Sunday, May 31, 2009

Give This Man His Paycheck

Here is what I had to say just a few days ago about Eric Milton...
I've long been a supporter of Eric Stults, and subsequently a basher of Jeff Weaver; however, as long as Eric Milton doesn't make too many more appearances I think the Dodgers could do much worse for the back end of their rotation than either of the two pitchers discussed above.
Since then Eric Milton has not only tallied two straight victories, but has made me feel guilty enough about bashing him to now be writing a column heaping him with praise. Though he ran into trouble in the sixth inning Milton pitched very effectively the first five innings, and for the second consecutive outing. From Ken Gurnick...
The Dodgers got more wins from Eric Milton on the just-completed trip than they have from Hiroki Kuroda all season.

It's unexpected contributions like that from all sectors of the roster that have made the Dodgers the best team in baseball and good enough to go 20-9 in May after an 8-2 win over the Cubs Sunday. They haven't won that many games in May since 1962.

It was quite a week for Milton, the only Dodgers pitcher with two wins during the trip after going almost three years without a Major League victory.

He held the Cubs scoreless for 5 1/3 innings, then allowed the next four batters to reach base and was removed after Reed Johnson's two-run double. Johnson went 8-for-12 in the series.

"He kept it off the fat part of the bat," manager Joe Torre said. "Most important for us, in the first inning, after we scored five, he didn't give them anything."

Milton has now taken charge of the fifth-starter spot. He's made three starts, each a little better than the previous one, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said.

"I felt good in Colorado," Milton said of his five-inning win on Tuesday night, "and even better tonight."

Benefiting from a 5 run offensive output by the Dodgers in the first inning no doubt played a part in Milton feeling better; however, that's not to diminish his performance over the first five frames. Being staked to a large lead, and asked to throw strikes, Milton responded by getting 59 of his 86 pitches over the plate, and walking his only batter in his last 10 innings pitched.

Sure it's only two steady performances, but as Meatloaf once sang, "two outta three ain't bad." Don't look now but we might have found this year's Chan Ho Park.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Nice Knowing Ya

Way to look great on national television boys. From Ken Gurnick...
Dodgers starter Eric Stults went only three-plus innings and allowed four runs for the loss, and he now has a bruised ERA (4.80) to match a bruised thumb suffered two starts ago. With Hiroki Kuroda returning to the rotation Monday, Stults is likely headed to the bullpen or the disabled list.

Fontenot chased Stults in the fourth inning with a one-out RBI triple, and Fontenot scored on Theriot's RBI single off Guillermo Mota. The Cubs extended their lead with three runs off Jeff Weaver, who walked five (one intentionally) in 2 1/3 innings.
The Dodgers were also shut out for the first time all season, as they fell to the Cubs 7-0. Hopefully those Dodger fans watching the game in the Los Angeles area took advantage of the cool weather, and turned off the game after Stults' departure. Anytime you see Guillermo Mota make an appearance in the fourth inning the white towel has already been waved.


For the record, I don't think Manny Ramirez should play in the All Star game. I'm no baseball purist, far from it in fact. However, to further compound the silliness that already is the mid summer classic by allowing Ramirez to play isn't the way to point out all that's wrong with the festivities.

For the record, I'm not a huge supporter of Frank McCourt. The parking lot fiasco, the high cost of parking, the high cost of tickets, the caste system of stadium access being determined by the location of your ticket, the discontinuation of the Dodger Trolley...well, you get the picture. However, I support his statement that Ramirez SHOULD play in the All Star game.
"Do I want to see him?" McCourt said.

"Sure, if he gets voted in. It'd be a great honor."

The news of Ramirez's controversial All-Star candidacy made national headlines this week, but McCourt said he was unaware of where his $25-million left fielder stood in the balloting.

When informed, he said, "The fans are going to make up their own minds about this. I think fans think for themselves and they're entitled to do that."
Frank McCourt has come under fire recently for making those comments, and while it's certainly expected, I get the feeling that people are looking past the politics that comes with being an owner of a baseball team. McCourt has been loyal to a fault to Manny Ramirez, almost too loyal, at the risk of upsetting his prize fighter. His recent comments only cement his support further, and should come as a surprise to no one.

As much as they might want to, an owner should not take a moral stance and publicly bash one of his players. That's simply tactless. If he/she chooses to rid themselves of an objectionable player in a less public manner, so be it. Remember Derek Lowe anyone? If he/she chooses to reprimand a player in a private matter, I'm all for it.

Frank McCourt's hands are tied with this one, and we've all seen he's no Harry Houdini. The above comments might not be what he wants to say, but, in a world of politics, it's what he HAS to say.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

'D' List Swag Up For Grabs

Someone at work sent this to me. There's really a market for this?...
Hi guys. Remember when Kourt, Kim, my mom and I threw out the first pitch at the Dodgers game a few weeks ago? Well I am giving away the ladies Dodger jersey they gave me and the two baseballs that we threw the pitch with! The jersey was custom made for me with my last name on the back and while it will be hard to part with I'm so excited for one of you to rock the Kardashian name! LOL.

Here's how you can win! In a comment, tell me who you think the hottest pro athlete (male or female) is and name the top three reasons you think they're sexyyyy! I'll be reading through ALL of your comments and picking the answer I like best, so be silly and CREATIVE!!!!!!

You have until Wednesday, June 3rd to enter. May the best DASH doll win!!!!!!

DASHingly awful!!!!!!!! Some interesting comments though, including this one from "Becca"...

khloe, i just watched the final kuwtk and i have to say i luv u, ur so strong and i think its admirable, im like that too when it comes to guys and people always say i shud be more forgiving but i know what i expect and deserve from a guy and they should love and respect u just the same as we do to them.

Yikes. And this one from "Brittney"...

i think manny rodriguez from the dodgers is super sexy (bible)!
1. no one else gets their name chanted like he does....
2. he has a super cute butt...
3. he wants to make sure he continues to get his freak on so much so that he is trading 50 games to do so... :) and i don't think that should be held against him ;)

Of course, Manny Rodriguez. It keeps getting better...

My favorite Pro Athlete is RUSSELL MARTIN of the Los Angeles Dodgers!!
1.he's like a cute teddy bear n a hott uniform.

2.He's educated and went to college not a dumb jock,but not nerdy,fine as a dime has just a lil facial hair..niiiiice

3. last but not least he has broken the record for the most stolen bases by a catcher with the that is sexy, very hard for a catcher to do!

Pretty sure John Roseboro holds the record for most steals by a catcher. And finally, this one from "Bob"...

Help me God..What A guy won't do for his wife , who loves your show...

Here goes..has to be Derek Jeter because..
1. World Series Rings flash on his fingers for his repeated seasonal flare
Women adore his graceful swoons of bat and mitt while their eyes catch upon his derierre...
2. Bachelor is he jaunting GQ fashion with ease
Many women would not stop him from rounding their bases just wishing to please...
3. Sense of humor has he as teammates salute the captain of their team
Any woman that lands him will surely live in a castle and realize their dream.

My wife owes me ...big time!!!

Bob's "wife" must be so proud.

A Struggling Raffy

To put it bluntly, Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal is having a terrible year with the bat. In fact if Furcal continues on his current pace he will register the worst offensive year of his career in almost every major offensive category. By neutralizing all Furcal's offensive numbers to 600 plate appearances per year it's clear to see he is struggling mightily...

Battering Average: .238 (career low)
On Base Percentage: .299 (career low)
Slugging Percentage: .302 (career low)
2B: 26 (4th lowest of career)
3B: 0 (career low)
HR: 3 (career low)
RBI: 29 (career low)
BB: 48 (3rd lowest of career)
SO: 93 (3rd highest of career)

Further compounding Furcal's ineffectiveness, though not surprising given his age and recent injuries, his projected stolen bases (10) would also represent a career low.

Unfortunately, he's not having a great year with the glove either. His Range Factor (9*(putout+assists)/ innings played) and Fielding Percentage are both the second lowest of his career, and he's on pace to record the third most errors in one season since entering the league in 2000.

And to think, the Dodgers have scored the most runs in baseball with him as their lead-off man. Imagine the possibilities if Furcal could somehow put the pieces back together.

It was 1974...

The Dodgers are off to a brilliant start this season with and without Manny Ramirez. Boasting the best record in baseball, dominant at home and leading a weak division by 8.5 games these Dodgers seemed to poised for big things.

All of this raises the question, when was the last time the Dodgers won 100+ games in a regular season?

It was 1974. 35 seasons ago. Jimmy Wynn led the charge in those days. Garvey, Cey, Lopes and Russell took helm of the infield and Andy Messersmith, Don Sutton and Mike Marshall dominated on the mound.

Will the 2009 Dodgers continue to win games at this feverish pace? If they can win 100+ games it would be a first for many Dodger fans (including Brandon, Matt, Todd and myself). Let's enjoy their winning ways while we can. Regular season dominance like this doesn't come along often.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Furcal Sits Again

For the 4th straight day Joe Torre has decided against starting Rafael Furcal at shortstop. Once again, Juan Castro gets the nod. Furcal has been slowed down by a sore buttocks muscle and Torre obviously has no reservations using his entire roster. Castro has been off to a pretty good start offensively this year and his glove has always been top-notch.

Of course, Furcal has been off to a slow start this year and it's probable that Joe figures the extra rest could give his offensive catalyst the fresh start he needs.

No Schmidt

Quite literally actually...
Dodgers manager Joe Torre announced on Tuesday that the organization stopped Jason Schmidt's rehab assignment at Triple-A Albuquerque because of right shoulder irritation.

Torre said the decision to halt rehab had nothing to do with Schmidt getting hit in the head by a line drive in his last rehab start on Saturday. Currently, the Dodgers say Schmidt has shoulder irritation.

Like me thinking I actually have a chance with Carrie Underwood, Jason Schmidt continues to forge ahead in hopes of returning to the Dodgers. I think I have a better chance with Carrie.

Funny note, in looking for a game action picture of Jason Schmidt I had a hard time finding one in which he wasn't wearing a Giants uniform. Until I stumbled upon this beauty...

Sums up his Dodger career perfectly, no?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Eric Stults vs. Jeff Weaver

You could see the disturbed look on the face of Eric Stults as he was pulled from yesterday's game after proceeding to walk the bases full in the top half of the fifth inning. Whether he wanted to exercise the demons lingering from the last time he pitched in Colorado, or was simply upset in letting a 7 run lead shrink enough to start worrying about, he was visibly bothered when walking off the mound. From Cheng Sio...
Despite the team win, starting left-hander Eric Stults struggled. In his first start since jamming his thumb on May 15 against the Marlins, Stults lasted just 4 1/3 innings, giving up four runs, three hits and seven walks in a no-decision. Stults threw 95 pitches, 48 of which were balls, and said his thumb was not a problem.

"I was solid for the most part in the first four innings and then kind of lost it in the last inning," Stults said. "There are really no excuses, just not executing pitches and not bearing down."

Though the Dodgers are 7-1 in games started by Stults this season Hiroki Kuroda is slated to return from the DL in early June, thus leaving only one rotational spot available. With Jeff Weaver looming large in the background it will be interesting to see who is tapped to fill that role. Though Stults could simply be moved to the bullpen it appears unlikely as he hasn't been used in relief since 2007. Furthermore, his staring/ relieving splits are polar opposites.

Starting/ Relieving Splits (Career)

ERA:dddddd4.15/ 7.65
WHIPddddd1.410/ 2.00
SO:BBddddd1.68/ .80
SO/9dddddd6.5/ 3.6

It seems as though Eric Stults is destined to be a starting pitcher, whether it be at the major league level or at AAA. Yet, if it comes down to Eric Stults or Jeff Weaver for the final starting spot, the Dodgers might be better off going with this guy...

Eric Stults/ Jeff Weaver Starting Comparison (2009)

ERA:ddddd4.29/ 3.00
WHIPdddd1.50/ 1.26
K:BBdddd1.17/ 1.29
HR/9:dddd0.4/ 0.0
Opponents BAddddd.253/ .214
Opponents OBPdddd.355/ .308
Opponents SLGdddd.399/ .321
Innings per Startdd: 4.00/ 5.00

With the exception of K:BB's Jeff Weaver is blowing Eric Stults out of the water. Frankly speaking, and believe me I never thought I'd be typing this, Jeff Weaver has been damn good this year as a starter. I've long been a supporter of Eric Stults, and subsequently a basher of Jeff Weaver; however, as long as Eric Milton doesn't make too many more appearances I think the Dodgers could do much worse for the back end of their rotation than either of the two pitchers discussed above.

Stults photo courtesy of AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Weaver photo courtesy of

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Look Back, A Look Forward

Excitement overtook me early last week when the dream of being granted media access to cover the Dodgers became a reality. Though as the week progressed the excitement faded, and was quickly replaced with outright curiosity. Would the love of the Dodgers, as if this is actually possible, be enhanced further? Or, would the newfound access take away the mystique, like a watching a dejected magician reveal his tricks?

Without a doubt, the most rewarding experience of the day was being able to meet with Joe Torre in the Dodgers dugout before the game. The information gained in fifteen short minutes saved the task of pouring over multiple articles in the following day's paper, or at other Dodger blogs online. To have a person with authority (Torre) answer your questions that others so desperately seek answers to, well, you feel empowered. For a site that is still trying to find it's voice, not to mention it's place among the other giants, it felt humbling to report Dodger news that was soon passed along elsewhere. And in the big picture of things that's the reason you're there- to report the news for others to gain knowledge from.

But the problem is you're also there for yourself. You want to cheer, you want to boo, you want to raise a hullabaloo. You want to stand and clap when someone gets engaged, wishing you could live vicariously through men who propose at Dodger Stadium, and the women who describe it later as the perfect proposal. You desperately want to drink a beer with your Dodger Dog (or two), as if the aura of the day isn't intoxicating enough.

But you can't.

Sitting, and subsequently working, in the press box is like setting up camp in the epicenter of neutrality. You wonder how Vin Scully does it.

The Dodgers proceeded to mount mini comebacks in the eighth and ninth innings; however, ultimately fell short of the glory of victory. As the other media members quickly gathered their notes and rushed down to the clubhouse I shuffled along, not wanting to miss a beat. And that's when the reality of the day sunk in.

Perhaps the clubhouse was always this way after a loss, perhaps everyone was sad about leaving their families for the road, or perhaps the players were too afraid to draw the ire of the coaches for not appearing too distraught. Whatever it was you could tell the players were bummed. Hell, as a die hard fan, I was bummed. The smell of defeat lingered ominously in the air, desperately crying for someone to open a window in attempts to whisk away the negativity. Ironically, I wanted to be anywhere else but at the very place I stood, the very place I'd always dreamed of standing. I got too close, I saw the magician's secrets, I didn't like what I saw behind the curtain.

So why do I find myself desperately wanting to go back?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Mini Comebacks Fail To Gather Mini Sirloin Burgers

What started out great for the Dodgers ended anything but, as the cross-town rival Angels outscored the boys in Blue 10 to 3 over the final seven frames. The Dodgers mounted a mini comeback in the eighth and ninth innings, but still dropped the rubber match 10-7.

Chad Billingsley cruised along before running into trouble in the sixth, allowing 3 runs to cross the plate, and remained on the hook for his second lost of the season.

"They put a lot of pressure on you," Billingsley stated in the clubhouse afterwards. "They had some good at bats off me today and found ways to push across runs."

"They had good plate discipline. They weren't chasing after my curveball, and they made me get back in the strikezone. I felt I had pretty good stuff out there. It's just one of those days."

After the game manager Joe Torre was very brief as he spoke with the media in his office.

"You know Bills, he was fighting it today. It wasn't his best day, simply put it that way."

Despite the loss Torre praised his team for not throwing in the towel.

"We kept coming back, and that's hopefully going to be our signature all year long. You know, play every inning. We certainly did that. We're still a pretty good team, obviously a confident bunch."

One player who should be confident is Jamie Hoffman. Not only did he make his first major league start, but he also notched his first big league hit. And what a big one it was. Hoffman's 3-run blast in the second inning put the Dodgers ahead, albeit only for a short while.

"As I ran around the bases it felt like I was floating. I didn't calm down until I was back in the dugout."

On notching his first big league home run in his first major league start Hoffman blushed, "I've never played in front of 50,000 people before."

A day of firsts not only for Hoffman, but for me. Very soon I'll be hopping into the Dodger Talk studio and chatting with Ken Levine and Steve Lyons on KABC 790. Please be sure to tune in.

...And A VERY Pleasant Morning/Afternoon To You, Wherever You May Be

4:49PM- They started playing "California Girls" over the loudspeaker in the middle of the 9th. The camera guy to my left (whose job it is to capture pretty girls on camera) just let out a big, "It's 10-6, they all left."

- "Some are born to sign the blues." One last chance in the ninth.

- See below. Got something brewing here...

- "Don't Stop Believing" time.

- Jamie Hoffman just grazed Orlando Hudson's face as they both merged on a fly ball in shallow right field. Hudson was down for a few moments, but walked off under his own power. Not sure if he will return. Hey Hoffman, don't you know right field belongs to Orlando Hudson.

- And the Dodger tradition of leaving in the 7th inning begins. I've always said the best way to beat the traffic out of the stadium is just wait until the end of the game. Won't be fighting any people then.

- They just made an announcement in the press box that Jamie Hoffman is the first Dodger whose first hit was hit a home run since Chin-Lung Hu did it on September 11, 2007.

A tough inning for Billingsley. 3 runs, 3 hits, and 1 BB in the top of the 6th alone. With a pitch count of over 100 he's all but done for the day. Hopefully the Dodgers are not.

- Uh oh, Bills is in trouble. One run in already, 2 on, 0 outs.

- Yeah, found him in the media guide! Mike Brito.

Mike Brito is the scout that discovered Fernando back in the 80's. Okay, I'm beginning to feel like a stalker though. Enough about this guy.

2:41PM- The McCourts just made their way down to their seats. Outside of Bleacher Beach, almost every seat is full. I'm guessing 52 or 53 thousand for today's attendance. Say what you want about the Dugout Club area, I've got the best seat in the house.

A great catch by Tori Hunter to rob Kemp of a hit. He face-planted into the wall, and laid on the warning track for quite some time before being helped up and staying in the game! For an update on Tori Hunter...check an Angels blog or something.

2:12PM- The press box is filled to capacity. I think I see the guy who use to stand behind home plate (probably 10 years ago) with the radar gun. He's wearing his trademark hat. Top 3rd of the top photo, dead middle of bottom one. Looking for a photo of him online.

