Jul 04

Xavier Paul should stay for remainder of season


Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesXavier Paul slides home in the fifth inning Saturday.

This is not a news flash. But when Manny Ramirez returns from the disabled list, the Dodgers should bid farewell to Garret Anderson.

It’s not just that in 133 plate appearances, Anderson has an on-base percentage of .205 and slugging percentage of .291. It’s not just his negative value defensively, on a team that could use defense from its backup outfielder.

It’s that even being optimistic about Anderson, what he’s capable of is not what Xavier Paul is capable of. Or, for that matter, Paul’s recent Albuquerque teammate Jay Gibbons.

Anderson has walked three times all season. Three times. So even if he gets luckier with some balls in play dropping in, there’s little hope for a dramatic rise in his poor OBP. And his slugging percentage has maxed out at about .400 since 2009. That’s not enough value for a guy who can’t field.

No doubt Joe Torre is expecting all this non-production will be worth it when Anderson has a key RBI single in the postseason. The problem with that theory is that 1) Anderson might, in his own small way, keep the Dodgers from reaching the postseason, and 2) it’s a canard that you need a veteran to come through off the bench in the playoffs.

As I pointed out before the season, older is not necessarily better for bench players. By far, the majority of over-35 bench players for the Dodgers have hit poorly. And Anderson has hit worse than almost all of them.

Mark Loretta’s hit in Game 2 of last year’s National League Division Series was memorable, but that didn’t mean Loretta was a good player for the Dodgers to have. If the Dodgers can do better, they should. And Paul is an example of better. Paul already has more walks than Anderson and nearly as many hits and extra-base hits despite playing half the time, plus better speed and defense. And he, unlike Anderson, has real potential to improve.

If it’s leadership you want from Anderson, make him a coach, or make use of the countless other former major-leaguers that are already on staff with the Dodgers.

The common argument against keeping Paul is that, as a potential 2011 starter for the Dodgers, he should be playing regularly this year. But Paul really has spent enough time playing at AAA, racking up more than 800 plate appearances there since 2008 and showing improvement each of the past three seasons. His injuries put up a roadblock last season, but he has recovered impressively. His OPS is over 1.000 with the Isotopes, outstanding even by their standards.

As far as his future development goes, I’m struggling to see how copying Blake DeWitt’s frequent-flyer service between Albuquerque and Los Angeles from last year is a better use of Paul’s time than letting him steadily grow comfortable in a major-league clubhouse, learning about the game’s top pitchers and becoming tested in key situations.

It’s not as if Paul will never play. Given the rest the Dodgers want to give Ramirez even when he’s healthy, Paul could easily amass another 150 plate appearances if he stays with the big club through the end of the season. That would give him more than 400 for the season. That’s plenty for a player who has mastered AAA pitching.

Put it this way: If there’s going to be a Dodger backup outfielder with a .500 OPS, I’d rather it be someone having a learning experience. Better that than the slow, painful fadeout of a once-great player.

* * *

The Dodgers said today that they expect to activate Carlos Monasterios from the disabled list in the middle of this week. Monasterios is done pitching rehab outings for Albuquerque.

The Isotopes released Jesus Colome from their roster, according to the team press notes. The former major-leaguer had a scoreless inning, then gave up five runs to his next six batters.

* * *

For the second time this season, a team has designated Dontrelle Willis for assignment shortly after he got hit hard by the Dodgers. Los Angeles scored seven runs off him in 6 1/3 innings while he pitched for Detroit and Arizona.

* * *

Clayton Kershaw is … ‘Lost’.

Jul 04

Andre Ethier to start for NL All-Stars, Broxton in bullpen


Getty Images/US Presswire Anaheim Time

Andre Ethier was named to the National League All-Star team, announced this morning. Jonathan Broxton was selected for the NL bullpen.

Ethier has been coming on for some time now, but grabbed the nation’s attention with his Triple Crown start to 2010. Interestingly, this announcement comes with Ethier feeling something to prove again, following his post-pinkie injury slump. But he should come around.

Rafael Furcal (.884 OPS, 142 OPS+, 12 steals) is the NL’s most valuable shortstop this season, according to Fangraphs, but his surge unfortunately came too late to make an impact on the fan/player/manager selectors. Jose Reyes (.741 OPS, 100 OPS+, 19 steals) got the call to back up Hanley Ramirez ahead of Furcal.

Moreover, in its desire for versatility the NL found a spot for Atlanta utility player Omar Infante (.721 OPS in 56 games).

Former Dodger third baseman Adrian Beltre, an MVP candidate this year for Boston, made his first All-Star game.

Who chose whom? MLB.com has the answer:

NL Player Ballot position players include catcher Brian McCann of the Braves, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez of the Padres, shortstops Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies, third baseman Scott Rolen of the Reds, Prado, and outfielders Corey Hart of the Brewers, Matt Holliday of the Cardinals and Marlon Byrd of the Cubs. Because Tulowitzki is on the DL and unavailable, he is replaced by Reyes, who was the next choice on the Player Ballot behind him.

NL Player Ballot pitchers include starting pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies, Roy Halladay of the Phillies, Josh Johnson of the Marlins, Tim Lincecum of the Giants and Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals, along with relievers Matt Capps of the Nationals, Brian Wilson of the Giants and Jonathan Broxton of the Dodgers.

From there, Manuel, in conjunction with MLB, filled out his roster with the following: first baseman Ryan Howard of the Phillies, second baseman Brandon Phillips of the Reds (replacing Utley), infielder/outfielder Omar Infante of the Braves, outfielders Michael Bourn of the Astros and Chris Young of the Padres, and pitchers Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals, Yovani Gallardo of the Brewers, Tim Hudson of the Braves, Evan Meek of the Pirates and Arthur Rhodes of the Reds.

Jul 03

Dodgers make Diamondbacks rue the error of their ways, 14-1


Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesAfter tonight’s game, Kirk Gibson and Rodrigo Lopez have a story to rival the Andrea Doria survivors.

Clayton Kershaw and Rafael Furcal nearly had a face-to-face collision on the basepaths, and yet that mistake didn’t even register tonight. But six errors by the Diamondbacks did.

Arizona broke its club record for team trauma, making its most errors ever in what would have been the team’s worst shutout loss ever, before scoring a ninth-inning run to settle for a 14-1 defeat.

It would have been the Dodgers’ biggest shutout victory since they won 14-0 on September 24, 1975. Los Angeles’ biggest shutout victory ever was 19-0 over San Diego in 1969.

The Dodgers had a 7-0 lead before scoring their first earned runs, which came on home runs in the fourth inning by the scalding-hot Furcal and then Andre Ethier (both of them 2 for 4). According to True Blue L.A., Casey Blake became the first Los Angeles Dodger to score three runs without a hit or walk.

Furcal is now hitting .338 with a .384 on-base percentage and .500 slugging percentage in 226 plate appearances, 22 plate appearance short of what he needs to qualify for the leaderboards. Among those on the team with at least 248 plate appearances, only Ethier has a higher slugging percentage than the 5-foot-8 Dodger shortstop. And Furcal lost a few digits when his 400-foot blast to center field ended up being only a single, because Kershaw (running from first base) thought it was caught and started heading back from second base back to first. Furcal, trying to get Kershaw’s attention, was called out for passing Kershaw on the bases.

James Loney reached base four times, and Matt Kemp added a homer and double. Xavier Paul, in his first game back from Albuquerque, had two singles and a three-ball walk after a moment of home-plate umpire confusion. The game-winning RBI went to Blake DeWitt (2 for 5), who had a bases-loaded single in the second inning.

Arizona made two errors in that inning, then made errors on three consecutive batters in the third. Former Dodger Tony Abreu, playing shortstop tonight, made his third error of the game in the fifth inning.

Clayton Kershaw was effective, if not entirely efficient. He crossed the 100-pitch mark in the sixth inning, and with the 14-run lead, Joe Torre pulled him out. Kershaw allowed only four hits and two walks while striking out eight. By entering with at least three innings remaining, Travis Schlichting had a save opportunity, but was hit for after getting seven outs on 40 pitches. Jonathan Broxton, who hadn’t pitched since Sunday’s debacle, was eased back into action. Broxton lost the team shutout by giving up his first homer since August 15 – both the then- and now-homers were hit by Mark Reynolds, but got the next three batters to end the game.

