It’s Time To Change Expectations

We all know the Dodgers are capable of scoring runs and scoring them in bunches… with or without the long ball.  We also know that too frequently, they don’t.  For a team that leads the National League in Home Runs and Runs Scored, it is very troubling that they sometimes forget how to score.

To say that “This is the team FAZ built” is absurd.” They have repeatedly shown they can do what is needed to win. They have the talent. They are also the #1 team in the NL in team ERA.  The players can do it – they just don’t!  Why?  It boils down to expectations.  Before I explain that, I am going to tell you a couple of real-life stories about expectations.

Softball Story

I played City League Softball until I was 56 years-old.  The last 9 years were as pitcher and manager, and while I lost my power years before, I played at a pretty high level – lots of doubles and singles.  We didn’t win any championships but we were always in the running.  If you have ever played in one of those “beer leagues” you know that a few teams have sponsors who actually pay some players a “stipend.”  

Anyway, there was always bickering as to where certain players should hit in the batting order, so one day before the game, I came out with a bating order based solely on your batting average. If you want to hit higher in the order, raise your batting average! The top 10 hitters started and the rest were on the bench – every game, unless there was an injury.  No one could be mad at me with the lineup, because you hit where your batting average said you should hit.

In my next to last year, I hit lead-off all except for two games and was second in runs scored.  My last year, I hit 5th most of the season.  It was a good way to run a beer league team.  I am not saying Dave Roberts should manage the Dodgers like that, but if he did, the lineup might look like this:

 

  • Turner  3B  – .300
  • Kemp LF – .282
  • Verdugo CF – .280 (oh wait, he’s at AAA – what the hel is he doing there?)
  • Puig  RF – .267
  • Machado SS – .263
  • Bellinger 1B – .260
  • Muncy  2B – .256
  • Grandal C – .247

On the bench are Dozier, Taylor, Pederson and Kike –Sorry guys, you wanna’ play raise that BA!Tell me that lineup is any worse than the abortions Dave Roberts runs out there! I am starting to believe that there is a LA JINX. Some players flourish in Hollywood and others wilt under the bright lights.  Manny Ramirez thrived under the microscope while Manny Machado has wilted.  Dozier is just a bunch of Bull.  What kind of player has a dog named “Pickles” anyway? A real junkyard dog name is Brutus, Spike, Satan or Axel.  Dozier and Machado are just pretty boys to me. Where’s the beef? The Dodgers need a “butter and egg man“, like A-Gon used to be years ago. Some of these guys make me pine for A-Gon.

 

Sales Expectations

In my business, for years our top sales people sold $50,000 to $75,000 a month. That is what they were used to selling and that is what they expected to sell.  Even when we installed new contact management software they still sold $50,000 to $75,000.  I battled with our Sales Manager who said there was no way they could sell more.  His expectations controlled his results.  Long story short:  I had to fire him… and a few other sales people.  I hired a new sales manager. Unlike my old sales manager, he was not a water expert (he was from the appliance business), but I have many water experts and I am a Master Water Specialist.  He was/is a true sales manager who understands how to train, manage and motivate a sales force.It took two millennials, both 19 years-old to break the $100,000 threshold in a month – now people do it routinely.  Our top sales people do $100,000 to $140,000 a month and now our middle-of-the-pack people write $50,000 to $75,000 a month.  The biggest change is expectations.  Change your expectations and you will change your life.How this Applies to the DodgersContrary to what many believe FAZ does not make out the lineup.  They gather all the data, provide all the statistics and Dave Roberts and his staff make out the lineup.  FAZ  does not expect a different lineup every day, they are smart guys and know what “productive outs” are… in fact they probably have a stat for that too. What Doc does is not just by the stats, but rather a hodgepodge of trying to appease every player.  If Cody Bellinger is 4-4, he should not sit the next day, even if Mad Bum is pitching.  Ride a hot hand – the fact that Doc doesn’t isn’t on FAZ, it’s on him. FAZ has proven that they believe in the mental aspect of the game as much as the statistical aspect of the game. WhatBill Plaschke wrote for The LA Timesback in 2015 about Andrew Friedman is as true now as it was then:Numbers are only part of the equation.I call it “changing expectations.” AC called it “Holding players accountable.” It’s really very similar, and it starts with changing your and their expectations.  More often than not, you get what you believe.  Believe something else!

