Before I get started I'll have to admit that this article is really points that were made in a back and forth email between myself and a Dodger-hating friend. I am a Dodger fan, love the stadium, love the history but I am pragmatic and I have watched enough baseball over the years to sense the tide turning.
And with that in mind, I present to you the reasons why the Dodgers are not going to win the World Series this year, if they make the playoffs at all. Manny Ramirez is returning to the team in early July.
I know already you must think I am crazy. Ramirez has been crushing the ball since he arrived on the west coast and both Bonds and A-Rod have proven that guys can still hit when they are off steroids, but please reader, go on and tell me at the end if you still think the same way.
The Dodger offense with Ramirez was averaging 5.6 runs per game, without Manny they are at 5.8.
This proves that with or without Ramirez this year's Dodgers team will score runs, and as an off-shoot they receive a huge defensive upgrade with Juan Pierre in left field instead of Ramirez.
The Dodgers are 34-16 so they are likely going to win the National League West regardless of what happens the rest of the way, but considering the other teams in that division that is really a minor accomplishment.
Of the 34 wins, 23 have come against NL West opponents. They are 23-8 against their own division and 11-8 against the rest of the majors.
A .741 winning percentage against .579, with the division wins coming against teams with a combined .460 winning percentage.
Breaking it down further, they are 12-2 against Arizona and Colorado, teams with a combined winning percentage of .415. Clearly the Dodgers like beating up on the worst teams and are benefited the rest of the way with another 45 divisions games remaining.
Assuming they only win at a .700 clip in those remaining division games they are looking at another 32 wins, making it 55 in their division alone.
The next argument I expect is that a .579 winning percentage against the rest of the majors is pretty damn good also. That I can't argue, .579 is a great winning percentage. However, I can show that this too is misguided.
The sweeping of the Mets is great work and 2-1 over the Phillies is solid, but the Marlins sit at 22-26, the Astros at 18-27 and the Angels at 24-22. They did take out Hamels and beat John Maine in their Mets sweep, but for the most part this sample tells me that they don't win outside of their own division.
Pierre isn't going to be hitting close to .400 all year, we all know that. But as absurd as it sounds when Ramirez returns to the lineup around the All-Star break, the Dodgers hitting is going to flat-line.
Right now guys like Casey Blake, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, etc are geared up as they know they need to produce now that Manny is out. When he returns two major things will change in the chemistry and mindset of the team.
(i) the adrenaline goes down as with the slugger back in the lineup the young players won't feel that desperate need do the heavy lifting at the plate; and
(ii) one of their major table setters when they have been scoring the 5.8 runs per game will be removed from the starting lineup.
With Pierre back to being disgruntled on the bench, the adrenaline down for the young guys, the defense now mediocre at best, and now having to face the tougher teams in the league, the boys in blue are going to be feeling that very color.
ESPN through The Los Angeles Times seems to think time off could do Manny some good. He isn't young anymore and two months to rest could mean a stronger slugger at the end of the season.
People, open your eyes, this is Manny Ramirez we are talking about. Of "Manny being Manny" fame.
After 50 games off, nobody knows what his mindset is going to be like. Nobody knows how the steroids impacted him. Last year he was playing for a contract, now he is not. Are we to believe that all of a sudden, after all these years, now Manny isn't going to care that he can make $20 million next year even if he is suspended for the rest of the season? I don't think so.
Early in the year he was playing to win back the fans that were upset about the contract issue. Now they are willing to vote him into the all-star game regardless of the suspension. So the fans still love him, where's the incentive? There isn't any, so be ready to see the infamous Manny disappearing act the people in the Northeast have come to hate.
The Dodgers are a good team and they have done what good teams have to do by beating bad teams. And I have to admit they probably will win the division considering those 55 wins they get within.
After taking that division they'll be swept. Why? Because the other playoff teams are going to be good.