It’s a Great Time to be a Dodger Fan

On February 13, 2017, I wrote this:
I have been telling you a few things over the Winter:
  1. Julio Urias is going to have a breakout year;
  2. Yasmani Grandal will come close to 40 HR;
  3. Willie Calhoun won’t play 2B due to horrible defense and lock of foot speed;
  4. Among Ryu, McCarthy and Kazmir, at least two will be contributors; and
  5. Cody Bellinger is ready.
A few days later, I wrote:
Cody Bellinger! Budding Superstar!  He’s ready, I am telling you!
  • #1 is yet to be determined;
  • #2 won’t likely happen;
  • #3 is still to be determined
  • #4 I was right on; and
  • I nailed #5!

Cody “Freak of Nature” Bellinger!

The fastest Dodger to get to 20 Home Runs in the history of civilization!  What a find!  Logan and Ned deserve a lot of credit for this.  This is a classic example of how players develop differently.  Cody Bellingerwas a 4th round pick and hit 4 HR in his first two years, although he showed he had the ability to hit for average.  Then, in 2015 he broke out with 30 HR and followed that up with 26 in 2016.  Now,  he’s on pace for about 50!  50 would really surprise me, but 40 appears likely.  He just is such an amazing player – they say he’s a huge student of the game, studying film for hours.  That’s how he makes the adjustments when the league adjust to him.  Soon, they will quit throwing him strikes and Chris Taylor, Yasmani Grandal and Joc Pederson will have to make them pay.He’s a good baserunner, so whoever is hitting #5 will see a lot of fastballs.  See, here’s the thing:  First Base now belongs to Cody Bellinger. Adrian Gonzalez has been Wally Pipped!  A-Gon will get a few starts at 1B, but it’s Bellinger’s position.  A-Gon will be a very nice (albeit expensive) pinch hitter and sub), but he will do it without complaint, because (1) He’s a good dude; (2) Even Ray Charles can see Bellinger has to play there; and (3) That’s how he will get a ring.It was suggested that JD Martinez would be a fit for the Dodgers?  Where would he play?  Is he going to take Taylor’s spot?  I don’t think so. I wouldn’t trade Taylor for JD.  After further review, I would not even trade Taylor for Ozuna!  Chris Taylor is the real deal.  He is hitting .302 with a .386 OB% and OPS’ing .909.  He had a little slump but adjusted and is having a very solid year.  He has settled in nicely at #5.  This is a guy who has developed power later as well. He’s also fast (8 for 10 in SB’s) and has 13 doubles to go with his 9 HR in 179 AB’s.  He can also take a walk – he has a good eye and I see him only getting better, not regressing.If necessary, I believe Chris Taylor can play CF on a Championship team.  Chris is rapidly becoming one of my favorites.  I love the way he plays the game!  Joc Pederson has shown signs of improvement and adjustment lately but he is a question mark to me.  With Puig in RF hitting 8th, that position is set.   Taylor has a spot and if Joc can’t cut it, Taylor moves to CF and Alex Verdugo or Willie Calhoun moves to LF.  I hear Franklin Gutierrez is really struggling with his health – more so than anticipated.  He is an excellent pinch hitter against LH pitching, but you can’t have too many of those guys.  Verdugo led off at OKC last night and went 2-4 (.335, .409 OB%).  Calhoun is back at 2B, so they evidently don’t think he can learn LF this season.  I think Verdugo gets the call soon.  Let’s see what he can do in LF!
  • Ross Stripling pitched a clean inning with 2 K’s last night as Thompson hit his 6th HR (.208 BA).
  • Rios continues to rake at AA – he hit his 13th HR last night and Shibuya went 4 allowing 1 hit.
  • RC and GL  not play
I think it was Adam who asked me how my son knew Morgan Freeman:  My son was “first camera” onThe Story of God and flew around the world for 6 weeks with Morgan in his private jet with 2 pilots and 5 armed bodyguards.  So he spent a lot of time with him.  He says Morgan is the best person he has ever worked for and Morgan uses him on other projects as well.  He has shot several major motion pictures (Men in Black 3, etc.) and regularly does SNL.  This is what he does:
                    He flew back for my youngest son’s Graduation and Birthday and Father’s Day. Here he is with my wife and I and my daughter on Father’s Day.

This article has 39 Comments

  1. I agree with you on Bellinger and Taylor. They are going to stop throwing to Bellinger. I hope he has the discipline to take a walk. Taylor is just a good athlete. It does not matter whee he plays. He can hit both lefties and righties.

    Should we worry a little about Kershaw? He just looks a little more human now. Just a small hiccup.

    Yes, I would like to see Verdugo come up. If be can be somewhat like Seager and Bellinger, we will have some great rookies. It looks like the farm is just going to keep producing.

    Roberts is starting to use a set lineup a little more. Some small changes, but I like the lineup. Turner is hitting close to 400. I bet the Mets are not happy, letting him go. We found Turner and Taylor. They cost us nothing. Joc, Puig, Kershaw, Seager, Jansen and Bellinger came through our system. It is just looking good all the way around.

  2. It is great to be a Dodgerfan fan period. Just wondering what player we will go after in July.
    Like Idahoal says the lineup is pretty much set.

    1. I am beginning to wonder what else we need. The Dodgers are straight up loaded. I am sure Doc is looking for a low leverage situation for Brock Stewart so that he can build his confidence, but Brock could be very good outta’ the pen.

      1. It was good to see Bellinger do most of his damage, against a major league,

        Because when we faced the Reds in the series before, most of their pitchers, were more AAA pitchers.

        And after they knocked the starting pitcher out last night, the next pitcher was more a AAA pitcher, but Cody had already did most of his damage by then.

        I have thought of Cody as a left handed Chris Bryant, but Cody is more athletic then Bryant is, and Cody is faster too.

        Kershaw is going to have to watch his first pitches more, and stop being so predictable, when he is down on a count.

        The only reason I think Roberts allowed Kershaw to continue to pitch last night, was to try to give the bullpen some rest, since they won’t be having any days off, for quite a while.

        1. Kershaw’s problems were not first pitch. Nor any sequence or order of pitches.

          One, his curve was off and second he got lazy late in the count.

          1. Bluto

            Maybe your right about last night, but I was talking more about what he has done, over all.

            But thanks for your insight, about last night!

  3. DFA Hatcher already. How much longer does the madness need to go on?

    I know there are those who are in Kike’s camp, but I am not one of them. He is too inconsistent. He follows up a nice at bat with a string of bad ones. I appreciate his versatility but there may be better options out there.

    It may be time to bring up Verdugo and slot him into the lead-off role in CF. Joc and Kike should bring a decent return.

    Grandal is another player I’m not 100% behind. Too streaky. I hope Doc allows Barnes more at bats.

    Thanks for the pictures, Mark. You must be a proud papa.

    1. Mark

      Are you to cool?

      Or are you wearing transition lens, in your house?

      I hope you and your family, had a nice day on Sunday.

      Because that is what it is really about!

      1. MJ,

        My eyes are very light sensitive and I usually wear sunglasses on most days. I was in and out all day, thus the shades. I have no overhead lighting in my office and even if the conference room at work, I wear sunglasses. I have a condition called ocular migraines. My head doesn’t hurt, but I lose a lot of my vision for about 20 minutes when exposed to bright lights.

        We had an awesome day, thanks!

    2. I think they will keep Hatcher or Romo, but hopefully not both!

      Kike doesn’t have a good BA, but his OPS is .789 which is better than Toles, Puig, Utley, Grandal, Gutierrez, Pederson, Gonzalez and Forsythe. Kike is the backup to too many positions. They won’t trade him… especially since h can play SS.

      Thanks! I am…

      1. Mark

        Toles OPS might have been even better, and I don’t think Kike had a better OPS then Toles did, when he went out.

        But you are right, about everyone else.

          1. Mark

            I know it is.

            I was just saying at the time that Toles went out, I don’t think Kike’s OPS was higher.

            And we don’t know what Tole’s OPS would be, if he was able to still play.

