Friday, April 29, 2011

Some Dodger minor-leaguers off to hot starts

We're nearly a month into the season and there are many Dodger minor-leaguers off to fast starts in their respective leagues. I'll break it down by level.

OF/1B Jerry Sands: .400/.422/.875, 5 HR, 17 RBI (Triple-A stats)
- Sands played so well in his 10 games in Triple-A that he earned a call-up to the Majors earlier this month. He hasn't fared as well with the Dodgers, but he does have five doubles.

OF Trayvon Robinson: .357/.423/.600, 4 HR, 19 RBI
- Robinson got off to a bit of a slow start but has really picked it up since Sands was called up. While his K-rate is higher than it should be (31.4 percent), he's still OPS'ing 1.023 in the hitter-friendly confines of the Pacific Coast League. He could be the next Dodger prospect to get the call, especially with James Loney's struggles.

RHP Jon Link: 1-0, 2.51 ERA, 14 1/3 IP, 12 K
- Link has started one game for the Isotopes, but he's been working mostly as a long reliever. The Dodgers have a lot of relievers and Link is buried a little bit on the depth chart.

INF Jaime Pedroza: .305/.388/.492, 6 2B, 4 SB
- Pedroza is off to a fast start despite repeating Double-A (partly due to a glut of middle infielders at Triple-A). Pedroza has a solid glove and a little pop, but it still remains to be seen if it translates to the majors.

OF Scott Van Slyke: .371/.444/.774, 9 2B, 4 HR, 20 RBI
- Van Slyke is putting up outstanding numbers, but he's 24 and repeating Double-A. I'm not expecting much from him as a prospect.

LHP Cole St. Clair: 1-0, 0.73 ERA, 12 1/3 IP, 10 K
- St. Clair, a left-handed reliever out of Rice, has been pretty dominant thus far. As the old adage goes: he's left-handed and can throw strikes -- he's bound to make it to the majors some day.

RHP Rubby De La Rosa: 2-0, 2.35 ERA, 15 1/3 IP, 19 K
- De La Rosa impressed in Spring Training and has been really good for the Lookouts thus far. He could stand to cut down the walks, but he's on the fast track to the bigs.

SS Jake Lemmerman: .318/.372/.459, 2 HR, 11 RBI
- The Dodgers have been aggressive with Lemmerman, starting him a level higher than most thought. He started slow, but has really picked it up of late. I have him sliding over to third base in the future, but more because the Dodgers don't have a legitimate third base prospect right now.

1B Austin Gallagher: .375/.438/.542, 2 HR, 11 RBI
- Gallagher got on everyone's radar after an impressive showing in the California League in 2008, but he's gone back to the Gulf Coast League and repeated High-A before repeating it so far this season. I'm not too optimistic about his long-term chances.

RHP Matt Magill: 3-0, 1.64 ERA, 22 IP, 13 K
- Despite having a fringe-average fastball, Magill has asserted himself well in High-A thus far after having a great showing in Low-A last year. He isn't getting as many strikeouts, but his other peripherals are good so far.

RHP Steven Ames: 0-0, 0.90 ERA, 10 IP, 16 K
- Ames, a reliever, has been dominant, but he's a little old for the Cal League (23). Still, he has a 16/2 K/BB ratio, which is only a positive.

OF Jonathan Garcia: .286/.333/.662, 8 2B, 7 HR, 16 RBI
- Garcia has been and extra-base-hitting machine so far (15-of-22), giving him a high slugging percentage. His K/BB ratio is alarming (5/20), but he's still really young and has a lot of promise.

RHP Garrett Gould: 3-0, 2.05 ERA, 22 IP, 18 K
- Gould has been impressive thus far in the Midwest League. Just seeing him pitch effectively is a good sign for the Dodgers and he could still reach his No. 2/3 potential as a starting pitcher.

RHP Zach Lee: 3-0, 1.37 ERA, 19 2/3 IP, 25 K
- Lee has been quite impressive in his debut season. While his control isn't where it needs to be (nine walks), he's been getting plenty of strikeouts and limiting damage by the other team.

RHP Shawn Tolleson: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 8 2/3 IP, 21 K
- That isn't a typo: Tolleson owns an unheard of 21.81 K/9 ratio. It's quite obvious he's having no trouble with the hitters in Low-A and he'll be pushed up to High-A before too long.

So far, so good for the youngsters.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Thoughts on the Dodgers, Kemp, Sands, etc.

Been a while since I posted, so this is going to be quick.

- Major League Baseball taking over day-to-day operations of the Dodgers needed to happen and it's a step closer to the McCourts going the way of the dinosaurs.

- Matt Kemp is still hitting .403, despite "slumping" of late. A "slump" that has included two walk-off home runs. He has more strikeouts than walks, but no one thought he was going to keep up his Albert Pujols-esque BB/K ratio.

- Andre Ethier might have the quietest 19-game hitting streak ever. It's nice to see the extra base hits pick up.

- Jerry Sands got the call. While I still think he needed more time in Triple-A, it's nice to see the Dodgers being aggressive in this department. I wouldn't be surprised to see him sent back to Triple-A sometime this season as he's not off to the best start. But it's nice to see the energy he brought to the fans at Dodger Stadium.

- James Loney is struggling horribly. It's sad to see as he was always one of my favorite Dodgers.

- Juan Uribe still sucks, but he's sucked a lot less of late.

- That's all I have. Go Blue.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Series Preview: Cardinals at Dodgers April 14-17

St. Louis Cardinals (5-7) at Los Angeles Dodgers (6-6)
April 14-17

: 13-16
Location: Dodger Stadium
2011 record vs. Giants: N/A
2010 record vs. Giants: 3-4

2010: The Dodgers started off well with the Cardinals, sweeping a three-game series in Los Angeles in June. This was following the first-round sweep of the Cardinals in the 2009 National League Divisional Series. When the Dodgers traveled to St. Louis following the All-Star Break, though, the tides turned. The Cards swept a four-game series, which included the Cards scoring two runs in the ninth of the concluding game of the series off Jonathan Broxton to secure the sweep.

2011: This is the first team the Dodgers will face outside the National League West. The Dodgers are coming off a series loss in San Francisco while the Cardinal s are coming off a series win in Arizona.

Game 1: Jaime Garcia (1-0) vs. Hiroki Kuroda (2-0)
Garcia career vs. Dodgers: 1-0, 4 1/3 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 4.15 ERA, 2.31 WHIP, .381 BAA
Garcia career at Dodger Stadium: Never appeared

Kuroda career vs. Cardinals: 0-1, 19 IP, 1.42 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, 9.00 K/9, .179 BAA
Kuroda career at Dodger Stadium: 259 2/3 IP, 15-12, 3.50 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 6.76 K/9, .243 BAA

Dodgers' hitters vs. Garcia
Jamey Carroll - 2-for-2, 1 3B
Andre Ethier - 1-for-2
Matt Kemp - 1-for-2
James Loney - 1-for-2
Casey Blake - 1-for-3
Juan Uribe - 0-for-6
Rod Barajas - 0-for-2
Xavier Paul - 0-for-1

Cardinals' hitters vs. Kuroda
Matt Holliday - 8-for-20, 2 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI
Skip Schumaker - 2-for-8, 1 2B
Yadier Molina - 1-for-8, 2 K
Albert Pujols - 1-for-9, 1 2B
Lance Berkman - 0-for-7, 2 BB
Colby Rasmus - 0-for-6, 4 K
Ryan Theriot - 0-for-5

Game 2: Kyle Lohse (1-1) vs. Jon Garland (0-0)
Lohse career vs. Dodgers: 1-2, 26 IP, 4.15 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 6.23 K/9, .298 BAA
Lohse career at Dodger Stadium: 2 G, 1-1, 10 IP, 5.40 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, 8.10 K/9, .350 BAA

Garland career vs. Cardinals: 1-4, 28 2/3 IP, 5.02 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 6.28 K/9, .292 BAA
Garland career at Dodger Stadium: 5 G, 4-1, 32 IP, 2.53 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 6.19 K/9, .263 BAA

Dodgers' hitters vs. Lohse
Marcus Thames - 4-for-8, 1 HR
Aaron Miles - 5-for-12, 1 2B
Ethier - 2-for-7
Blake - 11-for-41 (.268), 2 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 2 BB, 11 K
Loney - 2-for-9 (.222), 1 2B
Uribe - 2-for-15 (.133), 3 K
Kemp - 1-for-9, 4 K

Cardinals' hitters vs. Garland
Molina - 5-for-7, 2 RBI
Pujols - 5-for-13, 2 HR
Holliday - 2-for-7, 2 BB
Rasmus - 3-for-11, 1 HR
Berkman - 3-for-19, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 BB, 5 K
Schumaker - 2-for-13, 1 2B

Game 3: Kyle McClellan (1-0) vs. Clayton Kershaw (2-1)
McClellan career vs. Dodgers: 10 G, 2-0, 10 2/3 IP, 1.69 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 5.91 K/9, .250 BAA
McClellan career at Dodger Stadium: 4 G, 1-0, 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K

Kershaw career vs. Cardinals: 6 G, 2-1, 36 IP, 3.00 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 9.25 K/9, .225 BAA
Kershaw career at Dodger Stadium: 264 IP, 14-11, 2.76 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 9.89 K/9, .212 BAA

Dodgers' hitters vs. McClellan
Loney - 1-for-2, 1 2B
Kemp - 0-for-4
Blake - o-for-3, 1 BB
Ethier - 0-for-2
Tony Gwynn - 0-for-1

Cardinals' hitters vs. Kershaw
Pujols - 6-for-12, 3 2B, 5 BB
Holliday - 5-for-14 (.357), 6 BB, 4 K
Molina - 2-for-9, 1 2B
Berkman - 1-for-5, 2 K
Theriot - 1-for-7, 2 K
Schumaker - 0-for-7, 6 K

