Is the Dodgers’ A.J. Pollock Move a Good Thing?

Here it is – the Dodgers’ big off-season move: grabbing A.J. Pollock.

Was dropping Yasiel Puig for Pollock worth it? That’s not really the right question.

 

 

Oscar Martinez

Oscar Martinez

I was born in the shadow of Dodger Stadium and immediately drenched in Dodger Blue. Chavez Ravine is my baseball cathedral, Vin Scully was the golden voice of summer all my life, and Tommy Lasorda remains the greatest Dodgers manager ever. My favorite things are coffee, beer, and the Dodgers beating the Giants. I also blog about my baseball card hobby at All Trade Bait, All the Time.

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29 thoughts on “Is the Dodgers’ A.J. Pollock Move a Good Thing?

  1. In my estimation, it beats spending all that money on just one player….Harper. I also think it makes the defense up the middle a lot better….and then there was one. Joc is the only one left.

  2. For some reason I think Joc stays. They have hung with him and hung with him and hung with him, he is just really starting to put it together. I don’t know his contract details but it seems like Joc is going to be around a while longer.

    Michael, why would you say that Bellinger’s natural position is 1B? Bellinger’s natural position is just about any place he is put on the field. Very fast, great arm, great glove on both the IF and OF, good baseball mind, runs the bases well, what more do you want. If anything his talents are being wasted at 1B (even though he is great there). I think you better rethink about old Bellinger, shyte he could probably pitch if asked to.

    1. Because that is where he got his start and that is where he is the most valuable. Muncy is a defensive liability at 1st. Freese is serviceable. Yes, he can play the outfield well and he is speedy. But that length he has when playing 1st is one of his best assets. He is a great stretch and scoop player. With Seager coming back from and injury to his shoulder, they need that kind of player over there. Muncy cannot make those kinds of saves. Also, the only injury Bellinger has suffered in the big’s, he got while playing RF. He is far too valuable to risk him running into a wall and being injured for any length of time. He is Gil Hodges like over there and that in my mind is where that guy belongs. We will have to agree to disagree on this. His fielding percentage at 1st is much better than in the OF, and although he has a good arm, he only had 2 assists out there. Every one remembers the one from the playoffs. But I want the guy in a position where he can make the most impact on a game, and that is first base,

  3. He can make the biggest impact on a game at 1st base. He is the best option there. Muncy is a defensive liability. He is not really good at digging balls out of the dirt and his range is limited. Freese is adequate. But Bellinger’s fielding percentage at 1st is much better than in the OF. The only injury he sustained since he was called up was in Detroit playing RF. He is far to valuable to risk running into walls and being out for any length of time. Just look what happened to Toles. Even though he has a decent arm, he had only 2 assists out there last year. Playing first there is a good chance he is on the receiving end of every ground ball play in the game. In the OF, he may only get a couple of chances. He is such a good defender that he needs to be where he makes the biggest impact and that’s at first. We will have to agree to disagree on this.

    1. I tend to agree with you, Michael. Cody at 1B is the best of all options. It secures 1B while Pollack secures CF. But, we will still platoon in the OF with Joc/Taylor/Kike in LF. And, at 2B with Taylor/Kike. I don’t see Muncy at 2B, but in a pinch I could live with it. I do have concerns with getting Muncy PT. His bat is valuable as we all saw last year. I don’t think the Dodgers are committed to Toles and would be willing to package him in some trade scenario.

      1. Jeff, platoon is what this team does, but unlike most people, I do not think Muncy comes anywhere close to last years numbers. As a matter of fact, I believe that he will do a Chris Taylor and regress. How much is the question. But I doubt he hits 30 homers again. The league is ready for him this time. His defense is suspect anywhere you put him. 3rd is the worst. It is weird because you are so right about Toles. I rarely see his name mentioned even in the platoon question. There are all sorts of rumors floating right now. More involve Joc than Toles, but you never know. I do know that the Padres have jumped into the Machado and Realmuto sweepstakes. Marlins want Padres #1 catching prospect in return for Realmuto. Machado looking more and more like he is heading to Chicago.

    2. Two things – 1. It doesn’t matter to you that first base is far easier to play, and far less valuable sabermetrically than center or right and 2. Are you not the least bit concerned that for the first time in his career Pollock had a negative UZR/150 in center last year?

      You keep repeating “Bellinger is the best option for first base”, and while I agree with that I can’t help but think of all the slugs that have been put over there through the years because that is where you hide your worst fielders who can hit. Ted Kluszewski played there. Dick Stuart, Marv Throneberry, Adam Dunn, Joey Votto, Steve Bilko… hell we put Garvey over there as a last resort.

