Results tagged ‘ Hanley Ramirez ’
It’s set. Dodgers will face off the St Louis Cardinals in the NLCS. Both teams had tough challenges and gotten through them which proved them to be worthy of getting to this stage. The changes in the League Championship Series, Instead of a 5 game series we now have a 7 game series in a 2-3-2 format. Last round in the NLDS the Dodgers faced the Braves where they manage to eliminate Atlanta in 5 games. This allowed the Dodgers to get the extra days rest they needed and wait to see who their opponent would be in the NLCS. Now we have our teams but what are the matchups looking like between the two teams. Lets preview our NLCS Series between St Louis and Los Angeles.
The Cardinals pitching staff is no joke when you look at the names but during Postseason it’s a tail of the Bullpen and Starting pitching. Starting pitching wise the Cardinals have a decent staff posting a 3.42 ERA during the regular season. Postseason wise starters are pitching a 3.38 ERA. It’s not a deadly rotation but the Cardinals starters are no joke. St Louis Ace Adam Wainwright has been pitching great in the 2 games he started in the Postseason, pitching a 1.13 ERA. In game 5 of the NLDS vs Pittsburgh he pitched a complete game in the win. In his only start vs the Dodgers Wainwright gave up 7 hits and 3 Earned Runs in a game where he was given the loss. Joe Kelly, who will be starting game 1, has been lights out the past two months going 9-2 with a ERA of 2.06. Game three vs the Pirates he gave up 5 hits and 2 Earned Runs in a 5-3 loss. Kelly has also pitched 2 games against the Dodgers as well with only one of them being a start (5-1 win on Aug 6th in St Louis) and the other as a bullpen appearance in the 5-3 loss in Los Angeles. Another guy we can’t forget is Micheal Wacha. For those who aren’t familiar Wacha is the rookie who No hit the Washington Nationals through 8 innings and went 7 innings without giving up a hit against the Pirates in Game 4 of the NLDS. Wacha hasn’t faced the Dodgers this season but he will present a great challenge for Dodger batters. When you look at the St Louis bullpen you’ll see a different story. St Louis bullpen have pitched a 2.45 ERA this postseason giving up 4 runs with 3 of them being earned. During the regular season this bullpen pitched a 3.45 ERA with a 20-19 record and 44 saves. As a staff the St Louis has had trouble with Dodger batters in the 7 game they have played in the regular season, pitching a 4.21 ERA against Los Angeles.
The Dodgers on the other hand go into the NLCS with a good rotation but questions in their bullpen. Los Angeles is pitching a 3.09 ERA this postseason. Dodger starters this postseason pitch a 2.73 ERA from their 3 that played in the NLDS against the Braves. With this being a 7 game series the Dodgers will now have to use all 4 of their pitchers. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly announced that Zack Greinke would start Game 1 in St Louis. Greinke started Game 2 of the NLDS against the Braves and had a solid outing against the Braves but the run support just wasn’t there for him. Greinke made a start against the Cardinals back on August 5th in St Louis. In that game he went 6 innings giving up 8 hits 2 earned runs and had 4 strikeouts in the win against St Louis (3-2 Win). Clayton Kershaw, who will be starting Game 2, has continued his dominance in his two starts in the Postseason pitching a 0.69 ERA with 18 Strikeouts. Kershaw however has had trouble against the Cardinals doping both starts he made against St Louis, Pitching a 4.15 ERA against St Louis and giving up 13 hits (The most against a team outside the NL West.). Game 3 will have to be decided between Rickey Nolasco and Hyun Jin Ryu. Nolasco was expected to start Game 4 of the NLDS until the choice was made to go with Kershaw in the closeout game. Ryu started Game 3 of the NLDS and was very shaky in his start giving up 6 hits and 4 earned runs through 3 innings. Both pitchers have started against the Cardinals and has had success. Ryu in his only start gave up 5 hits, 1 run, and had 7 strikeouts in the win at St Louis where Nolasco in his two starts pitches a 0.75 ERA against St Louis. When it comes to the bullpen the Dodgers will have to be on their A game. With JP Howell, Brian Wilson, and Kenley Jansen pitching well you think things will be alright..right? Well anyone outside of that has struggled, giving up hits and putting the team in bad positions to work with or giving up runs. Left off the roster for the NLCS is Chris Capuano and Paco Rodriguez while Edinson Volquez and Carlos Marmol are in. That leaves JP Howell as the only LHP in the pen. The Dodgers pitching staff against St Louis has had a lot of success, Pitching a 3.05 ERA against Cardinal batters.
The Cardinals have been known as a consistent hitting team and their ability to score runs is nothing to take lightly at all. During the regular season the Cardinals were in 3rd the NL in runs scored. The reason for that is how they’re able to hit with RISP (Runners In Scoring Position), batting .333 which is a NL best. Postseason however the Cardinals go into their series with the Dodgers batting .209. Looking at players like Pete Kozma, Matt Holiday, Yadier Molina , Matt Adams, and Carlos Beltran you don’t have room to sleep against them but one player you have to watch for is David Freese and Matt Carpenter. While both players are batting low averages in Postseason they’re still dangerous hitters in October and can strike in big moments that can shift momentum. The Cardinals also have some flaws with their batting that could haunt them in this series and that’s the inability of St Louis being able to hit against Left Handed Pitching. St Louis bats .238 against LHP which favors the Dodgers as they have two LHP in their rotation (Clayton Kershaw and Hyun Jin Ryu). Against the Dodgers St Louis struggled during the 7 game regular season series only batting .237. While they have struggled swinging the bat St Louis can strike at anytime which makes them a pretty scary team.
The Dodgers have been really lighting it up in the Postseason with their hitting .333 in their last series. Being led by guys like Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez, and Adrian Gonzalez the Dodgers have really been hitting. If you look at this team going into the NLCS things could really swing in their favor. The Cardinals have no Left Hand Pitcher in their rotation which is great for guys like Carl Crawford (Struggled against LHP this season.). Another thing you can look at is the return of Andre Ethier. Andre didn’t start a game in the NLDS due to an ankle injury but pinched hit in certain situations when he was needed. Speaking of Hanley Ramirez he has been hitting the ball really good as well. In the NLDS against the Braves Hanley hit 6 extra bases in the series which was key for Los Angeles. Another guy who has been hitting well is Juan Uribe. Uribe is hitting .375 in the Postseason with 2 HR and 4 RBI’s. One of his home runs was the 8th inning shot that lifted the Dodgers to the NLCS. Los Angeles bat .280 against the Cardinals in the 7 game regular season series and that’s without Hanley Ramirez.
As stated many times the Dodgers and Cardinals met 7 times during the regular season with the Dodgers taking the regular season series 4-3. When it comes to postseason these teams have seen a lot of each other in the NLDS. Last two postseason meetings the Dodgers faced the Cardinals in the 2004 and 2009 NLDS with both teams splitting one each(Dodgers in 2009 and Cardinals in 2004). Last time these two teams met in the NLCS was back in 1985 when it was moved to 7 Games. The Cardinals won the series 4-2.
If you look at this matchup on paper it’s really evenly matched. The Dodgers are going in with hot bats and two aces starting games One and Two while the Cardinals go in with a rotation that has been pretty good and a Lineup that can strike at anytime. Cardinals are a fundamentally sound team and has been here before (3rd Straight NLCS appearance) but the Dodgers also have a veteran team while making their first NLCS appearance since 2009. I believe it will com down to who can be consistent and the Bullen. This series can go either way.
Dodgers in 6
In a season full of expectations and a new era of Dodger baseball there has been a lot of umm Drama around the Los Angeles Dodgers. If you looked at the roster you’d think this team would be in first place in the NL West by the All-Star break right? Right now as of today the Dodgers find themselves 2.5 Games out of first place which is being held by the Arizona Diamondbacks and are 4.5 Games back of the Wild Card. They also have a record of 47-47. So you might be wondering what on earth happened? Let me answer your question with this: A LOT! The start of the 2013 Season seemed very promising after opening day but from then on things kind’ve sent south. Losing games due to lack of offensive and defensive production, Bullpen issues, Mismanagement of the team, and Injuries were the main issues that hurt the Dodgers in the first half of the season. It seemed like an ever lasting nightmare from April to Mid June. It got to the point where the Dodgers found themselves below .500 and 9.5 games out of 1st place in the NL West. Come Late June things took a turn for the better. Lets break down the 1st half of the Dodgers 2013 season.
Injuries: Dodgers kept getting hit with Injuries left and right. From the begining of the season and on the Dodgers have struggled to keep healthy and that has hurt the Dodgers from producing. Think of it like this, Pretty much majority of the Dodgers roster has been on the DL at some point. Hanley, Kemp, Crawford, Aj Ellis, Scott Van Slyke. The group that took the hardest hit when it comes to injuries has to be Pitching. At the start of the season the Dodgers had Starting Pitchers like there was no tomorrow but with injuries that number quickly fell. Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett will miss the season which hurt the 4 and 5 pitching spot before the Nolasco trade, Zack Greinke broke his collar-bone in the bench clearing fight with Carlos Quentin and the San Diego Padres, and Fife/Capuano missing time as well. Last season the Dodgers injuries cost them and this season it has hurt them at the start.
