Jul 13

It’s official: Kemp, Ethier return

Padres at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Kershaw CXXXV: Kershawma Lama Ding Dong
Jerry Hairston Jr., LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Juan Rivera, 1B
A.J. Ellis, C
Juan Uribe, 3B
Luis Cruz, SS
Clayton Kershaw, P

Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier will reappear tonight before a salivating Dodger fan base, with Scott Van Slyke and Elian Herrera going to Albuquerque.

On Sunday, we discussed the possibility of Herrera being optioned.

… He’s been 100 times more fun to watch than Uribe and his versatility is an asset, but once Kemp and Ethier are back in their starting roles, Mark Ellis is re-entrenched at second base and Bobby Abreu, Tony Gwynn Jr. and Juan Rivera are holding down left field, there’s going to be less call for Herrera to roam around the diamond. That’s not to say that he’s without a purpose, but with his own slump to a .326 on-base percentage and .335 slugging, the difference between him, Uribe and Kennedy (.315 OBP, .309 slugging) isn’t overwhelming.

By optioning Herrera, the Dodgers can put off making a final decision on Uribe or Kennedy, neither of whom can be sent down. …

Jul 05

Ever say never? Never again, ever

Never let anyone tell you that Scott Van Slyke and Elian Herrera can’t homer in the same game.

Never let anyone tell you that Nathan Eovaldi can’t leave a six-inning start with a lead.

Never let anyone – particularly Jerry Hairston Jr. – tell you Jerry Hairston Jr. can’t be comfortable at third base.

And never let anyone tell you the Giants are a lock with a 5-1 seventh-inning lead over the Nationals and Matt Cain pitching.

The Dodgers have won four of five games since their seven-game losing streak ended, thanks to scoring four of five runs tonight against Arizona. They lead San Francisco by 1 1/2 games in the National League West and the Diamondbacks by seven.

Never-to-play-again Mark Ellis doubled, singled and walked, while Luis Cruz singled twice, providing the offensive support alongside the Penn-and-Teller home-run hitters, Van Slyke and Herrera. Each pitching for the third night in a row, Ronald Belisario and Kenley Jansen closed it out again.

Jun 28

Dodgers recall Van Slyke … but option De Jesus

Mets at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Dee Gordon, SS
Elian Herrera, 3B
Juan Rivera, LF
James Loney, 1B
Scott Van Slyke, RF
Adam Kennedy, 2B
Matt Treanor, C
Tony Gwynn Jr., CF
Chris Capuano, P

The Dodgers have called up Scott Van Slyke to help fill the Andre Ethier injury gap and optioned Ivan De Jesus Jr., which means there will still be a roster spot available assuming Ethier is placed on the disabled list. The other possibility would be that the Ethier injury isn’t as serious as first reported, though I’d be surprised by that.

Beleaguered first baseman James Loney gets a shot at batting cleanup in the absence of Ethier and Matt Kemp. Bobby Abreu is on the bench.

According to the Dodger press notes, the franchise’s longest scoreless streak on offense is 41 innings, set from August 21-24, 1908. The current team is at 30.

* * *
Luis Cruz, John Ely, Tim Federowicz and Josh Wall were selected to represent Albuquerque at the Triple-A All-Star Game on July 11. From the press notes:

Federowicz was named the starting catcher of the PCL team after batting .284 with 20 doubles, a triple, seven homers, and 43 RBI this season. The backstop leads the PCL in games played by a catcher with 59. Ely is 8-5 with a 3.38 ERA and leads the league with 103 strikeouts. Cruz is hitting .320 with a whopping 30 doubles, putting him on track to break the Albuquerque record for doubles in a season (41). Wall has a league-high 17 saves in 34 games.

May 13

Kemp, Ethier watch Dodgers finish win from clubhouse

A nightmare scenario produced a dreamy finish – today, anyway.

Despite losing Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier midway through today’s game, the Dodgers rallied from deficits of 3-0 and 4-2, scoring six in the bottom of the fifth on their way to a 11-5 Mother’s Day victory that improved their MLB-best record to 23-11.

