Dodger Thoughts

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

Tag: Justin Sellers (Page 1 of 2)

Nine surprising Opening Day starters for the Dodgers

Luis Cruz greets Justin Sellers during Opening Day introductions in 2013. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Luis Cruz greets Justin Sellers during 2013 Opening Day introductions. (Photos by Jon SooHoo)

Vicente Padilla allowed seven runs in 4 1/3 innings on Opening Day 2010. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Vicente Padilla allowed seven runs in 4 1/3 innings on Opening Day 2010.

By Jon Weisman

Every spring, there’s tons of edge-of-your-laptop anticipation over who will start for the Dodgers on Opening Day, even if it won’t mean much by the end of that year, month, week or game.

Going back 30 years, here are nine of the most eccentric picks for the Dodgers’ season-opening lineups. Do you remember them all? They’re each peculiar yet lovable in their own way …

Read More

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

 

 

March 2 pregame: Who plays center in Kemp’s absence?

Los Angeles Dodgers @ Milwaukee Brewers

Padres vs. Dodgers, 12:05 p.m.
Yasiel Puig, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Juan Uribe, 3B
Joc Pederson, LF
Tim Federowicz, C
Alex Guerrero, 2B
Justin Turner, DH
(Josh Beckett, P)

By Jon Weisman

One of the intriguing questions for the Dodgers this spring, with Matt Kemp likely to start the season on the disabled list, is which of the remaining outfielders will play center field. Today, Yasiel Puig is the middleman, with Andre Ethier lining up in right. Come March 22, we’ll see.

Joc Pederson (pictured above), who would be a center-field candidate should the Dodgers have the unfortunate event of multiple outfield injuries, is in left field today.

Puig is also batting leadoff for the first time in 2014 Cactus League play. After Josh Beckett makes his spring debut on the mound, Paul Maholm, Stephen Fife, Sam Demel and Daniel Moskos are scheduled to follow.

In other pregame news:

  • Justin Sellers, who was designated for assignment February 22 after Erisbel Arruebarruena was signed, has been traded to Cleveland for cash considerations.
  • Nothing definitive has been announced on Zack Greinke, but the Dodgers’ cautious approach to his right calf issue is decreasing his chances of going to Australia, as Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. writes.
  • Ross Stripling is meeting with doctors this afternoon to go over the results of his MRI, the Dodgers said.
  • Chad Billingsley had what is being termed “normal” soreness after throwing breaking balls for the first time in nearly 11 months, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Billingsley plans to include cutters in his next bullpen session Tuesday.
  • Pedro Baez, Nick Buss, Jose Dominguez, Tim Federowicz, Stephen Fife, Onelki Garcia, Yimi Garcia, Javy Guerra, Matt Magill, Jarrett Martin, Paco Rodriguez, Seth Rosin, Dee Gordon, Scott Van Skyke and Chris Withrow have signed their 2014 contracts, the Dodgers announced.
  • A GIF-filled review of Alex Guerrero’s initial efforts on defense is provided by Daniel Brim at Dodgers Digest.
  • Former Dodger reliever Guillermo Mota has reportedly retired, according to Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star (via MLB Trade Rumors). In two separate stints with the Dodgers, Mota had a 2.79 ERA with a 1.126 WHIP and 7.3 K/9 in 294 innings.

Potential of fast return for Billingsley affected roster move

Los Angeles Dodgers workout at Camelback Ranch-Glendale
By Jon Weisman

When the Dodgers signed Erisbel Arruebarrena, they could have put Chad Billingsley on the 60-day disabled list and still had him ready to be active in mid-May.

That they chose instead to designate Justin Sellers for assignment was widely interpreted as a positive sign about how close Billingsley is to returning to action.

From Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A.:

… “We’re not prepared yet to put a timetable exceeding 60 days for Chad,” said general manager Ned Colletti.

Billingsley threw another bullpen session on Saturday, and said his arm still feels as good as it did coming in to camp. He is still limited to throwing no faster than 85 mph, but those restrictions will likely be relaxed soon and Billingsley will be allowed to throw curve balls as early as next week. …

… He plans to begin a minor league rehab assignment once the season opens in early April. Even if he needs five minor league starts, that earmarks a major league return for Billingsley in early May, which explains why he wasn’t placed on the 60-day DL. …

When he does return, Billingsley would theoretically enter a starting pitcher mix that includes veterans Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dan Haren, Josh Beckett and Paul Maholm, as well as the members of an emerging prospect class. (Maholm, by the way, threw a bullpen session without discomfort today, writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com).

