Jul 26

Clayton Kershaw to start serving suspension Tuesday

And more news … methinks John Ely is headed back to Los Angeles …

Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers have decided to have the lefty drop the appeal of his five-game suspension, which he will serve this week, postponing Kershaw’s next start until Sunday in San Francisco.

Kershaw was suspended for hitting Giants outfielder Aaron Rowand with the first pitch of the seventh inning July 20, after both teams had been issued warnings earlier in the game. Dodgers manager Joe Torre and coach Bob Schaefer served one-game suspensions related to the game last week.

The 22-year-old Kershaw pitched eight shutout innings against the Mets on Sunday, lowering his ERA for the season to 2.96, 10th in the National League. He is fifth in the NL in strikeouts, and after a history of control problems, has walked only 14 in his past nine starts.

After using Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda and Vicente Padilla from Tuesday-Thursday against the NL West-leading Padres, the Dodgers will probably have their two most commonly used fifth starters, Carlos Monasterios and John Ely (now in Albuquerque), pitch Friday and Saturday in San Francisco, not necessarily in that order. Both will be on at least four days’ rest by Friday.

Unless he turns things around this week, James McDonald would be the most likely player to be sent to Albuquerque to make room for Ely. That’s assuming that Jack Taschner retires a batter in the interim.

Jul 26

Ronald Belisario resumes workouts with Dodgers

News on the beleaguered reliever:

Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Ronald Belisario, who has been on Major League Baseball’s restricted list since July 7, has resumed workouts at Dodger Stadium, according to the team, though no timetable has been set for his return to the active roster.

The Dodgers offered no further comment. Belisario hasn’t pitched for the team since July 5, when he threw shutout ball over a career-high three innings against Florida. Players can be kept on the restricted list for a maximum of 30 days, meaning that Belisario has until approximately Aug. 6 before the Dodgers (need to) make a decision on him.

After a 2009 rookie season in which he posted a 2.04 ERA with 64 strikeouts in 70 2/3 innings, Belisario opened the 2010 season on the restricted list following visa problems that detained his arrival in the States from his native Venezuela. He made his season debut April 21, and after performing inconsistently through the end of May, had a 1.45 ERA from June 1 on. For the year, Belisario has a 3.79 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings.

Belisario was arrested for driving under the influence in June 2009 and subsequently pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

If Belisario makes it back, he would potentially rejoin a Dodger bullpen fronted by Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo, Kenley Jansen and Jeff Weaver just in time for the final weeks of the season.

Jul 26

Dodger Cogs and Dogs: Edition 10


Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireVicente Padilla: No. 12 with a bullet (not in the leg).

James Loney at No. 5? Casey Blake at No. 11? The Dodger corner infielders each have two homers in July, but the team has been so strange that they still rank high.

And no, Kenley Jansen did not break in at No. 1 on our list, but he was high in our hearts. Remember, these rankings are a combination of objectivity and personal subjectivity …

         
7/26 7/12 High Low Player Comment
1 1 1 20 Clayton Kershaw Anyone outside of L.A. noticed that Roy Oswalt isn’t having a better year than Kershaw?
2 2 2 14 Rafael Furcal Finally slows down: 3 for last 19, but still with five walks
3 5 1 5 Hiroki Kuroda One inning from matching last year’s season total.
4 3 1 11 Andre Ethier OPS remains sub-.700 since the pinkie.
5 6 6 24 James Loney Leads team in doubles and game-winning homers vs. Mets.
6 4 3 12 Manny Ramirez At 220 plate appearances and holding.
7 8 7 18 Hong-Chih Kuo Best adjusted ERA in Los Angeles Dodger history, minimum 32 innings.
8 9 1 11 Matt Kemp Since June 29, an .863 OPS.
9 7 4 13 Jonathan Broxton Has had four perfect innings in 19 appearances since June 1.
10 10 6 12 Chad Billingsley Gets an extra day off today after 125-pitch outing.
11 11 6 16 Casey Blake After starting month 6 for 48, he’s 8 for last 23.
12 17 15 25 Vicente Padilla ERA, K/9, BB/9, H/9 all now better than Kuroda’s.
13 12 5 26 John Ely Consecutive good outings for Albuquerque.
14 15 2 15 Russell Martin Caught-stealing percentage has improved to career-best 40%.
15 13 12 15 Blake DeWitt Seriously, why has he gone from nine homers in ’08 to one this year?
16 14 13 21 Jamey Carroll Slacker has only played four positions this year.
17 21 7 21 Carlos Monasterios 0.82 ERA in 11 innings since return from disabled list.
18 16 15 22 Jeff Weaver Still fourth on team in wins.
19 18 17 25 Ronald Belisario Last outing on July 5 was best of season.
20 19 8 20 Reed Johnson Snuck in a 66th game this year to pass last year’s mark by one.
21 22 22 24 Travis Schlichting With eight inherited runners allowed in 20 innings, it’s a deceptive 2.25 ERA.
22 23 15 23 Xavier Paul .350 OBP vs. LHP this season.
23 20 7 21 Ronnie Belliard .107 slugging percentage in July.
24 24 9 24 Ramon Troncoso Taking longer than expected to come back: has allowed six runs in past 8 1/3 innings for Isotopes.
25 25 23 25 Justin Miller And now to the other Justin Miller: 2.55 ERA in Chattanooga.
26 NR NR NR Kenley Jansen It’s exciting, but pace yourself, Torre.
27 26 19 26 A.J. Ellis .286 OBP, .224 slugging percentage in first extended L.A. stay.
28 27 25 29 Jon Link Retired four of six batters in most recent Dodger stint.
29 28 23 28 Brad Ausmus Mr. 1-for-4, like clockwork, every three months.
30 29 29 29 Chin-Lung Hu Tuesday marks four weeks since his last game.
31 30 17 31 Ramon Ortiz Six Dodger relievers have worse ERAs than Ortiz’s 6.30.
32 31 27 32 Nick Green DFAed by Toronto, signed with Padres organization last week.
33 33 3 36 Charlie Haeger ERA is 4.99 at Albuquerque in 30 2/3 innings.
34 34 16 34 Garret Anderson OBP by month: .159, .216, .217, .250. Trending up!
35 36 26 36 George Sherrill Approaching anniversary of coming to L.A., Sherrill’s Dodger ERA is 3.58.
36 35 22 36 Russ Ortiz Stayed ahead of Sherrill until Saturday.
37 NR NR NR James McDonald Don’t tell my heart, my achy-breaky heart …
38 32 32 35 Scott Elbert … I just don’t think it’d understand.
39 NR NR NR Jack Taschner His callup and Jansen’s a study in contrasts.
Jul 25

Dan Haren takes Angels’ flight out of NL West

Debate on the Dan Haren-to-the-Angels trade seems mainly to mainly not whether the Angels won this trade, but by how much.

  • ESPN.com’s Keith Law doesn’t think much of the Joe Saunders-plus-minor leaguers package.
  • Zach Sanders of Fangraphs notes that even if the deal doesn’t help the Angels rally to make the playoffs this year, it puts them in better position to bounce back next year.
  • Matthew Carruth of Fangraphs sat “for an hour and still cannot even come close to justifying this. … The Diamondbacks just acted like Dan Haren was Scott Kazmir.”
  • Echoes Joe Sheehan for SI.com: “If there’s a model for how not to handle the trade of a high-priced, high-value player, this is it.”
  • Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com plays devil’s advocate for a brief moment to present the risk for the Angels – that Haren is declining (and overpaid) as his 4.60 ERA this season would suggest.
  • Aaron Gleeman of Hardball Talk points out that the deal might hinge on a player to be named later, but that player is not Mike Trout, the Angels’ top prospect.
  • Haren himself is excited, even if he’ll miss Arizona, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.

Should the Dodgers have swooped in? For this price, maybe. I haven’t thought much of Haren’s performance this season, but it’s not as if Arizona overcharged for him – although, as others have pointed out, the Diamondbacks might have charged more from a division rival than they did from the Angels.

* * *

And in other news …

  • Callups to come? John Ely pitched a seven-inning complete game, allowing two runs on seven baserunners while striking out five, and Jay Gibbons went 4 for 4 in Albuquerque’s 14-2 victory over Nashville.
  • From the postgame press notes: “Carlos Monasterios was examined by Dr. Neal ElAttrache after being struck in the right side of the head by a foul ball off the bat of Carlos Beltran in the fourth inning. He never lost consciousness and did not appear to have a concussion.”
  • Here’s a great profile on Dodger Stadium organist Nancy Bea Hefley from Dodgerfan.net.
  • The new LACMA exhibition, “Manly Pursuits: The Sporting Images of Thomas Eakins,” is reviewed by Christopher Knight of the Times.
  • Former “Happy Days” star Anson Williams sang God Bless America today like he thought he left the oven on at home. Kudos for not milking it.
Jul 25

Kershaw, Jansen shut down Mets, 1-0


Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesKenley Jansen has struck out four of the first six hitters he has faced in the majors.

Old man Kenley Jansen, six months older than Clayton Kershaw but about a dozen or more pitching years younger, struck out two batters in the ninth to preserve a 1-0 victory for Kershaw and the Dodgers over the Mets today.

“It’s just crazy,” said Jansen, who made his pitching debut in the minors last July, on the Prime Ticket postgame interview. “It’s just a dream come true.”

After Kershaw threw eight shutout innings (eight baserunners, three strikeouts), the Dodgers pushed across the only run when a Russell Martin double scored a hustling Casey Blake all the way from first base in the bottom of the eighth. Blake, who had singled, also had a diving catch in the sixth inning to save a hit and likely a run with two out and a runner on second in the top of the sixth.

Allowing Jonathan Broxton to rest after the Dodger closer went two innings Saturday, Jansen needed 15 pitches for his second scoreless inning in as many days. Kershaw said after the game to Prime Ticket that Jansen was the first catcher he threw to in the minor leagues.

“It’s amazing how life changes,” Jansen said. “I’m just having fun and at the same time, focused.”

Jul 25

Kershaw LXXII: Kershawmpty Dumpty

Brad Ausmus will retire at the end of this season, the Dodger catcher told Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

… In Ausmus’ typically understated way, his so-called “announcement” was nothing more than an answer to a reporter’s question. It came immediately after he played in his first game in more than three months, catching the first 12 innings of the 13-inning marathon four days after being activated from the 60-day disabled list.

“This year is it,” Ausmus said.

Ausmus had played in just one previous game this season, on April 8 at Pittsburgh. He went onto the 15-day DL with back soreness two days later and learned shortly thereafter that he would need a surgical procedure that would sideline him for at least three months, leading to questions of why the seldom-used, 41-year-old backup to Russell Martin didn’t just retire immediately instead of going through a grueling rehabilitation process in what everyone assumed would be his final season as a player anyway.

Ausmus’ answer then was the same as it is now.

“I signed a contract,” he reiterated on Saturday. “It was my job to get back on the field and do it as quickly as possible, hopefully without having any setbacks.”

* * *

If Jonathan Broxton had blown the game against the Mets, people would have called it another huge loss on the national stage. But since he overcame early control problems to pitch two shutout innings – striking out the Mets’ best hitter, David Wright, to end the ninth before throwing a perfect 10th – the game became inconsequential (c.f. Saturday, June 26, 2010).

* * *

From the Dodger press notes: “Six Dodger starters have combined to post a 1.38 ERA (8 ER/52.0 IP) and limit opposing hitters to a .211 average (40-for-190). In that span, Dodger starters have 36 strikeouts and only 14 walks. Overall, Dodger starters lead the big leagues with an average of 7.79 strikeouts per 9.0 innings (487 SO/563.0 IP) and rank third in the National League with a .256 opponents’ batting average.”

Jul 24

Loney walks it off in 13th, 3-2


Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesMatt Kemp looks to win the Kendry Who? Award with his takedown of James Loney after Loney’s walkoff homer gave the Dodgers a 3-2 victory over the Mets today in 13 innings. The 21st Dodger used in the game, George Sherrill, pitched a 1-2-3 inning for the victory. Carlos Monasterios pitched five shutout innings. and then after James McDonald disappointed in a two-run sixth, Kenley Jansen’s two-strikeout major-league debut kicked off seven consecutive game-saving scoreless (and hitless) innings of relief for Los Angeles.
Jul 24

Torre concedes error in 6-1 loss

Joe Torre told Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com that he made a mistake Friday having Ronnie Beliiard pinch-hit with two out in the bottom of the seventh for Vicente Padilla, who had allowed one run on 77 pitches through seven innings.

If the Dodgers had been scoring more, Torre wouldn’t have been faced with that choice. But with rare exceptions like Bizarro Tim Lincecum night, the Dodger offense hasn’t been doing much lately, and facing the Mets’ Johan Santana didn’t help.

Jeff Weaver compounded Torre’s ill-fated decision. Weaver, who had walked seven batters in his first 28 games this season (through the end of June) and never more than one in a game, walked the first two batters he faced in the eighth – giving him eight walks in 7 2/3 innings in July.

It all went downhill from there.

* * *

Andre Ethier is in a 1-for-24 slump, though he has walked seven times and homered. His batting average (.302), on-base percentage (.367) are at their lowest marks since the second game of the season.

* * *

John Ely had his Friday start for Albuquerque was postponed. Christopher Jackson of Albuquerque Baseball Examiner said Ely was struck by a batting practice ball.

* * *

Here’s a preview of my brother’s latest producing effort, “Young Justice,” which will premiere on Cartoon Network next year with 26 episodes. I have written two and will be writing two more.

Jul 23

Broxton was illin’

Jonathan Broxton was sent home before Thursday’s game after he ate something that apparently really didn’t agree with him. His availability tonight will be a game-time decision. Kenley Jansen might get the call to close if he makes his major-league debut tonight.

* * *

Josh Fisher provided his services to ESPNLosAngeles.com with some answers to frequently asked questions about the McCourt conflict.

Jul 23

Dodgers recall Kenley Jansen

The Dodgers announced they have designated Justin Miller for assignment and recalled the tantalizing Kenley Jansen.

Jansen has struck out 50 in 27 innings since his promotion to AA Chattanooga this season. He was converted from catcher to pitcher in 2009, when he caught 34 games and pitched in 12.

Miller had a 4.44 ERA with 33 baserunners allowed in 24 1/3 innings and 30 strikeouts. He allowed 12 runs and seven inherited runs in his last 18 innings.

Jul 22

Back-to-back: 2-0, 2-0

Wednesday it was Chad Billingsley and Casey Blake; tonight it was Hiroki Kuroda and Matt Kemp – with a Hong-Chih Kuo cherry on top, and perhaps that’s the biggest news of the evening.

After pitching two innings Tuesday and warming up Wednesday, Kuo pitched the ninth inning tonight for the save – further suggesting that the protective gloves have come off the precious reliever. It might not be quite accurate to say the Dodgers are going for broke, but it’s definitely a different mentality than we’ve seen for the past year and a half. Actually, maybe it is accurate to say they’re going for broke, figuratively if not literally.

Earlier today, Joe Torre talked about the bullpen situation with Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Before signing off this short post, a quick tip of the cap not only to Kuroda for his eight standout shutout innings and Kemp for his RBI double and solo homer, but to Russell Martin, who threw out two runners stealing tonight in a tight game.

* * *

Bill Shaikin of the Times has some new and interesting Dodger attendance analysis. Check it out.

Jul 22

Carlos Monasterios to start Saturday


Courtesy Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2010 Clayton Kershaw and Blake DeWitt hang on before Wednesday’s game.

Carlos Monasterios will start Saturday, Joe Torre told reporters today. I’m not sure what makes Monasterios, who staggered through his last few starts, a better option than James McDonald, but I’ve decided not to fret over it for now.

Torre also said that Hong-Chih Kuo has been “lobbying” to pitch on back-to-back days, which helps explain why, for better or worse, he warmed up Wednesday. That being said, Kuo might be rested tonight, but Jonathan Broxton is available.

Reed Johnson’s back has not improved enough for the Dodgers to say when he’ll be activated from the disabled list.

* * *

Dodger Stadium organist Nancy Bea Hefley will have increased playing time Friday as part of the team’s “55 since ’55″ promotion, and Dodgerfan.net will provide on-the-scene coverage. Looking forward to it!

* * *

Tonight, the Dodgers will play their 857th consecutive home game since their last rainout, on April 17, 2000, breaking their previous record of 856 set from April 26, 1988–April 10, 1999.

Also, tonight’s matchup of Hiroki Kuroda and Hisanori Takahashi is the sixth between Japanese-born starting pitchers in MLB history.

* * *

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Chris Dickerson

Thought this was an interesting piece by Dave Campbell of The Associated Press (posted on Farther Off the Wall): Reds outfielder Chris Dickerson is trying to make baseball more green through an organization he co-founded with Jack Cassel, Players for the Planet.

… There is a certain insular, indulgent culture in the sports world that can create hurdles for social causes like this to take hold. Sometimes, they’re masked as mere symbolic gestures and goodwill-generating promotions for teams. The sheer enormity of stadiums makes it difficult to keep carbon footprints small. Players can get caught up in the big-league lifestyle.

“It’s hard to get just any athlete and even then, they’re like, ‘I love what you’re doing, but I can’t really endorse it because I’m driving a big truck and I have a huge house,’” Dickerson said. “So some of the things these athletes do aren’t necessarily a green lifestyle. They like the idea, but they’re not necessarily that green. I think that’s why a lot of them are hesitant to be part of it.”

Dickerson praised the use of solar power at Fenway Park in Boston and Progressive Field in Cleveland as progressive ideas he’d like to see replicated more throughout the majors. He pointed to supportive e-mails and letters he has received as examples of momentum. He also insisted real change can be accomplished in easy steps.

“That’s the message we’re trying to get across: It doesn’t have to be a huge shift in your daily lifestyle,” Dickerson said. “It’s little things like getting a recycle bin, turning off all the lights when you leave your house, trying to cut down on your air conditioning, using compact fluorescent light bulbs.”

Dickerson even has a sign above his locker that says, “Trees are for hugging.” …

Jul 22

Jonathan Broxton’s loss of command


Jayne Oncea/Icon SMIJonathan Broxton has allowed 14 earned runs this season — 11 in his past 7 1/3 innings.

I don’t know if it’s possible to put aside debates over mental and guttal makeup when discussing Jonathan Broxton, but if we can try for a moment …

A big problem for Broxton right now is that the pinpoint control that he typically possesses has disappeared. He has walked more batters in his past two games than he walked in the first two months of the season.

Broxton averaged 3.4 walks per nine innings from 2006-2009, then opened 2010 with three walks (one intentional) in 29 1/3 innings, to go with 42 strikeouts, no home runs and a 0.92 ERA.

That period ends with the June 19 evening in Boston when he faced one batter and allowed a game-winning hit. In 10 2/3 innings since then, Broxton has walked eight while allowing 11 runs for a 9.28 ERA. This week alone, Broxton has walked four while allowing five runs for a 27.00 ERA.

Now whatever your thoughts about Broxton are, this is the story of two different pitchers. It’s not as if every game before June 19 was meaningless and every game after was of huge importance.

Another angle is this: Broxton’s batting average allowed on balls in play before June 19 was .358, which is on the high side for a major-league pitcher and certainly higher than Broxton’s career figure of .315. But since June 19, his BABIP has skyrocketed to .448. So Broxton’s loss of command has been coupled with an untimely bout of bad luck. (Look no further than Tuesday’s calamity, when a 60-foot single by Juan Uribe was followed by a walk to Edgar Renteria, who entered the game with one home run and 13 walks for the entire season.)

I obviously don’t need to tell anyone that Broxton has sprinkled bad outings throughout his career. There was of course the 2009 game in San Diego when he allowed three runs (plus an inherited runner) to score in the ninth inning, followed two days later by two runs allowed in an extra-inning victory at Milwaukee. On August 15, Broxton blew a save in Arizona that led to a huge outcry for him to be replaced as Dodger closer by … George Sherrill.

From that point on, Broxton pitched 21 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run, walking five, striking out 33. That streak ended with the ninth-inning disaster in Pittsburgh that cost the Dodgers an early chance to clinch the National League West. And so on …

I’m not sure if the struggles Broxton has been having lately are something more than his typical once-in-a-while problems, or if they are a sign of something more worrisome. What I do know is that the Jonathan Broxton we have seen lately is not the Jonathan Broxton we usually see.

Update: Here’s another piece on Broxton, from ESPN.com’s Tristan H. Cockcroft.

Jul 22

Mattingly miscue didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know

The reason to be concerned about Don Mattingly becoming Dodger manager next year is not that he doesn’t know some arcane baseball rule. It’s that he isn’t experienced or authoritative enough to effectively handle much more common aspects of helming the team.

Is he good with strategy? Can he manage a bullpen? (What of him having Hong-Chih Kuo warming up Wednesday, a night after the fragile lefty threw two innings?) Is he an effective motivator of players? Does he sound too much like Toby Flenderson in an interview? These are all questions that existed long before Tuesday’s chaos.

Mattingly might turn out to be a good manager, but the point is – and has always been – that there might be better candidates.

In any case, our friend Bob Timmermann has everything you could want to know about Rule 8.06 in a post at L.A. Observed’s Native Intelligence.

* * *

  • The national media seems way more concerned than people locally about whether Joe Torre will manage another season in Los Angeles. I think many people here will react to Torre’s decision with a shrug.
  • Kenley Jansen is too good to ignore for the Dodger bullpen, contends Chad Moriyama of Memories of Kevin Malone.
  • One of the best features I’ve seen all year is this piece on former Cardinals and Padres shortstop Garry Templeton, by Dan O’Neill of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  • At StoryCorps, Harvey Sherman tells his tale of attending the final Dodgers game at Ebbets Field.
  • For those who are still talking about Chad Billingsley and the 2008 National League Championship Series, I have this advice for you: