Tag Archives: Dave Roberts

Dodgers head to San Francisco with a crisis in confidence

An anemic offense, an ineffective rotation, a leaky bullpen.  All season long problems for the 2017 San Francisco Giants, and now all  clear problems for the current Los Angeles Dodgers.

For 127 games the Dodgers surely looked like one of the great teams in the history of baseball. A stretch of 53 wins and only 9 losses in a ten week stretch had the fans of the Dem Bums dreaming of November parade. Now each sojourn to the ballpark is a nightmare with no end in sight.

A week ago I wrote the faithful were over-reacting to the recent downturn and this Dodger team was too good to let this thing linger for too much longer. I was bamboozled. Blinded by the 10-week joy ride. The weaknesses that were masked by heroics night-in and night-out are now glaring issues.

The starting rotation is in shambles. Clayton Kershaw is coming off his worst start of the year when the team desperately needed him (stop me if you heard that one before) Ouch ! Yu Darvish’s struggles in Texas were clearly not a result of environment, he can’t pitch in LA either. Rich Hill is pitching like an infant sleeps, one hour up/one hour down. Alex Wood was magical in May and June but clearly looks fatigued. And, does anyone trust Kenta Maeda in an October start. Suddenly what was such a strength appears to be an albatross.

The bullpen…..Oh Dear God this bullpen. The subject of such consternation for the past four post-seasons appears to be well on its way to be that pillar of inconsistency we have become accustomed to. Other than Kenley Jansen and a healthy Brandon Morrow I don’t trust anyone down there.

What’s with the allegiance and deference to everything Pedro Baez from Dodger management. A guy who has given up big hit after big hit in October’s past continues to get the call in highly leveraged situations and while he was lights out for much of the year, recently he has been a gas can. Not kindling on a smoldering mess of wet soot. No, dry wood, lighter fluid, extra gas, light match…..BOOM ! Unbelievably Dave Roberts reiterated this weekend that Baez will be the guy he calls on in big spots. Gotcha Dave.

The offense which was cause for much celebration and rejoicing all season long has been a mess. It seems too simplistic to cite the slight tweaks the trading deadline brought in changing chemistry, but there is something to it. The flow, the rhythm of the offense had a synergy that was off the charts.

Curtis Granderson has been awful. Love the guy but he has been as automatic an out as there is in baseball during his tenure with the Dodgers. Ever since is Grand Slam in Pittsburgh three weeks ago, how many hits does he have ? Two ? The beginning of the end came when Cody Bellinger turned his ankle. He had to sit for a week-plus, then Corey Seager started experiencing elbow issues, then Justin Turner slumped, then…….then…….then………it became a cyclical mess of misfortune.

I do not understand this commitment to Yasmani Grandal. A 240 hitter who is a terrible defender. Especially when you have a young talented and productive Austin Barnes who is just waiting. The Dodgers will tell you Barnes is productive because he DOESN’T play everyday, keeping him fresh to be a force when he is in there. You mean the kid can’t play everyday ? Or do you not want to disappoint a veteran Grandal in changing his role even when it’s warranted.

I could understand it if Grandal was a superior back-stop in the mold of Robert Perez of Cleveland. Perez can’t hit a lick, but Cleveland pitchers love throwing to him. He knows the hitters and blocks everything. Who cares if he hits .190. Grandal isn’t Perez.

I really don’t know what the Dodgers do with Joc Pederson or Adrian Gonzalez. Pederson just seems lost. After a long lengthy career it seems Gonzalez’s body is finally breaking down on him. At this point they just shouldn’t see the field.

Justin Turner told the media yesterday the Dodgers are the “worst team in baseball.” Right now I believe him. But, what we’ve seen from the Dodgers over the past two-and-a-half-weeks is also the reason why we love the game so much. Your fortunes can turn on a dime. At the moment,  I don’t see light at the end of the tunnel, but three weeks ago I didn’t see one of the worst stretches in Dodger history either.

Tonight they take on a team that is downright pitiful. The San Francisco Giants are a shell of their championship selves, ironically despite being  the worst team in baseball, they might be a playing a tad bit better than our boys in blue right now.

Can the Dodgers be this bad ? We will learn during their next 10 days as they travel to three cities, taking on both San Francisco and Philadelphia, two truly dreadful baseball teams.

