Aug 29

Dodgers’ former Spring Training home renamed ‘Historic Dodgertown’

Peter O’Malley today said he has signed a licensing agreement enabling the Dodgers’ former Spring Training home, in recent years called the Vero Beach Sports Village, to be known as Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida.

“We appreciate the extraordinary cooperation of Dodger president Stan Kasten and the Dodger organization in recognizing the significance of this unique site,” O’Malley, the former Dodger owner and president said in a statement. “We also are grateful to Major League Baseball for working with us, perpetuating the history and tradition of Historic Dodgertown and what it has meant to the game for decades.”

In 2001, Indian River County purchased the land and buildings from the Dodgers, but since 2009, after the Dodgers moved their Spring Training to Arizona, the facility has been used for tournaments, camps and the like. A partnership including O’Malley, Hideo Nomo and Chan Ho Park saved the facility from extinction in 2012, even expanding facilities there. Their lease agreement with Indian River County runs through April 2019.

“We have plans for more ways to utilize this amazing facility year-round,”said Craig Callan, who arrived at Dodgertown in August 1978 to manage the sports and conference center, and now directs the day-to-day activities as Historic Dodgertown vice president.

 

Aug 07

O’Malley era in San Diego a step from reality

The group that includes former Dodger owner Peter O’Malley can become official owners of the San Diego Padres as soon as August 16, when Major League Baseball owners meet in Denver, according to Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

O’Malley’s sons, Kevin and Brian, and his nephews, Peter and Tom Seidler, “are expected to become ‘hands-on’ owners while assuming many of the club’s business, operational and community leadership roles,” Center confirms. San Diego businessman Ron Fowler and golfer Phil Mickelson provides the local accent for the ownership group, notes Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com.

The new owners are paying $800 million for the Padres and a 21 percent stake in Fox Sports San Diego, Bloom says.

Jun 26

Mickey Hatcher a Dodger again (Note: not on active roster)

Some afternoon news and notes …

  • Mickey Hatcher has returned to the Dodger organization as a special assistant to the general manager, according to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (via Hardball Talk).

    Update: An official Dodgers press release says Hatcher “will devote time helping with player development as well as assisting the major-league staff.”

    Hatcher hit one home run in the 1988 regular season, two in the ’88 World Series and two more for the rest of his major-league career. In 1990, his final season with the Dodgers, Hatcher OPSed .498 in 85 games. So don’t expect him activated.

    Manny Mota, on the other hand …
  • A man wearing a Dodger jacket disappeared after Monday’s game and is suspected to have fallen into the bay adjacent to AT&T Park, according to Ellen Huet of the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • The ownership group that includes Peter O’Malley, his sons Brian and Kevin, nephews Peter and Tom Seidler and golfer Phil Mickelson have been given an exclusive negotiating window to buy the San Diego Padres, according to Scott Miller of CBSSports.com. Sale price is expected to be in the $800 million neighborhood. Though the former Dodger owner is the biggest name in the group (at least for readers of this website), it’s the next generation that figures to be the long-term key players.
  • Still not much new on the disappearance of Daron Sutton from the Arizona Diamondbacks broadcast team, as Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic notes.
  • Clayton Kershaw reached Double-A 14 months after being drafted. (He had the advantage of pitching in Rookie ball the year he was picked.) Zach Lee, who was drafted in June 2010 and began his pro career in April 2011, has been promoted to Double-A. Writing more on the subject for True Blue L.A. is Craig Minami.
  • The one-time Fabulous Forum has been purchased by the Madison Square Garden Co., which will renovate the venue for performance use.
  • Here’s the latest health update from Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy.
Jun 20

R.A. Dickey and Colorado: Climbing the mountain, falling off a cliff


All this and Mt. Kilimanjaro too? Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey is everything Dodger fans wanted Charlie Haeger to be and more.

You might have thought climbing the big mountain or publishing a book might be Dickey’s biggest accomplishments of the year, but perhaps not.

Dickey, as David Schoenfield of ESPN.com notes, has not only thrown consecutive one-hitters, but in his past six starts, “Dickey is 6-0 with a 0.18 ERA (one earned run in 48 2/3 innings), 63 strikeouts, five walks and a .131 average allowed.”

Venerable New Yorker writer Roger Angell offered this:

… Dickey, whose full beard and peaceable appearance suggest a retired up-country hunting dog, is thirty-seven years old, with ten years and three prior big-league teams behind him, and hard work has brought him to this Shangri-La, perhaps only briefly. He’ll hope for another visit on Sunday, against the Yankees. Watching him, if you’ve ever played ball, you may find yourself remembering the exact moment in your early teens when you were first able to see a fraction of movement in a ball you’d flung, and sensed a magical kinship with the ball and what you’d just done together. This is where Dickey is right now, and for him the horrendous din of the game and its perpetual, distracting flow of replay and statistics and expertise and P.R. and money and expectation and fatigue have perhaps dimmed, leaving him still in touch with the elegant and, for now, perfectly recallable and repeatable movements of his body and shoulders and the feel of the thing on his fingertips.

* * *

Pitching is easy to predict – and hard too!

“Colorado’s rotation has undergone the most turnover and is the hardest to peg in the division, though you could say it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence,” I wrote in March for ESPNLosAngeles.com. “A look at Colorado makes one appreciate the apparent stability of the Dodgers’ starting rotation.”

Basically, while there were several grim preseason forecasts about how the Dodgers would do this season, the one thing I was most sure of was that they wouldn’t finish behind the Rockies, whose pitching seemed to be in disarray.

Vindication of that position has come throughout 2012, with the Rockies’ starting pitchers combining for an ERA of more than 6.00. That has brought one Jim Tracy to the brink of … something: a four-man starting rotation with pitch-count limits of 75 per game.

Here’s Rob Neyer’s take at Baseball Nation:

… Tracy’s just guessing, of course. And there’s another, perhaps larger issue. If Tracy sticks to that 75-pitch limit, he’ll routinely be turning to his bullpen in the fifth and sixth innings. Now, if managers are crying for relief help with starting pitchers on 100-pitch limits — as they do, routinely — what’s going to happen with 75-pitch limits?

Theoretically, it could work. Tracy’s starters have been terrible, so he’s been going to his bullpen early in most games, anyway. The hope, I suppose, is that Tracy keeps going to his bullpen early, but with his starting pitchers allowing fewer runs than they have been. It’s a lot better to call the bullpen when you’re ahead 4-3 than when you’re losing 6-4.

So this should be interesting. For a week or two. Which, if history’s any guide, is how long this experiment will last.

Said Jorge Arangure Jr. of ESPN the Magazine:

… Tracy seemed almost stunned when talking to reporters about the plan. Obviously, this is not what he expected prior to the season when the Rockies were a trendy pick to win the NL West. Instead, just minutes before taking the field for batting practice Tuesday, Tracy gathered his pitching staff and told the players the surprising news.

The asterisk in the plan is that nothing is definite. Tracy conceded that anything could be modified should one of his starters excel during a particular start. The 75-pitch limit could be ignored. Heck, if Guthrie pitches well in relief, it’s not inconceivable to think that he would be placed back in the rotation.

For the past several weeks, Colorado reportedly has been looking to trade Guthrie — who is making $8.2 million this season, the highest salary on the pitching staff, excluding the injured Jorge De La Rosa. A demotion to the bullpen won’t help his trade market. But the only way for Guthrie to reclaim any trade value is to pitch well, and maybe pitching out of the bullpen is the solution.

“We don’t know what’s going to come out of this,” Tracy said.

Hey, credit Tracy — at least it wasn’t bland and boring.

And finally, this from Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post:

… The defining moment, with the beaker fizzing, will arrive when a starter actually performs well. But Tracy insisted that even if a starter is working a shutout, he will be removed at roughly 75 pitches.

