Dodger Thoughts

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

Tag: Hiroki Kuroda (Page 1 of 4)

Who’s in the mood for a good laugher?

garvey

By Jon Weisman

The playoffs are so relentlessly tense, I was wondering when the last time Dodger fans could sit back and revel in a postseason romp.

Turns out, there’ve been a ton of pressure-packed innings in a row. Not since October 6, 2013 — 18 Dodger playoff games ago — has Los Angeles won a postseason game by more than three runs — in modern shorthand, a game that didn’t require a save.

But even though the Dodgers tied a franchise record for runs in a playoff contest with a 13-6 victory over Atlanta in Game 3 of the 2013 National League Division Series, that game was a roller coaster, considering the Dodgers trailed 2-0 early and didn’t break it open until scoring three runs in the bottom of the eighth.

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Maeda, Stripling to join rare group of 26-and-older starting pitchers to debut with Dodgers

Nomo Ishii

Hideo Nomo and Kaz Ishii each pitched shutout ball in their Dodger debuts.

Dodgers at Padres, 6:10 p.m.
Chase Utley, 2B
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Yasiel Puig, RF
Carl Crawford, LF
Joc Pederson, CF
A.J. Ellis, C
Kenta Maeda, P

By Jon Weisman

Kenta Maeda, who turns 28 on Monday, tonight will be the 18th Dodger starting pitcher in the past 100 years to make his Major League debut at age 26 or above.

And 48 hours later, barring anything unforeseen, 26-year-old Ross Stripling will become the 19th in that group on Friday.

That list includes such Asian pitchers as Hyun-Jin Ryu, Hiroki Kuroda, Kazuhisa Ishii and Hideo Nomo, who combined to pitch 24 innings and allow only two runs while striking out 26.

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In case you missed it: Cancer scare for Tiffany Billingsley

Tiffany Billingsley (left) has been quietly going through chemotherapy to beat a rare but aggressive form of cancer called gestational choriocarcinoma. (MLB.com)

Tiffany Billingsley (left) has been quietly going through chemotherapy to beat a rare but aggressive form of cancer called gestational choriocarcinoma. (MLB.com)

Dodgers at Phillies, 10:05 a.m.
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Andre Ethier, RF
Carl Crawford, LF
Alberto Callaspo, 3B
Joc Pederson, CF
Zack Greinke, P

By Jon Weisman

Before the first of three midweek day games this month, followed by August 19 at Oakland and August 27 at Cincinnati, here is some quick news, led by a life-and-death story …

  • Tiffany Billingsley, the wife of former Dodger pitcher Chad Billingsley, revealed this week that she had a major cancer scare this year but is now cancer-free, as Todd Zolecki reports in a harrowing piece for MLB.com.
  • Jimmy Rollins has a .400 on-base percentage and .650 slugging percentage in his past 11 games, while Howie Kendrick is at .406/.600 in his past seven games.
  • Zack Greinke has pitched at least seven innings in six consecutive games. Other than Clayton Kershaw, the last Dodger to do that was Hiroki Kuroda in 2010. (Kershaw pitched at least seven innings in 17 straight games last year.)
  • If Greinke goes at least seven innings today without allowing more than two runs, that would be the longest streak of its kind by a Dodger since Tom Candiotti in 1995. The franchise record is 10 games by Don Sutton in 1976.

