Thursday, July 7, 2011
A Dodger fatalist's view of the All-Star Game rosters
I entered a few votes for Andre Ethier in the "last gasp" roster spot thing that MLB devised a few years ago.
The deadline has passed, however, and my efforts were futile. Ethier isn't going to the All-Star Game, as deserving as he is.
It doesn't matter. I knew he wasn't going to win anyway. This is 2011 and these are the Dodgers.
Former Dodger Shane Victorino, who has been leading the "last gasp" vote since the beginning, won instead, just to continue the theme of How Can We Make This Week As Painful As Possible For This Random Dodger Fan?
If you haven't been paying attention to the Dodgers' week -- and yes, you're forgiven -- then you probably don't know that the Dodgers, mired in last place, are doing their best to make this the most memorable bottom-dropped-out season in history.
After losing an excruciating game against the Angels on Sunday, in which I was half-convinced that Chad Billingsley was going to off himself right on the mound because of the is-there-any-reason-to-GO-ON way in which he suffered defeat in that game, the Dodgers have lost three consecutive games to the Mets by maybe a fraction of an inch each night.
Oh, I know if you listen to the Mets announcers, you're convinced that the Mets are BACK. But I see it the other way. I see a mass of Dodger humanity stranded on the bases every game. I see Dodgers thinking "how can we get within in a single run of the lead and THEN lose?" I see the Mets blooping balls all over the field or lining -- what's it been 14? -- barely fair doubles, so that the Dodger starter on the mound is convinced that it doesn't matter what he does or how well he pitches, his team is going to lose anyway.
I definitely feel the same way.
This extends to the All-Star Game rosters in which I view the former Dodgers who have made the game as a public display of "here are the players who could have helped the Dodgers this year." But, of course, they didn't, because the Dodgers are destined to discard players who could have helped them.
So there's this guy:
Joel Hanrahan is the closer for the Pirates. He has 25 saves and 1.37 earned run average. Meanwhile, the Dodgers don't really know who their closer is. Not that it matters, because I don't think the Dodgers have required a closer for weeks.
But if they did, Hanrahan sure would have come in handy. Unfortunately, Hanrahan was granted free agency after spending seven years in the Dodgers' organization. That's because the Dodgers knew that five years down the line that their bullpen would be a conglomeration of injured arms, head issues and inexperience, and that their ultimate goal was to look longingly at the PITTSBURGH bullpen and say "sure wish we hung on to Hanrahan."
There's this guy, too. He's done pretty well since he left the Dodgers. He's never had the kind of season he had in his final year with L.A, but when the Dodgers' third baseman is on the disabled list for third time with a third version of old-man disease, Beltre looks awfully good.
Yet, I'm convinced the Dodgers knew Beltre would maintain a high level of play. Because they didn't want that. They wanted a third base list that would consist of the following starters:
2005: Mike Edwards
2006: Wilson Betemit
2007: Nomar Garciaparra
2008: Blake DeWitt
2009: Casey Blake
2010: Casey Blake
2011: Juan Uribe
It's all by design! Why would you want the consistency of Beltre for more than a decade when you could rotate players in and out at third every year? Think of the variety! Players playing out of position! Players ill-fit for the majors! Players unable to stay on the field! Consistency is so overrated.
There is one other former Dodger who is an All-Star, one who doesn't really fit the mold of the other guys:
Russell Martin is having an even worse season than he did last year, but is somehow an All-Star. (he has better power numbers than last year, but I'm pretty certain that's because of a change in home stadium and a change in roster). I'm wondering how many other catchers hitting .220 have made the all-star roster.
So, unlike the other guys, I am not lamenting the loss of Martin. The Dodgers have plenty of players who can hit ground balls to the shortstop all by themselves.
But the Dodger fatalist that I am knows this:
Russell Martin will come to the plate in the late stages of next week's All-Star game, line a barely fair double off of Clayton Kershaw and drive in the winning run for the American League as Matt Kemp overthrows the cut-off man.
It's the Dodger way this year. It's 2011. It's the Dodgers. It's destiny. You can't stop it.