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Some Thoughts

Here is a hypothetical.  Tyler Anderson pitches to soft contact.  He is a ground ball pitcher.  How excited do you think TA would be with an infield of Max Muncy at 2B, Gavin Lux at SS, and Miguel Vargas at 3B?  Or Michael Busch at 2B, Gavin Lux at SS and Max Muncy at 3B?  That is not a very good defensive infield, and unless the Dodgers looks for a Justin Verlander or Jacob deGrom as pitchers with huge strikeout capabilities, they are going to have a tough time enticing a soft contact/ground ball pitcher to sign with LAD.  The next best free agent strikeout rate pitcher is Andrew Heaney.  Each of the remaining free agent pitchers pitched to about an average strikeout rate.

Cody Bellinger started the overwhelming number of games in CF for the Dodgers in 2022 (135 of 162).  His batting line was .210/.265/.389/.654; 1.2 bWAR, 1.7 fWAR, and 78 OPS+  He struck out 27.3% of his PA and walked 6.9%. This was certainly far superior to his 2021 season.  While he struck out more often and walked less in 2022, it was still an overall improvement.

Below is a snapshot of Belli’s 2022 Statcast metrics:

 

 

Defensively, Belli did not have a bad season, but he was certainly nowhere close to being a GG CF.

  • FanGraphs Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) = 0
  • FanGraphs UZR = 0
  • Statcast Outs Above Average (OAA) = 6
  • OAA In = -1
  • OAA in LF/CF gap = 3
  • OAA in RF/CF gap = 2
  • OAA back = 1

In Belli’s 6 years of MLB he had a total DRS of 34.  18 came in 2019 AS A RF.  In Belli’s 6 years of MLB he had a 11.8 UZR, 10.3 came in 2019 AS A RF.  In Belli’s 6 years of MLB, his total OAA was 173.8, but it was a total of 20.8 over the last three years.

Running metrics have shown that Belli has been regressing over the last few years.

See below snapshot:

I know that it is hard to turn your back on a former MVP and someone who is entering his 27 year old season.  The Dodgers can certainly afford to absorb Belli’s projected arbitration contract.  But should they?  It is projected to be approximately $18MM.  Can the Dodgers utilize that $18MM elsewhere and find an acceptable replacement in CF.  This is where it becomes tricky?

Internal options:  James Outman (LHH), Trayce Thompson (RHH), and Chris Taylor (RHH) are the most obvious internal options.

Free Agents – Kevin Kiermaier LHH CF.  He is a 3X CF GG and a 1X Platinum Glove winner.  His running Statcast numbers are better than Belli’s.  His 2022 OPS was just about the same as Belli’s, but had a superior OPS+ of 89.  If the decision is one of Kiermaier and Belli, it might not be as clear cut as some would want us to believe.

 

These are the other FA CF:

Greg Allen (30)
Albert Almora (29)
Jackie Bradley Jr. (33)
Lorenzo Cain (37)
Jonathan Davis (31)
Adam Duvall (34)
Michael Hermosillo (28)
Odubel Herrera (31)
Travis Jankowski (32)
Aaron Judge (31)
Jake Marisnick (32)
Tyler Naquin (32)
Brandon Nimmo (30)
Brett Phillips (29)
Kevin Pillar (34)
A.J. Pollock (35)
Magneuris Sierra (27)

 

Aaron Judge is more of a RF.  Any list that includes JBJ, Duvall, Jankowski, Marisnick, Pillar, Phillips, and Sierra as legit ML CF options is not a serious list.

Brandon Nimmo is the only game changing consideration at CF, but not at 5 years and $110MM (MLBTR).

However, the decision cannot be made in a vacuum.  If the Dodgers do sign Kiermaier or sign/trade for any other FA CF, that would block James Outman who could in fact assume the regular CF position. Is he the future?

Trade candidates are probably even less likely.  Many of us have previously positively discussed Pittsburgh’s Bryan Reynolds as a likely target.  That is generally only in the dreams of LAD fans, as Pittsburgh has steadfastly denied any desire to trade Reynolds.  Now it is being reported that Reynolds CF defensive metrics are declining and he is perhaps a better option as a corner OF.  Regardless it is his bat that generates the interest, and Pittsburgh is not taking calls on him.  Impossible?  No, but unlikely.

One other ML CF that AF/BG might consider is Baltimore’s Cedric Mullins.

Mike Trout, George Springer, Byron Buxton, Michael Harris?  Less likely than Reynolds.

One other consideration is that the bellicose Scott Boras is Belli’s agent.

This will not be an easy decision for AF/BG to make.  And there will be a lot to consider.

I honestly have no idea as to what the Dodgers will decide.  We have no idea if the Dodgers actually do plan on resetting the CBT.  We have no idea what the Trevor Bauer arbitration will be or when it is coming down.  Other players that the Dodgers are considering have to be included in the discussion as an overall payroll budget is not known.

Speaking of Scott Boras, he left the GM meeting last week by letting everyone know that there will not be any conflict with LAD fans if Carlos Correa signs with them.

Carlos Correa’s agent Scott Boras doesn’t think previous bad blood between the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers will prevent his client from signing with the National League West champions this offseason.

“I don’t think anybody cares about what happened years ago and has been remedied,” Boras said, according to the Orange County Register’s Bill Plunkett. “With their owners, they have to win, and it’s not easy to win. You can’t let anything get in the way.”

Who here is shocked that Boras would say whatever is necessary to get the other 29 teams to believe the Dodgers will in fact be pursuing Correa.  And they may very well be interested, but this is Scott Boras pushing the envelope for his client.  Shockingly he is doing the same as same with Cody Bellinger.

 

 

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Dave

If we have Outman, Thompspn and Taylor to play CF the discussion should switch to getting a good bat to play left field.That’s where I think we can upgrade, plus at SS. Having 2 .275 hitters instead of 1 .300 hitter makes a better lineup, especially wo Belli.
Mookie, new lf, Freeman, Smith,Turner/Muncy, new SS, Vargas, Lux,CF
More consistency thru the lineup, less K’s, less $!

Saxfan3

That’s how I see the CF dilemma as well. Maybe none of them are Cody’s equal defensively, but Thompson and Taylor can play a competent CF. Outman unknown, but maybe he can duplicate what Bellinger provided in terms of potential slug and as an athlete. I think it’s a decent chance one of the three over-achieves and takes the position by year end. Very likely Taylor if his troubles this year were truly injury related and not aging.

If Vassegh is to be believed, then LF could be the return of Joc. Not sure Friedman would want to get lose the picks that would come with it, but could present a nice platoon option with Vargas. None of it is ideal, but I think it’s an improvement over last year with the LH power Joc would add.

Badger

Boras lives in his bubble that floats high above planet earth.

We led the league in runs scored and in ERA. What else is there to this game? Well, there’s doing it in October. How do we guarantee we play well then?

We don’t.

I’m indifferent about Bellinger. It seem like years we’ve been watching him get beat at the plate. He’s not willing to change so why pay him near $20 million for more of the same?

Hopefully Mookie, Freddie, Will, Gavin, and Muncy will hit, Urias, May, Gonsolin, and Kershaw will pitch and we can remain competitive. I’m left here thinking if we can’t beat a Wild Card team after leading all of baseball in scoring and pitching wtf difference does it make who plays shortstop?

Jeff Dominique

Badger, did you get your bran yet this AM?

Badger

Yep. Didn’t help. UCLA lost. Oregon lost. Rams are in trouble. Lakers look like sh*t. And the Dodgers are a 90’s-‘05 Braves re-run. Bran won’t help. Hey, I just call ‘em as I see ‘em.

I might suggest we look for players hungry to win their first ring.

Badger

I never was a LeBron fan. Lakers, yes, him, no. I’m a Pac12 guy. I was headed to UCLA but didn’t go, so I can easily root for whoever wins the conference. Every year the conference shoots itself in the foot. I can certainly cheer for USC but I doubt they make it to the playoffs. They need a considerably better defense.

Funny you should mention HOF because I thought of that too. It’s a good point, but for me it doesn’t change the comparison. We floundered this year with 3 HOFers on the roster. Maybe a 4th in Turner.

I still don’t see teams parting with young controllable players. It’s possible of course, but doubtful. You nailed the reason why I don’t see us doing it – huge overpay. We just don’t need to do that.

Last edited 23 days ago by Badger
Badger

Good point. Personally I believe the game changers will come through free agent signings.

Bumsrap

The Dodgers best chance for obtaining Byron Buxton was prior to the Twins extending him. That’s when I wanted to go after him and even then that idea was met with boos.

Steve Sax skipped AAA and went directly to the Dodgers from AA. Might Pages play in the AFL plus a strong showing in Spring Training give him a shot at CF? Stranger things have happened.

The women I know that follow the Dodgers or who are aware of the Dodger players because of their husbands like Outman. I like Outman. He already has a fanbase. Too bad Thompson doesn’t hit lefties. Was 2022 just one of those years. Justin Turner had one or two of those years where he hit righties better than lefties.

Let’s not forget that if Belli can’t play Gold Glove defense in CF he can play it at 1st base. The Yankees might want to add a lefty hitter next year. Could a two team, 6 player trade with the Yankees be in the future?

Speaking of wealthy owners, if deGrom signs with Texas or SF, might the Mets be interested in Bauer?

I don’t think the Dodgers will lose much defense with Lux at SS over Trea. I’m more worried about 3rd base and 2nd base. One of the reasons the Giants fell so hard in 2022 after doing so well in 2021 was the drop in up-the-middle defense. All up-the-middle defenses through the league will drop with the elimination of the extreme shifts.



Singing the Blue

Come on Fred. Don’t keep us in suspense. Two team, 6 player trade with the Yanks. Who are the other four besides Belli and Gleyber?

Bumsrap

Well, the Yanks have two shortstop prospects and only one of them can be used at a time. The Dodgers won’t get their best one but is their second best better than Amaya?

Singing the Blue

Seems like the Yanks are collecting shortstops the way we collect catchers. Maybe we could swap them a catcher for a shortstop.

Singing the Blue

Totally agree on Lux. Put him at second, let him know he’s your every day second baseman and don’t mess around with him by moving him all over the place. He seems like the kind of guy who lets things get into his head. Let him concentrate on hitting and fielding his position at second base.

If finances or player choices mean we can’t get any of the big 4 shortstops on the market, I’m OK with signing Jose Iglesias, who had a very nice year last year. I think you were on the Iglesias band wagon as well Jeff, correct? I would think we could get him on a one year deal for around $6-8MM.

Badger

“Totally agree on Lux.”

Me too.

We can live with Amaya at short if we find 4 oWAR somewhere else. I’m also ok with Iglesias. But I got a feeling after Seager and Turner the Dodgers want to go with a big name at short. And yes Jefe, Iglesias with 4 syllables is a long name, but that’s not the same thing.

Last edited 23 days ago by Badger
Singing the Blue

Hey Badger, no fair taking my snarky replies before I can get to them.

Maybe we could get Jarrod Saltalammachia to come out of retirement.

Last edited 23 days ago by Singing the Blue
Oldbear48

I have no clue which way AF/BG are leaning and everything we think and say is guesswork. Cody is going to pick up points on his BA simply because the shift is no more. How much? That is anybody’s guess. As for Kiermaier, he is going to be 33 next year, has nothing near Bellinger’s power, and he is also injury prone, just like Buxton. He has played more than 150 games exactly once in his career. Yes, he is an elite defender. But I don’t think he is that great. Most of the others on that list are has been’s and never weres.

Badger

Wait a minute, if you combine my IQ with Bums IQ, you get a number that just has to be higher than AF’s

Armstrong-Crow, Haskell III I never heard of. James Woods is a terrific actor but probably too old to play center field.

Singing the Blue

The thought of having a defensive left side of the infield consisting of Chapman and Amaya is very appealing. The thought of having a third baseman who strikes out more than CT3 is not.

As they say, when you hit the ball, things can happen. I subscribe to that theory and I’m hoping the last 3 or 4 spots in the order will not look the same as they did last year, when the breeze of all those whiffs was enough to blow over the catcher and the ump.

Bumsrap

If the Dodgers were to wind up with Gleyber Torres I would hope it would be for 3rd base assuming he would do well there.

Badger

I don’t mind Ks as long as they OPS close to .900. An example of what I’m not talking about is Chris Taylor.

Singing the Blue

Chapman lifetime OPS = .797, last year .757.

Bumsrap

I still like Chapman. While he may strike out like Taylor, he has third base power and plays awesome defense. The Dodger hitting coaches will be able to reduce his K rate  😂 

Badger

I’m assuming you’re putting Vargas in left field.

I say sign Bogarrea and let Vargas play along side him for the next 5 years. Then sign Senga and tee it up.

Last edited 23 days ago by Badger

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