Friday, July 31, 2009

Pitching On The Mind

If what we saw tonight from George Sherrill (1.0 IP, 3 Ks, 1 BB) represents his true modus operandi, then it appears the Dodgers have bolstered their 'pen immensely.

If what we saw tonight from Jason Schmidt (6.0 IP, 1 hit) ever happens again, I'm repenting full force 'cause Armageddon can't be far behind.

Not The Trade Everyone Had In Mind

Where there's a whale to be had the Dodgers are busy catching minnows. Claudio Vargas has just been traded for a 29 year old minor league catcher from the Brewers. From the press release...
The Los Angeles Dodgers today announced that they have acquired minor league catcher Vinny Rottino from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for right-handed pitcher Claudio Vargas. Dodger General Manager Ned Colletti made the announcement.

Rottino, 29, has appeared briefly in the Major Leagues for Milwaukee in each of the past three seasons and was named to the Pacific Coast League All-Star team last season when he posted a 24-game hitting streak. The Wisconsin native has made the PCL All-Star team each of the past three years and has been named to his league’s All-Star team in each season dating back to 2004 when he recorded a team record 124 RBI for Single-A Beloit.

Vargas, 31, spent much of the 2009 season on the disabled list with right elbow tendinitis before being activated on July 3. Since returning to the big leagues, he has appeared in eight games for Los Angeles , posting a 1.64 ERA in 11.0 innings. The Dominican Republic native will be returning to Milwaukee , where he won 11 games for the Brewers in 2007. In seven big league seasons, the right-hander is 46-40 with a 4.89 ERA in 172 games (114 starts).

Rottino is expected to report to Double-A Chattanooga.

Vargas was actually putting up decent numbers this year. (11 IP, 10Ks, 1.00 WHIP, 255 ERA+, 8.2K/9) I know a roster spot had to be cleared for George Sherrill, but why couldn't it have been Jason Schmidt? Although perhaps the minnow will now be used as bait to catch the whale.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A New Addition

As you've heard by now the Dodgers acquired George Sherrill from the Baltimore Orioles for prospects Josh Bell and Steven Johnson. MSTI raves about the trade, but Dodger Thoughts does not.

I've always said that a great measure of information can be gained from the fans, the ones that live and breath with every pitch. Here is what a few Oriole blogs are saying about the departure of Sherrill...

Around the Harbor

Sherrill is a fan favorite here due to his "exciting" closing ability and his flat cap, but as much as we love him, he was not part of the Orioles future. Obviously MacPhail does not want to trade every good player will value that is over 30, but Sherrill was valuable.

Dempsey's Army
Geroge Sherrill, Oriole closer and wearer of the flat-brim is gone to the Dodgers for a couple minor league prospects. How long until we see "Sherrill-wood" signs at Chavez Ravine? Hard to believe that a flamboyant personality like Sherrill will not be embraced in L.A. Georgey being Georgey.

Camden Chat (comments section via Brian S)

He gave me heartburn sometimes, but he always seemed like he had a good attitude and wanted to be here. That’s something. Flip your brims up one last time, O’s.

Camden Chat (comments section vis UMterp08)

I love you George. Pray that Torre doesn’t criminally abuse that arm of yours.

Camden Chat (comments section via Bad Horse)

I liked Sherrill as an Oriole, even if he was Mr. Excitement some of the time. The cold calculus, however, is that he’s 32 and much more valuable to a contending team this year than to the Orioles, who are looking to be competitive in a couple of years. It’s always sad to lose a fan favorite. Now go and dominate the NL West, George.

So it seems we got a likeable, and sometimes nerve-wracking set-up man. Can't wait to see him pitch tomorrow when Schmidt goes all of 2 innings and turns it over to our tired bullpen. As for the deal itself, well, I guess we'll check back in a few years. I don't think you can, with 100% certainty, hand down a verdict on a trade involving prospects until those players stories have been written.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Down And Out In St. Louis

Looking back, what didn't tonight's game have? Well, outside of a hit from Russell Martin.

There was a dominating pitching performance from Clayton Kershaw, game saving defensive plays from Manny Ramirez, blown saves from Jonathan Broxton and Ramon Troncoso, multiple outs at home plate, an appeal play at first base, a tense playoff atmosphere, a walk-off hit by the opposition, and more ups and down than Paris Hilton doing the...well, I think you know where I'm going with that one.
"This was just a tough game," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "But it was a remarkable game on both sides."

Both teams had several chances in extra innings in a game that lasted 4 hours, 53 minutes and included 453 pitches.

"By my count, there were about three different games," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "Heroics all over the ballpark on both sides."
From the broadcast booth Eric Collins and Steve Lyons were quick to proclaim this an instant classic. It certainly was. A classic Dodger letdown.

Photo Courtesy AP/Jeff Roberson

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

August 1st Can't Come Soon Enough

As if the Cardinals 10 runs didn't echo loud enough, Joe Torre was busy making a statement of his own. Here's hoping Colletti and Co. weren't watching.

The problem, for the second game in a row, lied with the offense, not the person on the mound. Even if that person was Mark Loretta.

Tonight's game represented a personal low for the season. That confession withstanding, I also acknowledge that while the Dodgers are going through a tough stretch of games they also sit at 62-38, far better than most would have predicted at the onset of the season. The recent thumpings account only for a small amount of turbulence in what has otherwise been an enjoyable ride. Despite dropping three straight for the first time all season the Dodgers record in the past ten games is still a very respectable 6-4.

Stay the course, Ned. There's no need to do something drastic.

Other Blogs Remaining Calm: Sons of Steve Garvey, Memories of Kevin Malone, Dodger Thoughts.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Brace Yourselves

I can already see the Bills (Plaschke and Shaikin) foaming at the mouth with an "I told you so" swagger. Surely if the Dodgers had Roy Halladay, the Bills will write, he would have shutout the Cardinals. The single run scored by Los Angeles would have been enough for the victory since the Dodgers finally had a true "ace" on the mound. The Cardinals wouldn't have piled on the runs at the expense of McDonald, Leach and Mota because Halladay would have tossed a complete game, figuring he's already camping out all night.

The 4 GIDP's, including two by Manny? Nonsense.

The 20 men left on base? Irrelevant.

After all, with Halladay on the mound the Dodgers are already guaranteed to win the World Series, so how hard can a game in St. Louis (where the Dodgers are now 3-15 since 2004) really be?

That extra bullpen arm the Dodgers so desperately seek? I think we found him.

Best Dig Yet?

Hat tip to the fans in St. Louis. Best one I've seen yet.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


I remember reading an issue of Golf Digest awhile back in which Jack Nicklaus was asked what made him so successful for so many years. Jack responded, "I gave it all I had, all the time. That's the mark of a champion."

Despite trailing 8-0 in yesterday's loss to the Florida Marlins the Dodgers fought back and managed to send the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning. Though victory would elude them they kept grinding, and failed to throw in the towel.

Something to think about as the Dodgers begin a tough four game stretch in St. Louis.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bill Shaikin Done Lost His Mind

I'm about as fed up with Roy Halladay trade talks as the next guy. However, some things warrant a mention. A few weeks back LA Times writer Bill Shaikin suggested offering Russell Martin in a package for Roy Halladay. As if that wasn't absurd enough check out his latest gem...
The Dodgers say they won't trade Clayton Kershaw or Chad Billingsley. We say they ought to swallow hard and consider trading Billingsley to the Toronto Blue Jays if needed to get the Halladay deal done.
Put the gloves down folks. He's got a very rational explanation for his genius suggestion. Oh wait, he doesn't...
And Halladay would come with a contract that expires in 2010. McCourt loves short-term contracts, particularly for pitchers. What could be better than an elite pitcher on a 14-month contract?
How about two damn good pitchers pitchers that are due about $5 million COMBINED next year. Additionaly, the Dodgers have financial control over Bills and Kershaw for several more YEARS, not a minuscule 14 months.

Shaikin even goes as far to explain how the Dodgers could afford Roy Halladay...
The Dodgers have received $11.1 million from the insurance company already [in regards to Jason Schmidt], with another $9.3 million under dispute, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court.

Let's say the Dodgers do not collect another dollar in insurance. Let's remember the Dodgers saved $7.7 million when Manny Ramirez forfeited 50 days of pay during his suspension for violating baseball's drug policy.

Granted, some of that money is deferred. But add the payments from the insurance company to the savings from the suspension, for a grand total of $18.8 million. That all but covers the salary for Halladay, for this season and next.
And then promptly contradicts himself in the very next sentence...
But that would presume all that money would be available for player salaries, and [team president Dennis] Mannion said that would not necessarily be true.

McCourt would re-invest that money in the Dodgers rather than pocket it, Mannion said.

"It could find itself in player development," Mannion said. "It could find itself in player acquisition. It could find itself in our medical and training systems. It could be re-invested in the development of more fan services."
Why even put that quote in there? You just contradicted your entire previous argument.

That Dennis Mannion guy sounds pretty smart. Bill Shaikin, not so much.

Scully Recalls BobbleSlam

Three days later I'm still thinking about Manny's incredible slam.

I was in attendance for the moment, so I didn't get a chance to hear Vin Scully's call. Turns out, there wasn't much of one. From Ken Gurnick...
"After he hit it, I didn't speak for a long time", Scully said, 51 seconds, according to FSN producer Brad Zager. "That put me around the Henry Aaron call [in 1974, breaking Babe Ruth's all-time home run record], when I shut up and let the crowd tell the story. The thing about Ramirez, it was like a bolt of electricity. It was something that couldn't happen, and it did. And the camera does such a better job. On radio, I'd be talking. But on television, we showed a million shots and didn't have to say it. We showed it, including all that was happening in the dugout when Manny got back in there, as well as him bobbing his head and being called out for two curtain calls."
Hidden within the discussion of the BobbleSlam is this gem straight from the master himself...
Scully said the roar of the crowd "got me into this business. I would crawl under the radio with the speaker over my head and the roar of the crowd would come down on me like water out of a shower head."
Visualize that for a second. It'll bring a smile to your face.

Having trouble smiling? Perhaps this will help...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Conan's A Dodger Fan

Last night on the Tonight Show Conan was quizzed about the Los Angeles Dodgers. Conan got most of the questions right...almost as if he was reading the answers off cue cards. Still, he needed help from a Dodger legend to answer the final question.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

He Owns This Town

A man not expected to play. A man that was nowhere to be seen in the dugout. A man that was called upon for a single at bat, in a pressure situation. A man that had 56,000 people stand in unison as he grabbed a helmet. A man, with a single swing of the bat, that sent the Dodger faithful into a frenzy. And an ageless announcer letting the scene unfold and speak for itself. Now where have we seen that before?
Manny Ramirez delivered a stunning pinch-hit grand slam into the Mannywood section of Dodger Stadium on his Bobblehead Night on Wednesday, powering the Dodgers to a 6-2 win over the Reds and a sweep of the series.

Ramirez, who did not start because of a bruised left hand suffered Tuesday night when hit by a pitch, batted for winning pitcher Chad Billingsley in the sixth inning and greeted reliever Nick Masset's first pitch with a screaming liner into the box seats next to the Dodgers bullpen. When Ramirez returned to the dugout, he celebrated by bobbling his head.

Leaving the stadium, somewhere between the tunnels on the 5 freeway, I hearkened back to an old Dodger marketing catchphrase that will keep me smiling for days to come: I was there.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Jury Is Still Out

If there is any adage that's appropriate here it is this: It's not how you start, but how you finish. And while going 5 innings might not classify as "finishing" it appeared for awhile that Jason Schmidt might not clear the first inning. Shocking when you throw 84mph fastballs right over the plate to big league hitters.

With the defense offering no favors for Schmidt in the top half of the first (including a pathetic attempt by Manny Ramirez on a foul ball, and Andre Ethier thinking fly balls have cooties) the offense more than atoned for those sins in bottom of the frame, giving Schmidt the lead before he returned to the mound for the second inning. A lead he, and the Dodgers, would never relinquish.

Sure Schmidt proceeded to pitch four more innings of one hit ball, but it certainly wasn't due to his dominating stuff. With a fastball residing in the mid eighties it's not surprising that of the 90 pitches Jason Schmidt made tonight only three (three!) of them were swung on and missed. His velocity trailed off as the game wore on, and he had a difficult time locating his pitches, which is EXACTLY what a pitcher who throws in the low to mid eighties needs to do in order to succeed.

It's important to not be too critical, or heap on too much praise, after Schmidt's first outing in almost 800 days. With a few breaks here or there Schmidt might have hurled five innings of one run ball. On the other hand however, Schmidt was clearly not dominating, and was very lucky the Reds didn't capitalize further. Until the next start, the jury is hung.

Photo Courtesy AP/Gus Ruelas

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hello Stranger

It's safe to say no one envisioned the story of Jason Schmidt playing out as it has. Before the $47 million had even cleared the bank, the media was quick to anoint the signing of Jason Schmidt prior to the 2007 season as one of the best moves by any club. Three short years later, how perceptions have changed. Schmidt was down, but not out.

There are many things we can accuse Schmidt, and the Dodgers, of in regards to this situation; however, no one will ever find Schmidt guilty of not working hard to find his way back. Sure he's not the same person that disappeared so quickly in 2007, no one is expecting him to be. Yet, unlike the goat that was Andruw Jones, Schmidt spent years rehabbing, years rebuilding, and years tinkering away in the minors. He did it without a single complaint. He figured out what worked, what didn't, and, very quietly mind you, stood strong against the hatred bestowed upon him by the faithful followers that call Chavez Ravine their own.

That in itself has earned the respect of yours truly.

And now, after all those years, he's getting another chance. It's been a long time old friend. Welcome back.

Note To Self

Get into yoga! Don't see a lot of guys around.

Photo courtesy Amber Matsumoto

Friday, July 17, 2009


Astros 8, Dodgers 1

On a night that fireworks graced the post-game sky, the Astros were busy supplying Dodger Stadium with their own brand of amazement and wonder. Chad Billingsley didn't fool anyone, and the Dodger offense, for the second game in a row, was only fooling themselves.

When asked about Chad Billingsley, Torre could only shrug.

"He got the first two outs in five pitches then the roof came down. Right now it doesn't look like he's as sure of himself as he was, will be, and all that stuff. It's going to happen time to time. I'm not concerned about him. We have to turn the page on this."

Bills struggled so mightily than he couldn't even get out of the second inning, being chased after surrendering six runs. Of the pitches that weren't blasted into the gaps, the rest were low and in the dirt. In fact, Russell Martin spent so much time blocking balls in the dirt he could have planted a garden around home plate. The Dodger outfield ran so many miles that jogging exercises tomorrow have been canceled, citing a lack of need.

"We don't have many of these games, we are pretty good. Doesn't mean you don't care or don't want to do it," Torre stated after the game.

"You give Oswalt four in the first it's not really good for your ego. We've had very few of these where a ball club just manhandles us."

The Astros certainly did their share of manhandling the pitching staff. Chad Billingsley was lifted for Jeff Weaver, then Weaver for Scott Elbert, then Elbert for Claudio Vargas; nevertheless, the Astros hit parade continued. Scoring from the press box the Astros scoresheet more resembled a geometry test than a baseball game. When the dust finally settled Dodger pitchers allowed 8 runs, on 16 hits, in their lopsided defeat. Things need to get better in a hurry if the Dodgers have any chance of keeping their streak alive of not losing three consecutive games all season.

"That's our job if we're going to be a first place team," Torre lamented after the game.

"We're going to have to shrug off this stuff. Obviously the break is the break, we were playing really well, right now we are not scoring runs, and tonight we didn't get good pitching."

The Dodgers might have the best record in baseball, and still might be the best team across the board; however, you wouldn't know it from watching tonight.

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

7/17 Pre-Game Notes

Yesterday, I made the prediction that Matt Kemp would be batting eighth after his 0-fer last night. I was wrong- he's not even in the lineup! Also, slightly off topic, but Matt Kemp stated that the drunken ESPY story circulating around is completely fabricated. Interesting.

Without further ado, the lineup...

Furcal, SS
Pierre, CF
Ramirez, LF
Blake, 3B
Ethier, RF
Loney, 1B
Hudson, 2B
Martin, C
Bills, P

Joe Torre arrived in the dugout, assumed his usual spot on the bench, and dispensed the following pearls of wisdom:

Torre is "very confident" in going to Jonathan Broxton tonight. "This is something he's had before, and he's responded well to the [cortisone] shot. He threw yesterday and had no issues as all." Torre did mention however that Broxton previously tried to conceal his injury. "He's tried to pitch through it. He did it in San Diego (his line: 1.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 BB) without telling us, and we sort of pried it out of him in Milwaukee."

Hong-Chih Kuo will continue his rehab by pitching tomorrow in San Bernadino.

As of right now there is no decision on the upcoming need for a fifth starter. "We're still going through it," notes Torre. "We'll have to have one by Monday, and as soon as we make up our mind we'll let you know."

The uncertainty surrounding Cory Wade continues. "Cory wasn't available to us in Milwaukee that last [before the All-Star break] which kind of raised red flags because he had only thrown 15 pitches the day before. During the break, they didn't know exactly what it was. They'll flip flop him back and forth between 'should be alright' and 'you may want to disable him'. It's the shoulder he had some tightness in. It's frustrating for him. He threw about 4 or 5 throws yesterday and couldn't do it."

For those not in attendance last night, believe me when I say that Juan Pierre got a bigger ovation that Manny Ramirez. Joe Torre noticed too. "It was great. To me I pretty much thought it was a tip of the hat to someone who really was a major part of our success while Manny was gone. I wish we could have had cheers after [his at-bat] too."

As stated above, Juan Pierre is getting the start tonight over Matt Kemp. Why you ask? "It's going to be a number of things," states Torre. "Whether someone is struggling, or he has numbers that stand out. Today I came to the ballpark and happened to look at those number [against Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt] and it sort of jumped out at me. You really have to pay attention to have anybody that's had any kind of numbers against Oswalt." Pierre's career slash against Oswalt in 35 career plate appearances is .353/ .371/ .412.

Torre continues to be impressed with the recent performance of Clayton Kershaw. "He's using all his pitches. I think that's the big thing. His change-up has been a better pitch for him. He's been working slider to give him another break ball that isn't one of those 12-6 jobs where he has a little more chance of getting it through the strike zone. I think the change-up has been a big pitch that he is getting swings off of, and that's the important thing. He can pitch to contact a little more."

A little more than an hour 'til game time...

Juan Pierre Is A Machine

Is 3:15 too early to start working for a 7:10 game? Not if you're Juan Pierre.

Two Possible Bullpen Arms

ESPN Insider is reporting the Dodgers have taken a look at southpaw closer George Sherrill of the Baltimore Orioles, and Jason Frasor of the Toronto Blue Jays in attempts to bolster their already impressive bullpen. Sounds like it's time to compare and contrast.

George Sherrill, $2.75 million salary
37.1 IP, 0-1, 2.41 ERA, 1.098 WHIP, 8.2 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 190 ERA+
Those are pretty impressive numbers; however, as usual, they don't tell the entire story of George Sherrill. Further inspection of his career stats indicates OJ Simpson's "I didn't do it" story was more consistent than the career of George Sherrill. Over the course of six seasons (all stats starting in 2004) he's seen his ERA rise and fall ( 3.80, 5.21, 4.28, 2.36, 4.72, 2.41), his WHIP sink and soar (1.394, 1.053, 1.425, .9850, 1.500, 1.098), and his K/BB ratio charted all over the map (1.78, 3.43, 1.56, 3.29, 1.76, 2.83).

Jason Frasor, $1.45 million salary
33.0 IP, 5-2, 2.45 ERA, 1.061 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 176 ERA+
Frasor has been more consistent year-to-year, though not quite as good as Sherrill. He is, however, currently boasting career best numbers in several categories including WHIP, ERA, BB/9, H/9, and HR/9. In close, late inning situations you definitely want a pitcher on the mound who's not prone to giving up either walks or the long ball. His almost 8.0 K/9 ratio is impressive as well, showing he can put away hitters with his arm alone.

Both pitchers are pitching extremely well this year though George Sherrill has shown he's capable of putting up All-Star numbers more than just once, as Jason Frasor is only doing this year. To the contrary, the back end of the bullpen is all about "stuff" and Frasor boasts the better fastball, the better slider, and a bigger repertoire of pitches. Either way it appears both arms would improve the Dodgers bullpen. I'm calling this one a draw.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Way To Go: Randy Wolf

A home run to Humberto Quintero? This dude is straight outta suck city! The same Humberto Quintero who has posted an OPS+ of 43, 51, and 54 the past three years. The same Humberto Quintero who has only 12 more hits than strikouts over his entire major league career. I'm bitter. Still not over this loss.

Way To Go: Andre Ethier

I just got back from the game, and I'm still a little pissed off. Why? F'ing Andre Ethier, that's why. I love this guy with all my heart. He's my favorite Dodger by a mile. But really man? A bases loaded GIDP? 5 men LOB? .191 batting average in the month of July? Why don't you love me back?

Way To Go: Matt Kemp

There's been a giant stink raised about Matt Kemp batting eighth in the lineup. So what happens when he finally got a promotion to 5th and 6th, respectively? 0 for 8, 3K's. Fitting number that snowman, cause he just might find himself there tomorrow.

I Hope Blake DeWitt Has Frequent Flyer Miles

If so, the guy must have earned enough miles for a trip to Europe by now. DeWitt has been called up to the big team once again, as reliever Cory Wade has landed on the disabled list with shoulder bursitis.

Two Games In Two Days

It seems like Manny Ramirez has been back for eons now; however, Ramirez will be seeing his first game action at Dodger Stadium today since his suspension for PEDs. Making my sixth appearance at the stadium this season I'll be sitting, where else, in Mannywood. I feel robbed though as I bought my tickets while the Mannywood promotion was on hiatus, so I don't think any free t-shirts are coming my way.

It'd be foolish to expect anything but rousing applause from the stadium upon Ramirez's pre-game introduction, and subsequent at-bats. Yet, don't look for me to be standing and cheering for the guy. I'll stand and cheer for the Dodgers. I'll cheer if Ramirez gets a hit, or makes a fine defensive play, just as I'd applaud any other player in Blue. After all, I still cheer for multiple DUI offender Rafael Furcal. It is indeed depressing when a player struggles off the field, or gets suspended for 50 games, but I'm quick to forgive. No one will ever accuse me of not being faithfully in love with my team, despite their transgressions.

Finally, I'll be working from the press box on Friday, covering the game for this site, so please check in for all your pre-game and post-game quotes.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Damn You Charlie Manuel

Instead of roaming the outfield in St. Louis, Matt Kemp was forced to spend his All-Star break time perusing the cereal aisle at the local Ralph's. For the record he likes Captain Crunch.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Wonder Why Your Insurance Premiums Are So High?

For the, insurance premiums=bad.

Reliever Rollcall

So Ned Colletti wants relievers? Here are a few, from MLB Trade Rumors...
Just about every team could improve its bullpen and some clubs, like the Marlins and Rockies, are working aggressively to add relievers. Here are some of the names to consider, ordered from highest 2009 salary to lowest.
  • Kerry Wood - He's been a disappointment in Cleveland, and the Indians owe him about $15MM before the end of next year, and possibly more in 2011.
  • Rafael Soriano - Could the Braves get creative and deal Soriano ($6.1MM) or Mike Gonzalez ( $3.5MM), who will also become a free agent this winter.
  • Danys Baez - At $5.5MM, he's an expensive option, but he could help a contender.
  • LaTroy Hawkins - He's been effective in 38 appearances for the Astros, who are still in contention and may hold onto Hawkins ($3.5MM) and fellow reliever Jose Valverde ($8MM).
  • Rafael Betancourt - He's still nowhere near as effective as he was in 2007, but Betancourt's pitched well enough this year; he'll make $3.35MM this season.
  • Russ Springer - He's been hittable, but he can still strike major leaguers out. He makes $3.3MM this year.
  • George Sherrill - Affordable and effective, Sherrill ($2.75MM) is under team control through 2011.
  • Chad Qualls - The D'Backs already traded Tony Pena, so they may be reluctant to part with Qualls, who makes $2.5MM this season.
  • John Grabow - Makes $2.3MM this year, before hitting free agency this winter. He's pitching well, but his control's been off this season.
  • Matt Capps - Like Grabow, he makes $2.3MM this year, but Capps will likely hit free agency after 2012.
  • Juan Cruz - Still tough to hit, but not as effective as last year, Cruz makes $2.25MM this year and more in 2010.
  • Joe Beimel - The 32-year-old lefty makes $2MM this year. He's pitched well, but not quite as well as his 3.57 ERA suggests.
  • Takashi Saito - A relative bargain at $1.5MM plus incentives, especially when you consider the affordable team option for next year.
  • Heath Bell - At an affordable $1.3MM, the All-Star closer would be appealing to many clubs, especially since he's under team control through 2011.
  • Cla Meredith - By far the cheapest option on this list at just $431k, he's had three respectable seasons in a row since his breakout 2006 campaign.
Danys Baez? He was so bad in Blue the first time around. In fact, check out what I said in an email to my Dad back in 2006...

Check out what I just came across in baseball news.

"The Orioles are making a serious effort to rebuild their bullpen, agreeing to a deal with Danys Baez. Baez becomes the second-highest paid setup man in the game now, behind Kyle Farnsworth."

I'm sorry, did they just say "Baez becomes the second-highest paid setup man in the game now?" For what? The dude allowed 30 runs in 49 innings last year!!!! For the Dodgers he blew 9 saves in 16 chances!!! Yeah, someone is definitely getting the SET-UP.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday Thoughts

Recently, Dodgers GM Ned Colletti expressed interest in adding another reliever to the bullpen. “If we’re assuming that everybody’s healthy from here on out, I would say that our top priority would be a bullpen piece, especially somebody with veteran stature," Colletti stated during a recent interview with Seth Everett and Jim Duquette.

As good as the Dodger bullpen has performed thus far it's hard to believe that Colletti feels the need to further improve in that area.

However, in the past week the Dodgers have lost Ronald Belisario and Jonathan Broxton for the immediate future. Additionally, questions surrounding last year's stud, Hong-Chih Kuo, continue to loom further casting a shadow of uncertainty over the relief corps. They'll all be back, sure; however, like every stock broker will tell you, "past performance is not indicative of future results."

Colletti goes on to add, "The number of [starting pitching] names that have been tossed around out there that we’ve made contact with clubs that would definitively make our starting rotation better…it’s a very, very short list. It might be a longer list in the bullpen."

When healthy, you'd be hard pressed to find a better bullpen in all of baseball. But remember, they have to stay healthy. Given the uncertainty regarding several key members acquiring a solid bullpen arm might not be the worst thing the Dodgers could do. There certainly are others traps out there to be avoided.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Key Moment Review

Quite a game. One that had everything, including a tense bottom of the ninth situation. The score was tied at six, two outs, the winning run in Jason Kendal standing on second base, and Ramon Troncoso on the mound. With Ryan Braun (.321, 16 HR, 58 RBI) coming to bat Joe Torre had multiple options.

Option A- Let Troncoso pitch to Ryan Braun
Option B- Have Troncoso walk Ryan Braun, walk Prince Fielder, and roll the dice against Bill Hall
Option C- Bring in Jonathan Broxton to pitch to Ryan Braun
Option D- Have Troncoso walk Ryan Braun, and bring in Jonathan Broxton pitch to Prince Fielder

So which path to take? Let's examine closer. All stats for 2009 season unless otherwise noted.

Option A
Ryan Braun vs. Ramon Troncoso: 0-0 (career)
Ramon Troncoso vs. RHB: .248/.311/.294 average against

Ryan Braun vs. RHP: .294/.373/.502
Ryan Braun with RISP, 2 outs: .450/.500/.950

Option B
Bill Hall vs. Ramon Troncoso: 0-0 (career)
Ramon Troncoso vs. RHB: .248/.311/.294 average against

Bill Hall vs. RHP: .180/.259/.303

Bill Hall with RISP, 2 outs: .250/.250/.250

Option C
Ryan Braun vs. Jonathan Broxton: 1-2, 1 HR, 1 K (career)
Jonathan Broxton vs. RHB: .172/.264/.250 average against

Ryan Braun vs. RHP: .294/.373/.502
Ryan Braun with RISP, 2 outs: .450/.500/.950

Option D
Prince Fielder vs. Jonathan Broxton: 1-3, 1K (career)
Jonathan Broxton vs. LHB: .097/.195/.139 average against

Prince Fielder vs. RHP: .306/.444/.587

Prince Fielder with RISP, 2 outs: .375/.444/.813

Torre ended up picking Option A, and was rewarded by Troncoso who triumphed over an awful at bat by Ryan Braun to push the game into extras. There are things to be said for every option above, but I wasn't convinced any one option was correct (leaning toward Option B though) until running the numbers for Troncoso and Broxton over the past 7 appearances.

Ramon Troncoso
- 9 IP, 1.11 WHIP, 0.00 ERA, .167/.286/.1.67 average against
Jonathan Broxton- 6.2 IP, 1.77 WHIP, 9.45 ERA, .240/.367/.400 average against

On any given day, if all my chips were in the middle, I'd want Jonathan Broxton dealing on the mound; however, based on the way Broxton has been pitching of recent (plus the 1.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K line in tonights game) it appears that Torre simply tabbed the hot hand. Understandable enough.

Speaking of hot hands, what a catch by Matt Kemp to close out the game. WOW.

His bat (.480/.581/.600) in July es en fuego as well!

Photo Courtesy Morry Gash

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Please Joe, I'm Begging You

UPDATE: Guess what just happened in today's (7/9) game? Kemp singles to LF and Wolf bunts him over. Sigh.

STOP BATTING MATT KEMP EIGHTH! The following is just a single reason (there are many) why batting Kemp so low in the order is a mistake.

Matt Kemp has stolen 19 of 23 bases so far this season, good enough for an 82.6% stolen base success rate. You might be thinking to yourself "hey that's pretty good, I would kill to have a player with such assets on the base paths." And you'd be thinking right! Perhaps then you could talk some sense into Joe Torre regarding his lineup for us frustrated Dodger fans. Note the past two games against the New York Mets.

7/7/09 vs. NYM

Top 2nd

Matt Kemp- Single to 3B
Clayton Kershaw- Bunt Groundout (Kemp to 2B)

Top 5th
Matt Kemp- Single to LF
Clayton Kershaw- Bunt Groundout (Kemp to 2B)

7/8/09 vs. NYM

Top 2nd
Matt Kemp- Single to LF
Hiroki Kuroda- Bunt Groundout (Kemp to 2B)

Top 4th
Matt Kemp- Single to CF
Hiroki Kuroda- Bunt Groundout (Kemp to 2B)

Anyone else notice a pattern? What's the point of having a speedster on the bases if you're only going to sacrifice him over every time. Joe Torre is, in essence, neutralizing the stolen base weapon that is Matt Kemp. If you're going to do that, why not re-insert notorious speedster Casey Blake in the eighth spot like you did the first 30 or so games of the year. How did the team fare during that stretch? Oh yeah, 21-9. My bad.

Buster Olney Confuses Me

In a recent article on ESPN, Buster Olney lists who the "real" All-Stars should be. Hilarity ensues...
What follows is what my National League All-Star team would look like...A major standard applied here is that you've got to pick players based on performance in the first half of the 2009 season

Bench: Matt Kemp, Dodgers; Ryan Braun, Brewers; Russell Martin, Dodgers; Adam Dunn, Nationals; Joey Votto, Reds; Chipper Jones, Braves; Brandon Phillips, Reds; Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
It's nice that he included Matt Kemp, but Russell Martin???? Strange pick for the stated criteria of "you've got to pick players based on performance in the first half of the 2009 season."

He then goes on to list the pitchers he'd select...
Tim Lincecum, Giants
Josh Johnson, Marlins
Francisco Rodriguez, Mets
Heath Bell, Padres
Ryan Franklin, Cardinals
Arthur Rhodes, Reds
Nick Masset, Reds
Randy Wolf, Dodgers
Ok, first off Randy Wolf isn't even the best pitcher on his own team!!! What really tickles me though is how he defends his pick of the Wolfman...
Wolf's dominance against lefties has been so extraordinary that I'd use him in a late-inning matchup: Lefties have a .111 batting average against with just two extra-base hits (one homer) in 81 at-bats.
You want someone you can use in a late-inning matchup? How about a guy that actually pitches in the late innings, a guy that sees Wolf's .111 batting average against lefties and thinks to himself, "that guy sucks", a guy who has only allowed ONE extra base hit himself in 72 at-bats. But damn, where are you going to find someone like that.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Johns Do Not Like Manny Ramirez

First, a strike three call (on a 3-2 count with the bases loaded) courtesy of home plate umpire John Hershbeck...

Clearly outside, which let to Manny's protest and subsequent ejection from the game, which let to this rant from ESPN's John Kruk...
"The objection of Manny Ramirez, to me, makes absolutely no sense. Look, if the Los Angeles Dodgers are gonna win that division, and they're gonna go deep in the playoffs they need Manny Ramirez at his best. He had a chance to play ten games in the minor leagues instead he elected to just play five. He had to sit out Sunday's game against the San Diego Padres because he had a little bit of a leg issue. He needs to play more games. To get thrown out when he needs at bats, he needs to get his timing, and he needs to play the outfield to prove to Joe Torre that he's ready to play nine innings...and he gets thrown out in the fifth inning of the game against the New York Mets. It makes no sense. It just goes back to a lot of the stuff that happened in Boston last year. All he care about is himself, he doesn't care about the team, and whatever's best for Manny is best for Manny, and not what's best to help his team win."
Wow. Everyone's on the moral train. I'm pretty sure Manny cared about the terrible call which hurt HIS TEAM. As for going nine full innings, Torre frequently pulled Manny "pre-incident" in late innings for defensive replacements anyway. Plus, it's July dude. Get over it.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Who Are the Ad-Wizards Who Came Up With This One?

To the Giants Promotions Dept: Seriously? This is the best idea your creative think tank can come up with to encourage fans to come to AT&T Park during the summer?

To Jon Miller: You never cease to amaze me with your inflated ego and your biased and unconditional love for the Giants, Barry Bonds, and Joe Morgan. Get a haircut, homer.

To Vin Scully: Thank you for not selling out and giving the Dodgers the green-light to promote yourself over the team.
*photo courtesy of

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Total Meltdown (Almost)

No kidding.

UPDATE: It happens to the best of them though; however, Broxton proves to be the only bullpen arm to falter as the Dodgers come away with the victory on James Loney's game winning home run in the top half of the 13th. Series victory in the books. On to the media circus that will be New York.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Sometimes in life things arise that aren't in the script you've written for yourself. But as we've all found out you're not always the one holding the pen. So whether it be missing 50 games, or missing one game you've waited 50 games for, well life goes on I guess.

Spending time with friends, unlike baseball, doesn't come around every day. As we've learned over the past fifty, no one man is greater than the game. And as I learned last night, no one game is greater than the men and women you call friends.

Be safe today, friends.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Filling The Void, Part 2

Continuing in my investigation of player performance during Manny's absence I could write an introduction paragraph about how great the Dodgers pitching has been, or I could steal a single sentence from MSTI that echoes my thoughts in far less words. Hmmm? Sorry Mike...
The pitching staff, so maligned in the offseason, is statistically the best in baseball, leading MLB in batting average against and ERA, largely on the strength of the most strikeouts of any staff in the game.
Yeah, they've been damn good alright. How good? To the numbers we go. Again, BOLD indicates team best over the past 50 games. Small sample size warnings noted.

Chad Billingsley (11 starts)
71.21 IP, 1.39 WHIP, 8.59 K's/9, 4.42 BB/9, 5 HR allowed, 3.64 ERA, .254/ .342 average against
The ace and workhorse has been stable, but not far and away the best pitcher over the past 50 games. Still, he's the guy you're going to turn to in any situation. The .342 OBP against is just about league average, but frustrating to see for a pitcher who is is above average himself. Nothing wrong with 8.59 strikeouts per nine though.

Randy Wolf (11 starts)
65.2 IP, 1.25 WHIP, 5.94 K/9, 2.62 BB/9, 12 HR allowed, 3.84 ERA, .257/ .312 average against
My goodness that's a lot of home runs (1.65 per 9/IP). Despite the high long ball count he's been reliable and quite a surprise over the course of the season. He's dropped off in strikeouts per nine, but is below his typical ratio of walks per nine innings.

Clayton Kershaw (10 starts)
54.2 IP, 1.32 WHIP, 8.97 K/9, 5.98 BB/9, 1 HR allowed, 2.63 ERA, .193/ .324 average against
Kershaw hasn't been able to extend himself deep into the games this season, but has been pitching very well as of late. 0, 2, 0, and 0 runs allowed in last four starts. The high pitch count (18.38 per inning) continues to plague him and a could be a reason for the almost 6 walks per game he's issuing. The high strikeout count, and a .193 AVG against, proves he's got the stuff, but right now he's his own enemy.

Hiroki Kuroda (6 starts)
37.1 IP, 1.02 WHIP, 8.01 K/9, 1.45 BB/9, 4 HR allowed, 4.10 ERA, .229/ .260 average against
Another pitcher in the 8 K/9 category! Not only that, but how about a 1.45 BB/9 ratio to boot. Huroda has been hit hard as of late (8,7,4,8 hits) in his last four appearances, but I think the jury is still out until more starts can be made. Let's check back in September.

Jonathan Broxton
23.2 IP, .99 WHIP, 14.35 K/9, 3.49 BB/9, 1 HR allowed, 3.04 ERA, .165/ .245 average against
As if anything I say in this space will do Broxton justice. Let's just be thankful we didn't seriously go after Trevor Hoffman and move on.

Ronald Belisario
30.1 IP, 1.03 WHIP, 7.77 K/9, 3.29 BB/9, 0 HR allowed, 1.19 ERA, .185/ .267 average against, 1 possible DUI
Before the start of this season Belisario had never even pitched above AA. But that hasn't stopped him from being one of the bullpen standouts thus far. He hasn't sniffed an ERA below 3.00, well ever, but that hasn't stopped him from throwing up a 1.19 over the past fifty games. He owns the seventh/ eighth inning and has no doubt been valuable in helping the Dodgers amass a 17-8 record in 1 run games.

Guillermo Mota
24.1 IP, 1.04 WHIP, 5.97 K/9, 1.86 BB/9, 2 HR allowed, 1.96 ERA, .230/ .266 average against
You know things are going good when Guillermo Mota is posting numbers like those. One run since May 22 only helps the cause. High leverage situations or not he's been all business recently. Part of a manager's job is to place the player in a position to succeed, and it seems Torre has finally figured out the right time to call upon Mota.

Ramon Troncoso
32.2 IP, 1.52 WHIP, 6.14 K/9, 4.75 BB/9, 2 HR allowed, 2.48 ERA, .271/ .365 average against
Another gamer at Torre's disposal. He's mentally tough and doesn't often run into trouble. A valuable asset to the team.

Brent Leach
16.2 IP, .98 WHIP, 7.77 K/9, 3.88 BB/9, 1 HR allowed, 3.45 ERA, .164/ .270 average against
Surprise of the bullpen thus far? Possibly. After a tough second appearance on May 7th (2 earned runs in 0.0 innings) Leach has been almost un-hittable. Our resident lefty specialist rarely goes a full inning, but has been impressive each time out. Here is his game log in regards to hits since May 26th. 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0. A specialist indeed.

A quite impressive bunch. And that doesn't even factor in guys like Jeff Weaver, Eric Stults, Eric Milton, and Corey Wade who have been serviceable in certain spots. Despite scoring 3.57 runs per game in June, not to mention a lone run in yesterdays win, the Dodgers are able to remain competitive thanks in most part to their pitching, which figured to be a mess heading into the year. The return of Manny Ramirez should provide a boost to the offense, but let's not forget the real savior(s) of our season so far. Kudos to our starters, but a standing ovation to our bullpen.

And So It Begins

We've circled his return date on our Dodger calendars. We've watched the team maintain control of the NL West since his suspension. We've seen the circus following his rehab stint in the minors. Now, we wait one more day to see him in Dodger Blue down in San Diego on the eve of July 4th.

It would be hard to argue that even in his absence, he still commands attention. Not only the attention of Dodger fans, but of all fans of baseball. Like it or not. While the city of L.A. prepares to embrace his reinstatement, the rest of the country is ready to pounce on this man and tear apart any credibility or integrity he may still possess. I don't speak for everyone at ROB, but i know that i'm struggling with the thought of baseball purists calling this season a tainted one for the Dodgers. What did i do wrong to deserve having my team ridiculed and slammed for one player's mistake? I won't give excuses or try to reason as to why he violated the league's drug policy. I shouldn't have to. That's his problem. If he decides to remain silent on the subject, the figurative elephant in the room will need to find a bigger house to reside in. (Howard Cole of currently has a great piece posted on this very topic.)

The next few weeks (hopefully not months) will be riddled with boos and creative signs seen in ballparks across the country that attempt to take away the success enjoyed by the Dodgers thus far this season. To these "fans" that take pleasure in this, go ahead, get it out of your system because we all know that if he were on your team that's what you would expect, right?

*-Original image courtesy of

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I Am Such An Idiot

Thanks to fellow ROB'er Nat I was in attendance during Wednesday's 1-0 victory over the Colorado Rockies. The game was flying by, and then quite literally a foul ball off the bat of Casey Blake was flying in my direction. I leaned one seat (which was empty) to my left and held up my hand in anticipation. To say the ball hit me square in my palm is like saying Babe Ruth was a good baseball player. But then, in the cruelest of moments, the ball spun out of my hand and into that of the guy next to me.

Disbelieve and dejection soon followed. Why didn't I use two hands to catch a ball like my Dad taught me in Little League? I suck.

Filling The Void

The other day while looking back on some old posts at this site, a few sentences surrounding the suspension of Manny Ramirez stood out...
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.
With Ramirez set to return to action soon, what has time told us? Who, if anyone, filled the void over the past fifty games? Stats below over past 48 games. Bold numbers indicate team leader.

Russell Martin
.250/.384/.303/.686, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 26 K's, 30 BB
A quick glance at OBP makes it appear Martin is holding his own during Manny's suspension period. However, when you see that his SLG is lower than his OBP (only player on the team to do so) it brings to light just how much Martin is struggling with actually HITTING the ball.

James Loney
.278/.328/.412/.740, 5 HR, 29 RBI, 27 K's, 15 BB
"Big Game James" seemingly earned that reputation on a handful of games over the course of his career, not games played this season. Loney hasn't played to his ceiling at any point in the season, though perhaps we've come to expect greater things from a player with such a moniker. This season marks the third straight year where James has posted declining numbers in OBP, SLG, and OPS.

Orlando Hudson
.269/.327/.363/.690, 2 HR, 24 RBI, 42 K's, 18 BB
Through 50 games this season, Hudson was posting an all star line of .349/.421/.921. Sadly he's fallen back to earth as of late with just a .269 OBP and .583 OPS. Still, he's played better than what I believe people had in mind at the seasons onset. What has been lacking with his bat as of late has more than been forgotten about thanks to his fine defense all season long. The Dodgers pitchers might want to chip in and get him something nice at years end.

Rafael Furcal
.225/.299/.319/.618, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 28 K's, 17 BB
The biggest disappointment thus far in 2009. Nagging injuries? Mental pressure? Not much else to say here, lets move on.

Casey Blake
.327/.379/.543/.922, 6 HR, 33 RBI, 30 K's, 15 BB
Here's what I said back in December regarding the signing of Casey Blake...
"While he may not put up great numbers he provides a veteran presence and brings a professional attitude to the game. I think this is a great deal for the Dodgers."
The veteran presence and professional attitude are still there, but hot damn, Blake is putting up good numbers too. While no one saw it coming Casey is having a career year (at age 35 no less) and is on pace to tally career highs in most offensive categories. Sure his team leading 33 RBI's during Manny's absence aren't any kind of reflection of a hitter's true worth, but Blake's .922 OPS over the past fifty games carries noticable weight. Especially when he usually resides in the .700's. His work with the leather has been superb as well.

Juan Pierre
.325/.390/.422/.813, 0 HR, 21 RBI, 17 K's, 16 BB
A torrid start has been replaced with the Juan Pierre of recent years, but lets not discredit Pierre's accomplishments during the past fifty games. His OPS of .813 ranks him 3rd on the team, behind only Casey Blake and Matt Kemp. Factor in the 20 stolen bases and Juan has been pleasant surprise during his time roaming left field.

Matt Kemp
/.380/.481/.861, 7 HR, 24 RBI, 42 K's, 16 BB
Kemp has been stable, never too high, never too low during the past fifty games. Yeah he still strikes out a lot, but he's also hitting the ball all over the field. Take away Andre Ethier's three home run game and Kemp would be leading the team in home runs during the duration we are measuring. And oh boy, the defense. A gold glove just might be in his future, and I'm talking about this year.

Andre Ethier
.229/ .302/.453/.755, 9 HR, 25 RBI, 40 K's, 16 BB
A hideous start (.133/ 2.29/.167 ) during the first fifteen games of Ramirez's departure have left Andre still trying to catch up to pre-Manny suspension levels. He's done much better since the initial out of the gate stumble (.282/.344/.609) and has been making the ball the cry (1.337 OPS) over the last handful of games.

With the exception of above average, but not superstar, play by Blake and Kemp, you'll notice most players staying in check with their career norms. No single player has claimed outright dominance on the team, but with the lineup listed above perhaps no one had too. Sure there have been bright spots, and tough times have been no stranger, yet in the end it's been 9 guys banding together and putting forth a team effort. An effort that has been an outright joy to watch.

Tomorrow we'll turn to the great equalizer, starting pitching.