Our Dodgers Nation staff gives their take on all this week’s Dodgers news. There is so much to talk about that we’ll have to break it down over the next two days! Keep an eye out for the post to follow.
With the news that Corey Seager is lost for the year, where do the Dodgers go from here? How much does it affect their chances for 2018?
Brian: Well, their chances certainly took a massive hit, that’s for sure. Losing Seager will not be easy to overcome. You can sugarcoat it all you want, but it’s going to be extremely difficult for the Dodgers to overcome this loss, barring some sort of move to bring in another star (Manny Machado perhaps?) Is it impossible? No. They did beat the Chicago Cubs in last year’s NLCS without Seager. But they didn’t get there without him. A seven-game series is a lot different than a 162 game season. The Dodgers will need to somehow make up that production, and fill a huge hole in the lineup left by Seager’s absence. It won’t be easy. Also, as much as everyone will want to jump on the Machado thing, I’m not sure the Dodgers front office does something like that just to try and salvage this year. They could, but I wouldn’t expect it.
Clint E.: I don’t know if the Seager injury – one of the saddest pieces of news I ever remember – is something the team really comes back from. I would love to be wrong. They have circled the wagons during less than adverse situations before. The 2018 season just feels snakebitten to a degree. I don’t want to be a pessimist. It’s still baseball, and it’s still great watching every day. If I had my wishes, Chris Taylor returns to 2017 form as our new shortstop, and Toles and Pederson (Toles mostly) become the everyday centerfielders. And I’ll be thinking of you, Corey Seager.
Gail – Good point, Clint. Let’s not forget how devastating this must be to this young player who now has a long road of surgery and rehabilitation ahead of him. He needs our good thoughts right now. As far as the team goes, beyond losing Kershaw for a season, this is the worst blow they could have been dealt, and how the organization deals with it will define their successes for the next several years. My ideal line-up solution sees Taylor take over at SS, with Toles called up to share LF duties with Kemp while Joc moves back to CF.
Blake: I know a lot of people are saying it’s time to panic, but I wouldn’t be worrying just yet. Obviously losing a player of Seager’s caliber is a detrimental blow, but as we’ve seen, the Dodgers have a plethora of depth, as well as a core of young talent in the minors ready to get their opportunity. I think the team will take a hit, but not as big as most would think. In regards to what they should do, I think they should consider pursuing Manny Machado. If you have a chance to get a player of his talent, I say go for it. Though, I would be hesitant to part ways with prospects. I think the Dodgers should hold back, and wait a few months to see how the team performs.
Clint P./FRG: With the chances dwindling they way they already had been – sitting at 12-16 and 8 full games behind the Diamondbacks through April – the loss of Seager might just be the early final nail in the coffin.
Short story long, it’s hard for any team to replace a key player, but when it’s a consensus top-3 shortstop, you’re really hurting. Let’s not forget that the hated Giants went through it last season with key injuries and team-wide underperformance and they never recovered.
It feels like far too often our Dodgers rely on these miracle runs at winning ballgames in record numbers (2013’s 42-8 always comes to mind), and it is simply not a sustainable way to keep winning divisions… but I really hope they can pull one out in 2018.
Brook: Obviously, Seager’s loss hurts. Not just on the field, but he certainly seems to be a clubhouse leader. The depth they have at the minor league level makes it sting a little less. I also think it will be good for the Dodgers to give some of their prospects chances at the big league level. I think if guys like Alex Verdugo and Andrew Toles who will probably get more opportunities because of the injury. So even though losing Seager sucks, it’s good to know the team is deep. I would NOT go out and made a splash by landing Manny Machado.
What’s your take on the whole Dave Roberts – Cody Bellinger thing? Was Roberts in the right for benching Cody?
Gary: After watching the play and based on face value, I think Roberts overreacted a bit in pulling Bellinger that quickly. The fact was that Bellinger had to get down on one knee to muscle that double into right center, so right off the bat, Cody has it in his head that he is behind. Couple that with the fact that the Dodgers were trailing and was having a hard time generating some offense, he took the conservative approach of holding up at second. Did not see anything to be concerned about at all. With that being said, the only thing that would make it understandable for such a quick hook would be past issues and that’s exactly what Roberts talked about in the post-game interviews. As a player who has been warned, you definitely don’t to give your coach or manager any reason to yank from a game and especially in such a public manner.
Brian: I’m on the fence a little for this one. On one hand, I did initially think that Bellinger should have been on third after his hit, and was surprised to see him wind up at second base. He has great speed, and they call that spot of AT&T Park “triples alley” for a reason. But he did bring up a good point during his post game comments. A general rule of base-running is to not make the first or last out of an inning at 3rd base, and you definitely don’t want to do it in a game you’re trailing 4-0. So, if he truly didn’t know if he could have made it safely, there’s no need to take the unnecessary risk. But I still haven’t seen a video of the play that kept the camera on Bellinger, so I don’t know how hard he was running out of the box. He did slip a little on this swing though, which probably slowed him down a bit.
Either way, personally, if I’m Dave Roberts, I probably don’t bench Bellinger there. I talk to him after the game about it, and listen to his side. With that said, Roberts did mention that this wasn’t the first time that he’s talked with Cody about this hustling issue. If that’s so, it may change things. But I’ve watched almost every Dodgers game this year, and I can’t recall Bellinger not hustling on a play.
Gail: I’m off the unpopular opinion that managing the players should be left up to the manager. While it’s true what Brian says in that Cody appears to me to have been hustling all season, there are still a lot of things that we don’t see, on and off the field. Dave very well could have already spoken to Cody many times about this, but we don’t always know (and shouldn’t know) all the details. I have managed people in my career and believe it to be one of the toughest jobs out there, so i trust that Roberts believes he acted accordingly. Whether the move works out the way it was presumably intended (to drive a point home with Cody) remains to be seen.
Clint P./FRG: I’m stuck on this one – yes, players need to be held accountable, but I don’t think Cody was terribly in the wrong. Like he said, he took a big swing, bringing him down to a knee, and ended up in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. It all screams of mounting frustrations in the clubhouse, and with no Justin Turner or even Adrian Gonzalez to call one of those famed closed-door meetings and light a fire under the team, the sloppy play will continue.
Brook: After watching the video over and over again, it’s easy to see both sides. It doesn’t look like Bellinger is hustling out of the box, I think he may have even thought he got all of that ball. But i think Robert’s ire is misplaced. Yes, players should be held accountable for their actions. No, this did not warrant taking a good hitter out.
Philbert: What concerns me here is that Doc said he’s addressed this issue with Cody before. If there is a pattern the manager has detected, then he’s taken the appropriate action. Watching the play, I thought Cody was being judicious. Leading off an inning, down by four, you’re in scoring position, pass the baton. I get it. But Roberts is trying to get the team to play with more urgency, a trait that I believe has been lacking, so benching one of your stars sends a message. I also think we need to keep it in perspective, I don’t think it’s a glaring condemnation of anyone.
Clint E.: So, I have to go against Dave Roberts on this one. I really felt like it was Roberts in the middle of a firestorm; searching for an attempt to get the team going, or something. It came off a bit desperate to me. To pull what I believe is our best offensive player out of a 4-2 game – I feel there are better ways of handling it. The guy hit the ball 420-feet and was in scoring position. Why does he need to be on third base so badly there? I believe our backup catcher was playing second base and hitting behind Bellinger in the lineup, and he struck out. He’s hitting .190 this season, and he’s protecting Bellinger. Roberts should have his guys back more than ever right now. Cody Bellinger does hustle, and does play the game the right way. Roberts on the other hand – has thrown some questionable lineups out there from day one. There were better ways to speak to your young player on this than allowing it to hit the media.
Blake: I usually like to see everything from the perspective of both sides, but I am 100% with Bellinger on this one. Although his career is still fairly young, we’ve never seen any problems from him in regards to a lack of hustle. So this is something new for him. Secondly, he came out and said he thought he was hustling. If he knew he messed up, I think he would have owned up to it and accepted responsibility. Finally, he did reach second with a double. As you’ve already heard, you’re taught to never make the first out of the inning at third base, so maybe he thought he couldn’t make it. Normally I back up Doc in his decisions, but I think this was one of the more questionable and bad decisions he’s made in his time as manager.
Just over a month into the season, and the Dodgers have greatly underachieved so far. How surprised are you with their play, and how concerned are you overall?
Gary: Of course, I was hoping the Dodgers would come out of the gate angry and with something to prove, similar to the 2009 Lakers after their 2008 finals loss to the Celtics. Realistically, with Justin Turner’s injury and the number of weddings they had in a relatively short off-season, I didn’t think they would be coming out of the gates that hot. We had a lot of holes to worry about within the starting rotation and bullpen along with question marks around the positional players:
- Did Cody Bellinger fix that hole in his swing from the World Series?
- How is Corey Seager replaced?
- Can Austin Barnes step up into the starter position? How will Yaz react?
- What’s going on with second base?
- What are we going to do with Matt Kemp?
Am I worried? Probably not much right now, since we’re just in May right now and this team did just have some relative success before the no-show vs. the Marlins and Giants. Also, Clayton needs to just get back into the groove of things along with Kenley, to become our pillars again for the young team to lean on.
Brian: I was in the minority of people who didn’t pick the Dodgers to win the division this year, and had some concerns about them going into the season. But I also didn’t think they’d play this poorly, so it is a little surprising. It’s not just their record, it’s how they’re playing.
We’re only a month into the season, and there’s a long way to go. The Dodgers have had rough starts before and come back to run away with the division. However, fans shouldn’t bank on anything this season simply based on other years. There’s no guarantee the Dodgers pull off another one of those improbable mid-season runs like they did last year, or in 2013. In fact it’s likely they don’t. Going 43-7 over a 50 game stretch is pretty doubtful. Surely, the Dodgers could still turn things around. I fully expect they will to some extent. But if you’re not at least a little concerned at this point, you’re probably not being realistic enough.
Gail: While being well aware that they haven’t typically been an “April team”, I’m most surprised at their plate approach, the backward K’s, and the inconsistency in the bullpen. I think they can do better, and will.
Brook: I’m obviously very surprised based on how they played last season. And the worry weighs a little heavier with every loss. But I am confident they will turn things around. They may not win their division, but I still believe they are a playoff team Don’t forget, they started 14-13 through the first 27 games last year. Only a few games better than they are now.
Philbert: I’m going to play the “hangover” card here a bit. Dodgers look similar to what the Cubs and Indians looked like the beginning of last season. I do think the Game 7 defeat was crushing to many of the players (and fans) and I think it rattled some of the younger guy’s confidence. That being said, I think they’ll find themselves. This team should win 90+ games and be in playoff contention. Even if they don’t win the division, they are still capable of make a run at a title. Call me “Pollyanna,” (smile when do) but I believe we’ll see Dodgers back in the Fall Classic. Despite our current state.
Clint E.: I am concerned, but not surprised. I thought that this could be a bit of a down year heading into the season (see our bold predictions), and I think the Dodgers are beginning to dig a hole that we can’t climb out of. I can’t think of a lot of things that I love about the team right now in terms of rotation, lineup, the health of players, and bullpen. Whatever can go wrong basically has. The season isn’t over, and who knows if they play well enough to justify a move or two. I am happy with the way Grandal, Kemp, and Bellinger have looked offensively. We will need extremely good fortune to be back in October though.
Blake: I am probably more surprised than I am concerned. There’s been a number of games they’ve lost by a run, or games they’ve simply just blown a lead. This team could easily be above .500. I’m not going to worry just yet. However, I am concerned with the lack of consistency we’ve seen, and their inability to take care of the bottom dwellers of the national league.
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