Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Thoughts on the Off-Season Moves that Must Be Made

With the season over and the World Series four games in, the pain of post-season elimination is slowly wearing off and thoughts of a 2016 season are already on the forefront.  Don Mattingly is a Marlin and the rumor mill is grinding about his replacement.

It is this writer's opinion the Gabe Kapler will be that man.  First, because he is an Andrew Friedman hire and he immediately impacted the organization.  Second, because the Dodgers are set to announce that Rick Honeycutt is returning as pitching coach, and what manager in his right mind would not want to take a new job without a say in who his pitching coach was, unless he was already a part of an organization and he agreed to it beforehand?
Gabe Kapler, In contention for the Dodger Manager position (photo by Jon Soo Hoo/LA Dodgers, from 2011 Spring Training)

So there are a number of questions that will be posed once the World Series ends. I'll address them as they come to mind:

1) Zack Greinke.  We all know he will opt out and declare for free agency.  Do the Dodgers resign him?  Are they willing to pay him up to age 38 to the tune of $25 million+ per year?  That's what it is going to take to keep the man.  It's a lot of money...but losing Greike would be a disaster, especially if he ends up a Giant.  Pay him and pray the elbow holds up.  I can't believe I'm saying that , but a season without Greinke could be a disaster.  Signing a Free Agent such as David Price to replace him makes no sense, as the Dodger rotation would consist of only lefties.

2) Brett Anderson.  A qualifying offer is rather lofty.  About $15.8 million.  Frankly I don't think he's worth it, and I think with his injury history, he'll probably accept it.  With Hyun Jin Ryu returning and Zack Lee in the wings, I simply do think that sort of money should be offered to Anderson.  Crazy, I know.  I recommend spending $150 million on Greike and then pass on Anderson becasue of the cost of the contract, but it's more about there being better options out there for less money that fill the #4 slot in the rotation.

3) Howie Kendrick.  He was solid and extremely valuable, but he's 32 and it makes no sense to sign this guy for years when the club has cheaper and younger options that also play second base in Peraza and Kike Hernandez.  If it could be done for one year it would be great, but Kendrick has this one last chance to sign a big contract for several years.  He's probably wearing another uniform for the next three years.

4) Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley.  Both gone.  They'll have problems finding a taker or two unless they're willing to accept bench roles and substantial pay cuts.

5) Andre Ethier.  The current dean of the Dodgers, coming off a solid year.  There's some trade value here, but the club will have to eat much of his contract.  It'll be interesting to see if there is an attempt to move him.  I say it's time.

6) Carl Crawford.  What a waste of money he is.  His regression and injury prone capacity are a true burden.  If he's moved, the Dodgers must take on all the contract.  He's a defensive liability and was so overmatched against the power pitchers in the NLDS, I'm wondering if he's done as a player.

7) Joc Pederson.  This young man and his free swinging ways at the plate were a disaster for the last 2/3 of the season.  He's in serious need of a hitting coach that reaches him, otherwise I see him possibly with an Oklahoma City future next season.  That's harsh, especially with his stellar defense and propensity to walk, but Pederson was a mess at the plate by season's end.  He needs shorten up his swing and stop going for the fences.  He must adjust his approach according to pitch counts.  The kid swings out of his shoes at all times and it's just stupid.  With Mattingly and McGwire there, I just can't believe they couldn't talk sense into the kid.

8) Adrian Gonzalez.  His poor second half concerns me.  Is this the beginning of a significant decline for AGon?    I sure hope not, because there's a lot of money left to be paid on that contract.  Gonzalez was killed by the extreme shifts this year and his failure to adjust cost him heavily.  While there's still value here, it may be time to move him.  Certainly it'll be an unpopular move but wouldn't it be best to get some value in return while you still can?

