What’s Next For The Dodgers?

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Andrew Friedman and the rest of the Dodgers front office has really shaped up the roster….And that was only the beginning.

After the craziness of Winter Meetings where the Dodgers went all out and made moves that saw guys like Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins added to the roster as well as Dee Gordon and Matt Kemp traded away all is quiet on the Dodgers front….For now. When the Dodgers made their plethora of moves many knew that this front office was restructuring the roster to what they wanted which left many asking. What’s Next? People around Baseball know the Dodgers are no where close to being done and that there’s more work to be done. Nobody right now can predict what the Dodgers will exactly do but we can always speculate what they’ll do(Which makes things fun for me.).

Believe it or not the Dodgers still have plenty or work to do. They’re still waiting on the San Diego and Philadelphia deals to be official (Which should happen by this week) and once that happens the Dodgers will go from there. What will they do? That’s a great question to ask. Fast forward to the deals being official with the Padres and Phillies. Los Angeles still have to work on their bullpen, trade another outfielder, and add another starting pitcher. Two birds can be knocked out with one stone because the Dodgers can trade an outfielder for a pitcher but seeing the likely hood of that happening is slim it’s only a thought. On the trade the outfielder front the Dodgers are left with two viable options in Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford. Right now the difficult thing on trading them is their value due to their contracts and/or their play. Andre Ethier is the likely of the two to be traded and my guess is that we’ll see him moved rather than Crawford due to Carl’s contract. Remember the Dodgers were close to trading Ethier to Arizona for Miguel Montero but the talks went south due to the money portion on the Dodgers side of things. Ethier also stated that he wants to play everyday which won’t happen in Los Angeles. Dodgers has plans to place Joc Pederson in Center Field which would put Yasiel Puig back in Right. Puig by default is starting everyday and the Dodgers traded for Chris Heisey who would platoon or come off the bench at Center. Those are two positions Ethier usually play. Carl Crawford is glued to Left field as is Scott Van Slyke which means there’s no room for Ethier to play everyday unless the right deal comes for the Dodgers to eat some of Crawford’s contract and see him shipped and Ethier moves to left or something. Until that happens I don’t see Andre Ethier in Los Angeles come next season.

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Cole Hamels to Los Angeles? Some suggest it could happen although there are a few road blocks.

 

In terms of adding another starting pitcher the possibilities are endless for the Dodgers. There has been talk of the Dodgers willing to package prospects to trade to the Phillies for Cole Hamels. Him in Los Angeles would really improve their rotation but then there are some issues that stand in the way. The Phillies have a tendency of asking for a high return and the Dodgers won’t part with Top Prospects but the likelihood is indeed there. Another option the Dodgers would have, which is pretty much likely, is signing a Free-Agent. James Shields and Max Scherzer are still on the market and the Dodgers are indeed keeping a close eye on them. Dodgers Front Office do know that they have A TON of Money to spend but it doesn’t mean they will go out and spend freely. Dodgers have shown that they will turn away if the bidding gets too out of control. Scherzer is rumored to want $200 Million which is money he won’t get from the Dodgers or any team at that unless they really need pitching. James Shields is out there and until the bidding for him gets out of control he is a likely option. Another pitcher that the Dodgers should look at however is Jake Peavy. A guy who is familiar with the division, pitches pretty well at Dodger Stadium, and can perform in the Postseason as well as wears passion on his sleeves. He’s a guy the Dodgers should take a good look at. There is the option of calling up a pitcher like Zach Lee to fill your rotation but most likely they’ll give their pitchers another year to work in the Minors especially with new scouting and being in Oklahoma City to have better readings on players.

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Andre Ethier could be the next Dodger outfielder on his way out.

That leaves us with the bullpen. The root of the Dodgers problems (Other than batting with Runners In Scoring Position/RISP.) for the last few some odd years has been the pitchers that reside within the Left Field bullpen at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers at some point within their season has seen their bullpen really struggle and cost them games whether it was during the regular season or the Postseason. Last year saw the Dodgers struggle with their bullpen and nothing being done by the front office to improve the bullpen. Although you can say the Dodgers were blocked by teams during the wavier periods and outbid by teams who were willing to pay a steeper price when the Trade deadline came around. This has led to the Dodgers doom in the Postseason against the Cardinals (Which is also debatable). Early in the offseason the Dodgers traded for Jose Peralta from the Rays, Juan Nicasio from the Rockies before making moves to add more during Winter Meetings which saw L.A. trade for Chris Hatcher from the Marlins. I would add Joe Wieland but that trade is not official yet. Despite fans saying the team has yet to do anything about the Bullpen the Dodgers have done some work to the bullpen. There’s still more that has to be situated with the pen however. They need a legit setup man and no Brian Wilson is not the guy I would rely on to pitch in the 8th inning anymore after last season. Dodgers could still trade for more relief pitching or go out and sign for relief pitching. There’s still plenty of it out there although they’re quickly being signed away. Sergio Romo is a guy who I can see the Dodgers signing which probably would make a few Dodger fans and Giant fans lose their lunch in unison. Dodgers could also trade away some current players that’s in deals that could bring a guy like a Cole Hamels to L.A. though the likelihood of that is slim. The bullpen still needs work.

This Dodgers Front Office have really shaped up their roster. A team that has won two straight NL West Titles will look very different come Opening Day 2015. It’s hard to say if this team will be better or worse than last season but we can say that the roster won’t be start studded. From what I can take of this is that the Dodgers have done a few things with the major overhaul. Lower their payroll, upgrade at a few positions, and get younger. The Dodgers for the past two seasons had a big payroll and big bats that were filled from 2-6 on the Line up. Now they have less power but effective grind it out players which can provide some help to getting the job done. Basically fitting the mold of the Cardinals and Giants. Hitters that can pick you apart and cash in with runners in scoring position (Small ball) as well as pitching to get the job done. Front Office has really gave this roster a major facelift and the thing is…They’re far from finished.

 

Winter Meetings: The Dodgers Did What?!

