Sep 04

More bullpen woes: Javy Guerra injures oblique

Padres at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Kershaw CXLV: Kershawncle Bill the Sailor
Mark Ellis, 2B
Shane Victorino, LF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, CF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Andre Ethier, RF
Luis Cruz, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Clayton Kershaw, P

Javy Guerra, who has allowed 13 baserunners in 12 1/3 innings with a 0.00 ERA since July 28, has been placed on the disabled list with a left oblique strain.

That move, coming even with rosters expanded in September, hints that Guerra is not likely to see much action for the remainder of the regular season, if any.

Guerra pitched one game following his recall from Albuquerque, retiring three of four batters on Sunday. Josh Wall, the closer for playoff-bound Albuquerque, has been brought up to shore up the depleted Dodger bullpen.

* * *

Tonight, Clayton Kershaw faces old friend Eric Stults. The lefty, now 32, has a 2.43 ERA in 63 innings for San Diego, 1.86 since July.

* * *

Update: Steve Dilbeck of the Times tweets the following: “Kenley Jansen to stay on blood thinners 10 more days, hopes to return Sept. 17; plans offseason surgery to fix heart problem.”

 

Sep 03

Labor Day game chat

Padres at Dodgers, 5:10 p.m.
Mark Ellis, 2B
Shane Victorino, LF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, CF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Andre Ethier, RF
Luis Cruz, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Joe Blanton, P

For Labor Day, Robert J. Baumann of Fangraphs looks at which ballplayers are working the hardest this year.

Pretty amazing that Baltimore has pulled within a game of the Yankees in the American League East, isn’t it? This could really be a year for some fresh cities in the postseason.

What would they call a Baltimore-Washington World Series?  The 295 Series? The Inside-Outside-the-Beltway Classic?

Sep 02

Dodgers bring back Abreu

Diamondbacks at Dodgers, 1:10 p.m.
Mark Ellis, 2B
Shane Victorino, LF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, CF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Andre Ethier, RF
Luis Cruz, 3B
Matt Treanor, C
Chris Capuano, P

Bobby Abreu has joined the Dodgers’ active roster. To make room for him on the 40-man, the Dodgers technically called up pitcher Chris Withrow, then placed him on the 60-day disabled list … for undisclosed reasons. (Update: It’s listed as a “right lat strain.”)

Withrow last pitched for Double-A Chattanooga on August 17 and has only thrown 19 innings since June 1, all in relief.

Abreu has a .705 OPS against right-handed pitching as a Dodger this year. Shane Victorino as a Dodger against righties is at .629.

Sep 01

September 1 game chat: Ely promoted

Diamondbacks at Dodgers, 6:10 p.m.
Mark Ellis, 2B
Shane Victorino, LF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, CF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Andre Ethier, RF
Luis Cruz, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Josh Beckett, P

In addition to Tim Federowicz and Javy Guerra, John Ely has joined the big-league roster. Alfredo Silverio was transferred to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Ely.

If the Dodgers lose tonight, they will be 35-32 at home and on the road.

Sep 01

At least there is some good news …

Atlanta, St. Louis and Pittsburgh are sure doing what they can to keep alive the Dodgers’ hopes of playing past Oct. 3, even if only for one day. But it sure has been an ugly week.

On the bright side, Jaime Jarrin has signed a three-year deal with the Dodgers that will keep him in the broadcast booth for his 55th, 56th and 57th seasons.

Elsewhere …

  • I talked Dodgers in this interview with Will Carroll at the Nickel.
  • Javy Guerra and Tim Federowicz are expected to be the Dodgers’ first roster-expansion callups today.
  • John Ely might not get a callup because of 40-man roster issues, but he was named Pacific Coast League pitcher of the year. He led the league in ERA, WHIP and innings, writes Christopher Jackson of Albuquerque Baseball Examiner.
  • Dodger pitching prospect Zach Lee has a 2.27 ERA with eight walks and 29 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings since July 27 for Double-A Chattanooga.
  • Yasiel Puig, Eric Eadington, Red Patterson, Steven Rodriguez, Gorman Erickson, Rafael Ynoa and Joc Pederson will be on the Dodgers’ Arizona Fall League team.
  • The life and career of John Roseboro is the subject of Bruce Markusen’s piece at the Hardball Times.
  • Former Dodger shortstop Rafael Furcal has a damaged elbow ligament and will miss the rest of 2012. Tommy John surgery is a possibility. Furcal had a .325 on-base percentage and .346 slugging percentage in 531 plate appearances for St. Louis, .276/.278 from May 17 on. He played in 121 of the Cardinals’ first 131 games.
  • No one plays third base like Adrian Beltre, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times (via Rob Neyer at Baseball Nation).
  • San Diego, which began its season 28-50, is 34-21 since – best in the National League West. Jeff Sullivan writes about their resurgence at Fangraphs, while The Associated Press writes about their new O’Malley-led ownership.
Aug 31

Do better, but how?

“We’ve got to do better.”

— Don Mattingly

“I did my best, but I guess my best wasn’t good enough.”

— James Ingram

* * *

I tell myself to do better all the time. I do it so often that for the most part, other people don’t have to. Not that it does a whole lot of good.

Thursday, just as the rainbow was receding from Dodger Stadium, I was leaving a film screening that, as happens from time to time, left me really inspired to do exactly that with my life. Do better.

Basically, there are three ways to “do better.”

  1. Try harder.
  2. Be smarter.
  3. Have better luck.

I don’t see any indication that Dodger players are doing any less than the best they can on the first two points. The third, of course, is out of their control.

In the Dodgers’ latest loss, 2-0 to Arizona on Thursday, Clayton Kershaw had a good but not great game. He allowed only two runs, but it could have been worse, given that he served up 12 baserunners in six innings. You want him to do better, but do you really think he could have consciously, proactively done anything more to make himself do better?

The Dodger offense had a poor game, against a great 2011 pitcher having a not-so-great 2012 season. In nine innings, the Dodgers had five singles, two walks and no hits with runners in scoring position. Their best chance to score was thwarted by Arizona second baseman Aaron Hill, whose full-body diving stop of a Juan Rivera grounder up the middle turned what would have been a one-out RBI single into an inning-ending double play.

Was the Dodgers’ effort not there? The first thing many people do when a theoretically talented team is losing is conclude that the team is playing with no heart, no fire, no guts. But not succeeding doesn’t mean you’re not trying.

These guys know what’s at stake, individually and collectively. They know they’re behind.  Show me where there was a lack of effort. Show me where they made a mental mistake that made the difference. Show me something meaningful that you’re not just imagining out of frustration.

Now maybe Don Mattingly sees something that I can’t see, and that’s what prompted his closed-door clubhouse exhortation after Thursday’s game. Perhaps he saw something we didn’t in the shadows of pregame preparation, rather than in the gametime spotlight.

More likely is that he is telling his players to “do better” because there’s nothing else really to say. And it’s a little ironic, because, although I’m generally supportive of Mattingly’s efforts as a manager, probably the easiest way for a Dodger to do better might be Mattingly in some of his batting order choices and strategic decisions. But even that’s pretty small potatoes.

Last night, I arrived home hoping to do better. By the time I went to sleep, I was exactly who I was. The Dodgers will do as well as they can, and then they’ll see if that’s good enough.  Because everyone can try to do better, but only one can be the best.

Aug 29

You’re never too low to rise again

The past two nights have provided as big a gap between expectations and fulfillment as we’ve seen in a while, a combination of poor execution and poor luck, punctuated each time by Matt Kemp turning himself into a self-made pinata. The good news is that as soon as today, that gap can be bridged, even with Kemp spending the game on the bench. Save yourself talk of chemistry and curses – it’s heartily premature.

The more real concern is that a team that finally boasts a lineup equipped for the postseason has a gap to overcome to get there first. Los Angeles has fallen a season-high 3 1/2 games behind San Francisco with 32 remaining. That’s a reversal that will require a bit more patience.

It’s not that the ground can’t be made up – it can be, and with weeks to spare. A month from today, the Dodgers can be 3 1/2 games out of first place and still win the World Series. But I think most Dodger fans would rather feel more secure. That means having a cushion heading into the final three games of the regular season against San Francisco and a pitching staff that would test any lineup. That means going from 3 1/2 out to 3 1/2 up.

It’s far too soon to panic, but it’s not too soon to hope the Dodgers can pick their crumpled bodies off the ground right away. It has only taken three days for bravado to turn back into humility. Let the shell-shocking Rockies be the inspiration, and let the Dodgers now be the humble assassins.

Hit the ball, pitch the ball, catch the ball. If Colorado can do it, so can Los Angeles.

Aug 28

Dodger blog end-of-season tournament is September 29

Dodgers at Rockies, 5:40 p.m.
Mark Ellis, 2B
Shane Victorino, LF
Matt Kemp, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Andre Ethier, RF
Adam Kennedy, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Chris Capuano, P

There’s another Dodger blogger softball tournament coming September 29, and Dodger Thoughts once again will have a spot. Details on joining the Dodger Thoughts team can be found here.

Unfortunately, I won’t be attending the tournament this time around, but I can promise you it will be great fun with a bunch of great people (who share a common interest, to say the least). So sign up today!