What Does The Future Hold?

Well, I was going to continue with my analysis of the NL West competition, but I thought that I would comment on the this past week and what the future may hold. Most Dodger fans got caught up in all of the Bryce Harper sweepstakes (including me), but as many of us said at the beginning of the Hot Stove League, a long term deal for Bryce Harper is not an Andrew Friedman & Co. move. I even noted early on that I will come back and apologize to 59inarow if the Dodgers did sign him, and I was getting my apology blog post ready to publish when he took the 13 years and $330MM contract with no opt outs, no trade, and no deferrals with Philly. His contract is very straight forward:

Year One – Age 26 – $10MM salary + $20MM signing bonus

Years Two – Ten – Age 27-35 – $26MM salary

Years Eleven – Thirteen – Age 36-38 – $22MM salary

There is no way AF was going to go there. I am somewhat embarrassed that I allowed even a thought of belief that Harper could be a Dodger. Admittedly I got caught up in the hype. I am not in the camp that believes that AF is going to offer something he is not willing to pay just to drive up the price, or to placate a fan base. I believe he was willing to pay $180MM for the next four years , but not go beyond 4 years. To justify that salary, Harper would need to average 5.6 WAR for the four years, and he has exactly 1 year with a WAR greater than 5.6, and only one other greater than 5.0. So all of the Harper pundit fans from Plaschke to Nostler can argue that the Dodgers blew it, but IMO they came out the winner on this one.

I am not anti-Bryce Harper. I think he improves any team he is on, including the Dodgers. But not at the cost he is getting from Philadelphia. He has never been a difference maker in the playoffs with a very good Washington Nationals team. He played in 4 NLDS, and advanced to the NLCS exactlyNEVER. In 19 games, 89 PA, Harper batted .211/.315/.417/.801, with 23 strikeouts, 5 HRs, and 10 RBIs. Not exactly stellar or clutch. During the 162 game season, he does have good numbers WRISP and WRISP w/2 outs.

I do not think the Nats are upset. I think they believe they are fine with Victor Robles and Michael Taylor replacing Harper. Taylor almost carried the Nats to the NLCS in 2017 with games 4 and 5. In the 2017 NLDS, Taylor hit .333/.444/.733/1.178 with 2 HRs and 8 RBIs, while Harper batted .211/.304/.421/.725 with 1 HR and 3 RBIs.

What does Harper mean for Philly? The Phillies have the makings of a decent offensive team, but certainly not monstrous.

C – JT Realmuto

1B – Rhys Hopkins

2B – Cesar Hernandez

3b – Maikel Franco

SS – Jean Segura

LF – Andrew McCutcheon

CF – Odubel Herrera

RF – Bryce Harper

It is a good lineup, with a probable bench of Andrew Knapp (C), Nick Williams (OF), Aaron Altherr (OF), and Scott Kingery (IF). It is not nearly as impressive as the Nats offensive lineups have been. Plus, there is no depth if anyone gets hurt.

Pitching is going to be very questionable. After Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta the next three figure to be Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin, and Jared Eickhoff, with Vince Velasquez figuring in there as well. The bullpen is a total unknown after Seranthony Dominguez (R), David Robertson (R), and James Pazos (L). They are going to need to cull the balance of the pen from Tommy Hunter (R) (if he ever gets healthy again), Pat Neshek (R), Juan Nicasio (R), Hector Neris (R), Edubray Ramos (R), and Jose Alvarez (L).

The Phillies will be better, but still not as good (IMO) as the Nats or Braves. Nola and Arrieta are going to need to battle for CY if the Phils are going to be contenders.

Now that AF has shown us all again that he is not going to be an active pursuer of long term FA, what does that mean for the likes of Corey Seager (2022), Cody Bellinger (2024), Julio Urias (2024), and Walker Buehler (2025). Those FA years are per the current CBA, but who knows what they may be after 2021. The first three Dodger players are clients of Scott Boras. Boras is not an advocate for his clients contracting out of FA years, but he has done it. Stephen Strasburg and Jose Altuve are the most widely known. Strasburg’s is a labyrinth maze, but Altuve’s is pure vanilla compared to Strasburg’s. Altuve wanted to stay in Houston and Strasburg wanted the flexibility, and both got what they wanted.

Urias will be a FA in his 27 year old season, while Seager and Belli will be 28, and Buehler will turn 30 in his FA year. I can see Boras advising his three clients to hold off and wait for FA, but with Buehler’s injury history and turning 30 in 2025, it is certainly possible that if Buehler has a stellar year, AF will reach out to Buehler’s agent to work on an extension. At one point Excel Sports Management was his agency (same as Kershaw), but he currently does not list one in any of the publications’ agency databases. I would not rule out a Scott Boras relationship.

The Dodgers will have potentially $72MM coming off the AAV charts after 2019, and then another $16MM (JT) after 2020, and $16MM (Jansen) after 2021. Kershaw’s comes off after 2022. While it is unlikely with $18MM salary due in 2020 and $20MM salary due in 2021, Jansen could opt out after 2019.

The Dodgers have a lot of flexibility and options after 2019. But what about 2019? We have already seen a potentially crushing injury to Clayton Kershaw. The Dodgers do not need Dallas Keuchel or Gio Gonzalez, and the ship has sailed on Kluber. So they are going with what they have. Yes Urias could fit in for Kersh, but he was already going to be on an innings limit, so what will that mean? I know so many of you are very high on Ryu, but he accumulated ALL OF 82.1 IP in 2018, and has had a significant shoulder surgery, and yet some think he is a better option than Corey Kluber. Why? Because of all the innings Kluber has pitched and because at 33 he is getting at that age where everything starts to go south. Makes sense, except when you recognize that Ryu is exactly one year younger than Kluber. So 32 is gold, but once you hit 33 you are done?

I also heard arguments against DJLM because of how he hit outside of Coors. Fair argument. But why cherry pick against DJLM and ignore Ryu’s Home/Away metrics? Last year, at Home batting against him .212/.234/.296/.530 with a SO/W ratio of 10/1. However, Away the numbers were .240/.307/.490/.797 with a SO/W ratio of 3.22. Now you cannot complain about DJLM’s numbers away from Coors and ignore Ryu’s away from Dodger Stadium. I guess you could, but it would show an extreme bias.

I am not anti-Ryu, but the money spent on him could have been spent on Wood and Puig, and with Kemp and Bailey being a wash, IMO, the Ryu signing created the necessity of the Farmer trade. With Ryu being a Boras client, I honestly do not believe that AF expected Ryu to accept the QO. If AF has a kryptonite it is the QO. He blew it with Anderson and Ryu, and almost blew it with Kendrick. Kendrick should have accepted the QO as nobody looked to sign him, and the Dodgers got him back at a bargain rate. I should add Kazmir because it was expected that he would opt out after that first year.

Now this team is primed to win the NL West as that is not some monumental task as three of the teams look to be somewhere between #12 and #14 in the NL. Only the Fish look to be worse than the Padres, DBacks, Giants. It is very arguable that both the Pirates and Reds will have better records than those three.

The Dodger starting pitching is solid, for a 162 game schedule. But what happens if Kersh is gone and Urias has a innings limit, and Ryu cannot stay healthy. I am not convinced that rookies or pitchers with 2 pitches (Ferguson, Santana, and Stewart) can be counted on in the playoff pressure cooker. And while the bullpen looks to be sharp with a lot of competition, I am always skeptical because this has been such an overlooked facet of the game the last few years. I agree that when the young guns start to come up they will have a formidable bullpen, but there is a difference between MLB and MiLB, so to expect that to happen in a pennant run is a little ambitious. This year, the pen is going to need to rely on Jansen, Kelly, Baez, Cingrani, Stripling, Floro, Garcia, Alexander, Fields, and Chargois for 8 spots. That may sound good, but it did not get the job done last year, and many were on a failed WS bullpen in 2017. I agree that potentially the pitching can be very good, but potentially not so good.

The position players are solid as well, but need to prove that they can become clutch hitters this year. RISP and RISP w/2 outs has been horrendous the last few years. Does it change this year? It doesn’t just because one thinks it will. History says that it does not. Maybe Verdugo goes off. Maybe Belli, CT3, and Barnes get back that 2017 mojo. Maybe Muncy has another .900+ OPS year. Hopefully Seager is fully healed for a great run. JT absolutely should have a monster year. I predict him to be the MVP winner every year, so why not 2019. Unless Seager beats him out.

The team will be in a great position come trade deadline, but who is available at that time is anybody’s guess. I do not see an Ace available or a JDM. Mark sees a potential in Castellanos, and he might be, but he is still no JDM. There will no doubt be a plethora of relievers available, and hopefully AF will not whiff this year on relievers.

So I absolutely see the positives and the reason to be so optimistic this year, but health is still a concern, and clutch hitting needs to get better (much better). Getting to the playoffs should not be a concern, but winning the final game of the year has been a problem the last two years. Maybe 2019 will beTHE YEAR,

This article has 77 Comments

  1. AC, I think every pitcher tries to improve on the season that has just passed. Ryu has come a long way since he was sidelined. He looked good today against SD. Two scoreless innings, 2K’s, 2 hits. In fact, most of the Dodger starters have seemed ready to go. Stripling against Cleveland, two scoreless innings, 3 K’s, 2 hits. But watching both of these games, revealed a massive failure of the bullpen to pitch quality innings. In fact, so far in ST, our pitching has given up far too many hits and runs. Cleveland and SD clobbered Quackenbush, Baez, Ferguson, Floro, and White. Ferguson and Baez are deemed to be solid relievers. Baez looked like his old self, the one everyone hated. Ferguson was lost.

    I know it is only a couple of games in ST, but you would think that these players would be much more ready than they showed yesterday. This is disturbing to me and I’m wondering if the FO really did improve the bullpen as I see the same old re-treads marched out. I did enjoy watching Santana. He’s got some interesting stuff. Even the day before vs the Reds, Kelly and Chargois both looked bad.

    As you see, I am not filled with optimism at the state of the bullpen, but neither are you. I guess we will see how it all develops for the start of the season.

    1. Pitchers vary as to how they get ready for the season. With many of them, it is simply “feel” and that comes with repetition. Most of the time it is control or “location.” I think we will have 8 live arms in the pen, come Opening Day, but there will be bumps to get there. Baez is usually bad in Spring Training.

      Stetson Allie may very well have a role in the bullpen… he is making great progress and you can’t teach 100+ MPH. Alexander, Gonsolin, Somsen and Santana have looked great. I would expect a young guy like Caleb Ferguson with that big hook to struggle early. He may not make the team out of Spring Training… in fact, they will likely keep him on a starters schedule at AAA.

      Ryu is working on some new pitches… as if he wasn’t good enough last year. He had a shoulder surgery which cost him almost 2 years, but last years injury was a “fluke” – He is a year younger than Kluber, but only has 557 innings on that rebuilt shoulder, while Kluber has 1307 on his un-rebuilt arm. I will admit I am wrong and eat crow if Kluber is good this year… I have heard a lot of talk on MLB.Radio that he may have arm problems all off-season.

      With shoulder injuries, it’s usually about getting back your velocity – Ryu has and Urias has. I think they will both be fine this year. If Clayton is hurt (and I think he is), Urias is in the rotation and may be even if Clayton is not hurt. Maybe it’s time for the six man rotation? What if on day 3, the starter throws an inning, in-between starts? Just brainstorming…

      Maybe on day 3, the starter is “the opener.”

      1. I had thought Ferguson might have nailed down a spot, but I see my own wishful thinking playing tricks on me. I doubt he is ready. I do agree with the bright outlook for Gonsolin, Somsen, and Santana.

        I have no problem with Ryu and Urias. But, if Stripling continues to pitch well, I see him starting before Urias. Hill did not pitch well the other day but I’m not going to say he has lost something. We need a bigger sample size and he is generally reliable.

        A 6 man rotation would help Kershaw and Urias but I have never liked it. It will also water down the stat sheet as we would be in the minority of teams that would use a 6 man rotation. The game still likes pitchers who win 20 and get 200+ SO’s.

        Somehow, Kluber has never been on my radar so my comparative mind never includes him in any way.

  2. Very nice post AC, I agree with you about the Dodgers offer to Harper, it was made with the hope he would accept, but I´m not sure about Ryu, I think the Dodgers were thinking he would accept.

