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Dodgers mailbag: Who is the first baseman of the future?

Adrian Gonzalez
Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez throws a baseball to fans on June 15.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

The Dodgers are 38-33. That translates to an 86-win pace, a tick upward thanks to this weekend’s series victory over Milwaukee. The Dodgers took three of four from the Brewers, one of several teams tanking in 2016, to create this fun fact: If the season had ended on Sunday, the Dodgers would face the Miami Marlins in the National League wild card playoff game.

But of course, the season does not end in the middle of June. The Dodgers have kept their heads above water as the Cardinals, Mets and Pirates all founder. Even so, the team would prefer to capture its fourth consecutive division crown. The team enters the week trailing San Francisco by 6.5 games in the National League West.

So, as always, there are plenty of questions to answer. You can send them to me on Twitter @McCulloughTimes. Let’s do this.

In a less-than-stunning development, yes, more than a few Dodgers have grumbled about the team letting Zack Greinke escape to a division rival. This should not be considered a shock, given the esteem Greinke’s teammates granted him and the performances he provided during his tenure as a Dodger.

But it’s inaccurate to say the Dodgers have put a preference on the farm system over the major-league roster. They are trying to thread the needle between accomplishing both goals, which is far from easy, a task many teams attempt and few pull off seamlessly.

The team still spent money in the off-season, going after guys like Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda after the front office elected to let Greinke leave. The lack of spending on the bullpen caused heartache in April, but the group has settled into a groove since then. The trade deadline will present another test for Andrew Friedman’s group – are they willing to cull talent from the minor-league surplus to improve the big-league group? – but they are certainly trying to win now. It just isn’t the 100% focus, a reality that understandably can be bothersome to fans and, on occasion, players alike.

That would be Cody Bellinger, who was Baseball America’s No. 54 prospect at the start of the season. He is hitting .255 for double-A Tulsa with a .762 on-base plus slugging percentage.

Bellinger and highly touted outfielder Alex Verdugo are the only 20-year-old position players on the Drillers. The average age for a position player in the Texas League is 24.

One thing worth monitoring: Adrian Gonzalez is still under contract through the 2018 season. But after 2017, Eric Hosmer will be a free agent.

When I started covering this team in January, I felt Clayton Kershaw was the best pitcher on the planet. After a few months around him, I see why. I’ve been lucky to cover some great players during the last seven years: David Wright, Mariano Rivera and Wade Davis immediately come to mind. But Kershaw stands in a class by himself in terms of his dedication to his craft and the consistency of his work.

A.J. Ellis likes to say Kershaw is not the hardest worker he’s ever seen. He’s the most consistent. In a sport like this, consistency trumps everything else. Kershaw is the most consistent player I’ve ever been around. It’s a remarkable thing to watch.

I have no idea. Yasiel Puig has shown no evidence of an upcoming revival, but the only thing harder in this life than hitting a baseball is predicting the future.

When you’re the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, you live on the hot seat. I do not expect the Dodgers to finish with a losing record. If they do, there will be some rumblings about Roberts’ future. But it’s pretty unlikely he’d be in any sort of trouble, given the onslaught of injuries suffered in spring training and how Roberts impressed the brass during the interview process.

There are legitimate criticisms to be levied toward Andrew Friedman.

This is not one of them.

Based on chaos theory, there’s so way of knowing. The Warriors might have won the title. I might have eaten a kale salad on Sunday night instead of a fried chicken sandwich. Anything is possible.

To do what?

No.

(Jake Arrieta won’t be a free agent until after 2017.)

Tom Selleck.

My favorite book is “The Fight,” Norman Mailer’s account of The Rumble in The Jungle. It’s the book that made me want to write for a living. Here, in no particular order, are 10 others that matter to me.

  1. “What It Takes” by Richard Ben Cramer.
  2. “Friday Night Lights” by Buzz Bissinger.
  3. “Less Than Zero” by Bret Easton Ellis.
  4. “The Stand” by Stephen King.
  5. “The Best and The Brightest” by David Halberstam.
  6. “The Last Night of The Yankee Dynasty” by Buster Olney.
  7. “Killing Yourself To Live” by Chuck Klosterman.
  8. “The Bridge” by David Remnick.  
  9. “In The Lake of The Woods” by Tim O’Brien.
  10. “The Looming Tower” by Lawrence Wright.

I would prefer they save The Three Way Shield Dance for Wrestlemania, but I can see them burning it next month. Vince McMahon has always preferred 1-on-1 main events at Mania. I agree with that philosophy, but I think a triple threat match with Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins would supersede that rule.

I only caught the main event on Sunday at Money In The Bank, but I’m genuinely curious about three things going forward:

  1. How much of Rollins’ awkwardness in certain spots was due to rust, and how much is just his new normal post-surgery?
  2. Does Reigns go full heel?
  3. Will Ambrose ever learn how to properly throw a punch? Doubtful, but I’m glad the company rewarded him for stinking up the joint last month in that cage match with Chris Jericho.

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