Lack of production and bad play: Outside of injuries the lack of production was another thing that killed the Dodgers. Whenever there were runners in scoring position it seems as if the Dodgers failed capitalize on the chance given. Yes we all understand about the injuries and pitching but there’s no excuse for the Dodgers not getting runs when the chance is there. Leaving men on base, below average with RISP, It just doesn’t add up with a Line up like this. This season Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier who are usually key factors have really under produced and many Dodger fans aren’t happy about it. Lack of bench production hasn’t been all that great either and defensively the team just hard to watch. Overall it was just bad baseball.
Pitching issues and Bullpen Problems: Where can I start? Well lets put this out there the 1-2-3 Starting pitching slot was not an issue at all. We kind’ve got that but when it comes to the 4-5 spot and bullpen….thats a different story. The Dodgers came into the season with a loaded starting pitching staff and a bullpen that was one of the best in the NL last season. As the season went it was the complete opposite of that. Chad Billingsley went down to an ongoing arm injury that required Tommy John Surgery, Josh Beckett was winless during the season after he had an amazing Spring Training. A nerve injury forced him to have surgery and miss the season as well. As for Ted Lilly? He continues to struggle with injuries and had multiple rehab stints and continues to have a set back. Steven Fife tends to have solid outings and has potental but Chris Capuano has been very inconsistent and has given up a lot of hits in his outings. The bullpen on the other hand as really been an issue for the most part of the season. Josh Wall who is no longer with the team has really not helped and struggled before being sent down and later traded in the Ricky Nolasco deal. Ronald Belisario has hurt the Dodgers and come in only to give up hits and runs. His ERA has sky rocketed as the season went but seems to get the hang of things towards the break. Brandon League on the other hand as took a complete turn south. After closing games last season and showing that he can be a solid reliever League has blown saves left and right. Many of us kept wondering why Mattingly sending him out to close games but finally he got it together and had Jansen as closer. Jansen out of the two is a no brainer right there to have as closer. The Dodgers also brought up guys like Chris Withrow and Jose Dominguez who can really throw the ball in the high 90′s. Paco Rodriguez and JP Howell also have had solid outings and can also get the team out of innings as well so things won’t be all doom and gloom for the pen from the looks of it. As far as Starting pitching? The Ricky Nolasco deal solidified their Number 4 starting pitching but still the 5 spot is the big question mark.
Puigmania- Something uplifting here that really took Los Angeles and the Baseball world by storm. Yasiel Puig. They hype started up when he played in rookie leagues and Single A but it was Spring Training where many started to hop on the bandwagon after posting impressive numbers but due to the lack of room for him on the 25 man roster Puig, As expected my many scouts, was sent to Double A Chattanooga for more development. Once the injuries hit the Dodgers Yasiel Puig was called up to the Dodgers and from there everything played itself out. Puig lived up to the hype he generated batting above .400 while playing and exciting fans around baseball. Before All-Star Break he had many write his name in on the All-Star ballot and came in 2nd in the Last Chance vote. Yeah he didn’t make the All-Star game but his presence provided a spark for the Dodgers that helped them make up ground in the NL West.
From 9.5 to 2.5: By June 21st the Dodgers found themselves 9.5 games back of the NL West and pretty much left for dead by many but when June 22nd hit things changed. The Dodgers would go on and hit a streak that would really shape up the NL West for them. Winning 17-22 Games from June 22nd to July 14th. The Dodgers ended up gaining ground on the Padres, Giants, and Rockies in that stretch of games. Now that Los Angeles find themselves in a great position come All-Star break it’ll be interesting to see what they can do in the 2nd half of the season.
For many Southern California natives its a dream to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Only few get the chance to do so. Come tomorrow one of them will get that chance to live their dream. Saturday the Dodgers and Marlins completed a trade that sent RHP Ricky Nolasco to Los Angeles for 3 Prospects in Steven Ames, Angel Sanchez, and Josh Wall. The Marlins has Nolasco on the trade block since early June and it was rumored that the Dodgers, Giants, and Padres were one of the many teams that were interested in trading for him. For Nolasco this is a dream come true to play for the team he grew up cheering for and watching.
For the Dodgers this was a no brainer to make the trade for Nolasco and the price wasn’t steep at all. Los Angeles has lost numerous Starting Pitchers to injury and is struggling with the 4-5 rotation of starting pitching. Nolasco right now is currently pitching 5-8 with a 3.85 but as shown before a change of scenery can really change things (Hanley was batting .247 with Miami before being traded to L.A.). This Tuesday Ricky Nolasco will make his Dodger debut in the middle of the Dodgers hot streak.
