Dec 23

The 33 theses revisited

A year ago, I posted these 33 theses on the doors of Dodger Thoughts.  Let’s see how they have held up …

Thesis Result Comment
1) Frank McCourt will prevail in the courts against Jamie McCourt and retain ownership of the Dodgers. No Failed to anticipate the Great Adverb Dispute.
2) Rather then sell the team, McCourt will take on a minority partner to improve his cash flow. TBD It might not be quite that simple.
3) The incentive for the minority partner will be the Dodgers’ ability to make a profit, with potential for greater revenue from development of the Dodger Stadium property. TBD This plus the TV contract.
4) The project to turn the area behind center field into a gathering place of restaurants, shops and a Dodger museum will begin by 2015. TBD I sure was looking ahead, wasn’t I?
5) The Dodgers will earn enough money over the coming decade to remain competitive, though they will never spend like the Yankees or Red Sox. TBD Fans are probably pessimistic about this one, but we’ll see.
6) The Dodgers will sign a veteran with an unexciting name to take the No. 4 spot in the 2010 starting rotation, completing their offseason in much the same manner they would have even if the McCourts weren’t divorcing. Yes Hello, Vicente Padilla.
7) Observers will decry the state of Dodger starting pitching entering the season, even though it will probably match up well with every team in the National League West except San Francisco. (Arizona’s No. 4 starter: Ian Kennedy?) No San Diego ruined this prediction for me.
8) The focus will be on what the Dodgers didn’t do, ignoring how thin the pitching market was and how little their division rivals have improved themselves. Yes This was a safe one.
9) Spring training will come as a relief, as the conversation returns to baseball and, despite all that has happened, the sight of Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw roaming the field becomes too intoxicating to resist. Yes Spring Training was relatively enjoyable this year.
10) Exhibition performances will excessively color people’s views of the coming season, even though Val Pascucci’s .429 batting average in March 2009 failed to carry over into the regular season. Yes This at least applied to the Dodgers themselves, vis a vis Les Ortizables.
11) Sportswriters will blast the Dodgers for not acquiring a big name, then criticize every move Manny Ramirez makes while knocking the Dodgers for all the money spilling out to Andruw Jones, Juan Pierre and Jason Schmidt. Kind of Not all sportswriters, but certainly some I can think of.
12) People will be intrigued with how Russell Martin explains that this will be the season everything will be OK for him. No “Intrigued” seems strong in retrospect, plus Martin got hurt in March.
13) Chad Billingsley will gamely turn the other cheek as reporters and fans insultingly question his manhood. Then he’ll go out and throw bullets. Yes He wasn’t red-hot to start the season, but ultimately this came true.
14) The Dodgers will not get off to as hot a start in 2010 as they did in 2009, when they were 10-3 and 21-8. Yes To say the least …
15) The Dodger community will be on edge, as it becomes clear to all that 2010, like most years, will be a season-long challenge. Yes To say the least …
16) Jokes about portable concession stands will grow old fast, yet continue to be told. No This died down more quickly than I expected.
17) Lines at Dodger Stadium food stands will remain long anyway. Yes No change here.
18) Nevertheless, the Dodgers will remain in the thick of the National League West race into May, when the McCourt case launches in the courts. Yes/no Dodgers had the best record in the NL at one point, but the trial was delayed.
19) The free-for-all between the McCourts’ lawyers will be annoying beyond belief. Yes All those fun revelations and accusations …
20) Kershaw, Kemp or Andre Ethier will suffer a setback, while Martin, James Loney or Rafael Furcal will experience a rebirth. Yes Setback for Kemp, rebirth for Furcal (until he got hurt, but I’m counting it).
21) Ramirez will have his ups and downs but will regain some of the fans he lost in the final months of 2009. No I could probably prove this true on a technicality, but I won’t try to push this one through.
22) There won’t be as much Dodger walk-off magic in 2010 as there was in 2009. Yes There was some moments early on, but they didn’t carry on.
23) Forced to rely on the farm system for pitching depth, the Dodgers will benefit from some precocious performances. Yes John Ely, Carlos Monasterios and Kenley Jansen, among others, did some good for the team.
24) “Don’t Stop Believin’” will be gone, but “God Bless America” will return. No/yes Oh well.
25) With the dust from the courtroom settled, the Dodgers will make a trading deadline deal. No/yes Deals came while dust was still swirling.
26) The biggest moment of the year will be when Vin Scully announces his plans for 2011. Yes You can argue with me, but I’m counting this one.
27) With almost nowhere to go but down after two National League Championship Series appearances, 2010 will almost surely end as a disappointment for the Dodgers. Yes This had a chance to be wrong in summertime, but in the end it was right.
28) The Phillies will not win the NL title, because it looks too much like they should. Yes That’s the way it goes …
29) The Dodgers will have more reason to be nervous after the 2010 season, when the team has to replace Ramirez and Hiroki Kuroda while giving even bigger pay raises to the homegrown talent — even those who had subpar years. Yes Even though Kuroda and others are back, if we’re talking about how most people felt at the end of the 2010 season, there was more nervousness and pessimism than 2009.
30) Minor league pitchers Aaron Miller, Chris Withrow and John Ely will come to the rescue, sooner or later, either by becoming major-league ready or major-league trading chips. No Given the way Ely ended the season, it’s hard to tally this one in the Yes column.
31) The Dodgers will have enough talent to stay competitive, but not enough to make them prohibitive favorites. Yes I’ll probably get some heckles on this one, but if the 2010 Giants could win, I’m not ruling out the 2011 Dodgers.
32) The Dodgers will continue to be good enough to keep all but the most reactionary fans hooked, yet weak enough to keep all but the most tolerant fans unsatisfied. Yes Accurate, no?
33) Fans will start to pay attention to the ticking clock that is the end of the 2012 season, when Martin, Loney, Kemp, Ethier and Billingsley are scheduled to become eligible for free agency. No I’m not sure enough people are worried about this.
Total 19-7-7 What does this mean? I have no idea.
Dec 10

