Mar 11

Dodgers pitching to contact, winning

Join the Dodger Thoughts March Madness Tournament Challenge here.

Dodgers 5, Cubs 0

  • Following Ted Lilly’s three innings today, here is the combined line for Dodger starting pitchers in their past three day games: nine innings, six hits, two walks, zero runs, zero strikeouts.
  • Tony Gwynn Jr. and Matt Angle each had a hit and two RBI.
  • Trent Oeltjen had two hits and two runs.
  • The Dodgers’ embrace of the iPad and in particular an app from Bloomberg called “Sport Pitch Review” is chronicled in interesting detail by Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
  • Cory Sullivan is attempting a comeback of sorts after taking much of last season off to spend quality time with his daughter, writes Gurnick.
Mar 11

Fields emerges as leading Spring Training underdog

Cubs at Dodgers, 12:05 p.m.
Tony Gwynn Jr., DH
Mark Ellis, 2B
James Loney, 1B
Jerry Sands, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Trent Oeltjen, RF
Tim Federowicz, C
Justim Sellers, SS
Matt Angle, CF
(Ted Lilly, P)

Though I’m not wishing to take away anything away from Cory Sullivan, whose ninth-inning grand slam lifted the Dodgers to a 10-6 victory over the White Sox late Saturday, I find myself thinking more this morning about Josh Fields.

No matter what he does in the spring, Sullivan is a 32-year-old fringe outfielder on a team with several stronger candidates. Never say never, but he remains a longshot to make a difference to the Dodgers and a much safer bet to become a Jason Romano-like footnote.

Fields, on the other hand, is still only 29 (younger than A.J. Ellis, for example), and he plays a position where the Dodgers are incredibly thin: third base. He also has power: 34 home runs in 713 major-league at-bats. That doesn’t mean he’s still not ultimately a Hector Gimenez in disguise, but there is a greater chance for Fields to mean something to the team.

The bar at third base for the Dodgers is so, so low: Juan Uribe, Jerry Hairston Jr., Adam Kennedy. Fields is 7 for 11 with three extra-base hits so far in the spring, and if he keeps that up, you can see where he might play his way into the 25th spot on the roster and earn some starts at third base (and at first base against right-handed pitching, with Jerry Sands getting more seasoning in the minors).

Again, I’m not getting my hopes up that Fields is anything more than a 2012 version of Corey Smith, who went 7 for 12 last year in March and then disappeared. I’m also not convinced that his shaky glove (that includes 24 errors and negative Ultimate Zone Rating in 158 career games at third base) wouldn’t undermine his contributions at the plate. But I do know that the Dodgers need all the help they can get at the position, and that they would be much better off if Uribe were their top utility infielder instead of a primary starter at third base.

It can all all apart in a minute, but for now, Fields is one unexpected Spring Training sensation that I’m not going to reflexively dismiss, but rather will keep an eye on.

* * *

Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness offers a status update on the Dodger ownership race, a subject that I find myself with no desire to cover, despite its huge importance.

Mar 07

Harang harangued

Dodgers 3, A’s 3

Highlights:

  • Cory Sullivan went 3 for 4 with a game-tying double in the seventh.
  • Kenley Jansen, Scott Elbert, Javy Guerra, Alberto Castillo and Will Savage combined to shut out the A’s after the fourth inning, each striking out one batter in one inning.

Lowlights:

  • In their past two games, the Dodgers are 1 for 23 with runners in scoring position.
  • Aaron Harang allowed two singles, two doubles and two runs in two innings.
  • Outside of Sullivan, the Dodger lineup went 1 for 25 …

Sidelights:

  • … with eight walks. Los Angeles’ two fourth-inning runs came without a hit.
  • Manny Ramirez “was scratched 20 minutes before the first pitch with stiffness in his back experienced while getting some extra at-bats in a simulated game,” according to The Associated Press.
  • Former Dodger Jon Meloan, the part of the Carlos Santana trade that actually saved the Dodgers cash, has signed a minor-league deal with Texas, Battling arm trouble, Meloan hasn’t pitched in the majors since throwing 8 1/3 shutout innings with 11 strikeouts in 2009 with Oakland.
  • Jason Repko (.555 OPS in 144 plate appearances with Minnesota last year) has signed a minor-league deal with Boston.
  • Hiroki Kuroda allowed three runs and three hits over two innings in his New York Yankee spring training debut.
  • Yu Darvish struck out three in two scoreless innings of his American spring debut.