Forgive me for getting ahead of myself here, but the Ricky Nolasco trade interests me as much for what it might mean for future seasons as it does for the current one.
I imagine the Dodgers will re-sign the newly acquired Southern California native, who is eligible to be a free agent after this season, if he does half-decently. Assuming Los Angeles parts ways with Chris Capuano and Ted Lilly by Veterans Day, the Dodgers would greet 2014 featuring Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Nolasco in the first four spots of the starting roation, with Josh Beckett and Stephen Fife among the contenders for the fifth slot. (Hint: Ned Colletti doesn’t figure to want to settle for those two.)
But it could get more fun as springtime progresses, if and when Chad Billingsley (a year removed from Tommy John surgery in April) and Zach Lee (2.79 ERA, 1.121 WHIP, 8.2 K/9 with Double-A Chattanooga) enter the mix. Heck, maybe even someone like a Ross Stripling (2.29 ERA, 1.039 WHIP, 8.6 K/9 with Chattanooga) or a Rob Rassmussen (2.42 ERA, 1.074 WHIP, 8.5 K/9) gets run up the flagpole.
All that aside, I’ll admit that my biggest future question about the Dodger starting rotation is whether Julio Urias will still be a teenager when he arrives in Los Angeles. Urias is so young, he was born August 12, 1996 – the second anniversary of the shutdown of the 1994 baseball season (I was supposed to take my then-girlfriend to the game that night) – giving him three years and change to become a teen team player. He is the youngest pitcher in the Midwest League in decades, and though he initially wasn’t meant to stay there, it’s been hard to kick him out.
The 16-year-old from Mexico has a 2.78 ERA, 1.268 WHIP and 10.6 K/9 with Single-A Great Lakes, for whom Lee – the Dodgers’ No. 1 pitching prospect entering this year – had a 3.47 ERA, 1.220 WHIP and 7.5 K at age 19 in 2011. If Lee is on track for a mid-2014 arrival in the majors (notwithstanding a potential cup of coffee this September), Urias could realistically hit Dodger Stadium before his 20th birthday in 2016.
Like I said, I’m getting ahead of myself. Just having fun thinking about it.
For perspective, Clayton Kershaw had a 2.77 ERA, 1.253 WHIP and 12.4 K/9 with Great Lakes at age 19 in 2007. He was in the majors one year later, two months after turning 20. Urias is arguably the Dodgers’ best pitching prospect in the seven years since they drafted Kershaw, the gold standard.
They face Madison “Don’t Call Me James” Bumgarner, who has a 3.08 ERA this year and a 2.54 career ERA when facing Los Angeles. In two starts this year against the Dodgers, Bumgarner has pitched 15 innings and allowed two runs on seven hits and a walk, while striking out 11.
For his part, Bumgarner might well be looking forward to his rematch with Yasiel Puig who homered and singled in a 3-1 Dodger victory June 24.
Since June 21, the Dodgers and Giants have each allowed 53 runs. But Los Angeles has scored 72, while San Francisco has tallied 24.
In the Dodgers’ two losses, they have allowed a total of 25 runs. In their 11 wins, they have allowed 28 runs.
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Here’s an update on the Dodgers’ apparently nearly completed pursuit of Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco, from MLB Trade Rumors.
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Clayton Kershaw is an National League All-Star. Yasiel Puig was not named to the NL reserves, but we’ll see if he (or teammate Adrian Gonzalez) can make it in via the final fan vote. Personally, I’m perfectly happy to have Puig chill for the All-Star break.
Uribe’s season-long renaissance, in the third year of his three-year contract with the Dodgers, reached full flower tonight, with a double, triple, home run and seven RBI in the Dodgers’ 10-2 rout of San Francisco.
It was an astonishing performance but bearly out of the blue the way it would have been in 2011 or 2012, when Uribe hit a combined .199 with a .262 on-base percentage and .289 slugging percentage. Despite being on the roster all season last year, Uribe had one plate appearance after August 27.
But practically from day one in 2013, Uribe has brought plate discipline to his game, already surpassing his 2011 and 2012 totals in walks, and when he has swung, he has made an impact – to the point where Dodger fans have slowly learned not only not to fear his at-bats, but to embrace them. Last summer, Dodger fans were begging for his release; his 2013 OPS is now exactly .800. Combine that with the fielding that was always solid – in his latest exploit, he turned a bullet by Matt Cain tonight into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play – and the Dodgers have had, believe it or not, a productive third baseman.
