Too early for predictions, unless you’re a ticked off Dodgers fan

Dodgers closer Brandon League throws a pitch.
A 3-2 lead in the ninth wasn’t good enough for randon League against the New York Mets. (Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports)

Okay, 20 games of the 2013 MLB season have been etched in the record books, and it’s way too early to make projections or predictions.

But it ain’t way too early to be ticked off!

My name is Jeff Dickinson, and I’m a ticked off Los Angeles Dodgers fan.

A record of 9-11 just doesn’t cut it for the Dodgers. I don’t want to hear about the injuries. I don’t want to hear about any excuses. The Dodgers should be better than 9-11.

Before I go any further with this article, I need to make one thing clear. All of the stats I’m about to throw at you come with one caveat: The Miami Marlins don’t count in any team stats because they don’t deserve to be called a Major League Baseball team.

That being said, there is one thing that most gets my goat about the 2013 Dodgers: We can’t score runs! If you look at official MLB team stats (minus the Marlins!), the Dodgers are ranked third overall in team hitting.

Not too shabby, is it? It is when you look at the Dodgers’ ranking in runs scored. Guess where our boys in blue rank in runs? Last. Care to take a stab at where the Dodgers rank in on-base percentage? If you guessed third, you win an Eric Gagne Benedict Arnold bobblehead doll.

So, riddle me this, Batman: How can the Dodgers be just four points behind the top-ranked Cincinnati Reds in on-base percentage, but last in runs scored? I’ll tell you how! The Dodgers are not doing anything productive once they get on base.

Another area that points to the lack of timely hitting for the Dodgers is the fact they’re last in the National League in home runs (12) and RBIs (57). I’m not a baseball coach, but I think I know enough about the game to understand that if you get on base, but don’t hit the long ball or drive in runners, good things are not going to happen.

I realize Matt Kemp isn’t going to continue to hit in the .240s the rest of the season. He has picked it up over the past three games, and that trend should continue. I would also place a sizable bet that Andre Ethier will be better than a .230 hitter before the season ends.

However, I also know Mark Ellis isn’t going to continue to rake it at a .348 pace this season. I also know A.J. Ellis is more of the career .271 hitter than he is the .321 man he has been over the first 20 games.

To be an equal opportunity Dodger-basher, I’m also ticked off at our bullpen. Our bullpen couldn’t spell “LEAD” if we spotted it the L, E and the A. The April 23 game against the New York Mets is a perfect example.

Ted Lilly pitched his over-aged fanny off after coming off the injury/disabled/pouting list. Lilly lasted into the sixth inning and held the Mets to one run. When the Dodgers had a 3-1 lead, I still felt like any bad guy in a James Bond movie – antsy!

True to form, J.P. Howell gave up a run (and two walks) after he relieved Lilly in the sixth. Then “closer” Brandon League allowed two hits and the game-tying run when he came in with a 3-2 lead in the ninth inning. Josh Wall closed out the bullpen debacle by allowing four runs in the bottom of the 10th to take the loss.

I’m not ready to hit the panic button in Los Angeles. I think when Hanley Ramirez comes back from his thumb injury in a week or so, the hitting will improve. I also think, despite the season-ending injury to Chad Billingsley, the starting pitching will be fine.

The bullpen causes me great angst, and it probably will all season. The longer the Dodgers continue to fall behind the Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants in the National League West, the harder it’s going to be.

If I’m checking back in with you at the 40-game mark of the season and the Dodgers are somewhere around 18-22, then it will be time to panic. One-fourth of the season will be a pretty good barometer of just what kind of a team we have in Los Angeles.

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