Well I had hoped to make it through my 4 day 4th of July vacation without having to blog about the debacle the Dodgers have turned their 2011 season into, but today’s news just had to be discussed. On a positive note Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw were both deservedly named to the National League All-Star team on Sunday. Dodger fans stepped up and voted Kemp into the starting lineup, a spot that he certainly has earned.
Kershaw was named to the squad by a combination of player votes and manager picks, but I’m not entirely sure how that combination works. My guess it the manager holds a bit more clout than the player votes, as Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong found himself on the NL squad thanks to his manager Bruce Bochy. Vogelsong is a great story, but whether or not he is an All-Star is debatable.
He’s actually a former Giant that the Dodgers would have benefitted by signing, instead they seem more content with the burnt out veterans, aka Jason Schmidt, or the supposedly “clutch” veterans, aka Juan Uribe. I understand Dodgers GM Ned Colletti is a former member of the Giants front office and has a lot of experience with their current and former players, but seriously enough of the crappy former Giants donning Dodger blue.
Today’s news that the young exciting Dodgers shortstop of the future, Dee Gordon, was sent down to AAA in favor of former Giant Eugenio Velez is maddening from a fans perspective. Velez was supposed to be a speedster infielder who would get on base and wreak havoc with his speed. Yet he never materialized into an everyday MLB player instead filling the role of utility player or better yet a AAAA guy. Not quite good enough to be an MLB regular, but too good for AAA.
Gordon on the other hand is the Dodgers speedster infielder and part of the future of the organization. Even though he went through a tough slump this past couple of weeks, something to be completley expected from a rookie getting his first tast of MLB experience, he brought an excitement to the lineup every time out. Whether it’s getting on base and stealing, second, third and home in the same inning, or dazzling Dodger fans with his defense, Gordon provided a spark, something positive in an otherwise miserable season.
Yet with the return of Rafael Furcal there somehow isn’t room in the Dodgers lineup for Gordon to play, although the argument that Gordon brings more to the club right now than Furcal does is valid. So once again the Dodgers do what the Dodgers do best, they stunt the development of their future young players in favor of a journeyman who is not part of the clubs future, if Velez is part of the Dodgers future than they are in big trouble.
As the Dodgers sit 11 games under .500 and 11 games behind the division leaders, it’s time to take a look in the mirror and realize this is who they are as a team and try to salvage the 2011 season the only possible way they can. That is getting Dee Gordon, Jerry Sands and Trayvon Robinson in the everyday lineup and get them as much experience as possible so the 2012 Dodgers can benefit from the 2011 squads ineptitude. Young players are going to have their ups and downs when they get thier first extended big league experience, it’s a normal process. Why not have your future learning on the job, rather than playing everyday at AAA which they’ve already demonstrated they are too go for.
Rather than have the youngsters experience their growing pains next year why not stick them in the lineup this year? This is a lost season, Frank McCourt, and the lousy play by the free agents Ned Colletti signed in the off-season, most noteably Juan Uribe, Ted Lilly and Marcus Thames, saw to that. Eugenio Velez is going to do nothing for the Dodgers but take up a spot on the bench.
The only reasoning I can see is that the Dodgers are hoping Furcal actually manages to stay healthy for more than 2 weeks, something he hasn’t done yet this season, he produces then they are able to ship him off to a contender for prospects. Considering the Dodgers have spent less on the the MLB draft than any other team in MLB under Mr. McCourt, adding prospects to a depleted farm system isn’t the worst idea out there. It’s speaks to just how good Logan White is at his job that the Dodgers have the solid prospects they do, considering he drafts with his hands tied, let alone not being able to sign International free-agents due to the Dodgers financial crisis.
Aaron Miles has been a pleasant surprise this year, he would also be a nice addition for a contender looking for a versatile infielder who has had a resurgent year at the plate in 2011. Same can be said for Jamey Carroll. James Loney has to provide some value as a solid defensive firstbaseman who has hit well the last 6 weeks. Considering how well he has hit in Phoenix, maybe the Dodgers could unload him to the Diamondbacks. He’d certainly be an upgrade over Juan Miranda and Xavier Nady, the current Diamondbacks first base platoon.
Hiroki Kuroda would certainly provide a nice #2 or 3 starter for a contender and could bring back some nice pieces in return, and you would have to think he’d gladly waive his no-trade clause to have a chance to pitch in the playoffs. I don’t see anyone touching either Ted Lilly or Matt Guerrier, due to the hefty contracts they signed this off-season, and frankly I hope the Dodgers don’t move any of their young bullpen pieces, particularly, Blake Hawksworth, Kenley Jansen, Javy Guerra or Scott Elbert.
Regardless the Dodgers have to look in the mirror, realize that 2011 is a lost season in so many ways, from the top all the way down to the last guy on the bench who is now Eugenio Velez. They have an opportunity to salvage something from this historic train-wreck of a season by getting their young players playing time now, they will be so much better off in 2012 by doing so. And I would imagine Dodger fans would come to the park to see the excitement brought by the youngsters like Dee Gordon, I know I wouldn’t step foot in Chavez Ravine with the prospects of watching Eugenio Velez bat lead-off for the Dodgers.
So please, Ned for once, do the right thing, move the assets you have that will potentially bring you something in return, stop running out the underachieving free-agent veterans like Marcus Thames and let’s get the young kids in the lineup. Afterall what do you have to lose, except for more games by playing the people who have gotten you in the position you’re currently in.