I am Positive That it’s Negative

I told a buddy of mine yesterday that Scott Kazmir’s hip tightness was probably going to keep him out all season.  He said “That’s negative – you have to think positive.”  So, let me try to get over this negativity:  “I am Positive that Scott Kazmir’s hip tightness is probably going to keep him out all season.”  How’s that?

This is the same problem he had last year which led to other problems and ultimately shut him down for the season.  He allegedly embarked on an intensive off-season conditioning program… and the problem is either back or lingering.  This sounds season-ending to me. And, I’m generally a positive person. OK, scratch Kazmir, next up are McCarthy, Wood and Ryu.  I believe that a couple of those will be healthy… the big question is who?  I won’t hazard a guess.

I would think that the Dodgers will be really cautious with Ryu.  He might pitch an inning this week, two next week, but he has been out two years and it seems to me that he will have to be on a minor league rehab assignment to build arms strength when the season opens.  That leaves Wood and McCarthy as the #4 and #5 starters to open the season. They also pitched some meaningful innings last year.  Ryu hasn’t.

Before you get too nervous, they also have Urias, Stewart and Stripling.  I also  think Trevor Oaks can hold down the #5 spot, but he’s not on the 40-man roster, so if Kazmir is indeed out for the year and I say he is, there are still six pitchers battling for two spots.  If there is one pitcher who could be traded easily, it’s Alex Wood.  He is 27-30  as a major leaguer with a 3.35 ERA and is 26 years old with 77 career starts.  He is under control until 2020 and makes the MLB minimum.  If he shows hew is healthy, the O’s could use another starter as could Boston, Houston, St. Louis and the Yanks.  My choice would be to trade him for Brad Brach.  I like the pen now.  I would really like it then.

Dodger Notes

  • Seager and Ethier both have sore backs.  Make of it what you will…
  • There is speculation that since Gutierrez is playing awful that he will not make the team.  I think that is preposterous.  He already has made the team (barring injury) and the Dodgers are going to take it slow with Trayce Thompson, so it’s almost a guarantee he will start at OKC.  Now, if Franklin continues to struggle into the season, that will be an issue. There’s no free lunch forever, but there is a free lunch for him making the team out of Spring Training.
  • This from Dodger’s Nation (cursed by Plaschke – he’s almost always wrong):

The Dodgers are projected to again be one of the best teams in the NL. The Los Angeles Times‘ most famous columnist envisions something more

Plaschke said in three decades, he’s never called a team making a World Series run this early. He stopped short of doing that this time, but said if L.A. stays healthy, the 29-year streak of no World Series appearances could reach its end.

These Dodgers of March have real shot at late October http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-dodgers-plaschke-20170304-story.html 

You heard it here first: The Dodgers have a real shot at going to the World Series

You can see it in the Dodgers’ Camelback Ranch clubhouse, where cliques have been transformed into a congregation.

Plaschke quoted several players about the attitude. The team has adopted a “World Series or bust” mindset, it seems. He said the overall mentality of the team is the difference. It’s a group with the togetherness that can propel it further than previous years.

“The momentum began last fall, when all the craziness of the summer roster moves and rotation turns began to finally make sense,” Plaschke writes. “By the time the Dodgers began the playoffs, the plate appearances had become unselfish, the relief pitchers didn’t care about their roles, and everyone — witness Charlie Culberson — truly believed he could be the hero.”

He’s right. There was a clear shift mentally last year. Credit Dave Roberts, veteran leadership, the front office; it doesn’t matter, it happened. The Dodgers kept the team together, with a couple players taking less money to continue being a part of the franchise.

Logan Forsythe, Los Angeles’ top offseason acquistion, fits the culture to a tee. He is another veteran leader who was extremely well-respected in Tampa Bay. Sergio Romo is a similar case. He won three championships with the Giants and stayed with an organization that is the model of consistency – staff, player and performance-wise.

The Cubs are still the odds-on favorites, but the Dodgers are coming back with a vengeance. As Plaschke noted, health is the most important factor. But none of us should be surprised if the boys in blue finally break through.

Todays Music

Posted by Mark Timmons

I started LA Dodger Talk in 2001. I took a year off in 2016 and now I am back. This site is about giving another perspective outside of the average day-to-day reporting. I don't do game recaps or in-depth sabermetric analysis. I value sabermetrics, but leave that to people smarter than me... which is only 98% of the population. This is where you start your day as a Dodger Fan. Welcome!

This article has 33 Comments

  1. My hope this ST was that Kazmir looked great so the Dodgers could trade him for some good prospects. Even if he looked good slotting into the #4 or #5 spot in the rotation, I always felt it would be a matter of time before he got injured again – hence, better to trade him before he loses value from injury. Hopefully, this hip thing works itself out and he can still make a good showing this spring so we get trade value. I’ve also heard that Kazmir can have a NEGATIVE influence on the younger pitchers. I don’t have evidence of it but I also don’t have evidence he is a POSITIVE influence on his teammates either.

  2. I have a Toby Keith “Should Have Been a Cowboy” cap I purchased at a concert at a local fairground one summer years ago before he hit the grand stage. The fair and concert together cost $6. Those were the days. That’s still his best song. How can this team be a World Series team when the pitching is still so scattered? Right now the strength of the pitching staff is the bullpen, primarily because of the addition of Romo. I think he still has something in the tank. The starters after Kershaw are .500 type pitchers. The replacements Mark mentioned are just that. Wood has a chance because of his prior success, but the others are just guesses waiting to happen. More and more, it looks like Urias is going to have to step it up and maybe move up to #2, if he is as good as everyone says he is. I’m positive this starting pitching staff if mediocre and not world series caliber.

    1. Bobbie – I would agree with you if you were talking about the playoffs. The Dodgers currently do not have 3 pitchers who you could trust taking the mound against playoff caliber lineups.
      .
      I think the regular season is a lot different. It’s a grind and a lot of the effectiveness of the pitchers depends on the quality of our defense as well as the production in our offense. We are betting on decent run production and having a reliable bullpen. It’s reasonable then to strive to have innings eaters in the starting rotation. Sure, every pitcher outside of Kershaw is a guess, but I think they are reasonable guesses and there are more pitchers where not every guess has to go your way to come up with a good rotation. There’s always a chance that out of the basket of pitchers that the Dodgers have, one of them surprises on the upside and provides that lockdown playoff caliber starter.
      .
      Could it be that Maeda is stronger and more experienced and makes that jump? – who knows. Could it be that Urias matures enough and has his inning managed enough that he is at his best in the playoffs? – that is the goal. Could it be that Rich Hill proves that the small sample size of innings from last season is indicative of what he is capable of on a sustained basis? – that’s a reasonable bet. Could it be that one of McCarthy/Ryu/Wood gets their mojo back and pitches as well as they have in the past? – not sure I’d take that bet but it’s a possibility. Could it be that one of Stewart/Stripling/Oaks figures it out mid-season and contributes at the major league level? – another possibility Could it be that one of Buehler/Sborz/Istler/Sheffield/etc progresses faster than expected and plays like Frankie Rodriguez in the playoffs? – hey, it tends to happen on playoff teams of destiny. Could it be that the Dodgers agree with you and your concerns are spot on regarding the starters? – sure, then they pull the trigger on a trade ’cause they have the prospects and pitching surplus to get a good trade done.
      .
      My main point is this – no one knows how these “guesses” will play out. But there are enough possibilities in play where only a few things need to break our way to have a great season. There. How’s that for POSITIVITY? 😉

  3. I’m positive this starting pitching staff if mediocre and not world series caliber.

    Are you serious?

    If you look at everyone starting rotations, they all have holes. When you have the best pitcher in baseball and the best young LH pitcher in baseball, you have a nice start. I never expected Kazmir to stay in the rotation. I expected him to be traded or disabled and it looks like the later will be it.

    Wood, Ryu and McCarthy – I think at least one will be healthy and that is all we need. Lots of teams want Stewart, Stripling and Oaks as #5 prospects. Even if Kazmir, Wood, Ryu and McCarthy all blow out their arms, here is the rotation with last years ERA’s:

    1. Kershaw – 1.87
    2. Hill – 2.12 ERA
    3. Maeda – 3.48
    4. Urias – 3.39
    5. Stripling – 3.96

    Their combined ERA NUMBER (the lower the number the better) is 14.82. How many teams rotations are lower than that?

    Here is the great Cubs staff (Brett Anderson is their #6):

    1. Lester – 2.44
    2. Hendricks – 2.13
    3. Arrieta – 3.10
    4. Lackey -3.35
    5. Montgomery – 2.52
    Total – 13.54

    Here’s the questions? What are the odds the Cubs have no injuries to their starters again? What are the odds Maeda, Urias and Stripling improve? With four pitchers on the shelf (and that has not happened) our depth is still superior. BTW, guess who might be ready by June? Walker Buehler!

  4. I mostly agree with Mark’s takes here. Kazmir may be out for the season or at least out for an extended period. Do the Dodgers have insurance on his contract? He just became a long shot to trade given his contract and injury history. McCarthy could be the 5 and Urias the 4 with Wood going to the pen. Ryu will be brought along slowly, and Baez may start the season on the DL. There is an extra 40 man spot for someone to take. SVS is making a big push to make the team and get significant playing time, Kike and Taylor have a battle going for a utility spot and the bullpen has had some nice surprises so far. The final cuts will be the most interesting in years.

  5. Might the Dodgers insurance policy follow Kazmir to another team? The Dodgers wouldn’t get anything back but he would be gone if another team were willing to take a chance on him given that the insurance would pay much of his salary if he never pitches again.

  6. This is a classic case of SIGHT verses VISION.

    In 2008, my SIGHT showed me a sometimes struggling LH who put up a 5 -5 record with a 4.24 ERA.

    That very same year, my VISION was that he would be the Greatest LH Dodger pitcher of all time. Clayton Kershaw. I took a lot of flack for saying that. Kind of like I took flack for saying that Adrian Beltre would be a HOF third baseman or that the Dodgers would rue the day they traded for Carl Crawfish.

    My VISION now tells me that Julio Urias will be mentioned in the TOP 3 Dodgers Lefthanders of All Time… and he has to pass a fellow countryman to get there.

    This kid will be great – THIS YEAR!

    In 2016, Julio Urias struggled less than Clayton did as a rookie – that’s what my SIGHT told me.

    1. Mark

      I agree with you about Urias.

      And I have heard one former major league pitchers say, that Urias actually has better stuff, then Kershaw.

      Of course he didn’t say Urias was a better pitcher, he mainly, was talking about Urias’ stuff.

      And John Stoltz likes Urias a lot too.

      I think Urias may be the pitcher, that gets us farther, into the post season.

      They had an article in Fangraphs, I believe on March 3, that was about Kershaw.

      And it was about how Kershaw never throws anything but his fastball, when he is behind on the count.

      And that has been Kershaw’s problem, in the post season too.

      Maybe the Cardinals were not stealing, any signs.

      Maybe it is because Kershaw will predictable throw a fastball, anytime he is behind on the count, or having any trouble.

      Maybe in the regular season it doesn’t stand out as much, because Kershaw has great control, so he isn’t behind on the count often.

      He does have that crazy strike out, to walk ratio.

        1. Because he called a game differently in the playoffs than he did in the regular season? I disagree.

  7. Mark:
    Somewhere I read Urias tied for the NL lead in pickoffs. Can that be true? Is there a site which shows the pickoff leaders last year?

    1. IIRC,
      I remember it being said during the playoffs that Urias’ six pick offs lead the majors last year.
      I’m not enough of a stat geek to know when to look it up to confirm and my ‘Google’ skills haven’t provided the answer

    2. If you go to MLB.com under advanced pitching stats, you will find that Julio Urias was #1 in all of baseball with 6 pickoffs. He faced 336 batters. Johnny Cueto was second with 5 and he faced 881 batters.

  8. We don’t know what’s wrong with Kazmir’s hip yet. Unless it’s a structural problem (ie. a problem with the hip socket) then it shouldn’t end his season, although I’m troubled that the Dodgers’ crack medical staff of chiropractors and acupuncturists (!) couldn’t solve this problem, which has apparently been around since last year.

    On the issue of the quality of the Dodgers’ rotation, I suggest that the potential problem is the same that has plagued the team for the past few years – quantity pitching (AKA “depth”) vs. quality pitching. The only guy that I feel certain will be able to compete in any big game is Kershaw. Hill is good when he’s available but I have no confidence that he will be. Let’s face it – he’s 37, pitched 110 innings last year (his 2nd most ever!) and was on the DL for several months with groin and blister problems. And the Dodgers haven’t been too lucky with injury-prone pitchers the past few year.

    Urias might be really good – but we don’t know yet what he’ll do with a full season of major league ball. As Mark has pointed out above, even Kershaw had to grow into the job. I suspect that Maeda will be solid but not great.

    After that we have lots of question marks – Wood, McCarthy, Ryu, Stripling, Stewart and a cast of 1000’s. I have no confidence that either McCarthy or Ryu will be up for the job. Wood maybe; Stripling has the stuff of a 4th or 5th starter and might be OK. I haven’t seen Stewart yet.

    So notwithstanding Mark’s new way of evaluating a pitching staff (add up their ERA’s), I would take the Cubs’ or Giants’ staff, at least 1 – 4, over the Dodgers right now, and certainly in the post-season, the Dodgers’ staff didn’t get it done last year against the Cubs.

    As to all-time Dodger lefties:
    Koufax
    Kershaw
    Valenzuela
    Podres
    Osteen
    Preacher Roe

    I would add great relievers – Perranoski, Brewer

    1. In defense of Hill, he has been a reliever for quite some time until recently. He did not have to pitch many innings.

      Another way to look at it is that he don’t have too many miles on his arm and since hooking up with Clayton, he is in the best shape of his life. I look for him to throw 150-160 innings.

      I mentioned earlier that Clayton had a 4.24 ERA his first season and Urias had a 3.39 ERA his first year. What did Clayton do his second year? 2.79 and he went from 107 IP to 170 IP. I look for Urias to duplicate those numbers.

      By the time it is over, Kershaw will be the #1 Dodger Pitcher of all time, but no one will ever repeat those 5 magical years Koufax had from 1962 to 1966!

  9. Koufax gets the nod of Kershaw… for now. Kershaw has to dominate in the post season to surpass Koufax. Kershaw did have that great series against the Nationals, ending on a relief appearance after Kenly went 50 pitches in game 5. Kershaw getting Daniel Murphy on the pop up to 2b will be one of my all time favorite memories. It wasn’t even the third out. But we all knew Kershaw won the game and a hard fought series for us when that happened.
    .
    Urias has great stuff, at a younger age than Kershaw, but he hasn’t proven anything yet. Only if he has a solid season (~3.5 ERA, 160+ innings) and can show us an extra gear in post-season and dominate, then I think he’s right there in the conversation. That’s too much to expect for the 20 year old. But it’s fun the think of the potential.

    1. Knight

      I thought what Kenley did in that game, was even harder, since he has never pitched that many innings, before.

      I agree that Kershaw won’t be Koufax, until he solves his post season, problem.

    1. That’s good news. I believe this hip thing is going to be a chronic condition for Kazmir. Hopefully, he can hold it together and string enough good starts together to bump is trade value… Again, the best thing would be to trade this guy because he is at risk of re-injuring himself at any time and the Dodgers have other stronger horses to bet on for the rotation.

    2. I played a lot of tennis, basketball and baseball in my teens through my mid-forties. In my late twenties, I started having issues with my right hip where if I played a couple of games of basketball back-to-back, my right hip hurt the next day, was weak and stiff. It would go away a day or two later. I played A-League softball until I was 55 and didn’t retire because I had to – I retired because I thought it was time. At age 56, suddenly, my right hip started hurting every day – all day. When they took an X-ray, they determined I had no cartilage left – thus hip replacement.

      Over the years, I had many X-Rays and MRI’s on my hip and they found nothing… but there was “something.” I don’t think Kaz is going to magically get better after an off-season of rest, treatment and strengthening. Just my opinion, but it is somewhat informed.

  10. I am just going to assume that Kershaw/Hill/Maeda stay healthy the entire year, and we can shuffle around the Brady Bunch in the 4/5 slots, McCarthy/Wood/Kazmir/Stripling/Stewart are stocking stuffers, none in which I envision pitching in the playoffs or for a long stretch this season, with the exception of Ryu pitching in the playoffs but boy is that a stretch of the imagination (Mark, I’m trying!)

    That leaves Urias, stud potential, if we only knew how he will be used with his innings count, has anyone heard anything?

    Essentially, losing Kazmir, if we do, means absolutely nothing to me. If he comes back, means absolutely nothing to me. I consider him part of the Brady Bunch at the back end where many of our depth starters could start instead with similar outcomes

    If Kershaw, Hill, Maeda or Urias goes down, then sound the alarm.

  11. On Clayton second season, he pitched 171 innings. I expect something close to that by Urias.

  12. Here’s the plan: Use 8-10 starters to get through the season. When the playoffs hit, it will be Kershaw, Urias, Hill and Maeda, but watch out for Walker Buehler. Stripling and Stewart and two pitchers lots of teams want. I like our depth and every baseball commentator that I have heard refer to the Dodgers Starting Pitching depth as “amazing” or “incredible.”

    Richard Justice (one of the most respected MLB columnists wrote this:

    Los Angeles may have baseball’s deepest rotation and an everyday lineup that gives manager Dave Roberts all sorts of options. This flexibility is the byproduct of a season in which the Dodgers overcame a ridiculous number of injuries to get back to the playoffs and push the Cubs to Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

    This starting rotation is deep and good. The Cubs are good. The Giants are good. But they are not deep. That’s what got us where we were last year – depth! If Lackey or Lester or (GOD Forbid) both go down, the cubs are screwed. Same with the Giants. Clayton had never been hurt, then BANG! It happens every year to several teams.

  13. I’m with you Mark, I was and still am convinced they might have been showcasing Kazmir for an early trade, bundled up with some other guys. The guy just can’t stay healthy, but like I have said here before, I am a converted FAZ believer, and something tells me they might be ok with whoever makes the rotation coming out of spring training, but also knowing that isn’t going to be the same guys by play-off time. I think this is THE year they finally pull the trigger at the July 31 deadline and get that one stud starter with play off seasoning that will get us over the hump. Look at all the prospects you guys keep talking about, plus all of the experienced guys they have to stash at OKC. We have so much depth with minor and major league experienced players, we can make a deal with just about every team out there that we want to. I think FAZ believes that the guys we have now can keep us close by midseason, then they will break out the big guns and step up to the table with prospects, money, some of our major league talent, or a package deal.. Either way, it’s a positive all the way around.

  14. It will depend upon how the Dodgers are doing and their young pitchers are doing and it will depend upon who falls out of the races. For example, let’s say Sonny Gray comes back to his All-Star status (I have no idea if he will or not) and the A’s are out of it. I could see the Dodgers package Alvarez and Calhoun for Gray at the the trade deadline.

    How dis?

    1. Kershaw
    2. Healthy Gray
    3. Hill
    4. Urias
    5. Stewart, Ryu, McCarthy, Stripling, Wood, Flavor of the week.

    Alvarez is high risk… and high reward, but we have a lot of those too.

    1. Ok, that totally works for me around September. The Cubs beat us with a solid rotation. I don’t think FAZ is going to let that happen again. Always dug Sonny Gray, good choice.

  15. Sonny Gray had shoulder trouble last year – always scary.

    On 3/6, he gave up 7 runs on 5 hits, 4 walks and 3 wild pitches. Is he OK?

    I’ve seen him pitch – he’s not that overpowering – he’s OK if healthy but I don’t want another injured pitcher for the Dodgers.

    And Buehler – really? He’s pitched 5 minor league innings and he’s going to be up this year?

    1. Really!

      Before the 2015 draft, Buehler was thought by many scouts to be the first to the majors. Then he had TJ and he’s over 20 months removed from surgery. He’s taller 6′ 2″ and 25 pounds heavier and has purely filthy stuff.

      Will he be up this year?

      I don’t know, but he won’t be down long. He’s a man among boys. He’ll soon be 23 and I think he has a shot! This year! I said Urias was ready last year and lots of people disagreed. 3.39 ERA!

    2. Ok, let’s think about three or four moves ahead Dodgerrick. Do you really feel like the rotation that breaks camp outside of Kershaw, Hill and Meada will be the same one in September? (Yeah, I know Urias is the wild card, I’m talking about a trade outside of the organization) Especially with all the spare parts we have? Who do you see us getting?

      1. I really have no idea whether the Dodgers will make a move for a starter who can make a difference in the post-season or not. Hill might have been a difference maker but really wasn’t. They haven’t traded for a difference maker at the deadline – maybe since Manny!

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