 

This article has 49 Comments

  1. I cannot let myself get too excited about last night’s game. Been there before. But it is a start, and the team picked up a game on both the DBacks and Rockies. This offense needs to perform at least through next weekend. It would be great for the team to go on one of those 12 game win streaks right about now.
    .
    Expectations are necessary to function in any environment. Parents give expectations to their kids. Teachers give expectations to their students. Principals to their teachers. Bosses to their staff. Board of Directors to management. What else is required is to hold them accountable. If kids do not meet the expectations their are consequences. Students get bad grades if they do not meet the expectations. Staff get dinged with notices in their personnel file or automatic termination depending on the action.
    .
    I am hoping that FAZ gave Roberts their expectation of winning the WS. Roberts should have turned it around and advised FAZ that he needs to have the players to make it work. Last year’s team was pretty much intact with the exception of relievers; principally Morrow and Watson. Much was expected of this group. Roberts and the coaching staff should have discussed individual expectations with their players.
    .
    The problem with the team is that there were no apparent consequences for the players. Why was CT3 in the leadoff role for so long in the beginning when he continued to struggle and strike out? Why is he still in the starting lineup with all of his K’s (especially looking). Why is Austin Barnes still on the 25 man after struggling all year? Why were players who refused to make adjustments especially with 2 strikes allowed to remain in the lineup? Of course if the expectations were power power and more power and anything other than HR is not as important, then the players met their expectations. The expectations SHOULD be team oriented, and not individually based. Thus a problem with individual incentives in player contracts.
    .
    If team wins were looked at more favorably than individual stats, then “productive outs” would all of a sudden become important. Hitting behind the runner to move a runner. Hitting a Sac Fly instead of trying for a HR. Beating the shift. Choking up with 2 strikes and punching the ball into the OF. Hit and run. When was the last time the Dodgers pulled a hit and run with a runner on 1st and the batter tries to punch the ball into RF. Under Alston and Lasorda that happened all the time. Runners going from 1st to 3rd on a hit and run single into RF (or at least to stay out of the double play).
    .
    Expectations are critical. In the money world we call them budgets. But what happens if those expectations (or budgets) are not met? That is what helps to determine how successful of an organization you have. Mark advised his sales manager that his expectations were too low, and Mark’s expectations were much higher. The sales manager did not meet Mark’s expectations and there were consequences. What are the Dodger players consequences? So far none.

    1. AC nailed it, especially the comments about CT3 and Barnes. Why they remained on the 25 man roster is beyond me. Sometimes a player needs a jolt to realize the big leagues is an awesome thing and maybe a change of scenery can be that jolt.

      Staying at the Ritz Carlton in NYC or the Days Inn in Round Rock, TX has a way to sharpen ones attention to detail and just might light that fire to succeed and be the motivation a fringe ML player needs to stay in the bigs!

  2. 1. I have gone from indifferent about Dozier, to love him, to good bye after this year.
    2. I worry that one of our best bats and potentially HOFer Bellinger will continue to struggle with fastballs up in the strike zone or sliders that break into his feet, and that it will be exploited in the Playoffs again.
    3. I think Taylor is a platoon player this year but could bounce back next year.
    4. I want Machado back next year but don’t know where he should play so maybe not. I could live live with Turner at first and Belli in CF until Turner’s contract expires and then get Belli back to 1B. That puts Taylor at 2B. Also, I prefer Manny at 3B but that can work itself out in the preseason.
    6. I would trade Bellinger for Gleyber Torres.
    7. I hope Kemp and Puig are traded before the 2019 season.
    8. I would not re-sign Grandal and instead trade Ruiz, Barnes, and Puig for Realmudo. Smith and Realmudo to be the 2019 catchers.
    9. Doubt that I would try to sign Harper but if Machado signs elsewhere, then why not?
    10. My 2019 lineup:
    .
    2B Torres
    SS Seager
    1B Turner or 3B with Harper instead of Machado
    3B Machado or RF Harper
    C Realmuco
    LF Pederson
    RF Verdugo
    CF Taylor/Toles with Machado or Verdugo with Harper

    1. Bum

      I don’t think it is necessarily a good thing for a hitter to see more pitches, unless the pitcher is wild.

      Because the odds swing to the pitcher, the deeper the count.

      And how many hitters hit better, after they have two strikes, not many.

      The first few pitches are probably the best pitches a hitter will get, so hitters should attack those pitches.

      I bet our hitter’s strike out more often, then pick up walks, when they get in these deep counts.

      But I do think fouling off pitcher’s pitches, when a hitter already has two strikes, is a good thing.

      1. There are players that wind up with a high average for pitches per at-bat because they swing and miss so often. Some gets walks because they swing and miss strikes. If a hitter guesses right he can take advantage of a pitcher that doesn’t try to find the edges of the strike zone with the first pitch.
        .
        With all that said, working the pitch count is valued and usually is accomplished by not swinging at pitchers pitches early in the count, not swinging at balls, fouling off pitchers pitches with two strikes, and after seeing several pitches gets more dialed in.

  3. Expectations and consequences are impacted by guaranteed contracts and by the indicators of success, no?

    Would Mark have been able to change his sales staff if they had guaranteed contracts and he had to pay them even if they didn’t work?

    The Dodgers metrics for success are not financial, those revenue streams seem to be at least marginally impacted by individual performance. It’s long-term sustained success and it’s long term asset appreciation. If that’s right, and I’m probably wrong, there’s a danger in over-interpreting one season. Will players revert to the mean with regard to the FanGraphs “clutch” metrics next year? Is this year just a blip? Will we have to suffer through the maddening peaks and troughs of Grandal again, because his WAR is pretty awesome when it comes to catchers?

    1. You are not wrong. That is one of the issues at work here that cannot be determined NOW. Was last year some players “career years” or is this one just a down year?

      I like Grandal, but he is unlikely to develop the consistency I thought he was capable of. They will offer him the QO and hope he walks.

  4. Last night’s game shows how the team is capable of playing. It helps to face the Madres! Another +10 run differential-hope they saved a few for Kershaw today. I was impressed how the AB’s were better with fewer K’s and some hits with RISP. Hill looked good and the BP did too. HR’s will still come when hitters grind out AB’s because the lineup gets longer and the pitcher has no breaks and sooner or later makes a mistake. As good a hitter as Barry Bonds used to choke up a bit with 2 strikes and so dies Seager-find me another Dodger who is not a pitcher who ever does that? It didn’t seem to hurt Bond’s power too much but even he knew you don’t go for HR’s in every situation.

    So far the Rocks and Snakes have not been tested much. I am not sure the Dodgers can truly test them but this is the time to finally put it all together. Guys are getting healthy and reinforcements are coming soon. Now is the time for the core players to step up and deliver for the team and the fans.

    1. Pederson started the season choking up on the bat and gradually moved his hands down the bat. I wish he would go back to choking up, Bonds and Seager always choke up, not just with two strikes.

  5. Vegas said “As good a hitter as Barry Bonds used to choke up a bit with 2 strikes…”

    THIS!!! Do what Daniel Murphy does!! Put the damn bat on the ball and drive the guy in instead of swinging for the parking lot every time!!!

    1. I agree with Bobby.

      Our hitters getting in deep counts, does not favor our hitters, it favors the pitcher.

      Attack the first few good pitches in the strike zone, because most hitters numbers goes way down, when they are down with two strikes.

      But I agree with Vegas on this,
      if they are down with two strikes, shorten that swing, especially when runners are in scoring position.

  6. Bum, I was ok with your line up until you put Joc in LF. He had a little spark for a while and now he is back to his old ways. He was 1 for 25 the other day before the HR. Our outfield has a lot of mediocre players. None I would want to keep or rely on. I really think Verdugo and Toles should be starters next year and then fill in with a trade. We may have to keep Kemp and I am ok with that. I like Muncey as a DH, but no where else. Our infield is fine, if you move CT to second. FAZ has made a terrible mistake by not bringing up Toles and Verdugo sooner. I guess I do not understand why FAZ kept Verdugo and Toles if he does not believe in contact hitting players.

    1. I’m totally fine with Joc being in the lineup…. in an old timers game 30 years from now.

      But that’s the earliest I’d want to see him in a Dodgers uniform after this year.

    1. SCDodgerFan

      That is why I said if a pitcher is wild, and doesn’t have good command, that is different.

  7. It’s hard to see the dodgers having problems to beat the parents. all the fans are nervous. is incredible

  8. What was Grandal doing. Doesn’t he understand that all he had to do was make contact instead of trying to kill the ball. And Taylor doesn’t look much better. And of course he strikes out swinging wildly.

    Right now I don’t see anything to inspire confidence.

  9. Blown save by the bullpen. Check
    2 for 11 with RISP. Check.
    All runs scored by HR. Check.
    Dodgers lose to last place team?
    Rockies win. Even Giants win. Snakes currently tied with M’s.

  10. Considering consequences, Grandal and Taylor should sit for awhile. This game should be over. It is hard to stay confident and optimistic with this team right now. And Jansen needs to go back on the DL and not come back off until he is more than ready.

  11. Jansen…4 hrs. served up in last 3 ninth innings appearances and DR keeps blowing games trotting him out there. They’d do better with a position player as a closer than Jansen right now or a closer from single or double A farm team than him. It’s inexusable for a pro mlb team!!! Do the Dodgers even care!!

  12. Agree about Kenley. He should have been sent out on a rehab assignment. And that’s probably no longer possible.

    All these guys swing too hard. I guess nobody wants to get a hit, since they probably figure that no one will make contact to move them along or drive them in.

  13. And of course MLB.tv just shutdown and came on with a “commercial break in progress”, leaving me in total darkness as to what happened. Fortunately I was able to switch to the audio feed to find out that there was a power outage.

  14. Power outage, and a bloop hit knocks in the winning run. It was clearly divine intervention. There really is a Great Dodger in the Sky.

  15. Somebody finally had enough b…s to get a clutch hit. Turner of course otherwise we might have gone 20 innings. Now that Grandals one hot month is in the rear view mirror he ought to retire. Him and Barnes are pathetic. Tonight was nearly a must win against the worst team in the league. It is exasperating to witness major leaguers who cannot make contact.

  16. Unbelievable how many Kershaw wins this team can fritter away. Grandal’s AB was an embarrassment. How Chris Taylor is playing ahead of Verdugo and Toles is beyond me. Uncharacteristic error by Machado too.
    ~
    I’m going to say at least Kenley’s pitches were cutting tonight. Ferguson continues to impress.

  17. Turner’s hit was certainly lucky. But that luck was the result of something he did that both Grandal and Taylor failed to do in the 8th inning. He didn’t strike out, but instead made contact, which laid the groundwork for whatever luck ensued. No contact, no luck.

  18. Just got back from my fishing trip and yes the last several games have been rough… I quickly looked at the last couple days comments and a few stuck out… Have Sandy talk to the pitchers about complete games and the team is tanking on purpose to get a player in Sept!??! What in the hell are folks smoking??? CG’s are a thing of the paste and it’s called specialization(?) Top draft picks are limited to 20 inn’s a year for God knows how long and by the time they’re out of HS or College they’re a Tommy John candidate… Set up men and closers are hear to stay!!! I will not legitimize the tanking comments…
    We’ve been spoiled and maybe, maybe just maybe the golden ring is just out of reach this year… I DON’T think so!!!

  19. Has anybody mentioned Kike’s sac bunt??? Clutch!!! If Toles n Verdugo were here we could do alot more of that!!!

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