Monday, February 2, 2015

0 comments Steve Dilbeck Is Still Not Pleased With the Dodgers Offseason

Steve Dilbeck has a had a rough time of it this offseason. It's supposed to be the offseason where he can relax a little bit, but the Dodgers went and hired a nerd to be the team's GM, which means Steve Dilbeck has to put effort into undermining and disagreeing with every move Andrew Friedman makes. And just to spite Steve, the Dodgers are making all sorts of roster moves. They gave away an outfielder with arthritic hips to the Padres, the same guy who became Steve's favorite player immediately after he was traded by the Head Nerd in Charge of the Dodgers. Sure, Dilbeck didn't originally like Matt Kemp, but that changed once he got a chance to criticize Andrew Friedman found out that Kemp wouldn't say he hated Steve. That made all the difference. Anyway, Steve is upset because he hates everything the Dodgers do and continues to be on the warpath to criticize any move Andrew Friedman makes, even when he has to speak nonsense about how teams should sign free agents based on past production, not future production.

But first, Steve wants to know when the Dodgers will start mortgaging their future and trading their top prospects. Of course if Friedman did trade the Dodgers' top prospects then Steve would have an issue with this as well. There is one end goal. Take down the Geek Squad.

Anyway, if he's viewed as some really, really bright prospect you should hang onto him. If his name is Corey Seager, Joc Pederson or Julio Urias.

They are viewed as talented players who will work for a cheaper wage than veteran baseball players. So yes, it makes sense to hang on to them if these prospects appear to have a bright future. And just to be clear, all three of these guys are really good prospects.

Pederson hit .303/.435/.582 last year at AAA with 33 home runs. He's 22 years old.

Seager hit .349/.402/.602 last year between A+ and AA with 20 home runs. He's 20 years old.

Urias pitched 87.2 innings at A+ with a record of 2-2 and an ERA of 2.36, 109 strikeouts, 37 walks and a 1.106 WHIP. He's all of 17 years old.

There are no guarantees, but these three guys are young and have produced at the minor league level. Trading them is a good idea if the Dodgers could get something great in return, but otherwise they are a future source of cheap labor for the Dodgers.

Apparently it bothers CEO Stan Kasten that in the nearly three years his group has owned the Dodgers, not one player or pitcher drafted by the team has graduated from the minors to an everyday job with the major league club.

This should absolutely bother him. A minor league pipeline to the majors is crucial for any team that is serious about winning the World Series. When injuries/ineffectiveness occur, the best and cheapest way to replace players on the major league roster is to have a healthy minor league system. So Stan Kasten should be deeply concerned the Dodgers pipeline in the minors is not strong and this could be part of the reason he hired Andrew Friedman.

I don’t know, the last two years they won their division. Seems a lot more important in the long run.

I try not to be mean, but Steve Dilbeck is an idiot. If Steve Dilbeck isn't an idiot then he is pretending to be an idiot. No sportswriter could cover baseball for any length of time and genuinely think winning the division is more important in the long run than developing a healthy pipeline of minor league players that can contribute to the major league team. The "winning the division" thing can stop once the team has to focus on the free agent market and trades to cover gaps on the major league roster. This requires a very basic understanding of baseball and how free agency works. The Dodgers can't survive and thrive just on the trade and free agent market.

Certainly a team is better off with a reasonable pipeline of young talent coming up, but it is also fine to trade that potential talent for immediate help.

True, but what happens when the Dodgers need immediate help next year after Juan Uribe's contract is up? What happens when Zack Greinke opts-out? What happens when Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier get injured? All of a sudden, not having Joc Pederson or Corey Seager waiting to make a difference for the big league squad becomes a bigger problem than it is in January when everyone on the Dodgers team is expected to be healthy and play to their full potential.

Which brings us to Urias. He’s the 18-year-old Mexican left-hander the Dodgers think is a future ace.

Only this Dodgers team, now with improved defense and a solid lineup, is still in need of one more starting pitcher. There have been talks with the Phillies about ace Cole Hamels, but most assume it won’t happen because Philadelphia would naturally want one of the Dodgers’ three top prospects as part of any package in return.

I see the way Steve Dilbeck is going to criticize Andrew Friedman throughout his tenure with the Dodgers. He'll complain that Friedman is not "winning now" with a team built to "win now," all while ignoring (or in the case of McCarthy, not approving of the signing) Friedman trading for Rollins and Kendrick and signing Brandon McCarthy, which are all attempts to win now.

What if the Dodgers had decided to trade Clayton Kershaw when he was in the minors in an attempt to win now? It's not that the Dodgers don't want to win now, but having a pitcher in the minors who can contribute to the big league squad in two or so years while not demanding a huge contract means the Dodgers can spend money to cover deficiencies at other spots on the roster.

So do you hang on to a potential ace at the cost of acquiring a known entity? Hamels will turn 31 this month and has four additional years on his current contract at $90 million. That’s a reasonable deal considering the $155-million, six-year deal Jon Lester just signed with the Cubs.

Okay, sure. Or the Dodgers could keep a guy 14 years younger than Hamels and ensure they are building for the future while also trying to win now. I mean really, if Steve Dilbeck doesn't see why the Dodgers wouldn't trade Urias for Cole Hamels then I can't help him. Regardless of the uncertainty of prospects, there is uncertainty with Cole Hamels too. He's on the wrong side of 30 now and trading the best pitching prospect the Dodgers have would also involve paying Hamels $90 million, which could then in turn affect how much they have to offer Greinke once he opts-out of his contract.

Or the four-year, $48-million contract the Dodgers just gave Brandon McCarthy, who when last seen by the Dodgers -- back in April, when he was withe Diamondbacks -- was being pounded for six runs and 10 hits in seven innings.

Except the Dodgers didn't have to give up any prospects to sign McCarthy, which is a point that Dilbeck obviously isn't willing to mention when trying to make this comparison. The Dodgers just spent money signing McCarthy, in a move to win now, but didn't give up a prospect to get McCarthy. So it's not the same as signing Hamels, because the Dodgers don't lose Urias in signing McCarthy.

The Phillies reportedly would prefer a position player, so maybe the deal can’t happen. Plus Hamels is left-handed, and the Dodgers already have two lefties in the rotation, Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu, so maybe they’re better off trying to sign either Max Scherzer or James Shields, both right-handers. Both, of course, turned down qualifying offers, so signing either would cost the Dodgers a precious first-round pick.

James Shields is also going to want more money than he is probably going to end up being worth and Max Scherzer is represented by Scott Boras, so you know that his price will be higher than 85-90% of MLB teams would be willing to pay. It's not just about the first round pick and Dilbeck is getting off his "Why not trade the prospects?" topic of discussion which he has used to hide his real agenda and topic of discussion, which is "Andrew Friedman isn't spending enough money to win now, because everyone knows the more money you spend on players in free agency, the more World Series you will win."

Let’s just hope the Dodgers haven’t gone overboard and are suddenly so wedded to creating their own possible stars that they pass up on adding a known one now.

Yes, let's hope that the Dodgers aren't committed to putting together a Top 10 minor league system, because that would be awful. Let's hope the Dodgers aren't going overboard by creating a minor league system that will be the lifeblood of the franchise and keeps the team competitive over a decade-long span of time.

Now Dilbeck again bemoans that the Dodgers aren't signing any big name free agents. At least he doesn't deviate from his agenda.

Cole Hamels, it would have been sweet. Max Scherzer, rejoice in those coming riches. James Shields, guess we never really thought it was going to happen.

The Dodgers are meant for the cellar of the NL West now. Fortunately they have a stud pitcher coming up in the minors who could be here in a couple of years...

The superstar pitcher who was going to be added to give the Dodgers that fantastic rotation? Guess you can forget about it. Such a nice little dream. And a seemingly reasonable one, given the Dodgers’ vast riches.

Only apparently there will be no superstar-level pitcher coming to the Dodgers this off-season. No new superstar coming anywhere on the team.

I guess the Dodgers will have to stick with the two superstar pitchers they already have. What a bummer.

Stan Conte alert: That should finish the Dodgers rotation, complete with duct tape, bailing wire and crossed fingers. 

Which, by the way, is how the rest of the MLB teams put their rotation together too. It's not like there are teams with guaranteed starters who will perform above league average from the 1st to the 5th starter.

That makes your expected 2015 rotation: Clayton Kershaw, Zach Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, McCarthy and Anderson.

Worst rotation ever? Most likely.

Now if you go way out there on a limb and assume good health, that’s a really good rotation. Not as good as if Hamels or Scherzer had dropped in, but really good.

Which, by the way again, even with Hamels and Scherzer in the rotation then it would be a really good rotation and good health would still have to be assumed.

McCarthy has been on the disabled list seven times in his nine-year career with shoulder problems. Until last season, he had never thrown 200 innings.

Anderson has been on the DL seven times and he’s 26. Last season he threw only 43 1/3 innings for the Rockies, sidelined by surgeries for a fractured index finger and then a bulging disk in his back.

Guess what? This is where having a great minor league system, the same minor league system that Dilbeck wanted to tear apart to find a superstar player, comes in handy for the Dodgers. See how it works? A healthy minor league system can create more options for a rotation complete with bailing wire and crossed fingers in case the wire breaks and the crossed fingers don't work.

So if you found yourself wistful that this new Dodgers management team would come in and make at least one big splash by adding an elite player, sorry. The lineup is set, the rotation is set and probably so is the bullpen.

If you found yourself wistful that the new Dodgers management would not trade away prospects and instead choose to build the team from within while remaining competitive now, then you are probably pretty happy.

Their only big move has been to trade Matt Kemp for a part-time catcher and a pair of pitching prospects, one of whom is to be flipped for a year of shortstop Jimmy Rollins.

A Matt Kemp with arthritic hips.

But without a big-time addition. No sexy newcomer. Nothing to grab a headline and excite the masses.

I forgot how many sexy newcomers and headlines that excited the masses the Royals and Giants had last offseason that enabled them to win the World Series. Obviously I'm just forgetting that sexy newcomers and headlines immediately lead to World Series titles.

They can get by with this for now.

Muddle through, you mean? It's hard to get excited when the Dodgers just have the best pitcher in baseball and Zack Greinke headlining the rotation, but I'm sure everyone will find a way to get excited anyway.

They still might not be done.

Which isn't at all what Dilbeck said previously in this column. To recall:

The superstar pitcher who was going to be added to give the Dodgers that fantastic rotation? Guess you can forget about it.

Only apparently there will be no superstar-level pitcher coming to the Dodgers this off-season.

Stan Conte alert: That should finish the Dodgers rotation, 

The lineup is set, the rotation is set and probably so is the bullpen.

The lineup will be very good, the rotation potentially superb, the defense much improved. But without a big-time addition. 

But hey, now Dilbeck says the Dodgers may not be done. He said five separate times the Dodgers were done, but now decides he may be wrong. Well, not wrong. Only the Geek Squad is wrong. Steve is just playing both sides so as not to take any chances. He wants to be negative about Friedman's current moves because of his dislike for Friedman, while also keeping the door open to Friedman making another move so as not to look incorrect or too quick to judge.

That rotation is pretty fragile – Kershaw, Greinke and Ryu were all sidelined by injury last season – so some kind of swing man may yet be coming. Certainly, there’s no way he’s going to count on this starting five being healthy all season.

The rotation is set!...except it's not. Dilbeck will judge Friedman based on the rotation being set, mostly because that makes it easier to judge him negatively.

But it doesn’t appear it will be a Scherzer. Not someone to get the heart racing.

A heart racing doesn't lead to World Series titles. It's important to know this.

I know, you just sort of sigh. Apparently dreams of spending big were left to a time past.

(Sigh) Big spending worked so well last year in helping the Dodgers win a playoff series.

Dilbeck now wonders if Brandon McCarthy is just another Jason Schmidt and makes an incredibly stupid comment about free agency and why teams spend on free agents.

And so now it’s time to ask: Is Brandon McCarthy really worth $48 million for four years?

Eh, maybe not. Maybe. Who really knows? Ask again in four years. He's a starting pitcher in a league where starting pitchers are at a premium.

McCarthy is a nice enough pitcher. Certainly a solid No. 5. Still with some upside. But a $48-million pitcher at four years for a guy with chronic shoulder problems?

Welcome to the MLB market for pitchers. Besides, Dilbeck wants the Dodgers to spend money so as not to act like a small market team and that's what they are doing. 

If you examine the traditional baseball statistics on McCarthy, this deal makes about as much sense and Vin Scully signing with the Padres.

(The sound of crickets chirping)

At no point in the 31-year-old’s career has he posted particularly impressive numbers.

Other than in 2011 and 2012 or with the Yankees in 2014. Those two and a half years he had an ERA below 3.40 and very impressive xFIP. Starting pitchers have gotten more money than $48 million in free agency based on two and a half good years of pitching.

He’s struck out 6.3 batters per nine innings, with a nice 1.29 WHIP. And since he’s battled those lingering shoulder problems --- he’s been on the disabled list seven times with a sore shoulder --- only twice in his career has he pitched more than 135 innings.

Now McCarthy's injuries are the reason why he may not end up being worth $48 million over four years. Though again, I have to add that if the Dodgers had a better farm system then they wouldn't have to spend $48 million on the free agent market and could rely on starting pitcher within their system to be the 5th starter. One more reason why Dilbeck's first column I covered here is so out of touch with reality. A healthy farm system means the Dodgers could allocate $48 million at another spot on the roster. No reason to be wedded to stars in the minor league system though, right?

Dodgers General Manager Farhan Zaidi and McCarthy argue a new conditioning program made him stronger, elevating his velocity a couple mph to 93 and enabling him to finally last the duration of a full season. Plus, it’s not like Chase Field is a pitcher’s ballpark.

Clearly the Dodgers believe the way he pitched in New York is further indication his past health issues are behind him.

He's getting older, the injuries may not be behind him. By the way, the great and wonderful Max Scherzer has only pitched 200 innings in his career twice.

“We feel really good about him turning the corner last year and think he has the ability to carry that kind of work load into the future,” Zaidi said.

Can you speak a different language please, because Steve Dilbeck doesn't speak nerd. (Dilbeck high-fives his friends who are all wearing letterman jackets)

At one of the bastions of sabermetrics --- FanGraphs --- the argument was made by Jeff Sullivan that time could prove the Dodgers actually have a bargain in McCarthy because his xFIP is so awesome. Surely you’re familiar with xFIP.




I absolutely promise you the Geek Squad is.

High-five your friends in the letterman jackets again, Steve.

Oh, and guess what? Dilbeck understands xFIP too. That doesn't make him a member of the Geek Squad though, he just wants to know his enemy.

No doubt I will mangle explaining it, but it’s a stat that measures walks, hit batters, strikeouts and home runs (that should have been allowed based on fly balls). And in xFIP, McCarthy totally rocks.

“If you believe in Brandon McCarthy’s xFIP and shoulder strength, the Dodgers just inked a pretty good bargain,” wrote Sullivan. “If you figure he’s likely to return to the DL a handful of times for the old problem he had, he can still be more than worth the money in the innings he manages to throw.”

Starting pitching is expensive, and repeat after me, those teams who don't have a farm system where they can call up a prospect who can fill the role of a 5th starter often have to take a chance on a guy like Brett Anderson or sign a free agent pitcher like Brandon McCarthy. One more very good reason the Dodgers may not want to trade Urias or other minor league starting pitchers who they believe have potential to be part of the rotation in order to acquire a superstar starting pitcher.

So a pitcher who throws extremely well for 20-25 starts is worth more than a mediocre pitcher who starts 30-35 times. Which makes perfect sense.

Not all the time, but whatever. It depends on who is making those 10 starts in place of the pitcher who throws extremely well for 20-25 starts.

Only McCarthy has not been an exceptional pitcher.

Ready for this statement about free agency? Here it comes.

They’re paying less for what he’s done that what they hope he can do. Which makes no sense.

So free agency is NOT about paying for what a pitcher can do? It's about paying for what a pitcher has done? That's the point of free agency to Steve Dilbeck. This explains a hell of a lot. Steve seems to believe a pitcher should be paid in free agency based on what he has done, as sort of a reward by a team who didn't benefit from that free agent's performance but wanted to tell him he did a great job in the past, instead of paying him based on what that pitcher will do in the future. If anyone is looking to unlock the secret on how to overpay for free agents who never live up to their contract, then look no further than this sentence written by Dilbeck. Paying a free agent for what's he done, instead of what he will do in the future is a great way to sign players who aren't worth the money they are being paid in free agency.

And he got four years and $48 million.

And it makes absolute sense for McCarthy to be paid based on what he will do instead of what he has done in the past. It's ridiculous to do free agency any other way.

I'm amazed that Dilbeck thinks the Dodgers should pay for what McCarthy has done in the past and not what he will do in the future.

“Just because of his intelligence and attention to detail and game planning, plus his command,” Zaidi said. “There was not a pitcher during my time there who was better able to execute a game plan than Brandon.”

Now he has to execute it effectively for four years. Has to stay healthy for four years. These are good odds?

Like Dilbeck said, even great pitchers like Greinke and Kershaw were injured this year. So McCarthy may not be healthy all four years, but if he keeps up how he pitched for the Yankees then he will be worth $12 million per year. Plus, this is why having a good farm system is important. If McCarthy does get injured there is another decent pitcher who can take his place for a few starts.

Former Dodgers GM Ned Colletti once signed a sore shouldered pitcher to three years (corrected) and $47 million. Jason Schmidt made 10 starts in two seasons and called it a career.

I don't believe it. From everything I have read, Ned Colletti had never made a mistake as the GM of the Dodgers. This is obviously a lie that Dilbeck is telling.

At least Schmidt had been a three-time All-Star and Cy Young runner-up. There was evidence of greatness. He’d thrown over 135 innings nine different times and 200 innings five times.

Fortunately, the purpose of free agency isn't to pay a pitcher based on his past results, but to pay him based on anticipated future results.

Not so with McCarthy. Their greatest similarity is a risky contract.

(Steve Dilbeck) "Why won't the Dodgers spend some money to shore up their rotation and other needy spots on the roster?"

(Steve Dilbeck) "I can't believe the Dodgers spent money on a pitcher like Brandon McCarthy to shore up their rotation. It's a risky contract for sure. The Dodgers would have been better off spending more money on another pitcher to shore up their rotation, and be sure to trade a few prospects to acquire that pitcher. Then give that pitcher a new contract extension based on how well he pitched in the past for a team that wasn't the Dodgers. That's a whole lot less risky."

Anything to criticize Andrew Friedman I guess.