Sep 09

Series of Great Import Part III Game Chat

Dodgers at Giants, 5:05 p.m.

Mark Ellis, 2B
Shane Victorino, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Luis Cruz, 3B
Andre Ethier, RF
Juan Rivera, LF
A.J. Ellis, C
Joe Blanton, P

This pinch-hit Dodger Thoughts post is dedicated to Ron Coomer.

I had come up with my own clever Clayton Kershaw pun for today’s game. But do I get to use it? No. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. If all goes well, I can use it on Tuesday when Kershaw should make his next start. Oh, and Matt Kemp should start that day too.

And so we come to: END GAME. Oh wait, there are games after this. Regardless, this should be the Dodgers last game in San Francisco unless they meet in a divisional tiebreaker (although it would be more likely that if the teams tied, the Dodgers would host that tiebreaker because they would have to win the season series). Or they could meet in the wild card game if Arizona goes on a 2007 Rockies-like streak. Or they could meet in the Divisional Series. Or in the NLCS.

Down on the farm, Albuquerque is playing Omaha in a decisive fifth game in their PCL semifinal playoff series. In Game 4, the Isotopes scored nine times in the ninth to turn a 10-3 deficit into a 12-10 win, channeling their inner Petaluma Little League. However, Game 5 is shaping up to be worse for the Isotopes. And at the rate that Dodgers players are dropping by the side of the road, the Dodgers could use a few bodies from the Duke City to help out with the big club.

Update: No late-inning magic for the Isotopes. Their seasoned ended with a 16-7 loss to Omaha.

 

Sep 08

Series of Great Import Part II Game Chat

Dodgers at Giants, 1:05 pm
Mark Ellis, 2B
Shane Victorino, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Andre Ethier, RF
Luis Cruz, 3B
Juan Rivera, LF
A.J. Ellis, C
Chris Capuano, P

This pinch-hit Dodger Thoughts post is in honor of Lenny Harris.

Enjoy the stylings of Matt Vasgersian and Tim McCarver on this Saturday afternoon on Fox. Get ready to hear Ken Rosenthal say the word “jell” a lot. I’m missing this game because of work, but I think it will be a pain in the aspic.

Matt Kemp, 3 for 29 since he came up second in a battle with the fence at Coors Field, is out for the remaining two games of this series. And potentially more as an MRI on his shoulder is planned, according to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times via Twitter. Time to reacquaint yourself with the excitement that is Juan Rivera, although don’t be surprised to see Bobby Abreu or Alex Castellanos wandering around left field if the situation with Kemp persists.

The other outfielders on the 40-man roster who could still be recalled include Scott Van Slyke and Matt Angle. Officially, Jerry Sands and Yasiel Puig are on the 40-man roster, but they are both likely off-limits. Elian Herrera, who can play many positions, although maybe not any of them particularly well, could also be recalled.

 

Sep 07

Series of Great Import, Part I Game Chat

Dodgers at Giants, 7:15 pm
Mark Ellis, 2B
Shane Victorino, LF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, CF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Andre Ethier, RF
Adam Kennedy, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Josh Beckett, P

Tonight’s pinch-hit game chat is in honor of Manny Mota.

The captain has turned on the “Fasten Seat Belts” sign, so please return to your seats. We will be going through some turbulence for the next several hours. We hope to find some smoother air later on.

Other games people might be interested in:

Cubs at Pirates, 4:05 pm, Wood vs Burnett

Brewers at Cardinals, 5:15 pm, Gallardo vs Lohse

  • Adam Kennedy’s lifetime 8 for 21 against Tim Lincecum gets him a start at third base in place of the 2012 model of “Dodgers Folk Hero,” Luis Cruz. The Dodgers also welcome back Alex Castellanos from Albuquerque.
  • According to Dodgers.com, Paco Rodriguez has been assigned #75 and his photo looks like it was taken with a cell phone. Rodriguez will become the first Dodger player to have been born in 1991. Nathan Eovaldi was the first Dodger to born in the 1990 (February 13, 1990.)
  • Did you know that McCovey Cove is not a cove? Coves are usually set off from bays or other bodies of water by a narrow entrance. However, it does sound nice. It is akin to people saying Death Valley instead of Death Graben.
  • Hanley Ramirez is listed among the top 10 most likely candidates to commit MLB’s 500,000th error.
  • The Giants have recalled pitcher Yusmeiro Petit and activated outfielder Jason Christian from the disabled list. The Giants have 18 pitchers on their roster now, as well as 18 position players. And Clay Hensley should come off the disabled list soon.

 

Sep 26

September 26 game chat

Ryan Braun, and this is understandable, is getting a day (or at least a start) off before the playoffs. So unless he pinch-hits, his batting average should remain at .333. Jose Reyes grounded out in his first at-bat to fall to .330. Matt Kemp is at .324 as play begins tonight.

Cliff Lee gave up a first-inning home run tonight, meaning that to catch Clayton Kershaw for the ERA title, he now needs to pitch into the 15th inning for the Phillies without giving up any more runs.

Sep 25

Triple Crown and Cy Young watch

Jose Reyes (.32950)
Roy Halladay
Phillies at Mets, 11:10 a.m.

Ryan Braun (.33092)
Marlins at Brewers, 11:10 a.m.

Albert Pujols (37 homers)
Cubs at Cardinals, 11:15 a.m.

Matt Kemp (.32534, 37 homers)

Update: Ryan Braun is 2 for 3 so far today, including his 33rd homer, and is now hitting .333.

Sep 24

September 24 game chat

Once more unto the breach, dear friends …

  • Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com traces Clayton Kershaw’s development to superstar.

    … When Kershaw’s second pitch in the top of the sixth inning hit Parra on his front elbow, plate umpire Bill Welke ejected the pitcher immediately.

    The next day I asked the same veteran player who had told Kershaw it would be OK to back away from this fight whether or not Kershaw had proved something to him, whether he liked him more or less than he had the day before.

    “Neither,” the player said. “I already knew him.” …

  • Here’s an interview on YouTube with Vin Scully talking about Matt Kemp, Kershaw and more, courtesy of Marty Caswell.
  • Peter Gammons endorses Kemp for NL MVP in a long piece at MLB.com.
  • Joe Block of Dodger Talk speculates that, because of the theory of “progression to the mean,” injuries deprived Juan Uribe the opportunity to recover from his poor first half of the season.
  • Kevin Baxter of the Times runs a list of the top 10 free agents this offseason alongside the cautionary tale of the top 10 free-agent flops of last offseason.
  • John Sickels of Minor League Ball checks in on some minor-leaguers with major-league bloodlines, including one Matt Scioscia.
Sep 23

MLB calls for court to order Dodger sale

Vowing to reject any TV deal that involves the Dodgers with Frank McCourt as owner, Major League Baseball filed a motion requesting the bankruptcy court to order a sale of the franchise.

… Attorneys for the league argued in a court filing that McCourt is using the team’s Chapter 11 case to try to resolve his own personal financial problems. They said he has methodically stripped the team of its revenue sources and is now seeking to auction off the team’s television rights without league approval, which could lead to its expulsion from the league and leave it in economic ruin. …

Bill Shaikin of the Times first reported the story, which included this haymaker of a passage:

… The current Fox Sports contract with the Dodgers expires in 2013, and Fox holds exclusive negotiating rights for another 14 months. A sale of TV rights now not only would subject the Dodgers to significant damages in a lawsuit from Fox, baseball argued, but could result in MLB discipline up to and including the team’s suspension from the league. …

Fancy. Still, before it comes to that, we’ll presumably just see this continued to be played out in court.

More from Shaikin, who spoke with Thomas Salerno, lead attorney for the Phoenix Coyotes during their bankruptcy:

… By announcing its rejection of any deal before a sale could take place, and by signaling its veto of a plan that McCourt could use to pay all the Dodgers’ creditors in full, Salerno said, the league could be seen as not acting in good faith.

“I think MLB runs a risk that the judge says that’s not reasonable,” Salerno said.

Since a settlement in the case is highly unlikely, Judge Kevin Gross could issue a ruling that stands as precedent for other disputes between owners and leagues.

“This case is clearly going to make law,” Salerno said. “The league is going all in.”

* * *

Since Carl Yastrzemski won the Triple Crown in 1967, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Matt Kemp “is the only player to date to be within five points of the league leader in batting average (or leading), within one HR of the league leader (or leading), and within one RBI of the league leader (or leading), in the last 15 days of the season, let alone the last week of the season,” reports ESPN Stats and Information.

* * *

With Eugenio Velez starting tonight, a reminder of where he stands:

  • 0 for 33 this season
  • 0 for 42 since his last major-league hit, May 18, 2010
  • Since a third-inning single on April 20, 2010: 1 for his last 62 in the majors.
Sep 22

Home finale game chat

Last chance to boycott the Dodgers in 2011 …

Sep 21

Don’t make Kenley Jansen the closer — he’s too good for the job


Kirby Lee/US PresswireKenley Jansen has allowed two runs since June, while stranding all nine runners he has inherited.

Keeping this as concise as possible in the interest of time:

  • Kenley Jansen has struck out 25 of his past 40 batters.
  • Kenley Jansen has gotten 25 of his past 31 outs via the strikeout.
  • Kenley Jansen is so overwhelming right now, a Giants blog, Bay City Ball, rhapsodized about him.
  • Kenley Jansen has a WHIP of 0.671 since coming off the disabled list in June, allowing eight singles, a double and 10 walks in 28 1/3 innings.
  • Kenley Jansen has allowed a .098 batting average, .192 on-base percentage and .109 slugging percentage in that time.
  • Kenley Jansen is the Dodgers’ most dominant reliever, the reliever you’d most trust to get an out when you need it.

It is for these reasons that I hope the Dodgers do not make Kenley Jansen a closer next season.

Tuesday’s victory illustrated why. If Jansen were the closer, Dodger manager Don Mattingly would have held him back until the ninth inning, rather than having him come put out the fire when Clayton Kershaw gave up a home run and two walks in the eighth inning.

It’s far better that Jansen be available at the game’s biggest crisis point, whatever inning that comes.

My hope is that if Mattingly feels he must have a regular closer in 2012, he is seduced by Guerra’s 19 saves in 20 opportunities and keeps him in that slot. Nothing against Guerra, who has been one of the season’s most pleasant surprises, but he is not a smokejumper like Jansen, who looks more capable of putting out the toughest fires than any other Dodger reliever.

* * *

  • With Colorado’s loss to San Diego today, the Dodgers’ clinched no worse than a third-place finish in the National League West.
  • Matt Kemp could be the first NL player to finish in the top two in home runs and steals since Hank Aaron in 1963, according to Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A.
  • From the Dodger press notes: “Since Aug. 1, James Loney leads the National League with a .359 batting average (51-for-142) and ranks among the league leaders in doubles (15, T-1st), on-base percentage (.425, 4th) and slugging percentage (.627, 2nd).”
  • Kenny Shulsen of Lasorda’s Lair predicted Jerry Sands’ home run off Tim Lincecum on Tuesday — a home run, I believe that will be remembered when debating Sands’ potential this offseason.
  • Tuesday was the 50th anniversary of the Dodgers’ final regular season game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, notes Keith Thursby at the Daily Mirror, which also features a Jim Murray column commemorating the event. Sandy Koufax struck out 15 in a 13-inning complete-game victory. If Baseball-Reference.com is accurate, Koufax threw 213 pitches in the game.
Sep 20

Best wishes to Derrick Hall

Tough news out of Arizona: Diamodbacks CEO and former Dodger executive Derrick Hall has prostate cancer. More from the Diamondbacks’ official site:

… A date for surgery to remove the tumors has not yet been scheduled. Hall underwent a series of tests recently and had a prostate biopsy performed on Sept. 14.

“I was informed by my doctor while in San Diego with the team Saturday,” Hall said. “I am fortunate the disease was caught in the early stages and expect a full recovery. I will use this news as an opportunity to educate and drive awareness, while hopefully saving more lives in the future. I am in great hands, and my family and I are confident we will get through this successfully. I notified all of my staff immediately and am eternally grateful for the overwhelming support, love and prayers.”

Hall underwent a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test, which resulted in elevated numbers and then underwent the prostate biopsy. That test was diagnosed as positive and revealed cancerous tumors.

D-backs managing general partner Ken Kendrick is a prostate cancer survivor. …

* * *

    Congrats to Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illnesshe’s engaged! To his girlfriend! She finally bagged her a Homer.
  • Matt Kemp won the Dodgers’ Roy Campanella Award, “given to the Dodger player who best exemplifies the spirit and leadership of the late Hall of Fame catcher.” Rafael Furcal, Russell Martin, James Loney, Juan Pierre and Jamey Carroll are previous winners of the six-year-old trophy.
  • Frank McCourt winning his hearing on TV rights, Tony Gwynn Jr.’s close friendship and James Loney’s willingness to move to left field — all reasons to speculate about Prince Fielder coming to Los Angeles, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
  • Manny Ramirez plans to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic this year, reports The Associated Press.
  • Tommy Lasorda will be in uniform as an honorary coach for the Dodgers’ home finale September 22, which happens to be the birthday of Lasorda, my daughter and Molly Knight.
  • From the Dodger press notes: Dee Gordon “is tied the for NL lead along with Florida’s Emilio Bonifacio with 28 September hits and ranks fifth on the circuit with a .373 batting average this month (28-for-75). The 23-year-old also leads the Majors with nine stolen bases in 17 September games and overall ranks second among NL rookies with 21 steals in 27 attempts (77.8%). Gordon went 3-for-4 on Sunday to extend his career-long hitting streak to six games and is batting .423 (11-for-26) since the run began on Sept. 13. He is batting .337 (35-for-104) in the season’s second half, which ranks sixth among NL qualifiers.”
  • Tonight’s matchup between Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum reunites two pitchers who, as of now, are in the top 20 in major-league history in adjusted ERA for starting pitchers (minimum 700 innings), according to Baseball-Reference.com.

Sep 18

September 18 game chat

“How a line drive percentage boost has helped Matt Kemp,” from Mark A. Simon of ESPN Stats and Information:

Matt Kemp hit line drives on 16 percent of the balls he put in play in 2010. He’s upped that rate to 22 percent in 2011 (statistics through Wednesday’s games).

How much of a difference does a six percentage point jump make? Let’s explore:

In 2010, Matt Kemp had 50 hits on his 71 line drives (50-for-69, .725 BA, two sacrifice fly)

In 2011, through Wednesday, he has 72 hits on 91 line drives (72-for-90, .800 BA, 1 sacrifice fly)

Hypothetically, let’s say that Kemp was hitting line drives at a similar rate to last season and that he was getting hits on them at a similar rate to last season.

In our new situation, that would give him 48 hits on 66 line drives

That would give him 24 fewer hits than he has right now.

To account for those 25 balls he hit that we’re no longer considering line drives (91 minus 66), Let’s presume he still hit those balls- but hit flies and grounders.

Kemp has hit fly balls and ground balls this season at nearly the same rate. So let’s give him 13 fly balls and 12 ground balls. And his hit rates on those are such that it should add about 8 hits to his ledger.

In all, that would mean that the increased line drive rate and line drive performance has been worth about 16 hits to Kemp’s ledger.

If we took those 16 hits and turned them into outs, it would chop 30 points off Matt Kemp’s batting average.

He’d be hitting .286 instead of .316. Still pretty good, but would perception be any different, given that he’s still a 30 HR-30 SB player?

* * *

On Thursday night, I read a review in the New Yorker (abstracted here and also discussed here) of a new novel, “The Art of Fielding” by Chad Harbach.

In Friday’s mail was a copy of the book, sent to me by my father. Nice.

Sep 17

Little Lilly really won’t go home

Ted Lilly, trying to stave off joining the 30-30 club, hasn’t allowed a home run in his past three starts, his longest stretch since April. This season, Lilly has allowed 28 home runs and 33 steals (in 35 attempts).

According to Baseball-Reference.com, there have been 18 pitcher 30-30 seasons since 1950, none since Gavin Floyd of the White Sox in 2008 and none in the National League since Randy Johnson of Arizona in 1999.