These are now Friedman’s Dodgers

It’s hard to say if the Dodgers would have been making the moves they are and saying the things they are if Farhan Zaidi was still General Manager, but my opinion is that they would not.  I think Andrew Friedman has decided not to fill the GM’s position because he wants to make sure he gets “his way” which makes perfect sense to me.  I think Andrew gave Farhan a lot of latitude and he was really the GM, but now he wants to make some changes that are necessary in light of two World Series flameouts. Friedman has decided to change the following:
  • Hiring Robert Van Scoyoc (RVS)as (what?) Hitting Coach, Brant Brown as “Hitting Strategist” and Aaron Bates as Assistant Hitting Coach in an “Effort to Pursue a Dynamic Hitting Environment.” Andrew wants to cut down on the strikeouts and have the players hit out of the shift more.  Zaidi be damned!
  • Signing a “setup man for $25 million/3 years? Well, at least Kelly can’t beat the Dodgers again.  He has always had the “”stuff” and maybe at 30, he’s getting the control… finally. He could be a great bullpen piece. Hopefully, he can find the consistency that has been missing from his game.
  • Friedman is wanting to cut down the platoons(maybe just one or two) to get guys more consistent playing time.  The platoons were a Zaidi thing… and Roberts bought in.  I think part of the holdup in Roberts deal was that Friedman wanted to make sure they were on the same page.
  • The Dodgers are still in on Realmutoand Wood, Puig, Kemp and others are in play.  There are a lot of moving parts, so I can’t speculate what will happen.  I really can’t see Tucket Barnhart in Blue.  He’s part of the reason the Reds pitching is so bad. Homer Bailey?  Maybe.  He might thrive in the pen if he changes his mindset! I would say he’s a “poor man’s Brandon Morrow” but with his salary, he is aRich Man’s Brandon Morrow.
  • Then today, we read inThe Athleticthat the Dodgers will beat the shift in 2019 by bunting and hitting the opposite way more.  I TOLD YOU THIS WEEKS AGO! Friedman is going to make sure this team cuts down it’s strikeouts:
At this week’s Winter Meetings here inside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, manager Dave Roberts issued an edict: His players will bunt against the shift more often in 2019, starting in spring training.“It should be important enough to get on base to be able to manipulate the bat and hit the ball the other way or to lay a bunt down,” Roberts said. “As far as offensively, philosophically, for us this year, we’re going to get better at that.”
There are lots of moving parts here and deals being bantered back and forth. It could gtake shape this afternoon as the dominos fall.  The cover photo of Blue Dominos is for Hawkeye.  They are starting to fall and they might end up falling on Bryce Harper if Friedman can  perform some magic in reducing payroll.I am relatively certain that they will exceed the LTT this year if Harper is involved.I am not a big fan of Harper, but he could be a big plus the first half of the contract (and a boat anchor the next half).The Rule 5 Draft is today. The Dodgers will likely lose some players.  Maybe Christain Santana, Drew Jackson, Stetson Allie and another own or two … When the Farm is loaded with talent, you are bound to lose some. I can confidently say this: The 2019 Dodgers will be vastly different than the team that lost back-to-back World Series.

This article has 73 Comments

  1. All week (offseason) long all I read is forget about Kluber and Harper. The Dodgers need relievers, a catcher, and a 2B. Then they go out and sign Joe Kelly for 3 years $25MM ($8.33 AAV). A reasonable price for a guy who can throw 100. And the reaction has been mostly negative, and not because of Hanley.
    .
    Some are complaining that they didn’t wait and sign Zach Britton for 3 years $25MM. Like that is going to happen. Those same people would have complained that they waited too long to sign a reliever believing Andrew could sign Britton for 3 years $25MM, and now all of the quality relievers are gone.
    .
    Some are complaining that he got 3 years, pointing to only Colorado offering 3-year contracts for relievers last year. That could be because none were worthy. This year (based on last year), it is projected that relievers expected to get 3 or more years: Craig Kimbrel, Andrew Miller, Zach Britton, David Robertson, Jeurys Familia, Adam Ottavino, and Joe Kelly. Familia signed for 3 years $30MM with the Mets, a team he did not want to leave. BVW brought him home.
    .
    David Robertson has no intention of coming out west. He was brilliant in being noticed interviewing with the Dodgers, a deep pocket team needing a late inning reliever. His negotiations with those east coast teams probably amped up a bit. Unfortunately for David, LAD removed themselves as a viable alternative.
    .
    Some say the Dodgers should sign Adam Ottavino (another east coast guy). Yet most of those people never heard of Ottavino before last year. He will sign for more than 3 years $25MM.
    .
    Cleveland is not convinced that Andrew Miller’s (yet another east coast guy) injuries are behind him. However, they may look to re-sign Cody Allen hoping for a bounce back year, which is where he wants to go.
    .
    Then there is Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel is looking for 6 years $100MM+. I understand that is just posturing, but you can bet his eyes are set on 5 years $90MM. This tops Chapman for most $$$, and Wade Davis for AAV. That is what he is looking for.
    .
    Joe Kelly is not Jose Leclerc, but who is. 3 years $25MM is not too much for a FA late inning reliever if he works out. That is about an average of 1 WAR per year. That is not unreasonable for a 30-year-old who can hit 100.

    1. I think it was a good signing that could wind up being a great one. He was hot and cold last year. His hot was awesome. Just needs consistency to be a top 8th inning reliever.

  2. I think Bellinger will thrive with the new hitting philosophy.
    .
    If the Dodgers trade Hill, Wood, Kemp. and Puig and get a net savings of $45M, the odds are going up on Harper being a Dodger.
    .
    If Harper is signed, Verdugo plus X could add Kluber.
    .
    Still would a righty bat.

  3. 1. The Dodgers are at full capacity on their 40 man. Who is going to be DFA when Kelly is announced? The Dodgers cannot pick up anyone on the Rule 5 because they are at roster capacity. Drew Jackson is a real threat to be drafted. Maybe Stetson Allie or Connor Joe. But I am still not convinced that a team is going to draft Cristian Santana. He is just not ready for MLB. I don’t know if he is ready for AA. I just cannot see a team drafting him and keeping him on the 25-man roster for the full year. Maybe a team like the O’s, but still doubtful.
    .
    2. No on Tucker Barnhart. Catcher is a defensive first position. Barnhart is not a good defensive catcher. He was near the absolute bottom for framing, which is a key metric for Andrew. I would much prefer to have Barnes and his defense behind the dish and hope (there’s that word again) that his offense improves. The reason I am optimistic is because he has hit everywhere he has played, except last year. Go ahead for Realmuto if it does not empty the farm. Otherwise sign Maldonado/Hundley/Lucroy/James McCann/Caleb Joseph/AJ Ellis for one year until one of the two kids is ready.
    .
    3. I have no doubt that Friedman is trying to rid payroll (and maybe one or two OF and one or two SP). I would agree with all of that, if he can generate enough savings to make a significant acquisition with a high price tag. If the Dodgers want to sign Harper they could be offering 9 years and $327MM with two opt outs. That is more than Giancarlo Stanton’s top dollars and the $36.33MM AAV surpasses Greinke’s top AAV. I think he would sign today if that is offered. I am not advocating doing that, it is just my guess that if Friedman wants Harper he could get him.
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    4. The Dodgers are now at $198MM projected payroll, and with Maeda in the rotation that could get to $203MM with the current roster. They are going to need to divest themselves of some combination of the Kemp/Puig/Wood/Fields/Joc salaries to sign someone like Harper and a FA catcher.
    .
    5. I am convinced that one of the platoon positions will be 2B. LAD has more than adequate range and defense with CT3 and Kike’. Muncy does not have the range but he does have the bat. If CT3 can get back to 2017, the 2B job should be his and Kike’ can go back to doing what he does best. None of those players will block Lux if he continues his quick trajectory to MLB. The Dodgers still see Lux as a SS so it will be very interesting to see where Lux gets most of his playtime.

    1. One other thought. If Friedman is successful of divesting the Dodgers of tens of millions in payroll, I might like to see them take a flyer on a one year contract for Kelvin Herrera. He will not be available at the beginning of the year due to recovery/rehab from Lisfranc Ligament surgery. I have no idea what the prognosis of players returning from this injury is. Maybe Dodgerrick has some info on that injury.

      1. AC: Fantastic article. I,too, would like us to take a flyer on Herrera. Good signing on Kelly. You probably don’t agree but I’d still like to see Dozier back. We all know he played hurt last year and a 1-2yr deal would take care of our need for a RH power hitter. Lets not forget he won a GG in 2017.

