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Is This The End Of The Line?

Is This The End Of The Line?

Here’s something to contemplate:  In 2010, practically every Dodger player regressesd or had a season below their norm.  This makes me want to ask whether this was just a “bump in the road” or a “trend for the future“.  Today, I am going to consider just tha,t and I am not going to reach any conclusion.  You can draw your own conclusion.

Look at the Dodgers’ Youngsters – they are no longer “youngsters.”  Matt Kemp flirted with Superstardom is 2009 but regressed immensely in 2010.  Regardless of a few clutch walkoff  homeruns by Andre Ethier in 2009 and a hot start last season, he has been rather average.  I used to call him “soft” and could revert back to that at some point.  We Dodger fans see Andre’s potential, but the fact is, he hasn’t produced anything close to All-Star level play with any consistency, and could easily become a platoon player if he doesn’t start hitting lefthanders soon.  James Loney has immense potential, and had a decent first half last season, but regressed in the second half.  The Loney the Dodgers need should hit over .300 along with 20+ HR.  The ability is there.  The swing is there.  Is the “want-to” there?  That’s what I wonder.

Once regression starts, its hard to stop.  Look at Russ  Martin – What looked like could be a near Hall-of-Fame Career turned into regreggion year-after-year, and now we find out that Russ Martin had excuses – distractions of all sorts, and despite what he said before 2010, he wasn’t in good shape at the start of the season.  Russ had a great work ethic in the minors, and when he first came up, but the fame, fortune and temptations evidently de-railed what could have been a very good (not HOF level, but very good) carrer.  I think Russ lost his hunger.  He played hard on the field, but behind the scenes, he partied too much and didn’t take care of his body.  He says it will be better in NY, but old habits are hard to break!  Russ Martin could easily become irrelevant!

I don’t know about you, but I grow the most under adversity.  Adversity will make you bitter or better.  Here’s another question – will the adversity of 2010 make the Dodgers better or not?  Will Kemp, Loney, Ethier and others GROW from the adversity?  2011 could be a new beginning, or it could be the end of the line for some, if not all of them.  I have no doubt that if Raffy is healthy, he will have a monster season, and when your leadoff hitter gets on, it makes it easier on everyone behind him.  In that respect, Raffy is the key.  However, the Dodgers cannot expect to win unless the WAR of Kemp, Ethier, Blake and Loney COMBINED is greater than 16!  Write that down.  Last year it was 6.5.  Those four guys have a lot of steping up to do. 

A lot of money is coming off the books in 2011, so this is a critical season for Kemp, Ethier and Loney.  Loney is not the type of first baseman the Dodgers need with the power structure of the team.  Should the Dodgers trade him?  I doubt that right now they would get much.  James needs to “man up” and turn that sweet swing into a sweet batting average.  I know Andre was hurt last year and Matt was absent mentally.  2011 is a new season and they have a lot to prove.  Can they do it?  I believe Kemp and Ethier can.  Loney is another issue.  I hope he does, but I have seen nothing to make me believe he will.   Casey Blake should benefit by playing less games and I can see him having his average year.  If he can put up a WAR of just 3.5, he’ll be an asset

If this is not just a bump in the road, what does that mean to Ned Colletti and Logan White? 

It’s a fact that Ned has made more bad deals than good deals (OK, the Jones deal was on McCourt) and maybe Logan White isn’t as good as we once thought.  Is that a possibility?  I don’t have the answer.  What’s your opinion?

About Mark Timmons

When you see the invisible, you can do the impossible!

18 Responses to “Is This The End Of The Line?”

  1. ken says:

    Gwynn is the key for the pitchers.

    Yes it is time to question everything and everyone re teh Dodgers.

    Get ready for 2012 – Enter the Sandman
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QP-SIW6iKY

  2. Bluenose Dodger says:

    Mark, your question is difficult to answer because it is difficult to establish precedents. That is, same type of personnel, same results, same era, etc.

    However, as we are reduced to opinion, which is all we ever really have, regardless of statistics, WAR or whatever, or other emperical evidence, we have to acknowledge each new season begins as a total unknown. So many factors enter into the season, many coming unexpectedly, that about all we can do is try to make a better educated guess than someone else.

    Was last year a trend for our team? I would say, no. I don’t know how so many players could tank at the same time and stay tanked. That is unusual and not a trend in itself. I can’t even hazzard a guess why it happened, but I do feel the “no show” for Manny was a crucial element in our downfall. Was it his fault? No, but the team was built around him, looking for him to be the power threat that scares pitchers and makes our other hitters better. That plan didn’t work and it is difficult to change the proverbial horse in midstream. At that point, we had no one to really replace him. We saw what he did when he lifted us, and we saw what he did when he didn’t. We were Manny dependent. In my opinion, it would have been better to have started the season without him. This year we come out of ST with a different mindset, Mannyless and a new manager and coaches.

    Why wasn’t our regression a trend? Again, just a gut feeling. Baseball is one hard game to play and most players have ups and downs in their careers. That is why we award comeback players of the year. Our guys were on a downer, for whatever reason, and did so as a team. Although it isn’t a precedent with controlled variables, the 1958 Dodgers went from just about last to become world champions in 1959, without big player changes.Last year Andre’s pinky injury definitely altered his at AB’s. Matt was a mess mentally and now Rihanna is gone. James had every guy and his dog writing about his lack of power.

    Will the big three rebound? Yes, it can’t be any worse. Andre will start fresh and Matt with Davy Lopes’ foot in his backside. James will move back toward Mark Graceness. That is, higher BA and OBP. Mark topped out at 17 homers in a season. James may well too, but he had more RBI in 2010 than Jayson Werth who had 27 homers. Homers are overrated. RBI are not, in my opinion. Wes Parker and Ron Fairly were good first basemen for us playing on teams without excessive power. I think they both have WS rings. Yes, power is needed, not as a priority, but as a possible ever present weapon. It doesn’t have to come from first base.

    Winning is a combination of offense, defense,pitching and heart. IMO again, offense is number four on my list, with pitching and heart at the top. The Giants won last year.It was unexpected, so how did they win? Not on their potent offense. Other than in 1955 and perhaps in 1981, we didn’t have potent offenses. In 1955 we had Duke, Campy, Carl, Pee Wee, Gil, Jackie who did present a potent offense, and yet we won the WS because of the unexpected – Johnny Podres.

    It has been my contention for some time that we will become competitive annually only when we have 3/4 young pitchers of our own and a core of position players homegrown. The twenty years after the 1988 WS would seem to support that contention. Do we have a trend? Yes, I think our pitching is headed in the right direction with Clayton and Chad and a bunch of young arms in the minors. The Zach Lee signing was huge. We don’t know if he will succeed, but we do know the team is willing to invest in draft picks. For the first time in a while have some position players who seem to be on the verge of becoming good MLB Players.

    I do question Ned’s penchant for trying to win too hard and too fast. Hence, paying millions for ageing vets on the downhil slide. I still have confidence in Logan, knowing that, as with players, all of his picks won’t work out and he will have his ups and downs. His plan has been to develop pitchers. Now I think we will see more emphasis on position players and we do have a much higher draft pick this year, because of our down year, not a trend down. Keep in mind, Logan’s first pick, other than Clayton, has not been a very high pick for some time.

  3. lawdog says:

    Bluenose, take a bow! Very good, thoughtful post.

    From where I sit, the Dogs have way too many question maks going into the season if we’re finished restocking the roster. If we’d signed an elite FA outfielder to play left, a young, servicable player to man third base and hit 25 hrs and added a potential “ace” to go with Kurveshaw and the rest, I’d say our chances of going all the way were almost as good as the Phils.

    But what do we really have going into the 2011 season? Kurveshaw might continue to progress and be that true number one pitcher we desperately need. Or, he might remain the same or even regress a little. If that happens, we’re trouble. Billingsly needs to stop throwing so many balls. He needs to develop the control Kurveshaw has been showing us and get ahead in counts and then put batters away with curves out of the strike zone. What will he do? My gut isn’t optimistic, but he has the talent to be as good as Drysdale was if he gets his head together. Kurveshaw and Bills as good as Koufax/Drysdale??? Well we can dream can’t we? If they can stay focused for 7-8 innings each start, why not?

    The rest of the staff will likely be as good as they were last year–which means Kuroda will be great some games and miserable in others, Lilly will be as good as his command allows, and Garland will be good for 200 innings of .500 ball with a 3.85 era if his shoulder isn’t already blown out.

    Our pen is about the same as last year. Some career years by a coupl; in the pen will go a long ways to returning us to a winning tradition.

    The everyday players are still questionable at best. Don’t expect Blake to hit better than .235 with 10 hrs. At his age he’s just all tuckered out and the downward spiral will continue. He’ll hit well in June and thereafter it will be all down hill.

    We’re solid at 1st, RF, CF (unless Kemp returns with his head lodged way up inside his ass again), 2b (Uribe was a good signing although we over paid for him. At least he brings a winning tradition with him.) SS is either a huge plus for us or a disaster. Which version of Furcal will show up? My gut tells me his age and bad back have caught up with him and he will not be the starter come August.

    Let’s hope Gibbons turns into our saviour. I have a good gut feeling about him and I expect he’ll play 135 games, hit .285 with 25 hrs and 85 rbis. If he does that, we’ll contend. If the rest of the question marks do what the Giants did last year, we’ll be in the series.

