Dodger Thoughts

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

Month: November 2015 (Page 2 of 3)

Anticipating today’s NL Cy Young Award reveal

Greinke Kershaw

Together, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw pitched 455 1/3 innings for the Dodgers in 2015 with 501 strikeouts and a 1.90 ERA. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Sometime between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. today on MLB Network — I’m guessing as close to 3:59 p.m. as possible — the Baseball Writers Association of America will announce the winner of the 2015 National League Cy Young Award.

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Clayton Kershaw extends efforts for underprivileged

Clayton Kershaw co-hosted a clinic for youth from the Dream Center in July. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Clayton Kershaw co-hosted a clinic for youth from the Dream Center in July. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Not surprisingly, Clayton Kershaw has once again made himself busy in the charity and community service arena since the offseason began.

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Slick-fielding (OK, not really) Brett Anderson plans to build off 2015

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Though he is typically self-deprecating (if not self-punishing) about his athleticism off the mound, Brett Anderson said today that Zack Greinke told him he ranked third defensively “according to some stat — I don’t know which one, Brooks Baseball or Fangraphs or whatever.”

The stat, it appears, is stolen base runs saved: “the pitcher’s contributions to controlling the running game.” Or maybe it was dives like this one (click to enlarge) at Texas in June that elevated his defensive stature. Whatever the stat was, Anderson said he wanted it on his headstone.

Slick Brett

More to the point: A month after finishing his busiest and healthiest season of the decade, the left-hander is far from having burial rites performed on his career.

Speaking to reporters today for the first time since agreeing to the Dodgers’ qualifying offer for 2016, Anderson said he is ahead of schedule in terms of his preparation for next season.

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Kapler on Seager and Urias

Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Dodger director of player development Gabe Kapler spoke to Josh Jackson of about the Dodger minor-leaguers who had the best seasons in 2015. Here are two passages from the interview that stood out:

On Corey Seager’s defense and future at shortstop:

“Sometimes we see a guy consistently make plays that look so easy and so routine that we don’t necessarily see acrobatic plays. What does that mean? He makes plays others make look acrobatic, he makes those plays look effortless. One thing that’s fascinating about Corey: the throws he makes on cutoffs and relays to cut down runners going from first to third look almost identical to the throws he makes with nobody on, when he’s just relaying ball back. That calm. He’s got that thing that allows him to keep his body under control in high-pressure situations.”

On what makes Julio Urias so special:

“He’s about as charismatic and dynamic an individual as we have in the organization. He’s super communicative and incredibly intelligent, very liked, very prepared, very driven. With that. coupled with his athleticism and lower drive and his fastball characteristics, plus the simple grind of being a baseball dude, he has the makings of a really special contributor to our organization. He’s a guy who’s going to be good for a long time.”

LADF online Dodgers memorabilia auction begins

Clayton Kershaw Autographed JerseyBy Erin Edwards

Looking for the perfect gift this holiday season? Look no further! The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation has amazing deals on autographed memorabilia.

Now through December 7 , LADF will be hosting an online auction with autographed memorabilia, including items from your favorite current and former Dodger players. Go to to place your bid on autographed baseball and jerseys.

Now is the time to find a coveted gift for your favorite Dodger fan or for yourself. As you browse through the online auction, you will find items signed by Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez, Corey Seager, Justin Turner and many others. If you are the winning bidder, we will ship item to you prior to the holiday.

All proceeds benefit the programs and charitable donations of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation.

Brett Anderson returning to Dodgers in 2016

Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Brett Anderson will be back in a Dodger uniform next season after accepting the team’s one-year qualifying offer.

Zack Greinke and Howie Kendrick rejected their qualifying offers to pursue multi-year deals. Each could sign with any team, including the Dodgers.

Anderson would have been the first player under the current collective bargaining agreement to accept a qualifying offer, but he was beaten by a few hours by Houston’s Colby Rasmus and Baltimore’s Matt Wieters, reportedly.

Anderson, who turns 28 just before Spring Training next year, set a career high in innings (180 1/3) in 2015 and had his best season since 2009, with a 3.69 ERA, a career-high 18 quality starts and an MLB-leading 66.3 percent groundball rate.

With Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood and (if he returns from shoulder surgery) Hyun-Jin Ryu, the Dodgers could have as many as four southpaws in their starting rotation at a given time next season.

Vin Scully: The one

Vin in booth

By Jon Weisman

By the time I was 10 years old, I wanted to be Vin Scully.


That might sound like the easiest question in the world to answer. Who wouldn’t want to be Vin Scully?

First, let me be clear. I wouldn’t have phrased my ambition as “I want to be a sportscaster.” It was, “I want to be Vin Scully.”

Why him, more than any other human being in the world? And why then? Partly, it’s because I never envisioned myself as a pro athlete, but on some level, it still doesn’t make sense.

In my mind, there is no one more talented, no one more expert, in the English language than Scully, but I wouldn’t have identified such a specific skill as a child. I would have enjoyed his broadcasts for the most straightforward of reasons — I was a fan of the Dodgers, and for the most part, he told me their stories, and he was great.

Nothing he said before 1977 sticks with me. I know I heard his voice often enough, considering how much of a baseball fan my father is and how many games we consumed on the radio. But all my memories of baseball up to that time are of moments, not his words.

Today, as the parent of three kids who won’t sit still for five minutes of a sporting event on TV or radio without snacks calling their names, I even wonder, why baseball? Why sports? What, at the core of it all, draws one person in, triggering a lifelong obsession, while pushing another person away?

I keep circling back to thrill of being the one.

For some, it’s a vision of actually becoming the champion on the field, in a moment or for a season — none better than you. For others, who make peace that they will be spectators, it is the thrill of vicarious victory.

Either way, it is to experience the mastery of moments, small or large.  And some people — probably wiser than me — don’t see what matters in sports.

For me, as a child, I watched Steve Garvey and Lawrence McCutchen with wonder, read about Tom Sawyer and Abraham Lincoln with awe, encountered thousands of different personalities of fame and accomplishment, real and make-believe.

Somehow, never was anyone more the one than Vin Scully.

Maybe my inability to explain why his appeal was so powerful to me as a child actually speaks to the strength of that appeal. Literally before I can remember, he began to speak to me so deeply, and never stopped.

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

The accumulation of experience has taught me that Vin Scully can communicate anything, the ideal combination of Walter Cronkite, Robert Frost and Garrison Keillor. He operates in the seed of a moment and opens it like the most beautiful rose.

Is Scully better at his job than Babe Ruth was? You could argue the point — Scully certainly would — but when you throw in infinite extra points for durability, the debate ends.

The one.

As a kid, I soon decided that to be any other kind of sportscaster would be a disappointment, and so when I didn’t show any immediate aptitude for it, as a teenager practicing with a tape recorder in my bedroom, I abandoned the idea.

It’s funny: I started writing this piece days before I spoke with Joe Davis, whose lifelong ambition was formed at an age as young as mine, but without the peril of identifying so strongly with a single person. He didn’t fall into my trap.

Ultimately, I escaped as well. I moved in a different direction, sideswiping sportscasting (though I’ll admit I’ve enjoyed the chance to comment occasionally on the air in my various careers), carving out my own path, becoming my own self.

My best hope has been to become a one. As he has for so many of us, Vin Scully set that standard, by being so exemplary, so magnetic, so Vin. I’ll probably be chasing that as long as I live. Vin Scully is, and always will be, the one, and we’ll all be someone else.

Maury Wills to receive lifetime honor at scouts dinner

Wills Sliding (steals record)
By Jon Weisman

Dodger legend Maury Wills will receive the Player Lifetime Achievement Award at the 13th annual “In the Spirit of the Game” Sports and Entertainment Spectacular, benefiting the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 16.

The PBSF, founded and led by Dennis Gilbert, has helped raise more than 1.6 million that is awarded in grants to scouts (or their immediate family) whose circumstances have created a financial need.

The foundation’s mission is to create a financial bridge for those scouts by generating funds through contributions so that the PBSF may continue to help them get back on their feet. The foundation helps with such items as house and car payments, medical services including insurance, and daily living expenses up to and including funeral costs.