Tonight, with the Dodgers trailing 1-0 in the second inning, Uribe worked the count to 2-1 in his favor, then delivered a two-run double to left field. Then, with the bases loaded and one out in the third, Uribe worked the count full before sending a hard, sinking liner into left field that Carlos Gonzalez of Colorado might have caught, but he was yesterday’s opponent. Cole Gillespie dove for the ball and missed, and Uribe had his first triple since July 28, 2010.
Uribe’s two-run homer in the seventh not only helped him match his career high in RBI in a game, it put him a single away from hitting for the cycle. Alas, Uribe went down in the ninth on a check-swing strike three.
But back to the original point. What Dodger endured two miserable years, while collecting a big paycheck, before putting it together in his third season? Looking at this list of Dodgers in the post-1975 free-agent era, no one with the profile of Uribe leaps to mind. It’s not like Dave Goltz, Don Stanhouse, Mike Davis or Eric Davis turned it on in Los Angeles after stinking for two years. But Uribe has.
This week, in five different games, Dodgers have been within single hits of hitting for the cycle. Yasiel Puig needed a home run one game and a triple the next, Hanley Ramirez needed a triple Wednesday, Adrian Gonzalez needed a triple Thursday, and now Uribe’s missing single.
The Uribextravaganza and the final score would indicate a night of complete celebration for the Dodgers, but that’s not the case. Two innings into the first game in which the Dodgers had Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp on their active roster, Kemp irritated the AC joint in his left shoulder with a swing. He is day to day.
Make sure to follow me on Twitter for more frequent Dodger and baseball tidbits. Some samples:
— Jon Weisman (@jonweisman) July 5, 2013
As expected, Crawford activated, Van Slyke optioned. Now, the OF juggling act begins, though one of them could be traded for Ramon Hernandez
— Jon Weisman (@jonweisman) July 5, 2013
Crawford on bench for his first game back. #Dodgers probably want to see if Kemp stays hot, and Either has great history against Matt Cain.
— Jon Weisman (@jonweisman) July 5, 2013
Yasiel Puig is in the biggest slump of his career: 2 for his last 9. He has still reached base in 27 of 29 career games. #dodgers
— Jon Weisman (@jonweisman) July 5, 2013
Hanley Ramirez as a Dodger: .354 on-base percentage, .527 slugging in 364 plate appearances. Ramirez, who will turn 30 in December, can become a free agent after the 2014 season, during which he will earn $16 million.
Randy Choate as a Dodger: 4.05 ERA, 24 baserunners against 11 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings, before becoming a free agent. (With St. Louis this year, Choate has a 2.00 ERA with 19 baserunners against 11 strikeouts in 18 innings, in the first year of a three-year, $7.5 million contract).
Nathan Eovaldi as a Marlin: 3.89 ERA, 117 baserunners against 54 strikeouts in 81 innings (5.4 innings per start). Eovaldi has the second-worst winning percentage (6-15, .286) of any major-leaguer since 1980 with a career ERA below 4.00, ahead of former Mets pitcher Anthony Young. Since making his first major-league appearance of 2013 on June 18, following a bout with right shoulder inflammation, he has three starts with a 2.00 ERA with 17 baserunners against 10 strikeouts in 18 innings and a reportedly improved fastball. Eovaldi is under Marlins control through 2017 and becomes arbitration-eligible after the 2014 season.
Scott McCough as a Marlin: The 23-year-old righty reliever has a 2.22 ERA with 47 baserunners against 41 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings with Double-A Jacksonville this season.
In short: Everyone seems to be prospering right now, but thanks to Ramirez’s supreme resurgence, Dodger fans have every reason to be pleased with the trade.
Happy Independence Day!
In his ill-remembered farewell season with the Mets, a 42-year-old Willie Mays had a .303 on-base percentage, .344 slugging percentage and adjusted OPS of 81 in 239 plate appearances with the New York Mets.
Recovering from one injury after another over the past year, 28-year-old Matt Kemp has been worse. This season with the Dodgers, Kemp has a .302 OBP, .327 slugging and 78 OPS+ in 214 plate appearances.
After returning from the disabled list last week, Kemp had a single, a double and no strikeouts in his first five trips to the plate — four of them June 25, plus one on June 27. Since then, he has gone 3 for 18 with two walks and nine strikeouts.
Dylan Hernandez wrote in the Times on June 27 about Kemp working with former hitting coach Jeff Pentland over an eight-day span. That period, according to the article, ended June 29.
“The biggest thing I noticed he was dropping his hands,” Pentland told Hernandez. “He was to a point where he was pushing and scooping the ball. Off of that comes everything else. Sometimes one thing can create five or six problems and I think that’s where he was at.”
Pentland spoke in the past tense, but with or without him, Kemp remains a work in progress.
Kemp ended a 1-for-10, six-strikeout slump with two singles June 30. Then, after Monday’s off day, he struck out in three of his first four at-bats in Coors Field on Tuesday before hitting a 400-foot out in his final appearance.
The strikeouts show how Kemp is still searching for a rhythm. He has started six games since coming off the DL, and he’s been good in two, average in two and awful in two. But the timing and mechanics issues still seem solvable.
“Kemp’s swing does currently does have significant flaws, but I highly doubt it’s anything permanent,” wrote Dodger analyst Chad Moriyama at the end of a lengthy examination in May. “This rings especially true since he made a similar adjustment a couple years ago, and I expect him and the Dodgers to eventually work through this as well.”
After that, we can get back to wondering whether Kemp’s power will return. Let Hanley Ramirez be your inspiration, and your reminder of patience.
Will it be the bullpen, the fielding, the injuries, the sluggers’ return to earth – or all of the above?
It takes nothing away from the Dodgers’ hot streak to say that it won’t last. The end could come tonight, or the next day, or next week. But they’ll return to earth.
It’s the nature of the fall that I wonder about, whether it will feel temporary or permanent, shallow or deep.
In 1982, the Dodgers advanced 12 1/2 games in the standings in 13 days, moving from 10 games out to 2 1/2 games up in the National League West, then fell back out of first place, then regained first place, then fell back out again, before Joe Morgan finished their season.
In 2006, Los Angeles went from fifth place to first in 10 days, during an astonishing 17-out-of-18 streak (immediately after losing 13 out of 14), played leapfrog with the Padres day by day and, in the 4+1 game, inning by inning, and finished on top in the division.
In 2008, the Dodgers were five games under .500 on August 29, won eight straight and 12 out of 13, and didn’t look back until the National League Championship Series.
The 2013 season has already put Dodger fans through the ringer. But in a way, it has only just begun.
The reconstruction of the bullpen looks helpful, but there’s an inherent chaos that makes it impossible to trust. The fielding isn’t really any more reliable. You know the injuries will find themselves again. You know Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez will have their slumps. So, for that matter, will Stephen Fife.
The good and the bad of the Dodgers are in an ongoing battle for supremacy. The difference right now, compared to two weeks ago, is that it finally looks like the good can put up a fight.
There was no life I’d known to compare with pure imagination.
And then Yasiel Puig came along, joining Clayton Kershaw on what had been a lonesome, uphill journey.
And the rest of the Dodgers followed.
They were so bad, and now they’re so good. With their 8-0 shutout in Colorado tonight, the Dodgers have won nine games out of 10, moving into fourth place, .00058 behind the San Diego Padres, and 2 1/2 games out of first.
It’s remarkable to think that without the injuries and the losing and frankly, the depression, Puig would have come from the seas of the Atlantic only as far as the woods of Tennessee. But the road west opened for Puig, and tonight, he did to Coors Field exactly what you’d expect Puig to do to Coors Field – given that fact that Puig himself is pure imagination.
Matt Kemp is the living reality check on the Puig phenomenon, the former All-Everything going 0 for 5 with three strikeouts and, almost tenderly, the most encouraging out of the night, a 400-plus blast to the fence in deepest Coors.
But otherwise, reality, or what used to serve as reality, seemed far away. Hanley Ramirez had another two hits, including a double. Adrian Gonzalez had two hits, including a homer. Juan Uribe had two RBI singles. A.J. Ellis anted up and drew two pair, walks and doubles.
And Ace was Rocky Mountain High.
Five years and change into his major-league career, Clayton Kershaw remains as sweet as a river of chocolate. He threw his second shutout of the season, dominating the Rockies with eight strikeouts, no walks and but one runner getting as far as second base. He ended the 27-game hitting streak of Michael Cuddyer in the process.
The pitcher whose ERA in the second half of the season has been lower than the first half every year of his career dropped his 2013 mark to 1.93, with two starts to go before this year’s All-Star Game, a game he will certainly be a part of.
Lately, there’s been much debate about whether Puig will join him, to which I say, whatever happens, happens. If we’re meant to keep Puig for ourselves for a little while longer, I am content, come what may.
In other words, if you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it.
This week, the Dodgers could be in a different place in the National League West standings for five consecutive days.
They went to bed last night in fifth place and could conceivably pass San Francisco tonight, San Diego on Wednesday, Colorado on Thursday and Arizona on Friday.
We’ll see. In the meantime, Mike Petriello runs down the Carlos Marmol acquisition at Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness.
Dodgers at Rockies, 5:40 p.m.
Kershaw CLXVII: Kershawnder the Dome
The beauty of this Jeff Passan story at Yahoo! Sports on Yasiel Puig’s intersection with the U.S. Coast Guard in April 2012 takes many forms — the drama, the intrigue, the introspection, and perhaps most of all, the open acknowledgement of conflicting moral values.
Humanity is a complicated, fascinating thing.
That there is any other Dodger to write about besides the one who got his 44th hit in his 100th at-bat would be remarkable in any year, much less one that still features a last-place team in Los Angeles.
But here we are on the final day of June with not only the remarkable Yasiel Puig to talk about, or even the sizzling Hanley Ramirez, but two others who are turning heads.
You’ve met Stephen Fife – but have you met Stephen Fife? The 26-year-old, whose 2011 acquisition was derided in most quarters (including this one), not only threw seven shutout innings today, he lowered his June ERA to 2.21 – the best of anyone this month in the Dodger starting rotation.
Yes, the rotation. I mean, do you realize that Fife is in the rotation now? He’s not some stopgap spot starter. He’s in. He’s taken a regular turn for six straight starts now, striking out 30 in 36 2/3 innings. It’s hardly too late for his chariot to turn into a pumpkin, that he’s John Ely in disguise, but 12 starts into his major-league career, he has a 2.78 ERA.
In his own small way, far from the Puig spotlight, he has helped the Dodgers win eight games in their past nine and pull within four games of first place in the National League West, which has generated its own level of skepticism but for now remains the third-best division in baseball.
Games over .500
33 AL East
22 NL Central
-8 NL West
-11 AL West
-12 AL Central
-24 NL East
Even at 38-43, the Dodgers are in a much more enviable position at the halfway point of their season than seemed fathomable just last weekend. The future looks brighter than any point since Opening Day. And again, that’s not just thanks to Puig. The Dodgers’ newest freshman, Jose Dominguez, exactly four months older than Puig, delivered the most electric debut this side of their precocious rightfielder.
Hitting 101 on the radar gun, Dominguez relieved Fife in a perfect eighth inning, striking out his first major-league batter and displaying a tantalizing change to go with that fastball. Making it clear that he wasn’t equating Dominguez with Pedro Martinez, Vin Scully nevertheless said you couldn’t help thinking of the future Hall of Famer while watching the baby San Pedro de Macoris native. I can hardly wait to see him again, and I’m sure the Dodgers feel the same way.
We’ll wait to see how Dominguez’ control plays out, but it’s easy to draw renewed bullpen hope in a potential lead trio of Dominguez, Paco Rodriguez and Kenley Jansen, with J.P Howell and Ronald Belisario in secondary roles. And that’s no small reason why there’s renewed hope in the Dodgers as well.
The Dodgers just aren’t the same without Luis Cruz.
Hours after the struggling infielder was, as expected, designated for assignment, the Dodgers were absolutely pounded by the Phillies.
Los Angeles surrendered 12 runs on 15 hits in the first six innings tonight before scoring their first run, trailing 12-1 at press time. Now, you want me to believe that’s a coincidence? You must think me quite naive, sir.
Philadelphia had 29 hits in their first 15 innings in Los Angeles.