  4. Great article today! These changes will be welcome for the upcoming season. I’m glad they’re planning for the obvious, less strikeout and platoons, hitting away from the shift. It’s amazing that it’s taking teams so long to figure this out.

    I’ve mentioned that our biggest loss was Woodward. But, getting Dino Ebel to replace him was a stroke of luck. He’s a Dodger with 17 years in the organization. The Angels have been a very good base running team and a lot of credit for that falls on Ebel. He’s also credited with working with infielders and outfielders as well. This was a great pickup.

    I really like the Joe Kelly signing, he breathes fire out of his right arm! At least the Winter Meeting weren’t a total zero as we now have our “bridge” to Jansen. I would have liked to see someone with more saves, but I’ll take it.

    Too bad we don’t have some other new shiny toys, but there’s still time before Christmas. There’s so many rumors and speculation, it’s really hard to imagine what this team will look like in a few weeks. Harper and Realmuto? That sounds pretty good to me. Any chance for another right handed bat? When Puig and / or Kemp gets shipped out of here we’re gonna be pretty light in that department.

    The Winter Meetings has been lackluster so far, at least until today. I’m so glad we have at least something to show for it. Any predictions on the next piece to fall? Homer Bailey salary dump? Can he turn into Brandon Morrow, or Joe Kelly for that matter? If they bring him on, we’ll need to dump some pitchers.

    1. Seems like those guys with saves command more money than those who don’t. I think adding Kelly was a sneaky/smart way to basically add another closer [or closer “type”] without breaking the bank. Maybe the three years is a bit off-putting to some, but $8m isn’t that much in terms of AAV. Everything is expensive these days.

  5. Joe Kelly signing looks good. Hopefully he’s matured, and the Joe Kelly we saw in the fall is the new improved version. Also, when a players age is mentioned in an article, take it with a grain of salt. The age given is always the age at the time the article was written. So Joe Kelly is 30 right now, but will be 31 in June. But still, this appears to be a step in the right direction.

    But the fact that he’s a Dodger now does not mean I will forgive him for hitting Hanley in 2013. That may well have cost the Dodgers a chance at a world championship that year. The Dodgers lost close games to the Cardinals after that, all of which would likely have had different outcomes if Hanley was in the lineup.

    1. Call me old school but Kelly has that fire and protects his teammates. He was suspended last year for hitting someone intentionally. The next time a team targets JT (he gets hit a lot) having a guy who throws 100 mph might give pause when he enters the game. Besides, who is left from that team? I would say Kershaw, Puig and Jansen, maybe Baez. Plus Hanley is long gone and still being paid by the Red Sox. Time to turn a page and move on.

      I am glad the team locked up a bridge guy and a quality one at that, can’t wait for Honey to work with him. I vote no on a Homer Bailey deal, unless some prospects come back. Kemp would do damage in that park and Wood is a bounce back candidate. Maybe the staff sees something that can be fixed, he does still throw hard and would benefit from moving to the bullpen. I just don’t see how it makes the team better unless it is a precursor to other moves. On Barnhart, he is not a good framer but he won a GG in 2017 and has a decent stick, is a switch hitter and has a decent cap number of $3M and under contract for 3 more years (plus a 500K option in 22) and could be traded when Smith or Ruiz are ready.

      1. Completely agree with your assessment of Kelly, VD. I like his fire, a quality the Dodgers sometimes lack.

      2. Ryu. It’s Kershaw, Puig, Ryu, and Jansen that have been on all the division winners. I guess Kemp was on that team.

  6. Remember Joe Kelly is a Southern California guy!

    He went to Corona High like I did, and he also went to UCR.

    And you know how Southern California kids love to play for the Dodgers.

    I can’t remember him ever having any velocity issues either.

    I am just happy Friedman signed a set up guy, instead of just only playing around the edges.

    And we still have another guy that Friedman has signed, that AC mentioned, that will get a spring training invite, and could be good in our bullpen too.

    Our bullpen was one of our weaknesses last year too.

    1. Yeah, no more complaining that we didn’t go out and get a high quality/expensive reliever. Here he is.

    2. I also enjoyed my Freshman year at UCR before changing my major to engineering and transferring. I wasn’t gong to graduate from UCR as a physics major.

