Tag Archives: MLB

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.

Dodger Nation in full panic mode……

Rarely am I the great outlier when it comes to analyzing my beloved Dodgers, but over the last week there aren’t many voices of calm, except for my own.

After winning 91 of 127 games and going an insane 53-9 over a 10-week stretch the Dodgers have hit the pavement like a hell-bent anvil.

It’s not just the losses, its how they are losing. Ugly.

The usual criticisms are being rained down upon the Boys in Blue.

  1. Not enough depth in the starting rotation
  2. Bullpen shortfalls
  3. No reliable lefty in the pen

I can’t argue any of these points. All of these facets have been downright dreadful, but there are a few elements you need to evaluate before you jump off the ship without a life preserver.

First, the Dodgers slide coincided with the Cody Bellinger going on the shelf for a bum ankle. Second, as Bellinger came back Corey Seager went on the shelf with a problematic shoulder and elbow. These two were two of the pulsing pistons driving the Dodgers in June and July. They are banged up and the team is in a scuffle, not a surprise.

Justin Turner has also cooled off considerably. Like the Dodgers playing at an .800 clip it was unrealistic to expect “Red Turn” to hit .360 all year. These three are the teeth of the Dodgers offense, with a disruption in this triumvirate there was going to be some slippage.

And how about this for analysis ? They were due for a slide.  I know the reasoning is medieval and isn’t sexy but it’s fact. Over a 162-game schedule a team will always revert to their mean. You are what you are over 162 games. Right now the Dodgers are talented, spirited team that has put themselves in a great position, that is it. Nothing more, nothing less.

I will say that there is some concern with the complete meltdown on the mound. The starting pitching needs to be better, the bullpen needs to be better. They know this, it’s not a surprise. But, I think this team is closer to the team that blistered baseball for 127 games instead of the duds we’ve seen over the last ten games.

Last point, this thing does need to get turned around in the next few weeks. The 2006 St. Louis Cardinals won a World Series losing 8 of their final 9 games and limping into the post-season. They were exception and not the rule. You can’t expect to play like a trash bin and think you can flip the switch on September 27th.

For now, I sit back and let my Dodger brethren fret. I will take a deep breath, knowing that baseball is a fickle mistress, and watch as the Boys in Blue eventually find their footing.

I hope.

 

“Devil Magic” may have met its match

The San Francisco Giants carpet ride of glory may have met its match in an October even year with this year’s 103-win Chicago Cubs.

There has been something magical about the Cubs this year. Joe Maddon and his fun-loving bunch believe this is their time. They have the group young and wild enough to give the finger to 108 years of no banners. They are the best team in baseball and they carry themselves like they know it.

It was only one game but the Cubs and Jon Lester tamed the beast that roars in last night’s 1-0 win. The “Devil” also saw some moments of trepidation when calls that usually go their way in October’s past, inexplicably didn’t.

Early on it seemed the Giant mo-jo was intact. A sliding acrobatic catch in left center by Gorkys Hernandez kept the Cubs at bay early, and a tremendous sliding snag of a hard hit grounder late by Kelby Tomlinson had Satan and minions delighted. But, that all turned in the 9th when Hernandez was called out on a check-swing, that replays clearly showed was a bad call and he should have been awarded first base. The call was even more painful for the Giants when Buster Posey rattled a ball off the ivy in left-center that would have easily scored the speedy Hernandez with two outs in the 9th.

You will say this a little thing, but I say its big. These are the types of plays, the types of breaks that always go the Giants way in October. Last night they didn’t.

Devil Magic is on full alert. It only takes one of those quirky plays to not go your way allowing even-year doubt to start seeping in.

Reddick’s struggles and Chooch’s auspicious debut…..

As much as I want to I will not regale you with another anti-Andrew Friedman diatribe. I’m simply spinning my wheels at this point. But I do have some thoughts regarding his newest acquisitions and whether the Dodgers are better for it.

I was not a fan of the Rich Hill/Josh Reddick deal that sent three power arms to the Oakland Athletics. But now that they are here I want them to do well. Hill looked great against the Giants on Wednesday. Six shut-out innings with a nasty curveball and a ton of first pitch strikes. For a team that needs innings from their starting rotation, Hill is a welcome addition.

