Band of Brothers

Hindsight is 20/20 and many times we can only figure out what happened… after it happens.  What was wrong with the Dodgers and why they sucked so bad in 2018 is now easy for me to understand.  You might disagree, but if you do, I would challenge you to come up with a better explanation than the one I am about to give you.

Here goes:

The Dodgers were close, so close to winning it all last year that they could taste it.  It left a bad taste in their mouths all winter.  They were agitated, sleep was interrupted and they could not shake off the loss.  It weighed upon them like an 800 pound gorilla on their back. So, they worked hard all winter and all showed up early to Spring Training galvanized together for one purpose “Win the World Series or Bust!” They were united, together, chomping at the bit and eager to live up to all the pre-season expectations.

And then, Justin Turner went down and Corey Seager was lost for the season.  Their two best hitters… GONE!  To a man, they knew they had to step up, so they all did.  They pushed and pressed and ultimately, each player tried to do too much.  They tried to hit 5-run home runs and they simply tried too hard, collectively, and as a team.  They are a team, a band of brothers,  and once you are part of a team, you try and pick each other up. Sometimes you just try too hard!  You try so hard to get something that it ruins everything.  They did, and that is what happened.

Chris Taylor, Cody Bellinger, Kike Hernandez, Joc Pederson, Kyle Farmer and Yasiel Puig were the support guys last year. This year they tried to be “The Man.” They tried too hard, so hard that they lost focus on what made them great last year.  Last year they were playing with House Money – this year, it’s their money and that gets a little scary!

Yeah, maybe the pen wasn’t as good as last year, but they tried.  They tried too hard.  They tried to strike out the side with one pitch.  The offense went stagnant as each hitter tried too hard to pick up his bother.  The intent was good – the process was suspect and the outcome was awful.

If you have ever played baseball, sometimes it feels like you are trying to hit a golf ball with a needle and other times it feels like you are hitting that same golf ball with a  tennis racket… an oversize one.  There are days you can’t miss and days you can’t jump out of a boat and hit water. Confidence is the difference. This 2018 Dodger team lost their collective confidence somewhere along the way.  Maybe one Ginger Jesus helped restore it.  Justin Turner is a freaking legend!  He may have single-handedly saved the Dodgers’ season by restoring their collective confidence.

We shall see.  Will this trickle down to the whole team?  Confidence is high right about now. In fact, it is soaring!  Will it be sustainable?  Can one game turn around a season?  Maybe! Time will tell, but this great game of baseball is played by humans, and in case you don’t know, there is nothing more indomitable than the human spirit!

This could be the start of something really good.  The talent is there – that’s a fact. I don’t want to minimize it, but the Dodgers are just 8 games out of 1st place.  There are over 4 months left in the season.  I have a sneaking feeling that this Band of Brothers will pull it out! Hang on…

This article has 41 Comments

  1. “Confidence is high right about now. In fact, it is soaring!” Seriously? It must be that half-filled glass of Scotch talking. One win against the lowly Marlins is not something to pin much hope to. Show me a five-game win streak or ten out of twelve and then we can talk. But I do appreciate your ability to stir(smoke) the pot.

  2. 13th May – I visit LADT to read
    “Blow it all Up”

    17th May – I visit LADT to read
    “I have a feeling this Band Of Brothers will pull it out”.

    Amazing what one win and the return of JT can do!

  3. Mark I appreciate your creative and intelligent thought processes. And stirring our collective pots.

    Here is my take: I do believe some talent is there and confidence remains. However I also see a big deficit, one that historically not many teams have come out of. Therefore this is what needs to be done to fight history.

    Ok the fact is there are currently a lot of pretty decent teams not great ball clubs in the National League say 9, and we need like 73 and 49 close. Going to be very tough, and I don’t believe that record is attainable with the currently assembled team, so I came up with some possibilities to get it done.

    1. Trade for Machado and a high leverage reliever, and make a run. I am not even going to go over what that will take, I and others have previously, but I don’t see Angelos trading anytime soon and frankly us either. Other trade upgrades include Joey Votto or perhaps Jed Lowrie. But again pipe dream on Votto and Oakland is still somewhat in it. So no trades are likely anytime soon.

    2. We need to shake it up within. The only minor league bats that are possible upgrades are toles (injured) verdugo ( likely not quite ready) and Solano ( old lottery ticket and journeyman). I think you give Solano a shot and send Muncy down or phantom dL Forsythe. Maybe his bat plays and he has matured since his last cup of coffee. But this is a marginal improvement at best. Toles bat would likely be an upgrade but I have heard no timetable since his last setback and who goes anyway when he get healthy?

