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The Bullpen: The Importance of A Strong One

When Andrew Freidman first took over the Dodgers, pitching was one of his main priorities. The Dodgers had lost Ryu to surgery, Beckett retired, and he traded Dan Haren to the Marlins in the Dee Gordon trade.

The bullpen had Jansen as it’s closer with Jamie Wright, Brandon League and J.P. Howell as his set up men. Brian Wilson, the exe Giant, was not re-signed. 14 other pitchers had made appearances out of the pen in 2014. Some would be used in trades, others simply released.

Only a few, Pedro Baez, Paco Rodriguez and Yimi Garcia spent more than 4 years with LA. Rodriguez would be part of a huge trade with the Braves in July of 2015, but would never pitch in the majors again.

Freidman’s approach was simple. He signed a ton of free agents. Among the starters he signed were the likes of Brett Anderson, Brandon McCarthy, Eric Bedard, Brandon Beachy. He purchased Mike Bolsinger and traded for Alex Wood midseason.

He signed relievers like Ryan Buchter, Sergio Santos, Ramon Troncoso, and he traded for Adam Liberatore, Joel Peralta and Juan Nicasio. He also got Chris Hatcher in the Gordon deal.

Jansen, Howell, Nicasio, Garcia, Baez and Hatcher did most of the heavy lifting. Jansen had 36 of the team’s 47 saves. Hatcher had 4 and was second on the team in that department. Peralta ended up with 3. No one else had more than 1.

They used 16 different pitchers to start games. McCarthy pitched four games, was 3-0 with an ERA above five and then went on the DL for the rest of the year. Kershaw, Greinke and Anderson made 30 plus starts, Bolsinger had 21. Carlos Frias made 17 and Wood started 12 after the trade.

They won the west with a 92-70 mark but bit the dust in five to the Mets. But you can’t blame the pen for the loss. All of the decisions on the Dodgers side were on the starting staff. Kershaw and Greinke were both 1-1, and Brett Anderson lost his only start, 13-7. Anderson gave up six of those runs and Wood four.

In 2016 that pen looked different. The main addition was Joe Blanton, and he had a very good year as Jansen’s set-up man. Kenley saved 47 that year.

Now 2024 is upon us, and the Dodger pen is going to look a little familiar, but also a little different. Three of the main pieces from last year are still with us: Phillips, Graterol, Vesia.

Daniel Hudson is on a minor league deal with hopes of coming back. Blake Treinen is also on the roster with hopes his arm troubles are behind him.

Victor Gonzalez was traded. Phil Bickford, Justin Bruihl, Shelby Miller, Tyson Miller and Taylor Scott are all gone. Ryan Brasier was just re-signed to a two-year contract.

Joe Kelly is also back, and the kid, Gus Varland, is again on the roster. Now many on this site, and others I have read, seem to believe the Dodgers need to trade for a closer. Their preference would probably be Devin Williams.

Some have mentioned Emmanuel Clase from Cleveland. There has even been talk and rumors about bringing back Jansen. I have to believe that Roberts is going to be using closer by committee. I can see Bazooka getting some shots at a save, and possibly Treinen if he is healthy.

Because some of the pitcher’s innings are going to be monitored a lot, the pen is going to have to do some heavy lifting most likely.

Pitchers rarely go six innings anymore, let alone nine. Figure in that Yamamoto, although only 25, has never pitched in the majors and is used to pitching every sixth day. Buehler’s innings are going to be carefully monitored.

Glasnow has never pitched more than the 120 innings he logged last season. Miller is only in his second year. Paxton has had injury issues. That leaves basically, the kids. Sheehan, Grove, Stone and Yarbrough.

May and Gonsolin will be placed on the IL as soon as spring training starts. They will do the same thing with Clayton Kershaw since it will be at least mid-season before he is anywhere close to being ready.

Stands to reason that the pen is going to have to pick up the slack. My guess is that the main long men out of the pen will be Grove and Yarbrough. Since they can only carry 13 pitchers, the competition for the pen is going to be intense.

Vesia, Yarbrough, and newly acquired Matt Gage are the only lefty relievers on the 40-man. Of course trades can alter the roster a lot.

For us fans, the fun is watching and seeing how the staff shapes up come opening day. Only this year, there are two of them. One in Korea, and the other in Los Angeles against St. Louis on March 28th.

However it shapes up, the bullpen this season is going to have to do some very heavy lifting.

 

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Dionysus

Hurt’s so good.

Singing the Blue

I see what you did there and, assuming you did it on purpose, I applaud the effort.

Duke Not Snider

Yes, the bullpen will be vital. I still like the notion of adding Devin Williams or Tanner Scott (if the price is right) but the roster right now seems solid to me.

While looking for something else, I stumbled upon a nugget in an LA Times story about how the bullpen went from, as the headline put it, “from disappointing to dominant” in ’23. (I assume most of us were surprised the bullpen’s poor performance early in the season.)
Enter Ryan Brasier, a 36-year-old veteran trying to revive his career with a new cutter.
He arrived at a time when, according to Evan Phillips, the bullpen was “looking for a voice. We needed to hold each other accountable a bit more, and understand that each role is valuable and each out is valuable, and to build off that each time you go out there.” The relievers’ collective struggles had even inspire young Brusdar Graterol to call a bullpen meeting.

From the article:
“The Dodgers were off that Monday. When they arrived at Angel Stadium on Tuesday with a 4.98 bullpen ERA, the second-worst mark in baseball ahead of only Oakland, a new face — and an improbable new voice — joined them in the visiting clubhouse.
Ryan Brasier didn’t fit the mold of bullpen savior. The 36-year-old right-hander went 1-0 with a 7.29 ERA in 20 games for the Boston Red Sox before being designated for assignment on May 15. He signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers on June 4 and pitched only twice for triple-A Oklahoma City before being recalled on June 20.
But Brasier could still run his fastball up to 98 mph, he had a new cut-fastball to neutralize left-handed hitters and a track record of postseason success, having set up Craig Kimbrel in Boston’s run to the 2018 World Series title.
The soft-spoken, unassuming native of Wichita Falls, Texas, also had an easygoing personality that his new teammates immediately gravitated toward and a backlog of stories from 17 professional baseball seasons to entertain them with.
“Oh man, Brase … I’ve never clicked with somebody as quickly as I have with him,” left-hander Alex Vesia said. “He came into the bullpen and we started chatting it up. Just his presence has been phenomenal. He’s a super cool guy, right? He gets along with everybody. I mean, he’s got some pretty awesome stories. And his stuff is even better.”

