Dodgers Have Taken ‘A Step Back’, per Boston Globe

You knew it was bound to happen. You just knew it was inevitable. Of course, we’re talking about a major publication talking about how the Los Angeles Dodgers, due to losing Zack Greinke in the offseason, have most assuredly taken “a step back.”

It finally happened today, and it honestly shouldn’t surprise anyone. What is somewhat of a surprise, though, is that it came from all the way across the country.

ICYMI: Dodgers Roundtable: Designated Thoughts

From Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe:

2. DODGERS — Signing Kenta Maeda and Scott Kazmir to free agent deals can’t make up for losing Greinke to the rival Diamondbacks. The Dodgers still have an unsettled outfield situation, and re-signing an aging Chase Utley wasn’t impressive.

In some respects, Cafardo is correct. Maeda and Kazmir are certainly no Greinke, but they also don’t have to be. That’s the beauty about signing two of the better free agent pitchers out there to team-friendly deals.

All the Dodgers need out of those two starters is to be about equal to the production Greinke produced, and the rest will take care of itself as the Dodgers now have a much deeper rotation than they did at all in 2015.

Combine that with Brandon McCarthy possibly returning by the All-Star Break, as well as Hyun-jin Ryu returning shortly into the season, and you have the makings of a team that shouldn’t see too much of a rotational drop-off.

Cafardo is also correct in saying the Dodgers have an unsettled outfield situation, but it’s more or less unsettled in only left field. Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig are going to be the starters at center field and right field, as they should be. Only left field is up in the air, but it’s not a deal breaker as far as their season is concerned.

And, while re-signing Chase Utley isn’t exactly great, it isn’t terrible, either. Losing Howie Kendrick can be seen as a negative, but to say that the Dodgers took “a step back” seems to imply that the overall talent on the team got worse.

It’s hard to actually say the talent got worse. It just got reallocated and rearranged. That doesn’t mean there was “a step back”, it just means there was a shift.

Cody Bellinger Is A Top 1B Prospect, per MLB Pipeline

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  1. Really, Justin, stop spinning, you’ll get a stomach ache. I’ll start by saying preseason predictions mean nothing, They’re fun for the fans and writers, but they’re as often wrong as right. Having said that, It;s hard to argue at this point that the team has not taken a step back compared to their National League rivals.

    The starting rotation is deeper and that’s a good thing, but aside from Kershaw, all their starters are injury risks or have mediocre track records; sometimes both. In 2015, in games not started by Kershaw or Greinke, the Dodgers were one game over .500. Last year the FO had two aces and never fixed the back end of the rotation. This year they fixed the back end of the rotation but lost an ace. Emblematic of the Dodgers high hopes is you citing the possible comeback of Brandon McCarthy. McCarthy has, except for two months with the Yankees, never been an above-average pitcher. In his four starts last year he had an ERA of 5.87 and gave up nine home runs in 24 IP. One of the best things that happened to the Dodgers last year was him blowing out his elbow. 

    But even if you argue that the new rotation can be as good as last year’s, the front office has decided to stand pat on the rest of the team despite the fact that the offense struggled against good teams and the bullpen was mostly unreliable. The defense is likely to be worse with Hernandez/Utley replacing Hendrick. 

    On a position -by-position basis, the only likely upgrade is Seager replacing Rollins. Compare this to how the Cubs, Mets, Giants and Nationals have brought in significant new players to improve their clubs. The Dodgers are basically gambling that their existing players will improve enough to win 90 or more games again. Given that, the Globe is perfectly respectable in its conclusion.

  2. Seager is a HUGE upgrade over Rollins, and don’t forget Ryu, who IS ace level quality and numbers. A healthy Puig , Turner and Grandal will give the Dodgers lineup depth too. The Dodgers win the west by 8 games minimum.

  3. Blue58 Firstly, you ignore the potential “injury risk” inherent with any pitcher on any squad.  Most GM’s would look at the Dodgers and think that they have great depth at starting pitching.  Kazmir, though hasn’t thrown over 200 innings since 2007, is a pretty sure bet to throw 180-200 this season, which is plenty enough for us.  Maeda has those risks that still haven’t been specified upon that came up in his physical, however this is a pitcher that has thrown 200+ IP 4 out of the last 6 years in the NPB where they rarely make more than 30-31 starts.  His stats are better than Kuroda’s, and if he pitches like a Kuroda or Chan Ho Park (very reasonable expectations given the stuff/makeup comparisons you could make) then we are solid.  Ryu is coming back from a shoulder injury, but it was only a labrum and not (huge NOT) a rotator cuff injury.  If he comes back even close to what he was like in 2013-2014, he is instantly our #2, pushing Kazmir to #3 and Maeda to #4.  If all that comes to pass, guess what?  We have Brett Anderson as our #5.  Now, I am pretty adamant on the fact that Anderson’s injuries have ALL been freak injuries.  Looking at his history since Tommy John in 2011, everything major is ankle related, or the bulging disk in the back.  All those are relating to freak on-field injuries.  He was finally healthy last year, but knowing this seasons pitching heavy market, decided to accept the QA and prove to any doubters he is healthy so he can land a much bigger deal in the 2016-2017 offseason in a pitching thin market at only 28 years old!  He seems older because he has been around for so long, but the guy will only be 28 this season, and hitting the market turning 29 next year.  If he gives us exactly what he gave us last year, a mid 3’s ERA, tons of grounders, and around 180 IP, then that is one of the best #5’s, if not the best, in the majors based on pure stats, save for maybe the Met’s super rotation.  Beyond that, you have a 25 year old Alex Wood, very capable Brandon McCarthy returning midseason, plus Mike Bolsinger who was very capable in spot starts, Brandon Beachy who could be a solid swingman (which might suit him with his durability issues) and spot start here and there if all goes terribly ahead of him, and then rounding that out you have a decent Carlos Frias, and solid prospects in Lee, Montas, and Stripling all on the 40 man roster ready to step in if indeed the five ahead of them on the depth chart go down in some sort of plague.  That’s just the starting rotation.

  4. Blue58 Now the bullpen.  Remove the debacles of Jim Johnson and Chin Hui Tsao from our second half stats, and you are looking at a bullpen that goes from a 4.33 ERA to 3.47 ERA.  Add another year of experience to Baez and Garcia, expect Avilan to normalize closer to his 2.96 ERA, throw in Blanton who pitched to a 2.04 ERA out of relief, and you have a much better bullpen than last year.  Oh, don’t forget that Hatcher in the 2nd half pitched to a tune of 1.31 ERA and a 26/6 K/BB ratio.  I’d say that is more like the Hatcher we traded for last offseason.  I’d more likely expect Hatcher to pitch like this than his ERA north of 5.00 earlier in the season (which all peripheral stats attributed to a terrible BABIP and LOB%).  So you still think our bullpen is bad?  Even with all the uncertainty last year, our bullpen over the course of the full season posted, per FanGraphs, the 8th best WAR in the entire majors.  We are minus Johnson, minus Tsao, minus Peralta, and added Blanton, and throwing most likely Beachy into a long relief role.  Beachy has great stuff, and with the lower usage coming from the pen could actually pay really great dividends similar to Blanton deciding to transition to the pen last season.

  5. Blue58 And lastly, their starting lineup.  Let’s assume that our only losses, position wise, is Howie Kendrick.  Defensively Kendrick posted a -6.0 UZR/150 and -12 Defensive Runs Saved for us last year (slightly below average), and career wise he has been steadily average – not bringing amazing defense, but not hurting his team, until last year.  Utley in limited time last year posted a -3.8 UZR150 and -1 DRS – better than Kendrick.  And his career numbers are much better than Kendricks.  Kike posted a -9.4 UZR/150 and -4 DRS – overall worse than Kendrick.  But he has positive defensive metrics (even posting a 41.6 UZR/150 and +2 DRS at SS last year) overall, and one would more likely expect him to be a positive defensive presence at 2B than a negative one.  Offensively, Kendrick, per FanGraphs, posted 7.1 runs above average, with a 109 wRC+ and .325 wOBA – solidly above average.  Chase Utely posted -13.0 runs above average, 71 and .271 respectively.  But remember, he was quite injured last year, and posted 10.6, 105 and .325 the previous year.  Kike posted 6.9 (in limited playing time), with 132 and .359 respectively.  I love Kike, but that is likely his ceiling.  He will likely post a wRC+ and wOBA closer to 105-115 and .320-.330 which are both still better than Kendrick.  And this is all ignoring is Micah Johnson can “figure it out” and translate his minor league successes (consistently a .380-.400+ wOBA and 150 wRC+) he will be excellent for us.
    Then you can expect more of first half type Grandal numbers (since you know, his shoulder in the second half pretty much was dead), Puig closer to 2014 (even though 2015 wasn’t altogether terrible and he still posted above average wOBA’s and wRC+’s), a more normalized season for Joc Pederson, and finally, and most importantly, a full season of Seager replacing an atrocious Rollins (80 wRC+, .280 wOBA, -6.8 UZR/150, -7 DRS).  Steamer, which is notorious for being really, really pessimistic has Seager at a 105 wRC+, .315 wOBA, and positive defensive contributions.  Altogether our lineup does indeed look better primarily because we had addition by subtraction, and adding one of the top three SS prospects of the last four years to our lineup.  Would it have been nice to add Upton or Cespedes?  Sure, but you can’t get everything, and you can’t help but think the Dodgers are preparing for the massive 2018 free agent class to spend on young talent becoming available in their primes.

  6. yarritsblake Blue58 Yarritsblake, I agree that if your scenario plays out the Dodgers will be quite good, but yours is a very optimistic projection, basically that everybody is going to be better, recover from their injuries, etc. I tend to be more pessimistic, I agree, and the most likely case is somewhere between.

    I am not familiar with all the statistics you cite, but for me the most important statistic for Utley is his age, 37, and I think it very unlikely he will be anything more than a good clubhouse presence. Ditto with McCarthy, who really has never been a very valuable pitcher. I do share your assessment of Anderson, who could be the most pleasant surprise on the team. He could rise to a number two pitcher for all the reasons you cite. Turner’s injury seems more serious than initially reported and he may not even be in the starting lineup on opening day.

    There are just too many question marks surrounding this team for me to be a believer as yet. I would break it down this way:

    Reasonable expectations: Seager is the real deal; Anderson has a good year, maybe a career year; Ryu recovers enough to be a solid competitor; Kazmir has similar numbers to last year; Grandal hits .250 with 20 home runs; Kershaw, Gonzalez, Turner do their usual thing.

    50-50: Puig remains the enigma wrapped in a conundrum, and maybe the key to their season. Can he recover his 2013, early 2014 form, or is he a lost cause? We find out this year. Trayce Thompson was seen by most scouts as a fourth outfielder, then hit well for the White Sox, looking very good. Which is he? Hernandez got better as last year progressed, which is a good sign, but he still had trouble hitting right handers. If he can even manage to hit .250 against righties and keeping raking against lefties, second base is his; Montas will start the year in AAA but could end the season either as a back-end starter or a set-up guy for Jansen. The White Sox obviously gave up on Micah Johnson, figuring Perzaza was their new second baseman. Were they right? We’ll see.

    Not likely: JoKKKK Pederson got worse as the season progressed and by September was totally overmatched. Since no one complained about his work ethic or his attitude (unlike Puig), we can assume he was doing his best. Why do we think he will be any better this season? I hope I’m wrong, but I think he’s just not good enough to hold down a full time job in MLB. Hatcher, Baez, Garcia and Frias are all fastball pitchers with poor secondary pitches and erratic control. Hitters sit on their fastball and when one comes down the middle, they cream it. Hatcher was good for one month and one of the worst pitchers in baseball before that. He’s got a lot to prove to me. Maybe one of them gets better, but all four? Not likely. Wood is just in his late 20s and already is losing velocity on his fastball. He’s a number five pitcher at best. If McCarthy does rejoin the rotation by mid season I expect most NL hitters will rejoice and most Dodger fans will be wishing he was back on the DL. Ethier is not likely to repeat his 2015 numbers.

    So, for me, best case scenario is a solid if unspectacular rotation behind Kershaw of Anderson, Maeda, Kazmir and Ryu; Kershaw is his usual otherworldly self; at least one of the right-handers in the bullpen steps up to be the set-up man for Jansen, with Montas coming to the rescue if needed; Puig blossoms into the star everyone thinks he can be; Hernandez and Johnson form a good platoon at second and hold down the leadoff spot; Seager is ROY and with Puig and Gonzales gives the team a powerful middle of the lineup; Roberts cobbles together a respectable left field representation from among Ethier, Crawford and Van Slyke; Pederson and/or Thompson play good defense and are not total rally killers at the plate. DeLeon and Cotton show up in September and look promising. Most crucially, all the key guys stay healthy.

  7. Ya. But don’t forgot. The Giants are also taking a huge risk by commuting money to two pitchers who have history of injuries. Plus the Giants are a lot older in the outfield than the Dodgers players are. I mean their whole outfield is getting up their in age. Besides Madbum and Posey and Giants don’t have anybody who scares you anymore. Their are just as many question marks in their starting rotation than the Dodgers have. Plus the Dodgers have a much better infield and much more depth on their roster where they will be able to withstand a serious injury for an extended period of time if that happens. And trust me. Over the course of a 162 game season you want to have plenty of depth stacked up on your roster. The Giants and Dbacks both don’t have anywhere near the depth on their roster to withstand a serious injury like the depth the Dodgers have on theirs. If any of those three pitchers the Giants or Dbacks signed to huge amounts of money with a serious injury for even a month or more they are in serious trouble. The Dodgers have put together the necessary amount of depth on their roster to withstand that and that to me is one huge difference why L.A will repeat as Division Champions once again. Plus I think Corey Seagar is going to be next great short stop in baseball. A cross between Ripken and Jeter and if that happens the Dodgers will be set at the position for a while. Dodgers should be fine this year. Should be a great baseball season. Can’t wait for spring training.

  8. RayBarsamian  Forget about the $$$ spent.  Is the Dodger starting rotation better than the Giants and DBacks?  I think in total they are better than the DBacks, but I am not sure about the Giants.  The Dodgers are certainly deeper, and that may mean better, but Cueto and Samardzija may make it through the year, and with Righetti as their pitching coach, I like their chances to improve (at least Samardzija).  So is Madbum , Cueto, Samardzija, Peavy, and Heston better than Kershaw, Kazmir, Maeda, Ryu, and Anderson?  Maybe, but if either team has any injuries, the Dodgers are in a much better position to weather it.

    Can we at least let Seager get through his rookie year before we start calling him a cross between one HOF SS and one soon to be HOF SS?

    The Dodgers could very well repeat, but they also could be a team that cannot make up the 16 game differential that Greinke gave LA in 2015.  I will go into the season as I always do…believing that the Dodgers will win the WS.  I just hope that this year will end up  different than the last 27 years.

  9. Blue58 yarritsblake 

    you make some very convincing arguments about the 2016 Dodgers.Forgetting any cash considerations, IMO the
    Dodgers are better with Greinke than without.With the lowly Braves and Phillies in the East, and Reds and Brewers in
    Central, it’s likely that neither of the two wildcard teams will come out of
    the West.Therefore the Dodgers are
    going to need to win the West in order to get to the Playoffs.So what are their chances?
    The Dodgers
    pitching rotation and bullpen is deeper.There is no denying that.And
    injuries do happen during the year.They
    Dodgers will be able to withstand the loss of any of the starters not named
    Kershaw, and any of the relievers not named Jansen. But going into the season, are the Dodgers
    better than the Giants?The Dodgers
    replaced Greinke, Wood, and Bolsinger/Frias with Ryu, Kazmir and Maeda.The 2015 trio was 15 games better than
    .500.Will the second three be 15 games better
    than .500?The Giants replaced Hudson
    and Heston/Leake with Cueto and Samardzija.The Giants 2015 duo was 3 games below .500.Will Cueto and Samardzija perform better than
    3 games below .500?
    Blue58, I
    agree about McCarthy.I do not know why
    people continue to say that the Dodgers are going to be better because McCarthy
    will be back by All-Star break.Even if
    he is, he is not going to be effective as a 7 inning starting pitcher.The best case for McCarthy is to get him to
    build arm strength for 2017.I do not
    agree with you about Pederson.Is he
    ever going to be a .300 hitter?No.But I also believe that he is better than
    .210.Royals fans wanted Moustakas off
    the roster, but at 26 something clicked and the Royals are glad they kept him.While it is not always indicative of what
    will happen, most baseball gurus considered Pederson at the very least a solid
    ML CF.Before we count him a bust, let’s
    at least give a 24 year old, who did hit 26 HR, a chance to redeem
    himself.  I think Roberts and Ward will help him far more than Mattingly and McGwire. If he continues to flounder to June, Thompson should be able to replace him with plenty of season remaining.

    Also, I disagree about
    Wood.He is not in his late twenties, he
    is 25.He is one year removed from a
    2.78 ERA as a 23 year old.  He is a kid
    who grew up in the South, played his college ball in the South, and was drafted
    by ATL.He was comfortable as a mid-rotation
    pitcher with the Braves, and then gets uprooted and told to report to the big
    city lights of LA in the middle of a pennant race.Could it be that he was just overwhelmed a bit
    as a 24 year old out of his element for the first time in his life?Again I will give him the benefit of the
    doubt until he proves that he can no longer pitch effectively.  I prefer to remember his one hitter (8 innings) against the Rockies, rather than NLDS  Game 3.
    Both LAD and
    SFG have a lot of questions.Have the
    Giants improved their team 8 more games than the Dodgers?On paper the Giants are probably better
    offensively and defensively (in total), but the game is not played on
    paper.We know Bochy is a tremendous
    manager, but he was there last year, so no improvement in game management.Roberts and his staff should absolutely be an
    improvement over Mattingly.The Giants
    pitching has improved.Has the Dodgers increased
    depth made up for the loss of Greinke?  I would feel much more comfortable with a lockdown 8th inning setup to get to Jansen.  Get Jake McGee or Brad Boxberger, and their chances improve greatly.  ST cannot come quickly enough.

