Dec 19

October 4, 1980: Saturday showdown at the Stadium


Getty ImagesJerry Reuss pitched 10 complete games in 29 starts for the Dodgers in 1980.

When the Dodgers were attempting to rally from three games behind Houston with three games to play on the final weekend of the 1980 regular season, I was on my school’s eighth-grade retreat at world-famous Camp Ta Ta Pochon.

I listened to the final innings of the Friday comeback victory with my transistor radio and an earphone while we were watching the rather odd youth movie, “Bless the Beasts and the Children.” And I listened to the final innings of Sunday’s dramatic triumph surrounded by classmates on the bus ride home.

But I had never heard a moment of the Saturday game until this week, when I was granted the privilege thanks to a cassette package mailed to me by longtime Dodger Thoughts friend and commenter Stan from Tacoma.  The Saturday game is the least discussed of the four games the Dodgers played against Houston to end the season, but it was a minor gem in its own right – an utterly taut affair from start to finish.

Jerry Reuss started for the Dodgers against future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan of the Astros. A high-profile free-agent signing, Ryan was in his first season in the NL since being traded from the Mets to Angels in December 1971. At age 33, Ryan had gotten his 3,000th career strikeout midway through 1980. His ERA in 1980 was a stylish 3.35, though given the advantages of pitching in the Astrodome, this was arguably a down year for the Express.

Reuss had come to the Dodgers before the 1979 season and been something of a disappointment, though his 7-14 record belied his 3.54 ERA. In any case, he began the 1980 season in the bullpen, before emerging as one of the team’s top starters: a 2.51 ERA and an National League-leading six shutouts, including his June 27 no-hitter at San Francisco.

Even with those credentials, Reuss was under the microscope of Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda. Just two batters into the game, after Reuss walked Houston leadoff hitter Joe Morgan on a 3-2 pitch and then gave up a single to Enos Cabell, Dodger radio announcer Jerry Doggett saw that Rick Sutcliffe – banished to relief after winning NL Rookie of the Year honors in 1979 – had gotten up in the bullpen.

But Reuss bounced back. He got Dodger nemesis Jose Cruz to pop to shortstop Derrel Thomas, and then Cesar Cedeno hit into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning. Sutcliffe sat down and never rose again, as Reuss went on to retire nine batters in a row.

The Dodgers struck first in the bottom of the second inning. Steve Garvey, who entered the game needing four hits for 200 on the season, notched a single on a blooper that Morgan normally would have caught. (Both second basemen were ailing: Morgan had strained his knee in Friday’s game, while Davey Lopes had a severely strained neck. Neither finished the Friday or Saturday games.)  One out later, Pedro Guerrero, the Dodgers’ center fielder, singled Garvey to second base.  Ryan struck out Joe Ferguson, but facing Thomas, the Dodger utilityman who had become the team’s starting shortstop in place of an injured Bill Russell, dropped a single the opposite way into left field to score Garvey for a 1-0 Dodger lead.

The Dodgers caught a break to score their first run; the Astros caught one to score theirs. With one out in the top of the fourth, Cruz hit one to center that Guerrero lost in the smoggy sky (Doggett and Vin Scully both commented on how ugly the air was this day). Cruz stole second, went to third on a Cedeno grounder and then scored on a single to center by Art Howe to tie the game.

Getty Images
With three hits against Nolan Ryan, Steve Garvey was on a .412/.452/.647 hot streak over his past 17 games.

The next run of the game was no gift.  Garvey started the bottom of the fourth with a no-doubter blast, his 26th homer of the season – giving him, as Scully noted, at least one home run against every NL team this season.  Garvey would later single in the sixth inning for his 199th hit of the season and ninth in 18 at-bats against Ryan. “If you can go 9 for 18 against a million-dollar pitcher, that’s like owning a condominium, isn’t it?” said an admiring Scully. “Garvey is undoubtedly one of the greatest hitters to wear a Dodger uniform,” added Doggett when he returned to the mic for the final three innings. “Undoubtedly.”

