Monday, July 13, 2009

Five All-Star Break Ponderables

1. Does this qualify as a slump? The Dodgers barely had a winning June at 14-12, and they won only nine of their last 17 games heading into the All-Star break. It's been three weeks since they've won three straight. On the other hand, Manny Ramirez has hit three home runs since returning from his suspension and the rest of the offense seems to be percolating as well. With any luck, playing at just over .500 will be as bad as it gets.

2. The pleasantest surprise. The bullpen. An unknown quantity in April, a bedrock now. However, the wear is showing: Ronald Belisario, Will Ohman and Hong-Chih Kuo are on the disabled list, and Jonathan Broxton might join them if his toe doesn't heal over the All-Star break. The 13-man pitching staff worked for Joe Torre in the first half; don't be surprised to see it for most of the second half as well.

3. There is no such thing as worrying too much about having too much pitching. With the Dodgers' unstable fifth-starter spot leaving no wiggle room in case of injury, Ned Colletti has been doing his job in trying to strengthen the team for a deep playoff run. Only 15 games remain until the July 31 trading deadline, and Colletti doesn't seem comfortable with his in-house options. He says his trading priorities are a veteran reliever followed by a starter, although Jeff Weaver can fill that reliever role full-time if Colletti acquires a solid starter. However, there won't be any trading of Chad Billingsley or Clayton Kershaw, so let's stop that crazy talk right now.

4. The even keel of Joe Torre. His (ab)use of the bullpen and odd use of Matt Kemp can be maddening, but for the most part Torre has managed the Dodgers masterfully, as evidenced by their 29-21 record in Manny's absence. Yet Torre's greatest value has been outside the lines; his statesmanship and media skills held the team together during the Manny maelstrom. Don't just take our word for it: others agree as well.

5. Credit to Colletti. Every GM is going to make mistakes, but Colletti's have erred on the side of wasting money as opposed to talent. Because you can always make more money. (Right, Frank?) In his four years as the Dodgers' GM, Colletti's boldest move has been doing nothing — that is, not trading the core of the team's burgeoning young players, and that inaction is paying off this season. Colletti's big test will be upgrading the pitching staff at a reasonable price before July 31. (More Colletti kudos here and here. But not here.)


Steve Sax said...

I don't think that's the real Ned Colletti.

--Steve Sax

Mr. LA Sports Fan said...

Maybe it's Tony LaRussa.

Brian Beelner said...

Colletti erred only on the side of wasting money? How about Edwin Jackson for Danys Baez and Lance Carter? That has seemed to work out really well.