Kershaw and Jansen dazzle as Dodgers even NLCS

For the fourth time this post-season Clayton Kershaw appeared in a game and for the fourth time the Dodgers won.

The good news for Chicago is Kershaw will not appear in Games 3 & 4.  Behind the brilliance of Kershaw and closer Kenley Jansen the Dodgers evened the National League Championship Series at a game apiece.

Kershaw was fantastic. Primarily utilizing his fastball and slider he located perfectly, keeping Cubs hitters off-balance. Kershaw threw only 9 curveballs and will be able to lean on that pitch when he appears later in the series. Jansen came in to put the game away in the 8th and 9th innings striking out 4 of the 6 hitters he faced.

The only offense was provided by Adrian Gonzalez who took ERA leader Kyle Hendricks deep to left-center in the 2nd inning. Gonzalez was thinking opposite field against the change-up specialist and it paid dividends, hitting one into the basket just above the .368 marker at Wrigley.

The Cubs will certainly have the pitching advantage in Game 3 of the series as the scene shifts to Dodger Stadium for Games 3, 4 and 5. Reigning Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta gets the ball for the Cubs while the Dodgers counter with Rich Hill.

The biggest concern for the south-siders in the inexplicable slumps from Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell. The two have combined to go 2-for-42 in the post-season with Rizzo sitting on a 1-for-23. The Dodgers know it only takes a blooper, a bleeder, or a Texas-leaguer to get these guys going. Both the Giants and Dodgers pitching staffs are making perfect pitches on Rizzo, and to win the series and keep him in check, they will have to continue to hit their spots and get count leverage.

A big question mark for Joe Maddon is what to do with Jason Heyward. He scuffled all year and is now struggling in the post-season. Jorge Soler or Albert Almora might be a better option if Heyward continues to struggle.

The Dodgers felt real good even after their Game 1 loss to the Cubs. The Dodgers are taking some real good at-bats (aside from Yasiel Puig’s two-out bunt try on Sunday night) There is a grind-ability to the Dodgers offensive game right now that is fun to watch.

Been saying it all year, this team may not be as talented as the team’s from 2013-2015 but there is no doubt this Dodgers squad is tougher.

Game 3 is Tuesday at 5pm from Dodger Stadium

As Always Bleeding Dodger Blue !

Dodgers and Nationals square off in Game 1

I am sick of the October surprises in politics. It’s time for an October surprise for the Dodgers.

Dodgers and Nationals Line-ups

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For the fourth straight year the Dodgers enter the post-season as division winners, but unlike the past three years they aren’t seen as the prohibitive favorites they’ve been in years 2013-2015. With that said, any team with Clayton Kershaw is expected to do well and with Los Angeles knocking off the Nationals in five of the six meetings this year, many are picking the Dodgers to advance.

I think this team is better than the team’s the Dodgers have sent to the post-season in the past. They aren’t more talented mind you, they are just better as a group. They play the game better. They aren’t the best team at playing little ball, but they are much better at it than in the past, and it should serve them well in this series.

I am no longer shocked at the efficiency of the bullpen. I have used Andrew Friedman as a piñata at times, but if he foresaw Joe Blanton performing at this level, kudos to him. Even if he didn’t, hell, he took the chance and Blanton has made him look good. The Dodgers pen is much more well equipped to perform well in October than in October’s past.

One bit of advice to manager Dave Roberts. Please, please under no circumstances are you to use Pedro Baez in Game 1 of this series. In 2014, after Kershaw’s 7th inning meltdown, it was Baez who served up what would be the game-winning hit for the Red Birds, a three-run home run to Matt Holiday. Then, last year in a tie ballgame late it was Baez again who served up the game-winning single to David Wright. No Baez today please. I don’t want to hear third times a charm. I don’t want to hear about how well he has pitched this year….blah blah blah…..No Baez today.

The Nationals are a formidable foe and this series will be tough. This series would be even tougher if Stephen Strasburg were healthy and if Wilson Ramos didn’t get hurt last week. Throw in the fact that Ryan Zimmerman has struggled to get big hits with runners in scoring position all year and it really narrows down how the Nats can beat you. Trea Turner has been a dynamic addition to Washington and its imperative Dodger hurlers keep him off base. He is a terror on the bases. Our ole friend Jayson Werth has hurt the Dodgers in the path when with the Phillies, gotta keep him out of leveraged situations with runners in scoring position. And, of course Bryce Harper. By Harper standards he has had an off year but he is supremely talented and loves the spot-light. I expect him to have a good series.

Both teams have great bullpens with Mark Melancon closing for the Nationals and Kenley Jansen closing for the Boys in Blue. Both teams want to give their behemoths in the 9th leads to work with.

It seems simplistic to say, but these teams are evenly matched and the squad that hits better with runners in scoring position and whose bullpen performs better will win it.

No predictions here. Bleeding Dodger Blue and dreaming of that elusive pennant that we have waited nearly three decades to savor.

 

 

In brutal loss Dodger fans asking wrong questions

The lunatic fringe, known as Dodgers Nation, is obsessed with Dave Roberts’ decision to pull Ross Stripling with one out in the bottom of the 8th inning in a game where he was throwing a no-hitter. I get the consternation but we can’t overlook the facts here. Stripling is two years removed from Tommy John surgery and this was his first major league start. He had just walked a hitter with one out in the 8th and had hit the magic 100 pitch count. In my mind, no-brainer, you pull the kid, shake his hand and tell him, “we are going to need you 25-30 more times this season, great job.” END OF STORY.

Ahhhh, but all the amateur GM’s are hammering Roberts for his decision. That’s OK Dave, roll with it. They know not of what they speak.

In the wake of this Friday night debacle Dodgers fans are asking the wrong questions. Quit questioning the move to pull Stripling and start questioning, what in the world Friedman/Zaidi and Byrnes are doing in that front office. This is the third straight year the Dodgers have entered a season with an unproven bullpen. I have heard all the arguments from my twitter friends, “but they are trying to get arms, Chapman deal was in place, we offered O’Day more money, we offered Gregerson more money.” I hear you loud and clear. But, you are missing the point. As an architect the people who live in the building don’t want to hear about the high quality steal you “could have” had, they want to hear about what you have. And, what the Friedman, Zaidi and Byrnes crew has given us isn’t Rearden Steel. Instead its a cheap imitation that melts in extreme heat.

The big leagues is not a place for pitchers to learn their secondary pitches. That is for the minors. Pedro Baez has one pitch. It’s a 98-100 mile per hour fastball, certainly a great attribute but he can’t consistently locate it and his secondary pitch is a slider which he can execute at roughly a 20 percent clip. That isn’t good. Personally, his act has grown tiresome. His post-season foibles are tough to forget. I would be willing to let bygones’ be bygones if he had a serviceable second offering…..he doesn’t have one.

Chris Hatcher supposedly has a change-up. We all know he has a great fastball, but to quote the great Teddy Ballgame in Ed Linn’s great book, Hitter, “I am so good at hitting the fastball that if it doesn’t have any run on it and it is straight, I will hit. I could hit a bullet out of gun if its straight.” Hatcher’s fastball is straight, his change-up is inconsistent. Don’t ask me, look at the hitter’s measure Hatcher and Baez.

To continue sending these guys to the mound in leveraged situations without other options or even addressing this ongoing bullpen problem is negligence. I have written too many blogs about this topic. Why ? One, is I have too much late night-time on my hands, but two, this team can not and will not win a pennant, let alone a World Series with this bullpen.

Friedman and company have had two years to address this bullpen and they continue with the same group of one pitch wonders. Evidently there is some analytic that tells these guys that Baez and Hatcher are essential. The Dodgers needed to address this bullpen issue, not with would’ve’s and could’ve’s but they needed a strategic plan to make it better. Make O’Day an offer he couldn’t refuse. Make Andrew Miller an offer he couldn’t refuse.

The Royals and Giants have been winning World Series with strong lights-out bullpens. I am not sure why the memo hasn’t gotten to the Dodgers.

So, in closing, while the fringe debates Roberts’ move, the rest of us here in the world of sane people continues to wonder why we continue running the same guys out there who cough up games year-after-year out of that bullpen

Dodgers sign Kendrick: Forgive me for feeling less than satisfied

 

It is being robustly reported that my beloved Los Angeles Dodgers have signed free-agent second baseman Howie Kendrick to a two-year 20 million dollar deal. I am thrilled. I have always loved Howie and what he brings to the table. He is the consummate professional hitter. I will say this, his professionalism better border on extra-ordinary if this team is going to make noise in the NL WEST.

