Mailbag #19: Batting Order, FO Concerns, Uribe’s Future, Playoff Format, Ethier Trade?

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There are three lineups I’ll give: what I think it should look like to start the year, what I hope the lineup can be later on, and what I expect to see from Don Mattingly on Opening Day.

This is what I hope to see to start the year:

Yasiel Puig – RF
Carl Crawford – LF
Howie Kendrick – 2B
Adrian Gonzalez – 1B
Yasmani Grandal – C
Jimmy Rollins – SS
Juan Uribe – 3B
Joc Pederson – CF

Unsurprisingly, most of my justification for this alignment comes from what analytics have shown to be the most efficient.

Puig is the best hitter and gets on base the most, so he gets the most plate appearances. Crawford is one of the better returning bats at this stage, especially since I’m saving Kendrick and A-Gon. Kendrick is the high-average guy that can drive runners in with singles. A-Gon is the guy with pop who should get the most opps with runners on, but also bats a lot to leadoff innings and has the second-highest OBP. Fifth should be the wannabe cleanup hitter, and that describes Grandal’s skill-set at the plate pretty well. Rollins bats sixth to take advantage of his base-stealing, where it’s shown to be most effective. Uribe goes ahead of Joc because the latter is still an unknown quantity.

Here’s what I would like the lineup to eventually look like:

Yasiel Puig – RF
Joc Pederson – CF
Howie Kendrick – 2B
Adrian Gonzalez – 1B
Yasmani Grandal – C
Carl Crawford – LF
Juan Uribe – 3B
Jimmy Rollins – SS

Joc would be perfect in the two-hole if he makes contact, walks like normal, and has a bit of pop. Grandal hitting enough to stick at #5 would also be important. And then Carl could take over the Rollins role, and allow singles hitters to drive him in, ideally after he swipes second.

What I think we’ll see at the start of the year:

Jimmy Rollins – SS
Yasiel Puig – RF
Adrian Gonzalez – 1B
Howie Kendrick – 2B
Carl Crawford – LF
Juan Uribe – 3B
Yasmani Grandal – C
Joc Pederson – CF

Rollins is fast and a veteran, so him or CC have to lead-off. A-Gon is the “best hitter”, so he’ll be third batter. Can’t trust Grandal or Pederson yet, so they’re at the bottom. Hell, I actually wouldn’t be surprised to see A.J. Ellis start.

Undoubtedly, Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi will influence Mattingly a bit, but I’m not too convinced of wholesale changes to filling out the card. I would, however, expect a lot more platooning and shuffling of the lineup due to handedness and other factors.

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Dave: Hey, just wondering about your thoughts on what negative effects the big front office changes might bring. With so much turnover so quickly, do you think there might be issues these new brains and personalities might encounter? I realize these are smart guys with similar backgrounds who’ve been doing this for a while, but it strikes me that BIG CHANGES sometimes come with BIG GROWING PAINS. Gonna be an interesting off-season, I’m sure. Love your site. Of course.

As fans, we don’t know much about the workings of the front office, so it’s hard to tell. For all we know, there could be daily slap fights going on between Friedman and Zaidi already.

That said, having so many experienced, knowledgeable voices on both the scouting (these additions are way overlooked, by the way) and analytics side of things is a big plus, and having conflicting opinions and new ways to look at things is also generally healthy. Could it be a detriment? Sure, you never know, but I only see problems if there’s not the ‘one guy’ they can all look to as being in charge (Friedman, probably) or if the guys at the top (Stan Kasten, Friedman, Zaidi) aren’t able to manage all the input.

Sure, it’s possible one of those things could happen, but I think if the worry now is that we have too many proven, intelligent voices in the front office, that’s an improvement on having to worry about whether the team is gonna offer a multi-year deal based on a player’s grit and heart.

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Matthew: I’m hoping you can soften the blow of the oncoming Ethier trade by laying out the rationale. I’m concerned about the lack of lefty bats on the bench, insurance for Crawford’s inevitable missed time, and selling at the absolute nadir of his value.

The rationale is basically that the Dodgers currently have six MLB caliber outfielders, and Andre Ethier has already requested a trade months ago, saying that he tolerated the situation last year but it didn’t work anyway. Thus, it’s safe to assume he won’t be as quiet about playing time this year if he’s used as a glorified pinch hitter. Doubly true if Pederson gets off to a slow start and the team’s patient with him.

But you are likely right at this stage. I honestly think the best option might be to keep him around and convince him he’ll see the field enough, simply because CC still gets hurt every year and Joc COULD bust (at least for 2015). There’s legit risk in those two spots, and having fringe-average replacement lingering around is a boon. Of course, if Ethier’s true talent level is really what we saw in 2014, then keeping him is pointless since Chris Heisey could do that.

Bob Carlson: Did the Dodgers scout Jung Ho Kang? If so, was he not considered worth the investment? I know Seager is the future SS, but he could be moved to 3B or even move Kang to 2B. I’m curious to hear the Dodgers reasoning for either not bidding on him or not bidding enough. Being outbid by Pittsburgh is surprising.

I’m sure they did, but even the Pirates are saying Kang might not be a starter for them, at least initially. And his $5 million price sort of tells the story in terms of looking at him as a long-term answer at any position. You bid tens of millions for him if you think he’s a regular in the prime of his career instead of a utility guy with upside.

Kang might turn out to be legit, but not getting him has to do with Dodgers not wanting him as opposed to getting outspent. Kang is not Hyun-Jin Ryu as a prospect, basically.

I hope so.

Uribe is one of the few players that seems universally loved wherever he goes, and it’s not hard to see why. Sometimes I think he’s the only guy that has kept Puig relatively sane the last two years.

Hard to imagine a scenario where he couldn’t find a place as a player after he gets too old to start or as a coach after his playing days are over.

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Foldy: Does the acknowledgement that the postseason is, as Dave Cameron called it recently, “a coin flip” take out some of the magic/fun of winning it all? Is Kirk Gibson‘s ’88 homerun an anomaly of the game by being the right hit at the really, really right time or was it parts human and earned/deserved or both?

Everything is “earned”. Gibson’s ability, the managerial guts to make the move, the scouting on Dennis Eckersley beforehand, Mike Davis working a walk, and the work of the training staff up until that point all contributed. But was it extremely unlikely to happen? Yes. Was it a bit lucky? Yes. If we play that scenario again nine more times, does Eck get out of it nine times? Probably. But it’s all deserved because it happened under the rules everybody agreed to. Saying something is lucky or an anomaly doesn’t mean it’s not deserved, it’s just acknowledging the odds. Were the Cardinals the best team in baseball in 2006? Doubtful. Did they deserve to win the World Series? Sure.

Look, the series sample of a one game for the Wild Card, five games for the Division Series, and seven for the Championship Series and World Series total a low percentage of the season compared to some other sports, so the fact that the MLB’s playoff results frequently don’t match the regular season results makes sense. For example, in the NBA, why do #1 seeds win so frequently? Because the seven-game series is like 10% of their season, and there’s four rounds of it. If baseball had four 15-game series, even though baseball still has more variance involved, you’d see a lot more regular season champions winning in the playoffs.

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Justin: How long until the MLB forces the DH role into the NL? Thoughts? Opinions?

Despite the protestations of traditionalists, if baseball is going to unite the rules, I doubt the DH will go away because I doubt the MLBPA want it to go away.

I don’t mind the DH coming to the NL either. There’s marginally less strategy, sure, but Dodgers managers have sucked at strategy over my entire lifetime, I won’t miss most pitchers attempting to hit, and I certainly won’t miss their constant bunting. There’s one detriment, however, and it’s a big one: we will no longer get to watch the increasingly inept pitchers attempting to hit, like Bartolo Colon. Or even competent guys like Ryu bat-flipping everything and then having to be fanned in the dugout after running 180 feet or whatever. But if I no longer have to watch intentional walks to the Ryan Theriots of the world and pitchers bunting into double plays and all that crap, I have no objections.

As far as a timetable goes, this seems like one of those things that’s inevitable but never seems to make any progress either.

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Hi: Now that Donnie “Couch” Mattingly is being compared to furniture, there is a disagreement between my friends and myself about what type of furniture best typifies Mattingly. My friends are comparing him to ottomans and Lay-Z-Boys with broken handles, but I feel like he really isn’t a place of repose at all. I think he is more like an indoor cactus. Will you break the tie? Thanks.

Mattingly would be that first couch you get that you place sentimental value on. Bad decisions have been made on it, it doesn’t pass the smell test after a while, and every three months somebody says you should’ve replaced it years ago, but people love it because it brings back memories, it’s relatively sturdy, and nobody has to herniate a disk to carry it down five flights of stairs.

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I am sad that people have stopped sending hate mail and/or insane stuff, because I really want to use random GIFS in these.

About Chad Moriyama

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