It is being robustly reported that my beloved Los Angeles Dodgers have signed free-agent second baseman Howie Kendrick to a two-year 20 million dollar deal. I am thrilled. I have always loved Howie and what he brings to the table. He is the consummate professional hitter. I will say this, his professionalism better border on extra-ordinary if this team is going to make noise in the NL WEST.
I have been purposely silent during these winter months. One could say I have been hibernating, but that would not be true. Because whatever sleeping I have been doing pales in comparison to the Dodgers brain trust and their malfeasance.
Let me be PERFECTLY CLEAR. I fully support the Dodgers NOT giving Zack Greinke 6 years and 206 million dollars. I fully support the Dodgers not signing Jeff Samardjiza for 90 million dollars and Johnny Cueto for the 100 plus million he signed for with the Hated Ones. Let the Giants rebuild their rotation with Johnny”I had a 9 ERA in September and couldn’t pitch on the road in the post-season” Cueto. And with Jeff “I gave up the most hits, the most runs and the most home runs of any pitcher in baseball” Samardjiza. Best of luck Hated Ones. I applaud Friedman, Zaidi, Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy, Rockefeller and whomever else resides in the Dodgers front office. Great job.
Secondly, I love stock-piling young talent and the Dodgers have gone from a bottom-five minor league system under McCourt to having gold-plated toilet seats up and down their minor league system. The Dodgers have stock-piled power arms galore. They didn’t need to spend big money on the Greinke’s of the world because Jose DeLeon and Julio Urias should be tipping their hats to an appreciative Dodger Stadium crowd by mid-July. Kudos to the brain-trust for the accumulation of talent.
Now, the reason for my angst.
I will not deny that a lot of my frustration and edginess stems from the bitterness of watching the Giants win three titles in five years. I live in Northern California and have to hear from these people all the time. Their haranguing is nauseating. I deserve it. As I’ve said, my mouth after the 2002 World Series wrote checks that are now being cashed. Ok, got that out-of-the-way.
I look at the Dodgers and I see an imperfect assemblage of what a baseball team should look like. Freidman and company can assemble all the talent they want but so far they are content with a team that doesn’t generate runs unless the ball sails into the seats, and either can’t or doesn’t want to move runners with productive outs or selflessness at the plate. This “philosophical” abyss is what cost the Dodgers Game 5 of the NLDS. People can point to Corey Seager not covering third base, but the true crime of that loss was the Dodgers seeing 57 pitches with runners in scoring position and not producing one run. This team is devoid of situational awareness. Now, a ton of the blame deservedly falls at the feet of former manager Don Mattingly and released hitting instructor Mark McGwire. The Dodgers were horrific at situational hitting during the regular season, there was not reason to believe that would change when the pressure is ratcheted up. I loved what I heard from Dave Roberts after he got the job. He is a believer in stealing bags, hitting and running and sees value in “small ball.” As Denzel would say, “My Man.”
The signing of Kendrick gives the Dodgers a great bench. What they don’t have is a lead-off hitter, an influx of contact hitters and right-handed power. It’s a line-up that strikes out too much and doesn’t have much speed. So, while Roberts may philosophically be my kindred spirit, he may not have a ton to work with as the Dodgers try to shape themselves into a team that can actually win something in October.
The starting rotation does not bother me as much as it bothers some. I like Scott Kazmir. I like the Kenta Maeda signing. And, if Hyun-Jin Ryu is healthy by June I really like the rotation, especially with the kids waiting in the wings. What is unforgivable is the Dodgers going into the 2016 season with virtually the same bullpen as last year. Yes, I know they had a deal for Aroldis Chapman that fell through when the world learned he likes to fire 8 gunshots into the wall of his garage while his girl-friend cowers in the bushes. Again, I applaud the Dodgers from walking away from Chapman. From a baseball perspective it hurts, from a human perspective….screw that guy.
I’m sorry I have no faith in Pedro Baez. If I see this one pitch wonder in another leveraged situation again…….Chris Hatcher needs to show me more than six weeks of effectiveness. And, the Dodgers continue to tout Joel Peralta who seems to lose velo on his fastball by the pitch. Have the Dodgers paid attention to the last five World Series champions ? They have all had stellar bullpens with power arms or nasty slider strike throwers. Now is the time in the story when I lament the Dodgers not backing up the Brinks truck for Andrew Miller……..but I digress.
The baseball philosophy must change. The approach must change. The bullpen needs to be reborn. Until this is all put in motion, I will applaud the Kendrick signing, only to stop realizing that Baez and Hatcher have only one serviceable pitch and they will be asked to get outs in the 7th and 8th innings.
Someone get me some Maalox…..