Aug 01

Nope – it’s Abreu

Diamondbacks at Dodgers, 12:10 p.m.
Shane Victorino, LF
Andre Ethier, RF
Matt Kemp, CF
Hanley Ramirez, 3B
Juan Rivera, 1B
Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B
Luis Cruz, SS
A.J. Ellis, C
Stephen Fife, P

Well, I was wrong. The Dodgers have designated Bobby Abreu for assignment to make room on the roster for Shane Victorino.

Abreu OPSed .905 in his first 33 games as a Dodger, through June 11, but since then the outfielder has been 16 for 90 with 11 walks and two extra-base hits in 37 games for a .490 OPS.

I’m genuinely surprised. In this money-is-no-object era for the Dodgers, I still see more potential for Abreu to help in the stretch run than Juan Uribe.

* * *

  • Victorino will wear No. 8 with the Dodgers, with Don Mattingly switching to No. 12. The switch-hitting Victorino is wearing the same number as the switch-hitting Reggie Smith did as a Dodger in the 1970s. Smith took No. 8 because Steve Yeager already had the outfielder’s preferred No. 7.
  • Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus ranked the prospects traded at the deadline this week. Ethan Martin is 11th, Scott McGough 24th, Logan Bawcom 25th and Leon Landry 30th out of 43.
  • Goldstein also produced a new ranking of the top 50 prospects in baseball, with Zach Lee on the list at 47.
  • In the wake of Martin’s departure, the Dodgers promoted Andres Santiago to Double-A Chattanooga, reports Robert Emrich for MLB.com. The 22-year-old righty had a 1.76 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 41 innings for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga in July, while allowing only 21 hits and nine walks.
  • Jerry Hairston Jr. had an obscure but memorable throw, captured by Chad Moriyama.
  • Buster Olney names 10 leading August trade candidates in his column for ESPN.com.
  • This past weekend, I discussed Chad Billingsley’s season-long improvement in throwing strikes. At Fangraphs, Michael Barr delves deeper, noting that Billingsley is “going to his four seam fastball far more regularly and he’s almost abandoned his cutter.”
  • A year after it happened, the Trayvon Robinson trade gets a positive review from Scott Andes at Lasorda’s Lair.
  • Dodger Stadium cuisine was recently reviewed by Jeanne Fratello of the Jolly Tomato.
  • Former Dodger general manager Dan Evans had a post-deadline live chat today at Baseball Prospectus.
  • Houston finished July with a 3-24 record, the worst July any team has had in at least 50 years, notes David Pinto of Baseball Musings.
  • With no further introduction, a recent piece from Josh Wilker.
Jul 29

Sands’ slams top a great day on the farm

The Dodgers’ happy Sunday extended down to the minor leagues, where Jerry Sands hit two grand slams in the first four innings for Albuquerque in the second game of a doubleheader.

In addition, Ted Lilly and Rubby De La Rosa each had successful rehabilitation outings, taking steps toward rejoining the active roster sometime in August. The pair combined for five shutout innings with four strikeouts.

Jun 24

June 24 game chat

Dodgers at Angels, 12:35 p.m.
Dee Gordon, SS
Elian Herrera, 3B
Andre Ethier, RF
Bobby Abreu, DH
Juan Rivera, LF
James Loney, 1B
Adam Kennedy, 2B
Tony Gwynn Jr., CF
Matt Treanor, C
(Aaron Harang, P)

Travis Jones, a 23-year-old minor-league catcher released by Kansas City, has signed with the Dodgers, who are converting him to pitching. Jones pitched a shutout inning for the Rookie-level Arizona League Dodgers on Friday.

* * *

Daron Sutton, the son of Hall-of-Famer Don Sutton, has been removed from the Arizona Diamondbacks’ broadcast booth indefinitely, according to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com.

* * *

Clayton Kershaw and Chris Capuano, duelin’ and dealin’ lefties …

Apr 24

Castellanos/Van Slyke/Sands postscript

Christopher Jackson, who covers the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque for the Albuquerque Baseball Examiner, stopped by the Dodger Thoughts comments Monday and offered the following reaction to my post about Scott Van Slyke, Jerry Sands and Alex Castellanos.

Castellanos is not ready for the big leagues. He can chew up and spit out the lousy pitching in the PCL, but he is very prone to chasing stuff on the outside part of the plate. Big-league pitchers will eat him alive, a la Sands last year with the inside pitches. The good news is Castellanos knows he’s not ready. I asked him if he’d heard the rumors people were tossing about when Uribe was hurting, and he told me everyone’s getting ahead of themselves. He knows for his development that a full season (or at least close to a full season) at Triple-A is a must. And no, folks, he’s not going to solve the 3B dilemma. The Dodgers are focused on him playing 2B, period.

Van Slyke, besides being one of the funniest guys on the team (his stories about life in baseball as a kid are outstanding), is a solid hitter and someone I could see going up to the big leagues in the second half. He can hit to all fields, he will take pitches at the plate and defensively he seems fine in the outfield (first base, well, there’s a reason the Dodgers moved him off there this spring).

Sands and the Topes’ coaching staff are confident he can turn things around, but lordy, that boy seems stubborn. They tell him “lay off the first pitch” and he goes up and swings away from the start. In most games his early plate appearances are hard to watch, then he starts to settle down. I think if anything he’s trying too hard; he’s overthinking at the plate. It’s frustrating for everyone involved, and you want to root for the guy since he is a good kid. You just wonder that if he can’t turn things around in the next month or so what the Dodgers are going to do. They want him to succeed, they need him to succeed, but right now …

Oh, and best bet for first Tope to be called up: Scott Rice. The kid is legit as a lefty reliever. Might spare you all from MacDougal/Coffey sooner rather than later.

Jackson is on Twitter: @TopesWriter.

Mar 03

Hitting prospects Silverio, Songco sidelined

Minor-league center fielder Alfredo Silverio, considered by some the Dodgers’ top position-player prospect, will be sidelined indefinitely as he recovers from a serious January car accident in the Dominican Republic. Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. and Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com reported initial details, and Jackson has a follow-up.

… In short, the kid is lucky. From talking to various people (still haven’t been able to talk to Silverio), this is what I have been able to cull: the accident happened on a stretch of road called Curva de la Muerte, which translates to Curve of Death. Apparently, he was going about 60 mph and lost control, the car going off the road and flipping several times. He temporarily lost consciousness, and the car was demolished. …

Silverio, 25 in May, had a .883 OPS for Double-A Chattanooga last year.

Meanwhile, Angelo Songco “is expected to miss the next two to three months after having a rod inserted into his lower right leg,” Jackson adds, the results of complications from a 2011 injury. Now 23, Songco had a .948 OPS for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.

* * *

  • The boys in the press corp also confirmed that Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to pitch the season opener in San Diego on April 5 and the home opener in Los Angeles on April 10. An off day follows the Dodgers’ first four games, meaning that the No. 5 starter, probably Chris Capuano, will be in the bullpen for the first series of the year. The last Dodger pitcher to start a road Opening Day and a subsequent home opener was Tim Belcher in 1989, in part because Orel Hershiser had the flu.
  • Today in Jon SooHoo: Kirk Gibson and Hershiser in that spring of ’89.
  • Dee Gordon had to get stitches on his lip today following a bad-hop grounder, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Times.
  • Blake DeWitt, at age 26, has earned the moniker “professional hitter” from Cubs manager Dale Sveum, according to Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com.
  • Manager Pedro Guerrero? Oh yeah …
  • Adrian Beltre, bathroom trendsetter? Okay …

 

Mar 01

Pigs in a news blanket


Above: How the story of the Three Little Pigs would be covered in today’s world, as presented by the Guardian.

Below:

  • Vin Scully tops the broadcaster rankings of the national readership of Fangraphs.
  • Ramona Shelburne has a nice piece at ESPNLosAngeles.com about Francisco “Chico” Herrera, a Dodger bat boy who went to today’s open tryout.
  • James Loney ranked behind only Oakland’s Daric Barton defensively among first basemen in the statistical rankings provided by David Pinto at Baseball Musings.
  • Chad Moriyama presents his top-25 Dodger prospect rankings at his blog.
  • Eric Fisher of Sports Business Journal has an extensive article on a very real issue for many sports fans — the challenges in maintaining an effective wireless system at ballparks and stadiums.
  • David Schoenfield of ESPN.com looks at baseball’s scheduling imbalance problems.
  • Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports gave a good interview to Jason McIntyre of Big Lead Sports.
Feb 24

Striking thoughts about Kyle Russell and Billy Ashley

Because of his strikeout reputation, I got curious to see how Dodger prospect Kyle Russell compared to the swingingest Dodger prospect of a previous generation, Billy Ashley. They’re significantly different players in other ways, but I figured on an idle Friday I might just take a look.

Last year, at age 25, Russell had a .343 on-base percentage, .488 slugging percentage, 23 homers, 53 walks and 144 strikeouts in 493 plate appearances, spent mostly at Double-A.

Ashley spent his age-25 year in the majors as a part-time player, with a .320 on-base percentage, .372 slugging, eight homers, 25 walks and 88 strikeouts in 244 plate appearances. The following year, Ashley had nine homers and an .813 OPS in only 113 plate appearances.

The 6-foot-7 Ashley graduated from Double-A by age 22 after (or despite) having more homers than walks for San Antonio in 1992. He went .317/.534, 24 homers, 16 walks and 111 strikeouts in 404 plate appearances. Those are some extreme numbers, but it’s safe to assume that he’d have been a whole lot better in Double-A at age 25.

Ashley finished his career with 28 homers and 236 strikeouts in the majors and 172 homers and 1,005 strikeouts in the minors. Then, later, he became one of the Househusbands of Hollywood. And now you know the rest of the story …

Feb 21

The Dodger Thoughts 2012 Spring Training Primer

Pitchers and catchers are reporting today, which means that it’s time for the Dodger Thoughts 2012 Spring Training Primer, running in full at ESPNLosAngeles.com.

The fate of the 2012 Los Angeles Dodgers might be a mystery, but the fate of their opening day roster … not so much.

In 10 years of my previewing the Dodgers heading into spring training, never has there been fewer spots up for grabs for the first game of the season. Defining a roster lock as someone who will be in a Dodgers uniform for Game 1 unless he is injured, disabled or suddenly and shockingly incompetent, 22 of the 25 spots on the roster appear set.

However, that doesn’t mean we won’t see the usual rotation of has-beens and might-bes parading through Arizona in March. So here’s where we’ll introduce them. …

Update: Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. reports on Twitter that Blake Hawksworth “had an infection from surgery that required a second procedure to clean up” and won’t be ready for Opening Day. That increases the chances of Josh Lindblom or Jamey Wright (among other right-handed relievers) making the team to start the season.

Continue reading

Feb 08

Interview: De Jon Watson looks at Dodger prospects

Though the Dodger farm system certainly has its less fallow spots, it also certainly has its fertile areas, which were enough for ESPN.com’s Keith Law to rank it 12th in the majors, higher than I’ve seen elsewhere.

For a closer look at some of the Dodger developing prospects, I interviewed Dodger assistant general manager in charge of player development De Jon Watson recently for a piece that is running in full at ESPNLosAngeles.com. Here’s how it begins …

The patchwork roster surrounding established Los Angeles Dodgers stars like Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw this year would hint at a dearth of minor league chips to play with, but De Jon Watson would encourage you to ante up.

The Dodgers’ assistant general manager in charge of player development has more than a poker hand’s worth of serious starting pitcher candidates rising through the system, and would even argue for a few wild cards among the position players.

“It’s been good stuff, man,” Watson said of the franchise’s depth at starting pitcher. “Our kids are coming. It’s great to have that type of competition. … If you have a hiccup or someone goes down for a little bit, you have a legitimate option waiting in the wings. The key is being as sharp as they can possibly be when that opportunity arises so you really don’t miss a beat.”

That doesn’t change the Dodgers’ pattern of leaning toward veterans at the start of the season. With Hiroki Kuroda leaving as a free agent and the team’s 2010 minor league pitcher of the year, Rubby De La Rosa, recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Dodgers signed Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano rather than hand a starting rotation slot to Nathan Eovaldi, who had a 3.09 ERA in six starts at age 21 late last summer.

Shortstop Dee Gordon is the only 2011 Dodgers rookie who has the inside track on a starting spot with the team this season. Gordon, who had 24 stolen bases in 56 games and a .325 on-base percentage (.398 in September), will look to capitalize on his hot finish.

“The biggest thing to look for from him is going to be his on-base percentage,” Watson said, “because his speed is going to change how they pitch to the guy that’s behind him. He’s going to apply pressure both from an offensive standpoint and a defensive standpoint for the opponent. So he has to get on base. For us, his key is understanding what type of hitter he is, understanding the strike zone.” …

In addition to Eovaldi, De La Rosa and Gordon, Watson also provides a status report on Jerry Sands, Zach Lee, Garret Gould, Allen Webster, Chris Withrow, Shawn Tolleson, Steven Ames, Scott Van Slyke, Alex Castellanos, Chris Reed and Pedro Baez.

Hope you enjoy reading the full story

Continue reading

Feb 01

More Dodger prospect rankings


We saw Dodger prospect rankings from Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus on Monday, and now here’s a list from Marc Hulet at Fangraphs today. Zach Lee, (above, via MLB.com) tops both lists. Comparing the top 15s:

Site BP Fangraphs
1 Lee Lee
2 Eovaldi Eovaldi
3 Webster Reed
4 Reed Webster
5 Gould Gould
6 Withrow Withrow
7 Silverio Silverio
8 Pederson Pederson
9 Castellanos Federowicz
10 Sanchez Lindblom
11 Tolleson Santana
12 Baldwin Tolleson
13 Federowicz Baldwin
14 Martin De Jesus
15 Lindblom Miller
Jan 16

Unsigned Dodger draftees poised to be top picks in 2012

Today, I happened across a list that Baseball America put out a few weeks ago of the top 100 college players for the 2012 draft. Four of the top 15, it turns out, were previously drafted by the Dodgers:

5) Kevin Gausman, RHP, Louisiana State — 2010 round six
6) Brian Johnson, LHP/1B, Florida — 2009 round 27
13) Richie Shaffer, 1B, Clemson — 2009 round 25
14) Stephen Piscotty, 3B, Stanford — 2009 round 45

Gausman, the highest-rated of the four, was taken five rounds after the Dodgers picked Zach Lee, whom they stole away from the same school, LSU. (Third-round draft pick Leon Landry was also an LSU player.)

From Gausman’s LSU bio:

Regarded as one of the best pitching prospects in the country … has a tall, slender build and is very athletic for his size … smooth and easy delivery with a fastball that usually sits in the low to mid 90s range; his fastball has been clocked up to 100 mph …

Freshman season (2011)
Started 14 games, posting a 5-6 mark and a 3.51 ERA in 89.2 innings with 23 walks and 86 strikeouts … 3-1 record with a 1.17 ERA in his final four starts of the year, recording five walks and 32 strikeouts in 30.2 innings …

As for the others in 2011, Johnson struck out 72 in 79 2/3 innings with a 3.62 ERA and had an .845 OPS at the plate, Shaffer had a 1.015 OPS and Piscotty had an .894 OPS.

