Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

What it means for the Dodgers if they land Manny Machado

Manny Machado’s career statistics (click to enlarge)

Vin Scully and Manny Machado, 2016
(New York Times)

The flame of Manny Machado is lighting the Dodger rumor mill on fire, as noted last week, and today has only fueled the speculation — though as always, you should note that nearly every rumor blows in with its own agenda.

But all the heavy petting still has me wondering about the domino effect of a Machado acquisition on a Dodger lineup that has so many moving parts.

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The better angels of our Twitter

I don’t write about politics on this site — one can argue whether I should or not, but that’s a different conversation.

This is a post about social media. It’s actually a post on a smaller aspect of larger issues surrounding social media that I’ve been pondering, but whatever … call it a snapshot.

Despite keeping politics away from Dodger Thoughts, I do tweet about politics, and also retweet people and stories I find relevant. At different times, I wonder if I do it too much or not enough.

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Eying trades, the 2018 Dodgers are at once NL favorites and World Series underdogs

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers (click to enlarge)

Nothing that happens at this year’s trade deadline will change the fact that the Dodgers are underdogs to win the World Series.

The Red Sox and Yankees are in a ferocious battle to win the American League East. Boston (66-30) has a chance to become the first major-league team to start a season 70-30 since the 2001 Mariners, and only needs to go 34-32 to win 100 games. Short of the Red Sox collapsing, New York (61-32) will probably need to finish with at least 105 wins to catch them. Both teams are really good.

Over in the AL West, the Astros (63-34) are on pace to win 105 games themselves. Seattle (58-37) has been keeping that division race interesting, and yet by losing six of their past nine games, the Mariners have opened the door for Oakland (53-42) to creep into the wild-card race. But you’d have to imagine a nearly impossible scenario where all three teams collapsed for the AL West champions not to finish comfortably above 95 wins.

And if the AL West champion then derailed the Red Sox and/or Yankees to reach the Fall Classic, you can bet that team would stand as Goliath to whoever comes out of the National League.

NL records for past two months, May 14-July 13

It might seem to contradict the premise of this piece, but it’s completely valid to suggest that today the Dodgers (52-42) are the best bet to be that NL opponent. Overall in 2018, they are one of six teams within three games of the best record in the NL. Their current 50-game run of 34-16 is the best the league has seen this year. For their past 54 games — one-third of the season — they are 3 1/2 games better than any other rival.

It’s easy to complain about what the Dodgers aren’t — injury-free for one, uncertain at second base and in the bullpen for another — but is worthwhile to remember what they are. Their nine position players with the most plate appearances each have above-average offensive stats, and the one who has been weighing them down the most, Logan Forsythe, has been benched.

On the mound, people are concerned to various degrees with Clayton Kershaw’s back, Rich Hill’s struggles, Ross Stripling turning into a pumpkin and a bullpen that isn’t as much “lights out” as it is “lights on dimmer.” I could go on. But I don’t think many people realize that despite these and other issues, the Dodgers have the NL’s No. 2 pitching staff in wins above replacement and No. 1 in ERA and fielding-independent pitching. I saw one person Friday on Twitter call Dodger pitching “shaky,” and all I can say is — even conceding that’s true — that only means that every other team’s pitching as shakier.

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Toles, Verdugo offer ready remedies for Puig injury

Josh Barber/Los Angeles Dodgers

It’s not as if the Dodgers must call up an outfielder if, as expected, Yasiel Puig goes on the disabled list with an oblique strain suffered Sunday. In addition to Matt Kemp and Joc Pederson, they have three infielders who play outfield in Chris Taylor, Kiké Hernandez and Cody Bellinger, and relocating Bellinger to center (with Kemp in right) would open up time for Max Muncy to play first base and give him a break from learning second base on the job.

But moving an infielder to the outfield would also force more playing time at second base for the likes of struggling Logan Forsythe (1 for 27 with two walks and 11 strikeouts since June 22) and Chase Utley, whereas you could hardly ask for better outfield candidates for the Dodgers to import from Oklahoma City than Andrew Toles and Alex Verdugo.

