Apr 25

MLB’s Dodger trustee is from Texas

For some reason I had it in my head that Bud Selig would choose someone with a past connection to the Dodgers or Los Angeles, but it turns out that former Texas Rangers president J. Thomas Schieffer is Major League Baseball’s new hired son-of-a-gun to run the Dodgers’ operations. From The Associated Press:

… Schieffer was an investor in the ownership group headed by George W. Bush and Rusty Rose that purchased the Rangers in 1989. He was the club president from 1991-99 and the franchise’s general partner from November 1994 until June 1998.

In seizing control of the franchise, MLB told the Dodgers that any expenditure of $5,000 or more would have to be approved.

“Tom is a distinguished public servant who has represented the nation with excellence and has demonstrated extraordinary leadership throughout his career,” Selig said in a statement. “The many years that he spent managing the operations of a successful franchise will benefit the Dodgers and Major League Baseball as a whole.”

The Fort Worth native was the club’s partner in charge of ballpark development before the 1994 opening of the Rangers’ new stadium. The Rangers won their first three AL West titles in 1996 and 1998-99 during Schieffer’s tenure.

As the president of the Rangers, Schieffer was a member of several significant MLB committees and boards, including the 1999 Blue Ribbon Task Force on Baseball Economics. An attorney who specialized in oil and gas matters and investment management, the 63-year-old Schieffer served three terms as a Democrat in the Texas House of Representatives after being elected at the age of 25.

Schieffer served as the U.S. ambassador to Australia from 2001-05 and then as the ambassador to Japan from 2005-09 under President George W. Bush. …

Apr 24

Trayvon Robinson making his own case

Eric Risberg/APTrayvon Robinson

Hot starts from Dodger minor leaguers:

Trayvon Robinson, 23, OF, Albuquerque
63 plate appearances, .429 on-base percentage, .661 slugging percentage, four homers, six walks, 19 strikeouts

Jon Link, 27, RP, Albuquerque
12 1/3 innings, 16 baserunners, 10 strikeouts, 2.19 ERA

Bryan Cranston, 55, UT, Albuquerque
No stats, only video.

Corey Smith, 29, 3B, Chattanooga-Albuquerque
63 plate appearances, .397 on-base percentage, .483 slugging percentage, one homer, five walks, 10 strikeouts

Scott Van Slyke, 24, OF, Chattanooga
54 plate appearances, .463 on-base percentage, .830 slugging percentage, three homers, six walks, 10 strikeouts

Michael Antonini, 25, SP, Chattanooga
17 2/3 innings, 20 baserunners, 12 strikeouts, 1.53 ERA

Rubby De La Rosa, 22, SP, Chattanooga
15 1/3 innings, 20 baserunners, 19 strikeouts, 1.76 ERA

Nathan Eovaldi, 21, SP, Chattanooga
15 innings, 18 baserunners, 16 strikeouts, 1.20 ERA

Austin Gallagher, 22, 1B, Rancho Cucamonga
62 plate appearances, .468 on-base percentage, .632 slugging percentage, two homers, five walks, seven strikeouts

Gorman Erickson, 23, C, Rancho Cucamonga
49 plate appearances, .490 on-base percentage, .575 slugging percentage, no homers, nine walks, seven strikeouts

Steven Ames, 23, RP, Rancho Cucamonga
8 1/3 innings, seven baserunners, 15 strikeouts, 1.08 ERA

Jonathan Garcia, 19, OF, Great Lakes
65 plate appearances, .354 on-base percentage, .712 slugging percentage, six homers, five walks, 17 strikeouts

Garrett Gould, 19, SP, Great Lakes
17 innings, 14 baserunners, 12 strikeouts, 1.59 ERA

Zach Lee, 19, SP, Great Lakes
14 innings, 21 baserunners, 21 strikeouts, 1.29 ERA

Shawn Tolleson, 23, RP, Great Lakes
6 1/3 innings, seven baserunners, 16 strikeouts (out of 19 total outs), 0.00 ERA

Apr 24

Dodgers end Sands’ first week on winning note


Charles Cherney/APCasey Blake wrist-fives Jerry Sands after the rookie outfielder threw out Aramis Ramirez in the sixth inning.

Jerry Sands has the most relaxed batting stance. His bat is slung low on his shoulder like a hobo’s knapsack, projecting the calm of a traveler with little to his name but untold adventures ahead.

