Home Opener: The State of the Dodgers

president_reagan_gives_the_state_of_the_union_address_to_congress_1988  dodgerslogo

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I had a few thoughts about the state of the Dodgers going into the home opener against the Giants. This will be partly a regurgitation of what we already know, but also partly a rant.

The Kershawless Pitching Rotation

Without Kershaw, Greinke and Ryu slip from #2/#3 to #1/#2, even though it doesn’t look that way in terms of the days they pitch. Rather, it looks like Ryu has moved into the #1 position, as he is about to start his third game in the sixth game for the Dodgers. But that’s really because Greinke was held back from going to Australia. Now whether he was held back by his calf injury or whether he held himself back and had a phantom injury, I will leave that for you to contemplate.

The rest of the rotation is slowly coming together. Haren looked great last night, so he slips into the #3 position. That leaves us with who can do a credible job at #4 and who can do at least semi-decent at #5 when that need arises. Maholm is slated to be the #4 man at this time, and we’ll get our first look at his abilities or inabilities to fill this role on Saturday against the hated ones. It will be some time before we need a #5 starter. With that extra time, Beckett may be available, but I for one have a nagging feeling that he may not be ready. In that case, we will likely use Fife as an emergency spot starter. Zach Lee would not likely be used until the team needs a #5 starter on a more permanent basis. By then, Billingsley may also be ready.

Bullpen

Well, Brian Wilson pretty much said that he didn’t have enough time in Spring Training to get in all the work he needed. That’s what precipitated him having to move to the DL. He’ll be back, hopefully in fifteen days. In the meantime, we need to find a new set up man for the eighth inning. The answer to that need is not immediately obvious. If it was me making the decision, I would use Paco. He was lights out last year until he got tired late in the season.

Impact of the Australia Trip

This reminds me of last year, when Hanley broke his thumb during the World Baseball Congress. Don’t mess around during Spring Training. It’s called Spring Training for a reason. This is the time to get the team ready for high level, professional, major league baseball.

The Return of Matt Kemp

The four outfielder conundrum returns. Who will be shipped off? Probably SVS, rather than Baxter. Why? (1) Options (2) Baxter is the left hander off the bench. Why does that matter if Crawford or Ethier will be on the bench? Keep Scott Van Slyke on the MLB roster. His bat is the bat we need off the bench. No more Michael Young, no more Sweeney. Get rid of Baxter, he hasn’t done a thing.

Coaching

Somebody is getting into Mattingly’s head and moving the baserunners. Look at the surprise bunt by Puig to move Crawford to third base. Look at Ethier and Hanley stealing bases. I think this is the impact of Wallach as bench coach and it is a great impact. I’d like to see more of it. This will keep the opposing pitchers off balance when we’ve got guys on base. This is the National League, you don’t sit around and wait for home runs.

Yasiel Puig

Puig is here to stay and will continue to be a force both offensively and defensively. Does he still have rough edges? You bet. How many? Well, let’s see there’s (1) baserunning mistakes, (2) doesn’t always hit the cutoff man, (3) missed a sign while batting last night. I’m sure there’s more than that. He is still a work in progress. He needs to take advice from both the coaches and his teammates. He’s getting there, but don’t expect him to be a veteran player by the end of this season. Meanwhile, right now he’s one of the most interesting hitters to watch. The others being Hanley and Matt.

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105 Responses to Home Opener: The State of the Dodgers

  1. crash24now says:

    Before we go off on political rants, let me just tell you that the top picture is from the 1988 State of the Union address. I’m hoping it brings us luck towards winning the World Series again.

  2. 32and53fan says:

    Nice post crash.
    The papers Reagan is holding were the first draft of the Instant Replay rules. 😉

  3. That was a very good article 32/53, The only thing I would disagree with is that I’d rather see Perez as the set-up man because he’s been looking good. Leave Paco right where he is. It’ll be interesting to see which of the outfielders will not start tonight.

