Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Clayton Kershaw and the value beyond a World Series

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Whether it happens on the first or last day of October, the 2018 Dodger season will end in a matter of weeks, and the legendary Clayton Kershaw, if healthy, will likely exercise his option to tear up his current contract and seek a new one.

It’s not that the $65 million Kershaw is promised from 2019-2020 isn’t a lovely sum. But at this moment, Kershaw is better positioned to go for his next big contract this winter, rather than taking the chance of having a better profile two years down the road.

It’s been six months since I last brought up this topic, and my opinion hasn’t changed. While other teams might engage in serious talks with Kershaw as a free agent, I still think the odds strongly favor him returning to Chavez Ravine on a new or extended deal. I explained why in great detail in the previous post, but to boil things down to a single thought: There is no franchise for whom Kershaw means more than the Los Angeles Dodgers, and it makes sense that their contract offer will reflect that.

It’s that point I wish to expand upon here.

Understandably, there will be no shortage of opinion out there that the Dodgers would be better off allocating their future resources somewhere besides Kershaw’s wallet. Sentiment be damned, the 30-year-old lefty is no longer at his peak, and the forthcoming decline could be anything from disheartening to downright ugly. That’s before considering that, although he has already missed parts of four of the past five seasons with injuries, Kershaw hasn’t had the single knockout blow that has sidelined him for an entire year. How long can he keep dodging that freight train?

I hear that. And I want to state, for everyone to see, that I don’t care. 

Read More

Floro flourishing

In the full month since being called for the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad walkoff balk on August 18, Dylan Floro has faced 42 batters in 10 1/3 innings without allowing a run, while stranding all three inherited runners.

Floro has allowed eight hits — all singles — and three walks, while striking out 12.

Overall as a Dodger, Floro has a 1.33 ERA and 0.85 WHIP (his WHIP is below 1.00 against both lefty and righty batters), with one homer allowed in his 27 innings.

Update: OK, I just had it in my head to do a quick and dirty post on Floro. But simultaneously, Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs was working on a much more thoro take on Floro, that frankly shamed me. But you know, I don’t do this full-time anymore …

The Dodger pitching pecking order for the stretch run

Ross Stripling remains an X factor on the Dodger pitching staff. (Ryan Meyer/MLB.com)

Considering what a mess the Dodger bullpen was a month ago, seemingly undermining every strong effort the starting pitchers made, you might be surprised to see the Los Angeles pitching staff has coalesced more than a little bit. The relief corps still won’t frighten any opponents (yet), but there is some order in the court.

Honestly, this staff can do the job in a vacuum — the question will be, can it do the job in a tornado?

Read More

For the first time since facing Matt Adams, Clayton Kershaw returns to St. Louis

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Sometime around 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time on Thursday, Clayton Kershaw will throw his first pitch in St. Louis since … that one. 

It has been 47 months since Kershaw’s last pitch at Busch Stadium, 47 months since the curveball that Matt Adams pulverized for a three-run home run that cost the Dodgers a 2-0 lead in the fourth and ultimately final game of the 2014 National League Division Series.

Read More

Pedro Baez — yes, Pedro Baez — shows why he belongs

Someday soon, Pedro Baez will give up a run — a meaningless run or a critical run — and Twitter will erupt anew with demands for his release and querulous queries of how he could possibly still be on the Dodgers?

Read More

Why baseball defies your expectations

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Baseball is inherently — and obviously — uncertain.

Read More

59 since ’59 — Remembering Sandy Koufax’s record-setting breakout game in Los Angeles

Sandy Koufax wasn’t unknown when he arrived in Los Angeles from Brooklyn, but it was on this date in 1959 that the fans out West caught their best glimpse of the future Hall of Famer.

Read More

The Dodgers might not have a 10-game winner this year

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Pitcher wins are a nuisance as a measure of success and basically only qualify as trivia, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be interesting or deeply weird trivia.

And it’s interesting and deeply weird that for the first time in franchise history, the Dodgers might not have a single pitcher win 10 games this season.

Read More

Would you have fired Tommy Lasorda before the 1981 season?

Beginning his much-sought managing career in 1977, Tommy Lasorda won two National League West titles and two National League Championship Series in his first two seasons as Dodger manager.

The team fell both times in the World Series to the Yankees. In 1978, the Dodgers lost their final four games in a row, and were wiped out by a combined 19-4 score in the final two.

The 1979 Dodgers were a disaster — in last place at the All-Star break before rallying to finish third in the division, but still with their worst record in more than a decade.

The 1980 Dodgers were a competitive team in a thrilling division race, but on the brink of completing an historic comeback, dissolved in a 7-1 defeat that makes Game 7 of the 2017 World Series look ultra-close.

So after four years at the helm, the 53-year-old Lasorda averaged 91 wins per season, with two division titles, while extending the Dodgers’ drought without winning a World Series to 15 years, the longest gap in Los Angeles history.

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to suggest that if social media had existed back in October 1980, the cries for Lasorda’s head would have been deafening. I can still hear faint echoes from talk radio.

So — and this is a sincere question — should Lasorda have been fired before the 1981 season?

Read More

Dodgers need to stop playing below their heads

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Look, I know everyone’s in a panic over their recent collapse, but despite their three-game losing streak, I still think the Boston Red Sox will make the playoffs.

Oh, you were asking about the Dodgers?

