We are approaching Memorial Day which is the quarter mark of the 2016 season. Memorial Day is always a good time to reevaluate your baseball club and start to consider moves to make that would improve your team. So far through the first quarter of the season, the Dodgers have played very poorly. They’ve sucked, and the front office has done nothing to address the issues. Unless you want to count Chin-hui Tsao as an improvement.
So far I think the Andrew Friedman/Farhan Zaidi regime has been an underwhelming failure. Notorious sabermetricians the duo has taken their small market mentality and ruined what once was a 94-win ball club, turning them into what they are now which is essentially a .500 team. They could actually be worse. Or they could be better. What it really boils down to has nothing to do with sabermetrics.
Sure I love to make fun of the front office on twitter and post pictures of old computers. The truth is that while they do rely heavily on data, the front office’s failures to build a good club this year boil down to two problems; inexperience, and egotism.
They rebuilt the club in their image when coming over because they wanted to show everyone how smart they were. We routinely hear that from everyone. “They’re smarter than you”. “These guys have a vision that you just don’t understand”. If they were so smart you would think they would be able to build a better bullpen. Smart people can see how bad Chris Hatcher is.
So I regularly hear from people that I should offer solutions. The front office supporters will say, “Why don’t you tell us what you would do to make the club better”? That would be my pleasure. So here is what I would do to make this Dodger team better, right now without making any trades or signing any players via free agency.
Note that many of these moves would be marginal improvements. Don’t expect for the Dodgers to all of a sudden have the best record in baseball if they made the moves I am going to suggest. Perhaps they would suck a little less though and become more competitive. And that is the point. Suck less. Play better. Some of the moves may seem obvious, while others may not. Of course I can just type “Call up Julio Urias” and then drop the keyboard and walk away. I have to give more than that.
The pitching staff
In order to fix the pitching staff the Dodgers are not only going to need immediate talent, but also innings. A big problem is that Scott Kazmir, Alex Wood, and Ross Stripling are unable to pitch past the fifth or sixth innings. That leads to increased stress on an already awful bullpen. The easiest solution is to call up Julio Urias. Move Stripling, and Mike Bolsinger into the bullpen.
Call up Julio Urias, and move Stripling, Bolsinger into the bullpen.
The Dodgers have been considering calling Urias up for some time now. While they hem and haw and twiddle their thumbs he continues to dominate the Pacific Coast League. What has he pitched now 28 consecutive scoreless frames? I think he has a 1.10 ERA? This kid is obviously ready to come up and is very talented. The talk has been to use him out of the bullpen because the club is very scared that he may blow his arm out. He’s very young and the club has been careful to set major pitch count limitations on him. I am going to go on a limb and say that it’s ok to use him in the rotation. Why break his normal routine of pitching every fifth day? Using him in the rotation would give the Dodgers a great number 3 starter behind Clayton Kershaw, and Kenta Maeda. The club would then have a solid 1-2-3 in the rotation, instead of just two starting pitchers and a bunch of fifth inning strugglers. Here is what the rotation would look like with Urias in it, without Hyun-jin Ryu.
Rotation with Hyun-jin Ryu
The rotation is going to be even better once Ryu returns from injury. When you do call up Urias, just make sure he doesn’t go over 90 pitches. Watch him carefully. You can’t act scared. He’s going to make some mistakes, but his unique talent should come through. The Dodger rotation would be a lot better.
Fixing the mess that is the Dodger’s bullpen is going to be the most difficult. It’s such a disaster that there is little we could do to make it into the shutdown pen the Dodgers need to reach deep into October. What we are looking to do is to make it a little better. The only way I see to do this right now at this point in the season is addition by subtraction. That means cutting the dead weight. Getting rid of the terrible pitchers and replacing them with serviceable ones. Doing that would mean a huge upgrade.
DFA Chris Hatcher
Option Pedro Baez
It’s no surprise that the two relievers struggling the most are the guys that are the converted pitchers. Not every player can be a pitcher just because they can throw hard. Kenley Jansen is an exception. He’s an incredibly rare find. Hatcher has absolutely no pitchability. His pitching mechanics are terrible, and his command is spotty at best. We could spout off BABIP and release points all day long but the problem is he’s just not suited to be a pitcher. I would say the Dodgers are better off just designating him for assignment. Trust me nobody would ever claim him, and he would probably clear waivers and end up back at Oklahoma City. That’s fine by me I guess. There’s no way he can continue wasting a roster spot any longer. He’s a nice guy, but this is baseball and tough decisions have to be made.
