Player Development is not Always Linear

Pitchers and hitters don’t progress from one stage to another in a straight line. That’s what we would like, because we like predictable.  We like things neatly arranged and sequential, but baseball player development happens so differently… and sometimes, so maddeningly different than what we like, that we are frequently frustrated beyond belief.

This time last year, Striker Buehler, who was then named “Walker” Buehler,  was stinking up the joint with a 7.71 ERA and walked 7.7 batters per 9 innings.  They were forced to change his name to Striker, when he dropped to 2.3 walked batters per 9 innings this season.  That is a true story: Only the names have been changed… blah, blah, blah!

Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger were the anointed ones about this time last year. However, their progress also has not been linear. One step forward and one step back is how much of this year has been for them. I, for one, have confidence in their march and I believe that both will remain/become very good players for a long time, but I get frustrated too.

Max Muncy has traveled a long and winding road. In 2015 and 2016, he had a little over 110 plated appearances each season and then was out of the majors as the Dodgers worked with him in the minors. This year, while he won’t have quite enough plate appearances to officially qualify, only players named Trout, Betts, JD Martinez and Yelich have a better OPS that Max Muncy. Speaking of Mookie Betts, he has taken his game to a new level this year by increasing his OPS by 276 points!

I can go on and on: Trevor Story, Justin Turner, Scooter Gennett, et al… some slowly figured it out and others did it seemingly overnight. That’s why I want to put some things in perspective. These guys aren’t machines and they can have good years, bad years and mediocre years. Sometimes they plateau for a while and then grow on… sometimes they plateau and fall back.

In 2016, the Giants signed Will Smith, who in his previous 4 years of major league service had almost a 5.00 ERA with Milwaukee and KC.  He then had TJ Surgery and missed all of 2017, but now looks to be their closer for a while… unless he is traded… and he could be. Let me digress for a minute.If the Giants can’t beat the Dodgers on the field, maybe they will try and take them at the Front Office.  No, I am not talking about the Giants taking that old dinosaur, Ned Colletti (won’t happen – they are also convinced about the new baseball paradigm). Andrew Friedman is not going anywhere, but Farhan Zaidi could be hired by the Giants to be their President of Baseball Operations.  The Giants need to do a total rebuild, which means trading MadBum, Posey and just about any other asset like Will Smith… and Farhan could be the guy.  It could be a homecoming of sorts for him to return to the other side of the bay.

I have been hard on Dave Roberts this year, but I do have to admit that most of the issues could have been eliminated with better execution by the players.  That they have been poor when hitting with RISP is certainly true… and it frequently doesn’t matter who he rolls out there, Oh, we can blame it on the lineups, but it’s really the players… players who don’t always develop linearly.

Where Do the Dodgers Go From Here?

Let’s just get this over with:  I want Dave Roberts and the Coaching Staff back next year. I am sorry if I doubted you earlier, Doc.I had been a big supporter of Doc’s in his first two years, but soured on him somewhat in 2018.  I believe now that it was unfounded. I think Turner Ward’s work is also not done.

Speaking of Linear Progression: it has not been that way with Joc or Kike or the Wild Horse, but I don’t think anyone would be surprised if one, or all of those guys broke out big time. What about el Gasolino who has become el LightsOuto?

Some think that the Dodger’s front office had no  “Plan.”  No, they had a Plan. Yes!  Oh, it was a bad Plan?  I still like the plan.  It’s just that the plan can’t always be executed for many reasons, most involving the players…and when  teams do not execute plans, the fans want someone executed. I’ll save this for another day…

This season could have another month to go, but if it doesn’t, we will try and figure out why.  In the meantime, the Dodgers are in the playoffs and can still win the division, and while the later is not in their hands, the Rockies will have to most likely beat Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer to win the division.

Last Night’s Win Was a Team Win

  • Ryu is looking more like an Ace, even though he’s the #3 or #4. 1.97 ERA
  • Brian Dozier still isn’t hitting, but took part in 4 of the 5 Dodger double plays.
  • Kike 3-4 hitting leadoff.
  • Turner with just one hit, but it was big!
  • Manny with another big hit,
  • Where would the Dodgers be without Yasmani Grandal, who hasn’t tired this year?
  • Kenley looked confident in closing.
  • That may have been Mad Bum’s last game as a Giant.  His magical run is over.  He’s just another “guy.”
  • This team is built for the Post-Season and now they are there! It would still be nice to win the NL West!

