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Is This A Team or A Collection of Players

Right now this Los Angeles Dodgers 26-man roster does not conjure up any semblance of a championship caliber TEAM.  They do have quality players, but the conglomeration of those players does not necessarily make a team.

It is not just the loss of Walker Buehler and Gavin Lux.  It is not that the additions of two rookies (James Outman and Miguel Vargas), a 30 year old former hard throwing RHSP looking to be resurrected, a 32 year old former All Star SP looking to resurrect his career as a RP (Shelby Miller),  a 35 year old LF (David Peralta), a 33 year old RF (Jason Heyward), a second utility infielder (Miguel Rojas), and a 35 year old DH (JDM).

The non-rookie additions, outside of Noah Syndergaard have actually been fairly productive.  After a slow start (when he said he was pressing trying to impress his new team), David Peralta has been good both offensively and defensively.  He has never walked much, nor has he ever been a big strikeout threat.  He no longer has the power he once did with Arizona, but he is hitting the baseball, and at 35 is near his career metrics:

  • Career – .281/.338/.455/.793
  • 2023 – .276/.314/.405/.719

He has only had a .800+ OPS season three times, with a high of .893 in 2015.  But his .276 BA vs career .281 indicates that he is still making good contact.  He is very good as a platoon LF, which is what he was acquired to be.

Jason Heyward is having a productive season.  A 103 OPS+ and a good (not elite) defensive season.

Miggy Rojas?  He is what he is, a defensive first utility infielder (SS).

I believe most here acknowledge that I am a JDM fan.  He is having a good season with a 129 OPS+.  He is also considered a good clubhouse guy.  In fact all three of Peralta, Heyward, and JDM are considered good veteran clubhouse guys.  As productive as JDM has been, I wonder if the loss of JT in the clubhouse has been an issue.  He predated AF and was the longest standing non pitcher in the organization.  He was revered in the LAD clubhouse.

While not on the same HOF level as Derek Jeter, he was just as important for the LAD organization as Jeter was to NYY.  Jeter had better surrounding players in the late 90’s and early 00’s.  NYY has not been to the WS since Jeter retired in 2014.  Their last appearance was 2009.  They have won no pennants, 2 AL East Division titles, and 5 WC appearances.  NYY did not make the playoffs in 2016.  As much of a fan as I am of JDM, I am not convinced that he is better for this LAD team than JT might have been.

When Doc seemed to be losing the clubhouse, it was JT that brought them back together. That is not Clayton Kershaw, not Mookie, not Freddie.  JT was not only a productive player, but he was more importantly the glue of that LAD team.  Who is the solidifying voice in the current LAD clubhouse?

The offense is not all that big of a problem.  Even with the lack of consistent production from the rookies, with the additions noted above, the Dodgers are still #2 in the NL (#4 MLB) in OPS and runs scored.  The Dodgers are scoring more runs per game than they did last year.  5.4 in 2023 and 5.2 in 2022.  They have the exact same OPS (.775) as they did in 2022.  When the team is scoring more runs per game than the team that won 111 games, it is not the offense.

So it has to be the pitching.  Right?  During the AF era, no Dodger pitching staff as a whole, as starters, or as relievers, ever had an ERA over 4.00.  The highest was 3.95 starter ERA in 2016.  Here is the ERAs for each year during the AF era:

 

 

After 72 games, the Dodger pitching cannot be considered anything except atrocious.  Is there any help in the system?  Julio Urías and Daniel Hudson are due back at the end of the month or the beginning of July.  Will that make the difference?  Maybe some, but difference making?.  With the Dodgers currently at 4 starting pitchers, help is not on the way after Urías.  Gavin Stone is a hot mess right now.  Will Bobby Miller bounce back?  Because of the state of the LAD bullpen, Miller had to pitch when he should have been pulled.  Same with Gonsolin.  Emmet Sheehan had a fantastic debut.  Will that continue?  Urías, Miller, and Sheehan, are definite questions.

There are other concerns with the starting pitching. Tony Gonsolin is a concern.  His velo is down.

 

 

Of course the explanation by some is that Gonsolin is doing this by design.  Or that losing 1.5 to 2.0 MPH is not significant.  For a pitcher who has had a shoulder injury and a forearm strain the last two years?  And a pitcher than needs more time to recover between starts with a rotation consisting only of 4?  Of course that same person said that Walker Buehler’s velo drop was also due to design, and those of us who believed he may be hurt were scoffed at.  Watch and learn we were told.

Then there was the comment about some fans’ posts reminding him of a few parents on a high school baseball team that wanted to quit when the team was not in a championship hunt.  I cannot speak for that person’s team’s parents, but for me, I do not connote commenting on obvious holes in the team as a point of quitting. IMO, hiding your head in the sand, crossing your fingers, and hoping that things will turn around for the current 40-man roster is more akin to quitting.

As it CURRENTLY is, I do not believe this LAD team can win a championship.  I am sorry, but being 6th in a League of 15 is not winning, even if the playoffs is a crapshoot.  So if that is the standard that is being espoused as being a winner, I am not in that camp.  That does not mean that the team cannot stay close and then make changes at the deadline to improve the team.  But the team needs better starting and relief pitching to contend.  If Kershaw can continue to stay on pace for his largest number of innings pitched since 2015, if Gonsolin can stay healthy, if Miller and Sheehan can stay competitive as starters, and if Urías can return to his 2021-2022 form, the starters will be fine.  BIG IF.  Who is the fallback?  If not Gavin Stone, then it has to come from outside the organization.

The bullpen?  Evan Phillips, Shelby Miller, and Caleb Ferguson are the only three that I have confidence in and only Phillips in a high leverage situation.  Maybe Brusdar Graterol in non-high leverage situations because of his age.  But maybe he should go back to OKC to work on his command.  Outside of Phillips, who is a go-to reliever in high leverage situations?  Alex Vesia and Phil Bickford do not belong on a MLB roster right now.  Yency Almonte?  He falters way too often for me to have confidence in a high leverage situation.  We have learned that the OKC relievers have not done well at the MLB level…Andre Jackson, Nick Robertson, Bryan Hudson, Tyler Scott, Justin Bruihl.  Can Michael Grove fulfill one of the reliever roles?

So is Daniel Hudson the missing link for a winning bullpen?  With him in a closer role/high leverage situations, everyone else (other than Phillips) drops down.  Maybe the other relievers find their 2022 selves.  Who is confident that will happen?

I will continue to question the current makeup of the roster as it is now.  I have not quit on the team.  So I am not going to let someone rub my snotty little nose in it because he always thinks he is smarter than every other LAD fan on the planet and picks the Dodgers to win every year.  Gee, so do I, and I bet most LAD fans do as well.  I bet he picked the Dodgers to win in the 90’s as well.

If in fact, Dave Roberts has lost the clubhouse maybe a change will be due.  I do believe managers can make a difference.

I said last year, watch out for Texas because of Bruce Bochy.  If (when) they make the playoffs, he will kick it into another gear.

Houston has suffered as many injuries as have the Dodgers (probably more) and they have the same record as do the Dodgers, and are the last AL WC team (tied with NYY) as are the Dodgers in the NL.  Fans are questioning Dusty’s resolve, and they are the reigning WS champs.

If you choose to blindly follow the team without question, then what is the point of blogging about the team?  Just say the Dodgers will win the WS this year and every year and let it go.

 

For me, I choose to believe they can turn it around with help; internal and external.  But my biggest concern is whether this a collection of players or an actual team.  If it is a team, they need to start playing as one.  Quit swinging for the fences with a runner on 3rd and less than two outs and popping up or striking out (especially looking).  Move the runner from 2nd with no outs to third, even if it is a productive out.  Relievers need to come in and challenge the hitters.  If they cannot succeed, then it is up to the baseball execs to find relievers who will.

Baseball has always been a team game.   It is time the 2023 LA Dodgers did.

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Jeff

All good points, Jeff. Perhaps the AF corporate approach has run its course? Has there been any analysis of our colossal collapse last season after having a record. season? No one saw that coming. And, no one saw this season’s collapse coming. I know a very good fortune teller with a small shop on Sunset Blvd. Perhaps the Dodgers could consult with her?

Jeff

One other comment I have relating to your query about this being a team or collection of players. As a GS Warrior fan, one of the biggest beefs the fans have is the inability to develop and connect the younger guys to the core of the team. They complain that the coach has his system and if a player doesn’t fit into it, they are not going to get playing time.

The Dodgers have so many new players that I ask myself how they can call themselves a team? They can’t. Sometimes it takes years to gel and weed out those that don’t fit. The Warriors, otoh, are playing a core that has the best track record in the NBA. They are getting older, though, injured more, and are making so much f___ money, they can’t bring in new help because of the new CBA rules and a luxury tax that is exorbitant and paralyzing. The Warriors are definitely a team but for how much longer? Take a couple of those core guys out, and they will lose their identity.

So, losing a guy like JT, will definitely have an effect even though we have a much better player like Freddie on board. Maybe these are considered intangibles but can we load up on intangibles? Is it luck? What does chemistry really mean? We all know it when we see it working but can you point to anything tangible named chemistry? 9 guys on the field. What connects them to each other?

Oldbear48

I do not think they are a cohesive unit yet. I think that although JT was a huge clubhouse presence, at his age he was slowing down considerably. He is mostly playing first base for the Sox, and DHing. He could not do that in LA and they were not going to give him a two-year deal. Outside of the rookies still struggling to make their way, the offense has been ok. The pitching is abysmal. To that point, AF said they would be targeting pitching at the deadline. Makes total sense to me.

Dionysus

We’re fine. Winning 100+ games has meant jack shit in the past.

Oldbear48

Got that right.

Claude Osteen

Jeff,
very well said. I have read same opinion blog you are alluding to and agree with you though not sure if JT would have been good signing

Marcus

I like your formula for success modeled in your last paragraph. Problem is I don’t think our hitters are programed to move runners over and take the right approach with 0 or 1 out and a man at 2nd or 3rd. The Team hitting stats can be misleading. I’m sure there are some deep dive stats for this, but to my eye the Dodgers have been considerably below average situational hitters for several years and it really comes to the fore in close games and in the post season. I think it’s time to re-evaluate the hitting coaches and the overall philosophy of hitting the team uses, especially with some of the rule changes implemented this year. Dodgers pitching has shielded the team from this flawed approach in previous regular seasons, but that looks like it has come to an end at least for this year. Too many Ks in situations that call for bat to ball fundamentals.

Singing the Blue

I inadvertently posted this to the previous article so am re-posting here.

The Athletic surveyed 96 players and asked them who they thought Ohtani would sign with.
Results:
Dodgers – 57%
Angels – 11%
Padres – 7%
Mets – 7%
Yankees – 6%
No other team had even 6%

Unless they asked Ohtani’s best friend on the Angels, this survey probably isn’t any more accurate than if Jeff ran a survey here and asked us.

I’m sure that the Dodgers were picked because they appear to have cleared payroll space this year to make a run at him and they have money, but there are so many other factors involved, including where he wants to play and live. If I were betting and had a choice between the Dodgers and the field, I’d definitely take the field.

Suddenly the Dodgers aren’t looking like the winners they have been for the past 10 years. Will that make a difference? He may want to play on a team with a Japanese player on it. The Padres, Cubs and Red Sox all have Japanese players who will be around for awhile. Most people seem to think he prefers the West Coast. But does he?

The one thing I do believe is that he won’t necessarily go to the team who offers the highest $. I just don’t think money is that important to him so other factors may be more important. Teammates, location, manager will all factor in.
Does Doc speak any Japanese?

OhioDodger

I think the Giants will be big players in the Ohtani sweepstakes.
I hope the Dodgers pass. I could live with the AAV Ohtani will receive, however, I would not be OK with the amount of years he is going to want. 5 or 6 years tops for me.

Last edited 10 months ago by OhioDodger
Bluto

As posted elsewhere, that poll (while in no way fair accompli) is was more valuable than one held on this site.

lots of smoke behind Otani to the Dodgers, gosh I hope there’s fire.

OhioDodger

Awesome post Jeff D. I know right now, for me, they are not a fun team to watch. They are just a gaggle of players AF cobbled together. Too much striking out and failure to score with RISP. Relievers coming in and nibbling to get behind in the count then throwing meatballs. You said it when you stated, “Quit swinging for the fences with a runner on 3rd and less than two outs and popping up or striking out (especially looking).”  They are way to dependent on the HR. Need more contact and small ball mixed in. Get’em on, get’em over, get’em in.
Right now they will be lucky to make the playoffs and if they do, I would not bet a nickel on them to get very far. I will always root for them and I hope they can come together as a team and play better. Getting some pitchers healthy can’t hurt.

At least my second favorite team is fun to watch. The Cincinnati Reds.

Last edited 10 months ago by OhioDodger
Badger

Much of the team cobbled together is on the IL.

This offense scores runs. Does it really matter how they do it?

I don’t see how this pitching can be fixed immediately by management. Maybe an outside move or two in July can help some, but these relievers who usta was good need to find it again. If they expect their current starters to still be pitching in September they need to accept the reality they need a 4 inning bullpen every day. Gonsolin, Kershaw, maybe Urias and 4 rookie starters cannot be expected to throw 100 pitches and go 6 the rest of the year. This is just how it is.

I’ll also take the field on Ohtani.

Fangraphs and Friedman still like us. I do too.

Last edited 10 months ago by Badger
Bumsrap

What kind of message might management send to players?

Fire Roberts?
Trade Muncy?
Other?

OhioDodger

I could live with both of those Bum. Trade Urias at the deadline for some good prospects.

Badger

The message being sent by management is “we believe in you guys”.

Nobody is getting fired and Muncy isn’t getting traded. I believe there has to be a veteran inning eating starter and possibly a reliever added at the deadline.

We have players who are scheduled to return, some soon some later. If we can keep scoring, we will win more than we lose.

Singing the Blue

I know where you live, Fred, and I’m letting Max know where to find you.
Better look over your shoulder since he’s on the IL and doesn’t have to be with the team.
I’d hire some protection if I were you.
He knows you have a vendetta against him and he’ll probably strike first.
I can just hear him now, “Go get Fred out of the bay”.

Bumsrap

Muncy is hitting .191. He can’t find the ball much less find me.

I don’t want to fire Roberts. I mentioned it because the Manager is usually the one fired when ownership wants to leave a message.

I don’t want to trade Muncy unless he were to be packaged with a younger controllable player to get a young controllable player that would better fill a void in the Dodger system. Or, swap Muncy for Torres.

I like Outman’s swing. Vargas has a good swing. Muncy and Taylor only have one swing regardless of pitch location or situation. That’s why I would rather have someone else playing on the Dodgers other than Muncy and Taylor.

Nastrini, Frasso, Ryan, Grove, Stone could either be trade pieces or part of the Dodger bullpen. When will we know?

ESPN did a story on Zion Williamson and the Pelicans. Zion was thrown into the league and team as a 19 year old without any veteran guidance. He suffered from that. Vargas, Outman, Miller, Grove, Sheehan, Busch have been surrounded by a veteran presence who are great role models. The Dodgers are doing a great job with how they are adding rookies onto the team.

The Dodgers are who they are because of Bauer. But maybe Bauer prevented them from making a new mistake such as signing the likes of Scherzer, deGrom, Trea, etc.

The Dodgers probably have the pieces and the whole will be greater than the pieces when those pieces are on the bus and in the right seats.

SS Betts
1B Freeman
C Smith
LF Peralta
DH Martinez
CF Outman
2B Vargas
3B Busch
RF Heyward

Taylor, Muncy, Barnes, Rojas

Miller, Sheehan, Gonsolin, Kershaw, Urias

Hudson, Phillips, Perguson, Nastrini, Frasso, Ryan, Grove, Stone/Miller

Bluto

Friedman extensively (relatively) quoted in todays theAthletic ($$$$) article.

“I get that while mired in this funk, nothing looks very good. And I share that sentiment,” Friedman told The Athletic

The struggles, the Dodgers have publicly and privately said, have been a result of an accumulation of different reasons.

