Resting up for the trip Up North

This pinch-hit Dodger Thoughts post is in honor of Elmer Valo.

While pinch hitting for Jon, I’ll try to keep up with the news as best I can, but I think most of you will probably know it before I do.

Wednesday’s night game against the Padres was quite typical of the Dodgers in the past two weeks. There was disappointment (down 3-0 early), hope (tied 3-3), some more disappointment (down 4-3), hope (Kemp almost hit it out, Victorino got an HBP!), and then disappointment more bitter than yogurt left in the refrigerator two weeks too long. (Gonzalez grounds out to end the game as the Padres bullpen retires 12 of the 14 batters it faces.) On the other hand, I did get to come home with TWO Hello Kitty Dodger tote bags.

There is a small slate of games in baseball on Thursday, just five, and only one of them will have any bearing on the Dodgers. Colorado will be playing at Atlanta at 9:10 am. The Dodgers are presently 4 1/2 games behind the Braves for wild card spot #1, which is the same distance they trail the Giants in the NL West. The Cardinals lead the Dodgers for wild card spot #2, but now the Dodgers are behind Pittsburgh by .0005. (Or you can just look at it as the Pirates having two games in hand.)

Later tonight, I’ll be back, I hope with a preview of the upcoming series the Dodgers will be playing in California’s fourth largest city.

  • Anonymous

    “hope (Kemp almost hit it out, Victorino got an HBP!), and then disappointment”
    i stepped into my home right around this time. Those two emotions are so true, one swing of the bat, then, one leaping catch. 

    • Anonymous

      In a day game, that ball goes out. 

      • http://underdog.typepad.com/ underdog

        Or in many other stadiums for that matter. I’m just hoping Dodgers offense again picks up when they hit the road (not that AT&T is a great place to do that). I expect it will. Just still can’t fully explain their struggles to hit at Dodger Stadium lately. 

  • Anonymous

    I know everyone wants to pinpoint the one thing that caused a loss – a bad call, a player substitution that didn’t work out, etc.  But those are just little things.  The bigger question is why a game is close in the first place.

    Much has been made of how this is such a different team since the trades.  The problem is, we added some great offensive players, but as hot as Ethier and HR have been, Kemp and AGon have been less than one would hope.

    We have played 11 games since the big trade with Boston, and have gone 4-7.  Here’s how many runs we have scored in those 11 games:

    0 runs in 2 games (0-2)
    2 runs in 2 games (1-1)
    3 runs in 3 games (0-3)
    4 runs in 2 games (1-1)
    5 runs in 1 game (1-0)
    10 runs in 1 game (1-0)

    When you score 26 runs in 10 of those 11 games, you’re just not going to win a lot of them.

    This team is struggling to score runs.  That’s what hurt us in June.  And it wasn’t a problem in April and May.

    The basic fact is, a team that’s eight games over .500 this late in the season isn’t all that good.  We can hope they can squeak into the playoffs, where anything can happen (as we witnessed last year), but it’s not something you can count on.

    • Anonymous

      I would add that, when your starting pitchers spot the other team one or more runs in the first, that puts a lot of pressure on the offense.

      • Anonymous

        The offense is supposed to produce, regardless of whether or not they’re behind. That’s their job.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=713935344 Jason Ungar

           It may be their job but it makes it much harder. It’s not a computer simulation.  It’s the job of the pitcher to not fall behind. Neither should get a pass. 

          • Anonymous

            After falling behind in the 1st, the starters have much more often than not done their job, by holding the oppostion in check the rest of the way – it’s the offense that continually falls short of doing it’s job.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=713935344 Jason Ungar

             i agree but when you have to always get the hit to tie the score or chip away to get back in the game it changes how you hit and puts pressure there that may not normally be there. Agree the offense needs to pick it up, I think both things are connected. It goes both ways.  But yah when I see runners at 1/2 with no outs the first thing i think about is how they will hit into a double play.

    • http://twitter.com/plaza234 plaza23

      Its been a .500 team since the 9-1 start.  This team has names but the talent behind the names isnt what it once was.

      I’m very concerned about next year…I see more of the same despite the 200mils payroll.  You have to have great pitching to win (unless your offense is unreal)…and I dont see the great pitching or unreal offense.  

      A-Gon major concern…I think Hanley will hit..Crawford sunk cost…Ethier wont ever hit lefties…Can Cruz do it again?..Will both Ellis not fall back?  Kemp is good but needs more consistency..is he a great player or just a good one?

  • Anonymous

    Programming reminder: Tomorrow’s game will be carried on MLB Network, and Sunday’s on ESPN.

    Fox broadcasts games on Saturday; I have no idea whether other parts of the country will or won’t see the Dodgers.  (I know they are showing the Sox here in Chicago.)

    • Anonymous

      Fox just released the announcing teams for the weekend. The Dodgers-Giants game will be Matt Vasgersian and Tim McCarver with Ken Rosenthal prowling the dugouts in his bowtie.

      The other two games are the Mets-Braves and the White Sox-Royals, so I would think the feeds would be divided almost as if you cut the country up in to thirds. However, I think the White Sox-Royals may not get shown in too many places other Illinois and Missouri. (And Kansas I suppose.)

      Steve Physioc and Mitch Williams will be in Chicago. Kevin Burkhardt and Tom Verducci will be in New York.

      • Anonymous

        Yay.  McCarver.  I guess there’s always listening to the radio, and then of course knowing what’s going to happen a few nano-moments in advance.  

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gobias-Bluth/100001890059228 Gobias Bluth

        Fox needs an overhaul in the broadcasting department me thinks. McCarver has got to be the worst, with Physioc (how this guy is still employed as a broadcaster is beyond me) a close second. MUTE button, you my best friend. 

      • Anonymous

        Well, I’m just grateful it’s not some combination of Kenny Albert, Joe Morgan, and Steve Physioc (if anything because his name makes me cringe with the sound of Rex Hudler calling him “Fizz” in his breathless Orange County drawl).  

        Vasgersian’s great.

        • Anonymous

          You’re lucky.  You don’t have to ever listen to Harrelson.

  • Anonymous

    Incidentally, given that Bills has a partial tear of his UCL, he could be facing Tommy John surgery.  Which means, we may have lost him not only for the rest of this season, but all of 2013.  And now we don’t have Rubby coming back, either.  Without Bills, our rotation for next year looks like Kershaw, Beckett, Harang, Capuano, and probably whoever we can sign (or trade for) this winter.  I’m guessing Lee might be ready by mid-season 2013, and would probably be given a shot in ST, but with our current spending pattern, I think it’s more likely we would sign (or trade for) another starter rather than counting on Lee on Opening Day.  Greinke will be available, but beyond him, it’s an uninspiring group; you can see the list at http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2011/04/2013-mlb-free-agents.html

    • Anonymous

      I think there’s now a good chance they sign Greinke, partly to show the Anaheimers who’s in charge here.

    • Anonymous

      Lilly is under contract for 1 more, is he not? Not to say he’ll ever be healthy again for a whole season.

    • Anonymous

      Ted Lilly is under contract for next season at $12 MIL.

      • Anonymous

        Sorry, I forgot Lilly.  So we have five starters for next year – four that we started with this year, and Beckett taking Billingsley’s place.

        Still, I bet we sign another one over the winter.  Kasten keeps saying you can never have too much pitching.

        • Anonymous

          Didn’t he trade away RDR, Eovaldi, Lindblom, Webster?

          • foul tip

             Yeah, because trying to improve an anemic offense was a higher priority than those particular guys.

          • Anonymous

            I’m surprised that after his track record in Atlanta, and what he helped build in Washington, that he would take that tack.  I really thought pitching was gonna be our strength going forward.  Oh well.

          • Anonymous

            Eovaldi and Lindblom are no great loss.  Both seemed to be performing above their long-term potential.  Rubby, different story.  Webster, we’ll see in time.

    • http://twitter.com/pokeracademy pokeracademy

       The rotation of K, B, H, and C looks like 2-2 every four days…Harang and Capuano needs to be sent on their way with lovely parting gifts.

      • foul tip

         Both have pitched respectably overall, especially Cap early.  Perspective, perhaps?

      • Anonymous

        So we win on the days when Beckett pitches with his 5.0 ERA?

        • Anonymous

          So far his ERA is 2.92 since the change of scenery.

          • Anonymous

            12 innings.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=713935344 Jason Ungar

       wow i’d only be willing to bet that just one of those guys has an era under 4 and a winning record next season

      • Anonymous

        I’ll take that bet.

  • Anonymous

    The BP playoff odds for the Dodgers are an uninspiring 15.3% with a slightly higher chance for the division (8.0%)

  • Anonymous

    According to this morning’s SF Chronicle,  Gnat starters have a 6.47 ERA over their past 11 games. It’s only an over-achieving offense – that now appears to be regressing to the mean – that’s let them maintain a lead over the Dodgers. It’s time for the Dodgers to emulate in SF what the Anaheimers did in Oakland.

    • Anonymous

      Both teams come into this weekend’s series having lost their last two games.

  • Anonymous

    Also the Dodgers chances of making the playoffs right now are lower than the Pirates according to BP (15.3 to 19.7)

    • Anonymous

      Good info.  Also, the Bucs Sept – Oct schedule is favorable compared to their divisional-rival Cards.

  • Anonymous

    I appreciate the mention of Elmer Valo, whom I saw play for the Seattle Rainiers.

  • Anonymous

    Beckett is currently the highest paid starter under contract for next season @ $15.75 Mil, followed by Lilly ($12 Mil),  Kershaw ($11 Mil), Harang ($7 Mil) and Cap ($6 Mil).
     When considering the contracts for the rest of the team – the starting pitching accounts for very little of the total, considering it’s overall value to the team’s ultimate performance over a full season.

    • foul tip

       Bills? 

      • Anonymous

        Good point – I was only including those expected to pitch, but I guess if Bills doesn’t have TJ surgery and comes back he has to be included as a possibility – he’s under contract for $11 Mil in ’13 and $12 Mil in ’14.

  • Anonymous

    Bob:  Fitting that you would name your pinch-hit appearance in honor of Elmer Valo.  My favorite Valo moment.   It was a game I attended, 8-13-58, at the Coliseum:

    Valo knocked in the winning run in bottom of the ninth with a pinch-hit double down the right-field line to beat the Cubs, 6-5.  I can still visualize it.  We were sitting between home and third.  Sandy Koufax, still a few years away from becoming the amazing pitcher he developed into, had failed to hold a 5-0 lead.  Valo was one of three major leaguers born in Czechoslovakia (Carl Linhart, John Stedronsky).

  • Anonymous

    For more on Elmer Valo, you can read this: 
    http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/c43041ae

    Although born in what was Czechoslovakia, I believe his birth place would be in modern day Slovakia.

    Elmer Valo is the alltime leader in walks by a pinch hitter, a mark he was very proud of.

    • Glen Creason

      First off…why would you change your name from Imrich to Elmer? He did have a coiled stance a la Stan the Man but with far less impressive results…yet, that walks record is impressive

  • Anonymous

    Farewell Art Modell

  • Anonymous

    BTW Bob, thanks for filling in for Jon and keeping the site current and relative while Jon is away.
    The name Bob Timmermann brings to mind Bob Zimmerman, who, incredibly will be releasing his 35th studio album next week, which brings to mind the fact that if the Dodgers don’t wake up and start playing up to their capabilities, it will be “All Over Now, Baby Blue” :
     
    You must leave now, take what you need, you think will last
    But whatever you wish to keep, you better grab it fast
    Yonder stands your orphan with his gun
    Crying like a fire in the sun
    Look out the saints are comin’ through
    And it’s all over now, Baby Blue

    The highway is for gamblers, better use your sense
    Take what you have gathered from coincidence
    The empty-handed painter from your streets
    Is drawing crazy patterns on your sheets
    This sky, too, is folding under you
    And it’s all over now, Baby Blue

    All your seasick sailors, they are rowing home
    All your reindeer armies, are all going home
    The lover who just walked out your door
    Has taken all his blankets from the floor
    The carpet, too, is moving under you
    And it’s all over now, Baby Blue

    Leave your stepping stones behind, something calls for you
    Forget the dead you’ve left, they will not follow you
    The vagabond who’s rapping at your door
    Is standing in the clothes that you once wore
    Strike another match, go start anew
    And it’s all over now, Baby Blue

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Hitchcock/1676059435 Jim Hitchcock

    Can’t help but think about the last time Bob flew to Toronto.

    • Anonymous

      You have a better memory than I do. I was in Toronto a few years ago and I don’t remember anything about the flight. Except a plane a few hours after me skidded off the runway a few hours after I got in.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Hitchcock/1676059435 Jim Hitchcock

         That’s what I was talking about :)

      • Anonymous

        Is that like taking the afternoon Megabus to St. Louis to watch the Dodgers play, and then ten days later, the exact same run crashed?

  • Anonymous

    The Braves are six outs away from beating the Rockies 1-0 and the only run so far has scored when the Rockies starting pitcher dropped a return throw from the catcher with a runner on third.

  • foul tip

    There was talk last thread about falling behind first inning.

    Made me wonder again about a stat I’ve heard but don’t recall exactly.  Says that first inning or not, odds are the team scoring first wins.

    Anyone know the percentage?

    • Anonymous

      According to a study by Dave Smith of Retrosheet in 2004, looking back at large universe of games (from the early 1900s through 2003), the team that lead after one inning won 70% of the time.

      Which doesn’t seem too surprising. Leading after each of the successive innings brings the winning percentage up higher.

      http://www.retrosheet.org/Research/SmithD/ScoringPattern.pdf 

  • Anonymous

    According to Stats Inc, the Braves have just become the first team since the 1984 Dodgers to win two consecutive 1-0 games on unearned runs. 

    Here are those Dodgers wins:
    July 28, 1984 - http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/LAN/LAN198407280.shtml
    July 29, 1984 - http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/LAN/LAN198407290.shtml

    In each case, Ed Amelung was at the center of the action.

    • Anonymous

      Left handed batter correct? I actually remember seeing him in a dodger uniform. Hard to believe we won two consecutive games at all during the 84 season.

      • Anonymous

        Huh?  The team was close to .500 on the year (79-83), and had two six-game winning streaks.

        • Anonymous

          Sorry I was only 14 at the time. And after the teams of 1980-83, 1984 seemed like a miserable year to a naive 14 year old. Though I believe we got to see Rafael Landestoy(?) in a Dodger uniform one more time :)

  • Anonymous

    Farewell to Joe South.

    • Anonymous

      The games people play now, every night and every day, now.

  • Anonymous

    Am I the only one who was impressed by Fife when he pitched.  Why can’t he be a contender for a starting role next year?  We also have a number of other young arms I’d rather see than an over the hill “veteran” pitcher.  Greinke is one thing, but other than him or a comparable pitcher, I wouldn’t mind rolling the dice with the 5 we’ve got with the young guys backing them up.

    • Anonymous

      He pitched decently, but I wouldn’t call him impressive. Perhaps there’s a place for him as a swingman in the pen, capable of long relief and spot starts.

    • Anonymous

      I was not impressed.  Ely deserves to compete (in light of his AAA season, not that 11th inning that never should’ve happened in the first place).

  • Anonymous

    I believe that this year’s team will be the best Dodger team to miss the playoffs since this one http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/LAD/1997.shtml
    Of course, things could have been different if not for this game http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SFN/SFN199709180.shtml
    Top of the 10th, bases loaded, no outs. Zeile strikes out followed by August pick-up and future Hall-of-Famer Eddie Murray’s 4-2-3 double play…

    • Anonymous

       Wow. Looking a bit further into 1997, we were two up with 11 games left going north to San Francisco for a two-game series. Game 1: we go down 2-0 in the first inning, get one back in the fifth, but end up losing 2-1. The next day, we are down 5-1 in the 5th, come back to force extras, only to miss scoring with that bases-loaded none-out situation in the 10th. End up losing on a future-Dodger Brian Johnson walk-off HR in the 12th. Sounds pretty familiar to the 2012 version. After the sweep, we go 4-5 and end up two back of the Giants. And of course we all remember what happens the following year, when we bid adieu to Fred Claire, Bill Russell, Mike Piazza, Todd Zeile, Hideo Nomo… if only Steady Eddie would have hit a Sac Fly. How would the Dodger future have unfolded?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gobias-Bluth/100001890059228 Gobias Bluth

        That is a great question. I don’t know that I ever brought it all back to one sac fly shaping the Dodgers future. Certainly a fitting analogy though. Well done.

      • Anonymous

        Great recap and despite the outcome what a game. I believe it was the late Rod Beck who loaded the bases only to get out of it. Vinny would talk about Beck swinging his arm as if he were pumping a well.

  • Anonymous

    Brandon McCarthy required an emergency operation last night to relieve bleeding between his skull and brain. McCarthy was hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of Erick Aybar of the Angels.

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/blog/eye-on-baseball/20081392/as-brandon-mccarthy-underwent-surgery-after-being-hit-in-head 

    • Anonymous

      How come pitchers aren’t required to where some kind of helmet or head gear?

      • Anonymous

        In the days when helmets first appeared, some batters preferred a sort of skull cap that fit underneath the regular cap. I believe there was a grandfather clause that let those players continue to use them for the rest of their careers, but all new major leaguers had to use full helmets. The skull cap style might be a good option for pitchers.

        John Olerud, of course, wore a helmet at all times.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Terry-Pruett/1707390003 Terry Pruett

          Norm Cash was the last active player to wear one, I believe.

          • Anonymous

             Interesting, I had no idea.

      • Anonymous

        It was hard enough to get coaches to wear helmets.

        I would assume that no one has developed a helmet that is comfortable enough for a pitcher to wear.

        • foul tip

           A certain former 3B coach for the Dodgers only wore one after being threatened with ejection by MLB.

          A decent case can be made that he should have been ejected–often–for general obnoxiousness if nothing else, by MLB or others.  But since Torre insisted on employing him, that would have put the Dodgers at a disadvantage.

          A search about this turned a Jon post on it, at the Toaster, with the clever headline of “Bowa Constrictor,” and  575 comments.

          http://dodgerthoughts.baseballtoaster.com/archives/914994.html

  • foul tip

    Renaissance man R.A. Dickey will write 3 children’s books,  one with a working title of Knuckleball Ned.

    No word if it might be dedicated to someone the Dodgers know well….and, no, the title isn’t KnuckleHEAD Ned, tho that would rhyme.    ;-])

    http://tracking.si.com/2012/09/06/ra-dickey-childrens-books-mets/

    • Anonymous

       If Kershaw’s doesn’t get the Cy, Dickey’s my choice.

  • foul tip

    And, in the almost never boring world of SEC football, Arkansas interim coach John L. Smith, who is to write the next chapter after the Petrino scandal, has declared…… Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

    The school says he was upfront about it.  That much is progress.

    It won’t affect his 10-month contract.

    http://tracking.si.com/2012/09/06/arkansas-razorbacks-coach-john-smith-bankruptcy-ncaa-football-bobby-petrino/

  • Anonymous

    Bob:  Just got home and read the story from SABR about Elmer Valo that you linked.  Wonderful history of the life and times of Mr. Valo.  Thank you.  And to AaSsWw, thanks for the lyrics to  ”All Over Now, Baby Blue.”  I can safely say that there is no other site on which one can read about Elmer Valo, Bob Dylan and . . . Ed Amelung. 

    • Anonymous

      My pleasure scoop – I marvel that an artist of Dylan’s caliber – who was in his prime when I was a toddler  (and who I fondly remember hearing as a boy, my father, with his bushy handlebar mustache and bellbottom jeans, spinning his vinyl records) – is still, to this day, cranking out tunes.
      I considered posting the lyrics to another of my favorites (man, there are so many), “Tangled up in Blue”, but the lyrics didn’t match up to a baseball team falling short of the goal to reach the playoffs nearly as much as “And It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”. 
      I also marvel that my long-term memory can be incredibly vivid, while my short-term memory can be so equaling incredibly lacking… 

      • Anonymous

         The Hoodoo Rhythm Devils did a great version of “Tangled Up.”

  • Anonymous

    Trying to post a link to Bob Dylan’s new album but having trouble.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=713935344 Jason Ungar

      Ya I streamed it on Itunes yesterday for free but I think they took it down. It’s really good. I have always been a big fan. I saw him live once (well a bunch of times), front row center at the Del Mar fair. He even smiled at me. This was like 2002..

      • Anonymous

         I don’t think Zimmy smiles at anybody.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=713935344 Jason Ungar

           This is why I treasure that moment more so than just about any that isn’t directly family related. It’s up there with Gibson 88 for me. Cause you are right. I have seen him 15-20 times in my life and he hardly even looks up at the crowd. But I was so happy to be there. Singing my heart out..he just had to smile.

        • Anonymous

          >> I don’t think Zimmy smiles at anybody.

          Neither does AJ.

  • Anonymous

    Feel free to remind SFers that they’re really a suburb of San Jose, and a touristy, bedroom-y suburb at that.  They like that.

  • foul tip
    • Anonymous

      Cool story.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=713935344 Jason Ungar

       before reading this I just heard on the radio that Ned and the Dodgers are in negotiations to extend his GM contract.

  • Anonymous

    NPUT