Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Most Expensive Mop Money Can Buy

In an earlier post today at Dodger Thoughts, Jon had this to say about our bullpen...
Unlike Stults, McDonald would probably head to the bullpen rather than the minor leagues if he drops out of the front five. If that happens, in just a few days we might see the Dodger bullpen become a strength. Consider:

1) Jonathan Broxton
2) Hong-Chih Kuo -- showing his 2008 form with a 1-2-3 inning last night.
3) A healthy Cory Wade
4) Will Ohman -- solid all year
5) Ramon Troncoso -- ditto
6) Ronald Belisario -- as long as he's not overused
7) James McDonald

Honestly, I really feel that if you accept the occasional failing, that's a bullpen you can have faith in. And Guillermo Mota can mop up ...

I'd actually forgotten about Mota until I read that. Perhaps its that I haven't watched the Dodgers in a few days, or maybe it's not worth remembering a guy who is boasting a 7+ ERA with a WHIP of over 2.00, or who carries a 7:2 walks to K's ratio. Again, I'm not really sure, but it must be one of those reasons.

Mota has been mediocre for a few years now, but apparently that equates to over $2 million in the Ned Colletti school of business. Man, Jonathan Broxton must be licking his chops.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

April Wins bring May Grins

While the Giants are looking at tonight's rubber game as the biggest game of their '09 season to date, the Dodgers are trying to seize an opportunity. Playing 5 of their first 6 series against division opponents has given LA the chance to fatten up on a not-so-intimidating NL West. Their 13-5 mark within the division so far can get even better with San Diego coming to the Ravine for a 4-game set starting tomorrow night, as well as quick 2-game series with Arizona and a 3-game encore with San Francisco on the 11-game homestand. *(There's also a 2-game duel with the Nationals sandwiched in there for a reason only the schedulers know of.)

Game note: I can't wait to see Lincecum vs. Ethier & Manny tonight.
Title note: I couldn't resist the cheesiness of it.

From Chicago With Love

It wasn't quite the comfort of home but the noisy bar in Chicago was as good a setting as any, as I watched the Dodgers mount two late inning charges. Eighth innings be damned, this team is special to watch. I can't think of any recent Dodger team I've enjoyed watching so much.

If you are ever in Chicago try the local 312 brew. It will get you through any eighth inning bases loaded walk, and won't saturate the enjoyment of a ninth inning smackdown.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Word from The Wise

"Sooner or later, a young pitcher will make a mistake." -- Vin Scully

I love how he can break down the story of a game with one sentence. He uttered that phrase in the bottom of the eighth, right after Ronald Belisario's failed attempt to shovel the ball to Russell Martin at home plate. The result of this was Fred Lewis scoring from third and tying the game, 4-4. Ok, so the rookie reliever makes an error in judgement, as Doc mentioned in the earlier post, and now should give the ball to someone with their head in the game. Instead, in a strange but recurring move, Joe Torre opts to leave the rookie reliever in the game to get himself out of the jam.

Belisario rewards him by throwing a wild pitch to Bengie Molina that advances runners to second and third and puts both men in scoring position. Since the double play option was now taken away, a grounder to Casey Blake ends up scoring the go-ahead run for the Giants, 5-4.

Giants closer Brian Wilson strikes out the side in the ninth, and the Dodgers drop the game after rallying in the seventh inning to take the lead after six scoreless innings against Barry Zito.

I know it's just one game, but these ones hurt. The miscues by Kemp didn't help, but i think it's fair to say Torre lost this one.


Chad Billingsley gets his turn tonight for a 5-0 mark to open the year. First pitch in less than an hour...

Greed and Lust

It was very obvious that Ronald Belisario did not make a good decision tonight when he used his glove to flip a softly hit comebacker about 40 feet to catcher Russell Martin. We all watched in horror as Belisario attempted to make a big play. Or in this case, an impossible play. With 1 out, runners on 1st and 3rd. Belisario fielded the ball near the 1st base line and had a chance to tag batter Rich Aurilia before his highly ineffective glove flip to the plate.

It's a good insight into the mentality of an athlete really. Deep down they have a need to accomplish the impossible. Sometimes at any cost. For Belisario, being relentless is instinctive. I call it greed and lust for the big play. When an athlete can make the impossible play (seemingly impossible that is)it can be a thing of beauty. When an athlete fails in his attempt to make the big play it can be a tragedy. And let's be honest, anytime the Dodgers lose to the Giants when Barry Zito is on the bump it is a tragedy.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A San Francisco Treat

[**Keep in mind that I actually wrote this before Monday night's forgettable loss. More on that meltdown later.**]

Ah, nothing like starting the week with our favorite rivalry...

We've witnessed the matchup lose a bit of the intensity the past few seasons as the Giants have never quite been the same since the '02 World Series loss, and are now going through the growing pains of rebuilding a team without the services of Mr. Bonds. The Dodgers are seemingly on the verge of doing something special this year, contrasted by the Giants who are trying to find their identity while remaining competitive.

