Emailbag: Do The Dodgers Have More Good Players Than They Know What To Do With?

Will Smith. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Yes, the Dodgers have more good players than they know what to do with. Although after losing via walkoff home runs by Matt Beaty, Alex Verdugo and Will Smith Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Chavez Ravine, I imagine the Rockies have a suggestion or two.

Los Angeles swept Colorado out of town over the weekend, leaving the Rox discouraged, more than a little shell-shocked, three games over .500 at 40-37 and a whopping 13 games buried in second place. The Dodgers are in first place, don't ya know. They've won six straight to boast a 54-25 record, which if my arithmetic is correct, puts them 29 games over the break-even mark.

I'd call what we're witnessing in 2019 (and the collection of talent) an embarrassment of riches, except I can't think of anything to be embarrassed about. With the club's depth — who goes, who stays, especially — top of mind for a number of Forbes' baseball savvy readers, here we go with Dodgers Emailbag # 27 in a four-years-running series. That’s 27 for Verdugo, Matt Kemp, Kevin Brown, and last but not least, Willie Crawford.

Answer: Oh, yes you can. Well, the Dodgers can, and they've made a practice of it, shipping Smith to Oklahoma City the minute Austin Barnes returned from a groin injury June 6, while optioning, recalling, placing Beaty on the injured list and reactivating him again six times since April.

The team's first position player decision should come when David Freese comes back from knee tendinitis, assuming it's a quick turnaround of 10 days or so. We can't predict the future -- and for all we know Smith will have hit 10 game-winning homers during the 10 days -- but if not, all things being equal, Smith could be the odd man out. Or Kyle Garlick could be. Or there could be another injury, real or phantomed.

Seager and Pollock are weeks away. Perhaps shortly after the All-Star Game, by which time a trade or two may have been consummated. There are all kinds of variables that could impact the roster, and the Dodgers have all sorts of options. More than any team in baseball in fact. We've tackled the topic before, most recently in a Dodgers Emailbag column three weeks ago, and we're liable to again sooner rather than later. The Dodgers are deep. They have deep depth; Lloyd-Bridges-don-'t-get-the-bends-depth.

Answer: Whoa, pardner! Let's see about the division first. Nah, who are we kidding? The Dodgers are going to win the National League West by 20 games. It is a little early to start talking about playoff rosters, however.

Answer: Barnes' ceiling seems to have been his 2017 season, during which he hit .289/408/.486 in 102 games and 218 at bats. He's struggled for the past year and half, hitting .209/.329/.290 and .220/.318/.373 in 2018 and 2019, respectively, and it remains to be seen whether that's the best he can do.

Smith certainly looks like a keeper, with his .318/.375/.773 (including two walkoff homers) in 22 at bats -- and I've done nothing but call for his being on the big club for weeks, here and here, to name two times -- but we're going to have to wait to see how things play out. Twenty-two at bats is a pretty small sample size. In the meantime, it makes sense for Smith to get at least as much time behind the plate as Barnes.

Vanderbilt's Jordan Sheffield delivers a pitch during the third inning against Mississippi in a Southeastern Conference NCAA college baseball tournament game Thursday, May 26, 2016, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

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Answer: In his first attempt as a relief pitcher after three rather unspectacular seasons starting, Sheffield has found his niche. In a half season split between High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa, the right-hander has posted a 1.74 ERA, an 0.871 WHIP, with 47 strikeouts in 31 innings and 10 saves. He's actually been better since the promotion, versus AA-Texas League opponents: 0.66, 0.732, 21 in 13 2/3 and three.

While it's happened before, a jump across three levels to the majors is a bit of a stretch for this particular player. But I'm sure the club is pleased with Sheffield's progress.

Answer: While I can't say that anything's changed for the Dodgers in the week since that column, my perspective has changed a little. And the more I think about it, the more I see little reason for clubs like Cleveland (with Brad Hand), San Diego (Kirby Yates) and to a lesser extent, Cincinnati (Raisel Iglesias) and Pittsburgh (Felipe Vazquez) to trade their valuable relievers. Maybe they will, but best not to hold out for whichever one of these men you covet most.

San Francisco, however, is not going to compete in 2020, so Will Smith should be dealt. He will be dealt. Once Arizona decides whether to buy or sell, they'll almost certainly move free-agent-to-be Greg Holland. The Tigers will get whatever they can for Shane Greene.

So the best I can tell you is this: stay tuned. A trade is coming.

