Dodger Thoughts

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

Three top questions for the 2014 Dodgers

As we look to the future, in no particular order:

1) What happens to half the infield? Juan Uribe is a free agent, while Mark Ellis has a $5.75 million club option or a $1 million buyout. Signing a major bat for second base might make it more comfortable for the Dodgers to bring back Uribe (at a paycut) for his defense. If not Robinson Cano, then Alexander Guerrero? If not Guerrero, then whom?

2) What happens with the outfielders? You say it’s one too many, but the medical reports indicate otherwise. Remember the illusion of this year’s starting pitcher surplus. There’s little reason to give one away on a salary dump, and little more reason to think the Dodgers can get top value for any of those they would even consider trading before they prove themselves healthy. So whither the quartet? Does minor-leaguer Joc Pederson step into a major-league role or become trade bait?

3) What happens with the starting pitching? Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu are locks, but what about the other spots? Ricky Nolasco and Edinson Volquez will likely be free agents, and Chris Capuano will be bought out for $1 million. Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett will be coming back from major injuries. If past patterns are any indication, the earliest arrival for Zack Lee from the minors will be May. That’s a lot of gray area in next year’s rotation. Bet the over on David Price trade rumors.


What a ride, what a ride


Dodgers havana field day with Cuban talent, reportedly signing Alexander Guerrero


  1. thescrounger

    Did anyone post those funny pictures Card fans madf and had the Dodgers sign?

  2. btimmer

    I’m hoping that the Cult of Mark Ellis will stamped out after this year. Although it would be nice to have a second baseman to prevent a lot of singles to right field. Uribe seems to have more boom and bust cycles than the U.S. economy in the late 19th Century.

  3. PismoBruce

    Peralta is a rumored option at third

  4. GoDodgersFromWisconsin

    Take the outfielders, leave the manager.

  5. Bumsrap

    I like the extra time I now have that will not be in front of a TV.

  6. Bumsrap

    The World Series would not be the same if the Dodgers were in it but Ramirez was at 50%, Ethier at whatever he is at, and no Kemp.

  7. Bumsrap

    2014 outfield

  8. Spence

    I would not bring back Uribe. I think Dodgers got as much out of him as possible this season and that he’ll go back to being who he usually is next year. I’d put Hanley at 3b, give Dee another shot at SS but also sign a guy like Brendan Ryan to back him up. I then hopefully sign Guerrero for 2b. OF should be Kemp, Either, CC, Puig, Pederson, SVS. I’m sure plenty of that group will be hurt or have nagging injuries so I’d keep all of them. Catcher, I would make a serious run at Brian McCann and if he signs move AJ back to being a backup.

    Starters – I wouldnt sign or trade for anyone new. Kershaw/Greinke/Ryu is fine for a top 3. Beckett/Billingsley/Fife/ZachLee/Magill/Urias (yeah why not) should be enough to cover the final 2 spots. I dont think the Dodgers have enough in the farm system to get David Price, so I think he’s off the table. I could understand bringing Nolasco back but I just think he would end up being redundant, just like Ted Lilly/Harang/Capuano ended up being.

    • KT

      I like your outfield, don’t like your infield and think the dodgers should go after Tanaka to shore up the rotation and see if the price for Nolasco is reasonable enough to use as a #5 until billz gets healthy

    • Ray Sossamon

      Interesting–BUT I would go after David Price-McCann might be someone to look at–Im just not sold on Gorden though–Maybe

  9. dalegribel

    Rumor has the Reds interested in moving Brandon Phillips. The Dodgers could do worse.
    I still think the load of prospects package that Peter Gammons was floating for David Price is still worth exploring. Kershaw, Greinke, Price, Ryu, Nolasco/Billz/Beckett sure takes pressure off of the offense and gets rid of having pitch on short rest in the playoffs.

    • KT

      The rumored “price” for price is too high though, it basically clears out our farm or all our top prospects

      • dalegribel

        Not sure the Dodgers are a prospects based team anymore. Prospects are just that and pitchers like Price aren’t available often. I make the deal.

        • Ray Sossamon

          The only prospects we need now would be Cory Seager and Zach Lee–The rest could be traded-Including Joc Pederson

  10. What a season. The ending wasn’t quite as desired but it was so much fun along the way. Came here this morning to decompress and your articles Jon have done well in helping me with that. Thanks again for another great year of Dodger Thoughts! It was a joy sharing this season with all of you in this online community, hope to see you all next season. Or more likely I’m sure there’ll be plenty of offseason chatter to comment on. Cheers all!