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Dodgers were very active during Winter Meetings. One of the shocking moves involved Matt Kemp being traded to the San Diego Padres.

Wow! The last 24 hours has been wild at Winter Meetings in San Diego. If you’re a Los Angeles Dodgers fan then you have to be absolutely speechless like I am right now. I expected moves but nothing like this at all. The new Dodgers Front Office has many in the baseball world going wow. Before I get into my thoughts on the whole thing allow me to go through the events of what the Dodgers did in almost a 24 hour span.

 

 

Dodgers trade two pitching prospects to Phillies for Jimmy Rollins (Not Yet Completed)

Dodgers Trade Dee Gordon, Dan Haren, and Miguel Rojas to Marlins for Andrew Heaney, Austin Barnes, Chris Hatcher, And Enrique Hernandez

Dodgers Trade Andrew Heaney to Angels for Howie Kendrick

Dodgers Trade Matt Kemp, Tim Federowicz, and $31 Million to Padres for Yasmani Grandal, Joe Wieland and Zach Eflin. (Reported Details)

Dodgers signed Brandon McCarthy $50M for 4 Years

Yes that’s a lot of moves made within a 24 hour span. Just when many got on the Dodgers Front Office for the lack of moves they really had a lot of activity. As far as the moves itself I have to say that I truly don’t have a problem with that but there are some concerns that I do have for right now. Dodgers front office from the looks of things is really revamping a roster that help win the NL West and win 94 games. Sell high and buy low seems to be the plan here and the additions aren’t that bad at all. The trade with the Phillies to get Jimmy Rollins is good for the Dodgers. Not only did the Dodgers fill a hole at SS ,with the Depature of Hanley Ramirez, but they upgraded Defensively at Shortstop as well. As far as the trade with Miami? That was something that caught me off guard given the season that Dee had. Dan Haren being in the deal was out of nowhere especially given the fact that he said that he would retire if he’s traded anywhere outside of Southern Cal. The prospect in return wasn’t too bad at all given that the Dodgers sold high on Gordon, Haren, and Rojas. Howie Kendrick getting traded to the Dodgers was a shocking move to me and many Angels fans as well. Kendrick is a solid hitter who you can bat in the 2 hole or bat clean up like he did in Anaheim and a very confident fielder at Second Base. I think he’s a very underrated player in my opinion. At two positions the Dodgers upgraded in the WAR stat by adding the top two in WAR at their positions. Now the move that really caught everyone off guard was Matt Kemp being traded to the San Diego Padres. Kemp managed to heat up during the second half of the season but as many remember also was in many trade talks after rumblings of him being unhappy in Left Field after being moved  to the corner fielding positions for defensive reasons. In return the Dodgers have Yasmani Grandal who will either start for majority of games or back up Ellis. Brandon McCarthy isn’t a bad move to me at all but I do question the contract that he’s gotten. I feel $50M and 4 years is too much for him especially for a guy with a history of injuries but when he was traded from Arizona to the Yankees he pitched a 2.89 ERA with 89 K’s in 90.1 Innings Pitched.

The things I liked about these moves are that the Dodgers sold high to get prospects and flipped them into guys like Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins. The Dodgers got two solid players and got a good return back from Miami in the Dee Gordon trade. With Los Angeles loading up on prospects maybe they’re working on something bigger. There has been word that Los Angeles could make a run at Cole Hammels. The front office gave the Dodgers some Payroll flexibility after trading Kemp and adding Howie and Jimmy, both whom have a year left on their contracts. Something that do concern me the most is the loss of a right handed Power bat to protect LH hitter Adrian Gonzalez with the departure of Hanley and Kemp. Another is the Bullpen that still needs work. Dodgers made all these moves to revamp the roster yet still need some work done to the a bullpen that was a glaring weakness last season. Now it is December so there’s still plenty of work for the front office to do between now and the time when pitchers and catchers report. From the looks of things the Dodgers aren’t done making moves and that they are in a Rebuild mode or something. Best thing to do is wait and see what the Front Office has planed for this team.

Thing I will say is that I do wish Matt Kemp, Dee Gordon, Miguel Rojas, and Dan Haren the best of luck with their new teams and thank you for your times with the Dodgers. For the New Dodgers welcome aboard. If we learned one thing after these moves it’s that almost nobody is safe from being traded.

 

Dodgers Postseason Breakdown: NLDS vs St Louis

1403926686006-USATSI-7971516  It’s set. The Dodgers will face the NL Central Division Champs St Louis Cardinals in the NLDS. This will be the Dodgers 2nd straight postseason and once again will enter as NL West Division champions which is something they haven’t done since 2008 and 2009 seasons. It wasn’t easy and it was indeed a stressful road but come a week before the All-Star break and some the Dodgers manage to climb back into the NL West and take back the lead. You can say that this regular season was indeed a memorable one but now we move into the Postseason things will go up a notch. Dodgers will get the luxury of getting the first two games in the NLDS at home which can play a good part for certain teams. In the Dodgers case starting Game 1 and 2 at home would help the Dodgers because it’s pitcher friendly. Another thing that make the NLDS very interesting is that it is a rematch of last years NLCS which is against the St. Louis Cardinals. Dodgers fell to St Louis in the NLCS in 6 games which saw mismanagement,  errors, and lack of run productions from the Dodgers. Let’s also not forget Hanley Ramirez ribs being broken after getting hit by a pitch from Joe Kelly which really hampered his production in that series. This year Dodgers won the season series 4-3 and the games were indeed close outside of the 6-0 Dodger victory back on June 29th. Dodgers are playing some pretty good baseball going into the Postseason and you always want your team going. What are some key factors towards a Dodgers series win? Let’s go ahead and look into it.

Starting Pitching: Both the Dodgers and Cardinals have solid starting rotations. Both have dominant Aces (Dodgers Clayton Kershaw and Cardinals Adam Wainwright) and solid pitchers behind them. Looking at the Dodgers rotation Kershaw and Greinke speaks volumes for themselves but when you go into the rest of the starters then that’s where things start becoming a question mark. Hyun Jin Ryu is coming off an injury that hampered him in the 9-0 loss in San Francisco and hasn’t really pitched since then. Dan Haren on the other hand has been pretty up and down but during the last two months of the season Haren has really put it together. St Louis on the other hand has Wainwright who has had an outstanding season going 20-9 with a 2.38 ERA this season. Another pitcher who really has been flying under the radar is Lance Lynn.  Though he went 15-10 he posted a solid 2.74 ERA. Between the two teams the Dodgers statistically have a better rotation than St Louis but when it comes to postseason the Cardinals always seem to put it together pitching wise. What it’ll come down to for Los Angeles is solid games from their starters. We know Kershaw and Greinke tend to have solid games when locked in but from then on it’ll come down to Ryu and Haren who will most likely go games 3-4 in St. Louis. Both Ry and Haren really haven’t had much success against the Red Birds and with them going into Busch Stadium where it’ll be humid and the ball flies around a lot then it’ll be really interesting to see. St Louis on the other hand they’ll have to take advantage of Dodger Stadium being a pitchers park as well and keep the Dodger bats quiet for 5-6 innings. It’s a mystery on who will be starting game 2 but we do know Wainwright will take the task on putting the Cardinals in position to win a game in Los Angeles.

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Matt Kemp bat has come around at just the right time but can he keep it up in the Postseason?

Bullpen: The Dodgers and Cardinals pen has been less than impressive this season and is a huge question mark coming into the postseason. The Dodgers bullpen has really been up and down the whole season ending with an ERA of 3.80 (12th in the NL). Guys like Brian Wilson, who was lights out last season, has really struggled this season and really haven’t  gotten much from Chris Perez or Jamie Wright. There are some bright spots for the pen however. Brandon League hasn’t really been adding fuel to the fire and rookies like Pedro Baez has stepped up. Now the Dodgers will have to figure out what pitchers they will use for the NLDS. Last year Mattingly went against the grain by stacking then pen with power throwers opposed to going with left handed pitchers which St Louis struggled batting against. St Louis bullpen has also been up and down fairing no better a little better than the Dodgers. The Cardinals have done some moving around as well as trading to acquire some pieces to improve the pen. Opposing batters are batting .240 against the Cardinals bullpen, which is an average higher than their NLDS opponents (Dodgers pen allowing a .239 BA). Pat Neshek has really been lights out pitching a 1.87 ERA coming out the pen and Trevor Rosenthal is no pushover as well when it comes to closing games but the rest of the pen has been shaky at best. It’ll come down to who’s bullpen can hold the lead come late innings. Dodgers have yet to really do that in close games on a consistent basis especially Jansen who has been up and down all season as well. If Mattingly can manage the Bullpen correctly and effectively than the Dodgers may turn a weak point into something effective.

Batting: This is where things really get interesting. Dodgers and St Louis are known to have a pretty good offense and coming into this series I expect nothing different. Looking at Los Angeles offense they can be really exciting or really frustrating to watch. Dodgers during the regular season batted .265 which was 2nd in the NL and out of the NL teams in the Postseason is one of the best. You look at guys like Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, and Juan Uribe that are really hitting the ball coming into the Postseason but now you have Matt Kemp, Dee Gordon, and Carl Crawford hitting and lets not forget that the Bench has been hitting as well. (Scott Van Slyke- .297, Darwin Barney .303, Justin Turner .340) Dodgers batting all over has been pretty deadly coming into the postseason. Even as a team they’re hitting with runners in scoring position (.289 1st in the NL) which sums up their 4.4 runs per game stat. Now the Dodgers kryptonite has been hitting with bases loaded where the Dodgers bat a lousy .191 and has yet to hit a grand slam. One thing for sure is that the Dodgers going into the Postseason are really hitting the ball and scoring some runs big time. The Cardinals are also a dangerous team with the bat and will strike when least expected especially in October. This season hasn’t really been as impressive with them hitting .253 coming into the Postseason which is middle of the road. Guys like Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter, and Matt Adams are dangerous hitters and can really hurt you at anytime. Coming into the Postseason the Cardinals hitters has really struggled. Key guys like Adams and Carpenter have seen their numbers go down and Molina hasn’t been hitting well since returning from injury as well. Their two rookies Oscar Taveras and Kolten Wong bats are nowhere to be seen and coming into the Postseason that’s never a good thing especially for rookies. Both are going to get challenged by pretty good pitching staffs. Right now the Dodgers are getting hot with their bats at the perfect time. During the 7 regular season games the Dodgers batted .261 against St Louis pitching while the Cardinals batted .214 vs Los Angeles pitching. One thing the Dodgers have to do is not fall into their bad habits batting and play smart baseball in order to make life tough for St Louis and grab early runs to get to the bullpen. St Louis has to do the same as well and we all know what the Cardinals are capable of doing in October.

Los Angeles Key Factor To Win The Series:  The Dodgers key factor towards winning the series rest on the hands of their defense. I say this because the Dodgers have the 2nd most errors in the National League at 109. When you play a team like the Cardinals you really have to be on it defensively and can’t afford to have missed opportunities to get out the inning or take you out the game.  Guys like Hanley and Dee will have to really bring their gloves for this series and not throw the ball away. Last season the Dodgers committed a good set of errors where it allowed the Cardinals to get away with close victories. Catchers like AJ Ellis and Drew Butera will really have to keep pitches that go into the dirt in front of them. Any balls that go past them will hurt against St Louis.

St. Louis Key Factor To Win The Series: The Cardinals key factor towards winning will been their pitching. With their bats struggling coming into the Postseason their pitching will have to keep the Red Birds in prime position to win games. Cardinals will send Adam Wainwright out to the mound for game one but as mentioned earlier who pitches game two is a mystery but not really a problem. St. Louis can go with Lance Lynn who’s been pretty solid this season, John Lackey who is 4-1 with a 1.48 ERA in the Postseason and won a World Series with Boston last season, or go with Shelby Miller who is also a very solid pitcher and they still have Michael Wacha who came out of no where and really put it to the Dodgers last Post Season. One way or another St. Louis Starting rotation will have the task of keeping the Dodgers bat quiet and in order for St Louis to put L.A. on it’s heels they’ll have to have quality starts.

