Thursday, August 5, 2010

Russell and Blow

I don't want to stop watching Dodgers baseball........yet. My deadlines are more thresholds for when or if I can state that the Dodgers are done. If the Dodgers are declared dead, I would keep watching but in a different way. Thankfully, I have the White Sox but the Dodgers are my prime baseball love.

So Russell Martin is probably out for the rest of the year and I had a feeling that when I saw it, it would be worse. Martin coming back into the game didn't bring me much solace. I haven't declared them dead yet but I would bet money that they are. I still want to see Thursday's game and I would like to see what kind of weekend the Dodgers have. The only thing that I cling to is the fact that this team is so junky (aside from the pitching staff), it just might catch fire. This team is a joke. If there is a comeback, we will have to count on the Dodgers starting staff doing an impression of the 2005 Chicago White Sox's staff.

Why didn't Russell Martin slide? He may have beat the ball there but he wasn't that far ahead of the great throw that he could just run in. It's just another dumb base-running error to go along with the NL leading 36 times the Dodgers have been caught stealing. Base-running hasn't been the most damning facet of the Dodgers' game but it is the most frustrating because I considered this team to be a good base-running team before the season began.

It's natural to wonder where the blame should go when the season seems to be on the outs. You look at the Dodgers and they are 6th in team xFIP but tied for 8th worst with the A's and Angels in team wOBA. The Padres have a worse wOBA than the Dodgers do yet the Padres own the best team xFIP. I would think that it is a mixture of bad bullpen play and lack of run production. The Dodgers bullpen RAR ranks 8th in the league, though the Padres are 1st, the Rox 3rd and the Giants 7th. The Dodgers are 10th worse in wRC but the Padres are 4th worst.

I am going to cobble together a reason why the Dodgers are where they are. The Dodgers Pythagorean record is 55-53, one game worse than their actual record. So, the Dodgers aren't owed or aren't borrowing much luck. There have been injuries to Manny, Furcal, Ethier, Padilla and now Martin. Missing Manny is a big deal but it wouldn't close the current gap. The Dodgers follow the vast park model of the NL West and have anemic hitting and decent pitching but the Padres do everything better than them and the Giants do most everything better than the Dodgers. The NL West is a stronger division than it was last year and the Dodgers are worse.

When the Dodgers did score runs, the bullpen faltered but the prevailing problem has been the lack of runs. The team has been inconsistent in run scoring. If the Padres have score more runs than the Dodgers but are 7 games ahead, the Padres are obviously better at consistently getting the 3 or 4 runs they need to win the game at hand. The Dodgers haven't taken advantage of being in the weaker league. The Dodgers have the best record vs. the teams in their own division (27-14) but are 25-27 vs. the rest of the NL. Don't even ask about interleague.

The Dodgers just aren't very good. My fading optimism throughout the season has been enabled by the weakness of the National League. It's easy to avoid scrutiny when a team makes the playoffs in the NL but, when a team doesn't make the playoffs in the NL, it looks a bit ugly. I would have liked to think the Dodgers were headed in the right direction when they cleaned up down the stretch in 2008 and won the division in 2009 but the team will slide right back to it's old roots when it is filled up with garbage again. Sigh.

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