As the Dodgers prepared to open a series against the Giants up north today, I just returned home from a weekend stay in San Francisco. Not to my surprise, i actually miss it. And i say that wholehearted. It's a fascinating city that you really must see in person if you haven't already. The architecture, the landscapes, the food, and the people are truly unique. I usually make it up there 2-3 times a year to visit some of my very best friends from my youth. What tops it off is that they reside just a few blocks from the infamous Haight / Ashbury intersection. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, Haight Street was a birthplace, if i may, for the youthful hippie counter-culture of the '60s. Sex, drugs, rock 'n roll, and fill in the blank. It's been a home for a new way of the thinking and new way of living. It's definitely changed since it's early days and has now become more tame and receiving to all visitors, so i urge you check it out if you can.

What makes my trips to the Bay Area even better is that one of the friends i stay with is a diehard Giants fan. We were supposed to go to tonight's game, but things just didn't work out for reasons not worth getting into. Considering we've never been able to go to a game together, it would have been an cool experience to sit next to him at AT&T Park, and just get to talk baseball with not only a friend, but a fan of the opposition. He respects my opinions, and i the same for his. For this reason, i always get a kick out of seeing a Dodgers jersey sitting next to a Giants jersey. I know it looks strange and out of place when you see it around the stadium or on TV, but i can guarantee that those pairings are thoroughly enjoying every minute of it.

So as i was mentioning earlier, today i returned from the flight that started in the overcast and eclectic setting of San Francisco and ended in sunny, smoggy, palm-tree infested Los Angeles. I wanted to make sure i was home in time to catch my games on TV tonight (yeah, that's "games" plural for my love of the Lakers too) and was rushing to the LAX parking structure to fork over my parking fees and get a jump on sitting in 405 Freeway traffic. It was then that i found myself walking side by side with Dodgers reliever Cory Wade. He was being escorted to his town-car by his driver who was pushing his bags across the street. I asked Cory when we'd see him back in uniform, and while looking shocked to be recognized he told me that he just needs to "do a quick rehab stint" and he'll be "back real soon." I really have nothing else exciting to report about my impromptu meeting with Wade, but i thought it was a cool bookend for my first trip of the year to SF.

Game on.


Fast forward to present tense...i'll give my two cents later today.

Minor League Madness

AAA – LHP Eric Milton just earned PCL Pitcher of the week honors by throwing 12 scoreless innings. In four starts this season the 33-year-old lefty has a 2-2 record with a 3.86 ERA.

AAA – OF Xavier Paul's brilliant spring has translated into a successful start to his 2009 campaign in Alberquerque. Thru 18 games: .426 (29-68), 2 HR, 14 RBI, 8 SB, 7 Doubles, 1.136 OPS
-Remember, this is Paul's 3rd season in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. At 24, he appears to be dominating the league out of the gate this season.

AA – RHP Josh Lindblom was tremendous in big league camp with the Dodgers this Spring but was roughed up in his last start to the tune of 7 earned runs in 3 innings. On the season he is 1-2 with 7.62 ERA in 3 starts. On the bright side, in 13 innings he has struckout 14 batters while walking only 2. It's notable that he has beaned 4 batters as well.

AA – 3B Josh Bell is thriving early on in his first year in AA. At 22, he comes with good raw hitting skills and he appears healthy after having knee problems last season. Here's his line so far: .309 (17-55), HR, 10 RBI, 5 Doubles, 14 K, 13 BB, .435 OBP in 16 games.

AA – LF Andrew Lambo is one of the Dodgers premier prospects. After finishing last season in AA, he appears to have picked up where he left off. His numbers aren't eye-popping, but respectable in a pitcher's league. Thru 17 games: .309 (21-68), 2 HR, 7 RBI, 6 Doubles, 2 SB, 5 BB, 10 K, .875 OPS.

A-Advanced – RHP Chris Withrow, 1st round pick in 2007, has made the first 3 starts of his professional career this year and he has shown some real promise. In his last start he struck out 10 batters in just 5 innings of work. On the season he has a 1-1 record with a 3.86 ERA, 21 K, 7 BB in 14 innings.

A – OF Kyle Russell is a 6'5” lefthanded slugger from the University of Texas. And while he has good power he pays the price... striking out 82 times in 219 at-bats in 2008. The 22 year-old is trying to prove that he is a legitimate hitting threat even with the giant whole in his swing. Thru 16 games: .340 (18-53), 2 HR, 15 RBI, 6 Doubles, 9 BB, 15 K.

A – RHP Ethan Martin was drafted with the 15th pick in the 2008 draft. So far the has not dissapointed. Thru 3 starts: 3-0, 0.60 ERA, 15 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, 19 K, 6 BB

Sunday, April 26, 2009

From First To Home

In the early 1960's, the Dodgers were blessed with having two lighting bolts running the bases for them. While Maury Wills is the name that people remember, and rightfully so, Willie Davis was no slouch in his own right.

During a crucial four game series against the Giants in early September of 1962, Willie Davis actually scored from first base on a single up the middle. You're not gonna believe this, but Juan Pierre wasn't even playing in center field that day . Instead, it was twelve time Gold Golve winner, Willie Mays. From Melvin Durslag...
When Tommy Davis cracked a grounder into centerfield, Willie took off like something equipped with four legs. It was no soft roller mind you. The ball was hit sharply.

In centerfield, the eyes of Willie Mays rolled a couple of times in their sockets as he watched Davis accelerate. No baseball bumpkin, Mays suspected instantly what Davis might be up to. He fielded the ball and threw directly to the plate.

Davis turned second and hit third, seemingly in one stride. And there waited Leo Durocher, hands alfot, waving a stop sign so clear it could have been seen in San Francisco.

If Durocher had been wearing a hair peice, he would have lost it in the squall created by Willie's velocity. Leo stood helplessly, like a man on a platform watching his subway train to Yonkers roar past.

The arm of Willie Mays is scarcely the worst in baseball, but Davis beat the throw to the plate. He had scored from first on a routine single to center.

When asked how many times this eyar that Willie has run through his stop sign, Durocher replied, "at least six."

"Did he fail to land safely on any."

"Not once," said Leo.

It is a fact, though, that Durocher would sooner get kicked in the groin by Warren Spahn than step in the way of Davis coming around third.

"When Willie is in motion," says manager Walter Alston, "there is only one way to hold him up at third. The instant he rounds second, you give him the slide sign."

Pete Reiser, the outfield coach of the Dodgers, has worked extensively with Davis, and he concludes that punishing Willie for violating signals could, in the long haul, be a blunder.

"There will be times when Davis will be thrown out taking those wild chances, but, overall, he will cause the other team to make far more mistakes than he makes. The guy already has every team in the league nervous. When he is on base, fielders hurry their throws and everyone gets jumpy, wondering what he'll do next. He has the nerve of a burglar. Once he's running, he might do anything."
Willie Davis played for Los Angeles for 14 of his 18 major league seasons. He was a three time gold glove winner, drove in over 1,000 runs, and stole just two bases shy of 400 for his career.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Who Deserved To Win That Game?

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

James McDonald may have gotten his first career victory, but it was Ramon Troncoso who really earned it. What a performance.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Just Great

Like a teenager fresh off being grounded for a week, Hong-Chih Kuo is handed the keys to the car and immediately crashes into the neighbors yard. With Broxton going 5 outs last night you had to believe this game was Kuo's to finish. Ideally he was going to pitch with a two run lead and re-build some confidence in the process. Instead, he decided to build up the frustration in me.

I'm typing this live...and right on cue he absolutely sails one...and I'll be commenting till the end. Hang on, this might get bumpy.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Joe, Don't Go All Jim Tracy On Us

I know the confidence level in Hong-Chih Kuo isn't peaking right now, but if Jonathan Broxton is the only reliever you trust there might not be anything left in his tank come September/ October. Remember a few games ago when we were salivating about having Belisario, Wade, AND Kuo as potential setup men? With Wade physically disabled, and Kuo mentally disabled, the eighth innings could be on shaky soil around Dodgertown.

Jeff Weaver to the rescue? For the sake of...well everyone I guess, let's hope not.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

How 'Bout That Belisari...Oh, Nevermind

If that wasn't your typical Dodger loss then I don't know what is. Thought work caused me to miss my second Dodger game in a row I can't say I'm bothered too much about not watching Wednesday's comeback, meltdown, comeback, meltdown defeat.
The Astros got things rolling in the fourth inning when Hunter Pence delivered a two-run shot for a gave the 2-0 lead.

The Dodgers finally woke up in the sixth inning, and in a big way.

Manny Ramirez led off with a homer, a majestic blast that completely cleared the left-field wall and disappeared into the night. It was Ramirez's fourth homer of the season, and his second in as many games against the Astros. Andre Ethier followed with a homer that wasn't quite as impressive, but counted just the same, barely making over the left-field wall to tie the game at 2.

But the Dodgers weren't quite finished.

A walk to Russell Martin was followed by a strikeout by Matt Kemp. But Casey Blake delivered a two-run homer over the left-field wall for a 4-2 lead.

The Astros pulled even in the sixth inning, with a double by Jason Michaels scoring Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee.

The Dodgers regained the lead in the eighth, with James Loney's double to the left-field corner scoring Andre Ethier from first base to go up, 5-4.

But the Astros answered in the bottom of the inning, with Lance Berkman first sending a 94-mph fastball from reliever Ronald Belisario over the left-field wall for a game-tying homer. Hunter Pence got on board with a ground-rule double, and advanced to third when Belisario, attempting to intentionally walk pinch-hitter Geoff Blum, threw the ball past catcher Russell Martin.

Ivan Rodriguez then shot the first pitch he saw from Belisario into center field for a 6-5 Astros' lead.

A wild pitch on an intentional walk, to a hitter who's usually closer to the Mendoza line than to a respectable average (with 2 outs no less), to set up the go ahead run? What a bunch of bums.

