I recently talked to Los Angeles Dodgers’ beat writer TJ Simers about the upcoming Dodgers-Cardinals series that begins Thursday night. Here’s what he had to say:
Steve Hirsch: How has the Dodgers recent blockbuster trade for Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Nick Punto, and Hanley Ramirez affected the team chemistry on and off the field?
T.J. Simers: I don’t think chemistry means anything right now because all it means is wins and losses, and right now they have more losses than they do wins since the trade. Beckett has pitched well, Gonzalez has been a bust, Punto has just been a guy in the clubhouse…Everyone believes Gonzalez will be a stud for the next five or six years, but so far he’s a guy who failed to excite in everyone in Boston and so far has failed to excite everyone in L.A.
SH: Do you think the Dodgers have a good enough starting rotation to win in the postseason?
TS: No. They don’t have any chance in the postseason, it’s more than likely they won’t even get to the postseason. [Clayton] Kershaw couldn’t start in San Francisco because of a sore hip, and after that Beckett all of a sudden is the number two pitcher in the rotation…Capuano has pitched over his head, Joe Blanton is a loss in the making every time he takes the mound, and Aaron Harang hasn’t been very good, so no the Dodgers are not good pitching wise. They have to get to 8th and 9th inning to have a chance to win and so far they’ve been having trouble getting a lead into the 8th and 9th inning.
SH: Is Matt Kemp’s lack of power since coming back from the disabled list purely a symptom of poor health or is there another reason mechanically or otherwise?
TS: He’s been dealing with injuries all year long, and he’ll end up playing in only half of the season. If you look at the numbers, they’re actually incredible for playing half a season. He’s been in a free fall recently but that’s because he ran face-first into the wall in Colorado and his shoulder was screwed up. Being the superstar that he is, he’s got to be healthy, and he’s just not healthy right now.
SH: After the series loss to the San Francisco Giants, do you think the Dodgers believe that their only realistic way into the postseason at this point is through a Wild Card berth?
TS: Well, it depends if you believe what they say. They’re athletes so they’re going to pound their chest and think that they can still beat the world but the Giants play nothing but NL West teams while the Dodgers have a road trip to Washington and Cincinnati. They have a 4-game series at home against the Cardinals so they have a far tougher schedule than the Giants so I don’t think they have any shot of catching them. The wild card probably comes down to St. Louis and the Dodgers. Plus, St. Louis gets to play six games against Arizona which is like a free spot on a bingo card, so I don’t see the Dodgers participating in the playoffs this year.
SH: Joe Strauss said on Sunday that he expects the second wild card to be whoever comes out the winner in this four game series, if there is one. Do you agree that this might be kind of a do-or-die series for both teams?
TS: Well it certainly do or die for the Dodgers because of their schedule. The Dodgers have shown nothing. They are 27-27 since the All-Star break so there’s no reason to think they’ll all of a sudden get hot. Thats what everyone keeps waiting for, but even if they were to take 3 of 4 from St. Louis which I think is unlikely, you’re looking at such a long haul and with St. Louis getting a break in the schedule with the Astros, I just don’t see it happening.