The return of Jody Reed


Getty ImagesJody Reed finished his 11-season major-league career with Detroit in 1997.

Jody Reed, famous in Dodger history for his domino role in the Pedro Martinez “Buttercup” trade of 1993, is returning to the organization as manager of the franchise’s Arizona League rookie team and Camelback Ranch – Glendale Coordinator of Instruction.

Reed served as the Yankees’ minor league defensive coordinator for the past two seasons.  No doubt, come Spring Training, he’ll field a question or two revisiting what happened in his contract negotiations following the 1993 season.

Former Dodger (and everywhere) reliever Matt Herges will be Reed’s pitching coach.

Lorenzo Bundy, meanwhile, will replace Tim Wallach and manage at Albuquerque. Bundy managed the Dodgers’ Triple-A team in Las Vegas from 2007-08.

Here’s the full list of assignments:

Field Coordinator: Bruce Hines
Senior Advisor, Player Development: P.J. Carey, Gene Clines, Charlie Hough
Hitting Coordinator: Eric Owens
Pitching Coordinator: Rafael Chaves
Outfield/Baserunning Coordinator: Rodney McCray
Infield Coordinator: Matt Martin
Catching Coordinator: Travis Barbary
Campo Las Palmas Coordinator: Henry Cruz
Field Coordinator, Campo Las Palmas: Antonio Bautista

Triple-A Albuquerque:
Manager: Lorenzo Bundy
Hitting Coach: John Valentin
Pitching Coach: Glenn Dishman

Double-A Chattanooga:
Manager: Carlos Subero
Hitting Coach: Franklin Stubbs
Pitching Coach: Chuck Crim

Single-A Rancho Cucamonga:
Manager: Juan Bustabad
Hitting Coach: Michael Boughton
Pitching Coach: Hector Berrios

Single-A Great Lakes:
Manager: John Shoemaker
Hitting Coach: Lenny Harris
Pitching Coach: Kremlin Martinez

Rookie-advanced Ogden:
Manager: Damon Berryhill
Hitting Coach: Johnny Washington
Pitching Coach: Bill Simas

Rookie-level Arizona League Dodgers:
Manager/Camelback Ranch – Glendale Coordinator of Instruction: Jody Reed
Hitting Coach: Leo Garcia
Pitching Coach: Matt Herges

Rookie-level Dominican Summer League Dodgers:
Manager: Pedro Mega
Hitting Coach: Esteban Lopez
Pitching Coach: Alejandro Pena
Roving Guest Instructor: Ramon Martinez
Catching Coach: Jose D. Hernandez
Assistant Coach: Rafael Ozuna

Camelback Ranch – Glendale:
Camelback Ranch Pitching Coach: Jim Slaton
Coach/Exchange Program Instructor: Daisuke Yamashita

Oct 30

Red-hot in Puerto Rico, Dee Gordon aims to improve on-base and defensive skills


Ben PlattDee Gordon with fellow Dodger minor leaguer Pedro Baez at this summer’s Futures Game.

