Oh What A Relief It Is

Over the last few years, we Dodger fans have become accustomed to botched relief in post season appearances.  Which is why I have included one of my favorite images of reliever Steve Howe and catcher Steve Yeager following the final out  of the 1981 WS.  I have been fascinated with relievers since my first Dodger hero, Larry Sherry.  From Clem Labine, Ron Perranoski, Phil Regan, and Bob Miller to Eric Gagne and Kenley Jansen and the multitude of solid relievers in between.

Over the years, reliance upon a bullpen rather than just a closer have enhanced.  How long have the Dodgers been looking for that bridge to Jansen?  Without Morrow, that leaves Pedro Baez and Josh Fields as the two remaining RHRP under Dodger control.  Neither pitcher has shown an ability to be that bridge.  Stripling and Stewart can move to the pen permanently, but both are more likely to be used as long relievers and both are also potential trade consideration as back end starters for another team.  Wilmer Font (if not DFA’d) and Fabio Castillo (if retained) could be replacements, but would anyone feel comfortable with either pitcher over Morrow?  How about Yimi Garcia?  Josh Ravin?  I have been an advocate of Wilmer Font, even though his inaugural Dodger outings were less than inspiring, but not more than Brandon Morrow.

It is unlikely that the Dodgers will re-sign Tony Watson, leaving Tony Cingrani as the lone LHRP from the playoff roster.  It is hard to know what role Cingrani will play next year, but thus far as a Dodger he has been most effective as a loogy. Grant Dayton and Adam Liberatore will be returning from the DL and join Luis Avilan as LHRP possibilities.  Edward Paredes will also be in the mix.  Does anybody feel comfortable with any of these as the bridge?

Waiting for their shot are RHRP Yaisel Sierra, Jordan Jankowski, Joe Broussard, and Madison Younginer, and LHRP Luis Ysla. Sure one of these can become the 2018 version of Morrow, but not likely.  For a team that is built to rely on the reliever because there is only one SP who is considered a sure bet for a 175+ IP pitcher, they are counting on a lot of question marks in the pen being answered.

Kenta Maeda was highly successful in the pen during the playoffs, but with his contract being heavily incentivized by the number of starts and innings pitched, it is doubtful that he will moved to the pen during the regular season.  I think it is more likely that Maeda is traded before he is placed full time in the bullpen.

Friedman and Zaidi have shown reluctance to spend much on relievers, instead preferring to go with unproven pitchers.  Many have worked, and others have not.  Without Morrow, who becomes the bridge?  Baez (again)?, Stewart ?, Font ?, Dayton ?, Liberatore ?, Sierra?. It is hard to argue with the success the bullpen has had under FAZ, especially before the playoffs.  Or do the Dodgers continue to look for SP that can lengthen their start putting less stress on the bullpen during the season?  We already know that their is an unwillingness to increase the number of pitches for Hill, Wood, Maeda, and Ryu, and it will be even less with Walker Buehler.  Multiple relief pitchers are less important to a team like the Nationals who had 4 pitchers with more IP than any Dodger in 2017…Gio Gonzalez (201), Max Scherzer (200.2), Tanner Roark (181.1), and Stephen Strasburg (175.1).  CK led LAD with 175.0 IP.  CK was theonlyDodger pitcher that accumulated enough IP to qualify for the ERA title.  How would the Nats chances look with the addition of Brandon Morrow combined with Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson all in high leverage relief roles?  The Nats are in a win now mode for 2018.  How about the Dodgers?


In the Arizona Fall Classic Saturday evening, the Dodgers had two players participate, Yusniel Diaz and Matt Beaty.  Diaz went 1-3 with an RBI, while Beaty went 0-1 with a walk and a strikeout.  Padres SS prospect Luis Urias had a HR in the game.

Overall in the Arizona Fall League:

Will Smith – .378/.431/.58/1.009; 4 doubles, 1 triple, 1 HR, and 11 RBI

Yusniel Diaz – .273/.353/.364/.717;1 double, 1 HR, 7 RBI

DJ Peters – .185/.267/.407/.674;1 double, 1 triple, 1 HR, 3 RBI

Matt Beaty – .191/.224/.383/.607; 3 doubles, 1 HR, 5 RBI

Michael Boyle – 2-0, 7 Games, 9.1 IP, 4 Hits, 1 BB, 8 K, .96 ERA – Nothing across after 1stgame.

Andrew Sopko – 1-1, 14.1 IP, 4 BB, 7K, 2.51 ERA

Shea Spitzbarth – 7.0 IP, 2BB, 11 K, 7.71 ERA

Isaac Anderson – 8.0 IP, 3 BB, 8K, 3.38 ERA

This article has 43 Comments

  1. AC

    I like Morrow a lot, but how long can we sign him, because he has had injury issues, throughout his career?

    Also why didn’t Will Smith play in this game Saturday, his numbers really stand out, from the other players you listed?

    1. I watched that game and Diaz had a beautiful line-drive hit right up the middle and made a great running, back-to-the-plate catch in RF. I don’t know if he will ever have power, but he has the other four tools. I believe he can play CF.

      1. I do not see him developing the power necessary to be a corner OF, but he may be able to play CF. He is playing RF a lot because of his arm, but he is going to have to show CF defensive gap capabilities at the next level.
        It was a good game. With the exception of Angulo (Indians prospect), it was a fairly well pitched game. Angulo is another head scratcher as to why he made the team. I thought Michael Boyle deserved that spot.

    2. Cannot answer that. The West squad had 2 catchers; Andrew Knizer (Cardinals) and Max Pentecost (Blue Jays). Knizer deserved to be on the roster, but not Pentecost (who started). Certainly not deserving over Smith. But I am also certain that there were many more deserving players than Matt Beaty. It is a nice game to participate in, but it does not have any long term considerations.

  2. MJ,
    With respect to Morrow. A lot of pitchers have had injuries through their career. Andrew Miller was a mess before he concentrated on relief. Morrow is following a similar path as Miller. His injuries were primarily present when he was a starter. He has been healthy the last 1 1/2 years exclusively used as a reliever. Morrow just got through pitching in all 7 WS games, and he was still hitting 100 on Game 7. I cannot predict that he will not get injured again, but there is risk in every contract. From the 2017 season I saw, Morrow looks good for at least 3 years. I would have no problem offering him 3 years. The real problem is does he want to be a setup or closer.

        1. JT and Kenly could have gotten more on the open market than what the Dodgers signed them for. I suspect it was (only “ONLY“) 4 or 5 million more over the life of the contact, but they could have gotten more. If Morrow is offered 4 year/$48 million from some team, then he has to take it, but if another team offers him 3 years/$28 million and the Dodgers offer him 3 years/$21 million…. maybe he and the Dodgers can find some common ground.

    1. What is puzzling to me is San Diego not bringing Morrow back after he had a healthy half year with velocity. Faz made a great signing with a 1 year $1 M prove it deal. In their minds he is a set up guy and I would love to see a 2 or 3 year deal accepted. On the other hand Faz also probably feels they can find another guy who breaks out. Unless there is a hometown discount I think Morrow leaves. Watson is another candidate to be brought back, he made $5 M last year and can get righties out. He would cost less than Morrow. There are numerous candidates from the minors also that you mentioned, including guys like Font who could go all out in shorter stints.

      A decision must be made to today on Forsythe’s option, I think he will be brought back but I could be surprised. He would make less than Kendrick and while not the hitter Howie was he is a better fielder. Other than those 3 I believe every other free agent is allowed to walk, including Darvish, Granderson, Utley, Gutierrez and the already cut loose Ethier. I appreciate all that Andre has done for the team but Father Time is undefeated, and he should probably retire or go to the AL.

    2. It’s been reported he would like to return and play for the Dodgers in 2018 so I think he knows Jansen will be the closer so maybe a deal can be worked out as long as it’s only for 3 years.

  3. For some reason my long comment got lost some place in cyberspace! I come to this site, some days multiple times to keep abreast of the Dodgers. I sometimes find myself double-minded as I ponder the excellent posts from various contributors. On many issues there is not just one right answer! On a side note, can anyone tell me a good source for getting good information on the Winter Leagues?

    1. Depending on the information you want you can go to the following:
      This is a MLB site that includes all of the winter leagues. If you scroll to the bottom, you will have a statistics section that you can get player statistics from every organization playing in the Winter Leagues.
      Baseball America is a great publication that covers the Winter Leagues as well.
      The Arizona Fall League has their own website that is very informative.


    I keep thinking about five things: Jansen’s blown save in Game 2;. Kersh’s failure in Game 5; getting Darvished twice; Turner batting around .130; and Bellinger striking out 29 times.

    Congratulations to the Houston Astros and especially to the true co-MVPs for winning the World Series: Yu Darvish and Dave Roberts.

    If Darvish fails the Dodgers once, shame on Yu. If Darvish fails the Dodgers twice, shame on Dave Roberts.

    Darvish Nightmare Scenario Part 2:
    He signs with the Cubs and shuts down the Dodgers in Game 7 of the 2018 NL Championship Series.

    The Astros lost 100 or more games in a season three times in the last 10 years. The organization respects its fans so little that it forced them to watch awful baseball for the better part of a decade while it built a winning team through high draft picks obtained essentially by losing on purpose.
    The last time the Dodgers lost 100 or more games in a season? 1908. Thank you to the Dodgers organization for putting a competitive team on the field every year through smart drafting and visionary trades and free agent signings. We never have to stomach bad baseball and the World Series championship is going to be so much sweeter when it happens.

    Cody Bellinger is surely hurting. But he should be reminded of Gil Hodges, the Dodgers’ greatest first baseman, who in 1952 went 0 for 21 in the World Series against the Yankees. One series does not define a ballplayer.

    For those who are already beating up on Dave Roberts: The team won 104 regular-season games, and got into the World Series. Put on your thinking caps and recall which Dodger team and what manager did better in the last 29 years. I suppose it’s hard for those befogged by the endless local media hype to discern, but Houston is a very good team, one that broke out of the gate faster than any other in the major leagues, and effectively won their division by July. The Astros had a great season, and the Dodgers a very good one.
    Thank you, Mister Roberts, and my gratitude to your squad for a most entertaining run!

  5. Suspicions proven correct, Dodgers pick up Forsythe’s option.
    Great line from Eric Stephen @TrueBlueLA (one of my favorites) in response to who are the untouchables for a Stanton trade:
    “His contract”
    Hee hee.

      1. When Trout, Machado, Altuve and Co hit the open market in the near future will Stanton’s contract seems so outrageous especially if it is bought down a bit with some other contracts? Right now he is set to average $28.5 million a year on the remaining part of his contract. I’m sure the Dodgers could add him and purge enough contracts to still get to a payroll level that is acceptable. They trade is depth. The very depth the Dodgers sought to acquire when they unloaded Gordon and Kemp. Forsythe, Ryu, McCarthy, Joc, Grandal, Maeda all have value to other teams. As much as I would like to think otherwise, Gonzalez and Kazmir are sunk costs. Maybe a Kazmir can be moved in such a deal just to offset some salary. It would only be $8 million because his money is deferred for three more years after he’s off the team. The versatility of guys like Taylor and Kike make it possible to move a guy like Forsythe if they have too. Taylor could play 2B because the Dodgers have options in CF with Toles, Verdugo, Joc, Puig, Kike all being able to play CF and Diaz maybe knocking on the door by September. I would have no problem including some decent prospects like Alvarez if the Marlins were willing to take a McCarthy off our hands. Gonzalez’s contract has become a real albatross. I will say that I’m not that high on moving Grandal unless it is to make a big splash.

      2. Speaking of Eric Stephen, his payroll spreadsheet shows Either accounting for $20,000,000 in 2017 and zero in 2018. Is that correct? Does his $2.5 million buyout count against 2017 and not 2018. I would have thought differently.

        1. I believe Eric is correct. As I understand the CBA, it is the salary payments made up to December 1 that count against the salary cap in that year. Thus if the buyout was paid in November, the buyout will go in 2017 and not 2018.

          1. I am no expert on the CBA, but here is the language per the CBA:
            “Determination of Salary
            The determination of a Player’s Salary for a particular Contract Year
            for the purposes of interpretation and application of this Article XXIII
            only shall be in accordance with the following rules.

            (1) General Rule
            “Salary” shall mean the value of the total compensation (cash or
            otherwise) paid to a Player pursuant to the terms of a Uniform
            Player’s Contract, including any guarantee by the Club of payments
            by third parties, for a particular championship season. Salary shall
            include, without limitation, the value of non-cash compensation such
            as the provision of personal translators, personal massage therapists,
            and airfare and tickets exceeding normal Club allotments. Consistent
            with the rules set out below, all compensation paid to a Player pursuant
            to the terms of a Uniform Player’s Contract shall be attributa-
            ble to the Contract Year(s) in which the Player is required under the
            Contract to render services to a Club as a baseball player, regardless
            of how the compensation is characterized under the Contract.
            (2) Average Annual Value of Guaranteed Multi-Year Contracts
            A Uniform Player’s Contract with a term of more than one (1)
            championship season (“Multi-Year Contract”) shall be deemed to
            have a Salary in each Guaranteed Year equal to the “Average Annual
            Value” (“AAV”) of the Contract (plus any bonuses subsequently
            included by operation of Section E(4) below). The AAV shall be calculated
            as follows: the sum of (a) the Base Salary in each Guaranteed
            Year plus (b) any portion of a Signing Bonus (or any other
            payment that this Article deems to be a Signing Bonus) attributed to
            a Guaranteed Year in accordance with Section E(3) below plus (c)
            any deferred compensation or annuity compensation costs attributed
            to a Guaranteed Year in accordance with Section E(6) below shall
            be divided by the number of Guaranteed Years.

            (i) A “Club Option Year” shall mean a championship season
            covered by a Uniform Player’s Contract in which the amount
            payable pursuant to paragraph 2 of the Contract becomes due or
            guaranteed at the election of the Club or by reason of specified
            performance by a Player. Club Option Years shall not be considered
            “Guaranteed Years.” In addition, any other championship
            season included in a Multi-Year Contract that is not a Guaranteed
            Year shall be treated as a Club Option Year.”
            I am not an attorney; however how I am interpreting the clause, and probably how Eric Stephen interpreted the rule, Ethier’s club option was not a guaranteed year, and therefore the buyout payments would be included in the guaranteed years or 2017.

  6. I read that the Dodgers out-righted to OKC Dickson which I expected. I believe that puts them at 41 which means one more has to go.

  7. I cannot see anything definitive on what year a buyout counts against a teams payroll, but Andre Ethier’s contract for 2018 would have been guaranteed with 550 plate appearances in 2017 or 1,100 PAs in 2017-18 and he would have been paid $17.5 million for 2018… or the Dodgers could have decided to pick up the option and the $17.5 million would have counted in 2018. If the salary counts for 2018, why would the buyout not count for 2018? That seems illogical to me.

    Of course, not everything is logical, but Cots Contracts has the option in 2018.

    1. I think it comes down to what is guaranteed being accounted toward the AAV if Eric is correct. I would have thought the $2.5 million counts toward 2018, but would happily be incorrect.

    2. It comes down to only guaranteed years are considered in salary calculation and AAV. 2018 would have been a guaranteed year had the Dodgers exercised the option, but since they did not, there is no guaranteed year to allocate the payment, thus the payment would go into the year it was paid. The contract was only guaranteed through 2017. The CBA specifically states that club options are not considered “guaranteed years”.
      It would be nice to get a clarification from someone who actually understands legalese as it relates to the CBA.

  8. Some talk about the Dodgers trading Grandal this off-season and whether that would be a good move or not. I would make the trade now and receive some value in return, as opposed to losing him in FA after next season for almost nothing, especially if Barnes becomes the everyday catcher and Grandal becomes a 7 million dollar backup.

    1. I totally agree, Grandal has value and whatever happened in the playoffs must be eating at him. I know he missed some practice time before the last two series but it was maternity leave and before the WS his baby was born. He barely played and was healthy, it was a bit head scratching especially with all the righties Houston used. Barnes has a ridiculous contract, 2 years team control and 3 arbitration years. If they extend Grandal they block the young catchers in the system and Barnes. They could sign him for 1 year at $7-8 M and trade him at the deadline but he has the most value now. Your earlier comment that Morrow wanted to return was welcome news-hope they work it out! I was happy to see Forsythe brought back and Culberson could take Utley’s roster spot. There are multiple players who can move around as needed to play 2B and Forsythe can also play multiple positions. JT needs frequent time off and Cory should get a bit more too. Even Cody can sit against some top lefties.

      1. They better make darn sure that Barnes can handle the full-time duties. He handled about 1/3 this year. While the team is finally deep at catching in the minors, none of them are scheduled to be ready next season. I like Barnes as much as anyone, but he’s got a ways to go with his throwing. I’m not opposed to moving Grandal, but it better be for more than trimming salary.

