Stepping Stone or Stumbling Block?

Do you remember when Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi started hoarding a bunch of “health challenged” starting pitchers? Everyone was beside themselves and complained ad nauseum about how these guys were “going to break down“, “you can’t count on them” and then “they don’t pitch deep enough into games?”  The Dodger starters are still the number one staff in baseball.  That worked out pretty good, didn’t it? In fact, I would bet a dollar to a donut that a bunch of other GM’s imitate that method starting this offseason.  Many fans pointed to San Francisco as to ouw to build a winning pitching staff with The Shark, Cueto and Moore being acquired.  That plan was scrapped long ago.

A couple of days ago, I said that the losing streak was deliberate and just to clarify, I did not say that the Dodgers were deliberately throwing games.  No, they were not trying to lose, they were just auditioning players and resting players for the playoffs. They were so far ahead that the games meant nothing and so they took their foot off the accelerator and coasted while trying players in different roles.  It was like Spring Training: They weren’t throwing games, but they weren’t trying to win either.  Maybe they thought they would play .500 ball, but the results were disastrous.  They have lost 16 out of 17 games, including 11 in a row.

Here’s the big question:  What that the wrong thing to do?  Most every fan will say YES!  But most fans were wrong about how acquiring blind, crippled and crazy injury-prone pitchers would play out.  Maybe this plays of that the Dodgers got a mental break, regrouped in time to win the playoffs and World Series… or maybe they will just crash and burn. History will be the judge.  The day of reckoning is soon.

Many fans wanted FAZ fired for their choices in acquiring injury-prone pitchers.  The Dodgers Front Office was openly ridiculed by a huge majority of the fanbase… only to see the Dodgers put up one of the greatest hot streaks EVER.  Those injury-prone pitchers all played a part:

  • Alex Wood
  • Rich Hill
  • Brandon McCarthy
  • Scott Kazmir (OK, he didn’t)
  • Kenta Maeda
  • Brandon Morrow

Some of them may breakdown yet, but the depth is still there to withstand the storm.

Maybe, just maybe, this becomes the new paradigm of how to handle a team when they have an insurmountable lead.  As harshly as Roberts and FAZ have been ridiculed for the losing streak (and me for even having the gall to suggest such heresy), this may be a roadmap to success… or it could lead to disaster. We don’t even have a clue.  If the players understand what was going on, the loose mean nothing.  I sensed a change of attitude last night, although Granderson at the top of the lineup was boneheaded!

No one knew what type of success FAZ would achieve when they signed those “injury-prone” pitchers.  It didn’t make sense.  That’s not how it has always been done… AND YET, IT WORKED.

Maybe this losing debacle is of the same ilk! I think Doc is starting to put his foot back on the accelerator.  I get why they want Granderson in the lineup, but it’s not working with him at #1 or #2.  Bat him #8 if you want him to play.  According to Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com, Doc is just about ready to settle on a regular lineup:

“We have a lot of good players we’re still evaluating,” he said. “When you have the lead that we had, you can prioritize in health and trying to keep guys sharp versus trying to win every single game. But the challenge is keeping the sharpness and, obviously, we haven’t been sharp. I expect us to turn it around with a core group. The positions we’re talking about, anyone can debate who is that right person.”

Roberts acknowledged his club’s confidence “is probably wavering a little bit.” He said he expected the last-place Giants “to bring their best” against the Dodgers.

“I’d like to think it’s cause for us to dig a little deeper to beat these guys,” he said.

I don’t think it’s a theory that this losing streak was unintentionally, intentionally created – it was!  The question is:  How do they recover – it is a stepping stone or stumbling block?

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 57 Comments

  1. Well, it’s time for the great experiment of a deliberate losing streak to end.
    .
    It’s time to sit Granderson. After all Doc is sitting Pederson. The first one to lay down a bunt with the shift on wins the job.
    .
    It’s time to sit AGon until the Division has been clinched, and then let him audition for a playoff PH role.
    .
    It’s time to see if #16 still has a little magic in that bat.
    .
    It’s time to let Austin Barnes platoon at Catcher and 2B. That means…
    .
    It’s time to put Chase Utley in his PH role, until home field is won. He is on the playoff roster.
    .
    It’s time to set in stone Taylor, Seager, JT, Bellinger, Puig at 1-5 in the lineup until home field is won. Yes, even I beleive that Puig is the best #5 choice on this team.
    .
    It’s time to end the thought of bringing in Ravin or Baez in meaningful situations. Neither should be booed, but neither should be in winnable games.
    .
    It’s time to bring Jansen in the 6th, 7th, and 8th to stop threats.
    .
    It’s time to see if Ryu is a legit bullpen option. It’s time to see if his shoulder can handle back to back games.

    It’s time to see if Avilan and/or Paredes belong as LHRP on the post-season roster.
    .
    It’s time to see if Tony Cingrani is truly a legit LHRP option. It’s time to see if his last ten games are a true reflection or a mirage. He allowed 1 run in a lost game (8-1 loss to Colorado) in those ten games after 9.1 shutout innings in his previous 9 games.
    .
    It’s time to see if Darvish’s revised delivery is effective, or let him go back to what he did against the Mets.
    .
    It’s time to see if Alex Wood is healthy enough to start, or if he should move to the pen to finish the season. And that’s coming from his biggest fan outside of his teammates and family. MORE IMPORTANTLY…
    .
    It’s time to win!!! Beat the Giants!!!

  2. Well said AC. Hindsight is always 20/20 but Granderson was a huge mistake, guy can’t hit at all. Getting Darvish at the deadline was necessary, but in hindsight we needed a BP rebuild. I think the Nats acquisition of Madsen, Doolittle and Knitzler will prove to be the BIG GET!

    What has been so painful during this stretch is very average line-ups and options Doc has. When you have to start Granderson over Joc and Verdugo you have to wonder if they are in the doghouse because Granderson doesn’t offer anything more than they do.

    Ravin…meh Baez….meh.

    1. Some players seem to wilt in Hollywood. I didn’t think Granderson would, but he has.

      Would you like to have this guy in your outfield?

      .315 BA
      .364 OB%
      .847 OPS
      30 Doubles
      3 Triples
      13 HR
      79 RBI

      Ladies and Gentlemen, Josh Reddick! Houston Astro’s RF’er.

      1. That’s one guy who couldn’t take the heat of a big market team. Too bad. We could have used his stats this year.
        Grandy is another story. I really thought he had something left to offer but it seems he does not. Like the Lip said, “Nice guys finish last.”

      2. I’d rather have this guy:
        .294 BA
        .371 OBP
        1.037 OPS
        21 doubles
        3 triples
        37 HR
        85 RBI
        in only 371 AB

        He coulda’ been a Dodger – Dbacks LF JD Martinez

          1. JD says he would love to go back to Detroit. At any rate, the Dodgers will not be serious bidders or him. He will get a 5 year/Close to $100 million deal.

            The Dodgers have Puig, Taylor, Verdugo and Toles next year. They will ditch Pederson, Granderson, Thompson and Ethier. Pederson might bring back a prospect.It’s best that he move on.

            The Dodgers have a number of outfield prospects who are two years away, so they may try and build a bridge with a couple of vets. Would Andre Ethier take a 1-year/$6 Million dollar deal to end his career with the Dodgers?

            I could see them taking a flyer on a Melky Cabrera, Allen Craig… players of that ilk. The Dodgers won;t be big players in free agency this year. Next year is another story!

        1. Must be nice to have that direct line to FAZ to KNOW that the Dodgers could have acquired JD. I do hope that you will share all of your future discussions with them.

          1. I have no direct knowledge, but from what I read, FAZ said they would not trade Verdugo, Alvarez and Buehler. They were willing to trade Calhoun for a rental (Darvish), so I can only surmise that Detroit asked for one Verdugo or Buehler and FAZ countered with Calhoun. Detroit evidently didn’t want Calhoun or whatever else the Dodgers offered.

            It was reported that the Dodgers, Red Sox, and Diamondbacks are the three clubs that showed the most interest” in Martinez.

            MLB TRade Rumors reported that the Tigers have reportedly had interest in the likes of the Astros’ Derek Fisher and the Dodgers’ Alex Verdugo in recent months.

            At least one report had had J.D. Martinez going to the Dodgers for two right-handers, Dustin May and Josh Sborz. I am sure the Dodgers would have done that deal, and I am also certain that FAZ would have liked to prevented JD from going to AZ… unless someone thinks they are really stupid.

            Howard Cole, Bob Nightengale, JP Morosi and others linked Verdugo as the piece Detroit wanted for Martinez.

            I happen to think FAZ is pretty smart and knew the value of a RH bat like Martinez. They also understood the value of keeping him away from the D-Bags. I think they would have loved to have Martinez in LF, but just like they would not trade Seager, Urias and Bellinger, they would not trade Buehler and Verdugo. Thet’s where they drew the line in the sand. Right or wrong – that was the line they would not cross.

            JD did not go to the Dodgers, so that leads me to believe the Tigers would not accept less than Verdugo…and frequently, when deals fall apart it seems that GM’s turn another direction instead of capitculating to the other teams demands.

            Also, I have a scout friend who may or may not know, but that’s what he told me as well.

            Even Ray Charles might see that! 😉

            You never know what goes on in negioations, but Maybe Avila played hardball and said “Give me Verdugo or I’m taking the D-Bags offer.”

            I happen to believe the Dodgers would have beaten what the D-Bags offered, if given the opportunity.

          2. AC

            You know I love you, and respect you, but I do understand Rick’s frustration.

            Because he wanted JD badly, for this team.

            If they didn’t wait to see if Joc would hit once again, we would have probably looked more into getting JD.

            But we were still winning, at the time, so I can’t blame the front office, for not going after JD.

            And we only got Granderson at the last moment, because Joc couldn’t hit!

            And this is the second time that the front office had to make a trade, because Joc wasn’t hitting!

            Unlike Reddick, and Granderson, JD will hit pitchers in the west or the east, or in the National League, because he is a very good hitter!

            I looked up his numbers, since he went to the Dbacks, and he has hit 21 HRs, since he went to the Dbacks, and he is hitting over 400 in September.

            So any Dodger fan would have loved to have this type of production, from a player, brought over to the team, at the trade deadline.

            And hopefully Roberts,, will eventually learn from the mistake he made with Reddick last year, and stop worrying about getting Granderson right, and do what is best for the team!

          3. MJ, I have no reservation that Rick wanted JD Martinez. Most on this site agreed with him that JD would be a great addition. The Dodgers were looking for a RH bat. The Tigers had the best one available. It seemed like a perfect fit. What I object to, is that wish lists and armchair GM trade scenarios morph into fact. Say it enough times and you beleive it yourself. Mark did a great job of encapsulating all of the trade discussions that transpired involving the Dodgers and the Tigers.
            .
            The Dodgers could have done better than what the DBacks traded. That is absolutely undisputed.
            But that is irrelevant. What is relevant is what the Tigers demanded. It may be that Al Avila does not like to trade with Farhan. I do know that certain GMs will not trade with certain other GMs/teams unless there is an absolute overpay. I have no idea if Avila and/or Zaidi have that kind of relationship. It may be that Avila was upset the Dodgers would not trade Verdugo for Kinsler in the off-season. None of us know.
            .
            The Tigers wanted middle infielders. The Dodgers do not have that many high quality middle infielders, which is why Chase De Jong was traded for Drew Jackson in the off-season. But without looking too hard the Dodgers could have more than matched Dawal Lugo (22) (AA), Sergio Alcantara (21) (A+), and Jose King (18) (Rookie) with Erick Mejia (22) (AA), Omar Estevez (19) (A+), and Jefrey Souffront (20) (Rookie). That package would have been better than what Arizona traded, but there is no way in knowing what Avila was looking for. Could Gavin Lux have been inserted somewhere in that package? Nobody knows, except the two front offices. So IMO to say the Dodgers could have had JD Martinez is not true. To say the Dodgers could have put a package together better than what Arizona offered is accurate, but it means nothing if the Tigers only wanted a trade from the Dodgers that included Alex Verdugo, which is what many with more access to the power brokers than me have indicated.

        2. Rick

          I was watching the Dback, Rockie game last night, and I thought of you, because of what JD has done.

          I looked up his numbers, since he was traded to the Dbacks, and he would have been great protection, for Cody in the line up.

          And he is truly a hitter, but a hitter, that also his a lot of balls out!

          He has hit 21 HRs, since he has played for the Dbacks!

          1. AC

            I wasn’t thinking that deeply, into this.

            I was just saying that I understand Rick’s frustration.

            But I guess I understand everyone’s frustration right now, too.

            I never get into those different trade senarios, that much.

            Like I said, I don’t blame the front office about JD, because we were winning at the time.

            And they were hoping Joc would hit, so that is why they didn’t go after JD.

            And no one on this earth, ever thought this team would fall this far down, and lose 13 of the last 14 games, or is it 14 of the last 15 games?

            I guess this constant losing, and Roberts constantly playing Granderson, is causing a lot of this frustration.

            So I guess it is easy to wish we got a player that helped the team, as much as JD, has helped the Dbacks.

            I guess my above thoughts, is more what I meant.

      3. Mark

        It looks like Roberts didn’t learn, from the mistake he made last year, by playing Reddick over the other Dodger players.

        Roberts batted Reddick forth last year, for an entire month, and Reddick did nothing.

        And once again, Roberts is more concerned about getting Granderson right, then the team.

        Roberts might be waiting for a very long time, because Granderson has only hit 109, since the beginning of the second half..

        And Reddick’s numbers this season, doesn’t mean much, he has played in that western division for quite a while, so he is very familiar with all the pitchers, in that division.

        And that is probably why he has better stats this year.

        Forsythe also hit better in the division he was familiar with!

        Both of these players, are not really good hitters, and that is why they are not able to hit pitching, they are not familiar with!

        I like doing the math, over what we have to do now, it is hard to see those pictures on a phone, and this makes you do more busy work.

        At least with the math, it only took on answer.

  3. A few notes:
    Maeda always looks constipated after he give up a hit. Whereas we just look nauseous.

    I’m hoping I was wrong about Ethier’s bat speed and that he will play a big role off the bench during the playoffs. He and AGon would be a nice pair of hitters to have late in the game.

    Barnes need to play more. Maybe left field?? Why not…he seems versatile enough to play just about anywhere. Catcher, 2B, LF. He has the energy and speed the team needs.

    Yu will get it together by the playoffs. He has nasty stuff.

  4. Dave Robers, per Dodgers.com:
    ” Dave Roberts, his Dodgers in a historic tailspin, said this is the hardest stretch of his professional career. It didn’t get easier before Monday night’s game, as he defended in general an ever-changing lineup and in particular again starting outfielder Curtis Granderson, who is in a historic tailspin himself.
    “You see what you’ve got when you go through a tough time like this,” Roberts said.”

    So he’s playing a million guys to get out of an historic slump?

    “We have a lot of good players we’re still evaluating,” he said.”

    It’s 9/12 and they’re still evaluating players? They’ve played over 140 games and they don’t yet know who can do what?

    “Roberts acknowledged his club’s confidence “is probably wavering a little bit.” He said he expected the last-place Giants “to bring their best” against the Dodgers.”

    So he acknowledges that going 0 – 11 and losing 16 of 17 is hard on the confidence? Just the right thing to do before the post-season when teams like the ‘Backs, Nats and Indians are red hot.

    “He reiterated that he will soon settle on a set lineup with accommodations to a couple of positions where he will alternate depending on the opposing pitcher.”

    It’s about time.

      1. Interesting takes today, and I was most interested in what Roberts said:

        “We have a lot of good players we’re still evaluating,” he said. “When you have the lead that we had, you can prioritize in health and trying to keep guys sharp versus trying to win every single game. ”

        So there you have it, he was not really trying to win every game. Probably not trying to lose every game either but sports are a fine line between winning and losing. This is disrespecting the game, and his players. It is disrespecting the fans who buy tickets, pay to watch on TV, buy their gear and devote many hours of their lives. It disrespects the betting public which is a big industry (at least here) and all of the fantasy sports players who play season long leagues and daily money fantasy games. The NFL deals with it week 17 every year when many teams do not try to win and the league hates it. But every day for more than 2 weeks? Really?

        If that is his attitude then why not find other things to do until the playoffs start with my time and energy? I love the Dodgers but if they don’t care right now then why should I?

        1. I wouldn’t say the Dodgers are “trying” to lose any game. And I wouldn’t say they are disrespecting fans, betting public or anyone else..
          .
          What is the goal here, now and all year long? Going to the WS, any disagreement with that? So if the team recognizes that not every position is the very best it could be (as stated so often by so many), doesn’t it make sense that they are still and would be “evaluating players” at this time in an effort to increase the chance of achieving the “goal”?

          1. Roberts didn’t say they were trying to lose, he said they were not trying to win every single game. I have never seen a team take that approach with over a month to go in the season and frankly I am surprised he said it but it was obvious to anyone who follows the team that it was true. They are finding it more difficult than they thought to flip the switch back on. The West teams are enjoying a little pay back and the Dodgers are looking dazed and confused. Even Ray Charles can see that! If this is a new way to roll through the post season Roberts will be hailed as a genius, At this point in time it looks like an epic fail.

    1. I suggest Roberts should stop worring about Granderson, and start thinking about his young player’s confidence, and the team, that got us this nice lead!

      It is about time that Roberts learns from the mistake he made last year, when he stuck with Reddick, and never got the end result, he wanted!

  5. If Verdugo was untradeable then play him in LF or go with Ethier who is .300 hitter vs righties not a .210 hitter. Barnes needs to be in the lineup somewhere. Grandal looks like he did at the end 2015. Having said that, the starting pitching needs to step up. Maeda isn’t a clutch pitcher. When things get tough he wilts. Once there was a 3 hour delay, Ryu should have been getting ready to piggyback with Maeda instead of focusing on a 5 inning sim game this week. Frankly, I think Ryu is better pitcher than Maeda and I think Maeda would play better out of the pen than Ryu. I am glad that they’re scrapping the stupid 6 man rotation. Pitchers hate it and they’re rarely sharp when you mess with their schedule and routine.

    1. Hawkeye

      I am not sure that Ryu could do that, on such short notice.

      Honeycutt said that it takes Ryu a really long time, to get ready for his starts, and because of that, he is not a good candidate for the bullpen.

      But I thought they shouldn’t skip Ryu’s start, because he has been pitching so well, and that would mess with his command!

      And what I thought was true because Vegas’s posts of our pitcher’s eras, proves that Ryu has pitched really well.

      And that is why I was surprised with them going with Maeda, over Ryu.

      Maeda seems to not gut it out as well, in tough situations,like Ryu does.

      It just seems that I have seen Maeda give up hits, after he gets two outs, and he is almost out of a bad situation..

      Roberts said Ryu will be pitching against the Nats this weekend, but it would be better for Ryu to make a start before then, to keep sharp.

      And it would be better for the team, if Ryu would have started last night.

      But I am wondering if Maeda or his agent, said something about Maeda not getting enough innings to get paid, because as you know, his contract is based on incentives.

      1. With a three hour rain delay he had plenty of time to get lose. And prepare him to come in to start the 5th or 6th inning no matter what was going on. They piggybacked him earlier in the year and he was great.

  6. I forgot to mention the Pioneer League Southern Division Championship Series where the Ogden Raptors beat the Orem Owlz (Angels) to win the Southern Division. They will now face the Northern Division Champion, Great Falls Voyagers (White Sox), in a best 2 out of 3 Pioneer League Championship. The star of the game was 20 year old RF Romer Cuadrado who went 5-5 with a Grand Slam and double. Cuadrado is from Maturin, Venezuela, and is someone to watch for next year. Look for him at Great Lakes. Mitchell Hansen had 2 triples, and Donovan Casey had a single to account for the entire Raptor offense. Edwin Uceta, a 19 year old RHP from Villa Los Almacigos, D.R., started and went 5 innings, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits, 2 walks, and 4 strikeouts. The Championship Series starts Thursday in Ogden. Games 2 and 3 (if necessary) will be in Great Falls on Saturday and Sunday.
    .
    Tonight is Game 1 of the Texas League Championship series between the Tulsa Drillers and Midland RockHounds (Oakland). Mitch White draws the opening game start for the Drillers, while 24 year old RHP James Naile will start for the RockHounds. Naile pitched 61.2 innings for Midland, and compiled a 3.20 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. He had 17 walks and 42 strikeouts. While the Drillers Game 2 starter has not been named, Grant Holmes gets the start for Midland.

  7. Batting average in Sept:
    JT………………324
    Barnes……..313
    Kike………….294
    Ethier……….286
    AGon……….273
    Puig…………265
    Seager……..250
    Cody………..233
    Taylor………233
    Logan………200
    Verdugo….188
    Joc……………100
    Grandy…….097
    Utley………..079
    Grandal…..038

    ERA in Sept
    Stripling…0.00
    Ryu…………1.50
    Cingrani..1.59
    Watson….1.69
    Jansen……3.00
    Hill………….3.27
    Kersh……..3.72
    Avilan…….3.86
    Maeda……4.50
    Stewart….5.06
    Fields……..5.40
    Morrow…5.40
    Wood…….7.36
    Ravin……..9.82
    Darvish..12.27
    Parades..13.50
    Buehler…15.43
    Baez………20.25

  8. Tonights lineup:
    Taylor-CF
    Seager-SS
    Turner-3B
    Belly-1B
    Puig RF
    Granderson-LF
    Grandal-C
    Utley-2B
    Kershaw

    At least G & G are lower in the order.

    1. So let’s start 3 guys hitting .097, .079 and .038 in Sept to shake things up! The definition of insanity.

      1. Vegas

        Both Nomar and Hairson, said that they would play Ethier, over Granderson.

        They also said they didn’t get that, especially when the Dodgers are losing this way.

        Granderson has hit 109 since the begining of the second half of the season, so I don’t think Roberts, is going to see him right!

        And both Jerry and Nomar, said maybe a few days off, would be better for Granderson anyways so he could clear his mind.

        When Roberts did this last year with Reddick, I was really upset.

        Because Toles had much better numbers, and a more RBIs.

        And both Nomar and Jerry said, they should to the same with Grandal, as a reset too!

  9. I don’t know if anyone posted this, but the Rangers finally brought Calhoun up to the big team.

    I guess the Rangers have had a lot of players injured, recently.

  10. Kershaw battling Giants, home plate ump and His defense tonight. He wasn’t too happy with Granderson earlier.

  11. Tulsa beat the Midland RockHounds in Game 1 of the Texas League Championship, 5-3. Mitch White pitched 5.0 innings, allowed 3 runs, 6 hits, 2 walks, and 3 strikeouts. He did allow a 2 run HR. Shea Spitzbarth, Corey Copping, and Daniel Corcino pitched the final 4 innings allowing 0 runs on 2 hits, 2 walks, and 6 strikeouts. White got the win, while Corcino got the save.
    .
    Offensively, Errol Robinson went 3-4, while Yusniel Diaz, Erick Mejia, and Drew Jackson each had 2 hits. Diaz and Jackson each had a triple in the victory.
    .
    Game 2 is tomorrow with Scott Barlow due to face Grant Holmes

    1. Sure seems like AA is where White belongs. He’s being challenged. He isn’t dominating but definitely holding his own.

  12. Dodgers trying to seize defeat from jaws of victory tonight.

    Anyone want to put money on outcome of tonight’s game?

  13. Great win – much needed & AZ lost as well.
    On the plane waiting to head off to Spain to play golf.
    28 of us for 5 days – so good to start with a Dodger win.
    Will try and keep up to date through my drunken haze.

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