Feb 12

Spring Training begins this week

To get into the mood, Houston Mitchell of the Times is listing the results of a readers’ poll which asked “Who are the 10 Greatest Dodgers of All Time?”

I received 8,382 ballots from newsletter readers who responded to send me their choices as the top 10 Dodgers of all time. Points were assigned based on ranking, with the first-place choice getting 12 points, second place getting 10, third place eight, down to one point for 10th place. After tabulating the ballots, I will be presenting the top 25 in points. We will be counting down Nos. 25-11, one each weekday, for the next three weeks. Then we will time the top 10 so No. 1 unveils on March 29, the day the season opens.

Click the link to see who #25 is.

The Cubs wanted Yu Darvish enough to pay him $126 million over six years. Obviously the Dodgers didn’t want to pay that much for that long. I suspect it was the length of the contract more than the dollars which gave the Dodgers pause.

Kenley Jansen and Alex Wood are both ready for spring training:



Jan 28

Could collusion happen again?

Kenley Jansen is wondering that. He suggested that there may even need to be a strike to unlock the free-agent market, which so far this off-season has seen “eight of the top 10 free agents from MLB Trade Rumors’ top 50 list…still in search of teams for 2018.”

But is it collusion or is it smarter front offices which has made offers so rare? Jay Jaffe of SI.com analyzed the top 20 of the Top 50 free agents first identified in November. He suggests

Of the seven pitchers, four had Tommy John surgery within the last three years, and all hit the disabled list at least once, with Arrieta the only one not to miss at least a month due to an arm injury. Of the 13 position players, just two will start the 2018 season still in their twenties. Only two rank among the top five at their positions in three-year WAR, while five were in the lower half of qualifiers.

As he says, if he can figure this out with a little effort, the analytical teams in each front office can do the same.

If I were a player who’d been counting on at least one big payoff in salary and length of contract in my career and had finally reached free agency, I’d be feeling a little annoyed and a little worried right now.

Of course, it could be both smarter front offices and collusion.

Jan 14

One month away

Today’s news is that A-Gon is reportedly on his way to play for the Mets in the 2018 season.

The Mets get Gonzalez at the league minimum salary of $545,000 in 2018. The Braves are responsible for the $21.5 million owed to him for the 2018 season under his previous contract.

Except for that whole “playing on the East Coast again” issue it looks like Adrian has landed on his feet. Good for him.

Earlier in the week the Dodgers avoided arbitration with all the players they have who were eligible. Here is a copy of the table Eric Stephen of TBLA put together to show the results:

Player Service Time 2017 salary MLBTR projections TBLA guess 2018 salary
Yasmani Grandal 5.115 $5,500,000 $7,700,000 $7,400,000 $7,900,000
Alex Wood 4.123 $2,800,000 $6,400,000 $6,550,000 $6,000,000
Tony Cingrani 4.088 $1,825,000 $2,200,000 $2,300,000 $2,300,000
Josh Fields 4.083 $1,050,000 $2,200,000 $1,900,000 $2,200,000
Joc Pederson 3.023 $555,000 $2,000,000 $2,800,000 $2,600,000
Pedro Baez 3.059 $550,000 $1,500,000 $1,400,000 $1,500,000
Kiké Hernandez 3.054 $550,000 $1,300,000 $1,650,000 $1,600,000
Yimi Garcia 3.004 $550,000 $700,000 n/a $630,000
Dec 29

Cue Felix Mendelssohn

There have been or will be not one, not two, but six Dodger weddings this offseason. There might even be seven, but Kiké Hernandez and his fiancée may not have set a date yet.

Messrs. Ryu, Stripling, Wood, Turner, Barnes and Pederson have all either gotten hitched already or gotten engaged. Isn’t that sweet? See the pictures at True Blue LA’s link above.

All these gentlemen are obviously taking Satchel Paige’s advice, particularly his 4th rule: “Go very light on the vices, such as carrying on in society. The social ramble ain’t restful.” Marriage will settle a man right down, I’ve heard.

Dec 13

Keep the Action Alive — a guest post

Our colleague Fred sent this to me and suggested he’d post it as a comment if I didn’t put it in a post. It seems to me it’s likely to get more attention for a longer period if it’s in a post, and it’s worthy of discussion.

Every year there is talk about speeding up the game of baseball. Millennials are different, they don’t want to watch the grass grow during the 25 seconds between pitches or watch the pitcher and catcher play catch.

Players are not playing at their best if they stand around and they are not at their best in extra innings.

