Not gonna lie, this Los Angeles Dodgers defense is a major concern. I know it is only April but there isn’t some magic elixir when your team can’t play good defense. It’s not like you can call up a young stud from the minors a-la Yasiel Puig, and all of a sudden everything gets fixed defensively. Plain and simple, the Dodgers defense stinks !!
While many in the Blue Kingdom lament the Dodgers struggling offense and recent inconsistencies in the bullpen, I know those won’t be long-term problems. But, defense could be. Let’s look at why I think the Dodgers brass should be very concerned with their penchant to kick the ball around.
First problem, Hanley Ramirez. “Yes,” I know he is a great offensive short-stop but every time the ball is hit to the guy I lose a few days off of my life. What is with his hesitation throwing the ball to first? Vin Scully says he is trying to get the seams lined up so he can make a good throw to first. Well, sometimes you just don’t have time to, field the ball, look at it, move it around in your hand to find the seams, and THEN throw it to first. Sometimes you just need to get rid of it. That is what good big league short-stops do. This Hanley-ism is driving me crazy. Every time he fields a ball it’s an adventure. Hanley’s range is limited. On occasion his route to balls is just purely nonsensical. When you combine all of these defensive attributes, it is just plain terrifying. I thought Hanley would be better defensively since he is playing for a long-term contract, it’s gotten significantly worse.
I have no problem with Juan Uribe at third. Despite a few early season errors, the guy is a Hoover over there and I am happy with Uribe’s reliability at the hot corner.
Adrian Gonzalez is a solid first baseman. He is not what he once was, but he isn’t a chump over there either. AGone’s lateral movement is not what it was when he played for the Padres, but he certainly doesn’t hurt the Dodgers at first base.
The Dodgers are crossing their fingers and hoping the Dee Gordon/Justin Turner platoon at second base, works. Gordon has been electrifying at the plate and is still learning to play second base after making the switch in the off-season. The fact that he has only played second base for a year or so doesn’t calm my nerves. But, I like how hard Dee has worked at improving his over-all game. Defense isn’t a strength of his, and it is something we will have to live with for the time being.
The outfield. Guh ! Where do I start ? Carl Crawford has speed, but watching him run balls down in the outfield is like watching a Pinto go from 0-60 in 9.4 seconds. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like it takes him awhile to get to those engines revving. When he does get going, he can really chase balls down in the gap or toward the lines. His arm is probably the worst in the major leagues. It wasn’t a good arm before he had Tommy-John surgery, now its just plain awful. It is a liability. Everyone, and I mean everyone is given the green light to run on his pop-gun.
Matt Kemp used to run like a gazelle. But the hamstring and ankle injuries have taken their toll. He just doesn’t look the same. I believe he can recapture that old magic. I have seen many-a-player take more than a year to recover from those nagging leg injuries and get back to form. But, it’s not something that one can guarantee. He just doesn’t get to balls like he used to. His arm is better than average.
Andre Ethier has been a solid outfielder. He is not a speedster but he gets to balls and has enough to just make the plays. While it’s not ideal to have him play center field, sometimes he must out of necessity.
Yasiel Puig has improved. He is now hitting the cut-off man and his ability to chase a ball down, pivot and throw may be the best in the game right now. But, his nonchalant one-handed catches will prove costly. I know he “thinks” it looks good and he has done it forever but it almost proved costly in San Francisco last week. Mix in a two-handed grab every now and then. The “Wild Horse” has a ridiculous arm. Everyone knows it. He has done a great job of not showing it off on every single throw like last year. He is young and we give him a bit of lee-way as he still learns the nuances of the game.
Having committed 23 errors in 21 games, including that brutal display in last night’s loss to the Phillies, is not acceptable. As good as we expect the Dodgers to hit and pitch, they must play better defense to be a championship contender.