Thursday, February 28, 2013

Vin Scully interviews Sandy Koufax, which is about as good as it gets

It really doesn't get much better than this. Vin Scully chats with Sandy Koufax. It doesn't even matter what they're talking about. They could be reading names out of a phone book for all I care.

The fact that these two are reunited is amazing in its own right.

Here's the video.

Eric Stephen tweeted and said Marty Leadman (@mleadman) coined the video, "Between Two Legends," an homage to "Between Two Palm Trees," starring A.J. Ellis and Clayton Kershaw, which is a spin-off of "Between Two Ferns," the Internet series with Zack Galifianakis.

And just for kicks, here's Scully calling Koufax's perfect game in 1965.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 25 - Dodgers, Jim Shonerd interview, Castellanos, Uribe, Baez, prospects

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (L.A. Dugout) and I interview Baseball America's Jim Shonerd. Shonerd authored the Dodgers' Top 30 prospect list for the BA Prospect Handbook and gave us some good insight into the process.

Hyun-Jin Ryu and Zack Greinke's debuts are discussed briefly before we look at the case for Alex Castellanos making the 25-man roster. This led to a tangent about how terrible Juan Uribe is at baseball. It pleased me.

Bullpen Banter released its Dodgers' Top 15 prospect list, which we discuss. No really big surprises, but Alex Santana continues to get some love in prospect lists despite not having hit much in his first two seasons.

We also examine Pedro Baez and his move to the bullpen. He's already drawing praise from one Hall-of-Famer in Sandy Koufax. I'll be penning a post about him in the not to distant near future.

Per usual, we close with listener questions. Who are some prospects to watch during Spring Training? What would it take for the Dodgers to land Emilio Bonafacio in a trade with the Blue Jays? Could the Yankees be interested in Andre Ethier after Curtis Granderson suffered a broken forearm?

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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 (@LADugout or @FeelinKindaBlue). You can also "Like" the podcast on Facebook. We always welcome audience participation.

Image credit: Joe Martin

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Maybe Alex Castellanos is the answer to the Dodgers' fourth OF question

If you've listened to any episodes of "Dugout Blues," you'll know Jared Massey might be the biggest Alex Castellanos fan on the planet. I try to keep him in check and to quell his excitement, mostly to no avail.

Well, even I can't rain on Jared's parade now, especially since Castellanos might actually get a chance to be the Dodgers' right-handed-hitting, fourth outfielder.

Castellanos started in center field in the Dodgers' second spring training game. While it's just an experiment at this point, it could be his ticket to a Major League job in 2013.

Since the Dodgers are seemingly giving up on Castellanos as an infielder, this is the next-best option.

Castellanos' bat isn't really a question. Ever since being acquired from the Cardinals in the Rafael Furcal trade, he's done nothing but hit. He got his first cup of coffee in 2012, but didn't get consistent playing time. He went 4-for-23 (.174) with a home run and eight strikeouts. A small sample size, for sure. His minor-league numbers give a better indication of his improvement.

The most important part of Castellanos' improvement is his walk rate.

A 4-percent increase could be a fluke, but it could also be Castellanos adapting and doing what he has to, thus improving his chances of having a Major League career.

Mike Petriello wrote a nice piece on Castellanos last week. Then on Monday, he wrote this:
"(A)gain, I don’t want to get too excited over anything, good or bad, based on one game, but from what I saw of Alex Castellanos, he’s going to need some real work to be an acceptable option in center field. I’m just not sure he’s got the speed for it."
So, there's that.

Petriello has also been pushing for the Dodgers to acquire a player like Casper Wells. I'm more of a Franklin Gutierrez guy myself, but either would be preferable. But maybe Castellanos can be that guy. Maybe the Dodgers don't have to expend resources on a fourth outfielder.

Wells and Gutierrez can play center field -- Gutierrez can play it especially well. That is unknown with Castellanos. Hopefully the Dodgers give him the spring to prove himself, as Matt Kemp is going to miss some of the spring and could be the designated hitter in some games.

Castellanos has one way to ensure his future: learn to play a passable center field. He's athletic enough and can play the corner outfield positions just fine.

Considering Kemp is healthy, Castellanos -- or whoever is going to be the backup center fielder -- won't be called upon to play the position much. If Castellanos can play it better than, say, Juan Pierre, he's going to be just fine.

