As we head into a big road trip I have conflicted feelings. I think the team is done but then I look around at the other wild card contenders and I fail to see anyone who stands out. I could go either way but as we head into the final 6 weeks I'm going to straddle the fence. I expect to fall off the fence onto the Pessimistic side by the end of the road trip, but I'm holding on tight until then just in case we show enough moxy on the road trip to hold off denial for several more weeks.
The Pessimistic View
1. Loney is now a struggling rookie 1st baseman instead of a phenom. The pitchers have adjusted and now he's just flailing away and we will have to wait until next year before he begins his next journey on the Mark Grace path to okaydom.
2. Kent is an old 2nd baseman who was our best hitter for a month, and then just like last year got hurt at the trade deadline. Continues to play statuesque defense and his injury or age will continue to plague him the rest of the year.
3. Furcal plays defense flawlessly, but that is about the only thing positive you can say. You can tell the injury continues to hinder him. Thank you Jason Repko
4. Nomar had a bounce back July but it won't stop his declining skills from having the Dodgers using one of the worse 3b in the NL. Just when La Roche looked ready, he tweaked his back. Single hitting Shea Hillenbrand is basically the May/June version of Nomar without the inflated RISP numbers, and yet he was allowed to hit cleanup while better hitters like Kemp, Martin, Ethier are entrenched at the bottom of the lineup.
5. Gonzo is finally living down to expectations after significantly exceeding them for 1/2 a year. Since July he decided to make friends with whatever demon inhabited Nomar in May/June.
6. Pierre has about a 20 point drop in OBP more then what was expected, and the expectation wasn't high to begin with.
7. Stults & Tomko are BOTH in the rotation.
8. Proctor proves that middle relief is no substitution for a slugging utility player who should have been starting at 3rd for the last two weeks.
3rd place finish.
The Optimistic View
1. Loney will make adjustments and produce around a 800-850 OPS from here on out.
2. Kent rebounds from his latest injury and continues to hit like he did in July. That is unrealistic, but hey give us an 850 OPS and I'll be happy.
3. Nomar's recent offensive upsurge is not transitory, and he makes up for his poor May/June with an outstanding finish once he comes off the DL. Or he doesn't, and La Roche does break down the door and responds with success.
4. I don't think Gonzo can bounce back but I do think that Kemp can replace him, and give us a minimum 800 OPS
7. Pierre gets lucky and gets a bounce in his OBP, as his successful bunt rate rises to it's normal historical levels pushing his OBP to acceptable levels(330-340) for him.
8. Ethier just keeps doing what he's doing.
9. Lowes hip stays manageable and he's able to stay in the rotation and pitch well at the same time.
10. Scott Proctor is not a broken down horse, and combined with a promotion of Meloan and Broxton/Saito gives the Dodger's a shut down bullpen from the 6th inning on.
11. Stults continues to defy his MLE's and gives us some credible pitching before falling into oblivion after 2007.
12. Tomko is released and James McDonald gets promoted and gives major league hitters the same taste he gave the kids in AA, or the Dodgers confound major league baseball and use a four man rotation in Sept, benefiting by not having to use a putrid pitcher every 5th game as everyone else is doing.
Wild Card Victory, just beating out the Phillies and Braves on the last weekend.