Sometimes the Best Moves are the Ones You Never Make

Yesterday, these were no wholesale changes on the Dodgers’ roster.  Who the hell predicted that anyway?  What a moron!  No names will be mentioned to protect the guilty.  Never speak of this again!

The first game of the doubleheader allowed the Dodger bats to break out against the Giants with 15 runs, as the Dodgers won 15-6. The Giants came back and won game 2 by a 8-3 score, even though they only had 2 extra base hits!  Alex Wood was charged with 4 earned runs, but he wasn’t hit hard. The same was true with Daniel Hudson. Both pitched well enough to win, but “seeing-eye” bleeders did them in.

Wood was mowing them down and then a walk, a couple of bleeders, a double and he gave up 4 runs.  Hudson had 2 outs with a runner on 1B and walked two batters: Bang – Double!  Chargois gave up 1 hit to the first batter he faced and then got them out of the inning, but the damage was done. It happens – nothing to do but move on. It’s like that some days. Right about now, the bullpen is a mess and two former Dodgers (namely Morrow and Watson) are doing very well. Of course, if the Dodgers had signed Morrow and Watson and/or a few others, the pen would not be in the disarray it currently is, and if I had known what Apple was going to do, I would have quadrupled down on the amount of stock I bought 15 years ago. Hindsight is 20/10.

Let’s not forget why the Dodgers did not re-sign Morrow and Watson:

  • Morrows’ injury history and Watson’s trending downward the past couple of years;
  • They wanted to get under the salary cap; and
  • “Buying” a bullpen is seldom the path to success.

Brandon Morrow has the stuff to keep up his great pitching, but Watson doesn’t.  The only question is health with Morrow.  He’s a great guy and I hope he stays healthy, but his history says not.  The best bullpens have generally been built from within or with trades made that didn’t look so hot at the time. I said it when they signed Kenley:I would not have signed him for that amount of money!  Last year, that conclusion looked pretty bad, but the Dodgers have him signed for this year and three more.  Hopefully, he gets his problems worked out, but bullpen pieces are pretty fickle: Great one year. Horrid the next!

The Dodger starters are 5th in baseball in ERA and 3rd in WHIP.  That’s pretty stinkin’ good for as bad as things have been. As bad as the pen has been, it is only 19th in baseball in ERA and WHIP.   The fact of the matter is that the bullpen is a couple of good outings away from moving up 10 notches!  Some of you only see the negative: as bad as Daniel Hudson’s line looked, I saw a lot of positives from the way he pitches.  Let’s look at some of the other bullpen pieces:

  • Tony Cingrani has struck out 17 batters in 9.2 innings with just 1 walk.  He had one bad outing – I think he will be fine if his dead arm wakes up!
  • Ross Stripling has been extremely effective with 16 strikeouts in 14 innings and a 0.63 ERA.
  • JT Chargois has 13 K’s in 9 innings with a 1.93 ERA.
  • Kenley Jansen, El Gasolino Baez, Scott Alexander and Wilmer Font have been horrid.  Font is gone.  Alexander is in the minors working on his control and who knows what is the deal with Baez and Jansen?

Here’s the good part:The Dodgers have the pieces to pick up a closer AND set-up man by the trade deadline, but Kenta Maeda is going to have to go to the pen.  Could Dennis Santana or Mitch White step into the pen?  They have the stuff, but what about the mental makeup?   Striker Buehler is a keeper – he has to be in the rotation and I see him pitching 150 innings for the Dodgers.  He allows Maeda to go to the pen.

The Dodgers have to think about what they do if Kenley doesn’t bounce back.  What would it take to pry Rasiel Iglesias from the Reds?  The Pirates will fall out of contention – is it possible to trade for Felipe Vasquez?  There are others out there as well – some who are not even established as closers.

The Dodgers have not spent a lot of money on the bullpen… and it has worked!  Spending money for expensive free agents and bullpen pieces is seldom the path to success – frequently the path to failure!  The Cubs traded for Chapman, Quintana and signed Darvish (who has a 5.26 ERA). Their farm system is now ranked near the bottom. It does not appear their success is sustainable. I like sustainability and yes, it would be nice to win a World Series.  FAZ has shown they know how to build a bullpen.  They are still building.  Kohler may be back.  Don’t forget about Urias later this season.  Then, there is Brock Stewart, whom I believe is a high-leverage reliever. There are lots of pieces in the minors – sometimes you have to trust the kids!  They aren’t done!  Watch and see!

  • OK, they did call up Alex Verdugo and sent Scott Alexander to OKC to see if he can figure out the strike zone. I have watched Alex a few times on MiLB.TV this year, but seeing him in high def really emphasizes the “body makeover” he has undergone.  By cutting out junk food, eating healthy and working out, he is obviously a “lean, mean, baseball machine.”  He also showed a lot of base-running savvy in the 5th inning.  While not a basestealer, he’s a guy who can put up a .400+ OB%.  He may look good at the top of the order. He got two hits and a walk last night. I can see him staying.  I can also see a trade looming…
  • Now we might know why Doc has kept running Joc Pederson out there. His OPS is up to .812!
  • Corey Seager looked far from injured – in fact he looked awesome! He had zip on his throws.

Dodger Chatter: Good Call Dionysis

Recently we have been down a bit on Quakes shortstop Gavin Lux. He certainly fell short of our expectations during the 2017 season and had a slow start in the California League during the present campaign.

Lux was the Dodgers first overall selection in the 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of Indian Trail High School and Academy in Kenosha, Wisconsin.  Drafted, 20th overall, he was the first shortstop taken in that draft.

He had a relatively good, but not spectacular, first year as a professional in 2016 with a combined triple slash of .296/.375/.399 between the Arizona League Dodgers and Ogden Raptors playing all 51 games at shortstop.

As a 19-year-old he advanced to the Great Lakes Loons for the 2017 season and experienced some growing pains offensively and defensively. At the plate he slashed .244/.331/.362 and made a combined 24 errors playing 43 games at second base and 65 as a shortstop.

Lux’s Class-A season with the Loons was a definite disappointment for him and perhaps unexpected by those who have been following his minor league progress.

There are two ways to deal with baseball adversity. One is to accept that the game can be a bit cruel and unforgiving while the other is to see that as a challenge rather than a defeat.

Lux chose the latter and worked to come into the present season more prepared to play the game at  a higher level personally and at the Advanced-A level to begin the season.

First he tackled his defensive woes at the fall instructional league.

“Our infield coordinator, Shaun Larkin, and a bunch of others in the organization helped me a ton – standing on my legs, fundamental stuff, finishing throws,” he said. “I played pretty tall last year. I didn’t really stand on my legs and I was kind of guiding my throws. The whole offseason, I worked on finishing my throws with my wrist.”

Secondly, he did his off season due diligence with the goal of getting faster and stronger and he seems to have accomplished both goals.

“[Over the] offseason, I got faster. For me, that’s a big part of my game,” he said. “If I’m on-base, I want to put pressure on the defense, or if I’m hitting a soft ground ball or bunting for a hit, that can only help your game. It’s another tool to help your team win and it’s something I plan on implementing.”

Dodgers director of player development Brandon Gomes told that the youngster has become “much more physical,” in part because of an off season weightlifting routine. Lux wasn’t so much concerned about getting bigger but more so to  stay healthy and work on leg strength and explosiveness.

Lux acknowledges his struggles but has now taken adversity in stride and is gaining a better understanding of himself as a player and the demands of the game.

 “My first [full] year, I was still learning what kind of player I am. And I’m still learning — I don’t think I really have a great idea yet,” the Dodgers’ 2016 first-round pick recently said.

He began the 2018 season with the Quakes by going 1- 20 in his first five games with eight strikeouts and one walk. Since then he had hit successfully in 14 of 16 games with six-multihit games, four of them with three hits each.

He is currently hitting .305 with a .414 OBP from the lead off spot. He has 12 runs batted in and 15 walks while striking out 17 times.

Lux recently had a five-RBI night and hit his first home run of the season as a result of taking what the game gives him. He knew exactly what he was looking for when he stepped into the batter’s box.

“They were kind of pounding me in all night,” the Kenosha, Wisconsin, native said. “Going up there, I was just thinking about cheating to a first-pitch fastball in and I got it. It was just sticking to the plan and approach, and it paid off.”

Lux attributes his recent surge at the plate to being consistent in his approach at the plate and with a couple of adjustments hitting coach Justin Viele has helped him with.

    “Just pretty much staying consistent and trying to be the same person every night,” he said. 

Dionysis has been in Lux’s corner since the season began. He has suggested that Lux might be compared to the Giants shortstop, Brandon Crawford. Both players hit left and throw right. Both are 6’2” with Crawford being 25 pounds heavier while Lux will play the entire 2018 season as a 20-year-old so is still filling out his body.

Crawford had his own struggles in minor league ball before settling in with the Giants for good in 2012. With his bat speed and control of the strike zone Lux too has the potential to hit double digit home runs but also has a base stealing potential that Crawford does not have.

Gavin Lux seems to have a baseball mentality, as does Brandon Crawford,  and a sense that perhaps most of his minor league followers were not aware of.

“I think I control strike the zone well. I think I get on base pretty well, and when I do I want to run. I have a good feel for hitting, but I’m not trying to hit home runs or anything like that. The power will come if it comes, but I’m more concentrating on trying to be a good hitter. I’m trying to barrel baseballs — that’s what I’m focused on.”

Unlike Crawford he may well end up playing a stellar second base.

Photo Credit:Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

This article has 95 Comments

  1. Okay, I just slotted Lux into my second base future team. Other than Taylor a future second baseman has been missing for me. Go Lux.
    Buehler was awesome after the first inning. He will soon be the Dodger Ace. Maybe Urias still has a chance to be the lefty compliment to Buehler and give the Dodgers two aces. Wood is looking more and more like a great #3 guy.
    I still like Stewart in the rotation. Ryu will be gone next year and I wouldn’t mind if Hill were gone next year as well.
    If the Dodgers were able to trade Kemp and at least half of his salary they probably would have signed Darvish. That has worked out so far.
    Verdugo has quite the look with his tailored beard, gold necklace, white shoes, red sliding glove, elbow pad.
    I know Puig was banged up but I want to know if the wall in right field has been repaired yet or is it just temporarily being propped up.

    1. Rumor was that the locals thought they were having an earthquake!

      Your boy was great yesterday!

      1. Let’s see how everybody’s stats look like after the first month. After a long season with a WS appearance, this year’s Spring Training stats were probably less meaningful than in prior years.

  2. Thanks for the shout-out, DC. Your prospect content here is outstanding and I always enjoy reading it. The best part of the whole write-up are those walks. Get on, get over, get in.

    1. Bum

      You do the same thing every year, after you get your small sample.

      But the adjustments will be coming soon, as well as karma.

  3. Wood and hill are a lot alike in that when you are out there with a below 90 fastball that third time through is very challenging. I don’t know why the dodgers hurlers seemed to lose velocity at the same time. Kershaw, wood, Jansen, all have seen their velocity drop consequently plerformance has dropped as well. Kershaws fastball has not been a weapon to put it mildly, wood can’t finish hitters, Jansen I think was hampered by Roberts spring training attitude much like the cardinal closer off to a bad start. I think Roberts has just changed since his first year. He now seems more like a mattingly there’s always tomorrow no urgency. This year the front office hasn’t helped his cause. They tried by making Alexander there key acquisition but so far not good. Let’s face it turner is the best hitter and the heart of the team so that is huge. There is talent but not overwhelming. The giant infield when healthy is better than the current dodgers. We have an edge in the outfield while the starting pitching edge when healthy goes to the giants. Bum garner and cueto top Kershaw and wood with the others mediocre. The bullpens are about the same and guess what the records are about the same. Currently, the diamondbacks are certainly the best team barring injuries. They will not play 700 ball all year but if the dodgers finished fourth I wouldn’t be surprised. There does not seem to be that passion for excellence. The front office is focused on salary cap and blue light specials which is understandable with this payroll, roberts continues to manage like he did in September last year, no fire from any players as our players are continually hit by pitch and we continue to accept it, so we are what we are a 500 ball club. Last night with the bases loaded and Barnes up with a 2-0 count and pitchers wild we get a ground ball double play to the right side. High school players know you look for a pitch you can handle in a location you can handle and if you don’t get it you take it. Give the guy a take sign if he can’t understand this. Our situational hitting is awful whereas the giants produced in the same type situations. We had plenty of chances to go blow the game open. Over and over with less than 2 outs and a runner on third we can’t make contact. Taylor is one of the worst. I guess the silver lining is we need the heart of the team back in the name of Turner but that won’t fix our pitching.

    1. WOW! Just WOW!

      You lost me at“The giant infield when healthy is better than the current dodgers. “

      So, Belt is better than Bellinger?
      Panik is better than Hernandez, Forsythe, Utley?
      Crawford is better than Seager?
      The Panda is better than JT? He might be a better pitcher…

      Man, that is some good stuff you are smoking!

      1. Well, Panik has played better than Forsythe the past 2 seasons. And Longoria is the Giants’ 3B (but Turner is still better). So – 3 out of 4 the Dodgers are better. And Turner is better than Jackson, and the Dodgers’ LF of the day is better than the Giants’. Puig vs. McCutcheon? Don’t know. Posey has had the better career than Grandal, but this season?

        Kershaw is still better than MadBum. But Cueto is better than the Dodgers #2. I’ll take the Dodgers’ 3, 4 and 5 for sure.

          1. I agree our outfield is better but still have to give giants slight edge on infield. I would still take bum and cueto over Kershaw and whoever although that could change depending on Buehler and urias development.

      2. I said current wasn’t counting Turner. When healthy Turner over Longoria, Crawford is a tremendous shortstop has been consistent and played on world champions maybe slight edge to seager, Panik no doubt better at second, bellinger slight edge over belt, posey clearly better than our catchers. Panda may have found his true calling! Puff puff!! Kershaw 1-4, wood0-4, we are off to a great start!

    2. Nice post Therealten! I would call the DH yesterday the good, the bad and the ugly.

      The Good: Buehler acting like a pitcher not a thrower. He belongs in the rotation right now, he has nothing more to learn at AAA. The offense in game 1 and Verdugo in game 2. Nice to see Joc break out and Utley looked good in the 2 spot in the lineup.

      The Bad: Game 2 where the entire team looked flat, they could not figure out Cueto past the 1st inning and the bullpen not keeping the game close.

      The Ugly: Pedro Baez! His problems are between the ears. When a catcher puts down a target and Baez misses by a couple feet no one knows where the ball is going and umps will not give you close pitches. Thjat leads to being behind in the count and batters sitting on the fastball they know is coming. This will get worse unless he uses his off speed and breaking pitches and gets consistent command and improves his tempo. The place for that is AAA and Alexander has already earned a trip down, being out pitched by Liberatore.

      Situational Hitting: Therealten points out the Giants do it better and that is an offshoot of Bochy and his approach which has some small ball and moving runners along mixed with clutch 2 out at bats putting the ball in play. The Dodgers are always playing for the big inning and trying to hit HR’s. There is a time and place for both but this also stems from Roberts approach which does not focus on stealing, putting runners in motion or bunting, even to beat the shift. A guy on 3rd with no outs not coming home? Come on Man! The entire team needs to do a better job of executing with RISP and 2 outs or even no outs.

      The fact the team can be good, bad and ugly in the same day is why we fans are frustrated and impatient as the signs of talent are there but not the consistent execution that good teams have and need. I believe it will come and that management has seen it to and is actively trying to fix it now, not later.

  4. he Orioles have tried Alec Asher and Jayson Aquino as starters, moved Ubaldo Jimenez in and out of the rotation and have given Dylan Bundy extra rest, but have yet to find a quick fix for the struggling starting rotation. The next option the team may consider is using Richard Bleier as a starter.
    I doubt the Dodgers would want to give up starters and that is what the Orioles need so maybe a three team trade would be needed to get Bleier if that were something FAZ would want to do.

  5. Kershaw is better than Bumgarner? Make sure to reference regular season.

    2.11 ERA 8-3 Bumgarner
    4.35 ERA 7-7 Kershaw

    In game 7 of the WS, I am starting Bumgarner

  6. Maybe the team needs a vintage Lasorda talking to. Someone needs to motivate these guys.

  7. Let’s hope for a win today and leave with a split. That is all I have time for, in the office with much to do.

  8. I’m happy. Put all these guys on the DL now, get rid of these stupid injuries, see what kids can provide a spark.

    And come June 1, we can start our climb to the top. I’m still 100% confident I’ll be at Dodger Stadium this October for the playoffs

  9. Warm smell of colitas rising up thru the air!!! Once we have touch down, all will be well!!!

    1. On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
      Warm smell ofcolitas, rising up through the air
      Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light
      My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
      I had to stop for the night.
      There she stood in the doorway;
      I heard the mission bell
      And I was thinking to myself
      ‘This could be heaven or this could be Hell’
      Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way
      There were voices down the corridor,
      I thought I heard them say
      Welcome to the Hotel California
      Such a lovely place (such a lovely place)
      Such a lovely face.
      Plenty of room at the Hotel California
      Any time of year (any time of year) you can find it here
      Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends
      She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys, that she calls friends
      How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat
      Some dance to remember, some dance to forget
      So I called up the Captain,
      ‘Please bring me my wine’
      He said, ‘we haven’t had that spirit here since nineteen sixty-nine’
      And still those voices are calling from far away,
      Wake you up in the middle of the night
      Just to hear them say”
      Welcome to the Hotel California
      Such a lovely place (such a lovely place)
      Such a lovely face.
      They livin’ it up at the Hotel California
      What a nice surprise (what a nice surprise), bring your alibis
      Mirrors on the ceiling,
      The pink champagne on ice
      And she said, ‘we are all just prisoners here, of our own device’
      And in the master’s chambers,
      They gathered for the feast
      They stab it with their steely knives,
      But they just can’t kill the beast
      Last thing I remember, I was
      Running for the door
      I had to find the passage back to the place I was before
      ‘Relax’ said the night man,
      ‘We are programmed to receive.
      You can check out any time you like,
      But you can never leave!’

    1. The Pacers were the best team… but the Cavs had the best player in the history of the NBA.

      Wait until next year!

  10. 50 games from now if the Dodgers are still sub .500, some will still say “it’s early” and laud the Braintrust for its brilliance.

    It’s obvious that things aren’t right. Now Cody has gone down too?

    We play the Snakes in AZ next. They’ve tied a record for beginning the season with 9 straight series victories – the 1st time in 111 years. But no problem – the Dodgers will catch them easily. After all, it’s early.

  11. Another hapless Dodgers loss. This team needs some energy. Maeda allows a 3 run-HR in the first and only one more run the rest of his outing and we can score just two. Too many looking K’s once again.

    Kershaw’s FB doesn’t top 90 MPH anymore., KJ’s cutter doesn’t cut, Barnes, CT3 and Puig have Mendoza line BA’s. JT is hurt, Hill is hurt, Alexander can’t throw a strike and is back in OKC, Koehler is on the DL, and Morrow has an ERA of .000 for the Cubs , Tony Watson is pitching great for the Giants. The WS champs went out an got Cole, the Yankees got Stanton, hell the Giants got Longo, McCutcheon et al. May not work out but the Dodgers FO got Koehler and Alexander as the only real offseason acquisitions not counting Kemp in a bad salary swap. Don’t forget two of the three bad contracts they got the Braves to take were contracts given up by FAZ (McCarthy and Kazmir).

    All the while our FO executes the team option on Forsythe rather than seeking a better upgrade, decides Font is for real and Toles needs to be in OKC. Puig is still a “head case” and should have been dealt for pitching.

    I feel better now!

    1. My Pacers lost today.

      My Dodgers lost today.

      It does stink.

      Nobody died!

      I am healthy and well.

      So is my family.

      It’s all good.

      It’s only a game.

  12. Doc pulled Belly from the game for lack of hustle. I wish he’d pull everyone else while he’s at it.

    Time to snap some life into these guys!

  13. I don’t get to watch every game but I have never seen Bellinger do anything but hustle. Doc should be benching most of the bullpen for sucking. Bellinger will be with the team a lot longer than Roberts.

    1. It wasn’t egregious, but more is expected from Cody. He is being groomed as the team leader. He’s the new Chase Utley. He will be THE MAN!

      1. Bellinger said “I’ve always played the game hard. I kind of took a big swing on the curveball, ended up on my knee. We’re down four runs. I’m not trying to make an out on the bases going to third. He saw what he saw. I’m never going to dog that. Obviously, it’s ‘Triples Alley.’ That’s what they call it. We’re down four. … That was my reasoning.”

        I’ve never seen him dog running to first (or any other time). Is it possible Doc may have over-reacted without letting him explain?

  14. Brilliant. Stripling to start even though he hasn’t gone longer than 2 innings since the start of the season. Not Stewart, who has been starting in Vegas.

    1. … and I totally agree. Stewart is not a starter… PERIOD! Ross can fake it!

      Stripling has a 4.24 ERA as a MLB Starter.

      Stewart has a 5.97 ERA as a MLB starter.

      Even Ray Charles can see who needs to start and who needs to relieve.

      BTW: Brock has a 2.19 ERA as a reliever.

      So why should Stewart start?

    2. Rick

      It might be better then Hill, because Hill hasn’t done well in Arizona, but this will probably be a toss up.

  15. Come on, hopefully you are not devoid of reason like this idiot:

    I am sorry but I do not believe the Dodger Management or Manager. They lie repeatedly and frankly I have no use for any of them except Colletti. They never wanted Kemp back and they do not want him to play for fear that he will do too good and keep them from playing their type of baseball in my opinion. I am at a crossroads and I am not a Kemp fan. He is OK but he is being abused. Not a good thing for a storied franchise. What a shame.

    Get a grip people. What the hell?

  16. This team believes it’s the game 7 team and doesn’t believe it’s the 104 game team. Days like this separates closeness between players and manager and the last thing needed is poisoned attitudes. I’m not ready to stick a fork in it yet, but I sure thought I had more than the right to assume a far better start than this. Aren’t we beyond what would be considered ‘the start’?

  17. Cody’s hand-eye coordination would have to rate an 80 using the scouting rating scale that ranges from 40 to 80. If he doesn’t get fooled or doesn’t swing at non-strikes he makes contact. But he is inexperienced and so he does swing at non-strikes and gets fooled. While he projects as a HOF first rounder, he is not yet glue that Turner has been.
    Turner will return and the offensive glue will return with him.
    Puig’s average is way down but he is hitting the ball hard. His slugging stat is way down on off-speed pitches so far but his average should begin to reflect how hard he is hitting the ball. I think Seager will get it going and return to his normal great offense.
    There could be a trade that will be made to both make a point as well as to plug a hole.
    AZ is as good this year as Badger thought they would be last year. Dodgers will do well but they are 7 games our of first after 27 games and they haven’t been that far out of first after 27 games since 1965.

  18. OKC Dodgers – 5-3 Win over the Iowa Cubs
    OKC won for the 12th time at home without a loss. They now sport a PCL best 17-4 record, good for a 3 game lead. Manny Banuelos started and went 5.0 innings. He gave up 3 runs on 7 hits, with 0 walks, and 6 K’s. C.C. Lee, Brian Moran, Yimi Garcia, and Brian Schlitter finished the final four shutout innings, with Schlitter getting his 6th save. But the win was not without some 9th inning drama. In the 9th, the Cubs loaded the bases with no outs, but were denied when Schlitter was able to end the threat with a strikeout and double play grounder.
    Breyvic Valera went 2-4 including a 2 run HR and 3 RBIs. Catcher Cael Brockmeyer had a 3 for 3 day, including a double. Rob Segedin and Manny Banuelos also had doubles for the Dodgers.
    Tulsa Drillers – 3-2 Win over Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Royals)
    Will Smith had a 4th inning 2-run double to put the Drillers in front with a 3-2 lead they never relinquished. Caleb Ferguson started and went 6 innings allowing 2 1st inning unearned runs, 6 hits, 1 walk, and 6 K’s. Corey Copping left after 1.2 innings of relief and the tieing runner on 3rd with Josh Sborz relieving him. Sborz got the final out in the 8th, and found himself in trouble again in the 9th. 2 singles and an error put runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out. Sborz was able to pitch out of trouble to preserve the win with his 4th save.
    In addition to Smith’s 2 run double, the offense was led by Yusniel Diaz who went 3-3 including his 2nd HR, and Mike Ahmed who had a 2-4 day.
    Rancho Cucamonga – 7-6 Loss to Lancaster JetHawks (Rockies)
    Chris Mathewson entered the 7th inning with a 5-2 lead and quickly walked the bases full before surrendering a 2-run single. A third run scored on a ground out. Jason Richman came in and eventually allowed a double to score the 4th and go-ahead run. Zach Reks hit his 2nd HR of the game to tie the game in the 8th. However in the bottom of the 8th, a batter reached on an error and scored on a double which proved to be the winning run.
    Tony Gonsolin started and completed 5.0 IP, allowing 2 runs, 3 hits, 1 walk, and 5K’s, and left in a position to win but got a no decision.
    Offensively Zach Reks went 3-4 with 2 HR’s, double, and 3 RBI’s. Omar Estevez went 3-5, Gavin Lux went 2-5 including his 8th double, and catcher Hamlet Marte went 2-4 including a triple and HR.
    Great Lakes – 9-4 Win over South Bend Cubs
    Jesus Vargas won for the third time with no losses, and now has been the winning pitcher in 3 of the 7 Loons wins. Newcomer Logan Salow relieved Vargas in the 6th pitching 1 inning allowing a hit, a walk, and 3 K’s. Not to be outdone by his former Kentucky Wildcat teammate, Zach Pop relieved Salow in the 7th and pitched one inning, also allowing 1 hit and 1 walk, but only registered 1 K. Pop has been very good over his last 5 outings. Marshall Kasowski finished the final two innings.
    Offensively, the Loons were led by CF Brayan Morales who went 4-5 with a double and triple, and 3 stolen bases. For the season Morales has 11 stolen bases, on top of the Midwest League leaderboard. He has 2 CS on the season. Nick Yarnall went 3-5 and 2 RBI’s. Gersel Pitre also had a 2 RBI day.

    1. Thanks, AC. Sorry if this has been asked before but how do you see Brayan Morales projecting in the future?

      1. I pick a sleeper every year to latch on to and follow. Caleb Ferguson was 2016, Cristian Santana was 2017, and this year it is Brayan Morales. None of these three were ever projected to be ML prospects, and yet 2 of them now are. Morales was a 15th round draft choice in 2016 out of Hillsborough Community College (Florida). He is very raw. He has no power, but he is extremely fast. He is a mini mini Jeren Kendall. Nowhere near Kendall’s talent, but IF Brayan improves his bat to ball skill, he could make some ML team based on his speed and CF ability as a 4th or 5th OF. Maybe a Jarrod Dyson type?

  19. Bums – I’m pretty sure that I heard Joe Davis say that Yasiel has the lowest Sugging Percentage against Off Speed Pitching in the whole of MLB!!
    Maybe a rest will do him good..

    Mark, the point you make about the Dodgers not NEEDING any significant additions in the Off Season is well made, as is the desire to get under the Luxury Tax Threshold.
    However, perhaps we are seeing the result of that now, with nothing to spark the Dodgers.
    It’s interesting that it is Matt Kemp who appears to be the hungriest of the Offense so far, our sole pick up?

    I’m with you all the way on the lack of need to panic, as this group will start hitting together as we have seen them
    do before.
    JT could well be the spark.
    The Pen is where the real problems lie, especially with Kenley’s struggles, and a lack of internal options.

  20. Bold yet extremely stupid prediction – Chase Utley will be managing the team in 2019 unless we win the WS this year.

  21. According to Baseball America’s prospect hot sheet, Diaz was held out of game action earlier this season due to “general soreness.” Reminds me of the days of Mike Marshall [the outfielder] and his battles with that vague military-sounding presence.

  22. While I generally see the Dodgers in a glass ¾ full scenario, I think Mark sees it in a 7/8 full. Mark’s comment “I like sustainability and yes, it would be nice to win a World Series” has Stan Kasten written all over it. Very very few sports executives can match his resume for putting together sustainable and competitive teams. He was able to build the Atlanta Hawks into a perennial playoff contender. Led by the Hall of Fame play of superstar Dominique Wilkins, Kasten’s Hawks achieved four straight 50-win seasons (1986 to 1989) and set franchise records in attendance. Unfortunately, for Hawks’ fans, the NBA Championships were won by Boston, LA, LA, and Detroit respectively. The Hawks were not in the finals in any of those seasons.
    Kasten became Atlanta Braves President in 1987 – 2003, and during that time, no other MLB team won more games than the Atlanta Braves. He did a fantastic job creating a sustainable and competitive Braves team. From 1991 through 2003, the Braves won NL Division Championships every year (not counting 1994 strike year). Through Kasten’s leadership the Braves put together a team with 3 HOF pitchers, a HOF 3rd baseman, countless other All-Stars (including Rafael Furcal and Andruw Jones), all led by a HOF manager. And through all of that, the Braves won exactly 1 WS championship (1995). Since that time, the Yankees have won 5 championships, the Giants and the Red Sox 3 each, and Marlins won 2. The Astros and Angels won their 1st ever, while the Cubs (1st since 1908), ChiSox (1st since 1917), Royals (1st since 1985) won for the 1st time in a looooong time. Living in Northern California, I am deluged daily with SF Giants WS reminders, and 5 time NL West Champions doesn’t quite give me bragging rights.
    However, I would turn Mark’s comment around… I would like a World Series victory, and it would be nice to have sustainability. At some point in time the clock turns to midnight on sustainability and the season turns into a pumpkin. Is that what this season is? It looks more like that in comparison to the NL West Division teams of 2013-2017. This seems to be more of Todd Boehly’s team than Magic Johnson’s. Yes, it could turn around. And I will remain optimistic every game until they are eliminated.
    The Dodgers lose 2 to 3 to the Marlins, and 3-4 to the Giants, and yet it is Cody Bellinger’s failure to read a potential triple into a double that is a problem that needs to be addressed publically. Bellinger’s explanation that he was not able to get out of the box cleanly and did not want to be thrown out at 3rd with nobody out and 4 runs down seems logical to me. No it is not a .250 – .273 OBP lead-off hitter, it’s not a sub Mendoza line hitting RF, it’s not continual usage of Pedro Baez (and Scott Alexander) in high leverage relief situations, it’s not “let’s not get Kenley ready in ST so we can save him for October” mentality, it is not the worst offensive output in ML from 3B, but rather it is Cody Bellinger misreading a potential triple. I do not think this bodes well for any Scott Boras client come FA time.
    I will never panic and I still believe in FAZ, but I do think it is appropriate to question. The Dodgers are 7 games back of a very good DBack team, and these next 4 games could very well put the Dodgers in a seller position rather than buyer come trade deadline.

    1. Good take AC. It is very hard to ignore the fact that this team did not play well for the last 5-6 weeks of last season (with the exception of the playoffs). They have started the season with the same malaise as was evident in the latter part of the season. Unless Bellinger is displaying an attitude in the clubhouse, etc. that is not evident to us as fans, I’m absolutely perplexed by the public discipline of this particular play. When you look at the team as a whole, there is much to be concerned about – Taylor leads the league in striking out looking (I wouldn’t doubt that the entire team leads the league as well). Barnes makes a bone head running into an out at third base error, has some unbelievably bad at bats in clutch situations and is rewarded with a start at second base. There is not enough time to speak to the frustration with Baez. And, the list goes on.
      We can point to how the Cubs started in 2017 and hope that the Dodgers are going through the same experience. Also, not having JT in the lineup certainly hurts. The Cubs wouldn’t be near as good without Kris Bryant, nor the Nationals without Bryce Harper. With that said, these are the types of situations good teams are prepared for and replacement players, even though not as good, should be able to slide in easily.
      I too continue to believe that we are blessed to have FAZ running the team(from top to bottom), but I would like to believe that they could see some of the issues that we, as fans, see with the construction of this team, and planned accordingly. Getting under the luxury tax limit was a huge move and creatively done. It just shouldn’t have been our only move.
      A positive about the Dodgers playing so poorly, is that it has renewed my interest in and excitement for our prospects. I have enjoyed keeping tabs on the minor league teams much more this year. I just wish they would free some of the players from extended spring training so I can watch them in action.

