Off Base
Inglorious Dodgers

August 27, 2009, 12:22 p.m. The Dodgers are inglorious, all right. They’re completely without glory. For the moment.

You all know the saying, “it’s always darkest…just before it gets pitch black,” and if the panic in the streets was a true indicator of L.A.’s pennant chances, it’d be nearly impossible to see your hand in front of your face.

Good thing that’s no indicator. Things change quickly in baseball, and while I’m continually reassuring readers here and everywhere around me as I go through my day, the one thing I know for sure - for absolute sure - is that no one knows what’s going to happen next. Not after that either, and certainly not come October.

The Dodgers get one win, with three homers, including one from James Loney, and the entire county goes ga-ga. The Dodgers are back!

Well, they’re not back, nor were they ever really gone. Sure, the Dodgers have resembled a second division team since about the All-Star break, but as in the oh-so-wise words of the beloved Dick Cheney, I have to say “so?”

So? And yeah, obviously I’d prefer the team play .700 ball from wire to wire, but since when is that required?

I won’t bore you with a recitation of the last 110 years of fall results. And please spare me the “backing in” thing. The Dodgers are going to have to play well for an appropriate period of time to pull off the division, and a bit less well to nab the consolation prize. I promise you it’ll happen.

No, I’m not just saying this because they beat the crap out of Josh Fogg last night. I mean, how tough is that? I’m just tardy in getting this column posted. The unpredictability of baseball is one the sport's great charms. It’s just that it never occurs to us when our team is putting us through the ringer.

More often than not, the Dodgers start slow and we’re forced to endure the “it’s only May” line, which Eric Karros and others made famous. This year, the team started hot and slowed down halfway through. It doesn’t matter. There’s no crying in baseball, and there is no glory in August. The entire schedule counts.

I suggest a thimble full of perspective, a little relaxation, and a pulling up a chair to enjoy the pennant race before us. What can possibly be more fun?

I’m surprised that Ned Colletti hasn’t done more to pick up some missing pieces, most notably an ace starting pitcher. While we still have a few days left, I’ve almost given up hope on that score. But I still think he’ll come through with one more pitcher, and a good one. Not Brad Penny. I said a good one.

A power bat off the bench should’ve been a priority too, but perhaps Doug Mientkiewicz will fill that role sooner rather than later.

I’m amending my earlier comments about Vicente Padilla, partially because I didn’t know Hiroki Kuroda was about to be DL’d when I made them, but more because I've given it a second thought.

Padilla did have some fine seasons in Philadelphia earlier in his career, and I’m confident he’ll give the Dodgers a solid seven innings per start the rest of the way. I suggested him as an option when he was a free agent three years ago, and I think he’s a veteran who will get outs.

I would’ve much preferred Cliff Lee, Ned should’ve made it happen, and it’s a shame Lee’s sub-Gibson ERA is going to be wasted on the Phils. But Padilla is a good, cheap pickup for Ned.

Oh, and re Padilla supposedly being a malcontent, or a “clubhouse cancer,” Texas has last year’s model in Andruw Jones. I’ll take an Andruw for Padilla trade straight-up any day of the week. In a heartbeat…

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

Broxton’s Conditioning: I’m not among the growing number of Jonathan Broxton worriers, but since we mentioned Andruw Jones, and were tangentially on the subject of fat Dodgers, if Broxton is tired, all he has to do is look in the mirror. A big mirror. I have two words for Mr. Broxton: EAT LESS! Eat a lot less.

There’s zero reason for this man to be carrying around 300 pounds. I’m sorry, but no baseball player should weigh 300 pounds, when 240 will do just fine. He’s no Refrigerator Perry, perhaps, but Broxton ought to start working on his body immediately. Diet and exercise, with year round conditioning and lifestyle change. He has the resources available to him in the organization, and will receive all the support imaginable. It's time…

Rockies Mountain: Enough with the Jim Tracy-is-a-lock-for-Manager-of-the-Year-Award talk already. If the Rocks win the West or get the Wild Card, then yes, definitely, Trace is your man. But there’s a reason trophies aren’t passed out early.

If Colorado stumbles, or to put it another way, if another club or two outshines the Rockies between now and season’s end, there will be a skipper to celebrate. Joe Girardi and Tony Pena notwithstanding, third and fourth place finishers are not worthy of the MOY…

It’s hard not to root for Eric Young, Jr., and it was nice to see old EY beaming with pride after his son’s first big league hit. Really cool, actually. But maybe the Dodgers should just walk him and go straight to the pickoff move. It looks like it might be easier to get him out that way…

Was it just me, or did you think Ryan Spilborghs was channeling Joe Ferguson with that walkoff slam Monday night? You remember Fergie, tossing his helmet aside as he raced toward home, the last day of the 1980 season, as the Dodgers came back from three down with three to play against the Astros, don’t you?

Russell Martin Day-Off-Oh-Meter: Actually, today we turn our attention to Rafael Furcal, and call out the manager for his overuse of someone other than Russell Martin, for a change. Remember that plan to give Furcal a weekly day off? Remember that? That’s why Juan Castro was brought in, right? That was the plan, wasn’t it?

Torre stuck to the script nicely at the start, resting Raffy twice in April and three times in May, before the shortstop sat an extra three days to nurse an aching body in late May.

Guess how many days off Furcal has enjoyed since May? Uh, can you say one? Uno. Furcal's had a bad year, but I have faith in him. He's been through a pennant race and a postseason in almost every year of his career, and I just know he'll come through in the clutch when it matters most. But it would be a sure thing if the manager went a little easier on his shortstop…

Statue for Sandy: The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…

Remember, glove conquers all….







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