Monday, August 17, 2009

Five Things That Need to Happen

...for the Dodgers to make the post-season:

1. Jonathan Broxton needs to go on the DL...then return as the closer. Even if the rest doesn't completely heal his injured toe — which he insists is fine — the mandatory time off will give Broxton a chance to mentally reset himself after blowing three of his past five save opportunities. (Plus he can spend time with his new baby.) George Sherrill can step in as the closer for the rest of the month.

2. A new fourth starter needs to be found. With Hiroki Kuroda's hideous injury putting the rotation in further flux (Kuroda, ever the gamer, says he can pitch his next start, but Joe Torre knows better), the "four starters plus a fifth-starter-by-committee" plan requires another revision.

A new starter via the waiver wire is a possibility; available names include John Smoltz, Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang. Or the Dodgers could pick a name from the hat and go with Jeff Weaver, Eric Stults, James McDonald, Scott Elbert or Charlie Haeger — but the fifth starter will have to come from the same pool.

3. Joe Torre needs to continue batting Matt Kemp at or near the top of the order. What's better than being good? Being consistently good. Kemp hasn't gone more than three consecutive games without a hit (and has gone hitless in three straight only twice: at the beginning of May and at the end of July). His .373 OBP leads all Dodger starters, and his .498 SLG is second only to Andre Ethier's. And we haven't even mentioned his defense. Thank you, Ned Colletti, for not trading this guy.

4. Rafael Furcal, Russell Martin and James Loney need to pick it up. Furcal has the lowest OBP (.333) of the Dodgers' eight regular starters; his best leadoff days are behind him. Martin's SLG (.318) is lower than his OBP (.363); it's time for him to accept his lack of power (at least this season) and maintain that OBP. And Loney is batting .217/.294/.261 this month. A good team can absorb one or two slumps at the same time. But three simultaneous slumps? That may be too much.

5. The bench needs to produce. The bench is already a man short due to the Dodgers carrying 13 pitchers on the roster (see item #2). Furthermore, the pinch-hitting options are few: Brad Ausmus will always be the last resort because he's the backup catcher, and Juan Castro is primarily a defensive replacement (although he's hitting .304/.343/.370). That means Mark Loretta (.228/.315/.269, 0 HR) and Juan Pierre (.319/.376/.403, 0 HR) are the go-to bats off the bench. We may not have our Matt Stairs, but there are other ways besides power for the bench to contribute.


PenosCabell said...

Orel - Agreed with everything. I really loved seeing Matt Kemp lead-off yesterday. Last year, I thought he looked real comfortable batting at the top of the order. Furcal should be batting eighth with his low OBP, and Matin should be following Kemp.

I think another starter should be found internally. Stults is fine. McDonald or Weaver can spot start. Let's see how Charlie Haeger does today, maybe the Dodgers have a hidden gem in the knuckleballer. I can't see how John Smoltz can help right now. He looks like he is done.

Fred's Brim said...

agreed on Smoltz. If Arroyo somehow made it down to Dodgers on waivers, I think we'd have to go for it. I wonder what we'd have to give up for him though

Fred's Brim said...

and for Broxton, the only way he would lose the closer job after a DL stint is if he can't get the job done. I hope he's not scared of Breezy taking his job at this point. He needs a couple of weeks off and a granny shoe

Steve Sax said...

Totally agree with you on Brox, Orel. I still don't think we're in danger of missing the playoffs, so why not rest him for a month? Torre has been supportive of Brox--which he has to be, both for the public and to keep Brox's head screwed on right--but I think it's time to rest our big guy.

PenosCabell said...

Agreed on Broxton. I've never been a Broxton fan, but the Dodgers are gonna stick with him as closer, so they might as well make sure he's healthy physically and mentally. I don't care who is closing, as long as the Dodgers are winning games.

Paul said...

At this point don't you have to give Stults a few starts? I mean the guy had some bad starts in May but looked okay against Atlanta.

Arroyo has pitched 7 innings or better in 5 of his last 6 starts while playing the bongos in his head and dealing with mass wind resistance from his hair. He sounds like a perfect fit for the Ravine....if the price is right.

Mr. LA Sports Czar said...

I doubt the answer to the pitching staff will come in-house. If there was a viable, long-term option, they would have considered it. Stults is still to early to tell, and Haeger hasn't even thrown a pitch yet.

The Reds will have to take on Arroyo's salary if he's to be traded. No way the Dodgers would get a guy who's on the hook for $15 million next year and has admitted to using banned substances on a regular basis and won't stop now.

Smoltz could be a reliever, but the team will have to convince him that he's lucky to be still playing to put him in the 'pen.

There's still Jon Garland, who's no ace but certainly eats innings. At this point, I think that's all the Dodgers really need.

Mr. LA Sports Czar said...

*too early to tell

Greg Zakwin said...

It's sad that we have to "thank" Colletti for not trading Kemp. Really sad.

Haeger/Elbert/McDonald. Bam, our 4th and 5th starters.

Arroyo has a handful of good starts every year, but he's an awful pitcher who makes too much money. I would honestly rather try Smoltz, but let's stay in-house.

Wesley Vento said...

I'd rather have Arroyo's current team mate Aaron Harang.

I watched this past series with AZ sparingly, but I'm over James Loney. He sucks. So does Furcal and so does Mota.

Kyle Baker said...

Agree w those who say we should pass on Smoltz. He has had a likely hall-of-fame career and hence carries the recognizable name, but this guy is done. I watched him pitch in the couple of starts he had w Boston. He just doesn't have the stuff any more, period. Give him a laurel and a hearty handshake and thank him for a great career. But he isn't our answer, or anybody's.