Spring Training is Just Like Christmas in February.

Okay now that Yu Darvish is signed, sealed, and delivered to the Chicago Cubs, who is the next domino to fall?  21 of the top 50 are still unsigned, and 6 of the top ten.  Interestingly, 5 of those 6 are represented by Scott Boras (JDM, Hosmer, Arrieta, Moustakas, and Holland).  Is it collusion, or is it anti Scott Boras?

 

So what does that mean for the Dodgers?  The Nationals are still strong.  The Cubs are arguably as good as last year, but I am not so sure.  The Cardinals need a big year from Ozuna and a bounceback year from Wainright and Wacha to be a contender.  Yadi is another year older.  Kelly should be a more than adequate backup C, but one never knows until a prospect can actually show what they can do.  Tommy Pham, who I like a lot, needs to have as good a year as he had last year, and he is moving to CF.  Busch CF, may take something out of his offense.  The Cards could be good or not.

 

The Brewers will be improved, but they are going to sorely miss Jimmy Nelson.  Will Thames play like he did in April or more like May, June, and August?  Braun is another year older.  Cain and Yelich make their offense better, but enough to offset a declining Braun and a May/June/August Thames?  Stephen Vogt as their catcher leaves a little to be desired.  I do not know if Lucroy would want to go back, but he is running out of options.  Any team that is relying on Yovani Gallardo as a potential starter is in serious trouble.  I do not see the Brewers as a real threat to the Cubs or Cardinals.

 

Other than the Nationals, there is no NL East team that is anywhere close to contending.  That leaves the NL West.  The DBacks will be in contention.  They have the offense, and with Greinke, Ray, and Godley, they have a good 1-3.  Walker and Corbin are an okay 4-5; Walker more so than Corbin.  With Bradley in the pen, they are still formidable.  Pollock, Lamb, Drury, Peralta will need good years to make up for loss of JDM, and if they can get anything out of Tomas that will be gravy. I am not sure if Avila is an upgrade over Iannetta.  The DBack pitchers were pretty good with Iannetta back of the dish.

 

The Rockies lost too much and there is too much reliance on a very young rotation that did not finish 2017 very well.  Mark Reynolds carried them in the beginning of the year, and CarGo at the end of the year.  Both are now gone.  Davis, McGee, and Shaw make their bullpen pretty good, but they may get warn out unless the starters can go deep.

 

The Dodgers lost four months of Brandon Morrow and two months of Yu Darvish.  Their starting rotation of Kershaw/Wood/Hill/Maeda/Ryu is as good as any starting 5 in MLB and arguably the best.  But their playoff rotation is questionable without a solid RHSP.  As I previously stated, in my opinion the Dodgers were never really a potential long term home for Darvish.  They did not need him to get to the playoffs for 2017, and I do not believe he is needed to win the division in 2018.  I also do not believe Buehler is ready to be a playoff starting pitcher, nor is Stripling or Stewart.  Just like 2016 and 2017, they are going to look into picking up a starting pitcher at the trading deadline, this year a RHSP.  FAZ has generally gone after rentals at the deadline.  I know everyone is talking about the great group of free agents next year, but the best of the RHSP are Garrett Richards, Ervin Santana, Matt Harvey, Cole Hamels, followed by the likes of Jason Hammel, Miguel Gonzalez, James Shields, Josh Tomlin, and Wily Peralta.  Not a great group.  Of the better selections, Richards and Santana figure to be very much in the thick of a pennant or Wild Card race and therefore do not figure to be moved.  Of the rest, only Matt Harvey figures to have anything close to TOR potential.

 

IMO, in the AL, the Yankees, Boston, Indians, Astros, Angels, and Twins will still be in contention in July.  Maybe the Blue Jays and Mariners, but I think they are long shots.   That would leave the O’s, Rays, ChiSox, Tigers, Royals, Rangers, and A’s as teams that should be preparing for 2019 by July 2018.  Chris Archer (Rays), Jake Odorizzi (Rays), Michael Fulmer (Tigers), Kendall Graveman (A’s), Hamels (Rangers), and Shields (ChiSox) could be targeted.  Of that group, only Michael Fulmer excites me, but the Tigers will not trade him. Hamels could be this year’s version of Verlander who may have two months left in him, especially if the Rangers follow through with their 6 man rotation.  Graveman and Manaea are the two A’s who will not be going anywhere.  That would leave Archer and Odorizzi as potential rotation pieces.  Neither are needed to get to the playoffs, but will they be good enough for the playoffs?  I am not so sure they are.

