Monday, August 31, 2009

Hello Lots Of New Friends

During tonight's game, Vin Scully announced the Dodgers have acquired both Jim Thome and Jon Garland. Jim Thome comes at the expense of a player to be named later, as does Garland. Those "player to be named to later" trades sometimes involve a player buried deep within the organization, so it doesn't appear the Dodgers are giving away their first born or anything, though Colletti was extremely tight lipped during his interview on air after the game regarding which players it might be.

UPDATE: Via Dodger Thoughts..."Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports that Dodgers gave up 26-year-old Class A non-prospect Justin Fuller for Thome and cash."

The acquisition of Thome gives the Dodgers a legitimate power bat off the bench, but not much in the way of a platoon with James Loney (Colletti admitted this much on Dodgers Live after the game). A lot of people might complain that Thome strikes out frequently; however, he is averaging 100 walks over the past thirteen seasons, so it's not as if he's blindly hacking away at the plate as evident by his .375 OBP. Considering what was given up, this is certainly a win for the Dodgers.

As for Garland, we've covered him before, and absolutely nothing has changed. I'm not expecting much from him for the remainder of the season. However, if Garland teams with Vicente Padilla and Charlie Haeger to provide some rest for Bills, Kershaw, and Wolf as they prepare for the playoffs then that should ease some of the concern over this move. But if it turns out we gave away anyone of value then I'll be singing a different tune.

Oh yeah, there was also a Dodger game today. But let's not talk about that.

Hello Old Friend

From ESPN...
Right-hander Brad Penny cleared waivers Monday and will sign with the San Francisco Giants, sources said.

Penny, 31, is 7-8 with a 5.61 ERA this season, and 101-83 in his career. He will make a prorated minimum salary with the Giants, and is expected to join their rotation, effectively replacing Joe Martinez.

By signing with the Giants, Penny is set up to pitch against the Dodgers, his former team. The teams are next scheduled to meet for a three-game series starting Sept. 11.

Penny left the team amid bad feelings on both sides at the end of last season.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Reasons Why This Won't Work

From Steve Lyons, analyzing a new pitch that Reds starter Bronson Arroyo is bringing to the table...
He's starting to throw a different pitch that he hasn't really been using a lot of. He's got a good fastball, a good overhand curveball and a changeup, but he's now throwing what they call a dead-fish fastball. All this is really is a batting practice speed fastball. He uses that in situations where guys are looking dead red, looking for the good fastball when they're in hitter's counts, and he just takes a little off and just kinda hums it in there at 83mph and says 'Let's see what you can do with this.'
Why don't they just re-name this pitch the Jason Schmidt fastball? It's certainly more concise.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Boom Goes The Dynamite!

A six run explosion in the seventh inning highlighted an all around explosive performance (FINALLY!) by the Dodger offense. Averaging just a shade over three runs per game in their past eight contests, the Dodgers jumped out early and won going away.
With one swing, Manny Ramirez ended his drought and started a rout.

On this day, most of the Dodgers were good. Rafael Furcal hit a tiebreaking solo shot in the fifth and Orlando Hudson also homered as Los Angeles pulled away. Juan Pierre added three hits, helping the Dodgers pile up 13 overall.
Perhaps the moment that turned it all around for the Dodgers however was Jeff Weaver escaping from a bases loaded, no out, jam in the fifth inning with the Reds trailing by only a run.
"It really hurt to leave the bases loaded with nobody out, especially after we'd just scored four runs," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Then Hudson made that great play on Rolen. If that gets through and we take the lead, who knows what might have happened? That's what happens when you play great defense. It can save teams."
You know what else saves teams? A good bullpen. The Dodger relievers are the best in the majors, and are currently riding a streak of 14.2 consecutive scoreless innings. Boom indeed.

Photo courtesy of Al Behrman

Thursday, August 27, 2009

First Place Ramblings

Matt Kemp's home run was nice, but the highlight of the game for me was Vinny's call of Colorado pitching coach Bob Apodaca's meeting with Jorge De Le Rosa before the at-bat of Mark Loretta in the sixth innning. Take it away Vinny...
And they're going over how to pitch to Loretta.
The guy is sporting a slash line of 1.67/.215/.183 since July 1st, what's there to go over?

Not counting the two run home run he allowed to Kelly Johnson on August 7th, Hong-Chih Kuo has given up all of one run since his return from the DL back in July. His ERA over that time is a cool 0.81.

Not to be outdone, George Sherrill has allowed zero runs since coming to Los Angeles via trade at the end of July.

Today's win over Colorado places the Dodgers four games ahead in the NL West, with a seven game pad on San Francisco for the Wild Card. That's something I think most of us would take at this point in the season every year going forward. The Dodgers made a statement the past two games, but with all the Michael Vick boners popping up at ESPN it's doubtful anyone outside of Los Angeles even noticed.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Dodgers Are Alright

So many stories in this one. James Loney forgetting he is in a slump (2-4, 3 RBI), Andre Ethier's continued dominance over everybody (3-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI), and Randy Wolf stepping up AGAIN when his team needed it the most (7.1 IP, 1 ER). Left for dead by so many, despite still being in first place, the Dodgers responded with authority, and strapped a temporary muzzle on the rumors of impending doom.

Now if only Rafael Furcal could get a hit.
Photo courtesy of Jack Dempsey

Twas a Blue Night, and a Green Day

I too, along with ROB founder Brandon, did not watch a single pitch of last night's heartbreaking loss to the Rockies. He was kind enough to float me a ticket to Green Day's final show of their tour that ended at The Forum in Inglewood. As mentioned in his post earlier, we were both checking the score on our phones during the first few songs. Once we saw the loss unfold on our mobile devices, our attention was then focused on the blaring PA system that was pumping out hit after hit of 4-chord rock.

At one point, i looked at Brandon across the crowd and saw an expression on his face of pure joy. He was in the moment. As you may or may not know, he's a huge follower of Green Day and can recite each and every song in their library word for word. If you don't believe me...try him. It was obvious that he had quickly forgotten about the extra-inning loss and the fact that the Rockies had just shrunk the Dodgers lead in the West to 2 games.

Being the die hard Dodger fans that we are, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that our team is leading the division. Like Brandon, i'm choosing to focus on the positive. It's August 26th, and our team is in first place. That's a good thing. Last night's loss stings, but this team will bounce back like they have all year.

For me, music has always been the healing power that helped me get through life's day to day trials and tribulations. For one night, in the heart of Inglewood, our Dodger blues were cured by the healing sounds of one Green Day.

Dreaming, I Was Only Dreaming

I didn't see a single pitch from last night's deflating loss in Colorado, but was following the game on my phone during the time. The final result was crushing, and the defeat lingered in my mind for a good hour, despite the deafening music surrounding me. As I made my way home the feeling of panic set it, and finally reached a boiling point with the posting of the giant noose seen below. Then, I went to sleep.

Like someone turning on a bright light, it came to me in a dream. I was playing craps in Las Vegas, and was winning big. At one point I recall being up over $10,000, which is about $9,999 dollars more than I have ever made gambling. Drinks were flowing, chips were flying, whoops and hollers were echoing through the casino. Vision of the penthouse suite were dancing in my head.

Then suddenly a cold streak set in. I was putting on a clinic of how to lose at gambling. Further and further my winnings shrank. What was once the insurmountable Mt. Everest of casino chips had become nothing more than a mole hill. I panicked. Lower and lower my chip stack went until I was left with a small profit of $1,000. Discouraged, I left the table and stumbled back to my room, beating myself up the entire elevator ride back. How could I let such a large profit slip away? I slumped down in a chair in my hotel room, buried my head in my hands, and tried to convince myself that a profit was a profit, regardless of how big it once was.

When I awoke this morning the panic was gone. The loss to Colorado still stung, but the feeling of despair, the feeling of failure, had subsided. Perhaps a 9 game lead earlier in the season was too much, a bit too improbable for any team to maintain. The realization that my team is still in possession of first place, albeit by a slimming margin, is sustaining me for today. Should the Dodgers lose tonight, well then who knows? But at least for today I'm sustaining.

Hanging High In The Rockies

The Dodgers are walking to the gallows, and the hangman has donned purple pinstripes to go along with the usual black attire.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Yet Another Reason To Hate The Giants

A walk off grand slam in the bottom of the 14th? Are you kidding me? Thanks for nothing orange and black.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Somewhere a Jason Schmidt Jersey Gathers Zero Bids

And you thought the headline was just a joke. Let's move forward to jerseys actually bringing money in...

After watching Ramirez take horrible angles to a handful of balls hit his way in Sunday's loss to the Cubs, not to mention almost crashing into Matt Kemp on one fly ball, it's understandable why Manny's jersey isn't even the top earner in the Think Cure! auctions. Either that, or the ladies from Andre's yoga classes need restraining orders placed against them. At least I'll know where the money went when my fiance starts hitting me up for cash.

"Bees Everywhere"

Really just an excuse to post a Tommy Boy clip. From the LA Times...
The beautiful sunshine, toasty temperatures and promise of a cold beer and a Dodger Dog inspired more than just Cubs and Dodgers fans to go to Chavez Ravine this afternoon. Swarms of bees made themselves at home in the left-center bleachers not too far from Mannywood at Dodger Stadium.

By the seventh inning of the game the swarm got so large that Dodger security was forced to clear out an entire section of the left field pavilion seats.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

No More Staying At Motel 6

Why a picture of some crappy book by Darryl Strawberry? Only because the same picture of Charlie Haeger is being used all over the internet right now, so I thought I'd pick something that wouldn't appear on any other site. Alright, on to business...

Charlie Haeger, welcome to Dodgertown. After a serviceable start in his first outing (7 IP, 3 ER) Haeger comes back to shutout the Cubs (7+ IP, 0 R, 3 H) his second time around, virtually solidifying a roster spot for the remainder of the season. Even if he gets moved to the bullpen over Vicente Padilla (which for the record I'd be 100% against, and just might leave a flaming bag of dog poop on Joe Torre's front porch if it actually happens) it appears Haeger's cheap motel nights in 2009 are over.

Speaking of over, Matt Kemp hit his second inning home run over EVERYTHING. From Ken Gurnick...
The home run Kemp launched -- measured at 449 feet -- sailed into rarefied territory for Dodger Stadium, completely clearing the back-left corner of the Dodgers' bullpen and bouncing off the elevated walkway behind it.
The ball was hit so far that I lost sight of it from my seat in the infield reserve level. Good times at Dodger Stadium on a Saturday afternoon.

Jonathan Broxton Comes Clean

To being tired that is. From Dylan Hernandez...
Jonathan Broxton acknowledged that the wear and tear of the season is taking its toll on his mind and body.

"We've played 120 games already," Broxton said. "You travel around. You pitch three nights in a row. You pitch four out of six days. It starts wearing on you."
Maybe Broxton's struggles the last few weeks resulted more from a tired arm than a busted toe. Perhaps a lighter pitching schedule over the next two weeks could do him some good. With a crucial series against the Rockies coming up next however, a slight reprieve isn't likely to come anytime soon. Hang in there big boy.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Crusing Along

Over his last three outings Randy Wolf has amassed a cumulative total of 22.2 IP, 5 ER, 18 Ks, and 3 walks. Factor in his numbers at the plate (3-9, 5 RBIs) and it's easy to say he's been the most reliable pitcher for the Dodgers as of late.

On the season Wolf has now totaled 169.2 innings pitched, bringing him within one out before his performance bonuses begin to kick in ($0.5 million for every 5 IP after 170, up to 200). Even if he goes on to collect the full $3 million, raising his total 2009 salary to $8 million, there's no denying Wolf has been a pleasant surprise this season worthy of the extra cash. On pace for career bests in games started, innings pitched, ERA+, WHIP, and K:BB, Randy Wolf has the engine running full bore with no apparent plans of slowing down.

Fun With YouTube

The day after Manny Ramirez hit his Bobbleslam, YouTube was littered with various videos recounting the event. Not quite the same story with Russell Martin's grand slam last night, but there's at least one fan who had the camera rolling...

Good for Russ. Now if he could only learn how to throw out down to second base without the ball ending up in center field.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hiroki Kuroda Is An Awesome Guy

Even from the DL, Hiroki Kuroda is helping the Dodgers. From the press release...
Dodgers right-handed pitcher Hiroki Kuroda will match the first $25,000 raised during tomorrow’s Second Annual ThinkCure! Radiotelewebethon. Kuroda, who lost both of his parents to lung cancer, will make a check presentation tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. in the PRIME TICKET studio in Suite 221 on Level 5 of Dodger Stadium.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I'm Just Sayin'

Player A
4-3, 4.86 ERA, 1.540 WHIP, 1.27 K:BB, .268/.368/.789 average against

Player B
8-6, 4.92 ERA, 1.500 WHIP, 1.40 K:BB, .286/.360/.779 average against

One of those pitchers is Eric Stults, and one is newly signed Dodger Vicente Padilla. Can you spot the difference? From what I've read about Padilla it seems he is loaded with character issues, and is only on the Dodgers because Hiroki Kuroda took a liner off his head. I'd rather have a guy on the mound that has been stuck in the minors practically his whole career, is thrilled to be on the big team, and is willing to do anything to stick around. If only we had someone like that.

Look, Eric Stults could be a class A douche for all we know. He might be hooking up with Jeannie Zelasko on the side. He might be putting itching powder in Ramon Troncoso's jock strap. But if he is, that news isn't being made public. Until then, I'm standing by the good guy that shares identical numbers with the jerk.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

One Month Of Andre

After dipping to a season low slash line of .248/.334/. 802 one month ago Andre Ethier has gone on a tear, and has posted a .390/.478/1.173 line over the past 30 games. In addition to the increase in averages, Ethier has tallied 46 hits and is also drawing walks more than strike outs over the same period. Better yet, he's really kicked it up the last seven games posting a line of .517/ .563/ 1.425.

At the moment Ethier is the closest thing to a sure bet at the plate. However, we all know how streaky he is, which means the inevitable slump is not too far away. Just in time for the Rockies next week.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Outside of two pitches, Charlie Haeger's first start in a Dodger uniform was enjoyable and impressive as he allowed three runs, on five hits, over the course of seven innings. Haeger kept his pitch count low (80 pitches in 7.0 IP), his strike percentage high (61-80, 76%), and dished out zero walks to a very talented Cardinal team. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, the only stat that matters didn't come out in their favor, as they fell to the Cardinals 3-2.

Relying almost exclusively on the knuckleball (75 of the 80 pitches thrown were of that variety) Haeger earned himself the opportunity to fill a spot in the rotation should Hiroki Kuroda miss extended time. Even if Kuroda miraculously misses only a start or two it'd be nice to see more of Charlie Haeger, and less of Jeff Weaver, holding down the fifth spot for the coming weeks. Haeger's place in the rotation might be uncertain at the moment, but if the Dodgers were willing to give Jason Schmidt four cracks at it they owe it to themselves to see what this kid has.

Quick venting here, and then it's bedtime...

Losing to Chris Carpenter wasn't frustrating. Prince Albert going deep wasn't frustrating. After all, those are things you expect to have happen to you when the players above are involved. But seriously, down by a run in the eighth inning why sacrifice Juan Pierre from first with zero outs? It's Juan Pierre standing at first, not Mark Loretta. Stealing bases is one of the few things Pierre does well. Granted he's not an automatic swipe, but at least give the guy a chance. And if you still felt like bunting, what's wrong with having a runner at third and one out? Then a fly ball ties it up.


Photo courtesy of Matt Sayles

Broxton Feeling Fine...Or So He Says

A good article today by Ken Gurnick filling in some question marks surrounding Jonathan Broxton. A small excerpt...
All-Star closer Jonathan Broxton, who has blown three of his past five save opportunities, said he's fine physically after allowing two home runs in a game for the first time in his career on Saturday night.

"We talked today. I asked if it was physical and he assured me he's fine," said Torre. "I told him it's OK to tell us if something hurts. He's fine. That being said, the only difference in him the rest of the season and his recent problem is location of his fastball."

Broxton, whose fastball according to the pitch tracker is down about three mph since he developed a sore nerve in his big right toe, said that past injury is no longer bothering him.
There has been lots of talk surrounding Broxton recently, both supporting and criticizing, and you'd have to image it's been weighing on him too. Uncertainty is in the air, but until the fog lifts I'm giving Broxton the benefit of the doubt. Pitchers are susceptible to slumps, no different than hitters. Who's to say we aren't watching Broxton currently riding his roller coaster for the season.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Statement Game

The offensive explosion was nice, but there's no debate to be had. Today's game belonged to Randy Wolf. Falling a handful of outs shy from a complete game shutout Wolf put the Dodgers on his back when they needed it the most. His performance on the mound (7.2 IP, 3 ER, 10 K's, 0 BB) and at the plate (3-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI) has allowed Dodger fans to exhale, if only for a day.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

I haven't really been in the mood to watch the Dodgers as of late. I don't know why, but the spark hasn't been there for me. Figures I'd pick this game to come back to.

It was well past 11pm before I fired up the DVR, and it wasn't long before the fast forward triangles quickly made an appearance at the bottom of my screen. The game was sailing along smoothly. The Dodgers were in control. And then suddenly everything went south.

Los Angeles was leading by three when Kuroda was hit in the head by a line drive in the sixth inning, and the stunned Dodgers watched the Arizona Diamondbacks rally for a 4-3 victory in 10 innings on Gerardo Parra's bases-loaded single.
It appears as if Kuroda will recover normally as "tests revealed a concussion but no fractures or internal bleeding." That's good news. But losing a starting pitcher for the immediate future, coupled with the continued struggles of Jonathan Broxton (1.0 IP, 2 ER) and Ramon Troncoso (0.1 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 2 BB) is most certainly not. Oh yeah, and there's this...
The Dodgers have lost six of eight and their NL West lead has dwindled to 4 1/2 games over Colorado -- their smallest edge since they led by four games on May 13.
What happened to Hiroki Kuroda was terrible, Jonathan Broxton was horrible, and Ramon Troncoso was no good. Losing ground in the division isn't quite lima beans for dinner, or kissing on TV, but coupled together they all made for a very bad day. If I wake up tomorrow with gum in my hair I'm moving to Australia.

Photo courtesy of Ross Franklin

Thursday, August 13, 2009

More On Martin

I wrote earlier how base-stealers are having more success running on Russell Martin the past two seasons than compared to 2006 and 2007. I concluded by stating I wasn't sure why; however, a recent article by Dylan Hernandez has shed more light on the situation...
In spring training, Martin changed his throwing technique -- upon receiving the ball, he brings the ball directly back to the side of his right ear so that he could release it quicker -- resulting in him nailing 23% of potential base-stealers compared to 19.5% last year. He refines his technique by performing a drill with bullpen catcher Mike Borzello before almost every game.
I'm not sure where Hernandez got the percentages listed above as Baseball Reference has Martin's 2009 thrown out rate at 28% (not 23%), and his 2008 success listed at 25% (not 19.5%). Regardless though of which stats are accurate, I'm not sure I understand why Martin is trying different techniques that result in less success than he experienced in 2006 (31%) and 2007 (33%). I know pitchers have an equal responsibility when it comes to allowing stolen bases, I just find it odd that Martin is trying new things instead of getting back to what worked so well in the past.

Troncoso: "I'll Have What Mota's Having"

They say you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Certainly Ramon Troncoso accomplished that with Dodger fans by posting the following stats from the beginning of the season until mid July...

4/10 - 7/20
59.1 IP, 1.67 ERA, 1.71 K:BB, 1.201 WHIP, .594 OPS against

Strikeout to base on balls ratio notwithstanding, those are some pretty dominating numbers. However, just like Guillermo Mota, Troncoso has been struggling of late.

7/24- 8/12
7.0 IP, 11.57 ERA, 1.33 K:BB, 2.571 WHIP, 1.118 OPS against

His ERA has ballooned, his K:BB ratio has fallen, and his WHIP and OPS against have doubled. Not a good sign heading into the concluding months of the season.

As recently as mid July the Dodger bullpen was phenomenal. It still ranks very high; however, the foundation has begun to show signs of cracking, further highlighted by the uncertainty of Jonathan Broxton. Hopefully, for a team so reliant upon their bullpen, the recent reliever struggles are just a rough patch in the road.

Photo courtesy Jonathan Moore

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Guillermo Mota Is Crappy Again

After pitching out of his mind over the past two months, the words "Guillermo Mota" and "outright awful" now go hand in hand once again. Take for example his utter dominance from late May to late July...

5/22- 7/29

34.1 IP, 0.26 ERA, .5865 WHIP, 3.00 K/BB, .371 OPS against

That's better than outstanding. Unfortunately, since July 30th Guillermo Mota been anything but...

7/30 - 8/12
6.1 IP, 10.32 ERA, 2.300 WHIP, .75 K/BB, 1.086 OPS against

Perhaps it's time for Mr. Mota to get reacquainted with Mr. Mop.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Damn It Feels Good To Be A Dodger Fan

"And listen to the crowd. No crowd."
-Vin Scully, during the Dodgers outbreak in the fifth inning.
For a meeting that was amped to eleven before the warm-up band even made an appearance, the silence conveyed by the Giant faithful over the past two games is telling the story more eloquently than any spoken word ever could. Mere days ago, concern and curiosity were lingering like the marine layer on a chilly December morning. Two convincing victories later however, and the rays of dominance have me reaching for the sunscreen. Make no bones about it, I'm basking.

Photo courtesy of AP/ Ben Margot

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dodgers Waivering On Pitching

It's been beaten into the ground for quite some time; however, allow me to drive the nail further. THE DODGERS DO NOT NEED TO SIGN A WAIVER WIRE PITCHER IN ATTEMPTS TO BOLSTER THEIR STAFF. But that hasn't stopped the rumors...
With Chad Billingsley questionable for his next start Wednesday in San Francisco and with the Dodgers unsettled on a permanent fifth starter, Manager Joe Torre said Sunday the team continues to look outside the organization for help.

"They're looking," Torre said of the front office. "We talked about the waiver wire. There is a possibility that something can happen."
Vicente Padilla and John Smoltz, both mentioned as possible candidates in the article linked above, would serve no purpose on Dodgers. Padilla is loaded with character issues, not to mention a declining arm. Smoltz on the other hand is an aging veteran battling through injuries, and still hanging on in hopes of re-inventing himself. Didn't the Dodgers just get rid of a guy like that?

With the abundance of serviceable pitching already within the organization there's no need to reach out when you've already got the likes of Eric Stults, Scott Elbert, Charlie Haeger, James McDonald, and even Jeff Weaver lingering around. It's true none of those guys are going to tear it up, but we're talking about a fifth starter, not a front line guy. Each of those pitchers have had their moments this season, and could easily fill the duties of the fifth spot in the rotation.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Valley Of The Dodgers

After dropping their third straight game, and ten of their last fifteen, you'll have to excuse my pessimism regarding the Dodgers lead in the standings. A once commanding nine game lead has almost been cut in half, and the Dodgers no longer possess the best record in baseball. Not that having the best record signifies anything, but the bragging rights were nice.

And now, depressed and dejected (well at least I am), the Dodgers travel north to enemy territory for a crucial three game series...
While the Dodgers would like nothing more than to regain their footing by vanquishing their biggest rival, the Giants view this three-game series as an opportunity to legitimize their status as contenders.

"Obviously it's a big series, especially at the point of the season we're at right now and where we are in the standings," Giants center fielder Aaron Rowand said. "It's fun to be a part of this. Everybody looks forward to playing a Giants-Dodgers series."
No, impeding doom is not around the corner, but the doubts have grown louder and have made their presence felt during the recent stretch of games. There are those that have a stronger faith in the current situation, and their arguments are very convincing. Though in a season consisting of peaks and valleys there's no denying the Dodgers are currently in a rut. As the old adage goes however, things have to get worse before they can get better...

UPDATE: Apparently I'm not the only one with this on my mind. Sons of Steve Garvey, Dodger Blues, and Memories of Kevin Malone have thoughts about the current skid.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Goodnight Ramblings

Tonight marks the third time this season that Chad Billingsley was in line for the win, only to see Jonathan Broxton falter at the finish line.

Whether the report is accurate, or is just a kind way of ushering a veteran into obscurity, I think we've seen the last of Jason Schmidt in Dodger blue.

James Loney is now 0-15 in his last 19 plate appearances, with 6 strikeouts.

Green Light

After throwing out baserunners at a 31% and 33% clip during his first two years in the bigs, Russell Martin has seen that percentage dip to 26.5% over the past two seasons. The league average for throwing out baserunners resides around 26%, so while Martin falls in line with the norm, the drop from his first two seasons is very noticeable. When you consider all his stats have shrunk over the same periods I guess it shouldn't be surprising. But what is surprising is 300lb. sluggers falling over themselves into second base and still beating throws.

Recently, Russell Martin has been the victim of more thefts than a Wal-Mart being guarded by members of the local senior citizen center. Of the 19 attempted swipes since the beginning of July, Martin has thrown out only 3 would be base stealers, with one of them being an attempted steal of third base. Even worse, the teams that have been successful against Martin recently are among the worse base stealing teams in the league. In fact, the Padres, Cardinals, Braves, and Brewers currently rank 25th, 27th, 28th, and 29th in total team stolen bases.

Whether poor mechanics, tiredness, or shoddy pitching has been to blame there's no denying it's been open season as of late to run on Russell Martin.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Walk-Off Home Runs Get Creepy Man Hugs

A frustrating strikeout by Matt Kemp in the 8th inning saw the stands at Dodger Stadium empty like a dam letting loose years of stored up water. Doubt was in the air. However, those moments of agony and wondering at what might have been were soon replaced with memories of wonder and amazement at what actually was.

Tonight's walk-off home run by Andre Ethier not only won the game, but brought back the swagger to a team going through a tough part of the season. Three outs away from losing 8 of the past 12, the Dodgers refused to go quietly into the night. And what a night it was.

Photo courtesy AP/ Lori Shepler

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

It's On Like Donkey Kong

To those still watching in the ninth inning of yesterday's 17-4 trumping, Prince Fielder was hit in what appeared to be a retaliatory effort to Manny Ramirez getting plunked earlier in the game. He appeared irked and miffed about the scenario while it was happening; however, it wasn't until after the final out that the hefty lefty decided to make his presence felt...
Not even Prince Fielder really knows what he might have done if a phalanx of security guards and teammates hadn't prevented the furious Milwaukee Brewers slugger from entering the Los Angeles Dodgers clubhouse after a ninth-inning beaning.

Several teammates trailed behind him in a surreal scene, but Bill Hall and Casey McGehee got a firm grip on Fielder while a wall of security blocked his way.

And nobody is sure how the Brewers and the Dodgers will react in Wednesday's season finale after Los Angeles' impressive 17-4 victory Tuesday night degenerated into retaliation, recrimination and a regrettable charge through the Dodger Stadium tunnels by the Brewers' All-Star first baseman.

Even more surprising was Russell Martins acknowledgment surrounding the beaning. Usually players are quick to deny anything, but that wasn't the case here...

"It's just part of the game," Martin said. "Our premier hitter gets hit, and he gets protection. I understand [Fielder] is frustrated, but you don't take care of that after the game."

"We don't want the same situation as last year in the playoffs, when Philly threw at Manny and we didn't retaliate," Martin said, referring to last fall's NL championship series against the Phillies. "We don't want to be known as a team that doesn't have each other's backs."

Often times, a good night sleep will ease some tension so let's hope that's the case here. If not, perhaps Andre Ethier could lead them in group session of yoga.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

This Guy Is Crazy

And I'm not even talking about the guy flailing his arms.

After going 3-5 with 5 RBIs in Sunday's game, Matt Kemp comes right back with a 4-5, 1 HR, 5 RBI performance to take over the team lead in RBIs.

Kemp wasn't the only one passing on the beatdown though. On top of Bison's five spot, Manny Ramirez 3 (40), Casey Blake 2 (61), Russell Martin 2 (33), Andre Ethier 2 (69), and Mark Loretta 2 (20) all had multiple RBI nights. Overall, the Dodgers went 18-41 (.439) at the plate! Even Guillermo Mota 1 (1) got in on the fun by driving in his first RBI in over 5 years. An enjoyable pounding indeed.

Photo courtesy AP/ Gus Ruelas


Lost in the comeback that wasn't meant to be was the first poor outing by Clayton Kershaw in almost two months. Kershaw, who now leads the National League in walks allowed, struggled with his control all night including a hideous four consecutive walk sequence in the fourth inning. The six walks allowed by Kershaw set a new career high besting his old mark of five, which he recorded just four starts ago.

Despite the free passes given out by the southpaw the Dodgers stormed back from four down in the ninth inning, advancing the winning run into scoring position. But it was not meant to be as Manny Ramirez flied out with the bases loaded to end the game, a sharp contrast to his last at-bat with the bases full.

Dodger fans were left scratching their heads after Manny's game ending out; however, the real puzzler was the at-bat of Rafael Furcal during the ninth inning rally. With 2 outs, and Orlando Hudson representing the tying run at third, Furcal bunted back to the pitcher stranding Hudson at third. Furcal beat the throw to first base, but that outcome is not the concern. Did Hudson miss the squeeze sign? Did Furcal bunt under his own accord? Did Hudson receive the squeeze sign but fail to break towards home after a weak bunt by Furcal? These are the things that keep me awake at all hours of the night. Where's my Ambien?

Photo courtesy of AP/ Gus Ruelas

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Yoga Is Better Than Puppies

I made note of it earlier, but here's further proof. Sans Ethier in the front row, it's nothing but females in tight spandex. They're thick as thieves! Thanks to Dodger Thoughts for the link.

Back On Track

After getting thoroughly drubbed in St. Louis the past week, the Dodgers took a step towards stability with a series win over Atlanta. Also taking a step in the right direction was Chad Billingsley who, despite leaving the game early with leg cramps, allowed two hits over five innings while striking out nine. Not that a pitcher like Billingsley needed to prove anything; however, the naysayers have been lurking, and hopefully this will keep them at bay for the time being.

The story of the game however belonged to Matt Kemp who gained further exposure (at least to those that don't already know about the Bison) on national television with his 3-5, 5 RBI performance. Those 5 RBIs tied a career high. Not that you would know it though, as the Terrible Trio (Miller, Morgan, Phillips) opted to fill the airtime with their own personal roundtable about steroids. Even more ironic was the analysis of Joe Morgan concluding that Matt Kemp should be using a longer and heavier bat during his at-bat in the fifth inning. Upon the conclusion of Morgan's arguments, Matt Kemp hit the next pitch out of the park for a three run jack.

The soothing sounds of Scully can't come fast enough.

Photo courtesy of AP/ John Amis