  11. Jack Dawkins

    Ok, so the salt hit the open wound today when the Times printed an article from the Post Dispatch by Bernie Miklaszn celebrating how the classy team and old fashioned values won. The team that values gentleman superstars like Stan Musial won. Seems to me if you constantly have to jump up and down and point out that you are so polite and well mannered, that maybe you are undermining your message.

    • Spence

      I’ve never minded Puig doing his bat flips. I think thats fine. But Adrian Gonzalez was full of nonsense this post season. Hopefully he does not do that stuff next year. Making Mickey Mouse signs? Seriously? It’d be one thing if he were 10 years old doing that, but he’s in his 30s and is a long time veteran.

      • You understand he only did that because of Wainwright’s “Mickey Mouse” comments right? I have no problem with it. And as Vin said himself, baseball needs more passion. Not less.

        • I’m over 60 and I’ve been known to mock people who get a little too up on their high horse. Therefore I have no problem with A-Gon making fun of Wainwright and the rest of those so-called “gentlemen” in St. Louis.

      • Jack Dawkins

        Vin Scully says he did not see the dodgers do anything wrong. Thats good enough for me.

    • dalegribel

      Same “class”team that disavowed Albert Pujols? Every team has pluses and minuses. The money is turning fans against the Dodgers , just like the Yankees. Oh we’ll, no one hates on teams that consistently finish low in the standings.

    • Casey Barker

      I wonder if they remember game two of the 2009 NLDS. Matt Holiday dropped a fly ball. He blamed the fans and their exuberance in waving the white towels. That is not classy or an old-fashioned value. I guess some people’s memories are short.

    • Casey Barker

      Man, they are going to hate Victorino.

  12. WBBsAs

    I’m ambivalent about Uribe – delighted with his defense and skeptical that his modest offensive revival was a one-shot deal. Likewise, I love Mellis’s defense, but he should be batting eighth.

    Not a bad idea to keep all the outfielders around, in principle, but what happens if they’re all healthy for an extended period and jockeying for limited playing time?

    I don’t mind keeping Nolasco, but that leaves one spot up for grabs. Realistically, Beckett and/or Billingsley will not be innings-eaters in 2014. Too bad Bills didn’t opt earlier for the surgery.

  13. twaseverthus

    Same roster. It’s a World Series team, if the health problems are even marginally less awful.

    • WBBsAs

      Bench needs to be strengthened. No Skip, Myung, let SVS fill in occasionally at 1B and OF, and do so pinch-hitting.

  14. stolenmonkey86

    Locking up Kershaw will be the biggest news of the offseason. I expect that it will be a big long term deal that also involves his charitable work rather substantially. Getting David Price is nice, but I don’t see Colletti committing to more than Kershaw, Greinke and Ryu long-term; I can totally see Scott Van Slyke as part of that deal, though. Billingsley has one year left before his option year, and I think they’ll want to ease him into this season so that option makes sense – I see him being the 5th starter who doesn’t make his first start until April 21. I think we’ll see Zach Lee by the 2014 all-star break, and I think Beckett at least stars in the rotation, but will be gone by August 15.

    The other major issue is (1). I was hoping that the preseason pitching surplus would somehow lead to a third baseman, but that doesn’t look likely. Puig is the only tradeable major league outfield the Dodgers have without eating a contract, and I don’t see him going anywhere unless it’s for David Wright. In case you haven’t looked, there aren’t many good third basemen out there. Gordon’s walk rate has improved; and if he can put up anything near the .385 OBP (!) in Albuquerque, then he’s a fine leadoff candidate, and Han-Ram at third makes him a much better choice long-term. I can see keeping Ellis around. Danny Espinosa might be a good bargain piece from the Nationals too.

  15. Spence

    Red Sox – Cardinals, a rare WS where the teams with the two best records in the league match up.

  16. Buster Olney of ESPN is reporting the Dodgers have made essentially a lifetime contract offer to Kershaw in the $300 million range.

    . . . the negotiations progressed enough that there is confidence among
    some with knowledge of the talks that a long-term deal — perhaps more
    conservative in length than the massive contract initially proposed by
    the Dodgers — will be concluded this winter, with a significant portion
    of money being devoted to a charity of Kershaw’s choosing.

  17. ASW1

    5 years / $32 mil sure would have been sweet to wrap up Alex Guerrero before Boras got in his ear.

