08 April 2010

Judgement Time

If you really think about it, almost any reaction to the opening series of a season is an overreaction. Just think, in a just a week we'll have tripled our sample size of 2010 game action on this team. In a month, this series will seem utterly insignificant. After the season, it will be completely forgotten.

But right now this series is all we got, and it would be awfully boring to just take the sanitary and sane long view that avoids hasty judgments. Judgments are fun. Overreaction makes us feel alive. Let us indeed be hasty! Let emotion rule the day! Let no one utter the heresy of sample size!

So, here it is: this Dodger team is no better than a 0.500 team. The talent is there but the will to win is not. Oh sure, they want to win, but that is not the same as the will to win. How do you know the will to win? You know it by clutch moments. Runners are not left stranded at second or third. Starting pitchers avoid walks and go deep into games. Managers don't allow more than one Ortiz to pitch in the same game.

The offense should be good, but you can see how it could be worse than last year's, right? The old players may decline, some may even plummet, and if the young players do not improve and pick up the slack, then there is trouble. Can Kemp and Ethier be better than they were last year? Most likely they'll just be the same as they were last year, which would be plenty good, but being the same is not enough to reverse an offensive slide caused by the likes of Blake and Furcal and Manny getting worse. If you're looking for hope that the offense won't be worse you need to hope Martin or Loney improves. Possible, yes. But not a comfortable thing to have to hope for. Martin is the better bet. Loney I fear will just get worse. Oh, and Blake Dewitt needs to replace what Hudson did last year. But maybe that will be easier with an assist from Belliard and his belly full of improbable extra-base hits picking up the slacks at second.

In truth though the offense is not the big worry. Overall it was pretty good in the opening series, if one can overlook for a moment all the stranded runners in games 1 and 2. Six runs a game will usually get it done, unless the pitching isn't up to the job. And it wasn't. It is pitching, then, that drags the Dodgers down to 0.500 in this instantaneous projection.

The Dodger starters threw a combined 14.1 innings in the three game series, while walking 13. Wow, bad luck. And bad pitching. You won't go deep into games with that many walks. Someone is going to have to improve. The team can't handle 5 innings a start the rest of the year.

Kuroda may do well. Haeger is intriguing and a little scary. We can hope for improvement from Billingsley and Kershaw, though, truly, their starts in the past series were nothing very out of ordinary. They will have more games like that. Both were mildly effective, in spite of the walks, but that is little comfort when you are thrown upon the mercy of a bullpen full of Ortizes so early in a game. There is a Broxton in there too, but he must not pitch unless it is a save situation ( or at least a ninth inning lead ) so he might as well not be in there. But at least Billingsley and Kershaw give us reason to hope. Padilla just appears to be a disaster. I don't rue the Dodgers not going out and getting an ace, I rue them not getting anything better than Padilla. He's going to drag this team down. Padilla is like a quesadilla, except filled with walks instead of cheese. Those walks are going to melt all over the place and put stains in the team's record, and nothing will get those stains out, not with the budget the Dodgers are on.

So that's the story after three games. The Dodgers are doomed. Check back in a week and I'll have them winning 95 games, I guarantee it.

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