Postcards From The Edge

Clayton Kershaw is my favorite Dodger.  I was on the Kershaw bandwagon long before he was Clayton Kershaw. Disclaimer:  I do not claim to be the only one to see that.  Ray Charles saw it too, but it was about 13 years ago that Roger Dodger and Voldmar and I went to Beloit, Wisconsin to see Clayton Kershaw pitch for the Great Lakes Loons, and it was as close as you can get. We sat in the “scout area” and it was obvious to everyone that he was special.  His stuff was “otherworldly” but the Beloit team roughed  him up a bit.  That brings up a couple of issues :

  1. How does Clayton evolve?
  2. Why do players stay on teams when they don’t do well?

Clayton Needs to Evolve

When Clayton first came up, he sometimes touched 97-98 MPH.  Over the years, that has went down as he has amassed over 2,000 innings on that Golden Left Arm. I think he likely will need surgery and miss a season very soon, but he’s not there yet.  Saturday in Milwaukee, he rarely pitched above 89 MPH, and he should have only allowed 1 run, but the Dodgers’ defense let him down. He looked dominant at times and not so dominant at other times.  He is always around the plate, so hitters are always looking in the “zone.”

When  you have a fastball that hits 93-94, like even last year it’s difficult to hit a strike, but when that fastball is 88-90, it’s easier to hit any of his pitches.  Clayton Kershaw is still an “Elite Pitcher.”  His ERA is 2.64 and he has a 1.09 WHIP.  He is one of the Top 15 pitchers in baseball, but he’s no longer THE BEST THERE IS!

The thing is:  I think he can still get better… until his arm gives out… if he evolves.  He can no longer throw one down the middle and dare some batter to try and hit it, because they can! He is going to have to work the corners a little more and maybe that will lead to a few more walks… and yes, I know walks are bad.  I’m not talking about a lot more walks, just more “nibbling” like when Greg Maddux evolved.

He also has to change his pitching paterns – hitters are jumping on that first pitch, because they know he is going to throw a strike… and they are ready. Clayton just nededs to pitch 5 or 6 innings and give up 2 runs or less and he can be a force for us.  I would love to have deGrom, but (1) I doubt he is traded; and (2) if he is, it will be for a HUGE HAUL (think Verdugo, Lux, May, Ruiz and Santana – yes, that kind of HUGE).  Why would the Mets trade him unless they get a windfall?

So, the Dodgers have to make up in quantity, what they might lack in quality.  They need 8 healthy starters for the playoffs – 4 of whom will be in the bullpen. They may add another arm, but they won’t overpay and they won’t go over the Luxury Tax Threshold. If everyone is healthy at the end of the season, I am not so sure the team needs another arm, but it never hurts.

Caleb Ferguson is one pitch away from being a solid starter, but with what he has, he is a solid bullpen piece. He may never get that third pitch… and that ain’t a bad thing.

Why Teams Keep Players Fans Think are Bad

I must confess I was so frustrated with Logan Forsythe that I wanted him DFA’ed… or worse. Sometimes we can’t understand why a player is still on the team when we look at the stats, but maybe we aren’t seeing “everything.” We don’t see how they work out, we don’t see how they study film, how they prepare or how they take extra BP and ask for help (or not).  We don’t see conversations they have with teammates and coaches. We don’t see how much they want it.  We often don’t understand what kind of injury they may have – where they are in the rehab process and many other things.  We don’t know how their teammates feel about them, but we do know that Doc believes in players who work hard.

InThe LA Times, Houston Mitchellwrote this:

Logan Forsythe is 31 years old and in the final season of a three-year, $18.5-million deal he signed with Tampa Bay before the 2016 season. The Dodgers acquired him before the 2017 season in exchange for Jose De Leon.

Since then, Forsythe has hit .219/.325/.317, good for a 73 OPS+. I do believe Davey Lopes would put up similar numbers, and he’s 73.

So why does Dave Roberts keep sending him out there? He was asked that, and here’s his response according to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register:

“I don’t ever doubt his preparedness, his focus, his intent. It’s been a tough go for Logan for 2 1/2 months, 3 months. I think the defense is above average.

“You guys know me — I don’t like to give up on players. Especially when they’re doing things the right way, because I think that sends a message to the clubhouse. I appreciate his work. He never once takes his offense out to the defensive side. For me, that means a lot.”

Now on one level, I understand that response. Roberts isn’t going to bury a player publicly. It’s not like anyone expects him to answer with “Yeah, he’s horrible. We’re thinking of releasing him.”

The troubling part is the “It’s been tough go for Logan for 2 1/2, 3 months.”

So, Doc ran him out there again on Sunday and Logan went 3-4 with a walk to boot.  I’m not going to pronounce him “cured” but it’s a start.  Matt Carpenter of the Cardinals was hitting .140 with 2 HR on May 15th and they stuck with him. He’s now hitting .277 with 24 HR!  You and I do not know what Logan has been going through, but Dave Roberts does… plus he knows a lot more too.  That’s good enough for me.  I defer to Doc – he’ not an idiot and I trust he has good reasons. Like Clayton, who got roughed up by Beloit, good things sometimes come to those who wait!

We got to Milwaukee just as the gates opened, so I watched BP and all the warmups.  Some may think Justin Turner was rushed back, but I watched him in warmups and he was lobbying for playing Saturday night.  He was running, twisting and doing everything he was supposed to do.  Yesterday, in real game action, he felt he still wasn’t right and asked out of the game.  Good one him!  Give him a few more days…

Puig will be back soon and I want to see Verdugo at leadoff. The Dodgers have lots of streaky hitters (Bellinger, Grandal, Pederson, Taylor, et al) – they need more Machados, Turners and Verdugos!

Photos from Milwaukee

We had a blast in Milwaukee.  I forgot to take many pictures, but here’s a few, in case you care.  We saw the Milwaukee Air Show in the afternoon featuring The Thunderbirds.  It was pretty awesome. The Dodgers game?  Not so much, but there are some nice pics of Nomar, Alana, Dylan Hernandez, Clayton and Manny. By the way, I have no doubt that Manny can play SS as good… maybe better than Corey Seager!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article has 79 Comments

  1. There were two morning games played by the affiliates today. Great Lakes beat the Peoria Chiefs (Cardinals) 2-1 in a 10 inning game, while Rancho Cucamonga blew a 5-2 lead with 2 outs in the 8th with no runners and fell 8-6 to the Modesto Nuts (Mariners), thanks to some very poor relief pitching.
    .
    Dustin May pitched the first 7.2 innings (96 pitches) before he walked his first batter. He was immediately replaced by RHRP Connor Strain. With a runner on 1st and 2 outs, Strain allowed a single followed by a 3 run HR to tie the score, with one of the runs scoring from an inherited runner and charged to May. May finished the day with 7.2 innings, 7 hits, 1 walk, with 5 K’s. Strain was not any better in the 9th when he allowed a walk, single, and hit batter to load the bases with one out. Strain then gave up a 2 run single. Logan Salow picked up for Strain and allowed one of the inherited runners to score giving Strain .2 IP, 5 runs, 4 hits, 1 walk, and 1 HBP, with 1 K. Salow pitched .2 innings allowing 2 hits and 2 K’s. He did allow one of the inherited runners to score, which was charged to Strain.
    .
    In the Great Lakes game, Alfredo Tavarez (7.0 IP) and Melvin Jimenez (3.0 IP) were pitching a shutout into the 10th when Jimenez allowed one run to score (unearned). In the bottom of the 10th, with a runner starting at second (Luke Heyer), Gersel Pitre hit a fly ball to CF and Heyer went to 3rd. Eric Peterson drew a one out walk putting runners on 1st and 3rd bringing up Josh McLain who hit a sac fly to tie the game, and send Peterson to 2nd. Peterson then scored on a 2 out single by Brandon Montgomery in the 10th to get the walk off win. The Loons got 3 hits, all singles, 2 by Montgomery and 1 by McLain. Montgomery had the sole hit going into the 10th when the Loons put up the 2 runs and the win.
    .
    Getting back to the RC game and the lack of relief pitching, on July 4, the Quakes had 5 extremely qualified relievers; Michael Boyle, Nolan Long, Zach Pop, Marshall Kasowski, and Andre Scrubb. On July 5, both Boyle and Long were promoted to Tulsa. Pop was promoted to Tulsa on July 16, but before he got into a Drillers game he was traded to the O’s. Today Kasowski was promoted to Tulsa and Long was reassigned to RC but was not available for today’s game. Scrubb pitched yesterday, so he was also not available. That left a weak bullpen to relieve Dustin May, and they did not come through. I would have liked to see May go after 1 more hitter to see if he could get out of the 8th. But alas, it was not to be, so a very well pitched game by May was wasted.

      1. They both deserve the promotion. I think it will happen at least by August 1. That will be 4-5 starts at AA for May, and Lux should play 6 out of 7 games.

    1. Dodgers pitching prospect Jose Chacin had another strong outing for the Ogden Raptors, throwing six innings for his fifth win of the season. He struck out six, walked two, allowed four hits and one unearned run. He lowered his ERA to 1.28 with the outing. ⚾️ @Dodgers

    1. I think I heard during the All-star break that the innings cap is going to impact Stripling at some point.

      Either the team will move him to the pen, shut him down or give him extended time on the DL.

  2. I still don’t fully trust Strip as a top 2 starter, but that’s only because he hasn’t done it yet. I think he’s due to regress to the mean a bit, and that’s not a bad thing. Now let’s see if he can correct what’s going on (unless it’s just fatigue), and rebound by September.

    Another reason I want an ace; we don’t have one. Regardless, the ball seems to be flying out of that park today, so now it’s our turn to hit a couple.

    1. I have zero confidence in Cody. Bases loaded with one out. Hit the freaking ball to the OF scores a run. Nomar was commenting that he appears to be standing straight up in his stance. Appears his top and lower half aren’t in sync. Sit him down for two days and let Verdugo hit

    1. If that’s the case then so would any other pitcher in the business. I remember to well pre-Jansen.

      It was really cool Phillies fans showing Utley the respect he’s so surely earned. It has to be cemented which cap he’ll be wearing into the HOF.

      XLNT points MARK! I remember eating crow for my attacking Juan Uribe’s play when he played all those games while injured. The team loved him for good reason.

  3. Cody needs 2 or 3 days off, but he also does so much in the field. He’s outta’ sync…

    I have seen too much from him to question his ability to adjust. He will!

    1. I have previously said on a number of occasions that Belli should spend 10 days in AZ, not OK, to work on his swing and give his brain time to process what he would be working on. This break has been put off too long. Muncy can play first for those 10 days. That would not be a demotion and he would continue to accumulate MLB time and pay.

  4. Almost pulled defeat from the jaws of victory. It was much harder than it should have been

  5. Mark, I agree with you that Kershaw is no longer the best pitcher in baseball, but if he doesn’t opt-out after the season I hope the Dodgers don’t give him an extension, let the next 2 years play out before making a decision.

  6. The infield is getting crowded with Belli, Taylor, Turner, Seager, Muncy, Machado, and even Hernandez all possibilities next year.
    .
    Same with the outfield with Kemp, Pederson, Taylor, Bellinger, Puig, Verdugo, Toles, Hernandez,
    .
    Puig’s name came up regarding Baltimore. Maybe a Puig for Britton might happen.

      1. FAZ will give Grandal the Qualifying Offer… and he will likely decline and get a better deal elsewhere. If he takes it, they have him for another year. I can see Barnes and Will Smith there too.

    1. next year
      IF Seager, Taylor, Machado, Turner; Hernandez – super utility
      OF Pederson or Toles, Bellinger, Kemp, Verdugo
      DH Muncy
      C Barnes, Smith

      If’s
      we resign Machado then Seager or Turner to 1B and Bellinger to CF
      QO to Grandal who turns it down
      I think Puig and one of Pederson/Toles is traded
      I’m with Mark and think we will see the DH in the NL next year

      1. I would like to be able to pay Machado $35M in each of years 2019 – 2022 and then taper it down in each of the following 6 years with an opt out after 2022 and again in 2024. I can’t see paying him $35M when he is 36. That would be a front loaded contract that protects him against injury for 10 years but has in incentive for him to opt out after age 30.

        1. I’m all in favor of front loaded contracts with increased incentives in later years. Seems to reward players and yet protect clubs for later declines. I think Machado will still be worth the money at 30 y/o but could live with an opt out at that age to protect against the age 35 season. Would prefer increased incentives in later years however.

  7. As difficult as it is to see Kershaw as mortal and potentially in decline, it comes at the right time. With the DL stints the last three years and his current drop in velocity, his potential opt out after this year will give teams pause before throwing money at him. Where he is and with his current contract is probably the best place for him.

