Being a Dodger

Per JT on the Suits:

“We trust them,” said the third baseman and team leader. “The front office has done a great job. They build a 40-man roster, not a 25-man roster, and that’s the biggest difference between the Dodgers and other teams.”

I have been saying that for 4 years running.  AF is a master at building the 40-man roster to play in a 162-game season.  The Dodgers should always contend.  As AJ Pollock surmised,

“Every time they step on the field, they anticipate that they’ll win that game and that’s pretty cool. Not a whole lot of teams out there are like that,” Pollock said. “They expect to be in the World Series and win the World Series. When [Clayton] Kershaw steps out there, he’s an animal and he expects to win and you feel that on the other side, for sure.”

But where they draft and the financial constraints they place upon themselves, it is going to be hard to find that Ace or future MVP face of the franchise.  Not impossible, but certainly harder to find.   They rely on depth and a certain type of player (competitor).  Those type of players are not necessarily future HOF, MVPs, or CY winners.  But they do compete to win every pitch, every inning, every game, That is why last year was such a disappointment for me, because that approach was not evident.  The all or nothing HR approach does not define this team.  It didn’t the year before when they were seemingly never out of any game (except Game 7 of the WS).  Now, I recognize that a lot of that had to do with an injured Corey Seager and Justin Turner, the glue and heart and soul of that team.   Kershaw has not been healthy for four years.  KJ was in a funk since the beginning of the 2017 WS throughout the 2018 season.  It took a rookie Ace in waiting, 2B the Oakland A’s thought so much of that he was DFA, a journeyman RHP who nobody knows whether he is a starter or reliever, and a 21-year-old TJ survivor showing his mettle in the bullpen in a pennant race, to turn the season around.  Sure, the Machado addition helped, but he was more of the all or nothing approach already swallowing the team.  The absolute failure of the FO to recognize that the team NEEDED bullpen help at the trade deadline was critical.  I give the FO credit, but I am not blind when they swing and miss.  It was the grinding of Walker Buehler, the slugging of Max Muncy, the timely “pitching” of Ross Stripling, and the heart of Caleb Ferguson that got the team to the playoffs and then WS.

AJ Pollock gives every indication that he will do whatever it takes to win.  He will replace Chase Utley in the clubhouse in that regard.  Scooter Gennett, Whit Merrifield, DJLM, Charlie Blackmon are similar type ofBASEBALLplayers.  They would be welcome on my team anytime.  Grinders and special defensive players define winning baseball to me.  That is why very early on I was pushing for AJ Pollock and DJLM.  I was pushing these guys early last season as players to watch at FA.  Got one of them, so I am happy.

AF was smart enough to know that Walker Buehler was special, and fortunate enough to have teams not want to take a chance in the first round on a pitcher that obviously needed TJ surgery.  The Dodgers were fortunate with Caleb Ferguson even though he lasted to round 38.  And they may have been fortunate again with Michael Grove.  I think they will be rewarded again.  IMO, the Dodgers will be rewarded this summer with yet another TJ survivor with Jesen Therrien.  As an aside, I think it is comical about the AF “haters” bashing him for going after injured pitchers, but never bringing up Buehler or Stripling or Ferguson.  I know that Strip and Ferguson predated AF, but AF kept tham and pushed them. I am sure that both Strip and Ferguson were much sought after pitchers this winter. AF survived the Kazmir/McCarthy/Anderson problem, but will flourish with Buehler, Stripling, and Ferguson for several seasons, and IMO both Grove and Therrien in the future.  If you have enough pitching at the ML level, you can be patient for those special pitchers with arm injuries.  The Dodgers are loaded with 3-4-5 rotation starters and now have a bountiful of relievers in the organization.  As long as Buehler, Kershaw, and potentially Urias continue to wear Dodger Blue the 1-2 slots should be in great hands.  That is not to say that someone like Corey Kluber would not be welcome.  That is also not to say that any of May/Grove/Gonsolin will not get there.  Maybe all three.

But pitching is only one facet of the game. We have already discussed in great length on the strength and depth of the catchers in the organization.  Ruiz/Smith/Cartaya/Wong/Feduccia.  I do not think I need to say more.  With Lux ready to assume 2B in 2020, the Seager/Lux combo at SS/2B should be solid for many years.  Jeter Downs should be a solid support for the duo.  I am also high on future middle infield prospect Jacob Amaya.  The Dodgers have more than enough 1B in the organization.  Where the Dodgers organization is lacking is at 3B and OF. I will save 3B for another segment. 

The Dodgers have four OF in their top 30 and NOT ONE is even remotely near a “sure thing”, and right now only one should be counted on to give the future any hope of a solid OF prospect, and that is Alex Verdugo.  I am not convinced that Verdugo is the answer.  Listening to the BA podcast with Kyle Glazer that Bluto recommended only gave me reason to trust my eyes over the platitudes given to those who seemingly have so much talent.  It is easy to get distracted by “talent” evaluators and ignore the whole person. Glazer talked about the rumors of Verdugo losing focus and lack of hustle, and even discussed how the Dodgers FO is spinning that he has grown and matured since those early days.  But Glazer went to the OKC players and they confirmed that Verdugo does not play with heart (my word) and focus.  He is not a teammate.  That is exactly what I saw last summer when he played in Sacramento.  He didn’t even make it to 1B on a ground ball to 2B.  The way he treated Toles was rude at best.  The Dodgers just rid themselves of a player with much more talent than Verdugo but with an inability to show that talent night in and night out because of outside influences (whatever they were).  RF is the biggest question mark on this team.He is not Tony Gwynn, and never will be Tony Gwynn.  The best current player ceiling comparison I have heard has been Nick Markakis.  If he achieves the status of Nick Markakis he will be a decent to good OF, but if he doesn’t “ball out” every night, he is not good enough to help the team.  He is not Bryce Harper. IF the Dodgers are going to have a prima donna play RF, I will take Bryce Harper.   But I will be more than fine with Cody in RF and Muncy/Freese at 1B than go through Verdugo’s continual growing pains.  Is it any wonder that the Marlins wanted 2 of 4 players for JTR, and not one was named Alex Verdugo?

Then there is the next best OFers in the organization…DJ Peters, Jeren Kendall, and Starling Heredia.  Not one of those players gives me hope for home grown Dodger OF talent.  I would prefer players with ceilings of 4thor 5thOF like Kyle Garlick, Zack Reks, Logan Landon, Donovan Casey, Cody Thomas…than players who know they have a problem making contact and do nothing to change it.  I do not know enough about Heredia to know if he is just not yet comfortable in the US and is going to take a little more patience.  But DJ Peters and Jeren Kendall are different.  They have the ability, but perhaps not the desire.  Kendall especially disappoints because he has ML speed and defense right now.  All he has to do is put the bat on the ball.  He needs Ichiro to work with him.  I have suggested multiple times someone like Brett Butler who turned a 23rdround pick into a 17-year ML career.  Who has more God given talent, Butler or Kendall?  Who is going to make the most of what they have, Butler or Kendall?  I am hopeful that Kendall may in fact have had a breakthrough as he has been spotted working with RVS this winter. So maybe….

Outside of the three pitchers Kazmir/McCarthy/Anderson, no Dodger player has been as ridiculed by more fans than Joc Pederson and Pedro Baez.  I also do not believe any other Dodger has more team support than Joc Pederson and Pedro Baez.  It would have been easy to cut either of them loose when they were going bad, but by ALL accounts they are great teammates and will do whatever they have to do to win. Does Joc want to play every day?  Absolutely.  But there is no evidence that he gave the team one bit of trouble when he was benched and is now a platoon OF. He is happy being a Dodger.  He is not as talented as Puig, and yet Joc is a Dodger and Puig is a Red.  I know Puig had a couple of big HRs in the post-season last year, but I will repeat what I wrote a couple of weeks back..It was the lack of KJ and Clayton coming through for the good guys that cost Joc the 2017 WS MVP. Again, it is not the individual talent that defines this team, but the collective talent.  I am hopeful that Verdugo embraces his chance and understands what the Dodgers gave up to give him this chance.  And I hope that it is AJ Pollock that will help him understand what it is like to be a Dodger.  How ironic is that?

This article has 72 Comments

  1. We get it, you listened to the BA podcast and you dont like Verdugo, good for you, unfortunately for you he’s going to make you eat your words this year and it’s going to be glorious to see. You must not know how close Toles and Verdugo are during the off season and in season, players mess around with each other all season, but let’s take a specific instance which obviously triggered you and turn it into a lengthy critique of Verdugo. Dave Roberts was right when he said Verdugo is as tough as they come, mostly due to his up bringing but he also said he’s a baller. But I agree with you, Verdugo probably should of hustled more last year, but if I was spending my 2nd season in AAA when everyone including myself knew that I should of been in the league after spring training, and I’m getting promoted, balling out then getting sent back down, I’d probably feel a little discourage, angry, etc yet with all of his “concerns” last year he still hit .329

    1. Kyle

      To be fair, AC is not bringing this up because of one game or only one source.

      And this is nothing new.

      AC is a very fair person, and because of that, he will give Verdugo a fair chance even after mentioning this.

      And you have to admit there is a lot of irony there with Verdugo after they got rid of Puig for somewhat of the same kind of behavior.

      And this was not just at AAA, and if anyone had a right to have that attitude it would be Toles just as much as Verdugo.

      Toles was the starting leftfielder on the big league team before he got hurt.

      And you should look at what Toles did against righties last year, and especially when runners were on base and scoring position, and compare his numbers to Verdugo’s numbers last year.

      And remember both players had three times the amount of at bats against righties, versus lefties.

      And remember Toles was coming back from a serious knee injury, so he couldn’t work on his hitting in the off season, and he had a hammy pull early in the season and missed a month, and had to play catch up, and he had never saw any of those pitchers in AAA like Verdugo did the year before.

      1. And remember Verdugo was the lead off hitter, so naturally opportunity isn’t going to present itself as much for Verdugo as it did for Toles since he usually batted 2nd or 3rd

        1. Kyle

          That is not true at all!

          Verdugo had more chances then Toles did.

          Look it up, it shows the opportunities each hitter had.

          And the sample sizes are big enough to be compared.

          Check the OPS too.

          1. Kyle

            Verdugo had 160 at bats when runners were on base, and he had 99 at bats, when runners were in scoring position.

            Toles had 110 at bats when runners were on base, and 64 at bats, when runners were in scoring position.

  2. AC – as always a very well written and thoughtful piece.

    You have the habit of conveying much of what I think about the Dodgers overall, and I find myself nodding in agreement with each paragraph.

    The Dodgers, and Baseball in general seems to be going through a metamorphosis, with Andrew Friedman at the forefront.
    To be honest, i didn’t see or care for his methods at the beginning, but can now
    understand his thinking.

    Mark saw this early, and has been a big supporter.
    To win the west 6 straight years, while maintaining a top 10 Farm, is impressive. Boston, the Cubs and Houston have of course won Rings, but are they set up for continued success?

    I guess my one gripe would also be, could we have done more at each TD to get across the line?
    Machado was a bold move, but like you say we probably needed an 8th inning guy. That being said, there’s no saying the 2018 Kenley would have gotbthe job done.
    Darvish was also bold, but unfortunately he was shown to lack bottle on the big stage.
    I guess you can’t have it all. You can’t use your best chips and expect carry on in the same way if you lose.
    To still have Seager, Bellinger, Urias, Pederson, Beuhler & Verdugo is great going forward, because they are good and inexpensive. They could have been traded away, but we still have them, and they form a decent homegrown nucleus of the team.
    Winning World Series is down to small margins, and we just havnt quite gotnit right.
    The good thing is that we are sitting here, before another ST, with yet another realistic chance of October Baseball. That is what is really impressive.

    The other clubs are following AFs lead in not handicapping themselves with “Boat Anchor” contracts. Soon the good players will get their collective heads around it, and realise they will get paid anyway, and that a shorter contract on a contender is better than a long one on an also ran (looking at you Zack Grieke). AF is changing the way things happen.

    It’s disappointing to read your opinion on Verdugo, as was hoping, much like MJ, that his contact skills, and decent BA would help the team greatly.
    I’m indifferent about the loss of Puig.
    I just wish we had cashed in on his talent earlier. It’s seems a shame not to have received something decent for him.
    Puig never matured. Verdugo is gonna be given the opportunity to play where he believes he should be. Maybe being around your Pollocks, Utleys , Hills and Kershaws, will help him adjust.
    AF must see something in him.
    I’m struggling to think of any prospects traded away that have gone on to produce anywhere else?

    I’m really optimistic heading into the 19 season.
    Your, and DCs knowledge of the Minor Leagues gives me even greater hope. This time next year we should have Ruiz & Lux added to our core.

    Addition by Subtraction. Losing Puig, Wood & Kemp will define other’s roles.
    This team will win 100 games.

    1. Share most of your take, Wat. This was an excellent offering from AC.
      Except: “To win the West six straight years….is impressive.”

      The first two of those wins came with extraordinary pressures,
      financial and OTHERS, on a front office that took a lot of
      badly-aimed grief from Dodger fans and blogs.
      I am not now, and never have been a great fan of Ned and Logan.
      But I can’ help wonder what they would have done (or you, and I,
      and MT and Badger, and a dozen or two other fans with good pattern
      recognition tools) with the addition of a cool billion in a few years.
      Maybe a ring? Two?
      Just one example: I have thought for decades
      the game was over-rating Cubans as a group. How many hundreds
      of millions have I just saved? A children’s hospital-worth in Bayamo?
      Maybe a second in Cienfuegos?

      The Braves run under Kasten in the Maddux-Glavine-Smoltz era
      was way more impressive (though trophy-short, to be sure) because
      the Braves didn’t flood the playing-field with millions of questionably
      obtained bucks, the way these wastrels have.

      Give me level playing fields in EVERY aspect of the game. No shifts on,
      no wacky gazillions off. No unqualified species guessing at strikes (that’s
      almost all humans, by the way). See what the impressive ones can do then.

    2. Always great hearing from you my friend across the pond. Perhaps this’ll be the season you and I can tip a beer. Is your boy still interested in MLB though it’d be hard for him to follow Dodgers with the time difference and schedule for a young man of his age.
      .
      I read Verdugo much the same as AC but hope he becomes one of my favorite players. That has more to it than talent alone. I’m trying to clear the slate of my first impression of him. With his Mr. T starter kit and all. Seems it’d be hard to not catch the spirit that’s displayed with the demeanor the Dodgers share. Even from where I’m at I’m getting it strong and expect we can win every game. Well at least 2/3’s of them forward. I think the team will be more than ready and open for changing their approach at the plate. Even from an unproven instructor as all has to be well aware they should of done much better. Simply winning the pennant is short of the goal. It’s as simple as difficult as it was. 2nd place sucks. The retooled- recharged 2019 Dodgers ain’t falling short this time, staying off the DL is the biggest hurdle. CHEERS!

    3. Watford

      It is good to hear from you!

      I hope Verdugo can take this chance and be a hitter that we can count on.

      Because as you know, I think hitters that hit for an average and can hit in high leverage situations, are a rarity in baseball today.

      And I think that is what we have been missing for a while, especially against good pitching, and in the post season.

  3. I was a big Pederson fan when he first came up and he did have his moments, but as time went by right or wrong I think more and more of Pederson being happy to just be in the majors, and the Dodgers need much more from him than that type of mind set. I would rather see Toles or Taylor win the position in ST and move Pederson to another team.
    I think Verdugo can be a very good major league player, and yes there are rumors about him, but I still hope he gets his chance to play and we can see what he can or can t do. If he is a distraction he will be dealt with.

  4. Three years ago, I wrote that Alex Verdugo had an “entitlment attitude” and doubted his liklihood to make the show as a Dodger. I expected him to be traded, I wrote that the apple may not have fallen far from the tree. I have a connection I can’t divulge, but while the tree may be a jerk, the apple is not. Publically, we know Alex has been working with a “Life Coach” for a lack of a better word. Alex has an attitude that is not unlike a Bryce Harper or Manny Machado or a young Matt Kemp or Andre Ethier – they can be very difficult at times. While AC is not a fan of Alex, he recognizes that the young man has a unique bat-to-ball hit tool, I think an improved attitude PLUS RVS PLUS maturity will propel him to ROY (if he hasn’t accumulated too much MLB time – I haven’t looked)! Great Blog AC!

    Watford nailed it too. Change is in the air and Friedman is driving the train.

    Here’s a late bloomer who could surprise one of these years: Kyle Garlick. He’s already 27, and by all accounts is a journeyman. He’s also a guy who could blast 30 HR and hit .260 to .270 in the right situation. I think he’s a year or two away. He needs to develope better pitch recognition and walk more. He could be a project for RVS. If he does well, they could hold a festival in Gilroy in his honor.

    1. I love your optimism Mark! I would also like to see Garlick succeed. He has a great story and has spent a lot of time off the field taking care of his sick mom. I sure hope he breaks out this year. I also hope that RVS pays dividends for us. AC has a point that he will need buy in from the players. It’s great to see JT, our team leader, professing his faith in the Front Office. I think this goes a long way in setting the tone of cooperation and buy in towards RVS. Along with the reports of so many hitters already working with him lends me to believe that he’ll have more buy in and success than he had with the DBags. It was smart for the Dodgers to remove obstacles to RVS by surrounding him with his own assistants.

      My bold prediction is that Joc is going to take another step forward this year. He seems like he’s settled in on a swing after working on shortening up and getting a comfortable stance over the last couple of years. This is Joc’s breakout year. Maybe he can do some damage against lefties with some help from RVS and Roberts letting him play more.

      I think Verdugo will be given a long leash, but we have depth to overcome if it doesn’t work out.

      A guy that no one is ever talking about is Edwin Rios. He’s my dark horse to become the next pleasant surprise for the Dodgers. Last Spring he was beast mode launching 2 mammoth blasts over the batting eye in limited playing time. He played hurt last year and still hit. I would love to see what a healthy Rios can do.

      I miss the days of the old school leadoff hitter. I’m pulling for CT3 to reduce his stikeouts and become that guy. He gets on base and has the wheels to steal bases. I would like to see him push it to the next level.

      Not much longer. Can’t wait for some Spring Games to start in just less than 2 weeks!

  5. Good news on Pollock that I was unaware of. The Dodger homepage included this tidbit in the article on Pollock.

    Pollock broke his right elbow in 2010 Spring Training and missed the entire season after undergoing surgery to implant a plate that, it turned out, did not stabilize the joint as hoped, because one of the screws sheared off. Pollock played five more seasons with the elbow not truly healed until it broke again on a slide into home at the end of Spring Training 2016. He missed five months, but this time the surgery was successful.

  6. There will be several battles for playing time this year. Maybe the biggest one will determine who plays second base. I would like to see Muncy play second against righties and lefties if he figures out what happened at the end of last year.

    If Muncy wins out at second Belli plays first.
    If Taylor wins out at second Muncy plays first.

    But what happens if Pederson, Toles, Verdugo have huge springs and Muncy, Taylor, and Kike’ don’t?

    1. I would like to see Muncy’s bat in the lineup, Joc take a step forward, Verdugo to succeed with that big arm in RF and Taylor to become the traditional lead-off hitter that we’re lacking. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough positions for all of them.

      C – Barnes/Martin
      1B – Bellinger / Muncy / Freese
      2B – Taylor / Kike / Muncy
      SS – Seager / Taylor
      3B – Turner / Freese
      LF – Joc / Taylor / Bellinger
      CF – Pollock / Belliger
      RF – Verdugo / Bellinger / Toles

      This could become a real big problem for our indecisive manager that habitually sits players to kill their hot streaks.

  7. Wow AC, I really hope you’re wrong about Verdugo. I have high hopes for that quick bat and rocket arm of his.

    I love the Pollack move. My brother is a Southern Calif. optometrist the provides sports vision therapy and over the years has provided the service to several minor leaguers. He had a connection with DBacks players and Pollock was one of the few that continued the work after making it to the show. Long story short…he’s an extremely hard worker at his craft with a humble, teachable attitude.

  8. Alright here it is, I can admit I’ve had my share of negativity and complaints but I am a positive person especially for my Dodgers, and I’ve also had some hope, so anyone want to share there thoughts on what we can possibly expect from our boys in blue! Or is there hope for us

    1. 100+ wins. Home field advantage throughout the playoffs and another World Series appearance. This time we win vs The Yankees on the backs of great pitching and timely hitting. Ryu, Bueller and Urias dominating in the post season with Kershaw finally making it through without a meltdown. The pen will overshadow the overrated Yankees pen and will excel without the extreme workloads of the past. Timely hitting will provide enough offense to come through. Everyone is pulling in the same direction without Machado and Puig distractions.

      1. Wow well said that’s what I want to hear, and see good stuff right there, that’s how we should see thing!!! Well played my friend

  9. Las Vegas currently have the Dodgers as the NL Favorites to get back to the World Series… by a longshot.

    Fangraphs has the Dodgers with the most wins in the NL.

    The Sporting News projects the Dodgers with 95 wins and that was before the signing of AJ Pollock.

    Mark Timmons says they will win it all in 2019! Of course, I said that the past three years… and damn if they did not get close.

    This team is better than the 2019 version. I think they are MUCH BETTER!

    1. If they stay healthy, Mark. 1 or 2 key injuries can produce a roller coaster season like we had last year. Think HEALTH!!

    2. Man, I thought 2018 was gonna be better than 2017. Then Seager, Turner and Jansen happened. Our luck is gonna swing the other way this year. When this team is firing on all cylinders, it’s really hard to beat. I think Thierren is going to be a beast and our pen is going to be ungodly!

      1. It’s hard to find anyone more positive on the Dodgers the past three years than me… but I thunk we just found him!

  10. For me there is a time for eternal optimism and constructive criticism. For me that time for eternal optimism is when the pitchers and catchers report to ST. At that point I try to forget what I thought the shortcomings of the team were. Not every team is perfect, and not every team makes the right moves 100% of the time. If you cannot acknowledge the misses, then it is much harder to appreciate the great moves.
    .
    My criticism o f Verdugo did not come from what I heard on the BA podcast. My opinion was borne from personal observation in the 4 game series OKC had in Sacramento against the River Cats last summer. The BA podcast only reinforced my personal observations. While I have my favorites, I am more interested in the players who are more enamored with the name in front of their jersey rather than the name on the back. That being said, I hope I am wrong too and he wins ROY while winning the batting title. That means the Dodgers will have yet another weapon. AF has far more ability to judge talent than I will ever have, and I agree with those that say that AF must see something very special in him. Alex Verdugo is a very talented player. I had no objection that Yasiel Puig, a fan favorite, was jettisoned to Cincinnati in large part to make room for Alex Verdugo. I have said on numerous occasions that Verdugo should be stationed in RF and leave him there; success or failure. IMO Puig has more talent than Verdugo, but it is Verdugo’s turn. Verdugo’s talent is different than Puig’s, and maybe it is that difference that will help LAD cross the finish line. I just hope he realizes what was done so that he could get his golden chance. There is certainly nothing left for him to do in AAA.
    .
    I have no clue whatsoever if the Dodgers are planning on any additions between now and March 28, and with the number of FA still unsigned, there is at least a chance that some kind of move will occur. I still believe that Boras wants the Dodgers involved in the Bryce Harper negotiations, and maybe by showcasing SFG interest he can get LAD re-engaged. I am certain that AF could care less what SFG might do in regards to Bryce Harper. If Bryce Harper does want to play for the Dodgers I am sure that both parties can come to a mutually “fair” deal. But if Boras and Harper want to break salary and contract records both in terms of total dollars and AAV, he is not going to be a Dodger. I do believe that Kasten and the rest of the owner’s group are willing to exceed the CBT threshold for a “reasonable” contract. At least they have said they would. They will absolutely be under the threshold next year. If there is a deal to be made, I feel AF can make it happen. But if not, he is not going to let supposed interest by SF or Philly or Washington influence his decision. Apparently to Harper and Boras money talks and Philadelphia says they will not be outbid for one of Harper or Machado. They have been the favorite for Bryce Harper from the beginning and I see no reason to change that perception.
    .

    1. If Harper is signed the Dodgers will make room for him on the 25 meaning someone has to traded or sent to OK. There is talk that the Dodgers cleaned up the clubhouse with trades and improved it with Pollock. Do they now ignore the clubhouse by signing Harper?

      1. Bums, I wonder about the clubhouse as well. Because the Dodgers will not pay him what he wants, Harper would come to LA only because he wants to be a Dodger Maybe that is a difference maker. Plus, I do not think that Kershaw would let the entitled attitude go without being criticized. Kershaw has never once come across with an entitled mentality, and if anyone deserves it, he does. Kershaw competes and expects everyone else to. Maybe CK should take a more selfish attitude to the playoffs. I do believe the Dodgers have been more of a team than are the Nats. Probably not as talented individually, but collectively they played better. Maybe that is what Bryce Harper needs. MAYBE!
        .
        I still do not think he will be a Dodger, but as 59inarow has stated numerous times, he will believe he can be a Dodger until he signs somewhere else.

    2. AC

      It is hard to avoid the irony there seems to be between Puig and Verdugo.

      But I can’t imagine any young player that won’t hustle or be totally focused once they get their major league chance, but that is me.

      So hopefully Verdugo takes this chance seriously, and realizes it is not as hard to make the majors, as to stay up in the majors, so every player has to take things seriously.

      1. MJ, I do hope Verdugo comes to camp trying to win the everyday RF job and “balls out” every game. RF is his job to lose, but I hope he does not have that attitude. He is talented both offensively and defensively. I still do not think he is at the level of talent as Yasiel Puig, but I hope I am wrong. The one thing you can control in life is your effort. Just show me effort and I will be your biggest fan. Talent gets you drafted high. Effort allows you to succeed with that talent. Why is it that so many top rated draft picks never make it, but late round picks do. It is not because of talent.

        1. AC

          I have no doubt with you when it comes to fairness, and when it comes to respect, and that is why I respect you a lot.

          And your knowledge is tops!

  11. Wow – everyone put on their rose-colored glasses this morning, didn’t they?

    The 2018 Dodgers won 12 fewer games then the 2017 version. This year’s team has traded or lost to free agency 11 WAR, and added a catcher who hits in the .190s (Martin), a reliever who averaged 4.4 BB/9 last season (Kelly) and a very good CF who has had 1 healthy season out of 7 (Pollock).

    I get that Seager if/when healthy adds 5 WAR and is an important missing piece, but the Dodgers have already said they don’t expect him to start the season on the 25 man roster. We hope he’s healthy but there’s no way to know if he’ll be the player that he was.

    I get that Wood was duplicative and that those dollars would be better spent on a reliever, so the Dodgers signed Kelly. But the Dodgers’ bullpen was a weakness last season, not a strength – 2nd worst in blown saves. And they have many of the same pitchers this year – no major changes.

    I get that the Dodgers wanted to clear space for Verdugo this season. I for one have no idea if he’s going to be an improvement over Puig, but Puig has been one of the top defensive RF in MLB for several seasons and has been a potent bat as well.

    Anyone here think that the Dodgers would have made the post-season without the 1st half contributions of Matt Kemp?

    And what did the Dodgers get for the salary dump that was the Farmer trade? The corpse of Homer Bailey, 2 mid-level prospects, and $7 MM in cap space that has gone to partially defray the cost of the Pollock signing.

    And the Dodgers have replaced Grandal, a consensus top 5 catcher, with a 36 year old who can no longer either hit or throw out baserunners.

    The Dodgers are going to be better this year? Who do you think that?

    They will be better if Turner starts the season on the big league roster and not on the DL.
    They will be better if Seager returns at some point as the Seager of old.
    They will be better if the team allows Jansen to use spring training to get ready for the season (and if he’s healthy).
    They will be better if Kelly learns to throw strikes and Baez shows it wasn’t a 2 month mirage.
    They will be better if Bellinger learns to lay off of the low inside breaking ball, if Taylor stops trying to hit everything out and if they find an every-day 2B.
    They will be better if they stop the constant roster shuffle, platooning, and overswinging.

    That’s a lot of ifs.

    1. Rick, give me a team that does not have a lot of “ifs” going into ST. That is what ST is supposed to sort out. What NL West team can match the talent of the Dodgers, even with their “ifs”? The Dodgers should actually win the NL West going away. Once in the playoffs, there is always a chance. Think 1988. Sure there are a lot of questions still to be answered. I notice you did not mention Kershaw’s big if to stay healthy.
      .
      Also when did you become a Grandal fan? I am not trying to be a smart a**, I honestly do not remember you saying anything positive about him. I look at catcher as a defense first position, and I am fine with AB back there. He calls a good game (per Clayton Kershaw), he blocks balls in the dirt far better than Grandal. He does not have the arm Grandal has, nor the bat (at least power). I see Martin as a better mentor to AB, Ruiz, and Smith than Nick Hundley or Matt Wieters. The Dodgers were not going to give up two top prospects for 2 years of JTR, so what other choice did they have? Sometimes more goes into a certain player acquisition other than pure metrics. Otherwise Chase Utley would not have been with the Dodgers as long as he was. It is undeniable what effect he had on the ML development of Corey Seager. I have never heard anything negative about Russ Martin as a teammate.
      .
      Rick, the pitchers and catchers report on Tuesday (although many are there now). It is time to put on the rose-colored glasses.

    2. Rick, I have two words for you. Pythagorean Record. We should have won 102 last year.

      Here’s some more words…

      That’s a lot of ifs, but they’re also easy to obtain.
      Turner broke his hand to start on the DL. Freak injury, chances are it isn’t going to happen again.
      Seager is not only going to be the Seager of old, he’s going to better. Of course, every surgery is serious, but Tommy John is not a huge risk for a position player and his hip was arthroscopic surgery, basically the least invasive of surgeries. It’s not unreasonable to think that 25 yo Seager will be better than 22 yo Seager.
      Kenley will be better than last year. He’s in shape, he will pitch enough to get ready and he has a better understanding of his heart condition.
      It isn’t a stretch at all to think Kelly and Baez’s adjustments won’t stick. Both have ungodly stuff. Baez was a infielder coming up. It takes time to learn how to pitch.
      I don’t find it unreasonable to think Belli, Taylor and Barnes for that matter, can produce somewhere in between their 2017 and 2018 numbers.
      Your last point is the most important and something I agree with 100% and the one that I’m most concerned with. With all the options that Roberts has, I’m very scared he’s gonna shuffle a different lineup every day. But, they got rid of their GM and game planning coach. I hope this is the signal that something will change. They also got rid of the hitting department, so again, a sign that they want to change their all or nothing approach to hitting.

  12. Count Austin Barnes as yet another disciple of the RVS hitting methodology. He has spent time with him this past winter re-working his swing and gaining confidence that it will be much improved over last year.

      1. He has no reason to change. I think some of his warning track power gets the extra several feet after his hip surgery.

        1. He and JT are the 2 best pure hitters they have. Both will jump the 1st pitch if they like it, both will shorten up and go the other way with 2 strikes and both are good in the clutch. I would add Muncy who has excellent pitch recognition and gets into fastball counts where he really shines. I think RVS can only help all 3 because their basics are so fundamentally sound.

          1. I also think Corey is going to get some more untapped power, after having that surgery to take away the hip impringement, he had.

            And I think Corey is also going to avoid any future injuries he might have had, if he didn’t get this fixed like he did.

    1. The fact that we’re getting reports of so many players working with RVS already is a good sign that they have already bought in.

  13. Watford my Man – Hope all is well across the pond… Great takes ..
    AC, as usual a great bit of reading… Like others though, you’re killing me on Verdugo… I hope he defies rumors and provides us with some damn hitting in this lineup.. Say it’s true M.T.

      1. Mark

        I just hope Verdugo doesn’t read all your predictions about HRs, and he just stays within himself.

        Because that is where his real strength is.

    1. peterj, Yesterday you asked if anyone had been to Kauai recently. We were there 2 years ago and will be in Princeville the first two weeks of March this year. My wife and I have been to Kauai five times and also to Maui and Oahu. Kauai is by far our favorite.

    1. Bum

      By the way, I don’t count 398 out of 550 players just behind a multiply injured Matt Kemp, as average speed, Ha, Ha.

      But when I was looking at sprint speed, I noticed Pollack had the exact sprint speed numbers that Puig had last year.

  14. Rick is right; we do have a lot of questions and what if’s. What he fails to point out, repeatedly, is that every other team in the NL has more questions and what if’s than we do! There is a reason 3 teams in the AL are considered better than us; they have less questions and what if’s. There’s a reason almost every singe expert, publication, predictor, guesser, and bettor is betting on the Dodgers to run away with the NL West, and likely get back to the world series. We have less questions and what if’s!!

    If our what if’s pan out, we’re right there with Boston and Houston, and ahead of NY. But we have a lot of leeway to still get by Col, Az, SF, and SD and win the NL West. If some of those questions and what if’s prove to be justified by July, then I’d bet our smart management, our wealth, and our top 10 farm will allow us to improve the roster and lessen those questions and those what if’s.

    More importantly, and going off of one of AC’s points above, since we don’t seem to have any “sure things’ outfielders coming up anytime soon, perhaps it is smart to purchase a Bryce Harper, at the rate he seems to be going for now. That’s about as sure a thing as you’ll get; he’s 26, and it will allow us to trade our lesser versions of Bryce Harper (Joc, Toles, Verdugo) and really stock up our farm or add to an area we could improve on. Nobody in their right mind (and that includes everyone on this board) wanted Harper (or Manny) for $400mil. But now, if the price is near $200mil? Shoot, sign me up!!

    1. Bobby, I really agree with your 1st 2 paragraphs but a hard pass on Harper for a bunch of reasons and the biggest is that whoever does sign him (and likely Machado too) will probably regret it in a few years. I like the path they are on but still think a few tweaks could help this year. They don’t need a big splash move like some teams do.

  15. Epic post today AC and a lot of food for thought. I can’t help thinking there is a move or 2 left to make. How can a guy like Buchholz still be unsigned? Guys are taking minor league deals now w/ST invite for $1-2 M. Sure the rotation is deep but with a lot of injury history, including Strip and Urias. Stashing a proven starter in AAA just in case seems prudent. How about Adam Jones, a SoCal boy and still some bat left and RH? He’s won 4 GG’s though not what he once was in the OF. Or are CT3 and Kike going to platoon in the OF as the RH bats instead? There are still some potential steals out there right now to be had.

      1. Jones makes a lot more sense for the Padres than Harper, that’s for sure! Jones is not that much different than McCutcheon and he got paid.

    1. Desire to change his approach. He said last year he wanted to cut back on his K’s and yet he struck it more than anyone in the Texas League (AA) and 2nd most in all of MiLB. That does show a desire to change in my eyes.

      1. They always say Bobby Bonds was the only minor league player that struck out at that rate in the minors, and was successful in the majors too.

  16. I think they will let verdugo play and see how he does on and off the field. He struggles they will trade him. I think they should trade kenta maeda, I don’t think they see him as a starter. Unless Hill or Ryu struggling or get hurt. I’m intrigued to see the prospect they invited to spring training.

    1. If Hill and Ryu walk next year they may need Maeda, especially since he can go to the bullpen and be effective and has a really team friendly contract. Same with Strip, he is so cheap they have to keep him and he is a valuable guy to have around.

  17. I agree that the Dodgers should run away with the NL West – but they were supposed to last year when they ended the season with 91 wins and tied with the Rockies, who are not that good in my opinion.

    That’s the issue – last year’s bunch were supposed to be a powerhouse and barely won the division. They aren’t improved over last year’s squad, in my opinion. They will hopefully be healthier than last year and that may be the big difference. If Kershaw, Turner, Jansen and Seager stay healthy they will be better than last year by default. But – a big if.

    And look it up – the Brewers, Cardinals, Mets are better than last year – and the Nationals have improved in some areas although they’ve presumably last Harper.

    And the AL “super teams” – the Yankees are better. Houston has end of rotation questions and Correia’s health is an issue; they’ve lost Marwin Gonzalez too. Boston has lost Kimbrel and Kelly.

    I want to see the Dodgers win it like everyone else does. The question: are they playing for 2020 or 2021 (and the distant future), or are they trying to win it this year? Shouldn’t they “sell out” to win at least once?

    1. I think they are better but we’ll find out. Harper seemed obvious but when we see his eventual contract maybe we’ll understand better. Seager is not be underestimate. Bullpen could be special. Overall depth continues to improve. Next wave of prospect talent is 1-2 years away. We need Verdugo to hit.

    2. Just exactly how are the Brewers better over last year? They have lost Wade Miley, Gio Gonzalez, Mike Moustakas, Joakim Soria, Dan Jennings, Domingo Santana, Keon Broxton, Xavier Cedeno, and not so much Jonathan Schoop. They have added Yasmani Grandal, Alex Claudio, Ben Gamel, and Cory Spangenburg. Ryan Braun and LoCain are a year older, and just how much better can Christian Yelich get? How much improvement can they expect out of Jhoulys Chacin. I like Chacin but as a #5, not an Ace. There are way more ifs on Jimmy Nelson than the entire Dodger rotation.
      .
      The Mets have improved, but they had a long way to go to begin with, and talk about the Dodger ifs. Jason Vargas as their #5? Or will it be Gsellman or Lugo? I like Robby Cano and Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia. But Jed Lowrie over Jeff McNeil? Who plays in the OF before Cespedes gets back (if at all this year). They have made improvements, but their talent level does not approach the Dodgers.
      .
      Cardinals have gained Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew Miller but lost Bud Norris. Forget about Bud Norris as a Dodger, he was good as a Cardinal. Which Andrew Miller is going to show up? He certainly was not formidable last year. With the loss of Carson Kelly, they do not have a 2nd catcher on their 40 man, and only 1 top 30 catcher prospect, Andrew Knizner. They do have a deep pitching staff, but overall not as talented as the Dodgers pitching staff, starters or relievers.
      .
      Nobody disputes that the Dodgers have questions. But so do the other teams, and the other teams cannot afford nearly as many misses as can the Dodgers.

  18. Russel Martin is terrible and has been for several years. He was one of those dope fiend moves mt talks about that Toronto signed.Typical dodger move cheap, over the hill, injury prone. Since the Dodgers missed out on any good catchers he is probably as good as all the other blue light specials if he isn’t on the injured list all year. Puig vs. verdugo, puig will undoubtably put up better numbers in Cincy but verdugo will add solid d hit lefties better and k less. The biggest asset is he is cheap. Roy, attitude hmmm we shall see. Pollock, again an injury prone player cheap by today’s contracts. Everyone seems to be in love with this one but that won’t last if he is not on the field. He is a good, solid player, who bats rh but high risk. I have said all along that seager has a better chance not starting on opening day than starting. They always give you the, he is right on target, blah blah blah but he will be lucky to be a regular until April. With 2 serious injuries who knows how he recovers. I said Taylor and kike were the most secure players on the roster because of caution over seager. How many times will turner get hit on the wrist? He is continually pitched inside and has missed lots of games. Does anybody really believe Muncy can duplicate las year? I do look for bellinger to make big strides in the next couple of years. He has tremendous talent. The starting pitching staff appears to be very strong. If kershaw , ryu, and hill can stay off the injured list. Buehler and urias could become aces. The bullpen should be better. Improvement from Jansen would be a good start, floro, Baez, Kelly plus stripling Therrien etc give a lot of good rh options. Cingrani, Alexander, Ferguson,urias, provide solid lefties although I expect urias to be in the rotation in the end. Freese quality off the bench. This team is very good with the pitching being the strength. The starting 8 is contingent on keeping turner, pollack, seager on the field. Seager is certainly on his way to being a great player if he can pick up where he left off. I would like to see Harper on a short term deal but not going to happen. We will have to get off to a better start to win 95 games. I am optimistic that this team will win the division but the World Series will require a different roster. That is not a criticism as each team will probably have to adjust their roster.

    1. I am of the opinion and will continue to believe that if you are good enough to get to the World Series, you are good enough to win it. The big difference is …
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  19. The 91 wins last year came after an horrendous start. There are still lots of questions that have to be answered, but I do have reason to believe that the start will be better this year and the number of wins will be closer to the high 90’s, and maybe more.

    First I expect the pen to be much improved. There are questions that KJ has to answer, but I’m optimistic that he’s headed for a big comeback. The loss of 25 pounds is encouraging, and it appears that his approach to ST will incorporate the lessons learned from last year. And while some hope that increased health will result in greater velocity, I am focused more on his command and cutter movement. KJ doesn’t depend on velocity’. His game is all about cutter movement and his ability to throw strikes consistently, both of which were not up to their usual standards last year.

    In addition, Kelly adds a big arm to the end of games, and hopefully Pedro Baez starts where he left-off last year, I.e., throwing his off-speed stuff with greater frequency to keep hitters from sitting on his fastball. I also expect that he is continuing to refine his off-speed stuff.

    I also expect the hitting to be improved, but we’ll have to wait to see that. Health is always a wildcard, but it would certainly help if JT doesn’t get hit on the wrist again.

    If as it looks the division is weaker this year, that will also boost the Dodgers’ win total. And if the Dodgers do run away with the division, that will in itself create opportunities for the Dodgers to get some of their younger players, and prospects in general, involved in higher leveraged situations.

    Color me optimistic, but fully aware of all the things that could go wrong.

  20. I don’t think the Dodgers lacked heart in either 2017 or 2018. Last years team was simply not able to adjust and correct their all or nothing approach. And it didn’t help that Kenley Jansen was never himself last year. They certainly showed heart in the 18 inning victory. And there was plenty of fight in the 2017 group. Things just didn’t work out. Only one team can win, and unfortunately it wasn’t the Dodgers.

    But it is true that if you get to the WS you’re good enough to win it. Hopefully the third time is a charm.

  21. Still holding out that Toles can make some noise and push Verdugo’s entitled ass in spring training. Love Toles’ heart over Verdugo’s tats.

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