Jun 13

Doors open and shut for Dodgers in defeat


Gus Ruelas/APDee Gordon slides home in the bottom of the eighth.

For the first time, I sat in the Dugout Club seats, which offered some interesting sights. I saw Joey Votto tell Steve Schirripa from the on-deck circle how much he liked “The Sopranos.” I held the men’s room door open for Joe Torre, whose arm was in a sling. (I would have asked why, but the extra brain exertion would have affected my door-holding performance.) I saw the special “Dugout Club Insider” magazine, with a story on Chad Billingsley test-driving a Mercedes. I saw tons of food everywhere, for free (notwithstanding the cost of the ticket that my hosts provided).

And I saw Dee Gordon, practically life-size. Oh wait – that was life-size.

Mini-Dee was central to the Dodgers’ game tonight, mostly for good but unfortunately for them, also for bad. He was diving here, throwing guys out there, flying around the bases everywhere, driving in a run with a triple and scoring one on a sacrifice fly that was hit about 27 feet. But almost literally at the moment that I was holding the door for ol’ Joe, Gordon was muffing a ground ball to open the seventh inning. Aaron Miles made another error soon after, and suddenly another door was open – this time for the Reds, who got a three-run home run from Votto off Matt Guerrier on their way to a 6-4 victory.

Gordon’s offensive efforts helped the Dodgers cut a 6-2 deficit down to two runs, in the eighth, and Matt Kemp walked to open the ninth, his third time on base in four trips. But James Loney, who had two hits earlier in the game behind Kemp, struck out, as did pinch-hitter Rod Barajas, as did catcher Dioner Navarro.

The Dodgers, who average 3.93 runs per game, scored exactly four runs for the first time in exactly one month – but lost.

It was a rough way to end what seemed like it might be another Dodger comeback – the team, for all its faults, does have a way of making you hope. But even while they’re losing, Mneep Mneep keeps it entertaining – at least from my vantage point.

* * *

Jun 12

Day-after observations: Defense! Defense!


Justin Edmonds/Getty ImagesJamey Carroll had four hits at the plate Saturday - here was his fifth. He upended Troy Tulowitzki in the fifth inning to break up a potential double play and cause a throwing error.

1) I don’t even want to think about what would have happened if Tony Gwynn Jr. hadn’t been in left field at the end of Saturday’s 11-7 Dodger victory. For a look at the catch, head to Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness.

2) Speaking of defense, now I understand what the scouts were saying about Dee Gordon’s. His ability to make spectacular plays is enough to convince you that he is the real deal at shortstop. And from what I’ve seen, he has been solid on the routine plays in his first week as well. Even more than the speed, Roadrunner’s defense has gotten me believing in him.

3) There’s still the matter of Gordon’s bat. In 23 at-bats, Gordon has seven hits and seven strikeouts, zero walks and zero extra-base hits. His batting line makes Aaron Miles, who got his sixth double and third walk of the season Saturday like Adam Dunn.

Justin Edmonds/Getty ImagesAaron Miles throws out Eric Young Jr. in the third inning Saturday.

4) Speaking of Miles, I totally get Tony Jackson’s musings at ESPNLosAngeles.com about whether Miles and Jamey Carroll have earned more playing time. My quibble would be grouping Miles and Carroll together. Carroll (.378 on-base percentage, .381 slugging percentage) has absolutely earned a spot ahead of Juan Uribe – let Uribe try to prove himself as a hero off the bench. Miles (.319 on-base percentage, .350 slugging percentage), owner of the emptiest .300 batting average in Dodger history, according to Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A., isn’t an upgrade over Casey Blake when Blake is healthy. Blake sat out Saturday’s game with a stiff neck.

5) Still, if the Dodgers started a lineup of Miles at third, Gordon at short, Carroll at second and platooned Blake and James Loney at first, how much would you object?

6) Scott Elbert and Colorado are not friends. Elbert in Denver the past two seasons: 12 batters faced, nine baserunners (.750 OBP). Elbert everywhere else the past two seasons: 30 plate appearances, seven baserunners (.233 OBP).

