Mailbag #29: Schebler’s future, Turner PEDs?, draft, trades, Anderson arb?

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Powder Hound: Two part question, how is Scott Schebler doing this season and how much do you think he needs to do to force the dodgers into another outfield logjam given the statements of organization people like Gabe kapler?

Schebler got off to a slow start, slashing just .208/.299/.377 (with an improved 9.8 percent walk rate) in the season’s first two months. Since that time, he has turned it around to hit .319/.383/.605(!) and looks more like the guy he was in Chattanooga last year. Seventeen of his 38 hits have gone for extra bases, but his walk rate has dipped a bit. On the season, he’s walking at a career-best 8.6 percent. He’s also keeping his strikeouts down (19.6 percent). All in all, he’s having a solid season. Kapler does love him, but Schebler would have to be Babe Ruthian to force the Dodgers to trade one of the five or six outfielders ahead of him on the depth chart.

David RichardsonJustin Turner is somehow currently on pace to triple his previous season high for home runs. I don’t think anyone could have expected this given his past performance in the majors, and even last year. Do you think he might be on steroids?

He’s absolutely taking steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs. Unless he isn’t.

David Bowen: You guys are really good baseball analysts and yet, there does not seem any love for the Dodgers draft. Many sources, including Baseball America, consider it Top 5! Why no love??

This was asked before the mini-debacle that was draft signing deadline day. I wasn’t too high on some of the early picks (couple were money-savers) — Walker Buehler, Kyle Funkhouser, Josh Sborz, Philip Pfeifer — but I did like some of the high-upside talent the Dodgers drafted — Mitch Hansen, Brendon Davis, Imani Abdullah. Mainly, I was down on the Funkhouser pick, which dragged the entire draft down a bit for me. Funkhouser not signing and Buehler, reportedly, needing Tommy John surgery push the draft into “meh” status.

But almost none of us really know what we’re talking about. It’s far too early to be grading and caring so much about “Top 5” draft classes. So much can happen with these guys in the next five years that it’s almost pointless to put too much analysis into what happened over the span of three days.

FromDuke2Joc: Great blog, it’s by far my favorite. Only issue I have is can we see more VORP?

Thanks. We’re pretty content with it so far. First, what is VORP?

“Value Over Replacement Player. The number of runs contributed beyond what a replacement-level player at the same position would contribute if given the same percentage of team plate appearances. VORP scores do not consider the quality of a player’s defense.”

That last sentence is a big one. While it’s hard to quantify defense, the fact this stat doesn’t take it into account at all makes it a bit flawed for me. At least fWAR attempts to do that. Also, Mike comes from a FanGraphs’ background, I do some work there and Daniel and subscribe to their theories on advanced metrics. I’m not saying VORP is a bad stat, it’s just that we prefer others. Apologies in advance for not giving a good answer.

Love Sponge: I understand there are players the Dodgers brass peg as untouchable ( Seager, Urias, Joc). But with the possibility Zack leaving next year, the FA roster next off season deep, and the Dodgers SP depth thin, I feel that trading Urias and minor pieces for Chapman/Cueto is a good call. (That is as long as you can resign Cueto). Wrong thinking?

It isn’t wrong, but I don’t think the Dodgers would do that. If they’re going to trade Julio Urias, it’s going to be for a surer, more stable situation — i.e., a younger, cost-controlled player (be it pre-arb or locked up already). Everyone knows Urias is one of the best prospects in the game, and I’m not sure I’d move him for an Aroldis Chapman/Johnny Cueto combination with the chance Cueto bolts in free agency. Then you’re looking at 14 months of Chapman and two of Cueto for Urias (and likely other pieces).

If, say, the White Sox came calling and make Chris Sale available, then I think Urias would be in play. But there’s zero reason for them to do so. It would take a unique situation for the Dodgers to move Urias in a deal.

Luis: Is there anything that shows that A.J. Ellis is getting better at framing? I definitely feel like I see him trying more often now and think maybe he’s getting better? Or am I just giving him the benefit of the doubt?

I noticed at spring training this year that he was at least trying to improve his framing. The fact I noticed it without looking too hard was promising. But the data and some of his frame/lack-of-frame attempts this season don’t mesh with that assumption.

According to Baseball Prospectus’ advanced catching metrics, Ellis is 71st out of 87 catchers in framing runs added by count(-1.3). For context, Yasmani Grandal is at 11.4 — best in baseball. StatCorner has Ellis at -2.2 runs above (below) average. Grandal is at 12.7 — tied for third-best. But Ellis has improved since last season, when those numbers were at -6.6 and -14.8, respectively. He isn’t nearly as bad as he was in 2014, but he still has a long way to go to even be average.

Take the metrics with a grain of salt, as they aren’t the be all, end all. It’s nice to see Ellis putting forth the effort to improve in the weakest part of his game.

Drew: Anderson has been pretty solid so far. Assuming, big if, he stays steady and healthy all year, the Dodgers offer him arbitration right? It’s a win/win whether he accepts or declines. Its the same for Brandon Beachy in 2017. What about Howie Kendrick?

This was asked before the injury to his Achilles, but my answer is the same. I really don’t think the Dodgers would offer Brett Anderson arbitration. There is just too much risk there for Anderson to be  $15-plus million pitcher. Also, I don’t see another team signing him if he is given a qualifying offer, which means he would be back in the Dodger rotation in 2016. That isn’t all bad, but it also isn’t a great allocation of resources. With Zack Greinke due to opt-out and the unknown status of Hyun-Jin Ryu for 2016 (please be OK), the Dodgers are going to need a pitcher or two in the offseason. One might be Greinke. If not him, then another front-line guy like a David Price. Anderson would seem to fit the bill as a back-of-the-rotation guy, but do the Dodgers really want to press their luck? They’ve already gotten 110 2/3 good innings out of him. How much more can they harvest from that well?

Money doesn’t matter much to this front office (it shouldn’t, as the team has almost all of it), but it isn’t reckless enough to risk $15 million — with other holes to fill — on a No. 4/5 starter with a questionable health record. As for Beachy, he’s almost a lock to come back because his option is for $3 to $6 million. There’s less risk because of the money. And Kendrick will absolutely be extended a qualifying offer in the winter (if he isn’t traded before the deadline).

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.