Aug 14

Dodgers 2, Braves 1: Newcomers lead the way, but …


John Bazemore/APTed Lilly

In a relief of a win that could have been another vexatious loss, the Dodgers funneled 12 hits into only two runs, but made them stand up for a 2-1 victory over Atlanta on Saturday.

Major credit for the result goes to Ted Lilly, who had his third consecutive sharp start since coming to Los Angeles. Lilly allowed five baserunners over six shutout innings, lowering his ERA with the team to 1.89. He has allowed 10 hits and two walks while striking out 15, and if the rest of the team were jelling, we’d be talking in glorious tones about how he was spearheading the Dodgers’ pennant drive.

As it is, even if he keeps up this pace and makes me look bad for questioning his consistency (though I also said “undoubtedly, Lilly will provide some short-term gain in the rotation”), he does figure to have only about 10 or fewer starts left in a Dodger uniform before leaving as a free agent. So I’m still feeling a little bittersweet about him. But so far, he has absolutely pitched well – a perfect fit for the team.

Octavio Dotel even chipped in 1 1/3 perfect innings tonight; he has retired 14 of 19 batters as a Dodger since coming from Pittsburgh.

Staying with the theme of new players, I’ll even throw a little love Scott Podsednik’s way, reluctantly. Podsednik went 3 for 5 tonight and now has 12 hits and two walks in his past five games. Of course, that’s outstanding.

Now, without this incredible hot streak – which he won’t be able to maintain – Podsednik will revert to being that ordinary player that I still don’t really want much part of. Even as well as he has played for the Dodgers, Podsednik has two extra-base hits in 74 plate appearances with the team. I’m willing to live with a sub-.400 slugging percentage from my catcher (Russell Martin) or my utility infielder (Jamey Carroll) if they’re getting on base a lot. But from my left fielder, I think the offense needs more. And if a hot streak of singles convinces the Dodgers that this is the guy they want starting in left field next year, at age 35, that’s going to make me even more unhappy.

Living in the now, though, Podsednik has provided an admitted boost. I’m going to be even more of a sourpuss with regard to Ryan Theriot, however.

Theriot has been a poor man’s Podsednik, going 2 for 4 tonight to give him a .283 batting average as a Dodger. That has made a lot of observers feel good about the trade, but it’s an empty .283: accompanied by a .328 OBP and .302 slugging percentage. He may be a better fielder than Blake DeWitt, but again, I feel like this has opened the door for the Dodgers to settle for aging mediocrity when they need something better. (By the way, DeWitt’s numbers since leaving the Dodgers and his overall 2010 numbers remain better than those of Theriot.)

Right now, there’s no doubt the Dodgers added talent in the short term last month, at a time when there was legitimate postseason hope. That pretty much fulfills the mission as Ned Colletti saw it, I imagine. He has gotten results.

And yet it all feels so temporary …

Aug 13

Dodgers flicker, then flounder


Gregory Smith/APBraves shortstop Alex Gonzalez caught the Dodgers’ potential tying run, Scott Podsednik, trying to steal in the ninth inning of tonight’s 1-0 Dodger loss.

The Irony Committee approves the fact that fans are giving up on the Dodgers left and right, even as they expect the Dodgers not to give up on themselves.

I’m not telling anyone to act differently. If San Francisco defeats San Diego tonight, the Dodgers will be the furthest they have been out of a playoff spot since 2007.

But there is an interesting contradiction from those who have pulled out the white flag: “Believe in yourselves, even though we don’t believe in you.” I get why it is, but it’s a little funny.

Anyway, I’m not someone who declares the season over before it’s factually over. Each win increases your chances, each loss decreases it. It’s that simple. It’s all by degrees, until you run out of them. A season doesn’t end in one game. The Dodgers suffered a painful defeat Thursday, but that didn’t flip an “on” switch to “off,” it made their fragile candle grow even dimmer.

A win tonight would have allowed them to gain a game on somebody, and keep their wan flame steady for one more day. A win tonight would have put the Thursday agony further behind them. Thanks to Brooks Conrad’s cursed homer to center off an otherwise saintly Hiroki Kuroda, and the Dodgers’ 14th offensive shutout of the year, it didn’t happen.

