Sunday, March 31, 2013

Great Lakes Loons announce 2013 roster, led by prospect Corey Seager

In the coming days, all the Dodger full-season minor-league affiliates will announce their opening day rosters. First up, the Low-A Great Lakes Loons of the Midwest League.

There are a few surprises, but nothing earth-shattering.

The squad is led by 2012 first-round pick Corey Seager, one of the Dodgers' best prospects. The team also boasts 2012 draftees Zachary Bird, Lindsey Caughel, Jharel Cotton, Scott Griggs, Paul Hoenecke, Jeremy Rathjen and Eric Smith.

My predictions were decent. I hit on 14 of 25 players. Normally, 56 percent is nothing to really brag about. But, I do write about baseball and a .560 batting, on-base or slugging percentage is video-game like.


Jose Capellan
Tyle Ogle
Eric Smith

Alexis Aguilar
Bladimir Franco
Paul Hoenecke
Malcolm Holland
Corey Seager
Jesus Valdez

James Baldwin
Jeremy Rathjen
Devin Shines

Starting pitchers
Zachary Bird
Ralston Cash
Lindsey Caughel
Jonathan Martinez
Angel Sanchez
Miguel Sulbaran

Relief pitchers
Daniel Carela
Jharel Cotton
Carlos Frias
Sawil Gonzalez
Scott Griggs
Luis Meza
Arismendy Ozoria

The biggest surprise is probably Sanchez being demoted. He's 23 years old and, despite a terrible season at Rancho Cucamonga, I didn't see that coming. The last time he pitched in Midland was his first professional season and it put him on the prospect map. He'll need to re-establish himself at Low-A -- potentially as a reliever.

This team is filled with pretty solid prospects. Bird, Cotton and Martinez are some of the more intriguing pitching prospects to make this squad. Rathjen, who I thought should have begun the season in Rancho, should form a nice middle of the order with Seager and Valdez.

My best guess at a lineup

Baldwin CF
Shines RF
Seager SS
Valdez 1B
Rathjen LF
Smith C
Franco 3B
Hoenecke DH
Holland 2B

There's definitely some potential in the lineup. In a league where hitters don't usually fare well, the Loons could surprise some teams with their offense.

If they can get some decent pitching from some of the youngsters, they could compete for a playoff spot.

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Zack Greinke solid in final spring start, Rodriguez and Sellers make team

This hasn't been the greatest month for Zack Greinke leading up to the start of the 2013 season, but Saturday night was the most encouraging sight from him since he signed his mega contract in the winter.

Greinke made his final spring training start on Saturday against Angels and fared pretty well. It was just his second start in the last 29 days, so it's understandable if he's still a little rusty.
  • Greinke's line: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K, 81 pitches, 45 strikes
The final line is definitely acceptable for a spring training outing, even if the strike percentage could have been better (55.5 percent), but that's being nitpicky at this point.

It was just 18 days ago we were concerned about Greinke's elbow. And while he had a poor first outing on Monday, his outing in Anaheim was just fine.

Greinke hit as high as 95 MPH on the radar gun (according to MLB Gameday) with his fastball and threw his other three pitches consistently.

Greinke makes his regular season Dodger debut on Friday against the Pirates. If anyone would like to donate about $200, I can be in attendance for that game as I'm heading to Southern California this weekend for a wedding (not mine). If not, I guess I'll just have to listen to it on the radio.

As long as he's healthy, Greinke is going to be great this season. He's the perfect complement to Clayton Kershaw.

Roster cuts made, 25-man almost finalized

In somewhat of a surprise, Alex Castellanos and Kevin Gregg were among 11 players reassigned to minor-league camp after Saturday night's game.

Alfredo AmezagaStephen Fife, Elian Herrera, Peter MoylanJosh Wall and Matt Wallach were the others sent down immediately after the game. The rest of the names will be announced by tomorrow's 12 p.m. deadline.

It was also announced the Dodgers will have four players begin the season on the disabled list: Chad Billingsley (short-term stay), Scott Elbert, Ted Lilly and Hanley Ramirez.

This means Paco Rodriguez and Justin Sellers have made the opening day roster. Both are surprising, but Rodriguez is refreshing while Sellers is head-scratching.

The Dodgers, barring a trade, will have three lefties in the bullpen (J.P. Howell and Chris Capuano) to start the season. Rodriguez has shown the ability to get right-handers out just was well as left-handers. His fastball/slider/cutter combination is nasty.

Sellers, who I'm sure was on the chopping block after his Jan. 19 arrest in West Sacramento, made the team due to Ramirez's injury. While Sellers is a good defender, he isn't much with the bat -- like Luis Cruz, but worse.

There's chatter Sellers could play more shortstop than Cruz until Ramirez comes back, thus effectively benching Juan Uribe. If Sellers making this team means less Uribe, then I should be much happier.

