More Bits and Bites

Happy New Year Dodger fans. At this point we are not sure what the new year will bring. However, we can be assured that it will bring something different, perhaps unusual, and no doubt unexpected. I for one propose that we give up on the Julian, Gregorian, Mayan, Aztec, etc., calendars and move on to a Dodger calendar. Everything revolves around the Dodgers. Oh heck, I guess for us it already does. I really do not know what the 40-man roster will look like even in six weeks’ time. I trust, without reservation, what the front office will come up with within the parameters that are set for them. They do have bosses and must proceed accordingly. I am not a big fan of platoons. In fact, I dislike them as a strict regimen according to analytics. I think it must be discouraging for a pitcher like Rich Hill who is working well in a game to not be allowed to face a lineup for the third time. I think it must be discouraging for a hot hitter to be taken out before his third or fourth at bat because he is on the “wrong” side of the plate. However, two consecutive World Series appearances suggests that someone knows much more than I do. 

Cody Bellinger:

 One thing I do know is that I want Cody Bellinger to be a full time first baseman. He is a gifted first baseman and I understand he is also a gifted center fielder. My preference is to use him where he will be handling more chances and making his fellow infielders better knowing they are free to throw to him from all positions and angles. I also know that right-handed first basemen are much more common than they used to be but I still like a left-hander at first base. I have a concern that Cody, who plays full out, will have an encounter with the outfield wall. I think at age 23 and making those all-important adjustments he is headed for a good year. He didn’t have a bad year in 2018 but he is getting ready to soar and playing regularly at first base will be to his and the team’s benefit. 

Josh Harrison:

 The Dodgers have apparently been linked to free agent Josh Harrison. He had passed through waivers at the trade deadline in 2018 but at that time was in the midst of an injury plagued season that limited him to 97 games and 344 at bats so he was not claimed. He is coming off the final guaranteed season of the four-year, $27.3 million contract extension he signed in April 2015. During his eight-year career he has played 397 games at second base, 266 at third base and 110 in the outfield. The 31-year-old right-handed hitting Harrison has hit .277 against right-handers and .279 against left-handers. He no doubt will be looking for a three or four year contract which may well eliminate him as a prospective second baseman for the Dodgers. 

Matt Beaty:

 Beaty was released by the Toros of the Dominican Republic Winter League after only 11 at bats .in which he had three hits. It isn’t as bad as it sounds. He became part of the numbers game in which MLB players are preferred in the DR league. His wife Jessica explained. 
“But winter ball especially in the DR and especially with the Toros is all about big league names.  Each team can only have 10 imported players on the roster, and the week Matt was released they needed his spot for a pitcher and were also activating Hunter Pence and Yunel Escobar.Matt was the only position player (outside of one of two catchers) of the imported players who doesn’t have big league time.”It also didn’t help that Matt had originally signed a contract for the first half and the Dodgers vetoed that so were lucky to even still get a spot at all. The GM was super nice and said he hopes Matt can come back next year.At the end of the day, we had a great experience both at the baseball games and at the resort. The resort was beautiful, and the team did everything to accommodate our needs during our stay. Matt got work in for three weeks which was another important thing.” 

Bobby Witt Jr:

 Remember right-hander Bobby Witt who spent most of his career with the Texas Rangers. His son, who is a shortstop at Coleyville Heritage High School in Texas, is ranked first or second in most mock drafts for the 2019 First-Year Player Draft. Dodger prospect Cody Thomas is an alumnus of the same school. 
    “As a rising junior a summer ago, Bobby Witt Jr. was one of the youngest players selected to participate in the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field. Though he went 0 for 2 in the contest with a strikeout, his performance that week in front of dozens of scouts left a deep impression, as the 6-1, 185-pound shortstop solidified himself as possibly the best position player in the prep class of 2019. He combines raw power from the right side of the plate with top-end speed in the field, which gives him spectacular range at short. His frame could easily support another 10-15 pounds, leading scouts to believe he could hit for above-average power at the big-league level. Witt also has great bloodlines, as his father, Bobby Witt Sr., played nearly 16 seasons in the big leagues for eight organizations. He’s committed to the University of Oklahoma, but should he be taken where most expect him to be.”

Nathan Witt:

 Nathan is not a relative of the aforementioned Bobby Witt Jr. He was born in Clarkston, Michigan and attended high school in his hometown. He was selected by the Dodgers in the 17th round of the 2017 First-Year Player Draft. He had just one year of college ball at Michigan State University whose most famous alumnus might just be Magic Johnson. With the Spartans he did not post flashy numbers recording a 4.37 ERA over 22.2 innings pitched while striking out 19 and walking eight as a redshirt sophomore. Perfect game posted this scouting report prior to the 2017 draft: 
“A redshirt sophomore who often played the role of fireman for the Spartans out of the bullpen this spring, Witt is somewhat of a deep sleeper that some scouts are particularly interested in.  He’s still quite raw on the mound from essentially any perspective, but the XL-framed right-hander worked up to 95-96 mph with his fastball in most outings this spring; with good life to the pitch as well. Some scouts believe that as he continues to gain consistency with his delivery and more experience on the mound; Witt might end up throwing even harder than he does now, especially in short bursts out of the bullpen. Michigan State does a tremendous job of developing pitchers; so either way, Witt is likely to take another step forward in 2018.”
 He didn’t return to SMU for his junior year and his progress at the professional level has been slow with only five innings pitched in 2017 which is not unusual for a pitcher in his draft year. However, he pitched only 13 innings in 2018 posting a 3.46 ERA with 14 strikeouts and six walks. Maybe as a sign of things to come he finished his 2018 season by allowing one earned run over 10 appearances through eight innings while striking out eight and walking two. I certainly would like to see him begin the 2019 season with the Great Lakes Loons but there may not be room until later in the season. I don’t think the short season rookie league would be his best option.

This article has 35 Comments

  1. Interesting on Harrison, but I agree that if he wants a multi year deal, he won’t be in LA.
    Bum, from the last thread, happy new year to you as well! (as well as the rest of you). Bum, drinks on me when Joc is traded to Detroit or Cleveland!

  2. I agree. Cody is maybe the best 1B in baseball. Leave him there. Muncy can play and adequate 2B and Kike can back him up.

    With Corey and JT at SS and 3B, the Dodgers could afford to hide Muncy at 2B

    Give CT3 a full season in CF and he might be the equal of Cody there. I look for a big bounce back by Chris.

    Verdugo and Taylor can lead off against opposite sides of the plate. That leaves Barnes at C and a bounce back candidate.

    Finally Casty in LF.

    No pitchers…. yet!

    1. Verdugo’s numbers at AAA against righties are not close to his numbers against lefties.

      His numbers against lefties is where he is outstanding, so why would you take him out of the lead off position against lefties?

  3. I agree. Put CT3 in CF. His fielding percentage with 159 chances was .987 while Cody’s was a similar .986 in 145 chances. Both had three assists. Cody may have more range and may read the ball off the bat better but CT3 will improve in that respect if played there regularly. Chris is athletic and plays like an athlete. He probably can’t extend his range to Cody’s level but with an improved offense that won’t be a significant factor. He will catch what he gets to.

  4. I agree on Bellinger. Leave him at first.
    Not as certain about CT3 in center. He’s okay defensively, but his worst offensive numbers are when he plays there. For me, he’s better suited for left.
    No to Harrison. We already have too many others like him.
    Hope both Beatty and Witt have great years of development.

  5. Jeff Passan, now with ESPN, has identified both the Phillies and ChiSox as two teams willing to guarantee 10 years for Bryce Harper. In his most recent article Passan wrote:
    “Harper has met multiple times with representatives of the Washington Nationals, according to a club source, and the possibility of a return to the place he spent the first seven years of his career persists, despite Nationals owner Mark Lerner’s insistence that Washington would not stretch beyond the $300 million offer Harper rejected near season’s end. The Phillies and White Sox are the other two teams known to be willing to guarantee Harper the decade-plus-long deal he and Machado, each 26 years old, are seeking.”
    He also had some very interesting comments on both the current FA market and trade market. Here is the entire article:

  6. I like Cody a lot at 1B and he is a good CF who would improve with more work there. He also said that he prefers the OF to 1B. He plays a lot of CF because the team has not developed or acquired a legit CF. Verdugo can play it but lacks the speed, same as Joc, Kike can play it but does not go back on the ball well-he is a better IF. Taylor can play it and would also improve with more time there-he is an excellent LF. I see a Joc/CT3 platoon in LF this year with Cody in CF and Verdugo in RF and Muncy at 1B and Kike at 2B (barring more moves). Muncy did all of his damage with only 395 AB’s last year and they need to get him 600 AB’s this year and most will be at 1B.

