November 26, 2014

It’s Time for Dodger Baseball!

I love Opening Day.  Especially when it comes at home against the hated San Francisco Giants.  The best day of the year against our most bitter rival.  If that doesn’t get you pumped up, I don’t know what would.

But while I think about all of the reasons that I lvoe Dodger baseball, I can’t help but think about the growing chorus of doubts about the team ownership which have started to creep into days reserved for only true baseball optimists.

First it was the surprising decline in attendance numbers at Camelback Ranch this spring.  According to the Arizona Republic, attendance at Dodgers games was down 17% while attendance at White Sox games went up 12.4%.  Hmm.

Then there was the Bill Plashke article in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times about former season ticket holder Brian Gadinsky who returned his tickets and turned down an opportunity to meet Frank McCourt.  He vowed not to renew until new ownership was in place.  The article has generated 98 comments (with the majority favoring the fan).  Care to guess how many comments there were on Chad Billingsley’s contract extension from the same day?  Zero.  Something’s brewing people.

Finally there was the oddest story of them all: Andre Ethier speaking about potentially leaving the Dodgers.  Per Jim Peltz of the LA Times:

“If I don’t play well, we’ve seen them non-tender guys here, and if you play well, I’ve seen them not offer arbitration because they’re afraid guys are setting their salaries too high,” he said.

When a reporter asked Ethier whether being non-tendered was the only way he could leave after this season, Ethier replied, “Or traded.”

Whoa.  It’s one thing for fans to not have confidence in the ownership, but another for one of their star players to speak out like that.  Fortunately it doesn’t sound like ‘Dre wants to leave, but more like he wouldn’t be surprised if the club non-tendered him after a down year, like his friend Russell Martin (although I seriously doubt anyone really believes that Martin was non-tendered for any reason other than his hip injury and declining production).  Sure, Ethier’s agent walked this statement back, but it made clear that there are lingering questions in the clubhouse about ownership and their ability to field a championship team (to say nothing of the potential impact on free agents wanting to come to LA).

But you know what?  Today I don’t care about any of that.  Hope springs eternal on Opening Day with plenty of tantalizing questions for Dodger fans to ponder including: How will rookie manager Don Mattingly do?  Is this the year that Clayton Kershaw contends for a Cy Young Award?  Will Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier return to form and be the monsters of the lineup?

But most of all, I’m looking forward to slipping on my headphones while in the office, sitting back, closing my eyes and enjoying Vin Scully call yet another Opening Day while delighting and informing us with his unique brand of storytelling.

It’s time for Dodger baseball.  Indeed it is!

Trade Rumors Circling: Kemp, Ethier, Loney on the Block?

 Pittsburgh Pirates' Jason Bay strokes a two-run double off Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Matt Scherzer in the fourth inning of a baseball game at Pittsburgh Sunday, June 8, 2008. The Pirates won 6-4.

If you believe Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports, that is indeed the case.  According to Ken’s article, the Dodgers might actually pull the trigger on dealing one of the kids for a proven hitter, ala Jason Bay, Magglio Ordonez or Matt  Holliday.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately and have had a change of heart: I think the Dodgers should consider trading one (1) of their younger players.  I would have a bunch of conditions attached, of course, with the first being that Matt Kemp is off the table.  The guy is a future All-Star and he wants to be a Dodger.  I’d prefer to deal Loney or LaRoche, and could be convinced to move Ethier if the price was right.  The problem is the guy making the deals.  I simply don’t trust Ned to bring us back someone who isn’t on the downside of their career or a rent-a-player.  No, this needs to be a move that helps us win now, but also is piece that allows us to build for the future.

From Dejan Kovacevic (the Pirates’ beat writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette):

If any team offers the Pirates premier prospects for what they feel is fair value, from what I gather, they will not hesitate to move. Who takes over at shortstop or any other position would be secondary. The goal, as they often lay out, is to win a championship, and that only happens with a lot of high-end talent. That is not the current situation.

Chaos in the Outfield

Seriously, what’s it going to take for the Dodgers to see that this outfield by committee approach is not working? I totally get that competition breeds success, but in this case, the opposite is happening.

Here’s my solution:
1.) START KEMP!
2.) Bench Jones for 2-3 games for some serious work on his swing.
3.) Get Jones some help with his blase attitude.
4.) Start Pierre for Jones (for now).
5.) Let the fans know what the plan is!
5.) Get Jones back into the lineup on a permanent basis with Kemp and Ethier and use Pierre as a spot starter and a pinch-hit specialist.

I really think the problem is that the fans (and players) don’t really know what’s going on, so every day that goes by with another questionable roster move makes fans feel even more like pulling their hair out.