Off Base
Mother Always Said

May 13, 2010, 3:45 p.m. "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

Absolutely fine words to live by, so thanks Mom, but applied to the Dodgers for every last second of 2010 and a good chunk of 2009, all we'd be looking at here is a vast expanse of white space. And while white space serves a purpose from time to time, like dead air radio, it's probably not the best way to go.

We in Dodgerland have had a precious too few things to get excited about so far this season, so let's accentuate the positive while we have the chance.

With the Diamondbacks doing their best impression of the Dodgers of two weeks ago, Los Angeles beat the crap out of Arizona, taking three straight in the great semi-indoors of Phoenix.

Three in row, six of seven, nine of 12 against the league, and 9-3 versus the division on the year. Four straight solid performances by the starters, in what is essentially a full turn around the rotation. A very welcome return of Manny Ramirez, highlighted by a booming bases-clearing double last night, some fine contributions from James Loney, and a whole lotta Andre Ethier. A whole lotta Andre Ethier.

I think they're going to be OK now. Emphasis on the think part. I think the Dodgers will play well in San Diego, and come home with a couple of wins and a record above break-even. I think Chad Billingsley will pitch well at Petco Park, which is often the case. But who knows, really?

I think Clayton Kershaw will wipe the floor with the Padres lineup – OK, I'm confident on that score – and I even think Ramon Ortiz will put up some zeros tomorrow night.

It's an important series, which, along with the three-gamer in Los Angeles next week, could be an early turning point in the season. Should be an early turning point in the season, which I think will go L.A.'s way.

I think the Dodgers are ready, I think they'll distinguish themselves over the next week or ten days, and I think they'll then prepare for the next challenge.

Like the rest of the planet, I think the Padres will lose a few more games than they'll win starting any day now. But I really don't know. I mean, Jon Garland? Jon Garland?!

Yes, the San Diego pitching gets a boost from with their cavernous home field advantage, but it's a good staff. I think they can keep that part of their game together for awhile, and maybe a long while.

The hitting, on the other hand, no. There's no there, there. And it'll pose a problem for the Padres, a real problem, starting sometime soon. Perhaps with a little help from the Dodgers, as soon as Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday afternoon.

That's what I think. I think. How about you?

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

Russell Martin Day-Off-Oh-Meter: Ah, the first appearance of 2010 for the old Russell Martin Day-Off-Oh-Meter, or what I'm calling from now on, the Russell Martin DOOM. Or maybe just the DOOM. Here are the latest dark and stark figures:

Fourteen straight starts behind the plate for Mr. Martin, and 17 out of 18, the 18th being a second game of a doubleheader. For the season, Martin has started 29 of his club's 33 games at catcher, relieved backup A.J. Ellis in another, and pinch hit three times.

So, if you're scoring, that translates to one day off in six weeks. One.

Included are day games after night games, day games after extra inning night games, and one actual day off.

Do I really need to explain the lameness here? Abusive is a more accurate word, as is negligent, but this is the reality, that's simply not going to change anytime soon.

Not getting the catcher position is Joe Torre's one unexplainable weakness, especially odd because he played the position (although never more than 114 games in a season). It's the one thing he does consistently wrong – universally wrong – that almost no one else in his position ever does. Like Steve Garvey, with the throwing.

It's great that Martin prepared himself as best he could, with the lifting in the offseason at all, but there's no real defense for what he's up against. A catcher simply cannot play this much, and excel over the course of 162. It's a physical impossibility.

And all the sitting makes it that much more difficult for Ellis to be ready when called upon. As if it's not tough enough for a Dodger backup catcher. Mike Piazza and Paul Lo Duca's understudies gathered dust, but nothing like this.

We'll keep the fire burning for poor getting-old-before-his-time Russell Nathan Coltrane Jeanson Martin, but don't get your hopes up. If you agree that rest is a requirement for catchers, leave Martin's name off your All-Star ballot. It's the only way he's going to get it…

Binoculars in the Outfield: So Phillies' bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer has been caught stealing signs, and all the world is up in arms. Voice of reason T.J. Simers noted this morning that perhaps Billmeyer wasn't using the Bushnells to take advantage of the opponent, because, well, "Anyone who has been around baseball knows they use binoculars to scope out the babes in the stands."

That's an obvious line. I thought of it too, so it must be. Simers beat me to the punch-line, so I'll just add this. The scoping out the babes defense is a good one, and the Phils would be wise to go that route. You'd think Billmeyer would want to get out front with the story, for fear of the alternative theory. You know, that he was scoping out the boys in the stands.

No doubt he'd rather take the rap for cheating. A sad commentary…

Statue for Sandy: The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…

Remember, glove conquers all….


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