The Dodgers talk a lot about “clubhouse culture,” so “bullpen culture” must be a subset. When Chase Utley arrived, he quickly became a leader. Maybe AF just got lucky with Brasier, but he his value seems to transcend what he does on the mound.
I was hoping the Dodgers would bring Brasier back because he pitched so well in ’23. Never realized that he brought these qualities as well.

Singing the Blue

Great stuff, Duke. Thanks for putting it out here.

That makes it even stranger to see what we got Brasier to sign for vs what we paid Kelly who is usually injured for half the year. On the other hand, I guess you need to pay extra for a personality like Joe’s and a guy who can dance that well.

Quite the collection we have in the pen this year. I hope they can stay healthy. Looking forward to see if Treinen and Hudson can make it all the way back and I’m anxious to see if Feyereisen is as good as advertised.

Duke Not Snider

If Treinen is healthy and on his game, he’s a beast. But I think it’s a big if given his injury history and age.

Eric

“That makes it even stranger to see what we got Brasier to sign for vs what we paid Kelly who is usually injured for half the year.”

And can’t find the strike zone the other half of the year. lol 👍 

Last edited 18 days ago by Eric
Duke Not Snider

I wonder how the negotiations went.
“Joe, we’d like to offer you $8 million for one season.”
“Let me think for a bit…”
(And he thinks: “Holy crap! Eight million for me? Hell, yes. Where do I sign?”)

SCDodgerFan

We will not open in LA with St. Louis on 3-28.

Oldbear48

Oh yes, they do. They play two games considered regular season games in Korea against the Padres March 20 and 21. The first is considered a road game, and the second they are the home team. Which means, there will be only 80 home games in LA this year. After the return from Korea, they play the Angels three games from the 24th to the 26th. Then on March 28th, they open the home season with a four-game series against the Cardinals. If you do not believe me, go on the Dodger website and check the schedule. The game is scheduled to start at 1:10 PM. They play two exhibition games at Dodger Stadium against the Angels on the 24th and 25th.

Duke Not Snider

Kyle Hurt is another young pitcher who could play a key role. His debut last season was brief but impressive.

Cassidy

There will probably be a lot of “injuries” in the pen this year with opportunities for some young guns. And soon we shall see if Mr. Friedman agrees with Mr. Timmons about Mr. Lux.

Mark Timmons

Well, I hope I am wrong about Lux. I hope he plays SS like The Wizard of Oz! I believe in his bat.

I also hope I am wrong about James Outman’s ability to hit LHP with any authority.

I love the guy in the clubhouse, and he is an incredible human, but I have a nagging feeling about Jason Heyward flopping this year. I hope I am dead wrong about that.

The bullpen will be a strength. Tell me that any of these guys have ZERO chance of pitching in the Show this year:

Phillips
Graterol
Brasier
Kelly
Vesia
Treinen
Feyereisen
Hudson
Hurt
Yarbrough
Sheehan
Stone
Grove
Knack
Gage
May
Vanasco
Hernandez
Lamet
Crismatt
Fischer
Varland
Ryan
Kopp

Kopp may be the longest shot, but sometimes progress is not linear, and it leapfrogs levels. To my way of thinking, that is INCREDIBLE depth. MLB.com rated Phillips as the #4 closer in the NL, and Hudson and Treinen all have closing experience. Like Jeff said, Bazooka will also get his chances. He is not a strikeout pitcher, but his weak contact ground balls are killer.

I look for Michael Grove to shine in the pen this year and just remember that of those 24 pitchers named above. The Dodgers can only stash 7 or 8 on the roster at a time.

There will be injuries, and the Dodgers have the most depth to weather the storm!

BTW, we accepted an offer on our house – we have to move by March 11th. Holy Crap, Batman!

Mark Timmons

More details in The Athletic on the new Joint Venture Streaming Service… and it ain’t great!

https://theathletic.com/5256834/2024/02/07/espn-fox-warner-sports-streaming-service-marchand/?campaign=5888993&source=dailyemail&userId=147501

Last edited 19 days ago by Mark Timmons
porpoiseboy

It’s all a bunch of bull until they finally get to the point where they go à la carte. I don’t even want to pay for sports that I don’t watch.

Last edited 19 days ago by porpoiseboy
Duke Not Snider

Maybe Kopp isn’t a long shot. If Vesia falters and the Dodgers decide that a lefty is critical, Kopp could be next in line.
For that reason I also wouldn’t rule out Wrobleski, Ferris and Bruns, depending on their non-linear progress.

Jeff Dominique

I am a little with Badger on this one. It depends on the pitcher. Some relievers it does not matter if they are left or right hand hitters. I would prefer a lefty, but it is not the end of the world if the bullpen is without a lefty. Houston has done it with an all RHRP bullpen. Brasier’s cutter against LH hitters is more potent than LHRP against LHP. Graterol pitches to contact (soft contact). With Phillips’ slurve against the lefty bat, the batter can get bruised knuckles it would come so inside with a late break.

That being said, in the playoffs, I sure would like to see a tough LHRP come in to face Bryce Harper or Matt Olson with 2 outs and the game on the line. Or Devin Williams.

Jeff Dominique

Congratulations on selling your house. It was my client, right?

That is 7 pitchers not on the 40 man. I hope the Dodgers do not have that many injuries, but it is good to have that level of depth. No other team in MLB is close to that.

