And yet one more post on Cody Bellinger. This could be the last one I write with Cody as a LAD. If that happens I will not be surprised, but I will be saddened.
I admit my affinity for Cody Bellinger has me waffling more about any player that I can remember. I mentioned earlier this week that I thought that maybe not only could LAD tender Belli a contract, but perhaps they should. If this were any of the low contract teams, it would be a no-brainer. But this is the LA Dodgers. Money should not be the #1 concern, but finally putting a team together than can actually finish. Is Belli part of that team?
I have always been an advocate for strong defense up the middle. While Belli has not been a GG CF, he is a plus defender. I do not like the balls that drop in front of him, but he goes back on a ball very well. And he is very good in the gap. So I will take the singles in front vs the doubles and triples over his head.
We know he has speed, and is a plus base runner.
But his offense has been horrendous over the last three years, especially the last two, thus eliminating any positives on defense and base running.
I subscribe to MLBTR and receive twice weekly newsletters and weekly exclusive chats, amongst other perks. One of the primary writers, Anthony Franco, penned the last newsletter I received in anticipation of Friday’s non tender day. Specifically he addressed why MLBTR believes that Belli will be non-tendered. I did not intend to write another post on Cody, but Franco’s newsletter got me to thinking. Franco wrote:
“Bellinger’s cumulative line over the past two seasons is .193/.256/.355 in an even 900 PA. Of the 186 players with 750+ plate appearances in that time, only Jackie Bradley Jr. and Maikel Franco have a worse on-base percentage. Martín Maldonado, Bradley and Joey Gallo are the only players with a lower batting average, while Bellinger ranks in the bottom 15 in slugging. Bellinger has been among the worst offensive regulars two years running.”
“Bellinger’s successive strikeout rates these past two seasons — 26.9% and 27.3% — have been the highest marks of his career. He’s paired that with his worst two walk percentages –8.9% and 6.9%, respectively. That’s an alarming combination on its own, made worse by the fact he’s popping the ball up as much as he ever has.”
Franco goes on to say that because of his recent propensity for strikeouts and popups, any benefit from banning the shift specifically for Belli should be tempered, because pop-ups and strikeouts are outs no matter the defensive alignment.
We have all read those numbers before, and every Dodger fan has experienced the angst watching him. But what is the reason? Franco does conclude that part of the problem could be the lingering shoulder injury.
“His respective 34.4% and 38.1% hard contact rates the last two seasons are the two lowest marks of his career. Bellinger hasn’t hit a single ball in play with an exit velocity at or above 108 MPH since the start of the 2021 season; he’d had 48 such batted balls through his first four years.”
Okay, that makes sense that the injury could still be hampering his hard hit balls, but it is not clear how that manifests itself into the increased strikeout and decreased walks.
Franco goes on to discuss his increased aggressiveness at the plate.
“Bellinger has swung more often on 0-0 counts over the last three seasons, but it hasn’t been the kind of focused aggressiveness one would want from a hitter. He’s not swinging dramatically more often at first-pitch meatballs; he’s increasingly going after balls on the edges or just off the strike zone. He’s finding himself in disadvantageous counts as a result, leaving pitchers more opportunity to put him away with breaking stuff later in an at-bat.”
I thought that I would take a little deeper dive into Cody’s numbers. Below are Belli’s 2022 batting line metrics for each count when he makes contact.
Belli did very well when making contact on the first pitch. He had more HRs on an 0-0 pitch than on any other count. This is where I differ from Franco. It is not necessarily the aggressiveness, but more accurately the increased chase for Strike One. Why did he chase? Maybe this is a condition developed from pressing. Trying to do too much. He would not be an anomaly in this regard. Psychological impediments disrupt a lot of careers. It is those who can overcome those impediments that can go on to have long productive careers. Is this Cody’s problem? I have no basis for making any kind of speculative diagnosis here. I have been in a lot of therapy sessions, but only as the patient, not the therapist.
Or is his poor pitch and location recognition more of who Cody is now?
One other 2022 metric deserves some comment. On 3-0 counts, again perhaps being too aggressive, Belli was .105/.485/.316/.801. But when the count is 3-1, Belli hit .297/.567/.568/1.134. Maybe he needs to take a strike at 3-0. Simply reading something into a stat. Not coaching.
Actually, except for the last two years, Belli has been extremely successful hitting the first pitch.
To me, it appears that the problem with his aggressiveness, as Anthony Franco refers to it, is more a reflection of poor pitch and location recognition than attacking first pitch.
Pitch type and location recognition could get his strikeouts back in line, but it probably has nothing to do with the increased popups. But how pervasive are his popups?
Yes, his popup percentages are up the last two years, but are in line with this 1st two years. His fly ball percentage is up quite a bit, and his ground ball rate is down. I think his lack of production is more indicative of his lack of exit velocity and hard hit balls. Balls that used to go for HRs are now dying on the warning track. His ground ball percentage was increased last year, and that could portend for better numbers without the shift. But the best medicine seems to be a stronger shoulder.
Where is his contact?
|Year||Weak %||Topped %||Under %||Flare/Burner %||Solid %||Barrel %||Barrel/PA|
This seems to indicate that when Belli does make contact, he is getting more solid vs weak contact. He is not topping the ball more than before, and less than MLB average. His under % does indicate that his swing could probably use some leveling, especially with 2 strikes. What might be discerned from above is that Belli is making good barrel contact, but he is not driving the ball as much as hitting underneath and not getting the carry he used to. His decreased exit velo would impact the results here.
Maybe the most telling chart as to where Belli is struggling is below:
|Year||Exit Velo||Max EV||Launch Angle||Sweet Spot %|
Belli’s velo is way down and his launch angle is way up. He is still getting as much sweet spot as before (except 2019), but not the results. Seems to be a warning track power issue.
Below is Belli’s Statcast chart for 2022.
Not that I am a better analyst, but I have a different reasoning for Belli’s struggles than does Anthony Franco. He is swinging at more first pitches, but I do not see that in and of itself as a problem. Is he chasing more? Almost certainly. He is in the bottom third percentile for whiff and chase.
But I see the problem more of exit velocity. Is that a problem with his shoulder or mechanics or both? Is his increase in launch angle due to his shoulder injury?
It is being reported that he is at Camelback working his tail off trying to work through his mechanics. I know there are dozens of eyes on him as he works out, and I am sure that AF/BG are getting daily reports. I am not there, so I have no clue as to whether there is a change in approach.
There is no issue in his defense or sprint speed. He is elite in OAA, but well above average with OF jump and arm strength. His sprint speed is also above.
The above also seems to be pointing that 2019 was the anomaly. But if Cody can get back to even his 2018 numbers, he would be worth the $18.1MM projected investment. In 2018, Cody batted .260/.343/.420/.814, with 28 doubles and 25 HRs. Can he do that again? That is what the Dodgers need to determine before Friday 4:00 PM (PST).
There was a recent article from prospectslive.com theorizing the leg fracture is the real culprit behind his current struggles. I thought it had some merit. Power is generated from the lower half and Bellinger’s lower and upper halves don’t always seem in sync. His stance has changed so often over his career, I really can’t recall if he consistently had a narrower stance prior to 2020, but I can see where it would result in a more balanced swing. If there’s something to it, I’d be surprised if the Dodgers haven’t recognized it by now. Also, if there’s something to it, then perhaps by getting his lower half to contribute more power, he won’t have to over-compensate with the launch angle and improve his barrel%/line drive rate. Should see increased velocity if that happens.
He might need a psychiatrist for the approach issues because it’s probably very much in his head with the forced pressing. That or a very hot streak to start the season. He hasn’t had a hot month since August 2020 and experiencing success has a way of curing things. That’s encouraging he’s already working out at the facility, hopefully not reinforcing existing bad mechanics, but corrective ones. I’ll be very surprised if they don’t tender him. Losing Trea Turner will be a big blow to the offense. Unless Friedman has an ace card up his sleeve, Dodgers will need someone to step up if we’re to get anywhere near last year’s production. I don’t see a lot of candidates in the lineup, and Cody might be the best bet. As currently constructed, I think they’ll need the good version of Cody to be a legit contender next year.
“He might need a psychiatrist for the approach issues”
I was about to suggest the same thing Saxfan. I’d even look into hypnosis.
We’ll know today what the work in Arizona has revealed. Like every Dodger fan I would like to see Cody get his mojo back, but I would also support “enough is enough”, if the Dodgers have arrived at that consensus. He may need a new environment with coaching that could actually help.
Is Bellinger a great song sung blue that just needs a tuneup? We have an inhouse expert. What say STB? Arizona just obtained one of your favorites from the Mariners. Lewis is now a Diamondback. Does that mean AZ will listen to a huge package from LA for Corbin? If so, and Corbin becomes a Dodger, do you want to roll the dice with Bellinger?
As of now Lewis is not anywhere near the player that Corbin Carroll is. I’m thinking they probably got him in order to trade Thomas or McCarthy.
Lewis may yet turn into the player everyone hoped he’d be but he’s not that guy right now.
Corbin Carroll is as likely to be traded by Arizona as is Julio Rodriguez from Seattle.
Kyle Lewis and Cody Bellinger have similar statistical curves. Looking at their projections it’s difficult to know where bottom is.
MLBTR reported a story from Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald that seems to imply that Miami may be willing to move LHSP Trevor Rogers than Pablo Lopez. That is something I have said since last year, even though I wanted Pablo Lopez at the deadline. That being said, Trevor Rogers is the type of pitcher that AF/BG can acquire without a lot of prospect capital and could in fact turn out to be a stellar member of the rotation. He is certainly someone I would like to see the Dodgers gamble on.
He is 25, and has 2 years MLB experience.. He was runner up ROY to Jonathan India in 2021. In 2021, he pitched 133.0 innings with a 2.64 ERA and a 2.55 FIP. It is hard to find many FIP that are below ERA. That means he pitched in bad luck and still had a 2.64 ERA. His WHIP was 1.150. Not CY worthy but pretty good for a 23 year old. He allowed 5 HRs. His k/9 was 10.6 while his BB/9 was 3.1. His K/BB was 3.41. Not elite, but more than adequate. His ERA + was 160.
So was 2021 Trevor Rogers or 2022? For me he is worth the risk. He pitched 28.0 innings in 2020, so maybe 2021 was a little too much. He came down with back spasms and a grade 1 lat strain.
Between returning from the IL due to back spasms, and being shut down for the year due to the lat strain, he compiled a 2.95 ERA with 22 strikeouts and just three walks across 18 1/3 innings in three starts.
He has 4 more years of control, so he will cost. Edwin Ríos would look good in Fish Teal. He would get to go home. He went to Florida International in Miami and went to HS in Kissimmee. Edwin would be a good start for a suitable package for a young mid rotation LHSP. Cannot go by the trade simulator that gives Ríos a grade. And Bums, Miami does not want Max Muncy.
But just like with Lopez, it will be very difficult to find a match for what Miami needs. OF, specifically CF, and no they do not want Bellinger except if he is free,
My first choice is still Corbin Burnes. People (uninformed fans) are already putting together trade scenarios for both Burnes and Adames. A lot have it starting with Lux and Gonsolin and go from there. It is a non-starter for Milwaukee without Lux and a starting pitcher with ML experience. That would mean Gonsolin or Dustin May. I think Milwaukee would prefer May, and that would probably lessen the prospect(s) capital that would need to be included. But I am not sure AF/BG would be willing to let go of May.
Anyway, who out there wants to play GM and come up with a trade for Corbin Burnes and Willy Adames or just Corbin Burnes?
Just Corbin Burns for me. That would keep Lux for 2nd if not SS. I don’t know who will pitch more innings over the next few years between Gonsolin or May so either one plus Muncy works for me. Friedman can figure out who else would be included.
Non-tendering Cody, trading Muncy and Taylor, and not getting Adames would reduce a lot of Ks. Who replaces them is the question and would they K less.
Just for fun let’s get Burns, Bieber and Rogers.
Gonsolin, Muncy, and ? for Burns.
May, Vargas, and ? for Bieber.
Rios, Taylor, and ? for Rogers
Bieber, Urias, Burns, Kershaw, Rodgers.
You do understand why Milwaukee is even considering trading Burnes, right? They want to get out from the arbitration hit from one of their 3 $11MM arbitration players. Burnes would bring the most back, so they are willing to TALK not necessarily do. Milwaukee is not Oakland. Why would Milwaukee trade an $11MM Ace and pay $14MM for a sub-Mendoza line hitting Muncy, and a 29 year old pitcher who has not had a healthy full year in MLB.
Milwaukee could simply non tender Hunter Renfroe and then move on with both Burnes and Woodruff.
AF/BG and the other baseball player development crew are not as much against the strikeout as most fans are. Their algorithms say that strikeouts are just the same as any other out without runners on base, and is preferable to a ground ball that could result in a DP. In their minds, it also drives the pitch count up. They would prefer a 6 pitch strikeout to a 1 pitch fly out.
Then Taylor, $$, and Rios?
Taylor would give them a CF, but they are looking at a better option by trading pitching for Bryan Reynolds. CT3 at $45MM does not get the conversation going. If you do not want CT3 for $45MM why would Miami? So how much would you pay down? The Dodgers like Taylor, but I think even AF/BG know they overpaid for him. Although fWAR would disagree for last year (1.9 fWAR – $15.4MM).
According to Yahoo Sports Taiwan, multiple MLB organisations are eyeing university pitcher 沙子宸 (Sha Tzu-Chen).
The Dodgers, Pirates and Athletics are showing interest in the 19-year-old Taiwanese right-hander.
What do we know about Chen, Bluto, other than the fact that he’s 19 and obviously has talent?
Jon Morosi has said that he believes that it is 50/50 at best that Belli is a LAD at the end of the day. However, he adds that it could come in the form of a trade. There apparently is smoke on the trade front. No mention as to who (yet). But the Cubs and Blue Jays seem to be monitoring the arbitration deadline the most when it comes to Belli. Belli, prospect(s) and $8MM cash for Ian Happ? Cash would then not be an issue in the deal, and the only question is how much of a prospect would it take to add for Belli to get Happ. Or how about Belli and Ríos. Ríos would be an upgrade to Patrick Wisdom at 3B or a LH hitting DH platooned with Franmil Reyes.
This would be ironic for me. In 2017, after Belli was sent down to OKC at the beginning of the year, their first series was against the Iowa Cubs. Playing 2B for the Cubs was Happ, and after that series I began to write that the Dodgers should be looking at trying to trade for Happ, and have not stopped in my quest. Obviously Chicago liked Happ as well.
Any “lottery tickets” in the Cubs or Toronto system you see as also viable?
I will have to take a look. None that come to mind right away. That is a good project for me.
On a cursory look: These are sheer “lottery” tickets.
SS – Ed Howard – Cubs – Recovering from hip surgery for an injury in a freak base running accident. In High A for his last 14 games before surgery –.320 (16-for-50) with a .382 OBP. 45 FV for both FanGraphs and MLB
LHSP – Drew Gray – Cubs – 40+ FanGraphs FV, 40 MLB Pipeline FV
RHSP – Anderson Espinoza – Cubs – 40 FanGraphs FV, 40 MLB FV
SS – Manuel Beltre – Toronto – Could grow from utility prospect to everyday infielder. FanGraphs 40 FV – MLB 45 FV
RHSP – Dahian Santos – Toronto – Probably on a lot of teams radar right now. He is a fast riser. He is a FanGraphs FV of 40 and 45 with MLB Pipeline.
2B – Estiven Machado – Toronto – FV 40 for both FanGraphs and MLB. Only has one year of professional ball. Old school defense first 2B whose prospect status will rise with his OBP. There is no power. A better defensive wannabe Nick Madrigal?
Does Jake Reed have a relative in the LAD front office? The Dodgers just claimed him off waivers from Boston. He has now been claimed by LAD for the 3rd time. He has been with 6 teams since June 2021.
When you’re done with your other research, Jeff, maybe you can explain to me why they leave Duran unprotected and then take up a roster space with Jake Reed.
No can do. Makes zero sense to me. Carlos Duran could be sitting in some team’s MLB dugout in 2023 after December 7 Rule 5 draft.
Another conspiracy theory I am floating. Cody Bellinger’s agent is Scott Boras. AF has never successfully signed a Scott Boras client. Both statements are true. So the likelihood of Bellinger signing with LAD next year are extremely remote at best. But if the Dodgers do in fact non tender Bellinger and it costs him…say $8MM to $10MM, what are the chances that Boras would have a sour taste in his mouth for AF/BG, and hurt negotiations for any other Boras client, including Julio Urías next year, or Correa and Bogaerts this year.
Is Boras someone that has no emotional runover for each of his player negotiations? Is Belli considered a standalone, independent of any other player in his stable? Boras and Belli are humans, not machines. It is a strong unique negotiator who can eliminate all personal feelings during the negotiations.
Just thinking out loud.
I am a Bellinger fan. He will be two years removed from major surgery. I think and honestly believe he gets one more shot with the Dodgers.
We will know in a couple hours.
1. Twins trade INF Gio Urshela to LAA for Class A RHSP Alejandro Hidalgo. Hidalgo will be 20 next year. Hidalgo is the #22 in a very weak LAA farm system. Good trade for the Halos. Hidalgo could be in AA at 21 so maybe not so bad for Minnesota, although not immediate help. There has to be other deals in the work for Minnesota. Outside of Royce Lewis there are no infielders on the cusp of ML in their system. They have no SS or 3B, although Polanco can move over from 2nd to play SS, and Royce can play SS. Brooks Lee is still a year away, but probably not much more. Maybe he becomes the Alex Bregman of his class and slides to 3B. He made AA in his first year out of Cal Poly SLO. He is a fast riser. He is already #32 in MLB Top 100 in his first year. Twins may have a future All Star 3B nearing MLB.
2. NYY re-signs IKF for 1 year – $6MM.
3. Zach Reks re-signs with KBO Lotte Giants for $1.2MM. After signing with them in July, he posted a line of .330/.410/.495/.905 with the Giants.
4. Braves sign LHRP Tyler Matzek to a 2-year $3.1MM deal with a $5.5MM option for 2025. Matzek will earn $1.2MM in 2023 while he recovers from TJ surgery, and then $1.9MM in 2024. Matzek was considered a non-tender candidate before re-signing.
5. The Rockies claimed Brent Suter off waivers from Milwaukee. I am not sure why Colorado went this route. Suter throws his 4-seamer at about 86.5 MPH and that pitch has a -7.4 value. At that altitude, his 4-seamer will have even less movement and will probably look like sitting on a tee. 86.6 with minimal movement? What could go wrong? He throws his slider about 5% and his changeup 25%. His change is his best pitch, and it has about 9 MPH difference than his fastball. How will Colorado affect those pitches. Suter used to be a reliable reliever for Milwaukee.
Kenny Rosenthal reporting the Dodgers will non-tender Cody B.
Of course the Dodgers can re-sign Cody at a lesser amount. But I cannot see Boras allowing that to happen. He will get close enough dollars (if not more) than what LAD is willing to offer. Chicago or Toronto seem likely landing spots. But once non-tendered, he will become the #2 CF on the FA market.
Bob Nightengale is reporting that the Dodgers have some interest in Kevin Kiermaier.
Two possibilities here:
1) Andrew has decided to build the strongest possible defensive team and will follow a Kiermaier signing by signing Dansby Swanson.
2) Dodgers have decided to tank and go for a high draft choice.
I wonder what this decision means for JT? More money left to bring him back, or………………….an indication that they’re cutting loose a lot of guys.
With respect to JT…”an indication that they’re cutting loose a lot of guys”. This. I would not expect the Dodgers to re-sign JT until ST and if they need a RH bat.
Kiermaier is an AF favorite, so that is a logical assumption. I still think this is a move to put James Outman in CF. Kiermaier would be a backup and I do not think he would agree to that. There are teams that need CF. If Outman falters, then Trayce Thompson and CT3 can play there. As I indicated a little while back. The Dodgers need to look for a CF of the future…Cubs – Pete Crow-Armstrong, Nats – Robert Hassell or James Wood. Outman is not a long term answer in CF.
I think this could be the start of a cost conscious plan to get under the CBT threshold for 2023. The Dodgers do not need to spend $300MM, win 111 games, just to lose in the NLDS. The Dodgers are now $62MM below CBT. Kershaw will take $20MM of that. It is time to see just how good that MiLB system is. We keep hearing how good it is. Outman in CF, Vargas at LF, Busch at 2B, Lux at SS, Pepiot and Miller in the rotation. This is what a lot of people in the LAD blogosphere have been clamoring for. The problem is that a significant portion of those fans have never seen an MiLB game and have no way of comparing LAD prospects to others.
It is time to put up or shut up. Get to 90 wins and find a top tiered SP at the deadline and hope and pray in the playoffs.
JT will never wait until ST to see if they bring him back. They do this to him every time he’s a free agent. I wouldn’t blame him if he just walked away. He said he’s had a number of conversations with AF who told him they have to get all their ducks in a row and can then deal with him. Balderdash! JT should tell Andrew, if I’m not signed by the day before the Winter Meetings I’m going there and finding myself a deal.
You say CK will take $20MM of the CBT money. What about Bauer? I can’t believe the arbitrator is going to let that entire suspension stand without reducing it. If so, that adds to Dodger payroll.
Word going around now is Dodgers will make a run at Aaron Judge. Logical with $100M now off the books with Bellinger, Kimbrel, Anderson, Heaney, Price and 2 Turners off the roster. Needs include SS, 3B, SPs, RP and now OF
Alex Reyes anyone?
Cards are non-tendering him.
Still strikes out tons of guys…………………………….but he also walks way too many batters.
Maybe we can fix him.
The article sounds like he might need glasses
Rios also non-tendered
That’s just nuts. How could they not have found a trade partner for him?
I have no idea, but maybe they cut him loose to sign with Japan or Korea. I know that happens, but somebody would have given the Dodgers somebody for him in a trade.
They let Tyler Anderson go because they did not want to go 3 years. Non-tender Belli and Ríos. Pick up Jake Reed on waivers. What the heck, he is a MLB minimum. He did get a save against NYM. Maybe he is being looked at as the new closer.
Apparently the Dodgers could not afford $1.4MM.
Maybe we knew we weren’t going to play him, but I find it hard to believe nobody else could afford $1.4MM.
Luke Williams was also non tendered. The Dodgers 40 man is now down to 35. 36 when (if) Kershaw re-signs. Why hasn’t he signed?
I don’t think there is any rush for him to sign and this gives them an extra spot to play with going into the Winter Meetings.
It appears that they DBacks have non-tendered Reyes Moronta. The Dodgers have a chance to re-sign him. With Moronta and Reyes the bullpen should be set. 😎
Have we forgotten the Keith Law message?
Don’t worry. Best front office, arguably best team and farm system.
Friedman says they may entertain Bellinger at a lower price.
Read this on Twitter, it’s interesting:
Just sitting here thinking how Urias, Buehler, Joc, Seager, and Bellinger started and how it is all very possible that the Dodgers don’t sign any of them to second contracts.
Really good stuff from Friedman:
Was getting the payroll under CBT a factor in the decision to non-tender Cody Bellinger? Dodgers Andrew Friedman: “I think payroll considerations factor into every decision that every team makes. If you look back over the last 7, 8 years it’s probably factored in less for us than it has for the other 29 teams. But it’s still a factor and there’s still things that we always have to balance and juggle and try to put ourselves in position to have the best team possible when we get to Glendale.
Friedman said the Dodgers had conversations with Cody Bellinger’s agent Scott Boras, as well as “other teams” for a possible trade, leading up to today’s deadline, obviously, the non-tender meant we didn’t line up on anything. Also said the decision to non-tender Edwin Rios was based on a lack of “fit” on #Dodgers roster with left-handed hitters James Outman and Michael Busch having emerged on the 40-man roster
More good stuff, this via Plunkett:
Interesting answer when #Dodgers Andrew Friedman was asked if he is confident Cody Bellinger can “figure it out” and turn around his career: “I’m not sure how to answer that. Last offseason, I was very confident and it didn’t prove out in ‘22. I remain confident.
I don’t know how to answer it any more directly than that. There are very few knowns in what we do. It’s all kind of on that … a percentage scale of how likely something is. … We still really believe in the talent of Cody and feel like he is as committed as ever to figure it out. That coupled with the talent that we have in our weight room, on our coaching staff, we feel like we collectively with him, could figure it out. But again, I felt that way coming into ‘22. But feel that way again kind of heading into ‘23.