    Meanwhile, it’s good to have other pitchers fill that vacuum. Good Fangraphs article on Maeda.

    https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/kenta-maedas-new-mix/

  8. I remember that Beloit trip well. That Cubs scout we were sitting by definitely liked Kershaw.

    I was in Milwaukee for the Sunday game, which turned out a little better.

  9. The Dodgers are usually buyers but would it not be nice if they could trade a rental for prospects. I am talking about Ryu. There are teams that need pitching and the Dodgers are looking at 8 starters come September. Granted one of them is Urias and he will probably do most of his pitching in relief.
    .
    Players and their union want to drive salaries up. Kershaw will respect that and take that into consideration when he decides about his opt out. He also didn’t want to commit to a 10 year contract. I always thought that he felt it was too much to expect to be paid $33 million a year for 10 years regardless of his performance. Might he consider opting out and sign an incentive laden contract with the Dodgers since he can’t be too confident that he will perform equal to that $33M+/year?

    1. The Ryu idea isn’t a bad one though. I really don’t find it realistic to have guys sitting around not competing for months and then be difference makers down the stretch for the Dodgers. I’m a Ryu fan so I would hate to see it happen, but maybe he could be flipped for some kids that can be used in another deal. However, considering he won’t be back before the trade deadline it makes it unrealistic to move him for anything other than a salary dump in August.

  10. Tonight’s Dodger lineup:
    Pederson LF
    Machado 3B
    Muncy 1B
    Grandal C
    Taylor SS
    Bellinger CF
    Hernández 2B
    Verdugo RF
    Maeda P

    Buehler is also reported to be in the clubhouse. Assuming today’s game is played (batting practice was apparently cancelled due to weather), “Striker” is expected to pitch tomorrow.

    1. I think either Toles or Pederson will be traded. Also expect to see Puig traded before next year. We have a logjam of ML capable OF’s.

  11. Bryce Harper scratched from tonight’s game – No reason given….

    Hummmmm..

  12. To add to the annals of injured pitchers who continued to get injured:
    `
    Koehler had season ending surgery today or yesterday.
    `
    More news:
    `
    Yasiel Puig will get 3 at bats tonight with OKC and rehab with them thru Friday. Join the Dodgers in Atlanta Sunday
    `
    Pedro Baez will rejoin club on Thursday in Atlanta. Hyun-Jin Ryu will begin a rehab assignment next week.

  13. I really don’t like the look of the lineup posted by SCG above.
    Don’t ever remember a lineup with such strike out potential.
    That is an all or nothing shot.
    I would at least let Verdugo lead off.

    1. That would be Dave Robert’s proposed line up. Don’t shoot the messenger :-). Agree, sure looks like a lot of potential K’s. I had posted a possible roster for next year but assume you are referring to tonight’s line up.

      1. No – Doc’s shit or bust line up tonight.

        What do i know – probably win at a canter.

  14. If you are thinking this is the year, you have to keep Ryu. He was pitching well before he got hurt. You let him walk this winter. Same is true with Grandal.

    I believe this winter 2-3 outfielders will be traded. Joc has done better than I thought, but I would trade him along with Puig. I think both Toles and Verdugo have higher ceilings. The problem with Toles is health issues. Can he stay on the field.

    1. Al

      He only went out that one time this year, and after being off almost two month, he is now hitting 338 after being back, for about, forty days.

      Think about it, he had to come back and catch up on his own, and he is doing well.

      And he doesn’t know all the pitchers in that league, like our other players do, that has been playing there, for the last couple years.

      I think considering what he went through, he is doing pretty well.

      He hit in four runs in that week he was up, and that was the most RBIs on the team for that week, along with Taylor, and without hitting one HR.

  15. Nola has the 5th best ERA in baseball, 2.27, just behind Degrom, Sale, Verlander and Snell

    Not gonna be easy tonight!

    1. Game on MLB Network tonight, FYI
      Game tomorrow at 1230pm EST on MLB Network as well
      Back to back TV broadcasts

  16. Remember last year when bellinger was our 1b for the next decade? Didn’t even last a year. Muncys our 1b.

    1. I still think Bellinger will be there. He’s too good there. Muncy will be the DH next year!

  17. Let’s not forget OPS:

    A Great .9000 and Higher
    B Very Good .8334 to .8999
    C Above Average .7667 to .8333
    D Average .7000 to .7666
    E Below Average .6334 to .6999
    F Poor .5667 to .6333
    G Very Poor .5666 and Lower

    1. It is rumored to be Dylan Tate (Yankees #9 Prospect) and Brandon Drury. If so, the O’s did pretty good!

      1. Tate, Rogers, and Carroll to O’s. The Dodgers should have got Familia in my opinion unless they can get a young, cheap controllable guy.