Badger

Then right after that he said “But I believe this team is capable of way more, and I believe that will be proven out by us playing better, more consistent baseball as we look ahead. … I think it’s an imperfect storm of some bad luck and us not playing very well.”

Oldbear48

I can just see Tommy now, taking a pitcher out after an abysmal performance and making the guy stand on the mound and him dropping F-bombs the entire time. One of the all-time great videos is of Lasorda just blasting Doug Rau when he comes to take him out of a game. It was classic.

Singing the Blue

So who is out there that could “Gibson” the team?
I always think it should be a position player rather than a pitcher, but on the pitching side Lance Lynn has some real attitude.

We seem to have this conversation every year. The team that AF has put together has partially been put there to limit dissonance. Mookie, Freddie, Will Smith have very low key personalities. They get along with everyone but they don’t kick ass, and that is needed some times.

Max has some attitude but I don’t think that other players look to him as a leader.
Peralta is very upbeat but not a team leader.
JHey is the team sage, very wise, and players probably listen to what he says, but he isn’t playing well enough to get in a player’s face.
JDM is a great teacher but too low key to be a “Gibson”.

This team needs a Bryce Harper personality.
How about Muncy for Harper, Bums? Yeah, we could throw in CT3 if we have to.

Bumsrap

Blue offered this trade: “How about Muncy for Harper, we could throw in CT3 if we have to.”

Blue, it takes two teams to make a trade. While the Dodgers would be more than willing to take on Harper’s salary, especially while jettisoning Muncy’s and Taylor’s salary, the Phillies would never do that trade. You are not being realistic.

Last edited 10 months ago by Bumsrap
Singing the Blue

Fred, I assume your reply to me was made tongue in cheek, or do I have to hoist the Sarcasm Flag when I post something like that.

Bumsrap

😀

Badger

You guys continue to crack me up.

Bumsrap

Half the time that’s our goal. Blue did set himself up when he was needled me.

Bumsrap

Who spearheaded the offense in April? A rookie, Outman.

Reds are hot. Who is spearheading the win streak? A rookie, Elly De La Cruz with help from young talent like T.J. Friedl and Matt McClain.

Good hitting and pitching is contagious. Winning is contagious. Losing is contagious.

Gibson didn’t last long as a Manager.

I do not believe an in-your-face player or manager is good for a team for either a short term or long term but the latter suffers from small sample size–they get fired.

Badger

I don’t think an in-your-face personality is needed with this group. I can see some of these guys saying “get out of my face with that sh*t” to someone who suddenly tried it.

This might go on for a while longer but I don’t believe it will last deep into summer. I still believe the Padres will be a better club than Arizona, but I’m prepared to be wrong about that.

Sam Oyed

A little surprised that Jackson was DFA. Looks like the Dodgers are moving AA assets to AAA.

Last edited 10 months ago by Sam Oyed
Bluto

Didn’t see it, glad to read it

This 40 crunch is tough

Last edited 10 months ago by Bluto
Scott Andes

This is such a great article Jeff. and so accurate. He wants to rub everyone’s noses in his massive inflated ego. He needs a constant flagulation if posters to soothe that ego. He wants everyone to know he was right. That way us peons who know so little about baseball compared to him and his idol Andrew Friedman can all look like fools. How silly of us to question the mighty Timmons and the mighty Friedman. What were any of us thinking? He will be back with vengeance because he will conquer not only everyone’s blogs, but your posts, thoughts and opinions. They all belong to him.

Let me tell you, I’ve been Dodger writing for almost 15 years now and being able to analyze, second guess and point out Improvements makes it fun. If this were just one big circle jerk then there would be no point in any of it. Documenting the struggles makes it worth it. And the goal is always to win multiple championships.

Btw nobody is talking about Luke Raley outside of Tampa dingbat.

Last edited 10 months ago by Scott Andes
Bluto

Um…..

What?

Oldbear48

MT.

Scott Andes

Read Jeff’s article Bluto.

Oldbear48

Way to go Kersh. M. Busch with a bad hop single and Smith comes through again.

OhioDodger

Willy, Clayton, and the Busch.

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