2014 Has Been Frustrating Enough. Don’t Deal Our Best Kids Too
This has been a very frustrating season for me as a longtime Dodgers fan. The folks who go to the games, drink too much, roll Giants fans, curse loudly and somehow think Vin Scully might want to get a tat, put in gauges and listen to disposable pop music with them in the parking lot after games would probably disagree. The Dodgers are in first, with one of the top records in the game, how can that be frustrating? Well, it is.
The season began with the promise of a new TV channel that would offer not only every game, but constant programming and all the spring training games too. I’m still waiting for that. As a longtime fan, and not a mere kiddie, I have listened to Vin all these years and now can get him for 3 innings on the radio, or on an illegal link with constantly stop motion visuals that make it annoying to watch.
On the field, the team just isn’t fundamentally sound and the genius architect, Stan Kasten, doesn’t make many appearances – he’s like the queen or something. He is slow to adjust to reality, has let mediocre relievers and other struggles go unanswered and by sheer luck and a $235M payroll, the team is winning. That and the overall mediocrity of this “post steroids” era. So an imbecile would cheer wildly for this mess, I wouldn’t.
As I said in previous articles, the pieces are all pretty much on hand but just aren’t assembled smartly. There are defenders being left in various levels of the minors, a stellar top prospect blocked and ignored in AAA, and yet the shitty relievers remain. Now the trade deadline looms its ugly shadow and the talking heads and baseball writers who like press box buffets pontificate about all the scenarios that might cause the Dodgers to gut their farm and go all in for 2014. I guess on one hand they could, as someone has to win this league of parity, but of all the Dodgers teams I’ve witnessed, this clunky Frankenstein’d together unit is more like the post 1988 patchwork clubs of mercenaries than the storied teams of old.
The Dodgers history is of winning with amazing pitching, defense, timely hitting and fundamentals. We have the first, not the other three. So if by some stroke of luck this team wins the World Series, I won’t feel especially satisfied. Again, how could I? The games aren’t even available on most televisions in the city. The shitty schedule early on with a shortened spring training, injuries because of that, no games to watch, and Kasten’s spring/summer slumber has left me thoroughly disgusted. And now all this talk of dealing the future for the present. THIS present?!
But, I’ll play along. I have to, there’s nothing better to do until the Pittsburgh Steelers and UCLA Bruins start playing football. Let me quickly sum up the three crown jewels in the Dodgers farm system and why I feel each shouldn’t be dealt. Or, if I would. Fun? Here we go…
Joc is major league ready and likely would make a positive impact immediately. He is the best defensive centerfielder in the organization and since the big club has to play Yasiel Puig out of position in attempt to cover the spot, it would seem a natural you’d want arguably your #1 prospect called up. But – with a logjam of expensive outfielders, how can they call Joc up? They could trade him, get that big pitcher they don’t need but covet, but what happens next year, the year after, when you still have these mostly unmotivated 1%’rs in the outfield and really no pure centerfielder?
I don’t know if Joc will be a star. And I completely understand that his minor league numbers this season are enhanced by playing games in the PCL, but that’s a fool’s argument. Joc has done some variation of this at every level and his AAA numbers are not an anomaly. Besides, does thin air help you field better or steal bases? Joc does both well, and the Dodgers would benefit from those attributes. The argument of Joc’s numbers is also ludicrous because it’s to say it would be better if prospects did poorly – that way we’d know their environment wasn’t artificially inflated their stats. The only problem with that is if Joc went to Albuquerque and hit .240 with 6 homers and 8 steals would anyone suggest he might be the centerfield answer?
I think Joc is an intriguing player and since Kasten made it his mission to revitalize the farm, it seems moronic to consider dealing three pieces like these uber prospects. Love him, want to bone him, watch him smile, whatever, Matt Kemp is a malcontent on this team and probably needs a change of scenery. He, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford were all very good outfielders at one time, but aren’t anymore. Kemp is making a late push, perhaps to impress his next team, but his production doesn’t merit that salary and neither do Ethier’s or Crawford’s. Puig is the only one performing up to his contract, and poor Scott Van Slyke is being grossly underpaid for his contribution and potential (if Kasten managed to get him out there more than once a week).
I think it would be foolish to say, well, we have too many outfielders, so Joc isn’t going to crack this millionaire’s club – time to deal him. As the three other guys age rapidly and continue their decline, Joc will be at worst a very solid defender with power and speed upside someplace else. And most importantly, his youth and athleticism would be missed, not to mention the need to turn the tide where every player on the Dodgers makes tons of money. Wouldn’t it be nice to mix in a “cheap” player who is hungry and playing for that payday?
Of all the prospects in the Dodgers organization, Seager is the one I think has superstar written all over him. He’s been too good from high school on and just keeps impressing. There is NO WAY I’d deal Seager, unless perhaps the Angels handed over Mike Trout, but then Kasten wouldn’t find a place to play him since he has to play his current millionaires.
Seager is needed and coming fast. He’s at AA and will be in the major league mix in 2015 – first a showcase in spring training, then at least a call up later in the season. Both short and third aren’t set long-term for the Dodgers, so with Hanley’s deal ending this winter and Uribe signed for just one more season, it would be a hugely boneheaded move to trade the best pure hitter the Dodgers have developed since Mike Piazza or Paul Konerko.
The future is near and Seager, still playing shortstop at AA, can move into Hanley’s spot soon or take over for Uribe when he’s done. Either way, I would not entertain dealing Seager. No chance. No way.
On the surface, of the three prospects, Urias is the one I’d consider dealing most. My reasons are that you can always buy a pitcher (Greinke, Ryu) and he’s so young, very easily he can be injured before he’s even ready to pitch. My basic philosophy is if you could get a very good big league pitcher for a pitching prospect, do it. David Price is so good that Urias, even if he lives up to the hype, may never reach anywhere close to that level of greatness. On the other hand, Urias is crazy poised and a beast that resembles the second coming of Fernandomania. Whether he’s Pedro Martinez II or Fernando, or even Kershaw, it seems that his young age doesn’t mean a long stay in the minors, as it would for most. Logan White says he can see Urias in the bigs by 18, so who am I to question the great Logan White? Urias might be the best young pitcher the Dodgers have developed since Kershaw, so be careful. Price in the Dodgers rotation, then re-signed for a monster deal, would make the current team better for sure but is this, or one of the other big name pitchers being discussed in rumors, necessary?
In a playoff series, it’s unlikely you’d need more than 3 top flight starting pitchers, which the Dodgers have currently. Is it really vital to move Urias, and/or the other two names, to upgrade in game 3 from Price or Hamel over Ryu? To me it seems a steep price to pay for a small improvement. For decades fans criticized Fred Claire for dealing Pedro to get a much needed leadoff hitter and second baseman in Delino DeShields. I think it could also be looked at in such the same way if Urias matches the expectations scouts have for him. And god forbid Urias were dealt for Jon Lester, and then Lester left in Oct and re-signed with Boston.
Anyway, that’s it. This season has had me reaching for the Alka Seltzer. I am not as impressed as some with the record since I see a team where outside of the starting pitchers, has mostly underachieved. It would be apropos for a long-suffering Dodgers fan that after more than a quarter of a century the team won a World Series with a jumbled collection of slackers and showboats. It’s easy to say this since I haven’t felt close to this team at all – and that’s due to the Guggenheim Group getting into bed with snakes like Time Warner Cable, who has stuck it to the fans and squandered the end of Vin Scully’s magnificent career. Three innings on radio? That’s weak. From the suits in the front office to Kasten, the manager and the players, there has been a lot of combined laziness and profiting going on, but in the end, actual baseball fans just want a good product to watch. A diversion from the day to day grind. To turn on the radio or TV and hear and see Vin call 9 innings of Dodgers baseball is the greatest thing in the world. This season has not included that.
And don’t fucking trade our future on this either.