  18. Sandy K

    All fundamental questions, and it may be months before we know the answers. No one should expect much from Billingsley in 2014. He may need most of the year to heal and adjust to whatever his post-surgery arm allows him to do. Who knows with Beckett? If the Dodgers are going to spend on pitching, give the money to Wilson and sign him for three years. It can’t possibly hurt to have two lights-out closers in the bullpen. I’d like to see the bench consist of something more than overpaid veterans who had their best years in 2007 or earlier. I’d also like to see the Dodgers add someone who’s known as a money player (a Beltran, Ortiz type). On the current team, the only one who fits that description is Ramirez and, maybe, Gonzalez. (Ethier used to be, especially the year he had all those walk-off homers, but age and injury may have robbed him of that quality.) Most of all, the management has to think about molding a championship team, not a collection of stellar individuals. Teams win the World Series. Look at the Cardinals and the Red Sox. Each is more than the sum of their parts. I have to say that I’m distressed that the Dodgers intend to bring back Mattingly. He’s, at best, an average manager. In a recent interview, he was saying, golly gee, I thought I was able to manage OK in the postseason and keep up with the game. Others would disagree. But that he talks in those terms–almost that he’s surprised he could do it–is distressing. He appears to be a very nice man, and the players like him very much. But his management of a game is often questionable, and he has the unsettling quality (like his mentor, Joe Torre) of always favoring lefty/lefty, righty/righty matchups when using the bullpen, rather than taking sufficient account of how well a pitcher is doing in the game. He also didn’t convey, at least publicly, a sufficient sense of urgency, especially about gaining home field advantage. He’s probably coming back no matter what, and that’s unfortunate. A better game manager would get more out of whatever configuration of talent ends up on the 2014 roster.

    • WBBsAs

      The Bearded Exhibitionist is far from a “lights-out closer,” though he did well in a brief audition. His ego will not permit him to play second-fiddle to anybody – even though Jansen is infinitely better – so he’ll look for a job elsewhere.

      • Sandy K

        I don’t like Wilson’s style, but his stats are pretty impressive. No earned runs in 18 postseason innings. He had a terrific season in 2010, when he was the NL’s best reliever. He looked awfully good in his limited time with the Dodgers, and he seemed willing enough to play the assigned role. I can’t say I have any real knowledge of his personality and whether he will accept anything other than being the man in the bullpen. But I’d rather see him protecting a lead than the other possibilities in the Dodger bullpen, save Jansen.

        • WBBsAs

          I agree he was pretty good in a small sample size, but he’s often been erratic.

  19. Howard Fox

    You cannot have too many pitchers, we saw that this year. Bet on David Price being added.
    OF will have Kemp, Ethier, Puig, CC and maybe Pederson. Van Slyke is a gonner, not sure why he was put on the post season roster, just to win the staring contest?
    Hanley stays at SS, he is happy there, and Gordon is not an option, he doesn’t have the feel for the game or any ability other than speed. I was never a fan of keeping a roster spot for a pinch runner. If Uribe comes cheap enough, he stays, Gonzo of course, then 2B will be whoever they decide to overpay for.
    I, for one, am happy with AJ behind the plate. Pitching, defense.
    They wont do it, but the change that is needed is at Manager. I believe a healthy CF catches Beltran’s long fly in game 1, and Greinke has a shutout. Then that ridiculous Gordon for Gonzo running never happens. If we win game 1 we probably win in 4 or maybe 5 games. Wacha is a different pitcher in game 2 with the Cards down 0-1.
    But then again, I am just a fan, what do I know.

    • package206

      It all sounds very logical to me. Especially the part about Mattingly.

    • WBBsAs

      Just about everybody agrees that Mattingly is strategically inept. The question is whether someone just the same or worse would replace him.

      • Howard Fox

        in my mind, you cannot get worse, I believe his decisions cost them at least one game against the Cards…

        • WBBsAs

          You can’t be sure of alternative scenarios, but he sure didn’t help matters.

      • rumped6

        I’ve often said they should keep Donnie, but find something creative and useful for him to do during the, um, games.
        I think “inept” is a little strong.

        As for losing games, I’ve seen some of the best (even Tony from St Louis) cost their side. Strong tendency to overmanage given stakes and abbreviation of post-season.
        Whitey Herzog mighta had two more rings if they coulda put a rope on him in the World Series:-).

        • WBBsAs

          I think “inept” is pretty gentle compared to what I might have said but for Rules Nos. 1, 6, 7 and 8.

    • Bob_Hendley

      I think that the Dee for Gonzo was not unreasonable, give that it was the eight inning of a tie ballgame. You have to go for the win on the road and not play for Gonzo to bat in the 10th and 12th.

      • Howard Fox

        agreed, except Gordon was not going to steal second on Yadi…had AGon been on 2nd, replacing him would have been a no brainer

        • Bob_Hendley

          I think the notion was that Dee might make it to third on a single and score on a double. Replacing Agon when he gets to second might have been a switch to late.

