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It’s July and Time for Dodger Fan Déjà Vu

July 9, 2018 Leave a comment

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Hello, all – I hope your summer is going well and if you live in Los Angeles and happened to just experience the heat wave that hit us Friday, I hope you’re alive. Palm Springs weather – fun times!

 

I thought I would write a short long-form piece as I haven’t in a while and with the mid-season point upon us, trade winds blowing, etc., I felt it might be fun to pontificate. As always, I understand my viewpoints are too sensible for many of you, so by no means think I feel you need to align yourself with me. If you prefer to feel all is well because you lack perspective (e.g. you are young and don’t know better) or brainwashed by fantasy baseball and Sabermetrics gurus, by all means, get thrilled over nothing. Life is full of disappointments; the Dodgers have been a constant for three decades now.

 

I have been getting dribs and drabs on local sports talk radio, the bloggers, the non-controversial beat writers who don’t want to lose their clubhouse access that the Dodgers are back in it! Awesome! They’re a top team! Easily a World Series contender! Name the headline.

 

It’s hard on Twitter to summarize thoughts in the limited about of space, especially to passersby who don’t have a frame of reference and context. To some of you, wisely you get it. In a nutshell, I have been a Dodgers fan all my life and somewhere around the time the ball club was sold to Fox, I started to formulate my current crusty exterior.

 

I witnessed a wealthy entertainment company come in and buy my beloved team to create a local sports network. Oh sure, while their intentions were selfish, they did open up payroll, which at certain times could have helped you and I, the suckers who just root for our team as a pleasant diversion from everyday life. The problem there was Kevin Malone was hired because he was a rising name in baseball circles and told Fox what they wanted to hear – that he could simultaneously rebuild a farm that Peter O’Malley let fall apart AND at the same time buy a winner in one off-season. No respectable individual would claim they could do one or the other immediately, let alone both at the same time. Kevin Malone, as some of you might recall, was an insecure guy who called himself “The Sheriff” and wanted to make his mark. He was Donald Trump before Donald Trump’s political interests, or Andrew Friedman when Andrew Friedman was in college not getting laid.

 

Malone’s gaffs caused Fox to close the vault and even though Dan Evans (you’d like him, kids – he was all about data before it was cool!) replaced Malone, they had a strong enough foothold on their sports network empire not to trust baseball executives with any more of their money. That led to Frank McCourt.

 

Like Fox, McCourt bought the team – well, that’s not correct… McCourt was given the team by that era’s shady commissioner, Bud Selig. MLB and Fox were in bed financially so when Fox wanted out of baseball ownership, Bud did whatever they wanted to make that happen. McCourt was handed the team without any serious wherewithal and Fox co-signed to make it happen. McCourt’s interests were as selfish as Fox’s. He wanted fame, wealth and a lavish lifestyle. It was a low-risk investment and he exploited the fans’ loyalty as he got daily haircuts, many mansions, and eventually was forced to sale after stadium visitors got beaten into comas, checks to Vin Scully bounced and people finally boycotted the games.

 

The Dodgers were back on the market and the third molesting uncle came along – a wealthy investment firm that used a Trojan horse in the guise of friendly, smiling Magic Johnson to again sucker fans into thinking better days were ahead. You can read my brilliance in archived columns here, explaining what was happening each step of the way. It wasn’t like I was a genius but I created Dodger Therapy as a place for all of us long abused fans to talk it out. The problem, most people are either unaware, stupid or easily conned. At the time, there was no Donald Trump to compare this to, but as we are all aware, nowadays there’s a great divide and for various reasons, one side is perfectly sure that the idiocy and lies make perfect sense in some way.

 

Magic knew about as much about baseball as your grandmother did, and that’s an insult actually to your grandmother. He was used for his smile, his connection to the city and to make a large investment firm buying a baseball team seem somehow plausible. It has since come out (I told you years ago, again, go back through all the old columns for yourself) that the Guggenheim group apparently used money from investors inappropriately and are under investigation for it. Their motive, of course, was to make a shitload of money off the Dodgers pending TV deal and the fans stupidity.

 

They paid $1B (!!!) over asking to McCourt AND let him retain stadium parking lots because the idea of paying $2B total for an $8B TV deal seemed a tidy profit. McCourt put in almost nothing when he “bought” the Dodgers from Fox and ended up massively rich, so much so his ex-wife sued after noticing how her pasty, deadbeat husband (who she left financially for dead) slither his way into a fiscal windfall due to everyone using the Dodgers as a pyramid scheme.

 

My point has always been to call out what is wrong, where injustice is happening, where hypocrisy is occurring and what could be done about it. I know I am not a voice anyone really listens to, not rosy enough, not full of shit enough. My take sounds bad because, well, after 30 years of mediocrity, it is. That is a long time. 30 years. More than many fans’ entire lifetimes. Of course, then some old crackpot saying “Andrew Friedman sucks!” or “Guggenheim is screwing you!” does not resonate. How could it? Maybe if I offered a bag of weed or a vape device with each Twitter post, I’d get more interest? Note to self…

 

Over recent years, I have grown tired of battling with idiots online. I do not mind if you have a different opinion than I do, but at least make a credible defense of your point of view. Sadly, I have wasted far too many years observing this downward trend so when some fresh voice pops out of the woodwork, it’s easy to defend myself against such ill-informed ideas. Follow the team for half a century, then come back to me.

 

Each year that has passed recently the fans get their hopes up based on what they feel a baseball team should do, so therefore the Dodgers should too. I agree with that, but unfortunately, what many do not get is quite intentionally Guggenheim hired Andrew Friedman and his band of small-market dipshits due to their ability to look for ringers when given limited resources. I cannot fully explain how it is Guggenheim wants to cost cut while entrusting their boy to overspend on bullshit, but that’s the interesting thing here. More interesting is how no matter what Friedman peddles, fans eat it up. If he does nothing, or almost nothing, at the trade deadline – he’s heralded for his genius! If he sits out the winter while every other team improves, he’s brilliant! If he overspends on marginal players or those who never will play a game at Dodger Stadium, he’s crafty! No, I’m here to make it known that he’s just an idiot and has no clue what he’s doing. It may have worked in Tampa, since the stage was much smaller, but it isn’t working here.

 

Today I flipped on local LA radio briefly to catch Vic the Brick and Fred Roggin blathering about how the Dodgers need to trade prospects for Orioles star Manny Machado and Zach Britton. They reasoned, prospects are well, just that, prospective, and these guys are stars. I can’t argue with that logic, and I have made similar statements hundreds of times myself. The flaws to their comments, and those in all the blogs and mainstream newspaper pieces I read is a) they’re assuming the Dodgers actually want to go all-in, and b) that these moves would do it, put them on par with the best teams in baseball, most of which are powerhouses in the AL. Let me explain.

 

Again, this is mostly to summarize for those who may not know much about me and my ideas. While it’s traditional to say – “Hey, the trade deadline is coming up, the Dodgers should get (this star, that star)…” – you’re not being honest with yourself. You’re considering the Dodgers a well-run, large market baseball team. They are not. They haven’t been since Andrew Friedman came into town. You are assuming also the Dodgers want to win, really win. No, Guggenheim is happy just getting butts in the seats and selling beer, food, merch and parking access. At this point, Guggenheim is more concerned with investigations than the product on the field. After all, they got their TV riches (most of you don’t get the games on TV though).

 

If the Dodgers were all in, last year was when they should have been there. Last season they had a team that ran away with the West and had options available to cement a championship available. Instead, they waited to the last few minutes before the trade deadline to get the Texas Rangers executives to blink and ended up with Yu Darvish as their savior, as well as a couple marginal/bad relief pitchers. Fans were ecstatic! Of course, I had Darvish on one of my fantasy teams and understood how poor he had been most of the season. The Dodgers could have added Justin Verlander instead, but that would have meant paying him in 2018, so they let Houston acquire him. That one non-move cost the Dodgers the 2017 World Series as well as to perpetuate the constant revolving door in the Dodgers rotation this season. If you think it isn’t fair to criticize the Dodgers for what they did or didn’t do vs. what Houston did – do some research on relative market size between LA and Houston, the time between World Series appearances, etc. My point is, a little team like Houston took last year seriously, a big team like the Dodgers did not.

