How could this happen? How is it that as a lifelong Dodger fan I have actually thrown in my towel on the 2013 season – and we’re not even to the All-Star break yet? This has never happened to me before – well, not since 1992 that is, when the Dodgers went a pathetic 63-99.
What went wrong with the team that many so-called baseball experts pegged to at least challenge the Giants for the division title – especially after spending nearly a quarter of a billion dollars for what looked to be an All-Star team; a team whose longest winning streak of the season is exactly three games?
The cookie-cutter excuse is that the Dodger line-up has been decimated by injuries, but this holds little water in my books; every team has injuries and the good teams manage to succeed in spite of them. The Dodgers have done anything but that.
If I had to put my finger on the reasons why 2013 has been a complete failure for the Dodgers it would be two-fold: an offense that is incapable of putting consecutive hits together (in spite of its talent-ridden line-up) and a bullpen that is unable to hold and/or save a lead. The starting rotation has been decent, even pretty good actually, but with an offense that scores less than three runs per game, the term “quality start” is absolutely meaningless. One need look no further than Clayton Kershaw to see this. Kershaw is a mediocre 5-4 on the season yet he has an ERA of 1.88 – the best in the NL and second best in all of baseball. When your best pitcher has an ERA under 2.00 and your offense cannot even score three runs per game, your team is destined for failure.
“It’s a combination of so many things – injuries, bad personnel moves, bad managerial decisions, possibly team chemistry, and even bad luck,” said longtime ThinkBlueLA forum member and lifelong Dodger fan Dick Greenblatt of Toledo, Ohio. “In my heart of hearts I hope we’re all wet in writing off this season, but my brain tells me it’s a bust. And as far as injuries go, I still blame Stan Conte. Cowboy Stan Johnston, who was the Dodgers’ head trainer before Colletti replaced him with Conte, thinks Stan (Conte) is still calling a lot of the shots (over head trainer Sue Falsone) and bears a lot of the responsibility for the rash of injuries that have decimated the team from Day 1, ” added the usually extremely optimistic Greenblatt.
Harold Uhlman, another longtime ThinkBlueLA member and staff writer agrees with Greenblatt but with a more definitive twist.
“I have never given up when the team had a group of average players struggling and doing their best,” said the lifelong Nova Scotia Dodger fan. “This year is exactly as I feared as I didn’t buy the chemistry thing in 2012. You can’t buy instant success but big bucks have proven you can buy instant failure. I figured the Dodgers would either be very good or very bad, not middle of the road.
“My greater concern is that the (franchise) is locked financially into this team for quite some time,” Uhlman added. “Regardless of how rich the owners (are) there is a limit to spending and common sense will prevail. Slowly they have to divest themselves of some of their liabilities and start to build a team, not buy one. If the contract for Brandon League had been anyway reasonable he might have become a trade target (for a team like) the Tigers (that are) desperate for relievers.”
The frustration with the Dodgers doesn’t end with the players either. Not a day goes by without cries to fire Dodger manager Don Mattingly; and with each successive Dodger loss, these cries gain momentum and are becoming reminiscent of the “Fire Joe Torre! “Fire Grady Little!” “Fire Jim Tracy!” cries. And while Mattingly is extremely popular with his players, coaches and a large percentage of the Dodger beat reporters and internet writers, the cries for his removal now have some of them believing that perhaps the team would be better off with a new manager (or general manager).
“I wished things had worked out differently (for Mattingly), but they haven’t,” said Scott Andes of the popular Lasorda’s Lair blog site. “Any other MLB team would have canned him weeks ago. The fact is a decent manager would probably give (the Dodgers) an instant 5-7 game boost in the standings. That would put the team close to the .500 mark, which would be a better scenario for everyone than where they are currently at.
“(Mattingly’s) moves during games are utterly indefensible. A big part of being manager is pulling the right strings strategically, and he doesn’t do that, nor is he able to motivate his players like other managers seem to be able to do,” Andes added.
Is it still possible for the Dodgers to salvage the 2013 season? Of course it is. Is it likely to happen? I think not.
The good news is that Pitchers and Catchers report in exactly 250 days.