Around The Web: Kimbrel trade reax, Bellinger’s swing & Victor’s return to form, 2022 rankings & predictions

While everybody seems to be melting down about a bad Spring Training, I think people should relax a bit. Thank you.

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ESPN: Bradford Doolittle gives both teams a B grade in the Craig Kimbrel/AJ Pollock swap. He talks about the potential risk for the Dodgers, but ultimately defaults to their judgment.

For me to hammer the Dodgers because I wouldn’t want to wager on what Kimbrel is going to do this season would be akin to suggesting that I know better what he’s going to do than the Dodgers do. No thanks. Kimbrel didn’t adapt to the super-setup role, but if L.A.’s plan is to use him in the structured ninth-inning-hammer role that he’s done at a Hall of Fame level for most of his career, then you have to believe they have a good reason to believe he can do it.

Honestly, the fact that a lot of people are saying “this doesn’t necessarily look great but the Dodgers must know better” doesn’t fill me with confidence.

OC Register: Kimbrel is saying all the right things about the trade, and Brandon Gomes says the Dodgers have confidence in their ability to replace Pollock’s production with their depth.

“Any time you add an All-Star closer to the mix and somebody who’s as talented with the track record of Craig, you’re gonna feel good about it,” Dodgers GM Brandon Gomes said. “The cascading effect of when guys are coming into games and how we get to use different pitchers is only beneficial.”

“As tough as it is to see AJ go, some of the depth that is behind our group right now, with (Edwin) Rios and Lamb, our Triple-A group and some of the younger guys coming up, we felt like it was something that we could do and feel OK about. … It was an opportunity for us to strengthen our pitching and take from an area that we felt had a little bit more depth.”

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OC Register: Cody Bellinger is a tinkerer, but the hitting coaches are aware and they’re working with him.

But wouldn’t Bellinger be better off picking one set of swing mechanics and sticking with it?
“It’s a tough question,” Brown said. “I mean, we want him to be the best. He wants himself to be the best. Whether or not we’re doing things on a daily basis is just because he’s really trying to navigate on what his feels are. And sometimes we all know a hitter’s feels will deceive them.”

Van Scoyoc acknowledged that “the goal is to kind of get a consistent routine and process and find something that sticks and stick to it and not bounce around.” But that is easier said than done when the results aren’t providing positive feedback.

It’s hard not to have hope given his ridiculous ceiling, but it’s also hard not to be concerned given what we’ve seen from him most of the time of late.

Los Angeles Times: Victor Gonzalez has looked great in Spring Training, and he says it’s because he refocused, admitting to not taking care of himself like he should’ve last year.

“To be honest, I didn’t take care of myself,” González, 26, said. “I wasn’t paying attention to the amount of food I was eating.” The abrupt fall inspired change. González reported to spring training last month weighing 214 pounds, more than 30 below his playing weight last summer. This wasn’t about the clichéd reporting to spring training in the best shape of his life. This was about saving his major league career before it cratered as quickly as it launched.

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FanGraphs: The annual Positional Power Rankings have the Dodgers #2 at catcher, #2 at first base, #11 at second base, #11 at third base, #2 at shortstop, #11 at left field (before trading A.J. Pollock, however), #8 at center field, #3 at right field, #3 at designated hitter, #5 in relief pitching, and #10 in starting pitching. Given where they are at other positions, it’s not exactly hard to see where the soft spot is.

Buehler or Urías might win the Cy Young this year. They both have the talent to do so, and both put together impressive seasons in 2021. Kershaw might continue to challenge our understanding of “decline”; his 3.55 ERA last year was the highest since his rookie season, and was also a 3.55 ERA. But the innings risk is massive, and the drop-off from the top of the rotation to the bottom is scary. Depth matters in modern baseball – even for the team that seems to have everything.

The Athletic: A tier list of 125 position players that was cross-checked with those in the game. It has Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, and Trea Turner in 1B, Will Smith in 2B, Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger in 4A, and Chris Taylor and Justin Turner in 4B. The Dodgers lead with eight players on the list.

The Athletic: A tier list of 50 pitchers that was cross-checked with those in the game. Walker Buehler (#3) comes in at Tier 2, Julio Urias (#10) and Trevor Bauer (#12) at Tier 3, and Clayton Kershaw (#34) at Tier 4.

The Athletic: In a poll of staff writers, the Dodgers were the most voted to win the World Series (48.5%) and the NL West (93.9%). Meanwhile, Walker Buehler topped the NL Cy Young Award poll (45.5%), with Julio Urias also receiving votes. In the NL MVP race, Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, and Freddie Freeman all got consideration, and Freeman was voted as Best Acquisition. The Dodgers also got one vote (I think) in the Most Overrated Team category, though it didn’t seem especially serious.

Weaver (Dodgers): Dodgers, but only because if they don’t go 162-0 and win the World Series, it’s going to be a little bit of a letdown.

ESPN: Jeff Passan did a predictions post for the 2022 season, and notably thinks Walker Buehler will lead the NL in ERA and the White Sox will beat the Dodgers in the 2022 World Series. Also, he describes Miguel Vargas and Andy Pages as having started debates among rival evaluators about who is better, but ultimately cites them both as evidence of the player development monster the Dodgers have created.

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MLB Pipeline: Farm system rankings? Now? Absolutely, as they got off to a late start thanks to that pesky lockout thing. Anyway, they have the Dodgers at #5 in baseball.

The Dodgers have set franchise records with 106 victories in each of the last two full seasons, wrapped around a World Series title and a franchise mark for winning percentage (.717) in 2020, and they’re rolling in terms of signing and developing young talent as well. Right-handers Bobby Miller and Ryan Pepiot are the next farmhands poised to make an impact in Los Angeles.

Speaking of rankings and notes, check this out from Future Dodgers, who always does great work.

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Also, wasn’t sure where to put this, but the Dodgers signed Dellin Betances, who was last good in 2018, but obviously has upside if he can somehow get healthy.

About Chad Moriyama

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