Pull up a chair and come sit down at our Lasorda’s Lair roundtable discussion. This new column will feature a different discussion topic each time which our writing staff will have the opportunity to address individually. We also would like for you to participate by answering the roundtable question in the comments below.
Question: What do the Dodgers do with Brandon League?
Lucas Talbot, Staff Writer- As much as I know a lot of Dodgers fans hate Brandon League, I think the Dodgers should keep him because I believe he can turn it around. I was at the Dodgers game on Friday night and got to see League in action. By looking at his pitching location from behind home plate, it was on target. He threw a few scoreless innings that night. As much as League struggles, he does have valuable experience as a reliever and knows what it takes to pitch in the major leagues. I think League has what it takes to turn it around. Dodgers fans should not focus on the past. That to me, shows that Dodgers fans are staying in the past when it comes to League pitching. League had one bad year so what? Juan Uribe had not one, but TWO bad years. The problem with Uribe was injuries. Uribe was never fully healthy those two years. The Dodgers fans wanted him out. But that didn’t stop Uribe. He was determined to come into camp in his last year of the contract, fully healthy. Look where Uribe is now, he took over the starting third baseman job and helped carry the team to 1st place in the division and helped the Dodgers beat the braves and advanced to the National League championship round. Dodgers fans should be fortunate that the organization gave Uribe a third chance and it worked out. Uribe signed a new contract extension for 2 years. Uribe is off to a hot start in 2014. Like Uribe did, League deserves a second chance. He’s capable of going back to his old form, the form that made him an all star a few years ago. The pitcher that the Dodgers acquired. League will rebound. Just be patient, Dodgers fans. It takes time to rebound and get back to his form that made him successful early in his career.
Aaron David Gleason, Staff Writer- Well League has to go. We have that kind of talent in the farm system and it’s criminal to keep those guys down while he continuously blows games for us. If he weren’t a pitcher and was a position player I’d say maybe we can work with him. We did work with Uribe, who was atrocious for 2 long years. This question begets another question and that is “Are the Dodger coaches TOO player friendly?” Sometimes I think these coaches think “let him work it out.” I tend to think a player, who is in the throws (pun intended) of terrible habits, WON’T self correct. ps. Tell Jansen that 98 straight is not as effective as 91 cut. Long story short, Dodger coaches and Dodger brass need to be tough. Championships are expected.
Julian Lopez, Staff Writer- Ah, the most popular question around the ball club. What should the Dodgers do with Brandon League? The problem with Brandon League is that he would have to accept a demotion to triple A which he won’t with the only other option being to release him and owe him $15 million. League started off the season with four scoreless relief appearances before his last two appearances where he struggled. Don Mattingly wants to keep giving League a chance but if he continues to struggle, do they finally give up on him?
Ryan Somers, Staff Writer- Realistically the Dodgers can only do with Brandon League what they are currently doing. That would be to keep calm and carry on. Understandably, this is not going to sit well with many. It’s fine for some Dodgers fans to be irate with Ned Colletti for giving League that hefty contract, but there is really no such thing as a perfect General Manager. League was awarded that contract (3yr/$22.5M) after filling in down the stretch for the Dodgers when Kenley Jansen went on the DL late in 2012 with an Irregular Heartbeat! Colletti had to be thinking that he better have some options in case Jansen’s health concerns returned in 2013. League had just shown the club that he could contribute late in the game. Of course, it’s easy for many to criticize Colletti for overpaying now that League has struggled so mightily. The fact remains that Ned was simply adding League to the bullpen equation because of the question marks surrounding Jansen’s health at that time. Unfortunately, League’s salary, combined with his recent performance makes him virtually immovable now. But to be fair, League is not the only Dodger reliever scuffling to open the season. It may seem highly unlikely, but I think Ned must be hopeful that League can somehow return to his 2012 form even after a dreadful 2013, and another tough start to 2014. He wouldn’t be the first Dodger to struggle immensely before finally turning the corner (see third base). In the meantime, Don Mattingly can lean on Jansen, Brian Wilson, Chris Withrow, and Chris Perez from the right side of the pen until League figures it out. If he is unable to do so, Colletti will surely have to reconsider and explore the buyout option.
Stacie Wheeler, Editor- The Dodgers will no doubt keep Brandon League around for most if not all of his three-year contract. Like Matt Guerrier, the Dodgers cannot bring themselves to let go of some of these high priced contracts no matter how bad it gets. Luckily League hasn’t been used in many high leverage spots this season, but watching him pitch is still really frustrating nonetheless. Tommy Lasorda was asked about League the other day during the pregame show on SportsNet LA, and the wise Dodger legend said that League’s problems are “his head and his sinker.” Even Rick Honeycutt‘s coaching magic hasn’t worked much to fix League, and at this point I could care less if the Dodgers did take a loss and dump League this season. They won’t. The best solution then is to use him sparingly and in a mop-up role or in middle relief. If somehow League can turn things around, which I highly doubt, then you could slowly work him back into different game scenarios. The Dodgers could of course cut their losses and release League if it gets really bad. Stranger things have happened in MLB. While League continues to exist on the Dodgers roster, Paco Rodriguez is wasting his talents in AAA. #FreePaco