Close your eyes and visualize your happy place. Breathe deep focusing on the inhalations. When you exhale focus on the stream of breath emanating from your diaphragm, through your mouth and out into the universe.
“Yes,” this is what it has come to for Dodgers fans leading into the 2016 season. Dodger fans should probably take a refresher course in their yoga and meditation skills, they will need it.
I am not down on the Dodgers. It may sound like it, but I’m not. I believe it’s important to be a realist. Right now the Dodgers starting rotation is Kershaw and a bunch of question marks and the bullpen is a collection of guys who have thrown well in March, but we have no idea if that will translate to June and July.
The offense has me encouraged. I believe Dave Roberts will instill a brand of baseball that is more conducive to post-season success. For whatever reason Don Mattingly could never get this team to buying into the value of moving runners and situational hitting. It’s clear that has been more of an emphasis for Roberts, and that is a good thing.
Defensively I am stunningly shocked at how bad the Dodgers are playing in the spring. After leading the National League in fielding last year, the Dodgers rank 24th out of 30 teams this spring in defense. They have committed 25 errors in 23 games, including a couple of 4-error games. What the heck ??? This can not continue, especially with a suspect rotation.
Scott Kazmir concerns me. You never know when a player will “lose it.” It appears Kazmir’s fastball has disappeared. For a guy to be penciled in as the Dodgers number two starter, to be suddenly topping out at 86 miles per hour is troubling. Hopefully he “finds it” and finds it soon.
The injury to Andre Ethier hurts. Ethier who was primarily a platoon player under Mattingly was going to win the left field job before fracturing his tibia last week. Ethier is a professional hitter that would have given length and veteran leadership to the line-up.
With all of this said there are plenty of positives but they may require Dodger fans to not expect immediate gratification. Yeah, I know we have had to wait 27 going on 28 years for a World Series title, well we may have to wait a bit longer.
The farm is an ocean of talent. I praise Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi for making the accumulation of talent a priority. Despite some of their foibles in their first year running the team, the one thing they have done is make a strong farm system even stronger. They have also refused to trade, what they perceive as “can’t miss” talents for a high-priced quick fixes. Julio Urias, Jose DeLeon, Grant Holmes and others are still in the fold. This is a big reason why the Dodgers were not willing to go above and beyond to bring back Zack Greinke at 206 million dollars for six years at the age of 32. The replacements and reinforcements are waiting in the wings. I certainly wouldn’t want to be locked into that Greinke contract in two years.
I am encouraged by Dave Roberts utilizing small ball. His emphasis on getting an extra 90 feet and manufacturing runs. The sample size is small but I am excited by the brand of baseball Roberts brings to the Dodgers. I think it will help the Dodgers win games, especially close games.
I am encouraged by the Yasiel Puig’s spring. He came to camp having lost 20-25 pounds and appears lean and ready to get after it. I was in favor of trading him for whatever the team could get after his less than stellar 2015 campaign. It wasn’t just his bad season but it was the general malaise that Puig was showing, his weight gain and lack discipline. Well, if you can lose 20-25 pounds, that is step number one in showing the discipline needed to get back to being a stand-out ball player. I am willing to give this Puig reincarnation another shot. If we can get a motivated and sane Puig, I will be excited to see some colossal bat flips.
I predict Corey Seager will be the face of the franchise for years to come. This rangy and angling short-stop has the “IT” factor. You watch him play and you are just captured by his natural fluidity for the game. He is a natural. I am not comparing Seager to Derek Jeter, but every franchise looks for a Jeter like presence in their organization. I think the Dodgers have found theirs. The Giants have Buster Posey, the Yankees HAD Jeter, the Red Sox have Big Papi. Time will tell but I think that Seager will be special for years to come.
This may truly be a year where the Dodgers take a bit of a step back before they step forward. There are still glaring weaknesses that need to be fixed or improved. But, I do like the direction.
For Dodger fans that lament the Dodgers starting pitching situation, remember it could be worse. They could have spent 426 million dollars on Greinke, Cueto and Samardjiza……No Thanks !