    Kershaw had another promising game of catch yesterday,Kershaw said he was throwing about 80 percent and he felt good, let´s see how it goes.

    Some early LF results
    Hernandez 4 games, 5 for 11, 3 RBI´s,´ 1 BB,1 SO
    Garlick 6 games, 3 for 9, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SO
    Verdugo 5 games, 4 for 12, 2 RBI´s 0 BB, 1 SO
    Pederson 4 games, 1 for 11, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 7 SO

    Time to hit the trails, 44 inches of show in the last 29 days, snowmobile fun.

    1. My vote is Kike starting at 2B.
      Leadoff should be either Verdugo or Pollock. ST should tell us which one will get it. Forget about Joc. Same ol’, same ol’.

  3. I said all along no way the Dodgers sign Harper. However, I was shocked if in fact the Dodgers offered 45 million. I didn’t think there was any way they would go over the luxury tax. I still wonder if AF had any reason to believe that he would consider that contract. But with Walter saying there was no directive to stay under the tax I will take them at their word. The timing of the statement and the interest in Harper seemed to connect. Maybe it was to drive up the price on the Phillies and giants. In my opinion the Dodgers have focused too much on kershaw. Yes he has had a great run(not in the playoffs) but if you look at the facts nothing supports him being a dominant playoff pitcher. So, salute him, pay him, but don’t count on him. I felt we should have tried to get a top line pitcher for the playoffs and I still believe that. I said last year ryu is great at dodger stadium and the numbers concur but I guess Roberts doesn’t. I agree the qo has been problematic for the Dodgers but thank your lucky stars grandal didn’t take it. I like the Dodgers having ryu, not at that price, but I would rather have the money on ryu than puig and wood. If healthy, and that is a big if, buehler urias ryu(in la) and kershaw in that order could get it done. Everybody would need to be at their best at the right time but the arms are there. It won’t happen because they won’t have the brass to slot kershaw where he should be. From junior high to the major leagues the inability of people in charge to make the decisions to win due to ego is always present. Base the decisions on results not on the feelings and maybe we win this year. Maybe Bauer will ruin his relationship with Cleveland and they will move him at the deadline. He could be a short term answe, synegard of the Mets, but really if on their game we have the arms now. We have enough depth in the sp to win the west. The bp looks good if Jansen will just do his job. In the past he has done it but not lately. AF has shown with kershaw, Jansen, and turner he will sign his own so he will make a run at our upcoming free agents.AC your post seems a bit less than your usual optimism. You have pointed out some potential minefields if things go south. If we are not healthy we will have a fight to the end with Colorado again. I think this is a weakness in the current regime to take risk on players like pollock, ryu, kershaw, and others but the depth buildup mitigates the risk that 13 year contracts might impose.

    1. Therealten

      I agree about Kershaw, and that is why I thought AC had a good idea, to let Buehler be our opening day pitcher this year, so Kershaw knows where he stands from the beginning of the season.

      But right now, we don’t know what is happening with Kershaw, and they seem to be resting Buehler somewhat.

        1. I suggested Greinke, Ryu and Kershaw in the first three against
          the Cards in 2013 (2014?). And I’m a big fan of Clayton.

          But I’m not a big fan of Star Ball, or fixed lineups for pitchers or
          hitters. Context is all, and team-wide humility a blessing:-).

      1. The Dodgers have a lot of opening day options. No need to rush kershaw or buehler. Start hill, urias, or ryu opening day. Plug buehler in the 5 spot the first time through. It is a long season buehler, urias, and the rest just need to be fresh for the playoffs. Then, I would put my best 3-4 pitchers in order. I just think we have the quality arms so when the playoffs start put your best, hottest pitchers out there. Just win baby!

    2. Therealten, for me, your comments would be much easier to read if you added white space by breaking up text into double spaced paragraphs.

  4. NIce post today AC. The Harper ship has sailed and back to the boring process that is ST. I for one hope Kershaw is ultimately fine and works through his issues but the team has to be prepared to have him down for stretches this year. Strip is a 1st half pitcher so pencil him in the rotation early but it could also be followed by Urias. Maybe that’s reversed but I think they hold Urias back a bit early. My worry is next year when Ryu and Hill probably leave, that’s why Maeda should be kept around-RH, great contract, can handle BP. So the team needs to find another SP for the rotation by next season, probably 2. At AAA they could have a rotation of Caleb, May, Gonsolin and White plus Stewart and at least one if not 2 need to step up.

    The bullpen is murky but I see Jansen and Kelly; Baez and Floro, Cingrani and Alexander and open competition for the last 2 spots with Strip and Urias the front runners-one likely in the rotation to start the season. Kershaw and Seager could both be on the DL for the 1st 10 days, maybe longer so an extra spot for both the bench and bullpen could delay final cut down decisions. Fields, Shaggy, Stewart, Garcia are on the bubble, only Garcia out of options.

  5. Joc did not look good last night. Struck out three times. Verdugo had three quality at bats. One hit, one SO against Brad Hand, but a good at bat, and a sharp hit ball for an out. Joc has had four years to prove himself and at best he is a platoon player. I hope Verdugo gets his shot this year.

    1. And a fantastic throw from CF to nail a guy at the plate. Verdugo has shown me he’s a much better all around player than Adam Dunn, I mean Joc.

    2. My guess is they trade Puig and do not trade Verdugo so that Alex would get his chance. The Dodgers need Verdugo’s bat to ball skills or Joc’s power. And while most positions are not won or lost on ST, I do believe LF, 2B, and 1 or 2 (max) bullpen positions will be decided by ST. Right or wrong, I do believe that LF is Verdugo’s to lose, and while it is only a week, he has not disappointed.

      Every year a player just grabs your attention early and makes some noise. This year for me it is Matt Beaty. He has 16 PA, but all he has done is hit .429/.438/.714/1.152 with 1 HR, 1 double, and 3 RBI. In addition, he has only 2 strikeouts. Matt has always hit, but he is showing some very good swings thus far in ST. He will be playing at Dodger Stadium at some point this season. He can play 1B, 2B, 3B, and LF. That seems like he was made to be a Dodger.