  23. From Houston Mitchell in the L.A. Times:

    Stumbling into mediocrity

    In a season when the entire Dodgers team seems to be sleepwalking, Dave Roberts, finally, has taken a stand. He put his foot down. He laid down the law. He finally … wait, what did he do? He benched Cody Bellinger, one of the only guys hitting this year, for failing to hustle? Now, failing to hustle isn’t good. I’m not defending it at all. And apparently Roberts warned Bellinger about lack of hustle earlier Sunday. But taking your anger out on Bellinger and publicly singling him out seems a bit odd when you consider:

    –Bellinger isn’t the guy who keeps bringing Pedro Baez into games.

    –Bellinger isn’t the guy who keeps rolling the dice on the bullpen. He’s not the one who figures you can let guys such as Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson go because relievers are a dime a dozen and completely interchangeable. Because letting Watson go and bringing in Scott Alexander sure worked well, didn’t it? Alexander was sent to the minors Saturday.

    –Bellinger isn’t the one using Tony Cingrani so much that he has a dead arm.

    –Bellinger isn’t the one who keeps putting a man with a .273 OB% atop the lineup.

    –Bellinger isn’t the one who took Rich Hill out after four solid innings during a World Series game, messing up the bullpen for the rest of the series.

    –Bellinger isn’t the one who rarely sacrifices, rarely puts the runners in motion and rarely does anything to shake up the opposing defense. I think bunting is overrated too, but sometimes you have to create action to keep the defense guessing.

    –Bellinger isn’t the one who decided to start Yu Darvish in Game 7 instead of Alex Wood, or that pitcher who is getting paid $30 million a year to win games like that. A pitcher that was used in the game anyway.

    –Bellinger isn’t the only one who failed to notice Darvish was tipping his pitches. It was the Astros who figured that out. Seems like maybe Roberts and the coaches should have noticed that.

    –Bellinger isn’t the one who did nothing to improve the club during the offseason and hoped career years by Chris Taylor, Yasiel Puig and Wood weren’t just flukes.

    –Bellinger isn’t the one who gave $48 million to a pitcher with a history of blister problems, who is now on the DL with an infected fingernail, a pitcher that isn’t trusted to face batters more than twice, making one wonder why you gave him $48 million in the first place.

    –Bellinger isn’t the one who keeps Kenta Maeda in the rotation despite it being obvious to pretty much everyone else that he could be the setup man the Dodgers need. Yeah, his contract has heavy incentives based on games started. But you guys are smart. So is his agent. Something can be worked out.

    I could go on. But I won’t. I’m not saying Bellinger shouldn’t be punished for not hustling. But when you publicly single him out when there are a whole host of issues this season that need to be addressed, it makes you look like you are picking on one of the best kids in a class full of malcontents.

    I hope when Bellinger gets to the clubhouse today he brings a mirror with him, because there are some people in there who need to look into it.

    1. Mitchell laid a beat down on Roberts. One has to wonder why the front office did not extend him?

    2. I like this Houston Mitchell guy. He sure seems to agree with a lot of what I have written over the last couple of days. But he says it a lot better than I do.

      1. AC

        I told you, but I read your same thoughts, the day before, so I am not so sure, you are not the better writer!

  24. In 1980 Herb Brook coached the US Olympic hockey team. To get the team ready he spoke with Mike Eruzione about what he planned to do to motivate the team. If the team was playing bad he called out Eruzione. If Mile himself was playing bad he called him and referred to him as Mike. He did this as Eruzione was the team captain and knew it was best to call out one of your key players when the team itself wasn’t playing well.

    I think Roberts was doing the same with Bellinger. He is have a decent season as compared to the rest of the team and its best to get on a guy doing well as opposed to everyone else who’s struggling.

  25. Hard to justify getting on Bellinger publicly to motivate others when much of the Dodgers failure has to with management decisions.
    Maybe Doc should of called himself out to try to encourage the team. Think using Cody won’t fly.

  26. I just won’t take the bait to pile on, this is the same manager who won manager of the year and then took his team to the WS. He is not the one hitting, pitching and fielding. Some of his moves are questionable but he is in sync with management and has had to deal with injuries. He is not going anywhere anytime soon.

    This team will not go to Az and sweep, and just really need to play competitive solid baseball and let the chips fall. The entire team needs to be called out and it started yesterday. Keep it going Dov, give them some Lasorda garlic!

    A baseball season is like a horse race. Right now Az is a lone front runner and not being tested so they are loping along. Colorado will make the first move to challenge with the Dodgers stalking behind like classy horses do. When it’s time to get out the whip they will pass both, pulling away in the stretch, with the Gints and Pads trailing the pack. When will that big move be? That’s the question but for now they just need to stay within striking distance until the stretch turn.

    The team may need a shake up, and we are all debating it but maybe they just need to stay the course, follow the game plan, give some kids a chance and get everyone healthy. I don’t think Az is built for the long season but time will tell. The Rockies will be betrayed by their pitching like always, the Giants are old with no depth and the Pads are a young team looking to the future. The Dodgers are still the class of the west, just not playing like it-yet.

    1. Vegas, you know as well as anyone that you can’t let a lone front runner be allowed to set slow fractions so they still have plenty of gas left in the tank for the stretch run. Family friend Eddie Arcaro was a master at doing this. Willie the Shoe was not too bad himself.

  27. Rudy

    I didn’t see the title of Houston’s article, that you posted here.

    I hope you don’t mind if I post the title here, because I loved the title.

    Dave Roberts, ( And Others) Look in the Mirror, not at Cody Bellinger.

  28. “If the Dodgers lose three of four to the Giants, then what will Arizona do to them? Win five out of four?”

    When I read the above in Houston Mitchell’s piece I immediately thought of Mark.

    Hard to really put a finger on what’s wrong when a team is playing like the Dodgers. Bullpen under-performing, underwhelming hitting (especially WRISP), taking too many called strikes (especially Taylor), too much sloppy play, etc., etc., etc. Not sure what will get the Dodgers out of this, but my glass is still FULL (not half, not 3/4).

    Getting Justin Turner back will certainly help, not only by adding his production to the lineup, but also by just adding his presence, and the effect that that will have up and down the lineup.

    After seeing Alex Verdugo on Saturday I was reminded of how much I liked him when I saw him last year. Looks to me like the kid can just flat out hit, and he certainly has a penchant for making consistent contact. If I remember correctly, l believe that he had a hit off a lefthander on Saturday. So lefthander or no lefthander, I felt that he should have been in the lineup on Sunday. Why not play him on Sunday, put Kike’ in left field, and give Kemp another day off with his injured quad?

    And if any of our pitching prospects are deemed ready to contribute now, then why not bite the bullet, and call one or two of them up?

    All that said, I still have great confidence in FAZ, and concede that they know more than any of us, and probably have reasons for delaying the promotion of some of our young prospects. But whatever the case, I’m pretty confident that what we’re seeing now will result in changes if the team doesn’t get going soon. As early as it is, this D-Backs series is really important, and maybe even critical. If the Dodgers are swept, then 11 games back will be a difficult hill to climb, although not insurmountable.

  29. Vegas, good advice. No need to pile on, hopefully the ship will be righted soon and our Dodgers will be on a true and steady course. Let’s all hope so.
    I believe part of our frustration as fans is we know this team, it’s management and players are top shelf and WS caliber.
    I think the idea is, all hands on deck need to look into that mirror. Owners on down to bat boy. (Well maybe not Batboy. ) But everyone else, if 2018 WS champions is still the goal.

  30. Hey Mark, this is when you usually jump in and restore mental order. It’s about time for you to bring us all back from the edge of the cliff again, especially right now after spitting the bit against the Giants. I’m going to keep toeing the line of most of your articles about how FAZ knows what they are doing, and they hate losing as much as we do. They have a plan in place, and have always put the team in the best position to succeed. Like you always say, these are most of the same guys that won 104 games last year and should have won the World Series. The only thing that has really changed is we are in a big time rut. If Alexander performs, and Koehler doesnt get hurt, we aren’t stuck wishing for Morrow or Watson, which you made a great point about Morrow being an injury risk. Toles is still hurt, or he would be here right now. And you guys all have to remember what Freidman said at the beginning of the year. He said that this was the year for our young pitching to step up and see what they can do. He will give them only so much rope before he makes a move. We have to trust him on that. Ned Colletti also mentioned on his podcast how vol ital putting together a bullpen can be from year to year. We are too good to be this bad all year, the Titanic is not sinking, just taking on a little water. Some guys will play themselves off the roster, and we all know how much ammo we have in OKC. Like I said Mark, get us back from the cliff!

  31. Corey Seager to undergo Tommy John surgery. He’s gone for the year. I won’t comment on if he should have had it in November or not. Time to move on. Does CT3 go to SS fulltime this year and make room for Verdugo/Toles in CF?

    1. Breyvic Valera has been recalled, so I would expect him to get a lot of time at SS.

  32. He’s only been hurting since last August. And now he’s having the surgery? This isn’t well thought out. And now ? No Seager and no Turner?

    I don’t know if Taylor is ready to be a full-time shortstop as he hasn’t played SS much in a while, but I would move him there if possible and see if Verdugo or Toles (when healthy) is ready to give it a go. That makes more sense to me than playing one of the scores of utility infielders that populate the minor league system for the Dodgers.

    1. This is unacceptable on so many levels. Who was lying to who? They must be laughing their asses off from San Francisco to Phoenix.

    2. Dodgers couldn’t force Seager to have the surgery and you can’t really blame him for not wanting to do anything during the off season. Next man up.

  33. It makes me feel better now that we know the truth, about Corey.

    Because Corey has not been that same hitter, since he hurt his elbow, at the end of August, last year.

    Because non of us truly knew what to think about Corey this year, because he certainly wasn’t the same player.

    And I am glad Corey is not under the self pressure, he probably was putting himself, through.

  34. I stopped posting earlier this year (multiple reasons) but I just gotta say; if the Dodgers had won last year as they should have (multiple reasons for that also) all of what is happening this season would be less painful. Looks like many Dodgers (players, manager and I assume FAZ also) are getting fairly frustrated.

    Lot of truth in what Lasorda told Roberts at WS time about the 104 season meaning nothing unless you beat the Astros. Lasorda also lost two WS series to the Yanks in his first two seasons, so hopefully Roberts will get more opportunities.

    Defense is highly valued by FAZ – they get great scores in this dept.
    Sometimes you have to spend money to put good BP’s together.
    RISP is an issue and will continue to be because FAZ values HR’s over situational hitting.
    Retread SP’s (Hill & etal) will continue to be less than stellar, because they are by definition and FAZ won’t spend money on a Chris Sale.
    Until Urias & Buehler are actually in the starting rotation, development of SP is yet future with this management team. Hopefully this becomes a reality this year.
    Continuing to start players who by most standards are inferior in some aspects of their game is a mystery, as is the daily lineup, but it appears to be part of the FAZ/Roberts plan because it continues ad nauseum. Why not go with a Verdugo with a high upside? He doesn’t hit many HR’s – not part of the FAZ profile, hopefully he keeps playing & hitting. Why not move Taylor in the lineup until his strike-outs go down?
    More problems to fix than meets the eye – who would have thunk?

  35. Doc says CT3 will get majority of time at SS now. So someone will get a shot to take over CF (Joc, Verdugo, Toles) and run with it

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