You Know What I Hate, V.2

When people at work can't create a weekly shooting schedule, and I have to miss Dodger games because of it. I heard James Loney had a awful at-bat in the ninth innning, I heard Guillermo Mota really stunk it up, but at least I didn't have to hear Eric Collins in place of Vinny.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pricing Out The Future

The other day my Dad and I were conversing about the team’s hot start, and rising talent. I cited the core group of players (Loney, Ethier, Martin, Kemp, Bills, Kershaw, Broxton) and the patience shown in allowing them to develop as a reason for their success.

“There’s only one problem with that,” chimed Pops. “Eventually you’re gonna have to pay them.”

In the era of free agency and bloated contracts it’s unreasonable to think all the players listed above will still be around in 5 years. However, there are those that deserve special attention. And so we turn our attention to Andre Ethier.

We’ve yet to hear of any complaints from Andre Ethier about playing in Los Angeles, or about contractual terms, but remember that it took a face to face meeting in a courtroom before an agreement was reached regarding his 2009 salary. If the situation should arise, I’m not convinced that he would offer the Dodgers a long term discount like Ryan Braun did with Milwaukee.

While Braun’s deal with the Brewers (8 years/$45 million) could very well be a starting point in negotiations, he is indeed working for less than the going rate for the output he produces at.

Ryan Braun Contractual Breakdown


Though Andre Ethier has YET to produce at the level of Ryan Braun (37 HR/ 106 RBI in 2008) it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could do so this year, thus setting himself up for a big payday come free agency.

So I ask you, how long and how high should the Dodgers be willing to go with Andre Ethier?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Scully Gets Hall Call

It's about time...
Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully, inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame in 1982, will be inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame on Tuesday at the organization's annual convention in Las Vegas, with a reception in his honor at the Las Vegas Hilton.

In 2000, Scully was named Sportscaster of the 20th Century by the American Sportscasters Association. This is Scully's 60th year as a Dodgers broadcaster. In 2001, the press box at Dodger Stadium was named in his honor. In addition to his baseball work, Scully has called play-by-play for the NFL and the PGA Tour.

Previous inductees to the NAB Radio Hall of Fame include Mel Allen, Gene Autry, Red Barber, Jack Buck, George Burns, Harry Caray, Bing Crosby, Herbert Hoover, Bob Hope, Casey Kasem, Larry King, Rush Limbaugh, Edward Murrow, Ronald Reagan and Orson Welles.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Damn it feels good to be a Dodger Fan

Another day, another victory. On an unusually hot Sunday in April, the Dodgers completed a 3-game sweep of the Rockies, extended their winning streak to 8 games, and posted a 6-0 mark on the homestand. As Brandon, Chris, and I watched the game today at local "Big Wang's" bar & grill in North Hollywood, we found ourselves shaking our heads at LA's play thus far this season. Once again, Dodger outfielders provided the spark with Matt Kemp slugging 2 homers (including a grand slam) with 5RBIs, and Andre Ethier driving in 3 runs. Through the first 13 games of the season, Dodger outfielders have combined for 9HRs, 37RBIs, and a .336BA. Now that Manny has started to get his timing back after a shortened spring training, the league should be on notice for what can arguably be tagged as the most fearsome outfield in baseball right now.

On a reflective note, as we looked across the bar on a gorgeous day in SoCal, we were startled by the sighting of former Dodger outfielder Eric Davis. Just seeing him reminded me of how giddy we all were when he was traded to the Dodgers for pitchers Tim Belcher and John Wetteland in '92. Back then, this move brought with it a tremendous hype for the Los Angeles reunion of childhood friends Davis and troubled star Darryl Strawberry. Sadly, the two combined to play a total of 119 games in '92 due to a string of injuries, thus leading to Davis being dealt to the Tigers during the '93 season. Regardless, seeing Davis served as a reminder of how far we've come since then and the bright hope of what the current Dodger outfield brings.

Although the mention of Kemp and Ethier doesn't sound as sexy as the pairing of Davis and Strawberry did some 17 years ago, these kids are all grown-up and should be tearing up the league for many years to come.

Home Field Advantage

Authors Note: During my Dad’s childhood he kept a scrapbook of newspaper clipping, pictures, ticket stubs, and the like of the 1962 Dodgers. Each Sunday I’ll be sharing those memories as I search through the scrapbook.

It’s no secret that Dodger Stadium has always been a pitchers park. Though park dimensions are only 330ft. down the line, it’s the depth of the power alleys that give pitchers the advantage. From…
They used to say of this of the glove of Shoeless Joe Jackson - it was the place where triples went to die. The Shoeless One would have been right at home in Dodger Stadium's center field: although the dimensions of the park don't look too bad in straightaway center (395 ft) or in the corners (335 ft), Dodger Stadium is one of the best pitcher's parks in the game because of it's gruesome power alleys. At 385 ft, they are simply graveyards for flyballs, especially at night - the ocean is just 20 miles away, and the cold, damp night air hangs heavy and holds balls up.
Due to the factors above it’s no surprise that pitchers usually perform their best in The Ravine. Take for example the home/away ERA splits of the past few seasons.

Dodgers Season Total ERA Splits (Home/ Away)

2008 ddddd3.01/ 4.40
2007 ddddd4.24/ 4.16
2006 ddddd4.11/ 4.35
2005 ddddd3.94/ 4.85
2004 ddddd3.71/ 4.31
2003 ddddd2.57/ 3.57
2002 ddddd3.29/ 4.11
2001 ddddd3.78/ 4.75

With the exception of the 2007 club, which was unfairly handicapped by the presence of Brett Tomko, Dodger pitchers have averaged almost one run allowed lower at home over the past eight seasons. But it’s not just the past few years where this has been the case. Look no further than the great Sandy Koufax.

Sandy Koufax 1962- 1966 ERA Splits (Home/ Away)

1962 ddddd1.75/ 3.53
1963 ddddd1.38/ 2.31
1964 ddddd0.85/ 2.93
1965 ddddd1.38/ 2.72
1966 ddddd1.52/ 1.96

For all the success the pitchers have enjoyed at Dodger Stadium over the years they might be able to attribute it to a single man. From Sid Ziff of the Los Angeles Times…
Nearly everyone in the Dodger line-up except Maury Wills is capable of delivering the long ball. And even Maury has had his share of extra base blows to go with his incredible steals.

The Dodgers have brought real baseball back into fashion this season. Their “Go-Go-Go” style has restored aggressive baseball to the sport it lost when Babe Ruth started the home run craze.

The Dodger organization gambled that people would like a running game when they built their club and their new large park. As Fresco Thompson, their articulate vice president, says:

“You can’t tell me people come out to see some big lummox hit a home run and lumber around the bases. We realized we had to have a different kind of ball club for our new park with its wide expanses of outfield. So we started building early toward the future. We had this same club last year but couldn’t show it in the Coliseum. We weren’t able to use Maury Wills there as a great weapon. You couldn’t send him down to second on a steal because the batter had a better chance to hit the ball over the wall. But we Dodgers have always stressed speed. This is not a new trend in our organization.”

“We feel that Babe Ruth did a lot for baseball and a lot to hurt it. He caused the home run trend. For years, ever since, only one thing meant sense to the kids. Hit the ball out of the park. Do it and the owners will give you big money. Hit singles and drive a Chevrolet. Hit homers and drive a Cadillac.”

“I, for one, am glad we have struck out in a different direction. I like our kind of baseball, the “Go-Go-Go” kind. The game was intended to be that way. And it is going to be a lot more popular because of men like Wills an Willie Davis and the new parks like Dodger Stadium. We’d rather see Wills and Davis run any time than watch home runs.”
And the Dodgers allegedly pushed their home advantage further according to several sources in baseball. From an unknown author…
Giants manager Alvin Dark has tabbed the Dodger Stadium playing surface a “brickyard” and added he wasn’t the first to use such a description.

“It’s as hard as this,” Dark said, rapping the top of his wooden desk. “I’ve heard ten people in the know call it a brickyard. Juan Marichal hurt his leg running there this season. But a ball club has the right to fix it’s home field anyway it wants to.”
Perhaps Dark was on to something, or perhaps not. Regardless, there is no denying the advantage that Wills has while playing at home. Take for example his record breaking season of 1962 when he tallied a (then) major league record of 104 stolen bases. Despite swiping 61 bases in Dodger Stadium Wills thefted only 43 away from The Ravine. Also note Willie Davis who racked up 32 thefts of his own in 1962, though only 12 of them came courtesy of the road.

Did the Dodgers, knowing they had speedsters on the bases, and aces on the mound, build a park specifically designed to play to their strengths? You’d have to be foolish not to believe so.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

KCAL 9 Curse Strikes Again

(AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)

I know this is a Dodgers blog, but what the heck is going on here?

The Best Part Of Waking Up

Is there anything better than rolling out of bed at 9:30am on a Saturday morning and realizing the Dodgers are on in 3 hours?

After the way last night's game ended the next one can't start soon enough. Silent for 7 innings the Dodgers came alive scoring 4 runs in the eighth inning before turning the keys over to our flamethrower. As Nat and I watched the game last night there was never a doubt that the Dodgers wouldn't muster a charge at some point. Call it confidence, or flat out cockiness, but the Dodgers seem like the kind of team that can flip a switch and put runs on the board at will.


The bid for seven, courtesy of

Aaron Cook, Colorado Rockies (0-0, 9.72 ERA)

Cook rebounded from a poor outing on Opening Day at Arizona -- six runs in 2 1/3 innings -- to pitch well enough to win at home against the Phillies. Cook gave up three runs and seven hits, including a line drive off his backside, in six innings, but did not figure in the decision. He was forcing quick swings and keeping the ball down in the strike zone, inducing two double plays. Cook is 2-3 with a 2.89 ERA in eight career games at Dodger Stadium.