Here are some ideas for creating more action in a shorter period of time:

  1. Use the DH in the NL but when the third pitcher enters the game, he goes into the DH spot.
    a. The pitcher who last pitched would thereafter be in the DH spot.

  2. Start all extra innings with a runner on second base. This will shorten the number of extra innings played and keep the game lively in those extra innings.
  3. Use electronics to call balls and strikes. Less arguing and allows hitters to be more aggressive.
  4. Reduce the time between innings.
    a. Five warm up pitches?
    b. Insert more ads during the innings whether it is the announcer reminding viewers that the game is brought to you by X or maybe a graphic somewhere on the screen.

  5. Electronically reduce the strike zone whenever a pitcher takes too much time. The clock would start when the pitcher has the ball and is within 10 feet of the mound. Maybe 18 to 22 seconds?
  6. Expand the strike zone electronically whenever a hitter is not ready to hit within 8 seconds between pitches.
  7. Reduce the strike zone for the next 5 pitches whenever a pitcher puts a pitch more than 6 inches inside and above the shoulders. Less intimidation means more action. The location would be determined electronically.
Dec 07

The Stanton sweepstakes

From Sports Illustrated today:

Stanton is a definite upgrade in leftfield over the combo of Kiké Hernandez and Joc Pederson, but considering they’ll combine to make around $3–4 million next year, is it worth tacking on Stanton’s contract and potentially hamstringing future offseasons or losing Kershaw to accomplish that?

When it’s put that way, and when I consider that Stanton will be in his thirties for most of the remaining ten years and $275 million of his existing contract, I don’t think I really want him that badly.

Nov 21

Find your sports bar now

Two of the first four Dodgers’ games in 2018 will be on ESPN.

ESPN will televise the Dodgers-Giants opener on Thursday, March 29, a 4 p.m. PT start, and will also showcase the series finale on “Sunday Night Baseball,” a 5:30 p.m. PT start. Both will be exclusive telecasts by ESPN, which means no SPNLA broadcast of either game.

Hmm. Kershaw pitches Opening Day, Hill in Game Two, Maeda in Game Three and Wood in Game Four, I’m guessing.

Nov 12

Personnel departures

Not players, though. It’s only 10 days after the World Series and the Dodgers have already seen three members of their front office depart: Director of Player Development Gabe Kapler has left to manage the Phillies, Assistant Director of Player Development Jeremy Zoll has left to run the Twins minor league system, and as of Monday Vice President of Baseball Operations Alex Anthopolous is expected to be announced as the new General Manager of the Braves.

I suspect it’s easier to find front office talent than it is good-to-excellent players, but it still means a lot of work for the HR Department.

Nov 06

What’s in your baseball library?

Prompted by Bob Hendley’s comment below.

What should be?

I’ve bought three baseball books in the past month:

If you need an overview of baseball history for your reference shelves, I just got this one (used). It’s current through 2004 and it’s pretty good.

If you want a good history of the Dodgers – Giants rivalry through 2003 (so not including the Giants’ three WS championships in the 2000s), this is a good one.

And finally, I added a minor classic: I picked up a used copy of David Halberstam’s Summer of ’49.

My entire baseball collection is cataloged at Library Thing.

What do you have and what do you want to get?

Nov 02

Free agency day

Here’s the most comprehensive list of free agents I could find. Go shopping for ones the Dodgers might want!

Here are the Dodgers who are free agents: Yu Darvish; Curtis Granderson; Franklin Gutierrez; Brandon Morrow; Chase Utley; Tony Watson

MLB has a slightly longer list. It includes Forsythe and his $8.5 million club option and Ethier and his $2.5 million club option.

The following Dodgers are arbitration-eligible: Luis Avilan, Pedro Baez, Tony Cingrani, Josh Fields, Yimi Garcia, Yasmani Grandal, Enrique Hernandez, Joc Pederson, Alex Wood.

MLB’s story also raises several questions:

  1. Does Seager’s elbow need surgery, and if so, when will he have it done?
  2. Will Honeycutt be back for another season? His contract’s up and he’s 63 years old (I remember him as a pitcher! He can’t be that old!)
  3. What does Adrian Gonzalez want to do and what do the Dodgers want to do with him?

They might very well go after Darvish, despite his horrific failures in the World Series. They will probably try to sign Morrow, but he might be offered more than the Dodgers want to pay. The same goes for Watson. Granderson they’ll let go, and Gutierrez was a failed pickup (due to injury, not performance); I can’t see them keeping him. I doubt they’ll keep Utley unless he wants to coach. They have more use for the 25th spot on the playing roster than to re-sign him for several million dollars just to act as a pinch-hitter and occasional caddy for whoever plays second base next season.