Before I get into the other details, I want to say this about A.J. Ellis, who singled, walked and hit a three-run home run today (capping the fifth-inning onslaught) and now is OPSing .974 this season. I have absolutely believed for a long time that he was capable of delivering high on-base percentage and occasional power. Plate discipline is huge in this game, and Ellis has it by the bushel. What he’s doing in 2012 matches my highest expectations, but it doesn’t exceed them, certainly not for a stretch of this length. I am thrilled, I am elated, but I am not shocked. Not in any way.

As for the rest of the action …

1) No, we’re not getting out of today’s game unscathed. Kemp left today’s game after running out a ground ball in the bottom of the third, engineering new concern over his left hamstring. What this means long-term isn’t clear, though in the short-term, at least, the Dodgers didn’t suffer. Bobby Abreu hit a three-run double in his first at-bat to give the Dodgers their first lead of the day.

2) Ethier left today’s game in the fifth inning on the behest of home-plate umpire Mark Carlson’s right thumb. Ethier argued a borderline called third strike at length, then began to walk away but cursed unmistakably in the process. Carlson had showed patience during the initial argument, but didn’t extend it any further. I sent my daughter to her room for a few minutes in response to her own shouting at around the same time, so I understand the feeling. (Don Mattingly also was sent on his less-than-merry way a minute later.)

3) Scott Van Slyke replaced Ethier in right field and looked great. In his first plate appearance, he drew a walk and stole a base, then scored the Dodgers’ ninth run on a perfectly executed squeeze by Adam Kennedy on a high and outside pitch. In the eighth inning, Van Slyke doubled in two more runs, continuing his perfect start to his career.

4) Tony Gwynn Jr., moments after moving to center field after Kemp left, made a spectacular horizontal catch.

5) James Loney doubled and walked twice.

 

May 09

Van Slyke debuts with RBI single in Dodger victory

Tonight at Dodger Stadium, Chad Billingsley needed 85 pitches to get through four innings, allowing 11 baserunners – but only two runs, and that was the preeminent silver lining.

A huge play came in the third inning, with the Dodgers down 2-0, when Matt Kemp threw out Nate Schierholtz rounding second base, seconds before Brandon Belt would have crossed home plate with the Giants’ third run. That was as close as San Francisco came to scoring again in what became a 6-2 loss to the Dodgers.

With Tim Linceum pitching, you might expect San Francisco wouldn’t need more than two runs, but 2012 has not been Lincecum’s year.  Tony Gwynn Jr. capped a four-run fourth inning with a bases-loaded triple off an 0-2 Lincecum changeup – according to Bob Timmermann, Gwynn became the first to hit a bases-loaded pinch-triple in the fourth inning since Jeff Burroughs in June 1978. Dodger manager Don Mattingly had rightly pinch-hit for Billingsley, who didn’t offer much reason to remain in the game in that situation.

Two innings later, A.J. Ellis tripled with one out, and Scott Van Slyke – in his first major-league at-bat – singled up the middle to get him home. According to the Dodgers’ public relations staff, Van Slyke became the first Dodger with a pinch-hit RBI hit in his first at-bat since Carl Warwick in April 1961.

Billingsley, by the way, singled in his only at-bat, meaning that the bottom spot in the order went 3 for 3 – with Chris Capuano hitting a pinch-sacrifice in the bottom of the eighth. According to Baseball-Reference.com, Capuano was the first Dodger pitcher to pinch-sacrifice since Orel Hershiser in September 1988.

Jamey Wright, Ronald Belisario, Josh Lindblom and Kenley Jansen combined for five innings of shutout relief.

Ellis, Andre Ethier, Bobby Abreu and Juan Uribe each had two hits for the Dodgers. Abreu is OPSing .971 as a Dodger so far, while Ellis now leads National League catchers in OPS at .927.

Matt Kemp, on the other hand, went 0 for 5 for the first time since September 2009.

May 09

Rivera injures knee tendon, Van Slyke called to the show

Giants at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Dee Gordon, SS
Adam Kennedy, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Bobby Abreu, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
James Loney, 1B
A.J. Ellis, C
Chad Billingsley, P

Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. got the scoop: 2011 Dodger Minor League Player of the Year Scott Van Slyke is coming to the big leagues. The reason: an injured left knee tendon suffered Tuesday by outfielder Juan Rivera, who is headed to the disabled list.

Van Slyke, whose case for a callup was discussed here a couple of weeks ago, has a .411 on-base percentage and .623 slugging percentage for Albuquerque, playing the first base and corner outfield positions.

