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Spring Training – Where Hope Springs Eternal

Spring Training – Where Hope Springs Eternal

Yesterday, Don Mattingly showed me that he’s no dummy by naming Clayton Kershaw the Opening Day Starter and Jon Broxton the Dodgers’  closer.  I have been as staunch a proponent of Clayton as I have been an opponent of Jon.  It turns out that Broxton’sstruggles were mental – which was what I have always said.  I can smell the fear emanating from him in tight games (you didn’t believe me that I could see it in his eyes – maybe you’ll believe I can smell it!).   I’ll be rooting for him, because if J-Brox can pitch up to his potential, this will be one great team.

I still wonder what people would be saying about Frank McCourt right about now, IF Manny Ramirez had not been injured and  lost him “Mannyability” and if the entire starting lineup of the Dodgers had not underperformed and if the bullpen had not imploded in 2010.  Many baseball fans blame much of what happened last year on Joe Torre, and I am certainly in that camp, but if the Dodgers had played up to their capabilities, and if the pen hadn’t imploded and Manny hadn’t died, in all likelihood the Dodgers could have been playing the Phillies again for the NLCS.  I wonder what people would be saying about Frank McCourt right about now?  But we know what happened – The Offense Tanked, The Bullpen Blew and Manny Evaporated!   There had to be a scapegoat, and Dodger fans found an easy one – Frank McCourt.  The Dastardly Divorce brought out all sorts of facts and allegations and it became apparent to most people that Frank McCourt needed to be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.  It was all Frank McCourt’s fault.

Then the allegations really started piling up (some true, some not so true):

  • “It was that Damn McCourt who caused all this.”
  • “He’s looting the team.”
  • “He’s stealing from the taxpayers.”
  • “The IRS is investigating.”
  • “The Dodgers are bankrupt!”
  • “The farm system is depleted.”
  • “The Dodgers are cutting jobs.”
  • “The Dodgers didn’t go to spring training until today to save utility costs.”
  • and on and on.

If the Dodgers had went to the NLCS last year, the talk of the off-season certainly wouldn’t be focused on McCourt.  Was it McCourts’ fault?  I think we are about to find out.  The Dodgers are 5th or 6th in the NL in Payroll this year.  Here’s an interesting stat:  Of the teams with the Top 6 Payrolls in the NL, only 2 of the teams made the playoffs.  I guess that was McCourt’s fault too?

But, it’s Spring Training and hope springs eternal.  Here’s my question:  If the Dodgers bounce back (and I realize that most of you are saying they won’t) and go to the NLCS, what happens to all the blame?  Are you going to give McCourtcredit?  It’s a rhetorical question, I suppose.  If Ned had pulled the trigger and replaced Torre mid-season, we may not have been calling for Frank to be lynched.  A manager or coach can make a huge difference.  Case-in-point:  I live in Indianapolis, Indiana and the Indiana Pacers were a horrible floundering team under Jim O’Brien.  Once Larry Bird fired his buddy and replaced him with Frank Vogel (an assistant), the team has went 7-3 and  lost to the Miami Heat twice, and barely at that.  The change of coach made a huge difference.  The Pacers aren’t Championship Caliber, but they were much better than they showed.  They have been playing with a new zeal for the new coach.

I have a feeling you will see a re-energized and exciting team on the field this year with “Dodgers” on their uniforms.  Frank McCourt says he is committed to putting a winner on the field.  Matt Kemp is looking to step up and be a leader.  Hes not making excuses for last year but he’s planning on a big season.  James and Andre also want a slice of that pie.  Raffy and Casey need to be healthy – don’t think for a minute that the both can’t have good years.  In fact, I look for it!  However, it will be the Young Guns who determine what will happen, and  the Dodgers will rise and fall on the shoulders of the Great Eight:

  • James Loney
  • Matt Kemp
  • Andre Ethier
  • Jon Broxton
  • Clayton Kershaw
  • Chad Billingsley
  • Kenley Jansen
  • Hong-chih Kuo

This bounceback season will serve up a heaping helping of crow to all the naysayers.  Spit out the feathers!

About Mark Timmons

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

15 Responses to “Spring Training – Where Hope Springs Eternal”

  1. Captain Loose says:

    You can smell it.

    You know, when you say things like this it makes it that much more difficult to take you seriously.

    The fact that Jon’s problems started shortly after being overused by Torre is not even remotely connected to his problems?

    IF the Dodgers had played to their capability. Do you know how many teams can say the same thing? The team that wins is the team that not only DOES play to their capability, but is able to go the extra mile when the pressure is on. The overachieving World Champion Giants are the in-your-face example of that. The Dodgers folded.

    Do you really want to talk about McCourt? I suspect not.

    The Pacers. Yeah, right.

    I didn’t see you spitting any feathers last year – but I did hear you spitting excuses.

    I too look forward to this season. It could indeed be a bounceback year. I won’t be that surprised if it is. Let me say that again, I WON’T BE SURPRISED IF IT IS. But, the Dodgers could also be as good as most people outside of L.A. think they will be. 85 wins is still the O/U for this club. Power Rankings have them right in the middle.

    If Blake and Furcal, IF we find a two hole hitter, IF Kemp, IF Ethier, IF Loney, IF Uribe, IF the bullpen….

    still a lot of IF’s…………

  2. RogerCraig says:

    Maybe he doesn’t mean for you to take him seriously. You know what? I’ve been reading the baseball predictions and every team has a lot of “ifs.” I don’t think the Dodgers are any different. Some teams will have their ifs answered positively and others negatively.

  3. Bill Russell says:

    I hear what your saying Captain, but Broxton brought on his own issues last year. Yes he was left in some games too long because he couldn’t throw strikes and get people out. If he did his job in a orderly fashion, he wouldn’t have been over used. If Torre would have pulled him out of the games, then some would have said “Joe ruined his confidence by pulling him out when the game was on the line.” Other crys would have been “He’s our closer and he needs to be supported and left in to the end.” Joe was caught between a rock and a hard place with Broxton. Joe may have screwed up other area’s of the team last year but Jon needs to step up to the plate on this issue an accept responsability. Better yet, Jon needs to throw strikes over the plate when he needs to. I hope Jon can become the Black Swan of the Dodgers this year. The Dodgers should have figured out a way to toughen him up in the off season. Marshall Arts? Rodeo Riding? Running with the Bulls? Well the second two are probably too extreme.

    • Captain Loose says:

      Bill, you just don’t leave your 100 mph closer in for 48 pitches in one inning. That’s idiocy. And there is more to that story:

      on the 23rd of June he threw 24 pitches. He pitched again the next day, 8 pitches, got one day off then on 26th he threw 19 pitches, then the following day he threw 48. 99 pitches in 5 days. He was able to go a few more games after that, then he fell apart with another 44 pitch inning in mid July. Torre is an idiot. At least he was in this scenario.

      • Bill Russell says:

        Captain,
        We beat this horse last year and couldn’t agree so I guess we’ll just have to chalk it up to not agreeing on this one. He declined before the time peroid you are referring to however.

        Joe should have pulled him out of the Yankee game. That was painful to watch, and pretty much all the games after that as well. I’m on board with Johnny this year. I just hope he got some mental theropy this winter.

        • Captain Loose says:

          “He declined before the time peroid you are referring to however.”

          Really? Are you sure? I mean, did you actually look it up or are you just guessing? Because when I looked it up, this is what I found:

          http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/players/gamelog?playerId=6370

          He had an ERA of 0.83 for the first two and half months of the season and it ballooned to over 2 in about a week. What week you ask? Take a look. And.. you, like Mark, don’t think there is a connection?

          Do you smell something too? I sure do.

          Heck yes he should have taken him out. 99 pitches in 5 days is ok with you? Your closer should get the job done with 20 pitches or less. If he doesn’t, get somebody ready fast and get him out there. Torre blew it. And yes, I too hope Jon is ok. We’ll see.

          • Bill Russell says:

            I was thinking the Yankee game was after the Allstar break but you are correct he didn’t decline before the break. BUT, if Joe blow out his arm (as I think you are saying), why did he pitch effectively from July 3rd thur Jul 9th? This was after the 99 pitch period before the Allstar game. Then on Jul 18th after the break, he lost the game to St Louis, lost the game in SF on the 20th and lost the game again on Jul 31th against SF. He went downhill after July 18th. Did it take time for his tired arm to kick in? Did he eat bad Mexican food in St Louis during the Allstar Break? Did he get scared seeing all the big bats during the Allstar game? Something else happened. He lost his confidence after the break.

            Again, yes Torre should have yanked him from the 48 pitch Yankee game.

  4. Roger Dodger says:

    Mark, here is the deal.

    Big A plus for McCourt to bring in Manny when he did (having the Red Sox pay a lot of that salary as I remember) –

    But, now no Manny or Manny type hitter in the lineup nor in camp.

    McCourt could have mended many fences if he would have signed or traded for the big needed bat over the winter — or brings in one now.

    As discussed many times over the past winter Stove League — The Dodgers are basically fine except for C, 3B, and LF. (assuming Uribe is at 2nd) And no matter how you line up those positions with two players . . . the Dodgers do not have established key plays there. We call those holes in the lineup.

  5. Ken says:

    Responsible owners accept the words of Harry S. Turman. “The buck stops here”.

    Frank was the main problem last year because he did not acknowldege that the buck stopped at his desk. He should have fired Torre when anyone with a brain could see that both Torre and Bob could no longer function at the MLB level.

    Maybe if the Dodger’s record is actually better than the Oriole’s in 2011 the public will accrpt the truth about 2010.

  6. Roger Dodger says:

    Ken, glad you mentioned Baltimore. I think they might have some interesting ball games this season.

    I do not know about their pitching, except that all of them are over 6 foot tall.

    Catching, I do not know.

    But the other 7 have promise:

    Derrek Lee, Brian Roberts, JJ Hardy, Mark Reynolds, Adam Jones in center, Nick Markakis in right. Left field looks like the Dodgers. And Luke Scott with 27 HR last year as the DH; 25 and 23 the years before that.

    They could score a bunch a runs. Probably more than the Dodgers.

  7. Captain Loose says:

    Bill, I think it did indeed take a few more innings after the 99 pitches for Broxton to achieve maximum overload. Torre should be hung by his thumbs for what he did. I am glad he is gone, and I sure hope Mattingly does not handle pitchers the same way Joe did.

    Balmore has my favorite 3rd baseman now…. Mark Reynolds! The guy did more with a .198 batting average than Casey Blake did with his .240 avg. – 32 dingers, 79 runs scored and 85 rbi’s on a team that hardly ever had anyone on base. Think what Reynolds could do on a team with some OBP guys. I look for him to hit 40 with 100 ribbies again. I look for Blake to be ridin’ pine by August the 1th.

  8. Roger Dodger says:

    Captain, but riding the pine — but in which city???

    • Captain Loose says:

      L.A.. I just don’t think he will last the season. He will blow a wheel bearing sometime this summer.

  9. Roger Dodger says:

    It Jr. can field and hit at all, and be a spark on the field — Jr. could take over at 2nd base and Juan at 3rd — if they work — Casey IS on the bench, or even traded. Watch the injury list of other teams.

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