Nolasco’s dream has came true and now it’s time for him to step up and help this Dodger team continue it’s push for the NL West. We all know this isn’t the last move the Dodgers will make to improve the team but this could be the start of the Dodgers getting really active in the market like last season. For now Ricky Nolasco will have the chance to help this Dodger team and fill a void that was left by injuries. Ricky Nolasco Welcome to the Dodgers
The Dodgers have not gotten off to the start many of us would imagine. At the moment are 7-8 which is a game below .500 which record wise you can work with. Well if you’ve seen the Dodgers play then you’d feel like it’s a lot worse than that. Los Angeles have really been struggling with their bats and bullpen. It’s really frustrating to watch and it’s an ongoing thing. In the series against the Diamondbacks and Padres (in LA) The Dodgers have been having issues hitting with RISP (Runners In Scoring Position) and Pitching (Mainly Bullpen). The Dodgers will be in Baltimore for the weekend series against the Orioles and the chance for them to get their act together is out there with the DH rule in effect. As of now we just want to know what is going on with the Dodgers. Why are they struggling so much? Who is to blame for such struggles with the team? Is this an easy fix and what can be done about it? Well let me tell you this in advance. The answer is not Trading Ethie or Kemp, Brining up Puig, or Firing Don Mattingly.
Offensive Struggles: Yes the Dodgers are facing the same problem they did last season. Leaving men on base, failing to score runs, even getting on base at times. Currently the Dodgers 28th in the MLB in Batting Average with RISP (.171). How the way I look at it is based on the line up Mattingly puts out there. You have Carl Crawford and Mark Ellis who have done a good job getting on base. Then you have Matt Kemp who is having a slow start to the season. Just when you think Kemp will knock the runs in he either grounds into a double play or flies out to the point where the runners can’t advance. It’s not just Kemp that is doing it but all over the line up. The Dodgers can not keep this issue if they want to win games. They have good hitters we all know this but whether they’re in the right place in the line up or not. I think Mattingly should move some players around and see if it works to affect because what they have currently isn’t working and that showed the last two series.
Bullpen issues: Oh where do I start with this one? It looks as if the Box of Pain have made is return and adding more fuel to the fire than helping put it away. The Dodgers Bullpen have been a serious issue right now with all the hits and runs being given up. The Dodgers bullpen have an ERA of 4.02 (15 in MLB). While that’s middle of the pack it seems a lot worse when watching. The last series against the Padres the Dodgers pitching had a bad series overall in what many would like to say a “Throw away series”. Not much can really be done with the bullpen at this point but they have to help the Dodgers stay in position to win ball games.
I still think the Dodgers will get things in order. Thursday the Dodgers got a day off as they traveled to Baltimore. Hopefully this game they can play better and keep themselves at a respectable position. Yes it is early Dodger fans but you have to remember that April games are important as well so there has to come a point where they must get it together. Right now the Dodgers on the pitching end are hurting with Zack Greinke out till June and Chris Capuano on the 15 DL but batting/Position wise Hanley Ramirez is making his return really soon. Hopefully he could provide the help the Dodger offense need. At 7-8 the Dodgers can turn it around with two good series on the road trip So anything could happen. It’s early but Dodgers MUST get things flowing here.
On March 27th It would have been exactly one year when Guggenheim Baseball Management bought the Los Angeles Dodgers from Frank McCourt. A group led by Magic Johnson, Stan Kasten, and Mark Walter did something that many Dodger fans wanted to happen and that’s take the Dodgers from Frank McCourt. One year later the Dodgers are n much better shape than it was under the old owner. Instead of waiting till the 27th to talk about this I figured I go ahead and make this post to look at what the Dodger ownership has done in one year. As many remember the Dodger Franchise was under such uncertainty. Frank and Jamie McCourt going through a nasty divorce that really hurt the franchise, Dodgers going bankrupt due to the owner taking the money for his personal whatever it was, Half empty stadium due to fans boycotting McCourt, Everything was just a complete mess. A historic franchise hitting rock bottom due to one man and failed duties has an owner. Come the off-season after the 2011 Season the hot topic wasn’t only Free Agency but the bidding for the Dodgers. While the Dodgers couldn’t make any noise in the Off-Season with signings many believed that once they got a new owner Los Angeles was going to be the “Yankees” of the west (Hate that). The fate of a Franchise rest in the hands of the MLB as they had the final say on who will take control of the Dodgers and the Stadium.
Come the night of March 27th everything changed. News had broken that Magic Johnson and his group had won bidding for the Dodgers and Dodger Stadium. Many fans rejoiced as not only someone bought the Dodgers but a man familiar with the city and passion Los Angeles has with this team. Magic, Stan Kasten, and Mark Walter all talked about how they were committed to restoring Dodger pride. Many were saying that it would take a while before the Dodgers get to where they should due to the damage left by McCourt but it’s all worth it. This group was bound to make the Los Angeles Dodgers a First Class Franchise that would win for years to come.
