May 05

You traded Bob Welch for what?


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The Dodgers traded 31-year-old Bob Welch (pictured above in 1983) after a 1987 season in which he had a 3.22 ERA and 196 strikeouts in 251 2/3 innings.

Former Dodger general manager Fred Claire was interviewed at length by Albert Lyu of FullCountPitch.com about how the 1988 World Series championship Dodgers were constructed. It’s a good read – including news that the Dodgers had seriously contemplated a Pedro Guerrero-for-Kirk Gibson trade before Gibson became a free agent.

I can’t help wondering what the reaction would have been on Dodger Thoughts to the news that Bob Welch and two relievers had been sent away for Alfredo Griffin, Jay Howell and Jesse Orosco.

  • Joe Torre told reporters today Charlie Haeger would start for the Dodgers on Saturday. Carlos Monasterios is in the bullpen for now. When Jeff Weaver is activated, John Ely might be optioned to the minors no matter how well he does in his start Thursday.
  • Torre said that Manny Ramirez would be activated from the disabled list Saturday.
  • Doug Mientkiewicz signed a minor-league contract with Florida, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America.
  • If you have a 3D TV and subscribe to DirecTV, your first chance to see a live major-league game in 3D at home is now looking like the Yankees at Mariners on July 10, according to Stuart Levine of Variety.
  • Ernie Harwell’s passing Tuesday means this is a good time to see, if you haven’t, Elizabeth Merrill’s ESPN.com piece on Harwell saying goodbye.
May 04

Kershaw LVII: Kershawwww, freak out!


Elsa/Getty Images
New Dodger backup infielder Nick Green had an .804 OPS last year with Boston through June 21, then a .494 after.

Bob Timmermann has a great interview with Josh Wilker of Cardboard Gods about his new book at Native Intelligence.

Blue Heaven passes along a great overhead shot of the Dodgers’ 1942 Spring Training site in Daytona Beach, Florida.

May 04

Farewell, Ernie Harwell

The legendary Ernie Harwell, the former Dodger and longtime Tiger broadcaster, passed away today at age 92. He was scheduled to be awarded the Vin Scully Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Broadcasting by Fordham University on Wednesday.

We’ll miss you, Ernie.

May 04

Rafael Furcal officially heads to disabled list


Steve Mitchell/US Presswire
Rafael Furcal

The Dodgers officially placed Rafael Furcal on the disabled list and chose to call up Nick Green instead of Chin-Lung Hu to take his place on the roster, according to their daily press notes. Furcal will be eligible to come off the DL on May 13. Cory Wade was moved to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Green on the 40-man roster.

Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness argues why Hu should have gotten the call.

May 04

James McDonald tries to make the case for a callup

John Ely is expected to start Thursday for the Dodgers, but is James McDonald ready to reclaim his roster spot? McDonald, who entered the season as a potential member of the starting rotation, is back from his fingernail-induced hiatus and takes a 3.57 ERA into his start today for Albuquerque against Memphis at 5:05 p.m.

McDonald has 16 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings for the Isotopes, but has allowed 25 baserunners despite his five innings of no-hit ball last week. On the other hand, outside of the one-inning start that sent him to the DL, McDonald has allowed four runs and 20 baserunners in 16 2/3 innings (2.16 ERA). The 25-year-old’s career major-league ERA is 3.65.

May 03

Play ball …

My wife gave me the most extraordinary anniversary present. It was a 96-page, hardcover photo album (with accompanying text) celebrating our courtship and first 10 years of marriage and nearly eight years as parents. For a guy who finds self-pity less than a hop, skip and jump away, it was like being handed my very own “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

The words she wrote were obviously sentimental and loving, but they didn’t hide the struggles we’ve had or the disappointments we have encountered. Sometimes we make bad choices; sometimes we aren’t good enough. Sometimes we do everything right, but it just isn’t meant to be. Marriage isn’t one World Series championship after another, and within it there are frustrations large and small.

But in the most mundane moments can come the most diabolically precious memories.

When I paged through that photo album and saw so many dagger-to-my-heart images piled on top of each other, I was staggered. And it was amazing how many of them occurred on the most uneventful days, days that had no meaning other than bringing smiles to our faces then, and now, and in the future. It’s a book of tear-dropped happiness, not a book of triumphs.

