Now that we have clinched a playoff spot and are within two games of clinching the NL West Championship, I think it is time to shift the emphasis from our starters, namely Russell Martin, James Loney, Orlando Hudson, Rafael Furcal, Casey Blake, Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, and recognize the Stuntmen. Actually, this year they go by the moniker “Bomb Squad.”
It’s appropriate to start with Brad Ausmus, who has appeared in 35 games and sports a .301 Batting average, which is the highest of his career for the defensive specialist. However, the veteran presence and clubhouse camaraderie fostered by Brad (who, by the way is a REAL smart guy) is hard to quantify. Ned got his money’s worth on Ausmus play, but his clubhouse presence is priceless. Ditto on Doug Mientkiewicz, Mark Loretta (who swooned mid-season, but seems to be heating-up again), and Juan Castro, who has hit a solid .288, filled in defensively for Raffy and has been an all-round stabilizing influence on this team. Blake DeWitt has to get a hand for bouncing up and down like a yo-yo between AAA and the big club. He certainly didn’t have the offensive year we expected, but he played 3B, SS and 2B and never complained. His stock hasn’t dropped in my eyes. Blake DeWitt is a ballplayer. Others made some contribution, such as Xavier Paul, AJ Ellis, and Jim Thome who delivered in the clutch last night. Let’s not forget the late season heroic of Ronnie Belliard, who has hit as many HR in a few weeks for the Dodgers as he did all year for the Nats.
Last, but not least – I saved the best for last is Juan Pierre, who is some respects has been one of the most valuable Dodgers. Behind Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, Juan Pierre has to be somewhere around 3rd in Dodger MVP votingfor what he did while Manny was suspended and how he has played all year. He just shows up (early), shuts up (no complaints) and steps up (in 360 AB’s he has hit .311 with a .371 OB%, stole 27 bases and scored 56 runs). Juan Pierre is the Captain of the Bomb Squad!
RANTS & RAVES:
- Randy Wolf got another “no-decision” last night. It was a game he deserved to win… AGAIN! So far this year, he has 11 games where he has produced quality starts and given up two runs or less, and has not got the win. Right now, he has pitched 209 innings, is 11-6, allowed 173 hits, has 158 K’s to go with a 3.22 ERA. If he had gotten wins in all those games, he would be 22-6 with a 3.22 ERA and people would probably be talking about the possibility of a Cy Young. It’s certainly arguable that he’s been our ACE.
- Speaking of playoffs, don’t forget that Ryan Howard hits .200 against LH and Raul Ibanez, who was amzaing the first half of the season, now looks like he’s 40 years-old. Jimmy Rollins has been a lot worse than Raffy (.289 OB%) and the Phils have arsonists in the pen. Wolf and Kershaw will be very important if/when we play the Phils.
- It’s possible that we will only carry 10 or 11 pitchers on the playoff roster. Who sits and who plays?
- Matt Kemp quote: “I haven’t done anything on the bases stupid this year other than maybe once or twice,” he says with a grin. “I’m learning.” You gotta’ love him!
- Clayton Kershaw tunes up for the playoff today. I doubt he’ll go more than 70-80 pitches.