Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What's gotten into the Dodgers? Plus other news

The Dodgers are playing their best ball of the season. Too bad it's nearly September and the Dodgers have zero shot at the playoffs.

In the last week, Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp have proven they're two of the best players in the National League. Kershaw is battling Roy Halladay for the Cy Young while Kemp is battling the likes of Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Justin Upton for NL MVP honors.

We all heard about the Andre Ethier drama. That's where I'll leave it.

James Loney's resurgence and Justin Sellers' emergence have also played a big role in the team's turnaround.

However, all this winning is really hurting the team's draft stock. If the season ended today, the Dodgers would have the 14th overall pick in the draft. The team is also on the verge of losing first-round pick protection, as the top 15 teams in the draft would not have to forfeit their first-round pick if they signed a Type-A free agent. Of course, we know the Dodgers likely will not sign any Type-A free agents with the ownership in flux, but on the off chance it happens, the pick needs to be protected.

Now, I'm not saying the Dodgers should throw the rest of the season to get a higher draft pick, but the Dodgers should throw the rest of the season to get a higher draft pick.

(I'm half-kidding)

There's still a month left in the season, so who knows what'll happen. If they somehow finish above .500, I'd be shocked.


It seems Justin Sellers can play a little ball. In his first 18 games, he has a .254/.333/.381 line with an impressive eight walks and 15 runs scored. He's not a franchise-changing prospect, but he has a chance to be a solid utility player, ala Jamey Carroll. Sellers' defense at short is solid and should have a spot on the Dodgers' 2012 roster.


Speaking of Carroll, the Dodgers pulled him off waivers after the Braves claimed him earlier today. I said back in July the Dodgers should have traded him, but I can (somewhat) understand why they didn't. With Sellers' emergence, Dee Gordon set to come back any day and Ivan DeJesus ready to get the call, there was really no reason not to ship Carroll to Atlanta for a chance at the playoffs.

Jamey Carroll, untouchable.


Angelo Songco and Scott Van Slyke continue to mash at Rancho Cucamonga and Chattanooga, respectively. Songco hit his 27th home run last night and has a California League-leading 293 total bases (45 doubles, 4 triples, 27 home runs). This is most encouraging after his dismal finish to 2010.

Van Slyke is poised to win the Southern League MVP award, posting a .346/.422/.596 line with 20 home runs, 44 doubles and 267 total bases. He is 25 and in Double-A, but he could have a legitimate chance to be the Dodgers' Opening Day starter in left field or at first base in 2012.


Since his return from sports hernia surgery, Quakes' outfielder Blake Smith has picked up where he left off. He's hitting .458/.500/.708 with one home run, three doubles and five runs scored in six games. I'm higher on Smith than most because of his power potential and defense. He should get a shot in Double-A in 2012.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Most disappointing 2011 Dodgers' hitters and pitchers

In the final part of most surprising and disappointing series, we look at the most disappointing Dodgers' hitters and pitchers.

This list will have no trouble being populated, as this has been one of the most disappointing seasons in the last 20 years.

The most disappointing person in the organization, obviously, is Frank McCourt. But myself and hundreds of others have wasted too much time and too many words on this joke of an owner.

But the play on the field has been so poor that it almost overshadows the debacle that is Frank McCourt.

Most disappointing hitters

1. Andre Ethier
- Ethier started 2010 off on fire and looked like he was about to take full advantage of his prime years. Then he fractured his pinkie and he wasn't the same hitter. He still finished with a .292/.364/.493 line with 23 home runs, 82 RBI and 33 doubles. He had a nice start to 2011, including a 30-game hitting streak. However, there's been a complete power outage from Ethier. He has 10 home runs and 28 doubles, good for a .411 slugging percentage. Most of his traditional numbers are in line with his career numbers, except for the power.

He is hitting ground balls at a career-high rate (1.45 GB/FB, 44.3 GB percent), but he's also hitting line drives at a rate, 25.1 percent (sixth-best in baseball), bested only once in his career (2008, 26.6 percent). He is struggling mightily against sliders this season, as his Slider Runs Above Average (wSL) is at -9.1, which is third-worst in the majors.

And now he tells The L.A. Times' T.J. Simers that he'll need off-season knee surgery, which could explain his second-half slump and season-long power disappearance.

2. James Loney
- We all know Loney is never going to become a 20-home run hitter -- well, unless he plays in Colorado or Arizona for half the season -- but he was expected to do a lot more than he has this season. As was the case with Leon Landry, Loney is on a hot streak right now, including hitting the game-tying home run yesterday. His batting average is as high as it's been since July 8 (.274) and his on-base percentage is as high as it's been since July 5 (.323). His slugging percentage is as high as it's been all season, save for the first game. He's not even hitting doubles this season (17 in 423 ABs). That's how bad it's been for Loney this season. His .694 OPS isn't going to cut it from first base, no matter how good his defense is. The Dodgers were expecting -- and needed -- more from Loney in 2011.

3. Casey Blake
- It's kind of hard to be disappointed in a 38-year-old guy who should be a part-time player, but I'm a little down on The Beard. Even in his limited time, he hasn't put up good numbers: .254/.345/.371 in 61 games. The on-base percentage is good, but like Ethier and Loney before him, the power is all but gone. He has nine doubles, one triple and four home runs. His walk rate is back to his 2009 form (11.1 percent) and his strikeout rate is down just more than 4 percent from last season, but his Isolated Power (ISO, slugging - batting average) is down to .117 (.159 last season and .188 the two seasons before that). Blake's 2009 is a distant memory.

Now, I bet you're wondering why Juan Uribe isn't on this list. Well, I'm not saying I expected him to put up a .557 OPS, but I had a sneaking suspicion that he wouldn't come anywhere close to the 24 HRs he hit last season or the .824 OPS he put up in 2009. He is the worst free agent signing of the Ned Colletti era, and that's saying something considering this is the guy who signed the Jason Schmidt to a $47 million contract knowing full well he had a bum shoulder, Andruw Jones to an $18.1 million a year contract (thankfully only two years) and the noodle-armed wonder and out machine Juan Pierre to a 5-year deal.

Honorable mentions: Tony Gwynn, Dioner Navarro, Marcus Thames

Most disappointing pitchers

1. Hong-Chih Kuo
- A season ago, Kuo was an All-Star and arguably the best left-handed reliever in baseball. Now, he can't get anyone out without giving up a ton of runs in the process. His ERA is 10 runs higher than it was last season. That isn't a typo. He had a 1.20 ERA in 2010 and owns a 11.21 ERA in 2011. In fact, all his rate numbers are through the proverbial roof. All except his K/9, which is actually a career-best right now (13.2). He's dealt with injuries this season, but Kuo has never gotten on track. I wouldn't be surprised if he was non-tendered this off-season.

2. Jonathan Broxton
- Broxton caught a lot of heat last season for being a horrible pitcher after June 27. However, I was still in his corner and as expecting (hoping?) he'd be back to his previous form. He got a chance right off the bat. With a two-run lead, he gave up a solo home run to Pat Burrell but picked up the save. Some folks freaked out, some folks didn't. He started off the season with five consecutive saves (giving up a single run in two of those outings). He wasn't right physically, though, as his average velocity on all his pitches was down from previous years. His fastball clocked in at 94.1 MPH, his slider at 86.5 MPH and his changeup at 88 MPH. In fact, his velocity had been trending down since 2009. I was hoping a restful offseason would get him back on track, but it wasn't enough. He's been out since May 3 and isn't expected to pitch again this season. He might have thrown his last pitch for the Dodgers.

3. Chad Billingsley
- This spot could have gone to Ted Lilly, but I didn't expect Lilly to be all that good this season. I've always been a Billingsley backer, which is why it's tough to watch what he's doing this season. His peripherals aren't that out of sorts from his career numbers, but he's striking guys out at a career-low rate (7.5 K/9). In 2008, Billingsley had a 9.0 K/9 (201 strikeouts) and he's trended down every season since (8.2, 8.0, 7.5). I'm fine with him pitching more to contact, but coming off career-bests in WHIP, HR/9 and BB/9, I was expecting more out of Billingsley this season, especially after signing a long-term deal in Spring Training. He's a good No. 3 starter, but he'll likely not be the ace people were expecting back in 2006. He needs to throw more strikes to pitch deeper into games. He's at 6.12 IP/start, which isn't terrible, but could be better.

Honorable mentions: Lilly, Jon Garland, Vicente Padilla

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Most disappointing 2011 Dodgers' prospects

This is the third in a four-part series, this time looking at the most disappointing Dodgers' prospects.

This list will be populated by guys who were either hyped or high-round picks who just haven't gotten it together this season.

If these guys were to get on track, the Dodgers' system would be a lot better than it is right now. But not every prospect is going to pan out, so you have to account for that.

Most disappointing hitters

1. OF Jonathan Garcia
- Garcia showed a lot of promise in his first two seasons -- albeit in rookie ball. He had an .862 and .892 OPS the last two seasons. He started off on fire this season but has cooled off considerably. With the Loons, he has only a .736 OPS, but 49 of his 103 hits have been for extra bases (28 2B, 2 3B, 19 HR). His BB/K rate is bad right now: 32/125. That has to improve as he moves up the ladder. He is only 19 years old, so he's facing competition on average two years older than him.

2. OF Leon Landry
- Landry had the best debut of any Dodger 2010 draftee, hitting .349/.399/.510 for Ogden last season. He was my ninth-best prospect headed into the season, but he has struggled in the Midwest League. He's been on a tear of late, but his batting average has been in the upper-.230s to low-.250s all season. He's at .260/.317/.377 with four home runs, 21 doubles, 11 triples and 25 stolen bases. He's a candidate to bounce back in 2012 and I wouldn't be surprised to see him repeat Low-A before getting a promotion to Rancho.

3. OF Kyle Russell
- I've never been the biggest fan of Russell, but I penned a piece about him (and Nathan Eovaldi) earlier this season. At the time, he had a .909 OPS. His OPS was down to .847 before getting promoted to Albuquerque two days ago. Russell has power potential and good defense, so he should, at worst, be a bench player. But strikeouts continue to be a problem, as he's whiffing at a 36.3 percent clip. It's actually down from last season (37.6 percent), but it still doesn't bode well for his future success.

Honorable mentions: 3B Pedro Baez, OF/1B Brian Cavazos-Galvez, OF/1B Jerry Sands

Most disappointing pitchers

1. RHP Ethan Martin
- It's the same thing with Martin, who seems to be fairing much better as a reliever in Double-A than a starter in High-A. With the Lookouts, he has a 3.48 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 7.0 H/9, 9.6 K/BB in 31 innings. With the Quakes, he had a 7.36 ERA, 1.85 WHIP, 10.6 H/9, 10.0 K/9 in 55 innings. No matter what team he's pitched for, though, walks have still been an issue. He has a 5.8 BB/9 rate on the season. It's actually down from last season, but still not where it needs to be. The Dodgers should seriously look at converting him to third base because I doubt he'll ever throw enough strikes to be a decent Major League pitcher.

2. RHP Derek Cone
- It's kind of hard for a 31st-round draft pick to be disappointing, but Cone was considered a steal and a nice signing for the Dodgers. Cone struggled at all three of his stops in the minors this season -- those most with the Loons, where he posted a 5.68 ERA, 1.78 WHIP, 9.2 H/9 and a Martin-like 6.8 BB/9. He has all the talent to be a solid starting prospect. At 21, he still has time to figure things out.

3. RHP Matt Magill
- Magill was a personal favorite and put up solid numbers last season in the Midwest League. The California League hasn't been so kind to him (as expected by most). He had a 12-strikeout game a couple weeks ago, but he's been up and down overall. His 4.24 ERA is mediorce, but his 1.50 WHIP and 10.2 H/9 isn't going to cut it at any level. He's still just 21, so maybe moving to the Southern League in 2012 will help. His fringe fastball isn't going to be as effective unless he locates it well enough as he moves up through the minors.

Honorable mentions: LHP Aaron Miller, LHP Greg Wilborn, RHP Chris Withrow

Next up: Most disappointing Dodger hitters and pitchers (there is no shortage)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Most surprising 2011 Dodgers' hitters and pitchers

In the second of a four-part series, I look at the most surprising Los Angeles Dodgers' players. Yes it's only Aug. 25, but there isn't much left to be optimistic or happy about, so here's something to boost your spirits.

There are just a few candidates (literally, I'm having trouble coming up with three in this dismal season, but there have been some pleasant surprises.

Yesterday's list: Most surprising 2011 Dodgers' prospects

Most surprising position players

1. Matt Kemp
- We all know Kemp was good, but he's gone to another level this season. That, coupled with the fact he struggled mightily in 2010, makes him the clear-cut choice for No. 1 on this list. He has a legitimate shot at NL MVP this season, but the Dodgers' overall performance will probably prevent him from grabbing the award.

2. Aaron Miles
- Miles was a non-roster invite and somehow mad the team. Who am I kidding? He made it because he was scrappy and hustled -- you know, standard adjectives used to describe "small" ballplayers. His .287/.312/.370 line isn't overly impressive, but he's filled in admirably at second- and third base for the injured Juan Uribe and Casey Blake.

3. Juan Rivera
- The guy has only been on the team since July and his acquisition was not met with enthusiasm by myself, yet he makes this list. That should tell you how depressing and disappointing this season has been for the Blue. Rivera is one of only three players with an OPS greater than .800 (Kemp, Trent Oeltjen, in 66 plate-appearances). He starts at first base often against left-handed pitchers and has established himself as Kemp's protection in the lineup. He could be back next season, allowing Jerry Sands to play first base in James Loney's wake.

Honorable mentions: None

Most surprising pitchers

1. RHP Javy Guerra
- Guerra was second on yesterday's list and tops today's list. He's been one of the most consistent pitchers out of the 'pen and stepped up when Jonathan Broxton and Hong-Chih Kuo forgot how to pitch. He also stepped up when Kenley Jansen had a couple bad outings. He probably isn't as good as his numbers right now, but he could be a consistent, solid reliever in the majors as long as he keeps his control... under control.

2. LHP Scott Elbert
- Elbert has been a top prospect seemingly forever. He's been ranked in the Dodgers' Top 11 by Baseball America since 2005. He's finally put it together this season, posting a 2.88 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 8.6 K/9 and his most impressive stats, 2.9 BB/9 and 3.00 K/BB ratios. He should be a fixture in the Dodgers' bullpen for many years to come.

3. RHP Mike MacDougal
- Like Miles, MacDougal was a non-roster invite and while folks rip him for not being good -- which is legitimate because he isn't -- he's been a surprise. His 2.14 ERA is deceiving because his peripherals are terrible. He has a 1.51 WHIP, 8.9 H/9, 4.7 BB/9 and 1.33 K/BB ratio, which normally doesn't bode well for a pitcher. He's also allowed 37 percent of inherited runners to score, which is actually down from earlier in the season. For what MacDougal is, he's been a nice surprise.

Honorable mentions: Blake Hawksworth, Clayton Kershaw, Hiroki Kuroda, Josh Lindblom

Next up: Most disappointing 2011 Dodgers' prospects

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dodgers' Chris Reed has successful pro debut

The Dodgers' 2011 first-round pick Chris Reed, much maligned by myself and others, made his professional debut tonight for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes of the California League.

Reed, straight out of Standford University, was aggressively assigned to the hitter-friendly league. He struck out two Bakersfield hitters -- Andrew Means and Devin Lohman -- and gave up one hit in his two innings. He also committed an error that did not come back to haunt him.

It isn't often a guy who wasn't regarded as an elite prospect would start at such an advanced level of the minor leagues. For perspective, Dodgers' second-round pick Alex Santana began with the AZL Dodgers of the Arizona League while third-round pick Pratt Maynard stared with the Ogden Raptors of the Pioneer League.

It'll be interesting to see how many more appearances Reed makes the rest of the season. The Quakes have 12 games remaining after tonight's game, plus the Cal League playoffs.

So far, so good.

Most surprising 2011 Dodgers' prospects

This is the first in a series of most surprising and disappointing Dodgers' players and prospects.

The Dodgers' farm system was ranked higher than it had been in recent years, most notably by Baseball America. It ranked the system as the 12th-best in baseball after spending 2010 and 2009 ranked No. 21 and No. 23, respectively. That followed a four-year stretch of being ranked in the top six, including twice in the top two.

Some of the most notable minor-leaguers to help the 2011 ranking are Zach Lee, Rubby De La Rosa and Jerry Sands. Lee was drafted, De La Rosa broke out and Sands emerged as the team's best power-hitting prospect.

Here are my Top 3 most surprising Dodger hitting and pitching prospects.

Most surprising hitters

1. OF Alfredo Silverio
- I just wrote a long post on Silverio, but he heads the list of most surprising hitting prospects. Coming into the season, his prospect star had diminished. He put up an .809 OPS in the hitter-friendly California League, but he was seen as nothing more than a fifth outfielder -- at best -- by most. Despite his lack of plate discipline, he's a legitimate outfield prospect. He's hitting .306/.339/.545 in the Southern League, which is no easy feat. At 24 years old, he's a tad old for his competition, but he's faced some great pitchers in the league.

2. OF/1B Angelo Songco
- Like Silverio, I wrote a long post on Songco back in May after he hit for the cycle. Songco was hitting well in 2010 until August came 'round. He hit .195 in the season's final month to bring down his overall numbers. This season, however, has been different. He's been an extra-base hit machine, as he has 38 doubles, three triples and 25 home runs. While the Cal League is hitter-friendly, it's hard to argue with a .917 OPS. If the Dodgers didn't have such a logjam of outfielders, I suspect he would have been promoted a month ago. He's playing the rest of this season at first base, which potentially gives him a faster track to the majors.

3. 1B/OF Scott Van Slyke
- Van Slyke is most known for being the son of former Phillie and Pirate Andy Van Slyke. He made a name for himself in 2009, when he put up a .907 OPS, 23 home runs, 100 RBI and 42 doubles for the Cal League's Inland Empire 66ers. His 2010 season was disappointing. He started back in the Cal League before getting promoted Chattanooga. His OPS was .903 in High-A and .650 in Double-A. So, he took it upon himself to right his ship. He is in the Top 4 in the league in batting average (4th, .344), on-base percentage (4th, .424), slugging percentage (3rd, .577) and OPS (3rd, 1.001). He's second in total bases behind Silverio (243) and leads the league in doubles (42). He's played nearly equal time in the outfield and first base, so his future could be at either position.

Honorable mentions: O'Koyea Dickson, Gorman Erickson, Jamie Hoffmann, Jake Lemmerman, Joc Pederson

Most surprising pitchers

1. RHP Nathan Eovaldi
- Eovaldi is the clear No. 1 on this list. I had lost hope for him after his mediocre 2010 season. However, the 21-year-old took control in Double-A, earning himself a promotion to the Dodgers in August. His most impressive stat in Double-A is his 6.6 H/9 rate. His other numbers are more in line with his career (he's striking out more hitters, though). He's been solid in the majors, too: 2.05 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 6.5 H/9. His K/9 (5.7) and K/BB (1.4) could use a little work, though. He's bidding to be the Dodgers' top 2012 prospect.

2. RHP Javy Guerra
- If Eovaldi is the clear No. 1 here, then Guerra is the clear No. 2. His biggest issue was his control/command in the minors. He has a 7.3 BB/9 and 1.70 WHIP for Chattanooga last season. Despite those numbers, he put up a 2.33 ERA in 27 innings, so he was extremely lucky. He started 2011 much, much better: 2.6 BB/9, 0.76 WHIP in 17 innings. Those numbers, combined with a multitude of injuries, earned him an early-season call-up to the Dodgers, where he's taken firm grasp of the closer role after Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo and Kenley Jansen all falter and/or got hurt. He has a 2.27 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 8.2 H/9, 2.6 BB/9, 7.1 K/9, 2.78 K/BB and is 11-for-12 in save opportunities.

3. RHP Angel Sanchez
- Sanchez is doing his best De La Rosa impression by seemingly coming out of nowhere to establish himself as a legitimate prospect. And if not for the Major League success of Eovaldi and Guerra, Sanchez would head this list. The 21-year-old has a 2.57 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 5.9 H/9, 3.7 BB/9, 7.7 K/9 and 2.09 K/BB rate for the Great Lakes Loons in his debut season. He is already in my Top 10 and should get a promotion to Rancho Cucamonga next season. If he pitches well, he could find himself in Tennessee before too long, ala Allen Webster.

Honorable mentions: Scott Elbert, Garrett Gould, Josh Lindblom, Jon Michael Redding, Shawn Tolleson

Next up: Most disappointing 2011 Dodgers' prospects

Friday, August 19, 2011

What's the future hold for Alfredo Silverio?

If the headline on this post looks like the Angelo Songco post from May, it's because I just changed the name. The Songco post was prompted by him hitting for the cycle. Alfredo Silverio hit for the cycle on Thursday, so here we are.

Silverio, 24, a non-prospect in my eyes for the last couple years (made my Top 40), has made a name for himself at Double-A Chattanooga. His triple slash line is .298/.326/.539. The batting average is nice, the on-base percentage, especially in relation to the batting average, is not. However, he makes up for it in the slugging department.

Before you ask, no, he isn't a power-hitting prospect. But he does get a lot of extra-base hits. He has 15 home runs, 34 doubles and a Southern League-leading 16 triples. That combination of slugging also makes him the league leader in total bases (248). His teammate, Scott Van Slyke, is second (231).

Silverio was signed in 2003 out of the Dominican Republic. He's is a free-swinger, to put it lightly. His walk rate is 4.6 percent this season, which is up from last season's 4.5 percent. His strikeout rate isn't overly concerning (17.2 percent), but compared to his walk rate, it's a little too high.

He made his first appearance in the Baseball America Prospect Handbook in 2008, when he checked in as the Dodgers' No. 29 prospect. He won the Gulf Coast League batting title in 2007, when he hit .373 as a 20-year-old.

The next year, he moved up to No. 27 after a mediocre season at Great Lakes in the Midwest League (.263/.279/.404). He jumped up to No. 18 in last year's book after repeating Low-A with a little more success (.284/.320/.457). He was not listed in the Dodgers' Top 30 for 2011.

So, what are his prospects? Well, that all comes down to his plate discipline. He isn't getting especially better in that department, but he's set career-highs in every significant offensive category this season -- runs, hits (three more), doubles (one more), triples, home runs, RBI, OPS (save 2007 in the GCL). The extra-base hits are impressive, as he doesn't need to hit home runs to have a respectable slugging percentage. And despite the 16 triples, he isn't a good base-stealer (10-for-22 this season after 17-for-24 in 2010).

If Silverio makes his big league debut in 2012, perhaps Davey Lopes can work with him to make him a better base-stealer. I mean, look at what Matt Kemp and Tony Gwynn have done this season (52-for-60 combined, 86.7 percent). But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Silverio has established himself as a legitimate prospect. I'll probably have him in my Top 25 come 2011. He's a corner outfielder, despite playing some center field in his minor league career. He's another in a long line of legitimate Dodger outfield prospects. A benefit he has is he's already in Double-A and 24 years old. Aside from Jerry Sands and maybe Van Slyke, Silverio is probably third in line, if the Dodgers need him (not counting minor league journeymen like Trent Oeltjen).

Despite his free-swinging, low on-base percentage ways, it's hard to argue with 65 extra-base hits in 115 games -- even if it is Double-A.

Dodger blogger profile: Kenny Shulsen (Lasorda's Lair)

In the fourth of my Dodger blogger profile series, I bring you Kenny Shulsen of Lasorda's Lair.

Lasorda's Lair is a part of the Fansided Network, which is similar to the YardBarker Network, the network this blog belongs to.

1. How did you become a Dodgers' fan?
- My Grandpa lived in Santa Barbara and his company has suite level season tickets. I spent a month every summer going to games and listening to Vin Scully on a transistor radio he bought me. The tipping point was going to a game at Dodger Stadium during the 1977 World Series when I was 8. After that, I was hooked.

2. What got you into blogging?
- I spent a lot of time on various Dodger blogs and message boards. I have a master's degree in history, so I've always been a writer. I came across an ad on FanSided saying it was looking for writers for its Dodger site and the rest just kind of happened.

3. What are some of goals for your blog?
- To be an independent voice about the Dodgers. I strive to provide factual data always based on statistical analysis. I'd like to turn it into one of the sites that Dodger fans check in with everyday to get a unique perspective of what's going on with the franchise.

4. What is the best experience you've had since blogging?
- Going to Dodger Stadium as a member of the press and interviewing Don Mattingly one-on-one in the Dodger dugout. It was the day MLB took over the Dodgers. Reporters kept hammering Mattingly about the takeover, he kept giving them the same answer. When Ned Colletti appeared, they all flocked to him. Mattingly looked at me and said "So, do you have any baseball stuff you want to talk about?" We talked baseball for about 15 minutes. It was awesome.

5. What is your most memorable in-person Dodgers' experience?
- The same as above, having a spot in the press box, going into the clubhouse and stepping on the field at Dodger Stadium for the first time.

6. How many Dodger games have you attended?
- Approximately 75 overall and 50-plus at Dodger Stadium.

7. Who is your all-time favorite Dodger player and pitcher?
- My favorite player was Mike Piazza, I was literally devastated when they traded him. Orel Hershiser was my favorite pitcher, what he did in 1988 was remarkable and I don't think will ever be matched. Eric Gagne is a very close second. I loved watching him develop as a closer and to hear how excited Vin would get when "Game Over" would come into the game. And again, 84 saves in a row is a record that isn't going to be broken.

8. What season of Dodgers' baseball do you remember most? Why?
- 1981. I was old enough to appreciate my team making it to the World Series and that was the year they finally beat the Yankees, especially after falling behind in the series 2-0. I remember sitting in the same chair for every game.

9. Who is the Dodger you liked that no one else seemed to like?
- Franklin Stubbs, I don't know why but I always really liked him and always thought he was going to be great. He did have a really good World Series in 1988.

10. What do you think the Dodgers need to do to win another World Series in your lifetime (save axing McCourt and Colletti)?
- They need to reinvest in their player development system. Logan White is one of the best in the business. They have gotten away from spending money in the Dominican Republic and drafting and developing young players. For decades, that was the hallmark of the Dodgers system. Of course, they can't do that until they get rid of McCourt.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Redding having nice season for Dodgers' High-A team

When I saw Jon Michael Redding pitch against the Stockton Ports on June 17, he was less than impressive. His line: 4 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 2 K

Despite the poor outing, he still had a nice 3.38 ERA in the hitter-friendly California League. Since that game, though, he's pitched quite well.

Last 10 games: 59 IP, 49 H, 22 R, 17 ER, 4 HR, 22 BB, 62 K, 1.20 WHIP, .220 BAA

Redding, 23, doesn't overpower hitters with his stuff -- he tops out at 90-91 MPH with a solid curveball and slider. He's more of a junkballer than anything, which doesn't bode well for his future success. However, he's leading the Cal League in ERA (minimum 90 IP) at 2.98. He also had a career-high 14 strikeouts on July 16 against the Modesto Nuts.

He's a tad old for his competition and with guys like Allen Webster, Chris Withrow and until recently, Nathan Eovaldi, there hasn't been much room for him on the Chattanooga roster. Even retreads like Will Savage and Michael Antonini (acquired for Chin-lung Hu in the off-season) have pitched well for the Lookouts.

Redding will definitely start 2012 in Double-A, but I'm not expecting much from him. At best, he'd be a fifth starter/long reliever in the majors, but his prospects are not that bright. Still, he could find himself on a Major League pitching staff before his career is over.


Jake Lemmerman was promoted to Double-A after the Dodgers recalled Justin Sellers to take over for the injured Dee Gordon. Lemmerman is 2-for-11 with a double in his first three games. Nice to see him get the promotion. I'm higher on him than most. I'd like to see him finish the season strong and start in Chattanooga next season.


Matt Kemp is great. I don't know how many times I can write it. He's up to 28 home runs, 31 stolen bases on the season and making a strong push for National League MVP. In fact, his 28 HRs and 89 RBI tie his total from 162 games in 2010 -- and there's still 42 games left in the 2011 season. If the Dodgers weren't so miserable, he'd be the clear front-runner for the award.


The Dodgers signed fourth-round draft pick Ryan O'Sullivan today before the signing deadline. He got a $100,000 bonus. The team has now signed its top nine picks. Ryan's brother, Sean O'Sullivan, pitches for the Royals.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dodgers to recall Sellers to take Gordon's spot

Dee Gordon was placed on the disabled list after re-injuring his shoulder on Tuesday night against the Phillies.

Tony Jackson of ESPN LA reported Justin Sellers will be called up to take Gordon's spot. I thought Ivan DeJesus would get the call, but I'm pleasantly surprised to see Sellers get the nod. I made a case for Sellers to be on the Opening Day roster back in January.
"What do the Dodgers have to lose by giving Sellers a shot as the 25th man? Sure he wouldn't get as much playing time as he would in Triple-A, but he could surprise some folks and be a valuable glove off the Dodgers' bench."
This was before bringing Aaron Miles in as a non-roster invitee and while he's been surprising, it would have been nice to get Sellers some MLB experience.

Sellers is, at best, a Carroll-type utility player in the majors. He hit .304/.400/.537 with 14 home runs in the hitter-friendly-confines of the Pacific Coast League. In fact, his numbers are nearly identical to last year's numbers, except for the batting average, which subsequently increases his on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

Sellers will be the seventh player to make his MLB debut this season, joining DeJesus, Gordon, Jerry Sands, Rubby De La Rosa, Nathan Eovaldi, Javy Guerra and Josh Lindblom.

Don't expect Sellers to put up anywhere near the numbers he has at Albuquerque, but he should be a decent backup middle infielder.


Mark Timmons of L.A. Dodger Talk has two video interviews with Garrett Gould and Zach Lee. Check them out here and here.

Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness has a nice back-and-forth involving Clayton Kershaw and Ted Lilly.

DodgerBobble recaps his experience at Duke Snider bobblehead night.

Jon Weisman has his eighth edition of Dodger Cogs and Dogs, featuring the incredibly inept Eugenio Velez.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Catching up on Dodger doings: Eovaldi, Gordon, Webster, Songco

Despite losing Rubby De La Rosa for the season and likely all of 2012, there is another young fireballer Dodger fans can be excited about.

Nathan Eovaldi made his Major League debut on Saturday and was outstanding. The 21-year-old went five innings while giving up four hits, allowing two runs, walking two and striking out seven on 77 pitches. It was quite a debut for a guy not many had as a 2011 contributor to the team.

I went back and watched his performance and his poise on the mound -- something for which he's always been praised -- was similar to that of De La Rosa. Even though he's 21, he looks like he belongs, much like the 22-year-old De La Rosa.

He struck out Kelly Johnson and Justin Upton in the first inning. Not too bad for the youngster. He did get lucky in the second inning after hanging a slider to Chris Young. If Young had hit it on the sweet spot, it would have been a home run.

Even if Eovaldi were to fail as a starter, he'd have no trouble being a back-of-the-bullpen guy with his power arm and makeup.

Now, it's his first start and I'm sure he'll get knocked around a little. However, a 2013 rotation of Clayton Kershaw, De La Rosa, Chad Billingsley, Eovaldi and someone like Allen Webster or Chris Withrow is looking quite intriguing.

Oh wait, Ted Lilly is signed to a 3-year deal. Unless he's traded, he'll be in there. Silly Ned Colletti 3-year contracts.


Just when we thought Dee Gordon was OK after hurting his shoulder on Saturday, he goes and hurts his shoulder again last night.

He needs to sit until he's 100 percent healthy. I could see him landing on the disabled list. If he does, the Dodgers should recall Ivan DeJesus and just let him get some playing time at shortstop (which he's been playing a bit of at Albuquerque) and second base.


Allen Webster got roughed up last night: 3 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 1 BB, 3 K. It was his worst start since being promoted to Double-A and raised his season ERA to 4.12. Still, he's probably the next Dodger pitching prospect in line for a promotion, but that probably won't happen until next season.


Angelo Songco has been on a tear and needs to be promoted to Chattanooga. I looked at his future after he hit for the cycle in May.
"The fact that Songco is tearing up the California League thus far while guys I had ranked above him aren't playing as well bodes well for his chances. But, we're two months into the season. There's still a lot of baseball to be played. If Songco keeps it up, he could get a promotion to Double-A before season's end."
Here we are in August and he's still ripping the California League, hitting .308/.363/.559. While his batting average and on-base percentage have dipped a little since my May write-up (.328, .389), his slugging has increased nearly 30 points. Bottom line: the guy is an extra-base hit machine. He has 24 home runs, 36 doubles and three triples. The doubles are the most of any Dodger minor leaguer and the home runs are second-most (Trayvon Robinson, 26).

Songco started as my No. 22 prospect, worked his way up to No. 11 in the midseason rankings and is now my No. 10 Dodgers' prospect (see list in the left sidebar).

There's a logjam of outfielders in front of him, though. Scott Van Slyke, who's leading the Southern League in doubles (36) and is sixth in on-base percentage (.410), should be promoted to Albuquerque. Alfredo Silverio, who leads the SL in triples (14), should also be promoted.

With Robinson traded and since recalled to Seattle (he hit his first home run on Saturday), the Dodgers decided to promote Brad Coon instead.

Well, I'm sure these guys will be promoted someday. The minor league season ends in less than a month. It'd be nice to see guys get a taste of the next level -- especially guys who could still be viable prospects.


Here's a nice piece by Chris Jaffe of Hardball Times about a the Dodgers losing a game 20 years ago yesterday on a walk-off hit-by-pitch. Well, as nice as a piece as a Dodger loss can be, I suppose. To make matters worse, it was a 13-inning game against the Giants that ended 1-0.

In fact, Aug. 9 is quite the significant day in baseball history. Jaffe lists a number of events which happened today.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Gorman 'Griff' Erickson, the Dodgers' best catching prospect

When Ned Colletti foolishly and inexplicably traded Trayvon Robinson on Sunday, one of the statements he made was the Dodgers needed catching prospects.
"We needed catching. You can move somebody to the outfield. You can move somebody to the infield. You can move guys around the outfield, you can move guys around the infield. But you can't move somebody behind the plate who has not been behind the plate or is not going to take a long time behind the plate. And we were in a tough spot and needed catching and feel we got a good one with (Tim) Federowicz."
Aside from the first part being so incredibly inaccurate and wrong (Russell Martin, Carlos Santana, Luke May -- just to name some recent examples), Colletti apparently hasn't been watching Gorman Erickson.

The 23-year-old began the season at Rancho Cucamonga with another catching prospect (if you can call a 25-year-old in High-A a prospect) -- J.T. Wise. He shared time with Wise in the beginning before taking the majority of the PT, pushing Wise to play a lot of first base.

Erickson was a 15th-round draft pick in 2006 by the Dodgers. He started in the Gulf Coast League in 2007, not doing much in 50 at-bats. He even got a one-game, one-at-bat promotion to Triple-A Las Vegas. He repeated the GCL in 2008, putting up a .247/.333/.361 line in 30 games. He again got a one-game promotion to Vegas, going 0-for-5.

In 2009, he played in Pioneer League with Ogden and put up a solid line: .305/.378/.482 with five home runs. Still, not many saw him as a viable, legitimate prospect. In 2010, he played in Low-A with Great Lakes -- and he regressed: .215/.309/.310. The good thing is, he always showed a willingness to work the count and take a walk, which shows in his higher-than-expected on-base percentage (compared to his batting average).

Coming into the 2011 season, Erickson did not make my Top 30 prospect list. He didn't make Baseball America's Top 30. I'd be surprised if he made anyone's Top 30.

However, I'm coming around on Griff.

With Rancho, he put up a good line: .305/.408/.491, with six home runs and a 41/42 BB/K ratio. However, at 23, he was a little old for the competition. He earned a midseason promotion to Double-A Chattanooga. He isn't making as much contact in his first 20-plus games in the Southern League, but he's hitting for more power. He hit his sixth home run of the season for the Lookouts, matching his High-A total (a notorious hitter's league).

The best part is, he did it a third of the at-bats.

With Rancho: 6 HR in 226 ABs (37.7 HR/AB)
With Chattanooga: 6 HR in 81 ABs (13.5 HR/AB)

That's reason to be excited. Now, the Dodgers still don't have a legitimate, long-term catching prospect. Tim Federowicz is a glove-first guy who is likely not going to hit enough to be a regular. Erickson, however, has the chance to hit enough to stick.

He's only played 22 games for Chattanooga, so I wouldn't get too terribly excited... yet. Let's see how he finishes the season.

I'd like to see him start at Double- or Triple-A next season with a midseason call-up a possibility. On the minor-league depth chart, he's behind Federowicz and A.J. Ellis. But Dioner Navarro and Rod Barajas are free agents after the season and depending what the Dodgers do, Erickson could be forced into action sooner than expected.

The Dodgers have a history of developing long-term catching solutions: Roy Campanella, Johnny Roseboro, Steve Yeager, Mike Scioscia, Mike Piazza, Paul Lo Duca, Martin, etc. It'd only be appropriate if Erickson is the next in line.

Plus, he has a great nickname: Griff. That's a lot better than FexEx (Federowicz).

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

NL Cy Young race: Clayton Kershaw v. Roy Halladay

As we enter the season's final two months, there isn't much to be excited about on the Dodgers' front. They weren't able to trade Hiroki Kuroda, foolishly traded away Trayvon Robinson for spare parts and Rubby De La Rosa could be headed for Tommy John Surgery.

Matt Kemp's MVP-caliber season notwithstanding, there isn't much reason left to pay attention to the boys in Blue.

Well, except potential National League Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw.

Note: The Cy Young is for the league's best pitcher, not most valuable. The Dodgers' record shouldn't play into voting at all.

Kershaw hurled a complete game last night in San Diego, defeating the Padres 6-2. It was his fourth complete game of the season.

Kershaw is having a brilliant season. Here are his MLB ranks in some of the major pitching categories:

ERA: 2.68 (12th)
WHIP: 1.03 (8th)
BAA: .212 (8th)
FIP: 2.51 (3rd)
xFIP: 2.71 (3rd)
Baseball-Reference WAR: 4.3 (7th)
FanGraphs WAR: 4.7 (6th)
Strikeouts: 177 (2nd)
K/9: 9.8 (2nd)
K/BB: 4.2 (9th)
H/9: 6.9 (8th)

His FIP and xFIP have improved dramatically since last season. He had a 3.12 FIP and 3.64 xFIP last season. He's now in the upper-echelon of pitchers with his marks this season.

Before we go and give him the award, he does have some stiff competition from last year's winner, Roy Halladay.

Halladay bests Kershaw in ERA (2.44), WHIP (1.01), Baseball-Reference WAR (5.2), FanGrpahs WAR (5.6), FIP (2.23), xFIP (2.56) and K/BB (8.0) -- pretty much the most important categories.

Halladay is a great pitcher. Hell, he's in the discussion for NL MVP, which is a big statement in and of itself. He's probably headed to the Hall of Fame when his career ends.

Kershaw is 23 and will have plenty of chances at the Cy Young. However, he doesn't seem to be giving up his chase this season. He is pitching the best baseball of his career and it wouldn't be shocking if he got even better in the next three-to-five years.

There are other pitchers in the NL having great seasons, including Halladay's teammates Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. However, Halladay and Kershaw are the NL's two best pitchers. As of right now, the race is between them.

As of now, it's hard not to vote for Halladay. If Kershaw keeps it up, though, he should give Doc a run for his money come the off-season.

Speaking of money and off-season, here's hoping the Dodgers can get Kershaw locked up long-term this winter. It all depends how the ownership situation shakes out.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Rubby De La Rosa could need Tommy John Surgery

Rubby De La Rosa went on the disabled list today with elbow inflammation. Anytime a pitcher goes on the DL with elbow issues, Tommy John Surgery comes to mind. Zach Lee, the team's top pick in 2010, went on the minor-league DL earlier this season with elbow soreness, but thankfully that turned out OK.

The Dodgers' official Twitter account broke the news tonight:
"Rubby De La Rosa diagnosed with sprained UCL. He is weighing options & determining course of treatment. Unfortunately surgery is an option."
A miserable season that has seen poor performances on- and off-the-field, just got worse. De La Rosa has been one of the lone bright spots for the Dodgers this season, and now his 2012 season could be in jeopardy.

It's sad, unfortunate, but also part of the game. A lot of pitchers come back from Tommy John Surgery with a stronger arm. Although, it's hard to get much stronger than De La Rosa's.

Whatever the course of action, he needs to do what's best for him and his career. If it's Tommy John, get it done. There's no sense in risking his future for the chance to pitch for a likely .500 team in 2012.

Rubby, bite the bullet and have the surgery; 2013 is the Dodgers' year anyway.

If anything, this opens the door for Nathan Eovaldi, Allen Webster and Chris Withrow to make the 2012 rotation. It's conceivable that two of the three will be in the rotation to start the 2012 season. My money's on Eovaldi and Webster.


Clayton Kershaw is good. He fired a complete game against the Padres tonight, needing just 109 pitches to get through nine innings. It was his fourth complete game of the season -- a career high. He had just one complete game coming into the 2011 season.