I did not have anything specific to write about, but I have been reading a lot of negative comments about Dodgers players and management throughout the blogosphere. I consider myself a glass half full person (probably ¾ full). There isn’t anything about Spring Training to diminish my belief that the Dodgers are the best team in MLB. Of course that is just an opinion, not based on anything substantial or significant. Simply an opinion. And if you feel as if you need to criticize me because I am naïve about the Dodgers, have at it.
We haven’t even started the season, and fans are already criticizing Doc, AF, JDM, Trayce Thompson, Jason Heyward, Max Muncy, Austin Barnes, David Peralta, Shelby Miller…Noah Syndergaard has been nearly unhittable all Spring and yet fans are complaining because he isn’t hitting 100MPH on the radar.
Miguel Vargas has been playing a fantastic 2B and seems to work very well with Miguel Rojas, and yet there are those who think he should have stayed at 3B. Why? Because that is where he has always played.
Bill Russell came to the Dodgers as a 20-year-old outfielder in 1969, and his first two MLB seasons were spent in the outfield because a guy named Maury Wills was playing SS. During the 1970–71 offseason, Russell was converted to a second baseman, and the following year he went to shortstop.
Davey Lopes was a speedy OF when drafted by the Dodgers. Converted to 2B.
Steve Garvey, Pedro Guerrero, Nick Castellanos all were 3B before they weren’t. Garvey to 1B and the other two to RF.
José Ramirez from 2B/SS to 3B.
Alex Bregman went from SS to 3B.
Players change positions all the time. Most of the time they work out.
Most publication talent evaluators believed that Vargas was a fringy ML 3B at best. Apparently so did the Dodgers. He is a bat first player, but one who wants to be great and works extremely hard to get there. He worked with Freddie and Dino last year on short hops every day. He worked with Chris Woodward early this winter and then Miguel Rojas on his defense. He drove 5 hours a day to hit with JDM.
What was Vargas’s problem at 3B? His reaction was considered a bit slow, and the vast majority of his errors were because of his throws. He was always considered good making plays with the glove. By moving to 2B he gained more reaction time, and a much shorter throw. Thus far in ST he has been very good at the keystone. I see no reason to doubt the change. BTW, he is 7-17, with 3 doubles and 1 HR, 4 BB and 4K since he started to swing. He is having a good spring offensively and defensively. I am going to be a homer and give him the NL ROY over Corbin Carroll.
Now for those who disagree, that is your opinion, and it differs from my opinion. Apparently it also differs from the Dodgers opinion.
There were those who believe the Dodgers blew it by not signing one of the elite SS. They made offers, they were just not accepted. Free agents are just that, free to make their own decision. The Dodgers believed they had the solution, Gavin Lux. That was not well received by the masses. Most did not believe he could be a regular everyday ML SS. Even Howard Cole would take to his twitter every day and announce that Gavin Lux WOULD NEVET BE THE LAD SS. Actually Cole did not like Lux even at 2B. Was it that the Dodgers actually believed Lux as the SS or was it perhaps a way of not committing huge dollars over 10 years, and to get below the CBT threshold? I doubt that we will ever know the reality, but there are those whose opinions were that Gavin was a ML SS and there were those who did not. For me, I thought that Lux was a bonafide All Star at 2B, but not at SS. But once the decision was made, I was on board. Me a homer? Sure!! But if Miguel Vargas should stay at 3B because that is where he has played, then why not give the same benefit of the doubt to Gavin Lux who was always a SS?
Some believe that the Dodgers made a mistake by trading Jacob Amaya to Miami for Miguel Rojas. I did not, as I believed then and now, that Rojas was a 2023 improvement. Maybe Amaya can be a Miami SS, but his ceiling for a contender is considered as a utility player. Apparently so does Miami, as they have Joey Wendle as their starting SS, with Jose Iglesias and Garrett Hampson as the backups. Jon Berti is their utility player.
To respond to Badger, yes I do believe JDM is going to be a big help in the middle of the lineup for the Dodgers.
JDM has been criticized for his slow start, and that he has only gone deep on Hayden Wesneski, who is not considered a front line pitcher. Wesneski is a ML pitcher who will be in the Cubs rotation. Don’t tell the Dodger hitters he is not a front line pitcher. He did not do too badly against LAD this Spring. In his first 7.0 innings against the LAD lineup, he allowed one hit and one walk. And it was JDM that finally got to him in his 8th IP against LAD. Agreed he is not Marcus Stroman, the Cubs #1.
I know a comment was made that professionals should come into camp in shape already. But shouldn’t professionals be given the opportunity to get ready at their own pace. That seems to be what JDM is doing. As he mentioned the other game, he is looking to just get barrels right now. Outside of the excuse me check swing ground ball to short, he did barrel up two fly outs on Sunday. He says he will be ready by March 30. I choose to believe him. Others do not.
Badger seems to like Max Muncy (as do I). I do not discredit his HR against Cleveland’s RHRP James Karinchak. It is Max’s one and only HR this Spring. Is Karinchak a front line pitcher? Max has had a good Spring thus far, and I do expect it to continue. Bums is not a fan of Muncy. Different opinions.
David Peralta gets a lot of criticism. While I am indifferent to Peralta, . I always thought he was a menace to the Dodgers, so I am glad he will not be able to do so again this year. I do not think he is going to be an All Star for LAD. He is going to be a platoon LF, with either Thompson and/or Chris Taylor.
I think I understand the displeasure toward LHH Peralta and LHH Jason Heyward. This year’s favorite player seems to be LHH James Outman, and Peralta and Heyward might be blocking Outman from making the roster. Trayce Thompson and Chris Taylor are RHH platoon and utility players. They are not blocking Outman. If the Dodgers were convinced that James Outman was ready, would they have signed Heyward, Peralta, Bradley Zimmer, or Steven Duggar, all LHH bats? Sometimes you have to read between the lines.
Outman has been given every opportunity to make the roster. Since his double against Cincinnati on March 12, James has had 11 AB in four games. He is 0-11 with 2 BB and 6 K. He is going to continue to get opportunities, but if there is no clear separation the Dodgers are always going to go with the veterans, especially in platoon roles. They would rather have Outman playing every day at OKC. There is no doubt in my mind that Outman will be on the roster at the end of the year, and it is possible that neither Heyward or Thompson will be.
Some fans prefer Ryan Pepiot as Tony Gonsolin’s replacement, while others prefer Michael Grove.
Of course, there have been wide spread opinions on the WBC. Interesting that the players love the WBC and a large number of fans dislike it, for varied reasons.
I was really hoping that Jimmy Nelson would be a big part of the Dodgers bullpen this year, but he seems to be pitching himself off the LAD roster. It is hard to support 11 walks and 0 strikeouts in 2.1 IP over 4 games. I do hope that he goes on the IL and works out his mechanics at extended ST and OKC. The last time he pitched in a ML game was July 30, 2021. He does not look ready for the 2023 season.
OTOH, Gavin Stone looks ready. I would say that he could make the roster as a late inning reliever right now. But he is too valuable to limit him as a reliever, so he will be going to OKC to start. But I would not be surprised if Gavin Stone is back with the Dodgers as a reliever at the end of the year, or maybe in the rotation. His composure is the best I have seen from any of the young pitchers. Nothing seems to rattle him.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) March 19, 2023
BTW, should my excitement for Gavin Stone’s play on Sunday be quelled because he did not face front line batters? Nah. 8 strikeouts in 3 innings is impressive at any level.
There is a certainly a disparity of opinions on each of the players. It is enjoyable to banter back and forth on the players, as long as it is with respect, and it has been, at least on this site. None of us hold the same feeling for every player/manager/coach/front office management. I just choose not to get overly critical of anyone in ST. But everyone should feel free to give their own opinions.