Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The greatest night in baseball history, plus some Dodgers' tidbits

Tonight just proved what a fantastic game the sport of baseball is. While the Dodgers (as a team) were playing for nothing (finishing 82-79), the Braves, Cardinals, Rays and Red Sox were all fighting for playoff spots.

In the span of what seemed like an hour, we witnessed the greatest night in baseball history.

The Cardinals won their game handily against the 105-loss Astros. St. Louis was waiting for the result of the Phillies'-Braves' game, which was 3-2 in the ninth inning at first check.

Craig Kimbrel, the odds-on favorite for National League Rookie of the Year, blew a one-run ninth inning lead for the Braves, which eventually lost in 13 innings.

That was the least interesting thing from this evening.

The Rays, which have been on a tear this month, trailed the Yankees 7-0 tonight in the eighth inning. They reeled off six runs in the eighth, including a 3-run bomb from Evan Longoria, to get to within one run. In the ninth, old friend Cory Wade came in to close for the Yankees. He got the first two outs without consequence. Then Dan Johnson, who was hitting just .108 on the season, smacked a ball down the right field line, with the ball hitting the fair/foul pole for the game-tying homer.

"Oh my God," I said aloud to myself.

After this, Matt Kemp hit his 39th home run of the season. James Loney followed up with a single, ensuring Kemp another at-bat and shot at a the 40-40 club.

Meanwhile in Baltimore, the Orioles were staging a comeback of their own against the Red Sox after a rain delay. The Orioles trailed 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth. Jonathan Papelbon struck out Adam Jones and Mark Reynolds to start the ninth. He gave up a double to Chris Davis before giving up a game-tying ground-rule double to Nolan Reimold. Then, Robert Andino finished off the Red Sox with a game-winning single.

"Wow!" I said in disbelief.

Back to Tampa, literally two minutes later, Longoria hit a low-liner down the left field line that crept over the wall for a playoff-clinching home run, which prompted this tweet:
"This all cannot be real"
Quite the poor sentence construction, I know. But I was in utter disbelief.

I then tweeted:
"Kemp has to homer now"
He had to, right? It would have just been the proverbial cherry on top of the most amazing night in baseball history.

Unfortunately, Kemp struck out on three pitches. To the Diamondbacks' credit, they didn't pitch around him. He swung through two 94 MPH fastballs from Ryan Cook.

Tonight just confirmed to people on the fence that baseball is the greatest sport in the world. I mean, what other sport could give you that much drama and emotion in a 60-minute span? Football is nice and basketball is cool, but baseball takes the cake.


Looking back at my 2011 predictions, it seems the two teams I picked to be in the World Series suffered two of the biggest collapses in MLB history.

Of the six playoff teams, I picked two correctly (Yankees/Phillies, though not as division winners).

I whiffed big-time.


The Dodgers finished their season tonight by beating the Diamondbacks 7-0. As mentioned above, Kemp hit home runs No. 39 on the night. He finishes with a ridiculous .324/.399/.586 triple slash line. His .324 average and .586 slugging percentage are the highest since Adrian Beltre's .334 average and .629 slugging in 2004. His .399 on-base percentage is the highest since Gary Sheffield .417 in 2001. No Dodger has cracked the .400-OBP plateau in a full season of games since that season (Manny Ramirez has a .418 OBP in 431 PAs in 2009).

His 39 home runs are also the most since Beltre hit 48 in '04. His 126 RBI are the most since Shawn Green drove in 125 runs in 2001.

In short, the man had a remarkable season. He's my choice for MVP and should be the favorite.


Kenley Jansen set the MLB record for strikeouts per nine innings at 16.1. He came into tonight's game at 16.3 K/9 before inducing two non-strikeouts in the ninth to rescue Ramon Troncoso from blowing the game. It'll be a shame when he doesn't get any votes for NL Rookie of the Year.


For all the bitching everyone did about Loney (myself included), he finished with a .288/.339/.414 triple slash -- all of which were significantly better than last season's .267/.329/.395. Now, it's still not good enough for a traditional power position like first base, but it isn't all doom and gloom with James.

Loney has an incredibly hot August and September to thank for the numbers, though. He hit .367/.433/.633 in August and .348/.400/.587 in September. Quite the stark contrast to the rest of his season, but he just might have bought himself at least one more season in Los Angeles.

The Dodgers aren't likely to be in the market for Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder, so Loney at $6 million isn't as horrible as it once looked.


Ted Lilly continued his torrid by throwing seven shutout innings against Arizona in the season finale. He finishes with a respectable 3.97 ERA and solid 1.16 WHIP. If he could just pitch like that for an entire season, he'd be worth the contract he was signed to last winter.


Jerry Sands finished the season on a high note himself. He hit .342/.415/.493 in September (when he was recalled from Triple-A), finishing with a .253/.338/.389, 4 HR, 26 RBI, 15 2B and a 25/51 BB/K ratio. Not bad for a guy who was hitting .200 when he was demoted.


With the Dodgers' late-season surge, they've locked up the No. 18 overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. If they want to sign any Type-A free agents in the off-season, they will have to forfeit the pick to the player's previous team, as it is unprotected. At one time, they were in line for the No. 7 overall pick, so the improvement is nice, but not so nice at the same time.


A big shout-out to Baseball-Reference. Without this website, finding stats -- current and historical -- would have been a lot tougher. It's by far the best website for baseball stats.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Potential Dodgers' award winners: Kemp, Kershaw... Jansen?

