Bits and Bites

The off-season has definitely gotten slow. The transactions have come to a sudden halt during the Christmas season. The Dodgers have even been extremely slow in signing minor league free agents.  Other teams have made moves that appear to have strengthened them but not the Dodgers. Well folks, it is time to look up some of those patience quotes. Some feel the Dodgers got snookered by the Reds. On the basis of one trade that brought the Dodgers two good prospects and a fair chunk of change that may keep them out of luxury tax territory, the Reds did seem to get the better deal for the 2019 season. However, Friedman did exactly what he wanted to do in the deal and found a team, with which to do it. But, have patience, Andrew Friedman knows something about the art of the deal. He doesn’t play all of his cards at the same time or in the same way each year, or even show his cards. He must be an astute poker player displaying annoying patience and never changing his expression. He absolutely will not be rushed into a deal or make one simply to make one. Sometimes the best deal is one that is not made. I like Mark’s domino analogy. Stay patient, there are still dominoes to fall. I have a feeling we might be surprised, and the package or packages may well be totally unexpected. Then we can go back and reassess the deal with the Reds. Personally, I am not a great Bryce Harper fan. I can’t really cite a whole lot of reasons, but I have a feeling he is over-rated and the contract he would be seeking is close to insane. Stanton even with his 211 strikeouts in 2018 might be a better choice than Harper but there is that strangulation hold put on by his contract. Money does matter no matter how much you have. I really don’t have an idea what will transpire. That is, whether DJLM, Pollack, Castellanos, Realmuto, Lowrie, Kluber, etc. will become Dodgers so have been looking a bit at other things. Simple things. AC mentioned the other day that we often tend to overvalue prospects. I plead guilty in the first degree and often overvalue players who are no longer considered prospects. 

Rocky Gale:

 We are searching for a catcher all over the place while the catcher market gets smaller and smaller. I have not given up on Austin Barnes. It seems we often give up on one of our own who has a down year but are ready to jump aboard when a player on another team has a first good year. Barnes needs more play time to get into a rhythm. Also, why does a player like Rocky Gale not get a shot?  I suppose he might if Barnes is traded and Realmuto acquired. Realmuto is something of a Gary Carter look alike. Gale has had a good minor league career and some experience with Dave Roberts when he was in the Padres farm system.

“Rocky has had a tremendous year down there. Very good receiver, works well with the pitchers, I knew him over there in San Diego,” manager Dave Roberts said today.”

Gale is considered to be a cerebral catcher with a strong throwing arm and a knack for managing pitchers. He has a minor league career fielding percentage of .992 and has thrown out 36 per cent of would be base stealers. 

Dino Ebel:

 Dino Ebel, as announced some time ago, is returning to the Dodgers as a third base coach to replace Chris Woodward who was hired as the Rangers manager. Ebel played six years in the Dodgers minor league system beginning in 1988 and managed on the Dodgers farm before moving to the Angels in 2005. He has 12 years MLB experience with the Angels including as a third base coach. There was one item that caught my attention while reading about him. He likes players to be aggressive on the base paths which is something that could benefit the Dodgers. That is music to my ears. Another one of his characteristics may well be music to Dodger fans ears at Dodger Stadium. Ebel is known to whistle [loudly]at his players to get them into the right defensive positioning. As a sidelight, Ebel and Vladimir Guerrero were close friends with the Angels. That would be the same Guerrero that the Dodgers did not sign because he was thought to run the bases poorly. 

“Vladimir is one of the greatest, nicest human beings I’ve ever met … a guy who came to the park everyday with a smile on his face, every day, competing and wanting to win,” Ebel said in an interview with The Canadian Press earlier this year.

 

“This guy was born to be in the Hall of Fame in my eyes, there’s no   doubt about it.”

 It was that familiarity that led to Guerrero asking Ebel to join him for the Home Run Derby in 2007 at AT&T Park in San Francisco — a contest that the free-swinging Guerrero won with Ebel throwing the pitches. 

Four Right-Handers to Watch in 2019:

 
  • Morgan Cooper (24)– very slow to recover from TJ surgery

Yet to make first professional ball pitch

  • Michael Grove (22)– TJ surgery

Will debut in 2019

  • Amaury Telemaco Jr (20)– non-drafted free agent in 2017

Will debut in 2019

  • Guillermo Zuniga (20)– signed in December, 2017 when Braves were forced to give up international prospects

Last 10 starts 1.78 ERA, 35.1 IP, 42 K, 11 BB

Hernandez:

No not Kike. There were three Hernandez pitchers with the Arizona League Dodgers in 2018.
  • RHP Jose (20)– 2.96 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 27.1 IP, 38 K, 14 BB
  • LHP Antonio (19)– 1.09 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 24.2 IP, 26 K, 8 BB
  • RHP Ricardo (20)– 1.83 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 19.2 IP, 17 K, 8 BB
 They are not brothers and at times pitched to 20-year-old catcher Marco Hernandez who later moved to Ogden and hit well with the Raptors.

