Will the Dodgers fix their Punch-less Bench?


The Dodger Bench is useless. They seriously need to rethink how they build their bench each season. The Dodgers have one of the most punch-less benches in the National League, and that weakness is being exposed during the late innings. For many years now, Dodger fans have becomes accustomed to the Blue bench being the resting stop for where washed-up bum veterans go to retire. Of course that wasn’t always the case. The Dodgers used to have great pinch-hitters. Two immediately come to my mind. The great Manny Mota, and current hitting coach, Dave Hansen. Both were terrific off the bench, and each set Dodger pinch-hit records.

Manny Mota Dodger Legend, and current bench coach, set the record for most pinch-hits of all time with 150, which was later broken by mark Sweeny, and Lenny Harris. Mota had a lifetime .297 batting average off the bench, and averaged no less than ten, yes ten, pinch-hits per season. I don’t think the entire Dodger bench will have ten pinch-hits as a unit by the end of the season. Current hitting coach Dave Hansen, was just as good as Mota, in the late innings. Hansen set the record for most pinch-hit home runs during one season, when he hit seven for the Dodgers in 2000. Hansen finished with 138 lifetime pinch-hits, that ranks him sixth all time. Another great Dodger pinch-hitter that comes to mind is Lenny Harris.

As you can see, the Dodgers used to have great benches. Now the Dodger bench is made with defensive versatility in mind, instead of offense. Sure the guys currently on the bench can play multiple positions just fine. As late inning defensive replacements, they are very good. Unfortunately none of them can hit at all. Hairston and Sellers are ok, but generally speaking, the bench is punch-less. Just how bad is the Dodger Bench? I decided to take a look at the stats thus far, and they are not good.

The Dodgers rank fourteenth in pinch-hitting. Just how bad is it? It is pretty bad, tread carefully at this point guys. The Dodger bench is just 4 for 21, for a minuscule .190 batting average, and .499 OPS. They have no home runs, and have driven in just one measly run. They have only one extra-base hit, and have drawn two walks. Only the Pirates and Phillies benches rank lower than the Dodgers. That is a telling stat.

So what can be done to improve the Dodger bench? Is there anyway we can add some kind of pop to a bench that has been without any semblance of power? Two things come to mind. First, they need to cut Adam Kennedy. They need to do it now. Not tomorrow, not next week, not after breakfast, but right now, as I am writing this. Kennedy is atrocious. He has only one hit this season, and of course is Don Mattingly’s preferred go to guy in the late innings for hits. Only one little problem with that….HE CAN’T HIT! To say Kennedy is wasting a roster spot would be an understatement.

So in order to replace Kennedy with some pop, possibly calling up someone like a Josh Fields could help. Fields at one time hit 23 home runs for the White Sox, and showed promise during spring training. Maybe Luis Cruz could help? Or anyone with some pop, Jerry Sands perhaps?

The Dodgers need to do something. The collective bench of Tony Gwynn, Justin Sellers, Jerry Hairston, Adam Kennedy, and Matt Treanor are not getting the job done in the late innings. Maybe Hairston is the exception because he has been pretty good, but that has been when he has started games, not coming off the bench.

The Dodgers just don’t seem to understand just how important the bench is in Baseball, especially in the National League. Every game, you might have to go to the bench for a pinch-hitter, at least once or twice during the late innings, and you need guys who can not only get hits off the bench, but also hit a home run every once in a while. In recent years we have seen the Dodger bench deteriorate into uselessness, as washed up vets, and legendary auto out laden bums, have moved onto the Dodger Bench. The Blue Bench has seen such bums as Billy Ashley, F.P. Santangelo, Garret Anderson, and Juan Castro wasting space.

The bench doesn’t have to be filled with useless veterans who are so far in decline that can’t even swing the bat anymore. Someone should tell the Dodgers that it is ok to have real major league hitters on the bench. I am not asking for superstars or anything. I mean obviously you are not going to have all-star level hitters on a National League Bench. All I am asking for is a couple of guys who are at the very least decent, and able to come off the bench in the late innings and get hits. That’s all. I don’t think I am being unreasonable here. The Dodger Bench is horrendous, and something needs to be done about it.