Beyond Puigmania… It’s CodyPalooza!

Do you really understand what the Dodgers have in Cody Bellinger? When I tell you… you are going to say that it is too soon to say that.  You are going to say that the league will adjust.  You will say it is too small a sampling.  OK… I know what you will say.  But, I am going to say it anyway!  Cody Bellinger is a once in a generation talent!  Puigmania was pretty incredible, but Cody Bellinger has more HR and RBI in his first 11 games than Yasiel Puig did.

For the record, I was never a Puig-Believer.  I wanted to trade him at the end of his first season.  Most fans wanted to burn me at the stake for such sacrilege.  I have branded very few players as Hall-of-Fame worthy since Sandy Koufax.  Let’s count them:

  • Fernando Valenzuela
  •  Mike Piazza
  • Adrian Beltre
  • Clayton Kershaw
  • Corey Seager
  • Julio Urias
  • Cody Bellinger

When he hammered that high and tight pitch into the stands last night, I yelled (to the league in general): “Adjust to that!”   I know they heard me.

Dodger Notes

  • Lest you think Bellinger is the only power first baseman in the system, read whatRon Cervenka of Think Blue LAwrites about Ibandel Isabel today.  The 21 year-old Dominican is absolutely mashing the ball at GL.
  • Eric Gagne Quacks me up by signing with an Independent League Team – the Long Island Ducks.  It would be interesting to see him come back.  The odds are longer than they were for Rich Hill.
  • I hear Ryu will be back in the 10-day period.  Maybe he picks up a MPH or two…
  • Sunit Bhakta of Dodgers Wayabsolutely nails it on Chase Utley, who is the Elephant in teh room:

When Chase Utley re-signed with the Dodgers this past offseason, we all knew what they were getting. He was clearly over the hill and would not be able to contribute much with the bat. He hit .252 with a .716 OPS (but a solid 14 home runs) last season, and there was so secret that the then-37-year-old was not going to be able to hold up as a starting second baseman for a team anymore.

Plus, Logan Forsythe was already on the team, so Chase was not going to get much playing time as it was. However, with Logan Forsythe shelved for the past few weeks, Utley has been getting a bulk of the playing time over at second, and he hasn’t responded in an encouraging way. He’s hitting .100 on the season with a .196 OBP.

If the Dodgers did not have too many players to deal with, then having him in the backup role would not have mattered so much because A: He’d be a bench player and B: He has enough pedigree where you’d expect him to snap out of his prolonged slump.

But that’s not the case. When Forsythe returns, the Dodgers’ front office will have to make a tough decision on who to send down to Triple-A. From that group they’ll have to choose from, one of Kike Hernandez and Chris Taylor will be most likely to be sent to Oklahoma City.

However, both are deserving to remain with Los Angeles. Kike may have an ugly batting average and on-base percentage, but his power against lefties and defensive versatility have been, are, and will continue to be valuable to the team. He has a .828 OPS against the dreaded southpaws. That is something the Dodgers just can’t give up, especially when he is the ultimate Swiss Army Knife.

Then you have Chris Taylor who seems to have worked some magic over the offseason and is flat out raking. All he’s done is hit since being called up. In his 32 at-bats, he owns a .353/.488/.588 slash line with two home runs and two doubles. He has also improved his approach at the plate, as he willing to work the count and take walks. He had three walks against San Diego Saturday night, and four walks against the Giants on Wednesday.  He’s even come through during his small sample size of clutch moments and like Kike can play multiple positions.

He ends with:

How much should you value a great clubhouse presence over talent and production? Is it overrated or underrated? The Dodgers seem to have great team chemistry right now, and Chase Utley is a large reason why. Is his presence more important than the guys who are producing? Do you risk angering your star players and disrupting the mood of the team by taking Utley off the 25-man squad?

Rich Hill Update:

FromBill Plunkett of The OC Register:

The problematic blister – now callous – on the middle finger of Rich Hill’s pitching hand will never be completely out of mind. But something else will step to the forefront when he takes the mound for another rehab start on Tuesday.

“That’s kind of a little bit of the message,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of his discussion with Hill after the left-hander’s most recent bullpen session Saturday afternoon. “If you’re one start away from getting a major-league start, you’ve got to get guys out. I was pretty clear.”

