Tag Archives: San Francisco Giants

“Devil Magic” may have met its match

The San Francisco Giants carpet ride of glory may have met its match in an October even year with this year’s 103-win Chicago Cubs.

There has been something magical about the Cubs this year. Joe Maddon and his fun-loving bunch believe this is their time. They have the group young and wild enough to give the finger to 108 years of no banners. They are the best team in baseball and they carry themselves like they know it.

It was only one game but the Cubs and Jon Lester tamed the beast that roars in last night’s 1-0 win. The “Devil” also saw some moments of trepidation when calls that usually go their way in October’s past, inexplicably didn’t.

Early on it seemed the Giant mo-jo was intact. A sliding acrobatic catch in left center by Gorkys Hernandez kept the Cubs at bay early, and a tremendous sliding snag of a hard hit grounder late by Kelby Tomlinson had Satan and minions delighted. But, that all turned in the 9th when Hernandez was called out on a check-swing, that replays clearly showed was a bad call and he should have been awarded first base. The call was even more painful for the Giants when Buster Posey rattled a ball off the ivy in left-center that would have easily scored the speedy Hernandez with two outs in the 9th.

You will say this a little thing, but I say its big. These are the types of plays, the types of breaks that always go the Giants way in October. Last night they didn’t.

Devil Magic is on full alert. It only takes one of those quirky plays to not go your way allowing even-year doubt to start seeping in.

Giants collapse is historic in scope as Dodgers surge

The more I rip on the guy, the more his merry-band-of-do-gooders proves me wrong. I am still not a fan of many of Andrew Friedman’s moves but I would be foolish not to acknowledge the Dodgers tremendous second-half run which has led to a 4-game lead of the San Francisco Giants with 25 games left to play.

This collapse by San Francisco is something of legend. And, make no mistake this is a collapse. Our favorite story-telling play-by-play man, the venerable Vin Scully alluded to it on Monday night calling the Giants collapse one of the “strangest things he has seen in his 67 years in the game.”

Lets dissect the Giants sub-par play, something that brings smiles to all Dodger Blue faces…..

First, after compiling the best record in baseball at 57-33 on July 10th, the Giants have turned into the worst team in baseball. No, really, since that date the Giants are 17-31 and that is the worst record in baseball. How did it happen ? Well, the Giants have under-performed in almost EVERY statistical category in baseball.

On July 10th the Giants had four players with an OPS better than .800. Since then not one player has on OPS better than .800. Madison Bumgarner hasn’t been very good either. He had a 1.94 ERA before the All-Star Break, since then a pedestrian 3.66 ERA. Jeff Samardjiza’s ERA is nearly 4 and-a-half and Johnny Cueto has been good not great going from a 2.47 ERA in the first half to a 3.90 ERA in the second half.

As much as you want to focus on the pitching struggles the Giants collapse is all about their hitting. Buster Posey hasn’t homered in 40 games. Hunter Pence is only hitting .231 since coming off the DL and Brandon Crawford is only hitting .242 in the last month.

Were the Giants beyond their ski’s in the first half ? Giants fans will tell you “yes.” But, the fact remains they were the toast of baseball. San Francisco had a 4-game lead on the Chicago Cubs on July 10th. Now, the Cubs don’t even see them in the rear-view mirror.

On June 26th the Giants had an 8.5 game lead on the Dodgers. On that same day the Dodgers learned Clayton Kershaw and his 1.79 ERA had a back ailment and was going on the shelf. Here we sit 10 weeks later the Dodgers have picked up 12.5 games on the Giants and are 4-clear of their rivals with 25 games left.

The Dodgers have done it with superb bullpen work (gulp) ! I can not believe how well the Dodgers pen has performed. I not only buried this group aside from Jansen but I walked them through the town-square and had the faithful holler “SHAME SHAME SHAME” over and over. What a performance by a group of guys who I had given up on. If this was a two or three work resurgence I would hold my platitudes. This group has done this ALL SEASON. Well done boys ! But, I better not see Pedro Baez in a tie-game in the post-season with other options available.

Friedman’s plan to strengthen through depth has worked. Double and Triple-A call-ups have performed, most notably Andrew Toles who has been a revelation. Friedman had Toles in Tampa before Toles almost behaved himself out of the game. But, Toles cleaned up his act and Friedman never forgot the skill-set. Kudos to Friedman. Julio Urias and Jose DeLeon are future stand-outs in the Dodgers rotation. I understand the need to monitoring usage and pitch count, but I want to see these guys if the Dodgers are fortunate enough to get to October. I better not see the 76 million dollar busts in Anderson and McCarthy, I better not see it.

While I was not a fan of the Ellis for Ruiz  and Hill and Reddick for three power arms. Now that they are here, I believe this helps the Dodgers if they play in October. Despite being predominantly left-handed on offense, the Hill trade really helps the Dodgers rotation, especially with his eminence Sir Clayton on his way back.

It is now a sprint and the Dodgers are rolling. 4 games up on the Giants with 25 to play. Los Angeles and San Francisco play 6 games against one another including the final three in city by the bay.

I still can’t believe the Dodgers are in this spot. I still don’t believe this team is more talented than the teams we had from 2013-2015 but this team may be better than all those clubs. They have that IT factor that plays in October. As for the Giants, they are just scuffling to be relevant in October.

Dodgers lose leverage in trade deadline deals……

 

The Los Angeles Dodgers trade deadline moves may in fact help them get into the post-season as a wildcard or possibly a division winner. But, I believe they lost more than they gained in parting with three power arms from their system.

By picking up Rich Hill and Josh Reddick along with a couple of other relief pitchers (Josh Fields and Jesse Chavez)  the Dodgers slightly improved their now, but lost valuable pieces that could be used as trade bait this winter.

With Clayton Kershaw on the shelf for who knows how long, the Dodgers went for it on Monday. The problem is this team was not worthy of such an aggressive play. Their recent spate of solid performance, is far from a World Series contender. Their record and their proximity to the Giants in the standings is fools gold. The Dodgers were better equipped for a deep post-season run in 2013-2015. If these moves were made then, fine. Those teams were close.  But this year they have way too many question marks and inconsistencies. The outfield is a convoluted mess. Puig has been jettisoned. Ethier is injured. Joc is thrilling but one-dimensional. AGone is aging, Utley is old and Grandal hits home runs, but can’t block a ball in the dirt with the winning run at third and two outs in a tie game in the 8th. This team has way too many holes to be mentioned in the same breath as the Cubs, Nats and even the Giants.

The Chicago Cubs are far and away the best team in the National League. They not only have the best line-up, but they made three trades in the last three weeks that solidified what was already a better than average bullpen. Chicago has Aroldis Chapman closing, they added lefty Mike Montgomery as a specialist southpaw along with Travis Wood. They already had Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon and now they add side-armer Joe Smith. The Cubs got much better.

Throw in the Washington Nationals adding Mark Melancon and you have two teams who I believe are better equipped to winning the pennant than the Dodgers. The Giants even improved themselves by adding left-handed specialist Will Smith and lefty starter Matt Moore.

The Dodgers were unwilling to trade their “best” prospects and for that I applaud them. But, Grant Holmes, Frankie Montas and Jharel Cotton were highly regarded power arms. The Dodgers traded them for a two-month rental of an aging outfielder and a left-handed pitcher, who is good, but hasn’t proven to be consistent over time and  is currently on the disabled list with a recurring blister problem.

It’s obvious the Dodgers couldn’t get Chris Sale or Chris Archer without giving up Julio Urias or Jose De Leon. I am glad the Dodgers didn’t part with either of them. But, I would have preferred the Dodgers wait this out, hope Kershaw comes back and see if the last three weeks of pitching magic can continue without trading Holmes, Montas and Cotton.

I supported the notion that the accumulation of prospects would make it possible for a run at Jose Fernandez in the off-season. Including all three of these prospects for Fernandez and including De Leon might have gotten the Dodgers the big prize. Now, any dream scenario about getting Fernandez is gone without depleting the entire farm.

I don’t disagree with trying to improve this team right now. But, losing three power arms for a couple rentals on a team that is not of championship quality made no sense. Especially when accumulating assets and flipping them for Jose Fernandez this winter made more sense.

As always Bleeding Dodger Blue….

Dodgers: Just when I was out they pull me back in

From the outset I haven’t really thought much of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ever since their despicable December in which the front office thought the status quo for the bullpen was acceptable I have not had much faith in the 2016 version of our beloved Boys in Blue.

With a keen eye toward the future I have enjoyed the season knowing the Dodgers were not in the same class as the San Francisco Giants and that AT BEST the Dodgers might garner a wild card berth.

But here I sit on July 22nd and something peculiar is happening. The Dodgers are playing much better than the sum of their parts and the Giants are going through a July Swoon, delaying the inevitable by one month.

With no Kershaw and a line-up that mirrors the days of Danny Heep and Tracy Woodson, the Dodgers are 11 games above .500 and sit at 53-42 playing fantastic baseball at The Ravine. Even without Kershaw the Dodgers starting rotation has been serviceable over the last few weeks. Justin Turner is on a roll and my man Corey Seager is showing why the Dodger faithful may have found their version of a Posey in San Francisco or a Jeter in New York. No, I am not talking about MVP’s and Championships yet, I am talking about a true “face of the franchise.”

The bullpen, which has been the bane of the Dodgers organization since 2013 has performed exceptionally well since the beginning of May. I can’t believe how well they have pitched. I am shocked, stunned, flummoxed etc…..I still don’t believe they can keep this up but so far so good.

The Giants appeared to be on the verge of running away with the division and were going to give the Cubs a run for the best record in the National League. But, suddenly the Giants rotation looks a little thin. Jeff Samardjiza has morphed into the guy that flirted with a near 6.00 ERA in Chicago last year. Peavy is old and inconsistent and Matt Cain’s best days are behind him. That leaves Madison Bumgarner who is a stud and the mercurial Johnny Cueto who started the season 13-1 but I can feel a second-half meltdown on the horizon. If this sounds delicious if you are a Dodger fan, wait until we go over their bullpen. The middle relief has been inconsistent over the last six weeks, showing a penchant for giving up the crooked number and with Santiago Casilla seemingly wanting to give the closer job away, the Giants have some real issues at the back-end of their pen.

The Giants every day starting line-up has been problematic as well. Their spiritual leader Hunter Pence has been out nearly two months with a torn hamstring and is a few weeks away from being back in a major league uniform. Free-agent signee Denard Span has not had a good year and perennial super-star Buster Posey is having a down year for him, take it from someone who has him on their fantasy baseball squad. The concussion symptoms of Joe Panik have kept him out for several weeks. If not for the Brandon’s, Belt and Crawford, the Giants would be in serious trouble.

I type this with the Dodgers have just beaten the Nationals 6-3 and having taken two-of-three from the Nats on the road to wrap up a rare successful road-trip. The Giants have lost 5-in-a-row and look like they are taking on water. The Dodgers sit only 4 games out of first in the National League West. Three weeks ago they were 8 back and I thought the Giants could have started counting down their magic number by August, not so fast.

The injury to Kershaw throws a wrench into the Dodgers division title hopes, but could this be the year where I expect NOTHING from my beloved Boys in Blue and they muster the guts and guile to give us something to remember ? Hmmmm, can’t wait to find out.

Trusting Friedman is not the easiest thing to do

There is a lot of uneasiness in Dodger-land these days as the Boys in Blue await the decision of free agent pitcher Zack Greinke. The two teams vying for his services are rivals; the Dodgers and Giants. The longer this thing drags on you have to think the worse it could be for the Dodgers.

Greinke is being courted hard by San Francisco. Ken Rosenthal reported on the MLB Network today that Buster Posey and Bruce Bochy met for the 3.5 hours with Greinke last week. No one is talking about the offers Greinke has fielded but several reports have the Giants offer as “aggressive.”

All while this takes place the Dodgers have been announcing the hiring of new manager Dave Roberts and hopefully negotiating hard to keep Greinke in Dodger Blue. But, none of us know since there is radio silence.

Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman has not had the easiest or most successful first year as the leader of the franchise. On one hand he did what almost every Dodger fan wanted him to do and that was keep the superb young talent in the Dodger system. Those of us who are not members or our lunatic fringe fan base did not want to see the kids traded for a quick fix.

While he was getting skewered nationally for not entering the Cole Hamels or David Price sweepstakes at the trade deadline, I was actually encouraged by his reticence not to trade the kids for  a rotation addition that wasn’t a pressing need at the time. It turned out Mat Latos was a disaster and Alex Wood was average and the lack of depth in the rotation certainly hurt, but wasn’t the primary reason the Dodgers were sent packing in the first round of the playoffs. Make no mistake, the Dodgers lost in the playoffs because they couldn’t generate runs. They couldn’t play small ball and that should change with their new field manager.

Now as we approach the Winter Meetings in Nashville the task of strengthening this Dodger team is more difficult and a lot more treacherous than many might think for Friedman. First, if he loses Greinke to the Giants. God help him. In my opinion it would completely shift the balance of power in the National League West. Greinke is the lynch pin for the Dodgers, which should scare the hell out of everyone right now because with the Dodgers resources, if he hasn’t signed already with Los Angeles then the deeply analytical and thoughtful Greinke could possibly be thinking this isn’t the place for him (pure nervous conjecture on my part.) If Los Angeles isn’t the place for him than San Francisco most assuredly will be……..disaster.

When Friedman was brought in to run the organization and Farham Zaidi was brought in as the General Manager it was believed these young statistical geniuses would finally have some dollars to play with as they built a dynasty with their unique vision for Los Angeles. This may be true, but I also believe owner Mark Walter and the Guggenheim Group also told them to get the finances in order. Guggenheim needed to bring credibility back to the franchise while they negotiated their record TV deal in 2012. They did that. Now it’s time to quit paying people NOT to play for the team. So, who better to do it then two small market guys in Friedman and Zaidi who were use to pinching pennies.

The problem is the Dodgers have been too busy saying “no” to their peers in other front offices around the league and eventually they will have to start saying “yes.” It may be time to start trading some prospects to bring back some proven talent that can get this team over the hump. It may be time to make De Leon or Holmes available in an Aroldis Chapman trade. It may be time to look at trading the mercurial Yasiel Puig if he can net a Shelby Miller or Carlos Carrasco. It may be time to completely eat the salaries of Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier as they are both horribly overpaid and are clogging up the outfield. Certainly a line can be drawn of players the Dodgers will not and should not trade. But, the Dodgers need to start exploring ways of getting better that doesn’t involve the Jim Johnson patch-work deals we saw this year.

As you see it’s a difficult proposition for Friedman. He was handed the keys and he had a C-minus type of season. His two worst mistakes were the Brett Anderson and Brandon McCarthy signings, after Anderson accepted his option, those two deals will cost the Dodgers 76 million dollars. 76 million dollars for 4th and 5th starters AT BEST. Awful deals. The Dodgers were an imperfect assemblage of talent and its Friedman’s job to make the pieces fit, all while trimming long-term dead money but also investing in players that can serve the franchise into the future, but not too far into the future where they hamstring the team. Not easy.

It is unfair to bury Friedman after one year of questionable decisions. He didn’t adequately address the bullpen last year and it was a weakness once again. This year he can right-the-wrong by wrestling Chapman away from the Reds for prospects and signing the flavor of the month Darren O’Day as a free agent. If the Dodgers lose Greinke, they may HAVE to make those moves, shortening the game and giving them a lights out 7th, 8th and 9th inning option.

Lastly, if the Dodgers keep Greinke it will be in the neighborhood of 6 years and 210 million dollars with another OUT-clause. That is roughly 65-70 million dollars for two pitchers (Kershaw and Greinke) that couldn’t get you out of the first round the past two years. That is exactly why the Dodgers will need to get another quality starter, not knowing the health of Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy for next season. Whether it is Jeff Samardjzia, Mike Leake, John Lackey or a trade for a Carrasco, Shelby Miller or Chris Sale. The Dodgers will need to add to the back-end of their rotation.

When I look at the Dodgers I see way too many question marks. Do they sign Greinke ? If they don’t who do they sign ? If they do, who do they sign ? How do they rectify the log-jam in the outfield ? Is the real Joc Pederson the guy we saw before the All-Star break or after ? What do they do at second base ? What arms and how many arms do they bring in to solidify and finally strengthen a bullpen that has been an albatross for years ? Does their philosophy change under Dave Roberts ?

