After sweeping their 2 game set in Arizona, the Dodgers look to continue their winning ways on the road as they take their MLB best road mark of 42-26 down south to PETCO Park this weekend for a 3 game series with the San Diego Padres , as Dan Haren looks to continue his recent success, having won 3 of his last 4 decisions. Haren will be matched up against Andrew Cashner, who , in spite of his 2-6 record, sports a very solid 2.43 ERA.
Pool Party ( Again ) Anyone ?
By now, you’ve all become familiar with the Dodgers pool party that took place last season after clinching the NL West at Chase Field. We all know that not everyone, particularly those in the DBacks organization, we’re none to thrilled about The Blue’s ” Pool Party ” .
So this past week, a buddy of mine decides to wear a shirt he has made in reference to last season’s pool celebration. Armando Mendoza, @daadozer on twitter and instagram, was asked during this past Tuesday’s game to turn his shirt over inside out…
I wore my where's the pool shirt and they made me turn it inside out. Of course I turned it over when I walked inside
Of course in this day of social media where nothing is a secret, this made more than headline news . Unfortunately, this is NOT the first time the Arizona Diamondbacks organization has gone to such lengths to prevent Dodgers fans from wearing their favorite blue attire .
However, thanks to the power of social media and the help of other fellow Dodger fans and fansites such as DodgersBeat and the Dodgers-LowDown among many who helped out a fellow Dodger fan, sanity prevailed and the shirt was allowed to be worn in it’s proper position. As for the shirt…
Here is the link as to where you can purchase the same shirt Armando wore. Oh yeah, you don’t have to be an Arizona native Dodger fan to proudly sport it…
Also, with the upcoming Labor Day weekend, check out his twitter handle @daadozer and thank Armando not only for being a hard core Dodger fan but also thank this former U.S. Marine corporal for helping protect our country as well. Perhaps the Diamondback organization could do a pre-game honor in recognition for his military work for all the commotion they have created ?
Hey Mando, you had our country’s back, Eric from the Dodgers Low-Down and I got your’s.
Did you all enjoy last night’s all-star game ? Our boys that represented made quite an impression last night, particularly Kershaw and Greinke, striking out a combined 3 batters on only 21 pitches during their 2 innings.
Dee Gordon also made his presence felt scoring on a 2 out double by Jonathan Lucroy of the Brewers and making a fine defensive play in the 6th inning.
Yasiel Puig was not so fortunate last night, striking out 3 times in his first all-star appearance, tying 11 players for the record for most times to strike out in an all-star game. However, Puig is in some fine company, as Lou Gherig, Mickey Mantle, Willie McCovey, Johnny Bench, Albert Belle and Craig Biggio have also achieved this dubious feat. Hey, even the great one’s have their bad days…
Other All-Star Bits
Congratulations to the Angels Mike Trout on being named the 2014 All-Star MVP . At 22 years of age, Trout is the second youngest player to win all-star game MVP behind Ken Griffey Jr. in 1992.
Tip of the Cap
Thank You Derek Jeter for 19 memorable seasons. Last night marked the final time the Yankee captain would participate in an All-Star game, marking the 13th time he would play in the mid-summer classic.
Last All-Star Thought
The all-star game should not determine home field advantage for the World Series. I have felt that way since the inception of the rule in 2003 regardless of which league comes out the winner…
Looking Back at the 1st Half
The first half of the season, which seems like the longest 1st half in recent memory given the season officially started in Australia on March 22nd, was filled once again with it’s highs and lows, highlighted of course by the no-hitters thrown by Josh Beckett and Clayton Kershaw.
Like last season, the Dodgers did not exactly start the season off fast out of the gate, falling behind as much as 9.5 games in the standings behind the Giants. However, the Dodgers, like last season, have rebounded to finish the 1st half strong and will head into the 2nd half not only in 1st place in the NL West but also with the National League’s best record.
Why Dre is Happy ?
What else can you say about Kershaw and Greinke, perhaps the best 1-2 starting combo in the game right now ?
Dee Gordon has proved to everyone that he is now our everyday starting 2nd baseman. Gordon looks more confident in his play this season with both the bat and glove and it is certainly showing .
A strong finish to the 1st half has our Boys in position to reclaim the NL West.
The back end of our rotation. Dan Haren can be on or off, but his recent lack of velocity could be a factor as to why he has given up 20 home runs. Josh Beckett, at this point a strong candidate for Comeback Player of the Year, has not pitched a full season in 2 seasons and concern over his recent hip condition has raised some other concerns as to how much further into the season he can pitch. Whether he does come back, my concern for Josh is if he can keep up his 1st half performance.
Which Brian Wilson will we see in the 2nd half ? Brian blamed the lack of a prolonged spring training to his early season stint on the DL, but since his return has still struggled to return to his late season form of last season. Can Brandon League continue his resurgence into the 2nd half ? JP Howell has quietly done his part in getting the ball to Jansen, who hasn’t quite been as dominant, but still is one of the league leaders in saves. I look for another strong 2nd half finish from our closer.
Productivity from the offense. The reason the Dodgers are where they are right now ? You know it. Starting pitching. However, even the best starting 5 could use some needed run support. How will the outfield situation pan out ? Will a trade be in store for the Blue ?
This is Still Matt’s Team
Yup. That’s right. I said it. This is still Matt Kemp’s team to lead. That is if he want’s to be that leader. Do I expect a rebirth of the Matt Kemp of 2011 ? No. What I want to see from Matt Kemp, present day, 2014 ? I want to see him take control of the clubhouse and be that vocal leader every team should have. I don’t necessarily mean showing anger when he is in a slump. Puig is still to young and ripe for that role. Kemp, the longest tenured Dodger alongside Andre Ethier, needs to show that this is still his team . As Matt goes, so goes the Blue. Hopefully, into another deep run into October…
Overall, my forecast have been on and off . In the AL East, Tampa struggled early but has climbed to within 9.5 games of the lead. A recent run has Detroit standing 6.5 games ahead in the AL Central, the largest lead of any division leader heading into the 2nd half. Wholesale changes could be in order for the Rangers, 21 games under .500 and 21 games out. I stated that 2 managers could be on the hot seat in the AL West, the two being Ron Washington and Mike Scioscia. It’s safe to say that one is off the hot seat. The other ? Do the Rangers reward Washington for the past 5 seasons and honor his contract extension through 2015 ?
So, where do I call an audible ? In the AL East, I’m going to stick with the Rays, even with the fact they sit 9.5 back and have 4 other teams to get past. Should the Rays still be in contention by the end of this month, perhaps all talks of David Price in another uniform will die down.
In the AL Central, I picked Detroit and will stick with that. In the AL West, this is where I call an audible, and a huge audible too. This is where I picked the Rangers to reclaim the AL West. As I said, that’s where I call my audible. The AL West could possible have 3 teams in post-season play. 2 of them could very well be a serious threat into October. My call ? Oakland wins it’s 3rd straight AL West title, with the Angels and Mariners as the wild cards. If Seattle can find some offensive support down the stretch, they may be a serious October contender.
Playoff Picks. Wild Card Angels over the Mariners , ALDS Tigers over the Angels, A’s over Tampa. ALCS Oakland showed they want it now with the acquisition of Samardzija and Hammel. I’m still sticking with my pre-season AL Champ pick. Detroit. Detroit over Oakland, 3 years in a row. This could be a developing rivalry, right Justin Verlander ?
Verlander on A's trade: "They made that trade because of us." Verlander, Tigs have eliminated A's the last two years.
Here is where my accuracy is somewhat on target. In the NL East I said it would be a 2 team race between the Nationals and Braves and as of now both stand tied atop their division . After struggling early in the season, the Cardinals have made up 6.5 games in the standings within the last 2 weeks and sit 1 game behind the Brewers atop the NL Central. 3.5 games separate the Brewers, Cardinals, Reds and Pirates in the NL Central. It is possible 3 teams in this division see post-season play again this season. Who could be the one left out of the dance ?
And finally. The NL West . In spite of the fact the Dodgers were the overwhelming favorites to repeat as NL West Champions, I still felt the division would not be a runaway. The Giants started out hot but have fizzled as of late. The Dodgers, in spite of some offensively challenged numbers, head into the 2nd half with not only the lead atop the NL West but with the National Leagues best record and are still the favorites to come out on top in the NL West. The Giants will continue to challenge The Blue, but lack of a serious offensive threat and depth will derail them in the end.
As for my other pre-season NL picks, Dre call’s no audible here. For the Wild Cards, i’m sticking with the Pirates over the Braves. For the NLDS , the Cardinals over the Nationals, and the Dodgers over the Pirates, setting up a rematch of last year’s NLCS between the Dodgers and Cardinals, in which I have our Boys in Blue coming out on top.
Want more coverage of our Boys in Blue ? Follow theDodgers Low Down for all things Dodger Blue. This should be an exciting 2nd half. GO DODGERS !!!
In front of City Hall, NYE 2013 with Benny P. This is gonna be our year !!!!
Nats have the best rotation in the division anchored by Stephen Strasburg. Acquisition of Doug Fister form the Tigers will also be a boost to the rotation. If the Nats, especially Bryce Harper can remain healthy for a good part of the season, Nats will be dangerous in the NL. Nats finished last season strong, going 26-12 down the final stretch.
Braves bats will be providing some heavy lumber again this season, especially the middle of their lineup. The loss of 2 of their starters, Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, could be a hindrance to the rotation. But with an offense that includes the power trio of Freddie Freeman, Justin Upton and Evan Gattis, and a strong back end of the bullpen, the Braves still remain a legitimate threat to win this division.
Phillies starting rotation still sport a formidable 1-2 tandem in Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels but age has caught up to this organization that had made it to the post-season 5 consecutive seasons from 2007-2011, appearing in 2 World Series and coming out on top in 2008. 5 years ago, I would have loved to have Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz in my lineup.
In my surprise pick, I’m picking the Marlins to finish beyond the NL East’s cellar. It will be interesting to how if NL ROY pitcher Jose Fernandez follows up his ROY campaign as he will be anchoring this young rotation. Marlins still have too many inexperience to pose a serious challenge for the division.
The Mets starting pitching should make for a lot of close games, but scoring runs continues to be an issue for them. David Wright is not the home run threat he once was. I’m also interested to see if Bartolo Colon can match his somewhat surprising performance of 2013, and I say somewhat because, yes, he will be turning 41 in May. Can he pitch 200 innings ? Having said that, Colon should still provide a steady veteran presence in their rotation.
So, as for the NL East , it appears that there is no lack of pitching from the top on down the bottom. I still see this being a 2 team race between the Nationals and Braves.
Over the last 14 seasons dating back to 2000, the Cardinals have had the most successful run in the National League, with 10 post-season appearances, including 4 trips to the Fall Classic in which they have won 2. Aside from the loss of David Freese, the Red Birds pretty much field the same personnel from last year’s squad that took them to the World Series. Their pitching staff, a good mix of veterans and youngsters from Adam Wainwright to Michael Wacha, could be the deepest in all of baseball. The offense along with Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina is also expected to put up some big numbers.
The Pirates, after going 21 consecutive seasons of sub .500 baseball, not only broke that dubious streak but won 94 games en route to a Wild Card victory over the Reds before taking the eventual NL Champion Cardinals the full 5 games in the NLDS. A lot has been made of the Bucs pitching and defense, which was certainly a huge factor in returning to post-season play for the first time in 21 years. The Bucs and their fans got a taste last year, now everyone in Steel City wants more, and they should. If they can add another solid bat or two to back Andrew McCutchen to their offense ranked 9th in the NL in scoring last year, the Bucs could make another serious run in October.
Overlooked last year was the fact the Reds made it to post-season play for the 3rd time in 4 years. However, closing out the season on a 5 game skid, including a 3 game sweep at the hands of the Pirates in the season’s final weekend at home, capped off by their Wild Card loss to the Bucs, eventually cost Dusty Baker his job as skipper. Fair ? I don’t think so. But that’s life in any major coaching capacity these day’s when even a hint of success is achieved and higher expectations are not immediately met. The big 3 run producers, Votto, Bruce and Phillips remain intact. The health of the pitching may be a question mark. The bullpen will be thin at times with the loss of Aroldis Chapman until at least June. ( Thank goodness he’s OK after being hit in the head by a line drive from Royals Salvador Perez ) .
Ryan Braun return from his suspension will definitely add some pop to the Brewers lineup along with Lucroy, Segura and Carlos Gomez. Pitching, as well as keeping key players off the DL , will be key for the Brew Crew if they are to sneak up toward the NL Central, the only division with 3 teams with 90 plus wins in 2013.
It has been 105 years since the Cubs have won a World Series. With all the youth on their team, it’s highly doubtful Wrigley Field, celebrating it’s 100th birthday, will finally be presented with a World Series triumph any time soon. Anthony Rizzo led the club with 23 dingers, and he could pass that up this season, but with a thin all-around lineup comprised of youngsters, he may not get many opportunities to drive home many runs.
So the NL Central could very well have 3 post season teams this year. St Louis with all it’s depth is the favorite to win the division, but Pittsburgh and Cincinatti, the somewhat forgotten team of last season, could pose a serious challenge for the NL Central crown.
The Dodgers are the overwhelming favorites to repeat as NL West Champions. Many expect the Blue to run away with this division. If only it we’re so easy. However, with all the depth they have, there really is no reason to think the Dodgers will not win the division unless injuries, which no expert prognosticator, can ever predict. The starting 5 could potentially have 2 20 plus game winners in their rotation in Kershaw and Greinke, and a couple of 15 plus game winners with Haren and Ryu. The bullpen, anchored by Kenley Jansen along with the return of Brian Wilson and the acquisition of Chris Perez, could be the best in the game.
Is this the year Dee Gordon solidifies his everyday spot in the infield at 2nd base ? Will the Dodgers be with 4 outfielders the entire season ? Can Matt Kemp ever return to the Matt Kemp of 2011 ? Yasiel Puig, after his breakout rookie season in which he played a huge part in the Dodgers run toward the post-season, how will he handle the pressures of higher expectations in 2014 ? Yeah, I’m being somewhat pessimistic. But that’s what fans who follow their teams closely do. Having said that, this team really is loaded. Many of these so-called issues are ones lots of teams would like to have, especially when talking about the outfield and pitching depth. I haven’t even mentioned the presence of Hanley and AGon in the lineup, also expected to put up some more big numbers this season.
Our rivals up north, the Giants, after struggling through 2013 with many of it’s players spending time in the DL and an unlikely shaky season from it’s rotation, look to give the Dodgers a run for the division. As much as Cain and Lincecum struggled, they still form a pretty formidable tandem along with Madison Bumgardner. The offense may be a question though, however, if the top of their lineup can stay healthy, Hunter Pence and of course Buster Posey could have more run-producing opportunities. How does a lighter Pablo Sandoval do in a contract year ?
There will be no shortage of runs in Arizona this year, as long as they got notorious Dodger killer Paul Goldschmidt in that lineup along with the addition of former Angel Mark Trumbo. The starting 5 is another story and the loss of Patrick Corbin before the Opening Series did not do any favors to the top of their rotation. The usually durable and dependable Bronson Arroyo should provide a good veteran presence. Will it be enough for the DBacks to pose a serious challenge in the NL West ?
The strength of the Padres, celebrating 10 years in Petco Park, has always been their pitching. Even with the changes in the outfield, Petco still remains a pitcher friendly yard. Now if only scoring runs wasn’t such an issue. Not helping matters is Josh Johnson, slated to be the Opening Day starter, is starting the season on the DL. With Chase Headley and Carlos Quentin in their lineup, will they have enough talent in that lineup to provide those two ample opportunities to drive home runs, always a tough task at pitcher friendly Petco.
The Rockies, opposite the Padres, have always been known for high offensive numbers. Playing 81 games at Coors Field certainly helps, especially when you have guys like Tulowitzki, CarGo and Michael Cuddyer in that lineup. Pitching, on the other hand, has historically been an issue for the Rockies. I really think it does have something to do with the thought of pitching in thin air , thus possibly affecting the mechanics of their starters.
As stated earlier, NL West is their for the Dodgers to take. Will they run away with the division ? No. I look for the Giants and DBacks to be the Dodgers closest contender, with the Padres and even the Rockies being possible sleepers to move up in the division. I still feel this is Matt Kemp’s team to lead. He may not be the 5-tool player that we saw in 2011 and may never go back to that form, but his presence in the lineup along with Hanley, Gonzales, Puig and either Ethier or Crawford, can still not be overlooked.
More of Dre’s Take’s…
I also would like to see Juan Uribe to build upon his performance from last year . It’s been noted that Juan struggles after a contract season. We will find out this year which Uribe we see, be it the Juan of 2011-12, or Juan Uribe of 2013.
And of course, let’s not forget our favorite Cuban, Yasiel Puig. Yes, he may be the most talented player the Dodgers have, which, when compared to a healthy Matt Kemp, is saying a lot. Yes, he still has the potential for an even bigger upside. And of course, yes, there’s also potential that dealing with the young Cuban Missile can be an ongoing issue. By now, we all know that Yasiel Puig was called out by manager Don Mattingly after last Saturday’s 7-5 win over the DBacks, in which Puig went 3 for 5. There is no denying the world of talent this kid posses. What is driving Mattingly, and others up the wall , including the fans…. ATTITUDE .
I have in the past questioned Mattingly himself on some of his decision making ( I’m sure you have too ), but in this case I see his point. They often say young talented players are the most difficult to handle. L.A. Sports fans, lets remember some guy named Kobe whom Phil, and even his own teammates, particularly some guy named Shaq, we’re not always on the same page either. Kobe and Phil still found a way to win 5 rings together. Puig will no doubt play another huge role as to how far the Dodgers go this year. Puig will also make more mistakes along the way, you know, growing pains. All of us will feel those pains along the way too. But as former MLB player Gabe Kapler said earlier this week, Mattingly can’t handle Puig by himself . Yes, like anything in any organization, it’s going to take a whole team to make this all work out. Calling a team meeting to address issues surrounding Puig is a start. Let’s see how this story turns out with both Puig and the Dodgers. This may sound crazy, but in some way’s Puig reminds me of another Dodger who had a world of talent as well as a world of baggage. Does the name Raul Mondesi ring a bell to you ? I really don’t see Puig going down the road of Mondesi, a world of talent met with unfulfilled promises. It’s all there for Puig to take, with a little help from his friends…
Dre’s NL Playoff Forecast
Pirates over the Braves. The Bucs vanquish the ghosts of 1992.
Cards taken to the limit again in the NLDS this time by Washington. Could be the premier LDS matchup
Dodgers too deep for the Bucs on the offensive side, Dodgers in 5
A repeat of last year’s NLCS, if all goes to form, this will be another evenly matched series
The World Series
It’s been 26 years, the time is now !!! Dodgers over the Tigers in 6 !!!
Hey Dre !!! Are you really the longest tenured Dodger ? It doesn’t seem that long. It’s time we get you a ring Dre !!!
Also, for more in depth coverage of our Boys In Blue, you can follow the Dodgers Low Down for all things related Dodger Blue.
Andrei here,Southern California Correspondent for Stadium Journey Magazine and StadiumJourney.com, along with the broham, Marlon B, aka Kid Marley Marlz. We like to call ourselves, KID N DREI…2 crazed Dodger fans bringing Da Beatz and Da Talez or sometimes, both. Kid with Da Beats on SoundCloud at MDario GlutenFreeSonds, and Drei with Da Talez.