Aug 06

Kershaw LXXIV: Kershasta McNasty

This was to have been the Clayton Kershaw-Stephen Strasburg showcase showdown. But you can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you find you get what you need. But sometimes not. Sometimes, you get what you get and you don’t get upset. Unless you do get upset. But don’t worry, be happy.

* * *

The lack of improvement on Manny Ramirez’s calf prompted another MRI exam, Joe Torre told reporters today. We’re waiting to hear the results.

This weekend, Jamey Carroll should pass Russell Martin to move into fourth place on the team in games played this season. The reserve infielder has played in all but 14 games in 2010.

The Dodgers will have at most five players who reach the 130-game mark this season. I thought it might have been a long time since that happened, but in 2008, the team had only four players reach that plateau. Last year, eight players made it.

Aug 04

Rafael Furcal’s MRI is negative (in the good way)

Rafael Furcal’s MRI exam showed nothing of note, and he’s expected back in the lineup next week, Joe Torre told reporters today. We shall see …

Fellow MRIer Russell Martin was “in the machine now” as Torre was speaking, so no update on his condition yet. Knowing that Martin would be out for at least a few days, the Dodgers recalled A.J. Ellis and optioned Xavier Paul. Torre also noted that Reed Johnson’s minor-league rehabilitation assignment is just about complete and that the Dodgers will activate the reserve outfielder in the next day or so, either placing Martin on the disabled list or making another move. (I know what you’re thinking …)

* * *

From the Dodger press notes: “Tonight, Dodger fan Jorge Bahaia will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Bahaia and his wife, Elsie have traveled from their home in El Salvador to watch one Dodger homestand every year since 1945 and have also never missed a Los Angeles Dodger World Series game at home or on the road. 50 of the Bahaia’s family members and friends will be on hand to watch Jorge toss out the first pitch. ”

* * *

The Dodgers’ starting lineup, five years ago tonight:

Cesar Izturis, SS
Oscar Robles, 3B
Milton Bradley, CF
Jeff Kent, 1B
Ricky Ledee, RF
Antonio Perez, 2B
Jose Valentin, LF
Dioner Navarro, C
Brad Penny, P

* * *

Gene Maddaus of L.A. Weekly pens a lengthy look at Frank McCourt’s pre-Dodgers real-estate dealings in Boston and how that bled into his Dodger ownership and relationship with Jamie McCourt. Plenty of interesting excerpts; here’s one:

… In April 2008, Jeff Ingram, a Boston real estate banker who had worked for the McCourts since 1999, wrote an e-mail to both McCourts titled “Getting on the Same Page.”

“The most important thing that has to be accomplished is for the two of you to get on the same page on both the family finances and aspirations and the strategic direction of the companies,” Ingram wrote, sounding more like a therapist than a banker. “If there are common goals, I believe the journey will be more fulfilling and enjoyable for you and for everybody else.”

For her own sense of comfort, Jamie wanted to have $250 million in the bank. Given that the McCourts owned mostly large, illiquid and leveraged assets, the only way to achieve Jamie’s goal, Ingram wrote, would be to sell a minority stake in the Dodgers.

That was directly counter to McCourt’s ambitions, which involved not only holding on to full ownership of the team but also building a football stadium and ultimately turning his company into a global sports enterprise.

“If you aren’t on the same page,” Ingram wrote, “I sincerely hope you can have the conversation in the spirit of ‘Look what we accomplished’ and ‘How do we want to spend our time going forward.’ Please appreciate the moment and work together to determine what is best for you and your family. … From a personal perspective, I really hope you can find a common ground.” …

Aug 02

Manny, Andruw and the Juan


US Presswire, AP PhotosMurderers r’oh!

I’m hoping I’m the first one to point this out, but in any case, if the Dodgers’ tailspin continues and they unload their current high-paid outfielder to the White Sox, as has been rumored, we’d have the potential of seeing Manny Ramirez, Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones in the same Chicago starting lineup. (I won’t dare dream they’d actually play in the outfield together).

In the meantime, if he avoids any immediate setbacks, it appears Ramirez will start his latest minor-league rehab assignment this week.

* * *

The Dodger coaching staff is great at pointing fingers, except at themselves, writes Chad Moriyama of Memories of Kevin Malone.

… The coaches will yell and scream about wanting to win, and so will Ned Colletti, but when it comes time to committing to winning, they refuse to do it. From Garret Anderson to George Sherrill to Ronnie Belliard, the Dodgers front office and coaching staff have always refused to shed dead weight because it would hurt the feelings of veteran players.

Instead of doing anything to win like they tell their players to do, the powers that be simply talk a good game and nothing more. They talk about how they want to win at all costs, about how the players should want to do the same, and they talk about a sense of urgency. However, when it comes time to actually take the very actions that will help the Dodgers win, it’s all bark and no bite. …

* * *

  • The Irony Committee approves this Ned Colletti quote on 710 AM ESPN (via True Blue L.A.) “You watch Ryan Theriot play, it’s going to remind you of Blake DeWitt and how hard he plays.”
  • From Dodger Thoughts commenter Nsxtasy1, in response to my  “A Team of Garret Andersons” post: During the same period, Garret Anderson has a .222 BA and .300 OBP. That’s right, the team is doing so poorly since the break that Garret Anderson is outhitting the rest of the team. Yes, Garret Anderson.”
  • The Dodgers are going with a less showy Matt Kemp poster at Friday’s giveaway, writes Roberto Baly at Vin Scully Is My Homeboy.
Aug 01

Kershaw LXXIII: Kershawl of Me

Andre Ethier might be back in the lineup Monday, Joe Torre told reporters today. In the meantime, in an example of anything to try to get the offense going, Rafael Furcal slides down to the No. 3 spot in the order.

Other notes:

  • Torre asked Jonathan Broxton if he was fine physically, and Broxton said he was. Torre said that bullpen coach Kenny Howell told Torre that Broxton “warmed up completely different than when he got out on the mound. He was very tentative.” The Dodgers don’t plan to bypass Broxton; newly acquired Octavio Dotel will enter the game as matchups dictate.
  • Manny Ramirez is taking batting practice and shagging flies, but running at “60-70 percent.”
  • Reed Johnson starts a minor-league rehab assignment today with Inland Empire.
  • Ted Lilly is on the active roster and is scheduled to start for the Dodgers on Tuesday. Travis Schlichting was optioned to Albuquerque. (Ryan Theriot replaced Blake DeWitt and Dotel replaced James McDonald.)
  • DeWitt had two singles and a double in four at-bats for the Cubs in his Chicago debut.
Jul 30

Offense hopes to get well soon

Eight consecutive games without scoring more than two runs in nine innings, and now Tim Lincecum. Well, the Dodgers hit him last time out … before the roof caved in.

Jul 29

Podsednik arrives, Taschner leaves, plus thoughts on Oswalt

With Matt Kemp being rested, Scott Podsednik is making his first CF start of 2010 today in his Dodger debut. He will be the 40th player to suit up for the Dodgers this season.

The Dodgers designated Jack Taschner for assignment to make room for Posednik. Taschner faced six batters as a Dodger and allowed a hit and three walks.

Joe Torre also told reporters today that Chad Billingsley, who threw under 90 pitches in his six-inning shutout effort Tuesday, will start Saturday in San Francisco on three days’ rest. At this time, John Ely will not be recalled from Albuquerque.

* * *


Roy Oswalt is headed to Philadelphia
. Considering that the Astros will pay nearly half of the $23 million owed Oswalt through the 2011 season, it’s natural to ask whether the Dodgers should have gotten him after all.

Philadelphia gave up one major-leaguer, 27-year-old J.A. Happ, who had a 2.93 ERA in 2009 but has pitched only 15 1/3 major-league innings this year, along with two minor leaguers: outfielder Anthony Gose (whose numbers aren’t impressive unless you keep in mind he’s a 19-year-old in A ball) and shortstop Jonathan Villar (same story).

I’m inclined to think that if John Ely had kept his early season performance going, or if James McDonald or Scott Elbert’s 2010s hadn’t largely washed out, the Dodgers could have done this deal. But none of those players were enticing enough, and so the only alternative major-league pitcher for the Dodgers would have been to trade Chad Billingsley (Clayton Kershaw is the staff leader for years to come, while free agents-to-be Hiroki Kuroda and Vicente Padilla would not have interested Houston). Trading Billingsley for Oswalt could improve the Dodger starting pitching, though at great cost and without helping fill out the fifth spot in the rotation.

The other way to have gone would have been to send more in the way of prospects. You don’t need me to point out the pros and cons of that.

In short, if in fact he would have approved a trade to Los Angeles, it turns out that Oswalt wasn’t out of the realm of possibility for the Dodgers, despite all their handicaps – ownership, talent base, setbacks in player development, etc. At the same time, the fact that he isn’t here underscores how relevant those handicaps are.

Jul 29

Xavier Paul: Just seven numbers


Newly acquired Scott Podsednik has a .353 on-base percentage and .400 slugging percentage.

Newly marginalized Xavier Paul has a .298 on-base percentage and .339 slugging percentage.

If Paul had reached base seven more times in his 124 plate appearances this season and had seven more total bases in his 112 at-bats, he’d have surpassed Podsednik’s batting stats, going .355/.402. Seven more singles in those 112 at-bats would have accomplished both tasks.

