Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Random Dodger Stuff

I have a hard time accepting that the MLB team in Japan is an "All Star" team if Drew Butera is on it.
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The Farhan Zaidi hiring is a good one.  The Dodgers are definitely going in a far different direction now with Freidman, Kaplar, Byrnes, Zaidi and Gasparino in the fold.  The way we looked at Dodger baseball from the past is gone.  Watch the innovative moves that will be coming our way.  If we see Mattingly platooning a lot next year, we'll know for sure who is calling the shots in the Dodger organization.
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Having read Kapler's articles over the past few years, I'm convinced that he is in the right place working in the farm system.  He's a strong proponent of teaching fundamentals, and drilling them in at the lower levels.  It might take a few years, but watch for improvements in this area.  Maybe we won't have to hear Vin Scully repeatedly say that run down plays are continually botched by seasoned veterans.
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Arizona Fall League performance of Scott Schebler is showing that the Dodgers have another fine outfield prospect in their system.  Over 69 ABs in, Scott is hitting .297 with three homers.  Not bad for the kid that broke out in pitcher friendly Chattanooga with 28 dingers last season.  Watch for this kid in Spring Training and at Oklahoma City next year.
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The collaborative team of young Dodger executives in place is a very interesting development.  It'll be interesting to see how decision making takes place and the hierarchy of power that will be in play. It's quite a change from the days of Buzzie Bavasi and later Al Campanis, (and even Fred Claire).  Player personnel administration is truly a team effort.  Hopefully they are able to get Mattingly to manage according the the players strengths where he'll take advantage of the chess pieces the brain trust gives him.
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The entire coaching staff returns, meaning that they will be given one last opportunity under the new regime.  I suppose that's fair, but I almost wish they had blown the whole thing up and started over.  Truth is, I'm thinking that Friedman has certain individuals that he has in mind for field managerial and coaching decisions.  The Dodgers went down this road with DePodesta back in '04-'05.  Jim Tracy was forced on him and he never managed according to the "moneyball" playbook and the roster that DePodesta had assembled, hampering DePo from the get go.  We'll see how it happens this go-around.
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It looks like Hanley Ramirez will seek out greener pastures.  And by green I'm referring to money.  No surprise there.  As much as Hanley was a china doll out there, I loved his bat and the threat it posed.  I think he'll be missed.  I still think that if Corey Seager does well in Spring training that the Dodgers should start him at shortstop.  I know he could use more seasoning in the minors, but this kid is special.  I think he has the maturity to survive the inevitable difficulties he'll have in the bigs.  Dodger fans are gonna love this kid.  And he is a SHORTSTOP, not a third baseman.  Seager is not too tall to handle the position.  Ask Cal Ripken.

Corey Seager

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Troy Tulowitski has expressed interest in possibly being traded to the Yankees or Dodgers.  New York is probably a better fit, but he'd be an amazing acquisition if the Dodgers got him.  How that could happen, I haven't a clue.  Considering my earlier thoughts on Corey Seager not being too far away from the majors, I don't see room for him unless he agrees to move to third.  The "he" I refer to here is Tulo going to 3B, and not Seager.  Seager is not a third baseman, nor has he been playing there at all.  It would be unfair to try to transition him over to 3B at the major league level.
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Is this not the slowest paced off season we've ever experienced?  I know the days are dragging for me.  



Sunday, November 2, 2014

Kershaw or Bumgarner

I might hurt a few feelings with this short piece, but that never got in the way of me saying what I perceive to be the truth.  Some friends have posted on a Dodger related bulletin board that they would hands down take Clayton Kershaw over Madison Bumgarner based on statistical comparisons.


I understand their loyalty to Clayton, who will be the Cy Young Award winner again and most likely National League MVP as well when 2014 MLB awards are handed later this month, but they are failing to look at the big picture.  Compare the two left-handers stats and over the 162 game season, and the number shows that Kershaw is better.  That is if you don't factor into that post-season play.  So sure, ignore the greatest post season pitching performances since Christy Mathewson.  That's fair, right?

