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What Might We Expect From “The Kids”

I keep reading that the Dodgers are going to do more than Shelby Miller and Jason Heyward.  But why?  I also keep reading that they can win 90-95 games with the lineup they have.  Okay.  Then let’s see what the kids can do.  If they fall on their face, then AF/BG, Kasten, and Walter know they have bigger problems’, their uber hyped farm system may not be as good as reported.  If they succeed, then they may have a championship caliber roster.

One of the pending problems with this scenario is that AF prefers veterans to rookies.  But with potential payroll constraints, he may not have a choice but to see what the rookies can do.

But first let’s look at some previous players listed in the MLB Pipeline Top 100 from 2016-2021.

  • Forest Whitley – 5 time top 100; 2 time top 10
  • Alex Reyes – 4 time top 100
  • Nick Senzel – 3 time top 100; 2 time top 10
  • Lewis Brinson – 3 time top 100
  • Carter Kieboom – 3 time top 100
  • Cristian Pache – 3 time top 100
  • Alex Kiriloff – 3 time top 100
  • Grant Holmes – 3 time top 100
  • Anderson Espinoza – 3 time top 100
  • Carson Fulmer – 2 time top 100
  • Jon Duplantier – 2 time top 100
  • Sean Newcomb – 2 time top 100
  • José De León – 2 time top 100
  • Luis Urías – 2 time top 100
  • Jackson Frazier – 2 time top 100
  • Bradley Zimmer – 2 time top 100
  • Riley Pint – 2 time top 100

Other illustrious top 100 prospects with at least 1 appearance (most were in top 40):

  • Orlando Arcia
  • Nomar Mazara
  • Franklin Barreto
  • Mickey Moniak
  • Corey Ray
  • Blake Rutherford
  • Scott Kingery
  • Brendan McKay
  • JJ Bleday
  • Taylor Trammell
  • Jahmai Jones
  • Josh James
  • Yadier Álvarez
  • Willie Calhoun
  • Adalberto Mondesí
  • Beau Burrows

And I really just scratched the surface.  Bottom line, being listed in the top 100 is some indication of potential talent, but that talent does not always flourish at the MLB level.  So when fans look at the Dodgers and see 7 players in the MLB Pipeline Top 100 and say they are loaded, that is not always going to be the case.

A quick look at the three LAD position players looking to play significant innings in 2023.

 

Miguel Vargas will be 23, certainly not the age of a super prospect.  He has mixed scouting reports offensively, but all are consistent that at best he can become an average 3B.   I know Badger says to hit him 1,000 balls a day.  If your feet are not quick enough, it will not matter.  He has a poor defensive record on balls that are in play, but that does not count the balls he cannot get to. Vargas is the second LAD prospect to say that his best position is the batter’s box.  Matt Beaty was the first.

Vargas has good hands and a decent arm, but slow feet limit his range and mobility in the infield. Asked this week name Vargas’ best position, Friedman said, “Probably third.”

Scout Two said he “thinks” Vargas can play third base in the big leagues, and Barbary said Vargas “made a lot of progress at third” in his 113 games at Oklahoma City in 2022.

Not a ringing endorsement, but also not projection of inability to play a MLB average 3B.  

I hope Vargas proves all of the defensive naysayers wrong and he becomes a strong defensive 3B.  But I tend to believe that his ceiling potential is an average 3B.  That will be good enough if he hits like Nolan Arenado even if he does not field like him.

 

James Outman will be 26 next year.  He burst onto the scene last July with a HR in his first AB and went 3-4 in Game 1.  He then started the next three games against SF.  He ended up going 3-11 in those games, but his last two games he was 1-7 with 6 strikeouts.  So who is James Outman?  The guy in Game 1 or the guy in games 3 & 4?  The Dodgers got Joey Gallo for a reason.  As bad as Gallo was down the stretch, he was on the playoff roster and not Outman.  Gallo did not get an AB against SDP in the playoffs.  Maybe they should have let Outman play himself on or off the roster instead of acquiring Gallo.  We will never know.

But we also do not know how the execs feel about Outman in the long term.  Here is what AF said about Outman when asked during the Q & A on the future CF for LAD.

