OK, let’s get a bunch of things straight!
Not a bad finish for a team that “was just trying to get under the luxury tax.” Yep, I heard that all year. It wasn’t about winning, it was only about Tax Evasion. Evidently, FAZ wasn’t too bad for guys who don’t care about winning. But, I do and it was a bitter end to a tumultous season.The Dodgers were beaten by a team who won every playoff series by allowing their opponents to win only one game. The Yankees, Astros and Dodgers won a combined three games to Boston’s eleven games. Obviously the best team won. The sting is still there. Once again, the Dodgers are the second best team in baseball. That’s not good enough and I think FAZ will push the envelope to get back to the World Series a third straight time.
They aren’t going away and the Astros, Dodgers, Yankees and Red Sox are at the forefront of the revolution. Andrew Friedman IS a baseball guy, so if Farhan Zaidi, and they are surrounded byLong-Time Baseball Guyslike David Finley, Ismael Cruz, Galen Carr, Bill Gasparino, Josh Byrnes, Brandon Gomes, Gerry Hunsicker, Pat Corrales, Jose Vizcaino, Ralph Avila, and Raul Ibanez, who has turned down interviewes for other managment and front office positions – he is rising rapidly in the Dodger organization.
These are “baseball guys” who also use analytics. Many of you think they are fine with strikeouts and unproductive outs. That’s just plain silly. Of course, they are not. If you truly believe all of that baseball front office accumen is fine with that, well… I am sure there is a straight jacket in your size. The Dodgers just have too many “all-or-nothing” players:
- I believe some will improve(Chris Taylor, Kike Hernandez and Cody Bellinger, all of whom I believe will evolve and improve – none are far away)
- Some will move on as free agents(Yasmani Grandal, Brian Dozier, Manny Machado)
- Some may be traded(Joc Pederson, maybe Puig and sadly, Matt Kemp, if there is a buyer and there may not be one, the DH may come to the NL and that would help him)
The Dodgers have shown they aren’t afraid of change as half the 2018 roster was changed from 2017. Look for much of the same in 2019. The Dodgers will have to make room for Alex Verdugo, whom they have been loathe to trade. I think he’s the next leadoff hitter. He’s a right-fielder who can play center in a pinch and can play LF as well, but his arm is wasted there. I don’t know if Max Muncy is sustainable. I am not saying he’s not, but I have to wonder. I think if he went to the guy Kemp did last off-season and then worked on his footwork, he could play 2B!
They will probably re-sign David Freese, but he will be 36 and is not a starter. He’s a role-player and a great guy to have on the team. Corey Seager will be back and hopefully healthy, but should the Dodegrs hedge their bets? Gavin Lux and Kaybear Ruiz could be ready at some time next year, but I don’t think you can count on it. There are a lot of moving parts and dominos to fall.
I have been hot and cold on Dave Roberts, but I am fine with him staying. He made his share of mistakes as did Cora, but Cora’s players bailed him out. Doc had no such luck. There is one so-called mistake that I do not believe was a mistake, and I heard a little more about it (actually a lot more) yesterday. In the top of the sixth inning of the 4th game, Rich Hill spontaneouly sought out Dave Roberts and said something like: “Keep an close eye on me. I’m going to give it all that I have left.” What is interesting is that Rich Hill had never said something like that in the past to Dave Roberts. Now, you can say “Well, Roberts should have asked him to clairfy what he meant.”PLEASE!In the middle of a pressure packed game, manageing 25 players and all the situations, you don’t engage in small talk. Hill said something to Roberts for 20-30 seconds and Doc said OK and Hill walked away.
In the next inning, after a walk and a strikeout, Dave Roberts went to the mound with the sole purpose of “Keeping a close eye” on Hill, because Hill had never said that in the past. We all have seen the video: Rich Hill handed the ball to Doc and walked off. Both parties were wrong in what they assumed. Roberts thought Hill was saying “I’m done” and Hill thought Roberts was there to take him out because he never came out for anything else in the past. However, Rich Hill had NEVER said “Keep a close eye on me...” on the past. I put ZERO BLAME for that on Roberts and very little on Hill. You don’t have to attach blame to everything. Sometimes stuff just happens, but if it makes you feel better, blame Doc. Rich Hill should have said it differently if he did not want to come out. I can see why he brought Alexander in, but not Madson. That was a big mistake… obviously. There plenty of mistakes that Doc made… you don’t have to manufacture them! Finally, Hill is capable of coughing up the lead… no matter how well he was pitching. In light of the context, Doc did what he felt he was forced to do.
David Price and Clayton Kershaw
Clayton Kershaw will most likely opt out of his deal, unless a last-minute agrement surfaces. If the Dodgers give him a $200 million dollar deal, they are competing only with themselves. Adding $50 to $60 million to his existing contract for two more years would be reasonable. I think Clayton wants to stay… but you never know. If he goes to Texas, he will retire with an ERA above 3.00.
Why do I mention David Price? In 2016, he had a 3.99 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP. In 2017, he missed major time and only pitched 74 innings with a 3.38 ERA. This season he started slowly and had 3.58 ERA. His post-season ERA is still 4.62 but he pitched in three games this World Series ansd won 2 with a 1.98 ERA. He’s almost 3 years older than Clayton and he turned it around… so there is still hope for Clayton. Luck plays a part. Kershaw is 9-10 with a 4.2 ERA in the Post-Season, but his WHIP Is 1.09. David Price has a 1.20 WHIP in the Post-Season.
There are three questions:
- How bad is Clayton Hurt? Back, arm, hip?
- Can he get healthy?
- Can he re-invent himself like Greg Maddux and come up with a changeup?
If he can get healthy and re-invent himself, he can pitch another 4 to 6 years…. very effectively, but he has to change. It’s a possibility that he could be too stubborn. I don’t know… If Clayton changes his approach, he could have another Cy Young or two left in his arm. I truly believe that! He just has to evolve.
Joe Kelly & Nathan Eovaldi
Everyone wants Joe Kelly. That 100 MPH fastball and all his great stuff is amazing… Here’s the problem:Which Joe Kelly will you get? The Joe Kelly of 2015 with an ERA of 4.82? The Joe Kelley of 2016 with an ERA of 5.18? The Joe Kelly of 2017 with an ERA of 2.79, the Joe Kelly of 2018 with a 4.39 ERA or the 2018 World Series Joe Kelly with a 0.00 ERA and a 0.67 WHIP? Relievers are fickle. Someone will gve him a big deal… probably… and maybe he will be Smokin’ Joe the rest of his career… or he could be Joe Smoked.
On the other hand, Nathan Eovaldi is the real deal, with his cutter and new fastball grip. He’s in line for a $100 million dollar deal. He may be worth it… He would be a great starter or awesome closer, but at that kind of money, you have to pay him as a starter. If Kershaw leaves, then I would make a run at him. At 28, he’s worth the risk, even though he’s had two Tommy Johns’ – he should be good for 4 to 5 more years.
The Dodgers have a lot of young pitchers in the minors who could help NEXT SEASON:
- Dennis Santana– Missed a lot of the season and doesn’t have enough pitches to start, but could be effective in relief.
- Caleb Ferguson– See Santana.
- Mitch White– Outside chance he could pitch in the pen, but he has a lot of pitches – he just can’t command them all. Maybe if he just focused on two in the pen…
- Tony Gonsolin– I see him as a starter, but he could pitch for a year out of the bullpen.
- Marshall Kasowski– Strictly born to be reliever… and I think a good one.
- Jensen Therrien– He’s working with that “Rat” Eric Gagne and allegedly has filthy, if not overpowering, stuff.
- Yadier Alvarez and Yasiel Sierra– Expect nothing and you won’t be disappointed… but what talent!
