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One Last Therapy Session for 2016

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‘Tis the eve before Christmas eve so why not talk a little Dodgers? It’s been an important yet overall uneventful off-season for the guys who wear Dodger blue. Important because someone high up the food chain, likely Mark Walter again, told the dueling dummies of Friedman and Zaidi and their gaggle of geniuses they better keep Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner or not only would the club not have a real shot vs. a closer-added Giants team, but worse, the fans might not show up for the higher ticket, parking and concessions prices. While all thoughts are of a magical 2018, Guggenheim still wants to squeeze every cent out of hopeful/delusional Dodgers fans. That $8B ($6B in profit after paying the blue blood con man) TV deal is hardly enough for rich capitalists. So, after risking losing both Kenley and the ginger haired ewok to other teams, Friedman and Zaidi “came to their senses” and signed the pair for market value – i.e. what they should have and could have paid in Oct. Interesting how baseball works.

With the important out of the way, we are back to hearing how the Dodgers are “in” on every big name, without anything to show for it. After July’s dance around Chris Sale and Ryan Braun, now the music has changed to Brian Dozier, who also is getting his tires kicked by the Giants. While Dozier would be a huge offensive shot in the arm and help answer the void Friedman and Zaidi created vs. left-handed pitching, I’m not a huge fan. That said, if the Giants add him plus their new closer, it’s curtains for LA, unless they switch course and land Ian Kinsler.

Dozier, who I had on fantasy, dropped when he was struggling below .200 for a long period of time and then grabbed when I spied he was coming out of his long funk, is definitely a guy you’d be “buying high” on. Is he the offensive beast we saw in the second half, or the guy who takes months off? I say he’s the ideal Friedman and Zaidi feast or famine hitter. He’d help a lot, but is he the best fit? I don’t think so. Better fits were Dee Gordon and Jose Peraza, or César Hernández of the Phillies. I’m of the antiquated opinion a speedy lead-off guy would help more than another swing for the fences type. Of course, I’d also add a legit outfield bat to help fulfill that dearth of production from the right side of the plate, be it Braun (who is crucified for Dodgers fans for cheating the year our guy likely was cheating) or some other run producing bat.

Ian Kinsler would be a much bigger asset, in my opinion, to Dozier, but he comes with his own set of concerns. While a pure hitter in the sense of Corey Seager and Adrian Gonzalez, turner is 34 and would probably insist on a contract extension, considering his deal ends after 2017 (with an option for 2018) and the blue are on his no-trade list. I guess it depends how much Friedman and Zaidi want to “win now” and how much they believe in Willie Calhoun. For the record, I don’t think Friedman and Zaidi care about winning now – they firmly are planning for all their prospects to become stars. The “win now” thing is coming from the top, and like I said, only then to keep the stadium full. One more for the record, not to say Calhoun won’t be great someday, but right now he’s a kid who hit. 254 at AA, so not quite ready for serious conversations, not to mention a left-handed bat.

I’d say finding two bats from the right side should be a big priority that shouldn’t wait until spring training, but knowing the way the Moneyballers operate, we might not see anything substantial until then. I’d say if you could get that César Hernández type and add a solid bat to replace Yasiel Puig in the outfield, the offense is in a good place. If they add Dozier, I’d still look for a bat for the outfield, as Dozier is fully capable of disappearing for weeks, months, at a time.

You should think how a lineup is perceived by an opposing team. The more “scary” guys you have, the harder it is for them to plan against. i.e. Kinsler a lot better and scarier than Dozier, unless Dozier is in a hot streak. Kinsler will keep teams honest. If you have Seager, Turner and Adrian and then add Kinsler, that’s four bats capable of getting a hit most of the time. Braun, like him or not, is the same way. In my experience, the more “scary” guys you add, the better your chances are, and the harder it is for opposing teams to pitch to. If you have a lot of .240 (or below) types with 100+ strikeouts, much easier.

Beyond that, I’d say the Dodgers need a real #2 starting pitcher but I guess that can wait until July. Rich Hill, they believe, is that #2, but like Scott Kazmir, a guy who was pitching in independent baseball not long ago and you end up there for a reason. Hill is not a #2. On his best day, he adds a smart arm that deepens your staff, but in no reality is he capable of stepping up in a big way when the World Series is on the line. I wouldn’t consider him an anchor anyway, some might disagree. To them, I’d say go check his career and his track record of injuries.

So, the rotation is what it is and likely is hopeful on magic and prayer, just like last year. Perhaps in July, when fighting for the West lead, or more likely the NL wildcard, a team will have dropped out and Friedman and Zaidi can trade off some of the prospects they cling to like gold. Prepare for a lot of mix and match like 2016 in the meantime – fun!

That leaves the pen, which obviously is much better with Kenley being back. That said, last year it was overworked due to the 3-5 inning starts regularly out of an ill-prepared pitching rotation. I don’t see it being any different in 2017, even if they retain Joe Blanton. And I would look to keep Blanton, and add another setup man. Friedman and Zaidi must have noticed the game has changed and while they assume starting pitching doesn’t matter, you’d assume they’d realize a killer pen does. It was evident in Oct. The Dodgers are innings short in the rotation and one deep at the back end of the pen. You need to be 3-4 deep, so thinking Pedro Báez and the other meatheads Friedman and Zaidi have accumulated meet that criteria, would be plain dumb.

The idea is to shorten games, and the Dodgers current crop of relievers are interchangeable mid innings types. I don’t see that “scary” factor that is also required in your rotation and bullpen, as well as your lineup. I doubt Bruce Bochy, Joe Maddon and other managers panic when they see anyone beside Kenley throwing in the Dodgers pen. Ideally, especially when your payroll is over $250M, you have quality and “scary” out there. So, again in my most humble opinion, the Dodgers should think of that. Back end of the pen needs to be deeper, the current mix isn’t going to cut it.

I guess I will leave you there. I hope we don’t see 2016 redux next season. If any Dodger fan is thrilled just because Kenley and Turner are back, remember, this team wasn’t good enough to win, and I’d say lucky as hell to have gotten as far as they did. The idea, if you look around baseball during this Hot Stove season, is to improve. The Dodgers have not improved. The rotation is still spotty, the lineup can’t hit left-handers, the pen is one deep, etc. There is work to be done if the Dodgers want to move forward. The Giants, again, have moved forward. The good teams are acquiring pieces to set them up for deep runs. The Dodgers have been smart to keep two key pieces, but are no better now than they were on October 22nd. That’s the night they lost game 6 in Chicago, if you weren’t sure.

Plenty of time to fix the issues that need to be fixed, so I’m just a voice of reason. What is the goal for 2017? Filling the parking lot and stadium or getting back to the NLCS, and go further? We shall see, we shall see.

Have a very Merry Christmas; Happy Hanukkah; lovely Kwanzaa and safe and sane (haha, good luck!) New Year. 29 years and counting.

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  1. Snider Fan
    December 23, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    Well said. I’m glad they resigned Jansen and Turner but believe they will come to regret the Hill deal. He pitched 110 innings last year for the second time in his career, and that is not a #2 starter’s workload however you try to spin it. Looking back, the three prospects we gave up for rentals plus De Leon might have landed a real #2 like Chris Sale or Quintana. Sigh.

    I’m not familiar with Dozier, but I see some red flags in his stats, like an average with RISP last year below .200. I think the Dodgers might just be trying to out-wait the Twins, who seem to be asking a lot. Do you think Joe Panik would be enough to bring Dozier to SF? I like Kinsler enough to pick up the option year, but if he doesn’t want to be a Dodger, so be it.

    I’ve said before my beef with Braun is not so much that he cheated but that he tried to put the blame on someone else who almost lost his job. People who are down on Braun but cheer for Eric Gagne, however, leave me wondering. What was attractive about that deal is that Milwaukee might take two players who have worn out their welcome in LA to offset Braun’s salary for two years. Of course, we’d have to throw in prospects. Maybe better to keep looking, and the deal will probably still be there in July.

    When you’re a playoff team, not getting worse should be job one for the offseason. So far, so good–just hope they’re not done. Happy Festivus.

    • Freudy
      December 23, 2016 at 9:18 pm

      Kinsler would likely want more than his option picked up as he’d be 35-36 and a multi year deal after this one expires is unlikely. To me 2018 option is a no-brainer, he’s worth it. It depends if he’d take one more year after that (still on board) or want a longer term deal. I’d back off at that point.

      I have no problem moving prospects and think in general you should have an idea of which are unthinkable to trade, such as Seager. Whatever ones are your can’t-move guys, the rest should be looked at as currency to acquire parts you need. Clearly they viewed the kids sent to Oakland that way, but like you, I question moving them for Rich Hill, a free-agent to be, and an ineffective Reddick, also a walk free-agent. These Moneyballers make you scratch your head. Can’t deal for Cole Hamels or Sale, but Hill, sure! Dummies.

      Honestly, I just throw out Braun’s name from time to time because he likely is available and we were connected to him – in theory – at the July trading deadline. I don’t love the guy but immediately, if added, he becomes one of the top hitters in the lineup. He or someone like that (McCutcheon, whoever) should be looked at.

      Unless the belief is every kid becomes as good as Seager (unlikely). It will be curious when Bellinger is ready (I like him a lot), what do you do with Adrian? Oh, good problems to have. Meantime, let’s see some more dealing and some signings such as those Marlins made for backend of the pen help. Could use it.

      Festivus, indeed!

  2. Snider Fan
    December 24, 2016 at 2:54 am

    I think Bellinger might begin his career in the outfield. I am surprised at the number of fans who want to rush Calhoun to the bigs based on .254 average and .318 OBP at AA. Your idea on Cesar Hernandez is intriguing–no power, but he gets on base and hits lefties well, besides being cheap. Maybe they could use the savings on a guy like J.D. Martinez.

  3. badger3
    December 28, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    Had they committed to a rebuild when they got here where would we be? Had we traded for Miller one year and Hamels the next, would we not be at 29 and counting? Who knows. But at this point I’m not for marking time attempting to fill seats and bilk fans while continuing to get older. I can’t help it, I find what they’re doing rather boring. Yes, getting Jansen and Turner back is a good thing, but we didn’t win it with them last year, now they’re older, fatter ($) and we can likely not win it again next year with them. Hill? Give me a break. Make a splash or get out the pool. Or has my contractor buddy used to say – Fu*@, fight or hold the light.

    • Freudy
      December 28, 2016 at 2:32 pm

      I think they’re doing a passive aggressive rebuild – to get to a point where the majority of the team is home grown, a la Royals of recent years and Cubs. They feel this is the way to build not only a winner, but a dynasty. White Sox are copying that formula now.

      The Dodgers are trying to do this while fielding a fan friendly team so the gate doesn’t lag. Not sure you can really do both things at once. And since you have approaching 30 years of no championship, you have to wonder if this is the best approach – especially when you jettison guys like Greinke and pass on proven starters along the way.

      To me, I’d rather pay $20-30M annually for a top starter than $12-16M for a bad or injured one. I don’t see it as a savings taking repeated gambles and leaving yourself to pitch and ditch, which isn’t a great approach in fantasy baseball, let alone real.

      They are also banking heavily on every prospect hitting, which never happens. Top prospects fail more often than not. A really good prospect might be your middle relief guy or bench player. Some never make it – Brett Wallace I noticed the other day signed somewhere. He was supposed to be a star. I recall guys like Roger Cedeno, Jose Gonzalez, Angel Pena, Billy Ashley, so many other Dodgers who were touted and didn’t do much (Cedeno did ok after leaving LA).

      I love the kids and always pull for them, but to me a winning team is a mix of kids, veterans, stars. You can’t bank on just one of those and expect a winner. I think the Dodgers front office is smart in the sense they don’t want to gut the farm for immediate gratification, but there’s a line between smart and ridiculous. I’d pick the prospects I truly believed were future stars – like Seager – and consider what I could get for others.

      I’d also say if the plan is truly to go young and cheap (let’s face it, Guggenheim ultimately is in this for the money only), deal Kershaw, Gonzalez, etc. They could load up on kids and truly rebuild. But clearly that isn’t the plan since they are keeping Turner and Kenley.

      I think the future could be brighter with some of the talented kids coming, but I’d feel better if we had different front office management. I don’t like the brand of baseball being put together. Hopefully they only get another year or two and if they aren’t in the Series, they’ll be out. That would be 4-5 years of this, which is more than enough for 100 geniuses all stepping on one another’s toes in the executive suite.

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