Oct 04

Dodgers part ways with Blake, Garland

As expected, the Dodgers have paid $1.25 million to buy out Casey Blake’s $6 million contract option for 2012, while also declining Jon Garland’s $8 million option for next season (at a cost of $500,000). Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has more.

Both players become free agents and are eligible to sign with any team after the World Series ends, and with the Dodgers at any time. In fact, each has past experience of returning to the Dodgers as a free agent: Blake three years ago, Garland last year.

We’ve gotten mixed signals on Blake, from possible retirement to a potential willingness to come back as a reserve to the Dodgers on a cheaper contract. However, I’d be surprised if the Dodgers bid very enthusiastically on either Blake or Garland, both of whom spent much of 2011 injured, unless their salary quotes came way, way down.

Some might consider this the top story: The Dodgers also removed Eugenio Velez from their 40-man roster by outrighting him to Albuquerque. That takes him out of the team’s 2012 plans, but it doesn’t mean we won’t see him at Camelback Ranch for Spring Training next year.

* * *

  • Federal bankruptcy judge Kevin Gross has appointed a mediator to try to bridge the chasm between the Dodgers and Major League Baseball out of court. Good luck on that one.
  • Suspended list star Ronald Belisario is looking to rebuild his career, even if it’s not with the Dodgers or even in the U.S., according to this story on the Bravos de Margarita website (Google translation here) passed along by Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy.
  • Baly also has links to radio interviews with Vin Scully, Tommy Lasorda, Ned Colletti and Charley Steiner.
Oct 03

Remembering 2011: Eugenio Velez


Lenny Ignelzi/APEugenio Velez

The setup: A .264 hitter with a .701 OPS in his first three seasons with San Francisco, Velez had fallen to .164 and .555 in 2010. He was actually batting .412 after going 3 for 5 against the Dodgers on April 17 last year, but finished his major-league action with a little-noticed hitless streak of nine at-bats. Signed to a minor-league contract by the Dodgers in December, Velez settled in nicely with Albuquerque, posting a .339 batting average and .371 on-base percentage with the Isotopes in 55 games. To emphasize that last point, Velez had 74 hits in Albuquerque before he was called up by the Dodgers in July and, if you look at the Isotopes’ batting average leaders, is No. 1 among those who played in at least 10 games, above such players as Trent Oeltjen, Dee Gordon, Tim Federowicz, Ivan De Jesus Jr., A.J. Ellis, Justin Sellers, Jay Gibbons, Trayvon Robinson, Russ Mitchell and Jerry Sands.

The closeup: Um, well, Velez did not hit .339 with the Dodgers. Or .239, or .139, or .039, or .0039. Though he was twice walked and once hit by a pitch, he failed to get a hit in 37 at-bats, establishing records for a non-pitcher for most hitless at-bats in a single season as well as longest hitless streak period: 46. Since a third-inning single on April 20, 2010, Velez is an unbelievable 1 for his last 66 in the majors: an .015 average. And if not for extra innings on May 18, 2010, Velez would be riding a hitless streak of 66 at-bats. There were also few instances of Velez just missing a hit in 2011. According to Baseball-Reference.com, he struck out 11 times (including all three at-bats of his seventh and final start of the year) and made 18 infield outs, in comparison to eight outs recorded by outfielders. He was credited with two line-drive outs in the majors this year.

Coming attractions: When he reached 46 consecutive hitless at-bats, Velez broke a record jointly held by two others who spent time with this franchise, Bill Bergen and Craig Counsell. Bergen was 31 when his streak ended in 1909; he collected 70 more hits over the final two seasons of his career. Counsell was 2 1/2 weeks shy of his 41st birthday when his streak ended in August, and he actually finished the season in an 11-for-40 hot streak (.275). So it’s not as if Velez, 29, should never get a hit again. However, Velez does have a burden borne by neither of his predecessors: He has to carry his hitless streak into his offseason job hunt. No one’s going to hand him a major-league job that offers him an early opportunity to exorcise this particular ghost. Velez will be playing in some organization next year, but he’s going to have to work his way up from the minors, and then figure out how to hit it where they ain’t. Expect him to drive in a go-ahead run with a double down the line against the Dodgers sometime before the decade is over.

