Meet the new Dodgers, same as the old Dodgers
Ah, what to make of this? General Manager Ned Colletti saying he hopes you like this year’s Dodgers, because they are pretty much going to be next year’s Dodgers.
Kinda gets you all tingling, eh?
Of course, this year’s Dodgers have been a major disappointment and have struggled for more than four months just to climb to .500. Crowds have disappeared. Belief that anything will ever change as long as Frank McCourt owns the team permeates everything Dodgers.
Which, naturally, explains why you shouldn’t expect significant changes to this team next season. That would require signing a major bat, which is hard to do when you’re bankrupt, or even when your plan all along was to reduce payroll.
Colletti acknowledged that McCourt had yet to let him know how much he can spend in the offseason, and good luck with that. He has attorneys to pay, you know.
Both Manager Don Mattingly and Colletti said it’s the offense that needs upgrading, a statement’s shock value that resonates right up there with "desert needs more water."
The only troubling thing to this is that it seems immediately reactive to this year’s team and not part of an overall plan. I suppose some of that is always inherent with the job, but a year ago it was the rotation that was a problem –- as anyone paying attention knew it would be going into the season. So Colletti opened this season not only with five starters, which is always wise, but an extra one on board just in case. The extra one, Vicente Padilla, went down to injury just as the fifth starter, Jon Garland, did, but the plan was solid.
This season it was the offense that struggled -- as anyone paying attention knew it would be going into the season, though maybe not so extreme.
So now the emphasis is going to be to add a bat, and I sure hope you believe Juan Rivera can do this for a full season. Big bats cost big money, which McCourt was loath to spend even when he was pretending to and not dropping $35 million on divorce bills.
The good part to this .500 season is that having a crummy team, and battling constant injuries, enabled to Dodgers to get a good and encouraging look at a lot of young players.
Still, it’s not like the next wave will be reminiscent of the Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Russell Martin and James Loney invasion. Most of the promise comes from young pitchers and a couple of light-hitting infielders.
And then there is the rotation, which at the moment has only three sure starters: Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly. How much do you really like Nathan Eovaldi and Dana Eveland?
To the team’s great credit, they have continued to play hard, though as Mattingly has recognized, it is always dangerous to place too much credence in the performance of late call-ups, either good or bad.
There is plenty that needs to be added next season. And there are 10 current Dodgers who have contracts ending within the next three weeks. Plenty of bodies will come and go, yet the team figures to look very familiar.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Juan Rivera, the Dodgers' recently acquired left fielder, is congratulated by ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw after scoring on a balk against the Giants in the fourth inning Saturday in San Francisco. Credit: W. Henderson / Getty Images