First Week Observations

Some first week observations:  It is obvious that the Dodgers offense misses JT; the one clutch hitter in the lineup.  The only offense thus far is Yasmani Grandal.  Without any concrete evidence, it is my opinion that the Owings HR off of Jansen with two outs in the 9thon the Monday game against the DBacks had a negative impact on the Tuesday and Wednesday games. 
  • The Dodgers have been shut out in three of the seven games, and scored one run in a fourth.
  • Right or wrong this is a team that is built on power, and the offense can countTHREEHR’s for the season.
  • The team lead in RBI’s is 3 (Kike’, Grandal, and Bellinger).
  • The only players with more hits than strikeouts is Seager (5 hits, 4K), Barnes (3 hits, 1K), and Joc (2 hits, 0 K).
  • The lead-off hitter has 1 BB and 9 K.
  • While I can appreciate Puig’s improvement, he is not yet a #3 hitter.
  • While Kemp is not a deterrent, he is also not a difference maker.
  • Kenley Jansen is an enigma. Is he just not properly prepared for the season or is he hurt?
  • Scott Alexander is just what he has always been…a ground ball pitcher without control.
  • Pedro Baez is still…well Pedro Baez.
  • Ryu should have 5 more starts through May to establish himself as a starter in the rotation. I am not optimistic about Ryu.  Another pitcher without control.  Buehler should be ready by June.
  • Both Kershaw and Wood deserved better results. The Dodgers have scored one run total in their two starts combined.  Wood has yet to yield a walk.
As bad as the offense has been for the first week, it is possible but doubtful, that Toles would have made a difference.I have no objection to the lack of free agent signings for the Dodgers because of the luxury tax concerns.  However, trades are a different story.  I made a comment at the time that even though the Astros won the WS they did not stand pat and improved their rotation with Gerrit Cole.  The cost was Joe Musgrove, Michael Feliz, Colin Moran, and Jason Martin.  Musgrove and Feliz are on the roster, although Musgrove is on the 10 day DL, and Moran is the Pirates #8 prospect and Martin is the #22 prospect.  Of that group, only Moran figures to be a potential difference maker, while Musgrove should be solid at the back end of the rotation.  It is hard to come up with a comparable package, but I am certain that the Dodgers could have put something together.  Gerrit Cole’s salary would not have been a problem with the luxury tax, especially if the Dodgers could have moved Ryu and his contract.Another starting pitcher that would not have been a problem with the luxury tax, and would have been an upgrade over Ryu, was Jake Odorizzi.  The Twins traded 21 year old SS Jermaine Palacios for Odorizzi.  Palacios has been assigned to Charlotte Stone Crabs (Florida State League – High A), but is not yet on the active roster.  Palacios is a true lottery pick. Is Omar Estevez a similar prospect? Perhaps an upgrade?  If so, I would have made the trade of Estevez for Odorizzi, and tried to move Ryu to offset the Odorizzi contract.I was an advocate for another Rays’ pitcher…reliever Brad Boxberger.  Boxberger cost the DBacks their #12 prospect, 22 year old 6’ 6” RHSP, Curtis Taylor.  While Taylor is a step up from a lottery pick, he is not one of the Rays top 30 prospects.  Could the Dodgers have traded Trevor Oaks for Boxberger?  If not, how about Jordan Sheffield?  Boxberger was and is an upgrade over Alexander.The Yankees were in the 2017 ALCS with arguably a better farm system than the Dodgers and yet they traded for Giancarlo Stanton and Brandon Drury, and signed FA Neil Walker to replace Starlin Castro.The Dodgers certainly have the prospects to make a deadline trade, but the cost is always more at that time because the demand is greater than the supply, and I do not see a big increase in the players who may be available that will be difference makers.One final observation for the first week…while I like the Valera for Mieses trade, I think I am growing wearisome of the endless roster accumulation of utility players.  Valera is in a long line of utility players like Locastro, Peter, Jackson, Mora, Robinson…  Can’t FAZ find and settle on a solid 2B only or a 3B only prospect? They are good at uncovering utility players, and hitters who do not have defensive positions (Calhoun, Rios, and Beaty). Just an observation, not a criticism.Everything went right for the Dodgers last year.  Will that mojo work again in 2018?  7 games does not a  season make, or define a trend.  As a Dodger fan, I have to believe that they will still win 90 – 95 games and make the playoffs, if not win the division.  I just do not think it will be as easy as was 2017.  In 2013 it was Puig who was promoted and jump started the Dodgers in June.  Last year it was Bellinger and CT3 who came up and jump started the Dodgers.  Will this year be Verdugo? Toles? Buehler? All three?  We got 155 games to go for a team that does not generally have good Aprils.  The offense has not been pretty, but it is certainly not a prelude of coming attractions.


OKC at Iowa Cubs

OKC split a doubleheader winning the first game 2-1 and losing the second 3-2 in extra innings.  Walker Buehler pitched 4.0 innings in Game 1, allwing 1 run on 3 hits, 1 walk, and 5 K.  Brian Schlitter followed Buehler to get the win while Pat Venditte got a hold and Joe Broussard got the save.  Manny Banuelos started game 2 and pitched 4.0 innings, allowing 2 runs (1 earned), 1 walk, 3 K’s and 1 HR allowed. CC Lee, Adam Liberatore, and Daniel Corcino pitched innings 5-7 without a run.  The new extra inning rule went into effect and with a runner starting out a 2B, Edward Paredes gave up two consecutive singles and the winning run in walk off fashion.Offensively, 7 OKC hitters had a single hit in game one with Toles and Peter getting doubles and Muncy getting the first OKC.  In Game 2, seven OKC hitters each had hits including Tim Locastro, Alex Verdugo and Travis Taijeron (dbl) who each had two hits.  Verdugo went 3-8 in the twin bill.

Tulsa Drillers at Frisco RoughRiders (Texas Rangers)

Tulsa beat the RoughRiders 5-2.  Dennis Santana went 4.2 innings allowing 1 run (HR) on 4 hits, 0 walks, and 7 K’s.  Shea Spitzbarth followed with 2 strong shutout and hitless innings on 1 walk and 4 K’s to get the win.  Corey Copping followed while Josh Sborz apparently assumed his new role as closer with 1 perfect inning (with 1 K) and the save.Offensively, Errol Robinson hit a grand slam in the 4th followed by a single HR by Luke Raley for the 5 runs the Drillers scored.  Angelo Mora had 3 hits including 2 doubles, while Luke Raley and DJ Peters got two hits each.  Ruiz and Smith both played with Ruiz the DH and Smith the catcher.  They both got hits.

Rancho Cucamonga Quakes vs.Visalia Rawhide (DBacks)

The Quakes lost 11-9 to the Rawhide.  Dean Kremer started for RC, went 3.1 innings, allowed 6 runs, 6 hits, 2 BB, 4K, and took the loss.  Kremer was followed by Parker Curry (1.2 IP), Stetson Allie (1.0 IP), and Ryan Moseley 2.0 IP).  Combined they allowed 5 more runs on 8 hits, 3 walks, and 7 K’s.Offensively, Omar Estevez, Cristian Santana, and Connor Wong each had two hits.  Estevez, Santana, and Landon each had doubles, and Wong hit his 1st HR of the year.  Gavin Lux, Jeren Kendall, and Donovan Casey each went hitless with Casey striking out 3 times leaving 6 runners stranded.

Lansing Lugnuts (Blue Jays) vs. Great Lakes Loons

The Loons dropped the game 11-1, while getting only 2 hits by CF Brayan Morales (single) and catcher Ramon Rodriguez (double). Max Gamboa started, went four innings, and took the loss. The sole Loons pitcher with bragging rights was Aneurys Zabala who struck out 6 of the 7 batters he faced.  Zabala was the lottery pick included with Drew Jackson in the Chase De Jong trade.  He throws extremely hard, and it might be fun to see how much he may progress this year.Offensively, the Loons struck out 15 times including the first three hitters, Brandon Montgomery, Romer Cuadrado, and Starling Heredia three times each. 

This article has 58 Comments

  1. I notice that Trayce Thompson was claimed by Oakland after the Yanks tried to pass him through waivers. He probably has a better shot in Oakland.

    1. Oakland is coming to LA soon and Trayce could get a chance to play at Dodger Stadium.

  2. The Dodgers are not hitting, Jansen has been terrible, Ryu in his 1 start was not impressive, and at this time, I don’t think the Dodgers are a stronger team than the WS team. The players in my opinion that should be on a short leash are Baez, Forsythe, and Pederson. I
    believe the Dodgers have a very good team and when needed players like Buehler, Verdugo, and Toles, will make the team even better.

    1. I’ll be very interested to see how Ryu’s next start goes. I think we all feel he should not pitch in either Coors or Arizona but was that why his first start was so bad?

  3. I’ll make this short and sweet because I have to go to work. The next 6 months or so will tell us if the FO was once again correct or whether they made a huge mistake by not committing to some major upgrade pieces. I have my doubts. Stanton would sure look nice in LF right now.

    I love what FAZ has done in the past but this is a what have you done lately game and 2-5 start with 3 shutouts to start a season is inauspicious. Onto a wet weekend in SF. Lets see if the Dodgers can snap out of their offensive doldrums.

    JT will make a difference but we can we hold on until then? We’ll see.

  4. Trayce will be living with his brother and playing in the same city… That’s cool… Now go get em Trayce…
    Pity the poor team(s) that face us when we get out of this funk… I remain ever patient for the return of Toles and Verdugo..

  5. FAZ has traded a number of prospects in numerous deals but so far none have really stood out as potential “must keep” players.

    There’s no doubt that the Dodgers could have traded for Cole but at what cost ? Different teams place different values on players . Would they want Verdugo, Toles, Diaz, Ruiz? Which ones did they covet ?

    I was surprised that FAZ didn’t get under the salary cap last year but they had to in 2018, so Stanton was impossible.

    I believe that Toles , Verdugo, Diaz, Peters and ESPECIALLY Ruiz will be very good, if not really good players. Which two or three would you give up for Cole, knowing that Buehler, Urias, Santana, May, White and the most talented one: Alvarez, are coming in the next year or three?

    That’s how Kasten built the Braves. FAZ wants to remain competitive while winning. Was it the right call ? We will find out.

    I have heard that Corey’s elbow is not 100%. Maybe it was a mistake to resign Forsythe? What if Seager goes down? This sounds crazy, but could Corey play 1B the rest of the year ?

    Taylor to SS, Verdugo or Bellinger to CF. It’s crazy. There’s a lot that can happen but the Dodgers are built to weather the storm.

    1. I’ve been wondering if seager really is seriously injured whether we would put keekay at SS or move taylor there and play toles/Verdugo in CF. so far this season is no fun but I semi-expected it after the whopper-sized let-down on our last game/series. patience is fine. there is a long way to go. but we do seriously need to look at whether we have upgrades available now who could perform better than what we are trotting out there. and yes, losing turner really was that big of a blow. it’s like this season is a 7 game series that KJ has already blown two games in.

    1. Great read. Verdugo is just waiting for that time. He is a potential All-Star. He is full of confidence that no longer comes across as cockiness. He may not have the speed that many want to see in CF, but he does have a quick first step and tracks a ball very well. And there is no denying his arm. I cannot wait to see him in the LAD outfield.
      DJ was a steal in the 4th round. This is going to be a huuuuge year for DJ. If he can accomplish his stated goals, culminating in AA domination, he will be on the proverbial fast track. To me, the biggest of his stated goals was to become a better 2 strike hitter. If he can keep that power up and cut down on his strike outs he should become a ML regular. He is a big man at 6′ 6″, and his ability to play all three OF spots including CF still reminds of Jayson Werth, and it isn’t just that long mane.

      1. for some reason my own person comp on Verdugo has always been the angels’ Kole Calhoun. not sure exactly why,

  6. I’m posting from the airplane on the way to SF. Not much else to do. I’ve caught up all my email.

      1. No, but I am sitting at Guyana’s eating the best Mexican food I have ever had and the Margarittas are outstanding.

        It’s raining like a goat here in SF. No game tonight but it’s supposed to be Sunny Sunday. I’ll be there when the gates open.

  7. Puig has always fed off the energy of the team, he is not going to carry this team on his back. JT missing is the detrimental piece, his bat completely changes this lineup. When 1-4 (Christ, Seager, Turner, Bells) are in motion, I think that is when we see the best Puig. I see us having to ride out this storm until Turner gets back.

  8. I personally think it’s just an early season hitting slump more than JT being out. As good as he is he’s still just 1 player and baseball is still a team game. Just hope this early slump doesn’t turn into a 6 month slump. The pitching is what it is…good but not great. As it is right now I don’t see a true stopper on this team…yet. Pretty sure that’ll change, but, in baseball you just don’t know nothing.

  9. Today’s rain just cost Maeda a start. He had very little chance for 32 starts, but 30 just got harder.
    Opening day for the minors brought out some expected and some hopeful results. Buehler’s and Santana’s results were certainly not a surprise, and neither was Verdugo’s 3-8 night. Angelo Mora’s 3-4 with 2 doubles was an outstanding start. DJ Peters’ 2 hits with only 1 K, Errol Robinson’s granny, Luke Raley’s 2 hits and HR, catchers at all four levels had good nights. But one of the two big moments for me was Josh Sborz perhaps moving to closer and getting the save in game #1. He is not in the rotation, so maybe this is a permanent move. I for one hope so. But IMO, the performance of the night belonged to Aneurys Zabala. Up until this year, he was a hard thrower with an electric arm and no idea as to where the pitch was going. Last night he faced and retired 7 batters from a lineup that was teeing off on the other Loons pitchers, including 6 by strikeout. It will not last forever, but maybe it does show potential.

  10. If Machado is willing and able to play second base, I think the Dodgers will go after him next year.
    Verdugo lovers might be happier with him in RF than with Puig.
    Now would be a time to trade high on Grandal.
    Why isn’t Kemp tradeable when so many here have such high expectations for him?
    Seager is fine but if he isn’t his bat will struggle as much as his throwing arm will so 1st base might not be such a great plan. But if he is moved to 1st base I would think Taylor would move to SS and Bellinger would move to the outfield.
    The Brewers need pitching. Stripling or Stewart could hold the fort on #5 until Buehler is ready should Ryu be traded to the Brewers. It would have to be a 3 team trade since the Brewers would want to trade an outfielder and the Dodgers don’t need one. Hey AC, maybe FAZ could get a utility player for Ryu.

  11. A few observations:
    1 – There was never any way that the Dodgers were going to add payroll this year. Notwithstanding Mark’s statements to the contrary, they essentially stood pat this year. Their one goal was to get under the cap and they accomplished that.
    2 – Any moves from outside the organization will be made at the deadline to minimize the salary impact.
    3 – They will make moves from within the organization – Buehler, Toles Verdugo et al.
    4 – The question is whether any of these is a real impact player. When they brought up Bellinger last year he made a real impact. (He lead the team in HR RBI, SLG, etc.) Same when Puig came up in 2013. I doubt that either Toles or Verdugo have the stuff to make a similar impact. Buehler may be the impact guy to come up this year.
    5 – Ryu’s days as a real solid starter are over. His OPS against was .972 last year. While his ERA was 3.77 last year, his FIP was 4.74, meaning that he was lucky last year and his numbers suggest that he should have given up an additional run per game. I don’t expect that he will improve much and the Dodgers will need Buehler sooner rather than later.
    6 – In the past, the Dodgers have been without Kershaw for 6 – 8 weeks at a time and without Seager too. The problem isn’t Turner’s absence so much as it is the utter failure of the other Dodger to make up for the loss. Other than Grandal, no one is hitting. The team OPS is .549. That’s totally awful. And Forsythe shouldn’t be playing 3B. Ever.
    7 – I fault Roberts’ truncated spring training. The idea of spring training is to get the team ready for the season. Is the team playing like it is ready? Especially Jansen. Totally unacceptable.
    8 – April games count. These losses may come back to bite the Dodger later.

  12. It is a wise person that doesn’t get excited about Spring stats especially early Spring ones and it is a wise person that doesn’t project a season based on the first week of the regular season.

    1. Bum

      And for that same reason you don’t base something on what a player has done, in just seven games, especially when a player has a lengthy record, of doing just the opposite.

  13. Yawn!

    One observation: Parties in California are different from parties in Indiana and I’m not blowing smoke!

  14. Minor Leaguers split a pair of games. Tulsa blew a one run league when the Frisco RoughRiders (Rangers) put up 6 in the 8th against Emmanuel De Leon and beat the Drillers 10-5. Caleb Ferguson did not have the AA start he was hoping for when he did not get out of the 1st inning, allowing a single run but on 31 pitches in .2 IP. Michael Johnson came in, restored order, and was in a position to get the win before De Leon imploded in the 8th. Keibert Ruiz started as catcher and went 2-5. Will Smith was DH and went 1-3. Connor Joe had a 2 hit night (2-4), including an inside the park HR.
    Rancho Cucamonga Quakes got their 1st win of 2018. Andrew Sopko went 5 and got the win becoming the first Dodger minor league starting pitcher to record a win in 2018. He was able to go 5 innings and stay under the apparent 75 pitch ceiling. Andrew Istler (H-1) and Nolan Long (S-1) each pitched 2 shutout innings in the Quakes 4-1 win over the Visalia Rawhide (DBacks) Gavin Lux and Jeren Kendall both got their first RC hits, with Kendall getting a pair of hits. Omar Estevez had another two hit night, and Cody Thomas joined Kendall and Estevez with a pair of hits.
    OKC and Great Lakes were both postponed due to weather.

    1. One additional comment on last night’s MiLB games…it was great to see Andrew Sopko pitch so well when he could have felt sorry for himself for being assigned to A+ RC after a year and a half at AA. So many get sent down and pout. He should get back up to Tulsa soon enough.

  15. So who’s ready for some baseball? Hill has always pitched well against the Giants, Sunday’s game is a rematch of opening day starters Kershaw and Blach. Stratton is just average and not sure why the Dodgers can’t seem to figure out Blach. I am hopeful the 2 off days get the hitters more aggressive, they are taking too many pitches. I think Puig has had the best at bats, he works the count waiting for a pitch to drive then drives it. He has hit more balls hard for outs than anyone and is the only player to start every game and his defense has been stellar. Grandal has hit well but also has a lot of K’s. Taylor needs to set the table along with Seager for the RBI guys. Cody and Kemp need to drive them home. It would help if they just hit Cody 4th between Puig and Kemp. Forsythe and Kike have yet to get going and may be pressing. Who would guess Joc would be the only position player without a K so far? Prediction: Dodgers bats come alive, the pitching holds up and the Blue sweep the short 2 game series for a small measure of revenge.

    1. I will be there and advising Doc what to do Sunday…

      Of course, he might not listen.

      1. I forgot you would be there and you lucked into Kershaw! Hopefully Clayton does not have to drive in the only run and pitch a shutout to win his first game. I hope you bring the team good fortune and leave the stadium happy!

  16. per TrueBlueLA:
    “This year is just the fifth in the 135-year history of the franchise that the Dodgers offense was shutout three times in their first seven games. The paucity of runs was first prevalent in a pair of dead ball era years (1907 and 1913) and the third instance was 1968, a year that was so pitching heavy it was called “The Year of the Pitcher”…”

    “…the Dodgers,… are trying to avoid their first 2-6 start or worse since 1976, when the team was 1-7 out of the gate.”

