A New Era?

Today could be the day that Adrian Gonzalez goes on the DL and Cody Bellinger takes his place permanently!  Evidently, A-Gon’s back issue is worse than his elbow.  Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com answered questions, mostly about the injury situations of Forsythe, Ethier, Kazmir and Gonzalez, where he says this about A-Gon:

Gonzalez said he’s not fighting a first visit to the DL, but he also doesn’t believe 10 days will resolve the flareup of a back disk issue he’s managed for years.

By all indications, Joc Pederson will come off the DL today and A-Gon or Chase Utley will be moved.  It’s pretty obvious to me that A-Gon is really hurting.  On the other hand, Chase Utley moves like a much younger man and appears pain-free.  He just can’t jump out of a boat and hit water.  Ultimately, this is a bottom-line business.  In 48 at-bats, Chase has 6 hits, only one for extra bases, and he is hitting .104.

I thought it was a great move to bring him back, but now he is a boat anchor and something has to be done.  The best thing would be for him to turn in his papers and retire.  Sorry, Chase… but it’s time.  Those who said you were done, were right!

I would say to play Barnes at C, but he is not doing any better than Yasmani.  Options at Catcher are limited, but I expect Grandal to break out soon.  That’s his M.O. Chris Taylor has earned the 2B job… period! I would put him in the #2 spot and move Seager and Turner down a spot. Andrew Toles has started to hit and I would leave him at leadoff for the time being.  L or R on the mound, I would just stick with this:

  1. Toles  LF
  2. Taylor  2B
  3. Seager  SS
  4. Turner  3B
  5. Bellinger 1B
  6. Puig  RF
  7. Pederson CF
  8. Grandal  C

Chris Taylor has completely re-made his swing and could break-out at 2B.  Give him time.  The platoons have not worked.  Let’s see if Joc and Andrew can hit lefties.  F-Gut is a nice pinch hitter and so is A-Gon.  A-Gon is a professional hitter who can get you a single  when you need it.  Maybe Chase Utley is the one who is send down or sent on his way.  That would be sad, but what else to do?  I like having F-Gut and A-Gon as R-L pinch hitters! O’Koyea Dickson deserves a shot too!  Kike is also on the hot seat.

The Dodgers are currently 16th in BA, 13th in Runs Scored, 20th in HR and 10th in OB%.  The offense needs and infusion whether it comes from within or without.  The Braun rumors still swirl.

Finally, Bill Shaikin of The LA Times writes about have the Dodgers pitching depth has been successful.

The Dodgers have four starting pitchers on the disabled list. Rich Hill, intended to be Clayton Kershaw’s high-priced sidekick atop the rotation, has started two games and ended up on the disabled list after each one.

The Dodgers shrugged, tapping into unparalleled pitching depth made possible by lavish spending, revitalized player development and creative ways of building a staff and manipulating a roster. The result: The injury-riddled Dodgers have the best earned-run average in the National League.

It’s too bad many Dodger fans don’t understand the Dodgers pitching depth and mock what they don’t comprehend. Clayton Kershaw understands and can explain it rather easily:

“We have the highest payroll in baseball, right?” Kershaw said. “… That allows us to take risks on guys with injury issues that may have a big upside but also have the potential to be hurt, which we’ve seen. We can take risks that other teams might not be able to take.”

Shaikin goes on to say:

To the fans that ask why Dodgers starters always seem to get hurt, the not-so-flip answer: by design.

In the three winters in which Friedman has run the Dodgers, six starting pitchers have signed as free agents for more than $100 million, another six for between $50 million and $100 million. The Dodgers did not sign any of them.

Friedman instead signed McCarthy, Hill, Scott Kazmir, Brett Anderson, Kenta Maeda and Brandon Beachy. (McCarthy, Hill and Kazmir were each guaranteed $48 million.) All but Maeda had injury histories, and Maeda’s physical examination revealed what the player and team agreed to publicly call “irregularities” in his pitching arm.

Nothing predicts a future injury more accurately than a past injury. However, in an era in which just about half the starting pitchers in the major leagues get hurt in any given year, the Dodgers do not worry about injury. They worry about having too much money invested in too few arms.

“Risk mitigation,” McCarthy said. “If you have $40 million in one pitcher and that guy goes down, you’re really up [a smelly place]. Spread it out. It seems to make mathematical and logical sense to me.

“But not everybody can pull that off, and can spend money on veterans where you’re kind of expecting them to break down once or twice.”

So, it turns out that the mockers are the ones to be mocked?

Minor League Notes

  • Alex Verdugo has seen his BA drop and in 90 AB’s he only has 6 extra base hits and ZERO HR.  His OPS has dropped to .836. Remember, he is very young for AAA and showing it.
  • Willie Calhoun is doing OK, but not lighting it up like Bellinger did.
  • Trayce Thompson is at .050 which is really scary!  He is in danger of becoming a huge flop!
  • Leo Crawford went six and allowed 1 hit with 5 bK’s last night for GL.  He’s a 20 year-old LH.

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 46 Comments

  1. There is one thing I’ve learned about life over the years. When there is a really obvious answer to a question and a decision has to be made, we may not like it but there really isn’t much choice. That’s where we are now.

    At this point in the season we have to find out if we have the right resources or not. Play the kids as you outlined.

    Our pitching, though not perfect is ok. We can’t win though without scoring runs. Run out Toles, Taylor, Bellinger, Pederson and Puig every day. We have a week to figure out if they can produce.

    1. WE have a week?
      ~
      Short term thinking or decision making almost never leads to positive results.

        1. Back = bad

          Just need to wait until I get to the computer.

          Old eyes, fat fingers , small screen not a good combination

  2. There are other organizations taking a look around for assistance, though it’s not clear whether any are doing more than eyeing the waiver wire and veterans playing on minors contracts. The Red Sox are looking for rotation help while waiting for David Price, who is said to be nearing a rehab assignment. And the Tigers would like to bolster their beleaguered bullpen.
    .
    The Dodgers have two that should be of interest to the Sox.

  3. I do not believe that FAZ is afraid of making hard decisions if they need to be made. I do not think it was a difficult decision to DFA Crawford, but I do think it was a difficult decision to trade AJ Ellis. AGon and Chase Utley are two of the finest people to ever play this great game, and are true professionals. If I had to guess, I believe it will be AGon that goes on the DL. If it takes more than 10 days, then take it. I think most fans would prefer a healthy AGon in September rather than one that continues to decline in both baseball and health.
    .
    Chris Taylor is deserving to be on the 25 man, but I do not believe that he should start at 2B over Forsythe…at least not yet. Forsythe has done nothing to lose his job. In my world, Taylor would take Kike’s spot on the 25 man, and become the super utility player. I am just not sure if the baseball people believe that Taylor can play CF. Again, in my world, I let him try.
    .
    O’Koyea Dickson has more than earned a shot at ML. Getting him on the 40 man should not be difficult for master roster manipulators like FAZ. Put Ethier or Kaz on the 60 Day and worry about what happens if either get healthy enough to make it back at that time. Dickson becomes Rule 5 Draft eligible after this year. So it will be interesting to see what the Dodgers do. Dickson is more than capable of being claimed and stick to a 25 man all year next year. But he is also the kind of player that the Dodgers sign for organizational depth and have available for periodic turns on the 25 man. My prediction (I haven’t been right yet), is that Dickson gets added to the 40 man in September and is called up. No danger of using an option at that time, so they will have three more option years available. It may not be the fairest solution for Dickson, but from a baseball business sense, it works.
    .
    As you stated, Alex Verdugo is 20 (turns 21 in 10 days). He is 5.4 years younger than the average PCL player age. He is not a power hitter. But one thing that jumps out at me is his BB/K ratio. For the last 10 games he has 8 walks to 4 strikeouts. For the year, he has 12 walks and 12 strikeouts. He may need another year in AAA to tune up his game. Unlike Seager and Bellinger, he has some maturity problems.
    So he comes up at 22, how bad can that be.
    .
    The Dodgers need more reliable bats other than Seager and JT. Toles looks like he may be one of those guys. Puig is exciting, but I am not sure how reliable he is. His clutch stats are a mixed bag. With 2 outs and RISP, Puig is 3 for 7 with 1 HR and 5 RBI. But late & close, in a larger sample size, he is .167/.286/.333/.619. Within 1 run he is .200/.304/.350/.654, and within 2 runs he is .189/.291/.365/.656. Puig may not be the problem, but he is not the answer either. I am not sure where the Dodgers get that bat.
    .
    Grandal is an enigma. He came to camp in his best shape, had a good spring, but has done very little during the regular season. While not great defensively, he is improving in one area. Before coming to the Dodgers, Grandal was way way way below league average in caught stealing %. He was slightly above league average for 2015/2016. And is way above average for 2017. His caught stealing % is 47% compared to league average of 27%. Was 2016 the outlier for him offensively? He has never been a good BA hitter, but he was very productive with a .800+ OPS, 27 HR, and 72 RBI. Can he turn it around for May-September? But while pitchers do love throwing to him, maybe Barnes should get a few more games.

    1. I am not advocating Taylor over Forsythe, but it looks like Logan will be out another 2-4 weeks, so I would let Taylor show what he can do in the interim.

      1. I agree that Taylor should play everyday as long as Logan is out. I did hear that Logan had a set-back with his hammy. I would guess that Logan’s return is going to somehow coincide with how Taylor is playing.

    2. AC

      I don’t think the Dodgers need Taylor to play centerfield, necessarily.

      Because Kike isn’t the answer either, because he isn’t hitting lefties that well, except for the two HRs he has hit, against lefties.

      And we have quite a few outfielders on the team, that can play center too.

      I agree about your assessment about Puig.

      He hit into 9 double plays, in the first month, alone.

      He isnt good that often, in pressure situations, and he has been this way, for a while.

      He has improved his at bats, from what he has done before, but he still isn’t really great, in tough situations.

      And right now, he is not the answer against lefties, because his numbers against lefties, are not really good, either.

      I know some think he has hit into tough luck, but really the player on the team that has hit into tough luck, is Corey, not Puig.

      Puig hit into that many double plays last month, because he tends to try to pull the ball, and he ends up rolling over, to the third base man, or the shortstop.

      He doesn’t stick to trying to hit the ball, the other way, like he did in that one game, this week.

      And that is what made Puig successful, in the past, but he is just not consistent.

      And Puig is playing everyday, unlike Joc and Toles has, this year.

  4. I have been on-board with Taylor as the everyday second baseman all off-season. Never thought that Dodgers had to make a trade but wasn’t against it for a young, fast, and good defender like the Cubs Baez.
    .
    Also liked the trade for Forsythe. A one year tryout that filled in for a question mark.

    1. Bum

      You have been the number one person, when it comes to Taylor, that is for sure.

      You were voicing Taylor should be the second base man, even before he had that really good spring, because you have always like his speed.

  5. I hate to totally agree with Mark but I really like that lineup with speed up top, Seager, JT and Bellinger in 3,4,5 spots, Puig without a turtle in front of him and Joc and Grandal at the bottom. That is a long dangerous lineup with only Grandal as below average speed and that’s typical of a catcher. They could manufacture runs and also go deep at any spot. I would like to see less platooning but we will never go back to the days of Lasorda trotting out the same 8 every game with an occasional day off. Forsythe, Gutierrez, Kike, AGon and Barnes would get some playing time also, more than 1 game a week. Pay Utley the same money to be a coach and keep him around, it’s only $2M. Dickson does deserve a shot but needs to be on the 40 man and Roberts does not like his defense. He can certainly hit, at least at AAA. Segedin has a better glove, his bat seemed improved in ST this year. The latter 2 might get a spot if someone else goes to the DL. Agon is hurting and Gutierrez and Forsythe have been brittle so far. Kike needs to show more and quit trying to hit HR’s. He needs to work on his throws also and hit the cutoff.

    Maeda really needs to continue his improved performance last game, and the Pads and Petco are a good spot for him. McCarthy has nasty stuff but a few bad pitches a game tend to wind up being hit hard. It looks like Ryu will be back before Hill and Wood gets at least one more start. Wood has the same problem as McCarthy, he misses a lot of bats but when he leaves a fat pitch hitters make him pay. Overall it’s working though, just need more consistent run support.

    1. Vegas

      I don’t think we will ever go back to eight players playing everyday for long periods of time, like you said.

      But I have a feeling, by playing this line up everyday, there will not be any real big change against lefties, because I believe it is mostly the everyday players, who play with these part time players against lefties, that are providing most of the offense, in these games, we play against lefties.

      And if anything, I think our team numbers against lefties, might even improve, because most of the players, will be getting consistent at bats.

      And the team will play and pull together as a team, on offense better, and they will try to produce runs, as a team more.

      Bottom line, when most of the players on the team are not getting consistent at bats, that isn’t good for any of the players, so that is why it is better, to stick with your top eight players.

      And these eight players, will be better prepared, to hit against lefties, in the post season, if we get there.

  6. Great stars often hang on for too long. Chase is the ultimate professional. It will be a shame if someone has to tell him that the time has come. His current situation must be very painful for him. No one knows better than Chase his deficiencies.

  7. I’m starting to consider the Rockies as the favorites in the West. This year they have a decent closer, with 12 saves already. And some new, young set up men. And they always have the bats. If they stay healthy, we will have our hands full with them. The Dodgers, again, seem to be playing like it is Opening Day after a blah spring training. I can’t blame it all on injuries, though losing the 2B is a big deal. When was the last time this team was any good to start the season? I know it’s not how you start, it’s…….. But this almost seems like practice. Too bad the games count. If Urias becomes the #2 this year, that means the rest, after Kershaw, really stink. What Kool Aid was Hill drinking when he said everything was good after that shitty start? Talk about grade inflation. For him, just to hold the ball without getting hurt is victory. That doesn’t work for me. The guy is a major distraction to the pitching staff, with the in and out of his game. He shouldn’t be back in the rotation unless and until he can pitch in the minors, without injury, for a month.

  8. Dodgers are only 2 1/2 games out and no one is running away with the division yet. Here is Houston Mitchell’s LA Times snapshot of where this puts the Dodgers compared to the past 4 seasons:

    2017: 15-14, third place, 2 1/2 games behind Colorado
    2016: 14-15, second place, one game behind San Francisco
    2015: 19-10, first place, four games ahead of San Diego
    2014: 17-12, second place, half a game behind San Francisco
    2013: 13-16, fourth place, 4 1/2 games behind Colorado and San Francisco

    The question is: can the Dodgers turn things around? They have time – do they have the personnel?

  9. Fabio Castillo pitched in AAA last night. 67 pitches, with 18 balls. He was pulled after 5. Why not let him try to finish the game? Or go 7? The organization suffers from hyper-pitch anxiety. The way we develop pitchers, it takes 5 years for even the best to make it to the big leagues. That reduces the present value of them all, and should make them perfect trade bait for someone who can play at the major league level. Starters are “overvalued” for sure, with this collective frame of mind. And yet, they hang on to these guys, like they are Hall of Famers. Total inconsistency. I would not be surprised if some of the minor league pitchers can’t wait to get out of the organization so they can play before they start getting grey.

  10. Wow!

    Well, I have to respond to that. Why not let him try to finish the game? Or go 7?

    Fabio Castillo is not a prospect – he is really organizational depth, although you never know…

    He is 28 years old and has been in the minor leagues for 11 years – 6 with Texas, then the Giants, then Baltimore, then Cincinnati, next the Padres and in 2017, it’s the Dodgers. He has never had a complete game in his career and the most innings he has ever pitched is 90, but that was 9 years ago.

    Fabio is just happy as hell to be pitching for the Dodgers. Using him as an example of hyper-pitch anxiety has no basis in reality!

    1. Do you think that if it were some other pitcher in the minors that the outcome would have been any different? While Castillo may not be a prospect, haven’t the Dodgers treated pitchers with kid gloves, both in the majors and in the minors?

      1. Nobody asked me, nor should they care what I think, but the case could be made that the Dodgers are aggressive with minor league player placement, but conservative with usage.

      2. Yeah, and they ruined that damn Kershaw kid.

        For what ever reasons pitchers are blowing up their arms and all teams, not just the Dodgers, are doing it…
        especially on the really young ones (Urias, Alvarez) and ones who have had TJ (Buehler, White).

        1. I have no problems with any team trying to protect young arms – to a point. The way to get good at something is to do a lot of it. The way to build up arm strength is to throw a lot. Monitoring innings and not abusing young arms makes sense. Being extra careful with pitchers recovering from surgery makes sense. Limiting a 25 or 30 year old makes no sense. Baseball history is replete with pitchers who threw lots of innings.

          Don Sutton came up at 21 and threw 225 innings. He threw over 200 innings every year after than until he was 36, and then did it every year until he was 42. Coming up at 21 and throwing 200+ innings/year didn’t keep him from throwing over 5200 innings.

          Let me ask a question – when were you most physically fit? When did you have the most stamina and endurance? Were you 21, 31 or 41? In my experience, a 21 year old doesn’t need to be treated like a weakling. Again, I understand the caution to a point, but as Jeff Passan noted in his book The Arm, since teams started treating pitchers like their arms are made of glass, the number and severity of injuries has gone up, not down, so it doesn’t seem to be working.

          1. Like Bluto said no one asked but, I think it is a combination of pitch count and effort. If a pitcher is only going to get 100 pitches and he goes 100% on those pitches, it’s harder on the arm than say ,135 or 140 pitches at 75 to 80% effort is

          2. Dodgerrick,
            ~
            Let’s not cherry pick data. For every Sutton, there’s a Fidrych or an Isringhausen.
            ~
            I think it’s fair to presume that the Dodgers, their “arm team” and their medical staff have more at their disposal in terms of research and historical data, that we do or could.

          3. So as a fan we are not to question anything that any baseball front office does because they have more data than we do, right?

            You never questioned anything that Ned Colletti did? Or that the Dodgers did while owned by Fox? Really?

          4. Plant your flag wherever you like, DodgerRick, but speculating about medical science/arm development seems an odd choice to me.

  11. I do not think FAZ will do anything with Utley. I listened to Turner praise Utley just last week. The only way it will happen is if Utley takes himself out. He is a proud man and will not do it.
    Agon may go to the DL. I think he will consider it.
    Taylor should get the playing time until Forsythe comes back. Do not bet on it. We will see Utley if the pitcher is a righty.

    1. Idahoal

      There wouldn’t be any complaints about Utley, if he wasn’t starting, and playing, over Taylor.

      And he just shouldn’t be playing over Taylor, because Taylor makes this team a better team, with the way, he has been hitting.

  12. AGon on DL for 1st time in career. Joc recalled from DL.
    .
    Old friend Mat Latos DFA’d by Toronto.

  13. There is a bit of history about Utley. In April 2015, he hit .114 in in 81 plate appearances…. he went on to hit .212 that year. He has almost always did well at the beginning of the season. Like A-Gon he hit LH pitching very well early in his career, but his last 5 or 6 years he has been platoon material, really dying against LH’ers.

    I don’t see a recovery.

  14. Sanity prevails with respect to AGon, that needs to continue with a dfa of Utley

  15. We have never had as many arm injuries as we have today. Why is that? Could it be because pitchers are bigger, stronger and throw harder than ever before? 10 years ago, you never saw a pitcher hit 100, Now there are 30 or 40 who can do that and a great percentage pitch in the mid-to-high 90’s.

    Could that have anything to do with it?

    Nah, why would it?

    1. I’m with you on that. Too much throwing heat and not enough pitching. It’s why knuckleballers can throw forever.

  16. 1. Toles LF
    2. Seager SS
    3. Turner 3B
    4. Grandal C
    5. Bellinger 1B
    6. Pederson CF
    7. Puig RF
    8. Utley 2B
    9. Maeda P

  17. That was alot of fun yesterday!!! MT was in his bunker firing salvos… Good heart check I suppose. Well have we got a ‘Wally Pipped’ situation going down in LAD land???
    Bittersweet for me as I’ve always admired AGon! But the sweet thing is we may seeing and I’ve seen enough from Mr. Bellinger to think we have a star in the making to join ranks with Seager and Urias…
    AGon , get well my friend and God willing if an AL team doesn’t grab you, maybe you can help us down the stretch…
    Peace out..

  18. Tonights lineup: The definition of insanity…or we are really hoping Utley gets going soon. Grandal at cleanup again when he should be hitting 8th. I would be fine with Bellinger hitting cleanup and evidently Roberts will not hit Seager and JT 3 and 4.

    Wally Pipp who gave way with a headache and Lou Gehrig started his Ironman streak is a funny comparison, but Agon is likely not done and Bellinger can play other positions. I can bitch about the lineups but this a a huge move and signals a changing of the guard. Hearing him list all of his assorted injuries shows it’s long overdue. He could see it was hurting the team and I’m sure it’s not lost on Utley that he won’t get unlimited chances. A LHP goes tomorrow so Taylor, Barnes, Kike and Gutierrez probably go.

  19. MJ, Utley is hitting .100 against everybody this year but he’s in there tonight. Not saying it makes sense, just what is likely, and I hope I’m wrong. I would start every leftie possible against us too.

    Bellinger!! Halfway up the bleachers in right!

    Puig! Guns down a runner at 3B!

    Maeda! 7 K’s after 4 IP with 2 H and 1 ER.

    Greinke beats Rockies in Coors, chance to gain ground! Giants lose 13-3, Cain gives up 9 ER in 3.1 IP

  20. I would prefer Maeda hit 4th and Grandal hit 9th

    It is likely time we put Bellinger at 4th, and if not him, at least Joc who looks like Tony Gwynn compared to Grandal

  21. Belinger reminds me of Puig in 13.

    Suddenly we have some power. I would rather he bat cleanup than Grandal.

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