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 30

Ted Lilly or Zach Lee

Hypothetical: Would you rather the Dodgers spend $4 million on the remaining 2010 salary of Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly after acquiring him in a trade, or the team’s top 2010 draft choice, pitcher Zach Lee?

Jul 29

Know-doze puts Dodgers to sleep, 3-2

Dennis Poroy/APScott Hairston slides home with the winning run for San Diego.

Not trying to shirk my duties, but for the second game in a row, there’s really nothing for me to tell you that you don’t know already know.

You know the Dodgers can’t expect to win many games with three hits. You know that the Dodgers can’t expect to win many games when their starting pitcher comes out after four innings. You know that the Dodgers aren’t better off pitching George Sherrill in a tie game than Jonathan Broxton, that it’s better to risk Sherrill giving up a run later than earlier. (Can’t there be an Afterschool Special about saving your closer for an extra-innings save situation that might not come?)

You know that the Dodgers’ 3-2 loss in the bottom of the ninth at San Diego was a winnable game. But no.

It’s as if the Dodgers are trying to play me out of a job.

Update: From Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com:

Although Torre rarely uses Broxton in potential extra-inning situations on the road unless it is a save situation, Torre said after the game he would have gone to Broxton if Sherrill had gotten a second out. That raises the question of why he didn’t bring in the right-handed-hitting Broxton to face the right-handed-hitting Salazar, or why he didn’t simply order the left-handed Sherrill to intentionally walk Salazar to set up a double-play situation for Aaron Cunningham, who was on deck to hit for Padres reliever Heath Bell. …

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

Dodgers trade for Scott Podsednik

Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireScott Podsednik

Seeking to solve their Manny Ramirez-less outfield problems, the Dodgers have agreed to a deal for Kansas City outfielder Scott Podsednik, according to ESPN.com writer Jayson Stark’s sources. (Update: The Dodgers have confirmed the trade.)

The Dodgers parted with AAA catcher Lucas May, and more significant, Class A pitcher Elisaul Pimentel.

Podsednik, a 34-year-old left-handed hitter, draws comparisons to Juan Pierre — not the least because the White Sox replaced Podsednik with Pierre this winter. Podsednik hits for a bit more power than Pierre — as well as current Dodger part-time left fielder Jamey Carroll — but of course that’s not saying much. Podsednik’s slugging percentage in 2010 is .400, to go with a .352 on-base percentage. Like Pierre, Podsednik likes to run — but gets caught stealing his fair share.

In other words, this guy helps your team, but not a ton.

Podsednik is owed the remaining 40 percent or so of his $1.75 million contract for 2010, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, plus a potential 2011 club option for $2 million. (Yes, the Dodgers are paying that remaining 2010 salary.)

Pimentel, who turned 22 this month, has had a very nice 2010 season for Great Lakes: 3.49 ERA with 97 strikeouts in 90 1/3 innings, against 106 baserunners.  Those numbers were actually even better until a poor July.

May, 25, has an .848 OPS for Albuquerque — he probably isn’t a serious catching prospect at this stage. He wasn’t going to replace Russell Martin or anything next season.

This is a hard spot for me — I never like to give up promising young pitching unless it’s for a major player, and I don’t think Podsednik qualifies.  My first reaction is that it’s not the worst trade the Dodgers could make, but I’m not sure it was necessary.  The only thing I’ll say is that, given that Pimentel was probably going to be at least 24 before sniffing the big leagues, I’m guessing the Dodgers didn’t surrender the next Pedro Martinez.

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

Chicken soup for the soul: Ethier lifts Dodgers, 2-0

Gregory Bull/APAndre Ethier breaks a scoreless tie in the seventh inning with a two-run, pinch-hit single.

Too sick to start Tuesday’s game in San Diego, Andre Ethier made the Padres feel ill in their showdown with the Dodgers.

Ethier, a late scratch from the starting lineup with the flu, came off the bench in the seventh inning to deliver a two-run single – all the medicine the Dodgers needed to come away with a 2-0 victory.

Chad Billingsley and Jon Garland each pitched shutout ball through six innings, though both starting pitchers had one inning of major tightrope-walking in that time. In the bottom of the fourth, three singles loaded the bases before Billingsley retired the next three batters on a groundout, popout and strikeout. In the top of the sixth, with runners on first and second, Garland nabbed Rafael Furcal, Xavier Paul and Matt Kemp on 3-2 pitches.