    The Dodgers aren’t just bad, they are historically bad. (So far)

  17. If I remember correctly, the Dodgers got off to a sub – .500 start last year into late April and then put the pieces together to thrive until the losing streak of Aug-Sept. Talent and leadership almost always are the keys to success and the Dodgers have more of both in the NL than any other franchise. I believe this team will right the ship and advance to the NLCS where I feel pitchers like Buehler and Urias will make all of the difference.

    1. The difference maker last year after the slow start was the promotion of Bellinger and the regular play of Taylor. As I posted above, other than Buehler, there is not a difference maker on the horizon this year. And he won’t help the offense.

  18. I just don’t understand when your offense is struggling, you are playing the giants, roberts has 4 outs in the lineup when the game starts. Joe can’t hit, Utley can’t hit, Forsyth can’t hit, then the pitcher. Grandal has been better than most but is on the bench after multiple days off. The giants have scored so with this anemic crew we are probably on our way to another disappointing day. But you play 162 so as Kenley says who cares.

    1. Barnes is hitting .375. We knew going into the year it would be close to 50:50. I imagine Grandal catches tomorrow with Kershaw.

  19. Another 103 mph out for Puig. Just read it was his 9th hard hit out of the year already. Only topped by Carlos Santana’s 10.

  20. Yasmani is the least clutch hitter on the team. Even when going well he isn’t going to get a clutch hit. Just like Game 1 in AZ.

    1. Hawkeye

      Do you think that extra muscle may have messed with Cody’s swing, a little?

      Monday said that Cody has to have a lot of flexibility, to swing like he does.

      1. I doubt it. It’s not like he’s all jacked up like Hanley.

        Terrible AB by Puig there. Not sure why he hit Ryu over Kershaw.

  21. I was surprised Dave took Alexander out, to give Kershaw an at bat.

    I would have kept Alexander in the game.

  22. Twice Grandal asked for fastball down and away. Both times Font missed by a mile. The second turning into a HR.

  23. Horrible roster construction. Font is not a big league pitcher. The FO didn’t want to expose him to the waiver wire, but about now he’s nothing more than a AAA pitcher. Forsythe is now hitting about .100, Joc looks horrible, Kemp is who we thought he would be, Barnes looks like the WS Barnes, Corey has no power, Cody has not made an adjustment, but hey we’re under the luxury tax.

    Stanton, Holland, Wade Davis, Brandon Morrow, Boxberger et al. No, we’ll stay pat while the WS champs get Cole, the Yankees go out and get Stanton. The writing was on the wall when Todd Bohely said a year or two ago the Dodgers would shed payroll.

    Frustration with this team. Lifeless and no energy.

  24. I did not see tonight’s game. We were playing bridge (card game). This is my bitch about FAZ and Doc. ST is meant to get your players ready for the season. Yet, I feel ST means nothing to to FAZ and Doc. Jansen was not ready. Baez needed to learn another pitch in the off season. He needed to throw this pitch all ST. They kept Font because he is out of options. Bull pen is where he was going to make this this team. Why did he not pitch out of the bull pen all last year at AAA. Joc should not be on this team. He should be at AAA. Venditte out pitched Font and Baez in ST. Sometimes you just need to go with your 25 best ball players out of ST. They will figure it out, but it is painful to watch. FAZ and Doc are very good. However, I do not like some of their decisions out of ST.

  25. In baseball there is only one winner (World Champion) and twenty-nine losers. Well the Dodgers have been losers going on 30 years. The ones in charge care more about the bottom line than they do about winning a championship. Division titles mean _______. FAZ wants us to be Tampa Bay West, but I, for one, am sick of the waiting. I was 37 when I last saw the Dodgers win the World Series. Enough already.

  26. Stats after last night’s game:

    C. Taylor .206
    C. Seager .226
    Y. Puig .235
    C. Bellinger .250
    L. Forsythe .138
    J. Pederson .143
    E. Hernandez .150
    A. Barnes .300 .
    K. Farmer .100
    C. Utley .278
    M. Kemp .211
    Y. Grandal .348

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