Did We Jinx the Dodgers?

Last week we apologized for dissing the Dodgers who had galloped off to an improbable and unexpected 13-6 start, baseball's best. Not a week has passed and the Dodgers have been swept out of first place and, gadzooks, by the Giants yet. Did we jinx the team?

One could say the Dodgers didn't play especially well in the Giants sweep. Fact is, they played pretty lousy. They earned the sweep.

Has reality set in? Maybe.

The outfield defense hasn't saved any games. In fact, they have contributed to the slump. The problem is the outfield defense isn't just a temporary thing, it is, as long as Luis Gonzalez and Juan Pierre are in the lineup, a perpetual thing that will haunt the Dodgers.

We don't know what it is inside manager Grady Little. Something makes him stick with third baseman Wilson Betemit and stick with him and stick with him. At the same time, something inside Little makes him yank Andre Ethier in and out of the lineup, not designed to help the kid's psyche.

Why does Little stick with guys who came in from elsewhere yet doubt the Dodgers own good to very good to potentially great rookies? Grady Little gets no high marks for his decisions and use of Ethier, pitcher Chad Billingsley and farmed out James Loney.

If a candidate for a managers job said he should he hired because he: (a) preferred a .100 hitter (Betemit) instead of a .380 hitter (Loney), (b) preferred Brett Tomko over Chad Billingsley, (c) platooned a .300 hitter (Ethier), the normal GM and team would say "thanks for stopping  by, we'll get back to you."

Somebody should tell the Dodgers you don't have to trade a good kid and then hope to reacquire him later in order to trust him in the lineup.

Somebody should tell the Dodgers it doesn't help a kid acquire confidence by jerking him around, in and out, up and down.

It doesn't help the team to note that the best off season acquisition has been Brady Clark and that the millions upon millions upon millions spent on bigger and better names have so far yielded, well, chump change in return.

After a month, Nomar Garciaparra has produced as many children as homers. Alex Rodriguez has more homers than Wilson Betemit has hits. Jason Schmidt gets $2 million a month to win games. So far he collected his $2 million, has nary a win and has yet to crack 90 mph once on the slow speed gun.

Hopefully the Giants sweep will be a temporary glitch, just a bump in the road. Unfortunately some of the weak points just won't go away just by wishing.    

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