Thursday, May 31, 2012

Report: Alex Castellanos recalled Dodgers, to make ML debut soon

With Matt Kemp likely heading to the disabled list after reaggravating his hamstring injury on Wednesday night, the Dodgers are set to recall Alex Castellanos from Triple-A Albuquerque.

The Castellanos fan Twitter account first brought us the news:
"You heard it here first!! Alex Castellanos is officially a member of the LOS ANGELES @Dodgers !! ‪#DodgerNation‬ he flies out TODAY!!!"
The owner of the account later revealed he is Castellanos' best friend and received a phone call earlier today.

If you needed more confirmation, Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus tweeted this:
"Sources have confirmed: The ‪#Dodgers‬ have called up 2B Alex Castellanos. I'm a believer in his bat."
The 25-year-old is just destroying Pacific Coast League pitching this season. He has a .379/.476/.759 line in 22 games. He missed about a month with a hamstring injury.

Still, the Dodgers recalled him primarily to play second base, reportedly.

While Tony Gwynn will be the biggest beneficiary of Kemp's absence, as he will be his primary replacement in center field, a couple infielders could feel the effects of this move even more.

With Mark Ellis out, Elian Herrera and Ivan De Jesus have been getting the playing time at second base. With Castellanos coming up, it appears Herrera will return to his "normal" utility role, backing up at third base, center field and second base. De Jesus should be the primary backup second baseman.

As I said with Scott Van Slyke -- whose time with the Dodgers will likely be extended due to the Kemp injury -- prospects should not be recalled just to ride the pine. If Castellanos is coming up, he needs to be playing nearly every day.

Yet, Van Slyke hasn't played since May 27. Hopefully Don Mattingly doesn't let these prospects just wallow on the bench. If they're not going to play consistently, send them to or keep them in Triple-A. It doesn't help a young guy's development to eat sunflower seeds and chew Bazooka Joe on the bench.

But back to Castellanos. He's a work in progress defensively. He's not going to be better than any of the other four guys who have played second base this season (Ellis, De Jesus, Herrera, Jerry Hairston), but his bat could be better -- and worth whatever the Dodgers lose defensively.

If he doesn't work out at second, he has experience at all four corners -- first base, third base, left field and right field.

I'm excited to see him get a chance. I've grown fond of Castellanos since he was acquired for Rafael Furcal in July. I ranked him as the Dodgers' 21st-best prospect heading into the season -- and he's far surpassed my expectations.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Nathan Eovaldi makes the Dodgers look smart for not signing Roy Oswalt

Look, there's no debating the illustrious career of Roy Oswalt, but perhaps it was a good thing he didn't sign with the Dodgers.

Oswalt signed with the Rangers on Tuesday -- 1 year, $5 million plus $1 million in incentives. That's a pretty decent price and I wouldn't have been opposed to the Dodgers picking him up on a similar deal. But when Nathan Eovaldi has a season debut like he had against Milwaukee, it makes losing out on Oswalt -- who really didn't want to play in Los Angeles -- much more bearable.

Eovaldi threw seven innings of two-run ball last night. The only mistake he made was to Ryan Braun, the reigning National League MVP. The fact the Dodgers couldn't give him any run support is not his fault.

I was also impressed he was able to go seven innings on 90 pitches in his first big league start of the season. His longest outing in the minors was seven innings and was the longest of his Major League career. Not only that, he did it while averaging 95 MPH on both of his fastballs. That's impressive.

He was, however, surprisingly even on groundouts and fly outs (9-9) after posting a 1.75 rate with Chattanooga this season. But he was able to keep the Milwaukee bats in check.

Granted, the Brewers' lineup isn't as good as in years past, thanks to the loss of Prince Fielder and the struggles of Rickie Weeks, but Eovaldi had little trouble dispatching with some solid hitters.

If Eovaldi can step in for Ted Lilly admirably, the Dodgers can focus their resources on improving the offense -- something that is more pressing than another starting pitcher.

Of course, teams like the Mets and White Sox need to stop winning so guys like David Wright and Paul Konerko become available.


Here's my latest "Down on the Farm" report at Here's an excerpt:
"Can there really be a Pitcher Of The Week when the staff allowed 57 runs in seven games? Sure. This week, it’s Ely. Elymania posted a great line this week: 14 IP, 11 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 13 K. This is his second POTW honor, and it’s really surprising to see such a good performance from him in a week the team allowed so many runs. In fact, if you take away Ely’s three runs allowed, the rest of the Isotopes staff allowed 54 runs. That’s … ugly.

After a rough start to the season, Ely has put up some great numbers in an extreme hitter’s league: 3.58 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 0.7 HR/9, 2.2 BB/9, 9.7 K/9, 4.33 BB/K and a 1.85 groundout to flyout rate. He wouldn’t be nearly this good in the majors, but it’s nice to see him pitching well in case the Dodgers need an emergency starter later this season."

John Ely is having a fantastic season for the Isotopes and is renewing faith in myself (for whatever that's worth) that he can be a decent emergency starting pitcher option, if needed.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Dodgers make offer to Roy Oswalt, Lilly's shoulder an obvious concern

This is not the first time I've written about Roy Oswalt and the Dodgers. In 2010, the Dodgers were looking to upgrade the rotation and Oswalt's name frequently came up. Now, nearly two years later, Oswalt and the Dodgers are connected again.

Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports tweeted this earlier today:
"The Dodgers have made an offer to Roy Oswalt. Rangers, Oswalt's likely preference, still in mix, among other clubs."
No word on what the offer might be, but Oswalt was reportedly asking for a prorated salary of $7.5 million for the rest of the season. The Dodgers also reportedly said Oswalt's demands were excessive.

Roy Oswalt, future Dodger?
So, why the need for another starting pitcher? When the news broke yesterday of the Dodgers' interest in Oswalt, it made me scratch my head.

The only way an Oswalt deal makes sense is if Ted Lilly's should injury is deemed to be serious. He went on the disabled list today and Michael Antonini was recalled. That doesn't preclude Nathan Eovaldi from taking Lilly's spot in the rotation on Tuesday, as another two roster moves will need to be made -- a spot cleared for Eovaldi and a spot cleared for Matt Kemp.

Well, the first move has been made: Antonini was literally just optioned back to Albuquerque by the Dodgers. The next presumable move, not announced until tomorrow, is Eovaldi officially being promoted.

Next, one of the two right-handed hitting corner OF/1B Scott Van Slyke or Jerry Sands will be demoted. At this point, I have no idea which one. It doesn't matter much because whoever doesn't go back to Triple-A on Tuesday will later in the week when Juan Rivera is activated. I'll just guess Sands is the odd man out tomorrow.

But back to Oswalt. He's on the Roger Clemens plan right now: Sit out the first couple months, come back for the remainder of the season and potentially the playoffs while making a pretty penny.

Oswalt is said to prefer a team closer to Mississippi, which the Dodgers certainly are not. The Rangers seem to be the Dodgers' main competition for Oswalt.

If the Dodgers can get Oswalt for a decent price (not because the Dodger ownership can't afford it, mind you), then go for it. Oswalt is better than Aaron Harang and has the ability to be better than Lilly, despite Lilly's fast start (including his most recent appearance).

The Red Sox had checked in on Oswalt earlier in the month and the Phillies, Oswalt's most recent team, will always be in the mix.

The Dodgers obviously feel concerned enough about Lilly's health to make this move, so I'd expect some bad news on that front tomorrow. It's too bad as Lilly had been lights-out this season, despite some strange peripherals.

If the Dodgers can get Oswalt to replace Lilly, then it could be a wash. We'll see what happens.


My latest piece at is on Matt Magill and his great performance with the Lookouts thus far. Here's an excerpt:
"By comparison, he outperformed Dodgers top prospect Zach Lee at the same level. Magill bested Lee in ERA, WHIP, H/9, and K/9. Granted, Lee was 19-years-old, but it’s only a one year difference.

Yet, Magill isn’t talked about among the Dodgers best prospects, and I’m just as guilty as the rest. I ranked him No. 11 heading into the 2011 season, but just No. 46 heading into this season. Chad named Magill his 25th-best prospect in the system after a rocky 2011 season with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in the notorious California League.

While there, Magill’s hits per nine rate skyrocketed to 10.1, where his previous career high was 9.1 in his debut season in the Gulf Coast League (as an 18-year-old). This season, it’s at 6.4. His home runs per nine rate is at an all-time low — 0.2 — as he’s allowed just one home run in 48 innings so far in 2012."
Photo credit: Matthew Straubmuller, Flickr

Pair of Dodgers' prospects make season debuts with Loons

Two Dodger prospects are finally healthy and making their season debuts today for the Great Lakes Loons.

Ralston Cash and Angelo Songco are in Midland and playing today. That's encouraging in and of itself, especially since one is coming back from a serious hip injury and one from a leg injury.

Cash, who missed the entire 2011 season with a hip injury, threw 36 innings in his debut season for the Ogden Raptors.

He told me on Twitter earlier this month he hadn't logged a lot of innings since the end of that season.
"Right now pitching in Extended & building my innings up. I only recorded 3 in ST and now I'm up to 8 total since 2010"

Hell, it's just nice to see him back on the mound against live hitting.

Cash's season debut was, for a guy who hasn't been on the hill in more than a year and a half, pretty solid: 
  • 4 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HBP
Cash relieved Jarret Martin, the Loons' starter. Martin threw a perfect inning and struck out one.

He was even on flyouts and groundouts (4-4) and threw less than 75 pitches (no exact count yet, but was at 55 through three innings). His last inning of work was his first 1-2-3 inning of the day.

Update (5/28, 2:20 p.m.): He threw 69 pitches, 44 for strikes.

Cash, 20, was my 32nd-best prospect in the system prior to the season. The 2010 second-round selection would have been ranked higher if he hadn't missed the 2011 season. He has a nice three-pitch repertoire, including a low-90s fastball with movement. In fact, his velocity today is surprisingly solid, sitting anywhere from 89-92 MPH.

Great Lakes figures to be Cash's home for the remainder of the season, provided he stays healthy. And he'll probably be on a strict pitch count in his first few outings and a strict inning limit overall. Seeing as he's thrown eight innings since the end of 2010, that makes a lot of sense. There's no reason to rush Cash along.

Angelo Songco
Songco's debut was delayed because of a metal rod he had inserted into his right leg. He was hit with a pitch late in the 2011 season, which caused a stress fracture. He fought through the injury to post great numbers in the California League last season.

As of right now (12:51 p.m. Pacific time), Songco, who is the designated hitter and No. 3 hitter, is 1-for-3 with an RBI single and a strikeout.

Unlike Cash, Songco isn't long for Great Lakes. I don't know exactly what the Dodgers have in store for him, but he could make a cameo in Rancho Cucamonga before landing in Chattanooga. At 23, Songco has nothing left to prove against younger competition. This is likely a matter of getting him in game shape before taking on the challenge that is Southern League pitching.