The Dodgers have split the series so far but lead on goal differential, 19-13.

* * *

Carlos Monasterios pitched three shutout innings in tonight’s rehab start with Albuquerque.

Jul 03

Manny Ramirez to DL, Ramon Troncoso to Albuquerque

The Dodgers not only placed Manny Ramirez on the disabled list and called up Xavier Paul, they also optioned Ramon Troncoso to Albuquerque and called up Travis Schlichting.

The first move was expected, and the second move isn’t too much of a surprise considering that Troncoso has seemed in need of a breather for a while now. Troncoso pitched two shutout innings Friday (32 pitches) and has not been scored upon in his past three appearances, so his being optioned might have more to do with providing a fresh arm to the bullpen following Hiroki Kuroda’s early exit.

George Sherrill and Justin Miller, who have performed worse, remain on the team for now, because Troncoso has options and they don’t.

* * *

  • Claudio Vargas pitched six shutout innings for Albuquerque against Pacific Coast League South Division leader Oklahoma City on Friday, allowing two baserunners and striking out seven batters in a row at one point.
  • Blake Smith, a 22-year-old right fielder, went 4 for 6 with six RBI and one of the Loons’ four homers in Great Lakes’ 13-3 victory. Smith has an .858 OPS on the season. Catcher J.T. Wise, 24, had four hits and a walk. Josh Wall struck out 10 in seven innings.
  • Minor-league reliever Hyang-Nam Choi, 39, was released from the Albuquerque roster last weekend, according to the Isotope press notes.
  • Pinch-hitter in the making? Josh Lindblom is 6 for 14 at the plate this season for Albuquerque and 10 for 25 over the past two seasons with a walk and five strikeouts.
Jul 02

Wait-and-see game with Ramirez to continue through weekend

Manny Ramirez probably isn’t available as a pinch-hitter during this weekend’s series with Arizona, Joe Torre told reporters today, but the Dodgers continue planning to play a man down rather than commit to placing him on the disabled list. Xavier Paul was set to hit leadoff tonight for Albuquerque.

Scroll down this Baseball America prospect report to see how many Dodger farmhands have been put on the minor-leagues’ seven-day disabled list. I wonder if anyone has ever thought about reducing the minimum stay on the major-league disabled list by a few days, say to 11. That would still be long enough to fulfill its purpose, but give clubs fewer instances of having to carry an injured player.

* * *

  • Earlier this week, AZ Snakepit was trying to determine the Diamondbacks’ Loss of the Year (yes, we know it’s only midseason), and the Dodgers provided two of the seven candidates. The May 31 balk-off finished a close second to a June 28 collapse against the Cardinals.
  • AZ Snakepit also says that Arizona will have played 42 consecutive games against teams with winning records by the end of this weekend’s series.
  • Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic has transcripts of this morning’s press conferences from Arizona president/COO Derrick Hall and managing general partner Ken Kendrick.
  • From the Dodger press notes: “Spanish-language broadcast engineer Mike Noto worked his 2,634th consecutive game on Wednesday and earlier this week surpassed Cal Ripken’s consecutive games streak (2,632). Noto is now in his 20th season and has missed just one game during that time, when he worked a Stanley Cup Finals game for the Kings in 1993. However, Noto has a way to go to catch the Hall of Famer in his booth, Jaime Jarrin, who once called close to 4,000 consecutive games spanning 22 seasons.”
  • Also from the press notes: “The Dodgers have signed left-handed pitcher Adam Dedeaux to a minor league contract and he’ll start his career in the Arizona League. Adam is the grandson of former Dodger Rod Dedeaux (1935), who went on to become the winningest coach in college baseball history while at USC.”
Jul 02

Chin-Lung Hu out for at least six weeks after thumb surgery


Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireChin-Lung Hu (shown here in 2008) slugged .507 in June.

Chin-Lung Hu is trying a bit too hard to be like Chase Utley.

Hu had surgery on an injured thumb and is expected to be out six to eight weeks, reports Christopher Jackson of Albuquerque Baseball Examiner.

James McDonald would have gone past four innings Thursday, but he was hit on the left knee by a comebacker and was taken out of the game for precautionary reasons.

Cory Wade, outrighted to Albuquerque on Thursday, pitched a scoreless fifth to get the win. Josh Lindblom and Travis Schlichting each allowed runs in their relief outings.

Tim Wallach talked to Jackson about the 53 transactions the Isotopes made in June, believed to be a team record:  “It’s kind of what Triple-A is,” he said. “If we’re not moving guys up then we’re not doing our job, so that’s a good thing. Certainly guys are trying to get to know each other, I’m trying to get to know them, but it’s part of the deal. It’s good experience for not only the players but for us as a staff, too. You’ve got different personalities coming in and out all the time no matter where you’re at. I don’t look at it as tough.”

* * *

Dodger farm teams Chattanooga and Ogden each played 15-inning games Thursday.

The highlight for the Lookouts was Kenley Jansen striking out six batters in two innings. Chattanooga starting pitcher Aaron Miller allowed one run in five innings and had five of the Lookouts’ 17 strikeouts. Chattanooga scored three in the 15th to win, 4-1. Dee Gordon was 0 for 6 with a walk, Jerry Sands was 0 for 6 with three strikeouts and Andrew Lambo was 0 for 7.

Ogden also won, 5-4, on an RBI single by Chris Henderson (3 for 7), driving in Jesse Bosnik (2 for 4 with three walks).

* * *

Great Lakes righty Elisaul Pimentel, who turns 22 a week from Saturday, allowed more earned runs Thursday (five in six innings) than he had in his previous eight starts combined, in which his ERA was 1.00. But the Loons won, 7-6.

Phil Gurnee of True Blue L.A. posted a lengthy interview with Great Lakes beat writer Hugh Bernreuter of the Saginaw News. And don’t miss the latest Dodger prospect rankings from Chad Moriyama of Memories of Kevin Malone. Chris Withrow remains No. 1, but Jansen and Sands made huge leaps into the top five.

* * *

Dylan Hernandez of the Times has more details on the incident that apparently got Matt Kemp benched: a spat with coach Bob Schaefer. Kemp has reportedly not been backing up second base on basestealer throws by Russell Martin. Hernandez says Kemp has denied having “a confrontation” with the Dodger coaching staff, but I think that must be a semantics issue or just a cover.

Hernandez also today had a very nice feature on Hiroki Kuroda, who seems more haunted when he’s not pitching by the line drive that hit him in the head last year.

* * *

Arizona Republic writer Nick Piecoro on the Diamondbacks’ new manager: “I’m curious to see how interim manager Kirk Gibson settles into this role. I find the public perception of him to be wildly different from the way he actually is. It seems like everyone expects some kind of drill sergeant to come in and whip everyone into shape, a guy who’ll have smoke shooting from his ears on every bad call. Who knows, maybe that’s what he’ll be like, but that’s not what he’s been like in his time as the bench coach. He’s more of a goofy guy, someone the players monkey around with in the clubhouse, a guy who’s always keeping them loose. Maybe being the guy in charge will bring that drill sergeant out of him. We shall see.”

Jul 01

Who’s got two thumbs, a famous limp around the bases and now manages the Arizona Diamondbacks?


Mike Powell/Getty ImagesThis guy

Friday in Arizona, the Dodgers will meet their (history) maker.

Kirk Gibson has been named interim manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, replacing the man from my alma mater, A.J. Hinch, who lasted only 212 games before getting the axe, the axe, the axe.

The guy who hired Hinch was fired as well. Josh Byrnes was replaced as general manager of Arizona on an interim basis by Jerry Dipoto.

Stories galore inside of the next 24 hours: Ex-Dodger Edwin Jackson goes for his second no-no in a row, ex-Dodger Gibson goes for his first managerial win, and we wonder if Logan White or Kim Ng might become ex-Dodger executives before next season.

