The Dodgers Two Best Players

In order understand what a complete, unmitigated disaster this 2018 Dodger team is, it helps to look at who their best players have been so far this year.  Unquestionably the two players who have carried the Dodgers to what little success they have had in 2018 are Matt Kemp and Yasmani Grandal.  What is ironic is that most Dodger fans wanted Grandal gone and Kemp was not even supposed to be on the team.  What is also ironic is that I have been a champion of both players, but you already know that.

Without Justin Turner and Corey Seager, the Dodgers #2 and #3 hitters, the offense has been non-existant on many days.  However, you have to ask “How many teams can lose their #2 and #3 hitters asnd survive?” There is no amount of depth thsan can fix that! How would the Cubs do without Bryant and Rizzo?  How would the Yankees do without Judge and Gregorius (realize that Didi is second to Judge in HR and RBI on the Yanks)?  You get the picture.  Most teams would flounder to some degree and the Dodgers did!

Then, to compound the problem, the Dodgers lost Logan Forsythe, their starting 2B,  and then Chris Taylor, Yasiel Puig and Cody Bellinger struggled to varying degrees. While we don’t exactly why, we do know that when you lose your two best hitters, it affects everyone in the lineup – it’s a different dynamic!  We can also surmise that Taylor, Puig, Bellinger and others are maybe pressing too much.  Dave Roberts says that is part of the problem.  Hopefully, tonight when JT and LF return, the team will feel a little less pressure, relax and let the game come to them. Don’t forget, that even if Logan doesn’t put up “eye-popping numbers” he wears pitchers out by seeing more pitches than just about anyone in baseball.  That cannot be underestimated!

But, where would the Dodgers be without Yasmani and Matt?  Yikes!  That’s hard to even think about. Kemp leads the Dodgers in batting average with .317 and Grandal is second at .275.  Grandal leads in OB% at .385 while Kemp is second at .357. Grandal and Kemp are tied for the team lead in Slugging with .500. Grandal leads in OPS with a .885 and Kemp is second with a .857 percentage. Grandal leads the team in HR with 6 while Kemp is tied for second with 5, along with Bellinger and Taylor. Yasmani is tied for the team lead in triples with CT3 with 3 and is second in doubles.  Grandal also leads the team in RBI with 24, while Bellinger is second and Kemp is 3rd with 17.

My point is that without the “unexpected starts” by Grandal and Kemp, the Dodgers might be dead and buried, instead of just “lifeless.” Kidos to Yasmani and Matt. If Yasmani keeps this up, the Dodgers have to offer him a contract.  Does Matt have another year left?  Well, they have to win this one first.  Here comes Justin Turner and Logan Forsythe – half of the starting infield is back.

Today the season starts! Here comes the Last of the Mohicans!

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This article has 68 Comments

  1. Jayson Stark, ESPN Senior Writer, July 27, 2008

    The Cleveland Indians traded third baseman/outfielder Casey Blake and cash to the Los Angeles Dodgers for two minor leaguers on Saturday.
    “Casey Blake is a gamer,” Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said. “His experience and character will be a plus as we head down the stretch in the final two months of the regular season.”
    The Indians received minor league catcher Carlos Santana and right-handed pitcher Jon Meloan. Santana is hitting .323 with 14 homers for Inland Empire in the Class-A California League. The hard-throwing Meloan is 5-10 with a 4.97 ERA at Triple-A Las Vegas, but he has piled up 335 strikeouts in only 262 innings in his minor league career.
    Carlos Santana has an 8 year career .808 OPS from mostly the catcher and first base position. His 9 year career WAR is 24.4. It hurt the Dodgers when he was traded.
    Casey Blake had a cumulative 9.2 WAR while with the Dodgers.
    The Dodgers with Casey had a chance to do well in the playoffs for a couple of years. Was it a good trade? It could have been had they gotten to the WS.
    Would trading Verdugo and a comparable prospect to Meloan be similar to the Casey trade for a half year of Machado? Would it be a good trade if Machado helped them to get to the WS?
    I would trade for Machado and then buy him when he becomes a free agent. Maybe Seager moves to second base.