The pad on his middle finger has toughened up thanks to a regimen of Stan’s Rodeo Rub (an ointment created by former Dodgers trainer Stan Johnston) and wearing a bandage during some throwing sessions.

“The finger is holding up great,” Hill said after Saturday’s bullpen session. “I think it’s just getting repetitions and pitching. It’s been ‘How much is too much? How much is too little?’ I think it’s great now. The finger has been great. The results weren’t what I was looking for. But the quantity of pitches and everything was something I can look at and say I’m ready to go.”

Roberts has said “if all goes well” in his rehab start Tuesday, Hill would be ready to rejoin the rotation. The left-hander has the same timetable in mind.

Minor League Report

OKC– 5-1 winners over Round Rock (Texas) – Justin Masterson went 5.2 IP and no runs/6 hits/2 BB/6K.  Willie Calhoun got his 4th HR, and Drew Maggi had a two hit night.  Trayce Thompson had another hit bringing his average up to .103.  Hopefully he is gaining confidence by the AB.  Jair Jurrjens takes the bump today for the Dodgers.

Tulsa– 6-0 winners over Springfield (Cardinals) – Scott Barlow pitched 6 innings of 1 hit shutout ball.  Karch Kowalczyk and Chris Powell finished up the 2-hit shutout. Mike Ahmed had 3 hits while Kyle Garlick had 2, including his 7th HR.

Great Lakes– 8-4 Winners over Peoria (Cardinals) – Devin Smeltzer went 4.1 IP, giving up 4 Runs/5 hits/1 BB/10 K. Brendon Davis and Carlos Rincon each had two hits.  Davis had 2 doubles, giving him 10 on the year, while Rincon got his 8th HR.  AJ Alexy throws today for the Loons.

RC Quakes– Lost to Inland Empire (Angels) 13-4 – DJ Peters and Luke Raley each had 2 hits, with Erick Mejia getting his 1st HR.  Yadier Alvarez goes today for the Quakes.

— Minor League Report compliments of Always Compete

This article has 38 Comments

  1. Article about Utley was spot on. With us starting to get our legs under us and riding the Cody train, do you disrupt the team by cutting Chase? I think if we were really, really struggling record wise they may have already done it, but I don’t think FAZ is looking forward to this decision, knowing that it WILL affect the star players, who love the guy. You know Roberts is pulling for the guy also, he doesn’t want to break up a good thing right now. Simple cure, Chase needs to start getting some of those line drives to fall and get on base. Success cures everything, it’s just not happening for him right now. Hate to see him go out like this.

    1. I seem to recall that when AJ Ellis was traded for Carlos Ruiz last Summer that clubhouse chemistry was overrated and even if he was the team’s best player’s best friend that talent should determine who stayed and who left. Why is it different for Utley? He is hitting far worse than AJ Ellis was and isn’t a lifelong Dodger like Ellis was.

      1. I agree Dodgerrick, it killed me when they traded AJ Ellis out of the blue. Then got rid of Ruiz later on after the season. Loved AJ, I really hope he comes back to the Dodgers as a coach or minor league manager one of these days, he’s a lifer Dodger.

  2. Bells is certainly putting on a show, let’s move him up in the order please, CLEAN UP anyone?!?! And KEEP him there!
    Utley, I love the man, but you gotta go, this is a youth movement.
    I am excited to possibly see the complete REVAMPED lineup package tonight, Forsythe who!?!? Love to see this today:
    Excitement is in the air!

  3. Well said Truth – the team is beginning to come together, momentum is gathering.
    Cody has to hit 4th.

  4. McCarthy hurt his left shoulder lifting weights. Syndergaard probably lifted weights too–right to the DL. What do you guys know about weight training for pitchers? Doesn’t sound right to me. I’ll bet Maeda lifted, too, in the offseason.

    1. I guarantee that all pitchers lift weights.

      They said McCarthy “tweaked” his shoulder, lifting weights. That can mean any number of things, but usually it means you may have overdone some aspect and need another day to recover. With any activity, there is a recovery period. Let’s hope he wasn’t power-cleaning 275.

      My 17 year-old works out very seriously and some days after workouts he is very sore. Then, he is fine the next day.

  5. Talk on another site about the misuse of Kershaw and Jansen last night. Kershaw left in too long with a big lead; Jansen allowed to throw too many pitches, so that today he is not available. Any thoughts? Kershaw tossed 118, and unless the thought is to let him finish the game, why leave him in? I don’t think that was ever the plan, i.e., to finish the game.

    1. Bobbie17

      I think Roberts needs to keep balance with Kershaw, so Kershaw is still fresh, at the end of the season, and for the post season, if we make it.

      Kershaw needs to learn when he doesn’t still have it!

      And he doesn’t need to pitch eight or nine innings, every time he starts.

      It has been obvious, that Kershaw hasn’t had it, in the last couple of innings of games, because he has given up more HRs, in these last two innings, lately.

      Kershaw acted like a big baby last night on the mound, against a team, with mostly young players.

      Kershaw has to know that he gets more pitches from umpires, then most starting pitchers, do.

      Again, Kershaw needs to know when to come out, and also think about the team, too.

      He will be better for the team throughout the season, if he will learn, to monitor himself, and let Roberts make the right move, for not only Kershaw, but for the entire team.

      We could have lost that game yesterday, by catering to Kershaw, to much.

      And I do love the fact that Kershaw works hard, and wants to pitch in tough situations, but he needs to mature, and know, he isn’t the best choice for the team, when he doesn’t still have it.

    2. Bobbie 17,

      What I wonder about is that yesterday you wanted the Dodgers to take off the pitch limits and then when the do, you talk about misuse. I wonder if they can do anything right in your eyes.

  6. Gutierrez removed with a tight hip last night? His body can’t seem to hold up playing the OF, but with 4 straight games against RHP he won’t be needed in the field. This is a chance for Joc and Grandal to step up. Taylor needs to start 2 of the 4 games instead of Utley. Toles is making a case to not be platooned so much. Bellinger has already tied Turner with 14 RBI’s, and is in a 4 way tie in HR’s with 5 (Puig, Seager and Toles) Puig has 18 RBI’s, Seager 17 and Toles 15. Those are the big 5 and yes Bellinger should bat cleanup.

    Good to see Roberts saying Hill needs to get guys out if he wants to return. That’s why he is in RC and Kazmir is in AZ. Just because they have a big contract and want the ball does not mean they get it unless it’s likely they produce results. Maybe McCarthy needs a spotter in the weight room? Does he bunt if he can’t swing a bat?

    Let’s get out the brooms and then come home for the Pirates! After that it’s on to Denver and SF and the team looks up to the challenge.

    1. Vegas

      And Toles hasn’t had the luxury of starting and playing, in almost every game, as Puig has.

      And Puig has shown a reverse split, against lefties, this year too.

  7. While I don’t want to see Kershaw throw 118 pitches every outing, I think it is necessary to do so periodically, to keep him stretched out.

    Jansen has not been pitching a lot, so I have no problem either way. I think both Kershaw’s and Jansen’s usage is nothing. Not good, not bad. just not a thing.

  8. Once Oaks and Stewart are able to get into the rotation for a couple of starts and show that they are reliable the Dodgers can feel saver to trade McCarthy. Hopefully there will be a team that is confident they have a chance for a WS appearance if they can add a McCarthy that would allow the Dodgers to obtain more that McCarthy is worth now.
    I keep repeating myself and sorry about that but Gutierrez should be just a righty pinch hitter and A-gon just a lefty pinch hitter. Utley can be the lefty pinch hitter until A-gon returns from the DL.
    Toles has nailed down the left field job and should not be platooned. Now Joc needs to do the same for the CF job. Kike’ can sub in for all three outfielders when a lefty is pitching, and yes, that includes Puig who has not shown he can hit lefties any better than Toles or Pederson has shown.

    1. Bum

      I am glad that you mentioned that about Puig.

      Because Puig has not put out very good stats against lefties, this year.

      And his stats against lefties, mean a little more, then the other players, because he has faced more lefties, then most of the team.

      Because Puig has started and played, in every game, but one, this year.

      And our team has faced more lefties, then any other team in baseball this year, and by a lot.

      And the last time I looked, Puig wasn’t hitting above 150, against lefties, this year.

  9. People – it’s just the Padres! When they show they can beat a real team I will get excited.

  10. Lost in all of this is that Kershaw cares! He wants to win and wants to put the team on his back. How can the team not see that and feed off of it? Try taking the ball from Drysdale or Gibson in their day! Yes he should have been pulled earlier but there are reasons he was left in. Cody’s heroics made it all a moot point and let’s criticize a 10-2 win!

    1. Some people would complain if you delivered them $100 million in cash from winning the lottery. They would complain that you didn’t ACH it!

    2. Vegas

      I think the team already proved that to Kershaw, when they brought their offense, and play, to another level, when Kershaw went out on the DL, just before, the Allstar break, last year!

    3. Vegas

      Sometimes what is best for the team, is having Kershaw come out, not only to win that same game, but to be stronger throughout that season, and fresher for the post season, if we make it.

      Roberts has to have the team in mind, and what is also best for Kershaw himself, because Kershaw isn’t there yet.

      There have been times during the post season, when people’s first concerns, are more about Kershaw, finally getting that monkey off his back, then the team winning, the game.

  11. I was thinking it must be hard for Corey right now, because he is going through a rough patch, and Cody is producing so much, right now.

    I know Corey isn’t a player that wants a lot attention, but it has to be hard on him, right now.

    But Bellinger, isn’t hitting at the top of the order, like Corey is, and has, since the first day, he arrived, into the majors.

    And we all know it is tougher to hit in the meat of the line up, so I think it is time for Cody to make that next step, and hit in the meat of the line up.

    I was more impressed that Cody was able to hit that ball out, without getting hit, by the pitcher last night, more then anything else.

  12. Today’s game postponed until Sept 2nd, I will count this as a 2 game sweep. It’s nice to have a day off for the pitching staff as they play 14 games before the next off day. It will be a nice and short trip home today.

    MJ, I just loved the emotion Kershaw showed in last nights game. Yes it is a delicate balance to leave your ace in to face another hitter or two, between his psyche and what’s best for the team. If it’s a shutout yes leave him in until a runner(s) get on with someone already warming up in the pen. No one wants a World Series more than Clayton and AGon. Big Picture that’s why they want Utley around as well for his experience and leadership.

    Bellinger dares pitchers to come inside and makes them pay when they do. A young Pujols used to do the same thing and would turn on the pitch. Cody already takes the outside strike the other way and if he lays off the outside pitches out of the zone and the low breaking balls and the up and in balls he will walk an awful lot also. He is one tough dude to pitch to already and will get better.

    1. Vegas

      At the point Kershaw is in, in his career, he needs to look at the bigger picture.

      He was facing a team that has a payroll, less then what Kershaw makes, this was not the time, for Kershaw, to act this way.

      He has bigger fish to fry.

      And that is bringing a World Championship, to the LA Dodgers, so he needs to save it, for later.

    2. Vegas

      Does the way that Cody takes over the plate, remind you a little like, of Rizzo?

  13. At the risk of catching flak for making another comparison, I thought I would look at and compare the first 11 games of Kris Bryant as compared to Cody Bellinger. Bryant (23) started his career about 18 months older than Cody (21). They both hit in 8 of their first 11 games.
    Bryant – 51 PA/ 41 AB/ 14 H/4 Dbls/10 RBI/9 BB/10 K/ 1 GDP/2 SB .341/.471/.439/.910
    Cody – 46 PA/42 AB/15 H/1 Dbl/1 Tpl/5 HR/14 RBI/4 BB/8 K/0 GDP/1 SB .357/.413/.786/1.199.
    Pretty comparable starts. Bryant got a few more on base PA, while Cody showed more power. Bryant hit his first HR on May 9, 2015. Kris finished his 2015 ROY with 26 HR and 99 RBI, .275/.369/.488/.858. Last year Corey hit 26 HR with 72 RBI and a batting line of .308/.365/.512/.877. I am sure Cody would take either of those sets of year end numbers.
    The Dodgers face three RHSP in the Pirates series. Here’s to Cody keeping it going.

    1. AC

      I think that is an excellent comparison.

      They are both very good hitters, and very good athletes, that can play more then just one, position.

      Bryant must be a little older then Cody though, so that is good for us.

      But once Cody takes over first for good, I wouldn’t want Roberts, to play Cody, in any other position.

      The Cubs move Bryant around in different positions on the field, and I wouldn’t want the Dodgers to do that with Cody, even if Cody can do that.

      I would worry it might take away from his game a little, and there is always the risk of injury.

      1. MJ, I think the Cubs would like to have Bryant settle more at 3B than move all around. He has only played 3B this year after playing in all three OF positions, 1B, SS and 3B all last year. Javy Baez is the primary 2B, and Zobrist is back being the super utility player.
        I didn’t see anyone else mention it, but I thought you would appreciate that Brett Anderson is back on the DL with lower back concerns.

        1. AC

          I didn’t know about that.

          I did see him fall on the mound a while ago, but I haven’t been watching a lot of baseball, other then the Dodgers, lately.

  14. He does remind me of Rizzo at the plate a bit but is faster and a much better fielder. I like the comparison to Bryant also as they are both well rounded players with few weaknesses. Cody has already backed off the plate a bit to handle the inside strike and has been laying off more pitches out of the zone and fouling off 2 strike pitches to get one he can handle. He punishes mistakes and will be pitched more carefully. No one knows how he will adjust as the pitchers get a book on him but I’m pretty confident he makes the adjustments. Not much competition for ROY in the NL this year.

    Manny Pina of the Brewers is hitting .333, is 29 and has little power with 1 HR and 7 RBI’s.
    Jose Martinez of the Cards is hitting .313, also little power with 1 HR and 4 RBI’s and just went on the DL.
    Antonio Senzatela of the Rockies is 4 and 1 with a 2.84 ERA, striking out just under 5 per 9IP.
    Wandy Peralta of the Reds has 13 appearances out of the BP, no saves but 13.5 K’s per 9 and a 1.42 ERA
    Christian Arroyo of the Giants is a guy we have seen, he is at .250 with 3 HR’s and 6 RBI’s so far.
    Andrew Toles and Grant Dayton are both rookie eligible.
    Bellinger’s path is pretty clear right now and the media is on him early.

    Most of the studs are in the AL this year:
    Matt Davidson, Yulieski Gurriel, Mitch Haniger, Aaron Judge and Andrew Benintendi.

    1. Vegas, seeing Mitch Haniger’s name reminded me of that trade last winter involving Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger going to the M’s and Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte going to the DBacks. Both Haniger and Segura have been huge upgrades for the M’s and Walker has been a good addition to the DBacks rotation. Not great numbers for Walker, but I would not expect great numbers for DBack pitchers at their home park. Marte who was okay at the ML level in Seattle, is having a great season at Reno. I think this is one of those trades that did what it was supposed to do. I do think the M’s got better production from what they anticipated thus far from their return, but I bet both teams are happy.

  15. Come on Vegas… I wasn’t going to say anything, but it is the Padres as someone said!!
    ” try taking the ball out of Gibby and Big D’s hand in their day”??? Really??? Between those 2 aforementioned pitchers they had 422 complete games!!! Repeat 422…
    They don’t pitch 6 and split, they finish…
    In now-a-days BP era for guys it’s no fuss no worry… Have you looked at Kersh’s annual ???
    It is what it is, Kersh was pouting and does that a lil more than he used to… Just be there for me in the post season and dont worry about May…

  16. Fair points Peter, in those days if you crowded the plate guys like that dusted you off and no one charged the mound. They owned the outside corner and didn’t nibble much-here it is, hit it! I just remember the glares they gave their manager at the top step of the dugout when considering a hook! Funny thing though that means you have to pitch out of it, which Kershaw didn’t do. And no question guys like that would be paid a ton today and be well worth it. If Tommy John surgery existed in Koufax’s day he might have pitched a few more years also. I liked Kershaw’s intensity but it was a bit over the top when he did his spin dance move!

  17. If anyone has not done so, I heartily recommend that you do read Ron Cervenka’s article on Ibandel Isabel. I mentioned his name to Bums earlier this year for a slugger to watch. Ron gets to know the Rancho ball players as well as anyone else out there, and on a very personal and friendly level.
    Ibandel is the California League leader in HR (9) and RBI (29). There are other league leaders in the organization as well. Carlos Rincon (Great Lakes OF) is the Midwest League leader in HR with 8. He is #3 in OPS with 1.034, while Brendon Davis (Great Lakes 3B) also has a .900+ OPS. Kyle Garlick (Tulsa OF) is #2 in HR in the Texas League with 7. Edwin Rios (Tulsa 3B) is #3 with 6. Rios is the league leader in slugging % (.615), and #3 OPS (.999).

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