      I say again, the Dodgers are the only team in organized baseball that has their fastest player at first base. It’s a waste of athleticism.

      1. Well, you make a lot of sense there Ol Buddah! But, everyone is predicating this on Muncy being the Muncy of 2018. I do not think he is going to be anywhere near that player. I think it was a fluke. Taylor did not repeat his year because the league adjusted to him. I think exactly that same thing happens with Muncy. He starts off the year in a slump and he is off to AAA. How long will they stick with him if he is not raking the ball? You cannot predict this stuff, and I know I cannot predict him being less of success than last year. But my gut says he regresses a lot.

      2. Badger,

        The reasons I say that Bellinger is the best option for 1B is twofold. He is a very good 1Bman and there is no reason not to play someone there that is not a ‘slug’. Add to this the fact that we have acquired a career CFielder in Pollock and have two other guys in the OF who could cover CF fairly easily, Joc & Taylor, and possibly Kike. We have options.

        As far as speed goes, Pollock, Taylor, and Kike are not slow. I don’t believe athleticism is wasted at any position, be it infield or outfield. C may be the exception, being a rather sedentary job. Even that can be argued.

        Perhaps you are more concerned about Pollock not showing up in his former incarnation as a gold glover rather than concerned about wasting Bellinger? We can’t know this at this point. We have to wait and see. If Bellinger remains in CF, Pollock will probably play LF, with Verdugo in RF. 1B then becomes the position of concern. There is no one other than Bellinger at 1B who will be able to do it all there. Freese and Muncy are not natural 1bmen. Being able to play there, as you say, is the easiest of all positions. But it’s the more difficult demands of the position that Belli can do well and the others cannot do well.

        Muncy has played 2B more than any other position in his career, I believe. But no one would call him a natural 2Bman. For me, getting him PT should be important to the Dodgers because of his production, not insignificant by any means. I disagree with Michael’s certainty that Muncy will suffer regress and have a poor showing. Sure there is a possibility of it happening, just like Belli and Taylor, both who picked themselves up by the end of the season, btw. Muncy’s slugging was exceptional and how do you not give a guy like that PT to prove that it was not a fluke? The FO would love nothing more than to be proven right in their assessment of him. There is a lot of hustle in him.

        This season will be shaped offensively on how Seager comes back, along with the bats of Turner, Pollock, Verdugo, and the help of Muncy and our utility guys(aka ‘the platoon boys’).

        1. Jeff, I can honestly say most here would certainly hope all the obsessive compulsive platooning will stop. Also Bellinger does fit best at 1st, as in the opinion of many, he’s already a Gold Glove there and we already have several OF options without Cody having to go back and forth between the OF and 1st.

  4. Pollock officially now a Dodger. Roster is at 40, so any additions will have to be by subtraction…..meaning a trade or DFA or release of a player now on the 40 man. Leading candidates for DFA or release, Brock Stewart and Yimi Garcia. Trade candidates abound with only a couple of untouchables. Welcome to LA AJ! Wish you nothing but success. Because if you are successful, most likely the Dodgers will be too.

  5. Don’t waste speed, speed kills, mo fasta mo betta. There is no such thing as fast enough. Don’t blow speed on 1B or on the basepaths (another thing that Roberts rarely takes advantage of )

  6. I see there there are 2 arguments regarding where Bellinger plays best and I happen to concur with Michael here as far as 1st base being where Bellinger serves Dodgers best. But what nobody here has brought up was that the constant switching of positions with Bellinger from 1st base to OF , back to 1st base and on and on can affect his offense and I believe that was part of Bellinger’s issues last year. I also believe Muncy will regress but right now, coming off last year his trade value might be good to consider him in a deal. And please, please, let’s not consider Verdugo as the 2nd coming of Lou Gehrig or Ted Williams, and if it takes him to be part of a deal for Realmuto then OK by me.

    1. I get it. There’s no wrong place to play Bellinger. And Jeff is right about our abundance of outfielders. Personally I’d trade some of that for pitching since we signed Pollock. The way the roster shapes up today we have 4 starting outfielders …. and Toles. The 4 – Pederson, Pollock, Bellinger and Verdugo, Taylor starts at second and Muncy/Freese at first. ALL of those guys deserve to start. If you move Bellinger to first, what do you do with Muncy? Second base? And move Taylor out? Please. I thought for sure the Dodgers would sell high on Muncy. I too don’t see another .973 year out of him. I think he has AL written all over him.

      No easy answers here. But, there is White and Wong. Sorry Bear.

  7. Well the OF gets even more crowded when you read this quote I found from Roberts regarding the use of Pollock:

    Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is known for mixing and matching his players, often moving guys around to get the proper platoon advantage. Roberts said the right-handed hitting Pollock should be an everyday player in center, as long as he’s healthy.

    “I don’t think you go out and sign a guy like that to even bring in the word platoon,” Roberts said.

    So, if Roberts is being honest and has gotten the approval of the FO to actually play Pollock on an everyday basis in CF, does that mean Bellinger has to be the everyday 1B? In all honesty, if that is the case, Muncy will need to be moved, there is no way his terrible defense can be tolerated at 2B, unless he hits at least one HR every game. However, can Pollock stay healthy? He has been injured badly each of the last three seasons.

    1. I also read this article quoting Roberts, this morning. It seems that is the answer to the platooning question at CF as Bellinger will be moved back to first. Of course, this doesn’t answer the question about who will play LF. Perhaps the movement away from platooning will open up a serious competition for a permanent LFielder. I’m assuming the Verdugo will be in RF.

      This leaves the question about who will play 2B. Muncy, Taylor, and Kike, seem to be thought of as the platoon squad for 2B. Nothing has changed to make me feel that they will give the job to Taylor. In fact, it seems Kike has earned the job there and I wouldn’t argue if they decided to give it to him. He’s as good as any of the others and maybe better there. His bat has also woken up. We’ll have to see how things play out in ST.

      Bench guys are always used for situations calling for PH, resting starters, and injuries. A good team needs them and having guys like Freese, Muncy, Joc, & Taylor are pretty nice pieces to have, IMO. If needs be, any of them can be included in a promising trade, but I think they are all staying unless that special deal presents itself. And, we will have to live with the C position being what it is, for the time being. If our future C is in the minors polishing his game, you keep him ready down there to join the team in any emergency this season. There is nothing permanent about Martin and Barnes at C.

      The Dodger pitching is in much better shape than what the fans think. The rotation is better and I think the relieving will have a different feel this season. A lot was learned last year. I like the open sense the Dodgers had to the army that they auditioned. Some are gone, some have been moved around. The bridge to Jansen seems closer to finally being repaired and so does Jansen, according to his interview I read today. He feels great and has been cleared to play even in Denver!

      It will be interesting to also see where Urias lands. Starter or bullpen? Stripling, starter or bullpen? Maeda is the only piece who is questionable, IMO. Two seasons in a row, he has wound up in the pen. He has shown nothing much more than a .500 starter, but if used wisely in the pen, may be a very tough addition to that squad. ST should be a very interesting one this year.

  8. There will always be disagreement among us. Not everyone thinks the same way. but I think we all can agree that Stan Kasten basically shot himself in the foot at Fan Fest and drew the ire of Dodger Nation. He was defending the lack of spending and trying to stay under the CBT and said fans here would rather have the majority of their team home grown. That part was probably true. But the fans do not care about the CBT, and LA is a star driven town. There is one true star on the Dodgers and he is fading. You have a couple of kids who could in all likelihood blossom into huge stars. Seager and Bellinger. Ruiz could probably become that type of player since he is being compared by some to Yadier Molina. Buehler is very talented and on the brink of becoming the staffs ace. If Urias ever gets totally healthy, he can be the same type of guy. But the rest of this team? It is a collection of utility players and a couple players who are very good. If they all have peak years, this team could very easily go to the series. One or two hiccups by major pieces and it all goes down the toilet.

  9. I don’t think there is anything wrong with utility players. I don’t understand the disparaging way of thinking about them. Every team utilizes them, every team needs them to produce. In this day and age, putting a star at every position is nigh impossible unless your pockets are deep and you only care about winning. Even then, the chances of putting a star at every position is slim, at best. You cannot win without utility players and the Dodgers have excelled at finding them and giving them PT. Guys like Muncy, Kike, Joc, Taylor & Freese have helped us win and get to the WS. Are they less important than stars like Turner & Seager? I don’t think so. You need both.

    In this highly conditioned athletic age, injury is the most divisive factor in a team that is on the winning path. The fine tuning that athletes now have is a razor’s edge. A tweak here and there can be fatal. Many players have injuries that they are playing through. No team is ever 100%, not at this level. This is the #1 concern I have for this team in getting a consistent effort from all its starters, both pitchers and batters. If the Dodgers paid attention to their training-conditioning-medical staff, we would see a healthier resistance to the kinds of tweaks that hampered Puig and others throughout each season. Some bodies are just not resistant enough. This is a major issue throughout pro sports.