Baez has to go too. His command is just as bad if not worse than Hatcher’s is. I believe Baez has options so he can just be sent back to the minors to work on his problems. With those two guys off the roster you can insert two pitchers to take their place.
Insert Mike Bolsinger and Ross Stripling into the bullpen.
Bolsinger and Stripling could both pitch as long men, or possibly in the eighth innings. They couldn’t do any worse than Hatcher or Baez. This might work out really well for Stripling because of his pitch count limitations. If Stripling can’t go more than 80 pitches in a start, then there is no reason to keep him in the rotation. The Dodgers need innings as much as they need anything else. Here’s what the bullpen would look like after the change.
Kenley Jansen CL
J.P. Howell LHP
Adam Liberatore LHP
At some point Yimi Garcia will come back. I am also assuming that Frankie Montas will eventually make his debut as well. Those guys should certainly help. Until that happens this is the best way to make the bullpen a little better. When Ryu returns, you could also move Alex Wood to the bullpen and DFA Blanton too.
Moving onto the offense. The Dodger’s offense has been the biggest disappointment this season. The club ranks at the bottom of the league in almost every offensive category. The Dodgers rank 18th in batting (.244), 13th in runs scored (188), 18th in home runs (41), 21st in OPS (.702), 19th in OBP, and 24th in slugging (.388). Those numbers are not going to cut it. The biggest concern with the bats is the team’s inability to hit and score runs at Dodger Stadium. Their home and road splits are quite astonishing. On the road the Dodgers are hitting .264 and rank sixth in runs scored (109). However at home, they rank 26th in batting (.223) and 19th in runs scored (74). I have no idea why the Dodgers can’t hit at home. The only possible theory that I can come up with is that the club just doesn’t see the ball well at home. Otherwise I can’t explain why 13 hitters come up goose egg every home stand.
One thing that could help the Dodger offense is better lineup creation. The first thing that we need to do is remove some more flotsam from the roster. In order to do that we need to….
Release Carl Crawford
This is a long time coming. Unfortunately the time has passed for Crawford being a productive MLB player. He is unable to stay healthy, can’t hit, and has no throwing arm. He’s a liability on both sides of the ball and is just wasting another roster spot. I don’t mean DFA him. Release him. Eat the salary. The Dodgers have to cut bait at this point.
In Crawford’s place I would like to see Rob Segedin get a shot. He’s batting .322 at Oklahoma City and can play multiple positions. They could call up Austin Barnes again which I would be fine with. They could also recall Charlie Culberson or even call up a guy like O’koyea Dickson. Just get rid of Crawford and call up somebody from triple-A.
As for lineup creation the best hitters need to be batting at the top of the lineup. This means no more lineup shuffling. no more platooning. Guys have a hard time getting into grooves when they don’t know when or where they are playing from day to day. This is how the lineup should look.
The kids are the guys carrying the offense right now. You have to put them at the top of the lineup. Adrian Gonzalez should bat third, as he is still the most consistent hitter on the club in my opinion. Puig and Kendrick can bat behind Gonzo and the kids. Gonzo needs proper lineup protection. You have probably noticed that Justin Turner is not in there. That’s because I’ve moved him to the bench.
I am hoping that Turner’s home run last night helps get him back on track. It may not though and he may never hit this season. If his struggles continue the Dodgers might be best putting him on the bench and letting Utley play third base. No shame in that. Scott Van Slyke and Andre Ethier will eventually come back from their injuries, which will make things clearer.
For god’s sakes Dodgers, get a running game. Once again for the second consecutive season the Dodgers are merely a station to station club. They don’t steal bases, and they don’t take extra bases on extra-base hits. It’s very disappointing considering the Dodgers have a manager who used to be a big base stealer in his playing days.
The Dodgers rank 29th in stolen bases with just 9. Not only that, but the Dodgers rank 25th in HAR (hitting advancement opportunities with runners in scoring position) with a -4.51 rating. That means the club doesn’t go from first to third on a hit or second to home. The Dodgers need some kind of running game. Good base running is essential to scoring and manufacturing more runs.
There is my plan. That’s what I would do if I were the GM of the Dodgers right now. This article is not made to disparage the front office. I like to joke around, but not everything they’ve done has been a failure. They have acquired a few good players. They traded for Trayce Thompson and he’s been great. Kenta Maeda has been good. Chase Utley has been a pleasant surprise.
The good thing for the Dodgers is that there is plenty of time left to work on all of this. As Mark said, Baseball is a long season. There are certainly plenty of games remaining for the Dodgers to make moves and turn things around. However they can’t wait any longer. Baseball is a game of adjustments. Players have to adjust. Hitters must adjust to pitchers. Pitchers must adjust to hitters. Managers must adjust their lineups, and front offices must adjust their rosters. The Dodgers have to start making adjustments now or they won’t contend this year.
Adjust Dodgers. Adjust.
10 thoughts on “If I Were GM….”
Thinks that they are smarter than everyone? Who are you talking about Neddy Jr or Obama? Whatever, they are the same group of sophomoric fools who lie through their teeth all day long. The only good thing to say about Neddy Jr. is that they probably do not play golf everyday. 🙂
Oh, and great article!
I would concentrate on signing more RPs who are not fly ball pitchers. LAD RPS are 50/50 GO/AO. In my opinion that is terrible work by Neddy Jr.. Get more ground ball RPs to end rallys, get DPs. and reduce the probabililty of HRS.
LAD SPs are actually in the top 10 of innings pitched. Dummie Jr. is not using the RPs correctly. Either leaving them in too long or tacking them out for the moronic matchup even when their stuff is highly superior that night.
BOB I think starters stat is because of Kershaw mostly. He has thrown a few complete games.
Here are a few nuggets from Baseball Reference.com:
1 – The Dodgers have 5 relievers with negative WAR on the season (Avilan, Baez, Coleman, Hatcher, Howell);
2 – The following position players have negative WAR on the season: Crawford, Grandal, Kendrick.
3 – The Dodgers are 9th in the NL in BA (.244), 9th in runs, 11th in team OPS, 12th in SLG.
4 – The Dodgers have 3 members of the rotation with negative WAR (Kazmir, Wood, Stripling)
5- Top Dodger in WAR is Kershaw (+2.8). Whole staff WAR is +4, so rest of staff composite WAR is 1.2.
6 – Top position player WAR is Seager (1.6).
If I were King of the Dodgers, i would:
1 – Try to extend Jansen;
2 – DFA Crawford;
3 – Pick 3 OF and try to play them 85% of the time – right now, that would be Puig, Pederson and Thompson. When Ethier comes back, he might replace one of the 3;
4 – Start bringing in the kids. The most major league ready guys seem to be pitchers. i would look to trade Wood. I would move Urias into the rotation. I would look to move Hatcher and Howell – take what I could get for them, and make room for a couple more kids;
5 – I would try to trade one of our multiple 2B. I don’t know that Kendrick has any value now. I don’t trust Kike at this point – he has turned into a pumpkin.
6 – I would look to thin out the management team and bring in someone with actual baseball experience. They don’t really need 8 GMs.
7 – I would look to draft something other than a starting pitcher early in the draft. Other than Seager, that’s almost all that the Dodgers have drafted in the 1st 4 rounds for several years. How many position players have they developed that have turned into stars? The only one that I can remember in the past several years was Kemp and I think he was a 6th or 7th round draft choice.
8 – The Braintrust Walking Wounded Brigade (aka McCarthy, Anderson and Ryu) will be coming back soon. i would look to trade McCarthy and Anderson if possible.
9 – I am not impressed with the Braintrust’s assessment of the health of players (especially pitchers) that they have signed. Maybe they need to dump the training staff again.
10 – I would sign a manager who wants to be his own man. Sure, then new metrics are here to stay and the numbers help the decision making process, but they shouldn’t control decision making. Let the manager use his experience, judgement, info from scouts and coaches and the numbers to make the decisions.
11 – I would sign or trade for the best available starting pitcher to give Kershaw a partner. We want him to stay after 2018. You build around franchise players, and Kershaw is a franchise player.
(These are excerpts of earlier posts.)
Nice work Scott. A lot of work went into that. I appreciate it.
If I were GM. Well, if I were hired the same time these guys were we would look a lot different. But, of course that’s not the question. If I were hired today, what would I do.
First, I have to live with what the previous GM, in our case GM’s, have put together here and recognize what is. This team is currently constructed to platoon. I see the value of doing that, but I would rather not see my team constructed that way. This teams pitching worries me. I’ve stated the facts as I see them. With that, I basically stay the course this year. Maybe putting Urias in there now would ignite the team and increase fan interest, but maybe it backfires. I like what Urias is doing, but I don’t know about bringing him up now. I’ll get back to you about that. We already lead the league in attendance, so I don’t want to mess with that. It’s my opinion if I don’t do anything big we will still lead the league in attendance. So……I dont do anything until the deadline. I put Maddox and Hershiser to work on Baez, Hatcher, (and Montas) demanding that they work on 3 pitches and if they can’t get their collective sh*t together by the deadline, one way or another they’re gone. If it takes a minor league assignment to get the message across, then adios. Send us a post card from Oklahoma. I live with the results. Crawford. No easy answer but I believe he can hit. Can he outhit Thompson? Initially I said yes, not sure now. He’s a late starter, he plays. Kendrick? Again, never would have signed him. Hernandez can do everything he can so at this point Howie is the infielder I try to dump. When Ethier gets back, we got a problem. How to deal with that? We live with it. Somebody has to go. I’ll just say it won’t be Thompson. I am still interested in a 6 man rotation. Not sure how to do it, but other than Kershaw I don’t see anybody I believe will take the ball over 30 times this year. Wood maybe, But I can see rotating starters from the minors, and the returning surgically repaired, the rest of the year. I also tell my manager I want everyone throwing 100 pitches tonight so make the most of it. If it results in an ERA over 6 – tough.
That’s my answer. We live with what FAZ has done, stay the course and build a new team around Kershaw, Seager and Urias. I scout other teams meticulously and I trade nobody. At the deadline I determine if we are buyers or sellers and then I spend a lot of time on the phone. We have Pederson and Puig, Thompson, Hernandez, Grandal and Barnes. We have good young pitching and we have Kershaw. We have $200 million worth of Cubans. We will have $100 million to work with soon enough. I don’t believe this team is good enough to win a championship. But we have a core group of young players worthy of building around.
My answer is we join the Lakers and the Rams and we all start peaking at about the same time – 2018.
Where is everyone tonight?
Well, I’m in in Cañon City Colorado.. Would you like a sit rep? This place sucks. Low vibe, impoverished looking dump of a town with bad restaurants. People walk around grumbling with a scowl on their faces. Including me. A lot of old trucks speeding out black smoke.
If the Dodgers lose I’ll be the one with a scowl on my face
Just some thoughts to ponder and moves I’d be looking to make:
Grandal has a .217% career caught stealing percentage. Does anyone realize how bad that is? He can’t throw out players who try to steal! Combine that with his slumps and injuries, and I’m looking to package him ASAP.
Puig is not the player we all hoped for. There are too many things wrong with his game and his inconsistency shows me a .250 batter, more or less, who is not a big home run hitter. Package him.
Pederson. I remember a telling comment last season when he was at the height of his HR surge and everyone was agog. A well known sports analyst said he saw a .250 BA as being his limit. It looks like this is coming to pass. Maybe he’s alright for platooning in the outfield or a PH, otherwise, I’d be looking to package him with the above inductees.
Kendrick is good for backup. No need to focus on him except if he plays too much.
Turner is in the same mold as Pederson. We still need bench players.
Pitching is anyone’s guess.
Dave Roberts. Someone light a fire in this guy’s gut. Dodgers don’t need another mild mannered manager. Time to change the feeling in the dugout and get out of the ‘good ol’ boy mold’ with real spine and determination. He’s all wrong for this club.
FAZ & Cie. Do I have to say it?
What I find most frustrating is the bullpen. I understand that we made genuine efforts to sign O’Day, and Chapman but when those efforts failed I don’t understand how we entered the season with Hatcher as a legitimate option. Watching him pitch is painful, he doesn’t have swing and miss stuff. He doesn’t have anything nasty in his arsenal that he can throw with confidence over the plate, his only chance of putting a hitter away is to get him to chase a pitch out of the strike zone. The offense is a mystery, remember our opening series against the Padres…what a misnomer that is turning out to be. Turner was consistently mashing last year, with out that productivity our lineup suddenly seems pitiful. Seager is the only hitter who looks formidable, but he is often overmatched by elite pitching. Puig is a perfect example of our woes, he has a few good at bats, offering a glimmer of hope and then looks down right awful for several games…watching him get blown away by 92mph fastballs from lefty Brad Hand last night left me in head scratching despair. We have one pitcher on the roster who offers us any reason to feel confident. I have an awful feeling that we are going to marinate in mediocrity all season.