 

In the NL, I believe that the Dodgers, DBacks, Cubs, Cards, and Nats are solid contenders.  The Brewers could be.  I do not believe the Giants are nearly close enough to contend.  That would leave the Reds, Pirates, Mets, Braves, Phillies, Marlins for teams outside the NL West that figure to be sellers at the trade deadline.  The Marlins have Dan Straily, the Pirates have Ivan Nova, Jameson Taillon, and Chad Kuhl. The Reds have Anthony DeSclafani.  The Phillies have Aaron Nola, and the Braves have Julio Teheran.  I like the potential of DeSclafani, Taillon, and Nola, but I do not believe any of those will be available.  The Bucs will want to move Nova, the Phils will want to move Velasquez, and the Reds will want to move Homer Bailey.  The team that has the most potential RHSP that may become available is the NY Mets.  Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, and Zach Wheeler are all pitchers that could be TOR.  Syndergaard is not going anywhere.  Maybe just maybe Jacob deGrom might be available for the right price.  Matt Harvey will certainly be available.  Wheeler is just not established enough to consider for the playoffs.

 

I would hope that the Dodgers will make a serious run at Jacob deGrom.  And while I am not fond of Matt Harvey,IFhe is healthy, I think maybe pitching for a WS ring in his walk year just might humble him enough to be a non-controversial clubhouse guy.  I also think that Cole Hamels will get consideration, especially if the Rangers agree to pick up his buyout.  Remember most wanted Darvish over Verlander last year.  Most thought Verlander was done and too expensive.  Verlander got the ring, not Darvish.

 

The Dodgers also have questions that may change their deadline plans.  Will Kershaw’s back stay strong all year?  Will Corey’s elbow be an issue, or his back?  Can CT3, Austin Barnes, and Cody Bellinger duplicate 2017?  Will JT hold up all year, or is he going to need more rest.  Can Logan Forsythe play at the level the Dodgers thought they were getting…the one that played in April?  Whatever is wrong with Puig, will it affect his season? Can Kemp actually play nice with others?  How deep can Wood, Hill, Maeda, and Ryu pitch in 2018?  Who will be the 8th inning guy?  Who is going to be on the bench for the Dodgers…Kike’, Grandal, ?, ?, ?  Joc figures to be one, but Toles and Verdugo may have something to say.  Utley could be (or Peter or Muncy). Trayce Thompson or Rob Segedin? An 8th relief pitcher?

 

Spring Training starts this week with pitchers and catchers first workout on Wednesday.  First full squad workout on February 19.  First ST game on February 23. Be on the lookout for that surprise RHSP who will come available in July.  I think this is the year, the DodgersSHOULDgo all in, and go all the way.

This article has 44 Comments

  1. I agree with most of what you say AC. Every year there are problems with every team. We have the depth to absorb most problems.

    The one person I disagree with you on is Beuhler. I believe he may be in the starting rotation out of ST. If not, he will be there early in the season. He has four plus pitches. The only question seems to be control. I have read articles and some think he does have good control. They say his fastball is consistently in the 95-100 mph range. I just believe if the Dodgers put him in the rotation, and rest him when needed, he will be the right hand pitcher we need at play off time. I prefer to look at our own players first. If that does not work out, then we will have to trade for someone.

    1. Idahoal

      I was beginning to worry about you, because you haven’t posted here lately.

      I think Buehler’s command should be better this year, because he is another year away from his TJ surgery

      I am hoping that Buehler can make more of a difference this year too.

      But I do trust AC, that Buehler is not quite there yet.

      But we can still wish.

    1. Bum

      If Kemp can play defense adequately, he just might be the leftfielder, because I can’t see anyone else in the leftfield competition, being the offensive player Kemp is, especially if he is highly motivated.

      Why would Roberts platoon him, when he hits righties better then all of the other candidates?

      And that is if Kemp is on his best behavior.

