Apr 06

Dodgers trade Aaron Harang for neither Ramon Martinez nor Carlos Hernandez



The Dodgers have traded Aaron Harang to the Colorado Rockies for, broadly speaking, the second coming of Rod Barajas – an old, slow catcher with perhaps some vestiges of power.

The acquisition of catcher Ramon Hernandez is much more like an NBA salary-cap maneuver than a traditional baseball trade, especially considering the Rockies immediately designated Harang for assignment. Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. parses the details.

… Hernandez has a salary of $3.2 million this season, and was designated for assignment on Mar. 29. Harang is due $7 million this season, and has an option for 2014 that could vest with at least 180⅓ innings pitched in 2013, or a buyout of $2 million.

The Rockies designated Harang for assignment immediately upon making the trade.

Counting Sunday, Mar. 31, six days of the 183-day season have lapsed. That means the Dodgers are on the hook for $3,095,082 of Hernandez’s salary, and the Rockies responsible for $6,770,492 for Harang, plus the $2 million buyout in 2014, though Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported the Dodgers would send $4.25 million to Colorado.

So, instead of having $9 million guaranteed to Harang, the Dodgers will instead pay approximately $7,574,590 ($3,095,082 for Hernandez, $229,508 for Harang, and $4.25 million to Colorado). Subtract the major league salary that would have been paid to Tim Federowicz and the Dodgers save approximately $2 million and upgraded their catching depth. …

Major League Baseball’s first Ramon Hernandez had a 3.03 ERA in 403 1/3 innings from 1967-77 (including 2.36 from 1971-75), peaking with a 1.67 ERA in 70 innings for the 1972 National League East champion Pirates.

This Ramon Hernandez has 166 home runs and a .744 OPS in 14 seasons, dipping sharply in 2012 when he had a .601 OPS in 196 plate appearances for Colorado (though he did go 3 for 4 against the Dodgers in a game last May). He turns 37 next month. Lucille IV, anyone?

Federowicz will probably remain on the Dodger roster until the team activates Chad Billingsley for his Wednesday start. It’s a sad but not altogether surprising turn for Federowicz, who essentially is enduring what current Dodger starter A.J. Ellis did in previous years – watching a veteran take the backup spot. The upside is that Federowicz, still only 25 and unlike Fernandez, the first of his name in the majors, can play regularly for Albuquerque.

I didn’t have the highest hopes for what the Dodgers would get for Harang, but I did dream that he might bring an actual bat off the bench instead of more filler. In a sense, that’s what Harang himself had become, despite the $12 million, two-year deal he signed in December 2011.

Harang leaves with two great Dodger Stadium memories – throwing six no-hit innings on July 9, 2011 and setting a team record with nine consecutive strikeouts 51 weeks ago today, on April 13, 2012.

Pirates at Dodgers, 6:10 p.m.
Kershaw CLI: Kershawrgo

Carl Crawford, LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Andre Ethier, RF
Luis Cruz, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Justin Sellers, SS
Clayton Kershaw, P

Apr 01

Happy New Year

Welcome to 2013!

I’m in the press box today, taking a day off work to freelance a piece for Sports on Earth that you’ll see tonight. In the meantime, here are some notes from Don Mattingly’s pregame session:

• Everyone seems at ease with Chris Capuano in the bullpen for now, but neither Aaron Harang nor Don Mattingly seem sold on Harang’s presence there.

“Aaron is a little bit for me someone who we’ll have to learn (about) as we go,” Mattingly said. “He’ll be a bit more of a challenge, in terms of how long it takes him to get going, how long it takes him to get loose. … I’m a little more concerned with Aaron than I am with Cap to be honest.

It didn’t sound as if Harang had really even bought into the program at this point.

“Maybe he hadn’t quite accepted it,” Mattingly said. “Now reality has hit, and we need to get down to brass tacks.”

• Mattingly likes Paco Rodriguez, the young reliever who last year became the first from the 2012 draft class to reach the majors, and he likes him not only as a guy to focus on left-handed batters.

“This guy can get righties out, too,” Mattingly said. “He’s a strike-thrower. … All our lefties for me can get lefties and righties out.”

• There is no medical watch on Carl Crawford beyond simple common sense.

“At this point, I think Carl is off the (medical) list,” Mattingly said. “That being said, we know he’s coming off major elbow surgery, and we have to pay attention.”

Mattingly also made the case that concern over Crawford’s throwing arm – never a strength of his game, the manager acknowledged – is a bit overblown.

“He’s more of a speed guy,” Mattingly said. “He gets to it quick and gets rid of it quick.  … (But) it ain’t like he can’t throw. We think he’s going to continue to get better.”

Mattingly added that Skip Schumacher “throws as good as anybody (the Dodgers have) in the outfield” and he would be the primary defensive replacement should the team feel it needs a better arm in the late innings.

• Dylan Hernandez of the Times asked Mattingly, “How did Ted Lilly react when you told him he was injured.” Mattingly smiled somewhat sheepishly for several seconds, then said, “Ned (Colletti) took care of the DL, so I’ll leave that there.”

•  ”Voila,” Mattingly said at one point in the pregame. On principle, I’m not providing the context, allowing you to imagine him as a magician.

Giants at Dodgers, 1:10 p.m.
Kershaw CL: Kershawn the Waterfront

Dodgers starting lineup
Carl Crawford, LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Andre Ethier, RF
Luis Cruz, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Justin Sellers, SS
Clayton Kershaw, P

Jul 30

Dodgers lose game but win League

Aaron Harang had a 2.60 ERA in 11 starts since May 28, but he went down hard tonight, surrendering a three-run first-inning home run to Paul Goldschmidt and a fifth-inning grand slam to Chris Johnson in the Dodgers’ 7-2 loss to Arizona.

The result allowed the Diamondbacks to creep within 3 1/2 games of Los Angeles and within four of San Francisco, which was in extra innings against the New York Mets as of this writing.

However, while dropping a game in the National League sweepstakes, the Dodgers picked up a win for those who cared about the Brandon League sweepstakes. Announced officially shortly after 10:30 p.m., Los Angeles acquired the Seattle Mariners righty reliever for minor-leaguers Leon Landry and Logan Bawcom.

League, 29, has a 3.69 career ERA and 3.63 ERA in 2012. After striking out as many as 9.2 batters per nine innings in 2009, League is down to 5.4 this season, while allowing 67 baserunners in 44 2/3 innings. He made a name for himself by saving 37 games in 2011, but that’s already a bit of ancient history. So while the Dodgers might have a little anxiety about how reliable Ronald Belisario, Javy Guerra, Josh Lindblom, Shawn Tolleson or even a recovering Matt Guerrier might be down the stretch (or about replacing any of them if they are traded), League offers another option – but not exactly offer a guaranteed solution.

The price was 2010 third-round pick Landry, a 22-year-old outfielder with a .358 on-base percentage and .559 slugging (including 26 doubles and 15 triples) in the happy-hitting California League, and Bawcom, a 23-year-old righty picked in the 17th round the same year, who has a 2.60 ERA and 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings for Double-A Chattanooga.

I’m not sure either prospect wasn’t expendable in a pennant drive or expected to be a significant contributor to the Dodgers in the future, and you never know when a guy is going to have a two-month hot streak like George Sherrill in 2009, so the question I would have is less about who won tonight’s deal and more about whether Landry or Bawcom might have had a role in a potentially bigger deal for the Dodgers Tuesday or down the road.

Jul 04

What so proudly we hailed

Pretty glorious night all around. The five Weismans didn’t get out the door until 6 p.m., but we were in our seats by the start of the second inning, saw a svelte, 144-minute 4-1 Dodger victory punctuated by five strikeouts of the final six Cincinnati batters, took in one of the best fireworks shows at Dodger Stadium in years (a perk of new ownership?) and were out of the stadium and back at home less than four hours after we had left. It’s 10:15 p.m. as I start typing this, and the kids are tucked away in their beds.

So sure, we only heard the Dodgers’ three-run first inning on the car radio, which started with four consecutive hits at the top of the order, meaning that we only witnessed two Dodger base knocks after we arrived. And sure, Dee Gordon let the air out of his 30th stolen base of the year by dislocating his thumb. But otherwise, like I said, glorious and svelte.

Assuming Gordon goes on the disabled list, as Ken Gurnick points out is likely in the above-linked story, your starting shortstop for the next two or three weeks is probably Luis Cruz, who went 2 for 3 with a walk to raise his three-game on-base percentage to .400. That will please those who had grown tired of Gordon, but the Roadrunner had upped his OBP in his past 12 games to .346 while stealing 10 bases in 11 attempts. Aside from the two errors against the Mets, you started to see improvement in Gordon if you were open to it, so it seems a shame to lose him now.

