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Dodgers mailbag: Dave Roberts’ extension, retired numbers, Australian Dodgers

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Answering your Dodgers questions

MLB: NLCS-Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Thank you to everyone for submitting questions for our latest mailbag. Let’s get right to it!

What are your thoughts on the lack of an extension for Roberts to this point? Certainly there has been plenty of opportunity to work something out with no player movement to focus on during the lockout. Do you think they extend him by the start of ST (whenever that is)? Opening Day?
-JB 8

Eight weeks into the MLB lockout and with no major league transactions to serve as a distraction, it is a tad surprising that the seemingly inevitable contract extension for Roberts hasn’t yet been finished. But there’s also no immediate urgency for getting a new deal done just yet, with Roberts still under contract for 2022. Unlike, for example, the more pressing need and desire to keep Brandon Gomes in house with a promotion to general manager, as other teams were interested in his services.

The Dodgers also haven’t yet officially announced their full major league coaching staff for 2022, and perhaps that is all tied to negotiations with Roberts. Or maybe they are just dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s before finalizing the staff. There are still over two months before the scheduled start of the regular season, and I still do suspect the team will extend their manager by then. But every day that passes without a new contract increases the possibility of it not happening.

Given that to my count there currently is only one Australian player playing in the MLB (Liam Hendricks) for all my searching I can’t ascertain if there are any Aussies in the Dodger minors.
-OzJohnno

The one Australian player last season in the Dodgers minors that I know of is Cameron Gibbens, a 6’8 right-handed pitcher from Melbourne who was signed in January 2020. After a 2020 season with no minor leagues, Gibbens rocketed through three levels in 2021, posting a 3.47 ERA with an eye-popping 40.3-percent strikeout rate in 35 games in relief. Gibbens is already 26 and ran into some trouble in Double-A Tulsa — three home runs and 18 walks in 16 innings, and also 25 strikeouts — but remains at least intriguing.

In the 2022 international signing period, which began on January 15, the Dodgers signed Callum Wallace, a pitcher who also set records throwing the javelin in high school and at Nudgee College.

What’s the thing about your gig/relationship with the Dodgers that you wish everyone knew?
-Michael Elizondo (elidelajandro in comments)

There has not been any locker room access for the past two seasons, due to COVID protocols, which has limited the types of stories we can tell. All of 2020 was via Zoom, and 2021 consisted mostly of Zoom calls. The bulk of last year also included on-field access during pregame, which led to some more interviews, usually as players left the field.

But it’s very hard to replace the more revealing conversations had one-on-one in the locker room, when a player might be more likely to share details in an actual conversation rather than in the group setting of a Zoom call, often when they usually can’t even see the face of the person asking the question.

Should Corey Seager continue to excel enough (and more) that he’s eventually elected to the HOF, do the Dodgers retire his number? - Mack Astin

If Seager manages to reach Cooperstown, the first comparison that entered my head was Mike Piazza, though their situations are different with respect to the Dodgers. Piazza’s departure from Los Angeles was filled with acrimony, which has extended for decades, such that his number 31 hasn’t yet been retired by the team despite obvious qualifications, with getting Piazza to show up for the honor one of the stumbling blocks.

Seager can’t match Piazza’s stats with the Dodgers, other than both winning Rookie of the Year. But Seager remains in good standing in Los Angeles. To my knowledge, he never blamed Vin Scully for anything, showing respect for his elders, and Seager was the NLCS MVP and World Series MVP in snapping the franchise’s 32-year championship drought.

The more I think of it, another player seems like a better comp for Seager.

Starting with Dodgers

Player PA 2B HR BA/OBP/SLG OPS+ bWAR
Player PA 2B HR BA/OBP/SLG OPS+ bWAR
Mike Piazza 3,017 115 177 .331/.394/.572 160 32.8
Adrián Beltré 3,818 176 147 .274/.332/.463 108 17.4
Corey Seager 2,710 164 104 .297/.367/.504 131 21.3
Source: Baseball Reference

Adrián Beltré had one monster season with the Dodgers but made his Hall of Fame case after leaving. Seager, with his 10-year contract in Texas, if he is to reach the Hall of Fame, will likely do so with the bulk of his contributions outside of Los Angeles. I think the Dodgers should retire Beltré’s number 29 once he reaches Cooperstown, and we’ll find out of the team agrees, perhaps as early as 2024. That will set the precedent for a future Seager ceremony.

What is something you want to cook for the first time before the new MLB season starts?
-Catherine the Blue

As you may have noticed through my various pictures shared in the comments, I’ve been cooking more at home the last few months, including trying a few things I usually have not made in the past. I made hot Giardiniera and a slow-simmer spaghetti sauce last week, both for the first time, for instance.

There are a few things still on my list to cook, which would be firsts for me, that I should be able to get to before the baseball season starts:

Now I’m hungry.