We can blame it on injuries and we can blame it on slumps, but at the end of the day, neither of those is truly at the root of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ problems.
At the root of the problems is the team’s front office.
Many will read the first two sentences and assume I’m referring to contracts handed out to Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier or to the blockbuster trade that brought Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford to town, but in fact, neither of those is the cause.
The real problem here lies in the small moves made by Ned Colletti and Co.
When healthy and winning, the front office gets to sit back and relax as the team on the field goes about their business. The star players do their thing, the fans remain happy and the ship sails smoothly.
When things go bad, however, a front office is forced to spring into action. (And it’s safe to say things have gone bad for the Dodgers this season).
First it was Hanley Ramirez, then it was Zack Greinke, then Chad Billingsley, Chris Capuano and Mark Ellis. Oh, and then it was Hanley Ramirez again.
With players going down, the Dodger staff was left to fill the holes these guys left behind — and that is where things went south.
First it was the trade of Aaron Harang — a move that saved the team some money, but ended up resulting in three starts by Stephen Fife and Matt Magill. Now, obviously, the Dodgers could never have known they’d be reaching for their eighth starter at any point this season, but my issue lies more in what they got in return.
After the Rockies cut Ramon Hernandez, the Dodgers (for some reason unbeknownst to anyone) thought adding Hernandez would help the team.
In 22 at bats, Hernandez is hitting .045. Yep, a solid 1/22.
Then there’s the roster moves that involved bringing guys up from the minors.
After Mark Ellis sat on the bench, unable to help the team at all, for nine days, the Dodgers finally put him on the disabled list and brought in a capable replacement.
In the meantime, the Dodgers bullpen spun out of control thanks to a short start by Magill and some questionable usage by the ever-puzzling Don Mattingly.
But, because injured players had yet to be replaced (or tired relievers exchanged for rested ones), the Dodgers were forced to rely on tired arms, which, not surprisingly, led to some blown games.
When healthy, I have no doubt that this Dodger team is more than capable of winning a lot of games (and I have no doubt that Don Mattingly is a manager capable of leading them).
When their back is against the wall, however, I’m losing faith — quickly — in the front office and their ability to right the ship when called upon.
But maybe I just wake up to nightmares of Juan Uribe’s contract too often — who knows?