It’s Early, But Keep Your Eyes Open

I watched the Brewers feed yesterday. I sometimes do that just to hear what other baseball people have to say about the team and certain players.  On e of the Brewers announcers said this:

“The Dodgers have 10 legitimate Major League Quality Starting Pitchers.”  “This is a team with a great deal of depth. They are built for the long haul.”

I actually think it’s more than 10, because at least Trevor Oaks is ready to.  A lot of teams would love to have in in the mix for their #5 spot and he’s not even in the Dodger’s second five!

The Dodgers might have signed Joe Blanton for $4 million before they signed Romo, but they have too many pitchers already!  I have doubts they are interested anymore.  I would advise everyone to have their eyes open, but whether a player does well or poorly this early usually means nothing.  Can they keep playing well?  Can they start playing well after playing poorly?

Obviously some players have the team made: Turner, Kershaw, Grandal, Seager, Pederson, Gutierrez, Utley, Hill, Maeda, Barnes, Jansen, Puig and Romo among them.  Then, there are guys who could make the team or be sent down: Segedin, Hernandez, Taylor, Toles, Liberatore, Stripling, Stewart and others.  Also, we have players like Ethier, Kazmir, Ryu and McCarthy who, if healthy, will make the team or be traded, and then there are the non-roster invitees like Culberson and Ike Davis who have at least a chance.

Hatcher has looked bad – obviously if he keeps on that path, the decision will be easy.  Morrow was not as bad as his stat line.  Stripling was not good and Hernandez has not played well.  As Eric Karros used to say “It’s early!”

Rants & Raves

  • At this stage of his career, Chase Utley looks more than ready for his new role, and I think he could put up some monster numbers in 200 AB’s this year.
  • Ditto for Franklin Gutierrez!  Between Ut and Gut, the Dodgers could have the best L-R pinch hit tandem in baseball!
  • Austin Barnes didn’t get a hit, but he was outstanding behind the plate yesterday.  The Brewers announcers raved about his defense.
  • On Cody Bellinger’s homer that left the park, Dave Roberts said this:  “Haven’t seen many guys in the big leagues that can hit a ball like that.”I would not be afraid to start the season with Bellinger at 1B, although the only way that is likely to happen is if Davis and Gonzo are on the DL.
  • BTW, Davis played very well.
  • I know why MLB doesn’t show pitch speed early in Spring Training, but I would like to see the progression as pitchers work back into shape.

Today’s Music

This article has 25 Comments

  1. Bellinger also made caught a one hop throw to complete a double play and made it look easy.
    I still like Taylor and still want him to make the 25.
    Verdugo is tat man.
    Can’t say that Blanton would be better than what the team already has.
    Wondering if Gutierez will make the team as a pinch hitter or instead SVS will make the team as a platoon player at first and OF. Not sure both will happen. Doubt it.

    1. To give Grandal more rest and keep his bat in the lineup, the Dodgers could use Grandal at first base against lefties.
      At some point Thompson will either get cut or proven healthy and productive and be the righty bat in LF which tied to Grandal playing more first base could also hurt SVS’s chances to make the 25. Utley and Turner can also play first.
      I like Gutierez and Utley being pinch hitters.
      My WAG is that SVS is the outfielder most likely player to be traded.

  2. Yes, Dodgers organization looked stacked!! Lots to be excited about.

    Regarding Blanton, I think HawkeyeDodger on prior thread makes a good point. Maybe (NO for sure they are) FAZ is looking at the trade market for a “lights out” set-up guy. I agree with him that Baltimore looks like a good trading partner, they need starting pitching and lefty outfielders. Givens or Brach from Baltimore would be very nice, but I would still like Blanton back on a one year deal in addition.

    Dodgers need a quantity for quality trade. How about Ethier, Kazmir, Hatcher and cash for either Givens or Brach? Is it possible to attach the cash to Ethier so the luxury tax hit is in 2017 because he is an expiring contract? Would be great if no cash goes with Kazmir so his salary is off the books in 2018.

  3. As I indicated in the last thread, I make ZERO conclusions or assessments based on two ST games. They are just flat out fun, and I get to watch many of my AAA favorites, like O’Koyea Dickson. With that being said, with the number of players at ML camp, the opportunities for those on the cusp could be limited, so it does behoove them to perform well when afforded that opportunity. Is Chris Taylor going to get more chances out in CF over Kike’? How many more chances is Chris Hatcher going to get? Or Josh Ravin? I am a big fan of Brandon Morrow, but his next time out on the bump must show better results. It is not because they pitched poorly in their 1st outing; it’s because there are a lot of RHRP in camp, so they need to pitch well to keep getting those opportunities. ML Camp Invitees RHRP Madison Younginer and Fabio Castillo have earned a 2nd shot. LHRP should be okay for LAD, but Patrick Schuster and Edward Paredes both will get another shot. If Stripling wants a spot on the 25 man, he is going to have to come in and throw strikes in a relief role, not walk the 1st batter after getting two strikes. If memory serves me well (and at my age I do not remember), this was a problem Ross had last year.
    I do not worry too much about Barnes. He needs to continue to concentrate on his catching right now. While not at the ML level, he has proven he can hit. Keep working with the pitchers and playing well defensively, and the hitting will come. He will not have to hit .280 (or .250) to stay on the roster.
    In yesterday’s thread, Hawkeye opined that instead of Blanton, he would like to see LAD make an effort to get one of the Orioles middle relievers. I have long been an advocate of Brad Brach, but I doubt that Baltimore is going to give him up without an overpay. Baltimore has got two years before Britton and Machado move on, and with a not so healthy farm system, they really have two years to contend. Seth Smith and Brach become FA after 2017. Wade Miley is their only potential LHSP, so maybe a Kazmir or Wood would get things started. Knowing FAZ loves the high risk/high reward players, maybe you look at Kazmir or Wood (to replace Ubaldo Jimenez), Chase De Jong, and Willie Calhoun for Brad Brach and Hunter Harvey. The Orioles get another LHSP, move Jimenez to the pen, get two AAA top 30 prospects, and the Dodgers get a legit RH set up and a potential boom or bust RHSP prospect (the perfect player for FAZ). FAZ fans will love the gamble, while the FAZ detractors will deride them for giving up two top 30 prospects for another injury prone pitcher.
    A follow up comment on the purebred vs. junkyard dog thread; I believe that Logan Forsythe is going to be a big junkyard dog this year. He will do whatever is needed to win. He is JT at 2B. I know Friedman loves him, so I would not be surprised to see him get an extension, which I would not object to. Or do whatever it takes to get Ian Happ out of Chicago.
    One pitcher I want to see more than any other in any ST game is Walker Buehler. I believe he is an Ace/Co-Ace in the wings. The entire FO was reportedly watching him in a minor league camp outing over the weekend. In 2019, the starting rotation could conceivably be Kershaw/Urias/Buehler/Stewart/Alveraz.

    1. Let’s not under value what a healthy Kazmir or McCarthy might be worth to a team. McCarthy had success in the AL East and is a SP who is only making $10 million a year for only 2 more years. When right, Kazmir was more than a #5 like he would be with the Dodgers. Sure they might now have to buy it down a bit, but and it is a big but, if Kaz is healthy the Dodgers would be trading a pitcher who is more than likely going to give a club 180 quality innings of SP. Someone like Wood who is cheap and controllable for 3 years should have value too.

      Like I said in another post. More scouts will be watching the Dodgers SP and OF this spring than any other ball club.

  4. A couple thoughts:
    * I’ve read some opinions predicting that Bellinger could make the team as an OF. Given the current set of outfielders, it would be quite a feat for Bellinger because I would imagine would only win out if he were good enough to start and play everyday. I think the Dodgers would rather have him getting reps in AAA until he has an opportunity to get significant PT with the big club. They’ve already got Joc, Puig, SVS, Ethier, Trayce Thompson, Franklin Gutierrez, Kike/Chris Taylor/Culberson in the outfield.
    * I didn’t get to see Trevor Oaks live, but I’ve read some good things about him. He sounds like he could be a good innings eater. From the looks of it, he will be on the AAA roster and a good option to backfill in case of injury or rest for the big league rotation. I’m interested in seeing Chase De Jong pitch because he sounds like he could be a similar asset as Trevor Oaks.
    * I had not heard of Shea Spitzbarth before – does anyone know if he is just more organizational depth or is he another arm to keep an eye on?
    * Maeda pitches today. Supposedly, he’s got a new cutter that could help him be more efficient in getting outs. I wonder if he’s going to debut that pitch at the game today.
    * I was expecting Urias to go to extended Spring training to limit his innings this season. However, there was an article somewhere claiming that Roberts intends to have him with the club from the start of the season and limit his innings by keeping his outings short. His reasoning was that Urias has “high aptitude” and essentially is still growing as he gets more real time experience. If this report is true, then the Dodgers should go and sign Blanton (not as a setup like last season) but as a long reliever.

    1. Right now, Spitzbarth is organizational depth. He was an undrafted FA out of Molloy College in 2015. While Molloy College is not going to attract a huge number of scouts, Shea was very good in the Cape Cod League and got the attention there. He is a reliever who spent most of the year at Great Lakes (full season A Ball), with a late promotion to Rancho, where it did not go very well for him. I followed him last year, because he was with Great Lakes, and I followed that team quite a bit. The Midwest League is a pitchers league where I would expect Shea to pitch well, and the California League is a hitters league and he will be tested there if he indeed returns to Rancho. If he pitches well, he can then become someone to follow. The Dodgers minor league system is loaded with RHRP, so he is going to have a lot of company on his trek up the organizational ladder.

  5. I think that FAZ finally has their stamp on the farm system.

    I believe that of the Top 30 Prospects, 22 were acquired by FAZ!

  6. Bellinger has a long swing. Buggy-wip style. I think it will get him in trouble. I would jam the crap out of him and never let him get his arms extended.

    1. There is no doubt that Cody Bellinger has a long swing, and he is going to need to shorten it in certain situations to be a high average hitter. His power in undeniable. But I am not as worried about inside pitches. A good lefty is going to give him problems (like most left hand hitters), but Bellinger has an open stance that allows him to clears his hips on an inside pitch. His hands are quick enough that he can stay on a late breaking inside pitch more so then perhaps Joc Pederson. Kershaw/MadBum/Lester/Price do not let that inside pitch leak over the plate, which is why they are so tough on left hand hitters. When the not-as-gifted lefty doesn’t keep it inside, hitters like Bellinger will crush it. Where most lefty hitters open their stance to better deal with the inside pitch, they become very vulnerable to the slider low and away. This is where Bellinger is going to improve as he gets more experience against good left-handers. His right foot steps directly toward the pitcher, so while he is open, he will be able to stay back and drive a pitch away up the middle or into left field. This is where Joc needs to improve. Joc has shown glimpses, but he needs to be consistent. Hopefully facing lefties on a more consistent basis, he will get more comfortable with that approach. Much like Seager, Bellinger has shown an ability to change his approach and adapt, so that with experience, he should get better. While not a secret, and certainly not unique, it was interesting that Sean Casey gave a tutorial on his approach for lefties hitting lefties a week or so ago on the MLB network, and he described exactly what Bellinger is working on. Jim Thome also offered his advice. Both Casey and Thome acknowledged that they were not very good against lefties at the ML level until they routinely faced them. I think Cody is closer to a Sean Casey than to a Jim Thome. If he can have a career like Sean Casey, I believe Dodger fans will be very happy.
      Where I think Bellinger’s big vulnerability is, is in the off-speed pitch. He has such a big swing that it will be hard for him to lay off the off-speed pitch. He can become over committed so much so that we will see more swings like Saturday’s, where he ends up on his front knee.

  7. Bellinger does have a long swing but I have watched him closely since he went from Rookie ball to RC is 2015 to Tulsa, OKC and the AFL in 2016. Cody knows when to dial it back and he has shown me repeatedly that (like Cory Seager) he makes adjustments easily! He will strike out a lot, but he will have a much high BA than JOC. He adjusts on the fly. You remember his long swings, but he knows when to do that and when to just cut down.

      1. Yes he does. That’s the big difference to me. And let’s not confuse big with long either. Seager swings hard too. Bellinger’s swing is somewhere between Seager’s and Joc’s.

        1. Hawkeye

          Bellinger sounds like our Chris Bryant, with his versatility, and the way he is suppose to hit, once he gets at the major league, level.

          A top prospect guy, said he has the best power, of any prospect, in the minors.

          And I know the Dodgers will mainly, just keep him at first, even with his versatility.

          He might play in the outfield, if he comes up early, but that will be it, I think.

          I don’t think it is smart of the Cubs, to use Bryant the way, they do.

          He is to valuable to the Cubs, to risk playing him, in those other positions, I believe.

          1. Once he completes finishing school at AAA he’s going to be a nice weapon to have as insurance this year and down the stretch in September. He’s definitely going to be pushing to get on the roster somewhere.

  8. Always Compete, I enjoy your takes! Boxout, I too feel a quantity for quality trade coming, perhaps a 3 team doozy. This team can really grind it out on offense and is resilient. With any kind of pitching I like our chances and the Giants are worried. Does anyone else feel the Rockies could surprise this year? They have a helluva lineup top to bottom.

  9. Vegas Dodger
    I think the Rockies are going to be quite worrisome this year. They are much improved. Maybe not enough to win the division but they will make it interesting. Giants look good. I am excited about the Dodgers but don’t forget the Rockies. They will be in the mix.

    1. Agreed. Dbacks should also be competitive, depending on injuries. Padres are awful; no pitching at all.

  10. Rockies looked the part today: probable opening day starter Jon Gray pitched well, and 3 long bombs. A healthy Jake McGee anchors the bullpen for them and they have some good young arms battling for spots in the rotation. No team likes to travel to Coors Field. Josh Fields looked awful today-tough to win scoring 1 run.

  11. I got my Baseball America Prospect Handbook today. BTW, I have every one they have ever published! They said that “The Dodgers have first baseman Adrian Gonzalez signed through the 2018 season, but Bellinger will be ready before then.”

    I think he’s ready now.

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