Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and it looks like Brian Dozier is going to be a great addition.
The Dodgers made two trade-deadline deals on Tuesday. Let’s take a look at them.
Dodgers send Logan Forsythe, Devin Smeltzer and Luke Raley to Minnesota for Brian Dozier
Dozier won the Gold Glove at second base last year to go with a .271/.359/.498 slash line and 34 homers. He hit 42 homers in 2016.
This season, however, he had been underperforming, with a .224/.305/.402 slash line for Minnesota with 16 homers in 462 plate appearances. He is in the final year of a four-year, $20-million contract and will be a free agent after the season. Of course, with the Dodgers, he is hitting .556 with two homers.
Why Dozier? A couple of reasons. One, he is an upgrade over Forsythe, who never quite put it together with the Dodgers. Two, Dozier hits left-handers well, with .277/.356/.516 career numbers against them compared with .238/.315/.425 against righties. And the Dodgers figure to face a few left-handers in the playoffs, provided they make it to the postseason. Also, Arizona has two prominent left-handed starters in Patrick Corbin and Robbie Ray, so this will help the Dodgers against them.
Forsythe, by all accounts a nice guy who works hard, hit .218/.325/.314 in 189 games with the Dodgers, and seemed to have a rain cloud over him everywhere he went. I’m pretty sure there was some sort of secret league requirement that he begin each plate appearance with an 0-2 count, then take a pitch outside for a ball and swing and miss at strike three. He hit eight homers in those 189 games. Dozier already has two homers in two games.
Dave Roberts said he doesn’t expect Dozier to play every day, but expect to see him start against left-handers. Dozier is a streaky hitter, so if he gets on a hot streak, like he appears to be on right now, it would be worth just throwing him out there daily until the hot streak ends. He is a second-half hitter and he has better numbers in August than any other month in his career, so this may be a huge pickup for the Dodgers.
Whatever happens, he is an upgrade over Forsythe, so this is a good trade.
Raley is a 23-year-old outfielder/first baseman who was hitting .275/.345/.477 for double-A Tulsa. He was the No. 19 ranked prospect for the Dodgers. He was taken in the seventh round of the 2016 draft. Smeltzer, 22, is a left-handed pitcher who was 5-5, 4.73 ERA for Tulsa. Neither one figures to be a star in the majors. The Dodgers actually had to upgrade the prospects they sent Minnesota in order to get them to agree to take Forsythe.
Despite all the criticism I gave Forsythe this season, I do wish him well and hope he has a long, successful career, performing well against everyone except the Dodgers. He never pouted or complained during his slump, he just kept trying to improve.
But just for fun, I ran a list of the lowest slugging percentage for every Dodger (excluding pitchers) who had at least 650 plate appearances since the team moved to L.A. in 1958. The highest slugging percentage belongs to Manny Ramirez, who slugged .580. The lowest?
1. Nate Oliver, .273
2. Alfredo Griffin, .274
3. Jeff Torborg, .277
4. Dick Tracewski, .288
5. Jose Vizcaino, .306
6. Dave Anderson, .311
7. Logan Forsythe, .314
8. Bobby Valentine, .324
9. Bob Bailey, .325
10. Mariano Duncan, .325
Forsythe also has the second-worst batting average at .218, just ahead of Torborg at .214.
Dodgers get John Axford from Toronto for Corey Copping
Axford, 35, led the NL in saves in 2011 when he had 46 for Milwaukee and had seasons of 35, 25 and 24 saves with the Brewers and Colorado. He has had a tough go of it the last two seasons, with a 5.00 ERA and 4.52 FIP over the 2017-18 seasons. He was 4-1 with a 4.41 ERA for Toronto this season. He signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Blue Jays before the season.
The intriguing thing about Axford is despite his being right-handed, left-handers can’t hit him. Lefties are hitting .147/.244/.309 against him this season. Before you say that is a fluke, consider that lefties hit worse off him than righties throughout his career, .230/.324/.334 for lefties versus .250/.335/.379 for righties. In Dodger Stadium, he has held opponents (the Dodgers), to .154/.313/.308.
Axford becomes part of the bullpen mix, as the Dodgers will not use a setup man in the traditional sense, going more with matchups depending on who is batting and what they like to hit. Axford averages a strikeout an inning and gives up a lot of ground ball, so having Turner, Machado and Dozier behind him will be great for him.
In 2015, Axford’s then 3-year-old son Jameson was bitten by a rattlesnake. Complications set in, and it was touch and go for a while. The Rockies, whom Axford was playing for at the time, and his teammates rallied around Axford and supported him and Jameson throughout the season, which is a strong testament to the type of person Axford must be. Jameson seems fine now.
Copping, 24, is a right-handed pitcher who was 4-0 with a 2.52 ERA in games with Tulsa and triple-A Oklahoma City this season.
All in all, it was a good day for the Dodgers, who had already acquired the best player dealt in July, Manny Machado. Vegas oddsmakers seemed to agree, as the next day they made L.A. the co-favorites (along with the Astros) to win the World Series.
The trade deadline has passed, so no more deals, right?
Wrong. There still can be some trades made, but the players must clear waivers first. Here’s basically how it works. Let’s use an absurd example and say the Dodgers want to trade Clayton Kershaw.
First, the Dodgers have to place Kershaw on waivers, giving every other team a chance to claim him. If Kershaw is claimed, the Dodgers can do one of three things:
1. They can trade Kershaw to the team that claimed him.
2. They can revoke waivers, in which case they can’t trade Kershaw to anyone.
3. They can allow the team that claimed him to have Kershaw basically for nothing.
Kershaw would remain on waivers for 48 hours. If no one claims him, then the Dodgers are free to trade him to any team they please.
If more than one team claims him, then the claiming team with the worst record in the NL gets the claim. If no NL team claims him but more than one AL team claims him, then the team with the worst record gets the claim.
The Dodgers would have 48 hours to trade Kershaw to the team that claimed him. If no one claims him, they would have until Aug. 31.
If the Dodgers put Kershaw on waivers, he is claimed, and the Dodgers pull him off waivers, then they can’t put him on waivers again. If they do, then he will go outright to whoever claims him, with no trade involved.
It is rare for there to be huge waiver trades. However, it has happened. The Astros acquired Justin Verlander on Aug. 31 last season. And, in a less exciting example, the Dodgers acquired Curtis Granderson. The massive 2012 deal in which the Dodgers got Adrian Gonzalez from the Boston Red Sox was also an August deal.
I like the history of uniform numbers, so let’s take a look at what numbers Dozier and Axford are wearing.
Dozier is wearing No. 6, which of course was famously worn for years by Steve Garvey. Many Dodgers fans believe that the team should retire Garvey’s number, and while I think you can make a strong case for it, I think the line for retiring a number begins with Fernando and Don Newcombe and goes from there. But that’s something I’ll get into in a newsletter soon.
No. 6 has also been worn by the following Dodgers (in chronological order): Lefty O’Doul, Sam Leslie, Rod Dedeaux, Buddy Hassett, Johnny Hudson, Tony Giuliani, Joe Medwick. Carden Gillenwater, Hal Peck, Jack Bolling, Bill Hart, Carl Furillo, Ron Fairly, Garvey, Jolbert Cabrera, Brent Mayne, Jason Grabowski, Kenny Lofton, Tony Abreu, Aaron Miles, Jerry Hairston, Darwin Barney, Charlie Culberson and the infamous Curtis Granderson.
I am going to pray that it is not an ominous sign that the last Dodger to wear No. 6 was Granderson.
Axford is wearing No. 88. The only other Dodger to wear No. 88 was outfielder Mike Ramsey (not to be confused with the utility infielder the Dodgers had two seasons earlier) in 1987.
Whose number should be retired?
Speaking about retired numbers, I want your opinion. If the Dodgers were to relax their policy and retire numbers of players not in the Hall of Fame, which two numbers would you like them to retire first? I have put together a poll that you can vote on by clicking here. I’ll announce the results in a future newsletter. And a special thanks to Jon Weisman, whom I consulted on the list of players and who has written about this topic previously here.
More KTLA games
For those of you who live in the Los Angeles area and are unable to see Dodgers games on TV, the Dodgers announced that four games in August and one in September will be televised on KTLA (Channel 5). Those games are:
Saturday vs. Houston, 6 p.m.
Aug. 15, vs. San Francisco, 7 p.m.
Aug. 20, vs. St. Louis, 7 p.m.
Aug. 31, vs. Arizona, 7 p.m.
Sept. 4, vs. New York Mets, 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, there is no agreement between DirecTV and Spectrum SportsNet coming in the near future.
Ask Ross Porter
Hi, fans! It’s good to be back with you to answer your questions during this baseball season. Please send your questions to Houston, and he will pass them on to me. Include the city where you live.
Tommy Raymond of San Marino asks: How many Dodger pitchers have a victory this season?
Ross: Good observation, Tommy. The answer is 19.
STATS, LLC provided us with these numbers:
Most Dodger pitchers with 1+ wins: 23 in 2016, 22 in 2009, 19 in 2018
Team with most pitchers with 1+ wins in 2018: Rays, 21; Marlins, 20; Dodgers, 19
Team with most pitchers with 1+ wins all-time: 2016 Braves, 28
Mark Layne of Fresno asks: During the tumultuous times of Fox and the McCourts, do you know if Vin Scully ever considered resigning or retiring?
Ross: Never. He loved the game too much.
Lynn McGinnis of Glendale asks: Greetings, Ross. How much equipment does Manny Machado bring to the Dodgers? Bats, gloves, cleats, undershirts and batting gloves?
Ross: Yes, Lynn, all of the above and a toothbrush.
Harry Avers of Bensalem, Pa., asks: Hello, Ross. I grew up listening to you and sure miss hearing your voice. How did you get the CSUN baseball job and what do you think about this current Dodger roster?
Ross: Thanks, Harry. A friend of mine, sportswriter Jill Painter Lopez, heard they were looking for a play-by-play announcer at her alma mater and suggested they call me to see if I were interested. After one meeting, we agreed that I would broadcast all home games, which I’ve done for three years, and have thoroughly enjoyed working with coach Greg Moore and his fine young men.
As for the Dodgers, they did not add a quality reliever this week who would have made them better, but I think they can win the National League pennant. They would be underdogs in the World Series.
Charley Schmitz of St. Louis asks: What are the fewest pitches thrown in a nine-inning game?
Ross: Fifty-eight by Red Barrett of the 1944 Boston Braves
Friday, 7 p.m.: Houston (Justin Verlander, 10-6, 2.24 ERA) at Dodgers (Alex Wood, 7-5, 3.68 ERA)
Saturday, 6 p.m.: Houston (Lance McCullers Jr., 10-6, 4.06 ERA) at Dodgers (Kenta Maeda, 7-6, 3.48 ERA), KTLA
Sunday, 1 p.m.: Houston (Gerrit Cole, 10-3, 2.55 ERA) at Dodgers (Walker Buehler, 4-4, 3.65 ERA)
Dodgers trade for more offense but neglect what could be their Achilles’ heel. Bill Plaschke writes about it here.