Mar 29

One for the bullish

My longtime friend, former Stanford Daily colleague and all-around smarter-than-your-average bear Mark Rogowsky has analyzed the Dodger sale and comes to the conclusion that the finances more than hold up. It’s lengthy but definitely worth your time. Read it here.

* * *

  • Bill Shaikin of the Times was interviewed by PBS News Hour about the Dodger sale. Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy passes along the video.
  • Frank McCourt’s farewell e-mail to Dodger employees was posted by Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com.
  • Grant Brisbee of McCovey Chronicles offers a San Francisco perspective on the Dodger sale.
  • Featuring a big giant graphic, Beyond the Box Score looks at the Dodgers’ roster commitments between now and 2017.
  • Third-generation major-leaguer Jerry Hairston Jr. talked to J.P Hoornstra of the Daily News about the connection between Jackie Robinson and Magic Johnson.
  • The Dodgers released minor-leaguer Jared Lansford, son of Carney Lansford, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America, after barely a month in the organization.
  • At age 28, Chin-Lung Hu failed his physical with the Phillies, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • The New York Times gives the background on its 1966 story that inspired the opening scene of the season premiere of Mad Men.
Mar 28

Cash for the merchandise, cash for the button hooks


Bill Shaikin of the Times corraborates a Wall Street Journal report by Matthew Futterman. that the new Dodger ownership is paying all cash for the Dodgers, wiping out the team’s debt without using the TV money. Skeptics remain, however.

“The bid was described as a ’100% cash offer,’” Futterman wrote. “Mr. Walter is making a significant personal contribution to the purchase price, with Guggenheim Partners, of which he is chief executive, playing a substantial role in financial contribution.”

Adds Shaikin:

… the deal is all cash and no financing, so it wouldn’t add to the Dodgers’ already significant debt load. The purchase price for the team itself is $2 billion — roughly $1.6 billion in cash and $400 million in debt assumption. An additional $150 million is for a joint venture between the Johnson group and outgoing owner Frank McCourt to control the parking lots surrounding the stadium.

Under terms of the deal, no development would take place on the lots unless the Johnson group and McCourt agree. The deal also ensures that McCourt can retain partial ownership of the lots and share in any future development revenue.

The money fans pay to park at Dodgers games goes to the new ownership group. …

Whether there are some games being played to facilitate this all-cash payment, I don’t know.  Andrew Zimbalist is among the economists who are aghast at the sale price, according to this Arash Markazi piece at ESPNLosAngeles.com. Despite reports otherwise, they seem to believe that the Dodgers’ future TV money is being used to fund the deal.

The importance relates to what’s left over to invest in the team after the sale is done. Chad Moriyama reminds us that if the Guggenheim group has the cash to fund the Dodger purchase, we shouldn’t worry if they overpaid. Everything centers on that “if.”

At this point, I’m not sure any pundit really knows. And with this much money at play, I’m also not sure the Dodger operating budget — small by comparison — depends on how much cash was paid up front. Let’s put it this way: The Dodgers are certainly less likely to reject a star player than they were before Tuesday, let alone let someone like Hiroki Kuroda walk away for a million or so. I’m still much more worried about which star players the new management thinks are worthwhile to begin with.

Meanwhile …

  • Bill Plaschke of the Times has a news interview with Johnson, Kasten and Walter. It’s worth the click. ESPNLosAngeles.com and Ken Gurnick of MLB.com had similar conversations.
  • Matt Kemp and Dee Gordon think they could beat Magic Johnson in one-on-one basketball today, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Times. I’m not so sure … and Tony Gwynn Jr. agrees with me.
  • Former Dodger owner Peter O’Malley told Shaikin that he believes in Johnson and Kasten.
  • Joe Flint of the Times says that your cable TV bill (if you have one) will help fund the Dodgers’ acquisition.
  • Ross Newhan wonders if the sale of the team was destined for Magic all along.
  • Phil Gurnee writes at True Blue L.A. about how amazing it is for us Dodger fans who grew up adoring Johnson to see him in this position.
  • Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness shares his thoughts.
  • J.P. Breen of Fangraphs looks at possible future free-agent targets for the Dodgers.
  • If you want to go back and read my Variety story on Johnson’s plans to launch family-friendly cable channel Aspire, here it is.
  • Let’s hear it for 44-year-olds! Omar Vizquel will be on the Opening Day roster of the Blue Jays, according to The Associated Press.
  • The turnover of former Dodgers continues, with Chin-Lung Hu and Joe Thurston headed to the Phillies, as noted by MLB Trade Rumors.
  • Katie Sharp of ESPN.com examines whether Chad Billingsley’s problems last year related to his slider.
  • Oh yeah – the Dodgers played today.
Dec 27

Dodgers part ways with Chin-Lung Hu


Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireChin-Lung Hu

Chin-Lung Hu’s days as a Dodger prospect are over. After eight years in the organization, Hu (27 in February) was traded today to the New York Mets for 25-year-old minor-league lefthander Michael Antonini.

Antonini has primarily been a starting pitcher in the minors and was exclusively so in 2010, posting a 4.32 ERA with 7.3 strikeouts per nine innings in 23 Double-A starts and a 5.11 ERA with 6.1 strikeouts per nine innings in six Triple-A starts. This does not compare favorably, for example, with the credentials John Ely had when he was acquired by the Dodgers a year ago, so I wouldn’t count on Antonini being much of a factor in 2011. But you never know.

Hu hasn’t shown any potential with the bat since 2007, when he had an on-base percentage of .364 and slugging percentage of .507 in Double-A and Triple-A combined. In his major-league career, Hu has a .241 OBP and .283 slugging over 191 plate appearances. Nonetheless, he could be Juan Castro for some team, and I always thought the Dodgers could be that team.

Ultimately, Hu was out of options and there were doubts he’d make the Opening Day roster, so this is a way of salvaging something for him, given the odds against him.

Hu leaves Los Angeles with the most plate appearances (191) of any Taiwan-born player in major-league history, ahead of Hong-Chih Kuo (36) and Chin-Feng Chen (25).

Sep 06

Since they aren’t needed elsewhere, three cheers for John Lindsey!

Let’s start with Sunday’s best story: John Lindsey is finally a major leaguer. From Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com:

Lindsey, 33, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Triple-A first baseman who has played more seasons in the minors without earning a call-up to the majors than any current player, was among five players the Dodgers promoted Sunday afternoon.

Lindsey will be joined by third baseman Russ Mitchell, who is also making his major league debut, infielder Chin Lung Hu, and pitchers Jon Link and John Ely.

For Lindsey, set to join the team Monday, it was the realization of a lifelong dream. He’s spent nearly half his adult life in the minor leagues, since the Colorado Rockies took him in the 13th round of the 1995 draft.

He’s had a career season in 2010, batting .354 with 25 home runs for the Albuquerque Isotopes.

“Oh man, the second [Isotopes manager Tim Wallach] told me my whole brain kind of shut down. I was hearing what he was saying, but I couldn’t even believe it,” Lindsey said.

“He went to shake my hand and I had to hug him because my legs were so weak.”

Lindsey said Wallach had initially tried to fool him by asking him to come into his office, then slamming the door.

“I think he was trying to mess with me, but [hitting coach] Johnny Moses was in the corner, trying to keep a straight face the whole time, but he couldn’t stop smiling,” Lindsey said.

“Wally told me it was the happiest day as a manager he’s ever had. I walked out of that office and hugged all my teammates, called my wife, and I haven’t stopped smiling or pacing around the clubhouse since.

“I probably won’t sleep the next three or four days.” …

Sometimes, it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s that you get to play the game.

Says Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A.: Lindsey, who is 33 years, 219 days old today, will be the oldest non-Japanese Dodger to make his MLB debut since Pete Wojey (34 years, 213 days) on July 2, 1954.

* * *

As for Sunday’s results – yes, the team looking to make a miracle comeback in the standings suffered a blow. Arizona fell to Houston, 3-2, missing a chance to close within 12 games of the fourth-place Dodgers, who lost to San Francisco, 3-0.

The Dodgers’ magic number to clinch non-last place is 12. Los Angeles has clinched the tiebreaker against Arizona by winning the season series, so even though six of the Dodgers’ final nine games are against the Diamondbacks, the odds remain in the Dodgers’ favor.

Oh, as for the other races? Can’t say the Dodgers are doing much there.

The Padres are the first team to stay in first place despite a 10-game losing streak since the 1932 Pittsburgh Pirates, and looking to be the first team to make the playoffs despite a 10-game losing streak since the 1982 Atlanta Braves, according to Stat of the Day. That was the year that the Dodgers took advantage of the Braves’ slump to regain the National League West lead, only to run into a most bitter ending. This year is looking bitter in a different way.

Greg Zakwin wraps up Sunday’s Ack-loss at Memories of Kevin Malone: “(Andre) Ethier, Jamey Carroll, and Matt Kemp struck out a combined eight times. Five baserunners. Thirteen strikeouts in total against just a single, solitary walk drawn. Just a single extra-base hit. No Dodger reached base more than once. Pitiful is a word that seems to perfectly describe the offensive side of things since the All-Star Break.”

Hiroki Kuroda made his sixth straight start of at least seven innings, with a 2.47 ERA and .179 opponents batting average in that time, according to the Dodger press notes. Ken Gurnick of MLB.com notes that it was the sixth time this year that Kuroda has been on the wrong end of a shutout. As Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes, opportunities to watch Kuroda in a Dodger uniform might be dwindling to a precious few.

* * *

  • Al Wolf of the Times (via Keith Thursby of the Daily Mirror) predicted in 1960 what the team’s 1962 Dodger Stadium opener would be like. His conclusion: “As broadcaster Vince Scully said in his dulcet tones: ‘Wotta show! Wotta show! Come on out tomorrow night, those of you who missed it. But if you can’t be with us, plunk down a dollar in your pay TV set and watch it that way. Or better yet, put in two bucks and see it all in living color.’”
  • Fred Claire, who acquired Tim Wallach for the Dodgers on Christmas Eve 1992, puts his support at MLB.com for the Wallach for Manager campaign, though not with the Dodgers specifically. Claire, of course, was the Dodger general manager throughout Mike Scioscia’s post-playing Dodger career. His departure preceded Scioscia’s by about a year.
  • Four of the Dodgers in Sunday’s game – Carroll, Ryan Theriot, Ethier and Reed Johnson – finished with a .289 batting average.
Jul 02

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

* * *

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

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

* * *

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

May 24

Chin-Lung Hu has broken nose

Albuquerque infielder Chin-Lung Hu went on the AAA disabled list over the weekend with a broken nose, according to the Isotopes. (I was tipped to this by New Mexico Fan via Sons of Steve Garvey.)

No immediate word on how long Hu, who was OPSing .815 in May, will be out. This could conceivably affect the Dodgers’ roster decisions with regard to Nick Green, though I don’t expect it will.

Other notes from Albuquerque:

  • Tonight’s Reno-Albuquerque matchup pits former Dodger teammates Brett Butler and Tim Wallach against each other as opposing managers.
  • Jamie Hoffmann needed a 10th inning Sunday to extend his hitting streak to 17 games. He’s batting .417 during the streak.
  • John Lindsey went 4 for 5 to raise his batting average to .434.
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.

Mar 14

Dodgers flying high (and flying home) after 11-1 victory in Taiwan

With a latenight freelance assignment to work on and a link to an online feed from Taiwan, I was primed to watch my first full Dodger game of the year. And would that they could all be this much fun in 2010 …

With Manny Ramirez, James Loney and prodigal son Chin-Lung Hu each getting three hits, the Dodger Globetrotters routed the Chinese Professional Baseball League All-Stars, 11-1.

The 22-year-old Trayvon Robinson scored three runs, the third on a towering ninth-inning homer to dead center field. Xavier Paul and Michael Restovich had two hits, and Lucas May and Angel Berroa each had booming doubles.

Jamey Carroll went 0 for 5, but more relevantly played error-free ball at shortstop and was the middleman on a 3-6-3 double play with Loney.

Josh Towers allowed one run over three innings, and was followed by Josh Lindblom, whose three shutout innings were highlighted by the best Spring Training curveball for strike three I’ve seen since Clayton Kershaw’s Public Enemy No. 1.

We also got a glimpse of converted catcher Kenley Jansen on the mound; Jansen struck out one in a perfect eighth inning. Jon Link gave up two hits but closed out the game in the ninth, striking out two.

Happy trails, Taiwan …

Update (from The Associated Press): “Four players were sent down after the game in the Dodgers’ first cuts of the spring. Non-roster players Brian Barton, Francisco Felix and Gabriel Gutierrez were reassigned to minor league camp. Pitcher Kenley Jansen was optioned from the major league roster.”

Mar 12

Rooster crows after Dodgers’ overseas defeat

Good morning, and welcome to the postgame show!

Yes, the Dodgers’ first game in Taiwan is already over, and it sounds like the Tianmu Baseball Stadium crowd had a good time. Native son Chin-Lung Hu had a two-run single for the Dodgers, but Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League All-Stars won, 5-2.

Sounds like it’s been a good trip all around, though:

  • Here’s a travelogue describing all the activities before the first game, from Josh Rawitch at Inside the Dodgers.
  • Ken Gurnick also has an article at MLB.com describing the Dodgers’ sightseeing.
  • Here’s a game story from Focus Taiwan. The Dodgers were out-hit, 12-3.
  • Sons of Steve Garvey collects some photos of the trip, as well as some Twitter updates from Rawitch, Gurnick and Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com describing game action. A 4:39 a.m. comment from Dodger Thoughts commenter Wen_JK also has more details.

    • Trayvon Robinson, Xavier Paul, Manny Ramirez (DH), James Loney, Ronnie Belliard, Russ Mitchell, Lucas May, Hu, Brian Barton and Eric Stults started for the Dodgers.
    • Manny Ramirez twice just missed homering to center and ended up 0 for 3.
    • Lucas May, who is now the organization’s third-string catcher, had to leave the game after getting hit by a pitch on the left ankle. Belliard also got plunked.
    • Stults threw three scoreless innings, striking out four.
    • Former Dodger Chin-Feng Chen, now a ripe old 32, had a single and a walk.
    • “Don’t Stop Believin’” was played in the top of the ninth inning.

The Dodgers’ mainland Spring Training game takes place against Aroldis Chapman and the Reds at 12:05 p.m., and then the second game of the Taiwan trip begins just after 10 p.m. Pacific time.

Update: Full game wrapup from Gurnick, plus box score. May told Gurnick he was fine.

Update 2: In the comments below, Wen_JK has posted some YouTube links to the game.