It’s a Start!

Anytime the season starts with a Giant loss, especially a fantastic bullpen meltdown and a Dodger win, It’s all good! Obviously, there is a long way to go, but you might as well get off to a good start against the AAAA Little Sisters of the Poor.  I think Clayton Kershaw makes more than the whole team… and it’s easy to see why! Seven straight Opening Day wins!

Joc Pederson seized the day by hitting a Grand Slam on a pitch he would have missed last year.  I see incremental growth for young Joc – I have already predicted 40 HR for him and I think he might hit near .250. That would be very beneficial to the offense.

Yasmani Grandal homered from both sides of the plate – he’s on pace for 324 HR, but I see 40 and I also see improved BA.  Joc and Yasmani are coming into their prime and the Dodgers should reap the benefits. Yasmani is lighter and visibly quicker.  He has worked with Steve Yeager on his pitch blocking and he wants to be an everyday player – I’d say he is on his way.  If he can get close to 500 AB’s he will hit close to 40 HR.

So many fans look at “what was” – I try and see “what can be.”  Past performance is no guarantee of future prospects.  I was never a big believer in Joc, but I have been a fan of Yasmani since his Cincinnati days.  I have always predicted good things for him.  I think this is the year people have to acknowledge how good he really has become.

Pedro Baez allegedly hit triple digits in a minor league game last week.  They are working to speed him up and if that works, they might really have something.  Let’s not forget that he has a career ERA of 3.08 and I think his HR aberration last year was just that.  Chris Hatchet had better be watching over his shoulder…

To those who think the Dodger Bullpen will not be as good as last year, I have this to say:  Yes it will… maybe better.  Because they now have the horses to make some deals, like Alex Wood for Brad Brach.

It was great to see Wally Moon on Opening Day.   Remember the Moon Shots?

Today’s 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 38 Comments

  1. Well, my predictions weren’t all that!
    Joc to struggle, and Grandal to
    Improve his BA at the expense of his power!
    What a great start, much like last year. I have to say that it’s gonna be a long season in SD. I’ve got them down for 40 wins at best.
    Biggest shame of the night was not hearing Vin’s voice.

  2. Joc’s grand slam was awesome but it overshadowed his sacrifice fly ball to tie the game in the second inning. That fly ball was the first opportunity for the Dodgers to be successful with RISP that was so often missed last year. His grand slam was a tough pitch to make contact on as it was up and in to a lefty swinger plus he didn’t hook it foul. I thought he had another home run to left field which was good to see him hit to the opposite field.
    .
    I think Maeda will pitch very well today.

    1. Bum

      I didn’t miss his sac fly.

      I was as happy about his sac fly, almost as much as his HR.

      Because he has had trouble in the past, in those situations, so that showed me a lot.

      The name of Joc’s game so far this year, is patience, and not over swinging.

  3. What a way to open the season! Seager showed he was ready after all. Forsythe, Grandal and Turner have been locked in all spring. Joc and Puig make the lineup long and dangerous at the bottom. This game the long ball ruled but hopefully they can also grind out at bats in close games. Last years team could also come from behind under Roberts unlike the Mattingly teams.

    Kershaw was as expected, the real test is the other 4 starters. We will know a lot more after all get a turn through the rotation. Ryu is getting extra rest from his last spring start, that will continue and is probably prudent. McCarthy will eat innings but is the weakest link until Urias is ready. Maeda and Hill should be consistently good in the 2 and 3 spots.

    The bullpen is still in flux, hard to complain when 14 runs are put up but who will take the ball in high leverage situations as the bridge to Jansen? Who will get lit up and get pulled early with the 2 swing men able to pitch multiple innings? If no one does will Stripling and Wood be used like Blanton was? Baez hitting 100 and speeding up his delivery is welcome news. A real off speed pitch would be even better news.

    A lot was made of the final roster cuts but that is really tinkering around the edges. Kike, SVS and Hatcher will get their chances but are not expected to carry this team only supplement the core players. In Roberts I trust!

    1. Vegas

      That was one of the front office’s best moves, not keeping Mattingly!

      Not only did the team come back more, then when Mattingly was the manager, they had the most comeback wins, in all of baseball, last year.

      I like all the new young coaches, because they are eager to do there jobs, and they all work well as a team, with Roberts.

      And the players can identify with them better, since they are closer in age.

  4. What a great start indeed. With you Watford on Vin, I caught the ESPN broadcast so I did not catch a glimpse of our new voice(s), tonight I will on MLB.TV, much to live up too.

    Next guys up, Maeda, Hill, McCarthy, would be nice to see these guys take advantage of the Padres, ironically, if Ryu really is healthy, he is the least of my worries from the 2-5 guys but is dealt a bad hand to start, @CO, @CUBS.

    Here we go.

  5. When Wally showed up, I immediatly called a friend in Va. and we talked and laughed looking back…The Chinese Curtain and Booger’s (Moon) crazy inside out swing… What a tragedy of a venue, but easy to sneak into… Waiting at the tunnel for the players to walk up the hill and scrambling for autographs…Damn I’m old!!!

    1. Don’t feel like the Lone Ranger, Peter. I remember my dad taking me to the Coliseum in ’58, walking through the tunnel, and seeing a real baseball field for the first time. It was magical. It was a night game and Duke Snider trotted past us along the first baseline and he was huffin’ and puffin’. Wally Moon…the original uni-brow.

  6. Kershaw just served notice to the rest of the league on opening day.
    .
    He has a changeup. And it’s pretty good. It’s not quite up to his standard – where he’s at with his fastball, slider and curve. But it was good enough to fool batters on opening day. And you know Kershaw will work maniacally to perfect that pitch.
    .
    Just one more thing for hitters to think about when they stand in the box against the best pitcher in baseball.

    1. Kershaw with a change is a scary thought for the rest of the league. I have long thought, the change is the most devastating pitch in MLB.

      1. Boxout

        I wish Kershaw would throw something other then his fastball, when he is behind, on his count.

        I think that would make him a better pitcher, in the post season.

        He doesn’t often, throw other then a fastball, when he is done on the count.

        Most of the times in the post season, when Kershaw got hit, he would toss fastball after fastball, at the hitters.

        He needs to learn how to change it up, and throw his other pitches, when he is behind on the count, to keep the hitters guessing.

  7. Wally Moon made an appearance at Glendale in ST. Nice tribute then and yesterday. Today, I shower praise on Justin Turner. He is one of the most feared hitters in baseball. The ball looks like a beach ball to him. He is the most productive hitter in the lineup and is one of those “late bloomers.” I see him in the MVP balloting, if he can stay on the field. Counting Turner as “homegrown”, yesterday’s lineup had 6 homegrown Dodgers starting. Very nice. And more on the way. DeJong was called up by Seattle yesterday to fill in. Keep an eye on him. The Pederson shuffle is working for now, so why change it? Seager is a natural. Period. Go D’backs.

      1. Bobbie17

        Turner didn’t become the baseball player he is today, until he joined the team, so I consider him, as our home grown guy, too!

  8. MJ, Mattingly really resented what he felt was interference from Faz on lineups and other roster decisions, while Roberts seems to embrace it. The true 40 man roster emerged last year to good results and now Faz has let Roberts have the team he prefers, and the guys he wants to go to battle with. The effect he and his coaches have on the players is pretty obvious too, and younger guys in the minors know they are a phone call away.

    1. Vegas

      I don’t buy that about Mattingly, and the front office.

      Because actually Mattingly wanted a contract extension, from the current front office.

      They wouldn’t give him beyond the one year, he had left, on his contract.

      And he had heard his buddy the owner of the Marlins, wanted him, so he went there.

      I hear that about Mattingly, and this isn’t personal to you, but what was Mattingly’s excuse, before the current front office, was here?

      He only worked under this front office, for one year!

  9. On Mattingly:

    I recently confirmed what I had always suspected:
    1. Friedman’s deal included keeping Donnie for at least a year.
    2. Friedman used to give Maddon lots of input like he did Mattingly and does with Doc.
    3. Mattingly did not appreciate it.
    4. Maddon would likely have followed Friedman to LA if not for Mattingly.
    5. Friedman and Maddon remain VERY close friends.

    But it all worked out – we got Doc!

    I must confess that I went to the old web site today and read the comments. All I can say is WOW! I was so depressed by the time I was done reading. I guess some people like that… I can’t do it. If it’s not fun, why do it?

      1. I was so PO’d when they traded Pedro for Tudor. Tudor sucked for us and then went back to be a bullpen piece for St. Louis. Pete and Derrel Thomas were my favorite non-pitchers in the 80’s.

    1. Ironically, I did the same. Hadn’t been there in a long time and turned it off before I even got all the way through. I did notice Boxout was there and he is as funny as ever trying to help them see even a little bit of light…ain’t gonna happen Boxout.

  10. I agree about the other blog. It is negative. How can you not like what happened yesterday. Grandal hits two home runs and someone says he is no good.

    Maeda looks bigger and stronger than last year. I think he will have a good year.

    I certainly agree with your thoughts on Mattingly. I like our manager and coaches. I used to complain about Honeycutt, but no more. All the guys who were signed this year wanted to come back. That says a lot to me. I thought Utley was a wasted signing, but the players wanted him. One thing I appreciate about FAZ, is that he is listening to his manager and players.

  11. I predicted 33 HR for Joc because I was not sure how many LHP he would be facing, and for those he did, how would he fare. But he is certainly capable of 40 HR. Like Bums, I was more impressed with his Sac Fly and long flyout to the left side. That is the growth, pitch recognition, and patience that Joc is continually working on. Leave him alone, and continue to provide confidence by letting him hit against and fail against LHP. He will eventually succeed, and the team will only thrive on that success. I saw a MLB Tonight segment on Sean Casey and Jim Thome. Neither were platoon players and both admitted that they were terrible against LHP when they first came up. Doc Roberts is the perfect manager for Joc to keep his confidence up, and Turner Ward will help him more with mentoring and pitch recognition, and guessing what the pitcher will pitch in any situation.
    .
    Yesterday there was a comment about hoping not to see Joc and his off balance whirly bird swing with helmet flying. Make no mistake, we will see that swing. Joc is a power hitter who swings hard and will look foolish if he guesses wrong. Leave the swing alone, mentor about pitch recognition, and keep his confidence up, We are going to see that a lot with Bellinger as well. We still see a fair amount of it with Seager. Swing hard – guess wrong – s happens.
    .
    Grandal will continue to grow as a catcher, and work on making more contact. He will still hit with power. I think Grandal is a prime candidate for contract extension talks. While Grandal is not in the Yadier Molina level, he is much younger. The Cards extended Molina for three years with top (#1 – MLB Pipeline) catching prospect Carson Kelly waiting. I doubt that FAZ believes that neither Barnes nor Farmer will be everyday MLB catchers. If Grandal continues to grow as expected, the Dodgers can afford to be patient with Will Smith and Keibert Ruiz.
    .
    Baez will be up next week. The question is what happens with the current 25. Does Hatcher get DFA’d or does FAZ continue to be patient and send Stripling down? You know both are being considered.
    .
    It appears that the thinking here is that when young Julio is ready that he will be replacing McCarthy in the rotation. Do you really want to have 4 LH in rotation? I am not saying no, but it would be a concern because of the RH nature of most offenses (although the Giants outside of RH hitters Posey and Pence have several good LH hitters). I think we still need to see how Ryu holds up. I think many are still concerned that his fastball is not back, has very little movement, and he catches too much of the plate with it. I do not expect more than a #5 production out of McCarthy, so unless he is hammered early in the game on multiple occasions he should give what is expected by FAZ.
    .
    I know it is only the Padres, but I still like a lot of what I saw yesterday. Joc’s growth, Puig’s patience (working a 1-2 count into a BB), Forsythe and his overall baseball mentality, Seager showing he does not need ST (okay he is still 22 for another three weeks), and who I predicted to be MVP, Justin Turner. Toles did a good job of going the other way with the shift, but did his best Puig impression on the basepaths. Now Yasiel knows what it feels like when he does it to others. Toles is still learning. I do not anticipate multiple games where he does the same thing. Overall, great game, and I look very much forward to Game 2 and Maeda. I hope Joc is in the lineup against Richard.

    1. I just saw the lineup for tonight’s game and Kike’ is playing CF over Joc. Gutierrez is starting in left and batting cleanup with AGon dropping to 6th. I can see Gutierrez platooning with Toles but not Kike’ and Joc. If Doc does not let Joc battle against Richard, forget about MadBum or Lester or Moore. Admittedly I am a little disappointed.

      1. I am somewhat surprised by Kike starting in CF. However, he did hit .125 against lefties last year. I think Roberts is saying “You will get your chance, but not tonight, based upon last year. However, when you get it, you better make the best of it.” A-Gon batted .244 against LH pitching so, he doesn’t sit tonight.

      2. AC

        Not as much as Bum will be.

        I think this is more about Kike, and not Joc.

        Maybe Roberts wants to see what Kike is going to do, early in the season.

        It would have been nice to give Joc this start, after what he did last night.

        But if Kike doesn’t perform, that might be better, in the long run, for Joc.

    2. AC

      I was worried about Toles hitting at the top of the line up, because it is harder to hit in those first four places, in the order.

      But once he made that adjustment to hit where the shift wasn’t, I felt better about him.

      It takes a lot of veteran players a while, before they make that adjustment, so I thought that was pretty good, that Toles made that adjustment.

      I do wish the Padres had better pitching, to get us ready, for the Rockies, and the Cubbies.

      1. He spent some time leading off in the minors last year too. It’s not like Forsythe has an extremely high career .OBP so it makes sense to give Toles a shot.

  12. AC
    I totally agree about Joc. I think Mark and a few of you guys touched on that a few months ago about just letting him play through the lefties and figure it out. It is the only way he will get to the next level. I am not cool with playing Kike over him after he totally kicked ass last night. The only sore spot I have with this team, which I feel might be one of the best in years, is the platoon thing, I think they get too caught up in matchups sometimes instead of letting the young guys just dig in and face a tough pitcher. They have to learn how to hit the big time pitchers at some time in their career. Seems like it stunts guys like Joc’s growth. He needs to feel the success of hitting a good leftie, and take that with him to the next game and build on that.

  13. I always liked Mattingly and thought he did a good job managing egos. He was a bit short in the game managing department and it cost the team some wins. I stand by my opinion (and it is only that) he resented all of the input. It’s not like they call down to the dugout like Steinbrenner used to do but they give the coaching staff a lot of info before every game and let them decide how to use that.
    -Ruth and Reggie Jackson sometimes looked foolish with big swing and misses, but fans pay to see the long ball! I am not comparing Joc to those two but he is what he is. Like others posted he had other good at bats, and I would have put him in the lineup tonight, especially against that pitcher.

    I also feel the rotation would be too LH heavy with 4 lefties but they are all different pitchers with different styles and Ryu if healthy is clearly better than McCarthy and so is Urias and no one is quite like Hill when his curve ball is working. If it was Wood we were talking about then McCarthy stays in. Some strategic rest might not only benefit the delicate arms but keep all 6 reasonably happy. I have a sneaking suspicion McCarthy could be a filthy set up guy who might be better than Blanton was last year.

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