Not aiming for anything profound with this post — I have no idea whether these guys turned down the Dodgers because of money or because they had no intention of skipping college, nor do I have any idea how they will do as pros.  All I can say is that it would be fun to have them in the Dodger farm system now.

Lee, Baseball America notes in the same issue, remains the Dodgers’ top prospect. He could get a first callup before the 2012 season ends, and with Rubby De La Rosa and Clayton Kershaw could give the Dodgers three exciting starting pitchers age 25-or-under in 2013.

Jan 11

In left field for the Dodgers, Ted Williams …

Funny one-line intro …

  • Here’s video of John Candelaria no-hitting the Dodgers in 1976. Check out how excited color commentator Bob Gibson is alongside play-by-play man Al Michaels for the final out.
  • Manny Ramirez talked at length with ESPN’s Pedro Gomez about events of the past year and his desire to play again. It’s self-serving but take it for what you will.
  • Christopher Jackson of Albuquerque Baseball Examiner looks at how different this year’s Triple-A Isotopes will be. An excerpt:

    A total of 19 additional players who spent time in Albuquerque in 2011 became free agents after the season.

    Left-handed starter Alberto Bastardo (4-3, 5.38 ERA) has signed with the Marlins organization, which puts him in contention for a rotation spot with New Orleans.

    Closer Jon Link (2-2, 4.24, 11 saves) inked a deal with the Orioles, enabling him to potentially pitch closer to his Virginia home with Norfolk, another Triple-A team run by Isotopes owner Ken Young.

    Right-handed reliever Travis Schlichting (5-3, 7.10, four saves) will join the wide-open competition for a roster spot in cash-strapped Oakland.

    Corner infielder Corey Smith (.239, 7 HR) joined the White Sox, while utility player Eugenio Velez (.339, 31 RBI) will take his 0-for-37 skid in the Majors to the Cardinals organization.

    The free agents still looking for work include pitchers Roman Colon, Roy Corcoran and Randy Keisler, plus catcher Damaso Espino, first baseman John Lindsey and outfielders Brad Coon and Jay Gibbons.

  • For Variety, I took a look at the state of NFL, MLB and NBA sports broadcasts on mobile and digital platforms.
  • World Series MVP David Freese will risk killing all his postseason good vibes with a guest appearance on maligned ABC sitcom “Work It” on January 24, if the show isn’t canceled first.
  • Vin Scully talked to Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News about his upcoming bobblehead night. “Since I won’t be here for the 100th anniversary (of Dodger Stadium), I agreed to do the 50th,” Scully said. “Otherwise, I would be open to questions as to why I didn’t do it. It’s far easier this way.”
  • Ted Williams, 1940: “If I were a free agent and each major league club offered me identical contracts, I’d sign with the Dodgers. … I know I’d be a hero in Brooklyn.” (Link via Larry Granillo and Baseball Prospectus.)
Jan 09

De La Rosa progressing nicely in recovery

While I was parked at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, many of my online colleagues were out at Dodger Stadium for media day at the Dodgers’ Winter Development Camp. Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles was one. Some excerpts:

… Instead of making a splash now, the Dodgers will likely do what they have done the last few seasons. Try to stay competitive in the first few months of the season in order to convince ownership to expand the payroll at the trading deadline.

“I think we’re in a decent spot right now to be competitive and to make more decisions in July,” (Ned) Colletti said. “There’s rarely a postseason team that doesn’t change along the road.” …

… Elsewhere, (Don) Mattingly said that RHP Rubby De La Rosa has looked good in limited action after undergoing Tommy John surgery this summer. The Dodgers hope he can return to throwing bullpen sessions sometime in March and pitching in games by the end of July.

“I feel good. It feels strong,” De La Rosa said. “It feels like six months have passed since the operation and it’s only been three.”

But wait, there’s more …

  • Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy has video of Tommy Lasorda during batting practice telling prospect Matt Wallach to “pull the goddamned ball.”
  • Baly adds a bunch of photos in this post.
  • Brandon Lennox of True Blue L.A. has a long list of notes from the camp.
  • Dylan Hernandez of the Times leads his notebook with a Dee Gordon update, while also noting that if and when De La Rosa pitches for the Dodgers this season, it will probably be in relief, before he returns to starting in 2013.
  • Ken Gurnick of MLB.com has a full recap. Here’s a portion:

    … Also rehabbing is infielder Justin Sellers, who suffered a serious groin pull while playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic. Sellers said he’s still not 100 percent, but he was turning double plays with expected starting shortstop Dee Gordon on Monday.

    Working in the infield was Alex Castellanos, a natural power-hitting outfielder acquired from the Cardinals in the Rafael Furcal trade. Castellanos is still primarily an outfielder, but the Dodgers are trying him at second base, which they had to fill with the signing of free agent Mark Ellis because they weren’t willing to turn the position over to Sellers or Ivan DeJesus Jr.

    Also at the camp is catcher Tim Federowicz, who was a September callup, but Colletti said he’s likely to open the season in the Minor Leagues as the Dodgers plan to start the season with A.J. Ellis starting and Matt Treanor backing up. Federowicz was the key player acquired in the Trayvon Robinson trade.

    Colletti said he met in the Dominican with third baseman Juan Uribe. Colletti said Uribe knows he underperformed last year and understands the expectations for this year. Utilityman Jerry Hairston might share time at the position. Hairston also could see time in the outfield, especially when the Dodgers face left-handed pitching. When that happens, James Loney might be replaced at first base by left fielder Juan Rivera and Andre Ethier might give way to Jerry Sands. Mattingly said he wouldn’t call it a platoon, but one of the winter priorities was to add right-handed bats to give him more options against left-handed pitching. …

Jan 07

Winter Development Camp opens

From the Dodgers:

The Dodgers’ fifth annual Winter Development Program, which helps prepare minor league players for the Major Leagues both on and off the field, kicks off this weekend and will include workouts, community visits, informational seminars and visits to different areas of Los Angeles. Fifteen of the Dodgers’ top minor league prospects will be in town for the week-long event and workouts will focus on fundamentals, strength training and conditioning.
 
Dodger Manager Don Mattingly will be on hand to work with the prospects along with Third Base Coach Tim Wallach, Hitting Coach Dave Hansen, minor league roving instructors and Specials Assistants, Baseball Operations & Player Development.
 
Prospects attending include the Dodgers’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year Shawn Tolleson and Minor League Player of the Year Scott Van Slyke. Other position players include Alex Castellanos, Griff Erickson, Tim Federowicz, Tyler Henson, Alfredo Silverio and Matt Wallach. Pitchers Steven Ames, Michael Antonini, Stephen Fife, Josh Wall, Allen Webster and Chris Withrow will be in attendance along with the Dodgers’ 2010 Minor League Pitcher of the Year Rubby De La Rosa.
 
Throughout the week, these Dodger prospects will familiarize themselves with the greater Los Angeles area through community service with a visit to A Place Called Home, a youth center in South Los Angeles, and social events, including attending an L.A. Clippers game. They will also meet with Dodger legends including Tommy Lasorda and Don Newcombe and learn from Dodger staffers about topics including media relations, diet and Major League travel. Prominent Los Angeles sports figures who have spoken to the program in the past include John Wooden, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Phil Jackson.
 
Since the Winter Development Program’s inception in 2008, 30 participating players have reached the Major Leagues, including 2011 participants Rubby De La Rosa, Jerry Sands, Dee Gordon, Nathan Eovaldi and Javy Guerra. Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, Ramon Troncoso, A.J. Ellis, and Scott Elbert are among other past participants.