Dee Gordon might make it to Los Angeles someday, but we’re going to have to get him out of Puerto Rico first.

Gordon was late for my phone interview with him Friday night – and greatly apologetic – but he had good reason. The Dodger minor-league shortstop, and by some accounts the top prospect in the organization, was busy going 4 for 5 in Gigantes de Carolina’s 11-10 marathon victory over Leones de Ponce in the Liga de Beisbol Profesional de Puerto Rico – a night that raised his Winter League batting average to .654, thanks to a sizzling 17-for-26 performance.

Gordon, 22, has eight hits in his past nine at-bats, 11 in his past 13 and six consecutive multihit games overall, so it’s safe to say he’s finding life in the territory to be pleasant. It’s the first time in his life that he’s been out of the continental U.S.

“I love it. I’m with some great teammates that are taking very good care of me,” Gordon said, citing Antoino Alfonseca and Valerio de los Santos (both 38) in particular. “They’re making my time here great. … They making everything easy, showing me the right thing to do, looking after me. It hasn’t been really difficult at all, because these two guys have helped so much.”

Gordon, of course, isn’t there for the sightseeing. Rated the No. 1 prospect in the Dodgers’ farm system by such sources as Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus last winter, and said to have Gold Glove potential by Keith Law of ESPN.com, Gordon was given a full season in Double-A with Chattanooga in 2010. In some ways it was a success – batting .277 in a Southern League known for its pitching, while leading the league in at-bats and steals, but he still showed the rough edges to his still-developing game. For comparison, he had almost as many errors (37) as walks (40).

Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles DodgersGordon has stolen 144 bases in 194 attempts in the minors (74.2 percent).

Not surprisingly, Gordon said that his on-base percentage – “trying to walk a bit more” – and his defense were among the principal areas he is focusing on improving in Puerto Rico, along with his “mental maturity.” Dodgers minor league hitting instructor Gene Clines has been working with Gordon on working the count, and though Gordon has walked only once in Puerto Rico, he said the lessons are taking hold.

“I’m definitely seeing way more pitches than I ever seen in my life,” said Gordon, whom the Dodgers took in the fourth round of the 2008 draft. “I’ve been working on that since the last bit of the AA year. That’s something I’ve been working really hard. … As a leadoff guy, you’ve got to (be able to) hit with two strikes, just not panic.

“I would hack at the first thing I saw and get myself out. I’m actually giving myself a better chance to hit. I may not be walking as much, but I’m actually seeing pitches that I can hit and drive.”

On defense, Gordon partly blamed a lack of concentration for his high error totals.

“Sometimes I feel if I get lackadaisical, sometimes that does (affect the defense),” Gordon said, “but I’m getting better in that. Not taking any pitches off, just locked in and ready to play.

“You should be focused every play of every game. … If your mind ain’t right, you won’t be able to catch the ball anyway.”

Though Gordon said he sometimes got down on himself in 2010 because he has high expectations, he subscribes to the belief that you need those struggles to learn the game.

“I still may swing at a bad pitch, still might make a bad decision on defense,” he said. “That all comes with learning. If you don’t mess up, you don’t learn.”

Gordon, who many are hoping also adds some mass to a slight frame (officially listed at 5-foot-11, 150 pounds), should likely begin 2011 with Triple-A Albuquerque, which happens to have a vacancy for a starting shortstop. There, he will probably play alongside second baseman Ivan De Jesus, first baseman/outfielder Jerry Sands and Gordon’s close friend, outfielder Trayvon Robinson. That would put Gordon within striking distance of the majors – and with injury-prone Dodger shortstop Rafael Furcal’s contract expiring at the end of 2011, the timing couldn’t be better – but Gordon said he can’t taste the show yet.

“There’s a lot of work (to do),” he said. “I can’t taste anything – I’m not there. There’s nothing I can taste. I haven’t played a day or an out or an inning in the majors. I’m a minor-league player, working to become a major-leaguer. That’s all I can do, and that’s all I can be.”

* * *

Gordon has a Twitter account where he aims to interact with fans when he can: @deegordon.

* * *

Giants at Rangers, 3:57 p.m.

Oct 29

Dare we think positively about Dodger minor leaguers?

Folks are starting to wonder – perhaps for lack of a better solution elsewhere – whether the Dodgers might be able to help themselves from within next season.

In addition to Jerry Sands, there are signs of life from second baseman Ivan De Jesus, writes Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness. De Jesus, trying to recover from a somewhat disappointing 2010 (that followed his broken leg from 2009), is at least putting his best foot forward in the Arizona Fall League. Another infielder, Dee Gordon, is on a similar path – tearing it up in winter ball in Puerto Rico to the tune of 13 for 21.

Then there’s outfielder Trayvon Robinson, who is turning heads in the AFL – most notably the head of Dodger manager Don Mattingly, writes Jason Grey of ESPN.com. Robinson is actually coming off a fairly productive season – .404 on-base percentage (73 walks) – in the Double-A Southern League, where pitching is known to dominate. Mattingly has been impressed by Robinson’s development, though not surprisingly, the manager is hesitant about the idea of jumping the player straight to the majors from AA.

I don’t know that the Dodgers would or even should assume any of these four could start for the team next season, so I’d expect the front office to operate during the offseason as if they won’t. But if even one of these guys can step up by midseason, it would provide a big boost.

Oct 27

Jerry Sands works on his game

Bryan Smith of Fangraphs is at the Arizona Fall League, and shared these impressions of Dodger minor league player of the year Jerry Sands:

… I try not to be results-based in my batting practice “scouting” analysis, but it’s a lot more art than science, and I’m no expert.

Which brings me to an interesting scouting conundrum that popped up today, seeing the Phoenix Desert Dogs take batting practice for the second consecutive day. If you used just those two days, and those 40 swings, to make completely definitive judgments about players, there’s no question you would arrive at the fact that Austin Romine has more power (be it raw or present power) than Jerry Sands. The person who saw just 40 swings would, trust me, be shocked to learn that Romine hit just ten home runs this year where Sands hit 35.

You would be shocked because they have taken totally different approaches to the batting cage over the two days. For Sands, the focus has been hitting the ball the other way. At first, I thought maybe Sands was primarily an opposite field hitter, but given the sheer number of balls he’s hit towards right field in two days, I’m convinced it’s the orders he was given by the Dodgers. This is a guy not out there to show that he can hit the ball 400 feet, but working on improving his game by spraying balls around the park.


If you read the whole post, you’ll see Smith was less impressed with Dodger minor-leaguer Matt Wallach.

In game action, Sands has a .484 on-base percentage and .417 slugging percentage (no homers) over 31 plate appearances, with only four strikeouts. From what I can tell, reports of Sands getting a lot of time at third base have been overblown.

Ivan De Jesus, Jr. has a 1.076 OPS, while Trayvon Robinson is at .971. On the mound, Javy Guerra and Scott Elbert have each allowed a run in four innings. Elbert, whom it appears might be converted to relief for good, has had better control his past two outings.

* * *

On the anniversary of a divorce, Josh Fisher writes: “Jamie McCourt filed for divorce a year ago today, and we cannot say it’s been a banner year for the organization in any way. Not on the field. Not in the newspapers. Not on the farm. The Dodgers will be back, of course. You just can’t keep a club with its built-in advantages down forever. But we will spend the next months (but hopefully not years) determining whether the club moves forward under McCourt direction or otherwise. Still, if nothing else, the McCourt divorce stands out as another unfortunate example of what happens when everything that can go wrong…well…does.”

Oct 12

Arizona Fall League: Opening Day

The Arizona Fall League throws out its first pitch of 2010 today, and Dodger fans might pay it a little more mind than usual. Not only is this Don Mattingly’s first official gig at the helm of a baseball team, the Phoenix Desert Dogs, but there are a couple of key players to watch:

1) The Dodgers’ minor-league hitter of the year, Jerry Sands, will be tested out at third base.

2) The Dodgers’ minor-league mystery of the year, Scott Elbert, will be tested out on the mound.

Other organization members on the Desert Dogs of Phoenix (or is it the Dogs of Phoenix Desert) are Javy Guerra, Jon Link, Justin Miller the Younger, Matt Wallach, Ivan DeJesus, Jr. and Trayvon Robinson. A few of these guys will be competing for major-league jobs in 2011.

