Jul 16

Two weeks to the trading deadline

With their 3-2 loss Monday to Philadelphia, the Dodgers for the 18th time in their past 24 games, falling to 48-43, two games behind San Francisco in the National League West – their biggest deficit of 2012. That includes a 1-3 record since Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier returned from the disabled list, the two star outfielders’ presence failing to slow the team’s tailspin.

Tuesday’s arrival will mark two weeks until Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trading deadline, the last two weeks when teams can trade freely with each other. The Dodgers find themselves in a predicament – looking very much in contention, but looking very little like a contender.

For more on this riddle, read my latest post at Los Angeles Magazine’s CityThink blog.

Jul 16

Billingsley MRI results optimistic

Phillies at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Jerry Hairston Jr., 3B
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Juan Rivera, LF
James Loney, 1B
Luis Cruz, SS
A.J. Ellis, C
Nathan Eovaldi, P

Word spread among the Dodger beat writers that Chad Billingsley’s MRI went about as positively as it could have gone, to the point that he was still in the running this afternoon to make a start Tuesday. The alternative appears to be a callup for Stephen Fife, the righthander who came to the Dodgers as part of the Tim Federowicz deal.

Fife is already on the 40-man roster, which makes him easy pickins. The Dodgers could make room for John Ely, but if it’s only a short-term move, they might not want to bother.

* * *

Since the Dodgers swept the Phillies in Philadelphia, writes Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A., the Phillies are 11-20 and the Dodgers are 11-21.

Jul 15

Un-done

The Dodgers allowed six unearned runs today. You know how long it had been since the Dodgers allowed six unearned runs in a game? You have to go all the way back to September 27, 2011 – thanks to good ol’ Rule 10.16(i). They all came in the 10th inning that night.

Think that was bad? On June 7, 1945, the Dodgers allowed 10 runs – all unearned – on eight errors. Perhaps they got a little crazy celebrating the anniversary of D-Day the night before.

So Los Angeles gave away two games in the standings this weekend.  That could hurt.

 

Jul 15

Billingsley scratched from today’s start

Padres at Dodgers, 1:10 p.m.
Tony Gwynn Jr., CF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Andre Ethier, RF
Bobby Abreu, LF
James Loney, 1B
Jerry Hairston Jr., 3B
Juan Uribe, SS
Matt Treanor, C
Chris Capuano, P

News in today’s lineup:

  • A morning change pushed Chris Capuano into today’s start in place of Chad Billingsley, who has an as-yet undisclosed injury, according to Alex Angert of MLB.com. Jimmy Bramlett of LAist tweets that Billingsley will have an MRI on his elbow.

    “According to Donnie, Bills has had soreness in his elbow the last several starts but thought it was just normal wear,” Bramlett adds.

    The Dodgers say that Nathan Eovaldi will start Monday; Tuesday is TBD.

  • Matt Kemp is getting a rest day to protect his rehabilitated hamstring.
  • Juan Uribe is getting his first start at shortstop since May 4, 2011.
Jul 15

Home, home on the strange

One time during my junior year in college, I failed to set the parking brake on my Scirocco, and it rolled into the middle of an alley. I got a knock at my door saying that a policeman was giving me a ticket.

Don Mattingly had that moment where he made two trips to the mound at once, costing the Dodgers a relief pitcher.

I’m sure we’ve all had such a brain cramp, more times than we’d care to admit, and now Kenley Jansen has had one as well – allowing a steal of home and topping that with a throwing error that left the Dodgers, one strike away from victory, with a 7-6 loss to the Padres.

The defeat came on a night in which the recently recovered trio of Mark Ellis, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier each reached base three times, with Ethier (four RBI) hitting a two-run home run that seemed to be a game-winner in the sixth inning.

Chad Moriyama looks at all the things that went wrong on that single play. Not to be forgotten is that the Dodgers also allowed a run-of-the-mill unearned point in the first inning.

* * *

Wanted to send along belated best wishes to Javy Guerra, who is in Mexico tending to his father, who suffered a heart attack. Guerra pitched Friday with the knowledge that his father was stricken. He has now taken literal and metaphorical line drives to the jaw this year, not to mention surgery on his knee, and it’s pretty impressive how he’s handled it.

And congrats to Josh Wall for his promotion to the big leagues. Wall’s Albuquerque stats aren’t impressive except for his 9.0 strikeouts per nine innings, so I’m not sure how much we’ll see him during this initial stint, but I will certainly look forward to it.