  7. Connor Joe (Reds) and Drew Jackson (Phillies) selected in 1st round of Rule 5 Draft this AM. The two I thought were most likely to get picked. There are still rounds to go as long as a team wants to keep picking. Once a team passes, they are done.

    1. Dammit. Don’t understand why we hung onto guys who have no chance with us [Gale, etc.] when we knew we would lose players with actual talent. I’m mildly perturbed by this.

      1. Don’t be. They have to have a place to play to be protected. You can’t save them all. Drew Jackson is blocked by CT3 and Kike’, and was not considered as developed as Tim Locastro who was waived and then traded to NYY. He is 25 and has not played above AA. Errol Robinson and maybe Omar Estevez can replace Drew in the organizational utility ladder.
        .
        Matt Beaty and Edwin Rios are considered better prospects than Connor Joe. He wasn’t going to play for LAD. He could have made a splash like Rob Segedin, but he is not as advanced as Rios and IMO as good with bat to ball as is Matt Beaty. He is probably a better version of O’Koyea Dickson, but not a regular 1B (or 3B).
        .
        Rocky Gale was not protected for the draft, and serves a purpose. He was added to the 40 man last year and brought up in September. He is organizational depth at catcher, and until the kids are ready, Gale is very helpful, especially to the young pitchers. And who knows. Maybe it will be Gale who is DFA when Kelly is added.
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        Hopefully both will make their respective 25 man rosters, but generally, they are offered back to their original teams. So both Drew and Connor could be back, if the Dodgers want them.

        1. Thanks for reminding me about Segedin. I remember when he came up I immediately pencilled him in as a nice RH bench bat with some pop who could play multiple positions. Now he’s in the dustbin of history. But then there are also the Taylors and Muncys who rise from anonymity as well. Nothing major, just thought there was a chance Joe had a little something in his bat [based largely on pedigree] and I kept hearing about Jackson’s physical tools/athleticism.

      2. Gale was an Emergency Catcher – you have to have one. There are 39 other players on the 40 man roster. Neither Joe, not Jackson had a chance in hell of making the roster. There are too many players ahead of them. I am happy they might get a shot at playing somewhere else. This is what happens when you have a deep farm system.

        1. Having #7 & #13 picks taken in draft is a testament to our organizational depth. I guess that makes me a prospect hoarder.

    1. I guess I’m late to the party. I was sleeping. I like the Blue dominoes. I’ve got “Domino” by Kiss in my head now.

    1. Familia would have been a good deadline pickup, and except for a couple of bad games he pitched pretty well for the A’s. He is going back to NYM, a team he never wanted to leave in the first place. Familia signed for $5MM more than Kelly. Familia would have been a good sign, but I am more than fine with Joe Kelly.

  8. Kelly is an interesting signing but I have 2 concerns.
    1 – Look at his BB/9 ratio – 4/9 ip – not good in a late reliever
    2 – Look at his monthly splits – really good some months, ERA over 9 in others. Not consistently good.

    Electric when he’s on but when he’s not?

    1. We need a roster spot for Kelly, right? Have to think another move is coming soon. Maybe multiple players heading out.

      1. I’m sure the Dodgers will wait to make Kelly signing official until the have all their ducks in a row.

  9. Wood for Cervelli anyone? Pirates traded Nova so could use another starter? Cervelli’s not great but he satisfies the “one-year” requirement we want for any catching addition. Maybe Pittsburgh could throw in some cash to even it out.

      1. That would open up a roster spot for Kelly. But still need a spot when we sign Harper with the Kemp money

    1. Stripling is worth way more than Cervelli. Stripling is nasty when he isn’t tipping his pitches. His curve is “Hilltastic.” He would be the best 4 or 5 on any staff. Probably a 2 or definitely a good 3 on anyother staff in the NL West. He’s cheap and under team control. The Dodgers should keep him. Cervelli isn’t much, he’s an old catcher.

  10. So, with the Kelly signing I’m assuming we’re not targeting another high-end reliever, including a lefty like Miller or Britton. Does that mean we are ready to weaponize Ferguson and Urias and turn them loose on the league? It’s impossible to project our bullpen right now [and I’m guessing we might part with one or two guys before opening day], but how about this?

