Different Perspectives

Editorial Note– This was written before the massive Russell Martin deal went down, and I did not want to consider this post to be like Kemp, Puig, Wood, and Farmer and just dump it. The written word is a strange thing.  One reader will read comments one way and another reader another way, and yet the writer had a totally different reason for the comment. The most recent example is Brian Dozier. Brian Dozier signed a one-year deal with the Nationals for $9MM.  The comments were more along the lines of he isn’t worth $9MM and were glad that Freidman didn’t pay $9MM for Dozier.  I was not on the Brian Dozier bandwagon.  I never have been. But $9MM for one year for a 2B who was arguably the best power hitting 2B in all of MLB as late as 2017 isNOTtoo much.  That is how FA works.   A player gets paid more for when they are less productive. GM’s (or as some are now called President – Baseball Operations) look at WAR to determine if the contract is worth the dollars.  1 WAR is considered comparable to about $8MM in salary.  I do not consider 32-years-old to be too old to compete and perform at a 1.1 WAR level.  Now is he a fit for the team is the real question, not is he worth $9MM, because he truly is (IMO). It is certainly arguable that Dozier was a fit for the Dodgers.  It was a one-year contract for a potential 20 HR former GG 2B who played hurt last year.  If you believe that Gavin Lux is a year away from competing for the everyday 2B job in 2020, then one year at $9MM for an everyday position player is not out of lineUNLESSyou have better options.  Most think that CT3, Kike’, or Max are better options.  One could make a solid argument for such a case.  I see CT3 and Kike’ as utility guys like Marwin Gonzalez or Ben Zobrist.  So, I would feel much more comfortable making those comparisons than to a permanent 2B. I wouldn’t even make a phone call to Marwin Gonzalez’s agent, not because he is not a good player, but because the Dodgers already have 2 of him. So, while I may not think that Dozier is the right fit for LAD, I do think the Dodgers would be better with a full time GG defensive 2B.  Someone say… like DJLM.  But that is now moot.  The Dodgers will be going with Kike’ or CT3 at 2B.  Some will be happy.  Others will not be.  But NYY is stronger today than they were Thursday, and the Dodgers are not. Where many of us get frustrated is not that Friedman did not sign Dozier, but that another team did to get better, and Friedman thus far has not.  He still may. I have been advised that there are still a lot of days between today and March 28, but the options are running thinner.  And someone please remind me of the last significant player personnel the Dodgers acquired in ST.  Contrary to some, I can be frustrated with Andrew and still believe he has done a great job to get the Dodgers to where they are.  Mark likes to say do not look at what a player has done in the past but look at what he may do in the future.  Good theory, and something to follow.  But that also goes for FO management.  Yes, Friedman has done a fantastic job at rebuilding the minor league system while staying in contention, including back to back WS.  In 2017, FAZ put together a team that should have won the WS.  However due to their stars, including a future HOF LHSP, the team crashed and burned on the big stage.  That is not on Friedman, that is on Kershaw/Jansen/Doc.  I include Doc because of how he handled (mishandled) the pitching.  He still has not figured Hill out.  That is not a knock on Doc.  Even if Doc does not consider it one, we all make mistakes. That is why God created erasers.  I have a bunch.  The hope is that we all learn from them.  But I digress. For the record, I am not as frustrated with Friedman as much as I am with the ownership group.  I believe they are advising Friedman as to what his budgetary ceiling is.  Friedman is trying to put the best team on the field with his budgetary constraints. Instead of getting better for 2018, Friedman stood pat.  Oh, he did trade for Scott Alexander to make up for the loss of Brandon Morrow.  How did that work out?  And he was able to get under the luxury tax threshold.  Does that make the 25-man roster better?  The two players I wanted most last Winter were Gerrit Cole (#1) and Christian Yelich (#2).  I have said it so many times that most are sick of hearing it, but the Dodgers absolutely could have put together better packages for both players, and neither one would have presented a CBT threshold problem with some very easy maneuvering.  But they stood pat and went backwards; unless you do not consider going from 104 wins to 91 as going backwards.  They may have tried to make those trades but were unsuccessful.  We will never know for sure.  What we do know is that they were fortunate to win the NL West and they were fortunate that they were in a very lackluster NL, and still almost lost to a Milwaukee Brewers squad without great starting pitching, but a solid offense and a tremendous bullpen.  The Dodgers were overmatched in the WS.  No it is no longer important for me just to get to the WS.  I want to win it. I know some will say that the Dodgers lost because of the loss of Seager.  I have certainly alluded to that.  But with the addition of Machado, during the season most on here believed that the Dodgers should have pursued him on a permanent basis and moved Seager to 2B to make room for the great Manny Machado.  Would Seager have made the difference in the WS? NO! The Red Sox were a better team.  Would the Dodgers have been better with Cole and Yelich?  Would they have been better with Cole OR  Yelich.  Would they have been better had they signed JDM instead of Boston? The answer to all three is yes.  There was no chance of the Dodgers signing JDM because of the CBT threshold, but Cole and Yelich were in play. So now we are on to 2019, and what has Friedman done thus far?  Sign Joe Kelly to help the bullpen.  I love this FA signing, and I believe the cost is fair.  But the trade of Puig/Kemp/Wood/Farmer does not make the Dodgers better unless they replace them with ML players who can play better than that trio did.  Some say that it was a salary dump.  I say nonsense.  It was a player dump.  The trade turns out to be Puig/Kemp/Wood/Farmer to Cincinnati for Jeter Downs, Josiah Gray, and $5.45MM.  That’s right, the Dodgers have saved in actual payroll a total of$5.45MM.  When the Dodgers agreed to send $7MM back to the Reds for Kemp, that brought the total Dodgers payroll cost in the deal to $35MM:  $23MM Bailey 2019, $5M Bailey option 2020, and $7MM for Kemp. They saved $40.45MM ($21.75MM Kemp, $9.7MM Puig, $9MM Wood).  So, this deal looks more like ridding the team of three potential headaches vs. saving dollars.  One positive thing that it did do is to save approximately $14.2MM in current year AAV.  But that means nothing if it isn’t spent.  Just think the Dodgers are paying Kemp $10.5MM to play for the Reds.  So if this does not convince you that staying under the CBT threshold is important to this ownership group, then consider the Russell Martin deal on Friday.  Bluto made a comment yesterday that made me scratch my head.  It wasn’t JUST that the Dodgers were paying Martin $3.6MM plus trading two prospects, but the $3.6MM turns out to have a zero impact on AAV.  Martin’s AAV is $16.4MM and that is what Toronto is including in the trade.  It is okay to overspend on a player, as long as it does not impact AAV?  Tell me again that the CBT threshold is not a factor in Dodger decisions. While the Dodgers stand pat (and that is being generous), the Nationals have gotten much better with the addition of Patrick Corbin (LHSP), Anibal Sanchez (RHSP), Yan Gomes (C), Kurt Suzuki (C), Trevor Rosenthal (RHRP). They did lose Tanner Roark but did pick up a hard throwing RHRP in Tanner Rainey.  They are also the favorite for Harper.  They are certainly not one bit afraid of exceeding the CBT threshold. The Cardinals traded for Paul Goldschmidt without hurting the 2019 team, and signed Andrew Miller.  Andrew Knizner is a better backup catcher than Carson Kelly, so their catching is better.  If you believe the Dodgers SP is deep, take a look at the Cards…Mikolas, Flaherty, Martinez, Gant, Gomber, Poncedeleon, Hudson, Reyes.  That leaves former Ace Adam Wainwright in the bullpen with a full year of Chasen Shreve, and Jordan Hicks, and any of the SP not in the rotation.  Many believe Flaherty is as good as Buehler.  Dodger fans may not agree, but Cards’ fans believe he is. The Braves have gotten better with Donaldson at 3B and McCann at catcher.  They will find a replacement for Markakis, if not Markakis himself.  They are also in on Realmuto, and they are in a much better position to meet the Marlins’ demands than are the Dodgers.  They are also one of the favorites to land Kimbrel, making their biggest weakness a strength (at least for the next 2-3 years). The Phillies have gotten better with Jean Segura (SS), Andrew McCutcheon (LF), David Robertson (RHRP), Juan Nicasio (RHRP), James Pazos (LHRP), and the loss of Carlos Santana allowing Rhys Hopkins to move to 1B.  They already had a strong bullpen with Seranthony Dominguez as closer, and Hector Neris, Pat Neshek, and Tommy Hunter to handle middle relief.  They have always been the favorite to land Machado.  Now it appears to be a 2-team race…Machado and ChiSox.  ChiSox will not go 10 years, but Philly will.  They are also meeting with Harper on Saturday.  They are bound to get one of them, if not both. The Brewers are better because of the maturity of Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes in the rotation.  Plus, the return of Ace Jimmy Nelson.  Grandal helps that pitching staff.  Ben Gamel is a better situational OF than is Domingo Santana.  They are counting on Alex Claudio returning to his pre-2018 seasons when he was at times dominant for Texas.  They are also in on Keuchel and Moustakas. NYY – Re-signed Zach Britton, JA Happ, and CC Sabathia.  Signed Troy Tulowitzki.  Signed DJLM.  Their offense was already solid (better than solid) and got better.  Sanchez cannot get worse, and has proven that he can be much much better.  Their bullpen is the best in MLB.  They should be the favorite in the AL.  With the DJLM signing, they are now $12.5MM over the CBT threshold.  So, neither the Yankees or Red Sox seemed to be hampered by the luxury tax, but it seems to be a significant strategy for LAD.  Now Andujar is a trade potential, making the signing of DJLM a luxury and not a need. I could include the Mets, but with their improvements, I still do not think they are a legit contender in the NL East much less the NL.  But they could certainly surprise with a rotation of deGrom, Thor, Wheeler, and Matz, and a bullpen of Diaz and Familia. Again, it’s not that the Dodgers did not sign Dozier (or DJLM or Lowrie), it is that they have done nothing to improve while their competition (especially in the NL) has gotten better.  It could be argued that the team is not as good as the one that took the field in 2018.  I know that is refuted by those who think that the all of the Dodgers will have career years, while the other teams will go backwards.  Dozier may not have helped the Dodgers, but he will the Nats.  Ramos would certainly have helped the Dodgers, but instead he is helping the Mets.  I am convinced that DJLM would have helped the Dodgers.  Keuchel will not help the Dodgers, but he will the Phillies or Brewers or Reds.  Corey Kluber would have helped the Dodgers. So for those who advise that there is still plenty of time to spend that $24MM, please let us know who might be a target.  Realmuto or Kluber?  Not likely since neither the Tribe or Fish seem to want to come down on their asking price.  There may be more urgency for JTR, but there are a lot of potential trade partners, several of whom will certainly be in a position to outbid LAD.  I see another Cole/Yelich scenario.  Pollock?  Don’t think so since he would cost the Dodgers the #31 overall pick next draft.  Harper?  I still cannot see that happening, but you may be right.  Castellanos?  It will not be Verdugo because Andrew is not about to trade a 6 year controlled OF or a 1 year controlled OF.  The Braves are also in on Castellanos.  Kimbrel?  Don’t think so.   So while there still may be several weeks between now an Opening Day, the number of options to improve the team are dwindling. 

This article has 77 Comments

  1. Good post AC. We agree on a lot, disagree on a few and have a differet perspective on other issues. What the Martin trade does is give them flexability – they don’t have to trade for Realmuto. In fact, Diaz may be ready sooner than expected. The Dodgers still need a RH bat in LF like Castellanos.

    I honetly think that is all they need. Dealing Kemp, Puig and Wood frees up the salary for that bat. Could Friedman have moved those players another way? I’m sure, just as I am sure he talked to every other GM in MLB about it and took the best deal. Remember, that deal included what are now the Dodgers #7 and #16 prospects. Freidman continues to build the farm – that is a focal point.

    AC is right on about Dodger Ownership. I do not believe they will allow Friedman to go over the Luxury Threshold… and I think he is fine with that. I do not find it helpful to bitch about it. It is what it is. I have accepted it and the fact of the matter is that the team with the biggest payroll wins the World Series less often than other teams. I bitch about things that can be changed. Bitching about things that can’t be changed is neurotic. (This is not directed at AC – he isn’t bitching).

    Guggs and Company hold the purse strings. I think the Dodgers can play in that arena and field a World Series Worthy team. I do not believe Friedman is done building this team. I am also a huge fan of building with the youngsters. One only need to look at the Indianapolis Colts this year to see how young players have came together under a common goal. If you take away their kicker, Adam Vinatieri (46 years old), they are the youngest team in the NFL. The Dodgers will have some youngesters knocking at the door – it might be time to answer.

    AC mentioned that I might think the Dodgers will need players to have “Career years” and that is true. The Red Sox won the World Series with “Career Years” from JD Martinez, Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts plus a lot of timely play by “role players.” You need that to win it all. A couple of players with “career years” and timely play is what the Dodgers have lacked.

    The trade of Puig and Kemp will reduce the logjam in the outfield and likely JOC Pederson will be involved in a trade for a RH bat. I think Friedman wants less platoons and this is an indication of such. Also, the introduction of a new Hitting Culture is at the forefront of what Friedman wants to do. Let’s not forget that the Astros went from worst to best in strikeouts in 2016 to 2017. Friedman would like to see a big improvement in that area… and we know it is possible because it has already been done with a team that is as big into analytics as the Dodgers.

    I take solace on knowing Friedman is not done.

    Final question: Am I delusional to believe that Max Muncy should be the Dodgers 2B in 2019?

  2. I have a question:
    Anyone of you (I mean those who criticize Friedman) could secure which team among Nationals, Cardinals, Braves, Phillies, Brewers, Yankees, or even Mets will win the next World Series? I mean, since they made several hirings and trades, that makes them superior to LA? That makes them contenders, more than LA? That makes them sure winners of world series, more than LA? That makes them better teams, than Dodgers?

    Tell me please, which player would make L.A OBVIOUS AND ASSURED WORLD SERIES WINNER??

    No one can know that, do not you think it would be better to wait and see what the real need will be in the middle of the season? How many times have we seen several teams complain about having signed certain players to very high contracts, Greinke, Tulo, Wright, Cueto and many more (LA has seen it a thousand times before) and not win anything !!

    But, this is just my personal opinion, you all know much more than me about this ….

  3. I think AC summed up the current situation very well. I’m emotionally attached to Muncy, CT3 and Hernandez as much as anyone else, but if you’re thinking any of those three are a better 2b than JDLM you’re watching the game with your heart and not your eyes and brain.

    What is mostly frustrating to me is every off season the fans comment on players they would like to see the FO acquire only to see them settle for nothing or some serious lesser piece acquired that causes us to scratch our head.

    I’m not upset at Friedman as much as I
    Upset at Guggenheim
    For treating our mighty Dodgers, one of the iconic franchises in all of sports like a small market penny pinching operation. You would never see the Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals etc act this way. We’re better than this we’re the freaking LA Dodgers!

    I will be completely shocked if there are any more FA or trades made this off season, at least trades involving anyone with star power, but hey at least we do know Freidman is not done looking for the McCreerys, the Shultz’s the Scott Alexander’s of the baseball world. Underwhelming doesn’t even begin to describe my assessment of Friedman’s off season. Big time frustrating!

      1. No I wouldn’t trade Muncy for JDLM but Muncy is not an everyday 2B. He is a great team mate, a great complimentary piece but he is not an everyday 2B.

  4. Marky T, yes you are delusional to think that Munchy will be a second baseman unless he lost 20 lbs over the offseason and the Dodgers want yet another left handed bat in their lineup (Rios) because Freese is not a full-time first baseman.

    I’m not ready to agree with AC on this article until Harper and Pollock are signed. I think that CT3 is an every day player and should be just fine defensively at 2B. Stop looking at his DRS because small sample sizes are especially ineffective for defensive stats.

    I can try to argue that having Seager back, plus our players are on the upswing of their careers, new hitting coaches etc will make for a better team. But, I’m not quite that delusional. Over the course of a full season, we are worse without Grandal, unless Barnes returns to 2017 form. Kemp, Grandal and Puig all carried the team at times last year. Can Verdugo or Toles put up an OPS+ of 120? If so, we have the loss of Puig covered. Right now it looks like Kike has to be the right handed part of the Joc platoon. Is that going to be better than Kemp? Maybe, but that sure leaves a big hole in the utility department. So yeah, it appears that we are weaker at three positions and depth as it stands right now. But, our starting pitching is better with Ryu healthier by being further removed from injury, Hill’s blister problems solved finally with laser treatment, Bueller is a stud, and Urias after a month or so. The pen is better with Kelly and Jansen’s health and no “Slow Start aka (Lazy Spring Training). Maybe just putting Harper in Left and Verdugo in Right solves the loss incurred in the Farmer trade. If they do nothing, you are absolutely correct that this team is worse. Fortunately, the West is worse and there’s a ton of time before the trade deadline. And if we’re really fortunate someone from the farm bails us out, Lux, Rios, Ruiz, Smith, Peters? But, I don’t really think that’s going to happen.

    With that said, I will reiterate that I’m not giving up hope. JTRM hasn’t been traded, Harper, Machado and Pollock are still unsigned and all them were best fits for this team at the beginning of the off-season. Well, not Machado, but you get the point. The off season isn’t done yet. But then again, I probably said this last year and we wound up with Kemp.

  5. The ownership and throw kasten in there. Regardless of what they spew out they are about profit. Kasten is comfortable in having a solid team, good farm, and a team that is competitive over the long haul. After all with the braves that is what he did. These people are business people who try to provide a good enough product to line their pockets. AC I think it was a great article. If nothing else Friedman understands finances. The ownership has to be elated that we are competitive, we are frugal, and we can stay relevant for awhile. Many talk about how we had such a high payroll. Sure that was to make us relevant immediately and now we are seeking the blue light special market so they can get healthy financially. Friedman is just following the desires of ownership. Under Friedman the dodgers have blown enough money in the international market, the Kazmir,Anderson , types to have signed a few quality players. In that respect he reminds me of McCourt, overpay for a mediocre player because no one else will sign them and then act like they are good. Chances are we could have been to another World Series but when it came time we lined up Anderson and McCarthy in the rotation. Yeah how did that go. Nobody does that if they seriously think they will win. While Friedman seems to be great at finances his trades for the most part at the deadline have been bad, or haven’t worked out like we hoped. Most of the trades leave you thinking what? Usually indifferent. He did sign fan favorites Kenley, turner, and kershaw. Turner is an overachiever who he got cheap relatively speaking about this market. Kershaw and kenley have not performed in the World Series and that is an understatement. I was surprised and in favor of signing machado but that just didn’t turn out but still the best option. I am grateful that the Dodgers are relevant and are in the hunt annually. The Dodgers organization and team are really good but not World Series good. If insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results Friedman has doubled down. We are not going to win a World Series unless we get a pitcher who pitches like an ace. We may have that in buehler but he has to be used that way. We need an ace. I really don’t see much changing here but what is here is very good but not….well you know.

    1. Turner was already with the Dodgers before Friedman. Turners last signing wasn’t what I’d say was cheap, though he’s worth every penny.

  6. You may be right.

    I may be crazy, but I just may be the lunatic you’re looking for…

    I think Max Muncy can be an adequate 2B, especially if you have Gold Glove Caliber fielders at every other IF position, namely Turner, Seager and Bellinger.

    1. So, your outfield is CT3 in CF, Verdugo in RF and Kike Pederson in LF? Taylor is a better 2B than Munchy and 1B is not as important of a defensive position as 2B. Bellinger and CT3’s defense in CF is a wash. If this is correct, Munchy plays 1B, CT3 2B and Belli CF.

      Please tell me why you think defense is more important at 1B than at 2B.

  7. I would like a solid lefty killer bat in RF that plays good defense instead of Verdugo but I am content with the team as it is.
    I like CT3 and was probably the only one here that said he was a good fallback second pre-2017 if the Dodgers couldn’t trade for a stud second baseman. But he shouldn’t have had the troubles he had last year considering his age and number of years in pro ball. He has the range to play second base and should be better at second if given the work there in Spring Training.
    Kike’ is the utility player and potential platoon player with both Joc and Verdugo. I believe that if Joc only swung with power against righties and only tried to hit line drives up the middle against lefties, he would hit at least .240 against lefties with an OBP of .320+.
    Kershaw is the face of the Dodgers. They do not need a new or competing face such as Harper. Harper is eye candy, icing on the cake. It would be exciting to have him on the team. And if he were and the Dodgers could package Verdugo and Ruiz for something special and long term as a result of adding Harper, all the better. By special, I mean somebody like Blake Snell or Syndergaard. And yes, to get one of those types, the Dodgers would have to include at least Maeda and May.
    If the Dodgers are boring and win less than 85 games so be it. I will plat more golf and watch something else on TV.

  8. Awesome posts by everyone so far this morning covering both sides of our discussion/ debate. For the record:

    1) I trust (but not blindly) Friedman and Co to put a team on the field March 28 that should win the NL West again
    2) I trust Buehler to run away with the Ace-of-the-Dodgers job, and Urias to be a big impact come June to Oct
    3) I do NOT trust Kershaw in Oct whatsoever until he proves it, but for the regular season he and our staff will be fantastic.
    4) I do NOT think our catching situation is ideal, but I do expect Austin Barnes to be better than 2018 Austin Barnes.
    5) We’re set at 1b, whether it be Bellinger, Muncy/Freeze, or JT (if we somehow bring back Machado)
    6) I do NOT trust Kike with the starting 2b job; he’s had enough time to win a full time role and he’s never taken it. We have some solid options at 2b, however, so it’s not a back hole.
    6) We have a stud at SS, but only GOD knows if he can be who he was pre elbow AND hip surgery! CT3 better be ready to pay some SS just in case. I say SS is still a question until we see how Seager looks in March.
    7) JT, but for a fluke getting hit on the wrist in spring training in 2018, has been pretty durable for us. But at 34, he’ll need his weekly rest, so hopefully Freeze or someone else can be an effective fill-in 1-2x a week.
    8) We have good options in the OF, but none of them elite, unless Belly is the fulltime CF. Verdugo is a rookie so will he be able to win the job? Did CT3 get contact lenses in the offseason so he can actually see the pitch??
    9) I like our bullpen, and I like the kids who are on the verge of coming up for the bullpen.

    Today’s team isn’t a World Series team yet. But it’s plenty good enough to win the NL West. And the longer Harper/Machado, Pollock, etc stay on the market, the better it is for us. In the meantime, I”ll wait to criticize management until March.

    Oh, and go Rams!!

  9. Good article in today’s LA Times about Justin Turner. Here’s a quote from Justin; I guess he attends that “Church of Andrew Friedman” as well:

    Of the salary dump that sent outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to the Cincinnati Reds, Turner acknowledged, “It caught me off guard, obviously.”

    The Dodgers also traded left-hander Alex Wood and catcher Kyle Farmer as part of the deal. In exchange, they received two prospects and right-hander Homer Bailey, whom they promptly released.

    Turner said he doesn’t share the widespread concerns about the shortage of upgrades the Dodgers have made this winter.

    “I’ve been around these guys for enough years now where I trust what they’re doing,” he said. “Our guys, they’re not pulling stuff out of left field. There’s a reason for why they do what they do. Obviously, they haven’t made a corresponding move yet, but I’m sure there’s something in the works.

    “At the end of the day, I feel like when opening day comes, it will probably make a lot more sense to everyone than right now because I’m sure a lot of people are scratching their heads trying to figure out what’s going on.”

    Asked if he is a fan of free agent Bryce Harper, Turner responded, “I mean, yeah.”

    He laughed.

  10. This is epic and says a lot by what it doesn’t say:

    “I’ve been around these guys for enough years now where I trust what they’re doing,” he said. “Our guys, they’re not pulling stuff out of left field. There’s a reason for why they do what they do. Obviously, they haven’t made a corresponding move yet, but I’m sure there’s something in the works.

    “At the end of the day, I feel like when opening day comes, it will probably make a lot more sense to everyone than right now because I’m sure a lot of people are scratching their heads trying to figure out what’s going on.”

    I think some of the reason was the lockerroom. Maybe we learn more after the fact.

    We do know about Puig and that his teammates tolerated him, but I doubt any are sorry to see him go.

    We know that Kemp re-gained a lot of his weight.

    Now, I hear that Wood basically “went rogue” on his own and wasn’t receptive to coaching by Honey and Prior. That isn’t official, but I believe it to be reliable. I think it also involved his role or failure to accept such a role.

    1. Best quote…

      Obviously, they haven’t made a corresponding move yet, but I’m sure there’s something in the works.

      I think we all need to channel our collective energy and will the following moves into fruition
      Trade for either JTRM or Kluber or Both
      Sign either Pollock or Harper or Both

      If these happen, we are definitely a better team than last year and everyone can stop crying.

  11. At least one thing I feel certain of is we will get off to a better start than last season. With that I await to see if the ‘new approach at the plate’ shows what we all hope for. Offense was the biggest hole by far. And if the kids do better at the plate I think we’ll do much better than the gist of all fear. I am a bit worried about health issues and the DL. This team isn’t in better shape if injuries happen to any key players.

  12. You could certainly make the argument that at this point, on paper, the Dodgers are not as good as the 2018 team. But you could also make the argument that a healthy Turner/Seager and a much improved bullpen, not to mention starting rotation, will make them better in 2019. As far as the trade, the Dodgers had a glut of outfielders and that probably would have created problems this summer. Verdugo was blocked and the Dodgers are high on him. Kiki and Taylor need to play somewhere. Roberts said he didn’t feel second base was a priority going into 2019 with those two and Muncy available.

    1. I’m not so sure the Dodgers are high on Verdugo. But, everything else is right on. I’m wondering if the Indians want Verdugo as the center piece to Kluber / Bauer and the Dodgers want to secure an outfielder before they make that trade. Same for the Marlins and JTRM.

      As Mark pointed out, dumping Kemp, Puig and Wood were probably more about attitude than production. This is fine with me. I loved Puig, but was getting weary of his antics. There’s a fine line between keeping the clubhouse loose and being a side show. I do believe his teammates tolerated him.

      1. Obviously the Dodgers are high on him, hence why they ahvent traded him the last 3 years, if didn’t think highly of a player you would of traded him by now. It is pretty evident the Dodgers scouts, front office, etc all think of verdugo in a higher regard than most fans, which makes sense because that’s what they get payed to do. But when Alex starts exceeding everyone’s expectations, which on confident he will do, fans will forget all the stuff they said and praise the FO for believing in him.

        1. Not so obvious, perhaps they were waiting for him to develop some power that never came to fruition and now they are willing to trade him.

      2. 59inarow

        You mentioned some of the outfielders OPS + last year.

        OPS+ alone, doesn’t necessarily always show a player’s true production.

        This team’s biggest weakness last year, was not being able to hit when runners were in scoring position.

        And this same skill is even more important in the post season, as you know.

        The only player in the outfield last year, that hit well in these situations was Kemp.

        Kemp hit 350 in these situations, and OPSed in the 900s.

        And it was mostly Kemp and Grandal, that kept this team in the pennant race, in the first half of the season.

        We did have a lot of players that hit twenty HRs last year, but hitting 20 HRs doesn’t always equate to a lot of RBIs, and especially, quality, or key RBIs.

        Joc for example, hit 25 HRs, but 19 of Joc’s HRs were solo HRs.

        Joc was only 18 for 83 when runners were in scoring position last year.

        Kike hit 21 HRs, and 17 of Kike’s HRs, were solo HRs.

        Kike was 21 for 94 when runners were in scoring position last year.

        Both Kike and Joc, hit just above 200 in these situations, and both of their OPS in these situations, were in the 600s

        Taylor was 31 for 127 when runners were in scoring position last year.

        But Taylor almost struck out 35 percent of the time in these situations, last year.

        And Tayor did hit 16 HRs, but that is not enough HRs, to justify striking out more then any player in the National League.

        And I would have not traded Puig myself, but Puig was only 23 for 93 in these situations last year.

        But to Puig’s credit, 9 of Puig’s 23 HRs, were when runners were on base.

        And that is probably why even though Puig didn’t hit much more then 240 in these situations, his OPS in these situations was at least in the 700s.

        A lot of those solo HRs were hit, after the game was already over by the fifth inning.

        And that is why our score differential was so deceiving.

        Pitchers pitch much tougher, when runners are on base, and even tougher, when runners are in scoring position.

        Look at Joc’s and Taylor’s RBIs combined in these situations, and their combined at bats in these situations.

        Kemp almost hit in as many runs in these situations, that Joc and Tayor did combined, but in almost half the at bats.

        And these numbers are not reflected in a player’s OPS or OPS +.

        And hitters that perform well in these situations, should be getting more credit for their production, then they do.

        Our line up needed much more balance last year, because we had to many of the same type of hitters.

        Not to many hitters that hit around 250 or below, have better numbers in these situations.

        Although that is not always true, but it is mostly true.

        And not many hitters have a high OPS in these situations, if they don’t have a good or decent average, in these situations either.

        1. That is where Seager was really missed last year, he was good in those situations. And for all of Agons faults he was also good in those situations, he was an RBI guy.

          1. Vegas

            Remember Agone was the only one that got that hit against Chapman in the post season, against the Cubs.

        2. I totally agree that we had too many all or nothing types come the post season. I am a firm believer that you need to manufacture runs at times. And if you don’t do that all year, how can you be expected to do it in the post season? I would love to see more emphasis on batting average and have said so many times.
          A hit is better than a walk and should be valued accordingly. I miss the Boggs’, Gwynns, Bretts and Carews. I also love me some base stealers! They distract pitchers into making mistakes. But what we’re talking about is Situational Hitting, they all learn how to do it in High School, but none of our guys could hit a ball through the gaping hole from shifts. Most of baseball can’t, or won’t? But, that is a conversation for another time.

          You know, the team did lead the league in offense (Runs Scored), they also lead the league in OPS, they scored the forth most runs (in the NL) with runners in scoring position, but their average with runners on was 8th. So, you tell me, what is the better stat to use to judge hitting performance? Let me give you a hint, we went to the World Series (Best team in NL), we lead the league in runs and OPS.

          The Dodgers also had a tough time against lefties which the Red Sox exploited. But, we mostly lost because we couldn’t hold leads because our pen didn’t do their job and because Roberts is a dumb ass for pulling Rich Hill too soon, like he did the year before. And because he kept going to Madson with runners on, even though he allowed inherited runners to score each time he pitched in the WS. And because he wouldn’t play Kemp, who was the best clutch hitter we had last year. And because he kept hitting Kike even though Kike wasn’t hitting.

          We weren’t a bad team by any means last year. But, I agree that we need less all or nothing hitters. Maybe Verdugo is that guy. But, he sure didn’t look like it last year. The beauty of baseball is that it’s very hard to know how players will perform year by year. All GMs make mistakes by signing players that suck as times. All of us do as well.

          1. 59

            This team scored a lot of runs in games that were over in the fifth inning.

            Our run differential was very deceiving, so I don’t put much into this team leading the National League in offense.

            You know there were more games where this team couldn’t score a run until the seventh inning, and we lost a lot of those games.

            And there were constantly runners in scoring position, that were wasted, because hitter after hitter on this team, couldn’t pick these runners up.

            We didn’t even win the West out right, because of that deficiency.

            But you almost got me, because I was talking about our outfielders, not the team in general.

            About scoring the fourth amount of runs in scoring position.

            We did have some hitters on this team that hit decently average wise, and their OPS was good too, in these situations.

            But only Kemp hit that well in these situations, in the outfield.

            Cody was a little better in these situations, but nothing close to Kemp.

            But I was talking more about Joc, Kike, and Taylor.

            Like I already said, I wouldn’t have traded Puig.

            He only had one more year.

            I do have concerns about the outfield too.

            And I think we agree on more things then not.

            But I think the
            other three outfielders I mentioned, are questionable too.

            They are certainly no sure thing, so it isn’t just Verdugo, and Toles.

            And I expect a lot more from these other players, then I would, of Verdugo and Toles.

            Because even though Joc and Kike hit twenty HRs, it didn’t amount to that many RBIs.

            Because they are not good in these situations.

            Twenty HRs is not like it use to mean in baseball.

          2. 59inarow

            And you know I am not totally convinced about Verdugo either.

            But I am willing to give him a chance, because of the other outfield options, especially Joc and Kike.

  13. AC nice article and I agree with all your points.I do believe that Friedman is still trying to find a way to trade for Realmuto without including Bellinger. The trade for Martin just might be one of the peaces Friedman is trying to work out. To get Miami to forget Bellinger maybe Friedman could take Castro and his 12M ( a reason why they did not go after JDLM) and trade Barnes, and whoever the Dodgers and Miami can agree on not named Bellinger.
    I hope Friedman will still try and get Castellanos and even if it cost the Dodgers the #31 draft pick i would like to see Pollock in CF for the Dodgers.
    So if Pollock is in center, Castro at second, and Bellinger at first, where is Muncy?
    In Miami. Letś see what happens.

  14. As a former 1B in my youth, here’s why I believe that defensive excellence at 1B is more important than at 2B.
    First, the 1B handles far more throws from infielders than any other player and is responsible for more putouts than any other player, except possibly the catcher if there are a lot of K’s. These throws are made in great haste and may skip of the ground, go left or right of target, or fly high above the target at 1B and both speed and quickness are required. The 2B, on the other hand, only accrues putouts on the occasional DP, a attempted SB with a RHH at the plate our a runner attempting to advance to 2nd on a single to the outfield. As long as the 2B plays fundamentally sound BB, few PO’s should be missed due to the lack of speed.
    Second, the 1B and 2B are both responsible for handling cutoff throws from the OF and making strong accurate throws to 2b, 3b and HP, but the 2B generally only takes the throws from RF and the SS takes those from both CF and LF so the 1B has additional opportunities for success or failure.
    Third, any time a runner is on base, the potential for throws to the base will be there. While throws to second do occasionally occur, more often a feinted throw happens driving the runner back. Throws to first occur much more often and the ability of the 1B to handle errant throws in any direction has prevented numerous runners from advancing.
    Fourth, pop flies in short RF and foul pop flies on the first base side of the IF are often pursued by both the 1B and 2B but greater speed is required of the 1B since he needs to cover both the short OF area and the entire foul area near the stands.
    Finally, given the reliance on shifts in BB at this point, the role of the 2B is to cover the deep gap area between first and second for ground balls in the gap and short fly balls in the RF area to allow the RF’er to play deeper. the 2B has greater time to react and more time to get to these plays thus negating the need for as much speed. The shift also requires the 1B to assume greater infield responsibilities on soft ground balls to the right side out of the reach of the pitcher, making accurate throws to the P covering first and deciding what needs to be his responsibilities in a split second.
    This completes my diatribe on the greater need for speed at 1B versus 2B and answers 59’s question regarding this issue.

    1. Well stated, DD. Diatribes are commplace here.

      Have a take and do not suck, as Rome says!

      1. Denny, I 100% agree with you. And it’s why I really prefer having Bellinger at 1b over anyone else. He saves guys errors, he saves pitchers making extra pitches, and he saves all of us from having heart attacks.

        1. Denny

          I think Cody should be at first too, because he makes everyone else in the infield better.

          And I think he might also hit better.

          With all these shifts they have today, range does not carry as much importance, as it once did.

          And that is why I don’t see Muncy hurting us much at second, especially if his offensive production, is enough, to take a chance on him there.

    2. Denny, let me add my agreement for Cody at 1B. Most have already commented as to the reasons why, but I would like to make another point. When I look at minor league infielders, I concentrate on their ability to get to the ball and glove it. I do not pay as much attention to the errors due to throws. They are important, but many can be erased with a solid defensive 1B. Most minor league 1B are there because of their bat and not their glove. The Dodger minor league teams are full of those guys. But when you get a player who can play GG defense at 1B and slug, you have a must keep. Players like AGon, Goldschmidt, and arguably the greatest defensive 1B of all time…Keith Hernandez are more than just their bat. Cody Bellinger belongs in that group. One of the reasons I like AJ Pollock is because that ends any discussion for Cody being in CF.

    3. First base is where a player with the least range and weakest and wildest arm (think Garvey) are put when teams have to find a place to put an outstanding bat. But, Garvey was a very good fielder and saved a lot of runs and pitches with his glove.
      There was a time when many including Jon Wiseman wanted the Dodgers to sign/trade for Prince Fielder. I was totally against it due to his poor defense and apparent lack of control of temper. The Utley Rule has reduced the need for a second baseman to be a ballerina but range and quick hands are still required there more than for first base.

    4. Yep, in little league when you only had two guys that could field a ball as 8 year olds, the best defensive players played SS and 1B. But, as you keep weeding out bad players as you move up levels, you’re expected to be able to catch a ball that’s thrown to you. It’s the easiest thing to do in baseball. The first baseman is also responsible for the least amount of grass to defend. The second baseman is mostly responsible for pop ups in short right. The second baseman has to make the turn and tag out base stealers in most cases. They have to dive in the hole and throw back to first. There are very few first baseman that can play second base in the Majors, but many second baseman can handle first in a pitch (See Kike, Daniel Murphy, Robby Cano, Chase Utley). 1st base is the home of Frank Thomas, Prince and Cecil Fielder, Richie Sexton and a slew of others that are too immobile to play anywhere else. The old saying is defense up the middle (SS, 2B, CF, C) and power on the corners (LF, RF, 1B 3B). Those are words to live by. I respect your option, but I don’t agree with it and I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone on a MLB field that agrees with it. Sure, it’s nice to have a great defensive first baseman, but not at the cost of having someone that’s stiff and over weight like Munchy. Especially not when your first baseman happens to be your best center fielder.

    1. More “meh” than the Culberson Trade?

      Here’s the thing: Martin is capable of the following:
      1. Duplicating last season;
      2. Being worse than last season;
      3. Being better than last season; and
      4. Being a lot better than last season.

      I am not excited about the trade, but I am open to seeing what plays out.

      1. The Culberson trade last off-season?

        I thought that was a major win. Accomplished a major goal of getting out of repeater penalties.

        This is meh financially, meh performance wise. It makes sense as a bridge to the prospects, but is Martin at $0 better than Maldanado at $3.5mm? Meh.

  15. Martin is a double play machine. He is often hurt and that probably doesn’t improve with age. It would be hard to see him any worse than last year. He might be more motivated, new league, free agent year, likely playoff bound, professional environment, not expected to be a primetime player, etc. he could serve as a good backup if healthy but exp.ensive for that role. A predictable move. You wait until most everybody is gone and reach for a washed up player who will spend most of his time on the dL or not.the trade is really a nothing burger unless the prospects end up being good(Brito) This buys a little time if a deal becomes available. I hope he doesn’t bring any bad habits with him now that he is returning to la.

    1. Martin grounded into 7 double plays last year. He is not even close to the leaders in grounding into double plays.

      Look at the TOP 10 ALL-TIME IN GDP:
      1. Pulols
      2. Ripkin
      3. I-Rod
      4. Aaron
      5. Yas
      6. Winfield
      7. Murray/Rice
      8. Franco
      9. Cabrerra
      10. Baines

      Grounding into double plays, if anything, means you are pretty good!

      1. Martin has grounded into 189 FPS in 13 years including 22 in 2015.. he is not even close to the at bats that top ten has. He only had 7 last year in limited at bats but maybe he is getting a lot faster as he ages.

  16. In addition to the cost of signing AJ Pollock in $$, not only would the Dodgers lose the #31 pick, but they would also lose $500K in international money. I suspect the Dodgers value the international money as much as, if not more, than the draft pick.

    Mark, if you can post the content I would appreciate it. I am subscribed to the NYT and WAPO, among others, but not WSJ. Don’t care to subscribe to read one article.

    Read today that the Dodgers are still in on Kluber. Not sure if yet means anything or not.

    Still think the Dodgers could be in on Realmuto. I think someone up above suggested that the Dodgers might be able to work a deal if they agreed to take on Castro’s $12 million. I don’t know how realistic that is, but it’s certainly Something to consider.

    1. The full article (I pay too damn much for the WSJ not to be able to do this occassionally)

      Major League Baseball is the only major U.S. professional sport without a salary cap. But with the free-agent market stuck in a deep freeze for the second straight winter, there is debate about whether MLB’s “luxury tax” on big spenders has become one.

      The current version of the competitive balance tax, as it is officially known, has existed since the 2003 season. Its purpose is to prevent wealthy franchises from outspending their less lucrative counterparts to oblivion, without completely hindering their ability to pay top talent at fair value.

      Under the most recent collective bargaining agreement, however, something unexpected has happened: The CBT appears to have turned into a de facto salary cap, with a diminishing number of teams willing to cross it.

      That is stoking tension between the league and the players, some of whom believe the owners are using the tax as a convenient excuse to keep payrolls down. The situation is raising fear about a potential work stoppage when the current deal expires following the 2021 campaign.

      Just two teams—the Boston Red Sox and Washington Nationals—surpassed the luxury-tax threshold of $197 million in 2018, down from five in 2017, six in 2016 and four in 2015. Their combined penalty amounted to around $14.4 million, the lowest amount paid since 2003.

      “It’s become increasingly clear that some clubs are simply using the CBT as a justification for the historic and short-sighted inactivity in the free-agent market,” said Bruce Meyer, the recently hired senior director for collective bargaining and legal for the MLB Players Association. “Whether it’s become a psychological barrier or just a convenient excuse, the effects are the same and should concern players, fans and clubs alike.”

      MLB rejects that the CBT has suppressed wages, arguing that the players’ share of league revenue hasn’t changed. Deputy commissioner Dan Halem said that while the highest payrolls decreased in 2018, the median payroll increased, “leading to an unprecedented level of competitive balance in the sport all to the benefit of fans.”

      Nonetheless, at least some owners say the tax is a strong disincentive to overspending. “A lot of teams realize the penalty is pretty severe if you go over,” Houston Astros owner Jim Crane told MLB.com last month

      Because the Nationals also crossed the CBT barrier in 2017, they were assessed a second-time offender penalty totaling $2.4 million. The Red Sox were hit with high-roller surcharges for finishing with a CBT payroll of $239.5 million. Their final bill, even after paying a 62.5% tax rate on the $2.5 million above $237 million, came to $12 million, a relative pittance considering that the spending enabled them to win the World Series. (The first $13 million of luxury tax payouts fund player benefit plans, with the rest divided between teams that didn’t pay any luxury tax and player retirement accounts.)

      The penalties become more onerous for teams that spend like the Red Sox over multiple seasons. If the Red Sox go more than $40 million over the tax threshold again in 2019, their highest surcharge will climb to 75% and then 95% if they do it a third time.

      Therefore, it makes sense for even the richest teams to show some restraint. Even free-spenders like the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers dipped under the threshold in 2018 to reset their penalty level—the first time ever for the Yankees under the current format, and the first time for the Dodgers since 2012.

      Many thought both teams would soar back over the threshold this season, with stars like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado available. Now that doesn’t look so certain, as both the Yankees and Dodgers have signaled that they would prefer to stay under the CBT threshold again in 2019.

  17. I agree with those of you who want Cody at first. To me it is not even a close decision. He makes everyone better. I would put Muncey in any trade package. He just does not fit defensively. Put Taylor at second and sign Pollack. That is all the Dodgers need to do.

    1. I’ll play along. Verdugo, Muncy for Haniger. Pollack in CF, Belli at first.
      CF Pollack
      SS Seager
      3B Turner
      RF Haniger
      1B Bellinger
      2B Taylor
      LF Pederson
      C Barnes

    2. I just don’t see the logic. There are lots of guys who have suspect gloves and good bats: Gattis, Schwarber, JDM, Castellanos, Murphy, hell even Barry @#$ Bonds was moved to LF later in his career, and Harpers defensive metrics are awful as were Kemp’s. Muncy fields better than all of those guys and has thunder in his bat. All for $560K this year and 4 more years of control, plus he hits LHP and his fielding would improve if they picked a position for him. Hell trade Joc, he makes $5M this year and can’t hit LHP and put Muncy in LF. Why does most of this board want to trade Muncy?

      1. People don’t want to trade Muncy, they are willing to trade Him in the right deal. Big difference

  18. I’m still in on Haniger. I’m thinking Seattle might consider Verdugo, Taylor, Maeda, Alvarez. Would the Dodgers give up that much? Rudy would be upset with me if I suggested Verdugo and Ruiz for Haniger but I would do it.

    1. I was against Realmuto for Verdugo and Ruiz. I like Haniger, but not for those two. I might do Verdugo, Smith, Alvarez, & Pederson.

  19. Colts don’t seem to like the snow, Chiefs are marching up and down the field but it’s early yet. Tyreek Hill wore the right cleats today. Big game is Rams/Cowboys tonight, at least for me. And Chargers/Pats tomorrow, can’t root for Brady-ever!

      1. Rams baby! Have to listen to Joe Buck but Aikman does a nice job even though he is a Cowboy still. They are looking good right now!

  20. Patiently waiting for the Rams to prevail…
    Bum, Rudy wouldn’t be upset, but like most of us, would want you piss-tested..
    Any day now!!!
    I’m still looking at ST and the Trade dead line…

    1. I just throw stuff up in the air. I haven’t talked to any of the players or even stood next to them to get a feel of who and what they are. If I were Friedman I would not have reports but also would talk with scouts and assistant GMs etc. There is no meat behind anything I suggest. It is just off-season game playing.

  21. OK, put me on sucicide watch and I am hitting anyone in the mouth who says anything bad about the Colts!

  22. Interesting article on luxury tax, but I cannot see the luxury tax being such an impediment since very few teams ever exceed it. Last year the BoSox and Nats were the only two teams to do so. This year there are three teams that are already over the CBT threshold (Boston, Chicago Cubs, and NYY). The BoSox and Cubbies are well over it and have zero chance to get below it. NYY is about $5.7MM over, and can get under by trading Sonny Gray.The only other two teams that are in range right now are the Nats (under by approximately $7.2MM), and LAD which is approximately $20.8MM below after all the players avoiding arbitration have signed.
    The Mets at $176MM, Houston at $170MM, St. Louis at $165.6MM, SFG at $164.2MM, Colorado at $156.2MM and Philadelphia at $151.6MM are the only other teams in excess of $150MM, but not really in a position to exceed the CBT threshold. Philadelphia is still in a position to spend “stupid” money, but even they are $55MM below, and are well situated to sign either Machado or Harper. They will want to stay vigilant because they will want to be in a position in two years for Trout. But signing Machado should keep them in a position to woo Trout.
    with Atlanta only at $114MM, could they be the mystery team in on Machado? Could they go big and try to sign Harper to play RF for them. If they sign Harper, I think they could live with Vizcaino as closer and Dansby Swanson as SS. If Machado at SS they could probably trade Swanson for a RF. Atlanta is in a position to go big if AA gets his budget increased.
    IMO what hurts FA is the QO. I do not mind the QO, but a team should not have to pay a draft pick to sign him. That keeps the salary low for guys that may justify the QO but are not deemed good enough for teams to give up a draft pick and international money. Increase the QO amount, but no penalty. I have zero objection to any team that loses a FA to get compensatory draft picks no matter if a QO was offered or not for a FA above a certain level. It could be a higher pick for a player rejecting a QO, and then decreasing from there. You could limit it to 3 compensatory picks per team. There are a host of options if you eliminate the penalty for signing a FA with a QO. It will have zero impact on the number of teams who could realistically be considered viable landing spots for Harper & Machado this year, or Arenado and Rendon next year, and Trout the year after. But maybe Pollock and Grandal and others will not be hampered and teams that can spend in that range would not be hindered. There also has to be a salary floor as long as the teams participate in the luxury tax compensation. Last year Tampa Bay, Oakland, Pittsburgh, and Miami were cited as not spending their luxury tax dollars. Not much has changed as all 4 teams are under $100MM this year and are joined this year by KC and SD. Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay are less than $80MM.

    1. Good take. One question: the Dodgers have $20.8 under CBT after agreements with all arb-eligible players, but don’t they have to hold back $5M or so for Maeda’s incentive bonuses?

  23. Thanks Mark for posting the WSJ article. Interesting read.

    I too prefer Bellinger at 1B, but
    I also understand that there are circumstances under which he is more valuable in CF.

  24. Great article. One player is needed. Harper. The guy is a one man wrecking crew. Those who think not are smoking crack. Put Harper in this lineup and it is the new Murderers Row. Forget the whole Lefty Righty thing as it is overrated. HARPER. Sign Him for God’s Sake.

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