The roster is at 28 players. There could be a trade tomorrow (Aaron Harang or Capuano) or some outright releases (Matt Guerrier). It remains to be seen.

Garcia takes the loss

Dodger reliever prospect Yimi Garcia pitched the bottom of the ninth inning tonight and, except for the walk-off home run he allowed to Angels' catcher Hank Conger, looked pretty good.

I have admittedly never seen him pitch, so it was a nice little treat.

Garcia featured a fastball that clocked in at 89-92 MPH, a changeup in the mid-80s and a slider at 79-81 MPH. He struck out the first two batters he faced (both swinging) -- Brendan Harris on a nice, sharp slider and an 89 MPH fastball to Kole Calhoun.

After a ball to Hank Conger, Garcia left an 89 MPH fastball out and over the plate and Conger deposited it into the right-center field seats, ending the game.

Garcia made it to High-A Rancho Cucamonga last year, and I suspect he'll begin the 2013 season there. If so, I should be able to see him in person.

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Friday, March 29, 2013

Report: Dodgers, Clayon Kershaw close on record contract extension

With Justin Verlander, Buster Posey and Paul Goldschmidt (one of these things is not like the other ... yet) all landing contract extensions on Friday, the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw are on the verge of a record-setting contract extension.

Mike Petriello reported the potential extension just minutes ago.
"None of that seems all that interesting any longer, because I can reliably report that Clayton Kershaw is going to sign an eight-year, $200m extension with the Dodgers, possibly as soon as tonight. If so, that would blow away all of us — myself included — who thought that $200m was an unattainable goal, though clearly deals since then have impacted that.
No word yet on the structure of the deal, but if it begins in 2013, as I expect it would, then it would cover Kershaw’s age 25-32 seasons. It’s a ludicrous amount of money, but that is exactly the timeframe I want a pitcher, and Kershaw’s obviously the kind of pitcher (and person) you’d want to lock up for that."
Awesome. I suggested an 8-year, $218 million extension earlier this offseason, so if the final deal is somewhere in the neighborhood of 8/200, then that's just fine.

It would be the richest contract for a pitcher in baseball history, if it's the base deal. There could be options -- team, player, vesting or otherwise -- when the final deal is announced.

This is potentially a fantastic day for the Dodgers. There is no way this club would let a guy like Kershaw reach unrestricted free agency. As is the rage these days, superstars are being locked up long-term before there's even a chance for a bidding war.

Kershaw may be the most important player the Dodgers have. Getting him signed to an extension was imperative before the end of next season. I'm just happy it's (apparently) happening now.

Photo credit: SD Dirk, Flickr

Gold Glovers: Examining the best defenders in the Dodgers' farm system

In what is probably the least-sexy tool among baseball players, I examine the best defensive players in the Dodgers' farm system.

There are no Cesar Izturis' or Alex Cora's in this bunch, but there are some players who are quality defenders.

Postseason hardware is not indicative of defensive prowess, as Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp have Gold Glove awards, but the Dodgers could have a few guys who contend for the award in the future.

While the tool is not sexy, it is necessary and an underrated facet of the game.

Previous entries in this series
This list is reserved for Dodger position player prospects who feature 60 or better (future) defense.

James Baldwin
- Baldwin is the Dodgers' best defensive outfielder, as he handles center field with relative ease. His speed helps him range for fly balls not many other Dodger prospects. His arm is just average in center field, but his other defensive tools are unquestioned. Provided he hits enough, he could be a starting center fielder in the majors.

Gorman Erickson
- Erickson made big strides behind the plate last season, challenging fellow farm hand Tim Federowicz for best defensive catcher. The only thing really holding him back defensively is a below-average caught stealing rate. His arm is at least average, but it's a little difficult to get his lanky 6-foot-4 body to be compact when he throws.

Tim Federowicz
- Voted the best defensive catcher in the Pacific Coast League in 2012, Federowicz boasts a quality glove that is major-league ready. He is pretty good at throwing out runners, snagging 39 percent of basestealers in Triple-A last year. He's caught 50 percent of attempted basestealers in the majors, even if it is just 3-of-6. He should have a long career based on the strength of his glove. If he hits, then he's a surefire starter.

Blake Smith
- Smith took to right field in college and, despite logging some time on the mound at Cal, has stuck at the position. He uses his above-average instincts and average speed to track down fly balls with ease in right field. He has the best outfield throwing arm in the system, but Yasiel Puig is giving him a run for his money. Smith has even dabbled in center field, but he'll likely stay in right field going forward.

Jesmuel Valentin
- Valentin earned rave reviews for his defense in his debut season, earning best defensive infielder and best infield arm honors from Baseball America. Despite playing mostly second base in deference to 2012 No. 1 overall pick Carlos Correa, Valentin still projects as at least an average shortstop (probably better) and above-average at second base. He has enough arm for shortstop, making it a plus arm for second base. He could carve out a niche as a utility infielder at worst, but the Dodgers hope he's much better than that.