In a span of one year Dodgers ownership have really brought this franchise a long ways back than expected. The Dodgers have the players to contend once they acquired Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, Carl Crawford, Zack Greinke, and Josh Beckett stating that money wouldn’t be an issue for players to win right now. They’re also getting back to the International market with signings of Hyun Jin Ryu (Korea) and Yasiel Puig (Cuba) as well as restocking the Minor League system for the future. Off the field Dodger Stadium is undergoing much-needed renovations to make the 51 Year Old stadium state of the art. They’re also doing more get in touch with the fans which was a major key that the Dodgers missed under the old ownership. Players are greeting fans at the gates as they enter the Stadium, Fan Fest’s being held for fans to further get in touch with this franchise, as well as Dodger legends roaming all over the place in the Stadium. As if that wasn’t enough the Dodgers struck a deal with Time Warner to get their own Channel. You can say that the Dodgers came a long way from where they were in 2010 and 2011. This franchise is really going up and the future can’t be any brighter for this team right now. I for one am happy that Ownership is keeping their word to bring this Franchise back and the icing on the cake would be a World Series Title come October.
The Pitchers are now out the way in our 2013 Preview so now the REAL fun begins. As we continue on with the 2013 Preview we’ll take a look at the Infield. This was an area where the Dodgers really needed help at last season when it came to batting. The production wasn’t all there for them when the summer hit but the Dodgers basically did their work to bring in the likes of Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez. Luis Cruz also stepped up and became a hidden gem last season as well. This season not much needs to be done and production is expected to be better. Lets take a look at the Dodgers infield.
2012 Review- Going into last season the Dodgers were lacking production from the Infield big time but at the start of the 2012 Season James Loney, Mark Ellis, Dee Gordon, and even Juan Uribe were producing in the early part. AJ Ellis was also making his case that season even finding himself in the discussion for the NL All-Star team. Once the summer came things took a turn south. Mark Ellis ended up missing time due to a leg injury suffered in the first Cardinals series, Juan Uribe and Jame Loney weren’t producing very good at all, Dee Gordon was struggling hitting and defensively. So many things happened where it hurt the Dodgers in games but Stan Kasten and Ned Coletti weren’t going to sit back and wait till winter meetings. In the heat of a NL West Race the Dodgers worked to make moves and managed to strike gold through Trade and call ups. Luis Cruz came up from Triple A and didn’t disappoint when given the chance. He was a huge spark in the Dodgers season come the second half. Another huge trade was the Dodgers acquiring Hanley Ramirez from the Miami Marlins after they had a fire sale. Hanley’s numbers went up along with his production causing Dee to be sent down to Triple A for more coaching. In late August the Dodgers also struck with another blockbuster deal this time with the Boston Red Soxs that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Nick Punto, Josh Beckett, and Carl Crawford to L.A. and James Loney, Jerry Sands, and Ruby De La Rosa to Boston. After that the Dodgers still struggled until they heated up for a little bit until elimination but they showed a lot of promise.
offseason Not much was done in the Off-season because it was done over the summer. Dodgers traded for utility player Skip Shoumaker from the Cardinals in the off-season. Another addition made was the hire of hitting coach Mark McGwire who helped the Cardinals become one of the Top offenses in the NL. McGwire will have the task of helping a loaded Dodger line up this coming season.
Utility Skip Shumaker- Shumaker who was brought to the Dodgers via Trade from the St Louis Cardinals. While Shumaker will likely see time in the outfield it isn’t hard to see him play some second base or anything If Injuries hit. This was the only addition made but it is a solid one at that. In St Louis Skip was batting .279 with 1 HR and 28 RBI’s so he may not be the home run threat but he does make contact and get on base.
3 Questions to be Answered
1) Will Luis Cruz repeat his 2012 Season?- This has to be the main and key question right here. Will Cruz repeat what he did in the 2013 Season? Last season Cruz came out of nowhere and had a very good season for the Dodgers to where he will be starting at 3rd Base this coming season. Batting .297 with 6 HR and 40 RBI’s Cruz brought energy to the Dodgers and fans fell in love with him. Defensively he brought it as well at 3rd Base. This year there will be expectations from him. If he can repeat what he did last season consistently then he will be fine. Cruz have been working hard but the results is something we will see. If not then we could see Jerry Hairston Jr or Juan Uribe at 3rd.
2) Will Hanley have some success at shortstop?- Another question that many are wondering and that’s Hanley Ramirez and Shortstop. During the Caribbean World Series Hanley not only struggled batting but struggled defensively at 3rd base. Last season before he came to the Dodgers the Marlins moved him to 3rd base for defensive reasons. Hanley will be at shortstop and is willing to get it to work defensively which is a great sign. If he can step up then Hanley will be there for most of the season but I won’t be a bit surprised if he gets moved to third and Cruz goes to shortstop the moment he struggles.
3) AJ Ellis bound to produce again?- Last year some were high on AJ Ellis and he didn’t disappoint at all. He was one of the top players in the NL in terms of OBP (On Base Percentage). Defensively AJ was average and he needs work on blocking the plate better. This is another key at the bottom of the line up. Ellis needs to get on base in order for the team to have further success. AJ I believe will have a good 2013 season but he will have to A- Stay Healthy and B- Do a better job at blocking the plate.
Players to Watch For
Utl Jerry Hariston Jr- Jerry Hariston Jr is another utility player the Dodgers have and he was really solid last season at 3rd Base and Left Field. I have him as a player to watch because he is a veteran player who the Dodgers will need to step up. A healthy Hairston Jr will be a solid one. In 2012 Hariston was batting .273 with most At Bats coming from him being at 3rd base before the All-Star break but due to Injury Hariston had to have season ending surgery. 2013 he will be a player to keep an eye on.
2B Mark Ellis- Another player who contributed very well for the Dodgers and is a key player as well. Ellis is a guy who you can put at 2nd in the order and rely on him to get on base to set it up for Matt Kemp or whoever at the 3 spot. While there has been some people wanting him to lead off Ellis is fine at the 2 spot in the line-up. Defensively he can also bring it as well just as long as he is healthy.
Overview: This group has A LOT of talent starting wise and you can say on the bench as well. You can expect guys like Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Ellis and Hanley to produce with the bat. Defensively the left side is going to need some work just by the looks but I am sure they will have it together. These guys will only have so much time in the Spring due to the World baseball Classic (Cruz and Gonzalez Team Mexico and Hanley- Dominican Republic) but they have time to work individually.
On Deck for the 2013 Dodgers Preview: Outfield
We are 30 Days Away from Pitchers and Catchers reporting, Almost a month before the first Spring Training Game against the White Soxs, and 78 Days until Opening Day. A lot can happen between that time and that has been proven before. This off-season the Dodgers managed to go on a spending spree to try to improve the team. Stan Kasten and Ned Colleti got together and signed the likes of Zack Greinke and Hyun Jin Ryu as well as trade for guys to help on the bench such as Skip Shoemaker. Off the field the Dodgers have been busy getting Dodger Stadium redone to not only improve fan experance but improve the Stadium for the players and modernize the 51 year old stadium as well. As we aproach the 2013 Season there are still questions that loom over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Regardless of the amount of talent and spending the Dodgers did there’s still some things that many are uncertain with. Let’s see what questions suround the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Will Zack Greinke live up to expectations in L.A?
I think this is the key question many were asking once the Dodgers signed Greinke. Yes the Dodgers did pay a lot for Greinke and we understand that but in this case Dodgers had Greinke on their list and was willing to pay whatever for him so lets clear that up. Theres going to be a lot of things expected from Grenike and with him being the #1 Pitching Free Agent there’s going to be pressure on him for a fact. To be honest I for one am not worried about Greinke at Dodger Stadium but when the Dodgers go out on the road is something that I will keep a good eye on. I think if he can stay consistent and healthy then watch out MLB.
How will Hyun Jin Ryu adjust to the Major Leagues?
Lets be real here we know International players have to adjust to the style of Major league pitching and play and Ryu is no different. After a dominant career in the KBO (Korean Baseball Organization) Hyun Jin Ryu signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers and if you look at his highlights you along with myself would be very excited to see him pitch. The one good thing about this is that no one in the Majors has seen Ryu pitch but MLB runs longer for pitchers which is something Ryu does know and is preparing for. I do believe Ryu will be a treat to watch but also is very unknown to many fans in the U.S. I think as the season progresses we will know more about him on the field.
Will Chad Billingsley, Matt Kemp, and Carl Crawford be the same coming off Injuries?
A concern with the Dodgers last season and something that hampered the team was Injuries. Chad Billingsley came off a stent on the DL when the second half of the 2012 season hit and was really pitching well until he suffered a partially torn right elbow ligament which sidelined him for the rest of the season. Matt Kemp was also bothered with injuries throughout the season and that affected his play through the season. Suffering from Hamstring injuries that sidelined him until the All-Star break and then tearing his right labrum and a frayed shoulder-blade which really affected him through the season. While Carl Crawford didn’t suit up with the Dodgers last season he also was injured and had to have Tommy John surgery which sidelined him for the season as a Red Sox. The health of those three have been closely watched since the end of the season and from the sounds of it progress is being made with Kemp and Billingsley. Kemp is swinging the bat again and working with McGwire in Arizona, Experiencing no pain while Billingsley has went fourth with is throwing program and from what is being said he’s sound confident which is also good to hear. While nothing is out on Crawford they expect him to be the Opening Day Starter at Left Field. My main concern at the moment for these guys is game speed. Yes they’ll have Spring Training to get it together but will they be at game speed and game condition once the season hits? Last thing everyone wants is for Kemp, Billingsley, and Crawford to struggle because that’s never a good thing to see. The key for their success as players is going to be Good health and confidence and If they can do that then watch out.