9) Yasiel Puig.  A misunderstood and mismanaged talent.  Maturity issues?  Sure.  But there is too much talent in this player to give up on him.  Roberto Clemente was a mess at age 24 too.  They have to give Yasiel the edict to report to Spring Training 20 lbs. lighter and in the best shape of his career.  Get him someone in the dugout that he can relate to and who will reach him.  Juan Uribe's departure hurt Puig's development because Papi could talk sense into this young man.  He's relatively cheap still.  He is capable of .290BA/25HR/.900 OPS production with gold glove defense.  You don't trade that away after an injury plagued season.  If Puig is traded, mark my words, we'll see him win an MVP in another uniform.  There's that much talent in this kid.

10) Manager. (Yes, I know, it was addressed already).  HIRE GABE KAPLER, with Roenicke as his bench coach.  Let Kapler work his magic.  He's the type of person that could dominate as a field general for 20 years.  He has reached minor leaguers such as Schebler and Seager.  This guy is the future of baseball.  He understands the game as it should be, honing in on modern metrics.  He's an intellectual, a nutritionist, slight eccentric and a SoCal guy.  He'll thrive in this position.  I'm excited at the thought that this man could be managing the club.  He has so much potential.  This move could be a true franchise changer, I truly believe it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Game Five Tidbits...It's a One Game Season!

Justin Turner's knee, Yasmani Grandal's left shoulder, Howie Kendrick and Yasiel Puig's tender hamstrings, Adrian Gonzalez's neck.  It's that time of year where they're all ailing, and also when they need to suck things up and play through the pain.  Champions play through pain.  Watch as one or two from that group turn out to be significant contributors in game five of the NLDS.
(photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
The Dodgers are nine victories away from that ultimate goal, but one loss ends the season.

So as we prepare to watch the series deciding game five on Thursday night.  Aside from the injuries, there are a few things to consider:

  • Jacob deGrom is going to be tough, but the Dodgers know his repertoire and should have a game plan in place that works the counts deep and gets him tired in the early innings.  
  • Any faltering by DeGrom will probably result in a relief appearance by fire throwing Noah Syndergaard. 
  • The Chase Utley suspension headlines sure went away quickly.  Did the appeal process take place in NYC, or did they simply decide to table the matter until next season?  Perhaps MLB thought better of it and decided on the latter.
  • How many times have we seen a Dodger club falter after a terrible call, such as the David Wright foul tip strike three that was called a ball? (8th inning of game 4).  The fact that the Dodgers were able to record the third out and overcome that obstacle was huge and something that championship teams are able to overcome.
  • Speaking of that Wright at-bat.  Where was Don Mattingly?  I'm sure he was barking from the dugout, but didn't that warrant an "in-your-face dirt kicking tirade?"
  • One of the best reasons that the Dodgers need to get to the NLCS is that the next series won't be broadcast by TBS.  I can live with Ripkin, but Darling's homerism is getting to be unbearable.
  • It's fair to say that Clayton Kershaw has exorcised the post season demons that have affected him over his career.  A 2.63 ERA over 14 innings of work with 19 K's is dominance that we are accustomed to seeing from the best pitcher in the game.  Watch for that dominance to continue if the Dodgers are fortunate enough to make it to the NLCS against the Cubs.
  • Many consider Justin Turner to be the series offensive MVP, and that may be accurate, but Kiki Hernandez is definitely the most inspirational.
  • Hopefully Zack Greinke is able to live with AJ Ellis behind the plate in game 5.   We all know how fond he is of Grandal's pitch framing abilities.  Watch as Ellis extends his post season hitting streak.
  • Mets hitters that you don't allow to beat you: Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson.  There really isn't anyone else in the New York lineup that the Dodgers really need to fear.  I'm not saying there aren't other quality hitters in that lineup, only that those two are the guys that seem to be doing the most damage.
Prediction:  Dodgers take game five with a 4-1 victory.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Slide Heard Round the World

(photo by USAToday Sports/Jayne Kamin-Oncea)

With once full swoosh and clunk Chase Utley has forever marked himself in baseball lore as a hero and villian all in one.  It all depends on which coast you live.  That decisive take out slide may be talked about for decades.  The question that remains is:  Was it enough to turn the Dodgers fortunes around?

Ruben Tejada is out for the remainder of the year with a broken fibula.  The Dodgers have life again as they travel to NYC with a series split, and they have a renewed energy and life that had not been seen in the first 15 innings of the NLDS.