Jul 01

James McDonald shines in return

James McDonald pitched four shutout innings for Albuquerque tonight in his first appearance in a month. McDonald allowed two singles, a double and a walk while striking out three, needing only 51 pitches for the four innings.

Xavier Paul was not in the Albuquerque starting lineup tonight, for those trying to read tea leaves about what will happen Friday with Manny Ramirez and the disabled list.

Jul 01

News on Manny Ramirez: not much news

From Dodgers communications VP Josh Rawitch: “Manny Ramirez felt better today and underwent an MRI here in Phoenix. It showed inflammation in the hamstring, as was expected by the medical staff upon examination yesterday, and we will see how he progresses tomorrow before determining the next step.”

Jul 01

Think twice before trading for middle-relief help


Al Behrman/APRonald Belisario

Remember all the indignation when Ronald Belisario put himself on the layaway plan when it came to Spring Training this year? Plenty of people wanted to wash their hands of the delayed arrival.

Given the current state of the Dodger middle relief, I’m not sure too many people want to cast off Belisario for his sins today.

The Dodger bullpen has shown some unexpected weakness, though circumstances aren’t dire. Jonathan Broxton and Hong-Chih Kuo are brilliant short relievers, while Belisario and Jeff Weaver are satisfactory set-up men.

Carlos Monasterios will probably take the back end of the bullpen when he returns from the disabled list. Monasterios, while flaming out for the time being as a starting pitcher after a briefly glorious run, remains adequate for long relief. Assuming the Dodgers still have a long-term vision for the Rule 5 draft-day acquisition, that’s where he’ll be.

That covers five of seven spots in the bullpen.

Ramon Troncoso is a question mark right now. Right now, as Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports, we’re in the phase of Troncoso claiming that overwork isn’t the issue, but execution is.

“I feel perfect, I feel brand new, like a baby with a new toy,” Troncoso said. “My arm is good. I’m here to pitch every day. I’m going to pitch in 50 more games this year. Of course this year has been frustrating for me, but if we win, everything is OK. I don’t care about my ERA, I just want to pitch good and help the team.”

Bullpen coach Ken Howell said Troncoso’s problems this year are part mechanical, which he’s cautiously optimistic have been worked out, and partly pitch selection and execution.

“He’s been throwing the curveball instead of the sinker in some situations, and the sinker is his money pitch,” said Howell. “And he needs to be at the bottom of the [strike] zone. When he’s thigh-high and up, he gets in trouble. His stuff is fine, but he’s not pounding the bottom of the zone with the consistency of last year. But lately it’s been better.”

And then there’s George Sherrill.

Sherrill looks hopeless, but his lefty-right splits indicate that he does retain some value if he were used only against left-handed batters. Ned Colletti has cut bait on his relief acquisitions before — Danys Baez didn’t even last a season in Los Angeles — but something tells me that Sherrill won’t be sent away.

However, either Troncoso or Sherrill might end up on the disabled list, for reasons legit or not — and for that matter, Troncoso still has minor-league options remaining. So the Dodgers are probably looking for a couple of relievers as contingencies.

The thing is, they probably have them already.

It would be ironic, if it weren’t easy enough to foresee, that the reason the Dodgers might trade for middle relief this year is that last year’s trade for middle relief has gone south. Right now the Dodgers’ farewell to Josh Bell, the organization’s top third-base prospect, for Sherrill isn’t one to savor; Bell was called up by the Baltimore Orioles to play the hot corner tonight. It so happens that the Dodgers caught lightning in a bottle with Sherrill and his sub-1.00 ERA with the team, but Sherrill’s rapid decline this year illustrates how fluky that was.

The Dodgers have Travis Schlichting, Jon Link, Kenley Jansen, Josh Lindblom, Kiko Calero and James McDonald, among others, that they can test out in middle relief. Each comes with a mitigating factor — for example, McDonald, who returns from the minor-league disabled list tonight, might be considered the No. 6 starter right now — but from that group of six alone, odds are that at least one can do the job. (Cory Wade, outrighted to Albuquerque today after a minor-league rehab assignment, is also in line for a try.) So if the Dodgers decide they need a break from Troncoso or Sherrill, they have people they can turn to at no cost at all.

They might be like Justin Miller, who was brilliant when he arrived but has since faltered. They might be worse. But a fresh arm that major-league hitters aren’t familiar with — or heck, a fresh arm period — often works wonders coming out of the pen. And you only need to make it for two months until September, when rosters expand and it’s all hands on deck.

Los Angeles needs to be very careful about any trade for middle relief. The species is too erratic. What you have might well be as good as it gets.

Jul 01

Dodger Cogs and Dogs: Edition 8


Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireJames Loney has a .923 OPS with runners in scoring position, .698 with the bases empty.

In the final Dodger Cogs and Dogs before the season’s halfway point and the All-Star Break, we (okay, I) had by far the least amount of change in the rankings, which is understandable. But there are still four players who have a shot at being the Dodgers’ first-half MVP.

Remember – these ratings reflect full-season value but are partly subjective.

                 
7/1 6/21 6/10 5/24 5/13 5/3 4/19 4/12 Player Comment
1 1 2 3 5 6 10 20 Clayton Kershaw Is he getting it? Six walks in past 28 innings (1.9 BB/9).
2 2 3 2 2 2 3 1 Hiroki Kuroda K/9 with Dodgers by year: 5.7 in 2008, 6.7 in 2009, 7.2 in 2010.
3 4 10 14 9 7 8 4 Rafael Furcal Tour de force in San Francisco. Magnificent.
4 3 1 1 1 1 2 11 Andre Ethier .592 OPS since coming off DL.
5 5 12 5 3 4 4 9 Manny Ramirez In 9,653 career plate appearances. OPS is 1.000 (.411/.589)
6 6 4 11 10 5 6 13 Jonathan Broxton Previous career-high in pitches 44 on 7/3/06. Rested three days, hit hard in next two games, then recovered.
7 8 13 10 6 8 9 24 James Loney Has 47 RBI in past 53 starts.
8 7 8 16 18 NR NR NR Hong-Chih Kuo What is Torre’s rationale for warming Kuo up in bullpen Wednesday with huge lead?
9 11 5 7 8 26 NR NR John Ely Better ERA than Billingsley in only eight fewer innings.
10 10 6 8 11 12 12 10 Chad Billingsley Had 11 strikeouts May 31, 11 strikeouts since.
11 9 9 4 4 3 1 5 Matt Kemp Who doth the spotlight fall upon anon?
12 12 11 9 16 11 7 6 Casey Blake Slumped in June after strong start for second straight year.
13 15 16 13 17 18 21 18 Jamey Carroll With a .400+ OBP against righties, will 36-year-old take over second base?
14 13 14 12 12 15 14 14 Blake DeWitt Only 35 plate appearances against lefties this season.
15 14 15 6 7 10 5 2 Russell Martin Slugging .178 since last double June 15, .280 since last homer May 11.
16 16 18 21 22 21 17 15 Jeff Weaver Has allowed three of 17 inherited runners to score this season.
17 17 17 25 24 NR NR NR Ronald Belisario 20 baserunners, 1.53 ERA in last 17 2/3 IP, but allowed three of five inherited runners to score.
18 19 21 19 13 14 13 7 Ronnie Belliard Won’t surprise you to learn he’s hitting righties better than Anderson.
19 20 20 20 20 17 20 8 Reed Johnson Also hitting righties better than Anderson – barely.
20 18 7 18 14 16 18 21 Carlos Monasterios In final three starts, opponents slugged .704.
21 21 22 15 19 19 NR NR Xavier Paul If Manny goes on DL, I think Paul should say farewell to AAA for good in 2010. (Hint.)
22 25 25 22 23 20 15 25 Vicente Padilla In past two games, pitching like an opening day starter …
23 22 19 17 15 9 11 12 Ramon Troncoso BABIP by month in 2010: .225, .257, .382.
24 23 24 NR NR NR NR NR Travis Schlichting Third-best career ERA in Dodger history (0.87), minimum 10 innings.
25 24 23 NR NR NR NR NR Justin Miller Midnight came early for Miller: seven runs, 17 baserunners in past 9 1/3 IP.
26 26 26 23 25 22 19 19 A.J. Ellis Shirley, he can do better than a .250 slugging percentage.
27 27 27 29 29 28 25 NR Jon Link FYI, this guy isn’t really a kid – he’s 26.
28 28 28 24 26 24 23 23 Brad Ausmus Hearing reports he might be back sooner than expected.
29 29 NR NR NR NR NR NR Chin-Lung Hu Seven walks in 55 games at AAA this season.
30 31 29 26 21 23 24 17 Ramon Ortiz Hammered Time: nine runs, 14 baserunners in three innings Monday for Buffalo.
31 32 30 27 27 NR NR NR Nick Green Toronto update: 1 for 3 with a walk in four games.
32 33 35 NR NR NR NR NR Scott Elbert Saturday marks a month since his last AAA appearance.
33 30 33 32 32 30 22 16 Garret Anderson Five strikeouts in past six plate appearances; three walks all year.
34 36 34 31 31 25 16 3 Charlie Haeger Returns to Albuquerque, no strings attached, after clearing waivers.
35 34 31 28 28 27 26 26 George Sherrill As others have indicated, righties have 1.196 OPS vs. Sherrill, lefties .668.
36 35 32 30 30 29 27 22 Russ Ortiz Highest single-season Dodger ERA this century is Trever Miller’s 23.14 (2 1/3 IP).
Jun 30