The score remained 2-1 entering the seventh inning, thanks in large part to huge defensive plays by Los Angeles. In the fifth, the aching Lopes managed to snag a line drive off Morgan’s bat and turn it into an inning-ending double play. And with one on and none out in the sixth, Thomas took a carom off Reuss’ glove and converted it into a 1-6-3 twin killing.  Then Guerrero, still struggling with the October sky, struggled with a Cedeno fly but managed to catch up to it to end the top of the sixth.

Like Garvey, Ryan was also on a quest for 200 – in fact, both of them entered the seventh inning at 199. In Ryan’s case, it was strikeouts, and he got his 200th on the second-to-last batter he faced.  The victim was Reuss, who went down after failing to sacrifice Joe Ferguson to second base.

Both teams went down in order in the eighth, Reuss easily navigating pinch-hitters Terry Puhl (the Astros’ leading home-run hitter in 1980 with the grand total of 13) and Jeffrey Leonard, while reliever Frank LaCorte held off Garvey’s final Saturday bid for his 200th hit. Reuss’ strikeout of Puhl was his seventh of the game, a season high.

That brought us to the ninth, with the crowd audibly willing the Dodgers to hold on.  By this time, the Dodgers had made three defensive replacements: Jack Perconte for Lopes at second base, Rudy Law for Dusty Baker (also hurting) in left field and Mickey Hatcher for Rick Monday in right field.  Those replacements proved meaningful both for what they didn’t and didn’t do.

First, Perconte made a nice play on a Cabell grounder to get the first out.

Then, Guerrero, again getting a late read, put the crowd in suspense before making yet another last-instant catch. The Dodgers were one out away from victory, but under 24 hours before, the same had been true of the Astros.

Up came Cedeno, who had been having a most unlucky day. This time, the luck turned – he hit a blooper that Perconte couldn’t reach, keeping the Astros alive. Art Howe then hit another blooper to center that Guerrero, playing deep to prevent an extra-base hit, had no chance at. Suddenly, the tying run was at third base for Houston.

With soon-to-be Rookie of the Year Steve Howe warming up in the bullpen, Dodger pitching coach Red Adams visited Reuss at the mound.  But there was no hook.  According to Reuss on the postgame show, Adams simply told him, “Just relax.”

Doggett, I should say at this point, was about the best I have ever heard him – totally on his game in describing the game and setting the scene.  “What excitement – what a series!” he said over the roaring crowd. The batter was Gary Woods, who had gotten the start over Puhl against the left-handed Reuss but had struck out three times. Finally making contact, he hit one to Perconte, in the thick of the fray in this, only his 14th major-league game. Perconte tossed to Garvey, and the Dodgers had stayed alive for one more day.

Reuss thanked the fans on the postgame show with Ross Porter. “I’ve heard it in other places, but not this many, this loud,” Reuss said. Porter asked Reuss about the fact that he was starting on three days’ rest. “I never gave it a thought until someone said something about it, and then I said, ‘What the heck.’ ”

Garvey also thanked the fans, and said how much he enjoyed the pressure situations. And then, as Porter thanked him for the interview, Garvey said, “Hi to Cyndy and the girls.”

Those fans listening on the radio who were geared up for hearing Scully do Sunday’s big game were in for a surprise. Here are his closing words for the day:

“Well, friends, it has been a magnificent day, a great weekend and a most exciting season, and of course  tomorrow the Dodgers and the Astros this time put it all on the line. All of the pressure had been on the Dodgers, but now it will be equally shared amongst the Astros, because they suddenly find themselves in a must-win situation. It’s Burt Hooton and Vern Ruhle. And I have a confession to make – I won’t be here, unfortunately, as my schedule has me doing a football game down in Anaheim. And my mind, and my eyes and all of my senses will be in Anaheim, but boy, will my heart ever be here at Dodger Stadium. Hope you’ll be here. Hope you’ll find out about tomorrow, and then if it be so, why it’ll be my pleasure to be talking to you again on Monday. So we’ll see. But right now, that’ll do it for today, from Dodger Stadium, as the Dodgers nip the Astros, 2-1.

The Rams would beat the 49ers, 48-26, and then we’d see Vin on Monday. I’d have that transistor radio with me at school.

Dec 17

I can’t believe I’m saying it, but I’m saying it: Tony Gwynn Jr. should start


Denis Poroy/AP
Tony Gwynn Jr.

As I walk through the valley of the shadow of no frontline left fielder, with yea but another candidate abandoning us to  aimless wanderings,  my thoughts seek a place to turn.

I believe that Xavier Paul, Jay Gibbons and Jamie Hoffmann can make positive contributions, but as I started to make a case for each of them in left field, I couldn’t finish the job. The offensive ceilings for Paul and Hoffmann just seem too low, and the defensive limitations of Gibbons too pronounced. I’m content to see them get a chance, but I just don’t have confidence it would go all that well.

The problem with turning to a 35-year-old Scott Podsednik is that his defense is pretty poor itself. Podsednik would probably post a better on-base percentage than any in-house Dodger candidate, but not so much better that he’d be worth more millions spent by Ned Colletti.

Minor-leaguers Jerry Sands and Trayvon Robinson? Despite their relative promise, only once in five seasons has Ned Colletti promoted a AA player into a major-league starting role in April, and that happened to Blake DeWitt only because injuries had left Chin-Lung Hu and Ramon Martinez as the only alternatives.  Paul, Hoffmann and Gibbons don’t fall to that level. And I’m not convinced that Colletti should break that policy right now, because unlike with Paul and Hoffmann, I imagine Sands and Robinson still have more to learn in the minors.

There’s a guy out there who would represent a pretty nice part-time addition to the roster, by the name of Manny Ramirez, but I know the Dodgers don’t want to go down that road.

That doesn’t exhaust all the possibilities, but there really isn’t much else to talk about in terms of difference-makers. And that’s why, more and more, I find myself ready to throw my lot with Tony Gwynn Jr. — if, as was discussed last week, he plays center field.

Of everyone discussed here, Gwynn offers the most elite skill, if not the only one — his defense.  He’s something of the polar opposite of Ramirez, and it seems to me that he is the one person left in the conversation who can truly transform the Dodger lineup. By placing him in center and moving Matt Kemp to right field and Andre Ethier to left, Gwynn would turn the Dodger outfield defense from a weakness to a strength.

At a minimum, it would be a low-risk way to buy some time until Sands or Robinson proves more ready to make the leap to the majors, possibly at midseason. Or, until the Dodgers decide to make their annual midseason trade.

I don’t think Colletti or Don Mattingly would be opposed to asking Kemp or Ethier to switch positions. Would either player rebel? Perhaps, although if they are that selfish, we’ve got other problems.

Here’s a Dodger lineup with Gwynn in center:

Rafael Furcal, SS
James Loney, 1B
Andre Ethier, LF
Matt Kemp, RF
Juan Uribe, 2B
Casey Blake, 3B
Rod Barajas, C
Tony Gwynn Jr., CF

Offensively, it’s shaky, but it’s not as if any of the other outfield options would save the day. But defensively, there’s actually hope.

I’ve looked at the Dodgers’ outfield dilemma many different ways — coming at the problem, in fact, with a bias against Gwynn signing with the team to begin with. There might be no more surprising event to me than making an argument for Gwynn to be in the Dodger starting lineup. But I just don’t see a better way to go right now.  Tony Gwynn Jr.  has a first-rate skill that no other Dodger has, and the Dodgers absolutely must consider taking advantage of it.

Dec 16

Russell Martin looks ahead following a rough goodbye to Los Angeles


Jason O. Watson/US Presswire
Russell Martin

It’s really a complicated dance between struggling player and dubious team.