Three straight division titles, yet we all feel so unfulfilled.

Sleep well Andrew Friedman, you are going to need it

 

Giants Band-Wagon Whine Reaches New Heights

The Giants came to the Ravine like a 10 year-old kid getting ready for his first trip to Disneyland. They are leaving after spending three days in a hotel puking their guts out over the porcelain cylinder while their brothers and sisters enjoyed the rides…..

The San Francisco Giants trip to Dodger Stadium did not go as planned. They came in Monday night only 3.5 games back of the Dodgers in the West with visions of creeping closer to Los Angeles. Instead the Giants leave the Ravine 6.5 games back and seven games back in the loss column. Barring a Dodger collapse the Giants will continue their rite of passage by not making the playoffs in an odd year.

For the second straight night Bruce Bochy was ejected from the game as he clearly went on full tilt after another close call from crew chief Mike Winters didn’t go his way. On Tuesday night it was a suspect strike call to Alejandro De Aza in a critical spot. Then on Wednesday Winters rung up Brandon Belt in the eighth inning of the series finale on a check swing. Replays showed Belt clearly did not swing. The vitriol is understandable considering how the beat-up Giants have under-performed in their biggest series of the year. Giants fans went on full gasket-blowing mode after the Winters check-swing call.

It is so unbecoming of a champion to whine when things don’t go their way. Can’t they just admit they are being beaten ? I never have a problem tipping my hat to the champs when they were waxing the Dodgers earlier this season. Why is it so hard for Giants fans to do the same ? I think they do take the lead from their broadcasting crew which constantly belittles and dis-respects the Dodgers and their fans. I don’t blame them. That is their schtick. It’s what they do. They could care less what a Dodger fan thinks of their broadcast. They are appealing to Giants fans. But, those subtle comments tend to pollute the waters. So, when their beloved Giants are beaten, especially by the Dodgers, well it couldn’t be that the Dodgers are beating them. It HAS to be that Mike Winters is screwing them, or injuries have depleted them or this, that and the other. I find the long-time Giants fans have a better grasp on the functionality of baseball. Lifers get the fact that there is an ebb and flow to the game that occasionally comes to a head sometimes. The game doesn’t always go your way. Yeah, sometimes you do get hosed. You know what you do, you play through it. The Giants actually do a great job playing through it. Their Johnny-Come-Lately band-wagon fans don’t see it that way. The new fan acts like that 10 year-old kid who is growing up cheering for the Giants and has no clue that they went 56 years with no rings. The lifer understands that sometimes it’s not your year. This is directed to those new fans who are acting like 10 year-olds.

You Got Beat.

http://www.truebluela.com/2015/9/2/9253449/giants-broadcasters-pulling-a-bumgarner

It’s a tired act. You are the champs. Act like it. If you have injuries, get better depth so it doesn’t sting as much. Tip your cap to your rival. We’ve been doing it for the last 27 years.

 

Utley Deal is Dodgers Version of Wag the Dog

 

Can Chase Utley help the Dodgers ? Sure he can. Hell, he may even help the Dodgers win the division and maybe even a playoff series. But on the day the Dodgers were just swept in the mini two-game set against the worst team in the American League the acquisition feels like merely a distraction device.

The Dodgers were completely and emphatically exposed in a 20 hour period against the Oakland Athletics. This is not meant to denigrate the A’s and their tremendous fan base but there is no way the 307 million dollar Dodgers should lose both games to the Athletics. The A’s GM tanked the season when he traded this year’s most likely AL MVP in Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays, but I digress.

Today the Dodgers traded a couple of mid-level minor leaguers for Chase Utley. While Utley was once one of the best players in the game, now he is purely a rental. A rental for the sole purpose of keeping him away from the San Francisco Giants. While the Dodgers second base position is in flux with the hamstring injury to Howie Kendrick the Giants are also facing a second sack dilemma. Second year stand-out Joe Panik is dealing with some back issues and his availability for the rest of the season is highly in doubt. The Giants and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were lusting after Utley to give them a jolt down the stretch. But, the Dodgers deep farm system won out and the Phillies took the Dodgers offer.

On the surface the name of Utley gives Dodger fans visions of grandeur but let’s be brutally honest. What Utley brings is not a remedy for what ails this team. The Dodgers “dumpster-fire” bullpen is an embarrassment. Since mid-May the Dodgers pen has an ERA over 5. Since August 1st the bullpen ERA is over 7.

In the spirit of full transparency I liked the moves two weeks ago in bringing in Jim Johnson and Luis Avilan. There is no way around the unmitigated disaster those moves have been. They have made a bad bullpen even worse. But this all could have been avoided if Friedman wasn’t so dead set on doing a bullpen on the cheap back in December. While having unlimited funds, he decided to not offer contracts to Pat Neshek, Luke Gregerson, Sergio Romo as complimentary pieces and Andrew Miller as the lynch pin bridging middle relief to Kenley Jansen…….dumbfounding. While many in the lunatic fringe of the Dodger fan base are calling for Don Mattingly’s head, they fail to place blame where it truly belongs. Andrew Friedman’s finger prints are all over this team, including the bullpen. He is not even a full season into his tenure as President of Baseball Operations, but if Friedman were a character on Game of Thrones he would have been sent over the wall of Castle Black by now so the White Walkers could have at him. For all of Friedman’s positives and there have been good moves. His negligence when it comes to the bullpen is inexcusable.

Friedman fleeced the Padres in the Kemp for Grandal deal. Friedman  parlayed Dee Gordon and Andrew Heaney into Howie Kendrick, Kiki Hernandez and the Dodgers catcher of the future in Austin Barnes. But his handling of the pitching staff is what will hang around his neck if and when the Dodgers flame out.

Friedman has littered the Dodgers pen with washed up infielders who were converted to pitchers (Pedro Baez, Chris Hatcher) or thumbers (JP Howell) who must put a piece of straw through the eye of a needle to get hitters out. When you throw in Yimi (I have one decent pitch) Garcia and the signings of the Brett Anderson and Brandon McCarthy, it’s just one big dumpster fire when looking at the bullpen and the back-end of the rotation.

No wonder Clayton Kershaw is chucking baseball’s into his own dugout. He is hoping one of the errant pieces of raw-hide clips a mate and forces Friedman to bring up Jennie Finch to man the bullpen. The bullpen is a dumpster fire but it is only one of the many things that ails this club. They only score when they hit home runs. While the novice baseball fan will say, “gee, that’s great, I love home runs.” Well, uh yeah., that’s not how championships are won. You win titles by playing flawless situational baseball. When there is runner at second and no one out, move him to third. When there is runner at third and one out, get that runner home. I don’t care how you do it, but do it. This team is woefully deficient in these essentials to winning baseball. The frustrating thing is this team gets on base ! They lead the National League in on base percentage and walks. They know how to get on base. They don’t know how to generate runs. Is this a Mark McGwire issue ? Well, he didn’t seem to have a problem communicating situational baseball to the Cardinals a few years ago when they were impeccable at run generation.

I believe this an entitled mentality that permeates this Dodger team. They are all getting paid and they want theirs. I have only seen a handful of guys on this club consistently play the game the right way and take a good approach to the plate with runners on base. Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins are two of them. Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig sometimes appear they have never been told they need to shorten their swing or have an approach with two-strikes. It’s mind numbingly frustrating watching the waste that is the 2015 Dodgers.

So, as the lunatic fringe celebrates a player in Chase Utley that will be riding the pine in 10 days when Kendrick returns, never mind what’s behind the curtain. Don’t worry about it either, Andrew Friedman doesn’t want you looking back there any way. Just keep focusing on the glitz of the Dodgers, Hollywood and the deep pockets, all while San Francisco sticks it to us again circa 1997. You remember 1997 don’t you ? Brian Johnson walk-off. Bases loaded and no one out against Rod Beck and Eddie Murray hitting into a 4-2-3 double play ? The Barry Bonds pirouette. Never mind the lack of a bullpen and fundamental play. Who needs it !

I have waited 27 years. What’s another 365 days to drink the champagne

Dodger fan urgency stems from SF Giants’ success….

