Jul 03

Uribe’s pursuit of Andruwza Line continues

Reds at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Dee Gordon, SS
A.J. Ellis, C
Bobby Abreu, LF
Juan Rivera, RF
Adam Kennedy, 2B
James Loney, 1B
Luis Cruz, 3B
Tony Gwynn Jr., CF
Chris Capuano, P

Juan Uribe’s journey to ignominy looked like it might make another rest stop at the disabled list, with the infielder having sprained his right ankle while getting thrown out on the bases in Monday’s 8-2 Dodger loss to Cincinnati. However, Uribe is back in tonight’s Dodger starting lineup, thrilling legions of Dodger fans.

With Mark Ellis nearing a return from the DL at second base, the timing for a Uribe injury wouldn’t have been so bad (if it could ever be). His 2012 OPS has fallen to .539, below last year’s .557 and only 34 points above the Andruwza Line of .505, established by Andruw Jones in 2008.

In fact, Uribe is ahead of Jones’ pace — the latter came off the disabled list on Independence Day four years ago with a .543 OPS (unless you take into account the entirety of Uribe’s 119-game Dodger career, in which case his OPS skies to .551).

Update: Uribe was scratched from the Dodger lineup shortly before 4 p.m. and replaced at third base by Luis Cruz.

Update 2: Todd Coffey has gone on the disabled list, with Shawn Tolleson headed back to Los Angeles for the time being, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Times. Uribe is day-to-day.

Meanwhile, Andre Ethier is probably headed to the disabled list as soon as Wednesday, according to Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A.

* * *

  • Dodger prospect Raydel Sanchez threw seven innings of no-hit ball for Great Lakes on Monday.
  • The legend of the 21st-century Billy Hamilton grows. In his 78th game of the year Monday, the Reds minor-leaguer stole his 100th base.
  • Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post and Rob Neyer of Baseball Nation provides an update on the Rockies’ attempt to move to a short-outing four-man starting rotation. “Through the first 10 games of the grand experiment,” writes Renck, “the Rockies’ rotation, on a flexible 75-pitch limit that will grow if the starters become more effective and more durable, posted an 8.56 ERA, compared with a 6.28 ERA for the starters in the season’s first 65 games.”
Jul 02

Luis Cruz to make Dodger debut

Reds at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Elian Herrera, CF
A.J. Ellis, C
Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B
Juan Rivera, RF
James Loney, 1B
Juan Uribe, 3B
Scott Van Slyke, LF
Luis Cruz, SS
Chad Billingsley, P

Dee Gordon is getting a day off after suffering a cramp in his leg late in Sunday’s game. Given that the Dodgers don’t really have a backup shortstop and were contemplating adding a player to the bench, it comes as little surprise that they have brought up Luis Cruz to the big-league roster, with Shawn Tolleson returning to the minors.

Cruz has been viewed by some as, if not a savior, at least a viable improvement over the oft-struggling Gordon. Without ruling out an Elian Herrera-like hot streak, it seems unlikely. The 28-year-old has a lifetime .275 on-base percentage and .260 slugging percentage in 169 major-league plate apperances, and while he is at .348 and .529 for Triple-A Albuquerque this year, keep in mind that OBP is lower than what Gordon had with the Isotopes in 2011. (In addition, as the man from Cat Hell, Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness, notes, Cruz’s minor-league OPS on the road this season is .672.) But, as a backup’s backup, we’ll hope for the best.

Gordon, by the way, had a .342 on-base percentage with seven steals in eight attempts in his past nine games. That’s not to say that his overall performance this year hasn’t been disappointing, but again, we went into 2012 knowing that he’d be a work in progress.

Ted Lilly, by the way, was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. Lilly last pitched May 23. On the bright side, Mark Ellis and Javy Guerra have begun their rehab assignments and could be activated this week.

* * *

The Dodgers announced the signings of four 16-year-olds from Latin America today: pitchers Lenix Osuna, Victor Gonzalez and William Soto and catcher Julian Leon. Osuna is the son of former Dodger pitcher Antonio Osuna.

Jun 04

On draft day, Dodgers call up Tolleson

Dodgers at Phillies, 4:05 p.m.
Kershaw CXXVIII: Kershmokey and the Bandit
Dee Gordon, SS
Elian Herrera, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Juan Rivera, 1B
Bobby Abreu, LF
A.J. Ellis, C
Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B
Adam Kennedy, 3B
Clayton Kershaw, P

We expected a busy day because of the MLB Draft, set to begin at 4 p.m. Mark Appel is expected by many to be the third overall No. 1 pick from Stanford this year, following Andrew Luck in the NFL and Nneka Ogwumike in the WNBA.

However, the Dodgers made it even newsier by not only activating Juan Rivera but issuing a promotion — long-awaited by many of us — to strikeout-mad reliever Shawn Tolleson. Javy Guerra has gone on the disabled list with right knee inflammation, Scott Van Slyke has been optioned to Albuquerque and Matt Guerrier has moved to the 60-day disabled list.

Tolleson’s childhood buddy, Clayton Kershaw, is looking to avoid losing three consecutive starts for the first time in his career against a team he is 0-4 lifetime against with a 5.18 ERA (and 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings).

One potential new concern: Tony Gwynn Jr. was in the original Dodger starting lineup against Phillies righty Vance Worley announced today but was later scratched without an immediate explanation.

Update: Dylan Hernandez of the Times reports that Gwynn has a tight hamstring. How cliche …

Apr 24

Clock ticking on Mike MacDougal?

The Dodger bullpen is nearing another crunch. Todd Coffey is scheduled to pitch in minor-league rehab games Wednesday and Friday, in advance of becoming eligible to come off the disabled list Sunday, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.

Before Coffey went on the disabled list to make room for the activation of Ted Lilly, it appeared that Josh Lindblom would be sent to the minors, because he had options remaining. Since that time, the importance to the Dodger bullpen of Lindblom, who had a 2.73 ERA and 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings last year, has only been underscored. Even after allowing his first run of the season Monday, the 24-year-old Lindblom has a 0.84 ERA in 2012 with nine baserunners in 10 2/3 innings, generally pitching in critical situations. Meanwhile, Mike MacDougal has been just about useless in what has become a mop-up role, allowing 12 of 26 batters to reach base.

Even though the Dodgers have committed $1 million to MacDougal ($650,000 salary for 2012, plus a $350,000 buyout of the club’s nearly insane $2.35 million 2013 option), it’s seemed clear in recent days that Lindblom has established that he has become too important to the Dodgers to send to the minors.

There’s room for a little second-guessing, however.

MacDougal has suffered from a .412 batting average on balls in play (Lindblom is at .174). The 35-year-old’s top problem has been that he has walked five batters in 4 2/3 innings. MacDougal has always had control problems, but as overrated as he might have been in 2011, he’s probably better than he has shown in 2012. The sample sizes are so small that I’m not sure the Dodgers would be ready to give up on their MacDougal investment so early in the year.

On the other hand, they might as well be. MacDougal’s peak value is still replaceable. The Dodgers aren’t hurting for alternatives, including Shawn Tolleson, who continues to absolutely destroy opposing batters in the minors. After becoming the team’s minor league pitcher of the year in 2011, Tolleson has started 2012 by facing 22 batters and striking out 13, while allowing only three to reach base.

In addition, Ronald Belisario’s suspension will end next week (May 3) after the Dodgers play their 25th game, forcing Los Angeles to confront his future. And somewhere down the road, a recovery for Blake Hawksworth theoretically lurks.

There’s only one logical assumption, and that’s another conveniently timed injury will befall a Dodger reliever, perhaps one whose initials are the same as Mickey Mantle’s. Barring that, Los Angeles should be brave enough to confront a future without MacDougal, who conceivably could clear waivers anyway and spend some time in Triple-A, where he pitched as recently as 2010.

Feb 29

When you walk through the garden …

Rarely have I been retweeted more than I was Tuesday when I passed along this link to The Wire wind-up toys.

