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It's Cool To Hate

A few weeks ago, the Dodgers pitching staff was being blamed for most of the teams woes, and I tried to provide an upbeat attitude by saying the other guys were just hitting them where they ain’t, and things would get better, and for the most part they have. Now that that’s over, the Dodgers are still losing, and the offense is taking the blame. For good reason too, in the last week, the Dodgers have scored eight runs, or less than we allowed in that thrashing by the Angels a two weeks ago. This time though, there’s not a nice “things will get better” solution.


There are two ways for a team to score runs if the pitcher can find the catcher: hit a home run, or string together at least two hits in one inning. Since part A is beyond our grasp without a healthy and productive Jeff Kent and Andruw Jones, the Dodgers are going to have to find a way to score runs the latter way. The problem with this approach is that it requires you stack several productive hitters in a row, something the Dodgers just don’t have right now. Of our starters, Kent (or Luis Maza), Chin-Lung Hu, Juan Pierre and the pitcher have been very unproductive.  If you stack those four hitters next to each other, you’re almost guaranteed to not score once that part of the lineup comes around. This gets worse on the occasions that Mark Sweeney or Danny Ardoin start, making over half of the lineup near useless. The 2006 Dodgers scored a lot of runs without much power because only Wilson Betemit had under a .355 on base percentage out of the starters. Stringing together multiple hit innings is much easier when half of the lineup isn’t dead weight.


The big problem here really is injuries. If we didn’t have to carry several guys who were at best plan D heading into camp, our offense would be a lot closer to the 2006 Dodgers than the 2003 version. If Nomar, Tony Abreu, Furcal, Ramon Martinez and Andy LaRoche hadn’t gotten hurt, there’s no way we’d be carrying Maza and Terry Tiffee on the bench while starting Chin-Lung Hu.


As it looks more and more like the team we’re playing with right now are going to be sticking around for a while, there needs to be some changes made, or we aren’t going to be scoring very many runs in the near future. There’s two big ways we can improve the offense right now:


Move Andy LaRoche to third, move Blake DeWitt to second, DFA Mark Sweeney. I’m banging this post out quickly, so I’m going to just ask you to trust me on this one. If DeWitt and Kent play the rest of their season at their projected OPS numbers (.774 for DeWitt, .737 for Kent) if DeWitt can just avoid being the worst defensive second baseman in baseball, the team would gain in total production at second base, and upgrade the offense by replacing Kent’s aging bat with LaRoche’s. If DeWitt can play second competently, he could collapse offensively and still improve the team, albeit it wouldn’t help our run scoring problem.


Replace Juan Pierre with Delwyn Young. This isn’t realistic, and might not even improve the teams overall production by much with Pierre’s edge in on base percentage and defense, but getting someone else that can hit the ball over the wall in the lineup will give the Dodgers another minor power threat. When Andre Ethier might be the best power hitter on the team, we need all the help we can get to add another dimension to our offense.


As long as the Dodgers continue to carry four or five dead spots in their lineup a night, we aren’t going to score much when we only have two guys who are well above average for their position. If Furcal is going to be gone for a while, and Jeff Kent really is done, changes need to be made.