Getting Ready for Spring Training in Two Weeks

Here it is just about two weeks from players starting to report to Spring Training and they are getting the lockers ready at Camelback Ranch. The LA Beatwriters continue to sat that it is unlikely that Matt Kemp will be on the Opening Day Roster, but I happen to think Matt Kemp will be on the Opening Day Roster… unless:

1. He is physically unable to perform;
2. He is disruptive to the team chemistry; and/or
3. He is traded.

That’s the long and the short of it…. and that’s a lot of “IF’s.” I don’t know if the slow free agent market helps or hurts him, but if Spring Training starts and J.D. Martinez and other Free Agentss are unsigned AND if Boston says “Screw it – we need a bat” would they consider a healthy Matt Kemp if he was tearing up the Cactus League? Maybe…. if he cost them like just $8 million a year. UPSIDE of Kemp: This is a guy who could put up MVP-Type numbers, but that is a far-fetched idea.

I do think the Dodgers preference is to use a younger player in LF and they have plenty of Candidates.  I will rank them in the order I see them:

  1. Joc Pederson– In the World Series, Joc showed he may have made some necessary changes in his swing.  UPSIDE:  This is a guy who can hit 40 HR.  He certainly could win the spot with a his new “hardbody” amd changed approach at the plate.
  2. Andrew Toles– He has been pronounced “recovered” from his knee surgery and is a speedy asset with a good arm in LF.  UPSIDE: This is a guy who could hit .300 with 15-20 HR and maybe even hit leadoff allowing Taylor to hit 5th or 6th.
  3. Alex Verdugo– His callup in September was a “wake up call” as he learned how hard it is to stay at the Big League Level.  He was dressed down by Rich Hill, Dave Roberts and others and has allegedly taken it all to heart.  He has imprived his nutrition and work out routines and seem determined to win a spot.  UPSIDE:  See Tony Gwynn.  THis guy is a stone-cold hitter with a cannon on his shoulder.  Don’t count him out.
  4. Kike Hernandez– THE Super-Utilityman who can play anywhere on the diamond and would seem the least likely to get a starting spot because of his versitility.  UPSIDE:  He discovers his new swing and does a Justin Turner or Chris Taylor and breaks out.  He has excellent power.  He kills lefties, but not so much righties.  He would be an excellent platoon partner with the three lefties ahead of him.
  5. Trayce Thompson– Remember him?  Athletic, talented and soon-to-be 27 year-old who can play all three outfield positions.  He is out of options and I think the most likely scenerio is that he shows he is healthy and is traded during Spring Training. UPSIDE:  5th outfielder and good defender.

Matt Kemp once hit .324 2ith a .399 OB% and a .986 OPS to go with 39 HR and 126 RBI… oh, and he stole 40 bases.  Those guys don’t grow on trees and he’s not THAT guy anymore, especially with his loss of speed, but his RH bat could play big in LF.  We shall see…

Kenley Jansen has given his public endorsement of Matt Kemp (as well as endorsing a strike, but I digress). Now Justin Turner goes on the record in favor of Matt Kemp, according toKen Gurnick:

“I love Matt and he reached out to be a few weeks ago and he worked out with us at the stadium,” said Turner. “I told him, ‘Matt, you’re a Dodger. You’re one of the guys that built this place, so come on up.’ He’s in great shape, running well and he’s serious. He wants to win and help us. Nobody knows what’s going to happen, but as of now, he’s one of our outfielders and still a big impact, right-handed bat.”

… and then there is Yu Darvish who has made it known he wants to come back to LA.  That’s the prime reason to  move Kemp, but it would likely mean moving Grandal and Ryu or Maeda and or Logan Forsythe to clear out the salary space. Darvish at 5 years and $100 mil with an opt-out after year 1 or 2 would be fine with me, but don’t write Grandal off.  The duo of Grandal and Barnes might be the best catching tandem in the major leagues, and Grandal wants his job back.  He has to earn it and he knows that!  There are options and hurdles, but I think there is a decent chance Darvish comes back.

… and then there is Chase Utley.  It looks like he will be back! Maybe Kike and Utley platoon at 2B if Logan makes a Run… get it?  Logan’s Run?  Nevermind.  I’ll stop now.

This article has 23 Comments

  1. The Yu Darvish situation is interesting. I think you are right that it boils down to what they can do with Kemp. I doubt they think we are a better team minus Grandal or Forsythe so not sure they would try to move them just to sign another pitcher–even a No. 2 like Darvish. How long will Darvish and/or the market wait to see . . .

    I would like to see him back. Suspect he and the team are trying to work that out.

  2. FLASH!

    The Dodgers today announced that the following players will be joining the club as non-roster invitees at 2018 Spring Training:

    LHP Manny Banuelos
    RHP Joe Broussard
    RHP Daniel Corcino
    RHP CC Lee
    RHP Mark Lowe
    LHP Brian Moran
    RHP Zach Neal
    RHP Yaisel Sierra
    LHP/RHP Pat Venditte

    Keibert Ruiz
    Will Smith
    Shawn Zarraga

    Matt Beaty
    Drew Jackson
    Max Muncy
    Jake Peter
    Edwin Rios
    Donovan Solano

    Yusniel Diaz
    DJ Peters
    Henry Ramos
    Travis Taijeron

    That is outstanding!

  3. The Dodgers have announced 22 Non Roster Invitees to Spring Training:
    Pitchers: Manny Banuelos, Joe Broussard, Daniel Corcino, CC Lee, Mark Lowe, Brian Moran, Zach Neal, Yaisel Sierra, Pat Venditte
    Catchers: Keibert Ruiz, Will Smith, Shawn Zarraga
    Infielders: Matt Beaty, Drew Jackson, Max Muncy, Jake Peter, Edwin Rios, Donovan Solano
    Outfielders: Yusniel Diaz, DJ Peters, Henry Ramos, Travis Taijeron
    This is a good group of invitees, and will be fun to watch.

  4. Courtesy of TrueBlue LA:
    Manny Banuelos, who turns 27 in March, posted a 4.93 ERA in 95 innings with Triple-A Salt Lake in the Angels’ system in 2017, with 85 strikeouts and 49 walks.
    Zach Neal is a 29-year-old right-hander who pitched parts of the last two seasons with the Athletics. He posted a 4.89 ERA in 30 games, including six starts, with 37 strikeouts and seven walks in 84⅔ innings.
    Travis Taijeron made his major league debut with the Mets in 2017, going 9-for-52 (.173/.271/.269) with a home run and two doubles in 26 games. The right-handed batter struck out 24 times against five walks in his 59 major league plate appearances.
    Donovan Solano spent parts of five years (2012-16) in the majors with the Marlins and Yankees playing all over the infield, mostly second base. Solano, 30, hit .282/.329/.391 with 29 doubles in 99 games for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, his ninth season in Triple-A.
    Pat Venditte pitches with both hands, and put up a 4.97 ERA in parts of two seasons in the majors (2015-16) with the A’s, Blue Jays and Mariners, with 42 strikeouts and 23 walks in 50⅔ innings.
    Other NRIs equally uninspiring.

    1. Rick, the players you have identified are not going to make the 40 man much less the 25 man. They are organizational depth. But Joe Broussard, Yaisel Sierra are two relievers that merit a look see. Not for April, but maybe to keep an eye on in OKC for later in the year. Note – Shea Spitzbarth did not merit an invite, but Brian Moran did. I am interested to see why.
      Ruiz, Smith, Beaty, Jackson, Muncy, Peter, Rios, Diaz, Peters, and Ramos will all get scrutiny this spring. Can Diaz play a ML CF? Can Peters? Can Rios and Beaty play a defensive position at a ML level? How well will Ruiz and Smith handle the Dodger pitchers? If Utley is not re-signed, Muncy and Peter might very well be auditioning for a ML job. Can Ramos make the team as a 5th OF. He is a switch hitter and the same age as Joc and Toles. He is not on the 40 man, but he may make things interesting. I think he logically can replace Trayce Thompson. Is Drew Jackson another CT3?

  5. Two weeks from tomorrow, pitchers and catchers report. Most year’s the roster is pretty much identified for most teams by this time. Certainly with significant roster additions. This year is different with 24 of the top 50 free agents still unsigned, and some very significant players. There are still rumored trades that may be pending dependent on when and where the free agents do sign. Many of the free agents are looking into creating a spring camp for any unsigned player so they can get in their normal work and not lose a lot of time once they are signed. I think Scott Boras should pay for that. The season starts earlier this year, so camp time with “your” team will be very important.
    I think Boston waits out Boras and JDM, and he will eventually sign with them. It is too logical not to happen. But he is not worth $100M more than Justin Upton. I am not sure that I would go beyond what the Angels gave to Upton. The Cubs will end up with Darvish, Arrieta, or Cobb. None of those three or Lance Lynn will get what they are looking for. Eric Hosmer back to the Royals makes the most sense. I cannot see a team signing Moustakas to a one year contract and losing a draft pick. So it should be a much scaled back 3 year contract. I would not pay him more than Zack Cozart even though Cozart is three years older. Cozart had a 5 WAR in 2017, and Moustakas had a 2.2 WAR (per fangrahs). Cozart signed a three year $38M contract. Their career slash lines are also comparable; Moustakas .251/.305/.425/.730; Cozart .254/.305/.411/.716. So who would sign Moustakas for three years, and would Moustakas sign for less than $50M? I have no idea who will sign Holland at his asking price at this time. Most teams signed their relievers early to stay away from the high priced relievers. Tony Watson is still available.
    I cannot see Darvish donning a Dodger uni this year. Is he really worth $11M to $18M more than Ryu? I am not sure that he is. Are the Dodgers better without any of Forsythe/Grandal/Ryu for Darvish? Darvish is not worth going over the luxury tax for. See what Ryu can bring. With the increased number of off days this year, it makes the necessity of the #5 pitcher a little less critical. I am fine with Kershaw/Hill/Wood/Maeda/Ryu to start. Buehler/Urias/Stewart/Stripling/Koehler as needed.
    At this point, I would rather see Grandal back with the Dodgers and compete with Barnes. It only makes them better. Both Ruiz and Smith get to Major League camp this year, and that should expedite their growth. I do not want to mess with the defensive makeup of CT3 in CF and Logan at 2B. IMO, Darvish is not worth that change.
    Also at this point, I am curious to see what Matt Kemp has left. Originally I did not like the number of ABs or defensive innings he would take from Joc/Toles/Verdugo/Thompson, but what if….I no longer see anything that negative in him reporting with LAD. The first sign of negative attitude, move on.
    This is a critical year IMO. While I really would like to see what Max Muncy and Jake Peter can offer, Chase Utley brings a different element to the clubhouse; one that cannot be replicated by anyone else. I would like to see him back on the roster for this last year.
    Let’s see what competition does for Joc, Toles, Verdugo, Thompson, and Segedin. Kike’ is a super utility player, and that is where he should stay. I still do not understand why Thompson has not picked up a 1B glove to make himself more versatile.

  6. Mark, I agree with your rankings of the Left Field options. I don’t think Kemp is capable of putting up MVP numbers, but he could put up 30 bombs with a low.OBP while playing sub-par defense. If you’re going to try to hide a bad defender I guess LF would be the place to play someone. When listening to the media, I’ve always listened to the beat writers before any national media. The national guys just regurgitate the same stories even ones that are years old without due their due diligence. Even though DV is a bit of a doofus especially when he’s sharing his opinions too often on his show, even he has a better pulse of a locker room than any national guys. So, we have the beat writers and Ned saying they don’t see Kemp on the roster while the front office is selling how great of shape he’s in and how good his attitude is these days. It does no good for the front office to announce they don’t see him as an option. Matt Kemp is also going to be on his best behavior unless he’s sitting on the bench while Joc plays LF. Considering how long the free-agent market is taking to work itself out, the Dodgers may bring him into spring training to showcase him. Hopefully, he can get through ST without blowing a hammy. If Dave Roberts actually has to take Kemp and Puig to dinner to mend past feelings then I say no thanks. The Dodgers finally got Puig in a place that they want him. The last thing they need is a guy in the locker room who in the past wasn’t afraid to tear down players who were playing in front of him.
    If the Dodgers were truly involved in the Cain negotiations something has to be up. I don’t think they’re done then. Personally, I’m good with CT in CF or 2B and signing Cain probably would have moved CT to 2B. Maybe not. Joc has to show he’s in shape and can get after balls though and that’s a big if especially considering Verdugo projects more as a corner OF guy.
    I prefer a Grandal/Barnes combo for another year considering Barnes has never caught a lot of innings in a season. If Smith is ready by the second half maybe they move Grandal like Loduca years ago. Both were known to fade in the second half.
    Is Darvish worth the extra money over Ryu? That’s a good question by AC. I think so depending on what he gets. The Dodgers are LH heavy and have no one who is known as an innings eater. Darvish also looked good in his two starts against AZ. He never pitched against Colorado, but we know how Ryu has faired against them both home and away. I wouldn’t give Darvish more than 4 years guaranteed though. I say that as a fan of Ryu, but I do think it is a pretty substantial upgrade. If Buehler or Urias becomes ready then Maeda moves to the pen which would improve the team and limit his incentive bonuses.

