Jul 25

Dodgers part ways with Ted Lilly

A day after activating him from the disabled list, the Dodgers designated Ted Lilly for assignment, calling up Elian Herrera in his place.

Lilly finished his Dodger career with a 3.83 ERA in 341 innings. The Dodgers drafted him in 1996.

Next week is the 15th anniversary of the Dodgers trading Lilly, Peter Bergeron, Wilton Guerrero and Jonathan Tucker to the Expos for Mark Grudzielanek, Hiram Bocachica and Carlos Perez.

Among other things, Lilly leaves with the lowest career batting average, .069, in Los Angeles Dodger history (min. 100 AB). He also has the lowest on-base percentage, .087 — the only one that’s below .100.

Reds at Dodgers 7:10 p.m.

May 25

Livestream of consciousness

Cardinals at Dodgers, 4:15 p.m.

Nick Punto, 3B
Mark Ellis, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Scott Van Slyke, LF
A.J. Ellis, C
Dee Gordon, SS
Ted Lilly, P

With today’s funky starting time and the kids occupying themselves for an indefinite amount of time, I’m going to try to do some live-blogging while I can, catching up on some stuff from the past week and commenting on at least the start of the game. So keep refreshing until I tell you to stop …

3:26 p.m.:  The Don Mattingly saga this week stirred so many thoughts in me that I didn’t have time to get to and, at this point, I’m not sure where to begin.

If this makes sense, while I think Andre Ethier was clearly in mind as Mattingly spoke about what it takes to win and all that, I don’t think Mattingly was singling out Ethier.  I think he was making an example of Ethier, which is an entirely different thing.

Take note of this. The Dodgers put out their Wednesday lineup. Ethier isn’t in it. Reporters ask why. Mattingly doesn’t directly answer the question, instead delivering his rugged sermon about what he expects from every member of his squad. It’s clear that Ethier is falling short of this standard. But it’s also clear that Ethier is not the only one falling short of the standard (in Mattingly’s mind), and I don’t know why people didn’t see this.

3:31 p.m. Do you see what I’m getting at? Perhaps this is more of a nuanced position than I wish to acknowledge. Consider, for example, what happened with Matt Kemp in 2010. Ned Colletti makes some critical comments about Kemp that are clearly about him, right? At the time, Kemp appeared to have been playing particularly well, which made the criticism surprising. But even if you grant that behind the scenes there was a level of commitment Kemp wasn’t living up to, Kemp was being singled out.

What happened this week with Ethier is not that, especially if you consider that Mattingly had already been talking publicly in recent days about the shortcomings of other Dodgers, such as Dee Gordon and Luis Cruz – who also, you might notice, were not in Wednesday’s starting lineup.

It’s clear that Mattingly believes that multiple people on his roster aren’t pulling their weight.  Anyone who made this about Ethier missed the point.

I certainly agree with the idea that Mattingly needs to communicate with Ethier directly and not through the press. Mattingly and Ethier are publicly disagreeing about whether that has happened.

3:37 p.m. The two oldest kids are screaming upstairs. I’m trying to ignore them.

3:38 p.m. As long as I started down this nuanced path, let’s go farther.

Mattingly was wrong when he said that sabermetrics don’t account for the level of play he is seeking – or at a minimum, he is underestimating how much they count. Preparation, grit, intensity, fight – these are all attributes that ultimately will manifest much of their value through statistics.

Let’s say Smith works harder than Jones. What does that mean? Nothing, unless it leads to more production on the field. Now, that production could mean better stats for Smith. It could also mean better stats for Jones as well, if Smith inspires him to do better. It could even mean better stats for Jones and not Smith if, for example, Smith makes sacrifices that boost Jones.

Our ability to quantify effort might be imperfect. But there is a statistical outcome. When Kirk Gibson rebelled against Jesse Orosco’s eyeblack prank in the spring of 1988, there was a tangible result.

Am I playing semantics? Perhaps. But no more than those who are citing hard work and effort as a counterpoint to statistical value. They walk hand in hand.

3:46 p.m. With that said, let’s talk about grit and effort and determination.

For the most part, these are pregame activities. These things are about preparation. And I imagine there’s no limit to the preparation you can do before the first pitch is thrown, whether you’re talking about work during the offseason, an off day or the hours before gametime.

Once the game starts, things change a bit. In my view, there is a limit to how much mental energy is useful when you’re at the plate. Overthinking is a huge danger when a pitch is coming at you. By the time you are in the batter’s box, everything should be instinctive.

This brings us back to Ethier, and Mattingly’s famous quote that the outfielder gives away at-bats because of his emotional state. That might or might not be true – it reeks of exaggeration, but I don’t know. In any case, this isn’t a question of effort, unless you’re arguing that Ethier hasn’t put in sufficient effort (I have no doubt there’s been some effort) to channel his emotions positively.

You can understand how simultaneously Mattingly could be correct and Ethier could be offended. Again, this is nuanced. Ethier doesn’t dog it. Ethier gets angry at himself. Ethier gets frustrated. Ethier wants the best for himself. And yet Mattingly could be right that Ethier’s still not getting it.

I find myself sympathetic to both sides because I feel that I hear both Mattingly and Ethier in my own head on a regular basis.

3:55 p.m. The Angels won their seventh in a row today. Does this mean the Dodgers are unlucky that the Angels have gotten hot just in time for their series next week, or the Dodgers are lucky that the Angels’ hot streak may run out before they meet?

That Mike Trout is, once again, something else.

3:58 p.m. I might be the last outsider not to give up on Ted Lilly. I mean, he was more or less getting by on wiles before last year’s injury, right? Was that injury specifically a career-ender? I’m not aware it was that significant.

4:02 p.m. Apparently the screaming was part of an iMovie the kids are filming. I told them to do a script rewrite.

4:04 p.m. Youngest Master Weisman has come downstairs. The liveblog could be in trouble. One of the reasons I suspended Dodger Thoughts in September was that I was less and less comfortable with it taking me away from devoting time to the kids when it was available. But it is a tug in both directions. I want to be a good father, and I want to write, and it’s tough when the two come in direct conflict.

Obviously, I don’t have to write right this second. But it’s hard to walk away when you’re just in the mood.

4:09 p.m. Scott Van Slyke’s current value to the Dodgers, however intermittent, has been so pleasing to be not just because of how desperately it’s needed – how can he be the only power threat on the team – but what it says about the game. I love the idea that it’s not over for a player just because the establishment decides it’s over.

At any given moment, some players are better bets to contribute than others. But the line to decline is not a straight one. The game is forever one of adjustments, and you never know when someone has a last burst. That’s part of what makes baseball such a great American drama.

4:12 p.m. I remember when I used to look forward to the Dodgers being on a national telecast. But that was when they were good, and when I didn’t have to hear the simplistic summaries of national broadcasters.

How long has Joe Buck had that beard? I’m not sure it works, and yet it probably looks better than my wintertime scruff.

4:15 p.m. If you don’t have the confidence in Dee Gordon to be a starter, you might as well send him back to the minors unless you think his best long-term contribution to the team is as a bench player. But as thin as the Dodger bench is, they probably can’t afford to carry a guy whose only contribution is as a pinch-runner. Prove me wrong, Dee …

4:17 p.m. “Mostly sunny – it’s L.A. It could be a little hazy or a little … whatever, but it’s L.A.” – Joe Buck

4:18 p.m. First pitch from Lilly is a strike, 85 miles per hour. Second one is also 85 mph, and lined right back through the box by Matt Carpenter.

“Through the box” is pretty archaic, huh?

4:22 p.m. Matt Holliday slashes an 0-2 pitch from Lilly deep down the right-field line, and Ethier makes a running catch – degree of difficulty 6. The replay indicates that Mattingly applauded.

4:23 p.m. Allen Craig is badly fooled on a 72 mph curve to fall behind 0-2.

4:24 p.m. Gritty player makes error on routine grounder. Seriously, what does that tell you?

4:25 p.m. Yadier Molina is called “the most irreplaceable guy on any roster in major league baseball” by Buck.

4:27 p.m. A sinking, medium arc fly to left center field eludes a diving Scott Van Slyke for an RBI double and an unearned run. It was a good effort.

4:28 p.m. The next pitch from Lilly hits David Freese in the back to load the bases.

4:29 p.m. Jon Jay grounds out to end the inning. Are you disappointed anyone scored or grateful that it was only one?

4:30 p.m. Thoroughly feels like I’m ignoring my 5-year-old, who is out in the backyard by himself with the dog. I’m not sure how much longer I can tell myself this is character building.

4:32 p.m. Punto and Adrian Gonzalez, who I think both have good fielding reputations, are now tied for the team lead with five errors. How the heck has Gonzalez racked up five errors? Matt Kemp is next with four.

4:33 p.m. Leadoff walk from John Gast to Nick Punto. See, good teams make mistakes too!

4:34 p.m. WIll I get to see even this much of Clayton Kershaw vs. Shelby Miller on Sunday?

4:35 p.m. Mark Ellis hits a ball to left fielder Holliday that the back of my brain tells me would have been a home run if a Cardinal hit it.

4:36 p.m. On a 2-0 pitch, deep fly by Gonzalez that turns Jay around in center field and bounces at the wall, for an RBI double that ties the game, 1-1. And again, why not just a clean and pretty home run?

4:37 p.m. Kemp grounds to third on the third pitch, sparing us a longer discussion from Buck and McCarver of his woes.

4:38 p.m. Andre Ethier Chat!

4:39 p.m. Youngest Master Weisman can’t open the Pringles can by himself. Does he not want them enough?

4:40 p.m.  Ken Rosenthal, who if I understand correctly was wrong in a column this week about the Dodger managerial situation, is about to talk about the Dodger managerial situation.

Though I suppose you could argue that Rosenthal hedged his bets a bit.

4:45 p.m. San Francisco losing in the 10th inning at home against Colorado. Game’s not over, so I can’t quite say out loud what I’m thinking.

4:46 p.m. Laptop battery level: 18%. Plug location: distant.

4:47 p.m. With one out in the top of the second inning and the Cardinals’ pitcher batting, I check Mike Petriello’s handy bullpen chart to see who is likely to get action today. Confidence!

Lilly strikes out Gast on the next pitch, then retires Carpenter to complete a perfect inning. Still not used to a different Carpenter on the Cards.

4:48 p.m. The kids are now filling up water pistols.

4:51 p.m. A Van Slyke is batting in the late afternoon sun at Dodger Stadium.

4:52 p.m. As Rosenthal talks, the Cardinals go to the mound and pull Gast from the game for medical reasons, following a ball four to Van Slyke that was more like a lob. Joe Kelly enters the game, and it’s time for me to go get that charger.

4:54 p.m. Good lord, the Giants win on a two-run walkoff inside-the-park homer.

4:57 p.m. A.J. Ellis strikes out on three pitches from Kelly, none slower than 96 mph. Bodes well for Gordon.

4:58 p.m. The Dodgers do a hit-and-run on a one-out, 0-2 pitch to Gordon with Van Slyke taking from first base and Molina behind the plate. A foul ball preserves the comedy, and Gordon strikes out two pitches later.

5:00 p.m. Gast left with left shoulder tightness.

5:01 p.m. Kelly has an ERA over 7 but he throws fire. Nothing below 95 mph. Lilly becomes his third strikeout victim in a row to end the inning. (OK, that hasn’t actually happened yet – the count is 2-2.)

5:02 p.m. OK, now it’s happened. Three outs.  Buck teases a Kershaw interview for the third inning.

5:03 p.m. The kids are soaking wet. One of them threw one of the water guns. A piece broke off and the dog snagged it and chewed it up. Total time of ownership for that toy: 3 1/2 hours.

5:06 p.m. As Kershaw talks to Buck, Lilly gets an easy first two outs in the top of the third. But now the trainers are visiting Gordon at shortstop.

5:09 p.m. Kershaw on having the lowest ERA of any starting pitcher since 1920: “I’ve only been playing for five years. I’ve got a lot of time to screw that up.”

5:10 p.m. Whatever it was, Gordon is staying in the game. Kershaw is now talking about his batting strategy against Miller.

5:11 p.m. Buck says he’s worried about asking his last question to Kershaw, about the mood of the team, because he can’t see who’s standing around Kershaw. Kershaw does a mock look around to see who’s eavesdropping, then replies.

“There’s no doubt that there’s some stuff going on, but if we win some games, that’s really all that matters,” Kershaw says. “Donny’s doing everything he possibly can. We all have his back. Personally, I love him to death, and he’s such a great guy to have as a manager. It’s really not fair to him just because we haven’t been performing as a team. That’s on us. It’s a lot easier to look at one guy than 25 but at the end of the day, we’ve got to go out and win some games. The pressure’ll be taken off, and we’ll be good to go from there. ”

Lilly strikes out Craig to end the top of the third. So far: three innings, two hits, no walks, one hit batter, one unearned run, 45 pitches.

5:16 p.m. Punto, leading off the bottom of the third, hits a low liner to right-center, and Jay was shaded toward left-center. A double.

5:17 p.m. With first base open, the next pitch hits Ellis in the hip. Retaliation? Ah, who cares? Two on, none out for Gonzalez.

5:19 p.m. Gonzalez was in a 4-for-32 slump with three walks and no extra-base hits going into today’s game. But he’s got RBI hits in his first two trips to the plate today, driving home Punto here with a single to center.  And suddenly we know how Kelly has an ERA over 7. As of this moment, it’s soaring through the air at 7.47.

5:22 p.m. Sigh. Kemp strikes out on three pitches.

5:23 p.m. Siiiigh. Ethier pops out to third. Some boos. Will Van Slyke keep it going?

5:25 p.m. Full count, two out.

5:26 p.m. Van Slyke sends one high and deep to center, but it dies on the warning track.

OK, I’m more than two hours into this, and definitely on borrowed time right now. Posting might become a bit sporadic in the middle innings as I try to figure out dinner.

5:34 p.m. Lilly has a perfect fourth and has retired … hello, 10 in a row.

Mac and cheese for kids’ dinner with green beans. My wife doesn’t think I use enough water in the pot for the mac. But she ain’t here …

5:38 p.m. Gordon ends an 0-for-25 skein with a one-out single off Kelly, setting up a potential Gordon-Molina showdown.

5:43 p.m. Lilly strikes out trying to bunt – giving Kelly a career-high six strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings so far. Now, you might as well send Gordon with two out and Punto up.

5:45 p.m. Gordon doesn’t test Molina. Lilly’s failure to bunt is underscored when Punto singles to left and Gordon goes to third base. Punto has been on three times in the first four innings.

5:47 p.m. Craig makes a nice running catch of a Mark Ellis foul ball near the stands to end the fourth. Dodgers still lead, 2-1.

Young Master Weisman is eating a giant pickle as a pre-mac appetizer.

6:02 p.m. Lilly cruises through the top of the fifth – now 13 in a row against the National League elite – and then Gonzalez kicks off the bottom of the frame with a legitimate solo four-bagger. That’s three straight RBI hits for Gonzalez, by the way. After a walk to Kemp, Kelly is pulled from the game, having gone three innings and 62 pitches in his emergency appearance.

6:11 p.m. Mom’s home! (Postscript: Dinner was not my best work, but it did what it needed to do.)

6:17 p.m. Catching up here. Carlos Martinez  – not this one – relieved Kelly and retired the next three batters (two on strikeouts) to strand Kemp. St. Louis relievers have eight strikeouts in four innings, and the Dodgers have struck out 19 times in 14 innings against the Cardinals so far in this series.

6:18 p.m. After retiring 14 in a row, Lilly walks Holliday with one out in the sixth – his first walk of the game – and just like that, he’s pulled from his first start since his return from the disabled list by Mattingly. He threw 79 pitches in 5 1/3 innings, allowing a run (unearned), two hits (one unearned) and a hit batter (unearned) while striking out three.

Ronald Belisario enters. I can already hear Mattingly saying, “I was not going to let Ted Lilly lose that game.”

6:22 p.m. See 3:58 p.m. I feel inappropriately vindicated by Lilly’s excellent outing.

6:23 p.m. Craig forces Holliday at second for the second out. By the way, Carl Crawford came in with Belisario in a double switch, replacing Van Slyke. Crawford will bat second in the bottom of the sixth.

6:24 p.m. Trouble. Molina singles, bringing Freese to the plate with the tying runs on base.

6:25 p.m. Freese hits a ball not unlike the one Molina hit in the first inning, right to the same spot, and Crawford does the same dive as Van Slyke did and comes up the same empty. It also goes for a double, the Cardinals have cut the Dodgers lead to 3-2 and Jon Jay is walked intentionally to load the bases with two out for Pete Kozma, who popped out twice against Lilly.

6:26 p.m. Hard smash down the third-base line. Punto makes a diving backhanded stop, beautifully. No time to recover and step on third, and he can’t get to his feet to make a throw to first in time to get Kozma. The game is tied, as Belisario can’t preserve Lilly’s lead.

6:28 p.m. If the bullpen were in better shape, I’d have been more content to see the Dodgers quit on Lilly while they were ahead. But it’s just hard to watch Belisario enter games with any kind of stakes these days.

6:30 p.m. Pinch-hitting for the Cardinals is left-handed batter Matt Adams, who is 16 for 40 with three walks, a .442 on-base percentage and a .700 slugging percentage this season. All of that damage is against righty pitching, however. Paco Rodriguez relieves Belisario, and Adams pops out on the third pitch. We’re tied going into the bottom of the sixth, 3-3.

6:35 p.m. A.J. Ellis has struck out in his first three at-bats. Previously in his career, he had one other three-strikeout game and one four-strikeout game.

6:36 p.m. With Crawford on deck, Gordon flies to the sun field in right to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Crawford then reaches base on an error by Carpenter, bringing Punto and his .844 OPS to the plate.

6:40 p.m. Argh, Punto strikes out. Mark Ellis up.

6:41 p.m. There it is – Ellis lashes a double down the line, and Crawford, “flying around the bases,” as McCarver says, comes all the way around to score to give the Dodgers back the lead.

6:42 p.m. Gonzalez needs a triple for the cycle – he has 12 in his career. But he’s walked intentionally to put runners at first and second with two out for Kemp.

6:45 p.m. Kemp strikes out on a 2-2 pitch that’s ankle-high. That’s 10 strikeouts in five innings for the Cardinal bullpen.

6:48 p.m. I don’t know if this feels like one of the more interesting Dodger games of the year only because I’m paying this much attention.

6:50 p.m. Dodger defense has come to life the past two innings. Gonzalez dives to his right to intercept a potential single by Carlos Beltran, then throws from his knee to Rodriguez covering first base for the second out of the seventh.

6:51 p.m. Mattingly brings in Kenley Jansen to face Holliday with the bases empty.

6:52 p.m. And you don’t see this much: Kemp is removed from the game in a double switch, with Skip Schumaker entering. It’s fairly sound strategy – Jansen would have been the third batter in the bottom of the sixth – but you do have to ask yourself, is Schumaker better to have in the game than even a struggling Kemp?

You now have the pitcher’s spot behind Gonzalez, which isn’t a good position for a team whose remaining bench is Luis Cruz, Ramon Hernandez and Juan Uribe. Gonzalez might not see a strike until Sunday.

6:59 p.m. Everyone on Twitter talking about Kemp’s negative reaction in the dugout to being pulled. By the way, Jansen struck out Holliday to end the top of the seventh.

7:00 p.m. Matt Holliday almost Matt Hollidayed that fly ball by Andre Ethier, but he caught it.

7:01 p.m. McCarver and Rosenthal are saying that Kemp’s removal by Mattingly is a pure strategy move. But clearly, it’s a move that never happens if Kemp isn’t struggling.

7:02 p.m. Schumaker, for his part, reaches base on an infield single to third base.

7:04 p.m. A.J. Ellis walks to end his strikeout streak, but Gordon flies to center for the second out. Crawford now batting to try to give the Dodgers a bigger cushion.

7:07 p.m. Didn’t mention that old friend Randy Choate is in the game for St. Louis. He has allowed nine baserunners in 7 1/3 innings with two strikeouts entering the game, but has a 1.23 ERA.

7:08 p.m. After hitting a foul ball off someone’s Dodger cap in the front row of the seats near first base, Crawford hits a fly to right-center. Jay and Beltran come close to each other before Jay gloves it for the inning-ending out.

7:13 p.m. If Jansen can get all three batters in the eighth, the closer in the ninth would face the bottom third of the Cardinals order in the ninth. Jansen strikes out Craig, but Molina singles to left for his third hit of the game.

7:16 p.m. Jansen goes 2-0 to Freese, and I’m starting to worry. The next pitch is a high strike, followed by a swing and a miss on a 90 mph pitch down the middle.

7:17 p.m. High heat, upstairs. Freese strikes out, bringing on Jay.

7:19 p.m. Jay hits a 200-foot drop shot into right field for a single. Kozma, who tied the game in the sixth, is up at the plate with two on and two out.

Again, there are ramifications beyond this inning. Even if Kozma is retired, Carlos Beltran is now guaranteed to bat in the ninth inning, with Holliday after him if anyone else gets on.

7:21 p.m. On his 23rd pitch of this outing, Jansen goes 3-0 to Kozma.

7:22 p.m. I’m corrected! Beltran came out of the game in a double switch for Choate.

7:23 p.m. The count is 3-2. Runners going. Jansen throwing his 27th pitch. It catches the edge of the zone for a called strike three.

Dodgers head to the bottom of the eighth, trying to add to their 4-3 lead. Due up in the top of the ninth for St. Louis: light-hitting reserve outfielder Shane Robinson, Carpenter and then probably Daniel Descalso as a pinch-hitter.

7:28 p.m. I don’t think it’s possible for me to jinx an already-struggling Brandon League, but it occurs to me that if he gets the save, he will get cheered on a night that Kemp got booed. Bizarro world.

7:30 p.m. Punto reaches base for the fourth time today with a hard single to right.

7:32 p.m. After Mark Ellis fails on a bunt attempt, he hits a grounder to short slow enough to allow him to avoid a double play. Gonzalez now bats with two out and a pinch-hitter on deck against Mitchell Boggs.

7:30 p.m. Punto reaches base for the fourth time today with a hard single to right.

7:32 p.m. After failing on a bunt attempt, Mark Ellis hits a grounder to short that’s slow enough for him to avoid the double play. Gonzalez now comes to the plate, with Uribe on deck to hit for Jansen.

7:35 p.m. One of the more predictable walks of the season is issued to Gonzalez. Here comes Uribear!

7:36 p.m. Uribear!  A hard shot off the glove of Freese and down the line, an RBI double.

It’s come to this. Dodger fans are excited to see Uribe bat instead of Kemp, and are rewarded.

Uribe raises his 2013 on-base percentage to .371 and OPS to .727.

7:38 p.m. Ethier is walked intentionally, loading the bases for Schumaker.

7:39 p.m. Schumaker hits a weird chopper just over Mitchell Boggs that Carpenter is able to flag near second base and convert into a double play.

We’re heading for the ninth, League tasked with protecting a 5-3 lead.

7:42 p.m. League starts with a first-pitch strike to Robinson, clocked at 94 mph, then follows with an 87 mph called strike two. After a ball, it’s 95 mph for a swinging strike three.

7:44 p.m. Punto’s diving stop in the sixth inning is Fox’s play of the game.

7:45 p.m. Carpenter grounds to Gordon, and the Dodgers are one out away from victory. Ty Winnington is the batter.

7:46 p.m. It’s a grounder to Punto, and just like that, the Dodgers win. Man, how they had to scratch and claw, but they won.

It’s a story of redemption … for Punto, who made the first-inning error that got the Dodgers off to a stumbling start, then did everything right after that … and for Lilly, who showed he can still contribute as a major-league starter. Keep that in mind as we await other redemption songs.

Thanks for reading – good night!

Apr 01

Happy New Year

Welcome to 2013!

I’m in the press box today, taking a day off work to freelance a piece for Sports on Earth that you’ll see tonight. In the meantime, here are some notes from Don Mattingly’s pregame session:

• Everyone seems at ease with Chris Capuano in the bullpen for now, but neither Aaron Harang nor Don Mattingly seem sold on Harang’s presence there.

“Aaron is a little bit for me someone who we’ll have to learn (about) as we go,” Mattingly said. “He’ll be a bit more of a challenge, in terms of how long it takes him to get going, how long it takes him to get loose. … I’m a little more concerned with Aaron than I am with Cap to be honest.

It didn’t sound as if Harang had really even bought into the program at this point.

“Maybe he hadn’t quite accepted it,” Mattingly said. “Now reality has hit, and we need to get down to brass tacks.”

• Mattingly likes Paco Rodriguez, the young reliever who last year became the first from the 2012 draft class to reach the majors, and he likes him not only as a guy to focus on left-handed batters.

“This guy can get righties out, too,” Mattingly said. “He’s a strike-thrower. … All our lefties for me can get lefties and righties out.”

• There is no medical watch on Carl Crawford beyond simple common sense.

“At this point, I think Carl is off the (medical) list,” Mattingly said. “That being said, we know he’s coming off major elbow surgery, and we have to pay attention.”

Mattingly also made the case that concern over Crawford’s throwing arm – never a strength of his game, the manager acknowledged – is a bit overblown.

“He’s more of a speed guy,” Mattingly said. “He gets to it quick and gets rid of it quick.  … (But) it ain’t like he can’t throw. We think he’s going to continue to get better.”

Mattingly added that Skip Schumacher “throws as good as anybody (the Dodgers have) in the outfield” and he would be the primary defensive replacement should the team feel it needs a better arm in the late innings.

• Dylan Hernandez of the Times asked Mattingly, “How did Ted Lilly react when you told him he was injured.” Mattingly smiled somewhat sheepishly for several seconds, then said, “Ned (Colletti) took care of the DL, so I’ll leave that there.”

•  ”Voila,” Mattingly said at one point in the pregame. On principle, I’m not providing the context, allowing you to imagine him as a magician.

Giants at Dodgers, 1:10 p.m.
Kershaw CL: Kershawn the Waterfront

Dodgers starting lineup
Carl Crawford, LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Andre Ethier, RF
Luis Cruz, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Justin Sellers, SS
Clayton Kershaw, P

Aug 03

Mark Walter: Not an absentee owner

Cubs at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Shane Victorino, LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
James Loney, 1B
Luis Cruz, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Chad Billingsley, P

The Dodgers have put a waiver claim in on Cliff Lee, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com, though it’s still unlikely that they’ll end up with the Phillies lefty.

That makes this piece by Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com on Dodger ownership leader Mark Walter that much more timely.

… After missing out on Ryan Dempster at the deadline, the Dodgers’ brass was insistent it wasn’t done dealing. In fact, when I caught up with him on the field Tuesday afternoon, new controlling owner Mark Walter was openly hinting at that idea.

“Do you really ever want to say we did enough?” Walter said. “That’s not an attitude I really want a lot of around here. I guess if the entire All-Star team is on your team, you could feel like you had enough. But I don’t want to think that way. That’s now how you want to look at it. …

… Walter actually has been at the stadium quite a bit, and when he’s there, he’s often down on the field or in the clubhouse before games. He’s not shy, either.

When I joked with him about how much money he had spent in the last few weeks, he laughed and said, “Yeah, I guess I have.”

He described the trade deadline as something of a roller-coaster ride, said he was hanging on every phone call from Kasten or GM Ned Colletti and wasn’t doing much to conceal some disappointment he felt at not being able to do even more.

In other words, Walter’s invested — and not just financially. …

Ted Lilly, meanwhile, has suffered a setback in his rehabilitation, tweets Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A.

Jul 29

Sands’ slams top a great day on the farm

The Dodgers’ happy Sunday extended down to the minor leagues, where Jerry Sands hit two grand slams in the first four innings for Albuquerque in the second game of a doubleheader.

In addition, Ted Lilly and Rubby De La Rosa each had successful rehabilitation outings, taking steps toward rejoining the active roster sometime in August. The pair combined for five shutout innings with four strikeouts.

May 28

Lilly heads to disabled list for second time in 2012

Brewers at Dodgers, 5:10 p.m.
Tony Gwynn Jr., CF
Elian Herrera, 2B
Bobby Abreu, LF
Andre Ethier, RF
Jerry Hairston Jr., 3B
James Loney, 1B
A.J. Ellis, C
Dee Gordon, SS
Aaron Harang, P

Ted Lilly has gone on the disabled list with left shoulder inflammation. Michael Antonini has been called up to work out of the bullpen if needed tonight, with Nathan Eovaldi set to take Lilly’s scheduled start Tuesday.

So far in 2012, Eovaldi has a 3.09 ERA for Double-A Chattanooga with 30 strikeouts against 45 baserunners in 35 innings.

* * *

An exhibition of baseball-related art, Baseball: The All-American Game, will take place at the Craft and Folk Art Museum on Wilshire Boulevard across from the The Tar Tar Pits through September 9. Ron Cervenka of Think Blue L.A. has more details.

Apr 25

Lilly takes over NL ERA lead, but Dodgers fall in ninth

You know Matt Kemp has gone loco. But are you aware that Ted Lilly has too?

The veteran lefty, who started 2012 on the disabled list, has taken over the major-league lead in ERA. Lilly pitched seven innings of one-run ball, retiring his final 10 batters, and left with the Dodgers ahead tonight against the Braves, 2-1.

The Braves rallied to win the game in the ninth inning, 4-2, with Dan Uggla singling in the tying run immediately after Dodger reliever Javy Guerra took a line drive from Brian McCann to the chin, and then took the lead when Chipper Jones drove in the go-ahead run.

Kemp actually helped put Lilly over the top, hitting a tiebreaking homer off Brandon Beachy – No. 10 on the year for the Bison – in a rainy sixth inning. Beachy led the league in ERA when the game started, but thanks to that blast (and an earlier RBI groundout by Dee Gordon), Beachy left the game with his ERA at 1.05.

For that matter, Lilly’s ERA went up as well, to 0.90, but for the first time this season, he has enough innings to qualify for league ERA leadership: 20. That will last him until Saturday, when the Dodgers play their 21st game, and then he’ll try again next week.

Lilly struck out only two but surrendered but four baserunners. He extended his streak without allowing a home run to 62 1/3 innings, and opponents are batting .138 against him this year (.001 behind league-leader Matt Cain).

Kemp’s 10th home run tonight matched Gordon’s 10th stolen base, which means that while Kemp might never become a 50-50 player, the duo are on pace to become an 85-85 combo. Each leads the majors in their respective categories.

Mar 30

Ted Lilly will start season on DL

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

  • San Francisco placed two starting pitchers on the disabled list today, Ryan Vogelsong and Eric Surkamp, according to The Associated Press.
  • Bill Bene, the Dodgers’ No. 1 draft pick the year that Clayton Kershaw was born and the team won its last World Series, “agreed to plead guilty on federal charges he operated a counterfeit karaoke business and didn’t pay taxes on sales,” according to Lindsay William-Ross of LAist.
  • Sam Miller has not one, but two good pieces at Baseball Prospectus today. Check ‘em out.
  • Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick gets a nice review from Mike Downey in the Times, as Alex Belth of Bronx Banter notes.
  • Allow me to recommend the second-season soundtrack of Treme as a great listen.
  • If your favorite Dodgers were Burt Hooton, Eric Karros, Eric Gagne, Duke Snider and Tommy Lasorda – and you really liked Karros –  you might be able to buy into the team now.
Oct 10

Remembering 2011: Ted Lilly


Andrew B. Fielding/US PresswireTed Lilly (12)

The setup: After coming to the Dodgers, the team that drafted him in 1996, at the 2010 trade deadline and posting a 3.52 ERA with 77 strikeouts in 76 2/3 innings, Lilly was a free agent but one with an interest in staying in Los Angeles. In mid-October, not waiting to sound out offers from other teams, Lilly signed with the Dodgers for three years and $33 million. Though his ERA was above average during his half-season in Los Angeles, there was concern about his age (35 in January) and his home-run rate (one every six innings, roughly).

The closeup: Lilly didn’t eat innings, averaging 5.8 per start, nor was he reliable even at that length for most of the year. He was one of several Dodger veterans who disappointed in the first four months of the season, seemingly taking two steps back after every step forward. Beginning the year by allowing four runs in 4 2/3 innings of a 10-0 loss to the Giants, Lilly had three quality starts in his first nine. After managing to lower his ERA to 3.98 on June 11 with a nice run of five starts, he was hit hard over his next three, allowing 17 earned runs in 14 2/3 innings. (Was it the left-elbow tenderness?) Only once in 11 starts from June 6 from August 3, did he last more than six innings, and not once did he complete the seventh. When August began, his ERA was 5.02.

And then, there were the homers and steals. While Matt Kemp pursued a 30-30 or even a 40-40 season, Lilly was in effect doing the same thing from the dark side. For the year, opponents stole 35 bases in 37 attempts against the lefty, all but powerless to slow them. Meanwhile, after allowing only two home runs in April, Lilly gave up nine in May, five in June, seven in July and five in August – a total of 28 entering the season’s final month.

But following a solo homer to Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez on August 26, Lilly kept the ball in the park for his final 42 2/3 innings of the season, delivering a 1.69 ERA over that period with 39 strikeouts. (Was it the acupuncture?) When he finished his seventh shutout inning at Arizona in his final appearance of the season, Lilly lowered his ERA to 3.97, its best level since he took the mound for the first time in April. Still, his park-adjusted ERA+ of 94 was Lilly’s worst since 2005. Lilly now has a 3.84 ERA in 269 1/3 innings over 45 starts with the Dodgers.

Coming attractions: In he second year of his contract, a 36-year-old Lilly will try to slow his decline in a Dodger rotation that, behind Clayton Kershaw, is also looking for a bounceback year from Chad Billingsley, a return or replacement for Hiroki Kuroda and adequacy from Nathan Eovaldi or his like.

Sep 17

Little Lilly really won’t go home

Ted Lilly, trying to stave off joining the 30-30 club, hasn’t allowed a home run in his past three starts, his longest stretch since April. This season, Lilly has allowed 28 home runs and 33 steals (in 35 attempts).

According to Baseball-Reference.com, there have been 18 pitcher 30-30 seasons since 1950, none since Gavin Floyd of the White Sox in 2008 and none in the National League since Randy Johnson of Arizona in 1999.

Aug 26

Minutia, Minushka

Catching up on some news …

  • Kenley Jansen has been activated from the disabled list. Josh Lindblom was sent to Double-A Chattanooga, where he will bide his time until he can return, in 10 days when rosters expand or sooner if there’s another Dodger injury.
  • Dee Gordon was scheduled to begin a minor-league rehabilitation assignment, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, but Gordon did not play Thursday. It does not appear that the Dodgers will wait until when rosters expand September 1 to activate Gordon, which would mean that Eugenio Velez might not remain on the 25-man roster for long (though would no doubt clear waivers).
  • Ted Lilly is responding well to acupuncture treatment, he told Gurnick.
  • Don Drysdale’s daughter Drew is scheduled to sing National Anthem and God Bless America at Dodger Stadium on Monday.
  • While much talk about the Cubs’ general manager vacancy has centered on Ned Colletti, it’s former Dodger general manager Dan Evans who might be a more likely choice, according to Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • Dodger prospect Jerry Sands is breaking some eggs – that is, making some significant adjustments with the hopes of deriving long-term benefit. From Christopher Jackson at Albuquerque Baseball Examiner:

    … “It’s been real tough, cause I came back down and I knew I needed to change some things, but it’s tough to totally overhaul in the middle of the season and be productive,” Sands said. “I want to get back up there, but I want to look like I learned something.

    “It was tough having to change things I’d done for years and then change them right over. The hot and the cold stretches have been a part of me learning, just a process of what I have to do to be more consistent.” …

  • Clayton Kershaw “stands to become just the fourth Dodger in the 128-year history of the franchise to post three straight seasons with an ERA+ of 130 or higher,” writes Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. Jeff Pfeffer, Sandy Koufax and Orel Hershiser are the others.
  • Stephen also passes along the news that outfielder Kyle Russell has gotten a late-season promotion from Chattanooga to Albuquerque.
  • Sons of Steve Garvey caps its visit to St. Louis with a long, thoughtful piece about sportswriting.
  • The man himself, Bob Eubanks, talked to Dodger historian Mark Langill about the Beatles, setting up this weekend’s commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the Beatles playing Dodger Stadium (via Blue Heaven).
  • The friendly folks at Bronx Banter passed along “10 Things John Sterling would say in a hurricane” from IT IS HIGH! IT IS FAR! IT IS… caught.
  • On target as always, Joe Posnanski about “the myth of pressure.”

    … This line — that it’s easier to put up numbers without pennant pressure — is a lot like that. Nobody can possibly believe this. First of all, there’s the obvious flaw: If it were easier to put up numbers in non-pressure situations, then players would consistently and obviously have better years on lousy teams than they do on good ones. Does this ring even the slightest bell of truth? Does anyone believe that Derek Jeter would have put up better numbers had he played for Kansas City? Does anyone believe that Albert Pujols would be so much better if he had spent his career playing in the carefree world of the Pittsburgh Pirates? Roy Halladay was great for mediocre Blue Jays teams and is great for outstanding Phillies teams. Hank Aaron was the same great player with the same great numbers when Milwaukee won, when Milwaukee almost won, and when Milwaukee wasn’t very good at all. …

    If you’ve read this blog at all you know: I’ve covered a lot of bad teams in my life. I’ve been around some good ones, too. And as far as “pressure” goes, well, from my observation, it’s not even close. There is infinitely more pressure on players on lousy teams than on good ones. Obviously, this depends on how you define pressure, but if the textbook definition of pressure is “the feeling of stressful urgency cause by the necessity of achieving something,” well, absolutely, there’s way more pressure on the lousy teams.

    … Think about it: What pressure is there on players in pennant races? The pressure to win? Sure. But players come to the ballpark energized. Everyone on the team is into it. The crowd is alive and hopeful. The afternoon crackles. Anticipation. Excitement. There’s nothing in sports quite like the energy in a baseball clubhouse during a pennant race. Players arrive early to prepare. Teammates help each other. Everyone’s in a good mood. There’s a feeling swirling around: This is exactly the childhood dream. The added importance of the moment could, in theory I suppose, create extra stress. But the reality I’ve seen is precisely the opposite. The importance sharpens the senses, feeds the enthusiasm, makes the day brighter. Baseball is a long season. Anything to give a day a little gravity, to separate it from yesterday, to make it all more interesting — anything like that, I think, is much more likely to make it EASIER to play closer to one’s peak.

    A losing clubhouse? Exactly the opposite. The downward pressure is enormous and overwhelming — after all, who cares? The town has moved on. A Hawaiian vacation awaits. Teammates are fighting to keep their jobs or fighting to impress someone on another team or just plain fighting. The manager might be worried about his job. The reporters are few, and they’re negative. Smaller crowds make it easier to hear the drunken critics. Support is much harder to come by, and there is constant, intense force demanding that you just stop trying so hard. After all: Why take that extra BP? You’ve got the swing down. Why study a few extra minutes of film? You’ve faced that hitter before. Why take that extra base? Why challenge him on that 3-1 pitch? Why? You’re down 9-3 anyway.

    It’s absolutely AMAZING to me when a player puts up a fantastic year even when the team around him stinks. …

Jul 05

Is lefty Lilly all right?

Ted Lilly’s start tonight for the Dodgers could be considered a critical one, for reasons that have nothing to do with the team’s place in the standings.

Lilly has been battling left elbow tenderness, as Ken Gurnick of MLB.com notes. He was given an extra day of rest before making his latest start, after having to skip several between-starts bullpen sessions. This has been going on while Lilly has allowed 17 earned runs over 14 2/3 innings in his past three outings.

Any further struggles could (or perhaps the word is “should”) force Lilly to the disabled list, which would mean the callup of John Ely, the only minor-league starting pitcher on the 40-man roster, or someone else who isn’t on the 40-man, such as Triple-A All-Star Dana Eveland. Jon Garland is out for the season, reports Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

* * *

  • Andre Ethier is out of today’s starting lineup because of the flu, but he did what I presume was MLB-prescribed promotion for his candidacy for the MLB All-Star final vote.
  • Matt Kemp has been invited to the Home Run Derby during the All-Star Break.
  • Baseball America published a list of the youngest ballplayers in each professional league.
  • The Dodgers continue to offer major discounts even on giveaway nights. $5 reserved seats for an Andre Ethier bobblehead promotion Thursday.
  • Longtime Holman Stadium public address announcer Dick Crago passed away Friday at the age of 85, the Dodgers announced. He worked the Vero Beach stadium from 1969-2008.
Jun 28

Dodgers can’t overcome Lilly’s struggles in 6-4 loss


Hannah Foslien/Getty ImagesTony Gwynn couldn’t catch Alexi Casilla’s drive but threw him out trying to advance to third base for his seventh outfield assist of the season.

Ted Lilly will get his act together before Major League Vaudeville bids him adieu, maybe sometime soon, but he’s gettin’ tomatoes thrown at him right now.

Lilly allowed six runs in 4 2/3 innings (81 pitches), meaning that over his past three starts, Lilly has allowed 17 earned runs in 14 2/3 innings. He had at least been striking out batters, but tonight the player who is fifth in the National League in strikeout/walk ratio didn’t have it, striking out none. (Trivia: Most pitches by a Dodger pitcher this century without a strikeout … Carlos Perez, 101 on May 3, 2000.)

Lilly put the Dodgers in a 4-1 hole, but Los Angeles came back for three in the top of the fifth inning in a rally started by Aaron Miles’ first major-league home run since September 16, 2008 and ending with Andre Ethier’s two-run single off Twins lefty Brian Duensing. Lilly then surrendered the lead in the bottom of the frame on a two-run homer by Luke Hughes, the 16th homer Lilly has allowed in 17 starts.

The Dodgers mounted another rally in the seventh inning, but came up scoreless in what amounted to a reversal of fortune from Sunday, when they rode two close calls to a walkoff victory over the Angels. First, Tony Gwynn Jr. was ruled out on what appeared to be an infield single that would have put two runners on with one out. Then, Jamey Carroll was thrown out on a close play trying to score on Casey Blake’s single.

The Dodgers put two baserunners on in the ninth inning, but Casey Blake grounded out and that was the ballgame, leaving only this question: On what planet is it a good idea for Dioner Navarro to pinch-hit for Carroll, as occurred with one out in the final inning?

Jun 22

Homer-field disadvantage sinks Lilly, Dodgers

Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesMagglio Ordonez is greeted by Victor Martinez after Ordonez’s two-run home run in the second inning, one of four round-trippers by Detroit today.

Going into today’s game, here were Ted Lilly’s day and night splits for 2011:

Day: .379 on-base percentage, .566 slugging percentage, .945 OPS
Night: .284 on-base percentage, .389 slugging percentage, .683 OPS

That was before Lilly gave up three home runs in the Dodgers’ 7-5 loss to Detroit today, ending Los Angeles’ three-game winning streak. In short, Lilly in the daytime this year has practically been like facing a lineup of nine Matt Kemps.

Last year, the day/night OPS difference for Lilly was .796/.640. Should the Dodgers start keeping Lilly out of day games? That split hasn’t been consistent over the course of his entire career, so maybe it should just be ignored, but it does have me wondering.

The Dodger offense tried to overcome the troubles of Lilly and Matt Guerrier, who got a quick hook after allowing the Tigers’ fourth homer and a single to start the eighth inning. They had their five runs and needed at least two more in the ninth inning when, with one out, Andre Ethier singled and Matt Kemp (triple, two singles, two walks, one steal) got a base on balls. James Loney’s third hit of the day loaded the bases.

Don Mattingly then did perhaps the one thing that has been most vexing about him this year — use his pinch-hitters in frustrating fashion. Instead of saving Casey Blake to bat for Dioner Navarro, Mattingly had Blake bat for Dee Gordon. No matter how raw the rookie is, I don’t know how you could think at this point that Navarro is a better bat — plus, by sending Blake up with one out, Mattingly almost infinitely increased the possibility of a game-ending double play.

Right or wrong, Mattingly watched Blake strike out and Navarro (who also left the bases loaded in the fifth inning) drove one deep to center that Austin Jackson had to run back to catch before hitting the wall. It was a well-hit ball, but with that out went the tenuous momentum the Dodgers had built for the previous three days.