Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Now as the Dust Settles, More Outfielder(s) Will Have to Be Moved

In this topsy turvy world of following the Dodgers, it's almost as if we are watching a soap opera with the dynamic turns of events.  Kemp is gone, then maybe not.  Then the teams are working out another package due to his arthritic hips.  Oops!  No, the original deal is back on again.  This is crazy.

Rather than update things, I'm finding that it is simply best to wait until the teams make the formal announcements of the trades, which should be happening as soon as Friday.  

What we know is this:

Sources from the L.A. Times, ESPN, and MLB network are saying that Kemp and Fedex are now Padres and Grandal and Weiland are now Dodgers.

This means that Rollins will be a Dodger and Eflin will be a Phillie.

There are more names probably, but as I said, it'll be best to wait until the dust clears and the announcements are made.

What continues to be unsettled is the glut of Dodger outfielders that remain on the roster.  They include Chris Heisey, Scott Van Slyke, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Scott Pederson, and Yasiel Puig.  Watch for two of those six to be moved before spring training.  The organization's willingness to part with players owed huge sums of money leads many to believe that a player like Andre Ether could be on his way out with the Dodgers paying the majority of the $73.5 million he is owed over the next four years.

It is probably safe to say that the Dodgers would have to agree to pick up about $45 to 50 million of that contract, as Ethier's depleting numbers make him a hard sell.  An American League team with a short right field porch might be an attractive landing spot for him.  Perhaps New York or Texas could be a fit, but it would be shocking to see the Dodgers obtain anything of value in return.

Carl Crawford is owed $62.2 million through 2017 and he's another practically immovable piece that probably remains in blue due to that contract.  Perhaps that's good though, as Crawford appears to be one of the lone Dodger pieces remaining that has speed.  He swept 23 bags in only 105 games last year, and it is expected that he, along with 36 year old Jimmy Rollins, will be the only real stolen base threats on the club now that Dee Gordon is a Marlin.

So that leaves Van Slyke, Pederson, Puig and Heisey.  Of the quartet, I'm thinking that Van Slyke may be the player that is moved.  That's unfortunate, as Scott has shown signs of brilliance and has never been given a full time shot.  Unfortunately, the numbers game has caught up to him.  Heisey was acquired because of his versatile defense and pinch hitting skills.  Pederson is the new centerfielder and Puig continues to be, in my opinion, a player with the ability to be the next Roberto Clemente.

Scott Van Slyke and Andre Ethier - Two Dodger outfielders that could be moved in the coming weeks. (photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

A good match for Van Slyke may be in the A.L. East where he could be seen as a valuable asset to face Wade Miley in Boston.  His stat line of .444,  8 for 18, with 5 homers, should be of interest to Baltimore, Toronto or New York.  It's rather silly to use that small sample size against a lone pitcher as a selling point, but ownage is ownage, and Scott certainly has it against the new Boston starter.

Van Slyke was solid in his 98 games last season, hitting .297 with a .387 OBP and .524 slugging percentage.  He smacked 11 homers over 212 at bats and showed that he could handle all three outfield slots and an additional first base assignment.  This is a valuable player to have on a ball club, and added to that his salary comes in at the major league minimum.  Scott will be 28 years old this season, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him really emerge this season.  I hate to see him go, as he could be the one guy that someone could really steal from the Dodgers this off-season.  

Sabermetrically speaking, Van Slyke is the type of player that guys like Friedman and Zaidi like to acquire.  There's simply no room for him, unless the Dodgers magically are able to rid themselves of both Ethier and Crawford.  That Looks unlikely, but perhaps the new front office, affectionately monikered the "geek squad," has something up their sleeves.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Everything He Told Us Was Misleading...But That's OK

We just experienced the nuttiest 14 hours in Dodger history and it's not over yet.  Everything I wrote about Zaidi and Friedman in the previous post is completely to the window.  One thing we now know, if Farhan moves his lips, he's probably lying.

Less than 24 hours after dispelling rumors of a Dee Gordon trade by saying that he is their "cost controlled" second baseman, he was traded.

Less than five days after telling the world that right handed power bats are hard to come by and that Matt Kemp was the best hitter in the league in the second half of the season, he was traded.
Matt Kemp and Dee Gordon were both traded within 12 hours of each other.

The M.O. of the Dodger administration has emerged.  It's peddle off a player when his perception in the league is high.  Gordon, coming off an All Star season and Kemp, after recovering from injuries in the second half.  It's probably a wise way to run a club.  Fans with strong emotional ties to the players won't be happy, but it's important to remember that the Kemp contract was inherited, and that isn't Zaidi and Freidman's fault.

There are so many names that were involved in trades, I hope I have them right.

The Dodgers traded Dee Gordon, Dan Haren, and Mel Rojas, (additionally agreeing to pay their 2015 salaries, $13 million) to the Miami Marlins for LHP starter Andrew Heaney, Right handed deliver Chris Hatcher, infielder Enrique Hernandez and C/IF Austin Barnes.

Then they traded Heaney, a highly touted starter who was the number 9 overall pick in the 2012 draft to the Angels for their all star second baseman, Howie Kendrick.

Earlier in the day it was reported that the Dodgers had acquired Jimmy Rollins from the Phillies for two pitchers, who are yet to be un-named.  The Phillies are reported to have included cash in the deal.  Quantity unknown at this time.  

Lastly, Dodger fans woke this morning to the news that Matt Kemp, Tim Federowicz and $31 million have been traded to the Padres for Catcher Yasmani Grandal, and pitchers Joe Weiland and Zach Elfin.

Is that it?  Apparently not.

Reports this morning are that the Dodgers are close to a 4-year /$48 million deal with RHP Brandon McCarthy.
Brandon McCarthy finished 2014 as a Yankee. (photo by Bill Streicher/USA Today)

With the 40 man roster now sitting at over 43 players, (I've lost count) it is assumed that another trade is in the works.  Now with prospects stocked in the organization and money freed up, speculation is that the Dodgers can pull the trigger on a Cole Hamels deal.

It has been a stunning day and the Dodgers are being completely revamped.  Stay tuned, but be sure to fasten your seat belt.  Craziest day ever.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Ignore the MLB Network. Zaidi Already Told Us What Direction the Club is Headed

A few years back when the MLB network debuted, I was giddy with excitement.  What can be better than baseball 24/7/365?  

Now three years into the channel I am beginning to feel otherwise.  With Plesac, Reynolds, MaGrane, DeRosa, Byrnes and others constantly feeding us information, it's enough to make your head explode.  A good portion of those mentioned have said Matt Kemp is on his way to one of these destinations: Texas, Seattle, Baltimore, Boston, and San Diego.  It's enough to drive you mad.  Those guys are simply speculating and spreading rumors coming usually from no-where.

For those concerned about many Dodger rumors, especially that Matt Kemp is about to head to another location, it is highly suggested that these quotes from Dodger G.M. Farhan Zaidi made on air at AM 570 from last Friday be read and reread.  

(photo by Jon Soo-Hoo, L.A. Dodgers)
Zaidi could be an excellent poker player, and maybe he's playing us all, but his level headed comments seemed convincing.  The Dodgers are being run by a competent group that isn't going to gut the franchise into a non-contender.  In a previous piece I said that I thought they might be in payroll reduction mode, but after listening to Zaidi, I'm starting to believe that the front office is simply smarter than ever before and will do all they can to put a winner on the field now.  Zaidi's quotes follow.  

On Andre Ether and his trade wishes:

"We have a surplus of outfielders and there's some demand out there from other teams.  Offense is pretty scarce in Major League baseball, certainly in the last couple of years.  So a guy like Andre (Ether) could be a fit for a number of teams.  including our own.  So we're just continuing to look at those opportunities as they come across the table for us.  If there's something that makes sense for the Dodgers, we'll pursue it."

On Matt Kemp and the endless rumors of him being traded:

"Matt Kemp was the best player in the National League in the second half.  If anyone wants to challenge me on that, I have all of the numbers to back it up.  It's the hot stove.  People need something to write about everyday.  We're aware that there's a desperate desire for content out there, and frankly it's not just the desire for content, but some of the stuff you read about free agents, I'm telling you, going from Oakland to L.A., I've never been more popular with agents in my life..."

Read between the lines here.  It seems that Kemp isn't going anywhere, unless the Dodgers are overwhelmed with an amazing offer:

"Matt (Kemp) is a terrific player.  We are well aware of how important he is to the team, but we were brought in with some specific goals in mind and with very high expectations.  And part of our responsibility is to just look at everything..."

Zaidi explains that the G.M. position with a large market team with resources is much more difficult than being with a club without resources, here's why:

"We have financial resources at our disposal.  I was asked earlier, 'who are you going to pursue?' and my answer was 'everybody.'  To me that's part of the difference between being in Oakland and being in L.A.  I could sleep well at night in Oakland knowing that I wouldn't have to wonder if a certain player was worth $100-150 million dollars.  Now there's some sleepless nights because those are all decisions that we have to look at.  It's kind of like the answer that I gave when I was asked about Matt (Kemp).  It's that you have to look at everything, and particularly when you are looking at a guy that is at an elite level, that every team could use. " 

About the starting rotation:

"We have a little problem with our starting pitching depth and we've started to adjust with some smaller moves.  It's always a good idea if you're a baseball team to add pitchers at the front of your rotation than at the back..."

More on the differences between running a small market club vs. one with resources:

"At Oakland...there was just a whole group of players you didn't have to think about.  The more resources you have at your disposal, the more complicated the cost benefits analysis gets on every move.  We're in a position where we have to think about the luxury tax in baseball, the competitive balance tax implications that that has for us.  So I actually think it's more complicated.  The more money you have at your disposal, the bigger chance mistakes will be made.  We understand the challenge ahead and we are in a position where the expectations are great, the challenges are great and we hope that the reward is also great.  So that's our perspective."

On the topic of shortstop, (it's best to get used to Arruebarrena at short until Seager is ready): 

"Right handed power is a scarcity at this time, and that's what Hanley brought to this team last year.  That's what Matt Kemp continues to bring to this team, and that's probably the most difficult thing to replace.  I do think that as we look to fill the shortstop position, we're maybe able to reorient that position to being a more defensive position.  Looking to some guys that really contribute defensively at short...  This gives us a chance to get a really plus defender at short, that will really help our pitching staff.  We're viewing it as an opportunity to upgrade defensively and we believe that will compensate for the loss of offense."

                              ---------------end of Zaidi quotes-------------------

We all know it's difficult to slow down and gawk at the car accident ahead of you as you drive by, but that is what the MLB network is at the moment, (and twitter rumors as well).  Look if you must, but you probably won't like what you see.  Zaidi has spelled out the Dodger front offices direction in a short 15 minute segment.  It's best to listen to his words, because the wonks at MLB network are running with stories that often don't have any legs.

Friday, November 28, 2014

From Beast to Payroll Reduction Mode...

Matt Kemp trade rumors are swirling and that is perfectly understandable with his torrid second half of baseball this year.  Kemp rose from the ashes back to being relevant, and that's good when you consider that we all had pretty much written him off after last season.  His salary was considered a true albatross and addition to the Dodgers woes.  Now, that $106 million he is owed for the next five seasons doesn't seem too overwhelming.

Shoulder surgery recoveries take time, and for Kemp, it took two surgeries and two years for him t regain his strength.  Adrian Gonzalez warned him of that, as he had the same surgery back in Boston, and his power was sapped for a spell.  Now that Kemp's strength has returned, it really wouldn't be surprising if he hit between 35 and 40 homers next season.  Whether it'll be in a Dodger uniform is the real question now.

Though many have written that Andrew Friedman has moved on to a team that is capable of buying the World Series, what they aren't realizing was that the Colette regime had pretty much maxed out on spending by the time he got here.  The Dodgers are a team loaded with over paid contracts for underperforming players.  It's safe to say that Crawford, Ether, League, Wilson, Uribe, and even Kemp and Gonzalez are actually overpaid.  It frankly wouldn't surprise me to see Friedman peddle off some of those expensive players, like Kemp (their most attractive chess piece), in order to lower payroll and make the team younger.  If Crawford or Ether leave via trade, you can count on the Dodgers eating a good portion of those contracts.

That's not what a lot of fans want to hear, but all signs point to it so far this off season.  The Dodgers are lowering payroll.  I could be wrong, but I don't think so.  

Patience Dodger fans...patience will be the word with this administration.  Building a young nucleus with this team won't happen overnight.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Random Dodger Stuff

I have a hard time accepting that the MLB team in Japan is an "All Star" team if Drew Butera is on it.
The Farhan Zaidi hiring is a good one.  The Dodgers are definitely going in a far different direction now with Freidman, Kaplar, Byrnes, Zaidi and Gasparino in the fold.  The way we looked at Dodger baseball from the past is gone.  Watch the innovative moves that will be coming our way.  If we see Mattingly platooning a lot next year, we'll know for sure who is calling the shots in the Dodger organization.

Having read Kapler's articles over the past few years, I'm convinced that he is in the right place working in the farm system.  He's a strong proponent of teaching fundamentals, and drilling them in at the lower levels.  It might take a few years, but watch for improvements in this area.  Maybe we won't have to hear Vin Scully repeatedly say that run down plays are continually botched by seasoned veterans.
Arizona Fall League performance of Scott Schebler is showing that the Dodgers have another fine outfield prospect in their system.  Over 69 ABs in, Scott is hitting .297 with three homers.  Not bad for the kid that broke out in pitcher friendly Chattanooga with 28 dingers last season.  Watch for this kid in Spring Training and at Oklahoma City next year.
The collaborative team of young Dodger executives in place is a very interesting development.  It'll be interesting to see how decision making takes place and the hierarchy of power that will be in play. It's quite a change from the days of Buzzie Bavasi and later Al Campanis, (and even Fred Claire).  Player personnel administration is truly a team effort.  Hopefully they are able to get Mattingly to manage according the the players strengths where he'll take advantage of the chess pieces the brain trust gives him.

The entire coaching staff returns, meaning that they will be given one last opportunity under the new regime.  I suppose that's fair, but I almost wish they had blown the whole thing up and started over.  Truth is, I'm thinking that Friedman has certain individuals that he has in mind for field managerial and coaching decisions.  The Dodgers went down this road with DePodesta back in '04-'05.  Jim Tracy was forced on him and he never managed according to the "moneyball" playbook and the roster that DePodesta had assembled, hampering DePo from the get go.  We'll see how it happens this go-around.
It looks like Hanley Ramirez will seek out greener pastures.  And by green I'm referring to money.  No surprise there.  As much as Hanley was a china doll out there, I loved his bat and the threat it posed.  I think he'll be missed.  I still think that if Corey Seager does well in Spring training that the Dodgers should start him at shortstop.  I know he could use more seasoning in the minors, but this kid is special.  I think he has the maturity to survive the inevitable difficulties he'll have in the bigs.  Dodger fans are gonna love this kid.  And he is a SHORTSTOP, not a third baseman.  Seager is not too tall to handle the position.  Ask Cal Ripken.

Corey Seager

Troy Tulowitski has expressed interest in possibly being traded to the Yankees or Dodgers.  New York is probably a better fit, but he'd be an amazing acquisition if the Dodgers got him.  How that could happen, I haven't a clue.  Considering my earlier thoughts on Corey Seager not being too far away from the majors, I don't see room for him unless he agrees to move to third.  The "he" I refer to here is Tulo going to 3B, and not Seager.  Seager is not a third baseman, nor has he been playing there at all.  It would be unfair to try to transition him over to 3B at the major league level.
Is this not the slowest paced off season we've ever experienced?  I know the days are dragging for me.  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Kershaw or Bumgarner

I might hurt a few feelings with this short piece, but that never got in the way of me saying what I perceive to be the truth.  Some friends have posted on a Dodger related bulletin board that they would hands down take Clayton Kershaw over Madison Bumgarner based on statistical comparisons.

I understand their loyalty to Clayton, who will be the Cy Young Award winner again and most likely National League MVP as well when 2014 MLB awards are handed later this month, but they are failing to look at the big picture.  Compare the two left-handers stats and over the 162 game season, and the number shows that Kershaw is better.  That is if you don't factor into that post-season play.  So sure, ignore the greatest post season pitching performances since Christy Mathewson.  That's fair, right?

That's like saying we love how our favorite Nascar driver and his car have performed in the Daytona 500's first 199 laps while it's in first place, but then ignoring that it broke down and was passed in the final lap.  What it comes down to is that the job has to be finished, and that includes the additional 11 victories that a team must attain in post-season play to win the whole thing.  You throw out those games from the statistical mix and the comparison is incomplete of it's most important comparable component.

This game is all about championships and Bumgarner has three of those and significant contributions in all of them.  Clayton has failed in his postseason performances, and more than once.  

So it come down to a simple question: what would you rather have?  A player with an MVP and a couple of Cy Young awards OR a team with three World Series Championship trophies over five seasons?

Yeah, I thought so.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Failure to Acquire Middle Relief Was Ironically the Cause of Colletti's Dismissal

It's not fun watching a World Series when you know your team should be there.  It's worse when the team representing the National League is the Giants.  I can't remember feeling so much bitterness watching the fall classic.  This was the year, it really was.  I can honestly say that I believed the Dodgers were the best in the National League, even with their deficiencies in middle relief, I still believed they had enough to get the ball to Howell and later Jansen in the 8th and 9th innings.

2013 photo, three key members of the Dodger bullpen in happier times.
I mean seriously, the areas of deficiency was "middle relief?"  Who needs middle relief?  Its not like the trade deadline looms and we're all clamoring for our GM to go acquire a guy that can pitch the 6th inning.  You can usually weather through the 6th and 7th innings with the likes of up and coming minor leaguers, and the Dodgers had plenty of those guys like Baez and Frias.  Last year Chris Withrow and Paco Rodriguez filled that role rather nicely.

Now as we watch the Royals and their excellent bullpen, and the vital role it has played in their 10-1 post season performance (thus far), the reality of having quality relief pitchers has really hit home.  These are relief pitchers from top to bottom.  All quality and handling their role with precision.

We are looking at two second place teams that practically ran the table into the fall classic due in a large part to steady defense and quality bullpens.  Two areas of play where the Dodgers lacked strength.  Middle relief isn't that sexy.  In fact, we used to joke at Colletti's efforts to acquire veteran relievers and sign them long term.  Players like Brandon League, Octavio Dotel, Jamey Wright, Brian Wilson, Matt Guerrier, Peter Moylan, Ronald Belisario, Todd Coffey, Chris Perez, Randy Choate, Blake Hawksworth, and others.

So as much as we criticize Colletii and his failure to land quality relief pitchers at this 2014 trade deadline, I honestly ask, "was that criticism fair?"  We'd seen Colletii deal off prospects for relievers in the past and we screamed about how incompetent he was.  Remember the Lambo/McDonald for Dotel trade? That one left me seething in anger.  When August 1st rolled around and he had failed to trade Pederson, Seager or Urias for a veteran relief pitcher, many of us were relieved of that fact.

Funny thing is though, his failure to acquire a middle reliever probably served as his undoing.  I'm pleased that Colletti is gone, because his tenure had it's share of foibles, especially with expensive free agency signings, but I would have never guessed that he would be removed because he failed to sign a middle reliever or two when in previous years, he would stock up on them to the point of silliness.

Here we are though, watching two teams that we never imagined would make it to the World Series.  And it's because the Dodgers couldn't trust their bullpen and they coughed up three games in the NLDS as a result.  It'll be interesting what the new regime does in this area as 2015 nears.  Honestly though, isn't it a bit hypocritical to rip Colletti over his failure to stockpile middle relievers when that was his M.O. for several years?