Saturday, August 31, 2013

Report: Dodgers acquire Michael Young from Phillies because, um, grit?

In some extremely surprising news, the Dodgers traded for Michael Young at the waiver trade deadline on Saturday night.

I was down the left field line taking video of Matt Kemp's second at-bat in his third rehab game and I just sighed, heavily, when I read the tweet from Fox Sports.

I just don't know what to make of this deal. Young literally has a 0 wins above replacement. Literally. It isn't even known who the Dodgers are trading to get Young, but it just didn't seem like the Dodgers needed a guy like Young going forward.

Young is walking at a career-high clip of 8.3 percent. That's about it. He doesn't offer much in the way of power (eight home runs) or extra base hits (.389 slugging).

Then there's his defense, which is atrocious. He has a -16.2 UZR/150 and is -17 defensive runs saved. His UZR/150 is fourth-worst in the majors and his DRS is worst in baseball.

He could back up at first- and second base, but with Adrian Gonzalez at first and a platoon of Mark Ellis and Skip Schumaker at second, it looks like Young could spend the majority of his time at third base.

This deal depends on who the Dodgers gave up. Much like the Drew Butera trade, if it's anyone of significance, it will have been too much. They gave up Miguel Sulbaran for Butera. I'm betting they don't give up anyone as good as him for Young. Well, maybe it's more hoping than betting.

Update (Aug. 31, 9:06 p.m.): Dodgers sent Rob Rasmussen to the Phillies in the deal, while the Dodgers got some cash back in the deal to cover some or all of Young's remaining salary. He was acquired in the John Ely trade over the winter. I liked him better than most, and the Dodgers -- in my eyes -- actually gave up more for Young than Butera. So, I guess that's a win... I guess?

Oh, and this deal must be officially consummated by 9 p.m. -- roughly 30 minutes from now -- he won't be eligible for the postseason roster. Jayson Stark reports a minor-league pitcher is going to the Phillies. We'll have to see who it is.

Photo credit: Keith Allison, Wikimedia Commons

Friday, August 30, 2013

Dodgers' Low-A affiliate Great Lakes Loons playoff-bound after slow start

Coming into the 2013 season, the Great Lakes Loons looked like the fourth-best team of the four full-season Dodger minor-league affiliates. Well, they could be the only one to make the postseason.

The Loons clinched a playoff berth with a win on Thursday night behind the right arms of Chris Anderson (4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K) and Brandon Martinez (3 2/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K). It’s the third playoff berth in the club’s history.

The team got off to a rough start, losing four of their first six games and went 11-13 in April. Things got even worse in May, as they went 7-23 and any hopes of the postseason looked bleak.

Loons’ record by month
April: 11-13
May: 7-23 (18-36)
June: 18-9 (36-45)
July: 14-14 (50-59)
August: 16-10 (66-69)

Luckily, playoff participants are broken down into first half and second half records. The Loons went 26-43 in the first half. They’ve gone 40-26 thus far in the second half, with three more games.

When the season started, the Loons had Corey Seager and a bunch of young guys or guys repeating the level. Tyle Ogle, Jharel Cotton and Carlos Frias were Midwest League All-Stars. Cotton and Frias were promoted before the game, so Ogle was the team’s only representative.

The team got a huge boost from the arrival of then-16-year-old Julio Urias. I did a double-take when I heard he was making his professional debut with the Loons. But Urias, despite (rightly) being on a strict innings limit (75), has pitched like a player well beyond his years.

Urias’ 2013 statistics
18 starts
2-0 W-L
2.48 ERA
1.10 WHIP
7.3 H/9
2.7 BB/9
11.1 K/9
4.19 K/BB
2.87 FIP

These numbers would be impressive for a 20-year-old, but this is a 16-year-old (turned 17 a few weeks ago) doing this against hitters about six years older than him on average. Amazing.

The Loons also got a boost from the 2013 MLB Draft class. The Dodgers’ top three picks began their pro careers with the club -- Anderson, Tom Windle and Brandon Dixon.

Anderson has a 1.96 ERA in 46 innings while Windle has a 2.77 ERA in 48 2/3 innings. Dixon, unfortunately, hasn’t found his stroke, hitting just .169/.215/.246 in his first 55 professional games.

Other 2013 draftees to play for the Loons include CraytonBare, Rob Rogers, Thomas Taylor and Brandon Trinkwon.

The pitching has been the story for the Loons, as the Midwest League isn’t particularly hitter-friendly.

