You Don’t Play to Win the Game!

In the regular season, your are always playing to win the game. I meanthis game, or at least you try and put yourself in position to win more games. That is not true in Spring Training. If you are upset Doc let Stetson Allie, the wild fire-baller, walk batter-after-batter in the 9th inning only to take him out and let Yordy “Lordy, Lordy” Cabrera give up a three-run game killing double, your anger is misguided.

What Dave Roberts did in the 9th inning yesterday was a resounding success, not an abysmal failure. Dave Roberts put them in a pressure situation to see if they were ready for prime time and it turns out they were not. Roberts would like those two live arms in the bullpen, IF they can stand the pressure. They couldn’t and Roberts found out in Spring Training, rather than the regular season. I consider that a success… for the team, but not the players who blew the game.

In Spring Training, sometimes you sacrifice wins to see who you want to go to war with… to see who can help you win the most games in the regular season. For the time being, you can scratch Allie and Cabrera off the list. What little chance either one had of breaking with the team evaporated in the 9th inning. That takes the pitching staff down some, but they have to cut several more pitchers.

If Kershaw is healthy… and it is looking like he will be, as of RIGHT NOW, these pitchers are locks to make the team:

  1. Kershaw
  2. Buehler
  3. Ryu
  4. Maeda
  5. Hill
  6. Urias
  7. Stripling
  8. Kelly
  9. Jansen
  10. Alexander
  11. Garcia
  12. Cingrani
  13. Baez

If they go with 13 pitchers, then Floro is likely sent to AAA. That means Chargois, Ferguson and the rest are headed to Minor League Camp. If the Dodgers carry 12 positions players, then these are the locks:

  1. Martin
  2. Barnes
  3. Muncy
  4. Taylor
  5. Hernandez
  6. Seager
  7. Turner
  8. Pederson
  9. Verdugo
  10. Pollock
  11. Bellinger
  12. Freese

Of course, I am taking a leap of faith in relying on Dave Roberts words that Corey Seager will be ready. It’s still entirely possible that Kershaw and Seager will both start the season on the IL…. and that shews all my plans. Brad Miller is on a minor league deal, so he can go back to OKC for a time, but the Dodgers certainly have some trade pieces.

More Dodger News

  • Putting Andrew Toles on the restricted list is just procedural and just means “he ain’t coming back anytime soon”. It’s neither good nor bad. I just wish him peace. These guys are not pieces of meat.. or cattle – they are human beings.
  • So the Dodgers look like they will go into the season with the above roster… but there’s still a lot of time and injuries happen.
  • Tony Gonsolin is very, very close to pitching in the show… either as a starter or a reliever. His pitching yesterday was outstanding.
  • I do not expect Chris Taylor to get “fixed” overnight. I think he will have success and failures for a while, but I think he is trying.
  • Max Muncy is looking very comfortable and very good at 1B… well, better than I expected.
  • Austin Barnes is on the comeback trail… both offensively and defensively. He has looked solid. I thought Russ Martin might take the job, but it’s Austin’s to lose.

FINALLY:The bickering here needs to stop. You have the right to your opinions about the Dodgers – you do not have the right to push your agenda. Get along, respect each other or you will be gone. If this doesn’t apply to you then move on. If it does, stop the divisiveness! This is supposed to be fun and if it is not, I will not allow it to continue. It’s not wise to push the envelope…

This article has 53 Comments

  1. Mark, you forgot about Baez. That would make 13 pitchers. Granted, he has not looked as sharp as he did last season, but don’t you think they are going to bring him along this year?

    1. No, I forgot about him. I was in a hurry and the old brain skipped a beat… or two.

      He will be on the team. Maybe Kershaw is DL’ed.

      What a good problem to have. Unless Yimi implodes, I am sure they will keep him since he is out of options.

      Floro has options…

      I updated the post to reflect your correction.

  2. Someone who is very diabolical is making a massive assault on this blog trying to hack it. It is costing us countless hours a day to fix it and figure out who it is. It seems to be from Russia, but I may have to shut down the site for a while. If I do, you will know what to do. I’ll have it posted on the Home Page. Dirty Bastards!

    1. I use FireFox and twice recently they warned me that I was included in the millions that had their information stolen. It warned me to change my passwords everywhere. Given what Mark just said about hacking, if anybody here uses the same password elsewhere that they use here, they should change their ladodgertalk password.

      1. Nobody’s personal info has been compromised. It’s not been breached, but it never hurts to change passwords occasionally.

  3. Gonsolin looked good yesterday, another good outing.
    I do think Roberts makes some poor game decisions but yesterday was not one of them, he did just what the situation called for, see what the players can or can´t do and how they react.

  4. I did not watch or listen to yesterday’s game, but as I recall via MLB Gameday, it was Luis Vazquez who gave up the three-run double to Joey Bart. Cabrera had a similar meltdown in Sunday’s game against the Rockies in the 8th. Both Allie and Cabrera will get their opportunities in MiLB this year and could find their way to LA at some point. But they are just not ready for the Show.

    I know we Dodger fans are anxious for Keibert Ruiz to make the climb to LAD, but Joey Bart is going to be a big-time catcher for the Giants. I have liked Bart since his days at Georgia Tech. They have definitely found Buster Posey’s replacement, who will soon become Brandon Belt’s replacement. The first two selections in last year’s draft, Casey Mize (Tigers), and Bart were highly predictable and are not far from the ML.

    Tony Gonsolin is legit, but I caution all to just let him dominate at AA and AAA before pushing him to the LAD 25 man. The same is true with Dustin May. They will get there soon enough. For Gonsolin, that could be later this summer as a bullpen piece. The Dodgers are fortunate to have the luxury of letting their future fully develop before making the bright lights of MLB.

    There was an interesting list on MLB Pipeline showing the 6 pitchers (and only 6) they grade with 3 plus pitches (Grade 60 or above). Four of the pitchers are familiar to those who follow the minor leagues even marginally…Forrest Whitley (Astros), Shane Baz and Brent Honeywell (Rays), and Casey Mize (Tigers). The remaining two pitchers with three 60+ pitches are familiar to LAD fans…Tony Gonsolin – 60 FB, 60 CB, and 70 Split (the exact same as Casey Mize), and Zach Willeman – 70 FB, 60 CB, 60 SL. The one to watch is going to be Forrest Whitley who has four plus pitches – 70 FB, 60 CB, 60 SL, and 65 CH. He has a tremendous chance to be VERY special.

    Who knew about Zach Willeman? DC did. I have included his 12/23/18 article on Zach.

    https://ladodgertalk.com/2018/12/23/meet-zach-willeman/?preview_id=5263&preview_nonce=d209ac7ca0&preview=true&_thumbnail_id=5264

  5. Follow up on MLB Pipeline Grades:

    Dustin May – 60 FB, 60 CB, 55 Cutter, 50 CH
    Dennis Santana – 65 FB, 55 SL, 50 CH
    Mitchell White – 60 FB, 60 SL, 55 CB, 45 CH

  6. Sorry Mark, but I couldn’t disagree more. Roberts has a knack for unnecessary pitching changes. It’s just a Spring Game, he could have easily left Allie on the bump, or put in a pitcher who isn’t historically wild. Even the announcers are commenting about the mid-inning pitching changes in these Spring games. Sadly, it doesn’t look like Roberts learns his lessons and is destined to keep making the same mistakes. And no, he wasn’t seeing who he wants to go to war with as Vasquez has ZERO chance of breaking camp with the Big team. Not when your pen is loaded you had to cut an actual good reliever because he doesn’t have options.

    It’s called a Maddux when a pitcher throws a complete game shutout with less than 100 pitchers. It’s called a Roberts when a reliever comes in with men on, walks the first guy and allows at least one run to score (preferably when attempting a platoon advantage). Let’s see how many Roberts we’ll have this year.

    Gonsolin was about the only good thing that happened yesterday beyond a double each for the LF competitors. Lets see if this offense comes out of their slump after a day off today.

    CT3 takes one step forward and two steps back wearing the golden halo yesterday 0-3 with 3 Ks!

    Pederson is hitting 160 with a 747 OPS. Verdugo 280 / 669. Oh my.

    Muncy, Pederson, Pollock not hitting their weight.

    Taylor and Belli hovering around the Mendoza line.

    Seager, Kershaw and Bueller still haven’t been seen anywhere near a box score.

    This is not a good look with 2 weeks of Spring remaining.

    1. 59, when you get to Camelback and you get to the back fields, I would appreciate a look at Jordan Sheffield. I am hoping he takes a liking to becoming a reliever. He certainly has the arm to pitch in short stints. A Yadier Alvarez sighting would also be nice.

      1. Oh man, this is going to be a quick trip. Driving Friday and Sunday. Only one day to spend at the park with my brother and my cousin’s family from Detroit. I’ll go early and check out the back fields, if I can get buy in from the group of 10 that I’ll be visiting. I think I’m gonna call my brother right now to plant the seed. 😉

        1. 59

          I don’t think AC realized you were only going just for a short trip, because I know he wouldn’t have asked you to do that.

          Just go and enjoy yourself, you won’t, if you feel obligated to fit in to much, in such a short time.

          I agree with you, everyone is going to have to pull their own weight this year, because we don’t have the same luxury we have had before, especially since it doesn’t look like Corey will be ready for opening day.

          Unless we get some unexpected offense, like we did with Taylor, Muncy, and the early arrival of Cody, like I believe you have already alluded to.

    2. Here’s what perplexes me:

      On other boards people bash Friedman for putting a bad team in the field.

      They also bash Doc for making poor decisions.

      Here’s the funny part:

      Andrew Friedman’s Front Office has the best ALL-Time Dodger Winning Percentage and that ain’t changing anytime soon.

      Dave Roberts has the best All-time winning percentage of any Dodger Manager – EVER!

      I have been upset at Roberts, but I think some of that was on Zaidi-It’s hard to dispute their success.

      1. Yes. Also factor in years and years of frustration.

        We are on a remarkable run and there is exactly one thing missing.

        And that one thing is the one thing you can’t really ensure happening.

        We will get there.

      2. Dave Roberts sucks. Even Mattingly had 90+ wins in each of his last three years with the Dodgers. What’s his record since? Don’t come back with that weak argument that Roberts deserves the credit for wins and losses. Especially when his team’s pythagorean record was way higher that it’s actual record. That screams mismanagement. How about his record in extras and 1 run games? About 500. So, you can make a pretty good case that his winning ways come before he makes all his stupid and unnecessary moves at the end of games.

        Like I said, I will give him his due for communicating with players and getting them to accept their roles for the most part. But, no one is going to accuse Roberts of being a good strategic manager.

      3. Mark what are the other people on the board want to hear or see from Friedman or from Robert I mean they are both doing a great job I just don’t understand what other people are expecting out of Friedman and Roberts

    3. Funny stuff. Guess Koufax and Spahn and a whole bunch of others got their “Madduxes” before he was even thought of. Spring is a silly time to judge how a manager is gonna work out. And DR hasn’t been managing long enough to be judged anyway. Besides Friedman and others have a huge input on how the starters and BP is used. As well as probably all of the offensive and defensive strategies the Dodgers use.

  7. I agree with you AC that some of these guys are not quite ready for the big show. However, I like what I see. You cannot teach a 100 mph fastball. However, if they cannot locate it and have movement, the hitters will hit it. AC, you are right, the Dodgers have depth and time to develop these kids. AF will take chances on these kinda guys. I like what he does.

    59, they still have two weeks in ST. Still time to make adjustments. My only complaint is slow walking Buehler and what I think they may do with Urias.

  8. And I only hope that Roberts, dunce that he is, leads us to the playoffs again..
    Our depth in pitching is scary… Gonsolin was a beast yesterday..
    OK truth be told, I’m waiting for hamchuck to challenge M.T. on his first bullet… Please let it be!!!

    1. With this staff, defense and lack of competition, you can lead this team to the playoffs this year.

  9. I’m no Conor McGregor fan but I have to side with him on this one. Anybody takes a photo of me without my permission can expect at least their phone to be smacked out of their hand. Maybe I wouldn’t step on it afterwards but it depends on how I’m feeling that day. Slow news day. Not sure how I feel about the Russell Westbrook story. If he threatened a female, that’s inexcusable.

      1. Yes. They tried to hack the site and couldn’t, so no ones ‘ info was compromised, but they are registering fictitious names by the hundreds. We are blocking it, but they are bots and go other ways. I think they are simply trying to overload and crash the site and/or they want me to quit.

        1. Mark thanks!

          They have been running a propaganda campaign especially since the last presidential election.

          They want to make chaos in our country, and cause us Americans to fight amongst each other.

          And they are probably still doing this, because they were somewhat successful, because they had some Americans doing their dirty work unknowingly, because these Americans thought they were communicating with follow Americans, not Russians.

          They were prevalent on Facebook and some of the other social media accounts.

          They are trying to impersonate Americans, so that explains all those different fictitious names you are talking about.

          From what I saw and read, it only takes a person to click on one of their many fake accounts, and they will continue to get this phony info from these Russians, that are trying their best, to sound like Americans.

          1. Why would the Russians be trying to hack into a Dodgers site. The talk here is very banal and only contains a small amount of people. I have no agenda Mark as you obviously have singled me out in your monologue. I just got sick of being singled out for the get go, even by you, in you write ups if you look. But the Russians are a threat Militarily and in Cyberspace as is China. I just don’t see why they would target such a small site.

    1. If your entire livelihood depends on the support of your fans, you would be ill-advised to throwing public temper tantrums and breaking people’s cell phones. Ironically, there was about a thousand cameras on him as he was released from jail, but he didn’t break a single one of them. Smooth move indeed.

  10. About Taylor, in his break out year he only struck out 36 times less then he did last year.

    But last year he had about 20 more at bats, so maybe this is just Taylor.

    Because I think Taylor probably had the advantage over pitchers in that first break year, because he came out of no where.

    And last year those same pitchers were more ready for Taylor, and because of that, they made their adjustments on Taylor, from the start of the season.

    Taylor just might be our Nowhere man.

    1. At worst, Taylor is a great utility man. This is his first year making real money ($3.5m), so he does need to produce to justify it. Maybe we’re best with him not playing every and his being a spot starter, defensive replacement, & pinch runner. Even then, he will play in 120+ games easy.

      1. Palmdale

        I think you summed that up right!

        Players like Taylor are almost always, going to have a pretty good WAR, because of their athleticism.

        And like you said, he is still a pretty good value to the team, at the price he is at right now.

  11. I don’t know how you measure the legacy of the head of baseball operations or general managers. However, it seems to me that AF is in the same boat as Kershaw. To be considered one of the greatest of all time it lwould cement the legacy by throwing in a World Series or 2. I know kershaw is there in the regular season but he could elevate his status with a World Series. I’m sure AF wants to be at the top. It seems to me he would need a World Series to add to his resume. The players have to win it but he provides the players. He has had success but he has placed his chips on kershaw and Roberts. I hope for all us dodger fans this is a winning formula because it looks like that is the direction.

  12. I haven’t commented for a while, but here goes:
    1 – Friedman has done a good job on the whole in putting the team together. One of the things that gets overlooked sometimes is something that Mark pointed out yesterday (in part): With starting pitchers going 5+ innings and the resultant need to carry 7 or 8 relievers, teams have to go with short benches. This means that most of your players and especially the bench players have to be versatile. Friedman has been out in front on this tread, and the number of Dodger players who can competently play multiple positions is probably greater than any other team.
    2 – Similarly, Friedman has no equal in his ability to put together a 40 man roster, and this has been especially important in light of the tendency to sign players who can’t stay on the field.
    3- One big beef has been the refusal to overpay as a sunk cost necessary to bring star players on board. During Friedman’s tenure, the Dodgers have made deadline deals to bring stars aboard (Machado, Darvish) but only as short term rentals. If a star is available as a free agent, you can generally forget about the Dodgers signing him.
    4 – #3 above raises the big question: if an overpay to a big star is what’s needed to put the team over the top to win a title, the Dodgers won’t do it. Is that a good decision or a bad one? I think most Dodger fans would vote to overspend now to win even if it costs the team a few years in the future (sunk cost salaries, loss of draft picks).
    5 – The other Friedman issue for me (as an old timer, but not as old as many here) is the new way that baseball is played/managed. The emphasis on “launch angle” to facilitate HR, the lack of emphasis on making contact, the lack of consequence for players who K, the platooning, the reliance on the computer to tell a manager who to play and what to do, etc. make baseball a less interesting, less beautiful and less personal game to watch.
    6 – Many here assert that the platooning, emphasis on the HR and disdain for contact, etc. was coming from Zaidi, but I have seen no proof of these assertions and doubt seriously that Zaidi would be pushing any ideas that Friedman disagreed with.
    7 – The role of manager has changed with New Age Baseball. The manager’s job is to communicate with his players, get them to accept what the front office wants, keep them motivated, and to buy into whatever the latest SABR-theory is. Look around baseball. More and more teams are hiring young managers, guys without managerial experience who are able to “relate” to the players but don’t have the years of experience that guys like Lasorda and Alston had in the minors learning their trade. (See Cora in Boston, Baldelli in Minnesota, Boone in NY, Bell in Cincy and so on.) When viewed that way, Roberts may be an ideal manager, but as a strategist, game manager, and independent thinker, you can’t compare him to Alston, Lasorda, Durocher or Dressen.
    8 – I can’t believe that anyone would criticize Roberts for moves made in Spring Training games. The games don’t count! He’s not trying to win them.
    9 – The question for this year – will the Dodgers, once again, have a good 40 man roster but not have a good enough 25 man roster to win it all? Will the failure to bring in star power to win this year cost them? And while the NL West will be a weak division this year and help the Dodgers to a good W – L record, thanks to the unbalanced schedule, how will they match up with good teams from other divisions and the AL?