I do not see Fischer getting that chance this year. I would also be surprised if Elieser Hernandez gets a call. I think Ryan stays as a starter all year. I like Kopp, and I can see him having a much higher than zero shot at making his MLB debut this year. The Dodgers are not loaded up with LHP, and Kopp has that strikeout pitch the Dodgers love from their relievers. I hope he can harness that wildness this year. If he can, he will play a long time as a high leverage reliever.

However, both Hudson and Crismatt are very much in the picture. Depending on health, they could be first up.

Eric

“Kopp”

I’m high on him.  👍 

SandyAmoros

Nice job Duke and Bear it still comes down to Roberts and his ability to manage or mismanage the pen. imo

Cassidy

Sorry but It comes down to pitchers doing their job when called upon!

SandyAmoros

Sorry but there are reasons that pitchers are unable to do their jobs fatigue from overuse, injury, etc. take a look at last years playoffs do you think he didnt pull Kershaw in time maybe Lynn shouldnt still been in until 4 homeruns etc. imo Roberts does no do a great job with bullpen decisions! It is his job!

Oldbear48

Roberts actually handled the pen and the staff very well last year. I am not going to blame him for the teams three game embarrassing loss to the D-Backs. Yes, he should have pulled Clayton earlier. And leaving Lynn in to allow four homers was a mistake, but had the offense done what it did all year, they could have easily won games two and three.

Phil Jones

I agree Bear. I thought Doc had a great season piecing together the pitching with all of the injuries. The playoff selection of Lynn over Pepiot is still questioned as well as leaving him in to serve up 4 dingers. But we were down to 3 starting pitchers and couldn’t get to the bullpen. It was a team meltdown. We didn’t hit and didn’t pitch. Bad formula for playoff games. I thought Doc should have been Manager of the Year for winning 100 games with that group. His playoff moves are constantly in question. I question some as well but the bottom line is it was the players who pooped the bed.

Oldbear48

I totally agree. They would have been wise to start Pepiot. I believe he should have started game one.

Dionysus

Whatever they did was the wrong choice.

Mark Timmons

It would not have made any difference. They could not hit!

Oldbear48

True

Mark Timmons

100% Agree

Mark Timmons

Bull Poppy!

Jeff Dominique

There was no pitcher that was overused last year. Only 4 pitchers with > 100 IP led by Kershaw at 131.2. Two of the others were Urias and Gonsolin, neither were available for the playoffs

It is not Dave Roberts’ fault that Kershaw, Gonsolin, and May, were injured last year. It was not Dave Roberts’ fault that Julio Urias went full on Rambo on his partner and was suspended. It was not Roberts’ fault that the best starter they acquired at the trade deadline was auditioning for the full time HR derby pitcher job.

My guess is that it was not just Roberts who decided that Lynn should start Game 3 over Pepiot. I am betting that AF/BG, Mark Prior, Connor McGuiness, and Danny Lehman  were all involved in the decision.

Eric

“Kyle Hurt is another young pitcher who could play a key role. His debut last season was brief but impressive.”

 👍 

Last edited 18 days ago by Eric
Jeff Dominique

At some time today, the Dodgers could have 3 available spots on their 40 man. Gonsolin, May, and Frasso could be added to the 60 day IL, and Clayton Kershaw can join them once he passes his physical and his contract becomes official. Brasier will take one of those spots.

What that means? I have not a clue. But they could pursue Devin Williams or Tanner Scott. They could add a player with multiple options from the waiver wire (AF has a PhD in this practice). The Dodgers will get a week’s head start with this. Multiple players could hit the waivers the week before ST officially starts, and the Dodgers stashed their 60 day IL players creating room. Not saying they will. It is just that they can.

Phillips – 0 options
Brasier – 0 options
Kelly – 0 options
Treinen – 0 options
Yarbrough – 0 options
Graterol – 2 options
Vesia – 1 option
Feyereisen – 2 options

Grove – 2 options
Stone – 2 options
Knack – 3 options
Hurt 3 – options
Varland – 3 options
Vanasco – 1 option
Gage – 1 option

Sheehan – 2 – options
Miller – 3 options

Options are like cash to the Dodgers. Treinen is a low cost higher reward reliever, who is going to have to prove he is fully recovered and ready to pitch to make the roster. Options are not important for him. Either he is healthy or not. While not on the roster as of yet, the same is true for Hudson.

With 0 options, could Yarbrough find himself on the move as Caleb Ferguson? Trade for a reliever with multiple options?

We know Kelly is going to get injured at least once this season. So options are not important for him. 

The 2021, 2022, and 2nd half 2023 Vesia is not going to get optioned, but he is more safe than Yarbrough because he does have that option. 

It will be easier to stash Feyereisen at OKC to begin the year so he can work that rust off in AAA. He has the options available to do so. 

It will be fun to watch the machinations from AF/BG this year when it comes to relievers and their options.

Last edited 18 days ago by Jeff Dominique
Oldbear48

The Dodgers today signed infielder Chris Owings to a minor league contract. Owings is already in camp. He will most likely be sent to AAA OKC.

Eric

I like this 13. Starting with the starters in a 6 man rotation in no particular order.
Yamamoto
Glasnow
Miller
Sheehan
Paxton
Buehler eventually, until then Stone or Knack.

7 relievers.
Phillips
Treinen
Brasier
Hudson
Feyereisen
Graterol
Hurt

Singing the Blue

Those may very well be our seven best relievers but I think they’re going to want to have a long man in the bullpen so we’ll probably see Grove or Yarbrough in there and one of your guys out.

Between Treinen, Hudson and Feyereisen, I’m guessing at least one of them will start the year on the IL.

Last edited 18 days ago by Singing the Blue
Dionysus

Where is Kelly?

Jeff Dominique

On the IL 😎

Last edited 18 days ago by Jeff Dominique
Badger

The Dodgers are stacked with terrific arms.

Remember Antonio Osuna? What I remember about him was his career numbers against LH hitters was better than it was against RH hitters. He got everybody out. I want guys like him out there and I think the Dodgers have them. Screw LOOGY’s and while on the subject screw platoon players too. We only have one, Heyward. Let’s keep it that way. Grow hitters that can hit anybody.

Mark Timmons

Outman is another hitter who is a platoon player. He has the opportunity to change that, but like Joc, I doubt it!

Ozuna was a conundrum. His stuff did not match his results. Damn, his stuff was great!

Last edited 18 days ago by Mark Timmons
Badger

Outman has one year in the Majors and you pronounce him a platoon player? Give him at least another year.

Osuna had 3 straight great seasons with LA. He did wash out early (32). Might have been arm issues. His stuff was terrific.

Mark Timmons

I said he has the opportunity.

Ozuna had one great and two pretty good seasons in LA.

I agree his stuff was terrific – the results weren’t!

Duke Not Snider

What you wrote is, “Outman… is a platoon player.”
That is just factually incorrect. It’s just something that you wish for, against evidence to the contrary.
Outman didn’t sit much at all as a rookie, and the vast majority of his play was in CF. He played in 151 games, third most on the team after Freddie and Mookie. With Mookie shifting to 2B, Outman led the team in OF starts.
Roberts could have easily decided to platoon the rookie with Taylor or others (later Kike and Marisnick) but he stuck with Outman even when he was slumping.
That decision paid off.
Outman could now face the sophomore slump–but he’s been trending in the right direction ever since the Dodgers drafted and signed him. There is little reason for pessimism.

Eric

Outman has one year in the Majors and you pronounce him a platoon player? Give him at least another year.”

 👍 

Duke Not Snider

Just remember that, before Teoscar was signed, Mark proposed a lineup that platooned Outman while granting his boy Miguelito a full-time job in LF.
Gee, I hope Mark doesn’t get too offended that I suggest he plays favorites…

Outman had a .790 OPS and played a solid CF as a rookie, finishing third in ROY voting–yet Mark sees the glass as half-empty.
The data shows that Outman was a slugger against righties, and a singles hitter against southpaws. He put up his numbers while overcoming a prolonged midseason slump. In the end he produced an OBP of about .350 against both righties and lefties–even though he struck out a lot.
Rather than foolishly sitting Outman, Roberts should bat him 6th or 7th against righties and 8th or 9th against lefties. How many times will Outman and Lux get driven in by Mookie and Freddie?
I recently looked at a Braves lineup and found myself thinking that, from 1-9, it is probably more potent in terms of individual talent. But which lineup has better synergy? If the bottom of the Dodgers’ lineup just get on base, the Braves may not so much of an edge.

Duke Not Snider

While looking up Lux’s 2022 stats, I noticed something striking:
In 2023, Outman had a higher OBP (.353) than these players on the ’22 squad:
–Mookie .340
–Trea .343
–JT .350
–Smith .343
–Max .329
–Lux .346
–CT3 .304
–Belli .265 (one reason he didn’t get the QO)

So the rookie’s OBP was not dramatically higher than some of these guys–but still higher than some established stars. (Trea followed his season by signing a $300-plus contract.) The only ’22 regular with a higher OBP was Freddie at .407.

Also impressive: Mookie raised his OBP by 68 points from ’22 to ’23. That’s pretty amazing, and I can only conclude that Mookie buckled down because Mark said he wasn’t playing like a superstar. Good job, Mark!

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s reasonable to expect some regression from Mookie and Freddie, if only because they set the bar so high in ’23. Shohei was pretty great too–but his “counting stats” could soar if he avoids injury.

Anyway, if Outman and Lux repeat their most recent OBPs while batting at the bottom of the Dodgers lineup, the Dodgers offense in ’24 should outscore the excellent ’23 version.

Eric

I want guys like him out there and I think the Dodgers have them. Screw LOOGY’s and while on the subject screw platoon players too. We only have one, Heyward. Let’s keep it that way.”

Exactly. 👍 

Eric

On the IL”

lol  👍 

Last edited 18 days ago by Eric
Bumsrap

Smoking ribs?

Duke Not Snider

To start out, perhaps Buhler could go on a short IL and either Yarbrough, Stone or Grove can take his spot.
Perhaps one of those guys could be packaged in a deal for Devin Williams to serve as a true closer. The Brewers essentially got three quality prospects for one season of Burnes and it might take three to get two seasons of Williams.

One thing is clear: the Dodgers have plenty of pitching depth, and with Shohei expected in the rotation next season–as well as the prospect of Kershaw, May and Gonsolin all returning from injury–there will be fewer spots open in the future.
And at what point AF will want to make room for Roki Sasaki?

Last edited 18 days ago by Duke Not Snider
Oldbear48

Sasaki was seen wearing a Padres jersey given to him by Darvish the other day. I would say him signing with LA is not a lock.

Duke Not Snider

Definitely not a lock at all, but I wouldn’t read much into Padres gear.
Sasaki will get paid.
I think it will come down to whether or not he wants to play with Ohtani and Yamamoto. He might love the idea, but he might not want to be in their shadow.
He might want to be The Man in San Franciso or Seattle or New York or…???

dodgerpatch

No lefty relievers?

Eric

“No lefty relievers?”

Against LHB.
Graterol and J.P. Feyereisen turned it around and were excelent the last year they pitched. Since coming to the Dodgers Brasier has been good, Treinen, Hudson and Phillips have been excelent. Hurt is an unknown, but if you don’t give any homegrown relievers a shot this year then when?

Last edited 17 days ago by Eric
Badger

Other than K/9, an important stat for a closer, Graterol’s numbers, 1.20 ERA and a 0.965 WHIP, are similar to Williams. He even threw more innings. We also have Phillips, Brasier and a few others that could close. Do we really need Williams? Yeah, I would like to have him but if he is for sale it’s gonna cost.

As for wins I think it’s possible the Dodgers could secure home field this year. The Braves project more, 97-92 on fangraphs. I think those numbers are conservative. I think they both win 100+ and I will say now the Dodgers win home field, though I wouldn’t put money on it.

Last edited 18 days ago by Badger
Mark Timmons

I picked the Dodgers to win 97 last year, but if I knew the extent of the pitching injuries, I would not have done that. However, they went ahead and won 100.
They are good for that again… UNLESS injuries and “off years” impact that.

Insofar as Vargas and Outman go, I have not changed my opinion, and why would I? Two broken fingers are no joke, but certain commenters like to use the fact that due to two broken fingers, Vargas’ season was derailed, and that means he’s no good. It’s almost like they have never watched baseball.

I guess we will find out someday. I find Vargas’ hit tool to be unique. We shall see. My opinion of Vargas and Outman was based on a few years of watching them. Last year, Vargas had broken fingers, so we found out that he could not hit well with that. Who knew? Ha!

Outman hit RHP very well. I always said that he was a 4th or 5th outfielder, which means that he was/is a platoon player. I hope I am wrong, but nothing I saw last year dissuades me from that opinion. He OPS’ed .857 against RHP while OPS’ing .664 against LHP. That is weak – very weak. If you have a player who can play CF and OPS close to .800, Outman has to sit if he can’t do better.

The odds of him doing better are not good. His BAbip against LHP was .390 last year. As skilled as Freddie Freeman is, his BAbip against LHP was .372! Translation: Outman was lucky last year. Very lucky! His BAbip against RHP was .340 – I would take the under this season. I stand by what I said. Now, watch and see.

Cassidy

Mark, would you put together a package for Williams and Adames including Lux?

dodgerpatch

Do you know who you’re talking to? He’d do that in a New York minute.

Mark’s been trying to trade Lux for years.

Outman needs to be platooned. Lux can’t play SS. Vargas is a really special hitter. … not to belabor a point, but these points have been belabored to death. The poor horse is just a wet spot on the ground.

Only time will give us the answers.

Anyways, …. do the Dodgers need another relief pitcher? Jeff mentioned Tanner Scott. Looked him up on FG.

He’s a stud. Only has one more year of control. In arb year so due a raise the cheap Marlins might not want to pay. And importantly, a LEFTY. I think that is one area of need for the Dodgers. I don’t entirely trust Vesia.

Last edited 17 days ago by dodgerpatch
Duke Not Snider

One of Mark’s great brainstorms was to fix the SS and CF problems (as he saw them) by moving Lux to CF and making Outman the 4th outfielder.
And the Dodgers could mash that idea with his plan to give Miguelito the full-time opportunity in LF.
Vargas-in-LF wasn’t a terrible idea but AF missed the memo and signed Teoscar.

As for the bullpen, I like both Tanner Scott and Devin Williams–but I like Williams more.
Brasier’s effectiveness against lefthanded hitters mitigates the need for a third lefty joining Vesia and Yarbrough. Plus, there is also the chance that Prior and his staff can fine-tune Gage, the veteran lefty the Dodgers got from the Yankees in the Caleb Ferguson deal. (If nothing else, Gage will probably eat some innings.)
Dodgers could also fast-track younger talent like Kopp and Wrobleski. (Caleb was a starter in the minors. He was about 22 when he got called up and pressed into a relief role.)
But it’s a lot harder to find a closer like Devin Williams.
From Kenley to Kimbrel, Roberts always like to lean on a closer, not a “closer by committee,” even one as talented as Phillips, Treinen and Graterol. He leaned on Kimbrel too much, clearly, but it seems like Roberts and some of his pitchers prefer to have defined roles.

Last edited 17 days ago by Duke Not Snider
Mark Timmons

It depends upon who is in it. I would have traded a package including Lux for Adames and Burnes. It’s not that I don’t like Lux. I just don’t think he is a SS. Also, the Dodgers could use a RH Power bat.

Oldbear48

Why trade for Adames when they can sign him as a free agent next season? I don’t like the guy, his glove is great, but he is another strikeout machine. There is enough of that on this team as it is Betts, Hernandez, are the main RH power bats, Taylor can hit 15-20. The extra 20 or so Adames would hit doesn’t off set his K’s.

Badger

“The odds of him doing better are not good”

I disagree. By all accounts Outman is a hard worker. I say the odds of improving on his rookie year numbers are pretty good. His BA against LHP was .254, his OPS was only .665. I believe he will improve on those numbers. I think you are right about Vargas. The odds of his numbers improving hitting without broken fingers are also good. That seems pretty obvious to me.

Until further notice Outman is our starting centerfielder and Vargas doesn’t have a defined role. I’m guessing he goes back to AAA. Bummer for him

Last edited 17 days ago by Badger
Make mine Blue

Is it just impossible for Vargas to be a decent 3B? If Max struggles at all offensively, his glove doesn’t justify staying in the line-up, thus does Vargas get his chance to take his damn “two broken fingers” and prove his extreme prowess at the plate (supposedly). Vargas simply cannot be any worse defensively than Max. I like Max and always have, however he seems to be on the decline offensively each season, his main contribution typical is he walks a lot, but strikes out even more (no I haven’t looked up his stats to back this up, just going by what I have been sensing each season). 3B used to be a position that was expected to put up power numbers at the plate, not a position that was supposed to draw walks. Max’s greatest strength, as of late, is to consistently take walks and not get hits. That just doesn’t make sense to me, if Vargas is the golden god of hitting, once his fingers heal, then he has to be considered as a guy that needs to learn to field balls at 3B , like I said he can’t be any worse than Max in the field, hell I couldn’t be worse than Max in the field.

Oldbear48

Muncy is in the lineup for two reasons, he has a high OBP, and he slugs a lot. In his six years with the Dodgers, he has slugged 35 or more homers 4 times. The only two times he did not was in the pandemic season, when he hit 12 in 58 games, and in 22 when he was recovering from his elbow injury. Vargas may have a better bat to ball ratio and hit for a higher average, but he will never be the same kind of power hitter Max is. Max was second on the team to Mookie with his 36 homers, and second with 105 RBIs. Vargas has skills, but he hasn’t been able to show them yet. But I do not see him ever hitting 30 plus bombs. And Max’s glove work was not horrible. He made 16 errors in 285 chances. His bat has always made up for his glove. It would be insane to stick a kid with exactly one game of MLB experience at third base over a guy who A. Has a contract for two more years with an option, and B. Is one of the better power hitters in the league.

Last edited 17 days ago by Oldbear48
Duke Not Snider

If Max gets hurt, I hope Vargas gets his chance.
Last season, Max did get hurt–but Busch got the call because he was outplaying Vargas at OKC.
Right now, Taylor and Rojas are Max’s backups. If there’s a reunion with Kike, he might be first in line.
But if Max goes down, why not see what Vargas can do
Max is under contract for ’24 and ’25. To my mind, it’s a very team-friendly contract–Teoscar is getting nearly as much for just one season–and Max delivers a lot of bang for the buck. If he keeps hitting 35 bombs a year, Max could sign an extension.
If Vargas doesn’t get dealt, perhaps he could succeed Max. Or maybe it could be 2nd round pick Jake Geloff, whose brother Zach is a budding star with the A’s. Or maybe Dalton Rushing will shift to 3B…. Various possibilities.

Duke Not Snider

Pretty sure Vargas’s fingers fully healed last season.
Anyway, if everyone is healthy, I think 3B is Vargas’s best hope, followed by LF. I hope he gets a lot of reps at both positions in OKC. (Max’s greatest strength isn’t that he walks a lot. Much-maligned Max had 36 HRs and 105 RBI last season.)
But Vargas’s best opportunity might not be with the Dodgers at all.
One Youtuber used that “baseball trade values” thingy to analyze what Devin Williams, with two years under contract, would cost the Dodgers.
A fair trade, he said, would be Vargas + Knack for Williams.
I’d be fine with that–and I bet Vargas and Knack and Williams would all be fine with it too. Knack and Vargas would have a better path to the majors, and Williams could close out a World Series.
But I think the Brewers’ management would prefer a little more.
OK, how about Knack, Vargas and Gus Varland for Williams? One from column A, one from B, one from C…
With Evan Phillips as the setup man and Williams and his airbender closing out games, the Dodgers bullpen might be the best.

Last edited 17 days ago by Duke Not Snider
Mark Timmons
  1. I think Max is a better 3B than most people think.
  2. Guys who hit 36 HR with a .808 OPS don’t grow on trees… and he will likely hit 5th or 6th.
  3. I think Vargas can be an average 3B.
  4. I would not say he is the Goilden God of Hiting, but he has a chance to be very good.
  5. I worry more about Lux in the field than Max.
Badger

“I worry more about Lux in the field than Max.”

Is that because you know what you get with Max? And that is -4 defensive runs saved. Yeah, there are worse fielders at third, but he’s definitely down the list defensively. He’s only there because you can’t have two DHs in the lineup. Lux is something of an unknown at this point. I’m hoping he’s fully recovered and good or bad we will finally see what he looks like out there.

Singing the Blue

MLB suspends the currently unemployed Billy Eppler for deliberate misuse of the IL, including fabrication of injuries when he was GM of the Mets. He can apply for reinstatement after the World Series.

I wonder if there are any members of the Dodger front office who are sweating a little more than usual this cold February morning?

Mark Timmons

No – the Dodgers do not make an IL move without the approval of the training staff or Doctor.

Jeff Dominique

Training staff and doctors employed by the Dodgers. LAD staff are well trained in making sure that they dot their i’s and cross their t’s, but there is no way I can be convinced that the Dodgers have not taken advantage of the IL. Early in 2022, Eric Stephen advised: 

Major League Baseball active rosters were trimmed from 28 players to 26 on Monday, and a couple of rules will now be enforced that were temporarily suspended for the beginning of this season. Namely, option periods and injured list stints for pitchers, and the number of times any player can be optioned this season.

For pitchers, their option periods as well as their injured list stints will now be 15 days long instead of 10. This is aimed at curbing roster churn that has been utilized over the past few years, including by the Dodgers who have almost perfected the tactic. 

Last edited 17 days ago by Jeff Dominique
Mark Timmons

Of course, they push it, but they have plausible deniability! 😉

Diane

Has anybody read the rumors about the Dodgers signing Tim Anderson?

Jeff Dominique

I saw that yesterday, although it is coming from one of the biggest rumor publication out there (Bleacher Report). They make up trade proposals and try to sell that those trades are imminent. Zachary Rymer is the biggest rumor monger out there, and Tim Kelly is not far behind. Both write for Bleacher Report.

Jeff Dominique

I am sorry. You cannot make Miguel Vargas better by tearing down James Outman. At first it was a hairline fracture of the pinkie suffered by Vargas.

Dodgers’ Miguel Vargas suffers finger injury

Then we read :

“Vargas broke multiple fingers in Spring Training, and he wasn’t able to really swing the bat for some time. It seemed to mess with him over the course of the season, and he never could recover from it.

The Dodgers could not have been convinced that it was significant injury or he would have been placed on the IL. AF/BG are certainly not shy about putting players on the IL.

Finally we read:

#Dodgers GM Brandon Gomes blamed hand injuries as major factor in Miguel Vargas’ struggles that landed him back in AAA.”

We do know that whatever medical information is disseminated from LAD fits whatever narrative they are trying to sell. While some can read that Vargas could not hit with broken fingers, others can read that the Dodgers continued to change the narrative to give Vargas an out.

Without the injuries in 2022, Vargas hit .170/.200/.255/.455. Sure small sample size. In 34 less PA, Outman hit .462/.583/.846/1.409. Yes, both small sample sizes. One hit well in his debut at MLB, and the other did not. Yet the one who did not was given the starting position in 2023, and the other was ticketed back to OKC before he played his way onto the starting lineup. One stayed at MLB and got #3 in ROY vote, and the other was optioned to AAA.