Remember when it was thought we might be seeing Bobby Abreu in a Dodger uniform? Zero HR's on the year for him...and right on cue he GIDP to end the inning. Bills at 39 pitches through 3.

- Ok, WOW! That was hard not to cheer for! Jamie Hoffman's first big league hit is a 3-run jack! Security is escorting the guy with the ball out of the stands. Wonder what he is going to ask for? I would ask for an autographed ball from him. Quick question, in 5 years what do you think will be worth more...A Jamie Hoffman signed ball, or a Guillermo Mota one?

From Diamond Vision..."Juan Pierre Last Night: With the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th inning, he drew the decisive walk of walk." Nothing like the old decisive walk off walk.

- Its amazing how easily you can tell the difference between balls and strikes from the press box. Usually I'm platooned in the loge levels with beach balls flying around me, and am lucky to see who's even at bat.

On that note, Bills retires the side in order.

- It's almost game time, and Bleacher Beach isn't even 30% full, and that's with a giant advertising tarp covering 25% of the entire area. We'll check in later.

- From the Dodgers game day memo...
The Dodgers enter tonights action with the best home record in the majors at 18-4, 2.0 games ahead of the Boston Red Sox who stand at 16-6. The 1980 Dodgers went 55-27 overall at Dodger Stadium, which is the Los Angeles club record for best home mark. The franchise record is Brooklyn's 60-17 record at Ebbets Field in 1953.

12:39PM- As I walked around the dugout and clubhouse I couldn't help stroking my own ego. However, I quickly noticed these kids (like 9 and 10 year olds) standing next to me, asking Joe Torre questions, and talking to the players (yes Brent Leach counts!). They were participating in the Junior Dodgers Broadcast program. Not only do they get to go on the field, but they get to call the game in their own broadcast booth. Ten years old!!! And here I thought I was on to something.

- Just got the lineup...

Juan Pierre LF
Russell Martin C
Orlando Hudson 2B
Casey Blake 3B
James Loney 1B
Matt Kemp CF
Jamie Hoffman RF
Juan Castro SS
Chad Billingsley P

I really thought Matt Kemp or James Loney would get the cleanup role vacated by Ethier. Casey Blake hasn't hit higher than 7th all year.

- Reasons to fork over the extra dollars to sit behind home plate. Free sunscreen.

12:15PM- Torre's pre-game comments:

I (and about 10 members of the press) had the change to meet with Joe Torre a few moments ago. Joe was very patient and polite as he listened to questions from each one of us, even me! Forget nerves, the dugout chat was very casual and calm.

On Ethier: "He wanted to start today, but I decided not to. He's available, but he's probably better off not starting. He took a ball off the corner of his big toe, so this part (points to finger) of the nail is cracked."

Jamie Hoffman will get his first major league start (Torre: "Last night I had thoughts of playing Blake in right field, but I decided against it.") in place of Andre Ethier.

Russell Martin will start today's game, though not because of Ethier's absence. Torre said Ausmus will likely start one of the three games in Colorado as a result.

On Schmidt: "He's fine. I mean last night, after I heard from Stan, he's fine. He never lost consciousness, it just broke the skin." Torre doesn't expect it to alter his pitching schedule. "I would guess that would be the case."

I asked Torre if Jonathan Broxton would be available today:

"I don't know. They'll come out and play catch, and that's usually when we find out. But if he can't do it my guess will be Troncoso. What we are finding out about Troncoso is the pressure of the doesn't bother him, and that's obviously very important when you are thinking about later in the game.

Xavier Paul is still on the mend. "It will be a couple of games."

On Hong-Chih Kuo: "I didn't get anything on him. He'll be in Glendale this week doing some sim games. So that's good, but when we are going to him next...we don't know yet."

On Brad Ausmus' effect on Martin: "It's big, very big. You'll see them in the weight room laying on pads and going over the games. I think that's evident by what Russell is doing out there, and by how many trips Russell has made to the mound. The pitchers...they trust him. And I think the reason they trust him, outside of giving them good information, is the fact that there is consistency. And that to me is the most important thing."

Just got back from the dugout. Pre-Game comments up shortly

- As several players are playing long toss on the outfield grass the unmistakable smell of Dodger Dogs has begun wafting through the stadium. When I showed up this morning around 9:30AM the place was a ghost town; however, things are beginning to pick up.

- Just found out no batting practice before Sunday afternoon games. Oh well.

It appears that Andre Ethier will sit out today's finale, though I've yet to see a lineup card posted in the press box. I'll pass along anything I hear from Joe Torre as soon as he speaks to the media.

- Vin Scully just arrived, and is talking to various media members. I'm afraid to look in his direction!

10:00AM- Sunday mornings at Reflections of Blue are usually that- a reflection. Pouring through my Dad's old Dodger scrapbook affords me the opportunity to look back at a time when Dodger baseball in Los Angeles was in its infancy. However, this Sunday morning, from the Vin Scully Press Box at Dodger Stadium, it's time to catch a glimpse of the future.

A huge thanks to Josh Rawitch and his entire staff for granting access to those in the blog world. A glimpse into the future? A growing trend across sports? Let's hope so.

The last day game I attended at Dodger Stadium proved to be quite memorable; and I'm sure this won't disappoint. Feel free to leave comments and questions, as I'll be reporting from the stadium throughout the day.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

OMG! An Andre Ethier Sighting

2 for 2 so far tonight, Andre? I didn't know you were a reader.

Friday, May 22, 2009

What's Eating Andre Ethier?

Everyone goes through slumps, even outside of baseball. However, since the suspension of Manny Ramirez, Andre Ethier has been outright dreadful. Not Andruw Jones dreadful mind you, but a few more 0 for 5 nights might entice the boos birds to start chirping. What once was a feverish pace has turned stale recently, and has left fans to wonder what is going on?

Not only has Ethier's OPS plummeted over .200 points, he currently ranks 8th in batting average, and 7th in RBI's in relation to the starting eight since the suspension of Ramirez was handed down. Andre does hold bragging rights in two categories for the Dodgers since then, but unfortunately those categories are GIDP (grounded into double play) and LOB (left on base). Ouch.

Now obviously we're dissecting a relatively small sample size (12 games) but let's take a look at some numbers, courtesy of FanGraphs and Brooks Baseball.

After Ethier's OPS drop from .985 to .771, the next number that jumps off the page is his BB:K ratio. During the first 29 games, when he was ripping the cover off the ball, Ethier drew 25 walks against 16 strikeouts (1.6:1). However, in this recent downturn Ethier has tallied only 4 walks against 13 strikeouts (.30:1). Yes, that is a decimal point you see in front of the 3.

Furthermore, of the 51 plate appearances Ethier has had since May 8th, only 7 of them (4 hits, 3 walks) haven't resulted in an out. And of those remaining 44 at-bat's Ethier has made an out from swinging at a ball outside the strike zone 13 times, or 29.5%, which reeks of plate discipline, or frankly a lack thereof.

Therefore, it's not surprising to see that Ethier is seeing less pitches per plate appearance since the departure of Manny. In the first twenty nine games Andre Ethier saw 573 pitches over 133 plate appearances (4.31 per); however, in post-Manny times Ethier has seen only 202 pitches in 52 plate appearances (3.88 per).

The severe drop in his walks, corresponding hike in K's, shrinking pitches per plate appearance, and high percentage of outs via balls outside the strike zone leads me to believe that Ethier is forcing things at the plate. Consequently, when you force things at the plate you usually end up swinging at less than ideal pitches. For example, look at the following three charts. Each at bat comes from 5/13 against the Philadelphia Phillies. Again, this is a small sample size, but you'll quickly find repeating patterns in other at-bat's. You can clearly see how Ethier is making outs by swinging at balls outside the strike zone (marked in blue).




Swinging at ball outside the strike zone clearly explains why 27 of the 31 "ball in play'' outs (13 have come from strikeouts) have either been via ground out, or fly ball. He's simply not getting good contact on the ball in those situations. The other 4 outs have all come from line drives.

Ah, line drives. To steal from MSTI's recent post on Juan Pierre...
And - surprise, surprise - more line drives = more hits!
Which is another reason why Andre is struggling mightily. He's hitting less line drives. Last season Ethier posted a line drive percentage of 26%. This season that number has dropped to 15%. Subsequently, his fly ball percentages are going up. Way up. In 2008, Either had a fly ball percentage of 32%. So far in 2009, he's flying out at a 47% rate. Not good my friends.

So why is Ethier playing like crap recently? Perhaps the thoughts of Joe Torre, courtesy of Orel at SOSG, can explain...
"It doesn't make sense for it to be an issue other than if he feels that he's got to replace him [Manny] by producing more."
As Vin Scully recently stated, "at this level, it's a game between the ears." And in the end, that's what this boils down to. Andre Ethier is trying too hard to carry the load of a Manny-less team, and having awful at bats as a result. We all know Ethier is the type of player that allows a bad game (or even a bad at-bat) to frustrate him. Is it possible that each unsuccessful plate appearance is compounding itself in his mind, and further spiraling him into Slumpsville? The numbers above seem to state that.

We've heard reports that Manny Ramirez has reached out to Guillermo Mota and Rafael Furcal via telephone. Perhaps a well timed call to Andre ''I'm So Uptight You Can't Even Take A Picture With Me" Ethier wouldn't be such a bad idea right now. We can't keep relying on Jeff Weaver to keep us in games.