    1. Fair question and well-presented. Everybody has their own memory of the Blake/Santana trade and everybody has their version of the value of said players at the time of the trade. Without putting my own bias into it, I will state that, regardless of rankings, Santana was known at that time in prospect circles as a very hot commodity and a name on the rise. Anybody who argues with this wasn’t following Dodger prospects closely at the time. While there is always an attrition rate to prospects, especially lower level ones, switch-hitting catchers with plus hit/power/strike-zone tools naturally have high ceilings and are therefore liable to develop into first division/championship-level players at the major league level. They can also flame out. You make an excellent point that if we would’ve won the WS, this entire conversation would be different. That’s very true. Same deal with the Cubs and the Chapman/Gleyber trade. Winning a ring absolves a whole host of potential sins. In the final account, and here I will admit some bias, trading a high-ceiling prospect for anything other than a a true impact major leaguer is a risk. Blake was a complementary piece. In some ways, that deal prefigures the Forsythe/DeLeon trade, which was also a risk. Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose; sometimes you’re just not sure yet. So I’ll leave you with this question (and assuming other players would be involved): Would you trade K. Ruiz for Machado?

  2. On the last thread, Adam asked about Zach Reks. I replied, but I did so just before this article. I have copied my response below.
    I had a little write up on Zach last year. He reminded me somewhat of someone I have known all his life. Zach Reks is a good story. He was a 5th year senior at University of Kentucky and found himself drafted in the 10th round by the Dodgers. As a 5th year senior he had zero leverage and signed for $1,500. The Dodgers look for these kinds of guys to draft and sign in the 9th and 10th rounds so they can take those bonus slot amounts and allocate them for higher slots in the upper rounds, or save enough to offer an 11th round pick to sign out of their college commitment. Last year that was SS Jacob Amaya.
    After high school, Reks enrolled in the Air Force Academy in 2012. After the baseball coach said that he was not progressing enough, he left the school and went to University of Kentucky to try out. He was told by an Assistant Coach that he was too small. Reks was a Mechanical Engineering major and decided to leave school to work for Toyota Manufacturing in Georgetown, Kentucky to earn enough to pay for his education. He kept the job for summers and worked part time during the school year. He also decided to work out to get bigger.
    In summer 2015, he and a friend got onto the Kentucky outfield grass to play catch, and he was noticed by a new U of K Assistant Coach, Rick Eckstein. Eckstein asked why he did not try out, and Reks told him he did a couple years back but was told he was too small. Eckstein told him to try again. He continued to work hard and was encouraged by Eckstein who told Reks that the team needed a LH hitter. Reks made the team and Eckstein worked to change his swing from a ground ball/slap hitter and using his speed to driving the ball. The right field fence was 295 feet at the foul pole, and he thought maybe he could hit a couple of HR’s, something he never thougth of. He was a regular on the Wildcat team for two years, slashing .352/.461/.471/.932 in his senior year.
    All Reks has done since being drafted is hit. His minor league career numbers are .349/.418/.450/.868. He got a late start to the season but after a brief and successful stint at RC, he has earned the promotion to AA and does not seem overwhelmed. The obstacle for Zach is that he is a corner OF with no pop. It is interesting to note that he did play a game at 2B at Great Lakes last year. Could a position switch be a possibility?
    With the way that he can put bat to the ball Zach has a chance to be a situational hitter and reserve OF. His skill set does not bode well as a corner OF. However, you will note that none of the measured skills are for heart and drive. With all that he has overcome in his baseball life, I am not going to bet against him.
    As far as Peters getting a September call up, I do not see that as a possibility. The team has too many OF’s they can call without starting the clock on Peters.

    1. great stuff, AC. I like hearing about these guys that kinda fly under the radar (and eventually end up being all-stars for the Cardinals!). matt beaty seems like a similar case, although he did flash some in-game AA power last year.

    2. Thank you AC for the informative response about Zack Reks, the depth of your info is awesome and really help us diehards! Truly appreciate it AC, rooting for the kid.

    3. Thank you for the write up on Reks. He is one of those prospects that I enjoy cheering for. If only they could measure heart and desire!!!

  3. Just a comment on 2018 sports in general. I am 75 and definitely old school. In high school I was captain of both the football & baseball teams. I was a running back and a second baseman. We were taught when you scored a touchdown acted like you had been there before. Give the ball to the ref and go to your huddle. In basketball everyone could shoot foul shots (free throws) better than most of todays players. In baseball I was the leadoff batter and my job was to get on base by any means possible. That meant bunting, which is now a lost art, reaching back and hitting the catchers mitt to get him called for interference, or if I had two strikes and first base was open when the pitcher threw an uncatchable pitch to swing at it and take off for first. It hurt my batting average, but it helped the team. Most of todays players are not team players. Perhaps when you are making millions of dollars you don’t need to listen to your coaches!

    1. Maybe some of those tricks have less and less success as the competition increases and the umpires get better. Going back to old school, anybody that looked like they intentionally tried to hit the catchers glove could expect an owie on the next pitch.

      1. Actually the good teams are realizing it is better to have more then one way, to score runs, like the Astros, and the Cubs.

        And both the Astros and the Cubs, beat us in the post season in the last couple years, by using small ball, and having better all around hitters, instead of having one dimensional hitters, that pitchers can
        easily get out.

  4. 25 man Roster per MLB shows Farmer and LoCastro sent down and Muncy stays with Logan and JT activated. These 2 won’t be saviors but should bring some stability to the lineup, batting order and defense.

    The NL West is 10-26 in their last 8 games and if the season ended today would not have a wild card entry. I don’t believe the Braves and Brewers will win their divisions but each has 4 teams playing over .500. The Dodgers have lost 4 straight and somehow managed to gain ground. The Rockies are just a game back of the Snakes.

    Pollock going down is a huge blow for AZ and there could be ligament damage. He and Peralta have been carrying the offense and Peralta does not play everyday. The Rockies have also not hit and Desmond and Cargo are blocking kids who could provide a spark. Both teams are being carried by their pitching so far. This is still a winnable division but it has to start soon for the Dodgers.

    Hill should be shut down if his blister has already returned and allowed to heal. Put Stewart in the rotation until Hill or Kershaw return. With Stripling already in the rotation they need a long man in the pen. Sorry but for me Venditte is not the answer and I’m not sure what the question was.

    1. muncy seems like he could be an ethier-type lh bat off the bench. I like his discipline and power potential and hope he gets a continued chance to stay with the big club. in a season of embarassments, he hasn’t been one.

    2. While I would have kept Locastro because of his speed, knowing how this FO values power vs speed, it absolutely makes sense that Muncy was retained. I like Muncy, and was a proponent of his from last year and this year before the Chase Utley signing. But IMO this team needs a way of creating runs vs waiting for the three run HR.
      Is Farmer going to catch? He certainly wasn’t doing much of that in LA.

      1. AC, one has to wonder why the FO would hire Roberts (with his 23 HRs in over 2,000 at bats but with 243 stolen bases ) since they are proponents of the long ball and completely disregard to the running game. It makes no sense.

  5. I think a little ‘Shooting Star’ by Bad Company is in order and then again maybe not!??!
    Where will Ruiz fit into the new contract afforded Yasmani… Back up or primo trade chip???
    Like many, Kemp has exceeded my expectations..Another year??? What do I know??
    Darn A.C. I really like Peters especially seeing him a hand full of times at Rancho last year, but logic prevails…

    1. Keep good thoughts. My opinions do not count. Only FAZ and Gomes get to make those decision.

      1. there is nothing wrong with peters. it’s simply not his time yet. if anybody was going to jump from AA to LA it would be diaz but that’s not a real possibility either. both peters and diaz have things to work on in their games and they will get a chance to continue climbing the ladder in AAA when the org. deems fit. only really special guys or situations warrant a multi-level jump. as you know.

  6. SCDodgerfan: You got me by about 3 years, but I agree with you except the use of ‘most’!! Some for damn sure… I’ve preached to the choir many times on lack of bunting and fundamentals. I’ve said I still follow local H.S. ball and it’s dead for the most part… Alot of these young kids feel they’re entitled and it’s more important how to wear the hat, if the pants fit right and what design their eye black is!!

  7. All I will say about Peters is that I would guarantee he will get called up in Sepetmber, if he hits .310 with 40 HR!

  8. just looking at the next free agent class. some names that jumped out at me: adam jones (CF), Andrew miller (LHRP), & brian dozier (2B).
    man do second basemen age fast . . .

  9. Don’t look now but with all of the talk about the known prospects, it is 26 year old 28th round draft pick (2015), Kyle Garlick who leads OKC Dodgers with 6 HR’s in 46 AB. Coupled with his 5 at Tulsa, Garlick has 11 on the year.

  10. These senior living apartments are soon to be accepting other than just seniors and I’ve got to go to a meeting 3 hours before game time to see how the change may affect me. I won’t stay at it if it goes beyond 2 hours because my life will be affected more by Turner’s return…..well hopefully it will. I really do expect a far more competitive lineup now. I remember what Kemp and Ethier did when Manny came aboard and I expect JT’s return will be very much like that. Opposing pitching has done major harm to the Dodgers in the past (Cardinals ending Hanley’s post season still pains me in the ribcage) and I for one prescribe retaliation whenever it happens in the future. Rightly or wrongly that’s how I feel.

    1. I am against retaliation. If they hit our guy, we drill two of theirs. I like aggression, not retaliation.

      1. Well said. Although I firmly believe Kemp should’ve destroyed Carlos Quentin after he rushed Greinke. That would’ve been worth the suspension if not the potential injury. Darn team sports.

  11. Rosenthal asks the question everyone here is asking (in different ways):
    Are the reeling Dodgers really this bad or can they turn their season around?
    It’s quite a good article, but it’s PPV so I won’t copy much of it.
    Here’s a tidbit:
    “We joke. We feel like we say this every other day,” Chris Taylor said. “We’ll say, ‘Oh, I figured it out. Today’s the day. I’m never losing this feeling.’” And then, as quickly as it comes, the feeling disappears.
    The notion of the Dodgers trading for Baltimore Orioles shortstop Manny Machado to replace the injured Corey Seager — a topic of discussion only a week ago — is laughable. At the moment, the Dodgers look more like sellers than buyers. Maybe potential free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal can fetch a prospect or two.
    The Dodgers’ run differential of -1 suggests they are experiencing a measure of poor luck and should be closer to .500. But few in baseball want to hear the team’s excuses, which include a desire to stay under the $197 million luxury-tax threshold.
    A lot on Roberts too. I recommend reading and subscribing, but it’s money.


    – The Los Angeles Dodgers today reinstated infielders Justin Turner (left wrist fracture) and Logan Forsythe (right shoulder inflammation) from the 10-day disabled list and optioned infielder/catcher Kyle Farmer and outfielder Tim Locastro to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

    Turner will make his 2018 debut this evening after suffering a fractured wrist after being hit by a pitch on March 19 during Spring Training. In two rehab games with the Single-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, he went 0-for-6 with one walk. In 15 Spring Training games, the 2017 All-Star hit .333 (12-for-36) with two home runs, three RBI and a .970 OPS. Turner finished the 2017 season with a .322 batting average, 21 home runs and 71 RBI and was awarded co-MVP of the NLCS.

    Forsythe, who missed 25 games since his last start on April 14, appeared in three rehab games with the Quakes, going 1-for-10 with a double. In 12 games prior to his injury this season, Forsythe was 8-for-46 (.174) with two runs, two doubles, one home run and four RBI.

    Farmer, 27, has appeared in 30 games this season, batting .230 with six RBI, while hitting .357 (5-for-14) as a pinch hitter.

    Locastro, 25, appeared in eight games with the Dodgers this season, going 2-for-11 with a stolen base.

    1. a back-up catcher who doesn’t catch and doesn’t hit that well. some things I will never understand. I will recognize the solid ph line though.

    1. I always thought his swing resembled Barry Bonds’. I guess we now know they have even more in common.

  13. Hey Dodger Familia! Going to the game tonight and want to know if anybodies showing up or showing out. Dodger Nation and Raider Nation Boyyyyy

  14. Sure, the Dodgers missed their 2 infielders. But:
    1 – their return won’t help the Dodgers’ woeful bullpen
    2 – they won’t make Taylor, Bellinger, Kike, Puig, et al hit
    3 – If the reason that Bellinger and Taylor haven’t hit is that Turner (and Seager) aren’t there, then why have Grandal and Kemp hit? And why aren’t Grandal and Kemp protection for Bellinger and Taylor in the lineup? Taylor leads MLB in striking out looking. Is Turner’s return going to help Taylor swing at strikes/
    4 – Seager wasn’t hitting when he was here either.
    5 – Forythe hasn’t hit the whole tenure with the Dodgers. How’s that going to help?
    6 – They are still losing to the dregs of the league. 2 guys make that much difference? In other words, wouldn’t you expect the Dodgers to beat the likes of SD, Cin and Mia anyway? How do you explain the fact that they can’t?

      1. Then what’s your answer for how they are playing this year, not in 2017? Why can’t they beat the Padres, Reds or Marlins, let alone real MLB teams?

      2. Last year was last year. Let it go. It’s ‘What have you done for me lately’ time.

    1. Rick

      I know they said Corey’s elbow didn’t bother him, when he was hitting, but he didn’t hit after he got hurt.

      Just look at Corey’s splits last year,.

  15. Taylor needs to go back to CF. The dynamic duo of Kike’ and Joc isn’t quite cutting it. It’s a good thing we have such great depth at the SS position.

      1. How about a decent SS who can hit over .250 and field? There is no one. FAZ is showing they aren’t as smart as they lead us to believe. Their act is wearing razor thin with me. No more apologies. Off with their heads.

        1. How about Solano? I agree the CF platoon is not cutting it by either player and that’s with them being platooned and protected. Batting them 2nd is also a cruel joke. Solano has some big league experience, is a natural SS and has hit well this year at OKC. He requires a 40 man move but they still have not moved Ryu to the 60 man DL.

  16. I’m no FAZ sycophant, nor do I like all their moves, but draconian thoughts or moves on their part to get the Dodgers ‘back in the race’ could be worse. Make moves to set up next year – nothing stupid to try and win in 2018 – too many issues with this team.

  17. Mark and AC, thought and question. I believe the offense will normalize and be average to slightly above the rest of the way. I wish I felt the same about this pen, is there any moves that can be made to save this horrific pen soon and give us a realistic shot at a 74 and 47 finish? Maybe even 72 and 50 gets us the WC. And I truly believe the National League is wide open this year so who knows from there.

    1. Right now there is not much relief help down on the farm. Sborz has moved to AAA, and is progressing, but I think he was stymied by his desire to start. He still needs time, but he is not a high leverage reliever at the ML level right now. Joe Broussard is not nearly ready. The team is waiting for Garcia and Paredes to continue to improve at AAA with more high leverage opportunities. 32 year old Brian Schlitter is getting most of the save opportunities, and he is doing well enough, but is not not much of an upgrade to what the Dodgers currently have. Garcia and Paredes are on the 40 man, while Sborz and Schlitter are not.
      Dennis Santana is currently starting at AA, and I know Mark thinks he can relieve at the ML level now. I think very highly of Dennis Santana, and believe he can be an effective #3 – #5 SP, and a very effective late inning reliever, potential closer. But I do not think he can be a high leverage reliever right now. ML hitters are a lot better than AA. He should get his first ML opportunity in September. He is not a difference maker right now, and IMO FAZ should not start his clock yet.

  18. JT and Logan will need a few games to get their timing back, it may get worse before it gets better. Signs of life from Puig and Cody are a positive. The ump tonight had a bad strike zone calling pitches off the plate outside. Wood pitched pretty well and did not deserve the loss. With the loss and the Padres win the Dodgers are now 8.5 back and tied for last place. There is nowhere to go but up from here but Kemp looks like he needs a day off and the Kike and Joc platoon in CF is so far not working. The team needs another bat but the roster is now set. I know Muncy can play corner OF and 1B as well as 3rd, not sure about CF. Or bring up an OF from AAA for Muncy. Ramos can play all 3 OF spots and is a switch hitter but requires a 40 man move, he has played well all year at OKC. Hate to say it but Joc may need to go down for awhile. Batting him and Kike in the 2 hole is hurting the team. They also need a long man for the bullpen and Fields is being used sparingly, perhaps a health issue. I have a sense of impending doom for Hill’s next start but hope I’m wrong.

    1. Stewart could help the bullpen but he needs to remain as depth for the rotation.
      Until Kershaw returns to the rotation maybe Maeda should go to the bullpen and go with a rotation of Wood, Stripling, Hill, Stewart, Buehler. Of course, that only works if Hill can avoid finger issues.
      It’s time to stop looking for a whipping boy and realize that woes have been a team effort.

  19. Is there an update on Andrew Toles?
    — @RyanSauriol
    Nothing good to report. Manager Dave Roberts said last week that Toles, who pulled a hamstring on April 13 playing for Triple-A Oklahoma City, had a setback in his rehab and is not on the radar for a return anytime soon. Of greater concern is that Toles has now suffered two serious leg injuries and has been limited to 37 games over the past two seasons.

  20. Vegas mentioned Donovan Solano above, and that is a huge question in my mind. One of the key reasons for that signing was the unknown about Corey Seager. Solano was considered a plausible substitution for the injured Seager if he needed some DL time. He played very well at SS and hit well in ST, but thus far has not been considered. I do not understand why not. He has done nothing but perform at OKC. Ryu can be placed on the 60 day, and held out until August allowing the organization to move some from the 40 man. Also at some point, the team is going to need to see what they have in Henry Owens.
    At OKC this year –
    Offensively – .352/.407/.459/.866 – 11 BB, 19K, 135 PA, 4 SB, 0 CS.
    Defensively – 3 errors in 90 chances, 12 DP at SS; 1 error in 40 chances, 4 DP at 2B
    ML Offensively Career offensively – 1168 PA, .257/.306/.331/.636 – 16.8% K rate

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