Mar 09

Farewell, Willie Davis (1940-2010)


Herb Scharfman/Getty Images
Willie Davis in 1973, his final season with the Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ all-time leader in hits, runs and total bases. Farewell, 3-Dog.

From 100 Things Dodgers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die:

“I would say to myself, ‘This is the year,’ then every time I would go back to my old way of doing things.”

Inside and outside the Dodger organization, they never seemed to stop psychoanalyzing Willie Davis. No matter what he did — whether it was hitting 21 homers while stealing 32 bases in 1962, or moving up the franchise leaderboard (he remains first all-time in Los Angeles history in plate appearances, hits, total bases, triples and extra-base hits) — second-guessing was ongoing, acceptance grudging. The focus inevitably turned to Davis’ internal struggle as a ballplayer, his identity crisis.

“People have been saying for several years that if Willie Davis ever put all his talents together he would be an outstanding ballplayer. The trouble is nobody could ever convince Willie,” Dan Hafner of the Los Angeles Times wrote just before the 1968 season.

Around the time he first came up as a 20-year-old in 1960, some called Davis the second coming of Willie Mays. Those who saw him run insisted that he was faster than basestealing king Maury Wills. But the combination of Davis’ underwhelming offensive numbers following that ’62 season and his endless tinkering with his batting stance kept him under scrutiny for the entire decade.

“Willie, you see, did imitations,” wrote Jim Murray. “The only way you could tell it wasn’t Stan Musial was when he popped up. But Willie’s repertoire included Ted Williams, Billy Williams, Babe Ruth, Babe Herman (usually it came out more like Babe Phelps). He had more shticks than a Catskill comic. He wasn’t a ballplayer, he was a chameleon. Sometimes, he imitated three different guys in one night. None of them was Willie Davis. ‘Willie,’ Buzzie Bavasi used to ask him, ‘Why don’t you arrange it so that somebody imitates you?’”

Even when Davis rolled out a 31-game hitting streak in the late summer of 1969 – the longest streak in baseball since Stan Musial in 1950, baseball held its breath.

“First he tried to be Stan Musial and then Ernie Banks and he would imitate every hot hitter that came along,” Montreal manager Gene Mauch told Ross Newhan of the Times. “Now he’s simply Willie Davis and he’s damn exciting. If he goes 0-for-10 and changes, he’ll be a darn fool.”

Even his teammates, the guys he won two World Series titles with, were left unsatisfied.

“Willie Davis, throughout the 1960s, was regarded as a huge disappointment, a player who never played up to his perceived ability,” historian/statistician Bill James wrote. “As John Roseboro said, ‘He has never hit .330 in his career. But he should have.’”

But James goes on to make the point that however vexing Davis was, he was judged too harshly, with contemporaries not appreciating the difficult hitting conditions he played in. The mid-1960s in general, and Dodger Stadium in particular, depressed offense considerably.

“Davis was a terrific player,” James said. “True, he didn’t walk, and he was not particularly consistent – but his good years, in context, are quite impressive. … He should not be regarded as a failure, merely because he had to play his prime seasons in such difficult hitting conditions.”

After the 1973 season, Davis still had enough value to be traded to Montreal for reliever Mike Marshall, who would win the NL Cy Young Award for the Dodgers in ‘74. But Davis played for seven teams (including two in Japan) in his final six seasons, stability having left his baseball life forever.

Mar 09

DeWitt to be named starting 2B next week?

The Dodgers plan to name their starting second baseman when the team reunites after the Taiwan trip, manager Joe Torre told reporters today — and Blake DeWitt is closer to winning the job.

Rockies at Dodgers, 12:05 p.m.
Today’s Lineup
Rafael Furcal, SS
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Manny Ramirez, DH
Ronnie Belliard, 3B
Blake DeWitt, 2B
Xavier Paul, LF
Brad Ausmus, C
(Hiroki Kuroda, P)

“Blake’s doing a good job,” Torre said. “I haven’t seen enough defensively, offensively I see what you see. He’s special, he played winter ball, he’s done so much in a short time here. He’s a big league player.”

While in Taiwan, Torre will stay in communication with top lieutenant Don Mattingly and the other Dodger coaches for reports on what’s happening Stateside.

Other notes:

  • Casey Blake is expected to return to action Wednesday.
  • The starting pitchers on the Taiwan trip will be Eric Stults, Josh Towers and Charlie Haeger.
  • Torre plans for relievers Jonathan Broxton, George Sherrill and Hong-Chih Kuo to get “eight or nine innings” of game work before the season.
  • Torre on James Loney: “He needs to be more familiar with what he can do offensively. He pretty much reinvented himself in the second half last year and it paid off. Eventually I think he can hit 20 home runs.”
  • While Loney is in Taiwan, Garret Anderson will play some first base in Arizona.
Mar 08

Notes before bedtime

Casey Blake left today’s game early because of back soreness, while bullpen candidate Cory Wade will be out for two weeks following a cortisone shot to treat his problematic right shoulder. Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has details.

Joe Torre had praise today for rookies Josh Lindblom and Carlos Monasterios. Torre said Monasterios “has a good changeup – he seems to keep the ball down.”

* * *

  • Listen to the mellow sounds of the Dodgers’ first home run of the spring.
  • At this point, it wouldn’t surprise me if one of the McCourts tried to hire Clarence Darrow or William Jennings Bryan. (Forgive me for thinking about an “Inherit the Windbags” headline, just for a moment.)
  • The 1975 Dodger starting rotation is by one measure the most dominant of the past half-century, finds Steve Lombardi of Stat of the Day. Led by Andy Messersmith, Doug Rau, Don Sutton and Burt Hooton and supported by Rick Rhoden and Al Downing, the group had 124 starts with a Game Score of at least 50.
  • Josh Suchon is doing play-by-play of the Dodgers’ Spring Training game Tuesday, broadcast live on Prime Ticket and tape-delayed on MLB Network, before going on the Taiwan trip. His KABC AM 790 colleague Ken Levine will do Wednesday’s game.  (Levine’s post has great anecdotes about past exhibition broadcasts).
  • Blue Heaven finds on auction a scorecard from the first baseball game at Brooklyn’s Washington Park, May 5, 1884.
  • Josh Wilker. ‘Nuf said.
Mar 08

A.J. Ellis’ alarm goes off (as imagined by me)


US Presswire
A.J. Ellis

I’m up. I’m awake.

I’m the starting catcher of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Dodgers at Giants,
12:05 p.m.

Today’s Lineup
Rafael Furcal, SS
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Manny Ramirez, DH
James Loney, 1B
Casey Blake, 3B
Blake DeWitt, 2B
Reed Johnson, LF
A.J. Ellis, C
(Chad Billingsley, P)

I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. Russell Martin, it seems, will probably be out past Opening Day – though these things are unpredictable.  The fans and the media are assuming the worst, but you never know when good fortune will blindside them.

And it would be good fortune if Martin made it back by Opening Day.  He is the best catcher in the organization, despite all the bloom off his rose. He’s still the man. It’s best for the team if he’s healthy, and what’s best for the team matters to me most.

But this morning, and the next morning, and however many mornings after that, it’s me.  Even when Brad Ausmus’ name is written in the lineup, it’s me. Until Martin comes back, or unless the Dodgers get someone else – and I believe ’em when they say they’re not planning on doing that – it’s me.

It’s me.

I’m turning 29 on April 9 – four days after Opening Day. I’m gonna be 30 in a year. That’s old, man.  I signed with the Dodgers almost seven years ago, drafted in the 18th round from Austin Peay. Seven years in the pros, and I’m the guy they say has one hit in the majors.  I’m the guy they say can draw a walk – but only in the minors. In the majors, this is how it’s supposed to go: They don’t fear my power, and they strike me out every time.

I can call a good game, but the fans won’t care about that if I don’t hit. They say the fans appreciate a good attitude, but that appreciation wears off. People are a little ticked off with Martin, because he was a disappointment last year and because they think he’s bulked himself right onto the injury list. But if I don’t hit, Martin will be forgiven. And I’ll be back in the minors before I’m 30 – maybe for good.

It’s all pretty overwhelming – the increased responsibility combined with the increased expectations. The stakes are the biggest they’ve ever been. Here I am in the spotlight – for once – and there’s going to be at least one moment when I want to slink backstage again. People say I can’t be the guy, and maybe they’re right.

But I get to try. My whole life, dreaming of this moment. And now it’s here. I get to try to be the man.