 

We then went through a winter where Houston added another ace and pretty much every other team worked to shore up needs. The Dodgers did nothing all off-season and fans of course lauded them as geniuses! “You just want to waste money!” the sycophants would argue. “What about trades?” I might counter. “You want to give up our future!” You cannot argue with people anymore, they resort to bullying and if they falter, their pack will take up their fight. As a lifetime fan, I just want a team that more or less resembles a team I followed my whole life, or even a very good team that looks slightly different. Your “patriotism” is immediately questioned. You can’t be a Dodger fan and say something bad about Andrew Friedman, and you can’t be an American and say something bad about Agent Orange. Both are supreme rulers; we must bow before their greatness and kiss their feet. Our own self-interests are secondary, third, fourth, to what makes them look good.

 

So now, fans, like this time last year, are waiting for the big deals to occur. One of two things will happen – a) no deals will occur, or very minor ones to appease the rabble and the team will fall sort but say “We tried! We were in on all those stars!” or b) they learned from inaction last July and will deal for some star power. Of course, if b were really much of an option, why didn’t they learn during the hot stove league? They assumed their oft-injured pitchers and inexperienced kids were enough?

 

Let’s just consider now Manny Machado and Zach Britton, since their names were brought up today. Could the Dodgers be working on a deal for both? Sure. The Orioles would love to get rid of them and get something for their rebuild, but would a team probably not looking to keep Machado beyond this year deal anything of serious worth for him? I can see if the Yankees did, or Boston, or Chicago, as they would consider resigning him, but the Dodgers? While the Dodgers could afford the price Machado would want, and no doubt he’d be thrilled to be in a large market, would they run up the credit card immediately after paying it down? Would Machado go back to third with Corey Seager coming back? If so, what happens to Justin Turner? I guess you could go Turner at first, Machado at third and the ghost of Pepe Frias at second but until I see Andrew Friedman target a real star and sign him, I can’t believe it. Now if Machado was an untested Cuban kid, or an oft-injured journeyman starting pitcher, sure.

 

Everyone is up in arms because the Halos took two of three from the Dodgers in Anaheim this weekend. They immediately say “The Dodgers need Machado! They need offense!” Well, I’d say they just scored 30 runs recently in a series vs. Pittsburgh and have set homerun records, so perhaps not. I would say the Dodgers entire offensive approach is feast or famine and has been since Moneyball came into town. No one hits line drives, no one not named Justin Turner settles for a single when runners are in scoring position, no one steals a base, etc. It’s all about swinging hard, every time, and get that home run. It’s why a guy like Max Muncy came come out of nowhere and swings from the heels every at bat and sits near the break with 20 homers and 38 rbi (everyone wants him to be an all-star, btw, which is rather humorous to me). Is offense though the Dodgers biggest need?

 

So you have to believe the Dodgers would go all in now when they didn’t last year or this past winter and that they feel Machado makes the difference and can get them back to the World Series, or hopefully win it, when last year and this winter the prospects were too important to move. You also have to factor in that they’d be ok losing prospects for a rental, or spending a fortune to keep Machado. All of that is worth mulling over.

 

Then there’s Britton. Now in my opinion, and I heard it echoed last night during ESPN’s telecast, you need a rotation capable of logging innings, a bullpen, and a closer to win. They brought this up, as I have, in criticism of Moneyball’s patchwork approach to a game – where 9 pitchers are trotted out nightly, starters going anywhere from 3-5 innings, and no real setup man to speak of. Obviously, of many issues I have with Andrew Friedman and his philosophies, the fundamental ignoring of pitching as vital is first and foremost. So would a setup man for closer Kenley Jansen be helpful? Why of course! btw, Kenley being the only representative to the all-star game (as of now) for the Dodgers pitching staff should tell you all you need to know.

 

As for Britton, he was the best relief pitcher in baseball in 2016 but this is 2018. He isn’t good this year and while might be helpful if thrown into a Machado deal, is certainly no guarantee to give the Dodgers a lockdown bullpen. A sexy name, for sure, but the solution to Paul Goldschmidt? I don’t believe so.

 

We have a few weeks to see what will happen. Personally, I’d respect Andrew Friedman more if he did what the Yankees did a few years ago and traded players away for a short term rebuild. If he got some talent, then smartly went shopping – both in free-agency and trade and revamped the roster for 2019 and beyond. But this is like asking a chicken to give you milk. It would require Andrew Friedman to undergo a “Regarding Henry” experience and completely change his personality. He is happy tinkering, making ten moves when one or two would suffice, and taking the long way around and problem that presents itself. He’s the classic scenario of the man being too proud to ask for directions.

 

Could the Dodgers win if they dealt kids for Machado and Britton? Sure. They could win doing nothing. Wait, win? Win the World Series? I wouldn’t go that far. I think as it stands now they could win the West or make the wildcard but realistically, as Vic noted today, they are pretty thin if you look at their lineup vs. an AL power house lineup. Of course the little 1988 Dodgers teams beat the Bash Brothers, Eck, Dave Stewart and the rest. I just don’t see any reason to believe this team has magic, or at least anymore pixie dust as last year’s team. Maybe more desperate, but not more magic.

 

Personally I would say the best thing that could happen is Guggenheim is found guilty of fraud, is forced to sell, Andrew Friedman and his clowns are pushed out by a new owner and we start all over again. A new uncle to promise us a better life. Hey, it beats what we have now. Will that owner be kinder to us, consider our feelings and not use us to finance some scheme? Probably not, but then the world has become a pretty dark place, so to assume there are rainbows and unicorns anymore is probably not realistic. Unless of course you are a fan of a team that seems to try year in and year out, isn’t using algorithms to calculate bare minimums to acquire wins, etc. My suggestion is forget Machado, forget Britton, buy yourselves a Yankees, Red Sox or Astros hat. If you are adverse to that, try a Mariners, Cubs or Brewers hat. Less wear and tear on your psyche and your doctor will praise you for your reduced blood pressure.

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Good Enough to Be Good Enough

April 2, 2017 7 comments

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There are two sides to every story. Either the story being told by those either employed or indebted to the Dodgers propaganda machine as well as the notion “it’s their time” or the alternative.

I’ve witnessed the Dodgers’ front office fumble and bumble their way since coming into power, doing very little, or worse, making boneheaded gaffs. The results some cheer about, but to others, myself included, they are the same, no better, than the results from the past.

The Dodgers can’t help but being in the thick of things. They have Clayton Kershaw, after all, and had Zack Greinke and other arms. They have Kenley Jansen. They have Corey Seager. You add up the parts and no matter who is running the show on and off the field, the Dodgers assemblage of talent is enough to be at or near the top of their division. They have been finished first or second 10 times in the past fifteen years. They have won 0 championships during this time, and 0 championships in almost three decades.

I have tried to say, much to the dislike of many, that this is all well and good but the steps forward are not great. If being at or around the top of the National League West is the goal, things are going fine. I don’t see how the current front office or ownership should be given credit, however, as the end results are no greater than usual. You can even point to the win/loss record, which shows a nominal decline in victories the past three seasons.

Dodgers fans are rabid and that is a wonderful thing for the Guggenheim Group and current Dodgers front office. The team, in some ways, is in poor shape if you consider availability to the large marketplace. The only way to see Dodgers games is if you attend them – at great cost – or if you happen to be in a portion of the greater Los Angeles area who gets the new-ish TV channel. The historic organization’s games are not readily available to most of the populace.

In 2016, the Dodgers won the West and advanced to the NLCS vs. the Chicago Cubs, the team who ultimately won the World Series in a thrilling 7-game series vs. Cleveland. While the Dodgers record of futility neared three decades, it was nowhere near that of either the Cubs or Indians. Thus, the baseball gods determined it was destiny, and the Dodgers never had a chance.

Still, supporters of this front office and ownership group would argue, they “could have won”. Well, in some world I suppose they could have. Teams with little starting pitching and little relief pitching seldom win championships. The Dodgers, in my opinion, were very lucky in 2016. I would credit the front office for patching together an eyesore and getting a lot out of the pieces they had. It does not appear to me a sustainable plan, if winning championships is your end goal.

It was painful to watch Kershaw pretty much go it alone, and Jansen doing the same from the backend of the bullpen. The other starters were hurt or gassed and could barely muster three innings at a time. The bullpen, overworked all season due to the shortcomings of the starting five, did the best they could on heart and whatever talent they had. The better team won, as usually is the case.

Knowing how Moneyball general managers operate, I did not expect changes in the off-season. In fact, because their high school chemistry experiment “worked” – to some degree – it no doubt would validate their hypothesis that they were on the right track.

It was interesting how they and their disciples continued to point to the Cubs as a “similar” team, although the construction was not at all alike. Theo Epstein, who has Moneyball roots, after all has changed quite a bit since moving to the big stage, first in Boston, then in Chicago. With deep pockets backing him, Epstein loads his rosters full of great professionals, as well as farm bred talent. Pitching depth, position depth, stars, great role players… he does not leave things to chance. As a result, his Boston teams have won and now his Chicago team.

The winter shopping season is one the Dodgers front office usually ignores, as is the mid-season trade deadline. They seem to look at these peak times as pedestrian. “Anyone can shop during these times; we’ll show them.” They sit idly by while starting pitchers move from team to team, as well as proven relief pitchers. Speedsters are never a consideration since the only reason to have any speed at all on a Moneyball team is perhaps moving from first to third – interestingly, a skillset rarely to be found in Los Angeles baseball these days.

I was not surprised that the 2017 team went to spring training not altogether different from the 2016 team that ended the year, losing in Chicago. A few guys left, a few came in, but the same issues that cost the team in 2016 are still those weaknesses as the new season gets underway.

The writers and announcers who cover the team and want access to the clubhouse are painting a rosy picture that this looks to be a world beater. Many have said the Dodgers will not only be in this season’s Fall Classic, but win it. I can only assume this is because they feel they are due, not because of big acquisitions made, unless you count Logan Forsythe as the difference maker.

Personally, I don’t see it. I do see a Dodgers team that will be around the top, as they always are, but not necessarily in first place. Last season, part of the Dodgers luck was the complete lack of fortune for the San Francisco Giants, whose second half was dismal. The Giants bullpen was a disaster and they acquired a closer this winter to rectify that. Still, being held to a budget the Dodgers are not, they still have some problems in their pen, though they have more reliable innings in the rotation. At any rate, however that comparison pans out, it seems unlikely the Dodgers can count on the Giants taking half of the year off again.

With the Giants therefore improved and the natural development, possibly, of the rest of the West – most particularly Colorado – the Dodgers must be a bit better in 2017 than in 2016. With 81 games against the West, just by virtue of the Giants adding a closer and the Rockies talented offense and young pitchers developing a bit more, that should be more of a challenge.

In a perfect world, the Dodgers get health they did not get in 2016. As I pointed out, it’s unrealistic to hope that all the many (often desperate) moves the front office employed is a repeatable formula. So, Kershaw being Kershaw for six months and Rich Hill, an older player who has no track record to illustrate he is a regular rotation piece, much less a #2 starter, is imperative. Kenta Maeda, who was wonderful for most 2016, needs to get stronger during his second season in the big leagues and be there at season’s end, which he was not at all last year.

The bottom of the rotation is the same collection of injured and suspect parts, mostly due to the front office wasting money on players such as Brandon McCarthy, who any honest person knew was a bad signing from day one, to Scott Kazmir – like Hill, a player who was out of MLB and toiling in the independent leagues. Both pitchers, like Hill, received $48M contracts. When you have so much money invested in players, you are hand tied to use them, thus additional arms were not added.

So, the Dodgers need Kershaw not to have a flare up of his back problems, Maeda to remain reliable (just stronger) and Hill to overcome the odds at age 37. Then between frequently injured Korean warrior Hyun-Jin Ryu, McCarthy, Kazmir and young Julio Urias, who has been pushed to develop quickly but is not ready for a full season workload, the front office hopes for two starter spots to be filled. It’s a lot to ask to go right, given reality and the health and circumstances of most of these pitchers.

There are also players such as Alex Wood, Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart who supporters point to as the remarkable depth the front office has acquired but the truth is most of the players to be counted on were here before they arrived. I’d also add that depth is an interesting word that is bandied about by Dodgers writers and announcers as if it’s unique to the team. Every team has minor league rosters to call upon and additional players set aside as contingency plans. Perhaps the Dodgers depth is more in the spotlight since the health of the regulars is so poor.

In closing I will say that the Dodgers should be near the top once again – with such a large payroll and the Kershaw, Jansen and Seager alone, they have a chance based on that alone. I think the Giants will be very much a factor and at some point, the front office should admit their faults and add quality innings from somewhere. Perhaps they do get good fortune with some of the walking wounded the past couple years, as well as unexpected success from journeymen like Hill, McCarthy and Kazmir.

Personally, I’d put young Urias in the pen since innings are innings, after all, and why waste his down in the minors? I’d put those innings to better use, shoring up an average bullpen and then when the innings count made sense, stretch him out for the rotation, if needed. At any rate, the bullpen would be that much better while the MASH unit of pitchers gave their all once again.

I’m not sure what to make of the outfield, which is Joc Pederson in center, forever to be platooned, and similar platoons everyplace else. Yasiel Puig seems to forever be tainted by being tantalized by Hollywood too soon, Andre Ethier continues to have health issues and Andrew Toles, a player with exceptional athletic ability, has defensive limitations and is told not to steal bases – perhaps one of his biggest plusses.

The infield is solid, though not spectacular. It does have the chance to be very good however if Adrian Gonzalez can somehow turn back Father Time and Forsythe continues to develop. The latter is in the right place as the mandate for a Dodgers offense is to swing for the fences and his 20-homerun power seems to be ideal for the Moneyball Dodgers. Justin Turner’s knees must hold up once more at third base. Seager is remarkable but had a spring with back issues, who like Kershaw, you have to wonder about. All in all, the offense of the Dodgers runs through the infield.

I am not a fan of Yasmani Grandal, though I know many are. Grandal, a former PED user, is also tailor made for this front office as his strength is trying to hit home runs. I prefer catchers who field first primarily and make contact. Maybe this player is Austin Barnes, who won a roster spot as all Andrew Friedman Miami acquisitions do. It will be interesting to see what happens at catcher if Grandal gets hurt, as he does. He’s being asked to play more than ever in 2017.

The Dodgers have enough talent on the roster and coming up through the minors to be near the top once again. It would be nice if they started to take real steps forward and understand they have the financial wherewithal, not to mention the prospects, to acquire players more guaranteed than what they tend to count on. The trademark of the front office seems to be trying to make it to the top by taking the harder route. Reliable innings in the starting rotation, strong setup men at the back of the bullpen, shortening games, is for chumps. Complex trades, working the disabled list like a traffic cop and platooning across the diamond seems immensely more satisfying to these smarties.

The method may be madness, but it has its fan club. Certainly, those on the Dodgers payroll, or who like access to the players and free pre-game meals. World Series winners in 2017? I don’t see it but anything is possible. It has been about thirty years and the payroll is the largest in organized sports. Maybe they are right, maybe they are due.

2014 Has Been Frustrating Enough. Don’t Deal Our Best Kids Too

July 31, 2014 1 comment

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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 Pederson:

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?

Corey Seager:

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.

Julio Urias:

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.

Gut the Farm for This? A Stand Against Idiots Disguised as Fans

July 23, 2014 2 comments

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By and large the world is probably at its zenith of stupidity. It’s around us everywhere, just watch the news. From politicians to kids taking selfies outside of Auschwitz, the Kardashians, Bieber, Miley, Donald Sterling, idiots going to sporting events and hurting other people, and on and on it goes. It continues with baseball, especially how it’s tied to the Internet. Twitter and all other social media outlets give everyone a voice. It helps share information worth sharing, as well as moronic thoughts and various hatred. I am a long-suffering Dodgers fan, which is how Dodger Therapy came to be, but as I’ve uncovered along this journey, there is a great divide amongst people who share the same interest I do. I always could understand having a disagreement with a Giants fan, but should there be such a chasm between fans rooting for the same team? It’s a research paper waiting to happen, but I don’t have time for it just now. I will say that my TL is blowing up as the July 31st trade deadline comes and the Dodgers lose a game here and there. The reason for this is Internet immediacy that causes people to check their phones every 2 seconds and share whatever pops into their head. They may like the Dodgers, but they don’t really understand how it all works. Some of them, of course, not all. And obviously, we all have the right to our opinions. Here is mine…

I will make this short. The Dodgers are a big, overpriced team (the term used loosely) with a lot of obvious problems. Their expensive players are overpaid and not very good. Their defense isn’t consistent. Their bullpen is problematic. Their rotation was fine, now dinged up. They don’t hit in the clutch. They have three blue chip prospects (maybe a few more) and they’re either not ready or blocked by expensive players on the big league roster. They have bad defense at shortstop and the same in center. Their best prospect is Joc Pederson, tearing up AAA and playing centerfield, but they have too many millionaires in front of him. The only solution is to trade some millionaires, trade Joc, or wait. Fans, who I don’t identify with at all, want to win now (somewhat understandably) and are willing to do whatever it takes to do so. Thank goodness these people are not in the Dodgers front office.

In my opinion, the Dodgers could immediately help themselves by moving millionaires (plus cash) for bullpen help, and perhaps other pieces of usefulness. They could promote Joc for centerfield and solve the defensive question mark there and likely greatly improve the offense. They could play one of Arruebarrena, Guerrero or Rojas at shortstop and get something nice for Hanley, who likely will not – and should not – be re-signed. They could call up a few live arms from the system and remove stinkers like Perez, Wilson and Maholm – or at least Perez and Maholm. They could recognize Scott Van Slyke is a very good outfielder and potent bat and play him most every day and not waste that offense 6 days out of the week. In effect, the parts are already on hand to make the team better now and in the playoffs, without touching the precious few prospects Stan Kasten has supposedly been trying to cultivate.

The fans who want David Price or whatever big star they hear is available are not getting the bigger picture – in this case, reality. The Dodgers have MANY issues, not just the sudden need for 1-2 more starters. Those who complain the Dodgers are wasting Kershaw and Greinke by not going all in are misguided to think trading the future to try to patch this pricey, lumbering wreck is the answer. Joc Pederson looks to be a very good two-way player and just what the Dodgers need in the outfield. If they deal him for a pitcher, who plays center? If they deal Corey Seager, they will be reliving the Paul Konerko mishap Lasorda made. If they deal Julio Urias, they could be missing Fernandomania part 2. I have no problem moving the prospects below these three to help fill in the gaps. I do think, as I stated already, the parts are here already and just need to be moved around. No doubt it will be challenging to move some expensive duds currently on the big league roster, but Guggenheim is flush with cash after the TV debacle with TWC, so it’s either eat some money now or put up with this nonsense for 3-5 more years. At some point the situations will need to be dealt with, why not begin now when a rare prospect is screaming for his chance to solve the centerfield void?

As folks who read my articles and follow my tweets know, I am honest. If you are on the wrong side of my point I wish you all the best but you’re clueless when it comes to what building a winner is. This team was patched together by grabbing up bad contracts to buy time for the kids. The kids are in the very near future. If you prefer to deal those gems for this, then you’re wrong. This isn’t a Dan Evans team that was fundamentally sound, playing Gold Glove caliber defense and just needed one more big bat. This team has a myriad of leaks and question marks and while it can be tweaked to win, it’s no guarantee the way it’s run now. Adding David Price will not solve the defense. It will not solve centerfield. It will not make Matt Kemp hit and steal bases. It will not make the hitters smarter and more consistent. It will not stop the fire the bullpen’s been. All it will do is add one more big name starter at the cost of the farm. If Price could be had for a slew of second tier guys, go for it. But it won’t happen. The As just dealt one of the best prospects in the game for pitching not nearly as good as Price. I’m sorry; I can’t sign off on that. As a Dodgers fan, I’d be horrified if Kasten went this route.

For anyone offended by my honesty, I urge you to unfollow me. I have offended idiots before and take glee in it. Smart fans, baseball fans, get what I’m saying. The delusional and those who think Bryan Stow “got what he deserved” have a problem with me. That I wear as a badge of honor.

The Dodgers Do NOT Need David Price

July 6, 2014 3 comments

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A lot of hoopla (by bored – and lazy – baseball writers) that the Dodgers will deal for David Price. In years past, when the Dodgers didn’t have that true ace, maybe, but now… why? I get the greed factor – “build a super rotation – that’ll show ’em” – but again, why? As it is, the Dodgers have played mostly mediocre or poor baseball and are one of the top teams in either league? Why? Because of the strength of their starting pitching – top to bottom, and yes, that includes Dan Haren, people. So if the Dodgers win the West and go into October play, it is largely due to that rotation, not the bullpen, not the offense, and certainly not the defense. So again I ask – why Price?

Would it surprise me if the Dodgers dealt for Price? No. The Guggenheim group came in declaring Frank McCourt’s farm was barren so they’d get that churning again. They drafted some good prospects, retained others, bought some International players and lo and behold, there is hope once again. To deal for Price would derail that hope – and for what? I don’t mean to diminish Price’s ability. If not hurt, like he was last year, he’s as good a pitcher as any in the game. But as it stands now the Dodgers are solid 1-2-3 and outside of an occasional lapse, Josh Beckett has learned to pitch and relies on smarts more than stuff nowadays. Haren is playing on a one-year deal and while uninformed and greedy “fans” complain, as a bottom of the rotation starter, he’s been mostly good, and certainly what you’d expect from a 4-5 starter.

So again, why would the Dodgers want Price? Well, who wouldn’t? Also, I can see Stan Kasten thinking, “easier to add another superstar to the group than do the hard work of benching or trading the superstars we have now.” I honestly don’t believe the Dodgers would be much better by adding Price. He’s a great starter, but 1-5 the rotation now is pretty dominant. Can Price field at SS, LF or CF? Can Price drive in runs consistently? I don’t think so, so adding another fancy pants starter seems redundant to me. Basically you’d be saying, “Haren isn’t a good option at 5, so we better deal for Price to upgrade.” Why?

In a post-season series you have 3 starters, and your other 2 go to the pen. So if the Dodgers added Price, Ryu would be moved to the pen. That’s saying Hyun-Jin Ryu isn’t to be trusted in important Oct games, which I don’t feel is the case. The bullpen currently has some deficiencies, mostly Brian Wilson, Chris Perez and Paul Maholm. In the post-season, a few of those guys wouldn’t even make the roster. So even if the Dodgers did nothing (I would opt for a good relief pitcher), the horses are present to win – the deck chairs just need to be rearranged a bit. Oct mandates such decisions, since 2 starters don’t have jobs.

A few other things bug me about the Price talk. First, it’s assumed by fans Tampa would give the Dodgers Price for nothing. Some say they’d part with garbage, but little else. If the deal this weekend between Oakland and Chicago didn’t teach you anything, you’re not that bright. Mid-season deals cost the front-runner a lot – or should. Chicago got, one most “experts” agree, to be a crown jewel for their infield, one of the games’ top prospects. In return – the price for doing business – the As addressed rotation deficiencies and are now set up to contend in the dog days and into the Fall. Both sides got what they wanted and no one put one over on the other. For Price, who’s markedly better than the 2 starters Oakland acquired, the price would be steep. The Dodgers don’t have the need to pay that kind of price and very little resources to do it anyway. In lay man’s terms, the price for David Price would be quite high and while improving the Dodgers rotation (again, already their strength), it would only improve it so much. The cost would be great in terms of next-generation kids, which I’d like to think is what Kasten is actually building towards, since this bunch of Dodgers is lackluster most of the time.

The other thing that’s funny is that Price is continually called a rental by those who oppose the trade to LA. I like the thinking but the getting there confuses me. If the Dodgers were fool enough to trade for Price, don’t you think the richest team in baseball would retain him? Also, wouldn’t Price, going from the outhouse (sorry, Tampa) to the penthouse, in a pitcher’s park, fitting in alongside Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Ryu, want to stay put? The term rental is used when Pittsburgh acquires someone, not the Dodgers. Not anymore. So I think that aspect of the conversation can be shelved.

Finally, I will say that while the Dodgers do not need another top starting pitcher, to humor those who are greedy and have been Lakers fans too long, I will throw out the name Cole Hamels. Hamels is not needed by the Dodgers any more than Price is, but if I were a GM and wanted to build the ultimate rotation, I would sooner deal with bottom dweller Philly. Hamels is a pretty outstanding starter and owed a lot of money. That money means Philly can ask for less than Tampa can for their star pitcher. So instead of moving Corey Seager, Joc Pederson or Julio Urias, the price would be more like Zach Lee, Paco Rodriguez, or some lesser prospects no one cares about anyhow. The Dodgers would be doing Philly a favor, so when you ask for favors, you can’t be as demanding. And before you complain about the contract Hamels carries, Price will have the same deal, or larger – once he was re-upped to stay in LA. i.e., it doesn’t matter. All things being equal, I’d prefer to keep the aforementioned kids, especially the position players, since pitchers can be had – as this mid-season is proving.

My hopes are that Kasten is smart and acquires a few relievers, perhaps a veteran for the bench and forces dumb Donnie to make the tough decision of playing the players who give the Dodgers the best chance to win over those who make the most money. If the team wants to seriously contend in Oct, they will need to play defense at shortstop and in centerfield. The best outfield combination, in my opinion, is SVS, Joc and Puig. The best defense at short is Arruebarrena or Rojas. Kasten and Donnie can let the inmates run the asylum, but in all my years of watching baseball, I know that the rotation is more than good enough now, the pen needs some tweaking, and the right players are on hand to fix the defensive shortcomings, they just aren’t being used. I hope Kasten and Donnie start using their heads for something other than holding their hats.