All the young dudes

The 2020 Zips projections are out and as suspected the Dodgers have a bevy of talent fighting for five rotation spots. With Ryu gone the rotation isn’t ideal but it is basically the same type of rotation that they have taken into every season since Friedman became President with the difference this year is that three of the four pitchers vying for the final two rotation spots are young starters instead of the usual one or none.

It took a long time for the one-time teenage phenom Urias to finally claim a full-time rotation piece, but his time his now, and it is very possible that by the end of the year, Urias will be the best lefthander in the Dodger rotation. The Dodgers have been tied to the Indians and Mike Clevinger, but they could have their own Mike Clevinger in Dustin May. I wouldn’t be averse to trading the future of May for the now of Clevinger, but I also wouldn’t mind simply seeing what Dustin May can do as a Dodger. Ross Stripling will pitch well when asked to start. He always does, I don’t expect that to change. I don’t know what to make of Tony Gonsolin.

Sure, the Dodgers could use another rotation piece, and I expect with almost 100% certainty that another name will get added to the group vying for the final two spots, but it probably won’t be a name that gets Dodger fans excited. It might simply be Rich Hill, or it might be Rich Hill and another reclamation project. Or, somehow Clevinger is wearing Dodger Blue but that will probably happen this summer instead of this winter.

If we take a look at the 2018 projections we can see the Dodger projected rotation was going to be Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Alex Wood, Rich Hill with Trevor Oaks, Walker Buehler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Wilmer Font, Ross Stripling, and Brock Stewart pulling in starts.  You could understand the confusion over what Ryu would do after missing all of 2016. Ryu didn’t pitch a lot in 2018 but when he pitched, he was one of the best pitchers in baseball. Ross Stripling was an all-star in 2018, but according to Zips was going to be the worse possible option in 2018.  Walker Buehler became the everyday ace of the Dodgers.
The 2018 Dodger team went to the World Series and lost game 7 against a team that cheated and the rotation on Dec, 29th, 2017 was supposed to be Kershaw / Hill / Maeda / Wood with eventual help from Buehler. Ross Stripling was an afterthought just as he seems to be in 2020. How different is that from the projected 2020 rotation right now?

Also, notice the big whiffs on Trevor Oaks and Wilmer Font. Both were traded away before making any starts for the Dodgers, and both didn’t come close to being effective in 2018.

|                 2018 Zips Projections sorted by ERA-                                 |

Player IP ERA FIP ERA- 2018 IP 2018 ERA-
Clayton Kershaw 179 2.46 2.55 59 161 71
Rich Hill 115.7 3.5 3.74 84 131 96
Kenta Maeda 150.7 3.52 3.52 85 107 100
Alex Wood 144.3 3.62 3.68 87 148 95
Walker Buehler 93.7 3.84 3.8 93 136 60
Wilmer Font 126.3 3.92 3.93 95 No LAD Starts No LAD Starts
Trevor Oaks 141 4.09 4.16 99 No LAD Starts No LAD Starts
Hyun-Jin Ryu 112.7 4.15 4.24 100 82 51
Ross Stripling 89.7 4.32 4.22 104 106 88

The Zips 2020 projections for the Dodger rotation are actually optimistic. Every pitcher expected to be part of the rotation is expected to be above average except for Tony Gonsolin.

Player T Age K/9 BB/9 ERA+ ERA-
Clayton Kershaw L 32 9.5 1.7 128 78
Walker Buehler R 25 10.8 2.2 127 79
Kenta Maeda R 32 10.1 2.9 106 94
Dustin May R 22 8.2 2.3 102 98
Rich Hill L 40 10.6 2.9 116 87
Ross Stripling R 30 9 2.1 107 93
Julio Urias L 23 10.2 3.5 106 94
Mitchell White R 25 8.7 3.4 92 109
Josiah Gray R 22 7.5 2.6 84 119
Dennis Santana R 24 9.5 4.4 85 117
Tony Gonsolin R 26 8.7 4 85 118
Leo Crawford L 23 7.5 3.1 82 122
Edwin Uceta R 22 8.6 4.2 78 127

For what it is worth this is what I think. The Dodgers have plenty of arms for 2020, they have plenty of arms to make a trade now, or during the summer but I’d much rather watch one of Urias/May turn into the next Dodger paragraph or at least a “Moment in the Sun” in the updated version of Jon Weisman’s Brother in Arms. If I’m a betting man, I’d be betting on Julio Urias to be that pitcher.

One final note. Josiah Gray is going to eat these projections.

 

 

Hard to beat what the Dodger rotation has done since 2016 but what of 2020?

Below is the list of pitchers since 2016 with at least 50 starts and an ERA+ greater than 130. Dodgers have almost a full rotation on this list even though only fifteen pitchers made the cut. Kershaw hasn’t won a CYA since 2014 but still has the highest ERA+ of anyone on the list. Ryu is the second Dodger on this list, but he just signed with Toronto, the first Dodger free agent I fully expected the Dodgers to re-sign. The cost was high, but he has been one of the best pitchers in baseball for the last two years.  Those not familiar with the Dodgers might be surprised to find that on a per-game basis, Rich Hill has been better than Gerrit Cole at suppressing runs while on the mound. Walker Buehler barely made the cut but he did.

Player               WAR  GS ERA+ From   To   Age
Clayton Kershaw     17.4 102  164 2016 2019 28-31
Max Scherzer        28.0 125  160 2016 2019 31-34
Corey Kluber        19.4 101  153 2016 2019 30-33
Justin Verlander    27.5 135  151 2016 2019 33-36
Jacob deGrom        24.4 119  151 2016 2019 28-31
Hyun-Jin Ryu         8.3  69  145 2016 2019 29-32
Kyle Hendricks      16.2 117  142 2016 2019 26-29
Mike Clevinger      12.7  84  141 2016 2019 25-28
Chris Sale          20.1 116  140 2016 2019 27-30
Stephen Strasburg   18.7 107  136 2016 2019 27-30
Mike Minor          14.4  60  136 2017 2019 29-31
Rich Hill            9.1  82  135 2016 2019 36-39
Zack Greinke        17.7 124  133 2016 2019 32-35
Gerrit Cole         16.3 119  130 2016 2019 25-28
Walker Buehler       5.3  53  130 2017 2019 22-24

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/27/2019.

Headed into 2020 the Dodgers have currently lost two of those four pitchers. Ryu is definitely gone. Rich Hill is still unsigned but even if he signs he won’t be pitching until the middle of summer.

Even with those two gone, the rotation still has plenty of names:

Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Dustin May, Julio Urias, Ross Stripling, Tony Gonsolin are the names left in the hat. As I said, I expected the Dodgers to sign Ryu but with Ryu gone, the Dodgers could use more names in that hat.

I don’t want to trade May or Urias to get another name in that hat unless that name is Mike Clevinger. There are other free agents, pitchers who were injured in 2019 who had prior success.

Dustin Nosler thinks Jeff Nelson should be a target.

Nelson has No. 2-type stuff and has the requisite spin rates on his fastball and curveball the Dodgers like. He’s going to be cheap and could help alleviate some of the concerns in the rotation.

I agree with Dustin on Jimmy Nelson. There are other free-agent targets like Nelson but none with his upside.

Aaron Sanchez, Taijuan Walker, and old friend Alex Wood are intriguing to me. I’ve also always liked Danny Salazar. Paul Sporer of Fangraphs took a look at three of these names. 

Maybe Nick Dika of Fangraphs was a year too early on Aaron Sanchez when he predicted he would be a top 30 pitcher in 2019. He was dead on about Cody Bellinger being the 2019 MVP back in March.

Sanchez’ last two seasons have been completely derailed by finger injuries, managing to log only 141 underwhelming big league innings since 2016. Between blister issues and a freak finger injury in 2017, Sanchez’ right hand hasn’t been fully healthy in two seasons. The last time it was, Sanchez won the American League ERA title. Sanchez’ fastball, curveball and changeup all graded out favorably by Pitch Values in 2016 and with healthy fingers, he should be able to tweak his pitch mix and utilize them effectively once again in 2019.

Oh, did I mention Homer Bailey? Probably not, but the funny side of me would love it if they signed Homer after releasing him and paying him $22 Million to not pitch for them in 2019 while watching him put him exactly league average work as a starter for the Royals and A’s. Homer was shockingly the 50th ranked FA by Fangraphs. The Dodgers still owe him $5 Million in 2020. Good thing they got Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray in that deal. That walk rate while with the A’s was 1.8, the best of his career.

None of these will be necessary if the Dodgers pull off a deal for an established starter. They are still being linked to Mike Clevinger which would be quite a coup to pull him from the Indians, and David Price which would be interesting only if Mookie Betts comes along with him.  I haven’t seen any other rumors involving a trade for a starting pitcher from another team.

It would not surprise me if the Dodgers try a few low-cost free agents and head into the season to see how May/Urias/Gonsolin/Stripling handle the rotation along with the free agents. As usual, they can fill the hole in the rotation if there is one with a trade before the deadline.

Oh, and by August Josiah Gray will probably be ready to show us what he can do.

Saying good-bye to another old friend

I always expected Ryu to resign with the Dodgers so the news that Ryu signed with Toronto was a big surprise for me and it means that for the second year in a row one of my favorite Dodgers will not be wearing the Dodger blue as we head into the next season.

I don’t know if the Dodgers did the right thing or not, for all the words being written about the Dodgers being cheap we simply won’t know until time tells us the answer.  Four years is a long time for a 33 to 36-year-old pitcher with his health history, but I do know that I’m going to miss Ryu.

TrueBlueLA used to do a thing called your favorite five Dodgers. It was always interesting to see the results of this informal poll because most of the time it wasn’t the five best Dodgers, for whatever reason, it was the personal connection that these players had made with the fans.

I expect that headed into the winter of 2018, Yasiel Puig would have been on many a Dodger fans list of Favorite Five, and that Ryu would have been on the same list headed into Oct 2019.

Both Puig and Ryu started their Dodger careers in 2013, and in baseball terms, they had a long run for the same team but I wasn’t really ready to say good-bye to either player. The Dodgers moved Puig and shed some salary while collecting some solid future assets in Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray.  Ryu was simply allowed to leave after almost winning the CYA in 2019. He signed for 4/80 for a team that I would not have expected him to sign for. The BlueJays are probably the 3rd or 4th best team in the AL East but they do have the sons of two HOF, along with a Bichette so they will be a fun team to watch and root for.

We all know that Ryu had an up and down Dodger career with his health always defining how effective he was going to be but no one expected him to be one of the best pitchers in baseball in 2019 and do it while throwing 182 innings.   When he wasn’t one of the best pitchers in baseball, Ryu was always fun to watch as a Dodger.

As far as Ryu and his Dodger legacy go, for pitchers with at least 500 IP, Ryu put up the 6th best ERA+ in Los Angeles Dodger history. That is quite the accomplishment when you consider the number of great pitchers who have pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Player             ERA+     IP From   To   Age  GS  FIP
Clayton Kershaw     157 2274.2 2008 2019 20-31 344 2.74
Zack Greinke        156  602.2 2013 2015 29-31  92 2.97
Kevin Brown         147  872.2 1999 2003 34-38 129 3.16
Sandy Koufax        135 2119.2 1958 1966 22-30 286 2.57
Andy Messersmith    129  926.0 1973 1979 27-33 123 3.34
Hyun-Jin Ryu        129  740.1 2013 2019 26-32 125 3.32
Derek Lowe          120  850.1 2005 2008 32-35 135 3.77

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/23/2019.

Higher career LAD ERA+ than notable pitchers such as Don Drysdale, Orel Hershiser, Don Sutton, Bob Welch, Jerry Reuss, Burt Hooton, Bill Singer, Tommy John, Ismael Valdez, Hideo Nomo, and Hiroki Kuroda.

Pivoting to Betts is the right move

In the beginning, the clamoring crowds wanted Gerrit Cole, but he said no to the most expensive contract the Dodgers have ever offered a free agent and went to the NYY. Then, it was Rendon, but the Dodgers never even offered him a contract after he let the front office know that he and his family wanted no part of the “Hollywood Lifestyle” that permeates the Dodger culture. Instead, Rendon signed with the Angels who just last year lost a player who overdosed on drugs so you can understand why Dodger fans were a bit confused by his comment.  Since the Rendon signing, the smooth fielding Franciso Lindor has been on the Dodger radar but the news today is that the Dodgers might be moving on from Lindor and pivoting toward Mookie Betts.

This is a pivot I have been asking for all along.

The backstory on why the 2018 AL MVP is available is that the Red Sox are in cost-cutting mode, and Mookie is headed into his final season before becoming a free agent. Normally the price for Mookie would be pretty high, but the kicker here is that if the Red Sox attach David Price to the deal, the cost in prospects will go down, while the Dodger payroll goes significantly up.

Price is still due $96 Million over the next three years and he’s a far cry from the guy who signed his 7/217 deal back in 2016 when he was 30 years old.  Fangraphs posted an article talking about the value of David Price and as you can see he’s an albatross for the Red Sox right now.

If we assume Price’s value is around $30 million, it creates a $60 million gap between his value and his contract.

I’d expect the Red Sox to throw in some money in any deal, and the Dodgers to throw in some players and prospects to make it worthwhile. The Red Sox are in a tough spot. They were barely mediocre last year, the Yankee’s just signed Cole, and Tampa Bay is probably still a better team. The chances of them making the postseason aren’t good for 2020. In a perfect world, the Red Sox unload Price and sign Mookie to an extension but I don’t see that happening. Price is simply too pricey and to move that contract they have to attach a player so they might as well attach the guy who is going to be a free agent at the end of next year.

Before we look at how the Dodgers can acquire Betts and Price how about we look at the team. Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projection is out and the first thing you might notice is that the lowest fWAR is in right field, a spot currently allocated to Alex Verdugo even though it sounds like his back injury was much more serious than we thought. Mookie Betts is arguably the best right fielder in baseball. In 2018 Yelich won the NL MVP and Mookie the AL MVP as right fielders. Cody Bellinger won his 2019 MVP playing most of the time as a RF where he won his gold glove.  You don’t want the worst player on your team to be your right fielder.

So, how about a lineup of:

Mookie Betts

Justin Turner

Cody Bellinger

Max Muncy

Corey Seager

Joc Pederson / Chris Taylor

Gavin Lux

Will Smith

You don’t see AJ Pollock in this lineup for a reason. The rotation now features

Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, David Price, Kenta Maeda, Julio Urias or Dustin May

How can we make this happen?

Kevin Klein has his thoughts on it, including a nice history regarding Price and Andrew Friedman.

Who the Dodgers would send out is the question, but I think it starts with D.J. Peters, Josiah Gray, and Jeter Downs along with some major league talent like potentially A.J. Pollock and Ross Stripling.

My guess is that AJ Pollock has to be going back to help mitigate the contract of David Price. Ross Stripling to replace David Price in the rotation. Some prospects from a pool of  DJ Peters, Edwin Rios, Mitch White, Dennis Santana, Leo Crawford, and Zach McKinstry. Not sure how much money would be coming back to the Dodgers if the Red Sox take Pollock. I’m flying blind.

Yeah, the payroll balloons in 2020 but you fill two needs in 2020, you now have two possible MVP candidates in Bellinger and Betts, one hits left-handed, one hits right-handed, and you didn’t have to deal any of Lux/May/Ruiz/Gonsolin/J Downs/Gray. It isn’t a big haul for Boston, but given the contract of Price, it shouldn’t be. This gives the Red Sox some major flexibility next offseason just as it did back in 2012 when the Dodgers loaded up on Red Sox bad contracts. That didn’t work out for the Dodgers as it was the Red Sox who ended up using that deal to springboard to a World Championship in 2013.

I just want Mookie Betts playing RF for the Dodgers in 2020. If things work out, they can take that money they were willing to play Cole, and give it to Betts after 2020.

I should probably mention that Mookie Betts is my favorite player in baseball. The last time my favorite player in baseball was traded to the Dodgers was back in 1974 when Jimmy Wynn helped lead the young 1974 team to the World Series. Mookie Betts is not Jimmy Wynn. He’s much younger, and much better. He’s what we thought Matt Kemp was going to be.

 

 

 

Rendon or bust?

Well, the Dodgers didn’t get Cole. They now have to figure out a way to take a 106 win regular-season team, that took the eventual World Champions to extra innings in the deciding 5th game, and did so despite one of the worst postseason managing decisions in LAD history to win a few extra games in October.

Oh such a task

How do you take a team that has a projected infield of Max Muncy, Gavin Lux, Corey Seager, Justin Turner and make that infield better?

How do you take a team that has a projected outfield of Alex Verdugo / MVP Bellinger / Joc Pederson_AJ Pollock and make that outfield better?

How do you take a team that has a projected bench of Chris Taylor, Hernandez, Beaty, Barnes and make it better?

How do you take a rotation of Buehler / Kershaw / Kenta / Urias / May / Stripling / Gonsolin and make it better?

How do you take a bullpen of Jansen / Kelly / Baez / Ferguson / Kolarek and make it better?

Seems pretty clear to me that of the above options, the best deal the Dodgers have going right now is the infield. They could really use another starter to replace Ryu, at least two bullpen pieces and I don’t think anything else.

But

Anthony Rendon is a free agent, and Justin Turner has said he’d switch positions, so improving the infield is what Dodger Twitter wants us to do.

 

The moving chess pieces are easy in the beginning. You simply insert Rendon at 3rd base, move Turner to 1st base. The next step isn’t so easy.

  • Do you put the Minor League Player of the Year in Gavin Lux back in AAA and move Muncy to 2nd base for 2020? That doesn’t seem ideal. And while in AAA is he learning how to become an outfielder?
  • Do you trade Corey Seager and move Lux to Shortstop? Maybe, but you’d be hard-pressed to convince me that an infield of Turner/Muncy/Lux/Rendon is better than an infield of Muncy/Lux/Seager/Rendon.
  • Do you trade Joc Pederson and install Gavin Lux as your everyday Left-Fielder? I can live with that. Not every infielder can become an elite outfielder, but maybe Lux can, and he can go back to being a SS either in 2021 or 2022.

As you might realize by now I’m not really a fan of any of those options but when you look at the possible infield timeline:

2020 1st Muncy / 2nd Lux / SS Seager / 3rd Turner

2021 1st Muncy / ???       / SS Lux    / 3rd Seager

2022 1st Muncy / ???      /SS Lux  / ???

You can see why adding Rendon now makes perfect sense even if it causes all sorts of Dodger dominos to fall in the current season because when the timeline changes to this:

2020 1st Turner / 2nd Muncy / SS Seager / 3rd Rendon

2021 1st Muncy / 2nd Lux / SS Seager / 3rd Rendon

2022 1st Muncy / ???        / SS Lux       / 3rd Rendon

You only have one hole to fill and that hole is only if you don’t resign Corey Seager.

So yeah, I’m all in on Anthony Rendon even though the bullpen and rotation still need some work.

Cole Whiners

Last night the Dodgers missed out on Gerrit Cole when the front office refused to give Cole the largest pitching contract in baseball history and Dodger Twitter exploded in indignation as they watched their perceived best chance at winning a World Championship go down the drain.

Not that Gerrit Cole won a World Championship with Houston. Even as his teammates tried their best to trash can themselves to the Championship, they came up short. I understand that Cole is “currently” the best pitcher in baseball, but baseball is about the future and the odds are good that Gerrit Cole just had his best season at exactly the right time.

Much like CC Sabathia had his best season at age 27 just before hitting free agency and being signed by the Yankees to his historic deal in the winter of 2008, Gerrit Cole has cashed in. Sabathia had some great seasons early on for the Yankees but just four years into the contract he became a below-average pitcher putting up a 95 ERA+ from 2013 – 2017. During that final four year run CC was paid $98 Million and hampered the Yankee’s ability to compete.

But

The Yankees did win a World Championship in the very first year of CC’s contract and maybe that is all it takes to justify the contract.

The World Championship.

That is after all the holy grail.

 

Clipper Staples is for everyone

Cory_Jeannie112019

Expectations were huge on Wednesday night as the Clippers finally had the dynamite duo of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard playing together for the first time. Even though both players would be playing limited minutes it would be the first time fans of the Clippers and basketball fans around the world would see what got the NBA world buzzing this past summer. Besides the unveiling of the dynamic duo, the Clippers were playing the Boston Celtics who came into the game with the best record in the Eastern Conference.

As a Clipper fan, one of the things I’ve taken for granted is that when the Clippers host a team with a large following such as the Lakers, Bulls, Knicks, and Celtics the game will be filled with at least 50% of the visiting team fans and Wednesday Night was no different as Staples was filled with Celtic Green.

This can be deflating for Clipper fans but it has a silver lining in going to a Clipper / Celtic game at Staples. It becomes an experience I wish all fans could enjoy because it is so different than the norm.  When each play results in cheers a fan rivalry grows as each base wants to show who can be loudest. At an NBA game, the fans cheer throughout the first three quarters but those cheers are muted compared to what will happen in the 4th if the game is closely contested. Last night the game went into overtime and was eventually decided on the last play when Kawhi blocked what could have been the tying three-point shot from the corner. The final ten minutes of the game were played in front of a standing crowd with each team’s fans either cheering or groaning with each play.

At one point last night the Celtics were up by 10 points late in the 4th quarter. Their fans were going crazy with good reason, their team had made all the good plays while the Clippers couldn’t hit shots and were sloppy with the basketball. Kawhi didn’t look anything like an NBA Finals MVP but Jason Tatum sure did firing in threes from all over the court. And just like that, the game turned but it was the Clippers heart (Lou Williams) and soul (Pat Beverly) who led the comeback not the vaunted duo of Kawhi/George. The Celtics were 8 – 0 with at least a 10 point lead in the 4th quarter so far in 2019 but by the end of the game, they were 8 – 1 as Pat Beverly grabbed rebound after rebound and hit three key three-point shots in overtime. Sweet Lou was why they got to overtime, scoring 13 points in the 4th quarter.

Only three guards in 2019 had grabbed at least 15 rebounds in a game and Pat Beverly is one of them. He was also the only one of the three to win the game.

Player              Pos          Date MP ORB DRB TRB GmSc
Russell Westbrook     G 2019-10-24  L 33   4  12  16 23.1
Patrick Beverley      G 2019-11-20  W 41   4  12  16 20.4
Josh Hart             G 2019-11-02  L 30   3  12  15 14.0

Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/22/2019.

The Celtic fans who had been loud and crazy for all 53 minutes left Staples with a loss but they got their money’s worth. Their team didn’t win but for these fans who are 3,111 miles away from their hometown they had plenty to cheer about, and as we all ambled out of Staples, all I heard from the Celtic Green fans was mad respect for Pat Beverly.

Staples is a strange environment for Clipper fans as they have to share it with the visiting team fans but it is an environment that I’m finally becoming at peace with, as I realized Wed Night how much I enjoy the back and forth cheering that happens at Clipper games.

There is room for everyone.

Clippers just might live up to the hype

Writer Jon Weisman sent a tweet to me because he knows I’m a long-suffering Clipper fan.  It was an image that no Clipper had ever seen before. Vegas had already made the Clippers the odds on favorite to win the NBA title but this was from the East Coast. Eight different writers had picked the Clippers to win the NBA West. Against six different opponents. It made me smile and it made me nervous. I don’t like being the favorite, I’m a Clipper fan, because I’m an underdog kind of guy.  You can throw that mindset out the window when you see an image like this:
Image
I still entered this season walking on eggshells. Expecting Kawhi to get hurt during the preseason, finding out that Paul George would need additional surgery to fix the shoulder he had operated on during the summer, Pat and Lou maybe not getting along with the two new superstars. Something to tread on the high hopes of Clipper fans. Because something always does.
But maybe not this time. Maybe this time the illusion will become reality.
I’ve decided to stop walking on my eggshells and embrace the best team they have ever had.
Let me count the ways:
  • Possibly the most annoying player in the NBA on your team in Pat Beverly. The player you love to hate, unless he’s on your team, in which case he’s the player you love the most.
  • Possibly the best postseason player in the NBA on your team in Kawhi who just might be in his prime.The best 6th man in Lou Williams who someday might see the 6th man award actually named after him. If you thought he might slow down you didn’t watch the first two games of the year.
  • If there is one player who can wrest the 6th man award away from Lou Williams it might be his teammate Montrezl Harrell.
  • The best 8th man in Mo Harkless.
  • The best 9th man in JaMychal Green
  • Are you getting the gist of this? The Clipper 2nd team will outscore the starting five of not only the Clippers but of most teams they play this season. When a game starts the Clippers starting five simply need to keep the game even because the 2nd unit will do the damage.
  • The Best Laker center in Zubak. The gift that keeps on giving was on full display last night against the Warriors. They only thing keeping him from a more dominating performance was that you can only keep Montrezl Harrell on the bench for so long.
  • The best player not yet playing in the NBA, Paul George. Every time the Clippers win, no one can use their own injured players as an excuse. The Lakers tried using the Kuzma line but were laughed out of the internet sphere. The Warriors didn’t even try using Klay being out because they knew Paul George was wearing a suit on the Clipper bench.
  • We haven’t had to see what happens in a close 4th quarter. Last year it was Lou Williams who was one of the top scorers in the 4th quarter. This year the options could be anyone on the floor in the final two minutes.  Lou Williams. Kawhi Leonard. Paul George. Montrezl Harrell if they over cover on any of those three will simply bull his way to the rim. I can’t wait to see a close game to see how it gets closed.
  • Jerry West may not be making all the decisions in the Clipper front office, and he doesn’t need to because Ballmer has built the best front office in basketball where Jerry West simply needs to give his advice.
Now that I’ve written all this I should probably do another article where I chart everything that could go wrong but I may wait until at least November before I start heading toward the negative vibe. I’m enjoying this vibe to much right now.
The Clippers don’t need to worry about Los Angeles being a Laker town, they simply need to take care of their own business, and if that turns into their first World Championship,  a whole new generation will take notice. The rest of the country already has.

LAD Double leader by Season

Corey Seager led the Dodgers in doubles in 2019 with 44 and hit his 44 doubles in only 541 plate appearances while Shawn Green hit his LAD best 49 doubles in 691 plate appearances.

The best double per plate appearance for a LAD seasonal leader is Corey Seager in 2019 at 12.3 doubles per plate appearance so I’m fairly confident in saying that if Corey hadn’t missed time in 2019 he would have broken the record and probably hit over 50 doubles.

Other Double Notes:

Wes Parker deserves special merit for his 47 doubles in 1970. Before Parker hit his 47 doubles the most any Los Angeles Dodger had hit was 31 by Willie Davis in 1966. Even after Parker hit those 47 doubles it wasn’t until Steve Sax hit 43 in 1986 that any Dodger ever crossed the 40 double threshold again.

Steve Garvey is the doubles king. Garvey led the Dodgers in doubles eight years from 1974 thru 1982 missing only 1977 when Bill Russell nudged him off the leaderboard.

Willie Davis did it six times from 1966 – 1973, missing only 1968 when Tom Haller did it, and 1970 when Wes Parker hit his 47 doubles. That 47 doubles by Wes Parker held up until Shawn Green hit his 49 doubles in 2003.

Andre Ethier led the Dodgers in doubles four years, doing it twice back to back in 2008/2009 and 2012/2013.

Raul Mondesi also led the Dodgers in doubles four times from 1994 – 1998 missing only 1995 when Eric Karros got back on top of the LAD double leaderboard.

Speaking of Karros he led the team in doubles three times 1992 (30), 1995(29), and 1999(40).

Continuing with Raul Mondesi, the player he was traded for Shawn Green, led the Dodgers in doubles three times with some hefty numbers. In 2000 he hit 44 doubles which at the time was the 2nd most doubles every hit by a LAD, a mere 31 in 2001, and the team-leading 49 in 2003.

Junior Jim Gilliam led the team in doubles in 1958 with 25 in the inaugural Los Angeles Dodger season. He would lead the team in doubles in 1961 with 26, and keeping with the trend would lead the team in doubles in 1963 with 27.

Tommie Davis led the team in doubles the first year Dodger Stadium was put into play with 27.

The lowest LAD seasonal double leader was Willie Davis with 22 in 1972 followed by Eddie Murray with 23 in 1991, and Steve Garvey with 23 in the strike-shortened season of 1981.

Multiple members of the 1981 World Championship team and 1988 World Championship team lead the team in doubles. Garvey, Russell, and Pedro Guerrero from the 1981 Championship team.  Mike Marshall, John Shelby, Kirk Gibson, and my favorite oddity Jeff Hamilton. Steve Sax and Mike Scioscia were on both teams, Sax lead the team in 1986 and Scioscia in 1987.

Names you don’t see often on LAD leaderboards, Cory Snyder in 1993 (33), Hubie Brooks in 1990 (28), John Shelby in 1987 (26), Norm Larke in 1960 (26), and Tom Haller in 1968 (27).

Player Year 2B▼ OPS+ Age PA DBL/PA
Corey Seager 2019 44 113 25 541 12.30
Chris Taylor 2018 35 109 27 604 17.26
Chris Taylor 2017 34 123 26 568 16.71
Corey Seager 2016 40 134 22 687 17.18
Adrian Gonzalez 2015 33 130 33 643 19.48
Adrian Gonzalez 2014 41 130 32 660 16.10
Andre Ethier 2013 33 121 31 553 16.76
Andre Ethier 2012 36 123 30 618 17.17
Matt Kemp 2011 33 172 26 689 20.88
James Loney 2010 41 98 26 648 15.80
Andre Ethier 2009 42 132 27 685 16.31
Andre Ethier 2008 38 132 26 596 15.68
Jeff Kent 2007 36 123 39 562 15.61
J.D. Drew 2006 34 126 30 594 17.47
Jeff Kent 2005 36 133 37 637 17.69
Adrian Beltre 2004 32 163 25 657 20.53
Shawn Green 2003 49 116 30 691 14.10
Paul Lo Duca 2002 38 99 30 632 16.63
Shawn Green 2001 31 154 28 701 22.61
Shawn Green 2000 44 116 27 714 16.23
Eric Karros 1999 40 133 31 639 15.98
Raul Mondesi 1998 26 115 27 617 23.73
Raul Mondesi 1997 42 140 26 670 15.95
Raul Mondesi 1996 40 123 25 673 16.83
Eric Karros 1995 29 145 27 620 21.38
Raul Mondesi 1994 27 123 23 454 16.81
Cory Snyder 1993 33 100 30 570 17.27
Eric Karros 1992 30 106 24 589 19.63
Eddie Murray 1991 23 105 35 639 27.78
Hubie Brooks 1990 28 102 33 618 22.07
Jeff Hamilton 1989 35 85 25 581 16.60
Kirk Gibson 1988 28 148 31 632 22.57
John Shelby 1987 26 106 29 518 19.92
Mike Scioscia 1987 26 90 28 523 20.12
Steve Sax 1986 43 137 26 704 16.37
Mike Marshall 1985 27 141 25 564 20.89
Pedro Guerrero 1984 29 131 28 594 20.48
Pedro Guerrero 1983 28 150 27 664 23.71
Steve Garvey 1982 35 101 33 660 18.86
Steve Garvey 1981 23 110 32 461 20.04
Steve Garvey 1980 27 125 31 704 26.07
Steve Garvey 1979 32 130 30 697 21.78
Steve Garvey 1978 36 138 29 689 19.14
Bill Russell 1977 28 79 28 674 24.07
Steve Garvey 1976 37 133 27 696 18.81
Steve Garvey 1975 38 134 26 704 18.53
Steve Garvey 1974 32 130 25 685 21.41
Willie Davis 1973 29 114 33 641 22.10
Willie Davis 1972 22 116 32 654 29.73
Willie Davis 1971 33 122 31 672 20.36
Wes Parker 1970 47 133 30 705 15.00
Willie Davis 1969 23 133 29 540 23.48
Wes Parker 1969 23 125 29 541 23.52
Tom Haller 1968 27 128 31 534 19.78
Willie Davis 1967 27 97 27 610 22.59
Willie Davis 1966 31 102 26 653 21.06
Ron Fairly 1965 28 115 26 654 23.36
John Roseboro 1964 24 113 31 475 19.79
Jim Gilliam 1963 27 121 34 605 22.41
Tommy Davis 1962 27 148 23 711 26.33
Jim Gilliam 1961 26 83 32 531 20.42
Norm Larker 1960 26 113 29 493 18.96
Charlie Neal 1959 30 105 28 686 22.87
Jim Gilliam 1958 25 81 29 636 25.44

 

Rendon and Cole aren’t coming to Los Angeles

I spent some time trying to figure out how the Dodgers could get Anthony Rendon when it dawned on me that I’m just wasting my time. The Nationals are going to the World Series and Anthony Rendon is going to stay in Washington.

Gerritt Cole is probably going to the World Series and while he may not stay in Houston, he’s not coming to the Dodgers either.

That reality will upset many fans who feel the way to solve the Dodger problems are to spend their way out of it. To be clear the Dodger problem is not winning, they do that just fine, possibly better than any Dodger team ever, the problem is not winning the last game of the season.

I don’t know how to solve that. The Dodgers tried to solve it this past winter when they inexplicably signed A.J. Pollock to be their CF for the next for years. He was supposed to be a difference-maker in October when tough lefties were thrown at the Dodgers. Pollock couldn’t even man CF for one season, much less four and by August had simply become the LF against LHP. The only reason he played against RHP in October was that Alex Verdugo ended up missing Sept and Oct. It only took three games in October before A.J. Pollock was sitting on the bench in October leaving me to wonder exactly what I wondered when they signed him, what does A.J. Pollock have that Chris Taylor does not? Not exactly how the Dodger brass expected their big signing of 2019 to play out but it wasn’t exactly unpredictable.

The other big signing was Joe Kelly who picked the wrong time to start Howie Kendrick on a roll that still hasn’t finished.

I don’t know what the Dodgers will do this winter. The team is still loaded with veterans and youth. You still have the starting lineups of Muncy/Lux/Seager/Turner/Smith/Pederson/Bellinger/Verdugo against RHP and Muncy/Lux/Seager/Turner/Smith/Verdugo/Bellinger/Pollock against LHP assuming that Lux becomes the starting everyday 2nd baseman and Verdugo an everyday OF.

When healthy, that is probably a better starting lineup than the group that won 106 games. Lux should be an improvement at 2nd, Seager should improve, Smith over a full season should give the team more than Barnes did the first three months. Having Bellinger in CF for a full season is going to help the defense. We can’t forget how good Alex Verdugo was when he was healthy. Joc was Joc, but with even more Joc Jack than ever before.

The rotation may lose Ryu and Hill but that still leaves Walker / Kershaw / Kenta / May / Urias / Stripling / Gonsolin and possibly Josiah Gray.  Going forward Walker is probably going to be the running for some Cy Young Awards. Kershaw may have found a nice level as a mid-rotation starter. Kenta is Kenta. A perfectly decent rotation piece who will head to the bullpen in Sept. I don’t know what May is, but he’s ready for his rotation piece. Ross Stripling is perfectly serviceable in a rotation. Urias should finally be ready for his spot in a rotation. Once again, I have no idea what to expect from him but it is time we find out what he is.  That is a solid rotation but probably not a rotation that you’d bet on to win the last game of the season unless one of May or Urias becomes a genuine 2nd option come October. Not a bet I’d make. Even if Rich Hill comes back for another season, the spot you can see the Dodgers trying to upgrade is the rotation.

As always, the bullpen clearly needs another big piece, maybe two.

Anyway, last year the Dodgers shocked us by trading Puig/Wood for two prospects who both blossomed.  They also shocked us by signing A.J. Pollock and you’d be hard-pressed to say that was a good deal.  Now that Cody Bellinger is the CF going forward that is a lot of money for a right-handed hitting left fielder who is probably 4th on the outfield depth chart behind Cody/Pederson/Verdugo and maybe should be fifth behind Chris Taylor.

Joe Kelly was a good signing, I’m not blaming him for the 10th inning of game 5 and for most of the summer was the best relief option in the bullpen.

Every winter over the past six years has had the same question. How do you improve a team that keeps playing in October but never long enough? Once again the Dodgers will try to answer that question, maybe this time they will get it right.