Is Too Much Eagerness a Bad Thing?

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Is too much eagerness a bad thing? It is if you’re a parent or guardian and Christmas is coming and you have a small child in your household. And it can be for a baseball team too, one that has tasted the World Series twice in the last two years and have yet to win that ring.

There have been a few injuries to start camp, and one can infer that they are from too much eagerness. To get the year going, to prove something to the fan base, the baseball world at large, to the players themselves.

I wrote previously about what the Dodgers now know having gone through this twice before, but apparently some of them are not listening to small time bloggers like me.

As the latest player to rejoin the Dodgers after having been away for years, Russell Martin is delighted to be back in camp. So much so that he over extended himself in the batting cage, and had to be sidelined due to back soreness.

Martin came into camp eager to prove that he still has the skills and body to play behind the plate often and still contribute at the bat. He’s played in three games so far, and has two hits in eight at bats, one of which was a double. All ‘it’s only spring training’ caveats aside, I think we’d all be happy with that level of production from Martin through the year – a .250 batting average with some timely RBI and extra base hits.

Martin was tentatively slated to DH today against the Indians, but this morning it was reported that he is healing more slowly than hoped, and he is being pushed back to the weekend to resume baseball activities.

Clayton Kershaw may feel he is the biggest name on the team with something to prove, as he has seen his velocity decline over the last season or two. It seems he worked too hard over the winter to regain some of that, and as such, sidelined himself. He has thrown on consecutive days and is slated to throw again today, with some small improvements each time.

Today, however, manager Dave Roberts conceded for the first time that Kershaw may in fact miss being the Opening Day starter. And as huge a fan as I am of Kershaw, that’s okay. Opening Day starter is an honor Kershaw has seen time and time again, but it’s just ceremonial. There is a lot of discussion of when Walker Buehler will overtake Clayton as the ace of the team, and I’m sure he will sooner rather than later. But this team needs all of their pitchers healthy at the end of the season, not necessarily the beginning.

The Dodgers rotation without Clayton would be Buehler, Rich Hill, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Kenta Maeda and probably Julio Urías. That is still an excellent rotation that can handle duties for as long as Kershaw needs to rest and get himself back to full strength.

There have been some other slight issues, such as Cody Bellinger having to take a rest due to his back, but he looked great at the plate yesterday, going 3-3. The Dodgers are imposing limits on Buehler, hoping to rein him in a bit so he doesn’t have too much of a work load so soon. But all in all, the team looks good. And more importantly, able to handle a slow-starting Kershaw, and they should handle him with kid gloves. Opening Day isn’t important. The last day of the season is.

 

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11 thoughts on “Is Too Much Eagerness a Bad Thing?

  1. Don’t know that it is bad, but it can set you back some. Kershaw has always been like that. He rushed back from his injury a couple of years ago. Martin is just excited to be back with LA> He should be fine.

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  2. Bear, I had a feeling that you wouldn’t like my defense of the modern day hitter but I still say it’s much more difficult today especially in the later innings. Hitters are facing much better pitching today late in games rather than a tiring starter or inferior bullpen guy. Tho you made a good point about travel

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    1. I get your point Rich, and I agree in principle. There weren’t a lot of closers throwing the heat we see now, but they weren’t really needed back then. Starters finished. Take a look at complete games back then. Koufax completed 27 in back to back years. Drysdale started 42 in ‘65, competed 20 of them. Marichal, Gibson…. several others….starters back then went a lot more innings than they do today. And, the mound was higher then. Also, and this is a bigger deal than most think, the strike zone was much larger then. Even when I was playing in high school umps often called the high strike at the arm pits. It’s at the navel now. I’d love to hit against a ML strike zone. It’s about the size of a box of Cheerios.

      Baseball has done a lot of things to see that offense isn’t thwarted. Runs are being scored at a higher rate now than in ‘65. That figure has been somewhat consistent for a decade – with a low of 4.07 in ‘14 to a high of 4.65 in ‘08 and again in ‘17. The last time it was over 5 was 2000.

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  3. I can’t believe they still haven’t made Kershaw get an MRI yet. Someone needs to be fired for not insisting on knowing exactly what the problem is.

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    1. If it were me, I’d want to know. I’d get an independent exam and keep the results to myself. If I were the boss, it would have been done already.

      Kershaw might be a 30 year old Rich Hill – 130 innings of 2 WAR. We all hope not of course. $31 million is a lot to pay for a mid rotation pitcher.

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  4. Urias was hitting 98 on the gun today. Somebody needs to reel the youngster in a bit. I know he’s trying to force his way into the opening day rotation but it’s a long season and he’s still coming off major shoulder surgery. That being said, 98 is impressive considering his fastball before he got hurt usually ran 93-94.

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  5. Maybe Kersh should have surgery to get his velocity back. Look what’s its done for Buehler and Urias. Who are these surgeons?

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  6. Well one thing i can say for Ol Andy, he does like to sign players I have never heard of. They signed another RH pitcher to a minor league deal. Kuechel is still out there but i doubt he would take a 1 year deal. Little mystery for me as when i was looking on the computer and following the play by play, Toles was listed among the reserves. But he is not even in camp. Had to perform some emergency first aid yesterday, one of the residents here got his hand caught in the elevator door and tore some large pieces of skin off. That military first aid stuff comes in pretty handy.

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  7. Ok, the pitcher Andy signed is Michael Bowden. 32 year old righty who pitched in Korea last year. Has not been in the majors since 2013 with the Cubs. 3-5 career record. Just the basics here folks. Looks like AAA fodder to me. Was released by the Twins in 2015.

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