Jul 23

Dodgers recall Kenley Jansen

The Dodgers announced they have designated Justin Miller for assignment and recalled the tantalizing Kenley Jansen.

Jansen has struck out 50 in 27 innings since his promotion to AA Chattanooga this season. He was converted from catcher to pitcher in 2009, when he caught 34 games and pitched in 12.

Miller had a 4.44 ERA with 33 baserunners allowed in 24 1/3 innings and 30 strikeouts. He allowed 12 runs and seven inherited runs in his last 18 innings.

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.”

Jul 21

Trade Deadline Inception


Warner Bros. PicturesUpside down, boy you turn me, inside out …

Each of the following passages is rooted in something real. And yet each reality offers a mystery.

I just had so many different thoughts, and this is me trying (and, as you’ll see, mostly failing) to make sense of them. But whether I make sense of them or not, 10 days from now, on July 31, baseball’s no-waivers-required trade deadline, we get the kick.

* * *

After a night like Tuesday – not to mention confirmation that Manny Ramirez will be out for a while – this Dodger team might seem to have a cloud of doom over it.

It’s a Dodger team that hasn’t been very healthy, hasn’t been (except for a short stretch in May) very lucky, hasn’t been very deep and lately hasn’t been very good.

Rafael Furcal has exceeded expectations, as has Hong-Chih Kuo for all of 30 of the team’s 840 innings pitched this season. Andre Ethier is a little better than expected, though not as much since early May. Same with Jamey Carroll. And after that, who?

The issue is not whether the Dodgers are out of contention. They’re not. They could be leading the wild card race inside of a week. And unless you’ve completely ruled out the possibility of the upstart Padres having their own problems, the NL West is wide open.

We’ve all seen this show before – twice in recent years, in fact. In 2006 and 2008, the Dodgers had tremendous swoons, only to recover from them.

Each time, they got help at the trade deadline – without blowing up the team.

So, what now?

* * *

Well, it’s not just about now.

At the end of this season, starting pitchers Hiroki Kuroda and Vicente Padilla become free agents. So does outfielder Manny Ramirez – who admittedly might not have much to contribute for the remainder of the year. Casey Blake looks increasingly like he’s not going to hit enough to hold down third base. Russell Martin has devolved into a No. 8 hitter.

Those are the major concerns, before you even get into injury risk for Furcal and Kuo, or paying for James Loney’s power uncertainty, or whether Blake DeWitt is a legitimate second baseman, and so on. People complained about the Dodgers needing to reload after the 2009 offseason, but the 2010 team will require even more new ammo.

And so, dual considerations. If you go for broke this year, you could be digging a hole so deep for the 2011 Dodgers that they can’t recover. But is the hole for 2011 so deep already that you might as well go for broke?

* * *

Scott Halleran/Allsport/Getty Images
Mike Trombley

Random trade deadline thoughts and memories …

  • Looking for relief help in 2001, the Dodgers traded minor leaguers Kris Foster and Geronimo Gil for Mike Trombley. Trombley allowed 17 runs and 37 baserunners in 23 1/3 innings.
  • Looking for starting pitching help in 2001, the Dodgers traded minor leaguers Jeff Barry, Gary Majewski and Onan Masaoka for James Baldwin. Baldwin made five quality starts in 11 tries, finishing with a 4.20 ERA as a Dodger.
  • July 31 is not the stopping point for Dodger general manager Ned Colletti, who in the past has acquired Greg Maddux, Marlon Anderson, David Wells, Jim Thome, Padilla, Esteban Loaiza and Jon Garland after that date. All those players, and more, cleared waivers, allowing them to be moved after the so-called deadline.
  • I really do believe that Carlos Santana was traded for Casey Blake, not for $2 million. Not saying it was the right thing to do. But I don’t believe that Santana was a throw-in. I think Meloan was. Blake for Meloan and $2 million doesn’t make sense to me from the Indians’ perspective.
  • Yhency Brazoban made his major-league debut on August 5, 2004 and for the remainder of the year, struck out 27 in 32 2/3 innings with a 2.48 ERA, stranding 12 of 14 runners.
  • Is Kenley Jansen this year’s Brazoban? Or this year’s Meloan?