      1. Mainly because he’s just coming off the injury. I prefer Toles, but I think Joc(unless traded) will get every opportunity to win the job. I think Toles is a better player. I’m just not sure how cautious they will be with him. It will be a fun camp battle to watch. Hopefully, Joc got the wakeup call that he needed and hopefully, Toles picks up where he left off prior to his injury. I believe Logi Bear will have a solid season, but if both Toles and Joc were clicking it would create an interesting problem for Doc.

        1. Hawkeye


          Joc didn’t do what Puig did when he went down to AAA, so I don’t see what he earned.

          But I always appreciate, your thoughts.

          1. I think Joc is on his last chance. What gave me some encouragement was hitting the ball the other direction in the post-season. If he’s still a doughboy who changes his mechanics every other week, he’s in big trouble.

    1. I think it’s more fair to compare Hill’s salary at $16 M: is Darvish worth more than Hill? I would say yes, and he gives the team insurance if Kershaw walks and might even help convince him to stay. If that means Kemp and Ryu are moved to help clear space then I’m for it.

  7. Normally, I’d agree that most of that group mentioned is “flotsom and jetsum”. But the way these guys have found some gems among scrap heaps leads me to believe 1 or 2 of those above mentioned could make contributions to this year’s division winning team.

    I’m guessing as spring goes, we’ll also see Dennis Santana, Caleb Ferguson, Lux, etc get some big league at bats to see how they look. To me, that is always the most fun part of spring training, like when Kersh came up years ago and struck out Sean Casey on that ridic strike 3 called cureball.

    1. Dennis Santana is on the 40 Man so he will be there anyway. Ferguson, White, Alvarez, Spitzbarth, Garlick will all get some ML action. I do not know about Lux. You have to give a lot of time to Muncy, Peter, Locastro, and Jackson to see where they are at. Angelo Mora, Omar Estevez, Michael Ahmed, and Errol Robinson will also get a look see. It might be tough for Lux this year.
      I am hoping that Cristian Santana will get in a game. There are less 3B to look at, so he might get a chance.

  8. Solve this equation:

    Ryu + Grandal + Forsythe is greater or lesser than Darvish – Ryu – Grandal – Forsythe.

    Do the math.

  9. I have a few players I am keeping my eye on:

    1. Joe Broussard – could pitch in the pen this year.
    2. Yasiel Sierra -If he puts it all together he’s a lockdown 8th inning guy.
    3. Kay Bear – I believe he’s our next Superstar.
    4. Drew Jackson – He’s more than you think.
    5. Edwin Rios – Can he hit a MLB fastball?
    6. Henry Ramos – Chris Taylor and Justin Turner revisited? He suddenly put it together last year.

    1. Sierra seems to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. As soon as he’s put on a 40-man roster, his contract counts against the cap.

    2. I do not know if Joe Broussard is another Grant Dayton or Chris Hatcher. He shows a tendency to be both. This will be his critical year.
      Drew Jackson will get looked at with Tim Locastro. They are both the same player. Locastro a little better base runner, but Jackson has an absolute cannon for an arm. He will get some OF this year.
      I think Rios will hit the fastball, but it is the slider that he may have trouble with. He has a long swing and will commit early. Some power hitters thrive on that. But he still needs a defensive position, and I have no idea what that will be.
      I brought up Ramos all last year. I think he has a real shot at making the team if there are player transactions for the OF. Segedin could be competition because he can play both corner infield spots in addition to the corner OF spots. But I think Ramos is legit, and I really look forward to watching him in Spring. I do not see Trayce Thompson going to LA this year.
      Sierra will not get consideration until next year. And I agree Ruiz has star written all over him. I have not been this excited about a catcher since Mike Piazza, and that includes Russell Martin. Spring will decide where Smith & Ruiz start the year.
      I am looking forward to watching both Diaz and Peters in their first camp. They deserve the opportunity, and they can impress with a good audition. Not necessarily in the numbers, but in their approach and demeanor.

  10. I love ST. I love to see the kids. Someone will play their way on to the team. Look at CT. He should of been on the 25 man roster out of SP last year. When he finally was brought up they could not keep him out of the starting lineup.

    Not a good time to be a free agent. Players will have to settle for less. This is good for baseball. Not for the players.

    If anyone knows the TV schedule for ST, please let me know. I cannot wait.

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