8 Reasons Why The Los Angeles Dodgers Are At A Crossroads
Los Angeles Dodgers At A Crossroads
The Los Angeles Dodgers are somewhere they thought they would not be at any point during the 2013 season — at a crossroads.
Webster’s defines a crossroads not only as an intersection of two or more roads, but as a point at which a crucial decision must be made that will have far reaching consequences. Refreshing ... unless of course you are a Dodgers fan.
In recent weeks, the media has had a field day with everything from manager Don Mattingly’s status to a possible remaking of the blue crew’s $220 million payroll. Considering where the Dodgers are in the NL West standings, these conversations are par for the course.
L.A. has grossly underachieved so far this year. Its starting pitching beyond ace Clayton Kershaw and surprising rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu has been shaky. The bullpen has surrendered too many leads to mention. That has made it difficult for expensive closer Brandon League or his protégé Kenley Jansen to get many save opportunities.
The most glaring problem is the lack of Dodgers offense. Outside of fairly productive springs from Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, L.A. has been horrible at the plate.
Injuries have not helped either. The team sorely misses shortstop Hanley Ramirez. By the time the All-Star break rolls around, Ramirez will have spent nearly half the season on the DL.
The Dodgers brass is in a tough spot. They certainly don’t want to abandon ship too early, but when will it be obvious the blue crew is out of contention?
It is this position, at the crossroads, that the Los Angeles Dodgers must decide which way is best to go to save the reputations of several popular figures in Chavez Ravine.
Here are eight reasons why the Dodgers find themselves at the crossroads so early in the campaign.
General manager Ned Colletti has done a fantastic job of assembling a team of potential champions. That is what the new ownership asked him to do, therefore the problems cannot be viewed as his fault. However, if wholesale changes are made, they usually begin at the top and it could be the end of Colletti’s reign in Dodgertown.
Don Mattingly is in the final year of his three-year deal. Ushered in by former skipper Joe Torre, it has never been a foregone conclusion that Donny Baseball is the manager for the long haul in L.A. If they don’t turn more losses into wins during June, Mattingly will probably be gone at month’s end.
Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw is not only the best pitcher on the Dodger’s staff, he is probably the best in MLB. His contract in L.A. expires after next season. If the blue crew doesn’t prove to their ace that they are able to build around him, Kershaw will sign elsewhere.
There is no question something is bothering Matt Kemp. Whether it be the change in hitting coach, high pressure on his team to win, or just plain complacency, Kemp is way under-performing. He has a huge contract and is a player in his prime. But his two home runs and 17 RBIs are jaw-dropping low. Some sort of wake-up call may be in order for Kemp to remain in L.A.
Josh Beckett’s contract was likely more than the Dodgers wanted to take on when they made the big trade with the Boston Red Sox. Beckett was the pivotal piece in the trade last year and now it looks like the Dodgers are stuck with him. To boot, the once-great right-hander’s career is in jeopardy due to numbness in his pitching hand. He may never pitch for anyone, let alone the Dodgers, ever again.
Andre Ethier has been a Chavez Ravine favorite for 11 years. However, his production numbers are way down and show no sign of rebounding — at least in Dodger blue. His tough play and experience could be worth something if the Dodgers decide they must dump some payroll.
Ever since the departure of Adrian Beltre, the Dodgers have not had consistently great production from the third base bag. With all the money spent in the past two offseasons, the blue team has completely overlooked the position and is not doing well with the three-player platoon they currently are using. A top prospect is needed here to invigorate the infield.
A.J. Ellis has been a solid catcher for the Dodgers. His defense and game calling has kept things pretty steady, but his offensive production has not been so great. With the Dodgers’ pitching staff being such a big part of the team’s investment, this is important, but you can’t help but wonder how long the Dodgers will stay with Ellis.