The All-Star break is here. What is your grade of the Dodgers, thus far? I'll break it down into a few categories and you can fill the rest in:
First Half Review:
1. Starting Pitching
6. Front Office
You can grade each category as a whole, or you can give grades to each individual player, or a mixture of both, however you see fit. Once you do that:
7. Who/what has most surprised you, in a positive way, so far?
8. Who/what has most surprised you, in a bad way, so far?
9. Your non-Kershaw MVP of the first half is:
Second Half Projections:
1. Do you see the front office making significant trades to address the team's biggest needs by 8-1-16? Should they?
2. If so, which player(s) is most likely to be a Dodger?
3. Which Dodger(s) is most likely to be traded?
4. Do the Dodgers make the playoffs? If so, as division winner or Wild Card?
5. Why is everything Kyle's fault?
1. Starting Pitching - A-. This amount of injuries on a lesser club would be a guaranteed below .500 run. Kershaw - A+; Maeda - A- (gotta go deeper in the game); Kazmir B+ (when he is good, he is ace like, when he can't find his change up, might as well be pitching BP, but after a sketchy start he has been a solid three); BMac A+ (just has to slowly work up to 100 pitches per game, his stuff is better than ever and he is making that contract look like a steal); Urias B (command is still an issue and the love of the strikeout has hampered him, but the stuff plays and it looks like the scouts got this one right); Stripling B- (still think he is a serviceable five but for another team, just don't have the belief that he is anything other than a journeyman starter); Stewart B+ (one bad inning doesn't change the fact that this kid is future power arm with massive upside); Ryu - Inc. (I think we rushed him and that the elbow is all smoke and mirrors to get him more time on the farm working on his command);
2. Bullpen - A. Aside from Hatcher this group of pitchers has been very good. I am still a bit down on Kenley over his command and still irritating lack of a second pitch. Hell, even Baez has developed a second pitch. Howell found the groove and Liberatore is our Andrew Miller. I still would not complain if we added an arm to the pen either Will Smith or dare I dream, Chapman.
3. Offense - C. Aside from Seager, Turner and Kendrick's recovery from injury, the offense has been pedestrian. I am not sold on Thompson and AGon is looking real old out there. Neither Grandal nor the craptastic AJ Ellis inspire more than derision. Puig is Andre Ethier inconsistent and Utley is not an everyday player. Toles looks like a keeper and might make it easier to deal Verdugo. Love Pederson's defense, but his bat is made of Swiss cheese and if Toles can handle center it might make Joe a future ex-Dodger. Even if we are in a pennant chase with the Giants, I expect Verdugo, Bellinger and Calhoun (if they are not traded) to see time with the Blue in September.
4. Manager - C+. Pigpen has shown some improvement over Mattingdork in the handling of the pen, but he is way too quick with the hook for the starters and he still can't write up a lineup without including AGon even though the guy is no longer an everyday player. He also seems slow to trust kids like Taylor, Toles and even Thompson. I am hoping he is learning on the job because as of today, he doesn't inspire me with confidence.
5. Coaches - B-. The same problem as before, getting through to the hardheads on this team. Puig, AGon and even Grandal look like they are uncoachable at this point and Pederson has the skills to be a good hitter, but is still enamored by the long ball. On the plus side, we are running the bases better and the defensive yips of April seem to be going away. Honeycutt and Bard have done a great job cobbling a stellar pen from guys like Blanton, Baez and JP Howell. Woodward isn't bad at third but overly cautious. Lombard seems to be better than Lopes, but we only have one stellar baserunner and that is Toles and I think we are wasting him batting him seventh or eighth in the order. That is on Pigpen though.
6. Front Office - A-. The farm system is as strong as it has ever been and because of that, we haven't had to make stupid or ill-advised moves to keep within shouting distance of the Giants. Adding Blanton, Thompson, Toles and finding gems like Liberatore, Stewart and Taylor are outside the envelope moves. The fact that they are slow to address the offense is puzzling, but they haven't hampered us with bad contracts (Kazmir and Maeda's deals are steals despite the outcry from idiots like Plunkett and Plaschke).
Second Half - 1. I see us not waiting for the doctor's report on Kershaw and getting an ace. I think we are in on Sale, Archer and I would not be shocked if we are also going hard after guys like Gray (although, I wonder if he is worth the effort), Quintana and Moore. I don't know if we will go as hard for a bat, but I think that Friedman has a chubby for Longoria and if the Rays are willing to tear it down, it might make sense to get in on the bidding.
2. Who we acquire - What I want and what I think we will get are two different things. I see us adding a pen arm (Smith, Colome or even Chapman), an ace like starter (Archer or Sale) and a bat (Lucroy would be nice, but I am thinking that someone like Longoria is a more likely target).
3. Who we trade - Puig is gone, no ifs about it. He is going to be playing in Tampa or Chicago on August 2. JDL, Barnes, Verdugo and Baez could all be elsewhere and I think we might even listen on Alvarez, Holmes and Stewart if that is the cost of getting a middle of the order bat and an ace.
4. I think we pass the Giants. Bochy has zero pen and the latest reports on Pence and Panik are not good. Bochy will burn out his starters and the lack of a strong farm system will make them overpay for marginal improvements. I figure they will overpay for Dave Robertson and Melvin Upton and it will be for naught. They may even take a run at Todd Frazier because I don't think Duffy is going to make that big of a difference when he gets back. I am betting that Arroyo, Beede and Fox are no longer in the Giant farm system by August 2.
5. If we win, then Kyle is blameless. We come up short, sure it is all Kyle's fault. I got a feeling that Kyle is not getting any blame this year. Call it intuition or just ignorant bliss, but I think we get to the series this year.