As we now know, Russell Martin did not score any financial windfall by signing with the New York Yankees after parting ways with the Dodgers. So from a money standpoint, there’s no indication whatsoever that the Yankees wanted Martin more than the Dodgers did.

Further, we know the Dodgers had a handicap. They were bound to the possibility that Martin might earn a substantial  raise through salary arbitration, had they guaranteed him a 2011 contract at the December 2 deadline for eligible players. Martin himself understands why the Dodgers might not have wanted to take that risk.

Despite all that, it’s pretty clear from his introductory press conference with the New York Yankees — who have named him their starting catcher — that Martin’s ego was bruised by the whole experience.

On an emotional level, you can understand it, even if it isn’t quite logical.  Martin himself seemed to be struggling with the contradiction.

“Not necessarily surprised,” Martin said of his reaction to being non-tendered by the Dodgers. “I always knew that there was a possibility, and it was probably a tough call for them.  You have a guy who wasn’t doing that good past couple of years, and probably getting a raise again (if arbitration was involved.

“It definitely, definitely wasn’t easy, but it’s kind of hard to explain emotionally how I was feeling. It was just one of those things. … I really wanted to see how much they really wanted me, because if they did, they would have tendered me a contract. See if they still believed in me and things of that nature.  By doing (what they did), they kind of gave me the answer I wanted to find out about.”

The Yankees, essentially, never had the same opportunity to hurt Martin’s feelings (justifiably or not) the way the Dodgers did. And so, once that December 2 deadline had passed, a fresh start was inevitable.

Martin said he doesn’t regret the money he possibly might have lost in the transition.

“I just really wanted to find out, and the only way to find out how much a team wants you is you take a risk,” he said.

Of course, Martin represents a risk for the Yankees as well. Not only has he been recovering from his season-ending hip injury, but his physical revealed a small meniscus tear in his right knee that will require surgery. The recovery time is expected to be three weeks.

Not surprisingly, Martin said he isn’t concerned.

“It’s the first time I had any problems with my knees, so I really don’t know what to expect,” Martin said. “From what I’ve heard, it’s a pretty simple operation. I think CC (Sabathia) had it done at the end of the year. Three-week recovery, and obviously I have to rehab.  I’m not too concerned with it — obviously the timing’s bad, because it will affect my offseason training a bit. But from what I’ve heard, I will be ready by Spring Training.”

Martin added that his hip has felt fine for about a month. He said that he can’t say for sure how it would feel after catching 10-12 games in a row, but then conceded that people don’t necessarily want him to do that anymore, as much as he might resist rest.

“I like playing baseball, so it’s hard for me to not want to catch, ever,” Martin said. “My best years are probably the years where I’ve caught the most. I don’t really have a number in mind. I like to let the manager dictate those types of things. (Writer’s note: We’ve heard otherwise in past seasons.)

“I’ve learned through the years, when I do feel my body is banged up, it’s better for the team for me to take a day rather than drive myself into the ground and be worthless for the rest of the year.”

Martin also talked about his offensive struggles of the past two years. In recent winters, stories of Martin’s offseason training have often come across like warning signs, each year seemingly bringing a different approach. Mostly, he feels he lost strength, then tried to compensate with his swing and ended up fouling that up.

This winter, he suggests, brings the back-to-basics edition.

“I think it’s (been) just me trying to make adjustments to strive to be even better,” he said. “I’ve tried some things to be a little more athletic, a little faster, instead of sticking to the basics of what made me successful. I think I almost got in my own way. So this year, I made sure to go back to my roots … instead of trying to do more, just really trying to reflect back on what got me there.”

He noted that while his offense has regressed, he feels his defense and handling of pitchers has only improved.

In the end, Martin seems genuinely pleased with where he has ended up: closer to his family home, in an everyday role (health permitting) and with another (and of course potentially better) contender.

“My main goal is to have a chance to win,” Martin said, “and if you want to pick a place to win, I don’t think there’s any better place to pick than New York with the Yankees.

“They’ve told me that I’m the starting catcher, and that’s what I expect to be. That’s what I’m training to be.  Obviously, I feel like I need to earn that. I don’t feel that there’s anything owed to me or anything like that, especially the way the last two years have gone for me. But my goal is to go in there and do the best I can and help this team win.”

Martin doesn’t leave Los Angeles without some regret.

“We got a taste of what we wanted to accomplish,” he said, “but there’s only one winner, and the goal is to win the World Series. We got to the playoffs — we had some good seasons, (but) we fell short a couple of years. It was a great experience, a good learning process.

“Obviously, I’m disappointed  in how it all ended, but what can you do?”

Dec 16

Farewell, Bob Feller

APBob Feller

There’s so much good material online on the life of Bob Feller, I’ll just start you off by linking to Joe Posnanski’s remembrance. Then there’s David Wade at the Hardball Times, Tim Kurkjian at ESPN.com, mulitple pieces by Rob Neyer at ESPN.com and Keith Thursby at the Times.  Don’t skimp on your reading …

* * *

  • Further to Wednesday’s points about the dangers of offering relievers multiyear contracts comes this piece from Dave Cameron at Fangraphs.
  • Daniel Burke, co-owner of the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate in Chattanooga, is ailing — an emotional situation for the family, and tangentially, one that could affect the Dodgers’ future with the team. David Paschall of the Chattanooga Times Free Press has the story (brought to my attention by a Dodger Thoughts commenter).
  • Sons of Steve Garvey points us to this New York Times article about gadgets and such that might be coming to baseball, including this little slice of heaven:

    At one booth, Brian Traudt explained his company’s innovation, which could improve the fan experience at stadiums, unless some people actually enjoy waiting in line for three innings for a cheeseburger. The product, Bypass Lane, is a kind of E-ZPass for concession stands that is administered through an application on a smartphone.

    The user enters the stadium and confirms its location via GPS. Once the section, row and seat number are included, the application identifies all the concession stands and provides menus. The fan orders — and pays — from the phone. When the order is ready, the fan receives a text message to pick it up at a lane dedicated to Bypass Lane orders. The fan can skip the longer lines — though perhaps not the jealous glances of other fans.

  • I hope you caught Wednesday’s MLB Network rebroadcast of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series.  I was able to see the final six innings, and that was just a heap of fun.
Dec 15

Why Guerrier could lose the WAR

Just one more quick note on soon-to-be-newest Dodger reliever Matt Guerrier:

According to Baseball-Reference.com, Guerrier has had Wins Above Replacement values of 2.3 in 2009 (age 30 for most of the season) and 1.4 in 2010 (age 31).  The Dodgers’ expectation or hope in giving him a $12 million contract through 2013, presumably, is that he’ll repeat that performance over the next three years.

But since 1990, again according to Baseball-Reference.com, only three relievers above age 30 have had as many as five seasons with WAR over 1.0 without striking out more than 7.0 batters per nine innings (Guerrier’s career high). And none of those pitchers — David Weathers, Mike Timlin and Steve Reed — did so in more than three consecutive seasons.

In other words, what the Dodgers are asking Guerrier to do — be a productive reliever for a third, fourth and fifth season in a row after turning 30, without striking out many batters — has not been done by anyone in at least the past 20 years.

Update: To be precise, Jeff Reardon accomplished the feat from 1988-92. His first two seasons fell outside my original search. Dan Quisenberry (1983-87) and Kent Tekulve (1981-87) also succeeded. But that’s it since at least 1970.

Dec 15

Dodgers roll the dice with long-term bet on reliever Matt Guerrier


Bruce Kluckhohn/Getty Images
Matt Guerrier

The Dodgers are about to give a three-year, $12 million contract to Matt Guerrier, writes Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com. The deal was first reported by Newsday’s Eric Boland in a tweet.

Guerrier, who came up with the Minnesota Twins in 2004, has had a pretty fine career as a reliever, with a career ERA of 3.38. He has averaged 75.5 appearances the past four years. But the 32-year-old righty’s strikeout rate has dropped below six per nine innings over the past two seasons, and as Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. points out, his fielding independent ERA was over 4.00 last season, indicating he’s benefited from some luck. Add to that a batting average on balls in play over the past two seasons of .224, which is exceedingly lucky — and a warning sign considering that, as David Pinto of Baseball Musings writes, he’ll have a poorer defense behind him in Los Angeles.

So you know, there’s some stuff that’s good with Guerrier, and there’s some stuff that’s less good. With the exception of 2008, when his ERA soared above 5.00, the results have been there. The main concern might be asking him to continue being this productive from ages 32-35.

Since the Dodgers’ last won a World Series, according to Baseball-Reference.com, the following pitchers have had an ERA below 4.00 with a K/9 rate below 7.00 for three consecutive seasons after turning 32, pitching a minimum of 50 innings: David Weathers, Steve Reed, Paul Quantrill, Terry Leach, Chris Hammond, Ryan Franklin and Jeff Reardon. I realize that ERA isn’t a very good way to measure the quality of relief pitching, but I’m just exploring the possibility of someone being good, not making any definitive statement.

So you have that. He might be good, maybe for a long time.

Against that, though, I would still offer that relievers are simply, unavoidably, notoriously inconsistent. We’ve detailed this frequently in the past, but to sum up, it’s exceedingly rare that relievers don’t go through bad spells, and when you try to jump on the bandwagon of one that’s been successful for a while, the odds grow against you.

There have been 66 pitchers for the Dodgers in the Ned Colletti era, from Jonathan Broxton to Mark Loretta. The highlights in the bullpen have been the low-risk investments, coming up through the farm system or coming in as cheap free agents, who have paid dividends.  Perhaps, based on the failures of the 2010 bullpen, Colletti has decided he can’t play that game anymore, though you’d think George Sherrill might dissuade him from placing such a big bet on Guerrier.

Guerrier joins a bullpen that, if the season were starting today, would include Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo, Kenley Jansen, Vicente Padilla, Blake Hawksworth and Ronald Belisario, with Ramon Troncoso, Carlos Monasterios, Travis Schlichting and Scott Elbert among those waiting in the wings.  That’s a deep bullpen, indicating at least one of three things — Colletti doesn’t see any hope for additions to the Dodger offense, he doesn’t intend to tolerate any weakness on the pitching staff, or someone’s being lined up as trade bait.

Dec 15

Martin’s base salary with Yanks lower than Dodgers’ final offer

According to Buster Olney of ESPN.com, Russell Martin’s base salary with the Yankees will be $4 million – lower than the Dodgers’ final offer to him two weeks ago. Not sure what the incentives were in the case of the Yankees’ deal – with the Dodgers, it’s been reported that he could have earned $1.5 million in incentives. Martin has passed his physical, Olney reported.

Dec 14

Did you know …


Ed Kolenovsky/AP
Nolan Ryan pitching his record-breaking fifth career no-hitter.

… that when Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan no-hit the Dodgers on September 26, 1981, he had been winless in his past 11 starts against Los Angeles? After hanging on for a victory against the Dodgers on June 23, 1968, Ryan was 0-7 with the Mets and Astros against the Dodgers. In that stretch, he had a 3.79 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 73 2/3 innings. After the no-hitter, Ryan racked up 10 more wins against the Dodgers in 25 starts.

Just a little random trivia to brighten your day …

Dec 14

Russell Martin heads to the Bronx


Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Curtis Granderson scores the fourth run of the ninth inning for the Yankees ahead of Russell Martin’s tag June 27.

When Russell Martin last saw the Yankees, it was as he was being ejected in the 10th inning after striking out against Mariano Rivera on the night the Dodgers’ season turned nightmarish — the 8-6 collapse at Dodger Stadium on June 27.

Reportedly, Martin will be catching Rivera next season, as it appears he has signed with the Bronx Bombers. Financial information to come.

