Jun 30

Death Valley Days


Since Monday (compressed for the sake of space):

Dodgers		000 200 000– 2 30 6
Opponents	544 373 400–30 60 0

The Dodgers are scoreless in 56 of their past 57 innings and haven’t led in their past 61. Opponents have an ERA of 0.32 in that period.

Jun 30

June 30 game chat

Mets at Dodgers, 4:15 p.m.
Dee Gordon, SS
Elian Herrera, LF
Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B
Juan Rivera, 1B
A.J. Ellis, C
Scott Van Slyke, RF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Tony Gwynn Jr., CF
Nathan Eovaldi, P

Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy says he has a rare infection that might be connected to his lungs. Keep hoping he’ll get some good news.

  • Hiroki Kuroda tied his career high of 11 strikeouts in seven shutout innings for the Yankees today. He has a 1.65 ERA in his past seven starts.
  • Karen Crouse of the New York Times writes a wonderful story an interview, at age 13, with Olympic swimmer Mike Bruner that changed both their lives.
  • If the Dodgers don’t hit a home run tonight, it will be their first full month ever in Los Angeles with only one home run at home, according to research by Bob Timmermann.
Jun 30

Beneath the cliffs of insanity

Friday’s 9-0 loss to the Mets marked the 11th time in Los Angeles Dodger history that the team could have achieved the same result simply by forfeiting.

 The Dodger offense in 45 innings since Monday:
  • Total baserunners: 39
  • Runners to get as far as first base: 20
  • Runners to get as far as second base: 15
  • Runners to get as far as third base: 2
  • Runners to get as far as home: 2

It was a lovely evening at the ballpark last night to watch futility.

While wondering whether Campbell’s sells alphabet soup with all the letters between A-N and P-Z removed …

  • Carlos Lee became a rumored trade target for the Dodgers last night in a deal that could cost them former first-round pick Garret Gould. Chad Moriyama analyzesthe pitfalls of that deal. An excerpt:

    … Carlos Lee’s current slash line is .290/.342/.412/.754, which is in line with his recent production, and he projects to hit .276/.328/.434/.762 the rest of the way. Additionally, consider that he’s a terrible defender in the outfield and a fringe to poor defender at first base.

    James Loney’s current line is .236/.303/.323/.626, which is partially the result of lower than normal BABIP. He projects to hit .266/.327/.387/.714 the rest of the way. Plus, he plays above-average to plus defense at first.

    Now 50 points difference in OPS is nothing to scoff at, but factor in the defense and then consider that Loney has a .802 OPS career against righties (.669 against lefties) and Juan Rivera  has a .821 career OPS against lefties (.747 against righties). Now the gap is basically non-existent.

    You know how to tell that this trade is an iffy upgrade? When it’s even arguable as to whether a potential acquisition is an improvement over James Loney and Juan Rivera. …

    Update: Reports online this morning indicate the Dodgers and Astros have agreed to terms, and the deal hinges on Lee’s approval.

  • Mark Ellis is beginning a rehab assignment with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga tonight, writes Andy Kamenetzky of ESPNLosAngeles.com. He could be activated inside of a week.
  • Andre Ethier could return to the lineup as soon as Monday, writes Alex Angert of MLB.com, but it’s a dicey proposition.
  • The Dodgers have signed first-round pick Corey Seager in a deal that features a $2.35 million bonus, reports Dylan Hernandez of the Times.
  • At Minor League Ball, John Sickels started a conversation about whether baseball has become too expensive for the average kid. Alex Remington offers his own thoughts at Fangraphs. The commenters in each post offer wide-ranging responses.
Jun 29

Age is just a number (even if it’s the wrong number)

Mets at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Dee Gordon, SS
Elian Herrera, 3B
Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B
Bobby Abreu, LF
A.J. Ellis, C
James Loney, 1B
Scott Van Slyke, RF
Tony Gwynn Jr., CF
Aaron Harang, P

I’ve spent most of the year thinking I’m the wrong age. What does this have to do with the Dodgers and R.A. Dickey? Maybe nothing at all, but find out the scoop at Los Angeles Magazine’s CityThink blog.

Jun 28

Dodgers recall Van Slyke … but option De Jesus

Mets at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Dee Gordon, SS
Elian Herrera, 3B
Juan Rivera, LF
James Loney, 1B
Scott Van Slyke, RF
Adam Kennedy, 2B
Matt Treanor, C
Tony Gwynn Jr., CF
Chris Capuano, P

The Dodgers have called up Scott Van Slyke to help fill the Andre Ethier injury gap and optioned Ivan De Jesus Jr., which means there will still be a roster spot available assuming Ethier is placed on the disabled list. The other possibility would be that the Ethier injury isn’t as serious as first reported, though I’d be surprised by that.

Beleaguered first baseman James Loney gets a shot at batting cleanup in the absence of Ethier and Matt Kemp. Bobby Abreu is on the bench.

According to the Dodger press notes, the franchise’s longest scoreless streak on offense is 41 innings, set from August 21-24, 1908. The current team is at 30.

* * *
Luis Cruz, John Ely, Tim Federowicz and Josh Wall were selected to represent Albuquerque at the Triple-A All-Star Game on July 11. From the press notes:

Federowicz was named the starting catcher of the PCL team after batting .284 with 20 doubles, a triple, seven homers, and 43 RBI this season. The backstop leads the PCL in games played by a catcher with 59. Ely is 8-5 with a 3.38 ERA and leads the league with 103 strikeouts. Cruz is hitting .320 with a whopping 30 doubles, putting him on track to break the Albuquerque record for doubles in a season (41). Wall has a league-high 17 saves in 34 games.

Jun 28

Zach Lee makes successful Double-A debut

Dodger pitching prospect Zach Lee, who turns 21 in September, pitched six innings of one-run ball Wednesday in his Double-A debut, allowing eight baserunners and striking out seven. He threw 81 pitches.

Elsewhere …

  • Buster Olney offers a selection of potential Dodger trade targets at ESPN.com. Mostly, I see a list of players you really wouldn’t want or that just might require too much in return, but I’ve never been good at constructing hypothetical trades.
  • In one for the “You can never have enough pitching” Marching and Chowder Society, the Yankees lost C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte to injury inside of 24 hours. Jay Jaffe has more at SI.com’s Hit and Run.
  • Former UCLA star Trevor Bauer makes his major-league debut tonight, looking to give Arizona a fuel injection in their pursuit of the Giants and Dodgers.
  • Tal’s Hill in center field of Minute Maid Park in Houston might be leveled, according to Zach Levine of the Houston Chronicle (via Hardball Talk). It probably has no place in a major-league park, but I kind of liked it, as it kindled childhood memories of playing ball even when the field was less than ideal.
  • The latest from Josh Wilker.
Jun 28

Report: Dodgers sign Cuban outfielder Puig in $40 million deal


The Dodgers have gone from spendthrifts to spendswifts.  From Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com:

According to an industry source, the Dodgers have agreed to a multiyear deal worth more than $40 million with 21-year-old international prospect Yasiel Puig, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound outfielder from Cuba.

The Dodgers haven’t commented on or confirmed the signing.

Puig (pronounced Pweeg) was declared a free agent Wednesday, not long after establishing temporary residency in Mexico, and was eventually cleared by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

In order to avoid being subject to new CBA guidelines that will limit spending on international prospects to $2.9 million per team without penalty, Puig must sign the record-setting deal, have the contract approved by Major League Baseball and pass a physical before Monday.

The Cubs and White Sox also expressed interest in Puig.

A top prospect in the island’s premier league, the Cuban National Series (Serie Nacional), Puig hit .276 with five home runs during his first campaign with Cienfuegos in 2008-09 and had a breakout year the next season, hitting .330 with 17 home runs and 78 RBIs. He did not play for Cienfuegos during the 2011-12 seasons because he was being disciplined for attempting to defect. …

Here’s more on Puig from J.P Breen of Fangraphs:

… Puig possesses raw power — and actually showed game-power back in the 2010-2011 season with 17 home runs — but Ben Badler of Baseball America recently noted that the most recent scouting reports on the young outfielder have been extremely underwhelming. …

Now, statistics from the Cuban Serie Nacional should obviously be taken with a grain of salt. The level of competition is perhaps not even comparable to what Puig would potentially see in Triple-A, but legitimate similarities exist between the numbers Yoenis Cespedes compiled in 2010-2011 and what Puig racked up in the same year.

Player 2B 3B HR AVG OBP SLG BB SO
Yasiel Puig 19 6 17 .330 .430 .581 49 39
Yoenis Cespedes 17 1 33 .333 .424 .667 49 40

The obvious difference is the significantly higher home run total from Cespedes. It’s that level of power that has allowed Cespedes to transition directly to the major leagues and post a .222 ISO as a 26-year-old without any experience in the United States.

The remainder of the numbers — the on-base percentage, strikeout-to-walk ratio, etc. — are comparable. Even the doubles are comparable. Puig reportedly has above-average speed and was once considered the “fastest player in Cuban baseball” before defecting, so it’s not overly surprising that Puig would collect more triples than Cespedes.

The issue is that no one can ever confidently project how a Cuban baseball player will transition to professional baseball in the states. The statistics have little correlation due to the level of competition, and the players have to adjust to more than just the players in the United States. They also have to transition to the lifestyle, the culture, and the language. That can be extremely overwhelming for anyone, much less a 21-year-old with ambition and plenty of cash, thanks to a hefty signing bonus. …

And from Ben Badler of Baseball America:

… Reports on Puig, 21, have been modest, and other than a few light workouts this weekend, teams are working off limited information. He was suspended this past season in Cuba—some sources believe it was due to his attempts to leave the country, though some teams have conflicting information—so scouts haven’t been able to see Puig in game condition since June 2011 for the Cuban national B team at the World Port Tournament in Rotterdam. The Rangers are the only team that Baseball America’s sources have linked to Puig.

“How can we evaluate someone like that?” asked one Latin American director.

 

 

Jun 27

From bad to worse: Ethier injures left oblique muscle

Andre Ethier suffered a left oblique injury sliding into second base in the first inning today while trying to break up a double play. From what I understand about these injuries, an absence of weeks is likely.

Ethier and Matt Kemp, who have 22 of the Dodgers’ 45 home runs this season, are now sidelined. The only other Dodgers with more than two homers this year are A.J. Ellis (six) and Juan Rivera (three).

Elian Herrera replaced Ethier in right field. Alex Castellanos and Scott Van Slyke would top the list of potential callups.

Through four innings at San Francisco today, the Dodgers trailed, 2-0, extending their scoreless inning streak to 25 innings. Chad Billingsley, who had doubled, was thrown out on an extremely close play in the third inning today while trying to score on a wild pitch. The Dodger righty then gave up two runs in the bottom of the inning.

Jun 27

Any runs in these stockings?

As painful as the Dodgers’ 21-inning scoreless streak has been, it’s hardly unprecedented.

Dodger Thoughts, August 8, 2007:

L.A. 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 - 0
Opp. 020 100 000 301 000 00x 001 000 00x - 8

Dodger Thoughts, July 30, 2003:

L.A. 000 000 000 01 010 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 010 000 000 000 000 000-3
Opp. 000 000 000 00 000 100 000 000 001 000 010 00x 000 000 000 020 000 00x-5

That latter link points to a couple of occasions in which the Dodgers were held to a total of two runs in a five-game stretch.

* * *

Dodgers at Giants, 12:45 p.m.
Dee Gordon, SS
Jerry Hairston Jr. 2B
Andre Ethier, RF
Juan Rivera, 1B
Bobby Abreu, LF
A.J. Ellis, C
Tony Gwynn Jr., CF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Chad Billingsley, P

Here is a link to Tim Lincecum’s history against active Dodgers, something I surmise influenced Don Mattingly’s lineup choices today. Juan Rivera is 6 for 14 with a walk against Lincecum, while James Loney is 8 for 42 with two walks.

Otherwise, for all of Loney’s problems, I don’t see the case for playing Rivera at first base against right-handed pitching.

But any discussion of the Dodger lineup these days feels like quibbling in the graveyard.

 

Jun 26

Dos Yechies

Dodgers	000 000 000 000 000 000– 0 12 1
Giants	430 010 00x 000 200 00x–10 21 0

For the first time since 2002 and the sixth time since the teams moved West in 1958, the Giants have thrown back-to-back shutouts against the Dodgers, completing the feat with tonight’s 2-0 victory over Los Angeles and Clayton Kershaw.

Kershaw had one bad inning, but in the current run-scoring environment, it was costly. In the fourth inning, he surrendered a leadoff homer to Melky Cabrera, then a pair of singles with a stolen base in between for the other San Francisco run. Kershaw had to strike out the final two batters of the inning with the bases loaded to escape further damage.

Speaking of escapes, Kershaw took a liner to the ribs in the fifth inning, bringing forth flashes of every bad thing that’s ever happened to a pitcher, but nonetheless made his way through until the end of the sixth, leaving with eight strikeouts against 10 baserunners. Half of those 10 baserunners reached base in the fourth.

Paiving the way for their two shutouts, the Dodgers had another rare back-to-back feat when for the second night in a row, Dee Gordon drew a leadoff walk but was erased when Elian Herrera grounded into a double play. The team’s best look at the game was in the seventh inning, when Juniors Jerry Hairston and Tony Gwynn each singled with one out.  But A.J. Ellis, who was 2 for 2, struck out on a 2-2 sinker in the dirt, and then, batting for Kershaw, James Loney hit what for him constituted a long drive  – a fly to medium center field.

Ryan Vogelsong pitched seven innings for San Francisco, allowing seven hits and no walks after Gordon. He struck out three. Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla finshed things up.

Scoreless in their past 21 innings, the Dodgers have 13 runs in their past eight games, with one home run and 18 walks.

Jun 26

The cruel shoes

Dodgers at Giants, 7:15 p.m.
Kershaw CXXXII: Kershawn the Waterfront
Dee Gordon, SS
Elian Herrera, 3B
Andre Ethier, RF
Juan Rivera, 1B
Bobby Abreu. LF
Jerry Hairston Jr. 2B
Tony Gwynn Jr., CF
A.J. Ellis, C
Clayton Kershaw, P

My latest piece for Los Angeles Magazine’s CityThink blog looks at how the past week for the Dodgers has played mind games with us, not unlike a certain pair of shoes made famous by Steve Martin.

Though it might seem as if the Dodgers have been struggling for quite some time, the team was 10-7 (.588) in June and held the best record in Major League Baseball until just a week ago. As it is, despite losing six of its past seven games, Los Angeles still has the top mark in the National League, a two game lead in the NL West and a four-game cushion for a playoff spot.

Nevertheless, the month has taken an ugly turn. The Dodgers’ on-base percentage (.301) and slugging percentage (.302) in June form a nearly matching pair of cruel shoes. The highest OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) belongs to Bobby Abreu at .740; no other Dodger is breaking the .700 club. …

Read the rest at CityThink.

Jun 26

Mickey Hatcher a Dodger again (Note: not on active roster)

Some afternoon news and notes …

  • Mickey Hatcher has returned to the Dodger organization as a special assistant to the general manager, according to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (via Hardball Talk).

    Update: An official Dodgers press release says Hatcher “will devote time helping with player development as well as assisting the major-league staff.”

    Hatcher hit one home run in the 1988 regular season, two in the ’88 World Series and two more for the rest of his major-league career. In 1990, his final season with the Dodgers, Hatcher OPSed .498 in 85 games. So don’t expect him activated.

    Manny Mota, on the other hand …
  • A man wearing a Dodger jacket disappeared after Monday’s game and is suspected to have fallen into the bay adjacent to AT&T Park, according to Ellen Huet of the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • The ownership group that includes Peter O’Malley, his sons Brian and Kevin, nephews Peter and Tom Seidler and golfer Phil Mickelson have been given an exclusive negotiating window to buy the San Diego Padres, according to Scott Miller of CBSSports.com. Sale price is expected to be in the $800 million neighborhood. Though the former Dodger owner is the biggest name in the group (at least for readers of this website), it’s the next generation that figures to be the long-term key players.
  • Still not much new on the disappearance of Daron Sutton from the Arizona Diamondbacks broadcast team, as Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic notes.
  • Clayton Kershaw reached Double-A 14 months after being drafted. (He had the advantage of pitching in Rookie ball the year he was picked.) Zach Lee, who was drafted in June 2010 and began his pro career in April 2011, has been promoted to Double-A. Writing more on the subject for True Blue L.A. is Craig Minami.
  • The one-time Fabulous Forum has been purchased by the Madison Square Garden Co., which will renovate the venue for performance use.
  • Here’s the latest health update from Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy.
Jun 25

One-run fun

Dodgers at Giants, 7:15 p.m.
Dee Gordon, SS
Elian Herrera, LF
Andre Ethier, RF
Juan Rivera, 1B
Jerry Hairston Jr. 2B
A.J. Ellis, C
Juan Uribe, 3B
Tony Gwynn Jr., CF
Nathan Eovaldi, P

To set up the three-game series between the Giants and Dodgers that starts tonight with the Giants exactly three games out of first place in the National League West, I participated in ESPN.com’s Triple Play feature with Molly Knight and Christina Kahrl. Here’s an excerpt:

1. What’s the one thing baseball fans should be watching for in this series?

Jon Weisman (@dodgerthoughts), Dodger Thoughts: Nail-biters. The Dodgers and Giants are first and third in the majors in one-run games played this year — each with winning records (18-13 for the Dodgers, 16-11 for the Giants). Much will be made of the starting pitching for both teams, but odds are this series will be decided by the two teams’ bullpens.

I have hereby set one of the teams up for a 12-1 slaughter.

For more reading, here’s a series preview from Grant Brisbee of McCovey Chronicles. I don’t know that I buy his premise that this is the first serious Giants-Dodgers series in a while, but it’s still, as always with Brisbee, an entertaining read.

The cherry on top is Sam Miller’s piece today at Baseball Prospectus, where he chronicles everything Vin Scully has ever said on the air about Buster Posey.