Nov 18

Dodgers remove Ely, Monasterios from 40-man roster

Ahead of the deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 draft, the Dodgers outrighted pitchers John Ely and Carlos Monasterios to Triple-A Albuquerque in order to make room for five first-timers on the 40-man roster.

Two came at the trading deadline: outfielder Alex Castellanos and pitcher Steven Fife.

  • Alex Castellanos, the 25-year-old outfielder who came from the Cardinals in exchange for Rafael Furcal and had a combined .958 OPS in 534 plate appearances at Double-A.
  • Stephen Fife, a 25-year-old righty who came from the Red Sox in the Trayvon Robinson trade and had a combined 3.74 ERA with 95 strikeouts in 137 innings at Double-A.
  • Chris Withrow, a 2007 first-round draft choice who had a 4.20 ERA with 130 strikeouts in 128 2/3 innings as a starter at Double-A Chattanooga.
  • Michael Antonini, a 26-year-old who came from the Mets organization last winter in exchange for Chin-Lung Hu and had a 4.01 ERA with 131 strikeouts in 148 innings as a starter at Chattanooga.
  • Josh Wall, a 2005 second-round draft choice who had a 3.93 ERA with 57 strikeouts in 68 2/3 innings as a reliever at Double-A Chattanooga.

After spending all of 2010 with the Dodgers, Monasterios was injured most of 2011, pitching only four innings with the Isotopes. Ely never recovered his Elymania form of 2010, though he was mostly effective in very short spurts with the Dodgers in 2011.

Both players could easily remain in the organization for 2012, depending on the interest they receive elsewhere.

For more on the state of the 40-man roster,  as well as some names that were left unprotected from the Rule 5 draft, check out this post and this post from True Blue L.A.

Jul 29

Jansen heads to disabled list

Kenley Jansen has gone on the disabled list with a cardiac arrhythmia, and Josh Lindblom has come from Chattanooga to replace him, reports Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Also, Carlos Monasterios has had Tommy John surgery and will be out for approximately one year.

Feb 23

With Padilla out, who is the Dodgers’ No. 6 starter?


Kelvin Kuo/US PresswireJohn Ely

Vicente Padilla was ticketed for the bullpen, but everyone expected him to be the first guy Los Angeles turned to if anyone in the Dodgers’ starting rotation had to miss a start. In fact, Padilla was going to be on a starters’ program in the early days of Spring Training before shifting to a relievers’ routine.

Dodger fans can still hope that Padilla will be back in uniform before a sixth starter is needed, but in case he isn’t, who’s next in line?

  • Blake Hawksworth started some last year for St. Louis, but Don Mattingly seemed pretty keen on keeping him in the bullpen. “As a starter he was throwing 90 (mph), 91 and out of the bullpen 94, 95,” Dodger manager Don Mattingly told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com earlier this month. “Sometimes a guy thinks when he’s starting he has to pace himself. Out of the ‘pen he’s more aggressive and attacking. We feel that’s where he fits best.”
  • Carlos Monasterios started 13 games for the Dodgers last year, but also performed much better in relief. The question is how the Dodgers view him going forward: He was ticketed for Albuquerque to start this season, but if he’s going to be in the rotation, he might be someone they turn to.
  • The Dodgers have toyed with Scott Elbert and even Ramon Troncoso as starting pitchers in their minor-league careers, but they are firmly relievers now.
  • Jon Link has gotten some brief starting work in his pro career, but he seems an unlikely option.
  • Minor-League Pitcher of the Year Rubby De La Rosa? Maybe later, but too soon for now.
  • Tim Redding is the player in camp with the most starting experience: 144 starts in the 33-year-old’s major-league career. But none of those have come since 2009, when he had a 5.10 ERA for the Mets.

That brings us back to last spring’s rotation savior, John Ely. Ely had a 2.54 ERA through June 1, an 8.00 ERA after. If there’s any chance that Part II was the fluke and not Part I, Ely might get the first opportunity to prove it. Elymania II?

Feb 18

Why Lance Cormier is a darkhorse roster candidate

Kim Klement/US PresswireIn the past three seasons, Lance Cormier has allowed a sub-.700 OPS against left-handed batters, including 26 extra-base hits in 486 plate appearances.

