Dec 10

Wintry mix

ESPN has links and gossip here.

The Phillies signed ex-Yankee Didi Gregorius to play shortstop.

The Giants acquired veteran infielder Zack Cozart and 2019 first-round pick Will Wilson (another infielder) from the Angels for a player to be named later or cash.

The Yankees, as expected, have made an offer to Gerrit Cole which is even richer than the one Stephen Strasburg got from the Nationals earlier this week.

Then there’s this:

Andrew Friedman said the Dodgers have zeroed in on roughly 12 players they’re targeting at the moment. Almost all of them, perhaps with the exception of relievers, are elite. “I’d say it’s a much more narrow group than it has been in some other years in my career,” Friedman said.

Nov 16

Broadway comes to Chavez Ravine

With apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein, “What do you do with a problem like Maeda?”

The Athletic tells us today that Maeda doesn’t want to relieve, partly because his contract is built around him being a starter but (probably) more because he’s been a starter his entire life and doesn’t think of himself as anything else. The Dodgers don’t bluntly say “pitch better, then” but you get the sense that’s what they feel. As we’ve seen the last couple of years, he starts most of the year and then is moved to the bullpen in September and October.

The strategy has proved effective for the Dodgers. But the approach vexes Maeda. It damages his pride and trims his paycheck. He has vocalized his frustration to Dodgers officials. After an unsuccessful attempt last winter to renegotiate his incentive-laden contract, which lasts another four years, Maeda remains steadfast in his desire to start. His agent, Joel Wolfe, reiterated that during a meeting with Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman this week.

“Kenta wants to make 30 starts, 32 starts during the season,” Wolfe said. “He would prefer not to be constantly shuttled to the bullpen and back. He doesn’t like it.”

[snip]

[Friedman] suggested if Maeda could improve against left-handed hitters he could solidify his place in the rotation.

“We think there’s actually more room for him to be even better, which we’re going to work with him on trying to tap into,” Friedman said. “And if he’s able to take that next step, not only do I see him in the rotation, I can see him potentially starting playoff games, if we’re fortunate enough to make it into October. He has been really good. And we think there’s another gear in there.”

I don’t blame the guy for wanting his role defined and set in stone; in my experience most people prefer that. And while Maeda has gotten some of the pay from the incentives in his contract, he’s certainly not maxing them out.

Maeda received a $25 million guarantee across eight years, with $10 million per season available in incentives.

The problem for Maeda is that those incentives were related to milestones achieved by starters, like starts made and innings pitched, and the Dodgers have chosen to use him as a reliever in September for the past three years. In 2016, when Maeda was a full-time starter, he earned $7.25 million in incentives, according to Spotrac. That number fell to $4.25 million in 2017 and then $3 million in 2018, before rebounding to $5.4 million this year.

Maeda was lights-out against right-handers in 2019; only Max Scherzer was better among ERA qualifiers in weighted on-base average. Against lefties, however, he was 36th of 88 pitchers in that ranking.

The problem doesn’t seem intractable, but it’s not a small one either. It will be interesting to see how the two sides resolve it.

Aug 08

Off-day news

From The Athletic: the Dodgers are actively attempting to create two-way players.

[Right-handed infielder Brandon] Montgomery, 23, is one of several minor-league position players the Dodgers are trying as two-way players this summer, in preparation for a new rule that will next season prohibit position players from pitching unless specific conditions are met or they qualify for two-way status.

[snip]

President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman indicated the goal was more practical.

“Any time you can have a guy potentially help the team in the batter’s box and on the mound, it’s incredible from a roster-construction standpoint,” Friedman said. “We happen to have a number of guys in our system who have done both well as an amateur. Now it’s about putting them in positions to evaluate and seeing if they can do it at the professional level. If so, obviously the benefits are huge.”

The way the Dodgers see it, only one of a player’s skills needs to be big-league caliber to justify his two-way status. Any usefulness the other provides is a bonus.

Aug 03

Game 113, 2019

Padres at Dodgers, 6:10 PM PDT, TV: FSSD, MLBN (out-of-market only), SPNLA

RHP Cal Quantrill (4-2, 3.57 ERA) pitches for the Padres. RHP Walker Buehler (9-2, 3.38 ERA) pitches for the Dodgers. Quantrill has made three starts and five relief appearances since June 23 and put up a 1.67 ERA while doing so. In his last start Buehler was saddled with his first loss in two months by the Nationals, who after four scoreless innings knocked him out in the sixth inning, by which time he’d given up eight hits and seven runs (only four of which were earned).

From The Athletic:

The fact that the four best relievers rumored to be on the market — the Giants’ Will Smith, the Padres’ Kirby Yates, Vázquez and the Mets’ Edwin Diaz — were not moved should tell us that the asking prices for all four were astronomical and/or those teams are hanging on to the delusion that they, too, could win a World Series this year (they can’t). The Yankees needed a starting pitcher as badly as I need traffic in Los Angeles to disappear forever. Unlike me, they could wave a magic wand and make their dream happen, but they chose not to. It is very obvious that sellers in this market were infected by a madness that convinced them they weren’t sellers.

[snip]

“We focused on the top four or five guys and, after that, we weren’t just gonna bring a guy in just to bring a guy in,” Friedman said.

In other words, the Dodgers weren’t going to trade for Shane Greene, Mark Melancon and Chris Martin like the Braves did, or Sam Dyson and Sergio Romo like the Twins did, or Hunter Strickland, Roenis Elías and Daniel Hudson like the Nationals did. And that might be because they believe their own minor leaguers, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin, are better than all of them.

On this day in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1959 In the second All-Star Game played this summer, Yogi Berra’s two-run home run off Dodgers right-hander Don Drysdale in the third inning at the LA Memorial Coliseum proves to be the difference in the American League’s 5-3 victory over the Senior Circuit. The home run will be the last one hit by a Bronx Bomber in a Mid-Summer Classic game for 41 years until Derek Jeter goes deep in 2001.
  • 1995 Making his first start for the Rockies since being acquired from the Mets, Brett Saberhagen gives up 13 hits and walks three batters, but gets the win in the team’s 9-4 win over the Dodgers. The sellout crowd gives their new hurler an enthusiastic standing ovation when he departs the game with one out in the seventh inning.
  • 1997 Jeromy Burnitz, coming off the bench in the Brewers’ 6-5 loss to Seattle at County Stadium, homers as a pinch hitter for the second consecutive time, tying an American League record. The major league mark for consecutive pinch-hit appearances with a home run is three, shared by Lee Lacy (Dodgers – May 2, 6, and 17, 1978) and Del Unser (Phillies – June 30, July 5 and 10, 1979).
  • 2013 The first-place Dodgers set a franchise record, winning their 13th consecutive game on the road with their 3-0 victory over the Cubs in Chicago. The Giants established the National League mark in 1916 when the team won 17 straight games away from the Polo Grounds.

Lineup when available.

Little bit of shuffling here. Cody to 1B, Joc to RF, Alex to CF. Pollack’s groin must still be tight.

Jun 07

Game 64, 2019

Dodgers at Giants, 7:15 PM PDT, TV: NBC Bay Area, SPNLA

LHP Clayton Kershaw (5-0, 3.20 ERA) goes to the mound for the Dodgers against the Giants’ LHP Drew Pomeranz (1-6, 8.08 ERA). Kershaw has gone at least six innings in each of his nine starts this season and the Dodgers have won all nine. He’s 22-10 in his career against the Giants with a 1.70 ERA. Pomeranz is having the worst season of his nine-year career; he’s given up 35 earned runs in 39 innings. He faced the Dodgers twice in April and got a no-decision and a loss.

MLB’s Richard Justice has a column titled “7 trades that make perfect sense,” and one of them is:

6. Brad Hand to the Dodgers

You’re probably looking at the Dodgers and thinking, “Do they really need anything?” Sure, they do. Every team needs something, and around the Trade Deadline, an impact acquisition can energize the clubhouse. Hand is about as close to unhittable as any reliever in the game (1.05 ERA), and would combine with Kenley Jansen to make the Dodgers’ bullpen the NL’s best. Along with Bauer, a shrewd Hand trade can really help the Indians rebuild their system.

Potential trade pieces: This one won’t be simple. Yes, the Dodgers have a deep system. Yes, Hand potentially is signed through 2021 at a reasonable rate. But Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman is extremely protective of his best young prospects. Outfielders DJ Peters (L.A.’s No. 10 prospect) and Jeren Kendall (No. 15) would make some sense. So would any of three Dodgers catching prospects, possibly Diego Cartaya (No. 9).

I gotta say, I like anything that shores up the bullpen, which currently has a 4.63 ERA, 11th in the National League. Their strikeout rate ranks 14th.

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1954 Dodger catcher Roy Campanella steals home in the top of the 12th inning in a 7-5 victory over St. Louis at Sportsman’s Park. Campy had added an insurance run with an eighth inning round-tripper, but the Redbirds scored three times in the bottom of the ninth to tie the score.
  • 1957 Howard University awards honorary degrees of Doctor of Laws to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and recently retired Dodgers infielder Jackie Robinson. In the coming years, the former baseball great and the Baptist minister will often appear together at Civil Rights rallies, fundraising events, and demonstrations.

    Jackie Robinson and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

  • 1982 Joining Lou Gehrig, Everett Scott, Billy Williams, and Joe Sewell, Dodger infielder Steve Garvey becomes only the fifth player in major league history to play in 1,000 consecutive games. The first baseman, establishing a National League record, will appear in 1207 consecutive games, before the streak ends next season when he breaks his thumb in a collision at home plate, playing for the Padres.

Lineup when available.


Jan 08

Hot stove stagnating?

Jacob Rudner of Sports Illustrated says

Andrew Friedman needs to rethink his strategy. Instead of being reluctant and hoping the roster pans out for another year, there has to be some benefit in going and making the changes you need to make to get the roster to the promise land. After two years of reserved salary acquisition, the Dodgers roster is cheap enough that the team should be going all out for a trophy.

Michael Wittman of SI says

Yasmani Grandal on the other hand, is the best catcher left on the market.

While passed balls became an issue behind the plate towards the end of the season, Grandal is still a better backstop than 95% of the catchers in the league and he could be primed for a nice bounce back season in 2019, especially if the Dodgers get him back on a one year deal. Then he would help bridge the gap to Keibert Ruiz in 2020, while re-establishing his own market before hitting free agency again at the end of next season.

Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times is equally impatient

Because of their relative frugality last year, the Dodgers will be penalized as first-time offenders if their payroll for next season exceeds the luxury-tax threshold. And because they traded Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to the Cincinnati Reds, they can take on another outfielder.

So where’s Bryce Harper?

Hernandez argues that the fans expect and deserve better than this sudden apparent unwillingness to spend on payroll given the higher ticket prices and inability to watch Dodgers’ games on television, among other things.

Nov 08

Management turnover

Roberts extended.

“Nothing’s changed,” president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said at the GM Meetings here at the Omni La Costa Resort. “We remain extremely optimistic. We have just set it off to the side a little bit as we work through all of our coaches and the vacancies we have there. Nothing has changed from our vantage point.”

In addition to hitting coach Turner Ward and third base coach Chris Woodward, the Dodgers are also losing Danny Lehmann, their game planning and communications coach who was in uniform for games. And general manager Farhan Zaidi, who was introduced Wednesday afternoon as the San Francisco Giants’ new decision maker.

Friedman says the team’s only urgent need is catcher, presuming Grandal doesn’t accept the qualifying offer the Dodgers extended to him. Of the two players to whom those offers were made, Ryu is considered by observers to be more likely to agree.

This assessment of Grandal from Friedman is probably the same most Dodgers fans have:

“I would prefer a more even, level distribution,” Friedman said this week. “But I would also prefer how it has played out to most catchers in the big leagues. So.”

Former exec Jim Bowden speculates on who the Marlins’ Realmuto might be traded to and what he might bring in return. He thinks the Dodgers would have to give up Alex Verdugo and AA pitcher Dustin May. Incidentally, there’s a chart of MLB catchers sorted by WAR in that article: Realmuto’s 4.8 is the highest, but second is Grandal at 3.6.

Dec 04

Winter Meetings begin

And what will the Dodgers do? Here’s one thought from the LA Daily News:

… the Dodgers’ focus this winter seems less about making significant additions to the roster and more about maintaining what they have already built — an uncommonly deep roster with flexibility and a more manageable payroll.

“Yeah, that’s a really, really good team,” Friedman said of a 2017 roster with the same elements intact that produced 91 wins in 2016 and fell two games short of reaching the World Series.

That group would return with the prospects of improved health, Friedman points out – how could it not be better than last year’s? — and added maturity for the young players who made such critical contributions.

But there is a strain of wistfulness in Friedman’s comments. He is aware just how unlikely it is that the Dodgers will be able to put last year’s band back together.

The word is that they’ve reached a deal with Rich Hill for three years and $40 million, so that’s one part of the puzzle, although not the most important one, at least as far as blogger Howard Cole is concerned. To him Justin Turner’s resigning is Job One.

I guess we’ll see what Friedman and Company do.

Oct 17

Words from the new boss

From today’s press conference featuring new President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman:

“It’s going to be a good life lesson for me, because I’m not patient.”

That was in response to a rather insular question about his introduction to LA traffic, but it could be (the fans hope) a philosophy he’ll take toward addressing the team’s needs in getting them back to the World Series sooner rather than later.

Jon covered the show, and if you click the link above you’ll find more nuggets of wisdom from the new man.

I’ll leave this post at the top for a while, at least until the Series starts on Tuesday.