Farewell, Coltrane … you left me with a lot of good memories.

Dec 13

Cliff Lee returns to Philadelphia, but let’s play the 2011 season anyway

Looks like the real deal. Some links before bedtime:

  • From Dave Cameron of Fangraphs

    If there’s a four-man rotation that has ever looked this dominant heading into a new year, I can’t find it. It is almost certainly in the discussion for the greatest four-man rotation of all time.

    There is one big asterisk on all this, though: as those great Braves teams show, a ridiculously great rotation is not enough to start planning a parade. The Phillies are certainly contenders, but they’re going to need more than just their Big Four to win it all.

  • Matthew Pouliot of Hardball Talk

    There’s no doubt that the Phillies’ rotation has a chance to be historically great, with two likely Cy Young candidates and two other starters that could rank among the NL’s 10 best, but this is still a team with issues. …

  • Keith Law of ESPN.com

    Assuming the Phillies don’t do what they did the last time they acquired another No. 1 starter — turn around and trade one of their incumbent aces — they now have a terrifyingly good rotation for the 2011 and 2012 seasons (after which Cole Hamels is a potential free agent) with the addition of Cliff Lee.

    The benefit in October is slimmer — but at least October conversations can already be entertained — since Roy Oswalt suddenly becomes the seldom-used fourth starter, but the Phillies will prevent a lot of runs over the course of the regular season by replacing their fifth-starter mess with Lee.

    As for the apparent size of the contract — five years and $120 million with a vesting option for a sixth, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick — Lee is 32 and had some minor back trouble in 2010, but the best free agent on the market almost never signs for just five years, and other than the back problem Lee is about as low-risk a starter as you’ll find this side of Roy Halladay. It’s actually very good value for the Phillies relative to what Lee-level starters have gotten in free agency, and I like Lee’s chances as a plus-plus command guy to retain most of his value even if he loses one or two mph on his fastball. …

    Given his contract situation, Philly could look to move Hamels for a right-handed hitter for the middle of their lineup, as losing Jayson Werth takes away most of the gain from reacquiring Lee and leaves them very left-handed. Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, and Raul Ibanez are all on the wrong side of 30 and more likely to decline/get hurt than to improve. Rollins has been often hurt and in the midst of a four-year free fall, Utley has foght injuries, and Howard and Ibanez are just declining. Domonic Brown is an outstanding prospect, but won’t match Werth’s production, and Brown is also left-handed. Amaro has put together an enviable rotation, to say the least, but the Phils are oddly unbalanced now and it’s strange (but not bad) to see them commit this money to Lee with an old, injury-prone lineup staring them in the face.

I know some Dodger fans will only be jealous and bitter. Me … I’m jealous, but I won’t be bitter. It won’t be the first time I’ve been on the downside of an uphill battle.

Dec 13

Eugenio Velez wins a trip to Camelback

Thinking of a Dodger bench trio that could be made up of Juan Velez Mitchell (almost no one will get that joke, and those who do won’t laugh) …

  • Add Eugenio Velez to the Dodgers’ list of non-roster invitees to Spring Training 2011. Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has details.
  • Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. has drawn up Clayton Kershaw’s five-year, $36 million contract with the Dodgers, leaving both parties the small detail of signing it.
  • How bad were the free agent signings of 2006-07? Dave Cameron of Fangraphs shows you.
  • If MLB worked like the BCS, here’s what the bowl matchups would have been, according to Dayn Perry of Notgraphs.
  • You’ve probably seen it, but the video of the snow pouring through the collapsed Metrodome roof in Minnesota is pretty amazing.
  • Sons of Steve Garvey passes along a link to Peter Keating’s ESPN.com post discussing Sandy Koufax’s perfect game as the most perfect of perfect games.
  • Fun list at Baseball-Reference.com of the players who hit the most home runs while playing in under 1,000 career games.  No. 5: Henry Rodriguez.
  • MLB Network’s first-time-in-50-years broadcast of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series is Wednesday. Set your DVRs.
Dec 12

Wes Parker’s magical 1970


Jim Kerlin/APWes Parker

In 1970, a guy who hit 10 home runs for a team that finished 14 1/2 games out of first place finished fifth in the National League Most Valuable Player race.

It’s not the most shocking thing in history, but it did surprise me to see.

Wes Parker batted .319 with 111 RBI and a league-high 47 doubles. The RBI total was impressive, though it only tied him for eighth in the NL (it was also 63 percent higher than his previous career best). In batting average, he was fifth. Parker did have that excellent fielding reputation – he won the fourth of six consecutive Gold Gloves in 1970, a year that, as you know, he also hit for the cycle.

That was enough to earn Parker recognition as the No. 5 player in the league – behind only Johnny Bench, Billy Williams, Tony Perez and Bob Gibson, and ahead of such players as Pete Rose, who batted .316 with 15 homers for the pennant-winning Cincinnati Reds, 1969 MVP Willie McCovey (.289 with 39 homers and 126 RBI), Hank Aaron (.298, 38, 118) and Joe Torre (.325, 21, 100).

It’s a little curious, isn’t it?

Dec 10

The return of Jody Reed


Getty ImagesJody Reed finished his 11-season major-league career with Detroit in 1997.

Jody Reed, famous in Dodger history for his domino role in the Pedro Martinez “Buttercup” trade of 1993, is returning to the organization as manager of the franchise’s Arizona League rookie team and Camelback Ranch – Glendale Coordinator of Instruction.

Reed served as the Yankees’ minor league defensive coordinator for the past two seasons.  No doubt, come Spring Training, he’ll field a question or two revisiting what happened in his contract negotiations following the 1993 season.

Former Dodger (and everywhere) reliever Matt Herges will be Reed’s pitching coach.

Lorenzo Bundy, meanwhile, will replace Tim Wallach and manage at Albuquerque. Bundy managed the Dodgers’ Triple-A team in Las Vegas from 2007-08.

Here’s the full list of assignments:

Field Coordinator: Bruce Hines
Senior Advisor, Player Development: P.J. Carey, Gene Clines, Charlie Hough
Hitting Coordinator: Eric Owens
Pitching Coordinator: Rafael Chaves
Outfield/Baserunning Coordinator: Rodney McCray
Infield Coordinator: Matt Martin
Catching Coordinator: Travis Barbary
Campo Las Palmas Coordinator: Henry Cruz
Field Coordinator, Campo Las Palmas: Antonio Bautista

Triple-A Albuquerque:
Manager: Lorenzo Bundy
Hitting Coach: John Valentin
Pitching Coach: Glenn Dishman

Double-A Chattanooga:
Manager: Carlos Subero
Hitting Coach: Franklin Stubbs
Pitching Coach: Chuck Crim

Single-A Rancho Cucamonga:
Manager: Juan Bustabad
Hitting Coach: Michael Boughton
Pitching Coach: Hector Berrios

Single-A Great Lakes:
Manager: John Shoemaker
Hitting Coach: Lenny Harris
Pitching Coach: Kremlin Martinez

Rookie-advanced Ogden:
Manager: Damon Berryhill
Hitting Coach: Johnny Washington
Pitching Coach: Bill Simas

Rookie-level Arizona League Dodgers:
Manager/Camelback Ranch – Glendale Coordinator of Instruction: Jody Reed
Hitting Coach: Leo Garcia
Pitching Coach: Matt Herges

Rookie-level Dominican Summer League Dodgers:
Manager: Pedro Mega
Hitting Coach: Esteban Lopez
Pitching Coach: Alejandro Pena
Roving Guest Instructor: Ramon Martinez
Catching Coach: Jose D. Hernandez
Assistant Coach: Rafael Ozuna

Camelback Ranch – Glendale:
Camelback Ranch Pitching Coach: Jim Slaton
Coach/Exchange Program Instructor: Daisuke Yamashita