      1. I think FRAZ will want to keep Kemp rested regardless of his contributions. Who plays depends on who performs and that includes Kemp, Joc, Toles, Taylor, Forsythe, and Puig.
        .
        If Joc comes to camp fit and quick he might move Forsythe off second base in that Taylor would move there.

      1. Tommy told Doc right after game 6, “that they haven’t done shit until they win the World Series.” How they should have won it…is not my problem. I’m sure all the players have thought this through, but the fact still remains…according to Lasorda, whom I consider to a be a foremost expert on Dodger baseball…They Ain’t Done Shit! Yet?

        1. Am I gonna call them the” Ain’t Done Shit Boys” until they win it all…

          Maybe?

          Last season they were self proclaimed to be “This Team.”

          As far as the players go…they can and are gonna have to find a way to do better. As far as the coaching staff goes, I like what they are doing…again though, they need to do better. As far as thr front office goes, they are trendsetters, they are smart, I am learning from them every day…but they can do better and they are gonna have to.

          I read what you all have to say about what should be done…I enjoy that, more-so than disecting stats. You’ll come too learn that I’m generally pretty upbeat and positive.

          I also don’t dwell on things very long…

  2. The Dodgers are attending Timmy Lincecum’s showcase… hummmm. Could he be re-invented as a reliever?

  3. Fun levelheaded read to start the morning AC. For reasons I’m unable to grasp I woke up with Roger Miller’s ‘King Of The Road’ playing only in my head. Don’t know where my brain went during my sleep but I hope it’s tied to this Dodgers assembly.
    In Utley I trust. Who could be better trusted to keep things smooth in the clubhouse with the kids, Kemp and Puig? They’re all kids and this moment they should know should be their happiest of their lives because it’s going to define their lives and there’s no better place for that than being a Dodger right now. So make it count boys! CHEERS! And screw Scott Boras!

  4. If Kemp truly has lost 50 pounds, even Ray Charles can see that would impact his defensive performance, quickness and lessen the impact on his hips. This could be amazing news and even the loudest Kemp-bashers may have to come to love him. OK, I am given to hyperbole… but here’s where it all starts. I’m allowed to do that.

    1. Kemp’s rookie card listed him at 6′ 4″ and 210 lbs. He is still listed the same. He would have to had been 260 lbs at some point after he left the Dodgers and the time he returned for him to have lost 50 pounds. But, the 50 lb loss came from one of the Insider publications and reported on MLB Network this morning.

      1. I used to be 6′ 4″ (now 6′ 1-1/2″) but I weighed 260 once and dropped 40 pounds in a month when I was in my mid-30’s so that is indeed possible.

    2. I’m more concerned with the reason he put on 50lbs, then him taking it off. 50lbs can come off easily with dieting. The mental aspect of a ballplayer getting that far out of shape is what I’d want to address. I mean did he get depressed and give up when he was in Atlanta?

  5. Pablo Sandoval was fatter than Matt Kemp, and I”m not sure Pablo had 50lbs to lose. I can’t see how Matt lost 50lbs, unless 20 of that was muscle!! He wasn’t that obese.

    Regardless, if he is lean and mean, then hell, we got a keeper. He was on his way to being the greatest LA Dodger hitter ever in my opinion before the shoulder, ankle, hip issues. Let’s see if he can bat 6 or 7 and give us some serious lineup length.

    I disagree about us needing an Archer type, whose main draw is that he’s an innings eater. The LA Dodger pitching staff doesn’t need 1 inning eater, because we use the 10day DL and OKC pitching staff so often. We have 3-4 guys who will eat innings, and that worked out very well last year. I’d rather 2 guys combine to pitch Archer’s innings, as their ERA’s would not be as high as Archer’s is. Who cares if he gives you 200 innings, when those 200 innings come with a 4 ERA??

    1. I agree, if Kemp is in that shape, and he has the motivation, he will be better on defense, especially with these shifts.

      Because these shifts not only put our players, in the best place to make the play, they have made a lot of our players, better on defense.

      And I haven’t read one report yet, that said Kemp can’t hit!

      But Bobby, I would move him up to fifth, to protect Cody.

      Because Kemp did a pretty good job, protecting Freddy Freeman, in 2016, because Freeman, had MVP numbers, that year.

      And this was on a team that was rebuilding,

        1. Bobby

          You know I always respect your opinion.

          Is that out of respect to Puig?

          You should look at their numbers, but Kemp didn’t hit fifth, he hit fourth, so that is an even harder place, to hit in the order.

          1. Puig’s numbers were fine hitting 5th after they committed to it full time. Once they settled him into that position permanently he did well. Those numbers were skewed by his troubles hitting lefties the first part of the season. At this point in their careers, I want Puig hitting there. Kemp may have hit higher in the order the last couple years, but that is because he was on bad teams.

      1. Hey, I hope Kemp returns to old form but he didn’t protect anyone in Atlanta. His .OBP was atrocious the last three years and he was a double play machine when on the field. Freddie Freeman is just a great hitter. Yes, he ran into some HR’s but he was hardly a feared hitter. Let’s hope the new attitude and weight continues. He knows that he was sent out of 3 locker rooms for being a cancer. He was never good at routes to the ball. I don’t expect that to change. I do agree the shifts can help though. The missing piece to the discussions about Kemp returning to form is plate discipline. If he’s flailing away at bad pitches it doesn’t matter what kind of shape he’s in.

        1. Hawkeye

          Kemp did have a good year in 2016, and the Braves announcers gave him credit for helping Freeman.

          If Turner Ward can stop Puig from flailing away on sliders on the outside corner, he can do that with Kemp.

          Kemp hit 35 HRs, in 2016 when he was healthy.

          When was the last time we had someone hit that many HRs, in our outfield?

  6. By Jeff Todd | February 13, 2018 at 10:14am CDT
    .
    10:22am: There’s a deal in place, per Heyman (via Twitter).
    .
    10:14am: The Dodgers appear to be closing in on a deal to bring back infielder Chase Utley for another run with the organization. Jon Heyman of Fan Rag reported last night that the sides were engaged in serious talks, while MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick tweets that Utley appears to have a locker set up at the team’s spring facility, lacking only a nameplate.
    .
    All indications of late have been that the 39-year-old would repeat his turn as a platoon piece. At this point, it seems only a matter of time before things are formalized.
    .
    If the sides do indeed wrap up a deal, Utley will presumably spend most of his time spelling the right-handed-hitting Logan Forsythe at second base. Long a high-end everyday player, Utley’s productivity had understandably waned with age. He was effective in a surprisingly robust 2016 season, over which he took 565 plate appearances, but slid into a part-time role last year.
    .
    Los Angeles skipper Dave Roberts was exceedingly careful both to limit the wear and tear and to deploy Utley against right-handed pitching last year. Utley saw time in 127 games but tallied only 353 plate appearances, as the Dodgers sought to utilize him in advantageous situations. He strode to the plate just 28 times against lefties on the season.
    .
    In each of the past two years, Utley has delivered just-below-average overall offensive output, with successive 96 wRC+ efforts. He still grades as a quality baserunner and average defender even as he closes in on his fortieth birthday. Clearly, part of the math here for the Dodgers is Utley’s oft-lauded, hard-nosed veteran presence.

    1. Seems like the Dodgers probably came to a compromise with Chase by giving him the money he would settle for, but spread it out over to years so the AAV is less this year and it won’t bother the Dodgers to waive him next year if they feel they need to do so. I don’t expect to see Chase in LA in 2019.

      1. Didn’t he take out a full page add in Atlanta. I like Matt, always have, but I wish he’d just keep the talk to a minimum, and remain focused on and off of the field. This guy can really be a big asset to the line-up, or as a trade chip to secure a more prosperous future. I hope he plays so well, they decide he’s more valuable on the roster.

    1. Kemp’s numbers against righties in 2016.

      289/337/532/869

      Lefties 244/333/463/797

      2017 against righties

      284/314/494/808

      Lefties

      250/330/354/684

      But Kemp got hurt last year, so he missed some time.

      And in that article, Kemp said he had a clear slate this year.

      I wonder if Friedman told him that.

  7. The headline on Dodger com, says the Dodgers gave Chase a two year contract.

    But there are no details about the contract, in the article with that headline.

    1. 2 Years – $2 Million, but only get $1 Million this year.

      Translation: He will play this year for $2 Million. He will get the other Million next year after he retires and goes to the Dodger front office.

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