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Dodgers Preparing For a Wonderfully Boring Spring Training

In about nine days spring training will begin for the Dodgers. The first couple of weeks of spring training are the most boring. There are no games going on and not much else. Nothing to do but watch the players hop around and do jumping jacks, play catch, and take batting practice. Speaking of boring, the Dodgers are preparing for one of their most boring springs in years.

That’s actually a great thing because it means that the major league roster is basically all but set. I’ve said it before on the last couple of podcasts I’ve been on. There won’t be much competition on the Dodger’s roster and they come into spring training with very few question marks.

Oh sure there will be a few. Will Hyun-jin Ryu be healthy enough to start the season? Will Justin Turner’s rusty knee be strong enough to play him every day in the opening week? How will the Dodgers dump Alex Guerrero? Other than those there’s little to no surprises in camp. Very few if any roster battles like we’ve seen in years past.

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I know a few of you have been sort of doom and gloom lately with the Dodgers. I can’t say I blame you guys. The way the season ended last year was kind of you know, soul crushing. After all, the Dodgers suffered their third consecutive postseason defeat, Zack Greinke was allowed to walk to the Dbacks, and the World Series drought has reached 28 years. If that weren’t enough, we all have to deal with Vin Scully’s retirement which will be horrifically sad for all of us. There are reasons to be optimistic though, despite the boring spring. So what will be the difference this year?

Well health is one. A healthy and productive Yasiel Puig in the heart of the batting order will be a huge difference this season. The Dodgers didn’t have that last season and it was a detriment to the offense. I already discussed Ryu, and if the new rotation imports pitch well (Kenta Maeda, Scott Kazmir) then it should help us get over the loss of Greinke.

We’ll have a full season of wonder kid Corey Seager, the top prospect in all of baseball. Perhaps the biggest reason for optimism will be the change in the dugout and clubhouse. I’m talking about the new manager Dave Roberts and his brand new coaching staff.

That could be the biggest thing for the Dodgers. Maybe Roberts will be better at managing the X’s and O’s? Maybe Roberts will be better at motivating the players? Regardless, the Dodgers will have a new voice in the dugout, new philosophies, and better approaches. That should help a lot, especially with the problem of hitting with runners in scoring position. We got what we wanted. Don Mattingly is gone. Maybe Roberts can get the Dodgers over the hump?

I want to put your minds at ease. This is still a talented and deep club. This is still a very good team. This is a 90 win club for sure. The Dodgers will make the playoffs this season. They’ll probably win the division again. Yes the Dbacks and Giants improved their rotations, but so what? Remember last year when the Padres made all those moves? They signed James Shields and traded for Craig Kimbrel, and we were all worried they would give the Dodgers a run for their money in the NL West. Guess what happened? They sucked. Oh how they sucked. Turns out we were worried about nothing.

I still think the Dodgers are the best team in the NL West. Trust me I don’t want competition for the Dodgers. Pennant races give me heartburn and make me angry on twitter. I want the Dodgers to have the easiest path to the playoffs possible I want the Dodgers to cakewalk to the division crown. A ten game lead would be fine. I want cakes not races.

I’ve been very critical of Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi and will continue to be so. Believe me if they screw up I’ll be right here to rip them a new one across the internet. The signing of Joe Blanton alone should provide me with enough fodder until the all-star break. There’s no reason to be all doom and gloom right now. The Dodgers are a good club with one of the best farm systems in baseball and unparalleled depth. Everything will be fine.

The Dodgers are about ready to start an extremely boring spring training and that’s a great thing. Sometimes boring is good.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

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Scott Andes
Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

55 thoughts on “Dodgers Preparing For a Wonderfully Boring Spring Training

  1. Okay, why is there no mention of Grandal? Look, the guy is coming back from shoulder surgery, and when Kemp had his, the first year back he had little power. There is nothing to suggest that Grandal will be different. If anything, this guy is a huge question mark. He is not a great defender, his hitting tailed off because he was too damn stubborn and selfish to tell the team he was injured. And nothing in his history shows that he is anything more than a .230-.240 hitter, with some power. He is not a great game caller, and other than his so called framing skills, there is not one thing about him that makes him an elite catcher…

    1. I think the club knew he was injured but let him play anyways. We saw how well he was hitting before the injury. He’s a good hitter and a good catcher. Nobody ever said he was elite, but he’s def talented. Pitch framing, power, on base skills and a decent throwing arm.