Game 4: vs. Chris Carpenter (0-2) vs. Chad Billingsley (1-1)
Carpenter career vs. Dodgers: 8 G, 6-0, 56 IP, 1.77 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 7.07 K/9, .225 BAA
Carpenter career at Dodger Stadium: 3 G, 2-0, 20 IP, 3.15 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 8.55 K/9, .257 BAA

Billingsley career vs. Cardinals: 7 G, 1-3, 32 2/3 IP, 5.79 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 5.51 K/9, .278 BAA
Billingsley career at Dodger Stadium: 394 IP, 33-19, 3.86 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 8.63 K/9, .253 BAA

Dodgers' hitters vs. Carpenter
Barajas - 3-for-8, 1 2B
Carroll - 6-for-16, 1 2B, 2 BB
Ethier - 6-for-17, 3 2B
Uribe - 1-for-6, 1 3B, 3 K
Kemp - 2-for-12, 1 2B, 2 BB, 5 K
Loney - 2-for-14, 2 K
Blake 1-for-13, 5 K

Cardinals' hitters vs. Billingsley
Theriot - 7-for-15, 2 K
Molina - 4-for-11, 2 K
Holliday - 6-for-21, 3 HR, 8 BB, 4 K
Pujols - 3-for-15, 1 2B, 3 BB
Schumacker - 2-for-10, 2 K
Rasmus - 1-for-6
Berkman - 2-for-15, 2 2B, 2 BB, 4 K

Analysis: The Dodgers have fared better in recent years against the Cardinals, but the Red Birds continue to be a thorn in their side. This series features four-fifths of each team's rotation, including the best pitchers each team has to offer. The Dodgers (and the rest of baseball) are lucky Adam Wainwright is out for the season.

Prediction: The Dodgers win Games 1 and 3 behind masterful pitching performances by Kuroda and Kershaw.

Next meeting: Aug. 22-24 at Busch Stadium

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

After Matt Kemp, the Dodgers' lineup is an abyss

The Dodgers are off to a 6-5 start this season, which isn't terrible. Matt Kemp is off to a fantastic start this season, which is great.

Kemp is firmly entrenched in the cleanup spot and has taken to it quite well. He leads the National League in batting average, on-base percentage and OPS-plus.

Kemp's numbers through 11 games: .472/.578/.694, 9 R, 5 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 7-for-8 SB, 9 BB, 4 K, 246 OPS+

It's surprising to see him doing so well considering he has zero protection in the lineup. With Andre Ethier hitting third, James Loney and Juan Uribe have been tasked with protecting him. As of today, they're doing a terrible job.

The high walk total is surprising, but at the same time it isn't because of who's hitting after Kemp in the Dodger lineup.

Here is how the lineup breaks down after Kemp through the first 11 games of the season:

No. 5: Loney (6 times), Uribe (4 times), Marcus Thames (1 time)
No. 6: Uribe (5 times), Loney (5 times), Gimenez (1 time)
No. 7: Rod Barajas (6 times), Xavier Paul (2 times), Thames (2 times), Ellis (1 time)
No. 8: Jamey Carroll (5 times), Barajas (3 times), Aaron Miles (2 times), Thames (1 time)

*Pinch-hitters/runners and defensive replacements NOT included

Among all those players, here's how the numbers break down:

No. 5: 8-for-46, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 0 BB, 6 K, 4 GIDP, .174/.174/.283
No. 6: 6-for-39, 1 R, 1 2B, 4 RBI, 2 BB (both IBB), 10 K, 3 HBP, 1 GIDP, .154/.244/.179
No. 7: 8-for-40, 1 R, 3 BB, 11 K, 1 HBP, 1 GIDP, .200/.273/.200
No. 8: 11-for-42, 4 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB (both IBB), 10 K, .262/.295/.429

Totals: .198/.246/.275/.521, 4 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 7 BB (4 IBB), 37 K

*Pinch-hitters/runners and defensive replacements included*

As you can see, the numbers are quite putrid. We all knew the offense was going to struggle, but this is an understatement. It's amazing Kemp hasn't been given the Barry Bonds treatment, seeing as there are no players behind him capable of even adequately protecting him.

At this rate, Kemp is going to easily shatter his career-high in walks (53), which he set last season.


Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness has a bit on Jerry Sands, who is absolutely lighting up Triple-A. Some Dodger fans are trying to temper their excitement over this power-hitting prospect, but to see what he's doing makes it awfully tough.

Sands has homered in four consecutive games and his last two were absolute bombs. This one is from last night's a game, a 440-foot blast (at least) to dead center.

Even more impressive than the power is the lack of strikeouts. Sands has whiffed just one time in his first five games after striking out 123 times last season. That is quite encouraging as his high K-rate was a bit of a concern.

