Over the Hill and Through the Woods

Evidently Rich Hill doesn’t flourish in Spring Training, and while he was not in mid-season form last night, he was pretty good.  Five innings was enough – let him go six his next start.  You have to love this guy’s story, determination and never-say-die attitude.  What are the odds that a guy finally figures it out at 36 year old and becomes a star?  Probably about the same that he will make 30 starts.  Sometimes you catch lightening in a bottle.  He is in the best shape of his life and playing for a team he wants to play for.  I’m not saying he will start 30 games, but it is possible… for Rich Hill! I love his enthusiasm and animation.  It gives his teammates a charge too. By the way, he may have came out of the game early because he got hit on the wrist.  It was x-rayed after the game and was negative.

Logan Forsythe is rapidly becoming one of the team leaders.  Watch him in the dugout and around the field. Players know who the “players” are and he is right up there with Chase Utley.  Sabermetric geeks don’t necessarily value character – I think Friedman, Zaidi, Byrnes, Kapler and Anthopoulos all value character, thus Utley, Gutierrez and Forsythe.  Kershaw, Hill, A-Gon, Seager and a bunch of others are all of that High Character Ilk. 

If this is what Alex Wood can do in the pen, then that changes everything!  I was having Andrew Miller Flashbacks.  He was dialing it up in the mid 90’s and he can pitch multiple innings.  The Dodgers have plenty of starters so this may be Wood’s best spot.  He’s a thin guy, so he’s not a workhorse starter, but he’s a guy who can pitch two or three innings at a time… or close and anything in-between. I like Alex Wood a lot! Throw in Dayton, Stripling, Avilan and Romo and someone will have to be chopped when Pedro Baez comes back… with a Hatchet!  Then there is Liberatore… I can’t see where Chris Hatchet fits.  I am not being mean to him… I just think he needs to go somewhere else with less pressure.  Look at Jim Johnson in LA and then look at him in the ATL.

The Wild Horse is still the Wild Card.  He needs to step up or he might step out.  The Dodgers are putting him lower in the order to minimize the pressure and hopefully build his confidence.  It would not surprise me if he hit 30 HR and batted .310… nor would it surprise me if he hit .249 with 12 HR.  If he’s doing the later, he will be gone by the All-Star Break.  I think the same is true with Kike Hernandez – he is getting a chance to play himself on or off the team.  This is a process, after all.  To me, if Kike does not make it, the next call up might be Thompson, not Taylor.  Taylor is only a phone call away if Seager gets nicked.  Logan Forsythe can play SS for a game if needed.

Don’t draw any conclusions from the Dodgers inability to hit LH Clayton Richard on Tuesday.  Let it play out.  Roberts thinks they will do better… but if they don’t, I guarantee they will go and get another RH bat to make it happen.  These guys are on notice: Hit LH Pitching or we will get someone who will, like Braun or Martinez.

The Oakland A’s only allowed former Dodgers to pitch last night – Jharel Cotton, Frankie Montas and Daniel Coulombe.  Coulombe and Montas looked very good.  Cotton? Not so much.  I like him, but only as a reliever.

Brandon McCarthy’s turn this afternoon in an early game.

Today’s Music

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 35 Comments

  1. I once asked my son what makes for good chemistry in the dugout, and his quick one word response was…winning. Take it for what it was, one person’s take. I do agree that having a dugout of players of good character is important, and having “players” like Utley and Forsythe are critical, especially to the young players. My son’s go to guy was Mike Lieberthal with the Phillies and Nomar (and Varitek) with the Bosox. He said players like Manny and Millar in the clubhouse were fun, but the young guys never went to them for advice (but Manny did buy my son his first travel suit). Can you imagine what Jeff Kent would be like in this dugout?
    .
    As I said in the last thread, I am ambivalent as to whether Wood should start or relieve. I think he can be an Andrew Miller as a high leverage any inning reliever, but I also believe he can be a very good mid to back end rotation starter. I am just happy that he is doing it with the Dodgers. He is all of 26 years old, and one of those good guys Mark referred to above. I like Alex Wood, always have, and I hope he stays a Dodger a long time.
    .
    I did not see the game last night, but when I had a chance and looked at the box score later in the game, I noticed that Hill only went 5 IP and 75 pitches, and had visions of Dodgerrick’s post. I later got a BR alert that said that Hill was going in for X-Rays on his wrist and thought that was why he came out. I later learned that it happened in inning 2, but these things have a tendency to swell so maybe that is why he was pulled. But this AM I read that it was Robert’s decision to remove him because it was early in the season and he fully expects both Maeda and Hill to go deeper; nothing about precautionary reasons for his wrist. Maybe someday I will do a study, but it seems that the Dodgers bring too many pitchers into spring camp, and do not get their starters enough innings to stretch out. It is a long 162 game season, and the baseball gurus undoubtedly know more than me, but it is a question in my mind.
    .
    I think Baez will be ready next week, and Hatcher is going to be getting 2-3 additional opportunities before a decision is made. I think FAZ wants to be sure whether to keep Hatcher or DFA him. And no it is not due to ego because FAZ traded for him and is one of “their guys”, but because he does have a good arm. He gets two outs and then just loses concentration. If you can get him to break that trend, you might have a good reliever. But there is probably more upside with Baez (and Liberatore), so Hatcher is the odd man out.
    .
    We get two LHSP against the Rox, and one more against the Cubs. We might learn more after the Cubs series, but Gutierrez did have two good ABs against Richard, and Forsythe had a good night as well, so the two new RH bats did what they were acquired for.
    .
    I agree that Kike’ will be replaced by Thompson. Taylor is Seager’s backup, and he can be that in OKC playing everyday..
    .
    Minor league play begins today. I was hoping to get to Stockton to see Opening Day for the Quakes, but it looks like rain. It looks like I will have to wait until Sunday to get my first look at our High A minor league team with extremely high expectations. I may not get to see Buehler or White (probably Dennis Santana or Caleb Ferguson). But I will get to see DJ Peters, Yusniel Diaz, Drew Jackson, Omar Estevez, Ibandel Estevez, Ariel Sandoval, Erick Mejia, Brandon Montgomery, and Will Smith (and hopefully Logan Landon and Luke Raley). I will probably get to see Spitzbarth, Istler, and/or Kremer as well.

    1. AlwaysCompete, please, more details or post a picture of that suit Manny bought your son. I have this vision of something that would play better on a golf course than an airport.

      1. Actually it was a really nice business suit. One he would never have been able to afford. The ML players (at least with Boston and Toronto at the time) always traveled with suits, but not in the minors.

    2. AC

      I have always thought the same about the Dodgers having to many players in spring training, that are taking away from the players or the pitchers time, on the field, that are already on the team.

  2. Agree with most of your comments. It will be Taylor and not Thompson. I love Thompson, but how many outfielders do you need? The bull pen looked good. Hill looked good. I just hope they let Joc play against left handers. I am not a Kike fan anymore.

    1. Al, Kike’ is there because he can play CF, not because he can play SS. Seager will get 4-7 days off a year, and Forsythe can fill in for those days off. IMO Thompson will get the call because he can play CF as well as Kike’ (probably better), and he can be a more effective RH bat off the bench. Taylor needs to play everyday, and if Seager goes out for any length of time, Taylor will get recalled and start, regardless if Kike’ is on the 25 man or not.
      .
      As an aside, we discussed pitchers and their inability to go long in the game (or perceived inability), how can Cal Ripken play more than 16 consecutive full seasons without a day off, but a 23 year old will need days off. I think it is helpful, but it is still a question stuck in my brain. There is no question that today’s ball players are different (or differently treated) than those most of us grew up with.

  3. Wood had some very good seasons as a very young pitcher, including 171 IP of 2.78 ERA ball in 2014 as a 23 yr old. He does have an injury history. Hopefully healthy this year.

    The FAZophobes like to point out the Olivera mistake any chance they get. Olivera probably was FAZ’s biggest mistake, but they made amends very nicely by trading him for Woods and Peraza (I know there was others involved but Olivera was the main piece). I said on another board that $30M for Wood, “Wasn’t too Bad”. The FAZophobes ridiculed that statement, I stand by it. Dodgers only ended up paying about $30M of Olivera’s $62M contract, Atlanta and SD are paying the rest. Oh course, the trade comes with another cost, NOBODY wants to trade with FAZ now.

    I am willing to wait and see how Dodgers do against left-handers this year. What choice do we have? Puig needs to step-up big against lefties, but it’s going to have to be a team effort. I think we have the goods this year to do better.

    1. Look, everyone has their share of good deals and bad deals… it’s just that you want more good deals than bad deals. The Olivera signing cost Engel and Guerrero their jobs. FAZ cut bait quickly.

      Some people just exist to criticize the FO. If something good happens they are quiet and if something bad or they don’t understand happens, they are quick to criticize because that is just what they do.

      Keith Law is one the best judges of talent among the writers and has this to say about the Dodgers:

      The Dodgers are rolling six starters deep right now, and that’s without Julio Urias, who’ll start the year in extended spring training to try to keep him strong enough to pitch into the playoffs. They have some weaknesses in the middle relief corps and the outfield corners, but this is the deepest Dodgers team we’ve seen in a while. They can withstand a lot of mishaps and still win this division.

      And they have done that in two years and rebuilt the farm system into one of the top ones in baseball. Yes, we would like to have 5 guys who can pitch 200 innings… but that may be something that rarely happens in the future. Enjoy the progress because whether you admit it or not, this team is very good.

      1. It is amazing how quickly Keith Law turned to become enamored with the Dodgers. He was a critic before this year. Most on MLB network are still not on board, especially Harold Reynolds.

        1. Keith Law is frequently right – you can bet with him.

          You would be wise to bet against Harold Reynolds – the dude is wrong so often.

          1. Mark, I agree with both. Keith Law is almost always a MUST go to column for me. I keep my ESPN Insider account, and he is a major reason.
            .
            I remember in 2015 when Harold Reynolds said that there was noway the Dodgers would beat out the Giants and get to the playoffs, and that was in September.

    2. Box, the Dodgers got Avilan in that trade as well (yes also Mat Latos and Jim Johnson). But two that worked out for the Dodgers, for someone who never wouid have. Those that dislike FAZ and the trade always ignore the results of the actual trade with Atl and Miami, and go directly to point to Peraza being later traded.

      1. It’s like I always say:

        Miserable people love miserable company so they try and make others miserable so they can have company!

        Life is too good for that!

        Or, maybe it’s like this:
        Image and video hosting by TinyPic
        That’s why I’m here!

      2. Your absolutely right, AlwaysCompete, I forgot about Avilan and I am really starting to like him.
        .
        I liked Peraza also, but he netted Thompson, who could be huge for us. We will have to wait to see who won that trade, unless your a FAZophobe.

        1. And you bring up a relevant name. Though Olivera was a mistake, it’s how you pivot and adapt to the mistakes that matter. So, from the Olivera signing and coughing up the 28 million signing bonus…or whatever the Dodgers paid, the team was able to net, either directly or partially through subsequent trades, Avilan, Wood, Trayce Thompson and Rich Hill.

    3. I don’t think FAZ had their scouting team in place when they signed Olivera but even if they did, that signing reflects the Dodgers need for a strong righty bat.
      .
      Wood looked great last night. He hit 95 mph once that I noticed and 94 often. Wood’s stock climbed in his first outing of the year.
      .
      San Diego trotted out two starters that looked great and they were their #2 and #3. Their #1 should bounce back given how good their #2 and #3 performed. Cahill had tremendous movement on fastball which often hit 95 and added a very good change up.
      .
      I don’t think San Diego will be a pushover.
      .
      Gonzales has not demonstrated any power yet but really has perfected going to the opposite field. If he stays healthy he will get his 90 RBIs.
      .
      I like Thompson but he needs a month in Oklahoma.
      .
      Ethier might never play again for the Dodgers.

      1. Most of the people in the media that are predicting that the Dodgers will win it all, say that they like there mix of both older, and younger players.

        Personally I don’t like when the Dodgers, are favored to win it all.

        With Wood, once he was put in the starting rotation, he has always pitched really well, the first two times through the order.

        So whether he is in the pen or the rotation, he will probably do a good job, because he will always be pitching, to be in the rotation, so he will always be competing.

        It looks like Puig is enjoying hitting eighth, and it looked like a kind of set up the pitcher last night, when he waited for that pitch, and hit the HR.

        And Agone is always good for a RBI, when a runner is in scoring position, I hope the younger players, are making a note on that.

      2. I doubt that a decision on Kike’ would come before May, so Thompson should get his 30 days.
        .
        I fear your comment about Ethier may be correct. Toles could be fully entrenched as the LH LF before Ethier ever resumes baseball activity. He is still sore from just running. Sad way to end a good Dodger career for another good #16.
        .
        SD can be a decent team. If the rookies Margot/Renfro/Hodges (technically not a rookie) continue to improve, and team with Myers/Solarte/Aybar/Janikowski, that could be a decent lineup. It is their pitching that is suspect, and they have zero depth if anyone goes down. Chacin is probably close to being done, but I like Trevor Cahill. I am not as high on Clayton Richard. I doubt that other offenses will be as non-productive as LA was on Tuesday. He does get ground balls. It will be interesting to see how Jered Weaver pitches today. I think the Padres are better than the Twins and Reds (I know that is not saying much), but they are young and have one of the best pitching prospects (Anderson Espinosa) in baseball getting closer. Cal Quantrill is also someone to watch for them.

        1. AC – what do you think about that RHRP for the Padres, Diaz? I’ve seen him in Game 1 and then last night in Game 3. He has dominated the Dodgers hitters he’s faced. Struck out Joc looking on a nasty 98mph 2 seamer that started inside then broke late about 8 inches to hit the inside paint. Is there anyone in the Dodgers farm system that compares in terms of age and also stuff?

          1. Miguel Diaz has got good stuff, but is very raw. He was a Rule 5 draft that the Padres really wanted and got the Twins to draft him and trade him to the Padres. He has never pitched above low full season A (same league as Great Lakes Loons). The Brewers do not have a lot of pitching but they chose not to protect him onto the 40 man. We are going to have to see how he holds up through May and June as teams get to learn about him. Nobody knows anything about him right now. That gives the pitcher a huge advantage. There are undoubtedly no major league advance scouts who have scouted him. You do not send ML advance scouts to watch low A. I am sure there are Dodger scouts who have seen him, but not ML advance scouts getting a bead on players who could get recalled. If he continues to pitch well in May and June, we will know more. But he did look impressive against the Dodgers. But as Bobbie17 said below, is that Diaz or the Dodger hitters?

  4. Great post today Mark! I can’t disagree with any of your points, some of which I have made before. Utley will play some at second, and Forsythe can play SS and 3B and I would argue is a better fielder than Kike at all 3 spots. Thompson can play all 3 OF positions and is a better bat than Kike or SVS. SVS is a 1B option when AGon sits against some lefties but he still has to hit enough to hold off Segedin if he is raking at OKC. Other than Baez and Urias I don’t think Minor League players will move around much the first month or so.

    AC, great comments also, please keep us updated on the minors-OKC and Rancho are especially stacked this year. I expect big things out of DJ Peters and someone will emerge as a big league set up guy (it could be McCarthy too)

    Day game today and I hope McCarthy pitches well. Stripling and Wood have both thrown multiple innings already and may again today. Some innings will be needed when they go to Coors, Ryu has a tough first test tomorrow.

    1. And the Dodgers get to try again against another LHSP, Kyle Freeland. Freeland was the 8th overall pick in 2014 and moved through AA and AAA last year to join the Rockies rotation this year. I doubt that it is a coincidence that Freeland is starting against the Dodgers. He is a goundball pitcher similar to Clayton Richard.
      .
      Also Mark should get a treat when he visits the Great Lakes team. They also have outstanding prospects playing at that level. Jordan Sheffield, Leo Crawford, AJ ALexy, Dustin May, Devin Smelzer should be the rotation. Keibert Ruiz behind he plate, Brendon Davis and Zach McKinstry should be middle infield to start, and an OF that is so good that Mitch Hansen did not crack it (I still do not know why). Rincon (RF) and Thomas (CF) could be very good.

      1. AC

        Just read that the Cubs, mixed up there pitching rotation, and John Lester, is pitching Monday, when we face the Cubs.

        1. That figures. So that means Lester and no Anderson. Are they going with Montgomery on Sunday? I do not know why, but I am actually more comfortable against Lester than Hendricks. Hendricks killed the Dodgers in the playoffs.

          1. AC

            I thought about Montgomery too, but I don’t know.

            But I do agree with you, that Lester, might be an easier apponate, then Hendricks.

            Because we really did hit Lester hard, in that first game, in the post season, and we were just unlucky, because we hit the ball, right at someone.

            And I think Hendricks is much more consistent, then Lester is.

  5. Because it’s never too early to compare results of trades (or trades that fall through) 😉
    .
    Brian Dozier – .250 BA .650 OPS
    Logan Forsythe – .300 BA .762 OPS
    .
    I guess technically you would have to compare the results of (Forsythe + Bellinger) vs. Dozier to properly keep score on this debate.

    1. Knight

      I wanted Logan over Dozier, from the begining.

      We didn’t need another hitter, that is more an all or nothing hitter, in our line up, like Dozier is.

      And I think Logan is the better all around, player.

      And a lot of baseball scouts, said the same thing, about Logan.

      And we gave up a lot less, to get Logan.

      1. Great points, MJ. I guess we should throw in some defensive stats to the ongoing compare if we are to capture Forsythe’s value as a better all around player.

  6. Wood was good last night. The biggest thing is that he looked like he was having fun. Of course, he had a lead, and that helps. He might have the demeanor/mindset to be a bullpen guy. BTW: Either the Padres bullpen is really good or the Dodgers stunk it up the last 3-4 innings last night. All I saw were strikeouts, bad swings, bad takes. Turner got a bloop double. Pederson had a couple of K’s, the last one, looking at a fast ball right down the middle. For the Padres being terrible, the team has struggled the last 2 games. Remember last year when we swept them and the came back and swept us? Not this year. I’ll take a win today and move on to tough Rockies team. This next week should be interesting. The offense looks shaky.

    1. Pederson with a one ball, two strike count and hitting against a lefty was totally shocked he got that fastball.

  7. The offense is a bit shaky but the power potential is always there to blow games open. But most games will be tight and the Dodgers bullpen and defense will keep them in striking range. They need to grind out more at bats, taking walks, going the other way, get it out of the infield with RISP. Good to see Jansen get some work and Wood was excellent. This lineup will be fine but will need more runs against the Rockies and Cubs. The ball carries well in day games at Dodger Stadium and Weaver could get lit up today. McCarthy needs to avoid the long ball also and get some ground balls. 6 innings would be great for the entire staff heading to Coors Field.

    1. Vegas

      Exactly, when we are facing good pitching, or a leftie, we need to do the little things, to score runs.

      And if we can master that, in the regular season, we will be better, in the post season.

  8. If Joc, Grandal, and Agon can defeat the shift with a bunt to 3rd base would really be a big deal…it would force teams to back off from the shift. They tried last night to no avail.

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