    2. And you know what else, Michael, I predict that this season will be the big umpire adjustment for “pitch framing.” There are some P.O.’d umps out there about all this showing up the umpires that is at the heart of “pitch framing” and it’s time for reaction.

  2. I never cease to be amazed how shortsighted many people are. First of all, Grandal did not conceal an injury – the Dodgers and the entire baseball world who was not living under a rock knew about it, but he a good defender, good at controlling the running game, a fantastic pitch framer and most importantly, he is a guy who pitchers love throwing to. He ABSOLUTELY IS a great game caller. Ask Zack Greinke, who had his greatest season with Yasmani catching most of his games.

    ” And nothing in his history shows that he is anything more than a .230-.240 hitter, with some power.” WHAT ARE YOU SMOKING?

    Most of you guys only want players who have established that they are stars. Look at Devin Mesoraco:

    2011: .180 with 2 HR
    2012: .212 with 5 HR
    2013: .238 with 9 HR

    Why would some baseball people (including me) predict that in 2014, Mesoraco would “break out” and hit 24 HR with a .273 BA? Maybe it’s because they know something you don’t or see something you can’t!

    Many people, including myself and Mike Petriello predicted Grandal would “break out” last year… and he did until the injury.

    Will he come back strong this year? I can’t say, but at some time he will be back. In the meantime, there’s Austin Barnes who is also a candidate to “break out” if he gets playing time.

    Vision is the ability to see what can be, not what IS. Not everyone has it! Many here can’t even spell it!

    1. You have your opinion and I have mine…would you like to see his career stats? He hit .297 in 60 games with 8 homers, and 36 RBI’s then he hit .216 in 28 games with 1 homer and 9 ribbies..his last year as a Padre he hit .215 with 15 Homers and 45 RBI’s…….last year .234 with 16 HR’s and 45 ribbies….his lifetime average is .241. Now there is nothing there that says this guy is anything but a .240 hitter if he is lucky…if he is such a great catcher, how come he does not catch Kershaw? He is lousy at blocking the plate, and actually his caught stealing pct is not all that great, only 22% in his career. Pitch framing is as over rated as this guy is. He is at best a very average receiver with some pop…..also, we all saw that Matt Kemp took a long time to regain his power stroke after his shoulder surgery. Why should Ground out Grandal the rally killer be any different? Ellis is a much better catcher, and after he got over his injury, he almost caught Grandal in batting average even though he was under the Mendoza line at the all star break..look, you can like the guy if you want……I do not…..

      1. You can have an opinion, but if it’s not based fact or reality…..or just plain wrong, expect to be put on the defensive over it.

        I’d suggest you do a little digging and research into what pitch framing is, and how it can help a ball club and, very specifically, how it helps a pitching staff become better at what they do.

        There’s a whole chapter in this book devoted to the resurgence of Russell Martin, and how the Pirate’s acquisition of him helped turn their team around after decades of losing.

        And why do you think Kershaw worked with Ellis? Is it because Grandal is a bad catcher? Is that what Greinke said when he worked with Grandal exclusively and had the best year of his career? This has already been explained to you, as has the fact that he didn’t have the same shoulder injury as Kemp. Have an opinion, but don’t repeat nonsense because some of us don’t suffer fools readily.

        1. Like I said it is my opinion, and I am no fool. I know all about the pitch framing stats, and I know that is why Fried Brains traded for him in the first place. Ellis has a higher fielding pct, and a better caught stealing pct. Same injury or not, it is still the shoulder, and it takes time to heal. You do not get your power back right away, and I think anyone who thinks so is delusional. He is a question mark, pure and simple. Nobody knows how he will respond and that includes me. I tend to trust his prior history though, and doubt he hits much above .240, if that. Pitch framing? Well like I said, I think it is an over rated way to judge a catcher. I also think that the guy needs to block the plate effectively, and Grandal sucks at that. Greinke is no longer a Dodger, so his opinion on anything is moot. We will see how Granny does in spring, weather there is any pop in his bat or not. whether his shoulder is sound and he can make solid throws to 2nd. If he does the job great…but unlike those who toe the company line and believe in everything the FO does, I believe he will not be all that great…….

  3. Grandal, in 4 years, has over 1200 PA’s and has hit .240 with 6.7 oWAR. In those 4 years he has a total of 0.5 dWAR. Until he actually does it he hasn’t done much. I’m not saying he won’t eventually get it done, but I don’t see it getting done in ’16.

    I look forward to Spring Training. I’m waiting to see how all these question marks play leading up to that opening series.

  4. C’mon, Badge. He’s been hurt a couple of times plus a suspension. We only had a glimpse of what he could do when he’s healthy. Of course, no one can guarantee he will be healthy.

    But, hey, we got another banjo-hitting infielder with an invite to ST, so everything is going to be OOOO-K.

    1. That is all we need, an infielder who can’t hit for an average, and that’s because he is always swinging for the fences. Didn’t this front office see the post season. These type of players, are easily stopped by good pitchers. And not only in the post season.

    2. But……..

      If you don’t like FAZ and you have predilection to criticize, and you pine over Matt Kemp because of some amorphous concept of”star power” that keeps fans from getting their Dodger Dogs when he’s up at the plate, then you’re going to cherry pick the data to say, “hey look! He’s a not a good player because of his cumulative batting average! ..never mind that half of his young career he’s been injured.”

      The question is: Do you think Grandal is a better than his abbreviated Padre career or the second half of last season? I think most reasonable sane people would say his POTENTIAL is a little closer to the player who was selected to the All Star Game last year and was on pace to hit over 20 HRs. ….AND is one of the best pitch framers in the game

      Oh wait! Pitch framing is that sabre-black magic hokey stuff that we don’t believe in because….well……because!

  5. I think there will be tons of competition this spring. That is one of the things FAZ relishes. For different circumstances I see 2B, 3B, LF, CF, and C as available for “ownership” come opening day. In fact I wouldn’t assume just showing up for ST guarantees Puig his spot in RF.

    You got to earn your spot! Get dirty you bum!

    I can’t wait for ST to start. 🙂

  6. I would love to see the Dodgers win their division. They are almost the same team that stopped hitting after last May, with a maddeningly insistent bullpen, with a couple of important exceptions: 1 – No Zach Greinke! 2 – An upgrade at SS Seager instead of Rollins! 3 – Maeda and Kazmir. 4 – Dave Roberts instead of Donnie.

    There are so many question marks that I have trouble predicting anything one way or the other out of this team. For instance 1- Turner had microfracture surgery. It doesn’t always work! Ask Chris Webber (Sacramento Kings) or Bill Mueller. 2 – Grandal had surgery for a torn labrum. I have had this surgery myself – It doesn’t always work. It took 3 years for Adrian Gonzalez’ power to return after this surgery and 2 year for Matt Kemp. 3 – Ryu and Brandon McCarthy are both coming off of arm surgeries. The preliminary reports on Ryu are good. McCarthy is coming off of Tommy John. According to a 2015 study in Hardball Times, 20% of pitchers undergoing Tommy John never throw another pitch in the majors and fully 50% throw fewer than 100 innings in the rest of their major league careers. 4 – Puig is still a clubhouse cancer albeit a talented one – do we see the 2013 Puig or the 2015 Puig? 5 – Pederson had a horrible second half last year. Do we see the first half Pederson or the second half one? 6 – Andre Ethier rediscovered his swing last year after 2 bad years. Do we see the 2015 Ethier or the 2014 Ethier? 7 – Maeda’s MRI was so bad that no other team would touch him. Does his arm fall off this year like McCarthy’s did last year? 8 – Brett Anderson threw 180 ip for the first time in his career last year – he threw 43 in 2014 and only over 115 ip one other time (his rookie year) – can he repeat? 9 – Who backs up Cory Seager at SS? Not Kike or Turner – neither one can play SS. 10 – Do you really think that signing Joe Blanton solves the bullpen problems of last year when they have the same guys this year that they had last year?

    Remember – the Giants added Cueto and the Shark and upgraded in the OF with Denard Span (if he’s healthy – he’s coming off of hip surgery). The D-Backs added Greinke, Miller, Tyler Clippard and Jean Segura. The competition will be better this year – will the Dodgers?

    1. And we don’t know if Roberts can manage – he’s never done it before. Or is he to be a figurehead manager, taking orders from the “Braintrust” on a daily basis?

    2. Dodger rick Grandal did not tear his labrum, and his labrum wasn’t touched. Grandal had a repair on his AC joint, not his labrum. And because his labrum wasn’t touched, they say that Grandal will probably be much better, then they originally thought. So maybe he will still have his power. I know we don’t know what he will be like, until he plays, but it sounds like he was lucky. because the doctor thought that his labrum was going to be damaged.

  7. There should be a moratorium on the phrase, “clubhouse cancer.” Come on, learn some new words. It’s trite and it trivializes cancer.

    1. If you have had cancer then I am sorry. Otherwise, lighten up!

      Sports uses all types of analogies. A ballgame isn’t a war. The front office isn’t an office and it isn’t in front. The Brain trust isn’t a trust. Stolen bases aren’t really stolen. The ace of a staff isn’t an ace or any other card. The Dodgers never really dodged trolleys. The Giants aren’t.
      The best relief pitcher isn’t a fireman. A great defensive player doesn’t use a gold glove. etc.

      1. No, I don’t have cancer, and I will lighten up. But I do think the phrase is too easily applied and too hard to remove. Of all the examples you give, none leave a negative stain on a person that he may have to carry for a long time; so that’s sort of an apples/oranges type of thing.

        1. I am a colon cancer survivor andI think that calling someone a cancer sort of does trivialize the disease. I spent many a sleepless nights due to treatments and waiting for medical test results. I certainly dont take offense at anyone using the word to describe someone as a disruptive influence but someone may feel not to great to read a post that uses the phrase. I have been cancer free for 19 years but never leaves the back of your mind.

      2. The Dodgers did not dodge trolleys…….but the citizens of the borough of Brooklyn did..hence the nickname

  8. At least we’re nearing the ‘show me’ moments and all hope we get shown better than any had a right to envision. Looking forward to my next birthday and not for being another year older, but the 23rd is when all players report. That’s a good present! CHEERS!

  9. If Grandal had AC joint surgery, then I am quite familiar with it. I have been thru it myself, it is called a Mumford Procedure, they remove damaged material (cartilage) in the AC Joint and then shave (shorten) the clavicle to make space in the joint. The reality is, the recovery period is relatively short and with proper PT and weightlifting his shoulder should return to full strength.
    Now, with Grandal, I’m not concerned about his recovery, I am concerned with his ability to be anything more than a streak hitter, he has never shown the ability to be much of a hitter thru out an entire season, Mover, is smoking something if he thinks he can says anything different, unless he has some stats from Grandal’s little league career. Mover often has a “very interesting slant” on the stats he presents, so don’t concern yourself Michael with Mover and his “delusional authority he assigns himself on baseball”.

    Good posts, dodgerrick and badger!

    1. I do not. I judge Granny on what I watched last year, and the few times I saw him when he was a Padre. What I saw was a guy who cried way too much over pitches he deemed were balls, that clearly were in the strike zone. I saw a guy who was injured and never adjusted his swing to compensate for whatever discomfort he was feeling. He just kept flailing away, week after week. And on a personal note….he had no business starting game 5 of the playoffs. Ellis should have been in there. He was hot and on a tear.

  10. I raised the concern on Grandal a month ago — I understand the health problem — but after the All Star Game last season, he had:

    142 ABs, 23 hits, with 2 doubles, 2 HRs, and 19 singles == hitting .162 and a slugging average .218..

    Not sure all of that was injury. Some might have been pitchers learning to pitch to him — or, the league just caught up with him. The Pederson Effect.

  11. Guys, we knew last October Grandal did not have labrum surgery:

    According to ElAttrache, he didn’t observe any labrum damage “worth surgically repairing”. What exactly does that mean? He didn’t say there was no damage to the labrum. His suggestion was the damage he observed wasn’t worth surgically repairing. And wasn’t there concussion issues as well? I say again, until he actually stays on the field healthy for a full year, I’m not convinced of anything other than when he’s hot, he’s a force. Check his splits. In 4 years he has been what I would consider “hot” a total of 5 months.

    Grandal is firmly planted on my “if” list.

    1. Good article Badger, it confirms exactly what I underwent and described above. Again, the repair is a very sound repair and he has been at full strength for months now. What is suspect is his ability to put it together for any significant period of time. I, too, remain highly skeptical of Grandal as a consistent number one catcher.

    2. Badger Thanks I don’t think I read that same article, but I thought that particular wording, was strange too. I think the article I read, was after Grandal’s surgery, and it had the same wording. I would think if his labrum was damaged, the doctor would have said that the labrum was unrepairable, or something like that, or would heal by itself.

  12. I would be happy with Ellis and Barnes as the Dodgers’ catchers if something good could be obtained from a Grandal trade. Instead of packaging Barnes with player X to get a very good pitcher from Cleveland or Tampa Bay, package Grandal instead.

    1. The Rays need to improve at the catcher and Right field positions and could accomplish that with Ethier and Grandal. If the Dodgers could get Archer and McGee in return I would hope the Dodgers would pay much of Ethier’s salary and include Wood, Baez, and Lee.

      I think Lee could be a pleasant surprise and show that he can be a good MLB pitcher.

    2. Everyone is tradable. However, until further notice Grandal is damaged goods.

      I wonder if San Diego might pay us 3.75 mil a year to take Kemp back. That would get his salary down to a more manageable $18 mil a year, meaning he would need to put up about 2.4 WAR to earn his keep. Kemp plays every day. 25 home runs and 100+ rbi’s would help this lineup. .322/368/.533 men on splits. Undo the trade? (This is of course a deliberate and somewhat ornery attempt to unhinge Timmons). But, it kinda makes sense. Almost.

      1. Ethier for Kemp? I’ll do that. Can’t just add another outfielder without subtracting one.

        I was being a little ornery myself by suggesting the Dodgers trade Grandal. It’s always interesting to see others humor themselves in similar ways as we do for ourselves.

        I am willing to wait until the end of March to make that Grandal trade. By then we will know the extend of the ongoing damage. How about Barnes, Hernandez, and Grandal for Swihart?

        1. Bum I do think your right that Grandal’s great framing, might leave him more susceptible to being injured, because Grandal wants to keep his glove in the strike zone, and have as little movement, as posible, so the umpire gets a good look, at the pitch.

  13. I remember when they said Reggie Smith was the ‘C’ word… Beware of all the guys from the TRADE… Beware, Manny being Mannie put us on his shoulders and took us to the playoffs… He was weird though, but his hitting skills were off the chart…
    Everbody has ? marks and as always, looking thru my blue shades, My Blue is gonna be fine… Trust me Watford…
    And now we have the ‘Utley Rule’ staring at us…

    1. There is no need for an Utley rule. Umpires already have all the rules in place to cover this. Just enforce rule 7:09 (f). It’s been virtually ignored for a long time. All Utley did was expand the baseline by about 6′ (3′ to the right, another 3′ into center field, doing what players have been TAUGHT to do since Abner was a minnow – break up the double play) It’s been unwritten rules that have actually dictated policy for decades. Enforce all rules as written and this problem will disappear.

      1. It seems like all players now slide well past any bag. I don’t like it. I think one should slide into a bag and not over, through, and past it. For instance, when a third baseman catches a throw from a catcher on a steal attempt and makes a blind tag to the front of the base they are now likely to get a knee or foot to the skull or be bowled over from a head first slide where the slider winds up in the coaching box and a toe on the base.

        My rule is the slider must keep at least half of their body in front of the base and be able to keep a foot on the base if sliding feet first and a hand on the base if sliding head first. The middle infielders still can’t step directly toward first base to make a double play throw unless they want to plant their foot in the path of the slider who is sliding “into the bag”.

    2. You know what Pete, it’s reading the positivity and enthusiasm from yourself and others like Mark & IdahoAl who know much more about the game than me, that gives me hope for this season.

      My own eye test based on last season, suggests that there will need to be something of a sea change with many of the same position players intact, for there to be a positive outcome.

      You guys have been right before when I have been sceptical about the team or certain players, but this time I’m finding it hard.

      I totally agree that our mid to long term future looks great, but what bothers me is that the diamonds in our system are not yet ready to shine, or are being blocked from shining.
      That is why the signing of Blanton irked me. Give that job to Reed or Lee and let’s see what they’ve got.
      I’m even happy to use this as a transitional year, to see, and give some experience to these future Dodger stars.
      Look how the Cubs & Astros have benefitted from throwing the youngsters out there.
      To me there seems little point in having the best system in MLB unless you actually use it.
      People keep talking about Depth. To me I want to see a guy in a position, and to play it every day.
      MJ has noted that Utley for example, was hitting well when playing 2nd every day, and suffered when forced to platoon with Kendrick when he came back in. MLB position players are used to playing day in day out. It should be their position to lose.

      It’s seems the sabermetric guys don’t agree with conventional thinking, and I just can’t see a WS win like that.

      On a different note Pete, I love the way you talk about Spring Training and as I’ve never done it, it’s now on my Bucket List. Can’t do it this year, although I’d love to meet up with some of you boys. I’m 50 in April & I’ve got a big year lined up including 2 trips to your motherland- a golf trip to coincide with Paddies Day & 3 days at the Galway Festival for a bit of racing, as well as a party in central London on the day itself.
      Also got a golf trip to Tenerife booked for 32 of us – and a new liver booked in for about December time.

      Keep up the positive thinking Pete, it’s helping me through these Dog Days!

      1. Watford I wouldn’t count Utley out, just yet. He is a competitor. I bet, he has been hitting, in a pitching machine, for a while now, and especially since Howie was signed.

  14. The biggest ? this spring will be the 2-5 starting pitchers and who will be the middle inning closer, i.e. the most reliable guy to get out of that game changing jam. The other positions are set, with the batting order only in doubt. Where will Pederson hit? Kendrick?Leadoff? It should be a solid camp, hopefully with no injuries. Of course, the health of some of the players is also a ?, but it is still a long time before opening day. I expect Ryu to be ready, but maybe not Grandal. It’s nice to have Ellis around. I am wishing for a .400 spring from 66, but hope is a bitch. So we will have to wait.

  15. Biggest question for the upcoming season, not directly related to a particular player, person or the on-field performances ; Will DirecTV customers be shut out of Dodger baseball for the 3rd year in a row? Will we then be shut out of Vin Scully’s final season at the mic? This entire matter is a disgrace and an insult to the millions of true blue Dodger fans who have done nothing but get caught up in a fight between broadcasting behemoths. As much as I hate to say it, I think the Dodgers also share some of the burden to resolve this matter. Fans like myself understood the business side of it all, but after two years, I’ve had little choice but to get to know the Angels better and see the greatness of Mike Trout. The Dodgers can’t just sit idly by, pointing their palms to the sky and say there’s nothing they can do about it. They can bring some pressure to bear, along with the support of MLB and it’s commissioner, to get the matter resolved before more lasting harm is done. Time Warner may have lost some ad revenue because their ratings are lower than expected, and DirecTV has no doubt lost many customers to Time Warner. But the only ones actually getting screwed here are loyal, dedicated Dodger fans that merely want to follow their team, and their legendary announcer’s final season, as they have been doing for decades. Carrying this dispute into it’s third season is a slap in the face to fans and Time-Warner, DirecTV and the Dodgers all share the responsibility for it. Somebody do something.

  16. Does it confirms exactly what I underwent and described above. Again, the repair is a very sound repair and he has been at full strength for months now .

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