This is a simplistic way to look at things, but I just find it interesting that the difference between the two is so slim. But for seven singles, Podsednik would offer no advantage in the batter’s box, and despite whatever other attributes he offers, I’m guessing the Dodgers don’t trade for him.

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 27

Juan’s a Dodger, always a Dodger

The Dodgers can’t quit Juan Castro. The team once again signed him to a minor-league contract, setting him up for a critical sacrifice bunt in September. Castro had a .237 on-base percentage and .238 slugging percentage with Philadelphia this season — including one sacrifice.

* * *

That August 6 Clayton Kershaw-Steven Strasburg showdown may have fallen by the wayside with the news that Strasburg was scratched tonight from what would have been his 10th major-league start.

Kershaw told David Lassen of the Press-Enterprise that he decided to drop the appeal of his suspension because of the scheduling of the hearing Thursday.

“In the event that I did lose the appeal,” he said, “… I’d have four days rest, and then the appeal would come, and then I’d have five more games.” That would mean he wouldn’t be able to pitch again before August 4, truly missing a turn rather than just having a start pushed back a day.

* * *

Joe Torre confirmed to reporters today that Carlos Monasterios will start Friday. Torre hasn’t officially named a Saturday starter.

Torre also said that the Dodgers have underachieved, but that he isn’t worried, and that he senses Ned Colletti will make a move.

* * *

From the Dodger press notes:

Rookie-advanced Ogden clinched a playoff berth last night by winning the first-half Southern Division title and improved to 22-13 with an 11-2 win over the Missoula. Jake Lemmerman, the club’s fifth-round selection in the 2010 draft, leads the Pioneer League with a .380 batting average and the Dodgers’ third-round selection Leon Landry ranks third with a .372 average.

On Sunday, right-handed pitchers Daniel Tamares (5-2, 1.69) and Abdiel Velasquez (2.66) combined to throw a no-hitter in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League Dodgers’ 3-0 win over the Mets. Tamares, who was named to the league’s All-Star team, struck out six over his 6.0 innings and has not allowed a run over his last 20.0 innings.

Single-A Great Lakes outfielder Brian Cavazos-Galvez homered twice last night to extend his Loons franchise-record hitting streak to 24 games.

Jul 25

Kershaw LXXII: Kershawmpty Dumpty

Brad Ausmus will retire at the end of this season, the Dodger catcher told Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

… In Ausmus’ typically understated way, his so-called “announcement” was nothing more than an answer to a reporter’s question. It came immediately after he played in his first game in more than three months, catching the first 12 innings of the 13-inning marathon four days after being activated from the 60-day disabled list.

“This year is it,” Ausmus said.

Ausmus had played in just one previous game this season, on April 8 at Pittsburgh. He went onto the 15-day DL with back soreness two days later and learned shortly thereafter that he would need a surgical procedure that would sideline him for at least three months, leading to questions of why the seldom-used, 41-year-old backup to Russell Martin didn’t just retire immediately instead of going through a grueling rehabilitation process in what everyone assumed would be his final season as a player anyway.

Ausmus’ answer then was the same as it is now.

“I signed a contract,” he reiterated on Saturday. “It was my job to get back on the field and do it as quickly as possible, hopefully without having any setbacks.”

* * *

If Jonathan Broxton had blown the game against the Mets, people would have called it another huge loss on the national stage. But since he overcame early control problems to pitch two shutout innings – striking out the Mets’ best hitter, David Wright, to end the ninth before throwing a perfect 10th – the game became inconsequential (c.f. Saturday, June 26, 2010).

* * *

From the Dodger press notes: “Six Dodger starters have combined to post a 1.38 ERA (8 ER/52.0 IP) and limit opposing hitters to a .211 average (40-for-190). In that span, Dodger starters have 36 strikeouts and only 14 walks. Overall, Dodger starters lead the big leagues with an average of 7.79 strikeouts per 9.0 innings (487 SO/563.0 IP) and rank third in the National League with a .256 opponents’ batting average.”

Jul 24

Torre concedes error in 6-1 loss

Joe Torre told Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com that he made a mistake Friday having Ronnie Beliiard pinch-hit with two out in the bottom of the seventh for Vicente Padilla, who had allowed one run on 77 pitches through seven innings.

If the Dodgers had been scoring more, Torre wouldn’t have been faced with that choice. But with rare exceptions like Bizarro Tim Lincecum night, the Dodger offense hasn’t been doing much lately, and facing the Mets’ Johan Santana didn’t help.

Jeff Weaver compounded Torre’s ill-fated decision. Weaver, who had walked seven batters in his first 28 games this season (through the end of June) and never more than one in a game, walked the first two batters he faced in the eighth – giving him eight walks in 7 2/3 innings in July.

It all went downhill from there.

* * *

Andre Ethier is in a 1-for-24 slump, though he has walked seven times and homered. His batting average (.302), on-base percentage (.367) are at their lowest marks since the second game of the season.

* * *

John Ely had his Friday start for Albuquerque was postponed. Christopher Jackson of Albuquerque Baseball Examiner said Ely was struck by a batting practice ball.

* * *

Here’s a preview of my brother’s latest producing effort, “Young Justice,” which will premiere on Cartoon Network next year with 26 episodes. I have written two and will be writing two more.

Jul 23

Broxton was illin’

Jonathan Broxton was sent home before Thursday’s game after he ate something that apparently really didn’t agree with him. His availability tonight will be a game-time decision. Kenley Jansen might get the call to close if he makes his major-league debut tonight.

* * *

Josh Fisher provided his services to ESPNLosAngeles.com with some answers to frequently asked questions about the McCourt conflict.

Jul 22

Carlos Monasterios to start Saturday


Courtesy Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2010 Clayton Kershaw and Blake DeWitt hang on before Wednesday’s game.

Carlos Monasterios will start Saturday, Joe Torre told reporters today. I’m not sure what makes Monasterios, who staggered through his last few starts, a better option than James McDonald, but I’ve decided not to fret over it for now.

Torre also said that Hong-Chih Kuo has been “lobbying” to pitch on back-to-back days, which helps explain why, for better or worse, he warmed up Wednesday. That being said, Kuo might be rested tonight, but Jonathan Broxton is available.

Reed Johnson’s back has not improved enough for the Dodgers to say when he’ll be activated from the disabled list.

* * *

Dodger Stadium organist Nancy Bea Hefley will have increased playing time Friday as part of the team’s “55 since ’55″ promotion, and Dodgerfan.net will provide on-the-scene coverage. Looking forward to it!

* * *

Tonight, the Dodgers will play their 857th consecutive home game since their last rainout, on April 17, 2000, breaking their previous record of 856 set from April 26, 1988–April 10, 1999.

Also, tonight’s matchup of Hiroki Kuroda and Hisanori Takahashi is the sixth between Japanese-born starting pitchers in MLB history.

* * *

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Chris Dickerson

Thought this was an interesting piece by Dave Campbell of The Associated Press (posted on Farther Off the Wall): Reds outfielder Chris Dickerson is trying to make baseball more green through an organization he co-founded with Jack Cassel, Players for the Planet.

… There is a certain insular, indulgent culture in the sports world that can create hurdles for social causes like this to take hold. Sometimes, they’re masked as mere symbolic gestures and goodwill-generating promotions for teams. The sheer enormity of stadiums makes it difficult to keep carbon footprints small. Players can get caught up in the big-league lifestyle.

“It’s hard to get just any athlete and even then, they’re like, ‘I love what you’re doing, but I can’t really endorse it because I’m driving a big truck and I have a huge house,’” Dickerson said. “So some of the things these athletes do aren’t necessarily a green lifestyle. They like the idea, but they’re not necessarily that green. I think that’s why a lot of them are hesitant to be part of it.”

Dickerson praised the use of solar power at Fenway Park in Boston and Progressive Field in Cleveland as progressive ideas he’d like to see replicated more throughout the majors. He pointed to supportive e-mails and letters he has received as examples of momentum. He also insisted real change can be accomplished in easy steps.

“That’s the message we’re trying to get across: It doesn’t have to be a huge shift in your daily lifestyle,” Dickerson said. “It’s little things like getting a recycle bin, turning off all the lights when you leave your house, trying to cut down on your air conditioning, using compact fluorescent light bulbs.”

Dickerson even has a sign above his locker that says, “Trees are for hugging.” …

Jul 21

Dodgers option A.J. Ellis, bring up … huh?

A.J. Ellis went back to Albuquerque, as expected.

Jack Taschner came from Albuquerque. That was not expected.

The 32-year-old lefty had a 6.05 ERA for Pittsburgh this year, then was cast off.  He landed with the Isotopes, for whom he has allowed four homers and seven hits in 10 innings, striking out four.

To be fair, he has allowed one run in his past seven innings. Still, it appears the Dodgers are just messing with us now.

Update: Joe Torre told reporters that James McDonald is in the bullpen and that Saturday’s starter is to be determined – most likely John Ely or Carlos Monasterios. One and done for Jimmy.

Torre also said the following about Tuesday’s denouement: “It’s on us to protest, and the people who were supposed to protest weren’t in the dugout. It was a screw-up all the way around.”