Mar 30

Marching toward April

Feeling Opening Day excitement and the writing bug late on a Saturday …

• I’m reasonably excited about this year’s Dodger team, but part of that is a perverse excitement about just how bad on offense that left side of the infield might be, at least while Hanley Ramirez is out. That makes the decision to go with Justin Sellers fun for kicks, however dubious. Still, I have always liked the idea of emphasizing defense where offense isn’t an option.

• It only just now occurred to me that I was in the stands last year at the game in which Sellers was hurt and the one in which Dee Gordon was hurt.

• Do you realize this will no doubt be the fourth consecutive year that Kenley Jansen isn’t the Opening Day closer but eventually moves into that role?

• One thing I don’t miss about baseball season is the whining whenever a save gets blown, as if it should never happen. Heaven knows, though, it will happen.

• Carl Crawford has me excited. Truly didn’t think he’d be ready this fast, but this is the one case where I’m allowing myself to be swept away by past success and heady Spring Training numbers.

• I think lingering effects of his labrum injury will keep Matt Kemp below 25 home runs this year, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be productive.

• At first, I thought that with no true right-handed outfielder in reserve, the Dodgers would need to keep Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier spaced out in their lineup, or lefty relievers will just crush the team. But Gonzalez has had success against left-handers, so that helps. It’s still not necessarily a bad idea to insert a right-hander between them, though – as long as it’s a decent one.

• My initial plan for any free writing time that emerged this spring was that I would spend it offline on a long-term project. I did begin work on that project early this month, but with baseball season starting, I’m wavering. What might happen is a mix, where I post on Dodger Thoughts not infrequently, but not comprehensively. The risk is feeling like I’m doing both things halfway.

• Another intervening factor in my life is that Youngest Master Weisman, now 5, is six days away from his first T-ball season, and he is raring to go. (His team: the Tigers.) After playing with a pretend ball inside the house several times, we made it out to the park for the first time, and he was knocking balls through the infield and reaching the grass. Also in the past day, I’ve begun trying to teach him how to scoop balls on defense. It’s crazy.

• Older brother Young Master Weisman, now 8 1/2, took a few swings, but piano is his game. He’s composing his own material for his May recital performance. Young Miss Weisman, a whopping 10 1/2, is also wonderful on the keys.

Aug 09

Uribe is home free

Jerry Sands’ latest stay in Los Angeles has turned out to be ever-so-brief, as the Dodgers have sent him back to Albuquerque — where he will meet up with Tony Gwynn Jr., who cleared waivers and accepted a minor-league assignment — to make room on the Dodger roster for Adam Kennedy coming off the disabled list.

The moves mean that with 23 days to go until MLB active rosters can expand to 40, Juan Uribe is probably going to defy Damocles’ dagger and remain a Dodger though the end of next season and, presumably, on into 2013. This is the case even though Uribe has only three plate appearances in the past 17 days.

One position-player move that remains for the Dodgers to make is the potential activation of Dee Gordon from the disabled list if he’s ready before September 1, but at this point, I expect the Dodgers would send Gordon or Luis Cruz to the minors for a brief time and then recall the player when rosters widen (or just keep Gordon on the DL until then).  As far as I can tell, the breaking point with Uribe for 2012 has come and gone.

Cruz, by the way, is in a 3-for-22 slump with one walk, lowering his 2012 on-base percentage to .286 (nearly identical to Gordon’s .280) and his slugging percentage to .385. According to Baseball Prospectus’ True Average statistic, which factors in baserunning, Cruz is at .245 compared to Gordon’s .224. Cruz, four years older, might be a better player than Gordon right now, but I still am interested in seeing how Gordon can develop, even if the next opportunity doesn’t come until next year.

* * *

  • Bobby Abreu has also cleared waivers, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. He can accept a minor-league assignment like Gwynn, or become a free agent.
  • Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. got a great shoutout from T.J. Simers of the Times.

    … MATTINGLY LIKES to joke that truebluela.com’s Eric Stephen knows more about the Dodgers than anyone else in the media.

    “Go ahead, Eric,” I tell him after Mattingly speaks highly of Stephen again, “ask him about some minor leaguer.”

    “All right, I’ll ask about Juan Rivera,” says Stephen …

  • In his review of the Dodgers’ second 54 games of the 2012 season, Stephen highlights how severe the team’s offensive dropoff was, player by player.
  • James Loney should really, seriously, consider converting to pitching, argues Evan Bladh of Opinion of Kingman’s Performance.
  • Bluetopia, the 2009 movie about the Dodgers and their fans in which I had a brief appearance, will be screened August 16 at the Craft and Folk Art Museum, which has an ongoing baseball exhibition this summer. A Q&A with director Tim Marx follows.
  • One of my favorite baseball articles of the season comes from Russell A. Carleton of Baseball Prospectus, for which he dramatizes how much more difficult the job of baseball manager is than we typically comprehend.
Jul 05

Thumbs down on Gordon’s health

Dodgers at Diamondbacks, 6:40 p.m.
Elian Herrera, LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Jerry Hairston Jr., 3B
Juan Rivera, 1B
Luis Cruz, SS
A.J. Ellis, C
Scott Van Slyke, RF
Tony Gwynn Jr., CF
Nathan Eovaldi, P

Thumb surgery on a torn ligament in Dee Gordon’s thumb will sideline the Dodger shortstop for approximately six weeks, as Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. notes. Claiming the roster spot is reliever Javy Guerra, who has been activated from the disabled list.

On the night that Mark Ellis makes his first start at second base in nearly seven weeks, the Dodgers will move forward with Luis Cruz at short and joining the ranks of obscure but memorable No. 5 hitters.

Jerry Hairston Jr., who played so well at third base early in the season before declaring he wasn’t comfortable there (he could have fooled me), will make his first start at that position since May 29.

* * *

Below is an 11-minute Forbes interview with Irwin Raij, who advised the Guggenheim group on their Dodger purchase. The link comes from Eric Young, my one-time Stanford Daily colleague and not the former Dodger.

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.

Jul 02

Luis Cruz to make Dodger debut

Reds at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Elian Herrera, CF
A.J. Ellis, C
Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B
Juan Rivera, RF
James Loney, 1B
Juan Uribe, 3B
Scott Van Slyke, LF
Luis Cruz, SS
Chad Billingsley, P

Dee Gordon is getting a day off after suffering a cramp in his leg late in Sunday’s game. Given that the Dodgers don’t really have a backup shortstop and were contemplating adding a player to the bench, it comes as little surprise that they have brought up Luis Cruz to the big-league roster, with Shawn Tolleson returning to the minors.

Cruz has been viewed by some as, if not a savior, at least a viable improvement over the oft-struggling Gordon. Without ruling out an Elian Herrera-like hot streak, it seems unlikely. The 28-year-old has a lifetime .275 on-base percentage and .260 slugging percentage in 169 major-league plate apperances, and while he is at .348 and .529 for Triple-A Albuquerque this year, keep in mind that OBP is lower than what Gordon had with the Isotopes in 2011. (In addition, as the man from Cat Hell, Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness, notes, Cruz’s minor-league OPS on the road this season is .672.) But, as a backup’s backup, we’ll hope for the best.

Gordon, by the way, had a .342 on-base percentage with seven steals in eight attempts in his past nine games. That’s not to say that his overall performance this year hasn’t been disappointing, but again, we went into 2012 knowing that he’d be a work in progress.

Ted Lilly, by the way, was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. Lilly last pitched May 23. On the bright side, Mark Ellis and Javy Guerra have begun their rehab assignments and could be activated this week.

* * *

The Dodgers announced the signings of four 16-year-olds from Latin America today: pitchers Lenix Osuna, Victor Gonzalez and William Soto and catcher Julian Leon. Osuna is the son of former Dodger pitcher Antonio Osuna.

