Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Blue Magic - Dodgers Report

If you told me before the season that the Dodgers would be the team to beat in the National League, I'd say it was a possibility. I thought our offense and bullpen was good enough to compete with anybody.

If you told me that they'd be the best team in baseball minus Manny Ramirez for 17 games (and counting til July 3), I'd call you a liar and delusional. Sure enough, there they are. Fresh off a sweep of the Colorado Rockies they are 33-15, 5 games ahead of the Cardinals and 6 ahead of the closest team in the American League.

*cue Jay-Z's Blue Magic - so what if u flip a couple bombs, we can triple that in runs, open up ya mind, Dodger Blue in the sky."

The offense ranks at or near the top of the majors in average, hits, RBI's, on-base percentage and runs. And it's great when you have three leadoff hitters - the last two batting switch - at the top of the lineup in Juan Pierre, Rafael Furcal and Orlando Hudson and ur best HR hitter bats No.8 (Casey Blake). Frank Lucas is only the person who had something blue more potent than Dodger Blue.

Hudson has been a great free-agent pickup with his bat (.347 avg, 16 doubles, 30 RBI's, .495 OBP) and his defense - not to mention being a great clubhouse presence. O-Dog is currently on a 16-game hitting streak.Not to mention that he and Matt Kemp are some of the biggest characters in the clubhouse haha. He's already gotten settled in L.A. by working with kids the Urban Youth Academy in Compton along with Torii Hunter and Pierre.

Pierre has been the year's biggest surprise. He went from bench duty to potential All-Star candidate since filling in for Ramirez - hitting over .400, stealing bases and scoring runs like its Christmas. But it's what veterans do: Prepare to step in when necessary and produce. Oh yeah, inspire people to throw support behind you.

Kemp (Soul Bro. No. 27) got off to a hot start but he's falling back into old habits of impatience at the plate and swinging too freely. James Loney (Soul Bro. No. 7) is starting to find his power stroke and Andre Ethier is stayin solid- although he's slightly struggled a bit without him. And great bench guys in Juan Castro and Mark Loretta leave Joe Torre with no worries about relying on them.

I was worried about the starting rotation but 6-2 Chad Billingsley and 3-3 Clayton "The Young Prince" Kershaw have picked it up as the 1-2 force, along with 4-1 Eric Stults at the 3 spot. Randy Wolf (2-1) has had games where he looks like Pulp Fiction's "Mr. Wolf" instead of the Elder Lobo on his last legs back home.

Confusing stat of the year. Closer Jonathan Broxton ranks among the NL leaders in wins (5) and saves (11). It would assume that he's blown a few saves but he hasn't - the team has just had its share of late-inning heroics. He's gonna blow by his high of 14 saves and the way things are going he could have 10+ wins and 40+ saves.

The bullpen has been a mixed bag of sorts. Last year's star Cory Wade already has four blown saves and at least one walk in his last six appearances. But I blame most of that arm trouble at the beginning of the year and the mental recovery from it. Taking his place this year has been big righty Ramon Troncoso (2.08 ERA).

I love this guy's stuff and most of all his durability. Best relief appearance this year by any reliever? 4 innings of one-hit ball on Apr. 25. Throw him in with Brent Leach and Ronald Belisario and it's more good than bad.

It's really gotten to the point where I'm not really worried about Manny coming back. He's apparently started working out at Dodger Stadium (although I'd hope he gave the fans an apology) and he'll add that unique dimension to an already jacked-up lineup. But there's no more need to count down to July 3 with dread.

True Dodgers fans know this team has high potential that's starting to cash in. Let's watch to see where this ride takes us. It's that 100% pure goodness (at least now). Bring on the Cubs!

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