Chad Billingsley, Los Angeles Dodgers (2-0, 2.08 ERA)

Billingsley had gone back-to-back like a staff ace. After beating the Padres by allowing two runs over six innings, he was even better against the Giants, allowing one run over seven innings with 11 strikeouts. Catcher Russell Martin said Billingsley is now able to make in-game adjustments, like throwing the same pitch at slightly different speeds to keep hitters off balance, after being pretty much a total-effort thrower in his first two seasons.

Friday, April 17, 2009


At the onset of the season I couldn't help but look at the MLB futures section at an online sportsbook. After seeing the majority of the media predicting NL West success for the Dodgers I was perplexed at this...

...which prompted this.

My how the tables have turned...

What was once an 1.8:1 advantage has dipped below an even money wager, and all it took was 10 games. Yup, the Dodgers are pretty good.


Going for six straight, courtesy of

Jorge De La Rosa, Colorado Rockies (0-1, 9.64 ERA)

De La Rosa mixed an effective fastball and changeup during the first two-plus innings of his initial start, a home loss to the Phillies on Saturday. But he couldn't put hitters away with his changeup, started falling behind in the count with two outs, and wound up giving up five runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings. The Phillies also forced him to throw 99 pitches in that time.

Randy Wolf, Los Angeles Dodgers (1-1, 3.65 ERA)

Wolf took the Dodgers into the eighth inning in Sunday's win against the Diamondbacks, even though he felt he was pitching without an effective fastball. In a very young rotation, Wolf is the one experienced enough to make a quick adjustment and win a game even without his full repertoire. Wolf had command of his curveball and kept hitters off-balance with pinpoint changeup command.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

It's Time For The Big Sweep

The yellow team clearly looks like the Giants have during the past three games.

Coc'K' Tease Gets Happy Ending

Opening Day at Dodger Stadium was laughs all the way, but last night's game had more drama than an episode of The Hills. Kershaw may have failed to gather the W, but he sure found a lot of K's...
After the bullpen turned Clayton Kershaw's masterpiece into a blown save, the Dodgers scored twice in the eighth inning to tie it, and James Loney walked with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 5-4 win over the Giants on Wednesday night.

On a night dedicated to Jackie Robinson, the 21-year-old left-hander Kershaw evoked memories of Sandy Koufax by pitching a one-hitter through seven overpowering innings and becoming the youngest Los Angeles Dodger to strike out 13. Kershaw fanned the side in his last inning and five of the last six batters he faced, but was removed by manager Joe Torre with a 2-1 lead after making 105 pitches.

Hong-Chih Kuo took over to start the eighth inning, hit Pablo Sandoval with a pitch and allowed a single to Rich Aurilia that put runners on the corners. Rookie Ronald Belisario took over and, on an 0-2 pitch, served up a three-run home run to Aaron Rowand.

The Dodgers had five runners reach base in the first inning against Matt Cain, but scored only once on a bases-loaded walk by Loney. The Giants evened the score much quicker in the top of the second on Bengie Molina's leadoff homer in the Dodgers bullpen, the only hit off Kershaw.

Casey Blake put the Dodgers back in front with his third home run of the season in the fourth inning. In the eighth, Andre Ethier singled to chase Jeremy Affeldt and went to third when Russell Martin greeted Bob Howry with a double. On Loney's sacrifice fly, Ethier scored and Martin took third. Matt Kemp tied the game with a line single to center.

In the ninth, Orlando Hudson singled, was singled to third by Manny Ramirez and Ethier was walked intentionally to load the bases. Martin bounced into a forceout at the plate before Brian Wilson walked Loney on a 3-2 pitch.

Even though Kershaw was mowing down the Giants, he admitted that wasn't even the most satisfying part of the night...

"Without a doubt, the seven innings is more important than the strikeouts," said Kershaw. "Strikeouts are not that important to me, but seven innings is. That's the benchmark of a starting pitcher, how deep can you go. Five-and-dive is not what you need to do. That taxes the bullpen and taxes the team. The only thing I wanted tonight was to go deeper."

What an mature quote from such a young player. Any doubt who the number 2 starter should be?

The four game winning streak has moved the Dodgers into a tie for first place with the San Diego Padres. Can't see that one lasting long though. San Diego's carriage is pumpkin bound.


Let's play the sweep, courtesy of

Barry Zito, San Francisco Giants (0-1, 9.00 ERA)

Trying to avoid another slow start, Zito didn't reverse this trend with his first 2009 outing, surrendering four runs and seven hits in four innings at San Diego last Friday. Zito allowed three first-inning runs and struck out three in the next two innings before allowing another run in the fourth. Last year he thrived on the road, where he posted a 7-6 record with a 4.40 ERA -- contrasting sharply with the 3-11 mark and 5.93 ERA he compiled at AT&T Park. Zito also owns a winning record at Dodger Stadium, where he's 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA.

