May 04

Today’s the day: Booksigning for 100 Things Dodgers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die


Hope to see as many of you as possible as I sign copies of “100 Things Dodgers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die” at Barnes & Noble on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena, beginning at 2 p.m. The revised version of is on sale now.

The new edition of “100 Things Dodgers” features several new chapters (including Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw) and other tidbits, as well as new information for some existing chapters. I’m looking forward to meeting readers, taking questions and talking Dodgers.

Oh yes, the Dodgers. To describe the state of things, let’s just say that I put out this tweet mid-game Friday, before Hanley Ramirez took himself out of action with the team’s latest injury.


 

The score was 0-0, and Kershaw was working on a perfect game at the time. And yet, the sport was feeling like such a struggle for this team, part of a quarter-century of constantly battling uphill while other teams flit from last to first like it was nothing, that I allowed the fatigued pessimist in me a bit of breathing room.

And then Ramirez flamed out running from second to third. I didn’t see the play until after the game, but from the tweets I saw beforehand, it sounded as if Ramirez had no business trying to go from first to third. Then I saw the replay, and these things were clear: Even after slowing down to a near jog haflway between second and third because of the injury, the throw from right field didn’t arrive at third base until Ramirez was beginning his slide. He clearly would have made it if he hadn’t gotten hurt – I watched the replay a dozen times and saw each time that his choice to go for the extra base even with none out was sound.

It was small consolation, that Ramirez’s injury came in an effort valiant, not dubious. Kershaw lost the perfect game, the no-hitter, the shutout and the one-run lead that he mainly provided with his bat. The Dodgers lost the game, painfully if un-unexpectedly, in the bottom of the ninth. Ramirez will be out again, likely for weeks, and even after Adrian Gonzalez’s neck self-corrects and Mark Ellis works his way back from his quad injury, the left side of the Dodger infield will still be Scrappy Central, emphasis on Scrap.

The injuries are exhausting. There’s no use feeling sorry for yourself in this world, but you sort of feel that, after watching 20-odd teams make the World Series in the past 24 years and enduring the Fox and McCourt ownerships, we’d catch a break from the suffering. But this season has been Sisyphusian.

If you aren’t packing up your boulder and going home, all you can do is keep pushing. Let’s rally in Pasadena today!

 

Jul 25

Hanley Ramirez trade shakes baseball world

The earthquake before an earthquake — the Dodgers’ acquisition of Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate from Miami — is official. Here’s some of what’s been posted in the 10 hours since the news broke.

  • Overall, the main concern regarding the decline in Ramirez’s performance in the past two years is that he might never be what he was thanks to a 2010 shoulder injury. It sure would be great to get Stan Conte’s take on him.
  • It’s been a weird year for Ramirez, who has a .336 batting average on balls in play at home, .198 on the road. His batting average reflects the difference, even though his power production is almost even home and away.
  • The Dodgers were able to nab Ramirez, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (via Hardball Talk), mainly because they were willing to take on his full contract, while Oakland was not.
  • Chad Moriyama is apprehensive about the trade but sees the upside as a worthwhile gamble.
  • Cliff Corcoran of SI.com is a bit grimmer, noting that the only saving grace of the deal for the Dodgers is that it improves an area of the team from terrible to less terrible.
  • While the Dodgers were trading for Ramirez, the Yankees were losing Alex Rodriguez for a few weeks to a fractured hand. That puts New York in the infielder market, as Jay Jaffe of SI.com discusses.
  • Cole Hamels will not be putting on a Dodger uniform. Philadelphia signed him to a six-year contract extension worth $144 million, the second-biggest deal for a pitcher ever.
  • After seeming on the verge of acquiring Ryan Dempster from the Cubs, Atlanta has backed off, reports ESPNChicago.com. That leaves the Dodgers as the apparent leading suitor — thanks, apparently, to the friendship between Dempster and Ted Lilly.  But this saga has had too many turns to make confident predictions about.
  • Dodger prospect Tae Hyeok-Nam of Ogden hit for the cycle Tuesday. Robert Emrich has details for MLB.com. The last Ogden player to do so was former Dodger and current Ogden hitting coach Doug Mientkiewicz.
Jul 24

Report: Dodgers acquire Hanley Ramirez

The Dodgers made their first big move of the trade deadline, and it’s for former All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez.

Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports report that the Marlins have traded Ramirez and Randy Chote to the Dodgers for Nathan Eovaldi and a minor-leaguer to be named.

Ramirez, 28, had a .410 on-base percentage and .543 slugging percentage as recently as 2009, when he finished second in the National League Most Valuable Player voting, but he has struggled in the past two years. In 2012, he has a .322 OBP and .430 slugging – far off his career totals, though still good enough at his worst to make him a central part of the shaky Dodger lineup. His 14 home runs this year top every Dodger save Matt Kemp.

Choate, who will be 37 in September, gives the Dodgers a second lefty reliever. He has a 2.16 ERA in 50 innings over the past two seasons, and left-handed batters in 2012 are 9 for 60 with three walks and 20 strikeouts against him.

At age 22, Eovaldi remains a pitcher with potential but an uncertain immediate future.  His ERA is a respectable 4.16, but he strikes out fewer than six batters per nine innings and allows more flies than grounders.

The trade won’t be ready for evaluation until the fourth player is named, but on the surface it seems sensible, offering from a position of relative depth for a position of desperate need (and using the Dodgers’ newfound cash reserves to make it happen by paying the remaining big salary owed on Ramirez’s contract, which runs through 2014). Ramirez can play shortstop, as he did until Jose Reyes joined the Marlins, or he can play third base, as he has this season. He happens to be the same age Rafael Furcal was when he came to Los Angeles.

Ramirez has been sidelined since July 20 with a hand infection that came after he punched a dugout fan.

To replace Eovaldi in the starting rotation, the Dodgers have short-term minor-league options, as well as their ongoing pursuit of such outsiders as Ryan Dempster and the imminent recovery of Ted Lilly, who is nearing a minor-league rehabilitation assignment. Next year, Rubby De La Rosa, whom I believe is the sole untouchable pitcher in the Dodger universe next to Clayton Kershaw, should be ready to step in to a starting slot as well.

Update: Rosenthal is now reporting that the other Dodger going to Miami is Scott McGough, a 22-year-old righty reliever who has a 3.88 ERA, 24 walks and 47 strikeouts in 46 1/3 innings with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga.  It’s clear that the Marlins wanted to reconfigure themselves without the weight of Ramirez’s contract, which pays him $15.5 million in 2013 and $16 million in 2014, as well as the remainder of a $15 million 2012 salary.

“The Miami Marlins have identified infielder Hanley Ramirez as the core of their woes,” wrote Bob Nightengale for USA Today. “Ownership wants him gone. Manager Ozzie Guillen is tired of him. And the fans have grown indifferent.”

Update 2: Ramirez’s defense is an issue – so this is just speculation, but maybe Ramirez someday follows the Alfonso Soriano path to left field, or becomes the first baseman the Dodgers have been lacking …

Update 3: It appears that Ramirez will take Adam Kennedy’s roster spot. The reserve infielder is headed to the disabled list after aggravating a groin injury Tuesday, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.

Choate will probably take Shawn Tolleson’s spot in the bullpen.