    • messagebear says:

      I too would agree with Perez for the set-up man. He also should be more used to pitching to both right and left handed batters, whereas Paco has mostly only pitched to left-handers. That in itself should make a difference.

    • 32and53fan says:

      I did not write this post. Thank crash24now for the nice writeup.

  4. I just noticed that Kemp is not in the lineup. I guess he’s just active and ready to play. I’m going by what I’ve read that he’d be ready to play today.

  5. trublu4ever says:

    Just heard Puig showed up late for BP and Kemp will be starting after all.

  6. Hi Everybody
    I’m ready for this big game.

  7. 32and53fan says:

    Dodgers off to a horrible start. 3 runs in, so far. Error by Kemp. Adrian loses pop up in the sun.

  8. Needless to say……..

  9. trublu4ever says:

    WTF!!!

  10. Big HOLE to climb out of.

  11. kahliforni says:

    Brought my radio to work…just checked the score…no need to turn on the radio.

  12. My buddy Truebluewill from Manhattan N.Y. is at the game.

  13. They better get Ryu out of there. He’s pitching BP.

  14. Just thinking.. The Giants must’ve kept Ross Porter busy at the PA in that first inning.

    • 32and53fan says:

      Ross did a great job today. He kept a lot of his interviews and will bring them to the Dodgers radio station.

  15. Adrian & Andre pecking away.

  16. Well just 6 more to go..

  17. trublu4ever says:

    My man doing his thing 🙂

  18. crash24now says:

    Ouch. That’s gotta hurt.

    Well, look at the bright side. Ethier finally repaid his debt to Tru and me by going yard. Dominguez and League put up zeros in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th. And look at Uribe, sporting a BA of .391

  19. WELL.. We cut that lead in half.

  20. Good job by Dominquez and League.

  21. YES Another great bunt by Gordon

  22. Another steal by Dee.

  23. 3-14 with RISP really hurting.

  24. Great job by the bullpen as usual.

  25. Get rid of the first two innings and it wasn’t a bad game.

  26. Another big game. I would think every game this year will be big since the Dodgers are a favorite to go deep in the postseason. It also adds to the pressure.

  27. crash24now says:

    Geez-es. Second baseman gotta bat second. Kemp did a fine job yesterday batting second, why not today?

    Puig
    Kemp
    Hanley
    Gonzalez
    Van Slyke
    Uribe

    THAT would be a potent top of the lineup.

  28. crash24now says:

    For those of us worrying about Maholm (including me), he couldn’t possibly do worse than giving up eight runs in two innings. Could he?

  29. 32and53fan says:

    On the Dodgers Twitter feed, there is a video clip of Juan Uribe catching a ground ball, then transferring it to his hand behind his legs, before throwing to first base.

    I don’t remember him, nor anybody else do that during a game. Have you seen that play before?

  30. Well at least we’re not 8 runs behind.

  31. trublu4ever says:

    And, just like that, we are tied.

  32. I keep forgetting to mention that to me this Michael Morse is a tough looking umbre.

  33. messagebear says:

    Obviously with the new outfield setup, Andre will never be given the chance to practice batting against lefthanders; consequently, the new norm will be platooning. I long for the days when good hitters were simply playing against whoever was pitching, period. If I was Andre, I’d ask for a trade, and F Mattingly and Ned, and of course in my book may the Guggenheimers always be damned.

  34. trublu4ever says:

    And, Maholm blows up!

  35. Maholm was just about what I expected.

  36. messagebear says:

    Whatever happened to the concept of a long reliever, a guy who could go three or four innings in a game where you’re behind by five runs? Or is the object here to burn out Dominguez and Paco by All Star Game?

  37. It’s getting increasingly difficult to enjoy this game!

  38. Another runner in scoring posiition.

  39. It’s hard to get excited when we have a man in scoring position. Because it seems the odds are he’ll stay there. Like I said a few years ago, Is the runner really in scoring position.

  40. 1(at last) -8 w RISP.