While guys like Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw are getting plenty of play for postseason awards, one member of the Dodgers is being grossly overlooked.

This tweet by Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts reminded me of something:
Jansen now at 16.02 K/9 with that strikeout - currently all-time single-season leader
That's right: Kenley Jansen is a rookie.

Despite pitching 27 innings for the Dodgers last season, was still technically a rookie heading into the 2011 season because he did not reach the 50-inning limit in 2010.

He should get some consideration for National League Rookie of the Year, but I'm not saying he should win it. I'm even skeptical he'll garner any votes.

So, why should get be considered? Well, his 16.10 K/9 rate is one reason. If he maintains that rate in the last three games, it will be a Major League record -- a record set by the Cubs' Carlos Marmol in 2010 (15.99).

Jansen has 93 strikeouts in 52 innings.

Let that sink in for a moment.

He also sports a nifty 2.94 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 5.02 H/9 and 3.72 K/BB ratio. All this despite missing time this season with a right shoulder injury and an irregular heartbeat.

I wrote a piece on his dominance nearly a couple weeks ago, and he's only been more dominant since.

In his last seven games, he has 16 strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings (22.7 K/9). He's struck out 16 of the 23 batters he's faced. That just simply does not happen -- not even in the minors.

Handicapping the race, it would seem a trio of Braves are in better position to nab the award. Freddie Freeman with his .806 OPS, 21 home runs and 76 RBI; Brandon Beachy, who boasts a 3.68 ERA, 169 strikeouts in 141 2/3 innings; and Craig Kimbrel, who leads the Majors in saves with 46 saves and owns a 14.86 K/9 in 76 1/3 innings.

The Diamondbacks' Josh Collmenter and the Phillies' Vance Worley might get some votes -- probably more than Jansen -- but neither will come close to Freeman, Kimbrel or Beachy.

While it looks like Kershaw all but locked up the NL Cy Young Award and Triple Crown -- Cliff Lee would have to pitch 10 2/3 scoreless innings with 17 strikeouts to overtake him in both -- and Kemp is in a heated battle with Ryan Braun for the MVP, Jansen should not be overlooked by voters, even though he probably will be.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Could today clinch the NL Cy Young for Clayton Kershaw?

As I write, Roy Halladay has put up three scoreless innings for the Phillies against the Mets today. Meanwhile, Clayton Kershaw is less than an hour from taking the mound against the Padres.

Today could very well determine the National League Cy Young Award winner. Halladay is already off to a nice start and Kershaw is facing a less-than-intimidating Padre offense.

As long as Kershaw doesn't totally bomb today, he should only strengthen his argument for the award.

Kershaw is 6-3 with a 2.31 ERA in 12 career starts vs. the Padres. He's 2-1 with a 2.16 ERA in five career starts in Petco Park.

We'll see what happens. It'd be quite the feat to have the Cy Young and MVP winners on a team that played the vast majority of the season at a sub-.500 clip. In fact, yesterday was the first chance all season the Dodgers had to be three games better than .500 -- but they promptly lost to Aaron Harang and the Padres.

Triple Crown Watch

Matt Kemp enters today's game still tied with Albert Pujols in home runs. Ryan Howard has one RBI in the first four innings for the Phillies. Ryan Braun is 1-for-2, raising his average to .332 (for the time being). Kemp enters the day at .325.

It's going to be tough to make up seven points, but it isn't completely unheard of. Really, he needs Braun to stop getting hits, but there's a reason he's one of the game's best hitters.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ted Lilly closing out the season nicely

Ted Lilly has remembered how to pitch in the last couple months, but that doesn't mean I have to like the fact he's going to be a Dodger for the next two years.

Like his last two months for the Dodgers in 2010, Lilly is putting up fine numbers.

Last 10 games: 4-4, 2.32 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 5.5 H/9, 8.6 K/9

The most amazing stat might be the home runs he's given up -- or lack thereof.

In his first 22 starts of the season, Lilly gave up 23 home runs. That was good for a 1.67 HR/9 rate. In August and September, he's cut that rate by nearly a full point -- down to 0.73 HR/9.

He's actually pitching better than he did in August and September of 2010, after the Dodgers acquired him from the Cubs:

2010 with L.A.: 7-4, 3.52 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 7.2 H/9, 9.0 K/9

Lilly still doesn't deserve the contract he was given. I still wish he wasn't going to be in the Dodgers' rotation for the next two years, but it's nice to see him pitching well to close the season. Now if he could only do it for an entire season...


Matt Kemp is absolutely amazing. He hit his 37th home run last night to tie him with Albert Pujols for the National League lead. He is .003 points behind Ryan Braun and Jose Reyes in the batting race and he's up by six on Ryan Howard for the RBI title.

Kemp has the most legitimate shot at the Triple Crown in recent memory. He's going to need it to convince MVP voters to give him the nod over Braun.


Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts wonders why the majority of the baseball world is just now realizing Kemp's legitimate shot at the Triple Crown.

Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. has a look at the bargain who is Juan Rivera. He could be back in Blue in 2012. I wasn't a fan of the acquisition, but the Dodgers could do a hell of a lot worse for a guy who can play left field, first base and hit lefties a little.

Chad Moriyama has a great in-depth look at James Loney's resurgence and whether the he wants to see Loney back in 2012.

MLB wants the court to order a sale of the Dodgers. Anything to get Frank McCourt gone sooner us a good thing.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dodgers' Dee Gordon proving he can hold his own

When Dee Gordon was first recalled from the minors in June, it was a surprise to many. He had his ups and downs before landing on the disabled list. He rehabbed for a few games in Albuquerque before returning to the Dodgers on Sept. 1.

Since his return, he's been playing great ball.

Pre-injury: .234/.248/.270, 13 R, 2 BB, 18 K, 12-for-15 SB (114 PAs)
Post-injury: .372/.395/.462, 14 R, 3 BB, 6 K, 10-for-13 SB (82 PAs)

He's hitting his stride at the right time. Don't be fooled by his .462 slugging percentage in September, as we all know he's not ever going to be a legitimate power threat. However, the high batting average (and subsequent higher on-base percentage) and reduction in strikeouts is most promising. He's cut his strikeout rate from 16.2 percent in his first 30 games to 7.7 percent in his last 18 games.

And he's stealing bases at a Jose Reyes-like pace. If he played all 162 games at the pace he's at, he'd steal nearly 75 bases.

Gordon has been ranked among the Dodgers' top prospects by nearly everyone for the last two or three years. Despite his small frame, he's showing why he was ranked so high. He has game-changing speed and nearly unlimited range at shortstop. He'll likely never hit more than five home runs in a season, but he should be a lock for 50-70 stolen bases and double-digit triples every season for a good 10-12 years.

Gordon's defense needs to improve, but he has the tools to be a plus defender at the most vital of infield positions.

He's a throwback-type player who is going to beat you with his legs, not his muscle. It'd be nice to have a Troy Tulowitzki or Hanley Ramirez to play shortstop, but Gordon is about the next best thing to those all-world talents.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jerry Sands, Dodgers' starting right fielder in 2012

Well, at least he should be.

Jerry Sands had an up-and-down season in the minors. It's tough to be too down on a guy who hit .278/.344/.586 with 29 home runs in the Triple-A as a 23-year-old, but his numbers could have been a lot better.

He started the season on fire, going 16-for-40 (.400) with 5 home runs and 17 RBI in April. That hot start got him promoted to Los Angeles. He hit just .200/.294/.328 in 125 at-bats for the Dodgers. He was sent back to Albuquerque and, despite a nice month of June (.310/.404/.607, 6 HR, 18 RBI), he had just a bad month of July (.202/.282/.423, 6 HR, 17 RBI). He picked it up in August to finish with 29 home runs in 94 games.

His home/road splits are a bit concerning, though.

Home: .355/.414/.739, 20 HR, 65 RBI, 24 BB, 41 K
Road: .186/.258/.401, 9 HR, 23 RBI, 14 BB, 45 K

The Pacific Coast League is a hitter's haven, but he struggled mightily on the road.

Despite the drastic splits, Sands has been on fire in L.A. in his last nine games: .457/.500/.629 while playing left and right field.

Now, we know Andre Ethier has been playing right field since the Dodgers acquired Manny Ramirez in 2008. Ethier is a much better fit in left field for a number of reasons, the biggest of which being his arm.

His arm, while not Juan Pierre-like, is weak for right field.

His ARM ratings -- Outfield Arm Runs Above Average -- by FanGraphs do not lie.

Career ARM in LF: 3.3
Career ARM in RF: -7.7

He's 3.3 runs better than average in left and -7.7 runs worse than average in right. Couple that with the fact that Sands looks mighty comfortable in either outfield position and it's a no-brainer.

This catch was from the March 30 exhibition game against the Mariners (with Rubby De La Rosa on the mound). Now, I'm not basing his defensive ability off one play in Spring Training, but I don't think it matters what corner Sands plays. He's capable of playing right field at a higher level than Ethier. And his arm is much, much better.

Of course, this is the Dodgers we're talking about. Ethier isn't married to right field and the move would help improve the overall outfield defense.

Sands had a career-high-tying four hits and four RBI in the Dodgers' 15-1 win against the Pirate today. Barring anything unforeseen, the soon-to-be-24-year-old should be playing some corner for the Dodgers in 2012. Logic dictates it be right field, but I guess as long as he's playing, there isn't much to complain about.


Matt Kemp is up to 34 home runs and 40 stolen bases, if ya need him. He didn't start September on the best of feet, but he's up to .288/.403/.441 for the month. He'll need a big in the Dodgers' final 10 games if he's to dethrone front-runner Ryan Braun in the race.


James Loney might very well be the Dodgers first baseman in 2012. His August and September could persuade the Dodgers' front office to keep the slick-fielding first baseman.

I've always been a Loney supporter and I know the guy hitting .333/.401/.606 for the last two months is not the real James Loney. His 2011 salary is $4.875 million and he will get a slight raise if the Dodgers go to arbitration with him one more time. The question is: will they?

Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. wrote Loney is the "Same as he ever was." The numbers don't lie, but the mention of the Dodgers' change at hitting coach (from Jeff Pentland to Dave Hansen) is an interesting point.

Without a clear-cut option in the minors, he could conceivably be back. Part of me wants him back, part of me thinks it's time to move on. What's one more season, I suppose?


Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness has a nice write-up on Jonathan Broxton and the likelihood of him throwing his last pitch for the Dodgers.

True Blue L.A. has the Dodgers' 25th week in review.

Kenny Shulsen of Lasorda's Lair makes his pick for the Ogden Raptors' team MVP.

Friday, September 16, 2011

My 2011 Dodgers' Minor League Players of the Year

Now that the Dodgers' minor-league season is over, it's time to unveil my Dodger Minor League hitter and pitcher of the year.

