Jul 04

Mark Ellis activated as Andre Ethier heads to DL

Reds at Dodgers, 6:10 p.m.
Dee Gordon, SS
Luis Cruz, 3B
Bobby Abreu, LF
James Loney, 1B
Adam Kennedy, 2B
Scott Van Slyke, RF
Elian Herrera, CF
Matt Treanor, C
Aaron Harang, P

Though he is not in today’s starting lineup, Mark Ellis has been activated, completing a rather remarkable recovery from the leg injury he suffered May 18. Andre Ethier went on the disabled list and will be eligible to return after next week’s All-Star Game.

Todd Coffey has probably pitched his last game as a Dodger – he has a damaged ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and will have Tommy John surgery that will sideline him for approximately a year. The Dodgers will no doubt pay $300,000 to buy out Coffey’s $2.5 million option for 2013.

Late Tuesday, the Dodgers signed second-round draft choice Steven Rodriguez, a left-handed reliever from Florida. Rodriguez has been pegged by Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com as one of two 2012 major-league draft picks closest to the majors, with speculation he could be in the bigs as soon as late this season.

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.”
Jun 09

Where Jerry Park meets Clayton Place: Dodgers roll, 8-3

And to think the Dodgers and their fans thought they had a supersub over the past two years in Jamey Carroll.

Jerry Hairston Jr. continued his world-beating tour of 2012 on Saturday, delivering a home run and two doubles in the Dodgers’ 8-3 victory over Seattle. Thirteen days after knocking a career-high five hits, the 36-year-old Hairston drove in a career-high five runs, including a three-run home run smashed down the line in left in the first inning that put the Dodgers ahead for good.

In 101 plate appearances this season, Hairston has a .435 on-base percentage and .525 slugging percentage, which puts him on pace to become one of the best Dodger reserves in many a moon. Since the franchise’s last World Series title in 1988, according to Baseball-Reference.com, the only true Dodger reserve to have a higher adjusted OPS in a single season than what Hairston has so far in 2012 is Dave Hansen.

Hairston managed to overshadow Clayton Kershaw, who got the win after striking out 12 in seven innings today. There have been “What’s wrong with Kershaw” mutterings this season, which might have revived after he gave up a three-run home run today to Miguel Olivo in the fourth inning. Given his new battle with plantar fasciitis, I might have been ready to join in had something gone wrong today, and I can’t say I’ve stopped worrying that something will.

But let’s now compare Kershaw’s current stats with last year’s through June 9, 2011.

Year	G	IP	ERA	OPS	K/9	WHIP
2011	14	91.67	3.44	.605	10.0	1.15
2012	13	88.33	2.65	.610	8.3	1.00

Kershaw’s 2011 numbers were inflated by consecutive outings to start June in which he allowed six runs apiece.  The flawless Kershaw that won the Cy Young Award didn’t really kick into gear until after this point of the season. So yeah, his 2012 strikeouts show a decline, but overall, Kershaw is actually off to a better start.

That, combined with Ronald Belisario, who pitched another shutout inning, practically filling the role of 2010 Hong-Chih Kuo (his ERA now sits at 1.10), Todd Coffey lowering his ERA to 3.18 since coming off the disabled list with a shutout ninth, and a 14-hit attack on offense, meant the Dodgers could put the memories of Friday’s no-hit loss far behind them.

May 12

Dodgers sign Aaron Miles to minor-league deal

Rockies at Dodgers, 6:10 p.m.
Dee Gordon, SS
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Bobby Abreu, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
James Loney, 1B
A.J. Ellis, C
Aaron Harang, P

I’ve made a few references to Aaron Miles this year, wondering why, with all the issues the Dodgers have had at third base, the Dodgers didn’t take him for another spin. Not that Miles was a problem-solver – but compared with Adam Kennedy or Justin Sellers, it just seemed odd that he wasn’t invited to the party. He came to the plate a whopping 490 times for the Dodgers last year.

Well, here it is. Dylan Hernandez of the Times reports that Miles has signed a minor-league deal with the Dodgers and has begun working out at the team’s Arizona facility. Miles “misplayed the free-agent market,” Hernandez wrote, implying that his contract demands were too high after a .314 on-base percentage and .360 slugging percentage in 2011. Miles hit .231 after July 1.

In Friday’s game, the Dodgers never trailed and won, 7-3. Chris Capuano turned in another striking performance, extending his scoreless inning streak to what would have been the 25-inning mark before allowing a seventh-inning home run to Michael Cuddyer.

Mark Ellis was the Dodgers’ early hitting star with a home run and two-run double, and Andre Ethier came a triple shy of the cycle. Juan Uribe joined Ellis in hitting 2012 home run No. 1, while James Loney reached base three times and Matt Treanor had two singles.

Ellis has a .472 on-base percentage and .533 slugging percentage in 37 plate appearances this month. For the year, he is 10th in the National League in OBP (not counting A.J. Ellis, whose day off Friday left him two plate appearances short of the minimum), and he has yet to make an error.

Pitching with a 7-1 lead in the ninth, seldom-used Todd Coffey faced five batters and allowed three hits and a hard-hit sacrifice fly that Ethier caught with perhaps the best defensive play of his career, sliding into the wall in the corner of right field. Coffey has now allowed 13 baserunners in 3 1/3 innings this season.

There was some fear that Ethier might be hurt, but he professed to be fine.

“I just banged up my toe a little bit,” he told Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A.. “I was trying to avoid hitting my knee. I tried to kick the wall to avoid sliding into it.”

MIke MacDougal, by the way, is not coming back to the Dodgers. MacDougal “has cleared waivers and rejected an outright assignment to the minors,” according to Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com. “The Dodgers thusly have requested unconditional release waivers on him, meaning MacDougal’s time with the club is over.”

Matt Kemp, who was recovering from hamstring issues earlier this week, has gone hitless in consecutive starts for the first time this season. (Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports has more on Kemp.) In May, Kemp is 7 for 28 with a double, triple and seven walks (.746 OPS) – and is no longer the hottest player in baseball. That would be Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton, who in his past five games is 11 for 21 with four walks, a double and eight home runs. Shawn Green of the Dodgers was the last to hit more homers in such a short span.

Apr 27

Eovaldi ho!

Scene from Wednesday. © Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers 2012

Haven’t done a links post in a while … so let’s catch up.

  • Nathan Eovaldi is headed to Los Angeles, but we don’t know yet whom he is replacing on the roster, writes Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A.
  • The move is interesting in part because Todd Coffey and Ronald Belisario have begun their minor-league rehab outings, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Coffey can be activated Sunday, Belisario a week from today.
  • As Magic Johnson prepares to officially become a Dodger co-owner, Michael Jordan’s 7-59 Charlotte Bobcats wrapped up the worst winning percentage for a team in NBA history, .106.
  • J.P Hoonstra of the Daily News got a first-hand look at Dodger pitching prospect Zach Lee at Rancho Cucamonga, where the pitching coach is none other than Matt Herges.
  • Guest-posting at Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness, Christopher Jackson offers a position-by-position update on the Albuquerque Isotopes. My favorite note: Luis Cruz’s “imitation of teammate Trent Oeltjen’s Australian accent is a sight to behold.”
  • ThinkBlueL.A. has expanded from a forum into a full-fledged blog, led by friend of Dodger Thoughts and fellow Bluetopia co-star Ron Cervenka. Evan Bladh of Opinion of Kingman’s Performance is also contributing.
  • ESPNLosAngeles.com had an interesting way of summing up Albert Pujols’ trials in a headline: “James Loney Has 1 HR.”
  • Eno Sarris’ interview at Fangraphs with Stanford baseball “dean of stats” Dean Stotz is interesting. Sample: “Fifty percent of the time, the hitters take the first pitch. Twenty-six percent of the time, they hit it foul. Twenty-four percent of the time they put it in play —- and only 33% of those balls are hits. That means —- if you throw a first-pitch strike —- 92% of the time, you’ll get an out or an 0-1 count.”
  • Jackie Robinson movie 42 is set to be released April 12, three days before the next Jackie Robinson Day, reports Dave McNary of Variety.
  • As part of his 30 baseball books in 30 days series, Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News reviews Willie Mays Aikens: Safe at Home.
  • For my TV-viewing friends, this post by Mitch Metcalf of Showbuzz Daily might be of interest: “What Does a Tenth of a Rating Point Really Mean?”
  • Chess boxing? Chess boxing???
Apr 14

More notes from Friday’s frolic

A.J. Ellis shows the ball used for the ninth consecutive strikeout thrown by pitcher Aaron Harang. © Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Kenley Jansen was apparently the latest Dodger to play with the flu, according to Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

… Jansen has been battling a mild case of flu in recent days, which could have accounted for the velocity drop.

“I’ve been battling the flu, but that’s not an excuse at all,” Jansen said. “You still have to make good pitches and keep us in the game and try to help the team win. That is what it’s all about.”

Both manager Don Mattingly and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt noticed the slight dropoff, but neither seemed alarmed by it. Honeycutt said it might have been due to the cold weather or illness. Mattingly said it might have been the difference in the eighth inning and the ninth, which almost anyone in baseball agrees is fairly huge except for the pitchers who actually pitch in those innings.

“It doesn’t feel any different,” Jansen said. “You have to treat the eighth inning just like it’s the ninth inning, just come in and get the job done.”

But catcher A.J. Ellis said Jansen did seem a bit out of sorts at the beginning of the inning, when he walked the first batter, Chris Denorfia.

“He was a little more tentative than I have seen him,” Ellis said. “But after that first batter, he was definitely locked back in. He came right back to strike out the next two batters on six straight pitches. Chase Headley is a good hitter, a three-hole hitter in the National League, and that pitch ended up over the middle of the plate.”

Jansen was trying to throw it in on Headley, but said it ran back over the middle. At any rate, the hope is that the velocity drop was a one-time thing — although he gave up a double to Yonder Alonso after Headley’s home run, Jansen still looked pretty unhittable in striking out the three batters he did. If it continues, though, it could become a source of alarm. …

Jackson also noted, as Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. did late Friday, the possibility of Todd Coffey going to the disabled list with a hobo knee. (That’s like a bum knee, only with a different word for bum.)

Also, bullpen coach Ken Howell is getting treatement for his diabetes, and will be replaced for the time being by organization pitching coordinator Jim Slaton.

* * *

Some more notes from Aaron Harang’s amazing night, from Elias Sports Bureau via ESPN Stats & Information:

… Three other pitchers had nine straight strikeouts in one game: Mickey Welch in 1884 (the first year in which overhand pitching was permissible), Jake Peavy in 2007 and Ricky Nolasco in 2009.

Harang tied the major-league record by recording nine strikeouts through the first three innings.

Two other players have done it, only one in the “Modern Era”:
Mickey Welch, NY Giants, August 28, 1884
Don Wilson, Houston, July 14, 1968 (G2)

Harang tied his career high with 13 strikeouts and is the first Dodgers pitcher in the last 90 seasons to have at least 13 strikeouts in a game and pitch fewer than seven innings. The last pitcher on any team to do it was Yovani Gallardo last year.

The last pitcher with exactly 13 strikeouts on Friday the 13th was Dwight Gooden on June 13, 1986 for the Mets against the Pirates.

* * *

Bryan Stow’s 13-year-old son Tyler threw out the first pitch before the Giants’ home opener, reports The Associated Press, while Bryan himself appeared on the stadium videoboard.

Giovanni Ramirez, who was mistakenly accused of beating Stow, attended his first Dodger game Tuesday, according to KCAL via the Huffington Post.

* * *

Despite what became a tumultuous hearing, federal bankruptcy court approved the sale of the Dodgers by Frank McCourt to the Guggenheim group. Bill Shaikin of the Times has all the details.

Here’s one excerpt:

… The settlement includes confidential provisions about how the league could treat revenue from a Dodgers-owned regional sports network, Bennett said. He declined to elaborate, but the provisions are believed to limit how much of the Dodgers’ television proceeds must be shared with other teams via revenue sharing.