    1. Jansen
    2. Kelly
    3. Cingrani
    4. Baez
    5. Ferguson
    6. Floro
    7. Urias/Stripling

    1. Ferguson could very well see significant time in the pen—and I think he would be very good there.

      From what the org has said so far, Urias is slated for starting. Suspect OKC (maybe even extended ST) initially to limit innings until an injury opens up a spot in the ML rotation

      1. Sounds smart. Urias as a starter is still the long-term play. I also like the potential payoff in 2020 when we will have some openings in the rotation.

  11. I think we can put the Realmuto thinking to bed. It’s not worth the prospects the Marlins will be asking .

  12. A really interesting article about hitting in the Athletic by Peter Gammons which just happens to focus on the Dodgers.https://theathletic.com/705476/2018/12/13/gammons-want-to-understand-whats-happening-in-baseball-now-it-all-goes-back-to-ted-williams/

    He goes back to the 1st scientific hitter, Ted Williams and his prescriptions for hitting in his book, “The Science of Hitting.” But he also focuses on the Dodgers and their failures last year.

    “Pick up Williams’ 1968 book “The Science of Hitting” and go to his theory on hitting with two strikes. “Where so many hitters fail, they aren’t hitting as many singles and doubles and are striking out too much,” he wrote. “They don’t protect themselves. Two strikes and they’re still swinging 100 percent, trying to pull, trying to hit the ball in the seats.

    “With two strikes, the advantage turns, you have to concede to the pitcher, think about the push swing, be quick, think up the middle. You’ve shortened and quickened up. You can wait longer, you get fooled less.” ”

    “Next, think about this statistic: In 2018, in 52.6 percent of at-bats, major league hitters got to two strikes at one point or another.”
    “Then consider that with two outs and runners in scoring position in 2018, the only team worse than the Dodgers’ .199/.327/.312 were the Marlins. ”

    “The Dodgers only struck out three more times than the Red Sox (56-53) in the five-game World Series, but over the entire postseason, Cody Bellinger, Joc Pederson, Chris Taylor, Enrique Hernández and Brian Barnes walked 21 times and struck out 68. During the season the Dodgers scored three runs or less 71 times, 17th highest in the league and one less than the Rays.”

    “Where Pederson, Hernández and Taylor all had average launch angles between 15.4 and 16.4 degrees, J.D. Martinez was 10.7, but was third in the majors in barrels per plate appearance. Christian Vázquez, Xander Bogaerts, Benintendi, Jackie Bradley, Mitch Moreland and Rafael Devers were all in the 11.0-12.7 range.”
    (This is consistent with what Ted Williams preached, by the way.)

    The point of the article was the over-emphasis of the Launch Angle thing with the Dodgers. Gammons thinks that Hyers and Von Scoyoc will fix the problem. I hope he’s right.

    1. Great read. It sounds like Hyers and Turner Ward (Zaidi?) had a difference of opinion, and Hyers found a better home. Was the extreme launch angle a Ward or Zaidi strategy? Regardless, I am glad that changes are happening. But it also seems that the original perception of Van Scoyoc may have been wrong. He does not appear to be an extreme launch angle guy but more of a path guy with a lower launch angle, which is a more natural swing. It appears that the approach is going to change, especially with 2 strikes and also with the shift. Good.

      1. thanks for the summary, Rick. I’m stunned by the difference in launch angles between our whiff guys and JD Martinez!

  13. There is another good article in the Athletic in regard to beating the shift. What I am encouraged by is that it seems that Andrew Friedman is a ring leader for more situational hitting and bunting against the shift. I will let Mark post the article if he wants. A couple of paragraphs:
    .
    “President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman posited that hitters opt against it because of an increasingly familiar feeling in modern life: FOMO.
    .
    “These guys are all some of the best competitors in the world, and so their mindset is always, ‘The next pitch I see, I’m gonna hit really hard,’ ” Friedman said Wednesday from the Dodgers’ high-floor suite. “It’s like the fear of missing out when you could have done something more. It’s not as easy as it is for me, sitting in the suite, to say I think they should bunt more. It’s a lot harder than that, and I appreciate that.”
    .
    “Friedman stressed that successful bunting against the shift would translate into more offense, both directly and indirectly. A better-than-even success rate seems within the realm of possibility, which would of course force defenses to shift back to a more traditional alignment. How much offense would depend on the bunting proficiency and the ability to capitalize in appropriate scenarios.
    .
    “I think it gets back to the specific hitter and how well they’re able to manipulate the bat — what kind of profile are they?” Friedman said. “I think there’s a lot of factors that go into it. But I think any time we can take one of our hitters and make them a better hitter without giving away their strengths, I’m all in.”
    .
    “Friedman said he has long been a huge proponent of this very proposal. He blamed his teams’ failing to enact it on his own failures to sufficiently communicate the pluses to players. And he argued that players throughout the sport are missing out, not just the Dodgers.”
    .
    He also recognized that it is harder to practice bunting in normal batting practice situations. Batters are not facing sliders or 102 MPH fastballs in batting practice. And I agree with Andrew that it is harder to do, than to pontificate about what should be done. Especially by us fans.

  14. If I were a Mariners fan, I think I’d be taking a break from the team for a while. I understand the stated philosophy of gathering prospects for the future and clearing payroll for eventual signings, but all they are really doing right now is making their team worse, one move at a time. About a half a year ago, fans were gloating about their wild card lead and already thinking ahead to the play-in game against the Yankees. After they crashed and burned (largely due to an atomically hot A’s team), all kinds of justifications and rationalizations popped up about “outperforming their Pythagorean” and “an unsustainable record in one-run games.” The truth is, they were a pretty good team until they weren’t and they still had a lot of money tied up in veteran contracts, including players who had disappointed during the season and were looking to bounce back in 2019.
    *
    Now they are a joke. Not a Chicago Bulls’ level laughingstock but a throwaway one-liner about giving up when the going gets tough. I think they had a better chance to low-key contend next year with a few smart moves than they do become the next “super-team” built around Mitch Haniger, Jarred Kelenic, and whatever other prospects Seattle wrung from their actually major league talent they traded. Before the flurry of activity, their farm system was ranked toward the bottom, so even with these wholesale moves, they still aren’t a loaded organization, regardless of what some would like to believe.
    *
    What they are is a carcass disguised as a team, a Monopoly player who gives up and frustration-sells all his property, an addict who declares bankruptcy and abandons his family. If I were Commissioner, I would consider them an embarrassment to the sport, a blight on the league, and a bad player in the game. And they have the nerve to post a “Welcome to Seattle” message on their website for players they don’t even want, but whose salaries help to balance the books more than others.

  15. DC-I do not know if you read my other post. I talked to Ted Equals today. He was at Edmonton in 1958. The year after Ron Fairly was there. Ted and another guy by the name of “Dollar” were the two catchers on the team. Ted was 20 years old at the time. Just wonder if you by any chance remember him.

    1. ldahoal – My sincere apology to Ted. I don’t remember him. I have just a few I remember as after the 1957 season I was not quite as faithful to the Eskimos as I had made a great group of friends by 1958 and we did a lot of other things together, including playing baseball.
      .
      I remember a few of the Eskimos around Ted’s time. : Len Gabrielson who later played with the Dodgers, Tom Satriano, Roger Tomlinson, Ralph Vold and Pat Gilliick who was called Patrick back then. I’m sure I could think of others like Jerry Adair who played with the Williston Oilers and came up with the Orioles.
      .
      Please pass on my regards to Ted.

  16. That is what I took from what I read about RVS and his hitting philosophy. Yes, he does want more balls hit into the air rather than on the ground. That does makes sense as there are three outfielders to cover a wide expanse and five infielders including the pitcher to cover the much smaller infield.
    .
    Beyond that he knows exit velocity is important on fly balls and many players do not have the necessary exit velocity to become home run threats. He spoke of adjusting to the type of pitch and is not a big fan of strikeouts. As AC mentioned he is not in on extreme launch angle.
    .
    He wants hitters to get their bat “on plane” in the hitting zone for as long as possible, creating swings that are capable of handling a variety of pitches. But he also believes every hitter is unique – some are taller, some have shorter arms, some have better vision than others – and the coaches say they believe in discovering the most effective swing, not producing cookie-cutter actions for everyone.”
    .
    I don’t know if he/they are responsible for Gavin Lux’s emergence or not but it seems they may have had an influence on him.
    .
    I know it is difficult to practice bunting if hitters are not facing breaking balls in batting practice. The answer to that would be to make that possible with pitching machines or batting practice pitchers who can throw breaking balls. It is my contention that the best hitters in the world can get used to bunting all kinds of pitches if they have a will to do so rather than contend they can beat the shift just by banging away at it. I speak from a very biased perspective as I am a huge fan of the bunt in all of its forms. As mentioned before I will take a bunt any day before a K or a DP. I simply don’t believe these hitters can’t lay down bunts if they have the will to do do.
    .
    I am not overly excited about the Joe Kelly signing.Just mildly so. He was much more effective in 2017 than he was in 2018 during the regular season. His big pay day came as a result of his 2018 play-off performance. I always wonder if something like that has started a trend or is an anomaly. Hopefully it is a portend of things to come. We will have to wait and see how his command and control are. If they are like his WS performance then as our older son says so often, “We are golden.”
    .
    The big question would be, what will Mark call him if we trade for Homer Bailey?