If Carl Crawford Isn’t Ready Who Starts at Left Field?
This was the talk at the end of last season and the answers was all over the place. In the event of Crawford not being able to play come the start of the season then who will start at his position? There were tons of players thrown into the discussion and some weren’t bad ideas while others were ehhh I don’t know. One Idea was to sign back Shane Victorino but there were two problems with that. 1) Shane wanted to be a starter and was not going to sign with the Dodgers to be a bench player once Crawford returned plus I questioned if he even wanted to be a Dodger and 2) he signed with the Red Soxs for a ridiculous amount of money so he’s officially out the picture. A few players also thrown out there was Juan Rivera which isn’t a bad idea but wasn’t the same player he was when he was traded to the Dodgers and Tony Gwynn Jr who was with the Dodgers until L.A. designated him for Assignment to Albuquerque. Yasiel Puig is a name plenty of Dodger fans put out there and while he is on the 40 man roster and has been Killing it in the Minors I question if he is indeed ready for MLB ball. He hit a major slump in winter ball but seems to be picking it back up. We have to see how he does at Spring Training to really judge if he is truly ready.
Will Luis Cruz repeat his 2012 Season
Luis Cruz was fantastic and was quite the surprise in the 2012 season. Cruz really became a popular player in Los Angeles and a key player as well earning the everyday 3rd Base spot. This season Mattingley said that the plan will be for Cruz to be starting 3rd baseman come Opening Day and why not? How the way he played Last season he should but whether he will make the same impact is a good question. Cruz will be playing with Team Mexico in the World baseball Classic so he will miss part of Spring training with the Dodgers for that. We’ve seen Juan Rivera who had a good impact on the team some what struggle the next season along with Dee Gordon and that is one thing that is in the back of some minds but with Cruz he has the work ethic to be better and help this team so it’s something to keep an eye out.
Is Andre Ethier on his way out of Los Angeles?
Andre Either has had his name in many trade rumors in the off-season and while the word is that the Dodgers are listening to offers they have not indicated that they will trade Ethier. Andre Ethier signed a 5 year $85 Million Contract extention during the season which raises eyebrows on why the Dodgers would trade him. Yes the knock has been that he can’t hit off left-handed pitchers and we all understand that but wouldn’t it be fair to wait and see how he does with Crawford AND Kemp in the outfield with him? There has been the rumor of him being traded to Seattle then signing Michael Bourn but that remains to be seen at the moment. I honestly think if Ethier struggles come the trade deadline then the Dodgers will likely look into Trading Ethier away but with his contract there isn’t many teams who will be willing to take him. I see the Dodgers holding on to Andre because as of right now it’s the right and smart thing to do.
Will The Dodger Stadium Renovations Be Done In Time?
I think this is another major question but it takes place with the stadium. If you have seen pictures of Dodger Stadium being redone or have been to the stadium then you can’t help but to worry about the Stadium being done in time for Opening Day. Stan Kasten made note that it will be ready by March 29th when the Dodgers take the field for their exhibition game against the Angels. Dodger Stadium was in need of renovations and that wasn’t a mystery at all if you visited there. After the 2012 Season the renovations start to modernize the 51 Year old Stadium but the worry is if it will be done and ready in time. It’s currently January right now and Dodger Stadium has to be ready by March for the season but in the event of it NOT being ready then there has been plans in place for the Dodgers to play at the L.A. Coliseum or Angel Stadium. I don’t believe that the Dodgers will have to play else where for their games and that the stadium will indeed be ready by March. They’ve already moved the Dodgertown Classic where USC and UCLA play at Dodger Stadium due to renovations so that’s already one event down. Yes A lot has to be done and it is a concern about getting it done in time but workers are working hard to get the upgrades done and it will be worth it.
Will Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez Have A Better Season L.A.?
Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez had up and down season in L.A. after they were aquired. With Adrian playing in the World baseball classic and Hanley in Winter Leagues I expect those two to improve. Another advantage is that Mark McGwire is the hitting coach and based on what he did for the Cardnials I can see him really doing what he can to help Hanley and Adrian improve. Weather it will work or or not is something we will have to wait and see. If Adrian Gonzalez can hit lights out and if Hanley can hit like his 2009 Batting Champion self then the Dodgers will really be a dangerous team hitting wise.
Yesterday morning the Dodgers made the official announcement that they have hired Mark McGwire as the hitting coach. Something that has been rumored since last Friday has now come to light yesterday. Ok he may not be on the field anymore but this is a big thing to have Mark McGwire come in and help a Dodger team who struggled to bring in runs let alone score runs or get on base. The Cardinals, Where he formaly played, had good success under him batting .269 (1st in NL), Had a OBP of .337 (1st in NL) and scored 2,263 runs (2nd in NL) so there is success right there. The Dodgers who struggled in all those things will finally have a hitting coach that can get the bats going and make them a big threat offensively. A lot of people are happy for this being done and we assume things will go right but Is this really going to help? I for one say yes he can and will help the Dodgers.