Rafael Ynoa
- Smith sung Ynoa's defensive praise when he was a guest on "Dugout Blues." Ynoa is a lot like Valentin (or is it the other way around?), as he can play both middle infield positions well. Ynoa is better at second base than he is at shortstop, but he split time between the positions evenly in 2012. The Dodgers don't have much in the way of middle infield prospects in the upper minors, but Dee Gordon starting the season in Albuquerque eliminates Ynoa from being the Isotopes' opening day shortstop.

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dodgers' SPs Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly likely to start season on DL

Maybe it's a good thing the Dodgers didn't rush to trade Chris Capuano, as Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly are both expected to start the 2013 season on the disabled list.

Billingsley, who is dealing with a potential elbow issue, also is dealing with an injured fingernail on his pitching hand. He was slated to start the second game of the season after Zack Greinke had his Dodger debut pushed back because of a spring training elbow injury.

Instead, Billingsley will be out for a little bit, meaning Capuano will likely be in the Dodgers' rotation -- if Billingsley is out long enough, as the Dodgers won't need a starter for the two weeks of the season.

The Dodgers' rotation sets up like this for the first two weeks (barring anything unforeseen):
  • April 1: Clayton Kershaw
  • April 2: Hyun-Jin Ryu
  • April 3: Josh Beckett
  • April 5: Zack Greinke
  • April 6: Kershaw
  • April 7: Ryu
  • April 9: Beckett
  • April 10: Greinke
  • April 11: Kershaw
  • April 12: Ryu
  • April 13: Beckett
  • April 14: Greinke
Lilly, who was just terrible this spring (9 IP, 17 H, 18 R, 14 ER, 8 BB, 6 K), wasn't going to be much of a factor anyway, but he didn't do anything to help his perceived value on the trade market. He's in the last year of his deal, but I'd be surprised if he made more than a handful of starts for the Dodgers, especially with him seemingly not fully recovered from his shoulder surgery.

I've yet to mention Aaron Harang because I doubt he's still a Dodger by Monday. He'll either be traded to one of the teams that have scouted his starts (Mets, Orioles, Brewers, Mariners) or he'll be designated for assignment. Harang, who's made six relief appearances in his 11-year career, would not fare well out of the bullpen. He needs to be a starter on a team that needs a guy capable of throwing 160 or more innings. Harang is that guy.

When the Dodgers need a starter on April 15, let's hope Billingsley is ready to take the ball. If not, I suppose that are worse options than Capuano -- if he's still a Dodger.

Photo credit: SD Dirk, Flickr

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 30 - Puig, Billingsley, Ryu, bullpen, signings

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (Dodger Diamond) and talk about the questions and stories surrounding the Dodgers leading up to the season's start.

The Dodgers optioned Yasiel Puig to Double-A Chattanooga on Tuesday. It was the right move, but also a possible temporary move. He'll be the one of the first players recalled if (when) the Dodgers need him.

We also talk about Dee Gordon getting optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque. We prefer that Gordon get the starting shortstop gig, pushing Luis Cruz back to third base. Instead, the Dodgers are going with some sort of Juan Uribe/Jerry Hairston combination.

Chad Billingsley is going to miss his first start and likely begin the season on the disabled list. This paves the way for Hyun-Jin Ryu to start the team's second game of the season against the Giants.

Kyle Lohse signed with the Brewers on Monday. Because of the signing, they lose their first-round pick at No. 17. The Dodgers, originally slated to choose at No. 19, move up one spot. They landed Corey Seager at No. 18 last year.

Who's going to get the final spot in the bullpen? It's down to Kevin Gregg (likely), Peter Moylan (less likely) and Paco Rodriguez (least likely).

We touch on the Dodgers' two new international signings (Bernardo Reyes and Jesus Canivales). Jared also redid his Top 20 prospect list because he "hated" his first incarnation of it.

Finally, we close with listener questions. Some pretty good ones, including a gaming one that gets us off on a predictable tangent.

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

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Dodgers option Yasiel Puig to Double-A Chattanooga, aka the right choice

The Dodgers optioned spring training sensation Yasiel Puig to Double-A Chattanooga on Tuesday. This was the correct move.

Puig made it a much tougher decision than originally expected with his fantastic play this spring. He'll join many top Dodger prospects in Tennessee like -- at least for a little while.

This also means Carl Crawford, despite my skepticism, should be ready for opening day.

As exciting as it would be for Puig to be in the majors, he needs a little more seasoning in the minors. After Alex Castellanos, who could (should) benefit from the transaction, Puig should be first on the minor-league depth chart.

It's a move that makes all the sense in the world, but it's still a touch disappointing.

