Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and it turned out that the team we had is the team we have.
So, the trade deadline was Wednesday at 1 p.m. Let’s take a look at all the players the Dodgers acquired to make sure this is the year they win the World Series. Let’s see. Still looking. I know it must be here somewhere.
No, they didn’t get Felipe Vazquez or Will Smith. Didn’t get Shane Greene. Hmm, let’s see, I must be overlooking it. Wait, what? They got utility player Jedd Gyorko, who is on the 60-day IL and may not be ready till September? OK. But what about the bullpen?
They got left-hander Adam Kolarek from the Tampa Bay Rays.
That’s it? That’s all they got?
Yeah, that’s all they got.
Kolarek was 4-3 with a 3.95 ERA for the Rays, giving up 39 hits and walking 14 while striking out 36 in 43.1 innings. He has an inherited runners who scored % of 25 (7 for 28 have scored), which is decent.
He is here to get key left-handers out late in games. Lefties are hitting .187/.238/.293 against him this season while righties are hitting .272/.357/.478.
Will he be useful in the bullpen? Sure, against left-handers, and the Dodgers do need that. But with all due respect to Kolarek, he’s just another guy in a bullpen filled with just another guys.
The Dodgers could have gotten Vazquez from the Pirates, but would have had to give up top prospect Gavin Lux to do so. He could be an impact player for many years (or, he could be a bust. We won’t know until he actually plays in the majors). It’s important to note that Lux is hitting .465 in 101 at-bats at triple-A Oklahoma City after hitting .313/.375/.921 in almost 300 plate appearances in double-A Tulsa. He looks like the real deal.
Let’s look at Wednesday’s events in the eyes of a Dodgers fan:
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! They didn’t get a shutdown reliever. It’s all over! They can’t win the World Series! I can’t believe the inadequacy of the front office! Don’t they want to win! Fire all of them!
And, to be honest, that was my reaction for the most part. Except the “They can’t win the World Series” part. The Dodgers still don’t have a good bullpen and almost all of the teams they will be competing against in October improved themselves. It’s an understandable reaction.
But once you let all of your emotions and disappointment out about Wednesday, here’s what we are left with:
The current Dodgers leadership doesn’t believe in going all in on the bullpen. Never have. They prefer getting castoffs, people coming off injuries, and pitchers they believe they can help improve. That’s how they got Joe Blanton and Brandon Morrow, who were keys in 2016 and 2017. When they did try it the other way, they signed Joe Kelly, which hasn’t been a success (though a look at his numbers before this season don’t make this a huge surprise). Last year, they just rode whoever was hot into the playoffs. That was Pedro Baez.
The Dodgers are averse to dealing their top prospects. They want to have a team that competes every year, not a team that wins the World Series one year, then finishes out of the playoffs several seasons down the road because they have traded their best young players. The premise is that getting to the playoffs is the difficult part. Once you do that, it’s pretty much a crapshoot as to who will win.
The last three seasons, the Dodgers made trade deadline deals and they didn’t win the World Series. They got Rich Hill in 2016, Yu Darvish in 2017 and Manny Machado in 2018. These deals were hailed by most as great moves. In retrospect people hate Darvish, but at the time of the trade most Dodger fans were ecstatic. It ended up meaning … not much.
Past performance does not guarantee future success for relievers. Remember on June 1, when Dodgers fans were angry they did not sign Craig Kimbrel and the Cubs did? Kimbrel has a 6.75 ERA and hasn’t been lights out. Ken Giles lost his job as Astros closer while they were on their way to winning the World Series. Kimbrel lost his job as Red Sox closer during the playoffs last season.
So those are the rationales for not making a trade.
But here’s the problem the Dodgers face, and they often seem oblivious to this: Fans are tired of not winning the World Series. They are tired of watching ticket prices skyrocket with no title to soothe their wallet. They are tired of watching the team tiptoe up to the luxury tax line without crossing it while also announcing $100-million stadium redesigns and, again, rising ticket prices.
So, what the Dodgers did Wednesday is set themselves up to where the only way to please fans this season is to win the World Series. Don’t really want to improve the team? You better win the World Series. Don’t want to make the big trade? You better win the World Series. Have a team that can’t be seen on TV by most people? You better win the World Series. Think people are satisfied just making the playoffs every year? Think again. How many Buffalo Bills fans are satisfied with making it to the Super Bowl multiple times and not winning it?
Better yet, how many Atlanta Braves fans are satisfied with being the best team in baseball throughout the 1990s and only winning one World Series? Not many. And they actually won a World Series.
If only there were someone in the Dodger front office who can relate to what the Braves went through. Then again, it might not matter to that person as long as fans are filling the seats.
By the way, what did Andrew Friedman have to say about all of this?
”We feel we’ve got a team and depth in place to win a championship,” he said in a conference call after the deadline had passed. “As we spend time kind of laying out what the prospective bullpen looks like in October, we feel good about the talent we have in house. Now it’s all about syncing it up and putting together the unit in a way that is a real asset for us. Now we’ve got to figure out the right combination of guys and we’ve got two months and lot of really talented arms.’’
There could be on saving grace to all this. In October, the Dodgers could add Kenta Maeda to the bullpen. He did great there in 2017, OK in 2018. Also, there is the intriguing yet longshot possibility of Rich Hill. If he comes back in September, could he be added to the bullpen, figuring his arm won’t be ready to make starts yet? A big longshot, but intriguing. And Dustin May, their top pitching prospect, could be in the bullpen before the postseason. They tried that with Walker Buehler in 2017 and it didn’t work. Could it work with a different pitcher this season?
But what it really comes down to is this. The Dodgers need Kenley Jansen to pitch like the old Kenley Jansen while realizing that the old Jansen may be gone for good. They need Joe Kelly to pitch like the guy who pitched against them in October last season. They need Kolarek to be as good against lefties as hoped. They need Pedro Baez to remain effective.
The problem is none of us know how any of this will turn out. Not you, not me, not the Dodgers. But we do know it is going to be a long two months until the playoffs. And it will be a nervous playoffs whenever the bullpen is called upon. And that if the Dodgers don’t win the World Series, most fans will point to Wednesday as the day the World Series was lost.
That’s a tough way to go about your business. I just hope the Dodgers get the last laugh.
For another viewpoint, please click here and read what Bill Plaschke had to say about it.
This week’s poll
Keeping all of the above in mind, would you have traded Gavin Lux for Felipe Vazquez or another shutdown reliever? Click here to vote.
Trade deadline deals
Here’s what happened Wednesday:
Dodgers: Acquired reliever Adam Kolarek from Tampa Bay for Class A outfielder Niko Hulsizer; acquired utility player Jedd Gyorko from St. Louis for pitcher Tony Cingrani and minor league right-hander Jeffry Abreu.
Atlanta: Acquired right-handed reliever Mark Melancon from San Francisco; acquired catcher John Ryan Murphy from Colorado for cash considerations, acquired trade right-handed reliever Shane Greene from Detroit for pitcher Joey Wentz.
Chicago Cubs: Acquire outfielder Nick Castellanos from Detroit.
Houston: Acquired right-hander Zack Greinke for Corbin Martin, J.B. Bukauskas, Seth Beer and Josh Rojas; acquired catcher Martín Maldonado from the Cubs for Tony Kemp.
Milwaukee: Acquired left-hander Drew Pomeranz and right-hander Ray Black from San Francisco for infielder Mauricio Dubon; acquired first baseman Jesus Aguilar from Tampa Bay for right-hander Jacob Faria.
Minnesota: Acquired reliever Sam Dyson from San Francisco.
Oakland: Acquired right-hander Tanner Roark from Cincinnati for a minor leaguer.
San Diego: Acquired reliever Carl Edwards Jr. from the Cubs.
San Francisco: Acquired infielder Scooter Gennett from Cincinnati.
Tampa Bay: Acquired starting pitcher Trevor Richards and reliever Nick Anderson from Miami for relievers Ryne Stanek and Jesus Sanchez to Marlins.
