Dodger Thoughts

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

Tag: Mookie Betts

Mookie malarkey

This writeup appeared alongside many others in my new newsletter, Slayed by Voices. I still want to share Dodger news here, but if you’ve enjoyed my writing in the past, this is the focus of my attention now. Please check it out, share and subscribe. 

In 2022, the Dodgers’ Marvelous Mookie Betts won the Gold Glove Award for National League right fielders, the sixth time in the past seven seasons he has won that honor as an outfielder.

Betts is also the only current Dodger outfielder guaranteed a starting spot in 2023. With Cody Bellinger gone and Chris Taylor coming off a terrible season, left and center field are currently wide open for contention among Taylor, Trayce Thompson and prospect James Outman. All three have potential for 2023, but none represents a comfortable choice for either job.

Nevertheless, with the Dodgers emerging as a not-quite-longshot to sign Aaron Judge, the 2022 American League Most Valuable Player who blasted 62 home runs, a weird line of thinking has arisen among some fans and media that in order to make room for Judge in the outfield, the Dodgers might move Betts to second base.

If you follow the Dodgers during the baseball season but lose track of them during the offseason, this conversation probably comes out of left fi— well, out of nowhere.

It’s true that like Betts, Judge is best suited for right field. It’s also true that Betts started five games at second base last year and has 25 starts there in his major-league career (out of 1,069 regular season games).

Some also argue that as Betts gets older (he turned 30 in October), a move away from the outfield would be easier on his legs, though I don’t see how all the start-stop, back-and-forth movement of the infield and the peril of turning the double play in the face of an oncoming runner isn’t as rough as gliding along in the outfield.

Regardless, none of this justifies moving perhaps the best defensive right fielder in the world from his position, especially when his laser throwing arm would be wasted at second base. And that’s especially true when you consider that:

  • The Dodgers have more depth in the infield with Freddie Freeman, Gavin Lux and Max Muncy, plus rookie Miguel Vargas and probably Justin Turner assuming he comes back at a slighter salary) than they have in the outfield.
  • Moving Betts to second base doesn’t solve their vacancy at shortstop, which Lux doesn’t seem equipped to play full time.
  • If you’re going to move an outfielder to the infield, Taylor makes way more sense.

Nevertheless, someone got this Betts-to-infield premise and ran with it, logic be damned. If you hear more about it, just know that it’s as crazy as it sounds.

 

Comparing major injuries
for the Giants and Dodgers

San Francisco first baseman Brandon Belt, who has suffered a fractured left thumb while attempting to bunt (against the shift, apparently) on Sunday for the Giants. Belt will miss at least the remainder of the regular season, and his return date during the playoffs is so far undetermined. 

This is obviously a major injury for San Francisco — for their resurgent lineup in 2021, Belt leads the team with a 159 OPS+ and has 29 homers in only 97 games. (He missed almost two months because of a right knee injury earlier this year.) The Giants are already without one-time Dodger acqusition Darin Ruf, who has a 141 OPS+ in 114 games. 

The news made me curious to compare major injuries between the Giants and the Dodgers this season. As a resource, I used these pages for San Francisco and Los Angeles available at Fangraphs. 

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Previewing the 2021 Dodgers: Position players

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Hey there! Since I haven’t actually written much on the defending World Series champions this year, I thought I’d throw down some of the stuff that’s been percolating inside my head about the 2021 Dodgers ahead of Thursday’s Opening Day. Let’s start with the position players. (Note: Some of these thoughts materialized during the chats we’ve had on Clubhouse.) 

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Dodger issues against LHP should solve themselves

See full chart at Baseball-Reference.com.

If you’re worried that the Dodgers haven’t been hitting left-handed pitching this season, my advice is … don’t worry.

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Thoughts I shouldn’t be having on a coronavirus Monday

Remnants of a tree, Calabasas, February 1. One person I showed this photo to asked, “Who is that?”

In some ways, there’s nothing better than being awake in the middle of the night. It’s only a shame you have to pay the price later in the day. 

I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep. It wasn’t because of these thoughts, but as the next hour passed, it seemed like as good a time as any to get them out of my system. 

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Dodgers’ winter of discontent gives way to auspicious spring

It feels like 10 years since I last saw a Dodger game. 

It feels like we’ve lived through an entire era of baseball in the four months and three days the Dodgers last walked off the field, heads bowed. It feels like we’ve aged a generation. 

As I hibernated with other activities, I watched Dodger fans descend in to a deep well of anger and despair. The winter of our discontent barely seems adequate to describe it. Behind center field, offseason construction tore a hole in Dodger Stadium, delivered directly from Metaphors ‘R’ Us.  

The bitterness of the Dodgers’ shocking Game 5 loss in the National League Division Series lingered like a slow-acting toxin, blackening the rose petals of fandom.

The unrequited pursuit of big-name talent, Gerrit Cole in particular, generated a sense of Kafkaesque imprisonment, blinding the reality that none of the Dodgers’ top rivals except the Yankees had improved their rosters. Then again, if the Yankees become the team to beat, isn’t that anguish enough?

Then the earth trembled, the ground beneath our feet cracked open and the void opened. 

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