I’m Just Sayin’

There is so little movement in the Hot Stove and yet, so much to talk about, so here goes:

TOP FARM SYSTEMS

Someone here a few days ago opined that they wanted Logan White back as the GM. Of course, Logan was never GM for the Dodgers before – he was Director of Amateur Scouting, and while I love Logan White, I cannot remember when the Dodgers Farm system was ever this good.Keith Law of ESPN just came out with his 2019 Farm System Rankings and he has the Dodgers solidly at #5!

The rest of the TOP 10 are comprised of teams that have either tanked or just started a selloff of stars for prospects, yet the Dodgers are in the TOP 5 after winning the NL West 6 years in a row and getting to the World Series in the past two years. That is just crazy – teams don’t build their MLB team and build their farm system. It has to be one or the other. No one else has ever done this… until now! The Red Sox are at #24 and the Cubs are at #29, while the Nats are at #23 and the Brewers are at #25.

So right about now, you are saying that I am just an Andrew Friedman Homer and you are DAMN RIGHT, I AM and if you are not, well, you are a few fries short of a Happy Meal, my friend! I mean, what does he have to do to get any credit? No one, and I mean NO ONE does that kind of stuff! So while the Farmer Trade made no sense to you, it did toKeith Lawwho said:


The Dodgers just boosted their system in the trade that sent Alex WoodYasiel Puig and Matt Kemp‘s contract to the Reds, bringing back two prospects who were high draft picks in the past two years and have performed well since signing, adding to a system that saw upticks from several prospects already in-house, including Will Smith and Tony Gonsolin. They didn’t sign first-rounder J.T. Ginn, but may have unearthed gems in a couple of later rounds who will make up for what they lost.

The MLB team is loaded. Most stat services have them at 92-94 wins this year, which is the best in the NL and they are not done. Maybe they will add some player(s) soon or at the trade deadline, but regardless they are strapped.

MLB.com ranked the Dodgers at positions as follows:

  • Catcher – Not ranked (they let the #3 Catcher walk)
  • 1B – Max Muncy #4
  • 2B – Chris Taylor #5 (I don’t see him at 2B, but who knows? Not me!)
  • SS – Not rated yet, but Seager has to be there
  • 3B – Justin Turner #2
  • LF – Not ranked
  • CF – Cody Bellinger #2 and AJ Pollock #7
  • RF – Not ranked
  • Starting Pitchers – Clayton Kershaw #7

MLB.Comsays this about whether the Dodgers need a catcher:


Is it unfinished business if the club does not acknowledge it as unfinished business? If the asking price for Realmuto is Verdugo, the Dodgers seem willing to walk on down the road and open the season with 
Austin Barnes and Russell Martin behind the plate while keeping an eye on 20-year-old Keibert Ruiz — who’s No. 36 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects List — in the Minors. Because the Dodgers have won six straight division championships and been to the World Series two years in a row, we tend to think they know what they’re doing.

Yeah, I think they do! Next…

WAR – WHAT GOOD IS IT?

It seems that people either love it or hate it. WAR or “Wins Over Replacement” is a concept most people don’t really understand.Anthony Castrovince of MLB.comexpalins it this way:


If you are unfamiliar (or need a refresher), the concept behind WAR is this: If you formed a team of freely available Minor Leaguers (aka “replacement-level talent”), it wouldn’t win many games. In fact, estimates used for WAR peg that number at 48 (roughly a .300 winning percentage). So if you took Player A from that club and replaced him with Free Agent X, and the club won 54 games, that means that Free Agent X is worth 6 WAR, since the team improved by 6 games with him on the roster.

Thanks to its inherent appeal as a distillation of various contributing factors into a single number, WAR has served as a sort of gateway drug for folks just setting foot into sabermetrics. Thanks to its application across eras, WAR has heightened the Hall of Fame discussion. And thanks to the embrace it has received over time from the writers and TV broadcasters covering MLB, WAR has become, for better or worse, an almost de facto decider in the comparison of position players for the annual Most Valuable Player Award votes.

Some fans don’t like WAR, but WAR doesn’t lie. In the article, he goes on to say this:

You can protest WAR, and many have. Complex thinkers have derided it as too simple, and simple thinkers have derided it as too complex.

At this point, though, every team in baseball is employing some sort of WAR calculation. WAR is even, in all likelihood, a contributor to the slow-moving free-agent markets we’ve witnessed the last two winters. Because if teams have a statistical model telling them a player can reasonably be counted on for X contribution to the season win total, they’re likely not going to bid much beyond the dollar value they place on X. And a more intuitive understanding of how to calculate a player’s expected regression makes teams more cautious in handing out long-term deals (so far this winter, only one contract has exceeded four years, and that’s 
Patrick Corbin‘s six-year pact with the Nationals).

“I think, more and more,” Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro said, “organizations are starting to value on similar criteria, or at least in a similar way.”

There are many formulas for WAR and each team may have their own methods of defining and valuing WAR. The public WAR data involves only surface-level statistics, however, many teams have the option of involving their in-house scouting grades which combines the objective with the subjective. The next great discovery might be the quantification of player makeup and medical data for utilization in the WAR inputs. Someone is going to figure that out… maybe Friedman already has.

No matter how you slice it, Matt Kemp was a 1.1 WAR Player. He was a feelgood story in 2018 and not much else. He had to go. Alex Wood was a 1.0 WAR player – great guy, but 1.0 WAR players grow on trees. Yasiel Puig was a 2.7 WAR player, but his issues were of another variety. So, the Dodger lost 4.8 WAR while freeing up salary and building up the farm system.

They got rid of malcontents and potential malcontents and freed up salary, which they spent on AJ Pollock and others to be determined. They created a space for Alex Verdugo and CT3. Now I fully acknowledge that Yasiel Puig could be the NL MVP In 2019… but it wasn’t happening in LA. He could also crash and burn – he’s capable of either. I will watch and enjoy him in Cincy. He’s fun to watch, but the Dodgers are better without him.

By the Way

MLB.com rated Bryce Harper the #1 RF in baseball, which is evidently why he is seeking suck a big contract. WHAT? WAIT! He was rated #5? But he wants to be paid like the #1? OK, I get it! Do you?

Tonight we go and see my wife’s favorite player as the LA Stephenson’s play the Indiana Pacers at The Fieldhouse. I’ll try and wave to you…

This article has 52 Comments

        1. There are 40 players currently listed on the 40 man, so yes. But, Rocky Gale is one of those players, so no.

      1. Mark: A fair point, and a useful one, about the FO’s ability to maintain
        (and improve an important notch) the play of the big team, while
        building a solid system.
        But:-)…..once again, what do you and AC and a few other FO fans have
        against elephants, particularly the one in the Dodger offices, which is
        the grand amount of greenbacks they let go to get to this place?
        Still maintain there are a dozen or more operations in the league that
        would have done even more, and probably with somewhat less, than
        your favorite drunken sailors.
        Might even be a dozen or two guys here who coulda been contenders:-).
        Maybe a kid or two from Skeptic House:-).

        And I still wait, all 62% of me, for the first Friedman draftee to wear the
        uni with impact at the major level. Those guys are supposed to be more
        than trade pawns, yes? Ain’t that what Stanley says?

      1. You might want to go back and read what I said again. This would be the second time you misrepresented what I said.

        1. Not sure about that. How many times have you suggested in some way or another that we should trade for Hanninger? Who isn’t available, by the way.

          1. I would like Haniger, yes. I have offered Ruiz and Verdugo and Maeda for him in the past but I did not propose a trade where you said I did in the last thread. I only posed the question if the Dodgers included Verdugo in a trader for kluber, what might the Dodgers do in RF.
            .
            Haniger is not Trout like you inferred. You did that, not me. Haniger is 28 and the Mariners have 4 years of control. He has only one year that was very good. He is a late bloomer. He was not a full time player in 2017.

          2. I wasn’t really saying Hanninger is like Trout, my reference to Trout is simply that he is not available and if you’re trading for unavailable players with prospects that the team won’t trade, you might as well set your sites higher.

  1. I’m ready for the season to start and go with what we have but I still think about things. Like if Kluber were obtained it would pair Kershaw and Kluber similarly to how Koufax and Drysdale were paired. Buehler and Urias would be another similar tandem but with reverse arms where Buehler is more like Koufax and Urias is more like Drysdale.

  2. The Marlins have announced a minor-league deal with outfielder Curtis Granderson. It includes an invitation to participate in MLB Spring Training. He’ll earn $1.75MM in the majors with $250K in possible incentives, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network

    1. This is the bottom of the market.

      They say never try to catch a falling knife but either it picks up from here or the beginning of the season is in question.

  3. With respect to WAR, I would guess (fairly certain) that each team has their own way of valuing the players. Some more elaborate than others (Dodgers). The two most often cited publications are FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference, thus fWAR and bWAR. They have different criteria so it is not very useful to compare a FanGraphs WAR with a Baseball-Reference WAR.
    .
    I agree with Mark that a LOT of fans do not hold much credence in WAR other than Sabergeeks. I do like to use them for lite comparative reasons, but more for contract value than baseball value. FanGraphs estimates that each 1 WAR = approximately $8MM. I do like to compare year to year WAR for individual players more than comparisons of one player to another. Baseball Reference identifies 8+WAR as MVP; 5+ WAR = All Star; 2+ WAR = Starters; 0-2 WAR = Reserve; <0 = Replacement Level. I think those are fair barometers.
    .
    For Dodger blog sites, I suppose affection for Keith Law goes in relationship to how he feels about Dodgers farm system and prospects. I certainly value his judgement but no more than Kyle Glaser (BA), Jonathan Mayo/Jim Callis (MLB), Eric Logenhagen/Kiley McDaniel (FanGraphs). None of those have rated the Dodgers farm system as high as Keith. Most have them somewhere between 8-10. Still very good when considering the number of recent 25 man roster additions, and where they draft. I like Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray, but not enough to have them jump a number of other teams because of those two.
    .
    But Mark's premise is spot on. No other team FO has done what AF has done with LAD. Keeping the team in contention and rebuilding a farm system is not easy, and AF has done that. Maybe not enough to the liking of some, but better than any other team. 2 consecutive WS appearances is contending. However, I no longer just want to contend. I want to win, and I do see the window beginning to close. A lot of positive "if" outcomes have to occur for the Dodgers to not only to get back to the WS but to win it. Capable? Sure. But so are a lot of other teams, and the delta between the Dodgers and other top NL contenders is shrinking.
    .
    I am not for change just to change. I am for change to improve qualitatively rather than quantitatively. Is Dallas Keuchel a good pitcher and worthy to be in a rotation? Absolutely, but not the Dodgers. Now Corey Kluber is someone that deserves that kind of attention. Last year it was Gerrit Cole and Christian Yelich who I thought were difference makers and should have been targets, and they may have been. But what Houston gave to Pittsburgh for Cole for two years and the Dodgers not matching is a shame. The same with Yelich.

    1. I was wondering where the Yankees farm system is rated, because I think the Yankees are the closest team to the Dodgers in that manner.

      The former GM of the Rockies said that he found these small incremental moves that GM’s make, are not usually worth what they do to the overall ability of a team, and to the club House atmosphere.

      The GM for Seattle is the GM I think about, when it comes to to many small incremental moves.

    2. I agree that we really missed the boat on Cole and Yelich and Ozuna, and Stanton for that matter. I’m curious as to why you think the window is shrinking? The payroll is coming down and we have a really young core with Bellinger, Seager, Urias and Bueller. Pollock solidifies an outfield spot for another 3 years. Catcher and 2B are on their way. That is a lot of control with quality players at a lot of positions. Then we still have Muncy, Pederson, Taylor and Kike. These guys aren’t as hard to replace depending on your opinion of them. The only older players that will be hard to replace are JT and Kersh. I think our windows is as open as any in the league. There are teams that are getting better, but we are in a place where we can get better as well. The lack of really high end prospects is discouraging, but the FO is doing a great job keeping us competitive while simultaneously building the farm, as you and MT have stated.

  4. Stacking up stats against gut and eye really is both are the same language as is time and space. It’s hard to see whenever you live in the opposite camp while destination calculation is the same place but who’ll get there first. I’m in the gut and eye camp and have as much fun as the stats camp guys watching my Dodgers win. Which camp would be the better before the start? Well, I’m puttying some long odds $ where gut and eye Dodgers take the championship for 2019. I’m gonna have me some fun! CHEERS!

    1. I’m all-in on this being the year. But I want a big early lead in the West so we can spend as long as possible fine-tuning the roster and resting guys to get ready for the post-season push.

  5. Andrew Friedman has been great for the Dodgers and will continue to be, he has had a plan since day 1 and has not deviated from that plan, if some do not like him or feel he is not doing a good job,so be it,that is their opinion.

  6. I would like to have Corey Kluber, but at what price?

    I have heard it speculated that the Indians would want Ruiz, May and another TOP 10 prospect.

    Kluber is two years older than Clayton and while he has about 700 Innings less, his playoff ERA is just .30 ER less than Clayton in 1/3 the sampling.

    1. When does his decline start?
    2. He is essentially the same pitcher in the playoffs as Clayton.

    I am of the belief that if you get to the World Series, you have to find a way to win. Since the Dodgers still have Clayton, he needs to find a way… and I think this whole team is more unified than ever!

  7. The problem with WAR is that it is a purely statistical analysis that ignores several things:
    1- How is the player in the clubhouse?
    2 – How is the player in the clutch?
    3 – Where is the player in his career?
    4 – How does the player pass the eyeball test?
    5 – Defensive WAR has the same problems that all defensive metrics do – they just aren’t very good
    6 – How does the player adjust/adapt to change?
    7 – How one-dimensional is the player?
    etc. etc.

    The thing that many forget is that WAR is measuring a player against a “replacement level” player – a career minor leaguer who isn’t quite good enough to stick in the majors but is too good for AAA. So – Alex Wood is worth only 1 more win per season than a replacement level guy? And so is Matt Kemp? This is the real problem here – the stat doesn’t really do what it says.

    The minor league system has produced quality players for several years now, going back to the pre-Friedman days – Joc Pederson, Cody Bellinger, Cory Seager are all pre-Friedman era draftees. There is still quality in the minors which is hard to do when you are winning though. To me, there several big improvements in this area since Friedman has taken over:
    1 – Player development is probably the biggest improvement. The Dodgers have had touted guys flame out for years – they did have a nice run with Kershaw, Billingsly, Loney, Kemp et al for a while but a real gap in successful player development for a while. This has changed for the better
    2 – Friedman knows who to trade away and who to keep. He won’t be forced in to trading top prospects no matter what
    3 – They have drafted shrewdly given their place in the draft

    I agree with AC. The real issue this off-season is that the Dodgers have largely tread water. They have lost Grandal and replaced him with Russell Martin. They have lost Puig and Kemp and replaced them with – well, probably Alex Verdugo and AJ Pollock. They have lost Machado and Dozier and replaced them with the still-rehabbing Cory Seager. They have lost Alex Wood and replaced him with Wild Man Kelly. The guys they lost produced 10 bWAR. (This only includes Machado’s production with the Dodgers and not his entire season of work.) That’s if you believe in WAR. Really, will the players who will get the playing time equal or surpass the production of last year’s lost players? You can make a case that they will except for catcher – this is the obvious place where the Dodgers will not be as good this year.

    1. True. And the many other little things that aren’t there till the moment occurs. The weather that day of which game and the effects of how that player plays in such. I know I don’t like seeing humidity high whenever Kershaw is pitching and probably have something with every player that indicates to me where the game heads to. The best part of it all is the things that can’t be estimated like Gibson’s final at bat for the Dodgers. Who’d a thunk it? Especially under those circumstances?

  8. What is evidently happening is that players are not liking whgat teams are offering. It used to be the teams would cave, but it ain’t happening. I think Friedman had a big hand in this. You don’t have to overpay to win.

    1. I think McCutcheon might’ve signed the most player-friendly contract of the offseason. Britton got paid too. And Corbin. Donaldson too.

  9. Rockies and Arrenado rumored to be working on long term extension…Happy for Co. if they call pull it off and sad for Blue , becuz I’d luv to have the kid…
    I wish there were more Tony Gwynns in the MLB… Maybe Kersh is our Gwynn..
    P.S. I think we are a better team than last year…

    1. Interesting rumor, because IF the Dodgers’ main reason for not paying for Harper this offseason was because we planned on waiting 1 more year so that we can pay for Arrenado next offseason, does this change our stance on Harper? (or Machado?)

      IF there’s no longer a top target for us to target after 2019, then do we say screw it, let’s go get Harper, stick him in LF for the next 5-7 years, and we can figure out ways to save salary by trading a Joc, or a Hill, and/or someone else?

      1. There is enough salary coming off the books next year that I don’t thinks Arenado is the impediment to signing Harper.

        Outside of his one season I just don’t see him being worth those $$$ and years.

  10. One more signing from MLB Trade Rumors

    “Former big league first baseman James Loney is looking to resurrect his career by joining on with the indy ball Sugar Land Skeeters, Baseball America’s JJ Cooper tweets. Loney is slated to line up in the field and on the mound for his new club, in addition to serving as a player-coach”

    Now to Google the Sugar Land Skeeters

      1. Can be an ice boat or a skeet shooter. In any event James has a very big hill to climb at age 34. I wish him well.

  11. A few tidbits:
    1. If you can believe anything you hear, then maybe it is true that the Marlins have recently dropped their asking price for JT Realmuto.
    2. The Dodgers will not give Aernado a big long tem deal next year for two reasons: (1) Career OPS at Coors = .984/Other Stadiums = .787. BA at Coors =.320 and Away = .263; and (2) He will be over two years older that Harper.

    He’s just not worth it for LA.

    1. Which is why Colorado is very close to a long term extension for Arenado. Arenado is not stupid. He sees those numbers and he knows what impact that would have on the free market. AND he knows how valuable he is to Colorado.

    1. 59

      I don’t know if I would call that a sound tract.

      I don’t mind rap when there is actually singers, and music involved too.

      I am hoping this pure rap stuff, is in its last decade.

  12. Haven’t looked at it closely, but briefly saw something on Bleacher Report about MLB and the players association having discussed a universal DH, among other things. Maybe Mark’s prediction about the DH will come true. What I read did indicate that this could be implemented as early as 2019. I guess that’s possible, although teams have obviously not shaped their off-season planning to account for such a change. But given their versatility, and the fact that they have Max Muncy, the Dodgers would appear to be ready to take advantage of such a rule change.

    Does anyone know if this is a real possibility for 2019?

  13. I haven’t thought this through, but I wonder if bringing the DH to the NL would bring the Dodgers to consider signing Harper, especially if his poor defense is at least part of the reason the Dodgers are not currently interested,

    I realize that there are plenty of other reasons (mostly financial) why the Dodgers may be less than enthusiastic about signing Harper. However, given the fact that the DH could extend his career, perhaps the Dodgers might be willing to add some years given that they would have the safety valve that the DH affords. It’s a little before 1:30 A.M. here in NY as I write this, so maybe I’ve just become delusional.

  14. The NL will have the DH, whether it is now remains to be seen. I thought maybe it was dead, after such await, but it appears they want to make it happen. There will have to be a lot of give and take for it to happen in 2019, but it appears that my source was right. Manfred wants it. Max Muncy would be the perfect DH. Then the team could be solid defensively… everywhere.

    Bellinger goes to 1B and Kike to 2B. CT3 in CF.

  15. Everyone wants to act like the way the Dodgers and mlb operate is great. It’s not and it’s very boring. Hot Stove is frozen stove. Have a trade and free agent deadline like the NBA and make it exciting. Baseball ratings stink. Youngsters aren’t watching the games. Two young stars like Harper and Machado aren’t even signed. That’s like no one wanting Lebron or Kyrie. That would never happen in the NBA. No one wants to see people strike-out. No one wants to hear owners penny pinching. Fans want entertainment and the Dodgers to go all in.

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