Aug 27

Dodgers recall Wall

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

Josh Wall has replaced Shawn Tolleson in the Dodger bullpen, but according to Dylan Hernandez of the Times, Tolleson is not about to become someone else’s player to be named later.

Rather, after using every reliever not named Kenley Jansen this weekend, the Dodgers were trying to shore up their bullpen for this week’s games in Colorado. So, expect to see Tolleson again in a Dodger uniform soon after rosters expand.

There are rumors that the Dodgers are concerned enough about Chad Billingsley’s health and Joe Blanton’s performance that they might still try to acquire another starting pitcher, believe it or not.

* * *

Keith Law of ESPN.com on Josh Beckett:

… Beckett’s lost season comes down to three main problems: some lost velocity, poor pitch selection and horrific pitching from the stretch. He has lost a mile and a half off his average fastball this year versus 2011, a year that was already down from his peak fastball a few years earlier, which is likely the effect of age and regular usage over the years but doesn’t in and of itself have to be fatal. (It does show he’s not a good candidate for a multiyear extension.)

He gives up way too many hits on his cutter, which has proved less effective than the straight changeup that was previously his worst pitch (because it looked like a BP fastball compared with his four-seamer). He’s been nearly 300 points of opponents’ OPS worse with men on base this year, and, although that’s often just bad luck or randomness, in Beckett’s case it’s more because his fastball is softer from the stretch and because he relies too much on that flat cutter in those situations. …

From April 13 through June 30 this year, Beckett had a 3.50 ERA in 79 2/3 innings over 12 starts. In his other 2012 starts, he has allowed 43 earned runs in 47 2/3 innings.

In 2011 through August 27, Beckett had a 2.43 ERA and 141 strikeouts in 163 innings.

Aug 26

Can they get to 50?

My annual quest to see if the Dodgers can use 50 players in a season took a big leap forward with this weekend’s Boston trade, which brought Adrian Gonzalez (No. 45), Nick Punto (No. 46) and  Josh Beckett (soon to be No. 47).

With the 40-man roster full, it could be tough to add many more players after September 1, but candidates to boost this year’s total to 50 include minor-leaguers Tim Federowicz, Chris Withrow (a longshot, presumably) and, if they’re feeling funky, Yasiel Puig.

The Dodgers have reached 50 players in three seasons: 2006 (50), 1998 (53) and 1944 (53). Delwyn Young was their 50th player in 2006, while the end-of-the-line crew in 1998 included Angel Pena, Jeff Kubenka and Mike Metcalfe. The year of the Mike Piazza trade, the Dodgers reached 50 players before rosters expanded in September.

Aug 26

Scully to bring another year of heaven on earth

Vin Scully will return to the Dodger broadcast booth for the 2013 season, according to a report by Bill Shaikin of the Times. An official announcement is due today, said Shaikin, who added that the Dodgers’ first regular-season visit to Yankee Stadium will come next year, with Scully potentially heading to New York to do the games. (The only problem with that plan is the likelihood that at least two games would end up on Fox and ESPN).

He’s coming back. It’s the best of news, it’s the best of news. Thanks, Vin.

Update: Scully’s return is official.

“The new ownership of the Dodgers has revitalized the city, the team, the fans and myself,” Scully said in a statement. “I am so convinced of their great purpose and leadership that I eagerly look forward to joining them in pursuit of the next Dodgers championship.”

Update 2: More from Scully’s meeting with the media from J.P Hoornstra of the Daily News and Jim Peltz of the Times.

Marlins at Dodgers, 1:10 p.m.
Shane Victorino, LF
Nick Punto, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Andre Ethier, RF
Luis Cruz, 3B
Matt Treanor, C
Aaron Harang, P
Aug 25

Ethier tinkers successfully, Gonaflon Gonzalez leaves ever so little to chance in triumphant Dodger debut

Billingsley back to DL

For the second time this season, Chad Billingsley has gone to the disabled list with right elbow issues. Josh Beckett will enter the rotation and start Monday. Also, Alex Castellanos was optioned to Albuquerque, with Nick Punto taking his roster spot.

A pure “Wow!” moment.

Adrian Gonzalez, piled to the sky with expectations as big as the Louisiana Purchase, set up for glory when the Dodgers started their first inning Saturday with three consecutive hits, pulverized a Josh Johnson fastball down the right-field line at Dodger Stadium for an era-opening three-run home run.

The blast gave the Dodgers a lead and a headline they would never relinquish on their way to an 8-2 victory that cut their deficit in the National League West to two games, though Andre Ethier has done his best to steal the show.

Going 4 for 4 for the second night in a row (with two singles, a double and a homer), Ethier has broken the 35-year-old Los Angeles Dodger record held by Ron Cey and tied the 93-year-old franchise mark of Ed Konetchy with hits in 10 consecutive at-bats. Ethier, left in the on-deck circle when the Dodgers made their final out of the night, had a bloop single to center for the milestone hit – and his home run, it should be noted, came off Marlins lefty Wade LeBlanc. Ethier, who is within two of the major-league record, has credited his streak with choking up on the bat slightly and shortening his swing, in response to the blister he has on his palm.

Johnson withered under the Dodgers’ revamped offense (even without Shane Victorino, who was a late scratch with back pain). He threw 46 pitches in the first inning, only escaping further damage when a borderline 3-2 pitch to Clayton Kershaw was called for strike three, and exited the game after a mammoth 89 pitches in only three innings.

The Dodgers had 10 hits off Johnson, 16 in all, including three by Mark Ellis and Matt Kemp and two apiece for Luis Cruz and A.J. Ellis. Ethier and Mark Ellis each came within a triple of the cycle. Gonzalez ended up 1 for 5.

In the records kept by Baseball-Reference.com, Johnson is only the third starting pitcher to have thrown at least 89 pitches against Los Angeles in a start of three innings or less. Over the past two nights, Johnson and Nathan Eovaldi have combined to throw 165 pitches in only six innings, while allowing 12 runs (including five homers) on 20 baserunners.

Amid all this, Kershaw quietly shut down the Marlins over eight innings. After allowing a leadoff double that came around to score on two groundouts in the first inning, and a Giancarlo Stanton special for another run in the second inning, Kershaw held Miami hitless save for an infield single that replays (and my naked eye, for that matter) concluded should have been an out. Kershaw struck out eight, walked two and threw only five more pitches than Johnson.

The Dodgers have as many homers in the past 26 hours, six, as they had in all of June. The atmosphere at Dodger Stadium … jovial, to say the least.

Aug 25

Gonzalez in starting lineup – Kershaw too

Marlins at Dodgers, 6:10 p.m.
Kershaw CXLIII: Kershawrvest Time
Shane Victorino, LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Andre Ethier, RF
Luis Cruz, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Clayton Kershaw, P

Adrian Gonzalez and Clayton Kershaw, in the same lineup. Hello.

  • At the plate this month, Kershaw is 7 for 10 with a sacrifice fly.
  • Keith Law offers a scout’s perspective on the trade at ESPN.com.
  • Peter Abraham writes about the traded Red Sox at the Boston Globe under the headline, “Bad contracts, sure, but not bad people.”
  • Still awaiting word on the Dodgers’ official roster moves. Will update before the game if they come in a timely fashion.
  • Farewell, Neil Armstrong.
Aug 25

The morning after

Going to try to get away from the computer for much of today – wish me luck – so here are some bullet points.

  • As anyone reading this site knows by now, the Dodgers pulled away from the Marlins with a five-run seventh for an 11-4 victory Friday. Andre Ethier went 4 for 4, and Luis Cruz delivered three runs on one play by hitting a 50-foot infield grounder with two on base and circling the bases on two Miami errors. Ethier, Hanley Ramirez and Juan Rivera all homered off former teammate Nathan Eovaldi in the first three innings.
  • An MRI on Chad Billingsley “revealed only right elbow inflammation and nothing worse,” reports Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. ”He said his elbow felt similar to what it felt like in July, when he was placed on the DL, but that Saturday morning would be a better determinant for his immediate pitching future.”
  • Cruz went 2 for 4 to raise his batting average to an incomprehensible .299. Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com gives us the backstory on the Dodger folk hero.
  • Chad Moriyama breaks down the big trade in detail, while here’s Dave Cameron’s take at Fangraphs and Jay Jaffe’s for SI.com.
  • Jaffe provides a chart of the Dodgers’ salary commitments, which I am going to pilfer and place here (all dollar figures in millions, and all annual salaries taken from Cot’s Baseball Contracts):
    Player 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
    Gonzalez $21.00 $21.00 $21.00 $21.00 $21.00 $21.50 $21.50
    Crawford $19.50 $20.00 $20.25 $20.50 $20.75 $21.00 Free Agent
    Beckett $15.75 $15.75 $15.75 Free Agent
    Subtotal $56.25 $56.75 $57.00 $41.50 $41.75 $42.50 $21.50
    Dodgers existing $105.42 $135.51 $76.66 $48.46 $46.96 $47.46 $29.00
    Total $161.67 $192.26 $133.66 $89.96 $88.71 $89.96 $50.50
  • Did the big trade actually happen, or will we find that it, like everything else, is a figment of Tommy Westphal’s autistic imagination?
  • I tweeted this mid-week but never put it on the site: The Dodgers signed 16-year-old lefthanded pitcher Julio Urias from Mexico, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. “One of the better pitching prospects on the market, (Urias) has touched 92 mph and shown good feel for pitching for his age,” Badler writes.
  • Adrian Beltre became the second player ever and first since Joe DiMaggio in 1948 to hit three homers in a game and hit for the cycle in the same week.
  • Former Dodger lefty Eric Stults pitched seven shutout innings for San Diego, lowering his ERA to 2.68, and went 2 for 2 with three RBI to help put some distance between the Dodgers and Diamondbacks for second place in the National League West.
  • Josh Lindblom (15 baserunners, 7.88 ERA in eight innings) is having a bad time in Philadelphia, writes Ian Riccaboni of Phillies Nation.
Aug 24

Billingsley leaves in fourth with injury

With one out in the top of the fourth inning and a 6-3 Dodger lead over the Marlins, Dodger starter Chad Billingsley left the game with an undisclosed injury.

Billingsley, with a 1.30 ERA in six starts since coming off the disabled list, gave up a two-run home run in the first inning to Jose Reyes tonight and allowed seven baserunners among the 17 batters he faced, striking out one. (Update: Jamey Wright replaced Billingsley with a 2-0 count and walked the batter – that walk was also charged to Billingsley.)

Billingsley walked off the mound immediately after throwing a low-and-outside pitch to Gorkys Hernandez. Head trainer Sue Falsone visited with Billingsley and a contingent of Dodgers at the mound before escorting him to the clubhouse. Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt pointed to the elbow.

Aug 24

Revolution day game chat

Marlins at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Shane Victorino, LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Luis Cruz, 3B
Juan Rivera, 1B
A.J. Ellis, C
Chad Billingsley, P

With Dodger fans whipped into a frenzy, it somehow seems right that Chad Billingsley is pitching tonight. He’s always good for inspiring a little reaction and over-reaction.

The latest we’re hearing is that in addition to those previously mentioned, Dodger pitching prospect Allen Webster will also be going to Boston. The 22-year-old has 117 strikeouts in 121 1/3 innings this season for Double-A Chattanooga with a 3.55 ERA — including a 2.08 ERA in the season’s second half.

I still haven’t digested Josh Beckett and (currently injured) Carl Crawford coming to Los Angeles. Will get to that later on …

Your new 2012 Dodgers lineup?
Shane Victorino, LF
Andre Ethier, RF
Matt Kemp, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Luis Cruz, 3B
Mark Ellis, 2B
A.J. Ellis, C

Aug 24

Quick thoughts on Adrian Gonzalez

The Dodgers were awarded a revocable waiver claim to Boston Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who fits the Hanley Ramirez model of an All-Star having a down season that is still way better than what the Dodgers have to offer at that position.

Boston has until Sunday to decide whether it wants to send Gonzalez to the Dodgers. Here are my quick thoughts …

Gonzalez still has value to the Red Sox, even if they are rebuilding. And the Red Sox aren’t exactly poverty-stricken. So, even though he’s making more than $20 million a year through 2016, it seems unlikely to me that they want to just give him away without getting anything in return.

On the other side of the coin, it’s clear the Dodgers have use for him, but as we saw with their waiver claim on Cliff Lee that ended up going nowhere, a willingness to pay high salaries doesn’t mean a deal will get done. Steve Dilbeck of the Times speculated Thursday that the Dodgers would have to offer a group of their best prospects that included top prize Rubby De La Rosa (who would need to somehow clear waivers) and take one or more bad contracts from Boston. That’s excessive. If the Dodgers weren’t willing to do that in order to rope Cliff Lee from the Phillies instead of Joe Blanton, that’s too much to expect for Gonzalez.

However, I do see potential for compromise between these two extremes. I’m holding my breath ever so slightly.

As a footnote, Gonzalez is four weeks younger than Andre Ethier.

Aug 23

Surgeries for all!

“And you get an operation! And you get an operation!”

Blake Hawksworth, who hasn’t been able to throw a major-league pitch this year, had shoulder surgery Wednesday and is going to miss all of 2013 as well, reports Alex Angert of MLB.com.

But that’s not all. Jerry Hairston Jr. is going to miss the remainder of the season with hip surgery, though he is scheduled to be ready for the start of next season.

Here’s more from Steve Dilbeck of Dodgers Now:

… Head trainer Sue Falsone said Tuesday that Hairston would likely be examined by a couple more hip specialists before the exact nature of his potential surgery was determined, but it would likely involve an arthroscopic procedure similar to what is more commonly performed on shoulders. …

He said the hip had been bothering him to some degree for almost two months, and he had only five hits in his last 38 at-bats. …

* * *

  • In the Dodgers’ next game, Nathan Eovaldi will start against his former teammates, opposing Chad Billingsley. Aaron Harang was given an extra two days of rest, moving to Sunday.
  • Framework has a classic 1964 picture of Willie Davis.
Aug 22

Andre Ethier in the crosshairs

Giants at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Shane Victorino, LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
James Loney, 1B
Luis Cruz, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Chris Capuano, P

People getting impatient with Matt Kemp for a few hitless games is pretty silly. But Andre Ethier has been a source of frustration for some time now.

Tuesday’s game-ending double play was a tipping point for a few people to point the spotlight at him, including Steve Dilbeck of Dodgers Now, Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. and — in the most detail — Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness.

Petriello notes that a second-half slump is nothing new for Ethier, although in the past it was easier to blame things on injuries. This year, he’s not so sure:

… While the poor K/BB trend isn’t good, I don’t think he’s suddenly lost all patience and ability to make contact. It seems to me that it’s more of a symptom than a cause, and that the real root of the trouble is simply this: other managers aren’t blind.

Here’s what I mean by that. Check out the percentage of lefty pitching that Ethier has faced over the last six years, shown in the table at right. For years, Ethier routinely faced lefties 25-30% of the time. This year it’s well over 40%, and as I hardly need to tell you, Ethier is absolutely awful against lefty pitching. Well, I don’t need to tell you, but I will – in over 1,000 career plate appearances against southpaws, Ethier hits only .238/.298/.351 (.650); this year, it’s even worse .216/.281/.315 (.596). Despite his briefly effective first few weeks against lefties this year, Ethier’s back to his typical awful performance against them, and other managers are taking advantage of that fact. If there’s any mystery here, it’s why it took them so long to do this since Ethier’s never really been able to hit them.

Yet either because Don Mattingly is unwilling to offend a star or he simply has no one on the active roster to turn to (and while I know Mattingly-bashing is a fun sport, I’m more inclined to believe the latter, because the bench is short and does anyone really like Rivera that much?) Ethier continues to hit against lefties.  …

It’s a problem without much of a solution, certainly not as long as first base is in its current quandary. The only moves I can think of are to call up Jerry Sands and Elian Herrera as platoon partners for first base and left field, and get rid of a couple of Juans. Otherwise, we’re just hoping for the best.

In the short term, Stephen offers a source of optimism for tonight:

… A pair of left-handers have had success against Cain in their careers. Andre Ethier is 24-for-50 with two doubles and a triple, hitting .480/.500/.560 against Cain in his career, and is 2-for-3 with a double this season. Ethier has still sitting on 29 doubles on August 5, one double shy of becoming the first Dodger in the 129-year history of the franchise with six consecutive seasons of 30 doubles or more.

James Loney is hitting .364/.429/.533 (16-for-44 with five doubles and a triple) against Cain with 11 RBI in 17 games, including 2-for-3 this season. …

Aug 22

Home unfree

The Dodgers began the season hot at home and cold on the road. Now they are cold at home and hot on the road.

Here are the explanations:

  • Through player transactions, the team has evolved from one more suited to playing at home to the opposite (possibility: 15 percent)
  • Coincidence (possibility: 80 percent)
  • Tides (possibility: 5 percent)
  • Anything else (possibility: <0.5 percent)

* * *

Stephen Fife has a 6.05 ERA with Triple-A Albuquerque since being sent back down, largely because he allowed nine runs in 4 2/3 innings on August 16. He has two quality starts in his other outings. In 19 1/3 innings, he has the same number of strikeouts (nine) as homers (three) and walks (six) combined.

I’m still comfortable with the idea that Joe Blanton – as disappointing as he’s been – was a better bet than Fife. Perhaps the tides will allow Rubby De La Rosa to be better still.

* * *

Elsewhere …

  • On his 36th birthday, former Dodger Randy Wolf has been released by the Brewers. Wolf had a 5.69 ERA, 1.574 WHIP and 6.13 strikeouts per nine innings this season. Milwaukee will swallow the remainder of his $9.5 million salary for 2012 and a $1.5 million buyout of his 2013 option.
  • A few people wrote Tuesday about what impending free agent Nick Swisher of the Yankees will be worth on the open market; Dave Cameron of Fangraphs used Andre Ethier as a comparison.
  • Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports devotes his column to the Matt Kemp-Tim Lincecum at-bat with the bases loaded Tuesday.
  • The double-shot of 10-strikeout, no-walk performances by Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw on Monday marked only the third time since 1920 such a feat happened in the same game, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
  • Former Dodger Jon Link has a 0.75 ERA in a comeback-from-release attempt with the Marlins’ New Orleans affiliate, writes Christopher Jackson of Albuquerque Baseball Examiner.

    … Link was cut (by Norfolk) on June 12 and was still unemployed going into July.

    “A month without a paycheck and a baby on the way is not the best situation to be in,” he said. …

  • Carson Cistulli of Fangraphs has fun with an 1887 newspaper baseball clipping.
  • Umpire Jim Joyce performed life-saving CPR on an Arizona Diamondbacks employee Monday.
  • Best wishes to MLB players union chief Michael Weiner, who is being treated for a brain tumor.