Certainly, this is nothing new for the Dodgers, and the epilogue to the Gordon saga is that when he went out with his injury in the eighth inning, it was Mark Ellis pinch-running for him in his first action since May 18. Ellis will ideally return quickly to his form of the season’s first six weeks, when he had a .373 OBP and flawless defense.

With the Giants losing again to Washington shortly after I finished my morning cereal, Los Angeles is back in first place, and five regular-season games from now, heading toward the July 31 trading deadline, could have a 2-3-4 in the lineup of Ellis, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Hard to worry about the situation at shortstop when you can fantasize about that. (And yes, you just saw me getting excited about Mark Ellis.)

Just to wrap up the night, Aaron Harang allowed only four baserunners and a run in seven innings, one of his best outings of the year, before Ronald Belisario struck out the side in the eighth  (lowering his ERA to 0.99) and Kenley Jansen fanned two in a perfect ninth to end it. After Reds star Joey Votto doubled in the first inning, he, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce combined to go 0 for 10 against Dodger pitching.

Jun 19

Harang walks eight, and it ain’t so great


Aaron Harang, who struck out nine batters in a row two months ago, had another distinctive outing tonight.

Harang walked eight batters in 3 2/3 innings at Oakland. According to Baseball-Reference.com:

Oddly, only one of the eight walkees scored. Harang, who threw 105 pitches to get 11 outs (striking out six), left with the Dodgers down, 3-0 – all three runs coming in the first inning.

Apr 14

More notes from Friday’s frolic

A.J. Ellis shows the ball used for the ninth consecutive strikeout thrown by pitcher Aaron Harang. © Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Kenley Jansen was apparently the latest Dodger to play with the flu, according to Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

… Jansen has been battling a mild case of flu in recent days, which could have accounted for the velocity drop.

“I’ve been battling the flu, but that’s not an excuse at all,” Jansen said. “You still have to make good pitches and keep us in the game and try to help the team win. That is what it’s all about.”

Both manager Don Mattingly and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt noticed the slight dropoff, but neither seemed alarmed by it. Honeycutt said it might have been due to the cold weather or illness. Mattingly said it might have been the difference in the eighth inning and the ninth, which almost anyone in baseball agrees is fairly huge except for the pitchers who actually pitch in those innings.

“It doesn’t feel any different,” Jansen said. “You have to treat the eighth inning just like it’s the ninth inning, just come in and get the job done.”

But catcher A.J. Ellis said Jansen did seem a bit out of sorts at the beginning of the inning, when he walked the first batter, Chris Denorfia.

“He was a little more tentative than I have seen him,” Ellis said. “But after that first batter, he was definitely locked back in. He came right back to strike out the next two batters on six straight pitches. Chase Headley is a good hitter, a three-hole hitter in the National League, and that pitch ended up over the middle of the plate.”

Jansen was trying to throw it in on Headley, but said it ran back over the middle. At any rate, the hope is that the velocity drop was a one-time thing — although he gave up a double to Yonder Alonso after Headley’s home run, Jansen still looked pretty unhittable in striking out the three batters he did. If it continues, though, it could become a source of alarm. …

Jackson also noted, as Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. did late Friday, the possibility of Todd Coffey going to the disabled list with a hobo knee. (That’s like a bum knee, only with a different word for bum.)

Also, bullpen coach Ken Howell is getting treatement for his diabetes, and will be replaced for the time being by organization pitching coordinator Jim Slaton.

* * *

Some more notes from Aaron Harang’s amazing night, from Elias Sports Bureau via ESPN Stats & Information:

… Three other pitchers had nine straight strikeouts in one game: Mickey Welch in 1884 (the first year in which overhand pitching was permissible), Jake Peavy in 2007 and Ricky Nolasco in 2009.

Harang tied the major-league record by recording nine strikeouts through the first three innings.

Two other players have done it, only one in the “Modern Era”:
Mickey Welch, NY Giants, August 28, 1884
Don Wilson, Houston, July 14, 1968 (G2)

Harang tied his career high with 13 strikeouts and is the first Dodgers pitcher in the last 90 seasons to have at least 13 strikeouts in a game and pitch fewer than seven innings. The last pitcher on any team to do it was Yovani Gallardo last year.

The last pitcher with exactly 13 strikeouts on Friday the 13th was Dwight Gooden on June 13, 1986 for the Mets against the Pirates.

* * *

Bryan Stow’s 13-year-old son Tyler threw out the first pitch before the Giants’ home opener, reports The Associated Press, while Bryan himself appeared on the stadium videoboard.

Giovanni Ramirez, who was mistakenly accused of beating Stow, attended his first Dodger game Tuesday, according to KCAL via the Huffington Post.

* * *

Despite what became a tumultuous hearing, federal bankruptcy court approved the sale of the Dodgers by Frank McCourt to the Guggenheim group. Bill Shaikin of the Times has all the details.

Here’s one excerpt:

… The settlement includes confidential provisions about how the league could treat revenue from a Dodgers-owned regional sports network, Bennett said. He declined to elaborate, but the provisions are believed to limit how much of the Dodgers’ television proceeds must be shared with other teams via revenue sharing.

Those conditions — and the ability of the mediator to enforce them regardless of what Selig might say — represented what Guggenheim attorney Michael Small called a “substantial component of the value proposition of the transaction.”

Guggenheim agreed to pay $2.15 billion — a record price for a sports franchise — to buy the Dodgers and half-ownership of the Dodger Stadium parking lots. McCourt, who did not have to sell the land under his settlement with MLB, gets to retain half-ownership.

“We really are concerned about the parking lot situation,” Lauria said.

Lauria said that Walter had pledged to MLB owners that he would not buy the Dodgers unless Guggenheim controlled 16,500 surface-level parking spaces — that is, no parking structures. Once the sale was announced, however, Lauria said Guggenheim refused to provide any details about how the joint venture to own the parking lots would work.

The Dodgers submitted some of those details under seal this week, and attorneys for the Los Angeles Times had asked Gross to compel the team to release the details publicly. The Dodgers instead withdrew the document and said they would release it at a later date, although Bennett said Friday the team’s lease for the lots would be extended from 25 years to 99 years. …

Dec 08

Dodgers finalize Harang contract and trade Eveland

On the same day that Aaron Harang signed a $12 million Dodger contract that will pay him $3 million in 2012 and $7 million in 2013 (with a club option for 2014 that comes with a $2 million buyout) , the Dodgers traded Dana Eveland to Baltimore.

Eveland, who allowed 36 baserunners with a 3.03 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 29 2/3 innings for Los Angeles in 2011 but was not likely to be tendered a 2012 contract, went to the Orioles in exchange for minor-leaguers Jarret Martin and outfielder Tyler Henson.

Martin, a Bakersfield native, has walked 5.9 batters per nine innings in his two-year minor-league career, but the lefthander has also struck out 8.7, so the Dodgers will see where his live arm takes him. As Chad Moriyama notes, there is some upside. Henson, an outfielder who turns 24 next week, had a .634 OPS in Triple-A this season.

Jul 09

No hits until the ninth – and suddenly, a Dodger victory


Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireAaron Harang

Twenty years ago this month, Montreal pitcher Mark Gardner no-noed the Dodgers for nine innings before losing the game on three hits in the 10th, 1-0.

Three years ago in June, the Dodgers defeated the Angels without ever getting a hit at all.

Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesDioner Navarro exults.

Today, the Dodgers came so close to duplicating one of those scenarios, then wrote a third. No-hit for 8 2/3 innings, the Dodgers got back-to-back hits by Juan Uribe and Dioner Navarro for their third straight shutout victory, 1-0.

The Dodger pitchers’ 27-inning scoreless streak is the best in the majors this season, and they have three consecutive shutouts for the first time since 1991.

Padres righty Aaron Harang, coming off the disabled list today for his first game in one month, threw six no-hit innings, walking three and striking out six on 95 pitches. After Harang left, the Dodgers threatened to score on San Diego’s bullpen thanks to errors and walks in the seventh and eighth innings, each time getting runners to first and second. But the five hitters who batted with the runner in scoring position went 0 for 5.

Rubby De La Rosa himself took a no-no past the fourth inning for the second time this week, with Cameron Maybin’s fifth-inning knock the only one against the Dodger rookie in six innings, during which he struck out a career-high eight while walking four on 98 pitches. Matt Guerrier, Mike MacDougal and Blake Hawksworth followed with perfect innings, taking the Dodgers into the bottom of the ninth.

And after Luke Gregerson struck out Matt Kemp, you could feel this game rolling straight into extra innings. But with one out to go before the no-hitter went into extra innings, the high-average bat of Uribe laced a double over Chris Denorfia’s head in left field.

And then, none other than Navarro and his sub-.180 batting average drove home Uribe with a gapper to right-center to, yes, win the game.

The final linescore:

SD 000 000 000-0 1 2
LA 000 000 001-1 2 0