Open Thread #5

Jay Jaffe pens a nice appreciation of Hiroki Kuroda’s MLB career.

Four guys are elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. One of the electees is a minor surprise to my mind (Smoltz, earlier than I expected), while a couple of the unelected are a disappointment to me (Piazza and Bagwell).

Maybe more later.

65 thoughts on “Open Thread #5

  1. Scherzer and/or Shields not completely out of the question, says GM Zaidi.

    We don’t comment on free agents that are out there. I’ll just say we’re
    not closing any doors at this point. You’re never done. You’re
    constantly evaluating new options to improve the team and we’re still in
    that phase. If there’s a guy out there that we think makes us better
    and is available at the right price, we’ll absolutely consider it.”

    • The Dodgers have as much chance of signing Scherzer or Shields as I have of building a rocket to the moon. Especially with these tight morons.

        • He may command at least five years at $30 million, so that will be a tough call. League and Rollins will come off the books (almost $20 million), as will Uribe, so Seager will need to work out and they will need a 3rd base

    • He says nice things about Dre, but hard to believe that 3.5 would be a serious option for CF. It doesn’t fit into the Dodger Brain Trust’s (DBT) improved outfield defense narrative. Gotta believe that CF is being handed to Joc pretty much regardless of how they compare in ST. He also seems to be waiting for the DBT to tell him what his lineup should be (I guess he saw “Moneyball”).

      • I think you hit it “Dead Head”!! By the way, did you read where he said he would gladly except help for his everyday lineup?

    • I think the Dodgers are still the strong division favorite, but I would say the Padres have overtaken the Gnats (who may catch up with the Snakes but probably not the Rox).

  2. Does anyone here have advice about going to spring training in AZ? I went several times when the Dodgers were in Vero, but this will be my 1st time in AZ.

    • I went three years ago with a friend. We stayed in a hotel that was not a long drive from many of the ballparks. It is possible to go to day and evening games on the same day. I suggest going later in spring training so you will see more of the players likely to make the Opening Day rosters. I also suggest going to various stadiums to get a sense of the entire package. The Glendale complex that the Dodgers and White Sox share has considerable areas to walk around and you can see the minor leaguers work out. The ballpark has great sight lines and the concourse is spacious. The Giants play in Scottsdale. It is an older, well-maintained stadium on a city block. Parking was a bit difficult. There are more things to do near that stadium, such as going to restaurants, than at many others. Spring training is a fun experience, but it has gotten quite costly in the last few years. Have fun.

    • I get emotional when I am repeatedly told that my reaction to the Kemp trade is emotional. I just think it was bad. I welcome Grandal at this point, but he says that Grandal is a good framer, who needs to work on passed balls. I would hazard to guess that there is a tradeoff involved. As I recall, Martin was known as a good framer but also suffered from passed balls. If you are trying to keep your glove in the zone as long as possible, it stands to reason that some might get away.

      • I think Grandal has an offensive upside, though. In retrospect, I’m disappointed that A.J. didn’t get a chance to prove himself earlier, but now he’s really aging for a catcher.

        • Yes, of course Grandal on the offense, I was just wondering how much he might be able to improve on passed balls and that a lot of them is not necessarily a sign of poor defense.

          • Having pitchers throw sliders and curves into the dirt, as is the fashion these days, is a good recipe for passed balls.

          • Maybe we needed a scrambler instead of a framer, what with the emphasis on ground ball pitchers (who tend to keep it down in the zone)and improved infield defense (but does this make outfield defense less important!?)

    • Are you saying that those three, Matt, Dee, Hanley were a clubhouse problem based on the article? If so, then do you think that if they had found a taker for Dre they would have kept Matt or was that an illusion? Letting Hanley go and flipping Dee for Kendrick was easy. Even if that were true, the Dodgers still won 94 games and if they don’t win then I think Donnie is a goner and he doesn’t even see it coming.

        • Donnie loves to change the lineup. With the new players and resting players constantly, I am not sure what we will see? If the team is losing it will look like fruit basket turnover.

      • No. I’m not saying anything myself. DM is. Linking an article doesn’t necessarily mean endorsing everything in it.

        None of us really know any facts except thru media. And facts can be slanted by reporting. Still, as widely reported as clubhouse issues were, there probably is at least some truth. Where there’s that much smoke, bound to be at least some fire, etc.

        Not hard to get that Hanley had attitude issues. DM references Kemp issues in this piece. But I never saw anything about Dee other than praise for being a good person and positive clubhouse influence.

        You might be right that if they’d found a taker for Dre they might not have traded Kemp. IIRC they may have had an Ethier deal with AZ for Montero, a C. But the Montero deal didn’t happen, so…Grandal, who seems to better regarded than Montero, did. They were determined to upgrade at C.

        The FO knew what it had offensively in Kemp. They knew that when right he’s one of the best hitters in baseball, apart from defensive, age, injury, and contract issues. But there’s not really an “apart from.” You have to consider the whole player, and there’s no DH in the NL.

        I’d love to have seen Kemp’s bat stay in the lineup, especially considering the decline of offense overall and his ability. But you have to give up value to get value, and that’s the call they made.

        What encourages me is the pretty universal acclaim for Friedman as one of the best judges of player talent there is. So, we’ll see.

        The true test of this FO likely is how the team does over several years, not just 2015. I think Kasten has in mind a Braves-like run of division dominance for the Dodgers, no doubt with hopes for greater post season success than ATL had.

        • I lived close to the Atlanta area during the Braves run on divisional titiles and never could understand why they would not bring in much free agent talent. Winning only one WS over 12 years is not success in my opinion. The Dodgers have won several divisional titles over the last few years and they removed Ned so I hope that Friedman gets the same judgement if they do not win. But since the “Universal Acclaim” is so positive I am sure the team is more functional and more of a team.

          • You’d think things almost would have to go the Braves’ way to more than one WS title out of 14 straight division wins. They did get close a couple other times. Still, their division run isn’t likely to be equaled. I believe 14 straight would be considered successful by most people. For you it seems to be WS titles or failure, no middle ground.

            Lately, NYY, the Dodgers, and others prove that big-name free agents and big payrolls guarantee exactly zero WS titles. It seems to be more whoever gets on a roll and has one or more pitchers hit a dominant streak.

            SF in recent years and STL a couple times have shown that the best teams/records over 162 don’t necessarily win in postseason. Last year none of the “best” even made the WS.

            I think Ned was removed largely because of too many bad contracts and overspending the team into a corner, along with not showing much vision or ability to judge players correctly. Much more and the Dodgers were looking at maybe becoming the Phillies. Ned wasn’t the worst GM out there. But I think the FO thought the Dodgers could do better.

            Friedman’s acclaim isn’t universal. Obviously it doesn’t include yours. ;-])

            You almost certainly won’t agree with or care much for the content of the following and may even be angered by it. But it’s a decent summation of what’s happened so far.

            http://www.baseballessential.com/news/2014/12/12/opinion-is-andrew-friedman-a-mad-man-or-a-genius/

          • The article that you included is simply just one person’s opinion just like yours or mine. To me, much of it was subjective and included saved money issues. I don’t care if it costs a lot to win a WS as it is not my money. Some was betting on the come of Joc Pederson Or the greatness of Grandal. Really, I don’t think anything I could say would change any of your opinion as you seem to think that if this front office does something it is right. The news of the day is that they will not make all the right moves or all wrong moves. The bottom line is will they win 94 games or more and do they win a WS. I might also add that this is not Tampa and he does not have to win a WS with a low budget team. He just has to win.

          • They don’t need to win 94 games. They just need to win one more than whoever’s chasing them within the division does. World Series or Bust? I don’t think they’re looking at it like it has to be done this year or they’d have kept Kemp and possibly Ramirez and probably Haren as well.

          • Link, you just made my point and my day. That is all I have been saying all along. The fact that they should have kept, Hanley, Kemp and Haren for a quick chance at a WS and then revamp.

          • Haren most likely would have proven to be a liability in such a strategy. If we saw the offensive and defensive best of Kemp and Hanley, it might have worked. It probably would have meant at least 3 years of an aging and defensively challenged Hanley on a new contract.

          • Foul Tip– Just try and understand my point. It has been 27 years with no title. There have been decent years and bad years. I just think that change for the sake of change is bad. It is how I have understood business my whole life. If the Dodgers had attained a title recently and changed some position players, I could have understood that but it just seems that over and over we rebuild and nothing good happens. The last couple of years the Dodgers have come close to maybe getting to the WS. To continue to make wholesale changes and keeping looking to the future has not worked either and guess what? Not too much success in Tampa. Maybe the new guys plans will work but I follow players pretty closely and I cannot understand the trades because it is based on what might happen instead of what has been achieved in the past.