Sands has finished his first week in the big leagues, and like any vagabond’s journey, it’s had its highs and lows. There was his crowd-pleasing debut double, but soon after, an 0-for-16 skid with but a bases-loaded walk as a highlight.

Sands may yet end up back in the minor leagues before his career takes full flight – the same happened to predecessors like Matt Kemp, who continued to key the Dodger offense in today’s 7-3 victory over the Cubs. Even after an RBI double in today’s five-run first inning (not to mention an outfield assist in the sixth), Sands still only has a .502 OPS and has struck out in more than 30 percent of his at-bats. I’m not one for seriously reading tea leaves or batting stances, so I don’t know if he has the bearing of a winner, a loser or something in between.

But I can tell you what I like to think. What I like to think is that Sands’ travelin’ man stance is a harbinger of his being in this for the long haul. I’d also like to think the same about his team.

* * *

So yes, the Dodgers jumped all over Carlos Zambrano today, with their first five batters reaching base and scoring, ignited by a leadoff triple by Aaron Miles (3 for 5 and yes, I’m aware of the timing).

Charles Cherney/APIt was a duck-and-cover day in Chicago.

Casey Blake was hit by a pitch, though apparently having nothing to do with the little stolen-base dustup from Friday. Andre Ethier extended his hitting streak to 21 games with an infield single to drive in the first run, Kemp (like Ethier, 2 for 5) singled in Blake, Sands doubled in Ethier, and James Loney and Rod Barajas followed with RBIs to give the Dodgers 25 runs in their past 17 innings.

It appeared that Hiroki Kuroda might give it all back in the bottom of the first. Thanks to three hits and a Jamey Carroll error, two runs scored and Alfonso Soriano came to bat as the tying run. But Kuroda struck him out, just as he struck out two other batters in the first inning and seven overall in the first three innings. Kuroda ended up completing 6 2/3 innings, allowing two earned runs and nine hits while walking nobody.

In contrast to Saturday’s eighth-inning collapse, Dodger relievers shut down the Cubs today, with Mike MacDougal, Blake Hawksworth and Jonathan Broxton combining for 2 1/3 innings and allowing two baserunners.

The Dodgers gained a game on Colorado and San Francisco, taking sole possession of second place in the National League West, three games behind the Rockies.

Apr 24

Tumblin’ dice

Next roll for Andre Ethier – longest April hitting streak in major-league history. From the Dodgers via Elias Sports Bureau and Trent McCotter from the Society of American Baseball Research:

Joe Torre (22), April 6-28, 1972
Danny Bautista (21), April 7-30, 2004
Rico Carty (20), April 8-30, 1970
Andre Ethier (20), April 2-current, 2011
Steve Garvey (20), April 7-30, 1978

Seasons used to start later than they do today.

The longest hitting streak by a Dodger since 1988 is Paul Lo Duca’s 25-game skein in 2003. Here’s the all-time Dodger top 10:

31 Willie Davis, 1969
27 Joe Medwick, 1942
27 Duke Snider, 1953
25 Paul Lo Duca, 2003
25 Steve Sax, 1986
25 Willie Davis, 1971
25 Buzz Boyle, 1934
25 Harvey Hendrick, 1929
24 John Shelby, 1988
24 Zack Wheat, 1924

Longest consecutive-game streaks for a Dodger reaching base:

58 Duke Snider, 1954
53 Shawn Green, 2000
47 Ron Cey, 1975
44 Len Koenecke, 1934
44 Zack Wheat, 1919
43 Augie Galan, 1945
41 Eric Karros, 1994
40 Babe Herman, 1926
39 Steve Saz, 1986
39 Billy Grabarkewitz, 1970
39 Duke Snider, 1953
39 Jim Gilliam, 1953

The Snider and Gilliam streaks intersected for 21 days in August.

Apr 23

And once more around the block for Brett Tomko …

You didn’t see him mentioned in my last post because he hasn’t gotten into a game yet, but Brett Tomko is back in the majors, with Texas. Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com has the story.

Here are some other links from the past week …

Apr 23

Russell Martin has gone nuts


Rob Carr/Getty ImagesRussell Martin is congratulated after his second home run tonight.

Russell Martin has hit two home runs tonight and now has six in 16 games with the Yankees. In 97 games with the Dodgers last season, he hit five.

Martin has a .400 on-base percentage and .722 slugging percentage in 2011. There was always the chance he would bounce back, but this is ridiculous.