Washington: Acquired right-hander Hunter Strickland from Seattle for left-hander Aaron Fletcher; acquired left-hander Roenis Elias from Seattle for right-hander Elvis Alvarado and left-hander Taylor Guilbeau; acquired right-hander Daniel Hudson from Toronto for minor-league pitcher Kyle Johnston.
Read Mike DiGiovanna’s analysis of the trade deadline deals by clicking here.
Earlier this week
The Dodgers acquired infielder Kristopher Negrón from Seattle for infielder Daniel Castro. Negrón will fill the void left by injuries to Chris Taylor and Kiké Hernandez. Negron has a .215 average in 141 career games, though he has already hit two homers for L.A.
Also, in case you missed it, the Reds traded Yasiel Puig to the Cleveland Indians as part of a three-team trade that included Trevor Bauer. Puig, of course, celebrated by getting involved in a benches-clearing brawl.
Ask Ross Porter
Ross Porter will once again answer reader questions this season. All you have to do is email me your question at email@example.com. I will forward the question to Ross, and he will answer some each week. Take it away, Ross.
Monte Moore of Porterville, Calif. asks: Ross, we were announcing Class D baseball in our native Oklahoma in the 1950s and sharing broadcasts. I went on to air Oakland A’s games during four decades, and you had 28 seasons with the Dodgers. What were the odds on that happening? My friend, don’t you think one of the big changes in the game has been the pitching?
Ross: Wonderful to hear from you, Monte. Congratulations on a tremendous career. Yes, I agree. Last season was the first time there were more strikeouts than hits. (41,207/41,020). 22% of batters struck out. The number of pitchers per team per game was a record high 4.4. There were 16,000 pitching changes a year ago. MLB teams pitch 1,450 innings in a season. Starting pitchers averaged 5 1/3 innings in 2018 so relievers are more important than ever. Sources: baseball-reference, retrosheet, fivethirtyeight.
David Kiffer of Ketchikan, Alaska asks: Besides Pedro Martinez for Delino DeShields, which personnel moves do the Dodgers wish they could have back?
Ross: I would nominate John Franco for Rafael Landestoy in 1983. Franco went to the Reds, then the Mets and in 22 years pitched in an NL record 1,119 games. His 424 saves are the major league high for left-handers. John’s ERA was 2.89. Landestoy, an infielder, batted .172 for the dodgers in 1983, .185 in 1984, and was released.
Bill Bradley of Las Cruces, N.M. asks: What happened to the interpreters for Kenta Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu?
Ross: Will Ireton, who helped Kenta, is with the Dodgers’ triple-A coaching staff in Oklahoma City, but not as an interpreter. Martin Kim, who helped Hyun-Jin, took a position with Major League Baseball Asian Operations.
Doug Buhler of San Gabriel asks: Did Koufax and Drysdale ever start both games of a doubleheader, and has any pitcher ever started both games?
Ross: No, Sandy and Don never did, but Doug, it’s happened 103 times in history, 72 between 1901 and 1919. Since 1945, just four men have done it. One was Don Newcombe of the Dodgers against the Phillies in 1950, hurling a shutout in the first game, going seven innings in the nightcap, trailing 2-0, but the Dodgers scored three in the ninth to win. The last time a pitcher started both games was in 1973 when knuckleballer Wilbur Wood of the White Sox faced the Yankees. The first six New York batters all scored, and Wood was gone after 26 pitches. In the next game, he retired the first nine, but was knocked out in the fifth inning, losing 7-0. Wilbur’s ERA that day was 20.
You can follow Ross on Twitter: @therossporter
All times Pacific
Tonight: San Diego (*Joey Lucchesi) at Dodgers (*Clayton Kershaw), 7 p.m.
Friday: San Diego (*Eric Lauer) at Dodgers (TBA), 7 p.m.
Saturday: San Diego (TBA) at Dodgers (TBA), 6 p.m.
Sunday: San Diego (Chris Paddack) at Dodgers (TBA), 1 p.m.
Game 3 of the 1977 NLCS. Watch it here.