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?