Dodgers president Stan Kasten will present Wills with the award.

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Meet the Dodgers’ newest broadcaster: Joe Davis

Joe Davis

By Jon Weisman

Any time the Dodgers add a new play-by-play announcer to their broadcast team, it’s going to draw attention — especially in the winter before what Vin Scully has said will be his final year behind the mic.

So let’s just make it clear: Joe Davis, who will be the play-by play announcer for 50 Dodger road games in 2016, working with Orel Hershiser, Nomar Garciaparra and Alanna Rizzo, is not taking Scully’s place.

“I think that like all Dodgers fans, I would hope that Vin would go as long as Vin would want to go,” Davis said in a phone interview. “From my perspective, I’m just looking at 2016. I know it sounds cliché to say that, but I’m just looking at my job to do those 50 games in 2016. Nobody replaces Vin Scully — nobody ever will replace Vin Scully. So all I really can worry about is doing my job the best I can, getting to work with an incredible crew and two guys that I think are two of the best analysts in all of baseball.”

In the televised games that Scully and Davis don’t work, Charley Steiner will do play-by-play. Steiner will also do play-by-play on radio in the remaining games, teamed with Rick Monday.

With that out of the way, who is Joe Davis?

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Dodgers unveil 2016 Spring Training schedule

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

The Dodgers will open their 30-game Cactus League schedule with a home game against their fellow Camelback Ranchers, the Chicago White Sox, on March 3.

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Video: The return of Think Blue Review

[mlbvideo id=”528976783″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

It’s time to offer a laurel and hearty handshake to Think Blue Review, the Dodgers’ weekly video series updating the team’s offseason activities. In the first 2015-16 edition, topics include award season, Adrian Gonzalez’s recent charity softball game and a look ahead to cricket at Dodger Stadium.

Below, a bonus video: general manager Farhan Zaidi talking about the Dodgers’ offseason from this week’s GM meetings in Florida.

— Jon Weisman

[mlbvideo id=”528978883″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

Zack Greinke repeats as NL Gold Glove pitcher

[mlbvideo id=”149883183″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Photo: Jon SooHoo

By Jon Weisman

Zack Greinke has won his second consecutive National League Gold Glove Award. Known for his athleticism, Greinke was credited with nine defensive runs saved by Fangraphs, 50 percent more than anyone else in the league.

Greinke is the third two-time Gold Glove-winning pitcher, following Andy Messersmith and Greg Maddux. Fernando Valenzuela, Orel Hershiser and Clayton Kershaw are the Dodgers’ other Gold Glove-winning hurlers.

Adrian Gonzalez, a finalist for the Gold Glove at first base and a four-time winner including 2014, was beaten out by Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt.

Greinke, Kershaw are finalists for NL Cy Young

Will the NL Cy Young Award winner turn around? Next week, you say? (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Will the 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner please turn around? Next week, you say? (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

To the surprise of no one I imagine, Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw and Jake Arrieta have been officially announced as the three finalists for the National League Cy Young Award, in what is one of the closest three-way award races in MLB history.


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Several Dodger minor-leaguers become free agents

Matt West made his Dodger debut June 20. (Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Matt West made his Dodger debut June 20. (Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Earlier this morning, Matt Eddy of Baseball America posted a lengthy list of minor-leaguers who have just become free agents. That included more than two dozen names from the Dodgers, who have confirmed that they are no longer under contract with the organization.

Several of these players were signed by the Dodgers as recently as last winter, as part of the annual cycle of veteran minor-leaguers switching teams, though there is one prominent former Dodger draft pick among them.

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Zack Greinke wins MLB Players Choice Award

By Jon Weisman

In a vote by his fellow big-league players, Zack Greinke won the 2015 MLB Players Choice Award as the National League’s most outstanding pitcher.

Greinke is also a leading contender for the NL Cy Young Award. Finalists for that honor will be announced Tuesday.

The Players Choice Awards are held by the MLB Players Association. Clayton Kershaw won the NL outstanding pitcher honor in 2011, 2013 and 2014.

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