Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Thoughts on the Off-Season Moves that Must Be Made

With the season over and the World Series four games in, the pain of post-season elimination is slowly wearing off and thoughts of a 2016 season are already on the forefront.  Don Mattingly is a Marlin and the rumor mill is grinding about his replacement.

It is this writer's opinion the Gabe Kapler will be that man.  First, because he is an Andrew Friedman hire and he immediately impacted the organization.  Second, because the Dodgers are set to announce that Rick Honeycutt is returning as pitching coach, and what manager in his right mind would not want to take a new job without a say in who his pitching coach was, unless he was already a part of an organization and he agreed to it beforehand?
Gabe Kapler, In contention for the Dodger Manager position (photo by Jon Soo Hoo/LA Dodgers, from 2011 Spring Training)

So there are a number of questions that will be posed once the World Series ends. I'll address them as they come to mind:

1) Zack Greinke.  We all know he will opt out and declare for free agency.  Do the Dodgers resign him?  Are they willing to pay him up to age 38 to the tune of $25 million+ per year?  That's what it is going to take to keep the man.  It's a lot of money...but losing Greike would be a disaster, especially if he ends up a Giant.  Pay him and pray the elbow holds up.  I can't believe I'm saying that , but a season without Greinke could be a disaster.  Signing a Free Agent such as David Price to replace him makes no sense, as the Dodger rotation would consist of only lefties.

2) Brett Anderson.  A qualifying offer is rather lofty.  About $15.8 million.  Frankly I don't think he's worth it, and I think with his injury history, he'll probably accept it.  With Hyun Jin Ryu returning and Zack Lee in the wings, I simply do think that sort of money should be offered to Anderson.  Crazy, I know.  I recommend spending $150 million on Greike and then pass on Anderson becasue of the cost of the contract, but it's more about there being better options out there for less money that fill the #4 slot in the rotation.

3) Howie Kendrick.  He was solid and extremely valuable, but he's 32 and it makes no sense to sign this guy for years when the club has cheaper and younger options that also play second base in Peraza and Kike Hernandez.  If it could be done for one year it would be great, but Kendrick has this one last chance to sign a big contract for several years.  He's probably wearing another uniform for the next three years.

4) Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley.  Both gone.  They'll have problems finding a taker or two unless they're willing to accept bench roles and substantial pay cuts.

5) Andre Ethier.  The current dean of the Dodgers, coming off a solid year.  There's some trade value here, but the club will have to eat much of his contract.  It'll be interesting to see if there is an attempt to move him.  I say it's time.

6) Carl Crawford.  What a waste of money he is.  His regression and injury prone capacity are a true burden.  If he's moved, the Dodgers must take on all the contract.  He's a defensive liability and was so overmatched against the power pitchers in the NLDS, I'm wondering if he's done as a player.

7) Joc Pederson.  This young man and his free swinging ways at the plate were a disaster for the last 2/3 of the season.  He's in serious need of a hitting coach that reaches him, otherwise I see him possibly with an Oklahoma City future next season.  That's harsh, especially with his stellar defense and propensity to walk, but Pederson was a mess at the plate by season's end.  He needs shorten up his swing and stop going for the fences.  He must adjust his approach according to pitch counts.  The kid swings out of his shoes at all times and it's just stupid.  With Mattingly and McGwire there, I just can't believe they couldn't talk sense into the kid.

8) Adrian Gonzalez.  His poor second half concerns me.  Is this the beginning of a significant decline for AGon?    I sure hope not, because there's a lot of money left to be paid on that contract.  Gonzalez was killed by the extreme shifts this year and his failure to adjust cost him heavily.  While there's still value here, it may be time to move him.  Certainly it'll be an unpopular move but wouldn't it be best to get some value in return while you still can?

9) Yasiel Puig.  A misunderstood and mismanaged talent.  Maturity issues?  Sure.  But there is too much talent in this player to give up on him.  Roberto Clemente was a mess at age 24 too.  They have to give Yasiel the edict to report to Spring Training 20 lbs. lighter and in the best shape of his career.  Get him someone in the dugout that he can relate to and who will reach him.  Juan Uribe's departure hurt Puig's development because Papi could talk sense into this young man.  He's relatively cheap still.  He is capable of .290BA/25HR/.900 OPS production with gold glove defense.  You don't trade that away after an injury plagued season.  If Puig is traded, mark my words, we'll see him win an MVP in another uniform.  There's that much talent in this kid.

10) Manager. (Yes, I know, it was addressed already).  HIRE GABE KAPLER, with Roenicke as his bench coach.  Let Kapler work his magic.  He's the type of person that could dominate as a field general for 20 years.  He has reached minor leaguers such as Schebler and Seager.  This guy is the future of baseball.  He understands the game as it should be, honing in on modern metrics.  He's an intellectual, a nutritionist, slight eccentric and a SoCal guy.  He'll thrive in this position.  I'm excited at the thought that this man could be managing the club.  He has so much potential.  This move could be a true franchise changer, I truly believe it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Game Five Tidbits...It's a One Game Season!

Justin Turner's knee, Yasmani Grandal's left shoulder, Howie Kendrick and Yasiel Puig's tender hamstrings, Adrian Gonzalez's neck.  It's that time of year where they're all ailing, and also when they need to suck things up and play through the pain.  Champions play through pain.  Watch as one or two from that group turn out to be significant contributors in game five of the NLDS.
(photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
The Dodgers are nine victories away from that ultimate goal, but one loss ends the season.

So as we prepare to watch the series deciding game five on Thursday night.  Aside from the injuries, there are a few things to consider:

  • Jacob deGrom is going to be tough, but the Dodgers know his repertoire and should have a game plan in place that works the counts deep and gets him tired in the early innings.  
  • Any faltering by DeGrom will probably result in a relief appearance by fire throwing Noah Syndergaard. 
  • The Chase Utley suspension headlines sure went away quickly.  Did the appeal process take place in NYC, or did they simply decide to table the matter until next season?  Perhaps MLB thought better of it and decided on the latter.
  • How many times have we seen a Dodger club falter after a terrible call, such as the David Wright foul tip strike three that was called a ball? (8th inning of game 4).  The fact that the Dodgers were able to record the third out and overcome that obstacle was huge and something that championship teams are able to overcome.
  • Speaking of that Wright at-bat.  Where was Don Mattingly?  I'm sure he was barking from the dugout, but didn't that warrant an "in-your-face dirt kicking tirade?"
  • One of the best reasons that the Dodgers need to get to the NLCS is that the next series won't be broadcast by TBS.  I can live with Ripkin, but Darling's homerism is getting to be unbearable.
  • It's fair to say that Clayton Kershaw has exorcised the post season demons that have affected him over his career.  A 2.63 ERA over 14 innings of work with 19 K's is dominance that we are accustomed to seeing from the best pitcher in the game.  Watch for that dominance to continue if the Dodgers are fortunate enough to make it to the NLCS against the Cubs.
  • Many consider Justin Turner to be the series offensive MVP, and that may be accurate, but Kiki Hernandez is definitely the most inspirational.
  • Hopefully Zack Greinke is able to live with AJ Ellis behind the plate in game 5.   We all know how fond he is of Grandal's pitch framing abilities.  Watch as Ellis extends his post season hitting streak.
  • Mets hitters that you don't allow to beat you: Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson.  There really isn't anyone else in the New York lineup that the Dodgers really need to fear.  I'm not saying there aren't other quality hitters in that lineup, only that those two are the guys that seem to be doing the most damage.
Prediction:  Dodgers take game five with a 4-1 victory.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Slide Heard Round the World

(photo by USAToday Sports/Jayne Kamin-Oncea)

With once full swoosh and clunk Chase Utley has forever marked himself in baseball lore as a hero and villian all in one.  It all depends on which coast you live.  That decisive take out slide may be talked about for decades.  The question that remains is:  Was it enough to turn the Dodgers fortunes around?

Ruben Tejada is out for the remainder of the year with a broken fibula.  The Dodgers have life again as they travel to NYC with a series split, and they have a renewed energy and life that had not been seen in the first 15 innings of the NLDS.

As Chase Utley was crucified on the TBS post game show for his "dirty" play, I seemed to think back to 2013 as the major Dodger offensive threat had been neutralized by a 95+ mph fastball to the ribs. What goes around seems to eventually come around.  Baseball is a game where things eventually even themselves out and as New Yorkers complain about being treated "unfairly" it reminds me of 1973 when a Dodger team finished second in the NL West with 95 wins and was forced to watch an 83 win Met team play in the post season.

Things aren't always fair folks, and Utley's slide, (which was late by all means), was done within the current rules of the game.  Tejada turned his back in the play, assuming that he could perform a pirouette throw to first to turn a game saving twin killing.  As a middle infielder, you never turn your back on a player barreling down on you to break up a double play.  I'm not saying the man deserved to be injured, but his actions placed him in a vulnerable spot.

Chase Utley did his job, and for that he will be remembered forever in Dodger history.  How much so only time will tell, but if the Dodgers win it all, the "slide heard round he world"will be talked about for decades.