Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dodgers trade Lindblom and Martin to Philly for Victorino


Best lede ever, right? Well, this is far from the best trade ever. I'm not upset the Dodgers are close to sending reliever Josh Lindblom and an unknown second player to the Phillies for Shane Victorino.

I don't have time for instant analysis, but I'm not especially in favor of this deal. Victorino is a marginal upgrade at best and the Dodgers still need a big bat. Let's hope there's some deadline magic in Ned Colletti's Blackberry.

Update: Ethan Martin is the other player. I don't like this one bit. Martin had struggled this far in his minor-league career, but he finally seems to be figuring it out. Not sure why the Dodgers felt compelled to include a prospect of his ilk to acquire a rental player in Victorino.

There's no guarantee he remains in the rotation long-term, but his arm is something you don't just "throw in" for a mediocre player like Victorino.

Here's hoping the next "big bat" is still coming because Victorino is not that guy.

Photo credit: wonderwallwoody, Flickr

Monday, July 30, 2012

Dodgers acquire Brandon League for Leon Landry and Logan Bawcom

The Dodgers traded Leon Landry and Logan Bawcom to the Mariners for Brandon League tonight, but I'm not really sure why this deal was made.

I'm not really ever high on trading for relievers, especially for relievers who can't get strikeouts. Despite being a power arm, League's strikeout rate is less than impressive. His career strikeouts per nine innings pitched is 6.6 -- not exactly great for a guy who averages nearly 96 MPH on his fastball.

As a 26-year-old in Toronto, League averaged 9.2 strikeouts per nine in 74 2/3 innings. That was clearly an aberration. His second-best mark is 6.6 K/9, set last season when he was an All-Star.

Ahh, that's it. Ned Colletti can't help but trade for All-Star relievers. We all remember Edwin Jackson and Chuck Tiffany for Danys Baez and Lance Carter, right? But I digress.

League's best pitch might be his split-finger fastball, which he added in 2009. FanGraphs has it valued at 3.0 this season after it was a 3.4 pitch last season. His 95.2 MPH fastball is a 1.3 pitch right now.

But I don't understand this because I didn't see right-handed relief pitcher as high on the list of Dodger needs. Another starting pitcher and bat are much, much higher on the list.

League is owed roughly $1.8 million for the rest of the season, which I'm sure the Dodgers will pick up. He'll also be an unrestricted free agent after the season, so this is purely a rental. Then again, Colletti has been known to give relievers undeserved, long-term deals, so maybe League will be around for a bit (depending on performance, of course).

I'm higher than others on Landry, as most see him as just a fourth outfielder. However, I think what he's doing in the California League is impressive. Yes, I'm sure the numbers are inflated a little, but he has ability. He was a third-round pick in 2010 out of LSU and cracked my Top 10 the following season after a stellar debut.

When I see a poor man's Carl Crawford in him -- a poverty-stricken version is more like it. Still, he has talent and ability. His worst tools are his power and arm. But he has good speed, can put the bat on the ball and plays a slick center field.

Bawcom is a good relief prospect. He began the season with High-A Rancho Cucamonga and was quickly promoted to Double-A Chattanooga. He struggled for a bit after his promotion, but he seems to have figured it out. He should join a prospect-laden Jackson Generals' team.

It's hard to get too upset at this deal. After all, the Dodgers again dealt from their depth. Outfield and right-handed pitching are the two deepest positions in their farm system. However, they still dealt for a "proven" reliever. That hasn't especially worked out well in the Colletti era (Baez, Carter, George Sherril, Octavio Dotel, etc.).

I'm assuming League will split time with Ronald Belisario in the eighth inning. This also opens up the Dodgers to trade Josh Lindblom, whose name has come up in talks for Shane Victorino.

I'm expecting at least one more trade before tomorrow afternoon, but hopefully two (a starting pitcher and another bat). I'm just hoping Victorino isn't the other bat acquired.

Photo credits
League: swswigart, Flickr
Landry: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Dodgers have interest in Shin-Soo Choo and Hunter Pence

I'm writing this on the road, so my apologies for the lack of visuals, depth and links.

The Dodgers are reportedly interested in Indians' outfielder Shin-Shoo Choo.

Some words that immediately come to mind: fantastic, awesome, amazing, WANT.

The 29-year-old outfielder is due a significant pay raise next season in his last year of arbitration and will be a free agent following the 2013 season.

Some wonder if the Indians will move Choo. Well, they're looking for a Major Leaguer who has less than three years of experience and is good. Well, the Dodgers don't have many of those guys -- they just traded their best one in Nathan Eovaldi.

However, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports tweeted the Dodgers are definitely interested in Choo.

It'd be awesome to acquire him, but they probably have a better chance of acquiring Hunter Pence from the Phillies. They'll need to clear salary after signing former future Dodger Cole Hamels to a massive $144 million contract.

In either of these deals, the Dodgers would have to include Zach Lee, another top pitcher (Chris Reed, Allen Webster, etc.) and one more good youngster. I wonder if the Indians are intrigued with Jerry Sands after his two-grand slam game on Sunday?

Anyway, it should be an interesting couple days. The Dodgers will definitely add a bat and starting pitcher before tomorrow at 1 p.m. I'm eagerly awaiting the announcements.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Three days until the trade deadline, who are the Dodgers going to get?

It sounds greedy, but the Dodgers aren't done yet. After filling a need a third base with Hanley Ramirez and left-handed relief pitcher with Randy Choate, the Dodgers still have a couple more needs.

General Manager Ned Colletti wants to acquire a starting pitcher and another position player.

The Dodgers were rumored to really like Matt Garza, but his recent diagnosis (fluid in triceps) means he likely won't be dealt before Tuesday's trade deadline.

The Dodgers have also been in on Ryan Dempster from seemingly the beginning of his availability. The smart money is on Dempster donning Dodger Blue by Tuesday, but they could go in another direction.

Zack Greinke was dealt to the Angels on Friday, which was a hell of a deal for Anaheim. Now, the two biggest names linked to the Dodgers are Marlins' starter Josh Johnson and Rays' starter James Shields.

Frankly, either one would be a fantastic addition to the rotation. Johnson has injury concerns but is the more talented pitcher. Shields is a workhorse and he showed his true potential last season with a fine campaign.

The Marlins are reportedly asking for every team's "top two or three prospects," while the Rays are asking for more than the Brewers got in return for Greinke.

The likelihood of the Dodgers ending up with either Johnson or Shields are slim, but the fact they're even been rumored to have serious interest in big names such as these is so refreshing.

Ted Lilly is throwing a rehab game in Rancho Cucamonga next week. His pending return, coupled with an acquisition, should set the Dodgers' rotation for the rest of the season.

I'd bet on Dempster being a Dodger and the team sending Garrett Gould and Aaron Miller to Chicago for his services.

As for hitters, the name Justin Morneau keeps coming up. While I like idea, I'd almost want the Dodgers to acquire an outfielder before Morneau. I'll explain shortly.

Shane Victorino remains on the radar and while he's a real possibility, I really don't want him in Blue.

Hunter Pence, Victorino's teammate, would be the ideal acquisition. He's not a free agent until after 2013 and is about the best bat available -- if the Phillies decide to formally make him available. Pence's acquisition would also allow the Dodgers to bat Ramirez in the leadoff spot, which might be the best thing for the team right now.

Pence would be pricey, but I don't think I'd have much issue dealing two or three top prospects for him.

But back to Morneau. While I wouldn't be opposed to the Dodgers taking a chance on him rebounding to his MVP form, I'm more worried about his defense. He's not a great defender at first, but he's serviceable. However, with Ramirez at third base and Dee Gordon at shortstop, the Dodgers are going to need a a good defensive first basemen. Despite James Loney's struggles at the plate, he's still a great defensive first baseman. He's among the best -- if not the best -- at digging throws out of the dirt. Ramirez and Gordon aren't exactly known for their defense, so if the Dodgers can upgrade at another position, they can afford to keep running Loney out there at first base.

Who knows, maybe he'll realize it's nearly August and he'll kick it into gear.

So, we're about 73 hours away from the 1 p.m. deadline. There are still a lot of pieces in play and the Dodgers appear determined to upgrade the roster even more.

The team had its ups and downs this season. With the possibility (probability) of upgrading the team to be a playoff and even championship contender, this is one of the "up" moments.


The Dodgers land Dempster and Victorino. Victorino, as much as I can't stand him, could be in the same boat as Ramirez as needing a change of scenery. He's a free agent after the season and the Phillies aren't going to re-sign him. The cost for Victorino would be minimal (a guy like Angel Sanchez could probably get him) and there's a slight chance he could revert to his previous form.

I can't stand Victorino, but I could see him starting in left field on Wednesday for the Dodgers.

Photo credits
Johnson: MissChatter, Flickr
Victorino: wonderwallwoody, Flickr

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dodgers get the better end of the Hanley Ramirez deal

The Dodgers did something they haven't done in awhile -- acquire an impact bat. But the fact it was a young impact bat was quite surprising and pleasing.

Hanley Ramirez is the Dodgers' newest addition and should be around for quite some time.

Look, I know he's not the Ramirez of 2006-09 who hit .316/.387/.531, but he has the potential and ability to be that player.

This is a classic change-of-scenery situation and I have no reason to believe Ramirez won't recapture some of his former glory.

There's no reason not to like this deal if you're a Dodger fan. Sure, they gave up Nathan Eovaldi, but it's a small price to pay for a former superstar who isn't washed up.

Ramirez is just 28 years old and is signed through the 2014 season. Here's a breakdown of his contract from Cot's:
  • 2012: $15 million (less than $6 million remaining)
  • 2013: $15.5 million
  • 2014: $16 million
He also gets a $50,000 bonus for making the All-Star team.

It may seem like a lot for a guy batting less than .250, but this gamble is one the Dodgers needed to take. And no matter what happens, even if Ramirez hits at the level he's hitting right now, it will still have been a successful trade.

The only way this doesn't work out in the Dodgers' favor is if Eovaldi turns into a legitimate No. 2 starter and Ramirez doesn't excel.

When talented players become available, acquiring them is usually a good idea. Ramirez is a supremely talented player and the Dodgers got him.

Until Dee Gordon returns, I'd play him at shortstop. He started his first game at third base, so it's nice to see he's willing to play there long-term. The truth is, Ramirez has never been even an adequate defender at shortstop, but he's hit well while playing shortstop.

It's all about keeping him comfortable in my eyes. He's on a team in which he doesn't have to be "the man." That's Matt Kemp's job. He can thrive as a key component to a playoff-contending team -- hopefully a championship contender.

Ramirez also hit in the No. 5 spot in his Dodger debut. If I'm Don Mattingly, I bat Ramirez leadoff. While his speed isn't completely wasted in the 5-hole, it could be better utilized in the leadoff spot. Plus, Gordon wasn't exactly lighting up the world hitting first. This would make acquiring another middle-of-the-order bat a must, which is on the Dodgers' shopping list.

The Dodgers also acquired Randy Choate, who will be the primary left-handed pitcher out of the bullpen. The 36-year-old holds left-handed hitters to a measly .150 batting average and just two extra base hits (both doubles). He's exactly what the Dodgers needed in the bullpen. This will allow Scott Elbert to pitch more meaningful innings instead of being the only lefty out of the 'pen.

The Marlins' return, while not a lot in terms quantity, is not too bad in quality considering the Dodgers picked up all the money in this deal.

Eovaldi, at worst, will be a late-inning reliever. His makeup is such that he could handle and eighth- or ninth-inning role without much concern. However, his value right now remains in the rotation. He has the ability to be a No. 2 starter. However, a No. 3 or No. 4 guy is more likely -- and there's nothing wrong with that.

Eovaldi's fastball is his best pitch. It sits in the low-to-mid-90s with wicked movement. His breaking pitches are where he needs improvement. His slider is probably his second-best pitch, but it's an average offering at best. His curveball, while good at times, can get a bit loopy and sloppy. His changeup is a work in progress and his cut fastball is a new addition.

The repertoire is there, but he needs to nail down a couple of those secondary pitches to remain in the rotation. That, and he needs to start missing more bats. With that kind of fastball, he should be able to post a better K/9 than 5.6 in the majors. That's something the Marlin coaching staff must work on.

The final piece of the deal was Scott McGough. McGough, a 2011 5th-round pick, pitched well in his debut season. He's pitched the entire season in the California League and started off well. However, his ERA and WHIP have ballooned a little, but his K/9 is still impressive for a guy in his first full professional season (9.1). He has a low-to-mid-90s fastball and a slurvey breaking ball. He needs to improve that breaking pitch to be more than a middle reliever. If he can do it, the Marlins might have a future closer on their hands.

So, the Dodgers gave up a couple talented arms for a former and potential superstar (seems weird to write that). The Dodgers were able to use their best asset -- deep pockets -- to make this deal happen. It seemed the Dodgers weren't going to be able to swing a deal or acquire a decent player without giving up Zach Lee. However, they found middle ground with the Marlins and were able to absorb all the money, allowing them to acquire Ramirez.

And by moving Eovaldi, the Dodgers are almost a lock to trade for a starting pitcher (*cough* Ryan Dempster *cough*) before Tuesday's trade deadline.

I absolutely love this deal and I still can't believe it happened. I wish Eovaldi and McGough all the luck in the world, but the Dodgers got the better end of this deal.

Photo credits
Ramirez: SD Dirk, Flickr
Eovaldi: Eephus Blue, Paint the Corners
McGough: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Dodgers land Hanley Ramirez for Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGough

Well, this is certainly some fantastic news to wake up to. The Dodgers have acquired Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate from the Marlins for Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGough.

Wow. I'm still not sure how to react. I'll do a more in-depth post later, but I wanted for fire this one off before going to work.

It seems the Dodgers' checkbook finally paid off (sorry) for them as they're picking up all of Ramirez's $37.3 to $39 million remaining on his contract.

As much as I like Eovladi, the Dodgers are getting a former superstar who should be in his prime for a guy who has middle-of-the-rotation upside. However, there's always been concern about his ability to stay in the rotation long-term.

It's not yet determined where Ramirez will play or hit in the lineup, but he's volunteered to play either shortstop or third base.

Also, it seems logical to bat him fifth, but I'd stick him in the leadoff spot. He's had tons of success hitting leadoff in the past and it could rejuvenate him.

That's all I have time for. Like I said, I'll do more analysis later.

Welcome to Los Angeles, Mr. Ramirez. Here's hoping your stay is longer and better than the last Ramirez the Dodgers acquired.

Photo credit: SD Dirk, Flickr

Monday, July 23, 2012

Dodgers should pursue Hanley Ramirez instead of Chase Headley

While the hottest Dodger rumor of the day is a Matt Garza trade involving Zach Lee and others, there is a potential trade not many are talking about.

The Dodgers have needed to add quality bats to the team for years. That's no secret and this year is no exception. But in this wafer-thin market, there aren't a lot of options.

The Padres appear to be asking a lot for Chase Headley, who is the best third baseman reportedly on the market.to get him, the Dodgers would likely have to deal Lee and at least another B-/C+ prospect to get him. While he's under control through 2014 and should perform much better outside the unfriendly confines of Petco Park, I'm still not sure I'd be rushing to give up Lee to get him.

At this rate, I might not even give up Allen Webster to get Headley. Webster's resurgence has been fantastic to see.

But should the Dodgers be looking elsewhere for offensive help?

The Marlins have reportedly been gauging trade interest in their shortsop-turned-third baseman Hanley Ramirez.

From Scott Miller of CBS Sports:
"Rival executives who have spoken with Marlins people believe they've never been more open to the idea. Halfway through a bitterly disappointing season, the Marlins aren't so much trying to blow things up (as they have in the past) as they are simply trying to change the ingredients.

It's not that they think they're that far from winning so much as the Marlins simply do not like their team. They've decided that the mix is bad, the pieces don't fit, the personalities have not coalesced.

In other words, they've come to terms with the obvious."
With the Marlins' big trade today, moving Ramirez indeed seems more likely than ever.

Ramirez, a former batting champion, 30-30 man and MVP runner-up, has not been the same player he was as recently as 2010.

Ramirez is hitting just .245/.328/.405 in the last two seasons. His 2011 was shortened by injury and his 2012 is marginally better.

Despite the lack of production, the price to get him -- prospects- and money-wise -- will be greater than that of Headley. Still, if Ramirez is available, the Dodgers need to get in on the sweepstakes.

Let's face it: they're not going to get Justin Upton (as much as I'd love that). If it comes down to Ramirez and Headley, I'm taking Ramirez (if not both, which would gut the system).


Hanley Ramirez
Pros: Age, power, past performance, speed, SS or 3B
Cons: Attitude, declining production, owed roughly $39 million through 2014, poor defense

Chase Headley
Pros: Age, defense, friendly contract, no attitude, on-base ability
Cons: Lack of power, limited ceiling, no superstar potential

The Marlins signed Jose Reyes to a big contract in the offseason and moving Ramirez to third base hasn't exactly worked out offensively or defensively.

What would it take to get him?

Editor's note: After some feedback, it's been determined I'm giving up too much in this deal. So, I've amended it by removing Joc Pederson.

To Florida: Lee, Scott Van Slyke, Chris ReedShawn Tolleson
To Los Angeles: Ramirez, Ricky Nolasco

I'm not saying it's a good possibility the Dodgers get Ramirez, but considering the Padres want a lot for an affordable Headley and the Dodgers would have to pay a premium with an interdivision trade, Ramirez might make more sense.

The Marlins get salary relief (to use on free agents in the winter), a Top 50 prospect in Lee and a budding Top 100 prospect in Pederson. Reed has lots of talent but is still an unknown. Van Slyke is a guy who can player right now for the Marlins and Tolleson is a quality bullpen arm who can go right into their bullpen. The Fish always seem to acquire MLB-ready relievers in trades.