And the light remains on but grows darker still.

If the Dodgers want to start making moves with 2011 in mind, I don’t mind – though their chances of trading Casey Blake to the Braves to fill the Chipper Jones gap didn’t get any better with Jones’ current understudy winning tonight’s game. If the Dodgers find they can play “Flip This Lilly,” then by all means go for it.

And if the Dodgers want to ride the 2010 wave as far as it will take them, even if it leaves them shy of the promised land, I will ride it with them until the last drop reaches its grainy end. There’s plenty of time to mourn the year – I don’t mind dreaming the improbable dream, even if I believe in it a lot less than 100 percent. What else have I got to do the next day of the baseball season except dream? Beats mopin’.

Aug 13

Kuo, Dotel to share Dodger closing duties for now

Reacting to Jonathan Broxton’s slump, the Dodgers have moved Hong-Chih Kuo into the primary closer role, and Octavio Dotel will close on days that Kuo can’t, Joe Torre told reporters today. Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has details.

Kuo is not available tonight (neither is Kenley Jansen), so Dotel is the man if the Dodgers have a ninth-inning lead. Broxton is available depending on the game situation.

Torre also said that Manny Ramirez is finally making progress … but then added that a rehab assignment might or might not start in the middle of next week. Rafael Furcal is probably not going to be activated from the disabled list when he becomes eligible Wednesday.

* * *

Hiroki Kuroda has fared much better against the National League East and Central divisions than he has against teams from the NL West, according to Stats LLC (via the Dodger press notes). His lifetime ERA against the NL West is 5.05 (.294 opponents’ batting average); against the rest of the league, it’s 2.57 (.220).

Odd.

* * *

Justin Havens of ESPN’s Stats and Analysis group sent along some stats about Matt Kemp that won’t surprise you: on-base percentage down from .352 last year to .319 this year, for example. Strikeout rate up from 22.9 percent to 27.4 percent. His fielding woes have been well-documented, and his Wins Above Replacement figure has fallen from 5.1 in 2009 to 0.6 so far in 2010.

I was curious about how much batting average on balls in play might account for the OBP dip, and found that his BABIP has dropped from .345 to .314 – or .031, almost exactly the same amount as the .033 OBP drop. And then I looked at Kemp’s walk rate, and this is what surprised me the most.

2009: .078 walks per plate appearance
2010: .078 walks per plate appearance

That’s sort of remarkable, amid all the chaos around Kemp’s 2010 season, that he’s walking at the same rate. The BABIP really accounts for much of Kemp’s falloff at the plate.

Anyway, as far as this regression thing with Kemp goes, do people remember that we’ve been through it before? Kemp’s 2008 season was a disappointment relative to the promise laid out in 2007.

* * *

Hot dogs at Dodger Stadium? There will be on August 21 if the weather heats up on Bark in the Park night.

Sounds fun, but why do I think something is bound to go wrong? Must be the worrywart in me.

Aug 12

‘Leave it to the Dodgers’: Phillies stun Los Angeles with eight-run comeback


Matt Slocum/APRonald Belisario reacts after being pulled in the bottom of the eighth inning, a harbinger.

I don’t have anything I feel compelled to say, but I feel compelled to say something.  That’s usually a recipe for some pretty poor writing, but on a night like tonight, who will really notice?

For Jonathan Broxton, I refer you to this post. He’s not himself, and he hasn’t been himself for weeks now. That the latest catastrophe happened in Philadelphia adds a nasty spice to it all, but in his past trips there, the loss of control and blown saves were aberrations. The Broxton of the past two months has been someone else entirely. He’s been George Sherrill, and not the good kind.

Personally, it’s no fun seeing the perverse “I told you so” comments coming from Broxton’s peanut gallery, some of them coming with the glee of validation, I suspect. I’m not defending what Broxton is doing now, but again, this is well beyond what happened with Broxton before. Since the All-Star break, 21 baserunners allowed in eight innings with five strikeouts. That’s a different pitcher.

Meanwhile, those of us who have established tents in Broxton’s camp saw something familiar: a brutal defensive lapse behind him, this time from Casey Blake. Too much water had blown through the dam for it to be called a gamechanger, but it certainly added to the aura of horror.

Ronald Belisario, making his third comeback from personal and health issues in 13 months, actually picked the right night to be bad – doing so with a 9-2 lead, thanks to strong pitching by Clayton Kershaw and a 20-baserunner offense by the Dodgers. Matt Kemp, back in the starting lineup, went 3 for 5 with a home run and four RBI. Every position in the lineup, except for pitcher, reached base at least twice. There was a cushion and then some – no thin Ikea futon, but a real honest-to-goodness plush living room sofa. And then the Phillies tore the stuffing out of it.

For more reaction, I refer you to this post. Vin Scully wasn’t at tonight’s game, and yet I still think about how he’d react to it. He’d marvel at it. And not be as deflated by it as I am. “Leave it to the Dodgers …”

As far as I can tell, every Dodger made their best effort tonight, and for 7 1/2 innings, they put on quite a show. And then baseball threw its weight around, once again proving that it runs the circus. I’d rather be writing about a Dodger win, but I don’t get to decide.

Aug 12

Pat Burrell signing boosted Giants’ playoff chances


AP PhotoBrooklyn Dodgers outfielder Gene Hermanski, shown in April 1948, has passed away. Hermanski was one of Jackie Robinson’s original supporters and had a .385 on-base percentage in 506 games with the Dodgers.

Before Scott Podsednik and Jay Gibbons dotted the Dodgers’ major-league shores, the Giants picked up left fielder Pat Burrell from the scrap heap. All Burrell has done is provide a .905 OPS in 179 plate appearances (almost as many as Manny Ramirez has had with the Dodgers in 2010). On July 31, he hit a game-winning eighth-inning homer against the Dodgers, and Wednesday he repeated the feat against the Cubs.

He’s almost been like 2006 Marlon Anderson and 2009 Ronnie Belliard combined. Joe Pawlikowski of Fangraphs has more about Burrell’s turnabout.

Other notes while we wait for the daily Dodger starting lineup storm front to settle in …

  • Farewell, Gene Hermanski. A great name from the Dodgers’ past in Brooklyn, Hermanski passed away at the age of 90 according to New York Baseball History Examiner (link via Vin Scully Is My Homeboy).
  • The Dodgers will honor photography genius Jon SooHoo for 25 years of service in a pregame ceremony September 3, according to Inside the Dodgers, which also notes that SooHoo was Randy Johnson’s photography mentor while the two were at the Daily Trojan.
  • From the Dodger press notes: “After some crack research by MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick and the Dodgers’ PR staff, it has been determined that (Juan) Castro is the only player in franchise history to serve three separate stints in the organization after departing and playing for another Major League team each time. Several players logged three different stints with the club, but remained in the organization. In the case of pitcher Giovanni Carrera (2001-02, 2004-05, 2006), he never made the big leagues after leaving the club in 2005 or prior to returning midway through 2006.”
  • Also via the press notes:

    Four Dodgers drew mention in Baseball America’s annual Best Tools issue. Major League managers voted Rafael Furcal as having the National League’s best infield arm and as the third-best bunter, Clayton Kershaw as having the Senior Circuit’s No. 3 pickoff move and Jonathan Broxton as the third-best reliever. In the minor league section, Kenley Jansen was also picked as the best reliever in the Southern League after dominating the circuit with a 4-0 record with eight saves and a 1.67 ERA in 22 games with Double-A Chattanooga.

    Several Dodger prospects earned mentions as well, as Ivan DeJesus was voted as the Triple-A Pacific Coast League’s best defensive second baseman; Dee Gordon drew praise as the best baserunner, fastest baserunner and most exciting player in the Double-A Southern League; Matt Wallach was selected as the best defensive catcher and Pedro Baez was voted as having the best defensive arm in the Single-A California League; and though both have since been promoted to Double-A Chattanooga, Jerry Sands was named the best power-hitting prospect and best defensive first baseman and right-hander Rubby De La Rosa was praised for having the Single-A Midwest League’s best fastball.”

Aug 11

Why can’t Johnny score: Phillies 2, Dodgers 0

Scott Podsednik had three hits. So did the rest of the Dodgers.

