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The Dodgers’ brain trust (whomever that cabal consists of) that sets the daily starters has been shifting and platooning the team almost daily since Opening Day. Where has that strategy placed the Dodgers? In a second place tie -which is deceptive as a determiner of how good this team actually is.
I say deceptive because normally, one and a half months into the season, one would be happy with one’s team in second place, right on the heels of the first place team with plenty of season to go. However, this is the NL West, which I refer to as the .500 division. The teams in this division range from lousy to mediocre. View the Dodgers’ accomplishments through that filter, and being tied for second place looks more like being tied for third place.
Waiting for players like Justin Turner, Howie Kendrick, Carl Crawford – and dare I say Adrian Gonzalez – to “return to form” at the plate, while better teams across baseball are solidifying their playing strategies and making their marks as competitors in the hunt, is akin to treading water in a swim race.
I could write a similar paragraph about the scrubs taking up space in the bullpen, but in order to relieve them of their duties, pitchers would have to brought up from the farms in order to take their places. That requires a different kind of commitment this front office has not shown it has the stomach for. Besides, even if they brought up the minor league pitchers that many are calling for, and if those pitchers were successful, the Dodgers would probably tread water at the same rate, because no team can win 1-0 or 2-1 every night.
So let’s keep things simple. Just deal with the guys that are already in the dugout. Nobody has to be called up from the minors. Nobody has to fret over young players being exposed to the majors before they’re ready. The pressure will not be relived only half way.
If the Dodgers would just play the guys with hot bats and home run power, and stop placing hitters that haven’t hit since 2015 at the top third of the batting order, the number of runs scored would increase, and the wins would thus, follow.
Take last night’s batting order as an example. Justin Turner batted second. SECOND!
There’s a theory that pops up whenever an average player has a breakout season. People will say, “He’s just having a fluke year. He’ll revert to his usual numbers soon enough.” This may very well be the case with Turner.
Blame his leg. Blame not enough ABs in Spring Training. Blame Donald Trump! None of it changes the fact that JT, loveable as his red chia pet hair is, has got no business batting anywhere near the top of the lineup.
In the last 7 days Turner’s had 21 at bats with 1 run scored, 4 hits and 3 RBIs, Avg .190.
In the month of May it becomes 49 at bats with 6 runs scored, 11 hits, 2 doubles, 1 home run, and 4 RBI’s , Avg .224
How about Joc Pederson? Last 7 days, 20 AB, scored 4 runs, 3 hits, 1 double, 2 home runs, 5 RBIs, Avg .150.
In May, 40 AB, 9 hits, 3 doubles, 5 home runs. In May, 40 AB, 8 runs, 9 hits, 3 doubles, 5 home runs, 9 RBIs,
Let’s look at Trayce Thompson. Last 7 days, 10 at bats, scored 4 runs, 5 hits, 2 home runs, 5 RBIs Avg .500
In May, 29 at bats, 8 runs, 11 hits, 2 doubles, 5 home runs, 12 RBIs, Avg .379
Last night he batted sixth. SIXTH!
Last night’s first five batters:
This is how I would set up the first five:
What’s the worst that can happen? A dull offense that scores in the first inning and then goes to sleep for the rest of the game? We already know what that looks like. We get that every time Carl Crawford starts, and a whole lotta times he doesn’t.
The young players are chomping at the reigns. Their bats are heating up – which is the good kind of contagious – and that sparks enthusiasm up and down the bench and in the stands.
The Dodgers committed more than a month to waiting for last year’s stand outs to heat up – and they haven’t. The only thing this team has done is spin it’s wheels and end up tied for third place in a weak division.
Now is the time to stop accepting mediocre and less. It’s time to shift gears and change tactics. The Dodgers’ youth revolution has arrived.
Footnote courtesy of Time Warner Cable: Gil Scot Heron was right – the revolution will not be televised.