        1. I like Grandal too but how he was used in the post season tells me they have moved on. Not sure why though and you’re right Barnes has not proved he can hold up for a full season of catching. The safe move would be to sign him for 1 year, see how the kids are playing while splitting duties with Barnes. At the deadline they could move him for something useful or they could keep him and give him a QO. It’s hard to say what Faz will do but we will find out soon.

  9. End of season press conference at DS with Faz at 11:00 AM PST. Probably hear an update on coaching staff, some front office changes, perhaps an update on Honeycutt and any off season surgeries that are scheduled. Conference will be live on Sportsnet LA for those who have the pleasure of having such service.

  10. Regarding Stanton, I guess what I don’t understand is if the team is going to commit to $295m & 10 years, why not wait for Harper/Machado next year.
    That way you:
    – don’t also give up players
    – have a chance to get under the repeater tax
    – not go through the loooing glass with equity/pseudo equity
    Other Notes:
    Keep an eye on Christian Santana, a 3B prospect. Below is a link to his old swing:
    The team has smoothed out the swing and his “hit tool” is much improved.
    Friedman spoke today:
    – he expects Rick Honeycutt and rest of coaching staff to return.
    – he’s hopeful Corey Seager’s elbow will heal without surgery.
    – he expects Adrian Gonzalez to be healthy and in Spring Training in 2018.
    – he expects Yimi Garcia (Tommy John surgery) to be in the bullpen mix in 2018.
    – Kenta Maeda is viewed primarily as a starting pitcher.
    – he expects Dave Roberts to manage for a long time, but would not discuss if a contract extension is being considered.
    – he left open the possibility of bringing back free agent Yu Darvish.
    – Shohei Otani is “a situation we are monitoring closely,” but “premature to talk about right now” because posting system in flux. ALSO: if the Dodgers were to sign a player talented enough to both pitch & hit, he’d look forward to the challenge of making it work
    – he said it is too early to say what aspects of his roster need offseason improvement.
    – “I hope we have that headache.” — Friedman on having too many starting pitchers in Spring Training.
    – he expects Toles to be ready for Opening Day

    1. Not just Harper/Machado, but if you are going to commit that much time and $$$, why not minimize the risk in years and $$$ and look at JD Martinez. He is expected to get 5 years around (just north of) $100M. Minimize year 1, and increase when AGon comes off the books. Harper and Machado are going to get crazy $$$.
      I have talked about Cristian Santana all season. He is a find. I am glad you added the youtube. He should be ready when JT’s contract is up. Hopefully his power will develop and his defense will improve in short order. At 6’2″ 175 and 21 (in February), Santana has a good basis and time to fully develop his power potential. He should be at Rancho in 2018.
      Thanks for the write up on what Friedman spoke on today. I did not get a chance to listen.

  11. Don’t forget Kyle Farmer as a backup to someone next year. The suits are obviously high on him. Plus he can play3b and was a major college shortstop. I saw him with RC and he was the best hitter on the team which included Bellinger.

    1. Cody Bellinger was at RC in 2015 at age 19 where he hit 30 HR and had a .873 OPS.

      You are right, Kyle Farmer was there at the same time (age 24) and he had 1 HR but did OPS .911.

      What defines the “best hitter?”

    2. If the Dodgers believe in Farmer as a catcher it would definitely make it much easier to move Grandal, but I’m not so sure they believe he is there defensively. I was able to watch the press conference on Facebook. The Maeda question is interesting. I think they have to say they see him as a starter. The way they structured his contract would could cause issues with his agent if they just announced now that he was moving to the pen. I think they will give him an opportunity to win a spot in the rotation. Zaidi did mention the big uptick out of the pen though. Barring a trade or injury Kershaw, Wood, Hill, Ryu make four lefty starters leaving Maeda, Buehler, McCarthy all vying for the 5th spot with Urias probably coming back post All-Star break at some level.

      1. One thing that FAZ didn’t say is that getting under the luxury tax is a priority. Getting to a lower penalty may be the ultimate goal if they want to improve the ball club. Adrian Gonzalez might shock the world and come back healthy and ready to go, but the reality is that he’s a $22 million hole in the budget who has 10/5 rights which may prevent the team from getting under $197 million if they want to improve the roster enough to win it all.

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