Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig
Taking away the league’s leader in stolen bases, the best hitting shortstop and the hottest hitter in the second half of 2014 isn’t quite the recipe for an improved lineup.

But that’s what the Los Angeles Dodgers did this winter when they let Hanley Ramirez walk and traded Dee Gordon and Matt Kemp. Of course, they did get some help in return in Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick, as well as catcher Yasmani Grandal. While the lineup will lack the speed and pop from the three, it is stronger up and down than last season.

In a press conference following the introduction of Howie Kendrick, Dodgers president of baseball operations, Andrew Friedman, talked about the offensive status of the team he built this offseason:

I think we have a deep lineup with real life to it. Guys coming off the bench that fit in well with some of our starters. I think we’re going to have a good offensive team.”

However, Friedman did note that losing Gordon at second base was a tough move to make:

He’s a dynamic player and when you get talent back, you obviously have to give up something. It wasn’t easy for us to trade Dee. He brought a dynamic to our lineup that we’re certainly going to miss.”

It’s safe to say the Dodger offense will look a bit different from last year, opting for doubles rather than the longball. Rollins and Kendrick bring some speed, while Grandal brings much more pop than A.J. Ellis. The biggest question will be centerfield, which could be given to prospect Joc Pederson or become a platoon job with Chris Heisey. Pederson has been able to succeed at every level in the minor leagues, but went through a brief rough patch in his September promotion last year. Consistent at-bats and familiarity with the league should accelerate his development if he does win the job.

It will interesting to see what this new offense can do, but with an overall improvement, it should continue to get the job done.

About The Author

Vince is currently the Associate Editor and Social Media Manager for Dodgers Nation. Hailing from San Pedro, CA and a student at Cal State Long Beach, Vince has previously written for the Daily 49er and LASF Magazine.

59 Responses

  1. Dodgerfan4ever

    I want to believe that this offense will be good enough, but i just have a hard time thinking the run production will be better or “good enough”. I don’t think that the pitching staff has been improved enough to offset the loss in offensive production given the trades.

    Reply
    • Alex

      I still think the offense will be fine. If Pederson can hit half as many homers as Kemp, the rest will be more than made up with Grandal and Kendrick hitting more than Ellis and Gordon. The pitching has actually improved by getting rid of Wilson, Perez, Wright, Haren, and Maholm, and replacing them with young arms like Hatcher, Liberatore, and Peralta who get lots of strikeouts and have good FIP numbers. Nicasio is decent as a reliever, too.

      Reply
      • Michael N. Norris

        That’s a big IF Alex..Pederson has to prove he can hit major league pitching period…..and he has not shown that yet, not in spring last year or in his short stint with the team…..my bet ius he will be back in AAA with Heisey and Ethier splitting time in CF until Joc is ready..

      • Randy Shoemaker

        Its not fair to say that Pederson has not shown he could hit major league pitching. He must be able to play everyday to prove that he can or can’t hit major league pitching. That didn’t happen in 2014. He will be the starting CF, and will get his shot.

      • Michael N. Norris

        It is totally fair….How many great AAA hitters fall on their ass in the majors? Plenty…..if he gets the job done great..but don’t anoint the guy yet……

      • Randy Shoemaker

        I checked my post and I don’t seem to locate any point at which I have anointed Joc Pederson as anything but next year’s starter, and again… it is completely unfair to say that he can’t hit major league pitching. While there are plenty of examples of hitters that were great and fizzled in the majors, there are plenty example of hitters who did well in the majors. A perfect example is a guy who plays down the 5 fwy in Anaheim. Trout’s first call up would have seemed like a disaster, but when he was given a chance to play every day… things changed. Before you say I am calling Pederson the next Trout… I’m not, I’m just saying that it is unfair to judge a guy when he hasn’t gotten a fair shake yet.

      • Michael N. Norris

        You make a good point and I agree…but they are putting a lot of pressure on the kid to win the job…and in all the years I have been following this team and baseball…..far more fail than succeed…it is the nature of the game..as a Dodger fan, I hope Joc does well…..but they have options if he flames out in spring…a platoon with Ethier and Heisey, although not my idea of a good thing…since Ethier stated last month that he will not accept a relief role again…..

      • Michael N. Norris

        But it is not unfair to say he cannot hit MLB pitching…..he has not shown that he can……yet…..we will see……but his K ratio is a he concern

      • Alex

        In that case, everything is a big IF. What if Matt Kemp is injured again now that he has arthritic hips and has pulled his hamstring many times last year on top of having several major surgeries the years prior?