Josh Reddick on the other hand has had a disastrous start to his Dodger career. It seems big moments are finding him and he is not coming through. Dodger Nation is turning on him and it reminds me a lot of the venom much beloved Juan Uribe faced. Of course Uribe spent the first two years of his Dodger career languishing on the bench before turning things around and becoming a fan favorite. I believe in Reddick. I fully expect him to start playing better. Change of scenery is easy for some guys, and not easy for others. It’s clear Reddick is having a tough time. I don’t have any empirical evidence that guarantees Reddick will perform at a high level, but I have a “feeling.” He is too good a ball-player to be playing this poorly. It’s tough to be patient during a pennant race. It’s easier to bury a guy who is stinking up the joint. Give Reddick a break. I have a feeling he is going to come through in a big spot for the Dodgers. It’s a gut feeling.

GM Andrew Friedman pissed off the natives once again with a head-scratching move on Thursday afternoon. He traded the longest tenured and much beloved teammate AJ Ellis for Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz. On the surface it appears to be a trade for one aging catcher for another, but when you dig deeper it was much more than that.

Ellis was the most beloved Dodger in the locker room. He is Clayton Kershaw’s best friend. He was the undeniable leader in the clubhouse and the Dodgers trade him for a small upgrade at back-up catcher ? Yep, that is what sabermetricians do. They de-value chemistry and simply plug-in players like robots. While Ruiz is a better right-handed bat in this left-handed hitting heavy line-up, he is not so much of an upgrade that it warranted trading a much beloved figure.

Ruiz will help so we don’t have to watch Yasmani Grandal not shift his weight on a ball in the dirt and let it get by him for the tying or winning run to score. Ironically, in Ruiz’s first game who let two Kenley Jansen balls get by him in the 9th inning of a one-run game that allowed the Chicago Cubs to tie and eventually beat the Dodgers in 10 innings. An auspicious start for sure, but certainly not indicative of the type of player I expect Ruiz to be. I think he will do well. He will help, but it was another in a series of peculiar Friedman moves.

I will leave you with this. Baseball is played by human beings who battle for 162 games in a foxhole. When you haphazardly throw away one of the soldiers disrupting the continuity of the “team” you are flirting with danger. Chemistry in baseball matters. Winning teams have it, losing teams search for it. The Dodgers had won the first two games of their pivotal series with the Giants and Friedman sent shock waves through his own team by trading away a guy who meant so much to them from a personal perspective. This is not being “soft” or too sentimental. Winning is fragile. When you don’t respect the process, when you meddle when it’s not needed, you can disrupt this fragile concoction. Friedman and company are unconventional. They believe in a baseball process that has only really been mastered at the World Championship level by Theo Epstein. By not valuing chemistry and camaraderie, Friedman has served notice, this is his franchise and chemistry be damned. He will do things as his eminence sees fit, regardless if whether it makes any baseball sense.

As always Bleeding Dodger Blue…….

Dodger Front Office Apologists are missing our point

I was one of the first ones’ on the Andrew Friedman bandwagon when the Guggenheim Group brought him in. “In Friedman I trust” was the mantra as a new in organizational structure was about to take hold. What has followed have been some glaring mis-steps and a lack of attention to detail that have this life-long Bleeding Bluer a tad confused and disappointed.

To be clear, I am not saying or professing that the Friedman/Zaidi/Byrnes/(insert name here) era has been or will be a failure. That is where I think many of the front office defenders get their panties in a bunch. I am still glad that Friedman is running the show. In a recent LA Times interview the man in charge finally gave us a detailed look behind the curtain.

(http://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/la-sp-dodgers-dugout-andrew-friedman-20160218-htmlstory.html)

He laid bare the baseball-side philosophy of where this organization is going, wants to go and expects to go. I could hardly find much to argue with philosophically in his statements. I respect the fact they don’t want to overpay players that could hurt them on the back-ends of deals. I respect and LOVE their desire to build a minor league juggernaut. I respect the fact they wouldn’t give up the farm for a rental in their starting rotation that they knew they weren’t going to over-spend for anyway.

There is crazy spending and there is essential and necessary spending. This is where my biggest beef emanates from. Friedman tells us every transaction goes through the cost-benefit analysis. If that’s the case then why did they think it was wise to give oft-injured Brandon McCarthy 4 years and 48 million dollars and even more oft-injured Brett Anderson 2 years and 28 million. They have spent 76 million dollar on two pitchers that many of us (raises hand) predicted would go down like the Hindenburg. This isn’t a strong cost-benefit analysis. The signs were all there that not only would these two pitchers struggle to stay healthy, but they were also grossly over-paid. How does this front office rationalize overpaying some pitchers, yet letting others walk ?

Let me put it in bold print, I did not want the Dodgers to overspend for Zack Greinke. More power to the Diamondbacks in the 3rd and 4th year of that deal when Zack is decimating their books and going 12-13 with an ERA north of 4. The Dodgers were wise to pass on injury risk Johnny Cueto and on Jeff Samardjiza. Let the Giants deal with those long-term ramifications. I believe Friedman and company deserve credit for showing restraint there. But, what are the analytics that actually showed these guys that McCarthy and Anderson were good acquisitions. Wouldn’t it have been better to solidify the bullpen and hand the back-end of the rotation to the Mike Bolsinger’s of the world ?

Friedman’s “idea” of a strong bullpen is odd. He actually believed that Chris Hatcher, Joel Peralta, Juan Nicasio and Pedro Baez comprised a strong bullpen. In this case it has nothing to do with analytics. Judgements like these makes me question his baseball acumen. Baez has one pitch and has done his best Broxton versus Matt Stairs impersonation in back-to-back post-seasons. He needs a second pitch and should not pitch in leveraged situations with the game on the line if he doesn’t have one. Hatcher spent much of the summer with only one pitch. He certainly has a future and an electric arm, but he wasn’t ready for big spots last year. Peralta lost about 5 miles per hour from his fast ball yet Friedman thought he was the best answer to shore up those late innings. Nicasio was eventually released, primarily because of free passes.

This is the second straight season where the Dodgers enter the year with an average bullpen at best in front of lights out closer Kenley Jansen.

Many Friedman defenders will point out, rightfully so, that the front office tried to overpay for Luke Gregerson and he took less money to play for the Astros. They will point out that the Dodgers tried to lure Darren O’Day from the Orioles and he took less money to stay in Baltimore and the Dodgers had a trade in place for Aroldis Chapman before details of his garage gun-play/domestic violence case emerged. This is bad luck. I do recognize Friedman has tried. A lot of the Dodgers problems would have been solved by simply paying Andrew Miller and let him carve up lefties and righties up. It would have taken 4 years and 40 million. A little more than half what you have given to two injury-riddled pitchers to man the back-end of your rotation.

The Dave Roberts choice was a good one. I think he will hold this team accountable and make them, force them to manufacture some runs. Friedman and staff deserve credit for recognizing that Roberts may be just what the team and organization needed. I am still a fan of Friedman. I want him to succeed. I want the Dodgers to win. I love there is going to be an influx of kids that can come help within the next season or two. I see the sustainability model and I like it.  I think his philosophy can work, but I do have some serious questions on the value he places on essential pieces to the puzzle, and how that value equates to wins.

BitOBaca October 13th SNIPPET

Four teams left in this post-season have the “IT” factor. The Dodgers aren’t one of them. The Dodgers could win Game 4 behind Clayton Kershaw and Game 5 behind Zack Greinke, but does anyone in their right mind EXPECT them to ?

Today’s BitOBaca SNIPPET

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PODCAST of our BitOBaca “Chase Utley Slide” FULL Episode…..

Listen to today’s PODCAST of our “Chase Utley slide” episode.

We look at the slide, its legality, MLB’s response, the response of former big leaguers and put the slide in the “context” of the moment for the Dodgers……

 

Utley slide

LISTEN HERE !!!

Dodgers and Kershaw have much to prove…..