R.I.P. Marty Balin, Co-founder of Jefferson Airplane (Starship), Singer and amazing songwriter.

Maybe this should be the Dodgers Theme Song for the Playoffs:

This article has 130 Comments

  1. I said when Kike pitched batting practice in the 17-inning loss, that
    the way that game was handled, along with one a few weeks previously
    (a returning Walker, unready, took over in the fourth or fifth for a tiring
    and under-prepared Clayton, and the Ds lost) might come back to haunt
    this team the last week of the season.
    And here we are.

    On another note, one of the few things you’re consistent about (fire Doc,
    keep coaches; fire coaches, keep Doc; fire everyone, save for the brilliant FO;
    rehire everyone, and give ’em a big raise!), is that FO mentioned.

    I’m gonna guess that The Rays have spent a dollar for every four/five/six
    on the whole operation the Ds have spent since the drunken sailors showed up.
    Check their record this year, in what many feel is a tougher league, and certainly
    a tougher division. Win totals neck and neck almost every day since July.
    Check the dozen or more defeats this year, when the Ds finally had to exert at
    least some fiscal discipline for the first time.

    Then tell me who the brilliant guys are, with the brilliant plan.

    I’ll say it again: absent any dollar consideration, the FO has done a nice job
    keeping the team a top competitor (as it was before they got here for years).
    Once the real world factor of a billion bucks or so is added, their work has
    been on the poor side of mediocre.

    If you’re bored, do a bang-for-buck study of MLB the last four years for
    all of MLB. Or do one of the cash-strapped Colletti teams versus the
    obscenely cash-rich Friedman ones. Bet you’ll be sobered…:-) Betcha
    these guys have spent $2 or more for every win when the old, not-so-
    great guys spent a buck or less.

    And as reprehensible a fella as McCourt was, please ‘splain to me
    why the Wilpons still own the Mets while McCourt is long gone for
    the Hedge-Plunderers. Wasn’t Selig’s public noise about the great
    worry the Ds would not be competitive? How competitive have the
    Stengels been most years, since greedy Fred bamboozled himself
    in a scheme any fourth-grader coulda told him was too good to be
    true (and wasn’t the Cespedes deal another grand piece of work this year?)

    Enjoy a fascinatin’ last few days, D-fans!!!

    1. There’s a lot of truth there, but it’s hard to compare Soup to Nuts or Speedboats to Locomotives.

      TB did very well this year… they can do that, but can’t sustain it.

    2. Dud – I said at the time that the ridiculous way Roberts threw in the towel was a defining moment in the season.
      Firstly, by using Kike in the 16th, and not the already warm Hill, Roberts set a precedent. The Dodgers were not prepared to win every game, regardless of the cost. This obviously was the message that was transmitted to the players, because subsequently they have played with no energy or urgency, as if tomorrow will do.

      Secondly, that one throw away defeat could be the absolute difference between winning the Division and ending up in the Wild Card game.
      It was an appalling decision then, and looksveven worse now.

    3. I have been a Dodger and Baseball fan for over 50 years. Just like in life you cannot spend all of your time looking back, it will make you crazy.
      Where are the Dodgers NOW. And how are they set up for the next 5 years?
      Well they are in some type of playoff at the end of the year which is the goal after that it is talent and Luck. The Giants were not the bet team in the Majors in many peoples opinions when they won two of their recent championships. It takes getting hot at the right time and some true luck
      This year they a bad mix of bad luck and poor planning in pitching. But for the next two years they have Buehler and Urias to start with Wood, Maeda, Hill and others like Caleb Ferguson in the wings. If I were them I would re-sign Ryu. And if he opts out I would not sign Kershaw, his loss of velocity is very troubling.
      But that rotation is cost controlled for several years.
      We have Puig, Pederson, Verdugo and Bellinger? In the outfield with Seager, Turner, Muncy (?), Kike, and Taylor
      They may sign Grandal or let him go and wait for Smith and Ruiz but I bet they sign Grandal.
      There are several young arms on the Farm. This team will be in contention and make piles of money for Guggenheim in the near future.
      And we will contend that is all you can ask for.

  2. Moving Stripling back in the rotation has bit the Dodgers in the ass. We better hope that he doesn’t wind up starting a meaningful game in all of these tiebreaker scenarios.