Now, unwind with these notes …

  • Don Mattingly confirmed to Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. that he has no plans to bat A.J. Ellis second, citing his lack of speed in front of Matt Kemp. Unfortunately, the alternative candidates’ lack of on-base percentage in front of Kemp seems not to have entered into Mattingly’s thinking.
  • Mattingly also hinted that Juan Rivera would start 2012 as the Dodgers’ regular left fielder with occasional days off. Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com added that Jerry Sands is still in the mix to be a platoon partner for Andre Ethier and James Loney.
  • Dodger relief prospect Shawn Tolleson was interviewed by John Parker of MiLB.com.
  • The Dodgers have the National League’s second-easiest early season schedule, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com. Nine of their first 34 games are against teams with winning records in 2011.
  • Here’s the full list, 200-deep, of Dodger prospect rankings from Brandon Lennox at True Blue L.A. Henry Heredia, this is your moment.
  • Gold Glove or not, Andre Ethier’s ranking in David Pinto’s PMR list for right fielders at Baseball Musings probably won’t surprise you. Matt Kemp in center field? You tell me what you think.
  • Trayvon Robinson is trying to reestablish himself after his hot start with Seattle turned into a rough finish, writes Larry Stone of the Seattle Times.
  • Tuesday in Jon SooHoo: two pics that fostered polar opposite reactions for me, Jerry Sands bunting and Matt Kemp skywalking.
  • Not surprisingly, initial reaction to the new book from Dirk Hayhurst, Out of My League, is positive. Examples: Andrew T. Fisher of Purple Row and Keith Olbermann at Baseball Nerd.
  • The statement from Ryan Braun sample-taker Dino Laurenzi is eloquently written.
  • Coming March 15-17 is a SABR Analytics conference in Arizona. Not coming at the same time is the Notalytics Conference in South Dakota, but I sure wish it were.
  • Emmett Ashford, the majors’ first African-American umpire, was given an honorary doctorate by his alma mater, Chapman College, according to Terry Cannon of the Baseball Reliquary.
  • Giancarlo Stanton: the slugger formerly known as Mike Stanton.
  • Harvard-Westlake’s Lucas Giolito hit 100 miles per hour while pitching a one-hitter for the Wolverines on Tuesday, writes Eric Sondhiemer of the Times.
  • Perfect for Leap Day: The Dodgers had the 29th-best offseason of all major-league teams, according to The Platoon Advantage.
  • KCRW’s Which Way L.A. now has its own blog.
  • Jonathan Abrams and Grantland published a vivid oral history of the 2004 Pacers-Pistons fight that spread into the stands.
  • Longtime Times columnist Steve Harvey is back writing “Only in L.A.,” host Kevin Roderick of L.A. Observed announced. The first new edition is here.
  • Watch former Cal quarterback Joe Ayoob break a world-distance record for throwing a paper airplane at ESPN.com.
  • Farewell, Monkees and Brady Bunch star Davy Jones. I was a childhood fan of both. Here, from Variety, is the 1965 ad soliciting auditions for The Monkees
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

Continue reading

Feb 07

Infielder roulette

Monday was a day of past Dodger infielders making news, and present Dodger infielders become past ones.

  • Russell Mitchell was designated for assignment to make room on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster for Todd Coffey. He could return to the organization if he clears waivers. (Remembering 2011: Russell Mitchell)
  • Blake DeWitt, once upon a time known as “The Solution,” was designated for assignment by the Cubs, who acquired him in the Ted Lilly trade a couple years back. DeWitt, 26, had a 95 OPS+ (.305 on-base percentage, .413 slugging) with Chicago in 2011, compared with Adam Kennedy’s 79 OPS+ for Seattle – but don’t expect the Dodgers to give someone up to acquire DeWitt, who more likely would end up back in the minors for the Cubs.
  • Alex Cora is still at it, signing a minor-league deal with St. Louis.
  • Edwin Jackson reportedly turned down a three-year, $30 million deal with Pittsburgh to sign with Washington for one year and $11 million, banking on doing better in next season’s free-agent market (or just determined to set a record for organizations in a career).
  • Dodgers assistant general manager of amateur and international scouting Logan White talked about some of his prize picks – Zach Lee, Clayton Kershaw, Allen Webster, Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Reed – with David Laurila for Fangraphs.
  • Up-and-coming reliever Shawn Tolleson was profiled by Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
  • The late Jose Lima is the subject of a recent SABR biography by Rory Costello.
  • Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. is taking a day-by-day look at the Dodgers’ divisional rivals, starting with Arizona on Monday and continuing with San Francisco today.
  • Monday in Jon SooHoo: Blake Griffin and Matt Kemp.
  • Mark Prior is trying one more time to salvage his pitching career, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (via Drew Silva of Hardball Talk). Prior last pitched in the majors in 2006 and won only two games after his 25th birthday.
  • Also aspiring to come back: Brandon Webb, out since Opening Day 2009.
  • Tim Lincecum talks about Clayton Kershaw, among other topics, in this video passed along by Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy.
  • Here’s a simple dice baseball game designed for kids ages 3-6, via Baseball Think Factory.
  • One last baseball-oriented remark about “Smash” that I tweeted: “Hilty is the proven veteran talent. McPhee is green but higher-ceiling. It’s Juan Rivera vs. Jerry Sands. Harang vs. Eovaldi.”  Except this wasn’t quite right. It’s more like A.J. Ellis vs. Tim Federowicz.
  • Ten years ago, while on detail for MLB.com in Venezuela, former Dodger communications vice president Josh Rawitch wrote about an up-and-coming Rivera.
  • In this terrific podcast interview, ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Kamenetzky brothers talk to Oscar-nominated actor Gary Oldman about, among many other things in a 45-minute chat, his great admiration and love for baseball.
  • This seemed to fascinate some folks on Twitter late Monday: Take a look at these NPR contributor bios, and see if their pictures match with your images of them.
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.
May 14

Unearned run provides margin for 4-3 Dodger victory

Mark J. Terrill/APMatt Kemp executes “The Crane” to topple Kenley Jansen at the All-Valley Karate Tournament.

It says something about Clayton Kershaw that he allowed back-to-back doubles leading off the first inning and loaded the bases in the third inning and still ended up pitching shutout ball. And by the end of his seven-inning outing, when he struck out 11 and retired his last 14 batters, he had gone from backpedaling to dominating.

It was the second-straight seven-inning shutout by a Dodger starter. Meanwhile, Los Angeles scored four runs, one unearned, and that was just enough to withstand the latest bullpen meltdown for a 4-3 victory.

Matt Guerrier allowed a run in the eighth inning, and Vicente Padilla allowed two in a 32-pitch ninth before Kenley Jansen came in and struck out Melvin Mora for the final out – the 15th strikeout of the game for the Dodgers.

By holding on, the Dodgers had their second three-game winning streak of the season and moved within 2 1/2 games of first place in the National League West despite an 19-20 record.

* * *

As if we hadn’t gotten enough scary medical news lately, Zach Lee entered the picture. From Jim Peltz and Kevin Baxter of the Times:

… Lee, the Dodgers’ first-round pick in last June’s draft, was sent to the team’s minor league complex near Phoenix for an MRI test on the right-hander’s pitching elbow.

Lee complained of tightness in the elbow after his last start May 5, when he went a season-long six innings, giving up one run on five hits. But he lacked his usual sharpness, striking out just one, a career low.

DeJon Watson, the Dodgers’ assistant general manager for player development, characterized the test as a standard procedure for young pitchers. He said the test showed no damage and that Lee, 19, would return to Great Lakes of the single-A Midwest League, though Watson said he did not expect Lee to pitch for 10 to 15 days.

“There’s nothing wrong,” Watson said. “We just want to make sure he’s 100%.”

Some happier tidings: Shawn Tolleson, who struck out 33 of the 56 batters he faced at Single-A Great Lakes while allowing only 12 baserunners and a 0.00 ERA in 15 innings, has been promoted to Rancho Cucamonga. (Thanks to Dodger Thoughts commenter Mike–Tink for the link.) In addition, Rancho Cucamonga reliever Steven Ames (60 batters, 28 strikeouts, 12 baserunners, 1.17 ERA) has moved up to Double-A Chattanooga.

* * *

Gathering dust: Scott Elbert has not pitched since May 9 and has thrown only one inning since May 6.

* * *

Today’s game has an unusual 4:10 p.m. start. The shadows could be timely for the pitchers …

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