May 6, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson (31) is congratulated by teammates after hitting a home run during the eighth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Ehsan Kassim: How has the transition from Ned Colletti to Andrew Friedman/Farhan Zaidi gone for the Dodgers? What has your impression of their first few months with them in the first few months?
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Scott Andes: The transition from the old school snake boot wearing Colletti, to the new school sabermetric minded Friedman/Zaidi has been pretty smooth. It’s been a bit strange though. I mean, Colletti was the GM for so long, and we all very used to how he does things. We knew almost exactly what kind of moves he would make almost before he made them. It’s a whole new world now with Friedman/Zaidi. The new brain trust does things differently. They believe in defensive shifts, advanced metrics, and have moved around the final roster spot like a queen on a chess board.
These guys are very smart, and very savvy. They’ve committed to rebuilding the farm system, and they’ve built a very strong club this year.
EK: Dee Gordon is off to a hot start with the Marlins. How much do you guys miss him, or do you prefer Howie Kendrick?
SA: I can only speak for myself, but I prefer Kendrick to be honest. I think he’s just an all around better player. He hits, hits for power, drives in runs, and plays solid defense.
No disrespect to Gordon. He’s a good ball player, and talented, and yes sometimes we do miss him. However I’ve always felt that he was a one-dimensional player, that had trouble making contact. And he’s not going to hit .430 all season. He’s basically a slap singles hitter with no power, and below average defense. He doesn’t get on base either.
The Dodgers wanted him to work on drawing more walks and getting on base more often because he was the lead-off hitter. Gordon didn’t really like hearing that, and things just didn’t work out. When you only walk 31 times, and strike out 120 times in over 500 plate appearances, you won’t get on base much. Remember, you can’t steal first base, no matter how well you run the bases.
EK: Alexander Guerrero went from a disappointment to an overnight sensation in no time. How has he done this and can he maintain his hot start? Does he have a position for himself?
SA: Guerrero was never a disappointment, management just never gave him a chance last year to prove himself. He only had like 10 at-bats last year. Stacie and I have always felt that Guerrero was not only major league caliber, but was a tremendously talented player. We both saw him for ourselves during spring training last year, and this year, Stacie actually posted videos of him handling third base, and hitting bombs during batting practice.
Last year I actually wanted him to be the second baseman over Gordon, and if he had been, then he wouldn’t have had his ear bitten off by Miguel Olivo, (Yes that was a thing that actually happened) and who knows how further the Dodgers would have gotten had he been the second baseman, and not Gordon or at least been on the roster.
Guerrero has a great short powerful stroke, and can play multiple positions (3B, LF, 2B, SS)
Unfortunately he does not have a position right now. So the Dodgers have used him off the bench, and he fills in at 3B when Uribe needs a day off. He also has played some left field with the injury to Crawford. There will be opportunities for him to play throughout the season because guys are going to get hurt. At the least he’ll be able to keep pinch-hitting in the late innings.
SA: Well the club has always been worried about Joc’s high strikeout rates. But they feel as do most of us that those will decrease with time. I think he can maintain, especially since he is very adept at working counts and drawing walks. He just swings big on every pitch.
As for Seager and Urias, both are off to hot starts as well in the minors. The Dodgers recently promoted Seager from the Texas League Tulsa Double-A club, to the triple-A Oklahoma City team. He had gotten off to a blazing hot start with Tulsa, hitting .375 with five home runs. He’s also been playing some third base as well, but only because the Dodgers want him to be a well rounded player, and able to learn a second position. Seager is the shortstop of the future, and Mattingly compared him to a young Cal Ripken Jr.
Urias is currently at Tulsa, and putting up great strikeout to walk numbers. He’s got a very bright future ahead. I don’t see either of them up at all until rosters expand in September. The Dodgers have a very deep club this year, and they don’t want to rush any of their two organizational prospects.
EK: Clayton Kershaw is off to a slow start. What has the issue for him been this season and how can he improve?
SA: I just recently wrote a post about this. Kershaw is off to a slow start, but I think a lot of it can be attributed to poor pitch selection, not enough of his off-speed pitches, and the National League recognizing his pitch patterns, and adjusting to him. Kershaw will need to make an adjustment himself. The scouting reports say that Kershaw throws a lot of first pitch fastballs, and to get to him, the reports recommend hitting his first pitch, So guys are coming up first pitch swinging on him more than we’ve ever seen before. Mix that in with his off-speed pitches not being what they normally are, and he’s been pressing a bit. He also has an ERA two runs per start higher with AJ Ellis behind the plate than Yasmani Grandal.
I think the main thing is that Kershaw needs to adjust, and evolve. He can;t be perfect and pitch shutouts every game. He;s going to give up some runs at some point. He’s had four consecutive dominant seasons in a row. He’s bound to have a down season at some point. He’s human. He is Clayton Kershaw, and he will be fine.
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