Miguel Sulbaran was having a fantastic season before the Dodgers (foolishly) traded him to acquire Drew Butera earlier this month. Even with the loss, the Loons can roll out a rotation of Urias, Anderson and Windle as their 1-3. However, each pitcher is on an innings limit. Anderson and Windle were reportedly going to throw only 50 innings in their debut. Both are close to that limit. With the playoffs near, I wonder if the Dodger brass would let Anderson and Windle go a few more innings if it means giving the Loons the best chance to win.

Outside of that trio, the Loons can also throw guys like Zachary Bird (reigning MWL Pitcher of the Week), Ralston Cash, Brandon Martinez and Jonathan Martinez for a few innings. The bullpen has been solid this season, too. Scott Griggs won a Pitcher of the Week honor while Craig Stem was the team’s closer before being promoted to Rancho Cucamonga.

Pitching wins, but runs also have to be scored. There’s enough raw talent for the Loons to score, but it remains to be seen if they can put it all together. James Baldwin has improved as the season progressed. He may not reach his ultimate ceiling, but he’s a better player now than he was last year. Aaron Miller has been surprisingly productive making the conversion from the mound to the batter’s box. Jeremy Rathjen is a lot like Baldwin. He started out slow but has picked it up as the season moved along.

Outside of Seager’s .309/.389/.529 triple slash, there aren’t many pretty slash lines on the Loons’ team. And the team will be without the supremely talented 19-year-old. But guys like those mentioned above and Ogle need to step up if the Loons want to go far in the MWL playoffs.

The Loons went from a floundering team with not a lot of talent to the most exciting team with loads of talent in the Dodgers’ farm system. They nearly did a 180-degree turn, not unlike the parent club. We'll see how they do in the playoffs starting next week.

Photo credits
Urias: Courtesy of the Great Lakes Loons
Anderson: Ali Messick, courtesy of Great Lakes Loons

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 53 - Puig, Kershaw, Nolasco, Seager, Urias

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (Dodger Diamond) and I talk about all things Dodgers as they march toward the National West Division title after an unexpected, unscheduled week off (thanks, Jared).

Ricky Nolasco was fantastic on Wednesday and has been flat-out great in his last two starts. Looks like that trade is working out pretty well for the Dodgers thus far.

Yasiel Puig has been the focus of the media for the last couple of weeks, capping it off with a (justified) benching by Don Mattingly yesterday. Jared and I talk about this for an extended period of time.

Clayton Kershaw had a decent start on Tuesday, but the Dodgers still lost. He wasn't as sharp as usual, but his ERA technically went down after giving up one earned run in 5 2/3 innings. He'll be just fine.

I'm going to Southern California this weekend. I'll be in Rancho Cucamonga on Saturday night and at Dodger Stadium Sunday. It looks like Matt Kemp will be with the Quakes while I'm there. I was going to Rancho to see Corey Seager, but getting to see Kemp is quite the treat.

Seager has struggled since his promotion to High-A. It's nothing to be concerned about, though. He's 19.

Speaking of youngsters, Julio Urias, 17, made his final home start of the regular season on Wednesday. He could end his debut season with a 2.48 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 7.3 H/9, 2.7 BB/9, 11.1 K/9, 4.19 K/BB. Dayum.

We finish up with some listener questions. There were tons of them and they were awesome. Please, please, please keep them coming.

Libsyn link
Direct link
iTunes link

Look for new episodes of "Dugout Blues" every Wednesday. Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast and review us on iTunes. We want to make this the best podcast we can so we're always looking for suggestions and ways to improve.

If you have questions you'd like us to answer or certain topics/players you want to hear more about, feel free to email us ( or or send us messages on Twitter (@Dodger_Diamond or @FeelinKindaBlue). You can also "Like" the podcast on Facebook. We always welcome audience participation.

Image credit: Joe Martin

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Corey Seager leads eight Dodgers' prospects to 2013 Arizona Fall League

The Dodgers sent eight players to the Arizona Fall League last year, including Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig. Pederson struggled mightily and Puig didn’t play due to a staph infection.

This year, the Dodgers will again send eight players, led by 2012 first-round draft pick Corey Seager. Joining him -- for now -- are catchers Pratt Maynard and Chris O’Brien, as well as outfielder BrianCavazos-Galvez. There should be four pitchers joining that quartet, which will be announced later. I can confirm Rob Rasmussen will be one of the four.

My initial prediction had Onelki Garcia, Yimi Garcia and Jarret Martin joining Rasmussen. I’m pretty sure Martin will go (hat tip to Deejaydezz, via Twitter). The other two are unknown. Chris Reed went last season and could go again. I’d like to see the Garcias get in, though.

Seager’s inclusion comes as a surprise to me, as I didn’t think he’d be eligible for the AFL.

Before last year, players had to be on the Double-A roster before Aug. 1. But now, two Low-A players or first-year draftees (signed by July 13), two High-A players and as many as three Double-A, Triple-A or young major leaguers are eligible.

Dodger prospects will play for the Glendale Desert Dogs. They’ll play their home games at Camelback Ranch, home of Dodgers’ (and White Sox’s) spring training.

The best of the best usually attend the AFL. For example, Byron Buxton will be on the Desert Dogs’ roster. Buxton is baseball’s top prospect.

However, performance isn’t always the best indicator of how these players will do going forward. Pederson had a miserable 2012 AFL season (.096/.161/.154) -- so much so that it caused some prospectors (hi, Keith Law) to rank Pederson lower in offseason lists than he should have been.

It’ll be interesting to see how Seager does against some of the game’s best. He should see ample time at shortstop. Marcus Semien is the only other true shortstop on the roster, and third base is likely to be occupied by Marlins’ 2013 first-round draft pick Colin Moran. Scouts from all over will get a look at Seager and we should have a more accurate representation of the future star.

Those in the organization think he can stick at shortstop. Those outside don’t. Perhaps some scuttlebutt from Arizona could reaffirm one opinion or the other.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin’ Kinda Blue

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Looking at Baseball America's Top 10 Dodgers' prospects from 1992-2000

This is how Baseball America ranked the Dodgers’ Top 10 prospects from 1992-2000. There are tons of familiar names on this list because this was a large part of my formative years.

Slightly off-topic, but Baseball America Executive Editor Jim Callis is leaving the publication and taking a job with, beginning in September. Best of luck to him as he's truly one of the best in the business.


8. Henry Rodriguez OF/1B
9. Greg Hansell RHP
- This could be the most star-studded list with two future hall of famers in Martinez and Piazza. Karros and Mondesi were Rookies of the Year while Astacio and Rodriguez had decent careers. Ashley might have been the most powerful Dodger prospect ever. All of these guys played in the majors.


1. Mike Piazza C
2. Raul Mondesi OF
4. Greg Hansell RHP
5. Pedro Martinez RHP
7. Billy Ashley OF
8. Omar Daal LHP
10. Rick Gorecki RHP
- Every player on this Top 10 played in the majors, and all did so as Dodgers at one time. Martinez dropped to five presumably because BA (and Tommy Lasorda) thought he was a reliever. Daal made his first appearance on the list, as did future ROY Hollandsworth (that was a down year).


2. Todd Hollandsworth OF
3. Roger Cedeno OF
4. Rick Gorecki RHP
5. Raul Mondesi OF
6. Jose Parra RHP
7. Todd Williams RHP
8. Kym Ashworth LHP
9. Dwight Maness OF
10. Michael Moore OF
- Dreifort was the No. 2 pick in the 1993 MLB Draft, so his topping this list is no surprise. He went onto have a nice career. The only other impact player was Mondesi.


1. Todd Hollandsworth OF
3. Chan Ho Park RHP
4. Roger Cedeno OF
7. Rick Gorecki RHP
8. Greg Hansell RHP
10. Kym Ashworth LHP
- The Dodgers’ international infusion was apparent in this Top 10, with Osuna, Park, Garcia and Rodriguez were all amateur free agents. Konerko was the Dodgers’ No. 1 pick in 1994. Hideo Nomo made his debut this season, but he wasn’t signed before BA released its Top 10. If he was, he would have topped this list.


1. Karim Garcia OF
2. Chan Ho Park RHP
3. Todd Hollandsworth OF
4. Paul Konerko 1B
6. Roger Cedeno OF
7. David Yocum LHP
8. Onan Masaoka LHP
9. Felix Rodriguez RHP
10. Adam Riggs 2B
- After jumping from High-A to Triple-A as a 19-year-old, Garcia, rightfully so, topped this list. Too bad it never translated to Major League production. Guerrero made his debut after being signed on the international market. Funny thing is, the Dodgers chose to sign him instead of his brother Vladimir Guerrero. And Wilton also corked his bat, earning the moniker, "Corky."


1. Paul Konerko 3B/1B
2. Karim Garcia OF
3. Wilton Guerrero 2B
6. Onan Masaoka LHP
7. Ted Lilly LHP
8. Alex Cora SS
9. Adam Riggs 2B
10. Omar Moreno, Jr. OF
- Konerko, the best player on the lists from 1995-98, finally tops the list. He was looking like the heir apparent to Karros, who posted back-to-back sub-.800 OPS seasons (despite hitting 34 and 31 home runs). Beltre was signed as a 16-year-old, despite it coming out a few years later he signed before he was 16. Lilly and Cora made their first appearances.


1. Paul Konerko 1B
2. Adrian Beltre 3B
3. Mike Judd RHP
4. Dennis Reyes LHP
5. Ted Lilly LHP
6. Onan Masaoka LHP
7. Adam Riggs 2B
8. Kevin Gibbs OF
9. Alex Cora SS/2B
10. Jeff Kubenka LHP
- If not for Konerko, Beltre would have topped this list. Reyes was another international signee and was dubbed the next Fernando Valenzuela (lazy comp). Konerko would be traded for Jeff Shaw and Lilly was part of the package that landed Mark Grudzielanek and Carlos Perez from the Montreal Expos.


3. Mike Judd RHP
4. Steve Colyer LHP
5. Luke Allen OF
7. Glenn Davis 1B/OF
9. Onan Masaoka LHP
10. Adam Riggs 2B
- The fact Pena topped this list should tell you all you need to know. Chen was the Dodgers’ big signing out of Taiwan while Prokopec had some brief success. I’ll remember the game in 1999 when he shut down the Astros for 8 2/3 innings before Davey Johnson lifted because Prokopec couldn’t get the final out he needed (kind of like Zack Greinke last night). The Dodgers still won.


1. Chin-Feng Chen OF
2. Eric Gagne RHP
3. Hong-Chih Kuo LHP
6. Mike Judd RHP
7. Luke Allen 3B
8. Brennan King 3B
9. Steve Colyer LHP
10. Kris Foster RHP
- Despite Chen never panning out, Gagne and Kuo gave the Dodgers some great seasons as relievers. Repko, when he wasn’t busy injuring Rafael Furcal, spent significant time on Major League rosters. Colyer pitched a little bit with the Dodgers while Foster went to Baltimore with Geronimo Gil for Mike Trombley.


Despite the sharp downturn the system took after 1998, there was some really good talent in this 9-year stretch. From 1999 through about 2003, the system was near the bottom. Logan White’s first season was 2002 and was tasked with turning the farm system around. It’s safe to say, he did.

Photo credit: SD Dirk, Flickr

Monday, August 26, 2013

Dodgers add international free agent pitchers Maximiliano Gooding and Geovanny Barrios

The Dodgers signed 17-year-old Panamanian lefty Maximiliano Gooding on Monday. The bonus amount was undisclosed, so it probably wasn't a big-money signing.

I couldn't find much on the youngster, but the information from this link states he throws a 4-seam fastball (as every pitcher does) and a 12-6 curveball. He's 5'11, 159 pounds, which almost mirrors the frame Julio Urias had when the Dodgers signed him out of Mexico as a 16-year-old last year. He's probably not the next Urias, so don't get your hopes up.

I can tell you one thing: that's an 80-name if I've ever seen one.

The Dodgers also signed 18-year-old Geovanny Barrios out of Venezuela. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything on him. He's right-handed and presumably has a 4-seam fastball.

The team has been active on the international front again. It isn't as impressive as 2012-13's haul, but it's still early in the signing period -- and too early to judge the 2013-14 class.

Graphic credit: CIA World Factbook

Friday, August 23, 2013

Yasiel Puig criticism reaches new heights of stupidity and rabble-rousing

Let me preface this by acknowledging my Dodger fandom plays into this opinion. Everyone needs to get off Yasiel Puig’s back, and the media needs to be far less lazy.

For some reason, two national writers decided to lambaste Puig in columns this week. The first was Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports. Here are some excerpts from his Tuesday column: 
“But if I were a Dodgers fan, I’d be nervous about Puig in October. He’s as likely to cost the Dodgers a playoff game with a needless mistake as he is to win one on a walk-off home run. For a while, Puig’s frequent fundamental lapses were forgivable. Airmailed cutoff men and unnecessary outs on the basepaths were accepted as part of The Puig Show. Besides, he was saving the season. Let him be.”
No more. Puig and Hanley Ramirez have turned the Dodgers into near-certain NL West champions. Now it’s time to prepare for the playoffs. And clearly, Puig isn’t ready.
Morosi would go onto talk about Puig’s series against the Phillies in which he made a few mistakes. 
The Dodgers are in a precarious position here. Mattingly should bench Puig for a day – the clearest form of manager-player communication – to make certain he understands the need to be more aware of game circumstances. But that’s probably unrealistic because Puig helped the Dodgers go on an historic 42-8 run, and the paying customers in L.A. would be displeased if they bought a ticket to Dodger Stadium only to learn their hero wasn’t in the lineup.
The second was Scott Miller of CBS Sports, who was about two days late in his criticism. Not only was he two days late, his piece was like reading two of Morosi’s morose columns. Some excerpts: 
“You can see it coming from here to the autumn leaves. Crowd screaming. National television cameras blazing. Game 4 … or 5 … or 6 of the playoffs. And Yasiel Puig runs into an out, overthrows a cutoff man, commits some egregious mistake that costs the Dodgers the game. Maybe even costs them the playoffs. The Dodgers go home for the winter. Their fans are left hugging only their chipped and faded 1988 World Series champions coffee mugs. And Puig jets off to join a South Beach conga line for the winter. Party on! Hoo, boy.”
“Do you think they haven't tried? School is in session every day with Puig. Manager Don Mattingly talks with him. Coaches lecture him. General manager Ned Colletti schools him. Teammates from Juan Uribe to Adrian Gonzalez try to teach him.So far, Puig doesn't appear to be much for school. Or lessons. Or umpires, or sleep.”
“So what do you do if you're the Dodgers? Wine and dine him even more? Sit him down indefinitely? Sit him down for six innings, then insert him into the game in a sixth-inning double-switch? Wait. They did that last one Tuesday. And Puig emerged from his time out to immediately stroke a game-winning home run. The guy can do no wrong even when he does wrong.”
And probably the worst string of sentences… 
“Biggest question this season now is this: Can the Dodgers eke a Kirk Gibson moment out of Puig this October before they get a Frankenstein moment?
This Tasmanian Devil of a player has mesmerized a community and captivated a baseball nation. He is Must-See TV, one of the game's most exciting talents. What Mike Trout and Bryce Harper were last year, Puig, to some degree, is this year.
Yet this late-night carousing, cutoff-man missing, curfew busting phenom borders on going berserk-o out of control. Did you see the tantrum he directed at plate ump John Hirschbeck after striking out Monday in Miami? Holy smokes.”
The funny thing is, Miller’s column makes Morosi’s look like a Pulitzer prize-winning piece. And, predictably, Miller is playing the victimcard after Deadspin ripped him a new one.

The fact that some think Puig is actually a detriment to the Dodgers is something straight out of a bad “Saturday Night Live” skit.

Guess what? ANY player on the Dodgers could cost the team come playoff time. Just because Puig is young and "doesn't play the right way" doesn't make him any more or less likely to make a mistake. But don't let that get in the way of a pageview-grabbing column.

Where is this all coming from? Was it that Puig said, “Fuck the media,” (or did he?), or is it that he’s “different” than some of the guys criticizing him?

I’m not accusing Morosi, Miller and others of flat-out racism, but there are definitely some racist elements at play. Craig Calceterra of Hardball Talk tackled the issue:
If you go back and look at the commentary about a young Roberto Clemente or, really, almost any other young Latin superstar in baseball history, you see a lot of the same things being said about them that are being said about Puig. Many of the actual words are different — I don’t think anyone these days actually calls them “hot-blooded” or anything — but there is this presumption, it seems, that most young Latin ballplayers are some breed of wild horse that needs to be tamed. Contrast this to young American ballplayers who mess up sometimes and are talked about as if they need to grow up. We assume age-appropriate immaturity in the latter that will inevitably be grown out of and assume culturally-determined otherness in the former that must be beaten out of them via discipline and disapproval.
Morosi got his wish – kind of – on Tuesday when Puig was not in the Dodgers’ starting lineup. Of course, he promptly came in on a double-switch and hit the eventual game-winning run with a towering home run to left-center field – because of course he did. That’s Puig. That’s who he is.

I was, foolishly, listening to ESPN Radio on my drive home last night (while Scott Ferrall was on commercial) and the clueless host (Jeff something-er-other… didn’t catch his full name) was talking about the Puig situation. He said Puig was benched on Tuesday “for being late,” which was entirely untrue. He then said Puig has been in the country for all of “six months,” which is also untrue. He got a number of facts wrong – facts that can be confirmed with a simple Google search.

Some of the national media has gotten lazy and have officially reached troll status. When guys with some of the biggest platforms are writing and broadcasting things that are completely foolish, uninformed and subtly racist opinions, that’s not good.

This epidemic breeds uninformed opinions, treated as fact, and the masses eat it up. Because of that, it becomes the popular and prevailing opinion, no matter how wrong it might be.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend there aren’t facets of Puig’s game that need improvement. He absolutely needs to hit the cutoff man (at times) and make smarter decisions on the basepaths. That will come with age and experience. He’s 22, after all. This time two years ago, he was trying to defect from a country – an experience many of us will never (thankfully) know. He’s literally gone from nothing to almost everything. The culture shock is something I know I can’t relate to.