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What’s up, Dodger fans? Feats of strength and other notes …

Seventh-inning stretch at Dodger Stadium, Independence Day (click to enlarge)

When you’re out of the blogging groove but the ideas keep coming, the easy thing to do is just dish them off on Twitter. But tweets are like shooting stars, and sometimes you want a constellation. So here I am back at Dodger Thoughts to try to collect some thoughts.

Also, I’m convinced that tons of people bypass the intro to a column and to get straight at the meat, so let’s get right to it.

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The Most Roman Numerous Sequel Series in History: Kershaw CCC

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while, and this one will be quick. But I can’t let Kershaw CCC Day — celebrating the 300th career start by Clayton Kershaw — pass by without any fanfare at all.

Here’s what I wrote for Kershaw CCL:

It’s probably the least popular and least productive thing I’ve ever done with my life, though I wish it were the most humiliating.

But ever since Clayton Kershaw made his Major League debut, on May 25, 2008, I’ve pictured every subsequent start as if it were a sequel in a blockbuster movie series.

You just had that feeling about Kershaw, from the very beginning, that he was going to be epic.

The first sequel was Kershaw II: The Kershawing. And it went on from there. Mostly downhill.

Tonight, Kershaw reaches career start No. 250. To commemorate the event — and with deepest apologies — here’s the list of all the titles I’ve created.

So many of them are just awful, truly awful. Some, I really don’t know what I was thinking — even by my lowly standards. Some were repeats, with me having forgotten I had used a title already — sometimes within the same month.

But, what’s done is done, and what’s here is here. At least I haven’t cursed him. And I am happy with the quote I used to introduce him before his first big-league game.

Diane

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A modest proposal: 88 feet between the bases

Let me preface by saying that I’m not a baseball alarmist. I understand the concerns people have about the game, but I don’t think they rise to the need of emergency repair. So I’m not invested in this idea any more than I was when I suggested a couple years ago that baseball games might, on some far away day, go from nine to seven innings.

But it does occur to me that, for those who are concerned that baseball has become all about home runs and strikeouts, there is a pretty simple way to incentivize baserunning and putting the ball in play.

Change the distance between the bases from 90 feet to 88 feet.

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From bums to dreamers,
your 2018 Dodgers

Matt Kelley/MLB.com

Four weeks ago today, with two outs and two strikes in the top of the 12th inning, Arizona utilityman Daniel Descalso lifted a three-run home run over the right-field wall at Dodger Stadium. Minutes later, the Diamondbacks wrapped up their 24th victory in the first 35 games of the season, bolstering their position atop all teams in the National League and kicking sand in the face of the Dodgers, nine games behind.

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Entering the home stretch
for my moment in the sun

Me and four cool guys — Brent Knapp, Phil Gurnee, Craig Minami and Joe Bernardello — June 3 at Common Space Brewery!

Hopefully, folks will be purchasing copies of Brothers in Arms: Koufax, Kershaw, and the Dodgers’ Extraordinary Pitching Tradition until the end of time. But as far as its birth in the marketplace as a new release, we are close to finishing a spring full of promotion.

In fact, the last guaranteed event — perfectly timed for your Father’s Day needs — arrives at 2 p.m. June 9, with a signing and Q&A at Barnes and Noble in Burbank. I would love to see you come by and get your signed copy while getting a chance to chat about the book.

A day ago, several people came by to the Common Space Brewery signing, which was great fun. Brent Knapp (friend of Dodger Thoughts and True Blue L.A.) and his crew were terrific hosts — in fact, I really recommend you stop by Common Space any old time for beer and hanging out.

A final signing event is scheduled for June 18 at downtown’s The Last Bookstore, but that gathering is predicated on achieving a certain number of pre-sales. If you do want to come, let me know.

Heading into this big final stretch, I did a whirlwind of interviews last week, the most visible perhaps being my national TV appearance on MLB Network’s High Heat with Christopher Russo — and let me tell you, man, it was a hoot.

I also did radio hits on KPCC 89.3 FM’s AirTalk with Larry Mantle, and on AM 570’s Dodger pregame show with David Vassegh — I think both give you a nice taste for what’s in the book.

Finally last week, I stopped by the home office of the legendary Pantone 294, where I did a lengthy podcast in which I spoke with Álex Soto, Desiree García and Matt Barrero about my entire career leading up to Brothers in Arms. You can find the audio here, and I’ll add the video when it’s up.

This entire process, dating back to the first announcement of the book, has obviously felt more than a little self-indulgent, but I’m not above admitting I’ve gotten a kick out of it. (Ideally, it’s a good thing that I really enjoy talking about the book.) In any case, I truly thank everyone for indulging me through it all, and for your support.

Who will represent the 2018 Dodgers at the All-Star Game?

A year after they sent six players to the MLB All-Star Game, it’s more likely than not that the Dodgers will rely on the “every team gets a guy” rule simply to get one player to Washington D.C.

We still have nearly two months before the game is played (so you can question why I’m even writing about this right now), but if I were to make a prediction about who the 2018 Dodger All-Star will be, I might just pick a guy who has played in only seven games so far this year: Clayton Kershaw.

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Unhappy anniversary:
One month since the Dodgers’ last three-run homer

I’ve been tracking the Dodgers’ bizarre inability to hit a three-run home run for the past week, and in that time the problem has only grown worse.

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Presenting the heart-stopping, game-dropping, low-flying, win-defying, mental-lapsing, season-collapsing, legendary 2005 Los Angeles Dodgers

They are the touchstone for Dodger failure in the 21st century.

They are the team of Oscar Robles, Jason Repko and Norihiro Nakamura, of D.J. Houlton, Scott Erickson and Steve Schmoll. They are the team that inspired “The Losers (apostrophe optional) Dividend.”

They are also the team that stumbled so badly but with enough good timing to give the Dodgers a draft pick to use on an 18-year-old lefty from Highland Park High School in Texas named Clayton Kershaw.

They are, of course, the 2005 Dodgers, and 13 years after they shook out the bandwagoneers from the fan base, separating the weak from the chafed, they are surprisingly, almost shockingly relevant again today.

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The Bizarro Dodgers

Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers

On April 24, the Dodgers were …

  • 11-10 (.524), in second place in the NL West
  • winners of seven of their past eight games
  • leading the Marlins by one run in the eighth inning
  • putting Clayton Kershaw (2.45 ERA, 0.97 WHIP) on the mound the next day.

I did not see this coming. I didn’t see a lot of this coming. I didn’t see two 1-0 losses to the Giants to open the season, and just when things truly seemed to be falling into place, the white-uniformed cream rising toward the top, I definitely didn’t see 13 losses in 18 games coming — turning those 11-10 Dodgers into these 16-23 Dodgers.

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Interviews and a request: Leave an Amazon review
for Brothers in Arms

Hi everyone — I have two more Brothers in Arms interviews to share with you, each with old friends.

Remember that there are three upcoming booksigning events:

I’ll end this quick post with one request: If you have the book (and especially if you enjoyed it), it would really mean a lot if you could rate the book and leave a review at Amazon. It doesn’t have to be a long review —  even one sentence can make an important impact. I know it can be like doing homework, but I would truly appreciate it.

Thanks, and my goodness, let’s get the Dodgers winning again.

The Last Bookstore sets up June 18 Brothers in Arms event

Update: This event has been canceled

UPDATE: This event has been canceled

The Last Bookstore has offered to host what could be the last booksigning event for Brothers in Arms: Koufax, Kershaw, and the Dodgers’ Extraordinary Pitching Tradition — scheduled for 7 p.m. June 18.

I’m planning to do a Q&A on the main stage of the humongous store, located at 453 S. Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles, and sign books thereafter. Information about directions, parking and public transportation can be found here.

One caveat: The Last Bookstore asks for a certain number of people to commit to buying the book in advance, otherwise the event is subject to cancellation. So if you’re planning to come and buy a copy (for yourself or as a gift), please indicate as much by going to the Last Bookstore website and pre-purchasing the book. (Note: There’s an option to reserve a seat for an additional charge, but I don’t believe that will be necessary. Unless I hear otherwise, buying the book should be sufficient.)

The Dodgers will be out of town that night, so here’s a chance to catch up with some fellow fans at a great setting.

The Last Bookstore event is one of three remaining on the Brothers in Arms calendar, following June 3 at Common Space Brewery and June 9 at Barnes & Noble (Burbank).

Hope to see you!

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