* * *

“Interested.”

That word ignited off the 2010 Dodger trade deadline frenzy. Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that an anonymous industry source said the Dodgers were “interested” in Pirate pitcher Paul Maholm.

A thinner piece of news, you probably could not find Tuesday. Even if this source is correct – and he might not be – it tells us nothing of how serious the interest is. But suddenly, the Dodger online world was aflame with discussion of this pitcher with 4.5 strikeouts per nine innings, a pitcher who might be as poor a fit with a poor Dodger defense as you could find.

In his past two starts, Maholm has allowed two runs in 16 innings. In two of three starts before that, he allowed 12 earned runs in four innings.

Nothing to see here.

* * *

Gus Ruelas/AP
Andre Ethier reacts after Tuesday’s game-ending strikeout.

And then there’s Peter Gammons, whom Vin Scully Is My Homeboy noted last week was thinking out loud about the Red Sox pursuing Ethier.

The one team I keep wondering about if they drop a few games back, if the Dodgers start dropping back, would they talk about Andre Ethier. He’s going to make $10-$12 million next year, the coaching staff feels with their bizarre ownership situation, they don’t want to pay Ethier and might trade him now. That would be a fascinating guy to go after.”

And when Steve Dilbeck of the Times helped spread word of this Tuesday (not to mention Alyssa Milano), more panic.

I’d say there’s no chance of Ethier being traded. If the Dodgers aren’t trading Matt Kemp, they’re not trading Ethier. But let’s say I’m wrong. Let’s say there are bluffs all around and everything and everyone is on Colletti’s table. The Dodgers would be trading Ethier at his highest value. The haul for a 28-year-old All-Star whose work ethic is unquestioned and who won’t be a free agent until November 2012 could be astonishing.

* * *

For that matter, how many teams in baseball would like to have Furcal right now?

No, you’d never trade Furcal now. But six weeks ago, you would have. A slumping, injury-prone shortstop with millions upon millions remaining on his contract? You’d have traded him for less than you’d get for him now.

* * *

I’m talking way too much about trading key players away, but allow me just a little more before I move on.

Four days before the trade deadline four years ago, I wrote a lengthy column for SI.com, advocating that being a seller lose its stigma.

… It should not be so shameful for a .500 team, a team that can only win a World Series if karma and luck fall head over heels in love, to say, “Look, we can be a long shot this year, or we can make a small sacrifice and become a serious contender for years to come.”

Teams can get hot instantly — there’s no denying that. Florida surprised everyone in 2003, went on a run and won the World Series. Houston recovered from a faceplant of a start in 2005 and took the NL pennant. If you’re three games out of the playoffs with a .500 record, the postseason possibilities may be so tantalizing that the slim odds of winning it all may not matter to you.

Good enough. That doesn’t mean it should be a sin to step back and decide that whatever you have now, you can build upon with a little more patience. It should be a choice. And it can be a choice that remains open until the moment the deadline passes, a choice that depends on whether you can get a quality deal or not, as opposed to a deal that just makes you look busy.

As for the fans, some will complain. Some will always complain. But if you show you have a plan and you make an intelligent trade for the future, sacrificing a mere two months in the process could render those complaints moot rather quickly …

I’m not saying the Dodgers should become sellers, and I don’t believe they will become sellers, but there is a case for it. And the funny thing is, the McCourt divorce provides cover for it. Ownership would get crucified by the mainstream for turning 2010 into a rebuilding year. But ownership is already being crucified. So why should we care about the bad PR, if that’s status quo and ultimately the team would be better off for it?

* * *

This website celebrates its eighth anniversary today. After proclaiming my intention to exult or vent as appropriate, my first main post wondered aloud about whether the Dodgers should be sellers.

