Yesterday Mark made a good argument as to why the Dodgers might want to stand pat. Today I would like to make an argument as to why the Dodgers should consider another move or two. I understand the thought that with how the Dodgers are built right now they can compete and win the NL West. I understand why many believe the team should stay as is and let the team get healthy. I agree they can win, but I am not sure of it. One thing this blog has helped me with is to look at the team objectively. I am almost always positive in believing the Dodgers will win, but sometimes they frustrate me and I need to vent. This is not one of those times. With 2-3 days before the trade deadline, I wanted to look at the present structure objectively.
I know there is a rumor that the Dodgers are interested in Chris Archer (yes, AGAIN). I am not so sure that Archer is being considered more for the playoff run than for the next three plus years. The Pads were also rumored to be involved. Mark commented that the Dodgers interest was for driving up the price on Archer. Of course that is what a lot of us said about Machado. The Pads are more interested in Noah Syndergaard than Archer, so if there is any price driving, then it is the Pads doing the driving. FAZ will not be swayed and overpay, so it will either be another team (Yankees? Brewers?) or more likely no trade.
The reason I want FAZ to make sure they have a solid bullpen vs. a potential bullpen is because the championship window is closing. The Braves and Phillies arrived a year early and should be the top favorites for 2019. That is why I wanted FAZ to go all in for Sale 2 years ago (meaning Julio Urias would have been included) and wanted them to do an overpay for Gerrit Cole this past winter. It would not have been a significant overpay considering what the Stros gave up.
The Phillies have gone on record saying they will not be outbid on major FA (Machado or Harper). Their rotation is pretty solid led by Nola and Arrieta, with Eflin a good #3. They will probably sign a FA #4 pitcher and then Enyel De Los Santos, or Cole Irvin, or Mark Leiter Jr., or Velasquez will be a #5.
The Braves already have Foltynewicz, Newcomb, and Fried in the rotation and have 6 pitchers in the top 100 prospects; 2 of which are top 10 LHP. Somebody will offer a couple of good lottery picks for Teheran. They already have a slew of young studs in Albies, Swanson, Acuna, Camargo, with a superstar in Freeman, an All Star in Markakis, and a quality CF in Inciarte. They have the money and prospect collateral to get All-Stars in LF and catcher. With their young pitchers, I figure they will go all in for Grandal.
The Cubs will spend for pitching and with their non-pitching roster, they should be a threat in 2019.
But the biggest threat will come from the team in San Diego. They have 4 of the top position prospects:
#2 Overall – #1 SS – Fernando Tatis Jr.
#11 Overall – #1 LHP – Mackenzie Gore
#21 Overall – #1 Catcher – Francisco Mejia
#23 Overall – #1 2B – Luis Urias
They have four other pitchers in the top 100 prospects including 2 other top ten LHP prospects. Plus Joey Lucchesi already on in the rotation.
The Dodgers have 4 top 100 prospects, 1 of whom is a pitcher (Dustin May). Their only top 10 position prospects are 2 catchers (Ruiz #3 and Smith #5), and one OF (Verdugo #7). It might be difficult to have 2 1st string catchers on the 25 man at the same time.
The Pads are rumored to have offered 2 of Mejia/Urias/Quantrill as the lead prospects in a package for Thor. Just a rumor, but certainly something to think about. Maybe not 2019, but by 2020, the Pads are going to be the favorites in the NL West.
My fear is that IF the Dodgers do not get there in 2018, it may be a while.
- Another year of wear and tear on Kershaw.
- Ryu will be a free agent.
- There will still be questions on Wood, Stripling, Buehler, and Hill (blisters).
- Are Ferguson and Santana starters or relievers?
- May and White are at least 2 years away.
- I think Banuelos will be a consideration for the rotation in 2019.
- Alvarez appears headed to the bullpen.
- The bullpen is suspect now.
- Nobody knows how well Seager will return.
- Who is going to play 2B?
- Barnes becomes the starting catcher.
- Machado and Harper will undoubtedly sign big contracts with a team that is in a position to win. The Dodgers have too many questions to be considered a favorite and will probably not be in a position to outbid the Phillies or NYY or Braves or Cubs.
- It is being rumored up in NorCal that the Giants will be going all in on Harper. They lose nearly $33M in Pence and McCutcheon contracts. They can probably move Samardzija and pay half of what he is owed ($9M). Even three quarters will help.
- The LAD farm is good for depth, but not great for All Stars.
- The organization looks for and develops more utility players than solid position players. That is why there is a question on who will play 2B.
- The number 1 pick in the 2017 draft is closing in on being a bust. His best value may be as a trade candidate. The number 2 (Morgan Cooper) has not yet thrown a pitch as a professional. Their #3 (Connor Wong) is their #4 rated catcher. Their #4 (Marinan) was traded for Dylan Floro. Their #5 (Ottesen) and #6 (Montgomerie) were drafted as relievers. Their #7 (Pop) and #8 (Bannon) were included in the trade for Machado, their #9 (Strain) was drafted as a reliever, and their best of the top ten picks right now is #10 (Reks), a non-power hitting corner OF, and already at AA.
- The organization does not have any starting pitching prospects from the 2017 draft (unless Cooper’s shoulder heals up and develops). They still have 2 that are starting; Max Gamboa (18th round), and Brett De Geus (33rd round). They may not stay there, but they are starting because of the lack of healthy starters in the organization. The rest of their pitching prospects were drafted as relievers: Ottesen, Montgomerie, Strain, Jackson, Kasowski, Witt, Willemin, Hoyt, Hemmerich, Ruibal, and Washington.
- They did not sign their #1 this year, their #2 is coming off TJ surgery, but their #3 and #4 have started out as starters (in the lowest of rookie leagues). Will they stay as starters? But I do not think that John Rooney or Braydon Fisher are going to challenge any of the top 1st round pitchers. Thus, their best draft pick in 2018 is the #68 overall pick coming off TJ surgery. Seeing how careful they are with Buehler, how long before Grove will be allowed to pitch without restriction?
There are certainly positives to hold onto:
- Kershaw/Hill/Buehler/Urias/Wood/Stripling/Maeda/Ferguson/Santana – If healthy this will be a formidable starting rotation. Maybe even dominant. But it is a BIG IF, because they haven’t yet.
- That puts four in the bullpen, and I am a big fan of Jesen Therrien for #5. With Jansen and Alexander, Fields/Cingrani/Chargois/Hudson/Stewart/Sborz/Broussard, the bullpen could be good. If Kasowski develops, he will also be in the mix.
- Seager will be back. JT will be healthy. Bellinger, CT3, and Puig (if still with the team) should return to their 2017 levels.
- Kemp could repeat his AS 2018 year.
- Verdugo could become yet another LAD ROY.
- They will sign a free agent or two, and I would think that they will look very long at AJ Pollock and DJ LeMahieu. I think Machado and Harper will be too costly. It’s also possible if NYY signs Harper, Giancarlo Stanton becomes available and there is a match with the Dodgers.
- Smith could make the transition to ML catcher by 2019 (doubtful, but hopeful). Swihart couldn’t do it. Neither could Mejia, Sisco, or Kelly…yet. It takes a while for most catchers.
I want the team to go for it in 2018 because they can win the pennant with a good bullpen. They will not be as good as Houston, Boston, or NYY, but they only have to beat one of them 4 out of 7. In 2019 it gets much harder in the NL.
Yesterday, I suggested a Joc for Chad Green trade with the NYY. I am sure that FAZ can find teams willing to take one of the OF. If not, outside of the top 11, there really is not an irreplaceable prospect. I would exclude Kendall and Alvarez in that statement for the right return. That window only stays open for so long.
Dodger Chatter: Edwin Uceta’s Career Start
Right-hander Edwin Uceta had a six-inning no-hitter going on Saturday against the Lake County Captains of the Midwest League. The 6’0”/155-pound native of Villa Los Almacigos in the Dominican Republic had a career night in registering his third win of the season. He lost the no-no in the seventh inning.
The 20-year-old Uceta was signed by the Dodgers as an international free agent on July 2, 2016. In the Dominican Summer League in 2016 he posted a 1.72 ERA along with a 0.73 WHIP. In 31.1 innings he struck out 28 and walked but three.
He came stateside for the 2017 season starting for the Ogden Raptors of the rookie level Pioneer League. In 14 starts he pitched 56 innings striking out 62 and walking 14. He had a rather unsightly ERA of 6.57 but did have a number of encouraging starts and was instrumental in the Raptors success in their championship play-off run.
Uceta, a bit surprisingly, began the 2018 season with the Loons and has been the mainstay of a rather weak Loons starting rotation.
He recently made it onto the MLB Pipeline Top 30 for the Dodgers moving to middle of the pack at No. 15. His success during the current campaign is credited to the Dodgers development staff for helping make his delivery much more direct to the plate. Also, Loons pitching coach Bobby Cuellar, was his pitching coach with the Raptors during the 2017 season and works very closely with the young right-hander for a second season.
MLB Pipeline notes that Uceta has a change up not usually as well developed for a pitcher of his age.
“Uceta stands out most for his precocious feel for a changeup that can be a plus pitch at its best. He throws it with deceptive arm speed and sets it up with a fastball that sits in the low 90s and tops out at 95 mph. His curveball has gotten more consistent in 2018, giving him an average third pitch to round out his repertoire.”
On the season Uceta has made 19 starts and has a 3.46 ERA. He has struck out 99 in 93.2 innings and walked 27. During his last 10 starts he has an ERA of 2.36 dropping to 1.72 over his last five appearances. In July he has walked 44 and walked 8.
During his last six starts Uceta has gone into the sixth inning four times with two seven-inning appearances. One of those appearances was on Saturday night where he struck out a career high 11 Lake County Captains. He threw a season high 90 pitches, 61 of them strikes. He did tire during the seventh inning and gave up a pair of home runs to the hard hitting Captains who now lead the league with 90 home runs on the season.
Uceta was picked up by 19-year-old Melvin Jimenez who pitched the final two innings of the game won 9-2 by the Loons. Jimenez gave up one hit with one walk while striking out three. In his last 17 innings over eight appearances he has given up but one earned run on seven hits and one walk while striking out 24.
Offensively outfielder Drew Avans had three hits and a walk while shortstop Deacon Liput and third baseman Luke Heyer had two hits each with one of Heyer’s a home run. Liput has 10 hits in his last four games.
Defensively the Loons played errorless ball and turned two double plays.
Of interest the Loons got a taste of major league baseball as closer Andrew Miller of the Indians appeared in a rehab assignment. They touched up Miller for three hits and four runs with the big blow being first baseman Brock Carpenter’s triple.