Overall and Prediction: This is going to be a compelling series between the two teams. St Louis has history to turn things around in the Postseason but the Dodgers are playing some very good baseball at just the right time. Los Angeles hasn’t forgotten last years NCLS against the Cardinals and that Game 6 in St. Louis. Right now I guess you can say the Dodgers are catching St. Louis at just the right time this season. The Cardinals are below .500 on the road and last time their bats have not been stellar in the 2nd half of the season. If the Cardinals want to win the series they’ll have to steal a game in Los Angeles and best way to really stun the Dodgers is taking one against Clayton Kershaw in game one. On the Dodgers end they’ll have to take advantage of their good play and get stellar outings from their pitchers. They also have to get to Wainwright early and often which means keeping up their stellar hitting and get some runs. I think this series comes down to pitching and who can steal a game on the road. I can see this going 5 games and coming down to Wainwright and Kershaw once again but I think the Dodgers are getting things going at just the right time and the Dodgers tend to play pretty well on the road as well. Dodgers in 4 Games.

 

Westcoast Rivals Battle for NL West

LA_SF  This weekend a crucial series that will swing momentum in the NL West. For a whole season the division has been Dodgers/Giants and it has been a pretty interesting one. 1st half of the season the Giants had a lead as large as 9.5 games over the Dodgers where many were saying the race was over but by All-Star break the Dodgers managed to overtake first place in the NL West and in the lone series after the break the Dodgers swept the Giants in San Francisco in impressive fashion. This month the Dodgers and Giants will play 6 more times which pretty much will decide the NL West. With the margin close momentum can swing either way which likely sets up a series for the NL West in Los Angeles with the teams best 3 pitchers facing off.

The Dodgers come into the series leading by two games over the Giants and winning 5 of their last 6 games. They also have Greinke, Ryu, and Kershaw lined up to pitch against the Giants as well. You can say the Dodgers pitching wise are in a position to win the series an extend the lead in the division but the Dodgers batting has been what you can say a hit or miss. The Giants on the other hand come in playing what you can say their best baseball since the second half of the season. Los Angeles has their sights on more than the division, They’re thinking World Series and taking 2 of 3 from the Giants in San Francisco will be a huge boost to themselves. In order for the Dodgers to take the series they must help out the pitching staff and need key players to really step up and help. Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez have gone cold with their bats and at a very important part of the season. Dodgers will need for both players to snap out of their cold streak and contribute t make their line up that much more deadly. The Giants pitching staff is also nothing to sleep on so the Dodgers bats have to show up for this series. Both teams have a lot at steak here and this series means much much more than just the division. It’ll be interesting how the last 6 games against one another turnout. 2 games is all the separates the two and the outcome can be so many things. We could see the lead extended by the Dodgers, The Giants take the lead in the division, or a tie. One way or another this will be very interesting. You can expect these games to be played as if it’s a Playoff Series.

September Stretch

adrian-gonzalez-zn  Baseball fans, We have reached the last month of regular season baseball. This is where teams in Division and Wild Card races have their last shot at gaining postseason positioning and where Division leaders have the shot at clinching. This is the month that will make or break a team. The Dodgers right now find themselves up 2.5 games ahead their rivals the San Francisco Giants due to the Giants catching fire and the Dodgers dropping 2 of 3 to the Padres. Los Angeles missed out on some key times to really push the lead a few times, hit with key injuries, Slumps from Dee Gordon and Yasiel Puig as well as offensive woes (Swinging at the first pitch), and Bullpen issues. Dodgers ended August by salvaging a game and avoiding the sweep against the Padres in San Diego thanks to a huge inning in the 8th and Hyun Jin Ryu coming off the DL dealing. A win like that can help the Dodgers gain some momentum heading into this month.

September will be a very very crucial month for Los Angeles. They start off with a Washington Nationals team that have been playing some really good as of late and that is never an easy series. Now a Even bigger thing here that needs to be looked at is the remaining two series with the Giants. The Giants have been on fire the last few games and capitalized off the Dodgers mishaps. Those two series will be the most important ones in the NL West and from the looks of it Postseason positioning as well. Right now coming into September the Dodgers have a lot of questions that need to be answered and fast. With the top of the order not producing, Offense going cold a bad times and the Bullpen being shaky and questionable Managing the Dodgers have to figure out a few things. I always usually say that one game can really make a difference and I hope yesterday and tonight are the ones that can spring Los Angeles forward. Not only is this a huge and crucial stretch for the Dodgers but it’s also the time where the roster expands from 25 to 40 which means the Dodgers will see Alex Guerrero, Yimi Garcia, and Joc Pedersen. This can be their shot to make an impact in a tight and heated division race. So not only will we see a heated and tight divisional race but we’ll get to see some top prospects in action.

The Dodgers have to not beat themselves and worry about a San Francisco team that has found it’s stride. If the Dodgers want the NL West then they have to get it together and right now. This week the Dodgers have a Nationals team that’s really been playing really well. Pitchers outside of Kershaw, Greinke, and Ryu have to get it in order, the offense has to hit with runners in scoring position, and the Bullpen has to help keep the team in  the game. At this point Dodgers have to really want to win or risk being way behind in the NL West and possibly be sitting at home come October. Someone in the clubhouse have to get these guys going. Earlier in the season I mentioned the lack of leadership in the clubhouse and how that can affect the team. This is the time where someone in the clubhouse start to speak up because it don’t seem like they are right now. Then again we can only speak from the outside. All I can say is that this will be a wild ride so be ready for it.

Goodbye Albuquerque and Hello Oklahoma City?

Isotopes Could the Dodgers be parting with the Isotopes after the 2014 season? Well according to a report from The Oklahoman the Dodgers will likely purchase the Oklahoma City RedHawks which will make them their Triple A affiliate in 2015. After news of this broke yesterday many people started to wonder what will this mean and if this will be a good move? Well the Albuquerque Isotopes PDC (Player Development Contract) will be up in mid September and the agreement will be up at the end of the 2014 season as all the Dodgers current Minor League Affiliates. Right now both the Dodgers Player Development and Isotopes Managing partners are saying that it’s just a rumor right now and that noting have been discussed internally but you have to think once the 2014 season is up something is going to change in the Minor League System.

   Albuquerque have been apart of the Dodgers organization for 38 years until the Dodgers partnered with Las Vegas in 01. So it won’t be the first time the Dodgers left. If Oklahoma City do become the Triple A affiliate of the Dodgers you have to think it’ll have to do with player development. In Albuquerque the elevation usually leads to inflated numbers and it’s hard to really get an accurate scout on players out there. To me I always believe that the Dodgers making the switch from the Isotopes would really benefit Player scouting and the players as well. Oklahoma City can be humid at night during the spring so the ball can carry more but not like Albuquerque. Now I’m not trashing Albuquerque at all because they have been great to the Dodgers over the years. Always enjoyed hearing about them and if the Dodgers do part with the Isotopes then I wish the Topes the best.

  Oklahoma City in my opinion is the best option for player development on the Dodgers part and a pretty decent baseball city that many Dodger fans will enjoy if they make a trip out there. While Albuquerque is closer to Los Angeles (Not by much really) Oklahoma City is a better place to catch a ball game as well as see the city too. Nothing has been set in stone just yet as this is all speculation for the most part so anything can indeed happen between now and then.

Joc Pederson: Is It Time To Call Him Up?

Joc+Pederson+Los+Angeles+Dodgers+v+Texas+Rangers+WWynS0L0LKol  This season the Dodgers outfield situation has been a rather interesting one. First there was the question of how would Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and Carl Crawford would handle the whole platooning situation and if one of them would be traded. Then came the Center Fielding issues where Kemp was moved to Left Field then the drama between Kemp and the Dodgers where he was moved to Right Field and played really well as well as Puig being moved to Center Field where he has been playing pretty great as well. Let’s not forget about Scott Van Slyke holding his own where he’s getting some pretty good playing time and Andre Ethier apparently preparing to get playing time at 1st Base. If you managed to some how follow the cliff notes version of this whole thing then congratulations. While all of that was going on there’s one player that is currently in the Dodgers farm system making a case for himself and that player is Joc Pederson.

While the Dodgers have been playing musical outfielders (Now between Crawford/Ethier/Van Slyke) Pederson have been helping the Albuquerque Isotopes by tearing up the Pacific Coast League and putting up outstanding numbers.  In 103 Games Pederson has bat .303 with 26 HR/62 RBI’s/26 Stolen Bases which is really impressive. Joc has been so impressive that Don Mattingly has gone on to say that Pederson is one of the best Outfielders in the Dodgers organization. Joc’s name has been thrown around in some trade rumors and offers but the Dodgers have been very reluctant to trade him or any elite prospects. So seeing Joc will stay a Dodger for the foreseeable future come’s this question that many have been asking. When will the Dodgers bring Pederson up?

There was a time where the Dodgers were very close to calling up Pederson over Puig when the two were in Double A Chattanooga but the Dodgers ultimately went with Puig and well the rest was history. Pederson right now is indeed Major League ready and has the potential to be a great player. While he may not have the same spark as Puig did when he came up, He can have a good effect on the Dodgers and at a time where the pennant races are heating up. I think he can put up pretty good numbers in the Majors as well. So what’s the problem with bringing him up? Well there’s a few things that’s stopping that from happening with One is being the 40 man roster. While Joc did play a handful of games with the Dodgers during Spring Training he is currently not on the 40 man roster and in order for him to be called up the Dodgers would have to release someone and place Joc on there. Whether the Dodgers do it or not before September call up’s will remain to be seen at this moment.  Another issue being the crowded outfield situation that I mentioned earlier. Joc is indeed  affected by that log jam in the Outfield which isn’t freeing up anytime soon. With Puig finding a new place in Center Field and Matt Kemp finding new life in right that leaves Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier. Unless one of the two get traded or anything I don’t Joc coming up anytime this season. Let’s not forget Scott Van Slyke is there but he’s better suited as a bat off the bench for the Dodgers. It was said before that Pederson would be a victim of a crowded Outfield and very much so. It seems like every day we see an update on him hitting a home run or just destroying it in Triple A and wonder “What is taking so long?”.

It’ll be a matter of time until Joc Pederson is in a Dodgers uniform but until there’s room to place him on the 40 man roster he’ll continue to put up great numbers down in Triple A. I think the Dodgers can make room to put him on the 40 man roster and call him up in September to get him some Major League at bats. While Center and Right field are locked up he can make a place for himself in Left Field. With Crawford and Ethier struggling this season with the bat and Van Slyke not really a real defensive option it wouldn’t be a bad idea to give Pederson a try. Someone with such talent can’t be left down in the Minors for long but as long as Ethier and Crawford are there and the 40 Man Roster currently full then Joc will continue to be down there….At least for this season.

I-5 Bias: 2014 Freeway Series

i-5-bias-blog-medium  That’s right! It’s about that time we show a little bias. Tonight is the start of the yearly meeting between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Anaheim Angels which we dub “The Freeway Series”. Some houses will be divided and friends will be foes when these two teams clash for 4 games. This also means something very special and that’s the return of I-5 Bias! Incase you’re knew to this or forgot about us then here’s how it works. A series of questions are answered in regards to the Dodgers and Angels as well as other baseball related topics about the two. Now I know you’re wondering who’s behind the Angels side of things? A good friend of the blog Kristen, who is a die hard Angels fan and runs a great blog This is a very simple game and I chat to talk Angels and Dodgers baseball and bring it to out blogs for you the readers to view. Today’s edition we talk about The Dodgers and Angels stellar play, Freeway Series, The West Coast Attention in Baseball, the Dodgers TV issue and Predict This week’s Freeway Series. If you have any questions that you want to ask us then please feel free to ask as we accept All Questions. So without further or due I bring to you. I-5 Bias!

 

 

The Angels and Dodgers both find themselves as strong playoff contenders in heated division races that are likely to come down to the wire. What has impressed you about both squads this season? What do you think of their chances in the postseason?

Matt: Well with the Dodgers I would have to say what impressed me about them is their starting pitching rotation. Having Kershaw Greinke and Ryu pitching is dangerous and always set the Dodgers up to win but now you have (Had) Beckett when he’s on it. The offensive serge that the Dodgers are on is really helping them as well. Even though the Dodgers got off to a really slow start it seems like they’re starting to find their groove and at the right time too. After sweeping the Giants and Braves they’re making it known that they are starting to get their groove and when they’re on a role then they’re a very dangerous team.

As far as the Angels I think they finally have their complete game finally figured out. They’re absolutely deadly with their bats and they managed to make some moves to improve their bullpen especially with the addition of Hudson Street, Joe Thatcher, and Jason Grilli. What impressed me more is how Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and Erick Aybar are hitting with Mike Trout as well as the impressive play of Kole Calhoun. I think they’ve finally made themselves known as a legit World Series Contender.

Kristen: The Angels offense makes me giddy. They’ve been so hit and miss – pun most assuredly intended – these last few seasons, especially for having so much potential. But this season? Wow!! And it isn’t just the usual suspects – of course Mike Trout, etc., have been impressive, but so have Howie Kendrick, Kole Calhoun and Erick Aybar. It’s nice to feel spoiled with hitting again. The starting rotation is not as impressive as it’s been in years past, but they’re getting it done and I am impressed with the way Garrett Richards has really come into his own this year. But even more than all of that, I love the guys’ fight. Walk off wins, come from behind wins and, yes, plenty of decisive wins as well – this season it feels like the Angels have the fight and the drive to pull a win from just about anything.

I know there’s been some scoffing about the Angels chances in the postseason because the team doesn’t have the world beating pitching they’ve had in years past and, “as everyone knows” pitching wins championships. But, I have to say, the pitching is getting it done and in that scenario I actually think that the ability to fight for the win in close games is at least as important. And if you’ve ever followed this blog, you know that’s about as far as I will ever go in terms of making postseason predictions. I feel like there really is something to the old cliché about taking them one game at a time and, also, perhaps there’s a bit of superstition there for me as well.

As for the Dodgers, oddly enough I feel like I don’t know much about the team this season other than their strong record, and obvious highlights like Kershaw and Beckett’s no-hitters. In a normal season, Seth and I tune in to other games before each Angels game starts and after it finishes, frequently the Dodgers, although other AL West games feature highly as well. With nary a borrowed-from-the-original-minor-league-Angels LA logo in sight on TV most nights, I haven’t been able to follow the team.

 

August is unusually late in the season for the Freeway Series – normally we’re writing this column in June! What are your feelings on Interleague match ups this late in the season, just as the postseason races are really heating up?

Kristen: When the new schedule debuted, I thought I would hate having interleague play throughout the season, but as it turns out I don’t mind it. As long as we have interleague play – and I am one of the oddballs that actually looks forward to these unusual matchups, a baseball DC/Marvel crossover comic if you will – when we have it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference in the way the teams perform. And here’s the thing, even before the current interleague format, September wasn’t strictly reserved for divisional play anyway and, depending on how the season goes, and doubly so the moment the wild card came into play, it isn’t a given that the most exciting end of season games will be divisional games. As for the Freeway Series, specifically, happening in August? I think this is the best Freeway matchup we SoCal baseball fans have seen in years and, to me, having the games mean so much on top of it just makes it feel like one of those series I’m going to wind up describing as a privilege to watch. What’s the downside?

Matt: It’s really interesting but at the same time out of place. We’re usually seeing interleague teams as early as late May and now it’s all over the place. How ever I do believe with rivalries like the Freeway series being this late in the season it put more at steak. Right now you have two teams in the southland and down the I-5 from each other battling for their division and this game will have a lot on the line in terms of Postseason positioning. If you had a game like for example the Tigers against the Cardinals at this point of the season and both teams were in division races then the causal baseball/Sports fan would be attracted to this. At the same time it takes away the meaning of planning your summer seeing teams from the other league that you usually don’t see as much so I guess you can say I have mixed feeling about it. It has it’s positives and negatives.

 

What key players/match ups should fans watch for in this year’s Freeway Series?

Matt: Well as far as key players for the Dodgers (Not Named Yasiel Puig haha) one would have to be Matt Kemp. Kemp has been on an absolute tear as of late with the bat since the “drama” towards the trade deadline. Kemp been hampered with injuries left and right and I think he’s starting to come around now (.386 BA Post All-Star break). Another key player to keep an eye on for Los Angeles Hyun Jin Ryu. Ryu, Who is predicted to be in the rotation during the series, is one of those pitchers where they give up a lot of hits but once he’s locked in then he’s on it. Why I have Ryu up here as a key player? Because as of last season (Rookie season) the Angels are batting .065 against him and if he can repeat his performance from their last meeting then it could be a long night for Anaheim. As far as Match-ups It would have to be the Dodgers starting pitching rotation against the Angels line-up. Monday and Tuesday being Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw this will be the first time the Angels see the two Post All-star break and with the game at Dodger Stadium (NL Park) it’ll be very interesting to see what line-up Scioscia puts out there. Then comes the games at Angels Stadium and the DH in effect you’ll have the struggling Dan Haren and Hyun Jin Ryu facing the Angels with their dangerous offense. I think that’ll be the key because you have one of Baseball’s best offenses in the Angels taking on one of baseball’s best pitching rotation in the Dodgers.

Kristen: Well, there’s this young kid called Mike Trout, and I understand he’s pretty fun to watch. ;) I know, I know. Dodgers fans – and everyone else! – are already well aware. But you may not be as aware of the combination of Trout and Calhoun. They’re brilliant together in the outfield and a blast – often quit literally – to watch hit back to back in the lineup. I realize that my defensive bias is showing a bit here – this chick thinks homeruns are very nice indeed, but what she really digs is a perfectly executed 4-6-3 – but I will never tire of watching the fielding combination of Aybar, Kendrick and Albert Pujols. As for pitching matchups, I am most excited about Richards vs. Zack Greinke at the first game.

 

As you are probably aware, Time Warner and a number of cable providers are currently in a huge standoff over SportsNet LA, which controls the Dodgers’ TV rights, with the result that 70% of the Los Angeles Market is without Dodger games. As baseball fans and sports fans what are your thoughts on this issue and is this becoming a growing issue in sports television?

Kristen: As a fan of the game, this is such utter bullshit. I don’t usually swear on this blog, but let’s call a spade a spade. And, yes, I do see this as a growing problem in sports, not just in this sport. I think it really comes down to a question of what do teams owe their fans? The financial perks of lucrative, exclusive TV deals cannot be denied and often, though certainly not always, those benefits are reflected in the quality of the team the owners are able to put on the field. But if the fans can’t afford to see that team play? Or, as in this case, can’t have access to see them play even if they can afford it? Quite simply you have not done right by the fans. TV deal money needs to be balanced against fan access. If your team goes all the way to the playoffs and you don’t get to watch them until October, does the victory still count? Absolutely. But unless you were able to jump up and down in your living room or at your local sports bar with friends, family and even random strangers for all of those key moments throughout the season, there is no way that victory tastes as sweet.

At the risk of being very long winded – I know, too late! – seasons like this Dodgers season make baseball fans, and I’m not talking about fair weather and bandwagon fans. No, I’m talking about the children of adult fans who grow up with the memory of a magical season, of the year their parents let them stay up late all summer just to watch the games because the team was that good, of the time they got to see their unshakable grandfather shed tears of joy over a long hoped for playoff berth…you know the kind of season I’m talking about because, if you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re a baseball fan and largely because of memories just like these. I know that’s my story. Now, what if that magical season, the season, wasn’t broadcast on television where you could see it? Managers and GMs are always talking about the need to consider the bottom line importance of the intangibles. I think owners need to keep them in mind as well.

Matt: I think this whole thing is outrageous. You have a 70% of fans who can’t watch a game in their local market because cable companies don’t see eye to eye with each other on what price to pay to carry a channel? I think if you look or pay attention to this whole issue you have to say all parties involved are responsible. The Dodgers because they knew that when they took this deal the potential for fans not to see their team play and the Cable companies because all they’re doing more finger pointing than working to reach a possible deal for the people. For me I’m getting by just fine attending games and listening on radio but it would be better to actually get this channel that I’ve heard about. This is really becoming a growing issue in sports because it’s becoming about the money more than the fans being able to see their team play on TV. I mean you have the Pac-12 Network and their ongoing issue with DirecTV where people can’t see certain college games. You also had the issue with the Lakers channel when they moved to Time Warner and most of the market couldn’t see Laker games until three weeks into the season. I can list more examples but I think the readers get my point haha. Point being that while the money being pumped into a franchise to pay the players that can help and having their own network but at what price are fans paying? I think franchises should at least think about those who put the money into their pockets.

 

We joke about our I-5 bias, but the truth is that baseball has taken a huge shift out West. The Dodgers and Giants are battling it out for control of the NL West in a race where the loser is mostly likely to head to the playoffs anyway as a wild card team. The A’s and Angels currently hold the best records in baseball and are locked in a similar race in the AL West. In the AL, there’s even a chance that both wild card teams could come out of the AL West if the Mariners go on a tear. Would you say that having this many West Coast teams in such tight races is good for MLB?

Matt: Two years ago when we first did I-5 Bias I said that baseball’s power shift was swinging out west. Here we are with 5 teams out west gunning for the Postseason (Sorry Padres and Diamondbacks). The Dodgers, Giants, Angels, and A’s are making playoffs baring any big big collapse and the Mariners are right there in the thick of the wild card race. Yes this is great for the MLB right now because for once all the attention is out here. I think Baseball media’s east coast (And Midwest) bias is finally realizing that the excitement is really in the AL and NL West as well as the Wild Card races. To think this all triggered with the spending of the Angels, the ownership change with the Dodgers, the out of nowhere push of the A’s, the Giants as hard for me to say and now Robinson Cano and the Mariners. This is what we’ve been waiting for.

Kristen: Tight baseball races going down to the wire make for a great season for everyone, plain and simple. It doesn’t matter what division they occur in – though, this is definitely a case of the more the merrier. There’s a reason that, when I Google “the best night in baseball ever,” every single reference on the first page is to September 28, 2011. I didn’t even have a team still in the running at that point and I still agree with that title. As far as the West Coast more or less owning the wild card race this season, I’d say it’s a definite improvement over the idea that the then one wild card spot would almost certainly go to the second place East Coast team, and one step closer to true competitive parity, where those wild card berths are hotly contested across all divisions right up until the end. Because as much as I love my West Coast teams, I think that would be the most fun for baseball fans in general.

 

Care to make any Freeway Series predictions?

Kristen: I hate predictions! *cue Stevie Wonder’s Superstition* But in this case I always make an exception because it’s the done thing. When the series was 6 games, I always came down in favor of my Angels because, well, history. Yes, I said it. Cope. But with only four games and the Angels once again down a key starting pitcher (C.J. Wilson came off the DL just in time for Tyler Skaggs to go on it), I predict the Angels and Dodgers will split the series.

Matt: I know I may sound biased here but I am indeed very realistic with this. I believe the Dodgers will take 3 of 4 in the Freeway series. The Dodgers have been playing very good baseball as of late during the past 8-9 games. Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, and Yasiel Puig to name a few have been hitting pretty well after the All-Star break and the Dodgers pitching rotation falls into their favor especially against a team like the Angels. Also the Dodgers hold a good but slim lead over the Giants and they can’t afford to allow that lead to trim especially at this point of the season. The Angels on the other hand have been struggling on offense as of late and headed into the series with the Dodgers against that pitching staff is really something that Anaheim can’t afford to do. They’ll also be without Tyler Skaggs who has been pitching pretty well for them. Now honestly it could go either way and CAN even be a split like last season but I think the writing is on the wall for the Dodgers to take the series over their interleague rivals.

 

Dodgers Standing Pat At The Trade Deadline

ned

Dodgers GM Ned Colletti stood pat yesterday but that doesn’t mean he DIDN’T Try to make a move.

The trade deadline as come and gone. Teams like the Tigers, A’s, and Cardinals managed to make some trades to improve their team while the Red Sox retooled their roster for 2015. As for the Los Angeles Dodgers? They ended up standing pat during the trade deadline. Yes the Dodgers did not make a move yesterday though they pushed hard to get more pitching help for the back end of the rotation and bullpen. Los Angeles was linked to pitchers John Lackey and Andrew Miller from Boston and Joaquin Benoit from San Diego but the prices were either too much for the Dodgers or other teams outbid the Dodgers offering what the selling teams wanted. Leading up to the trade deadline it was reported that the Dodgers were in on elite pitchers like John Lester, David Price, and Cole Hamels as well as potentially trading Outfielder Matt Kemp. As days went GM Ned Colletti stated that Matt Kemp wasn’t going to be traded and the Dodgers didn’t want to part with their top prospects which meant they were likely out of grabbing an elite pitcher. Well Lester ended up being traded to the A’s while the Phillies took Hamels off the market. David Price on the other hand? The Dodgers and Rays did talk but Tampa Bay ended up trading Price to the Tigers in a three team trade.

I’m know many Dodger fans were thinking that the GM Ned Colletti would make an aggressive push to strengthen the pitching staff and yesterday that wasn’t the case. One thing for sure you can’t fault him for not trying to do anything. Dodgers were indeed in on a lot of pitchers yet the prices were too steep for the Dodgers to pull the trigger. Ned Colletti talked about keeping Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, and Julio Urias and was a man of his word. Yes the Dodgers are a team that’s built to win right now and could use the help but the Dodgers do want to contend for many more years to come and not just this season which I didn’t have an issue with. Something I do question is how aggressive the Dodgers were on getting help for the back end of the starting rotation. Dan Haren and now Josh Beckett have been struggling and I question how they can hold up going forward. Guys like Ian Kennedy for example were out there and I felt the Dodgers could’ve made a tougher push for that. Bullpen helped ended up becoming steep as well. Dodgers kicked the tires on Joaquin Benoit and just couldn’t get the Padres to drop the price that they were asking (NL West premium price).

Sometimes the best deals are the ones that aren’t made. Los Angeles as of today have won 6 straight games and hold a 3.5 game lead over the Giants in the NL West. They’re on a role so we will see what happens as time goes. The speculation however is not done because there’s still the Waiver wire deadline where pretty impactful deals. Remember the Dodgers made that HUGE blockbuster deal to get Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Nick Punto, and Josh Beckett. It’s been mentioned that Carl Crawford could be shopped this month but we’ll see what happens come that time. For now let’s enjoy the play of the Dodgers as they make their push towards October and push towards winning the World Series.

Dodgers NL Postseason Race

image   At 56-46 the Dodgers find themselves in a heated divisional race with their rivals from the Bay in the San Fransisco Giants. As things stand the Dodgers are a game back of the Giants but how the way things been playing out that could change in an instant. Now not only are the Dodgers in a fight for the division but they’re in a fight for their postseason lives as well. Right now the NL has at least 8 teams in division races and if you don’t count the teams that’s already in first place in their respective division then that’s 5 teams battling for the wild card spot. Yes the NL is that deep and that close together right now where the margin for error is not that great.

For the Dodgers this will be a big challenge for them because they have to hold on to a possible Wild Card Birth while fighting for the NL West with the Giants. We all know Los Angeles want the division but they’ll have to play more consistent baseball if they want that to happen. Right now their schedule is a very tough one but can also help the Dodgers out a lot. This weekend they have a very crucial series with the Giants that could really swing momentum in the NL West race between the two teams. It gets tougher after that because the Dodgers return home to kickoff their home stand in a 3 game series with the Atlanta Braves who are also in a race with the Washington Nationals in the NL East as well as in a Wild Card Battle with the Dodgers, Cardinals, and Reds. The schedule isn’t going to get any easier for the Dodgers as they face their Rival from up the 5 Freeway and AL in the Angels, The Braves in Atlanta and the Brewers in Milwaukee and Los Angeles. Talk about brutal.

As of late the Dodgers have been pretty inconsistent yet still find themselves right in it. You have this sense that with the talent the Dodgers have that they will click and get it together anytime now. There’s no doubt the Dodgers really do need help in the bullpen and need an effective 5 Starter due to the struggles of Dan Haren. Lets not forget the offense could use a little help and the ongoing drama with Matt Kemp and the Outfield positioning. One thing is certain and that’s that the Dodgers need a huge spark/pick me up to get it going and whether it’s a big trade or building a few wins or calling up a top prospect (Joc Petersen?) but this team needs to get it going and at least show some fire. Many fans are wondering what happened to the Dodgers that showed fire from last season? They also need everyone healthy. They have Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez both hurt from their series with the Cardinals but Puig will likely play tonight while Hanley likely will be headed to the DL. Many think the Dodgers are reeling and the older roster is hurting them yet they’re still in a great spot. This upcoming series with the Giants favors them when it comes to the pitching and Giants have been struggling as of late so this is a great chance for L.A. to get it going. If not then what will that say for the Dodgers? The NL Postseason race is hot right now and as close as it is for the boys in blue this will either light a fire under them or break them.

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