Here’s how some other recent ex-Dodgers are doing this season (stats through Friday).

OPS (Plate appearances)
1.000 (17) Reed Johnson, Cubs
.983 (56) Russell Martin, Yankees
.980 (58) Wilson Betemit, Royals
.810 (59) J.D. Drew, Red Sox
.750 (16) Andruw Jones, Yankees
.736 (91) Ryan Theriot, Cardinals
.700 (33) Andy LaRoche, A’s
.658 (54) Jim Thome, Twins
.646 (82) Orlando Hudson, Padres
.646 (16) Blake DeWitt, Cubs
.637 (59) Wilson Valdez, Phillies
.628 (94) Juan Pierre, White Sox
.343 (15) Jason Repko, Twins
.182 (12) Chin-Lung Hu, Mets
.118 (17) Manny Ramirez, Rays
.000 (7) Cody Ross, Giants

ERA (Innings)
2.16 (8 1/3) Danys Baez, Phillies
3.18 (22 2/3) Randy Wolf, Brewers
3.21 (14) Guillermo Mota, Giants
3.25 (27 2/3) Derek Lowe, Braves
3.51 (25 2/3) Edwin Jackson, White Sox
3.86 (4 2/3) George Sherrill, Braves
5.40 (5) Octavio Dotel, Blue Jays
6.00 (3) Joe Beimel, Rockies
8.44 (21 1/3) Brad Penny, Tigers
8.59 (7 1/3) Will Ohman, White Sox
9.00 (2) Takashi Saito, Braves
10.13 (18 2/3) James McDonald, Pirates

McDonald has allowed 16 earned runs in his past eight innings. Penny threw seven innings of one-hit, shutout ball today to lower his ERA to 6.35 and beat Jackson, who allowed seven runs.

Apr 23

Dodgers out-rallied in 10-8 loss to Cubs


Nam Y. Huh/APMatt Kemp was ivy bait in the early going, before the seeds were planted for a Dodger comeback.

This looked like one of those balance-the-scales games – everything that went right for the Dodgers on Friday would go wrong today.

Then it looked like a testament to the Dodgers’ resiliency over a tumultuous week.

In the end, it turned out to be one of those “Who knows, anything goes” contests we’ve seen time and again from the blue boys. The Dodgers stormed back from a 5-1 deficit to an 8-5 lead today in Chicago, before previously unscored-upon reliever Matt Guerrier allowed five smackers in the bottom of the eighth for a 10-8 Dodger loss.

Despite starting pitcher Ted Lilly allowing 11 hits to 23 batters, despite Jerry Sands losing a fly ball in the sun, despite two outfield misplays by Matt Kemp, despite the Dodgers picking off two runners in the fourth inning and throwing out neither, Los Angeles looked like it would roll to a four-game winning streak after rallying for seven unanswered runs from the fifth inning to the seventh.

Homers by Casey Blake (2 for 3, two walks, .962 OPS this season) and Kemp off Chicago’s Ryan Dempster accounted for three runs in the top of the fifth inning, cutting the Cubs’ lead to one. Then came a noteworthy decision by Cubs manager Mike Quade.

Lilly exited after allowing a one-out single in the bottom of the fifth, and Mike MacDougal walked two of the next three batters to load the bases. That brought up Dempster, who was coming off his rough top of the fifth and was already in the neighborhood of 90 pitches. Quade let Dempster bat, and though he nearly got away with it when MacDougal’s wildness sent the count to 2-0 and 3-2, Dempster struck out swinging.

Dempster’s next batter, Rod Barajas, homered to tie the game to start the sixth.

Perhaps the most dramatic moment came later in the inning. After Tony Gwynn Jr.’s pinch-triple and Casey Blake’s two-out walk, Quade finally pulled Dempster in favor of lefty reliever Sean Marshall. Marshall faced Andre Ethier, who was 5 for 23 against left-handers this season. With his 19-game hitting streak was on the line. On a 1-2 pitch, Ethier lined a double to right field, scoring both runners and giving the Dodgers the lead.

Sands later helped manufacture the Dodgers’ eighth run when he singled, stole second, went to third on a throwing error and scored on a Barajas groundout even though the infield was in.

Jemaine Clement
-lookalike Vicente Padilla protected the lead in his season debut, retiring all three batters he faced in the sixth, and Guerrier sailed through the bottom of the seventh. But the Cubs pummeled Guerrier in the eighth.

Starlin Castro, the 21-year-old who went 4 for 5 to raise his season OPS to .947, drove in two, and then an RBI forceout by Darwin Barney tied the game. A bloop single by Aramis Ramirez extended the inning and knocked Guerrier out. Blake Hawkworth relieved, and gave up a two-run double to Baker to complete the eighth-inning disaster.

James Loney tried to tie the game in the ninth with a fly ball after Sands walked, but like his 2011 season, it fell far short. Carlos Marmol struck out Barajas, and the game was over.

Loney went 0 for 5, his on-base percentage falling to .191 and his slugging percentage to .212.

The Cubs continued their unprecedented run of early season .500 baseball. They have been 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8, 9-9 and now 10-10 this year. The Dodgers, meanwhile, fell to 11-11.

* * *

In case you weren’t sure, Hector Gimenez’s knee injury is legit. Gimenez, who was placed on the disabled list April 10 to (conveniently, it seemed) make room for the callup of John Ely, will have arthroscopic surgery next week. Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has details in a story that also heralds a minor-league rehab assignment for Hong-Chih Kuo and tells us about leg-soreness for Juan Uribe.

* * *

Here’s Jackson’s update from Don Mattingly on the controversial A.J. Ellis steal attempt from Friday:

… Mattingly, in his first year as Dodgers manager, confirmed it was a mix-up but defended a running play in that situation.

“Long story short, we missed the sign,” Mattingly said. “We weren’t trying to run there. Definitely weren’t going to run A.J. We weren’t doing it but it is Wrigley and the other day we did give up eight runs in the ninth. We’re trying to win a game, but we weren’t running there.” …

With what happened today, I suggested Quade issue a retroactive approval of the steal attempt.

Apr 23

Write this down: You can try to steal with a big lead

Cubs manager Mike Quade is mad that A.J. Ellis attempted to steal with the Dodgers holding a seven-run lead in the fifth inning Friday, writes Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com. Preposterous.

Just as it’s crazy to be told that you’re not allowed to bunt for a base hit to break up a no-hitter, even if the game is close, it’s just plain dumb to suggest that a team with a lead should stop trying in the middle of a game. Should the Dodgers stop trying to get on base as well?

What’s funny is that the supposed insult didn’t even come with, say, the 10-run lead in the ninth. Four more runs were scored after Ellis was thrown out stealing. If the Cubs had scored those runs, the game would have been back in doubt, just like that.

What’s funniest is that someone, as soon as today, will purposely throw a baseball near someone else’s head, and we’ll be told that’s the mature response.

“I’ve got to brush up on my unwritten rules things,” Quade said. “There might be a Los Angeles and Milwaukee (referring to a similar incident) version I need to read.”

Sometimes sarcasm speaks the truth.

* * *

  • Today, Andre Ethier can tie Steve Garvey (1978) for the longest Los Angeles Dodger hitting streak ever in April.
  • I didn’t get around to mentioning this earlier, but Vicente Padilla was activated Friday and Ramon Troncoso was optioned.
Apr 23

Dodgers give Cubs walking pneumonia in 12-2 victory

With two out in the eighth inning, Dodger second baseman Juan Uribe worked the count to 3-2, and Friday’s game reached the height of suspense. With one more ball, Uribe could become the ninth and final member of the Dodger starting lineup to draw a walk.

Alas, Uribe swung and grounded to short.  But hold on – there was still one more inning, a ninth inning that saw the Dodgers send eight men to the plate.  Matt Kemp stood at the plate with Uribe on deck, swinging his walking stick.

Alas, Kemp flied to right on the Cubs’ 230th pitch of the game, and Uribe was left bereft.

Despite this failing, there was a bright side to Friday’s game.  The Dodgers drew 10 walks in all and slung out 14 hits in a 12-2 romp over the Cubs, doubling the Dodgers’ previous biggest margin of victory of the season. Over a three-day period, the Dodgers have outscored their opponents 23-6, moving into a virtual tie with the Giants for second place in the National League West, three games behind Colorado.

Uribe’s week-long surge has been a big part of that. Since Sunday, the slow-starting import from San Francisco has gone 10 for 23 with two homers and nine RBI.  Betting on him to walk is still a slim proposition – he’s done so once against seven strikeouts this week – but it’s made a big difference to have someone below the cleanup spot hitting the ball, even if more hope had been placed in Jerry Sands.

Sands was the only Dodger starter to go hitless Friday, though he did walk with the bases loaded in the Dodgers’ six-run third inning. The rookie is hitless in his past 13 plate appearances, which looks bad, although Uribe could certainly tell him things could be worse. (Uribe, by the way, is not in today’s starting lineup for the Dodgers.)

Kemp, Jamey Carroll, Casey Blake, Andre Ethier and A.J. Ellis all reached base three times Friday, while Uribe, James Loney and Chad Billingsley did so twice. Blake, Ethier, Kemp and Ellis all have on-base percentages about .400.  Marcus Thames added his second pinch-hit homer of the season.

Meanwhile, in his second consecutive nice start, Billingsley did not allow an earned run until the seventh inning. He has struck out 27 in 28 1/3 innings. Also bouncing back were Kenley Jansen (four strikeouts in 1 2/3 perfect innings) and Lance Cormier (a shutout ninth).

Ellis allowed a passed ball in the fourth inning that cost Billingsley a chance at a shutout; Carroll and Blake later made errors.

Apr 22

The thin line between ebb and flow: Dodgers 5, Braves 3

I was prepared to write a pretty quick take on Thursday’s game, along the lines of how weird it is that Juan Uribe only seems to hit well when Matt Kemp doesn’t.

And then Kemp, who had struck out three times earlier in the game, went and hit … very, very well. 

Kemp’s two-run home run in the bottom of the 12th inning was his second walkoff shot in five days, beating the Braves, 5-3, and helping the Dodgers reach a split of their first 20 games this season despite being outscored 94-68 in the process.

Los Angeles will try for the fifth time this year for its first three-game winning streak of the year today in Chicago.

Kemp’s blast was his fourth of 2011, putting him on pace for 30-plus homers this season (along with 60-odd steals). It also helped him stay ahead in the team OPS lead ahead of Andre Ethier, who extended his hitting streak to 18 games with two hits, including a double ahead of Kemp’s home run.

Few could understand why the Braves didn’t walk Kemp intentionally in the 12th to face Uribe. Considering that Kemp’s run was meaningless, the only possible explanation was a flimsy one – that based on the previous 3 1/2 days, Atlanta thought Uribe was the most dangerous hitter. After starting the season 8 for 52, Uribe was 7 for 16 against the Braves, including his first home run of the season to tie Thursday’s game 1-1 in the sixth inning.

To each manager his own …

Casey Blake’s solo shot in the next inning put the Dodgers ahead and seemed to give Clayton Kershaw all he needed for the victory. Kershaw, who retired his first 10 batters and took a three-hitter into the ninth (in addition to a career-high two hits at the plate), came within one out of breezing to the finish line before he loaded the bases on two singles and a walk. 

Don Mattingly went to the mound to talk to Kershaw, who had now thrown 119 pitches. Instead of going to Jonathan Broxton, Mattingly stayed with Kershaw. Given how Broxton has pitched lately, I know there was lots of support for this decision. I’m not sure I would have done differently while standing face-to-face with the pitcher, but from afar, the walk to load the bases might have been as far as I would have let Kershaw go. Mattingly had already tried letting Kershaw bail himself out of his own jam with a high pitch count in his last start, and Kershaw gave up a deep fly by David Freese and a three-run homer by Mr. Allen Craig of St. Louis.

My other concern is that Kershaw has now set a career high in pitches in two of his past three starts, throwing 340 pitches in 11 days.  

Kershaw got ahead in the count 0-2, then gave up a two-run single to former Dodger David Ross, but Jamey Carroll and Blake (3 for 6) bailed the pitcher out in the bottom of the ninth. Carroll walked, took second on a wild pitch and scored on Blake’s single.

Broxton, who relieved Kershaw after Ross’ hit, retired four of five batters he faced, and then Matt Guerrier pitched two shutout innings, surviving two two-out singles in the 11th before a 1-2-3 12th.

At which point, the game flowed back to Kemp …

* * *

Cubs at Dodgers, 11:20 a.m.

Apr 21

April 21 game chat

Since Wednesday’s big news, there’s a guy I’ve been wanting to extend an online handshake to. Rob McMillin and I communicated extensively during the run-up to the McCourt purchase of the Dodgers in late 2003-early 2004 – the saga was a big reason why he founded 6-4-2, one of Southern California’s earliest baseball blogs. At the time, I think we felt like proverbial voices in the wilderness in our suspicion of the worthiness of McCourt.

So much has happened since then, but I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed our back-and-forth and the friendship that came from it.

Kershaw LXXXVIII: Kershawtel California
Braves at Dodgers, 12:10 p.m.

Apr 20

The irredeemable Frank McCourt

This is a column about last straws.

Today, Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig indicated he had been handed his last straw with regards to Frank McCourt’s stewardship of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Selig responded by giving his office control of the Dodgers’ operations.

Speculation is that the last straw for Selig was a reported $30 million personal loan that McCourt received from Fox that was believed to be necessary to meet the Dodgers’ payroll obligations — the latest indication of how fragile McCourt’s financial underpinnings are. But if it wasn’t this loan, it could or would have been something else.

As I walked through all the different stories about today’s news, as if I were a shopper in a McCourt Mall of Horrors, I found myself thinking about the person whose name has been in the news, top of mind, every day this month until today: Bryan Stow.

The Giants fan whose horrifying beating in the gloaming of Opening Day in the Dodger Stadium parking lot March 31 will not be found on any McCourt spreadsheet. The severity of the event, sadly enough, wasn’t even unprecedented in Dodger Stadium history.

But in the days after it occurred, as you felt the groundswell of horror and shame sweep through the world of the Dodgers — an emotional wave that only gained momentum with McCourt’s initial public declaration that nothing could have been done to prevent it — I began to feel that Stow’s beating, more than any rising parking fees, inconsistent spending on players or appalling revelations of greed in court documents related to McCourt’s divorce from wife Jamie, was the baseball world’s “network” moment.

It was just too ugly, and people weren’t going to take it anymore.  

I think McCourt realized this, too, which is why, at a certain point this month, you started to see almost daily releases, media conferences or other kinds of announcements determined to show his commitment to rehabilitating the Dodgers’ (and in turn, his) relationship with the fans and baseball.

But more and more fans weren’t buying it. I haven’t been at Dodger Stadium in the past week, and I’m also familiar with no-shows dotting Dodger Stadium in the best of times, but there have been too many reports to ignore from longtime Dodger watchers that things had really changed. I’ve been a passionate skeptic of fan boycotts, but even I have to concede that there was a statement being made here. More and more people just didn’t want any part of this.

The thing is, it hasn’t been an organized boycott, not on any widespread level. It’s been people on their own coming to the conclusion that life was too short to waste on a franchise in this condition. 

This includes people like my father, who chose during the offseason not to renew my family’s season tickets for a 30th season. It also includes the people who typically would improvise their ticket purchases after the season was underway.

That’s not to say Dodger Stadium was or would be empty. Some still show up because they love the team through thick and decidedly thin. The game’s pull remains strong. I myself have been trying to figure out when to get my kids to their first game of 2011. 

But things haven’t been this low at Dodger Stadium before, have they? I think back to 1992, the worst team in Los Angeles Dodger history playing against the backdrop of a city torn by riots, and there was not such bitterness over the state of ownership.

Dodgers fans have been wandering through a desert of uncertainty and dismay for well more than a year since the McCourts’ marital strife put control of the team in limbo. What the Bryan Stow incident did, besides put the life of a man in jeopardy, was amplify the fear that with McCourt in charge, there might be no bottom.

It wasn’t that there would be nothing to excite us — the joy of Clayton Kershaw, the signing of Zach Lee, the sizzling start of Matt Kemp or even the lovely melodies of Nancy Bea. But Stow seemed to destroy an illusion that the team would ever get ahead, that behind each high there wouldn’t be a more severe low.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the shock of the Stow beating, combined with a team that had been outscored in 2011 more than any other in the National League, engineered nothing more than a temporary blindness to the light at the end of the tunnel.

But I’m not sure I’m wrong. Moreover, though I can’t draw a cause-effect line between the Stow incident and Selig’s decision today — a decision that was building over time — I can’t get myself to think anything but that the brutality and its aftermath were a spiritual last straw. Whatever rope McCourt had to work with, whatever fear Selig has that McCourt might turn his legal ugliness against the game of baseball itself, was gone.  

In any case, if Selig’s decision was nothing more than a decision based purely on finances, it’s done. And even though there have been three playoff appearances during the McCourt ownership, even though there is uncertainty over how this will play out, I’m here to say … I’m excited. 

There will be problems, short-term and long-term, but I don’t see much reason to think the Dodgers will be any less capable of making moves to better the organization on or off the field than they were before today. There is a question of whether the next stewards will be good ones, but tonight, I do see the light.

It was more than seven years ago, during the months leading up to the official transition of Dodgers ownership, that I began expressing my fears that McCourt was borrowing too much money and keeping too many secrets to trust as an owner. Those fears were realized in a way that I couldn’t even comprehend at the time. You can check back in with me later on, but tonight, my fears for the future of the Dodgers are non-existent by comparison.

No more last straws.

Apr 20

Topsy-turvy day ends with Dodger victory

Juan Uribe went 3 for 4 with four RBI; Matt Kemp struck out three times and was caught stealing. Yes, 2011 Dodger history is being rewritten as we speak.

A 6-1 Dodger victory, also powered by Andre Ethier’s single, double and home run and Jon Garland’s 108-pitch complete game, makes for a nice bookmark.

Apr 20

MLB takes over operations of Dodgers

Marking an extraordinary and unprecedented moment in the history of the Dodgers, the office of Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig has announced he will appoint a representative to take over day-to-day operations of the franchise. Frank McCourt seemingly has had the keys to the kingdom taken away, with Dodger employees answering to a representative of the commissioner to be named soon.

I’ll have a longer reaction to this tonight on Dodger Thoughts, but here’s my initial thought: I remember when President Nixon had to announce his resignation, and on a personal level, this feels no less momentous.

Full story here. Updates to come on ESPNLA.com.

Braves at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.

Apr 20

Dodger bullpen just sad

The 2011 Dodger bullpen to date:

Jonathan Broxton: 7 1/3 innings, 13 baserunners, five strikeouts
Hong-Chih Kuo (disabled list): 2 2/3 innings, five baserunners, four strikeouts
Matt Guerrier: 8 2/3 innings, six baserunners, five strikeouts
Kenley Jansen: 8 2/3 innings, 19 baserunners, 13 strikeouts
Blake Hawksworth: 9 2/3 innings, 13 baserunners, six strikeouts
Mike MacDougal: 7 1/3 innings, nine baserunners, four strikeouts
Lance Cormier: seven innings, 16 baserunners, two strikeouts
Ramon Troncoso: 2 2/3 innings, 12 baserunners, zero strikeouts
Total: 54 innings, 93 baserunners, 39 strikeouts

Hmm …

At least Vicente Padilla might be back soon. He struck out three in 1 1/3 innings Tuesday in his second minor-league rehab outing. He could replace Troncoso.

Will Rubby De La Rosa get a rapid promotion like Jerry Sands? It doesn’t seem impossible, though I think the Dodgers would like the inexperienced minor-leaguer to get more starting-pitcher innings under his belt.

Jansen’s performance has been shocking, but I would keep him on the major-league roster for now.

* * *

Not that I’m expecting Ivan De Jesus Jr. to be a savior for the moribund offense, but with journeyman Aaron Miles offering seven singles, a double, an HBP, a sacrifice and no walks in 37 plate appearances, maybe Don Mattingly could throw some at-bats to the kid.

About that offense, here’s Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com:

… When you really examine it, though, it isn’t that hard to figure out. Juan Uribe, as he has done for most of his career, continues to flail at just about anything that is thrown within a mile of the strike zone. James Loney has brought his second-half nosedive of 2010 into 2011. And how about that pinch-hitting appearance by the still-gimpy Marcus Thames in the seventh inning, when he whiffed on three consecutive pitches from Braves reliever Jonny Venters with the tying run on third and one out?

And speaking of key situations, the Dodgers (8-10) — who fell into a third-place tie with the San Diego Padres in the National League West and still trail the division-leading Colorado Rockies by 4 1/2 games — are now hitting .184 (28 for 152) for the season with runners in scoring position, with 35 strikeouts.

And after Casey Blake grounded out to leave the bases loaded in the seventh, at a point when the Dodgers trailed by one run, the Dodgers were hitless in eight at-bats this year with the bases jammed. Not sure which is worse, the fact they have gone 18 games without getting a hit with the bases loaded, or the fact they have had the bases loaded for just eight at-bats. …

Even more simply, the Dodger offense has a .306 on-base percentage and a .344 slugging percentage. Not far from what was predicted, not enough to get the job done, especially with the pitching staff’s disappointing 4.87 ERA.