Jul 02

Route 66


Get your kicks …

  • According to the Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN Stats & Information), 66 consecutive innings without a lead for the Dodgers tied a 107-year-old franchise record. As Bob Timmermann pointed out, that 1905 team went 48-104.
  • Also from Timmermann:
    1. Until Sunday, the Dodgers hadn’t played a game where they scored eight runs with only two of them earned since May 13, 1981.
    2. Vin Scully has not called a Dodgers victory since June 17.
    3. The Dodgers are averaging 11.5 runs when they hold Hello Kitty Day.
  • What was Dee Gordon thinking after his second error Sunday? “I can’t say it,” he told Jimmy Bramlett of LAist.
  • Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus finds a lot to write about the Carlos Lee deal that wasn’t.
  • Magic Johnson has been anything but an everyday figure in the Dodger world, writes Steve Dilbeck of Dodgers Now.
  • Clayton Kershaw’s Texas BBQ and Hoedown might be the best-named and most appetizing event I hear about all year. Tickets for the Aug. 2 benefit at Dodger Stadium start at a salivating $250.
Jun 23

Dodger Defcon ratings

Starting today, I’m making periodic contributions to the CityThink blog at Los Angeles Magazine. My first piece looks at the state of the Dodgers from a War Games perspective. Check it out …

Good teams have bad weeks, and one bad week like the Dodgers are having (with four losses in a row, including Friday’s 8-5 come-from-ahead defeat against the Angels) doesn’t ruin a season. At the same time, people have feared all along that the Dodgers are a team living on the brink of destruction in a dangerous baseball world.

In the spirit of War Games, here’s a snapshot of which Dodger problems are tic-tac-toe and which are global thermonuclear war …

Read the rest at CityThink …

May 19

Gordon might head to minors soon

From Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com, after a postgame chat with Dodger manager Don Mattingly:

… Mattingly seemed to concede for the first time after the game that shortstop Dee Gordon might not be long for the leadoff spot. Gordon continued to struggle there, going 0-for-5 without hitting a ball out of the infield, and he now is 2-for-31 over the past seven games.

“Seeing it from where I was at tonight, it wasn’t very good,” said Mattingly, who got to watch most of it from the center-field television camera on the television in his office because he was ejected by plate umpire Tom Hallion in the top of the third inning. “The game seems to be moving awfully fast for him right now. We are going to continue to make decisions. But in the same breath, this kid is going to be a good player. He is going through something right now that is going to make him a better player later on.

“Things aren’t easy in this game, and there are times when you’re going to go through rough stuff. He is going through some rough stuff right now.”

Reading between the lines of Mattingly’s comments, it sounds like something will happen with Gordon soon, possibly before Saturday night’s game. Because Gordon is such a key part of the Dodgers’ future, it isn’t likely anyone is going to let him sit around on the bench. A stint in Triple-A would seem more logical because it would mean he would be getting regular at-bats and have a chance to work out the kinks, something he couldn’t do as a reserve player in the major leagues. …

Gordon’s batting average fell to exactly .200 Friday, with a .239 on-base percentage.

One delaying factor could be the health of Mark Ellis, who had to leave Friday’s 6-5 Dodger victory over St. Louis shortly after he was hit with a hard takeout slide. X-rays were negative, but if Ellis has to miss any games, that would remove another starter from the Dodger infield. That said, the Dodgers could still bring up someone like Ivan De Jesus to be a reserve to back up the infield of, yes, Adam Kennedy, Justin Sellers and Elian Herrera.

Herrera, who drew the eight-pitch walk to start the bottom of the ninth and then went from first to third on Adam Kennedy’s fourth hit, could see more playing time thanks to that at-bat.

May 16

Gordon sits for second time in four games

Dodgers at Padres, 3:35 p.m.
Tony Gwynn Jr., CF
Elian Herrera, 2B
Bobby Abreu, LF
Andre Ethier, RF
Jerry Sands, 1B
Justin Sellers, SS
Adam Kennedy, 3B
Matt Treanor, C
Chris Caupano, P

Dee Gordon started 29 of the Dodgers’ first 33 games, but today he is a reserve for the second time in the team’s past four.

After beginning May with a promising .898 OPS in his first seven games, Gordon is 2 for 23 with no walks, no steals and eight strikeouts dating back to May 9.

Apr 20

Don’t panic over Dee Gordon

Dee Gordon’s hitting and fielding over the season’s first two weeks is no worse than anyone should have anticipated.

If there were no hope for him, it might be time to replace him. If there were someone obviously better, it might be time to replace him. If he were the sole problem in a lineup that would thrive in his absence, it might be time to replace him.

None of those things are the case. The plan, all along, has been for the Dodgers to enjoy what they can get from Gordon and let him develop. Two weeks into the season, there is no reason to change that plan.