      1. Either it was the injury and if so why stick him back in there? Or reality hit him and he’s truly a #5 starter who was pitching over his head. He nibbles at the corners and when he’s missing and has to come in over the plate he gets lit up. Wood had a few bad starts this year. Cincy and Oakland(after food poisoning). Let’s hope the next two games go our way because I don’t want to see Stripling on the mound Tuesday in a big game.

  3. One player that was available last winter but many considered him to be too average and not worthy of giving up Alex Verdugo, and had a meteoric rise this year, is Christian Yelich. Local OF that would have cost Verdugo and others to be sure, but then while Verdugo was playing a second year in OKC, Yelich was putting together a MVP season in Milwaukee. Yelich has an AAV of $7.081MM. There would not have been a luxury tax concern, and they would have had Yelich under contract for 4 years with an option for a 5th. The Brewers gave up Lewis Brinson (OF) who had a miserable year this year for Miami, and Monte Harrison (OF), Isan Diaz (2B), and Jordan Yamamoto (RHP). Brinson is 2 years older than Verdugo. My guess is that FAZ could have whet the Marlins appetite with Verdugo, Diaz, Estevez, and Alvarez. With Yelich being LH, Miami may have taken Joc instead of Diaz. This is not hind sight. I said the same thing last winter, and I still believe the Dodgers could have made that trade. Instead Verdugo still waits for a chance that may not come with the Dodgers, Diaz was included in a trade for a rental, Estevez spent his 2nd year at RC and Alvarez went backwards. But then again, maybe Doc platoons Yelich with Kemp instead of just letting Yelich play.
    Sure, the Dodgers would not have been able to get Machado without Diaz. Oh well. They still would have had Dean Kremer and Zach Pop and Rylan Bannon.
    I still believe the Dodgers could have traded for one of two players last year that would have given them home field advantage in the NL playoffs…Christian Yelich and Gerrit Cole. They could not have traded for both, but they could have put together a package for one of the two. Okay they could have traded for both, but they would not have. Cole would have been under contract for two years (both arbitration). His AAV in 2018 was $6.75MM, also not a luxury tax threshold breaker. But instead FAZ went for Scott Alexander believing that Alexander, Yimi Garcia, and Tony Cingrani would be more than enough to form a bridge to Jansen. How did that and 26 blown saves work out? I do not count Kemp because that was strictly for luxury tax purposes. FAZ admitted that they wanted to move Kemp again.
    If the Giants want Zaidi, I will not shed a tear, or have one sleepless night wondering how the Dodgers can move forward without him. The Dodgers would be better served without having a yes man for Friedman. Someone needs to challenge his thought process. Someone who has true scouting capabilities.
    I have no doubt that Doc Roberts will be back. He would not be my preference. Does the team really need a third yes man? Is the team really better with Bellinger platooning? What other manager would platoon Bellinger? Is he going to platoon Seager next year? His lineup worked last night because the one pure hitter on the team got the big hit. Without JT, the Dodgers probably lose it in the 16th with Kike’ on the mound. What other manager would have Dozier in over Puig and Bellinger? Quite honestly, I would rather have Bob Geren as the manager. Of course, I was a fan of Geren when he was the Sacramento River Cats manager in 2000-2002.
    Good for Kike’ having another great night against MadBum. While it should have been MadBum’s last game as a Giant, I am not sure that the Giants have the brain power to deduce that. It is time for a tear down for them, but they will probably have the mentality that they have another year in the hunt with their nucleus.
    Today is a big game for Kershaw. Can he win a must win game? Joc will be leading off again today and maybe he will break Lopes’ record for most leadoff jacks in a season. The Cardinals will be going with their best pitchers the next two games against the Cubs (Mikolas and Flaherty), so Kershaw’s game today is huge so that the Dodgers can go into the WC with Buehler and not Hill.
    Mark, I am glad you are back. It is so much easier to respond than to create.

    1. AC

      I remember well, when you brought up Yelich in the off season.

      And he is what a lead off hitter should be, although he could hit almost anywhere at the top of a line up.

      Because he is a complete player that hits both lefties and righties evenly, unlike a lot of players on our roster.

      And I agree whole heartedly with you about Zaidi, as well!

      I don’t like that we look like a team and line up, patterned off the A’s.

      Because the Dodgers have so many more resources to use, to have an even better roster of players, then the A’s.

      And I believe lack of balance in our line up has been the reason our offense has not been consistent, all year.