Phoenix has its first game against Mesa at 12:35 p.m.

* * *

  • Logan White will interview for the Mets’ vacant general manager slot, according to Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Jackson adds the following about surprising rumors in recent days that the Dodgers were pushing White out the door.

    … As recently as 10 days ago, rumors surfaced that White, whose current contract is set to expire at the end of this month, was on the verge of being fired by the Dodgers. White told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Oct. 1 that he was aware of those rumors but hadn’t been told anything official and that he planned to continue working as usual until he was told not to.

    “I’m still working,” White said at the time. “I haven’t been told anything [different]. There is a lot of innuendo and rumor out there, and I hate to even address some of those because they are so ridiculous.”

    Those rumors appear to have been the result of confusing White with another Southern California amateur-scouting chief. The Los Angeles Angels had fired their scouting director, Eddie Bane, along with three of his scouts, on Sept. 29. Multiple sources said Monday the Dodgers have every intention of re-signing White and keeping him around in his present role if he isn’t hired as a GM by another club. …

  • Vin Scully Is My Homeboy passes along these interviews by reporter Maria Serrao with Scully himself.
  • Friend of the Dodger Thoughts family Daniel Paul has passed along this link to some Dodger caps his son Harry designed. Click the link and rate the cap.
Oct 01

Dodgers Minor League Pitcher of the Year: Yo, Rubby Rubby

Jerry Sands got a decent amount of coverage while hitting 35 homers in the minor leagues this year, so his being named Dodgers Minor League Player of the Year comes as little surprise. But the Dodgers Minor League Pitcher of the Year flew a little further under the radar: Rubby De La Rosa.

De La Rosa

A 21-year-old righty from the Dominican Republic, De La Rosa started the season at Single-A Great Lakes and had a 3.19 ERA with 55 strikeouts against 66 hits and walks in 59 1/3 innings (relieving in the first half of the season before being shifted into the rotation for five starts). Following a promotion to Double-A Chattanooga, De La Rosa started eight games, averaging 6.5 innings per start, and had 39 strikeouts in 51 innings against 59 hits and walks. In August, he made six starts that each lasted exactly seven innings, in which he allowed a grand total of seven earned runs.

Meanwhile, more established prospects like Chris Withrow and Ethan Martin had their struggles, while another contender, Elisaul Pimentel, was traded. Allen Webster, a 20-year-old who spent the year with Great Lakes, finished with a 2.88 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 131 1/3 innings, but in the end, De La Rosa rubbed the Dodgers the right way.

Sep 13

Trivial pursuit: Driving 65 in Albuquerque

In Cogs and Dogs today, I mentioned the 42 pitchers that Albuquerque used this year. In all, the Isotopes ran through no fewer than 65 players in 143 games. Nine countries and 21 U.S. states were represented on the team, most commonly the Dominican Republic.

Jamie Hoffmann led Albuquerque in plate appearances with 608; Tim Corcoran in innings with 107.

Click the link in the first paragraph to see the whole list. It’s a trivia bonanza.

Jul 28

More crazy times in Albuquerque


Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesFarewell, Billy Loes. The unforgettable man in Dodger lore pitched had a 3.59 ERA in 1955.

From today’s Albuquerque Isotopes press notes:

Yesterday’s late scratch of Claudio Vargas due to lower back soreness created an instant ripple effect throughout the Isotopes rotation. Today’s originally scheduled starter Jesus Castillo was forced to pitch yesterday, creating a void that was to be filled by Bobby Blevins. The righthander’s flight through Atlanta from Double-A Chattanooga was canceled, however, putting Blevins’s arrival before gametime in doubt. Enter lefty Cody White, who was summoned from Phoenix where he had been pitching for the Arizona League Dodgers. In his previous stint at Triple-A, White went 3-0 with a 7.59 ERA (18 ER / 21.1 IP) in six appearances, two starts. While reliever Jon Link will get the start (today), White is likely to see action quickly as the reliever’s longest outing this year is two innings.

Ramon Troncoso, by the way, gave up a grand slam in his one inning of work Tuesday for the Isotopes.

* * *

Hiroki Kuroda is the subject of a nice profile by Andy Kamenetzky of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Jul 02

Chin-Lung Hu out for at least six weeks after thumb surgery


Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireChin-Lung Hu (shown here in 2008) slugged .507 in June.

Chin-Lung Hu is trying a bit too hard to be like Chase Utley.

Hu had surgery on an injured thumb and is expected to be out six to eight weeks, reports Christopher Jackson of Albuquerque Baseball Examiner.

James McDonald would have gone past four innings Thursday, but he was hit on the left knee by a comebacker and was taken out of the game for precautionary reasons.

Cory Wade, outrighted to Albuquerque on Thursday, pitched a scoreless fifth to get the win. Josh Lindblom and Travis Schlichting each allowed runs in their relief outings.

Tim Wallach talked to Jackson about the 53 transactions the Isotopes made in June, believed to be a team record:  “It’s kind of what Triple-A is,” he said. “If we’re not moving guys up then we’re not doing our job, so that’s a good thing. Certainly guys are trying to get to know each other, I’m trying to get to know them, but it’s part of the deal. It’s good experience for not only the players but for us as a staff, too. You’ve got different personalities coming in and out all the time no matter where you’re at. I don’t look at it as tough.”

* * *

Dodger farm teams Chattanooga and Ogden each played 15-inning games Thursday.

The highlight for the Lookouts was Kenley Jansen striking out six batters in two innings. Chattanooga starting pitcher Aaron Miller allowed one run in five innings and had five of the Lookouts’ 17 strikeouts. Chattanooga scored three in the 15th to win, 4-1. Dee Gordon was 0 for 6 with a walk, Jerry Sands was 0 for 6 with three strikeouts and Andrew Lambo was 0 for 7.

Ogden also won, 5-4, on an RBI single by Chris Henderson (3 for 7), driving in Jesse Bosnik (2 for 4 with three walks).

* * *

Great Lakes righty Elisaul Pimentel, who turns 22 a week from Saturday, allowed more earned runs Thursday (five in six innings) than he had in his previous eight starts combined, in which his ERA was 1.00. But the Loons won, 7-6.

Phil Gurnee of True Blue L.A. posted a lengthy interview with Great Lakes beat writer Hugh Bernreuter of the Saginaw News. And don’t miss the latest Dodger prospect rankings from Chad Moriyama of Memories of Kevin Malone. Chris Withrow remains No. 1, but Jansen and Sands made huge leaps into the top five.

* * *

Dylan Hernandez of the Times has more details on the incident that apparently got Matt Kemp benched: a spat with coach Bob Schaefer. Kemp has reportedly not been backing up second base on basestealer throws by Russell Martin. Hernandez says Kemp has denied having “a confrontation” with the Dodger coaching staff, but I think that must be a semantics issue or just a cover.

Hernandez also today had a very nice feature on Hiroki Kuroda, who seems more haunted when he’s not pitching by the line drive that hit him in the head last year.

* * *

Arizona Republic writer Nick Piecoro on the Diamondbacks’ new manager: “I’m curious to see how interim manager Kirk Gibson settles into this role. I find the public perception of him to be wildly different from the way he actually is. It seems like everyone expects some kind of drill sergeant to come in and whip everyone into shape, a guy who’ll have smoke shooting from his ears on every bad call. Who knows, maybe that’s what he’ll be like, but that’s not what he’s been like in his time as the bench coach. He’s more of a goofy guy, someone the players monkey around with in the clubhouse, a guy who’s always keeping them loose. Maybe being the guy in charge will bring that drill sergeant out of him. We shall see.”

Jun 25

Minor leaguer Redman suspended for 50 games

Prentice Redman, a 31-year-old career minor leaguer who has a .401 on-base percentage and .551 slugging percentage for Albuquerque this season, will sit out the next 50 games after testing positive for amphetamine usage.

Redman’s only major-league appearances came in 2003 with the Mets. The Dodgers announced that Matt Kemp will be sent to Albuquerque to replace Redman. Just kidding.

Xavier Paul (.392/.594), Jamie Hoffmann (.358/.441) and Michael Restovich (.367/.556) are the other primary outfielders on the Isotopes, with Timo Perez and Jay Gibbons also seeing time on the grass.

The news of Redman’s suspension comes on the day that Dodger prospect Andrew Lambo returns to the field for AA Chattanooga after serving his own 50-gamer.

Lambo is joined by the recently promoted Jerry Sands and Aaron Miller.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Twins called up Jason Repko. Repko has a .780 OPS in AAA this season, batting mostly against righties. His numbers are better against righties for a change, but BABIP (batting average on balls in play) explains that.

Jun 23

Ten questions with Albuquerque play-by-play announcer Robert Portnoy


Richard Drew/AP
Tim Wallach, shown here as a Dodger coach, has handled all kinds of challenges as Albuquerque’s manager.

With the Albuquerque-Los Angeles shuttle in overdrive, I thought this might be a good time to check in with Robert Portnoy, friend of Dodger Thoughts and the play-by-play broadcaster for the Isotopes. And with that largely ado-free introduction, here’s the interview:

1) First, can you update us on when we might see James McDonald and Scott Elbert back in action? What can you tell us about Elbert’s situation?
I don’t have anything to tell about Elbert’s situation. He is not with the team and we haven’t received word when he might return. McDonald’s recovery from his hamstring strain is coming along well in Arizona. He has thrown a simulated game and is scheduled to make his first start in an Arizona League game. [Note: McDonald pitched two hitless innings Tuesday, after this interview was completed.] His return date is not set, but it’s not too far off.

2) How is McDonald handling things in a year he probably thought he’d be in the majors? Especially when things just seemed to be coming together for him before he got hurt.
He was very disappointed when the injury occurred, that was evident. There’s no doubt he was pitching better than he had all season at the time he went down. He was handling being in Triple-A quite well. He realized he had things to work on, and he made great strides. At the start of the year, A.J. Ellis told me J-Mac’s changeup has always been his best secondary pitch, the one that’s always there for him, his most reliable. J-Mac said his changeup was terrible at the start of the year. He was throwing it much better before the injury. His rehab has been exclusively in Arizona, so I can’t comment on how he’s handled that process.

3) The roster comings and goings have been endless. How crazy has it been, particularly in the Isotopes starting rotation? How does Tim Wallach handle it?
Wallach is as even-tempered as they come, unflappable. The kind of manager who watches a terrible base running mistake, pulls the player aside for a brief moment, asks if that player’s aware what he should have done, then tells him to put it behind him so he can help win a ballgame. He realizes that the primary goal is get players ready to help the Dodgers, and if that leaves his rotation depleted, he’ll adjust. The injuries to key guys don’t help, obviously. Yesterday, big league veteran Tim Corcoran, a reliable starter since joining the rotation, had to leave his start early. We hope he won’t miss a turn.

4) What do you think of Wallach as a managerial prospect?
Fantastic. He’s a players manager who keeps proper distance and maintains full authority. One step ahead, it seems, all the time. When he pitches out, they’re running. His instincts are great. Always gets the matchups he wants. One game I distinctly recall talking about multiple scenarios on the air, then asking him about them after the game. He discussed those and gave three or four others he had considered. He can play the chess game with the best of them.

5) Is it a relief to see Josh Lindblom moved to relief?
Josh has a tremendous head on his shoulders, and he’s a real student of the game. Talks about Clemens, Halladay, Carpenter as starters he tries to emulate, even gave me a Goose Gossage reference when talking about his favorite closers (mentioned Goose getting six outs or more for many of his saves). I had a great conversation with him on our recent road trip in Iowa. Here’s the thinking: He has been a reliever, has never even thrown 100 innings in a season. His arm isn’t accustomed to logging that much work yet. So, the past two seasons he’s gotten run down, lost his arm strength. I think he has the stuff, the fastball command, and the makeup to be a big league starter, a real innings-eater, IF his body can adapt. If not, he’ll make an above-average middle innings or setup guy who can get you up to three innings because he has four quality pitches. He’s a big leaguer for sure.

6) Are you able to see what weaknesses John Lindsey has to keep him from the majors? (And when will he return to the field?)
John might rejoin the team when we get back to Albuquerque this weekend, but he could still have a bit more rehab to do before getting back on the field. He has been recovering from his calf strain in Arizona. John’s a professional hitter, he could help the Dodgers with his bat right now. He’s not James Loney at first base, but he can hold his own. Defense might be the only thing that’s holding him back.

7) Jay Gibbons is a potential lefty bat off the Dodger bench with major-league experience. What do you see as his strengths and weaknesses at this point in his career?
Gibbons’ only weakness, if you can call it that, is how hard he plays. At 33, he still leaves it all out there every day. But as a lefty bat off the bench, there’s no wear and tear. He would be ideal, because he could stay in the game and play either corner OF position or 1B adequately, and he’d be great for multiple ABs because he’s actually BETTER against lefties than righties, the numbers don’t lie. His bat is level through the hitting zone longer than anybody I’ve ever seen, period. And he threw two guys out on the bases from RF in one inning in Iowa last weekend.

8) Does Xavier Paul have anything left to prove in the minors? What is he working on?
No. He’s an everyday big leaguer waiting for his chance. He’s working on his defense constantly, looking to continue to improve in that area any way he can. His arm is unquestioned. Just in the last week, naive hitters have tried to stretch singles into doubles when he’s playing left and paid the price twice. Strong and accurate thrower. RF arm in LF when he plays there. When he keeps his focus in the field, he’s an above-average defensive OF. He has shown how he can hit when he’s been with the Dodgers this year. He is tearing up PCL pitching, and now he’s hitting for power, which adds the final piece.

9) How is Ivan DeJesus’ comeback going?
Talked with Ivan in Iowa as well. He’s still working to get strength back in the surgically repaired left leg. It’s a process. He told me that his rehab was rushed a bit last year, when he first tried to run his leg wasn’t ready. They had to shut him down and reset the timetable. He hasn’t had any problems, though. Going very smoothly. He looks great, and his swing is terrific, uses right-center a lot, and can drive the ball that way. Best of all, he’s already had multiple plays this year at home plate, where he’s beaten throws with a variety of slides, and he says he doesn’t think about the collision that caused the injury anymore.

10) Anyone under the radar on the Isotopes roster that you like?
There are several, but if I had to pick one, I’ll go with Russ Mitchell. Has been solid at the plate all year, consistent approach, hits for average and power. Really impressive at 3B, good first step and strong arm, equally good going left, right, and coming in. And he can play 1B and 2B capably as well. He’s even played OF in his career, though we haven’t seen him there yet. But he’s not a utility guy, I like him at 3B every day. He’s the one keeping everybody loose, always talking, laughing. Clearly loves coming to the ballpark, loves what he’s doing.

* * *

  • Claudio Vargas pitched 3 2/3 innings for Albuquerque on Tuesday, allowing two unearned runs on five baserunners with five strikeouts and throwing 77 pitches.
  • A step forward for Brent Leach? Converted into starting, Leach threw five shutout innings for Chattanooga, allowing four baserunners and striking out six.
  • Dodger farmhand Nathan Eovaldi allowed two runs in an inning of relief in the California League’s 15th annual All-Star game against the Carolina League on Tuesday in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
  • Dee Gordon and Pedro Baez will play in Sunday’s Futures minor-league All-Star game at Anaheim Stadium. Baez was given a spot even though he’s been on the disabled list in recent weeks.
  • A film about a Warren Cromartie-managed Japanese team on a 90-game road trip in California’s independent Golden League, “Season of the Samurai,” will premiere on the MLB Network at 4 p.m. Friday, reports Ben Bolch of the Times.
  • Jerry Manuel pulled a Joe Torre/Hiroki Kuroda with Jon Niese on Tuesday, and is getting grief for it.

* * *

For Dodger fans feeling down about the team’s losing streak, this should cheer you up.

Jun 21

Albuquerque hits two grand slams in 16-12 comeback win

Lucas May had a grand slam in the third inning, and then Michael Restovich hit another as a pinch-hitter in a six-run eighth to help the Dodgers’ AAA farm team in Albuquerque rally from a 12-9 deficit to a 16-12 victory.

Xavier Paul and J.D. Closser also homered, while Prentice Redman and Jay Gibbons each reached base four times. Jon Link pitched two shutout innings for the save.

May 24

Chin-Lung Hu has broken nose

Albuquerque infielder Chin-Lung Hu went on the AAA disabled list over the weekend with a broken nose, according to the Isotopes. (I was tipped to this by New Mexico Fan via Sons of Steve Garvey.)

No immediate word on how long Hu, who was OPSing .815 in May, will be out. This could conceivably affect the Dodgers’ roster decisions with regard to Nick Green, though I don’t expect it will.

Other notes from Albuquerque:

  • Tonight’s Reno-Albuquerque matchup pits former Dodger teammates Brett Butler and Tim Wallach against each other as opposing managers.
  • Jamie Hoffmann needed a 10th inning Sunday to extend his hitting streak to 17 games. He’s batting .417 during the streak.
  • John Lindsey went 4 for 5 to raise his batting average to .434.