Are Dodgers Real Contenders or Just Well-Paid Pretenders?

L.A. Dodgers centerfielder Matt Kemp and third base coach Tim Wallach confer on base running strategy in a game against the San Francisco Giants. Photo Credit: Dennis J. Freeman

Los Angeles-It is about time for the Los Angeles Dodgers to get some of kind of pep in their step. Right about now the Dodgers looked liked a team stuck in the mud, wandering mindlessly in the middle of a riverboat swamp.

If the Dodgers hope to make that final push to take over the National League West lead, or at worst, keep their current wild card position, they’ll need to step up their game. Now. Better yet, what the Dodgers need to do is take care of business in their own division.

The Dodgers have a win-lost advantage over every other division in the National League except the one they play in. The Dodgers only have five weeks remaining in the season to right that ship. Right now, it’s not looking so good.

One day after defeating the San Diego Padres with a 4-3 win at home, the Dodgers turned right around and surrounded a 3-1 lead enroute to an eventual 6-3 loss to the same team. Not good.

With the loss to the Padres, the Dodgers now have a 27-30 mark against NL West division opponents so far this year, not exactly a receptive record for a team with aspirations of making an appearance in the postseason. That’s not going to happen if the Dodgers continue to falter and fail to take care of business at home.

They have a real chance to get it right the over the next few weeks. The Dodgers will play five series against NL West teams, including two with the division-leading San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers final three series are against the NL West cellar-dwelling Colorado Rockies, a fourth-place San Diego Padres team before they close out the season going up against the arch-rival Giants.

That’s good news for the boys in blue. The Dodgers don’t have to worry about getting help from other teams to determine their postseason hopes. With the big trade for Adrian Gonzales, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett, the Dodgers are positioned perhaps better than any other team to make a strong dash to the playoffs.

Hanley Ramirez and the L.A. Dodgers are still looking at the back of Brandon Belt and the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants. Photo Credit: Dennis J. Freeman

The bad news is that given the fact that the Dodgers have had an uneven season against NL West teams, saying what they will or won’t do is much more difficult to predict.  As of right now the Dodgers are sitting 4 ½ games back behind the Giants and just two games ahead of the Pittsburg Pirates for the last wild card spot.

Atlanta and last year’s World Series winner St. Louis Cardinals are ahead of the Dodgers for the wild card slot. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place. Dodgers’ management restocked and reloaded the team’s roster with the highly regarded Gonzales to add re-enforcement to a lineup that includes Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Hanley Ramirez.

Kemp, Ethier, Ramirez and Gonzales, now that is a group that can go up against any pitcher in this league and slugged the leather off the baseball.  The problem is that they all haven’t jelled together as a unit just yet.

But they better hurry up or they’ll be sitting on their couches at home watching the playoffs. That lineup didn’t look so hot against the Padres, even though Ethier popped a solo home run off of ex-Dodger Eric Stults, his second out-of-the-park blast in as many nights.

The Dodgers have no need to push the panic button. They’ve got the hitters. They’ve got the pitching. They have a great manger in Don Mattingly. What they have to do now is to be clutch over the next month. They really don’t have any other choice but to do so.



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