Eric Stults, Los Angeles Dodgers (1-0, 1.69 ERA)

James McDonald was sent to the bullpen for a few days, so Stults takes the start. He's coming off a sharp fill-in performance for the injured Hiroki Kuroda. Stults, called up before ever making a Triple-A start, allowed only one run over 5 1/3 innings in Phoenix, providing a bit of rest for a bullpen that was taxed the previous night in McDonald's 2 1/3-inning start.

Kershaw Brilliant, Loney Patient

13 strikeouts! Wow, Kershaw was unbelievable against the Giants Wednesday night. You've gotta love SF's lackluster offense, but Billingsley and Kershaw really stepped up and dominated this series.

Those two make for quite an imposing 1-2 punch. Let's see if they can keep it up against the better offenses in the league.

On another note, James Loney walked with the bases loaded in the 1st inning and then again in the 9th inning. I have to give him credit, his patience really paid off. A walk is as good as a hit, and it's good to see a young hitter stay within himself in a big spot.

Can't wait to watch more Dodger baseball, this is about as good as it gets for me. Thanks to Logan White, the Dodgers have as much young talent as any team in baseball.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Kershaw Goes For The W

The last time we saw Clayton Kershaw he was well on his way to earning his first victory of the season. However, a faulty bullpen in the eighth inning saw victory slip through his grasp.

Today, a redemption effort, courtesy of

Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants (1-0, 1.29)

Coming off a 7-1 victory in his 2009 debut against Milwaukee, Cain will try to beat the Dodgers for the first time. Cain, who allowed just four hits and one run over seven innings against the Brewers, is 0-6 in 11 career starts against the Dodgers. He was 0-3 last season when, typically, he suffered some hard-luck losses. In six starts against the Dodgers in 2008, the power-pitching Cain posted a 2.79 ERA. The Dodgers hit just .257 against him. His final two starts of the year came against the Dodgers. He pitched a combined 13 innings and allowed two earned runs but came away with a no-decision and a loss.

Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers (0-0, 1.80 ERA)

In his first start of the year, Kershaw pumped fastballs and the occasional change-up for three innings against the Padres before making the adjustment that found his curveball. By then his pitch count was so high he had to leave after only five innings, having thrown 105 pitches. He allowed one run on two hits, but walked four while striking out six.

More On Vinny

I don't mean to saturate the market but there is a nice piece about Vin Scully, courtesy of Diane Pucin at the Los Angeles Times. The words from Bob Costas at the conclusion of the piece rang true...
Bob Costas was speaking on a conference call Monday morning to promote the MLB Network's Thursday night broadcast, the home opener at the new Yankee Stadium. Costas is returning to the baseball broadcast booth for the first time in nine years, and while talking about the death of Kalas, described Scully.

"Vin has the unbelievable combination of special skill with a distinctive style. Combined with all those generational memories is something we'll never see again," Costas said. "Circumstances will never allow for it again."
It is not uncommon to see 3, 4, or sometimes for pre-game shows, 5 talking heads spewing information our way. Most of us take it for granted that we've had the luxury of listening to one person that calls it like he sees it, and who very rarely injects his opinions into the game. Hard to believe that a network, or organization, would have the courage and trust to turn the reigns over to a single individual as the Dodgers did decades ago.

Dodgers Jump On Johnson's Balls

I've got no right to make fun of a 295 game winner, but perhaps Randy Johnson should have taken notes on how to throw strikes from this guy...

As Vin once said twenty-one years ago, "not a bad opening act."


You just never what you are going to see during a baseball game, and those in attendance at yesterday's game were witness to something never done before...

Orlando Hudson wasted no time making history with the Dodgers.

In his first home game of the season, the second baseman hit for the cycle Monday against the Giants to become the first Dodgers player to hit for the cycle since Wes Parker did it on May 7, 1970, at Shea Stadium.

"It was a great day. Thirty-nine years ago, I wasn't even around," said Hudson, 31. "It feels great to be a part of it."

It was also the first time a Dodgers player had hit for the cycle at Dodger Stadium.
I keep waiting for the wrist injury to flare up, but so far Orlando Hudson has been nothing short of amazing.

Also, it was the first time that Randy Johnson has ever lost a game at Dodger Stadium.


An off-day today, but stay on the lookout for SOSG's first off-day puzzle of 2009.

Monday, April 13, 2009

You Know What I Hate

When people at work tell me the score of the Dodger game, even after I sent out this mass email to my entire office the other day...
Another Dodger season is upon us, one that I have waited for since October of last season.

Laugh at me all you want but I take the Dodgers pretty seriously. I've often stated, much to the dismay of my lady, that my favorite thing in the world is watching the Dodgers. Thus, I would appreciate it if you would not pass along any scores, suggestive texts, and the like until the next day. I don't always get a chance to watch the games as they are happening, and wouldn't want to deprive myself of the joy of watching The Blue each night.

Thank you for your understanding. Go Dodgers.

Thanks a lot, Luis. See if I stop by your office when I leave for work anymore.

