Thursday, March 31, 2011

Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp come up big in Opening Day win

Clayton Kershaw, making the first of many Opening Day starts in his career, was absolutely dominant tonight against the Giants, throwing seven innings, allowing four hits, one walk and nine strikeouts in a 2-1 Dodger victory.

He threw 96 pitches in his seven innings. I thought Don Mattingly might send him out to start the eighth inning, he elected to go with Hong-Chih Kuo who was a little rusty, but came away unscathed. If it was August or September, Kershaw probably would have been sent out there.

I've written in the past about how Kershaw needs to be considered an ace -- not just a future ace. Well, this performance should only help that cause. The only reason I didn't pick him to win the NL Cy Young was because I didn't want to look like a homer. If he can be as dominant as he was tonight, he might run away with it.

OK, I'm sure guys like Tim Lincecum, Roy Halladay and Josh Johnson will have something to say about that.


Jonathan Broxton got into the game and gave up a home run to Pat Burrell. That sent folks into a tizzy on Twitter, message boards, et al. However, he was aggressive with his pitches and threw more sliders in one outing than he ever has (note: I have no numbers to back this up; it just seemed that way). His fastball was at 96-98 MPH and his slider was sitting comfortably at 90 MPH. A few had nice bite and he wasn't afraid to throw it to a lefty or righty.

So, people are going to focus on the home run allowed, but Broxton was behind in the count 2-1 and couldn't afford to either go 3-1 and potentially end of walking Burrell. I applaud the fact he went right after the hitters tonight -- something he didn't do a lot of after June 26 last season.

I'm not saying he's 100 percent back, but he's certainly not where he was during the second half of 2010.


The other great part about the win was Matt Kemp. He went 1-for-1 with a career-high three walks, a stolen base and scored the Dodgers' two runs. He drew a four-pitch walk against Lincecum in his second at-bat and worked the count very nicely in his third AB, laying off a couple of nasty changeups. He's still going to have his fair share of strikeouts, but his plate discipline seems to be improving, even if it's just one game. Quite encouraging for the Dodgers and their fans.


Don Mattingly also earned the first win in his managerial career. Congratulations to him. Hopefully it's the first of many.

Series Preview: Giants at Dodgers March 31-April 3

San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers
March 31 through April 3

: 1-4
Location: Dodger Stadium
2011 record vs. Giants: N/A
2010 record vs. Giants: 8-10

2010: The Dodgers got off to a hot start against the Giants in 2010, winning five of the first six contests. The Dodgers would go on to lose nine of the next 12 games against the Giants. Two performances that stand out include Chad Billingsley's shutout on July 21 at Dodger Stadium and Clayton Kershaw's 1-0 masterpiece in 'Frisco on Sept. 14.

Game 1: Tim Lincecum vs. Clayton Kershaw
Lincecum career vs. Dodgers: 5-1 W-L, 3.43 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 9.84 K/9
Kershaw career vs. Giants: 1-1 W-L, 1.46 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 9.24 K/9

The best Giant hitters against Kershaw:
Miguel Tejada - .417/.417/.500, 1 2B, 0:1 BB/K ratio
Pat Burrell - .308/.267/.769, 1 HR, 0:3 BB/K ratio

Buster Posey is 1-for-9 (.111), Pablo Sandoval is 1-for-12 (.167) and Aubrey Huff is 2-for-11 (.182) lifetime against Kershaw.

The best Dodger hitters vs. Lincecum:
Rafael Furcal - .316/.500/.526, 1 HR, 7:4 BB/K ratio
Andre Ethier - .280/.379/.560, 2 HR, 4:7 BB/K ratio

Matt Kemp is 2-for-20 (.100) and James Loney is 5-for-27 (.185) lifetime against Lincecum.

Interesting note: Marcus Thames has faced Lincecum three times and has two home runs off him. Don Mattingly looks to be going with Tony Gwynn in left field on Opening Day, but it'd be interesting to see if Thames' performance against Lincecum was a fluke or for real (keep in mind, it's an extremely small sample size).

Game 2: Jonathan Sanchez vs. Chad Billingsley
Sanchez career vs. Dodgers: 2-5 W-L, 4.82 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 9.19 K/9
Billingsley career vs. Giants: 6-3 W-L, 2.63 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 7.36 K/9

The best Giant hitters against Billingsley:
Nate Schierholtz - .429/.467/.714, 2 2B, 1:4 BB/K ratio
Tejada - .389/.450/.611, 1 HR, 1:1 BB/K ratio
Posey - .385/.385/.462, 1 2B, 0:1 BB/K ratio
Aaron Rowand - .350/.423/.550, 1 HR, 4:5 BB/K ratio

Andre Torres is 2-for-14 (.143) and Sandoval is 4-for-27 (.148) lifetime against Billingsley.

The best Dodger hitters vs. Sanchez:
Kemp - .346/.414/.538, 1 HR, 3:7 BB/K ratio
Carroll - .300/.364/.500, 2 2B, 1:3 BB/K ratio

Ethier is 4-for-24 (.167), Loney is 4-for-23 (.174) and Furcal is 4-for-20 (.200) lifetime against Sanchez.

