It’s finally here. Opening Day has finally made its way. Congratulations! Go on and pat yourself on the back because you survived Winter Meetings and the Crazy Off-Season, The long number of days without baseball (Unless you followed the Fall Rookie Leagues and the Winter Leagues), and you managed to get through Spring Training. We have made to the games that really count. Every year we get something different that doesn’t fail to surprise us. How many saw Orlando Hudson’s Cycle in 2009 against the Giants? What about Clayton Kershaw’s Home Run and complete game in 2013? Dodger Stadium’s 50th Anniversary? So many great moments that happens on this day.
As many of you go to the Stadium, or probably left, I remind you to be prepared for the madness that will take place around the Stadium. This year the Dodgers and LAPD restricted tailgating at Elysian Park. Whether that will TRULY be enforced or not remains to be the biggest mystery of them all. Also make sure you bought advanced parking as the Dodgers increased the parking to $20 this season. If you don’t want to drive then you can take public transportation to the Stadium. It’s less of a hassle and cheap. You can take the Dodger Stadium express from Union Station which drops you off in front of the Pavilions and Top Deck. If you live in the South Bay area then for the first time this season you can take Dodger Stadium Express from Harbor Gateway Center straight to Dodger Stadium and back. Each are free with a game ticket and you don’t have to sit in traffic. It’ll be a Sold Out game so be prepared and get there early.
This season will be very interesting because the Dodgers will be fielding a completely different team. Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins will be turning double plays after many years facing the Dodgers (Howie with the Angels and Rollins with the Phillies). Joc Pederson will likely be opening the season with Yasiel Puig, who didn’t start last year after being late. One of the
biggest things will be Matt Kemp facing against the Dodgers with his new team San Diego which is going to be a sight to see for many fans. Dodgers are the favorites to win the NL West but they will have their hands full with the Giants defending their World Series title (Ugh) and the Padres loading up their roster to make a run at the Postseason. Los Angeles will have their hands full this season but we can expect the team to be ready to play.
This year will be special and the Dodgers will look to get off on the right foot against a loaded Padres team. Whether you’re attending or watching at home or the bar, Take the time to embrace that Baseball is back! If you’re attending I ask for you to be safe and responsible. No drunk driving as there are many forms of transportation to and from the stadium and please don’t get kicked out of the Stadium.
Another season is days away. The Dodgers have a new look and looking to make a push towards bringing home a World Series for the first time since 1988. While the team is getting ready for Opening Day, 70% of the Los Angeles market continues to be blacked out from watching Dodger games on TV. For another season Time Warner Cable and other cable providers such as Dish and DirecTV will not be carrying Sportsnet LA and at this point won’t be carrying it anytime soon. Many thought a deal would come soon but now it has gotten to the point where it’s be recommended for people to switch providers in order to see their team play this season. Dodger fans without Time Warner are outraged and simply switching providers or doing absolutely noting yet. This situation has become a pretty ugly one and I’m honestly not surprised anymore at this outcome nor care anymore.
Last year I thought it was pretty sad that the Dodgers took a deal that would have majority of the market blacked out from watching Dodger games and I still feel that way. However I managed to get over it and found ways to watch/listen to games with no complaints. I also figured that Time Warner would come to an agreement soon to allow many to watch the Dodgers on TV once again but apparently that wasn’t going to happen. Let me put it to you like this, The chances of DirecTV and Dish to get Sportsnet have grown slimmer and slimmer and it look like the only people who do care are the fans. FCC hasn’t had much success to bring the two parties together to strike a deal, MLB isn’t getting involved at all, and the Dodgers won’t be doing anything anytime soon. So if any of the major parties won’t help or do anything about this then why should everyone get bent out of shape over it? In a day and age where you have Apps designed with radio and internet with streams of games, there are ways to watch games. Yes it’s not fair that you have to go through the hassle of finding streams to watch games or listen to radio broadcasts but at this point do you have a choice? I mean the options to do something about it isn’t that great and do have a backlash.
“I’m switching Cable Providers!” Okay I understand why you would do this but think about it for a second here. If you have DirecTV or Dish what’s the point of switching to a different cable provider for ONE channel? Yeah you’ll get to see the Dodgers but if you have a good deal with one cable provider (And in my opinion better than TWC especially if you have DirecTV) Why switch? Because they don’t have one channel? At least have a legit reason other than wanting to watch the Dodgers because you won’t be watching Sportsnet All day every day.
“Let’s Boycott Games” Now this I feel is a dumb way to send a message. Why? Because this would be sending a message to the wrong people. While the Dodgers did indeed sign the deal, Lets not act as if we really didn’t think about this happening. Yes the Dodgers should’ve thought about the number of fans in their market but when you’re making a business decision then the thought of fans isn’t really in mind. Dodgers were gearing to do this since new ownership took over. I believe that was announced since day one. Trying to have an empty stadium really won’t do much at all because folks already bought tickets and will continue to buy to see their team play since they can’t watch on TV. Blackout=ticket sales and that has shown.
Overall the Dodgers and Time Warner made their bed and now they have to lay in it. As fans only thing we can do is request the channel, cuss out the cable companies, and watch games via streaming and radio apps. Do we want our Dodgers on TV? Yes we do but I mean honestly we can’t be surprised that this is going on right?
This maybe outside the usual Baseball/Dodgers talk that I usually post on here but I wanted to break away from that and talk about something that relates to the Dodgers as well as Los Angeles. With Super Bowl Sunday on the way (Or here depending on when this was posted or when you started reading this) I figured I touch on something that has Los Angeles buzzing for a few months. For about 20 years Los Angeles has been without a NFL franchise for years there has been rumors that a team would move yet nothing came to light. Through 2014 and the start of 2015 the rumblings of a NFL team moving to Los Angeles has gotten louder and louder to the point where a Stadium over in Inglewood that’s being funded by St Louis Rams Owner Stan Kroenke (Dodger fans may have heard his name before) will be voted on in June for approval to move forward with building the 80,000 Seat Stadium. 2015 No team will be moving to Los Angeles but what about 2016. Well from the looks of it to me it’s about a 85% chance that a team comes to Los Angeles next year but the key question will be where and how does this relate to the Dodgers? When a team comes to L.A. they’ll have to play at a temporary site until a new State of the Art Stadium is built for them. Two of the obvious choices are the Rose Bowl in Pasadena and the Los Angeles Coliseum but for the last 4 months there has been another location that’s in play to be a temporary location for an NFL team. That location is non other than Dodger Stadium. It’s no secret that the NFL loves Chavez Ravine and since the late 1990’s there’s been efforts to build a stadium next to the Stadium. While those efforts failed before it hasn’t stopped the NFL from looking. Recently a picture has surfaced of what appeared to be a layout of Dodger Stadium with a Football field there which brought even more speculation to a NFL return to L.A. and a team inside of Dodger Stadium. Recently there’s been a host of events outside of baseball at Dodger Stadium but never Football of any stature. I know many Baseball fans are screaming No at the possibility of this happening and others a trying to figure out why would the choose Dodger Stadium over the Rose Bowl or Coliseum? There are plenty of reasons why and they actually make logical sense too. Dodger Stadium is the biggest Baseball stadium and seats about 56,000 while the Rose Bowl and Coliseum seats over 90,000 so the two may seem like an attractive choice over Dodger Stadium but there are concerns about filling up a good portion of the stadium maybe it being too big to fill up. With Dodger Stadium the seats would be good enough to fill up on a weekly basis. Location is also something to bring up as well. Although we’re speaking on temporary sites Dodger Stadium is a very ideal location for the NFL. Dodger Stadium is right there in Los Angeles and has amazing views from the top of the ravine with the mountains behind Left and Right Field and the Los Angeles Skyline behind top deck. It’s also between 4 different freeways and has Public transportation line that reaches from Union Station and from the South Bay area as well. I can’t say it can handle traffic for a fact but it’s accessible for many people. Not to mention ample of room for tailgating. Rose Bowl also has ample of room but there are questions about the city of Pasadena and residents (I could be wrong) wanting to deal with an extra day of Football (UCLA on Saturdays) and the Coliseum lacks parking and room to tailgate (USC Campus would likely be closed off for NFL would be my guess). Let’s not forget the renovations Dodger Stadium underwent which makes it very attractive for an NFL team and has a lot of things an NFL team could have for in a state of the art stadium despite being 53 years old. Rose Bowl also is NFL ready while the Coliseum still needs to be worked on. Something else that’s been mentioned is the possibility of two teams coming to Los Angeles so it could be possible that one team plays in Pasadena while the other plays at Dodger Stadium.
With all of this talk how does this work and why would they allow this? NFL season usually starts whenMLB is right in the heat of things and could conflict with the Dodgers. Not to mention Dodger Stadium has never hosted football so a football field wouldn’t actually fit in the Stadium. Well I can refute these things right here myself.MLB usuallyannounces is schedule in Early to mid November. This will give the NFL and Dodger Stadium time to workout the NFL weekly schedule, Field worked on, and other stuff. O.co Oakland is the only stadium that holds a NFL andMLB team
and if anything they’ve made it work for years. I don’t think Dodger Stadium would have trouble working this out for two years that they house a team. While it’s true Dodger Stadium never hosted football before it doesn’t mean they can’t place a field in there. In August of 2013 the Stadium hosted a soccer double header. Soccer fields are generally bigger than football fields length and width wise. In the picture that surfaced earlier in the week it shows the field stretching from home plate to the outfield walls but in a picture that was tweeted months ago when it was said that Dodger Stadium was in play another picture showed that a football field would that way inside of the stadium. When soccer was hosted the field ran from the Dodgers dugout to the right field foul pole (Pictured on the right). To me that is the most ideal way to place a field inside of the stadium. logically it makes a lot of sense for many reasons, mainly size. It can be done but it’s just a matter of will they be willing to even do it? Back to the question I’m sure everyone will be asking. Why would this be allowed? Well Dodger Stadium usually hosts baseball from March to September if you don’t count postseason. If you do then till October but after that then what? Guggenheim, Who own the Los Angeles Dodgers, always look for events to host outside of baseball. NHL and Soccer has done it as well as concerts which meant more money for the group at Dodger Stadium and more work hours for vendors and ushers as well. NFL being at Dodger Stadium means more usage and more hours for work which I’m sure everyone can use. Guggenheim would welcome the NFL at Dodger Stadium if it means more games that runs into January. Also maybe the potential that Magic Johnson and Guggenheim buying a share of an NFL franchise? I doubt it’ll happen but who knows.
The NFL is making it’s return to Los Angeles one way or another. The writings on the wall for a return in 2016 especially with the League doing the frame-work on L.A. We may not know for sure where a brand new state of the art stadium will be yet but the temporary sites is now between the Rose Bowl, Coliseum, and Dodger Stadium. To me I think the NFL loves Dodger Stadium but a lot of thing have to be worked out before that can even happen. I’m only speaking from my point of view and what’s out there. I’ll leave it up to you guys to draw your own conclusions. All I can say and be prepared for the NFL to finally make its way Los Angeles and Dodger Stadium (Until 2018 that is).
There hasn’t been much news with the Dodgers lately since they made the huge trades during Winter Meetings but folks are still talking and wondering about this team and with Spring Training on the Horizon the roster is looking pretty interesting. For the past two seasons this team as been filled with star players and were always looked to be that team to win the World Series. However the Dodgers couldn’t really get it done in the postseason despite taking the Division two straight seasons in a row. In come a brand new front office with a different way of winning now. The overhaul was underway. Players such as Hanley Ramirez (Signed with Boston) signed else where via Free Agency and others like Matt Kemp and Dee Gordon were traded to fill other needs or restock the farm system. The Dodgers did make some solid moves to improve in different areas by acquiring Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins which improved the Infield defensively and add Bullpen pieces such as Joel Peralta and Joe Wieland. Many believed the Dodgers would open their check books and spend but actually went to shed salary and work through trades. Some see what the Dodgers did and believe that they actually did a great job but others are questioning why the Dodgers made these moves and if it will even work. I am actually in the group of those who believe this just might work…Wait what?
The new front office of Andrew Friedman, GM Farhan Zaidi, and Josh Byrnes came in knowing there was a few areas they had to improve the team on the field and in the clubhouse. On the field the Dodgers had to improve the Bullpen, infield defense, offensive production, and help out the starting pitching, Oh and figure out the outfield log jam. They managed to solve that all within a month with the help of some information they had and the “Moneyball” logic. Starting at the bullpen which was the Dodgers biggest area of need. Last year the bullpen was filled with pitchers that added more fuel to the fire and you could say that put more pressure on the Dodgers starting pitchers to pitch 6-7 innings a game. Dodgers went out to sign BULLPEN guys like Peralta as well as acquire pitchers via trade (Joe Wieland/Chris Hatcher/Juan Nicasio). Not to mention Los Angeles releasing guys like Brian Wilson, who had a difficult 2014 season. Many may think the Dodgers didn’t address their bullpen need when in reality they were all over it. The Dodgers also looked at improving defensively as well and really went to work at doing so. Last year the Dodgers committed 107 errors which was 2nd in the National League (Pirates led with 109). If you watched the team last year it seemed like they made a lot more errors than 107. You know something had to be done and the Dodgers did just that. Instead of opening the breaking the bank on Hanley and giving him a long term deal the Dodgers allowed him to walk and sign with Boston leaving a hole at Shortstop. So what did the Dodgers do? Instead of going out and signing a Shortstop to fill the need or calling up one of their prospects they went out and traded for Jimmy Rollins. Rollins is seen as a huge upgrade defensively over Hanley, Last season Rollins lead the National League in fielding percentage among at .988. He also committed only 7 errors and 64 Double Plays. Just when we though the Dodgers infield was set another move was made that saw Dee Gordon and Miguel Rojas traded to the Miami Marlins for Prospects and Chris Hatcher. Then the Dodgers turn around and trade Andrew Heaney to the Angels for 2nd Baseman Howie Kendrick who was coming off a pretty solid season. Howie is also another upgrade to the middle infield. Kendrick is a very confident fielder who had a percentage of .984 to Gordon’s .981. Where the difference lies defensively is within the Defensive WAR where Howie last season had a Defensive WAR of 1.4 to Gordon’s -0.3. Speaking of defensive WAR the Dodgers cleaned up defensively in the outfield and cleared up a Outfield log jam (Kinda) and address a need at another position. Through off-season last year and through the season Matt Kemp’s name has been in trade talks. Kemp was moved from his natural Center Field position to Left to improve the team defensively in the outfield and then from Left Field to Right where Kemp picked it up in the 2nd half of the season. Dodgers finally pulled the trigger on trading Matt Kemp to the San Diego Padres for Catcher Yasmani Grandal, Pitcher Joe Wieland, and prospects. Yasmani Grandal may not be worth a what the Dodgers gave up nor look to be an upgrade defensively but when you break things down Grandal may actually be what the Dodgers need. Yasmani Grandal creates more strikes for pitchers and through his career is one of the best pitch framers where AJ Ellis is one of the worst through his career. The more strikes the Dodgers can get the more outs the Dodgers will have. Let’s not forget the two starting pitchers the Dodgers signed in Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson who ERA wise may not be that attractive but their ability to produce a high rate of ground balls. So how does all this tie in? The high amount ground balls to Howie and Rollins means more double plays and/or outs (Also the low amount of errors) also a higher strike rate with Grandal behind the plate. When the Postseason rolls around where the strike zones become tighter and pitching is more important the Dodgers will have an advantage with their defense.
Okay so defensively the Dodgers look to be better but what about with the Bats? Well offensive production was also another thing the Dodgers front office wanted to improve on. Last season Los Angeles was one of the best offensive teams in the National League with a team Batting average of .265 as well as 2nd in runs. However their big Achilles heel was Batting with Runners in Scoring Position (RISP). Also the team lacked plate discipline and would swing at a lot of pitches outside the Zone which hurt them in the Playoffs for two straight seasons. The additions the Dodgers made will now feature players who are more patient at the plate and more effective with runners in scoring position. Dodgers last year batted a league best .289 with RISP but come postseason batted .195. You add that with poor plate discipline equaled the offensive woes which was part of the reason why they were eliminated by the Cardinals last season. The moves the Dodgers made just may have made them much more effective offensively. How you might ask? Let’s start with plate discipline. Most of The Dodgers seemed like they were very antsy to swing which lead to a high rate of swings outside the strike zone opposed to taking pitches. Jimmy Rollins, who is projected to likely be a lead off guy in L.A., Just may have the patience that Dee Gordon was lacking. Jimmy take’s about 26.8% hacks outside the Zone last season and only 59.1% of the first pitches are strikes which is currently the 4th lowest on the Team. Rollins will take pitches and has a low strike out swinging percentage last season which is perfect for a lead off man. Rollins, Kendrick, and Grandal’s ability to layoff the outside pitches allows them see more pitches inside the strike Zone (Howie: 45.7%/Jimmy: 44%/Grandal: 42.1% in 2014) and the more pitches they see in the strike zone the higher chance they have at making contact. So where does batting with RISP play into all this? Well when you look at just Howie Kendrick it means a lot to the Dodgers. Last season Kendrick batted .326 with Runners in scoring position. That’s batting in the 4 spot with Kole Calhoun, Mike Trout, and Albert Pujols ahead of him. Kendrick batted .293 last season and is known to really drive the ball into the gaps which is enough for extra bases. (Hit for 13 Extra base hits in 2014). Howie with Rollins/Puig and maybe even Gonzalez on base could really produce for the Dodgers. Los Angeles already had a high rate of runs scored and high average with RISP but the way the Dodgers line up was constructed would fit better in the American League where there’s a DH and a hitters heavy league opposed to the NL where small ball and pitching is key. Plus when playoffs roll around and the Dodgers find themselves there they can pick teams apart, get men on base, and cash in much more effectively with Runners in Scoring Position. Look at the San Francisco Giants and the St Louis Cardinals and how they manage to get on base and just pick teams apart. Dodgers could very well be the team that may not look that scary on paper but can strike when it counts.
So on the field the front office used SABR Metrics and stats to work on improving the team. A huge roster overhaul at that. But there has to be more behind the moves. Well in the Clubhouse the Dodgers needed to clean things up. While on the outside we seen the team dance and joke and cut bubble machines on after every home run inside the clubhouse was a different story. The Dodgers had no true leadership where one voice caught the ear of the 25 man roster. When the trade for Jimmy Rollins was made the Dodgers got a guy who can step up and be a leader on the field and in the clubhouse. Rollins has the respect of every player on the roster and has been there before. This also has a benefit for Don Mattingly and his job as well. While Mattingly has managed the team to a better and better record each season he would also have to manage egos of a star-studded team. At times it was more of him managing egos in the clubhouse than games. That was also part of the reason why Matt Kemp was traded, why they let Hanley walk, released Wilson, and Likely see Ethier on the move soon. Mattingly can manage a team instead of managing egos as apart of managing the team. Mattingly can also play the game by numbers with the front office giving him the players that could play things into his hand as well as going to the bullpen with some trust. I know many feel the Dodgers took a step back with the trades and lack of spending that we’ve seen two-three seasons but if you take a closer look the Dodgers maybe that team that could finally get over the hump and do it effectively. The pitching is there, defense is there, offensively they look better on paper and in the clubhouse they finally have a leader that will speak up. Only time will tell if this is the perfect model. This also plays into the Dodgers hand for the future. Not only do they shed salary but this sets the Dodgers up for the next few years as Los Angeles has some high prospects that are likely to be up in the Majors in the next year or 2. So while the Dodgers are in Win Now mode they’re also in Win they year after that and the year after that and the next year after.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.