    3. This one is unlikely but I honestly think our only shot at making a run. Pen overhaul!! This is where we have to roll the dice and hope to make a number of consecutive passes. Cingrani will be back Saturday and that will improve us a little, and more importantly allow us to jettison one of the failing arms down there. He does need to be early season Tony when he returns. After that we have got to take a few more chances with the pen, I would call up Hernandez, Paredes and Stewart as well
    and option Fields, Baez, Venditte and Liberatore. The pen needs this type of overhaul and it could work. Any of the 4 above fail then recall Garcia or if Hudson cannot get better.

    Here is how it lays out: Alexander becomes the 8th inning bridge to Jansen. And Cingrani/Chargois and Hernandez the 6th and 7th innings guys. Stewart long relief. Paredes lefty specialist. Hudson the multi inning, plus or minus 3 run guy.

    And I will take Kershaw back soon please. Like how about end 2nd week of June??

  4. Forgot CC Lee, maybe him over Hernandez due to experience. Or if end up having to DFA Hudson, him instead of Garcia. Point is opportunity there, AC or Mark any chance it will?

  5. I said that it wouldn’t take a lot for this team to start steamrolling and JT’s return proves there’s some fact in that. But when thinking of the Dodgers going on another mega streak for wins I have a feeling like there’s one missing part still. Perhaps someone in house will step up and fill that part with the bat. It could even be Joc or Utley or whoever, but it has to be big and really stand out. Just a feeling without a clear picture when thinking getting to another post season. No doubt however that we’re in for a far better flavor of baseball than we’ve been getting so far this season. Dodgers will show we’re still in it.

  6. Mark, your explanation is possible, especially the injuries, but for now, I think I’ll just say the Dodgers are where they are for a number of reasons. Injuries are high on the list, poor performances by some, and continued poor performances by others. It’s the middle of May, let’s see how the team plays the remainder of the month.

  7. Sometimes you need to play the cards you’ve been dealt. If there are moves that we can make to keep us under the luxury tax penalty, fine I guess. Let’s not compound this year’s devastation by making a Crazy Ivan move, going over the cap, and then be bent over twice. If this group can’t pull the nose up, keep our powder dry for the off season moves we all expect.

  8. Wow – you win a single game (out of 3) against one of the 3 worst teams in the NL and suddenly it’s all turned around? Here’s an article in the Washington Post about the Dodgers’ travails:–the-dodgers-are-flailing-and-they-know-it/2018/05/17/a823095c-5a17-11e8-8836-a4a123c359ab_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.dcaf27fa7d22

    Key point? “But at this point, there is not a facet of the game where the Dodgers can be said to excel. Their offense entered Thursday ranked 21st in the majors in on-base-plus-slugging percentage (.705) and tied for 24th in homers (39). The bullpen had a 4.54 ERA and was tied for first in the majors with 10 blown saves and 24 homers allowed. And in defensive efficiency — the rate at which a defense turns batted balls into outs — the Dodgers rank 27th, a remarkable drop-off after they ranked second in MLB in 2017.”

    Another: “On that last point, it is difficult to overlook the acute regression of some of their young hitters, many of whom formed the backbone of the 2017 pennant winners. In terms of OPS, 22-year-old Cody Bellinger, last year’s NL rookie of the year, is down 133 points from 2017. Seager, 24, was down 110 points before his injury. Center fielder Chris Taylor (27), who has been shifted to shortstop in Seager’s absence, is down 114 points. Catcher Austin Barnes (28) and outfielder Joc Pederson (26) are down 178 and 42 points, respectively.

    And topping them all is mercurial, 27-year-old right fielder Yasiel Puig, whose .563 OPS entering Thursday — down a whopping 270 points from 2017 — ranked 214th out of 224 batters in the majors with at least 110 plate appearances. A year ago, he hit 28 homers. The one he hit Thursday against the Marlins was just his third of 2018.”

  9. The team looked much better yesterday but it was just one game, as they say. The 3 biggest problems still remain:
    1) CF-Last 7 days: Joc-BA .150 OPS .350 Kike-BA .077 OPS .154
    2) 2B-Last 7 days: Utley-BA .133 OPS .267 Logan-BA .000 OPS .000
    3) Bullpen

    One solution is to have the starters go 8 innings: Quit nibbling and running up pitch counts; leave starters in longer. There is not a lot of help at OKC but Santana, Sborz and Hernandez recently earned promotions. The closer Schlitter has pitched well but is 32 and only Santana is on the roster. Chargois has faltered and is a candidate to be sent down to work on his control like Alexander was. Hudson and Venditte cannot be sent down without approving it. Baez and Liberatore had a bad week. Stay tuned as Stewart could really help the bullpen but is the starter in waiting for now.