Last season many people wanted to know what the issue was with the offense. We got that Kemp was hurt along with Mark Ellis and had a team filled with the Isatopes but once they got healthy they still struggled with batting thats adding Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez. Having a guy who was barley batting .22o as pinch hitter in his playing career will not do it’s justice in my eyes and apperently I wasn’t the only one. Many felt Hansen was a problem so he has another position in the franchise leaving Mark Mcgwire to get the job. As I stated the Cardinals had some very good numbers in the NL with McGwire as their hitting coach so you can only imagine what this team will do come next season with the line up of Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, Matt Kemp, Luis Cruz, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford and so on. Yeah we know his history as a player and what not but him as a coach is just what the doctor ordered.
I believe there will be good results from this hiring and the Dodgers can be the dangerous team with the bat that they’re expected to be so be ready to see a lot of McGwire jerseys at Dodger Stadium. Will he make an Impact? Yes he will but that’s just my thinking and based off stats that the previous team he coached. Once Spring Training and the Season starts we’ll have our answer.
The Dodgers right now find themselves in a race for the Postseason. Something that All Dodger fans been wanting. A chance to once again compete for the World Series, something that’s been missing since 1988. We usually hear about the Yankees, Red Soxs issues, Rangers, Braves, or the hated Giants and Angels but here’s my question. What about us? The Dodgers may have a roller coaster ride going along the way but the point being that the Dodgers still have a shot at reaching the postseason baring some epic collapse (We pray that they don’t.) But the question remains the same. Can the Boys in Blue Do it?
Dodgers made moves to help the offense out by acquiring Hanley Ramirez from Miami and then grabbing lead off guy Shane Victorino from Philadelphia and while they tried to make a push a starting pitching (Putting a claim on Cliff Lee) they did show that they weren’t playing around and that they want to win right now. Yes August is shaky so far but it looks as if the Dodgers are starting to put it all together and with a critical series against the Braves and Giants coming up getting it together is really really needed at this time. We often said/Heard Starting Pitching is needed to win, our Bullpen is killing us, Too inconsistent which cam be true but if the Dodgers get it together and stay healthy then this team can make noise. Now in my honest of honest opinions I believe the Dodgers can do it because this team have shown what it can do. Why not us? Dodgers can be just as good even though they don’t show it sometimes. It’s not be being a homer or anything but I believe that the Dodgers can do it this year.
Can the Dodgers do it? I think so and I know all of Los Angeles think so and so far it’s been a story. Going from having horrible owners, 3rd place finishes, More news off the field than on it, Angels talk to having a shot at Postseason, new owners, making moves to win now and so on. The ultimate goal is a World Series. Winning the NL West will be good but Settling for that isn’t enough. Let’s Bring Home A World Series! Back to where it belongs, Dodgertown!!
Tonight is the start of a critical Series for both the Dodgers and Giants in San Francisco. The Dodgers who are coming off a loss to the St Louis Cardinals march into AT&T Park with a healthier team, Hanley Ramirez, Randy Choate, and down 3 games. Last time the Dodgers came to San Francisco they got swept and shutout. Two things that was very embarrassing because it’s one thing to get swept but to not score a run in a single game of the series is another. The Giants have also been hot since the break but are also going into the series coming off a loss as well. No doubt this weekend is huge.
Now the Dodgers who has had chances to trim the lead have done so but has so suffered 3 straight losses to the Cardinals in that 4 game series and now trail 3 games to the hated Giants. At this point The Dodgers can do at least these things to help. Beat the Giants 2 games out of 3 and trim the lead to a game or sweep the giants in San Francisco and tie them for the NL West lead. Anyway the Dodgers HAVE to win or risk being down 4,5, or 6 games which will really damage things. With the Dodgers healthy things should get really interesting and they know that this is a race to October so every game counts.
The Dodgers will get to face the Giants rotation of Matt Cain, Berry Zito, and Ryan Volgelsong which isn’t an easy task at all but if the Dodgers can get their offense going then there shouldn’t be an issue at all but the Dodgers have to do their job. Dodgers pitching also have to be ready and step up to the task of doing what they can to win the series in SF. Yesterday’s game the Dodgers pitching pretty much blew it for them. They can’t have a repeat of that tonight or they’ll be in a world of trouble.
This is BIG by all means and the Dodgers have to come ready to play and out play the Giants. San Francisco knows how much this series mean but the Dodgers have to want it more. This weekend is the time to bring the Game! No more excuses because this is the one game where they can’t afford to let things slip away. The Race for October goes through San Francisco tonight and will have to a few times but tonight is a Critical one.