The Dodgers haven't had a player create as much buzz as Puig in a long time. Matt Kemp is an exciting player, but even during is shoulda-been-MVP campaign of 2011, he never had the mystique surrounding him Puig does. Manny Ramirez brought a buzz with him until his performance-enhancing drug suspension, but Puig is doing all this as a 22-year-old.

But Puig does have some facets of his game that need refinement, specifically his baserunning and defense. There's no better place to do that than in the Southern League.

Puig's time will be here sooner than originally expected. If Crawford or Andre Ethier struggle immensely, Puig will get the call. If any starting outfielder gets hurt for an extended period of time, Puig will get the call. Hopefully, neither scenario happens.

The Dodgers and the fanbase will soon be inundated with Puig. That will be a great day, especially if he proves his spring was no fluke while in Chattanooga.

Dee Gordon was also optioned to the minors, as he'll begin the 2013 campaign with the Isotopes at Triple-A Albuquerque.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Monday, March 25, 2013

Dodgers have some tough decisions to make about opening day roster

The Dodgers have 38 players remaining in Major League camp after releasing reliever Mark Lowe on Sunday. The number has to be down to 25 by the time the Dodgers open the season on April 1 at Dodger Stadium against the Giants.

There are clearly locks for the roster (Kemp, Kershaw, et al), and some who weren't locks just as recently as a couple weeks ago (Uribe).

There are still some decisions to make regarding the first 25 -- the biggest of which being Yasiel Puig.

There are also decisions to be made about the bullpen and the Dodgers' excess starting pitchers.

The locks

Catcher (2/2)
A.J. Ellis
Tim Federowicz

Infield (5/5)
Luis Cruz
Mark Ellis
Adrian Gonzalez
Nick Punto 
Hanley Ramirez (DL)
Juan Uribe

Outfield (4/6)
Andre Ethier
Jerry Hairston
Matt Kemp
Skip Schumaker

Starting pitcher (5/5)
Josh Beckett
Chad Billingsley
Zack Greinke
Clayton Kershaw
Ted Lilly (DL)
Hyun-Jin Ryu

Relief pitcher (5/7)
Ronald Belisario
Chris Capuano
J.P. Howell
Kenley Jansen
Brandon League

There are only a few spots still up for contention. A couple spots in the bullpen and a couple spots on the bench.

With Ramirez's injury, Uribe (unfortunately) becomes a lock, as Cruz will move to shortstop from third base. My preference is for Dee Gordon to get a shot at shortstop and to keep Cruz at third while Ramirez is out. That doesn't appear too likely at this point.

The big question comes in the outfield. While all signs point to Carl Crawford being ready for April 1, I'm still not convinced. Oh, and there's the Puig question. When spring training started, there was virtually no chance of Puig breaking camp with the team. Now, it's a legitimate question, even if folks in the know think he's destined for Double-A.

Also, Alex Castellanos was vying for the 25th-man spot before Puig took off. He could still get a shot, especially if Crawford is ready on time.

My guess: Crawford and Castellanos make the team.

In the bullpen, the Dodgers have a couple spots to fill. At this point, I have Capuano making the 'pen as a long reliever, making Howell the only situational lefty available. That gives Paco Rodriguez a better chance to make the club. Scott Elbert isn't fully recovered from his two winter surgeries, also giving Rodriguez a good shot of making the club.

As for non-roster invitees, Kevin Gregg and Peter Moylan are the only two remaining. The Dodgers seem to have a non-roster invitee -- usually a reliever -- make the squad.
  • Gregg's line: 9 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 HR 0 BB, 4 K
  • Moylan's line: 7 1/3 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 3 HR, 4 BB, 8 K
If we're going off spring training stats (which we shouldn't), Gregg is the clear winner. However, Moylan has better numbers in the regular season. But Moylan has thrown just 13 1/3 innings in the last two season -- combined. I don't think both pitchers make the squad, though.

The Dodgers could do something surprising and go with Josh Wall, who has struck out 12 batters in 10 1/3 spring innings. But that probably won't happen.

My guess: Rodriguez and Moylan get the nod to fill out the bullpen.

As for Aaron Harang, I really think he's traded or designated for assignment by opening day. He seems like the worst fit of the Dodgers' surplus of starters to pitch out of the bullpen.

Here's hoping a team steps up and makes a play for Harang. even a fringy reliever prospect would be just fine.

Portion of Ramirez's salary to be paid by WBC

Buster Olney and Ken Rosenthal reported Sunday the World Baseball Classic will be responsible for Hanley Ramirez's salary while he's on the disabled list.
For the pre-2012 Dodgers, this would have been great. For a team projected to have a $230-plus million payroll, it doesn't really matter much. It's at least a "nice" consolation for losing Ramirez for two months.