    Comparison time-2018:
    Castellanos: AB-620-H-185-BA-.298-HR-23-RBI-89-OPS-.854-WAR-2.9-Contract-3rd year arb-2020 FA Age 26
    Haniger: AB-596-H-170-BA-.285-HR-26-RBI-93-OPS-.859-WAR-6.1-Contract-final pre arb year. Age 27
    Muncy: AB-395-H-104-BA-.263-HR-35-RBI-79-OPS-.973-WAR-4.2-Contract-final pre arb year. Age 27

    My point is that Muncy had ridiculous power numbers with 200 fewer AB’s than the others. Haniger is actually a good comp straight up for Muncy but probably neither team would make the trade. Castellanos with 1 year team control at $11M plus projected is not a good comp-Muncy is more valuable based on salary, control and numbers. I would love to have Castellanos but he will be a FA in 1 year and a platoon of Joc/CT3 would produce similar numbers. If Muncy goes then either Kluber or JTR better be coming back.

    Best trade for Nick: Joc, Stewart and Rios

    1. Seattle was good last year but not good enough to compete in the playoffs and that was with good albeit aging players. They minor league system was ranked last. They traded Paxon, their best pitcher assuming King Felix is now just Felix. They traded Diaz, perhaps the best closer in baseball.
      Their rotation is only okay and does not have a plus fastball in it.
      If Bellinger played first instead of CF, Muncy would have to play second or be traded. If traded, why not offer him to Seattle along with Maeda, and Alvarez. At some point Seattle has to say yes to the Dodgers and give them Haniger. Do the Dodgers have to add Stewart?
      Haniger can play CF but if he is kept in RF then Verdugo could be included in a trade for Realmuto or Kluber.
      In regards to Casty, I say patience grasshoppers.

  7. Cody – I thought I read that he prefers first base to the outfield. Can anyone confirm, one way or the other? Interesting trade idea for NC. Not even close to what the Tigers are asking, but probably a lot more fair. After all, we’re still only talking about 1 year of control for him.

      1. Thanks. I’ve been one of those people who preferred Cody at first base, but now that I see he prefers the outfield I may have to change my mind. If and/or until we get a really great centerfielder, I’m OK with keeping Cody out there. He is certainly no slouch in center.

  8. This team’s biggest weakness last year, was being able to get hits when runners were in scoring position.

    And they were so bad in these situations last year, it was a historical low.

    And right now, Verdugo is only difference with this line up, and he is was not good in these situations in AAA either.

    In his few chances at the major league level, he has not been good too.

    And the platoon most people have in left, with Joc and Taylor, are going to have trouble producing as well, as Kemp did last year.

    Joc and Taylor in 210 chances combined, only hit in 74 runs.

    While Kemp in 119 chances, hit in 64 runs.

    And we know Taylor struck out almost 35 percent of the time in these situations too.

    We do have a new hitting instructor and a new approach, but our new hitting instructor is not a miracle worker.

    He could make a difference with some of our hitters, but it isn’t as easy to teach a player how to hit in the clutch, as it might seem.

    And teaching hitting in general, is not an easy thing to do.

    We need at the least, a very good bat, and two would be even better.

    1. Castellanos does have much better numbers when runners were in scoring position last year, then the platoon of Joc and Taylor, but not as good as Kemp was last year.

      Although Castellanos does have good numbers against lefties.

      But I am always afraid of trading for players from the American League to the National League.

      Because of the adjustment issues most players have, from moving from one league to the next, with all new pitchers.

      As well, as players that have not played on a team in a pennant race.

