Oh look, an actual roster battle is happening

As usual, the final position spot on the Dodgers 25 man roster has created a bit of controversy.  In the end, none of it will probably matter but as fans debate whether they would rather have top outfield prospect, Alex Verdugo make the team or journeyman infielder Brad Miller, keep in mind that last April Max Muncy didn’t make the team out of spring training. Neither did Walker Buehler.  Logan Forsythe was the starting 2nd baseman. Corey Seager was the starting shortstop even with a bad wing.  Wilmer Font was the surprise pick on the 25 man roster.

As roster building goes, with the current Dodger roster, it would seem to make more sense in carrying the left hand hitting infielder Brad Miller over the left-handed hitting outfielder Alex Verdugo for these reasons:

  • Corey Seager has yet to even play in a major league spring training game. They say he will be ready when the season starts, but to expect Seager to be a nine-inning shortstop from the get-go seems a tad unrealistic. Which means that he’ll need a caddy, and that means one of the two current 2nd basemen, will need to play shortstop.
  • The Dodgers have two right-handed hitting second baseman, one of which will be the starter, and the other will be playing left field against right-hand pitching.
  • You don’t lose Alex Verdugo if you choose the Brad Miller insurance policy, but you do lose the Brad Miller insurance policy if you choose Alex Verdugo.
  • Alex Verdugo was not able to beat out Joc Pederson for the starting gig in left field against right-hand pitchers.   He may not have anything to prove by starting every day in AAA, but what value does he give the team on the bench?  He won’t be needed as a defensive replacement since Cody/A.J./Joc won’t need defensive help. His speed is mediocre so he doesn’t add a speed dimension.
  • Also, who can’t help but wonder if Brad Miller could be the next in the line after Justin Turner, Chris Taylor and Max Muncy turned around their middling careers after joining the Dodgers?  Heck, Taylor and Miller were once doing a job sharing of the shortstop gig for the Mariners.

Anyway, Jon Weisman asked his followers what they thought. Enjoy the thread.

The argument for Alex Verdugo is that his contact bat may play better off the bench. He might learn something about makeup if he’s around major league players and coaches like Chase Utley.

I don’t care either way, after a month, whatever decision they make today probably won’t be standing by May. Things happen, I don’t know what will happen, but I’ll always bet on something happening.

Max Muncy could fail miserably and thus make Cody Bellinger the 1st baseman again with Verdugo becoming the right fielder

Pollock could have yet another fluke injury

Joc could regress back to 2017

Seager could prove to be a brittle shortstop

Hernandez could fail at being a starting 2nd baseman, or Chris Taylor could fail at being a starting 2nd baseman.

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MLB regulates away the Marlon Anderson and Ronnie Belliard’s of the world.

While my two favorite new rules don’t go into effect until 2020, in 2019 MLB will put into effect a rule change with huge ramifications. It may not seem like much but having only one true trade deadline means that teams have to make up their minds thirty games before they are used to do doing so.

In the past, the Dodgers have made good use of the 2nd trading deadline that involved a player being put on waivers after the July 31st trade deadline. These players included the second greatest LAD Dodger season ever for a player with at least 50 plate appearances. The infamous Marlon Anderson who was acquired on August 31st, 2006 for   Jhonny Nunez.  You had to be there to appreciate what Marlon Anderson did in 2006. Manny Ramirez sits on the top of the list after being acquired in 2008, but Manny is a HOF level hitter so him hitting is no surprise. Marlon Anderon, on the other hand, had a career OPS+ of 84 and would be completely out of baseball in just three years. You could make a case that Marlon’s month of Sept is one of the flukiest months in the history of modern baseball.

Rk            Player  PA OPS+ Year   BA  OBP  SLG   OPS      Pos
1      Manny Ramirez 229  221 2008 .396 .489 .743 1.232       *7
2    Marlon Anderson  73  208 2006 .375 .431 .813 1.243   *7H/49
3        Rick Monday 156  194 1981 .315 .423 .608 1.031    *9H/7
4       Mike Kinkade  60  194 2002 .380 .483 .600 1.083    *H3/7
5     Hanley Ramirez 336  189 2013 .345 .402 .638 1.040    *6/HD
6        Mike Piazza 633  185 1997 .362 .431 .638 1.070    *2/DH
7     Pedro Guerrero 581  182 1985 .320 .422 .577  .999 *7538/H9
8         Manny Mota  50  178 1977 .395 .521 .500 1.021     *H/7
9     Gary Sheffield 612  176 2000 .325 .438 .643 1.081     *7/D
10   Ronnie Belliard  83  174 2009 .351 .398 .636 1.034     45/H
18   Justin Ruggiano  60  165 2015 .291 .350 .618  .968    *7/H9

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/14/2019.

Number ten on this list is Ronnie Belliard who was acquired on Sept 2, 2009 from the Nationals for Victor Garate.  At the time, longtime Dodger writer Chad Moriyama called Belliard a “shitty hitter”. Ronnie would put up a 174 OPS+ and helped lead the Dodgers to the 2009 Western Division Title. Joe Torre would bench the regular starting 2nd baseman Orlando Hudson and use Belliard. Ronnie proved so important to the team that when he missed the games from Monday – Friday the Dodgers lost every game.

On Sept 26th the Dodgers beat the Pirates behind three hits from Belliard and were six games in front of the Rockies. On Sept 27th, Belliard got hurt and the Dodgers lost the game. Belliard would not play again until Oct 3rd. They lost every game from Sept 28th thru Oct 2nd and the one-time six-game lead had been shaved to only one game. The Rockies beat them on Oct 2nd. Nothing was going right for the Dodgers headed into that game on Saturday Night except, for one thing, they had 21-year-old Clayton Kershaw on the mound. This was long before Clayton would establish himself as the premier pitcher in baseball, but on this night he gave a glimpse of what he would become. Against the hottest team in baseball, he shut them out for six innings. The problem, however, was that the Dodgers had also been shutout for six innings. Entering the bottom of the 7th the score was tied 0 – 0. Casey Blake led off with single, and James Loney put down the sacrifice bunt. Joe Torre then made one of his greatest managerial moves as a Dodger. He pinch-hit Ronny Belliard for Orlando Hudson. Ronny hadn’t had an at-bat since the previous Sunday but the Rockie pitcher was Franklin Morales a lefty. Belliard came through with a seeing-eye single between 1st and 2nd and drove in Casey Blake. The Dodgers erupt for five runs that innings and clinched the Division title but it was Belliard who put them on the board.

I was at the game with a TrueBlueLA Dodger get together. We celebrated with 20 – 30 of our favorite Dodger fans and that game is one of those that I’ll always remember as one of my favorite games.

Ronnie put up a 174 OPS+ for the Dodgers in 2009 compared to his career OPS+ of 96. He would be out of baseball just one year later.

Justin Ruggiano has the 18th best OPS+ for a LAD with at least 50 plate appearances. Justin was acquired in 2015 from the Seattle Mariners on August 31st. Justin tore it up as a Dodger putting up an OPS of .968, 290 OPS points higher as a Dodger than he did as a Mariner that season.  Justin gave the Dodgers 55 amazing at-bats, he would only get 84 more at-bats before his career was over.

You won’t be seeing any more stories like this, that era has come to an end, but for those of us who saw Marlon Anderson, Ronnie Belliard, and Justin Ruggiano put on their magic show in Sept, it was something we won’t’ forget.

 

MLB is about to get better

The owners and players have agreed to make some changes to how the game of major league baseball is played and I for one heartily cheer several of the new rules.  I’ve read numerous accounts of the changes but buried in the lede of just about all of them is a change I’ve advocated for since I started writing about baseball.  As a kid, I loved Sept baseball and the chance to watch the prospects, as an adult I’ve been appalled at how baseball simply played the game by different rules in the most important month of the season.

Starting in 2020 that will no longer be the case.

The 2020 provisions are likely to have a far greater impact on the field. In addition to the three-batter minimum, regular-season rosters will expand from 25 to 26 players while September rosters will contract to a maximum of 28.

No longer will teams play games in Sept with 15 – 20 pitchers available, and pinch-runners up the wazoo available to them.

Woo Hoo

For years I’ve been told I was crazy for wanting Sept baseball played like the rest of the year. Well, call me crazy, because baseball has finally come to their senses.

The other rule is that a pitcher must face a minimum of three batters. No more Tony LaRussa innings where it would take four pitchers to get three outs. This is the rule that baseball needed most.  It may not make for shorter games, but it will eliminate dead time as managers visit the mound, replace the pitcher, warm-ups, and do it all over again for the next hitter. If a pitcher can’t pitch to at least three hitters, he shouldn’t be in the major leagues. I was advocating for at least one out, or hopefully three, but I’ll take this.

There are changes that take place in 2019. July 31st will be the only trade deadline, no more waiver shenanigans after July 31st. Some of the Dodgers most important in-season acquisitions have come after July 31st so this could have a major impact on how teams approach the one and only trade deadline.

I only understand one change to the All-Star festivities. A one million dollar prize will be awarded to the winner. This is supposed to get the best hitters to participate. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. There are other changes but I don’t quite understand them yet.

Some may grumble about these changes, but I find them to be a breath of fresh air compared to the silly time clock rules they have tried to implement.

Plus not one mention of bringing the DH to the NL.

MLB 2019 Lineup Projections – Old Friends everywhere

MLB put out there projected 2019 lineups for every team and these lineups are populated with ex-Dodgers or players who had been in the Dodger farm system.

Nathan Eovaldi – slated to be number four in the Red Sox rotation

Carlos Santana – starting 1st baseman for Indians

Hanley Ramirez – starting DH for Indians

Manny Banuelos – slated to be number five in the White Sox rotation

Josh Reddick – starting RF for Houston

Brett Anderson – slated to be number three in the Oakland rotation

Frankie Montas – slated to be number five in the Oakland rotation

Dee Gordon – back to being a starting 2nd baseman, for Seattle

Miguel Rojas – slated to be the starting shortstop for the Marlins

Peter O’Brien – slated to be the starting RF for the Marlins – this is a bit of a shocker. O’Brien was in the Dodger system in 2017 and did quite poor. He was once a real prospect for the Diamondbacks but it never worked out.

Curtis Granderson – slated to be the starting LF for the Marlins.

Brian Dozier – slated to be the starting 2nd baseman for the Nationals

Zach Eflin – slated to be number four in the Philly rotation

Yazmani Grandal – slated to be the starting catcher for the Brewers

Yu Darvish – slated to be number two in the Cub rotation

Yasiel Puig – slated to be the starting right fielder for the Reds

Jose Peraza – slated to be the starting shortstop for the Reds

Matt Kemp and Scott Schebler are backup outfielders right now according to the beat writer who does the projected starting lineup but I doubt that holds up.

Alex Wood – slated to number three in the Red rotation

Zack Greinke – slated to be the ace of the Diamondback rotation

Manny Machado – slated to be the starting shortstop for the Padres

 

Ty Blach and Larry Jaster

My favorite baseball writer tweeted about Ty Blach today

and I remembered I had written about Ty Blach last summer.

It is not quite Larry Jaster, but the way in which Ty Blach dominates the Dodgers with a K rate bordering on non-existent is something else

A few minutes later a Giant fan tweeted.

which of course is the trigger for Larry Jaster. Even back in 2010 not even noted Dodger historian Eric Stephen knew about Larry Jaster so might be a good time for a refresher on the biggest Dodger killer. From the 2010 TrueBlueLA Phil Gurnee archives

The Dodgers won the pennant in 1966 in spite of Larry Jaster. I have no idea if any pitcher has ever enjoyed the kind of dominance Jaster did over the Dodgers in 1966. While the NL Champion Dodgers had trouble scoring runs, this was a team that still went to the World Series in 1966.

Pretty good bet that only a handful of TBLA readers have ever heard of Larry Jaster, so let me give you a quick recap about how this rookie almost kept the Dodgers from being embarrassed in October.  Jaster made his debut in 1965 against the Dodgers and threw one shutout inning. It was a harbinger of things to come. Alan Schwarz of ESPN picked Larry Jasters 1965 Sept debut of one of the top 10 debuts in baseball history

All Jaster did after debuting against the Dodgers for that one inning was:

A hard-throwing bonus baby known as “the Creeper” because he was so quiet, Jaster made a plenty loud debut in September 1965. He went 3-0, 1.61 in four appearances, completing all three of his starts.

That was nothing compared to what he did against the Dodgers in 1966.

April 25th, 1966, defeats the Dodgers 2 – 0, complete game shutout, seven hits, no walks, 7 K’s.

July 3rd, 1966, defeats Dodgers again 2 – 0, complete game shutout, three hits, one walk, 5 K’s

July 29th, 1966, defeats Dodgers 4 – 0, complete game shutout, five hits, two walks, 8 K’s

Aug 19, 1966, defeat Dodgers again 4 – 0 , complete game shutout, five hits, three walks, 7 K’s

Sept 28th, 1966 defeats Dodgers 2  – 0 , complete game shutout, four hits, two walks, 4 K’s

The shutout on the 28th was notable in that it almost knocked the Dodgers out of the World Series but they won two of their last four games to win the pennant by 1 1/2 games.

Jaster would only throw these five shutouts in 1966,  he only made 21 starts, and five of those starts were shutouts against the Dodgers.  Even with all that he would not be the ROY in 1966. Maybe the writers knew something. The 22 year old would only throw two more shutouts the rest of his career even though he pitched during the pitcher friendly 1967/1968 years.  He was pretty much done by 1969 but for one year he did everything he could to keep the Dodgers out of the 66 World Series.

I guess it does need to be mentioned that the 1966 Dodgers were shut out 17 times.

Still 45 scoreless innings against one team that went to the World Series was quite a feat, and I don’t think anyone has ever done that before or since but I’d love to know if that is true or not.

 

 

The Dodgers can handle all the shit that gets thrown at them

In their quest for the 7th straight postseason appearance, the Dodgers have built the team around pitching. They had so much pitching they moved Alex Wood in the Puig deal for prospects on the dollar.

In my previous column, I looked at what could happen if everything goes wrong for the team.  The odds of that happening are slim. This team is built to withstand gut punches up the wazoo. The infamous depth is at play once again.

Breaking it down:

1st Base – Max Muncy has the gig. If Max can’t handle it, he gets replaced by the most athletic 1st baseman in baseball in Cody Bellinger. Muncy was one of the top five hitters in the National League last year.  He can’t do that again, and I don’t care if he can’t. I don’t care if he fails miserably and ends back up in AAA. Because of Cody Bellinger.  Max Muncy is not supposed to be here but he is.  Which makes Cody a starting outfielder. For now.

2nd Base – Chris and Enrique are kind of the same player. They both can play shortstop. They both can play 2nd base. They both hit right-handed. They both have some pop. They both hit left-handers better than right-handers. They both can play any position in the outfield. One of them will be the starting 2nd baseman, the other will be an incredibly valuable utility player. I don’t care which one is which.

Shortstop – If had some money I’d bet on Seager being the NL MVP at 40 – 1 odds.  If he does get hurt, the team is going to suffer but for this exercise, Corey Seager kicks ass in 2019.

3rd Base – Justin Turner is the best Dodger 3rd baseman in history.  As good as the Penguin was, and as good as Beltre was in 2004, no Dodger 3rd baseman has done what Justin Turner has done for five years.  He’s going to do it again.

Catcher – OK, you have to be optimistic to say the Dodger catchers are going to be OK. I’m going to go two ways with this. Either Austin Barnes makes us forget 2018 and gives us a solid offensive performance or Keibert Ruiz is ready by August and starting for the Dodgers in the 2019 postseason.  I’m expecting nothing but leadership from Martin.

CF – AJ Pollock. I’m not happy we signed him, but you can’t deny that when he’s healthy he’s a hell of CF. Give me 130 games, that defense, and some offense and maybe just maybe he’s the steal of the 2019 Free Agent class.

LF – Joc or Alex. Whoever wins will be an above average left fielder.

RF – Cody Bellinger is going to rock the Dodger world in 2019. Yes, he is. Yes

But it is the pitching depth that is going to keep the Dodgers afloat if they run into problems.

Kershaw with something to prove. Let me have lots of that.

Walker Buehler doing his best Max Scherzer imitation. I’m on board

Ryu……….I love Ryu

Rich Hill, the best 39-year-old pitcher in baseball

Kenta – I personally would give the keys to Urias and put Kenta in the bullpen.

When Urias and Buehler are finally part of the rotation, they will make history.

Ross Stripling 2018 All-Star. No place for you but the bullpen. If you stay in the bullpen all year, the Dodgers win 100 games.

Kenley Jansen looks like someone out to prove something.

If Joe Kelly is pitching against the Red Sox in 2019, I hope the front office doubters are offering platitudes to them.

 

Defending Six Titles – Is this the year the shit finally hits the fan?

The Dodger accomplishments over the past six years are historical numbers. They have won six straight National League Western Division Championships.  The Division setup has been around since 1969 and no NL Western team has ever won more than three in a row other than the Dodgers now having done it six times.  They have been in the NLCS three years in a row.  They have been in the World Series two years in a row. They haven’t won a World Series, but they have done just about everything else.

Yet, I read and hear Dodger fans who seem to think the front office has mismanaged this franchise.  The record is clear. The front office has done its job. If the right players had performed at the right time, the franchise would have at least one more World Championship.  They can only build a team to win, but evidently, they didn’t build the team to win the right way.

Too much reliance on platooning is why they lost in the World Series

Too much reliance on players who can play everywhere is why they lost in the World Series

Too much reliance on power and not enough on situational hitting is why they lost in the World Series

Too much over analysis is why they lost in the World Series.

Evidently, all of above is why Clayton Kershaw couldn’t hold a four-run lead twice in game five of the 2017 series.

Evidently, all of the above is why Yu Darvish was blown out in both his starts in the 2017 World Series.

Evidently, Boston simply wasn’t the better team in 2018, even though the only win the Dodgers could manage was a crazy extra-inning affair.

Yet, if the boy cries wolf long enough, eventually the wolf will show up and eat your lambs. 2019 might be the year the wolf shows up. Not because the Front Office is mismanaged but simply because the odds are against them after six straight years of success.

What could go wrong with a team that was in the World Series and only made several moves during the winter?

The Rotation is probably the best in baseball when everyone is healthy. Even during the six-year run, they have had their share of misfortune. Ryu missed almost two years. Urias had his phenom run aborted early. Kershaw has spent at least a month a year on the DL for three years in a row. Hill had his blister. McCarthy never got show why he signed. Kazmir never got to show why he was signed.

But what if multiple problems hit in the same year?

We could start with Kershaw.  He could simply spiral downhill as fast as King Felix did at the same age. Or his back could kick back up again. Or his shoulder/elbow may simply give out after so many innings.

Ryu could blow out his problematic shoulder

Hill could either blister up or simply pitch like a 39-year-old pitcher

Kenta has never seemed as good as the numbers say he is. The thing with Kenta is that he’s on a very team friendly contract because of that MRI. At some point that MRI might come into play.

Walker Buehler has had his TJ. Many of those folk end up with two.

Julio Urias has yet to prove he can pitch a full season load.

Ross Stripling was an All-Star and then was pretty bad. Which one is the real one? Hopefully not the 2nd half version.

None of these may happen, one or two may happen, but in a season when the shit hits the fan it is possible that three or four of them may happen.

How about the bullpen?

The Dodgers never really replaced Brandom Morrow from the 2017 team. They tried with Koehler but Koehler never pitched. This year they are trying with Joe Kelly. Bullpens are weird. The Dodgers have built excellent regular season bullpens, but you’d be generous if you said the postseason bullpen has done the job well enough to win a World Championship. The meltdowns have been infamous. I’m not even going to break down the bullpen, too many pieces, just suffice to say, that sometimes bullpens break. It probably won’t but not like this bullpen as it stands makes you think that they are shatterproof.

Infield?

Max Muncy was a revelation. That was pure luck. No matter how you spin it, Max Muncy was signed for depth and if you had told the Front Office they were going rely on Max Muncy to get 500 plate appearances in 2018 they would have quivered at the thought. There might be dozens of Max Muncy’s in the minor leagues. Maybe only one of them could do what he did. Maybe more could.  I can’t look at 2018 and ignore everything else. Maybe I should, maybe he can even be better after a full season. But for this exercise, Max Muncy becomes a pumpkin and Cody Bellinger heads back to 1st base.

David Freese is our platoon favorite. He crushed lefties when he became a Dodger, but Freese hadn’t had an OPS+ over 110 since 2012. He’s going to regress, the regress might be hard.

Can Chris Taylor or Enrique Hernandez really be the starting second baseman?

Corey Seager was an MVP type of player. Multiple surgeries later Vegas pegs him as 40 – 1 to win the NL MVP. Can he even play shortstop? Can his body handle a full season load? Can he get back to what he was as a hitter?  If Corey Seager is not in the running for MVP, that puts extra stress on the rest of the team. And you know what happens when to much stress is placed on weaker components.

Justin Turner might be the best Dodger 3rd baseman of all time. He’s also older, and the team was out of synch when he missed all of April last year. If he goes down again………

From an offensive standpoint, Russell Martin and Austin Barnes were horrible last year. They are expected to bounce back, but they could simply be horrible again.

Cody Bellinger has proven he’s an excellent 1st baseman and a very good center fielder. The Dodgers are going to put him in RF. I’m not sure if that is ever a good thing to take a player off of their best position but they have to find out if Muncy is for real and for some reason they signed AJ Pollock to be their CF. AJ could be the reason why the Dodgers defend their title successfully or he could be the reason why fans point to front office incompetence if Pollock breaks down, once again. Is Alex Verdugo ready for prime time? He better be ready if Joc can’t replicate his 2018 success.

Lots of shit would have to hit the fan for the Dodgers to unravel in 2019 but sometimes shit turns to diarrhea and you can’t stop the flow no matter how much toilet paper you kept in reserve.

MLB LAD Pipeline top thirty breakdown

MLB pipeline released their top 30 Dodger prospects for 2019 a few days ago, and as we have done in the past we break it down.

In 2018 Walker Buehler was head of the class and is now the hurler expected to lead the Dodger rotation into 2019.

Alex Verdugo is now considered the top prospect though I’d have gone with Keibert. Two players acquired in the Puig trade crack the top thirty with Jeter and Josiah Gray.  Dustin May moves into the top pitching prospect spot. Gavin Lux is now the top infielder though he might be pushed by Jeter Downs if Downs is as good as we have heard.

Just to show how strong the Dodger catching depth is, they have three catchers in their top ten with Ruiz, Smith, and the new teen-ager Diego Cartaya. Not far behind them is Connor Wong at 14. This deserves its own article because owning the catching depth in important in an era where MLB catchers have fallen behind the rest of baseball.

MLB Pipeline finally figured out something the rest of us knew almost two years ago and that is Yadier Alvarez and Jeren Kendall have a lot to prove before they can be called prospects again.

Players who were in the 2018 MLB Pipeline and made the biggest jump were Tony Gonsolin going from 24th to 5th, Gavin Lux going from 13th to 4th, and Dustin May going from 11th to 3rd.

Caleb Ferguson might have made the biggest jump but he used up his rookie status. The pre-2018 ranking had Caleb at 16 and I think he’d be right behind Dustin May if he was still a rookie. Walker Buehler was the top-ranked prospect last year and he rewarded that ranking with one of the great rookie seasons in LAD history.  No one else graduated from the 2018 ranking.

Players traded or taken in the Rule 5 draft from the 2018 ranking were Yusniel Diaz, Kyle Famer, and Drew Jackson.

Players dropped from the 2018 Pipeline ranker were Starling Heredia, Jordan Sheffield, Imani Abdullah, Errol Robinson, Morgan Cooper, James Marinan,  Romer Cuadrado, Ronny Brito, Luke Raley, Donavan Casey. That is a lot of players from one year to the next.

Replacing those players were Jacob Amaya, Gerardo Carrilo, Omar Estevez, Edwin Uceta, Leonel Valera, Braydon Fisher, John Rooney, Robinson Ortiz, Marshall Kasowski, Miquel Vargas, and Zach Willeman. 

ProspecName BirthDate AGE 2,019 2018 Jump POS Draft/FA
Alex Verdugo* 5/15/1996 22 1 2 1 CF 2/2014
Keibert Ruiz 7/20/1998 20 2 3 1 C Int/FA
Dustin May 9/6/1997 21 3 11 8 RHP 3/2016
Gavin Lux 11/23/1997 21 4 13 9 SS 1/2016
Tony Gonsolin 5/14/1994 24 5 24 19 RHP 9/2016
Will Smith 3/28/1995 23 6 9 3 C 1/2016
Dennis Santana 4/12/1996 22 7 10 3 RHP Int/FA
Jeter Downs 7/27/1998 20 8 Not in System NA SS/2nd 32nd Pick by Reds
Mitchell White 12/28/1994 24 9 4 -5 RHP 2/2016
Diego, Cartaya 9/7/2001 17 10 NR NA Catcher IntFA/2018
D.J. Peters 12/12/1995 23 11 6 -5 OF 4/2016
Jacob Amaya 09/03/1998 20 12 NR Boom Infielder 11th/2017
Edwin Rios* 4/21/1994 24 13 12 -1 1st/3rd 6/2015
Connor Wong 5/19/1996 22 14 15 1 C 3/2017
Michael Grove 12/18/1996 22 15 NR NA RHP 2/2018
Jeren Kendall 2/4/1996 23 16 7 -9 OF 1/2017
Yadier Alvarez 3/7/1996 22 17 8 -9 RHP Int/FA
Josiah Gray 12/21/1997 21 18 Not In System NA RHP 2nd/2018 by Reds
Gerardo Carrillo 09/13/1998 20 19 NR Boom RHP Int/FA 2016
Omar Estevez 2/25/1998 21 20 NR Boom 2b/SS Int/FA 2015
Edwin Uceta 01/09/1998 21 21 NR Boom RHP Int/FA 2016
Leonel Valera 07/09/1999 19 22 NR Boom RHP Int/FA 2015
Braydon Fisher 07/26/2000 18 23 NR Boom RHP 4/2018
John Rooney 01/28/1997 22 24 NR Boom LHP 3/2018
Robinson Ortiz 01/04/2000 19 25 NR Boom LHP Int/FA 2017
Marshall Kasowski 3/10/1995 23 26 NR Boom RHP 13/2017
Cristian Santana 2/24/1997 22 27 14 -13 3B/1st Int/FA
Miguel Vargas 11/17/1999 19 28 NR Boom 3B/1st Int/FA 2017
Zach Willeman 3/27/1996 22 29 NR Boom RHP 19th/2017
Matt Beatty 4/28/1993 25 30 23 -7 1st/3rd 12/2015

 

Waving the white flag

There was this silly talk after Feb 7th trade deadline that the Clippers were tanking.  They had just traded their best player and their starting shooting guard. Even though the Clippers were in front of the Kings and Lakers for the 8th spot in the seeding, every pundit around said the Kings and Lakers would surpass them.

I had friends walk up to me at softball and say they were sorry the Clippers were giving up. It struck me as funny so I wrote a post about it and put it on facebook for my softball friends to see.

Giving up? These folk forgot one important aspect of the Clipper deadline deals. Patrick Beverly was still a Clipper and no team with Patrick Beverly is going to tank. If Jerry West and company wanted the team to tank they would have also traded Beverly. I could understand those who don’t follow the team to think they were waving a white flag. I couldn’t understand those who do follow to say the same thing.  Patrick Beverly is the player you hate the most when he plays against your team because he is relentless. If there is a player in Los Angeles who makes his teammates better, his name is Patrick Beverly.

Not only did the Clippers keep Pat Beverly but they acquired three veterans who would help the team in the postseason hunt and a center. An actual center. Zubac is not very good yet, but he replaced Gortat who while a good guy had become a horrible basketball player whose only skill was setting screens.  The Clippers certainly took a hit with Harris headed to Philly, but they were able to add Patrick Beverly and Landry Shamet to the starting lineup, and JaMychal Green replaced Scott on the second unit seamlessly.

There is a team in Los Angeles that is waving the white flag, but it is not the Los Angeles Clippers.

Living in the Past

The Laker franchise is either the greatest or second greatest NBA franchise in history. Numerous Championship banners along with numerous HOF player banners are displayed all over Staples Center. The greatest players to ever put on an NBA uniform graced the purple and gold. Kobe, Gasol, Shaq, Magic, Worthy, Cooper, Kareem, Wilkes, Goodrich, West, Wilt, Baylor.

All of that, however, is in the past.

The Lakers are 4 – 22 against the Clippers in the past 26 games.

The Lakers haven’t been to the playoffs since the 2012/2013 season when they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs

The Lakers hired Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka to turn the franchise around

The Lakers signed the brightest young coach in basketball

The Lakers signed the best player in basketball last summer

The Lakers have the 2nd overall pick from 2016

The Lakers have the 2nd overall pick from 2017

The Lakers have the steal of the 2017 draft

and the Lakers still can’t make the playoffs.

You know things have changed when you are watching a Clipper / Laker game and you feel sorry for the Lakers. They badly needed to win this game after blowing two games against teams they had to beat. It wasn’t going to be easy because Brandon Ingrahm decided to sit this game out, but the Clippers were still starting two rookies and a 21-year-old center who just a few weeks ago was on the Lakers. The Lakers had LeBron and Rondo and for 20 minutes it looked like they would be enough. It wasn’t, the Lakers didn’t have Patrick Beverly, the player you hate the most in the NBA if he isn’t on your team. In a familiar pattern, the Clippers beat the Lakers, just as they have done twenty-two times in the last twenty-six meetings. This time, however, the game meant something. It was probably the coup de grace for the Laker postseason aspirations. In a game they had to win, at home, they couldn’t do it.

The Lakers may eventually turn the franchise around but betting on a 35-year-old NBA player to be the centerpiece of that future is a risky move. This summer free agents will need to decide if they want to team up with a front office that can’t even get a team with LeBron on it into the last playoff spot. Why would they think that management could deliver the rest of the team needed to win a Championship? Just look around the NBA and notice the players the Lakers jettisoned so they could keep the core they kept. Julius Randle, Thomas Bryant, Larry Nance, D’Angelo Russel, and Jordan Clarkson.  Oh, and Sweet Lou Williams. Is Kevin Durant going to sign up with that?

Maybe, I hope someone signs up because I want the Purple / Gold to be relevant again. I don’t want LeBron’s last years to look like Kobe’s.