Apparently Vargas’ injuries healed up once he went down to OKC. At OKC, Vargas batted .288/.407/.479/.886. At the same time, Busch went out and became the PCL Player of the Year. And now Busch figures to be the Cubs opening day 1B, as one of only 3 LH hitters projected on their MLB roster.

While Outman hit 23 HRs, 70 RBIs, and 16 SB (3 CS) at MLB, and learned to become a terrific defensive CF. Tremendous defensive improvement from the beginning of the season to where he was at the end.  Outman had a 3.3 bWAR and a 112 OPS+. Those are not platoon numbers.

2,734 innings 791 TC – .923 fielding percentage at 3B. Per DRS and UZR (Which does measure range), Vargas was one of the worst defensive 2B in 2023. There is a baseball reason why Mookie will be the 2B, and it is not because the Dodgers prefer Jason Heyward in RF. It appears that the Dodgers have zero confidence with Vargas as a MLB 2B. They must have less confidence in him as a 3B as he was moved off 3B after his numbers in 2,734 innings and 791 TC at 3B. 

So while we can agree that one year does not a career make, Outman has been successful at the MLB level while Vargas has not. That is not arguable. Yet there are those who say that Vargas will improve and Outman will not. No basis, just a feel. Vargas has done nothing at the MLB level for credibility as a MLB Hitter. Maybe this year. OTOH, Outman has been successful at MLB.

Yes Vargas can hit, but can he hit MLB pitching. He would not be the first player to destroy MiLB pitching but not succeed at MLB level. 

If I were the Dodgers, Vargas would go back to OKC and play exclusively in LF. His best chance as a Dodger in 2025 is as a LF. 

Bumsrap

I think Mrs. Dominique helped write that comment Jeff. If so, she should write more.

OhioDodger

Maharishi Markesh Timmons has spoken. It must be so.

Mark Timmons

Passive aggressive little…

I can play this game if you want.

Last edited 17 days ago by Mark Timmons
OhioDodger

All in fun O Wise One.

Make mine Blue

I guess we all see what we want to see.

Last edited 17 days ago by Make mine Blue
Mark Timmons

I had this happen about ten years ago with Joc Pederson. People accused me of being a Joc-Hater. I just said he could not hit LHP. It turns out I was right, but Joc was a very useful player. James Outman is an “Athletic, Harder-Working Version” of Joc. He is becoming a very good CF’er and was one of the top rookies despite not being adept at hitting LHP.

Nowhere have I “torn down” James Outman. In fact, a few weeks ago, I said that he might hit 30+ HR. I don’t understand why everyone gets so defensive when I say that I don’t think he can hit LHP… especially TOP LHP. Vargas OPSed .672 and got sent back to the minors. Outman’s OPS against LHP was .664, but OPS be damned: He looks totally lost against most LHP. If you don’t think that, you are seeing with your heart and not your eyes.

Maybe he will get better against LHP. I HAVE SAID THAT TOO! I have real concerns about Gavin Lux and his ability to play SS. Do I hope I am wrong? You betcha! I would include Lux in a trade that makes the Dodgers better. I would include Outman in a deal for Robert, Jr. I would include Busch in the deal he was in, and I would trade Vargas in a heartbeat if it made the team better.

So many of you want to make this about Outman vs. Vargas. That is very myopic! It’s about what is best for the team. I realize that Vargas could totally flame out. I don’t think that is likely, as he really has no holes in his swing, but yes, it could happen. I feel like some of you would love for that to happen.

Playing in MLB, starting in CF, and hitting 23 HR is an accomplishment not many players can put on their resume, but to say that I am tearing down James Outman is a total fabrication. I am stating my opinion; I am entitled to that, and I am entitled to be wrong. I have been wrong before. Just to be clear:

I think James Outman may hit 30+ HR.I think he will be even better defensively in CF.I don’t think he can hit LHP.I don’t think Heyward can hit LHP, either.Does that mean I am tearing down Heyward?Even if Outman is platooned, he will get about 75% of the PT in CF.
Damn, the way I am attacked over this, you would think I killed someone. I was very high on Kaybear, but his progress has not been linear. However, last year he hit 18 HR and hit .260. He still has a ways to go, but is finally poised to break out this year, but I really don’t care after a player is traded. I don’t wish them bad luck, I just don’t root for them anymore.

BTW, James Outman became the first rookie in franchise history to hit at least 20 home runs and steal at least 15 bases. 

Last edited 17 days ago by Mark Timmons
OhioDodger

Outman had a .254 BA and .357 OPS against lefties. Respectable numbers. I would bat him in the bottom of the order against lefties and 5th or 6th against righties.

Mark Timmons

Actually, he had a .665 OPS, which is poor, and a .357 OB%.

Most baseball types value OPS over Ave and OB%. Here are the rankings:
[URLcomment image?width=1920&height=1080&fit=bounds[/IMG][/URL]

Mark Timmons

James is VERY GOOD against RHP, and BELOW AVERAGE against LHP.

Duke Not Snider

How is Outman’s OBP against LHP?
In ’23 his OBP was above .350 against both righties and lefties. This is ABOVE AVERAGE.
Meanwhile, Margot’s OBP against lefties was .293, which is BELOW AVERAGE.
Do you still think a platoon in CF makes sense?
And let’s look at SS.
Lux’s OBP in ’22 was a solid .346.
Rojas in ’23: a weak .290.
Outman and Lux should be on base A LOT when Mookie and Freddie step to the plate.
The new, improved lineup is more than potent.
Shohei, Teoscar and Lux are major upgrades in terms of power, speed and on-base ability.

Last edited 17 days ago by Duke Not Snider
Eric

Vargas overall OPS last year was .672 (career .640) and according to your chart is below average and about the same as Outman’s OPS against LHP. Vargas splits were .662 against RHP (career .636) and .693 against LHP (career .647) both below average. If Outman needs to be platooned against LHP because of a .665 OPS, then Vargas needs to be platooned against both RHP and LHP.

“Most baseball types value OPS over Ave and OB%.”

If this is true and I believe it to be true, I wonder what they think of Vargas.

“Even if Outman is platooned, he will get about 75% of the PT in CF.”

Since 25% of his at bats are against LHP then what’s the harm of giving him that to work on it?

Last edited 17 days ago by Eric
Jeff Dominique

You are right. I should not have said you tore down Outman. I do not think it is out of line however, to say that you do not believe he is anything more than a platoon player. But I think you focused on my statement about tearing down Outman, and missed my point. Outman has been successful as a MLB player and Vargas has not. The question…why do you assume that Outman’s ceiling is as a platoon CF and Vargas’ ceiling is a ML regular (position unknown)?

For two years, I stated that IMO Michael Busch was a better hitter than Miguel Vargas, and I caught some flak on that because of Busch’s K rate. Busch brought his K rate down to 18.8% last year, but a > 1.000 OPS. Ironically. Vargas’ OKC K rate last year was 22.4%. I knew the Dodgers were not going to keep both, and I preferred Busch. But I also knew that the Dodgers needed RH batting and not LH batting so I thought Busch would have been the player traded, and he was.

I do not want Vargas to flame out, and I do not believe anyone else does either. I do not want any Dodger to flame out. But it will have to be his bat that promotes Vargas to MLB. I prefer total players, and Vargas has never even been an adequate defender. Stick him out in LF, and if his bat comes around, the Dodgers have a LF for 2025.

I will not talk for anyone else. But my only complaint is that you want to sit Outman against LHP because he has not hit LHP…yet. OTOH, Miguel Vargas should get a 2nd runway as an everyday MLB player even though he has never hit MLB pitching, RH or LH. Maybe this will be the year that everything changes for Vargas; offensively AND defensively.

Duke Not Snider

Sorry (a little bit) to be piling on, but this one is too funny to pass up…
“So many of you want to make this about Outman vs. Vargas. That is very myopic! “
Psychologists call this “projection.” Some people have a knack for faulting others for their own faults.
Nobody but nobody has pushed the Outman vs. Vargas debate like Mark. It was Mark’s insistence that Vargas would be a star and Outman would be a fourth outfielder at best that fueled the debate.
While Mark often praised Vargas–such as describing his defense at 2B as “stellar”–he also put down Outman’s efforts, or damned with faint praise.
When Outman went into his slump last season, Mark even found inspiration in Aesop’s tale of The Tortoise and the Hare, one of the great rivalries in literature.
While Outman had had a fast start, Vargas had a slow one. But when Outman slumped, it looked like Miguelito was picking up the pace! Surely he would prove that Mark was right and we Outman fans were wrong!
But what happened?
Progress, it turned out, wasn’t linear.

Make mine Blue

It is funny to see you type that you are entitled to be wrong but in your own blog everyone else was entitled to be morons if you didn’t agree with their take. Damn do you ever actually look at yourself, talk about myopic, geez!

Last edited 17 days ago by Make mine Blue
Eric

“I am sorry. You cannot make Miguel Vargas better by tearing down James Outman. At first it was a hairline fracture of the pinkie suffered by Vargas. Vargas suffered a hairline fracture of the pinky finger on his right hand. The injury is not considered serious but will prevent Vargas from swinging a bat for a few days. Without the injuries in 2022, Vargas hit .170/.200/.255/.455. Sure small sample size. In 34 less PA, Outman hit .462/.583/.846/1.409. Yes, both small sample sizes. One hit well in his debut at MLB, and the other did not. Yet the one who did not was given the starting position in 2023, and the other was ticketed back to OKC before he played his way onto the starting lineup. One stayed at MLB and got #3 in ROY vote, and the other was optioned to AAA. So while we can agree that one year does not a career make, Outman has been successful at the MLB level while Vargas has not. That is not arguable.”

Yep. 👍 

Mark Timmons

Who is the Puppetmaster?

Make mine Blue

Or who is the moronic dickhead?

Dodgerrick

Wow. People getting testy about who said what about Dodger youngsters.

Outman has had a good start to his career, but it was hardly a perfect one. There’s lots of swing and miss in his game. Plenty of prospects started out great and ended up bad. Remember Bill Sudakis and Billy Grabarkewitz?

Vargas got off to a bad start. Again, this may not mean anything either. Remember Paul Konerko?

We don’t know what we don’t know right now. Mark has observed Vargas’ bat-to-ball skills in the minors. That may or may not mean anything. Same as Outman’s streaky success last year.

What gives me pause about Vargas is he doesn’t move like an athlete. He’s too stiff and upright to play INF well, and his footwork isn’t good. Outman is athletic. But that doesn’t necessarily mean anything either.

In any event, there’s no place for Vargas to start the season in the absence of a trade or an injury. We will see if the Dodgers end up keeping or trading him.

Mark Timmons

Bat-to-ball skills means something… just not everything!

Jeff Dominique

Paul Konerko is a good example. Not because I think Vargas will hit like Konerko (I do not), but Konerko was a 1B/3B, and the Dodgers needed a closer. He is a good example, because like Vargas, Konerko was blocked. Dodgers 1B at the time was Eric Karros. 3B at the time was Adrián Beltré. Where was Konerko going to play?

Todd Worrell was done after 1997. The Dodgers needed a closer. Lasorda flipped a blocked Konerko for Jeff Shaw (a position of need). Jeff Shaw was a good closer for LAD as the bridge between Worrell and Gagne. Konerko was never going to succeed as a LAD as well as he did as a CWS. Good for Konerko who had a fantastic career. His best value was as a player to be traded.

Badger

Ok. Vargas for Williams and don’t look back.

Vargas doesn’t move like an athlete? He sure runs like one. He hits doubles, triples and steals bases. His sprint speed of 27.9 is actually pretty good. He didn’t look like a second baseman but he didn’t belong there. I think he’d be fine at third or in left. Put him at one of those positions and leave him there.

Last edited 17 days ago by Badger
Mark Timmons

A voice of reason!

Oldbear48

When Konerko was drafted he was drafted as a catcher. But he moved to 1st base his third season in the minors.

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