What to Expect Next

Well, if you never expected the Dodgers to trade for Manny, like me, then how in the heck do we know what to expect next?Just when you think you have FAZ figured out…. BOOM!  You don’t! Roger Askew said it best:

Still going to go on record that with the Machado trade, FAZ is signaling that they are all in for this year, DO NOT underestimate FAZ and their ability to make chicken salad out of chicken sh&%%t. They are not done. Unfortunately the next couple of moves might be the existing guys on the roster to upgrade the bullpen in a big way. Some of my favorite players might be on the move, but as Uncle Ned says, some of the best trades are ones that sting both sides. I can handle that.

It’s really funny to me that the FAZ-Bashers have very little to say about the Manny Machado acquisition.  Well, some say they gave up too much… Yawn! Yes they gave up a lot, but they have a lot of those types of players because of their immense depth.  Oh, they also don’t believe the Dodgers have “depth.”FAZ took a few players, maybe one who could be a star, and turned that into a “superstar” and they only gave up one top prospect. I hope all the players the Dodgers traded make it big.  And, after the Dodgers go get Manny, you have people writing stuff like this:

My main issue with Friedman and the moneyball game is their lack of respect for pitching in general, specifically starting pitching. Simply put the front office just doesn’t value pitching at all continuing to sign injury riddled pitchers or castoff relievers.

Wow!  Are you kidding me?  I thought the guy who wrote it was smarter than that. The Dodgers are #3 in MLB in team ERA and #2 in Starter ERA. Last year, they were #1 in Starter ERA. In 2017, they were #4 in bullpen ERA and this year they are currently #13, which is why they will do something to strengthen the bullpen, if possible.Also, show me any pitching staff and I’ll show you “injury-riddled,” except the Astros (more about that later).

The Astros are #1 in Starting pitching… so far! Houston has only used 5 starters this year.  They are almost all on track for over 200 IP.  How do you think that is going to end up?  Do you think that will carry on all year?You heard it here first:  they will not keep up that incredible pace, because they have some “injury riddled” pitchers on their team too. They have been very lucky… so far, but it’s how you end up that counts.

On the other side of the coin, the Dodgers have used 11 starters this year and not one has pitched as many innings as the Astros #5 starter.  Like it or not, baseball is changing and not many pitchers are going to pitch 7-8 innings, but here’s the upshot:  Come October, the Dodgers staff will be fresh.  Can other teams say the same thing?

More Trades

Roger Askew said it, he meant it and he’s here to represent it!I also think that FAZ will acquire another reliever or two, but if Urias and Ryu  come back (and there is every indicxation they are), another bullpen arm may be redundant. Wood and Maeda in the pen would be awesome, but one (or both) may balk at it.  That’s why I think Wood or Maeda could be traded.  So could Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, Pedro Baez, Andrew Toles, Logan Forsythe and/or Chris Taylor.  They all won’t be traded but two or three could.

Andrew Toles, Alex Verdugo and Joc Pederson are three very different players, but all are LH  and two of them may be redundant… at least one is, but Verdugo is not going to be traded. One… or both of the others could.  Alex Wood won’t want to go to the bullpen because it can potentially cost him $10’s of millions of dollars. I like Alex and I don’t blame him, so he could get traded.  So, could Puig and Taylor.  Logan Forsythe is a given, but depending upon who gets traded, he might be needed.  Everyone think Charlie Culberson was so great, but did he get more than two hits last year?  It’s still how you finish.