            But I know that is just a qualifier, because it could have also went down too!

            I am not knocking Kike, and I don’t think they need to trade him, either.

  4. The Dodgers are now 6th in runs scored, just 1 behind the D-Bags. Still 1st in team ERA and WHIP.

  5. I am not convinced that Taylor is a major league outfielder, let alone a CF. I am unconvinced that Forsythe is going to help the team this year either. You asked above what the Dodgers would do with JD Martinez? I would play him in LF, move Taylor to 2B. There are only so many utility players that the Dodgers need and at this point I would try to unload Forsythe in a deal at the deadline. Martinez would become the #1 or 2 power threat and would give them the righty bat that they need in the post-season against the likes of Gio Gonzalez or Jon Lester.

    I don’t see them being able to make a move for a #2 starter. I do see them trying to upgrade the ‘pen though. There are those who don’t trust Baez and #1 set-up guy and I don’t see the lefty that they need to lock things down either.

    As to the 5 predictions, Mark nailed #5. I don’t think that many of the others have proven out. The Dodgers have received a contribution from McCarthy but not Ryu or Kazmir, Urias is nowhere in sight, and Grandal won’t hit 40 bombs. He’s probably right about Calhoun by all accounts.

    1. I wouldn’t count on Taylor continuing at this level. I’d keep expectations low and allow the team to be surprised.
      I think Forsythe, if Taylor exceeds expectations as above, could be expendable but it’s not worth the risk to move him.
      Bullpen arm. Corner outfielder.

    2. I am convinced about Taylor. I feel the same way about him that I felt about JT after he re-made his swing. I look for him to stay in the .270+ range and hit 20 HR. Martinez will cost a lot. It will take Buehler or Alvarez and Verdugo or Calhoun, in my opinion… or Alvarez and Taylor. I would not do that, especially if you can get him for just a contract after the season.

  6. Didn’t take genius to predict Bellinger was ready. Any half smart Dodger fan who pays attention to the farm knew that. Now if you had predicted he’d have 21 HRs in 50 something games I would proclaim you the new baseball Nostradamus. Will the Snakes and Rox be able to keep up their winning pace all season? I’d say no, but I ain’t no Nostradamus either. I think, at least I’m pretty sure, the Dodgers have better pitching. That gives them the advantage. I hope.

    1. Well, I’m no genius, for sure, but most of the fans I knew thought Bellinger was a year away!

      1. Mark did call Bellinger a long time ago.

        And he is right, a lot of people thought he needed more time, and I was one of those people.

        And most people were skeptics, because of what they saw happen with Joc.

        And a lot of people thought Bellinger’s swing, was much like Joc’s.

  7. I am okay with the rotation of Kershaw/Wood/McCarthy/Hill/Maeda (or Ryu). But I would hope that a decision is made for either Maeda or Ryu to be the #5, and leave it. The other goes to the bullpen, and if they do not like it..too bad.
    I do not share the skepticism as some do on Rich Hill. I agree that he is not even close to being right. If he gets it back to what he can do (what he did do in 2016), then who might be available who will be better? I remember the same skepticism directed toward Wood and McCarthy. They were wrong about those two, and I think they will be wrong about Hill. If he does not come around, okay then I am wrong and the Dodgers move on.
    I am not as convinced that the lineup is set as some have stated. I do not think a championship team has a set lineup with 2 starters hovering around the Mendoza line. Both Joc and Forsythe are showing life, but there has to be more. One or both need to get hot. Chris Taylor has passed them both and shows no signs of looking back. With the Dodgers winning, Doc and FAZ have 18 games before the AS break to let Joc and/or Forsythe play themselves into or out of the lineup. Let them both play against all pitchers through the break. Joc cannot continue to hit .160/.192/.160 against LHP. There is another 15 games after the AS break before the trade deadline. I think Puig also needs to solidify his position as the everyday RF.
    IMO because the Dodgers need to let Joc and/or Forsythe play themselves into or out of the lineup, I would not bring Verdugo up until after the deadline. Alex needs to play everyday. Just like Cody and Corey before him, Verdugo should not be platooned.
    I believe the Dodgers need to fortify their bullpen. I would like to see them go after LH Felipe Rivero (Pirates), RH Tommy Kahnle (White Sox), LH Justin Wilson (Tigers), LH Sean Doolittle (A’s), LH James Pazos (Mariners), RH Nick Vincent (Mariners), and LH Brad Hand (Padres), in that order. RH Pat Neshek is having a phenomenal year, and maybe he can finish up what he started in 2017 in the WS for LAD. LH Alex Claudio (Rangers), RH Arodys Vizcaino (Braves), and RH Tony Zych (Mariners), LH Mark Rzepczynski (Mariners), and RH Ryan Madson (A’s) would be Plan B.
    The Mariners and Dodgers do match up fairly well for a trade: Haniger/Vincent/Pazos and Maeda/Ryu/Rios/Thompson/Alveraz as potential targets for both teams.

      1. No. The Dodgers have a dilemma. They see what many of the other first round picks are signing for and they want to be fair with Jeren Kendall and Morgan Cooper. The Dodgers bonus slot $$$ are $5,794,200 in total. The Twins are $14M+. They signed their #1 Royce Lewis for $6.7M. Lewis alone signed for more than ten teams’ entire pool, and they were still under slot by $1M. For comparison purposes, last year’s Dodger bonus slot money was $9,336,500 with 2 additional supplemental 1st round picks that were both signed (Will Smith and Jordan Sheffield).
        The Dodgers did sign their #4, James Marinan (HS Pitcher) for $825K which was $424K over their slot. They did make up some dollars with signing their 9th (Connor Strain) and 10th (Zach Reks) draft picks for $1,500 each which was $267,400 combined under slot. Therefore the Dodgers are currently $156.6K over slot and they have not signed #1 or #2. The threshold is 5% maximum over slot, or $289,710. If they go over that, the penalty is 75% tax on the overage, plus the loss of a 1st round draft choice. They will not lose a draft choice. There is a reason why so many nondescript RHP were drafted by the Dodgers.
        The Dodgers will undoubtedly try to sign Connor Wong (#3) and #5-#8 for below slot so they can give Kendall and Cooper more what others in those rounds might be getting. Kendall is the one they want to sign. The Dodgers first round slot bonus is $2.7M, and second round is $1.018M. Seattle’s #1, Evan White (#17 overall) signed for $3.125M, and Texas #1, Bubba Thompson (#26 overall) signed for $2.1M. I would expect Kendall to sign for somewhere in the $3M range. Many see #2 pick Morgan Cooper as a potential below slot signee because he is older and because of TJ surgery. The high schoolers are signing for above slot money because they have the leverage. Cooper does not, but I still believe that FAZ wants to be fair, so I would expect Cooper to be around his slot value. The Dodgers will need to make up some above slot bonus for Kendall, and see what is left over for Jacob Amaya, their #11 High School SS. His grandfather was signed by the Dodgers out of Fremont High in 1955, so there will be some sentimental value. But I would expect it to cost big $$$ to get him out of his Cal State Fullerton commitment.

  8. Nice picture Mark. You must have a beautiful family. That is really important.

    If we can pry Haniger away from Seattle that would be a great coup. They got him in a trade from Arizona. So far this year he has really looked good.he is batting over 300 this year. My only concern is that this is his best year in baseball, much like Taylor.Vincent and Pazos are both good relievers.

  9. Certainly is a great time to be a fan, with potentially more good times to come.

    Agree about Taylor being good – it makes the decision not to take him after the ST he had even more puzzling?
    Wonder what our record would be now if he’d started the season in the team.
    Ditto with Cody?

  10. Morrow and Ravin are both better than Hatcher and Romo. I hope Stewart gets a chance soon. I thought Stewart would of pitched last night for one inning.

    If you bring in a right handed hitting outfielder, and I think we should, you have to move Taylor to second. Let Kike, Forsythe, Utley, and Agon be your subs. Bring up Verdugo and let him rotate in the outfield. Sorry Gutierrez.

    Now the bullpen. Avilan, Liberatore or Dayton need to be the two left handers in the pen. If not then we need to trade for one. FAZ needs to figure out the pen, if we are going to go all he way.

    I would give up Maeda, Verdugo and Calhoun for Ozuna. I would even throw in Kazmir.

  11. I have always enjoyed speed so I am intrigued by the lineup the Dodgers could soon have.
    C Will Smith
    1B Bellinger
    2B Taylor
    3B Turner (In comparison to other 3rd basemen)
    SS Seager (good enough)
    LF Toles,
    CF Pederson and Kendell the latter with an 80 score on speed.
    RF Puig
    Verdugo only has average speed. I think he will be traded anyway along with Calhoun.
    Peters only has average speed.
    Diaz is rated at 60
    There is no reason to make a trade now. The team is playing well. If another team were to approach the Dodgers they know what the Dodgers want in return; a lefty reliever.
    Last year I started saying that Stewart and Taylor could be regulars. I think Stewart is the answer to a rotation that has worries about health. Ryu, Maeda, or Hill might could lose their spots to Stewart.
    I also think Kazmir will return but then I have been saying that all year.

    1. I only have average speed, but neither Ben Johnson nor Usain Bolt has never beaten me!

  12. Stuff from around the web:
    Is Kenley Jansen the new Mariano?
    www DOT
    The great Jeff Sullivan on Chris Taylor:
    www DOT
    Dodger prospect Rincon can hit HRs well:
    www DOT
    BP take a look at Brock Stewart and Oaks:
    www DOT
    Finally McCullough takes a wonder on All-Stars and Chris Hatcher in his latest mailbag:
    www DOT

    1. Carlos Rincon, as a 19 year old, hits 38 home runs in the Midwest League Home Run Derby. He bested Vlad Guerrero Jr. in the third round. Guerrero hit a respectable 5 in the round but Rincon hit 20. Rincon has a lot of power, but he is going to need to learn pitch recognition and selection (don’t they all?) to improve his prospect status. At 19 in a full year league, he has plenty of time.

    2. Bluto,

      Thanks for posting that. I don’t have time to surf like I used to. I appreciate it very much!

  13. Having just returned to 113 degrees in Vegas today from a week in Colorado I can say firsthand (every Rockies game is on TV) that the 3 rookies in the rotation while serviceable are starting to wear down. Their bullpen has been good but they are beginning to be overworked as well. Whatever advantage the Dodgers may have in pitching is offset by their lineup, their ability to battle back and their play on the road. I do think they have yet to suffer a long losing streak or much in the way of injuries and the next 6 against the Snakes and Dodgers will tell us a lot.

    Puig is better than Kike, knock off the platoon thing. In his career, Puig has handled lefties, even if not as much this year. Kike is valuable because he is versatile and stays healthy but he’s not a starter and never will be. Forsythe is not able to stat healthy enough to get his stroke down. Taylor has a stick that makes him a must play most games and along with Bellinger and the return of JT have given the offense a boost and taken pressure off of Seager.

    Dodgers need a LH RP and a RH OF bat, and they are out there, just don’t overpay. Maybe they get a #2 starter, look at the Lakers they surprised me today and I liked their deal for Lopez. The Dodgers can win with what they have but there are about 3 jobs not safe and only a handful of untouchables.

    1. Take a look at Puig’s stats against lefties, and Kike’s stats against lefties.

      Kike not only has a better average against lefties, he is OPSing in the thousands.

      Puig is hitting 180 and the rest of his stats against lefties, are terrible.

      1. Kike is killing LH pitching this year.

        Yasiel and Joc are about as useless against lefthanders as hubcaps on speedboats.

  14. In the A All-Star Game:
    Dennis Santana, who some watchers have told BA they prefer to the highly regarded Yadier Alvarez, comes out 94 FB w/sink, 85 CH, filthy 80-82 SL. 2 Ks

    In this MLB game:
    Looks like Forsythe is rounding back into form. Starting to really lace the ball.

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