Mailbag #11: Playoff Rotation, Mattingly’s Effect, Front Office, Joc Concerns

Greg: What would the playoff rotation be?

This question still totally depends on Hyun Jin Ryu‘s health.

Assuming Ryu is healthy and that the Dodgers win the division, they should have everybody rested for the NLDS on Oct. 3. That means a rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun Jin Ryu, and Dan Haren. I honestly cannot see them playing match-ups with the rotation order, nor do I see them skipping Haren after what happened to Kershaw last year after he went on short rest.

If Ryu has a setback, the rotation gets exposed. Haren is replacement level, but there’s at least an expectation that he can be replacement level and give up like three runs or something. Past him … oh boy. Kershaw, Greinke, and Haren would be the first three to go. Then we’re in Fauxto Carmona, Carlos Frias, and Kevin Correia territory. I think Kershaw on short-rest becomes a possibility in this scenario depending on his Game 1 start, but if not I think they go with the veteran in Fauxto.

So … uh … Ryu better be healthy.

Evan: Is there a stat like WAR that captures how many management decisions backfire or work out? Pretty much every decision Mattingly made yesterday was the wrong one. While the players have to perform, I consider Donnie more responsible than anyone else for the loss. Mattingly’s bullpen management is about as valuable as Kemp in center field. Sacrifice bunts for everyone!!!

Ben Lindbergh did look at this over at Baseball Prospectus, and the results were mixed.

The responses ranged from “1-2” to “5-10.” The average was approximately three wins. That seems reasonable, if not conservative, given how many crucial managerial decisions come in high-leverage spots. It’s generally accepted that a manager can’t make a bad team good or a good one bad, and that’s probably true. But three wins is an awful lot. Three wins cost a fortune on the free agent market—much more than any manager might hope to make. And adding these three wins wouldn’t require any elusive discovery—finally figuring out defense, say, or learning how to keep pitchers healthy. These three wins are achievable with what we already know.

About three wins. Eh.

Look, I get it. If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’m not shy about criticizing Don Mattingly, and strategically, yeah, I think he’s cost us potential games. 1, 3, 5, 10? I’m not exactly sure and honestly nobody is right now, it’s one of the things that’s hard to optimize.

But that’s just decision making. The part that’s basically impossible to gauge is whether he can get them to show up everyday and play to the best of their abilities. Dealing with this specific Dodgers team is a mess, so this is easily his most important task.

Like I said last season during the height of the “just fire Mattingly” era, I’m not gonna pine for the guy, but I certainly didn’t wish for him to be canned either. I think he’s done questionable stuff with the press at times, but he’s generally minimized the drama, and within the clubhouse he seems to have everybody’s respect. Put it this way, I would REALLY REALLY REALLY hate to see what a Grady Little or Joe Torre would do with this group. Yasiel Puig would be in Rookie-ball or would’ve strangled Torre like Puig was Latrell Sprewell and Kemp would be in Siberia somewhere. God knows Torre batted Kemp eighth when he was the second-best hitter on the team, imagine Torre dealing with Kemp while he struggled for two years?

*Shivers*

So again, as I’ve said many times, as long as Mattingly keeps the clubhouse sane, he has my support. And honestly? Part of that is because there’s no one available that I can see who would actually make correct analytics moves that could also keep track of this clubhouse anyway. Do I think he’s ideal in terms of shifting, bullpen management, media savvy, double switching, or whatever else? Obviously not. But I think he fits this team at the moment and other managers are equally maddening to watch make decisions. Just follow other team’s bloggers for a hint.

Vince: If the Dodgers don’t win the World Series, is Ned gone? And thus, Mattingly too? Furthermore, who would you like as GM and as manager?

Doubt it and doubt it.

I think Mattingly gets at least another year unless they get humiliated in the playoffs and need a scapegoat or something. I mean, it’s not like Mattingly is the reason the roster is flawed, and we’re one more injury away from ‘Kevin Correia Game 4 Starter’ being uttered.

As far as Ned Colletti goes … I dunno anymore. The quicker you give up on him being fired the better it is for your mental health. Just accept it. He’s not as terrible as he was at the start of his journey, but he’ll always have an excuse to be kept around despite general meh-ness. Early in his GM career, he was saved by a historic run of prospects funneled through the system that helped cancel out like $75 million in dead money, then the Frank McCourt era collapse happened so became the villain and Hall Of Famer Manny Ramirez fell into his lap, and now he has $250 million in payroll and basically can’t NOT produce a playoff team with the new two wild card teams.

There’s a reason I haven’t bothered to write articles about how he squanders his resources, like Andrew Grant did for Mike Scoscia’s Tragic Illness (now at True Blue LA), and it’s mainly cause it doesn’t matter anymore. I’ve been in acceptance phase for a while even as he uses flawed roster construction or whatever else, so it’s all whatever. Maybe if he wins Executive Of The Year I’ll have a seizure and write something, but other than that…

Accept it. Save years of your life. Hope for the best.

Stop waiting for him to be fired. You’ll be happier.

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GIF BREAK!

Sliding up in your mailbag like:

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Tom: I can’t wait to see Pederson in the majors, but I can’t help but be apprehensive about his strikeout rate. How do his numbers compare to Chris Young‘s minor league numbers, and do you find this a legitimate comparison? Young’s defense, walks, and power made him underrated for years, but he ultimately looks like a disappointment because he couldn’t overcome all the strikeouts. Is this what we should expect from Joc, at least initially?

If you had to pick one of the three favorite prospects as “Most Likely To Succeed” out of Seager, Pederson, and Urias, who would it be?

This was asked before Joc Pederson was called up, but it still applies.

In short, yes it’s a concern. I’ve always talked about his strikeout rate, but like you mentioned, the reason why it’s hard to be too down on him is that even if he ends up hitting .230, he walks so often, has enough natural power and lift, and still plays above-average defense, so it’ll be hard for him to not have value. At the end of this season, he was cutting down his strikeout rate, and I think for him to really bust, he’d have to strikeout at like a 35%+ rate.

I actually don’t find the Chris Young comparison that relevant because he walked 11% of the time and struck out 15% of the time in his last season in minors (AAA). Pederson was at 18% and 27% in AAA, respectively, with a 164 wRC+ compared to Young’s 132 (park-adjusted).

Personally, I don’t think Joc’s a star like Puig or Kemp. He could be if his contact rates are there, absolutely, but I’ve seen him as the type that should be a valuable regular and could make an All-Star team or two in high BABIP seasons or something. The upside is present, but yes, the reason I have doubts is his contact rate. So in that sense, it’s a legit worry for me. Is it something that will prevent him from helping this team or some other team? Doubtful.

As far as picking out the most likely to succeed, I would have to say … Julio Urias? No, it’s Pederson for all the reasons I mentioned above, plus he already conquered advanced ball. But the fact that a 17-year-old in A-ball makes it really close for me says a lot. It’s difficult for me to see him at least not being an above-average starter in the middle of a rotation. Whether he adjusts and all that enough to be a front-line guy is up for debate, but barring injury he’s gonna be around for a while.

As for Corey Seager, he can flat-out hit, but usually guys with aggressive approaches that don’t control the strike zone especially well are bigger bust risks in the majors. Seager probably has the most upside because of his position, though. And arguably he’s the most indispensable prospect for this particular franchise with the way their future is shaping up.

Eric: Given the large discrepancy between our home and road records, should we be rooting against home-field in the playoffs?

No.

I could be an asshole and just leave it at that, but no matter what that split says, there’s an inherent advantage in getting the last crack at things and having the game end if you score more than the other guy does after eight innings.

Yes.

Kemp has 16 homers in 427 plate appearances (3.7%) at night and five homers in 136 plate appearances (3.7%) during the day, so roughly the same production. However, he does have an .860 OPS during the day and a .825 OPS at night. So there’s that.

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Roy: I don’t get what Chad brings to the table. All I see is he just makes gifs and complains.

You knew this was coming after the last mailbag.

Still your returning champion.

Mike: Why don’t you do some in-depth coverage of the Dodgers like talking about what they do to improve on off days like 9/4. Or what the did after a horrible loss at home in a day game on 9/3. Your coverage is shallow and not much more than what ESPN provides. Where’s the inside scoop like player profile details? What is Puig doing to help himself during his slump? Or how about Gordon? Is Maury Wills around to help Gordon? What are the hitting coaches doing to get us out of the hitting slumps? Your coverage is shallow, weak, and if little use to me.

*Of

But seriously, do you not read the site? We aren’t reporters, you should ask why beat writers aren’t asking those questions.

As for slumps and analysis of said slumps … that’s basically all we’ve been doing recently. So confusing.

Be more intelligent, please.

About Chad Moriyama

Chad Moriyama
"A highly rational Internet troll." - Los Angeles Times