Before We Start…
At least we now know that Clayton Kershaw wants to stay with the Dodgers, if possible, ANDthe Dodgers want Clayton Kershaw to be a Dodger for life, if possible. I think this is more than an “extension” – I think it may be a lifetime services contract. There’s a lot to discuss and decide. The fact that both sides agreed to postpone the deadline shows that BOTH SIDES have mutual interest in an extension. Kershaw doesn’t want to go back to Texas – he wants to stay in LA… but the price has to be right and it has to be right for the Dodgers too. Now, we wait another couple of days – they may or may not get a deal done, but both side are trying. My gut feeling is that they will get it done…. but you never know!
Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming….
I have read a few comments across the blogosphere from Dodger fans who want FAZ and their ANAL-ytics, gone. As I read the syntax I have concluded that it was produced by the same authors that I read onThe Flat Earth Society Blog. Sounds about right to me… Of course, these were also the same morons who said the Dodgers wouldn’t be a .500 team, win the NL West or the Pennant and would never get back to the World Series.
Here’s a Shocker:FAZ is not perfect! They make and will continue to make mistakes. Quick, name one Cuban they have signed who has panned out! At the time, the Manny Machado and Brian Dozier trades seemed to be a stroke of genius, but Dozier was a Dud and Machado was low on character and just did not deliver as advertised. Right about now, I would love to have Diaz and the other four prospects back… but hindsight is 20/20! The fact is, the farm system is in great shape and the Dodgers got to back-to-back World Series, and will be among the favorites to do so for a third straight year. Who knew that Brian Dozier would make us pine for Logan Forsythe? WOW!
It doesn’t feel good finishing second two years in a row, but how would you like to be a Royals, Reds, Mets or Orioles fan? FAZ is smart… and if Zaidi takes the Giants job, which I preducted a month ago, then Josh Byrnes may become the GM. Will their moniker changed from FAZ to FAB? Friedman And Byrnes? Sounds about right to me…
There will be changes: To the players and to the process. I believe they will bring more balance to the Dodger lineup and I really believe it makes sense to target JT Realmuto at the expense of trading Ruiz. Diego Cartya allegedly has even better tools than Ruiz, so if the Dodgers can sign JT to a 4 or 5 year extension, Cartya should be ready by then. JT is controllable fot two more years. Let’s look at the team position-by-position:
It seems that Yasmani Grandal is one of the most hated Dodgers of all time… especially after his playoff flop, but if you just graded players on their playoff performance, most players would be flops. Yasmani is a Free Agent, and while the Dodgers are preparing to move on without him, he is one of the Top 5 Catchers in baseball. If you go by WAR, he is the Number 2 catcher in baseball (2018) behind JT Realmuto. The Dodgers will likely give him the Qualifying Offer, but he will probably get a $60+ million 4-5 year deal from another team. I would be shocked if he took the QO. Austin Barnes development has stalled and he could be trade bait for a team looking for a backup. He does not have the arm I would like to see in a defensive catcher.
My preference is to trade for JT Realmuto and either get an experienced backup, like Kurt Suzuki or use Will Smith. JT Realmuto would cost the Dodgers several very good prospects, including Keibert Ruiz (who is one of my favorite prospects). However, the deal makes sense because Ruiz would be ready in a year or two as Miami starts to climb out of it’s hole. Ruiz is currently #39 on the MLB Prospect List and will likely climb higher after his AFL Season.
Let’s get this part over with: David Freese has a $6 million dollar option for 2019 and the Dodgers will pick it up. The FO has liked him for a while and he is a solid team leader. Beyond that, who is the first baseman? Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, Corey Seager (I can’t see that one unless he is in a wheelchair)? David Freese is not likely the starter, but he could platoon with Cody BellingerIFCody can’t fix his swing (for the record, I think Cody will figure it out, but Freese is good insurance). Max Muncy has gotten more adept with the glove at 1B and can be solid there, but not the caliber of Bellinger and Freese. The problem (well, it’s not really a problem) is that Cody may be the best Center Fielder on the team.
My preference is Cody Bellinger at 1B and and Chris Taylor in CF, but both players have to improve. Neither is far off, but both regressed in their Sophmore seasons. Cody was exposed again in the playoffs, but he was 4th in HR in the NL among firstbasemen. I see him working hard on laying off the high pitch and low and inside pitch. He’s just a baller…
I think Max Muncy should be the second baseman, but Whitt Merrifield has been suggested. I love him as a leadoff hitter, but I don’t think that the Dodgers can afford to trade for Merrifield and Realmuto, so I would rather have Realmuto. Let me preface the fact that Muncy at 2B is going to take some work. I’d like to see him get in better condition and he needs some help with his fielding, but he has a “soft” glove. He might not be a Gold Glover… but he can play a solid 2B. I saw glimpses of it this year. Kike Hernandez could see time there too against tough lefties.
Gavin Luxis not far off. While not quite as fast as Whitt Merrifield, he is a similar player. At 6′ 2″ and approaching 200 pounds, his body has matured as he eneters his age 21 season. I think he starts the season at OKC, but he could be aon a very fast track. He hit .324 with a .399 OB% last year, while OPS’ing .913. I would think we would not see him until the All-Star break, but who thought we would see Max Muncy when we did?
It’s easy to assume the Corey Seager will be back and never miss a lick, but he had not one, but two (count’em… 2) serious surgeries. Do the Dodgers trust he will be back or do they re-sign Manny Machado? Machado would be open to playing in LA, but is he worth the baggage? I don’t pretned to know the answer… and it just might boil down to what he will get. If it’s around $200 million, the Dodgers might be in, but if it’s a lot more… no way. Kike Hernandez or Chris Taylor are Plan C or D.
Two words: Justin Turner! David Freese can spell him and if they sign Machado, but there are too many scenerios to consider, including Seager at any IF position. JT has another good year or two… will Christan Santana be ready or someone else? Machado or Seager at 3B? There’s a lot to be decided.
The only thing that might keep Matt Kemp a Dodger is that who will take his salary?No one! I think the Dodgers would have to pay about $12 to $15 million of his salary to move him… unless they take on some other bad contract(s), and he loves being a Dodger, has embraced a bench role and you might as well keep him for that. He’s loved by his teammates and fans, so eating his salary may be counter-productive. He is morphing into Chase Utley… albeit overpaid by $20 million.
Overall, his .290 BA with 21 HR and 85 RBI looks enticing (only 1.1 WAR) , but people know how much he likes being a Dodger and that counts for a lot… with me too. I want him one more year and can’t see him going anywhere. He needs to become the DH or designated pinch hitter since he can hit both righties and lefties… as can Freese. I think both will be back.
Joc Pederson, Andrew Toles, Alex Verdugo, Kike Hernandez and CT3 are also LF possibilites. The Dodger outfield is crowded and I would expect to see a trade… or not. A couple of relievers could be added.
My preference is Chris Taylor, but Bellinger and Hernandez are just as good, or better. Again, it’s crowded out there. All three have plus arms as well. Alex Verdugo can play here occassionally, but he’s not really a CF due to his “slightly above average speed”. CT3 is my choice in CF… especially if he can get his OB% back up. He would have hit 20 points higher is he didn’t look at so many called third strikes.
This seems to belong to Yasiel Puig, but he can’t hit lefties and his defense has regressed. He getting big and musclebound. My preference is to trade Puig and another outfielder or two and turn RF over to Alex Verdugo. I think Verdugo can play great defense in RF… he has a cannon and might put up a .380 OB% as a leadoff hitter. I’ll take that.
- Verdugo RF
- Turner 3B
- Seager SS
- Muncy 2B
- Realmuto C
- Bellinger 1B
- Kemp/Pederson LF
- Taylor CF
Bench: Kike, Suzuki, Toles, Freese
This team doesn’t need Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. They need for players to play to their potential… especially Taylor and Bellinger. The position players are solid and Puig and Barnes could net a solid bullpen arm… or two. Of course, I am sure FAZ or FAB… have a lot more ideas than I do.
The Future of the Game
While many of you are worried about the future of the Dodgers, there is a much greater worry about the health of the great game of baseball. In case, you misssed it, two large market teams played in the World Series and yet,viewership was down 25% from last year and is in fact, the fourth least watched World Series ever!Even more astounding is that viewers were down over 40% from the Cubs – Indians series of two years ago. 40 PERCENT!Rob Manfred has to implement changes to this dying game or it’s a game that only old people watch. I expect to see some major changes this winter. In order to do that, there will have to be some concessions, like raising the roster limit to 26 or 27 players and raising the Luxury Tax threshold. That’s the only way the MLBPA will agree to any changes. I expect to see:
- A “hard” 20 second clock between pitches.
- An electronic strike zone.
- The DH comes to the NL.
- A limit of the number of times you can throw to 1B.
We will talk about the State of the pitching….