On this date 06/20/2016 Kenley Jansen broke the Dodger save record (161).

And two years later he is targeting save number 250 sometime this week.

Player            SV From   To   G    IP  ERA  FIP
Kenley Jansen    248 2010 2018 506 510.2 2.10 1.94
Eric Gagne       161 1999 2006 298 545.1 3.27 3.40
Jeff Shaw        129 1998 2001 235 235.1 3.37 4.06
Todd Worrell     127 1993 1997 269 268.0 3.93 3.59
Jim Brewer       126 1964 1975 474 822.0 2.62 2.94
Ron Perranoski   100 1961 1972 457 766.2 2.56 3.02

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/20/2018.

Overall Kenley is now 36th but if he continues his current pace of 40 plus saves a year he could be pushing toward the top ten by the end of the 2020 season.

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On this date June 19th, 1973 Willie Davis got his 2000th hit as a Dodger with a home run

And remains the only Los Angeles Dodger with at least 2,000 hits. Willie did this in 1973 which was his last year as Los Angeles Dodger.  The Dodgers won that game 3 – 0 with Tommy John and Pete Richart combining on the shutout.

Player            H From   To   Age   PA
Willie Davis   2091 1960 1973 20-33 8035
Steve Garvey   1968 1969 1982 20-33 7027
Bill Russell   1926 1969 1986 20-37 8021
Maury Wills    1732 1959 1972 26-39 6745
Eric Karros    1608 1991 2002 23-34 6624

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/19/2018.

First big trade chip goes to the Nationals

Last year the Nationals made their pitch to end their postseason drought by making an early trade on July 16th for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. That trade bolstered the Nationals bullpen but did not help them get past the Cubs in the 2017 NLDS though Doolittle and Madson did their part by limiting the Cubs to one run in seven innings.

This year the Nationals struck even earlier, acquiring Kelvin Herrera from the Royals to once again fortify the bullpen. Herrera was a key piece for the 2015 World Champion Royals setting up Wade Davis and would become the Royals closer when Wade Davis was traded to the Cubs. Kelvin was having a fine season as the Royals closer in 2018 but will probably setup Sean Doolittle who has been outstanding.

This is a great trade for the Nationals and Herrera should help them as they try to catch Atlanta and move on in the postseason. Herrera would have been a nice addition to the Dodger bullpen moving from Royal blue to Dodger blue. I don’t have much of a handle on the three pieces that went to the Royals in the deal but from what I have read none of the three were in the top ten of National prospects so the Royals went with quantity over quality.

The trade deadline is still six weeks away but maybe with the Nationals striking first, it will start an early trade market. MLB Trade Rumors lists the top 50 likely trade candidates and to their credit, Kelvin Herrera was number two on that list.

Players from that list that might make the Dodgers a better team?

1. Manny Machado, SS, Orioles: Der

8. Brad Hand, RP, Padres;  I wanted Brad Hand last year, he would make a great addition to the Dodger bullpen but the price will be high as he has a great contract.

13. Craig Stammen, RHP, Padres: Stammen could help but the price probably would not be worth it.

14. Scooter Gennett, 2B, Reds: The Dodgers have one hole and that is 2nd base. Scooter has raked long enough now that his breakout season last year does not appear to be flukish.

50. Whit Merrifield, 2B, Royals: This guy might look good in Royal blue. From the MLB Rumors report:

Speaking of players with four years of control, Merrifield has emerged as a late-blooming star in Kansas City. He’s hitting .284/.363/.411 with elite baserunning, a bit of pop and intriguing defensive versatility. Merrifield plays an excellent second base and has also lined up on the outfield grass, including in center. The remaining club control and the fact that he won’t even be arb-eligible until the 2019-20 offseason are compelling reasons to keep him, but Merrifield is also already 29 and the Royals don’t expect to contend for years. Second base hasn’t been an in-demand position in recent years, but Merrifield is the type of player that should fetch a package featuring multiple prospects and/or near-MLB-ready assets.

You know who is not on that list? Jacob Degrom.

When it comes to trade chips, the Dodgers have one of the best in Alex Verdugo. When you think about the Dodger outfield you have Puig/Joc/Kemp with Kiké and Cody at the major league level.

At the highest minor league level, you have Alex Verdugo and Andrew Toles. Toles has already proven he is a major league outfielder when healthy, so what Toles has to prove now, is that he can play the game without constantly getting hurt.  Alex Verdugo has done everything at the minor league level and now needs to prove he’scan produce enough to be a major league outfielder.

Dropping down one level you have Yusniel Diaz who might not be at the same level as Verdugo or Toles but appears to have the skills to be a major league outfielder. DJ Peters has more power than all of them put together but has to prove he can make enough contact to be a productive major league outfielder.

Even if Max Muncy becomes a pumpkin and you move Cody back to 1st base you still have Chris Taylor moving either back to the outfield in 2019 or to 2nd base when Corey Seager comes back.  If Muncy does not become a pumpkin is a 1st or 2nd baseman? He has also played the outfield. It is clear the Dodgers have an abundance of outfielders and by July 31st, one of the folk listed above will be gone.

The abundance of outfielders gave Stacie Wheeler the opportunity to ask in her first column for TrueBlueLA if the Dodger should trade Puig while he’s hot?

Do the Dodgers really want to part ways with Puig with a year and a half of control remaining on a very team friendly contract? Some say yes emphatically. L.A. has Andrew TolesAlex Verdugo, DJ Peters and Yusniel Diaz in the minors, and they’ll have to find room in their outfield at some point. Puig’s value right now may be the highest it’s going to be, and there’s no denying they’re in need of pitching reinforcements.

My answer is, of course, no, and for the reasons that Stacie outlined on why Puig is such a valuable Dodger. You could make a case that Joc Pederson would be a great trade chip right now. He is smoking hot and is left handed as are Cody, Verdugo, and Toles. If you trade Puig you lose one of the potent right-hand bats in the lineup, if you trade Joc, his bat seems replaceable.

I do differ with Stacie in that she said the Dodgers are in need of pitching reinforcements.   That would have been an accurate statement a week ago but I’m not sure it holds water today.  The reinforcements were on the DL and every day one of them comes back. Kenta came back last week. Rich Hill comes back today. Clayton Kershaw seems to be on schedule to return as early as this weekend. In the blink of an eye, the rotation just picked up three key rotation pieces with the big guy being the biggest key.  In about two or three weeks Walker Buehler will be back and guess what? By hitting the Dl for a month, Walker may not have very much of an innings restriction as the season progresses. Ryu is still on track for a return after the all-star game. That actually leaves the Dodgers with a surplus because the best pitcher on the team is now Ross Stripling.

The rotation on August 1st which is just six weeks away could be  much stronger than it was on April 1st if Clayton can keep his health together.  Finding Ross Stripling was much like the Mets finding Jacob DeGrom in 2014 at the age of 26. He was a fringe prospect who blew up when given a chance.

I would not hesitate to add Jacob Degrom to the Dodgers but that needs a bigger space and I’m at the end of mine right now.

One last blurb on Alex Verdugo

The three-hit performance, already Verdugo’s fourth of June, pushed his season-long slash line to .350/.392/.522 through 44 Triple-A games. He has five doubles in his last three games, and his slugging percentage has jumped 70 points since Friday.

 

Dodger / Cubs chasing 1st place

The two teams who met in the 2017 NLCS will square off for the first time in 2018 with both teams in strange positions for them. The Dodgers are in 2nd place chasing the Diamondbacks, while the Cubs are in second place chasing the surprising Brewers.

Both teams appear to have enough talent to eventually bring down the upstarts who lead their respective divisions but first off they will need to deal with each other since they play each other seven times in the next ten games.

The Dodgers won the 2017 NLCS on the strength of an offense that included massive contributions from Charlie Culberson and Kiké, along with the pitching of Clayton, Yu Darvish, and Rich Hill.  Charlie Culberson is gone, and plying his trade with the Braves. Yu Darvish signed with the Cubs and has been either hurt or ineffective so far. Clayton is on the disabled list leaving only Rich Hill and Kiké from the main group of players who brought down the Cubs last fall. Rich Hill will make his first start May 19th a start that never really happened since he never took the mound and threw a pitch even though it does show up in game logs as a start.

In this series, the Dodgers are almost back to full-strength with only Clayton Kershaw missing from the original rotation.  Walker Buehler is also out so you could say the Cubs will get to play the Dodgers without having to face their two best pitchers. We can only hope that if we face off in October, that Clayton and Walker will be healthy enough to be part of that postseason matchup.

The Cubs are somewhat healthy.  Yu Darvish is the only player of note on the disabled list.  Javier Baez was removed from the game Sunday Night after being hit on the hand so I’m not sure what his status will be for this series.

Just like the Dodgers, the Cubs had been hot until Sunday. The Dodger offense was limited to one run on Sunday, the Cubs were shutout.

Just a few Cub Notes:

  • Kris Byrant has an overall 2018 slug% of .483,  but in June has only one double and one home run for a June slug% of .340.  Over the last 28 days, he has a slug% of .319. Yikes
  • No one on the Cubs is red-hot though Addison Russell does have a June OPS of .883. That is the best the Cubs have in June. The Dodgers, on the other hand, have five players with an OPS over .999 in the month of June.
  • Brandon Morrow has been outstanding as the Cub closer giving them exactly what they paid for.
  • The Dodgers will face two left-handers so Kiké will get his opportunity to get reacquainted with Cub fans who have been throwing darts at him all winter after one of the greatest offensive NLCS games in history.

 

 

The chasm between us

My Fathers Day may have gone the way of many my age, as the ability to communicate with my father is limited due to age and geographic proximity.  He is going to turn 90 this year, he lives 350 miles away, and the ability to talk with him via the phone has zero rewards.  Forget Skype, he simply can’t articulate a conversation and is in full-blown dementia.  The chasm between him and I seems too wide to navigate unless I’m in his presence hence the reason I’ll be doing the 350 drive very soon.

The chasm bothers me but there is nothing I can do about it, however, the chasm that has developed between myself and 40% of the American Population is more troubling. The 40% that feel, President Trump is doing a good job.  I guarantee you that my Dad would have considered Trump and his campaign associates traitors.  I would so much like to talk to him about our current political situation. With the man who was a West Point graduate in 1950, who was serving in Korea when I was born, who gave me many a stimulated political conversation as I grew up and into a man. Oh man, that is what I miss right now.

This little column was going to be about my father, but I think all of us should be thinking about the fathers who just made a long risk-filled journey to seek political asylum for their families and instead of being treated with the dignity that asylum seekers should receive from this country, had found their children being taken from them as they await their hearings.  I don’t have children, so I can’t imagine for you who do, what that would feel like, but as this information gained light, I could hear the collective moan of empathetic parents throughout North America.  The Trump admin may have finally crossed a line, a line they may not have thought existed but even the evangelicals who have supported him unwaveringly finally wavered when the soulless White House mongrel Steven Miller admitted that the policy was put in place to be a deterrent so that future political asylum seekers would think twice about leaving their country for a better life in the United States.

As deterrents go, you would think this one will probably work, as what family would take the chance of losing their children? Maybe the Berduo family would, given the other choice is possibly death if they stayed in their own country? That is not quite Sofie’s choice is it? Death or separation of a family?

I’m pretty sure the lady in NY harbor has her own view on this policy.

This is the policy right now. It is complicated and the issue of separating families who have been charged with a crime was in place before the Trump admin, so what has changed? This

There is no law that requires immigrant families to be separated. The decision to charge everyone crossing the border with illegal entry — and the decision to charge asylum seekers in criminal court rather than waiting to see if they qualify for asylum — are both decisions the Trump administration has made.

This new policy seems short-sided. They will create enemies of this country from both the children separated and from the parents they ripped those children from. Especially if they are never united again which has been documented as happening. If you want to create terrorists this is the way to go about it.

The asylum seekers are now being accused of a misdemeanor crime and thus are legally having their children removed from them as they await trail.  If you are no longer going to recognize asylum seekers without charging them with a crime, tear down the Statue of Liberty because you can’t advertise something you can’t deliver. I understand the need to vet those who come calling at our borders. I fail to understand why we can’t treat them with respect.

We are a wealthy country and some forget or don’t care that we are here simply by the luck of the draw. I was born a white man in California,  the lottery of luck when it comes to being born but why should someone not so lucky, someone born into poverty and a dead end not seek the opportunity for their family that beckons for them in the United States?

Many will say because we don’t have room.  I don’t have an answer to that, but I do know that any policy that relies on something such as child separation for deterrent purposes is a policy that should not stand for long.

Just imagine how bad your life is for you and your family that you make the choice to leave everything you and your family ever knew, to make a long arduous journey to a place you hope can be your families salvation only to arrive and have them forcefully take your children? Or tell you that the children need to be bathed and take them away never to see them again without any communication from the authorities? Imagine that shit? One man killed himself and you could understand why? He had failed his three-year-old son and wife based on a policy put in place by a man of extreme privilege who never felt a hunger pang in his life but has made it is his life’s duty to punish those who seek a better life.

Will we let him?

While I was reading  Infamy:The Shocking Story of the Japanese-American internment several years ago I wondered what I would have done if I had been around during that time.  I concluded I would have done nothing, that I would have believed the Government rhetoric that our citizens were a danger to our democracy during the time of war but I also know that I would have tried to make sure they were taken care as best they could be while being interned.  A pathetic response to be sure, maybe I’d done more as many did but I don’t think so.

 

Alex Verdugo has little left to prove in AAA

Alex Verdugo is tearing up AAA right now but the Dodgers are so loaded with major league outfielders there doesn’t seem to be any room for the talented outfielder. Over his last ten games, Verdugo is hitting .476. The table below is courtesy of www.milb.com.

Over those ten games, Alex had multiple hits in seven of them while striking out only one time in his last 42 at-bats. That is a skill set you don’t see much anymore.

DATE OPP AB R H HR RBI BB SO SB AVG
06/06/2018 @SAC 5 1 3 0 2 0 0 0 .309
06/07/2018 @SAC 5 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 .306
06/08/2018 @FRE 4 1 3 0 0 1 0 0 .318
06/09/2018 @FRE 4 0 3 0 1 0 0 0 .329
06/10/2018 @FRE 4 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 .327
06/11/2018 @FRE 5 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 .323
06/14/2018 SL 4 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 .327
06/15/2018 SL 3 0 2 0 1 1 0 1 .333
06/16/2018 LV 5 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 .335
06/17/2018 LV 3 2 2 1 1 1 0 0 .341
TOTALS 42 4 20 1 9 4 1 1 .476

The problem for Alex Verdugo and Andrew Toles is that unlike the Dodger rotation, the Dodger outfielders are staying healthy with nary a DL stint since Puig came back in Mid-May.  Healthy and productive.

This is a good time for Verdugo to get smoking hot as the trade talks will start going into high gear over the next six week and the hotter Alex and Toles can get, maybe the more the Dodgers can get for them if the Dodgers decide to trade from the outfield strength. It would have made some sense to expect Matt Kemp to have hit the DL by now but Matt is defying all odds as he continues to make his case to represent the Dodgers in the All-Star game along with Ross Stripling and Max Muncy.

Other minor league notes:

Matt Beaty joined the OKC team on May 25th and after a period of adjustment seems to have gotten it figured out and finished the week with a four-hit effort on Sunday. His OPS is now up to .836 and will probably continue to climb from here.

25-year-old infielder Angelo Mora has hit .486 with eight walks in his last ten games for OKC.

The Dodgers signed Drew Hutchison last week after he was released by the Phillies. Drew once looked like a promising young pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays back in 2014/2015. Drew made his 1st appearance for OKC yesterday and picked up the win though his numbers weren’t impressive.

The highly ranked catchers for Tulsa aren’t doing much with the bat these days. Will Smith is hitting .161 over his last ten games, and Keibert Ruiz is hitting just .216 in his last ten games.

Jeren Kendall hit home runs in back to back games capping a good week for the 2017 number one pick.  Jeren almost managed to have more hits than strikeouts but it ended up a tie at 7. With 81 strikeouts in just 211 at-bats at this level (a+) it is hard to imagine any kind of major league future for him other than as a defensive replacement/speed option.  Not something you want from your number one pick.

Dustin May has pitched two games in a row without allowing a run. In those two starts, May has gone 11 innings, given up six hits, zero runs, four walks, and struck out twelve.

I haven’t written much about Dean Kremer but he has been on a strikeout tear for the Quakes. Over his last four starts, Dean has thirty-five strikeouts in just twenty-two innings with just six walks. The 14th round pick in 2016 is just 22 years old.

Just saying

The Dodgers brought up Caleb Ferguson on June 6th and he’s now made three starts for the Dodgers with each start getting better and better but doing little to prove that he should actually be in the major leagues right now.  The Dodgers have won only one of those three starts and that was due to the offense scoring twelve runs.

Gcar    Date  Tm Opp  Rslt   IP H  R ER BB SO
1       Jun6 LAD PIT L9-11  1.2 2  4  4  3  3
2      Jun12 LAD TEX W12-5  4.0 5  2  2  2  3
3      Jun17 LAD SFG  L1-4  5.0 2  4  3  1  6
                       1-2 10.2 9 10  9  6 12

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/18/2018.

Manny Bañuelos is on the same pitching timetable as Caleb Ferguson and while Caleb has been struggling in his three major league starts, Manny continues to pitch well in AAA. The Dodgers skipped Manny’s start last week when it appeared they would use him but instead they opted with Caleb again. Manny is in a tough spot if the Dodgers bring him up for a spot start they have to let him go when the pitcher he replaced comes off the DL, and any team can claim him in which case they would lose him. On the other hand, we are nearing the 1/2 mark in the season and if they didn’t use the Manny bullet during this three-start stint by Caleb it seems unlikely they will use it at all this season.  It is very possible that Manny would have struggled just as much as Caleb in these three starts, but I’d rather have taken my chances on Manny than on a 21-year-old with two AAA starts on his resume.

DATE OPP W L ERA SV IP H ER BB SO
06/06/2018 @SAC 1 0 3.45 0 5.2 6 2 3 10
06/15/2018 SL 1 0 3.14 0 6.0 1 0 3 6

Even more fun is what Wilmer Font is doing for Tampa as “bullpen starter”.  In his best professional appearance to date, Wilmer Font got 14 outs against the studded NYY lineup pitching the Rays to a victory.  I’m probably only pointing this out because back in March I said that Font would be the biggest surprise for the Dodgers this year. It was a small limb to crawl out on in that many didn’t even think he belonged in the major leagues much less on the Dodgers roster. Foolish me, I should have gone with a AAA hitter like Max Muncy, or a Ross Stripling who seemed destined for many non leveraged middle relief appearances but no I went with the guy who was released in April.

Date     Tm Opp Rslt Inngs   IP  H ER BB SO
Jun8    TBR SEA L3-4  GS-3  2.1  2  2  1  5
Jun13   TBR TOR W1-0  GS-4  3.1  2  0  3  1
Jun17   TBR NYY W3-1  GS-5  4.2  4  1  1  5
                      6-11 33.1 42 28 13 29

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/18/2018.

 

Can Matt Kemp escape gravity?

Much has been made about the resurgence of Matt Kemp but we need to keep one very important thing in mind. Matt Kemp had an OPS in 2017 of .922 on this date.  It is not like Matt Kemp stopped hitting a baseball and shocked the world with what he has done in 2018. He did exactly the same thing in 2017. The big question is, can he continue to do it for the rest of the year or will gravity take him down as it did in 2017.

As noted above his OPS was .922 on June 14th, 2017. That was the last time it would be that high. By the end of June, it had dropped to .869. By the end of July, it had dropped to .813.  It pretty much stabilized at that point with Matt ending the season with a .781 OPS.

Everyone seems to be saying this is a different Matt Kemp but I wonder what they were saying in Atlanta on June 14th, 2017?

Either way, there is no argument that so far in 2018, Matt Kemp has performed at an all-star level. Eventually, he is going to have a slump, how deep and how long is the only question? Luckily the Dodgers still have a plethora of outfielders waiting in the wings if it does get ugly.

Andrew Toles is playing once again back in AAA. Alex Verdugo is still honing his immense skills in AAA.  Max Muncy can actually play the outfield. All are left-handed and maybe the way to keep Matt fresh is for a right-handed left fielder to show up on the roster.  With Chris Taylor now a permanent fixture at shortstop, Kiké is now the only right-handed hitting outfielder on the roster and he’s being used to platoon with Joc in CF on the days that Cody Bellinger is not the CF.

Matt Kemp helped carry the Dodgers when they needed his offense the most. If he does slump this summer, it will be upto the rest of the lineup to help carry Matt Kemp.

Maybe he never slumps and never gets hurt and beasts like this all year.

Maybe

Is anyone betting on it? I’m sure the Dodgers aren’t.

Standings a year ago

The Dodgers had 45 wins at this point in the season a year ago but their actual place in the standing only varies by a few games.  Right now the Dodgers are in 2nd place,  2 1/2 games behind the Diamondbacks while last year even with ten extra wins they were only 1/2 game in front of the Diamondbacks and were tied with the Rockies for 1st place.

The biggest difference standing wise is that the 2017 Giants had already imploded on their way to a 64 win last place season.

Tm     W  L W-L%   GB  RS  RA pythW-L%
LAD   41 25 .621   -- 322 228     .653
COL   42 26 .618   -- 351 285     .594
ARI   41 26 .612  0.5 344 261     .624
SDP   27 40 .403 14.5 243 356     .332
SFG   26 41 .388 15.5 242 315     .382

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/15/2018.

This year the Giants already have 34 wins compared to only 26 last year and could conceivably contend if they don’t get swept up in the Dodger dinger maelstrom this weekend.

Tm W L W-L% GB
Arizona Diamondbacks 38 30 .559
Los Angeles Dodgers 35 32 .522 2.5
San Francisco Giants 34 35 .493 4.5
Colorado Rockies 33 35 .485 5.0
San Diego Padres 33 38 .465 6.5

Dodgers could get more separation this weekend

It was just one week ago that the Dodgers/Giants/Rockies were all tied for second place, just a scant 1 1/2 behind the Diamondbacks.

NL West Standings on June 8th

Tm     W  L W-L%  GB  RS  RA pythW-L%
ARI   33 29 .532  -- 249 223     .550
LAD   32 31 .508 1.5 302 257     .573
COL   32 31 .508 1.5 278 310     .450
SFG   32 31 .508 1.5 268 295     .456
SDP   29 36 .446 5.5 253 302     .420

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/15/2018.

One week later a bit of separation has occurred. The Diamondbacks won five games but only the Dodgers could keep pace jumping into second place by themselves. The Rockies won only one game and have dropped into 4th place. The Giants went 2 – 3 and fell into 3rd place two full games behind the Dodgers.

Tm     W  L W-L%  GB  RS  RA pythW-L%
ARI   38 30 .559  -- 301 254     .577
LAD   35 32 .522 2.5 327 271     .585
SFG   34 35 .493 4.5 291 320     .457
COL   33 35 .485 5.0 302 346     .438
SDP   33 38 .465 6.5 273 320     .428

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/15/2018.

The Dodgers host the Giants for a three-game set at a good time. The Giants just finished a taxing trip East Coast road trip which ended in Florida and the getaway game involved a sixteen inning affair which should leave them a tad tired as they arrive in Los Angeles.

The Giants did get back Madison Bumgarner but they have lost Longoria for at least six weeks. Brandon Belt was one of the best hitters of early 2018 but he has been out of the lineup for several weeks. He was supposed to return next Monday but it is possible he will be activated with the injury to Longoria.  Pablo Sandoval has been playing 1st for Belt, and will now shift to 3rd base to replace Longoria. Pablo has had a bit of a revival this year and has a June OPS of .872 in 43 plate appearances.

The Giants have been led offensively in June by Brandon Crawford who sports a robust 1.187 OPS. Andrew McCutchen is not far behind with a June OPS of 1.071 with five home runs.

The Dodgers have been winning by hitting home runs or dancing their way to victory. This should be a fun series between the two rivals with much at stake as each team tries to stay within the striking distance of the Diamondbacks who found their footing once Paul Goldschmidt remembered who he was.