Game 3: Ted Lilly vs. Matt Cain
Cain career vs. Dodgers: 2-8 W-L, 3.76 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 6.99 K/9
Lilly career vs. Giants: 3-2 W-L, 5.57 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 6.00 K/9

The best Giant hitters against Lilly:
Posey - 3-for-5, 2 HR
Rowand - .333/.385/.542, 1 HR, 2:6 BB/K ratio
Freddy Sanchez - .333/.357/.481, 4 2B, 1:1 BB/K ratio
Tejada - .275/.327/.510, 3 HR, 4:9 BB/K ratio

Burrell is 1-for-11 (.091) and Huff is 5-for-29 (.172) lifetime against Lilly.

The best Dodger hitters vs. Cain:
Ethier - .488/.511/.561, 1 2B, 4:5 BB/K ratio
Loney - .378/.439/.568, 5 2B, 4:2 BB/K ratio
Jamey Carroll - .313/.353/.438, 1 3B, 1:3 BB/K ratio

Gwynn is 3-for-16 (.188) and Rod Barajas is 0-for-8 lifetime against Cain.

Game 4: Barry Zito vs. Hiroki Kuroda
Zito career vs. Dodgers: 6-8 W-L, 3.83 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 6.82 K/9
Kuroda career vs. Giants: 2-2 W-L, 3.56 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 6.07 K/9

The best Giant hitters against Kuroda:
Sandoval - .375/.333/.500, 1 2B, 0:0 BB/K ratio
Ross - .250/.250/.563, 1 HR, 0:3 BB/K ratio

Tejada is 2-for-14 (.143), Sanchez is 2-for-12 (.167) and Rowand is 1-for-11 (.091) lifetime against Kuroda.

The best Dodger hitters vs. Zito:
Kemp - .419/.500/.488, 1 3B, 7:9 BB/K ratio
Furcal - .342/.432/.526, 1 HR, 6:7 BB/K ratio
Barajas - .314/.368/.686, 3 HR, 3:5 BB/K ratio

Ethier is 5-for-29 (.172), Juan Uribe is 2-for-16 (.125) and Loney is 2-for-26 (.077) lifetime against Zito.

Analysis: This is shaping up to be a great series for pitching. There are some dominant starters going, but there are also some guys with major ownage on the pitchers (Ethier on Cain, Kemp on Zito, Tejada on Kershaw and Billingsley). The rivalry could be heightened with the Giants' success last season. The teams got into it a little last season, but there hasn't been a big-time spat in a few years (Eric Gagne v. Michael Tucker comes to mind, but even that was tame).

The Dodgers seemingly have the clear edge in Game 2, with the Giants, despite Cain's poor record against the Dodgers, having the edge in Game 3. Game 1 could go either way with the two aces on the mound. Game four also could go either way -- depending which Barry Zito shows up and if the Dodger hitters show up against him.

Prediction: Split, with the Dodgers winning the first two games of the series.

Next meeting: April 11-13 in San Francisco


The Dodgers also officially announced their 25-man Opening Day roster. It is as follows:

Catchers (3)
A.J. Ellis
Rod Barajas
Hector Gimenez

Infielders (6)
Jamey Carroll
Ivan DeJesus
Rafael Furcal
James Loney
Aaron Miles
Juan Uribe

Outfielders (5)
Andre Ethier
Tony Gwynn
Matt Kemp
Xavier Paul
Marcus Thames

Rotation (4)
Chad Billingsley
Clayton Kershaw
Hiroki Kuroda
Ted Lilly

Bullpen (7)
Jonathan Broxton
Lance Cormier
Matt Guerrier
Blake Hawksworth
Kenley Jansen
Hong-Chih Kuo
Mike MacDougal

Thoughts: I was a little surprised the Dodgers kept three catchers, but it definitely isn't the worst move. Cormier over Elbert is a bit of a head-scratcher, but he shouldn't be around too long.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Los Angeles Dodgers' 2011 season outlook

This time of year is great. March Madness is in full swing, the NFL Draft is a month away and, most importantly, Opening Day is here.

While the Dodgers have given me reason to be optimistic for the last three or four years, I'm not so confident in their chances for 2011. The division is no longer the "NL Worst," with three teams finishing above .500 last season (yes, I'm intentionally not mentioning you know what).

The division also houses my pick for National League MVP in Troy Tulowitzki, while the Giants have some of the best pitching in baseball. I don't see the Padres or Diamondbacks being huge threats, but they'll be pesky whenever the Dodgers play them (they always are).

The homer in my could come out and say everything will be fine and they'll be a 90-95 win team

Too many questions:
  • Will Matt Kemp return to form?
  • Will Andre Ethier hit left-handers well enough?
  • Will Rafael Furcal play a quality 140-150 games?
  • Will James Loney improve on last season's dreadful second half?
  • Will catcher and second- or third base not be complete black holes?
  • Will Juan Uribe really be worth his contract?
  • Will Jonathan Broxton return to the pitcher he was before June 27?
  • Will the back end of the rotation stay healthy?
  • Will the middle relief be good enough?
  • Will the Dodgers make the necessary move to get over the hump if they're close?
  • Will the players buy into Don Mattingly's new philosophy?
There are just too many question marks on Dodgers' roster for them to be a 90-win team (a.k.a. a playoff team). With the aforementioned Giants and Rockies, the Dodgers would be extremely luck to finish in the top two spots in the NL West.

So what is a realistic scenario? Maybe Kemp puts up MVP-caliber numbers and Broxton returns to form, but that leaves too many unanswered questions.

The guys at True Blue L.A. chimed in with their prognostications. The predictions are actually a little more optimistic than I thought. Nothing wrong with that.

My prediction: 83-79

This team absolutely collapsed in the second half, finishing at 80-82. I know this team, even with its question marks, is a .500-plus team, but it isn't much better than that. Here's hoping something happens with the ownership situation. Bill Shaikin has an article on the L.A. Times which states the McCourts are "quietly" working on a settlement. I wouldn't expect anything anytime soon.

Unless the questions are answered by in-house options, the trade route is the only other way to improve this club. With Ned Colletti's track record, I wouldn't hold my breath.

It pains me to write this, as there is no sport I love more than baseball. But I must ground myself in reality and see that this is a team that's going to hover around .500 unless significant changes are made.

That isn't going to stop me from watching as much Dodger baseball as possible. Hey, at least we still have the immortal and irreplaceable Vin Scully to make things better.

Go Blue!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

2011 MLB season predictions

Here are my 2011 Major League Baseball season predictions. Feel free to post your own in the comments section or rip mine to shreds.

American League

New York*
Tampa Bay

Kansas City


* - Wild Card

MVP: 1B Adrian Gonzalez, BOS
Cy Young: RHP Felix Hernandez, SEA
ROY: RHP Kyle Drabek, TOR
Manager of the Year: Bob Geren, OAK


(1)Boston over (3)Oakland in 3
(2)Chicago over (4)New York in 5

(1)Boston over (2)Chicago in 6

National League

New York

St. Louis

San Francisco
Los Angeles
San Diego

* - Wild Card

MVP: SS Troy Tulowitzki, COL
Cy Young: RHP Josh Johnson, FLA
ROY: 1B Freddie Freeman, ATL
Manager of the Year: Jim Tracy, COL


(1)Atlanta over (3)Cincinnati in 4
(2)Colorado over (4)Philadelphia in 5

(1)Atlanta over (2)Colorado in 6

World Series
Boston over Atlanta in 6

Monday, March 28, 2011

Report: Billingsley, Dodgers agree to contract extension (Updated)

Joe McDonnell of Fox Sports West and KNX 1070 Los Angeles tweeted the Dodgers and Chad Billingsley have agreed to a 3-year, $30-plus million extension. Roberto Baly of Vin Scully is my Homeboy broke the news to those who don't follow McDonnell, on his website.

If true, this is great news.

Billingsley agreed to a 1-year, $6.275 million contract, avoiding arbitration on Jan. 18. Details are not immediately available, but Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness speculates that the deal is for 2011-13 and buys out one year of free agency. It'd be quite the deal if the Dodgers somehow got Billingsley to agree to a 3-year extension on top of the 1-year deal he signed in January, but that's wishful thinking.

If it is for the '11-'13 seasons, it basically boils down to a 2-year, $23.725 million extension (assuming $30 million total... will update when information becomes available).

Update (4:10 p.m.): Tony Jackson of ESPN LA says the deal, as tweeted by Molly Knight of ESPN, said the deal would be for three years and would buy out Billingsley's last arbitration year and his first two years of free agency (2012-14). The deal would also be "more than" $30 million and could have an option for the 2015 season. This deal keeps getting better and better for the Dodgers.

I have been wondering whether or not Billingsley was going to sign a long-term deal with the Dodgers. He could have been good trade bait come 2012, if the Dodgers had a poor 2011. Now that he might be locked up, he isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

Again, this is unconfirmed, but if it turns out to be true, it's only a good thing for the Dodgers. A 1-2 of Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley is what Dodger fans have to look forward to this season and many seasons to come.

Update (4:14 p.m.): My prediction for the extension is three years, $35 million with a $13.5 million option for 2015.

Update (3/29/11 at 2:42 p.m.): Nailed the $35 million; was off by $500,000 on the option.

Speaking of Kershaw, it's about time the Dodgers got him locked up. It probably won't happen midseason, but it should be near the top of the Dodgers' list of priorities come next winter.

Cormier, not Elbert, reportedly gets final bullpen spot

Journeyman reliever Lance Cormier was reportedly awarded the final bullpen spot on the Dodgers' roster today, beating out long-time prospect Scott Elbert.

I touched on this a little in my last post, but I thought Don Mattingly was changing the philosophy of this club, seeing as Ivan DeJesus is not only going to make the team out of Spring Training, beating out Juan Castro, but he also is going to start at 2B on Opening Day over team MVP Jamey Carroll.

But with Cormier beating out Elbert, maybe things haven't changed as much as I may have hoped.

Since Cormier is a non-roster invitee, the Dodgers are going to have to make room for him on the 40-man roster. Couple that with the fact the Dodgers, with one free spot due to Ronald Belisario being on the restricted list, need to find room for Mike MacDougal and Aaron Miles. Elbert, who is already on the 40-man, would have been the more logical choice.

The Dodgers asked Cormier to accept a minor-league assignment, but he refused, forcing the Dodgers to make a decision.

This really isn't that big a deal, as Tim Redding, John Ely, Jon Garland or Vicente Padilla (most likely Redding until Garland or Padilla are healthy) will be up by April 12 to be the Dodgers' fifth starter. However, this does pose a slight problem for the bullpen.

Hong-Chih Kuo is the team's only left-handed pitcher out of the 'pen. Kuo is dominant against lefties and righties, but his inability to throw on consecutive days could come back to hurt the Dodgers if they face a lefty-heavy lineup. While Elbert isn't exactly reliable with his control, at least he has shown the ability to get lefties out.

Mattingly said the handedness of a reliever isn't the determining factor as to whether or not he'd make the team.

In eight innings, Cormier allowed 10 hits, two runs, two walks while striking out five. Not great but not horrible, I suppose. In six innings, Elbert gave up five hits, five runs, nine walks while striking out seven. Cormier displayed better control, but Elbert displayed the ability to get the ever important strikeout.

Cormier had a 3.92 ERA for the Rays last season, but that was the only statistic that wasn't God-awful. He also posted a 1.64 WHIP, 9.9 H/9, 4.9 BB/9, 4.4 K/9 and an anemic 0.88 K/BB ratio.

We'll see how this plays out early on. There will be a lot of roster turnover with guys coming back from injury, guys not performing well and guys performing well in the minors (prompting call-ups).

Saturday, March 26, 2011

DeJesus and Elbert slated to make Dodgers' roster

News came down yesterday that Ivan DeJesus is not only a lock to make the team (barring injury), but he'd get the nod over Jamey Carroll at second base for the Dodgers.

This is not only surprising but quite refreshing. For far too long, the Dodgers have gone with the "proven" veteran over the fresh-faced rookie. Players such as Luis Gonzalez (over Andre Ethier) and Nomar Garciaparra (over James Loney) come to mind. It appears manager Don Mattingly is willing to change that notion.

DeJesus didn't get off to the best start this spring, as I didn't even include him in my most recent "25th man" post. But he has really picked it up as of late and caught Mattingly's attention.

If you needed more proof that the Dodgers are employing a new philosophy, Ron Mahay was granted his release today. This move paves the way for Scott Elbert to be the second lefty out of the bullpen.

In my 25-man roster prediction, I had Mahay over Elbert because of, say it with me, "veteran goodness." Well, Mahay had an out clause in his contract, meaning if the Dodgers didn't put him on the Opening Day roster by Friday, he was to be released.

The Dodgers are putting their faith in a guy who has walked nine in 5 2/3 innings this spring. On the flip side, he has struck out seven and has been much better of late. Elbert has always had the ability to be a dominant reliever -- it was just a matter of him throwing strikes on a consistent basis.

The fact that Mattingly seems to be open to playing young guys over veterans is exciting. That doesn't mean he should be rushing Dee Gordon, Jerry Sands or Trayvon Robinson to the big leagues, but it does show he's not opposed to doing the right thing -- baseball wise.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

NFL Mock Draft 3/24

Whoa, wait a minute. This isn't about Dodger baseball or baseball at all! What gives?

Well, I'm an avid follower of the NFL Draft, and I have been every year since 1997 when my favorite team, the St. Louis Rams, took future Hall-of-Famer Orlando Pace with the No. 1 overall pick.

This year has been a little different, though. I haven't kept as up-to-date on information this year. It could be because I'm more dedicated to this blog and it could be because of the labor unrest. I mean, who wants to hear about millionaires arguing with billionaires about money, right? I know that's a simplistic way to look at it, but in the end, that's what it boils down to.

*Gets off soapbox*

Without further ado, here's my first crack at a mock draft this year. Comments are appreciated. Let me know if I totally blew it in some places.

2011 NFL Mock Draft
Round 1

1 Carolina QB Cam Newton Auburn
2 Denver DT Marcell Dareus* Alabama
3 Buffalo DE Da'Quan Bowers* Clemson
4 Cincinnati WR Julio Jones* Alabama
5 Arizona QB Blaine Gabbert* Missouri
6 Cleveland WR A.J. Green* Georgia
7 San Francisco CB Patrick Peterson* LSU
8 Tennessee OLB Von Miller Tex. A&M
9 Dallas CB Prince Amukamara Nebraska
10 Washington DT Nick Fairley* Auburn
11 Houston DE Robert Quinn* UNC
12 Minnesota DE Aldon Smith* Missouri
13 Detroit OT Tyron Smith* USC
14 St. Louis DT Corey Liuget* Illinois
15 Miami RB Mark Ingram* Alabama
16 Jacksonville DE Ryan Kerrigan Purdue
17 New England# DE J.J. Watt* Wisconsin
18 San Diego DE Cameron Jordan Cal
19 N.Y. Giants OT Anthony Costanzo BC
20 Tampa Bay DE Justin Houston* Georgia
21 Kansas City DT Phil Taylor Baylor
22 Indianapolis OT Nate Solder Colorado
23 Philadelphia CB Jimmy Smith Colorado
24 New Orleans DT Muhammad Wilkerson* Temple
25 Seattle QB Jake Locker Wash.
26 Baltimore CB Aaron Williams* Texas
27 Atlanta DE Adrian Clayborn Iowa
28 New England OG Mike Pouncey Florida
29 Chicago OT Gabe Carimi Wisconsin
30 N.Y. Jets S Rahim Moore* UCLA
31 Pittsburgh OT Derek Sherrod Miss. St.
32 Green Bay OLB Akeem Ayers* UCLA

* - Underclassman
# - From Oakland (Richard Seymour trade)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My Dodgers' 25-man roster prediction (updated)

With Opening Day just more than a week away, the Dodgers' roster is beginning to take shape. However, there are a few guys making late pushes to secure spots on the 25-man roster.

Here is my prediction for what the Dodgers' roster will look like come March 31.

(Opening Day starters in italics)

Catchers (2*)
Rod Barajas
Hector Gimenez
Dioner Navarro* - Moved to DL

Infielders (6*)
Jamey Carroll
Ivan DeJesus* - Added due to Navarro injury
Rafael Furcal
James Loney
Juan Uribe
Aaron Miles

Outfielders (6)
Andre Ethier
Jay Gibbons
Tony Gwynn
Matt Kemp
Xavier Paul
Marcus Thames

Rotation (4)
Chad Billingsley
Clayton Kershaw
Hiroki Kuroda
Ted Lilly

Bullpen (7)
Jonathan Broxton
Matt Guerrier
Blake Hawksworth
Kenley Jansen
Hong-Chih Kuo
Mike MacDougal
Ron Mahay

Disabled List
Casey Blake
Jon Garland
Vicente Padilla

The immediate concern is with only having one true reserve infielder in Miles. However, Carroll and Uribe's ability to play all over the infield is reassuring.

Now, there are definitely some guys here who weren't expected to make the team out of camp.
  • Gimenez: He has hit and showed enough versatility to warrant a roster spot. The fact that he's out of options helps his chances of making the team.
  • Gwynn: A throw-away signing by most, Gwynn has a great chance to be the Dodgers' Opening Day center fielder.
  • MacDougal: While I don't exactly agree with this, guys like Ramon Troncoso and Scott Elbert haven't done enough to warrant a spot over MacDougal (in management's eyes).
  • Mahay: He has been terrible this spring, but Elbert has been worse (control wise). He gets a spot by default to be the second lefty out of the 'pen.
  • Miles: He, like Gimenez, has hit enough and has the added bonus of being an infielder.
With MacDougal, Mahay and Miles making the team as non-roster invitees, that means they must be added to the 40-man roster. Gimenez is on the 40-man roster.

Here are some members of the Dodgers' current 40-man roster who could get Das Boot if these three make the roster:
Gibbons could be on the bubble after his poor spring, too. Mike Petriello of Mike Scicoscia's Tragic Illness wonders if Gibbons is even worth a roster spot. With the Dodgers suddenly having a glut OF/1B types, Gibbons' value is lower than it was when he was re-signed in the winter.

The roster will be in flux for pretty much the entire season. The Dodgers tend to have a few non-roster invites on the Opening Day roster (due in large part to injuries) and things will become more clear when the disabled list guys are healthy enough to return.

Thanks to True Blue L.A. for the roster information.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Catching up on Dodger news

Sorry for the lack of posts the past week. I went out of town for the weekend. Lots of stuff has happened in the past week, so let's get right down to it (in no apparent order).

Jerry Sands and Justin Sellers demoted
- Both were long shots to make the roster -- especially Sands -- but the experience both gained in camp this year is invaluable. Both youngsters were sent to the Dodgers' minor-league camp.

While Sands put up impressive numbers (not the be-all, end-all, especially in spring), Sellers didn't. However, the fact Sellers was a candidate for the 25th man just shows what the Dodger organization thinks of him. He should be one of the first infielders called up, if needed.

With Sellers' demotion, the last utility infield spot seems to be down to Aaron Miles and Juan Castro. Oy vey.

Sands, despite his hot spring, was demoted. It was the right move by the Dodgers. I wrote a couple weeks ago that Sands needed to start in the minors to hit against more advanced pitching.

With his performance, a lot of people are excited at the prospects of this prospect. Here's hoping he lives up to the hype.

Matt Kemp is on fire
- Kemp hit his fourth home run of the spring on Sunday. Eight of Kemp's 14 hits this spring have gone for extra bases.

The Dodgers are counting on Kemp to rebound for him poor 2010. I'm extremely confident in Kemp's ability to best his career-best numbers in all the major categories this season. His role has been clearly defined by Don Mattingly (cleanup hitter, center fielder) which should help him realize his full potential.

Rubby De La Rosa is turning heads
- De La Rosa pitched four no-hit innings on Friday against the Giants, walking three and striking out two. De La Rosa's spring ERA is down to 1.80 in 10 innings of work. He's allowed seven hits, two runs, three walks and has struck out seven. His groundout/airout ratio is at 1.33 -- a little low for him. Still, the Dodgers must be toying with the idea of letting this flamethrower pitch out of the 'pen to start his career.

I'm not on board with this. The Dodgers have a glut of relievers and De La Rosa needs to stretch his arm out to be able to handle a full starter's workload. He should start in Double-A before being promoted to Triple-A. He could see time with the Dodgers this season, and possibly sooner than September.

Who is this Hector Gimenez?
- Gimenez, a journeyman, AAAA, is hitting enough to warrant consideration of a 25-man roster spot. Gimenez, who can catch and play first base (and possibly a little third), could be a nice utility-type player for the Dodgers. He has three home runs and a 1.136 OPS (I know, Spring Training). However, he certainly couldn't be much worse than Dioner Navarro, he of the .267 on- base percentage.

There isn't much chance of Gimenez beating out Navarro, but the Dodgers could consider keeping him aboard, especially if Casey Blake starts the season on the disabled list.

Xavier Paul got hot
- Paul has been hot since his cold start this spring. With Blake's season debut in doubt and Jay Gibbons having trouble with his eye sight (even though it appears to be "fixed,"), Paul, who is out of options, could find himself on the roster for Opening Day. However, his 1:14 BB:K ratio is rather alarming.

The pitching staff has struggled
- Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, John Ely and Hiroki Kuroda were all knocked around a little in their most recent starts. It's best to get those cobwebs out of the way in March.

Matt Guerrier, who gave up three home runs in 71 innings last season, has given up three home runs in six spring innings.

Speaking of Ely...
- Ely is bidding to be the Dodgers' fifth starter over Tim Redding. Ely has 15 strikeouts in 15 innings this spring. Could we be seeing the second coming of Elymania?

Will Mike MacDougal make the cut?
- MacDougal has a 0.00 ERA this spring, but he does have four walks in his 6 1/3 innings pitched. Still, folks will be influenced by that ERA and thanks to Ronald Belisario's inability to be in America, MacDougal, who seemingly had zero business breaking camp with the Dodgers, is looking more and more like a cinch for the 'pen.

Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness has a good blog post about MacDougal and what to expect. Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. also has a write-up on MacDougal.

Tony Gwynn is making an impression
- My last entry was about Gwynn and the Dodgers' need for him to hit. Petriello must have read it because he had a similar (and admittedly, more in-depth) post about Gwynn and what he can do for the Dodgers.


In other Dodger blog news...

True Blue L.A.'s Chad Moriyama has a Prospect Profile on one of my favorite Dodger prospects, Trayvon Robinson.

Memories of Kevin Malone's Greg Zakwin has his 2010 Center Field Year in Review up.

L.A. Dodger Talk's Jared Massey and Mark Timmons of have been in Arizona following the Dodgers for the last few days. The guys from True Blue L.A. (Eric Stephen and David Young) have been there, too.

Opinion of Kingman's Performance's Evan Bladh, Sr., has an interesting post on nicknames.

Lasorda's Lair's Kenny Shulsen takes a first-hand look at Camelback Ranch.

New Mexico Fan's Evan looks at how the Isotopes' roster is shaping up.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Dodgers need Tony Gwynn to fill voids

Much has been made this off-season about a few things: The Dodgers' third base situation, left field and the No. 2 hitter.

Well, the Dodgers have one man who could fill two of those roles. The barely-newsworthy signing of Tony Gwynn this off-season has the potential to be an outstanding one.

"Potential" being the key word.

Gwynn, a career .244/.323/.314 hitter, has been on fire this spring. Gwynn does possess good plate discipline (career 11.6 percent walk rate) and Gold Glove-caliber defense. His best season came as a in 2009 as a part-time player. He hit .270/.350/.344 (93 OPS+) in 393 at-bats. He did have 48 walks in those at-bats, which shows his ability to work the count.

I've been preaching for the last few weeks that Gwynn would have to play his ass off to unseat Matt Kemp from center and move Andre Ethier to left field. Well, the only other position either has played this spring is DH, so it's safe to say Kemp and Ethier are the Dodgers' starting center- and right fielder.

However, Gwynn could unseat Jay Gibbons and/or Marcus Thames in left field.

Gibbons is 2-for-22 this spring. Thames is 7-for-23 with four doubles, but his glove won't allow him to be an every day option in left.

Gwynn, who had two hits off a left-handed pitcher yesterday, is hitting .321/.375/.429 this spring and would be the ideal No. 2 hitter in the Dodger lineup.

Casey Blake hurt the back of his rib cage on Saturday bunting after a Gwynn had singled to lead off the game. Manager Don Mattingly has stated his desire for Blake to be the team's No. 2 hitter, but I haven't been a fan of it since I first heard it.

Spring Training statistics don't mean a whole hell of a lot, but Gwynn has speed (6-for-6 in stolen bases), can bunt and do everything you'd want a traditional No. 2 hitter to do. He isn't going to hit for a lot of power, but he has the skill set to get on base; it just remains to be seen if he can put it all together.

It might be wishful thinking on my part, looking at Gwynn's career numbers, but if he's ever going to be someone other than "Tony Gwynn's son," it's going to be right now.

Besides, the Dodgers need Gwynn to be the No. 2 guy in the lineup -- Blake in the 2-hole was doomed from the start.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Three players vying to be Dodgers' 25th man

The 25th roster spot on a team is usually reserved for a fringe reliever or specialty position player. This spring, three guys are battling it out for the spot: Juan Castro, Aaron Miles and Justin Sellers.

You might be asking yourself, "What about Ivan DeJesus?" As much as I like the kid, I don't think he has any chance of breaking camp with the team. He's hitting .263, but only has one extra base hit (a double). Plus, he's limited to playing just second base. He could play shortstop or third in a pinch, but he's best suited to play second.

So, we're left with Castro, Miles and Sellers.

Castro jumped out to an early lead, smacking a 3-run home run early in Spring Training. The ageless one, we know what Castro has to offer -- a decent glove and not much else. It'd be ridiculous if he makes the team.

Sellers is only 3-for-14 this spring, but he does have four walks, which gives him a .389 on-base percentage. Baseball America said he has the best plate discipline of any prospect in the Dodgers' system, which is no surprise, as he was drafted by the Oakland A's in 2005. I made my case for him back in January on a gut feeling. He is a solid defender and can play all three skill infield positions.

Miles started off slow but (somehow) hit two home runs this week. He can play second and third base effectively, and he can also play shortstop in a pinch. He is hitting the best of the trio (.364/.364/.773) and could very well be the guy. My first choice is Sellers, if for nothing else in that it'd be nice to see a young guy make such an impression in Spring Training to make the team. But if I have to choose between Castro and Miles, I'll take Miles every time.

This isn't a decision that will make-or-break the Dodgers' season, but it's a little more important than some may think.

*All statistics prior to today's action*

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dodger notes: Garland, Redding, Paul, Ng, more

Jon Garland left today's game against the Seattle Mariners with an oblique injury, as reported by Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.

Oblique injuries aren't the end of the world, but if it's a more-than-mild strain of the oblique, Garland could spend some time on the disabled list. He should have an MRI in the next couple of days.

With Tim Redding lighting it up (a term in which I use loosely) and Vicente Padilla recovering from elbow surgery, could he have just nabbed the fifth spot in the Dodgers' rotation?

Not so fast.

Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. pointed out that the Dodgers conceivably wouldn't need a fifth starter until around April 10 or 12. That would give Xavier Paul couple of weeks or so as a Dodger before the team would need to call up a fifth starter from Triple-A (Redding, John Ely) or go with a spot starter (Blake Hawksworth) until Garland is 100 percent healthy.

However, as Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness points out, the extra couple weeks wouldn't do much for Paul's long-term future as a Dodger. Do you remember when Cody Ross went nuts for an eight-game stretch in 2006? He was immediately traded for a player to be named later (Ben Kozlowski, who pitched all of two games with the Rangers in 2002).

In no way am I saying the Dodgers should still have Ross; I'm just saying if Paul gets ridiculously hot, there's no guarantee he wouldn't be shipped off for a PTBNL.

But back to Redding. Redding has thrown eight scoreless innings this spring, walking two, hitting one and striking out four batters. Not exactly a dominant performance, but a 0.00 ERA is a 0.00 ERA.

Would the Dodgers be better off having Redding as the No. 5 starter if Garland requires a stint on the DL? Is two weeks and limited appearances enough to justify letting Paul leave on waivers? What about Ely? Would Paul even get enough playing time as the fifth outfielder? These are the questions potentially facing General Manager Ned Colletti. We'll see what happens.


Jerry Sands got on base again today. No shock there. His slash line this spring is .467/.500/1.000, if ya need him.


After posting the statistical leaders through the first 10 Spring Training games, the Dodgers' offense exploded. Rod Barajas, Andre Ethier, Tony Gwynn, Matt Kemp, Aaron Miles, Paul and Sands have all homered this week.


Ramon Troncoso continued his solid spring, pitching 1 1/3 innings in relief of the injured Garland today. He sits at six scoreless innings, allowing five hits, striking out five and perhaps the most encouraging statistic: zero walks.

Hong-Chih Kuo made his spring debut, throwing one inning while giving up a home run to Jack Wilson. Kuo also struck out a batter.


A belated congratulations to Kim Ng, former Dodgers' assistant general manager, for accepting a position to be the next senior vice president of Major League Baseball.

This move was an absolute no-brainer for Ng. Even if the McCourts' situation was fine-and-dandy, she would have been foolish to pass up this opportunity. Former Dodgers' manager Joe Torre made the hire.

She had the assistant GM position with the Dodgers for nine years. It's a shame she didn't get a chance to be the general manager. I still maintain (and I'm not alone) that if a woman is going to be a general manager of a professional sports team, Ng will get the first crack at it.

Shaikin has a nice story on Ng and her decision.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sands impressing in Dodgers' camp

Dodgers' prospect Jerry Sands has had his fair share of success early in the spring. In his nine Spring Training games, Sands is 6-for-13 with two home runs, a triple and three walks.

While it is certainly a small sample size, he's been impressive thus far.

It'd be tempting to give him a chance to start in left field opening day -- especially if he keeps up this pace -- but the Dodgers must resist that option. He needs to play against advanced pitching before getting his chance with the Dodgers.

If James Loney suffers an injury during the season and Sands is handling himself well at Triple-A, he could get a call-up earlier than expected. That is where Sands' future lies. Unless Loney goes nuts this season, there is a better-than-good chance he will be non-tendered next winter (or traded), paving the way for Sands to play first base.

Sands' batting average (and subsequently on-base and slugging percentages) dropped when he moved up to Double-A last season, but his power numbers remained relatively similar.

The only thing that fell significantly was the number of singles he hit. That is encouraging, especially since he had a similar number of at-bats and plate appearances.

Sands probably isn't going to be a .300 hitter in the big leagues, but a .270+ average and 30+ home runs a season is certainly not out of the question.

As my No. 1 Dodger prospect, Sands looks poised to prove people who are not yet believers in his abilities wrong. If he doesn't exhaust his rookie status this season, he has a legitimate chance to be atop the Dodger prospect rankings on a variety of lists.

Perhaps I'm jumping the gun a bit, but it's really exciting to see a power-hitting prospect like Sands. Matt Kemp still has great power potential, but Sands is the Dodgers best power prospect since Paul Konerko and Mike Piazza before him.

And perhaps the best part of all this is his walk-up music that will be blaring on the obscenely loud (at times) Dodger Stadium speakers, even if Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness doesn't agree.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Dodgers' team leaders after the first week-plus of Spring Training

The Dodgers are 3-7 in their first 10 games of Spring Training. Here's how the numbers break down through those 10 games.


Batting average: Jamie Hoffmann and Matt Kemp - .417
Hits: Hoffmann, Kemp, James Loney, Aaron Miles - 5
At-bats: Gabe Kapler, Miles - 15
Runs: Jerry Sands - 3
Doubles: Marcus Thames - 2
Home runs: Rod Barajas Juan Castro, Sands - 1
RBI: Castro - 4
Stolen bases: Tony Gwynn - 4
Walks: Justin Sellers - 4
Strikeouts: Xavier Paul - 8
On-base percentage: Loney - .545
Slugging percentage: Castro - .727


Games: Roman Colon, Lance Cormier, Wilkin De La Rosa, Jon Huber, Jon Link, Carlos Monasterios, Luis Vasquez, Oscar Villarreal - 3
Innings: Clayton Kershaw - 7
ERA (> 1 IP): Colon, W. De La Rosa, John Ely, Jon Garland, Huber, Kenley Jansen, Kershaw, Mike MacDougal, Tim Redding, Ramon Troncoso - 0.00
Walks: Scott Elbert - 6
Strikeouts: Kershaw - 6
WHIP: Troncoso - 0.30
Saves: Nathan Eovaldi, Villarreal - 1
  • The Good: Sands getting on base, Gwynn stealing bases and Kershaw and Billingsley dominating and Troncoso is impressing thus far
  • The Bad: Paul striking out way too much and Andre Ethier is 1-for-13
  • The Ugly: Castro is atop the HR, RBI and SLG categories

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Dodger pitching prospects looking to bounce back

Many highly-ranked Dodger prospects had poor 2010 seasons. The 2011 season is a chance for them to either prove they're still legitimate, high-ceiling prospects or if they're going to be middling, mediocre players.

Nathan Eovaldi (my 2009 prospect rank: 8), Josh Lindblom (4), Ethan Martin (2) and Chris Withrow (3) all come to mind. It's just a coincidence that they're all hard-throwing right-handed pitchers, but they all had poor 2010 seasons.

Eovaldi had the "best" season of the bunch, posting a 4.30 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 9/9 H/9 and 1.95 K/BB ratio last year. He seems to be ticketed for the bullpen. One bright spot is he pitched against the White Sox on Monday and just went right through the hitters. Of course, this was in the ninth inning against minor leaguers and guys who likely won't make the team, so take it for what it's worth.

Eovaldi needs to be in the bullpen from now on. He has yet to develop a third pitch and his strikeout rate is low for a guy who throws in the mid-90s. If he focuses on being a power reliever, his stock could improve dramatically this season.

Lindblom is in a similar situation to Eovaldi, except for the fact many prognosticated that he'd end up being a reliever when the Dodgers drafted him in the second round of the 2008 MLB Draft. He has a heavy low-to-mid-90s fastball and a potential out pitch with his slider. He pitched better out of the 'pen at Albuquerque last year and the Dodgers have finally come to grips with him being a reliever. That could be the best thing for his development.

Martin is one of the most athletic players in the system and looked promising after his 2009 debut. However, he fell flat on his face in 2010. He failed to throw strikes which led to his poor performance. If Martin has another bad season on the bump, the Dodgers could -- and should -- seriously consider moving him to third base. A lot of teams saw him as a power-hitting third baseman out of high school, but the Dodgers were intrigued with mid-90s fastball and power curveball that they couldn't pass up a chance at another prep, right-handed flamethrower.

And then there's Withrow, who many people are still high on despite a bad season at Double-A. Withrow has the most talent and potential of any starter not named Zach Lee, but he, like Martin, failed to throw strikes last season. If he can get back on track, the system would improve greatly.

The Dodgers don't necessarily need all four of these guys to regain their previous form (but it wouldn't hurt). The Dodgers have a lot of pitching depth in the minors, but if just one of the future starters or relievers come through, the system's strength improves.

The two most likely guys to bounce back are Lindblom and Withrow. Lindblom has 225+ innings under his belt and seems to finally be settled as a reliever. Withrow, despite the poor showing, still had an 8.3 K/9, which isn't terrible. He still has strikeout stuff. If he throws strikes, he's more likely to get back to his 2009 Double-A form than Martin is getting back on track.

The bottom line is, the Dodger system has improved in Baseball America's organizational ranking to No. 12 this season -- a season after the above four had bad seasons. If these guys bounce back, it will on spell good things for the Dodgers. They are future pieces to the team or pieces in a future trade.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

2011 Los Angeles Dodgers Season Preview: Right Field

In the conclusion of a nine-part series, I preview the Dodgers' right field situation for 2011.

Let's hope no pinkie injuries arise this season.

Andre Ethier
- Ethier was the best hitter in the game through May 14 before a freak injury while swinging broke the pinkie on his right hand. Ethier was leading the National League in all the Triple Crown categories before the injury. He didn't end with terrible numbers, but like most Dodgers in the second half of 2010, he struggled. Ethier still needs to get better against left-handed pitching, but he is penciled in as the Dodgers' No. 3 hitter and right fielder. The only way he gets moved off right field is if Tony Gwynn hits enough to bump Kemp from center- to right field, subsequently shifting Ethier to left field. He is the Dodgers' best hitter and they're going to need him this season. His defense is atrocious, but his bat, as we all know, is legitimate.

Matt Kemp
- I only include Kemp here in the extremely rare scenario when Gwynn plays well enough in Spring Training to be the Dodgers' center fielder. The best potential defensive outfield lies with the Dodgers playing Gwynn in CF, Kemp in RF and Ethier in LF. That isn't likely to happen, though. Kemp will, in all likelihood, be the Dodgers' Opening Day center fielder.

Others: Jay Gibbons, Gabe Kapler, Jerry Sands


The Dodgers should get above-average offense from right field, no matter who is playing there. Unless Ethier made some real strides this off-season on defense, the glove work in right will be well below average. Ethier was the worst defensive right fielder in baseball, according to UZR, in 2010. I don't think Ethier's defense will be as bad as it was in 2010, but I wouldn't expect him to win a Gold Glove anytime soon.

That concludes my season preview series. I hope you enjoyed it. Go Blue!