Reason to Believe…

Let’s just assume for a minute that the Dodgers are done.  I mean done with deals this off-sesaon.  No more acquisitions, trades or free agent signings.  It’s over.  This is the team with which they will start the season. Should we afraid or should we be excited?  I guess it depends upon your perspective.  Are a “glass half full person” or a “glass half empty” person?  Before you answer that, let me ask a question “Do you think young players get better with experience and maturity?”

  1. Joc Pederson is 24 years old.  He has hit 51 HR before he is 25.  Yes, a number of players have done that, but not too many.  Is it possible that Joc gets better with another year under his belt?  I think so.  He a good kid from a strong family and is a hard worker. I think he will be better and some Bum wants him to hit higher in the lineup… how about leadoff?  That would be interesting…
  2. Can Corey Seager get any better or will he be a sophomore jinx candidate?  He was extremely good last year and I expect improvement again this year.  He’s special.
  3. We saw a glimpse of Andrew Toles last year and most liked what they saw, although it was a small sampling.  Can he improve incrementally this year?  Maybe…
  4. Trayce Thompson hit 13 HR in 262 AB’s and then suffered a broken back.  It was not as bad as it sounded, but he missed considerable time and is still rehabbing.  He’s an athlete and almost 26 years old.  He could be a nice player, but it’s early and he has to show that he can do it.  I have reason to believe that he can.  But will he?
  5. Next is the enigma by the name of Yasiel Puig.  This dude has the ability to be one of the best players in baseball but he can also crash and burn.  There might not be any middle ground.  FAZ appears to be giving him every opportunity to realize that potential.  I hope he can.  I believe he can, but I fear he is too big of a knucklehead and I really wish I am wrong!  I would love to see Puig reach his potential and feed me huge helping of crow.
  6. A guy I do believe will get better is Yasmani Grandal.  He is 28 and in his prime.  He’s a hard worker and well respected.  I think he will improve in 2017.  Just my opinion, but I have been right about him so far.
  7. Then there are Andre Ethier, Scott Van Slyke and Kike Hernandez – all three were not even factors last year – I think they will be this year… at least one or two will.
  8. We are finally going to see what Austin Barnes can do.  He will be a great backup catcher.  He is very, very good behind the plate, but I’ll tell you this:  He might be the best second baseman on the team right now.  Find another backup catcher and he might solve the problem at 2B.  He has an excellent eye at the plate and could be a high OB% leadoff hitter.  I am not kidding, I like Barnes a lot! We could do a lot worse than Barnes.
  9. Here’s something to think about:  Justin Turner and Adrian Gonzalez?  Can they play at a high level?  They have to, especially Justin.  Adrian is older and in decline, but maybe he can evade father time another year.
  10. Then, there is Clayton Kershaw…
  11. Finally, there will be some surprises… probably among the pitching staff.  Who will step up?  There are lots of candidates and that is one of the main reasons I believe in the advancement of the Dodgers in 2017.  Who do you think will be the surprise of 2017?

Posted by Mark Timmons

We started LA Dodger Talk in 2001. This site is about giving another perspective outside of the average day-to-day reporting. We don’t do game recaps or such things — lots of sites do that well. I value sabermetrics, but don’t think they are the “end-all-be-all.”. This is where you should start your day as a Dodger Fan. Welcome! We’d like to hear your voice.

This article has 47 Comments

  1. I’m surprised there is not more talk about Baez for second base. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs recently suggested that the best fit on paper might be Javier Baez but says the problem with that is the Cubs need a 5th starter and the Dodgers need a second baseman and neither team wants to solve a problem for the other as they might be meeting in the playoffs for many years.

    I like Baez mostly for his defense with hopes that Ward would be able to improve approach to hitting. He has power but that comes from a huge swing.

    The Dodgers need to improve their ability to turn the double play and Baez would do that. Pitching and defense wins games and the Dodgers would have a good balance of defense and offense with a double play combination of Baez and Seager.

    / = platoon

    Pederson
    Puig
    Seager
    Turner
    Gonzales/SVS
    Ethier/Thompson
    Grandal/Barnes
    Baez

  2. I think we all loved having Koufax and Drysdale as lefty righty co-aces. Kershaw and Greinke gave the Dodgers that for a couple of years but Kershaw is alone now and not complimented with a righty co-ace. I can see Urias and Alvarez giving the Dodgers a lefty righty co-ace again.

    If McCarthy, Kazmir, and Ryu surprise us and are healthy to start the season I would think Urias will start the season in OK where the Dodgers would try to keep his pitch count down so he can finish the season strong in LA. The Dodgers could be in a great trade situation if those two or those three are healthy when the season begins.

    1. Barring injury, I cannot see any way Urias is not in the rotation. I would expect the Dodgers to utilize the Disabled List for Urias this season. Under Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers are one of just three teams to implement a new system known as “The Profiler” which uses data to “anticipate injuries or downturns in performances.”

      Friedman has used the new Profiler system to help predict future injuries as well as dips in the performance of his players. His philosophy is simple: if your performance on the field is in decline, than a move to the disabled list should be in the works. The best example of Friedman’s philosophy of injuries and his usage of the disabled list comes under the guise of rookie right-hander Ross Stripling. Stripling was named the Dodgers’ fifth starter to start the season, but after back-to-back bad outings in the middle of May, he was sent to the minor league disabled list with “lower body fatigue.”

      Stripling was asked about his “lower body fatigue,” by SportsNetLA reporter Alanna Rizzo on July 24, after his return to the big leagues and his response was telling:

      “Lower Body Fatigue is a fancy way of saying I had an innings limit,” Stripling said candidly. “I needed to work on some things.

      Source: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Dodgers-Injuries-Heres-Why-LA-has-so-Many-Hurt-Players-389356482.html

  3. Mark, looking forward to being able to add white space to comments with double spaced paragraphs. I assume edits are coming as well.

    Glad to see AlwaysComplete in here.

    1. I’m trying to fix that. I hate asking our webmaster at US Water Systems for help, but I may have too. I’m kind of dangerous on this.

  4. I think Pederson can get incrementally better. The way he swings the bat, looping and long, is not conducive to a high BA. I see him plateau out at about .270. If he gets his at bats, he could regularly hit 30 HRs. He is ok, so long as other pieces fit together. What happened to his base running? He should focus on that part of his game, maybe more than the others. I think Ethier will have a solid year, assuming his leg is ok. I see him getting the starting nod in LF over Toles. Toles and he will be an interesting competition in the spring. We all have to lower our sights on Puig: .260; 20; 70. Assuming he plays and is not hamstringing it. I think we have too many .260, 70 rbi guys. We need some POP, and Seager probably will be the guy. This team will be defined by its starting pitching; it has no chance of beating the giants unless we have 3 solid starters who can take the ball every 5 days and 2 other starters that can pitch at .500. If the bullpen is under pressure like last year, I don’t see us winning the division.

    1. I am looking forward to having Bellinger, Seager and a couple of RH power bats someday.

      There is a lot to be decided. Last year, a lot went wrong and we still won. This year, I see more health and good breaks. It’s just the law of averages.

      1. I’m looking forward to having Seager, Pederson, and Bellinger playing together. The three complimentary righty swingers are not as obvious but Puig might be one. Turner is too old so that leaves LF and 2B and maybe C to find and put those righty hitters.
        Good thing I have fingers to help me with the math.

    2. Last year Joc needed to be better with BARISP but against righties his OPS was outstanding. Some of that lower BARISP might have been due to him not having any protection because he was hitting 8th and part of it was not consistently altering his swing to enable him go with the pitch.

      I too think Joc will be a better hitter and hopefully will play against lefties. The Dodgers need his defense in CF all the time. I like Puig in the #2 spot and spend little to no time in the 4, 5, 6 spots.

  5. Another reason to believe:

    Doug Padilla writes about how the Dodgers may manage Hill, Maeda and Urias this season:

    http://www.espn.com/blog/los-angeles/dodger-report/post/_/id/22375/how-can-the-dodgers-get-the-most-out-of-rich-hill

    This part is telling:
    Judging by how the Dodgers played it so safe with Hill last season, even removing him after seven innings of a perfect game on Sept. 10 at Miami, it figures they will take further steps to protect him in 2017.

    Less of a wonder for the club is the determination Hill has to succeed, something the Dodgers witnessed up close and personal over the final two months of 2016.

    “You know Clayton Kershaw and his intensity and how he prepares; Rich mirrors that,” Roberts said. “When you get guys that lead your rotation like that, then it’s contagious. We’re very fortunate.”

  6. Puig showed he can play LF when he made that perfect game saving catch when Hill was pitching last year. I think LF is Thompson’s best position. Ethier, Toles, and SVS are better in RF. Again, the outfield is crowded and Verdugo is on deck. Solved with a trade or a few playing in OK that are good enough to play in LA?

  7. Calhoun, Grandal, Pederson, Seager, Bellinger, Verdugo, Toles, Gonzalez, Rios, Hansen and Ethier are all LH.

    Something has to give… We do not have much RH power which is the appeal of Dozier and Braun.

    Turner, Puig and Thompson and maybe SVS are the only RH power threats we have.

    Calhoun, Verdugo, Rios and Hansen are all trade bait. If Gonzo and Ethier were tradable they would be gone. Lack of RH power options is the prime directive.

    1. You mean Grandal sometime bats LH. I’d say Barns should be more than a backup backstop if Grandal threw LH.

        1. Yes. He never batted RH vs RHP. I understand a righthander having more power batting LH, but through the lens of me (my only real reference by feel) I have it a hard guess LH could be more accurate. I know I couldn’t be. After my strokes my left side is no longer my power side other than me wrongly believing the old power is still with me. Guess I went to the dark side of the force.

  8. It’s not like Buster Olney is the great expert, but he has good takes, agree or disagree.
    He lists his TOP 10.
    Here’s where the Dodgers land:
    Starting Pitchers
    #1 Clayton Kershaw
    Relievers
    #3 Kenley Jansen (Chapman is #4)
    Firstbaseman
    #8 Adrian Gonzalez
    Second Basemen
    Forget about it
    Shortstop
    #2 Corey Seager (Lindor is not better)
    Third Basemen
    #8 Justin Turner
    Left Field
    Forgetaboutit!
    Center Field
    Joc Pederson was Honorable Mention
    Right Field
    Josh Reddick was Honorable Mention
    Catcher
    #4 Yasmani Grandal
    Rotations
    #8 Dodgers
    Bullpens
    #5 Dodgers
    Lineups
    Honorable Mention Dodgers (which is why we need a RH Bat)
    Defenses
    Honarable Mention Dodgers
    Teams
    #5 Dodgers

    1. Thank you for asking Mark. I think my health is improving but I’m still not in my own private place and I should just say I’m outta my element and will be until I’m in my own place. At that point I’ll be king and the world is my element – my small world. Two more weeks.

    1. Good news is right!

      Bad news: Pagano is staying. He is beyond dumb!

      The owner must be on drugs…
      Oh, wait!

      Well, it’s progress! I guess.

    1. Why would Pittsburgh trade Cutch for a guy 5 years older who makes more? They would want younger players… prospects. I would love to have McCutchen and Harrison. Here’s what it would take:
      De Leon
      Verdugo
      Calhoun
      Alvarez

  9. In spring training teams will see if kazmir, Ryu, and McCarthy are healthy. With other teams having injuries and the dodgers a surplus one of these pitchers MiGHT be movable. I believe Wood should have trade value if healthy. The rotation should be kershaw, hill, Urias, maeda, and one of the previous 4 mentioned. Urias could begin at triple aaa but I think that would be a waste, maybe use him as fifth starter to save innings. I would give Deleon and Calhoun for dozier and no more. If no trade I would try Barnes, Taylor, and/or a platoon with kike. I wouldn’t be afraid to trade Gonzalez if the right deal came up.

  10. Ok Mark, let’s pick your brain. Two things I want your thoughts on. What are we seriously doing about a legit shutdown set up guy in the 8th, and do you think by platooning so much, which we do alot, is it holding guys back from getting in the groove? (Joc, Puig, whoever plays second base). sometimes the line-ups we throw out there in the name of lefty righty matchups is ridiculous.

    1. I think a shutdown guy is on the roster. Pick one: De Leon, Baez, Buehler, Stewart, McCarthy, Dayton, Liberatore. They all have a shot.

      I have mixed feelings about platooning. I see your point. I also see the other side…

  11. Hopefully we could pick up holland for setup man but it would be risky. He wants more than one year supposedly and we all know how that worked out with Wilson. McCarthy is an interesting thought. If he doesn’t make the rotation and is untradeable I would see if he could handle a relief role. Not ideal as he is overpaid for that role but I would try it before I would designate him and get nothing. His stuff could play up out of the pen. I am not mark but if you play a guy like ethier you have to platoon. The plus side is you rest guys and your bench is utilized over the course of the season. In a short series though you risk some of your best hitters out of the lineup much like the dh. But if your platoon is very strong on both sides it makes it tough for the opponent. Joe madden says it makes a team harder to matchup with. Specialty relievers out of a deep bullpen could hurt platoons.

  12. Mark, thanks for the welcome. I am a passionate dodger fan unconditionally but will get frustrated. However, I never waver in support of the dodgers. Had a chance to see cubs dodgers playoff game in which maeda threw me a baseball. If Kendrick doesn’t misplay the flyball in the first dodgers could have swept. That turning point and Gonzalez safe but called out at home changed the series.

  13. Many consider me a glass half empty person, except when it comes to the Dodgers and Trojans. In those situations, the glass is always full full. I do think there will be trades, maybe not before ST, but certainly before the Game 1. There has to be, at least to thin out some of the surplus areas on the roster and in the pipeline. I expect FAZ to continue to hold firm and not overpay for Dozier or Braun (although both are needed). But I would also hope that they can become more creative and continue to find a way to improve the 2B and RH bat. Sure, the Dodgers can start Kike’/Taylor/Culberson/or Barnes at 2B, but IMO none of those would be better than Dozier/Kinsler/Forsythe. Of the current choices, my preference would be Taylor, but that’s me being partial to underdogs. I am not an advocate for any trade for Jurickson Profar.

    The Dodgers can trot out Toles/Thompson as a LF platoon, but again that would not be as lethal as Braun. Puig may be a better defensive OF with a better arm and range (even if he does overplay his position), but I cannot see him putting up better offensive numbers.

    The Dodgers have an unbalanced roster, and it does need at least some tweaking. They have too many utility players (Kike’/Taylor/Culberson), a clone in SVS and Ruf, too many ML or ML ready starters, too many relievers. I am partial to the Dodgers farm, but sometimes you have to thin out the trees to keep the forest healthy. Not counting the obvious (Kershaw or Hill) the Dodgers cannot have all of Maeda/Urias/De Leon/Stewart/Stripling/Wood/De Jong/Oaks/Buehler/Frias on the 25 man this year and/or next year. I recognize that Buehler and Oaks are not on the 40 man, but neither were Urias/De Leon/Stewart last year. This does not count Kazmir/McCarthy/Ryu. Stripling and Wood probably wind up in the bullpen, but while that partially lessens the starting logjam, it increases the logjam for relievers. I have no problem with the number of LH bats on the immediate perimeter (Bellinger/Verdugo/Calhoun), because there are significantly more RHSP than LHSP. I am also not convinced that they will not be able to hit LHP if they play regularly. However Rios and Hansen may be luxuries that can be used as key additions in trades to re-balance the 25 man; and I am a huge Mitch Hansen fan. If the Dodgers cannot put anything together to get the 2B or RH bat, then some get moved for more prospects at the lower levels.

    Now as far as surprises, it is easy to pick Seager/Kershaw/AGon/JT/or even Joc/Grandal/Kenley. But if I am going to pick a surprise then I am going to step out. I am looking for either Josh Ravin or Chris Hatcher to put a good year together to be a key reliever this year. Both have had spurts where they were very good, but there were more times that they were very bad. Neither have consistent command, but they both have good tools with multiple plus pitches. Now that would be an unexpected surprise that could put LAD over the top. But if they do not (and the chances are that they will not), then there are a whole host of others ready to step up.

  14. Always compete I would also like to see hatcher and ravin step up with both having plus stuff. However I think both could help more in middle relief where there is less pressure and the hitters are a little more open to a wider strike zone. Late in the game hitters are more focused and selective which exposes their lack of command. I would ease them into any high leverage role when their confidence and command improve.

  15. Sorry if I am jumping in but I would trade Deleon, Kiki, and Taylor for Baez. Baez is an acrobat on defense and made tremendous progress on offense. He would be a much better player to get than dozier long term. No way cubs deal him though and especially to the dodgers.

  16. JDL,Stewart, Buhler out of these three do you think the Dodgers would talk to the cubs about Baez. I don’t think so drop the subject. Keep what we got and wait tell after spring training.

    1. I hate to think about losing any of the three. The guy I would consider trading is Alvarez just because he is further away and a bigger risk.

      But I don’t even like to think about that…

  17. What is wrong with these Major League ball players from the Dominican or Venezuela they go home with all this money and don’t know maturity.

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