That's like saying we love how our favorite Nascar driver and his car have performed in the Daytona 500's first 199 laps while it's in first place, but then ignoring that it broke down and was passed in the final lap.  What it comes down to is that the job has to be finished, and that includes the additional 11 victories that a team must attain in post-season play to win the whole thing.  You throw out those games from the statistical mix and the comparison is incomplete of it's most important comparable component.

This game is all about championships and Bumgarner has three of those and significant contributions in all of them.  Clayton has failed in his postseason performances, and more than once.  

So it come down to a simple question: what would you rather have?  A player with an MVP and a couple of Cy Young awards OR a team with three World Series Championship trophies over five seasons?

Yeah, I thought so.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Failure to Acquire Middle Relief Was Ironically the Cause of Colletti's Dismissal

It's not fun watching a World Series when you know your team should be there.  It's worse when the team representing the National League is the Giants.  I can't remember feeling so much bitterness watching the fall classic.  This was the year, it really was.  I can honestly say that I believed the Dodgers were the best in the National League, even with their deficiencies in middle relief, I still believed they had enough to get the ball to Howell and later Jansen in the 8th and 9th innings.

2013 photo, three key members of the Dodger bullpen in happier times.
I mean seriously, the areas of deficiency was "middle relief?"  Who needs middle relief?  Its not like the trade deadline looms and we're all clamoring for our GM to go acquire a guy that can pitch the 6th inning.  You can usually weather through the 6th and 7th innings with the likes of up and coming minor leaguers, and the Dodgers had plenty of those guys like Baez and Frias.  Last year Chris Withrow and Paco Rodriguez filled that role rather nicely.

Now as we watch the Royals and their excellent bullpen, and the vital role it has played in their 10-1 post season performance (thus far), the reality of having quality relief pitchers has really hit home.  These are relief pitchers from top to bottom.  All quality and handling their role with precision.

We are looking at two second place teams that practically ran the table into the fall classic due in a large part to steady defense and quality bullpens.  Two areas of play where the Dodgers lacked strength.  Middle relief isn't that sexy.  In fact, we used to joke at Colletti's efforts to acquire veteran relievers and sign them long term.  Players like Brandon League, Octavio Dotel, Jamey Wright, Brian Wilson, Matt Guerrier, Peter Moylan, Ronald Belisario, Todd Coffey, Chris Perez, Randy Choate, Blake Hawksworth, and others.

So as much as we criticize Colletii and his failure to land quality relief pitchers at this 2014 trade deadline, I honestly ask, "was that criticism fair?"  We'd seen Colletii deal off prospects for relievers in the past and we screamed about how incompetent he was.  Remember the Lambo/McDonald for Dotel trade? That one left me seething in anger.  When August 1st rolled around and he had failed to trade Pederson, Seager or Urias for a veteran relief pitcher, many of us were relieved of that fact.


Funny thing is though, his failure to acquire a middle reliever probably served as his undoing.  I'm pleased that Colletti is gone, because his tenure had it's share of foibles, especially with expensive free agency signings, but I would have never guessed that he would be removed because he failed to sign a middle reliever or two when in previous years, he would stock up on them to the point of silliness.

Here we are though, watching two teams that we never imagined would make it to the World Series.  And it's because the Dodgers couldn't trust their bullpen and they coughed up three games in the NLDS as a result.  It'll be interesting what the new regime does in this area as 2015 nears.  Honestly though, isn't it a bit hypocritical to rip Colletti over his failure to stockpile middle relievers when that was his M.O. for several years?


Saturday, October 18, 2014

That Unpopular Word Rears it's Ugly Head Again : PATIENCE

Andrew Friedman meets the media for the first time at Dodger Stadium on Friday, October 17, 2014.  (photo by Jon SooHoo, L.a. Dodgers, found at:  http://dodgersphotog.mlblogs.com)

Most of us got what we wanted when the Dodgers announced that Andrew Friedman had joined the fold.  Actually it is quite the coup to nab the 37 year old executive from Tampa Bay, but now comes the hard part: PATIENCE.

Do we have it?  Are we prepared to part ways with some Dodger players that are both popular and productive, but maybe a little long in the tooth in order to make the organization younger?  The Dodgers now have to make some moves to secure this organization as a contender year after year.  They're getting old and the door has just about closed for some to nab that championship.

That's what we are going to be facing Dodger fans.  That World Series Championship might be a few more years away.  Considering we've been waiting 26 years, it'll really be a test of patience to wait a few more before Friedman has assembled the core of players that will put them in the World Series year after year.  I honestly don't know if the fan base will be willing to wait a few more years, especially with the Giants amazing five year run.

Matt Kemp is back. That fact is recognized amongst all circles in MLB.  Maybe it's time to unload him to restock the farm system with some top notch prospects.  With Kemp's second half performance, suddenly that expensive contract doesn't seem so exorbitant.  Aside from Puig, the Dodgers will get the most from Kemp amongst their gluttony of outfielders.

At this time each year, we seem to always be looking at the available free agents where we put our eye on a few.  Based on Friedman's track record and his cautious and guarded comments from the press conference, I'm thinking he's looking to steer clear of the free agent market and seek to grow from within and through some wise trading for obscure and talented major leaguers that may slip under the radar of most people.  
Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay's sleek fielding ultility-man, is the type of player that Friedman likes.  Quick feet, good glove, good eye that works the count, power, intelligent.  A two time All-Star that Friedman acquired from Houston when he was an unknown lower level prospect.  (photo by Nick Laham, Getty Images)

Watch for him to acquire speedy players.  The Rays loved guys that could run.  Bartlett, Upton, Crawford,  Zobrist, Jennings, Joyce, and even Longoria were all guys that had multiple seasons of double digit stolen bases.   He likes guys that can catch the ball and provide reliable defense.  Friedman seems to emphasize teams that use their good gloves that save runs as much as the bats that produce them. In the past seven years, the Rays committed the fewest errors in the A.L. once, and ranked between second and fourth another three times.

Making these changes might be a long process.  It usually takes two or three years for a new regime to put their stamp on a team.  In Friedman and the Dodgers case, it may be even longer because there are so many lengthy and expensive contracts amongst the 40 man roster already.  For a guy looking for a real challenge, Friedman has found it.  The press corps that continually say he's suddenly inherited a lot of money are dead wrong.  The Dodgers have overspent, and Friedman is in place to fix that.  

What I'm trying to say is that we shouldn't expect him to go out and spend tens of millions of dollars on players like Russell Martin, James Shields or Jon Lester because Los Angeles has the deepest pockets in baseball.  The time for outlandish spending is probably over for a while.  There may be an exception here and there, but for the most part this guy is coming in to reign in the spending and make the organization stronger at all levels organizationally.  That my friends will require some changes.  Probably a few unpopular roster moves and overall, a lot of patience.  Do we have it?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Requiem for the 2014 Season

(AP photo by Charles Rex Arbogast)


I gave it a few days, knowing full well that it's best not to write with the mind skewed by a ton of emotion.  It could come off as too raw, irrational maybe, or overly magnifying the negative.  "Give it a few days," I thought.  "I can then cool down and give an introspective assessment of the 2014 season."

I have done that now.  More than five days have passed and I've accepted the Dodger's plight.  It's not as if there is any other option.  A couple of ribbing emails from Giant fans have come and gone.  The condolences from co- workers also.  The 2014 season is done for us and I must say, I have not calmed down.

In the last 100+ hours I have seriously considered dropping my baseball fandom altogether.  I know it can be done.  I did it before with another sport, distancing myself from football with the Rams departure.  Why not again?  I spend an inordinate amount of time following the Dodgers and for what?  Twenty-six years of ineptitude?  Heartbreak after heartbreak?  From Aase to Zachary.  These guys break my heart every year.  The fact that I can think of players from A to Z without having to look them up is proof positive of that.

So without further ado, here are some critical off-season moves that I believe should be made.  Some radical, others not so much, but each having received a lot of thought over the past few days.

Let me start off by saying that I strongly believe that the Dodgers need to seriously consider getting younger.  Otherwise in a year or two, they are looking like the current Philadelphia Phillies.  Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, A.J. Ellis, Hanley Ramirez, Juan Uribe, Andre Ethier, Josh Beckett, Jamie Wright, Brian Wilson and even Matt Kemp are on the wrong side of age thirty.  The Dodgers are hamstrung by some of their contracts, forcing them to hold on to a few for a few more years.  With guys like Pederson, Urias and Seager, they need to be in future plans and not future trade plans.  Seager is a shortstop and a good one at that.  Moving him to 3B doesn't make sense to me.  I see him in the mold of Cal Ripken Jr., and with Arruebarrena, Rojas and Alex Guerrero able to play the position, as a stop-gap.  One of them can step aside when Seager arrives in the bigs, probably in 2016.

Ned Colletti
GONE.  It's time.  He's had 9 years and about a billion dollars in payroll to spend.  Add up the contracts, there was about a billion doled out, with half of it being wasted money on guys like Schmidt, Manny Ramirez, Ted Lilly, Andruw Jones, Billingsley and Ethier.   Don't be fooled by the 5 playoff appearances.  Truth is he hasn't produced, and considering the gobs of money he has had to spend, I seriously can't see how he can defend himself. Look at the names: Jason Schmidt, Andruw Jones, Manny Ramirez, Juan Pierre, Andre Ethier, Luis Gonzalez, Bill Mueller, Brett Tomko, Nomar Garciaparra, Shea Hillenbrand, Mike Lieberthal, Mark Sweeney, Eseban Loaiza, Vicente Padilla, David Wells, Angel Berroa, Casey Blake, Octavio Dotel, Orlando Hudson, Mark Loretta, Ronnie Belliard, Jim Thome, Eric Milton, Jon Garland, George Sherrill, Ryan Theriot, Garrett Anderson, Scott Podsednik, Ted Lilly, Jack Taschner, Reed Johnson, Skip Schumacher, Juan Rivera, Nick Punto, Eugenio Velez, Tony Gwynn Jr., Dana Eveland, Luis Cruz, Blake Hawksworth, Adam Kennedy, Jerry Hairston, Bobby Abreu, Shane Victorino, Edinson Volquez, Todd Coffey, Carlso Marmol.  That is scrap heap heaven, and the money spent on those names could have paid for the franchise and maybe a second one about 5 or 6 years ago.

(USATSI)

Then factor in some of the prospects that Colletti gave away to get some of those players, (Carlos Santana, Ethan Martin, Jesmuel Valentin, Rubby DeLaRosa, Andrew Lambo, Andy LaRoche, Justin Ruggiano, Allen Webster, James McDonald, Nathan Eovoldi all off the top of my head).  Granted a lot of them aren't household names, but at the time they were dealt they had value.  The track record isn't good.  Colletti botched so many deals that it boggles the mind he still has a job.  If he does keep his job, I seriously question whether Guggenheim ownership is serious about winning.  Ned has overstayed by about 4 years now and deep inside we all know that once he leaves he'll return to his true loyalty - the San Francisco Giants.

Don Mattingly
GONE.  Nice man, terrible strategical manager.  Bunting to set up intentional walks to his best pinch hitter so that the opposition can pitch to Drew Butera?  Yes, it happened twice this year and both games were losses.  I won't tear him apart for the NLDS because he was hamstrung by the weak bullpen he was given, but he didn't have the guts to try something unconventional to resolve that problem.  Like say, insert Kenley Jansen in the 7th inning when a threat emerged or use Dan Haren to relieve Kershaw.  Sorry, teaching Puig a lesson in game four of the NLDS was a bit late.  It doesn't matter how much he had struggled.  He was still an offensive threat and a quality defensive piece.

Don Mattingly has been given his chance.  His talented roster got him to the post season twice.  I'll argue that the Dodger have won overcoming his mistakes.  He isn't a man that is able to take them to the next level.  If his roster was head over heels better than the rest of the league, he could probably do that, (as Torre did with the Yankees in the late 90s), but the L.A. roster isn't that good.  Don's a good man and he works hard, but he's a stubborn manager who ignores his past mistakes...committing them over and over.  He probably should be a hitting coach and that's it.

Mattingly's coaching staff will have to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.  Too many mistakes by Bundy did him in.  Crim might be the fall guy by the lackluster bullpen.  Wallach failed to talk Mattingly out of a number of boneheaded moves involving double switches, bunting, and lifting pitchers.  I loved Wallach as a possible managerial candidate before, but now, who knows?  McGwire has his positive contributions, but the bats struggled a good portion of the year too.

Hanley Ramirez
It could go either way.  I'm indifferent.  When he was on the field and giving a full effort, he performed, but he could hardly be counted on for anything.  Giving this China doll a $15.3 million qualifying offer is only a good idea if the Dodgers are certain that he'll leave and they'll get a draft pick as compensation.  Otherwise, it might be $15,000,000 thrown away because Hanley cannot stay healthy for a month, let alone an entire season.  Defensively he is a complete liability.

A.J. Ellis
GONE (unless he agrees to a backup role).  However, if the Dodgers will consider a player/coach position, I say they do it.  That could be a difficult proposition, but truth is I see Ellis as a potential future manager in the organization.  If Ellis agrees to a back-up catcher/bench coach job, I think it could be a good fit.  He does his homework and he's about as cerebral a player that the Dodgers have.  Physically though, Ellis wasn't getting it done.  Poor pitch framing, too many lazy passed balls, (possibly caused by his knee problems), a poor throw out of stealers ratio and a .191 batting average.  He raked in the 4 playoff games, but it was too little too late.  The season was a disaster for him, both offensively and defensively.


A possible player/manager?  (Getty Images)

Let me throw this out there.  Player/manager A.J. Ellis?  Radical thought but maybe he is ideal for it.  Nobody studies the game harder.  Let Zack Greinke take on pitching coach chores as well.  We may not win, but it would certainly be interesting.  Ellis is managerial material and it may not be wise to toss him out there without any minor league managerial experience, but Ellis might be in the Ausmus mold and not be the type of person that needs to grind things out in the minors.

Drew Butera
GONE.  Please, do we even need to discuss this guy?  He's terrible.  Was Tim Fedeowicz thought of so negatively that Butera surpassed him on the depth chart?  Since that's the case, Fedex needs to go too.

Roberto Hernandez, Kevin Correia, Paul Maholm
GONE. Old, unrelieable.  Each given a chance to prove themselves and they all failed.

Chad Billingsley
GONE.  Buy out the contract and give him his $3 million to walk.  Billingsley might recover, but he's not worth another contract.  Too bad because he could have been a great one.  Truth is though, he's on the wrong side of 30 and there's too many question marks here.  If he agrees to come back at an incentive laden contract, well then that would be okay, but you know a team like Cincinnati near his Defiance, Ohio home will get a preferential nod from him.

Jamie Wright
GONE.  Forty year old unreliable relievers have no business on a team that needs to get younger.

Dan Haren
GONE if he decides to not take the guaranteed $10 million.  If he doesn't take that, he's nuts.  Haren came back and was solid in the last month, but he's going to be 34 years old next year and his fastball rarely reaches 90 MPH now.  As a number 5 pitcher, he's serviceable, but again, this team needs to get younger.  Why not let Zach Lee or Chris Reed try out being the number 5 guy?  You only have to pay him the major league minimum.

I think Haren comes to his senses and realizes that the Dodger deal is the best one he'll find out there.  I'm sure his agent is looking into what the market will fetch for him.  Perhaps a team in need of pitching will offer him over $10 million, but I highly doubt it.

Weaknesses:

The catching position without a doubt.  There's nothing in the high minors.  There are doubts with the personnel in the low minors.  AJ was awful this year and Butera and Fedex followed suit.  The rumors of reacquiring Russell Martin are intriguing but there are problems there.  First, Martin left on bad terms and we all know what a bad Russell Martin can be as catcher.  Additionally, Martin is going to be 32 years old next year.  That's old for a catcher, and locking him up to a multi-year deal gets the Dodgers much older.  Unfortunately Martin is about the only catching option out there on the free agent market.

Middle Relief:  The long man is non-existent.  This team was hurt greatly by the injuries to Chris Withrow and Jose Dominguez.  Brian Wilson and Brandon League couldn't be trusted.  J.P. Howell had an awful final month.  This team will need to depend on the kids: Paco Rodriguez, Pedro Baez, Carlos Frias, Yimi Garcia, Daniel Coloumbe.  I'm not sure if Scott Elbert survives and is back.  That's a lot of youth to depend on but how else are they going to learn except on the big league level.  The club may have to ride with these guys and then attempt to acquire solid middle relief via trade mid-season.

Starting pitching:  After Greinke and Kershaw there are concerns.  Ryu was shut down twice with injuries and required a cortisone shot and three weeks rest to pitch game three of the NLDS.  That is a concern.  This may be thte beginning of the end for Hyung-Jin Ryu.  I hope I'm wrong.   Haren would be a fool not to return, but he's a number five guy.  In the minors, nobody is really emerging to be thrust in the starting pitcher role.  Whoever is sitting in the GM chair will have to deal with this problem.  Jon Lester would be ideal, but are they cutting payroll?  If so, he won't be an option.  If he is available.  They should break the bank and have the top three starters in the game on their staff.

Proposed changes:
Andrew Friedman, Tampa Bay's 37 year old General Manager

Management: There is talk of Tampa Bay's Andrew Friedman.  He'd be a sabermetrician's dream.  And if Joe Maddon accompanied him to L.A., it would be a perfect fit.  I know that's a pipe dream, but what a change that would be.  So significant that I'm fairly sure they could lead the ball club into dynasty status for years to come.  Friedman has a long-term vision that will keep the team competitive for years to come.  Maddon is a great strategical manner and he lives in Southern California.  They are too perfect of a fit.

Kim Ng is a name that is surfacing.  The Dodgers are pioneers in so many areas of the game.  I wouldn't put it past them to hire the first female G.M. in the game and she'd be an excellent choice.   From within there's Logan White, and he is certainly worthy of the General Manager reigns, but there would be a learning curve with him as he has always been leading scouting.  He certainly knows the game and I think we'd all be ecstatic with him at the helm.  The loss of DeJon Watson is making the scouting department in need of an urgent hire now.  Bob Engle is already in house.  Maybe he's the replacement there.

So What do we do now?
That's a tough one.  Trying to stomach the NLCS is about as hard as it gets.  The thought of a third Giants championship in five years is enough to make me gag, and it's real probable because Kansas City or Baltimore in the series will be just happy to get there, whereas the Gnats fully understand the process and won't stop until the World Series is through.

It's a long off-season and this one might be the longest of all.  If there ever was a real chance for the Dodgers to win the whole thing, this was the opportunity and it was full out blown.  We've been around long enough to know that these opportunities don't come very often.  And now Kershaw will have to hear over and over again that he's not a big game pitcher and that he fails under the big spotlight.  You'd think that last year's failure would have been enough motivation to get him past that, but it didn't happen.  

The next few weeks are crucial to the Dodgers future.  If changes are put in place in the top managerial levels, I say they're on the right track.  If not, we'll probably see more of the same and a team that simply gets older that will fall out of contention in the coming years.  It's a critical juncture in the future of the franchise.  Hopefully the Guggenheim group sees the light and makes the correct moves to get this ball club to the next level.








Sunday, October 5, 2014

Matt Carpenter...the Latest Thorn in the Dodger's Side

In another game not made for cardiac patients, the Dodgers came up on top this time.  It was a  3-2 win over the pesky Cardinals on Saturday night, and their leadoff man has emerged as the latest heartbreaking Dodger nemesis.  His name is Matt Carpenter.


(Photo by Mark J. Terrill/AP)

Carpenter alone may be responsible for the ousting of Dodger manager Don Mattingly before this post season play is over.  Mattingly is pushing all the wrong buttons when dealing with the Cardinal lead off hitter and third baseman.  Concerns of power bats like Holliday and Adams are being overshadowed by Carpenter, who is teeing off against left-handed hurlers, and pretty good ones at that.

It is getting to the point that the Dodgers are going to have to reassess their strategy against Carpenter.  The man is about as automatic as Matt Stairs was whenever he faced Broxton in '08 and '09.  When you are counting the hitters to determine when Carpenter steps up to the plate again, well that is considered "ownage."  And Carpenter currently owns the Dodger pitching staff.  

Where did this guy come from?
Pretty much out of nowhere is not the answer.  Carpenter's father, Rick, was James Loney's High School coach at Elkins High in the Houston, Texas area.  Fact is, both Carpenter and Loney won a Texas state championship as teammates in 2002.  Matt continued his high school career for another two years while the elder Loney took off to Vero Beach to play pro ball with the Dodgers after graduating.

Elkins was a high school that has produced several major leaguers and currently four that play in the bigs right now, (Loney, Carpenter, Kip Wells and Chad Huffman).  Unlike Loney, Carpenter didn't enter into professional baseball right out of high school.  He went off to Texas Christian University and excelled there before being drafted in the 13th round draft pick by St. Louis in 2009.

Carpenter would have gone higher in the draft, but an injury shut him down during his senior year.  The Cards took a flier on him and here he is, five years later with a Silver slugger and two all star game appearances in his back pocket.  Add to that the numerous clutch post-season extra-base hits to his credit and Carpenter already will long be remembered in Dodger playoff lore as a true "Dodger-killer."

"That guy's as tough an out as there is in the National League.  Especially when the stakes are raised," said Dodger catcher A.J. Ellis on Carpenter after yesterday's action.  He is recognized now by the Dodgers as a serious threat, and one that the Dodgers will have to solve if they plan on winning this series.  This is a guy that is able to focus and visualize his success before doing it, telling Fox Sports' Erin Andrews following the Friday night victory: "I'm not gonna lie, I was thinking about the hits off him (Kershaw) from last year (2013 NLCS Game 6)."

As the Dodgers attempt to survive St. Louis, Matt Carpenter has to be primarily on their minds.  If they don't solve the Carpenter dilemma, the 2014 post season could be cut short way ahead of their goals. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Ultimate Heartbreaker

It was the kind of game that makes you turn away from it for good.  A punch to the gut loss that simply makes you say "this isn't worth it."  It was one of those games that you'll always remember as the one that broke your heart and spirit all in one.
(photo by Jayne Kamin Oncea - USA Today Sports)

You can second guess Mattingly and curse up a streak but truth is, what are you supposed to do when you have the best pitcher on the planet pitching with a 6-1 lead in the sixth inning?  The weak middle relief corps did the Dodgers in because Mattingly didn't trust it enough to insert it into the game in the 7th inning.  Though Kershaw was getting tagged batter after batter, he was left out there to die.

That was a once in a lifetime loss, but the Dodgers have had quite a few of them over the years and I hate to say it, but they're probably done this post season.  I mean, how do you recover from that?   It'll be the game that Giant fans gloat about, even though they had nothing to do with it.  Cardinal fans will remind us of it for years to come (and they had everything to do with it).  

It makes you wonder if we're being punished for some unknown reason.  Did any of us really believe that the late inning comeback was anything more than a tease?  Just a little more salt to pour on the open wound that opened up in the top of the 7th inning.  That tying run standing 90 feet away from home was simply there to raise false hopes.

So we go into game two in a "must win" situation.  Zack Greinke takes the ball and we hope the tide turns.  There's no such thing as a safe lead against this St. Louis club.  A ball club that we frankly thought didn't have that type of offensive prowess in them.  You've got to hand it to them, they came back from the dead and stole this one.

Man, it hurts bad.  This loss is about the lowest of lows I've ever felt watching this club.  If the Dodgers are able to come back from this it'll be the epic-est of epic recoveries.  Baseball is certainly a cruel game.