Last night we saw the Giants clinch the NL West. The division is officially over. It was a disgusting and sobering reality. I refused to watch. I logged off twitter, and spent the rest of the night avoiding ESPN, Twitter, or anything that had to with Baseball. I needed a night off. Especially after the Dodgers lost to the Reds 6-0 in game two of the three game set in Cincinnati. Out of sight out of mind so to speak. Or so at least I thought.
Once the Giants won the division late last night, the Dodgers fell to 11 games behind the Giants. The Dodgers are now 78-74, and three games behind the Cardinals for the second of two NL Wild Card spots. With only ten games remaining it looks unlikely the Dodgers will make the playoffs. Time is running out.
I was thinking how unacceptable this is. After the new ownership made all of these trades, the team loses nearly 20 games in the standings over the final two months. Why aren’t heads rolling? Why are we bringing back the same guys again next season? Is this the right mix of players? I’m sure you guys have been asking the same questions for the past few weeks now.
Just how bad have the Dodgers been? Well besides their season .248 batting average, the Dodgers are 8-11 in the month of September. They are hitting .226 as a team during the month, and .248 with runners in scoring position. Perhaps this just isn’t the right mix of players. You can talk about “jelling”, and team chemistry all you want, but if this group of players can’t hit now, what’s to say they’ll hit next year at all?
While Hanley Ramirez has been productive, for the most part, (.257 10 HR, 42 RBI), Adrian Gonzalez has been pathetic. I hope the Dodgers would somehow dump him next year on any team that would take him. He is pathetic. Since joining the Dodgers in the block buster trade from Boston, he is hitting only .245 with a .303 OBP, only one home run, and 16 RBI. Those are Loney like numbers. He’s been putting up those numbers with all of the personality of a corpse.
Gonzalez’s pathetic performance barely registers a 0.3 WAR, and barely a 2.0 WAR all total for this season, If you look at that sort of thing. The whole point of the trade was to acquire Gonzalez as the centerpiece. Step your game up Gonzo. I’m challenging you.
The team is only averaging 2.7 runs per game in September, and have been one of the worst clutch hitting teams in the majors. Gonzalez is hitting just .237 with an OBP below .300 over the last month, with no home runs. Matt Kemp is only hitting .186 in September with only two home runs, as he continues to recover from the crash into the center field wall in Colorado back on August 28 that nearly killed him. Although if it wasn’t for Kemp, the Dodgers wouldn’t have won the only two games they have won on this road trip.
The Dodgers rank 26 in the Majors in runs scored, and their 101 home runs ranks them almost dead last, 29 in all of Baseball. This just isn’t acceptable. Dodger fans deserve better. We deserve a team that does everything it can to win. We deserve a team that plays aggressive passionate Baseball, not a team that just gives up and runs away with their tail between their legs. It feels like the Dodgers are just running out the clock so to speak. Their just taking a kneel, while the schedule runs down. (credit Dustin for that expression) .
I often think to myself what might have been if they had made the mega deal with the Chicago Cubs instead. Alfonso Soriano in left field, instead of the unproductive Shane Victorino. Rat Boy has hit just .225 with the Dodgers, and has an OBP of .298. Victorino is hitting just .188 in the month of September. He’s not setting the table like he’s supposed to be. Nor is he getting on base.
Bryan LaHair would have been the first baseman instead of the punch-less Gonzalez. Ryan Dempster would have been just as productive if not more than Josh Beckett. Although Beckett has been pretty good. One of the few players acquired that has performed well. I’ll Give a shout out to Brandon League as well. Should the Dodgers have made that trade with the Cubs? Did the new owners make a huge mistake, that cost them the 2012 season? Did the Dodgers make the blockbuster trade with the wrong team?
So who is to blame for this utter catastrophe? The Dodgers haven’t won a series in about a month. Sure injuries to almost the entire roster, and Matt Kemp, and Clayton Kershaw have played a huge part. The coaching staff and manager have to take just us much of the blame as the players. Everyone is at fault in my opinion.
One man has been the exception. There is one man who has not been part of the problem. Luis Cruz. Cochito is batting .314 in September, and hit .333 in August. Over the last 30 days, Cruz is hitting .299. But will he have a starting spot next year?
But should everyone be brought back for next year? Should Don Mattingly, and Ned Colletti receive contract extensions after the season is over? Nobody should be getting long term contracts for the way this team has collapsed in the second half of the season. Should the team move in a new direction?
I’m not so sure now. But I know this. The team will have a ton of uncertainty going into the 2013 season. Many questions need to be answered. Will Gonzalez ever hit? Will Kemp and Kershaw be healthy? Will Chad Billingsley need Tommy John surgery? Will the Dodgers need one or two additional starting pitchers next year? Will Carl Crawford be healthy? Will the Dodgers ever find a lead-off bat? What do the Dodgers do with Dee Gordon? What will happen to Luis Cruz? Can Don Mattingly lead the team to a World Series?
I think a couple of extra starting pitchers, a lead-off bat, another bat that can play the outfield, and first base, and some decent bench hitters would help, but will it make any difference next season?
The Dodgers must answer all of those questions before the 2013 season starts. However the 2012 season isn’t over yet. Despite the Dodgers being so bad over the last four weeks, they still have a chance. The Dodgers have ten games remaining, and are three games out of a playoff spot. They would have to win out most or all of their remaining games, and get some help. They need the Cardinals and the red-hot Brewers to lose. It seems like a long shot, but the opportunity is still there, if they can actually hit and score some runs over the last stretch of games.
The second half has been terribly disappointing. And weather you think it is because of team chemistry, or poor management, poor hitting approaches, or just bad luck, the 2012 season is a failure if the Dodgers don’t make the playoffs, and it’s terribly depressing. This is Baseball though. Dodger fans will hang in there and wait until next year, because that’s what we do. We love our boys in Blue no matter how they play, but we’re not happy with this performance.
The 162 game MLB regular season often separates the contenders from the pretenders. The cream rise to the top, and the crap goes to the bottom. There are winners, and there are losers. That is Baseball. If the Dodgers can’t get it together and make the playoffs, then they are losers this season. Make no mistake, the owners were trying to win this year, and not even making the playoffs, after all of these trades, and all of the money, is a huge failure.
But the Dodgers have a chance to at least leave us with a good taste in our mouths. These last ten games are more important than you may think. It’s their last chance to make a good impression with us before we head into winter. So please Dodgers. Help us help you. Make us proud these last ten games. Whether you make the playoffs or not. We want to see passion. We want to see aggressiveness. We want to see runs scored. Show us what you got Dodgers. Go charge through those doors and create a little havoc. This is our last chance to make some noise. Otherwise it’s a long cold winter that will take us into spring. A long time until spring training starts to think about what could have been.