But the pivotal moment came in the seventh inning, when Blake DeWitt (on an 0-2 pitch) and Garret Anderson singled with two out. Padres manager Bud Black forced the Dodgers hand, walking Russell Martin (1 for 2) intentionally. That caused Joe Torre to have the flu-stricken Ethier pinch-hit for Billingsley, even though the righty had thrown only 84 pitches. (Billingsley lowered his ERA to 4.00 on the season by extending his scoreless inning string to 15 tonight – remarkably, Dodger starting pitchers have allowed one earned run in their past 43 innings.)

It was an echo of Friday’s game, when Torre pinch-hit for Vicente Padilla despite a low pitch count. But this time, with Garland left in to pitch despite lefty Joe Thatcher warming in the bullpen, Ethier grounded a 1-1 pitch hard, just past a diving Everth Cabrera, driving home the first two runs of the game.

That put the game in the hands of the Dodger bullpen, starting with Hong-Chih Kuo. Despite being interrupted by a single and a Casey Blake error, Kuo struck out the side. After throwing 20 pitches that inning, Kuo came out in the eighth to face Padres slugger Adrian Gonzalez and struck him out on three pitches. He faced Chase Headley, and struck him out on three pitches. He threw two more strikes to Yorvit Torrealba before finally missing, and then gave up a single. On his season-high 34th pitch, Kuo got Will Venable to ground out, taking the game to the ninth.

In the bottom of the ninth, Jonathan Broxton breezed through the first two hitters on three pitches. That brought up his nemesis, Matt Stairs, with a .597 OPS this season. Broxton missed with his first three pitches, but came back to strike Stairs out and bounce off the mound with the save.

First step. The Dodgers were held to two runs or less for the eight time in 12 games since the All-Star break, but they closed their gap in the National League West to five games. Los Angeles remained 2 1/2 games behind San Francisco for the NL wild card.

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 27

Dodgers in San Diego: The season isn’t on the line

By and large, the Dodgers’ three-game series that begins tonight San Diego has been painted in the media as a must-win affair.

It’d certainly be nice for the team if they won the series, but it’s not a make-or-break event.

Say the Dodgers win only one of the three games. That would leave them seven games out of first place in the division (fewer behind in the wild card) with nine weeks to go.

Last year, the Dodgers nearly blew a six-game lead in the National League West with nine games to go. Four years ago this week, the Dodgers were swept by San Diego to fall into last place in the NL West, 7 1/2 games out of first, and they still made the playoffs.

Obviously, the Dodgers don’t want to wait until the last minute to make a move — comebacks are anything but automatic. But the idea that it’s now-or-never time is just silly.

The matchups:

Tonight: Chad Billingsley vs. Jon Garland
Wednesday: Hiroki Kuroda vs. Clayton Richard
Thursday: Vicente Padilla vs. Mat Latos

* * *

  • The rejiggering of Clayton Kershaw’s pitching schedule following his suspension set up a likely showdown between him and fellow 22-year-old phenom Steven Strasburg of Washington on August 6 at Dodger Stadium.
  • The duffel bag that Jackie Robinson carried on a bat over his shoulder in his famous Dodger farewell photo appears to be up for auction, writes Ernest Reyes of Blue Heaven.
  • I don’t think Matt Kemp has done anything this year that bugged me more than his extra-effort tackle of James Loney on Saturday, and this is why. This isn’t about me being a sourpuss: There was plenty of celebration underway before Kemp almost took Loney out.
  • Mike Piazza was the subject of a long interview at Athletics Nation.
  • Back in Spring Training, Dodger video cameras caught Kenley Jansen chatting it up with DeJon Watson, Logan White, Rodney McCray, Joe Torre and Sandy Koufax.
Jul 26

Clayton Kershaw to start serving suspension Tuesday

And more news … methinks John Ely is headed back to Los Angeles …

Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers have decided to have the lefty drop the appeal of his five-game suspension, which he will serve this week, postponing Kershaw’s next start until Sunday in San Francisco.

Kershaw was suspended for hitting Giants outfielder Aaron Rowand with the first pitch of the seventh inning July 20, after both teams had been issued warnings earlier in the game. Dodgers manager Joe Torre and coach Bob Schaefer served one-game suspensions related to the game last week.

The 22-year-old Kershaw pitched eight shutout innings against the Mets on Sunday, lowering his ERA for the season to 2.96, 10th in the National League. He is fifth in the NL in strikeouts, and after a history of control problems, has walked only 14 in his past nine starts.

After using Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda and Vicente Padilla from Tuesday-Thursday against the NL West-leading Padres, the Dodgers will probably have their two most commonly used fifth starters, Carlos Monasterios and John Ely (now in Albuquerque), pitch Friday and Saturday in San Francisco, not necessarily in that order. Both will be on at least four days’ rest by Friday.

Unless he turns things around this week, James McDonald would be the most likely player to be sent to Albuquerque to make room for Ely. That’s assuming that Jack Taschner retires a batter in the interim.

Jul 26

Ronald Belisario resumes workouts with Dodgers

News on the beleaguered reliever:

Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Ronald Belisario, who has been on Major League Baseball’s restricted list since July 7, has resumed workouts at Dodger Stadium, according to the team, though no timetable has been set for his return to the active roster.

The Dodgers offered no further comment. Belisario hasn’t pitched for the team since July 5, when he threw shutout ball over a career-high three innings against Florida. Players can be kept on the restricted list for a maximum of 30 days, meaning that Belisario has until approximately Aug. 6 before the Dodgers (need to) make a decision on him.

After a 2009 rookie season in which he posted a 2.04 ERA with 64 strikeouts in 70 2/3 innings, Belisario opened the 2010 season on the restricted list following visa problems that detained his arrival in the States from his native Venezuela. He made his season debut April 21, and after performing inconsistently through the end of May, had a 1.45 ERA from June 1 on. For the year, Belisario has a 3.79 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings.

Belisario was arrested for driving under the influence in June 2009 and subsequently pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

If Belisario makes it back, he would potentially rejoin a Dodger bullpen fronted by Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo, Kenley Jansen and Jeff Weaver just in time for the final weeks of the season.

Jul 26

Dodger Cogs and Dogs: Edition 10

Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireVicente Padilla: No. 12 with a bullet (not in the leg).

James Loney at No. 5? Casey Blake at No. 11? The Dodger corner infielders each have two homers in July, but the team has been so strange that they still rank high.

And no, Kenley Jansen did not break in at No. 1 on our list, but he was high in our hearts. Remember, these rankings are a combination of objectivity and personal subjectivity …