When we’re up against it, when the dreams and peace of mind are deferred, we have to remind ourselves (some days I’m better than this than others) that the little things add up. It isn’t done fairly, and the calculus isn’t comprehensible. But we have to remember. I have to remember. Otherwise, when the time comes, I’ll go straight into missing them without having appreciated them.

May 03

Former Dodger Dave Roberts in treatment for lymphoma


Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Before being sent to postseason glory in Boston, Dave Roberts stole 33 bases in 34 attempts as a Dodger in 2004.

Dave Roberts, who ranks 10th in Los Angeles Dodger history in stolen bases, is suffering from Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Still only 37, Roberts has had two rounds of chemo and says his prognosis is good.

With Roberts, the question always comes up about why he was traded by the Dodgers. The Dodgers entered the 2004 stretch run with an overload of outfielders: Steve Finley, Jayson Werth, Milton Bradley, Juan Encarnacion and Shawn Green. Dodger general manager Paul DePodesta basically did Roberts a favor by sending him somewhere where he wouldn’t be buried on the bench, but DePodesta was quoted later as saying it was a trade he truly regretted.

Roberts’ last season was in 2008, and he now works for the Padres as a special assistant.

Elsewhere, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com has posted the most in-depth feature in my memory on all-time Dodger Thoughts favorite Pedro Guerrero. Guerrero dug quite a hole for himself off the field, so it’s nice to see some hopeful news about him.

May 03

Dodger Cogs and Dogs: Edition 3


Gary A. Vasquez/US Presswire
Xavier Paul congratulates Andre Ethier for the first of two home runs Sunday.

The third edition of Dodgers Cogs and Dogs was the hardest, in large part because now the injured players have become a bit more relevant than Brad Ausmus. The absences of Manny Ramirez, Rafael Furcal and Vicente Padilla, among others, complicated matters and made me revisit what exactly I was ranking. The answer: most valuable Dodgers this season to date, though if a little “what have you done for me lately” creeps in here and there, you’ll have to forgive me.

I also factored in what a player’s responsibility has been, which is why, for example, Carlos Monasterios’ sizzling ERA doesn’t place him higher.

Anyway, it’s all in good fun, at least until you get near the bottom …

5/03 . 4/19 . 4/12 . Player Comment
1 2 11 Andre Ethier Holy cow, our little “Can he beat out Juan Pierre?” has become a monster, leading the NL in OPS.
2 3 1 Hiroki Kuroda Showing what he can do when healthy, averaging seven innings per start.
3 1 5 Matt Kemp Despite the mental whiplash of last week, a major key to the team.
4 4 9 Manny Ramirez Here’s where rankings start to get tricky, but Manny superb in limited minutes.
5 6 13 Jonathan Broxton Takes the 0.00 ERA into May.
6 10 20 Clayton Kershaw Walks are crazy, but a 3.07 ERA over five starts helps.
7 8 4 Rafael Furcal Only once in his career has injured Furcal had better adjusted OPS than current 116 – in ’08, of course.
8 9 24 James Loney Is the Mark Grace version of Loney on his way?
9 11 12 Ramon Troncoso Holding himself and bullpen together: In 16 games this year, 17 baserunners allowed over 14 innings.
10 5 2 Russell Martin Slumping but still above-average this year.
11 7 6 Casey Blake See Martin.
12 12 10 Chad Billingsley Season numbers lag, but in last two starts averaging six IP, 2.25 ERA, 91.5 pitches per game.
14 13 7 Ronnie Belliard Team’s top bat off the bench so far.
15 14 14 Blake DeWitt With .408 OBP, will Joe Torre turn to him as No. 2 hitter?
16 18 21 Carlos Monasterios Despite 1.84 ERA, 18 baserunners vs. eight strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings.
17 20 8 Reed Johnson Playing as advertised, including .940 OPS vs. lefties/.571 vs. righties.
18 21 18 Jamey Carroll On base in 13 of last 26 PA, raising season OBP to .404.
19 NR NR Xavier Paul .933 OPS in 15 AB since starting call-up 0 for 5.
20 15 25 Vicente Padilla 7.06 ERA, 9.6 K/9. He’ll be the uncertain arm for the stretch run again?
21 17 15 Jeff Weaver Last pitched April 21. When he returns this week, workload should be tamer.
22 19 19 A.J. Ellis Still eminently adequate backup catcher.
23 24 17 Ramon Ortiz Future of extremely inconsistent Ortiz could depend on how Ely does in next start.
24 23 23 Brad Ausmus Now trails Ellis in 2010 hits by two, but leads in career hits by 1,562.
25 16 3 Charlie Haeger 9.49 ERA since April 14 – desperately needs to string some good innings together.
26 NR NR John Ely If nothing else, the kid knows how to play leapfrog.
27 26 26 George Sherrill Just when you think you’re back in, they pull you back out.
28 25 NR Jon Link Savior after his first game, sinner after his second.
29 27 22 Russ Ortiz Highlight: Pitched two shutout innings to preserve tie in Pittsburgh on second game of season.
30 22 16 Garret Anderson Adjusted OPS of (-1)! His .156 OBP, .214 slugging below lowest expectations. HR in Cin. only hit in past 26 AB.
May 02

Heroes aplenty as Dodgers romp over Pirates

The magnificent Andre Ethier is the Dodger cover boy these days, a fact you’ll see reflected in Monday’s edition of Dodger Cogs and Dogs. Either homered in his third straight game – homered twice today, in fact – and has an OPS this year of 1.161. But in a quick post summing up today’s 9-3 romp over Pittsburgh, a big tip of the hat must go to two others.

Hiroki Kuroda cruised for eight innings, allowing one run on a walk, four singles and a double over 98 pitches to lower his 2010 ERA to 2.08. Meanwhile, Blake DeWitt had his first career four-hit game, capped by a two-run double that lifted his season on-base percentage over .400 and his OPS to .767.

Kuroda seemed well-positioned to give the Dodgers their first complete game of the season, but Joe Torre brought in George Sherrill to close it out – leading to the day’s one sour moment. Sherrill allowed two runs on three hits and a walk and was bailed out by Ronald Belisario, who got the final out to end the game.

Either had an RBI single in addition to his two-run homer in the fifth and solo shot in the eighth. Matt Kemp singled, doubled, walked, scored three runs and made a diving catch in center. (He was also caught stealing for the sixth time this year on a close play). Ronnie Belliard made a great over-the-shoulder catch while playing third base. James Loney had a double and two singles to raise his home batting average to .500 (19 for 38), and reserves Xavier Paul and Jamey Carroll each had two hits.

The Dodgers are now 7-3 at home, 4-11 on the road.

May 02

Dodgers-Pirates in tiebreaker tilt

It’s May 2 – the last day of the year that the Dodgers will play the Pirates unless they meet in the National League playoffs! With the 2010 season series tied, 3-3, this one’s for all the marbles.

Hiroki Kuroda has two victories and a 4.19 ERA in 14 career daytime starts.

  • Logan White insists to Bill Shaikin of the Times that the Dodgers are being prudent with player development spending, not parsimonious.
  • Lucy is quite lucid about the Dodgers’ struggles, at It’s Time for Dodgers Baseblog (via Blue Heaven). Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness provided inspiration.
  • Also from Blue Heaven: Roy Campanella, Ralph Branca, Phil Rizzuto and Tommy Henrich are featured on the cover of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
  • Saturday at Albuquerque, Isotopes starter Josh Lindblom held Round Rock to one run over four innings, then gave up five hits in a four-run fifth. Lindblom allowed 10 hits in all while striking out seven, all in 94 pitches. Albuquerque lost, 12-7.
  • While Jon Link gave up another two runs at Albuquerque, Justin Miller pitched a shutout sixth and has an ERA of 2.13 with 13 strikeouts and 13 baserunners in 12 2/3 innings.
  • Chris Withrow allowed one earned run over six innings in Chattanooga’s 4-2 loss to Tennessee. Withrow allowed three hits and three walks while striking out six. Afer giving up seven runs in 2 1/3 innings in his previous outing, Withrow lowered his ERA to 7.04.
  • Trayvon Robinson, who has been struggling this season at AA, had his second two-hit game (single and triple) in a row for the Lookouts to raise his OPS to .747.
  • Inland Empire outfielder Kyle Russell also singled and tripled in the ’66ers 8-5 defeat. Russell is on-basing .431 and slugging .598 in 102 plate appearances, with 25 strikeouts. Russell will be 24 in June.
  • Blake Smith, a 2009 second-round pick, hit two homers for Great Lakes in an 8-6 win. Brett Wallach alllowed four runs in his poorest start of the season, his ERA rising to 2.81.
  • Did you know Angel Berroa was now farming for the Giants?

Update: Joe Torre told reporters today that he did not expect Vicente Padilla back before June. Thursday’s starter has not been decided. Torre added that Manny Ramirez and Jeff Weaver will begin rehab assignments Tuesday in San Bernadino.

May 01

Monasterios provides relief as Dodger starter, 5-1


Gus Ruelas/AP
Carlos Monasterios allowed three baserunners in each of the first two innings, but just one run.

Fluke or find? Carlos Monasterios continues to make the question an intriguing one.

From a town called Obscurity come the man who continues to make it across the tightrope when the Dodgers need him to, Monasterios this time pitching four innings of one-run ball – while also keying a game-changing three-run third inning with his first career hit – in the Dodgers’ 5-1 victory over Pittsburgh tonight.

Gus Ruelas/AP
Andrew McCutchen can only watch Andre Ethier’s third-inning drive go beyond his reach.

Working with a 75-pitch limit, Monasterios didn’t avoid trouble, giving up three hits (including a first-inning Andrew McCutchen home run) and a walk while hitting two batters in the first two innings, but he held strong in adversity. And in his final two innings, he retired six of seven batters.

In the bottom of the third, Monasterios and Russell Martin singled ahead of Andre Ethier’s three-run homer that gave the Dodgers a lead they didn’t come close to surrendering.

Ramon Ortiz succeeded Monasterios and was even more impressive, striking out five in three innings while allowing two baserunners, and Hong-Chih Kuo pitched a perfect eighth. I haven’t gotten to the Ramon Troncoso story yet, but inexplicably the righty pitched a one-hit ninth in his 16th appearance in 24 games – a 108-game pace. Yeah, this is worth exploring.

In the meantime, the Dodger bullpen, counting the nine innings tonight, has allowed one run in its past 14 2/3 innings.

Ethier and James Loney each added two doubles, and Reed Johnson had a double and a single.

May 01

Dodger outfield prospect Andrew Lambo suspended for 50 games


Los Angeles Dodgers
Andrew Lambo, shown here with Chattanooga in 2009, has been considered a potential starting Dodger left-fielder by 2012.

Andrew Lambo, ranked No. 3 among Dodger prospects in the 2010 Maple Street Press Dodger annual, was suspended for 50 games for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The violation was for a second positive test for a “drug of abuse,” rather than a performance-enhancing substance, according to Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com, who adds more details.

Lambo, a 21-year-old in his second season playing for AA Chatanooga this year, had an on-base percentage of .390 and slugging percentage of .566 (the latter fifth-best in the Southern League). He transferred from Reseda’s Cleveland High School to Newbury Park High School because of a marijuana-related incident.

Jackson also has other notes about the team here.

* * *

I’m just getting back into the swing of things after my anniversary sojourn.  Tonight’s game is basically all hands on deck for the bullpen, started by reliever Carlos Monasterios. Ramon Ortiz figures to get some action assuming Monasterios doesn’t last five innings, although Charlie Haeger, whose Dodger future is an open question and whose next start has not been officially scheduled, could also get a call before the front end of the relief corps gets into it. It would be nice if Dodger manager Joe Torre was willing to use a key reliever early in the game, if necessary, to keep it close.

It’s an interesting test for Monasterios, but Dodger fans do need to keep expectations in line. (After the past week, I suspect that won’t be a problem.)

As for who starts in Vicente Padilla’s place next, James McDonald made a push after returning from the broken-fingernail disabled list with five no-hit innings (two walks, five strikeouts) against Round Rock on Friday. Keep in mind that the Express are among the poorer-hitting Pacific Coast League teams.