If the Dodgers want to win in the NL West, they’ll have to run a very tight pitching ship as their offense is below the fold in almost all categories (nearing rock-bottom in RBIs for instance) and not looking to improve much in the next two weeks. Much of that offensive mediocrity, however, can be credited to the fact that three of the major (would-be) run producers and scorers in the team are on the DL. Nomar Garciaparra is out with a bad calf (and the genetic disorder that prevents it from healing quicker), Andruw Jones is coming off knee surgery to repair torn cartilage, and Rafael Furcal has been battling a stiff back for almost two months now. All three are scheduled to beign rehab assignemnts with Triple A Las Vegas on Monday.
So far the Dodgers have managed to remain two and a half games behind first-place Arizona (albeit with a 37-42 record) due in part to the strong pitching from (of all people) Chan Ho Park, who’s 1-0 in three starts with a 1.20 ERA (after being in the pen to start the year) and Eric Stults (2-0, 0.60 ERA). Manager Joe Torre wants to up the ante, announcing a six-man rotation after Hiroki Kourda comes off the DL, and specifically because of Stults’ results (trying saying that three times!).
I doubt the Dodgers will be buyers in the trade market, if only because they’ve already got a bloated payroll with nothing to show for it. In fact, they’ve been having “cryptic meetings” with Derek Lowe and his agent, Scott Boras, and its their young’uns that are producing (like Andre Ethier above).
Maybe if the coerce a few more wins out of Lowe and Chad Billingsley, and if they get their superstars back from Triple A rehab stints soon enough (not to mention the eventual return of Brad Penny and Jason Schmidt – but don’t hold your breath on Schmidt), they might be able to hold on to make it interesting in the NL West.