Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and I’m so happy the Bryce Harper saga is finally over.
Bryce Harper to the Phillies
The Bryce Harper story, which I was beginning to think was a remake of the movie “The NeverEnding Story,” came to a conclusion last week when he signed a 13-year, $330-million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. And I’m fine with that.
I’m not a big fan of long contracts. They seldom work out well. The only current player who I might be willing to risk a deal like Harper’s would be Mike Trout. But that’s a story for two years from now, when Trout becomes a free agent.
Some fans are mad the Dodgers didn’t pry their change purse open and make a real attempt to sign Harper. Those fans are wrong. They made a real, fair attempt, offering four years, $180 million or five years, $200 million. Harper would have had the highest annual average contract in history. Those are very fair offers.
Harper said he took the long-term deal because the Phillies were willing to give him 13 years, a no-trade clause and no opt-out. He wanted a deal that would put him with a team for the rest of his career, where he didn’t have to worry about being dealt somewhere and he didn’t have to answer “Will he opt out?” questions. So he got what he wanted.
The Phillies got Harper and J.T. Realmuto in the offseason, two players the Dodgers had targeted. They are going to be a very good team this season and it’s entirely possible we will have a Dodgers-Phillies NLCS. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.
For those bemoaning the fact the Dodgers didn’t get him, it’s OK. One player doesn’t guarantee anything. Harper would not have meant the Dodgers would win the World Series. After all, they had Manny Machado last season and didn’t win. And for those upset they didn’t get another stud starting pitcher, let me remind you that the Dodgers had Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in their primes and didn’t even make it to the World Series.
Would it be nice to have Harper and another starting pitcher? Sure, it’s always nice to add quality players to your team. But to say this means they won’t win the World Series is just wrong.
So as it stands now, I still think the Dodgers win the NL West, and, going by recent history, they will make a trade at the deadline to improve the team. Two years ago, it was Yu Darvish. Last season it was Machado. Who will it be this season?
The other big news that is somewhat related to Harper was Nolan Arenado signing an eight-year, $260-million deal, extending his Rockies contract. That takes a big name off next season’s list of free agents. The biggest name. The Dodgers were thought to be targeting Arenado after this season, but that’s off the table.
But let’s not get too carried away worrying about next offseason. Let’s refocus on this year’s team. It has some questions. Let’s take a look at three.
Clayton Kershaw: Monday we learned what everyone pretty much knew. Kershaw may not be ready on opening day. Manager Dave Roberts was told it seemed difficult to believe Kershaw would be ready and he said, “That’s fair. The main thing is he’s trending in the right direction, and when he’s game-ready is when he’s game-ready.”
Kershaw has shoulder inflammation. The Dodgers say it is nothing to worry about, but anyone who has followed Kershaw the last couple of seasons knows it is something to worry about. I’ll believe that Kershaw is 100% when I see evidence of it. I haven’t seen evidence that he is 100% for a long, long time, and we may be living in a world where Kershaw makes 20 starts a season from now on.
Corey Seager: On Friday, Seager had four at-bats and ran the bases in a minor-league camp game. He did not play defense, but extended his throwing program to 150 feet “and it was on a line,” Roberts said. “Corey had a good day.”
Russell Martin: His back has tightened up from “overuse,” which seems odd only a week into spring training. I get the feeling we may see either Keibert Ruiz or Will Smith sooner than anyone expected this season.
By the way, for those of you asking about the Dodgers signing A.J. Ellis, he retired and is a special assistant in the Padres’ front office.
Ask Ross Porter
Ross Porter will once again answer reader questions this season. All you have to do is email me your question at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will forward the email on to Ross, and he will answer two or three each week. Ross has done this every year for the newsletter and has done it for free, so my thanks go out to him.
KTLA will televise 10 Dodger games during the season. They are:
Tuesday, April 2, vs. San Francisco, 7 p.m.
Friday, April 12, vs. Milwaukee, 7 p.m.
Thursday, April 18, at Milwaukee, 5 p.m.
Wednesday, April 24, at Chicago Cubs, 5 p.m.
Saturday, April 27, vs. Pittsburgh, 6 p.m.
Saturday, May 11, vs. Washington, 6 p.m.
Monday, May 27, vs. New York Mets, 5 p.m.
Thursday, May 30, vs. New York Mets, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 1, vs. Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
Saturday, June 15, vs. Chicago Cubs, 6 p.m.
All-time 40-man roster
We concluded the 40-man roster by voting for a manager and coaching staff. I gave you a list of 13 former managers and asked you to vote for five, with the person receiving the most votes being named manager and the next four named coaches. I got an astounding 26,130 ballots, and here are the results:
Walter Alston, named on 100% of ballots
Tommy Lasorda, 99.9%
Leo Durocher, 68.3%
Dave Roberts, 59.2%
Joe Torre, 37.2%
Not making the team
Chuck Dressen, 31.4%
Wilbert Robinson, 25.9%
Casey Stengel, 21.6%
Burt Shotton, 19%
Jim Tracy, 13%
Don Mattingly, 8.3%
Bill Dahlen, 4.1%
Ned Hanlon, 0.7%
Alston and his coaches will be in charge of these players:
Pee Wee Reese
That’s a pretty good team.
Andre Ethier says goodbye. Watch it here.