* * *

  • The Dodgers have had more games with extra-base hits than you might expect, notes David Pinto of Baseball Musings. Only five times this year have they gone extra-base-hitless, and that includes a no-hitter against them.
  • The Dodgers had their annual night for independent bloggers. Ron Cervenka of Think Blue L.A. offers a recap.
  • Rob Neyer of Baseball Nation passed along a 26-minute 1946 Pacific Coast League promotional film.
  • Minor-league basethief extraordinaire Billy Hamilton was the subject of a nice profile by Steve Dilbeck of the Times.
  • Newly released documentary “Ballplayer: Pelotero,” about two teenagers in the Dominican Republic with big-league aspirations, is getting largely positive reviews according to Metacritic.
  • One-time Baseball Toaster star Bob Timmermann has toed his way back into blogging with The Portable Griddle.
Jul 13

It’s official: Kemp, Ethier return

Padres at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Kershaw CXXXV: Kershawma Lama Ding Dong
Jerry Hairston Jr., LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Juan Rivera, 1B
A.J. Ellis, C
Juan Uribe, 3B
Luis Cruz, SS
Clayton Kershaw, P

Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier will reappear tonight before a salivating Dodger fan base, with Scott Van Slyke and Elian Herrera going to Albuquerque.

On Sunday, we discussed the possibility of Herrera being optioned.

… He’s been 100 times more fun to watch than Uribe and his versatility is an asset, but once Kemp and Ethier are back in their starting roles, Mark Ellis is re-entrenched at second base and Bobby Abreu, Tony Gwynn Jr. and Juan Rivera are holding down left field, there’s going to be less call for Herrera to roam around the diamond. That’s not to say that he’s without a purpose, but with his own slump to a .326 on-base percentage and .335 slugging, the difference between him, Uribe and Kennedy (.315 OBP, .309 slugging) isn’t overwhelming.

By optioning Herrera, the Dodgers can put off making a final decision on Uribe or Kennedy, neither of whom can be sent down. …

Jul 13

The resurrection of John Ely

One-time breath of fresh air John Ely is quietly having a stellar 2012, posting a 3.22 ERA in Triple-A Albuquerque with 9.7 strikeouts and 1.8 walks per nine innings. You just don’t see those stats with the Isotopes very often. James Bailey of Baseball America has more on the Pacific Coast League All-Star.

“It took a couple of years of getting my head beat off the wall a little bit in this league to try to figure it out a little bit,” Ely told Bailey. “The PCL can get to you, man. Ask anybody out here. It’s a tough league to pitch in with the travel and the ballparks and the matter that you’ve got some pretty darn good hitters in this league. I think I underestimated it a little and I probably didn’t take it quite as seriously as I should have.”

“A lot of it has to do with staying ahead and basically just throwing my best pitches when I have to throw them,” Ely added. “You know, making pitches when you need to and realizing, ‘OK, this is what I want to do with this pitch right now.’ ”

Though the Dodgers’ rumored trade-market pursuits include starting pitching, Ely would certainly seem to have some renewed value – either as a stopgap starter if the Dodgers still end up needing one, or as a trade chip.

* * *

  • Andre Ethier played in rehabiliation games Wednesday and Thursday and is expected to join Matt Kemp in tonight’s Dodger starting lineup, writes Alex Angert of MLB.com.
  • Ronald Belisario’s certainly got the right to go home to Venezuela during the All-Star break, but somehow it isn’t surprising that his return to the States was delayed, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com (pictured, right, with Ned Colletti). However, Belisario is expected to arrive for tonight’s game.
  • Yasiel Puig’s arrival in Arizona is documented by Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com.
  • Kemp will be featured on the next edition of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, premiering Tuesday.
  • A midseason review of the Isotopes is provided by Christopher Jackson of Albuquerque Baseball Examiner.
  • It’s a quirk to say the least, but Zach Greinke of Milwaukee tonight will become the first pitcher since 1917 to start three consecutive games, notes David Pinto of Baseball Musings. He faces James McDonald of Pittsburgh.
Jul 12

Trade rumors, 2003

How times have changed …

In this Dodger Thoughts piece from July 2003, you can see Ken Rosenthal (then with the Sporting News) report that “the Dodgers continue to target Melvin Mora, and the Orioles might be willing to take third baseman Adrian Beltre if they also received quality prospects in the deal.”

Mora was an All-Star from 2003-2005. Still, it’s amazing to contemplate the idea of needing to give up Beltre and top prospects for him.

Jul 11

Variety Sports Entertainment Summit on Thursday

I’ll be spending Thursday at the second-annual Variety Sports Entertainment Summit, presented in association with the Sports Video Group at the Loews Hollywood Hotel and offering more than a dozen interesting panels about the intersection of sports and entertainment.

For you big spenders who can’t attend, there’s a live webcast you can sign up for.

Along those lines, here’s a look by Variety’s Dave McNary at a new wave of sports films and profiles on more than 30 people whose work bridges sports and entertainment, along with some additional thoughts on the landscape.

Jul 11

Adrian’s head


What’s the deal with Adrian Beltre and people trying to touch his head? Amy K. Nelson of SB Nation investigates in the clip above.

Elsewhere …

  • Chasing October, a book by David Plaut that focuses on the 1962 pennant race between the Dodgers and Giants, is getting a three-part review by Scott Andes of Lasorda’s Lair.
  • Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness offers his midseason report card on the Dodger position players.
  • James McDonald’s rise to prominence could be the result of increased use of his slider, writes Ben Duorino of Fangraphs. (Wasn’t the slider the key to Clayton Kershaw’s Cy Young season?)
  • ESPN Sweet Spot bloggers preview the second half of the season for National League teams. Oh, and here’s the American League.
  • Matt Kemp is having a post-ESPYs bash tonight to benefit “Kemp’s Kids,” which provides support to underprivileged youth, writes Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy.
  • Meanwhile, Lyle Spencer of MLB.com writes about Kemp’s visit to the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City.
  • Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLB Trade Rumors looks at starting pitchers potentially on the trade market.
  • Farewell, Kenny Heitz.
Jul 10

Take me out to the movie

If Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer had been differently inspired:

Take me out to the movie
Take me out with the crowd
Buy me some popcorn and Cracker Jack
I don’t care if I ever get back
Let me root, root, root for the protagonist
If he doesn’t complete the hero’s journey it’s a shame
For it’s lights, camera, action – and cut
At the ol’ movie.

Jul 09

Farewell, Peter Sauer

AP

The most famous player from Stanford’s 1997-98 Final Four men’s basketball team is Mark Madsen, whose roar punctuated the team’s final-minute rally in the 1998 Elite Eight against Rhode Island in St. Louis – the last March Madness game I attended.

But the final points scored by the team that year came during another furious comeback attempt in the national semifinal against Kentucky, a three-pointer from the baseline that I can still remember with seconds remaining in overtime that cut the Wildcats’ lead to a single point. That shot came from Stanford’s captain, Peter Sauer, the kind of steadfast player no championship team could do without.

It was barely 12 years ago. It was incomprehensible to learn today that Sauer collapsed and died while playing a rec hoops game Sunday in New York – 35 years old. A financial executive, Sauer leaves behind a wife and three daughters. His father is former Pirates president Mark Sauer.

From Laurence Arnold of Bloomberg:

… After Stanford, he signed with the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association and was cut in the summer of 1999, according to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette profile in July 2000. He then moved to Greece to play for the B.C. Iraklis Thessaloniki professional team, shunning minor leagues in the U.S.

“Basketball will take me places and afford me experiences I might not have had,” Sauer told the Post-Gazette. “But it is not my life. I see myself playing maybe three to five more years and then going out and getting a real job and living a more normal existence.” …

* * *

And another farewell, to a Los Angeles Ram of my youth, offensive lineman John Williams. From the Times:

… It took him five years as a part-time student before he earned his doctorate in dentistry. He retired from the NFL after tearing a calf muscle during the 1979 season and moved back to Minneapolis to open his dental office.

The 6-foot, 3-inch 256-pounder described his off-the-field work with patients in the Times interview.

“There is curiosity and some of that normal fan-athlete identification,” he said. “But the main thing is rapport. Rapport is everything in dentistry. The ability to instill confidence.”

In Minneapolis, Williams worked to revitalize the urban district where he established his business and was named the city’s volunteer of the year in 1992.

Trained in forensic dentistry, Williams joined a team of public health professionals who helped identify remains of victims after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. …

Jul 09

So, it’s gonna be one of ‘those’ divisions?

For a good portion of this season, the Dodgers had the best record in the majors. But at the All-Star Break, they have the poorest winning percentage (.540) of the six division leaders, and they are atop a division that is collectively 26 games below .500, also the worst in baseball. The National League West has been outscored by 130 runs in 2012, with the Dodgers and Giants at +10 each.

That could change, but right now, it’s a winning ugly scenario.  Not that Dodger fans won’t take it.

At the Hardball Times, Steve Treder takes the pulse of the NL West.

* * *

  • In a guest post for Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness, Christopher Jackson checks in on the progress (or regression) of the Dodgers’ top minor-league pitchers.
  • Former Dodger Jay Gibbons has retired.
  • Matt Kemp homered 17 times in 69 games (40-homer pace) after last year’s Home Run Derby.