The post-All Star struggles of the Dodgers’ offense returned. Los Angeles was shut out for the 13th time this season in a 2-0 Phillies victory.

Newly acquired Phillies pitcher Roy Oswalt bested Chad Billingsley. Billingsley allowed one baserunner in his first three innings, then minimized the damage of six baserunners in his next three innings, leaving the game having allowed just the two runs. Kenley Jansen and Hong-Chih Kuo each added shutout frames.

But from their first threat of the game (two on with none out in the second inning) to their last (Podsednik’s leadoff double in the eighth), the Dodgers could not score.

Andre Ethier and Jay Gibbons each went 0 for 4, and Matt Kemp struck out pinch-hitting in the seventh inning, ending his hitting streak at one.

Aug 11

Someone needs to grow up

If Matt Kemp has done something that justifies his benching for the second day in a row — something more than striking out four times Sunday — he needs to get his act together.

But if Joe Torre really thinks that the reason his team scored 15 runs Tuesday was because Kemp didn’t start, and that the Dodgers are better tonight with Kemp on the bench, Torre needs to get his act together.

The Dodgers began 2010 with eight regular position players. Other than Blake DeWitt, who was platooned for much of the year, Kemp is the only one of the eight who has been held out of the lineup on consecutive days while healthy.

News flash: Kemp is not the only problem with this team. Casey Blake, for example, has had an unequivocally worse season than Kemp, yet he’s never been given three days to get his head together.

If Kemp truly merits this scapegoating, then by all means, he needs to shape up. But if he’s being held to a standard that other aren’t — a standard that Blake, James Loney, Rafael Furcal, Andre Ethier, Russell Martin and Manny Ramirez all escaped even when they slumped at the plate at different times this year — it’s time to question whether the Dodgers have made Kemp into a much bigger target than he deserves to be.

Like it or not, Kemp is one of the Dodgers’ best players. Have the Dodgers gotten to the point where they can only see where he fails and are blind to where he succeeds?

Update: Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com filed this report …

… Torre likened the situation to last season, when the Dodgers acquired veteran utility man Ronnie Belliard late in the season and Belliard got so hot at the end that three-time Gold Glove-winning second baseman Orlando Hudson, who would eventually win his fourth, was benched during the playoffs in favor of Belliard.

However, Torre said he was a long way from relegating Kemp — who is hitting .260 with 18 homers and 63 RBIs but has struck out 120 times in 435 at-bats — to a reserve role for the rest of the season.

“I’m not going that far down that road,” Torre said. “I’m just looking to play it a day at a time right now. You don’t just play with the same people all the time. If you want to win, everybody needs to contribute. Matty knocked in two runs [Tuesday] night. I just don’t want to go too far down the road right now.”

I still can’t believe there even is a road.

Aug 11

Joe Torre’s fate a baseball story, not a Los Angeles story


Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireJoe Torre will soon announce his decision about his future with the Dodgers.

As the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 2010 season lurches between dramatic recovery and drab disappointment, time will soon run out for Joe Torre to make the decision on his managerial future — or, to announce the decision he has already made in his heart.

If Torre, whose contract with the Dodgers expires this year, chooses retirement, the national media will stir into a hurricane of coverage. And in that hurricane, Los Angeles will be the eye, the shrug amid the storm. The local press will certainly cover the story, but Dodgers fans will be looking ahead (perhaps with fear) at what’s to come, and not back at the man who has left.

Nearly three seasons into his post-Yankees tenure on the West Coast, Torre remains more a baseball manager than a Dodgers manager, more an ambassador and icon than an integral part of the City of Angels.

This is reflective of two things, neither of them particularly damning toward Torre. In certain respects, Torre has been a welcome relief in Los Angeles, steering the Dodgers to the most success since the Tommy Lasorda days, leading with a combination of class, calm and clarity not witnessed since Walter Alston. More than two decades since the team’s last World Series title, more than one decade since the organization was last thought of as noble, these are not qualities to be taken for granted.

But presuming the Dodgers don’t rally from third place in the National League West today into the World Series two months from now, the aftershocks of a Torre departure will be felt in Los Angeles far more modestly than in the baseball community at large.

For one thing, Torre, unsurprisingly, proved human. He has given plenty of ammunition to anyone inclined to second-guess the manager — a big group of people, to say the least — no matter what they believe to be the right move. His lineups, his in-game strategy and above all his bullpen management have found criticism on a daily basis. Jaded Yankees fans warned Los Angeles about Torre throughout the winter after he was hired (in a mild precursor of the intensity with which jaded Red Sox fans warned the city about Manny Ramirez the next summer). Torre is no less immune to this second-guessing than the average manager, but up close, the halo grew a little hazy.

“To me,” one Dodger Thoughts commenter said, “a manager or head coach puts players in positions to succeed, helping them grow as athletes and becoming better so they can help the team. I don’t see that with Torre. Be it bringing [Jonathan] Broxton in non-save situations only to need him the next game after he threw 20 to 25 pitches the night before, making [Chad] Billingsley go out for a seventh inning after throwing 115 pitches one day after pulling [Clayton] Kershaw after eight when he only threw 95 pitches, I can go on and on with this.”

On a grander scale, if you leave Los Angeles without winning a championship, it means you leave without a parade, literally or figuratively. Anything but the passive bunch they are made out to be, most sports fans in Los Angeles are harsh on those who fall short of the ultimate prize. Lakers coach Phil Jackson sets the local standard for excellence today, and even he must constantly prove himself — to the point that until the final moments of Game 7 in his latest NBA Finals, it was not clear whether he would be welcomed back for one more season.

This, after all, is a city that just mourned the passing of its greatest coach, John Wooden. Compared to that, a Torre departure following a disappointing season figures to raise barely a ripple.

There’s also the fact that Torre has always felt like something of a visiting professor here. There was a ticking clock –partly self-imposed by Torre — from the moment he hastily replaced Grady Little in the fall of 2007. Torre has been liked by many and loved by some — but he hasn’t penetrated the hearts of Los Angeles’ baseball community in a meaningful way. His ties to New York’s string of World Series titles can’t be broken by a couple of NLCS runs. It took Jackson several NBA crowns before Lakers fans could begin to feel that the former Chicago Bulls coaching legend was really theirs. Torre is never going to reach that level in Los Angeles, and the people here intuitively know this. It’s noteworthy that the single act Torre might be most remembered for as Dodgers manager could be coaxing the greatest Los Angeles Dodger of them all, Sandy Koufax, into a rare public conversation earlier this year.

Lasorda, who hasn’t managed the Dodgers in nearly 15 years, who barely won half his games and no pennants in his final 7 1/2 seasons, who is more than a figurehead with the organization today but not much more, and who remains a more complicated, polarizing figure than his “Baseball Bunch” persona would suggest, will be an exponentially bigger story in Los Angeles when he bids farewell to the Dodgers organization (or when they pry the organization from his tightly gripped hands). Lasorda, for all his faults, won his two World Series and bled the blue. And then there’s Vin Scully, too overwhelming to even talk about. Today, legendary KTLA TV reporter Stan Chambers bids farewell to the station after 63 years on the air. By that measure, Torre is agate, type locally.

Things might have been different if the Dodgers had been able to take advantage of their chances to even the 2008 and 2009 NLCS at two games apiece. But Torre’s magic couldn’t save Los Angeles those years, and now the odds are against him doing any more.

“My feeling is that Torre won in New York because of an unlimited payroll, though he couldn’t do it every year,” another Dodger Thoughts commenter said. “That’s not necessarily to say he’s bad under a more financially constrained regime, but I consider him replaceable in every aspect except his celebrity (which he owes to his time in New York City). I would not miss him, but I’d like to see him go out with a World Series championship – which, however, would probably bring a clamor for him to stay.”

Anything can happen over the final eight weeks of the 2010 regular season. But if Torre retires, something tells me that while the national baseball media is spending time reflecting on the void Torre leaves behind, Los Angeles will be much more preoccupied about who’s filling it.

Aug 10

Gibbons a new hero as Dodgers romp, 15-9


Barbara Johnston/US PresswireJay Gibbons hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning to give the Dodgers an 11-5 lead.

Newest Dodger (at least for one more day) Jay Gibbons became the Dodgers’ all-time leader in OPS – minimum five career plate appearances with the team – going 3 for 4 with a home run in the Dodgers’ unusually bloated 15-9 victory over Philadelphia tonight.

