Open Thread #10

Correction: I thought the Dodger Insider post I linked to was written by Jon Weisman. I’m still not used to thinking of that site as a multi-author blog. It was actually written by Cary Osborne. I’m sorry for the misattribution!

By Mr. Weisman’s Cary Osborne’s calculations, the moves the Dodgers made during the off-season have made them the most improved team in the West in terms of Defensive Runs Saved.

Huh? What’s that number, you ask? Defensive Runs Saved is an attempt to determine the value of a player against other players of the same position. As Joe Posnanski put it at his blog: “the number determines (using film study and computer comparisons) how many more or fewer successful plays a defensive player will make than league average.”

Here’s the full-on explanation from its creators at The Fielding Bible, if you’re interested. It’s lengthy.

Anyway, Jon Cary says

Gone from the Dodgers are Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez and Dee Gordon, who combined for -37 DRS. In are Howie Kendrick, and Jimmy Rollins and what appears to be either Joc Pederson or Andre Ethier. Since there isn’t enough Major League statistical data on Pederson, we’re going to slot Ethier into the replacement for Kemp. Rollins, Kendrick and Ethier combined for six DRS. That’s a swing of +43 DRS.

He’s got the other NL West teams’ DRS data, and he comes up with the startling fact that the Dodgers are the only team in the division whose changes over the winter give it a net positive number.


98 thoughts on “Open Thread #10

  1. Jeff Snider plays “What – If” with the Dodgers and Luke Hochevar. What if he had not dumped Scott Boras and agreed to a deal with the Dodgers (as really happened in 2005) and then reneged on his switch from Boras to a different agent? He didn’t sign with anyone that year. He was drafted again in 2006 by the Royals. The Dodgers picked seventh that year, and they got a high school pitcher named Kershaw.

    But what if Hochevar had signed with the Dodgers in 2005? Which teams and which players might have been affected? Go read. It’s a fun game.

    • The alleged interest is just to pacify the fans. Moncada has too much big name potential to be of interest to the FO. This group has less credibility than even Ned.

    • Having a bit of money allows us to do these sorts of things and take risks. Kuo was as injury prone as anyone with two TJ under his belt (well, actually his elbow) and gave us three years of ERA+ of 196, 135 and 324 before he got eh Knoblauch disease.

    • Wake me up when Friedman and the rest of the Geek Squad sign anyone that is a premium player.

  2. Friedman doesn’t seem deterred by penalties and signing restrictions if the team lands Moncada–and maybe additional Cubans. Regards the consequences as just a cost of doing business if signings make sense.

    From linked story: “The Dodgers would face the same penalties if they signed amateurs Yadier
    Alvarez, Andy Ibanez and/or others during this international signing period.”

    OK, go for it. Sign Moncada and the rest of ’em too.

    Kinda like in basketball….if you’re going to get called for a foul, get your money’s worth. Go ahead and mug the other guy, don’t just get called for a pitty-pat hand check or something minor.

  3. Gurnick perspective piece from a couple days back. From it…

    “Mattingly’s job has already been made easier by the clubhouse subtractions of Kemp, Ramirez and Brian Wilson. Although Kemp was a star again in the second half, his relationship with Mattingly was strained. Ramirez was a daily uncertainty physically, especially after the club wouldn’t extend his contract. And Wilson’s eccentricity, tolerated when he was unhittable, became a distraction when he couldn’t get outs.”

    Nothing earth-shattering, but more confirmation of clubhouse issues last year.

    Other good stuff in piece.

    • Imagine having to work with people you don’t get along with! Me thinks that Donnie will actually have a more difficult time. The previous line up almost wrote itself. There will be a lot of second guessing and disgruntlement on where guys are batting in the line up from them, and for us, if we don’t get quickly out of the blocks.

      • Don’s game skills do not impress me, but I appreciate the complexity of managing egos – it was hard enough with a slow-pitch team that wasn’t earning millions.

        • Yea, and Donnie has to work with Friedman too. Don’t think he will be around long. If the Dodgers start slow, Donnie may go early.

    • Looks like Kershaw won’t have A.J. catching him much at all as last year Kershaw faced 20 Right Hand Pitchers and only 7 Left Hand pitchers. So much for what Kid K wants.

  4. When asked why the trades were made in the off season, it was said many times that the Dodgers were trying to get younger. The best I can tell, the players that the Dodgers traded for averaged being older. 30 years Dodgers 31 New Dodgers. Is this a lie?

    • I would say it’s more clearing out some older players for others with shorter contracts, like Kendrick, to make room for younger talent like Pederson and Seager. That will lower the average age.

      • I don’t understand that statement as the Dodgers did not need to make a trade for Rollins, Kendrick and Grandal to keep Seager and Pederson.

        • Seager is probably not yet ready. Rollins is a one-year placeholder. Grandal is considerably younger than A.J., for that matter.

          • Not trying to be not understanding but Dee was much younger than Howie and Heisey is older than Kemp. My point is that management is just not telling the truth. Younger has nothing to do with it IMO.

          • They bet that Gordon’s normal is the way he performed in the second half of the season rather than the first and followed the axiom “buy low, sell high.” If they’re right he was at the height of his value. The Dodgers have several middle infielders in the pipeline, so Kendrick is also probably a placeholder. If they don’t pan out Kendrick can be offered a new contract next year.

          • Hey Link
            I hope they sign both Cubans, Moncada and Olivera. That would be and infield for many years except Gonzalez who would have to be replaced. I also think Grandal would have to be replaced sooner rather than later.

          • Having had a drug history and having had a serious knee injury I just feel he won’t be around long. Plus the fact he just isn’t that good offensively. Defensely he allows a lot of passed balls. Pitch Framing is not the only thing a catcher must be good at. Catcher is definitely the weakest position the Dodgers have IMO.

          • I would guess that passed balls is the downside of good framing, in that one tries to keep the mitt in the zone. He came back from suspension and injury to put up an OPS+ of 112 last year, which is probably top five for catchers (just guessing), so that’s good..

          • Getting younger is not something a team can do entirely all at once.
            It’s a process and might involve short-term bridge players like Rollins
            and to a lesser degree Kendrick.

            And when get-younger moves are made, they need to fit the longer-term big picture, not just be age dumps.

            Kemp is 3 months older than Hesisey. Sept. 84 for Kemp, Dec.84 for Heisey.

  5. Just read where Nick Cafardo ranked Donnie at #17 of MLB managers. I think he must be more nimble and functional and a good bit better defensively. This would compute into a better 2015 than 2014 with even less wins. OK?

  6. Some comments elsewhere that…

    A) Kenley should have told the team earlier instead of waiting until start of the season.

    B) The medical staff is not doing its job, should have known about this and fixed it before now.

    I wish to add…

    C) Once again, there is no shortage of idiot commenters in some places.

    • Certainly agree with C) but not necessarily A) and B). I got the impression from the post about it that it was a very recent development, and note also that the process of diagnosis as listed would likely have eaten up several weeks. No rocks to be thrown here…

  7. What level of concern does everyone have with Kenley being out for 8-12 weeks? Out of a scale of 10 (max concern), I would say I’m at about 2.5 or 3.

    • Foot surgery is a lot less scary than anything to do with his arm. However, I remember that it was Dizzy Dean’s broken toe and him changing his delivery to accommodate it that shortened his career, so even feet can cause trouble.

      • Yes, you can fill in with a lot of different options but it is sure nice to feel confident with a great closer. I know Friedman has an answer.

    • I think yours is a reasonable assessment. Though it’s great to have an elite closer, there’s usually somebody who can fill in for the short term – so long as it’s not League.

    • Hey WinnipegDave! I will give it about a 4 but it could go up if Kenley has any complications or if the team does not get off to a good start or has trouble getting a suitable fill in.

    • 7.5. Good innings from the pen are at a premium at the beginning of the season before the starters are able to round into form.

  8. You may remember that when Derek Jeter retired he talked about creating a website for players to communicate directly with fans without the filter of the sportswriters.

    He’s done so. I didn’t even know its name, but I saw a link to an essay written there by Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates in which he talks about the problem baseball has in leaving low-income kids out of the game. It’s pretty good. He talks about the choices poor kids have to make, say between Playstations and baseball equipment.

    I always chose the new bat or glove. But all the scraping and saving in the world wasn’t going to be enough for my family to send me an hour north to Lakeland every weekend to play against the best competition. That’s the challenge for families today. It’s not about the $100 bat. It’s about the $100-a-night motel room and the $30 gas money and the $300 tournament fee. There’s a huge financing gap to get a child to that next level where they might be seen.

  9. This ranks Dodgers #2 in baseball. Starts Dodger eval with this:

    “The nerd numbers (and by that I mean the PECOTA projections) really, really, really love this Dodgers team. The system picks them to win 97 games, by far the most in baseball. I don’t think it’s going to be quite that easy, particularly given how much the Padres have improved the outlook of the NL West. But while I don’t know if the win total itself will improve on last year’s 94 mark, I do think the Dodgers project to be a better ballclub than they were last year.”

    • I understand the longer term nature of the moves and the risks to the club otherwise, but out of curiosity wonder what the projections would have been if they had resigned Hanley and not traded Kemp among their moves?

      • How many games would such an injury-prone duo be likely to play? I like them both, but that’s an issue, especially with Hanley.

        • Hanley played in about 60% of our games the past two years and gave us over WAR 10. You think we would get anything near 5 WAR next year at SS from anyone playing there full time? Kemp gave us four years averaging 160 games per season. He ran into a wall and he stepped awkwardly on home plate so he is injury-prone? He played in 150 games last year and had a second half OPS+ of 177 on par with his 2011 season when he produced WAR 8.6. He hits like that and even if he plays half the games he gives us WAR 4.3. You think we get that next year from any of our outfielders except Puig?

          • I think Joc has the potential to do that, but whether he’ll manage it in his rookie season is debatable. I like Kemp a lot, but his judgment as an OF is open to question, and his physical did show arthritic hips. Rollins should be a big defensive upgrade on Hanley, and he even has a little pop (though far from Hanley levels).

          • Sure. I really didn’t mean to rehash the moves and their rationales, as I tried to indicate in posing the question. In my response to you, I was trying to show that even if projected as “injury-prone” the production of these two will be difficult to replace.

          • You make a good case. Kendrick and Grandal are likely to pick up some of that slack, I think. The injuries really cut into A.J.’s production, and catchers age so much quicker. It’s unfortunate they didn’t give him the job when he was in his prime.

          • Speaking of age, Rollins at 37 can’t have nearly the range he used to have and sometimes during these late 30 years the age factor hits quickly and also sometimes injury happens more frequently. It is hard to figure why in some cases you hear that age is a factor and then on the same team it is not a factor. I have trouble understanding it.

          • He was seen as the best option to be place-holder for Seager for a year. With Hanley gone they didn’t think there was a viable SS option in-house. They’re gambling Rollins won’t fall off the cliff for one more year.

          • Rollins should be fine for a single year, even if he’s not what he once was. Hanley’s never been much of a defensive SS.

          • Yes, after Martin left they went through a bunch of retreads before finally acknowledging A.J. was better than any of them.

          • I deeply regret losing Kemp. Did the Padres really want him or only the money? I have to wonder if they wouldn’t have been just as happy to take Ethier and more money. Shorter contract, lower salary, easier to spin-off. They’re certainly not short of outfielders…

          • I believe there was more to it than we know. I am not sure how well Kemp and Mattingly got along. The question I ask is if it were my team would I trade Kemp. No because I would keep my best 3 outfielders. Money for the Dodgers is not a problem so why not? I would certainly not trade for what they got either.

          • I would guess that Mattingly was perhaps consulted but was not part of the group that came up with the trade.

          • Kemp was just the first in a series of moves to upgrade their outfield and starting rotation, so I don’t think that they were looking for money and warm bodies.

          • Don’t see moving Kemp as an upgrade to the outfield or the addition of Anderson and McCarthy as pitching upgrades over Beckett and Haren.

  10. While the Dodgers improved themselves defensively, this is not a comparison by position as presented by Osborne, but uses overall numbers by these players, so it would include Kemp in lf, cf and rf, where he ended up just a bit below average.

  11. I am starting to get excited about the upcoming season and the new firebrand of baseball. According to all the experts and most of you all, the team should be better. I am ready to get on that bandwagon.

  12. The Dodgers worked out Yoan Moncada again today. Maybe they have more interest than we know or just getting ready to say Nah which would seem like the norm.

    • I think there’s a good chance they sign Moncada, but it’s a judgement call for both. Penalties would make rebuilding the farm system more difficult.

      • Who’s to say that there would be any signings to come anywhere near Moncada or even above average prospects in the next two years? Remember, right now Alphabet is not so great.

        • Arruebarrena and Guerrero were both acquired under the previous front office regime. Both are still open to judgement.

        • Speaking of regimes, one might suppose that t recent thawing of the relationship could potentially “free up” a lot of Cuban players in the near future..

          • I think the Dodgers plan may be to sign several players and just suffer the penalty once. If they do that it should be just money spent.

  13. That explanation of a positive thing for the Dodgers somehow does not make me feel much better about the moves.

  14. I find this plausible, but quantifying defense is necessarily imprecise. The traditional numbers – errors, fielding percentage – are extremely oversimplified.