Note: This piece was written early Monday prior to the news of Corey Seager’s impending surgery and his loss for the remainder of the season which, obviously, changes the perspective a little.
There are dark clouds hovering over Dodgertown. The air is dank and the animals are still and quiet, the anxious calm before a brewing storm. This foreboding shadow was cast over the once joyous and bright populace of Chavez Ravine on the First Day of November last year. It fell upon Dodgers fans at the very moment our gallant knight, Corey Seager, grounded out to short thus relinquishing the 2017 season to the Houston Astros. The gloom hit us and it hit us hard. Everyone, fans, players, front office execs and even Dodger Dog vendors felt the disappointment of losing Game 7 in the pit of our stomachs. All of us know the only way to alleviate the suffering was to await the arrival of the 2018 season. A fresh start. Another chance to get back to the World Series and set The Universe right.
So, we waited. April finally came. Now, as the month expires, the relief we’ve been yearning for and fully expected to receive has failed to materialize. Not only have we yet to see the brand of Dodger Baseball that had us giddy and gloating last Summer, we are being humiliated by our arch rivals. Heck, we even made the pathetic Miami Marlins, surely on their way to 100+ losses, look like the ’27 Yanks. It’s no wonder the Dodger Twitterverse, Facebook pages, and Instagram accounts are being deluged with fans howling for the heads of everyone from Andrew Friedman to Pedro Baez. Not even Magic Johnson has escaped criticism, and Magic is about as close to a saint in L.A. as you can get. The natives are, obviously, restless.
Fear not, fellow Dodger fans, I am here to address those fears and will attempt to soothe that inner angst and talk you off that ledge you’re hanging ten on right now. My qualifications for such a job? Well, I’m a cartoonist! It’s what we do.
Let’s start with the complaint I hear most often from my fellow fans: “We didn’t make any moves over the offseason to make us better! We subtracted rather than added! We didn’t get a solid No. 2 to back up Kershaw! We didn’t get the reigning NL MVP who wanted to be a Dodger! It was all about saving money!”
I’m going to alienate half of you right now by confessing I am the Number One Apologist for this Front Office. Why? Because they’ve had a plan, they’ve told us what the plan was going to be and they’ve stuck to it. They’ve gotten us to the postseason every year they’ve been here and gotten us as far as Game 7 of the World Series. A Series where some very good player underachieved. The WS loss is on the players, not the Front Office. Sorry. Kenley closes out Game 2 like he had ALL season, who knows? Kersh holds leads of four and three runs, who knows? Now, the Yu Darvish move? Yeah, in hindsight I believe we all would have tried to get Verlander instead, but, hindsight is 20/20.
Still, why didn’t we do more over the offseason? We have the money! I’ll tell you why. Let’s not forget, the core of this team won 104 games last year. It took a lot of money to bring back Kenley, JT and Rich Hill. Money well spent, if you ask me, I think you’d agree. Ownership agreed to pay, what was it? $30M in luxury tax last year? Don’t tell me they’re “cheap.” But, this year, had they gone over the $197M threshold the penalty would have been even greater. In order to sign a player like Giancarlo Stanton would have meant tying up nearly a half a billion dollars OR gutting the organization of its most valued commodity; depth. It doesn’t make sense, how don’t care how rich you are. To the FO’s credit, the tried to get creative. The Matt Kemp trade was a move in that direction. Wierdly, it looks as though that might actually work out to our advantage after all. Matty has been a pleasant surprise! Chalk one up for the Geek Squad!
I won’t draw any parallels between our sluggish start this year and the short offseason. I won’t point out we had a nearly identical record at this point last season and yet somehow managed to get to our first World Series in nearly thirty years. Far be it from me to feed you some line that having our team MVP third baseman back in a couple of weeks will make a difference. I would never, ever point to the silver lining that’s breaking through with the performances of guys like Matt Kemp or Walker Buehler. I would be foolish to mention that Seager, Joc and Cody, and their bats, are heating up a bit. I mean, that would be silly, wouldn’t it? You don’t honestly believe Clayton Kershaw is washed up, do you? Kenley too? Really? Come on, folks.
Look, it’s been a rough stretch and there are things to be concerned about. Friedman and Zaidi’s magic touch in building bullpens with spare parts hasn’t panned out so far, although we don’t know yet how Koehler will impact the unit. The on again off again nature of the offense is a bit trying, but having Justin Turner back may not be a cure all, but it can’t hurt. I don’t believe CT3 was a one-shot deal, he shows signs of getting it together. I do think Rich Hill will be effective again, despite his propensity for finger owies. This still a very good team that hasn’t quite found itself yet this season. It’s up to Doc to get them all going in the same direction. I think he can do that. And, one last thing to keep in mind, I think this Front Office is lying in the weeds and still has a deal or two up its sleeve. Currently, they have somewhere between $9M and $11M to play with under the luxury tax threshold. They still have some depth in prospects. The will address any glaring needs we may have (or develop) and we will compete this year! You can trust me, I’m a cartoonist.
Revised cartoon. After learning of Corey Seager’s surgery …
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