As of today, Matt Kemp has the highest wRC+ for National League left fielders. Matt Kemp has the third highest WRC+ for any positional National League player. We are now thirty-five games into the season which is about 21% of the season and Matt Kemp isn’t slowing down, he’s getting better.
Many of us hoped for a resurgent Matt Kemp but nobody, not even his biggest fan, one Bobby Down could have foretold that Matt Kemp would be beasting at this level.
And now the National League overall wRC+ leaderboard for May 9th.
Fangraphs dropped their updated LAD top 23 Prospect list today, and I have to admit I have some quibbles with it. Acknowledging they know way more than I do about such things I still feel the need to put in my two cents.
This is a good article to read as they also address many other parts of the farm system besides the top-ranked 23. I do wonder why they stop at 23, it seems like such an odd number. I should probably ask (and I did). 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30. But they stop at 23. Must be a reason.
At this point, Yadier Alvarez is simply projection, but I don’t think you can rank someone that high simply based on projection when his actual production has been terrible. Dennis Santana, on the other hand, has had to earn his way up the ranking because he didn’t come in with a multi-million dollar bonus and has had to prove himself at every level. Santana is probably going to pitch in the major leagues this year and it could be an impactful debut. For me, Santana is clearly the Dodgers second-best pitching prospect and maybe even the top pitching prospect now that Walker is in the Dodger rotation.
You can really tell the scouting against the production when it comes to Alvarez and Ferguson. Alvarez gives up more runs in one inning than Ferguson has done all year and Ferguson can’t crack their top 23 list. Ferguson is mentioned later in the article but this seems like a huge omission for a Dodger top 23 prospect ranking list.
Jordan Sheffield is still listed as a top ten prospect. He doesn’t appear to be a major league rotation arm so if his future is in the bullpen just how dominant can he be in that role? We won’t know until he makes that transition and he might never do that until he’s actually asked to pitch in the major leagues.
I’d be moving Diaz and Lux into top ten, along with Connor Wong just sitting outside looking in. Diaz was just added to the Baseball America top 100 updated list, granted he barely made the cut. I may be getting ahead of myself with Lux but he is a shortstop and possibly the only shortstop in the Dodger system who might have a major league career in front of him. He’s also a left-handed shortstop and I love those.
They did mention in the article that a concern for Ruiz is based on historical issues related to his age. I’m ignoring those concerns myself and instead considering the fact that a 19-year-old has been so fast tracked by the Dodgers that they must love him internally because there is no actual reason the Dodgers needed to put Ruiz at AA after less than half a year at Rancho.
The only other concerns here are the attrition rate of teenage catching prospects generally and Ruiz’s lack of athleticism specifically.
The final sentence is a hurtful one.
It’s a very well-funded operation that looks poised to sustain success for a while, even as the pitching at the big-league level grows flimsy and old.
Rich Hill is flimsy and old but that broad brush wouldn’t appear to apply to the rest of the rotation. I’d have said “Flimsy or Old”. As Alex Wood is flimsy but not old. I simply can’t say that Kershaw is flimsy even as he hits the DL again. I have a different opinion of what “flimsy” is.
|Rk||Name||Age||Position||My Notes||My Rank|
|1||Walker Buehler||23||RHP||Yup, electric arm, only question is can it handle the stress of starting in a MLB rotation||1|
|2||Alex Verdugo||21||RF||Still taking Keibert Ruiz over Verdugo||3|
|3||Yadier Alvarez||22||RHP||I really don’t get this. At some point performance has to matter and he’s been horrible for two years now||11|
|4||Will Smith||23||C||Still taking Keibert Ruiz over Will Smith||7|
|5||Keibert Ruiz||19||C||I’d have him 2nd on this list||2|
|6||D.J. Peters||22||RF||He’s banging at AA, doing as expected||5|
|7||Mitch White||23||RHP||Just showed up, has lots to prove. Staying healthy being a big one||6|
|8||Dennis Santana||22||RHP||Never hurt, mostly dominating, he’s my 2nd best pitching prospect in the Dodgers system.||4|
|9||Dustin May||20||RHP||Finally pitched this week, still far away.||8|
|10||Jordan Sheffield||22||RHP||Not seeing anything MLB rotation worthy, has to be bullpen bound.|
|11||Yusniel Diaz||21||RF||Top ten for me, BA just added him to their revised top 100||10|
|12||Jeren Kendall||22||CF||Not doing much in hitter-friendly Cal League||15|
|13||Starling Heredia||19||CF||Not doing much in cold weather Great Lakes.||14|
|14||Edwin Rios||23||1B||Hasn’t played all year after monster spring||16|
|15||Cristian Santana||21||3B||Hit tool||13|
|16||Matt Beaty||24||3B||Hasn’t played all year after great 2017||17|
|17||Connor Wong||21||C||Fast start, was destroying the Cal League||12|
|18||Gavin Lux||20||SS||Destroying Cal League, moving way up for me||9|
|19||Drew Jackson||24||SS||I see nothing, I rate Locastro higher||WNL|
|20||Robinson Ortiz||18||LHP||Brand new name, no nothing about im||?|
|21||Breyvic Valera||26||SS||Utility player at best. Very unimpressive MLB at-bats||WNL|
I’m not sure how to best measure a man or if I’m the person who has the right to put a ruler on a man given all of my own shortcomings, but I’m going to give it a shot here.
A man passed away today, a man I didn’t know that well but always enjoyed the few times we were in company together. Papa Down came from the truebluela community, one of the few father/son combinations on the board. Possibly the only father/son combination that I’m aware of. They were a bit of an odd pair with Bobby Down being the enthusiastic young man who was but a boy when he started commenting on truebluela and his father, the grizzled veteran who had seen more than most of us and sometimes let us know just how ignorant we were.
This may end up being more about Bobby Down than about Papa Down because I know more about Bobby. Papa was indeed a character, he looked like someone who was cast as a character actor for any bar shot. The patron that everyone knew, not just at that particular bar but at every bar in Simi Valley. Except Papa Down wasn’t a character actor, he was indeed that character. I know this to be true because I had an occasional drink with Papa Down and just the sound of his voice would bring people over to say hi to him, even if they had not seen him in years. The bartender, the patrons, and even the beer vendors. It kind of felt like you were having lunch with the Godfather of Simi Valley. That is how I remember him.
Was he a good man? I don’t know enough about him to say that for sure. What I do know is that he raised one of the most polite young men I’ve ever met, and if the saying is true that the apple doesn’t fall far from the cart, I would guess that Papa Down was indeed a good man with rough edges who probably had friends everywhere he went. His life may have been cut short today, but he left this world with a family who loved him, a multitude of friends, and the knowledge that he’ll be missed because of the life he led.
We should all be so lucky.
Normally a series against the Padres can solve whatever ailment a Dodger team is feeling, but this weekend in Mexico, the Padres refused to be the antidote to the Dodgers injury bug.
Winning the last two games against the Diamondbacks, the Dodgers won the first game of the Padre series and had taken three games off the Diamondback lead. That was the highlight.
They lost Saturday even though they knocked the Padre starter out of the game in 3rd inning. Kenta was okay but Fields, and Hudson gave up four runs in relief.
On Sunday Dodger fans learned that Clayton Kershaw was headed to the disabled list for the third year in a row. They took that news and bowed their bats to rookie Eric Lauer who along with three other Padre pitchers shut out the Dodgers. Brad Hand finished the series by striking out the Dodgers in the 9th inning. He had done the same thing on Saturday night.
Kenley Jansen did not pitch in any of the three games and Brad Hand reminded Dodger fans what Jansen used to do when pitching the ninth inning.
Franchy Cordero is fun to watch.
The Dodgers are now closer to last place than first place as they gave up another game to the Diamondbacks and now trail them by eight games as they get ready to play them two games at home.
It is starting to seem doubtful that Clayton Kershaw will opt out of his contract given three straight DL stints in three years. This is just bicep tendonitis, but the Dodgers are going to pay him $70 million in 2019/2020. Does he really walk away from that in hopes of a bigger payday given he can’t even pitch 200 innings a year anymore? Would anyone give him $30 Million per year in his thirties for 180 innings of baseball? I don’t think so.
Walker Buehler has looked electric, it is just to bad he is now replacing Ryu instead of Rich Hill.
Kenley Jansen got two saves in back to back games last week and didn’t strike out anyone in either save. I wonder when the last time that happened for any Dodger closer. I hope it never happens again this year.
I think in retrospect we can say the Dodgers should have traded for Brian Dozier instead of Logan Forsythe and that the Twins were very smart for not trading Dozier for Jose De Leon.
With all the injuries the Dodgers have had, they will still have a plethora of major league capable outfield options when Puig comes off the DL this week. Puig/Joc/Kemp and Puig/Hernandez/Verdugo. Does Verdugo stay? Joc picked a great time to get hot. Once again, Toles picked a bad time to be hurt.
Seems like a perfect time to move Matt Kemp if they can but the only contending team with a hole at DH are the defending World Champions. Evan Gattis has been horrible. Kendry Morales has also been horrible for the Blue Jays, but you can easily see a scenario where Donaldson is moved to DH because of his shoulder issues and they bring up Vlady Junior to play 3rd base.
I’ve never seen a prospect with as much swag as Alex Verdugo. By swag I mean the pads everywhere, the batting gloves (what are those, mittens), the lobster running glove, and of course the chain. Verdugo had a great week, showing off most of his skills, I heard alot of folk loving on him. Eric Byrnes of MLB Network is in love with him. Me, not so much. This hasn’t happened in a long time where I’ve seen a Dodger prospect who I just don’t like. I’m trying to figure it out, but have been unable to put my finger on it.
Has anyone asked the question that with these elongated running gloves, if they touch the base before a force or tag play are they considered an extension of the hand? That seems unfair to me given they are longer than your fingers or do the fingers go right upto the end of the lobster glove?
Oh, and here is the lastest Dodger DL list:
Name Last Updated Injury Type Injury Details Logan Forsythe May 01 2018 Shoulder Forsythe has been designated for the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation and is not expected to return before the middle of May. Rich Hill May 06 2018 Finger Hill has landed on the 10-day disabled list due to a crack on the fingernail on his left middle finger. He is expected to be activated in time for Tuesdays game against the Diamondbacks. Clayton Kershaw May 06 2018 Bicep Kershaw has been placed on the 10-day disabled list due to left biceps tendinitis and there is currently no timetable for his recovery. Tom Koehler April 30 2018 Shoulder Koehler has been transferred to the 60-day disabled list after he suffered a mild anterior capsule strain in his right shoulder. He is likely to be sidelined until sometime after the All-Star break. Yasiel Puig May 06 2018 Hip Puig has been designated for the 10-day disabled list due to a left hip pointer and a left foot contusion. He is likely to be activated in time for Wednesdays game against the Diamondbacks. Hyun-Jin Ryu May 03 2018 Groin Ryu is on the 10-day disabled list with a left groin strain and will likely be out of action until the end of July. Corey Seager May 06 2018 Elbow Seager is on the 10-day disabled list after undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery to repair a right UCL sprain. Justin Turner March 30 2018 Wrist Turner has been designated for the 10-day disabled list due to a non-displaced fracture of his left wrist and is expected to miss six-to-eight weeks of action. Julio Urias February 23 2018 Shoulder Urias is recuperating from a surgery to repair the anterior capsule in his left shoulder and is on the 60-day disabled list. He is not expected to be available until the second half of the 2018 season. Alex Wood May 06 2018 Hamstring Wood is battling hamstring cramps and it is unknown when he will make his next start.
Lux was an easy pick for the Farm Factory Award for the Week of 04/30 – 05/06. For the week Lux went twelve for twenty-four with five walks but that is just the tip of the iceberg for how hot Gavin Lux has been.
It took Gavin Lux about two years to get his those hitting shoes fitted just right after being drafted number one by the Dodgers in 2016 and just as the Dodgers were looking light in middle infield prospects, Gavin is giving the Dodgers some hope that they have an in-house option for the future when Corey Seager will need to move off of shortstop. He could also be helping the Dodgers in making his case as a valuable trade chip if a certain team would like a shortstop in return for their own. A number one pick always has some cache, a number one pick who is beasting has even more.
On the season Lux has a triple stat line of .351 / .451 / .920. For the year Lux has an OPS of 1.062.
His leaderboard highlights for the California League so far:
- 1st in Runs Scored with 25
- 1st in walks with 20
- 2nd in OB% at .451
- 2nd in hits with 39
- 3rd in BA at .351
- 3rd in doubles with 10
The Dodgers used Lux at shortstop for sixty-five games and at second for forty-three games in 2017. This year Lux is almost exclusively being used as a shortstop with twenty-one of twenty-seven starts coming at the shortstop position.
Other Prospect Notes:
Two of the Dodgers best pitching prospect finally showed up this past week with Mitchell White making his first start of the year for Tulsa and Dustin May making his first start of the year for Rancho.
Donovan Solano continues to tear up AAA in Oklahoma. The veteran shortstop is hitting .372 but is not on the 40 man roster.
Manny Banuelos continues to make his case for a spot in the Dodger rotation if anyone else should hit the DL. The lefty made another strong start, pitching five scoreless innings in his only start last week. Manny has only given up six earned runs in six starts this year, and more importantly has only walked seven in thirty innings which is the best IP/Walk ratio of his career.
Yadier Alvarez continues to get pounded and just went on the DL.
Dennis Santana and Caleb Ferguson continue to pitch well for Tulsa. Ferguson has now made three straight starts in which he has not given up a run. Overall, Caleb has given up just one earned run all season in twenty-seven innings.
It was twenty-two months ago when the Dodgers traded for Bud Norris to replace Clayton Kershaw in the rotation. It seemed laughable at the time given we were talking about Bud Norris, but Bud had a bit of a comeback season going on in Atlanta and had just thrown seven innings of shutout ball in his last start for the Braves.
The Dodgers acquired Norris at the end of June, and he made his first start on July 1st and threw six innings of shutout ball against the Rockies. Norris would go onto make nine starts for the Dodgers, of which two (including the first one) could have been construed as successful. That wasn’t what the Dodgers needed and he ended up in the bullpen and did not pitch in the 2016 postseason.
The following season, Bud couldn’t find employment until Feb 1st, when the Angels signed him to major league pittance of $1.75 million. Bud Norris was a bit of a savior for the Angels as all their current and future closers fell by the wayside, and on April 22nd, Bud Norris notched the first of nineteen saves for the Angels. He was lights out for the Angels in April/May/June posting OPS against of .492 / .624 / .658. That all came to a halt in July and August where he was tattooed with an OPS against of .921 / .960.
Overall, Bud Norris appeared in 60 games, it was the first time in his career that he spent almost all of it as a relief pitcher. He had enough success that you would have thought he could get a major league contract.
Bud had to wait this year until Feb 14th to get his major league contract. Luckily for the Cardinals, they reached out and brought him into their bullpen for $3 Million. Bud Norris has helped save the Cardinal season. Going into the season, they were expected to use Luke Gregerson as the closer. Luke had 66 career saves but was coming off his worst season for the World Champion Astros. Gregerson was not healthy so the Cardinals signed Greg Holland to be the closer on March 31st. They gave Holland a one year $14 Million dollar deal to be the closer for 2018. Since they cut it close Holland was not going to ready to start the year as the closer so they turned to Dominic Leone. Leone blew a save and lost the game in his second appearance. In his fifth appearance on April 8th he lost another game. On April 9th the Cardinals panicked and activated Holland who promptly gave up four runs and lost the game.
The Cardinal bullpen was hemorrhaging and you know who staunched the bleeding?
Bud Norris. Bud Norris has six saves. Bud Norris has zero blown saves. Bud Norris has struck out twenty-two batters in only fifteen innings with only two walks, fifteen hits, and three earned runs. He has three one-run saves. He has a FIP of 1.75. Bud Norris has been one of the top ten relief pitchers in the National League and it isn’t a mirage. His underlying numbers back it all up.
|Carl Edwards Jr.||0.7||13.2||15.15||3.29||0.66||0.89||2.39|
This was a guy anyone could have had as late as February 1st, 2018. Anyone. The Cardinals signed him. The twenty Dodger analytics and the enlightened Dodger front office wanted this guy once for a different purpose when he replaced Kershaw. Too bad they couldn’t have seen how a repurposed Bud Norris is now just another failed starter making his mark as a dominant relief pitcher.
It may not last, he wore out last year, but it is also possible that with a full season of relief outings under his belt, Bud Norris is coming into his own.
First the good news. Once Ryu went down and the Dodgers had to turn to the bullpen in the second inning, it seemed very unlikely they could pull out a victory. When they only managed to score two runs it seemed even unlikelier. Yet, baseball being baseball the bullpen shut down the Diamondbacks until Kenley Jansen entered the game, and luckily for Jansen, they hit three balls right at Dodger fielders and the team came away with a well earned 2 – 1 victory to break their four-game losing streak.
Dodger fans can rejoice for a brief moment with the improbable victory last night but it came with a cost. For the past thirty days, Ryu was neck and neck with Alex Wood for the best pitcher on the team and the beleaguered Dodgers could ill afford to lose him but that is what happened yesterday. Not only did the Dodgers lose Ryu, the offense continued to sputter tallying only two runs once again.
The Dodgers have played ten games starting with Monday, April 23rd. In those ten games, they have scored two runs four times, and three runs twice. In the midst of all that was the fifteen run outburst on Saturday but that outburst can’t hide the fact, this Dodger team, as it is currently constructed, is going to struggle to score runs.
If you have a team that is going to struggle to score, you need to have the pitching to offset that struggle. You need a bullpen to shut down the opposition so those meager runs can hold up for victory at least 55% of the time. Last night, for the first time in a week, the bullpen did the job and was fantastic.
The closer, not so much. Kenley Jansen got the save but it was not a save any Dodger fan can find solace in. Kenley had a two-run lead to work with. He gave back one of those runs and ended the game with the winning run on base. He faced five batters, and every batter struck the ball hard. He didn’t throw one swing and miss pitch. Not one. Out of nineteen pitches. Kenley Jansen cannot be successful if hitters make contact. The velocity seems back, but the wicked cutter is not so wicked. Time should solve this, but it has been a month and every Dodger fan is holding their breath when KJ is asked to bring home a save. Last year Jansen walked seven hitters in 68 innings. This year he has walked six in just twelve innings. I didn’t heave a sigh of relief last night after that effort. I won’t sigh that relief until I see Jansen throw unhittable pitches, and we have not seen that at all this year. This team is not good enough offensively without Turner/Seager to have a closer who can’t get it done. The next time, the lead may not be two runs.
This team can afford one hit to the rotation at a time. Walker Buehler is a fantastic option to replace anyone in the rotation, but beyond Walker, it could get dicey. Rich Hill is supposed to be back this weekend so Walker could slide right into Ryu’s spot as Ryu mends from his leg injury. Hopefully, they don’t have another pitcher go down.
But………..isn’t every Dodger fan wondering if Kershaw’s back is okay? He certainly isn’t pitching like Kershaw. Is it just the first step in a natural declining phase for a 30-year-old pitcher with almost 2,000 innings on his arm? Or is it more sinister, and a back issue? Given he has had two consecutive seasons with back issues it does seem reasonable to me, to worry about this issue.
The Dodgers didn’t have enough confidence in Brock Stewart to make the start this past Monday, giving that start instead to a pitcher who never pitched more than two innings in any game in 2018. Would they turn once again to Ross Stripling if they need another starter? Dodger fans have to hope they don’t find out the answer to that question.
With the season-ending injury to Corey Seager and the comments by the Dodgers that they expect to use internal options how will the Dodgers look for the rest of the year?
The Dodgers had two options to replace Seager, Chris Taylor or Kiké Hernandez. Taylor was the starting center fielder but the Dodger opted to remove Taylor from center field and install him as the everyday shortstop. Center field now looks like it will be manned by Kiké and Joc. One week ago that seemed absurd but Joc is now the hottest hitting Dodger and that platoon looks as good as I expected the left field platoon of Kiké/Joc to be before Matt Kemp joined the party.
Speaking of Matt Kemp the Dodgers are quite lucky he decided to get in baseball shape because now they need him more than ever. Alex Verdugo will now take over the Joc role as his caddy. Verdugo has a chance now to prove what his high prospect status was all about. He showed off his arm yesterday but airmailing a throw home is not what we are used to from right field. The strength is there, but is the accuracy? He also looked a bit out of touch in RF on one ball. If Matt Kemp had flailed at that ball as Verdugo did the anti-Kemps would still be mocking him today.
Eventually, Justin Turner (hopefully two weeks) will return to 3rd base. How much he will hit like Justin Turner remains to be seen, as wrist injuries could be troublesome for a while.
Eventually, Yasiel Puig will return to right field. Puig needs to get going. For a while, he was hitting the ball hard into hard luck, but before his recent injury, he had simply stopped hitting.
Eventually, Logan Forsythe will return to second base. And that might be the biggest problem with all this switching around. Kiké can no longer play second since he’s now in CF against LHP. The Dodgers have no viable minor league prospects to take his spot. Logan was not very good last year until late in the season. They attributed that to early season injuries. He has been horrible so far this year, and maybe once again that is attributable to injuries. Logan Forsythe will need to hit when he comes back. Chase has been outstanding with the bat, but his glove now looks like that of an old second baseman. Eventually, his bat will too. The other Dodger option for second base if Logan fizzles out is Austin Barnes who has gotten a few starts there lately. Farmer could become the backup catcher to Grandal but the Dodgers have barely (ever) used him at catcher so far.
The Dodgers can mix and match with the best of them, but Corey Seager was a MVP type of talent and you don’t replace that with mix and matches. The Dodgers have plugged the holes, but will they hold back the damn? Only if they don’t get any new holes.
Have I mentioned how bad the bullpen seems to be right now?
The Dodgers weren’t expected to win Monday with bullpen pitcher Ross Stripling going against Greinke and it played out as expected. Tonight is different, tonight Clayton Kershaw needs to be Clayton Kershaw and give the Dodgers a chance for victory.
Eight games back on May 1st with three games to go on the road against the hottest team in the NL just might qualify as a must-win game. I hope Clayton is healthy because the Clayton we have seen the last two starts does not look like a healthy Kershaw. If Clayton Kershaw has a big game in him, now would be the time to unveil it. Given the number of high-quality players missing from the Dodger offense and the recent ineffectiveness of the bullpen, he may need to throw seven scoreless innings and hope KJ and company can hold any lead they might have.
They have won the NL West Division by the following margins.
The Diamondbacks are smelling blood and even as they are missing Ray/Walker/Lamb/Miller they continue to crush their opponents. An eight-game lead on the team that beat you by eleven games in the standings is impressive. If Kershaw can’t staunch the bleeding tonight, the Diamondbacks will be well on their way to another series victory and possibly a double-digit lead by the time this series is over.
With the news that Corey Seager is headed for surgery and will miss the rest of the 2018 season, it just so happens that possibly the best shortstop in baseball is actually available if the Dodgers decide to make a play for him.
I have pretty much ignored all the Manny Machado trade talk since the Dodgers had no place to put him, but that landscape has dramatically changed. No team in baseball needs Manny Machado as much as the Dodgers do right now.
He’s a one-year rental and the price will be high. How high, I have no idea but this is what I’d be putting together.
Package One – All players bubbling at the major league level who are under team control for quite a while. Have to say, this is more quantity than quality but the Orioles have so many holes that each of these players could actually find playing time.
- Alex Verdugo – ready to be their starting right fielder. Top positional prospect in the Dodger system.
- Edwin Rios – ready to challenge Pedro Alvarez/Trumbo for DH duties. Has bat with no place to play.
- Brock Stewart – ready to step into the rotation
- Tim Locastro – could be their shortstop
- Manny Banuelos –
Package two – Prospect Package – One from each level
- Alex Verdugo – ready to be their starting right fielder. Top positional prospect in the Dodger system.
- Dennis Santana – ready to step into the rotation next year or possibly even help this year. Santana has worked himself up the prospect ladder where some think he’s the second best pitching prospect in the Dodger system.
- Gavin Lux – 2016 number one pick
Package three – Mix n Max
- Kiké Hernandez – they will need a starting SS for Machado
- Alex Verdugo or Andrew Toles
- Brock Stewart or Dennis Santana
- Will Smith or Connor Wong
Chris Taylor – starting shortstop, Dodgers would need to play Joc in CF.
Andrew Toles – ready to be a starting outfielder when he comes off the DL
Brock Stewart – ready to be in the starting rotation
If I was the Orioles I think I’d have to look hard at package three. I expect everyone will think they are overpaying for a one-year rental. They might be, but without Walker Buehler in the deal, you will need quantity with some quality. This is, after all, Manny Machado.
These are just spitballing idea’s, but I do hope the Dodgers are at least contacting the Orioles and checking into what it is going to take to bring Machado to Los Angeles for at least one year.