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What do the Dodgers really need at the trade deadline?

There’s no doubt that the Dodgers need another starter. There are less than 70 games left in the season and I, like everyone else with a pulse AND an emotional investment in this team, can’t really see a future where Brett Anderson (as good as he’s been), Carlos Frias, Brandon Beachy (fresh off TWO TJ surgeries), Mike Bolsinger, Zach Lee and maybe even the likes of Trevor Cahill make 40 starts between them. Well, I could see that future, but it wouldn’t be great for the Dodgers.
 
It’s not that LA can’t get serviceable starts by any combination from those players–they can–it’s just that you’re betting on Black 15, Red 28 and Red 12 rather than plain old boring Red. It’s a huge gamble that those arms are going to get the Dodgers to the postseason… and we’re not even broaching that subject yet. Anderson could break down any day (and he has), Beachy is going to be inconsistent at best after his injuries, Bolsinger has inexplicably gotten through half a season despite throwing two pitches, Frias has been solid but just for stretches and guys like Ian Thomas, Lee, and Cahill can’t be trusted for more than a spot start.
 
That being said… the cavalry is on the horizon, theoretically. David Price may be available. Cole Hamels has been and forever will be available. If the Dodgers want to create the best 1-2-3 punch in the league, it’s more than a possibility.
 
The real questions are: would that be worth the cost? And is it necessary?… Read more...

The San Francisco Giants make it historically difficult to be a Dodgers fan

It’s been 56 days since the San Francisco Giants won their third World Series championship in five season. I know the days. It’s tattooed on my brain. That’s how long it’s taken me to write this article–enough time to heal and get up from off the floor.
 
I couldn’t watch the World Series this year. Not an inning. As a huge Los Angeles Dodgers fan, seeing our time-tested rivals play for yet another title was just too much for me to grit through. It was a feeling I had become accustomed to—a very same set of stomach acid-inducing ulcers that burned the lining of my gut two years ago. And then two years before that. Worse yet, I knew it was coming.
 
From the moment that Brandon Belt hit a monstrous home run in Nationals Park during their 18-inning slugfest with Washington (the same night as the Dodgers’ lone playoff win), I knew that there was no stopping the Gigantes as they walked down the golden road they were all-too familiar with. It was the same formula I had seen twice already in the last five years—dominant starting pitching, an unheralded bullpen that would bend but not break and a motley set of hitters whose stars aligned all at the same time. I knew the recipe. I could smell it.… Read more...

Trade Analysis: The Dodgers’ big week

Dodgers get: SS Jimmy Rollins, 2B Howie Kendrick, SP Brandon McCarthy, C Yasmani Grandal, RP Chris Hatcher and minor leaguers C Austin Barnes, 2B Enrique Hernandez, SP Joe Weiland
 
Dodgers trade: 2B Sweet Dee Gordon, SP Dan Haren, SS Miguel Rojas (to the Marlins), CF Matt Kemp, C Tim Federowicz (to the Padres), SP Andrew Heaney (to the Angels)
 
The Dodgers–and their new executive team–began a complete makeover this week…and they’re probably not done yet.
 
Even in the midst an incomplete offseason, it’s clear that new President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman and his GM Farhan Zaidi are prioritizing defense over everything else.… Read more...

Can Kobe Bryant’s exit echo Derek Jeter’s?

As his latest and greatest of his opposite field singles dribbled into the hands of Baltimore Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis on Thursday night, Derek Jeter rounded first base as his neck snapped to his left. He stared with rapt attention as pinch runner Antoan Richardson raced home and barely beat out Markakis’s laser throw from 250 feet out. Jeter had singled home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth, ending his career at Yankee Stadium with a walk-off, opposite field single in the clutch. No, there was nothing really on the line here except for a meaningless late September win. However, one of the greatest competitors in the history of North American professional sports left the stage on his own two feet as a walk-off winner with a hit that exemplified his entire career.
 
