Dodger Thoughts

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

Month: March 2014 (Page 2 of 6)

Stan Kasten and Dodgers disappointed in missing SportsNet LA deals but hopeful

Dodger president and CEO Stan Kasten addressing participants at the Dodgers' Winter Development Program in January.

Dodger president and CEO Stan Kasten addressing participants at the Dodgers’ Winter Development Program in January.

By Jon Weisman

While saying that he expected the start of the Major League season in the U.S. to be a catalyst for holdout distributors to carry SportsNet LA, the 24/7 network dedicated to the Dodgers, team president and CEO Stan Kasten didn’t shrug off the fact that deals had yet to be completed.

“I am disappointed that deals haven’t been closed yet,” Kasten told a small group of reporters before Thursday’s Freeway Series game against the Angels, the first game at Dodger Stadium in 2014.  “I also have to tell you that with the first regular season game (to be broadcast by SportsNet LA) coming on Tuesday, I am now concerned that some fans are not going to be able to see games. And that’s disappointing and shouldn’t be happening.”

Kasten reiterated the suggestion for fans to keep calling their providers to tell them that they want SportsNet LA and that without it, they would switch to a provider who would carry the network. But he again held out hope that with continuous fan support there would be movement – because ultimately every carrier has reason to want SportsNet LA to meet the demand.

“I just wish they would hurry up and get them done,” he said.

Though Time Warner Cable’s reported asking price for carriage of SportsNet LA has become a talking point in the media, Kasten said that it has been exaggerated.

“This is not about price,” Kasten said. “The price is consistent with the marketplace. In fact, to be blunt, some of these (distributors), and they know who they are, are already, on their own systems, paying more than the price that’s out there to teams in smaller markets. That’s the truth. So this isn’t about price, it’s about the game of negotiation. And it’s disappointing.

“Those same providers have done deals at higher prices, for bigger packages, than has been offered to them right now.”

Kasten found other aspects of the public posturing by potential distributors to be “disingenuous,” such as the suggestion that SportsNet LA should be offered “a la carte,” along the lines of a pricy individual pay channel such as HBO, rather than to all of a distributor’s customers the way an ESPN is.

“All these providers know there is not another team in all of baseball whose games are a la carte, anywhere,” Kasten said, “including, interestingly enough, on the cable systems owned by these same providers.”

“The other thing that’s particularly irritating in terms of disingenuous rhetoric is when someone tries to say, ‘Well, we’re not really seeing the demand for Dodger games.’ OK, that doesn’t pass the laugh test.”

Kasten had noted earlier than the evening that the Dodgers would reach 3 million in ticket sales before the April 4 home opener, the earliest date in franchise history.

“We have the highest number of season tickets we’ve ever had — it is the highest in all of Major League Baseball,” Kasten added. “Last year, our TV rating went up by 40%. So come up with some other excuse, because the reality is that in the history of this franchise, it is likely that right now, it’s the greatest interest our team has ever had.”

For Dodger fans understandably frustrated by the process, Kasten commented upon the importance of the deal to the organization being run as a big-market team and being able to do big-market things, from investment in players to the ongoing improvements at Dodger Stadium, none of which benefited from public funding.

“I don’t know what will happen here,” Kasten said. “I will say this — very few cities have a product this strong.”

Video: Hanley Ramirez nearly hits one into the Think Blue BBQ

[mlbvideo id=”31692143″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

By Jon Weisman

Watch the video above. Hanley Ramirez hits one about eight rows from the back of the left-field bleachers.

In the screen shot below (click to enlarge), it’s the white speck in between State Farm and @Dodgers.

Screen shot 2014-03-27 at 9.01.40 PM

Picture the scene from “Animal House” where Boon hooks a golf ball into the cafeteria soup. We almost had a similar moment with the sauce at the Think Blue BBQ.

Screen shot 2014-03-27 at 8.57.44 PM

It was Ramirez’s second home run of the night.

March 27 pregame: Dodgers to break 3 million in ticket sales before home opener

Angels at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Yasiel Puig, RF
Carl Crawford, LF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Juan Uribe, 3B
Andre Ethier, CF
Justin Turner, 2B
A.J. Ellis, C
Zack Greinke, P

By Jon Weisman

Tonight, the Dodgers announced that for the first time in franchise history, they will have sold 3 million tickets before the home Opening Day.

Sales of year-long season tickets ended up approaching the 35,000 mark. The extra season seats came out of what would have been day-of-game sales.

* * *

Alex Guerrero, who was optioned by the Dodgers to the minors but was expected to play in the Freeway Series, will be sidelined indefinitely with a pulled muscle in his side.

In case you missed it: Put your hands in the air


By Jon Weisman

There’s many more images from Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting of the outfield plazas and subsequent team workout, thanks to Jon SooHoo and his LA Photog Blog.