The Dodgers actually named their choices yesterday, going with Double-A OF/1B Scott Van Slyke and RHP Shawn Tolleson.

Van Slyke finished with a .348/.427/.595 triple-slash with 20 HR, 92 RBI and 45 2B. He's a serious candidate for Southern League MVP.

Tolleson pitched across three levels of the minors, putting up impressive numbers at every stop. He finished with 7-2 record, a 1.17 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 5.83 K/BB rate and a most impressive 13.7 K/9.

The pair got consideration from me for each award, but I chose to go in a different direction.

There's stiff competition for hitter of the year, as the award could legitimately go to three players. The pitcher of the year competition is a little more clear-cut.

Hitter of the Year: OF/1B Angelo Songco, High-A
.313/.367/.581, 29 HR, 114 RBI, 167 H, 110 R, 48 2B

- Songco tied Jerry Sands for most home runs by a Dodger minor leaguer this season. Sands spent time in the majors and hit two home runs with the Dodgers (so far, at least), so it's entirely possible he could have finished with 35 home runs again. Songco, however, had a great all-around season for the Quakes. He led the organization in runs scored, runs batted in, doubles, hits and at-bats. At 22 in the California League, his numbers need to be taken with a grain of salt. But there's no denying his extra-base hit ability.

He played a lot of first base down the stretch for the Quakes, which could actually fast-track him to the majors as he's one of the myriad of legitimate outfield prospects. The Dodgers are lacking legitimate first base prospects, though. He played 65 games in left field and 57 at first base, so he might use 2012 at Chattanooga to work on his defense at first base -- though that isn't confirmed.

Songco's performance is encouraging after his disappointing August 2010. Some of it can be attributed to the hitter-friendly Cal League, but some of it can also be attributed to him maturing as a hitter.

While Van Slyke had better numbers at a higher level than Songco, Van Slyke was repeating Double-A and was a tad old for his competition. Songco was at the appropriate of competition for his age.

Runners up: Van Slyke, Alfredo Silverio

Pitcher of the Year: RHP Nathan Eovaldi, AA
6-5, 2.62 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 6.6 H/9, 8.7 K/9

- Eovaldi re-established himself as a prospect this season after falling down lists following his mediocre 2010. His performance led to a call-up to the Dodgers in August and he's been in the majors ever since. He's going to work the rest of the season out of the bullpen (already making two appearances), but held his own as a starter. He should have no problem winning a spot in the 2012 rotation, especially with Rubby De La Rosa set to be out until 2013.

Eovladi needs to work on his off-speed offerings this winter. While his slider has the makings of a solid-average pitch, it's far too inconsistent. His heavy, sinking fastball is his best weapon. He isn't a big strikeout pitcher, but those numbers could increase with the improvement of his secondary pitches. Worse comes to worse, he's an effective late-inning reliever. However, the Dodgers have no reason to move him to the 'pen until he shows he can't handle starting.

Runners up: Tolleson, Garrett Gould, Angel Sanchez

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dodger blogger profile: Chad Moriyama (Chad Moriyama, True Blue L.A.)

In the fifth part of my mini-profiles on fellow Dodger bloggers, I catch up with Chad Moriyama. He used to run the now defunct Memories of Kevin Malone. Now, he writes for True Blue L.A. on occasion and started a new blog, aptly named

Chad lives in Hawaii -- the same place I was born -- and he kind of stumbled into not only his Dodger fandom, but also blogging.

The piece I remember him for most is his breakdown of Matt Kemp's swing from 2010 (which he mentions below). It's a fascinating read and it appears Kemp doesn't struggle with a lot of the things Chad mention's anymore.

1. How did you become a Dodgers' fan?
- As I explain on my site, I didn't really have a choice in the matter. I'm not sure exactly when I seriously started following the every move of the Dodgers, but for as long as I can remember, my dad has had me brainwashed. He is a big Dodgers fan and he passed that down to me.

2. What got you into blogging?
- I got into blogging as a joke, actually. I was tired of complaining to friends and family about how stupid the Dodgers were and how terrible mainstream analysis was, so I started writing as a place to vent. Apparently people liked my writing, and so I continued on with it.

3. What are some of goals for your blog?
- I don't think I've ever had goals as a blogger. I guess the end goal would be writing for mainstream sites, but whether that happens or not is just gravy at this point. I'm just appreciative and surprised that as many people care about what I say as they do now.

4. What is the best experience you've had since blogging?
- Best experience is probably getting featured on ESPN MLB's main page, as well as having my analysis of Chad Billingsley and Matt Kemp spread all over the 'net.

5. What is your most memorable in-person Dodgers' experience?
- Memorable? Honestly, the first thing that pops into my head is being amped to see Kevin Brown start, only to have him lay this egg against the Pirates. Oh and getting a direct line of sight to Carlos Perez beating up the water cooler with the bat.

6. How many Dodger games have you attended?
- Geez...7? All at Dodger Stadium.

7. Who is your all-time favorite Dodger player and pitcher?
- Player is between Mike Piazza and Matt Kemp. Pitcher is between Orel Hershiser and Clayton Kershaw.

8. What season of Dodgers' baseball do you remember most? Why?
- 2008 because it was the first time I had ever seen the Dodgers win a series in the playoffs.

9. Who is the Dodger you liked that no one else seemed to like?
- I remember really liking Antonio Osuna for some reason, but I can't remember how popular he was. I assume people liked him because he was good, but I was unusually intrigued by him. I think it was the baller gold chain and swagger.

