Will the Dodgers still be in contention on July 31? That is the million dollar question, but the way they have been playing it’s not looking good right now. The Dodgers currently sit at 48-44, second place in the NL West, and now three games behind the first place Giants. Each day is the same thing. Each day the team falls further and further out of contention. Each day the team keeps calling around to inquire about trades, and each day the rumors grow even more absurd. Breaking news! The Dodgers are scouting Babe Ruth. This just in, the Dodgers are reportedly interested in bringing back Ron Cey out of retirement. This just in, the Dodgers have been scouting the entire Philly team, including the Phillie fanatic. According to sources the Dodgers are in on Mike Trout, Ty Cobb, and Christy Mathewson. Of course I am joking here, but you get the point.
The rumors are getting crazier and crazier. Now the Dodgers are in on Chase Headley, Jimmy Rollins, Aramis Ramirez, and even the much maligned Shane Victorino. Yuck. Anyways we know the Dodgers are looking to improve the team, but you know the best way to improve the team right now? Start cutting players, and replace them with minor leaguers who can’t do any worse. You think Elian Herrera would be any worse than Uribe? Do you think Josh Field’s could do any worse than James Loney. The answer is no. The Dodgers might as well call up Herrera and Josh Fields and let them play the corners until a trade can be made.
We already know guys like Juan Uribe, James Loney, Adam Kennedy, and Juan Rivera suck. They have always sucked, and will continue to suck ( I still think Rivera is somewhat decent, but I threw him in anyways). It’s not the player’s fault for sucking per say. I mean, Kennedy is trying. Rivera is trying. I’m not saying it’s managements fault entirely, but things are very bleak right now, and something has to change.
I just don’t see management trying to improve the team. Sure they talk a good talk, but can they walk the walk? Where is the action? I’m not talking about trades specifically, I am talking about cutting guys off the team that are dead weight. That is something the Dodgers have shown that they absolutely will not do. As a matter of fact they refuse to do it, they pride themselves on it (see Garret Anderson in 2010, on second thought, don’t). I’m not talking about sending guys down to the minors, I am talking about actually cutting a player from the organization when it is obvious it is the best thing for the team, and they just won’t do it. The only player the Dodger’s have cut this year was Mike MacDougal, and despite him being utterly dreadful, they still hemmed and hawed over it. (Who actually hems and haws over cutting Dougie?)
The Dodgers have been really bad over the last two months. Combine the injuries with the terrible offense and atrocious defense, and the Dodgers are 18-32 over their last 50 games. That is not a typo guys, 18-32, that’s 14 games below .500, which is about where the team was last year at this time. I’m sure you remember. Over their last 25 games, the Dodgers are 6-19. Do you Still think the Dodgers look like a contender?
Mike Petriello of MSTI had this to say about the Dodgers in 2012, in a piece he wrote that seems to just sum up the Dodger’s situation perfectly.
"“the reality increasingly seems to be that the hot start to the season is just not backed up by a roster with the talent needed to compete, not with the worst corner infield situation in baseball, zero production out of shortstop, very little coming from left field, and a starting rotation that may actually need to send the unheralded Stephen Fife to make his major league debut against Roy Halladay tonight. Even if they could fill all of those holes in the next two weeks – and due to the quantity of them, I think it’s pretty clear that they can’t – they’re held back both by a minor league system which doesn’t have the top-end talent other teams desire and a new playoff system which will make the few clubs willing to sell ask for sky-high prices.”"
Mike also goes on to say this…..
"I can’t say I know what the Dodgers will do, but I know what I would do, and that’s try to build for the future right now. I’ve said a few times that my highest priority is not making the playoffs in 2012, it’s trying to create an organization which can be a consistent contender for years to come. That doesn’t always correspond with what the casual fan wants to see, since they they see a team in position to make a playoff run and think that going for it all right now is the only option, but taking an unpopular position is fine with me.That means that simply adding a rental player, never a path I like anyway, should be a “break glass in case of emergency” type of move. Sure, I’d like to add Ryan Dempster, and if the price is right, fine. But the price looks increasingly less likely to be right as more teams seek to add pitching, and with the new CBA rules, the Dodgers couldn’t even collect draft pick compensation should Dempster leave at the end of the season. Dempster’s a nice add, but he alone isn’t going to fix the problems that ail this team, and if you haven’t also figured out a way to fix first base & third base & left field & shortstop, then it barely seems to matter. “"
I completely agree with this assessment. I have to admit, I was one of the ones that was fooled by the Dodger’s hot start. I thought that they could survive as long the generally solid pitching would hold up. Kemp and Ethier kept carrying the team like they were in April and May, and if everyone stayed healthy then they could go out and get a bat come July 31 as long as they were still in contention, and that Juan Uribe would be released by then. Boy was I wrong.
Mike makes a good point that even if they do get Ryan Dempster, he isn’t going to solve the offensive and defensive problems this team has. That doesn’t even cover the problem that Mike points out that Dempster is a free agent next year, and if he leaves we get nothing by way of draft pick compensation. So let me ask you this, how do you feel about trading Zach Lee for two months of Ryan Dempster, and see the team finish 83-79? I tell you this, I wouldn’t like it one bit. I’m not saying the team isn’t in contention still, and can’t turn it around. Of course they still can, and there is plenty of time left. The problem is like many people have pointed out before me, the Dodgers are in contention, but are not looking or playing like a contender or anything close to it. Heck we can’t even beat the lowly Padres.
