While it may seem like an eternity since we said goodbye to Dodger baseball for 2012, it’s only been a week. But not to worry my friends, because pitchers and catchers report in 126 days.*
That’s assuming a Valentine’s Day camp opening, which minus an actual announcement works for me, especially since it’s the anniversary of the day I proposed to the Main Squeeze.
*There’s an inside joke to the “my friends” insertion above, re the beautiful pitchers-and-catchers-report phrase, but in my effort to be less “caustic” this year (per my mother), I’ve abandoned the actually written-word knee-slapper. Apologies to those who don’t get it.
I’m also dispensing with the post-mortem which often comes around this time of year, in favor of something that includes both the negative and the positive perspective. Since “post-mortem” implies an “after death” investigation, I just didn’t feel like it this time. It was an up and down mostly frustrating season, but the Dodgers didn’t die.
I wasn’t going to give you a one-per-day treatise on the 50 men who appeared for the team during the season either, as some of my colleagues are pursuing, God bless em. I didn’t want to write them, and I’m quite sure you weren’t going to read them stretching all the way to Thanksgiving. I believe a quick review is all that’s required, and that’s what you get below. Then it’s on to next year.
The criterion used to grade the players is simple enough. I watched a good 155 out of 162 games, lived and died with the team as always, blogged throughout and feel like I know each and every man’s accomplishments backwards, forwards and sideways. So it’s statistics mixed with actually watching baseball. What a concept, huh?**
**Less caustic, remember, not completely devoid of causticness.
Traditional A-to-F letter grades, with incompletes reserved for those who, through no fault of their own, were not given sufficient opportunities to be graded objectively.
Bobby Abreu: Riding high in May, shot down in June, and the rest of the way. Grade: C-
Alex Castellanos: Twenty-five plate appearances over 16 games. Grade: incomplete.
Luis Cruz: A revelation in every way imaginable. .297, six home runs and 40 RBIs in a half season, and as clutch as is humanly possible. Grade: A
Ivan De Jesus, Jr. May 22nd game-winning double gave Dodgers their season-best 30-13 record, and that’s not to be forgotten, but never stood a chance in Los Angeles. Respectable .273. Grade: B
A.J. Ellis: Key player, thoroughly deserving of the Roy Campanella Award as the “Most Inspirational Dodger.” Better-than-expected-by-most bat, great with staff and limiting the stolen base. Third-from-the-bottom-in-MLB 11 passed balls and generally catching the baseball a problem. Grade: B
Mark Ellis: Great with the glove, genuine veteran leadership, .228 against right-handers a concern, one-too-many TOOTBLANs. Grade: B
Andre Ethier: Great at home, weak on the road; great vs. righties, weak vs. lefties. Streaky as always, too many quick easy outs, fine but unspectacular. .284, 20 and 89 RBI passable, but not enough oomph. Grade: B-
Tim Federowicz: Didn’t get a single start with Ellis slumping and tired. Final game of the season counts for nothing. Skipper’s bad, unfortunate. Grade: incomplete.
Adrian Gonzalez: Rousing debut and final eight games in Los Angeles, but not much in between. Understandable perhaps, and a ton on his shoulders, but a better showing might have had Dodgers in the postseason. .297 in Blue. Grade: B-
Dee Gordon: No D, very little O. A work in progress. Grade: D
Tony Gwynn: Hit .291 while helping team win 16 games in the important month of May, subbing for Matt Kemp on an everyday-basis. Struggled afterwards. Grade: C
Jerry Hairston, Jr. As advertised and then some. Better than his .273, .342, four and 26 indicate. Some spectacular play in the field, along with a few errors. Can’t wait to get him back in there in 2013. Grade: B+
Elian Herrera: Surprise call-up made an immediate impact before coming down to earth. Clutch hits. Does several things well. Grade: B
Matt Kemp: Behold the walls of Jericho – uh, Coors Field. .303, with 23 homers and 69 RBIs are pretty good numbers for a lost season, but a lost season it was, and it cost the Dodgers a division. A little wisdom from the manager might very well have made the difference. Grade: B
Adam Kennedy: Splits show a .356 second half, which is nothing to sneeze at, but .262 overall with 16 RBIs overall and a weak glove count too. Not as bad as his critics made him out to be, but his guaranteed major league contract was a mistake. Grade: C
James Loney: MFD – Most Frustrating Dodger…uh, ex-Dodger. No idea what in the world happened to the guy, but wish him well in Houston or Toronto or wherever. Grade: D
Nick Punto: Made an impact with a nice little effort in September, fun to watch around the bag. His .286 and .390 helped, but will be remembered for jersey snagging. A good bet to return next year. Grade: B
Hanley Ramirez: Scary-to-watch shortstop who ought to play third in 2013. Hit .271with 10 homers post-trade, which translates to four more RBIs than Cruz. Grade: C
Juan Rivera: A product of the final winter of McCourt, and wouldn’t have been re-signed otherwise. More failures than successes, soon to be unemployed. Grade: C-
Jerry Sands: Didn’t have a prayer as a 2012 Dodger, manager’s decision. Grade: incomplete.
Justin Sellers: Easy-to-root-for kind of player. Plus glove, minus bat, disabled primarily. Grade: C-
Matt Treanor: Did some good things early, fell off the planet after that. Shouldn’t have been signed in the first place. Grade: D
Juan Uribe: A veritable dart board for fans across the globe. Looks like a globe. If there was an F-, he’d get an F-, but alas there is no F-. Grade: F
Scott Van Slyke: Three-run pinch homer important, but resembles a minor league DH type, unimpressive generally. Grade: D
Shane Victorino: Stole bases and caught the ball, but did little else well after acquisition. Disappointing .245 and .316 and disappointing all the way around. Grade: C-
Josh Beckett: Pitched better than 2-3 L.A. record indicates. Small sample size, but definitely a turnaround from his 2012 five-month Boston campaign. Will be a key player in 2013. Grade: B
Ronald Belisario: C’mon, who among us even expected him to show up for work? Great most of the time, especially with fresh innings. Grade: B
Joe Blanton: Hit town in July with a 4.59 ERA, and it went up. Enough said. Grade: Charitable C-
Chad Billinglsey: More of the same in the unwatchable starts department before turning it around convincingly, sandwiched around two elbow injuries. God knows what’s next. Grade: B-
Chris Capuano: Great start, should’ve been an All-Star and an about-face second half. Still, 12 wins plus a 3.72 equals exactly what Dodgers signed up for. Took the ball every fifth day, just missing 200 innings. Grade: B-
Randy Choate: A fine addition, does well when used properly. Should return in 2013. Grade: B
Todd Coffey: Improved after a rough start but injured twice, once seriously. Tub of something or other. Time to hang em up. Grade: C-
Rubby De La Rosa: As textbook an INC as any 2012 Dodger. Grade: incomplete.
Scott Elbert: Looked good in spots, not so good in others, health issues semi-wrecked season. Grade: B-
Nathan Eovaldi: Good stuff and loads of potential, but not ready for a spot in a rotation just yet. Grade: C-
John Ely: One memorable blowup leading to a gut-wrenching loss, but given no reasonable chance to succeed. Grade: incomplete.
Stephen Fife: Took the ball in tough spots and did as well as could be expected. Grade: B-
Javy Guerra: Disappointing second season, but misused by manager and hurt much of the time. Grade: C
Matt Guerrier: Injured most of the season, hit hard in parts of April and September, but too small a sample size to critique fairly. Grade: incomplete.
Aaron Harang: Ten wins, 3.66 ERA and 31 starts. Precisely par for the course, but in a good way. B-
Kenley Jansen: From setup to closer and back to setup, while barely skipping a (heart) beat. One egregious steal of home allowed. Grade: A-
Clayton Kershaw: World’s greatest Dodger – a god, essentially. All glowing adjectives apply. In fact, new ones ought to be invented. Grade: A+
Brandon League: Credit Ned Colletti for this one. After a rough spell, nothing but zeros. Absolutely unhittable; must be re-signed. Grade: A
Josh Lindblom: 2012 well below what 2011 forecast. Expendable, and despite Victorino, Los Angeles should have no regrets. Grade: C
Ted Lilly: Pitched well before breaking down and near the end of the line. Grade: B
Mike MacDougal: Signed based on 2011 performance, which he couldn’t replicate. Grade: D
Steven “Paco” Rodriguez: First 2012 MLB draftee to reach bigs, pitched like a veteran in a pennant race, his 6 2/3 innings seemed like more. Impressive start. Grade: A
Shawn Tolleson: A mixed bag – gave up some big hits, countered with multiple good outings – a fine start to his Dodger career. Expect growth in year two. Grade: B-
Josh Wall: Looked good and bad but in too few appearances to fairly assess. Grade: incomplete
Jamey Wright: Gave L.A. plenty. Took underserved heat from the blogosphere. Will almost assuredly be back. Grade: B
Don Mattingly: Too many bunts, too much predictability, too few solutions to problems in front of him. Good with the media and in the clubhouse; a leader who should improve going forward. Head-in-the-sand-hold-your-breath approach to star players’ injuries bordering on negligence. Grade: C-
And remember, glove conquers all.