Dodger Thoughts

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

Month: November 2015 (Page 1 of 3)

Who was the Dodgers’ Kobe?

Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant at Dodger Stadium, July 31, 2013. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant at Dodger Stadium, July 31, 2013. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

It’s hard to be a sports fan in Los Angeles and not be affected by the end of Kobe Bryant’s career. Twenty seasons in a Los Angeles uniform? For one attempt at perspective, here’s the Dodger starting lineup on June 26, 1996, the day the 17-year-old Bryant was drafted.

Delino DeShields, 2B
Roger Cedeno, LF
Mike Piazza, C
Eric Karros, 1B
Raul Mondesi, RF
Mike Blowers, 3B
Todd Hollandsworth, CF
Greg Gagne, SS
Tom Candiotti, P

Candiotti, the starting pitcher that day, is now 58 years old.

On the way to work this morning, I asked myself who would be the Dodgers’ closest equivalent to Bryant, a spectacular, championship-winning (future) Hall of Famer who wore only one team’s uniform (albeit with two numbers). It won’t surprise you that there’s no exact match, but I do think there’s a closer one than you might realize.

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Single-game Spring Training tickets now available

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

You can now purchase tickets for individual Dodger Spring Training games taking place at Camelback Ranch in 2016. And from now until December 6, you can save $3 per seat by entering the code “TEAM” when you click here and purchase.

For more information, visit

Previously: Dodgers unveil 2016 Spring Training schedule.

— Jon Weisman

New and familiar faces on Baseball America’s top 10 Dodger prospects for ’16

top 10

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Baseball America’s annual ranking of Dodger prospects actually comes early this year — the 2015 rankings were published 10 months ago — and comes with five names that weren’t on the preseason 2015 list.

Joc Pederson graduated from prospect status, but Corey Seager remains a rookie despite his impressive September debut, allowing the Dodger infielder a second consecutive year in the No. 1 slot. Julio Urias moves up a spot accordingly to No. 2, while right-hadner Jose De Leon leapfrogs into the No. 3 spot.

The top newcomer on this year’s list is infielder Jose Peraza, acquired from Atlanta in the big July 30 deal. “Peraza lacks a high ceiling,” Baseball America’s Ben Badler writes, “but his bat-to-ball skills and wheels should make him a steady player in the middle of the diamond.” In the list of best tools in the Dodger minor leagues, Peraza is called the organization’s top athlete.

Making the biggest leap internally is first baseman-outfielder Cody Bellinger, who skipped Great Lakes after hitting three homers with Rookie League Ogden in 2014 and hit 30 for High-A Rancho Cucamonga in 2015. The 20-year-old is also labeled the best power hitter in the system.

“Bellinger used to gear his swing for line drives, but he made a mechanical adjustment in 2015 to put his body in a better position to create torque,” Badler wrote in his analysis. “Toward the end of 2015, he began to study heat maps to understand his own strengths and weaknesses, and he condensed his trigger slightly.”

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Dave Roberts and the Newlywed Game

Dave Roberts at a Dodger Stadium computer in 2004. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Dave Roberts at a Dodger Stadium computer in 2004. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Welcome to Dave Roberts’ honeymoon with Dodger fans and the media.

The new Dodger manager hasn’t been asked a question, hasn’t made a move. His rose is in full bloom.

But it takes two to be happy in a marriage, and let’s just say that Roberts’ collective new spouse — after 27 years of frustration — can be a bit challenging to keep satisfied.

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Blue Friday sale and autographs at Dodger Stadium

Store panorama 11-25-15

By Jon Weisman

Justin Turner and the Dodgers will kick off the holiday shopping season with a Blue Friday sale and autographs at the Top of the Park store, the day after Thanksgiving.

Fans will enjoy up to 30 percent off merchandise, with Dodger Pride rewards card members also receiving an additional discount. In addition, the Dodgers’ ticket sales staff will be on hand to sign fans up for 2016 mini plans, which include opportunities to get tickets for the just-announced promotional dates.

Here’s the upcoming autograph schedule at Top of the Park:

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Chia whiz: An early look at 2016 Dodger promotions

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

If a Justin Turner Chia Pet and a Vin Scully T-shirt don’t sound like two of the greatest promotions ever, I might be speaking to the wrong crowd.

But for the right-thinking people among you, this April 30 giveaway is one of many highlights of the Dodgers’ 2016 preliminary promotion schedule.

New giveaways for next year also include a neck pillow, license plate frame, Father’s Day Dodger boxers, kids’ locker nameplate and socks.

New manager Dave Roberts, Don Newcombe, Dusty Baker and Clayton Kershaw will be among 2016’s 10 bobbleheads, along with one saluting 1981 World Series tri-Most Valuable Players Ron Cey, Pedro Guerrero and Steve Yeager.

In addition, the 10-date Collectors Pin Series will spotlight on the Dodgers’ 10 retired numbers, and Magic Johnson takes over for Tommy Lasorda as this year’s giveaway gnome.

The Dodgers are also announcing two new mini-plan options for 2016 with tickets starting at $19 per game. A preset 21-game Collectors Plan offers Opening Day, all 10 bobblehead giveaways, all 10 retired number collectible pins and Jackie Robinson Day. A 30-game Flex Plan allows for any 2016 home game, including Opening Day. All mini plans are on sale now at

Below, you can see an informal list of planned 2016 promotions. Please note that:

  • Giveaways are limited to 40,000 units per game, unless otherwise noted.
  • Kids giveaways are for the first 15,000 ticketed kids 14 & under in attendance.
  • Only one giveaway item per person will be given to the bearer of the ticket upon entering the stadium.
  • Schedule is subject to change without notice.

Promotions part 1

Promotions part 2

Flashback: The Dave Roberts experiment

Dodger director of graphic design Ross Yoshida passed along this video of Dave Roberts when he was the prankee on a September 2003 episode of “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment” on the ol’ WB Network. (Former Dodger catcher Paul Lo Duca is in on the bit.) The Dodgers’ new manager is patient — really patient — but firm and in the end, able to take a joke.

— Jon Weisman

Dave Roberts and the Dodgers’ lost 2002 season

roberts & dreifort

By Jon Weisman

Dave Roberts made his Los Angeles debut with the 2002 Dodgers, a mostly forgotten squad whom a couple of weeks ago I called the best third-place team in Dodger history.

Those Dodgers won 92 games but finished behind Arizona and San Francisco in the National League West. Under the current playoff format, they would have made the NL wild-card game against the Giants, who ended up in the World Series against the Angels.

Instead, the ’02 Dodgers missed the postseason entirely, so their record as a team has largely been ignored. But in addition to the arrival of Roberts, there were these individual memories:

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Think Blue Review: 2015-16 edition No. 2

[mlbvideo id=”530768583″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

The latest in our weekly series keeping tabs on the Dodger offseason …

— Jon Weisman

New manager Dave Roberts is the Dodgers’ somebody

Dave Roberts in 2002 (Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Dave Roberts in 2002 (Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Dave Roberts first came to the Dodgers as a nobody. On December 22, 2001, the Dodgers traded two single-A minor-leaguers, Christian Bridenbaugh and Nial Hughes, to Cleveland for an outfielder who had 40 career Major League hits at age 29.

Neither Bridenbaugh nor Hughes would play at any level in any of MLB’s 30 organizations again. But Roberts, he wouldn’t easily be forgotten.

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Cotton, Stripling added to 40-man roster

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 1.08.52 PMBy Jon Weisman

Minor-league right-handed pitchers Jharel Cotton (left) and Ross Stripling have been added to Dodgers’ 40-man roster today, as expected, ahead of the deadline to protect them from other MLB clubs in  the Rule 5 draft.

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 1.08.44 PMCotton, who turns 24 in January, pitched primarily for Double-A Tulsa, with 71 strikeouts and a 1.12 WHIP in 62 2/3 innings, before gaining 7 1/3 innings of Triple-A experience at the end of the year.

Returning from April 2014 Tommy John surgery, Stripling (who turns 26 Monday) had 55 strikeouts and a 1.19 WHIP in 67 1/3 innings for Tulsa.

The Dodgers now have 39 players on their 40-man roster, 23 of them pitchers.

Alex Wood looks ahead after a year that ‘wasn’t up to standards’

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Colorado Rockies

By Jon Weisman

When he got on the phone late last week, Alex Wood was on his way to a wedding, an event that has become as regular as a turn in the starting rotation.

“A lot of teammates and friends are getting married, so on the weekends I have a lot of weddings and different things going on,” Wood said. “I had a bachelor party last week and a wedding this weekend, wedding next weekend, wedding the weekend after. The next three weekends I’ve got weddings.”

Inevitably, baseball players become experts at weddings — especially arranged marriages, like the one Wood found himself in July 30 when Atlanta traded him to the Dodgers. In some ways, the honeymoon is over, but in other ways it hasn’t yet begun.

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Greinke, Kershaw in NL MVP top 10

By Jon Weisman

Zack Greinke finished seventh, Clayton Kershaw 10th and Adrian Gonzalez tied for 19th in the Baseball Writers Association of America’s National League Most Valuable Player vote, won unanimously by Washington’s Bryce Harper.

Greinke, the NL Cy Young Award runner-up, received two of the 30 possible second-place votes behind Harper, and in the MVP race also finished one slot behind NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta. Greinke was included in the top 10 of 24 ballots.

Other than Kershaw winning the NL MVP voter last year, Arrieta and Greinke had the highest finishes for a pitcher in the NL MVP race since Roy Halladay finished sixth in 2010.

Kershaw’s highest place on any MVP ballot this year was fourth place (two votes). Gonzalez had one ninth-place and one 10th-place vote.

Arrieta tops Greinke, Kershaw for NL Cy Young Award

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers


Zack Greinke in Cy Young balloting

  • 2009: first (AL)
  • 2013: eighth (NL)
  • 2014: seventh (NL)
  • 2015: second (NL)

Clayton Kershaw in NL Cy Young balloting

  • 2011: first
  • 2012: second
  • 2013: first
  • 2014: first
  • 2015: third

Dodger MLB Cy Young Award winners

  • 1956: Don Newcombe
  • 1962: Don Drysdale
  • 1963: Sandy Koufax*
  • 1965: Sandy Koufax*
  • 1966: Sandy Koufax*

Dodger NL Cy Young Award winners

  • 1974: Mike Marshall
  • 1981: Fernando Valenzuela
  • 1988: Orel Hershiser*
  • 2003: Eric Gagne
  • 2011: Clayton Kershaw
  • 2013: Clayton Kershaw
  • 2014: Clayton Kershaw*

By Jon Weisman

Despite the lowest ERA in the Major Leagues in 20 years, Zack Greinke will go into the offseason without the National League Cy Young Award.

Greinke missed becoming the ninth Dodger pitcher to win the trophy, falling to Jake Arrieta in this year’s vote by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

If four of Greinke’s 17 second-place votes had put him first, Greinke would have won the award.

Finishing third was three-time winner Clayton Kershaw, who did receive three first-place votes.

No ballot put Arrieta or Greinke outside of the top three, while two voters had Gerrit Cole of the Pirates in third place.

Greinke had a 1.66 ERA — the lowest in the big leagues since Greg Maddux in 1995 — and an adjusted ERA of 225 (best since Roger Clemens in 2005). He also led the Majors in WHIP (0.84) and win probability added (6.72).

This year’s balloting marked the first time that a pair of teammates ranked among the top three Cy Young vote-getters since 2011 (Philadelphia’s Halladay and Cliff Lee) and the first time for two Dodger pitchers since 1974, when Mike Marshall won the award and Andy Messersmith was the runner-up.

Two different Dodgers haven’t won the award in consecutive years since Don Drysdale (1962) and Sandy Koufax (1963).


Dodgers, Newcombe welcome vets to Dodger Stadium

Newcombe signs

By Jon Weisman

A cheerful Don Newcombe was among the featured guests at today’s Dodger Stadium gathering for approximately 300 pre-selected Armed Forces veterans and active duty service members and their families.

To my regret, I didn’t have the recorder running as Newcombe shared stories with me about training soldiers during the Korean War, including doctors for the medical units depicted in “M*A*S*H.”

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