If there’s one team more caught-up in a web of managerial drama, it’s the Los Angeles Dodgers. While the Dodgers owner Frank McCourt wasn’t tied to a Bernie Madoff, he was married to someone who wants most of his money. As a result, the Dodgers are strapped for cash, and might not even be able to pay their players! Despite the distractions, the Dodgers are still doing pretty well (their record is 15-17), and Mets/Dodgers match-ups are always well-received. I also had a chance to catch-up with Kenny Shulsen, the lead blogger of Lasorda’s Lair, and exchanged a series six pack with him.
1. Obviously Andre Ethier’s streak will come to an end at some point, but more importantly, is 2011 the year he proves his long-term value to the team?
I certainly hope so. He was having a terrific 2010 until he injured his hand. He is part of the core group of Dodgers who are all entering their prime together, along with Matt Kemp, Chad Billingsley, and Clayton Kershaw. They have already locked up Bills long-term I hope the ownership situation doesn’t prevent them from doing the same with Ethier and the others.
2. Juan Uribe and Rod Barajas have both been playing their usual games (lot’s of HR/RBI for their respective positions with a low BA/OB)–but do you think the signings are at all justified?
Uribe yes, Barajas absolutely not. Uribe doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his defense as well as the number of different positions he can play, yeah he’s going to hit .250 but if you look at middle infielders he was among the top last year in HR and RBI, hopefully he’s got 3 years left in him. Barajas was a total knee-jerk signing because he played really well for them for 6 weeks after the Mets dropped him last year. He is average at best defensively, and even if they get 20 HR from him you can’t have a regular player who hits .200, with Dioner Navarro as his back-up, catcher is a really weak position for the Dodgers, and it’s sickening for Dodger fans to see Russell Martin playing well for the Yankees as he admitted in the off-season he didn’t put baseball first the last couple years he was with the Dodgers.
3. What kind of production are you expecting out of Jerry Sands?
It speaks to the weakness of the Dodgers lineup, that a player who was in Low A ball last year at this time is now their 4th or 5th best offensive threat. His average is down, but he has a solid approach, looks to take the ball the other way, has a bunch of doubles, and just missed his first HR due to the goofy LF wall in Florida. He probably needed more time in the minors and may struggle this year cause he was called up too early but he has the potential to be a .280-300 AG/25-30 HR/80-90 RBI and 20 steals guy who can play both corner OF positions and 1B and has a solid OBP. He already takes more walks than James Loney.
4. Are you worried about Jonathan Broxton’s struggles so far?
Yes, Joe Torre ruined Broxton by using him last year sometimes 5 days in a row for multi-inning saves. It was obvious to all of us watching that something was wrong with him, as he had lost 5 MPH on his fastball, and yesterday he finally admitted to elbow pain to Dodgers trainers. He is awaiting an MRI but I will not be surprised if he’s been pitching the last 9 months with something wrong with his arm.
5. If Broxton continues to struggle, who would you tap as the new closer?
Brox is shut down and will likely end up on the DL. If you can believe it, Vicente Padilla will probably close, but the Dodgers might not want to use him on back to back days due to the surgery he just came off of. Hong-Chih Kuo could also get some opportunities, but he has really struggled with his control so far this year. Potentially Matt Guerrier but he would be the 3rd choice.
6. Which prospect are you most excited about, and when should we expect to see him play in the majors?
Rubby De La Rosa. He is in AA right now but only because the Dodgers AAA team plays in high altitude ball parks. He’s got a high 90’s fastball that he maintains late into games, and a filthy slider. Like all young pitchers control is an issue, but he’s being compared to Pedro Martinez. The Dodgers are trying to keep his innings down so they could use him late in the year, most likely as a power arm in the bullpen. If he doesn’t get the call this year he will definitely be in the rotation next year, he’s got legit dominant stuff. If you play in a keeper fantasy league and he’s available go grab him he has the potential to be an ace.