One game at a time, one at-bat at a time, one pitch at a time, I get to try.

That’s pretty awesome.

Mar 07

Dodger Thoughts Oscar chat

With today a total washout, on the field as well as in the trainer’s room, let’s gather everyone who isn’t a New York viewer of Cablevision for an 82nd Annual Academy Awards chat and pick-the-winners pool. The ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m.

Nominees are here. We used do an Oscar pool at my old Screen Jam blog at Baseball Toaster – I don’t know if there’s interest here, but would love to see your picks in the comments. Here are the guidelines – please total your own points when you’re done:

4 points: Picture

3 points: Lead and supporting actor and actress, director, adapted and original screenplay, animated feature, documentary feature, foreign language film

2 points: Art direction, cinematography, costume design, film editing, makeup, original score, original song, sound editing, sound (sound mixing), visual effects

1 point: Documentary short, animated short film and live-action short film

Tiebreaker: Time of day that the telecast ends in Los Angeles.

If you’ve been following the best picture race, you know that it’s considered a tossup between “Avatar” and “The Hurt Locker.”  Neither would have my personal vote. “Avatar” was entertaining (astounding in all the places you’d expect) but had no emotional impact, while “The Hurt Locker” just struck me as a series of well-produced anecdotes without being deeply revelatory. Guy who defuses bombs in hellish spot and is just a little crazy doesn’t break enough new ground for me.

It’s been tough for me to decide what my favorite movie of the year was. There were several that I admired greatly and found affecting, including (but not limited to) nominees “Precious,” “Up in the Air,” “Inglorious Basterds” and “A Serious Man.” The marriage montage in “Up” is probably the single best sequence in the movies of 2009. And I continually found myself frustrated that “Sugar” did not get more attention. This film was absolutely one of the finest of the year – in my top five without a doubt. That it was a baseball movie makes it all the more surprising, since it’s so easy for a baseball movie to fail.  But even with the pedigree of the filmmakers of “Half Nelson,” “Sugar” just couldn’t get off the ground for awards season.

Of the nominees, I find myself more and more coming back to “An Education,” which was deeply moving and engrossing – with a radiant performance from Carey Mulligan, who won’t win the lead actress Oscar but would also get my vote among the nominees I saw.

There are two Oscar favorites that I’m completely on board with. One is Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart.”  Outstanding and underrated actor giving just a terrific performance, and I couldn’t have been happier about it. The competition in the category is tough, but the Oscar really has to go to him. Secondly, I don’t know how Mo’Nique wouldn’t get the supporting actress Oscar for her work in “Precious” – I don’t think that race is even close.

Christoph Waltz has won all the pre-Oscar supporting actor honors for “Inglorious Basterds,” but I’d be fine if Woody Harrelson had the out-of-nowhere upset for “The Messenger.” Similarly, I enjoyed “Up,” but would be even happier if “Coraline” won for animated film. (I’m still pouting that “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” wasn’t nominated.)

I’ll cut off my own thoughts there, but if you want more from an ESPNLosAngeles.com writer – and why wouldn’t you? – check out Steve Mason’s Oscar picks. For following the Oscars online, in addition to chatting here, check out Variety’s coverage, along with the live blog at GreenCine led by Dodger Thoughts commenter CraigUnderdog.

Mar 07

MRI on Russell Martin encouraging, he says

Following up on a few items from last night …

Dodgers at Cubs,
12:05 p.m.

Today’s Lineup
Xavier Paul, LF
Jamey Carroll, SS
Blake DeWitt, 2B
Reed Johnson, CF
Brian Giles, DH
Nick Green, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Russ Mitchell, 1B
Jason Repko, RF
(Clayton Kershaw, P)

Russell Martin says his MRI showed only a strain, according to Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Let’s hope he does not try to conceal anything more.

Martin told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com: “They said I have a little strain somewhere, either the lower abdomen or the groin area in the muscles that connect the hip, abdomen and groin.”

Update: This Gurnick paragraph doesn’t sound quite as good.

Martin’s discomfort is in the same general area that plagued former Dodgers infielder Tony Abreu, who first underwent a sports hernia operation, but ultimately needed arthroscopic surgery to repair torn hip labrum.

* * *

Dodger Thoughts commenter Bumsrap pointed out overnight that on days the Dodgers start Rafael Furcal, Andre Ethier, James Loney and Blake DeWitt, it would be hard for opponents to stack righty relievers against the Dodgers, even if the team has no lefty pinch-hitters.

Still, the Dodgers are looking for ways to save room for a lefty. Weather permitting, Jamey Carroll is getting a start at shortstop today (while Nick Green plays third), so the Dodgers are at least entertaining the option of having Carroll be the backup shortstop in April.

Brian Giles gets his first start of the year, but won’t play in the field.

* * *

  • Russ Mitchell, who made a fine catch in foul territory Saturday on behalf of Eric Gagne, gets the start at first.
  • Jason Repko is batting ninth on a day that features at most one regular Dodger starter.
  • Tony Jackson noticed Garret Anderson in a long conversation with Russ Ortiz and tweeted, “I wonder if the words ‘we couldn’t believe Dusty took you out’ have been spoken.”
  • Baseball players from four elementary schools in Taiwan will sing the national anthem before the Dodgers’ first two games there later this week, according to FocusTaiwan.

* * *

It got busy over here overnight, so here are the in-case-you-missed-’ems:

Mar 07

For comparison: The St. Louis Cardinals No. 5 starter competition

Want a peek at another pennant contender’s No. 5 starter competition? Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a snapshot of who’s giving it a go for the St. Louis Cardinals:

  • 2009 reliever Kyle McClellan (no career major-league starts)
  • Veteran Rich Hill (who has 77 1/3 innings and a 6.87 ERA the past two seasons)
  • 22-year-old rookie Lance Lynn (2.92 ERA in AA in 2009)
  • and 23-year-old Jaime Garcia (37 2/3 minor-league innings last year, following surgery).

And that’s with mystery factor Brad Penny as your No. 4 starter.

Add comparisons: Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin (1.92 ERA, 74 baserunners in 61 innings) is moving on from his own end-of-season disappointment, writes Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch. Franklin, however, turned 37 Friday and is more than 11 years older than Jonathan Broxton.

Mar 06

Eric Gagne’s Dodger return: Welcome to the Enchanted Tiki Room

There were lots of tidbits from today’s Spring Training game, even though the Dodgers lost. But the one that might stick with people the most is Eric Gagne’s return in a Dodger uniform.

After all the reports I heard that Gagne looked starkly thinner – I was half-expecting Sally Struthers to make an appeal on his behalf – my view of him on TV was that the difference wasn’t so noticeable. Of course, when you’re dealing with baggy uniforms, who knows?

But although Gagne didn’t get hit hard, he did get hit. He didn’t have any strikeouts, and he allowed himself to get dinked and donked for two runs on three hits. None of this matters as far as what he’ll have in 2010 to offer the team or not. My only interest really was in recollecting the Gagne experience, and this certainly wasn’t it (not that I was expecting much).

And still, I was happy to see him, and happy for the reminders that floated through my head of his previous Dodger career.

Gagne told Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com that he was a “little off mechanically” but “felt really good physically.”

* * *

James McDonald and Jeff Weaver had frustrating spring debuts for the Dodgers, but Eric Stults and Russ Ortiz cruised in their two innings. Manny Ramirez had a single, double and walk to give him an .833 on-base percentage after two days. Blake DeWitt is 2 for 3 with two walks after a perfect two plate appearances today.

“Stults was good,” Dodger manager Joe Torre said. “I thought he mixed his pitches well. I thought he did a nice job, as did Russ Ortiz.

“(James McDonald) just wasn’t throwing strikes. Wasn’t throwing strikes with his offspeed pitch, and just didn’t look like he was locating. Even when he was throwing strikes, it didn’t look like he was throwing them in the place he wanted to throw them. He’s been fine. He’s been throwing the ball good; he’s been working on some stuff. As they say, we’ll see.”

The Dodgers are still looking for their first Spring Training triple or home run. And with rain in the forecast for Sunday’s game against the Cubs in Mesa, they might still be looking.

* * *

Who would have a copy handy of the 1966 Kansas City A’s media guide? Baseball Nerd Keith Olbermann would, and he uses it to render tall Rick Monday’s tale that he was given uniform No. 104 at Spring Training that year.

* * *

I wanted to point you to a feature I did for Variety on one of my favorite blogs – Earl Pomerantz: Just Thinking … if you haven’t been there yet, it’s definitely worth a visit.

Mar 06

Torre talks about going without lefty on bench – isn’t this unthinkable?

Dodger manager Joe Torre says he is contemplating going without a left-handed hitter on the bench, according to Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.  I can’t believe it. I can’t believe any manager would do it. It puts your team at such a disadvantage, by allowing opponents to throw their best right-handed relievers against you at will.

But it’s true that the Dodgers have basically put themselves behind the right-handed 8-ball by signing non-southpaws Jamey Carroll, Nick Green, Ronnie Belliard and Reed Johnson this offseason. And with the latest news that Anderson won’t be ready to face live pitching for at least a week, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com – along with ongoing health concerns about Brian Giles and Doug Mientkiewicz, and the team’s reluctance to make the inexperienced Xavier Paul their lefty off the bench – the Dodgers have to at least plan for the possibility that come Opening Day, they will have no lefty options better than their righty ones.

Torre faces a problem because, as was noted when the team was signing Johnson, the Dodgers don’t have room for 12 pitchers and a lefty bench player unless a) Blake DeWitt starts the season in Albuquerque or b) the team does something it went out of its way to avoid in 2009, by making a non-shortstop the backup to Rafael Furcal. (Remember, the Dodgers kept Juan Castro as a backup basically all of last season, and that was with Mark Loretta having more shortstop experience than Jamey Carroll has.)

Even though DeWitt is off to a nice start after two Spring Training games, he’s still got a ways to go before the starting second base job is his.  But if he wins it, the Dodgers would face such a roster crunch that the next most logical choice might be to cut Belliard, rather than go without a lefty pinch-hitter. After all, Belliard (whose contract isn’t officially guaranteed yet) is really only with the team in case DeWitt needs more seasoning.

If Giles or Mientkiewicz were healthy, I’d recommend keeping them over Belliard. However, Belliard projects to be better against righties than the over-the-hill Anderson, so choosing Anderson over Belliard is a bit unsavory.

A different solution would be to go with 11 pitchers, but as I said all last year, the Dodgers really do have a pitching staff that benefits from a 12th man. Maybe someone should run the numbers, but I think the cushion the seventh reliever provides helps the team more than a sixth bench player would.

The Dodgers are going to have to bite one of these bullets, and after shooting through all the different options, the best one might be to go without a true backup shortstop. With Furcal looking much healthier this year, backup shortstop will be one of the team’s lower priorities come Opening Day. If Furcal gets hurt, I’d much rather see Carroll at shortstop at the end of a close game than see a righty batter against a tough righty reliever. Neither Green nor Chin-Lung Hu would be likely to help the team more than even Anderson would.

The question is whether Green or Hu’s defense makes either a better choice for the roster than Belliard. I do think, if DeWitt starts at second base, that’s where the choice would be.

If the Dodgers do the heretofore unthinkable and keep an all-righty bench, I’d bet the house it doesn’t last more than two weeks. A team should have more than one left-handed hitter on the bench. Having none, strategically, is just a nightmare.

Mar 06

McCourt meets the press and presses the flesh

Dodger owner Frank McCourt spoke with a group of reporters today. Michael Becker of the Press-Enterprise has the transcript; it doesn’t appear he said anything of note. (In case you missed it, here’s a link to the Dodger Thoughts interview with him.)

ESPN the Magazine’s Molly Knight said that when McCourt was mingling earlier with fans at Camelback Ranch, they offered him nothing but kindness. No boos rang out. Y’all missed your chance …

In case you were wondering, I had almost no reaction to Friday night’s news from Bill Shaikin of the Times that the McCourts are spending an estimated $19 million on divorce-related legal fees. It’s a ridiculous amount of money, but I don’t assume that any money they’re spending on lawyers would go into the team.

Mar 06

Dodgers await results of Russell Martin MRI

Soreness in his lower right abdomen drove Dodger catcher Russell Martin to an MRI exam today. As Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com reports (emphasis mine):

Martin was scheduled to be examined by Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache, but no results were expected until late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

Dodgers manager Joe Torre said Martin, a former All-Star, had felt pain in his stomach for a few days but didn’t tell club officials until Saturday because he didn’t think it was anything to worry about.

“Evidently, it couldn’t have been too bad the first few days,” Torre said. “He just felt it was part of the normal spring training discomfort.” …

Jackson, by the way, also has a story on Make-a-Wish Dodger Chris Ramirez.

Mar 06

More than a game …

Lots of emotional moments going on …

White Sox at Dodgers,
12:05 p.m.

Today’s Lineup
Rafael Furcal, SS
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Manny Ramirez, DH
James Loney, 1B
Casey Blake, 3B
Ronnie Belliard, 2B
Xavier Paul, LF
Brad Ausmus, C
(Eric Stults, P)
  • The Make-a-Wish foundation brought 17-year-old San Bruno resident Chris Ramirez, who has an inoperable brain tumor, to Camelback Ranch for a special day. Ken Gurnick of MLB.com has the story.
  • Cardinals reliever Trever Miller – ever so briefly a Dodger 10 years ago – ran a 10K Friday morning before Spring Training workouts began in honor of his 5-year-old daughter, Grace, who was born “born prematurely with an extremely rare chromosomal disorder that left her with two holes in her heart and numerous developmental problems,” writes Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  • Tonight is the Ante Up for Autism fundraiser in Arizona, hosted by Matt Kemp and his agent, former Dodger Dave Stewart.
  • Approximately 1,500 people attended the funeral of Mater Dei High School softball star Brianne Matthews, who committed suicide Feb. 25. Melissa Rohlin of the Times writes about it.
  • Friday in the Angels clubhouse, bronze statues were presented to pitcher Jered Weaver and Rookie League manager Tom Kotchman, winners of the first annual Nick Adenhart pitcher of the year and Preston Gomez minor-league manager of the year awards, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Times.

Elsewhere …

  • Good reports from the keystone: Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com on Blake DeWitt; Dylan Hernandez of the Times on Rafael Furcal.
  • It doesn’t look like fans will have to worry about Kemp batting eighth again. Joe Torre told The Associated Press that he thinks Kemp can thrive in the No. 2 spot. “I think that second spot has changed its personality a lot,” Torre said. “Years ago when you had Pee Wee Reese hitting second, his job was to move the runner and stuff. Now you want to move the runner all the way around to score.”
Mar 04

Notes for a Spring Training afternoon

In inscrutable order …

  • I’m continuing to follow the rehab progress of Arizona pitcher Brandon Webb closely, partly because he’s on a division rival, partly because I imagined a scenario where Webb might have become a Dodger. Anyway, Webb described himself as “stagnant,” according to The Associated Press, but it’s better for him than having an actual setback.
  • One contender made it through this year’s version of Dodger Idol. Ricky Rivas of El Paso Texas, who pitched for El Paso in independent ball last year, was signed to a minor-league contract after showing his skills at the Dodgers’ annual open tryout. Tommy Lasorda, Logan White and DeJon Watson were among those judging.
  • To encourage carpooling, the Dodgers’ AAA affiliate in Albuquerque grants free parking to cars containing at least four people. Fees of $5 for other cars — which apparently is an increase — will go “directly toward improvements to the entire Sports Complex area … “
  • Buried in this story by Ken Gurnick of MLB.com about Garret Anderson’s impact on the bench is a note that backup shortstop candidate Nick Green is playing “without limitations” despite offseason back surgery.
  • While Brian Giles looks increasingly retirement-bound, Doug Mientkiewicz reasserted that he thinks his shoulder problems shouldn’t prevent him from playing, according to Gurnick.
  • Orel Hershiser has joined ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcast team, working with Jon Miller and Joe Morgan.
  • Speaking of Dodger greats: Ramon Martinez — the beloved one — is at Camelback Ranch as an instructor. See for yourself.
  • This Baseball Prospectus piece by Shawn Hoffman corroborates my view that the nasty payroll projections contained in a recent court filing by Jamie McCourt are nothing to be concerned about. “Unless they’re all on some kind of psychoactive drug cocktail, or possibly preparing for the next round of MLB collusion, there’s no way those projections are anything but a sales tool, pitching an investor on what they think he’ll want to hear,” Hoffman writes.
  • Chad Moriyama of Memories of Kevin Malone looks at minor league prospects with high strikeout totals and doesn’t find much that would make one feel good about the future of Dodger farmhand Kyle Russell.
  • Fifty years ago today, according to the Daily Mirror, the Dodgers were all excited about pitching prospect Phil Ortega (Filimeno Coronado Ortega for long).