Tag Archives: Dodgers

America’s Pastime in the Land Down Under

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During the very early morning of this past saturday (or late friday evening), the MLB season kicked off with the first pitch thrown by Arizona’s pitcher, Wade Miley, for the first time in the southern hemisphere. As part of a global expansion marketing campaign, the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers squared off at the Sydney, Australia Cricket grounds for the first matchup of the 2014 season with a 2 game series. The Dodgers swept the D-backs 3-1 and 7-5 respectively. Despite some lackluster comments leading up to the series, Clayton Kershaw was spectacular as usual recording the win with 7 strikeouts and 1 earned run in 6.2 innings pitched. Also, Scott Van Slyke, the 3rd year left fielder for the Dodgers, went 2-3 with a double off the top of the wall in left and a home run over the wall in right. More notably, the young star, Yasiel Puig, ended the first game going 0-5 with 3 strikeouts. He did rally in the second game with three hits but some base running mistakes to go along with it. With concerns over a sore back, Puig is listed as day to day with a potential need for an MRI. With the first pitch being thrown 10,000 miles away and the Red Sox’s opener over a week away, these two games were merely a light appetizer to a 54 course meal (162 games divided by 3 games = 54 series).

Although I typically do not follow the National League, it was interesting to see two of the better teams square off, even if it was only for 2 games. Even with the small sample size, I had a few pretty key takeaways from the Aussie series. The first was that the Dodger’s starting pitching staff exhibited pure domination against Arizona. Kershaw gave up 1 earned run in 6.2 innings and Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched a 5 inning shutout. Collectively that is a 0.79 ERA for the starting staff so far, which is an impressive stat even if it is only through 2 games. The Dodgers also have Zach Greinke coming off of a calf injury after pitching 5 scoreless innings a week ago against the Padres in Spring Training. Greinke has posted three straight seasons with at least 15 wins and a 3.31 ERA over that same timeframe. Their fourth starter is newly acquired Dan Haren, the 33 year old right-handed California native. He was previously an above average starter on the front end of a rotation but has not performed as well in the past few years. Over the course of the last three seasons, he has a 38-37 record with a 3.96 ERA with declining innings pitched each season. Lastly, there is Josh Beckett who is the former Red Sox starter and 2 time World Series champion. Currently, he has struggled statistically with a 7-19 record and 4.76 ERA over the past two seasons. Despite his past successes with the Sox and Marlins, Josh Beckett is currently the most overpaid 5th starter in the MLB.

On the topic of payroll, here is a brief analysis of the Dodgers’ total salaries. With a total payroll of $220 million, they are the highest paying team in the MLB by nearly $20 million to the Yankees (2nd overall) and $80 million to the Red Sox (5th overall). As previously analyzed in my first post, the Dodgers ranked among the worst in the league with a cost per win of $2.4 million and no World Series title to show for it. Their pitching staff alone will make $66 million over the course of this season. This totals more than 5 entire teams, including the Oakland A’s and Tampa Bay Rays. Each of these teams posted the same or more wins than the Dodgers during this past regular season.

https://mteagles.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/a-payroll-recap-of-the-2013-mlb-season/

The other takeaway surrounded the anomaly that is Yasiel Puig. Last season, he had a stretch where he was hitting above .500 for a period of time with acrobatic catches and a cannon arm in right field. He finished the season with a .319 BA, .534 Slugging, and 19 HRs. Needless to say, he could not keep up the astronomical pace that he began his career with but he will be an interesting player to watch over the course of this season as he starts to face the same caliber of pitching over and over.

With the 2014 season officially underway, the hype of this Major League season could not be higher. After a successful campaign in Australia, the MLB teams will look to chase the Red Sox as reigning World Series Champions. The Red Sox/Yankee Rivalry should occur at an even higher magnitude as Jacoby Ellsbury transitioned over to the Dark Side and the Yankees bulked up on free agents this offseason as Derek Jeter will conclude his career this season. Some of the young guns of the Sox will have to step into some major roles this season as Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr appear to have starting roles at SS and RF respectively. Regardless of the outcome, I am looking forward to another season of major league baseball.

A Payroll Recap of the 2013 MLB Season

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The 2013 season turned out to be a drastic turnaround and fairy tale ending for the World Champion Red Sox. After a 69-93 record and finishing last in the AL east in 2012, former pitching coach John Farrell lead the team to its third post season title in the last 10 years. Per the usual insane postseason performance from David Ortiz hitting .353 with 5 HRs and 13 RBIs and some inspirational words concerning the Marathon tragedy the Red Sox were back on the map as a serious contender in Major League Baseball.