Gibbons’ OPS of 2.200 (three singles and a homer in five trips to the plate) breaks the record of 1.467 previously held by Pat Diesel of the 1902 Brooklyn squad and Orlando Mercado, who had two singles and a double in five at-bats at the end of the 1987 season, which I never knew about because I was traveling through Europe. Ah, those were the days.

Well, to quote Natalie Merchant, these are days, as well. Andre Ethier had three singles, a double, a walk and was hit by a pitch tonight, becoming the first Dodger to reach base six times in a game since Russell Martin on April 25, 2008. Before that, the last Dodger to do it was Shawn Green during his four-homer game in 2002. The feat has been achieved 22 times in Los Angeles Dodger history.

Casey Blake also homered as the Dodgers reached base 25 times in all, scoring a season-high in runs and giving them 23 in their past two games. Perhaps we can say they emerged from their slump: The Dodgers have broken the five-run barrier four times in their past eight games. On the other hand, tonight’s pitching …. we won’t get into that.

* * *

Rafael Furcal, already sidelined for eight days with back issues, finally submitted to spending at least the next week on the disabled list, reports Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Juan Castro is expected to be Wednesday’s newest Dodger – his third sojourn with the team.

Aug 10

Matt Kemp on bench as Dodgers return to Philadelphia

It’s bugging me that Scott Podsednik is playing today and Matt Kemp is not. Joe Torre told reporters today that Kemp is “reaching — he has no patience at the plate.” Maybe so, but what can you say of Podsednik, whose offense  and defense have been no better?

There’s no denying that Kemp has had his good days and bad days this season, but his good days are worth holding out for. Unless there’s yet another hidden disciplinary reason for Kemp’s benching, this is the time to go all-in with him. Believe in your best players.

* * *

Torre also told reporters today that Rafael Furcal is available to pinch-hit today, with an eye toward easing him back into the lineup. There are no plans to place him on the disabled list.

* * *

Ronald Belisario is officially back on the team. Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has details.

… Throughout an interview that lasted about seven minutes, Belisario offered little in the way of additional insight.

Asked if he was in the U.S. throughout his absence — his home is in Venezuela — he declined to answer. Asked if there was any aspect of the situation that might result either in another absence later this season or a late arrival to spring training for the third consecutive year, Belisario said he didn’t think so.

“I think I’ll be here for the rest of the season,” he said. “I think everything will be all right for next year.”

Belisario said he was throwing throughout his absence and that he felt normal during a two-game rehabilitation stint at high Class A Inland Empire over the weekend.

Belisario said he didn’t think he would formally address his teammates about his absence or the reason for it. He did say he recognized that the Dodgers have missed him in their bullpen — the team was 12-17 while he was gone — and that he regretted that.

“[But] I feel like things happen for a reason,” Belisario said. “Everything that happened happened. I can’t get too worried about it. I just have to keep moving forward.”

* * *

  • David Young of True Blue L.A. looked at the Dodgers’ East Coast struggles.
  • Ernest Reyes of Blue Heaven has pictures from Sandy Koufax’s high school yearbook.
  • USC fired former Dodger catcher Chad Kreuter as its head baseball coach Monday.
  • Longtime Bronx Banter blogger and former Baseball Toaster colleague Cliff Corcoran has taken a job with YESnetwork.com. Best of luck, Cliff.
Aug 09

Ramon Troncoso optioned … for Ronald Belisario?

The Dodgers announced today that they have sent Ramon Troncoso back to Albuquerque:

Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Ramon Troncoso was optioned to Albuquerque today, creating an opening for fellow reliever Ronald Belisario to return to the active roster from the restricted list Tuesday.

Troncoso pitched 2 1/3 shutout innings over two games since being recalled from Triple A on Aug. 3, when Jeff Weaver was placed on the disabled list. Troncoso — like Belisario, a mainstay of the Dodgers’ bullpen in 2009 — has a 4.85 ERA in 39 innings this season.

The Dodgers, who were off Monday, did not immediately confirm that Belisario would be activated before Tuesday’s game in Philadelphia. However, Dodger manager Joe Torre said over the weekend that Belisario, who made rehabilitation appearances for Class-A Inland Empire on Saturday and Sunday, was close to a return.

Belisario has not pitched for the Dodgers since July 5. He was placed on MLB’s restricted list effective two days later, for reasons still not publicly disclosed. Belisario, who resumed workouts two weeks ago, has a 3.79 ERA in 35 2/3 innings for the Dodgers.

Belisario’s 2010 season also began on the restricted list, after visa problems delayed his spring training arrival. Belisario had a 2.04 ERA in 70 2/3 innings last season.

What’s interesting to me is that the Dodger bullpen suddenly seems so deep that it could part with Troncoso even though he had not been scored upon since his return — and that’s with Weaver still sidelined. The offense, certainly, remains a different story.

* * *

After Brandon Morrow threw a 17-strikeout one-hitter Sunday, Stat of the Day made a list of all the pitchers under age 26 since 1920 who had thrown one-hitters while striking out at least 10, within their first 160 career games.

Two Dodgers are on this quirky list. Sandy Koufax is one. If you can guess the other without looking, I’ll be really impressed. Name the non-Koufax Dodger under the age of 26 who struck out at least 10 batters in a one-hitter. It came in the pitcher’s 22nd career game.

Aug 09

Dodger Cogs and Dogs: Edition 11


Danny Moloshok/APHong-Chih Kuo reaches the top five.

Well, the Dodgers just keep on adding players, and the Dodgers Cogs and Dogs machine keeps on churning. After using 45 players in 2007, 46 in 2008 and 47 in 2009, the Dodgers are already up to 44 now with an eye on 48 – or even 50, the total from 2005.

Remember that the rankings are partly subjective, and encompass value for the entire 2010 season.

           
8/9 7/26 7/12 High Low Player Comment
1 1 1 1 20 Clayton Kershaw Holds top spot despite Nationals’ double Dunn.
2 2 2 2 14 Rafael Furcal Started only 72 of Dodgers’ first 112 games this season.
3 3 5 1 5 Hiroki Kuroda Retired last 17 batters Saturday.
4 4 3 1 11 Andre Ethier Off to good start in August, despite 0 for 3 Sunday.
5 7 8 7 18 Hong-Chih Kuo Dunn on Saturday was only fourth batter in ’10 Kuo has had to face with bases loaded.
6 10 10 6 12 Chad Billingsley Has allowed 0.5 HR/9 this season.
7 5 6 5 24 James Loney Two homers, one steal away from first career 10-10 season.
8 12 17 12 25 Vicente Padilla Leads NL in second-half ERA (1.04).
9 9 7 4 13 Jonathan Broxton If he struggles as games grow more meaningless, that won’t help his rep, will it?
10 8 9 1 11 Matt Kemp I’m already anticipating the 2011 Spring Training “Kemp is serious” stories.
11 6 4 3 12 Manny Ramirez You can’t tell me he isn’t missed in the lineup.
12 11 11 6 16 Casey Blake Averaging more than a strikeout a game in second half.
13 14 15 2 15 Russell Martin In first 20 career starts, in 2006, Dodgers went 17-3.
14 15 13 12 15 Blake DeWitt Homered off a lefty (Chris Capuano) in first week as a Cub.
15 16 14 13 21 Jamey Carroll Most steals (seven) by a Dodger without being caught in 2010 – until Sunday.
16 17 21 7 21 Carlos Monasterios Third on team in HR allowed with 10.
17 13 12 5 26 John Ely Season falling apart? Has allowed 16 runs in past 4 2/3 minor-league innings.
18 19 18 17 25 Ronald Belisario So, too early for him to start working on his 2011 visa paperwork now?
19 18 16 15 22 Jeff Weaver July torpedoed his season – might be back to non-roster status in Spring Training ’11.
20 20 19 8 20 Reed Johnson His next HBP will be 100th of his career.
21 21 22 21 24 Travis Schlichting With Belisario and Weaver awaiting returns, probably won’t see him until September.
22 22 23 15 23 Xavier Paul Michael Restovich (.854 OPS) was released when Paul went down, then resigned when Jay Gibbons went up.
23 24 24 9 24 Ramon Troncoso He and Belisario combined for 142 games in ’09, might not get 100 this year.
24 23 20 7 23 Ronnie Belliard Five HR in 24 games with Dodgers last year, two in 68 this year.
25 NR NR NR NR Ted Lilly Eleven strikeouts, no walks in first two Dodger starts? Not Ely, Lilly.
26 26 NR 26 26 Kenley Jansen No, even with Martin out, his catching career is done.
27 25 25 23 25 Justin Miller Returned to Isotopes with three shutout appearances, lowering AAA ERA to 1.93.
28 NR NR NR NR Ryan Theriot Carroll has won me over enough that I want him to stay in lineup over Theriot.
29 27 26 19 27 A.J. Ellis Second extra-base hit in 55 at-bats arrived Sunday.
30 28 27 25 29 Jon Link Wouldn’t be surprised to see him spend bulk of 2011 in majors.
31 29 28 23 29 Brad Ausmus 4 for 20 with a double at the plate this season – just like Padilla.
32 NR NR NR NR Octavio Dotel Dotel is one of those guys who came to the Dodgers about 5-10 years after first rumors.
33 NR NR NR NR Jay Gibbons Today marks third anniversary of last major-league hit before Sunday.
34 NR NR NR NR Scott Podsednik .536 OPS, two errors, one inside-the-park homer allowed in first 11 games as Dodger.
35 30 29 29 30 Chin-Lung Hu About to complete his sixth week on minor-league DL.
36 35 36 26 36 George Sherrill Believe it or not, second on team in games pitched behind Broxton.
37 31 30 17 31 Ramon Ortiz Pitched complete-game two-hitter for Buffalo on July 30; 0.93 ERA in past four starts.
38 32 31 27 32 Nick Green Signing with Padres in July not enough to keep San Diego from pursuing Miguel Tejada.
39 33 33 3 36 Charlie Haeger Now has better minor-league ERA this season than Ely.
40 37 NR 37 37 James McDonald Had career 2.78 ERA, 8.0 K/9, .684 OPS as reliever when traded for a reliever.
41 34 34 16 34 Garret Anderson As pinch-hitter, 12 for 50. Otherwise, 16 for 104.
42 36 35 22 36 Russ Ortiz This space for rent.
43 38 32 32 38 Scott Elbert Can’t remember the last time a significant L.A. prospect took a leave of absence like this.
44 39 NR 39 39 Jack Taschner Five years from now, I’m going to quiz you on the Jack Taschner Era.
Aug 08

It’s the most wonderful summertime post-All Star break Sunday of the year


Jae C. Hong/APJamey Carroll slides home with the Dodgers’ eighth run in the eighth inning on the eighth day of the eighth month.

Three hits and a walk for Jamey Carroll? Two hits and three runs for Ronnie Belliard? An RBI single from the newest Dodger, Jay Gibbons? Four runs in the first inning, on the way to a five-run, 8-3 victory?

It’s time to see how today’s Dodger victory measures up on … The Laugher Scale!

August Laughers: No. 2, behind Wednesday’s 9-0 win over San Diego!

Post All-Star Laughers: Also No. 2!

Summertime Laughers: No. 5! Behind Dodgers 14, Diamondbacks 1 (July 3), Dodgers 7, Cubs 0 (July 11), Dodgers 8, Giants 2 (June 30), but ahead of Dodgers 9, Yankees 4 (June 26, laughs chilled by use of Jonathan Broxton with a big lead).

Putting That 8-14 Start Behind Us Laughers:  A fine No. 9, behind Dodgers 12, Reds 0 (June 15), Dodgers 12, Cardinals 4 (June 7), Dodgers 13, Diamondbacks 3 (May 11), Dodgers 9, Pirates 3 (May 2).

2010: A Laugher Odyssey: Almost heaven at No. 11, behind Dodgers 14, Reds 6 (April 21), Dodgers 10, Pirates 2 (April 8)!

Home Laughers: No. 5!

Sunday Laughers: No. 3!

Sunday Summertime Laughers: No. 2!

Sunday Summertime Post-All-Star Laughters: No. 1! No. 1! No. 1! Celebrate good times, come on!