When the Dodgers traded Matt Kemp for Yasmani Grandal, I was probably the only Dodger fan that I knew of who liked the deal (at least, it felt like it). Boy, did I hear (repeatedly) how dumb that was. In fact, every time Grandal didn’t get a hit, which was 77% of the time or there was a passed ball or wild pitch, the idiots piled on (they still do, but I don’t frequent that site and I banned them from this one… so I’m not talking about any of you). I knew moving Kemp was a salary dump, but I felt that Grandal had the ability to become an All-Star.
In his first year as a Dodger, he was very good defensively and framing pitches and he hit 16 HR but had a .353 OB%. Zack Greinke said he was the best catcher he had ever pitched to. In 2016, he stepped up his HR’s and hit 27 while driving 72 runs in only 390 AB’s. I expected growth from him in 2017, so in February of 2017, I wrote this:
Next to Buster Posey, Yasmani may be the best framer in the NL… maybe all of baseball. Some think he is the best in baseball.. Sons of Sam Horn rates Grandal the #1 pitch framer in the game. Whether he is, depends upon a lot of things – some objective, some subjective. At least, he is in the conversation.
- Fox Sports Rates him the 6th best catcher in baseball.
- ESPN ranks him the #4 best catcher in baseball.
- Others rank him #10 or lower.
Think what you want, but I believe 2017 will be Yasmani Grandal’s breakout season. Yeah, I know he hit 27 HR last year – he will hit more in 2017!
Yasmani is working on his diet, strength and conditioning (detect a trend?) and has worked on re-tooling his RH swing all winter. He might blast 40 HR this year. He might even hit cleanup! I think he will an All-Star.
Well, I was wrong, wasn’t I? It didn’t happen like that. In fact, Yasmani last his job to Austin Barnes and while he did hit 22 HR, he had 16 passed balls and his OB% dropped to .308. It was an ugly season, especially from August on, when he hit .186. A few weeks ago,I told you that Grandal’s late season slide in 2017 could have possibly been because his wife’s pregnancy. While I did not know the details, I did hear from what I thought was a reliable source that Yasmani was under a lot of stress due to his wife’s pregnancy. Now, we know the full story.
Bill Plunkett of The OC Register reported this:
He has really only had one thing on his mind for most of the past year….
“There’s a lot of things that happened last year, the whole year,” he said. “My wife was pregnant with a high-risk pregnancy. We didn’t know if it was going to happen or not.
“So there was a lot of things going on on the outside that when I look back at last year I think I did a pretty good job just handling what was going on all around me, plus coming in every day and pretty much giving 100 percent. Like I said, there wasn’t much I could think about. I took it one day at a time and the No. 1 goal was to keep the baby alive for a day.”
Grandal’s second child and first son was born on the eve of the World Series. Yasmani Ryker Grandal is “doing great” almost six months later, his proud father said. But when he arrived, dad had essentially lost his job to Austin Barnes.
Grandal’s wife, Heather, couldn’t travel and required occasional hospital visits to monitor her pregnancy. Grandal made the trip to Arizona to be with her “countless times” during the 2017 season.
“Every day off. Even on homestands,” he said. “Especially after 36 weeks, I was going back two, three times a week thinking he was coming at some point. Every time my wife went into the hospital and was kept there I made sure I was there.
“If there was a flight available, I would take a flight. If not, I’m driving five hours over there and five hours back the next day.”
The Dodgers were aware of what Grandal was going through. But lineups had to be made and games had to be won.
Yasmani did what he had to do. The Dodgers were sympathetic but they did what they had to do as well: Austin Barnes took his job because Yasmani had too much on his mind. Now, the baby is healthy, Yasmani is focused, has worked on his swing and he is locked in, defensively and with the bat. He is leading the Dodgers in just about every offensive category right about now. Did I expect him to hit .350. No, I do not. I would be excited if he hit .270 with an OB% 100 points higher. He will likely have 30+ HR and provide the Dodgers with stellar defense.
Many Dodger fans would have traded him over the winter, but the Dodgers didn’t and if he keeps up his breakout season, he will be a very hot free agent who will be thirty years old next year. At the very least, he will be tendered a contract, but if he puts up the numbers I think he will, I can see him getting a 5 year/$75 million dollar deal! Not bad for someone whom many thought was a chump! Now that you know “the rest of the story” you should think twice before trivializing a players ineffectiveness: They may be struggling with something we don’t know about. It took longer than I expected, but this is the Yasmani I thought the Dodgers were getting.
Parting shot: Austin Barnes may actually be the one traded. I think Will Smith is ready! Barnes value is high and the Dodgers have Smith, Ruiz and Wong in the wings. Austin could be a big piece in a blockbuster trade. You heard it here first!
Emily Waldon and Melissa Lockard of The Athletic reported on the minor leagues and write this about Dennis Santana:
Santana began his professional career as a middle infielder, and he uses a lower release point that is somewhat reminiscent of a shortstop’s. The thin right-hander has plenty of life on his fastball, which can touch 97 mph. He has a heavy sinker and a slider can be a swing-and-miss offering when he is sharp. Santana also has a solid changeup. He is a good athlete who repeats his delivery well and offers some deception from his three-quarters arm slot.
Because Santana began his career as a position player, the Dodgers have been cautious with his development, keeping his innings low each year. He has been prone to fatigue late in seasons and may need to gain weight to last a full season as a starter. His command can come and go, although he has been sharp so far this season. If he can’t remain a starter, Santana has the pitch mix to be an elite reliever. He was added to the Dodgers’ 40-man roster this offseason and could see time in Class AAA by midseason.
Dennis needs to fill-out and get stronger to be a starter. While he’s waiting to do that, put him in the pen for a couple of years. I think he can pitch in the bullpen… like THIS year! He could be very, very effective there.
A number of Dodger fans are saying that he has revered back to the player he was BEFORE 2017. I don’t think so. I think he’s off to a bad start. I think he’s pressing… but I think he will adjust. Ender Inciarte is hitting .232 and hit .230 last April. Chris Taylor is not the only player off to a bad start. Here’s a list of some of the players hitting below .228:
- Jackiew Bradley
- George Springer
- Yuis Cespedes
- Andrew McCutchen
- Kole Calhoun
- Giancrlo Stanton
- Marwin Gonzlez
- Michael Taylor
- Dexter Fowler
- Matt Carpenter
- Billy Hamilton
- Carlos Santana
I also think Chris needs to sit a few games – play Joc and Kike in CF the next series. Maybe he needs to move down in the lineup. This would be easier if Alex Verdugo were here. Don’t panic!
- Trayce Thompson is back with the White Sox
- Max Muncy is LH and has power for those of you who wonder why he is on the team?
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
MINOR LEAGUE REPORT by AlwaysCompete
Three out of four for the Dodger affiliates yesterday, and it took a 2 run HR in the 9th to not allow the fourth team a win.
OKC – 2-1 Win over Round Rock Express (Rangers)
After their 9 game winning streak was snapped, OKC got back in the win column in a well-pitched game. Well I projected a Justin De Fratus promotion to AAA who needed starters, and sure enough it happened. De Fratus was scheduled to start for Tulsa, but got a call to get to Round Rock, Texas to start for OKC. De Fratus pitched a solid 5.2 innings (82 pitches), giving us a single run (Willie Calhoun HR), on 6 hits. He issued 0 walks, but registered 1K. After getting 6th, after 2 quick outs in the 6th, Yimi Garcia was summoned to finish the inning. Pat Venditte (2.0 IP), and Brian Schlitter (1.0 IP) finished the game without allowing a run or hit. Venditte got his 3rd hold and Schlitter his 2nd save.
OKC had a total of four hits to account for their pair of runs, but it was enough for the win. Tim Locastro hit his 2nd triple, and Rob Segedin had a double.
Willie Calhoun now has 2 HR’s on the season, and both have come against the OKC Dodger pitching.
Tulsa – 11-0 Win over Northwest Arkansas Travelers (Royals)
With De Fratus scheduled to start, but moving up, Tulsa needed another starter. I thought Mitchell White might make his 2018 debut, but it was recently signed 26 year old RH Frank Duncan getting the call. He was recently released by the DBacks and the Dodgers signed him late March. Duncan spent most of 2018 with Reno, the DBacks AAA affiliate.
Duncan, who had not logged 1 inning this year, pitched a solid 3.2 innings, allowing 2 hits and 1 walk, to go with his 1 K. Shea Spitzbarth followed Duncan with 2.1 perfect innings and 3K to get the win. Michael Johnson and Corey Copping finished the 5 hit, 1 walk, 9 K shutout victory.
The Drillers had 17 hits to account for their 11 runs. Keibert Ruiz went 4-6 and has his BA back up to .286. Jacob Scavuzzo also went 4-6, including a 3 run HR. Luke Raley added a 3-6 night with a double and triple. And Will Smith smacked his 2nd HR of the season.
But the big news is YUSNIEL DIAZ HAS ARRIVED. Diaz made his 2018 debut in fine fashion going 3-4 with a double and 2 walks. DJ Peters did go hitless, but did get 4 walks.
Rancho Cucamonga – 5-4 Loss to Lake Elsinore Storm (Padres)
Gavin Lux’s 2 run double in the home half of the 4th put the Quakes up 4-2. The Storm added a run in the 8th, but it was a 2 run HR off of Stetson Allie in the 9th that gave the Quakes the loss.
Isaac Anderson started and went 4.0 innings (69 pitches). He allowed 2 runs on 5 hits, issuing 0 walks and 3 K. The two runs allowed were by HR. Andrew Istler pitched a perfect 2 innings with 2 K. Jason Richman relieved Istler allowing the 1 run in the 8th on 2 hits before Stetson Allie surrendered the 2 run HR in the 9th.
Christian Santana was the lone multi-hit player for the Quakes with 2.
Great Lakes – 10-2 Win over the Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres)
The Loons broke out big last night to gather up their 3 win on the young season. They generated 14 hits for their 10 runs. The offense was led by DH Nick Yarnall who had 4 hits including his 3rd HR and 4 RBI’s. 3B Moises Perez also had 4 hits including his 2nd triple.
Three pitchers took the hill with Jesus Vargas getting the start and win. Vargas went 5.0 no hit shutout innings, with 3 walks and 5 K. Alfredo Tavarez surrendered the 2 runs and three hits in his 3.0 inning relief of Vargas. Andre Scrubb pitched a perfect 9th to complete the win.
Starting pitchers for tonight:
OKC – TBD
Tulsa – Devin Smeltzer
RC – Dean Kremer
GL – TBD
When are we going to see Edwin Rios, Matt Beaty, Mitchell White, Morgan Cooper, and James Marinan?