7) Carroll moved into eight place in the National League batting race, joining Matt Kemp (third) and Andre Ethier (fourth). The last time the Dodgers finished a year with three of the top 10 in batting average was 1955, with Roy Campanella, Carl Furillo and Duke Snider. The last time the Dodgers had three .300 hitters was 2006 with Rafael Furcal, Kenny Lofton and Nomar Garciaparra. (Here’s a full list of Dodger .300 hitters.)

8) Don’t miss this morning’s note about the Dodger Thoughts comments.

* * *

  • Don Newcombe was interviewed by Scott Bair of the North County Times.
  • We started talking about this in the Dodger Thoughts comments Saturday: MLB is mulling a realignment that would send an NL team (say, Houston or Florida) to the AL and possibly eliminate divisions altogether, with five playoff teams per league, reports Buster Olney of ESPN.com. Keith Olbermann takes down the idea at his baseball blog.
  • Kenley Jansen and Hong-Chih Kuo are doing well on their minor-league rehab assignements, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
  • The Hector Gimenez dream has been put in storage. Gimenez, who had been on the disabled list, cleared waivers and has been assigned to Double-A Chattanooga. Juan Castro has accepted his assignment to Triple-A Albuquerque.
  • Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness argues that it’s time to give A.J. Ellis a chance. Of course, that was true before the Dodgers signed Dioner Navarro to a $1 million contract in the offseason.
  • Randy Keisler, who won a contract with the Dodgers via their open tryout this spring, pitched seven innings of one-run ball to win his second straight game for Albuquerque on Saturday. Christopher Jackson of Albuquerque Baseball Examiner has the story.
Jun 10

Oh, and just for kicks … Matt Kemp, Triple Crown candidate

NL Batting Average
.336 Joey Votto, CIN
.335 Andre Ethier, LAD
.335 Jose Reyes, NYM
.331 Lance Berkman, STL
.329 Matt Kemp, LAD

NL Home Runs
18 Matt Kemp, LAD
17 Prince Fielder, MIL
17 Jay Bruce, CIN
15 Lance Berkman, STL
14 Albert Pujols, STL

NL Runs Batted In
55 Prince Fielder, MIL
53 Matt Kemp, LAD
48 Ryan Howard, PHI
47 Jay Bruce, CIN
45 Lance Berkman, STL

The odds are slim – he’s at his hottest and still only leading in one category. But still, pretty impressive.

* * *

  • The saga of Vin Scully’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame continues. As Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News reports, Southern California native Glenn Mingay is leading an effort to raise $2,500 needed to restore Scully’s star to proper condition at Save Vin Scully’s Star.
  • John Sickels of Minor League Ball reviewed the Dodger draft. Summary: “You can see the money limits here, but this isn’t a total disaster. Reed, Maynard, and O’Sullivan are all interesting, and there’s a mixture of solid college performers and high-upside, high-risk bets as well. It could have been a lot worse. But it wasn’t good, and the development staff has a lot of work to do with these raw guys.”
  • Hong-Chih Kuo and Kenley Jansen had encouraging rehab assignment debuts, writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, but the forecast looks much more grim for Vicente Padilla and Jon Garland. “Padilla has a bulging disk in his neck, a recurrence of a condition that limited him to one start in six weeks last year,” reports Gurnick. “Garland has what has been described as shoulder inflammation, but sounds a lot more like a labrum or rotator cuff tear.”
  • Bill Plaschke of the Times talked to Kuo after his appearance and writes admiringly of the pitcher’s efforts, but says he still seems unsettled.
  • Juan Castro and Jay Gibbons have cleared waivers and been outrighted to Albuquerque, but they have the right to refuse the assignments and become free agents (or retire, which some have speculated Castro will do). This makes moot the confusion over why the Dodgers designated Gibbons for assignment three days before optioning Jerry Sands, but the fact remains that the Dodgers no longer believe in Gibbons. “Gibby wasn’t giving us enough to basically have a guy that’s pretty much one-dimensional,” Don Mattingly told Dylan Hernandez of the Times. “He’s not going to steal a bag for you. You have to defend for him.”
  • Dee Gordon’s speed is the real deal, but the little guy is still going to need to improve his ability to hit line drives to succeed, argues Bill Petti of Beyond the Box Score.
  • Tough realities: The Times is killing my favorite blog of theirs, historical chronicle Daily Mirror, because of low readership (criminally low readership, I’d say). That site was a pure treasure trove, with the latest treat being a series of reprints of Jim Murray columns in this, the 50th anniversary of his Times debut. Larry Harnisch and Keith Thursby put huge amounts of time and energy into the Daily Mirror, and I just want to thank them.
Jun 09

Keeping your enemies closer …

At the end of games of May 28, the fourth-place Dodgers had a slim one-game lead in the loss column over last-place San Diego in the National League West. Los Angeles was precariously close to falling in the cellar.

Then, over their next 10 games, whether the Dodgers won or lost, the Padres did the same in nine of them:

May 29: Dodgers and Padres win
May 30: Dodgers and Padres win
May 31: Dodgers and Padres win
June 1: Dodgers and Padres lose
June 2: Dodgers off, Padres lose
June 3: Dodgers lose, Padres win
June 4: Dodgers and Padres win
June 5: Dodgers and Padres win
June 6: Dodgers and Padres lose
June 7: Dodgers and Padres win
June 8: Dodgers and Padres lose

And so today, the fourth-place Dodgers have a slim one-game lead in the loss column over last-place San Diego in the National League West.

* * *

Jun 07

Rubby, Dee, meet Ruby Dee


APRuby Dee on stage with Sidney Poitier on March 26, 1959 during the Broadway run of “A Raisin in the Sun”

In honor of the simultaneous first major-league starts of Rubby De La Rosa and Dee Gordon, here’s a portion of “A Raisin in the Sun” with Ruby Dee.

Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. has a great chart of how pitchers have done making their first major-league starts with the Dodgers in the past 10 years.

* * *

Here are not one but two updates on 2011 No. 1 draft choice Chris Reed from Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Jun 06

Dee-Day: Whirlwind of roster changes ends with Gordon callup


Norm Hall/Getty ImagesUnderneath that helmet is newest Dodger major-leaguer Dee Gordon.

Jerry Sands getting an early promotion to the bigs didn’t surprise me much. Nor did Rubby De La Rosa.

But Dee Gordon getting the call — now that’s a commitment to youth.

With Rafael Furcal once again relegated to the disabled list for weeks, the Dodgers have called up the 23-year-old Gordon from Albuquerque, where he had a .361 on-base percentage and 22 steals in 25 attempts, but also only 14 walks and nine extra-base hits (.370 slugging) in 50 games. (Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has the news story.)

Gordon has also had many questions about his fielding, particularly his ability to make the ordinary play (as opposed to the extraordinary one). On the bright side, his surge of errors in April has slowed considerably.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that while everyone has always raved about Gordon’s blinding speed, that .880 stolen-base percentage is a new bright spot. No one’s expecting power from Gordon, so if he can just get on base and stay out of his own way defensively, he could be a thrill to watch.

Gordon is not in tonight’s starting lineup, but unlike with someone such as Ivan De Jesus, Jr., you don’t call someone like Gordon up to ride the bench. Cynics might wonder if Gordon is being showcased for a trade, but I’ve never gotten the sense he’s someone the Dodgers want to part with.

To make room for Gordon and Marcus Thames, who was activated from the disabled list, the Dodgers designated Juan Castro and Jay Gibbons for assignment. This is also something of a surprise, given the Dodgers’ proclivity to protect depth — and by 2011 Dodger standards, the .668 OPS for Gibbons and .619 OPS for Castro aren’t the worst you could imagine. Sands could easily have been sent to the minors. But clearly, general manager Ned Colletti buys into the reality that they’re not going to miss much by losing Castro and Gibbons. (There’s also the not-slim possibility that the pair could end up back in Albuquerque if they clear waivers.)

Perhaps the way the young Dodger bullpen replacements have risen to the occasion has influenced Colletti.

Finally, the Dodgers optioned John Ely and De Jesus to make room for the return of Blake Hawksworth and Juan Uribe from the DL.

On the current 25-man active roster, 15 are below the age of 30.

* * *

Three years ago, I transcribed a Vin Scully excerpt on the anniversary of D-Day. This rubbed some people the wrong way, and a long discussion ensued in the comments of that thread. Just want to link to it to say I hadn’t forgotten what Scully said, nor the response that followed. It was a learning experience for me.

May 09

Ned Colletti has not repeated Bradley-for-Ethier magic

The trade of Milton Bradley (and Antonio Perez) for Andre Ethier has often been cited as a great, maybe even the greatest, achievement by Ned Colletti as a Dodger general manager. What was impressive about the yield is that everyone knew that Colletti was under orders from up top (with the support of much of the Dodger fanbase, it should be said) to unload Bradley, after the outfielder reached the point of no return in his tumultuous two years with the Dodgers. It was the kind of trade that could easily have netted a prospect that would never sniff the majors.

The news comes up again because Bradley, who has generated a .649 OPS and lots of angst in his two seasons with Seattle, has been designated for assignment by the Mariners, possibly signaling the end of his major-league career.

My purpose is not to talk about Bradley, who has been discussed here at great length, but just point out how rare it has been that Colletti has ever tried to repeat the method of this trade — exchanging a veteran in his 20s, at or near his peak value, for prospects that could contribute down the road. (Bradley was 27 and coming off a .835 OPS season when Colletti traded him for Ethier in December 2005.)

Looking quickly at the Dodgers’ transaction logs on Baseball-Reference.com, I can’t find one similar deal in the Colletti era. The closest might be the trade of Juan Pierre for John Ely and Jon Link before the 2010 season, but Pierre was already 32 and into his decline phase when the trade occurred. If you want to make a case to include this, I won’t stop you, but I’m not sure it qualifies.

It might come as no surprise that a team that regularly contends for the playoffs, like the Dodgers have under Colletti, has arguably not made a single boffo trade for a highly regarded prospect — even one who could have as much near-term impact as Ethier, who was in the majors months after the trade. But it’s interesting. We used to wonder whether Colletti would use any of the Dodgers’ exciting young players to get a proven veteran — will he ever again use a proven veteran to get any exciting young players? It did work for him before.

* * *

Bud Selig spoke to ESPN 1050 AM radio in New York about the Dodgers today:

… Selig was asked why he approved the deal that sold the Dodgers to McCourt in 2004 in the first place. Ironically, Fox had held controlling interest of the club beforehand.

“I’ll tell you what happened. There’s a lot of history here, which a lot of people don’t seem to understand,” Selig said. “There were two other bidders. Fox was anxious to get rid of the team. They were all really anxious. I’ll tell you what happened. There were a couple of groups: A group led by Dave Checketts and another group. And for whatever reason, they weren’t around at the end, so Fox sold the club to the McCourts and presented them to us. So this idea that we ought to examine ourselves, there was nobody else. We have a long relationship with Fox. There were no other bidders.” …

Selig said that MLB has added former Pittsburgh Pirates COO Richard Freeman to its team monitoring the Dodgers.

* * *

Dodger minor-leaguer Dee Gordon can be seen scoring from first base with Roadrunner speed on a sacrifice bunt and an error, in this video posted by Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness. Albuquerque Isotopes play-by-play man Robert Portnoy has the call.

* * *

From the In Case You Missed It file: the torpedoes have been damned, and back-to-back outings for Hong-Chih Kuo have been approved. Hope for the best …

Mar 09

March 9 game chat

Nam Y. Huh/APDee Gordon catches a ball hit by the Brewers’ Ryan Braun during the sixth inning Tuesday. Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has a new profile on Gordon today.

Rejected Spring Training mottos: “To the death. No. To the pain.”

  • Though the Dodgers themselves are no longer involved, there will be an adult baseball camp at the Vero Beach Sports Village formerly known as Dodgertown in November. Click here for details.
  • Don’t forget that the Dodgertown Classic, featuring a doubleheader of Georgia-St. Mary’s and USC-UCLA, takes place Sunday at Dodger Stadium. Concessions are half-price and parking is free.
  • From the Dodger press notes: “Today is the official reporting day for all Dodger minor leaguers. According to minor league clubhouse stalwart Troy Timney, there are 148 players arriving in camp and 198 lockers in the clubhouse. Minor league games will begin on March 18. “
  • Also: “Through 12 games, Dodger starters have posted a minuscule 1.09 ERA.” (four earned runs in 33 innings).
  • It’s Scorekeeping Week at Pitchers and Poets, and today offers a fun interview with Mariners broadcaster Dave Sims.
  • Tweets by Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com this morning:

    Live chicken in Furcal’s locker.

    Lenny Harris was claiming it was Furcal, who had been turned into a chicken. But then Furcal walked in.

    Chicken update: all they did was turn him loose in the clubhouse during the team meeting this morning.

    when I said turn HIM loose, I was making a gender assumption that I hadn’t bothered to confirm. Nor will I bother to confirm.

* * *

Mariners at Dodgers, 12:05 p.m. (Prime Ticket)
Rafael Furcal, SS
Casey Blake, 3B
Andre Ethier, RF
Matt Kemp, DH
James Loney, 1B
Juan Uribe, 2B
Jay Gibbons, LF
Rod Barajas, C
Tony Gwynn Jr., CF

Mar 02

Treble was I ere I saw Elbert

Royals 11, Dodgers 5

Highlights:

  • Tim Redding pitched three shutout innings, giving him five for the spring with three strikeouts.
  • James Loney went 2 for 2.
  • Relievers Ramon Troncoso and Carlos Monasterios pitched shutout ball.
  • Jamie Hoffmann (1 for 2) is now, like Loney, 4 for 8 this spring.
  • Juan Castro hit a three-run home run.

Lowlights:

  • Scott Elbert had a nightmare outing, walking four of the five batters he faced. From Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A.:

    … With assistant GM of player development DeJon Watson in the broadcast booth with Charley Steiner, Elbert was missing the strike zone every which way. Elbert came in the game in relief of Jon Link in the fifth inning, then pitched into the sixth. Watson spoke of how Elbert got more consistent in his delivery over the winter, and was able to show two dominant pitches in the Arizona Fall League, but as those words were being spoken Elbert was missing the strike zone quite often. Elbert faced five batters, and walked four of them. He threw 21 pitches, only five of them for strikes.

    On the broadcast, one could hear Watson rooting for Elbert, the Dodgers’ 2009 minor league pitcher of the year, even as he was struggling. Watson said Elbert has great stuff that is “electric through the strike zone,” and Watson seemed to take Elbert’s outing in stride. “He’s having a tough outing today, but I think you’ll see better outings from Mr. Elbert in the future,” Watson said. Elbert better hope so; he has faced 10 batters this spring, and walked six of them. He did strike out two, and the other two batters didn’t hit the ball out of the infield, but Elbert needs to show some control before he even sniffs the 25-man roster. …

  • Jon Link was charged with three runs while getting two outs; Luis Vasquez was charged with four runs while getting three outs.
  • Aaron Miles had a double but made his second error of the spring.
  • Xavier Paul struck out twice, dropping to 1 for 8 this exhibition season.
  • Juan Castro hit a three-run home run.

Sidelights:

  • Clayton Kershaw, not yet eligible for arbitration, signed his one-year 2011 contract for the expected figure of $500,000. Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has details.  In fact, every man on the 40-man roster has now been signed for 2011, with Ronald Belisario having his contract renewed and then getting placed on the restricted list.
  • The adventures of Dee Gordon, again courtesy of Mr. Stephen:

    There was a funny moment in the fifth inning, when Mike Moustakas lofted a foul pop near the photography well adjacent to the back of the Dodger dugout. Aaron Miles was in pursuit of the ball, but Dee Gordon, who was not in the game and sitting on the steps of the dugout, tried to evade Miles by moving out of the dugout. Instead, Gordon got the way of Miles, who was unable to make the catch. Watson, who was in the booth with Charley Steiner, could be heard saying something like, “Jesus criminey” or something to that effect.

  • Remarkable: Larry Granillo researched “Peanuts” comic strips for Baseball Prospectus and found Duke Snider was mentioned twice (once with Willie Mays, once with a host of players), compared to three mentions for Mickey Mantle and Mays combined, once for Mantle alone and four times for Mays alone (including the famous spelling bee episode).
  • James Loney fares a bit below average in David Pinto’s defensive statistical rankings of first basemen from 2006-10 at Baseball Musings.
  • Ernest Reyes of Blue Heaven posted photos of the new grass being installed at Dodger Stadium.
  • Charlie Sheen meets Ron Swanson x John Wooden: The Sheen Pyramid of Greatness.
  • Juan Castro hit a three-run home run. From Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:

    When he left the game after five innings and returned to the clubhouse, this note was posted on the bulletin board:

    “Juan Castro: Please report to [Dodgers trainer] Stan Conte after the game for a mandatory steroid test.”

Update: Jackson writes about Castro and Elbert.

Feb 21

You get a line, I’ll get a pole, my honey …


Morry Gash/APXavier Paul takes his swings at Camelback Ranch today.

Maury Wills sings “Crawdad Hole.” Thank you, Blue Heaven.

Elsewhere …

  • One of the lesser-known but valuable defensive statistical tools is PMR (Probabilistic Model of Range), by David Pinto of Baseball Musings. Today, he published shortstop data for the period 2006-10. The Dodgers are No. 6 out of 30 teams at the position, thanks mostly to Rafael Furcal, who is seventh-best in baseball over that stretch – fourth among those who have seen at least 10,000 balls in play in their zone.
  • Andre Ethier wants to be a more uplifting leader for the Dodgers this year, he tells Dylan Hernandez of the Times. Don Mattingly suggested a role model for Ethier: Derek Jeter.
  • It just keeps getting worse for Scott Podsednik. Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star reports that “Podsednik suffered a re-aggravation of foot injury he first came down with in 2010, and will not be immediately available to open spring training with the team.” Jays manager John Farrell said the ex-Dodger, whose unguaranteed contract gives him $1 million for making the team, is battling plantar fasciitis again.
  • I’ve been meaning to highlight this for a long time but kept forgetting: Brandon Lennox of True Blue L.A. went to the trouble of ranking and providing detailed capsules of the Dodgers’ top 200 minor-league prospects. Here’s your path to the trove.
  • A 7-foot-1 pitching prospect? You be the judge: Bill Plunkett of the Register has a fun feature on the Angels’ 85-inch minor leaguer, Loek Van Mil.
  • Dee Gordon, interviewed by Josh Jackson for MLB.com, says he isn’t expecting Stephen King to write “The Girl Who Loved Dee Gordon.”
  • ESPN.com has an entire page dedicated to 6-foot-2 high school basketball player Diamond DeShields, daugher of Delino and class of 2013.
Feb 17

Today’s Dodger Facebook status updates

Kyle Terada/US PresswireChad Billingsley is digging fielding practice today at Camelback Ranch.

Friend this …

Feb 04

Feel-good Friday

Health is this morning’s lead topic …

  • Injury prevention continues to offer potential as the next Moneyball (i.e., exploiting the undervalued) frontier. Will Carroll writes about the topic for SI.com (link via new SB Nation national baseball editor Rob Neyer, who has his own comment).
  • Neyer also links to Corey Hawkins’ new Baseball Injury Tool, a website that I suspect a lot of us will soon find indispensable.
  • Jim McLennan of AZ Snakepit studies the importance of starting pitching depth, noting among other things that even the most stable rotation in the National League, San Francisco’s, needed 19 starts outside of its main five pitchers.
  • Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News has completed his massive project, “The Tao of Vin Scully”: 21 sportscasters discussing what makes the Dodger legend great.
  • Before we leave the Daily News, I have to pass along Kevin Modesti’s “Where Are They Now” story on “Family Affair” boy Johnny Whitaker.
  • The ups and downs of James Loney’s professional career, dating back to draft day in 2002 (goodness), are reviewed by John Sickels at Minor League Ball.
  • David Young and I have had All-Something fever lately.  His latest at True Blue L.A.: The Los Angeles Dodgers All-Short Stuff Team.
  • Here’s a retrospective of the Dodgers’ Burt Shotton era, courtesy of Steven Booth and the Hardball Times.
  • The inimitable player/author/speaker Dirk Hayhurst offers his “Ten Commandments of Social Networking as a professional athlete” (via David Pinto’s Baseball Musings).
  • Baseball co-blogger David Newhan is lacin’ ‘em up again, signing a minor-league deal with the San Diego Padres.
  • If I could have had just half of Dee Gordon’s Thursday, I’d have been happy: “I swear I just had the best nap ever! My body is feeling it from these intense workouts!”
  • Update: Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com looks at the Dodger infield heading into the coming season.
Jan 21

More Dodger prospect ponderings

I’m growing increasingly numb to the various lists ranking Dodger prospects. My interest in the prospects themselves hasn’t waned, but more and more, the ordering of them seems to have been generated like letter-number combinations from a Bingo tumbler.

