Newsletter: Dodgers Dugout: What to do about Joc Pederson?

Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson has been slumping lately.

Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson has been slumping lately.

(Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

Hi, welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and it’s tough to write this newsletter when I’m up all night worrying about the Taylor Swift-Nicki Minaj feud.

What’s up, Joc?

All season in this newsletter, I’ve been saying Joc Pederson will win the Rookie of the Year award. I’m not so sure now. In fact, I’m not sure he should even be in the Dodgers’ lineup right now. Since June 23, Pederson is hitting .163 (15 for 92) with one home run and 33 strikeouts. Ouch. But what do you do about it? If you bench him, you risk killing his confidence. You risk the same thing if you send him down to the minors. Manager Don Mattingly still has him batting leadoff most games, which really doesn’t make a lot of sense. Mattingly has traditionally been slow to react to things. After all, this is the guy who kept Brian Wilson in the setup role for most of last season when even people who knew nothing about the sport could tell he wasn’t pitching well. Here’s what I would do: Drop Pederson back to eighth in the lineup and take some pressure off him. He’s hitting .308 this season when he bats in the eight spot.

Howie is upset

Howie Kendrick is tired of all the naysayers who have been criticizing the Dodgers this season. The second baseman posted the following on his Instagram account Tuesday: “It’s funny how people who have never played baseball at a professional level or maybe even high school have an opinion about baseball. Of course it’s easy to sit on the couch and be a good coach or player. I guarantee you everyone that is talking would look like a complete fool in the batters box. There’s a reason we are Major League Baseball players. So will all the coaches and critics go follow someone else. Our team is fine.” Kendrick later removed the post, but it had already been captured in a screen grab by several people.

I hope when Kendrick goes to a restaurant that he never complains about the food, or if he goes to a movie, he never says it is bad. After all, it’s easy to sit and complain when you have never been a professional chef or a movie director. He would look like a complete fool in a pro kitchen or a movie set.

As long as they are respectful, it is good when fans complain and worry. It shows they care about you and the team.

What to do about Greinke

In my last newsletter, I asked if you would opt out of your contract after this season if you were Zack Greinke, and I asked what kind of deal you would offer him if you were the Dodgers. Some of your responses:

Rich Jones of Rocklin, Calif.: If I'm Greinke I opt out. It's a no-brainer really. He is still young enough to get a very large deal. If I am the Dodgers I would get out front of it. Offer to bump the next two years to $30 million and leave 2018 as is with added incentives or bump 2018 to $30 million and make it a team option year.

Stephen Rothman: If Greinke breaks Hershiser's record in the next two games I would immediately give him a bonus raise for the remainder of his contract of about $6.21 million a year. This would match Clayton Kershaw's salary of $30.71 million a year. My hope would be that this gesture would show Greinke respect and appreciation.

Ben Curry: Well, as a 57-year fan I have seen a lot of Dodger pitchers over the years, Koufax, Drysdale, Osteen, Messersmith, Marshall, Valenzuela, Hershiser, etc., and I think Greinke,  right now, is pretty close to being just as dominant as those guys were in their prime. So I would like to see them offer Zack five years at $31.5 million per year. They could also try getting a little innovative and offer him $180 million over six years with a mutual option for either side to opt out after 4 or 5 years.

Crawford’s good attitude

Carl Crawford, who seemed to be on the DL since the Reagan administration, was activated on Tuesday, but he will be a bench player for the foreseeable future. And he’s fine with that. "Donnie's going to do his best to mix me in when he can, but you can't argue with what's been going on. I'll just have to wait my turn." Remember that the next time you think pro athletes are more into themselves than the team.

Mattingly’s strange move of the week

The Braves started Julio Teheran against the Dodgers on Wednesday, and Yasiel Puig started the game on the bench. In his career, Puig is hitting .625 against Teheran. That is his highest batting average against any pitcher he has faced at least 10 times. Wouldn’t it have been a good idea to have him in the lineup?

And finally

Dodger legend Fernando Valenzuela became a U.S. citizen on Wednesday when he took the oath of allegiance with approximately 8,000 other people in a ceremony in downtown L.A. You have to wonder if Donald Trump sent him a gift basket.

Have a comment or something you'd like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston.