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Cut Off At The Knees

Posted By Dave Leonardis On Jul 20 2010 @ 11:49 am In Los Angeles Dodgers | No Comments

The second half hasn’t been very friendly to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Following last night’s loss to San Francisco, the Dodgers haven’t won one game since the All-Star break and are on a five-game losing streak. The downward spiral started in St. Louis, where the Cardinals took the Dodgers to the woodshed for four straight games, the most heartbreaking being yet another Sunday night meltdown by closer Jonathan Broxton leading to a 9th inning rally for Tony LaRussa’s boys.

More damaging than the continued brain farts by their closer or even the losing streak is that the Dodgers, who have spent the entire season riddled with injuries, saw left fielder Manny Ramirez go down yet again as well as first baseman James Loney. Loney returned to the lineup last night after missing a couple games with a tender hamstring. Ramirez, meanwhile, looks destined for his third trip to the disabled list this season following an injury to his calf. Ramirez will undergo a second MRI today to determine the severity of his latest boo-boo. For those scoring at home, the Dodgers are paying $18.6 million to a man who has played in 61 of a possible 93 games and who is batting .317 with just eight homers and 49 RBI. By comparison, Giants rookie catcher Buster Posey has went yard eight times as well and has 29 RBIs and he’s only played in 43 games this season since being called up in late May.

Ramirez has been the poster child for this team’s disappointing 2010 campaign thus far. A team that, at times, looked like a World Series dark horse is now in fourth place in the NL West and six games back of first-place San Diego. Desperate times may call for desperate measures. Obviously, nobody is crazy enough to take the final year of Ramirez’s contract in a trade given his lack of production and his girlish unwillingness to play through pain. However, there may be other assets. GM Ned Colletti may be able to talk someone into taking Russell Martin’s corpse off his hands. Another big name who the Dodgers should consider dealing? Centerfielder Matt Kemp. Kemp has been a bit of a disappointment this year but, unlike guys like Ramirez and Andre Ethier, he can’t place the blame on an injury. With the July 31 deadline steadily approaching and the Dodgers looking more and more like a team that will spend October on the outside looking in at the playoffs, the time might be now to cash in on its assets. The theory of going for a guy like Roy Oswalt and loading up for a second-half stretch run now seems far-fetched. This team is every bit as lackluster as their horrid April suggest. The pitching, once solid from May-July, is now average at best. Broxton is no longer a lock in the 9th inning and a lineup that seemed built to light up scoreboards now can’t manufacture runs.

It might be time for reality to set in for Colletti and manager Joe Torre. Tonight, we will be treated to a pitcher’s duel between two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum and Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw is coming off getting completely outperformed by another former Cy Young winner, Chris Carpenter, on Thursday. Lincecum has been pitching better lately after having control issues early on. That doesn’t bode well for Los Angeles. A loss here and it would take a drastic change in the team’s current motivation to stand a chance at the playoffs. The lineup has been battered and disappointing, led by Ramirez, who has been harder to watch than “The T.O. Show” in his contract year. Right now, Shaq is a better bet to be in L.A. next season than Manny Ramirez.

These next two weeks will be telling of this Dodgers team. If the skid continues, expect them to be sellers at the deadline. If things start to heat up, don’t put it behind Colletti(who raised eyebrows by dealing for Ramirez a couple years ago) to start getting aggressive with trying to win this year. Right now, the key is health and only time will tell where this Dodgers team is headed.

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