  41. I can’t believe Dee knocked out Bumgarner.

  42. Well, so much for that.

  43. trublu4ever says:

    He was safe!

  44. He looked safe on the replay, to me.

  45. kahliforni says:

    With arguably your best hitter coming up, still down 5 after that first run scores, do you really want to send your CATCHER to make the final out at the plate…review or no review???? New third base coach still in Spring Training mode it would seem.

  46. I would think we get the Giants a little nervious once in a while.

  47. In case anyone cares to know that’s 2-12 w RISP, today.

  48. Greinke is a good guy to have in there trying to avoid the sweep.
    See you in 24.hours.

  49. I just hope we don’t have a Sunday lineup tomorrow.

  50. crash24now says:

    The state of the starting rotation doesn’t look so hot right now.

    Greinke #1 – still looks good, hopefully he can handle the Gnats.
    Ryu #2 – two outa three ain’t bad?
    Haren #3 – looked good in his first start
    Maholm #4 – ugghh. Was supposed to be #6 or #7. Can’t fill the bill at #4.
    ?????? #5 – yikes.

    The cavalry (Kershaw and Billz) cannot arrive soon enough.

  51. Dodger4life says:

    I missed the opening two games against the Giants… I took a drive to Sacramento and was on my way over the Donner Pass as the first game came on. I heard the pre-game ceremonies before my radio reception gave out… Then, I was in the middle of the Nevada desert for game two… I’m back home for today’s contest and looking forward to a Dodger win.

  52. kahliforni says:

    Ghost town here today…just wanted to say Matt Kemp.

  53. crash24now says:

    Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez, baby! Nice win by the Blue today.

  54. I watched the game from my front room where I have a T.V. with a larger screen away from my computer. I was thinking of coming in to comment but things where going so good I was afraid I might jinx them. A tremendous win because 5-3 is a lot better than 4-4 and we’re only a half game back.
    Good to see Kemp looking like his old self. We sure can use him.

  55. JhallWally says:

    Woo-Hoo, win streak!!

    Nice start for Grienke, and the bullpen was awesome..

    Except for Hanley and Matt, our offense didn’t show up…. That better change or we will not be celebrating!!

  56. enchantedbeaver says:

    Have to laugh at folks I read on other blogs that want Matt to earn his way back to the OF and not just be handed his starting position back. Will Kemp slump?, sure, but if people can’t see that Matt is a superior ballplayer when healthy to Crawford, Puig and Andre, and should be in there every day [possible] there’s no hope for them.

    I’ve also considered this opinion for a couple days now, and its my considered opinion that Maholm sucks. He sucks as hard as every other soft tossing lefty that Ned’s ALWAYS had to have on the team, and that list is long – Lurch, Wolf, Lilly, Capuano. And he’ll come up with a decent game just often enough they’ll keep him in the rotation
    with his sub .500 record and ERA over 5.50. I’ll never understand why they have so little faith and give so few chances to guys in the minors that could use the experience and may even surprise versus the blind loyalty they show to someone you know is going to suck 3 times out of 4.

    Well, that’s my rant for today. I’ll check back in later in the week.

    • crash24now says:

      Speaking of Kemp: remember the days when we wished and hoped that we would get a masher that would bat third or fourth and protect Kemp and Ethier to get them good pitches to hit? Well, now have two legitimate mashers – Kemp and Ramirez. When is Mattingly going to recognize this fact and put Kemp in the top four in the batting order?

    • kahliforni says:

      Fans have short memories…they’re fanatical about things, hence the name. But it’s not hard to love Kemp. I think back to the Grandpa Joe days when Grandpa buried Kemp and Ethier behind Luis Gonzales and Juan Pierre…the dawning of our PVL-disgust days. And Kemp is the MVP if Braun eats Wheaties instead of PEDs. Injuries are a bitch. The whole body reacts to a single tweak here or there—in timing, mechanics…on and on. Major shoulder ding, blown hammies, and a busted ankle? I pray this guy has a healthy 2014, not because I’m some geek sitting at home rooting for the Dodgers to win games…but because he deserves it after working his ass off to come back.