    1. #2 is an excellent point and anyone who hasn’t read “The Extra 2%,” a sports/business book written about Tampa Bay’s approach to building an organization, probably should if they are interesting in knowing how Friedman approaches his job.

      Marginal improvements add up and enable you to get an edge on an opponent. About the equivalent of leaving a few minutes early every day to beat the other guy to work.

    2. I think if a team can put 8 tough and or dangerous hitters in a lineup that team will be better than a team that has two premium priced hitters and 6 average hitters. A pitcher can’t rest and can’t pitch around 8 tough hitters.

      Koufax and Drysdale, Schilling and Johnson, pitched their their teams into a championship but sometimes it is Lew Burdette and not Warren Spahn that gets the job done.

      I like the 2019 Dodgers and I like the 2020 and beyond Dodgers. Still, if Machado had fully impressed player and character wise, I would have wanted him on the team for the next 10 years.

    3. A lot of good points. AF fielding the best 40 man roster bodes well for the long season. Obviously, we have had success winning the regular season. We have a strong system from the farm to the 40 man. I think he will overpay because he already has with kershaw, ryu, Jansen to list a few.

      He has been willing to pay for those already in the system. However, we are in much better shape for the short series than we have been in years. When we first started our streak of playoff appearances our starting pitching was kershaw, kershaw on short rest, and then Anderson and the like as 3, 4 guys. We did have kershaw and Greinke and kershaw on short rest a couple of years.

      But now we have hill, ryu, buehler, and urias as potential playoff starters plus kershaw. That is where the pre,sent day manager has to have the intestinal fortitude to lineup the rotation to give us the best chance. If that means kershaw is not number 1 so be it. I don’t really have the confidence that Roberts can make those decisions.

      If you want number 3 then Kimbrel might be the guy. He would make an already good bullpen very good. This is the kind of acquisition AF doesn’t seem to want to do. I would like to see him get Kimbrel on a 1 year deal if possible. I know Kimbrel is half the equation.

      Currently, we have to stay healthy with seager, pollock, turner. These guys are oft injured but can be stars especially seager and turner. If the starting 8 plus the bench is healthy in the end we have a great shot. Our offense right now is miserable but spring training means nothing.

    4. #1 – Ditto
      #2 – Ditto
      #3 and #4 are not mutually exclusive. Even signing a big FA is no guarantee and so it goes.
      #5 and #6 – RVS and Company are so much more than just being about “Launch Angle.” Friedman had said he wants to bunt more, cut down on two-strike swings and strikeouts. He only said that after Zaidi was gone.
      #7 – Totally True!
      #8 – Amen
      #9 – That is the question!

      I think that is the most Rick and I have ever agreed. Either I am drinking too much of his Kool-Aid or he is drinking too much of mine!

      1. I know that the Spring games don’t count but I’m still seeing a lot of Ks from some guys like Taylor. I’m not seeing bunts, hit and runs, stolen bases, etc. If the Dodgers really intend to use that stuff during the regular season they would practice it in the Spring.

        I know it’s Spring but the Dodgers are tied for 27th in BA (.240). Their K rate is low (tied for 24th most). They are 28th in SB (5). I see no evidence that a big change is coming.

        I am very optimistic that the Dodgers’ starting pitching will be outstanding.

    5. Dodgerrick.
      I completely agree with you on your analysis. Especially #3 & 4 and the MOST #5.
      To date, this has caused me grief from people, perhaps because they thought I was a troll, or an imposter or a Russian. But those were many of my observations. I love old school baseball. Traditional baseball.

      We own and sell tons and tons of vintage baseball and football memorabilia. I will not disclose our store name at this time out fear it will be “Trolled” so to speak. But some of the things we have are so freaking neat I know you, as an old-timer would appreciate them. Ham

      1. That is very cool that you specialize in vintage memorabilia, especially those two sports. I have stayed on the sideline of all the stuff said about you and feel for your position, it’s hard to defend yourself and I hope you blow it off. You are a great Dodger fan and your takes are mostly damn good. I’m glad you’re here and hope you stay,

  13. I agree with Dodgerrick. Alot of flailing strike outs and not much situational hitting this spring. I truly hope that changes.

    1. RVS should have just sprinkled fairy dust on all the hitters and solved the problems instantly.

      There is no process – it should be like instant coffee!

      He can undo years of bad habits in an instant.

      One day he was Joe Schmoe and the next day…. BANG! He was JD Martinez. It all happened overnight….

      Geeeeeezzzzzzz!

    2. Roger,
      You have always been one who has been fair to me. Thank you. I also hope the K’s slow down. Especially from Bellinger. I predict Taylor continues

  14. Ok Mark get your drift. With that said, was Turner Ward a true believer of the launch angle for all these years, or something different ? I do know that he pushed the hitters to go deep into the count, but that doesn’t play well when you start off 0-2 with a few fastballs right down the middle and you swung out of your shoes both times(Joc, CT). What is your “Magic fairy dust” to undo the all or nothing approach of last year? It seems like team wide we got into that long ball rut, and it really showed in the World Series.

    1. I do not hate Turner Ward. It’s just that his disciplined AB’s took away aggressiveness. Sometimes the best pitch is the first pitch. Baseball is changing…. Is RVS the answer? It’s a bold move! In the right direction, I think…. but it might be mid-season before we can really tell.

      1. I don’t believe Turner Ward took away anyone’s aggressiveness. Some guys are first ball hitters and when they make an out us fans complain about jumping on the first pitch. When they work the count and it doesn’t work out we complain about that. Ward’s philosophy was don’t get yourself out and pass the baton. The front office sabremetric people give the hitters printouts of their hot zones and cold zones basically telling them which pitches to lay off of and which to hunt for earlier in the count. I’m not sure who in particular we could say is less aggressive because of the batting coach. Barnes took a lot of pitches last year because he was lost at the plate. Machado was often too aggressive. Taylor lost control of the strike-zone in my opinion. Sometimes too aggressive, sometimes looking at strike three. Yanking players like Bellinger and Puig in and out of the lineup was a bigger problem. Often these hitters have their own hitting guru’s in the off-season because it is their livelihood and they’re trying to figure out of how too make money. For some they feel sacrificing contact for power is how they do it. Turner Ward is a good hitting coach and I’ve heard JT speak on how he was unhappy to lose him to the Reds.

      2. Mike Trout used to always take the 1st pitch and the word got out until the meatballs just got too tasty and he started launching some and pitchers stopped taking liberties. I see a lot more 1st pitch line drives this spring from the Dodger hitters and I like that better than trying to work the count when the pitcher doesn’t want to nibble.

        Hawkeye, good to see you! I get to see Puig in a Reds uniform, might take some getting used to.

  15. I want to reiterate what AC said earlier: Joey Bart is a beast. He will be better than Buster Posy.

    The Giants should move Posey to 1B and start Bart as C… looking to trade Belt, Panik, Madbum, Crawford and anyone else with a pulse. Posy might play 3 or 4 more year at 1B.

    They should sell off and tank… something the Dodgers have never done.

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