      1. Not for DJM. I know one does not make a trend. And I recognize that he was not a deadline trade, but Ben Zobrist seems to be doing fine in Chicago. Not every hitter is Josh Reddick or Logan Forsythe. I do not count Dozier since he was hurt last year.
        I am sure there are more examples of both positive and negative results. Sounds like a study for me.

        1. AC: Just FYI about Josh Reddick. He was more than terrible the first month he played for us. BA-.161; OBP-.223; OPS-.396 for August 2016. However for Sept/Oct: BA-382;OBP-417; OPS-.961. He also hit .308 in the PS.
          Most people believe he stuck for the whole time he was with us and that just isn’t so.

          1. I have made that point multiple times. Most people just think Reddick was a mess from the get-go thru the playoffs, so I go along with it. Just like most do not remember Brett Anderson had a decent 1st year with the Dodgers. Sometimes it is best just to let it go. I was not emotionally invested in either of them.

      2. MJ:

        Those are the two things MT tends, with his native optimism, to
        dismiss. Can the guy adjust quickly to a new league’s, a new division’s
        arms; can he play well under big-city pennant pressure? I admit
        MT makes an intriguing case for Nick. I don’t think anyone knows
        the answer to those two questions.

        Even within league: my big questions about Yasmani at trade time:
        even if his offense is anywhere near MT’s projections (and they
        occasionally were, in some categories, though he was never a big
        moment guy with the bat, and did not regularly reflect the optimism)
        can he catch the ball, can he throw out guys, and can he play at a high
        level, under pennant pressure, as the season winds into the playoffs,
        in a big city?

  9. Alex Verdugo splits for 2017 & 2018.
    RISP w/2 outs – 96 PA – .337/.385/.573/.958
    vs RHP – .317/.384/.430/.814
    vs LHP – .280/.371/.421/.792
    RISP w/2 outs – 79 PA .284/.392/.343/.736
    vs RHP – .297/.368/.435/.803
    vs LHP – .368/.410/.509/.919
    Source – Baseball Reference
    It does not appear that Alex is overly troubled hitting with RISP and 2 outs or hitting against RHP or LHP. He has nothing left to prove in AAA and deserves his shot as the everyday RF. My guess is that he will start out near the bottom of the lineup to prove he can consistently hit MLB pitching, and then move up. He has very little pop, so 6, 7, & 8 are his logical spots unless he leads off. For right now, I think that should be CT3.
    Verdugo turns 23 on May 15. He was 4.4 years younger than the average AAA player last year.

    1. AC

      First I didn’t say he didn’t deserve his chance.

      Secondly I wasn’t talking about RBIs with two outs.

      This team has had trouble getting hits when runners were in scoring position in general, let alone with two outs, and they were even worse, with two outs.

      And by the way, Verdugo’s numbers when runners were in scoring position last year in general, were not much better then the numbers you posted for 2 outs.

      And actually is OPS in general was lower then the 736 you posted there.

      Clutch hitters, hit much higher then their regular numbers, in these situations.

      And Verdugos numbers goes way down in these situations, not just with two outs.

      Look at the difference of his regular numbers, to his numbers in these situations.

      There is a big drop.

      Toles has only played two seasons in the last 4 years, and his numbers against righties and especially in these situations, is much better then Verdugo’s.

      Toles OPS in these situations is in the 1000s, and he hit 350.

        1. Are those at bats right?

          He only had 99 at bats total, when runners were in scoring position, so that seems high.

      1. I am not sure what you are actually trying to convey. It sounded like you did not think that Verdugo hit well with runners in scoring position in AAA, and yet his numbers are fine. That was my point. The number of RBIs is not always indicative, as it does not explain who was on base. For instance, Verdugo came up 4 times with runners on 2nd and 3rd last year and was 4 for 4, with only 5 RBIs. However, Toles was 4 for 10 with runners on 2nd and 3rd, and got 8 RBI’s.
        If you are trying to compare Verdugo to Toles, you will not find many who believe Toles is a better option than Verdugo, Right or wrong, the Dodgers FO, and I would guess that 29 other GMs, would take Verdugo over Toles. Baseball scouts and decision makers consider Verdugo a better prospect. You may not agree. Also Toles is 4 years older than Verdugo. Toles has 231 MLB ABs while Verdugo has 100. Neither one has played enough at the ML level to make any final determinations, good or bad.
        If you want to argue that Toles is more deserving than Joc, you would have a better argument (except with Bums). Joc has the power that neither Verdugo or Toles possess. If the Dodgers get another OF (especially a LF), someone is going to be moved.
        Verdugo is not a CF, but has excellent instincts and reads the ball off the bat extremely well. His arm is rated a 70 out of 80. Toles is considered to have a below average arm (40 out of 80 as a prospect), so he is a LFer. It is going to be tough for Verdugo as a corner OF because he does not have the power that teams look for in a LF or RF. But he has a 60 hit tool, and that is hard to come by.
        If you want to tout Toles, I am not going to argue, but Verdugo is a legit RF and should start for LAD in RF in 2019. I hope Toles is still with LAD in 2019, and gets a fair shot for LF along with Joc. But it is just as possible that one (or both) may not be with LAD come ST.

        1. AC

          I am taking all the numbers from last year in consideration.

          I understand the fact one hitter may have more runners on base, in one at bat, that can add up.

          But the numbers sure back the difference of success in these situations

          I can’t look up stuff on that site you mentioned on my iPhone.

          But those two out at bats seem like they are to much, especially if Verdugo only had 99 at bats, when runners were in scoring position all year, but I could be wrong.

          I was only using Toles as a measure, to Verdugo’s age, because he hasn’t played that much in the last four years.

          I know Toles arm is not as strong, but he does have a decent arm, look at Fangraphs.

          And I was not saying Verdugo shouldn’t get a chance.

          But people are going to have some high expectations for Verdugo.

          And we can’t expect him to do the job Kemp did in those situations.

          Are you really satisfied with this roster as it is?

          I liked your suggestions to make this team better.

  10. I know we were all excited about the Shane Peterson signing (not trying to be snarky. I actually was. My daughter went to LBSU, so I root for the Dirtbags), but the Dodgers also signed RHP Eric Carter, recently released by the Cardinals. Nice Milb stats, but I’m sure he is just filler. The also resigned Daniel Corcino and SS Joel Ibarra (for whom I could find no stats). Off season is not yet complete, but we’re making progress. If these signings were previously posted, please forgive me, as I must have skipped over them somehow.

    1. These are just the beginning. The Dodgers sign a lot of AAAA players to play at AAA to give their youngsters more time to develop in a league where they can get success. They will push those they expect to be stars, but will take their time for the complimentary pieces to become more developed.

      1. Even though I know their role in the overall scheme of things, I still hope for the player’s sake that something clicks and they perform at such a level that they have to be considered for the “show.” The odds are heavily stacked against them, but knowing how much time these young men have invested chasing their dream. As you know from watching your son, AC, it is a very difficult life in the minors, and many players, who could, or should have, made majors are passed over for bonus babies and the like. And yet they press on. I have a great deal of admiration for these players and I quietly root for their success.

  11. I wish the Dodgers office told us once and for all that they are not going to hire any important player, and that they plan to wait until the trade deadline to know exactly what they are going to need, and so not be waiting every day for any news!!

  12. I look for verdugo to have a big year hitting. I don’t think he will fold under pressure. I can’t remember the exact times but he had some good quality at bats in clutch situations last year. You get the feeling he will put the bat on the ball in any situation. I remember against Jordan hicks he battled that 100plus fastball while others took 3 and sat down. Some guys hit better against mlb pitching. I recall Corey seager hitting better in the majors than the minors. While I don’t dispute MJs numbers or reasoning I think verdugo has a talent that most of the Dodgers players didn’t have and that is putting the bat on the ball. I also believe he is a confident player who at his age has a lot of future growth. He is cheap, he is under control, he is young, he definitely is solid offensively and defensively, he has a track record of hitting, he has future upside so I believe he will stay and start the bulk of the time. He lacks power currently but he is capable of doing damage with the extra base hit and the long ball when he gets his pitch. We just need a good rh bat or good hitter to go along with him and bellinger.

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