As we inch ever closer to the start of spring training and wait to see what the Dodgers‘ front office will do, I thought I’d take an early look at what storylines will be worth watching in the 2019 season.
Catcher—I think, first and foremost, what’s in most fans’ minds is who besides Austin Barnes will be behind the plate. Unless the Dodgers somehow pull off a stunner of a deal with the Marlins, it won’t be J.T. Realmuto. It could be Francisco Cervelli, perhaps, or it could just be Barnes and Rocky Gale. Or, it could be Barnes and Gale until the trade deadline. A surprise catcher may be acquired. Who knows?
Pitching—There are a couple of storylines here. Will the starting rotation be able to maintain its health throughout the year? This problem has plagued the Dodgers in every season in recent memory, especially in the case of Clayton Kershaw.
Speaking of Kershaw, will this be his last season as Ace of the team? Or will Walker Buehler end up taking over that mantle sooner rather than later? Also, how will Kershaw deal with all the issues he’s had in the past few years—his back, his declining fastball, and his postseason issues?
With Alex Wood now a starting pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds, the rotation is Kershaw, Buehler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Rich Hill, and Kenta Maeda, in some order. Where, if anywhere, does Julio Urias fit into that rotation? Probably starting the year in Oklahoma City, as Dennis highlighted here, working those innings back up. But it will be fun to watch the young pitcher finally have a full, healthy season.
And, as I’m hesitant to put this out into the world, Kenley Jansen‘s health must always be something to keep an eye on. I, for one, am glad that Joe Kelly will be there who help in case he has some setbacks.
Second base—The last free agent that the Dodgers were said to be looking at, DJ LeMehieu, reportedly is signing the New York Yankees. But that’s not really a loss—Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez will handle the time at the keystone just fine. The Dodgers definitely have bigger worries.
The Return of Old Friends—Dodger fans have lost Matt Kemp before, and he will he warmly greeted, especially after his comeback year last season. Yasmani Grandal, who just signed with the Milwaukee Brewers, may not be greeted so warmly, as most fresh in Dodger fans’ minds is the many passed balls in the postseason. But Yasiel Puig was a most beloved member of the Dodgers, and will be greeted with the most enthusiasm. And I have no doubt he’ll pop off some homers in his return to Dodger Stadium.
The front office has a plan, and while they don’t need to expose it to the fan base and the world, fans are getting restless with the lack of moves. Every other contender has made upgrades to make themselves serious contenders, and the Dodgers seem content to stand pat. While they are good enough to win the NL West, are they good enough to win it all? That is the most interesting thing of all to watch.
24 thoughts on “4 Storylines to Consider as the 2019 Season Approaches”
Well Andy, you referred to a possible surprise catcher. That surprise turns out to be old friend Russell Martin.
I know. I just said on Twitter I should’ve waited to write something 😂
Freidman never ceases to go against the grain. This effectively gets them out of the Realmuto sweepstakes. They have one roster spot left, but as was pointed out, they have at least 3 guys who are borderline release candidates anyway. Maybe, because the deadline is fast approaching, Ol Andy, concentrating on his arbitration cases. Naw, he would not do that.
Barnes should be and better be the starter over Martin.
The player with the saddest face in Dodgerland today is probably Barnes. Then again, this just means more platooning.
Rosenthal says we’re still in on Realmuto
Makes sense only if they trade a catcher to the Marlins. But the Marlins still want Bellinger and that is not happening, and Realmuto does bupkis to help them with hitting against lefty’s. Barnes splits vs lefty’s was a lot better than JT’s.
Well at least they did not spend a lot of money on old Russell. Wonder if he gets his #55 back or have they retired that for old Orel yet? LeMahieu off the market to the Yankees, who seem to be reuniting old Rockies with Tulo there. Ok, they get the veteran backstop, so that’s fixed. With the money they saved getting Martin, how about a first class arm for the pen, or maybe they can find an outfielder who can actually hit both types of pitching and hit right handed.
DJ LeMahieu went to the Yankees 2/$24. Unbelievable. Nice going Friedman.
They were not even in the conversation and boom, there it is! Getting together the Old Rockies band there in NY. Prediction, Dodgers will sign Wilmer Flores, former Met sometime in the next few days.
By the end of the year Taylor will put up much bigger numbers than Leblahieu. He’s in decline and won’t be hitting in Colorado any more.
Taylor can’t begin to touch LaMahieu’s glove.
Also Taylor was top 10 is strikeouts last year in all of MLB. It’s not like he’s a huge power hitter either.
One of the prospects going to the Jays is SS Ronnie Brito, the Dodgers #23 prospect. Toronto has eaten close to 50 million in salary, with 38 mil from Tulo and a large portion of the 20 million owed to Russell.
True he’s a better defender but I don’t think he’s a difference maker with his bat out of Colorado.We don’t need him Taylor and Hernandez. We can use that money in other areas. Plus I think Taylor will cut down on his K’s like Joc did and have a big bounce back year.
Your right bear more good examples of bad expensive long term contracts
2nd prospect headed to the Jays is Andrew Sopko. Dodgers better be getting a ton of cash back. This does not excite me one bit. Russell hit .182 last year. combine what Barnes hit and they together come to about .190. But I do expect Barnes to be a lot better than he was with a more consistent role. Russell is a good clubhouse guy though. Hey Rich, how is Russell for a dumpster dive? Friedman went to the bottom of the old trash can this time.
Martin was 10th in hard hit rate last year among catchers and 57th overall. Once RVS gets ahold of him he’ll hit .300. Also, he’s played 3rd, short and left for the Jays so he’ll fit right in here. Could be our starting left fielder by the end of the year.
I agree bear a little”too deep” even for me! I think we gave up too much as well
And wow Jeff that’s pretty optimistic even for me! Who knows maybe he joins the Kemp magical reunion tour!
Someone just tweeted that the last time the Dodgers didn’t employee at least one of Kemp, Ethier or Martin was in 2005.
It’s my opinion that if Taylor focused only on second base he would be outstanding there. He came up as a shortstop. He stole as many as 38 bases in the minors. He hit 11 triples that same year (‘13). He is still under 30. He might be the best second baseman this team has seen in years. But…… the Friedman likes him his utility guys.
Completely agree and he’s certainly a better choice IMO than Harrison or even Marwin G (the utility God) who has, as far as I can see, only had one really good year, and it wasn’t last year. Depending upon what AF does with his outfield, he may need Taylor out there on a semi-regular basis, but I’m hoping that isn’t necessary and they give CT3 the second base job. I expect that his 2019 will look more like 2017 than 2018 on offense.