This article has 56 Comments

  1. Great writeup DC. Rocky Gale might surprise. He’s not unlike AJ Ellis is some respects.

    The guy I think could be special is Micahel Grove. He has a shot at being a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter.

    Morgan Cooper was abducted by aliens it would seem to me. I do not think he exists. It might be a cardboard replica.

  2. One more thing…. I talked to a couple of scouts recently and one said that Castellanos has a “chance to be better than JDM.”

    The other one said that“He has a lot of talent, but can he realize it?”

    Nick passes the “eye test” and I still think Friedman wants him badly, but not badly enough to include Verdugo, Lux or Ruiz.

    How about Pederson, Downs, Gray and Rios or Wong?

  3. Age 22, AAA Seasons: ave; obp; slg; ops
    .
    Verdugo = .329 .391 .472 .863
    Pederson = .303 .435 .582 1.017

    1. And Joc got his chance to take the reins and become a star for LAD. He didn’t succeed. He has proven to be a very good platoon LF with excellent power, and ability to walk. Now it’s Verdugo’s turn to show if he can hit both RHP and LHP, and be a better situational hitter. We all know Alex does not have Joc’s power. Joc had his chance, now is the time for Alex.

      1. And with Puig gone we should get to watch Verdugo do his MLB thing. We all want each player to do better but to say Joc failed is understating what he has accomplished.

        1. I did not say Joc failed. I said he did not succeed, “to take the reins and become a star for LAD.” There is no question that he did not succeed in that regard. He is a successful platoon LF that hits for power and against RHP. But he is not an everyday OF, at least for LAD.

  4. Great writeup, I said it gale just might be the backup. Barnes may start the year. He has always hit well in the minors and 2017 he contributed. He is do for a bounce back. All those strikeouts just didn’t follow his history. It seems he was frozen, in between, not clear or confidant of his approach much like Taylor. I do think this has to do with philosophy and approach. Taylor and Barnes could bounce back. I would go with Barnes and gale before I would let Miami hold me up. I am looking forward to following those right handlers. Mark maybe the Dodgers could expand that trade for Castellanos to include fullmer. Then, add maeda, joc, and Santana plus Wong.

    1. I like your thinking. I mentioned Gale as Barnes’ possible backup a couple of weeks back, and that was not well received. Barnes has always hit, that was his calling card. He made himself into a good defensive catcher with a 2B arm, because that is what he is. He will never have a great arm, but he does everything else well behind the dish. He calls a good game. He gives the pitcher a great target (so they all say…including Kershaw). He blocks balls in the dirt well. He moves well behind the dish with quick feet. He is a top framer. He just has to hit, something he has always done. Give him the job and let him prove it. Gale is just as capable a backup as are those that are still available, with the possible exception of Wieters, if he is healthy and can hit. Boston won a WS without a hitting catcher. Barnes does not have to hit as does JTR, but I bet he hits better than Vasquez, Leon, and Swihart.

  5. I too am most excited to see Michael Grove pitch this year. While he doesn’t approach Walker Buehler’s level, he was projected to be a 1st round pick, perhaps even top half of the 1st round. One thing Friedman has never shied away from is taking a chance on a pitcher with top shelf abilities with recent or soon forthcoming TJ surgery. For Friedman it almost seems like a right of passage. Grove’s innings will be monitored, however they will not be as restricted as was for Buehler, because with Grove it will be almost two years since the surgery (May 2017). Once he gets started, I can see him rising quickly as did Buehler. He just turned 22. I predict he makes his first LAD start at 24. Buehler/Kershaw/Urias/May/Grove. That still leaves Stripling, Ferguson, Gonsolin, White, Santana. Of course those last 5 could prove to be part of a great bullpen. Uh oh, now I am sounding more like Mark.

    1. We have brainwashed each other. If they can’t get Realmuto now, maybe they will later… at their price. Go with Barnes and Gale and get that RH Thumper – Casty.

      The past two seasons, Puig had reverse splits and with Ward gone, there was no way to count on the Wild Horse. He was fun, but I am relieved he is gone. The Dodgers need Casty in the 4 Hole.

      I am just packing and checking in. We will leave shortly.

  6. Verdugo has to get a shot at starting. The one thing everybody should like is that he would not have to be platooned. He will be a much better contact hitter against all pitching than most if not all our players. I think as a manager you will be able to trust him more than puig. We might miss kemp more than the rest. He had his chance as well but ballooned in the second half. Verdugo can be an exciting add to the lineup. We have to see what we have. I think joc had a very good year for us but he took some real embarrassing swings against lefties. He can mash righty’s but I don’t think lefties and more importantly I don’t think the Dodgers trust him against lefties. I am starting to believe that Castellanos is a target but somebody has to be added if Detroit gets a return or a 3 way deal. I just don’t think that Friedman would overpay for a one year rental. But, he would replace kemp with a younger version plus cheaper and kills lefties.

  7. Go to baseball-reference and look at JD Martinez and Nick Castellanos in their age 26 years and then look at the hitters around them. Once you do, you may understand why I am so excited about Nick. Adding Fulmer to the deal is OK by me. Casty may like it in LA and sign a great extension… or not, but I can’t think of a better hitter at #4 than him… even Stanton.

    1. On Verdugo: That was why Puig was traded… to clear a path for Verdugo. RF is Alex’s job to lose. Joc and Alex are entirely different hitters. Alex has no holes in his swing and may hit even better in MLB. I think he will hit 15+ HR his rookie year. There, I said it.

      He will be the ROY in the NL. Write it down.

      … and Ruiz may be ready by July!

      Santana, Ferguson, Smith , Lux, Rios, Kasowski and Sheffield

      Don’t forget Therrien – AC promised he was the next Game Over! 😉

      These are exciting times to be a Dodger fan.

  8. I was looking as you were posting. Solid, durable, consistent, bats better in the 4 hole, can replace kemp and more. I believe Friedman will get this done by expanding the deal or dealing acquired prospects.

  9. Andrew Friedman have given us this chance, but he has also failed:

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,…

    Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” — Teddy Roosevelt

    … and I am OK with that!

    1. Come on, Mark. we are just fans, we can not do anything to trade and contract players or mangers or, batting approch. we only buy tickets, pay MLB subscriptions and write in this blog. FRIEDMAN is the president of the Dodgers. The passage is inclerable, I love it, but it does not apply here. Roberts takes decisions on computers data insted on feeling the moment of the game, thats why I dont like him. but it is no my desicion I just can critize thats the fun job. We are “in the arena” when Express over views in this blog

  10. Happy Birthday to the great Sandy Koufax. 83 years young. Sorry Clayton, but the greatest LAD pitcher (LHP or RHP) of all time.

    1. I will second that. I always answered who was the better pitcher – Clayton or Sandy- with a question. If you were in the seventh game of the WS who would you sooner have starting the game, Kershaw or Koufax? Clayton is an amazing young man and #1 pitcher but Sandy was/is also an amazing, gentle man and was a step up from Clayton in my opinion. And, that is difficult to do but Sandy did it.
      .
      Happy Birthday Sandy.

      1. Watch a game this past year, Cardinal feed. Tim McCarver was asked who who better, Kershaw or Koufax. McCarvers response: Without a doubt Koufax.

        1. Seen both, like both, different eras, but Sandy is the guy,
          if you had to choose. And the choice is not at all hard.

    2. Sandy Koufax, absolutely the greatest Dodger pitcher of all time and to me, the greatest major league LHP pitcher of all time.

    3. I had the pleasure of being at his perfect game (thanks Mom) when I was a teen. No one like him. He was and still is the best. Happy Birthday, Mr. K.

  11. DC, Thank you for your calming influence in your writing. Now if you could just talk me down from the ledge with regards to the stock market I’d be forever grateful.

    1. Rudy – not much help in that regard. However, I live by the Atlantic Ocean and sure enough every time the tide goes out it comes back in.

  12. Could you imagine having to face Koufax one day and Big ‘D’ the next… Player to mgr. ” I got this hammy that’s barking a little Skipper, need a blow for the next couple days”!!!
    Pretty bad day for me yesterday in the NCAA football playoffs… Notre Dame had a helluva year and I had 12 1/2 points and we ran into a beast… The Okies gave em a run, but Bama is from another planet, or as they call it, the SEC!!!
    Oh well, come on March Madness!!! Quickly followed by ST..
    As long as AJ is not in the running I’m ready to see what Gale could do…

  13. Sandy Koufax’s career spanned 12 seasons. Next year is Clayton’s 12th season. Barring injury he will have more wins and a better career ERA than Sandy. For 5 years in a row, Sandy was the best there was, but Clayton has been good to great for 11 years. His final legacy is TBD

