In a perfect world, the Cardinals and the Giants both lose the NLCS and the Royals win the World Series by default. But god is dead and the world is not perfect, so which NL team do you wish to see win? I promise you that this is not a trick question to test your Dodgers allegiance.
By now we’ve heard the news. Andrew Friedman is now the President of Baseball Operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers, a position that was created specifically for him.Now that we’re done squealing like girls, let’s take a look at what this means.
The first is that Ned Colletti is not gone, but he might as well be. With the establishment of a baseball operations department and Ned Colletti being reassigned as a special advisor to Stan Kasten, it is quite clear that the Dodgers do not want Ned anywhere near major team decisions. Interestingly, with the front office shakeup that took place before the season ended, it seems as if the Dodgers are going to allow Friedman to revamp the front office to his liking. Expect the Dodgers to announce who the new GM will be in the coming weeks.
An easier task might be to see what this doesn’t mean for the Dodgers. If you think that this move will give the Dodgers a World Series next year, do not fool yourself. This team will still have a very expensive Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier eating up either bench space or outfield real estate. Likewise, Adrian Gonzalez and Juan Uribe will still be on the roster next season. Throw in Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig, and you have five players to whom the Dodgers will either owe large amounts of money or whom they will be reluctant to let go. Fortunately, that will give the Dodgers time to still have a winning team on the field while the minor leaguers develop.
Speaking of which, Friedman is praised mainly for putting a World Series caliber team on the field while working with a much smaller payroll than the Dodgers. For funsies, the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays, the team that made it to the World Series, was put together with a $43.8 million dollar payroll. Friedman is either a sorcerer or a guy that looks at more than just heart and grit. Using his fancy man maths with the highest payroll in the majorss ($269.8 million), Andrew Friedman will not only be able to put a team together for the future, he will be able to do so without bogging the team down with Colletti-esque contracts. I’m looking at you Andruw Jones.
Another plus to having a man like Friedman behind the wheel is that the Dodgers will have someone who will not be trigger shy during the trade deadline. Of course, earlier today, Dodger’s Digest reported that Colletti’s was prevented from doing something stupid, like selling the farm to bolster the bullpen. That still doesn’t explain Kevin Correia to its fullest. I’m not saying Friedman would have made a better decision, but his willingness to deal David Price to the Tigers for some young blood shows that he is future-oriented, which is a good thing for the Dodgers who suffered years of “win-at-all-cost-right-now” type of moves.
The future is always uncertain, but at the moment, it looks incredibly bright.
Ooof. My heart. Doesn’t it feel like he’s breaking up with us, but thanking us for the great memories?
Yesterday, we found out that the Orioles and JJ Hardy agreed to a three year, $40 million dollar extension. That includes a $14 million team option or a $2 million buyout in 2018. Breaking down the year-to-year salary, Hardy will $11.5 million in 2015, $12.5 million in 2016, and $14 million in 2017. This extension is a bump up from his first, three year extension in which he earned $22.5 million. Why the hell am I writing about JJ Hardy? Because this extension will more than likely dictate how Hanley will approach the Dodgers.
By looking at the chart above, you can see that the Orioles did not offer an extension based off his offense. The only time Hardy posted an above average wOBA was in 2011, his first year with the Orioles.
In fact, his wOBA have hovered around the league average since 2011 and has been on a gradual decline since then. So then why would the Orioles extend Hardy’s contract?
JJ Hardy has logged over 1000 innings per season at shortstop while on the Orioles. In each of those seasons, he has been above average in Defensive Runs Saved. Likewise, he has posted an above average UZR while on the Orioles. In fact, if we look at the span of Hardy’s entire career, the only year in which he posted a UZR that was slightly below average was his rookie year. It’s quite clear that the Orioles are investing in a defensive shortstop rather than an offensive one.
Of course, it’s not like the Orioles had many options. The free agent market for short stops is sparse. What’s the point of all this? Well with Hardy off the market thanks to his three year, $40 million dollar contract, the Dodgers do not have much of a choice and Hanley knows this.
Hanley Ramirez Offense: 2011-2014
Hanley Ramirez Defense at SS: 2011-2014
By comparison, Hanley is just god awful at shortstop. This has been known even before he landed with the Dodgers. The guy has absolutely no range. His offense, however, is his saving grace. What the Orioles gained in defense with Hardy, the Dodgers would be gaining in offense with Ramirez.
With Uribe most likely playing his last season on the club next year, if the Dodgers decide to extend Hanley, they could slide him over to third following the 2015 season. It is pretty clear he wants to stay with the team, though he will only do so if the price is right. Given that there is no one else on the free agent market worth signing and that no one in the Dodgers farm system is ready, it is in the Dodgers best interest to extend Hanley’s contract and basically give him a contract similar to Hardy’s. Unless of course you would rather see Justin Turner roll the dice with a .404 BABIP. I didn’t think so.
Let’s call this Ned’s resting bitch face, yeah?
We are less than two full days away from when the Dodgers were eliminated from the playoffs and the rumor mill is churning at full force. Probably the most absurd rumor I saw today was something about Puig going to the Cubs, or was it Puig eats seal cubs? Who knows? Regardless, anything about Puig that floats around the twittersphere is almost always ridiculous or not true, unless noted otherwise, then it’s just ridiculous.
The rumor that gained some traction and seemed to have had any kind of legitimacy to it had Ned Colletti on the hot stove. The world’s biggest hack, Bill Plaschke, got the pot stirring when he wrote that the Dodgers were eyeing Tampa Bay GM, Andrew Friedman, to replace Ned Colletti. As the day went on, the boiling pot of bullshit simmered, and we learned that Colletti is probably not going to go anywhere.
While I wouldn’t mind the Dodgers having someone like Friedman as GM, if he, or any other general manager were to replace Colletti, there would likely be changes to the staff as well. More specifically, we would probably see Mattingly heading out the door with Ned and that is a bad thing.
Don Mattingly took over as manager in 2011 after Joe Torre retired. During Torre’s last season as manager, the Dodgers finished 80-82. It was their first losing record in five years. The following season, Mattingly’s first season as manager, the Dodgers finished the regular season 82-79. It obviously wasn’t enough for a playoff berth, but don’t forget that he had to keep the players and the fans focused on the game while the McCourt divorce drama was plastering the headlines. In 2012, the Dodgers finished the season 86-76. Again, it wasn’t enough for a playoff berth, but there was no way the Dodgers were going to stop the red hot Giants of 2012 while Matt Kemp battled injuries. Hell, the fact that the 2012 Dodgers had a winning record with a lineup that had Mark Ellis, Dee Gordon, Luis Cruz, Shane Victorino, and James Loney, should give Donnie some credit. 2013 marked the return to the playoffs for the Dodgers. Though, at the beginning of the season, you wouldn’t have believed it, even if you were Don Mattingly. After an ugly start to 2013, the Dodgers went on a historic tear and went 42-8 from June 22 to August 17. Again, Mattingly showed his ability to keep the team’s focus on the field rather than on him. The Dodgers finished 92-70, won their first division title since 2009, and advanced to the NLCS since that same year. Their playoff run ended thanks to the Cardinals. Finally, during this last season, 2014, the Dodgers finished the regular season 94-68, their best record since 2009 (95-67). Beyond managing the Dodgers to a second consecutive NL West Division title and a second playoff appearance (that ended thanks to the Cardinals), Mattingly had to deal with an outfield logjam, an ego stricken Matt Kemp, a rotating cast of subpar pitchers, and a hodgepodge of could’a-been utility infielders. I doubt there could have been a more effective manager at the helm than Mattingly. In fact, according to various reports, Mattingly was responsible for calming down Matt Kemp, as well as helping both Kemp and Ethier transition into their roles in right field and the bench, respectively.
Although the Dodgers have not been able to get beyond the Cardinals in the playoffs, Mattingly has done a fantastic job managing the team. His in-game strategy is definitely a blemish on his tenure as manager, though, the questionable calls that he has made are decisions that would have been made by any other manager. In spite of these calls, the Dodgers have consistently improved their regular season record while under his leadership. The fact remains that he runs a tight clubhouse. Despite the comments and tantrums from players every now and then, his stewardship is something that has never come into question. That is a far stronger asset to look at.
As much as the Dodgers would benefit from gaining a new general manager, the risk of losing Mattingly in the process would do more harm than good.
Last year, we saw the resurgence of Brian Wilson. Many Giants fans LOL’d at the signing, and they LOL’d even harder when the Dodgers gave him $10 million contract with a $9.5 million player option. “We’ll have the loudest of LOL’s, San Francisco!” Instead we got a knuckle-balling freak and Kenley Jansen. The balls were blue, and mighty sore.
Wilson’s 2014 numbers were unimpressive. His walk rate topped at 13%, much higher than 8.6% in 2013. Conversely, his strikeout rate dipped this season. In 2013, he was striking out 26.5% of batters faced. In 2014, he was striking out 24.2% of the batters he faced. Of course, 26.5% to 24.2% is not that much of a difference and a 4.4% change in walk rate doesn’t really explain his decline. So what made Wilson so damn frustrating?
Brian Wilson was leaving more men on base in 2013. In fact, in 2013, less than 10% of the men Wilson allowed on base came around to score. Come 2014, Wilson was leaving nearly 75% runners allowed on base. In other words, Wilson was now allowing one out of four runners allowed to score. Wilson also benefited from a higher ground ball rate, plus a lower BABIP and line drive rate in 2013. However, that begs the question, “Why did those stats moving in the wrong direction in 2014?”
While on the Dodgers, Wilson’s primary pitch was his cut fastball, it was thrown almost 75% of the time. That changed in 2014. Wilson’s cutter usage was below 50%. In fact, he didn’t start throwing it nearly as much as 2013 until September of 2014. Unfortunately, another problem surfaced.
If you were to ask Brian Wilson about his velocity in 2014, he would have told you that he’s saving the heat for October. Sadly, the heat never came. And by the looks of it, it’s not coming back.
Wilson’s cutter, his primary pitch, was simply not effective. The velocity is no longer there, which likely explains why this season he was getting hit harder instead of inducing ground balls. As long as he is walking batters, and getting dinged with a slower cut fastball, Dodgers fans will continue to lament Wilson taking the mound. They’ll just have to deal with it because with his overall velocity declining, I highly doubt he can sucker another team into a $9.5 million dollar option.
So long Beckett. You were pretty good when you were healthy. But to be honest, I’m not really bummed to see you go. In fact, I think this is for the best. You see, I need someone I can rely on, and well… you need someone who can take care of you. And no, no. I’m not breaking up with you, but… Nooooo, don’t cry. Look, you just need some time away. I think that will do you some good.
Josh Beckett, while with the Dodgers, posted an ERA of 3.67 and an ERA+ of 107. If we remove last year’s injury plagued season, then Beckett had a respectable 2.91 ERA and 126 ERA+. Thank you, buddy. You came up when it mattered most, and you capped off your career with your first and only no-hitter. Take it easy, boss.
While I don’t like seeing players forced into early retirement because of injuries, I feel like this is the best thing that could have happened to the Dodgers for this coming offseason. 2014 was the last year of his contract anyways, but I feel this makes the decision of Los Angeles easier. There is no need to muse over re-signing Beckett anymore. Even better, it allows the Dodgers to focus on where the pitching is a disaster; the bullpen.
Pretty much, this.
So here we are again. This feels oddly familiar. I had some time to really let this underwhelming postseason run sink in. Here are a couple of thoughts:
1) Clayton Kershaw is *gasp* human.
2) I hate the Cardinals.
3) The Dodgers bullpen is lousy.
4) The Dodgers offense has poor timing.
5) I really hate the Cardinals.
There is a silver lining to getting eliminated from the postseason twice in two years. The Dodgers made the post season two years in a row. Not only did they make it two years in a row, but they also won the West two years in a row. This is a Dodgers team that can compete. Fortunately, or unfortunately if you’re Andre Ethier, the Dodgers will trim the fat this offseason and will make the moves they need to in order to move beyond the first two rounds of the playoffs (or at the very least, beyond the Cardinals.)
Despite the disappointing NLDS, this season was a blast. It wasn’t as exciting as last season (how do you top a 42-8 run?) but I enjoyed seeing the team comfortably battle for first place instead of clawing from dead last.
For those of you that follow and read this blog, I apologize for being MIA most of the season. Between moving in with the wife, starting a new job, and buckling down with school, keeping up with the team was rather difficult considering that I couldn’t even watch the games. 2015 will be a better year, I promise. Thanks for the follows on twitter, thank you for the retweets and the interactions. Both Aaron and myself enjoyed it and we look forward to the offseason!
With the NL West already decided, the Dodgers left their fragile power hitters off the starting lineup. Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez enjoyed the day off, as did AJ Ellis. With Roberto Hernandez on the mound, the Dodgers and Drew Butera behind the plate, winning wasn’t exactly a priority; especially since the Nationals won locking in the Dodgers as the second seed in the playoffs.
The night started off with a double by Dee Gordon. Yasiel Puig came up and drove in the first run with single to left field. The lead was short lived as the Rockies tacked on three runs in the third inning.
The Dodgers offense is a peculiar one. It will either drearily score runs and roar to life, or it will just limp along. Tonight, the former showed up. After going scoreless through five innings, the Boys in Blue woke up in the bottom of the sixth. Darwin Barney came into the game and singled to center field. That was followed by a Dee Gordon single. After an infield pop out by Joc Pedereson, Scott Van Slyke singled to left field and brought home Barney. Fortunately, the Rockies are the Rockies and on a throwing error, Dee Gordon advanced to third while Van Slyke advanced to second. Thanks to an infield single by Justin Turner, Gordon and Van Slyke crossed the plate and added two more runs. Eventually, Juan Uribe would drive in both Turner and Carl Crawford. Ethier, who drew a walk, scored on a sacrifice fly by Barney.
That would be all the offense the Dodgers would need to win the game. While the last three games of the season are not worth a damn at this point, it is nice to see the offense rally back and get the win. It is especially nice to know that the bench is able to produce runs. Granted the runs scored were against the Rockies, and not against say, the Cardinals, Steve Lyons would say that not having Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez in the lineup hitting home runs is a good thing.
Tomorrow, Dan “I Just Earned $10 Million” Haren gets the start and will face Eddie Butler (who?). Hopefully, Haren can instill show the Dodgers that he should be in the playoff rotation (spoiler alert: He will be in the playoff rotation). Knowing how baseball hates Dodgers fans, he will give up 10 runs and force the bullpen into the game.
First pitch tomorrow is at 6:10 PM.
This baseball season has been an odd one for Dodgers fans. An overwhelming majority of their fan base has been unable to regularly watch the games on TV due to the Time Warner debacle. It is an issue that has been beaten relentlessly, so I’ll spare you that post. But what has been a tepid experience for most of Los Angeles is now an exhilarating ride. The Los Angeles Dodgers have clinched the National League West Division Title for the second time in two years.
Clayton Kershaw took the mound tonight, and for the first two innings, all was right with the world. Our ace, our historic ace, had pitched a perfect two innings. For a moment, at least for this blogger, I had a tinge of wishful thinking, “How amazing would it be if his season is endcapped with a perfect game, NL West clinch?” You can go ahead and wish a pox on my house because I jinxed it. The perfect two innings came to an end, and honestly, it looked as if Kershaw was going to collapse. Memories of last year’s NLCS flooded my mind. In the top of the third, Kershaw gave up a single to Joaquin Arias. Gregor Blanco singled to left field in the next at bat. And then, in the least Kershaw-y of Kershaw moments, that guy, Kershaw, balked! It was his only in this season and the tenth of his career. With Arias and Blanco on third and second respectively, and Giants pitcher, Tim Hudson up to bat, there was a glimmer of hope that Kershaw would start getting some much needed outs. Indeed, Hudson grounded out, but Demon Lord, Hunter Pence would extend the rally. Pence would end up safe on a botched fielder’s choice, and his at bat would bring in Arias to score. Joe Panik managed to get in a single before Buster Posey could come up and ground into a double play.
For a while, the Dodgers couldn’t muster anything against the 39 year-old Hudson. In the bottom of the 5th, Carl Crawford reached first after being hit by a pitch. Having dealt with an impotent offense before, Kershaw hit a standing triple, scoring Carl Crawford and tying the game. In the bottom of the sixth, the Dodgers offense finally woke up with a Puig opposite field bomb:
(Courtest of Chad Moriyama @ Dodgers Digest)
The Dodgers managed to score three more runs in that inning and then another four in the bottom of the eighth. Our good friend, Brian Wilson, closed the game against his former team and secured the win.
Even though the Dodgers have seen the last of the Giants in the regular season, there is a very real chance that the rivals could face each other much later in the playoffs. If the Giants manage to make it into the wild card game and beat the Pirates, and if they manage to beat the Nationals, then the Dodgers can look forward to a very dramatic boss fight, I mean NLCS before the World Series.
Part of me wants the Giants to make it to the NLCS just so their fans can get a taste of hope’s sweet nectar, before the Dodgers crush the dreams of a third World Series Birth in the last four years.
Sweet sweet baseball, you are not a destination, but a journey. Thank you for this season. I cannot wait for the playoffs.
*Blows dust off the ol’ blog*
Dan Haren got the start tonight and was fantastic. The No. 4 starter was able to hold the Giants to one hit and two runs through a marvelous seven innings, earning himself a 2015 1-year contract worth $10 million, if he chooses to exercise the option. Surprisingly, the bullpen, albeit shaky, was able to shut down San Francisco long enough to get the Dodgers through another six innings. In a game where this happened:
(Courtesy of Chad Moriyama @ Dodgers Digest)
You would think the Dodgers would have capitalized and scored at least one run in extra innings.
But of course, Dodgers fans are not allowed to have nice things, like a healthy rotation or a World Series championship in twenty-six years. I was hoping that our return to this blog would have brought the Dodgers closer to clinching the NL West, but we live in a fucked up world with no god. Hyperbole much? Hell no! Did you forget that Correia exists?
Correia would enter the game in the top of the thirteenth to do his “Blow The Game in Extra Innings/BAET LA” remix. Kevin Correia allowed a single from Andrew Susac and a double from Gregor Blanco. That managed to be enough to send Dodgers fans home with playoff blue balls. Fuck you Correia, you are the worst person in the universe in all of baseball.
With the magic number still at three and with Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw pitching the next two games, respectively, the Dodgers have a legitimate chance to clinch the NL West in this series. Let us hope the baseball gods have not forsaken us.
Game time tomorrow is at 7:10.
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