Dodger Thoughts

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

Month: October 2014 (Page 1 of 4)

‘Think Blue Review’ keeps Dodgers in sight

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Don’t miss “Think Blue Review,” your weekly video window into the Dodgers’ offseason world. This week’s version, which includes a showcase of the Dodgers’ four Gold Glove finalists, is hot off the online presses, while previous editions can be found at this link.

— Jon Weisman

For what it’s worth, Dodgers No. 1 in ESPN Future Power Rankings

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By Jon Weisman

Not that it means anything, but the Dodgers are winners of a kind.

Twice a year, in a forward-looking gaze, ranks all 30 Major League teams “in an attempt to measure how well each team is set up for sustained success over the next five years.” In the newest rankings, the Dodgers are No. 1.

It’s a nice reflection of the building strength of the organization and a reminder that, despite the disappointment of the past month, that all is not lost. But it’s admittedly an ephemeral honor.

After all, when debuted its Future Power Rankings in February 2012, the Dodgers were saddled with the 19th spot, so the site wasn’t exactly effective in predicting how the Dodgers would perform over the next three seasons, let alone five. In fact, even that unimpressive ranking was called “a leap of faith,” despite the promise of an impending ownership change.

At the time, under the Dodger Thoughts headline “Changes in MLB come too fast for long-term predictions,” I called the whole thing “folly”  …

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Dan Haren confirms return for 2015

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Right-handed pitcher Dan Haren has exercised his option to play for the Dodgers in 2015.

Haren had a 4.02 ERA and 4.09 FIP with the Dodgers in 2014, striking out 145 batters in 186 innings while allowing 222 baserunners. In his final 10 starts of the 2014 season, Haren had a 2.43 ERA with 50 strikeouts in 59 1/3 innings. He turned 34 in September.

His best start came June 30 against Cleveland, when he allowed two baserunners in seven shutout innings on the night the Dodgers moved into first place in the National League West after a 9 1/2-game deficit.

— Jon Weisman

Kershaw, Puig lead as Dodgers grab 15 GIBBY noms

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By Jon Weisman

The GIBBY Awards aren’t named after Kirk Gibson specifically, though the awkwardness of the full name — Greatness in Baseball Yearly — suggests a determined attempt to arrive at that acronym. In any case, the Dodgers are nominated for several in 2014, and you can vote online through November 7. (Winners will be announced December 6.)

San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles DodgersClayton Kershaw and Yasiel Puig were each nominated in three categories. Here is your full list of Dodger nominees:

  • MLB MVP: Kershaw
  • Starting pitcher: Kershaw
  • Closer: Kenley Jansen
  • Bounceback player: Matt Kemp
  • Manager: Don Mattingly
  • Play: Puig’s double play, July 5 at Colorado
  • Outfield throw: Puig, September 22 vs. San Francisco
  • Moment: Vin Scully announces his return for 2015, July 29
  • Hitting performance: Dee Gordon 5 for 6 with three steals, May 3 at Miami
  • Hitting performance: Puig, 4 for 4 with three triples, July 25 at San Francisco
  • Pitching performance: Josh Beckett no-hitter, May 25 at Philadelphia
  • Pitching performance: Kershaw no-hitter, June 18 vs. Colorado
  • Oddity: Dodgers’ defensive wall, August 29 at San Diego
  • Walkoff: Hanley Ramirez’s 12th-inning homer, August 2 vs. Chicago
  • Cut4 topic: Mo’ne Davis at Dodger Stadium

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The consolation prize: Why the World Series matters most, but the regular season still matters

San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Now that Madison Bumgarner has gone full Hershiser and then some, now that the San Francisco Giants have a well-earned dynasty of three World Series titles in five years, now that history has recorded this all in fresh ink, I’ve reached the stage of acceptance with the 2014 season.

But I am left with a sincere question …

Clayton Kershaw will win the National League Cy Young Award and maybe the MVP, the Dodgers won the NL West, and all anyone will say this winter is how they are inferior to Bumgarner and the Giants. I’m not denying people the right to say it.

But if winning the World Series is all that matters, and what you do in the regular season matters not at all if you win the World Series, and if how you finish in the regular season gives no hint about whether you’re going to win the World Series, then why worry about what is happening during the regular season?

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Dodgers set Los Angeles record in BABIP … what happens next year?

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Yasiel Puig had a .356 BABIP despite declining from 2013. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Were they feeling lucky?

The Dodgers had a team batting average on balls in play of .318, which was third in the Majors but the franchise’s highest in 84 seasons, since the Brooklyn Robins had a .321 BABIP in 1930.

In general, the Dodgers’ BABIP has trended upward in recent years, thanks in part no doubt to strikeouts becoming a larger percentage of outs. It was a different story, for example, in the 1960s, when the Dodgers’ BABIP bottomed out at .266 in 1967 and .268 in 1968.

The oddity is that several prominent Dodgers underperformed their recent or career BABIP marks in 2014 …

BABIP chart

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Time and urgency, winning and losing


By Jon Weisman

Somewhere right now, someone is driving a car and texting about the horrors of ebola.

But let me get back to that …

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Corey Seager an AFL Fall-Star

By Jon Weisman

Dodger prospect Corey Seager has been named to the West Division roster for the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game, taking place at 5 p.m. Saturday.

Scouting and farm directors from every Major League organization, in consultation with Arizona Fall League director Steve Cobb and his baseball personnel staff, made the selections. The game will air on MLB Network and

Playing shortstop, the 20-year-old Seager has a .345 on-base percentage and .412 slugging percentage in 13 games.

Jimmy Sheckard, the Yasiel Puig of 1901 (sort of, but just enough to make the headline work)

SheckardBy Jon Weisman

You might have heard Jimmy Sheckard’s name once or twice this summer, and even so, if you’re a Dodger fan under the age of 120, it was quite possibly the first time you ever heard it.

Largely forgotten among Brooklyn stars of the past, Sheckard hit three triples for the Superbas in one game on Opening Day 1901 at age 22, a feat that went unmatched until 23-year-old Yasiel Puig did so against the Giants on July 25.

That 1901 season was Sheckard’s best in a career that had more than a few highlights. Sheckard led the National League with 19 triples and a .534 slugging percentage, while finishing second in home runs (11) and total bases (296), third in batting average (.354) and OPS (.944), tied for third in RBI (104), fifth in runs (116), sixth in on-base percentage (.409) and stolen bases (35), seventh in doubles (29). In September, Sheckard also became the only player ever to hit inside-the-park grand slams in consecutive games.

Sheckard also had a run-in with an ump that surpasses any mess Puig has gotten into, according to Baseball

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Gold Glove finalist Uribe best pick to win prize

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Arizona DiamondbacksBy Jon Weisman

This should be the year of the Uribear.

Adrian Gonzalez, Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, Juan Uribe and Zack were named finalists for the Rawlings Gold Glove Awards, with winners to be announced November 4.

Each position has three finalists. Greinke and Kershaw are up against Adam Wainwright of St. Louis for the NL pitcher Gold Glove. Gonzalez is against Adam LaRoche of Washington and Justin Morneau of Colorado, while Uribe has competition from Nolan Arenado of the Rockies and Pablo Sandoval of San Francisco.

Going strictly by advanced stats, Uribe would be the Dodgers’ top candidate. Despite a couple of injury issues this year, Uribe dominated NL third basemen statistically. (Click chart to enlarge.)


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Double dose of Jackie Robinson Day celebrations in 2015

Magic Johnson, Matt Kemp and Rachel Robinson at Dodger Stadium on April 15, 2013. (Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Magic Johnson, Matt Kemp and Rachel Robinson at Dodger Stadium on April 15, 2013.
(Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

A scheduling quirk put the Dodgers on the road for Jackie Robinson Day earlier this year, but next April 15, Dodger Stadium will be back in the familiar position of hosting the celebration of No. 42.

That night, the Dodgers will be taking on the Seattle Mariners, not to mention second baseman Robinson Cano, who was named after the Dodger legend.

In addition, Historic Dodgertown at Vero Beach will host the second annual Jackie Robinson Celebration Game, between the Florida State League’s St. Lucie Mets and Brevard County Manatees.

— Jon Weisman

Latest honor for Kershaw: Sporting News Player of the Year

Two days after Baseball America named him 2014 Player of the Year, Clayton Kershaw has received the same honor from the Sporting News.

In a close vote from more then 220 MLB players, Kershaw edged out the Angels’ Mike Trout, 76 to 73.

— Jon Weisman

How Dee Gordon made things shake in 2014

Despite a second-half decline in walks, Dee Gordon finished 2014 with career highs in on-base percentage and OPS, and a career low in pitches chased outside the strike zone. (Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Gordon, Kershaw named Sporting News NL All-Stars

Not only did Dodger starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw make the Sporting News’ National League All-Star team, but second baseman Dee Gordon did as well.

Gordon topped runners-up Neil Walker of the Pirates, Daniel Murphy of the Mets and Chase Utley of the Phillies in a vote by baseball executives. Kershaw was a unanimous choice.

By Cary Osborne

Last year in October, Dee Gordon was on the Dodgers’ postseason roster, but practically in name only. He played in two games, both as a pinch-runner. Gordon was in the playoffs because he was fast — and only because he was fast.

This year, Gordon was still fast, but he also became much, much more. But as Gordon will tell you, that development, however ironically, was a long, slow process.

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Dodgers Adult Baseball Camp is less than three weeks away

Chan Ho Park throwing the first pitch at Dodger Stadium in May. (Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Chan Ho Park throwing the first pitch at Dodger Stadium in May. (Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Chan Ho Park, Jerry Reuss and Ken Landreaux have joined the team of Dodger legends serving as instructors at the 53rd Los Angeles Dodgers Adult Baseball Camp at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, from November 9-15.

Park, Reuss and Landreaux will join such previously announced instructors as Ron Cey, Tommy Davis, Steve Garvey, Mickey Hatcher, Rick Monday, Maury Wills and Steve Yeager. Tommy Lasorda and former National League umpire Bruce Froemming are also set to be guest instructors. Former Dodger scout Guy Wellman has returned as camp coordinator, a position he has held dating back to 1983.

“We are looking forward to providing a unique experience for those campers in attendance in November,” said Historic Dodgertown chairman and former Dodger owner Peter O’Malley. “With our latest additions of popular Dodgers Chan Ho Park, Jerry Reuss and Ken Landreaux, this will only enhance the camaraderie, storytelling and instruction for the participants, making this camp the best one ever. It is advisable for those who are considering signing up to do so now.”

Why sign up? Well, read on …

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Did Dodgers win the WAR last offseason?

Los Angeles Dodgers vs San Diego Padres

By Jon Weisman

For entertainment purposes, I’m about to oversimplify something that’s far more complex than how I’m presenting it.

Nevertheless, I was curious what the Dodgers gained and lost in wins above replacement (WAR) from their moves during the 2013-14 offseason. And putting all other considerations aide, the scales almost balanced.

The Dodgers received 2.1 WAR from their 2014 additions, according to Fangraphs, while those who left the team after the 2013 season produced 1.8 WAR with their new clubs.

The big weight on the scale was Justin Turner, who delivered 3.2 WAR all by himself. Chone Figgins (0.6) was also useful in his abbreviated tenure. They more than made up for the departures of Elian Herrera, Nick Punto, Justin Sellers, Mark Ellis and Skip Schumacher.

The biggest loss for the Dodgers in WAR was Ricky Nolasco (1.2), who had a 5.38 ERA and 4.30 FIP in the first year of his four-year deal with Minnesota. Edinson Volquez (0.7), who signed a one-year deal with Pittsburgh, was more of a bargain, though not as much as his 3.04 ERA might suggest.

In the bullpen, Ronald Belisario, Javy Guerra and Shawn Tolleson combined for 0.8 WAR, which isn’t much but proved better than what Chris Perez (-0.8) delivered.

Seth Rosin never pitched in a game for the Dodgers after being acquired on the day of the Rule 5 draft, but I included him here as someone they had and then let go.

Among the 2013 Dodgers who didn’t play in the big leagues in 2014: Nick Buss, Jerry Hairston Jr., Peter Molyan and Michael Young.

Obviously, there are long-term issues, both coming and going, that I’m ignoring in this post, which is completely focused on the past season. Nor does it take into account salary, or 2013 free agents who returned to Los Angeles. But if you’re curious, here are the numbers …

WAR offseason



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