Photo courtesy of MrsRNCJMartin55 via Flickr

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Odd Man(ny) Out

(NOTE: For those of you that don't know, Todd is a long time commenter at the site, and a long time friend. I've asked him to contribute as frequently, or as seldom, as he chooses.)

Roles have reversed since Manny was suspended. For the first month of the season, it was the young power hitters leading the team and putting up monster numbers. Manny, Kemp, and Ethier were the best offensive outfield in the majors. Now the only reason the outfield is productive is due to Pierre playing unreal.

Post Suspension:
Ethier: .120 AVG, 3 RBI, 13K
Kemp: .280 AVG, 8 RBI, 1 HR, 11K

It has been the veterans stepping up and carrying the offensive load, getting clutch hits, and getting on base. Blake, Pierre, Martin, and the consistent Hudson have taken over.

Numbers w/o Manny:
Blake: .425 AVG, 10 RBI, 4 HR
Pierre: .434 AVG, 4 RBI, .492 OBP
Martin: .316 AVG, 2 RBI, .469 OBP

What has caused this change? Is it the kids losing their enthusiasm without Manny's presence in the dugout (and the lineup)? Is it just veterans stepping up to motivate their club? They are still playing great ball, but how long can Pierre keep rolling and Blake keep knockin 'em out? Thankfully the pitching has opposing teams struggling to tally runs.

The entertainment of a 162 game season.

The Dodgers Have Lost Their Minds

And no, it's not because Guillermo Mota is still on the roster.

Rather, this Sunday I have been granted a press credential and will have access to the press box, the clubhouse, the field, and the dugout as I cover the team for this site. To say this is a dream come true doesn't even begin to describe what I've been feeling all week. Several other sites (SOSG and True Blue LA) have been granted access as well, and while I'd like to say they are/were just as excited as I am I don't think that's possible.

Shortly after the game my fantasy camp continues as I have been invited to appear on Dodger Talk with Josh Suchon and Ken Levine at 6:30pm PST. Each Sunday they share the airwaves with a different Dodger blogger as part of their ongoing 'Better Know A Blogger' series. You can turn your dials to 790 KABC, or listen online at

Please pass along any questions you want asked, or places you've always wanted to see. I'll do my best to cover it. Keep checking in on Sunday as I'll be posting live all game long, complete with pre-game and post-game interviews.

I started this website back in November 2008, and to think that in six short months I'm being granted access that once took years to earn...well, I'm speechless. I'm humbled. I'm honored. I'm scared out of my mind.

I'll leave you with something to think about, from Josh Rawitch at Inside the Dodgers...
As for the team, it's hard not to get overly excited about how well we're playing. It's even harder to fathom playing this well without our Opening Day starter, superstar left fielder, setup man of the year, and with so many of our guys still searching for their consistent strokes. But sometimes you just don't ask accept it, appreciate it, and remember it when things turn the other way.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Meet The Mets, Meet The Mets, Step Right Up And Sweep The Mets

On a night when the Dodgers offense wasn't firing on all cylinders the pitching staff provided all the sparks needed as they combined to hold the Mets to a single run. Jeff Weaver held his own once again as he allowed one earned run in five innings. Ramon Troncoso threw two scoreless frames, Brent Leach notched his first major league win, and Jonathan Broxton came in to save it in the ninth. With the win the Dodgers move to 17-3 at the Ravine, above and away the best in baseball.

Andre Either failed to tally a hit once again; however, a run scoring sacrifice fly and a late inning walk soothed the frustration- if only for a night.

Regardless of the victor tonight's game was most enjoyable for me as I got to attend it with my Dad. We only get one or two games in each year, and each game spent together never disappoints. Perhaps it's because he passed along the Dodger tradition to me that he learned from his Dad, or maybe it's because he always buys the Dodger Dogs. Either way, the games with Pops are always the best.

Photo Courtesty of AP/ Mark J. Terrill

Anyone Want To Go To A Dodger Game?

Long story short, I've got one Dodger ticket for tonight's game (5/20) against the New York Mets. The seat is in Loge 162, Row J.

All you have to do is leave a comment stating you'd like to go. A winner will be chosen by random drawing at 4pm PST. We will meet at the stadium and I'll pass it off.

The only drawback is that you have to watch Jeff Weaver pitch.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dodgers Blessed By Church

UPDATE: Check out Big League Stew's take on the game. For those of you who didn't get to watch the game last night, listen to Scully giggling like a school girl (thanks to BLS for the link.)

Sometimes the gods smile down upon you. Ironically enough tonight, those "gods" came in the names of Church and Pagan. Tonight's 3-2 victory over the New York Mets was wildly entertaining, despite an ugly night for Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, who went a combined 0 for 11 with 11 men left on base. However, that was only an afterthought to an even uglier game for the New York Mets. From ESPN...
Errors by Gold Glove center fielder Carlos Beltran and fill-in first baseman Jeremy Reed in the 11th inning cost the New York Mets, who had the go-ahead run taken away on an appeal play in the top of the inning as the Los Angeles Dodgers sneaked away with a 3-2 victory Monday night.

They are a major league-best 27-13 overall, and 14 games over .500 for the first time since finishing the 2006 season 88-74. New York blew a chance to take the lead in the 11th on a play that was right out of the Mets' 1962 playbook. Ryan Church singled with two outs against Ramon Troncoso and came all the way around on Angel Pagan's drive to the fence in right-center. But Church missed third base with his right foot and the Dodgers retired him on an appeal play.
It was all uphill from there as the Dodger quickly loaded the bases in the bottom of the eleventh, and watched the Mets, despite five infielders, literally throw the game away on an infield grounder to first base.

A win is a win, even if it's ugly and embarrassing. Five errors is ugly, and intentionally walking Juan Pierre (two games in row no less) takes embarrassing to a new level.

Photo Courtesy of AP/ Gus Ruelas

Minor League Madness

AAA - OF Jamie Hoffmann, 24, was promoted from Double-A last week to replace Xavier Paul. Hoffmann recorded at least 1 hit in 5 of his 6 games since being promoted. This is his 2nd time at the AAA level, the 1st time coming briefly in 2006. We'll continue to keep our eye on him as his career progresses, let's see how he takes to the hitter-friendly PCL this time around.

AAA - RHP Charie Haeger tossed 15 innings allowing just 3 ER last week he also struckout 14 and walked 7. Haeger, 25, is a knuckleballer who has bounced around with the White Sox and Padres. In his career he has logged 34 IP in the big leagues and he has a 6.35 ERA to go along with it.

AA - RHP Jesus A. Castillo, 24 going on 25 years old, was tabbed as the Southern League Pitcher of the Week. Castillo's line from the week: 13 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 10 K, 2 BB. On the season, Castillo had struggled before last week. Here's his current season line: 1-3, 5.03 ERA, 24 K, 16 BB in 39.1 IP

AA - 3B Josh Bell, 22, showed signs of life with the bat last week. In his last 4 games he has 7 hits in 15 at-bats including his 2nd homer of the season. The switch-hitter is listed at 6'3", 235 lbs. Here's his season line: .298 AVG, 2 HR, 20 RBI, .417 OBP, .865 OPS, 27 k / 24 BB in 34 games.

A-Advanced - RHP Jason Schmidt continues to attempt a comeback. This week was nearly historicial as Schmidt made 2 starts. Here's his line from those starts: 1-1, 2.25 ERA, 12 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 12 K, 7 BB --- It's worth noting that Schmidt threw 100 pitches in his 2nd start, a sign that his durability is improving... Rumor is that his velocity is not.

A-Advanced - RHP Chris Withrow, 20, was drafted with the 20th overall pick in the 2007 draft. Injuries limited Withrow to just 13 IP in his first 2 seasons. This season Withrow has struggled, especially in May where he has given up 12 ER in 7.1 IP. The Dodgers have expectations for this kid and will have to find a way to get him back on track. Here's his sseason line: 2-3, 7.18 ERA, 35 K, 14 BB in 26.1 IP.

A - C Tony Delmonico, 22, is a converted infielder drafted out of Florida State last season. Delmonico has a promising bat for a catcher and he showed some of that potential last week. He has collected 9 hits in last 18 at-bats including a 3-hit game on Staurday. Last year Delmonico hit .340 in 40 games in rookie-ball, here is his line this season: .331 AVG, 3 HR, 18 RBI, .439 OBP, .939 OPS, 35 K, 23 BB in 36 games --- Delmonico tends to strike out a lot, but when he puts the ball in play he is hitting .453 (aka BABIP - batting average on balls in play).

I'm Giddy

At the onset of the 2009 season the sports bettor inside of me curiously checked the 'Odds to Win' lines for the NL West. Shocked to see the Dodgers going off at 8-5 odds I wagered $100 on them to finish in first place in the NL West. After all, nearly every major media outlet had predicted the Dodgers would finish first in the division in 2009. And they're never wrong, right? Anyway, as I explained earlier...
It’s not that I feel the Dodgers will win the NL West THIS season (which I do), but if the upcoming season were run eight times over, the Dodgers should have no problems claiming victory at least three of those times- and that’s all it takes for this bet to break even.
I don't mean to toot my own horn, but things are looking awfully rosy at the moment. Take a look.

  • Dodgers have a 6 game lead in their division, the largest in baseball.
  • Dodgers have scored the second most runs in all of baseball, while allowing the fewest as well.
  • Dodgers, who are 14-3 at home, get to play 15 of their next 22 games at Dodger Stadium.
  • Juan Pierre is playing out of his mind.
  • Guillermo Mota apparently won't be pitching unless it's a blowout.
  • The Dodgers are doing all of this while a key player (Ethier) isn't firing on all cylinders.
  • The Dodgers are throwing out lineups that look like this, and still scoring 10+ runs.

Can you understand while I'm giddy? What was once a 1.6:1 wagering advantage (meaning for every $100 bet you would gain $160) has now dipped to 1:20 (meaning for every $100 bet you would gain $5)...

And in the end, it's not even about the money. After all we are talking about $160, which I would most likely use for playoff (World Series?) tickets. It's just nice to see the Dodgers performing so well. As a fan, that's all you can ask for.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

"Go, Go, Go!"

There was only one thing on my mind after reading Kensai's excellent piece at Fire Ned Colletti Now about break times, pop times, stolen bases, and the like. Maury Wills.

In 1962, Wills posted a number synonymous with Dodger baseball when he racked up a then record 104 stolen bases. Chants of "Go, Go, Go" echoed throughout Dodger Stadium as Wills raced around the Ravine, bringing excitement and astonishment to Los Angeles. From Sid Ziff of the Los Angeles Times...
Maurice Morning Wills may soon become as famous as the Thief of Bagdad. He's stolen more bases (39 when the article was written) than seven of the nine clubs in the National League. He has the catchers so jittery he's been getting a lot of his steal lately on wild throws. These catchers throw all right ordinarily, but Wills has them so excited because they know what's going to happen, that they heave the ball in all directions.

Dodgers manager Walter Alston refuses to way Wills is his most valuable player. "I'd have to name the whole squad," he says diplomatically. "But Wills would be the hardest to replace. In fact, it would be impossible."

"None of us can run like Maury," notes Dodger catcher John Roseboro. "He's just fabulous."

"Suppose you were catching and Wills took off for second, what would you do?" he was asked recently.

"I think I'd probably throw to thrid," said Roseboro thoughtfully.

Wills ranks No. 1 in popularity witht he fans. He has only to get on first base to start them whistling, cheering, and urging him to "Go, Go, Go."

He rates over any slugger in the leauge now as an attraction.

Thanks to Wills, people are willing to overlook the drop in home run production in Chavez Ravine.

"We'd rather see Wills and Willie Davis run any time than watch home runs," the fans have been advising the club.
Columnist Melvin Durslag elaborates on Maury Wills through speaking with Bob Purkey, ace of the Cincinnati pitching staff. Purkey (23-5, 2.81 ERA in 1962) passes on the praise...
"If a pitcher lets Wills bother him, there will soon be runners on first and third, instead of only on first, because the pitcher won't concentrate on the batter, who will smack him for a hit. I try to play Wills exactly as I played in the Coliseum. In other words, I pitch my own and and don't alter my game to fit anything, or anyone, in particular."

Purkey said assuringly that Wills will steal on anyone, but that the pitcher must keep his composure when Maury is on base and level his attention on the man at bat.
Well, so much for that plan. Continues Durslag...
The game started, and Wills opened with an infield single. He took a lead off first. Purkey studied him cautiosusly. He ran him back. Maury took another lead. Purkey ran him back. Maury stepped out again. Purkey ran him back again.

Purkey tried a pitchout. Wills didn't go. Wills led off first once more and stood poised, simply starting at the pitcher. Purkey, from a set position, stared back. Chin rested on his left shoulder, Purkey studied him for an uncommon period of time. Wills stood statue like. Watching this cat-and-mouse game, the crowd boiled with suspense.

Finally, Purkey pitched- and Wills lit out for second. The throw was made, but Maury beat it. The stands exploded with cheers. It was a show that was pretty hard to top- and the game had only just begun.

Pitchers, like Purkey, develop enormous contempt for Wills. In a game with the Mets last week, Roger Craig irritably made 13 (13!) throws to first base, chasing Maury back. Since Wills dives headlong, he had to get up each time and dust himself off.

More pitchers would do this, except that they're ashamed. It is, in effect, an admission by a strapping guy that he is being troubled by a midget like Maury.

Freddie Hutchinson, the manager of Cincinnatti, was asked the other night if there were any special stratagem for coping with a runner like Maury.

"The catcher is helpless," says Hutchinson. "If Wills gets a jump, a catcher couldn't shoot him out with a rifle. The pitcher can't do much either, because in a guessing game with Wills, he doesn't know what Maury is going to do. So, my instructions for preventing his steals are simple- don't let him get on base."
Unfortunately for Hutchinson's plan, Maury Wills also tallied over 200 hits that season, on his way to winning the 1962 NL MVP award, narrowly edging Willie Mays. However, Wills glorious season did bring out the word most baseball fans cringe at today. Asterisk. Although, this was for a different reason than what you might think. From Wikipedia...
While Wills had broken Cobb's single season stolen base record in 1962, the National League had increased its number of games player per team that year from 154 to 162. Wills' 97th stolen base had occurred after his team had played its 154th game; as a result, Commissioner Ford Frick ruled that Wills' 104-steal season and Cobb's 96-steal season of 1915 were separate records, just as he had the year before (the American League had also increased its number of games played per team to 162) after Roger Maris had broken Babe Ruth's single season home run record.

Both stolen base records would be broken however in 1974 by Lou Brock's 118 steals; Brock had broken Cobb's stolen base record by stealing his 97th base before his St. Louis Cardinals had completed their 154th game.
Regardless off pitchers, catchers, or asterisks Maury Wills was a premier attraction in Los Angeles in the 1960's. From 1960 - 1965 he led the league in stolen bases, and in 1962 he tallied more individual stolen bases than every other major league TEAM. Hall of Famer or not, the impact that Maury Wills brought to Los Angeles, and to baseball, will be remembered for generations.

Friday, May 15, 2009

It's Times Like These I Wish Tony Jackson Was Around

UPDATE 2: OK, I'm finished.

But who needs TJax when you got CBlake...

"He knows he made a mistake. I forgive him," Blake said. "It's his business."

"I don't think anyone was really looking for" an apology, Blake said. "It was something he wanted to do and I think it was heartfelt."

Ramirez spoke for a few minutes, and teammates -- other than greeting him and shaking his hand -- did not ask any questions, said Blake, who declined to say what words Ramirez specifically used during his address to the Dodgers.

"I think in Manny's case, it made him feel better just to get in front of the team," Blake said. "I think it was kind of a big load off his shoulders just to greet the team again."

"He was a guy concerned about his team and his teammates," Blake said. "I know he feels bad. Everyone knows how he's feeling. It was just nice to see him again and I think it was nice for him to see us again."

EARLIER: From Ken Gurnick...
Suspended outfielder Manny Ramirez held a brief meeting with manager Joe Torre, Dodgers teammates and coaching staff at the club's hotel Friday afternoon.

About a dozen players and staff gathered in the hotel lobby and headed for the elevators together just before 1 p.m. ET. Ramirez was not seen in the lobby. The players returned by 1:08, many of them then heading to the ballpark for Friday night's game against the Florida Marlins. Torre is expected to address it with media before Friday night's game.

"He's sorry, remorseful," said Andre Ethier. "It is what it is."

A dozen players AND staff? Are the players making a statement of their own?

Curious Marketing

I don't

I don't really have an argument "for" or "against" in regards to this one; however, I don't think the red "9's" are there to advertise the price...
Starting May 18, get two Field Box tickets and two limited edition 90090 t-shirts for just $99 in honor of the new Dodgertown, California zipcode - 90090.


• Tickets available for games starting May 18; subject to availability
• 2 Field Box tickets in section 51 or 53 (left field Field Box)
• 2 90090 t-shirts (voucher to be redeemed at Team Store in left field)
• Just $99!

To purchase tickets click the "Buy Tickets Now" button below. Once on the schedule page, click the T link next to the game you'd like to attend. Select the number of tickets you'd like to purchase next to "90090 FIELD BOX SEATS", and then click the "Look for tickets" button.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Goodnight Rumblings

Not that a pitchers "wins" matter, but was there ever anyone less deserving of a win than Jonathan Broxton? Here are the pitching lines from todays victory over the Phillies...

Billingsley 7.0 3 1 1 4 9 0 2.30
Wade (H, 4) 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5.06
Broxton (BS, 2)(W, 4-0) 1.0 2 2 2 1 3 0 1.59
Troncoso (S, 2) 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1.99

The pitcher (Bills) that allowed 3 hits in seven innings while striking out nine? Well, he gets a pat on the back. The pitcher (Broxton) that blew the save by allowing 2 runs in one inning? He goes down in the books for all eternity as "winning" the game. I think the BS in Broxton's line should go right before the W.

According to ESPN, Manny Ramirez will speak to the team tomorrow in Miami.

Please check out this post at MSTI. Classic.

Rise And Shine, It's Dodger Baseball Time

Your marquee matchup, courtesy of
Chad Billingsley, Los Angeles Dodgers (5-1, 2.45 ERA)

Billingsley gets his rematch with the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, seven months after his playoff debacle. In his last start, he took his first loss by allowing the Giants three runs in seven innings, after five innings of a scoreless duel with Barry Zito. Billingsley wasn't as sharp as he was in most of his five wins, as the Giants had baserunners in all but one inning with eight hits and four walks. The Giants scored on two sacrifice flies and an infield single.

Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies (1-2, 6.17 ERA)

The last time Hamels faced the Dodgers, he picked up the win in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, earning MVP honors in the process. Hamels has had rotten luck this season, but pitched well and without incident Friday against the Braves, allowing just three hits and two runs in six innings to pick up his first win of the season. The Phillies are hoping it is the jump start Hamels needed to a better 2009.
Bills needs to win this one, and get the media off his back for last October. He was very good all of last season, and has looked exceptionally well to start 2009; however, he can't seem to escape what happened in Philadelphia over seven months ago. A win here would go a long way.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Taking Notes Jayson Werth?

Now THAT'S how to stick it to your former team. From Joseph Santoliquito...
Dodgers left-hander Randy Wolf was masterful in holding the Phillies to three hits in Wednesday's 9-2 victory before 45,273 at Citizens Bank Park.

The win snapped the Dodgers' two-game skid and the seven-game losing streak they had at Citizens Bank Park against the Phillies, dating back to Aug. 23, 2007.

Wolf, meanwhile, mowed down the Phils, making just one mistake -- a second-inning solo homer by Jimmy Rollins. Wolf also yielded two doubles to Carlos Ruiz. Otherwise, he had arguably his best start of the season, going six innings, giving up three hits and striking out eight. Wolf, who threw a season-high 113 pitches, never allowed more than one baserunner in any of his six innings.

Meanwhile, James Loney channeled his inner Wally Moon and rang up his first round tripper of the season to put the Dodgers ahead for good. Congrats to Loney, but, as evident by his head-hanging after making contact, that would have been just another fly out (345 ft.) in most parks. I don't mean to rain on Loney's parade, but lets be honest.

Russell J., you're up.

In the "Terrible Timing For A Slump" department we turn to Andre Ethier who, since the suspension of Ramirez, is hitting .103 after going 0 for 5 tonight. 27 RBI's in 35 games speaks for itself; however, for someone who many (ok, me) thought would carry the team in Ramirez's absence it's somewhat of a minor letdown.

Regardless, the Dodgers once again posses the best record in baseball. Don't forget about tomorrow's 10:05AM PST pitching matchup of Chad Billingsley and Cole Hamels. Glad I got the day off from work.

Still Deflated

The first thing I thought about this morning when I woke up was Chan Ho Park. Chan Ho Park! It was funny seeing him in a red uniform; however, it wasn't very entertaining watching the Dodgers struggle against a pitcher whose fastball resides in the 80's, and sports an ERA over 6.00.

If that wasn't bad enough the guy over at Dodger Blues commented about Andruw Jones' success so far this year. Andruw Jones, the player that the Dodgers are paying until 2050, (ok, so 2014) is currently hitting .315 and reaching base at a .479 mark. Not only that, but his OPS (1.071) is higher than any active regular starting Dodger. The one inactive player with a higher OPS? Yup, Manny Ramirez.

Again, the season is long, and while I doubt we've seen the lowest in-game moments, it's outright deflating to watch a former Dodger steal for the cycle.

For a non-Dodger perspective, check out 'Duks Big League Stew. Forgettable indeed.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I did something tonight I haven't done in a long time. After Jayson Werth caught the Dodgers napping with his theft of home plate I turned the game off, and tallied an 'L' for our boys in Blue. It was the first time I had written them off this season, and the last since...gulp...Matt Stairs.

When you walk the opposition eight times and subsequently allow six stolen bases while tallying ZERO for yourself in either category...well it's not hard to figure out who's going to be the victor. From Joseph Santoliquito...
Giving up eight walks and six stolen bases doesn't help. Most of the free passes came from starter Clayton Kershaw, who took the loss to fall to 1-3.

At times, the lefty showed good stuff, like setting the Phillies down in order in the second. At other times, he didn't, like serving up a two-strike fastball in the fourth to Raul Ibanez, who slammed it for a two-run double.

"The kid had real good stuff tonight, but he walked [four] guys tonight and these guys will eat you alive with [four] walks," Torre said. "Maybe sometimes you can get away with it, but against giving up walks to good clubs [like the Phillies] is like giving them extra outs."

But mostly, Kershaw stung himself. In the Phils' third, which began with Kershaw issuing walks to Pedro Feliz and Carlos Ruiz, was a portent -- and Kershaw knew it.

"That inning I gave up a run, you can't walk the first two batters, because you're bound to give up some runs," Kershaw said. "I felt good tonight. That is a good-hitting team, but I can't make pitches like the fastball to Ibanez with two strikes on him."

Catcher Russell Martin wasn't getting much help, either. The Phillies had stolen a total of 12 bases this season. They ripped off six against the Dodgers, four alone coming from former Dodgers outfielder Jayson Werth, who stole home in the seventh.

I'm trying to stay patient, trying to remind myself that it's a six month marathon, and trying to forget about Manny Ramirez. No such luck yet.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Minor League Madness

AAA - OF Jason Repko, 28, seems like a man on a mission for the Isotopes. Early in the season he was slugging homeruns but hitting for a low average. Last week Repko started firing on all cylinders tallying up 14 hits in his last 29 AB's, he's also hit safely in every game this month. Repko's season line: .296 AVG, 8 HR, 21 RBI, 11/13 SB, .982 OPS

AAA - 2B/3B Blake DeWitt is also making the most of his time in the PCL. On Friday DeWitt hit his 1st HR of the season. Over the course of the week he posted a 4-hit game, a 3-hit game and 2-hit game. In 13 games this season: .360 AVG, .448 OBP, 1.068 OPS, 8 K/8 BB --- 8 of his 18 hits have gone for extra bases.

AA - 2B/3B Tony Abreu is playing again! In 2 games this week the once promising prospect has 1 hit in 6 AB's. The 24-year-old switch-hitter has battled a flurry of injuries over his brief career, the latest being in the groin area. Let's hope he finally gets back on track.

AA - LHP Scott Elbert has struggled in his brief stints as a reliever in the majors, but right now he is stretching his arm out as a starter for the Lookouts. Here's his line in 4 starts this season and remember that he is still one of the most talented arms in the system: 1-0, 1.42 ERA, 19 IP, 16 H, 7 R, 3 ER, 24 K/7 BB

High-A - RHP Tim Sexton had a fine week. Here's his line from 2 starts: 15 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 7 K, 4 BB
---Sexton, 22 in June, was drafted in the 25th Rd in 2007. After a promising start to his career in rookie ball, he struggled last season in High-A. He seems to be fairing better against the league so far this year. He is 1-2 with a 2.75 ERA in 36 IP.

High-A - RF Scott Van Slyke is locked in right now. Drafted in the 14th round in 2005, Van Slyke is the son of former All-Star Andy Van Slyke. After struggling with Inland Empire last season the 22-year-old has been spectacular in the league this season. In the month of May he is hitting .489 (22-45), 2 HR, 12 RBI. Here's his line from the season: .379 AVG, 4 HR, 22 RBI, 1.039 OPS, 29 K /5 BB

High-A - CF Trayvon Robinson continues to rack up the hits this season. He posted 6 multi-hit games last week! Here's his season line: .346 AVG, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 24 R, .372 OBP, .931 OPS

A - OF Kyle Russell has been mentioned on this blog before and after hitting 5 HR last week he deserves mention again. Let's note that Russell, a feast or famine hitter, is off to a wonderful start but he is a bit old for the league and will likely be promoted soon. Here is his still impressive line on the season: .330 AVG, 9 HR, 30 RBI, 1.087 OPS, 14 BB / 28 K in 30 games

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Where Have You Gone Hong-Chih Kuo?

Our eighth inning bullpen collapses turn their frustrated eyes to you.

Unlike myself, I hope most of you were able to spend Mother's Day with your Mom thus avoiding the 5 hour letdown that was today's Dodger game. With my own Mom being hours away I was saddled with the unfortunate company of Guillermo Mota...
Unfortunately for the Dodgers, however, the ride ended on a low when Guillermo Mota allowed a two-run single to Randy Winn in the 13th inning of the Dodgers' 7-5 loss in front of 37,529 at the stadium.

"We battled," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "This game is all about personality and this ballclub wants to win badly. But unfortunately you have to fight your way back from disappointment."

The disappointment came because the Dodgers made a comeback in the 12th to tie the game at 5 with a solo home run by Blake off Giants closer Brian Wilson after Mota allowed a run in the top of the inning.

It was a potentially momentum-changing home run, but the Dodgers weren't able to capitalize and lost the game the next inning.

"The home run was nice because it kept the game alive, but then we lost a tough one," Blake said.

Mota was the culprit in both innings, and it started in the 12th when he allowed Rich Aurilia's sacrifice fly with the bases loaded to give the Giants a one-run lead.

In the 13th, Mota loaded the bases again with one out after Rafael Furcal couldn't get the ball out of his glove on a hit by Steve Holm, and Winn followed with a two-run single down the left-field line for two runs.

The lesson as always...Mom > Guillermo Mota

Not really related to the bullpen but is there anyone hurting more from the absence of Manny Ramirez than Andre Ethier? Since the Manny Incident, Ethier is 2 for 19 with zero RBI's while stranding 10 men on the base paths.

A Gentle Giant

You've no doubt heard the names of the legendary Dodgers of the 1960's. Koufax. Drysdale. Wills. However, you don't often hear about Frank Howard, 1960 Rookie of the Year and key contributor to the Dodgers success in the first seasons at Dodger Stadium.

In July 1962 he was named the NL Player of the Month after tallying a tremendous 41 RBI's. It was during that month he caught everyone's attention...

Everyone in town is wildly excited over the way Frank Howard has been hitting except the player himself. He's taking it all in stride. He says baseball's a funny game.

"One week you're hot and one week you can't do anything right," Howard says. "I've been swinging a hot bat. I just hope it keeps up. I think playing regularly helps but I can't really explain it. I wish I could. I'm waiting longer and I'm seeing better, I think that has been the biggest factor. But otherwise, I'm not doing anything different."

"A man can worry too much. It isn't good to climb too many vines at a time. Rome wasn't built in a day. It takes several years for a hitter to develop. Baseball is the only game I know of where a guy can fail seven times out of 10 and still be a big man."

A tremendously powerful man, 6ft. 7 in. tall, Howard appears to be going for the fence on every swing.

"That isn't the case at all," he says. "I don't go all out on every swing. That's when you get in trouble. It is the nice, smooth, easy, quick strokes that get the best results."

"The few I've hit real good were when I swung real smooth. It's not how hard you swing, but how quick you are that counts in hitting."

Noted for his tape-measure home runs, Frank says they always come as a surprise to him. "I never know, I just lower my head and run."

Advised that Vin Scully had gone into ecstacies over him on the last Dodger road trip, Howard had a modest answer. "I think he might have been a little prejudiced."

Scully continues to call attention to Howard's "tremendously strong arm," and claims the big fellow is doing everything right, even throwing from the outfield with accuracy. Ever the modest man, Howard responds, "I only wish I had a strong arm. Mine is just average or a little above. It doesn't compare with Mays' or Colavito's. As for accuracy, I just hope to throw in the general direction of where I aim."
In 1962 Frank Howard batted .296, belted 31 home runs, and drove in 119. However, after a drop in production the next two seasons, Howard was traded to Washington. From Wikipedia...
In 1963 his production dropped off to a .273 average, 28 homers and 64 RBI; but the Dodgers won the pennant, and his upper-deck solo home run off Whitey Ford broke a scoreless tie in the fifth inning of Game 4 of the World Series, helping Los Angeles to a 2–1 win and a sweep of the New York Yankees. He again hit over 20 home runs in 1964, and on June 4 his three-run home run in the seventh inning provided all the scoring in Sandy Koufax's third no-hitter, a 3–0 defeat of the Philadelphia Phillies; Howard had also homered for the final run in Koufax's first no-hitter on June 30 two years earlier, a 5–0 win over the New York Mets. But the team's 1962 move into spacious Dodger Stadium did not favor power hitters, and their speedier outfielders Tommy and Willie Davis were seen as more in line with the club's future; Howard's .226 batting average in 1964—combined with regularly high strikeout totals—led to his trade to Washington in a seven-player December deal which brought Claude Osteen to Los Angeles. In 2005 Howard recalled welcoming the trade despite going from a pennant contender to a weak expansion team, noting, "I was essentially a fourth outfielder in L.A., hitting 25 home runs a year in the biggest baseball park in America and doing it on 400 at-bats." He added, "What could I do if I get 550 at-bats?"

What could he do indeed? Howard went on to tally 36, 44, 48, and 44 dingers in his first few years in the nation's capital. A 4 time All-Star, Howard finished in the top 10 in MVP voting 4 times over his career.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Get The Mute Button Ready

Today's Dodgers/ Giants game will be broadcast on FOX, and will be seen by a national audience. Gee, I wonder what the announcers are going to talk about?

Also, it appears Torre will rest Furcal, Martin, and Blake once again. Which means we are throwing out a lineup consisting of Juan Pierre, Juan Castro, Blake DeWitt, and Brad Ausmus. I don't see runs aplenty in the forecast today, only adding further fuel to the fire for the broadcast team.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


As if the top of the 8th (again!) wasn't cruel enough, it just HAD to be Juan Pierre grounding out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the frame.

Then the top of the 9th.

Then the bottom of the 9th.


And to think, here I am agonizing over a single loss, in early May, while still holding a commanding lead in the division. I need help.

The New 'Next 50' Project

Dodger fans got a sucker punch of the cruelest kind today, with the news that Manny Ramirez has tested positive for a banned substance and will be forced to sit out for the next 50 games. While one person doesn't make up a team, a team can certainly be defined by a single individual. That's what Manny Ramirez was to this club. The confidence, the bravado, the calmness that came with failure, and the undeniable clutch factor the team has carried itself with can all be dated back to Ramirez's arrival last summer. The intangibles he brings to the plate (no pun intended) simply don't exist in the, or any, player replacing him.

The Porsche has been towed away, and in it's place now resides a Pinto.

We've lost the Dreadlocks of Doom, and have been left with the Naughtiness of Noodle Arm.

So, what's next? As Doc pointed out in an earlier post, "time to see if the young core can seize the moment and play up to their abilities." Ethier and Kemp already hold their own; however, if the Dodgers hope to even remotely continue their 2009 success then Russell J. Martin and James Loney need to step up RIGHT NOW. Timely pitching would be in order as well, but for the moment the issue is replacing the offensive output that will subsequently decline now that the lineup has lost its golden boy. After all, how do you replace someone who's been getting on base at an astounding .492 clip?

It would be nice to see what Xavier Paul can do, although I'd be surprised if we saw him start in more than a handful of the 50 games. I've yet to read anyone that doubts him; however, I don't think Torre has the courage to write him in enough times to truly gauge his value.

The bottom line is Manny F 'ed this one up pretty bad, and it's up to the team to pick him up. Might an unsung hero fill the void? Only time will tell.

Now About That Doctor...

While out picking up my Mother's Day card on my way into work I was greeted with this text from a friend, "Sad news about Manny." My first reaction was the hamstring. Boy was I wrong.

Really, I'm at a loss for words. All the air has been let out of my balloon. Until I can gather my thoughts...

Manny Suspended 50 Games

By Ken Gurnick /

LOS ANGELES -- Major League Baseball suspended Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez for 50 games on Thursday for use of performance enhancing drugs.
Major League Baseball made an official announcement shortly after noon ET.

Ramirez, who turns 37 on May 30, will begin the suspension with Thursday night's Dodgers-Nationals game. He would be eligible to return around July 3, depending on rainouts.

Ramirez -- an 12-time All-Star who immediately became the face of the Dodgers franchise upon his acquisition last summer -- is the biggest name player to be issued a 50-game suspension under the MLB's more stringent drug policy that was adopted in 2006.

According to the drug policy, a player receives a 50-game suspension for a first positive drug test, a 100-game suspension for a second positive test and a lifetime ban for a third positive test. The suspensions are without pay.

Ramirez re-signed with the Dodgers as a free agent this spring to a two-year contract that was to pay him $25 million.

Ramirez has been a key component in leading the Dodgers to the best record in baseball this year. In 27 games, he is batting .348 with six home runs and 20 RBIs. He is among league leaders in slugging and on-base percentage and has become the biggest drawing card the Dodgers have had since Fernando Valenzuela, even recently having a portion of the left-field box seats rechristened "Mannywood."

Juan Pierre would be the immediate replacement for Ramirez in left field, while the Dodgers are expected to promote rookie Xavier Paul from Triple-A Albuqueruque to replace Ramirez on the active roster.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Time to see if the young core can seize the moment and play up to their abilities. I have no doubt in my mind that Xavier Paul should be starting over Juan Pierre in left field.

How will McCourt react to all of this? Will the Dodgers shun him or will they welcome him back to the team after the 50 games? If and when Manny comes back, how much of his previous success will be attributed to the PED's? And will he still produce like he did before the failed test? Obviously his Hall of Fame status is in serious doubt.

Dodger fans can hold out hope that Manny's side of the story will check out.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Oversized and Overjoyed

Upon arriving at the stadium for my first Dodger game of 2009, I took a moment to wander through the merchandise tents located outside the gates. Ever the thrifty shopper my eyes gazed over to the clearance rack and were met with quite the bargain indeed!

There were Dodgers vs. Phillies NLCS shirts, lots of Derek Lowe leftovers, and an assortment of other clearance worthy items. However, this shirt took the cake (literally)...

Further inspection revealed the word "authentic" on the price tag. While I was half expecting the shirt to actually cost $36 million it was indeed offered at the advertised price of just $10. What makes it so authentic you ask? I kid you not..

4X! So many jokes...

Jeff Weaver be damned, this made my day. However, after entering the stadium things just kept getting better. While Orlando Hudson saved the day on more than one occasion Jeff Weaver settled in nicely, after allowing a leadoff double, and held the Diamondbacks to a single run over five innings. The Dodgers notched their twelve season opening victory at home in as many games, tying an all time record previously held solely by the 1911 Tigers.

Say what you want about facing the NL Weak, but 20-8 feels REALLY good. How good? This about sums it up...

On Top, But Still Looking Up

After last night's win against the Dbacks, the Dodgers are boasting the best overall record in baseball. 19 wins, 8 losses, and a 11-game home-winning streak. You would never know it though, judging from the media coverage they've been receiving. I'm wondering if this is just still the west-coast cold shoulder effect that we've accused the media of before, or the fact that LA really hasn't played against serious competition. It could be a combination of both, but for now, I'm containing my excitement over their hot start to '09.

Of course, I'm thrilled to see the Dodgers beating up on the NL West, but it's safe to say that we'll know more about these group of Dodgers after the next few weeks. The Phillies, Marlins, Mets, and Cubs are on tap in this month of May and should really test the toughness of The Blue.

As for now, they go for 12 straight home-wins tonight against the Dbacks. I'm sorry Todd, but Jeff Weaver just might beat out Jason Schmidt for comeback player of the year.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Minor League Madness

AAA - LHP Shawn Estes continues to pitch well for Alberquerque. Last week he turned in 2 quality starts, pitching 12 innings without allowing a run. Estes basically matched what fellow veteran lefty, teammate Eric Milton, did the week before. Here's his line in 5 starts this season: 1-1, 1.80 ERA, 18 K, 6 BB in 25 IP.

AA - RHP Josh Lindblom rebounded from his worse outing of the young season with 2 good showings last week. Here's his line from those starts: 1-0, 10 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 5 K, 0 BB. It appears the promising pitching prospect is back on track.

AA - RHP Jesus Rodriguez is finding success in the bullpen this season. He hasn't allowed an earned run in his last 4 outings totaling 8 innings in the process. At 23, Rodriguez has split time as both a reliever and starter in his career. After a promising 2007, he struggled last year after being promoted to AA. This season he has been an excellent option for Jacksonville. Here's his line: 2-1, 1.04 ERA, 17.1 IP, 17 H, 2 ER, 9 K, 2 BB, 1.56 Groundout/ Flyout ratio.

AA - RF Jamie Hoffmann is swinging a hot bat right now. The 6'3" 205 pound outfielder is 24 years old and in his 2nd full season in AA. In the last week he had 3 multi-hit games including a 5-5 outburst last Tuesday. On the season: .308 AVG, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 21 R, 16 BB, 15 K, .973 OPS (2008: .278 AVG, 10 HR, .745 OPS)

A-Advanced - CF Trayvon Robinson appears to be finally coming into his own. At 21 years old, Robinson is in his 2nd full season playing High-A ball. The switch hitting table-setter has been an extra-base hit machine this year with 3 HR, 8 doubles and 3 triples. On the season he is batting .327 in 24 games. It will be interesting to see if his power continues to develop. He has never hit more than 4 HR in a single season.

A - 2B Jaime Pedroza is off to an excellent start in 2009. In his last 5 games: .591(13-22), 2 HR, 7 RBI. Pedroza is 22 years old and at 5'8" we hope he can be a Dustin Pedroia clone. However, Pedroza is very vulnerable to the strikeout. Here's his line from 2009: .358 AVG, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 6 doubles, 26 K, 13 BB, 6/10 SB in 22 games.

Something To Think About

I was away during the departure of our beloved Tony Jackson, so you'll have to forgive me for not mentioning it here. Plus, it was covered wonderfully elsewhere, so no need to rehash right? However, I read something this morning from Tom Hoffarth of The Daily News that inspired me to comment. The article has some very insightful and kind words in regards to not only the dismissal of Tony Jackson, but the state of newspaper columnists. It's worth a read. Also, there is a really funny picture of Tony Jackson (I'm pretty sure that's him) passed out in the dugout. Thanks to Diamond Notes for the link...
Any thoughts on Tony Jackson? What, the sports media guy not having any thoughts on sports media? Or is it that management said "mums the word?"
-- A comment left by someone named "earteaga31" on a blog posting Friday, which had nothing to do with the post itself.


And how are you supposed to respond to something like that?
Let me sleep on it another night. Tony would understand.
Another collegue is asked -- told -- to give up a spot on a team that they love playing for, pack up his stuff, and go home. But first, come to HR and sign some paperwork. Then you can leave. Hope that Cobra insurance helps you with all the Prozac you may be needing over the next few months.
Dear emailer: There's nothing holding back the survivors of this pending shipwreck from coming out and expressing more remorse over the fact that the people who we aim to please most -- the readers, especially those who've stuck by us for years and years -- continue to find a product that's just not the same as it was a week, a month or a couple of years ago.
Nor is there anyone telling us not to talk, write or cry about another person on the staff who was let go because ... there are many reasons, they tell us. As if throwing more ballast overboard will keep this life raft from taking on more water.
Our Dodger guy, Tony Jackson, doesn't have to worry about killing himself any more trying to get you information. Those who decide such things have given him freedom to pursue other options.
The most frustrating feeling by those of us employed in the L.A. sports media, as we come to realize there is now only two reporters fulltime on the beat covering the Los Angeles Dodgers -- and one of them works website only, for -- is that the reader gets, by far, the short end of this deal.
And we're all the worst for it. OK? Thanks. Now go back to hiding behind your anonymous commenting about the world around you.


Hey Tom,
Thanks for the mentions. Good things happen to good people. Not that you would know.
P.S. To think they let go of a quality columnist like Steve Dilbeck and kept the likes of you. No wonder the Daily News is on life support.

-- An email from a Southern California media member, whose name was withheld to respect the privacy of the correspondence and the embarassment of the statement, after last February's annual ranking of the best and worst of the L.A. media.


content_sports.jpgIt gets tougher and tougher, and sadder and sadder, each day to love something that doesn't want to seem to love you back.
Or to even accept emails from those like the ones above without wanting to fire something right back, return the punch. As if it will make things better.
You take a deep breath, scratch your head, consider the source, and move forward.
Or try to, at least.

Those of us left paddling in a circle, as it sometimes feel, feel like our lifejackets keep slipping off our shoulders. We huddle up, as a good team does, and try to figure out how to tie a rope to each other and make survival last a few more weeks. Because no matter when you think that last tidal wave has come, there's another on the horizon.
Meanwhile, don't miss deadline, find something interesting to write about, and get those photo assignments in a timely manner -- granted, if there are photographers left who can work with you on that story.

Our jobs aren't that much different from yours, really. Hopefully, you still have one. If not, we feel your pain, anguish, fears and frustration.
Those of us still working for the sports section are here because we want to be. And we'd have wanted it more if those who we worked with on a regular basis were able to stay as well.

The sports section is very much a team project. We help each other with resources, bounce ideas off each other, argue, agree, argue more, see something that's a great story and try to figure out how, as a group, we can cover it best.
When those pieces of the team continue to leave -- either voluntarily, because it's just too hard to take another punch in the but, or by reason of financial reality -- it makes the team project even tougher to commit to. Team players, whose who are willing to do more than just cover one beat that they were hired to do in the first place, become those asked to stay, for their versatility.
Because, for example, they can copy edit one day, write another, and help try to console departed members the next.


mban1119l.jpgI'd throw up a few more well-intentioned but much-uninformed emails at this point, very similiar to the ones above, but I'm hoping you get the message by now. This is supposed to be a teaching moment, not one lamenting the mortar we have to avoid from our foxholes each day.

We grew up reading the newspaper sports section for all it had to offer. We see it now, and while it can still serve up some great information, opinions and basic information, all of which can also be found on the Internet for less than 50 cents a read, we try to understand, as a co-reader, why this doesn't make sense.
We're not good business people. We're sports writers. We accept the rather low pay (despite what you may think) and what few perks there are (again, despite what you may think) for the fun of working for the reader.
What does the reader want? We don't think of you as the consumer, or "what will sell" (again, despite what some may want you to think). We want to write about things you'd enjoy reading about.
If you see it in the newspaper, great. If you find it on the website and are able to link to more resources, even better.
If we could figure a way to do that, and keep our jobs, even better.

Because as soon as another one of us is told by someone in the management position that, unfortunately, we can't afford to have you on our team any more, we go back to becoming just a reader instead of a contributor. And, as a reader, we also wish we could read more and find better stories to entertain and inform us. Just as we remember back in the days when we'd look forward to the newspaper arriving on our driveway with a thump.
The internet, and blogging, is an amazing resource to keep people informed as quickly as possible. The newspaper's sports page can be the place for stories that compliment and suppliment that immediate medium of transferring information. But not if we don't have enough players left on the team.
We'll keep trying. Believe us. We're in this for the good, as well as the bad.
We love this job. We keep grinding and try not to whine so much.

feature_consult1.jpgIt's just tougher, every day, to feel like we're spending most of our energy and focus on things that just shouldn't be stuff you need or care to worry about.
We're not going down without a fight. We care about it too much at this point to throw up our hands and just walk away.
Just so you know ... or is that too much information?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

How Sweet It Is

Having been outside of California the past week only makes it that much more enjoyable to sit and watch the Dodgers for the first time in as long. Not even a starting lineup of Juan Pierre and Juan Castro can dampen the quest for 10 in a row.

Image Courtesy of Hemin8r via Yahoo! Images

Friday, May 1, 2009

James Loney

Playing a position that is normally reserved for power hitters, Dodgers 1B James Loney has yet to get his power stroke going this season.

So what?

One month into the season and James is off to a fine start.

.313 AVG, .423 OBP, .810 OPS, 0 HR, 16 RBI, 16 BB, 4 K, 6 Doubles

It looks like Loney has improved his plate discipline, most evident in his 3 walks with the bases loaded this season. And although he doesn't pose much of a power threat his opposite field approach is conducive to a high batting average. The real question is whether or not he will be able to keep pace with his April BB/K ratio. Only time will tell if his improved eye at the plate is a sign of things to come or just a fluke.