remember we will always be here, no matter what. We’ll celebrate, and commiserate together, Win, loss, or Ohfer.