    I believe the current 2B and CF platoons are being watched closely by management. In the meantime bat these 4 guys at the bottom of the order.

    CT3 hit .364 and OPS .940 for the week. Grandal .308 and OPS 1.169. Puig .250 and OPS 1.213. JT .462 and OPS 1.077. Muncy .333 and OPS 1.108. Cody .227 and OPS .983

  10. Vegas

    I wouldn’t move Puig up yet, because he didn’t start hitting, until he was moved down to the eighth position, like last year.

    And we don’t know that he would have hit all those HRs, if he was hitting higher in the line up.

    I think this is good for Puig right now, and that is the only reason I want him to stay in the eighth position.

    But I agree with you, that those are the hitters that are killing us in the line up.

    And non of those hitters should be hitting at the top of the line up anymore, now that Turner is back.

    Let Joc and Forsythe try to get their walks, because that is what they do best.

    And then Puig will be able to hit them in.

    1. I see your point MJ and agree with it to a point but Puig hit a lot in the 1 and 2 spot his first 2 years and did fine. I like how he is taking more walks and picking a pitch to drive. His speed is a weapon on the bases, along with CT3. I like them up top as table setters for the RBI guys. If you must play Utley/Logan and Kike/Joc move them down. Muncy needs more AB’s, one day they put Cody in CF, they could also use him at 3B and LF when JT and Kemp need a day off. They have to play the guys that are producing and put them in spots in the lineup where they can keep the line moving. Barnes has also started to hit a bit and Grandal needs days off too.

      1. Vegas

        I do remember when Puig was hitting lead off, and second.

        And that is why I was wanting Roberts to bat him first, or second, instead of batting him third, like he did at the beginning of the season.

        Because I know that Puig would get a pitcher’s attention more then anyone in this line up, when he is standing on first.

        But do we know that Puig is going to be as patient if he is moved up, because he is probably being even more patient right now, because he is hitting in front of the pitcher?

  11. I believe like Mark that every player has tried to do too much. There is a fine line and a delicate balance in playing hard and playing relaxed. At there very best the dodgers have a talented team but when they are not playing with that edge they are mediocre or worse. Losing Turner seager Kershaw and slow starts by most has put tremendous pressure on all areas of the team. Turner is such a key who takes pressure off others and can get the key hit when needed. He also oozes confidence while being a true leader. He cannot do it by himself but the pressure goes directly to him giving others a chance to relax. Hill, Kershaw, Wood have to step up. Can we get back in the division race? If we get healthy and stay that way it can be done. But, if we don’t make a big move by the trade deadline I would look to the future. The bullpen I do give Roberts much blame. Unless there is something we don’t know his slow walking Kenley through spring training hurt the whole team. We lost 3-4 games due to that alone. But can’t go back but I agree with Mark the bullpen is snake bitten and needs to regain confidence.

  12. I’m fascinated by this idea that the reason that Taylor, Bellinger, Seager (while he was here), Kike Hernandez, Puig, Joc Pederson, Barnes and the score of AAAA players who have populated the Dodgers this year can’t hit is because Turner was out. What nonsense!

    1 – Each guy is responsible for his own at bat.
    2 – If Taylor, et al, aren’t hitting because Turner was out, why are Grandal and Kemp hitting?
    3 – If the non-hitters need Turner’s “protection” to hit, why weren’t Grandal and Kemp protection?
    4 – Most of the non-hitters are coming off of career years. Isn’t it just as likely that they have regressed to the mean?
    5 – The Washington Post article that I posted earlier noted that the Dodgers’ young hitters aren’t seeing as many fastballs and are seeing more off-speed stuff which they aren’t hitting as well. How is their performance hitting a curve or changeup likely to improve because Turner is back?

    1. It is a mental thing or at least possibly. When your best player is out somebody has to pick up the slack. Each player tries to exceed their abilities, try to do too much. After coaching for years I have seen players do this frequently. It is not just because of Turner altogether but they are suddenly in a role they are not comfortable with. Why can’t Puig hit in the top of the order? It is mental it is not physical. Generally, stars are confident they can get it done but complimentary players are just that. I still maintain that great leaders make everybody around them better. How would your mental outlook be when Koufax would take the mound as opposed to Doug Rau or when Turner plays third as opposed to Muncy. It is a team game so when you add Turner the team will be better. Or, you might be right just nonsense, all I know is I am a lot more confident when Turner is in the lineup. I think most of the players you mentioned will adjust and be solid even if it is slight regression. Now that they have more help maybe they can relax and be themselves. Go Blue!

    2. Rick

      Turner is the best off speed hitter on this team.

      But I don’t think he made a difference, with the way a few of those players hit.

      But I do think he would have made a big difference, in how many runs, this team would have scored.

      Because not only is Turner a very good hitter, and rbi guy, he can also do the small things, to help an offense be more productive.

      And having Turner in this line up, does take some of the pressure off Cody, because although Cody has kept his average up, he is striking out to much.

      And that is probably because he is putting to much pressure on himself to be that guy, that gets the runs home.

      Because most of the players on this team, are not good at making an offense, be more productive, and because of that, it has been hard for the team to score runs.

      That might be another reason why, Cody is putting so much pressure on himself, too.

    3. 1. Of course they are, which may be why some are pressing!
      2. Why is is that Paul Goldschmidt and Matt Carpenter are not hitting? Why is it that a player can hit .175 in April and .375 in June? Expalin that!
      3. Maybe because Grandal and Kemp are older and more confident and poised. The youngster have never been there before.
      4. Of course it’s possible that they have all at once (collectively) regressed, but it’s less likely that all have regressed… maybe some.
      5. That is the truth.

  13. Let’s ride out this 1 win wave because we have Scherzer tonight and Strasburg Sunday, we can’t beat the bad teams, maybe we can beat the good ones?

  14. Maybe we can’t beat the good teams either. But if the team plays today like they did yestetday i’ll be happy. I realistically don’t have hopes for this team going to WS, I mean let’s be serious. But it will be satisfying if they finish the season playing like they played yesterday. Yes I am easy to please.

    1. Whew, I was beginning to worry. Now I know they will win the West! You prove my point.

      Here’s what he said about Cody Bellinger last April:
      Bellinger isn’t supplanting Gonzalez at first base, even if Gonzalez continues to struggle. There’s something to be said for ‘Veteran Presents‘, and Gonzalez is one of the leaders on the team. As long as he’s healthy, he won’t continue to be a 94 wRC+ hitter who isn’t hitting the ball in the air or with authority. A-Gon will likely get on a hot streak and be a solid contributor at some point, and that is more valuable than what Bellinger might do, especially when factoring in the off-the-field stuff. We don’t know if he’d outproduce Gonzalez if given the chance to make the risk there worth it.

      1. Come on Mark, dustin’s quite good.

        You write stuff that’s just as if not worse than that, regularly.


        1. Dustin is a great writer and he’s dead serious. I’m usually not.

          Maybe in the future, I’ll mark my posts with “S” for Serious or “NS” for “Not Serious.”

  15. Bobo
    I too am easy to please. I just want them to win more than they lose…and finish ahead of the Giants. If that happens it is a good season as far as I’m concerned. I know many want a World Series or bust. Too much pressure. Play and have fun and let the game take care of itself. You never know what will happen when you quit trying to force it. Take what your given and be grateful.

    1. new reliever has no control. great – a relief pitcher who can’t throw strikes. just what they need.

  16. Houston Mitchell of the Times writes:
    “Everyone is trying to figure out the one secret to turning this team around. Unfortunately, there isn’t one. There are a whole host of things that have to happen for this to turn around.
    Let’s sum it up. In the 15-team National League, the Dodgers rank:
    6th in runs per game (4.30)
    12th in homers (40). And when you have a team that lives and dies by the homer, then this is bad.
    14th in steals (12).
    9th in batting average (.239).
    7th in OB% (.320).
    9th in SLG% (.389).
    3rd in left on base (322).
    6th in batting with runners in scoring position (.244)
    12th with two out and runners in scoring position (.205)
    9th with the bases loaded (.207)
    8th in ERA (3.90)
    5th in starter’s ERA (3.48)
    14th in reliever’s ERA (4.51)
    5th in WHIP (1.297)
    13th in hits per 9 IP (8.6)
    2nd in walks per 9 IP (3.1)
    3rd in most homers allowed (51)
    2nd in strikeouts per 9 IP (9.7)
    15th in saves (7)
    In other words, they are below average in almost everything”

    And: “I’m tired of seeing the Dodgers take pitch after pitch, swing at a bad one and then take strike three down the middle. There are more full counts in these games than at All You Can Eat shrimp night at the Sizzler in Transylvania. Can someone please swing at the first pitch fastball all you guys seem to get?”

