Braves @ Dodgers June 9, 2013: For Your Own Safety, Look Away

June 9, 2013 at 2:01 pm | Posted in Game Threads | Leave a comment


It’s June 9. Matt Kemp isn’t in the lineup, nor is Carl Crawford, nor is A.J. Ellis, nor is Hanley Ramirez, nor is Andre Ethier, and the game is being started by a pitcher who was not one of the top nine options being discussed over the winter when everyone thought the Dodgers had too much starting pitching. Obviously, the first three are on the disabled list, but still — take a second to think about that. We’re all disappointed by how the season is gone, but had you been told all of that in March — to say nothing of Zack Greinke‘s collarbone and everything else — the response might have been, “wait, they’re only seven games under? Not as bad as I thought would be.”

Ethier sits against lefty Mike Minor today, which is fine, but Hanley Ramirez sits for the fourth straight day, and I have absolutely no idea what the thinking is here. Yesterday, we heard that Don Mattingly expected him back in the lineup today, but clearly that didn’t happen, nor, really should it have; when Clayton Kershaw, of all people, is pinch-running for you, you aren’t healthy. The problem here is that they’re once again stuck in the middle, refusing to pick a direction. Ramirez clearly came back too soon from his original hamstring injury — stop me if you’ve heard that one before, and I have to admit I’m unsure if the blame there falls on the training staff, the front office, or more likely both — but because he keeps getting pinch-hitting appearances, he’s both risking his health and ruining any potential back-dated disabled list stint. It’s infuriating, and once again it really smells as though the front office and the manager are not on the same page here.

Van Slyke

What we’re left with instead is a lineup that is confounding, to say the least. Yes, Yasiel Puig is probably already writing his Cooperstown induction speech, but it’s still worth noting that the 2013 Dodgers are currently sending out an outfield of Scott Van Slyke / Skip Schumaker / Puig. It’s just… difficult to wrap your mind around.

But that’s nothing compared to the idea of Luis Cruz not only playing over Juan Uribe, but hitting fifth. Fifth! As you might expect, Cruz has the worst wOBA in baseball of anyone with 100 plate appearances. But I bet you didn’t expect him to be a full 33 points worse than Alex Gonzalez of the Brewers. Or should I say, “formerly of the Brewers,” because Gonzalez was released a few days ago, which is what should happen when you cannot hit in the major leagues.

So why, why, why is this happening? It’s not because… oh lord, it absolutely is. Last August, Cruz went 2-3 against Minor, including a homer. That is unquestionably why he’s hitting fifth, and it’s beyond silly to put credence into that. Then again, you look at Schumaker, Federowicz, and Mark Ellis hitting after him, and you wonder if it’s really worth complaining about. This is a really, really weak lineup. Expect it to score 8 runs. Speaking of Ellis, he starts for just the fourth time in nine June games as he nurses an injury of his own; good on Mattingly, I suppose, for hitting him eighth, because he is just struggling awfully right now.

As expected, Ted Lilly returns to the disabled list thanks to a sore neck. Yes, that is three trips in three months for the increasingly fragile Lilly. Coming in July: lupus! Matt Magill returns to the Dodgers without ever having made an appearance for the Isotopes after last weekend’s disaster in Colorado.

Finally, in even more injury news, Twitter superstar A.J. Ellis & Kemp are each expected to be with Albuquerque for a rehab game or two when the Isotopes travel to Round Rock (i.e., “Austin, TX”) this week, then rejoin the Dodgers when they kick off a road trip in Pittsburgh on Friday. Chris Capuano may also be ready then as well, though it seems less certain he’d be activated just yet. (All of this via Eric Stephen of TrueBlueLA.)

We can, and will, talk about what roster moves will accommodate that trio when the time comes — Federowicz heading back to Triple-A seems to be a given, at least — especially how the outfield will shake out, but it almost seems premature to do so right now. It’s beyond naive to expect this team to make it the whole week without any new injuries, especially when we’re seeing Ramirez & Ellis fall apart before our very eyes.

Buy Dodgers tickets, I guess?

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