If another team needs a shortstop or CF, Chris Taylor could be the man… and he would bring a nice haul.  If you think that soulds crazy, look at this lineup without CT3:

  1. Verdugo  RF – (L)
  2. Turner 3B – (R)
  3. Muncy  1B  (L)
  4. Manny  SS – (R)
  5. Bellinger CF – (L)
  6. Kemp  LF  – (R)
  7. Grandal  C – (L/R)
  8. Kike  2B (R)

I love a L-R-L-R matchup all through the lineup. Verdugo gets on and the rest of the lineup are 20+ HR hitters. Now, I like CT3 a lot and think he will return to last years’ form, so trading him is unlikely, but the point is: you have to “match up” with other teams in trades. You just can’t say “Trade Puig to the Marlins.” You can’t impose your will on the Marlins.  What do they want?  What players do they value? You have to matchup with the teams needs.  I am sure the Orioles started by asking for Buehler and Verdugo… everyone does, but the Dodgers were about to match their needs with sheer depth.  If the Dodgers are going to match up with another team or teams for a reliever, they are going to have to be flexible with what they are willing to do and who they are willing to trade.  One team may value CT3 over Puig or one may want Joc or Toles or maybe they just want prospects. The thing is:  the Dodgers depth gives them a lot of options.  Stay tuned! There’s more to come.

Manny in 2019 and Beyond

The same people who didn’t believe they would trade for Manny Machado are now saying they won’t sign him long term.  Here is what they do not understand: FAZ has never had the opportunity to sign a 26-year old Superstar.  The deals they did not make were with players who were in their early 30’s, which is why they have no interest in DeGrom. I think the Dodgers will try and sign Manny long-term, regardless of what happens this season. But, FAZ is going for it this season, they will keep under the luxury tax, so that is an issue… but it’s not an  insurmountable issue. I think the odds of Manny being a Dodger for the next ten years are very good.

The Dodgers Didn’t Come This Far, Just to Come This Far!

Forget about trading Matt Kemp – he will be in LF another year!

I am headed to Milwaukee on Saturday to see Manny “up close and personal.”  We have seats 8-rows behind the Dodger dugout.



This article has 56 Comments

  1. The market for Machado is the market for shortstops. Philadelphia might want Taylor. Might Taylor who is still cheap and controllable get from the Phillies what they were offering for Machado? Whatever they might get from the Phillies would be part of a three team trade for a top reliever, no?
    I would include Puig in the list of lefties (Joc, Toles, Verdugo) due to his reverse splits.
    Left side power: Seager, Muncey, Pederson, Bellinger.
    Right side power: Manny, Kemp, Turner.
    Prediction: Puig and Taylor will be traded.

    1. Turner not getting any younger. Toss up as to how many great seasons he has left. Old age makes slackers out of all of us.

      1. Which brings me to Kemp. Wonder how many come back seasons he has left. This one was a total shocker, at least to me.

  2. Next Season:
    1. Verdugo RF
    2. Seager 1B
    3. Machado SS
    4. Bellinger CF
    5. Turner 3B
    6. Kemp LF
    7. Muncy DH
    8. Hernandez 2B
    9. Smith C

    1. Lux will probably grab Turner’s spot in the infield after Turner’s contract expires.
      Smith will replace Grandal next year.
      Verdugo will replace Puig in either 2019 or 2020. If Puig traded soon, Kemp goes to RF.
      Starting the second half with Puig still on the DL this is the lineup:
      CF Pederson/Talor = platoon
      SS Machado
      2B Muncy
      3B Turner
      1B Bellinger
      RF Kemp
      LF Toles/Hernandez = platoon
      C Grandal/Barnes = platoon

  3. Taylor market:
    As for the Brewers, they’ve previously been said to be among the most aggressive suitors, but right-hander Corbin Burnes, one of the Orioles’ targets, could prove to be a sticking point in those talks. Tom Haudircourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel took a lengthy look at the fit between the Brewers and Machado earlier today, calling him an “absolutely perfect” fit given the team’s deficiencies in the lineup — particularly at shortstop. Milwaukee, according to Haudricourt, still views struggling Orlando Arcia as its shortstop in 2019 and beyond, but Machado would give them a potentially overpowering top of the order, joining Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich, Jesus Aguilar, Travis Shaw and Eric Thames/Ryan Braun.

  4. If we thought yesterday was fun, wait until we see what the next 12 days has in store for us! We have a crazy next 3 weeks of games coming up, but if we can get thru that in good shape, it’ll bode really well for the final stretch.

    Manny adds a real hitter to the lineup, someone that isn’t feast or famine. Our offense is now prolific. The team right now is built for this offense to carry us. Add a nice 8th inning piece, or an ace (very unlikely), and we’re set for October.

    Cannot wait until tomorrow, and cannot wait to see how AZ and the rest counter our move!

  5. Harold Reynolds has to be the dumbest person on the MLB network station. He said he needed MLB players coming back in this trade. Baltimore is not going to win this year Harold, wouldn’t you want players that are going to help you in the future. I do think the Dodgers got the better of the deal but maybe two or three of these guys might develop into something pretty special in a few years. Mannywood is back.

    1. Major leaguers do not care about minor leaguers. They only care about the 25 man. Harold thinks like a major leaguer. Why do you think the MLBPA gives absolutely nothing to those MiLB players? I do not agree with that assessment, but it is what it is. I asked my son once about the poor pay in the minors and whether the MLBPA could do something about it. He gave me a disgusted look and smirked saying, they don’t give a sh__ about us. That is the mentality. JT and Wood went crazy about getting Manny, and they would not have cared if it cost them the Dodgers top 5 prospects. The only thing they care about is the current year. Manny helps them in 2018, worry about 2019 next year.

  6. Some interesting stats on Manny.
    .280 vs LHP
    .328 vs RHP
    .371 vs late @ close
    .352 vs runners in scoring position
    .323 vs RISP and 2 out
    and on and on. Wow

  7. I pushed for Manny and 2 high end high leverage relievers, and never thought that FAZ would pull the trigger on any of those. I thought the big haul might be Adam Conley and Jared Hughes, but was inclined to think that FAZ was going to stick with Floro and Rosscup as the relievers. I was wrong about FAZ acquiring Manny, and I now believe I will be wrong about the potential relievers. It may still be Conley and Hughes, but it will be because that is who FAZ wants rather than what they are settling for. I trust their scouts more than my research.
    The Dodgers are currently projected to be $4.143M under the luxury tax threshold. They can pick up another $1M by reducing the number of projected starts by Maeda. He is on pace for 27 starts and if they keep it at 24, the Dodgers save $1M. He is on pace for 146 IP, and if that gets cut by 7 innings then the Dodgers save $250K, and would save $500K if they cut the number of innings by 17 (or 3 starts). FAZ should be able to pick up $1M to $1.5M.

    Forget Zach Britton (I know I am under selling FAZ yet again). His contract is $12M, and the prorated share would take the Dodgers over the threshold. But he is probably the one reliever not in play. Of course there is always the three team trade scenario where someone takes a Dodger vet.
    Kyle Barraclough – $1.113M – FA 2022
    Adam Conley – $545K – FA 2022
    Keone Kela – $1.2M – FA 2022
    Jose Leclerc – $545K – FA 2023
    Raisel Iglesias – $5.214M – FA 2021
    Jared Hughes – $2.125M – Option 2020 ($250K buyout)
    David Hernandez – $2.5M – FA 2020
    Felipe Vazquez – $5.5M – 2022/2023 team options
    Kyle Crick – $545K – FA 2024
    Keynan Middleton – $551K – FA 2024
    Lou Trivino – $545K – FA 2024
    Kirby Yates – 1.0625M – FA 2021
    Jeurys Familia – $7.925M – Rental
    The Pads are not going to trade Brad Hand to the Dodgers, so my first choice is Barraclough, but the prospect cost will undoubtedly be high. My second choice would be Texas’ Keone Kela. My third choice would be Familia who was absolutely untouchable in the 2015 post season…12G, 14.2 IP, 5 Hits, 1 Run, 2 walks, 9 K’s… .102/.137/.163/.301. One of those 3 and then a secondary solid reliever will go a long way. My choices…Kirby Yates, Lou Trivino, Kyle Crick.

  8. I hope we can sign Manny to a long term deal but I have my doubts as he has said, he wants to play SS. Whst happens to Seager next year??

    From the Associated Press:
    “I love playing short. I mean, I love it,”I’m more excited playing shortstop than I’ve ever been. I’m more into the game. This is where I’ve always wanted to be, this is what brings the best player out of me.”

  9. The Pads just traded Brad Hand (and RHRP Adam Cimber) to Cleveland for Francisco Mejia. Cleveland has 2 good catchers and they had a tough time finding a spot for Mejia so it absolutely makes sense for them. But the Pads? They must not think much of Austin Hedges. I would think they would have gone after top starting pitching. This now gives the Pads 10 top 100 prospects.
    That probably takes Kirby Yates off the market as well.

  10. With Manny now on board, there are three places in the lineup I would not change:
    #2- Muncy
    #3- Manny
    #4- Kemp

  11. Smart trade for sd. Young premium talent is everything. Very aggressive move by Cleveland. Let the trading season commence!

  12. This may be Kershaw’s final season as a Dodger. I can see him opting out of his contract if Dodgers win the World Series. Not to play for an outbidding team but to retire. He’s not in it for just the money and I’m sure the World Series is #1 on his career bucket list. I look at it like he’s already got the perfect game under his belt as it was the most perfect no hitter anybody has seen aside from an earlier shortstop Manny’s error. My money is on Kershaw delivering his best stuff ever this post season and with a little help from his friends 2018 is all ours! CHEERS!

    1. Wow, that is a blockbuster! A top 15 catching prospect for a stud all star closer who’s signed for 2 more years. Very fair deal. I would’ve dealt Verdugo for him too.
      But most importantly, thank God Hand won’t be going to Chicago or AZ !!!

    2. I can give you about $70 million reasons why retirement will never happen after this season.

  13. Quasimodo
    I like what you’re drinking! You are always so upbeat. Your glass is never half empty it is always completely full! So Cheers my friend! To a happy and joyful playoff run all the way to hoisting the World Series Championship Trophy!

  14. It would definitely be stupid not to keep Machado now that he’s here. Fans would be angrier than Trumpets at a diversity rally.

  15. No matter how motivated he is, Kershaw “delivering his best stuff ever this post season” is more a function of what his body will allow than any sort of internal motivation.

    Jacob deGrom is 30, and if memory serves, he cannot be a free agent until after the 2020 season. I he’s attainable at a price that makes sense to the Dodgers, then I don’t see any reason why the Dodgers wouldn’t be interested. If obtained by the Dodgers he would be with them in his age 30, 31 and 32 years. I don’t like signing pitchers to long term deals once they’re in their 30’s, but 32 is not all that old. After 2020 the Dodgers could then decide to extend him or not. Anyone on this site who is in favor of extending Kershaw long-term should realize that deGrom is a few months younger, and might be at this stage the better pitcher.

    I realize the Dodgers need bullpen arms, but trading for deGrom wouldn’t necessarily rule that out, and at the very least it might enable them to transition at least one of their starters to the pen. Both the added offense with Manny and the quality innings provided by a pitcher like deGrom, would in themselves take a lot of the pressure off of our pen.

    I’m not suggesting that I think the Dodgers would be willing to pay the price for deGrom, but I don’t think it should be ruled out, and neither do I think that deGrom being 30 should be an issue. I think 2.5 years of deGrom could be of value to the Dodgers, and could, in fact, enable them to let loose of Kershaw and his $35 million annual salary, that could be put to better use elsewhere. And he was signed for $7.4 million for this entire year, which means his current pro-rated salary for the remainder of this year would not put the Dodgers over the CBT.

    1. Thank you. Kershaw has proved time and again he cannot be trusted in October. If October Kershaw was the same as April-September Kershaw, we’d at minimum have 2 rings these last 5 years. I hope he proves otherwise this October, but until he does, I won’t have ultimate faith that he delivers his best stuff ever this postseason.