Rivera has a .276 OBP and .358 slugging this season. J.P. Hoornstra of the Daily News tweeted that Rivera is expected to be out for some time.

In other injury news, not so fast, Jerry Hairston Jr. – you’re getting an MRI on your left hamstring.

Expect the right-handed hitting Van Slyke to start as soon as Friday against the Rockies and 49-year-old Jamie Moyer. For you trivia buffs, Moyer faced Van Slyke’s father Andy 21 times, giving up two singles, a double, a home run and two walks for a .707 OPS.

May 06

The return of the Cool-a-Coo?

Dodgers at Cubs, 11:20 a.m.
Matt Kemp is resting a tight left hamstring but is available to pinch-hit, according to pregame reports. Kemp has started 123 consecutive games, according to Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A., and played in 392 in a row.

However, the start of today’s game is delayed by rain. 

Dee Gordon, SS
Mark Ellis, 2B
Andre Ethier, RF
Juan Rivera, LF
Jerry Hairston Jr., 3B
James Loney, 1B
A.J. Ellis, C
Tony Gwynn Jr., CF
Aaron Harang, P

Apparently, a Cool-a-Coo resurrection is possible after all.

All my research had shown that Cool-a-Coos, the greatest dessert treat in sports history, had disappeared when the company had gone out of business, but according to Bill Shaikin of the Times, they’re being manufactured by a small company under the name of “Mr. Cool.”

If it’s the real deal, then the Dodgers absolutely need to bring them back as soon as possible. And please, don’t try to sell me on the Its-It. It’s not the same thing.

Elsewhere …

  • Looking ahead: After today’s game, the Dodgers have four consecutive series against their four National League West rivals. Three of those series are at home.
  • According to the Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN Stats & Information), Chris Capuano had an 0-1 count on 20 of 26 batters he faced Saturday.
  • Teams are starting to shift against Matt Kemp, writes Christina Kahrl for ESPNLosAngeles.com – taking into account his tendency not to pull the ball.
  • John C. McGinley will play Red Barber in the upcoming Jackie Robinson movie 42, writes Dave McNary of Variety.
  • Tommy John surgeon Dr. Frank Jobe, Jim “Mudcat” Grant, and Luis Tiant have been elected to the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals. They finished in the top three by receiving at least 33 percent of votes. Just missing election this year were Lefty O’Doul (32%), Dizzy Dean (30%), Manny Mota (29%), Don Zimmer (29%), Steve Bilko (27%), Charlie Finley (25%), and Glenn Burke (24%). Induction day is July 15.
  • Steve Dilbeck of the Times becomes the latest to wonder why Jerry Hairston Jr. wouldn’t be the Dodgers’ regular third baseman even when Juan Uribe is healthy. The argument is that Hairston would wear down – the response would be whether Uribe isn’t already worn down.
  • Alex Castellanos and Scott Van Slyke were named Triple-A all-stars for the month of April by Baseball America.
  • Wrightly or wrongly, third baseman David Wright, an obvious trade target for the Dodgers, is likely to remain a Met, writes Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com.
  • The Cubs have designated Blake DeWitt (.305 OPS) for assignment.
  • A shoutout to Scott of venerable Rancho Park Pharmacy, thanks to Scott mentioning these words last week when I picked up my prescription: “R.J. Reynolds.”

 

Apr 24

Castellanos/Van Slyke/Sands postscript

Christopher Jackson, who covers the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque for the Albuquerque Baseball Examiner, stopped by the Dodger Thoughts comments Monday and offered the following reaction to my post about Scott Van Slyke, Jerry Sands and Alex Castellanos.

Castellanos is not ready for the big leagues. He can chew up and spit out the lousy pitching in the PCL, but he is very prone to chasing stuff on the outside part of the plate. Big-league pitchers will eat him alive, a la Sands last year with the inside pitches. The good news is Castellanos knows he’s not ready. I asked him if he’d heard the rumors people were tossing about when Uribe was hurting, and he told me everyone’s getting ahead of themselves. He knows for his development that a full season (or at least close to a full season) at Triple-A is a must. And no, folks, he’s not going to solve the 3B dilemma. The Dodgers are focused on him playing 2B, period.