The Dodgers get a legitimate stick in Ramirez and a starting pitcher in Nolasco who is owed about $16 million through next year. Ramirez is due about $39 million through 2014.

The best asset the Dodgers' favor right now is the ability to take on money (and not just in lieu of including quality prospects). Ownership has not been quiet about that fact. This could be a golden opportunity to put that benefit into effect.

Ramirez is a risky acquisition, but it's a risk well worth taking. He has superstar potential, even if he hasn't shown it for the last few seasons. The Dodgers cannot go forward with Luis Cruz at shortstop. Until Dee Gordon returns, I'd play Ramirez at shortstop and bat him leadoff. He's enjoyed a lot of success out of the leadoff spot in his career.

Ramirez, like another Ramirez the Dodgers acquired a few years ago, needs a change of scenery. This move would also allow the team go acquire a guy like Justin Morneau (another risky proposition) which would immediately improve the lineup.

Photo credits: SD Dirk, Flickr

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Dodgers switch focus from Ryan Dempster to Matt Garza

Despite reports, the Dodgers are probably still monitoring the Ryan Dempster situation. However, they've now apparently shifted their focus to Matt Garza.

I looked at Dempster v. Garza last month and said either would be a solid acquisition. Dempster would be cheaper (or so we thought) and Garza would cost more. That hasn't changed.

But Garza isn't much better than one Chad Billingsley. Their numbers are eerily similar. In fact, Billingsley's career numbers are better than that of Garza's.

So, the question becomes: What would you give up for Chad Billingsley? Because that's basically the pitcher a team would acquire.

For Garza, I'd make guys like Zach Lee, Allen Webster and Joc Pederson off limits. I'd rather the Dodgers keep those guys or use them to get a bat.

The trade deadline is less than 10 days away. If the Dodgers are still insistent on buying (which they are), it's going to be an extremely interesting 10 days.

The rumor mill is already running rampant. The Dodgers have been linked (in some way) to the following players in addition to Dempster and Garza: Michael Cuddyer, Chase Headley, Cliff Lee, Hanley Ramirez, Jimmy Rollins and some I'm sure I missed.

The team remains intent on acquiring a bat, a starting pitcher and a left-handed reliever. Ned Colletti, Stan Kasten and Co. will be awfully busy in the coming days. Let's just hope no foolish deals are made.

Photo credit: dbking, Flickr

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 10 -- Dodgers, Puig, Seager, prospects

After a brief hiatus, "Dugout Blues" is back on the air. In this episode, Jared Massey and I talk about a lot of the goings-on we missed, including the Dodgers' terrible offense, the return of Matt Kemp, Chase Headley trade rumors, Yasiel Puig signing, Corey Seager, a draft wrap-up and my most recent prospect rankings.

Libsyn link
Direct link
iTunes link

We'll likely record another episode on Sunday. Could we be talking about a Ryan Dempster acquisition? I wouldn't be surprised.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Not understanding the Dodgers' reported interest in Jimmy Rollins

The Dodgers are reportedly interested in Jimmy Rollins, but I'm not exactly sure why.

Sure, he'd be an upgrade over guys like Luis Cruz and Elian Herrera, but Rollins isn't exactly a great player anymore and will likely regress in after this season.

Rollins signed a 3-year, $33 million contract this offseason and is owed roughly $5 to 6 million for the rest of this season. He also has a vesting option for 2015. From Cots:

"2015 option guaranteed at $11M with 1) 600 plate appearances in 2014 or 2) 1,100 PAs in 2013-14 and Rollins is not on disabled list at end of 2014 season (or if he is on the DL, a mutually agreed upon doctor deems him available for 2015 Opening Day roster)

If option does not vest, Phillies hold $8M club option for 2015 and Rollins holds $5M player option"

Not exactly attractive. While the price to acquire him would be minimal (especially if the Dodgers pay all his salary), it also means there'd be the question of what to do when Dee Gordon returns from injury.

The Dodgers need help at almost every position -- shortstop included. However, acquiring a high-priced veteran and stunt the development of a young shortstop isn't the way to go.

Rollins is on the wrong side of 30, has declining defensive skills and a poor on-base percentage (.317 this season, .329 for his career). The investment is not a smart one. The Dodgers need to allocate their resources elsewhere in hopes of an upgrade.

Every day Chase Headley is not a Dodger is a day his price goes up. Of course, the Padres need to be willing to trade him (no reason they shouldn't be), but they're waiting for as long as they can to get the best deal.

Photo credit: SD Dirk, Flickr

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Chad Billingsley's elbow MRI could impact John Ely and Ryan Dempster

News broke this morning that Dodgers' starting pitcher Chad Billingsley was scratched from his start because of an "undisclosed injury."

Undisclosed injury progressed to elbow tenderness which progressed to him needing an MRI.

Oh boy. Elbow MRIs are never a good thing. Even if it isn't the worst (torn ulnar collateral ligament), he'll probably need a disabled list stint.

Reports are Billingsley felt the pain for the last few starts, but thought it was just normal soreness. He told Manager Don Mattingly about it yesterday (something Mattingly wasn't happy about), leading to today's scratch.

It's hard to know how long Billingsley's been hurting. His fastball velocity has been inconsistent in his last five starts.

Date       Avg       Max
6/16       91.5       93.7
6/22       92.4       94.5
6/27       91.5       93.0
7/2         92.3       93.8
7/7         91.4       92.6

So, we'll see what happens with the results of the MRI. I'm not optimistic.

That means we could see John Ely quite soon. The 26-year-old is having a stellar season for the Isotopes in the Pacific Coast League: 3.22 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 1.8 BB/9, 9.7 K/9 and a 3.29 FIP.

If anyone in the minors deserves a shot this season, it's Ely. His turnaround has been remarkable considering he struggled mightily in Albuquerque last season: 6.11 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 6.2 K/9, 4.78 FIP).

It also means we could see a trade sooner rather than later. It's 16 days to the trade deadline and the Dodgers have been linked to Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and Cole Hamels. The Dodgers have scouts watching both teams.

I wrote about Dempster and Garza last month, but I've yet to write about Hamels. Apparently, the Dodgers have a deal on the table for Dempster that includes two pitching prospects. Some speculated (myself included) about who the pitching prospects might be. Garrett Gould, since he was on the table for Carlos Lee, is likely to be one of them. It's anyone's guess who else it could be, but the names Chris Withrow and Aaron Miller came up.

We'll see what happens with the MRI and the potential trade, but I'd bet a lot of money that Dempster will be in Dodger Blue within the next 10 days.

Photo credits
Billingsley: SD Dirk, Flickr
Dempster: mootown, Flickr

Friday, July 13, 2012

Getting ready for Dodger Blogger Night

Well, I made it to Los Angeles for Dodger blogger night.

Nothing like a 400-mile drive to see the Dodgers. Sounds like a lot, but it really isn't that bad a trek. It's my first appearance at my Holy Grail (Dodger Stadium) since 2010.

Anyway, I'm really looking forward to the night's events and meeting some of the other Dodger bloggers in person.

Follow me on Twitter (@FeelinKindaBlue) for updates and photos of the evening.

A big thank you goes out to the Dodgers an their staff for putting together what promises to be a fun night of baseball.

Go Blue!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My mideason Top 25 Los Angeles Dodgers' prospects

We're just more than half way through the Major League season, which means there's only a couple months remaining in the minor league season. It's time for a prospect update.

Since I did a Top 50 prospect list in November, I'm going to unveil my midseason Top 25 Dodgers' prospects. There's been an infusion of new players from the draft and International signings, some risers and fallers. Preseason rankings and ranking differential are in parenthesis.

1. Zach Lee, RHP (1)
Started: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
Current location: Double-A Chattanooga
- Lee is the Dodgers' best prospect and was promoted to Double-A last month. He's made just three starts. But he was successful in Rancho Cucamonga, despite an ERA in the mid-4s.  His walks per nine innings rate (1.9) is awfully impressive for a 20-year-old in just his second season of professional baseball. He's also striking out more batters per nine innings this season (8.2) than last (7.5), so there has been overall improvement in his performance.

2. Corey Seager, SS/3B (Not ranked)
Started: Rookie League Ogden
Current Location: Ogden
- Seager, the Dodgers' first-round pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, hurdles a lot of decent prospects to land the No. 2 spot on this list. He's only played in four games (all at shortstop), but his potential is the best of any prospect in the system. The Dodgers plan to keep him at shortstop until he shows he can't handle it, but he's going to have to slide over to third base as he progresses through the minors. Ogden is the perfect place for him right now as an 18-year-old. Depending on performance, he could either go back to Ogden in 2013 or be pushed to Great Lakes.

3. Allen Webster, RHP (3)
Started: Double-A Chattanooga
Current Location: Chattanooga

- Webster's career in Chattanooga has been up and down. He started off this season quite poorly (7.49 ERA in his first seven starts), but has been really good since that time. He still possesses the necessary tools to be a middle-of-the-rotation starter. He might be the next starting pitcher in line for a promotion to Los Angeles after John Ely. I wouldn't expect him in LA until 2013 at the earliest, though. Oh, and he's given up just one home run in 81 2/3 innings this season. That's studly.

4. Yasiel Puig, CF/RF (NR)
Started: Rookie League Arizona
Current Location: Arizona
- There are 42 million reasons for this ranking. Dodgers' Assistant General Manager Logan White called him the system's top hitting prospect. I have him right behind Seager because Puig hasn't even played a game for the AZL Dodgers yet. In fact, he hasn't played organized baseball in more than a year. But when a player draws comparisons to Vladimir Guerrero and Sammy Sosa (pre-PEDs, I hope), it's hard to overlook that.

5. Joc Pederson, CF (6, +1)
Stared: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
Current Location: Rancho Cucamonga
- Before Seager was drafted and Puig was signed, Pederson was set to be a Top 3 prospect in the system. Well, a Top 5 showing isn't too bad for a 20-year-old. He's hitting .294/.370/.433 in the California League and has been hot of late. While he likely ends up in left field long-term, he has center field ability. He's been hitting in the No. 2 hole a lot in Rancho and I could see him as that kind of hitter in the majors. I wrote a scouting report on him in mid-June.

6. Chris Reed, LHP (19, +13)
Started: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
Current Location: Double-A Chattanooga
- A preseason oversight on my part, Reed is one of the best Dodgers' prospects. However, there's still question whether he can be a starting pitcher. Despite putting up some really good numbers (2.52 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 5.9 H/9, 9.2 K/9), he hasn't been throwing many innings. He even spent some time on the disabled list with shoulder fatigue. So, this is a cautious ranking for me because I'm still not sure he's a starting pitcher long-term.

7. Blake Smith, RF (9, +2)
Started: Double-A Chattanooga
Current Location: Chattanooga
- Smith is emerging as one of the Dodgers' best hitting prospects, even if others don't agree. The positives: a .189 ISO (above-average), 11.6 percent walk rate, .376 on-base percentage. The negatives: He's a touch old for Double-A (24) and his K-rate is still a bit high for my liking (26.3 percent). He also plays really good defensive in right field. He's even logged nine games in center field this season.

8. Ethan Martin, RHP (37, +29)
Started: Double-A Chattanooga
Current Location: Chattanooga
- I had all but given up on Martin as a prospect, let alone a starting pitcher. Well, he's proved me wrong, as you can see by his 29-spot leap. Martin has been the most consistently good pitcher for the Lookouts this season and finally seems to be turning the proverbial corner. He still gets in trouble with the walks, but he's becoming more of a pitcher than a thrower.

9. Garrett Gould, RHP (4, -5)
Started: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
Current Location: Rancho Cucamonga
- Gould has fallen slightly because of his own performance, but mostly because of additions and other prospects showing improvement. His ERA isn't great (4.61), but his a lot of his peripherals are great. Velocity has always been an issue with Gould and he'll need to consistently work in the low-90s to reach his potential as a No. 3 starter. I wrote a scouting report on him for Chad Moriyama's blog.

10. Alex Castellanos, 2B/OF (21, +11)
Started: Triple-A Albquerque
Current Location: Albuquerque
- Castellanos has absolutely destroyed Pacific Coast League pitching this season (.359/.450/.658) and has done so as a second baseman. When he was recalled to LA, he played in the outfield. So, I'm not exactly sure what the Dodgers want to do with him. But there's no doubt he has potential in his bat. Despite being an older prospect, he has one of the most intriguing bats in the system. He'll likely be a September call-up.

11. Scott Van Slyke, OF/1B (15, +4)
Started: Triple-A Albquerque
Current Location: Los Angeles Dodgers
- Van Slyke, like Castellanos, is having his way with PCL pitching (.326/.404/.576) but has struggled in his brief big league stint. He did have a mammoth pinch-hit home run to win a game for the Dodgers, but that's about it so far. He's also an older prospect, so the clock is ticking on him.

12. Shawn Tolleson, RHP (8, -4)
Started: Double-A Chattanooga
Current Location: Los Angeles Dodgers
- Tolleson dominated the Southern League (again), earning a call-up to Triple-A. He struggled a little there, but was still rewarded with a Major League gig. However, he's had a hard time throwing strikes (five walks, one hit-by pitch in 5 2/3 innings) and could use a little more seasoning in the minors.

13. Leon Landry, CF (18, +5)
Started: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
Current Location: Rancho Cucamonga
- I tabbed Landry as one of my Dodger prospects with the most to gain before the season, and he's definitely showing his potential with the Quakes. He's posting the best numbers of any offensive prospect in Rancho (.331/.364/.524) and is playing solid defense in center field (also spent some time in left). Landry is age-appropriate for the league (22) and it will be interesting to see how he handles the Southern League next year.

14. O'Koyea Dickson, 1B (20, +6)
Started: Low-A Great Lakes
Current Location: Great Lakes
- The first Loon makes the list and it's the team's best hitter in Dickson. He's struggled a lot since the All-Star Break (.138/.250/.241), but he was on fire before the break (.331/.442/.564). He probably should have been promoted to Rancho by now. The 22-year-old needs perform well against advanced pitching to be considered a legitimate prospect. He also needs to be given a chance.

15. Logan Bawcom, RHP (26, +11)
Started: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
Current Location: Double-A Chattanooga
- Bawcom might be one of the most underrated prospects in the system. His Tollesonian K/9 (15.4) is what intrigues me most. It also got him promoted to the Lookouts. He's been less effective in Chattanooga, but he's been solid.

16. Angel Sanchez, RHP (5, -11)
Started: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
Current Location: Rancho Cucamonga
- Sanchez hasn't flourished in the Cal League as he did in the Midwest League last season, causing him to fall in these rankings. His 5.40 ERA isn't even the biggest concern. His 10.4 H/9, 1.3 HR/9 and 4.46 FIP are more concerning. He's struggled to develop a consistent breaking ball. Without one, he could be destined for the bullpen. But he's still young.

17. Jake Lemmerman, SS/2B (10, -7)
Started: Double-A Chattanooga
Current Location: Chattanooga
- Lemmerman started the season poorly before getting hot in early May. But since May 9 when he was hitting .329/.420/.553, he's struggled big time. He's at .251/.361/.366 right now. The on-base percentage is great (considering the low batting average), but he's looking more and more like a utility player (as everyone but myself believed) than an every day player.

18. Ryan O'Sullivan, RHP (NR)
Started: Low-A Great Lakes
Current Location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
- O'Sullivan began the season in the Loons' bullpen before working his way into the rotation. He pitched well (2.92 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 3.55 FIP, 2.9 BB/9) and was promoted to Rancho Cucamonga where he's thrown just six innings. He has the stuff to miss more bats, so it'd be nice to see him do so. The 21-year-old will likely finish the season and begin next season in Rancho.

19. Aaron Miller, LHP (24, +5)
Started: Double-A Chattanooga
Current Location: Chattanooga
- Miller has been healthy this season, something he's struggled with in the past. However, he hasn't been throwing deep into games (4.96 innings per start). His BB/9 is way too high (5.1), as is his WHIP (1.47). However, his H/9 (8.2) and K/9 (8.5) are solid. He, as was speculated by some when he was drafted, could end up in the bullpen.

20. Chris Withrow, RHP (12, -8)
Started: Double-A Chattanooga
Current Location: Chattanooga
- Withrow, in his fourth year with the Lookouts, hasn't figured it out. At this point, it seems he might not ever figure it out. He's struggled, been on the disabled list twice and is now working out of the bullpen. I'm betting the Dodgers keep him in the bullpen for an extended time (like the rest of the season) before re-evaluating what they plan to do with him. The good thing is, he can still strike batters out (9.3 K/9), so not all hope is lost; just hope of him being a starting pitcher in the majors.

21. Onelki Garcia, LHP (NR)
Started: Rookie League Arizona
Current Location: Arizona
- Garcia, the Dodgers' third-round draft pick, has yet to throw a pitch in the minors, but his talent and potential are enough to land him in the Top 25. The Dodgers would have drafted him in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft if he were eligible, so to snag him in the third round this year was a nice get. He has a low-90s fastball and an above-average curveball. He'll need to develop a third pitch to remain in the rotation long-term.

22. Angelo Songco, 1B (6, -16)
Started: Low-A Great Lakes
Current Location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
- Songco, after a really good 2011 season, started the 2012 on the disabled list. He had a metal rod placed in his leg after he injured it last season. To my surprise, he struggled in the Midwest League. Now, he struggled there every time he's gone, but I expected more out of him. He's back in Rancho and he might remain there the rest of the season. He was supposed to be in Chattanooga to begin the season, but his injury kept him from being a Lookout.

23. Tim Federowicz, C (30, +7)
Started: Triple-A Albuquerque
Current Location: Albuquerque
- Acquired in the Trayvon Robinson deal last year, Federowicz has been solid for the Isotopes this season. His .301/.366/.466 triple slash earned him a spot in Triple-A All-Star Game. He's the team's best catching prospect after Gorman Erickson fell flat on his face this season with the Lookouts and Pratt Maynard has struggled a little with the Loons. He's still a glove-first catcher and could be the Dodgers' backup catcher in 2013.

24. Steve Ames, RHP (17, -7)
Started: Double-A Chattanooga
Current Location: Chattanooga
- Ames has fallen, but not because of his performance. He's pitched well (2.04, 1.23 WHIP, 9.5 K/9), but his ceiling is limited. Still, he owns a low-90s fastball and a good slider that has worked for him thus far.

25. Eric Eadington, LHP (NR)
Started: Low-A Great Lakes
Current Location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga

- Eadington, a Harvard graduate, was outstanding with the Loons (13.8 K/9, 27.00 K/BB, 0.96 WHIP) and earned a promotion to Rancho. He's stepped in as the team's primary closer and has been solid. He has a low-to-mid 90s fastball and a decent curveball. Though he's a little old for the league (24), he has potential as a left-handed reliever.

The next five (in alphabetical order): James Baldwin, Matt Magill, Brandon Martinez, Scott Schebler, Steven Rodriguez

Graduated: Nathan Eovaldi (2), Josh Lindblom (14)
Released: Tony Delmonico (46)
Dropped out of Top 25: Alfredo Silverio (11), Erickson (13), Baldwin (16), Jonathan Garcia (22), Maynard (23), Schebler (25)
Moved into Top 25: Seager (NR to 2), Puig (NR to 4), Bawcom (26 to 15), O'Sullivan (NR to 18), Garcia (NR to 21), Eadington (NR to 25)
Biggest riser: Martin (37 to 8)
Biggest faller: Erickson (13 to 40)

The system overall is stronger after a solid draft and the signing of Puig. The fact that five of my Top 10 prospects are hitters is a good sign. I realize I'm higher on Smith than others, but the other four are legitimate rankings.

Photo credits
Federowicz: EephusBlue, Paint the Corners
All others: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

2012 Los Angeles Dodgers' midseason analysis and grades

This has been one of the stranger Dodger seasons I have ever witnessed. They've gone from baseball's best team to possibly baseball's worst lineup. Despite that, they still hold a half-game lead over the Giants in the National League West.

The Dodgers are 47-40 and will get healthy following the All-Star Break. Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier should both be back in the lineup, giving it some much needed punch. Mark Ellis is already back and the starting rotation, save Ted Lilly, has been healthy and good the entire season. The bullpen, despite some perception, has been strong once again.

Dodgers' first-half grade: B
- This would have been higher if the team had been better while Kemp was out. It's hard to lose baseball's best player and still be a good team, but the offense was historically bad for a stretch last month. Still, the pitching has kept them in most every game and the bullpen, despite injuries, has been solid again. The Dodgers once had a 7 1/2 game lead on the Giants, so it's a little disappointing to see it only at a half-game right now. But at this time last year, they were 11 games behind the Giants, so they're definitely in a better position this year. The patchwork lineup (outside of Kemp and Ethier) has been good enough thus far. It'll be interesting to see what's in store for the second half.

Here's my grade breakdown of all the players who have played on the team this season.

A.J. Ellis
.285/.404/.425, 7 HR, 28 RBI, 43 BB, 3.0 fWAR
- Ellis has been nothing short of amazing this season. I penned a post about him in May when he was on fire. He's fallen off a bit since then, but his .404 on-base percentage leads the team (Kemp excluded). He was once thought to be a part of the worst catching unit in the majors. Now, he's a top 10 catcher in baseball. Grade: A

James Loney
.247/.309/.333, 2 HR, 24 RBI, -0.2 fWAR
- This is pretty much typical Loney at this point in his career. His glove is outstanding, but nothing else about his game is. He's struggled the entire first half after finishing 2011 on such a strong note. The Dodgers nearly acquired Carlos Lee (thank you for invoking your no-trade clause) to replace Loney, so it's clear the Dodgers are at their wit's end with Loney. I wouldn't expect him to be the Dodgers' first baseman post-July 31. Grade: F

Mark Ellis
.271/.371/.361, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 1.5 fWAR
- Ellis was among the leaders in runs scored when the Dodgers were hot in April. He was a stabilizing presence in the lineup until he suffered a leg injury in May. It was so serious that he was close to having his leg amputated. Thankfully (and obviously), that didn't happen. He's been back for a week and should help the lineup improve in the second half. Oh, and that 100-point difference in batting average and on-base percentage is a welcoming, wonderful sight. Grade: B+

Dee Gordon
.229/.280/.282, 1 HR, 17 RBI, 30 SB, -0.8 fWAR
- Gordon has been up and down this season, and when he's been up, it hasn't been that high up. He does lead the majors in stolen bases at 30, but he's not even pulling a .300 on-base percentage. Could you imagine? He was even removed from the leadoff spot (to eighth) for a time and seemed to get back on track. But that didn't last. Gordon just suffered a dislocated thumb and will be out until sometime in August or even early September. His defense has been less-than stellar, which was expected. Being the leadoff man for a playoff-contending team is a lot of pressure for a guy in his first full season, but the ability is there. However, I expected Gordon to be better than he's been so far. Grade: D+

Juan Uribe
.194/.250/.271, 1 HR, 13 RBI, 0.0 fWAR
- Laugh. Out. Loud. Grade: ... Is there anything worse than an "F"?

