I do not look at skeptics as a negative. I think we are all skeptics. I think everyone is asking what the Dodgers could do “IF”… The difference is that while the questions are the same, it is how most of us perceive and respond to those “IF” questions. MT, 59inarow, and Bobby do not see many negative outcomes of any of the questions, if any at all. MT sees a 36-year-old catcher who is seemingly wearing down and hitting sub-Mendoza as a prime candidate as another Comeback Player of the Year, while a 33-year-old pitcher with a top 3 CY vote in 4 of the last 5 years (winning 2) as starting to go downhill. Now if Martin was still a Blue Jay and Kluber was a Dodger, I think those beliefs would be a tad different. MT projects Joe Kelly and Scott Alexander as both having HUGE years for the Dodgers, even though there is nothing in their resume that indicates they will.
Dodgerrick does not see Russ Martin as having a renaissance year in 2019, and questions Joe Kelly’s control problems. Is he wrong. Trends certainly indicate he is closer to correct than MT. I am somewhere in between MT and Rick. I think Martin will play better than he did last year but will not make up for the loss of Grandal’s power. However, I do not see any other catcher possibility that could have helped the Dodgers other than a tremendous overpay for two years of JTR. So what are they supposed to do? Should they have spent $18MM for one more year of Grandal when he wasn’t good enough to start during the past two WS? I can be patient with a very good defensive catcher in Austin Barnes until Smith or Ruiz are ready. With respect to Kelly, I understand Rick’s concern, but I also recognize that Kelly has abandoned his worst pitch (slider) to concentrate on his 4 seam and 2 seam fastball and curve. He has shown that he has control over those pitches, and he was nearly unhittable in the postseason concentrating with those pitches. Will that continue? MT says unequivocally yes, Rick is not convinced, while I lean to Kelly having a good year. But Rick is not wrong with his looking at the metrics and casting doubt. Rick has never said that Kelly will not be good, only that he questions those of us who think he can be.
MT sees Kike’ as a potential JDM. While I do not remember Rick responding to that specific projection, I find that extremely hard to fathom. Kike’ is a super utility player, and nothing more.
Some believe Muncy will have a repeat year of 2018. There is nothing to indicate that he will, and it is just as likely that he will regress as CT3 and Belli did from 2017. Are those who think that Muncy will not repeat somehow not Dodger fans?
AJ Pollock’s health has been questioned, but apparently very few are concerned about Hyun-Jin Ryu’s health, and much larger annual salary. Because Pollock’s injuries have not been structural, and Ryu has had a significant shoulder surgery, I tend to lean towards Pollock having a much better shot at a healthy year over Ryu. But it is conceivable that both will remain healthy and both could spend significant time on the new IL.
Some look at the Farmer trade as a salary dump, while others look at it as moving players that would not be a big help for the team, thus opening it up and subsidizing for others including someone like AJ Pollock. I know many question the potential of both Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray, but both are top 10 Dodger prospects in at least one top prospect poll (Keith Law). We have learned that you can never have enough pitching or middle infielders who can become valuable multiple position players. I do not get the impression that Rick places a lot of faith in prospects, even though he does value the depth that it does give the Dodgers. He would rather have players that will benefit the ML team this year rather than prospects who cannot impact the 25 man until 2020-2022. I do not agree with that, but I also do not see it as a negative.
Rick does not need me to defend him, but I do not see Rick being negative at all. I think he is all about planning for what can go wrong rather than counting on everything going right. MT, 59inarow, and Bobby do not see much going wrong and believe the already ever-present depth is more than enough to ward off any injuries or poor performances. I do not disagree for the 162-game season but do question the potential playoff rosters. Most of us are somewhere in between, with some leaning more to the overly optimist, and some leaning towards the seemingly pessimist.
During the week, Idahoal asked Dodgerrick what he would do different. I have asked Rick the same on multiple occasions, and each time he has either ignored the query or responded that the roster is not his job to create or fix. But he does have the right to question how it is put together. I have only come to learn that he truly likes Clayton Kershaw, but do not know of any others.
The funny thing is that IMO, AF is also somewhere inbetween.
- I think he has concerns about how many innings each of his SP can go but will have 6 starters on the 25 man with 3 or 4 or 5 in OKC or extended ST just waiting.
- I think he would rather have a better offensive catcher, but not at the expense of Lux, May, and either Ruiz or Smith.
- I am sure he is concerned about Seager’s health, but he is comfortable with CT3 and Kike’ as fill-ins and has AAAA Daniel Castro at OKC along with Gavin Lux if need be.
- I am sure he has seen all of Pollock’s medical records and is convinced that he is very capable of playing 140 games, which coincidentally is also about the same number of games we can expect out of JT, who also seems to have his share of injuries. Very few seem to bring that up.
- I am sure that AF has spoken to Honey about Joe Kelly’s new pitch repertoire, and both have spoken to Kelly and are comfortable with his response.
- I am sure he tried to get a difference maker for the team, but it takes two to agree to a trade or to accept a “fair” and “reasonable” FA offer.
- There were no sure thing relievers available in the FA market. I would still like to see if Clay Buchholz would accept another minor league contract. He would be another depth SP or a potential quality RP. But if he does not want a minor league contract, where would he sit on the current 25-man roster. I think Buchholz wants to continue to start and he may also see that he would be behind multiple Dodger potential starters. So, while there may be interest, there probably is not a spot. Remember just because AF or the fans may want a specific player, that someone has to also want to be a Dodger.
Off the top of my head, I have listed 30 Questions going into ST.
- What SP pitchers will be healthy? Will there be a need for 7 or 12 in the depth chart?
- Will Kershaw’s back and hip hold up?
- Will Ryu’s shoulder hold out for 150 innings? What is the over under on starts?
- Will Doc finally believe in Rich Hill to go thru the order 3 times?
- When will Buehler actually take the torch for being the Ace?
- Where will Urias start the year? Dodgers bullpen? OKC starting rotation? Extended ST?
- How long before Stripling or Urias take over for Maeda, with Maeda moving to the bullpen?
- Will Caleb Ferguson go back to starting or continue to be a superb reliever.
- When will Corey Seager be ready to fulfill his MVP destiny?
- Who will be 2B?
- Who will play more games, JT or AJ Pollock?
- Will Max Muncy repeat 2018 or regress a little?
- Will David Freese get enough AB’s to be impactful?
- Will Austin Barnes or Russell Martin become the primary catcher?
- Will Barnes get closer to his 2017 season or 2018?
- When will Jesen Therrien make his LAD debut?
- Will Joe Kelly be comfortable staying with his 4 seam/2 seam/curveball?
- Will Pedro Baez be El Gasolino or the lockdown reliever he was for the last two months in 2018?
- Will Tony Cingrani come back healthy?
- Will Scott Alexander become what MT thinks he will be, or just a good ground ball specialist?
- Will the Dodgers break camp with a 12 man pitching staff or 13 man?
- Who will break camp as the relievers?
- How long before Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, Gavin Lux, and Mitchell White make the OKC roster?
- How long before Dennis Santana makes the 25 man?
- Will Yadi Alvarez or Josh Sborz make any noise?
- What happens to Brock Stewart and Yimi Garcia?
- Is Kevin Quackenbush ready for a renaissance of his own?
- Will the Dodgers need to rely on Adam McCreery or Jaime Schultz anytime during the year?
- Will Doc abandon the seemingly endless lineup changes?
- We are all Dodger fans, but who are the optimists and who are the pessimists?
Some of those questions will turn out positively while others not so much. But the more important questions will come approaching the trade deadline. Because the answer to those questions just might mean a WS championship or another good season…better luck next year.