 

My increasingly negative attitude about my first place Dodgers has me doing some self-evaluation on a weekly basis. Why am I so frustrated with a team that has one of the best records in baseball, and is 4 games clear of the rival Giants in the NL West ?

It’s the Giants. It’s those dastardly San Francisco Giants. Yeah, I know they just lost their seventh in a row tonight. Big deal. Their fan base can dry their tears with the same handkerchief they use to buff their three World Series trophies. They have flipped the script on the rivalry and now there is a sense of urgency for the free-spending Dodgers to win pennants and World Series. I certainly want the front office to be patient with the kids and not force quick fixes, but the interminable off-season of having the Giants continually win World Series titles while the Dodgers spit up moth-balls in October has cast a pall over this rivalry for me.

It’s probably my fault, but deep down I have always judged the Dodgers by how they are doing against the Hated Ones. So, even as Jack Clark was taking seven weeks to round the bases in Game 6 of the 1985 NLCS to eliminate the Dodgers, this 14 year-old could take solace in the fact that the San Francisco “You Gotta Love These Kids” Giants were losing 100 games. Things just weren’t that bad. Then, when Jose Oquendo gutted the Giants in 87′ and then Gibby and Hershiser led the Dodgers to an improbable title in 88′ I was in heaven. That made two titles and 5 NL Pennants in my 17 years on this planet,  while the Giants had done diddly-squat.

Now, the tables have not only turned but there is pressure being applied. Since 1988 the Giants have 3 World Series titles and 5 NL Pennants. Those three titles have come in the last five years making the off-seasons misery. Dodger fans like myself have always believed we were the better franchise with the better organization, but I can’t argue that right now. The words simply won’t form. The terminology to make those arguments are not in my lexicon. The Giants have scoreboard. They have put-up, therefore making me shut-up. And please Dodger fans, don’t come at me with Division titles. Division titles are like getting a ticket into the dance with the pretty girls. Just because you are at the dance doesn’t mean the girls will bat their eyes at you.

So, forgive me for my negativity. I’m sorry. I simply have been watching the Giants add hardware while the Dodgers throw 270 million dollars at a team that has only two serviceable starting pitchers, spent 48 million dollars on a pitcher that has spent much of his career injured, has employed a bullpen filled with washed up infielders that throw hard and an offense that is the worst in the league at manufacturing runs, a skill that is not just needed but required in October. Forgive me if leading the NL West doesn’t have me in a lather……

Dodgers have me in a quandry

 

On one hand this organization is making all the right moves in player development. Then they fail to adequately address their bullpen.

On one hand this team is hitting home runs at a record pace for a Chavez Ravine squad, and then they show they can’t generate a run to save their lives.

On one hand (we have numerous hands; stay with me here) the Dodgers are trouncing terrible baseball teams and playing at a near .750 clip against bad teams, and then they go 8-20 against teams over .500 including 3-9 against the rival Giants.

I just don’t get this club.

With today’s San Francisco Giants loss and sweep at the hands of the Miami Marlins the Dodgers have a three game lead in the National League West. It feels incomprehensible that the Dodgers could have a division lead while getting waxed by the Giants this year, but that is par for the course with this odd version of the Dodgers this year.

The loyalists amongst us continue to view Dodgers baseball as the glass that is half full. They argue, the team is in first place, the Dodgers are playing great at home, they are winning the games they are supposed to win. While this line of thinking is nice and dandy it tells an incomplete story. It tells a story with a familiar refrain and I know it ends ugly.

The things that championship teams MUST DO the Dodgers do not do well. First, they do not generate runs using small ball. This is not conjecture this is a real number. The Dodgers produce the highest percentage of their runs via the home run. They produce fewest amount of runs with the base hit, the walk, the sacrifice fly, the situational ground out etc……This is a precursor of post-season doom. Teams that can’t generate runs with small-ball do not win in October. I have grown tired arguing this fact with certifiable novices on social media. They don’t get it, and all the haranguing in the world will never convince these people that they are out of their scope. In the post-season when you are facing teams ABOVE .500 you can not rely on the long-ball to win games. The pitching is better, the mistakes on the mound are less frequent and as a hitter you must be able to generate runs by working counts and having productive at-bats.

