Dodgers Have Patience for Players but Also a History of Ruthless Action
The Dodgers’ management team have a history of patience with players but will make bold moves when warranted. The Dodgers, as of this writing, are 68-37 with the best record in baseball. They are almost a sure thing to win the National League Western Division and should be a formidable opponent in the playoffs.
Some would say that it would not be smart to mess with a team that is so good. I even wrote about the possible impacts to team chemistry, which included the Dodgers’ management trust in the players to turn things around.
Let’s take a look at some recent history of how the Dodgers have handled some struggling players.
The Dodgers acquired Jimmy Rollins in the off-season before 2015 as a veteran player that could hold the shortstop position until Corey Seager would take over in 2016.
Along with Howie Kendrick they would form a quality veteran double play combination in 2015. Rollins had one more year left on his contract In 2014 he had slashed .243/.323/.394 (AVG/OBP/SLG) that included 17 home runs and 28 stolen bases. His bWAR was 3.9 so there seemed to be plenty left in the tank.
After posting a slash of .222/.276/.358 as of September 2, 2015, the Dodgers called up Corey Seager. During the short playoff run in 2015 Seager started 4 of the 5 games. The Dodgers gave Rollins five full months to produce and he didn’t so they made a change.
After the 2016 season it looked like Joc Pederson was going to be a fixture in center field.
He had slashed .246/.352/.495 and was the starting center fielder and leadoff hitter on opening day of 2017. He had a messy 2017 season as he spent time injured but was also very inconsistent. By August 18 he was slashing .215/.329/.417 but for the month of August was .054/.186/.108 and they sent the 2015 All-Star to AAA. He’d been slowly losing playing time and the Dodgers had a huge lead in the division race.
Joc recovered in the 2017 World Series and almost captured the MVP with 3 home runs. It was a hard decision but the Dodgers weren’t afraid to make necessary changes.
Now Joc has re-established himself as a platoon player who plays against all right-handed starting pitching. Again, the Dodgers weren’t afraid to rock the boat.
Similar to Joc Pederson, Austin Barnes was a huge part of the 2017 National League pennant winning team when he slashed .289/.408/.486.
After a difficult 2018 he was counted on to still be the starting catcher in 2019 with Yasmani Grandal leaving as a free agent. Although still a good defensive player he became an almost automatic out with a slash of .196/.288/.328.
The Dodgers had a sample of Will Smith for a few games and had to come to a decision about Barnes. Despite the pitchers liking to work with Barnes and being a good clubhouse guy, the Dodgers optioned him to AAA. He hadn’t been in AAA since September of 2016. It was another difficult decision with an established player but he had not produced and was given over a season and a half to get the offense back on track.
A.J. Ellis was a long-time Dodger who was a fan favorite, well respected and, most importantly, Clayton Kershaw’s personal catcher.
The Dodgers have had a continuing issue hitting against left-handed pitchers and 2016 was no exception. Ellis was expected to platoon with Yasmani Grandal to help deal with the left handed pitching. His slash against left-handers with the Dodgers in 2016 was .224/.297/.269 and was not a very good pitch framer. Despite having a bad year the Dodgers shocked all of baseball by trading Ellis to the Phillies for Carlos Ruiz in late August. National media was saying the Dodgers wrecked their chemistry and many fans were upset.
Why Are You Bringing These Examples Up?
Not only these above examples but the trade of Juan Uribe to the Braves in May of 2015 shows that the Dodgers have a lot of patience but when the patience runs out, action is taken.
#Dodgers Dave Roberts On Kenley Jansen’s erratic finish: "He was one strike away from having a clean inning. After the two-strike base hit off the bat of (Trea) Turner, the wheels came off, really, quite frankly. … He just really couldn't find it. Tonight wasn't a good night”
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) July 27, 2019
Let’s be honest, Kenley Jansen has not been the same since the end of the 2017 season.
There is no longer that feeling the game is over when he comes in. His velocity is down and he misses his location a lot more than he used to. He still has his moments as I especially liked his appearance against the Red Sox after the All-Star Break.
The Trade Deadline is this Wednesday on July 31. The Dodgers basically have three days to determine what kind of help Jansen needs as a “closer”. I hope they follow my advice and work towards redefining the “closer” role.
Do you really think Dodgers’ management doesn’t see what we see?
They do and have been giving Jansen a chance. The question remains, what will they do to address the decline of Kenley Jansen? I do see then going out and getting another closer to share the load with Kenley. This will probably hurt Jansen but I think it will work out.
The man, literally, risked his life to pitch for the Dodgers the last third of the season and wants to win a World Series as bad or more than anyone.
History has proven that the current front office is not afraid to make some hard choices.
In general, they have more patience than most front offices (it has paid off many times). However, they have been almost ruthless at times when the patience runs out. Their patience with Kenley Jansen has probably worked into being highly concerned that he cannot be the only pitcher they trust to close a playoff game.
We will have our answer on July 31 at a little after 1:00 PM PST. I’m betting they go hard after an elite reliever like Felipe Vazquez. The cost will hurt but circumstances demand it.
The decision when to move a player out, or down is one that will always be second guessed by fans. Rarely do you see a trade or change out where all the following fans applaud the move. I would assume the FO sees the same problems with Jansen that fans do. The troubling aspect to it is he is showing even more indicators of inability to hit his spots and gives up too many long balls. This year the latter point is even more important given the “active” ball.
We’re I the guy I’d be out shopping for another quality, healthy, reliever (not a rental) and expect to frame a deal wherein probably one of our top prospects was moved and perhaps some lower tier minor league players. IF the FO doesn’t make a move by the trade deadline and Janesn continues to degrade in performance, come this fall they’ll probably have to try to put someone else in that spot. A manager’s job is not made any easier with a closer who’s performance is a “coin flip” every time he steps on the mound.
Get help, or get ready for some late inning losses and one heck of a lot of second guessing from the cheap seats.