Do you want more proof of how bad the Dodgers have been playing lately? I’ll present you some more numbers. Let’s start on offense where the Dodgers rank 21st with a .249 batting average, .319 OBP, and .680 OPS. The Dodgers rank 29th in MLB in home runs with only 52. In comparison, Arizona has hit 88, Colorado 104, even the lowly Padres have hit more home runs that the Dodgers have. The Dodgers rank 17th batting with runners in scoring position (.246, .708 OPS).
You know what? On defense the Dodgers are even worse. The Dodgers rank 25th in MLB in team defense. They have committed 66 errors, only five other teams in all of Baseball have made more errors. The other night, the Dodgers made five errors, which is the most errors they have made in a game since 1995. They also rank at the bottom of the league in fielding percentage and defensive efficiency. Needless to say the gloveless wonders at Chavez Ravine aren’t making the routine plays, heck they’re not making any of the plays, and it is costing them games.
The only thing keeping the team afloat is their top ranked pitching staff. The Dodgers rank second in MLB in staff ERA at 3.29. Only the Nationals have a better pitching staff.
So obviously the Dodgers main problems come on offense. The second most concerning issue is the weak defense. The Dodgers have no third baseman, no first baseman, no production from shortstop and left field. How can they win like this? I’m not blaming the Dodgers for not making trades, because that relies on other people. The Dodgers can’t force anyone to make trades with them if they don’t have anything good to offer other than cash. Teams aren’t just going to give us players because as Mike explains in his article, you have to have depth to trade from. Teams want prospects, and the Dodgers are very thin on top tier prospects. Of course the injuries to Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Mark Ellis, and a number of pitchers has hurt the team considerably. However have the injuries hurt more than the zero production they are getting from their infield corners? I don’t think so.
The real problem is that there is no real accountability for the players or management. Some of the players continue to suck, and it seems they are just given an endless pass for all time. Here we are in mid-July, and Juan Uribe, and James Loney not only remain on the team, but continue to be put into the lineup at least twice per week. The Dodgers refuse to cut Uribe despite the fact he is hitting .193 with 26 hits. He has had one hit in the last three weeks. He has one home run and 13 RBI. He also has a 21 million dollar contract.
Here is what really pisses me off. Manager Don Mattingly has openly admitted that he is refusing to cut Uribe, and I am sure that extends to other players who aren’t performing as well. Here is what Mattingly had to say in an article on the Dodger’s main site.
"“Never,” he said in response to giving up on Uribe. “From the standpoint of he’s here, we’ve got to try to keep working and keep trying to get something out of him. I know it hasn’t been pretty, but to give up on a guy, that is just quitting and that’s not in my DNA. I just don’t think that’s right.”"
Never! Get that? That’s what Mattingly said. He will never give up on Uribe. He then continues to wax philosophical by trying to rationalize his poor decision and Uribe’s awfulness.
"As long as he’ll keep working and trying, I don’t think we can give up,” said Mattingly, who said the same thing about first baseman James Loney. “Does that mean he’s going to play a ton? Not necessarily. But that doesn’t mean you give up on him."
Come on Donnie, really man? I understand that as a manager he has to stand by all of his players, but come on, the guy is utterly worthless as a player. He can’t hit period. He will never hit. What is it going to take for the Dodgers to finally just make the choice that needs to be made for the good of the team? Uribe, Loney, and a couple of other punch and Judy type hitters are killing the team. They have to be let go for the health of the team.
What it comes down to is accountability. Players and management must be held accountable when they fail to do their jobs. It seems like Mattingly is just too nice of a guy, and doesn’t like to fire people. Hey Donnie if you don’t want to release Uribe, then I’ll do it. Heck, I’ll do it for free, just tell me when and I’ll have no problem looking Uribe right in the face and say….YOU’RE FIRED! Just like Donald Trump.
It seems like more double talk to me. Management says they are all gung ho about improving the team, and blah blah, then Mattingly refuses to let go of Uribe, and here we are in mid-July still stuck with a third baseman hitting .193. It’s ridiculous. Meanwhile the team is free falling in the standings.
I’m not saying I want to throw in the towel on the season, but like Mike said, it seems kind of pointless to part with our last few decent prospects, when it is looking like the team just has too many holes to fill. I don’t think we should give up, I am saying we need to make changes right now or we are going to be in big trouble, and if we are 7 or 8 games out on July 31, then I don’t think we should be making any trades, unless they are to rebuild the farm system to help make the team competitive for years to come. Would you really want to trade Zach Lee for two months of Dempster only to have the team finish 83-79 anyways?
Players have to be held accountable when they are performing this poorly for this long of time. Other teams hold their players accountable, so why can’t the Dodgers? Heck the Royals just released Jonathan Sanchez because he was so terrible. You can’t hold onto terrible players for too long. This is Baseball. Tough decisions have to be made. There is no crying in Baseball.