More likely, Castellanos will serve as a part-time platoon partner (as weird as that sounds) for Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier -- assuming he makes the team.

The Dodgers didn't sign Scott Hairston, a guy capable of playing all three outfield positions with some pop off the bench. Maybe Castellanos can be the Dodgers' other Hairston. It'd be a refreshing move from the team, and it might be the smart move.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Video of Dodgers' LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu's first spring training outing

Hyun-Jin Ryu made his Dodgers' debut on Sunday at Camelback Ranch. He threw one inning, allowed one hit and struck out Gordon Beckham on a changeup low and away -- Ryu's signature pitch.

The hit he allowed was a triple to Dewayne Wise on a hanging curveball. Sandy Koufax worked with Ryu in a bullpen session a few days ago, but apparently Ryu hasn't yet mastered the pitch (understandably so).

Don Mattingly said Ryu will likely go two or three innings in his next spring start.

So far, so good. Here's the video, courtesy of @MyKBO.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Speedsters: Examining the fastest prospects in the Dodgers' farm system

Speed, as much as it tries to make a comeback, is still a lost art in baseball. Gone are the days of Lou Brock, Vince Coleman, Rickey Henderson and Maury Wills stealing 100-plus bases in a season.

The Dodgers have one player who's come up through the system in recent years to have plus-plus speed: Dee Gordon. While fast, he hasn't been able to get on base enough to make use of said speed.

There's no Billy Hamilton in this group of speed demons, but the Dodgers have a few intriguing jackrabbits in the farm system. But, like the diminishing elite speed in baseball, the Dodgers don't have that many speedsters. They might have some in the lowest level of the minors, but there isn't a lot of information on those players.

A couple guys who looked like, at one time, might be plus-runners were Brian Cavazos-Galvez and Rafael Ynoa. Cavazos-Galvez stole 43 bases in 2010 at Great Lakes. However, he's failed to top 17 stolen bases in any other season. Ynoa stole 40 bases on the same team as Cavazos-Galvez in 2010. His highest total since is 23, which he tallied in 2012.

This list is reserved for players with at least a "60" speed rating (on the 20-80 scale), which is plus speed.

Best speed prospects

James Baldwin
- Baldwin is the fastest runner in the system, with legitimate plus-plus speed. He's shown that speed in his 219-game career, swiping 92 bases (caught just 16 times). He does it as a center fielder, where his plus-plus speed allows him to track balls down that some center fielders couldn't dream of catching.

Noel Cuevas
- Cuevas is probably the "slowest" of the five on this list, but he still managed to steal 35 bases in 42 attempts in 2012. He has the speed and range to play center field -- where his bat would play best, but he'll likely end up in a corner, likely left field. Still, a left fielder with the range of a center fielder is never a bad thing.

Malcolm Holland
- Holland was a Boise State University commit as a defensive back in football before the Dodgers signed him away as a 33rd-round draft pick. Holland showed off that defensive back speed in his second season by stealing 44 bases (caught nine times) in 60 games for Ogden in 2012. Defensively, he profiles at either second base or center field. Obviously, his speed would benefit him much better in center, but that speed also allows him to range for balls at second better than others.

Yasiel Puig
- There have been varying reports about Puig's speed. I gave him a "55" in my Top 50 rankings. This was before DeJon Watson made this claim on local Los Angeles radio:
Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus also heard from a non-Dodger person that Puig has "7" (70) speed. So, he's either a slightly above-average runner, or he's a plus-plus runner. I'm inclined to believe it's somewhere in the 60-65 range. That's good enough to play center field, but Puig likely ends up in right field and could develop into a top-flight defender at the position with that speed.

Darnell Sweeney
- Sweeney is easily the best runner from the Dodgers' 2012 draft class, and he showed it in his debut. Built a lot like Gordon, Sweeney stole 27 bases in 33 attempts in his debut season and easily has plus speed. He's not as fast as Gordon, but Sweeney is at least a "60" runner and could be a "65" runner going forward. At shortstop, he has a good range and a quick first step. He could be a dynamic leadoff-hitting shorstop if everything falls into place.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 24 - prospects galore, BA Top 100, Q&A

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (L.A. Dugout) and crack wise about prospects, as we often do.

Massey released his Top 20 Dodger prospects list and I tell him why he's utterly and completely wrong.