The misnomer here is that the Dodgers have the best on-base percentage of any team in the National League. That statistic would tell you the Dodgers are good at producing runs with productive outs. That is not the case. They don’t score bushels of runs with stolen bases, hit-and-runs, stolen bases or productive outs. They don’t need to lead the league in small ball, but they at least need to be proficient at it. So far, it’s a gaping hole in their game. They need to change that for October success.

Second, the Dodgers bullpen is a sieve. They aren’t the worst in the league but they are closer to the #BoxOfPain instead of the 1990 Cincinnati Reds “Nasty Boys.” General Manager Andrew Friedman believed three washed up infielders could be anchors to the bullpen. Chris Hatcher throws 96 mph but his ball is straight and he gets lit up. Pedro Baez throws 98 but has yet to develop a serviceable breaking ball. Joel Peralta has been on the shelf for much of the year but his latest returns have not been encouraging. JP Howell has been effective but you better not push him past three or four batters because hitters will get a read. Yimi Garcia burst upon the scene like gang-busters but then lost his release point and started serving up gopher balls. You can’t really rely on him at this point. Surprisingly Juan Nicasio has been consistently good this year and Adam Liberatore gives the Dodgers a reliable left-handed reliever with a WHIP below 1.00.

I am not convinced the Dodgers pen has the depth to venture deep into the post-season. It was the primary reason why I was huge proponent of the Dodgers signing Andrew Miller in the off-season, but I digress.

Picture this, Game 5 of the NLCS, series is tied at 2-2. Dodger starter has a high pitch count and is in trouble in the 6th inning in a tie game with runners on base. What pitcher in the Dodgers bullpen, other than the closer Kenley Jansen, would you trust to save the day ? I don’t trust anyone in that bullpen.

As hard as this is to state, the San Francisco Giants and Bruce Bochy has had three or four arms that he had total and complete belief in to get out of that type of jam. The Dodgers just don’t have that. It is another intangible the Dodgers need, yet don’t have if they are to win their first pennant in 27 years.

Dodger fans are not thrilled with me. They say I am too negative, not enough rah-rah and am not focusing on the good things they are doing. Sorry but not sorry for my negativity. Winning the National League West is not my goal. I am trying to project a team that can A) beat the Cardinals. B) Win a pennant. C) Win a World Series.

This club is good, but I fear good won’t cut it.

Heaving Orange and Black

 

The apocalypse is here. The unthinkable has happened. The San Francisco Giants have won their third World Championship in five seasons stamping their place in baseball lore as a dynasty with one of the greatest runs in professional sports.

The taste for those of us that bleed Dodger Blue is beyond bitter. In fact you can make the argument that this title for the Hated Ones is the worst of all. The Giants organization, which was seen as a playful nuisance by most Dodgers fans until 2010, have now put a firm grasp on their greatness over the last five years. All while the Dodgers languish in mediocrity with over-paid players that don’t perform when it matters the most.

The Giants are a dynasty. The Dodgers are under-achievers. The Giants play the game the right way. The Dodgers play a game that disgusts me. The Giants pay attention to detail. The Dodgers think big names in big lights will breed a winner. The Giants like getting their hands and uniforms dirty. The Dodgers refuse to slide out of fear of a high cleaning bill.

If not for my love of the Dodgers that was bred early in my life, there would be NOTHING to like about this team. They are the anti-thesis of the Giants. The Dodgers are un-clutch, cower under the pressure and play their worst and most tentative on the biggest of stages. The Giants rise to the occasion when the pressure is greatest.

Being a Dodger-loving Northern Californian is a difficult endeavor. My mouth has been passing checks for the past 20 years that are now being cashed en masse. I can’t really blame  their taunts. I laid it on thick for all those years they were chasing the dream. Now that the script has flipped,  the endless harangue from a group that is drunk in victory, is almost too much. I know they are there. Enjoy the fruits, I will not be a party to it. Let them celebrate amongst themselves. I don’t want to hear it, see it, think about it or be near it. It disgusts me on the deepest of levels.

4 pennants and 3 World Series championships while the Dodgers wallow. It’s almost too much to take