Do you really understand what the Dodgers have in Cody Bellinger? When I tell you… you are going to say that it is too soon to say that. You are going to say that the league will adjust. You will say it is too small a sampling. OK… I know what you will say. But, I am going to say it anyway! Cody Bellinger is a once in a generation talent! Puigmania was pretty incredible, but Cody Bellinger has more HR and RBI in his first 11 games than Yasiel Puig did.
For the record, I was never a Puig-Believer. I wanted to trade him at the end of his first season. Most fans wanted to burn me at the stake for such sacrilege. I have branded very few players as Hall-of-Fame worthy since Sandy Koufax. Let’s count them:
- Fernando Valenzuela
- Mike Piazza
- Adrian Beltre
- Clayton Kershaw
- Corey Seager
- Julio Urias
- Cody Bellinger
When he hammered that high and tight pitch into the stands last night, I yelled (to the league in general): “Adjust to that!” I know they heard me.
- Lest you think Bellinger is the only power first baseman in the system, read what Ron Cervenka of Think Blue LA writes about Ibandel Isabel today. The 21 year-old Dominican is absolutely mashing the ball at GL.
- Eric Gagne Quacks me up by signing with an Independent League Team – the Long Island Ducks. It would be interesting to see him come back. The odds are longer than they were for Rich Hill.
- I hear Ryu will be back in the 10-day period. Maybe he picks up a MPH or two…
- Sunit Bhakta of Dodgers Way absolutely nails it on Chase Utley, who is the Elephant in teh room:
When Chase Utley re-signed with the Dodgers this past offseason, we all knew what they were getting. He was clearly over the hill and would not be able to contribute much with the bat. He hit .252 with a .716 OPS (but a solid 14 home runs) last season, and there was so secret that the then-37-year-old was not going to be able to hold up as a starting second baseman for a team anymore.
Plus, Logan Forsythe was already on the team, so Chase was not going to get much playing time as it was. However, with Logan Forsythe shelved for the past few weeks, Utley has been getting a bulk of the playing time over at second, and he hasn’t responded in an encouraging way. He’s hitting .100 on the season with a .196 OBP.
If the Dodgers did not have too many players to deal with, then having him in the backup role would not have mattered so much because A: He’d be a bench player and B: He has enough pedigree where you’d expect him to snap out of his prolonged slump.
But that’s not the case. When Forsythe returns, the Dodgers’ front office will have to make a tough decision on who to send down to Triple-A. From that group they’ll have to choose from, one of Kike Hernandez and Chris Taylor will be most likely to be sent to Oklahoma City.
However, both are deserving to remain with Los Angeles. Kike may have an ugly batting average and on-base percentage, but his power against lefties and defensive versatility have been, are, and will continue to be valuable to the team. He has a .828 OPS against the dreaded southpaws. That is something the Dodgers just can’t give up, especially when he is the ultimate Swiss Army Knife.
Then you have Chris Taylor who seems to have worked some magic over the offseason and is flat out raking. All he’s done is hit since being called up. In his 32 at-bats, he owns a .353/.488/.588 slash line with two home runs and two doubles. He has also improved his approach at the plate, as he willing to work the count and take walks. He had three walks against San Diego Saturday night, and four walks against the Giants on Wednesday. He’s even come through during his small sample size of clutch moments and like Kike can play multiple positions.
He ends with:
How much should you value a great clubhouse presence over talent and production? Is it overrated or underrated? The Dodgers seem to have great team chemistry right now, and Chase Utley is a large reason why. Is his presence more important than the guys who are producing? Do you risk angering your star players and disrupting the mood of the team by taking Utley off the 25-man squad?
Rich Hill Update:
The problematic blister – now callous – on the middle finger of Rich Hill’s pitching hand will never be completely out of mind. But something else will step to the forefront when he takes the mound for another rehab start on Tuesday.
“That’s kind of a little bit of the message,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of his discussion with Hill after the left-hander’s most recent bullpen session Saturday afternoon. “If you’re one start away from getting a major-league start, you’ve got to get guys out. I was pretty clear.”
The pad on his middle finger has toughened up thanks to a regimen of Stan’s Rodeo Rub (an ointment created by former Dodgers trainer Stan Johnston) and wearing a bandage during some throwing sessions.
“The finger is holding up great,” Hill said after Saturday’s bullpen session. “I think it’s just getting repetitions and pitching. It’s been ‘How much is too much? How much is too little?’ I think it’s great now. The finger has been great. The results weren’t what I was looking for. But the quantity of pitches and everything was something I can look at and say I’m ready to go.”
Roberts has said “if all goes well” in his rehab start Tuesday, Hill would be ready to rejoin the rotation. The left-hander has the same timetable in mind.
Minor League Report
OKC – 5-1 winners over Round Rock (Texas) – Justin Masterson went 5.2 IP and no runs/6 hits/2 BB/6K. Willie Calhoun got his 4th HR, and Drew Maggi had a two hit night. Trayce Thompson had another hit bringing his average up to .103. Hopefully he is gaining confidence by the AB. Jair Jurrjens takes the bump today for the Dodgers.
Tulsa – 6-0 winners over Springfield (Cardinals) – Scott Barlow pitched 6 innings of 1 hit shutout ball. Karch Kowalczyk and Chris Powell finished up the 2-hit shutout. Mike Ahmed had 3 hits while Kyle Garlick had 2, including his 7th HR.
Great Lakes – 8-4 Winners over Peoria (Cardinals) – Devin Smeltzer went 4.1 IP, giving up 4 Runs/5 hits/1 BB/10 K. Brendon Davis and Carlos Rincon each had two hits. Davis had 2 doubles, giving him 10 on the year, while Rincon got his 8th HR. AJ Alexy throws today for the Loons.
RC Quakes – Lost to Inland Empire (Angels) 13-4 – DJ Peters and Luke Raley each had 2 hits, with Erick Mejia getting his 1st HR. Yadier Alvarez goes today for the Quakes.
— Minor League Report compliments of Always Compete