We also look at a couple of surprises in the Dodgers' system from the Baseball America Prospect Handbook -- specifically, Bobby Coyle and Joey Curletta.

We talk about the two Dodgers to make BA's Top 100 prospect list -- Hyun-Jin Ryu (42) and Yasiel Puig (47).

Per usual, we close with listener questions. Why do we keep hearing Alfonso Soriano linked to the Dodgers? How much of an impact will Mark McGwire have? Will Hanley Ramirez and Luis Cruz swap positions during the season? What do we think about the World Baseball Classic? What are we going to do when Vin Scully turns off his microphone? Plus a few others.

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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 (@LADugout or @FeelinKindaBlue). You can also "Like" the podcast on Facebook. We always welcome audience participation.

Image credit: Joe Martin

Monday, February 18, 2013

Flamethrowers: Examining the best fastballs in the Dodgers' farm system

Sticking with the power theme, I'm going to look at the best fastballs in the in the Dodgers' farm system. I'll separate the starters and relievers.

The Dodgers have a lot of power arms in the system -- something every team should want. It remains to be seen if these guys, especially the starters, make it to the majors in some capacity. One thing's for sure: arm talent cannot be taught. Every pitcher on this list has arm talent that needs to be harnessed and controlled.


Scott Barlow
- When Barlow was drafted, he wasn't much of a flamethrower. He checked in at 89-91 MPH on his fastball with a projectable frame. In the Instructional League that year, he was sitting in the low-90s consistently and even touched the mid-90s. As a starter, that qualifies as a plus fastball. The only thing when placing Barlow on this list is he's thrown just 1 2/3 innings since turning pro.

Onelki Garcia
- Garcia has one of the more interesting fastballs in the system. He's heater has natural arm-side run and he can also sink it. But when he has to, he can pump his four-seamer up to 95 MPH. It sits in the 90-93 range and he can control it pretty well.

Jarret Martin

- Martin's fastball is a lot like Garcia's, but he doesn't control or sink it as well. Like most left-handers, there is some arm-side run with his fastball. Martin's biggest determent is his inability to control his fastball. The velocity is there, but the command and control aren't. For now, he's a starter. If he can't make it as a starter, his fastball could get a 1-2 MPH bump, making it that much better.

Chris Reed
- Reed isn't one of my favorites, but his fastball is a legitimate pitch. Like Garcia and Martin before him, he can run it up to 95 MPH from the left side but works better in the low-90s. His biggest obstacle is going to be keeping his velocity up as a starter. As a reliever, he'd have little issue hitting the low-to-mid-90s consistently. As a starter, if he can work at 90-93 MPH, he should be golden.


Pedro Baez
- A recent addition to the pitching staff, Baez was once clocked at 94 MPH across the diamond (from third to first). That's an impressive feat unto itself. Dodger minor-league pitching instructors are going to have their work cut out for them. They'll need to harness Baez's undeniable arm talent if they expect him to be a valuable reliever at any point.

Jose Dominguez
- Dominguez has the best fastball in the system that sits in the high-90s and regularly touches triple digits. He has a little trouble controlling the pitch, but the velocity cannot be denied. There was some buzz he could be popped in the Rule 5 Draft in December, mostly due to his great fastball.

Eric Eadington
- Eadington routinely works in the low-90s from the left side and even touched 95 MPH a couple times when I saw him in person in June. There isn't much else he does with it, but a consistent low-to-mid-90s fastball from a southpaw qualifies as a plus pitch.

Scott Griggs
- Griggs profiles as a power reliever out of the bullpen and boasts a consistent mid-90s fastball. He even runs it up to 98 MPH when needed. Control is a big issue for Griggs going forward as he walked 21 batters in his first 22 2/3 innings.

Juan Rodriguez
- Rodriguez is similar to Dominguez with his fastball, as it sits in the mid-to-high-90s and touches 100 MPH on occasion. But unlike Dominguez, Rodriguez has even more trouble controlling the pitch. He walked 41 batters in 38 1/3 last season. He can strike batters out, but that won't matter if he walks hitters at an historic rate.

Josh Wall
- Wall is the most accomplished of the relievers on this list, as he made his Major League debut last season while spending the rest of his time with the Isotopes. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and he can reach back for a little more if he needs it.

Chris Withrow
- Withrow routinely hit the low-to-mid-90s as a starting pitcher. Now, he profiles as a late-inning, power reliever out of the bullpen who can dial up his heater to the upper-90s. Like some of the other flamethrowers on this list, Withrow has trouble commanding the pitch, leading to an uncertain future. But his velocity isn't going anywhere.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Puig and friends: Examining the Dodgers' best power-hitting prospects

Power is one of the most coveted tools in baseball. Not everyone can hit 40 home runs a season. Hell, not everyone can even get to 30 these days.

Some players are solely known for it while others develop through their development. Either way, it's usually the last tool to develop fully. I mean, we're still waiting for James Loney to hit 20 home runs in a season.

The Dodgers have some interesting power prospects in the minors. There are some guys who have average to slightly above-average power potential (O'Koyea Dickson, Corey Seager, Blake Smith), but this list is reserved for guys who have at least plus (60 or better) raw power.

Best power prospects

Justin Chigbogu
- Chigbogu, who draws comparisons to Ryan Howard, was the Dodgers' fourth-round draft pick in 2012 out of a small high school in Missouri. He was ranked as Baseball America's 423rd-best player, yet was the  146th player chosen -- and it's because he has plus raw power. I gave him my "Best power prospect" rating in my Top 50. However, it seems someone else on this list should have received that honor.

There's no doubting Chigbogu's power potential, but, like most power hitters, there's a lot of swing and miss that comes along with it. He hit just three home runs in his professional debut (131 plate appearances), but he was just an 18-year-old for the majority of his season. He's a long way from the majors and it will be interesting to see how quickly that power develops.

Joey Curletta
- Curletta was the Dodgers' sixth-round pick in 2012 and is hulking right-handed hitter (6'4, 225 at age 18). Curletta checked in as the Dodgers' No. 30 prospect in Baseball America's Prospect Handbook, which was a bit of a surprise. But, like Chigbogu, it's because of Curletta's raw power potential.

His position is yet to be determined (he'll either be a corner outfielder or first baseman), but the youngster has loads of power potential. He's a guy who could benefit greatly from Mark McGwire's tutelage -- if Big Mac is still around in a few years (which he should be). 

Chris Jacobs
- I saw Jacobs in person a couple times last season, including during batting practice. He put on a pretty good show, including hitting a couple balls out of the Banner Island Ballpark to left-center field. The air isn't rarefied in Stockton, Calif., so that was an impressive feat. He also hit a home run when I saw him during a game (ended up being the game-winner), but it was an extreme cheapy down the right field line.

Still, Jacobs managed a .493 slugging percentage with the Quakes in 2012 after an even more impressive showing in the Midwest League the year before (12 home runs, .521 slugging percentage). The power potential is there, but that's pretty all Jacobs has going for him.

Michael Pericht
- Pericht was another player I saw in person and, like Jacobs, he impressed me with his power potential. Pericht cleared the stadium during a game. I was walking down the left field line toward the Quakes' bullpen when I heard the loud crack of the bat. I looked up to see Pericht's ball sailing overhead and clearing the stadium -- not the left field wall -- by about 50 feet. While it's just 300 feet (?!) down the left field line in Banner Island Ballpark, that ball probably traveled a good 420 feet.

Pericht has even more swing and miss than Jacobs, which is alarming. Still, the power potential is there and it's even more at a premium because it comes from behind the plate. He's been a mid-.400 slugging guy for most of his career, but he also hasn't been able to stay completely healthy.

Yasiel Puig
 - While Puig has played sparingly since signing his $42 million contract last summer, the hype and physical ability are present. Puig was the talk of Dodger camp on Friday, the first full day of team activities. His batting practice session produced this reaction:
Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus gave Puig a "7" in terms of raw power -- and that was from an outside source (not a Dodger source). Ned Colletti said this about Puig in October:
"'You could be standing with your back to the cage, and when he hits, you’ll know he’s hitting.'"
The praise, hype and potential are all there. It's time for Puig to show off that raw plus-plus power potential He'll have every opportunity to do so in 2013.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 23 - Dodgers, prospect lists, signings

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (L.A. Dugout) and I somehow talk for more than an hour despite almost no news in Dodger land.

We examine both's Top 20 and Keith Law's Top 10 (subscription required) Dodgers' prospects.'s has some curious rankings, thus we spend more time talking about it..

We also touch on the Mark Lowe and Kevin Gregg signings as much as we can.

We talk a little about Felix Hernandez's mega deal and how it impacts Clayton Kershaw -- something I wrote about over a Yahoo! Sports for its Contributor Network.

Per usual, we close with listener questions. Which new acquisition are we most excited to see? What is our ideal lineup right now? Does Andre Ethier need a platoon partner? How man stolen bases will Matt Kemp have in 2013?

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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 (@LADugout or @FeelinKindaBlue). You can also "Like" the podcast on Facebook. We always welcome audience participation.

Image credit: Joe Martin

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dodgers' full-season minor league team preview: Albuquerque Isotopes

This is the final post in a four-part series projecting the Dodgers' full-season minor league teams. To close out the series, the Albuquerque Isotopes.
The Isotopes finished as the Pacific Coast League American Southern division with an 80-64 record. The 'Topes faced off against the Oklahoma Storm Chasers (Royals' affiliate).

One of the better teams in the minors, the Storm Chasers and Isotopes traded the first three games of the series. In Game 4, the 'Topes were down 10-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning. At the time, it looked like their season was done. However, a nine-run seventh, including a game-deciding three-run home run from Tony Gwynn, propelled the Isotopes to a deciding Game 5, which Oklahoma won handily.

Van Slyke
The 2012 Isotopes were led on offense by young players Alex Castellanos, Jerry Sands and Scott Van Slyke. Josh Fields, a veteran, had a late-season hot streak that led to a .322/.392/.488 line in 133 games. There is usually no shortage of offensive firepower for the 'Topes.

Castellanos, despite playing just 94 games, posted a great .328/.420/.590 triple slash with 17 home runs. The Dodgers don't seem to keen on letting him be the team's right-handed hitting platoon outfielder, so expect him back at Triple-A. Sands was traded to Boston in the Adrian Gonzalez trade. He was traded to Pittsburgh this winter and may or may not get real playing time with the Bucs. Van Slyke seems like the prototypical Four-A player and should be the team's left fielder.

The pitching staff was led by John Ely, who had one of the best seasons for a PCL pitcher, going 14-7 with a 3.20 ERA and a league-leading 165 strikeouts (in 168 2/3 innings). He also had a sparkling WHIP (1.10) and a great walks per nine innings rate (1.9). For his efforts, he was traded to Houston. Stephen Fife was decent, but unspectacular, for Albuquerque. He provided 135 1/3 innings of adequate innings. Other than those two, the Isotopes' rotation left a lot to be desired.

Projected roster

Catchers (2)
Tim Federowicz
Matt Wallach

Infielders (5)
Nick Evans
Elian Herrera
Osvaldo Martinez
Dallas McPherson
Rafael Ynoa

Outfielders (5)
Nick Buss
Alex Castellanos
Jeremy Moore
Blake Smith
Scott Van Slyke

Starting pitchers (5)
Michael Antonini
Stephen Fife
Matt Magill
Matt Palmer
Jon Michael Redding

Relievers (8)
Geison Aguasviva
Steve Ames
Cole St. Clair
Kevin Gregg
Mark Lowe
Shawn Tolleson
Josh Wall
Chris Withrow

A name missing from my projection is Gwynn. I suspect he'll be traded or released prior to the season. If he isn't, Buss should be that fall guy. Also missing is Dee Gordon. I'm betting (hoping?) he breaks camp with the Dodgers, or he's moved toward the end of Spring Training.

The starting pitching, as usual, will be a little weak. Magill should head the rotation and is a legitimate prospect. The bullpen should have some intriguing characters, including Ames, Tolleson Wall and Withrow (if he can throw strikes). This also means I'm projecting Paco Rodriguez to break camp with the big league club.

My lineup
Buss/Moore CF
Herrera 2B
Castellanos LF/DH
McPherson 3B
Van Slyke DH/LF
Smith RF
Evans 1B
Federowicz C
Ynoa SS

This lineup could score a ton of runs. Castellanos, McPherson and Van Slyke are PCL veterans and should be a formidable 3-4-5. The last time McPherson was in the PCL, he hit 22 home runs with the Sacramento River Cats. The last time he was with Albuquerque (as a member of the Marlins' organization), he blasted 42 home runs.

Smith and Ynoa should make their Triple-A debuts and could benefit from the extreme hitter-friendly environments.