    1. We can make the stats do whatever we want. For me wins are a team stat but unless I am reading it incorrectly Sandy did have more wins to this point – 165 to 153. His career was cut short by lack of medical care as players have now.
      .
      Sandy has pitched more innings – 2324.1 to 2091.1 and faced more batters 9497 to 8252.
      .
      In post season play there is simply no comparison.
      .
      Clayton does have a better ERA – 2.39-2.76 playing in an expansion age that Sandy didn’t. Clayton also has a better WHIP – 1.005 to 1.106.
      .
      I think we will have to see how Clayton finishes to finally judge but unless he can win in the post season he won’t replace Sandy in my heart.

    2. I was in the bleachers at Ebbetts Field the day Sandy
      had his first big K game, against Big Klu and the Reds.
      13, IIRC.

      1955, ’56?

      Took him a good long while before you could anticipate a game
      like that almost every outing.

  14. MT – This is an argument that will last for years… I’ve seen Gibson, Marichal and the list goes on and on… But I have never seen major lg. players look as silly as when Sandy was dealing…
    Just saying…
    P.S. Did any of you remember Houston Astro J.R. Richard???… Wow, he could pitch… Told Astro trainers he was not feeling right and was accused of malingering by the club and newspapers until he collapsed in the pen from a stroke…(of course being black didn’t help)……….. What might have been!??!

  15. Koufax40 shutouts, kershaw 15, koufax 386 ks in 216 innings, kershaw 301 in 232 innings Koufax was the most dominant pitcher of his time and maybe all-time. I f you had to win one game it would be koufax and that is not even close. If they were both in their prime and you were picking teams Koufax would be first pick and not even close. Kershaw has been consistently good but Koufax has been great!until kershaw can bring a World Series or dominate in a world series he will always be a guy who was an exceptional regular season pitcher who was a bust in postseason. Nobody fears kershaw he is more hype than results. Most on this board still talk about him being our number 1. Get real! In a must win situation I would rather have buehler, ryu, hill, you name them. Nobody would ever say that about Koufax. I know this was a happy birthday to Koufax not bash kershaw but there is no comparison whatever the stats say. Statistics are just one measure of a great player. When Koufax walked on the field you expected a shutout or a no-hitter he was that intimidating. When kershaw goes out there you hope he can give you a quality start.

  16. For a given game or a given season, Koufax was far superior to Kershaw. But give it the eyeball test. Koufax’ stuff was unreal.

    Do you think that Kershaw could throw a 2 hit complete game shut-out on 2 days’ rest in the World Series with only his fastball working?

  17. The argument for the ages! Kershaw or Koufax? For my money, I would take Koufax every time. I understand the statistics tell a slightly different story, but the statistics don’t necessarily take into account the differences in the game between that era and this one. It’s like comparing 1962 Tommy Davis with 2011 Matt Kemp. Who was the better player. I thought TD was about as good as they come until he got hurt. MK reminded me of TD, until he got hurt. If they played at the same time, it would be tough to choose between the 2.
    .
    Thanks for the nice post DC. I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to Rocky Gale being the back-up. I love his name, and he seems to have the respect of the pitching staff. Although, I think they may prefer a left-handed bat to complement Barnes.
    .
    I’m looking forward to both Grove and Cooper pitching this year. Zuniga and the Hernandez boys will also be fun to track.
    .
    I, for one hope they give Verdugo his chance to play.
    .
    Next 3-4 weeks we should see a lot happen. Minor league coaching staffs will be announced. Players will be signed to minor league contracts, with invites to spring training, and perhaps our questions will be answered as to how the team is strengthened.

  18. Koufax was the greatest (GOAT). When I was a kid and listened to all the Dodger games, every time Koufax pitched I expected a No Hitter. He we just something else and he played for those teams that couldn’t score runs, so he had to be at his best. I love CK but Sandy was the best.

  19. The question is if you needed one win who would you pitch; a no brainer really – KOUFAX!

    And quote all the stats you want, different eras, different hitters, not close really.

  20. I’ll say it again because some of you don’t get it. The first 7 years of Koufax’s career were not great, but in the last 5 he was better than anyone… ever. Compare Koufax’s and Kershaw’s worst years and you should appreciate Clayton. I’m not saying that he’s better than Sandy but last year was his worst since his Rookie Year and he had a 2.79 ERA. To say no one fears him is ridiculous! The Dodgers have the inside scoop and they just threw a $100 million at him becsuse they are stupid? Sandy beat Clayton in the playoffs but it’s a small sample. Clayton has almost 100 more post-season innings. 100! That’s a lot more exposure. I think Clayton has another Cy Young in him.

    1. Koufax’ CY’s mean more because as you know they only had one in the Koufax years.

      Additionally since the eras were so different, the teammates were different, the league was different, so therefore your not comparing apples to apples. Mute argument either way.

  21. It’s possible that when Clayton’s Career is over he may be the Dodgers GOAT if he can continue his level of play.

  22. OK here it is: if you ranked their best to worst years side by side and gave them 1 point for each season, who would have the most points?

    1. Mark I get what you are saying. I just don’t agree with your basis of comparison. What I am saying is that their careers are relatively comparable in length so right now they should be compared on the basis of what they have done with career stats. At least in my humble opinion. That is, as if Clayton’s career was over now. Sandy in his 12 years pitched more innings and faced more batters than Clayton has and Clayton won’t catch him in his twelfth year. Their samples on the mound at this point in Clayton’s career are not all that far apart.
      .
      I am not comparing Sandy’s worst years or best years with Clayton. To me that doesn’t make any difference. I am looking at career stats remembering that Sandy needed minor league experience but as a bonus baby couldn’t be sent down. That was outside of his control (no pun intended). That probably prolonged his career. I am simply saying at this point he has won more games and worked more on the mound than Clayton at a comparable time in their careers. Plus he has three rings.
      .
      I don’t think we can make a determination on what Clayton may do in the future. I hope he wins more Cy Young awards and gets a ring or two but that is to be determined. Right now I just look at their career stats. I think his claim to GOAT can only happen when he can overcome his WS drought.
      .
      Sandy’s postseason play was all in the World Series as there were no NLDS or NLCS games. His WS performance, including four complete games, looks like quite good when compared to Clayton’s, including WS innings pitched.
      .
      I for one certainly appreciate Clayton and want him to be a lifetime Dodger. It’s just that at this point he hasn’t been able to get to the top of the WS mountain with his performance regardless of sample size. Sandy did everything at the WS level that he could in the innings afforded him. Unfortunately Clayton hasn’t been able to do that – yet.

  23. Clayton has a hundred more post-season innings than Koufax. Just think what koufax might have accomplished with those innings. We will never know what koufax would have accomplished had he continued his career. But at the end of koufax career and at a comparable age koufax was at his best. Could he have gotten better? That would certainly be a tremendous bar to clear. I hope kershaw does win another cy young and as David Price did conquer his post-season demons. If he does become a dominant post- season performer then he might rank up there with koufax. Kershaw is not done so the book is not closed but at the moment I don’t think it is close. Kershaw has played with exceptional Dodger teams that have provided him with more post-season opportunities and look what he has done compared to what koufax did. Max scherzer has been the best pitcher in the league the last few years according to the cy young voters. Kershaw injuries have limited him in the last few years and the Dodgers have held their own or improved their record when he was out. Before his injuries he was a feared pitcher but although respected I don’t think teams fear he will dominate like scherzer. He had games with 3 or less strikeouts maybe efficient but hardly dominant. Anyway I hope for the sake of the Dodgers and kershaw he destroys the competition the next few years. Happy birthday Sandy the greatest!

  24. I have a friend (a Met fan) who has told me that Tom Seaver was a greater pitcher than Koufax. And I just look at him like he’s crazy. No doubt that Seaver had a longer career, and by that measure one could argue that his career stats were superior. And most likely the same argument will apply to Kershaw too.

    All that said, Koufax was hands down the greatest pitcher I ever saw. And I saw Seaver, Gibson, Marichal, etc., etc., etc. Unfortunately Koufax’s career was marred by a slow start that kept him from getting any minor league experience, starting in 1955, when he was only 19. And then there were the physical problems that ultimately cut his career short. Would Koufax have retired at age 30 if he had had the benefit of today’s advanced medical environment? Not likely, especially given the financial rewards enjoyed by today’s players.

    Maybe someone can clear this up for me. I seem to recalll that Koufax’s elbow problems began in 1964 when Walter Alston used him as a pitch runner at 2nd base, and that Koufax jammed his elbow while sliding back into 2nd on a pick-off attempt. Am I remembering correctly, or is my memory faulty?

    Bottom line: Some pitchers had longer, more successful careers, but none I ever saw could approach the greatness of Sany Koufax. Not even close.

  25. I’m just thrilled both of these guys (Kofax and Kershaw – Killer K’s) were Dodgers and my heroes! Comparisons just don’t matter for now, they are both beloved Dodgers. I think they are thrilled to be the lefty’s everyone admires.

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