Reasons the glass is half full for the Dodgers

Clayton Kershaw, who tossed a gem against the Marlins over the weekend, has been lights out for the Dodgers. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

There was a famous (maybe “regular” is a better word?) song on the old comedy show “Hee-Haw” that used to talk about bad breaks that people were receiving.

The song had people singing, “If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all … gloom, despair and agony on me.”
The person who plays the organ at Dodger Stadium might need to brush up on that old song after the way things keep going for the boys in blue in 2011.

Just when you thought it was safe to go to Chavez Ravine, another Dodger has landed on the disabled list. Pitchers have been falling by the wayside like flies this season — Hong-Chih Kuo, Jonathan Broxton, Blake Hawksworth, Vicente Padilla and Jon Garland have all missed time due to injuries.

This weekend, closer-in-training Kenley Jansen became the latest Dodger pitcher to join the injured list. Now the Dodgers have called up double-A pitcher Josh Lindblom to join the big boys.

In the midst of the disappointment that has become the 2011 season for the Dodgers, there are still some positives on which to focus. Here are some of the “glass is half full” aspects of the lost season in Los Angeles:

We get to see what the future holds in Los Angeles — If the Dodgers were winning or just treading water this season, we wouldn’t be seeing Jerry Sands, Russ Mitchell, Rubby De La Rosa, Ivan DeJesus Jr. or Lindblom get face time in L.A. I, for one, am glad that these youngsters are getting a chance to show whether or not they’re worthy of keeping around. Anyone remember some not-so-stellar trades of our minor league prospects who hadn’t proved themselves yet, but who are now causing nightmares in the City of Angels? Paul Konerko, Pedro Martinez and Carlos Santana, just to name a recent few. I would rather have the Dodgers suffer through a lost season, but have budding stars show what they can do, than see us get a half-season rental and give up another Santana.

We have a stud in Clayton Kershaw How many times have you seen Kershaw get pounded on the mound? Sure, he has three losses, but Kershaw has allowed two runs or fewer in five of his last six starts. His 2.62 ERA shows that Kershaw keeps his team in the game most of the time. It has been enjoyable watching him blossom from a promising, cant-miss prospect into a staff ace. There isn’t a team in Major League Baseball that wouldn’t love to have Kershaw toe its mound. With Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, De La Rosa, Javy Guerra, Scott Elbert and Lindblom, pitching should be a strong point in Los Angeles for years to come.

Matt Kemp is as strong between the ears as he is at the plate — No one has ever doubted Kemp’s ability. Kemp has always been a five-tool player. He can throw, he can run, he can hit for power … but he hasn’t always believed in himself, and he hasn’t always been willing to learn. In 2011, Kemp looks like a complete player. He doesn’t swing at balls in the dirt. He doesn’t seem lost with two strikes against him at the plate. He looks like he knows how to run the bases. Kemp has finally become what we all hoped and dreamed he would be. Maybe it’s because he is no longer jet-setting with Rihanna. Maybe it’s because Kemp has a new manager he relates with more easily. Maybe it’s because Davey Lopes has taught him some discipline. Whatever the cause, Kemp is one reason to keep watching the Dodgers in 2011, even if the losses keep piling up.

The sweet swing of Andre Ethier Who has a sweeter swing than Ethier? Even when he gets out, Ethier makes it look pretty. Even now that Ethier’s hitting streak is long gone, he still gives fans a reason to watch. Let’s hope that the hub-bub about Ethier possibly wanting out of Los Angeles is just an example of the rumor mill going overboard. His obscene gesture aside, this has been nothing but a positive season for Ethier. He and Kemp are two of the best outfielders in the game and the Dodgers are fortunate to have them next to each other.


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