Read More

Interview: Carl Erskine speaks about the Dodgers and his life in baseball


In November 2016, Carl Erskine, who pitched for the Dodgers from 1948-59, spent an hour with me on the phone for my first interview after I signed the deal to write Brothers in Arms: Koufax, Kershaw, and the Dodgers’ Extraordinary Pitching Tradition. The conversation was wonderful — something for all baseball fans to enjoy — and offered so much more than I could present in the book. Carl offers incredible detail about what it was like to come up with the Dodgers at the dawn of the Boys of Summer era.

Here is an opportunity for you to hear the conversation in full. It is, technically, the first episode of a podcast that I planned to start about four years ago (but obviously, never got around to) called Word to the Weisman. You can listen to it below, or you can click here to find it on iTunes.

If you enjoyed this or would like to hear other interviews from me, please let me know in the comments below, or reach out to me @jonweisman on Twitter.

Enjoy!

A Boring tunnel won’t dent journey to Dodger Stadium

If the trouble with driving to Dodger Stadium were only about the area immediately around Dodger Stadium, that would be a blessing.

Instead, the time needed for the journey just to get within shouting distance of Chavez Ravine has more or less doubled over the past 35 years. It’s basically a 15-mph drive on your average night now, and that’s with all the science of applications like Waze theoretically making travel more efficient.

The problem with driving to Dodger Stadium is the problem with driving in Los Angeles. There are simply too many cars on the road.

Long before sunset arrives on Sunset, the entire city has become the parking lot.

So consider that amid Wednesday’s news that the Boring Company will dig a tunnel that will move people “from Los Feliz, East Hollywood or Rampart Village” to Dodger Stadium.

Read More

Meanwhile, what’s happening with the Dodger offense?

Cold and hot: Manny Machado and Justin Turner (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Justin Turner has been on fire. Since returning from his second trip of the year to the disabled list in early August, Turner has a .488 on-base percentage and .714 slugging percentage. More than that, he’s all but been his usual self since June 1, with an .885 OPS.

Yasiel Puig has been on fire. Since his own DL trip ended in early May, the right fielder has a .365 OBP while slugging .578, for a .943 OPS.

Cody Bellinger has been on fire. Since August 1, Bellinger has matched Turner’s .488 OBP while slugging a nearly compatible .605.

Brian Dozier has been on fire. Starting his Dodger clock on August 1, Dozier is OBPing .429 and slugging .590. Despite an apparent EKG scare Monday, the second baseman is in tonight’s starting lineup for the Dodgers.

Nevertheless, several Dodgers have very much not been on fire, leading to four straight losses and a 5-10 plunge over their past 15 games).

While the Dodger bullpen has pitched under a laser-firing microscope for the past several days, the underplayed story is how the offense has let the team down, scoring a total of nine runs in the final three games at Colorado and then two more Monday against the Giants.

Since July 29, the Dodgers have scored 59 runs in those 15 games, but 21 runs came August 2 against Milwaukee. In the remaining 14, the Dodgers are averaging 2.7 runs per game.

There’s no particular shame in being held to two by the likes of Madison Bumgarner, even if one of them is on a collision-inducing bloop double by Clayton Kershaw, but there’s still an important mini-trend to process.

In making their July deals, the Dodgers bet big on bats, acquiring Dozier and Manny Machado. Their additions to the bullpen, Dylan Floro and the now fibula-challenged John Axford, look altogether small by comparison — but keep in mind baseball is a run-differential game. If you increase your offense, your bullpen gets more cushion. The Dodgers looked to ease the strain of their pen with a workaround, and certainly, the plan to eventually move two strong starting pitchers like Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling into relief played into that intent.

Obviously, over the past week, the strategy could not have looked worse, with the bullpen giving up go-ahead runs in six straight games. Kenley Jansen’s heart issue unexpectedly put more pressure on the relief crew than it was ready to handle. But also, the Dodger offense came to the rescue only once, in Thursday’s crazy 8-5 win. So when you look at the culprits of an ugly week, they include not only the relievers, but the recent performance of Matt Kemp, Chris Taylor, Joc Pederson and perhaps most frustratingly, Machado.

Read More

‘But at least I have a husband’: Airplane quotes that apply to the Dodgers’ past four days

Randy, are you all right?

Oh, Dr. Rumack, I’m scared. I’ve never been so scared. And besides, I’m 26 and I’m not married.

We’re going to make it, you’ve got to believe that.

[a woman passenger comes in]

Dr. Rumack, do you have any idea when we’ll be landing?

Pretty soon, how are you bearing up?

Well, to be honest, I’ve never been so scared. But at least I have a husband.

* * *

Read More

Which starting pitchers should move into the bullpen for the Dodgers?

Kenley Jansen’s absence puts more pressure on the rest of the Dodger pitching staff to step up.
(Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

All summer long, the big question for the Dodger pitching staff has been which relievers would serve as the bridge to Kenley Jansen.

But with the distressing news that Jansen will be sidelined at least into September with an irregular heartbeat, we now have to ponder not only the bridge, but the destination.

You can read all the options the Dodgers have available in my recent review of the Dodger pitching staff, and Dustin Nosler of Dodgers Digest has a post up today looking specifically at who might close in Jansen’s absence.

My focus today is on the fact that it’s obvious that the Dodgers, who will soon have seven starting pitchers available with the impending returns of Alex Wood and Hyun-Jin Ryu from the disabled list, will need to move at least one starting pitcher to the bullpen — two if they don’t go with a six-man rotation.

Read More

Page 1 of 367

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén