Jul 10

Castro retires, joins Dodger front office

Jake Roth/US PresswireJuan Castro

Juan Castro has officially retired from baseball and taken a position as a special assistant to Dodger general manager Ned Colletti. He will spend time in player development and evaluation. You can see the full list of Dodger special assistants here.

“It was time for me to make the decision to end my playing career,” said Castro. “I’m honored that Ned thought of bringing me back to the organization where I first signed as a young kid more than 20 years ago. I’m very excited to once again work for the Dodgers in a new and challenging role.”

Amusingly, Castro had the highest batting average of his career in his final season, hitting .286 (4 for 14) for the Dodgers. Overall, Castro had a .229 batting average, .268 on-base percentage and .395 slugging percentage.

The Dodgers signed Castro on June 18, 1991, two days before his 19th birthday. Twenty years later, the defensive specialist retires with 17 seasons in the big leagues, 1,103 career games and 601 career hits. He also started the first triple play in Los Angeles Dodger history with a running, over-his-shoulder catch in 1996 in Atlanta.

According to the Dodgers, Castro fifth among Mexican-born players in games (1,103), at-bats (2,627) and doubles (123) while finishing seventh in home runs (36), runs (253), hits (601) and RBI (234).

* * *

The Dodgers’ homerless streak has now reached 384 plate appearances. According to the Dodger press notes, the Dodgers’ 10 straight games without a home run is the longest skein since July 6-12, 1992, a stretch that included the three post-riot doubleheaders against Montreal.

On the flip side, Ted Lilly will try to keep the Dodgers’ scoreless pitching streak going. Los Angeles has thrown 27 consecutive scoreless innings, 11 shy of the team record of 38 from September 9-12, 1966.

Lilly, by the way, has been slotted third in the Dodger rotation after the All-Star Break, ahead of Chad Billingsley. That puts Lilly in a day game at Arizona a week from today, instead of a night game in San Francisco if he had gone fourth.

Johannes Eisele/Getty Images

* * *

Congrats to the U.S. women’s soccer team for its remarkable comeback victory over Brazil today. I only saw the extra time and penalty kicks, but wow.

Jul 09

July 9 game chat

From Dodger Thoughts commenter Bob Hendley: “So far in July our only wins have been when we have shut out the opposition. We have won eight of our past 18 games, with six shutouts, a one-run game and a two-run game.”

From Sons of Steve Garvey: “There are certain Dodger fans who will boycott today’s game, but would it be too much to ask for the Dodger bats not to join them? “

Jul 08

Gonna fly now …

Remarkably, the Dodgers have been successful on 25 of their past 26 steal attempts, dating back to Matt Kemp stealing third on June 20.

According to the Dodger press notes, this year’s team is running second in Los Angeles history with an 81.2 percent success rate (69 for 85), trailing only the famous 1962 team (82.2 percent, 198 for 241).

Kemp is 26 for 29 this season and has stolen 18 straight bases since he was last caught, on April 20. Kemp’s baserunning coach, Davey Lopes, holds the team (and former MLB) record with 38 consecutive steals in 1975.

Meanwhile, the Dodger homerless streak now sits at at 318 plate appearances. Take what you can get.

Jul 07

Buck supports Scully trip to the World Series

Fox baseball announcer Joe Buck is all for having Vin Scully participate in a World Series broadcast. Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News passes along the quotes.

… “Personally, I’d love it,” Buck said the other day. “We’ve always toyed with the idea of having the hometown guy involved in a World Series broadcast. I’m from that camp. In my dad’s era, we paid a nod of tribute to the greats. And there’s no one like Vin, or close to Vin.

“I’d happily step aside to hear his voice (on the World Series). I would not fight that at all. That’s just how I grew up.

“As far as I’m concerned, he could be part of it every year. I’m not selfish. I realize who the game’s greats are, and I always defer to them – my dad (Jack Buck), Ernie Harwell, Curt Gowdy, Harry Caray. There are only a handful of guys who are as identifiable with their organizations as any player is.” …

I think Fox might be less of a hurdle for Scully at this point than the possibility that the World Series will take place entirely on the East Coast this year.

* * *

  • The final batch of your Dodger fan stories submitted to ESPNLosAngeles.com is up on the site.
  • Bud Selig scored a victory over Frank McCourt in a bankruptcy hearing today, when Judge Kevin Gross denied a request to order Major League Baseball to turn over numerous documents. “This is clearly in my mind not an appropriate occasion to turn the hearing into a trial of the commissioner,” Gross said.
  • The Dodgers have gone 283 plate appearances since their last home run, Aaron Miles’ midgame shot on June 28.
  • Trayvon Robinson will compete in the Triple-A Home Run Derby on Monday.
  • Dodger farmhands Dee Gordon, Zach Lee and Allen Webster are in Baseball America’s midseason top-50 prospects list.
  • Andre Ethier was unable to top Shane Victorino of Philadelphia for the final fan-elected spot on the National League All-Star roster.
  • Former DodgerTalk host Ken Levine, now broadcasting Seattle Mariners games, wrote a piece on a “day in the life” of a baseball broadcaster.
  • “Don’t Stop Believin'” might finally be on its way out of Dodger Stadium, reports Sons of Steve Garvey, while “God Bless America” could be reduced to Sundays and special occasions.
  • At Bronx Banter, Jon De Rosa writes about parking at Dodger Stadium and then walking all the way to Phillippe’s for a pregame bite.

    … It seemed very straightforward, the only tricky part was crossing the 110. The walking map/GPS on my phone had it pegged as a 25 minute walk. The phone is lucky it was not smashed on the sidewalk.

    Maybe if you were one of the Elves from Lord of The Rings, it would have been a 25 minute walk. But my family moves at Dwarf or Hobbit-speed, especially in the heat.

    Did I forget to mention my wife was pushing a double stroller? Disaster. You can imagine that an area not expecting pedestrians would skimp on sidewalks. There’s maybe 50 feet of sidewalk around Dodger Stadium that can accommodate the girth of the doublewide stroller. The road ahead was so treacherous that we had to send a scout 100 yards in advance in order to map where we could walk.

    The sandwich at Phillippes is good, and probably deserves a Tasters Cherce, but the lines go on and on and noboby eles has planned to walk back – ever. So as we ate, the spectre of the return journey hung above us.

    But as with any disaster, it’s all about the people you’re with and how they react. We couldn’t stop laughing at ourselves, for thinking like New Yorkers and getting ourselves in this mess. My wife put a gob of their mustard on her sandwich before realizing how hot it was. We cracked up again. We missed the first pitch, and the first inning, but we caught the other eight and didn’t leave early.

    Good thing, because the Dodgers won in a walkoff. We even hung around so the kids could run the bases. As we were leaving, my older son said, “When I grow up, I’m going to play baseball like those guys.” I think we were the last non-employees to leave Dodger Stadium. Great day and a walk I’ll probably never forget.

  • I’m off to Fangraphs Live, but I’ll be taking my car.
Jul 05

Is lefty Lilly all right?

Ted Lilly’s start tonight for the Dodgers could be considered a critical one, for reasons that have nothing to do with the team’s place in the standings.

Lilly has been battling left elbow tenderness, as Ken Gurnick of MLB.com notes. He was given an extra day of rest before making his latest start, after having to skip several between-starts bullpen sessions. This has been going on while Lilly has allowed 17 earned runs over 14 2/3 innings in his past three outings.

Any further struggles could (or perhaps the word is “should”) force Lilly to the disabled list, which would mean the callup of John Ely, the only minor-league starting pitcher on the 40-man roster, or someone else who isn’t on the 40-man, such as Triple-A All-Star Dana Eveland. Jon Garland is out for the season, reports Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

* * *

  • Andre Ethier is out of today’s starting lineup because of the flu, but he did what I presume was MLB-prescribed promotion for his candidacy for the MLB All-Star final vote.
  • Matt Kemp has been invited to the Home Run Derby during the All-Star Break.
  • Baseball America published a list of the youngest ballplayers in each professional league.
  • The Dodgers continue to offer major discounts even on giveaway nights. $5 reserved seats for an Andre Ethier bobblehead promotion Thursday.
  • Longtime Holman Stadium public address announcer Dick Crago passed away Friday at the age of 85, the Dodgers announced. He worked the Vero Beach stadium from 1969-2008.
Jul 03

A public catharsis

The first batch of Dodger stories solicited from the fans by ESPNLosAngeles.com have been published. Check ’em out.

* * *

Saturday at 12 noon, some Dodger fans have scheduled a demonstration to voice displeasure “with Frank McCourt, MLB, and Bud Selig for allowing the collapse of this once proud franchise.” It’s taken me a while to understand the point of this type of protest – fan disgust with the state of Dodger ownership is already an international story, one that has been conveyed through the daily decline in Dodger attendance more effectively than any single-day action could ever hope to do. It’s the silence, not the screaming, that speaks volumes.

However, I do realize that for some fans, staying away from the games (whether by conscious protest or simple apathy) is not exactly a catharsis. On that level, a demonstration makes sense to me, with like-minded people coming together to make their statement clear, even if it’s a statement that otherwise goes without saying.

There might be media coverage of the demonstration, but it will be media coverage that reiterates a story already being told – there’s a baseball crisis in Los Angeles, and fans are anxious to have it resolved. It’s not my place to tell the participants that the media coverage won’t matter, but only speaking for myself, I imagine the most important part of the gathering will be the camaraderie, the shared spirit of Dodger fans who have always cherished their team.

Jul 02

Hiroki Kuroda’s streaking … but probably not to the All-Star Game

Friday, Hiroki Kuroda took over the Dodger lead in ERA at 2.90, moving ahead of a pitcher most assume will make the National League All-Star team, Clayton Kershaw. In his past six starts, Kuroda has a 1.72 ERA, and opponents are batting .191 against him. So has Kuroda pitched his way into All-Star consideration?

In 2010, there were eight starting pitchers on the NL roster until injured Yovani Gallardo of Milwaukee was replaced by San Diego reliever Heath Bell. In 2009, there were also eight starting pitchers, with Pittsburgh’s Zach Duke replacing San Francisco’s Matt Cain. So top-eight is the neighborhood you want to be in, if not even better.

Here’s where Kershaw and Kuroda currently rank in certain categories that might matter to the various selectors for the NL, which is making its All-Star roster announcement Sunday:

ERA: Kuroda ninth, Kershaw 10th
Strikeouts: Kershaw first, Kuroda 27th
Innings: Kershaw third (tie), Kuroda 16th (tie)
Wins: Kershaw ninth (tie), Kuroda 27th (tie)
WHIP: Kershaw third, Kuroda 20th
Complete games: Kershaw third, Kuroda has none
Shutouts: Kershaw second (tie), Kuroda has none
Quality starts: Kershaw seventh (tie), Kuroda 17th (tie)
Strikeout/walk ratio: Kershaw fourth, Kuroda 25th
Strikeouts per nine innings: Kershaw first, Kuroda 32nd
Fielding-independent ERA: Kershaw third, Kuroda 34th
Wins Above Replacement: Kershaw fourth, Kuroda 36th
Opponents OPS: Kershaw second, Kuroda 29th
Losses: Kuroda first (tie), Kershaw 75th (tie)

As you can see, outside of ERA, Kuroda’s case is very slim. Now, I wouldn’t completely rule out Kuroda sneaking onto a roster at the last minute, the way Hong-Chih Kuo and Rafael Furcal did a year ago, if a need for a substitute player arises. ERA might be the pitching category that has the most importance for All-Star selectors, plus Kuroda seems to be a popular player in baseball and one who might be in his last year pitching Stateside. But, it’s a tough year to pitch your way into the elite.

No doubt, many Dodger fans would be just as happy to see Kuroda get the All-Star break to rest.

* * *

Could the 37-46 Dodgers win nine games in a row? Perhaps they’ll find some odd encouragement in the play of their Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque, where the once 42-30 Isotopes have lost nine in a row.

Jul 01

Turn that beat around for Kuroda

On the day that Esteban Loaiza is getting his well-deserved place on the Las Vegas Walk of Stars, our thoughts turn to Hiroki Kuroda, who as Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. notes, could use a little homage.

… Despite pitching relatively well in his five starts (2.12 ERA, 3.65 FIP, and 3.46 xFIP; his best month of the season in all three categories), Kuroda never won. The Dodgers scored a total of seven runs in his five starts, and Kuroda was saddled with an 0-4 record during June.

Kuroda starts tonight for the Dodgers as they open a three-game series in Anaheim against the Angels. With just 2.9 runs per start, Kuroda ranks 67th among 71 qualified pitchers in run support in the National League. He will look to snap a dubious streak tonight, as only two Dodgers since 1919 have had more consecutive starts allowing two earned runs without picking up a win. …

… His adjusted ERA (ERA+) is 111 in his career. There have been 31 pitchers in baseball since the beginning of 2008 to put up a 110 ERA+ or higher in at least 500 innings, and Kuroda is the only won with a losing record. There are 37 starting pitchers with at least 10 FanGraphs WAR during that span, including Kuroda and his 11.1 Wins Above Replacement. Of those 37 pitchers, only Kuroda and Javier Vasquez (41-44) have losing records. …

* * *

Idle thought … I’m wondering what the attendance would be at Dodger Stadium if there were any games during Carmageddon Weekend on July 16-17:

Jun 29

Dodger fans, tell us your stories

Fair readers …. we at ESPNLosAngeles.com would like to hear from you about the Dodgers, and not just in the short-form comments section below.  We’re asking you to submit your real-deal stories of how you became Dodger fans, what the team means to you and how recent events (um, I think you know what we mean) have affected you and that fandom.

So, we’d like you to submit your thoughts – say, 500 words as a target length, but don’t feel wedded to it – to this mailbag link. The editors will then share a bunch of the stories on ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Jun 28

Broxton might be out for season

Is Jonathan Broxton’s Dodger career over? Maybe not, but it’s increasingly possible that the Dodger reliever, who will be a free agent at season’s end, won’t appear in a game for the team again with today’s news that he is being shut down from throwing for at least three more weeks. Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has more:

… Club officials won’t say at this point that they are counting on getting Broxton back the rest of the season.

“We don’t have a timetable now,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “We did this once before, where he was shut down for three weeks and did all the stuff to return, and then we got back here. It’s just hard to say now that we’re going to get him back in six weeks or seven weeks or eight weeks. To me, at this point, if we get him back, great, all the better. But we have to kind of move forward.”

Broxton underwent an MRI on Monday in Los Angeles and then consulted with team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who determined that the MRI showed a worsening of the bone bruise in Broxton’s elbow and that the best course of action was to shut him down again. …

Though his troubles this year will lower his value on the free agent market, it’s likely that some other team than the Dodgers will pay more to take a chance on the reliever, who only turned 27 this month. For pitchers with at least 300 innings as a Dodger, Broxton is the franchise’s all-time leader in strikeouts per nine innings.

He might make it back this season, but if not, like Russell Martin last fall, he’ll probably be looking at a fresh start.

* * *

The initial news on the bankruptcy court front appeared to drag things out another month, but then again, maybe not.

MLB will “probably” file a motion to seize the Dodgers from Frank McCourt, The Associated Press is reporting. That comes in the wake of the franchise’s initial bankruptcy court hearing today, which ended with McCourt being granted financing on a temporary basis, pending a July 20 hearing, with the TV rights saga still a major hurdle. In short, there was news, but no resolution.

Jun 27

The 2011 Dodger Creditor Awards

Nominees were selected from the pool of Top 40 creditors mentioned in the Dodgers’ bankruptcy filing today, with what they were owed this week.

The Big Kahuna Award: Manny Ramirez, $20.99 million
Hall of Infamy Award: Andruw Jones, $11.08 million
Owed but Charitable Award: Hiroki Kuroda, $4.48 million
Medic-Alert Award: Rafael Furcal, $3.73 million
Hooray for the Other Team Award: Chicago White Sox, $3.50 million
“Ted” for Short (And We Are Short) Award: Theodore Lilly, $3.42 million
Don’t Take a Hike Award: Zach Lee, $3.4 million
Duty Free Award: Kazuhisa Ishii, $3.30 million
Ooh, Repay Award: Juan Uribe, $3.24 million
Juan for Two Award: Juan Pierre, $3.05 million
Griss for the Mill Award: Marquis Grissom, $2.72 million
Food for Thought Award: Levy Restaurants, $588,322
There’s a New Kid in Town Award: Alex Santana, $499,500
Dodger Talk (and No Action) Award: KABC-AM Radio 790, $273,321
Okay, This Has Stopped Being Fun Award: Office of Finance – City of Los Angeles (City Business Tax Audit 2007-2009), $240,563

Jayson Stark has more on today’s news at ESPN.com. Also, for Variety, I looked at the Dodgers’ bankruptcy filing from the TV angle.

Jun 26

Kershaw C: Kersh of the Titans

Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesClayton Kershaw

Can it really be 100 starts since it all began for Clayton Kershaw, our 20-year-old baby-faced rookie? How do you squeeze 100 starts in what feels like such a short time?

Here are the career numbers:
590 2/3 innings, 735 baserunners (470 hits, 256 walks, nine hit batters), 614 strikeouts, 3.14 ERA.

Opponents: .219 batting average, .304 on-base percentage, .322 slugging percentage, .626 OPS.

And, to celebrate the ongoing lamest feature in Dodger Thoughts history, here’s the list of all the Kershaw films made to date:

Kershaw XCIX: Kershawl the President’s Men
Kershaw XCVIII: Kershawl That Heaven Will Allow
Kershaw XCVII: Kershawpular Mechanics
Kershaw XCVI: Kershawft
Kershaw XCV: Kershawnal Best
Kershaw XCIV: Kershawlotte’s Web
Kershaw XCIII: Kershawl we are saying, is give peace a chance
Kershaw XCII: Kersh-sh-sh-sh-sh changes
Kershaw XCI: Kershawppy Mother’s Day
Kershaw XC: (vacant)
Kershaw LXXXIX: Kershawlistic medicine
Kershaw LXXXVIII: Kershawtel California
Kershaw LXXXVII: Kershawrlan County, U.S.A.
Kershaw LXXXVI: Kershawlandaise sauce
Kershaw LXXXV: Kershawberry muffin
Kershaw LXXXIV: Kershopening day game chat
Kershaw LXXXIII: Kershawteau Marmont
Kershaw LXXXII: Kershawpscotch
Kershaw LXXXI: Kershawctupus
Kershaw LXXX: Kershawt wheels
Kershaw LXXIX: Kershawquaman
Kershaw LXXVIII: (vacant)
Kershaw LXXVII: Kershaw, snap!
Kershaw LXXVI: Kershawnna Karenina
Kershaw LXXV: Kershawne on you crazy diamond
Kershaw LXXIV: Kershasta McNasty
Kershaw LXXIII: Kershawl of Me
Kershaw LXXII: Kershawmpty Dumpty
Kershaw LXXI: Kershawt and a beer
Kershaw LXX: Kershawt Tub Time Machine
Kershaw LXIX: Kershallow Grave
Kershaw LXVIII: Kershawk jock
Kershaw LXVII: O Kershaw, Curtain, Lights
Kershaw LXVI: Kershawpoly
Kershaw LXV: Kershawnee, Indiana
Kershaw LXIV: Kershaw Knight Pulliam
Kershaw LXIII: Kershawt My Dad Says
Kershaw LXII: Kershawrmor All
Kershaw LXI: Kershawrms and the Man
Kershaw LX: Kershawlsbury Hill
Kershaw LIX: Kershaws Clay
Kershaw LVIII: Kershawmmie dearest
Kershaw LVII: Kershawww, freak out!
Kershaw LVI: (vacant)
Kershaw LV: Kershawk-infested waters
Kershaw LIV: Kershaw the Frog
Kershaw LIII: Kershawme Opener
Kershaw LII: There’s no business like Kershaw business
Kershaw LI: (vacant)
Kershaw L: Kershawlk to the animals
Kershaw XLIX: Kershaws
Kershaw XLVIII: Kershome run derby
Kershaw XLVII: Kershawpple Dumpling Gang
Kershaw XLVI: Kershawlly olly oxen free
Kershaw XLV: Kershawlly Lolly Lolly get your adverbs here
Kershaw XLIV: Kershawvinist pigs!
Kershaw XLIII: Kershawk full o’ nuts
Kershaw XLII: (vacant)
Kershaw XLI: Kershawk treatment
Kershaw XL: Drive Kershow, putt for dough
Kershaw XXXIX: Kershow Gabba Gabba
Kershaw XXXVIII: Kershawrky’s Machine
Kershaw XXXVII: Kershawt through the heart
Kershaw XXXVI: Kershawp ’til you drop
Kershaw XXXV: Kershawppy Father’s Night
Kershaw XXXIV: Kershalways be closing
Kershaw XXXIII: Kershawt Heard ‘Round the World
Kershaw XXXII: Kershawva Nagila
Kershaw XXXI: Kershawt people got no reason
Kershaw XXX: Kershawffice Space
Kershaw XXIX: Kershawrk Attack
Kershaw XXVIII: Kershampoo
Kershaw XXVII: Kershantilly Lace
Kershaw XXVI: Kershey’s Kisses
Kershaw XXV: Kershawt in the Dark
Kershaw XXIV: Kershawffle off to Buffalo
Kershaw XXIII: Kersham-Wow
Kershaw XXII: (Adenhart)
Kershaw XXI: Kershama Lama Ding Dong
Kershaw XX: Kershane, Come Back Kershane
Kershaw XIX: Kershawrp Dressed Man
Kershaw XVIII: Kershawnterbury Tales
Kershaw XVII: Kershawt in the Dark
Kershaw XVI: Kershawnce To Dream
Kershaw XV: Kershawn of the Dead
Kershaw XIV: Kershawl We Dance?
Kershaw XIII: Kershawp Around the Corner
Kershaw XII: Kerdyshawck
Kershaw XI: Manny I
Kershaw X: Kershaq Fu
Kershaw IX: Kershawk the Monkey
Kershaw VIII: Kershaw Me the Money
Kershaw VII: Kershaw Na Na Na, Sha Na Na Na Na Na
Kershaw VI: Kershaw’s, Foiled Again?
Kershaw V: (vacant)
Kershaw IV: Kershawshank Redemption
Kershaw III: Kershawker
Kershaw II: The Kershawing
Kershaw: (vacant)

Jun 25

June 25 game chat

Via the Dodger press notes, an update on Dioner Navarro’s defensive feat Friday: “According to Elias, the last catcher with two or more pickoffs and more than two runners caught stealing in a game was the Yankees’ Ron Hassey, who accomplished the feat on June 8, 1986 against the Orioles. Navarro leads the Majors with four catcher pickoffs in 25 games behind the plate and ranks fourth in the NL (min. 20 games) with a 30.0 caught stealing percentage (6 CS/14 SB).”