“He has got to come out, because he has to pitch four days later,” Tracy said. “But if he goes five innings, he has pitched you to the point where you can go to a bullpen with some very significant people.”

But as easy as Colorado’s woes might have been to predict, you might not be able to say the same about Atlanta’s – at least, that’s what Michael Barr of Fangraphs argues.

And Tim Lincecum’s struggles are another thing unto themselves, becoming fodder for a discussion of luck and pitching by Dave Cameron of Fangraphs.

… Saying that Tim Lincecum has been unlucky is probably not true. He’s struggling with his command, falling behind in counts more often, and throwing pitches that are rightfully getting crushed based on movement and location. If Wells had fouled off that fastball on Saturday, that would have been luck, so maybe you could argue that Lincecum is suffering from a lack of good luck (in that it’s quite possible that hitters aren’t missing his mistakes as often as they used to), but that’s not the same thing as suffering from bad luck.

And that’s why we should probably try to reduce our usage of the word luck to begin with. Yes, there are bloopers that fall in, broken bat squibs that find holes, or times when a defender just falls down and the pitcher gets blamed for his defensive miscue. There are definitely instances of luck in baseball, and they do effect the results that a pitcher is credited with. I’m not arguing against DIPS theory – I’m just saying that perhaps we should try to do a better job of talking about it when a guys results aren’t lining up with his process because he’s throwing bad pitches that hitters aren’t missing.

What Voros McCracken and the others who followed his research really showed us wasn’t that pitchers have no control over batted ball outcomes, but that the things that cause those gaps don’t hold up over time. Lincecum can be doing things that are causing him to give up a lot of runs now but history suggests that he won’t keep doing those things in the future. He’s either going to figure out how to fix his command or he’s going to change his approach to pitching, and he’s not going to keep locating 91 MPH fastballs middle-in at the belt with regularity. Maybe hitters will start missing his mistakes more often. Maybe he’ll start making fewer mistakes. Whatever the cause is, the effect is likely to be that Lincecum is going to get better results in the future than he has in the first two months of the season.

But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t earned his poor results to date. The word luck absolves him of blame for the outcome, which shouldn’t be what we’re trying to do. Blame Tim Lincecum for throwing terrible pitches – just realize that it doesn’t mean that he’s going to keep throwing terrible pitches in the future.

* * *

Elsewhere around the small white stitched globe …

Apr 11

Kershaw’s winless dominance

F-18s fly over Dodger Stadium prior to the home opener. © Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers 2012

Some Tuesday postgame data, courtesy of ESPN Stats and Information:

How Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw dominated the Pirates despite not picking up a win:
- Sixty-five of Kershaw’s 88 pitches (73.9 percent) went for strikes, the highest percentage of his career.
- Kershaw went to a three-ball count to the first hitter of the game, the only one he went to all game. The one three-ball count matches his career low in a start.
- Pirates hitters were 0 for 7 with five strikeouts in at-bats ending with Kershaw’s slider.
- With two strikes, Pirates hitters were 0 for 11 with seven strikeouts.

Kershaw held the Pirates hitless in six at-bats with runners in scoring position on Tuesday, continuing his dominance of hitters when getting into a jam.

Lowest BA Allowed With RISP, Starting Pitchers, Since Start of 2011 Season

Ian Kennedy .142
Jeremy Hellickson .161
Ricky Romero .173
Jhoulys Chacin .173
Clayton Kershaw .185 (0-6 on Tuesday vs Pirates)

* * *

Matt Kemp went 0-4 on Tuesday, but drove in a run for the ninth straight game. The nine straight games with a RBI ties a Dodgers’ record.

Most Consecutive Games with RBI, Dodgers History
Matt Kemp 9 (2011-12)
Roy Campanella 9 (1955)
Augie Galan 9 (1944)

* * *
Andre Ethier, on his 30th birthday, hit a game-winning home run in the eighth inning in the Dodgers’ win over the Pirates. The last player to celebrate his 30th birthday by hitting a game-winning homer in the eighth inning or later was Jerry Mumphrey for the Yankees against Milwaukee on September 9, 1982. Mumphrey hit a 10th inning homer in that game. (Elias Sports Bureau)

* * *

  • In a story for Variety, I explore how much TV networks can justify bidding billions of dollars for the rights to broadcast baseball games. Nice to see Dee Gordon flying across the top of the paper …
  • In five games, Gordon has four steals in five tries, and replays showed he was safe on the time he was called out.
  • MIke Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness conveniently tackles a subject I was mulling myself: how Chad Billingsley does in his next start following a great outing. It might also be worth looking at how Billingsley does after a high pitch count in his most recent appearance.
  • Today in Jon SooHoo: A photo gallery from the home opener.
  • Sons of Steve Garvey has its own nice photo recap of Tuesday.
  • His Dodger shortstop predecessor, Rafael Furcal, is 10 for 23 with three doubles, two walks and two steals to start 2012: 1.045 OPS.
  • Here’s an Associated Press story on security at Dodger Stadium for the first home opener since Bryan Stow was attacked.
  • Joe Torre conceded to Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com that at times, Matt Kemp was a difficult player for him to manage.
  • Jonah Keri of Grantland and Dave Cameron of Fangraphs discuss the need and desire to kill the save statistic and replace it with something more useful.
  • Don Mattingly and Peter O'Malley. © Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers 2012

    Another gem by Josh Wilker at Cardboard Gods, inspired by the hyphen.
  • A baseball card featuring Reggie Smith and Ryne Sandberg is the subject of a piece by Bruce Markusen for the Hardball Times.
  • Dixie Walker will be played by Ryan Merriman of ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars in the upcoming Jackie Robinson biopic, 42, reports Justin Kroll of Variety.
  • Eleven contract extensions have been signed by pre-arbitration-eligible players since the end of last season; Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLB Trade Rumors looks at the trend.
  • Carlos Santana became one of those players, signing a five-year, $21 million extension. Mike Axisa of Fangraphs examines the deal.
  • At the bottom of this Fangraphs post, you are asked to rate Dodger radio announcers Charley Steiner and Rick Monday.
Mar 28

Cash for the merchandise, cash for the button hooks


Bill Shaikin of the Times corraborates a Wall Street Journal report by Matthew Futterman. that the new Dodger ownership is paying all cash for the Dodgers, wiping out the team’s debt without using the TV money. Skeptics remain, however.

“The bid was described as a ’100% cash offer,’” Futterman wrote. “Mr. Walter is making a significant personal contribution to the purchase price, with Guggenheim Partners, of which he is chief executive, playing a substantial role in financial contribution.”

Adds Shaikin:

… the deal is all cash and no financing, so it wouldn’t add to the Dodgers’ already significant debt load. The purchase price for the team itself is $2 billion — roughly $1.6 billion in cash and $400 million in debt assumption. An additional $150 million is for a joint venture between the Johnson group and outgoing owner Frank McCourt to control the parking lots surrounding the stadium.

Under terms of the deal, no development would take place on the lots unless the Johnson group and McCourt agree. The deal also ensures that McCourt can retain partial ownership of the lots and share in any future development revenue.

The money fans pay to park at Dodgers games goes to the new ownership group. …

Whether there are some games being played to facilitate this all-cash payment, I don’t know.  Andrew Zimbalist is among the economists who are aghast at the sale price, according to this Arash Markazi piece at ESPNLosAngeles.com. Despite reports otherwise, they seem to believe that the Dodgers’ future TV money is being used to fund the deal.

The importance relates to what’s left over to invest in the team after the sale is done. Chad Moriyama reminds us that if the Guggenheim group has the cash to fund the Dodger purchase, we shouldn’t worry if they overpaid. Everything centers on that “if.”

At this point, I’m not sure any pundit really knows. And with this much money at play, I’m also not sure the Dodger operating budget — small by comparison — depends on how much cash was paid up front. Let’s put it this way: The Dodgers are certainly less likely to reject a star player than they were before Tuesday, let alone let someone like Hiroki Kuroda walk away for a million or so. I’m still much more worried about which star players the new management thinks are worthwhile to begin with.

Meanwhile …

  • Bill Plaschke of the Times has a news interview with Johnson, Kasten and Walter. It’s worth the click. ESPNLosAngeles.com and Ken Gurnick of MLB.com had similar conversations.
  • Matt Kemp and Dee Gordon think they could beat Magic Johnson in one-on-one basketball today, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Times. I’m not so sure … and Tony Gwynn Jr. agrees with me.
  • Former Dodger owner Peter O’Malley told Shaikin that he believes in Johnson and Kasten.
  • Joe Flint of the Times says that your cable TV bill (if you have one) will help fund the Dodgers’ acquisition.
  • Ross Newhan wonders if the sale of the team was destined for Magic all along.
  • Phil Gurnee writes at True Blue L.A. about how amazing it is for us Dodger fans who grew up adoring Johnson to see him in this position.
  • Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness shares his thoughts.
  • J.P. Breen of Fangraphs looks at possible future free-agent targets for the Dodgers.
  • If you want to go back and read my Variety story on Johnson’s plans to launch family-friendly cable channel Aspire, here it is.
  • Let’s hear it for 44-year-olds! Omar Vizquel will be on the Opening Day roster of the Blue Jays, according to The Associated Press.
  • The turnover of former Dodgers continues, with Chin-Lung Hu and Joe Thurston headed to the Phillies, as noted by MLB Trade Rumors.
  • Katie Sharp of ESPN.com examines whether Chad Billingsley’s problems last year related to his slider.
  • Oh yeah – the Dodgers played today.
Feb 21

Even without ownership, O’Malley should remain a part of Dodgers’ rebirth

Peter and Walter O'Malley (courtesy www.walteromalley.com)

Peter O’Malley’s bid for the Dodgers appears to have ended, based on this report by Bill Shaikin of the Times. Although I didn’t believe he would end up with the team, if for no other reason than Frank McCourt had the final say in the bidding process, I’m a bit saddened. I really believe an O’Malley-led group would have been good for the franchise.

O’Malley is the one person bidding on the Dodgers whom I think I could call a friend, a relationship that began shortly before he agreed to write the forward for 100 Things Dodgers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. We have had lunch periodically over the past four years, and he is every bit as warm and genuine as you might imagine. He and Vin Scully are birds of a feather.

Because of this relationship, I held off making much public comment one way or another about his bid, because I didn’t want to seem biased toward him – or more accurately, biased against anyone else. I do think he would have been a great owner.

  • He absolutely would have prioritized the health of the franchise, on the field and off.
  • He understood that his duty included finding a proper long-term steward to run the team.

Those comments will draw derisive laughter from some who still hold O’Malley accountable for part of the Dodgers’ post-1988 drought and for selling the team to Fox in 1998, paving the way for even rougher years. Hindsight tells us that the sale to Fox was unfortunate, but if you take the context of the moment into account, I do think it’s excusable. The bidding process then was nothing like the bidding process today, where suitors are coming from everywhere. Plus, O’Malley had been led astray by the different forces that were trying to at once build Staples Center and bring the NFL to Los Angeles.  From 100 Things:

… Though the O’Malleys could have talked themselves into continuing as owners, the changing face of baseball began sapping them of incentive. By 1997, the O’Malleys were the one of a few remaining family owners of a major-league baseball team. With salaries rising, they had to compete with corporations for whom baseball was only a part of the whole – teams could be used as loss leaders. Further, baseball’s contract with the players’ union, following the 1994-95 labor dispute that had shut down the game, called for more extensive revenue sharing, which meant the Dodgers would be further subsidizing other teams. Under commissioner Bud Selig, the then-Milwaukee Brewers owner who became acting baseball commissioner in 1992, small-market teams were gaining more power over large-market teams like the Dodgers.

However, even the shifting economic playing field was not a sole determining factor.  It took another dose of cold water to push O’Malley into the sale. Los Angeles found itself without a National Football League franchise after the Raiders moved back to Oakland in 1995.  That August, mayor Richard Riordan asked O’Malley to lead the effort to bring the NFL back to the city, and O’Malley was happy to oblige. A football stadium built on the land surrounding Dodger Stadium emerged as a viable possibility to draw a team, diversify the family business and attract new business partners for the O’Malleys.

A year later, after vigorous investment in research, the city asked O’Malley to abandon his efforts and support the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum’s bid to be the home of the team. O’Malley assented reluctantly, but his disappointment by his own admission was palpable. (In a well-researched piece, T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times wrote that power brokers in Los Angeles had contrived a quid pro quo deal in which they exchanged support for the Coliseum and the proposed downtown basketball arena that would become Staples Center, and O’Malley had been “caught in the middle.”)

With the signs discouraging on multiple fronts, O’Malley decided it was time to sell.

There were no illusions about the suitor O’Malley settled on: Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. would use the Dodgers as a means to an end, as a flagship team whose games would be televised by a sports network intended to rival ESPN and boost the Murdoch media empire. Sallie Hofmeister of the Times noted that the $311 million outlay “says more about Hollywood than about baseball. … The purchase price, about double the going rate in major league baseball, is so far out of the ballpark that it’s highly unlikely the team will make money.” That did not suggest a brighter immediate future for the talent on the field at Dodger Stadium. …

Of course, when the sale was announced, attention focused not on who was coming in, but who was going out.

“There’s a very empty feeling in my house tonight,” Vin Scully told Mike DiGiovanna of the Times, “and there will be for a long time to come. There’s a feeling of a definite loss, almost like a death in the family.”

The O’Malley family wanted to sell the Dodgers, was entitled to sell the Dodgers and made the best deal it could make for the Dodgers. If there were a lesson to be learned, I trust him more than anyone else to have learned it.

There might be a better candidate for Dodger ownership out there, but I dare say there are worse ones – and certainly whoever does earn the rights to the team would do well to embrace O’Malley as an adviser. People say that sometimes it’s better to go with the devil you know; it’s better still to go with the angel you know.

Jan 31

Derrick and the ownership dominoes

Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall, the former Dodger executive recovering from prostate cancer, is the subject of a fantastic piece at Yahoo! Sports by Steve Henson. Parenthetically, as Steve Dilbeck of the Times notes, “several groups in the running to purchase the team from Frank McCourt have already approached Hall about becoming the Dodgers’ lead executive should they prove to have the winning bid.”

In another blog post, Dilbeck passes along this Ray McNulty interview for TCPalm.com with Peter O’Malley, who reiterated that his direct involvement in Dodger operations, should he return as owner, probably would be a year or less. “Things need to be stabilized, and I’d have a role in that,” O’Malley said. “But beyond that, the key is to bring in good management people to run the day-to-day operation.”

O’Malley has investment support from South Korean conglomerate E-Land, according to Bill Shaikin of the Times.

Meanwhile, Jon Heyman writes at CBSSports.com about the possibility of billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong pushing the Magic Johnson-fronted ownership group to the head of the pack.

  • Late bloomer Scott Van Slyke is the subject of a feature by Ken Gurnick at MLB.com that gives you some development background on the first baseman-outfielder you might have missed.
  • Howard Megdal has an interesting comparison of Edwin Jackson and Jason Schmidt at MLB Trade Rumors.

    … The year was 2001. The Diamondbacks had just beaten the Yankees in the World Series. George Harrison died. Anthrax was in the air.

    But none of that stopped Jason Schmidt. The righty, about to enter his age-29 season, had put up an ERA+ of 107 while pitching for two teams. For his career, his ERA+ stood at 99, with career walk rate of 3.8 per nine innings and a strikeout rate of 6.9 per nine innings. He was rewarded with a five-year, $41MM contract from San Francisco.

    Fast forward ten years, and look at Edwin Jackson. The righty, about to enter his age-29 season, has just put up an ERA+ of 106 while pitching for two teams. For his career, his ERA+ stands at 97, with a walk rate of 3.7 per nine innings and a strikeout rate of 6.7 per nine innings. And he can’t find a job.

    If Schmidt is any indication, today’s teams are missing an opportunity for a bargain. Over his next five seasons, Schmidt pitched just over 1,000 innings at an ERA+ of 127. He made three All Star teams, finished in the top four of Cy Young voting twice, won an ERA title in 2003, and reduced his walks to 3.2 per nine while elevating his strikeouts to 9.0 per nine. He was well worth that $41MM investment. …

    Jackson might settle for a one-year deal for 2012.

  • Jayson Stark’s All-Unemployed team, at the bottom of his latest column for ESPN.com, includes Jackson and Aaron Miles, among others.
  • Today in Jon SooHoo: Joel Guzman, Jonathan Broxton, Willy Aybar, Russell Martin, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier together in 2006.
  • American-Japanese minor-league pitcher Robert Boothe was released by the Dodgers, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America.
  • Bill Petti at Beyond the Boxscore looks at which teams had the most players producing  negative Wins Above Replacement since 2002. The Dodgers were in the better half.
  • Justin Timberlake will play a young baseball scout opposite Clint Eastwood as an older scout in upcoming feature film “Trouble With the Curve,” Jeff Sneider and Justin Kroll of Variety report. Amy Adams will play Eastwood’s daughter.
  • As for my day at the office, it included a blog post looking at the present and future of the post-Steve Carell “The Office.” I’m thinking mine is a minority view, but see if I convince any of you.
  • Congrats to Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News, who won a special appreciation award at the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Some guys named Kershaw, Monday and Scully also got mentioned for some honor or other.
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 10

O’Malley, Nomo, Park, Seidler to help run old Dodgertown in Florida

Doug Benc/Getty ImagesA view from the final Dodger Spring Training game at Holman Stadium, March 17, 2008.

Former Dodger owners Peter O’Malley and sister Terry Seidler and former pitchers Chan Ho Park and Hideo Nomo have joined forces with Minor League Baseball to operate the old Dodgertown complex now known as the Vero Beach Sports Village.

O’Malley, a candidate to buy the Dodgers themselves from Frank McCourt, will be chairman and CEO of the new enterprise, and MiLB president Pat O’Conner will be president and COO, while Craig Callan will remain in control of operations of the facility, where he has worked for 33 years.

O’Conner said the goal of the group is to use the facility “for local, domestic and international sports programs” that will attract a variety of visitors.

“This combined effort of Minor League Baseball, the O’Malley and Seidler families and members of our extended baseball family will undoubtedly have a positive impact on Vero Beach Sports Village,” O’Conner said in a statement. “Peter O’Malley and his family have a long and storied history in Vero Beach and baseball in general, both domestically and internationally.

“Chan Ho Park and Hideo Nomo provide insight from a player’s perspective, as well as enormous credibility in Asia and the Pacific Rim.”

Nomo has been bringing Japanese youth players to the U.S. for the past couple of years for competition and cultural exchange.

“Being a part of the group that will operate a facility that provides youths with resources they can use both on and off the field is extremely rewarding,” Nomo said. “Those who come to the facility can improve not only as athletes through tournaments and training, but can also develop skills to help them mature into young men and women.”

Added Park: “I have many fond memories of Dodgertown from my nine seasons playing for the Dodgers. I love it there and look forward to seeing many teams and individuals enjoy all of the unique features of the complex and take full advantage of the amenities it has to offer, as I did when I trained and played there.”

For O’Malley, it’s a return to his roots — he was director of Dodgertown from 1962-65. Seidler worked there in the 1950s as the secretary for the Dodgertown Summer Camp for Boys.

“I embrace this wonderful opportunity to use this iconic facility that my family has cherished for decades to promote baseball,” O’Malley said in a statement. “Vero Beach Sports Village should always be an asset and a jewel to the citizens of Vero Beach and Indian River County, and I look forward to adding further luster to its rich history.

Though MiLB began operating the old Dodgertown facility in 2009 and events have continued to take place there, it has been in jeopardy ever since Dodger Spring Training left for Camelback Ranch in Arizona, with lots of speculation that it could eventually be sold off and converted for non-sports use.

“We know the Dodgers have a long-term spring training commitment with the community of Glendale, Arizona, and our endeavor in Vero Beach in no way impacts that relationship,” O’Malley said.

In other words, even if O’Malley ends up back with the Dodgers, don’t expect Spring Training to return to Vero Beach. Still, for fans of Dodgertown, this is welcome news.

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.”

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

Sep 16

Report: O’Malley says McCourt ownership needs to sell

Former Dodger owner Peter O’Malley, who has publicly been almost completely silent on the current ownership issues with the team, told Bill Shaikin of the Times that he believes the team should have new ownership.

He said he is not interested in returning to ownership but would be willing to smooth the transition for potential new owners on what he called a “short-term” basis.

“For many years, the Dodgers have been one of the most prestigious institutions in our city and throughout professional sports,” O’Malley said. “Sadly, that is not the case today.”

McCourt responded through a statement from his spokesman, Steve Sugerman.

“Frank has made it abundantly clear he is the long-term owner of the Dodgers,” Sugerman said, “and he looks forward to the day when his four boys own and operate the team.” …

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Dodger coach Bob Schaefer had some weirdly noteworthy comments today in an interview with Jim Bowden on XM radio. Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness has details.

One of them was a no-comment on Matt Kemp that was followed by a comment that indicates there is no love lost there. Another reportedly had Schaefer saying that Don Mattingly had turned down “managerial positions” to stay in Los Angeles, but I’m wondering if Schaefer really meant or said “managerial interviews.”

Also, it’s one thing for me to say the Dodgers have issues for next season, but it’s a bit unusual for a coach to say the team “will have to pull a rabbit out of the hat” to contend. Presumably, Schaefer has already plotted his own exit from the organization.

Schaefer said he doesn’t think Joe Torre will manage the Dodgers next season, but that he will stay in the game in some capacity. However, Torre told reporters that

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  • David Brown has a barrel-of-fun interview with Vin Scully at Yahoo! Sports’ Big League Stew.
  • Russ Mitchell is the only Dodger since 1920 to start a game at first, third and the outfield in his first season, according to Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A.
  • One of my earliest memories as a baseball fan is reading in Baseball Digest about Rennie Stennett’s 1975 7-for-7 game, in which Pittsburgh shut out Chicago, 22-0. Chris Jaffe recalls the event in The Hardball Times.
  • Howard “Howie” Levine, the longtime Grant High School boys basketball coach whom I first met more than 20 years ago as a Daily News sportswriter, has worked as a Dodger Stadium usher for 38 years. On Tuesday, the night that the Dodgers honor their employees of 25 years or more, Levine will sing the National Anthem.
Sep 08

Russ Mitchell to make major-league debut at first base

In case you’re wondering why Russ Mitchell is getting to make his major-league debut ahead of John Lindsey, this Dodgers.com video of Ned Colletti congratulating Lindsey on his call-up and telling him he would fly his Mississippi-based family to the Dodgers’ upcoming four-gamer in Houston offers a clue.

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Former Dodger owner Peter O’Malley figures prominently in this Sports Illustrated feature by Lee Jenkins on the chaos in team ownership.

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Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. looks at just how poor the Dodger outfield has become. Interesting tidbit: Andre Ethier has been striking out more than Matt Kemp, which is saying something.