The Dodgers are Halfway Home

Sunday's game was the 81st game played. Half way home. The Dodgers are five games under .500 and barely respectable. Only the shocking collapse of Arizona, which started the season on fire, has kept the Boys in Blue in striking distance. Can the Dodgers turn the ship around and capitalize on the opportunity?

If you look up and down the first half Dodgers, the answer would have to be a resounding NO. But baseball, like all sports, can be quirky and unexpected.

One of the LA guys wrote a puff piece about going on 39 year old pinch-hitter extraordinaire (formerly) Mark Sweeney, worried his job is on the line when some of the cadre of walking wounded begin to return.

The same night, Sweeney's season long batting average dipped to .098. Joe Torre has patiently gone again and again and again to Sweeney and the old pro has simply failed to deliver - again and again and again. But you can hardly blame one guy for the Dodgers current condition.

With a team that has gone with a dozen pitchers and a short deck of position player backups, hitting under .100 for a guy who can't or shouldn't ever have to play with a glove on his hand rather than a bat in his hand just sticks out like a sore thumb. Heck even overweight Andruw Jones is hitting a more than that.

If the Phills Jason Werth were still a Dodger, his 2008 homers so far would be leading the team. So would the Marlin's Cody Ross. And have you noticed Adrian Beltré has 15 homers? The Dodgers, far back among any league leaders in homers and RBI, can't help but feel a little queasy when they look around and see any number of players they jettisoned having numbers so far this season better than anybody the Dodgers currently have.

Milton Bradley, an ex-Dodger, was without a job during the last offseason and could have been gotten for a fraction of his former value. The Dodgers even with "master player handler" Joe Torre on board, passed. Bradley, who could have been gotten for 15 cents on the dollar (for what they shelled out for Andruw Jones) is having a tremendous year.

The Marlins Jorge Cantu was without work and could have been had for the major league minimum. The Mariners had a longtime great hitter named Edgar Martinez who, in the DL friendly AL, came very close to putting up Hall of Fame numbers. Cantu hits an awful lot like Martinez.

The difference between the two is that Cantu can even play some in the field. Cantu put up "old" Jeff Kent numbers in his debut with Tampa Bay and then the sophomore jinx almost ended his career. The Dodgers passed, the Marlins took the small gamble. And the rest is now history. The Dodgers opted to bring back Sweeney instead. Bummer.

Half way through the season, one would have to say the Dodgers pitchers might well want to contemplate suing the hitters for nonsupport. Derek Lowe has pitched a whole lot better than his record indicates.

Rookie Clayton Kershaw has pitched very nicely and still has not notched his first big league victory. And on and on. The offensive has been offensive to their own pitchers.

The offense hits for a pretty good average but almost never in run producing spots. This is an offense with strikeout prone Matt Kemp hitting in the number two spot, where contact and bat control have always seemed paramount.

Now Juan Pierre is on the Disabled List. So the Dodgers called up Jason Repko and will finally give Delwyn Young a short trial for a while in the leadoff slot. There are worse outfields than Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Delwyn Young. At least they all can throw. And just think, when Andruw Jones returns, it won't be long before Kemp will surrender his team leading number of strikeouts.

Over the first half of play, the Dodgers, as the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield oft said, "don't get no respect." Nor, on the basis of the first half should they.