Bloggers, despite still being labeled as those in their mother’s basements, are some of the most informed and intelligent folks around (this blogger notwithstanding). Yet, most of their platforms are miniscule compared to the likes of Fox, ESPN and CBS.

Some are trying to fight the good fight. The aforementioned Calceterra brought up Clemente when talking about Puig. Man, if only Puig hit the cutoff man more, he might be less like Clemente. Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports brought up Vladimir Guerrero in his column. Man, if only Puig didn’t swing at pitches out of the strike zone, he might be less like Guerrero.

The Dodgers are 51-20 since Puig arrived on June 3. If only he didn’t get picked off or thrown out on the bases so often, the Dodgers might still be in last place.

Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated and Jason Gay of the Washington Post threw their respective hats into the Puig corner with a couple of great pieces.

And here's another great piece. This is where Puig comes from.
"A few months after Puig made his debut, with every game he plays still opening itself up like some brand new, unexpected gift, I feel like the isolated one. Despite our various advantages in communications, Americans are nearly as removed from Cuban baseball stars as Cuban fans are from major leaguers. Puig may only now be learning the blessed and sacred unwritten rules of American baseball, but we are only learning now what the Cuban game has to offer."
People seem to forget that just two years ago, he was trying to escape Cuba so he could pursue his dream of playing Major League Baseball. It's not like he's been around this lifestyle that long. He's 22 years old and this level of fame for someone who hasn't experienced anything close to it is something difficult to digest.

So, to the lazy national media writers attempting to crucify Puig for being 22 years old and for “not doing things the right way,” I say, start being better at your jobs and stop stooping to the same level as an Internet troll. You’re better than that (I think). If not, then how the hell did you get your respective jobs?

At least Bill Plaschke didn’t jump into the fray. What’s that? He did? Son of a bitch.
“They need less of Puig's reckless on-field behavior. They need less of his arrogant refusal to listen to instruction. They need less of an attitude that infuriates umpires.
But they love the victories that the reckless, arrogant attitude produces.
They needed to bench him Tuesday. But they couldn't bear to bench him for the entire game.
He needs to learn. But Mattingly showed that he's unwilling to possibly sacrifice a victory to finish the lecture.”

I can’t…

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Looking at Baseball America's Top 10 Dodgers' prospects from 1983-1991

Baseball America released its archived Top 10 prospect lists from 1983 to 2000. I’m going to break down all of the Dodger prospects in those years. This is 1983 through 1991. The remaining years will be in another post (likely tomorrow).


1. Greg Brock 1B
4. Cecil Espy OF
5. Gil Reyes C
8. Ed Amelung OF
10. Ricky Wright LHP

- I was all of 1 year old when this list was produced, but there are some recognizable names. Brock was the Dodgers’ top prospect in his age-26 season -- something that’s unheard of these days. He had a 10-year career. Fernandez is the most successful prospect from this list, but Stubbs and Maldonado enjoyed decent major league careers. Anderson was part of the 1988 World Series-winning team.


1. Gil Reyes C
3. Sid Fernandez LHP
4. Dave Anderson SS
5. Franklin Stubbs 1B
8. Cecil Espy OF
10. Mariano Duncan 2B/OF
- Reyes debuted at age 19, playing 19 games. He played 20 games total until 1991, when he played 83 with the Montreal Expos. He was a bust. Lovelace works in the Dodgers’ front office as the vice president of player personnel. Duncan went onto become a serviceable major leaguer.


1. Gil Reyes C
2. Mariano Duncan 2B
3. Franklin Stubbs 1B
7. Jose Gonzalez OF
9. Greg Mayberry RHP
10. Vance Lovelace LHP
- Duncan and Stubbs are really the only players of note here. Hillegas pitched 515 1/3 innings in his 7-year career.


1. Jose Gonzalez OF
2. Greg Mayberry RHP
4. Franklin Stubbs 1B
5. Shawn Hillegas RHP
7. Ralph Bryant OF
8. Mike Watters 2B
9. Dennis Livingston LHP
10. Scott May RHP
- Hamilton was one of the first Dodgers I remember seeing, but he didn’t do much in his career. Gwynn was a part-timer and retired after his age-31 season.


1. Jose Gonzalez OF
2. Jeff Hamilton 3B
3. Shawn Hillegas RHP
4. Greg Mayberry RHP
6. Chris Gwynn OF
7. Mike Watters 2B
9. Ralph Bryant OF
10. Manny Francois 2B
- Devereaux and Martinez are the best players on this list. Martinez went onto be one of the best Dodger pitchers of the late-1980s and early-90s.


1. Ramon Martinez RHP
2. Dan Opperman RHP
3. Tim Belcher RHP
4. Shawn Hillegas RHP
5. Mike Devereaux OF
6. Jose Tapia RHP
7. Juan Bell SS
8. Chris Gwynn OF
9. Chris Nitchting RHP
- The world champs got a ton of help from Belcher, who threw nearly 180 quality innings as a 26-year-old. Offerman makes his first of four appearances in the Dodgers’ top 10.


1. Ramon Martinez RHP
2. Jose Offerman SS
3. Dan Opperman RHP
5. Bill Bene RHP
8. John Wettland RHP
10. Mike James RHP
- Hansen carved out a niche as a pinch-hitter, Wettland would be let go too early and Karros would win the National League Rookie of the Year three years later. Probably the best top 10 of this 9-year stretch.


1. Kiki Jones RHP
2. Jose Offerman SS
4. Braulio Castillo OF
5. Eric Karros 1B
8. Dave Hansen 3B
9. Dan Opperman RHP
10. Raul Mondesi OF
- Goodwin was a slappy, speedy guy. Vizcaino was a utility infielder and Mondesi ended up being the second- or third-best prospect on these lists.


1. Jose Offerman SS
2. Raul Mondesi OF
4. Henry Rodriguez 1B/OF
5. Tom Goodwin OF
6. Kiki Jones RHP
7. Dan Opperman RHP
9. Eric Karros 1B
10. Dave Hansen 3B
- Rodriguez went to Montreal and had a 40-home run season while we all know about that Pedro guy.


The Dodgers had some decent talent in this 9-year period: a hall of famer, some multiple-time all-stars and two rookies of the year. Considering the volatility of prospects, I’d call this stretch a win and it predates some of the great prospects to come.

Photo credit: bryce_edwards, Flickr

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Clayton Kershaw has the best curveball in Major League Baseball

When the term "unhittable" is thrown around, it sometimes comes across a bit hyperbolic. Yes, guys like Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander (well, maybe not this season) are for the most part, unhittable.

When one thinks of the most unhittable pitches in baseball, a few come to mind right away:
All of those are great offerings. Dodgers' lefty Clayton Kershaw, who has a legitimate four-pitch arsenal, has the most unhittable curveball in the game. Literally. He'll put it to the test against the Philadelphia Phillies tonight.

Kershaw has thrown the pitch 342 times this season. Opposing hitters are 9-for-116 with 59 strikeouts. That amounts to a .078 batting average. Oh, all the hits have been singles and he hasn't walked anyone with it, so the rest of the triple slash works out to .078/.078.

When Kershaw burst onto the scene in 2008, he was primarily a fastball-curveball pitcher. He made tons of noise in spring training 2008 with this curveball to Sean Casey (sorry for the poor quality).


This is Kershaw's curveball usage in his career.

And his slider usage.

(Thanks to Brooks Baseball for the data/charts)

Kershaw didn't really throw a slider until May 2009. That coincides with the drop off in his curveball usage. He had gone from a fastball-curveball guy to a fastball-slider guy -- and it was (and still is) a great pitch for him. For comparison's sake, Kershaw has thrown his slider 688 times this season. Hitters are 29-for-171 with four home runs and 10 walks. Still dominant, but not as dominant as his curveball has been.

Somewhat surprisingly, Kershaw doesn't throw the curve to left-handed hitters all that much. Of his 342 curveballs, he's thrown just 68 to lefties (roughly 20 percent).

Since May of last year, Kershaw hasn't thrown his curveball at less than 11.18 percent of the time after two years of 4.21 to 9.88 percent of curveball usage. He's where he needs to be with the pitch. He obviously has supreme confidence in his fastball and slider to get outs. His curveball, while not a surprise pitch by any means, keeps hitters honest and keeps them from sitting on the fastball and slider.

It's no surprise Kershaw has emerged as one of baseball's best pitchers. He has three plus pitches, including a plus-plus offering in his curve, and a budding fourth plus-pitch in his changeup (even if the numbers don't completely back it up).

"Public Enemy No. 1," as Vin Scully dubbed it, is certainly Kershaw's best weapon. I'm glad he's back to throwing it more frequently than he had been in recent years.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Dodgers facing some tough, significant postseason roster decisions

With Sept. 1 quickly approaching, the Dodgers will have some difficult roster decisions to make, most of which pertain to the bullpen.

For players to be eligible for the postseason roster, they have to be on the active roster before 9 p.m. on Aug. 31. This also includes players on the disabled list.

Update (Aug. 17, 4 p.m.): I'm dumb sometimes. Thanks to Eric Stephen of True Blue LA for pointing it out. Anyone in the organization by Aug. 31 (let's say, Butera) can replace an injured player come postseason time. So, Butera wouldn't need to be recalled before the end of the month. However, the initial playoff roster has to come from those on the 25-man roster (and disabled list) before the Aug. 31 deadline. Sorry for the confusion.

Brian Wilson is likely going to be promoted to the Major League roster on Friday, meaning the Dodgers have a little roster shuffling in their future.

Chris Withrow is the pitcher likely to be impacted most. He has options remaining and could be sent back to Triple-A despite a 2.21 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, a surprising 3.1 BB/9 and a stellar 10.6 K/9. The 24-year-old flamethrower has been a pleasant surprise this season and should be a viable relief option come October. Perhaps a phantom DL stint for he or Carlos Marmol is in the Dodgers’ future plans.

Speaking of Marmol, he’s probably the “best” option to go in place of Wilson, but his effectiveness in recent outings has the Dodgers seeing the Marmol of old with tons of swing-and-miss potential.

Dee Gordon is currently eligible, but if Withrow or Marmol aren’t jettisoned for Wilson, Gordon could be, especially with Hanley Ramirez back in the fold.

Here are some Dodgers on the disabled list right now.

15-day DL

60-day DL

Beckett and Billingsley aren’t going to pitch again this season.

Dominguez, Kemp and Tolleson will remain on the DL -- regardless of their health -- until after Sept. 1, because it allows the Dodgers to use the injury loophole to make the most guys eligible for the postseason. This also allows Dominguez and Tolleson, who are in the same boat as Withrow in terms of options, to be postseason-eligible.

A guy not yet eligible is Stephen Fife, who has been fantastic this season. Unfortunately for him, the Dodgers don’t need a fifth (or in this case, sixth) starter in the playoffs. It’s unknown how he’d perform out of the bullpen, but he got roughed up in his most recent outing in Triple-A. Chris Capuano was roughed up last night and could use a late-season vacation, I’d say.

One would think the Dodgers should have a third catcher to be playoff-eligible, meaning Drew Butera would need to be promoted from Albuquerque. This could come in the form of a disabled list stint for either A.J. Ellis or Tim Federowicz.

Whatever happens, the Dodgers need to make sure Scott Van Slyke is eligible. His right-handed pop off the bench could be a valuable asset if the Braves throw Luis Avilan or Alex Wood; or the Pirates throw Tony Watson or Justin Wilson; or the Cardinals throw Randy Choate, Kevin Siegrist or Sam Freeman at the Dodgers in a late-inning situation.

There’s also Onelki Garcia, who I suspect has a good chance to be more than just a September call-up. So, General Manager Ned Colletti has a lot of work to do in the next couple of weeks. This doesn’t include any potential waiver-wire deals the Dodgers could make (but I’m not expecting any).

The position players are pretty much set, outside of Kemp and Van Slyke. Perhaps Jerry Hairston could use a couple weeks off starting rather soon. And this whole “four full-time outfielders” issue is going to be moot come the World Series when Andre Ethier is DH’ing for the Dodgers.

Here’s my prediction for all postseason-eligible players

Pitchers (16)
Chris Capuano
Jose Dominguez
Stephen Fife
Carlos Marmol
Shawn Tolleson
Brian Wilson
Chris Withrow

Catchers (3)
Drew Butera
A.J. Ellis
Tim Federowicz

Infielders (7)
Jerry Hairston
Hanley Ramirez

Outfielders (5)
Andre Ethier
Matt Kemp

For all these guys to be eligible, the following players who aren’t currently on the 25-man roster would have to be before the deadline: Butera, Fife, Van Slyke and Wilson. Here’s how it happens: 
  • Ellis or Federowicz to the DL for Butera
  • Capuano to the DL for Fife
  • Hairston to the DL for Van Slyke
  • Gordon to Triple-A for Wilson
The roster will be trimmed to 25 for the first round, but the additional players can at least be called upon to take the place of injured and/or ineffective players after each round.

Of all the players unsure to be postseason-eligible, Withrow is the one I want most. His control and command have been much better than expected and his mid-to-upper-90s fastball would be quite the weapon in the playoffs.

We’ll see what happens in the next couple weeks. Here’s hoping the Dodgers make some smart decisions.

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue