The Giants/Dodger rivalry over the past seven years had grown a little predictable. Online flame wars were copy and paste affairs:
"Yeah, well you've never won a World Series!"
"So, that's ancient history. You haven't finished above the Giants in six years, or won a playoff game in over ten!"
"Count the rings, battery-chucker!"
"What have you done for me lately, losers?"
Et freaking cetera. This year, though, the Dodgers fouled it all up. They traded for Giant kingdom's most loathed non-Dodger, and he just happened to hit a grand slam to vanquish the Giants for the season. One hundred and sixty-one games, and it all came down to Steve Finley. Every time I type something approximating that sentiment, I want to kill a kitten with my bare hands. Oh, the undistilled anger and hatred. The Dodgers winning the division messed everything up. You perenially finish behind us, we don't win the World Series. We had a deal, damnit!
Jeff Weaver pitched fine -- in between smoke breaks under the bleachers, as the other bad kids admired the Anthrax patch on his backpack -- and Cesar Izturis hit just enough. Shawn Green wasn't awful, and Milton Bradley erred on the right side of the competence/insanity spectrum. Oh, and Adrian Beltre had one of the best seasons ever by a third baseman. The little things, you know, help you to win a division.
The 2005 Dodgers have a much different look. Herr Beltre was signed for a little more than ol' Oatmeal Knees Ordonez is getting from the Tigers, and will take any hopes of an individual repeat season with him. The Dodgers brass found replacements, and didn't get them at the outlet stores.
Every time you hear Jeff Kent's name, an angel is burned alive. He is pure evil, people, but he can still hit. The idea behind the Dodgers acquistion of Kent is based around his offense, but also around the newfangled defensive statistics which claim he is a good defender. He isn't getting younger, and the decline has to start soon. Maybe it has started, but Minute Maid Park masked it. It would be to the Giants benefit if he were to disappear as quickly as he emerged.
J.D. Drew is a huge gamble, but with a spectacular upside. He can hit, or he can crumble apart like uncooked ramen. It is a tantalizing combination, but when it comes down to it, I would have loved to see him on the Giants. Now that he's on the other side, all I can see are Band-Aids and vats of Ben Gay. Objectivity, thy name is not me.
The signing of Derek Lowe is fascinating. In college, there was the group of psuedo-intellectual stoners who would sit around and gab about hypotheticals. "What if," it began, "ketchup were made illegal. How would that affect the economy?" Yes, it would help the economy, because the stock of mustard companies would go crazy. No, thousands of people depend on ketchup for their living, and too much, too soon would jolt the economy for the worse. The arguments bounce back and forth. The Dodgers signing Lowe for a bazillion dollars is like putting one of these hotbox-weighted ideas into practice.
The idea is that Lowe is an extreme-groundball pitcher. The success of the plan hinges on the idea that Kent is a truly good defender, and that Jose Hernandez and Norihiro Nakamura are capable of bettering or equaling Beltre's fine defense. It also hinges on the idea that Lowe was just unlucky over the past two seasons. Just like Professor Frink exclaimed, "...and the secret ingredient is....love?!?", there is a strong chance that at the end of the year, Paul DePodesta is going to be kicking his computer over this one. It just seems like there are too many detours on the logic train from A to B for this one to work out perfectly. The fact that DePodesta committed so much capital to this idea scares the bejeezus out of me, though.
Losing Beltre can not be overemphasized. The rosiest projection you can find for Drew isn't going to match Beltre's ridiculous year, and there is a strong hope this is the year everything doesn't fall into place. The low-cost, stat-friendly jumble behind the plate isn't going to make anyone forget Paul LoDuca. Hee Seop Choi is more Orlando Palmeiro than Rafael. Brad Penny's arm is a good bet to be mush, and there might not be any Yancy Branzypantses to emerge in the late season. The bullpen just can't be as good in general, though those are always the kind of bold statements that prove faulty. While the Dodgers aren't going to be as awful as the fans and local media will have you believe, they are leaning on a lot of hypotheticals.
Unless they do better or worse.
Where are the Dodgers going to finish?
This poll is closed