Feb 29

When you walk through the garden …

Rarely have I been retweeted more than I was Tuesday when I passed along this link to The Wire wind-up toys.

Now, unwind with these notes …

  • Don Mattingly confirmed to Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. that he has no plans to bat A.J. Ellis second, citing his lack of speed in front of Matt Kemp. Unfortunately, the alternative candidates’ lack of on-base percentage in front of Kemp seems not to have entered into Mattingly’s thinking.
  • Mattingly also hinted that Juan Rivera would start 2012 as the Dodgers’ regular left fielder with occasional days off. Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com added that Jerry Sands is still in the mix to be a platoon partner for Andre Ethier and James Loney.
  • Dodger relief prospect Shawn Tolleson was interviewed by John Parker of MiLB.com.
  • The Dodgers have the National League’s second-easiest early season schedule, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com. Nine of their first 34 games are against teams with winning records in 2011.
  • Here’s the full list, 200-deep, of Dodger prospect rankings from Brandon Lennox at True Blue L.A. Henry Heredia, this is your moment.
  • Gold Glove or not, Andre Ethier’s ranking in David Pinto’s PMR list for right fielders at Baseball Musings probably won’t surprise you. Matt Kemp in center field? You tell me what you think.
  • Trayvon Robinson is trying to reestablish himself after his hot start with Seattle turned into a rough finish, writes Larry Stone of the Seattle Times.
  • Tuesday in Jon SooHoo: two pics that fostered polar opposite reactions for me, Jerry Sands bunting and Matt Kemp skywalking.
  • Not surprisingly, initial reaction to the new book from Dirk Hayhurst, Out of My League, is positive. Examples: Andrew T. Fisher of Purple Row and Keith Olbermann at Baseball Nerd.
  • The statement from Ryan Braun sample-taker Dino Laurenzi is eloquently written.
  • Coming March 15-17 is a SABR Analytics conference in Arizona. Not coming at the same time is the Notalytics Conference in South Dakota, but I sure wish it were.
  • Emmett Ashford, the majors’ first African-American umpire, was given an honorary doctorate by his alma mater, Chapman College, according to Terry Cannon of the Baseball Reliquary.
  • Giancarlo Stanton: the slugger formerly known as Mike Stanton.
  • Harvard-Westlake’s Lucas Giolito hit 100 miles per hour while pitching a one-hitter for the Wolverines on Tuesday, writes Eric Sondhiemer of the Times.
  • Perfect for Leap Day: The Dodgers had the 29th-best offseason of all major-league teams, according to The Platoon Advantage.
  • KCRW’s Which Way L.A. now has its own blog.
  • Jonathan Abrams and Grantland published a vivid oral history of the 2004 Pacers-Pistons fight that spread into the stands.
  • Longtime Times columnist Steve Harvey is back writing “Only in L.A.,” host Kevin Roderick of L.A. Observed announced. The first new edition is here.
  • Watch former Cal quarterback Joe Ayoob break a world-distance record for throwing a paper airplane at ESPN.com.
  • Farewell, Monkees and Brady Bunch star Davy Jones. I was a childhood fan of both. Here, from Variety, is the 1965 ad soliciting auditions for The Monkees
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 05

Could Eric Chavez help?

If Eric Chavez can perform better in a January 20 workout than, say, Chien-Ming Wang in a parking lot, the Dodgers might have a new part-time third baseman.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported the scheduled workout:

Chavez has been working out at the Athletes’ Performance center in Arizona five days a week and he said that after three-plus years of injury problems, he is feeling good, he’s taking grounders at third and his problematic right shoulder, operated on twice, is much better.

“The throwing has been unreal,” he said in a text. “I need to see live pitching to judge the hitting accurately, but things look good.”

Chavez probably would be signed to a non-guaranteed deal, given his history, but the Dodgers are believed to have strong interest if his health checks out OK. Chavez has stated a preference for playing in Southern California, and he has spoken to Dodgers manager Don Mattingly and is impressed with him.

Chavez OPSed over .800 against righties every year from 2000-2006, which would make him an enticing platoon partner for Casey Blake, but he hasn’t had even a semi-productive season since 2007.

* * *

On the occasion of his 63rd birthday, here’s a great recap of Dodger senior player development advisor Charlie Hough’s career at Big League Stew:

… He’s the only pitcher ever with both 400 relief appearances and 400 starts. He was drafted as a third baseman, but his first minor league manager, Tommy Lasorda, decided to convert him to the mound. (“You might as well pitch. You can’t do anything else,” Lasorda told him.)

Hough learned the knuckler from a coach named Goldie Holt, and the Dodgers hired the 47-year-old Hoyt Wilhelm to help him master it. Wilhelm continued to pitch for two more seasons, retiring two weeks before his 50th birthday.

Hough was the last knuckleballer in the All-Star game before Tim Wakefield’s charity appearance in 2009. And Hough’s performance in the 1986 Midsummer Classic was legendary. He allowed a leadoff double to the Giants’ Chris Brown, then struck out the next two batters — except that Hough’s catcher, Rich Gedman of the Red Sox, failed to catch either of the third strikes, which meant that Brown scored the National League’s first run on a strikeout-wild pitch followed by a strikeout-passed ball. He is still the all-time leading winner in the history of the Texas Rangers, one of the best Hawaiian-born players and one of Reggie Jackson’s three victims in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series. …

* * *

Via Baseball Musings, pitcher Dirk Hayhurst has a message for youth coaches that’s a good read.

* * *

Phil Wallace offers his picks for the 10 best and 10 most disappointing Dodger acquisitions of the past 25 years at L.A. Observed’s Native Intelligence.

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I can’t say good night without offering a parting salute to Mike Schneider, my Variety colleague who is leaving this month to head the Los Angeles bureau of TV Guide. Mike is simply one of the best, brightest and most fun people I have ever worked with, and though we’ll march on without him, the office just won’t be the same. But I’m wishing him the best of luck on an opportunity I know he’s so excited about, and thinking now I’ll definitely have to make time for a Great Los Angeles Walk.