The Dodgers are entering the last 23 games and probably the most important nine games in the next 10 days. They begin three games in San Francisco tonight (where for some reason they've played exceptionally well) and then come home for three games with San Diego and then three with Arizona. They got what they needed in Chicago, three wins and only one loss; and yesterday's win could go a long way in terms of confidence. The season will largely be settled by Sunday the 16th. The Dodgers need to go at least 7-2 in this stretch.
Finally, Grady Little (and Ned Colletti, I guess) have figured out that Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in the lineup everyday will help win games (both had home runs yesterday). Luis Gonzales is gone after this season, and all in all, despite the fact that he's a great guy and has caused no problems at all, it has to go down as a bad signing for Colletti. That $10.6 million could have gone elsewhere.
The main problem for the Dodgers in the stretch has been that they have had only one winning streak of five games. The speedbumps that were formerly in the starting rotation; Tomko (now in San Diego) and Hendrickson (now in the bullpen, hopefully gone next year) pretty much guaranteed that there would be no long winning streaks. Adding Wells and Loiza is an upgrade in the rotation, not sure if it's enough though. Penny, Lowe and Billingsley have to win out. And has anyone noticed that Billingsley has very quietly been the one to stop losing streaks?
The oddest signing down the stretch has to be Shea Hillenbrand. He can't hit, his range is limited at 3rd base; he makes dumb as a brick decisions running the bases (which compounds the fact that he can't run). Fortunately, they are letting LaRoche play, even though he is clearly not 100%. Mike Sweeny was a good pick up. Can still hit, especially as a pinch hitter, and remains a slightly above average fielding first baseman.
If the Dodgers make the post season (the are 3 1/3 out of first place and 2 1/2 out of the wildcard), they need to make some roster decisions. Here are the issues:
Nomar Garciaparra, off the DL, but by all accounts can't run past first base. Hasn't played in about two months, was going to lose his job at third anyway. It will be a big ego hit for him, but he should not be on the post season active roster.
Olmedo Saenz, has finally hit the end. Hasn't hit at all, can only play first or third (and that not very well). Will not contribute and, with Sweeny on board, he is no longer needed. He should not be on the post-season roster.
Shea Hillenbrand: Not sure why he was signed in the first place, except for one game, he has done nothing. Definitely not on the post season roster.
Andy LaRoche: should be starting at third the rest of the season, his bat will help the Dodgers make it to the post-season. Definitely on the post-season roster.
In pitching, I would keep Meloan and not Hendrickson, but since Hendrickson is a left hander, they probably will keep him, and I doubt Colletti has completely shaken off his sticking with "veteran" players habit yet.
Ramon Martinez verses Tony Abreu poses some interesting choices. Martinez is dependable, can play almost any position and occasionally hits. Abreu is the same, hits better, better fielding range, but lacks experience. Coin toss, but with Abreu's running speed, I would go young for the roster.
By next week we should have a good idea if the Dodgers are going to make the playoffs or not. Then it will be time to look at next season.Posted by Narnia3 at September 7, 2007 2:46 PM | TrackBack