First mock draft of 2013

John Sickels at Minor League Ball posted his first 2013 mock draft on Saturday. Sickels alternated picks with Matt Garrioch, a writer fro the site. Garrioch had the Dodgers' pick and mocked RHP Dustin Driver from Wenatchee High School (Wash.) at No. 19.
"The Dodgers have went a different direction under their new ownership but due to the new basic agreement spending restrictions, I don't see it changing their philosophy in the draft. Jon Crawford could join his Florida teammate quickly if they would go that direction. Ryan Boldt is a name worth considering here as is currently injured Austin Wilson. Reese McGuire could be an intriguing pick here, as they really have no catching depth but that could actually hinder him if they would rush him just because they lack depth and that urge would be there. I think I will go with a local high school arm in Dustin Driver, RHP, California HS"
Driver is 6'2, 210 pounds with a solid fastball for a prep pitcher (91-93 MPH, touches 94). Some view him as a relief prospect because he lacks consistent secondary offerings. But he fits the Logan White profile: high schooler with projectable frame and a quality fastball. Here's a video of him at a high school showcase in San Diego.

The draft is less than three months away. Looking forward to it.

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Friday, March 22, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 29 - Dodgers, Ramirez, Greinke, Puig

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (Dodger Diamond) and talk about the recent injury issues and one prospect who's dominating.

This is another abbreviated episode. We'll return to a full show for episode 30.

Hanley Ramirez is out for at least eight weeks with a torn ligament in his thumb. That's going to hurt the offense, but could improve the defense in the short-term.

We also get off on a tangent about Carl Crawford's health and status for April 1.

Zack Greinke's elbow is still a concern, but he looked good in a minor-league game on Wednesday. I talk about what I heard Curt Schilling say on the March 15 Baseball Tonight podcast.

Finally, what would any podcast be without a Yasiel Puig update. The impressive Cuban is lighting it up in spring training. We still don't think he should break camp with the team, but he's doing about everything he can to make us change our minds.

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

Dodgers sign Mexican RHP Bernardo Reyes, 17, plus some Yasiel Puig news

The L.A. Daily News' J.P. Hoornstra reported today the Dodgers signed yet another international youngster: Bernardo Reyes, a 17-year-old from Sonora, Mexico.

Roberto Baly had this to say about the signing:
"The Dodgers signed 17-year-old RHP Bernardo Reyes out of San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, Mexico. He's close to (turning) 18 years (old) and is the first player to be sold from the David Gonzalez academy of Tijuana. David is the father of Dodgers first (baseman) Adrian Gonzalez.
By signing directly to a MLB club, Reyes might never play in Mexico. You see, Mexican teams (Liga Mexicana de Beisbol) prefer to sign players and put them in a academy and then sell them to MLB teams. Mexican teams usually keep most of the profit. By doing what Reyes did, he will most likely be put in a black list among Mexican owners."
Baly would add Reyes was scouted by Mike Brito, the man responsible for signing Fernando Valenzuela and, more recently, the first Dodger scout to see Yasiel Puig in action.

They also signed four players last week: catcher Dashenko Ricardo, who caught for the Netherlands World Baseball Classic squad, shortstop Dennis Santana and left-handed pitcher Cesar Romero. They also officially signed shortstop Carlos Aquino, which was first brought up in late January.

Earlier this winter, Eric Stephen approximated the Dodgers had likely spent a little more than $2 million of their allotted $2.9 million international signing pool.

Speaking of Puig...

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports wrote an interesting article on Puig, stating the Cuban slugger should begin the season with the Dodgers.

A few interesting excerpts from the piece.
"The scout, who has seen Puig twice, bases his opinion more on look than results. He recognizes the absurdity of Puig's numbers, though he doesn't quite understand those trying to argue it's coming against inferior competition. His contention is correct. In 26 at-bats against pitchers expected to start the season in the minor leagues, Puig is hitting .461/.444/.731. In 22 at-bats against major league pitchers, he is .591/.565/1.000."
... and 
"'I take nothing from spring training,' Dodgers utilityman Jerry Hairston Jr. said. 'It really means nothing. For a young guy, it's good to make an impression. But I've seen too many guys with monster springs you never hear from again.

'"Thing is, that's not going to happen with him.'"
... and (re: trading Andre Ethier to make room for Puig)
"'Send me Ethier and $85 million,' said one GM, referring to the amount owed on the right fielder's five-year contract, 'and I'll give you whoever you want.'"
... and finally
"And considering it's so early in the Puig annals, maybe some piece of The Legend will turn out to be true. Maybe, just maybe, Puig can do anything.

'Hey, Puig,' reliever Peter Moylan said. 'Can you play shortstop?'

'Shortstop?' Puig said. 'That's easy, papi.'"
It's the question that just won't go away. We'll see what happens.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dee Gordon deserves another chance in light of Hanley Ramirez injury

As news broke this morning of Hanley Ramirez's injury (out at least eight weeks), the reality of Juan Uribe remaining with the club became a virtual lock.

Manager Don Mattingly already said Luis Cruz would take over at shortstop for Ramirez, which makes a little sense, I suppose. But I'd rather see Dee Gordon take it and have Cruz remain at third base.

Gordon, who is having a nice spring, needs to prove his worth when (not if) Uribe fails.

Gordon had a fantastic spring in 2012, but he basically fell flat on his face after being anointed the Dodgers' starting shortstop. Perhaps the pressure on him was too much to handle. Perhaps he just isn't that good a baseball player. But he earned praise as a prospect and we always knew his bat would determine whether he would make it in the majors.

In a month or so (hopefully), he'll have a chance to show what he's made of.

Hopefully, Gordon can improve his trade value with some extended playing time, as the Indians and Mariners were among the teams interested in him this winter.

Gordon has a chance to be a dynamic player, but he needs to do things that will lead to his success. Mastering the bunt single, hitting the ball on the ground and, the biggest thing, learn to take a walk.

If Gordon could even post a .330-.340 on-base percentage, he'd be a valuable player. With that, he could easily swipe 50 bases, if not more. He isn't going to hit home runs, which is fine, but he needs to be less of a free-swinger and develop some plate discipline.

If it sounds like I'm rooting for Uribe to fail, I kinda am. If that makes me a bad fan, sobeit. But I'm tired of seeing inferior players (not to say Gordon is that much better than Uribe) continue to get opportunities over potentially superior players is infuriating.

Uribe has worked a bunch at first base this spring, but he's most "valuable" at third base because of his strong throwing arm. Unfortunately, that's about all he's good for.

This isn't a great situation for the Dodgers to be in by any means. They didn't expect their power-hitting shortstop to miss the first two months of the season, but here we are. The Dodgers have a lot of talented players, but losing a guy who provides the type of potential offense Ramirez does at short is going to be tough to overcome in the short-term.

Luckily, the season is six months long. If Ramirez is back and fully healthy by June 1, I'll consider it a victory. The left side of the Dodger infield will just have to tread water until HanRam (yeah, I don't like the moniker, either) returns.

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

First impression of Dodgers' Hyun-Jin Ryu: Not an ace, but not bad, either

Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched at Camelback Ranch on Sunday -- the last day of my spring training trip. I was lucky enough to see him on that day.

While it started off rough, he ended up throwing a gem (by spring training standards).

Ryu gave up a run on three hits in the first inning, with little help from his defense. Luckily for Ryu, Adrian Gonzalez hit a 3-run home run in the first inning, and the Dodgers were off.

Ryu ended up throwing 5 2/3 innings, allowed three hits, one run, two walks and struck out six Brewers. He retired the last 11 hitters he faced on St. Patrick's Day (hence the ridiculous green jerseys).

- Scouting reports have varied on Ryu and what I saw in spring training is just that -- spring training. But he showed at least one plus offering, an average offering, an offering that could be average soon and a below-average offering.

Four-seam fastball
- The scouting reports about Ryu have not been consistent. Some said he throws in the 87-92 MPH range, others said 92-94 MPH. On this day, Ryu was in the 88-90 MPH range with his fastball. He had just a little arm-side run (as all lefties do) and was able to locate it well enough. Hopefully for him and the Dodgers, he can increase his velocity going forward. Average

- This is absolutely his best pitch. The pitch dives away from right-handers, prompting a lot of swings and misses. He can change speeds on it. He threw it in the 78-81 MPH range, which is about right for his fastball velocity. The changeup will be the pitch he will be known for in his career -- and that necessarily isn't a bad thing. Plus

- Ryu worked with Sandy Koufax early in camp on the pitch and it might be developing into his third-best offering. He can throw it at different speeds -- anywhere from 71-78 MPH. It still needs work, but it could be a nice weapon against left-handed hitters if he can be consistent with it. Average soon

- His slider, like most lefties, can be effective against both types of hitters. As of now, it's not a pitch he can go to with the utmost confidence. It's a pitch that sits in the upper-70s and can touch the low-80s. But the fact he throws four pitches at this point in his career is encouraging. The slider doesn't have the greatest tilt and depth to it, but he shouldn't ditch it just yet. Below-average

His delivery isn't picturesque, but it works for him and shouldn't lead to many injury issues down the road. His frame is such that he should be able to handle a heavy (I swear, no pun intended) workload, but we'll see how he handles his first season in the majors.

When Ryu hit the market, everyone knew he wasn't an ace. People knew he wasn't a No. 2 starter. But with work and his potentially good four-pitch mix, he could be a No. 3 starter at his peak. If not, he'll likely be an inning-eating (again, no pun intended) back-of-the-rotation starter -- a pitcher who has value in baseball.

With Chad Billingsley not certain to make it through the season, Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang, and Ted Lilly's spring struggles and Zack Greinke's elbow (though, he should be OK), Ryu might be the most durable Dodger pitcher this side of Clayton Kershaw.

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 28 - Dodgers, Ryu, Crawford, Puig, Seager

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (Dodger Diamond) and I give a brief recap of our spring training trip. Don't worry, we'll have a more in-depth recap later this week or next Tuesday.

I got to see Hyun-Jin Ryu pitch in person. Aside from his shaky first inning, he was nails. It was his best performance of the spring.

We also talk about Carl Crawford and his road to recovery. I'd still be shocked if he begins the season on the active roster.

Before we get to the "real" minor-leaguers, Yasiel Puig looked like a man among boys on Friday night. I wrote a post about his performance on Friday night. It was well worth the price of admission.

Finally, Jared and I talk about the myriad of prospects we saw on the back fields at Camelback Ranch. For prospect buffs like ourselves, it was amazing.

We got to see a lot of Corey Seager, who gave us quite a scare on Saturday. Basically, any prospect of any significance was available for us to see.

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

Image credit: Joe Martin

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The 'Yasiel Puig Show' was on full display Friday night in Glendale

I was lucky enough to be in attendance for what could be a glimpse into the future of Yasiel Puig. On a night when not much was expected, Puig's star shone brightly.

The lineup was lackluster, aside from Puig hitting in the No. 3 spot. Most of the Dodger stars had played against the Padres earlier in the day in Peoria, Ariz. But the team left Puig behind, and everyone in attendance got quite the treat.

In Puig's first at-bat, he did his best Matt Kemp impression by blasting a 2-run home run to right-center field off the Royals' Yordano Ventura.

When Ned Colletti commented earlier this winter about the sound the bat makes when Puig hits it, he wasn't inaccurate. The second Puig connected with that ball, everyone knew it was long gone.

In his next at-bat, Puig laced a single to right field. He hit it so hard, Royals' outfielder Jeff Francoeur attempted to throw Puig out at first. Puig responded by stealing second base. He'd eventually come around to score.

In his third and final at-bat, he smoked a single back up the middle. Then, the baserunning antics ensued.

On a pop fly down the right-field line, Puig didn't get off the base nearly far enough, but was still able to beat the throw into second. Then, on a bloop single, he had to slide into third base. Unbeknownst to the Royals, Puig dashed for home and slid in safely without a throw.

Like I said, he did his best Kemp impression for the 8,125 folks in attendance. It was the Puig show and everyone was watching.

Puig's line: 3-for-3, 2-run HR, two singles, a stolen base and three runs scored. Yep.

After the game, manager Don Mattingly made a Puig comparison we've yet to hear (per Eric Stephen):
"'I don't think I've seen anybody do something like this. I've seen guys have good springs, but not with that kind of energy,. You don't see this kind of package. This is a Bo Jackson-type package that you just don't see.'"
Bo Freaking Jackson? I can live with that. Let's just hope Puig doesn't take up football anytime soon.

For as awesome as Kemp is, it almost looks like Puig can be awesomer (yeah, I wrote it). There is absolutely no doubting his physical talent.

Now, it is spring training and he isn't facing Major League-equivalent talent, but he is facing Triple-A talent. For a guy who has less than 100 professional plate appearances (regular season), that's rather remarkable.

Puig is still going to start the season in the minor leagues (likely with Double-A Chattanooga), but his ticket to The Show could be punched at any time, especially if he impresses against stiff Double-A competition.

Side note: Unfortunately, I didn't get any video of Puig's home run, but I got everything else. I'll work on posting that either later this weekend or next week. For now, just enjoy the photos.

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Friday, March 15, 2013

Video of Dodgers' shortstop prospect Corey Seager at spring training

Much to my surprise, Corey Seager made an appearance during Thursday's exhibition game against Meiji University.

The first thing I noticed was his size, which I touched on in my last post. He struck out looking in his first at-bat and I took video of his second at-bat.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find any decent (free) video editing software, so this is completely uncut and raw.

Seager takes a vicious swing around the 1:30 mark. He knew Jared Massey and I were there, so he was trying to impress us with his swing. That has to be it.

Here's the video.

He's an impressive physical specimen -- a different kind of impressive than Yasiel Puig (who absolutely dominated a baseball game tonight for five innings, which I'll write about on Saturday).

The Dodgers may have very well picked a winner here. I'm looking forward to following his progression through the minor leagues.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

First day at Dodgers' spring training was basically heaven on earth

Aside from seeing every player I absolutely wanted to, my first day at Dodgers' spring training couldn't have gone better.

After acquiring the media credential the Dodgers were so gracious to grant me, the first stop was the back field. Seemingly every player in camp was present, as the team was working on rundown drills.