Those conditions — and the ability of the mediator to enforce them regardless of what Selig might say — represented what Guggenheim attorney Michael Small called a “substantial component of the value proposition of the transaction.”

Guggenheim agreed to pay $2.15 billion — a record price for a sports franchise — to buy the Dodgers and half-ownership of the Dodger Stadium parking lots. McCourt, who did not have to sell the land under his settlement with MLB, gets to retain half-ownership.

“We really are concerned about the parking lot situation,” Lauria said.

Lauria said that Walter had pledged to MLB owners that he would not buy the Dodgers unless Guggenheim controlled 16,500 surface-level parking spaces — that is, no parking structures. Once the sale was announced, however, Lauria said Guggenheim refused to provide any details about how the joint venture to own the parking lots would work.

The Dodgers submitted some of those details under seal this week, and attorneys for the Los Angeles Times had asked Gross to compel the team to release the details publicly. The Dodgers instead withdrew the document and said they would release it at a later date, although Bennett said Friday the team’s lease for the lots would be extended from 25 years to 99 years. …

Mar 16

Dodgers having fun despite Thursday loss

Royals 8, Dodgers 5

  • Ivan De Jesus went 3 for 3 for the Dodgers, impressing Steve Dilbeck of the Times but leaving Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com no less skeptical about his future. Jackson also chronicles the latest example of Dee Gordon’s ridiculous speed.
  • Todd Coffey had his first hit, exhibition or regular season, since 2007, writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
  • Despite a two-walk, 27-pitch first inning, Chad Billingsley had an overall positive outing in the view of Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A., with Don Mattingly agreeing.
  • Four of five batters against Mike MacDougal reached base, one on a fielder’s choice, and all four scored by the time the next reliever, John Grabow, was done.
  • In case you missed the highlights of Wednesday’s 9-1 victory over the Reds, Clayton Kershaw struck out six in four shutout innings, and A.J. Ellis and Adam Kennedy homered. Dodger relievers struck out six in five innings, allowing one unearned run.
  • Chris Withrow, Michael Antonini, Stephen Fife, Josh Wall, Scott Van Slyke, Alfredo Silverio, Alex Castellanos, Shane Lindsay and Russ Mitchell were optioned or reassigned to minor league camp today.
  • In an extensively reported story, Gene Maddaus of L.A. Weekly cemented the kibosh — or enabled the kibosh — on purported Dodger ownership candidate Joshua Macciello. (Macciello issued a press release in his own words Thursday.)
  • Wendy Thurm of Fangraphs wonders if major-league teams should be more concerned with outbreaks of Valley Fever.
  • Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors reviews the San Francisco Giants’ offseason. “Posey’s recovery from a grisly May leg injury will provide a boost to the Giants, while the additions of Cabrera and Pagan should make the offense less awful,” Dierkes writes. “Still, it’s likely Sabean will again be actively seeking run support for his top-notch pitching staff come the July trade deadline.
  • Looks like it’s coming down to Juan Pierre vs. Scott Podsednik for the final spot on the Phillies roster, writes Jonathan Nisula of Phillies Nation.
  • Photo of the week: Kansas City’s Everett Teaford and Tim Collins in Jonathan Broxton’s pants.

Feb 27

Coffey’s gamble on himself

Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com relates a great story about new Dodger reliever Todd Coffey:

… He didn’t look much like a major league ballplayer 14 years ago, either. That was when Coffey, then a 17-year-old who had just graduated from Forest City High School in North Carolina, was taken by the Cincinnati Reds in the 41st round of baseball’s amateur draft.

In those days, when a team maintained exclusive signing rights to all of its draft picks for 11 months, a common practice in the lower rounds was to take players as “draft-and-follows.” That meant drafting a player with no intention of signing him immediately and continuing to scout him as he played junior-college ball the following spring, then making a decision whether to sign him. If the team did sign him, it usually meant he was an “organizational” guy, there to fill out the roster of one minor league affiliate or another, with little to no chance of ever playing in the majors.

That was the way DeJon Watson, the Reds scouting director at the time, viewed Coffey.

“We liked his arm and his size,” said Watson, now the Dodgers’ assistant general manager in charge of player development. “He had some projection to play. But in our mind’s eye, he was a draft-and-follow. We wanted him to go to a juco.”

But there also was another draft rule in place then: you had to make at least a nominal, if half-hearted, offer to every player you drafted. So Watson authorized Steve Kring, the Reds’ area scout who had recommended Coffey, to offer Coffey something he was certain the big right-hander would turn down, a $1,000 bonus and an $850 monthly salary in the low minors.

But Coffey accepted it. …

* * *

  • Clip and save: Top 2014 MLB Free Agents, compiled by Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors. (If you can’t wait that long, here are some earlier posts related to 2013.)
  • Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus looks at what contracts top youngsters Mike Trout, Matt Moore and Bryce Harper would get if they were free agents.
  • Rafael Furcal was a top-five defensive shortstop last year, according to David Pinto of Baseball Musings and his probabilistic model of range (PMR) stats.
  • Charles P. Pierce of Grantland on steroids and baseball:

    … From its very beginnings, the “war” on performance-enhancing drugs in sports, and especially in baseball, has been legally questionable, morally incoherent, and recklessly dependent on collateral damage to make its point. Long ago, I went over to the purely libertarian position on this question simply because any other solution seemed to me to be incompatible with civil liberties and an equitable sharing of power in the workplace — and because every other “war” on drugs that I’d seen had been an enormous waste of time, money, and manpower.

    There always have seemed to me to be two main arguments against this position. The first is the question of the player’s health. This is not one to be dismissed lightly, even though, in almost every other context in professional sports, it is always secondary to profits in the mind of management. And the second, more hazy argument is that it is somehow unethical to ingest a substance that will make you play better. Too often, it seems, the former consideration is used to camouflage arguments based primarily on the latter.

    The health consideration is doomed to failure in the long run because, well, Science Marches On. Sooner or later, someone’s going to invent a substance that enhances performance without any risk to the athlete involved. The reason this will happen is because whoever invents the stuff is going to get wealthy beyond Warren Buffett’s wildest dreams. Eliminate the health-of-the-athlete fig leaf and all you’re left with is the moral and ethical argument and, on its own, that falls apart with the slightest nudge.

    Can someone seriously argue that it is ethical to take a drug to make a performance possible, but unethical to take a drug that makes that performance better? Isn’t making a performance possible at all the ultimate performance enhancement? If there had been a drug that would have given us five more seasons of Sandy Koufax at the top of his game, how would that have been a bad thing, everything else being equal? Sports are rife with drugs. Without drugs of one sort or another, the NFL season would never begin, and the baseball season would end sometime in June owing to a lack of participating teams. …

  • Learn how a 1955 San Bernardino gang fight sparked the creation of “West Side Story,” from the Press-Enterprise and the Times.
Feb 03

Dodgers to sign reliever Coffey

The Dodgers have signed runnin’ righty reliever Todd Coffey, pending a physical, to a one-year deal for $1.3 million, reports Dylan Hernandez of the Times.

The signing comes as a bit of a surprise, considering how full the Dodger bullpen seems even without counting on someone like Ronald Belisario. Los Angeles already has Javy Guerra, Kenley Jansen, Matt Guerrier, Josh Lindblom, Mike MacDougal, Blake Hawksworth (who is recovering from arthroscopic surgery) and Scott Elbert, as well as some promising arms in the minors.

The 31-year-old Coffey is better than the worst of that bunch, averaging 6.9 strikeouts per nine innings last year and 6.7 for his career. Opponents last year had a .305 on-base percentage and .351 slugging percentage against him. He stranded 29 of 36 inherited runners in 2011 (81 percent), a rate that was far better than he normally has. But he’s not so much better that I would see this as anything more as a move to add depth to the relief corps.

Update: Steve Slowinski of Fangraphs calls this signing “excellent,” with the important caveat that Coffey has wide platoon splits favoring him against right-handed batters. Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness also approves.