I had Songco ranked No. 6 in the system (probably a tad high, injury notwithstanding) after his great 2011 season. Still, Songco has legitimate raw power that he generates from a 6-foot, 195-pound frame.

I honestly didn't expect Songco to be back this soon. When I heard the words "metal rod inserted into leg" and "two to three months," I thought there was no way he'd be back in that time. But here we are, roughly three months after surgery, and Songco is playing.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dodgers' news: Hairston for president, Eovaldi to be recalled, rehab update

Jerry Hairston went 5-for-5 today (his first career 5-hit game) and is more than proving his worth to a team like the Dodgers.

Hairston, a .258/.326/.371 hitter coming into the season, is tearing the proverbial cover off the ball, posting a .381/.458/.524 with more extra base hits (six) than strikeouts (five). To put it lightly, the guy has been a Godsend.

Hairston 2012
He spent a couple weeks on the disabled list, forcing the Dodgers to play Adam Kennedy -- a lot -- at third base. Hairston's presence and his ability to keep Kennedy on the bench should be enough to earn him praise from every Dodger fan. But the fact Hairston is playing as well as he is, well, that's just gravy.

I, surprisingly, was somewhat in favor of this deal.
"The former Brewer, National, Padre, Yankee, Red, Ranger, Cub and Oriole hit .270/.344/.383 last season. He'll be a fine utility player, but did the Dodgers really need him?

Probably not. But it was probably one of the best signings of the off-season, which is saying something for a team in desperate need of offense."
Not only has he mashed at the plate, he's played superb defense -- at both second- and third base. At 35 (36 on Tuesday), the guy might be playing the best ball of his career.

Here's hoping he can keep it up. The Dodgers risk playing him to much and diminishing his value, but he's better than the alternatives (Kennedy, Juan Uribe).


This just in from Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times:
"Nathan Eovaldi appears headed back to the Dodgers to make at least one start for left-hander Ted Lilly."
Eovaldi made a surprise relief appearance last night (was slated to start) and struck out all three batters in his one inning of work.

We've seen Eovaldi mishandled like this as recently as last month, and I was not happy about it.
"Still, the Dodgers need to be careful in situations like this. While Eovaldi could ultimately end up a reliever, his value remains -- for the moment -- in the starting rotation. It's best not to mess with his flow or routine. If he were some journeyman pitcher, this wouldn't be a big deal. But he's the Dodgers second- or third-best prospect and limiting his innings because someone on the big league roster might be hurt could wind up hurting Eovaldi in the long run."
Eovaldi promptly struggled in his first two starts after that episode:
  • May 2: 4 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
  • May 8: 5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
Luckily, the great prospect that Eovaldi is, he figured it out in his previous two starts, allowing just one run in 12 innings of work.

At least it looks like Eovaldi will actually make an appearance this time around, as he was on the 25-man roster for a few days before being sent back to Chattanooga without taking the hill.


Matt Kemp and Juan Rivera have both homered in their first rehab game with the Albquerque Isotopes. They'll both play one more game there before Kemp is activated Tuesday and Rivera is activated later in the week.

Photo credit: SD Dirk, Flickr

Friday, May 25, 2012

Dodgers' 2012 MLB Draft prospect profile: Corey Seager

Corey Seager, 3B/SS
Northwest Cabarrus High School (North Carolina) 
College Commitment: South Carolina 

3B/SS Corey Seager, NW Cabarrus HS (N.C.)

6'3, 190 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
DOB: April 27, 1994

Baseball America: 19 44
Minor League Ball: 48

Corey Seager, brother of Seattle Mariners' infielder Kyle Seager, is a sweet-swinging high schooler who profiles as a third baseman in the Major Leagues. At 6'3/190 as an 18-year-old, he could still grow, which would definitely prevent him from playing shortstop in the majors.

His rankings are all over the place, but Seager's ceiling might be higher than any player the Dodgers could conceivably get at No. 18. While there's significantly more risk with high-ceiling college hitters than with college hitters, Seager appears to be one of the best prep bats available.

Seager also was mocked to the Dodgers by Baseball America.

Scouting Report
Seager's ceiling is as a middle-of-the-order third baseman with power. In fact, he has legitimate opposite-field power as a left-handed hitter.

Defensively, he's destined for third base. However, he's been athletic enough to handle shortstop in high school. A lot of fringe high school shortstop end up moving positions. If he has enough arm to play shortstop, he likely has enough arm to play third base. It's an entirely different position, but the teenager has ample time and opportunity to learn the position.

From Baseball Prospect Nation:
"Seager is one of the surer bets among high school bats. He has an extremely advanced approach at the plate, actually rivaling that of the best approaches featured by high school players three and four years his senior. That, combined with the simplicity of his swing, physicality and easy power projection, leaves Seager with middle-of-the-order upside and the potential to go as high as the first 20 picks in the draft."
All great things here and a lot to be excited about.


Video courtesy of Bullpen Banter, via YouTube

While Richie Shaffer is No. 1 on my draft board, Seager's potential is quite intriguing. He has a lot of "helium," as the MLB Draft gurus say, heading up to draft day, hence the disparity in rankings. If the Dodgers pass on Seager, it wouldn't be the worst thing -- especially considering there's a chance (small as it may be) he could be there at No. 51.

