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The Kids are Alright

Time after time this year the kids have picked up the Dodgers when the veterans of choice have washed out, and yet it appears management has no more confidence in the new set of kids then they did in the old set of kids when the season started.

At the beginning of the year we had Nomar at 1st base, and Loney was sent packing to AAA. As we hit June it was apparent to everyone but a van kissing homey, and management that Nomar was not getting the job done. So they save face with Nomar by moving him to 3b, and brought up Loney and he's done nothing but hit since they made the move.

Most observers thought that Matt Kemp would be the Dodger starting RF until management signed Luis Gonzalez and Juan Pierre. Kemp made the team out of ST but was destined for a job share program with Ethier when he literally hit the wall, and was put on the DL. While rehabbing they decide to let him stay in AAA. When he finally breaks the door down, he is in a job share with the 2nd best outfielder on the team not the 3rd or 4th. Finally as Gonzo loses steam, Kemp takes more of his playing time, and since Kemp showed up in the Dodger lineup he's been their most potent offensive weapon. Still the Dodgers shoot themselves in the foot more times then not by starting Pierre everyday while one of Kemp, Ethier, or Gonzalez sits. We won't even mention the hottest hitter in the PCL by the name of Delwyn Young.

Chad Billingsley started the season in the bullpen as management felt it would be better to watch Hendrickson, and then Tomko implode once again in the rotation. Once Jason Schmidt went down it was obvious he was at least the 4th best option for the rotation. It took a while but finally he was given the gig and he's now at the point where you could say he's the ace of the staff based on 2nd half performances.

Those three kids saved the Dodger season and they had to battle to get playing time not because the players they replaced were any good but because management just isn't comfortable giving kids playing time and just letting them play through the ups and downs of a season. Thank goodness that Loney, Kemp, and Billingsley have performed on a consistent basis, because we know the leash is shorter for them then for the stable of PVL players that management likes to surround themselves with.

Has that given the Dodgers anymore reason to trust the farm system? The answer appears to be a resounding NO. As we head into the stretch run we find washed up veterans still getting the call as the young one's sit for inexplicable reasons.

We traded a key pinch hitter, and our best utility player for a middle relief pitcher. At the time of the deal Jon Meloan was the best relief pitcher in AA baseball, bar none. He was striking out 14 batters per 9 innings.  Eric Hull was doing yeoman work for AAA Vegas at the same time. Instead of trusting either of these options we weakened our team with a trade that didn't need to happen. Then the worse thing did happen. Nomar got hurt after hitting just enough that he wasn't a liability at 3b anymore, and La Roche got hurt after ripping through the PCL in July like a tornado through Kansas. Since we had traded Betemit we had to sign Shea Hillenbrand. Not surprisingly, he was as bad as advertised. If management had a little trust in Meloan or Hull it didn't have to be like this. Proctor has been adequate, not great and not bad. It doesn't take much imagination to think that Hull or Meloan could also have been adequate.

Veterans Hendrickson and Tomko predictably fail. Management goes out and signs veterans Wells and Loaiza and ignores Stults and Houlton. This I understand. What I don't understand is why DJ Houlton never got a shot all this year. He had a very solid AAA campaign. He deserved a shot back in July when Tomko and Hendrickson were flailing.

The most grievous mistake I see right now is La Roche sitting on the pine while 1st Shea and now Nomar get those at bats. Shea is a shell of what used to be a decent major league hitter. Nomar is a shell of what used to be a great major league hitter. This is a pennant race, not a time for Nomar to get back into game shape after missing a month with a calf injury. When Grady put Nomar back into the lineup last Friday I assumed that he'd watched Nomar and felt he was ready to face major league pitching. Anyone who has seen Nomar since Friday would have to say he is not ready. The only reason he is playing is because he is a veteran. Meanwhile the guy who is probably only 2nd to Kemp on this team regarding offensive potential is sitting on the pine. He was given just a few games to get his feet wet and in those two games he gave us the best defense we'd seen at the position all year and contributed two key doubles. But he sits, and we know why, it is not because he's not more talented then the players who are playing, but because he hasn't been there before.

Last night was indicative of what could have been. The PVL combo of Seanez and Hernandez poured fuel on the fire while Houlton and Hull teamed up to try to keep the team in the game. Meloan continues to sit. He's now sat long enough that it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy when he does finally pitch because he'll be so rusty it is doubtful that he could be effective

Trust what got you here. The names are Billingsley, Kemp, Martin, Ethier, Loney, and Broxton. They could also be La Roche, DJ Houlton, Hull, D Young, Hu, and Meloan.

Furcal is so bad right now his only contribution comes on defense. If Hu is as good as advertised on defense, then maybe even he is an upgrade at SS right now.