  18. Dodger Players
    A Great .9000 and Higher – Manny, Kemp, Muncy
    B Very Good .8334 to .8999 – Pederson, Grandal
    C Above Average .7667 to .8333 – Taylor, Bellinger, Puig,Hernandez
    D Average .7000 to .7666 – Turner, Verdugo
    E Below Average .6334 to .6999 – Utley, Toles
    F Poor .5667 to .6333 – Barnes, Forsythe, Farmer

    That is according to Bill James

    1. I think most of those players you are talking about, was given much longer then a week!

      We are talking three plus years, or more.

      Look at the career numbers!

      And it is a shame taking three walks, means more on an OPS, then hitting in, four runs with four hits, and look at the numbers, that is that truth!

  19. $250,000 fly out to start the 4th inning. #Dodgers⁠ ⁠ Kenta Maeda just reached 90 IP for the season, 1st of his IP bonuses. Already got $1m for making 15 starts. 2018 salary so far is $4.4m. All of this bonuses he collects counts against LAD’s shrinking margin under the CBT

  20. continuing last night’s discussion about Bellinger. He really needs to sit. Completely out of sync and is not even giving himself a fighting chance. His base hit tonight was a slapstick to LF with almost no front leg plant, arms only. Sit him down Doc and use Verdugo in the OF for the next 3 days.

    1. That sounds logical on the surface, but what we don’t see is what is going on behind the scenes. What if (and I don’t know, but I suspect) Cody is coming early and staying late, studying film, working with the coaches and seeking help, and what if they think he is close to breaking through?

      We just don’t have access to everything, so I will trust what Doc decides to do…

  21. For the 3rd game since the All Star break, the Dodgers’ starting pitcher has been unable to hold onto an early lead. They are giving up the longball. And there are still too many situations where the Dodgers have left too many men on base and don’t hit with RISP.

    1. Maybe Dustin may will be able to go deep in games. Our weakness. One reason I’m a Jim Morris fan. Complete games.

  22. Daniel, I hear you.
    What a shocking way to lose a game, especially after all the effort to get to 16 innings.
    Hill had warmed, so let him pitch. He could have pitched for as long as necessary. A win for him tonight would have been as valuable as win in his next outing.

    Also, the inability to manufacture a single run in 10 innings from the 6th is pathetic. No small ball or running game, just a total reliance on the long ball.
    This philosophy will not get the job done this season.
    Wonder what this symbolic defeat, with the manager giving the game away will do
    Long term?

    1. I tend to agree. Play 15 1/2 innings and then pull the plug. Let Hill pitch. If they had double -switched for kike rather than Verdugo earlier they would have had a former pitcher on the field still. Of course Forsythe can’t come through when needed.

  23. I think it’s pretty simple… Dave just doesn’t have a great feel for when his pitchers are in trouble and/or when start losing their effectiveness.

    And conversely he’ll often take out pitchers too soon when they are rolling… most notably with Hill last year throughout the playoffs.

    Strip should have probably been taken out on Monday after Valentin doubled and Maeda should have been lifted after Franco doubled in Santana to make it 4-2 tonight. You’re just playing with fire… I know what he was trying to do and yeah, it would have been great for Kenta to get through that 7th and save an extra arm for the early game tomorrow… well, when you guess wrong, this is what can happen.

    I could care less about the outcome of this game in the grand scheme of things. But we should be extremely concerned about what this portends. If he hasn’t learned from past mistakes and really doesn’t have a good feel for how to handle his pitching staff in close games against good teams. I would pay good money to know what Rick Honeycutt is saying to Dave in these situations… because while Dave… having never been a pitcher in his baseball career, he can somewhat be excused for not having a good feel for pitching or his pitching staff. For Honeycutt… he just simply doesn’t have the same excuse.

  24. This may have been the stupidest way to lose a ballgame that I can remember. You’d think they could get a couple of innings out of Ferguson. If not that, they have Buehler coming up to pitch tomorrow so they could have had a starter pitch as long as necessary. This is a loss to be laid at Roberts’ feet – totally stupid.

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