Now, Sands is bound to slump sometime in Triple-A (all baseball players slump). When that time comes, however, it doesn't look like it will be prolonged. Sands looks like a legitimate middle-of-the-order hitter and Dodger fans should be excited. But the Dodgers aren't going to rush him -- he won't be up next week. If Loney, Uribe and Co. continue to struggle as much as they are protecting Kemp, though, Sands could get the call sooner than most expected.

Trayvon Robinson also homered for Albuquerque while Dee Gordon chipped in four hits. The Isotopes routed the Iowa Cubs 18-3 Tuesday night.


Garrett Gould and Matt Magill both made their season debuts last night -- Gould for Great Lakes (LoA) and Magill for Rancho Cucamonga (HiA) -- and both were rather impressive.

Gould's line: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 K

Magill's line: 6 IP*, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 K
*- Four no-hit innings

Gould is coming off a decent season, but there were concerns about his velocity. Magill is coming off an impressive showing in the Midwest League and is just 21 years old in the California League.

Today, Zach Lee, Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa (making his season debut) pitch for the Loons, Quakes and Chattanooga Lookouts. These are my top three Dodger pitching prospects.


From the Quakes' game last night: OF Blake Smith hit his first home run of the season. He was the Dodgers' second-round pick from Cal in 2009 and he has good power potential. He's a little older than his competition, which isn't ideal. If he gets off to a quick start, though, he could be promoted to Double-A to see if he's a legitimate prospect.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Series Preview: Dodgers at Giants April 11-13

Los Angeles Dodgers (5-4) at San Francisco Giants (4-5)
April 11-13

: 10-12
Location: AT&T Park
2011 record vs. Giants: 3-1
2010 record vs. Giants: 8-10

2011: The Dodgers opened the season against the Giants. With the help of some shoddy Giant defense and masterful Dodger pitching, the Dodgers were able to win three of the four games. Clayton Kershaw threw seven shutout innings on Opening Day, the Dodgers rallied in the second game after Brandon Belt hit his first career home run off Chad Bilingsley and after a 10-0 loss on Saturday, Matt Kemp got the Dodgers started with his first home run and the pitching held up.

Game 1: Clayton Kershaw (1-1, 2.08 ERA) vs. Madison Bumgarner (0-1, 9.00 ERA)
Kershaw career vs. Giants: 44 IP, 2-1, 1.23 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 9.61 K/9, .164 BAA
Kershaw career at AT&T Park: 17 IP, 1-1, 1.06 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 5.29 K/9, .194 BAA

Bumgarner career vs. Dodgers: 6 2/3 IP, 1-0, 1.35 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 6.75 K/9, .250 BAA
Bumgarner career at AT&T Park: 50 1/3 IP, 1-3, 4.47 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 6.44 K/9, .298 BAA

Best Giants' hitters vs. Kershaw
Miguel Tejada - 5-for-15 (.333), 1 2B, 3 RBI
Freddy Sanchez - 4-for-13 (.308)
Pat Burrell - 4-for-16 (.250), 3 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI

Aubrey Huff is 2-for-14 (.143) and Buster Posey and Andres Torres are 2-for-12 (.167) lifetime against Kershaw.

Best Dodgers' hitters vs. Bumgarner
Matt Kemp - 2-for-2
Jamey Carroll - 1-for-3 (.333)
Rafael Furcal - 1-for-3 (.333), 1 HR

Andre Ethier is 0-for-3 and James Loney and Casey Blake are 0-for-2 lifetime against Bumgarner.

Game 2: Chad Billingsley (1-1, 8.00 ERA) vs. Tim Lincecum (1-1, 0.64 ERA)
Billingsley career vs. Giants: 108 2/3 IP, 7-3, 2.73 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 7.29 K/9, .258 BAA
Billingsley career at AT&T Park: 54 IP, 2-2, 2.50 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 7.33 K/9, .275 BAA

Lincecum career vs. Dodgers: 67 1/3 IP, 5-2, 3.07 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 9.49 K/9, .216 BAA
Lincecum career at AT&T Park: 415 IP, 30-15, 3.06 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 10.13 K/9, .228 BAA

Best Giants' hitters vs. Billingsley
Nate Schierholtz - 6-for-14 (.429), 1 2B, 1 3B
Aaron Rowand - 7-for-20 (.350), 1 HR, 4 RBI, 4 BB
Tejada - 7-for-20 (.350), 1 HR, 4 RBI
Brandon Belt - 1-for-3 (.333), 1 HR, 3 RBI

Pablo Sandoval is 5-for-30 (.167), Sanchez is 5-for-26 (.192), Burrell is 4-for-19 (.211), Mark DeRosa is 2-for-9 (.222), Huff is 4-for-18 (.222) and Torres is 4-for-17 (.231) lifetime against Billingsley.

Best Dodgers' hitters vs. Lincecum
Marcus Thames - 2-for-3 (.667), 2 HR
Xavier Paul - 2-for-3, 1 2B
Ethier - 8-for-29 (.276), 2 HR, 6 RBI
Furcal - 6-for-23 (.261), 1 HR, 7 BB

Kemp is 3-for-21 (.143), is 0-for-3, Blake is 2-for-13 (.154) and Loney is 5-for-30 (.167) lifetime against Lincecum.