          • They aren’t making change for the sake of change, they’d say. They are getting younger and cheaper so they can reach higher levels and stay there longer. I would expect them to monitor A-Gon’s production pretty carefully too this year, since he’s 32 and is being paid $21M per season through 2018.

            Look, Kemp had become a defensive liability and was injury-prone as well. Ramirez was the same. Kemp’s contract was immense and had another five years to go. As foul tip says, it would have taken at least a three-year deal if not more to keep Hanley. It looks like management thought those two guys were already declining in value, so it decided to get out from under those real (Kemp) or potential (Ramirez) liabilities.

          • Yes, it’s opinion–subjective by definition. But it’s highly likely to be much more informed opinion than those in the general public like us.

            The saved money issues are relevant as not even the Guggenheimers have an unlimited budget forever. I think Kasten wants the best blend of smart player investment/spending and strategy/vision possible and settled on Friedman as the best chance to get that. Other teams have been after him, but he didn’t leave Tampa until the Dodgers called.

            “”…you seem to think that if this front office does something it is right.” .Actually, I think that if this front office does something it has a good chance of being right and deserves the benefit of the doubt until proven wrong. You pays your money and you takes your chances, as it were.

            Based on all I’ve seen about the new front office, I think they may get it done. Ned wasn’t going to.

          • We have seen what Ned did during his time. Pehaps we should not be too cocky with Friedman’s crowd until he has done something??

          • He’s already done something, keeping the Rays very competitive year in and year out on a shoestring. Over several years his teams were very close in win totals to much bigger payroll teams.

            If he hadn’t done that, the Dodgers likely aren’t interested.

          • Being competitive is not winning a WS. Also the Dodgers don’t need to operate on a shoestring. You need to take money out of the equation and I wish the Dodgers weren’t interested.

          • I think that Ned’s job when the new group came in was to produce an instant winner using the windfall. And he did just that, but it involved long term contracts, which now need to be unwound by a management group more adept at that. The Ned same approach would have made us stronger next year by resigning Hanley and keeping Kemp, but it would have meant short/medium term risks (injury/age). I can get behind the new approach and most of the things that they have done, but for me Kemp was a bridge too far.

    • Uh oh. Donnie, Jimmy is not a leadoff hitter anymore, even if he ever was one,. Batted second for the Fillies most of last year. Has never had an OBP of over .350 in his entire career and came in at .323 last year. Actually, the pieces were a bit easier for him to manage last year. I can foresee a lot of lineup juggling as he learns how best to use the new players.

    • Donnie seems to forget that he actually put Matty in leftfield and Dre into cf. The numbers show that Dre was actually a worse cf than Matty and Donnie latter moved Puig there and Matty to rf (and Dre to the bench), where Matty fielded at an average level and hit a ton. In cf, Vin thought that Puig was the second coming of Willie Mays and his number there were actually much better than Trout’s (zero runs save versus -8).

    • Wish Donnie all the luck in the world. We have just had two WS capable teams in 2013-14, snakebit by a couple of less-than-Kershaw outings, bad pen last year and Hanley injury in 2013.

  3. Alphabet cleared waivers! (is that a good thing?) and is non-roster invitee to ST.

    • I little bit more to the point than the Arneson blog I posted in the previous thread bemoaning the trade from the A’s side!

    • Bleacher Report’s credibility is widely dismissed, but others have come to similar conclusions. I think the issue is whether he’ll make consistent contact and/or be able to maintain his high walk rate.

    • Talk about bold. ZiPS has him at 3.3 WAR (.239/.374/.420 with 22 dingers-so a good portion is expected from dWAR), third best on the team behind Puig and Kendrick. In all ten position players with at least 2.0 (no other team has more than 7), so they buy into the balanced lineup. Combinations at catcher and lf are both expected to be around 4.0. Overall from best in the NL at 31.2 oWAR in 2014, they are predicting 30.0 for the team in 2015. Not surprising, since they are probably crunching the same numbers as the Dodger Brain Trust (DBT).

  4. This new C from SD….. “Not so illustrious” career includes PED suspension.

    What’s the scoop on this guy? Back up to AJ? Compete for starting job?

    • He is supposed to be the starter and the real deal. A great pitch framer according to master team builder Friedman.

    • You know it is not very smart to blame Vin Scully for your contract problems. Vin is a really upstanding man and not one to throw anyone under the bus. That did not help Mike in my opinion. I think he will go in next year however.

    • Piazza and Bags would have been nice. Not that he doesn’t deserve it, but Smoltz on paper doesn’t seem to compare to a guy like Mussina