10. What do you think the Dodgers need to do to win another World Series in your lifetime (save axing McCourt and Colletti)?
- Would like to see them re-invest in the Dominican Republic and the international scene, in general.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Kenley Jansen: A man among boys

When Kenley Jansen converted to reliever from catcher in the middle of the 2009 season, no one knew how he would transition.

Two years later, it's abundantly clear that not only was it the right choice, he has a chance to be a really special pitcher in the back end of a bullpen.

Jansen had a great debut season in 2010, posting a minuscule 0.67 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. He also posted an ungodly 582 ERA+ and 13.7 K/9 rate. While his ERA and WHIP aren't as good as his 27-inning debut season, he's been arguably better in 2011 and nearly unhittable since returning from the minors and disabled list in the middle of June.

Since June 18, his numbers have been video game-like:

24 2/3 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 10 BB, 42 K (15.2 K/9)
0.36 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, .077 BAA

Like I said, video game-like. The most impressive number might be the one run allowed, which he gave up on Sept. 1.

Jansen's K/9 rate is 15.18, which, if he keeps up his current pace, would be the second-highest of any reliever in MLB history behind Carlos Marmol's insane 15.99 K/9 rate in 2010.

While Javy Guerra has gotten a lot of praise for the job he's done as the Dodgers' closer, Jansen has been the best reliever in the National League -- if not the Majors -- in the last nearly two months.

So what's made him so dominant? It has to be the addition of his cut fastball.

Prior to the season, the big question surrounding Jansen was how was he going to compliment his mid-90s fastball? His slider has potential, but is inconsistent. His curveball is a last-resort-type pitch.

So, he decided to throw a variation of a fastball.

Former Dodger and Yankee Dioner Navarro said Jansen's cutter reminds him of Mariano Rivera's cutter.

When I watched Jansen pitch on Saturday night against the Giants, I couldn't help but think the same.

Jansen gave up one hit before striking out two of the three remaining batters to get out of "trouble." He got Aubrey Huff on three consecutive cutters -- all of which were in the strike zone, but Huff had zero chance of hitting them.

Rivera has made a career on one pitch, because he threw is with pinpoint accuracy, velocity and incredible movement. Jansen's cutter isn't there yet -- and might not ever be -- but it has the potential to be on the level.

According to Texas Leaguers, in 2011, Jansen has thrown his cutter 71.7 percent of the time. In September, he's thrown it 88.6 percent of the time. He's thrown it harder now than he did earlier in the season, too.

Cutter velocity 2011: 93 MPH
Cutter velocity in September: 94.3 MPH

He's pretty much abandoned his other pitches. Now, he might have to develop an off-speed breaking pitch in the future, but for now, he's riding his cutter, ala Rivera.

It's worked for Mariano, why not Kenley?


To stick with the Jansen/bullpen theme....

Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. beat me to it, but it also broke down Jansen's dominance since returning from the disabled list.

Chad Moriyama
of the aptly named,, has a great breakdown of the Dodgers' bullpen and how the "cheap" guys are actually the best pitchers (also published on TBLA).

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Dodgers and Andre Ethier need to quit playing games

The Dodgers and Andre Ethier are playing the "say all the right things" game and trying to posture when instead both should just shut up.

In Thursday's Los Angeles Times' article, Dylan Hernandez writes Ethier wants to stay.
"While reiterating his desire to remain with the Dodgers, Ethier was noncommittal when asked if he would be open to signing a multiyear extension at a time when his value could be relatively low.

"I have no idea," he said. "I'm concerned about getting this right, fixing this and making myself the best I can be for next year."
We all know what Ethier said in Spring Training and what he said just last month. I understand why he keeps wanting to say the right things, but it's clear to me his interest in staying with the Dodgers long-term is lukewarm at best.

*I have no inside information or know the inner workings of Ethier, but that's what it looks like on the outside.*

General manager Ned Colletti has stated his desire to keep Ethier long-term, even though it would be a mistake to give him a long-term, big-money deal.
"Ethier, 29, won't be eligible for free agency until after next season, but Colletti has said he wants to sign him and Matt Kemp to long-term contracts this winter."
Kemp, yes. Ethier, no.

Ethier is going to need knee surgery, but the article said it might be a minor procedure. Despite that, Ethier will be entering his age-30 season and his power numbers have been declining since 2006.
  • 2008: 20 HR, 38 2B, 5 3B, .510 SLG, .885 OPS
  • 2009: 31 HR, 42 2B, 3 3B, .508 SLG, .869 OPS
  • 2010: 23 HR, 33 2B, 1 3B, .493 SLG, .857 OPS
  • 2011: 11 HR, 30 2B, 0 3B, .421 SLG, .789 OPS
While he hit more doubles and home runs in 2009 than he did in 2008, he had fewer at-bats in 2008, leading to a better slugging percentage and OPS.

These numbers do not scream, "5-year, $70 million deal." Granted, he has been injured this season, but he also put up some of his best numbers with Manny Ramirez hitting behind him, which I briefly detailed back in 2009.

Unfortunately, the Dodgers aren't going to be able to maximize the return for Ethier with a pending offseason surgery and down numbers. If they had moved him in June, as I said, things could be different.

A couple years ago, this thought would never have crossed my mind. Now, I'm probably president of the "Trade Andre Ethier" fan club. I don't have anything against him personally, but he does pick some rather inopportune times to say things. That, coupled with a decline in production, makes it much easier for me to stomach him playing elsewhere.

There's no doubt in my mind he'll be a good hitter when he returns from injury, but he might not ever get back to his 2008-09 days. He's entering the tail end of his prime and a big investment from the Dodgers -- years- and money-wise -- might not be the best move.


Clayton Kershaw strengthened his Cy Young argument, tossing eight innings of one-run ball (unearned) last night against the Giants. He now leads the Majors in ERA (2.36), just slightly ahead of the Reds' Johnny Cueto. He also leads the National League in innings pitched and strikeouts.

These are his numbers in his last 12 starts:

10-2 W-L
7.6 IP/GS
66 H
18 R
12 ER
4 HR
18 BB
93 K
1.19 ERA
0.92 WHIP
.201 BAA


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

2011 Los Angeles Dodgers' All-Prospect Team

The Dodgers' minor league system enjoyed the most success it has in a long time with three teams advancing to their respective postseasons.

With good team performances comes good prospect performances. So, here is my 2011 All-Prospect team for the Dodgers.

To be eligible for this team, the player must have been a prospect to start the 2011 season.

Catcher: Gorman Erickson, 23, High-A/Double-A
.293/.379/.486, 13 HR, 66 RBI, 14.1% BB rate
- I wrote a piece on Erickson a few days after Federowicz was acquired. Even with Federowicz good month of August in the Pacific Coast League, I still like what Erickson brings to the table. His 14.1 percent walk rate is impressive and he is clearly No. 1 on the catching depth chart for me. He finished 2011 in Double-A and I bet he returns there to start 2012 with a midseason call-up a possibility.
Second team: Tim Federowicz, 23, Triple-A

First Base: Scott Van Slyke, 25, Double-A
.348/.427/.595, 20 HR, 92 RBI, 45 2B
- Van Slyke is the odds-on favorite to win the Southern League MVP award, according to an unbiased source -- me. He led the league in batting and doubles and was second in total bases. While his prospect star has never shone too bright, he's making some noise in the Dodgers' organization and could get a look on the 2012 Opening Day roster. This slot could have gone to Sands or Songco, but they'll be mentioned later on.
Second team: O'Koyea Dickson, 19, Rookie-Ogden

Second Base: Ivan DeJesus, 24, Majors/Triple-A
Majors: .188/.235/.188, 6 RBI, 2 BB
Minors: .310/.389/.432, 8 HR, 59 RBI, 11.6% BB rate
- DeJesus actually made the Dodgers' Opening Day roster in 2011, but he could never get on track with the big club. However, a hot second half in the PCL made him the clear choice for this team. He should get a September call-up any day now, seeing as the Isotopes are no playoff-bound.
Second team: Justin Sellers, 25, Triple-A/Majors

Third Base: Tony Delmonico, 24, High-A
.268/.387/.424, 12 HR, 63 RBI, 14.4% BB rate
- Delmonico has always been a favorite of mine, but I liked him a lot more when he was a catching prospect. At 24 and in High-A, his prospect status is dwindling. His walk rate is impressive, which leads to an impressive on-base percentage (compared to his batting average). He could be a late bloomer, ala Van Slyke, but I wouldn't expect him to be much more than a 24th/25th man on a Major League roster. The fact that he's the Dodgers' best third base prospect says something about the lack of talent at the position in the minors.
Second team: Russ Mitchell, 26, Triple-A/Majors

Shortstop: Dee Gordon, 22, Triple-A/Majors
Minors: .333/.373/.410, 6 3B, 24 RBI, 30 SB
Majors: .277/.288/.336, 6 2B, 7 RBI, 16 SB
- Gordon might be one of the most-liked players in the organization. His happy-go-lucky attitude plays well, and he can play a little himself. Despite striking out more than half the times he did in Triple-A, he's still the Dodgers' future shortstop. He's 16-for-19 in stolen bases in the Majors, so Davey Lopes' impact is apparent.
Second team: Jake Lemmerman, 22, High-A/Double-A

Left Field: Angelo Songco, 22, High-A
.313/.367/.581, 29 HR, 114 RBI, 48 2B
- Songco could very well be my Dodger Minor League Hitter of the Year. After a late-season slump in 2010, Songco did the exact opposite this season. He hit a respectable .301/.360/.504, with 10 HR, 49 RBI and 21 2B in the first half, but took his game to another level in the second: .324/.375/.660, with 19 HR, 65 RBI and 27 2B. He led the California League in doubles and total bases. He should be the starting first baseman or left fielder for Chattanooga in 2012.
Second team: Joc Pederson, 19, Low-A/Rookie-Ogden

Center Field: Alfredo Silverio, 24, Double-A
.306/.340/.542, 16 HR, 85 RBI, 18 3B
- Silverio made my 2010 second team as a left fielder, but he three-quarters of his games in center field this season -- and he had a career-year. His 18 triples and 289 total bases led the Southern League. He's a free-swinger, so his prospect star isn't as bright as it could be, but he could be a serviceable fourth outfielder in the Majors. He'll probably start 2012 in Albuquerque.
Second team: Trayvon Robinson, 23, Triple-A

Right Field: Jerry Sands 24, Triple-A/Majors
Minors: .278/.344/.586, 29 HR, 88 RBI, 10.3% BB rate
Majors: .200/.294/.328, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 13.6% BB rate
- Sands started off the Triple-A season on fire, earning a call-up to the Dodgers. He started slow for Los Angeles but seemed to be heading in the right direction, even hitting a monsterous grand slam in Houston. At that time, he was hitting .239/.343/.413 and looked like he was ready to take the league by the horns. However, he struggled and was sent back to Triple-A. The team tinkered with his swing, leading to a poor performance for most of the second half (.246/.306/.536). A late-season surge boosted his overall numbers. If the Dodgers move Andre Ethier this off-season, Sands would be the odds-on favorite to start in right field in 2012.
Second team: Blake Smith, 23, High-A

Starting Pitcher 1: Rubby De La Rosa, 22, Double-A/Majors
Minors: 2-2, 2.92 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 11.7 K/9
Majors: 4-5, 3.74 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 8.9 K/9
- De La Rosa was electric in the minors and the majors. Tommy John Surgery ended his 2011 and likely most of his 2012 season. Still, he showed he has the stuff to be a quality Major League starting pitcher. His fastball is the highest in terms of average velocity of any starting pitcher in the Majors -- including Justin Verlander. He'll be a fixture in the Dodgers' 2013 rotation.

Starting Pitcher 2: Nathan Eovaldi, 21, Double-A/Majors
Minors: 6-5, 2.62 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 8.7 K/9
Majors: 1-2, 3.09 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 6.5 K/9
- Eovaldi has been the biggest surprise prospect this season. He was ranked No. 28 in my preseason rankings and did nothing but show he's a legitimate arm. Now, his future might lie in the bullpen, but for 2012, he should be a starter on this team. Like most young pitchers, he needs to improve his control and miss a few more bats.

Starting Pitcher 3: Garrett Gould, 19, Low-A
11-6, 2.40 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 7.6 K/9
- Gould has long since been a favorite of mine and he came into his own this season. He led the Loons' starters with 2.40 ERA and 123 2/3 innings pitched. There was some concern with his velocity coming into the season, as he worked in the mid-to-upper-80s last season. He got back to the low-90s this season, and the numbers speak for themselves. He should start at Rancho next season with a potential mid-season promotion to Chattanooga (ala Allen Webster).

Starting Pitcher 4: Angel Sanchez, 21, Low-A
8-4, 2.82 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 7.6 K/9
- Sanchez seemingly came from out of nowhere to put up some impressive numbers in his first year of professional ball. His ERA and WHIP are identical to Gould's and he put himself on the prospect radar. It'll be interesting to see how he does in the hitter-friendly California League in 2012.

Starting Pitcher 5: Zach Lee, 19, Low-A
9-6, 3.47 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 7.5 K/9
- This one was between Lee and Webster, but I gave the nod to Lee because of Webster's poor second half with the Lookouts. Lee was the Dodgers' prized possession from the 2010 draft and had a solid debut season. Lee is quite polished for his age and should get a taste of the Cal League in 2012. The Dodgers have been known to push their young, first-round high schoolers, so it wouldn't be shocking for Lee and his four-pitch repertoire to make it to Tennessee.

Second five: Webster, Chris Withrow, Aaron Miller, Red Patterson, Jon Michael Redding

Relief Pitcher 1: Kenley Jansen, 23, Majors/Double-A/High-A
Majors: 2-1, 3.30 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 15.0 K/9
Minors: 0-1, 3.38 ERA, 0.62 WHIP, 14.6 K/9
- Jansen burst onto the scene in 2010, posting a 0.67 ERA and 13.7 K/9 rate. He was set to be the closer if Jonathan Broxton and/or Hong-Chih Kuo failed -- which they ultimately did. Jansen got off to a bit of a tough start, but has been lights-out since giving up five runs to the Braves on April 19. In 35 innings (32 games), he has a 1.28 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 15.4 K/9 and a .104 BAA. He could be in line to close games in 2012 for the Dodgers.

Relief Pitcher 2: Javy Guerra, 25, Double-A/Majors
Minors: 1-0, 1.06 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, 3 SV
Majors: 2-0, 2.19 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, 15 SV
- Guerra was not considered a prospect by most, yet somehow found himself in the Dodgers' bullpen in May. He's been one of the most consistent performers of the Dodgers' relief corp. Guerra has magically found control after not being able to do so in eight minor-league seasons (2.7 BB/9 in MLB, 5.2 BB/9 in MiLB). He probably won't be this good, but he could be serviceable bullpen arm for years to come.

Relief Pitcher 3: Shawn Tolleson, 23, Low-A/High-A/Double-A
7-2, 1.17 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 13.7 K/9, 25 SV
- Tolleson was a 30th-round steal for the Dodgers in 2010, and his 2011 performance is something to be quite excited about. Tolleson started with the Loons where he had a 19.8 K/9 ratio. That's unheard of. He moved up to the Quakes for 9 2/3 innings, striking out 15.8 batters per nine before spending the bulk of his season with the Lookouts. For Chattanooga, he pitched 44 1/3 innings and struck out 55 batters -- good for only a 11.2 K/9 rate. He could challenge for a bullpen spot with the Dodgers in Spring Training.

Relief Pitcher 4: Logan Bawcom, 22, Low-A/High-A
5-3, 3.09 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 11.3 K/9, 27 SV
- Bawcom enjoyed most of his success in the Midwest League, but made it to the Cal League for 21 2/3 innings. His overall 11.3 K/9 rate and 3.00 K/BB ratio are nice. He needs to have a little better control, though (3.8 BB/9, which isn't terrible). He should start 2012 in Tennessee.

