The Dodgers are playing poorly and it’s not just one thing. Their offense is stagnant, their defense is pathetic and their bullpen has not met expectations. With down years from virtually every high paid star in their line-up it’s no surprise that the Dodgers are floundering and in danger of losing sight of the soaring Giants.
Last June the Don Mattingly-watch hit full speed. It was believed the Dodgers were weeks away from relieving Mattingly of his duties. But then a Cuban phenom burst upon the scene and the rest is history. The Dodgers would crawl out from a 9.5 game hole, surging through the months of July and August and winning the west going away. While it’s possible for this team to get that hot, it’s not likely.
Yasiel Puig took all the pressure of the Dodgers when he was called up from the minors. Sure, he wasn’t ready in terms of his knowledge of the game and fundamentals, but his talents were electrifying. He mesmerized baseball and the Dodgers took off when he arrived. Puig got hot, the Dodgers got hot, everyone started to hit, the bullpen ironed out their issues and the Dodgers were rolling. But, I am not encouraged that will happen again. Here is why….
First, while the Dodgers have some big time talent in their minor league system, it’s not believed they are ready to rescue this club just yet. As much as we clamor for Joc Pedersen, reports indicate he isn’t ready to be the Dodgers everyday center-fielder.
The composition of the Dodgers doesn’t work. This is not a Mattingly failing but a Coletti/Kasten mis-cue. To think it was a good idea to have four outfielders who are used to playing everyday, vying for starts and at-bats is no solution at all. I am aware of the injury history and the issues we had last year, but it creates turmoil when you have four guys, who are used to playing on a daily basis, sharing starts. It doesn’t work. It has shown as much this year, with Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford all having terrible seasons.
This team defensively is grotesque. They are just awful. Hanley Ramirez is just not a good short-stop and his lack of range, bad angles and inconsistent throws to first hurt this team all the time. Dee Gordon has been a pleasant surprise at second, but it’s clearly a position he is still learning. Other than Puig, the Dodgers outfield defense is slow with bad arms, not a good combination. Before Crawford’s injury a case could be made that his arm was the worst in the big leagues, so everyone runs on him and takes extra bases. Don’t under-value what this does. It takes double-plays out of the equation, and allows teams to put extra runners in scoring position when they don’t fear a fielder’s arm. Kemp is much slower with his leg issues, no longer the dynamic outfielder from 2011. it’s really sad to see his regression and what the injuries have done. Ethier is solid, but not spectacular with arm and speed. And, while we “oooh” and “ahhhh” with the plays that Puig makes, he still misses way too many cut-off men allowing runners to take extra bases.
The Dodgers have four months to figure this out. I have no doubts that they will play better. But, the issue for the Dodgers is the San Francisco Giants. Not only are the Boys in Blue only 3-7 against the Hated Ones, but the Giants are 25-9 over their last 34 games. They have extended to a 7-game lead and don’t look like the brittle bunch that occupied first place in early June last year. The Dodgers may get hot, but will they be able to reach a level of consistency that turns them from pretenders to contenders in the NL West ? As constituted now, I just don’t see it.