    But don’t hold your breath. The 88 Dodgers and 2010 Giant teams which play way over their heads all year don’t come around that often. With ownership and a FO more interested in fielding a winner than looting the franchise for their personal gain we’d be looking down at the Phillies already.

    • MillaBlue says:

      I know we are paying Furcal a lot of money. But I sure would like to see him get a lot of rest so he is near 100% in August through October. For the Dodgers to compete in a playoff we need the best baseball Furcal has to offer.

  4. Mark Timmons says:

    BlueNose,

    I’d say you are pretty close to correct.

    Excellent comment.

  5. RogerCraig says:

    You hit the nail on the head – these guys should learn from the adversity of 2010. I look for big years from Kemp, Ethier, Loney, Furcal and Navarro. I also think Casey Blake will be as good as he was in 2009. I’m excited to see what happens. The McCourt fiasco will play out and he’s be in or out. Until then, I’ll focus on the field, not the owners’ box.

  6. Willie Mays says:

    I hate the Dodgers – you can all die for all I care. I just wish we had Juan Uribe back. He’s better than you losers deserve. I’ll bet you want that loser LaRoche back. The friggin’ A’s signed him. Too late!

  7. ken says:

    Good to see the Dodgers will have a mini-camp for pitchers. That should make up for them once again being the last team to report to ST.

    Too bad Broxton is not currently scheduled to attend. A Really BAD sign.

    Anyone for trading Loney and Kershaw for Pujols?

    Now that Sir John is posting on Dodger Divorce that should mean that the Divorce is a relevant topic.

  8. DodgerDude says:

    The divorce is relevant, but some guys just get fixated on it. Try and be balanced.

  9. Jae says:

    Fixated?

    That’s a kind word for obsessed.

  10. Bobby says:

    i think blue said what most of us are thinking (but can’t express as well as him!)

  11. MillaBlue says:

    First of all, this Willie Mays guy is my hero. Man it is so cool to write stuff like that on blogs. It is great to be you today!

    James Loney – How long have we been talking about Loney reaching power potential? Between he and Blake at the corners were we the worst in the league in power numbers? Man it killed us. It’s gotta be “do it or it’s time to go” for James. And I’m not talking a .300 BA and 90 RBIs. We need a game changing 25+ homer guy like everyone else.

    Matt Kemp – I am beginning to think he is mental. And not the good mental. The really great athlete that thinks he is better than he is and ends up owning a car lot mental. I think this is THE YEAR for Kemp. Get out there and be really good or we’ll let someone else deal with you. Not sure your attitude is for the greater good.

    Andre Ethier – I worry about him the least. I think he puts up solid numbers and will be a Dodger for many years.

    If our pitching holds up, and we are in a position to trade for a front line SP and a power bat late in the year anything can happen. No way are the 2010 Giants better on paper if we better ourselves with these late season trades and look what they accomplished!

  12. Mark Timmons says:

    MB,

    It’s put up or shut up time for these guys.

  13. Bobby says:

    w/o steroids, i think it’d be hard for loney to go from 8hr to 25hr.

    however, a realistic year from him can be .320, 15hr, and 110 rbi. he was on pace for over 120 last year till he took a 3 month vacation from july thru sept (like most of our team). those numbers while he bats 5th or 6th would be totally acceptable. he needs to hit well with RISP, as he’ll have kemp and ethier batting ahead of him.

    i think it’s realistic to expect bounce back years from kemp and ethier, but it’s not realistic to expect that from blake, the catching trio, or gwynn/gibbons/thames, etc.

    we need to HOPE that the guys at 3b, C, and LF have good years, while we should EXPECT the guys at 1b, 2b, SS (if healthy), RF, and CF to have solid to good years.

    we should expect kersh/bills to become a solid 1 and 2, if not a great 2 and 3. (we need to hope it’s 1 and 2). we should expect kuroda and lilly to be good 3 and 4. we hope garland is healthy to be a great #5.

    the giants did not expect people like ross, burrell, torres, etc to do what they did in august/sept/oct. they hoped for it, and got it, and in the process got themselves a ring. that’s the difference. if all goes as expected, we have a better offense than they do.

    sometimes you just have to expect your top players to have good years, and if they don’t, you’re basically screwed. if kobe and pau suck, lakers dont do anything. last year, our best players stunk the 2nd half. there’s no way we could have done anything with all of them sucking it up.

    if 2011 produces similar years from kemp, ethier, and loney, then we can say they’ve regressed, and that’s just who they are. hopefully 2010 was an aberration, and not the norm from those guys.

  14. Bobby Ray says:

    How do you guys question Logan White’s expertise? He’s only the reason why the Dodgers can field the team they can right now. If it weren’t for him who knows where this team would be. Ftr, Matt Kemp was a 5th Rd pick and he’s already won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award. How many 1st Rd picks can claim that? Blame Logan White for that pick too.

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