The Sports Illustrated jinx strikes again!
The magazine’s history of featuring people on their cover only to see them get injured is legendary. Depending on your beliefs, it was either good or bad that Sports Illustrated decided to print a story about how Los Angeles was a hotbed of excitement with the Lakers, Clippers and Kings all in the playoffs and the Dodgers leading the NL West. The cover featured new Dodgers owner Earvin Johnson and outfielder Matt Kemp.
Sure enough, just days after the issue was on the stands, Kemp re-injured his nagging hamstring (in deference to you jinx non-believers, he was hurt before the cover came out). He will be sidelined at least a month and, according to some reports that say the Dodgers don’t want to take any chances, may not return until after the All-Star break. Somewhere, a hundred fantasy league guys are crying over their i-phones.
The Dodgers ever-growing DL may be the tip of the tailspin many naysayers have been predicting. The Brewers came to Dodger Stadium this week and swept a four game series. That marked the first time in 19 years the Dodgers didn’t win at least one game of a four game series at home. A ten game road trip began with a 13-3 pummeling by the Rockies on Friday night.
So what happens next? The rumor mill began to churn when the Red Sox announced, then denied, they are interested in moving infielder Kevin Youkilis Youkilis, who earned the nickname “Greek God of Walks” for his ability to draw bases on balls yet was a nice Jewish boy, started the season in manager Bobby Valentine’s doghouse. Youkilis got off to slow start which prompted Valentine to publicly accuse hims of, well, “dogging” it. Maybe you couldn’t blame Valentine considering Youkilis was batting .200 at the time.
On paper, Youklis would be a nice fit for the Dodgers since he has done time at both third and first base, positions the Dodgers aren’t getting much from. Regular first baseman James Loney is batting .179 over his last 10 games and the injury to Juan Uribe has made third base a revolving door. Youkilis is currently at .250, with 4 home runs in 27 games. He has averaged 23 home runs the last four seasons. But do the Dodgers have any arms to lend the perennial AL East contenders who could use some pitching?
The Dodgers have some solid prospects but that may be about it. Former number one picks Zach Lee (2-2, 5.13 ERA in Double A this season) and Chris Withrow (1-1, 5.71, also in Double A) could be dangled as fresh bait. Nathan Eovaldi (1-3, 3.46 in seven major league starts over two seasons) pitched well in his only 2012 start. He gave up two runs and four hits in seven innings in a loss to the Brewers Tuesday night. His only mistake was a first inning, two-run home run to Ryan Braun. The problem is these guys may not be ready to help Boston right now.
Could anyone else be thrown in? The Dodgers position player prospects have been far and few between. Two recent call-ups may not have the Red Sox throwing a tea party anytime soon. Outfielder Andy Van Slyke is hitting .154 and Elian Herrera, though batting .314 since his May 15th debut, is a 27 year old who has toiled in the minor leagues for seven years. Infielder Alex Castellanos, the “main” prospect the Dodgers wanted when they sent shortstop Rafael Furcal to the Cardinals last year, was just called up and might be the only guy other teams want to see an audition from.
In addition to Kemp, the rotation is hurting, both literally and figuratively. Ted Lilly was placed on the DL for the second time this season. The first time it was his neck; this time it is his shoulder. The words sore and shoulder and pitcher never add up to anything good. Chad Billingsley is also hurting, though not in a physical way.
Billingsley moved to 2-4 on the season after giving up four runs in six innings in Thursday’s loss to the Brewers. He shot out of the gate in 2012 by winning his first two games but is 0-4 in his nine starts since. Not that he has pitched terrible enough to lose his spot in the rotation-Billingsley has allowed 4 runs or less in 10 of his 11 starts. But he certainly is still light years away from earning the $35 million contract he signed in 2011. Since last year’s All-Star break, Billingsley is just 5-8 in 22 starts
The Dodgers were reportedly interested in Roy Oswalt but lost out to the Rangers. The “usual suspects” from the non-contenders are being mentioned for the umpteenth time. The Cubs Ryan Dempster, who has yet to win a game spite of a 2.90 ERA, is probably a guy that GM Theo Epstein would move tomorrow if he could. Two AL names might be the Twins Carl Pavano (2-4) and, if healthy, the A’s Brandon McCarthy (3-3, 2.95 ERA). Both become free agents after this season and happen to play for teams that don’t often add the words free and agent together.