Game 3: Ted Lilly (0-1, 6.00 ERA) vs. Jonathan Sanchez (0-1, 2.53 ERA)
Lilly career vs. Giants:46 2/3 IP, 3-3, 5.79 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 5.98 K/9, .282 BAA
Lilly career at AT&T Park: 18 IP, 1-2, 6.50 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 7.00 K/9, .288 BAA

Sanchez career vs. Dodgers: 67 1/3 IP, 2-6, 4.68 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 9.49 K/9, .252 BAA
Sanchez career at AT&T Park: 305 IP, 17-15, 4.13 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 9.29 K/9, .233 BAA

Best Giants' hitters vs. Lilly
Posey - 3-for-7 (.429), 2 HR
Rowand - 10-for-26 (.385), 2 2B, 1 HR
Sanchez - 10-for-29 (.345), 5 2B
Tejada - 15-for-54 (.278), 3 HR, 10 RBI

Burrell is 1-for-13 (.077) and Huff is 6-for-32 (.188) lifetime against Lilly.

Best Dodgers' hitters vs. Sanchez
Kemp - 11-for-29 (.379), 3 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 5 SB
Rod Barajas - 4-for-11 (.364), 1 HR

Blake is 2-for-14 (.143), Ethier is 4-for-27 (.148) and Loney is 4-for-25 (.160) lifetime against Sanchez

Analysis: The Dodgers benefited from some sloppy Giant defense and luck in the first series. In this series, it appears they have the advantage on the mound with Kershaw vs. Bumgarner in Game 1. The second game has a chance to be a dandy, as both pitchers are dominant against the opposing team with Billingsley pitching well in AT&T Park in his career. Sanchez has great peripherals in his career against the Dodgers, but has been susceptible to the big hit. Lilly just does not pitch well against the Giants, even in the friendly confines of AT&T Park.

Prediction: Dodgers take the first game but lose the next two.

Next meeting: May 18-19 at Dodger Stadium

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Video of Jerry Sands' first Triple-A home run

Jerry Sands hit his first Triple-A home run on Saturday night. I watched a lot of the Isotopes' game, but I missed the home run, of course.

Here's a video from YouTube user hipredcar. It's the only video I've been able to find thus far.

It sounds great off the crack of the bat and might have been helped by the friendly hitting conditions of the Pacific Coast League. Still, it's a nice opposite-field shot.

If Sands plays the entire season at Triple-A -- and at this rate, he won't -- he could easily flirt with 40 home runs. James Loney's spot as Dodgers' starting first baseman could be threatened in the coming months if Sands continues to hit.

Update (4/10, 2:39 p.m.): Sands hit his second home run in as many days. It was another opposite-field shot. Evan of New Mexico Fan said it was just over the 404-foot mark in right-center field.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A breakdown of Zach Lee's debut with Great Lakes

Zach Lee made his professional debut today with the Great Lakes Loons of the Midwest League (Low-A ball). Here's an inning-by-inning breakdown of his day.

First Inning - 13 pitches (7 strikes, 6 balls)
0 Hits, 1 Walk, 0 Strikeouts

-Lee threw his first pitch at 92 MPH, Loons' play-by-play announce Matt Park said on the broadcast. He wasn't afraid to pitch inside, as he threw all fastballs in the first inning. After walking the No. 2 hitter, he got the next two hitters without incident.

Second Inning - 25 pitches (13 strikes, 12 balls)
1 Hit, 1 Walk, 2 Strikeouts

-Lee's fastball topped out at 96 MPH in the second. His first strikeout came on a slider down-and-away from the right-handed hitter. He got his second strikeout on a backup curveball that froze the hitter. Park said it was a slider, but it had much more of a curveball break. He got in a spot of bother with a two-out walk followed by an infield single before getting the last hitter of the inning to ground out weakly to first after an eight-pitch battle.

Third Inning - 11 pitches (8 strikes, 3 balls)
0 Hits, 0 Walks, 1 Strikeout

-Lee started the first two hitters off with off-speed pitches. He got the lead-off man to look at a slider for strike three. The next two hitters hit the ball hard, but both were flagged down by left fielder Nick Akins.

Fourth Inning - 20 pitches (11 strikes, 9 balls)
1 Hits, 1 Walks, 2 Strikeouts

-Lee got the first hitter to foul out to third base before walking the next hitter on four pitches. He then struck out the next hitter on three pitches before a seven-pitch tilt that ended with a single to left field. He got the final out of the inning on a strikeout looking.

And Lee's day would end with that backward "K." Despite struggling with his command, he went after hitters at times. He missed up in the zone a lot, which is something he'll have to work on. But for his first start, it's hard to complain.

Lee's final line
4 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts
69 pitches (39 strikes, 30 balls)

Pitch breakdown*: 51 fastballs (max velocity 96 MPH), 10 sliders, 7 curveballs, 1 changeup
*- By my count

Reluctantly, here's something about Manny Ramirez

As you probably already know, Manny Ramirez retired today after 19 Major League Baseball seasons.

He got off to a terrible start with the Tampa Bay Rays, mustering just one hit in his first 17 at-bats. But that isn't why he retired.

He reportedly tested positive for a banned substance -- a performance-enhancing drug -- for the second time in his career. If he chose to appeal it, he would have faced a 100-game suspension. Instead of going through that -- and probably losing the appeal -- he decided to hang up his spikes.

If any player in the history of baseball was going to get caught twice, it would have been Ramirez. Ever since his first positive test, his numbers -- specifically his power numbers -- have decreased. Is there a correlation? Possibly; it's hard to know for sure. But Ramirez just wasn't the same hitter he was before he was traded to the Dodgers in July 2008. That's to be expected with age, but his production sharply declined.

The Dodgers still owe Ramirez money through 2013 in deferred payments and that isn't going away with his retirement.

The Rays, a team off to an 0-6 start, can't get much worse than they were with Ramirez. At least it allows another player to take his spot.

Any chances Ramirez had left to make the Hall of Fame are likely gone after this. If the writers have yet to vote in the likes of Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, Ramirez stands no chance.

He was great for the Dodgers in 2008 (playoffs included) and was one of the best right-handed hitters of all-time, but the tarnished legacy is something he won't be able to run away from.

Series Preview: Dodgers at Padres April 8-10

Los Angeles Dodgers (3-3) at San Diego Padres (3-2)
April 8-10

Games: 7-9
Location: Petco Park
2011 record vs. Padres: N/A
2010 record vs. Padres: 8-11

2010: The Dodgers had trouble with the Padres in 2010. In other news, the sun is hot. The Padres have been a thorn in the Dodgers' side for years. The Dodgers won the first four of the first five games against the Padres, which gave us reason to think things had changed. However, they lost 10 of the last 14 against San Diego, ultimately losing the season series.

Game 1: Ted Lilly vs. Clayton Richard
Lilly career vs. Padres: 6-3, 3.06 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 8.79 K/9, .230 BAA
Richard career vs. Dodgers: 4-0, 2.56 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 5.97 K/9, .257 BAA

The best Padres' hitters vs. Lilly
Cameron Maybin - 2-for-4, 1 K
Chase Headley - .308/.357/.385, 1 2B, 1:3 BB/K ratio

Nick Hundley is 0-for-11, Orlando Hudson is 1-for-8 (.125) and Ryan Ludwick is 5-for-32 (.156) lifetime against Lilly.

The best Dodgers' hitters vs. Richard
Juan Uribe - .467/.529/.800, 1 HR, 2:3 BB/K ratio
Jamey Carroll - .455/.600/.455, 4:1 BB/K ratio
Matt Kemp - .357/.357/.429, 1 2B, 0:2 BB/K ratio

Andre Ethier is 1-for-12 (.083), Rafael Furcal is 1-for-10 (.100) and Rod Barajas is 1-for-7 (.143) lifetime against Richard.

Game 2: Hiroki Kuroda vs. Dustin Moseley
Kuroda career vs. Padres: 5-4, 4.61 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 5.10 K/9, .262 BAA
Mosley career vs. Dodgers: 2 IP, 2 H

The best Dodgers' hitters vs. Mosley
Uribe - 1-for-1, 1 HR
Aaron Miles - 1-for-1
Casey Blake - 2-for-7, 1 2B, 1:2 BB/K ratio

The best Padres' hitters vs. Kuroda
Will Venable - .438/.471/.688, 1 HR, 1:3 BB/K ratio
Brad Hawpe - .417/.385/.750, 1 HR, 0:2 BB/K ratio
Headley - .333/.400/.500, 3 2B, 2:6 BB/K ratio
Jorge Cantu - .333/.375/.600, 1 HR, 1:2 BB/K ratio

Ludwick is 1-for-8 (.125) and Hudson and Hundley are each 2-for-8 (.250) lifetime against Kuroda.

Game 3: Clayton Kershaw vs. Aaron Harang
Kershaw career vs. Padres: 4-3, 2.55 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 7.8 K/9, .210 BAA
Harang career vs. Dodgers: 2-6, 5.85 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 7.36 K/9, .316 BAA

The best Dodgers' hitters vs. Harang
Furcal - .556/.571/.722, 3 2B, 2:2 BB/K ratio
Kemp - .333/.364/.778, 1 HR, 1:2 BB/K ratio
Miles - .316/.350/.316, 1:4 BB/K ratio

Uribe is 1-for-9 (.111) and Blake is 4-for-21 (.190) lifetime against Harang.

The best Padres' hitters vs. Kershaw
Hawpe - .308/.400/.846, 2 HR, 2:5 BB/K ratio
Hundley - .273/.333/.273, 1:2 BB/K ratio

Ludwick is 2-for-14 and Venable is 1-for-7 (.143) and Headley is 5-for-23 (.217) lifetime against Kershaw.

Analysis: The first game could be the best of the series, as both Lilly and Richard have had great success against each opposing team. The Dodgers often struggle against pitchers they've seen little of, which could give Moseley the upper-hand against Kuroda. Kershaw is a Padre killer while Harang has struggled big time against LA.

Prediction: Dodgers lose the first two games, with Kershaw throwing a gem on Sunday.

Next meeting: April 29-30 through May 1

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Series Preview: Dodgers at Rockies April 5-6

Los Angeles Dodgers (3-1) at Colorado Rockies (1-1)
April 5-6

Games: 5-6
Location: Coors Field
2011 record vs. Rockies: N/A
2010 record vs. Rockies: 11-7

2010: The Dodgers took two of three games in the first three series' against the Rockies in 2010, jumping out to a 6-3 record. The Rockies managed to get the record even at 7-7 before the Dodgers won their final four games against Colorado. Clayton Kershaw threw seven shutout innings on Aug. 17 to continue his absolutely dominant second half.

Game 1: Clayton Kershaw vs. Jhoulys Chacin
Kershaw career vs. Rockies: 5-3, 3.63 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 9.37 K/9, .227 BAA
Chacin career vs. Dodgers: 3-3, 2.84 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 8.05 K/9, .254 BAA

The best Rockies' hitters vs. Kershaw
Dexter Fowler - .368/.478/.526, 1 3B, 4:5 BB/K ratio
Jason Giambi - 2-for-6, 2 2B, 2:2 BB/K ratio

Carlos Gonzalez is 2-for-12 (.167), Troy Tulowitzki is 5-for-27 (.185), Ryan Spilborghs is 6-for-27 (.222) and Todd Helton is 5-for-21 lifetime against Kershaw.

The best Dodgers' hitters vs. Chacin
Andre Ethier - .500/.583/.700, 2 2B, 2:0 BB/K ratio
James Loney - .333/.421/.467, 2 2B, 3:2 BB/K ratio

Juan Uribe is 0-for-9, Matt Kemp is 3-for-17 (.176) and Jamey Carroll is 2-for-11 (.182) lifetime against Chacin.

Game 2: Chad Billingsley vs. Jason Hammel
Billingsley career vs. Rockies: 2-4, 4.88 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, 7.48 K/9, .264 BAA
Hammel career vs. Dodgers: 1-1, 3.31 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 7.13 K/9, .259 BAA

The best Rockies' hitters vs. Billingsley
Helton - .350/.458/.600, 1 HR, 4:3 BB/K ratio
Tulowitzki - .261/.320/.435, 1 HR, 2:3 BB/K ratio

Ian Stewart is 1-for-10 (.100), Seth Smith is 1-for-9 (.111) and Chris Iannetta is 1-for-7 (.143) lifetime against Billingsley.

The best Dodgers' hitters vs. Hammel
Jamey Carroll - 3-for-5, 2 2B, 2:1 BB/K ratio
Andre Ethier - .286/.375/.571, 1 HR, 2:7 BB/K ratio

Juan Uribe is 2-for-15 (.133), Matt Kemp and Tony Gwynn are each 3-for-13 (.231) and James Loney is 4-for-17 (.235) lifetime against Hammel.

Analysis: In an early-season short series, the Dodgers seem to have the advantage in both games. However, Chacin is a legitimate top-of-the-rotation starter and Hammel has had success against the Dodgers. The games are being played in Coors Field, which is always a wild card. Kershaw has given up six of his 31 career home runs allowed and Billingsley has a 14:17 K/BB ratio at Coors.

Prediction: It can go either way, but I'm predicting another split, with Kershaw out dueling Chacin in the first game.

Next meeting: May 30 through June 1 at Dodger Stadium

Monday, April 4, 2011

Great Lakes, Rancho Cucamonga announce Opening Day rosters (updated)

*Updated with Isotopes' roster*
April 5, 1:24 p.m.: *Updated with Lookouts' roster*

The Dodgers' Class-A affiliates announced their 25-man rosters today.

The Great Lakes Loons, the Dodgers' Low-A affiliate out of the Midwest League, ended up with eight players who were drafted in the first 10 rounds in the Dodgers' 2010 draft, including five Baseball America Top 30 prospects. The biggest catch -- 2010 first-rounder Zach Lee.

The Loons also snagged Leon Landry, who I think could end up being one of the biggest steals of the 2010 draft.

The Rancho Cucomonga Quakes, the Dodgers' High-A affiliate out of the California League, ended up with six Baseball America Top 30 prospects. The biggest catch -- 2008 18th-rounder Allen Webster.

Something that jumps out to me about the Quakes' roster is Tony Delmonico. Granted, it is a press release, but he's listed as an infielder. He was drafted as a 2B/SS but was immediately targeted by Logan White to make the move to catcher. He hasn't been great behind the plate physically, but the has smarts to be a catcher. We'll see what happens.

