Rich Hill: Reason to Believe

Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reported yesterday that Alex Verdugo showed up late to Nationals Park on Friday, after the team already had its daily hitters meeting.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he didn’t learn of Verdugo’s tardiness until he was heading out to the field for the workout but would “address it” with him. General Manager Farhan Zaidi is on this trip with the team and said the same thing.

“I haven’t spoken to him yet so I don’t know his explanation,” Zaidi said. “But I plan to speak with him.”

Somebody had already spoken to Verdugo. Almost immediately after his late arrival, the young outfielder was approached by veteran left-hander Rich Hill, who dressed down the September call-up in front of his locker.

“That’s the way it should be,” Roberts said of the veteran’s initiative.

Not only is Rich Hill a valuable part of the pitching rotation, but he is a valuable part of the clubhouse culture, as shown by his “dressing down” young Alex.  That is exactly what makes a cohesive team:  Vets being there to mentor the youngsters.  Rich Hill is an effusive guy who is loved by his teammates, but most of all, he is respected for what he has accomplished and all that he has overcome. Rich Hill, along with Clayton Kershaw is one of the hardest workers on the team.  He arrives early and stays late and appreciates what he has worked hard for.

Sometimes we take stuff like that for granted, but I can tell you that in my own life I see the value of it every day. As the CEO and elder statesman in my own company, I see how some young people think they know it all and sometimes you have to jolt them back to reality. Several weeks ago, we had a nice young man in our warehouse who was late two or three times a week.  His supervisor had talked to him and was ready to fire him, so I said “let me talk to him first“.  I called him into my office and told him this:

“______, I have you here to talk about your repeated lateness. [He started to say something] This is the part where you shut up and listen to me. You have a great future here, but you might not be around to see it because you are going to get fired because you can’t show up on time.  How dumb is that?  I like you.  I want you to be here.  I want to see you climb the ladder, but I will fire your ass if you can’t show up on time. That’s all I have to say.  I don’t need any response from you.  Just show up, step up and shut up.  I’m not going to talk about this again.  Are we clear?”

He has never been late i the past 3 weeks, and I make it a point to talk to him everyday as I walk through the warehouse. He shows up, steps up and shuts up.  Maybe young Alex needed the exact same thing. Good on Rich Hill for talking to him.  Encounters like that can make a career.

Rich Hill is a vocal guy who is not afraid to call a young player out.  I don’t think Adrian Gonzalez or Andre Ethier is comfortable doing that. Chase Utley doesn’t do it just like that – it’s more by example.  Justin Turner is inclined to do it but not to the extent that Rich Hill did it.  In just his second season with the Dodgers, Rich Hill may very well be the Mayor of the Dodgers Clubhouse… and who is better to do that than Rich Hill?  He’s the guy who runs the clubhouse?  Yes, I think so.

Rich Hill’s value to the Dodgers is much greater than what he does on the mound.  Rich Hill gives me reason to believe that this 2017 version of the LA Dodgers can win it all.

Rants and Raves

  • Grant Holmes had a nice game as he threw 6⅓ innings and gave up 3 runs (2 earned) , 4 hits and 3 BB, as the Drillers lost to the RockHounds (the series is tied 2-2. Grant is still only 21 and still has a shot at the majors.  He made some progress this year, pitching 148 innings with a 4.49 ERA and 1.416 WHIP.  He could be an inning-eating #5 starter yet!
  • Yadier Alvarez got the loss as he pitched 4.1 innings, giving up 4 runs, 5 hits and 2 BB while fanning 1.  He had better figure out something over the winter.  I see him dropping out of the Top 100 MLB prospects and maybe out of the Dodgers Top 20… certainly the Top 10.  What talent he is squandering.  Rich Hill should “dress him down!”
  • Sunday Night Baseball – Ryu vs. Strasburg on ESPN as the Dodgers go for the sweep of the Nats.
  • Can the Dodgers just turn it back on?”  Asked and answered!  I was listening to MLB Radio yesterday and the announcers who were former players thought the Dodgers losing streak came at an opportune time and it really didn’t mean much.  They cited case-after-case where teams played good or bad at the end of the season and how it really meant nothing. It’s what you do in the playoffs.  Jody McDonald said “When you walk into the Dodgers Clubhouse, it’s different from most teams.  You sense immediately that they have unfinished business.  This season means nothing.  They are playing for that Championship Trophy!”
Rich Hill Image Courtesy of Sports Illustrated

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 42 Comments

  1. I love to see what Hill did. Players respect fellow players. If they do not, they will not be there long. I had a problem when I was coaching HS basketball. I talked to my three captains. They said they would handle it. I do not know what they said, but the problem went away. That same group of kids won the state title in 1974. I believe JT and Kershaw would of done the same thing.

  2. Idaho Al and Rudy Bird. Your posts are always held in moderation. I am trying to figure out why? I have to mark that they are not spam.

    I suggest that you re-register under a slightly different name, like Idaho_Al and a new password. You Have to Log out first.

    Rudy, maybe you become Rudy_Bird

    That way I don’t have to moderate your comments. Just the first one.

  3. I agree that Rich Hill is the perfect guy for that role. What he has overcome by hard work, he has earned the respect of his teammates, and who better to tell a kid with as much potential as Verdugo seems to have, to respect the game and the team by at least showing up on time. Verdugo is talented by immature and a good “dressing down” just might be what he needed.
    .
    Many on here may get tired of me bringing up my son, but this one but home. My son never had the ability that Alex Verdugo has. But he was never ever late, and usually the first one there to get extra BP. Not only at the major league level but also in the minors. In rookie ball at Batavia, he and Randy Wolf lived across the street from the stadium so they would never have an excuse for being late. That carried over to all levels. He had coaches come in early for BP when he was in slumps. When he finally got to Boston it took Johnny Damon and Kevin Millar to pull him away on an off day so he would not be at the park. Those two and Manny were his “fun guys”. But his mentor was Nomar as a lot of Varitek. So when I see a guy with as much talent as Verdugo seemingly take this life for granted, it is hard to figure. I think that is why I had as many issues with Puig. My son played with a broken hand, 2 torn meniscus, 2 concussions, and finally ruptured his plantar fascia running out a ground ball, basically ending his career. So while I am glad to be wrong about Puig, I hope Verdugo learns from this. There were players with as much as if not more talent than my son, but none worked as hard, and he has a deserves his WS ring. Alex could learn from him.

    1. AC

      I think most people feel the way you feel, when it comes to players, not taking advantage of their God given talent, that they have been given!

      And I don’t agree with Mark about Agone, because Agone has done more then anyone, to try to get Puig right!

      And Agone has tried to help Puig, from the very beginning.

      It wasn’t to long ago, that I read an article, where Puig gave Agone the credit he deserves, for being there, for Puig!

      And that wasn’t close to the first article I have read, where Puig has given Agone, this type of credit!

      Puig said he never always listened to what Agone was saying, but he said that Agone has been there for him, from the very beginning, like I just said!

      Agone does these type of things, in the club house, and places, that are not always, in the public view!

      And you have to remember Agone did this, when a lot of the players on the team, didn’t appreciate the things that Puig did, on and off the field, so Agone was still there for Puig, when that was not the popular thing to do!

    2. And it’s not just the God-given talent that some squander and take for granted – it’s the opportunity. Many never get the opportunity for one reason or another. That’s why we love stories like Mike Piazza’s. He made the most of an opportunity that he almost didn’t receive and made the most of it. I always love to hear of anyone who works that hard to take advantage of the talent and opportunity that they have.

      Some figure it out late – Verdugo is too young to write off yet.

      I am not yet ready to concede that the problems that the Dodgers had during the horrible streak are solved. One thing that Roberts has stated is that it all starts with the starting pitching. Kershaw, Darvish, Wood and Hill have all had good starts so they won all of those games. During their incredible 3 month run, it didn’t matter if the starters pitched well – they usually figured out a way to win anyway.

      I will be convinced that they are “back” when they grind out some tough wins, come from behind, and the offense is hitting on all cylinders. Lately, too many hitters aren’t hitting. They have a giant black hole in LF, Grandal isn’t hitting at all, and 2B has usually been bad too. Seager has lost his power stroke and Taylor is looking tired. They need to get it ALL together again before the post-season. The last 4 games have been a good start – can they recapture the magic of May – July?

  4. AC: ” Verdugo is talented but immature”…. my point and contention all along about Verdugo, and the reason I would have traded him for JD Martinez for this year’s WS run.
    .
    Maybe Hill’s dressing down will get thru to this kid but my guess is we haven’t seen the last of his issues…he’s not even a rookie yet – just a September call up. If he can turn his thinking and attitude around and have a winning prescence like AC’s son, then Verdugo may become a household name player. Otherwise his auspicious beginnings will likely go down in flames over the next few years.

  5. Oh my gosh.
    .
    Verdugo is 21. TWENTY-ONE.
    .
    Let’s not rush to judgement here people.
    .
    I’m sure most of us weren’t fully mature and wise at 21.

  6. On April 22, I wrote this:

    Cody Bellinger is a future star, and can play the OF or 1B. I think he can play 1B better than A-Gon right now. He has more range and a special glove. He can even play CF, but I don’t think he can play it on the MLB level EVERY day… maybe on occasion.

    Alex Verdugo has amazing hand-eye coordination – I have always compared him to Tony Gwynn (maybe) but he does have some possible character issues. To me, that is the only thing that can hold him back. He has been playing some CF in OKC, but he is slower than Bellinger. Scouts say he has “fringe-average speed.” I don’t see any way he can play CF for the Dodgers. He does have a cannon arm and profiles as a RF.


    As much as I would have liked to have J.D. Martinez, I would not have traded Verdugo for 2 months of him. DR and DDM would and they may be right – time will tell. Just to clarify, his problems have been because his dad meddled a lot into coaches business and probably helped him feel “entitled.” He has never been a troublemaker, but has had an attitude of entitlement.

    It’s a risk, but if he can play up to his ability, the Dodgers have their leadoff hitter for at least the next 6 years. The way to sustain winning is by a constant flow of talent from the farm. I know Verdugo’s attitude is a risk, but I think it’s worth the risk and believe Alex will overcome it. He will grow out of it ands into a superstar.

    He’s wasn’t busted beating his girl or smoking dope… he was late… and that can be fixed.

    This lineup would have been outstanding THIS year, but no way JD signs here:
    1. Taylor
    2. Seager
    3. Turner
    4. Bellinger
    5. Martinez
    6. Puig
    7. Grandal
    8. Forsythe

    I’d rather have this one for several years:
    1. Verdugo
    2. Seager
    3. Turner
    4. Bellinger
    5. Taylor
    6. Puig
    7. Toles
    8. Barnes/Grandal/Kay Bear

    Alex is a guy who can hit .330 with 40 doubles. That’s huge!

      1. Puig stays in RF – he’s the best there is. Toles to CF. Taylor to 2B.

        Verdugo doesn’t have the speed to play everyday in CF.

        1. I hope Verdugo does come around and develop a good attitude and become a great Dodger leadoff hitter. Glad to see you have come around on Puig, seems maybe AC has also.

  7. AC, I love stories about your son. My son was a good pitcher. He had a college scholarship. At the end of his HS career he had a shoulder operation and that ended his career.

  8. Tulsa faces Midland for Game #5 in the Texas League Championship. Dennis Santana goes to hill for his second Game 5 start in the playoffs. Let’s hope this Game #5 will be as good as his last one….7 strong innings, 0 runs, 3 hits, 2 BB, and 11 K for the win.
    .
    Keibert Ruiz is the starting catcher and batting #7, while DJ Peters is batting 9th and starting in CF.
    .
    Midland is going for the 4th straight Texas League Championship.
    .
    Here’s hoping the Drillers have a great game and bring home a championship.

      1. I’m approving it. It’s not working. I will try and figure out why it doesn’t like you.

        It’s not personal.

        Glitch!

  9. I’m interested to see what the Dodgers do against good pitching. It has been weeks since the Dodgers hit a good pitcher. At least the Pirates series.

  10. Adam, it is hard for me to reveal who he is, but I have certainly provided enough hints that some of you could have figured it out. Mark does know who he is. I was pretty open about it when my son was playing in the Phillies organization, and some of the fans were absolutely brutal. It’s one thing to sit in stands and hear nasty things about your son (or daughter), but it’s another to have bloggers rip him. This is why I have a problem when certain players are called trash, dumpster dive refugees, horrible, poor excuse for a baseball player, and those were kind when compared to some of what my son was called (Philly fans are great). I left the blog to never return. Fans absolutely have the right to say what they want, but they should know that family members may be reading. I do know that minor leaguers do read blogs, so that is why I like to write about them, always being positive. Most will never make it, but they should at least be acknowledged for what they do accomplish.
    .
    After the season, during the dead periods (between the Dodgers WS victory and the Winter Meetings), I may accidently let it out. I am very proud of what he did accomplish, and it does help me form my thoughts when I write about specific players.

  11. I may call Yasiel Puig a knucklehead, but it is all in fun. I never question his talent. Shoot, I call my son a knucklehead on certain days… because on some days he is!

    Several years ago, I called Jason Repko a “bum” and his father called me out. I apologized because most of us have no clue what level of commitment and hard work it takes to get to the majors. AC’s son will not be in the HOF, but he has a world series ring and that is very cool.

    Over the years, lots of players families have read this blog. I won’t name them but they were here. The Dodgers front office reads this blog (and probably does the opposite of what I say). How do I know? I KNOW! Actually, they read all the blogs.

    I am a fan with a blog… not a journalist!

  12. Dodgers are idiots. Zimmerman hits a high fastball for a HR. Why don’t we give him one more to see if he can truly hit a high fastball. Yep, he can. Two HR’s on identical pitches. Slow learners.

    1. Stripling seems to struggle with that pitch. He needs to get it up higher at his velocity. Ravin just isn’t very good. The Dodgers threw in the towel at that point. Buehler’ s stuff is impressive. Can’t walk guys with two outs but a bit off bad luck too with the defensive positioning. It took Granderson forever to get to that ball.

      My concern is the lack of hitting. I really can’t remember when the Dodgers last got to a good pitcher. I guess you could count Cueto but he’s having a bad year. Gerrit Cole maybe, but he’s having a down year too.

  13. Observations:
    1 – Buehler – has great stuff but not ready for prime time. The 2 out walk. the 3 bounced pitches and WAY inside stuff, – he needs seasoning
    2 – No to Ravin please
    3 – Dodgers’ offense still in the doldrums. Something like 1 for 10 with RISP
    4 – Strasburg better than Dodgers’ #2
    5 – I would love to see Ethier get the chance to be LF. I’m not sold on Granderson or any of the cast of 1000’s that they run out there
    6 – Ryu – looked great but then an 9 pitch walk to the pitcher? That one AB set up the loss for the Dodgers. Then the walk to Turner, the early hook lead to the exposure of the bullpen and that didn’t go well
    7 – Nats are tough. No easy matchups in the post-season in the NL

    1. Rick

      They should have went out to Ryu to give him some rest, after he walked the pitcher.

      This is something they also need to keep in mind, if Kershaw has an issue, in the post season too.

    2. It looked like Buehler got squeezed on the first or second pitch of the walk. Don’t know if that messed him up but his next 3 pitches we no where close. That’s part of the learning process for him but I would have no problem with them putting him on the post season roster. Who do you have more faith in at the moment – Buehler or Baez?

  14. 1- Our bull-pen continues to give up HRs at an alarming rate. That can’t continue in the post season.
    2- Granderson was 9-78 since coming to the Dodgers. Thats .115. Thats like playing with 8 and throwing in an out.
    3- Grandal got a hit tonight to break a 20something hitless streek. Thats like playing with 8 and throwing in an out.
    4- When you add the pitcher’s spot, that throws in another out. With 3 almost certain outs in your lineup you can’t expect to score many runs.
    The Nats have a great team it is going to take everything we have if we meet them in the playoffs. We need to fill the black holes.

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