As Chase Utley was crucified on the TBS post game show for his "dirty" play, I seemed to think back to 2013 as the major Dodger offensive threat had been neutralized by a 95+ mph fastball to the ribs. What goes around seems to eventually come around.  Baseball is a game where things eventually even themselves out and as New Yorkers complain about being treated "unfairly" it reminds me of 1973 when a Dodger team finished second in the NL West with 95 wins and was forced to watch an 83 win Met team play in the post season.

Things aren't always fair folks, and Utley's slide, (which was late by all means), was done within the current rules of the game.  Tejada turned his back in the play, assuming that he could perform a pirouette throw to first to turn a game saving twin killing.  As a middle infielder, you never turn your back on a player barreling down on you to break up a double play.  I'm not saying the man deserved to be injured, but his actions placed him in a vulnerable spot.

Chase Utley did his job, and for that he will be remembered forever in Dodger history.  How much so only time will tell, but if the Dodgers win it all, the "slide heard round he world"will be talked about for decades.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Tidbits Before the Final Freeway Series of the Year

A 7 1/2 game lead with 28 games to play makes thing look mighty positive, but I've seen enough pennant races in my 54 years to recognize that some crazy things could happen.  So, I'll refrain from doing any celebration dances because I hate putting the hex on the season.  Also, will anything short of a World Series appearance be satisfying enough to remove the awful taste of how last season ended?

The additions of Chase Utley, Corey Seager and Justin Ruggiano seem to have sparked the club with new blood that has been sorely needed.  Time will only tell if the Utley rental won't bite us in the rear end for years to come, but that is one of those moves that I am all for...simply because it's guys like Utley that bring that playoff presence that just might be what's needed in post season play.
Justin Ruggiano homered on Friday night at San Diego.  (AP Photo/by Gregory Bull)

Ruggiano looks to be rejuvinated and a valuable bat against lefties.  Seager, well he's the real deal and appears to have ice-water in his veins.  I don't recall a Dodger rookie having that much poise, ever. And the have been a lot of successful ones.

I read on other blogs some strong words asking for Stan Conte's outster because of the slew of hamstring injuries this team has had.  I really have a difficult time believing that it is the fault of the conditioning staff that has caused the Dodgers problems in this area.  Do we really believe that the training staff doesn't have the guys stretching adequately in their pre-game preparation?  It's bad luck, simple as that.  Maybe there could be some blame on Puig's part for playing too many video games and not taking his conditioning seriously...but I could be completely off there too.

Injuries are fickle things.  Remember, it was just a few years ago when the oblique pulls and strains seemed to be the injury that was the most prevalent.  (The same injury that Giant Hunter Pence us recovering from at the moment).  I believe that with the Dodger training staff and state of the art facilities, that the team has done just about all they can to prevent the pulls, strains, tears and breaks that occur over 162 games.  Ask the Giants, who have had their share of bad luck this year too.  Injuries happen, and sometimes more often than normal.

The teams with the greatest depth prevail over injuries, and the Dodgers have definitely built a ball club with a lot of that.  This 2015 team has trotted out 54 different players on the field, the most of any Dodger team in history, (the 1998 team used 53 players), and who knows if a few more minor league call-ups occur after the PCL playoffs are over.   That's what $300 million in payroll can do to you.  That's also a lot of World Series rings if the club wins it all.  (Note: of those 54 different players, 31 were pitchers).


The countdown has begun.  The number is at Jim Gilliam at the start of today.  Hopefully it'll get down to A.J. Ellis by around 10:30 PM tonight.

I just took count and realized that this Dodger season I have watched our boys in blue on MLB network from three continents and ten different countries, and I'll add a few more locations before the month ends.  By my count they are USA, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ghana, Mexico, Colombia and coming up in the next three weeks: Brazil and Thailand.  I definitely got my money's worth out of the MLB internet package this year.  What a blessing that is.  It's watching games in crazy time zones that makes things difficult. There are a few misses for me as well:

  • For the first time in 34 years, I will not attend a home game this season, (but I did make it to Philadelphia and New York to see them play).  
  • This also was the first season since 1995 that I did not see the Dodgers play in person in San Francisco. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Up-coming Idle days in Schedule Should Allow Dodgers to Optimize Starting Rotation Order

The Dodgers have a rarity of two off-days this coming week, and three days off in the coming nine days.  This creates a unique opportunity to break-up the back-to-back Greinke/Kershaw starts without having either one of them losing a start.  Additionally a juggling of the rotation order can set up the home series against the Giants in two weeks, with both Greinke and Keshaw facing them.  Without a shuffle in the rotation, the Dodgers would play their three against San Fancisco with Latos, Wood and Anderson on the hill.

The approaching schedule is as follows:
Today, August 16: Reds (Greinke)
August 17: Offday
August 18: @ Oakland (Kershaw)
August 19: @ Oakland (Latos)
August 20: Off day
August 21: @ Houston (replace Wood with GREINKE)
August 22: @ Houston (Anderson with 7 days of rest)
August 23: @ Houston (replace Wood with KERSHAW)
August 24: Off day
August 25: @ Cincinnati (Wood with 10 days of rest)
August 26: @ Cincinnati (GREINKE)
August 27: @ Cincinnati (Latos with 8 days of rest)
August 28: Cubs (KERSHAW)
August 29: Cubs (Anderson with 7 days of rest)
August 30: Cubs (Wood)
August 31: Giants (GREINKE)
September 1: Giants (Latos)
September 2: Giants (KERSHAW)

Aside from setting up the starting staff to the most advantageous match-ups for the team, this also grants much needed extra days of rest for Wood, Anderson and Latos.   It makes perfect sense and I would hope that the decision makers would give these changes serious consideration.


Kike Hernandez is that rare gem that unexpectedly may be the key acquisition in the off-season trade with Miami.  He brings enthusiasm combined with versatility and a glove that can competently play 5 defensive positions.  I call him the modern day Derrell Thomas, but with a better bat.

Hernandez's three-run clout in last night's game was nearly hit out of the LF Pavilion.  The blast was shocking, not because he homered, but because of the distance the ball travelled.  ESPN tracked it's distance as as 433 feet.   I'm not sure how accurate that measurement was, but there's no doubt it was tattooed.

The Dodger's 8-3 win last night showed a return of the home run, as 5 were hit by both teams on a hot August L.A. night.  Something I would expect to continue in today's afternoon contest in the sweltering heat.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The New Guys Contribute for the "W"

Dodger fans can be an impatient lot, and the early results of Jim Johnson, Alex Wood, Mat Latos and Luis Avilan have got a lot of them up in a tizzy.  For that reason last night's 5-3 Dodger win over Cincinnati may have temporarily calmed a few nerves.
Alex Wood went 6 1/3 innings in his first Dodger win. (AP photo)

It can't be ignored that Alex Wood pitched a good game last night.  He was on his game, his pitch count was low, he was getting ahead in counts.  It was a solid, not great, but solid outing and deserving of a win.

Jim Johnson retired the two hitters he was assigned, and luck was in his favor for the first time in which her wore a Dodger uniform.  I realize Johnson has been lit up in his previous outings, but I've seen enough nasty pitches from this guy in all but one of those appearances to still believe he can be a valuable piece to the bullpen.  To simply give up on him would be foolish.  As much as I'm quick to criticize Mattingly, I was glad he found a spot for Johnson to contribute last night.  I strongly believe that Johnson will be a significant contributor to the team between now and the end of the season.

Latos and Avilan remain to perform up to standard, but there's time.  Meanwhile, the Dodgers, in my opinion need about 27 more wins to wrap up the division title.  That'll put them at a 92 win season. Do they have it in them to finish up 27-18, (a .600 pace)?  I believe so, but there's still a lot of quality opponents that they'll have to beat.


Last season Dan Uggla found himself in a San Francisco Giant uniform for 4 games.  He participated in a three game series in SF against the Dodgers and went 0 for 9, while striking out 4 times.  He also made two errors at second base.  It was a putrid week for him as his batting average lowered to .152. As Dodger fans we were elated, after all the Dodgers swept the Giants and their new second baseman appeared to be done as a player.  The Giants brass didn't stick with him much longer, as he was released after his next game, an 0 for 3, two strikeout performance in a loss at home to Pittsburgh.

Uggla during his 4 days as a Giant. (photo by USA Today/SI)

The final numbers for Uggla as a Giant: 11 ABs, 0 Hits, 1 BB, 1 R, 6 SO, 2 errors.  He was a Giant from July 25-29th.

Q: What does he get for that?

A: A World Series ring.  

Uggla is in San Francisco with the Nationals this week and he was presented his ring, for that 4 game losing swing.  Sorry, but there's something wrong with that.

Oh, and another thing.  Uggla is still awful.  As a Nat he's hitting .191 with an OBP of .294.  At least in the past he had some pop to go with that low OBP, but even that is gone now.  Uggla has one homer this year so far.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Schedules / Road Trip Report

The Giants are finally hitting that rough patch of the schedule, and so far, things aren't looking good for the guys in the halloween colored duds.  Look at this brutal slate of games:

@Cubs (2 more, after having lost the first two), Astros (2) at home, Nationals (4) at home, @Cardinals (3), @Pirates (4), followed by a home stand with the Cubs (3) and then the Cardinals (3).

This stretch is against all playoffs contenders and in the dog days of August.  Following those 22 games they travel to Los Angeles and face the Dodgers for four.

Now if the Giants survive this stretch, September may be their month as they only face the NL West and A's, plus three home games with the hapless Reds.

So the Dodgers really need to take advantage of this month and stretch out the lead.  On the scheduling front, the Dodgers have their share of tough opponents too, (Nats, Astros, Pirates and Cubs), but the A's and Reds are mixed in there too.  If the Dodgers enter September with a 7 game lead, they should be in good shape.  They do have eight remaining contests with the Giants, who have pretty much owned them all season.

So I made it up to Philadelphia for yesterday's afternoon matinee.  Fact is, I traveled up to New York two weeks ago and caught the series opener there too, (which was Kershaw's masterpiece), but this piece is on Philadelphia's Citizen Bank Park, which was inundated by Dodger fans.

Who would have thought that Philadelphia would ever be accepting of a situation like that?  The city that may have one of the toughest fan bases in the all of sports.  Booers of Santa Claus, battery throwers at J.D. Drew and their own hometown star Richie Allen, fighters of opposing hockey players in the penalty box.  There's little doubt that Philadelphia fans have a reputation of being a tough group.  

I'd never think that visiting fans from a team over 3,000 miles away could openly cheer in such a place without receiving any hostility or any fights breaking out.  But such was the case yesterday. The Dodgers had quite a contingent of fans, with many dressed up in jersey, caps and more.  I saw friendly banter between them and Phillies fans, as things should be.

So I give my props to Phillies fans.  They were great hosts.  The fans I interacted with were actually very complimentary towards the Dodgers, and as I departed, one even wished us luck in the playoffs.  I'm sure if the Phils didn't have the worst record in the league that things would have been different, but that's neither here nor there.  What I witnessed was a knowledgeable fan base that was respectful.

Watching the blue crew lace out five hits while plating three runs in the first inning made me think that with Zack Greinke on the mound, the game was over.  How were we to know that Greinke would give up more runs in the first inning as he had in the previous two months?  It was one of those games.

With an 1 1/3 innings in the books, both teams had already combined for 11 runs and 13 hits.  There was no doubt that CB Park is a launching pad, as no lead appeared safe, even up to the final outs as the Phillies rallied from a four run deficit to having the potential winning run at the plate.

Props to CB Park's Bull's BBQ, where I had an amazing BBQ beef sandwich.

I met up with True Blue Will from New York.  A great friend and acquaintance from the Think Blue LA forum. I've met up with Will at CBR as well as Citi Field a few weeks ago. Will caught Amtrak from NYC and is about as loyal and knowledgable as  Dodger fan as there is, dating back to his days when he followed the Boys of Summer in Brooklyn.