Relief Pitcher 5: Steven Ames, 23, High-A/Double-A
2-2, 2.06 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 12.9 K/9, 14 SV
- Ames is a lot like Bawcom and enjoyed a nice season between Rancho and Chattanooga. For the Quakes, he had a better-than-Cliff-Lee-like 14.00 K/BB ratio and a 16.4 K/9 rate. Ames, like Tolleson, could challenge for a bullpen spot with the Dodgers. If he doesn't make it, he could start in Double- or Triple-A in 2012 and be one of the first relievers in line for a call-up.

Second five: Josh Lindblom, Cole St. Clair, Javier Solano, Scott McGough, Josh Wall

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Could the Dodgers have 3 postseason MVPs?

The Dodgers' terrible season (although better of late) could still net the organization some postseason hardware.

Matt Kemp, Scott Van Slyke and Angelo Songco all have legitimate chances at their respective league MVP awards.

National Leauge
Contenders: Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Kemp, Justin Upton

.335/.404/.590, 26 HR, 94 RBI, 31 SB, 6.5 bWAR, 6.0 fWAR
- Braun has taken him game to another level. He's always had a little speed -- averaged roughly 16 stolen bases a season in his first four years -- but he's up to 31 stolen bases this season. He also has a career-high .404 OBP. He's missed 12 games this season, but he's still putting up MVP-caliber numbers.

.297/.408/.552, 31 HR, 107 RBI, 31 2B, 4.4 bWAR, 4.4 fWAR
- Fielder has been just as valuable as Braun has been to the Brewers. He has an impressive 89/89 BB/K ratio and he's putting up a .400-plus OBP four the third consecutive season. He could steal votes away from Braun (and vice versa) come voting time.

.320/.401/.570, 32 HR, 105 RBI, 37 SB, 8.5 bWAR, 6.7 fWAR
- He's is having an extraordinary season for a bad baseball team. He leads the National League in total bases and posted the first 30-30 season for the Dodgers since Raul Mondesi in 1999. He's been one of the best, most consistent players in the league. He leads all four candidates in Baseball-Reference WAR and FanGrapgs WAR. If the Dodgers were anywhere near contention, he'd win the award going away.

.295/.376/.536, 26 HR, 81 RBI, 20 SB, 4.0 bWAR, 6.4 fWAR
- Upton is the weakest of the quartet, but he's been an integral part of the Diamondbacks' success this season. He has an All-Star catcher (Miguel Montero) and a rookie (Paul Goldschmidt) protecting him in the lineup. Montero is a solid player, but not exactly the type of protection Upton needs to thrive. Upton would need a late-season surge to leap frog the other three candidates.

Southern League
Candidates: Goldschmidt, Ernesto Mejia, Alfredo Silverio, Van Slyke

.306/.435/.626, 30 HR, 94 RBI, 82 BB
- This is the same Goldschmidt who is currently protecting Upton in the D-Backs' lineup. Goldschmidt was tearing up the Southern League before his call-up. His 30 home runs is still tied for the league lead. If he played the entire season in Mobile, he'd be Van Slyke's biggest challenge for MVP.

.297/.378/.527, 25 HR, 96 RBI, 36 2B
- Mejia is leading a 59-79 Mississippi Braves' team. He's the only player on the team with more than seven home runs. He's third in the league in home runs, leads in RBI and is third in total bases. He's probably Van Slyke's biggest contender for the award.

.304/.338/.543, 16 HR, 85 RBI, 18 3B
- Van Slyke's teammate is making his own case for SL MVP. His 18 triples lead the league, as well do his 287 total bases. He's also second behind Van Slyke with 42 doubles. He's having a breakout season as a prospect.

Van Slyke
.348/.427/.595, 20 HR, 92 RBI, 45 2B
- Van Slyke has been on fire for the last month-plus. He leads the league in batting average and doubles. His OPS is second in the league and all his slash stats are Top 5. He's been the best player in the league and should walk away with the award handily.

California League
Candidates: Gary Brown, Kole Calhoun, Michael Choice, Josh Rutledge, Songco

.338/.408/.517, 13 HR, 79 RBI, 51SB, 113 R
- The Giants' prospect is second in the league in runs scored and leads the league in triples (13). His on-base percentage is fifth in the league and his 51 stolen bases are third in the league. He also plays on the league's best team (90-48).

.323/.410/.546, 22 HR, 97 RBI, 20 SB
- Calhoun is third in the league in OBP (among qualified players) and is a 20-20 player. His .956 OPS is the best of all players with more than 100 games played.

.287/.378/.541, 29 HR, 79 RBI, 28 2B
- Choice is the youngest of the five candidates and is tied with Songco for the league lead in home runs. His Stockton Ports are 10 games over .500, but 16 games back of the San Jose Giants. He probably won't get much play for the award.

.351/.414/.521, 9 HR, 70 RBI, 90 R
- Rutledge leads the league in batting average and his .935 OPS is third-best in the Cal League. Like Choice with the Ports, his team is eight games over .500, but trail the best team in the league by 17 games.

.314/.366/.583, 29 HR, 113 RBI, 47 2B
- Songco is leading the league in slugging percentage (.583), doubles (47) and total bases (308) and has been on fire for the last month. That, coupled with the Quakes' dominance of the South Division should make him the front-runner. However, the voters will be hard-pressed to look beyond Brown's performance for the Giants.


So, could the Dodger trio all bring home the hardware? Sure. Van Slyke looks to be a lock for the award. Kemp will have a hard battle against Braun and Songco could lose out to two or three of the guys listed above.

In a season that's been so dismal, it's nice to have a ray of hope from three different leagues.