Mar 03

Hitting prospects Silverio, Songco sidelined

Minor-league center fielder Alfredo Silverio, considered by some the Dodgers’ top position-player prospect, will be sidelined indefinitely as he recovers from a serious January car accident in the Dominican Republic. Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. and Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com reported initial details, and Jackson has a follow-up.

… In short, the kid is lucky. From talking to various people (still haven’t been able to talk to Silverio), this is what I have been able to cull: the accident happened on a stretch of road called Curva de la Muerte, which translates to Curve of Death. Apparently, he was going about 60 mph and lost control, the car going off the road and flipping several times. He temporarily lost consciousness, and the car was demolished. …

Silverio, 25 in May, had a .883 OPS for Double-A Chattanooga last year.

Meanwhile, Angelo Songco “is expected to miss the next two to three months after having a rod inserted into his lower right leg,” Jackson adds, the results of complications from a 2011 injury. Now 23, Songco had a .948 OPS for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.

* * *

  • The boys in the press corp also confirmed that Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to pitch the season opener in San Diego on April 5 and the home opener in Los Angeles on April 10. An off day follows the Dodgers’ first four games, meaning that the No. 5 starter, probably Chris Capuano, will be in the bullpen for the first series of the year. The last Dodger pitcher to start a road Opening Day and a subsequent home opener was Tim Belcher in 1989, in part because Orel Hershiser had the flu.
  • Today in Jon SooHoo: Kirk Gibson and Hershiser in that spring of ’89.
  • Dee Gordon had to get stitches on his lip today following a bad-hop grounder, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Times.
  • Blake DeWitt, at age 26, has earned the moniker “professional hitter” from Cubs manager Dale Sveum, according to Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com.
  • Manager Pedro Guerrero? Oh yeah …
  • Adrian Beltre, bathroom trendsetter? Okay …

 

Jan 13

Kershawing

Orel Hershiser probably took the most famous thanks-be-to-God knee in Dodger history, and in the aftermath of the 1988 season, religion became a small component of the Hershiser story. It did not bother me, though I could not relate to it at all.

On Tim Tebow, I have no opinion of significance. I’ve seen him play most infrequently, though I did catch a glimpse of his game-winning throw Sunday against Pittsburgh, a play of beauty. I gather that is more talented than your average bear but filled with heaps of inconsistency.  I also gather he is pious and sincerely so, though perhaps at times holier-than-thou. His politics might not be my politics, something that’s probably true of many athletes. He’s so far off my radar that I’ve never actually seen him perform the act of Tebowing. 

Someone I do have an opinion of is Clayton Kershaw, whom I would say is supremely talented, remarkably consistent and whom I’m led to believe is similarly devoted to his religious life as Tebow. In 2011, Kershaw earned his greatest national accolades with a Cy Young-winning season, yet relative to Tebow, I imagine Kershaw is still a largely undiscovered property. Tebow is a national phenomenon; while Kershaw is merely a superstar. There’s no catchphrase known as Kershawing.
 

It’s funny to be in the position of wondering whether I would be bothered or enthralled by Tebow if I were only paying more attention, instead of simply regarding him as a far-off curiosity. All I do know is that, as a person whose religious fervor is confined to the Great Dodger in the sky, I feel blessed to have the guy we have. 
 

Update: As it happens, about an hour after I drafted this post, the Dodgers announced that Kershaw and his wife Ellen will meet with the media at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday “to discuss their new book, titled ‘Arise: Live Out Your Faith and Dreams on Whatever Field You Find Yourself,’ their latest trip to Africa and the upcoming 2012 Dodger season.”

Dec 04

Manny happy returns?

Wrapping up the last week and starting a new one chock full of bullet points …

  • Manny Ramirez is moving forward with plans to get himself back in the majors for 2012, but would probably to need to still serve 50 games as a suspended player, writes Buster Olney of ESPN the Magazine. Ramirez, who turns 40 on May 30, went 1 for 17 with the Rays in 2011 before his season abruptly ended. He could show what shape he’s in with a nonroster invite to some team’s Spring Training.
  • The Dodgers are taking applicants to fill the position of vice president of public relations (link via AZ Snakepit). The Dodgers aren’t holding off until the ownership switch to make the hire: Public relations wait for no one.
  • Clayton Kershaw was interviewed by Molly Knight for ESPN the Magazine.
  • Baseball America’s annual Dodger prospects top 10 has Zach Lee on top, followed by Allen Webster, Nathan Eovaldi and then the first position player, outfielder Alfredo Silverio. Looking at the article, you know what cracks me up? The fifth-highest amateur signing bonus in Dodger history still belongs to 2000 draftee Ben Diggins.
  • I think it’s worth a reminder that Lee could be in the majors before the 2012 season is over, though it probably wouldn’t be until 2013 that he begins making any kind of impact. He’s about a half-season behind the development of Kershaw, whose debut came in May 2008, 23 months after the Dodgers signed him. Lee, who had a 3.47 ERA with 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings and a 1.22 WHIP in 2011 for Single-A Great Lakes, should hit Double-A in 2012 at age 20, the same age Kershaw was (though he’s not at the same performance level as Kershaw, who had 12.4 K/9 with Great Lakes).
  • When the Red Sox hired Bobby Valentine to manage, I joked on Twitter that his ESPN broadcast partners Orel Hershiser and Dan Shulman could join him on the coaching staff. Well, in the case of Hershiser, the Red Sox are in fact interested in him as a pitching coach, writes Sean McAdam of Red Sox Talk – assuming Hershiser’s pursuit of Doger ownership doesn’t get in the way.
  • Some vintage Tommy Lasorda cursing is available in this video passed along by Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy.
  • Ross Newhan calls the theory a “longshot,” but he explains the substance behind why some think Frank McCourt could renege on his commitment to sell the Dodgers.
  • More Newhan, on Magic Johnson’s entrance into the Dodger ownership race:

    … In announcing his intention to bid for the Dodgers with usual flair and enthusiasm, Johnson said he would try to build the Dodgers in the Showtime mold of his star-driven Laker teams, recruiting prominent players and paying the price for free agents.

    This is an area that Kasten and others may want to advise Johnson that it would be better to low key. Many of the 29 other owners who will eventually vote on the McCourt successor may not be happy to hear that Magic intends to pay any cost to restore Dodger prominence, driving up salaries in the process. …

  • Two views of the Dodgers’ Chris Capuano signing: Eric Seidman of Fangraphs doesn’t hate it, while Christina Kahrl of ESPN.com thinks it pretty grim.
  • DodgerTalk alum Ken Levine said he will do more Seattle Mariners radio broadcasts next year.
  • Russell Martin is expected to return to the Yankees in 2012, writes Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com.
  • Ken Arneson has an interesting piece on why the opening of a Giants Dugout Store in Walnut Creek is meaningful to the rest of the baseball world.
Nov 11

This one goes to 11-11-11


Getty ImagesManny Mota Mota Mota …

There has still been no contact from the kidnappers of Washington catcher Wilson Ramos, more than a day since he was abducted. But Venezuelan authorities have said they are confident they will find him.

I can’t tell that this story is getting the coverage it deserves, although it is mostly just a painful waiting game. I’m thinking my best thoughts.

* * *

Catching up on some Dodger ownership news and notes:

  • Orel Hershiser tells the skeptics his group will have the dough, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
  • Shelburne writes that the new owners, whoever they are, need to look toward the future to be successful, not the past.
  • Patrick Soon-Shiong, who bought Magic Johnson’s minority stake in the Lakers last year and reportedly the richest man in Los Angeles, has been approached by at least one Dodger ownership group, reports Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
  • One ownership candidate who has the money is former Buffalo Sabres owner Tom Golisano, write Craig Karmin and Matthew Futterman of the Wall Street Journal. However, the Journal says “he has never attended a game at Dodger Stadium and is a lifelong New York Yankees fan.” That’ll go over well.
  • Jill Painter of the Daily News has a solid interview with Peter O’Malley. “First, I’m blessed with good health,” O’Malley said. “Second, the challenge. Thirdly, I do believe I can do it better than anybody else. Maybe that doesn’t sound right, but I don’t know how else to say it.
  • Dodger sale news combined with a reduction in prices has boosted Dodger season-ticket sales 30% compared to this time last year, writes Bill Shaikin of the Times. Season-ticket sales dropped from 27,000 four years ago to 17,000 this past season.

* * *

Elsewhere …

  • Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness writes about the early signs that 2012 free-agent contracts will be insane.
  • Related … Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports writes that the Phillies’ four-year, $44 million offer to reliever Ryan Madson might be so high that it has Major League Baseball concerned and might be slowing locking down the next collective bargaining agreement.
  • Might Rod Barajas’ ability to frame pitches be a reason he deserved a $4 million deal from the Pirates? Matthew Pouliot of Hardball Talk thinks it’s possible.
  • Former Dodger executive Derrick Hall of the Diamondbacks had successful surgery to remove his prostate in response to cancer.
  • Former Dodger outfielder Mike Marshall has been named manager of the independent San Rafael Pacifics, notes Dave Allen of the Marin Independent Journal, and his wife Mary will be assistant general manager. The Marshalls had the same roles with Chico.
  • Jim Breen of Fangraphs says that hard salary slotting for MLB draft picks would be bad for the game, and uses the Dodgers’ Zach Lee as a reason why.
  • Shawn Green, Brad Ausmus and Gabe Kapler have joined forces to try to guide Israel into qualification for the 2013 World Baseball Classic. “While it remains unclear if the recently retired players will take the field themselves, their involvement provides an immediate boost to Israeli baseball, which remains a niche sport in a country where soccer and basketball reign supreme,” writes The Associated Press.
  • Clayton Kershaw and Roy Halladay tied for the SB Nation National League Cy Young vote. Kershaw got 14 first-place votes to Halladay’s 13, but Kershaw also received a fifth-place vote from Padres blog Gaslamp Ball, which provides an unimpressive explanation to say the least.
  • No Dodger connection here, just wanted to pass this along – Norwegian film “King Curling” is “a hilarious take on the mock-heroic sporting-underdog genre,” writes Leslie Felperin of Variety.
Nov 03

The 1980s Dodgers play an intramural ownership game

Steve Garvey and Orel Hershiser were never teammates, except perhaps in Spring Training. Garvey’s last game with the Dodgers was October 3, 1982, while Hershiser’s debut came on September 1, 1983.

As a San Diego Padre, Garvey came up to the plate against Hershiser 24 times from 1983-1987 and had a single, a double, a walk and 21 outs. Garvey’s .087 batting average against Hershiser was his worst against any major-league pitcher he faced at least 20 times.

I bring this up only because I’m struck by the peculiarity of 1980s Dodgers being in competition with each other for post-McCourt ownership of the team. Garvey and Hershiser are united in their pursuit (though they never played together), yet at least for now, united against a potential ownership group that features former Dodger owner and president Peter O’Malley and still another that features former Dodger general manager Fred Claire, who worked under O’Malley for nearly 30 years. All of them played significant roles in at least one of the Dodgers’ last two World Series titles.

Just feels kind of weird. But as far as Claire is concerned, the more the merrier.

“From my standpoint, I think it’s great that Peter is involved in seeking the team — as well as Steve and Orel,” Claire said in an e-mail. “The reason for this is that my goal is the see the Dodgers end up in the best hands as possible, and I have great respect for Peter, Steve and Orel.

“I have been involved with our group headed by (biotech executive) Ben Hwang for four months because I share Ben’s views as to how the Dodgers need to regain their place in the community and in Major League Baseball. As far as competition, the only group I want to see win are the Dodger fans.”

Claire was also interviewed by Max and Marcellus on ESPN AM 710 today.

“I’m not going to mislead anybody,” Claire told them. “We have a lot of work to do as far as raising the capital. This is an enormous amount of money.

“The leader of the group, (who) is really going to be there at the owners’ table when it comes down to one representative per club, is going to be a very significant person, and we’re hopeful of identifying such a person and having the capital to be prepared to make our case.”

* * *

Former Times sportswriter Ross Newhan offers his latest take on the Dodger ownership situation at Newhan on Baseball.

Jun 05

Where’s Kempo

Where Matt Kemp ranks among National Leaguers, according to Baseball-Reference.com:

1. – offensive wins above replacement (2.9)
1. – power-speed number (14.5)
1t – RBI (46)
1t – total bases (125)
2. – games played (59)
2. – home runs (15)
2. – slugging percentage (.576)
3. – runs created (49)
3. – win probability added (2.6)
4. – at-bats per home run (14.5)
4t – adjusted OPS (170)
4t – intentional walks (6)
4t – times on base (98)
4t – wins above replacement (2.9)
5. – offensive win percentage (.759)
5. – OPS (.971)
5t – stolen bases (14)
6t – strikeouts (55)
7t – hits (69)
8. – on-base percentage (.395)
8t – extra-base hits (26)
9. – batting average (.318)

Kemp is fifth in the NL in total average (.341), according to Baseball Prospectus. Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness has more on what Kemp could achieve this year.

* * *

  • Fasten your seat belts. Here are the scheduled pitching matchups for the upcoming Philadelphia series:

    Monday – Ted Lilly vs. Cliff Lee
    Tuesday – Rubby De La Rosa vs. Roy Oswalt
    Wednesday – Hiroki Kuroda vs. Cole Hamels

    The Phillies have lost four straight games, two each to Washington and Pittsburgh.

  • Via Baseball Think Factory comes this March 1957 Sports Illustrated piece that is said to be the first mention of “Chavez Ravine” in the magazine. It acknowledges that Walter O’Malley’s primary desire was to stay in Brooklyn, but here’s my favorite line: “It was even suggested that with the coming of the jet age, when the Atlantic and Pacific coasts will be only three or four hours apart, New Yorkers could get to a Dodger game in Chavez Ravine in less time than it now takes to reach Ebbets Field.”

    Conclusion: “The next chapter in the serial will now have to be written by the City of New York some time before next October. Should they fail to get busy, O’Malley and his Dodgers will almost surely head west like so many other overcrowded, ill-housed Easterners. In that event, major league baseball will be a coast-to-coast reality no later than 1960.”

  • Orel Hershiser has joined Steve Garvey’s group that’s interested in purchasing the Dodgers, reports Jill Painter of the Daily News. It’s still not clear what kind of financing the Garvey-Hershiser group would have, because initial reports linking it to billionaire Ron Burkle have been disputed.
  • Red-hot Dodger minor-league reliever Shawn Tolleson (0.63 ERA, 52 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings this year) and Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw were groomsmen at each other’s weddings this offseason, notes Inside the Dodgers, which passes on a link to an upcoming Dodgers Magazine feature on the pair.
  • Dennys Reyes, who made his major-league debut with the Dodgers in 1997, is one of 21 players to steal a base in his first game and then never do so again in his career, according to Baseball-Reference.com. Reyes has by far the most appearances of anyone on the list. On July 13, 1997, Reyes walked, went to second on a single, stole third and scored on an error. He pitched six innings that game and got the win, one of 10 in his career as a starting pitcher.
  • Oakland has designated former Dodger Andy LaRoche (.654 OPS) for assignment.
  • Not a Dodger note, but I thought it was cool: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Jose Reyes is only the second player since 1926 to have 10 triples by June 4. Willie Wilson in 1985 was the other.
Apr 02

Orel Hershiser still the gem you remember

Orel Hershiser became known as one of baseball’s most intelligent, well-spoken and thoughtful players during his unforgettable 1988 season. Now, 23 years later at age 52, he comes across as a tenured professor.

When I caught up with him as he prepared for his first season on ESPN’s lead baseball broadcast team, he displayed all the insight of his playing days, with the added perspective of time gone by.

One of the most interesting things about Hershiser is that he comes across as very honest about his own abilities — both positive and negative.  There’s little false modesty with Hershiser — when 1988 is brought up, he politely challenges the tendency some people have to only cite that year from his career, noting that his 181 wins in his other years must mean something, and he also makes the case that he might have been an even better pitcher in 1989.

But ask him to talk about whether he was nervous at all when he reached the World Series in ’88, and he’ll tell you that he “felt butterflies every one of my outings in the big leagues.” And ask him for the truth behind the mythic story of Tommy Lasorda giving him the nickname of “Bulldog,” and he’ll be similarly forthcoming.

“I wasn’t a very good pitcher when the nickname ‘Bulldog’ came to me,” Hershiser said.

“It came about during a very hard time in my career. … It was my attitude and my fear and my respect for a big league hitter that was getting in my way.”

Hershiser spreads his savvy with enthusiasm, as a true fan and student of the game. It’s funny — this week, Andre Ethier expressed his frustration about the direction of the Dodgers. Ethier is 29 years old, has played in two National League Championship Series and is coming off a losing season. In April 1988, Hershiser was 29, had played in two NLCS and was coming off two losing seasons.

“I think you should have a mindset of getting to the playoffs,” Hershiser said. “Because once you get in the playoffs, it is kind of a crapshoot.”

But then Hershiser amplified his thoughts, noting the tangible difference between regular-season baseball and postseason ball.

“There are tactics,” he said. “There are surprises; there are things you can do in playoff baseball that can give you an edge.

“That scouting report is coming into the playoffs with you, and [the postseason] is time to change. It is time to surprise the opponent with pitches you might not throw in certain situations. It is time to hit and run in certain situations. It is time to suicide-squeeze. It is time to play reckless at certain times.”

In ’88, Hershiser said he threw a sidearm pitch to Jose Canseco “when I hadn’t probably thrown a sidearm pitch all year.” And Hershiser rhapsodized about faking a bunt on a 3-2 pitch with Alfredo Griffin on base before swinging away, to knock the A’s off-kilter.

Hershiser can’t say enough about how much it meant when Kirk Gibson fell in the Dodgers’ laps during post-collusion free agency. He told a tremendous story about the famous incident when Jesse Orosco eyeblacked Gibson’s cap and, as Hershiser put it, embarrassed Gibson and truly had him questioning his teammates’ commitment to winning. Calling himself a “semi-team leader,” Hershiser went into the showers with Gibson in full uniform to talk him back from “getting out.”

“Gibson,” Hershiser said, “made it cool to care.”

That attitude continued even through the end of the 1989 season, which found the Dodgers back below .500 and playing for nothing but pride when October came. In his final start of the year, Hershiser went 11 innings and threw 169 pitches.

“That’s who Tommy was,” Hershiser said, with full support. He didn’t want to come out of the game, not at all.

Hershiser had the full offseason to rest from that start, and doesn’t blame it for the shoulder trauma that knocked him out for 13 months in April 1990. He believes wear and tear was going to get him sooner or later, and at the same time, partly credits the rest of his arm received during that time for the success he had in the second decade of his career, which included three top-flight seasons in a sort of homecoming with Cleveland (he went to college at Bowling Green in Ohio).

His next stop was San Francisco, the Dodgers’ arch-rival, and Hershiser said he welcomed it because he knew Giants fans “would hold me accountable.” He enjoyed the experience of playing both in San Francisco and New York, where he pitched 179 innings for the Mets at age 40.

His final year in the majors was 2000, coming back full circle with the Dodgers. He had an upbeat spring and pitched six innings of one-run ball against Cincinnati in his second start, but he allowed seven runs in 1 1/3 innings in his third, hitting four batters. In late June, he suffered a terrible beating at the hands of the Cardinals that forced him off a major league mound for the last time.

Sitting in the Dodgers dugout this week, Hershiser recalled the moment … intelligent, well-spoken, thoughtful. Emotional.

“Tommy was the one who told me,” Hershiser said. “They let Tommy deliver the news back in the clubhouse, in the medical room where he took me right after that outing. He kind of pretty much never said ‘Orel, you’re released.’ He just said, ‘Don’t you think it’s time?’ And we agreed, and cried. You know, it was hard.

“This was the last place I sat, and had my head back on the cement [wall]. And I could feel the coldness of the cement of Dodger Stadium, knowing this was it. It was over. But it was great, because the fans gave me a standing ovation, they knew how bad I pitched, but they respected [me]. They knew it was over too.  It’s pretty good when thousands of people understand that you were really bad, but we respect you enough to do a standing ovation.”

Nov 28

In starting rotation, sometimes questions beat answers


Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesFor 4 1/2 seasons, the Dodgers never knew what they were going to get in Odalis Perez.

In the wake of the Jon Garland signing, Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. looked at the most commonly used starting pitchers by the Dodgers since 2000, and in the process found that the Dodgers “have had five pitchers each start 30 games in a season just twice in their 127-year franchise history (1977 and 1993), and they have only had four pitchers start 30 games eight other times.”

Good stuff, but I was interested in something else, too. Given my surprise to find our starting rotation settled on paper before the end of November, I was curious how often in recent years the Dodgers had appeared to enter the season in better shape in their starting five than they’re in right now – and how they fared in those seasons.

Looking back at the 2000s (playoff teams in bold):

  • 2010: Charlie Haeger won a beleaguered fifth starter competition. The current 2011 rotation, with Garland as the fifth starter behind Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda and Ted Lilly, looks better.
  • 2009: Rookies Kershaw and James McDonald looked promising on paper, but most people would probably take the 2011 quintet, with Kershaw two years older.
  • 2008: Brad Penny was coming off a 3.03 ERA in 2007, Chad Billingsley was rising and Derek Lowe in the final year of his contract, while Kuroda was untested in the U.S. and Kershaw hadn’t arrived. In fact, it was the rotating arms in the No. 5 spot (a shaky Esteban Loaiza, a green Hong-Chih Kuo) that helped hasten Kershaw’s debut.  The Dodger rotation heading into 2008 was probably better than the 2011 group – until Friday.
  • 2007: This was the year newcomers Jason Schmidt and Randy Wolf (the first time around) were supposed to anchor the Dodger staff, joining Lowe, Penny and Billingsley. This was an exciting group – until Schmidt and Wolf combined for 24 starts and a 5.05 ERA.
  • 2006: Lowe, Penny … Odalis Perez (coming off a poor 2005) … Brett Tomko and Jae Seo.  A little bit of wishful thinking, here.
  • 2005: New free agent Lowe, Perez (coming off a strong 2004) and Jeff Weaver for the front three. The Dodgers knew they’d be dealing with filler at the No. 5 spot, and with Penny coming back late from his 2004 injury, they were duct-taping No. 4 as well, ultimately starting April with the likes of Elmer Dessens and Scott Erickson.
  • 2004: The Dodgers’ first playoff trip of the century began with Hideo Nomo, Perez, Weaver and Kaz Ishii – not a bad front four if you thought the 25-year-old Perez would regain his 2002 form. The other three had ERAs below 4.00 the year before. The fifth starter left in TBD status until the job was seized by Jose Lima, who had a memorable year through and into the playoffs (after having thrown 503 2/3 innings with a 6.18 ERA since 2000), while Ishii ended up struggling and Nomo fell apart.
  • 2003: Kevin Brown was coming off an injury-plagued 2002, but there was still hope for him (rightfully so) to lead a staff that also included a resurgent Nomo, Ishii and Perez (3.00 ERA in 2002). Darren Dreifort, attempting a comeback after going more than 20 months between games, got the first chance at the No. 5 start, but the Dodgers also had Andy Ashby (3.91 ERA in ’02) as a No. 6 starter. So there was depth, but also an understanding that the depth could be needed immediately.
  • 2002: Lots of new blood to join Brown and Ashby: Nomo (returning as a free agent from Boston), Perez (acquired with Brian Jordan in January’s Gary Sheffield trade) and Ishii (signing his first U.S. contract on February 28) – not to mention Omar Daal, another returning former Dodger who came in an offseason trade from Philadelphia but began the year in the bullpen. By the time Spring Training started, the staff was deep – one of the reasons second-year manager Jim Tracy experimented with converting a guy who had made 24 starts in 2001 into a reliever: Eric Gagne.
  • 2001: In his last year before becoming a free agent, Chan Ho Park was the Opening Day starter for the Dodgers, followed by Gagne, Dreifort, Ashby and – in place of Brown, who was limited by injuries – Luke Prokopec. Either Gagne or Prokopec were to be the No. 5 starters on paper, after making some waves in 2000. You might laugh now, but there was reason to think this could be a pretty decent starting rotation.
  • 2000: You had Brown, Park and Dreifort, all coming off solid 2000 seasons. Then you had Carlos Perez, who had a 7.43 ERA in 1999. And rounding out the fivesome, you had the last gasp of Orel Hershiser, who had a 4.58 ERA with the Mets at age 40 the year before. It did not go well for this rotation.

In terms of Dodger starting rotations that had proven talent in all five slots since 2000, you’d have to look at 2007 and 2002 as the leading lights, with honorable mention to 2003. Neither of these teams, of course, reached the playoffs (though the ’02 team won 92 games), while the Dodgers’ past four playoff teams all had question marks in at least one spot in the starting rotation entering the season.

Nov 08

Eyes on the ayes: Twelve votes would put Garvey, John in Hall

Maybe the Dodgers will retire a number this year after all …

  • Steve Garvey and Tommy John are among a group of 12 eligible for the Hall of Fame if they can earn 12 out of 16 votes from a special committee, according to Inside the Dodgers.

    … The 12 individuals who will be considered by the Expansion Era Committee in December for Hall of Fame Induction in 2011: Former players Vida Blue, Dave Concepcion, Steve Garvey, Ron Guidry, Tommy John, Al Oliver, Ted Simmons and Rusty Staub; former manager Billy Martin; and executives Pat Gillick, Marvin Miller and George Steinbrenner. Martin and Steinbrenner are deceased; all other candidates are living.

    The 16-member electorate charged with the review of the Expansion Era ballot features: Hall of Fame members Johnny Bench, Whitey Herzog, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Tony Perez, Frank Robinson, Ryne Sandberg and Ozzie Smith; major league executives Bill Giles (Phillies), David Glass (Royals), Andy MacPhail (Orioles) and Jerry Reinsdorf (White Sox); and veteran media members Bob Elliott (Toronto Sun), Tim Kurkjian (ESPN), Ross Newhan (retired, Los Angeles Times) and Tom Verducci (Sports Illustrated). …


    I’m skeptical that Garvey gets (or should get) the support he needs, though certainly it’s as good a look at the Hall as he’s ever had. Personally, I think Miller is most deserving.  The results announcement will come Dec. 6

  • Jared Massey of LADodgerTalk did some research and thinks that an abrupt change to Jonathan Broxton’s slider caused his 2010 downfall.
  • Stadium Review offers a mixed review of Dodger Stadium, though correspondent Drew Cieszynski did say the fans were loud. You might quibble with some points, but overall it’s a pretty fair assessment.
  • Paul DePodesta is moving from San Diego to the New York Mets as their vice-president of player development and amateur scouting, once again working for Sandy Alderson, the new Mets general manager. I’m always nervous about posting DePodesta news for fear that it will reignite a tired debate, but I didn’t want to ignore it.  Congrats to Paul.
  • End of an era: Next year, for the first time in more than two decades, Jon Miller and Joe Morgan will not be doing Sunday Night Baseball telecasts for ESPN, though Miller might stick around to do radio. Richard Sandomir of the New York Times believes that next year’s booth might be Dan Shulman, Orel Hershiser and Bobby Valentine.
  • Rob Neyer of ESPN.com made note of the Toronto Blue Jays trading a player to be named later for Colorado catcher Miguel Olivo, whose option they bought out for $500,000. For that price (and an offer of salary arbitration they expect to be denied), the Blue Jays expect to pick up a supplemental first-round draft pick.
  • Matt Bush, known for years as the disastrous No. 1 overall choice of the 2004 draft (by San Diego), has been making a comeback, having converted from shortstop to pitcher. Tampa Bay has added Bush to its 40-man roster, notes David Brown of Big League Stew, after he did his best Kenley Jansen imitation, striking out 20 in 13 2/3 innings over 10 minor-league games this season.
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.
Apr 18

Just a wee taste of ’88: Kershaw, Ramirez lead Dodgers over Giants


Getty Images
Clayton Kershaw went seven innings allowing only one run, and Manny Ramirez made that hurt go away.

If Clayton Kershaw and Manny Ramirez were nothing more than a poor man’s Orel Hershiser and Kirk Gibson, it still made for a rich afternoon at Dodger Stadium.

Kershaw left Sunday’s game in the eighth inning after issuing his fourth walk of the game – an inning after Juan Uribe’s homer broke a scoreless tie – but he certainly pitched well enough to win, striking out nine. Two of his walks came after he crossed the 100-pitch mark. At age 22, Kershaw has walked at least four men in 21 of his 54 starts (39 percent), compared with Hershiser’s 71 of 466 (15 percent), but if you can put that annoying fact aside, you’re still left with a pretty swell pitcher with a career ERA of 3.40.

And then there’s Ramirez, who is this century’s go-to guy for lame home runs (in the good sense). On the heels (in the cliched sense) of his injured-hand Bobbleslam last summer, and right after Garret Anderson’s pinch-walk ended a superb performance by Barry Zito, Ramirez blasted a Sergio Romo pitch in the left-field seats to rally the Dodgers from their 1-0 deficit. Ramirez noticeably favored one leg in his trot around the bases, but though it didn’t have calf the drama of Gibson’s gimpy gem, it was a sight for sore Dodger eyes. (Video of the homer can be found at MLB.com.)

Jonathan Broxton retired the side in order in the ninth to close out the Dodgers’ 2-1 victory. Broxton has retired 17 of the 19 batters he has faced this season (including the past 14), striking out nine.

Several people, including Vin Scully, called today’s game the best of the young Dodger season, though some of that good feeling would have been tested had the Dodgers been shut out for the second afternoon in a row.

* * *

  • Hong-Chih Kuo looks good to go. He retired the side today on six pitches today in his second minor-league rehab appearance. If he survives that outing and Monday’s plane flight to Cincinnati, Kuo should be on the active roster for the Dodgers’ next game on Tuesday.
  • Prentice Redman knocked out three home runs by the fifth inning of Albuquerque’s 11-5 victory over Omaha. Redman raised his batting average to an even .400, on-base percentage to .447 and slugging percentage to .943.
  • John Lindsey watch: 3 for 3, raising his numbers to .538/.591/.897.
  • James McDonald left his start after one inning today because of a broken fingernail.
  • Isotopes reliever Brent Leach allowed six runs in his first 3 2/3 innings this season, but has pitched 5 1/3 innings of one-hit, two-walk shutout ball since.
  • In 6 2/3 innings this season for Inland Empire, Kenley Jansen has allowed no runs, four hits and zero walks while striking out 10.
  • For the second straight game, Great Lakes’ 23-year-old righty Josh Wall allowed one earned run over five innings, this time striking out eight.