        1. Counters CT3’s and Kike’s RH bat. I like him better than Brad Miller, but I doubt that the Dodger decision makers do.

      1. I had no problem bringing Ryu back but not if it meant the salary dump that took place with the Reds.
        I found the Dodgers 4 year/$45 million offer to be ridiculous for both sides. I do think the Dodgers F’d up though and should have offered him 8-10 years.

        1. I agree that bringing Ryu back is not so much the issue if salary levels and CBT threshold were not an issue…but they apparently are. With $18MM tied up for a pitcher who has pitched all of 213.2 innings since 2014 seems a little ambitious. Ryu has the 19th highest starting pitcher salary in all of MLB. He better be CY capable at that salary.

          I am not convinced that the Farmer trade was not precipitated by the Ryu signing. Maybe Kemp/Puig/Wood are traded anyway, but it would not have been necessary. That is my opinion, and admittedly I have no basis for it. It is just how I feel.

          Maybe Puig and Wood are traded for a Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray and the Dodgers keep Kemp, who was one of two good RH bats in the lineup. They would not have to have taken back that ridiculous Homer Bailey contract. I keep reading about a bad 2nd half for Kemp. He did have a bad August, but in Sept/Oct he batted .339/.351/.571/.922 with 3 HRs. Pretty good numbers for a fat man with a perceived bad 2nd half. Who is going to make up for the loss of his 85 RBIs?

          1. I disagree with you on the QO being a flaw in AF’s management. …ok, maybe Anderson was a little bit of a surprise, but these are all factored into the algebra.

            AF loves two things: a sustainable minor league system and future financial flexibility. If Ryu signs elsewhere, the Dodgers get a high draft pic. If he accepts, the Dodgers might be overpaying, but they’re getting a valuable SP and the commitment is short. Had they signed him to a contract, what do you think? …3/36? That would be my guess. To me, that’s more of a risk than a one year QO.

            There were three options with Ryu: Let him walk and get nothing, sign him for multiple years, which is iffy with his age and injury history, or give him a QO, which gets you maybe the team’s best pitcher last year, or a high draft pic if he declines the offer.

            I think the Farmer trade was only contingent on Ryu inasmuch as Ryu now made Wood superfluous. Either way, I think they wanted to pare away some deadwood, open up some roster space for Verdugo or Pollock, get rid of some immaturity, free some money and at least get some decent minor league value for players they had no intention of resigning after next year.

            Where would Kemp have played? He has to play left, and even there he’s a liability. And what do you do with Joc and Verdugo then?

        1. About Joc, he does this every spring training, and it has never mattered what Joc has done in spring training.

          But for once, I would like someone else to have a chance like Verdugo.

          What people have to remember, is that Joc has had 4 years of experience, so he is going to look better at times.

          Just think where Verdugo or Toles would be after that much experience.

          But like I told Brooklyn, if I was Joc instead of trying to hit one out in almost every at bat in spring training, I would be trying to hit line drives and hit the ball the other way, because we already know that Joc can hit one out, especially when no one is on base.

          Having good at bats and doing that, I would think would have everyone giving Joc a second look, instead of another solo HR.

          But AC is right, it has only been a week.

          1. I think MJ, you overlook that somehow Joc Pederson convinced very smart baseball people that he deserved a shot first, ahead of Toles, Verdugo, even Taylor.
            If this is personality-driven, power-driven, defense-driven, or good-humour driven, I don’t know. But he earned his shots.

  6. I don’t think Ryu had anything to do with Puig getting shipped out. They were tired of his act, he didn’t hit lefties for the last two years, he couldn’t hit in the middle of the lineup and he missed the cutoff man, yet again, in game 1 of the World Series. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they extended Ryu beyond this season if he wants to stay here.

    Ryu’s home / road splits only showed up last year. Over his career home and road are similar.

    I’m not concerned with Spring Training numbers at all, especially from such a deep and loaded pen and especially with such a short spring so far and especially from relievers who haven’t had a chance to get in a groove.

    Kershaw is a big question mark of course, maybe he can make it through the season, maybe he goes under the knife. This is very hard to predict considering he hasn’t even pitched yet. Maybe he just need more time to get loose, he had an MRI when he signed his extension and everything checked out.

    We’ve got 5 really good arms coming up in Ferguson, Santana, May, Gonsolin and White and you never know when one of these guys will be ready for The Show. You never know when someone will come up and dominate. Baseball is a long ass season and is very tough to predict. Top to bottom, no other team has a staff with this much talent and depth. I like our odds. We have no room long term for all of these guys with Bueller and Urias in the rotation. There will be trades.

    We have a good amount of depth at 2B and LF as well. Not too concerned right now, and there’s always the Trade Deadline. Kike looks great right now and Taylor doesn’t look too far behind. Verdugo is getting a ton of ABs and he’s doing okay with them. He’s also a good defender and a good base runner. There’s plenty of guys and plenty of flexibility. Muncy can play 1B, 2B and possibly LF. Beaty and Garlick are pleasant surprises and under the radar types.

    I’m not sure if you noticed, but one of our two pitch pitchers seems to have found a third pitch. Santana seems to have learned a late breaking curve because he throw something that dropped off the table for a knee bending strike in his first game.

    As far as your apology article goes, you better tuck that thing away for a rainy day, because if Harper wasn’t stupid, he would have taken the $40-45M AAV and we would have blown past the CBT threshold this year. The offer came, it just wasn’t accepted. The lesson learned is to never say never. Just like not spending on a reliever, it wasn’t going to happen until it happened. Mark Walters already said there is no payroll restriction.

    For every Harper, who wants long term security with one team, there’s a Trevor Bauer who wants max money on a short term deal. I’m convinced Friedman will write that fat check when it makes sense to him. 13 years for Harper didn’t make sense for him. I’m disappointed that we didn’t get Harper, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.

    1. No…the apology is tucked away. Harper is not a Dodger no matter if they did offer him 4 years at $180MM. He was never going to take it. He made it clear early on he wanted a long term deal and to beat Giancarlo’s $325MM. It took until late February, but he got what he (and Boras) wanted. They were third in line behind the Phils 13 years $330M and SFG 12 years at $310MM. He was never going to be a Dodger unless the Dodgers were willing to go 10+ years, which they were not. I think it was the right financial AND baseball decision. After Harper, what do you think Boras’ advice will be for Seager/Bellinger/Urias. Wait it out, you will get yours. Now if they want to play for LAD, Boras will make that happen. Of the three, I get the impression that Bellinger will be the one who will test the market, while Seager and Urias could be lifetime Dodgers.

      I want to be clear about Ryu. I am not a huge fan, but I do recognize he is a good to very good pitcher. I was and remain a big Alex Wood fan (in the minority I know), Both are good #3-#5 with Ryu closer to #3 and Wood closer to #5. But Ryu is not an Ace, and he should not be paid as if he was. But my main objection is the double standards. Kluber is too old even though 4 of the last 5 years he was in the top 3 in CY winning it twice. But Ryu is going to be a star (in the minds of many) even though he is all of 1 year younger than Kluber. Statistics are funny. I see Kluber pitches multiple 200+ innings and see a solid durable pitcher, while others see him with an arm ready to come off. I see Ryu pitching a little more than 200 innings in 4 years combined and see someone who is not at all dependable while others see him as having a fresh arm. We all see what we want to see. Ryu may win the CY and Kluber may have an arm injury. But is that how you would project it? For this one year, who would you rather have…Kluber or Ryu?

      The second double standard was the home/away stats used against DJLM by so many on this site, and yet those same fans never mention Ryu’s home/away stats. You want to make the point that Ryu’s career home/away is a better measure. What is a better measurement, what he did last year or what he did in 2013/2014? Make no mistake, Ryu at Coors and Chase is horrendous. He is not good at Atlanta or Wrigley or Cincy. He was not good at Miller last year in the playoffs. He is okay at SFG and Miami. Where he is good is at pitcher’s ball parks…LAD, Petco, St. Louis, Citi Field (NYM). He was bad in Baltimore and the Dodgers travel to Baltimore this year. He got lit up in the one game he pitched last year at Fenway, and the Dodgers travel there as well this year. He is lucky that the Dodgers play NYY and Toronto at home as he was not good when he pitched there. So let’s just set up so he pitches only at LAD, Petco, Oracle, Busch, and Citi Field.

      The third double standard is that while some want to look at career numbers for Ryu for some things, they only want to point to what Ryu did last year in comparison to Alex Wood. It is not that Wood was a bad starting pitcher, and his one great year was better than anything Ryu has done. But career wise, there is virtually no difference between the two. Ryu – 3.20 ERA and 1.216 WHIP while Wood is 3.29 and 1.215 WHIP. They both came up in 2013 with Alex 803 IP and Ryu 557 IP. Both have had their share of injuries. The big differences are that Alex is 3 years younger than Ryu and Ryu is making almost twice as much as Alex.

      So it is not Ryu who I have a problem with, it is the double standards that many use to hype him. I hope Ryu wins the CY. I will not be disappointed.

      Again, just like with Mark I have no disagreement that top to bottom nobody is better than the Dodgers. No team in MLB has a better 40 man. NO TEAM. I doubt there is any organization in all of MLB that will argue against that. But the 40 man is not what wins WS. It is the top and not the bottom that counts. Last year with all the talent, they were lucky to win the Division and were lucky to beat the Brewers. They were not lucky or good enough to beat the Red Sox. I want the best 25 man, not the best 40 man. Yes they will have the opportunity to make trades, but who is going to be available? Last year at the trade deadline the one glaring weakness on the team was relief pitching, and they missed on some very good relievers. They also did not hit well with RISP and they needed that RH bat. Getting Machado was good and was worth the cost. Dozier? Not so much. At what point do the Dodgers say, this is the year we go for it? Or are they too afraid they will not have the bullets to compete in 2020-2023?

      1. I like this last para AC. You’re makin’ progress with reality (unlike the Boss):-).

        But I could not back the assertion with the 40-man. Could turn out true.
        Could not. My basic stance is that both D fans and national press tend to
        go a little gaga over D depth. Repeat, re D-depth: no one to pitch in game
        seven against Stros; no one to hit third against Red Sox in champ decider
        last year. Add very tough second-season decisions for Dave, versus the
        push-buttons available to Tommy in ’88.

        They still have a ways to go to be as deep as spin tells us they are.

    2. Bluto

      He has at least 50 percent of the time that is true, and you might be right about some of that.

      But remember smart baseball people, are just people too.

      I was only making that point, because Verdugo might have his growing issues at times too.

      And because of that, we have to remember that Joc was given 4 years to be the player he is today.

      And because of this, we can’t underestimate what the 4 years of experience has done for Joc, along with showing confidence in him, even when he has not been consistently good, when we are comparing Joc to Verdugo.

      But I get your point, and I guess I get your good humor too.

      I actually thought of you yesterday, because I remember at one time, you really wanted Harper on the Dodgers, but that was probably after his really good year, and probably not with the contract the Phillies gave Harper.

      1. MJ: “Smart baseball people are just people, too.”

        Ditto! Think Bluto had a great take, other than that:-).

        1. Dud Dew,

          I just don’t like when they tell young players it is a competition in spring training.

          And there is a good reason that it should be a real competition, but it never was a true competition, from the

          And I am not necessarily talking about this year.

          It is always easier to have a good personality when things still go your way, even if you are not producing consistently.

          But as you know, I always like to read your take on things, so thanks.

          1. MJ
            I read an article that the players union is saying that the MLB is keeping young kids back purposefully so they have to wait 7 years to file for free agency instead of 6 due to age. I think it may weigh on them mentally at some point in the years ahead if this is being spread around the league.

      2. I wanted Harper, still wish they could have signed him.

        Wish they went for Stanton.

        I think this CBT is a load of hooey, and the Dodgers shouldn’t have a dogmatic adherence to it.

        That said, the front office seems to have sound minds and strategy.

        1. I would have wanted Harper for the right price too.

          His numbers the last four years, have been really good, when runners are on base, and in scoring position, and not a lot of the big players excell in these situations, so I was pretty impressed.

          I was hoping Friedman and Boras, could put together a contract that would make both parties happy, because Harper really wanted to be a Dodger.

          He would have made us a better team, that is for sure.

          And I think he would be an exciting player to watch.

          But I know Friedman can only do what these owners allow him to do.

          It is hard for me to believe, that the Dodgers don’t make enough money like you said.

          And you know I wanted Stanton too.

  7. Russ Martin on the Dodgers hitting coaches:

    The hitting coaches really know what they’re doing.

    1. AC

      I think some of us like Ryu, because he has almost always pitched well in big games, especially before he got hurt.

      And that stands out, because of Kershaw’s problems in the post season.

      Although I don’t know what I would have thought, if it caused us to lose Puig, Kemp, and Wood.

      What people forget, is that Kemp wasn’t given many consistent starts, in the second half of the season either.

      Kemp hit in 60 runs in the first half of the season , and he hit 350 when runners were in scoring position last year, and OPSed in the 900s in these situations too.

      Our outfield especially our leftfielders, are going to have to do much better in these situations this year.

      Because that is a lot of production to lose in the outfield, and that isn’t including Puig’s production, and Puig did pretty well in the post season last year too.

      1. MJ, as I said in my reply to 59inarow above, it is not Ryu I am against it is the double standards. I hope you, Mark, and others are right about him. But as far as big games, he sure did not come up big in two games of the NLCS or the one game he pitched in the WS,

        1. AC

          That is why I said I might have thought differently about Ryu, for the price and the players we gave away, because of his QO.

          You know I hate double standards.

          And I have not forgotten the great start Wood made in that World Series either.

          And because of all of this, I do have second thoughts, about giving Ryu the QO.

          I don’t think there is that much of a difference between Ryu and Wood, if everyone really looked at the numbers in the last couple years, and thought about the health of both pitchers, in the last couple years.

          And certainly not for that price.

          1. AC

            You know I was not in favor of taking Wood out of the starting rotation, when Stripling came back last year.

            I didn’t think that was a smart move, at that point of the season.

            And remember most people are thinking about Ballet Bret, and Ryu, when we are talking about that QO, not Wood.

            Most of us, didn’t put this together, when this first happened, like you did.

            And like I said above, I think this might have been a high price to pay in after thought, so we better hope Ryu delivers, like you said.

  8. Not sure if any of this has already been posted/discussed, but:
    From FanGraphs chats:
    Moto Moto: Discuss Dustin May’s likelihood to break into the LA rotation this year..
    Kiley McDaniel: Feels like I don’t have much to do with this conundrum but Dustin May is very good while the Dodgers also may not need SP depth when he’s ready
    Jake: Will DJ Peters swing and miss issues relegate him to a bench bat or does he mash enough/play ok defense to overcome the weak average?
    Eric A Longenhagen: I think he plays everyday but might be volatile, year-to-year, like Michael Taylor and those types
    careagan: Hey Eric, thanks for the chat. MLB Pipeline’s report on Dennis Santana said one organization views him as the Dodgers best prospect. Which org do you think that is?
    Eric A Longenhagen: My educated guess points toward teams that want ready upper-level pitching so I guessed Cubs but Jim just told me that’s wrong.
    Mike: What makes Dustin May better than tony gonsolin? Feel like gonsolin’s splitter is the best overall pitch, feels like they should be closer than their rankings are.
    Eric A Longenhagen: Age is a huge factor for us since we’re looking at a six-year window of production. May is the age of a college draft prospect, Gonsolin turns 25 in May. The latter may hit his decline phase during that six-year window. That needs to be considered.
    Duchess: Given the rankings, it feels like Will Smith is already sort of blocked by Ruiz in LA. Is this true, or is he trade bait or just a guy that ends up playing a ton of positions for the Dodgers?
    Eric A Longenhagen: Nah, he can play all over the place
    Keith Law chat:
    Randall Stephens: How worried should I be about Kershaw? Can his FB get back to 93-94?
    Keith Law: I think he can succeed averaging 90 mph, but I’m more concerned that his arm is sore. Seems like he’s never come up with a complaint about arm soreness.
    Zihuatanejo: In a recent spring training game, in all but 3 PAs for the entire game the Dodger hitters swung at the first pitch they saw. Do you think that was: 1) a random thing that happened; 2) a directive from the dugout; or 3) an inside joke between the players?
    Keith Law: I’d guess 2, then 3, but not 1.
    Speaking of the great Mr Law, check out this piece he did with TrueBlue:

  9. Santana looked really good last night. His curve was awesome. He did give up one hit, which was a HR. We have some very good young pitchers.

  10. From Jim Alexander of the OC Register, who (unlike Plaschke) has a brain:

    I don’t know for sure if there were sighs of relief inside the Dodgers’ executive offices at Camelback Ranch on Thursday morning. But from this vantage point, Andrew Friedman and his people were entitled to exhale.

    The Philadelphia Phillies’ owner, John Middleton, pledged early in the winter to spend money – and if necessary to “even be a little bit stupid about it” – to upgrade his team. He didn’t mention being stupid about contract length, as well.

    But that was what it took to land Bryce Harper on Thursday: A 13-year deal for $330 million, with full no-trade rights and no opt-out clause, for a guy who has statistically slipped since his lone MVP season in 2015 and now will play in a town where that contract makes him a target. At the first sign of underachievement, Phillies fans will let him have it.

    Let’s set the over/under for that at June 1.

    And Lord help them all at the back end of this contract. Harper and the Phillies are now bound to each other through 2031, when the player will be 38 years old. Those who are paying attention to the waning years of Albert Pujols’ contract in Anaheim can probably guess how this will end.

    But for the player, and for agent Scott Boras, this was a day of triumph. Money and contract terms are how most elite players (and their representatives) keep score. Harper blew past Manny Machado – who officially signed his 10-year, $300 million deal with the Padres last Friday – as well as the Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton, who signed his 13-year, $325 million deal with the Marlins in 2014, then forced a trade to New York when things collapsed around him in Miami.

    Harper’s average annual value, around $25 million per year, will be less than that of Machado or Nolan Arenado in his eight-year, $260 million deal with the Rockies. But that’s not the number everyone looks at, and the 13 years and $330 million were not coincidental or accidental. Until further notice, Bryce Harper is baseball’s King of the Hill.

    What does this mean for the Dodgers?

    Part of their fan base is surely disappointed, likely the same ones who couldn’t understand why the club traded Yasiel Puig. For those folks, we offer this from Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell, describing how the Nationals’ loss of Harper might be a case of addition by subtraction:

    “When the most famous player on the team can’t go 10 days without failing to run out a ground ball or overthrowing a cutoff man by 15 feet or throwing to the wrong base or being caught unprepared in the outfield or on the bases, it’s hard to demand total alertness from the other 24.”

    Then there were the local media people who seemed convinced that the Dodgers needed Harper’s star power, that he was the missing piece to a World Series puzzle that has perplexed the franchise for three decades, or that the primary goal here was to keep him away from the hated Giants.

    Well, mission accomplished with the latter, I suppose. They’ll only see Harper six or seven times a season now rather than 18 or 19.

    But Harper would not sell appreciably more tickets or merchandise for the Dodgers, who have led the majors in attendance for six straight seasons and haven’t drawn less than 3 million since 2011, the final full season of the Frank McCourt reign of error.

    As for being that X-factor? Since his MVP season in 2015 (42 homers, 118 runs scored, 1.109 OPS, 198 OPS-plus, 10.0 Wins Above Replacement), Harper has been an above-average player but not a superstar. His 100 RBIs and a 133 OPS-plus last season were offset by a marked decline in his defensive metrics. And he has 7.5 WAR in the last three seasons combined; his 1.3 in 2018 tied for 185th in the majors.

    By way of comparison, Mike Trout’s WAR last year was 10.2 and his career figure is 64.3, to Harper’s career 27.4. If Harper gets 13 years and $330 million, what is Trout worth? (Arte Moreno is fidgeting as we speak.)

    Then there is this: Harper is a .211 hitter, with an .801 OPS, in 19 career postseason games with Washington. If I’m paying for somebody to get me over that last October hurdle, I need much more production than that.

    We’ll reiterate what we said when Pujols joined the Angels in 2012, 10-year contract in hand: If the team that signs him wins a World Series in the first few years of the deal, that entire contract will be worth it. Otherwise, it becomes a burden.

    You can make the case that the Dodgers’ reluctance to do more than kick the tires on a marquee free agent isn’t appropriate for a big-market, big-revenue franchise. But don’t blame it all on Friedman.

    Consider: In 42 years of baseball free agency, under four different ownerships and eight general managers/executive VPs, these are the top-of-their-class free agents the Dodgers have signed: Dave Goltz, Kirk Gibson, Darryl Strawberry, Kevin Brown, and arguably Zack Greinke. That’s it. (Considering how a couple of those turned out, the team’s reluctance is more understandable.)

    Finally, consider: If you’re a Dodgers fan nervous about a possible postseason matchup, maybe the Phillie who worries you most shouldn’t be Harper but J.T. Realmuto, the catcher who got away.

      1. I pointed out some of the above when the Harper “entooosiasm” was
        starting here and elsewhere in D-land last fall. A “nice” player.
        Not a great one. And not even nice in post-season play (a big part
        of Nats’ Disappointing Post-Season Puzzle).

        And if AF actually did offer 4/45, it’s almost as bad as offering Zach
        165 way back when….

    1. Harper is known to be a baseball history buff. It’s very important to him that he ultimately be considered among baseball’s elite players with regard to his career. Along with the extra total dollars in the Philly contract, we can’t underestimate how his new home ballpark will add to his lifetime stats and his obvious plans to be a HOF inductee. When looking at his next 10-13 years production in Citizens Bank Park vs what he would have put up in Oracle Park or Dodger Stadium, it’s not hard to see why he’ll be in Philly red instead of Dodger blue.

      1. Singing the Blues,

        I noticed you didn’t say Harper mentioned winning.

        It sounds like it is all about him, not about the team.

        This wasn’t about the stadium, it was about the money, because he would have been at the Dodger’s spring training facility today, if the Dodgers offer was pretty close, but just under the Phillies offer.

        1. I have no illusions that $$$ was number one on his list, but I do think that his place in baseball history is very important to him. Yes, it’s more about him than about the team, but if you’re the number one guy on the team that wins the Series then it’s about you by extension.

          1. STBlues,

            I agree, but as you know well, he is going to have to do it on the field, and not just talk about it.

            But ultimately, I am sure this is why Harper’s father worked with him, from such a early age.

            And Harper probably didn’t have a normal childhood, because of all those hours he, and his father, dedicated to being a pro baseball player.

  11. Happy to see Tim LoCastro leading off for AZ.. I wish him well in their loss to the Blue..

  12. AC has therrian pitched? Don’t find any stats. Maybe in minor league camp? If so, can anybody say how he looks. Btw Russell Martin with a sore back lol get used to that one. Will smith should replace him by mid season as he is on the 40 man. I really wonder what happened to kemp. Got overweight and couldn’t be trusted in the field for sure. After kemp destroyed the Arizona reliever a couple days in a row it seemed he just didn’t get many chances even in a ph role. I am really curious to see how jeter and gray do this year.

    1. Therrien has not pitched in a MLB ST game. They are going to take their time with him. I have not gone to AZ so I have not seen him in any MiLB games.

  13. Salvador Perez will most likely be getting Tommy John surgery for an injured UCL. His name was mentioned sometimes as a possible catcher upgrade for the Dodgers. Guess stay8ng with the status quo is a good thing.

  14. Cody Bellinger looks like a different hitter this year. Plus good two strike AB by Kike’.

    1. I think the fact that Cody purposely didn’t bulk up as much this year, and instead, went back to his body shape in his rookie year, that will help him a lot, especially with his swing.

      Because he should have more flexibility this year to get to more pitches he couldn’t get to last year.

    2. What a pleasure to see Cody hit today. If he continues on that path, the future is unlimited for him. Both he and Kike look a lot slimmer this spring. Yimi continues to look very sharp. He may just push someone else out of the bullpen on the 25-man for opening day if he keeps this up. Jaime Schultz may yet show up in the bullpen before the end of the year. He’s looked quite good in his three appearances so far. Verdugo is dramatically outplaying Joc so far. It’s early still, and management may have already decided who they want to see get the most in-season at bats (and it could be Joc), but Roberts keeps emphasizing how Alex is doing the little things like moving runners over, etc.

      1. Singing the Blues,

        I always remember Rick Monday saying it takes a lot of flexibility to swing like Cody did, so I thought some of his regression was because he added that extra muscle, so I was glad when I read Cody was going back to where he was before.

