Some first week observations: It is obvious that the Dodgers offense misses JT; the one clutch hitter in the lineup. The only offense thus far is Yasmani Grandal. Without any concrete evidence, it is my opinion that the Owings HR off of Jansen with two outs in the 9th on the Monday game against the DBacks had a negative impact on the Tuesday and Wednesday games.
- The Dodgers have been shut out in three of the seven games, and scored one run in a fourth.
- Right or wrong this is a team that is built on power, and the offense can count THREE HR’s for the season.
- The team lead in RBI’s is 3 (Kike’, Grandal, and Bellinger).
- The only players with more hits than strikeouts is Seager (5 hits, 4K), Barnes (3 hits, 1K), and Joc (2 hits, 0 K).
- The lead-off hitter has 1 BB and 9 K.
- While I can appreciate Puig’s improvement, he is not yet a #3 hitter.
- While Kemp is not a deterrent, he is also not a difference maker.
- Kenley Jansen is an enigma. Is he just not properly prepared for the season or is he hurt?
- Scott Alexander is just what he has always been…a ground ball pitcher without control.
- Pedro Baez is still…well Pedro Baez.
- Ryu should have 5 more starts through May to establish himself as a starter in the rotation. I am not optimistic about Ryu. Another pitcher without control. Buehler should be ready by June.
- Both Kershaw and Wood deserved better results. The Dodgers have scored one run total in their two starts combined. Wood has yet to yield a walk.
As bad as the offense has been for the first week, it is possible but doubtful, that Toles would have made a difference.
I have no objection to the lack of free agent signings for the Dodgers because of the luxury tax concerns. However, trades are a different story. I made a comment at the time that even though the Astros won the WS they did not stand pat and improved their rotation with Gerrit Cole. The cost was Joe Musgrove, Michael Feliz, Colin Moran, and Jason Martin. Musgrove and Feliz are on the roster, although Musgrove is on the 10 day DL, and Moran is the Pirates #8 prospect and Martin is the #22 prospect. Of that group, only Moran figures to be a potential difference maker, while Musgrove should be solid at the back end of the rotation. It is hard to come up with a comparable package, but I am certain that the Dodgers could have put something together. Gerrit Cole’s salary would not have been a problem with the luxury tax, especially if the Dodgers could have moved Ryu and his contract.
Another starting pitcher that would not have been a problem with the luxury tax, and would have been an upgrade over Ryu, was Jake Odorizzi. The Twins traded 21 year old SS Jermaine Palacios for Odorizzi. Palacios has been assigned to Charlotte Stone Crabs (Florida State League – High A), but is not yet on the active roster. Palacios is a true lottery pick. Is Omar Estevez a similar prospect? Perhaps an upgrade? If so, I would have made the trade of Estevez for Odorizzi, and tried to move Ryu to offset the Odorizzi contract.
I was an advocate for another Rays’ pitcher…reliever Brad Boxberger. Boxberger cost the DBacks their #12 prospect, 22 year old 6’ 6” RHSP, Curtis Taylor. While Taylor is a step up from a lottery pick, he is not one of the Rays top 30 prospects. Could the Dodgers have traded Trevor Oaks for Boxberger? If not, how about Jordan Sheffield? Boxberger was and is an upgrade over Alexander.
The Yankees were in the 2017 ALCS with arguably a better farm system than the Dodgers and yet they traded for Giancarlo Stanton and Brandon Drury, and signed FA Neil Walker to replace Starlin Castro.
The Dodgers certainly have the prospects to make a deadline trade, but the cost is always more at that time because the demand is greater than the supply, and I do not see a big increase in the players who may be available that will be difference makers.
One final observation for the first week…while I like the Valera for Mieses trade, I think I am growing wearisome of the endless roster accumulation of utility players. Valera is in a long line of utility players like Locastro, Peter, Jackson, Mora, Robinson… Can’t FAZ find and settle on a solid 2B only or a 3B only prospect? They are good at uncovering utility players, and hitters who do not have defensive positions (Calhoun, Rios, and Beaty). Just an observation, not a criticism.
Everything went right for the Dodgers last year. Will that mojo work again in 2018? 7 games does not a season make, or define a trend. As a Dodger fan, I have to believe that they will still win 90 – 95 games and make the playoffs, if not win the division. I just do not think it will be as easy as was 2017. In 2013 it was Puig who was promoted and jump started the Dodgers in June. Last year it was Bellinger and CT3 who came up and jump started the Dodgers. Will this year be Verdugo? Toles? Buehler? All three? We got 155 games to go for a team that does not generally have good Aprils. The offense has not been pretty, but it is certainly not a prelude of coming attractions.
MINOR LEAGUE REPORT
OKC at Iowa Cubs
OKC split a doubleheader winning the first game 2-1 and losing the second 3-2 in extra innings. Walker Buehler pitched 4.0 innings in Game 1, allwing 1 run on 3 hits, 1 walk, and 5 K. Brian Schlitter followed Buehler to get the win while Pat Venditte got a hold and Joe Broussard got the save. Manny Banuelos started game 2 and pitched 4.0 innings, allowing 2 runs (1 earned), 1 walk, 3 K’s and 1 HR allowed. CC Lee, Adam Liberatore, and Daniel Corcino pitched innings 5-7 without a run. The new extra inning rule went into effect and with a runner starting out a 2B, Edward Paredes gave up two consecutive singles and the winning run in walk off fashion.
Offensively, 7 OKC hitters had a single hit in game one with Toles and Peter getting doubles and Muncy getting the first OKC. In Game 2, seven OKC hitters each had hits including Tim Locastro, Alex Verdugo and Travis Taijeron (dbl) who each had two hits. Verdugo went 3-8 in the twin bill.
Tulsa Drillers at Frisco RoughRiders (Texas Rangers)
Tulsa beat the RoughRiders 5-2. Dennis Santana went 4.2 innings allowing 1 run (HR) on 4 hits, 0 walks, and 7 K’s. Shea Spitzbarth followed with 2 strong shutout and hitless innings on 1 walk and 4 K’s to get the win. Corey Copping followed while Josh Sborz apparently assumed his new role as closer with 1 perfect inning (with 1 K) and the save.
Offensively, Errol Robinson hit a grand slam in the 4th followed by a single HR by Luke Raley for the 5 runs the Drillers scored. Angelo Mora had 3 hits including 2 doubles, while Luke Raley and DJ Peters got two hits each. Ruiz and Smith both played with Ruiz the DH and Smith the catcher. They both got hits.
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes vs.Visalia Rawhide (DBacks)
The Quakes lost 11-9 to the Rawhide. Dean Kremer started for RC, went 3.1 innings, allowed 6 runs, 6 hits, 2 BB, 4K, and took the loss. Kremer was followed by Parker Curry (1.2 IP), Stetson Allie (1.0 IP), and Ryan Moseley 2.0 IP). Combined they allowed 5 more runs on 8 hits, 3 walks, and 7 K’s.
Offensively, Omar Estevez, Cristian Santana, and Connor Wong each had two hits. Estevez, Santana, and Landon each had doubles, and Wong hit his 1st HR of the year. Gavin Lux, Jeren Kendall, and Donovan Casey each went hitless with Casey striking out 3 times leaving 6 runners stranded.
Lansing Lugnuts (Blue Jays) vs. Great Lakes Loons
The Loons dropped the game 11-1, while getting only 2 hits by CF Brayan Morales (single) and catcher Ramon Rodriguez (double). Max Gamboa started, went four innings, and took the loss. The sole Loons pitcher with bragging rights was Aneurys Zabala who struck out 6 of the 7 batters he faced. Zabala was the lottery pick included with Drew Jackson in the Chase De Jong trade. He throws extremely hard, and it might be fun to see how much he may progress this year.
Offensively, the Loons struck out 15 times including the first three hitters, Brandon Montgomery, Romer Cuadrado, and Starling Heredia three times each.