Los Angeles Dodgers: Can They Break Out Of a Season-Long Slump?
Like many Dodger fans, I'm left wondering with this lingering question: What is going on this season?
This article will look at what has gone on this season, what is currently going on this season and hopefully what will happen during this season.
We have a new manager, a new coaching staff, a center fielder who signed for a whopping amount of money but has failed to produce, the outfield situation with four outfielders for three spots, and a bunch of "vets" on the disabled list who ironically are getting paid to be injured.
So let's start with the whole disabled list and vets who are basically taking up salary space. Andruw Jones, signed for $36 million, has made Dodger fans cringe every time he is up at the plate. I guess it doesn't help when you report to camp overweight and sluggish. It also doesn't sit well when every time Jones goes up to the plate, he has a smirk on his face. He's been doing it his whole time with the Braves but that won't fly here in Los Angeles.
This was the man who was able to launch HRs with ease, but now it looks as if he can't even make contact with the ball. You know it's really bad when the fans at Dodger Stadium start to boo him every time his name is mentioned.
Who wouldn't be angry? This guy was supposed to be our power threat, but we've had a huge power outage (not just Jones, but the whole team). Where is Jones now? He's on the disabled list having knee surgery. I really hope that this was the reason for his slump but only time will tell.
Jason Schmidt, the ex-Giant pitcher, has won ONE game. ONE GAME! How do you sign a three-year contract and have only one win to show for it? That's insane!
Every time Schmidt feels like he is "fine", something sets him back. Let's take the recent news. He is in Inland Empire in a rehab assignment and is doing well. However, he was hit in the calf with a ball, so who knows if this will set him back for another month. If he does come back healthy, then we might be in good shape.
Mark Sweeney, the veteran left-handed pinch-hitting specialist, has not really fulfilled that role. He goes up hacking, and usually comes up empty. I wonder how many more ex-Giants are going to make the roster. Last time I looked, this team was the LOS ANGELES DODGERS.
How about Esteban Loiaza? You know, the guy Dodgers picked up from Oakland's disabled list for $7 million or $8 million?
Where is he now? He got DFA'ed. Every time he pitched for us, I would get afraid. He'd have a 1-2-3 inning, and then the next inning he was serving batting practice for the other team. So if he doesn't accept his minor-league assignment, it will free up a spot for the Dodgers on their roster.
Nomar Garciaparra has constantly been on the DL each season he's been with the Dodgers. I feel bad for him, because his current injury has not healed and there's no telling when he is coming back.
The Dodgers sorely could use his bat, even though it's not what it used to be. He was our clutch hitter, but he needs to get healthy.
Rafael Furcal is in the last year of his contract. He is actually one of the veterans who is not sitting, wasting money. With Furcal in the lineup, the Dodgers are deadly. They have an experienced leadoff hitter who can hit for power, run for speed and pretty much disrupt the other team's pitcher and defense.
He's been out for a while, but once we get him back, we should be fine. His arm is a cannon and his range is huge. Chin-Lung Hu is not the answer as his replacement.
One of the lingering issues for this season was the outfield situation. There were four outfielders for three spots! Juan Pierre, who was signed last season for $44 million over five years, didn't take kindly to being demoted to the bench.
However, when he did get the chance to start, he actually started to produce. His offensive game is his speed and his ability to steal bases. He will not hit HRs (even though he came close in Arizona), but he will get on base! His outfield arm is not that great and this is why he was moved from CF to LF. The outfield situation has resolved itself with Jones going on the DL.
Ned Colleti, the Dodgers GM, has made some awful deals. You just have to glance up at this article to see some of the faults of his signings.
How about those other signings and trades? Julio Lugo, Mark Hendrickson (who is doing really well, ironically), Wilson Betemit, Ramon Martinez (even though he's with the Dodgers but on the disabled list), etc. He's got to stop signing ex-Giants too.
One way to disrupt everything is to get a new manager. Grady Little got fired, but we got Joe Torre. This coaching staff seems to be a lot better than the previous one. Bowa needs to use that FIRE he has in him to get this team to PRODUCE!
What are some of the bright spots for the future? The kids.
Russell Martin, our gold glove and silver slugger catcher, is the most impressive out of the bunch. James Loney, even though he is struggling now, was a monster when he first was called up. Look for Loney to get going soon.
Andre Either and Matt Kemp are the two corner stones of the outfield, even though one is usually displaced. Kemp has developed into a great hitter, and Either has rebounded greatly from that drop off from his first season as a Dodger.
Chad Billingsley is becoming one of the more dominant pitchers and he has filthy stuff.
How about that other new kid? You know, the guy with the long blond hair. That lefty... Clayton Kershaw. Even though he was knocked around by the Mets, he has some crazy stuff. That curveball is nasty. His fastball is electric. If Schmidt doesn't come back, and Kershaw steps it up, we will be good!
The bullpen has been amazing, even though Saito and Broxton have blown a few games.
The starting pitching could use some help. Billingsley has a bad record because the Dodgers couldn't buy a run in the beginning of the season. Penny has not been the same pitcher, and he keeps getting rocked when he starts. It's always ONE inning that does him over.
The Dodgers have a buyout on Penny's contract. Hopefully he picks it up. Lowe frets when he gets into tough situations. This is his last year of his contract and he will most likely be leaving.
Kuroda, the Japanese import, has his good and bad days. If the Dodgers could score some runs for him, his record would be better.
How can the Dodgers improve? They need that fire, that intensity that they have not shown this year. Once they figure it out, the Dodgers will be ready to win. We need to win. It's been too long without a WS banner.
2008 has got to be our season!
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