- Watched too many called 3rdstrikes. Indecision may or may not be part of the Dodger hitters problems. It’s hard to be patient and aggressive at the same time. Is Turner Ward part of the solution or part of the problem?
- In the playoffs, more than ever, teams pitched the Dodgers up in the zone and that produced a lot of fly balls and pop-up due to the improper launch angle.
- The Red Sox had two of the Top Offensive Players in the game in Betts and Martinez and the Dodgers pretty well shut them down, but as I said before, who would have thought trading for Steve Pearce whould have been better than trading for Manny Machado?
- Sometimes it’s just who get hot… when – Kelly, Eovaldi, Price, Porcello, Pierce, Rodriguez! Sometimes it’s just luck… or call, it whatever.
Arizona Fall League
- Kaybear Ruiz is hitting .316 in the AFL, with a .396 OB%. Maybe his development is accelerating.
- Jordan Sheffield is smoking hot as a reliever 5 IP/2 H/0.00 ERA.
What Happens Next
If you subscribe to The Athletic, then you already know about their amazing content, and if you don’t, then here’s an exerpt of what you are missing. I can’t say it any better thanPedro Moura of The Athletic:
As his Dodgers have come a collective 10 wins short of a dynasty in his three years on the job, Dave Roberts has proven he can reason in real time better than most major league managers. He has served as an ideal spokesman for the organization: thoughtful, cheerful and measured in his remarks. Players have repeatedly responded to his persistent positivity.
But the 2018 World Series could break anyone. Presented with the toughest of competition, Roberts deployed his bullpen in debatable fashion and attracted the metropolitan area’s ire. In the minutes before Sunday’s fifth and final game, he received hearty boos from the home fans. Hours earlier, one of his veteran players requested a meeting with him, seeking to clarify the previous night’s events.
Rich Hill had told Roberts during Game 4’s sixth inning to keep an eye on him, to monitor him batter by batter as he attempted to hold a four-run lead in the seventh inning. Roberts had treated that information as an alarm, as anyone in his shoes would, and replaced Hill earlier than fans wanted — earlier, too, than he wanted, it seems clear.
After the decision blew up and the victorious Boston Red Sox thrashed every reliever he tried, Roberts chose to disclose the details of his discussion with Hill during his postgame press conference, alleviating some of the blame accumulating on him. Had he not, the context of their conversation would never have become public. Hill would never have felt his competitiveness impugned.
Closer Kenley Jansen said the widespread criticism of Roberts this series was unfair, noting he could have re-structured the narrative by pitching better when called upon in relief of Hill. Third baseman Justin Turner said it was “stupid” to question whether the team wanted Roberts back.
Outside, he saw Kershaw. The two men embraced and shared a few words. Roberts pounded his ace’s chest in appreciation and walked away. There is a good chance the two will reunite for the future in pursuit of redemption. There is also a chance that Game 5 was it. And it was not much. Kershaw fought through seven innings, beaten three times for home runs. His teammates failed to generate a hit after the third inning or a ball in play after the seventh. Boston bounded ahead three minutes after the first pitch and forever held the lead.
The next several days should shape the course of the Dodgers’ offseason. Kershaw has three days to decide whether to exercise his opt-out clause. Roberts, too, has some leverage, with some managerial openings remaining.
Pedro end with this:
“You have to realize that we are a really good team to get to go to the World Series two years in a row,” Kershaw said. “It might not be a personnel thing. It might just be a ‘play better’ thing.”
Hill did not know Roberts had not yet signaled for a reliever. We will never know how this series would have gone if Hill had been a bit more arrogant and insistent. Soon, we will know if it will affect Roberts’ future with this team.
The Atheleticis incredible!Pedro Moura has a Q & A session today from 4-6 PT. Check it out. I’ll talk more later about what I think will happen… or what I would like to see happen this offseason (JT Realmuto). Keep the faith!