Jan 04

Pedal to the Lederer

Hopefully, we’ll learn Wednesday that Bert Blyleven has been elected to the Hall of Fame, capping what has to be the most effective grassroots campaigns for Cooperstown ever.

I’m speaking of the one led by Baseball Analysts blogger Rich Lederer, my former All-Baseball.com blogging colleague. Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com has a nice profile of Lederer. Here’s the start of it:

Rich Lederer is an investment manager. Stock and bond portfolios are his thing. He is the president and chief investment officer of Lederer & Associates Investment Counsel in Long Beach, Calif.

But Lederer loved batting averages long before calculating his first P/E ratio. He is a baseball guy. His father, the late George Lederer, covered the Los Angeles Dodgers for the Long Beach Independent-Press-Telegram through their first 11 seasons on the West Coast.

Lederer has since taken up the family business — as a hobby. In 2003, he founded a baseball blog, now called BaseballAnalysts.com. He writes at night, after his real job is done. The website hasn’t made him rich or famous. Yet, his words may soon resonate through the game’s most hallowed corridors.

If Bert Blyleven is elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, he will have Rich Lederer to thank.

Well . . . I suppose Blyleven should first thank his right arm — the one that produced 287 wins (more than Jim Palmer), 3,701 strikeouts (fifth all-time) and 60 shutouts (ninth all-time).

After that, the gratitude goes to Lederer’s noggin.

Blyleven has climbed steadily in the Baseball Writers’ Association of America voting since the founding of Lederer’s website. Blyleven, who polled below 30 percent on his first six times on the ballot, reached 74.2 percent last year. That did not happen by accident. …


* * *

Jan 04

The Hall of I Was There

It’s Tuesday. People have decided to stick with the work thing …

  • The Platoon Advantage has a fun (and lengthy) rundown of players who could have become eligible for the Hall of Fame this year but didn’t make the ballot. Former Dodgers include Terry Adams, Wilson Alvarez, James Baldwin, Roger Cedeno, Dave Hansen, Jose Offerman, Antonio Osuna, Paul Quantrill and Ismael Valdez. “Easy to forget now: Valdez (then spelled Valdes) looked like a potential Hall of Famer at age 25, by which point he’d already made 150 career starts with 61 wins and a 3.38 ERA (113 ERA+).”
  • Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus has a meaty look at the Dodgers’ top prospects. Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness compared Goldstein’s list with John Sickels’ recently published roundup at Minor League Ball.
  • Trayvon Robinson and Dee Gordon are having fun on Twitter, writes Chad Moriyama of Memories of Kevin Malone.
  • Great picture of Clayton Kershaw dancing in Africa passed along by Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy.
  • Meanwhile, Baly got a phone call from Steve Sax.
  • Two things I’ve felt for a while are articulated by Dan Rosenheck at the New York Times: Kevin Brown’s seven-year contract didn’t turn out poorly for the Dodgers, and Brown has better Hall of Fame credentials than many people believe. Rob Neyer echoes the points at ESPN.com.
  • Josh Wilker writes about Jose Canseco at Cardboard Gods.
Jan 03

Dominance

They’ve won two World Series in my lifetime and as recently as 2009 were the best in their league for the better part of a season, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Dodgers be as dominant as the Stanford football team was this season, even without a national title.

Forgive an excited alum, but it was an unbelievable year, on both sides of the ball.

So what was the most dominant Dodger team ever: 1963 or 1955? Or do you give it to a team like the 1953 Dodgers, which went 105-49 and won the National League by 13 games, only to lose in the World Series?

Jan 03

Dodgers sign Tim Redding to minor-league deal

Looks like the world is getting back to work …

  • The Dodgers signed Tim Redding to a minor-league contract. Redding, who will be 33 in February, had a 2.89 ERA in 109 Triple-A innings last year, following a 2009 major-league campaign in which his ERA was 5.10 with 76 strikeouts in 120 innings.
  • Albert Lyu of Fangraphs has a precision look at Matt Kemp’s struggles against fastballs in 2010 compared with the year before. “Kemp’s whiffs against lower-90s fastballs dramatically increased in the past year, nearly doubling that of the average hitter,” Lyu writes.
  • Ronald Belisario won a Venezeulan winter league closer of the year award, notes Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy.
  • Baly also passes along word of the arrival of Clayton and Ellen Kershaw in Africa.
  • Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness wonders if there is still room to add a second lefty reliever to the 2011 Dodger bullpen, especially because Hong-Chih Kuo can’t be wasted as someone who only faces lefty batters.
  • Alex Belth of Bronx Banter shares a sweaty, tongue-tied New York moment, co-starring Tina Fey.
  • Farewell, Anne Francis and Pete Postlewaite.
Jan 02

Jerry Sands: How close is he?

One in a series of at least one, on how close selected Dodger prospects are to the majors …

Jerry Sands
Vitals: OF/1B, 6-foot-4, 210-225 pounds, turned 23 on September 28.

Summary: From age 22 1/2 to age 23, Sands had a .395 on-base percentage and .586 slugging percentage with 35 homers in 590 plate appearances combined at Single-A Great Lakes and Double-A Chattanooga. In Double-A, Sands posted a .360/.529 with 17 homers in 303 plate appearances.

For comparison’s sake: From age 22 to age 22 1/2, Andre Ethier delivered a .383/.442 with seven homers in 471 plate appearances, all in Single-A. Then from age 23 to 23 1/2, Ethier offered .385/.497 with 18 homers in 572 plate appearances in Double-A (not counting a 17-plate appearance cup o’ joe at Triple-A). After starting 2006 strongly with the Dodgers’ Triple-A team, Ethier was promoted to the majors three weeks after turning 24.

Sobering: Sands struck out in about a quarter of his at-bats in the minors last year.

For what it’s worth: A younger Matt Kemp arrived in Los Angeles mere months after going .349/.569 in Single-A, and was in the majors for good less than two years after that Single-A year.

Quick and dirty conclusion: Obviously, Sands and Ethier are not the same player. Ethier had a better OBP but less power in the minors, among other differences. Still, I did find the juxtaposition interesting. It seems entirely plausible that Sands could get a quick promotion to Albuquerque in 2011. That would position him to make his big-league debut before the year is out and leave him a serious contender for a starting role in 2012.

Though there is almost zero chance Sands would start 2011 in the majors after only a half-season in Double-A – because Ned Colletti teams give veterans first crack in April – how Sands develops this year, against the background of how the Dodger major-league outfield shapes up, could speed up his timetable. He is also a potential understudy to James Loney.

Did you know? Sands stole 18 bases in 20 attempts in 2010 and is 24 for 27 in his pro career.