In the meantime, now entering DFA limbo is Sellers, last year’s surprise Opening Day shortstop. Over the next 10 days, he could be traded, claimed on waivers or clear waivers and eventually return to the Dodger organization.

Dodgers officially sign Erisbel Arruebarrena

By Jon Weisman

Defensive infield whiz Erisbel Arruebarrena has inked a five-year contract with the Dodgers, becoming the latest Cuban expatriate to join the organization.

In a corresponding move, the Dodgers designated infielder Justin Sellers for assignment. Sellers had a .278 on-base percentage and .301 slugging in 266 plate appearances with the Dodgers.

Arruebarrena, 23, was a teammate of  Yasiel Puig with Cienfuegos in 2010-11.

“We are excited to sign Erisbel, who we’ve scouted in international competition for a long time.” said Dodger vice president of international scouting Bob Engle. “He brings another superb glove to our organization.”

Added general manager Ned Colletti: “Signing Arruebarrena gives us another very good middle infielder, who is an outstanding defender. It continues our efforts internationally to add talent that can positively affect the Major League club – be it immediately or in the very near future.”

Arruebarrena’s last name is shorter than Todd Hollandsworth, 13 to 12, but his first and last together top the former Dodger Rookie of the Year, 19-16.

Mark Ellis powers Dodgers, 7-2, after Kershaw struggles

What can baseball do?

Baseball can give you joy when you can imagine only sadness.

It can also give you the reverse, but enough about last week with the Dodgers. This is this week.

For two consecutive games, the Dodgers have won when you would have thought they would lose. They won when Chad Billingsley was unable to start Sunday, and they won in New York, 7-2, after an uncharacteristic disintegration by Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday.

Kershaw, to be fair, only allowed two runs, but it was shocking how it happened. Twelve pitches in into the third inning, 39 pitches into the game, Kershaw had retired all eight batters he had faced and had a 1-2 count on an emergency relief pitcher making his first career plate appearance. Moments later, he was trailing 2-1 and barely escaping a bases-loaded jam with a Marlon Byrd groundout, and after two more innings and 111 total pitches – matching the most he has ever thrown in the majors without reaching the sixth inning – his night was over. It was the second consecutive outing in which an opposing pitcher ended a perfect start by Kershaw.

Photos by Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Fortunately for the Dodgers, Mark Ellis has shown up like a combination of Florence Nightengale and the Tooth Fairy. Ellis, who Sunday drove in the Dodgers’ first three runs and also made a critical defensive play, all but singlehandedly put the Dodgers on his back Tuesday, with a game-tying home run in the fifth inning – the 100th of his career – and then a leap-from-your-seat three-run blast with two out in the seventh to put Los Angeles ahead to stay. (Not for nothing, Ellis also knocked out Mets starter Jonathon Niese in the third inning with a hard shot up the middle.)

Ellis’ second home run, as Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. noted, made him only the third Dodger second baseman in a century and first in 39 years with four hits and two homers in a game. The 35-year-old (how can such a veteran’s veteran be 10 years younger than me) himself has now thrice homered twice in a game. I also dare say that you won’t find another night in history when Dodger and Angel second basemen each hit two home runs, including tiebreaking homers for both, but I leave you the research challenge.

Not to be lost amid Ellis’ glory is the day Justin Sellers had – three hits, including an RBI single in the second and another coming ahead of Ellis’ second homer. (Juan Uribe drew a walk to keep that inning alive.) After starting the season 0 for 13, Sellers is 11 for 37 with a homer and five walks in his past 12 games (.409 on-base percentage, .378 slugging) and hasn’t made an error since his unfortunate second game of 2013. As hot as Dee Gordon has been at the plate in Albuquerque, Sellers has allowed the Dodgers to remove the yellow caution tape around shortstop.

A.J. Ellis doubled in two insurance runs in the eighth and now leads all major-league catchers with a .446 on-base percentage and NL catchers with a 159 adjusted OPS, and not because the pitcher is batting behind him – he has batted no lower than seventh except for in the third game of the season. Matt Kemp had two more hits and is now 17 for his past 55 (.309) with four doubles, as MLB.com noted, while Andre Ethier doubled ahead of A.J. to slow a 2-for-25 slump.

In addition, the topsy-turvy Dodger bullpen of 2013 has gone back to topsy, pitching at least four innings of shutout ball for the second consecutive game, sparked by a comeback performance by struggling Ronald Belisario (three batters, three outs on 15 pitches, 12 for strikes).

Los Angeles is now 9-4 when it isn’t losing six games in a row. Joy and sadness, that’s our game. With Ted Lilly against Matt Harvey tonight, it figures to be more of the same.

Player of the game: Juan Uribe

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers (April 6, 2013)

Juan Uribe didn’t have a hit this season, but when things threatened to get out of hand in the first inning for the Hyun-Jin Ryu and the Dodgers, Uribe made a diving stop to rob Michael McKenry of a double that would have given Pittsburgh a 3-0 lead.

Instead, Uribe turned a force play, sparing Ryu a possible first-inning beating, and the Dodgers rallied for a 6-2 victory, giving them a sweep of Pittsburgh for the second April in a row.

Ryu (2.13 ERA) went 6 1/3 innings, allowing a two-run homer by Andrew McCutchen but only two baserunners after the first inning. Suddenly hot-hitting Adrian Gonzalez went 3 for 4 with four RBI, Nick Punto reached base three times and Justin Sellers ended his season-opening 0-fer with a solo blast.

Ronald Belisario allowed the Dodger bullpen’s first hit of the season, but Pittsburgh never struck back after the heroic Uribe saved the day.

Marching toward April

Feeling Opening Day excitement and the writing bug late on a Saturday …

• I’m reasonably excited about this year’s Dodger team, but part of that is a perverse excitement about just how bad on offense that left side of the infield might be, at least while Hanley Ramirez is out. That makes the decision to go with Justin Sellers fun for kicks, however dubious. Still, I have always liked the idea of emphasizing defense where offense isn’t an option.

• It only just now occurred to me that I was in the stands last year at the game in which Sellers was hurt and the one in which Dee Gordon was hurt.

• Do you realize this will no doubt be the fourth consecutive year that Kenley Jansen isn’t the Opening Day closer but eventually moves into that role?

• One thing I don’t miss about baseball season is the whining whenever a save gets blown, as if it should never happen. Heaven knows, though, it will happen.

• Carl Crawford has me excited. Truly didn’t think he’d be ready this fast, but this is the one case where I’m allowing myself to be swept away by past success and heady Spring Training numbers.

• I think lingering effects of his labrum injury will keep Matt Kemp below 25 home runs this year, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be productive.

• At first, I thought that with no true right-handed outfielder in reserve, the Dodgers would need to keep Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier spaced out in their lineup, or lefty relievers will just crush the team. But Gonzalez has had success against left-handers, so that helps. It’s still not necessarily a bad idea to insert a right-hander between them, though – as long as it’s a decent one.

• My initial plan for any free writing time that emerged this spring was that I would spend it offline on a long-term project. I did begin work on that project early this month, but with baseball season starting, I’m wavering. What might happen is a mix, where I post on Dodger Thoughts not infrequently, but not comprehensively. The risk is feeling like I’m doing both things halfway.

• Another intervening factor in my life is that Youngest Master Weisman, now 5, is six days away from his first T-ball season, and he is raring to go. (His team: the Tigers.) After playing with a pretend ball inside the house several times, we made it out to the park for the first time, and he was knocking balls through the infield and reaching the grass. Also in the past day, I’ve begun trying to teach him how to scoop balls on defense. It’s crazy.

• Older brother Young Master Weisman, now 8 1/2, took a few swings, but piano is his game. He’s composing his own material for his May recital performance. Young Miss Weisman, a whopping 10 1/2, is also wonderful on the keys.

Hairston activated as Sellers joins DL-go-round

Astros at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Kershaw CXXVI: Kershaw I Met Your Mother

Tony Gwynn Jr., CF
Elian Herrera, 2B
Bobby Abreu, LF
Andre Ethier, RF
Jerry Hairston Jr., 3B
James Loney, 1B
A.J. Ellis, C
Dee Gordon, SS
Clayton Kershaw, P

Jerry Hairston Jr. makes a welcome return from the disabled list and into the Dodger starting lineup tonight.

His roster spot is being vacated by Justin Sellers, who is suffering from the unpleasantness of a bulging disc. Hariston and Elian Herrera will serve as the backups at shortstop, though neither has much familiarity with the position of late.

Hairston to the disabled list

Rockies at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Dee Gordon, SS
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Bobby Abreu, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
James Loney, 1B
Matt Treanor, C
Chris Capuano, P

Jerry Hairston Jr., the Dodgers’ third-most valuable position player this season according to Baseball Prospectus, has gone on the disabled list (retroactive to May 7).

Justin Sellers has been recalled for his second stint with the 2012 club.

Ned Colletti talks about 2012

Dodger general manager Ned Colletti gave a long interview to Jim Bowden for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Some highlights:

…Matt Kemp is a priority, and I plan on getting with his agent, Dave Stewart, and will work diligently in trying to work out a long-term deal with Matt. There is some urgency because he’ll be a free agent at the end of the 2012 season if they don’t sign him long term now. Clayton Kershaw’s situation is not as urgent because he’s only first-time arbitration eligible and won’t be a free agent until after the 2014 season. That doesn’t mean we won’t have conversations and listen, and if we can make a deal that makes sense, we will be open to it — but not with the same urgency as Kemp.

… We will entertain signing (Andre Ethier) as well, but he’s coming off an injury and a subpar season. … I am not inclined to trade any player that is a key player to our major league club right now, and he fits that category.

… We really need a middle-of-the-lineup impact bat, which would be a very key component to us winning next year. We need to figure out second base. Carroll and Miles are free agents. Right now we have the two young players in Sellers and Ivan DeJesus that we might let compete for that job next year. We need to figure out left field as well, but we’re leaning towards Jerry Sands, especially after the way he finished this season with us. Behind the plate, we’ll probably let Tim Federowicz and A.J. Ellis handle the duties. They are both good catch-and-throw receivers. If Federowicz can hit .240 with some power, he can be an everyday catcher.

… And finally, although we’re pleased with our deep young bullpen, we’d still be open to signing another veteran reliever, but that would be a low priority based on our other team needs.

… We have a need in the middle of our lineup, and if we could do the right deal with a player in terms of duration and money, we would be willing to do it. We have flexibility if we keep catcher, second base, shortstop and left field as non-arbitration eligible players like we have now, then it is definitely possible that we could afford to spend the money on a significant middle-of-the-order bat.

… Kuroda has bought a house in Los Angeles and both of his daughters go to school here. He is an extremely loyal person to both the Dodgers and the city of Los Angeles and really doesn’t want to play anywhere else. We hope he decides to stay here because he’s a very important part of our rotation and clubhouse.

… Our best prospects in our system right now are mostly pitching prospects, led by Zach Lee, who pitched at the Midwest league this past season but has a chance to be special. Allen Webster and Shawn Tolleson are two other top pitching prospects. Tolleson was our minor league pitcher of the year and a close friend of Clayton Kershaw. Steve Ames is another bullpen arm that we could see as early as next season. Chris Lee, our first round pick from Stanford, of course, is also special, and we’re going to try to develop him as a starter.

… We’re a lot closer to winning than people realize. If we had gotten just the typical offensive contributions this year from James Loney, Andre Ethier and Juan Uribe, who knows how many games we could have won. But injuries and subpar seasons are just part of the game. If we can make a few key moves this offseason and solve some of the question marks on this team that we’ve just been talking about, I really believe this club can finish in first in 2012.

There’s more, so be sure to read the whole interview, as well as Tony Jackson’s five key offseason questions and Ramona Shelburne’s own interview with Colletti.

Also, don’t miss the Kamenetzky Brothers’ podcast with “Breaking Bad” star and longtime Dodger fan Bryan Cranston.

Remembering 2011: Justin Sellers


Kirby Lee/US PresswireJustin Sellers

The setup: With the Dodgers, his third organization as a minor-leaguer, Sellers began working his way onto the radar in 2010, when the shortstop hit 14 home runs in 288 at-bats with Albuquerque. He performed similarly in 2011, knocking 14 homers in 270 at-bats for the Isotopes while increasing his on-base percentage to .400. When Rafael Furcal’s replacement, 23-year-old homegrown prospect Dee Gordon, went on the disabled list on August 11, the 25-year-old Sellers got the proverbial break he was looking for.

The closeup: Sellers made an impression quickly, not just with his everywhere-you-look tattoos but with a home run in his third major-league game, after which he gave a memorable postgame TV interview while holding his 2-year-old daughter in his arms. During Gordon’s three-week absence, Sellers started 16 games at shortstop with a .714 OPS, while looking reliable and occasionally acrobatic in the field. Rather quickly, support began to build for the idea that Sellers could become the Dodgers’ starting second baseman next to Gordon in 2012, or at least a replacement for utility infielder extraordinaire Jamey Carroll.

Unlike several other Dodger rookies, however, Sellers suffered through a miserable September. He went 9 for 60 with a .227 on-base percentage and a .217 slugging percentage, and needed to go 2 for 4 in the season finale just to reach those heights. He finished 2011 with a .283 on-base percentage and .301 slugging percentage in 139 plate appearances.

Coming attractions: The Dodger infield is in flux, with Gordon arguably the only current member of the 40-man roster assured of a starting job. Casey Blake is likely gone, no one’s quite sure of what will happen with James Loney, and Don Mattingly has indicated that even Juan Uribe needs to prove himself. Carroll and Aaron Miles are free agents, but even if both returned, a bench role could be Sellers’ market. But thanks to his final-month performance, he would appear to be more of a fallback option than one at the forefront, and certainly an unlikely choice to be a starter Opening Day.

August 15 game chat

As we wait for the third-place Los Angeles Dodgers to take the field …

  • Beating victim Brian Stow is making what his doctors say is “significant” improvement, according to The Associated Press, but his ultimate prognosis remains unclear.
  • Sweep or no sweep, Evan Bladh of Opinion of Kingman’s Performance is jealous of the Houston Astros for stockpiling prospects.
  • Matt Kemp guested on the Dan Patrick Show today – Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy passes along the link. Kemp said that “of course” he wants to stay with the Dodgers.
  • In case you missed it Sunday, catch up with Tony Jackson’s warm piece on Dodger shortstop Justin Sellers at ESPNLosAngeles.com.
  • Kind of a fascinating story from Joshua Prager in the New York Times about former Dodger Ralph Branca discovering his heritage.

Just another day in paradise: Dodgers sweep Astros


Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesThe crowd encouraged Justin Sellers to take a curtain call today after his first career home run.

Those involved in the study of contrasts got their Ph. Ds this week if they were following the Dodgers, who followed being swept by the team with the best record in baseball (Philadelphia) with an easy stomping of the team with the worst, Houston.

Today’s 7-0 victory meant the Dodgers held the Astros scoreless in 27 of 28 innings, outscoring them 14-1 and almost matching the three consecutive shutouts Los Angeles threw July 7-9.

Hiroki Kuroda pitched seven shutout innings, striking out six against seven baserunners, three of whom were eliminated by double plays. The highlight was James Loney’s leaping catch of a Carlos Lee line drive, which Loney turned into an unassisted twin-killing. The third double-play came on Kuroda’s 106th pitch of the game and lowered his ERA to 2.88.

Matt Kemp homered for the second game in a row to tie his career high of 28, while Justin Sellers hit his first major-league homer in his third game, a three-run shot in the sixth. Dioner Navarro also homered, as the Dodgers hit a season-high three home runs for the fifth time this season.

Loney singled twice and walked, while Kemp, Navarro and Aaron Miles each reached base twice. Sellers had a nice moment on the Prime Ticket postgame show, taking a shaving-cream pie with grace, then holding his 2-year-old daughter as he completed his interview.

Sellers will start tonight after promotion

Justin Sellers has officially become the 46th member of the 2011 Los Angeles Dodgers, replacing the disabled Dee Gordon. Sellers is making his major-league debut tonight.

Sellers, 25, has a .400 on-base percentage and .537 slugging percentage for Triple-A Albuquerque this season, after going ..371/.497 in 2010. His road OPS this season, however, is .668.

Elsewhere:

  • Chris Reed’s deal with the Dodgers was made official today, and he’ll be introduced to fans at the ballpark tonight. Here’s the newbie.
  • Former Dodger Mike Marshall (the second) and former Angel Tony Phillips brawled, and Steve Dilbeck of the Times has posted video.
  • Just when you least expect it, a Ronald Belisario update, from Evan Bladh at Opinion of Kingman’s Performance.
  • Good news on the health front from fellow baseball writer Dave Cameron, accompanied by the best Win Probability chart ever.
  • For any of you with kids or interested in a fun animated show, I’ll be moderating a panel on the Disney Channel series “Fish Hooks” on Saturday at the Paley Center in Beverly Hills. That panel’s preceded by one on “Phineas and Ferb,” moderated by my former Variety colleague Michael Schneider.

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén