WEEK 0: HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW SHOW

 

Its our Week Zero installment of the High School Football Preview Show. Join us every Thursday on the KpaySports app at 10:30am for our LIVE broadcast of the High School Football Show. We look at pivotal match-ups and highlight important story-lines each week. This week our panel included….

Lee Carrell-Action News 12 & 24  @CarrellLee on Twitter

Joseph Shufelberger-Chico ER @JShufelberger on Twitter

TJ Holmes- Redding Record Searchlight @tjholmes_RS on Twitter

Rick Silva-Paradise Post @Post_RickSilva on Twitter

HOST: Mike Baca- KPAY Sports Director @BitOBaca on Twitter

*Don’t forget to sign up and play in the Redding Record Searchlight’s Prep Football PIck Em’ weekly contest. Go to Redding.com/football  and sign up today !!!

*High School Football Preview Show is brought to you by Mountain Mike’s Pizza…..Don’t cook tonight, call Mountain Mike’s in Oroville, Paradise and two locations in Chico.

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Utley Deal is Dodgers Version of Wag the Dog

 

Can Chase Utley help the Dodgers ? Sure he can. Hell, he may even help the Dodgers win the division and maybe even a playoff series. But on the day the Dodgers were just swept in the mini two-game set against the worst team in the American League the acquisition feels like merely a distraction device.

The Dodgers were completely and emphatically exposed in a 20 hour period against the Oakland Athletics. This is not meant to denigrate the A’s and their tremendous fan base but there is no way the 307 million dollar Dodgers should lose both games to the Athletics. The A’s GM tanked the season when he traded this year’s most likely AL MVP in Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays, but I digress.

Today the Dodgers traded a couple of mid-level minor leaguers for Chase Utley. While Utley was once one of the best players in the game, now he is purely a rental. A rental for the sole purpose of keeping him away from the San Francisco Giants. While the Dodgers second base position is in flux with the hamstring injury to Howie Kendrick the Giants are also facing a second sack dilemma. Second year stand-out Joe Panik is dealing with some back issues and his availability for the rest of the season is highly in doubt. The Giants and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were lusting after Utley to give them a jolt down the stretch. But, the Dodgers deep farm system won out and the Phillies took the Dodgers offer.

On the surface the name of Utley gives Dodger fans visions of grandeur but let’s be brutally honest. What Utley brings is not a remedy for what ails this team. The Dodgers “dumpster-fire” bullpen is an embarrassment. Since mid-May the Dodgers pen has an ERA over 5. Since August 1st the bullpen ERA is over 7.

In the spirit of full transparency I liked the moves two weeks ago in bringing in Jim Johnson and Luis Avilan. There is no way around the unmitigated disaster those moves have been. They have made a bad bullpen even worse. But this all could have been avoided if Friedman wasn’t so dead set on doing a bullpen on the cheap back in December. While having unlimited funds, he decided to not offer contracts to Pat Neshek, Luke Gregerson, Sergio Romo as complimentary pieces and Andrew Miller as the lynch pin bridging middle relief to Kenley Jansen…….dumbfounding. While many in the lunatic fringe of the Dodger fan base are calling for Don Mattingly’s head, they fail to place blame where it truly belongs. Andrew Friedman’s finger prints are all over this team, including the bullpen. He is not even a full season into his tenure as President of Baseball Operations, but if Friedman were a character on Game of Thrones he would have been sent over the wall of Castle Black by now so the White Walkers could have at him. For all of Friedman’s positives and there have been good moves. His negligence when it comes to the bullpen is inexcusable.

Friedman fleeced the Padres in the Kemp for Grandal deal. Friedman  parlayed Dee Gordon and Andrew Heaney into Howie Kendrick, Kiki Hernandez and the Dodgers catcher of the future in Austin Barnes. But his handling of the pitching staff is what will hang around his neck if and when the Dodgers flame out.

Friedman has littered the Dodgers pen with washed up infielders who were converted to pitchers (Pedro Baez, Chris Hatcher) or thumbers (JP Howell) who must put a piece of straw through the eye of a needle to get hitters out. When you throw in Yimi (I have one decent pitch) Garcia and the signings of the Brett Anderson and Brandon McCarthy, it’s just one big dumpster fire when looking at the bullpen and the back-end of the rotation.

No wonder Clayton Kershaw is chucking baseball’s into his own dugout. He is hoping one of the errant pieces of raw-hide clips a mate and forces Friedman to bring up Jennie Finch to man the bullpen. The bullpen is a dumpster fire but it is only one of the many things that ails this club. They only score when they hit home runs. While the novice baseball fan will say, “gee, that’s great, I love home runs.” Well, uh yeah., that’s not how championships are won. You win titles by playing flawless situational baseball. When there is runner at second and no one out, move him to third. When there is runner at third and one out, get that runner home. I don’t care how you do it, but do it. This team is woefully deficient in these essentials to winning baseball. The frustrating thing is this team gets on base ! They lead the National League in on base percentage and walks. They know how to get on base. They don’t know how to generate runs. Is this a Mark McGwire issue ? Well, he didn’t seem to have a problem communicating situational baseball to the Cardinals a few years ago when they were impeccable at run generation.

I believe this an entitled mentality that permeates this Dodger team. They are all getting paid and they want theirs. I have only seen a handful of guys on this club consistently play the game the right way and take a good approach to the plate with runners on base. Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins are two of them. Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig sometimes appear they have never been told they need to shorten their swing or have an approach with two-strikes. It’s mind numbingly frustrating watching the waste that is the 2015 Dodgers.

So, as the lunatic fringe celebrates a player in Chase Utley that will be riding the pine in 10 days when Kendrick returns, never mind what’s behind the curtain. Don’t worry about it either, Andrew Friedman doesn’t want you looking back there any way. Just keep focusing on the glitz of the Dodgers, Hollywood and the deep pockets, all while San Francisco sticks it to us again circa 1997. You remember 1997 don’t you ? Brian Johnson walk-off. Bases loaded and no one out against Rod Beck and Eddie Murray hitting into a 4-2-3 double play ? The Barry Bonds pirouette. Never mind the lack of a bullpen and fundamental play. Who needs it !

I have waited 27 years. What’s another 365 days to drink the champagne

Dodgers hit Home Run with Deadline Deals….

 

Sure, some problems still remain but the Los Angeles Dodgers front office did what they could to right some of the wrongs with their deadline deals, all while not sacrificing the franchises’ glorious looking future.

The two most pressing needs this team faced going into the deadline was acquiring some quality arms at the back-end of the Dodger rotation and adding solid arms to a fledgling bullpen. Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi and Josh Byrnes hit a home run at the deadline and they didn’t even acquire Cole Hamels, David Price or one of the other big names moved this week.

The cost of getting a Hamels or Price would have dented the Dodgers future and thankfully Friedman and company wasn’t willing to do that. The organization has considered shortstop Corey Seager and left-handed 18 year-old pitcher Julio Urias as untouchable. This has been the stance with Ned Colleti and has also been the stance of Friedman. The Dodgers know what they have in those two cornerstones and weren’t willing to trade for pitchers that would only enhance a strength. Now, there is no denying Hamels or Price would have emboldened the Dodgers rotation, but it would have only solidified a strength. By opting for Mat Latos and Alex Wood the Dodgers added length to their rotation and gives them two superstar starters and two very good third-and-fourth starters.

What some may overlook were the acquisitions of Luis Avilan and Jim Johnson from Atlanta’s bullpen. The names aren’t sexy but they were vital in the Dodgers post-season hopes. Avilan is a 26 year-old lefty that sports a career ERA of 2.77 with a WHIP of 1.16. Avilan struggled last year (4.57 ERA; 1.57 WHIP) but has righted the ship this season with a 3.58 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. Avilan will be a reliable situational lefty that will compliment JP Howell. Howell has been fantastic this year, but does the southpaw doesn’t throw with the velocity that Avilan brings. Avilan is a nice addition.

Jim Johnson had back-to-back 50 save seasons for the Baltimore Orioles in 2012 and 2013. Since then he just hasn’t been the same pitcher. He struggled to get anyone out in 2014 and was almost out of baseball. But Johnson has regained his form this year with the Braves and will serve as a solid right-handed arm setting up Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. Johnson was serving as the Braves closer for the last month after Jason Grilli was lost for the season with a knee  injury. Johnson registered 9 saves and an ERA of 2.25. The Dodgers are not asking Johnson to close, but they will ask him to get some big outs in the 7th and 8th innings. He is experienced and has been tested. This was exactly the type of acquisition the Dodgers needed. Friedman had littered the Dodgers bullpen with former wash-out infielders who were converting to power arms out of the bullpen. Friedman and the Dodgers brass had come into this season believing  this would be the “answer” to the Dodgers bullpen woes. But, since May 1st the Dodgers pen had the second worst bullpen ERA in the National League. Friedman saw the writing and the wall and fixed it.

One of the deadline moves that didn’t address immediate need but may prove one day to be biggest of moves was the inclusion of Jose Peraza. The 21 year-old speedster was in the middle of a conversion from second base to center field. The Dodgers see Peraza as a second baseman and he may be the man they peg for the job sooner rather than later depending on their free agent dealings with current second-sacker  Howie Kendrick. By all accounts Peraza is not ready for the big leagues now, but his time should come. Last year Peraza hit .339 with 60 stolen bases between High-A and Double-A for the Braves. This year he is hitting .294 with 26 stolen bases in 96 games for Triple-A Gwinnett. His offensive game may need some refinement but many analysts say he is already the Dodgers 4th or 5th best prospect. And, at 21 years-old he has some time for growth.

The moves weren’t without some pain, most it financial which Guggenheim seems willing to eat and toss into the sea. It sure is nice to have an ownership group that doesn’t mind taking on salary while acquiring pieces that bring the team closer to a championship. The Dodgers did have to part with highly touted Cuban infielders Hector Olivera. The Dodgers gave Olivera a 28 million dollar signing bonus and had planned on paying him 34 million more dollars over the next six years. That responsibility now lies with Atlanta. Braves GM John Hart says they are ecstatic to get a player of Olivera’s talents. Hart told media members if Olivera hit the open market he would command a much bigger contract so Atlanta sees bargain in Olivera.

The Dodgers had high hopes for Olivera but with Justin Turner’s emergence at third and reports indicating Olivera was not playing second base as well as they thought, Olivera was a chip the Dodgers could dangle.

Do the deals make the Dodgers World Series favorites ? Probably not, but despite some of the team’s inadequacies they did become a much more formidable team on the bump.