    1. Never said they were not needed. Getting them enough playing time to produce is the hardest challenge for Roberts. My point is that this is a big market team. The fans in LA want stars. The more the merrier. I do not expect all stars at every position, the payroll would be over 500 million for something like that. But I do get tired, and so do most fans of the constant dumpster diving tactics used by Andy. You honestly expect Muncy to repeat last years numbers? I believe that is wishful thinking. Bellinger regressed, Taylor regressed a lot. Hernandez and Pederson improved. Barnes regressed a lot. Grandal was stagnant. They lost Seager and because of Taylor’s lack of production, they had to go get Machado. He regressed when he came over. Puig played pretty much the same as the year before. Kemp kept them in the race up until the all star break. He played about as well as he had in years. His reward? On the bench most of the time in the second half and a trade in the winter. I knew they would not retain Machado. The guys attitude sucks big time. And seeing the mandate to stay under the CBT, I did not expect them to go after Harper or any other high priced free agent. Andy is pretty much an open book now. We all know how he operates. Every now and then he will surprise you with an off the wall move. Kelly was that kind of deal. But he pretty much sticks to what he knows. Your statement about training and conditioning is pretty much on the money. But guys who normally have had problems with that, did not really lose time last year to injury. Puig had a very minor tweak early in the year, but Kemp who supposedly has a chronic hammy problem was healthy all year. He came to the team in the best shape he had been in since 2012. More than anything fans in LA want that final win. The game 7 victory lap, and so far the scrubs and the few stars they do have have dissapointed them in that task.

    2. Another thing about Friedman, that’s quite predictable, is that he signs players who are injury prone to multi year contracts. Because he’s hunting for a discount and this tactic hasn’t really panned out much since he’s been here, because those players end up being injured and then we have to spend more or make trades to fill the gap.

      I think we will have to keep Toles around, and like it or not Bellinger will play some CF this year, because I do not think Pollock is durable.

      1. When is someone going to give some kudos to the FO for 6 years of playoffs and 2 WS trips? People view most things with blinders on. They have an image of how they want things to be and anything short of that brings anguish. I remember years ago when Steinbrenner was always criticized for buying his victories with prime players at the top or near it. That’s what I hear on this board. You want the Dodgers to be the Yankees. Yankees did not go to the WS the last two years, did they? What happened? They tried to buy their way to the top. It takes more than acquiring these kinds of players to do it these days. It is a much more complex issue than ever before. Is Friedman a magician, hiring the walking wounded and winding up in the WS? No one here has ever recogonized what the FO has achieved. This is not to say I agree with everything they’ve done. Call it luck, I don’t care. Just begin to recognize what this club has achieved with this FO in place.

        1. If the Yankees were in the National League they would have gone to the World Series twice.

          Friedman is what he is. Some of it works, much of it doesn’t. I’ve recognized what he has done. He was handed a great team and a top minor league system and he hasn’t completely f’d it up.

        2. The FO gifted the Yankees’ turn around and the Cubs WS title.

          I don’t get why some people ignore what Friedman was given by Colleti and Logan White when he started. If he had wanted to slash payroll he should have let more of the kids play earlier instead of picking up injury prone vets. And several of the difference makers were in fact the kids, like Seager, Bellinger and Muncy. Their evaluation of vets are very much below average.

          But like Badger said, they didn’t F it up.

          1. I don’t buy the Coletti era as being necessarily better than the Friedman era. Coletti collected major talent and major payroll. They had some powerhouse players and still couldn’t advance into the playoffs on a consistent basis. Friedman stepped in and began knocking off the top players with exaggerated salaries and still got them into the playoffs every year while using the walking wounded and what have you. He immediately got the team younger and began dipping into the farm system rather than trading for overpriced talent. Coletti was a big splash guy.

            Not only have the Dodgers changed since Friedman took over, but the game has changed, maybe more so than at any other time in my lifetime. Analytics rule and it is not going away at any time soon. It is obviously a tool that FO’s find useful even though its emotional value may be quite low for fans. Personally, I’d like to see a few major acquisitions like many other fans. We all want stars, but if the Dodgers keep winning like they have been doing, I call this success. Hopefully, we’ll get a WS under our belt and quiet the critics which are mostly the fans who are usually too emotionally invested in their own dreams to settle for reality.

          2. Colletti was dreadful, IMO.

            Nobody ignores what the current front office was given, instead they seem to ignore how the current front office has successfully promoted the good prospects inherited and traded off the poor ones (Zach Lee, anyone?) Prospects are just that. They are exceedingly young (international ones especially), they are lottery tickets.

            Good management utilizes assets as best as possible. It doesn’t just acquire them.

            There have been some mistakes, but that’s because there are always mistakes.

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