But so far that hasn’t stopped them from winning baseball games.
The fact that the Giants’ 2014 performance has exceeded expectations is a credit to the players and to Manager Bruce Bochy; this team clearly demonstrates that timing and dogged determination can create success.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, on the other hand, haven’t come close their pre-season potential.
LA’s talent level is off the charts, they cut 9 1/2 games off the Giants’ lead in June, but they can’t find fifth gear. This team hasn’t won more than three games in a row all season long, and having four starting outfielders jockeying for playing time is no longer a plus.
Every day, at home or on the road, Manager Don Mattingly has to answer a barrage of questions from reporters about the outfield glut, and every day Mattingly pisses off one of the players who is supposed to help him win.
Don Mattingly is better known for keeping LA’s volatile clubhouse in check rather than his on-field game management. Now neither of those tasks is getting done and it’s wearing the Dodgers down.
This weekend the Los Angeles Dodgers travel to AT&T Park for a three game series with the Giants. So far this season the Giants have won four of seven meetings with LA, who enter Friday night a game and a half behind San Francisco.
In September the Dodgers and Giants will meet in two crucial series, six games that will likely determine the NL West Championship. But right now this weekend series feels particularly critical for both teams.
The Giants are playing with house money and seem unable to make a trade deadline deal that will actually help themselves. But if they can manage to win two of three over the weekend they will have effectively poured more oil on the Dodger freeway to the post season.
So the real pressure in this series is on the backs of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In the next week, the Dodgers have to clear out the conga line in the outfield via the non-waiver trade deadline; they need to start scoring more runs to support their great pitching; and they must take at least two of three from San Francisco this weekend. A sweep led by Yasiel Puig (back in the Dodger line-up after an injury) would feel even better.
That’s a lot to do, and so far the 2014 Dodgers haven’t shown any signs of life. This is a team that needs a jolt, a solid kick in their collective behinds and some luck.
Here’s how they can make their own luck: make a decision about Joc Pederson, LA’s second best prospect and a power hitting center fielder with a 1.039 OPS in Triple A Albuquerque who is MLB ready now.
It’s time for Don Mattingly to wipe that inane Hollywood grin off his face and get his uniform dirty again.
Right now the Dodgers are coasting and the Giants are gritting out wins. Pretty soon, which team has more talent on paper won’t matter much; in October that paper will be wrapped around a post season bratwurst being sold at either AT&T Park or Chavez Ravine.