Off Base
Piece of Cake

October 5, 2009, 7:06 p.m. Feeling better now? I am.

The second thing I ever wrote in this space, way back in April of 2000, was a column called “Bad Mood Rising,” which in pretty much explaining my entire life, described the direct proportion of Dodgers success to my mental well being.

Admittedly, I’ve needed therapy for years, but I’m quite sure the sentiment is shared by my Blue Brethren throughout Southern California. And around the world. The playoffs are coming to town, and I am seriously ready. L.A. is ready. Not Anaheim, mind you, Los Angeles. And most importantly, the Dodgers are ready.

The Pittsburgh and San Diego series are ancient history, amounting to nothing more than five of 67 losses for the year. To go along with 95 wins. Ninety-five wins, people. 95-67. The Dodgers are the class of the National League, period, exclamation point. Maybe not by all that much, and maybe it doesn’t mean squat starting Wednesday, but the Dodgers are the NL’s best team.

Forget everything you’re hearing from the national media, and in particular, from scribes east of the Mississippi. They simply don’t stay up late enough to watch the Dodgers on a regular basis, and therefore cannot possibly know what they’re talking about. Not really.

It’s more a case of sloth than bias, which is why I use the term “East Coast Lazy.” Or East Coast Laziness. Either, or.

Randy Wolf and Clayton Kershaw will be just fine for the first two games of the National League Division Series, thank you very much. As great as Chris Carpenter is, and he is that great, the man sports an ERA of 2.20, not 0.00. The Dodgers can work with that, and maybe get to him for two or three runs in something less than a complete game. Bullpen versus bullpen from there, and it’s doable.

Adam Wainwright has started the same number of postseason games as Clayton Kershaw – zero – and has given up 11 runs in his past four starts. Tell me you won’t take that matchup, and gladly.

And no, sorry critics; we’re not deluding ourselves by thinking this way. The Dodgers are just as capable of a 3-2 or a 4-3 win as is St. Louis on any given Wednesday or Thursday. The whole damn tournament is a crapshoot.

Yes, losing Hiroki Kuroda for the NLDS is a blow, but let’s cross the bridge to game three when we get to it.

Joe Torre and company have some work to do on the roster beyond the third and fourth starters. Here’s what I think they’ll do.

No changes with the starting eight, and this lineup for the opener: Rafael Furcal, Andre Ethier, Manny Ramirez, James Loney, Matt Kemp, Casey Blake, Orlando Hudson and Russell Martin. If Torre eschews the left-right-left-right after the switch-hitting Furcal, which he often does, just flip-flop Kemp for Loney.

It’s possible they’ll go with 10, but I’m guessing 11 pitchers. These eleven: Wolf, Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Vicente Padilla, Jeff Weaver, Guillermo Mota, Ramon Troncoso, Ronald Belisario, Hong-Chih Kuo, George Sherrill and Jonathan Broxton.

Jon Garland, based on his 8.38 versus the Cards in 2009, and Torre’s preference for a reliever, is the odd man out for the first round.

Bench: Brad Ausmus, Ronnie Belliard, Juan Castro, Mark Loretta, Juan Pierre and Jim Thome. That’s a great bench, the kind Torre had while winning championships in New York. Think Chili Davis, Tim Raines, Jose Vizcaino and Darryl Strawberry.

Predictions are at best mildly-educated and at worst wild guesses, and this is for my psyche, and yours, as much as anything, but I’m taking the Dodgers in five…

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

Media Savvy: Nice top ten list by about the World Series matchups they’d like to see, but click through to number three, and check out this odd explanation as to why they’d like to see the Dodgers versus the Angels: "While they don't inhabit the same city, the Dodgers and Angels are separated by a mere 30 miles. As well, there's the rather weird attempt by the Angels to co-opt the name 'Los Angeles,' and then there's the Dodgers' rather whiny attempt to prevent them from doing so…”

Whiny attempt? What whiny attempt? The Dodgers, with every logical and geographic claim to the name, looking down on the Angels with nothing more than a lame prepositional phrase, could not have been more magnanimous if they’d sent Tommy Lasorda over with a key to the city. Our city.

Except for the mildly-sarcastic 2005 "This is L.A. Baseball" marketing campaign, the Dodgers sat back and let Arne Moreno make an ass of himself. It was the city of Anaheim that did all the heavy lifting. Just another example of East Coast Lazy, if you ask me.

And check out this neat piece, by Jerry Crowe, in today’s LAT

Award Time: The IBWAA awards will be announced in early November, so stay tuned for those, but in the meantime, here’s how I voted:

NL MVP: Albert Pujols, followed by Hanley Ramirez, Ryan Howard, Troy Tulowitzki, Prince Fielder and Andre Ethier.

AL MVP: Joe Mauer, Mark Teixeira and Kendry Morales.

NL Cy Young: Carpenter, Wainwright, Lincecum.

AL Cy: Zack Grienke, Felix Hernandez, CC Sabathia.

NL Rookie: Tommy Hanson, Chris Coghlan, Randy Wells.

AL ROY: Andrew Bailey, Jeff Niemann, Brett Gardner.

NL Manager: Jim Tracy, Joe Torre, Fredi Gonzalez.

AL Manager: Ron Gardenhire, with Mike Scioscia a close second.

NL Executive: Ned Colletti.

AL Executive: Mike Radcliff.

NL Comeback: Carpenter.

AL Comeback: Russell Branyon.

Great Baseball Names of the Year: As I said earlier, therapy is generally required, but I like to keep track of things like this. Here are my 2009 favorites: Burke Badenhop, Antonio Bastardo, Yorman Bazardo, Reid Brignac, Rex Brothers (too bad for Jim Rome this is only one guy), Madison Bumgarner, Robinson Cancel, Slade Heathcott, Gorkys Hernandez, Warner Madrigal, Marcus McBeth, Jeff Manship, Garrett Mock, Josh Outman, Stephen Register, Tanner Scheppers, Justin Smoak, and Donald Veal (a better spelling than Bob Veale)…

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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