In the midst of what, at least so far, has been a very disappointing season in Dodgertown, last night’s loss to the D-Backs was especially painful for many Dodger fans. Never mind the Boys in Blue fell six games behind the stinking Giants in the standings, it was the name of the winning pitcher in the box score that was especially grating.
Yes, that Zack Greinke, the one who pitched three spectacular seasons in L.A. only to opt-out of a very rich contract in order to sign an even richer one with division rivals, the Arizona Diamondbacks.
This perceived “failure” by the Dodger front office to re-sign one of the game’s top pitchers has been nothing less than rabidly controversial among fans of the team. It has also resulted in an overwhelming demand for Andrew Friedman voodoo dolls (Amazon is working overtime to keep up with the orders) and the appearance of Farhan Zaidi effigies hanging from lampposts along Vin Scully Avenue. The natives are, indeed, restless.
Now, I happen to be among those who think it was prudent for the Dodgers to allow Greinke to bolt for the desert, after all, he’s not exactly going to pitch them into the postseason this year, is he? Besides, over the long haul, let’s see how hamstrung the D-Backs are as they cope with becoming competitive again with an aging quarter of a billion dollar albatross hanging around their neck. They’re not L.A., they can’t absorb the financial blunders that the Dodgers seem to be able to make without batting an eye (or batting anything else for that matter).
Still, it was tough to watch Zack pitch against us. But, let’s be honest, with the way the Dodgers are hitting even Jake Peavy looks like a Cy Young contender.
Injuries, Slumps and the Proverbial “Panic Button”
It’s no secret the offense is struggling and I can’t help but feel sorry for the Whiz Kids in the front office taking heat for the team’s mediocre performance. Come on, you couldn’t predict the usually consistent bats of guys like A-Gone, Turner, Howie and Kiké would suddenly evaporate like a Dasani on the surface of the sun, could you? Now, we might have guessed the likes of Yasiel Puig, Yasmani Grandal, A.J. and various platooners would bite big ones, but what are you gonna do? Somebody has to catch. When the 79 year old second-baseman, Chase Utley, is among your best hitters at somewhere around .260, you’ve really gotta stretch the facts to fit your optimism. Unfortunately, that’s where we are.
So, what’s the solution? Better hitters, right? How about we get a healthy Andre Ethier back in the lineup? Wait, there’s no such thing as a healthy Andre Ethier. Dré is healing slowly from a freakish fractured tibia and his return is uncertain. Some have even expressed concern that his career might be in danger. That’s the frightening reality of the seriousness of his injury.
So, that outfield “glut” is no longer a concern is it? Crawford is gone. Alex Guerrero is gone. Van Slyke is trying to play his way back from injury. Puig is … Puig? Yasiel is a guy I love to root for, but he is NOT adjusting to the way the rest of the league pitches to him. He is disposed of consistently by the same pattern of pitches he sees at-bat after at-bat. I love him, but not enough to carry him as a sub .250 hitter who still runs the bases like a Jerry Lewis impersonator on meth.
So, what to do? What to do?
Trades? It’s possible, but this front office prizes “prospects” to an almost irrational degree. To trade for any kind of impact bat it will take parting with some of that vaunted young depth. Is that one reason Julio Urias is in the rotation? Is he being showcased? Seems implausible but what if Tampa Bay (where Friedman has history) could be persuaded to part with Evan Longoria? They would have to be intrigued by acquiring a future ace for a player that they haven’t won with in awhile anyway. Throw in another prospect or two and you might see some action. Longoria is only 29 and would assure the Dodgers production at the hot corner for years. He’d look pretty good hitting behind Corey Seager, wouldn’t he? If you keep Turner, he could go back to that Super Utility Role where he excelled. He can play second, third, short or the outfield. Or even bring some value on the trade market.
Perhaps Ryan Braun could be available. We know the Giants are kicking the tires on him and we don’t want to see his bat in San Francisco, do we? Might be able to get the Brewers to take Puig and prospects for him. He’d be a more reliable middle of the order bat than we currently possess. Smoothing to think about, ain’t it?