      And sorry, Donny, sitting Kemp Opening Day at home, after all his anguished rehab, was a brain-dead decision. To the rescue—Puig—who once again saved Donny’s butt…even if he did it in such a very odd, “Puig” way.

  57. oldbrooklynfan says:

    The victory last night was like 2 games. If we’d lost we’d be 2 1/2 games back, right now.

  58. crash24now says:

    Lineups I’d like to see:

    Against LHP

    Puig rf
    Kemp cf
    Ramirez ss
    Gonzalez 1b
    Van Slyke lf
    Uribe 3b
    Guerrero 2b
    Ellis c
    pitcher

    Against RHP

    Gordon 2b
    Kemp cf
    Ramirez ss
    Gonzalez 1b
    Puig rf
    Ethier lf
    Uribe 3b
    Ellis c
    pitcher

  59. lbirken says:

    I agree that Kemp probably should be in the lineup everyday until or unless his body gives out or just needs a breather. I like Ethier as well but understand why he might sit against lefties. Like most of you I have not taken to Crawford yet but asking Ethier to play all the outfield positions might be too much to ask. Puig is still the enigma; highly talented but still raw. Sitting him doesn’t make much sense either because as much as he can cost you a game he can win one just as easily.

    I noticed Raul Mondesi was in town. Would you believe he is a mayor of his town in the Dominican? Perhaps he grew a brain after all.

  60. trublu4ever says:

    AJ Ellis to undergo arthroscopic surgery on left knee tomorrow…meniscus tear….now I suppose FedEx will be back.

  61. 32and53fan says:

    While waiting for the Tigers series, here is an article from April 1962 that profiles the Dodgers. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1134920/index.htm

  62. JhallWally says:

    A real good article and great read. A real eye opener….

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/04/06/4041570_dan-lebatard-its-difficult-for.html

  63. grizzy says:

    I’m starting to loosen up and take BP and I think the rest of you should do the same. There may be nobody else left by the end of the month.

  64. oldbrooklynfan says:

    Great memory jogger. It’s amazing how these names just fly by in recognition. Like it was only yesterday when these Dodgers were active.

  65. kahliforni says:

    Losing Ellis isn’t really the problem–he’s a middle-of-the road talent. But the $250+ million Dodgers have NO capable back-up plan. Butera and FedEx? Really? Ned???????? Stan?????

    • lbirken says:

      Remember when the Dodgers used to develop one catcher after another? I like A.J. Ellis but clearly the Dodgers have still not recovered from letting Russell Martin go due to his injuries. I don’t blame them for not resigning Martin but we all thought at the time he would be the Dodger catcher for many years to come.

      • kahliforni says:

        Yes, having a glut of catchers netted the Dodgers Reggie Smith, who led them to multiple World Series. At least the Dodgers kept the right catcher in Yeager over Ferguson! And you’re right, Martin did seem to be the future. Funny how things change. I wonder if the Dodgers have a can’t-miss prospect in the minors. I’m not up on my rosters.

  66. lbirken says:

    Thanks for both articles. The one about the ’62 team reminded me that platooning is an old idea born out of necessity to extract whatever talent a player has. I also found the discussion of some of the younger “prospects” interesting because none of those players ever made much of an impact as a major leaguer.

    The article about Puig seems to offer more excuses about his behavior but at the same time offering ways to try to understand him. As the writer said, Vladimer Guerrero, Manny and many of the other players began their careers before the Internet or in places that did not have as much media attention as Los Angeles. Puig is not the typical stoic baseball player. He plays with emotion and flair but I don’t think he is selfish. All I want from him is to play smart and understand the game a bit better while on the field.

  67. crash24now says:

    Guessing at tonight’s lineup:

    Gordon 2b
    Crawford lf
    Ramirez ss
    Gonzalez 1b
    Kemp cf
    Ethier rf
    Uribe 3b
    FedEx c
    Haren p

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