        Because remember how Cody could get to high velocity fastballs, in his rookie year, that he couldn’t even come close to touching last year?

        Your not only so right about this being early, I think your right about this not being a true competition, because of the reason you said.

        And to be fair to Joc, he never looks good in spring training, and that is not always the case, when the regular season comes around.

      2. I mentioned above what a difference in Cody’s swing this year compared to last year’s. He could be a major upgrade this year, and THE key difference maker. He is going to be fun to watch. Kike’ also looks good this ST. His sac fly with 2 strikes was a fantastic improvement over last year. He is not JDM (or JDM like), but he looks like he could be the everyday 2B, with CT3 becoming the all everything utility player. With Chase no longer on the team, maybe Mark can be his new Dad stand in this year.

        Right now, I do not know how Yimi does not make the squad. Three perfect innings, 6 strikeouts. He has a ton of spin on his pitches. A lot of movement. I guess he could be better with 9 strikeouts, but he is the star reliever thus far. Stetson Allie not far behind, but he is not going to break camp with the ML team.

        Joc has looked terrible so far, but that is not new. He is one of the more hot and cold hitters on the roster. He will get hot this spring, and things will begin to even out. But I still believe that Verdugo gets the chance to fail…or better yet, succeed.

        With the good comes the bad. Sborz and Brossard looked horrible today. There is no way to candy coat it. And I am afraid that the DJ Peters that we saw today is who he is until he changes his all or nothing approach. He does not need to swing as hard as he can to hit the ball out. He is strong enough. But he needs to recognize pitches. With his long hard swing, it is going to be hard for him to hold up on breaking balls as we saw today. At AAA he is going to get a very heavy dose of big breaking curve balls and hard sliders. The fast balls he sees will be up and out of the zone to get him to chase. Franklin Stubbs, Greg Brock, Billy Ashley, Dave Kingman all come to mind. I have to mention Kingman. He is after all a Trojan. Billy Ashley – 26 HRs in AA/AAA in 1992; 26 HRs in AAA in 1993; 37 HRs in AAA in 1994. We have been here before.

        1. True, but OKC is not the launching pad that Albuquerque was. It was always hard to judge the hitters stats in that park. It was hard to judge the pitchers stats too! DJ was player of the year at Rancho and led the league in HR’s at Tulsa. I think his defense is fine, he moves well for a big man and has a good arm. He does need to make better contact as you say and he is strong enough to hit it out of Wrigley with the wind blowing in-he needs to cut down his swing a bit but does not chase much and takes his walks.

        2. AC

          What do you see with Taylor’s swing?

          I could be wrong, but his swing looks close to the same swing to me, although I know his results have been better this spring.

          And I know it is still early.

        3. I remember all the bluster for Stubbs and Brock. They were going to be the next Mantle or Ruth. Both had awesome power and a beautiful swing, but the high fastball always got them looking at the first base umpire.
          Kingman is exactly the guy when I was a kid he looks like. Big guy who hit the bomb or struck out, but man when he connects it is something to watch. But none of them had DJ’s speed.
          The Dodgers just need him to cut it down.
          Taylor last year was swinging for the fences on every pitch and it seems Belli isn’t doing that this year and doing better. Am I wrong??

  15. For those who did not catch it, former longtime Dodger minor leaguer (and all around great person) O’Koyea Dickson has come back from his year in the Nippon Professional Baseball League with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, and signed a minor league contract with the Washington Nationals. Obviously an extreme long shot to make the roster, but I am pulling for him.

    1. Sorry if someone mentioned this above, but did you see that old friend Paco Rodriguez signed a minor league deal with the Padres?

  16. Relief pitching has been a sore spot for me for the last few years. Four of the top relief options for OKC figure to be Josh Sborz, Joe Broussard, Kevin Quackenbush and Shea Spitzbarth, and none of them have looked good this spring. The field is opening up big time for Stetson Allie to shine. Allie looks good right now, and should continue to get the ball during the spring. He has a chance.

    Long time minor leaguer Layne Somsen has suddenly got back in the picture as has Jaime Schultz. Both big time long shots.

    Marshall Kasowski has a lot of promise, but he is still a one pitch guy, and Jesen Therrien still needs to show he can make it back from TJ surgery. I am on record believing he can.

    Parker Curry and Ryan Moseley are opening eyes. Probably AA bound.

    Dennis Santana may be headed to the bullpen, but it will not be this year.

    I know Brock Stewart wants to start, but he has a chance to be a solid reliever if he chooses.

    Yimi Garcia looks very much like he is significantly increasing his odds at breaking camp with LAD. Three perfect innings and 6 K’s. Right now he has to be on the short list to make the squad.

    Of course it is waaaay too early, but none of Baez, Floro, Fields, Kelly, or Chargois have looked sharp. Baez looked good with 3 K’s but only after giving up 2 HRs. Both lefties Cingrani and Alexander looked good in their one inning.

    Jansen is scheduled to pitch on Sunday.

    Trevor Bauer pitched 4.0 innings today and now has 2 games and 7 innings, allowing 1 run.

    Giant relievers have been fantastic in Spring, but their starters have been horrible. Opposite of Dodger pitching.

    Time for me to go back to work.

  17. A look back 1/2 a decade:

    In 2015 the following players were in the Dodgers starting line-up:

    Kendrick, Crawford, Gonzalez, Ethier, Utley, and Puig.

    Kinda amazing the re-tool, no?

    1. I would say more obvious than amazing, Bluto. 5 old timers and a clown. FO has done well putting the pieces back together. Still not done. Bullpen and LF need certainty.

    2. The Dodgers for decades have been known for their great minor league organization. I remember as a kid listening to Giants announcer Lon Simmons on the Giants station, would actually brag about it and it would bring a sense of pride to this fan. They used to say they never knew where the Dodgers came up with these guys. This was back before computers. Fernando was the biggest name. But then came the Garvey replacement and all hell broke loose. They did good with Steve Sax replacing Lopes, but failed on SS and 3B and Garvey.

  18. I would say more obvious than amazing, Bluto. 5 old timers and a clown. FO has done well putting the pieces back together. Still not done. Bullpen and LF need certainty.

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