With a lot of helium comes the risk of overdrafting a player. The Dodgers need help at the corner infield spots in the minors, but they must take the best player available on their board at No. 18. If it's Seager, that would be fine with me.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Perfect Game

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Isotopes are about to get stronger, courtesy of the Dodgers

The Albuquerque Isotopes are about to get a lot stronger, and it's not necessarily a bad thing for the Dodgers.

Obviously getting the potential league MVP back is always a plus, but it also allows the Dodgers to give the young-ins the appropriate playing time -- in Triple-A.

Matt Kemp and Juan Rivera at set to make rehab appearances there Sunday and Monday, it means a flurry of roster moves are set to take place.

Kemp can come off the disabled list on May 29; Rivera can be activated at any time.

Jerry Hairston is playing his last rehab game there tonight and will likely take the place of Justin Sellers, who's leg will probably cause him to take his obligatory turn on the 15-day DL. At this rate, it seems as if every Dodger position player will spend some time on the DL this season.

Have fun in New Mexico, Scott.

With Kemp and Rivera coming back, the two most likely candidates to pack their bags are Scott Van Slyke and Jerry Sands.

Van Slyke, despite Sunday night's heroics, is 3-for-18 (.167) in his first 11 big league games. Sands is sitting at 4-for-16 (.250) in six games.

It's been nice to see the funky lineups Don Mattingly has to come up with in the wake of these injuries, but guys like Van Slyke and Sands should be playing every day -- no matter what level of professional baseball. Sitting on the bench isn't going to do either of them any good.

Yes, it sucks that Rivera is going to take the spot of a potentially more talented player, but that's what happens when a guy like that is signed to a $4.5 million deal.

The 'Topes have played .500 ball since losing Van Slyke to the Dodgers on May 9. The offense is filled with a bunch of Four-A players (Josh Fields, Jeff Baisley, Luis Cruz) and older, not-so-good prospects (Brian Cavazos-Galvez, Matt Angle, Tyler Henson). Albuquerque should welcome back these two thumpers with open arms.

But it's nice for them -- especially Van Slyke -- to get a taste of the majors in preparation for another assignment or a September call-up.


My latest piece at Chad Moriyama is on another former Isotope who should be safe from a demotion, for now.
"When Elian Herrera was recalled to the Dodgers more than a week ago, I’m sure almost no one, besides maybe Christopher Jackson of the Albuquerque Examiner, knew who he was.

Now, after eight games, he’s making his mark on an injury-riddled team and he might not be the one taking the first flight back to Albuquerque when the rest of the infield gets healthy (starting potentially with Jerry Hairston, Jr. this weekend). He has a .346/.393/.462 line in those eight games, and while there’s absolutely no way he keeps that kind of production up, he’s off to a nice start in the majors."


From Ken Gurnick at Matt Guerrier has been shut down, which means we get to see more of Todd Coffey. However, it might not be too long as Blake Hawksworth (remember him?) is getting closer to a return.Well, at least he'll pitch against real competition for the first time since last season.

Guerrier is experiencing pain in his elbow, which originally landed him on the DL. Hawksworth is still in Arizona at Camelback Ranch and recovering from two elbow surgeries.

Mark Ellis, poor guy, had another emergency surgery on his leg after it became swollen. The initial prognosis was six weeks, but I'd be shocked if Ellis is back any time before September. Perhaps I'm being pessimistic, but he's gone through a lot for a seemingly innocuous play.

Photo credit: EephusBlue

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' No. 6 -- Dodgers' hot streak, top offensive prospects, plus other news and notes

In this episode, Jared Massey and I talk about the Dodgers' current hot streak (before last night's epic comeback victory), the strong pitching from Ted Lilly and Chris Capuano and our top five offensive prospects after nearly two months of the season.

Libsyn link
Direct link
iTunes link

Next week, we'll be talking draft. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask us.

Links from around the Web

Ten years ago, Shawn Green set a Major League record and tied another, courtesy of Chris Jaffe at Hardball Times. I was at work when my dad called me and said, "Did you see what your boy did?" I hadn't heard anything yet, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear about his record-setting day.

Andre Ethier, the subject of a post here earlier this month, told Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times he and his agent won't put any kind of deadline on potential contract extension talks.

Jim Shonerd, who has written the Dodgers' Top 30 prospects for Baseball America the last two years, had a nice blog post about Ethan Martin's encouraging season so far with the Lookouts.

More Ethan Martin love here from Chad Moriyama. Martin was his No. 21 prospect heading into the 2012 season.

And more from -- my latest piece on the Dodgers' minor league week in review for the week of May 14. Here's an excerpt:
"Player Of The Week

Blake Smith – OF

Unlike the choices for Albuquerque, this one was a no-brainer. Smith was named the Southern League Player Of The Week, so he naturally wins this week’s award (his second overall). Smith went 8-for-18 (.444) with two home runs, two doubles, a triple, and 11 RBI.

Smith has struggled in Double-A so far, posting a .255/.335/.453 line with a 27.7 strikeout percentage. However, he’s shown some on-base ability (9.7 percent walk rate) and some pop (.453 slugging). He just needs to focus on making more contact."

Mike Petriello has a post letting us know the Dodgers' "patchwork" lineup is making a name for itself in the all-time Dodger record book.

#AJ2KC: If this isn't the best website these days, I don't know what is. This was developed by Dodger fan Stephen Caver, who also redesigned Petriello's website, Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness. Also follow the Twitter account, @AJ2KC.

Ron Cervenka puts things in perspective for fans who are a little too amped up during Dodger games.

Jon Weisman is having a hard time explaining the Dodgers' recent success.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dodgers' 2012 MLB Draft prospect profile: Richie Shaffer

Richie Shaffer, 3B/1B
Clemson University

3B/1B Richie Shaffer, Clemson

6'3, 205 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
DOB: March 15, 1991

Baseball America: 21 17
Minor League Ball: 12

Richie Shaffer was drafted by the Dodgers in the 25th round of the 2009 MLB Draft. He fell that far coming out of high school because of signability issues. But that's not to say the Dodgers didn't make a valiant effort to get him signed. Shaffer ultimately chose college over 25th-round money (more like first-round money, but you get the point).

It's rarely smart to draft for need in the MLB Draft, but if Shaffer were available at No. 18, he'd likely be the best player available and would fill a need in the minors.

Scouting Report
From everything I've read and heard, Shaffer has a legitimate bat that could play at either corner infield position. His glove, however, might limit him to first base -- but that remains to be seen.

From MLB Draft Guide:
"Offensively, Shaffer has plus bat speed and good raw power.  He has a solid approach at the plate, showing patience and a willingness to go the other way.  His swing can get a bit long at times.

Defense is where there are questions and a lack of consensus on Shaffer.  After two years playing first base, Shaffer has moved to third for his junior season.  His footwork is still an area that needs work if he is to remain at the position going forward.  He does have more than enough arm strength for third.  For some, Shaffer projects as close to average at third, while others believe he is destined to play first base.  My money is on him working hard enough to play at least a passable third base."

Either way, the Dodgers could use help at either corner in the minors -- especially third base.

There are options with Shaffer if he doesn't pan out at third base. He can either play first base, where his plus arm would be wasted, or a corner outfield spot (probably right field). If a team is taking him in the first round, though, it's probably banking on him sticking at third base.

If the Dodgers end up with Shaffer at No. 18, it'd be a minor miracle. They tried to sign him out of high school, but the money wasn't right. He's a legitimate Top-20 prospect and would immediately shoot up the Dodger prospect rankings.

If Shaffer is there and no one else has fallen who is better than him, he has to be the pick. There is history with Shaffer, as Logan White sees something in him.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Clemson University Sports Information

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mark Ellis a huge loss for Dodgers, plus other news and notes

I was definitely in the minority when the Dodgers signed Mark Ellis in November. Perhaps it's because living in Northern California, I get to watch a lot of Oakland Athletics' games, so I saw him play a lot. Perhaps it's because I have no idea what I'm talking about.

This is what I wrote the day he signed:
"Ellis will likely be the team's starting second baseman and could play shortstop in a pinch, ala the recently departed Jamey Carroll. Carroll got $7 million for two years in Minnesota.

By comparison, it's not that bad a deal. Ellis plays good defense at second and has a little pop -- well, at least more than Carroll does."
And we have to realize it could have been a lot worse.
"I'm OK with this signing. It's not great, but it's not as bad as people are making it out to be.

Perhaps I'm just a Mark Ellis apologist (if there is such a thing). But at least the Dodgers didn't bring in Clint Barmes at this price."

But when Ellis went down with a serious knee injury -- so serious that he literally almost lost his leg -- it hurt the Dodgers much more than people would have thought following his signing.

The "other" Ellis has been a pleasant surprise for the Dodgers this season, posting a .273/.373/.364 line through 37 games this season. He's also drawn 18 walks against 18 strikeouts. To put that in perspective, Ellis drew 22 walks in 519 plate appearances in 2011.

Ellis has also been the best defensive second baseman the Dodgers have put out there since Alex Cora in 2004.

With an infield already starting guys like Adam Kennedy, Justin Sellers and Elian Herrera and with guys like Juan Uribe on the disabled list, losing Ellis was a big blow.

Ivan De Jesus was recalled to take his spot. He's starting at second base tonight for the Dodgers against Arizona. The Dodgers also re-signed Aaron Miles to a minor-league deal earlier this month, so he'll probably be in the mix if De Jesus and/or Herrera don't play well enough (unfortunately).

This injury likely saved Dee Gordon from a demotion to Triple-A. While he's getting a few days off, there was scuttlebutt around that he might be on his way to Albuquerque. The fact is, the Dodgers don't have enough healthy middle infielders in the majors for that to happen.

Ellis will be out about six weeks (best-case scenario), so the Dodgers will just have to make due without him until that time.

Here's to a full recovery for Ellis. He's been really good this season and I'm looking forward to seeing him back at second base and in the No. 2 spot in the lineup.


Alex Castellanos is still on the DL in Triple-A and there is no timetable for his return, tweets Chris Jackson of the Albuquerque Examiner.

Clayton Kershaw was named the National League Player of the Week after winning both his starts, recording 16 scoreless innings (including a shutout of the Cardinals on Saturday) and 13 baserunners allowed.

Blake Smith was named the Southern League Player of the Week after a .444 average, two doubles, a triple, two home runs and 11 RBI performance.

Mike Petriello has a look at James Loney and his being the only constant remaining in the Dodgers' infield.

Chad Moryiama has the GIF of Scott Van Slyke's first Major League home run from Sunday's game. It couldn't have come at a better time.

Photo credit: EephusBlue

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Dodgers' catcher A.J. Ellis: the greatest thing ever

Fans tend to be hyperbolic about players (especially prospects), but I think the headline for this post is just right.

A.J. Ellis, the Dodgers' 31-year-old catcher, is in fact the greatest thing ever.

He drove in the winning run last night in the way that fits his game best -- with a walk. Yes, Ellis went Shrimp on us, and Twitter and blog world absolutely loved it.


Blog posts

The only reason Ellis was in this position was thanks to a blown save.

Kenley Jansen, who obviously doesn't have the smarts or heart to be a closer, gave up the lead on a Lance Berkman pinch-hit game-tying home run in the ninth inning. The Dodgers, however, took no time to threaten in the bottom half of the inning.

Elian Herrera (yes, that guy!) drew a walk after an eight-pitch at-bat, Adam Kennedy collected his fourth (not a typo) hit of the night and, for reasons beyond human comprehension, the Cardinals decided to walk James Loney intentionally to get to Ellis, the only other guy than Matt Kemp (disabled list) and Andre Ethier (struck out after Herrera walked) with a .900-plus OPS on the team.

Bad managing for the win, I suppose.

So, it'd be nothing short of amazing to see Ellis, GTE (greatest thing ever), to make it to Kansas City for the All-Star Game. Click the badge in the right sidebar to make it happen.

Oh, and a sure sign of the Apocalypse: the Dodgers are 2-0 when Kennedy hits fifth in the order.

Anyway, I'm graduating with my bachelor's of arts today and wanted for fire off a quick post before I did. Here's hoping Kershaw's on his game and the offense can get something going against Jake Westbrook.

Photo credit: EephusBlue

Friday, May 18, 2012

Dodgers host Cardinals in tilt between two of MLB's best, plus other notes

In the only non-interleague series, the Dodgers are hosting the Cardinals -- two of the most historic franchise in baseball, let alone the National League.

The Dodgers are a MLB-best 25-13 and are without Matt Kemp in this series. Being down a bat as potent as Kemp's hurts, but the Dodgers are going to need everyone firing on all cylinders if they want a chance to win this series.

The Dodgers have three of their top pitchers going in this series, including Ted Lilly (5-0, 2.11 ERA, 0.97 WHIP) tonight. Clayton Kershaw pitches tomorrow and Chad Billingsley pitches on Sunday (ESPN Sunday Night Baseball). And they're not exactly facing the Cardinal slouches on the mound.

Lance Lynn (6-1, 1.81 ERA, 0.90 WHIP) tonight, Jake Westbrook (4-2, 2.35 ERA, 1.24 WHIP) and Kyle Lohse (5-1, 2.70 ERA, 1.06 WHIP all go in this series for the Cardinals.

Like with most teams, the Dodgers cannot afford to get into a slugfest against the Cardinals' potent offense. Yes, their offense is still potent despite losing Albert Pujols in the offseason.

Carlos Beltran has been fantastic this season -- .293/.404/.642, 13 home runs -- after spending last season with the Mets and Giants.

Lance Berkman, who had a resurgent 2011, came off the disabled list 11 games and hasn't missed a beat -- .325/.426/.500.

World Series MVP David Freese is proving his playoff heroics were no fluke, posting a .280/.342/.508 so far this season.

Former Dodger Rafael Furcal is absolutely lighting it up -- .367/.430/.497 -- bringing back memories of 2008.

And someone taught Yadier Molina (top) how to hit, as he has a .302/.355/.524 line this season.

Oh yeah, and this list doesn't even include perhaps the team's best player, Matt Holliday.

So, despite losing Pujols, the Cardinals still have one of the league's best offenses, so the Dodger pitchers are going to have to be sharp tonight.

This will be a nice test for a depleted Dodger team.

Oh, and the Dodgers are 1-0 and average eight runs per game when Adam Kennedy bats fifth. Eric Stephen tweeted the trend shall continue tonight.

Gordon SS
Ellis 2B
Abreu LF
Ethier RF
Kennedy 3B
Loney 1B
Ellis C
Lilly P


My latest piece is up at on Allen Webster and his struggles. Here's an excerpt:
"Looking at his peripherals, his walk, strikeout, and home run numbers are on par with his career averages:

2012: 7.8 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 2.14 K/BB, 0.3 HR/9
Career: 8.3 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 2.32 K/BB, 0.4 HR/9

Webster’s FIP is actually better this season than it was in 2011 at Chattanooga (3.65 to 4.05). His groundout-to-flyout ratio is a little lower than last season with the Lookouts (1.84 to 2.10), but it’s still a good rate.

These numbers would lead you to believe he’s been a lot better than his 7.27 ERA and 1.93 WHIP, but here we are on May 18th and Webster is still getting consistently rocked (at least he’s keeping the ball in the yard).

So besides the clean mechanics speculation, what gives?

Webster’s hits per nine innings is where things get scary. He’s allowing 13.8 H/9, which isn’t going to get the job done. When a guy gives up that many hits, it’s hard to say he’s been unlucky, but that’s what his .425 BABIP says."
Other news and notes

Have you voted for A.J. Ellis (and Kemp, Andre Ethier and maybe Mark Ellis) yet? Click the badge in the right sidebar to vote.

Mike Petriello writes the Dodgers' rotation has exceeded expectations. He even does a little speculation on trade targets.

Ron Cervenka wonders if this is Jerry Sands' last stand.

Evan Bladh, as usual, has a detailed post -- this time on umpires.

The Dodgers aren't ready to remove Dee Gordon from the leadoff spot.

Photo credit: Steve Paluch, Flickr

Thursday, May 17, 2012

2012 MLB Mock Draft roundup, Dodgers' edition – Hawkins, Heaney, Hensley, Seager, Shaffer, Smoral

To get you in the MLB Draft mood, I'm rounding up all the (legitimate) mock drafts I can find and will see who others think the Dodgers should take with the No. 18 pick.

The draft is June 4 through 6. Along with the 18th pick, the Dodgers also have the 51st pick, thanks to the Pittsburgh Pirates signing Rod Barajas.

Baseball America: 3B/SS Corey Seager, Cabarrus High School (North Carolina)
ESPN/Keith Law: RHP Ty Hensley, Santa Fe High School (Oklahoma)
Minor League Ball: LHP Matt Smoral, Solon High School (Ohio)
Minor League Rundown: Smoral
MLB Draft Countdown: OF Albert Almora, Mater Academy (Florida)
MLB Draft Insider: LHP Andrew Heaney, Oklahoma State
MLB Draft Site: 3B Richie Shaffer, Clemson
MLB Dirt: OF/RHP Courtney Hawkins, Carroll High School (Texas)
My MLB Draft: 3B Stephen Piscotty, Stanford
Prospect Insider:  3B Carson Kelly, Westview High School (Oregon)
Seedlings to Stars: 1B/RHP Joey Gallo, Bishop Gorman High School (Nevada)
St. Lucie to Flushing: SS Gavin Cecchini, Barbe High School (Louisiana)
Through the Fence Baseball: Heaney
Walter Football: Hawkins

I'm going to try something new in the coming weeks. I'll be writing draft profiles on some of these guys mentioned and some who weren't. Look for the first one early next week. I'll try to do at least two per week as the draft is a little more than three weeks away.

Photo credit: woolennium, Flickr

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Dodgers' lineup is going to suck for a couple weeks; get over it

Hurry back, Matt.
Look, we all know the Dodgers' lineup was going to suffer without Matt Kemp. But the overreaction to guys getting regular days off is astounding.

The Dodgers lost today in San Diego 4-2. They jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Unfortunately for Chris Capuano, he wasn't as sharp today as he had been in his last six starts (5-0, 1.38 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9, 8.1 K/9, .200 BAA), but it would have been realistic to expect him to keep up that pace.

So, one of the Dodgers' best pitcher this season (numbers-wise), manager Don Mattingly put together a less-than-ideal lineup:

Tony Gwynn CF
Elian Herrera 2B
Bobby Abreu LF
Andre Ethier RF
Jerry Sands 1B
Justin Sellers SS
Adam Kennedy 3B
Matt Treanor C

Yes, this lineup sucks in so many ways, but why get so pissed off about it? What was the alternative?

A struggling Dee Gordon leading off; Mark Ellis in the 2-hole (never mind he could use a day off every now and then as a 35-year-old second baseman), James Loney, who is hitting .244/.326/.293 this month, and so-on. Yes, all these guys could have started, but Mattingly gave them the day off. Not to mention Clayton Richard was on the hill (a lefty), so it made sense for guys like Gordon and Loney to get the day off.

Scott Van Slyke got a start last night, but was left out today in favor of Gwynn. A.J. Ellis is 31 and needs day offs if he's expected to make it through the season. Would you rather have him sitting against the Padres or a team like the Giants or Cardinals? Think about that.

The Dodgers' lack of depth is not secret, and it's showing with four position players (three Opening Day starters -- Kemp, Juan Rivera, Juan Uribe -- and the team's best bench player -- Jerry Hairston) on the disabled list.

The Dodgers are just going to have to ride out the Kemp injury and make due with what they have. It'd be nice for the front office to upgrade the depth, but that won't happen for another month-plus.

The Dodgers have a 5 1/2 game with the Giants still to play tonight. It's not the end of the world. The Dodgers, surprisingly, aren't going to win every game they play. Mattingly is going to have to pick and choose when he gives guys days off (especially without Kemp around). I'd rather throw a "Triple-A" lineup out there against the Padres more than almost any other team in baseball.


One move that really bothered me and made no sense was Mattingly's decision to pinch-hit for Sands in the ninth with Abreu on. The fact he pinch-hit for Sands with Loney was flat-out dumb.

My tweet:
@FeelinKindaBlue "Loney pinch-hitting for Sands. Oy vey."
 The responses:
@mike_petriello "Um, you're doing it wrong, Donny."

@EephusBlue "Oh God. Why. Donnie, c'mon bro"

@Kai_John10 He's now going to hit a homerun... Oh wait, its Loney, nm...

@mnanezLAD "At least he can't GIDP!!"
Pretty much.

It basically meant Mattingly had more faith in Sellers, who was on deck, than Sands. I mean, he could have pinch-hit Van Slyke or Ellis for Sellers, but is Van Slyke really that much better than Sands? If you're going to pinch-hit Loney for someone, it should have been Sellers, not Sands (had the opportunity presented itself).

If the game had gone to the bottom of the ninth, Gordon could have replaced Sellers at shortstop.

This was just something that didn't make a lot of sense to me.

Photo credit: EephusBlue

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dodgers make a slew of transactions in the past week

We're getting to that time of the season when players get hurt and roster moves a plenty are made. Most of the time, minor-leaguers are caught in the crosshairs -- and they aren't always promoted to the majors.

In the past week week, the Dodgers have made the following moves:

Juan Rivera to DL, Scott Van Slyke recalled (May 9)
Jerry Hairston to DL, Justin Sellers recalled (May 11)
Mike MacDougal released (May 11)
Aaron Miles signed to minor-league deal (May 11)
Juan Uribe to DL, Elian Herrera recalled (May 14)
Matt Kemp to DL, Jerry Sands recalled (May 14)
Trent Oeltjen designated for assignment (May 14)

Mike Parisi to DL (May 8)
Joe Becker promoted from Rookie League Ogden (May 10)
Tyler Henson promted from High-A Rancho Cucamonga (May 11)
Shawn Tolleson promoted from Double-A Chattanooga (May 11)
Ryan Tucker to DL (May 11)
Fernando Nieve activated from DL (May 12)
Brian Cavazos-Galvez promoted from High-A Rancho Cucamonga (May 15)
JJ Ethel activated from DL (May 15)
Kyle Russell promoted from Double-A Chattanooga (May 15)

Logan Bawcom promoted from High-A Rancho Cucamonga (May 11)
Brahiam Maldonado demoted from, well, it says "Los Angeles Dodgers," but I've never heard of the fella (May 15)
- According to the transactions page, the team signed him on May 14. He's a former Mets' farmhand and is strictly organizational depth.

Eric Eadington promoted from Low-A Great Lakes (May 11)
Alexis Aguilar promoted from Rookie League Ogden
Jarrad Page promoted from Rookie League Ogden

(Not a great week for Mr. Page, noted Laker hater)

Joel Lima promoted from Rookie League Ogden (May 11)
James Baldwin activated from DL (May 13)
Juan Noriega to DL (May 13)

It's been a busy week -- one of the busiest the Dodgers will have until September (I'd assume).


My latest piece is up at Chad Moriyama on Austin Gallagher:
 "So how about in 2012? Well, he’s been up and down, but he’s showing power like he never has before: eight home runs in 123 at-bats, good for a 15.3 AB/HR rate. His career AB/HR rate coming into the season was 49.7. It could just be that his fourth season in the Cal League is the charm, or it could be that he’s actually improving his power stroke. Worth noting is that his batting average has dipped from the previous two seasons (.291 to .292 to .260), so he may be sacrificing average for more power, as his slugging percentage is a career-best .484 right now."

Mike Petriello has a great post on the A.J. Ellis All-Star campaign (originally started by Jon Weisman). As you'll see in the right sidebar, I'm on board. #AJ2KC!

Monday, May 14, 2012

The effects of Matt Kemp's DL stint for the Dodgers

The results of Matt Kemp's MRI today weren't exactly conclusive, other than he has a strained hamstring. Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. speculates Kemp might be headed for the disabled list after tonight's game.
"My guess (and it's only a guess) is that Matt Kemp will go on the DL, but after the game..."
And what a guess it was, as Kemp did indeed go on the DL after the game. Jerry Sands, who has stepped up big-time since I "called him out" a few days ago (6-for-7, three home runs, four RBI, six runs scored), was recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque.

Kemp going to the DL certainly suck for the Dodgers, as the National League's best team (record-wise) will be without its most important and best player for at least two weeks.

The hamstring has bothered Kemp since May 6 in Chicago, when he was scratched from the starting lineup that day. He's played in every game since before tonight, but I tweeted last night it'd be smart to give him some time off if he wasn't DL-bound:
"Kemp should probably get a couple days off. #Dodgers"
Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times wrote today the Dodgers should place Kemp on the DL "to save (Kemp) from himself."

They did, and Kemp will be better for it.

But the impact for the Dodgers is big. An entire lineup overhaul could be in order, if manager Don Mattingly has the guts to do so.

The lineup is already struggling at the top with Dee Gordon, whose .250 on-base percentage leaves a lot to be desired. Mark Ellis has been better than expected in the No. 2 spot.

Andre Ethier has hit mostly cleanup behind Kemp this season and appears to be the Ethier of old: .308/.368/.592. Despite being back on track, Ethier is going to need to fill in big for Kemp, as he's the only other truly legitimate hitter in the Dodgers' lineup.

After that, things get dicey.

Juan Uribe has been better than last season (.250/.294/.338), but that's not saying much. Plus, he was just placed on the DL. James Loney has been a tad better (.245/.328/.349), but still bad. A.J. Ellis has been the team's third-best hitter, but he's hit eighth for a vast majority of the season.

The man who would likely get most of the playing time in Kemp's absence, Tony Gwynn, is nothing more than fourth outfielder. However, his defense is superb and would be a step up from Kemp's.

Recently acquired Bobby Abreu and rookie Scott Van Slyke, despite playing the same position, appear to be in line for some increased playing time.

With Kemp out, what could the Dodgers' lineup look like? Here's my best guess:

vs. RHP
Gordon SS
Ellis 2B
Abreu LF
Ethier RF
Ellis C
Loney 1B
Kennedy 3B
Gwynn CF

Versus lefties, on the other hand, is going to be challenging. Would Mattingly dare bat Ellis or Van Slyke any higher than fifth? This is assuming Ethier hits third, but what about Abreu? I don't see it; but at least they should be playing, along with newcomer Sands. Either Justin Sellers or Elian Herrera should see time at third base, because we certainly don't want Adam Kennedy playing... at all, but especially not against lefties.

vs. LHP
Gordon SS
Ellis 2B
Ethier CF (yes, center field -- I don't like it anymore than you do)
Ellis C
Abreu LF
Van Slyke RF
Sands 1B
Sellers/Herrera 3B

Not sure this lineup is going to happen, but the Dodgers probably want to limit the number of left-handed hitters and will have to trust some unproven (Ellis) and younger (Van Slyke/Sands) players against southpaws while Kemp is out of the lineup.

The Dodgers have a six-game lead over the Giants. They have room to absorb this blow. Kemp shouldn't be gone much longer than the 15 days (barring any setbacks), so they just need to hold down the proverbial fort until then.

Photo credits: SD Dirk, Flickr