Sep 23

MLB calls for court to order Dodger sale

Vowing to reject any TV deal that involves the Dodgers with Frank McCourt as owner, Major League Baseball filed a motion requesting the bankruptcy court to order a sale of the franchise.

… Attorneys for the league argued in a court filing that McCourt is using the team’s Chapter 11 case to try to resolve his own personal financial problems. They said he has methodically stripped the team of its revenue sources and is now seeking to auction off the team’s television rights without league approval, which could lead to its expulsion from the league and leave it in economic ruin. …

Bill Shaikin of the Times first reported the story, which included this haymaker of a passage:

… The current Fox Sports contract with the Dodgers expires in 2013, and Fox holds exclusive negotiating rights for another 14 months. A sale of TV rights now not only would subject the Dodgers to significant damages in a lawsuit from Fox, baseball argued, but could result in MLB discipline up to and including the team’s suspension from the league. …

Fancy. Still, before it comes to that, we’ll presumably just see this continued to be played out in court.

More from Shaikin, who spoke with Thomas Salerno, lead attorney for the Phoenix Coyotes during their bankruptcy:

… By announcing its rejection of any deal before a sale could take place, and by signaling its veto of a plan that McCourt could use to pay all the Dodgers’ creditors in full, Salerno said, the league could be seen as not acting in good faith.

“I think MLB runs a risk that the judge says that’s not reasonable,” Salerno said.

Since a settlement in the case is highly unlikely, Judge Kevin Gross could issue a ruling that stands as precedent for other disputes between owners and leagues.

“This case is clearly going to make law,” Salerno said. “The league is going all in.”

* * *

Since Carl Yastrzemski won the Triple Crown in 1967, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Matt Kemp “is the only player to date to be within five points of the league leader in batting average (or leading), within one HR of the league leader (or leading), and within one RBI of the league leader (or leading), in the last 15 days of the season, let alone the last week of the season,” reports ESPN Stats and Information.

* * *

With Eugenio Velez starting tonight, a reminder of where he stands:

  • 0 for 33 this season
  • 0 for 42 since his last major-league hit, May 18, 2010
  • Since a third-inning single on April 20, 2010: 1 for his last 62 in the majors.
Aug 10

Dodger Cogs and Dogs: Edition 8


Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesEugenio Velez

Eugenio Velez gets the star treatment in this month’s edition of Dodger Cogs and Dogs.

Velez, as you’re probably aware by now, is threatening to have a historic season. He is 0 for 21 as a Dodger. Only three players in Dodger history have ever had more at-bats while registering a .000 season: outfielder Jose Gonzalez (28 in 1991, before he was sent to Pittsburgh) and pitchers Sandy Koufax (26 in 1957) and Brett Tomko (24 in 2007).

Now, Velez is a career .247 hitter, so the idea that he will go the final seven weeks of the season without a hit remains remote. So the hope is that he would get released right after breaking the record, but the continued injury problems of Dodger infielders seem to be preventing that (not that he shouldn’t be released anyway).

Nevertheless, hope remains that Velez will set a futility record before he’s done as a Dodger. Former Brooklyn catcher Bill Bergen has the longest streak of hitless at-bats by a non-pitcher, 46 – that’s the record that Milwaukee’s Craig Counsell recently threatened. What you might not realize is that Velez went hitless in his final nine at-bats as a San Francisco Giant last year, which means he’s 0 for his last 30. That puts him within flailing distance of Bergen.

In fact, if not for a 12th-inning single on May 18, 2010, Velez would be riding a hitless streak of 47 at-bats. There but for the grace of Cesar Ramos goes he.

* * *

As always, the ratings below are a combination of subjectivity and objectivity. And as has been the case for the past few editions, a dose of impatience as well.

                 
Today 7/21 6/30 6/16 5/26 5/5 4/28 4/7 Player Comment
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 Matt Kemp Hasn’t homered in past 10 games, but still has .873 OPS in that time.
2 2 2 2 2 4 4 1 Clayton Kershaw His 13 HR allowed matches career high, with seven weeks to go.
3 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 Hiroki Kuroda Leads NL in wild pitches with 11, has 23 in past two seasons.
4 4 4 5 4 2 2 3 Andre Ethier Next double (No. 194) will tie him for seventh in L.A. Dodger history with Wes Parker.
5 5 5 4 5 9 6 5 Jamey Carroll Best perfect season in steals in L.A. Dodger history is Eric Karros and Greg Brock with eight; Carroll is 10 for 10.
6 11 12 10 19 Javy Guerra Has 0.55 ERA, 9.4 K/9 since June 11.
7 9 11 22 17 18 20 24 Kenley Jansen His 14.8 K/9 leads MLB pitchers (minimum 30 innings).
8 8 9 8 22 Rubby De La Rosa Ends up striking out 112 in 100 2/3 pro innings in 2011. Will still only be 24 in 2013.
9 6 6 7 13 20 21 20 Aaron Miles .238 OBP, .286 slugging since All-Star break.
10 29 Juan Rivera In less than a month, has matched or surpassed Thames in virtually every category.
11 10 10 15 15 10 15 22 Blake Hawksworth Lefties were 6 for 60 with one homer against Hawksworth in 2011 before Phillies teed off in sixth inning Wednesday.
12 7 7 16 6 6 7 18 Chad Billingsley In 0-for-15 slump at plate with eight strikeouts.
13 24 21 23 21 Scott Elbert Opponents have .239 OBP, .244 slugging against Elbert since June 12.
14 16 14 11 Josh Lindblom No homers allowed and has lowest WHIP on Dodger staff: 1.00 in 15 innings.
15 13 23 19 8 11 11 13 Mike MacDougal Has 9.53 ERA in ninth inning, 0.98 ERA rest of time.
16 17 15 12 16 7 5 10 Casey Blake Thanks for signing a baseball for my son Tuesday, Casey.
17 20 17 6 10 17 18 14 Ted Lilly NL’s first 25-25 pitcher (homers-steals) since Padres’ Chris Young in 2006.
18 12 18 29 28 14 17 12 Tony Gwynn Jr. Three hits, nine strikeouts in past 21 at-bats.
19 21 19 13 9 13 9 6 Rod Barajas Has 10 HR, seven 2B. Rick Monday had 11 HR, one 2B in 1981.
20 25 26 21 14 12 12 8 Matt Guerrier Eyeing sixth consecutive year with exactly one save. No MLB reliever has ever had seven.
21 18 24 18 11 5 8 Jon Garland His 1.4 K/BB ratio (before injury, of course) worst since 2002.
22 19 16 30 Trent Oeltjen Had two SB in MLB debut, has three in 65 games since.
23 22 22 17 7 16 14 Jerry Sands 1.096 OPS at home, .640 OPS on road in Triple-A.
24 14 13 9 Dee Gordon Current 6.0 SB/BB ratio (12/2) is top-five in NL history.
25 27 25 28 20 21 22 15 A.J. Ellis Has .487 OBP in Triple-A road games this year.
26 26 32 35 27 27 29 Dioner Navarro Had 1.038 OPS in 2008 ALDS.
27 28 27 25 18 30 Jay Gibbons Nice play by Jay here.
28 31 29 26 24 15 19 Vicente Padilla Dennis Martinez reportedly tutored Padilla on changeup as an amateur. Padilla is second all-time to Martinez in strikeouts by Nicaraguan pitcher.
29 Nathan Eovaldi Fifth 11th-round draft choice by Dodgers to reach majors.
30 34 37 36 29 25 27 11 Xavier Paul .331 OBP vs. righties this season. .115 vs. lefties.
31 30 35 32 31 Juan Castro His last name is the same as a longtime ruler of Cuba.
32 32 30 27 25 19 16 9 Jonathan Broxton Not expected to pitch again this season before late September, if then.
33 15 8 14 23 32 23 17 James Loney Worst OPS in NL since All-Star break: .416.
34 23 20 20 12 8 10 25 Juan Uribe Making little progress in recovery, reports MLB.com.
35 35 36 33 30 29 Russ Mitchell Last week’s PCL Player of the Week: 14 for 30 with 31 total bases.
36 36 31 24 33 35 33 Ramon Troncoso In first MLB game, 4/1/08, faced one batter, got double-play grounder.
37 37 38 37 32 26 26 John Ely K/9 ratio in Triple-A goes from 7.4 in 2010 to 5.9 this year.
38 38 40 39 34 28 30 21 Hector Gimenez Three HR in 46 AB at Spring Training, five HR in 159 AB in Double-A.
39 39 41 40 35 31 31 Jamie Hoffmann Set record for consecutive errorless games by PCL outfielder.
40 42 39 38 37 33 27 26 Ivan De Jesus Jr. Had game-winning RBI in Chicago on May 2.
41 33 28 34 26 22 13 19 Marcus Thames Last week, it was reported that Thames had suffered an undisclosed injury and left Yankees’ Tampa facility.
42 44 33 31 36 23 24 7 Rafael Furcal Has played every inning for St. Louis in nine games this month, with .595 OPS.
43 43 42 42 39 34 32 23 Lance Cormier Rough July in Durham: 17 2/3 innings, six runs.
44 41 34 41 38 24 25 16 Hong-Chih Kuo It says something about this town’s appreciation of Kuo that no one has called for his release.
45 40 Eugenio Velez Had a three-hit game against Dodgers in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Jul 04

Dodgers add Velez to bench so that Gordon can play every day in minors

A day after sending Casey Blake to the disabled list and activating Rafael Furcal, the Dodgers gave Dee Gordon his ticket back to Albuquerque and purchased the contract of Eugenio Velez, who had a .371 on-base percentage and .463 slugging percentage while playing second base, third base and the outfield for the Isotopes.

The 29-year-old Velez has played 225 games in the majors, all with the Giants, for whom he had a .300 on-base percentage and .388 slugging percentage. He had his exhibition season with the Dodgers cut short this year by an ankle injury.

* * *

James Surowiecki’s Financial Page column for the New Yorker, “Dodger Mania,” turns out not to be about our local baseball team.

Dec 13

Eugenio Velez wins a trip to Camelback

Thinking of a Dodger bench trio that could be made up of Juan Velez Mitchell (almost no one will get that joke, and those who do won’t laugh) …

  • Add Eugenio Velez to the Dodgers’ list of non-roster invitees to Spring Training 2011. Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has details.
  • Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. has drawn up Clayton Kershaw’s five-year, $36 million contract with the Dodgers, leaving both parties the small detail of signing it.
  • How bad were the free agent signings of 2006-07? Dave Cameron of Fangraphs shows you.
  • If MLB worked like the BCS, here’s what the bowl matchups would have been, according to Dayn Perry of Notgraphs.
  • You’ve probably seen it, but the video of the snow pouring through the collapsed Metrodome roof in Minnesota is pretty amazing.
  • Sons of Steve Garvey passes along a link to Peter Keating’s ESPN.com post discussing Sandy Koufax’s perfect game as the most perfect of perfect games.
  • Fun list at Baseball-Reference.com of the players who hit the most home runs while playing in under 1,000 career games.  No. 5: Henry Rodriguez.
  • MLB Network’s first-time-in-50-years broadcast of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series is Wednesday. Set your DVRs.