      • Michael N. Norris

        That is exactly what baseball is and always has been…a big If….Last year Alex, Matt did not have hammy problems…you are thinking of 2013…..He played more than 140 games this season. He showed he was healthy…..Pederson to this point has proved one thing……he is a great AAA hitter…..we are yet to see how that translates to the bigs…and he will have to win the job in the spring…He hits 200 in spring and he is on his way to Okie City…Bank on it…

  2. Keith Brown

    their slower and they dont hit as well but their better??? WTH?

    Reply
    • Randy Shoemaker

      They are more consistent and will hit better with runners on base. Kendrick’s batting average is off the charts with the bases loaded, our biggest weakness last year.

      Reply
      • Keith Brown

        don’t missunderstand, i like Kendrick, but the price tag was way too high. we dont have a leadoff hitter or a number 4, thats a big problem. Rollins is a .240 hitter, Grandal is barely over the Mendoza line and has one of if not the worst throwing arm for catchers . Dee was one of our best hitters(with over 100 AB’s) with RISP(.306). Ramierez was #3 (.321). Kendrick hit .326 with RISP. with no power and is a lot slower on the bases which is how runners get in scoring position. This management team is smart but not smart enough to win a World Series. The reason is the line ups they put together can’t compete with the best teams which is what matters, not how we play vs the Rockies. Rollins(.218 with RISP), Grandal(.181 with RISP), Kendrick is not better than Dee, Kemp(.294 with RISP), Ramirez, Ellis. If Joc pans out we will get some power back but if they use Heisey(.136 with RISP) we will be in real trouble. What is our best line-up with our current players?

      • Randy Shoemaker

        I got the line-up looking like.
        1. Rollins
        2. Kendrick
        3. Puig
        4. Gonzalez
        5. Pederson
        6. Uribe
        7. Crawford
        8. Grandal
        Though you lost speed with Gordon, you get some of it back with Pederson. You still have guys with good speed in Rollins, Puig, Pederson, and Crawford. I like this line-up, and with our pitching and a decent bull-pen that gets us to the dance, and that’s all you need.

      • Keith Brown

        why not the better hitter with better OBP/RISP(Crawford)?then Kendrick, Puig, Gonzo, rollins(17hr), Uribe, Either, Grandal. I like this line-up for inter league play. 1. Crawford 2. Rollins 3. Puig 4. Gonzo 5. Vanslyke 6 Uribe 7 Turner 8 kendrick 9 Grandal. Not sure of who plays where in outfeild but i think Vanslyke should try right, he’s not a great feilder but he hit 11 hr in 200 AB’s and has the best slugging % of all dodgers(.524) with a .297 BA. Turner with only 7 hr had a .493 slugging % and hit .419 with RISP.

      • Randy Shoemaker

        For interleague I would definitely slide in Turner or Van Slyke. Pederson has to play, there is no other way about it. If he doesn’t play, then why not trade him? You would have missed out on the possibility of getting an impact player that can play right away. I do not see Pederson in the minors next year.

      • Michael N. Norris

        has to win the job first……..

      • Keith Brown

        Pederson doesnt look ready but im hopeful. im only thinking about who is on the team not who might be

      • Michael N. Norris

        Uh..you forgot there is no DH in the NL..so the pitcher hits 9th….

      • Keith Brown

        i wrote that line up is for inter league play 🙂

      • Tmax

        With the numbers guys taking over baseball and the idea of selling at top of the market i am surprised that these guys have not traded Van Slyke. He has off the chart numbers against left handed pitching and is cost controlled for a couple of more years.

      • Michael N. Norris

        and you ain’t putting SVS in right with Puig on the team…

      • Keith Brown

        i think puig should play center, he has the best arm, glove and wheels.

      • Tmax

        I agree but would probably lead off with Crawford he has the better on base numbers. Also I would bat Pederson around 7 or 8. He will not need the pressure, or bat him second and stress that he has to make contact that might help him. I agree with Michael Norris in that I have seen too many “can’t miss” minor league phenoms frankly miss. Once you make the Big Show and face the real starting pitchers and clubs that chart the holes in your swing it can get very ugly. I am not convinced that Pederson can make it. Someone mentioned Trout he has a nice compact swing with little movement. Pederson looks to me like he has a longer swing with some possible holes and has already shown a tendency to strikeout. IF he cannot adapt they will eat him alive. You have to be able to make contact and put the ball in play. I wish him the best we need for him to succeed but I am not convinced.