7/26 7/12 High Low Player Comment
1 1 1 20 Clayton Kershaw Anyone outside of L.A. noticed that Roy Oswalt isn’t having a better year than Kershaw?
2 2 2 14 Rafael Furcal Finally slows down: 3 for last 19, but still with five walks
3 5 1 5 Hiroki Kuroda One inning from matching last year’s season total.
4 3 1 11 Andre Ethier OPS remains sub-.700 since the pinkie.
5 6 6 24 James Loney Leads team in doubles and game-winning homers vs. Mets.
6 4 3 12 Manny Ramirez At 220 plate appearances and holding.
7 8 7 18 Hong-Chih Kuo Best adjusted ERA in Los Angeles Dodger history, minimum 32 innings.
8 9 1 11 Matt Kemp Since June 29, an .863 OPS.
9 7 4 13 Jonathan Broxton Has had four perfect innings in 19 appearances since June 1.
10 10 6 12 Chad Billingsley Gets an extra day off today after 125-pitch outing.
11 11 6 16 Casey Blake After starting month 6 for 48, he’s 8 for last 23.
12 17 15 25 Vicente Padilla ERA, K/9, BB/9, H/9 all now better than Kuroda’s.
13 12 5 26 John Ely Consecutive good outings for Albuquerque.
14 15 2 15 Russell Martin Caught-stealing percentage has improved to career-best 40%.
15 13 12 15 Blake DeWitt Seriously, why has he gone from nine homers in ’08 to one this year?
16 14 13 21 Jamey Carroll Slacker has only played four positions this year.
17 21 7 21 Carlos Monasterios 0.82 ERA in 11 innings since return from disabled list.
18 16 15 22 Jeff Weaver Still fourth on team in wins.
19 18 17 25 Ronald Belisario Last outing on July 5 was best of season.
20 19 8 20 Reed Johnson Snuck in a 66th game this year to pass last year’s mark by one.
21 22 22 24 Travis Schlichting With eight inherited runners allowed in 20 innings, it’s a deceptive 2.25 ERA.
22 23 15 23 Xavier Paul .350 OBP vs. LHP this season.
23 20 7 21 Ronnie Belliard .107 slugging percentage in July.
24 24 9 24 Ramon Troncoso Taking longer than expected to come back: has allowed six runs in past 8 1/3 innings for Isotopes.
25 25 23 25 Justin Miller And now to the other Justin Miller: 2.55 ERA in Chattanooga.
26 NR NR NR Kenley Jansen It’s exciting, but pace yourself, Torre.
27 26 19 26 A.J. Ellis .286 OBP, .224 slugging percentage in first extended L.A. stay.
28 27 25 29 Jon Link Retired four of six batters in most recent Dodger stint.
29 28 23 28 Brad Ausmus Mr. 1-for-4, like clockwork, every three months.
30 29 29 29 Chin-Lung Hu Tuesday marks four weeks since his last game.
31 30 17 31 Ramon Ortiz Six Dodger relievers have worse ERAs than Ortiz’s 6.30.
32 31 27 32 Nick Green DFAed by Toronto, signed with Padres organization last week.
33 33 3 36 Charlie Haeger ERA is 4.99 at Albuquerque in 30 2/3 innings.
34 34 16 34 Garret Anderson OBP by month: .159, .216, .217, .250. Trending up!
35 36 26 36 George Sherrill Approaching anniversary of coming to L.A., Sherrill’s Dodger ERA is 3.58.
36 35 22 36 Russ Ortiz Stayed ahead of Sherrill until Saturday.
37 NR NR NR James McDonald Don’t tell my heart, my achy-breaky heart …
38 32 32 35 Scott Elbert … I just don’t think it’d understand.
39 NR NR NR Jack Taschner His callup and Jansen’s a study in contrasts.
Jul 25

Dan Haren takes Angels’ flight out of NL West

Debate on the Dan Haren-to-the-Angels trade seems mainly to mainly not whether the Angels won this trade, but by how much.

  • ESPN.com’s Keith Law doesn’t think much of the Joe Saunders-plus-minor leaguers package.
  • Zach Sanders of Fangraphs notes that even if the deal doesn’t help the Angels rally to make the playoffs this year, it puts them in better position to bounce back next year.
  • Matthew Carruth of Fangraphs sat “for an hour and still cannot even come close to justifying this. … The Diamondbacks just acted like Dan Haren was Scott Kazmir.”
  • Echoes Joe Sheehan for SI.com: “If there’s a model for how not to handle the trade of a high-priced, high-value player, this is it.”
  • Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com plays devil’s advocate for a brief moment to present the risk for the Angels – that Haren is declining (and overpaid) as his 4.60 ERA this season would suggest.
  • Aaron Gleeman of Hardball Talk points out that the deal might hinge on a player to be named later, but that player is not Mike Trout, the Angels’ top prospect.
  • Haren himself is excited, even if he’ll miss Arizona, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.

Should the Dodgers have swooped in? For this price, maybe. I haven’t thought much of Haren’s performance this season, but it’s not as if Arizona overcharged for him – although, as others have pointed out, the Diamondbacks might have charged more from a division rival than they did from the Angels.

* * *

And in other news …

  • Callups to come? John Ely pitched a seven-inning complete game, allowing two runs on seven baserunners while striking out five, and Jay Gibbons went 4 for 4 in Albuquerque’s 14-2 victory over Nashville.
  • From the postgame press notes: “Carlos Monasterios was examined by Dr. Neal ElAttrache after being struck in the right side of the head by a foul ball off the bat of Carlos Beltran in the fourth inning. He never lost consciousness and did not appear to have a concussion.”
  • Here’s a great profile on Dodger Stadium organist Nancy Bea Hefley from Dodgerfan.net.
  • The new LACMA exhibition, “Manly Pursuits: The Sporting Images of Thomas Eakins,” is reviewed by Christopher Knight of the Times.
  • Former “Happy Days” star Anson Williams sang God Bless America today like he thought he left the oven on at home. Kudos for not milking it.