Jul 06

Tommy Lasorda’s game for the ages

Tommy Lasorda recalls the time he struck out 25 while allowing 23 baserunners in a 15-inning game — with documentation! Lasorda also drove in the game-winning run (link from May via Baseball Think Factory).

The headline for the post is, “If you believe in pitch counts, read this.” I wonder, though, if Lasorda might have had a better major-league career if he hadn’t pitched a game like this.

Or not. In the minors, Lasorda walked 1,158 and struck out 864.

  • You think you had it rough? Hiroki Kuroda had it rough. This profile by David Waldstein of the New York Times is something.
  • Addressing increasing trade rumors about top Dodger pitching prospect Zach Lee, Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness brings the rationality.
  • Luke Scott of Baltimore is channeling Eugenio Velez with an 0-for-39 slump, notes David Brown of Big League Stew.
  • For an overseas perspective on the MLB All-Star Game, read Nat Coombs’ piece for ESPN America.
  • This piece by David Goldman for CNNMoney sums up all the reasons why wireless service is lacking at sporting events.
  • I wish teams would stop releasing Jamie Moyer.
Mar 30

Ted Lilly will start season on DL

Matt Kemp and Ryan Braun at Camelback Ranch today. © Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers 2012

Ted Lilly will start the season on the disabled list thanks to a stiff neck, while Chris Capuano will start the Dodgers’ third and seventh games of 2012. J.P. Hoornstra of the Daily News, Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com and Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. have details.

Lilly might make his first start as soon as the Dodgers’ ninth game, April 14. Needing only four starters in their first week, Los Angeles will carry an extra reliever, possibly Josh Lindblom.

Meanwhile, Ramon Troncoso cleared waivers and is headed to Triple-A Albuquerque, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.

* * *

In their 9-4 split-squad loss to the Brewers, Capuano struck out seven in six innings while allowing one run on three baserunners. But Jared Wright allowed three unearned runs in the eighth and Todd Coffey four unearned runs in the ninth.

Andre Ethier continued his insane spring, doubling and homering for four RBI and raising his OPS to 1.373. Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness has a piece at Fangraphs today in which he explains why he expects Ethier to go on to have a great regular season.

Dylan Hernandez of the Times adds that contract extension talks for Ethier could take place during the season.

There were brushback pitches in today’s game; Jackson gives you the breakdown.

In their other split-squad game, the Dodgers beat the Cubs, 6-3. Dee Gordon tripled in two runs, while Luis Cruz had a pair of hits and RBI.

* * *

Jamie Moyer will start 2012 in the Colorado Rockies rotation. Rob Neyer comments at Baseball Nation:

So this is really going to happen. Barring a terribly disappointing injury in the next few days, Jamie Moyer will soon become the second-oldest man to start a game in Major League Baseball’s long history, and the oldest to start more than once.

In 1965, Satchel Paige started one game for the Kansas City Athletics. He was 58 years old, and pitched three scoreless innings against the Boston Red Sox. But that was obviously a stunt; it was Paige’s first appearance in the majors since 1953, and would be his last.

Aside from Paige, the oldest major-league starter was Phil Niekro, 48 when he made 26 starts in 1987.

Satchel Paige was a performer; Phil Niekro was a knuckleballer. Meanwhile, Jamie Moyer is just another (relatively) conventional pitcher, except that he’s 49 years old and has officially earned a spot in the Colorado Rockies‘ pitching rotation. …

Fun as that is, I continue to be amazed by projections that find the Rockies will be dramatically better than the Dodgers in 2012.

* * *

  • San Francisco placed two starting pitchers on the disabled list today, Ryan Vogelsong and Eric Surkamp, according to The Associated Press.
  • Bill Bene, the Dodgers’ No. 1 draft pick the year that Clayton Kershaw was born and the team won its last World Series, “agreed to plead guilty on federal charges he operated a counterfeit karaoke business and didn’t pay taxes on sales,” according to Lindsay William-Ross of LAist.
  • Sam Miller has not one, but two good pieces at Baseball Prospectus today. Check ‘em out.
  • Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick gets a nice review from Mike Downey in the Times, as Alex Belth of Bronx Banter notes.
  • Allow me to recommend the second-season soundtrack of Treme as a great listen.
  • If your favorite Dodgers were Burt Hooton, Eric Karros, Eric Gagne, Duke Snider and Tommy Lasorda – and you really liked Karros –  you might be able to buy into the team now.
Mar 26

Dodgers invest in 16-year-old pitcher

Did the most significant moment of this Dodger exhibition season involve a teenager?

Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports that the Dodgers have signed 16-year-old Dominican pitcher Bryan Munoz for a bonus of $300,000. “The signing bonus is believed to be the largest the Dodgers have given a Dominican player since signing Joel Guzman for $2.25 million in 2001,” Gurnick writes. Hopefully, a sign of a rebirth of commitment to the international market.

Elsewhere …

  • Jamey Wright will soon be made official as a Dodger reliever, while John Grabow has exercised his opt-out clause. Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. has details on that and more from today’s Dodger action.
  • Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has still more on Jerry Sands and the possibility he was getting too much advice from coaches during Spring Training.
  • Is it the end of the line for former Dodgers Alex Cora and Joe Beimel? They were released by the Cardinals and by the Rangers, respectively.
  • Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com says there’s a buzz around town that Frank McCourt might go with the Magic Johnson-fronted ownership group even if it’s not the top financial offer, but also acknowledges that might be a naive sentiment.
  • Jim Caple of ESPN.com has a great list of 49 facts celebrating Jamie Moyer, none better than No. 1: “At 49 years and four months, Moyer not only is older than Robert Redford was when he played Roy Hobbs in “The Natural” (46 when filming began), he’s older than was Wilford Brimley (48 at start of filming), who portrayed old manager Pop Fisher.”

 

Jan 19

Moyer better blues

This post is dedicated to a real ’49er …

  • Jamie Moyer, who turns 50 on November 18, signed a minor-league deal with the Rockies with an invitation to Spring Training. Not that my expectations would be sky high, but I would have been curious to see Moyer, recovered from Tommy John surgery, in a Dodger uniform in March.
  • Here, The Platoon Advantage needs only four degrees of separation to connect Moyer to Babe Ruth and makes the case for six degrees between Moyer and Cap Anson.
  • Want to know what potential Dodger bidder Mark Cuban is up to this week? Just trying to change the business model of TV distribution.
  • Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com spoke to Cuban this week about why he’s interested in the Dodgers. “It’s an iconic team,” Cuban said. “There’s only a few franchises like that. And it’s always better to buy a team like that when they’re down.”
  • Bill Shaikin of the Times does the most thorough look of anyone yet at the threat of Frank McCourt keeping possession of the parking-lot-infused land surrounding Dodger Stadium. Because McCourt’s agreement with MLB doesn’t require him to sell that land, he can use it as a bargaining chip to extract more purchase money, hang on to it and draw millions in lease revenue from it, or do the very thing we imagined he’d do when he first bought the Dodgers eight years ago, develop it.

    As I’ve said in the past, though there’s a risk that some group will buy the Dodgers without the land, no one with the sense of a bullfrog should be willing to take the risk of remaining beholden to McCourt after the sale. Pay the man up front and get him out of Dodge.
  • The Miami Marlins appear to be the choice to succeed the San Francisco Giants as the featured team on Showtime’s baseball documentary series, “The Franchise,” Jon Weisman of Variety reports.
  • Still more from the TV front: John Ourand of Sports Business Journal explores how long MLB Advanced Media will keep its digital operations separate from TV rights sales. Stakes are high.
  • Renowned baseball historian Robert Creamer gave a lengthy interview with Graham Womack of Baseball Past and Present. His biography of Babe Ruth was one of the first serious baseball books I ever read. Here’s a small Dodger-related tidbit from the interview:

    … I first became intensely aware of big league baseball in the summer of 1931, when I was nine. My big brother, who was six years older than I, took me to my first major league game, or games — it was a doubleheader between the old New York Giants and the old Brooklyn Dodgers in the old Polo Grounds on the banks of the Harlem River in New York, below the steep hillside known as Coogan’s Bluff. John McGraw was still managing the Giants and Wilbert Robinson the Dodgers, who were generally known as the Robins. Headlines would sometimes refer to the Robins as “the Flock, as in flock of birds. I’m not sure if team nicknames were technically formal at that time. If not they soon were. Both McGraw and Robinson ended their managerial careers in 1932, and the Robins nickname soon disappeared as “Dodgers” returned. The new manager was Max Carey, whose real name was, I believe, “Canarius.” One sportswriter, Tom Meany, bowing to Max, suggested the team’s new nickname be the Canaries, but it didn’t take. …

  • “Moneyball” won approval across the pond, nabbing nominations for Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and the screenplay by Steven Zallian and Aaron Sorkin from the British Academy.
  • Our good friend Bob Timmermann wrote a terrific piece at L.A. Observed’s Native Intelligence about “L.A.’s Hall of Fame basketball coach who faded from memory,” Alex Hannum.
  • Timmermann also passes along this note: “RIP Patsy Tombaugh, wife of Clyde Tombaugh, the man who discovered Pluto. … She was also the great-aunt of one Clayton Kershaw.” Tombaugh was 99.
  • Dioner Navarro, who got a guaranteed $1 million from the Dodgers after finishing 2010 with a .528 OPS and an awkward departure from Tampa Bay, will go to Spring Training this year on a minor-league contract with the Reds after finishing 2011 with a .600 OPS and an awkward departure from Los Angeles. (Remembering 2011: Dioner Navarro.)
  • Vagabond former Dodger draft pick Preston Mattingly has hooked a minor-league contract with his dad’s former team, the Yankees. Mattingly, 24, reached base 50 times in Single-A last year.
  • Vicente Padilla signed a minor-league contract with Boston. He will compete for a spot in the starting rotation but could end up in the bullpen – health permitting, of course. (Remembering 2011: Vicente Padilla.)
  • Diamond Leung, former Dodger beat reporter for the Press-Enterprise, has been blogging on college basketball for ESPN.com but now will cover Michigan State hoops for MLive.com.
Oct 24

Dodgers cut season-ticket prices, just as fans might be more eager to buy

Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has more on this morning’s news that the Dodgers were cutting season-ticket prices almost across the board. The price-cutting is an implicit acknowledgment of the flight from Dodger Stadium this year, and what’s potentially ironic is that it comes just as the owner who inspired much of that flight, Frank McCourt, continues to see his hold on the team fraying.

The official creditors committee in the Dodgers’ bankruptcy case has formally asked Judge Kevin Gross not to approve a premature auction of the team’s TV rights, reports Bill Shaikin of the Times, labeling it a “risky proposition” and calling for a sale of the team instead. The committee did ask, however, for a 30-day period before Judge Gross rules, to increase the possibility of a sale strategy that MLB and McCourt could agree upon.

McCourt has become an underdog in the objective sense, he’s up against a huge power play at this point. That doesn’t mean he can’t score, but more than ever, he is facing a situation where in order to retain any ownership, he might have to sell a significant portion of the franchise to potential teammates. And even the viability of that scenario is fading.

In any case, the landscape might change rapidly enough that fans who reduced or eliminated their Dodger ticket purchases in 2011 might have double the reason to amp up their ticket-buying for 2012. You can find a full chart of the price-saving here.

* * *

  • Matt Kemp has been officially announced as the winner of the fan-voted National League Hank Aaron Award for top hitter. From MLB.com:

    … Kemp made one of the best Triple Crown bids in recent years, falling just short. In addition to leading the NL in homers and RBIs (126), he finished third in batting behind Jose Reyes and Ryan Braun, at .324. Kemp also led the NL in runs (115) and total bases (353). The 2011 NL All-Star also finished among league leaders in multihit games (57, tied for first), hits (195, second), slugging percentage (.586, second), extra-base hits (76, second), stolen bases (40, tied for second), on-base percentage (.399, fourth) and walks (74, tied for eighth).

    Kemp became the seventh player in Major League history to finish the season ranked in the top three in homers, batting average, RBIs and stolen bases in their respective league, joining Hall of Famers Ty Cobb (1907, ’09-11), Honus Wagner (1908), George Sisler (’20), Chuck Klein (’32), Willie Mays (’55) and Aaron (’63). In addition, the sixth-round selection in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft was the first Dodger to lead the NL in home runs and RBIs since Dolph Camilli in 1941, and the first Dodger in history to lead the NL in homers, RBIs and runs scored….

  • I meant to do some research on World Series that were tied after four games, but Cliff Corcoran of SI.com beat me to it. “Remarkably, though a tie-breaking win in the fifth game of a best-of-seven series puts the victor just one out away from a series win, just two-thirds of the teams that have won a tie-breaking Game 5 in a best-of-seven World Series (26 of 39) have gone on to win the series, and just three of the last nine teams to break a Series tie with a Game 5 win went on to win the championship,” Corcoran found.
  • I found this anecdote from Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about former Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin poignant:

    … Franklin attended Sunday’s game as a guest of general manager John Mozeliak. “He made quite a commitment to our organization,” Mozeliak said. “It was very important to him to remain part of this club. And I think that was reflected in the way we worked with each other.” Mozeliak frequently sought Franklin’s input on rival personnel during the pitcher’s 4 1/2 seasons with the club. The two have remained in contact since Franklin’s release June 30 and Mozeliak has broached the possibility of Franklin rejoining the organization in another capacity. “It’s definitely something I would think about if I decide I’m done” playing, Franklin said. As for watching the team he was a part of compete for the World Series championship, Franklin admitted, “I feel connected in a way, especially to guys like (Jason) Motte and (Mitch) Boggs. It’s fun to watch but it’s also tough to watch.” Franklin hasn’t shut the door on playing again but admits he is leaning toward retirement. “I know if it started tomorrow I’d be leaning toward staying around the house,” Franklin said. “It was pretty neat to be able to take my kids on their first day of school. My wife thought so, too.”

  • Roy Oswalt and Brad Lidge will become free agents with the Phillies buying out their 2012 options, but if you’re looking for the most fun ex-Phillie pitcher to consider, consider one Jamie Moyer, who turns 49 next month. Moyer will be more than a year removed from Tommy John surgery when Spring Training starts in 2012.
Jan 14

Fried day

Thanks to everyone for their feedback Thursday ….

  • As I suggested a month ago, Tony Gwynn Jr. might end up being the best option for the current Dodger outfield. Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com talked to Ned Colletti about it.
  • Joe Torre’s future employment with MLB could depend on his willingness to leave his newly adopted California home, writes Jackson. “Torre, who grew up in Brooklyn, moved his family to Los Angeles when he took over three years ago as manager of the Dodgers, and he seemed to hint to media members Wednesday that he would like to stay there even if he goes to work for the commissioner,” Jackson says. “But at least one source in the league office said earlier this week that the position of VP of operations probably can’t be done from outside the office.”
  • No expanded playoffs or instant replay will be coming in 2011, reports Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com (via Hardball Talk).
  • Kathryn Bertine writes at ESPNW about how Christina Taylor Green affected her.
  • Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports shares some chilling information about the gun culture among ballplayers in Latin America.
  • The Dodgers just released 47-year-old Pat Borders — who apparently has been on the team’s restricted list since 2006 — according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America.
  • In his discussion of the career accomplishments of Jamie Moyer, Rob Neyer of ESPN.com excerpts a piece of writing from Will Carroll talking about how legitimate it would be for the 47-year-old Moyer to use a banned substance to aid his recovery from Tommy John surgery:

    Moyer could, with a year out of baseball, take an intriguing step, one that seems out of character with his reputation on the one hand, but in line with his noted desire to return. What if Jamie Moyer started using HGH or other banned substances to return from his injury? At his age, getting prescriptions for HGH and testosterone would be easy. MLB had no problem allowing testosterone to be advertised during its playoffs last year, despite the fact that it was a substance that caused it no end of problems over the last two decades. There is a waiver policy that would allow for the use of banned substances, but as a free agent, Moyer would not need to have this waiver. Moyer is free to do anything his doctor prescribes. He might need a waiver when returning, if he’s taken any substance that would cause a positive test, but most of what is used medically has a fairly short detectable period.

    Would anyone begrudge Moyer if he decided to use a legal, effective substance to help in his return? Each week, some pitcher or another takes an injection of cortisone. The injection, usually mixed with a painkiller, is a quick fix, but a dangerous one. Corticosteroids can have an almost acidic effect on structures, doing long-term damage while allowing a player to come back in the short term. Many of these pitchers make a choice: take the spike and pitch, or don’t and don’t. Finding someone who declines takes quite the search; if someone does, they’ll often end up with a reputation or that tag of “bad teammate” or worse, “soft.” Moyer’s never been those things, so given a chance, would taking another kind of injection be wrong? Moyer fought through multiple surgeries prior to the 2010 season, including a nasty infection that could have been deadly, so he’s a fighter, a struggler … but could he go this far?

  • Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News profiles ESPNLosAngeles’ very own Brian and Andrew Kamenetzky. Nice story!
Dec 02

The Toy Cannon looks back


Louis Requena/MLB Photos/Getty ImagesJimmy Wynn played 11 seasons in Houston before coming to the Dodgers.

Former Dodger Jimmy Wynn recently came out with his autobiography. David Laurila of Baseball Prospectus has a good interview with him. Some excerpts:

DL: In the book, you talk about how the South wasn’t yet fully integrated when you were in the minor leagues.

JW: That’s so true. There were certain areas in Florida and the Florida State League where I played my first professional season [in 1962]… there were certain places in Florida that didn’t cotton to a black ballplayer playing in a white sport. Of course at that time, you know, I was called all kinds of names. I’m just fortunate that I wasn’t prejudiced at that time—and I’m not prejudiced now—and I was very fortunate that my father taught me the etiquette of being who you are and staying with that concept. I’ve lived with that concept for years and years now, and I’ve never deviated from that.

One of the things about the different name-callings that happened in Florida was that I had two great managers. One was Hershell Freeman, who did everything possible to make sure that I wasn’t hurt from the name-calling. He defended me a great deal. The other was Johnny Vander Meer, who everybody knows about because of the two no-hitters back-to-back. I had two great guys who I respected a great deal, and they were more or less like father figures to me. …

DL: In the book, you say that you lost the 1967 home-run crown to “the greatest legitimate career home-run hitter of all time.”

JW: Yeah, so to speak. I lost it and Hank [Aaron] and I became really good friends, mainly because of what he said to me. He called me and told me that he was going to sit out the last game of the season, and him and I would be the co-home-run champions of the National League. I said that I would love that, but that something was going to happen. And it did. I think the commissioner of baseball found out that Hank was going to sit out the last game and he didn’t want him to, and he called Hank and told him he had to play. Consequently, Hank played and hit two home runs, and I didn’t, and he became the home-run champion. He said that Jimmy Wynn should be the home-run hitting champion, because of the Astrodome. That made me feel good. It was nice for me to be No. 2, because of all the great home-run hitters at that particular time. …

DL: How did a man your size hit a baseball so far?

JW: I drank a lot of milk.

* * *

Jamie Moyer is 20 years younger than Jimmy Wynn, though you could be forgiven for thinking they once played against each other. Moyer recently had Tommy John surgery, with the hope of returning to the majors in 2012 and pitching at age 49. I made a joke the other day that his fastball might clock in with the same two digits, but truth be told, I’m past the point of doubting Moyer’s longevity.  I’d love to see him pitch at 50.

* * *

  • Baseball-Reference.com is hosting a vote on the expansion committee candidates for the Hall of Fame. Cast your ballot.
  • The Dodgers would have made the playoffs in 2000 and 2002 if MLB had instituted a second wild-card team sooner, writes David Brown of Big League Stew. The 1997 Dodgers, in theory, would have needed a tiebreaker game with the Mets.