I have been purposely silent during these winter months. One could say I have been hibernating, but that would not be true. Because whatever sleeping I have been doing pales in comparison to the Dodgers brain trust and their malfeasance.

Let me be PERFECTLY CLEAR. I fully support the Dodgers NOT giving Zack Greinke 6 years and 206 million dollars. I fully support the Dodgers not signing Jeff Samardjiza for 90 million dollars and Johnny Cueto for the 100 plus million he signed for with the Hated Ones. Let the Giants rebuild their rotation with Johnny”I had a 9 ERA in September and couldn’t pitch on the road in the post-season” Cueto. And with Jeff “I gave up the most hits, the most runs and the most home runs of any pitcher in baseball” Samardjiza. Best of luck Hated Ones. I applaud Friedman, Zaidi, Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy, Rockefeller and whomever else resides in the Dodgers front office. Great job.

Secondly, I love stock-piling young talent and the Dodgers have gone from a bottom-five minor league system under McCourt to having gold-plated toilet seats up and down their minor league system. The Dodgers have stock-piled power arms galore. They didn’t need to spend big money on the Greinke’s of the world because Jose DeLeon and Julio Urias should be tipping their hats to an appreciative Dodger Stadium crowd by mid-July. Kudos to the brain-trust for the accumulation of talent.

Now, the reason for my angst.

I will not deny that a lot of my frustration and edginess stems from the bitterness of watching the Giants win three titles in five years. I live in Northern California and have to hear from these people all the time. Their haranguing is nauseating. I deserve it. As I’ve said, my mouth after the 2002 World Series wrote checks that are now being cashed. Ok, got that out-of-the-way.

I look at the Dodgers and I see an imperfect assemblage of what a baseball team should look like. Freidman and company  can assemble all the talent they want but so far they are content with a team that doesn’t generate runs unless the ball sails into the seats, and either can’t or doesn’t want to move runners with productive outs or selflessness at the plate. This “philosophical” abyss is what cost the Dodgers Game 5 of the NLDS. People can point to Corey Seager not covering third base, but the true crime of that loss was the Dodgers seeing 57 pitches with runners in scoring position and not producing one run. This team is devoid of situational awareness. Now, a ton of the blame deservedly falls at the feet of former manager Don Mattingly and released hitting instructor Mark McGwire. The Dodgers were horrific at situational hitting during the regular season, there was not reason to believe that would change when the pressure is ratcheted  up.  I loved what I heard from Dave Roberts after he got the job. He is a believer in stealing bags, hitting and running and sees value in “small ball.” As Denzel would say, “My Man.”

The signing of Kendrick gives the Dodgers a great bench. What they don’t have is a lead-off hitter, an influx of contact hitters and right-handed power. It’s a line-up that strikes out too much and doesn’t have much speed. So, while Roberts may philosophically be my kindred spirit, he may not have a ton to work with as the Dodgers try to shape themselves into a team that can actually win something in October.

The starting rotation does not bother me as much as it bothers some. I like Scott Kazmir. I like the Kenta Maeda signing. And, if Hyun-Jin Ryu is healthy by June I really like the rotation, especially with the kids waiting in the wings. What is unforgivable is the Dodgers going into the 2016 season with virtually the same bullpen as last year. Yes, I know they had a deal for Aroldis Chapman that fell through when the world learned he likes to fire 8 gunshots into the wall of his garage while his girl-friend cowers in the bushes. Again, I applaud the Dodgers from walking away from Chapman. From a baseball perspective it hurts, from a human perspective….screw that guy.

I’m sorry I have no faith in Pedro Baez. If I see this one pitch wonder in another leveraged situation again…….Chris Hatcher needs to show me more than six weeks of effectiveness. And, the Dodgers continue to tout Joel Peralta who seems to lose velo on his fastball by the pitch. Have the Dodgers paid attention to the last five World Series champions ? They have all had stellar bullpens with power arms or nasty slider strike throwers. Now is the time in the story when I lament the Dodgers not backing up the Brinks truck for Andrew Miller……..but I digress.

The baseball philosophy must change. The approach must change. The bullpen needs to be reborn. Until this is all put in motion, I will applaud the Kendrick signing, only to stop realizing that Baez and Hatcher have only one serviceable pitch and they will be asked to get outs in the 7th and 8th innings.

Someone get me some Maalox…..