Rafael Furcal is making a serious NL All-Star case


Jed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesRafael Furcal, shown hitting a home run today, leads NL shortstops in on-base percentage (.382, minimum 200 plate appearances).

Playing nice defense, swinging the bat great: Rafael Furcal.

NL OPS leaders
.877 Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado (265 plate appearances, injured)
.877 Hanley Ramirez, Florida (330 plate appearances)
.869 Rafael Furcal, Los Angeles (221 plate appearances)
.803 Juan Uribe, San Francisco (292 plate appearances)

According to Fangraphs, Furcal is also third behind Tulowitzki and Ramirez in Wins Above Replacement.

Jun 30

The Sweeps of San Francisco: Dodgers 8, Giants 2


Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Vicente Padilla’s ERA is 3.26 since returning from the disabled list.

Good:

1) Vicente Padilla: seven innings, one run, four baserunners, five strikeouts, 98 pitches. Not sure why he didn’t come out for the eighth inning considering the state of the Dodger bullpen — does he need more rest than Ramon Troncoso — but still good on him.

2) Red hot Rafael Furcal: three singles and a homer. In his past five games, Furcal is 14 for 21 with three walks and a slugging percentage of 1.000.

3) Jamey Carroll: single, double and two walks.

4) Matt Kemp: two singles, a walk and a homer, continuing the hot streak that began Saturday (6 for 11 with three walks, .909 slugging percentage).

5) Sweep.

Jun 30

Matt Kemp’s agent, Dave Stewart, talks about recent struggles


Jeff Chiu/Associated Press
Matt Kemp went 2-for-4 Tuesday with two running catches in his first meaningful game action since Saturday.

Matt Kemp happens to be represented by an agent, Dave Stewart, who made a reputation as a player as someone who took the game of baseball very seriously.

In an interview with Dodger Thoughts this morning, Stewart made no bones that it has been a struggle for Kemp the past two months, but expressed confidence that the experience has helped Kemp grow and, having cleared the air with Dodgers manager Joe Torre before Tuesday’s game, that he’s ready to turn a corner.

“It’s not been a really happy period of time the past couple of months for him,” Stewart said. “I think the gathering with him and Joe will help improve that mental frame and get him in a better place where he’s able to concentrate and play the game in a different state of mind. I think probably he’s going to be a bit happier. … I think that the pressing will discontinue.”

Stewart

Stewart

Stewart said that the critical radio comments by Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti in late April, at a time when Kemp was hitting at an All-Star level, didn’t go unnoticed, but that they weren’t an excuse for Kemp’s play in recent weeks.

“Those comments were unexpected,” Stewart said, “and obviously not well taken. But that should only last for a period of time. I don’t think that should be a two-month holdover. You know what I’m saying? I think at that time it was hurtful and probably caused a bit of a problem for a period of time, but like I said, that’s been two months ago, and I think we should have been able to turn the page on that and get to a new place. I think in today’s game that’s so behind that we can’t look at that.”

An MLB.com report that Kemp had “a disagreement … with a member of the coaching staff in the dugout while discussing a game situation Saturday,” combined with Torre’s on-the-record comments Tuesday that he wouldn’t have necessarily put Kemp in the starting lineup for today’s game if Kemp hadn’t approached him, makes it seem logical that Kemp’s benching was related to a clubhouse issue. Stewart was limited in addressing that, but emphatic that Kemp is not taking things for granted.

“The truth is, whatever it is that has taken place with the coaching staff and with Joe, my guess would be that those things are going to be behind [Kemp],” Stewart said. “I’m not at liberty to talk about what goes on in that capacity. That would be something I’m sure that if Matt wanted to talk about it, he would have, and he didn’t.

“Joe is the manager,” Stewart added, “and with that comes a lot of responsibility for 24 other guys, which Matt and I both understand, which is also the reason Matt has really had no outward complaints toward what Joe has done.

“We’ve talked about it, and I think the conclusion we’ve come to is that there can be and there have been misconceptions of Matt. I’ve read it so many times and I’ve heard it so many times that he walks around as if he doesn’t care. That, I can guarantee you, is the furthest thing from the truth.”

Stewart said that Kemp will continue to work with Dodgers coach Don Mattingly on his hitting, but also implied that he needs to tune out some other advice so that he doesn’t get overwhelmed.

“I’ve never seen him ever not open to instruction,” Stewart said. “You have to be careful when things are going bad to being open to too much instruction. There’s a fine line in there. What I’ve learned in this game is that people have a way of feasting on other individuals when you’re in a weak moment. Matt’s smart enough to understand what’s helpful and what’s not, [but] in this game, when you’re in a down period, getting opinions and instruction from everyone can be worse than no instruction at all.

“That’s not talking about the coaching staff. I’m sure he’s gotten calls from different people around the league, and God knows I’ve been a part of that problem, too.”

Stewart also claimed, in what might be an unpopular viewpoint, that even though the 25-year-old Kemp has now been in the majors for most of the past four years, his baseball youth remains a factor.

“I can tell you from my own experience, it took me until I was 28 years old to get an idea of what I was doing in this game,” Stewart said, “and I consider myself to be a guy who played baseball for a long time, from 7 years old.

“I’ve read that we can’t use youth as an excuse. I think when you haven’t played a game for a long period of time, or as long a period of time as some of his teammates, there are still going to be some things Matt is going to learn about the game and learn about himself.

“This sport is not an easy sport, even for veteran players. There is always something around the corner, people will tell you. … For a guy who hasn’t played a lot of baseball, and I’m speaking of Matt, and to have as much success as he did coming into the league – it’s been a gradual success, but I don’t think anyone can look back and say this guy hasn’t played well in any year – and then to run into a wall as he has this year, that’s a difficult process for anybody. He has struggled. Sometimes that manifests itself in different ways … but you can never accuse him of not trying to play the best that he can.”

There is no physical issue to explain Kemp’s struggles that Stewart knows of.

“Base stealing and baserunning, there’s an art to that, and I think in time he’s going to learn different techniques. Baseball makes adjustments, and Matt was sneaking up on some people before, and now baseball is aware of him and they’re doing different things to do exactly what they’re doing, which is to cut him down while he’s trying to steal a base. There are some things technique-wise that he’s going to have to learn, to put himself himself in that same category of a base stealer.”

So while Kemp remains a work-in-progress, there is reason to hope that the worst is behind him for now.

“What Matt understands clearly, and we both have had an opportunity to talk about this through the last couple of months, is that he wants to play better,” Stewart said. “My guess, and it’s a very good guess, is that this period he’s been through the last month and a half to two months is just that, a period, and eventually he is going to start hitting as he’s capable.”