Van Slyke, besides being one of the funniest guys on the team (his stories about life in baseball as a kid are outstanding), is a solid hitter and someone I could see going up to the big leagues in the second half. He can hit to all fields, he will take pitches at the plate and defensively he seems fine in the outfield (first base, well, there’s a reason the Dodgers moved him off there this spring).

Sands and the Topes’ coaching staff are confident he can turn things around, but lordy, that boy seems stubborn. They tell him “lay off the first pitch” and he goes up and swings away from the start. In most games his early plate appearances are hard to watch, then he starts to settle down. I think if anything he’s trying too hard; he’s overthinking at the plate. It’s frustrating for everyone involved, and you want to root for the guy since he is a good kid. You just wonder that if he can’t turn things around in the next month or so what the Dodgers are going to do. They want him to succeed, they need him to succeed, but right now …

Oh, and best bet for first Tope to be called up: Scott Rice. The kid is legit as a lefty reliever. Might spare you all from MacDougal/Coffey sooner rather than later.

Jackson is on Twitter: @TopesWriter.

Apr 23

Castellanos hot, but Van Slyke might make better case for callup

Braves at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Dee Gordon, SS
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Juan Rivera, LF
James Loney, 1B
Juan Uribe, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Chris Capuano, P

So, are you wondering about Alex Castellanos? If not, should you be?

The Dodgers’ hottest high-level minor-league hitter is Castellanos, who has a .483 on-base percentage and .757 slugging percentage for Albuquerque this year. His numbers have actually been better on the road, so while you have to take Pacific Coast League stats into account, it’s safe to say he’s been doing some of this on his own.

It’s hard to believe the lopsided Los Angeles lineup couldn’t use a guy like Castellanos, but the situation is a bit complicated. The 25-year-old has spent this year being converted to second base, which is not one of the Dodgers’ trouble spots right now. Mark Ellis has a .730 OPS (111 OPS+) and has been fielding well. You might make a case that Castellanos would provide an offensive boost, though I’m not so sure — but in any case, I’m not sure anyone would be ready for a double-play combo of Castellanos and Dee Gordon.

Castellanos hasn’t played a professional game at third base since 2009 — not even this year, when the Dodgers have had such uncertainty at the position. So I think you can dismiss the idea of him being called up to play there.

Left field, on the other hand, is a different story. Castellanos has spent most of his pro career in the outfield (albeit in right), while Juan Rivera is very quietly off to a start notably worse than the more publicized James Loney. Rivera has a .298 on-base percentage and .314 slugging percentage and provides none of Loney’s defensive value — indeed, Tony Gwynn Jr. comes off the bench at the earliest opportunity to replace Rivera.  In the heart of the order, whether batting between or after Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, the 33-year-old Rivera is problematic to say the least, and when he comes out, that leaves Gwynn (or, in case of a double switch, a relief pitcher) in the meat of the lineup.

That’s not to say Rivera might not kick it into gear offensively starting tonight, but essentially we saw last summer the best that he can provide, and we know it doesn’t last long. He’s broken a .750 OPS in a full season once since 2006.

Now, we wouldn’t even be having a Rivera conversation had Jerry Sands not had a miserable March, which happens to have been followed by a miserable April (.316 OBP, .318 slugging so far with the Isotopes). Sands reminds us how hit-and-miss the leap from Triple-A stardom to the majors can be.

So the question is, do you call up Castellanos for a role that would push Rivera to the bench, where the latter might be a decent No. 1 pinch-hitter against lefties (not surprisingly, he hits them better than righties)? I think that depends on how you view the Dodgers’ future at second base. If Castellanos truly can learn to hold down that position, that would ultimately make him more valuable to the franchise, which is fairly thin in middle-infield talent. But when would he get to play there? Ellis is signed through the end of 2013, but he turns 35 in June. If he wears down, the Dodgers might need to replace him this summer, but if he pulls a Jamey Carroll, the Dodgers might not need a new second baseman for two years.

Here’s what I might recommend:

Though he’s not quite at Castellanos levels this year, 25-year-old Scott Van Slyke with little fanfare has followed his outstanding 2011 by starting strong in 2012: .443 OBP, .600 slugging and more walks than strikeouts. Try Van Slyke in left field, Rivera on the bench and Adam Kennedy on an outbound train (with Justin Sellers and Jerry Hairston Jr. picking up the infield time taken by Kennedy, whose signing to a guaranteed contract this past winter never made sense). That gives Van Slyke a taste of the majors and the Dodgers hope for increased production in left field and off the bench, while buying time for Castellanos to continue to grow acquainted with second base and for Sands to figure out what’s gone wrong.

Calling up Van Slyke has a pretty good chance of making the Dodgers better in the short term and the long term. What’s not to like?

(Footnote: Castellanos came to the Dodgers in exchange for Rafael Furcal, who is for the time being hale and hearty. Furcal leads the National League with eight doubles and has a .423 OBP and .523 slugging in 72 healthy-for-now plate appearances in 2012.)

Mar 05

Sons of anarchy: Next-gen Dodgers turn White Sox upside down

Dodgers 6, White Sox 4

Highlights:

  • In the sixth inning, four sons of former major leaguers – Tony Gwynn Jr. (single), Justin Sellers (double), Ivan De Jesus Jr. (triple) and Scott Van Slyke (booming home run) – produced a cycle for the generations.
  • Chad Billingsley retired six of seven batters on 21 total pitches, a feat chronciled by Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
  • Winning pitcher Angel Guzman retired all four batters he faced.
  • Andre Ethier had the Dodgers’ first hit of the spring, a double, and first run. Ethier looked physically fit legging out the two-bagger, writes J.P Hoonstra of the Daily News.
  • Josh Fields went 2 for 2.
  • Three of Nathan Eovaldi’s five outs were strikeouts.
  • Adam Kennedy made a great defensive play at third base on behalf of Billingsley.
  • Scott Rice struck out two in his inning of relief.

Lowlights:

  • Eovaldi allowed two hits and two walks.
  • Matt Kemp and Dee Gordon were among seven 0-for-2 Dodgers.
  • Ryan Tucker allowed two runs in the ninth inning.

Sidelights:

  • Attention, Double-A Dodgers and friends: Chattanooga will be the site of some filming of 42, the upcoming Jackie Robinson feature starring Chadwick Boseman (with Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey and Christopher Meloni as Leo Durocher), and the filmmakers will casting for local ballplayers to appear, according to Nooga.com.
  • Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen made the Crashburn Alley “Unbeatable” team aimed at winning each of the next 10 World Series. (And Davey Lopes was named first-base coach.) Kemp, I gather, was considered too old?
  • Mark Sweeney has left his front-office job with the Dodgers to become a Padres TV analyst.
  • Daily News sportswriter Jon Gold wrote a moving obituary for his sister, Amy Wishnie. You’ll not read anything more meaningful for some time.
Feb 08

Interview: De Jon Watson looks at Dodger prospects

Though the Dodger farm system certainly has its less fallow spots, it also certainly has its fertile areas, which were enough for ESPN.com’s Keith Law to rank it 12th in the majors, higher than I’ve seen elsewhere.

For a closer look at some of the Dodger developing prospects, I interviewed Dodger assistant general manager in charge of player development De Jon Watson recently for a piece that is running in full at ESPNLosAngeles.com. Here’s how it begins …

The patchwork roster surrounding established Los Angeles Dodgers stars like Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw this year would hint at a dearth of minor league chips to play with, but De Jon Watson would encourage you to ante up.

The Dodgers’ assistant general manager in charge of player development has more than a poker hand’s worth of serious starting pitcher candidates rising through the system, and would even argue for a few wild cards among the position players.

“It’s been good stuff, man,” Watson said of the franchise’s depth at starting pitcher. “Our kids are coming. It’s great to have that type of competition. … If you have a hiccup or someone goes down for a little bit, you have a legitimate option waiting in the wings. The key is being as sharp as they can possibly be when that opportunity arises so you really don’t miss a beat.”

That doesn’t change the Dodgers’ pattern of leaning toward veterans at the start of the season. With Hiroki Kuroda leaving as a free agent and the team’s 2010 minor league pitcher of the year, Rubby De La Rosa, recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Dodgers signed Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano rather than hand a starting rotation slot to Nathan Eovaldi, who had a 3.09 ERA in six starts at age 21 late last summer.

Shortstop Dee Gordon is the only 2011 Dodgers rookie who has the inside track on a starting spot with the team this season. Gordon, who had 24 stolen bases in 56 games and a .325 on-base percentage (.398 in September), will look to capitalize on his hot finish.

“The biggest thing to look for from him is going to be his on-base percentage,” Watson said, “because his speed is going to change how they pitch to the guy that’s behind him. He’s going to apply pressure both from an offensive standpoint and a defensive standpoint for the opponent. So he has to get on base. For us, his key is understanding what type of hitter he is, understanding the strike zone.” …

In addition to Eovaldi, De La Rosa and Gordon, Watson also provides a status report on Jerry Sands, Zach Lee, Garret Gould, Allen Webster, Chris Withrow, Shawn Tolleson, Steven Ames, Scott Van Slyke, Alex Castellanos, Chris Reed and Pedro Baez.

Hope you enjoy reading the full story

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Nov 02

Dodgers add Silverio, Van Slyke to 40-man

In the soothing quiet of a slow news cycle, the Dodgers have made two more roster moves. From The Associated Press:

The Los Angeles Dodgers added outfielder Alfredo Silverio and first baseman-outfielder Scott Van Slyke to their 40-man roster.

Silverio batted .306 with 16 home runs and 85 RBIs lastseason with Double-A Chattanooga, and earned selection to the All-Star Futures Game in July.

Van Slyke won the Southern League batting title with a .348 average and had 20 homers and 92 RBIs for Chattanooga. He was named the Dodgers’ minor league player of the year. He is a son of former All-Star outfielder Andy Van Slyke.

I wrote in August about Van Slyke as an emerging 2012 roster option. The 25-year-old had a .427 on-base percentage and .595 slugging percentage in 2011 for Chattanooga, adding up to a 1.022 OPS that was second-best in the Southern League behind Paul Goldschmidt (who then had a 117 OPS+ for Arizona down the stretch) .

Silverio, 24, finished his year with a .340 OBP and .542 slugging, as well as this bizarre combination: 18 triples, 11 stolen bases, 12 caught stealing.

Aug 19

Scott Van Slyke’s surge should open eyes for 2012

As exciting as it’s been to see Javy Guerra, Rubby De La Rosa, Josh Lindblom and Nathan Eovaldi trip from Double-A to the majors, the missing passenger on that ride for the 2011 Dodgers has been a minor leaguer who can actually hit.

How’s this: The No. 1 active hitter in the Double-A Southern League is Dodger prospect Scott Van Slyke.

The only guy atop Van Slyke in OPS in the Southern is Paul Goldschmidt, who was called up by Arizona and now has a .353 on-base percentage and .596 slugging percentage for the Diamondbacks in his first 15 games. In Double-A, Goldschmidt was at .435 and .626.

Van Slyke, who turned 25 last month, now sits at .422 and .570 while splitting time between first base and the outfield, positions where the Dodgers look thin next year even if Jerry Sands comes through. Van Slyke has 42 doubles in 405 at-bats to go with 14 home runs, and 57 walks against 87 strikeouts.

Of late, he has accomplished the pretty feat of having two hits, three hits, four hits and five hits in his past four games, capped by a 5-for-7 performance in Thursday’s 12-11 extra-inning loss.

Van Slyke had a .907 OPS with High-A Inland Empire in 2009, then struggled a bit when he moved up to Double-A in 2010. But he has more than adjusted. He’s on the old side for his level, so we’re not looking at a future Hall of Famer, but we should at least be looking.

When I started wondering about 2012 back in May, I mentioned Van Slyke, thanks in part to his hot start but more so to the fact that I needed bodies to fill out my 2012 lineup. In other words, it wasn’t exactly with a strong belief that he would or even could actually start next year.

However, with Trayvon Robinson off to Seattle, and the Dodgers possibly having as little to spend in the offseason as they’ve had in years, Van Slyke probably needs to be taken more seriously. After all, his .992 OPS in the tougher hitting environment of Double-A is higher than Sands’ .907 OPS in cozy Triple-A, and he has a better walk-strikeout ratio as well. (He’s also better in the latter category than the otherwise hot-hitting Alex Castellanos, who came to the Dodgers in the Rafael Furcal deal and now has a .972 OPS in 2011).

Here’s the starting lineup the Dodgers will arguably take into the offseason, before any free agents (their own or from other teams) are signed or any trades are made:

A.J. Ellis, C
Scott Van Slyke, 1B
Justin Sellers, 2B
Dee Gordon, SS
Juan Uribe, 3B
Jerry Sands, LF
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF

Little has been said about Van Slyke as a prospect, but he hardly looks like the weakest hitter in that group. Even if he struggles at the outset of his major-league career, he might be worth investing some hope in.

Jun 22

How ‘The Bad News Bears’ almost won

Josh Wilker (yes, I do mean Wilker this time) has been doing a lot of retrospection on “The Bad News Bears” in support of his new book (which I read last weekend and quite enjoyed). Today, he writes insightfully about the Toby Whitewood character, and in the process links to a conversation with actor David Stambaugh from last year at The Hollywood Interview. It’s all really interesting stuff for fans of the original movie, but here’s the big reveal, from my perspective:

“For a long time,” Stambaugh says, “we didn’t know how the movie would end, because they actually filmed the last play of the big game both ways. The one they used has Kelly (Jackie Earl Haley) getting tagged out, but they also shot footage of an extra man on base, Kelly making his home run, and the Bears winning the game. Michael Ritchie took some of us out to dinner a few days before the premiere, and that’s when he told us what had been decided. I think we were all pretty happy about it. It seemed like the more authentic ending.”

* * *

  • Jamey Carroll gave a lengthy interview to Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors.
  • Dodger minor leaguer Scott Van Slyke was named most valuable player of the Southern League All-Star Game. He drove in the game’s first run with a single before stealing second and scoring, and later doubled and scored a second run. This season, Van Slyke has 22 doubles in 225 at-bats, a .408 on-base percentage and .516 slugging percentage.
  • Update: Bryan Stow’s condition has been upgraded from critical to serious, reports The Associated Press. “Doctors there said Wednesday that Stow is now breathing without a ventilator and has been able to intermittently follow some basic commands.”
Apr 24

Trayvon Robinson making his own case

Eric Risberg/APTrayvon Robinson

Hot starts from Dodger minor leaguers:

Trayvon Robinson, 23, OF, Albuquerque
63 plate appearances, .429 on-base percentage, .661 slugging percentage, four homers, six walks, 19 strikeouts

Jon Link, 27, RP, Albuquerque
12 1/3 innings, 16 baserunners, 10 strikeouts, 2.19 ERA

Bryan Cranston, 55, UT, Albuquerque
No stats, only video.

Corey Smith, 29, 3B, Chattanooga-Albuquerque
63 plate appearances, .397 on-base percentage, .483 slugging percentage, one homer, five walks, 10 strikeouts

Scott Van Slyke, 24, OF, Chattanooga
54 plate appearances, .463 on-base percentage, .830 slugging percentage, three homers, six walks, 10 strikeouts

Michael Antonini, 25, SP, Chattanooga
17 2/3 innings, 20 baserunners, 12 strikeouts, 1.53 ERA

Rubby De La Rosa, 22, SP, Chattanooga
15 1/3 innings, 20 baserunners, 19 strikeouts, 1.76 ERA

Nathan Eovaldi, 21, SP, Chattanooga
15 innings, 18 baserunners, 16 strikeouts, 1.20 ERA

Austin Gallagher, 22, 1B, Rancho Cucamonga
62 plate appearances, .468 on-base percentage, .632 slugging percentage, two homers, five walks, seven strikeouts

Gorman Erickson, 23, C, Rancho Cucamonga
49 plate appearances, .490 on-base percentage, .575 slugging percentage, no homers, nine walks, seven strikeouts

Steven Ames, 23, RP, Rancho Cucamonga
8 1/3 innings, seven baserunners, 15 strikeouts, 1.08 ERA

Jonathan Garcia, 19, OF, Great Lakes
65 plate appearances, .354 on-base percentage, .712 slugging percentage, six homers, five walks, 17 strikeouts

Garrett Gould, 19, SP, Great Lakes
17 innings, 14 baserunners, 12 strikeouts, 1.59 ERA

Zach Lee, 19, SP, Great Lakes
14 innings, 21 baserunners, 21 strikeouts, 1.29 ERA

Shawn Tolleson, 23, RP, Great Lakes
6 1/3 innings, seven baserunners, 16 strikeouts (out of 19 total outs), 0.00 ERA