      And I think much of this platooning comes straight from front office first and foremost, especially our GM, who learned the ropes under Billy Beane.

      I wasn’t concerned at all with Ryu last night, but I am concerned more with some of the guys in our pen, in this series.

      Because I think the Dodgers had it easy last night, when it comes to the fans in SF.

      We didn’t hear even one shout of Beat LA, last night.

      And if these other fans in the next couple games do the usual most Giant fans do in SF, I am concerned how some of the guys in our pen, will hold up.

    2. As Don Ohlmeyer once said, “The answer to every one of your questions is money.”

      They couldn’t have made the Yelich deal once the Kemp money laundering was done. If they had financial flexibility, I still think Stanton would be here and not the Bronx.

      But there were financial constraints, by all evidence.

      If the Giants want Zaidi, good for him. It’ll look good on the Dodgers with Alex A and Zaidi in high demand, shows how vital accumulating talent and skill on and off the field is.

  4. I am rooting for us to win the division, as the Brewers are scalding hot right now. But, it is what it is. I know some of you guys are still pissed about the one game Kike pitched, but that game didn’t screw us, losing two out of three to the Mets, getting our asses handed to us all season by the Reds, those are the ones that hurt.

  5. Per MLB TradeRumors: “Though the season has been a disastrous one for the Rangers, the club is seeing some encouraging signs out of some young relievers late in the year, writes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Jose Leclerc has been one of the best relievers on the planet over the past few months, allowing just two runs in a span of 32 2/3 innings dating back to June 20. In that time, the once-erratic Leclerc has turned in a phenomenal 51-to-11 K/BB ratio and allowed a mere 10 hits. ” Let’ s see. Jose Leclerc or John Axford and Zac Rosscup. Hmmm.

  6. I think we should save the “should have/could have” stuff for the offseason (whether that’s next week or next month). If we wind up losing a wild card play-in game or the wild card game itself, everyone here, justifiably so, will go thru every blown loss and figure out the “turning point” of our horrible season. I still remember Kenley’s 3 run blown save in April at AZ. But whatever. For now, I want to get in and see what we can do. If Colorado somehow gets swept in LA, but then goes on to win 10 in a row, what can we do??? Hell, if we win out in SF, we’d have gone 6-3 in that same span, which is a great record. Nothing we can do about them getting insanely hot.

    For today, we have the Cards at 10am, Dodgers at 1pm, Braves at 4pm, and Rockies at 5pm. (Oh, and Fresno State vs Toledo at 7:30pm on ESPNU)
    Tomorrow is fantastic; every single game in MLB starts at 12pm PST . Talk about potential scoreboard watching!!

  7. OK, I know Adam is lurking, so I’ll speak up… I’m confident as usual!!! I’m glad someone brought up the Classic line ” It ain’t over till it’s over “… Besides, I haven’t heard Dandy Don warming up the pipes… Great call on Doc and staff back by M.T.
    Players play and managers manage…

  8. I see that Madison Bumgarner (Hudson, NC) grew up 90 miles from the Seager brothers (Concord, NC) in NC. Kyle graduated HS 1 year before MadBum. I wonder if they ever played against each other. I know of a ton of guys that played with and against each other in the SF Valley. NC is a good baseball state, so maybe Bumgarner and Kyle Seager faced each other in some game (LL, Winter League, Summer Baseball, HS). Just curious. I know one winter my son played on the same team as Jeff Suppan and Randy Wolf in West Hills. Supp pitched 3 innings and my son was catcher and then the roles were reversed for the next 3 innings. Randy was more of a soccer player at the time and played CF. Just feeling nostalgic.

  9. Agree Rudy. Roberts proved that last year in the world series and throughout the season. How does Dozier start or even play at this point of the season? Over Bellinger, Muncy, Puig, Taylor or even Verdugo. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bellinger and his agent doesn’t go to management in the off season and find out if the Dodger front office wants to continue to restrict Bellinger’s playing time. If so, then I would expect him to ask for a trade. How does a rookie of the year winner not play everyday the next year? Sure his power numbers are down, but the inconsistent playing opportunities could have some to do with that. Regardless, he has improved as a overall hitter and with his gold glove abilities in the field it’s ridiculous that he doesn’t play everyday. Same with Muncy. I know his defensive limitations are an issue, but his bat more than makes up for it.
    Here’s hoping this weekend the players excel so to limit Roberts opportunities to make another head scratching and incomprehensible decision that reduces the Dodger’s chances of getting into the playoffs.

