Six All-Star Break Observations About The Dodgers


Here we are halfway through the season, and it’s been a crazy ride up to this point. Sure, the boys are in first place, and I’m grateful for that – but those long stretches where the offense goes to sleep, or the bullpen suddenly can’t hold a lead, or they lose to quality teams and struggle to beat weak ones make me wary of just how far this team will go in the playoffs.

But that’s all fodder for a different article on a different day. Today we opinionate on the Dodgers after the first half of the season.

1. Andre Ethier is the Dodgers’ Comeback Player of the Year.

As the 2014 season ran its course, Andre slowly disappeared from view. His numbers at the end of the season were miniscule, and after getting picked off at third base in a playoff loss to the Cheatin’ Cardinals, the Dodgers were ready to have Zack Greinke toss Ethier’s bags off the team bus and ship him off to any team that will take him.

Luckily for the Dodgers – and happily for Ethier fans, like me – there were no takers. After the trade of Matt Kemp to San Diego, and Yasiel Puig went down to injury, Ethier got one more shot, and he has not disappointed.

He leads the Dodgers in triples (4), is on a pace to hit 20 homers (he has 10 now), and has a batting line of a very respectable .281/.372/.471.

He definitely does not hurt the Dodgers in the field, and even though I like seeing Scott Van Slyke getting playing time, I would prefer Ethier not be automatically benched against left-handers – as he’s earned his keep.

2. Has Yasiel Puig got Carl Crawford Syndrome?

Molly Knight’s book told some interesting stories about Yasiel Puig and his polarizing antics off the field, which have led to a surge in people calling for his trade. I tend to disagree with trading him for those reasons, but there’s something else that I fear is a liability – he is becoming injury prone. Way too often this season he’s been hurt – the latest being a nasty blister on his hand right before the All-Star break.

3. A couple of weeks ago Vin Scully mentioned Joc Pederson is the best center fielder he has ever seen play the game – and Vinny has seen a lot of center fielders in his day. I haven’t seen as many as ol’ Vinny, but Pederson is absolutely the best I’ve ever seen play – and I’ve only seen half a season’s worth.

I’ve never seen a player who can cover as much ground and make diving, over-the-shoulder, and into-the-wall catches, while crushing tape measure home run bombs on such a consistent basis as this guy.

Watching Young Joc stand tall and represent in the Home Run Derby showed all of us the kid won’t melt under the bright spotlights. He’s going to tear it up when he gets to his first World Series.

4. I like Howie Kendrick as much as the next Dodger fan, but I sure miss Dee Gordon. I guess the stat-heads didn’t think Gordon could repeat his great 2014 season, but I believed in Young Dee. At the halfway point, the team is still struggling to find a lead off hitter and a running game – both badly needed World Series ingredients they traded away with Dee.

5. The Dodgers did Juan Uribe like dirt when they traded him to the Braves. Lasorda’s Lair’s newest writer, Alex Campos, mused in an article that perhaps the Uribe trade was a “courtesy trade”? I don’t need that kind of courtesy from anyone.

Uribe was traded mid-series to the Braves. One night he was a Dodger, and the next night he had to sit in the opposite dugout and face all of those suddenly ex-teammates. How awkward was that for Uribe ? It’s not like he was some scrub who meant nothing to the team. Juan Uribe was a PRESENCE as a leader and teammate and was loved by many fans.

Was Alberto Callaspo such an emergency, immediate need for the World Series push that day?

Why couldn’t the Dodgers see a way to let Uribe play out one last series with his team? Even if we all knew Juan was traded, it would have given folks a chance to see Uribe play a sunset series with his team, and for this city.  After which he would immediately join his new team on the way out of town.

Even the peanut-counters would have loved it, but instead, the Dodgers let a marketing bonanza for a sleepy, midweek series get away – but I suppose the suits saved a few bucks by not buying him a plane ticket.

6. The Dodgers have not proven to anyone that they can beat the Hated Giants or the Cheatin’ Cardinals. Lot’s of folks out there say this means very little, as the team will win enough games to make the playoffs. I agree they should win the division and get into the playoffs, where many believe the regular season is forgotten and past losses mean nothing.

I’m not so sure about all that. If the Dodgers continue to get run over by the Giants and Cards in the second half, and unless manager Don Mattingly channels Walter Alston and Casey Stengel, the Dodgers’ chances will not be very good come the playoffs.

Bonus thought: This one is not specifically tied to this season, but I really miss the old THINK BLUE sign.