Bobby Abreu
.272/.371/.377, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 0.7 fWAR
- When Abreu was signed, I didn't think much of it. He, like a lot of Dodgers this season, got off to a fast start before tailing off significantly in June. But he was a cheap pickup and has produced more than I expected. Going forward, his playing time needs to be reduced so his effectiveness doesn't suffer. Grade: B-

Matt Kemp
.355/.444/.719, 12 HR, 28 RBI, 2.3 fWAR
- Kemp was on a torrid pace before injuring his hamstring in May. He came back two weeks later and promptly injured it again. That flat-out sucked. The Dodgers have suffered mightily without him. He still leads the team in home runs despite playing just two games since May 13. He just finished a four-game rehab stint in the minors and participated in the Home Run Derby on Monday (still bested Mike Piazza's mark of zero home runs). He's ready to go. Grade: A- (because of injury)

Andre Ethier
.291/.357/.491, 10 HR, 55 RBI, 2.6 fWAR, $85 million
- Ethier got off to a hot start and was promptly rewarded with a 5-year, $85 million contract extension with the Dodgers. He was once the NL leader in RBI and leads the team. He's the team's second-best hitter and finished his first half on the disabled list for a strained oblique. Like Kemp, though, he should be good to go on Friday for the start of the second half. Grade: B

Clayton Kershaw
6-5, 2.91 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 8.9 K/9, 0.2 fWAR
- Kershaw has "struggled" a little this season. Hell, 95 percent of pitchers would love to "struggle" like he has. However, he hasn't been as sharp as he was last season. His slider isn't doing the things it did last year. It's gone from his best pitch his worst pitch. Despite that, his peripherals are still great and I'm expecting a strong second half from the reigning Cy Young Award winner. Grade: B+

Chad Billingsley
4-9, 4.30 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, 0.3 fWAR
- I think I'm going to start calling him the enigma. Billingsley has the tools to be a No. 2 starter, but consistency is his issue. Some are calling for him to be traded, some are calling for him to be demoted to the bullpen. Whatever the reason for his struggles, Billingsley still has a world of ability and the Dodgers need him to pitch better in the second half. Grade: C+

Ted Lilly
5-1, 3.14 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 5.7 K/9, 0.0 fWAR
- Lilly got off to a great start before injuring his shoulder. The injury is reportedly so severe the Dodgers are looking for a starting pitcher prior to the trade deadline. Lilly wasn't striking a lot of guys out, but he was still effective. I don't know if his numbers would look this good had he not been hurt. A low K/9 and poor K/BB (the latter is an abnormality for him) is playing with fire. Still, he was effective while healthy. Grade: B

Chris Capuano
9-4, 2.91 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 8.1 K/9, 0.1 fWAR
- Capuano has done a good job replacing Hiroki Kuroda this season and has been the Dodgers' most consistent pitcher in my eyes. He's pitching over his head a bit, but he's been effective and I'm hoping it continues. I don't expect him to finish the season with a sub-3 ERA, but, as of now, he's the Dodgers' No. 2 starter (not that it means much). Grade: A-

Aaron Harang
6-5, 3.51 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 7.0 K/9, -0.1 fWAR
- Harang hasn't been as good as Capuano, but he's been solid. That 1.42 WHIP doesn't translate to a mid-3 ERA (neither does his 4.0 BB/9 and 1.77 K/BB), so something will have to give in the second half. But for a No. 5 starter, the Dodgers can't really expect or ask much more. Grade: B-

Nathan Eovaldi
1-5, 4.21 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 4.6 K/9, 0.0 fWAR
- Eovaldi was stellar until his last two starts in June (10 1/3 IP, 17 H, 13 ER, 1 K). He stepped in admirably for the injured Lilly and should remain in the rotation until Lilly is healthy or another starter is inevitably acquired. Eovaldi has made strides with his breaking stuff (particularly his curveball) and has been getting beat on his fastball a bit this season. He'll need to develop more consistency and miss a few more bats going forward. Grade: C

Ronald Belisario
3-0, 1.53 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 7.4 K/9, 0.2 fWAR
- I was not in favor of Belisario getting a spot in the bullpen despite not pitching in 2011. But I was clearly wrong on this one. Belisario had a great first half and stepped for the injured Matt Guerrier. His sub-2 ERA and sub-1 WHIP isn't exactly sustainable, but the Dodgers might as well ride him until he crashes. Grade: A-

Scott Elbert
1-1, 2.73 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 9.2 K/9, 0.1 fWAR
- Like Coffey, Elbert got off to a rocky start but has been lights-out since early May. Id like to see another lefty acquired so Elbert can be utilized better. Grade: B+

Javy Guerra
2-3, 3.12 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 8 saves, 0.6 fWAR
- Guerra began as the team's closer and was great in the first couple weeks. Ineffectiveness and an injury ultimately led to him losing the closer's role.He just returned from injury and should be a cog in the bullpen for the rest of the season. Grade: B-

Kenley Jansen
4-2, 2.06 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 14.4 K/9, 15 saves, 1.1 fWAR
- Jansen's 2012 is eerily similar to his 2011 season. He started off slow and has been dominant ever since. He's given up more home runs this season (four) than he did last season (three), so that's a concern. Other than that, his H/9, BB/9 and K/BB are all lower than last season, which is great to see. He probably should have been an All-Star selection. Grade: A

Josh Lindblom
2-2, 3.07 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 7.7 K/9, -0.7 fWAR
- Lindblom has worked the most innings out of the Dodger bullpen in the first half (41) and is tied with Jansen for the most appearances (39). Aside from a couple hiccups last month, he's been great. Overuse is a concern, but he has the frame to handle a heavy workload. Grade: B+

Jamey Wright
3-2, 3.79 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, 0.2 fWAR
- It's a wonder how Wright does it, but he's been somewhat effective as the long-man out of the Dodgers' bullpen this season. Let's face it: anything good Wright does is a positive. He was a non-roster invitee and had to earn his way onto the team. He's been better than expected, especially when expectations are extremely low. Grade: B-

Todd Coffey, Grade: C+
Matt Guerrier, Grade: C-
Shawn Tolleson, Grade: D
Mike MacDougal, Grade: F

Jerry Hairston, Grade: B
Ivan DeJesus, Grade: B-
Tony Gwynn, Grade: C
Elian Herrera, Grade: C
Matt Treanor, Grade: C-
Adam Kennedy, Grade: D+
Juan Rivera, Grade: D+
Justin Sellers, Grade: D+
Scott Van Slyke, Grade: D
Alex Castellanos, Grade: INC
Luis Cruz, Grade: INC
Jerry Sands, Grade: INC

Photo credits
Kemp: EephusBlue, Paint the Corners
Kershaw: SD Dirk, Flickr