Other than the New York Yankees, no other professional baseball franchise has been in the post-season more than the Dodgers. Whether in Brooklyn or in Los Angeles the Bums have made October their rite of passage. What the Dodgers have not done is always flourish in the month of October like their New York brethren.

Despite winning the National League West for the third straight time the Dodgers recent inability to solve the St. Louis Cardinals has been their albatross. For the sanity of themselves and  their voracious fan base, this is something that needs to be rectified.

Entering this 2015 post-season the Dodgers have numerous question marks. I believe they have more SIGNIFICANT holes than they have that past few seasons. With that said, this might also be their best chance in recent memory to win the pennant. Odd, I know, but let me spell it out.

First lets start with the strengths. The strengths are always more fun to talk about for Dodgers fans. The Dodgers have pop. They can hit the long ball. Up and down the line-up the Dodgers can put runs on the board with one swing of the bat. For much of the season they led the National League in round trippers. The Dodgers also have the best one-two punch in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in the post-season. Kershaw in the three-time Cy Young award winner who will finish in the top-5 once again, while Greinke could garner his second Cy Young award with an amazing 2015 campaign registering a 1.66 ERA. The Dodgers also have great depth. Despite injuries that would have crippled most teams, the Boys in Blue have built a bench that allows them to withstand injuries to key players and not lose a ton in production .

The concerns with this team begins and ends with their porous bullpen. As much as the front office tries to sell the fan base on this group, they have been colossal disappointment. The group is much too streaky for my tastes. Great start, bad middle, solid late-July to early August only to see them stumble again late. For a franchise to have the deepest pockets in all of sport and not make a run at Andrew Miller and some of the other serviceable arms on the market was fool-hardy as I made so abundantly clear ad nauseam. The pen is what it is……a mind-numbing group that will have me grab my Pope Francis blessed rosary beads every time they enter the game.

My second biggest concern regarding this ball-club is their inability to manufacture runs. So many in the lunatic fringe of this fan base do not believe in the hit-and-run, the bunt, the productive out. Many fail to see its the easiest and most productive way to victory. Productive outs lead to runs which lead to wins. I would much rather have Joc Pederson lay a bunt down the third base line with a runner at second and no one out then swing from his britches and swing and miss once again. A bunt allows the runner to get to third which means a ground ball, fly ball, wild pitch, passed ball, balk or even a hit would net a run. But, never mind me, just keep expecting Joc to hit the ball 450 feet. The Dodgers were one of the worst teams in the National League at the fine art of manufacturing runs despite have the best on-base percentage in the National League. This statistical imbalance makes no sense and shows how disconnected this offense can be.

My third concern, and this one breaks my heart. It’s Clayton Kershaw. I know, saying this is sac-religious but the numbers don’t lie. In his last four post-season appearances he is 0-4 with a 7.15 ERA. I love the guy, I really do. But, the great ones perform in October. As great as Greg Maddux was, in my mind all I can remember is him continually scuffling with those mid-90’s Braves teams in October. Kershaw is so much better than his numbers indicate. I won’t even get into his Cardinal-failings. It’s well documented that the Cardinals have pounced on every one of his mistakes over the past two post-seasons. I would love for the Dodgers and Kershaw to get another shot at the Red Birds. He NEEDS success against them as much for him as for the organization. Kershaw’s post-season yips is a huge blip on his resume. Lunatic fringe members will try to argue it’s anomaly, it’s not. Kershaw pitches like the King of All in the regular season but turns into the court jester in the post-season. It’s the one dangling participle that he needs to fix. Admittedly I am not confident of Kershaw in October. I have seen too many meltdowns, too many inexplicable craters in performance to have that MadBum-esque feeling that he is going to overcome.

So there you have it. The post-season is here. this is a very exciting time. The one saving grace as I type this is that the Giants and Yankees are both done for the year. Out of the original New York three, only the Dodgers remain. This team could very well win the pennant and hoist their 7th World Series trophy. But it wouldn’t surprise me if their season is done by next Monday either. So it is with the Dodgers, so unpredictable, so entertaining and never boring.

 

 

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.