Dee Gordon was the loudest, which is no surprise, but he seemed to be enjoying himself well enough. This included an interesting gesture after completing one leg of the drill.

It was just cool to be so close to the players.

Some ESPN guys were there, including Jim Bowden, Orel Hershiser, John Kruk and Buster Olney. Aside from Hershiser, "meh."

I saw guys like Zack Greinke, Clayton Kerhsaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu up close. I also saw Yasiel Puig, who is as physically impressive as advertised. And I somehow snapped what could be my favorite Puig photo to date.

That's Scott Wingo he's hugging. It was a nice moment between 2012 teammates, even if Puig is questioning why I'm snapping a photo of a "bro" moment.

As I was about to make my way to the back fields when I heard, "Eric. Hey, how was the Dr Pepper burger?"

Yes, I had been mistaken for Eric Stephen (True Blue LA). I told Ryan Denton and his father Harold who I was -- and he knew. Oh my God, I felt like a celebrity (can't think of a better word), even if I was the farthest thing from it. It was just awesome to get positive feedback from a fan of "Dugout Blues" in person. I was flattered.

Oh, and a heads-up: Stephen had some choice words about the burger and his experience at the Metro Sportz Grill. Here's a preview from Twitter last night:
He'll explain in the next episode of the TBLA podcast.

After the players broke and went to different sections of the facility, it was off to the minor-league fields -- specifically to see Carl Crawford make his in-game Dodger debut. I wrote about it for the Yahoo! Sports Contributor Network.
"Los Angeles Dodgers' outfielder was the designated hitter for six plate appearances in an exhibition minor-league game on March 14 -- the first time he's faced live, in-game pitching since being acquired by the team in August.

Crawford had three plate appearance against Meiji University -- a Japanese university -- and three against Dodger minor-league pitchers.

Crawford struck out swinging in his first at-bat. He would double in his next against Dodger right-hander Sean White. The Meiji University bench erupted, playfully, with cheers after the double. He would follow those first two plate appearances with back-to-back singles. He would fly out in the following plate appearance before drawing a walk in his last against Dodgers' prospect Jonathan Martinez."
As soon as I nail down some decent video editing software, I'll post video of his first at-bat.

Three interesting Dodger prospects also played in the game -- 2012 No. 1 pick Corey Seager, Jeremy Rathjen and Martinez.

In the two at-bats I saw, Seager struck out looking and grounded out second base. No big deal. What is a big deal is his size.


When Jared Massey and I had Ross Stripling on the podcast, Stripling said Seager was 6'5, 220 lbs. People tend to exaggerate -- not just baseball players -- which is what I thought happened here. Well, I think I owe Stripling an apology because Seager is every bit of 6'5/220. He's only 18 years old and is probably already too big for shortstop, but he's going to keep playing there until the Dodgers move him to third base.

Rathjen, playing left field, also made an appearance and struck out swinging on a high fastball.

Martinez, who is just 18 years old, made an appearance. I ranked him at No. 49 in my Top 50 prospects, but couldn't find much information about him. After seeing him today, I still don't know a whole lot about him, but he definitely has potential -- even if he had a poor outing (allowed a 3-run homer).

Then it was off to the actual game. I know Arizona is hot, but it was obscenely hot having to sit in the sun for any extended period of time. Suffice it to say, I spent most of my time in the press box.

Puig got in the game and flew out to right field in his only at-bat. Word is, he'll be starting on Friday and Sunday at Camelback Ranch, so that should be fun.

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 27 - Greinke, Crawford, Cruz, WBC, Cano

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (Dodger Diamond) talk about everything going on in Dodger spring training before we head down to Arizona ourselves.

Zack Greinke's elbow injury isn't a good thing, but it might not be bad as it seems. It's still something to be concerned about.

Carl Crawford faced live pitching (batting practice) for the first time since becoming a Dodger. He hit against J.P. Howell and Kenley Jansen.

Luis Cruz and his flat-out dumb actions in the World Baseball Classic are discussed.

Prospects were optioned to minor-league camp (Steve Ames, Matt Magill) while other non-roster invitees were reassigned (Brian Barden, Omar Luna, Jeremy Moore).

FanGraphs' Marc Hulet released his the site's Top 100 prospects for 2013. Four Dodgers appear, but none higher than No. 91 (Zach Lee). The word "lazy" is said a few times in regards to the overall rankings.

And we close with a listener question listener questions (proud of you folks this week). Too many good ones to list all of them, but we touch on second base and whether Robinson Cano is a viable option for the Dodgers in 2014 and beyond. Could the Dodgers stick with Mark Ellis or do something crazy like put Hanley Ramirez there? We also answer the Yasiel Puig question, which is becoming a more prevalent question these days.

That's it for episode 27. We're in Arizona for the next 5-7 days and we'll bring all kinds of new content to the listeners. Thanks for listening.

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

Image credit: Joe Martin