The Dodgers’ biggest December deals of the 2000s

Magic Johnson welcomes Zack Greinke to the Dodgers on December 11, 2012. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Magic Johnson welcomes Zack Greinke to the Dodgers in December 2012. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Numerous Dodger fans are on the edge of their seats waiting for the team’s next big move. That might or might not come in December, a month that has brought huge transactions in some years but relative tranquility in others. Here’s a look at the biggest Dodger transactions of December that have taken place in the 21st century:

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In case you missed it: One shining moment (of indeterminate length)

By Jon Weisman

It happens in the blink of an eye, give or take some blinks …

  • The Los Angeles Sports Council is holding a fan vote for the area’s top sports (loosely defined) moments of the year. Dodger nominees are “Puig-Mania Sweeps L.A.,” “Dodgers Advance to NLCS” and “Kershaw Wins Cy Young Award.”
  • Dodger teenager Julio Urias took the No. 5 spot in MLB.com’s ratings of left-handed pitching prospects.
  • Baseball Prospectus is hosting a gathering April 26 at Dodger Stadium that includes special guests and a Q&A leading into the Dodgers’ game against the Rockies.
  • For those still tracking Hiroki Kuroda, an analysis by Alex Skillin of Beyond the Box Score is optimistic about his chances for success for the Yankees at age 39 (his birthday is February 10).
  • Former Dodger catcher Rod Barajas has been hired to manage the Padres’ Rookie League team in the Arizona League, reports Corey Brock of MLB.com (via MLB Trade Rumors) — but he still hasn’t ruled out playing again. (Whether other teams have ruled it out, I leave for you to speculate.) After a .625 OPS in 2012 for Pittsburgh, the 38-year-old Barajas was out of action in 2013.

Tommy Lasorda’s game for the ages

Tommy Lasorda recalls the time he struck out 25 while allowing 23 baserunners in a 15-inning game — with documentation! Lasorda also drove in the game-winning run (link from May via Baseball Think Factory).

The headline for the post is, “If you believe in pitch counts, read this.” I wonder, though, if Lasorda might have had a better major-league career if he hadn’t pitched a game like this.

Or not. In the minors, Lasorda walked 1,158 and struck out 864.

  • You think you had it rough? Hiroki Kuroda had it rough. This profile by David Waldstein of the New York Times is something.
  • Addressing increasing trade rumors about top Dodger pitching prospect Zach Lee, Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness brings the rationality.
  • Luke Scott of Baltimore is channeling Eugenio Velez with an 0-for-39 slump, notes David Brown of Big League Stew.
  • For an overseas perspective on the MLB All-Star Game, read Nat Coombs’ piece for ESPN America.
  • This piece by David Goldman for CNNMoney sums up all the reasons why wireless service is lacking at sporting events.
  • I wish teams would stop releasing Jamie Moyer.

June 30 game chat

Mets at Dodgers, 4:15 p.m.
Dee Gordon, SS
Elian Herrera, LF
Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B
Juan Rivera, 1B
A.J. Ellis, C
Scott Van Slyke, RF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Tony Gwynn Jr., CF
Nathan Eovaldi, P

Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy says he has a rare infection that might be connected to his lungs. Keep hoping he’ll get some good news.

  • Hiroki Kuroda tied his career high of 11 strikeouts in seven shutout innings for the Yankees today. He has a 1.65 ERA in his past seven starts.
  • Karen Crouse of the New York Times writes a wonderful story an interview, at age 13, with Olympic swimmer Mike Bruner that changed both their lives.
  • If the Dodgers don’t hit a home run tonight, it will be their first full month ever in Los Angeles with only one home run at home, according to research by Bob Timmermann.

Kuroda goes eight shutout innings in Yankee Stadium opener

I’ve probably never been happier over a Yankee win. Hiroki Kuroda pitched eight shutout innings, allowing five hits, two walks and striking out six before 49,386 at the Bronx Bombers’ home opener today, a 5-0 victory over the Angels.

Kuroda didn’t allow a hit after Peter Bourjos’ fifth-inning single until an infield single by Bobby Abreu in the ninth on the former Dodger’s 109th pitch, after which Kuroda left the game to a standing ovation. A highlight was a called strike three against Angel slugger Albert Pujols in the sixth.

I’ll always be a fan, Hiroki. Good for you.

Braun news threatens to overshadow Sands’ Carlos Perez story

Ryan Braun won the appeal of his drug suspension. I’ll let the reaction of Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra stand in for mine.

In almost all cases, the people who say that someone “got off on a technicality” or took advantage of a “loophole” really mean “I think the SOB was guilty and because of that I don’t care if the proper safeguards and protocols were followed!”  It’s a ridiculous stance.

Ridiculous because procedures such as chain of custody and the proper handling of samples — which were not followed in Braun’s case — exist for a reason. That reason is not, contrary to popular grunting, to make it harder for decent prosecutors or authorities to do their jobs. It’s to ensure the integrity of the system. And, in this case, the integrity of the sample. Every detail that is not adhered to presents another opportunity for a sample to be tainted, lost or otherwise compromised. When that happens the test itself is, by definition, unreliable and any reference to what it may or may not have shown is utterly beside the point. …

There’s more in Calcaterra’s post, one I urge you to read in its entirety. Between this chain-of-custody failure and the missing staple that was key to the McCourt divorce case, baseball appears to be ripping off Law and Order plot devices.

I’d like to think this will end the talk that there should be a re-vote of the National League Most Valuable Player award, but perhaps that’s still too optimistic.

* * *

Jerry Sands provided a lot of good copy for Dodger beat writers today, as these stories from Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A and Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com show.

The bulk of it consisted of fun anecdotes about Sands working as a substitute teacher over the winter, but my favorite part was this, from Stephen:

… Sands got married on November 19, then spent a month in the Dominican Republic, hitting .250/.325/.375 in 20 games with the Tigres de Licey in winter league ball, where he was teammates with 40-year old former Dodgers pitcher and water cooler destroyer Carlos Perez.

Sands said Perez was in something like his 20th year in the Dominican Winter League, and joked that management said of the pitcher, “We keep telling him not to come back, but every year he keeps showing up in the clubhouse.” …

* * *

The Dodgers had a few roster moves today.

They claimed 26-year-old outfielder Matt Angle off waivers from Baltimore. Angle had a .599 OPS in 95 plate appearances for the Orioles in 2011 and a .692 OPS in Triple-A, his skills mainly being incredible basestealing ability (38 for 42 at the two levels combined) and defense. Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness has more on Angle, who is on the 40-man roster but will begin the season in the minors.

Rubby De La Rosa was placed on the 60-day disabled list to make room for Angle.

Also, righty reliever Jose Ascanio failed his physical and won’t participate in Spring Training for the Dodgers. has left Dodger camp after failing his physical on Tuesday. From the Dodger Thoughts 2012 Spring Training Primer:

The 26-year-old allowed five runs on 12 baserunners in 6 1/3 innings for Pittsburgh last year and has a career 5.28 ERA in 46 MLB innings. However, he did strike out 50 in 44 innings for Triple-A Indianapolis in his first significant action since recovering from late-2009 shoulder surgery. So he sounds qualified for an Albuquerque stint.

* * *

  • Arizona offered Hiroki Kuroda $13 million for 2012, $3 million more than the contract he signed with the Yankees, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
  • Ernest Reyes of Blue Heaven posted a bevy of vintage Dodger photos available at Legendary Auctions.
  • EAS Sports Nutrition has a contest that will provide the winner and a friend airfare to Phoenix, hotel, rental car and tickets for two Spring Training games over the March 16-18 weekend.

St. Bobby

On this Valentine’s Day, Josh Wilker makes Bobby Valentine the subject of his Cardboard Gods offering, linking to a 1971 Spokane Daily Chronicle story in which Valentine declares, “I intend to be the Dodger shortstop for many years.” But Valentine, the 1970 Pacific Coast League MVP, had already suffered the injury that derailed his playing career.

But wait, there’s more …

  • In the second part of Bronx Banter’s series on Hiroki Kuroda, William Juliano runs a statistical analysis on the former Dodger righty.
  • Steve Dilbeck of Dodgers Now celebrates, for good reason, getting a phone call at home from Vin Scully.
  • Dodger Stadium will once again host a college baseball doubleheader, this time on March 13. UC Irvine will play Pepperdine at 2 p.m., followed by UCLA-USC at 6:30. Advanced tickets are $7 ($5 for students). Gates open at 1 p.m., parking is free and concessions are discounted. Details here.
  • Tony Gwynn (Sr.) is having more cancer surgery, reports The Associated Press.
  • From Chad Moriyama: “The article I didn’t want to write: Jeremy Lin and racism.”
  • Hey, it’s not as if I’m immune to the charms of Kate Upton, but thanks to Big League Stew for finding the link from Upton’s MLB 2K12 ad to George Plimpton’s Mattel Intellivision spot.
  • Update: Adding this last bit from Mike Newman at Fangraphs

    … Before scouting Dodgers Rubby De La Rosa in person, a running joke with scouting contacts was that my radar gun must be broken because it had never registered a velocity above 96 MPH in a season and a half of lugging it around. I headed to Chattanooga knowing De La Rosa threw hard enough to surpass 96 MPH, but was not prepared for just how much harder he threw. Seeing a “seven” on the gun was impressive, but when he popped the mitt at “eight” and “nine” in succession, it became obvious De La Rosa’s fastball was in a different league than any I’d seen previously. (For those who are wondering, when a pitcher throws in the 90+ MPH range, scouts will drop the nine and refer to the pitch by its second digit.) And while I generally ignore stadium guns at all cost, seeing 101 MPH flash on the scoreboard was a first, and left onlookers buzzing in the stands.

    And while De La Rosa lacked command in the upper registers, the one 98 MPH fastball he located belt high on the inner half is seared into my scouting mind as it bored down and in on a right handed hitter to devastating effect. It was the single most dominant pitch I’ve seen live …

The Bronx prepares for Hiroki Kuroda

Alex Belth of Bronx Banter has a thorough, thoughtful, spare-no-effort piece on Hiroki Kuroda today.

Expanded playoffs could lower bar for Dodgers in 2012

Can the seventh-best team in the National League in 2011 become the fifth-best team in 2012?

  • Nothing’s official yet, but Bud Selig thinks the expansion of MLB’s playoffs to 10 teams could come this year, reports The Associated Press. “Under the new format, whenever it begins, the non-division winners in each league with the two best records will be the wild cards, meaning a third-place team could for the first time win the World Series.”
  • Today in Jon SooHoo: A contemplative Vin Scully inside the Green Monster at Fenway, 2004. (And from a couple days ago, here’s Scully interviewing Tommy Lasorda at Busch Stadium in the 1980s.)
  • Hiroki Kuroda talked to Dylan Hernandez of the Times at some length about leaving the Dodgers for the Yankees.
  • Paul DePodesta talked to MLB Clubhouse Confidential’s Brian Kenny about “Moneyball,” the Dodgers and his current team, the Mets.
  • The Mets could have the largest single-season payroll cut in MLB history – more than $50 million, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com.
  • Speaking of money: Here’s a yearly progression of the highest-paid player in baseball dating back to Nap Lajoie’s $6,200 salary in 1902, provided by William Juliano at Bronx Banter.
  • Juan Pierre, 34, has signed a minor-league deal with the Phillies, joining Scott Podsednik in the competition for a spot on their roster.  Something tells me that a .279 hitter in 639 at-bats with 27 steals would have gotten a better contract if evaluation methods in baseball hadn’t changed to de-emphasize batting average. His OPS+ was .657 and he was caught stealing 17 times.
  • Another former Dodger, Brad Penny, might be headed for Japan, reports Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. Penny, 34 in May, had a 5.30 ERA in 31 starts and 181 2/3 innings for Detroit in 2011.
  • Noted by Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports: If Ryan Braun’s 50-game suspension is upheld, his first 2012 game would be May 31 at Dodger Stadium. It’s a weekday afternoon game.
  • This year, Stanford may well have first pair of classmates picked first in both the NFL and MLB drafts: quarterback Andrew Luck and pitcher Mark Appel, writes Jack Blanchat of the Stanford Daily.
  • Some of you might find this interesting: According to this MediaPost story by Mark Walsh, ESPN now feels that “instead of determining how to shoehorn its programming from traditional media to mobile platforms, the process is now reversed, with mobile becoming the starting point.”
  • Maybe the craziest collection of trick shots you’ll ever see is in this video, which is kicked off by Don Mattingly and his son Preston.
  • Even crazier … this IHOP commercial from 1969 (via Emma Span).
  • Farewell, Robert Hegyes. Hegyes wrote about his “Welcome Back, Kotter” experience at his website. Groucho Marx and Lucille Ball were fans.

* * *

The deadline is fast approaching, but there are still spots open to play in TheLFP.com Softball Tournament on February 11 at Big League Dreams in West Covina, where readers of Dodger blogs will play with and against each other. Sign up and be part of the fun.

Shots at Kuroda undeserved

Some online have criticized Hiroki Kuroda for joining an East Coast team this winter after refusing to approve a trade to an East Coast team last summer. Those criticisms are way off the mark.

There’s a big difference between making your own decision to go east after months of deliberations, as opposed to being forced to do so at a moment’s notice, against your will.

In November 2010, Kuroda signed a contract in good faith to pitch in Los Angeles in 2011 and made clear his intention of how important it was to him to be in Los Angeles by negotiating a no-trade clause. Now, some would fault him for not volunteering to leave the team he signed with – not to mention his family – behind.

This is a pretty bizarre loyalty test, where you’re required to make a sacrifice for a team that, the minute you make the sacrifice, is no longer your team. I don’t know where the idea that he owed the Dodgers something comes from.

Trading Kuroda for prospects would have helped the Dodgers. So would Kuroda and all his teammates playing for free. It doesn’t mean they’re lesser people for choosing not to do so. It doesn’t mean that Kuroda didn’t have valid reasons for staying.

Those of you who are employed – would you accept a sudden and immediate transfer to a completely different company, across the country, even when you didn’t want to go, only because it would help the company you were previously working for?

New York Hirokee


John Cordes/Icon SMIESPN.com sources report that the New York Yankees signed Hiroki Kuroda today for $10 million.

No analysis, just a reluctant farewell to a pitcher of whom I was extremely fond.

Dodgers reportedly to sign Capuano


Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesChris Capuano

The Hiroki Kuroda era has all but ended in Los Angeles, with the Dodgers agreeing to terms with 33-year-old lefthander Chris Capuano on a two-year contract worth a total of $10 million, according to Jim Bowden and Jayson Stark of ESPN.

Capuano should be replacing the Jon Garland spot in the Dodger rotation, which in turn became the Rubby De La Rosa and Nathan Eovaldi slot. But all recent signs from Ned Colletti have indicated that the Dodgers don’t have the budget to sign two free-agent pitchers, which would mean that Capuano would replace Kuroda, with Eovaldi competing with your Dana Eveland types for the No. 5 spot.

The only reason I’m not sure about this is the possibility of Capuano and Kuroda salaries being weighted to future years to fit them both into the 2012 payroll.

Capuano is more than three years younger than Kuroda, and though he is bouncing back after missing 2008 and 2009 because of Tommy John surgery, he is not of Kuroda’s caliber, even given the likelihood of Kuroda declining in 2012 at age 37. Capuano’s career-best adjusted ERA of 113, achieved five years ago, ranks below Kuroda’s average for his major-league career.

The bright side for Capuano is that he struck out 8.1 batters per nine innings in 2011 with the Mets, but that went with 256 baserunners and 27 homers allowed in 198 innings. His ERA was 4.55; his fielding-independent ERA was 4.04. In 31 starts last season, he had 14 quality starts.

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