  3. Tmax

    I agree they are slower but I believe the pitching staff 1-5 and the relief will be better. Do not discount the improvement of the defense up the middle Handley could hit but was a disaster at short and Dee was good but Kendrick is better. I think the jury is out on Grandal I like AJ at catcher. But Kemp was no longer a good defender and Pederson can flat out run and if it is Puig, Pederson and Crawford we have a very good defensive team for the first time in ages. Rollins can hit and field and he is reported to be a great teammate as is Kendrick. If you look at the team defensively they are very good. Lets hope Uribe stays Healthy and Pederson comes around. Should be a good team. I think the Giants are not as good unless they get Hamels or one of the other aces left. Losing Panda and an ace pitcher has to hurt. Padres are improved but lack an ace. AZ will be not good and Colorado seems to be confused about what to do. We should make it to the playoffs and then who knows?

    Reply
    • Michael N. Norris

      Who is your 5th starter???????/Anderson? the guy is one pitch from the DL…Nicasio? He couldn’t get my grandmother out and she is dead…..the BP still sucks,,,,,,no huge improvement there and it was the biggest hole on the team…

      Reply
      • Tmax

        Fifth Starter is Anderson or if that does not turn out one of the kids from the Minors. Look the Dodger Owners are not stupid people. look at the record of Guggenheim and Kasten they are not dummies. With all the Naysayers these guys are going to make a ton of money as soon as they fix the Minor League system and have cheap players coming up mixed with that TV contract and a sold out stadium. The new guys have a track record of being very smart and they say Anderson and McCarthy are good bets. Have some faith. Anderson is a great bet in my opinion IF he is healthy he is a steal and if not they lose for one year and they are swimming in money no big deal. I think maybe one more move and we are OK going into Spring. I plan to see several games in AZ this year hope to see you there.

      • Michael N. Norris

        McCarthy…maybe…at least he stays healthy…Anderson has been on and off the Dl most of the last 3 years, that in my book makes him a risk….Which one of the kids? None of those guys were very effective at AAA last year…Faith? I agree with fixing the minors, but that comes through smart drafting and unsigned free agents out of college. Nicasio was a bust in Colorado….maybe the lower altitude in LA will help……But as it stands right this moment…the staff is ok through the first 4 starters and 3 BP guys…the rest are question marks…..Kersh, Greinke, Ryu and McCarthy are locks. Jansen, Howell, and maybe Baez are BP locks….the rest are just fodder until they prove different. But Dodger fans want results this year…they are obviously not happy that the team won back to back NL west titles….they want the team in the series…..I am more of a realist…a lot has to happen in this day and age to get there….and 1 little foul up can rob you of your shot……this years Kershaw meltdown and last year it was Hanley getting hurt in the first game of the NLCS…….so we will see..spring will tell a lot..but I think SD is a real threat now……

      • Frank

        You just labeled the Dodgers 1-4 starters as “ok” but consider the Padres a threat? Who are their pitchers again?

      • Michael N. Norris

        Trust me…Lee or Reed would have to be lights out in spring to even break camp with the team. Carlos Frias who was with them in the playoffs….that guy has no shot at a roster spot….

      • Alex

        Nicasio is actually pretty good as a reliever; look up his stats. Him and Wieland are great bullpen additions. Plus Chris Hatcher was great, too. Liebertore as well. That makes 4 new young and promising bullpen arms to replace the crap we had with Wilson, Perez, Wright, Maholm, Correia, etc. League will be traded, too. Obviously we’re not done with starting pitching. I think the Dodgers will get at least one more quality starter before the season begins.

      • Michael N. Norris

        Okay….lets take these one by one…Nicasio: In his MLB career, he has relieved 19 times. He has appeared as a starter 66 times. career 21-22 with a 5.03 ERA. He was fair out of the BP for Colorado, not good. Wieland: In 9 big league games he has started 7. 1-4 with a 5.31 ERA. So I do not see where he is such a great addition to the bullpen. Liberatore: 27 years old and has never pitched in the bigs. He is a lefty, but there is no way they carry 3 lefty’s in the pen. Howell and Rodriguez most likely over this guy. Hatcher: had a decent ERA of 3.38. but this guy is 29. So that is not as young as you thought. Peralta is 39..and in order to trade League, they will probably have to eat his contract..as for young and promising…the only young guy here is Wieland and he is a starter…so your argument is bogus. The young guys in the BP are all Dodger farmhands. Rodriguez, Baez, Garcia, Withrow, when he get healthy, Oh yeah, you forgot Bolsinger….Young yes….good….NO……sorry…..I do not buy it…..

      • Alex

        Wieland and Liberatore had excellent numbers in the minors and are ready for the big stage. Nicasio being “fair” (he was actually above average), but if you still say fair, that is far better than or disaster last year. Hatcher is 29 so what? He was excellent in Miami. Better than what we had last year. Wieland will probably find time in the pen, pending McCarthy and Anderson’s health.

        Let’s look at last year’s bullpen, shall we? You’d rather stick with that disaster? Or get two proven new guys and two others with great potential? If you are discounting Liberatore because he has no big league experience, then what is the point of having a farm system in the minors? Should we trade all our good minor leaguers for mediocre major league players? Forget about guys with high potential?

      • Michael N. Norris

        No….I thought last years pen was terrible….But there were and are better options than the guys we got. My argument about Hatcher was because the statement was they got good young pitchers……they traded away the 2 best young arms they got for Rollins and Kendrick. And as before, excellent numbers in AA or AAA do not always translate to the bigs……you guys are hoping these pickups pan out…..You are hoping that the trades work….fine, I hope they are better too…….but I still say they are not as good as last years 94 win team……maybe I will eat my words and maybe I won’t,,,,but you cannot change my mind,,,

      • Michael N. Norris

        Potential is a word in the dictionary…..Been watching this game for over 60 years….never saw potential make it to the bigs…..Billy Ashley had huge potential so did a bunch of other guys..ever hear of Bill Bene???? No, I did not think so..#1 draft choice……..never got above AA..

      • Keith Brown

        I couldn’t agree more, i do like Hatcher though, he should be a good solid addition. Peralta should be ok and of course is only a short term fix, but most relievers are.

      • Steve Carnine

        You guys sound like the veteran scouts around the table in “Money Ball”. F&F are the best and the brightest and five bucks says their baseball IQ is a LOT higher than anyones here. Calm down, grab the kool-aid and a dixie cup, and enjoy the ride.

      • Tmax

        Michael, I disagree the reason you have a farm system is to bring up and prepare young arms that is what the 4th 5th and bullpen are for. We have as good a starting 1-4 in baseball if Anderson pans out even better if not you try for a youngster. look how Shoemaker panned out for the Angels. Sometimes it finally just clicks with a minor league youngster and you have something. Hatcher, Liberatore, Wieland, Peralta, are solid back of the bullpen guys to eat up innings and in some cases progress. You have Jansen, Howell, Rodriguez for the late innings with the possibility that one of the other guys mentioned grows into the roll. I think we are way better than last year. And I still like the change up the middle, Rollins and Kendick with a solid defensive CF should really help. And if Grandal can frame and defend better that helps too. We will not be as dynamic in speed but Pederson (if he makes it) and Crawford if he is healthy, can help a little. IF you look at the possible starting line up except for Uribe and Gonzalez it is a fast team so you should be able to go 1st to third more. Great discussion here thanks to everyone for the input and give and take gives me stuff to think about. Looking forward to Spring.

  4. Richard Evans

    Kemp is gonna have a monster year with SD, but I still like the trade. Grandal has big upside and he fills a big hole. AJ is a great guy, everyone loves him, but his bat is weak and he is the worst pitch framer in MLB. He’s our backup catcher. Without the Kemp deal we wouldn’t have Rollins, another big hole filled. (Hanley was an AWFUL shortstop) Fangraphs projects the lineup to do almost as well offensively, and much better in the field. And our staring rotation has been strengthened too! 91 wins, division title. Playoffs? I’m skeptical about Mattingly guiding us to the WS, but I’m very willing to be proven wrong.

    Reply
    • Michael N. Norris

      What is his upside.,???? His sparkling .225 avg? His 15 HR’s? please,,,,,they got jobbed,,,,,,,,

      Reply
      • Alex

        He’s a better pitch-framer than Ellis. He can get a lot more corner strike calls than Ellis can with the way he catches pitches. Yes, there are stats on pitch-framing, and Grandal is consistently among the best while Ellis consistently ranks over 100th place, which is truly awful. This means many more strikes called, more outs, and better defense overall. Batting average is a wash since Ellis isn’t any better, but Grandal has better on base % with all the walks he draws, and yes, 15 homers is much better than whatever Ellis can hit next year. Joe Wieland is also a very promising young reliever, and that’s a good way to improve our bullpen.

      • Michael N. Norris

        Ellis is a lifetime .250 hitter…..he had injuries which knocked his production down….but the last 2 weeks he was the hottest hitter on the team..look, I know AJ is not the quinsential catcher and he is aging. But the pitchers trust him and he calls a great game….should he be the starter? Probably not. But Grandal is not that big an upgrade and certainly is NOT worth Kemp 1 for 1..which is basically what the trade came down to…..Fed Ex for the rookie, Matt for Grandal….sorry…that is a BAD trade….

      • Alex

        How can you already claim it’s a bad trade when the season hasn’t even begun? Like you said, you should believe it when you see it. You still haven’t acknowledged pitch framing, which makes Grandal miles and miles better than Ellis. It’s ok if you don’t value it because you don’t understand it, but you’ll start seeing a lot more strike calls go our way. Plus he’s miles better offensively, still has more potential, and is entering his prime, whereas Ellis is 34 and likely getting worse every year.

      • Keith Brown

        How can you claim it’s a good trade by that flawed logic? You haven’t acknoledged how horrible Grandal’s throwing is either.lol. Miles better offensively? Miles? He is also injury prone, did you mention that? he hits .181 with RISP. lol

      • Alex

        RISP stats fluctuate all the time, so that’s not a good argument.

      • Richard Evans

        It’s not a 1 for 1 trade, the Kemp deal enabled the Rollins deal. Grandal is a switch hitter with power, 15 Homers in the pitcher – friendly petco park is promising. He’s 26, under team control for five years at a bargain price. His obp is solid, so is his slugging pct. He hits a slash of 250/310/700 this season, and thats a Huge upgrade and makes up for the offense we lose with Kemp (who i will miss, good guy, great player) I like AJ, but hes a career minor leaguer and not a long term solution at catcher. Grandal is one of the best pitch framers in the game, and Kershaw, Greinke and Ryu all like to hit that outside corner with a slider for their strikeout pitch. He’ll be worth a a couple dozen more strikeouts for those guys this year.

      • Michael N. Norris

        You can believe that…its ok….your opinion…but it still comes out as a 2 for 2….since they sent 2 players to the Phillies for Rollins……one of them being Elfin………and he hit .225 last year///Grandal will not catching Kershaw…..Not as long as Ellis is on the roster. If Ellis was a career minor leaguer….he would not have been in the majors for the last 4 years….

      • Keith Brown

        BUT, Grandal’s arm is one of the worst, he can’t hold runners at all which kinda cancel’s out his framing.

      • Alex

        That’s true, but if he were mlb average, he would have thrown out about 5 or 6 more runners last year, or about 10 if extrapolated to a full season, which really isn’t a lot. Also. Kershaw and co. have excellent pitch release speeds and are good at holding runners, so that number should go up.

      • Keith Brown

        his arm sucks. and his batting average sucks. I am hopeful that he will stay healthy and improve to reach his potential, he is our guy now afterall.

    • Tmax

      Richard I agree. Offensive power may be a little weaker but defensively this club is so much better. What ERA does the pitching staff have with a team that is solid up the middle? Some people do not give defense the credit it deserves. Handley and Kemp were not very good defenders and Dee was getting there but I think Kendrick is much better. I do not know anything about Grandal I hope he is as advertised. I think barring catastrophic injuries and if the team plays up to their norm we are a good bet to win the West. Not sure about the Manager getting us the World Series either but he has a year lets see how he does. I will be rooting for him and the rest of the Team.

      Reply
  5. Jchamblee24

    I might be the biggest Matt Kemp fan out there, but we weren’t going to get as much for Ethier or Crawford. Was it enough….only time will tell, but we are much better defensively which makes the possible loss of offense kinda a moot point. We will probably hit about the same on homeruns with who we brought in, but our B.A. should be higher. I would not be shocked to see us have a much higher run differential than last year cuz of our improved defense. That will produce more wins and another divisional title. Whether we have enough for a World Series title remains to be seen. I do think we are better 1-25 than last year though.

    Reply
    • Mike

      We might have improved but so have the other teams.
      I would not be surprised to see the Padres top the Dodgers.
      Just like the ’84 season.

      Reply
      • Jchamblee24

        Yes the Padres offense has gotten better, but are you really nervous about that pitching staff??? They can’t even touch our starting staff. The Giants got better….how. they had a pretty anemic offense as it was and they lost one if their best hitters. Granted their still the World Champs, but their best postseason bat is in Boston. And I barely even mention the D-backs and Rockies. I still love our chances to win this division!!!!

      • Keith Brown

        Division, YES, WS hell no. But i’ll still watch and hope.

      • dave

        Padres had a better team ERA than we did last year Chamblee. Cashner, Ross, and Kennedy at the top of your rotation is nothing to sneeze at.

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