  10. Roberts has done nothing, Tommy L had that one right. With the talent on this team any decent manager would have
    this team 10 games up. His lineups are horrid, his bullpen mismanagement is pathetic, his in-game strategy is consistently lacking, his seemingly calm demeanor screams for some sense of passion or urgency, OH, but he communicates real well. Great, repeat that one when he loses to Milwaukee if they even get that far.
    He’ll probably be back, but not sure I can watch his brand of Dodger entertainment – its lifeless, and very boring.

  11. Mark, you were more right than wrong when you were calling for Roberts job. I am not talking about the lineups, I do believe the lineups are a combination of FAZ, and Roberts, and whatever Faz suggest I think Roberts being the perfect yes man is agreeing to.
    My problem with Roberts is the way he handles the game once it starts, hitting or not hitting with men on base is not my issue with Roberts, not sending men in those situations to either bunt, hit to the opposite field, or just try for a sacrifice fly instead of swinging for the fences like any other at-bat is my problem with Roberts. How he handles both the starters and the bullpen is my problem with Roberts. When players are hot they should be playing every day, and if FAZ pays little attention to that Roberts should be screaming for the player or players to be in the lineup, but I think he goes along with what ever FAZ says. I’m still blaming him for the slow start at the start of the season for how he ran ST. The Dodgers win in spite of his managing not because of it.

  12. OK, I am going to play Devil’s Advocate here… because everyone agrees that Roberts is the Devil.

    Therefore, I must assume that when Roberts has one or nine lineup blunders, that’s the reason they can’t hit with RISP?

    What? Almost all of them can’t hit with RISP? That’s Doc’s fault for putting the wrong guys there?

    I think the manager makes a difference, but I have watched 71 games lost by the Dodgers and it was Roberts fault because he had the wrong lineup?

    Damn, last years team must have been a 135 win team for him to only get 104 wins out of them?

    Does the fact the Dodgers have a great lockerroom mean anything?

    By the way, there’s a lot to read on the subject if you Google “How many wins is a good manager worth a season?” Most people think it is 5 or 6, but nearly EVERY loss this year has been Doc’s fault?

    BTW, I loved Tommy and still do, but of any Dodger manager who has managed at least 480 games, Dave Roberts has the best winning percentage.

    So, choose your narrative wisely:
    (1) Did FAZ give him a bad team?;
    (2) Is he a bad Manager?
    (3) Something else.

    Careful how you answer!

    1. It’s nice that Grandal has had a few nice games as of late, but hitting your worst clutch hitter on the team 5th for most of the year, tends to kill a lot of rallies. Yes, it’s not all on Yasmani, but he belongs in the 7-hole and it shouldn’t have taken him 3 years to figure that out.

    2. 4. Losing the world series gutted the team and shook them to the foundation. We got off to a rocky start and began pressing. Truthfully, we’re fortunate to be where we are. Tough season all the way around. Look at Washington’s talent. Sometimes it just doesn’t all come together.

  13. I’ll give you my answer:

    The Dodgers have given up the least amount of runs in the NL and scored the most. By all accounts, they should have about 95 wins. But with RISP, they are the worst in baseball – That can’t be on Doc. It’s execution!

  14. I’m not so sure Dozier did anything spectacular on defense last night. There were 5 routine double play balls and Dozier made the play. He didn’t make any spectacular diving stops to save run. He made a play any 2b would make. Good for him for making the play, but I’m pretty sure CT3, or Kike or Utley would have made those plays as well. Would Muncy at 2b have made those? Not so sure on that one.

  15. Since Roberts is locked on batting Muncy/Freese third I will say that I like today’s lineup despite not liking dropping Machado to 4th. I hope I don’t see another game end with Machado on deck and Muncy striking out representing the tying run. He’s determined to go L/R/L/R all the way through the lineup so with that in mind I’m happy to see Puig/Grandal/Kike hitting 6-7-8.

    1. Hawkeye

      I think having Muncy bat first, might be better then batting third, because Muncy might try to do to much, hitting third.

      1. I kind of liked Muncy hitting leadoff too, but Doc is hell bent on Joc hitting leadoff so let’s hope for dinger number 7. Neither can really steal a base.

        1. Hawkeye

          Yes Muncy is not my idea, of a traditional lead off hitter either.

          But he does a good job getting on base.

