Don’t Confuse Yourself!

I don’t know if this is where the ship turns around, but I have always said that this team has too much talent to fail very long.  This team is finally figuring out how to work the count and hit as a team… picking each other up.

Some of you think the Dodgers didn’t make wholesale moves over the winter because FAZ is from a small market and is not used to spending money like that.  If that floats your boat, then believe it… but it’s fiction.  What is not fiction and what many GM’s will tell you is that Andrew Freidman and Farhan Zaidi (FAZ) likely have a list of prospects that are untouchable, and there is no way they will trade any of them.

Whether that methodology works remains to be seen. Everyone had a great discussion yesterday on potential free agents signing next year.  For the record, I prefer Machado over Harper, but to me it depends upon the cost and duration of the contract.  There is rarely a correlation between BIG FAT LONG CONTRACTS and winning… maybe a correlation with losing! I am not sure that is the path to success. I do not believe the Dodgers were ever serious about Giancarlo Stanton… just my opinion.

What was the last big, long-term free-agent signing that resulted in sustained winning?  When a GM signs a player to a long-term $200 million plus contract, the likelihood is nearly 70% that it will be a bad deal. That Dodgers have been unwilling to move certain prospects is a given.  Who those prospects are, we can only guess, but I would think the list looks something like this:

  • Buehler
  • Ruiz
  • Verdugo
  • Dennis Santana
  • Dustin May
  • … an maybe more.

Maybe some of the players the Dodgers have traded (Montas, Holmes, Cotton, De Leon, et al) will become stars… but it hasn’t happened yet. FAZ absolutely did put the Dodgers in position to win in 2017… and they won until the very end as they fell one game short.  It’s not too much to expect for your Ace to be unhittable like Mad Bum was for the Giants, but Clayton was unable to do that.  It’s not too much to expect the best closer in baseball to be able to hold a lead, but Kenley didn’t. It was logical that Yu Darvish should have been at least average, not horrid,  in two World Series Games, but he wasn’t!

That’s not FAZ’s fault.  They absolutely delivered last year and those three stars let them and let the fans down.  DC nailed it when he mentioned that as the reason the Dodgers did not win the World Series.  Understand, it was not that FAZ did not get the players.  It’s that the players they counted on, did not deliver. By the way, Yu Darvish has a 6.00 ERA this year – I think he is still damaged goods – damaged between the ears.

Clayton Kershaw has been my favorite player for a long time.  Sandy Koufax used to be my guy, but Clayton has not delivered on the Big Stage… repeatedly.  Maybe the brass lets him walk. Maybe it’s time to turn that page and get another Ace who can be an Ace in the Biggest Games.  Forget Darvish!  If Kenley and Clayton had done their jobs, the Dodgers would be World Champs.

Many of you are frustrated because the Dodgers have not won a Series since 1988, but I am going to suggest that FAZ is part of the solution… not the problem. In 2016, if Clayton had pitched well against the Cubs in game 6, Rich Hill would have been in position to do what the Dodgers got him for in Game 7, but it was our Ace who let us down… again! Not FAZ! I can’t make any more excuses for Clayton.  He has to deliver!  PERIOD!

FAZ is not perfect.  They have made their share of bad deals.  Jeff Luhnow of the Astros had three straight years when he had the #1 overall draft pick in baseball, and all he has to show for it is Carlos Correa. He also took Mark Appel and Brady Aiken, who both proved to be horrid picks… but the Astros overcame it. FAZ has actually traded quite a few prospects, but whether they should have traded more remains to be seen.

Will Urias realize his great potential? Will Buehler be that #2 the Dodgers need? Will Verdugo be a batting champ who finally has power? Will Ruiz be an All-Star? Will Dennis Santana be a #3 or a closer?  The jury is still out, but the Dodgers do currently have 9 players on the 25-man roster who were not on it at the beginning of last season.  That’s not exactly “standing pat” but maybe you wanted Stanton and his $300 million dollar contract to go with his .210 batting average.  Maybe you think that $300 million dollar contract will defy the odds and be a good one.  Good luck with that!

I always saw the potential in Yasmani Grandal, but he has never harnessed it for long.  Right now, he is the Dodgers best hitter.  Can he keep it up?  I guess we will find out, but most fans suggest he should be traded.  I don’t get it. The Dodgers success rests squarely upon the shoulders of FAZ who has given them the players and if they need more, they will get them this year, but the pipeline is full of possible stars. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Where would the Dodgers be this year without Yasmani, who “took” his job back?

Justin Turner will be back in  a few weeks and all this will be forgotten.  I still maintain the Dodgers did not need to make many changes – the only change that needs to be made is that the players they have need to step up when required.  Are you listening Clayton and Kenley?

Rants and Raves

  • The Yankees and Dodgers have both vowed to get under the Luxury Tax and both have done it.  This has changed the whole contract landscape in baseball. Fans may not think it’s a big deal to be over the Luxury Tax Level, but the facts are twofold:
    1. High payrolls are not the path to the Series; and
    2. High payrolls lead to the Luxury Tax which is absolutely not a good utilization of assets and is felony stupid!  There is a better way.
  • Dave Roberts believes in Kike and so do I.  Confidence breeds confidence.  That’s why Doc has him where he is – I hope his trust proves to be warranted.
  • The Dodgers have a solid #5 starter in Ryu with a 2.97 ERA. Where would Darvish even slot on this team?
  • Alex Verdugo got stronger and better conditioned over the winter.  After hitting 6 HR last year all season, Verdugo now has 3 in his first 50 AB’s.  It appears he is finding his power.
  • Henry Ramos was 3-5 with 4 RBI and a walk-off single.  He is hitting .432 and OPS’ing 1.205.

Conner Wong

Someone asked about Conner Wong last week and of course, there are the usual places to find out info on him, such as Baseball America’s 2018 Prospect Handbook, where he is the Dodgers #18 Prospect:

Wong starred at shortstop as a freshman in Houston but moved to catcher for his sophomore season. His progression in two year behind the plate and a solid junior season that included 12 homers and 26 stolen bases convinced the Dodgers to draft him in the third round and sign him for $547,500.  Wong immediately went out to low Class A Great Lakes and took over as the Loons’ starting catcher.

Wong is in the same vein as organizational-mates Austin Barnes and Will Smith as plus athletes capable of catching or playing the infield.  He is a plus runner with above-average-to-plus arm strength and the athleticism to become and above-average receiver, although he needs work to get there due to his lack of experience. He can fill in at shortstop, third base and even the outfield as needed.  Wong has sneaky power and good plate discipline, but his lack of noticeable bat speed limits his overall offensive potential. 

The Dodgers believe Wong can become a plus defensive catcher as he gets more reps behind the plate, with enough bat to play everyday.

John Sickels of Minor League Ball does not rank him, but David Hood of TrueBlueLa wrote this:

A deep system of catchers did not stop the Dodgers from selecting Wong early in the 2017 draft. A prolific and versatile offensive force for the Houston Cougars as a junior, Wong brought much of that performance with him to Class-A Great Lakes, which should put him in an advanced placement to the California League in 2018.

Wong’s body type and athleticism fits the current trend of Dodger backstops seen in Austin Barnes and 2016 first rounder Will Smith. Small in stature but not lacking in athleticism, Wong was a threat on the basepaths in college and his agility and acumen should allow him to succeed as both a receive and potentially an infielder at times in pro ball.

Wong has a simple set up at the plate, with low hands and a toe tap for timing. Some upper body rigidity and swing length could lead to swing and miss issues down the road, but Wong could make up for it with power. His bat speed is above average for a catcher and he swings with enough uppercut to profile as a future flyball hitter at the big league level.

As mentioned, the Dodgers are deep in catchers and don’t face an immediate need for Wong’s services at the big league level. He could show more versatility in 2018 with occasional starts at second, but should be the primary catcher for Rancho Cucamonga. His present in-game power could see him have a big offensive season in the hitter-friendly California League.

Hood is a prophet because Wong is currently hitting over .340 and OPS’ing over 1.300 with 5 HR and 11 RBI. You can see him here:

Hood says he has “above average bat speed for a catcher” while BA Says:  “his lack of noticeable bat speed limits his overall offensive potential.”  I can’t see that he has a noticeable lack of bat speed. That’s something some scouts say about Edwin Rios as well, so I asked a scout who has seen both and his response was that Rios bat speed may be a problem, but that he saw nothing to lead him to believe that Wong’s bat speed was deficient.

I suspect that Wong may not stay at catcher, because of Grandal, Barnes, Smith and Ruiz being ahead of him, but maybe Ruiz gets moved. I think either player could handle 2B… or 3B.  Hood has Ruiz as the Dodgers #2 prospect and I would place him there as well.  That’s no knock on Verdugo,  just a vote of confidence on Ruiz.  This should be interesting in following the growth of Ruiz, Smith and Wong.

 

MINOR LEAGUE REPORT by AlwaysCompete

The Dodgers affiliates played yesterday and three more Dodger affiliate victories. OKC, Tulsa, and Rancho Cucamonga now reside at the top of their respective divisions.  RC tied for first with OKC and Tulsa alone at the top.

OKC Dodgers – 8-7 win over New Orleans Baby Cakes (Marlins)

This was the third consecutive come from behind walk off win for the Dodgers. It was their 8th consecutive win, and they remain 1.5 games up in the PCL American North.  Walker Buehler started and went 4.0 IP, allowing 3 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), 2 BB, and 5 K.  He was pulled after 4 innings after reaching 80 pitches.  While not really a concern, it is still something to watch…4 innings and 80 pitches.  20 pitches per inning is a bit much.  Buehler was relieved by Adam Liberatore who pitched 2.0 innings allowing 2 hits and 1 unearned run, 0 BB, and 2K.  C.C. Lee was touched up for the first time this season as he faced three batters and all reached base, 2 via a walk.  Joe Broussard relieved Lee with the bases loaded and got the double play grounder while 1 run scored, and got the third out without any additional run.  However in the 8th, SVS produced a 1 out single and came around to score.  The tying run scored from 3rd on a strike out caught stealing of 2B.  The run scored before the baserunner was ruled out in a run down between 1st and 2nd.

Pat Venditte was touched up with an unearned run in the 10th.  In their home half of the 10th, Travis Taijeron started at 2B in the new extra inning rule.  Tim Locastro reached 1B safely on a fielder’s choice, and Max Muncy singled to load the bases with nobody out.  Henry Ramos then singled to score both Taijeron and Locastro to win the game.

Offensively Max Muncy had a 4-5 night with a double. Henry Ramos went 3-5 with a double and 4 more RBI’s, Alex Verdugo went 2-4 with his 3rd HR, Donovan Solano went 3-5, Rob Segedin 2-5, and Tim Locastro 2-6.  Tim Locastro started in LF, giving him three different starting positions this year.  He has started in CF 4 times, 2B twice, and LF once.

As a team, OKC is now batting .331/.396/.485/.882. Individually, Andrew Toles is #2 in batting average at .462, with Donovan Solano #3 at .441, Henry Ramos #4 at .432, Travis Taijeron #10 at .409, and Tim Locastro #17 at .375.  Ramos is also #2 in RBI with 16.

 

Tulsa – 7-4 win over Midland RockHounds (A’s)

With the victory, the Drillers increased their lead to 2 games in the Texas League North. The story of this game was starting pitcher Dennis Santana who went 4.1 innings (73 pitches).  He allowed 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, and 10 strikeouts.  I know the Dodgers do not care about wins and losses, but with the way Santana was pitching, it sure would have been nice to let him finish the 5th so he could get the win.  I would expect that Santana would keep the Company line about the team winning is his only concern, but individually he does care and would have wanted the win.  Brian Moran and Michael Johnson followed Santana, with Johnson retiring all five batters he faced.  Emmanuel De Leon the 9th and promptly allowed 3 hits and a walk giving up 1 run and leaving the bases loaded for Josh Sborz.  With a 7-2 lead, Sborz only wanted outs and produced a sac fly to score the 3rd run, and then ending the game on a punch out just after the RockHounds’ final run came home on a fielding error by Michael Ahmed.  Both Ahmed and Drew Jackson recorded their 5th error on the season.

Offensively the Drillers were led by DJ Peters went 3-5 including his 4th HR, raising his BA to .362.  Will Smith went 3-3 including a double and walk, raising his average to .364.  Keibert Ruiz broke out of his mini-slump with a 2 HR and 4 RBI night, and Luke Raley contributed 2 hits.  Smith and Peters are now #8 and #9 respectively on the BA leader board.  Peters moved to a tie for #2 on the HR leader board (with teammate Connor Joe and two others).  Kyle Garlick is tied for #3 with 10 RBI’s.

 

 Rancho Cucamonga – 4-1 win over Lancaster JetHawks (Colorado)

The win moved the Quakes atop the California League South with 2 other teams with a record at 6-6. Okay it’s only a three way tie in a 4 team division, but it is still 1st place. Andrew Sopko had another good start going 4.2 IP (77 pitches), allowing 1 run on 3 hits, 3 walks, and 6 K.  Jason Richman and Ryan Mosely finished the final 4.1 shutout innings allowing a single hit, 1 BB, and 5K.  Richman got the win and Moseley got the save.  Sopko left the game with a 3-1 lead.  He recorded the first two outs in the 5th but after allowing the single and reaching 77 pitches he was pulled.  See comment above on Dennis Santana.

Jeren Kendall led the RC offense with a 2-4 night, including a double. Ibandel Isabel and Omar Estevez each hit a double. Kendall and Connor Wong each stole their 3rd base.  Connor Wong is now batting .350/.422/.825/1.247, with 5 HR and 12 RBI.  Wong is now #1 SLG, #2 OPS, #5 BA, #1 (tied) HR and #1 tied (RBI) on the league offensive leader boards.

Starting pitchers today

OKC – Manny Banuelos

Tulsa – Caleb Ferguson

RC – Jordan Sheffield

Great Lakes – Melvin Jimenez

 

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 69 Comments

  1. Ladies and Gentelmen,

    I want to remind you that what AC posted on the Minor Legues is not a simple “snap your fingers and it’s done.” It takes work – it’s a labor of love for the Dodgers.

    Don’t forget to thank him!

    Thank you, AC!

    1. Thanks to everyone on this board and especially AC, DC and MT. I learn more about the team here than any where else. And I read lots of Dodger sites.

  2. Thanks for all the information. You guys are great. I will continue to say Ryu is going to have a good year. All FAZ can do is put the players on the field and then it is up to them to perform. We are all good at second guessing after the fact. I never thought we had to make many changes for this year. Most would be in the bullpen.

    The one thing FAZ and Doc do is make sure a player plays himself on the team or off the team. They stuck with Hatcher and Ramos for a long time. They are sticking with Joc and Font longer than I would. When they finally cut a player, the player has no gripe.

    If you think Toles and Verdugo are ready, then you have to find someway to bring them up. I think they are both ready. So how do you change the team to get them playing time. I would move Taylor to second. That is now our weakest position. Forsythe and Kike are not hitting. Bring up Toles and Verdugo and let them play. Send Joc down. Now you have four outfielders who are interchangeable. Both are left handlers, but Kemp and Puig are right handlers.

    I hope Farmer gets to play third until JT comes back. He looks to me like he is a baller. He is just steady. I also think he is a good hitter. Thanks again guys for all the information.

  3. Darn, I thought we always thanked AC & DC for their stellar work.
    Barring injury, I want (if he wants) Kersh for the long haul… He is LA…
    OK M.T. , can you give me your multi year contract offer for Yasmani…
    When his name is brought up alot, I often look at my old Dodger catchers and smile…

    1. Well, if he keeps this up (which is doubtful) the Dodgers will have to offer him a deal. They will at least give him a qualifying offer. Let’s say he hit .280 with 30 HR and 80 RBI. That’s pretty significant for a catcher. The fact that the Dodgers have a plethora of young catchers is a factor as well.

  4. enjoyed the post, MT. you are very stubborn on your “standing pat” line but it’s your blog so i’ll respect it 🙂
    *
    nice wins the last two days. I think we have our mojo back.
    *
    so excited about certain prospects off to hot starts. wong, Santana, peters, Verdugo, smith. even sborz!
    *
    eager to see guys like white, may, diaz get started. we have talent bubbling up all over the place.
    *
    like others have said, I enjoy and appreciate the content provided here. go blue.

  5. There are 6 different players from the 2017 WS roster compared to the 25 man roster at the start of the 2018 season. Charlie Culberson, Andre Ethier, Tony Watson, Yu Darvish, Brandon McCarthy, and Brandon Morrow replaced by Matt Kemp, Scott Alexander, Pedro Baez, Wilmer Font, JT Chargois, and Hyun-jin Ryu. I am not including Farmer because I do not believe he would be on the roster if it were not for a JT injury. If that is to be considered, then the replacements really are not an upgrade. None of the 4 relievers will replace Brandon Morrow, while I do believe that Chargois may be an upgrade over Watson. But I would rather have Watson over Alexander. Font may be a replacement but not a positive one (and that disappoints me). Kemp is an upgrade over Ethier. I was not in favor of signing Darvish, so Ryu replacing Darvish is a plus contract wise, but a wash baseball wise. Just like I do not put a lot of stock in Seager hitting .200 thus far, I am not going to diminish the strengths of Darvish.
    .
    So really the changes were bullpen pieces, Kemp for Ethier, Ryu for Darvish, and the loss of Culberson. Ryu was already on the team, and was removed from the WS roster because he cannot relieve. His playoff status will undoubtedly be no different this year. Kemp is a surprise, even to FAZ who went on record saying they were trying to move him. In their words, they had an “honest conversation.” Kemp is off to a very good start, but I do not see him as a difference maker over the entire 2018 season. Therefore, IMO, the Dodgers stood pat.
    .
    I am not at all critical of FAZ getting under the luxury tax. I think it was a brilliant move and the best thing they did all Winter. However, IMO it is insignificant if they did it solely to get under the luxury tax and have no intention of bidding on high priced FA next year. And I do not think they should or will. They would have naturally got below the luxury tax next year anyway. I was never in favor of the Dodgers signing Stanton and taking on that salary. I was not in favor of signing JDM or Jake Arrieta or Alex Cobb or Wade Davis or Greg Holland. But I did believe the Dodgers could have added to the roster without having any difference in the luxury tax contract status. It would have cost prospects, many of which will never make a Dodger roster anyway.
    .
    Gerrit Cole (27) – $6.75M with another arbitration year, vs Ryu (31) at $7M ($6M luxury tax) in his FA year. I am using Ryu for salary purposes only. He and his $7M would be moved in a separate transaction. Cole would have cost prospects, none of whom would be Walker Buehler.
    .
    Christian Yelich (26) – 4 years + option year. Luxury tax hit at $7M. $7M could have been offset by not exercising Logan Forysthe’s option. Yelich would have cost prospects and maybe Joc.
    .
    Marcell Ozuna (27) – $9M with another arbitration year. Same comment as above on Yelich.
    .
    Any of those players would have made the Dodgers better and could have decreased the luxury tax hit. They would have cost prospects, and as I opined above, some will never see a MLB field as a Dodger anyway. Buehler, White, Alvarez, and Santana are all RHSP on the Top 30 prospects at AA or AAA. That does not include Brock Stewart at AAA. It also does not include Single A RHSP Dustin May, Jordan Sheffield, Morgan Cooper, and James Marinan all on the Dodgers top 30 prospect list, and lottery pick Andrew Sopko (who I think will be in AA soon). I could have included Imani Abdullah #19, but even I am not sure what kind of a prospect he is.
    .
    That is 11 RHSP that I mentioned not on the 25 man, five of which could be by 2019. I think it is safe to say that not all of those 11 will make the Dodgers 40 man much less their 25 man.
    .
    Alex Verdugo (L), Andrew Toles (L), Yusniel Diaz (R), DJ Peters (R), Luke Raley (L), Matt Beaty (L) all OF on the top 30 list at AA or AAA. Do the Dodgers really need 4 LH hitting OF? That does not include non top 30 prospects Henry Ramos (S) at AAA, or Kyle Garlick (R) at AA, each of whom could be at least #4/#5 OF on a MLB team. It also does not include Top 30 prospects Single A OF Jeren Kendall (L), Starling Heredia (R), Romer Cuadrado (R), and Donovan Casey (R).
    .
    That’s 12 OF either on the Dodgers Top 30 or knocking on the door. That Top 30 is for one of the top minor league systems in MLB. How many of them will dress in Dodger Blue.
    .
    Finally, the only significant 2019 FA player I see FAZ even consider would be 2B DJ LeMahieu. That is a position of need, and his bat will also be a benefit and an upgrade. The options would be utility players; Kike’ Hernandez, Breyvic Valera, Donovan Solano, Tim Locastro, Jake Peter, and Max Muncy. I think I would take DJ who is not a $100M contract. I am sure that the bullpen will be rebuilt again, and there may be some FA relievers FAZ may be interested in. If FAZ surprises me, I would think they would negotiate hard for Harper before Machado. I would not want to alienate Corey Seager and JT, both of whom would have to move positions to accommodate Machado. Harper’s bat would be huge in the lineup. A big difference maker. But is he worth $30M more than Puig, or $39.4M more than Verdugo? I guess an option would be to pay Machado more than Robinson Cano and convince him that he should play 2B. I think that would be a tough sell, especially if a team wants him as their SS and will pay.

    1. What about dozier? I actually counted 10 players on this year’s opening day roster who were not on 2017’s.

      Alexander–via offseason trade [attempted upgrade from avilan]
      Baez–DL’ed to begin 2017
      Chargois–selected off waivers
      Cingrani–acquired during 2017 season
      Fields–spent a minute in AAA before joining team to begin 2017
      Font–minors
      Bellinger–minors
      Kemp–via offseason trade [salary swap]
      Taylor–famously left off opening day roster before vying for team MVP

      1. I used the World Series roster. Franklin Gutierrez, SVS, Hatcher, Romo, Granderson, Dayton, Watson, Urias, and host of others were on the roster at some point. This year’s roster will also change quite a bit from the original 25 man. A 25-man roster is always fluid, especially with the Dodgers. FWIW, to me the World Series roster was the most important roster for comparison. Bellinger, Taylor, and Fields were with the Dodgers for most of the year, and they were on the 40 man so that is not much of a change. I did include Baez as a change because he was not on the 25 man WS roster. To me a change is from the last roster to the next.
        .
        I am not as big of a Dozier fan as many are. I would rather have LeMahieu. But FAZ did inquire about Dozier before Forsythe, so there is undoubtedly interest. Dozier does fit the FAZ mold of power which would seem to favor Dozier over LeMahieu. There opinion is obviously far more important than any opinion that I may have.

  6. AC

    I agree with you about the luxury tax.

    And especially your point about Kershaw not being that big signing, because that doesn’t make us any better, and it isn’t that much more money, like you said.

    But I don’t think they will sign Machado or Harper, myself.

    Did you see that the Rockies second baseman, sorry I can’t remember his name right now, but have you noticed, he has hit with more power, lately?

    1. I agree that signing Harper or Machado is unlikely. I see Kershaw coming back [unless 2018 turn ugly], some team outbidding us for Harper, and Machado being a difficult fit in our infield.

      Maybe we can do what we should’ve done x years ago and sign Andrew miller!

      I see a major trade this season, possibly well before the deadline.

    2. AC

      I can’t believe I didn’t notice you mentioned LeMahieu, right above me!

      But I noticed, he has hit quite a few HRs, already this year, for him.

      1. MJ,
        .
        Yes, and all 5 of his HR’s have come away from Coors. I have always been a LeMahieu fan from his LSU days. LSU is a baseball factory and they are always fun to watch.
        .
        I have been on the LeMahieu train for awhile, and I am not getting off until he signs with the Dodgers.
        .
        And I am sure that FAZ doesn’t give a rip what I think.

        1. AC

          Who cares what FAZ thinks!

          You have a very good record, with most, if not all, of the players, you like, or prospect, about!

          LeMahieu has great bat to ball skills, and he is also a good defensive, second baseman.

          And his height and arms, only make him better, at second.

          And I also noticed his strike out to walk ratio is about the same, even with his new found, power.

          I didn’t know he was drafted by the Cubs, though.

  7. AC,
    As always, your comments are informative and a pleasure to read . Thank you.
    One question: Is OKC in a hitter’s league or are our players simply mashing the ball?

    1. A little of both. The PCL is a big hitters league. Many of the stadiums are in high elevations, the pitches do not move as much, and the ball carries very well, especially in the summer. Even in Sacramento, which is not a high elevation stadium, the ball jumps. The River Cats also have some big hitters, especially Mac Williamson and Austin Slater.
      .
      Toles and Verdugo have hit where ever they played. Taijeron and Solano are organizational depth, primarily minor leaguers who can help at the MLB level in a pinch. Ramos is also a very good hitter who is getting healthy and can be an asset at the ML level. Mark wrote a good article on Henry last weekend. He is also a Red Sox guy, so I am partial to him.

          1. Take my comments on Breyvic Valera and repeat, with the exception that Locastro is a plus runner. Locastro and Valera are the AAA version of Kike’ Hernandez. They are both middle infielders (and both primarily 2B), who can also play SS, 3B, and all OF positions. Neither have Kike’s power, but both have better bat to ball skills. Locastro has K’d 10.85%, while Valera has more career BB than career K, and has K’d 7.1%. Locastro has a slash line of .294/.373/.403/.776 while Breyvic has a slash line of .303/.364/.394/.758. Locastro is 25 (7/14/92), Breyvic is 26 (1/8/92), and Kike’ is 26 (8/24/91).
            .
            Kike’ is a more experienced player and is good defensively. The one big difference between Locastro and Valera is that Locastro is a plus baserunner. He has 145 SB vs 35 CS while Valera has 122 SB and 91 CS. Valera has three more years professional experience. Kike’ is not a baserunner.
            .
            In addition to greater power, Kike’ is also experienced at the ML level and is a proven defensive player at 2nd, 3rd, SS, LF, and CF, who also has experience at 1B and RF.
            .
            What do you want? The power and experience of Kike’; the tremendous plate discipline of Valera; or the base running abilities of Locastro. IMO Doc does not value the SB as much as plate discipline which is probably why Valera is up and Locastro is not. Seems odd since it was Doc’s big SB in 2004 that went a long way in getting my son a WS ring.

  8. I think the best way to have long-term success is building from within. However, it can’t be the only way you do things. Many think the Cubs just went out and tanked under Theo and everything came from their farm system. Well, it’s not true. Lester was a big free-agent signing. Arietta was brought over in a trade from Baltimore. Russell was brought over in a trade from Oakland. Kyle Hendricks was brought in from Texas(partially due to the Dodgers but that’s another story). Ross and Monteros were veterans brought in to fill out the roster. Rizzo was acquired from San Diego. Yes, some of those guy acquired were kids at the time, but when need be the Cubs spent the money on Lesturd and dealt from their strengths to acquire Chapman. A good front office uses all their resources and uses all avenues to improve their ball club.

    1. But! HUGE BUT: The salary level the Cubs started with was $150 Million less thsan the Dodgers. Adding Lester and even Heyward (which was a horrendous deal) had little impact beacuse in 2015, their payroll was only $120 Million. The Dodgers payroll was $150 million more in 2015, so you can’t even make that comparison. The Cubs traded Andrew Cashner to get Rizzo in 2012 while they were tanking. In 13 they traded for Arrieta. Rusell was traded for in 14 when they dumped the Shark and and Hammel.

      There is no comparison as to where the Cubs were in 2015 as compared to where the Dodgers were. The Cubs had been rebuilt and had plenty of money to spend. The Dodgers were rebuilding on the fly and had the highest payroll in baseball – more than doube the Cubs payroll.

      You can’t compare the two… well you can, but it’s apples to oranges.

      1. When the Cubs felt they were ready, they spent the money on Lester and dealt the prospects on Chapman. They put their chips in. I don’t think it is apples to oranges when the original topic is next year’s free-agent class. The Cubs didn’t sit there and wait for their kids to be the only thing that got them to a title. When talking about next season and the free-agent class that is supposedly going to be available, the Dodgers should be players. You can’t just count on the farm to do it all. I feel like FAZ did the right thing last year dealing Calhoun for Darvish. I would do that deal every time in that situation. Unfortunately, Darvish didn’t get in done in the WS. As for Heyward, it was a dumb move and a bad contract. However, a market like Chicago and LA can miss once in a while. You just can’t be straddled with 3 or 4 bad contracts like that over the long haul.
        ~
        Mark, you’re 100% correct when you point out some of those deals were made during the rebuilding process. I don’t deny that. My point is that not all of those players came from the Cubs system and they used all of their resources to get to the promised land. They made trades, they promoted from within, and when it became time they spent their money. They knew they couldn’t only wait for their prospects to win it all. You’ve always said that FAZ wants to find the stars before they are on the decline. There are a few in next year’s class that fit the bill and whether or not they sign them the Dodgers have no excuse not to be players.

          1. I’d like to see him do that in a tight game now and then. I hope they keep him rested enough that he doesn’t do his usual 2nd half fade.

  9. Some thoughts
    I don’t think the Dodgers management will try to sign either Harper or Machado.
    AC is correct about the Dodgers trying to sign D J LeMahieu to play second next year, he could be the fix at the Dodgers weakest position.
    The Dodgers have their list of prospects they will not trade for anyone, like it or not that is their thinking.
    Kershaw and the Dodgers win on Sunday I think was huge.
    I think the Dodgers might try and trade Puig ( depending on how he is playing at the time ) by the trade deadline and bring up Verdugo.Puig is an FA after next season, why not move him now?
    Ramos up, Pederson down.
    One or two more performances without any significant improvement should be it for Font.
    The Dodgers recalled Valera from OKC, might be nice to see him play if Roberts can get over his trying to prove Hernandez is an everyday player. Hernandez is a super sup and that is his real value to the team.
    When Forsythe comes back I hope he moves to second and Roberts leaves Farmer at third.
    Time to bring up Buehler and put him in the rotation.

  10. You never know what a prospect like Connder Wong might do.

    Here is a scouting report on another 2B by John Sickels:

    “He doesn’t have a huge amount of power… I can see him being a good utility guy.”

    A year later, Sickels said this:

    “His plate discipline slipped somewhat at the higher level, which isn’t unusual, but he kept his strikeout rate under control. Scouting reports continue to report mediocre-to-average tools, but now emphasize his feel for the game, excellent work ethic, and doubles power. Although his range and arm strength are marginal at shortstop, he is very reliable in terms of avoiding mistakes and making the routine play. I like him. At worst he’ll be a fine utility player, and there’s a non-negligible chance he can hit and field well enough to start for some teams. “

    Well, that player was Brian Dozier. See, the more good prospects you stockpile, the better the chance of finding great ones… ones that you don’t even see coming!

  11. One final thought:

    Even if the Dodgers don’t sign a free agent NEXT season (and I really have no opinion as to whether they will), they “reset the Luxury Tax Penalty from 50% down to 20%” for the next time they go over it. If they happen to go over by $40 million, that reduces the penalty from $20 million to $8 million. 5 out of 4 people are mathmatically challenged, but that is $12 million smackers any way you slice it. Mark Walter wants some mad money too!

  12. On the chopping block:

    1. Font–high velocity and strikeout numbers aren’t translating to major leagues. Could be the Billy Ashley of pitchers, a AAAA guy who might hang on with a lesser organization but this is the Dodgers.

    2. Joc–did he Kerrigan Toles? How long can he stick around with others rising around him [Verdugo, Ramos]?

    3. Forsythe–could soon become highly paid back-up if offense doesn’t show up.

    4. Maeda–the bullpen is his destiny; Buehler is in the wings; the writing’s on the wall.

    5. Puig–how’s this for a shocker? We trade Puig & hand Verdugo the starting RF job.

  13. I do not trade Puig unless we get a very good relief pitcher. Either was my favorite player and now it is Taylor. If I had to trade one outfielder right now it would be Taylor. I hate to say it.

  14. I would trade Puig if I could get Felipe Vasquez-Rivero. Can we trade Forsythe too?

    But the Pirates won’t trade as long as they are doing good… which they are!

    … or get me Raisel Iglesias.

  15. In Dodger player transactions, Alec Asher was waived and picked up by the Brewers. Breyvic Valera was optioned to OKC, and Max Muncy was recalled.

  16. I think Mark mentioned Mike Moustakas a day or so ago. Mike is making a statement thus far about being ignored as a FA. Going into the 2nd game of today’s double-header, Moose is hitting .339/.362/.643/1.005, 5 HR, 3 doubles, 1 triple, and 10 RBI’s. Thus far in the 2nd game, Moose is 2-2 with a double and RBI. That’s how the San Fernando Valley boys play.

    1. This is a guy who can hit 100 MPH and has great stuff. If he can improve his control, he can be a lock-down reliever. However, that’s a big if.

      Maybe they see something…

      1. What is interesting to me is that The Reds designated Hernandez to make room for Dylan Floro. Hernandez sounds a bit like Aneurys Zabala except with a better curve. Dodgers’ instructors have had some success with Zabala, so maybe Hernandez can be “fixed”. With Jesen Therrien, Ariel Hernandez, and Aneurys Zabala all capable of putting up triple digits, and maybe a move to the pen by another triple digit pitcher, Yadier Alvarez, the bullpen could be very strong.

  17. With all the fuss about the Dodgers standing pat, so far Kemp looks to be one of the best (if not THE BEST) acquisition of the off-season. It’s a crazy world.

  18. Woods gettin’ it done until he airmailed one to 2nd base. Damn shame.. Great outing.

  19. Kenley still having his spring training He should have got work the other night during the blowout.

    1. I agree they are babying him. His command was off and his cutter not moving like normal.

  20. That was a brutal inning by Jansen. I hope this one does not go 15 innings. Kemp has driven in all 3 runs but is out of the game. Great play by Taylor to rob a HR and keep this game alive.

    1. I hated the way he pitched to some of those batters but he gutted it out and overcame a blown call.

  21. Yep – that pitch was high!!

    Good to see Utley doing well. That was a great DP to end the innings.

    Farmer looks a bit overmatched.

    1. There we go. He needs to come up with hits if he’s going to bat 5th. He had failed twice earlier.

  22. The collective approach at the plate looks better.
    Working the count, getting better pitches to hit.

    Not sure what’s up with Kenley?

    1. He needs more work. He pitches better the more work he gets. He should have been put in last night to finish up.

  23. That was a nice team win. Only 11 hits but 3 big ones: Kemp, Grandal and Farmer. Utley continues to defy father time, Muncy had a nice at bat, Stripling battles when he gets in trouble-he has been the most valuable bullpen guy so far this year. I agree with Hawkeye, Jansen needs more work to stay sharp. Maeda goes for the sweep tomorrow then home for the Nats.

  24. Well, we are on a 3 game streak & have won our 1st series of the season, so things are looking up.
    Also, 3 strong starts from Kershaw, Ryu & Wood, plus signs of life from our Offence.

  25. I heard Roberts say in an interview today that he “needed to get Joc some at-bats to get him going”. HOT BATS NEED AT-BATS! Kemp hit lefties or righties better than Joc hits either one. There are others that can back up Kemp if necessary, Hernandez, Verdugo, Toles, and more. We do not need to “get Joc going” to win the Division. We need to WIN GAMES!

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