          • Howard Fox

            you may be right, but I still think it would not have been an issue had there been a healthy CF in the 3rd inning

          • Bob_Hendley

            But we didn’t have one. Not sure Shoe makes that play either, but I could certainly be wrong.

          • rumped6

            Bob: same feeling here. Not sure he makes it, but think his odds were
            better than Andre’s.

            OTOH, Skip was big disappointment to me this series – thought he would be Dodger version of Shane Robinson:-).

          • rumped6

            Agree, Howard.

            And my feeling, with the paucity of hits in THAT game, was the only reason to insert Dee was to have him attempt a steal, But I also understand the reluctance there, as he is still not a polished base-runner, let alone crunch-time base stealer.
            Sox/Tigers might have been different IF Jim L had enough confidence in Austin Jackson to let him steal late in game 3. Same problem: Jackson plenty fast,
            but not yet a reliable crunch-time risk.

      • rumped6

        There were just so few chances, it was reasonable to make the choice Donnie did.
        It was courageous in a way.
        But he had to stay aggressive with Dee, and let him try the steal. (High risk/possible reward. That’s always the toughest calculation, it seems to me. Not nearly as straightforward as high risk/definite reward) Instead, the worst of both worlds. No attempt, and Agon lost.

        On a tangent, in four, I think, of the post-season series, needing a run to tie, less than two out and a runner on third, all of the managers (Dodgers, Sox, Braves, Tigers)
        ignored the possibility (and I understand part of it is that their instructional systems do not produce major-league bunters, nor do they) of the SAFETY squeeze, which
        is high reward/only some risk. A continuing puzzle in this joint…

  20. michaelgreenlasvegas

    Well, I’ll express my unlearned opinions. First, do not get rid of any outfielders. Three of them are fragile and the fourth is one crash into the wall away from being fragile. On the starting pitching, if David Price is available for minimal damage, great, and it’s never bad to have a capable 4th or 5th (My dad raised the question: what if they had basically shot Bills with a tranquilizer dart and gotten him in for the surgery when he first seemed to need it? We might have been much better off this season.). If Beckett is ok, he’s fine in that role, and we have to see about Bills.

    The infield is a real question. If Brandon Phillips is available (see David Price trade theory). Uribe doesn’t impress me, but there’s a factor we need to consider: chemistry. You need the good mix. He may be very important to that mix. For the same price? No.

    • Sandy K

      Excellent point about chemistry. If you aim at good chemistry, let Brandon Phillips continue to be a Red.

      • michaelgreenlasvegas

        Sandy, you may well be right, but as I recall, a couple of the acquisitions from the Red Sox supposedly weren’t sterling citizens and all has been wonderful. I wonder just how much we do owe to Donnie. Great strategists are rare among managers, but if he can keep the team happy and wanting to go kill the opposition, so to speak, then he may well be a gem.

        I also wonder about the rumbling in one article that Trey Hillman could be in trouble over strategy. I am reminded that Joe Torre didn’t do quite so well with the Yankees after Don Zimmer’s departure. Donnie may need a wise old head there. I wonder about Charlie Manuel.

        • Sandy K

          You’ve made a couple of very thoughtful points. Mattingly must have something to do with the clubhouse atmosphere. Of course, one has to balance his skill at personal relations with his talent for managing a game. That’s a tough call to make for any outsider. I hope the Dodger front office is wise in weighing those considerations. As for Hillman taking the rap for game decisions, I just don’t know enough about how much he influences Mattingly, much less the advice he provides. Good point about Torre and Zimmer. Don’t know if Mattingly/Manuel (another version of the M&M boys 50 years later?) would be a compatible or successful combination. But I do think highly of Manuel, and, of course, he’s a Dodger!

          • michaelgreenlasvegas

            You, too, Sandy. I’ve always wondered about how influential coaches actually are, and I think the variation is tremendous–Earl Weaver used to say that what mattered most was their ability to play pinochle. I wonder who influences Donnie B. the most. For example, Davey Lopes was supposed to be in charge of the base runners, much as he had been under Manuel. If so, he didn’t seem to have the same touch recently.

          • rumped6

            I, too, asked the Trey Hillman question, a while back. Does he have Donnie’s ear at crunch time, and does Trey have the “feel” for the game a guy like Zimmer had, and will Donnie listen, as Joe SOMETIMES did? Don’t see enough of Ds to have any sense myself.

            And I’ve been making the point about the strange truth that many of the most successful managers have not been great tacticians, to put it mildly. (See T.
            Like the point about Juan and chemistry. My best guess is same as yours regarding the offense, unless they have the mutual brains to make next year
            a “contract” year:-). But I liked his defense a ton! Same with Mark at second.
            Both often made difficult plays look easy (unlike outfielders, anywhere near a wall, making plays look more difficult).

            I wonder how good the chemistry will be if “Bad Yasiel” outweighs the good
            next year (hate the bat flip stuff – what’s next, a bat flip for a bloop double? – but like his aggressive plan in right; just need to see some actual results for that plan.)

            If you’re not runnin’ out any ball that lands three rows deep or less, you’re
            misunderstanding your obligations to your team and the game.

          • michaelgreenlasvegas

            Rumped, I hate the bat flip, but it isn’t limited to him. There IS an interesting story today about how Torre and Kasten had an animated conversation before Game 6 because the umpires told Torre that they have had it with Puig showing them up. Which he was. Not that their strike zones were especially attractive during the series, but the Wild Horse needs to direct his energy a little better.

            I like the defense that Ellis and Uribe played. If we can get better players at those positions, fine with me. If we can’t, they’re fine with me. I do think it’s vital to have good defense at 2B, especially if Hanley is at SS again–not that he is BAD, but he doesn’t remind me of Osborne Earl Smith.

          • Bumsrap

            Umpires need a sense of humor too.

          • michaelgreenlasvegas

            They do, but there’s a great story about that. A minor league president said to the umpires, remember, players are emotional, so let them yell a bit, it’s no big deal. One of the umpires walked up to the president’s desk and said, “You ————- ———– ——–.” The president leaped over the desk at him and the umpire replied, “I’m just yelling a bit. It’s no big deal.”

          • Ray Sossamon

            I Like that

          • dalegribel

            Even dating back to the regular season, I thought umpires were treating Puig differently. If that heated conversation was around Puig, it wouldn’t surprise me to find out Kasten was the agressor.

    • Ray Sossamon

      Trade for Giancrlo Stanton–The Marlins love Eithier–Make a deal there with some money–Stanton is only 25 yrs old

  21. Bob_Hendley

    I guess for the pen, we have plenty of young (and recovering -Tolleson, Dominguez, Elbert, Garcia) arms to fill in as needed after Ned picks up or retains a couple of vets and Paco himself recovers.

    • Howard Fox

      agreed, if healthy, our young arms are every bit as good as the Cards’

    • WBBsAs

      Elbert’s due for free agency, I think, and unlikely to be re-signed because of his injury problems.

  22. Adam Luther

    Shane Victorino. Figures.

    • rumped6

      Know what you’re sayin’, and agree.

      But, ironically, present day Shane didn’t figure at all, especially lately.
      That he did it right-handed, against a righty, was amazing, unlike the

      heroics a few years ago with the Phils, which he did all year long.

    • WBBsAs

      In theory, Victorino was one of Ned’s better acquisitions. He just had below-average production in the time he was a Dodger.

      • Adam Luther

        $39m for three years in Boston.

        • WBBsAs

          Well, the Sawx have gotten some value from him, but I like the Dodgers’ current outfield better, at least when it’s healthy.

          • Adam Luther

            Liked the power displayed by Crawford in the post-season.

  23. Bumsrap

    Price will want a contract that matches what Kershaw gets plus $1

  24. Bumsrap

    How many will admit to wanting the Dodgers to sign Fielder when he was a free agent?

    • John_from_Aus

      I did, but I’m happy with Adrian

    • WBBsAs

      I thought he was a good option at the time, but I don’t regret the acquisition of AGon.

    • Bob_Hendley

      Raises hand. I’ll also admit wanting Big Donkey and Fat Elvis at various times, as well as wanting Weird Game James to hit like it was 2007.

    • I did. Am I supposed to be embarrassed about it?

      • Bumsrap

        Not the question I would like answered. Personally, I want a good defensive team and players that don’t have anger issues. When Fielder tried to knock down the Dodger locker room door after a game, Fielder was 0 for 2. Putting offense above defense was the choice of some when the sign Fielder debate was current. Just curious if anybody has changed their mind.

    • foul tip

      IIRC they did their best to, played it very close to the vest all the way. But just got outbid.

    • Ray Sossamon

      not me–no defense

  25. btimmer reporting that the Dodgers signed Alexander Guerrero to a 4 year/ $28 million contract. So, it was nice knowing you Mark Ellis.

    Of course, we’ve been wrong before.

  26. WBBsAs

    Guerrero may solve one of the infield problems, but we’re not sure which one. If he can play third, I have more confidence that Ellis can repeat his OK year (batting eighth, with great D) than that Uribe can keep it up.

  27. Ray Sossamon

    Yes on David Price–Also Giancarlo Stanton too

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