      Right now, we have a nice deep staff, but no real proven postseason ace. So instead of expecting our ace to get us a win, we have to hope that Kersh is sharp, we have to hope Hill is sharp, we have to hope Stripling is the real deal when it matters, we have to hope the rookie Buehler can do it when it matters. Right now, in a playoff series, I’d trust our bullpen more (with Maeda back there, with Cingrani healthy, and Jansen) than I would our starters.

      1. I believe the Dodgers have won something like 10 of the last 11 Kershaw starts in October. They won all 3 game 1’s last year. I worry more about his back keeping him from being the best he can be more than the date on the calender.

  16. I am surprised FAZ went out and made the trade for Machado, and the cost of doing that is the cost. If the Dodgers want to sign Machado to a long-term contract, it will be interesting to see how they handle both Seager and Machado, and maybe even Turner. For now how about 1 or 2 good bullpen pitchers.

    1. previous #8 players (Baseball Reference)

      Shane Victorino (2012)
      Olmedo Saenz (2004-2007)
      Ron Coomer (2003)
      Mark Grudzielanek (1999-2002)
      Gary Carter (1991)
      Mark Belanger (1982)
      Reggie Smith (1976-1981)
      Jerry Royster (1973-1975)
      Dick Dietz (1972)
      Duke Sims (1971-1972)
      Bob Stinson (1969-1970)
      John Roseboro (1957-1967)
      Ron Fairly (1959)
      Dale Mitchell (1956)
      Rocky Nelson (1956)
      George Shuba (1948-1955)
      Cal Abrams (1950)
      Don Lund (1948)
      Hal Gregg (1947)
      Howie Schultz (1943-1947)
      Claude Corbitt (1945)
      Ed Stevens (1945)
      Bobo Newsom (1942-1943)
      Schoolboy Rowe (1942)
      Jimmy Wasdell (1941)
      Joe Vosmik (1940-1941)
      Art Parks (1939)
      Gilly Campbell (1938)
      Paul Chervinko (1937-1938)
      Sid Gautreaux (1937)
      Lonny Frey (1934-1936)
      Jake Flowers (1933)
      Gordon Slade (1932)

  17. Francisco Mejía was the #15 Top Prospect and the #1 Catching Prospect. After catching almost exclusively during his first four seasons, Mejia spent the entire AFL working at third base and then split time between the outfield and catcher in 2018 . The fact is, many scouts do not consider him a catcher, nor do I.

    The closest prospect the Dodgers have to Mejia is Alex Verdugo at #27, but I would not trade him to the Padres and have to face him 20 times a year! NO WAY! Just my take.

    KayBear Ruiz is now the #1 Rated Catching Prospect in the minors… if Mejia is promoted. Will Smith will be #6!

    1. I know nothing about Mejia but it seems to show me how much value guys like smith and Ruiz have. Add in cartaya and we have some amazing pieces in our stable
      I can’t believe anyone is actually advocating trading Taylor. I’m saying zero per cent chance he’s traded.
      Similarly, machado as a free agent is a completely separate de A’s l from this. Might as well be discussing Bryce harper too. Each has the same chance of being here. Say it with me: highest overall contract offer.
      I dont see a trade for a starting pitcher in the works. Use those monetary and trade assets for relief.
      As much as he’s a core member of the team, I think wood is the one possibility for a surprise money deal e sf pevuallt if ryun returns. But that’s only if we have to free space. I recall wood being a guy who actually manned up in the ws.
      So excited for machado. If we paid a premium it was in quantity not quality and we also kept him from other teams. I still say he’s more for the postseason than the regular.
      I need to find a prospect replacement for Bannon. For Diaz I have peters/verdugo. For pop kasowski. For Kremer gonsolin. Valera was a nobody. Maybe c. Santana?
      Is Puig going to be back before the trade deadline? Can you trade someone on the dl? Is verdugo in this years plans? Will toles be sent down? Is urias our secret weapon in October?

  18. I think this team… constructed as it is today without any additional changes can definitely hold off Arizona for first place and probably edge out the Cubs, Brewers, Braves, or Phillies in a playoff series… but that’s not what concerns me.

    What wakes me up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat is the thought of this current pitching staff (especially the bullpen) going against the Astros, Red Sox, or Yankees in the World Series.

    There’s just too many questions marks with our starters right now. Will Kersh’s body hold up through October? Will Hill’s blister issue come back? Will Buehler hit the proverbial rookie wall? Did we just see what Chicken Strip looks like under pressure in the ASG?
    How often will our starters be able to give us 7 strong innings… allowing 3 runs or less?

    Maeda will definitely be a boost to the middle relief… but who else can we trust in the late innings against the best hitting teams in the league?

    Let’s hope that Zaidi and Friedman have a few more tricks up their sleeves. Would love to get BearClaw from Miami and Iglesias from the Reds.

  19. I watched a video of Joe Davis and Doc doing a Q & A. Some fans brought up that if the Dodgers have 8 starters healthy in the playoffs, that they pair them up:

    Game 1 – Kershaw and Maeda
    Game 2 – Buehler and Wood
    Game 3 – Stripling and Hill
    Game 4 – Ryu and Urias

    Also, you have 4 or 5 more power relievers to fill-in when needed. If the starter begins to faulter after 4, 5 or 6, the second starter comes in and pitches 2 or 3 innings.

    Doc said that had merit and I think it does too. That is essentially what the Astros did in the WS.

    1. Interesting. That means five others in the pen. Jansen. Alexander, Floro, Hudson, Goeddell? Ferguson? Kohler?

  20. For all the FAZ bashers who roasted them for not paying Morrow what he wanted, the Cubs just put him back on the DL for right elbow inflammation. Hmmm..

  21. Brandon Morrow is heading to the 10-day DL with right biceps inflammation, retroactive to July 16.

    1. Speculation on one of the Cubs sites is that this is probably a proactive DL placement in order to keep Morrow fresh for later in the season. Will see if he is activated next Thursday.

      1. That’s his second stint on the DL.

        I like him a lot, but he can’t be used like he was by Doc in the WS.

  22. Passan on the Padres/Indians deal:
    This is my 15th year covering baseball. Can’t remember a playoff field as stacked as the AL’s is going to be this season. Giving Terry Francona, the game’s best bullpen manager, Miller, Allen, Hand, Cimber (and Carrasco?) is frightening. Especially since Red Sox and Yankees will be fighting to avoid the wild-card spot and the Astros may push all-in for home-field advantage. The Indians, meanwhile, will cruise to Central title and can manage their starters’ innings and bullpen’s appearances. In great position for playoffs.

    Also scary: the Padres’ farm system. Tatis, Gore, Urias, Paddack, Morejon, Baez, Ruiz, Ornelas, Allen, Nix, Rosario, Naylor, Potts, Espinoza. Add Francisco Mejia, who’s got a star-level bat. That’s at least 15 Top 100-type talents, and they’re loaded with young Latin players. Was talking with a longtime evaluator a few days ago, and he thinks the Padres are the greatest threat to the Dodgers. “Tatis and Urias up the middle with Margot. An entirely new rotation. Sign a guy or two beyond Hosmer and Myers and they’re a contender.”

  23. I have been on the DeGrom bandwagon from the beginning, he is 30 years old like Kershaw, and will be an FA after 2020. Having DeGrom will give the Dodgers a solid rotation for the final 2 months, and hopefully into the playoffs. Kershaw, DeGrom, Buehler, Stripling, Ryu( maybe ) with Maeda, and Hill out of the pen. I’m sure Wood would be used in a trade.
    If Kershaw opts- out or stays DeGrom will be a great insurance.

      1. I was at the 2016 deadline when he went on his jersey cut up tirade and apparently wore out his welcome in Chicago. The sticking point that year was Urias. ChiSox made out as they got a bigger haul from the BoSox for 2017.

    1. It would cost too much in prospects. Add several relievers and ride the hot ones in October.

    2. If deGrom is traded… and I doubt he would be , it may be the biggest haul in trade deadline history.

      Here’s what the Mets will want from the Dodgers:
      1. Buehler
      2. Verdugo
      3. Ruiz; and
      4. Maybe White

      I would not pay that!

      Look what the Padres got for a relief pitcher – Hand!

    1. Toles might be back sooner then you think!

      Quick fact, Toles hit in as many runs as both Joc and Kike have in July which is four runs, even though both Joc and Kike, had twice the opportunities to hit runs in, an almost double the at bats, then Toles had.

      And this is even though both Joc and Kike hit two HRs this month, which where two of their four RBIS, and they also had three doubles and a few more hits, then Toles.

      Talk about HRs being over rated at times, at least solo HRs.

      That is probably because pitchers pitch much tougher when runners are on base, and even more, when runners are in scoring position.

  24. They need to find a way to get Forsythe off this team!

    They didn’t hesitate to drop Crawford, for a whole lot of more money then Forsythe is making.

    We don’t need five players that can play second base, on the roster, especially a player that hits lower then 200 against righties, and not much better, against lefties.

  25. Here’s an excerpt from an article in the NY Post about today’s baseball:

    “To that end, June 24 may have provided the most telling game and broadcast of the season, if not the era. It was the clincher, the one containing indisputable evidence that The Game has lost its heart, soul, good senses and mind.

    On SNY, Ron Darling watched the Mets play more fundamentally bereft and bullpen-senseless losing baseball, an 11-inning game of modern home-run-or-whiff ball against the home-run-or-whiff Dodgers. With both teams pulling effective relievers as if they’d arrived at their one-station stops, 14 pitchers appeared.

    Darling: “It seems teams now try to win games through some math algorithms in real time, when the game is calling for you to do something to win the ballgame.”

    Or, as the long-ago radio comic Fred Allen said, “The only thing I know about algebra is that X equals my old man’s signature.”

    And it was Darling who last season said what logical fans have for years been saying to one another: “They pay the big money to the starters, then expect the relievers to win the games.”

    June 24’s game presented final, indisputable evidence of a game in needless free fall. In the bottom of the 10th, the Mets had a runner on first, no out. Next, even against a radical shift, Dominic Smith, 11th overall pick in the 2013 draft, didn’t try to bunt the runner over, perhaps even for a hit. Instead, he struck out on three pitches.

    Afterward, Mickey Callaway offered both a stunning — or was it? — explanation and indictment: Smith had “never bunted in his professional career.”

    At the All-Star break, the Yankees have proven that a team can be competitive playing one-trick, home-run-or-whiff ball because most everyone else does, except with fewer, less-expensive sluggers in mostly larger parks.

    At the break, the Yanks had 821 hits. But as MLB concludes its likely first-ever season with more strikeouts than hits, the Yanks had 866 strikeouts. Consider: The 1978 World Series champion Yanks finished the regular season with 100 wins and only 695 K’s.

    Modern slugger/superstar Aaron Judge, in roughly two full seasons, has struck out 382 times. In 13 seasons Joe DiMaggio struck out 369 times. In 18 seasons, Yogi Berra never struck out more than 38 times.

    And Bryce Harper, this season with 102 strikeouts and 70 hits — and a career disinclination to run to first base — is the new standard in must-get, mega-millions superstardom.

    But we’re not going to abandon the game we love. With all the millions spent for fourth and fifth starters and .235 batters, money should not preclude the cure. Thus we propose:

    MLB teams’ Directors of Bunting, Shift-Defeating and Opposite Field Hitting. That could cause a significant swing in wins over losses, no?

    From there, who knows? Directors of Running To First Base (with video case-studies of why it’s important). Catching With Both Hands coaches. Directors of Allowing Effective Relievers to Pitch a Second Inning. Instructors of Base Runners Noting Where Outfielders Are Positioned.”

    I couldn’t agree more.

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