Pitches and Pitchers

This is cool...
Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully will throw out the ceremonial first pitch in Monday's Dodgers home opener against the Giants at Dodger Stadium.
He probably won't take the mound, but I bet he throws a strike.


Your home opener pitchers, courtesy of

Randy Johnson, San Francisco Giants (0-1, 7.20 ERA)

The Big Unit thrived at the outset of his San Francisco regular-season debut last Wednesday, striking out two batters in each of the first three innings. Johnson finished with seven strikeouts in five innings, but he also finished with a loss as the opposing pitcher, Milwaukee's Yovani Galllardo, belted a three-run homer. Johnson remains five wins away from becoming the 24th pitcher in history to win 300 games. He has never lost at Dodger Stadium, where he's 7-0 in 11 outings with a 2.04 ERA.

Chad Billingsley, Los Angeles Dodgers (1-0, 3.00 ERA)

Billingsley showed no negative effects from his playoff debacle against Philly, the broken leg he suffered in the winter or the strained groin from the Spring. Five of his six innings against San Diego were scoreless, the only blemish a two-run hitless fifth inning when he suddenly couldn't throw a strike and walked three consecutive batters. He takes the ball for the home opener against the Giants and Randy Johnson. He had a 2.08 ERA against the Giants in four starts last year.

Harry Kalas passes

As i'm getting ready to post an upbeat column about the Dodgers' home opener today, i just can't. I just came across the news that Harry Kalas, the legendary Phillies broadcaster and voice over specialist for NFL Films, has passed away at age 73.

He was found unconscious in the visitor's broadcast booth in Washington DC where he had been prepping for the Phillies / Nationals game at around 12:30pm EST today.

Coincidentally, ROB founder, Brandon Wahl, had just sent me a message this morning that Vin Scully will be throwing out the first pitch at Dodger Stadium today for the home opener. I'm sure that event will carry a much different tone than originally intended in light of the recent news of Harry's passing. I sincerely hope that Phillies fans tune in to catch Vin's take on Kalas. Someone like Kalas comes along only once in a lifetime, and by nature of his talent, does not have many peers.

I didn't get a chance to hear much of Kalas througout his career, but i can only imagine what it's like to lose such a legend. We here in Los Angeles are blessed to hear Mr. Scully every season, and i can only hope he is never taken for granted.

Harry Kalas (1936-2009)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Back From The Road

(Note: Ending our six week long road trip at Baseball Digest, we return to Reflections of Blue fresh off a Dodgers series victory in Arizona. We've been gone awhile, and it feels good to be home.)

When I was younger, maybe 10 years old, my Dad loaded up the car and took my brother and I on our first baseball road trip. My old man was offered tickets for the Oakland Athletics as they played host to the New York Yankees. Being a sports fan with two sons in the middle of summer vacation, I imagined my Dad figured what the heck and made the multiple hour drive to watch two teams none of us had any interest in. It wasn’t the first baseball game I had ever been to, but it was the first time I had ever driven a considerable distance for a sporting event.

I couldn’t tell you anything more than few brief remembrances of that game (Dennis Eckersley striking out the side for a save, and Mark McGwire tossing a baseball to me, and then one to my brother a few innings later) but it will forever be remembered as my first baseball road trip with the guys.

Fifteen years later my friends and I packed the car and headed out to Arizona to watch the Dodgers take on the Arizona Diamondbacks. No thanks to bad local knowledge we actually arrived one inning late, but still managed to settle in quite nicely.

In contrast to Dodger Stadium, Chase Field is completely modernized with carpeting in the walkways, a very nice scoreboard in center field, and even a hot tub box for those willing to pay accordingly. Although we didn’t take advantage, being in possession of a ticket granted you access to all areas of the park, not just the level your ticket reflected. Those of you that aren’t Dodger fans might not find that surprising, but alas, those are the rules at The Ravine..

The large courtyard areas outside the stadium were filled with restaurants and bars making it the perfect place to enjoy the company of others before and after the game. Early renderings of “The Next 50” project for Dodger Stadium have shown similar ideas that should prove a nice addition to our beloved home, if indeed those ideas come to fruition.

Concerns regarding the emergency start required by Eric Stults, and the lack of runs by the Dodgers offense to start the season, had us worried that our journey would be met with defeat; however, 11 runs later the trip was officially dubbed a success. The joy from the victory remained the rest of the weekend, and further extended itself with a 3-1 victory over Dan Harren on Sunday afternoon. It’s amazing how quick a six hour drive elapses when Vin Scully is providing the soundtrack.

Fifteen years from now I doubt I’ll remember the final outcome of the game, or how embarrassing Juan Pierre’s arm was, but I’ll remember the Arizona speed cameras, the crazy girl in the red shirt dancing to “Baby Got Back” outside of Chase Field, the lack of female companions, and driving on the wrong side of the road after a late night/ early morning Chipotle meal. The details of the game, and even the game itself, will slowly fade into obscurity, and will be supplanted with the memories of a weekend with the guys. And in the end, isn’t that what baseball road trips are all about?