Aug 17

While on Matt Kemp Suspension Watch …

However justified his anger might have been, Matt Kemp sowed the seeds of his own suspension by making physical contact with umpires, writes Chad Moriyama at his blog. So as we wait for that unpleasant news to wend its way, here are some other happenings around town:

  • Don Newcombe, who is being honored at the annual Civil Rights Game on Saturday (between the Dodgers and Braves), is the subject of a nice piece by Spencer Fordin of MLB.com.
  • Good gravy — Brett Tomko is still out there plying his trade. Arizona signed the 39-year-old to a minor-league deal, reports Matt Eddy of Baseball America.
  • Will Rubby De La Rosa be in the same innings quandry next year as Stephen Strasburg is this year? Evan Bladh of Opinion of Kingman’s Performance is curious.
  • Former Dodger prospect Ethan Martin was interviewed at length by Jay Floyd of Phillies Nation.
  • “Major League Baseball owners have agreed to test two different advanced replay systems live during games starting next week, and if they prove accurate they could precede an overhaul of the system for the 2013 season,” reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.
  • Sandy Koufax biographer Jane Leavy has a piece at Grantland on neuropathologist Ann McKee, who is doing extensive research on head trauma that could have an impact on the NFL.
  • Some fun history of Los Angeles roadways prior to the Arroyo Seco Parkway comes via Kevin Roderick of L.A. Observed.
Nov 17

Wrapping up a big day with Newk and friends

“As the winner of the first Cy Young Award, I am so very proud of Clayton Kershaw and his outstanding performances that led to his receiving the 2011 Cy Young Award. I am reminded of Sandy Koufax whenever I see Clayton pitch and feel that there is a deep comparison between the two. Clayton has an outstanding work ethic, as did Sandy, which will show itself through Clayton’s baseball career.”

Don Newcombe

  • Cliff Corcoran of SI.com has a well-done piece looking at Clayton Kershaw’s workload and how it could mean he’s in for an early decline – or, conversely, that he’s on a Hall of Fame path. Corcoran concludes by recommending the Dodgers not dally in signing Kershaw to a big contract extension.
  • ESPN.com looks at the adjustments Kershaw made to become a Cy Young winner.

* * *

In case you missed it amid the Cy Young news, baseball has engineered a major realignment. The Houston Astros are moving to the American League West, there will be interleague play throughout the season, and biggest of all, there will be two wild-card teams in each league, who will face off in a one-game playoff. Jayson Stark of ESPN.com examines the changes from all angles, while DodgerTalk co-host Joe Block reacts to the realignment news and potential increase in interleague games by discussing whether NL teams should keep a designated-hitter type on their roster.

* * *

No, Matt Kemp, we haven’t forgotten about you:

  • David Golebiewski of Baseball Analytics has a deep examination of how Kemp is able to maintain a high batting average on balls in play.
  • For a change of pace, here’s Grant Brisbee at Baseball Nation with a history of … Matt Kemp trade rumors!
Oct 28

Sue Falsone to take larger training role with Dodgers

Sue Falsone became the first Major League Baseball female physical therapist in 2007 with the Dodgers, then shifted to a consultant role in February. Now, Stephania Bell of ESPN.com reports, the Dodgers have hired Falsone as their new head physical therapist/athletic trainer and will announce it next week. The move, Bell writes, will make Falsone “the first woman to serve as head athletic trainer or head physical therapist of a team in any of the four major professional sports leagues.”

Stan Conte, who has been the Dodgers’ director of medical services and head trainer for five seasons, is expected to remain with the Dodgers, though it’s not entirely clear what the delegation of responsibilities between him and Falsone will be. Assistant trainer Todd Tomczyk recently left the Dodgers for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Update: Bell sent me the following in an e-mail … “As far as her role with the Dodgers, I confirmed that she has always been a consultant since 2007, although between 2008-10 she did have an increased role and traveled with the team, which she did not do this year. But she has always been a consultant to them … until now where she will be formally hired.”

* * *

  • Kirk Gibson in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series had the Fall Classic’s best-ever single-game WPA (win probability added, a stat that measures how much a player’s performance contributes to a team’s victory, taking into account the situations in which a player bats)  – until Thursday, when David Freese topped him, according to Baseball-Reference Blog.
  • Hong-Chih Kuo’s “tale of perseverance” is recapped by Eno Sarris of Fangraphs.
  • Jim Mills writes at MLB.com about an exchange of letters in 1956 between Don Newcombe and Mills’ father, who defended Newcombe against racist name-callers in the stands in Philadelphia.
  • This might be the blog post of the year, from Sam Miller of the Orange County Register for The Score. Confession: My family ate Taco Bell last night.
Oct 16

October 16 playoff chat: Dodger Cy Young winners in the postseason

Rangers 7, Yankees 2, 6th inning

Giants at Phillies, 4:57 p.m.

To celebrate today’s matchup between Tim Lincecum of the Giants and Roy Halladay of the Phillies, here’s a look at how Cy Young winners for the Dodgers performed in their postseason careers:

  • Don Newcombe (1956): Newcombe famously lost a 1-0 start in Game 1 of the 1949 World Series on Tommy Henrich’s bottom-of-the-ninth home run despite allowing only five baserunners and striking out 11. Subsequent to that, Newcombe appeared in another 1949 World Series game, one in 1955 and two in 1956, and allowed 20 runs in 14 innings.
  • Don Drysdale (1962): After a two-inning relief appearance in 1956 at age 20, Drysdale made six postseason starts. Three he won in dominant fashion, including a three-hit, nine-strikeout shutout of the Yankees in 1963. He took a hard-luck, 1-0 loss in the final game of the ’66 sweep by Baltimore, and was hammered in two other starts, including the apochryphal “Why couldn’t you be Jewish too?” start on Yom Kippur, 1965.
  • Sandy Koufax (1963, 1965, 1966): The amazing Koufax allowed only six earned runs in 57 career postseason innings (0.95 ERA). In seven postseason starts, Koufax pitched two shutouts and four complete games. The only time he allowed a second earned run in a game, he struck out 15.
  • Mike Marshall (1974): Marshall pitched in two National League Championship Series games and all five World Series games for the Dodgers in 1974. Through the first six of those games, Marshall pitched nine shutout innings, allowing five baserunners and striking out seven, before being touched by a Joe Rudi home run in the middle of a three-inning outing in the final game. His career postseason ERA was 0.75, and he also stranded both inherited runners.
  • Fernando Valenzuela (1981): Valenzuela is most famous for his 147-pitch complete game against the Yankees in Game 3 of the 1981 World Series, in which he allowed four runs but won. In the four playoff starts he made before that game, Valenzuela went 31 2/3 innings with a 1.71 ERA. (He of course was also the winning pitcher, one out shy of a complete game, in the Dodgers’ decisive NLCS Game 5 triumph.) His postseason success continued with a victory in Game 2 of the 1983 NLCS and two strong outings against the Cardinals in 1985. Valenzuela wrapped up his postseason career in 1996 with a four-batter relief appearance for San Diego, leaving him with a career postseason ERA of 1.98.
  • Orel Hershiser (1988): His postseason career requires a separate post to give it justice. Well, so does Koufax’s too, I suppose, so forgive me.
  • Eric Gagne (2003): Gagne pitched shutout ball twice in 2004 playoff games for the Dodgers, who were trailing big in each game. His remaining seven playoff games came with Boston (five) and Milwaukee (two) and were mostly good, the main exception being his contributions to a seven-run 11th inning by the Indians against the Red Sox in Game 2 of the 2007 ALCS.