In other news …

  • Though he is missing his start Sunday, Clayton Kershaw is a candidate to start the home opener April 4, according to Ken Gurnick of Kershaw said he “didn’t think” the flight to Australia “had anything to do with” his injury.
  • Carl Crawford and Brandon League arrived Wednesday from Arizona, Gurnick reports.
  • MLB’s At the Ballpark app has been updated — read about all the many virtues at
  • Here’s a different app you might find fun: No-Hitter Alerts (via David Pinto of Baseball Musings).
  • Former Dodger shortstop Rafael Furcal, aiming to come back at age 36 from Tommy John surgery that forced him out of action in 2013, will start the season on the Marlins’ disabled list — with a strained hamstring.
  • Randy Wolf is the latest former Dodger to get a Spring Training release, though his departure from Seattle came under quite unusual circumstances.
  • The 1961 Union Oil Family Booklet perspective on Johnny Podres is at Ernest Reyes’ Blue Heaven.
  • Charley Steiner talked to Gurnick about the coming year.
  • A.J. Ellis has joined in the Strike Out Cancer effort, writes Gurnick.
  • Tale a peek at MLB’s new state-of-the-art instant replay center, via Paul Hagen’s piece at More on the new instant replay from Will Leitch at Sports on Earth and Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.
  • Video surfaced of what happens to be the first game of Lou Gehrig’s consecutive-game streak. The featured subject of the video is Babe Ruth, who twists in the batter’s box like a precursor to Juan Uribe.

Metrolink to Freeway Series: $7 round trip

Rail_Series_2014By Jon Weisman

Some public transportation notes for the Freeway Series games at Dodger Stadium:

  • Fans can take Metrolink train 609 or 689 for just $7 round trip tonight and Friday on the Orange County Line. A special late-night train departing L.A. Union Station heading back to Orange County will depart one hour after the last pitch.
  • Fans arriving by Metrolink to L.A. Union Station can ride the Dodger Stadium Express from Bus Bay 3 at the Patsauorus Transit Plaza to the stadium for free by showing their Dodger game ticket. Last year more than 186,000 fans took the Dodger Stadium Express to the Dodger games.
  • Rail Series special trains will be offered again on August 4 and 5 for the regular-season interleague games against the Angels at Dodger Stadium.
  • For more information about transport to the Freeway Series games, go to
  • For more general Metrolink information as it relates to the Dodgers, go here.

Parking for the games tonight and Friday at Dodger Stadium starts at $10. Remember, beginning with regular season games on April 4, general parking will start at $10 if you prepay in advance.

One more note: Stadium Way Gate B will not be open for the two exhibition games. The Dodgers are working to distribute resident-only placards for use on game days, which will be available on Monday and Tuesday. All gates will be open on Opening Day.

Kershaw to miss Sunday start

By Jon Weisman

From the Dodgers public relations department:

“This morning in Los Angeles, Clayton Kershaw underwent a MRI of his left upper back that showed inflammation of the Teres Major muscle. This was a result of complaints of tightness while throwing yesterday at the workout. He will be held out of his start on Sunday. His next start will be determined by his progress with his throwing during the next week.”

What time is it? Time for a new Dodger Stadium clock and more …

By Jon Weisman

Ever since I saw the initial design, I’ve gotten a kick out of this clock. And now, it’s a reality, in the plaza behind left field.

Read More

Dodger Pride Rewards Program announced

RewardsBy Michelle Rubin

The Dodgers are introducing the new Dodger Pride Rewards Program in 2014, available to season-ticket holders and premium seating mini-plan holders who have purchased a minimum of 10 games.

The program aims to reward the Dodgers’ most loyal fans for what they already do: attending games and using their tickets. The new loyalty card is an enhancement of the previously used MVP card (merchandise discount, early entrance, vertical access in Dodger Stadium) — as well as new opportunities and experiences.

Cardholders will now be able to receive special offers and discounts from the Dodgers and Dodger partners, as well as the chance to win Dodger prizes and experiences. The array of potential rewards includes autographed baseballs, seat upgrades and the chance to throw out a first pitch.

In addition to the new card, primary account holders will also have access to the Dodger Pride Rewards portal. The dynamic portal will house their special offers, as well as up-to-date game information and announcements. Participants can access the portal via their My Dodgers Tickets site or via Eligible fans who are the primary account holder are automatically enrolled in the program.

“It was very important to us to develop a program that demonstrates to our season-seat holders we appreciate their loyalty,” said Dodger executive vice president and chief marketing officer Lon Rosen. “Dodger Pride Rewards offers incentives to our season seat holders that have not been offered in this manner before to Dodger fans.”

Seth Rosin, Javy Guerra no longer Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Seth Rosin is now a Texas Ranger and Javy Guerra is now a member of the Chicago White Sox, with each organization having claimed the pitchers on waivers from the Dodgers.

Guerra was designated for assignment by the Dodgers on March 16, and the 10-day window for the Dodgers to make a move with him expired today.

Rosin, as we’ve discussed throughout Spring Training, had a potential expiration date as a Dodger all along. He was a Rule 5 draftee by the New York Mets from Philadelphia who was then traded to Los Angeles. He had to remain on the Dodgers’ active roster all season or risk being sent back to the Phillies. Forced to make a decision on Rosin because of an overflow of arms in the bullpen, the Dodgers placed him on waivers, where Texas picked him up.

Relief pitchers remaining on the Dodgers’ active roster are Jose Dominguez, J.P. Howell, Kenley Jansen, Brandon League, Chris Perez, Paco Rodriguez, Brian Wilson, Chris Withrow and Jamey Wright. The Dodgers will need to trim at least one more name before the domestic opener Sunday at San Diego.

Seth Rosin focuses amid uncertainty

Bullpen coach Chuck Crim watches Seth Rosin on Tuesday.

Bullpen coach Chuck Crim watches Seth Rosin on Tuesday.

By Jon Weisman

It’s coming down to the wire for Seth Rosin, though there’s always the possibility of the wire inching forward.

In other words, a roster decision will have to be made by Sunday afternoon on the 6-foot-6 righthander — unless it doesn’t.

The Dodgers can’t send Rosin to the minors, so when they trim the active roster to 25 players, they will have to carve out a slot for him, make a separate deal with the Philadelphia Phillies to keep him, or lose him. A late trip to the disabled list by a fellow pitcher could buy some time, but that’s an if-and-when.

That leaves a lot to swirl around in the 26-year-old’s head, but checking in with Rosin before Tuesday’s workout, his head seemed to be in the right place.

“I was talking with my good buddy Eric Decker, who was one of my roommates in college, and he said, ‘All you can do is work really hard,'” Rosin said. “Working really hard and busting your butt kind of takes the pressure away. So I’m kind of taking that approach this whole spring, and it’s been working so far.”

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind for Rosin, who was born 13 days after the Dodgers won their last World Series in 1988. The success he’s had this spring (1.64 ERA, 12 strikeouts against 13 baserunners in 11 innings) would be enough to get anyone excited, but it has come while he’s been in the process of transforming his pitching approach.

Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt counsels Rosin.

Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt counsels Rosin.

“Just the timing with my delivery and incorporating my lower half and having a good strong front side — just a lot of the things that pitchers work on,” he said. “I’m just kind of totally reinventing myself with my mechanics this spring, so I’m just going to keep going about that. I think I’m a pretty good listener and pretty coachable, so I’m just trying to take in every piece of knowledge and trying to be a sponge this spring and it’s been helping.

“I know I’m not a finished product, and the coaches will attest to that as well. I’m still working on a couple things that I know once I master those parts, then I think I’ll really be something special. I’m just going to keep going about it every day, and working with (Rick) Honeycutt and (Chuck) Crim and all the other pitchers, just keep working hard.”

Though he appeared in the Thursday exhibition against Team Australia, Rosin was the only pitcher on the 25-man active roster for the first two official games against Arizona that didn’t enter either game, but Rosin is practicing patience.

“I’m just happy that we started off 2-0,” he said. “Yeah, I was looking forward to getting my debut, but hopefully I’ll get a shot this weekend in these exhibition games and hopefully I’ll stick around for games after that. We’ll just have to see. This week’s going to determine a lot for me, so I’m just gonna have to keep working hard and go about my business.”

Rosin knows that however long it takes him to get in to his first Major League game — whenever and wherever that might be — he can’t afford not to be ready.

“There aren’t excuses in this game,” Rosin said. “You’ve got to perform when your name is called, and that’s what I’m going to do my best to do.





In case you missed it: Oh Captain, my Captain

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Arizona Diamondbacks
By Jon Weisman

While Matt Kemp could be activated in time for the Dodgers’ home opener April 4, it’s not clear when Hyun-Jin Ryu will next pitch.

Ryu injured his right Captain of the Toes on the play pictured above, making a sudden stop at third base on Dee Gordon’s double. As Ken Gurnick of reports, Ryu would slot in for the third game of the San Diego series April 2 (after Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke), but that start could go to Dan Haren or Paul Maholm.

Kemp, meanwhile, has had no setbacks, Gurnick reports, and is playing six innings a game now in minor-league affairs. The Dodgers just want to make sure he’s completely confident before activating him.

More from Gurnick:

The Dodgers will play a simulated game at Dodger Stadium, on Wednesday. Mattingly said it will last four or five innings, and it is mostly being held to keep the relievers sharp. He said his regulars will average three or four at-bats in the first two Freeway Series games Thursday and Friday, but they will back off in Saturday night’s game because the season resumes Sunday night in San Diego.

