Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dodgers sign RHP Vicente Padilla

In a move that is a direct result of Hiroki Kuroda getting nailed in the head with a line drive last weekend, the Dodgers have signed former Ranger, Phillie and Diamondback Vicente Padilla to a minor league deal. The Dodgers will only have to pay approximately $100,000 as part of the prorated veterans minimum.

Padilla has good stuff... well, had good stuff. He's turned into a very hittable pitcher and playing in the Rangers' launching pad didn't help matters. But there's one thing that has been consistent of Padilla throughout his career: He is a Grade-A douche bag.

Case and point: August 5 at Oakland, Padilla's last game as a Ranger, he hit Kurt Suzuki with a pitch after giving up a two-run home run to Scott Hairston. Two innings later, A's starter Chad Reineke beaned Rangers All-Star Michael Young. The camera switched to a shot of Padilla in the bullpen... laughing. He was laughing about Young being hit! What a joke! I'm sure Manny Ramirez, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp are ecstatic about this move.

This is nothing new for Padilla. He's notorious for hitting batters -- he led the American League with 17 HBP in 2006 and had 15 last season.

I know the Dodgers need SP depth and this about the best they could do at this time in the season. And I'm not one to harp on the "chemistry" issue, but I really hope Padilla doesn't upset the flow of the clubhouse.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Dodger trip

I recently returned from beautiful Southern California from what is quickly becoming my annual So Cal/Dodger trip. I went to the game on Saturday night, putting my in-person six-game winning streak on the line.

I had the absolute privilege of watching Clayton Kershaw pitch, and pitch he did. Kershaw went seven innings, allowing two hits, one walk and 10 strikeouts. It was a flat-out dominant performance. It's too bad the offense didn't show up.

The game went to the 10th inning in a scoreless tie. Guillermo Mota, who has pitched so well for the last couple of months, gave up a two-run home run to Braves' 2B Kelly Johnson. The Dodgers tried to rally, getting an Andre Ethier RBI double in the bottom half, only to have Matt Kemp ground out to end the game, a 2-1 loss for the Dodgers. The Blue had plenty of chances, but just couldn't cash in.

Despite the loss, it was still a great experience. I absolutely love Dodger Stadium. I wish I could live there. It is traditional, the seats were great and the Dodger Dogs can't be beat.

The Dodgers are scuffling a bit recently, which was bound to happen. As long as they get back on track by October, it'll be OK.

Go Blue!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Clayton Kershaw, ace

Before last night's rough outing against Milwaukee, Clayton Kershaw had been one of the best pitchers in the Majors since May. Even with the hiccup, he still has been one of the best pitchers over the last few of months. Kershaw is going through a similar progression as Chad Billingsley, but he's actually further along than Billingsley was at the same point of their respective careers.

Kershaw's Line from May 1 - July 29:
8-3 W-L
1.81 ERA
99 2/3 IP
91 Strikeouts
1.18 WHIP
.187 BAA

These are some superb numbers, and it couldn't come at a better time for the Dodgers. It seems once Kershaw picked it up, Billingsley hit a rough stretch.

Billingsley's Line from June 1 - July 29:
4-3 W-L
5.29 ERA
64 2/3 IP
55 Strikeouts
1.41 WHIP
.252 BAA

However, Billingley's outing on Sunday Night Baseball is very encouraging. He threw five scoreless innings, walking one and striking out nine before having to leave early with hamstring cramping. He will be OK to make his next start.

If the Dodgers can get these two guys on track at the same time, then the inability to land an ace before the trade deadline will be an afterthought. However, doom and gloomers like The Los Angeles Times' Bill Plashcke, perhaps the worst columnist in the country, thinks otherwise. But he's a tool who inexplicably still has a job. But that's another topic for another time.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Andre Ethier, Manny Ramirez and the effect

Many say myths exist about great hitters making other hitters better, especially when the hitter in question hits in front of the superstar. For the sake of my argument, I'm talking about Andre Ethier and Manny Ramirez. After Ethier's leadoff HR in the sixth inning of today's game against the Braves, I got to thinking about what kind of effect Manny has really had on Mr. Ethier.

Since acquiring Ramirez on July 31, 2008, he has done nothing but help improve Ethier's overall numbers. This breakdown is of every game Ethier has played while Ramirez was in the lineup -- either hitting directly in front of Manny or when Manny was in the lineup since August 1, 2008:

Ramirez in the lineup and Ethier not hitting directly in front of him (66 games):

.309 AVG (75-243)
.411 OBP
.547 SLG
.958 OPS
46 Runs
18 2B
2 3B
12 HR
41 RBI
40:34 BB:K Ratio

Ramirez in the lineup and Ethier hitting directly in front of him (28 games):

.398 AVG (47-118)
463 OBP
.737 SLG
1.200 OPS
29 Runs
9 2B
2 3B
9 HR
28 RBI
15:22 BB:K Ratio

Here are Ethier's career numbers batting second

It's obvious that, despite the smaller sample size, Ethier enjoys more success while hitting directly in front of Ramirez. However, his numbers since the Manny acquisition aren't too shabby by themselves. So, Mr. Torre, please do not remove Ethier from the second spot in the lineup, as it can only benefit the Dodgers when Ethier is hitting out of his mind.