Dare I say it?
OK, so the Angels’ general manager, Jerry Dipoto, quit this week. Manager Mike Scioscia, who still seems more like a Dodger than an Angel, can opt out of his contract after this season. So, if the Dodgers fail to win the World Series and let Don Mattingly go, and Scioscia opts out of his deal because he is frustrated over Angels turmoil (remember the Josh Hamilton debacle), could that mean … no, I don’t want to say it. But it’s fun to think about. Of course, we all want the Dodgers to win the World Series this year and prevent this possibility, but still, it’s nice to have that in the back of your mind.
It seems every year the Dodgers have one bench player who doesn’t get a lot of playing time but is loved by fans. Be it Tripp Cromer, Matt Luke, Chad Fonville or Olmedo Saenz, there’s always a guy who becomes a fan favorite and receives a nice ovation whenever he enters the game. This year it is Kike Hernandez.
Hernandez can play multiple positions and always seems to have a smile on his face when they show him on TV or on DiamondVision at the stadium. And when he gets in the game, he produces, as evidenced in Wednesday’s 4-3 win over Arizona in which he went three for five with a double, triple and two runs scored. It was the first time he had played in four days. He organizes lip-sync contests among teammates and also carries a banana suit with him everywhere he goes, just in case. Mark Saxon of ESPN.com wrote a nice profile of him here.
After Wednesday’s win, Hernandez told reporters, "I play once a week, maybe twice sometimes on a good week, so whatever I can do to help my team win, that's all I care about."
I’ve been critical of the Dodgers this season for having robot-like passion on the field, but I can’t make that claim about Hernandez.
The Dodgers went 15-15 in June, which is not good, but it worked out OK because that was still the best June record in the NL West. Arizona was 13-14, San Francisco and San Diego went 12-14 and Colorado went 12-17. Here’s a look at how various Dodgers performed in June:
Justin Turner, .330, six homers, 17 RBIs (Turner led the team in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging and RBIs)
Howie Kendrick, .311, three homers, 15 RBIs
Yasiel Puig, .303, one homer, six RBIs
Alberto Callaspo, .294, one RBI
Kike Hernandez, .260, two homers, five RBIs
Yasmani Grandal, .250, seven homers, 11 RBIs (Grandal led the team in homers)
Adrian Gonzalez, .248, three homers, 13 RBIs
Joc Pederson, .222, seven homers, 14 RBIs (Note: Pederson had a .379 OB%)
Alex Guerrero, .220, one homers, nine RBIs
Jimmy Rollins, .219, two homers, nine RBIs
Andre Ethier, .214, four homers, nine RBIs
J.P. Howell, 1-0, 0.00 ERA
Kenley Jansen, 2-0, eight saves, 1.54 ERA
Zack Greinke, 1-1, 1.74 ERA
Clayton Kershaw, 2-3, 2.16 ERA
Brett Anderson, 2-1. 2.67 ERA
Juan Nicasio, 0-1, 3.75 ERA
Yimi Garcia, 1-1, 4.26 ERA
Mike Bolsinger, 1-1, 4.40 ERA
Carlos Frias, 1-3, 4.50 ERA
Adam Liberatore, 1-0, 5.19 ERA
Overall in June, the Dodgers outscored their opponents, 121-109, outhomered them, 38-24, but there was one troubling trend: The Dodgers stole two bases while their opponents stole 21. Team speed continues to be an issue, and, before you say it, Dee Gordon alone would not have solved that problem. The Dodgers are filled with base cloggers and rely on extra-base hits for runs. They don’t even have fast guys to pinch-run with. They can still win it all with a team this slow, it just makes things a lot tougher.
Matt Kemp watch
A lot of people were unhappy with the Matt Kemp trade in the off-season, but it has turned out to be a good one for the Dodgers. Not only has Grandal been solid for L.A., Kemp is playing poorly for San Diego, hitting .244 with six homers and 41 RBIs. His OB% is just .279 and he is slugging .365.
Your favorite Dodger
Rene Ponce of Ventura: "My favorite Dodger was Steve Garvey. I was just a kid back in the ‘70s when he enjoyed his greatest success as a Dodger, and I was also enjoying success as a little league player trying to emulate him. I have fond memories of going to Dodger Stadium to see him play, and always paid extra attention when he was batting while watching Dodger games on TV. And of course, I chose jersey number 6 as a player myself. I have been a die hard Dodger fan all my life, and despite all of the social turmoil in his personal life, he will always be my favorite Dodger!"
Toyo Kimura of Redondo Beach: "My favorite Dodger would have to be Hideo Nomo. He was like the second coming of Fernandomania and brought with him Nomomania. With his unorthodox delivery and unhittable fork ball, he helped pave the way for other Japanese and Asian pitchers to join the MLB ranks. And who can forget his no-hitter at Coors Field in '96. As a 12-year-old boy watching it in my living room, I still remember he struck out Ellis Burks on an 0-2 forkball to end the game.
Times columnist Bill Plaschke writes about Dodger Stadium chef Dave Pearson, who is battling Stage 4 lung cancer, and the beautiful video Dodgers employees, including Vin Scully, created for him. Read it while you enjoy the holiday weekend.