First Half Report Card

Here's a report card on the Dodgers through the first half of the 2007 season:

Catcher Russell Martin - A plus, an All Star first half. An emerging star and maybe a superstar.

First baseman James Loney - hitting for average. A slick fielder- forget the four errors, count the diminishing number of throwing errors by the other infielders as Loney helps them. A tremendous rebound from the ravages of the team's handling of the kid at the beginning of the season. Should be moved into the three spot. A definite plus.

Second baseman Jeff Kent - on his way to a 20 home run, 80 RBI season. Very good for a guy approaching 40. Requires periodic rest. Fine for now but the Dodgers must move on to replace a guy where age is showing more and more.

Shortstop Rafy Furcal - a down season plagued by lingering effects of spring training leg injury. Power and extra base hits and stolen bases way off - attributable to injury. His season doesn't match up when compared to Marlins' Henley Ramirez and others, but still, there's a reason. He can be better again. Still, for whatever reason, hasn't earned the big salary he's getting.

Third baseman Nomar Garciaparra - merits only a so-so because his homer dropoff is far, far below that expected and needed from a corner infielder. His fielding at third is better than it was at first and he looks more at home on the left side of the infield than he did from the right. Probably should be dropped in the batting order, where he might flourish again.

Third baseman Wilson Betemit - lost full time job given to him on a platter. He has stayed too close to the Mendoza line (a .200 batting average) too long.

Left fielder Luis Gonzalez - a fair return on investment. The guy is a hitter, although not with his one-time power. His fielding can be a detriment as runners aren't afraid to run on him and his arm has never rebounded fully after Tommy John surgery. He wants to come back and the question the Dodgers face is whether a 41-year-old will contribute more than Matt Kemp or Andre Ethier on a full time basis and why pay three or four times as much for an veteran not going to get any better?

Center fielder Juan Pierre - he is on a pace for another 200 hit, 50 plus stolen base season, so why is there the discomfort with this guy? Why isn't leading off when Rafy's leg problems hinder his speed? Winning baseball since Robert E. Lee has been strong up the middle defense, i.e., catcher, short and second and center. The Dodgers have half of this knocked with Martin and Furcal but with defensive liabilities at second in Kent and center in Furcal.

Right fielders Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp - the only two average or above average throwing arms the Dodgers have. Also both have average or above average hitting and Kemp could be a 30 HR guy, but not as a platoon player. If the Dodgers were in the American League, both would be starting and old pro Gonzalez the DH.

The bench.
Reserve catcher Mike Lieberthal. Hitting .200. Again the Dodgers are paying four times as much as they would be for Kenny Huckaby who does just as much. Its hard to do much sitting all the time but Lieberthal hasn't done much even in such limited play. The reserve infielders, Betemit, Tony Abreu, Ramon Martinez and even  Wilson Valdez, all have had their moments.

Pinch hitter deluxe Olmedo Saenz. Another Mendoza Line case. The question is how much longer can the Dodgers rely on an aging, overweight pinch hitter, even though he is the senior and beloved Dodger player. His future may be in the AL as a DH or as a coach. It doesn't appear Saenz can play the field anymore and he is definitely not in the first two or three at the depth chart for any position he formerly played.

Starters.
Derek Lowe - has had an outstanding first half. His 8-8 record is totally misleading. It could easily, with even mild support, have been 12-4 and he maybe should have been the All Star Game starter.

Brad Penny - better than outstanding first half. His best season ever. The best deals some teams make is the one they don't make. Penny was trade-bait early and a lot of teams are kicking themselves they didn't grab the big guy. Randy Wolf's .500 record is a lot different than Lowe's.

Randy Wolf, often injured, hasn't pitched over 120 innings in a year in this century. As he approached that number in a half season, his early positive record faded and faded and faded. He was a risk the Dodgers got away with early and how much he has left for the second half is any man's guess.

Brett Tomko - 1-7 and an ERA over 6.50. Nuff said. GM Ned Colletti liked him, got him, and the Dodgers appear stuck with him. No question he needs a new start elsewhere.

Jason Schmidt - a sensible decision to grab the once-great pitcher has looked not so sensible, then iffy, then just plain awful. So much invested, so little returned. Hope the Dodgers have insurance. Gone for season. Future?, who knows.

Chad Billingsley -  he was "Loneyed" while the Dodgers messed around with Schmidt, Tomko, Hendrickson, then Kuo. The only starter other than the top two with any upside at all and a great deal of the second half hopes are tied to his efforts.

The bullpen.
Take  it on Home Saito. Another great effort. An All Star effort. The Dodgers got lucky with this guy. No reason he can't and wont continue, even at 37.

Jonathan Broxton - once in a while the big guy will lose one, but he comes on, comes on,  comes on, just like Sherman's march to the sea. His future and the Dodgers future is ahead not behind.

Broadway Joe Beimel and Rip Van Seanez - the Dodgers have gotten great efforts out of both. One has the sense either or both could implode at a moment's notice, but the team is enjoying them while they can.

The manager.
It's hard to evaluate or grade Grady Little. The team is nine games over .500 at the half, a mild disappointment after such an encouraging start. But the powerless team is still powerless and the ravages of the starting rotation have to be taken into consideration. Little is patient, maybe too patient. Nobody knows if he is just the loyal manager glad to have one of the top jobs in baseball or if he fully agrees with decisions like the Loney and Billingsley ones (and others) 'cuz he says all the right things for the organization.

GM Ned Colletti- when you trade for players and commit the teams money, you takes your chances. So far this year, the dice have often rolled up snake eyes. He needs a new pair of dice.  

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