Answer: Not really. Without a day off prior to the All-Star Game, the team scheduled a bullpen game just the other day to give everyone an extra day of rest, beating Madison Bumgarner and the Giants in process. We'll see this kind of thing employed again during the summer, I'm quite sure.

Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kenta Maeda have all spent time on the injured list -- and Rich Hill is there now -- may again, and are not in danger of being overworked. Julio Urias and Ross Stripling have made 11 starts between them and are going to make more going forward. In place of Hill beginning this week, and to spell whoever needs it -- Walker Buehler, for one -- the rest of the way. Triple-A hurler Tony Gonsolin is going to get his shot at some point, and there's a rumor going around right now that he's about to be recalled. Depth, remember. Deep depth.

Answer: Sure, but this is one of the best defensive teams in baseball we're talking about here. And there is real value is deploying men around the diamond, especially when you have guys who can do it successfully. Cody Bellinger, Kiké Hernandez and Chris Taylor are three examples. They're great everywhere they play.

Max Muncy is a work in progress, but that would be the case regardless of position. I imagine that Joc Pederson -- who's already made a couple of excellent plays on the infield -- is being used at first base because he is more comfortable there than Beaty.

Nothing we're seeing here is permanent. The Dodgers have a big lead. They can afford to try some things that may help them down the line.

Answer: Nope. Not on his life. Both Kiké and Taylor are better defensive shortstops than Seager.

Answer: It's well past time. A fan was killed after being hit by a foul ball last year. That should have been more than enough motivation. There was a very emotional incident with a child and an Albert Almora foul ball in Houston May 30, and a young woman was struck by a Cody Bellinger foul ball yesterday at Dodger Stadium.

Also in yesterday's game, a fan ran onto the field to hug Bellinger before being tackled and removed by security. The solution is obvious: Put the pole-to-pole netting in place as fast as possible, keep the customers safe in their seats, and keep the players safe from fans running onto the field. Money can't possibly be the issue, and you simply must put fan safety above the wishes of a few odd-liners complaining about the view; grinches all.

Answer: Your guess is as good as mine.

Answer: When Shohei Ohtani recovers from Tommy John surgery, shows he can play a position on a daily basis and becomes a free agent in 2024. At the earliest.

And remember, glove conquers all.

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Will Smith. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Yes, the Dodgers have more good players than they know what to do with. Although after losing via walkoff home runs by Matt Beaty, Alex Verdugo and Will Smith Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Chavez Ravine, I imagine the Rockies have a suggestion or two.

Los Angeles swept Colorado out of town over the weekend, leaving the Rox discouraged, more than a little shell-shocked, three games over .500 at 40-37 and a whopping 13 games buried in second place. The Dodgers are in first place, don't ya know. They've won six straight to boast a 54-25 record, which if my arithmetic is correct, puts them 29 games over the break-even mark.

I'd call what we're witnessing in 2019 (and the collection of talent) an embarrassment of riches, except I can't think of anything to be embarrassed about. With the club's depth — who goes, who stays, especially — top of mind for a number of Forbes' baseball savvy readers, here we go with Dodgers Emailbag # 27 in a four-years-running series. That’s 27 for Verdugo, Matt Kemp, Kevin Brown, and last but not least, Willie Crawford.

Answer: Oh, yes you can. Well, the Dodgers can, and they've made a practice of it, shipping Smith to Oklahoma City the minute Austin Barnes returned from a groin injury June 6, while optioning, recalling, placing Beaty on the injured list and reactivating him again six times since April.

The team's first position player decision should come when David Freese comes back from knee tendinitis, assuming it's a quick turnaround of 10 days or so. We can't predict the future -- and for all we know Smith will have hit 10 game-winning homers during the 10 days -- but if not, all things being equal, Smith could be the odd man out. Or Kyle Garlick could be. Or there could be another injury, real or phantomed.

Seager and Pollock are weeks away. Perhaps shortly after the All-Star Game, by which time a trade or two may have been consummated. There are all kinds of variables that could impact the roster, and the Dodgers have all sorts of options. More than any team in baseball in fact. We've tackled the topic before, most recently in a Dodgers Emailbag column three weeks ago, and we're liable to again sooner rather than later. The Dodgers are deep. They have deep depth; Lloyd-Bridges-don-'t-get-the-bends-depth.

Answer: Whoa, pardner! Let's see about the division first. Nah, who are we kidding? The Dodgers are going to win the National League West by 20 games. It is a little early to start talking about playoff rosters, however.

Answer: Barnes' ceiling seems to have been his 2017 season, during which he hit .289/408/.486 in 102 games and 218 at bats. He's struggled for the past year and half, hitting .209/.329/.290 and .220/.318/.373 in 2018 and 2019, respectively, and it remains to be seen whether that's the best he can do.

Smith certainly looks like a keeper, with his .318/.375/.773 (including two walkoff homers) in 22 at bats -- and I've done nothing but call for his being on the big club for weeks, here and here, to name two times -- but we're going to have to wait to see how things play out. Twenty-two at bats is a pretty small sample size. In the meantime, it makes sense for Smith to get at least as much time behind the plate as Barnes.

Vanderbilt's Jordan Sheffield delivers a pitch during the third inning against Mississippi in a Southeastern Conference NCAA college baseball tournament game Thursday, May 26, 2016, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Answer: In his first attempt as a relief pitcher after three rather unspectacular seasons starting, Sheffield has found his niche. In a half season split between High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa, the right-hander has posted a 1.74 ERA, an 0.871 WHIP, with 47 strikeouts in 31 innings and 10 saves. He's actually been better since the promotion, versus AA-Texas League opponents: 0.66, 0.732, 21 in 13 2/3 and three.

While it's happened before, a jump across three levels to the majors is a bit of a stretch for this particular player. But I'm sure the club is pleased with Sheffield's progress.

Answer: While I can't say that anything's changed for the Dodgers in the week since that column, my perspective has changed a little. And the more I think about it, the more I see little reason for clubs like Cleveland (with Brad Hand), San Diego (Kirby Yates) and to a lesser extent, Cincinnati (Raisel Iglesias) and Pittsburgh (Felipe Vazquez) to trade their valuable relievers. Maybe they will, but best not to hold out for whichever one of these men you covet most.

San Francisco, however, is not going to compete in 2020, so Will Smith should be dealt. He will be dealt. Once Arizona decides whether to buy or sell, they'll almost certainly move free-agent-to-be Greg Holland. The Tigers will get whatever they can for Shane Greene.

So the best I can tell you is this: stay tuned. A trade is coming.

Answer: Not really. Without a day off prior to the All-Star Game, the team scheduled a bullpen game just the other day to give everyone an extra day of rest, beating Madison Bumgarner and the Giants in process. We'll see this kind of thing employed again during the summer, I'm quite sure.

Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kenta Maeda have all spent time on the injured list -- and Rich Hill is there now -- may again, and are not in danger of being overworked. Julio Urias and Ross Stripling have made 11 starts between them and are going to make more going forward. In place of Hill beginning this week, and to spell whoever needs it -- Walker Buehler, for one -- the rest of the way. Triple-A hurler Tony Gonsolin is going to get his shot at some point, and there's a rumor going around right now that he's about to be recalled. Depth, remember. Deep depth.

Answer: Sure, but this is one of the best defensive teams in baseball we're talking about here. And there is real value is deploying men around the diamond, especially when you have guys who can do it successfully. Cody Bellinger, Kiké Hernandez and Chris Taylor are three examples. They're great everywhere they play.

Max Muncy is a work in progress, but that would be the case regardless of position. I imagine that Joc Pederson -- who's already made a couple of excellent plays on the infield -- is being used at first base because he is more comfortable there than Beaty.

Nothing we're seeing here is permanent. The Dodgers have a big lead. They can afford to try some things that may help them down the line.

Answer: Nope. Not on his life. Both Kiké and Taylor are better defensive shortstops than Seager.

Answer: It's well past time. A fan was killed after being hit by a foul ball last year. That should have been more than enough motivation. There was a very emotional incident with a child and an Albert Almora foul ball in Houston May 30, and a young woman was struck by a Cody Bellinger foul ball yesterday at Dodger Stadium.

Also in yesterday's game, a fan ran onto the field to hug Bellinger before being tackled and removed by security. The solution is obvious: Put the pole-to-pole netting in place as fast as possible, keep the customers safe in their seats, and keep the players safe from fans running onto the field. Money can't possibly be the issue, and you simply must put fan safety above the wishes of a few odd-liners complaining about the view; grinches all.

Answer: Your guess is as good as mine.

Answer: When Shohei Ohtani recovers from Tommy John surgery, shows he can play a position on a daily basis and becomes a free agent in 2024. At the earliest.

And remember, glove conquers all.

Follow me on Twitter.

I'm a Los Angeles-based news and sports writer with a focus on baseball. Writing credits include Rolling Stone, Los Angeles Times, Westways, Guardian, Orange County Regi...