I guess that temptation has often been with me. Buoyed by the drafts of Logan White, the Dodgers were able to make long-term commitments to developing players from within. But the Dodgers have never taken a similarly long view with regards to midseason trades.

What if they did? I know it will never happen, but what if it did?

Francis Specker/AP
Marlon Anderson follows through in the ninth inning, September 18, 2006.

* * *

Then again, does it need to happen? Manny Ramirez in 2008 was a man-made gift from the heavens. And so was Marlon Anderson in 2006.

And 2004, the most tumultuous trade deadline of them all, worked out rather well.

So why not believe? Why not go for it?

Just a week ago, the Dodgers were in fine shape, a good team that was maybe a player or two away from becoming great.

* * *

Roy Oswalt? Jayson Werth? Dan Haren? Ben Sheets? David DeJesus? Scott Downs?

There are some names that could help the Dodgers. But not many.

Dee Gordon? Chris Withrow? Ethan Martin? Jerry Sands? Aaron Miller? Allen Webster? Joe Etc.? Who’s irreplaceable? Who’s gonna make you go, “I don’t miss him that much – so it was worth a shot.”

* * *

You need to be smart, and you need to be fortunate. And you can do that as a buyer or a seller. It truly doesn’t matter which. If you are smart and fortunate, you will win.

The Dodgers won’t be sellers. We can be sure of this. They will either stand pat or acquire someone to help immediately. They might try to acquire someone but end up standing pat because the price was too high. But those are the options.

But the thing is, if you acknowledge that standing pat is a possibility – and that standing pat probably means you won’t win in 2010 (because the teams that rallied from the depths avoided standing pat) – then how can you not entertain the option of trading for the future instead of the present?

If standing pat is a worse choice than selling high, why wouldn’t you be in talks to sell high, as a backup plan?

The answer is one of public relations, of public perception. But this morning, not too many people like the 2010 Dodgers right now anyway. And those that do aren’t the ones who are likely to complain about sacrificing the 2010 Dodgers to make them more competitive in 2011 or 2012.

That’s the paradox.

* * *

Anyway, enough about Plan B. Plan A is to improve the 2010 Dodgers now.

It can be done. Ownership or not. Roy Oswalt’s contract or not. You can make smart trades. The Dodgers have done it before. They can do it again.

Ten days until July 31. Let the freakout begin.

Jul 14

Reports: Sherrill could be headed off active roster via waivers

Jeff Gross/Getty Images
This guy allowed two runs with the Dodgers last year.

It hasn’t been confirmed on the record, but it is being widely reported (first by Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse, then by Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com among others) that the Dodgers have place George Sherrill on outright (i.e., irrevocable) waivers.

That could mean that Sherrill (and his remaining 2010 salary) will either be claimed by another team, Sherrill will accept an assignment from the Dodgers to the minor leagues or Sherrill will elect to become a free agent. He has not necessarily thrown his last pitch for the team. We’ll know the answer within three days of the start of his placement on waivers. Jackson’s story has more details.

* * *

  • Phil Wallace wrote a really nice piece at L.A. Observed’s Native Intelligence, rebutting Bill Plaschke’s lionizing of Angel Stadium over Dodger Stadium in the Times.
  • The first half of Albuquerque’s season is reviewed and second half previewed by Christopher Jackson of Albuquerque Baseball Examiner.
  • Jamey Carroll talked defense with Dingers (link via Memories of Kevin Malone, which had several to choose from).
  • Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News has an update on scheduling issues with the new, expanded Pac-12.
Jul 11

Starting over: John Ely goes to Albuquerque

The Dodgers announced today that they have optioned John Ely to Albuquerque and recalled Jon Link in time for tonight’s game.

Ely’s next scheduled start for the Dodgers was July 19, so unless he is replacing an injured player, he cannot be recalled in time for that start. But of course, there’s always the chance the Dodgers will have an injured player for him to replace.

Sending Ely to Albuquerque presumably allows him to work on some things in game action, rather than being sidelined for nine days.

Nevertheless, by the sounds of Joe Torre’s media session today, it doesn’t look like the Dodgers are eying Ely for that next start. Torre said that he and Ned Colletti decided that Ely needs to get back on track, and that James McDonald, Carlos Monasterios and Claudio Vargas are currently candidates for the July 19 start against the Giants. That’s assuming the Dodgers don’t make a trade.

McDonald extended his recent relatively hot streak today, allowing a run in 6 1/3 innings for the Isotopes, though he walked four and struck out only two. McDonald has a 2.08 ERA in his past four appearances, with no home runs allowed.

Jun 17

Rafael Furcal placed on bereavement list

No details yet, but the Dodgers announced in a 7:30 a.m. e-mail that Rafael Furcal had been placed on Major League Baseball’s bereveament list. Chin-Lung Hu has been called up to take his roster spot, though he will not arrive in Cincinnati in time for the start of today’s early game.

Placement on the bereavement list means that Furcal will miss from three to seven games.

All my sincerest condolences to Furcal.

Update: Furcal went to the Dominican Republic to see an ailing family member, reports Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

* * *

  • Nick Green opted out of his minor-league contract and became a free agent, reports Christopher Jackson of Albuquerque Baseball Examiner.
  • Claudio Vargas returned to the Dodger organization, signing a minor-league contract with the Isotopes, whose pitching has been trashed by injuries, absences, promotions and demotions.
  • Russ Mitchell homered twice and singled for Albuquerque on Wednesday, while Michael Restovich doubled, tripled and homered, and Xavier Paul and Ivan De Jesus, Jr. also each had three hits.
  • Kyle Russell hit his first AA home run for Chattanooga, while Trayvon Robinson had three hits.
  • Fred Claire has a nice story at MLB.com about Monte Irvin, who at age 91 will have his number retired by the Giants. Among other tidbits was this revelation:

    … Irvin revealed that when he got out of the service in 1945 he signed a contract with the Dodgers.

    “I had been selected by Branch Rickey to break the color barrier,” said Irvin. “I had the talent and I was easy to get along with.”

    Irvin said that even though he had signed the contract with the Dodgers, he asked to return to play in the Negro Leagues “because I didn’t want to go to the Major Leagues until I had my game back after three years in the service.”

    Irvin said a dispute developed over the contract between his Negro League team and the Dodgers, and he didn’t get his opportunity in the Major Leagues until a deal was worked out with the Giants in 1949.

    “Things have a way of working out and I’m just happy that I had the chance to play the game that I loved,” he said.

  • Matt Kemp’s struggles get an analysis from Chad Moriyama of Memories of Kevin Malone.
  • Second-round draft choice Ralston Cash is close to signing with the Dodgers, reports Bill Murphy of the Gainesville Times.
  • Ernest Reyes of Blue Heaven passes along a neat find: a 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers ticket order form. Get your box seats for $3 …
  • Here’s a fun historical site: CalTrafficSigns.com (via Franklin Avenue).
Jun 16

Dodgers call up Travis Schlichting

Travis Schlichting, the hero of the 14-inning 1-0 victory over Arizona on June 2, was called up to take Chad Billingsley’s spot on the Dodger roster, the team announced today.

In the two weeks since throwing four shutout innings that day, Schlichting has made three appearances for AAA Albuquerque, totaling 4 1/3 innings. He has allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks, striking out two.

Jun 14

Who will Vicente Padilla displace on the roster?


Jayne Oncea/Icon SMI
Justin Miller is on the Dodger roster bubble despite a 3.48 ERA.

Vicente Padilla isn’t a 100 percent lock to rejoin the Dodger starting rotation this weekend, but you can pretty much count on it. Though he gave up four earned runs in 5 2/3 innings for Albuquerque on Sunday, he threw 81 pitches and didn’t walk a batter. Assuming he feels fine physically today, he should be on the Fenway Park mound Friday or Saturday, with John Ely starting the other day and Hiroki Kuroda going on Sunday. (It would make more sense to have Padilla wait until Saturday, thereby giving the Dodgers an extra day with an extra relief pitcher, unless that upset Padilla’s rhythm somehow.)

Padilla’s return means someone on the Dodger pitching staff must get displaced. Justin Miller presents yet another case of a pitcher whom the Dodgers would like to retain but is out of options. Miller, who gave up what turned out to be a critical eighth-inning home run Sunday, hasn’t pitched badly for the Dodgers, allowing 13 baserunners in 10 1/3 innings while striking out 10, but he is the least important person on the staff at this point. Jon Link, among others, provides insurance for the Dodgers if Miller ends up in another organization.

Risking the loss of Miller is the only viable move the Dodgers have besides finding a person to go on the disabled list. There has been some talk that John Ely would go back to Albuquerque on Saturday morning precisely because he does have options remaining, but I think it’s safe to dismiss that possibility. Ely hasn’t pitched badly enough to warrant the demotion, and Joe Torre seems eager to get Carlos Monasterios back into the bullpen. So even though the Dodgers’ June 21 off day would allow them to go with a four-man rotation through June 26, expect Ely to stick around. (If Ely were demoted, then Monasterios would be starting the middle game against the Yankees unless the Dodgers performed some more roster shenanigans).

As far as the disabled list goes, well, there’s always a recurrence of George Sherrill’s back injury, not to mention “elbow soreness” for someone like Ramon Troncoso.

At this point, this problem feels like a good one to have. Not everyone was excited about Padilla’s impending return, but they’re probably a little less unexcited after seeing Monasterios struggle Sunday. I don’t expect Padilla to be the pitcher he was at the end of 2009 – though in any short spurt he might be – but if he’s even the average pitcher he was before he came to the Dodgers, that’ll probably be fine. Let’s face it, the Red Sox are a challenge for any Dodger pitcher.

Jun 08

Dodgers activate George Sherrill

As expected, the Dodgers activated George Sherrill from the disabled list and vaulted Jon Link back to Albuquerque. Both have restored some credibility in recent days: Link threw two shutout innings Monday, while Sherrill had two shutout rehab outings this weekend.

The Dodgers also officially announced the promotion of minor leaguer Kyle Russell from Class A Inland Empire to AA Chattanooga.

In other minor league news, 21-year-old Great Lakes pitcher Elisaul Pimentel was named Midwest League Pitcher of the Week after his six shutout innings Wednesday (with nine strikeouts) extended his scoreless string to 18.

Jun 03

Dodgers activate Charlie Haeger, option Schlichting

With their bullpen worked over by back-to-back extra inning games, the Dodgers have activated Charlie Haeger from the disabled list and optioned Wednesday’s relief hero, Travis Schlichting.

Haeger presumably will work in relief if needed tonight and be on call if Carlos Monasterios’ blister prevents him from starting Monday.

* * *

Garret Anderson’s walkoff hit Wednesday was the eighth of his career, the first since 2001. He had a walkoff walk in 2008.

May 27

Dodgers cut loose Ramon Ortiz, bring up Justin Miller

The Dodgers did a little bait and switch: After telling us 18 hours ago that Ramon Ortiz would back up Carlos Monasterios in the latter’s start Friday, they designated Ortiz for assignment., according to manager Joe Torre (via the Dodgers’ public relations department).

Los Angeles has brought up Justin Miller from Albuquerque, just in time for Vin Scully to talk about the ex-Giant’s many tattoos on this weekend’s telecasts from Colorado. Miller has a 2.22 ERA for the Isotopes in 24 1/3 innings with 25 baserunners allowed against 25 strikeouts.

Miller had a 3.18 ERA with 36 strikeouts in 56 2/3 innings for San Francisco in 2009, a year that ended with arm trouble.

Torre told reporters that the Dodgers have offered Ortiz a minor-league assignment and that Ortiz is discussing it with his agent. Torre also said that Charlie Haeger will rejoin the Dodgers sometime soon.

Finally, Andre Ethier will play in minor-league rehab games for Albuquerque at Memphis on Friday and Saturday.

May 12

Arizona’s acquisition of Edwin Jackson hasn’t paid off as hoped


Roy Dabner/AP
Has it really been almost seven years since Edwin Jackson’s thrilling debut against Arizona?

While the Dodgers were getting worked over by the press for not adding a premium starting pitcher during the 2009-10 offseason, the Arizona Diamondbacks were boldly going out to get 2009 American League All-Star Edwin Jackson (who starts tonight against the Los Angeles) for their rotation — trading, among others, one-time prized prospect Max Scherzer. Here’s what I wrote at the time:

My early reaction to the news that the Arizona Diamondbacks had traded away Max Scherzer was, “The Dodgers have the McCourts. What’s Arizona’s excuse?”

From what I could tell, almost all the thoughts about Tuesday’s trade, a three-way endeavor that included Arizona sending Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth to Detroit in exchange for the Tigers’ Edwin Jackson and the Yankees’ Ian Kennedy, matched mine. Why was Arizona giving up a lower-paid pitcher with a higher ceiling?

I know I’m not alone among Dodger fans in retaining a soft spot for former boy in blue Jackson, who had his best season last year and is still only 26. But I’ve been hearing for quite some time splendiferous things about Scherzer, who is 25, struck out more than a batter an inning in 2009 with an adjusted ERA of 111 (4.12 ERA) and will make millions less than Jackson in 2010.

If the Dodgers had made this kind of trade — a prized young pitcher sent away for short-term gain — anger would have blasted through the roof and finger-pointing would have zoomed through the hole in the roof that anger had created. It would have been an ugly day, at least on this website. Even though the Dodgers would be taking on more salary for 2010, the trade would have been seen as a short-sighted mortgaging of the future, another sign of a crumbling empire. (A similar scenario: Imagine the Edwin Jackson for Lance Carter-Danys Baez trade happening now.)

Yes, some would have defended the trade, just as some are pointing out that Scherzer might not have the build or mechanics to truly blossom as a starter, or that Kennedy still has rotation potential, or that Jackson should do even better in migrating back to the National League. But considering how negative the overall reaction is toward Arizona making this move, you can only imagine, in the context of the Dodgers’ current dysfunction, how harsh things would have been if Los Angeles had done it. …

So how has it all worked out?  As you might expect, not as expected.

Scherzer has a 6.81 ERA in seven starts for Detroit — and that’s lower than Jackson’s 7.32 mark for Arizona. However, Kennedy, the lesser of the starting pitchers to come in the trade, has a 3.48 ERA despite allowing a National League-high eight home runs. (Among others involved in the trade, Phil Coke and Austin Jackson have also done well for Detroit, while Schlereth is in the minors.  Curtis Granderson is mired in a lousy year, making the Yankees the big loser in the deal to date.)

In September 2003, Jackson made his major-league debut on his 20th birthday against Randy Johnson and won, on a night dimensionally more thrilling than John Ely’s besting of Dan Haren Tuesday. Tonight on the same field, he’ll be trying again to recapture those good vibes, while the Dodgers, who were held to two runs over six innings the only other time they have faced him (while he had a 7.85 ERA with Tampa Bay at the time), will try again to avoid looking bad for ever letting Jackson go in the first place.

* * *

Two notes from Stat of the Day: 2009 Dodger Will Ohman, who spent most of the year on the disabled list, has a 0.00 ERA after 11 innings with Baltimore (allowing four of 13 inherited runners to score), and No. 8 hitters for the Giants have an Andre Ethier-like 1.194 OPS this season, led by Nate Schierholtz.

* * *

Joined by my colleague Stuart Levine, I’m doing another live chat about all things TV today for Variety at 2:30 p.m. As of this moment, you can click the link and start sending your questions …