Outside of the left-field conundrum, the Dodgers’ biggest question mark for Spring Training might be how they will address the task of getting left-handed batters out with their almost completely right-handed bullpen. No one wants to see Hong-Chih Kuo relegated to facing only lefties, and the only other left-handed thrower on the 40-man roster is the uncertain Scott Elbert.

Three non-roster invitees to major-league camp are left-handed: 39-year-old Ron Mahay, achy-hamstringed Dana Eveland (whose career 5.74 ERA will apparently be sidelined for weeks after Thursday’s injury) and Wilkin De La Rosa, who has never pitched about Double-A. After that, you start dipping down into the minors for developing players like James Adkins.

With Ronald Belisario’s absence seemingly opening up a roster spot, Mahay would seem to be the default candidate. He had a .520 OPS allowed against lefties last season. But the previous two seasons, his OPS allowed against lefties was above .700 — which isn’t terrible, but isn’t exactly the kind of authoritative performance you’re looking for when you really want someone to come in and get that guy out.

I got to wondering if there were any righties among the Dodger relievers who were reliable against lefties. Here’s a chart of the bullpen candidates’ OPS allowed against lefties over the past three seasons in the majors:

2010 PA/ 2010 OPS   2009 PA/ 2009 OPS   2008 PA/ 2008 OPS
Belisario 86 .793   122 .720      
Broxton 123 .626   148 .414   126 .800
Colon 5 .650   94 .713      
Cormier 162 .718   180 .671   144 .667
Elbert 4 2.000   40 .699   14 1.000
Eveland 59 .802   60 .999   170 .646
Guerrier 102 .649   120 .525   126 .801
Hawksworth 185 .886   76 .724      
Jansen 51 .586            
Kuo 69 .271   40 .524   98 .557
Link 16 .962            
MacDougal 39 1.353   124 .760   24 .858
Mahay 68 .520   111 .743   110 .721
Monasterios 188 .709            
Padilla 166 .590   352 .837   385 .944
Redding       282 .860   402 .808
Schlichting 39 .465   9 .905      
Troncoso 99 .823   157 .751   84 .707
Villarreal             68 .862

Some observations:

  • The Dodgers have a few righties who seem consistently effective against their opposite numbers: Jonathan Broxton, Matt Guerrier and, based on a small sample size, Kenley Jansen.
  • Oh, and another guy who probably isn’t on your radar … late signee Lance Cormier.
  • Based on only his one season, Carlos Monasterios offers an intriguing first impression — though looking at the chart, you can see how much these numbers can fluctuate. Look at what happened to Ramon Troncoso, for example, or moving in the other direction, Vicente Padilla.
  • For extreme small-sample candidates, there’s Roman Colon and Travis Schlichting. Consider at your own risk.

If the Dodgers decide that Kuo, Broxton, Guerrier, Jansen and Padilla are all effective against lefties, they could decide to go without a second left-handed pitcher — especially if they also think Cormier is worth a roster slot. It might still be Mahay’s spot to lose or Scott Elbert’s spot to win, but Cormier might be this year’s guy you least expected.

Aug 26

Faster, Monasterios! Kill! Kill!

Joe Torre to reporters today on Carlos Monasterios: “We need for him to pitch at a better tempo. His stuff was good the other day, but I have a sense you get a little flat taking as much time as he was.”

I would expect we’ll see a healthy dose of Jeff Weaver and Kenley Jansen at some point today, but everyone but Ronald Belisario is expected to be rested enough to pitch today.

Manny Ramirez is on pinch-hit detail.

Jul 24

Loney walks it off in 13th, 3-2


Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesMatt Kemp looks to win the Kendry Who? Award with his takedown of James Loney after Loney’s walkoff homer gave the Dodgers a 3-2 victory over the Mets today in 13 innings. The 21st Dodger used in the game, George Sherrill, pitched a 1-2-3 inning for the victory. Carlos Monasterios pitched five shutout innings. and then after James McDonald disappointed in a two-run sixth, Kenley Jansen’s two-strikeout major-league debut kicked off seven consecutive game-saving scoreless (and hitless) innings of relief for Los Angeles.
Jul 22

Carlos Monasterios to start Saturday


Courtesy Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2010 Clayton Kershaw and Blake DeWitt hang on before Wednesday’s game.

Carlos Monasterios will start Saturday, Joe Torre told reporters today. I’m not sure what makes Monasterios, who staggered through his last few starts, a better option than James McDonald, but I’ve decided not to fret over it for now.

Torre also said that Hong-Chih Kuo has been “lobbying” to pitch on back-to-back days, which helps explain why, for better or worse, he warmed up Wednesday. That being said, Kuo might be rested tonight, but Jonathan Broxton is available.

Reed Johnson’s back has not improved enough for the Dodgers to say when he’ll be activated from the disabled list.

* * *

Dodger Stadium organist Nancy Bea Hefley will have increased playing time Friday as part of the team’s “55 since ’55″ promotion, and Dodgerfan.net will provide on-the-scene coverage. Looking forward to it!

* * *

Tonight, the Dodgers will play their 857th consecutive home game since their last rainout, on April 17, 2000, breaking their previous record of 856 set from April 26, 1988–April 10, 1999.

Also, tonight’s matchup of Hiroki Kuroda and Hisanori Takahashi is the sixth between Japanese-born starting pitchers in MLB history.

* * *

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Chris Dickerson

Thought this was an interesting piece by Dave Campbell of The Associated Press (posted on Farther Off the Wall): Reds outfielder Chris Dickerson is trying to make baseball more green through an organization he co-founded with Jack Cassel, Players for the Planet.

… There is a certain insular, indulgent culture in the sports world that can create hurdles for social causes like this to take hold. Sometimes, they’re masked as mere symbolic gestures and goodwill-generating promotions for teams. The sheer enormity of stadiums makes it difficult to keep carbon footprints small. Players can get caught up in the big-league lifestyle.

“It’s hard to get just any athlete and even then, they’re like, ‘I love what you’re doing, but I can’t really endorse it because I’m driving a big truck and I have a huge house,’” Dickerson said. “So some of the things these athletes do aren’t necessarily a green lifestyle. They like the idea, but they’re not necessarily that green. I think that’s why a lot of them are hesitant to be part of it.”

Dickerson praised the use of solar power at Fenway Park in Boston and Progressive Field in Cleveland as progressive ideas he’d like to see replicated more throughout the majors. He pointed to supportive e-mails and letters he has received as examples of momentum. He also insisted real change can be accomplished in easy steps.

“That’s the message we’re trying to get across: It doesn’t have to be a huge shift in your daily lifestyle,” Dickerson said. “It’s little things like getting a recycle bin, turning off all the lights when you leave your house, trying to cut down on your air conditioning, using compact fluorescent light bulbs.”

Dickerson even has a sign above his locker that says, “Trees are for hugging.” …

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’.

Jun 29

Trade Don Drysdale!


AP
Don Drysdale, March 1959

Fifty years ago, this was the hot trade rumor of the day, according to Keith Thursby of the Daily Mirror: Don Drysdale, Gil Hodges and Duke Snider to the Yankees for Tony Kubek, Elston Howard, Ryne Duren and Johnny James. Buzzie Bavasi shot it down. (The link  also takes you to a feature on baseball stats godfather Allan Roth.)

Hodges and Snider were near the end of their careers, but Drysdale was only 23. He was coming off a 3.46 ERA in the 1959 title season, but he ran into a slump, posting a 7.11 ERA in 31 2/3 innings over seven appearances (six starts), only one of them a quality start.

Don Drysdale a Yankee. Gosh, it must’ve seemed like such a good idea to dump the kid at the time. All I need to find is one article calling him a head case or mental midget and my year will be complete.

  • Matt Kemp will return to the Dodger starting lineup tonight, Joe Torre told Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
  • Testimonials for Don Mattingly come in this article by Gideon Rubin for the Daily News from former teammate Dave Righetti and current Dodger Jeff Weaver. “There’s one thing that he’s about, and that’s hard work,” Weaver said. “He communicates well, and the guys respect him.”
  • Ten managerial candidates to consider have been conveniently offered by John Perrotto of Baseball Prospectus. Mattingly is on the list, along with Alex Cora’s brother Joey, former Dodger Ron Roenicke  and one-time Dodger candidate (before Paul DePodesta was fired) Torey Luvullo.
  • Lucas May singled, doubled and homered twice for Albuquerque on Monday.
  • Carlos Monasterios has taken a walk on the rehab trail. He allowed five runs (four earned) on nine baserunners while striking out four in 3 2/3 innings. Three of the runs came on a first-inning homer. “I thought Monasterios threw the ball pretty well,” Isotopes manager Tim Wallach told Christopher Jackson of Albuquerque Baseball Examiner. “The home run he gave up in the first was probably a bit of an Albuquerque home run.”
  • James McDonald will return to the Albuquerque active roster Thursday, Jackson reports.
  • I make the case for Hong-Chih Kuo’s inclusion on the National League All-Star Team at Rob Neyer’s Sweet Spot blog at ESPN.com.
  • How do you solve a problem like George Sherrill? Ask Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness.
  • Joe Posnanski is looking for your nominations for top sports books.

Update: Adrian Beltre tells Alex Speier of WEEI the story of how he became an underage signee of the Dodgers, and the fallout that ensued. (via MLB Trade Rumors)

Jun 07

Monahysteria spreads while DeWitt drives home five in 12-4 victory


Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US Presswire
Blake DeWitt drove in five runs, three on this, his first home run of the year.

On a night that Blake DeWitt drove in a career-high five runs, one of the mesmo men was at it again.

Carlos Monasterios pitched a two-hitter for six innings despite striking out nary a batter. Even after giving up Ryan Ludwick’s second solo homer of the night and a Randy Winn single to start the seventh inning, Monasterios can go to sleep tonight with his ERA still at 2.27 for the season and, thanks to an efficient Dodger offense capped by DeWitt’s first home run of the season, a 12-4 Dodger victory Monday over St. Louis.

Monasterios needed only 41 pitches to get through four innings, then got into a two-walk, none-out jam in the fifth but escaped with a double play and a fly out. He cruised into the seventh inning even though, according to Vin Scully, there was only one swing and miss against Monasterios all night. But as has been the case most of the year with Monasterios and John Ely, the contact wasn’t enough to do major damage.

After taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning and then seeing it halved in the next frame by Ludwick’s first home run, the Dodgers scored four runs in both the fourth and fifth innings, with pretty much everyone getting into the act. Manny Ramirez started things off with a double, and after a Ronnie Belliard walk, scored on a DeWitt single. A.J. Ellis squeezed home Belliard, and after Monasterios sacrificed, Rafael Furcal hit a ground-rule double to right to make the score 6-1.

In the fifth, walks to Andre Ethier and James Loney were followed by a Belliard RBI single, and then DeWitt hit one off the right-field foul-pole screen to make it 10-1.

Every Dodger starting position player (plus pinch-hitter Garret Anderson) had a hit except Loney, who walked three times. And every Dodger starter scored in this emphatic end to the streak of winning games by one run.

* * *

Congrats to the family of Dodger PR veep Josh Rawitch, who not only became the father of his second child today, but had the birth announced on the air by Scully.

Jun 02

Dodgers outlast Diamondbacks again, 1-0 in 14 innings


Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Carlos Monasterios looks towards the sky in the second inning, as if he knew how long this day would be for the Dodgers.

It was — or should have been — Edwin Jackson’s game.

Instead, it was … Garret Anderson’s?

The maligned Dodger reserve, with 12 hits in 82 at-bats this year, singled home Matt Kemp in the bottom of the 14th inning to give the Dodgers their second-straight 1-0, extra-inning victory over Arizona — capping a series in which the Diamondbacks were held scoreless for their final 31 innings.

The Dodgers, whose scoreless pitching streak is their longest since a 37-inning skein July 24-28, 1991, according to the Dodger press notes, entered this series with a 4.21 team ERA, and left it at 3.99. It was the first time two MLB teams had gone scoreless into extra innings in consecutive games since 2001, and the first time for the Dodger franchise since 1919. The Dodgers also have three consecutive walkoff wins for the first time since August 5-7, 1982.

We’ll talk about the Dodger offense another time, but for now we’ll tip our hat once more to Arizona’s starting pitcher. More than six years after Jackson’s memorable Dodger debut against the Diamondbacks, nearly five years after his last appearance at Dodger Stadium, Jackson returned and put on a show. It was against a lineup that missed Manny Ramirez, Russell Martin, and Rafael Furcal (and for half the game, Casey Blake), but it was a show nonetheless. Jackson pitched shutout ball for nine innings, allowing three hits and three walks while striking out six.

But Jackson didn’t get the win — and neither did Arizona, which was held scoreless by six Dodger pitchers, the last Travis Schlichting, who pitched four shutout innings in his 2010 Dodger debut despite not having thrown that many in a game all year in the minors.

The tone was set early by Jackson and Carlos Monasterios, who, like John Ely, has had to fight a lot of natural-born skepticism to get into the starting rotation. But with five shutout innings today, Monasterios lowered his 2010 ERA to 1.87 and threatened to give birth to Monahysteria. He allowed two singles, walked none and struck out three. He was also, like Ely, reasonably efficient with his pitch count — except for a rather bizarre stretch in the fifth inning when Adam LaRoche and Rusty Ryal combined to foul off 11 of 13 pitches. Monasterios also had to battle several three-ball counts in the second inning, but still got his five innings completed in 81 pitches.

After Ramon Troncoso, now being rationed by Joe Torre, was used for one shutout inning, it fell to recent callup Justin Miller to keep Arizona at bay. Miller immediately tattooed Arizona by hitting Stephen Drew and LaRoche with pitches, but in between came a strikeout and throwout by A.J. Ellis of Drew attempting to steal, to interrupt the scoring bid. Ryal then flied deep to Kemp in center field to end the inning.

Jackson then became the second Arizona starting pitcher in as many games to bat for himself in the eighth inning of a scoreless game — and worked Miller with an 11-pitch single. But on his 41st pitch of the game, Miller got Kelly Johnson to fly to Kemp.

Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Arizona’s offense denied Edwin Jackson his second career shutout.

In the bottom of the eighth, Jackson once again faced Manny Ramirez with a runner on first and the game on the line, as he did May 12 in Arizona. But instead of hitting a home run, Ramirez was called out on strikes — the third consecutive game Ramirez failed to bring home the go-ahead run in the eighth inning.

After Jonathan Broxton pitched a scoreless top of the ninth, the valiant Jackson went back to the mound. He was one strike from completing his ninth shutout inning when he gave up a line single to Jamey Carroll, who had the only three hits Jackson allowed, along with a walk. Kemp then walked on a 3-2 slider, leaving it up to Andre Ethier. In a situation seemingly scripted in the Dodgers’ favor, Hollywood rejected it, with Ethier lining out to LaRoche at first base on Jackson’s 123rd pitch.

Ronald Belisario’s scoreless 10th inning fed into James Loney’s double to start off the bottom of the 10th, the only extra-base hit in the 101 combined plate appearances by the two teams today. Ronnie Belliard walked after Anderson struck out, but pinch-hitters Furcal and Martin couldn’t bring the run home.

From that point on, you could say the Dodgers’ otherwise significant bullpen advantage was starting to bleed out, especially with Hong-Chih Kuo unavailable because he threw 1 1/3 innings Tuesday and Torre also wanting to give a day off to Jeff Weaver, who threw 21 pitches Tuesday night.

That left Schlichting, with two career major-league games, the last nearly a year ago, and a history of injury issues. Schlichting pitched a perfect 11th inning, survived two singles in the 12th and then completed a 1-2-3 13th. All the while, the Dodger offense remained silent.

But that wasn’t all. Schlichting, whose longest minor-league outing of the year was 3 2/3 innings, batted for himself in the bottom of the 13th and stayed in to pitch the 14th. He gave up a hit and a walk with one out, but escaped on two fly balls to cap his 60-pitch effort.

Finally, in the bottom of the 14th, Kemp ended an 0-for-14 drought by the Dodger outfielders with a single. Ethier lined out for the third time in his hard-luck 0-for-6 day, but Kemp advanced to second base on a wild pitch, went to third on a Loney grounder and then, unbelievably or mercifully, scored on Anderson’s hit.

With three walkoff victories, this was a series the Dodgers won’t soon forget — but Arizona will sure try its best.

May 28

Monasterios and sixth-inning rally are pleasant surprises for Dodgers, 5-4


Garrett W. Ellwood/Getty Images
Carlos Monasterios

Dodgers 5, Rockies 4. Monasterios (W, 2-0). Did you see that coming when the sun was going down?

The irony of Joe Torre’s apparent determination to get Charlie Haeger back into the Dodger starting rotation is that Torre couldn’t wait to get him out of the rotation last summer, when Haeger was pitching better. In any case, Carlos Monasterios’ 1.90 ERA entering tonight’s game, at least in the moment, wasn’t enough for Torre to take a “let’s see what happens” stance regarding whether Monasterios would make another start.

And it was fine to be a bit wary of how Monasterios would come out of tonight’s game at Colorado – it still featured someone who was in A ball last year pitching in an notoriously difficult environment. But lo and behold, Monasterios was efficient and effective: 67 pitches and two earned runs over five innings.

After the first inning, in which he gave up two unearned runs (they came two outs after Ronnie Belliard’s error at first base), Monasterios allowed only three baserunners. Two came in the fourth inning – a Miguel Olivo triple (followed by an Ian Stewart sacrifice fly) and a Clint Barmes homer that was contested in vain after a fan reached out to catch it. That put the Dodgers down, 4-0. Monasterios then retired the side in his fifth and final inning. Maybe I’m rooting too hard, but I’m having trouble putting this down as a poor effort.

Monasterios isn’t long for the Dodger rotation no matter what, but in the short term, with this game under his belt and a 2.20 ERA in 28 2/3 innings, it’s hard for me to see how he hasn’t earned the opportunity to start again Wednesday against Arizona at Dodger Stadium. He has six unintentional walks all year, he had 15 first-pitch strikes against 22 batters in Colorado – isn’t this the kind of John Ely-like boldness that the Dodgers are looking for, at least until Vicente Padilla comes back? I’m not assuming that Haeger hasn’t solved his problems and can’t do the job. It’s just that again, I’m wondering what has tilted the scales toward Haeger and away from Monasterios in Torre’s eyes. And I’m wondering if those scales might tilt back, as they did with Ely.

Anyway, this all appeared it would be an academic discussion to occupy us after a Dodger beating, what with Jeff Francis taking a one-hitter into the fifth inning, having faced the minimum 12 batters. Matt Kemp began the fifth with his 10th homer of the season, but that was seemingly the result of a pitcher with a lead just throwing the ball across the plate – Francis retired the next three batters.

Jack Dempsey/AP
Manny Ramirez hit his first home run since his pinch-hit game-winner April 18.

But the Dodgers shredded Francis’ exquisite origami in the sixth, tearing a small opening with a Jamey Carroll leadoff walk and then busting through with a Garret Anderson pinch-hit double, a Rafael Furcal sacrifice fly to score Carroll, a Russell Martin double to score Anderson, and then, Manny Ramirez’s first home run in his past 58 at-bats and first career homer at Coors Field period. Suddenly, the Dodgers were ahead, and Monasterios was poised to be the winning pitcher.

From that point on, the rested Dodger bullpen took control of the game (a fine thing, since none of the final nine Dodger batters reached base). In the final four innings, Ramon Troncoso, Hong-Chih Kuo, Ronald Belisario and Jonathan Broxton faced 16 batters and struck out eight – two apiece. Troncoso pitched a perfect sixth, Kuo got out of a two-on, two-out jam in the seventh and Belisario pitched a perfect eighth.

In the ninth, Broxton who had walked two of 77 batters this season and hit none, plunked leadoff pinch-hitter Jason Giambi, who was replaced by pinch-runner Dexter Fowler. Broxton struck out Barmes, but Melvin Mora hit a fly down the line in right that Xavier Paul made a nice play to catch for the second out, only for Fowler to tag up and take the tying run to second base. The Dodgers then chose to walk Carlos Gonzalez intentionally even though he was the winning run, preferring to have Broxton face Ryan Spilborghs – who had singled twice and homered in five career chances against Broxton. But after working the count to 2-2, Spilborghs couldn’t catch Broxton’s 97-mph fastball and went down swinging.

Monasterios (W, 2-0). That’s right.

Having not only survived this game to even their record on the road trip at 2-2 and move within one game of first-place San Diego in the National League West – the Padres entered the bottom of the ninth trailing Washington, 5-2, and got four straight singles for a run before striking out twice and grounding out – the Dodgers get to come back with Hiroki Kuroda and Clayton Kershaw for the next two games of the series. Beyond that, Andre Ethier singled and walked twice in four incident-free plate appearances in his first rehab game, keeping him on track to return to the Dodgers Memorial Day in Los Angeles. The Dodgers are 9-4 without Ethier, but don’t think they don’t want him back.

Update: From Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com:

Although Torre had given a strong indication before the game that knuckleballer Charlie Haeger will come off the disabled list in time to reclaim the fifth spot in the rotation the next time it comes up either Tuesday or Wednesday, Torre at least paid lip service after the game to the possibility Monasterios pitched well enough to warrant another shot.

“I don’t think we have figured it out yet,” Torre said. “But I certainly wouldn’t be afraid to do that. He enhanced his chances if we were going to consider it.”

May 26

Monasterios to start Friday

Carlos Monasterios will start Friday for the Dodgers in Colorado, according to Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com. The team is expected to go back to a 12-man staff by then, and Jackson thinks Scott Elbert might get the call despite his control problems. Elbert has allowed four earned runs in his past 16 1/3 innings, though he has 11 walks in that time.

If the Dodgers are looking for a lefty specialist for the time being, Elbert might be the guy. According to Minor League Splits, Elbert has walked three of 40 left-handed batters he has faced (8 percent) and 26 of 139 right-handed batters (19 percent). Lefties are batting .229 against Elbert (.304 batting average on balls in play); righties .301 (.383).

But if they just want a long man in the bullpen – and someone who might take the next start instead of Monasterios – perhaps James McDonald is the better choice.

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Rafael Furcal wasn’t the only one who goofed Tuesday. I managed to miss another start Ryan Dempster made against the Dodgers last year – August 23. Thanks to commenter DodgerKramer for alerting me. Dempster allowed no earned runs in seven innings that outing, meaning that his streak of innings without allowing an earned run against the Dodgers is actually 22.

May 19

Padres slam Ortiz if you please, Padres slam Ortiz if you don’t please


AP/US Presswire
Adrian Gonzalez raised his career numbers against Ramon Ortiz to 7 for 13 with four walks and two homers – and finished the night with six RBI.

Joe Torre gave Ramon Ortiz another start tonight for the Dodgers, despite Ortiz pitching rather poorly in San Diego last week – not that I think anyone was all that surprised by Torre’s decision. Allowing three runs in four innings in pitching-friendly San Diego was nothing to be proud of, but Torre seemed to feel not only that it was a reasonable first effort, but that it outshone the four innings of one-run ball that Carlos Monasterios gave the Dodgers against Pittsburgh two weeks earlier.

This isn’t anything to start lighting effigies over, but the lack of a second chance for Monasterios is a bit vexing in light of the unexpected success that John Ely has had. While there’s no certainty that Ely can maintain his outstanding performance to date, no one wants to jump off that train just yet. Why Torre was so quick to get off Monasterios’ choo-choo to get on Ortiz’s doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Remember, though, that even Ely’s second start was delayed so that Torre could give Charlie Haeger one more opportunity – one that ended up rather disastrous for the knuckleballer. And so maybe, Torre’s rope for Ortiz will be cut now that the 37-year-old righty has followed up that last start against San Diego with a stinker in tonight’s 10-5 defeat: 3 1/3 innings, five runs, six hits, three walks, one strikeout. Ortiz now has a 6.30 ERA (thanks in small part to Ramon Troncoso, who allowed an inherited run to score and gave up two homers in a five-run fourth). Monasterios, after throwing three shutout innings tonight, is at 1.90.

James McDonald or Scott Elbert should be grabbing that No. 5 spot in the rotation, but they haven’t. I might just throw McDonald out there to see what happens, but in their absence, it’s time for Monasterios to get another shot – not with the expectation that he’ll give you six innings, but that he’ll keep the score more manageable in the early going than Ortiz would. With the rest of the Dodger starting pitching having stabilized, the Dodgers can afford this. Whether the Dodgers next use a fifth starter on May 25 (after an off day) or May 29 (the next time it’s necessary), Ortiz is no longer the man to bridge the gap between now and Vicente Padilla’s return.

All this being said, the Dodgers hung on for most of tonight’s game despite allowing six RBI to Adrian Gonzalez and five times on base to Will Venable, and despite being down 8-3 after four innings (that took two hours to play). They threatened constantly, tallying 15 baserunners for the game, but simply couldn’t get the big blow, and after George Sherrill allowed two more runs in the ninth, fell to defeat for the first time in 10 games. It cost the Dodgers a chance to move into first place in the National League West. On the other hand, maybe it moved them one step closer to figuring out the starting pitching they’re supposed to have.

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Manny Ramirez was a late scratch from tonight’s starting lineup because of a left foot injury he suffered during pregame warmups, according to Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Ramirez pinch-hit for the Dodgers in the fifth – no further details on the injury were immediately available.