Overall, there's a lot more potential on the Loons' roster, but there are some gems on the Quakes' roster. Without further ado, here are the rosters. The numbers in parenthesis are the players' ranks from my Top 30.

Great Lakes (Low-A)

Catcher (2)
Steve Domecus, Michael Pericht

Infield (6)
Jesse Bosnik, Blake Dean, Casio Grider, Chris Henderson, Bryant Hernandez, Christian Lara

Outfield (4)
Nick Akins (29), Jonathan Garcia (12), Leon Landry (9), Roman Pena

Pitchers (13)
Logan Bawcom, Robert Boothe, Pete Budkevics, Raul Burgos, Ryan Christenson, Derek Cone, Garrett Gould (13), Zach Lee (4), Bret Montgomery, Red Patterson, Timothy Sexton, Brant Stickel, Shawn Tolleson

Rancho Cucamonga (High-A)

Catcher (2)
Gorman Erickson, J.T. Wise (26)

Infield (6)
Joe Becker, Tony Delmonico (30), Travis Denker, Austin Gallagher, Jake Lemmerman (18), Rafael Ynoa

Outfield (4)
Nick Buss, Ramon Jean, Angelo Songco (22), Blake Smith (15)

Pitchers (13)
Steven Ames, Matt Magill (11), Ethan Martin (14), Scott Nestor, Jordan Roberts, Jon Michael Redding, Felix Romero, Steve Smith, Andrew Suiter, Luis Vasquez, Allen Webster (6), Josh Walter, Greg Wilborn (sleeper)

Some guys who missed both teams include James Baldwin, Joc Pederson and Ralston Cash. It appears all will start in Rookie Ball, as none of them are ready for anything above Class-A.

The Lookouts and Isotopes are expected to release their Opening Day rosters later this week. Jerry Sands will start in Chattanooga (he won't be there long), while Trayvon Robinson and Dee Gordon will start in Albuquerque. I'd be surprised if Rubby De La Rosa didn't at least start in Double-A, but we'll see what happens.

Albuquerque (Triple-A)

Catcher (3)
J.D. Closser, Keyter Collado (DL), Damaso Espino

Infield (5)
Juan Castro, Dee Gordon (2), John Lindsey, Russ Mitchell, Justin Sellers

Outfield (4)
Jamie Hoffmann, Trent Oeltjen, Trayvon Robinson (3), Jerry Sands (1)

Pitchers (13)
Roman Colon, Scott Elbert (19), John Ely, Dana Eveland, Jon Huber, Randy Keisler, Jon Link, Carlos Monasterios, Tim Redding, Travis Schlichting, Ramon Troncoso, Merkin Valdez, Oscar Villarreal

Chattanooga (Double-A)

Alex Garabedian, Jessie Mier, Matt Wallach

Pedro Baez, Ivan Ochoa, Wilberto Ortiz, Jaime Pedroza, Corey Smith

Brad Coon, Elian Herrera, Kyle Russell (27), Alfredo Silverio, Scott Van Slyke

Michael Antonini, Rubby De La Rosa (5), Nathan Eovaldi (28), Javy Guerra, Steven Jackson, Josh Lindblom (24), Aaron Miller (8), Justin Miller, Joey Newby, David Pfeiffer, Stuart Pomeranz, Will Savage, Javier Solano (25), Cole St. Clair, Josh Wall, Chris Withrow (10)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Nerves seemingly get the best of DeJesus in debut

Ivan DeJesus made his Major League debut last night against the Giants, going 0-for-3 with a walk and three strikeouts. He was replaced by Jamey Carroll after his final at-bat.

DeJesus had a few plays in the field and turned a nice double play in the first inning to get starter Chad Billingsley out of a spot of bother.

DeJesus just looked over-matched at the plate. Giants' starter Jonathan Sanchez had some real good stuff early on, which didn't help DeJesus' chances. However, in his second at-bat, he fouled off some really tough pitches and coaxed a walk out of the southpaw.

His nerves seemed to get the best of him at the dish, as he was over-anxious for three of his four plate appearances. It's to be expected, so I'm not too worried.

We'll see what he does, as Casey Blake probably won't be activated for at least another week. With Juan Uribe having elbow soreness after being hit by a Tim Lincecum fastball on Thursday, DeJesus is going to get a few games to show what he can do.

It's still likely he ends up in Albuquerque by the end of the month, but it'd be nice to see him seize the opportunity and put up some nice offensive numbers and play solid defense at second base.

He's hitting second today against Matt Cain, as he did against Sanchez last night. The Dodgers' lineup is one of horror and goes as follows:

Miles 3B
DeJesus 2B
Ethier RF
Kemp CF
Loney 1B
Gimenez C
Paul LF
Carroll SS
Lilly P

Aside from 3-4-5, it could be a long day for the Dodgers. At least Cain has a propensity for losing games against the Dodgers. And we all know of Andre Ethier's dominance of the Giant right-hander (20-for-41 lifetime). It'd be nice to start the season on a three-game winning streak. We'll see what happens.