  10. AlwaysCompete RayBarsamian Agree with you on the Rotation. With Turner not available for the start of Spring, micro-fracture surgery is NOT a simple clean out. And the 2nd base platoon of a guy that hit .212 and is 37 plus no real back up at SS I am very concerned with the Infield. Now Micah Johnson may win a roster spot but he is, by all account, not a good defensive presence. The one thing about the rotation with Anderson,Wood,Ryu Kazmir there are going to be a lot of ground balls. The infield needs to be top notch and with Turners knee, Utley’s age I am not confident.

  11. AlwaysCompete RayBarsamian If it all comes down to injuries, one can say that the Dodgers have better depth to weather injuries than the Giants, and because of that, are in a better position to be complete/competitive throughout the whole season.  Looking at a strict matchup basis, it gets very interesting.  Clearly Kershaw is better than Bumgarner, so the ace is ours.  Assuming Kazmir is our #2 throughout the season, then Cueto has the advantage as he has a longer, better track history of success.  If Ryu is indeed healthy and somewhat comparable to his 2013-2014 self, say 75% of what he was, he still outperforms Peavy.  Maeda, assuming a translation of stats comparable to Kuroda, outperforms their #4, which in my opinion will be Samarzidja.  And our #5 being Anderson is much better than Heston/Cain.  Just my two cents.  On a pure stats basis our guys put up better overall stats and have better WARs over the last few years.

    Also, saying Greinke gave us a 16 win differential is ludicrous.  It assumes that instead of Greinke we would have had a pitcher that contributed negative wins.  Yes Greinke won 16 games, but that doesn’t mean he netted us 16 more wins than a replacement level pitcher.  FanGraphs has his WAR at 5.9 and Baseball Reference rates him at 9.3.  Let’s meet halfway and say he was worth about 7.5 WAR – meaning he gave us roughly 7.5 wins above a replacement level player (AAA pitcher aka Zach Lee, Joe Wieland, etc) would have given us.

    1) Kershaw will be Kershaw.  Put up a roughly 8 WAR – no wins lost here.
    2) Kazmir for Greinke.  Kazmir approximately a 3.0 WAR player last year and the year before.  Let’s say he gives 2.5 WAR.  Greinke was about 7.5 last year, and lets say he puts up a WAR similar to 2013-2014 next year: about 4.0 WAR.  The is a -1.5 WAR loss trading Kazmir for Greinke, net -1.5 overall.
    3) Ryu for Anderson.  Anderson put up about a 1.5 WAR last year.  Lets say he matches that and outputs a tad better at 1.7 WAR this year.  Ryu, before injury was a 3.5 WAR pitcher.  As I said above, let’s assume he slips to 75% of what he was before.  The result?  A 2.6 WAR pitcher.  A gain of 0.9 WAR.  Still at a rotation net loss of -0.6 WAR.
    4) The combo of Carlos Frias, Mike Bolsinger, Alex Wood, and Mat Latos who made the bulk of starts as #4 and #5 pitchers last season, combined for a 2.5 WAR according to FanGraphs.  We are now looking at swapping in Brett Anderson, who I projected for 1.7 WAR, and Kenta Maeda.  Let’s assume Maeda posts a carbon copy WAR to Kuroda’s rookie season here: about 3.0 WAR. – shoot let’s even just say we get only 2.0 WAR from him.  That right there means we go from getting 2.5 WAR from #4-5 to getting 3.7 WAR from #4-5.  Gain of 1.2 WAR, net rotation gain of 0.6 WAR.  Then throw in the likelihood of Alex Wood, Bolsinger, Lee and McCarthy making starts too, resulting in about an additional 0.5 WAR (about what we got from spot starters last year), then we get a net gain of 1 win from our rotation.  

    This is all highly speculative, but looking at projected WAR for our starters this year, we are set to outpace last year because of our great depth.  So while we no longer have the great 1-2 punch, we are set to be better than last year (which was the second best starting rotation in the majors per WAR, ERA, and xFIP, and third in FIP.  The Giants meanwhile gained a solid guy in Cueto, but also gained a pitcher in Samarzidja who has seen his K/9 plummet four straight seasons, post an ERA south of 4.00 two out of the last four years, with a third near the 4.00 mark, slotted to be their #3 in their mind – when in reality he will pitch like a #4 in my opinion.  And have nothing changed in their #4 and #5 slots, with little depth beyond their #5 – Heston is pretty much it with Petit gone.  I’d say our rotation has the advantage.

  12. Blue58 yarritsblake Actually my projections for our starters, and assumptions, are based off Steamer projections primarily, which, as I said, are largely pessimistic.   Let’s look at your primary concerns: 2B, Puig, and Joc Pederson.  Second base I covered pretty largely above.  Overall Utley and Kike will put up roughly the same WAR as Kendrick did.  Do I expect Utley to go all retro on us?  No, but limiting his playing time, and playing to a platoon split can only help him.  And honestly, his defense will regress a tad, but it has remained pretty steady despite him suffering those knee injuries last year.  Steamer projects Kendrick for a 2.4 WAR, Utley at 0.9, and Kike at 1.2.  A net loss of -0.2 wins.  I am projecting Utley and Kike at better?  Sure, but I only have utley at 1.0 and Kike at 2.0 (slightly clearing last season’s WAR).  That nets us about half a win.  Interpret that how you will.

    As for Puig, Steamer is actually projecting him for a 4.1 WAR (4th best in the majors among RF’ers, and 7th for all OF’ers).  They have him playing 130 games, triple slashing .285/.359/.489, wOBA at .364, and wRC+ at 136.  I honestly only have him 3.0 WAR slashing lower than that.  So call my expectations tempered in this case, compared to the pessimistic Steamer.  Even if Puig is a 3.0 WAR player, he will double his WAR from last season, but still be below the 4.5 average WAR of 2013-2014.  

    As for Joc, I never suggested he would put up 1st half 2015 numbers.  I said somewhere in the middle would be good.  My honest assessment of his 2nd half collapse is fatigue over the course of the season, and the home run derby jacking with his swing mechanics (Todd Frazier had the same issues from the HR derby, as many have before post All-Star break).  His K% and BB% stayed the same (in fact his K/BB rate stayed exactly the same at 0.54), but his BABIP dropped 50 points from .282 (which actually is a little low in of itself) to .232, and numbers like his Soft Hit % doubled, In-Field Fly Ball rate doubled, HR/FB cut over half, all despite his FB% increasing a little.  Additionally his Soft Hit % doubled, and he was much less pull happy.  Now, if his ground-ball percentage and K% increased significantly, that would tell me pitchers were adjusting to him, getting him to swing over top of pitches, missing and rolling over grounders.  However, this is not the case.  The increase in FB% and Infield Fly Balls per Fly Balls percentage means he was swinging under pitches and popping them up.  What does that tell me?  The Home Run Derby most likely jacked his mechanics, and also because he was getting tired in the 2nd half (he did play 151 games – 30 more than 2014 in AAA) he was trying to generate more power by trying to loft pitches more.  He made the same contact, but it was different contact.  All this together results in Steamer projecting Joc for 3.0 WAR (a 0.2 increase from 2015) and a slash of .228/.340/.415, wOBA of .330 and wRC+ of 112.  I project him more around .245/.360/.450.  So I’m a little more optimistic than Steamer, but even so you can still clearly see that you shouldn’t be significantly worried about Joc based on his 1st/2nd half splits, and the story they tell.  

    Hope this helps answer any questions for you man! 😉  I always love explaining the why behind my projections and thoughts on stats and how/why I interpret them!

  13. yarritsblake AlwaysCompete RayBarsamian That’s a reasonable projection but it assumes Ryu fully recovers, Maeda pitches well despite his elbow “irregularities” and the Anderson pitches two straight years without injury for the first time in his career. But I get you, depth makes up for the lack of an overpowering pitcher.

    I also agree the Giants have just as many question marks as the Dodgers. The best thing going for the Dodgers is that they are in the West and not the Central or East, where all the good teams are. I thought Span was a good pickup for them, a good centerfielder between two bad fielders in left and right and a genuine leadoff man, which the Dodgers sorely lack. But they took on big risks with Cueto and Samazridja. Basically, they are gambling that they are both good National League pitchers who struggled in the AL. But all the indicators are pointing down on Samarzidja and Cueto is an injury risk and inconsistent. I’m glad the Dodgers passed on both of them. The Giants also are betting that Cain comes back big, which is not a bet I would take. Their offense, however, might be better than the Dodgers, if Panik and Duffy are as good as they seemed in their rookie years.

    The D-backs have an impressive rotation 1-3 and nothing after that, the best hitter in the league in Goldschmidt and a terrific player in Pollack but not much else.

    Still, both the Giants and Diamondbacks stepped up and tried to improve their major league team in significant ways while the Dodgers were happy to take incremental steps. We’ll see how it plays out.

    I have a feeling that for all the discussion and projections that Dodgers season success depends more than anything else on Yasiel Puig.

  14. Blue58 yarritsblake Also you have many errors in your statements, which, no offense, can easily destroy credibility in what you say, and not allow you to make effective points.  Peraza went to the Reds, not the White Sox.  Johnson is third on our depth chart for 2B, unless he really impresses in Spring Training to the point of pushing aside to proven major-leagers aside (highly doubt it).  Johnson, though not as speedy, is still a speedster capable of stealing 30-40 bags.  And even better than Peraza, he has much better minor league offensive stats on the whole than Peraza.  His wOBA’s and wRC+’s and triple slashes have consistently outperformed Peraza.  Peraza has better defense though.  Also, Wood is only 25, not in his late 20s and 6th on our depth chart.  

    Oh, why can’t Ethier repeat last year, just curious?  Having a slash of .280/.345/.420 isn’t unreasonable, and is even a step back.  He can still hit 12-15 HR, drive in and score around 50-60 runs apiece, and still play average defense.  I mean, it isn’t like Ethier went all 2009-Ethier on us last year.  He had a great average helped by a much improved BABIP, and his power numbers weren’t much higher than the previous few years (save 2014). 

    Plus, we have good outfield depth in Van Slyke, Crawford, and Thompson (assuming all stay with the team).

  15. yarritsblake Blue58 Yes, I realized I messed up on Peraza and meant to go back and correct but didn’t. I know Johnson is third on the depth chart, but as I said I expect nothing of Utley. My best case scenario is for one of the younger guys, Hernandez or Johnson, or a platoon of both, takes over second at some point (maybe June) and gives the team some speed in the leadoff position. The fact that Wood is 25 and losing velocity on his fastball is even worse than if he was in his late 20s. Also, he’s penciled in as the fifth starter if Ryu is not ready by opening day or if Maeda’s elbow blows up.

    My hunch on Ethier is that at his age he’s more likely to decline than improve, but the Dodgers have many outfield options and probably can get something respectable in left.

  16. Blue58 yarritsblake AlwaysCompete RayBarsamian Indeed, its all about those injuries – how well players bounce back, and how many avoid the injury bug.  We got bit heavily by the injury bug last year, but still managed to win the West.  As I said, I feel our rotation will overall be better and has better depth, our bullpen will be better simply from addition by subtraction, and I am expecting a more consistent offense, with less emphasis on the long-ball and throwing in a little more speed/station-to-station/small ball emphasis based on Roberts being the manager.

  17. Thank you everyone for a great discussion… Heard an interview of Anderson end of year. He said he flat ran out of gas the end of the year. He also said this will be the first winter in a long time that he is not rehabbing from an injury. So he plans to work on stamina and plans to be able to go deeper in the game and finish the year strong. Anderson was at one time thought to become a dominant pitcher. Then he had one weird injury after another. If this guy reverts back to health and has built up some strength he will be a very strong pitcher. Plus I like his sense of humor…LOL
    I like our rotation. I wish we would have kept Greinke but that is water under the bridge…
    I will be at Spring Training for a few days curious to see Maeda, Thoimpson, Micah Johnson and Seager….
    I am still not sold on Joc…. He has never been a contact guy and with much better pitching and his stubbornness I think he is back in the Minors or traded by the end of the year… Look at his stats the last half Man he was bad and never really pulled out of it…

  18. Blue58 yarritsblake Yeah, LF is definitely the “weak” spot in the OF.  I was kind of hoping we’d take a chance on Upton since we really don’t have any prospects within three years of meaningfully contributing at the major league level.  We have plenty in the lower minors (Verdugo, Yusniel Diaz, Starling Heredia), and I am realllllllly hoping we continue to break the bank on the international market by signing that 16 year old, Lazaro Armenteros (aka Lazarito).  We also have a couple toolsy, raw, OF’ers in Scavuzzo and Walker within our top 30 prospects.  Scavuzzo’s tools and development reminds me a lot of Matt Kemp’s.  If Scavuzzo continues to fill out, and his tools and raw talent translate into development, we could be looking at a Matt Kemp 2.0 type player.

  19. yarritsblake Blue58 The Mets made a good deal with Cespedes. He strikes out too much, doesn’t walk enough, but three years for $75 million with a one year opt out would have made sense for the Dodgers, especially since he surely would opt out barring injury. Upton strikes out too much for me, especially with the long term contract. My guess is the Dodgers never really considered Cespedes and so they missed out on a good contract. 

    I’m thinking a lineup with Turner, Seager, Puig, Gonzalez, Cespedes back-to-back generates some offense; much more so than Turner, Seager, Puig, Gonzales, Ethier/Crawford/Van Slyke.
    Oh well.