          And he has good at bats most of the time, and that is something you want from a lead off hitter, especially the part, about getting on base.

          And lead off hitters do get good pitches to hit, so I am not surprised, about the HRs.

  16. Mark:
    Newsflash, they can hit with RISP despite the stats. FAZ and Roberts don’t think its important, so it is not emphasized.
    The philosophy is win or loose with the long ball.
    Move some of these guys to other teams and watch them hit with RISP if that is emphasized.
    Management doesn’t care so therefore why should the players.
    The lackluster play is a result of Roberts living in the doldrums and thinking all will be well, our talent will prevail in the end – Roberts forgot to tell that to Colorado.

    1. You don’t really believe this do you?
      FAZ and Roberts don’t think its important.

      I mean, we can make up straw men, but these are smart guys who know the value of moving the runner and a productive out.

  17. A.C.
    If Bellinger isn’t on first, I prefer him in CF…
    I have little use for Dozier, but he’s here…
    The Fence post, I keep my fingers crossed…
    M.T. Can’t win can we…

  18. Since AC brought up Davey Lopes, I thought I would put up his numbers in 1979, when he hit the most HRs, in his career.

    In 1979 Lopes hit 28 HRs, and he had 73 RBIs, and scored 109 runs, and his OBP was 372.

    And as everyone knows, Lopes was not a power hitter.

  19. So much for our Ace. That’s probably Doc’s fault too.

    It’s the same ole’ story, everywhere I go, I get slandered, liebeled, I hear words I never heard in the Bible…

  20. If the Dodgers don’t make the playoffs or even if they do… in spite of Clayton, how can he opt out and how can they justify an extension? This could be a tipping point…

  21. What makes this worse is the anemic lineup that Kershaw is facing. His pitch count is also up, so unless he suddenly gets very efficient he’s probably not going very far into this game.

    Need the offense to step up.

  22. Well, that got CK’s pitch count back in order. Still want to see a Dodgers offensive explosion.

      1. Bobby

        That is what I was thinking when Brooklyn was talking about Kershaw’s pitch count, but then he hit those two runs in, to put us ahead.

        But you know I feel much like you, when it comes to Kershaw.

  23. Love me some Kershaw but what has been his defining moment when the team needs him most? I know there are some but every time you think he needs to come through in a clutch he shrinks on the big stage. I want him to be a Dodger for life but if the FO does anything more than add 2 years to the current contract they’re foolish.

    If Kershaw wants more $$ AAV than currently on the table, he’s dreaming.

    1. Clayton has deserved some of his postseason criticism but year in and year out he’s come through down the stretch in the regular season. Mattingly used to re-set the rotation so Clayton could be on the bump against the Giants for critical games. Today is the first time during a regular season stretch run I’ve seen him not come through.

  24. Mark:

    From above:
    Yes I do believe that. No hitting the other way, no sacrifices, no hitting behind the runner, no chocking up on the bat with two strikes, no reducing the “swing for the fences” at bat with two strikes, no hit and run, no stealing bases. All those contributes to getting runners on third where all you need is a fly ball – it is not emphasized in the Dodger organization with FAZ, and if a team does those things hitting with RISP improves.

    1. Case in point. Runners on 1st and 3rd nobody out, and Doc PH Taylor for Joc. Right on cue, CT3 K’s. Yeah, CT3 was the hitter, but if you were manager would you put the batter with the most K’s on the team in that situation. Most K’s by a wide margin. It is the manager’s responsibility to read the situation and put the team in the right position to win. How many would have put Taylor in that role…coming off the bench?

          1. But if the metric is hit HR’s to score, without emphasizing all the other ways to score, they are OK with that by default.

    2. OK. Here’s proof from The Atlantic (yesterday) that the Dodgers do focus a lot of their BP on that. If they don’t believe in it, why focus?

      Under​ hitting coach Turner Ward, the Dodgers have focused the​ first of​ their​ four rounds​ of​​ batting practice on controlling their bat barrels and driving the ball. The second is for situational hitting. Ward shouts out scenarios, and hitters try to produce a productive out given the constraints. The hope is it trains them to think in the same way when the situation arises four or five hours later.

      In that goal, Ward’s lieutenant is Justin Turner, the Dodgers’ No. 2-hitting third baseman.

      “Turner,” he always says, “whatcha got for me?”

      Runner on third, one out, Ward will say, and Turner will lift a ball into the outfield. Runner on second, no one out, the coach will say, and Turner will poke something toward the right side.

      “He’s the No. 1 guy,” Ward said. “You’d think it’d be some rookie asking me what I want them to do. Kiké (Hernández) has learned to become that way. Chase (Utley) is like that. But JT, he takes everything to the next level.”

      The last month serves as one more example. As the Dodgers attempt to salvage a disappointing regular season, Turner has focused his batting practice exclusively on imagined scenarios. He goes through four nightly rounds with Ward calling his shots.

      “Just putting yourself in situations,” Turner said, “so that when you get in that situation in the game, you’ve already done it so many times that there is no added pressure.”

      The fruits of his labor are everywhere. On Sept. 17, the Dodgers played their first of three key games against the first-place Rockies. With the Dodgers ahead by two in the third inning, Turner faced Jon Gray with Joc Pederson on second and none out. Manny Machado loomed on deck, and Turner reasoned that Machado could manage the final 90 feet. His goal became to get Pederson to third base.

      “You literally see him open up his swing, do everything he could, just to move the guy over,” Ward said. “He ended up getting a hit out of it, but his whole approach in that AB was just to get the guy over.”

      It’s preposterous to think they don’t believe in it when they teach it. Maybe they are not good teachers, but the execution is often lacking.

      1. The Dodgers are 25th in hitting w RISP and they have been poor at that for years. Years! Not sure how long T. Ward has been doing his thing, but the results are pretty poor.
        When ZF said earlier they were in a slump because they weren’t hitting HR’s that also is what they teach, and fairly telling on what the front office thinks.

  25. Batting CT(Strike3) there instead of Freese is absolutely Insane! You need a contact hitter up in that situation, not the guy with the most strikeouts on the team.

    1. Agree. I’m so sick of watching him K when they need co tact. I’m not one to yell fora bunt but I would have like one there when I saw who was hitting.

      1. Totally agree… if they insist on bringing him into the game in a situation like that again, I hope they have him bunt next time.

      1. Ha! It was pretty easy to guess that. I wish FAZ and Doc would read this blog and take notes, the team would have a least three more wins right now ;- )

  26. Freeze would have been the perfect hitter in the inning before, because he is not afraid to go the other way.

  27. Everyone is correct, Freeze would have been a smarter decision at the time to bat instead of CT3. I personally was thinking Matt Kemp. Either way, Tommy Lasorda would’ve been a better choice to hit than CT3.
    Now hopefully Chris makes up for it with his next at bat coming up this inning.

  28. A roller coaster to say the least…
    Maybe we can ask CK to become our new(er) 2019 set up man??? All I know is, he killed me today…Let me see, we’ve covered CT, Roberts, F.O. etc…. I’m blaming Colletti, fake news and Obama!!!

    1. Pete – t was also thinking he’d make s great 8th inning guy, but think he’d be a bit expensive tbh.

  29. I know we criticize Grandal for his passed balls and inability to hold on to throws from outfielders, but man, what a great hustle play he made there on Longoria ball. We may have gotten lucky there, but it was all Grandal’s hustle.

  30. When Taylor pinch it for Pederson he was going to replace him in LF. Using Freese at that point would have used up an extra player. And that’s why Freese was available to pinch hit when he did. Not Docs fault that he lined out. That was just bad luck.

    Would like the Dodgers to tack on in the top of the 9th. Not totally confident in Kenley, who’s no longer as lights out as he used to be.

  31. OK, safe to say CT3 has made up for that k. I’ve always liked him up there in those pressure spots!!

    What a huge insurance run!

  32. Maybe getting Taylor into the game was a good play?
    Grandal’s stats are great, definitely top 4 offensively and phenomenal with framing. But his maddening inconsistency cannot be overlooked, IMO.

    1. I like CT… think he adds a lot of value to the team, especially as a defensive replacement later in games.

      But I’d rather have a contact hitter like Freese or Verdugo bat in that spot in the 6th inning 10 times out of 10.

  33. So Colorado has Strasburg and most likely Scherzer coming up. If they beat those 2, and wind up winning 10 in a row to end the year, much respect to them. They’ll deserve the NL West

  34. Lovin Spoonful
    Do you believe in Magic
    We live to play another day…
    Giant fans scattering like cockroaches…

  35. The pitching decisions will be important, but Roberts said what happens in the Rockies game tonight, might change who is starting tomorrow.

  36. Yeah, as far as tomorrow: if Col can somehow lose a damn game tonight, then we need to prepare for a Sunday game, a Monday game, and then a possible Monday night flight to Chi/Mil and play a Tuesday game. And I’d think the pitchers would in some order will be Hill, Buehler, and Strip. If that’s the case, I go Strip tomorrow because I don’t want him in a must win game. I go Hill Monday at home, because if we’re in Monday game, it also isn’t a must win. Tuesday would be the must win, and I use Buehler for that.

    1. … or if the Rocks lose tonight, win out and hope they lose – the West would belong to the Dodgers.

  37. I’ve been reading on ESPN and MLB that if the Dodgers are tied or a game out by tomorrow, Sherzer is gonna go. Any truth to that? Keeping my fingers crossed!

    1. They’ve announced that Scherzer will go tomorrow. We got Strasburg and Scherzer on our side the next 24 hours!

  38. This is from MLB Trade Rumors about Phillies’ manager Gabe Kapler but could be about Dave Roberts:
    “Phillies manager Gabe Kapler, a polarizing figure long before his managerial debut this season, faces questions surrounding whether or not prospective free agents will play for him, writes Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Kapler’s innovative style – which attaches the shortest of leashes to most starting pitchers, relies heavily on day-to-day matchups, and is subject to change at the most unconventional of times (Kapler removed Scott Kingery for a pinch-runner in the second inning of a mid-September clash against the Marlins) – has drawn the ire of players and fans alike…”

    1. I think I remember his being booed in the first game. They have money to spend. They fookin’ death spiralled. Enron stock. Interesting situation as you say. The washington guy (Davey Martinez had a rough year too) had a rough year too.

    2. Roberts is polarizing NOWHERE except for on a few blogs by silly fans.
      Most fans appreciate him, so does nearly every player.

  39. It’s gonna put things for the division back in the hands of Dodgers. It was too close for comfort Dodgers! Don’t let it slip through your fingers! Win the final game of the season and we might just get through without playing a tiebreaker.

  40. I have stated on numerous occasions that I believed the problem with the team this year was three pronged; FAZ, Doc, and the players. FAZ constructed a team that focuses on HR rather than run production. It doesn’t matter if they practice it. They are not bat to ball type players. When was the last hit and run we saw. I remember in July when they were playing well when Kike’ and others bunted with runners on third and less than 2 outs. With game run differential of 4 or less they are below .500. When the team was playing poorly in April and May, it was the GM who identified the problem as not enough HR’s. It wasn’t too many strikeouts. It wasn’t the inability to moving the runners up and in scoring position with less than 2 outs. No the problem was not enough HR’s.
    The team lost two key relievers from down the stretch in 2017, Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. The FAZ response was Scott Alexander, and then at the trade deadline Zac Rosscup and John Axford.
    I give FAZ tremendous credit for getting the Dodgers below the luxury tax threshold. They also get great credit for stepping up and trading for Manny Machado. I think we all wish that he was more productive as a Dodger, but the trade was well thought out.
    Dave Roberts is still learning, but we should not just ignore his mistakes. He continues to make the same mistakes instead of learning from them. I had no objection to CT3 coming into the game today, but just not in the situation that he was asked. The situation called for bat to ball skills, something CT3 does not have. Just make contact, and no hitter has failed to make contact more than CT3. His other opportunities were not the same critical timing. I am glad that he went 2-3. He is having a very good September which bodes well for the playoffs. But if the score is tied, or the team needs a tying run, and there is a runner on 3rd with less than 2 outs, CT3 should not be the guy you look for.
    Ultimately the lack of production does lie with the player. The player has to look within themselves to know to go the other way when the pitch is away, to choke up with two strikes, make sure you make contact with a runner on third and less than 2 outs.
    There is a reason that the team is at least 13 games behind last year. I think all three components, FAZ, Doc, and the players need to look in the mirror.
    But there is still 1 game to play, and the Dodgers are in a good position to walk away with the NL West Division crown. Let’s hope all the right buttons are pushed for a win.

    1. Agree 100%.
      The Dodgers are what they are on the field of play. They can talk and practice all they want, but it needs to translate to on the field differences including Roberts decisions.

  41. Damn Mark, welcome back!! Just in time for the last day of the season, how cool is that? Got your boy Striker going, with Mad Max teeing it up against the RockShow. Good timing brother! Bring your lucky rabbits foot!

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