Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell. In the Star Wars universe, the Dodgers' sweep of the Nationals would be titled, "A New Hope."
Any trades on the horizon?
I know the Dodgers swept the Nationals, and looked a lot like the 2017 team while doing it, but instead of getting overexcited and overanalyzing it, let's see what happens next. Everything looks encouraging for the most part, though.
So Cody Bellinger starts in center field for three games in a row and suddenly the trade rumors go into overdrive: The Dodgers are about to trade for first baseman Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox. It must be true, because I saw it on the internet somewhere.
Getting Abreu would indeed be nice. He is a .301 career hitter who averages more than 30 doubles, 30 homers and 100 RBIs a season. He was rookie of the year in 2014 and has never had a bad season. He is under club control until after next season. Slip him into first base and let's go to the World Series.
However, look a little more closely and some flaws in the rumor show. First, Abreu is 31, so he's older than you probably think.
Second, the White Sox aren't trading away someone like Abreu unless they get some top prospects. Why trade someone who is still under club control unless you think you are getting equal potential value in return? That means Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo, Keibert Ruiz or someone else like that would have to go. The Dodgers have built their team on the idea that they want to contend every year, and that the best way to do that is to keep their young players and add a piece if needed at the trade deadline.
Now you might be saying, "Yeah, but we would have had Justin Verlander and a World Series title in exchange for Buehler or Verdugo!"
And again I would have to point out that if that's your belief, that you need to trade young players for the final piece of the puzzle, then that means the Dodgers wouldn't have had Cody Bellinger or Corey Seager last season, so they wouldn't have been within a mile of the World Series anyway.
You have to keep in mind that when you are making your fantasy trades that in real life, they don't happen in a vacuum. It's easy to look back now and say what should have been done. But most teams have a strategy and they stick to it. And the one thing you can definitely say about Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi is that they have a clear strategy that they have followed it consistently.
So if the Dodgers aren't trading top prospects for Abreu, it's unlikely they will get him.
Even more important is that the Dodgers want to remain under the luxury tax threshold of $197 million this season. They want to reset their penalty to 0% to be better able to go after top players after the season. Right now, their payroll is about $186.5 million. Abreu makes $13 million. So they'd have to dump some salary in the trade, along with some prospects, to get Abreu. So would you trade Buehler, Verdugo and Yasiel Puig for Abreu?
Keep in mind that the Dodgers are playing better and are only five games out of first place. If everything went their way, they could be two games out by Thursday. And your offense, statistically speaking, is in better shape league-wise than your pitching.
Sounds to me like a team that will continue on as is, and if they are still in contention, they would add a needed piece, probably to the pitching staff, at the trade deadline, just like they have done every year.
I sort of feel sorry for Rich Hill. In case you missed it, he made two pitches in his start Saturday — the second of which tore open the blister on his middle finger — and had to leave the game.
I was immediately deluged with people wondering how a simple blister can sideline a pitcher.
Readers who have subscribed to this newsletter for a while already know this, but a blister for a pitcher is not the same as the blister you or I get. I went into detail about it here.
I don't get mad at players when they get hurt, no matter what the injury. Hill is trying to do his best to help the Dodgers and should get our support, not comments like, as one of my more erudite readers said, "Rich Hill is a ... idiot."
Hill and the Dodgers have tried everything they know to toughen his fingers. They know all about Moises Alou urinating on his hands to toughen them up. They have talked to other pitchers who have had blister problems. It's just one of those things, like some hitters who have chronic hamstring problems, or like George Brett had hemorrhoids.
Hill will be out for at least a month, probably longer. The hope is that Clayton Kershaw will be back in the rotation in about 10 days. In the meantime, here's your rotation:
Brock Stewart? Manny Banuelos?
It's only one game, but ...
Starting pitcher Dennis Santana is considered one of the Dodgers' top 10 prospects by most. He started the season in double-A Tulsa and pitched 38.2 innings, giving up 26 hits and walking 14 while striking out 51 with a 2.56 ERA. So they promoted him to triple-A Oklahoma City. He had his first start there Saturday. He pitched six innings, gave up no runs and three hits while walking none and striking out 11.
2018 Dodgers: 20-26, fourth place in NL West, 5 games behind Arizona, +12 run differential
2017 Dodgers: 27-19, third place in NL West, 2.5 games behind Colorado, +65 run differential
These names seem familiar
What recently departed Dodgers are doing around the league (through Saturday):
Adrian Gonzalez, Mets: .255/.328/.422, 107 OPS+
Charlie Culberson, Braves, .188/.264/.292, 54 OPS+
Brandon McCarthy, Braves, 4-2, 5.05 ERA, 76 ERA+
Yu Darvish, Cubs, 0-3, 5.56 ERA, 74 ERA+
Curtis Granderson, Blue Jays, .266/.430/.457, 141 OPS+
Brandon Morrow, Cubs, 0-0, 10 saves, 1.20 ERA, 345 ERA+
Tony Watson, Giants, 1-2, 2.25 ERA, 174 ERA+
Chris Hatcher, A's, 3-1, 5.52 ERA, 78 ERA+
Luis Avilan, White Sox, 1-0, 5.25 ERA, 83 ERA+
Trayce Thompson, White Sox, .111/.138/.270, 9 OPS+
Wilmer Font, A's, 0-2, 12.38 ERA, 33 ERA+
Andre Ethier, still unsigned
Monday, 7 p.m.: Colorado (German Marquez, 2-5, 5.15 ERA) at Dodgers (Walker Buehler, 2-1, 2.67 ERA)
Tuesday, 7 p.m.: Colorado (Chad Bettis, 4-1, 3.27 ERA) at Dodgers (Brock Stewart or Kenta Maeda)
Wednesday, 7 p.m.: Colorado (Kyle Freeland, 4-4, 3.17 ERA) at Dodgers (Brock Stewart or Kenta Maeda).
Steve Lopez takes a look at the Dodgers' TV situation. Read all about it here.