Angel Berroa started 65 games for the 2008 Dodgers. I think we can live with Dee Gordon for now.

Apr 15

Oh, the insanity! Triple play leads to Dee-day, Dodger hooray

www.ajellisfacts.tumblr.com

Runners were on first and second with none out in a tie game in the top of the ninth when Javy Guerra threw a pitch so far inside that it nearly hit Don Mattingly in the Dodger dugout.

Jesus Guzman, attempting to bunt, tried to get out of the way, but instead of turning his back and earning a trip to first base the hard way, he kept his bat out – and the ball found a spot in between his hands on the wood. It landed on the dirt just behind home plate, and as umpire Dale Scott began gesticulating, it rolled fair.

The most underrated player in baseball in 2012, A.J. Ellis, picked up the ball the moment it went fair and fired it down to Juan Uribe at third base, starting an around-the-horn triple play that showed, with incredible authority, that Guerra absolutely has the stuff to dominate the ninth inning.

It also kept the Dodgers alive on an afternoon in which Clayton Kershaw had some rare struggles, alive long enough for Dee Gordon to single in the game-winning run with two out in the bottom of the ninth for a 5-4 victory over the Padres.

The Dodgers have won six games in a row and still have baseball’s best record at 9-1. (Milwaukee lost today, ensuring that the Dodgers will go at least another three games before playing a team whose record is above .500. )

Matt Kemp hit his sixth homer in the season’s first 10 games and had hits in his first three at-bats to raise his batting average at one point to .500. Andre Ethier drove in his 15th run of the season, and Juan Rivera had two RBI. Thanks largely to their contributions, the Dodgers led 4-1 after three innings.

But Kershaw wasn’t his untouchable self today, allowing seven hits in the first five innings (and an unearned run thanks to a third-inning Gordon error) before walking the bases loaded in the sixth. A one-out, RBI single by Orlando Hudson ended Kershaw’s day, and a two-run single by Jeremy Hermida off Josh Lindblom handed the defending Cy Young Award winner his third straight no-decision to start 2012.

Los Angeles, which ultimately left 15 runners on base – including the three celebrating the victory after Gordon’s hit – nearly scored the go-ahead run in the sixth inning (when Ethier struck out with two on), seventh inning (when Gordon struck out with three on) and eighth inning (when Kemp’s no-out near-single was turned into a double play by Hudson, who was covering second because Mark Ellis was running).

Gordon hadn’t exactly been having the best day, though he had stolen two bases (giving him an MLB-high seven on the year) and made a fine running catch in left-center in the eighth. But he went with the last pitch he saw in the ninth and hit it sharply into left field, ending all the drama except for whether his small frame would survive the mammoth Kemp-led dogpile.

Matt Guerrier, Kenley Jansen and Guerra combined for three shutout innings to keep the Dodgers close after their lead went away.

A.J. Ellis went 0 for 2 but walked three times to give him eight on the season (in eight games), tied for fourth in the National League. And he also had the presence of mind to start the game-saving triplet-killing.

I was at the game for the Dodgers’ last triple play at Dodger Stadium, on June 13, 1998, and that also came on an attempted bunt and was just about as bizarre. From 100 Things Dodgers:

Kurt Abbott of Colorado popped up a bunt attempt – enough to freeze teammates Jamey Wright and Neifi Perez on first and second base (the infield fly rule can’t be called on bunts). Pitcher Darrren Dreifort let the ball drop, and then the throws went from Dreifort to shortstop Jose Vizcaino to force Perez, then to Eric Young at first base to retire Abbott, and finally across the diamond to Bobby Bonilla at third base to tag out Wright. The ol’ 1-6-4-5.

Apr 11

Kershaw’s winless dominance

F-18s fly over Dodger Stadium prior to the home opener. © Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers 2012

Some Tuesday postgame data, courtesy of ESPN Stats and Information:

How Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw dominated the Pirates despite not picking up a win:
- Sixty-five of Kershaw’s 88 pitches (73.9 percent) went for strikes, the highest percentage of his career.
- Kershaw went to a three-ball count to the first hitter of the game, the only one he went to all game. The one three-ball count matches his career low in a start.
- Pirates hitters were 0 for 7 with five strikeouts in at-bats ending with Kershaw’s slider.
- With two strikes, Pirates hitters were 0 for 11 with seven strikeouts.

Kershaw held the Pirates hitless in six at-bats with runners in scoring position on Tuesday, continuing his dominance of hitters when getting into a jam.

Lowest BA Allowed With RISP, Starting Pitchers, Since Start of 2011 Season

Ian Kennedy .142
Jeremy Hellickson .161
Ricky Romero .173
Jhoulys Chacin .173
Clayton Kershaw .185 (0-6 on Tuesday vs Pirates)

* * *

Matt Kemp went 0-4 on Tuesday, but drove in a run for the ninth straight game. The nine straight games with a RBI ties a Dodgers’ record.

Most Consecutive Games with RBI, Dodgers History
Matt Kemp 9 (2011-12)
Roy Campanella 9 (1955)
Augie Galan 9 (1944)

* * *
Andre Ethier, on his 30th birthday, hit a game-winning home run in the eighth inning in the Dodgers’ win over the Pirates. The last player to celebrate his 30th birthday by hitting a game-winning homer in the eighth inning or later was Jerry Mumphrey for the Yankees against Milwaukee on September 9, 1982. Mumphrey hit a 10th inning homer in that game. (Elias Sports Bureau)

* * *

  • In a story for Variety, I explore how much TV networks can justify bidding billions of dollars for the rights to broadcast baseball games. Nice to see Dee Gordon flying across the top of the paper …
  • In five games, Gordon has four steals in five tries, and replays showed he was safe on the time he was called out.
  • MIke Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness conveniently tackles a subject I was mulling myself: how Chad Billingsley does in his next start following a great outing. It might also be worth looking at how Billingsley does after a high pitch count in his most recent appearance.
  • Today in Jon SooHoo: A photo gallery from the home opener.
  • Sons of Steve Garvey has its own nice photo recap of Tuesday.
  • His Dodger shortstop predecessor, Rafael Furcal, is 10 for 23 with three doubles, two walks and two steals to start 2012: 1.045 OPS.
  • Here’s an Associated Press story on security at Dodger Stadium for the first home opener since Bryan Stow was attacked.
  • Joe Torre conceded to Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com that at times, Matt Kemp was a difficult player for him to manage.
  • Jonah Keri of Grantland and Dave Cameron of Fangraphs discuss the need and desire to kill the save statistic and replace it with something more useful.
  • Don Mattingly and Peter O'Malley. © Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers 2012

    Another gem by Josh Wilker at Cardboard Gods, inspired by the hyphen.
  • A baseball card featuring Reggie Smith and Ryne Sandberg is the subject of a piece by Bruce Markusen for the Hardball Times.
  • Dixie Walker will be played by Ryan Merriman of ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars in the upcoming Jackie Robinson biopic, 42, reports Justin Kroll of Variety.
  • Eleven contract extensions have been signed by pre-arbitration-eligible players since the end of last season; Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLB Trade Rumors looks at the trend.
  • Carlos Santana became one of those players, signing a five-year, $21 million extension. Mike Axisa of Fangraphs examines the deal.
  • At the bottom of this Fangraphs post, you are asked to rate Dodger radio announcers Charley Steiner and Rick Monday.
Apr 07

A.J. Ellis, Dee Gordon carry Dodgers to winning finish

In a sense, too much is being asked of A.J. Ellis and Dee Gordon this year. Neither has held a full-time job in baseball before this year, and yet one is the team’s leadoff hitter and infield anchor, the other is quite possibly expected to deliver the team’s best on-base percentage.

But each player had a whale of a game in tonight’s 6-5 Dodger victory that elevated the team to 3-0. Ellis homered, walked twice and singled in the 11th before scoring a go-ahead run that was driven in by Gordon, who recovered from his slow offensive start in the Dodgers’ first two games to go 3 for 4 with two walks and three steals.

The heroics lifted the Dodgers on a night that they surrendered a 5-0 lead to a five-run Padres fifth inning that featured two singles, a hit batter, a wild pitch and five walks, including four in a row with two out. Chris Capuano, who had been pitching decently to that point, faltered by walking three after a one-out single. Jamey Wright relieved and threw eight straight balls for two more runs, and then Scott Elbert wild-pitched a fourth run in, hit a batter and gave up the game-tying single.

However, Mike MacDougal, Matt Guerrier, Kenley Jansen (pitching two innings), Todd Coffey and closer Javy Guerra held San Diego scoreless on four baserunners over the final six innings, enough time for Ellis and Gordon to deliver once more.

The Dodgers had taken a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Matt Kemp drove in Gordon with a sacrifice fly, boosted it to 4-0 when the Roadrunner crossed the plate on Kemp’s RBI single and Andre Ethier doubled in Mark Ellis and Kemp, and then made it 5-0 on Ellis’ fourth-inning home run.

Early season OPS: A.J. Ellis 1.205, Kemp 1.198, Ethier 1.021, Juan Rivera .955, Gordon .732, Mark Ellis .670, James Loney .111, Juan Uribe .111.

Apr 02

Cain, Votto to stay where they are

The big news of the day for Dodger fans involves two non-Dodgers, Matt Cain and Joey Votto, who each signed contract extensions that remove them as acquisition targets for Los Angeles. Bob Nightengale of USA Today has details.

On the bright side, at least the Dodgers locked up Matt Kemp for what might be a relative bargain compared to the 28-year-old Votto’s 10-year, $225 million deal. More money to invest in the farm system!

Elsewhere …

  • Magic Johnson will be a guest on Tavis Smiley’s PBS talk show tonight. In Los Angeles, that’s scheduled for 11:30 p.m. on KOCE 50.
  • Dee Gordon is the subject of a lengthy profile by Jon Heyman at CBSSports.com.
  • Jim Gullo’s new book “Trading Manny: How a Father & Son Learned to Love Baseball Again,” reviewed by Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News, looks like a potentially interesting read in addressing how a father and son try to defuse the effect of baseball’s substance-abuse saga.

* * *

Dodgers at Angels, 7:05 p.m.

Mar 19

Spanish-language Dodger telecasts coming to airwaves

Fox Sports is going to begin producing dedicated Spanish-language broadcasts of the Dodgers this season, along with the Angels and Clippers. I have some details in a story this morning at Variety.

… Time Warner Cable will air the Fox-produced games even as it moves toward its proposed Spanish-language channel dedicated primarily to the Lakers, scheduled to launch before the 2012-13 NBA season. Time Warner and Fox are primary rivals for the post-2013 cable TV rights to the Dodgers.

FSN said it would produce more than 100 Spanish-language game broadcasts this year and more than 150 in 2013, with an eye on continued growth down the road. The productions will include Spanish-language play-by-play, graphics, player interviews. Announcers and a full game schedule remain to be announced, but the first game for the Angels will be April 6 and for the Dodgers will be April 11.

There will be a handful of Clipper games in Spanish before the regular season ends April 25.

Fox is not charging distributors any additional fees for the broadcasts, but rather only requiring that they be made available on expanded digital as opposed to a paid tier. Ad sales will be the primary source of revenue. …

* * *

Dee Gordon’s potential is praised by Buster Olney at ESPN.com.

Dee Gordon asks a lot of questions, something that Barry Larkin noticed the first time he worked with the Dodgers shortstop in the offseason. Precise questions, about how you hold the glove in making a play at the second base bag, about how you make sure you hit the ball on the ground when you want to, about your mental approach.

This curiosity is part of the reason Larkin came away from his conversations with Gordon believing that the son of former relief pitcher Tom Gordon will become a good player — a really good player. “He’s got the ability to be an All-Star — and a perennial All-Star,” Larkin said over the phone Friday, from Arizona. …

* * *

  • Sportswriting legend Furman Bisher has passed away, at age 93. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where Bisher spent 59 years, has more, while Kevin Kaduk of Big League Stew points to Bisher’s seminal piece on Shoeless Joe Jackson.
  • At the Daily Mirror, Mary Mallory has a long piece on original Dodger Stadium organist Bob Mitchell, whose career in music dated back to the 1920s.
  • Maury Brown takes a look at the Dodger ownership finalists at Baseball Prospectus.
  • Sandy Koufax had more trouble with Hank Aaron than any other hitter, according to this post by William Juliano at Bronx Banter. Willie Mays also gave Koufax fits.