Now, let’s pay no nevermind to the fact that Jeter played both Saturday and Sunday in Boston, though his last at-bat yesterday was an infield single. What the Yankees shortstop will always be remembered for is surely his grand finale at Yankee Stadium on Thursday. As the latest major market sports star retires after a glittering career, it brings into clear focus the same exact scene we could be seeing two years from now when our own Kobe Bryant hangs up his sneakers for good.
 
(More at SS&R)

 … Read more...

The Dodgers are in the playoffs! Time to freak out!

The Dodgers are in the playoffs! I feel nauseous!
 
For any True Blue fan out there, they each know that October merely brings heartache and anxiety. Nothing more, nothing less. I kind of have to hurl right now!
 
As always, my man Que-Ese and I were commiserating about the causes for the potential ulcers likely to befall us in the coming days and (hopefully) weeks. But, like a true friends (who will never ever ever leave each other), we’ve tried to serve as the salve to one another’s Dodger blues. Below is an e-mail exchange in which we’ve both finely laid out our biggest reservations, then a rebuttal why it might not be a big deal and finally, our predictions for the series.
 
KOBEsh: The bullpen. Duh.
 
Some writers have suggested that the Dodgers only have two reliable pitchers in their bullpen, which is a disconcerting thought all on its own. However, I think that may be outshooting the truth altogether.
 
Kenley Jansen has been pretty great this season, though I wouldn’t say absolutely dominant. Sure, he’s got 101 strikeouts and allowed just 55 hits in 65 innings pitched, but he also got himself into trouble unnecessarily. With no outs, Jansen allowed a .779 OPS, as opposed to .567 and .466 on the second and third outs. In other words, he’s letting a leadoff man on at an alarming rate and then relying on his dominant stuff to make up for it. Not the type of breathing room you want to give up to a fellow division-winning team.
 
The only other “reliable” bullpen pitcher has this stat line for September: 7 games, 5.1 innings pitched, 9 hits and 2 homers allowed and a 11.81 ERA. That’s J.P. Howell, who had emerged into the team’s best 8th inning reliever.
 
Other than that, we’re looking at Brandon League (a nice 2.57 ERA, but an ugly 1.46 WHIP) Brian Wilson (a nice K%, but giving up hits and walks by the boatload), 39 year-old Jamey Wright (72 hits in 70 IP), Chris Perez (who had a nice September, but still walked 4 batters in 7 innings) and rookie Pedro Baez.
 
Yes, I’m really worried.
 
Que-Ese: Here’s why you shouldn’t fret about the bullpen:
 
Jansen is a stud. His premium pitch is a cut fastball. The thing about those, is that sometimes they get put into play. If they hit their spots, he’ll be fine.… Read more...

Boehner ‘Kicking Dirt at Umpire’: Reid

(From our main man Que-Ese, who in his civilian life posts for Bloomberg. What a freak!)
 
House Speaker John Boehner is kicking dirt at the umpire, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says.
 
The Democratic leader, never one to shy away from the occasional sports metaphor, took to the floor this morning to criticize the House’s Republican leader for his promised lawsuit against President Barack Obama.
 
Reid took the time to reminisce about the former Los Angeles Dodgers manager and Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda:
 
“He was a showman. I assume he picked some of the times to pick a fight with the umpire because he was upset with the call. But I think part of it was his idea that the team needed a little something extra… On occasion he’d get thrown out of the game.”
 
(Read the rest over at Bloomberg.com!)… Read more...

What the hell is wrong with the Los Angeles Dodgers?

In my damn near interminable preview post series, 20 Days of Thinking Blue, I was equal parts optimistic that this Dodgers team would bring home the city’s first pennant in 25 years and concerned that they were headed horrific disaster. It’s still early in the year and neither has come to pass at this point. The Dodgers are merely…fine, bubbling around the .500 mark and playing uninspired baseball.

Why is this happening? At this point, what’s wrong with the Los Angeles Dodgers? And can it be fixed?

Inconsistent hitting

The Dodgers were constructed like the New York Yankees of old—imported veterans with power hitting alongside homegrown players that had grown into All-Stars.  The center of the line-up was supposed to feature the spectacular Yasiel Puig and a resurgent Matt Kemp, with Adrian Gonazalez, Hanley Ramirez and Carl Crawford forming a devastating front five. Waiting in the wings would be Cuban rookie Alexander Guerrero and top prospects Joc Pederson. The line-up was supposed to be a tough 8 outs…make it 9 when Silver Slugging pitcher Zack Greinke was throwing.

Instead, many of the questions that I asked before the season have already come to fruition.… Read more...

The Complete 20 Days of Thinking Blue – Dodgers Season Preview

It’s time for Dodger baseball.
 
The season has already begun (even on American soil!) and the boys in blue are rolling along in what may be their most pressure-packed season ever. The Dodgers are the easy choice to win the NL West and with their payroll and star-studded lineup are one of the best bets to win their first World Series title in 26 seasons.
 
To prep you for the season, we here at MAMBINO tackled all the most pertinent questions concerning the Dodgers in our preview series 20 Days of Thinking Blue. Thanks to Que-Ese and Jack Stonetree for helping out here.
 
In case you missed it, here they are in their entirety:

Read more...

20 Days of Thinking Blue: What makes this team different than last year’s National League runner-up?

The countdown has begun, kids. Actually, it’s a little bit past. The opening series (well, the American version) is here, as the Dodgers take on the Padres down in San Diego. To prepare you for the regular season, MAMBINO will tackle 20 of the most important–and some not so important–questions that will get you set up for a year of almost unparalleled expectations. Let’s get it going:
 
What’s different about this year’s Dodgers and last year’s Dodgers? In other words, what’s changed to win them six more games in the postseason?
 
As I wrote yesterday, I’m not sure the Dodgers could have done much more towards the end of last season other than “be more healthy”. But that’s not necessarily something you say to a guy with a sprained ankle and another with cracked ribs from a stray fastball, is it?
 
The Dodgers were two victories away from a World Series and six from a championship. As the old adage goes, as long as a team makes the postseason, they have as good a shot as anyone to win the World Series. The journey to the chip is a combination of luck and momentum, with an emphasis on the latter. The Dodgers had the momentum last season, but couldn’t overcome a few unlucky injuries to key players and of course, one flukishly bad performance from ace Clayton Kershaw.
 
But the point is to remove as many variables as possible and leave as little room for luck to derail your team. Did the Dodgers do enough of that to make them a true World Series contender this offseason? Theoretically, yes.… Read more...

20 Days of Thinking Blue: What could stop the Dodgers from winning the World Series?

The countdown has begun, kids. Actually, it’s a little bit past. The opening series (well, the American version) is here, as the Dodgers take on the Padres down in San Diego. To prepare you for the regular season, MAMBINO will tackle 20 of the most important–and some not so important–questions that will get you set up for a year of almost unparalleled expectations. Let’s get it going:
 
What is the leading reason why this team may not win the World Series?
 
Last season, the difference between the first Dodgers pennant in 25 years might have been an errant fastball to the ribs and, well, Michael Wacha. Some would say that with a healthy Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Hanley Ramirez, the Dodgers wouldn’t have had the same flaccid offense that kept them four wins away from winning the World Series. Was LA the better team? I’m not sure. But as I wrote last October, it felt as if the difference between a Dodgers win and a Cardinals win was just a little bit of luck.
 
So here we are six months later, with the Dodgers healed up and hoping for better breaks. With dominating starting pitching, a powerful bullpen and a star-studded offense, LA is the odds on favorite to win the West and has to be one of the favorites to win the National League pennant. So what could stop them from what’s considered a very, very possible destiny?… Read more...