Following some of the logic written in Michael Lewis’ “Moneyball,” here is an analysis of the regular season when compared to payroll and wins. No surprise to see the A’s ranking amongst the best in the cost per win category after reading the depiction of Billy Beane’s philosophy during the early 2000s.

Payroll Wins Cost per Win
Tampa Bay Rays $57,505,272 92 $625,057.30
Oakland Athletics $60,372,500 96 $628,880.21
Washington Nationals $114,194,270 86 $1,327,840.35
Boston Red Sox $140,657,500 97 $1,450,077.32
Philadelphia Phillies $170,760,689 73 $2,339,187.52
New York Yankees $203,445,586 85 $2,393,477.48
Los Angeles Dodgers $220,395,196 92 $2,395,599.96

Here are a few surprises that I noticed when compiling this list. First, the Dodgers ranked among the worst in the league in this cost per win category despite having a successful regular season with 92 wins and winning the NL West by 11 games. However, they had the highest payroll in the MLB by nearly $17 million above the Yankees (more to come on them later). Much of this payroll spike came from a blockbuster deal in August of 2012 that sent Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers from the Red Sox after their abysmal finish to end the 2012 season. As a Sox fan, I was a little discouraged to see Gonzalez sent away after such a good year statistically. Now I am eating my words naturally but now I am beginning to question what the Dodger’s GM was thinking at the time.

First, you have Josh Beckett a clear veteran on the pitching staff and 2 time World Series champion and WS MVP with the Marlins in 2003. That being said, at the time of the deal, he is approaching the end of his prime and had a 5.23 ERA with Boston up until that point. Not to mention, his contract is quite the price to pay because of his veteran status. I do not fault the idea of bringing a senior starting pitcher to a championship contender but I do question the $17 million they paid him in 2013 only to make 8 starts on the season.

Then there’s Carl Crawford. From 2005 to 2010 with the Rays, he hit above .300 in all but one season with 40+ stolen bases most years and 100+ runs twice over that span. But here comes the catch. After being acquired by the Red Sox, he hit .255 and had an OBP of .289, both career lows. In addition, he battled an injury all of the 2012 season. Even with the bounce back during 2013, I question the $20 million he was paid after some pretty horrendous results the previous two season.

Finally, Adrian Gonzalez who had to have been the only reason the Dodgers even considered this deal. Great first baseman at the plate and in the field coming off of 6 straight seasons of either 100+ RBIs, BA of .300+ or BOTH! Fun fact is that I saw him play in AA when he was with the Rangers and I still have the splintered Louisville Slugger he gave me after the game. But in the context of this trade, he was really the only upside the Dodgers had and while they had a successful regular season, credit the World Series hardware to the Red Sox.

Naturally since I am a diehard Sox fan, here comes the expected gloating in the face of Yankee fans. A $200 million payroll, steroid-using third baseman, and a new stadium with a shortened right centerfield cannot buy you a championship. But all rivalries aside, it was a dismal season for the Bronx bombers in 2013. A third place finish in the AL East (tie with Baltimore actually), 85-77 record, and a negative run differential are all some pretty troubling signs for the Evil Empire. That being said, GM Brian Cashman has spent no time sitting around and has acquired CF Jacoby Ellsbury, C Brian McCann, and Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka. The 2014 season is shaping up to be one of the best rivalries between the Sox and Yanks.

Lastly, here’s some praise for small budget teams’ success in the regular season. I will stick to the Rays since it is no new phenomenon that the A’s continue to compete with the big boys on a tight budget (credit to Billy Beane once again). First, let’s focus on Evan Longoria easily one of the best third baseman in the MLB and someone who values their organization over their paycheck (Robinson Cano have fun in Seattle). Longoria agreed to a contract extension for six years with the Rays for much less than he could have received on the open market. Through 6 seasons he has an OBP of .357 and 544 RBIs. However, he is one of the best defensive corner infielders in baseball and makes highlight reel plays appear to be routine. Along with David Price leading the pitching rotation and Ben Zobrist as one of the best offensive second basemen, the AL East should continue to be one of the most competitive divisions in the MLB next season.

~MTE