Here are two more lists, from Baseball America and from Fangraphs. As if to thumb their nose at my state of mind, both rank Dee Gordon and Zach Lee first and second, but for example, BA has Trayvon Robinson 10th, while Fangraphs has him third.

I think I just enjoy getting information about the players rather than worrying about what order they should be in. In that spirit, here’s one excerpt: BA’s Best Tools in the Dodger farm system. You can see why BA likes Gordon – errors aside, they rank him as the team’s best defensive infielder.

Best Hitter for Average: Dee Gordon
Best Power Hitter: Jerry Sands
Best Strike-Zone Discipline: Justin Sellers
Fastest Baserunner: Dee Gordon
Best Athlete: Dee Gordon
Best Fastball: Kenley Jansen
Best Curveball: Chris Withrow
Best Slider: Scott Elbert
Best Changeup: Allen Webster
Best Control: Zach Lee
Best Defensive Catcher: Gorman Erickson
Best Defensive Infielder: Dee Gordon
Best Infield Arm: Pedro Baez
Best Defensive Outfielder: James Baldwin
Best Outfield Arm: Blake Smith

* * *

I’m finding the transformation of Dodger Stadium into a supercross arena fascinating, if not a little frightening. I really would be curious to see it for myself. In any case, Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News gives us a look and talks to Dodger Stadium head groundskeeper Eric Hansen about his fears.

Jan 10

Dee Gordon: How close is he?

The third in a series of at least three, on how close selected Dodger prospects are to the majors …

Dee Gordon
Vitals:
SS, bats left, throws right, 5-foot-11, 150 pounds, turns 23 on April 22.

Summary: In 2010, Gordon’s numbers suffered as he moved into Double-A – something that isn’t uncommon among Dodger prospects, as the Southern League represses offense relative to its Single-A counterparts. Gordon’s .332 on-base percentage and .355 slugging percentage were career lows, as was his 72.6 stolen-base percentage (53 of 73). He was also charged with a career-high 37 errors, albeit in a career-high 133 games.

For comparison’s sake: Good luck finding one in recent times.  The last homegrown product considered to be a blue-chip prospect at shortstop for the Dodgers was … Jose Offerman. And Offerman made his major-league debut at age 21, despite concerns about his fielding, thanks to an OBP at Double-A and Triple-A of nearly .400. Alex Cora, a fringier prospect, reached Double-A in 1997 at age 21, OPSed .596, and reached the majors a year later in 1998, staying for good in 2000.

Mystery train: Gordon invites divided opinion, because his strengths and his flaws are so glaring. The guy can flat out run, as evidenced by his stolen base and triples totals, and there’s batting potential in the Juan Pierre sense. And though his 95 minor-league errors in 319 games are shocking, scouting reports indicate that they are the kinds of miscues can be ironed out over time; meanwhile, his range and arm are highly praised. Although his father Tom played 21 seasons in the majors, Gordon came to the game relatively late in school, encouraging some to give him the benefit of the doubt.  Others don’t see how he’ll grow into a front-line player.

How close is he? In different circumstances, 2012 might seem to be the earliest Gordon would reach the majors, with a starting job not in sight for at least another year after that. However, 2011 likely marks the end of the six-year Rafael Furcal era, and by now it’s safe to expect that that era will include at least one more trip to the disabled list for the otherwise talented Dodger shortstop. While Jamey Carroll has shown he can fill in for Furcal, a prolonged absence conceivably could compel the Dodgers to accelerate Gordon’s timetable, allowing him to reach the majors this summer.

But barring a massive developmental leap, Gordon has at least a solid year in the minors left, save a potential September callup. The Dodgers could be faced with an interesting decision a year from now. Gordon strikes me as someone whose maturation date could be July 2012 – if so, what do the Dodgers do for the first three months of next year? Rush him or find a stopgap?

There’s been some talk that Gordon might eventually move to center field because of his error-filled ways, but with his good buddy Trayvon Robinson looking like a contender, I don’t really see it happening. You just kind of have to hope that Gordon irons out his fielding woes – and if he can, the Dodgers could have their first homegrown shortstop in ages.

Did you know? The Dodgers haven’t had a homegrown five-year starter in the middle infield since Steve Sax.