Much like any year, the offense will determine the Isotopes' success. But I'm interested to see how Magill handles the rarefied air and if those fireballers out of the 'pen can keep the PCL hitters at bay.

Photo credits
Van Slyke: EephusBlue, Twitter
Smith: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Monday, February 11, 2013

2013 MLB Fan Cave finalist: Thomas Roberts, a Dodger fan

Editor's Note: This post was written by Thomas Roberts, a finalist for the MLB Fan Cave sweepstakes, and a Dodger fan.

What if I told you that you could watch every single baseball game in front of a wall of TVs while living in an ultra modern New York space and meet MLB players, celebrities and musicians. Sound good? It is good and that’s what the MLB Fan Cave is all about.

Entering its third year, the MLB Fan Cave is the Baseball lover’s dream. For the entire season, you’re immersed in the game and get to share your thoughts, content and interactions with the rest of the world via social media. Not everyone gets to participate in this incredible experience though. Major League Baseball holds auditions where fans submit a short video explaining why they’re the perfect fit for the job. More than 20,000 submissions later, I have been chosen as a top 52 finalist and need your help to represent the  Dodgers in the 2013 MLB Fan Cave.

My love for the Dodgers started before I realized it did. As a child playing Little League, I lived baseball. I had baseball-themed parties and wore baseball-themed clothing. Well my entire family was, and still is, true blue Dodger fans, and thus I was and am, too.

My first memories are of Mike Piazza and Eric Karros, of Hideo Nomo and Raul Mondesi, of Tommy Lasorda coaching and then retiring. I’ve been to Dodger Stadium more times than I can count and travel to Arizona every spring to be closer to the players who mystify me on the field. I’ve loved the Blue for as long as I can remember. The Dodgers are one of the most legendary franchises in the game with some of the most storied players. They’re the ultimate team to root for and there has never been a more exciting time to bleed Blue than right now.

My favorite all-time Dodger is a tie between Sandy Koufax and Kirk Gibson, with an honorable mention  going to Vin Scully. Koufax was a once in a generation pitcher who mystified hitters and would have gone down as perhaps the best pitcher in history if not for his health ending his career. I couldn’t be more excited to have him back with the Dodger organization.

Gibson was gritty player who hustled and took the game seriously. I loved his attitude and the way he played baseball. I have his jersey and I wear it at every Dodger home game I attend. It’s a little sad to see him with Arizona now, but I’m glad he’s doing so well.

My favorite current Dodger is A.J. Ellis. He’s a tough player who gives his all and is finally getting the  recognition he deserves. He may not hit 30 home runs or bat better than .300, but he’s the backbone of the pitching staff and a gamer. He hustles and works harder than anybody. I love what Ellis represents and the fact that he’s been a Dodger his entire career. He’s hilarious on Twitter, too.

My favorite Dodger memory is a collection of events that form a single memory: walk-offs. I love walk-offs. I’ve been fortunate enough to be in the stands for walk-offs by Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Dioner Navarro and Adrian Gonzalez. They are the absolute high at a ball game. Winning the game with a swing of a bat. It’s even better if it’s a home run. People go nuts for walk-offs and those memories I have of them are the most fantastic Dodger recollections I have.

If I could meet any Dodger in history, it would without a doubt be Vin Scully. The things that man have seen and announced are legendary. That may not be a valid answer though as he’s never played for the Dodgers (even though he’s synonymous with the organization). If I had to choose an actual player, I would say Jackie Robinson. Just to hear him speak and tell me of the things that he had to overcome and rise above would be the experience of a lifetime. I’m so proud that Robinson was a Dodger and would have loved to have had a conversation with him.

The Dodgers are my heart and soul and I would love be their and the city of Los Angeles' representative in the 2013 MLB Fan Cave. To help me out, please go here and vote for me.

Also, follow me on Twitter (@Bertsball), become my friend on Facebook and Instagram (@Bertsball) and my personal baseball blog.

Thank you so much and Go Dodgers!

- Thomas Roberts

Friday, February 8, 2013

Dodgers sign Mark Lowe and move Chris Withrow, Pedro Baez to the 'pen

The Dodgers and Mark Lowe had basically been dancing around for a couple weeks and finally came to an agreement on Friday.

If Lowe makes the team as a non-roster invitee, he'll earn a $1.5 million base salary. With incentives, he could earn $2.1 million.

Lowe's 2012, despite a nice ERA (3.43), didn't really pitch all that well. His 4.32 FIP was on the high side and his groundball rate dipped considerably compared to his career rate. Despite giving up just five home runs, he did so in 39 1/3 innings, for a HR/FB rate of 9.4 percent, which is just average.

Lowe is much more effective against right-handed hitters than lefties in his career:
  • vs. RHP: .234/.309/.330, six home runs allowed in 615 plate appearances
  • vs. LHP: .287/.361/.504, 22 home runs allowed in 534 plate appearances
The data suggest Lowe should be a ROOGY, if he even makes the team. The Dodgers already have a potentially full bullpen, as well as a guy like Peter Moylan, who is also a non-roster invitee.

This is a low-risk signing for the Dodgers. If Lowe is right, he could be a nice weapon against righties out of the bullpen.

Baez and Withrow now relievers

The Dodgers moved two prospects to the bullpen this week. One is former first-round pick Chris Withrow. The big righty out of Texas, who was once among the Dodgers' best prospects, has not been able to find the strike zone consistently enough as a starter. He pitched in relief last year and had better success.

Withrow has a mid-to-high-90s fastball that, if he can locate it, will do great out of the bullpen. He pairs a slider with the potentially plus fastball. He also has a changeup that is seldom used and he's all but scrapped his curveball.

The more interesting move -- and it's been a long time coming -- is Pedro Baez moving to the bullpen. To be more specific, he's moving from third base to the mound. He's following the career path of Kenley Jansen (even though he was a catcher) and has the arm strength to do it.

Baez was once, reportedly, clocked at 94 MPH across the diamond -- from third to first base. If the Dodger minor-league pitching coaches can get him to harness that arm talent and develop even a fringy-average secondary offering, he could be a nice piece. However, he could be a few years off. He's already 25, so he's four years behind Jansen in that regard.

One thing's for sure: the Dodgers have no shortage of right-handed, power relievers in the minors.

Photo credits
Lowe: Keith Allison, Flickr
Withrow: SD Dirk, Flickr

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 22 - Dodgers, Ross Stripling interview, prospects, minors, listener questions

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (L.A. Dugout) and I interview Dodgers' pitching prospect Ross Stripling. He was the team's 2012 fifth-round selection and gives us a lot of insight to his increased velocity, his first season as a pro and what he did on draft day.

We examine the Dodger prospects who made Keith Law's Top 100 list. There were only two, and one omission might surprise you.

We talk about two Dodger prospects who are moving to the bullpen -- both of which were expected moves. One is Chris Withrow, the other Pedro Baez. Withrow was the Dodgers' 2007 first-round pick and once had a ton of promise. Baez is a former third baseman who just couldn't hit enough to make it as a position player.

Jared and I also touch on non-roster invitees who could potentially make the Opening Day roster or remain in the organization in some capacity.

Finally, we close with listener questions. How old is Yasiel Puig, really? What other podcasts do we listen to? Are the Dodgers doing the right thing by not trading Chris Capuano and/or Aaron Harang just yet?

Libsyn link
Direct link
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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 (@LADugout or @FeelinKindaBlue). You can also "Like" the podcast on Facebook. We always welcome audience participation.

Image credit: Joe Martin

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dodgers' full-season minor league team preview: Chattanooga Lookouts

This is the third in a four-part series projecting the Dodgers' full-season minor league teams. Up next, the Chattanooga Lookouts.
Of all the Dodgers' minor league teams, this one should be the best. Once you see the roster, you'll see what I'm talking about.

The Lookouts were the only full-season Dodger minor league affiliate to make the postseason, thanks to a 41-29 second half.

Chattanooga faced off against the Jackson Generals (Mariners), filled with a bevy of prospects (James Paxton, Taijuan Walker and Mike Zunino, just to name a few). Jackson took the first two games of the series before an absolutely dominant pitching performance by Chattanooga gave the team its only playoff win. Jackson would take the series with in the next game.

Led by Nick Buss, Blake Smith and J.T. Wise, the Lookouts actually struggled a bit. They received some late-season reinforcements from Rancho Cucamonga in the form of C.J. Retherford and Bobby Coyle, but it wasn't enough to help the offense.

The pitching is where the Lookouts thrived. The team started the season with Nathan Eovaldi, Matt Magill, Ethan Martin and Allen Webster in the rotation. Unfortunately for the Lookouts, only Magill is still with the organization. The team did add Zach Lee, Chris Reed and Andres Santiago to bolster the staff late in the season -- all of whom are expected to be Lookouts for at least a portion of 2012.

The bullpen was great, with Geison Aguasviva, Steve Ames, Logan Bawcom (later traded), Red Patterson and Javier Solano leading the way.

Joc Pederson and Onelki Garcia made cameos in the playoffs and both could be two of the brightest starts on the squad.

The 2013 roster will be filled with all kinds of talent, including the $42-million man: Yasiel Puig.

Projected roster

Catchers (2)
Gorman Erickson
Christopher O'Brien

Infielders (6)
Joe Becker
Casio Grider
C.J. Retherford
Miguel Rojas
Angelo Songco
Scott Wingo

Outfielders (5)
Bobby Coyle
Omar Luna
Joc Pederson
Yasiel Puig
Kyle Russell

Starting pitchers (5)
Onelki Garcia
Zach Lee
Aaron Miller
Rob Rasmussen
Chris Reed

Relievers (7)
Ryan Acosta
Freddie Cabrera
Kelvin De La Cruz
Jose Dominguez
Eric Eadington
Jordan Roberts
Andres Santiago

Guys like Erickson  and Retherford could see promotions to Albuquerque, but there's a lot of players in line ahead of them. The offense looks like it could be strong, especially if Songco has a bounce-back season. The outfield will likely be formidable with some big-time prospects.

The pitching looks absolutely filthy. The rotation is headed by three of my top eight prospects, while Rasmussen could be a nice fit after his acquisition from Houston.

The bullpen probably won't be as good as it was last season, but Dominguez, after his 25-game suspension, should be the team's closer. Santiago, who has ability as a starter, is forced to the 'pen in favor of former supplemental first-round pick Miller. Those two are interchangeable in my eyes. Cruz could make the roster as a non-roster invite and gives the Lookouts three left-handers (along with Eadington and Roberts).

My lineup
Wingo 2B
Pederson LF
Puig CF
Songco 1B
Retherford 3B
Russell RF
Coyle DH
Erickson/O'Brien C
Grider SS

I don't think it's too likely Wingo leads off (hell, he might start with Rancho Cucamonga), but he has good on-base ability -- second only to Erickson in this lineup -- but there's no way Jody Reed (yes, that Jody Reed) bats his catcher leadoff. The 2-7 spots could be damn good, if everyone is clicking.

The rotation should be the team's bread and butter, as it has six legitimate starters and some highly ranked prospects.

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Monday, February 4, 2013

Dodgers' farm system getting better-than-expected praise from prospectors

Keith Law is the third noted prospector to rank the Dodgers' farm system in the middle-third, joining John Sickels of Minor League Ball and Baseball America.
Law ranked the system 18th, while Sickels and BA ranked it 19th.

This is what Law had to say about the Dodgers' system:
"They are a little underrepresented in the top 100, but with a lot of guys who'd either be in the next 50 or who could jump into the top 50 next year. That group is led by Yasiel Puig, who barely played in 2013 before surgery to address a staph infection kept him out of the Arizona Fall League."
Honestly, this is better than expected. The Dodgers have a lot of impact potential, but not a lot of depth. And since there isn't a lot of tape on guys like Puig and Onelki Garcia, it's safe to assume the system wouldn't rank in the top half in the majors.

The system lacks depth and true 5-star prospects, but that could all change after the 2013 season. Guys like Zach Lee and Chris Reed are what they are. However, the additions of Puig and Corey Seager -- both of whom could be 5-star guys -- coupled with the emergence of Joc Pederson and Matt Magill could lead to a better ranking come 2014. And this doesn't even take into account the myriad of international signings the Dodgers have made in recent months.

I'm extremely high on the Dodgers' 2012 draft class. That's no secret if you've listened to any episodes of "Dugout Blues." There are players with impact potential in that class, and it will be interesting to follow their progression through the minors.

The system's praise isn't that much better than expected, but a low-to-mid-20s ranking is where I thought most would have it.

I'll do an in-depth look at all the notable prospect rankings in a future post.

Sickels also has a brief write-up on Ross Stripling, who is a personal favorite of his. It's encouraging.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue