My Thoughts About Grandal, Santana and Taylor

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!

Dennis Santana

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.

Chris Taylor

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!

Other Stuff

  • 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?

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 44 Comments

  1. I mentioned to my wife the other night that I thought Barnes may be traded (but she was asleep and didn’t hear me, so I guess that doesn’t count).

  2. Quick question for AC – does it affect players when they are constantly traded, DFA, etc within a few days or weeks? Did your son have to go through such a roller-coaster ride?
    Thanks in advance.

    1. My son did not get moved very often. He was drafted and signed by the Phillies in 1997 and stayed with them until 2002 when he was traded to the Red Sox. He was with the Red Sox through 2004 and became a Minor League FA. He had a long talk with Theo and Tito and they wanted him in the organization, but told him he was probably not going to make the 25 man and if he wanted to play ML he should look someplace else. But they would have re-signed him to a very good minor league contract. But who doesn’t want a chance to play at the ML level? His agent got him a minor league/major league contract with the Mets to be the back up catcher to Piazza. My son had a negative run-in with Omar Minaya (Mets GM) and was told he would not be considered for the ML job. His agent went ape____ and asked for his release. Toronto knew my son very well, and his agent got him a minor league contract. He got to catch Doc Halladay in a ST game. He also got to catch Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling when he was with the Red Sox (in ST). He never got to catch a ML pitcher while with Philly.
      .
      He was severely injured in a game with Syracuse (Toronto AAA team) and was misdiagnosed. He actually tore his plantar fascia and went 6 weeks without getting an MRI. My nephew who is a sports orthopaedic surgeon, contacted the Toronto ML doctors and asked why an MRI was never ordered. The next day he was on a flight to see Dr. James Andrews who told him about the misdiagnosis and that he should have been in a boot the day the injury occured, and that at least his year was through and maybe his career.
      .
      He signed with Seattle in 2006 but the pain in his foot was too much and he asked for his release so he could retire. The Dodgers tried to talk him out of retirement in 2006. But he knew that he could never play again. To this day he cannot walk well, and never without pain.
      .
      My son did not experience many trades or DFA’s. But he did know many that did. Most who were at the ML level took it in stride just for another chance. Those in AA and below quite often just walked away.

      1. I’m sure many of us would have jumped at the opportunity to play ball for a living had we been given the opportunity (and had the talent), no matter the size of the paycheck. Thanks, AC, for sharing.

  3. Great post Mark! I was one of the ones who thought Grandal’s days with the team were over when he didn’t play much in the WS, but I didn’t want him gone, not in a walk year with a cap hit below $8 M. While I don’t think the Dodgers would sign him long term you never know. If he walks and the young catchers are not ready Barnes could be very useful. None are proven yet at the AAA level but there is a lot of season left. Farmer has not caught much for the Dodgers but he is versatile and would be a capable back up. Barnes is exactly the kind of team controlled asset teams covet and would be a very nice trade piece. Say what you want about Faz but ALL of the catchers were either acquired or drafted by them-they took a system wide weakness and made it a strength. In fact there are now so many utility guys in the mold of Kike that have a higher upside hit tool that his days may be numbered too along with Joc.

    Max Muncy is a scrapper and plays multiple positions but 3B may be his best. I think a platoon of Farmer and Muncy at 3B and Kike and Utley at 2B will work fine for the time being. There must be some reason Kemp keeps getting removed late in games-his defense has not been bad and his hitting a pleasant surprise. Maybe they just want to keep him fresh or maybe there is a nagging problem.

    I believe Taylor will be fine, he is uber aggressive and is pressing like Puig. He hits plenty of balls hard and plays great defense, just like Puig. I would sit him for a game but not a whole series, especially against the Nats. He does need to take more walks and is striking out too much.

    Skipping Hill and using the 10 day DL is smart to add another fresh arm. Liberatore has been dominant when healthy and Alexander has struggled but still gets the ground balls and key double plays. This keeps the other pitchers on regular rotation with the off day and all look healthy. It won’t be long before Buehler forces the issue and barring injury sends Maeda to the pen.

    Again great post and the comments in the last few days have been really good reading, best site out there and I read a lot of them but only comment here when time permits. Thanks to you, AC and DC for all you do!

    1. Vegas

      I don’t know if you noticed, but Roberts didn’t take Kemp out so early, when he was playing right, and Puig was on the bench.

      I think Kemp getting pulled to early, has more to do, with giving Joc more at bats, then anything, including, Kemp’s defense.

      1. I think you are right. Joc is being given a chance to play himself off or on the team. This fits Roberts MO. No one can complain they weren’t give a chance.

  4. M.T. you’re right about Grandal’s tough year… But remember I was the one who said that there would be chants of ‘MVP’ for Grandal at the Ravine…
    That being said in earnest, I haven’t really grasped the recent significance in framing… In my day we called it pulling a ball in… Any modern day umpire with an attitude, which we seem to have a few more every year, can diffuse a framer at will… Seen it done far too many times…
    Yes I’m concerned about 26 passed balls in the the last couple 2 years… IMO this will not change with Yasmani… There is a disconnect somewhere between seeing the ball coming and the feet… I watched two years of Steve Yeager working with him in ST and I don’t think it will change…
    I’ll take Barnes with one of the kids in 2019… Heck they may dangle Yasmani at the deadline…

    1. Grandal has 1 PB is 125 Innings this year.

      Last year he had 16 in 999 innings.

      That is an improvement – a big improvement.

      You are right that umpires can circumvent framing, and maybe they do, but the best framers are ranked at the top every year and BTW, Barnes is a good framer too.

      There is a lot of time left and Yasmani can revert back to what he did in the past… or maybe he has grown beyond that. I think we will find out. I know this: He is a hard worker and very well respected by friend and foe. I like those kind of guys.

      I suppose it is possible they will trade Yasmani but that could be dangerous for the staff.

  5. When the Dodgers traded Kemp for Grandal, most people on the site I think you are referring to were blaming Mattingly, others were upset about his suspension for drug use, and others were blaming the FO for a stupid trade. I was ok with the trade for two reasons, first I thought Grandal was going to be a nice upgrade over Ellis and Butera, and second, Kemp was gone which was fine with me. But, I would have preferred seeing the Dodgers trade Grandal over the winter and get something for him as opposed to seeing him leave at the end of the season with no return for him. At this point, if the Dodgers trade a catcher it will either be Farmer or Barnes. The only teams who might be interested in Grandal at the trade deadline will be teams fighting for playoff spots and I would not trade Grandal to see him come back and hurt the Dodgers in getting to the playoffs, or in the playoffs.

  6. Shoot!! Did I hear we hold the same record that we had this time last year!??!
    Let us proceed to .500 ball…
    Overall it was a great performance by the Dodger’s kids yesterday… it’s nice to know that when I mutter “who is that kid?” I can look back to AC/DC’s postings and find the answer. So many blue chippers, so little time!!!

    1. AC: When are we going to see Edwin Rios, Matt Beaty, Mitchell White, Morgan Cooper, and James Marinan?

      You are supposed to tell us!

      1. Not sure about the rest but this the scoop on Matt Beaty – perhaps 2-3 weeks rehab. From his wife’s blog.
        .
        “He’s having problems with his intercostal muscle. Last week he got an MRI, and thank the Lord the MRI came back clear. But Matt isn’t 100% yet so they are keeping him in Arizona to rehab and get to 100%. We’re not entirely sure what the timetable (hoping for one week but could be two or three) is for him to be with the team, but we’re hoping for the best!”
        .
        My guess with Rios is an injury.
        .
        My guess on White, Cooper and Marinan is deliberate extended ST to cut down on innings and perhaps more weighted ball work (Driveline). Extended ST to work on consistency with mechanics, command, building arm strength, etc., especially for Cooper and Marinan but more innings control for White unless he has an injury.

    1. And the HR he gave up with two outs was because of a botched defensive play by Cody. Bryan Price was canned for a reason.

  7. It seems that Max Muncy is getting a lot of love on many of the Dodger blogs, and Vegas mentioned him above. On January 2, 2018, I wrote an article on Max. I do not know how to tag it and hyperlink it on this site. Maybe Mark can do that. But it sure seems that Max is playing as was expected, or at least as I hoped.
    .
    Maybe Max can be the 2018 version of the 1988 Mickey Hatcher.

    1. AC

      I remember you mentioning that you hoped Muncy would get a chance this year, even before Peter was traded here, and before you wrote that article, on Muncy.

  8. I think Taylor will be just fine. He is pressing a bit, but nothing a 3 hit game won’t change. Yasmani has been good offensively and defensively. Before we go trading away Barnes, let us not forget that YAZ has faded at the end of every season with the Dodgers not just last season. Grandal is a free-agent at the end of the season and Barnes provides a lot of versatility. Having 3 guys who can catch provide a lot of versatility. Smith needs time at AAA before he is declared ready in my opinion. Hang onto Barnes and keep Yasmani well rested this year. The Dodgers have to excellent catchers and they should take advantage of that luxury and keep them both fresh.

    1. Hawkeye

      Also since Taylor is always leading off, he gets five at bats a game, and that can bring a player’s numbers down quickly, especially if they are struggling.

      And we have to remember that Taylor has actually had less major league at bats then Joc, even though he is a little older, so this is really only his second major league season, as an everyday player, so he is still learning to adjust, as he plays.

      I think moving him down in the line up would help him more, then a day off, because we don’t want to lose his defense in center, because we really don’t have anyone on this team, that can play center as well, as Taylor does.

  9. And talking about tonight’s game
    And talking about tonight’s game
    And talking about tonight’s game
    And talking about tonight’s game……

    Eric Stephen@truebluela
    Most Cy Young Award first-place votes, active pitchers:
    1) Kershaw 95
    2) Scherzer 81
    3) Verlander 56
    4) Kluber 48
    5) Hernandez 36
    6) Greinke 35
    7) Lincecum 34

  10. A.C. you did it again!! Mentioning Mickey Hatcher, the leader of the Stunt Men… Now those characters were grinders…

  11. if taylor never gets another hit he still outperformed his expectations. i refuse to criticize him.

    1. I certainly could not come up with another lineup, but this lineup does not necessarily scare Scherzer.
      .
      Taylor – 0-3, 2K
      Seager – 0-3, 0K
      Grandal – 1-4, 3K, 1B
      Bellinger – 0-3, 3K
      Joc – 0-3, 2K
      Utley – 3-13, 0K, 2BB
      Puig – 3-9, 4K, 1 Triple
      .
      On the bench –
      Kemp – 6-42, 2 doubles, 1 HR, 14K, 3BB

      1. AC

        Looks like Puig has the best numbers there.

        And Puig is hitting righties almost a hundred points higher, then against lefties, again this year, although the sample size, is still small.

        1. Batting Joc ahead of other players is insane. Heck, having Joc the majors in insane at this time. Doc is a good guy but: 1. He is horrible at filling out a lineup 2. He is horrible at managing the pitching staff. I know this is not a popular thing to say but I’m not sure he will be managing the team next year unless he improves in those two areas.

  12. After last night’s OKC start, Justin De Fratus was placed on the Temporary Inactive List. This makes sense because OKC needs another starter, and De Fratus cannot pitch for five days.
    .
    TEMPORARY INACTIVE LIST- This list is used only during the season for short absences and may be used at the team’s discretion for bereavement leave, family events which require a player to be away from his team, or other non-injury related reasons. Players placed on the temporary inactive list must remain on the list for a minimum of three consecutive days.

  13. Once again in a big series the dodgers can’t put the bat on the ball in a situational hitting opportunity. Why in the world joc is on the roster is unbelievable. Matt kemp with a hot bat is on the bench replaced by a guy who will be lucky to hit 200. Kershaw ended the drama early showing why Scherzer is the Cy Young. I really figured Kershaw would go 7 before giving up his usual home run but I guess he wanted to release the pressure early because now he knows this lineup probably won’t score until he is long gone if at all. I’m out more sleep tonight.

  14. Terrible Ab’s By Grandal and Cody. Batting Puig 7th is asinine. I’m fine with Joc starting but 5th?

    1. Hawkeye

      Like I wrote above, Puig has the best numbers, and he is hitting righties better then lefties, again, I would have batted Puig higher in this line up.

      Puig is only batting that for back, because Scherzer is a rightie

        1. Hawkeye

          Really, both Turner and Toles, had the best numbers against Scherzer.

          But in this line up, it is Puig.

  15. El Gasolino, Right on time!! Doc looks a little pissed this time when he came and got him. Somebody get a shrink for this dude. Like a box of damn chocolates.

  16. Yeah, I know i’m piling on with Baez, but we have had all kinds of chances to score against Sherzer and the Nats bullpen. Way too many strikeouts in key moments. Didnt’ think we would miss JT and toles this much.

  17. Dodgers’ OPS with RISP is league average (.740) but with 2 out and RISP, the Dodgers are OPSing .643 vs league average .743.

    Individual players’ OPS with RISP?
    Taylor.486 OPS with RISP
    Bellinger .513
    Kike .531
    Puig .667

    Other than Muncy, the top 2 Dodgers’ OPS with RISP are Kemp (1.318) and Grandal (1.198). By the way, the much-maligned Joc Pederson’s OPS with RISP is .875.

    It hurts when your leadoff and cleanup hitter can’t hit with men on base.

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