Dodger Thoughts

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

No, not everyone got hurt: 2016 Spring Training stars

Los Angeles Dodgers vs San Diego Padres

By Jon Weisman

One week from Opening Day, it’s safe to say that injuries have dampened Spring Training for the Dodgers this year, like picking the wrong line at Philippe’s 30 minutes before game time. If there’s an upside, it’s that aside from the injuries, there’s been a feast for the baseball senses. Nearly everyone on the field is meeting or exceeding expectations. Here are some of the brightest (and, knock on wood) healthiest lights at Camelback Ranch this month:

  • Kenta Maeda: When Maeda signed his long-term, incentive-laden contract that seemed to hint at imminent health concerns and general skepticism about his ability to adapt to North American baseball, maybe you just hoped he’d make it through Spring Training without melting down like Toht’s face in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” The proof will be in the regular-season pudding, but you couldn’t have asked for more this month than a 1.05 WHIP and 18 strikeouts against five walks in 19 innings. And that’s with Maeda still learning not only opposing batters from scratch, but umpires as well.
  • Justin Turner: A month ago, we just hoped Turner would be on his two feet by the end of March. That he is 11 for 17 with six doubles, a homer, three walks and one lone strikeout is wonderful — that he is running the bases as free and easy as we’ve seen him in ages is a delight.
  • Louis Coleman: The right-handed reliever had been on the Dodgers’ radar back when he was with Kansas City, so it wouldn’t be accurate to say he came out of nowhere. But given that the Dodgers acquired him after pitchers and catchers reported — and that since then, he has struck out 11 batters without allowing any walks or runs — we can safely call him a happy surprise.
  • Scott Van Slyke: I’ll admit, this is mostly a straight Spring Training stats play. Van Slyke is hitting .415/.500/.732 with more walks than strikeouts, but I couldn’t tell you whether or not that’s just Cactus League noise. To his credit, though, Van Slyke has done nearly all his damage in the beginning of games when an opponents’ front-line pitchers are in, and he’s done it without regard to whether the pitcher is right-handed or left-handed.
  • Austin Barnes: There’s no one who doesn’t want Yasmani Grandal to begin the season healthy. There’s also no reason to fear Barnes partnering with A.J. Ellis for as long as Grandal is sidelined, not after a spring in which Barnes has looked so confident offensively and defensively.
  • Cody Bellinger: There’s any number of minor-leaguers that could be on this list, but there was something in particular about Bellinger that called to mind how composed Corey Seager seemed one year ago. Bellinger has a .571 on-base percentage and .731 slugging percentage with five strikeouts in 35 plate appearances, combined with capable defense at first base or the outfield. That’s a tasty amuse bouche from the 20-year-old.
  • Clayton Kershaw: Because he’s still Clayton Kershaw.

Special mention

  • Yasiel Puig: Did anyone notice anything about Puig between the helicopter rumors a month ago and his sore hamstring over the weekend? Here’s something you might have missed: In 37 plate appearances, Puig has a .914 OPS, but perhaps more importantly, he has struck out only five times.
  • Joc Pederson: It’s easy to project insecurities about Pederson’s second-half performance from 2015 when looking at him at the plate in March 2016. The strikeouts have remained, but the home runs and walks mostly evaporated, and his stance has been evolving. He’s a work in progress, but that being said, isn’t that what Spring Training is for? In the meantime, it’s been clear that Pederson is trying to use the whole field, and I see little reason not to be optimistic that he won’t find the equilibrium he needs. There’s just so much talent there, and after all, he only turns 24 next month. I’m not sure it’s smart to underestimate him.
  • The No. 5 starter: When Fangraphs ranked the Dodger starting rotation No. 2 in the Major Leagues today, you could hear the guffaws around the baseball world. In fact, you might have heard them even if Frankie Montas, Brett Anderson and Mike Bolsinger hadn’t joined Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy in the all-M*A*S*H starting rotation. But the truth remains that few if any teams are better equipped, over the course of the entire season, to generate a competitive pitcher for every single game. There might be some trial and error evolved, but when all is said and done, it’s going to make a difference to have Julio Urias, Jose De Leon and Ross Stripling, among others, poised to join those with big-league experience. And yes, that includes October, too.


In case you missed it: Ex-Dodger moves forward from tragedy


The Dodgers and ‘The Arm’


  1. I’ll still be presently surprised if this team wins more than 85 and makes playoffs. And I’ll be absolutely shocked if they win any game not pitched by Kershaw in the playoffs, here’s hoping I’m completely wrong.

    • jpavko

      Skeptics not welcome here. Go Blue!

    • Even if the team won every game pitched by Clayton, say 32, that means that somehow they would have managed to win 53 games started by another pitcher.

      • I’m talking about in the playoffs. I don’t see any of their pitchers winning a playoff game, against the likes of the Cubs and Mets.
        As far as regular season, sure they’ll pick up wins, as I wrote, I’ll be pleasantly surprised if the team wins 85. I’m thinking it’ll be closer to 75 however. That still means over 40 games they’ll win without Kershaw pitching.

      • Wow! 75 wins!? You are down on this club.

      • Yes I am, I think the FO had a horrible off season. I do like the future and Roberts hiring, but the starters after Kershaw don’t inspire at all, Maeda looks good however.

      • As far as the offense, the FO is counting on too many ifs to happen, IMO. If Puig, Grandal and Turner recover from injury/offseason surges. If Seager is as good as the hype, if AGon remains productive going into his mid 30’s. If Pederson and Crawford can produce anything at all. If most of this happens, sure they can be a force, but chances are, most of this won’t happen.

      • All teams as ify, but there are probabilities attached to each if. If you had played the if game with the 2015 club, one might have said, if the starters aren’t injured (yet we lost two right off the bat), if Grandal is as advertised (he was but got injured), if Rollins rebounds (he didn’t) if Howie, Puig and SVS sustain their performance (they didn’t), if Joc pans out (did, but only for half a season), if the pen is lights out (it wasn’t). And yet that team won 92 games.

      • Yes some of those ifs will pan out. Last year having two top pitchers was extremely helpful, down to one this year. AGon was a year younger (possibly his last in his prime), Howie was healthy until September (this year he’s DL bound right off the bat), Turner and Grandal weren’t coming off surgery last year either. I agree pen may be in better shape now than last year however.

  2. Hopefully we stay in striking distance with our 1 1/2 man rotation until the fire sales start mid-season. Then hopefully we get a real pitcher not a the-computer-said-he – was-worth-the-gamble injury prone but healthy right now guy.

  3. I am old, 77, & have been a Dodger fan since 1947. It has now been 28 years since winning it all, & I am running out of time. Building for the long haul will mean Clayton will be done. Let’s get the WS while he is still effective.

    • Chances are they won’t, although he’ll probably win one with another team when he leaves in 3 years.

  4. has Yasiel Puig lost weight?

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