Elsewhere …

  • A.J. Ellis is working on pitch framing, he explains in an interview with Mike Petriello for Fangraphs.
  • At Blue Heaven, Ernest Reyes has this discovery about long-ago Dodger reliever Ron Perranoski:”If Ron Perranoski were not a newspaper reader, he might have taken weeks to find out that the Cubs had dealt him to the Dodgers.  He was in the army then, and read about it in the sports page.  Nobody had told him.”
  • Reggie Smith hung a “Gone Fishin'” sign just before a 1980 MLB labor stoppage was averted — see it at the Times’ Framework blog.
  • Former Dodger reliever Matt Guerrier has had an interesting transactional week, as MLB Trade Rumors notes.
  • Former Dodger infielder Jamey Carroll was released by Washington.

Walks don’t stop for Chone Figgins

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Chicago White Sox

By Jon Weisman

On his mission to reestablish his reputation as a hitter after an unfulfilling journey to Seattle and then a year out of Major League Baseball, Chone Figgins keeps drawing walks.

Despite hitting .167 in Cactus League play, the 36-year-old Figgins led the Dodgers with nine walks — drawing one in nearly 20 percent of his plate appearances, to improve his on-base percentage to .326 — then followed things up with a six-pitch walk in his only official plate appearance in Australia.

In his 11-year MLB career, Figgins has all of 35 homers and a .364 slugging percentage, compared with 337 steals that have made him a threat every time he reaches base, so it’s not as if pitchers don’t have an incentive to challenge him — especially in Spring Training. Nevertheless, like such Dodgers of the past as Brett Butler and Jamey Carroll, a lack of power hasn’t stopped him from drawing ball four.

Figgins averaged 58 walks per season for the Angels from 2004-08, then soared to an American League-leading 101 in 2009, a year he had seven triples and five home runs. Even in Seattle, where hits were at a premium for him, he was routinely able to increase his on-base percentage noticeably.

How does he do it?

“I’ve always been a guy who’s seen pitches, but it’s not that I’m trying to see pitches just to walk,” Figgins said. “I’m more looking in a zone, and if I don’t think it’s in that zone, then I take it. I’m not afraid to hit with two strikes. I’m not trying to hit with two strikes, but I’m not afraid.”

Often, he noted, the situation dictates the approach, and that includes taking strikes — but again, not just for the sake of taking pitches.

“If there’s a guy at first,” Figgins said, “and I may be trying to hook the ball in the hole, there’s certain pitches I can’t do it with. … I’m looking for a certain pitch to be able to get in the hole.

“I’m trying to make sure I stay within myself. It’s more I give myself a higher percentage (chance) to hit the ball hard. If I’m chasing the ball out of the zone, I’m lowering my percentage.”

With two strikes, he has to be more flexible, but there’s still pressure on a pitcher to execute.

“If it’s a 2-2 (pitch), and I know the guy has a nasty split, I’m thinking, ‘You know what, he might throw a split, but make sure it’s up.’ Make sure everything’s up in the zone with two strikes, that way it gives you a better chance to make contact.”

Figgins’ defensive versatility is his obvious calling card, but while no one’s expecting him to win a batting title, it’s this ability to manufacture trips to first base that could be key to his staying power with the Dodgers.

Dodgers option Alex Guerrero

By Jon Weisman

To accommodate Carl Crawford’s return from paternity leave, the Dodgers have as expected optioned Alex Guerrero, to Triple-A Albuquerque.

The Dodgers’ 2014 Yearbook: Special Vin Scully edition

2014 yearbook cover

By Jon Weisman

The Los Angeles Dodgers 2014 Yearbook is a special 65th anniversary commemorative edition dedicated to Vin Scully. And you have to get it.

Not just because Vin Scully is on the cover, though that might be reason enough. But because we also celebrate the legendary broadcaster with an unprecedented 21-page section entirely in Scully’s words, discussing his life and career at length, taken from a one-on-one interview conducted in January.

Among the topics Scully discusses are his childhood and adolescence, his ascension to the broadcast booth, his move to Los Angeles and his thoughts about such players as Sandy Koufax, Fernando Valenzuela, Clayton Kershaw and Yasiel Puig. The interview is punctuated by personal reflections by Scully looking back through time.

The 2014 Yearbook is more than a collectors item — it’s something to cherish.

Beyond Scully, the Yearbook also features as a nice month-by-month review of the Dodgers’ 2013 season and a detailed look at the 2014 roster, as well as information about the team’s community efforts, minor-league talent and Dodger Stadium improvements.

The Yearbook is schedule to be on sale at Dodger Stadium beginning this week during the Freeway Series, and print copies can also be ordered here at the Dodger Insider magazine page. The Yearbook is free with a subscription to the print edition of Dodger Insider magazine.

It’s ready


The grass at Dodger Stadium, 9:15 a.m.

— Jon Weisman

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