    And: “And the bullpen? Tom Koehler has been the most valuable member because he hasn’t pitched yet. Dumpster diving for relievers worked wonderfully for the Dodgers the last couple of seasons, but has come back to bite them in a big way this year.”

  17. The game is canceled tonight, they will play a doubleheader tomorrow, first game is at 1105am pacific time.

    And Vegas, you are going to hate the line up they have, when they will be facing Scherzer tomorrow in that second game, but I feel much like you, about this line up.

  18. Well, this is the first game of the rest of the season…….okay corny enough. But, what sort of streak would it really take? Either last season’s (very much unlikely) or the season before last (nearly as unlikely) but not impossible. Call it done if you want but I don’t want to quite yet. With no game today and then two tomorrow isn’t the best of news either but maybe we’ll see some recharged batteries on the field. Those losses by one run are likely to become wins. While I wouldn’t place a bet on the Dodgers making the post season today I wouldn’t place one that they won’t either. It’s been a painful start that I hope won’t be as painful an ending.

  19. I really like your explanation… I was hearing Morgan Friedman in my head as I was reading it.
    This team has most definitely been snake bitten to start the season. It’s pretty easy to surmise that the team would be at the very least, at .500 if JT, Seager, Puig, Kersh, & Ryu didn’t miss any time this year. Add two more games if Kenley was pitching like he is now to start the season.
    I do agree that CT, Cody, and Puig were trying too hard… and all three have seemed to make nice adjustments over the last few games. (Why this wasn’t done three weeks ago… I have no idea) Maybe they were trying to please Homer Happy Stat Boy (Farhan) with their impressive / ill fated launch angles?
    Did we lose too much ground already to make the playoffs? I don’t think so. it’s an insanely long season… it’s like three seasons in one. The D-Bags have already hit a rough patch… I think they have just as many weaknesses as we do… they’ve just been playing with a ton of confidence… something that’s been in short supply in the Dodgers clubhouse.
    I think with JT now back and the other guys starting to finally come around… the lineup will stabilize and the hits, rallies, and runs will increase.
    The thing that worries me the most is the pitching. Kersh and Ryu were the two best starting pitchers on the team at the beginning of the season and now they’re gone for an uncertain amount of time. Buehler looks great, but he has an innings limit this year and will be probably shut down before September. I like Wood… but I see him as more of a number 4 starter… not a 2 or 3. And Hill is just a wildcard… would he even make the starting rotation on a team like the Astros or Yankees? And with his recurring blisters… it just sucks when that’s supposed to be your number 2 or 3.
    Maeda and Stripling are just band aids at the moment. Imagine if we had four or five (healthy) starting pitchers that could consistently give us 6-7 innings and you had Maeda and/or Stripling to help if/when needed in middle relief. And then had a healthy Cingrani, Alexander, and Jansen for the 8th and 9th.
    So with that being said… I think the most pressing concern right now is with the starting pitching. I don’t know where and I don’t know how… but if this team really wants to compete for a playoff spot this year, then they really need to find one (and depending on injuries) possibly two more dependable starting pitchers. It would be amazing if Urias could come back in time and be effective enough to help out this year… but that’s probably a long shot. Hopefully Kersh and Ryu will be back in the rotation soon and Hill starts pitching better… but even so, I think they’ll need to make a trade for one quality starting pitcher and possibly one or two more arms for the pen… and hopefully they do it soon.

  20. Been gone all day, but let me restate what you said about the pen; “they tried to hard”
    Really, Baez etal just need to relax more and results will follow? What evidence is there for any hope of Baez improving? Roberts has even alluded to this by saying this is the team I have.
    My guess is upper management said the #1 goal was getting under the luxury tax, and that regardless of deficiencies that need attention on the team. Injuries occurred, SP can’t go past 6 innings, and the inferior pen was exposed for what it is. Everything steamrolled from there.

    1. Well, I used to pitch and I always pitched best when I didn’t try too hard to guide the ball. When you feel pressure, you tend to tighten up and those results aren’t good.

      You are right about the luxury tax and that is a column for tomorrow.

      1. Who are you kidding? You are still pitching. Sometimes we swing, sometimes we don’t.
        Always enjoy your stuff, even though I disagree with most of it. Keep throwin’ em to us.

        1. I could pitch to you – you could pretend to be your favorite hitter and I’d be Don Drysdale! 😉

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