    1. Just like Kelly’s and Eovaldi’s contract was positively impacted by the 2018 WS, Grandal’s will be negatively impacted by his 2018 playoffs.
      .
      You would think that with a $200MM payroll that someone could find a batting machine to emulate all of the pitches to be expected including a rising 102 MPH fastball and a hard breaking slider to practice bunting off of.
      .
      I think the reported association with Gavin Lux turned me around to learn more about Van Scoyoc. Let’s put it this way, RVS cannot be worse on situational hitting than the Dodgers were under Turner Ward (or was it Zaidi?). I am coming around, and getting excited about the program.
      .
      I do not want to think about Homer Bailey. If it is for salary dump purposes okay, as long as the savings go to an actual baseball player improvement, and not the financial bottom line.

  17. I’ve mentioned this before, but Bellinger beat the shift bunting at least a half dozen times his rookie season. Last season for some reason he tried do it in a 3-0 count, got his butt chewed deservedly, and then I don’t think I saw him try to beat the shift bunting again. We’ve seen Joc try, but it usually goes foul. All this banning the shift stuff is non-sense. We shouldn’t be banning strategy do to bad fundamentals. If Kershaw and Ryu can’t get bunts down then the position players should be able to do it. Bunting is courage and technique. It’s not that tough.

    1. First controversy of the year will be Harper refusing to bunt against the shift in 9th inning of tie game.

    2. Hawkeye

      As you probably already know, these guys try to take off to soon, before their bunt is down.

      There is practically no defense at third, so they just need to take a little more time and get their bunt down the line, beyond the pitcher.

      It isn’t the same as trying to get a bunt for a hit, because their is no defense beyond the pitcher, down the third baseline.

      It is more about being precise, then being quick, with these extreme shifts.

      1. I agree that is often a problem for some, but with Joc it’s like he’s so afraid of making an out he never gets it in fair territory.

    3. Totally agree HD the pitchers are the best bunters on the team and everyone knows it coming and the corners are crashing. Other than Kike and Cody, there is not one above average bunter of the position players but that’s because they don’t practice it. You don’t have to have blazing speed with a shift on. Slapping one through is a good option too if they are pitching you away-too often hitters just try to pull that pitch into the shift. Trying to pull an outside pitch usually results in a rollover swing with a pop up or weak ground ball or just a swing and miss. If this is coming from the top you can bet there will be drills all spring training. I like it a lot actually. They will still hit HR’s but in better counts and pitch locations.

      1. I still think that a little time with Brett Butler on learning how to slap the ball away with two strikes would be helpful. But more importantly, start holding the players accountable. Stop rewarding them for excessive strikeouts because of overswinging. The next time Joc swings with two strikes and his head is in the first base dugout he needs to be fined (Kangaroo Court – it happens). Bums, I am using Joc as an example not as the only one that does it. I just picture him more than others.
        .
        HOLD THE PLAYERS ACCOUNTABLE.

  18. Dodgers just sent out their season ticket holder xmas gifts (2 stemless wine glasses). Well, maybe they’re not wine glasses, but I”ll use them as such.

    Either way, I”ll be keeping this gift, as opposed to last year’s mug that said “2017 NL Champs” which I promptly tossed in the trash.

  19. Pedro Moura has a great Q&A on the Athletic. He deals with Muncy (doesn’t think other teams will value him as highly as the Dodgers do)
    With Harper (possible, but not probable)
    With Kelly’s $$$ (Friedman has offered similar amounts before…)

    And more!

    Go read it.

  20. How bonkers is it that the Dodgers TV deal can be seen legitimately as the best and worst deal in all of sports at the same time.

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