“He had a really good season,” Friedman said of Outman. “He got to experience a little bit of the Major Leagues, went back down and took what he had learned and did really well. Now whether that’s Opening Day or at some point over the course of the ’23 season, I would imagine he will get opportunities.”

AF was not alone.  Mike DiGiovanna spoke with Dave Roberts, OKC Manager Travis Barbary, and two unnamed scouts.  Based on those conversations, DiGiovanna wrote:

“There are concerns about an uppercut in his swing that leaves Outman vulnerable to elevated fastballs and down-and-away breaking balls and contributed to his 152 strikeouts last season.”

“When you’re striking out that many times in the minor leagues, it’s a little concerning to me,” Scout One said. “This good of an athlete? He should not strike out 152 times. But I believe he has the hand-eye coordination to flatten his swing out and be a better hitter who is not looking to just drive the ball every at-bat.”

  • Statement 1 – We are confident that Gavin Lux can be a good MLB SS.
  • Statement 2 – At some point in 2023, Outman may get opportunities.

My point to Badger a couple of weeks back, was not a desire to replace Outman with Jarred Kelenic, but more a question as to why  many consider Outman to become a mainstay when a higher rated prospect (Kelenic) could not.  Nick Senzel?  Alex Kiriloff?  Cristian Pache? That being said, I still would not mind seeing Kelenic come to LAD.

Many are convinced that AF will not go into the season with Lux at SS, but are just as convinced that LAD will go with Outman as the CF.  It sure does not sound that AF and the group that Mike DiGiovanna spoke with believe that Outman is the player he was in his game 1 against Colorado. Maybe he proves that he is a ML CF in ST and the Dodgers have their CF of the future.  I assume he will get that “opportunity” in ST, but so will Trayce Thompson and Jason Heyward.  Based on the above, I think it is more likely that Outman goes back to AAA to start the year to see if he can improve on those strikeouts.  I hope he does prove it, because the Dodgers do not have any CF in the pipeline.  Bottom line, I do think Outman will find a way to succeed at the MLB level.

Michael Busch will be 25 next year.  He will be anything but a young rookie.  He is another without a defensive position to call home.  OKC Manager, Travis Barbary, believes that Michael Busch can be a MLB 2B defensively.  He says Busch has the range and has the arm to turn a good DP.  If Gavin Lux is the SS, then Michael Busch will get his chance to show what he can do at 2B in ST.  At worst, he becomes the 2023 version of Edwin Ríos.  He can also play 1B and LF.  His problem is that he is LH and so is Freddie, Lux, Outman, and Muncy, all players he may be competing with.

I have always been a fan of Michael Busch. While certain others were all in on Kody Hoese, I was on the Michael Busch bandwagon.  I always believed that Busch was a superior offensive player to Hoese.  Neither one was a defensive stalwart.  When in doubt, go with the bat.  Unless, of course, one is Ozzie Smith.

 

Not all three are going to hit the ground running. Hopefully one of them will establish themselves in the everyday lineup, while the remaining two can become valuable bench role players.  All three have talent, but all three have their issues.  Hopefully the positives outweigh the negatives.  But don’t simply bite on the hype and think that all three are going to be difference makers at the MLB level.

Another point:  When was the last time, Andrew Friedman put a roster together with 3 rookie position players expected to make significant impact? And some want to add Pages to that list.  Then add 2-3-4 rookie pitchers during the year.  Why not just see what the OKC team can do at the MLB level.

Thus, perhaps Michael Busch’s best value could come in a trade.  He has been a solid, even though not elite, prospect, and one that could translate into a decent return if packaged properly. Of course, the team can continue to hold onto prospects and then release them (Edwin Ríos).  Or they can continue to hold onto them and let them leave via Rule 5 draft.  Ryan Noda was never going to play for LAD. He is a 1B first, and 1B is definitely not a position of need.  After the Rule 5 draft we learned the following:

“The A’s were excited to get first baseman Ryan Noda, who hit 25 homers and drove in 90 runs for the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers in 2022. After the draft, GM David Forst said his team asked the Dodgers about Noda in trade discussions several times in recent years and were happy to get him in this draft. He’s a perfect fit for an Oakland team in need of a power lefty bat and a solid defensive first baseman.”

Seriously, the A’s asked for Noda in a trade and the Dodgers did not facilitate one?  Instead they let him go for $100K?  If Oakland wanted him, the Dodgers had to figure that Ryan Noda would be drafted by the A’s.  He is a perfect fit for Oakland.

I would imagine that one of the other Rule 5 draftees, Jose Hernandez, would garner interest as well.  He was a solid reliever for the AA Tulsa Drillers. It may be a big jump from AA to MLB, but as a reliever, he should still stick on a Pittsburgh Pirates roster.

During the week, we can visit the rookie pitchers who figure to get strong consideration for the rotation: Ryan Pepiot, Michael Grove, Bobby Miller, and Gavin Stone.  Miller (26), Pepiot (74), and Stone (77) are top 100 prospects.

 

 

 

 

 

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Dionysus

Dream scenario:

Vargas & Muncy share 3B/DH [sorry JT]

Busch & Taylor share 2B

Outman is good 4th OF

Jacob Burch

Get better dreams 😉 I’d rather roll with one more year of Turner & Muncy at 3b, Lux at 2b, and a new SS [Swanson?]. Vargas can battle with Thompson and Taylor in LF and we’ll likely add another OFer to share CF with Outman. I don’t consider Heyward to be a serious part of the plan.

Badger

Another thought provoking piece Jeff.

Until moves are actually made there isn’t a whole lot different this morning. The idea of 3 rookies on the field and at least one in the rotation just doesn’t sound like the Dodgers to me. Vargas, yes, Outman and Busch no. Not at the same time. One pitcher out of Grove, Pepiot, Stone, Miller. Other teams drafting out of our organization is certainly no surprise. It’s possible those players could be returned but even that is of little consequence because we won’t be using any of those guys.

I can see JT returning, I think he belongs here. I don’t expect Heyward and McCutcheon to be difference makers here at this point in their careers. I believe what Friedman really wants is to get younger and more athletic. I don’t believe Swanson is the answer, and I think Correa is the better fit. And… there’s our Damacles sword hanging there. I believe Dionysus is more qualified to expound on that.

Feels strange doesn’t it?

Jacob Burch

I’m not Dionysus but I’m a hard No on Correa. After watching 5 minutes of MLBN this morning I’m convinced JT will be coming back and we’re just holding out until we settle on a number [$10m?] that allows him to return here at close to market value while acknowledging that he is doing us a Kershaw-like favor by showing his loyalty to an organization that goes way beyond baseball for him and us. That move instantly changes the DH dynamic and possibly the 3B situation as well.

Badger

Dionysius has a connection to the sword of Damocles that I mentioned which has a connection to Bauer which… never mind.

Jacob Burch

It’s all greek to me.

Bumsrap

Let’s hope Outman will figure it out like Justin did later in his career.

The offense is now missing Trea but hopefully Muncy and Taylor will improve enough over last year that Trea won’t be missed. Outman won’t be that much worse than Bellinger. Justin was only good for a half year so Vargas has a chance to replace some or most of Justin’s offense.

Infield defense right now looks to take a step back but the outfield defense won’t.

Anderson and Gonsolin were huge last year. Maybe Gonsolin can do it again. Will May come close to replacing Anderson?

I have a hunch that Rodon might not be a great teammate.

Jacob Burch

Whatever else happens, it seems safe to assume we will be adding at least another OF, IF & SP. Probably a RP too.

OhioDodger

“Outman won’t be that much worse than Bellinger.”

Wow. You evidently don’t think much of Outman.

Jacob Burch

Heyward: Hold my OPS*

[Heyward’s OPS last year was .556; Bellinger’s was .654]

Bumsrap

Good one.

Jacob Burch

Seems easy to lump Brantley, Conforto & Benitendi into a group of three from which we may be trying to snatch the cheapest one. I believe we are 100% waiting out the market right now. There should be a couple fish left in the net later in the offseason.

Badger

Mike DiGiovanna has a front page piece in the Times Sports section on this topic. It appears Friedman is sending the message the team that won 111 last year is confident in the organization’s replacement players moving forward.

I’m not buying it. But I’m just an old curmudgeon. Maybe some other organizational heads will believe it and trade with us.

Last edited 1 month ago by Badger
Oldbear48

I do not expect anything from the kids, therefore if they perform well I will be pleasantly surprised and if they tank, I won’t be disappointed.

Badger

If in fact we go into ST as is, these guys better hit. All of them. Spring deals can be made, but if they’re struggling in March, deals may not favor us. Frankly I don’t think Friedman is done.

Jacob Burch

I pretty much knew Will Smith, Bellinger & Seager would be good. Lux I was never sure about but he seems to have righted the ship into full-time regular status. Pitchers are much harder to project but Urias & May progressed nicely and Gonsolin was a 100% shock/found money guy. Out of the current group, Vargas is the only one who screams “sure-thing,” although if the sure-thing is a 15-20 hr. hitting left fielder his upside has been severely capped. I do expect Vargas to be a regular for us. I hope it’s at 3b, where he’d likely fit somewhere between Beltre & Guerrero defensively. Busch I think will hit, but it might be right away and it might not be for us. Outman is somewhat in the Gonsolin/found money category, and anything we get from him should be considered a bonus. I’d be thrilled if he became a major league player even on the bench. Pepiot I do believe in, but I think the process might take a while and I could see him having a very rough year in the rotation if allowed to just sink or swim. Stone and Miller, while full of talent, still strike me as a half season away. Amaya is pretty much a nobody. Possible utility guy. Ditto DeLuca [although I’ve never seen him play]. And everybody else is a 2024 or beyond option.

Jeff Dominique

I like that “found money guy” moniker and I agree that it applies to both Gonsolin and Outman. Gonsolin was drafted as a reliever, but convinced LAD player personnel that he should start. Now will his arm hold up? Forearm strains scream future UCL issues. But maybe he comes out of it like Kershaw did the winter before.
 
Outman was rebuilt. His ceiling was that of a defensive minded 4th OF. A left handed Trayce Thompson if you will. I still believe AF sees him as a reserve OF, but one with a little more upside now who might be allowed to prove everyone wrong. ST will be huge for him. The Bauer saga will be over one way or the other, and the Dodgers may decide to sign or trade for an OF once that happens. Ian Happ could still be available via trade. Andrew Benintendi is still a possibility. Michael Brantley is a DH, and Michael Conforto is a Scott Boras client. Ain’t Happenin’.
 
I have always been a Lux fan, but I never thought he was in the Seager class. However, on the day of the draft, I did write that the Dodgers picked the wrong SS. I tagged Bo Bichette as the SS to draft, and it looks like that would have been a better choice. Although, Toronto moved him faster than LAD would have.

Oldbear48

I do not think the Cubs trade Happ unless they sign one of the two remaining SS, Correa or Swanson. A lot of pundits think the Dodgers will end up signing Swanson. But like everyone knows, they need the Bauer debacle is over. Outman will get his shot for sure in spring, so will Heyward. Comeback player of the year is going to be Bellinger, bank on it. He is going to have a very good year with the Cubs.

Jeff Dominique

You could very well be right on Belli. If he does, that should put a pin prick into that helium balloon hype of Dodger hitting gurus who can fix anything, especially RVS.

Singing the Blue

A hitting coach can’t fix a player who doesn’t listen to him. Maybe “change of scenery” in Belli’s case means “change of hitting coach”. Don’t know who that is for the Cubs, but maybe the two of them will connect in a way that RVS couldn’t.

Oldbear48

According to sources, teammates, manager, coaches, and the front office, Bellinger was very coachable and worked his ass off. I trust their evaluation of the players work ethic a lot more than your evaluation. RVS is not the know all end all. I think he is a marginal coach at best who’s hitting philosophy sucks.

Jeff Dominique

Bear, I do not think anyone here has ever questioned Belli’s work ethic, and certainly not me. But all that hard work did not provide any positive results. Thus, it would seem to be the team’s hitting philosophy or the player’s hitting ability. I think we are going to find out.

The front office you mentioned did not tender Belli assumedly because of the cost, and yet Chicago signed him for just about what most thought he would make with the Dodgers. It appears that the Cubs believe in him more than the Dodgers. If he becomes the Comeback Player of the Year, then we will know there is something amiss with the Dodgers assessment of either Belli or the hitting philosophy. And BTW, I do hope you are right.

Oldbear48

I think it is that stupid launch angle crap they teach. It works for some and not for others. Not everyone is Freddie Freeman. When Bellinger was crushing the ball in 19, his swing was more level than it has been in the last few years. I think his lack of success is more a product of the pitchers exploiting his biggest weakness, than it is Bellinger himself. He did not adjust and instead of laying off the stuff he had no chance of hitting, he continued to swing and miss. I am not saying he is a .300 hitter, but he certainly is more than capable of hitting in the .270’s.

Bumsrap

I think most of us think it was Bellinger not wanting to change his setup than it was questioning his work ethic.

Oldbear48

He changed his stance and his setup several times over the last couple of years. I think 2021 was more a product of dealing with injuries. And he had major surgery to his shoulder, and I am not really sure his leg was back at full strength until close to the end of the season. But he still managed to raise his BA .50 points in a terrible year.

Singing the Blue

Not sure why you think that signing Correa/Swanson would lead to the Cubs trading Happ. If anything, I would think that would make them want to hold on to him even more because that would indicate they’re all in on winning this year.

Happ played left field for them last year so position-wise, signing a shortstop wouldn’t affect him.

I’d love to have Happ here. They could definitely use pitching. Make it happen, AF!

Singing the Blue

Busy day out there.

A’s trade Murphy to the Braves in a 3-team trade.
William Contreras goes to the Brewers.
A’s get a bunch of guys.
Too many moving parts to list them all.

Bassitt signs with the Blue Jays, 3 years/63 mil

Marlins have made JT “a competitive offer”.

And Mr. Friedman continues his vow of abstinence.

Last edited 1 month ago by Singing the Blue
Jacob Burch

It’s more the reverse of abstinence: he doesn’t want to get f@#$ed.

Bumsrap

Friedman’s abstinence is making some us feel like surrogates.

Jeff Dominique

Not true. Jake Reed, Shelby Miller, and Jason Heyward beg to differ.  😉 

Singing the Blue

Jake Reed doesn’t count.
You can only count each player once, even if you bring him back five times.

Jacob Burch

The Extra 2% means trying like hell to win at the margins.

It almost assumes no real competitive advantage. Just a purely efficient world of baseball knowledge.

Bumsrap

With so many high priced free agents off the board it looks like Swanson and Correa can wait out the Boras decision so that the Dodgers are in play.

Badger

Rosario would work. I just read he projects $9M for next year then he’s a free agent. I think Dodgers hitting coaches could help him get more walks Tell me how you think he fits and what it would cost.

Last edited 1 month ago by Badger
Jacob Burch

Do you think Muncy can play 2b full-time?

Badger

A 3 way? Too complicated for me, but I’m betting you can put one together.

Oldbear48

Blue Jays ink Bassitt for three years.

Dionysus

Total number of people in world who feel sorry for Correa: zero

Bumsrap

You continue to say you feel sorry for Correa the same way I continue to assume that the Dodgers are going to go past the CBT threshold.

Badger

“I feel sorry for Correa because so many people hate him for cheating” said nobody ever.

Jeff referred to Minnesota and Boras. What do they have in common? Minnesota is smaller market, few people care about them. Boras’ net worth is $450 million, nobody cares about him.

Bumsrap

I didn’t say you did. Think about it.

Dionysus

Resetting for Ohtani is a story created by the media with no basis in reality.

Badger

By that time Ohtani will be 30 and entering his past prime phase He didn’t cost all that much when the Angels got him. We should have him now. Maybe he would have had a clutch hit against the Padres.

Jacob Burch

The smart money is on either the Angels extending him during next season OR his being traded and the acquiring team agreeing to an extension as part of the trade terms. I vote for the latter. Licking our chops to compete against the Yankees, Mets & Padres to give this cat a half-billion isn’t exactly smart general management.

Badger

Yeah, I agree with that take. I think the smarter move is to get the stars that are rising or at their brightest point. Clearly not always easy to do. We’ve obviously had our share of those, and have fielded some entertaining teams. The problem of course is how to use the enormous resources available to build a championship team. That is a problem without a known solution. You pays your money and you takes your chances.

I read somewhere this current roster projects the 5th highest team WAR for ‘23. That’s pretty good considering. We finished about 5th best with a payroll close to $300 million, why not roll the dice with a payroll at around 2/3 that? In the mean time we can hope the Mets and Padres finish 5th next year.

Sam Oyed

Regarding shortstops, there’s some suggestion that the Reds should trade SS prospect Matt McLain for Andy Pages.

On the surface it sounds possible but the Dodgers need both outfielders and a SS.

Jacob Burch

I don’t know anything about McLain but this is the exact kind of challenge trade we need to do to better allocate assets within the organization. If we’re going cheap now, we need to maximize talent wherever we can. What’s funny about the Mets is even with all their moves, they have a bunch of draft picks coming up that they can immediately use to restock the farm. Letting prospects stay in the system while the big club suffers is not what we should be doing.

Jacob Burch

So we officially lost the Ross Stripling trade. He has turned out to be a viable MLB starting pitcher [as well as good guy] and Noda/K. Williams are now officially either gone or merely prospect fodder.

Stupid trade and I never understood it in the first place. Not everybody has to be an ace to have value.

Bluto

Joke or serious?

Jacob Burch

Paper or plastic?

Jacob Burch

Cash or credit?

Jacob Burch

Boxers or briefs?

Jacob Burch

Ginger or Mary Ann?

Badger

Mary Ann. For decades everyone I know has picked her.

Bluto

I still think he was joking.

Sam Oyed

Jeff,

as you said, you would rather the Dodgers trade some of their 83 RHP. As you have also pointed out the teams that have players the Dodgers want, don’t really need pitching.

How did the Dodgers get to a point where they are devoid of minor league talent at positions of need and seem unable to trade with teams they could line up with.

I know they have drafted low for years but does this also say something about long term planning?

Singing the Blue

Reds can use pitching and 4 of their top 5 prospects are shortstops.

Jeff Dominique

But the Reds have hinted they want to trade their SS depth for OF near MLB.

Fred Vogel

Very considerate of the Dodgers to hold off announcing their signing of Dansby Swanson until after he returns from his honeymoon.
Signed, Wishful Thinker

Oldbear48

Stripling joins the Giants. I really hate it when exe Dodgers go play for San Francisco. Something Jackie refused to do when he retired rather than accept a trade to New York. But it is a lot more common than it used to be.

Dionysus

Good news is we’ll shell him.

Jacob Burch

I work with a JuCo coach who had Leach as a mentor and he always said he was a hugely innovative football mind.

Jacob Burch

I feel like signing AJ Pollock is inevitable.

Singing the Blue

He may be the only free agent left by the time they let us know what’s going on with Bauer.

Whom do you prefer?

Pollock
JD Martinez
McCutchen
Conforto
Brantley

AJ, Conforto and Cutch can still put in some time in the outfield.
Only JD ever hit 4 homers in one game in Dodger Stadium.
Brantley may have the most hits left in his bat if he’s recovered from his shoulder surgery.

MLBTR signing estimates:
JDM – 2/30
Conforto – 1/15
Brantley – 1/15
Pollock – ? (certainly less than 15MM and probably only one year)
McCutchen – ditto

Oldbear48

Pollock

Dionysus

JD or Conforto

Badger

That was an interesting read.

Where does Outman fall on that list?

Dionysus

Only can view first ten without subscription. Decent list. I’m high on Nastrini too.

Badger

All of them have Major League talent according to those writers.

I too only saw the 10. I ask again where does Outman fall on that list?

Dionysus

“I declare bankruptcy!”

Fred Vogel

Excellent Michael Scott reference.

Badger

“And I knew EXACTLY what to do! But in a much more real sense, I had NO IDEA what to do.”

Last edited 1 month ago by Badger
Singing the Blue

For those of you who like to consider pitchers that AF might be looking at, and who wouldn’t cost much, Dustin Nosler has an interesting column out with some deep dive numbers.

These are the guys he reviews:

  1. Kuhl
  2. Lorenzen
  3. Bundy
  4. Yarbrough
  5. Smyly
  6. Minor
  7. Sanchez
  8. Hutchison

Extremely unexciting but if the goal is to avoid spending money, they all qualify. And who knows, there may just be another Tyler Anderson/Andrew Heaney lurking here.

Here’s the link:

Trying to find the Dodgers’ next Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney

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