  20. I think the Dodgers pitching situation will work itself out with the good pitching the team has in their farm system coming up.  I hope the new manager and hitting instructor will bring improvements with our hitters and be more intelligent in different game situations.

  21. Blue58 yarritsblake Really?  You’d prefer Cespedes over Upton?  Short and long term?  I mean, sure the probable one year commitment as apposed to six years to Upton looks attractive, but Cespedes doesn’t strike out significantly less to make a major difference to me.  Upton has almost always been good for about a 10%+ walk rate, and around a 25% K rate.  Cespedes is about 5% and 20% respectively.  Sure he strikes out less, but he walks about less than half the time Upton does.  Furthermore, Upton has consistently posted higher wOBA’s and wRC+’s than Cespedes.  He also can steal around 15 bags giving him some baserunning value.  Cespedes played out of his mind in the second half last year, but even with that, most people are expecting him to regress back towards career norms.  Upton will continue to play like he always has, which is better than Cespedes as an offensive presence.

  22. yarritsblake AlwaysCompete RayBarsamian  I recognize that ignoring any possible replacement for Greinke is not realistic.  And I am really not ignoring it, but trying hard to determine how they can make it up.  Admittedly I do not fully understand how all of the sabermetrics are calculated, but based upon what you stated above it appears that you (or sabermetrics) consider Greinke only a 1.5 game better than Kazmir.  I am sorry, but with  all due respect, I do not buy that.  Greinke will not replicate what he did in 2015, but I do not see how he is only a 1.5 games better than Kazmir (and I think well of Kazmir).

    I am not as worried about Cueto because I would not bet on him finishing the season.  But Samardzija is another story.  Righetti has stated that he has spotted something in Shark’s delivery, and believes he can help him.  Shark’s K’s have diminished, but he throws a heavy sinker and will get benefit from both AT&T and Brandon Crawford.  I hope I am wrong, but I see him improving at SF.

    All rotations suffer some injury.  The benefit (big advantage) the Dodgers have is their depth.  I agree, Peavy/Cain/Heston as #4, #5, and #6 and nothing really after that.  So the Giants have to hope that their rotation stays healthy.  Over a 162 game schedule that is a lot to hope for.  They also do not have the depth in their farm to make meaningful improvements at the ML level.

    I acknowledge the Giants have a lot of questions, but so does LA.  It’s the team that responds the best to those questions who will win the West.

  23. Blue58 yarritsblake AlwaysCompete RayBarsamian  I am  not as concerned with the DBacks even with Greinke and Shelby Miller.  Patrick Corbin still has to prove himself, and they have no #4 or #5.  They do have Goldschmidt and Pollock, but IMO your forgot about David Peralta, also a good offensive player.  And while Owings, Ahmed, and Lamb are not very good offensively, they are better than LA defensively.  For the life of me, I do not understand why AZ does not sign Kendricks.  They spend what they did on Greinke ($$$) and Miller (prospects), lose Enciarte, and will not go all out and sign a huge offensive upgrade at 2B, and add veteran leadership?  If  I was a DBacks fan, I would not be happy.

    While I think Puig will have a major positive or negative influence on LAD, I think how Seager plays in a 162 game schedule, and whether Joc can  re-learn how to hit will also be big factors.  I also think that game strategy differences between Roberts and Mattingly could generate more runs for LAD, especially WRISP.  If the Dodgers can get that 8th inning lockdown  setup, maybe Kershaw does not have to pitch as many innings this year.

    Maybe the Dodgers can convince Kershaw to extend, and offer that Baez will never come in relief for him.

  24. The Dodgers have a triple A rotation that a lot of teams would love to have on their major league roster. I think at some point in the season Alex Wood will be a long reliever and Montas will come up as a reliever too. Second base will sort it self out too, and don’t forget about Micah Johnson who I think could be the lead-off batter we desperately need. The outfield goes thur this every year and every year we are glad we had all the guys. So take a step back, no I think our roster is coming along according to plan. TRUST our front office, its the best in the league, hands down!!

  25. We need to remember that we didn’t go to the WS with Kershaw and Greinke, so it’s good to see what we can do with our new Manager and rotation.

  26. blue0622 Yes but the real problem the last few years has been the Offense in the playoffs. They cannot get the tight run. They do not move runners over they have had men on and in scoring position with less than two outs and not been able to score… It is a consistent failure. IT is the main reason they have been under .500 when they play over .500 teams…

  27. “All the Dodgers need out of those two starters is to be about equal to
    the production Greinke produced, and the rest will take care of itself …”

    so the dodgers need Maeda or Kazmir to finish 2nd in Cy Young voting in 2016…..rigggghhhttt…

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