As the 2013 season got closer and closer, fans and local media couldn’t help but ogle over the stars scattered throughout the Dodgers’ roster.
Kemp. Kershaw. Greinke. Ramirez. Gonzalez. Crawford. Ethier.
And as experts from around the web picked the Dodgers to contend for a divisional and National League title, the same names kept coming up in conversation.
After three games, however, it appears that most everyone was missing the same point: the success of this team might have far more to do with the guys most people have never heard of than anyone wants to admit.
Obviously, the loss of Hanley Ramirez has pushed guys like Justin Sellers and Juan Uribe into early action that they weren’t expecting, but it’s also revealed a deep, dark Dodgers’ secret: this team has no depth.
Beyond the stars, the Dodgers are relying on career minor leaguers (Luis Cruz, A.J. Ellis, Justin Sellers), has-beens (Uribe) and average utility men (Hairston, Schumaker, Punto) to carry the load, and the bad news is: so far they just haven’t done it.
Aside from Mark Ellis, who went 3/9 this week, the role players on this team have been dreadful.
On Tuesday night it was Justin Sellers with a pair of errors that plated runs, and on Wednesday night it was Schumaker whose costly mistake put runs on the board for San Francisco.
At the plate, things have been even worse.
On Monday, Cruz, A.J. Ellis and Sellers went a combined 0/11 with one walk.
On Tuesday, Cruz, Ellis, Sellers, Schumaker and Punto combined for a 1/10 performance.
On Wednesday, Cruz, Ellis, Schumaker and Uribe were 1/12.
Take A.J. Ellis out of the equation, and that group is a combined 0/23 in three games.
Now obviously, Kemp’s 0/10 start to the season, along with the struggles of Ethier and Gonzalez, haven’t helped the Dodgers, but I think that the importance of these role players has only been intensified.
If this team really does have dreams of competing for bigger things than a wild card spot, I think some production is going to need to come from guys like Cruz and Ellis and they’re going to need timely hits from Punto, Schumaker and Uribe off the bench.
So while much has been made of Kemp’s struggles through three games and the team’s inability to hit with runners in scoring position, I think the real reason for concern in Chavez Ravine lies not in the superstars, but the guys standing behind them.
Will they produce enough to be successful?
I guess we’re all going to find out.