Dodgers a Disappointment so Far

April and May have come and gone and as the Dodgers begin the summer season, it can only be said they havebeen a very big disappointment so far. When shortstop Rafael Furcal was healthy and at the top of the lineup, the Dodgers did well - even with their other myriad problems. But when Furcal went down, so did the Dodgers. It's clear they miss him and miss him badly.

Furcal went out with a mild sprain expected to last only a game or two. Weeks have gone by and he's not back yet.

As Furcal goes, so go the Dodgers.

The Dodgers took a huge gamble - although not the four or five year deal they might have been suckered into - on centerfielder Andruw Jones. It has been hard to tell which expanded faster, Jones' waistline or his strike zone.

The gamble has not paid off. Jones is hurt and out, and while it is unkind to say, Jones hurt is more of a help to the team than Jones able to play.

Unless Jones can somehow turn it around, the Dodgers will be forced to eat his salary for the rest of this year and next. The Dodgers took another gamble that Nomar Garciaparra wouldn't keep getting hurt, another losing gamble. They gambled that 40 year old Jeff Kent would have enough left in the tank to play regularly and also to hold down the cleanup slot. One would have to say this is another gamble that so far has not paid off, if it ever will.

The Dodgers were thought to have a solid pitching staff. This thinking, after two months, has also been faulty. Brad Penny will NOT start this year's All Star game. He is under .500, his ERA is over 5 runs a game. The number one starter has not been a number one starter.

Not at all. Derek Lowe was supposed to be the solid seasoned veteran, he of the sinkerball, scads of ground ball outs, and low runs games. He has a losing record.

Chad Billingsley has been the best Dodgers pitcher. Mr. Kuroda from Japan, the beneficiary of many Dodgers dollars, has, well, been only so-so. The Dodgers various experiments with the number five starter have been like many experiments, busts.

Joe Torre, the beneficiary of the Steinbrenner's largesse in New York City, looks like Popeye without his spinach in LA. Managers don't play the game but they do make decisions that can affect wins and losses.

You'd have to say the Torre LA record, at least in the early going, has been like the team itself, only so-so (a nice word for mediocre).

Did Dodgers fans expect more? More from the pitching staff? More from Jones? More good health? More from the team's various gambles? You bet they did.

Many teams stumbled out of the gate. But now after two months and heading into the summer, things have shaken out a little and the better teams have begun to pull away. There are more than half a dozen teams 10 games over 500. The Dodgers are two games under .500.

The Dodgers are frankly lucky that they are still less than five games back in the National League West standings.

It is now 21 seasons since the last Dodgers Championship - and that winning team had a lot less talent than the current Dodgers. But it has been an awfully long wait.

The Dodgers had championships in the 50s, the 60s, the 70s and the 80s, but the hiatus has been awfully long, awfully long. Players, owners, managers have come and gone, not to mention hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars - which one way or another come from the long suffering fans.

The New York fans have been ALL OVER New York Mets manager Willy Randolph for the Mets play - but the Mets sport a better record than the Dodgers. Detroit Tigers fans, widely expecting more after the Tigers off season spending spree, are vociferously grousing.

In laid back LA, the press is mild to put it mildly. There is more spin in LA than in Washington (read "spin" as making good, sound alibis).

The wonder of it all is that the Dodgers sub .500 record so far may in fact be better than the team itself. They have only one serious player worthy of All Star status, catcher Russell Martin.

All over the world, kids are getting out of school and getting their report cards. In baseball, the beginning of June is the end of the first term, not the whole year, but the Dodgers grade could only be a very generous C-.

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