Mar 29

The Jay Gibbons saga is just depressing

Whatever your 2011 expectations for Jay Gibbons were, you’ve got to feel for the man. From Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com:

Gibbons is expected to begin the season on the 15-day disabled list because of lingering problems with the vision in his left eye, an issue Gibbons thought he had resolved when he returned two weeks ago from a visit to a San Francisco doctor who gave him a better-fitting contact lens.

Gibbons said upon his return from that trip that his vision in his everyday life was dramatically better. But he said Monday that wasn’t the case in the batter’s box, because he couldn’t pick up the spin on breaking balls.

“My vision was great coming back, but I had no depth perception,” Gibbons said before Monday night’s Cactus League game, a 5-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels before 19,415 at Dodger Stadium. “I went up there in spring training with very little chance. Those pitchers are pretty good. Once they figure out you can’t see, they cut you up pretty quickly.”

Gibbons, who lives in the Los Angeles area, plans to see another doctor here on Tuesday — “about the fifth different guy I’ve gone to,” he said — in hopes of trying yet another contact lens. His original problem was that the lens kept popping out, the result of some flattening of his cornea that is a normal result of the PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) surgery he underwent last fall as a follow-up to the lasik procedure he had in 2004.

He came back from San Francisco with a lens that had a lower base curve so it clung more securely to his eye. But he now says his vision at the plate was less clear than it had been before. …

OK, it’s not a total tragedy: Gibbons’ $650,000 salary for 2011 became guaranteed Monday. And when a door closes for one guy, it opens for someone else. But you’d still like to see a player go down swinging, instead of not seeing.

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Almost-a-Dodger Eric Chavez will be on the Yankees’ Opening Day roster (with Russell Martin and Andruw Jones), but once-a-Dodger Ronnie Belliard will not, reports Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com:

It was hardly surprising — Chavez had a terrific spring, outhitting everyone on the team for average, even the red-hot Alex Rodriguez, and showed he could still play an excellent third base and a serviceable first base — but certainly inspiring for a player hampered by multiple back and shoulder injuries over the past five seasons, and potentially a steal for the Yankees, who waited as long as possible to be sure Chavez would make it through camp in one piece.

“That one’s pretty evident with the spring that he had,” manager Joe Girardi said in announcing Chavez had made the team. “We feel that he’s healthy and we feel that it’s a good bat on a day that we rest Alex or Tex [Mark Teixeira]. I’m really pleased with what he did. …

They also released Ronnie Belliard, which came as no surprise to anyone, since he came in overweight, almost immediately strained a calf muscle which cost him nearly two weeks, and batted .136 after his return to action. …

* * *

Up in Oakland, Andy LaRoche is still waiting to hear if he grabbed a spot with the A’s. LaRoche had a .987 OPS and team-high four homers this spring, playing four infield positions. In Arizona, Tony Abreu has reportedly been placed on waivers. Pittsburgh’s James McDonald, who has thrown only 6 2/3 innings this spring, might miss the start of the season with a left side injury.

Feb 09

Notes before sunset

“Oh, occasionally the early evening, but usually the late evening — or the mid-evening. Just the early evening, mid-evening and late evening. Occasionally, early afternoon, early mid-afternoon, or perhaps the late-mid-afternoon. Oh, sometimes the early-mid-late-early morning. …  But never at dusk! Never at dusk. I would never do that.”
— Steve Martin

* * *

  • I liked this piece by Bethany Heck at Notgraphs, identifying the types of grass at all the major-league parks.
  • Michael Arkush of Yahoo! Sports catches up with Maury Wills in this feature.
  • Ernest Reyes of Blue Heaven is hunting down recordings by Brooklyn Dodger organist Gladys Goodding.
  • Eric Chavez could earn up to $5.5 million counting incentives from the Yankees. Details from Aaron Gleeman at Hardball Talk.
  • Former Jacksonville Suns play-by-play man Joe Block will join Josh Suchon as co-host of KABC AM 790 DodgerTalk, succeeding Ken Levine, who still might contribute from time to time when he’s not doing Seattle Mariners games.
  • In other radio news, a Portland, Oregon FM radio station will broadcast 75 to 90 Dodger games this season, writes Andy Giegerich of the Portland Business Journal (link via Rob Neyer).

    When pressed as to how the station decided to seek Dodger broadcasts, (programming director Brian) Jennings confessed.

    “I grew up a Dodgers fan,” he said. “I grew up in Spokane when the Indians were the (Dodgers) Triple-A team. I saw everyone from Koufax to Maury Wills to the Davises, Tommy and Willie, come through there.”

  • Ken Arneson wrote. That’s all you need to know to click.
Feb 05

Eric Chavez heads to Yankees

Eric Chavez won’t be the uncertain solution to the Dodgers’ uncertain third-base situation. The oft-injured vet is headed to the New York Yankees on a minor-league deal, as is former Dodger Ronnie Belliard.

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Fairly safe to say that the most scrutinized 2011 Dodger heading into the season will be Matt Kemp.  Here’s more detailed analysis, from True Blue L.A. newbie Chad Moriyama,

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.

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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.