Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 36 - Puig, Ramirez, Kershaw, Magill

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (Dodger Diamond) and I record on a Monday again because I'm attending the Quakes-Ports game on Tuesday night. Ross Stripling, friend of the show, is pitching Tuesday night.

Yasiel Puig can drive really fast -- 97 MPH in a 50 zone, to be specific. We talk about whether we would levy any punishment against the super-prospect.

Hanley Ramirez is back, but we're not 100 percent sure this is a good idea. I wrote a piece about it for Yahoo! Sports as well.

Clayton Kershaw is back to his usual dominant self, as he put on a masterful performance on Sunday against the Brewers (8 IP, 0 R, 0 BB, 12 K). His slider appears to be working much better now.

Matt Magill made his surprising MLB debut on Saturday. Being the prospect nerds we are, we both were pleased with it, even if he could use a little more seasoning in the minors.

Finally, we answer listener questions, which were plentiful this week. It was great to have as many (legitimate) questions this week as we did. Keep 'em coming, folks.

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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 (ladugout@gmail.com or feelinkindablue@gmail.com) 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

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Yasiel Puig arrested in Tennessee, Corey Seager heating up in Midland

Yasiel Puig, possibly nearing the end of his 7-day disabled list stint in Chattanooga, has bigger issues to deal with right now.

Puig was arrested in Tennessee on Sunday after being charged with speeding and reckless driving. He was also driving without proof of insurance.

According to an article from the LA Times, Puig's hearing for the matter is May 14.

One of the main reasons -- other than just not having enough playing time the last couple years -- Puig was sent to Double-A after a great spring training was his maturity. The Dodgers were concerned with his attitude and maturity level at times. It seems their concerns were validated on Sunday.

Despite signing a 7-year, $42 million contract last year on the international market, the Dodgers made the right decision with Puig, and it shows even more at this moment.

Yes, 22-year-olds are going to do stupid things. But as a professional baseball player, one would hope a guy would be mindful enough to know the spotlight is on him -- more than any Dodger prospect in recent memory. Everything he does will be magnified and picked apart by just about everyone.

From the Times' article:
"'We're aware of it,' Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti said. 'We take it seriously. We’ll be handling discipline internally.'"
On top of the initial penalty for speeding, reckless driving is a Class-B misdemeanor in Tennessee and carries a fine of not more than $500 and not more than six months in jail. Don't worry, Puig isn't going to jail (again) for this incident.

The arrest is disappointing, but it also isn't the end of the world. In an attempt to not minimize the seriousness of Puig's alleged actions, at least he wasn't driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. That would have made things even worse -- at least, for me.

This is a dumb kid mistake, but that excuse can't be used all the time. He needs to learn and grow from this incident.

Seager heating up

Corey Seager began the season 1-for-17. Since then, he's gone 20-for-57 (.351). The just-turned-19-year-old has a weird extra-base hit line: one double, two triples and three home runs.

He's still playing shortstop, which was expected. What wasn't expected was Jesmuel Valentin joining the Loons at the same time Seager was on the club. Because the Dodgers want Seager to play shortstop as long as possible, Valentin is either going to play sparingly or play a lot of second base.

I have no doubt Valentin can handle it, but his ultimate value lies at shortstop. If Valentin can be a productive player offensively at short, his value will increase exponentially. But it's early. We'll see what the Dodgers and the minor-league teams do with the two 2012 draftees.

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Breaking down Dodgers' prospect Matt Magill's surprisingly good MLB debut

Matt Magill was pretty good in his Major League debut on Saturday night. It was (presumably) a game seen by more people than normal because it was televised on MLB Network, and Magill didn't disappoint.
  • His line: 6 2/3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 101 pitches, 73 strikes
Seriously, we couldn't have asked for anything more. He was in line for the win before Matt Guerrier did his best Todd Worrell impression, but that's what the Dodgers get for having Guerrier on the roster. But I digress.

There were some interesting takeaways from Magill's outing.

Data courtesy of Brooks Baseball

I thought Magill was throwing a lot of first-pitch sliders. It seems my assumption was correct.

He threw first-pitch sliders to right-handers, but also threw significantly more of them against left-handers than the average right-hander.

Something else to note from this data is how much he relied on his fastball to get left-handed hitters out. Every time he was ahead of a lefty in the count, he threw a fastball.

And he only threw four changeups -- all of which were against lefties.

This next chart shows  how effective his pitches were.

Click to enlarge
Magill got the Brewer hitters to swing through his fastball 15 percent of the time. Not bad for lacking elite velocity. He also got called strikes on the pitch at the same rate. Brewer hitters swung at more than half of Magill's fastballs (53.3 percent). This will come into focus later in the piece.

His slider got similar a swing rate (53.3 to 53.8 percent), but more than half the swings-and-misses his fastball did (15 percent to 7.7 percent). Magill's slider is supposed to be his strikeout pitch, so that's something to keep an eye on going forward. However, he did get significantly more groundballs with his slider than he fastball (20.5 to 3.3 percent).

Magill was basically a two-pitch pitcher on Saturday, and here are the results.

Click to enlarge
All the hitting damage done against Magill was via the slider (and all were singles). Brewer hitters weren't able to square up his fastball enough to get a base hit. Magill's two walks came via the fastball, so the pitch wasn't perfect.

His slider looked to be a little loopy at times, but he tightened it up late in his appearance. The one-strike slider he threw to Jean Segura -- his 102nd pitch of the night -- was probably his best offering.

However, his fastball was pretty damn good. He got all seven of his strikeouts via the fastball and didn't allow a hit. For throwing the pitch 58 percent of the time, that's actually saying something.

Unfortunately for Magill, he's probably headed back to Albuquerque. But after his solid debut, he'll be heard from again -- hopefully not too soon, though.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Evan Chavez, I Bleed Dodger Blue 2

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Dodgers recall Matt Magill to make Major League debut against Brewers

In a bit of surprising news, the Dodgers on Saturday recalled right-hander Matt Magill from Triple-A Albuquerque to make his Major League debut against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Stephen Fife, who was slated to start, was placed on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to 4/22) with right shoulder bursitis.

Magill, 23, was my No. 6 prospect coming into the season and had a 2.84 ERA in his first 19 Triple-A innings. While he struck out 23, which was great, he also walked 14 batters. The biggest knock on him is his command/control. So far, he hasn't done much to prove the scouting reports wrong.

However, Magill did answer the critics regarding his velocity. Once considered to have a fringe-average fastball, Magill now routinely works in the low-90s and touches 94-95 MPH at times. He also boasts a knockout slider in the low-to-mid-80s and an average changeup.

His repertoire isn't the question -- it's the finer points of pitching.

Magill is going to have to learn on the fly, as the Dodgers don't have any other realistic options to fill a starting rotation spot at the moment. He isn't as ready as I'd like, but he's definitely a better option than Zach Lee, who was my No. 1 prospect coming into the season.

Magill will be the Dodgers' ninth starting pitcher of the season. This is the team's 23rd game, and this isn't how the brass planned the first month of the season. Things will eventually even out. Might as well get all the crap out of the way early rather than having to deal with it in August and September. There's no guarantee things will even out, but the Dodgers' luck couldn't possibly be this bad for a six-month stretch.

I know this: tonight's game (on MLB Network at 6 p.m.) just got a lot more interesting.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Evan Chavez, I Bleed Dodger Blue 2

Friday, April 26, 2013

Brandon League's effectiveness, velocity down to start the 2013 season

Brandon League really hasn't endeared himself to fans or those who questioned the 3-year, $22.5 million contract he signed this winter with the Dodgers.

He's currently worse than replacement level (-0.1 WAR) and not exactly inspiring confidence in his late-inning appearances. It's curious as to why that is.

League has always had a good fastball, in terms of velocity. When I heard Steve Lyons say on the broadcast the other day (paraphrase), "League doesn't have the velocity to miss up," I was stumped. Yes, I recognize it's Lyons and he says about 45 dumb things per game, and I thought this was no exception. This was a guy who averaged 95.2 MPH on his fastball last season -- good for 19th-best in the majors.

Through nine appearances this season, he's averaging 93.8 MPH on his fastball. Not exactly Ted Lilly, but also curious as to why he's throwing his fastball 1.4 MPH slower than last season.

League is throwing his fastball at a 61.2 percent clip -- more than 5 percent less than last season (66.7 percent). He's seen his split-finger fastball percentage rise by almost 4 percent and his slider percentage rise by nearly 2 percent. That pretty much makes up the difference, but I'm wondering why League is going to his off-speed stuff more frequently early on this season.

League has struggled in recent outings, giving up runs in three of his last four appearances. He blew a save on Wednesday and gave up a home run to Mets' first baseman Ike Davis on Thursday. Luckily, the Dodgers had a two-run lead heading into the ninth.

Something different from League's last five seasons is he's getting less swings at pitches outside the strike zone. He's been above-average in that respect, but this season, he's getting just 23.7 percent swings outside the zone. The league-average is 29 percent. League doesn't get a lot of strikeouts, so getting swings on pitches outside the zone is paramount. That also comes when his sinker is working well. So far, it hasn't worked well.

This will probably be a moot point (to a certain extent) later in the season. Kenley Jansen is the best reliever the Dodgers have (by a wide margin). The fact he isn't closing right now is both good and bad. It allows Don Mattingly to use Jansen in the eighth inning and -- on rare occasions -- in the seventh inning, when the outcome of the game could still be in the balance. But if the game is in the balance in the ninth inning, League will be the go-to guy, regardless of the situation.

League's not a particularly good strikeout pitcher. He averaged 9.2 K/9 in 2009, which is not the norm. He's never averaged better than 6.8 K/9, which he did last season. This year, he's struck out just three hitters in nine innings (3.0 K/9).

At least he isn't walking anyone. League's allowed just one walk so far this season.

League will, hopefully, get better as the season progresses. Even the Dodgers probably can't (even though they can) afford the luxury that is a $7.5 million setup man.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 35 - Mike Petriello, Billingsley, Kemp, Cruz

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (Dodger Diamond) and I are joined by the great Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness. He was kind enough to stay through the entire recording, which may or may not have been a good idea on his part.

First up, we talk about the most inevitable of the most inevitable -- Chad Billingsley needs Tommy John surgery. Petriello wrote a great post about this happening. I think we were all hoping/expecting it to happen more than two starts into the season.

We also talk about Matt Kemp's struggles and how he may or may not be ready to break out of his slump.

The three of us also talk about the incredibly bad Luis Cruz, which prompted someone on Twitter to play the race card. Sigh.

We also were watching the Dodger game -- a 7-2 victory -- while recording, so you'll hear a little about how Mark Ellis is doing really well.

Finally, we close with some listener questions -- a lot of them directed toward Petriello. Some were good and some were funny.

Big thanks to Petriello for sticking around for the recording. It was great fun.

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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 (ladugout@gmail.com or feelinkindablue@gmail.com) 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, April 23, 2013

Dodgers' LHP Paco Rodriguez should utilize his 4-seam fastball more often

Mariano Rivera is famous for being a one-pitch pitcher. He's the most dominant reliever of all-time, thanks to a ridiculous cut fastball.

Kenley Jansen is following in Rivera's footsteps, specifically with the cutter. He's throwing it 94.6 percent of the time this season, according to Brooks Baseball.

When a relief pitcher has such a dominant pitch as Rivera and Jansen, it's not surprising to see them throw that pitch almost exclusively. But those pitchers are rare.

Paco Rodriguez has a nice three-pitch mix, but he's throwing his 4-seam fastball just 20.8 percent of the time this season. In his brief 2012 debut, he threw his fastball 41.6 percent of the time. The scouting report on Rodriguez out of college was his fastball sat in the low-90s. In his brief career, he's averaging exactly 90 MPH on the pitch -- the lowest of the 90s. He's resorted to his cutter and slider much more than his fastball this season, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Rodriguez is throwing his cutter 39 percent of the time and his slider 32.5 percent of the time.

Rodriguez throws his fastball less than every pitcher in baseball not named Rivera, Bryan Shaw and R.A. Dickey.

Both pitches are effective against both kinds of hitters, but his fastball is a weapon that's underutilized so far.

Pitch             2012                2013
4 FB1.6 0.2
SLD 1.4 0.6
CUT -0.7 0.7

*Pitch values, according to FanGraphs

His fastball is less valuable while his cutter is more valuable this season, so that accounts for the lack of fastballs so far. But if Rodriguez wants to have continued, sustained success in the majors, he'll have to learn to trust his fastball more.

His slider and cutter have similar vertical movements, illustrated in the chart below.

Rodriguez will need to be able to change the hitter's eye so he's not always expecting a pitch with some sort of bend. That's a good thing because at this rate, it's a surprise when he throws a straight fastball. It stands to reason hitters could be surprised by the fastball. Since Rodriguez is going to pitch in a lot of high-leverage situations, he'll need all his weapons working while on the mound.

It's nice to see him have such confidence in his off-speed offerings -- especially at a young age. But in most cases, a pitcher is only as good as his fastball. Rodriguez could be a damn good late-inning reliever -- especially if he harnesses and embraces his fastball.

It's rare for a hard-throwing reliever to have a legitimate three-pitch arsenal, but Rodriguez is one of those guys. He's going to be good for a really long time.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Dodgers' prospect Joc Pederson off to fantastic start in first Double-A stint

Joc Pederson has been one of my favorite prospects ever since the Dodgers were able to snag him in the 11th round of the 2010 draft. He made a brief appearance in the Southern League playoffs last season after playing the entire regular season in the California League.

Pederson is in his first full season in Double-A and, at age 21, is playing against competition significantly older than him. He's the 10th-youngest player in Double-A and the third-youngest in the Southern League behind Ronald Torreyes and Taijuan Walker.

As a youngster, he's atop or near the top of virtually every offensive category in the relatively neutral Southern League (through Saturday).

(Minimum 10 games played)

Batting average: 9th
On-base percentage: 25th
Slugging percentage: 1st
On-base plus slugging: 2nd
Home runs: 1st
RBIs: t-3rd
Runs scored: 1st
Hits: 1st
Doubles: t-8th
Triples: t-2nd
Stolen bases: t-3rd
ISO: 1st
wOBA: 2nd
wRC+: 2nd

This is almost nothing short of amazing. Much was made about Pederson's California League performance in 2012 and some wondered if it was a product of the hitter-friendly environment. Early on (and it is early -- 68 plate appearances), Pederson is proving he's a legitimate hitting prospect.

What's encouraging is Pederson isn't getting lucky. His batting average on balls in play is .300, which is league-average. He's walking less than he did last season (10.2 to 7.4 percent), but he's also striking out less so far (16.2 percent to 11.8 percent).

I'd like to see the walk rate come up a bit, but if he keeps the strikeout rate down and hits for the kind of power he has so far, it's more than acceptable. I'm not expecting him to slug .694 all season, but he should be a .500-plus slugging guy when the season ends.

Pederson ranked as high as No. 4 on prospect lists (Bullpen Banter) and as low as No. 9 (FanGraphs) this winter. He ranked at No. 5 for me, thanks to the signings of Yasiel Puig and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Some think he's just a fourth outfielder-type (Keith Law), while I'd be surprised if he weren't an every day player in the majors in just a couple of years.

While his center field defense is a question mark, his bat could make it more than possible for him to handle a corner outfield spot.

Another criticism of Pederson was his speed. While he has at least average speed, he was 26-for-40 in stolen bases last season. The 26 steals were nice. The 14 caught stealing number wasn't. This season, he's 6-for-6. Pederson is becoming a better, more well-rounded player -- and he's doing it in the first month of the Double-A season.

In my scouting report of Pederson from June, I compared him to Melky Cabrera (minus the performance-enhancing drugs) with more pop. I could see that coming to fruition.

With Puig on the 7-day disabled list after spraining his left thumb, Pederson -- along with Blake Smith, J.T. Wise and Bobby Coyle -- will be expected to pick up the offensive slack for the Chattanooga Lookouts.

Pederson is proving his worth thus far. Here's hoping it keeps up.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Dodgers place Chad Billingsley on DL, recall Stephen Fife, sadness ensues

That didn't take long at all. We were all skeptical about how long Chad Billingsley's balky elbow would hold up. The answer: two starts.

The Dodgers placed the 28-year-old on the disabled list on Sunday. Stephen Fife was recalled from Triple-A to take his spot.

While I've come around on Fife, this is still a bad situation for the Dodgers, which will seemingly cap off a bad week.

Some are calling for Zach Lee to be recalled. While I"m sure it's tempting, especially with his fast start in Double-A, the Dodgers have other options.

Ted Lilly is set to rejoin the team next week. After the Dodgers and Lilly played a game of chicken, the Dodgers won. In hindsight, that was a good win for the club. Instead of finding a trade partner for Lilly or having to release him, he'll slide into Chris Capuano's spot until the lefty is ready. Then, the Dodgers will have to make yet another decision about the rotation.

For now, Fife is playing the role of Billingsley. He was always going to be first in line from the minors to replace a fallen starter, especially after logging 26 2/3 decent innings with the club last season. If things don't go well with Fife and Capuano isn't fully healed, Matt Magill would be next. He's already on the 40-man roster, so the Dodgers wouldn't have to make a subsequent move to get him on the active roster.

I'm the biggest Magill fan not named Chad Moriyama in the Dodger blog community, but he needs a little more seasoning before he gets the call. He's walked 10 batters in 15 innings. That isn't the kind of walk rate that's conducive to success anywhere, let alone the majors.

It would take a lot of bad luck for Lee to start a game for the Dodgers this season. That, or he'd be so lights-out in Double-A that his prospect status rises again and the Dodgers can't keep him down.

If Zack Greinke weren't out, Billingsley's elbow soreness -- while expected at some point -- wouldn't be as big a deal. Greinke will be fine when he gets back, but there's no telling what the Dodgers are going to get out of Lilly, Capuano and Fife. And that's a scary thought.

So much for that pitching depth, eh? It's really being put to the test right now.

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Josh Beckett's increased velocity reason for Dodgers to be optimistic

That was a hell of a performance by Josh Beckett on Sunday. Despite the 87-hopper that ultimately lost the game, it was by far his best outing as a Dodger.

Something I noticed from the highlights and, subsequently, looking at the data, is his velocity (all data from Brooks Baseball).

Click image to enlarge

I know it's a small sample size, but his average and maximum fastball velocity is trending up. His average velocity through three games this season is actually less than it was in 2012, but only slightly (91.81 to 91.77). But what's more impressive is his maximum velocity.

Through three starts in 2012, Beckett topped out at 92.14 MPH. On Sunday, he topped out at an impressive 94.39 MPH. For a guy who averaged at least 94.3 MPH on his fastball from 2006 to 2009 (and threw it much more frequently), it really isn't that impressive.

But for everything that's been written about how he's a different pitcher now (and he is), it's nice to see him reaching back for a little more. If Beckett can be a guy who consistently works in the low-90s, he's going to be just fine.

We'll see how he progresses and how he does in Saturday's start (the second game of a doubleheader). He is a pitcher who has to be more of a pitcher than a thrower with his decreased velocity. He got rocked in his first two starts this season before tossing that gem in Arizona. I'm not saying he needs to be that guy every start, but if he can keep the offense in the game, that's about all we as fans can expect.

Graphic by: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 34 - Robinson, Greinke, Gonzalez, Kemp

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (Dodger Diamond) and talk about the all the goings on with Dodger baseball.

First, we say a word about the horrible tragedy that happened in Boston on Monday. Then, it's onto some baseball talk.

We both saw "42" over the weekend, and that's where we start. We both give it a favorable review. Jackie Robinson has no equal. He was not only an amazing baseball player and athlete, but also -- more importantly -- an amazing man.

It's an awkward transition into the next topic: the Zack Greinke-Carlos Quentin brawl that resulted in the Dodgers losing their No. 2 pitcher for at least a couple months. Yes, Quentin still sucks.

There are some Dodgers off to good starts -- Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Hyun-jin Ryu -- and some off to not-so-good starts -- mainly Matt Kemp. It's not time to be overly concerned yet, but  every day that passes and Kemp isn't showing signs of breaking out of his slump just adds to that.

We head to the farm and talk about our weekly Yasiel Puig update. He's really good at baseball and should be really good at it when he gets his chance in the majors. Also, Scott Van Slyke is on fire -- almost literally. And Zach Lee is pitching like the team's top prospect so far this season.

Finally, we close with some good listener questions. It's our favorite part of the show, so keep those questions coming.

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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 (ladugout@gmail.com or feelinkindablue@gmail.com) 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, April 16, 2013

The connected careers of Alfredo Silverio, Yasiel Puig and Carl Crawford

When Jorge Soler was a free agent, I wanted the Dodgers to go after the Cuban slugger. When he signed a 9-year, $30 million deal with the Cubs on June 11, I was a little surprised at the length of the deal, but could understand why the Dodgers didn't want give that contract duration to an unproven 19-year-old.

Then, the Dodgers ponied up $42 million for seven years of Yasiel Puig on June 28 -- a move that didn't come out of nowhere, but was surprising nonetheless.

If that wasn't enough, the team went and acquired Carl Crawford in August as part of the Adrian Gonzalez deal.

So, the Dodgers now have four outfielders signed to long-term deals. Eventually, one of them will be traded (my money is on Andre Ethier, especially after Crawford's hot start to 2013).

But my question is: would the Dodgers have made these moves if Silverio hadn't been in the car accident and subsequently needed Tommy John surgery?

Silverio came off a career year in 2011, in which he hit .306/.340/.542 with a Southern League-leading 76 extra base hits (42 doubles, 18 triples, 16 home runs). He was poised for a huge season in Triple-A before a nasty car accident in January 2012.

What's unfortunate is, the Dodgers may or may not have misdiagnosed Silverio due to a language barrier.

Ben Badler wrote an article about it in December.
"The Dodgers brought Silverio in for tests and determined that he had a concussion. Only there was one problem: Silverio said the test was done in English. Silverio signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2003 and can speak English, but it's not his native language. Silverio said he understood everything the doctors were telling him, but he wanted to think about what they were saying before he responded, which may have been misinterpreted.
With Silverio's concussion, the Dodgers wanted him to stay off the field, but Silverio asked the Dodgers if he could get a second opinion. When Silverio went to the University of Pittsburgh a few weeks later for a test—this time conducted in Spanish—Silverio said they told him he did not have a concussion. Even with that, Silverio still missed the entire 2012 season, as he had Tommy John surgery that spring, which Silverio said he believes was the result of an elbow injury he sustained in the car accident."
Silverio, now with the Marlins after Miami nabbed him in the Rule 5 Draft, is on the 60-day disabled list due to a sprained elbow -- the same elbow which required Tommy John surgery last year.

Silverio is a dynamic player and is at least an average defender in left field. I never had him rated terribly high (No. 12 heading into 2012), but Baseball America had him ranked as high as No. 4 (same year). He's a tool shed who doesn't walk. He does everything else relatively well -- at least, he did before his injury.

While his future is still unknown, it would have been interesting to see his time play out with the Dodgers. Perhaps Crawford is playing elsewhere (Anaheim, perhaps?) or he's still wallowing in Boston. Perhaps we don't know how to pronounce Puig if Silverio is never in that car accident, even though I'm willing to bet the Dodgers wouldn't have shied away from nabbing Puig on the open market. I suppose there's less chance the team would have acquired Crawford, unless Silverio were dealt to Boston in that deal,

Everything truly does happen for a reason. With Silverio, there could be no Crawford. But the Dodgers could still be in a similar position with four outfielders for three spots. Perhaps Silverio would have been traded eventually if the team had Ethier, Matt Kemp and Puig. Perhaps Silverio -- not Puig -- is getting the headlines in the minor leagues.

I still hope Silverio goes on to have a long and distinguished career. The first step is getting healthy and getting back on the field. He has a great opportunity in Miami, especially after Giancarlo Stanton is traded to the Dodgers this winter (I know, another outfielder, but TEH POWER).

As weird and potentially messed up as it sounds, perhaps the car accident was a positive for Silverio's baseball career. I can't imagine the hell and pain he went through on a personal level, though. And frankly, that outweighs everything else.

But only time will tell if he can turn it into a positive.

Photo credits
Silverio: mwlguide, Flickr
Puig and Crawford: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Monday, April 15, 2013

Dodgers place Shawn Tolleson on DL, recall Josh Wall, Zach Lee is awesome

Remember that time Shawn Tolleson was put in a 1-0 game in Arizona and attempted not to pour gasoline all over the mound? Well, perhaps he shat the bed for a reason.

Tolleson was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Monday and Josh Wall was recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque.

Tolleson came in and promptly walked two batters, both of which allowed runs to score -- and both charged to Clayton Kershaw.

It's not an easy situation to be thrown into, that's for sure. But as a reliever, walking the runs in is about the worst that can be done.

At least the Dodgers replaced him with a guy who brings it. Wall has a nasty fastball-slider combination that, unfortunately, he has trouble controlling at times.

With the Dodgers' deep bullpen, Wall shouldn't be thrust into too many high-leverage situations. If he is, then something has gone terrible wrong.

Hopefully Tolleson can show why he was once a Top 10 prospect in the system (by most accounts). Tolleson has exhibited pretty good control in the minors (2.1 BB/9 in 125 2/3 innings), but hasn't done been able to match it in the majors (5.3 BB/9 in 37 2/3 innings).

Lee impresses early on

A little self back-patting here: Zach Lee is off to a fantastic start this season. My No. 1 Dodger prospect heading into the season, Lee has a 1.06 ERA, given up just two earned runs and 24 baserunners in 23 innings.

Lee is using a nice four-pitch mix, including a newly incorporated two-seam fastball. Lee has a 2.18 groundout-to-flyout rate this season, easily the best of his young career. That's important for him because one criticism of Lee is he lacks a true out pitch.

Lee is never going to be a strikeout-per-inning guy, but he can find a way to get a strikeout when he needs it (7.7 K/9 in his career).

So much was made of his $5.25 million signing bonus and the expectations that came along with it. The fact is, Lee is not the next Clayton Kershaw or Zack Greinke. He might not even be the next Chad Billingsley. But if he's anything close, he'll have a long and prosperous Major League career.

Photo credits
Tolleson (illustration): Epic Memories by Ron, Flickr
Lee: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Catching up on Dodger news with lots of links: Greinke, Puig, Uribe, et al

Even before the Zack Greinke-Carlos Quentin fiasco from Thursday, there was a lot written about the Dodgers throughout the week. Here are some of the links I enjoyed.

Chad Moriyama had a couple of stories regarding the Greinke-Quentin brawl -- one about responding to C.J. Nitkowski's tweet and one about some Padre fan reactions to the brawl.

Mike Newman of ROTOScouting and FanGraphs wrote about his first 2013 impressions of Yasiel Puig and Zach Lee.

Speaking of Puig, here's him destroying a baseball on Saturday night against the Cubs' Double-A affiliate.

Mike Petriello compiled a list of notable players who have fewer home runs than Juan Uribe.

I wrote an article for Yahoo! Sports about how Uribe's deal is the worst contract the Dodgers have ever given out. While many would (rightly) argue for Andruw Jones, I can't get past the fact the Dodgers gave Uribe, a nearly replacement-level player now, a 3-year commitment. At least Jones was two years removed from a 40-home run season and was still considered a plus defender in center field.

Hugh Bernreuter had a nice piece on Dodgers' 2012 draftee Paul Hoenecke. He also wrote a mini-profile on Malcolm Holland and how he gave up football to play for the Dodgers' organization.

Jon Weisman, who I don't think I've disagreed with ever, wrote about the Dodgers' official Twitter account and its tweet following Thursday night's game.

Finally, I saw "42" on Sunday. It was amazing. It's been a long time since a movie made me that emotional, but to see just a small portion of what Jackie Robinson had to go through in the late 1940s. He was a remarkable man and this movie is a must-see for all Dodger and baseball fans.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Carlos Quentin suspended 8 games for breaking Zack Greinke's collarbone

That's fair, right? The Padres' second-best hitter (which isn't saying much) idiotically charges the mound and, because of that, the Dodgers lose their No. 2 starter in Zack Greinke for at least eight weeks.

The funny thing is, Quentin will appeal and likely get the suspension reduced to five games. Oh the joy of the Player's Union.

Greinke is having surgery on Saturday, which makes his recovery time longer than it would normally be.
So, there's that.

The Dodgers are going to have to make due without their No. 2 starter (an ace on two-thirds of MLB teams) for at least eight weeks. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he didn't pitch until after the All-Star break.

The team recalled Shawn Tolleson to replace Greinke on the roster, but that should be short-lived. Ted Lilly will likely be the beneficiary of Greinke's injury.

Chris Capuano is the better pitcher, but he's not stretched out to start after beginning the season in the bullpen. Plus, his skill set is much better coming out of the 'pen than Lilly.

Lilly has been unimpressive in his first two minor-league rehab starts: 12 IP, 17 H, 11 R, 10 ER, 4 HR, 1 BB, 10 K. At least he hasn't walked a bunch of minor-leaguers.

This doesn't bode well for the Dodgers. The clear loss is downgrading from Greinke to Lilly. If Chad Billingsley can give close to Greinke-level production while Zack is out, that would be great. He wasn't bad in his first start of the season. It's just a matter of his elbow holding up.

Jerry Hairston was also suspended for a game, which is no big deal. I'm surprised Matt Kemp didn't get any suspension at all.

Hanley Ramirez's return should help to mitigate the Greinke loss, but he won't be back for another month-plus. Until then, Kemp needs to break out of his slump and hope the rest of the rotation steps it up in Greinke's absence.

Photo credit: wisley, Flickr 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Dodgers' OF Carl Crawford proves he's healthy by dominating NL thus far

Full disclosure: I didn't think Carl Crawford would begin the 2013 season on the active roster. Not because I didn't want it to happen, but because I thought it couldn't happen.

Crawford, coming off Tommy John surgery in August, suffered a setback in spring training that caused him to miss roughly a week of action. He made his first in-game appearance while I was in Arizona for spring training (March 17) and was, understandably, rusty. I just didn't think he had enough time to get in baseball shape and have his elbow ready for opening day.

Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong.

Crawford is playing like he's back in Tampa Bay, and the Dodgers are reaping the benefits. Heading into Thursday night's game, Crawford was leading the National League batting average (.464), on-base percentage (.531) and was second in OPS (1.246), thanks to Justin Upton's six home runs.

Editor's note: Thank you, Kevin Towers, for trading Upton for "grit."

Myself and others said Crawford was a wild card in the Nick Punto trade, and so far, he's been just that. He's picked up for Matt Kemp's deficiency thus far and has served as the team's leadoff hitter. I had hoped Hanley Ramirez would be atop the Dodgers' order, but the way Crawford has taken the reins, it's clear Don Mattingly made the right decision (even if he didn't have to choose between the two because of Ramirez's injury).

Crawford has gotten in trouble on the basepaths a little bit (caught stealing twice), but he's been the team's best offensive player so far, just edging out Clayton Kershaw (and Adrian Gonzalez, I suppose).

Now, Crawford won't post a .500-plus on-base percentage the entire season, but I wouldn't be surprised if he posted a career-best OBP in 2013 (.364 in 2009 is his best). If he does that as the team's leadoff hitter, the Dodgers are going to be a dangerous team.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Update: Dodgers' SP Zack Greinke fractures collarbone in brawl

Update (10:54 p.m.): As the Dodger game ended (a 3-2 victory), Vin Scully passed along word that Zack Greinke fractured his left collarbone in the brawl with Carlos Quentin tonight. What a terrible end to the night.

Enter a player who, coming into the 2013 season, had been hit 114 times in his 8-year career, including 40 times in the last two seasons. Said player gets hit in a 2-1 game in the sixth inning and somehow thinks it's intentional.

Carlos Quentin, you suck.

Zack Greinke was leading 2-1 before getting to a 3-2 count on Quentin to begin the bottom of the sixth inning. Greinke hit Quentin with a pitch on the hands. Quentin looked at Greinke, Greinke may or may not have said something and Quentin charged the mound.

Greinke stood his ground and used his non-throwing shoulder to take the brunt of the hit from Quentin, who has anywhere from 30 to 40 pounds on Greinke.

There was a brawl that also included Matt Kemp getting ejected from the game (and will likely be suspended for at least a game or two). Vin Scully said a pitch that was high and tight to Kemp earlier in the game could have explained why Quentin thought Greinke hit him on purpose. But there appears to be another reason.

Greinke, while with the Royals, faced Quentin when he was with the White Sox. Apparently, these two have a bit of history.
"An instance between Carlos Quentin and Greinke with one out in the fourth stood out as the game's only real fireworks, and even this uprising didn't amount to much. Quentin was hit squarely in the back by a Greinke pitch and immediately took a couple of steps toward the mound.
Home-plate umpire Bill Hohn stepped in front of Quentin and catcher Miguel Olivo quickly restrained the slugger. Television broadcasts showed Quentin telling Olivo that he was all right, and Quentin moved down to first base.

By Greinke's estimation, it was a first-inning pitch that got away and almost hit Quentin in the head causing the residual anger three innings later.

'He had a reason for (being upset),' said Greinke of Quentin. 'Any time you throw it that high, it's justified. You've got to be better than that and not pitch like that. You're going to make mistakes, but the last thing you want to do is hit someone where it could seriously hurt them. As soon as I let go of it, I was scared for him.'"  
Could Quentin have been holding onto a grudge for four years? Only he knows. But the fact he charged the mound, almost inexplicably, to may have potentially injured the Dodgers' prized free-agent signing is bush league. No matter the length of Quentin's suspension, it won't make up for whatever may or may not be wrong with Greinke and losing Kemp (despite his struggles) for a couple games.

Greinke left the game after the fracas, but it's unknown whether it was because of injury or an ejection.

Brawls are part of the game. Brawls when one guy could be out just to hurt a pitcher who he dislikes is flat-out bullshit.

Grow a set, Carlos. Or, better yet, stop standing on top of the plate -- then you won't get hurt. Nice to see that Stanford education is paying off.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Dodgers' prospect Zach Lee masterful in second outing of 2013 for Lookouts

I was able to catch a couple innings of Zach Lee's Wednesday night start against the Tennessee Smokies, and he was dominant.

While no radar gun readings were readily available, Lee was throwing all four of his pitches and kept the Smokie hitters off-balance.
  • Lee's line: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 HR, 1 BB (intentional), 7 K, 84 pitches, 55 strikes
That's a great performance for any pitcher, but especially a 21-year-old in Double-A. His first outing was abbreviated, but he's struck out 12 and given up 11 baserunners in 10 innings so far.

Lee's prospect status has diminished since the start of last season, despite having, arguably, a better overall season in 2012 than he did in 2011. Still, I rated him as my top prospect in the system, and I stick by that (for now, thanks to Yasiel Puig).

Mike Newman of ROTOScouting and FanGraphs had a nice write-up on Lee (and Puig) that's worth a read. He also took video of Lee.

Lee's delivery is almost perfect. It's smooth, fluid and, most importantly, repeatable.

Lee isn't going to be the next Zack Greinke (though, he could learn from the analytic right-hander), but he will have a prosperous career in the majors -- it's just a matter of when.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 33 - First week, Kershaw, Kemp, prospects

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (Dodger Diamond) and talk about the first week of Dodger baseball while being distracted by the Dodgers' eventual 9-3 loss in San Diego.

We fawn over Clayton Kershaw, as he was dominant in his second start of the season. We also talk about the other two good starting pitchers in Hyun-Jin Ryu and Zack Greinke.

We try to figure out what's wrong with Matt Kemp and the Dodger offense. Aside from Carl Crawford, Mark Ellis and Adrian Gonzalez, everyone can stand to hit a lot better -- especially guys named Luis Cruz, Justin Sellers and Juan Uribe.

Next up is the minor-league portion of the podcast, led by the tantalizing Yasiel Puig, (or "Pew-ig/Poo-ig," according to some), Scott Van Slyke, Alex Castellanos, Paul Hoenecke and a plethora of pitchers who had good first weeks, such as Zach Lee, Onelki Garcia, Ross Stripling, Zachary Bird and more. The Dodgers have some good pitching depth all around the minors but, like the Major League team, the offense is lagging behind (aside from the fellas named above).

Corey Seager is off to a slow start, but there's little reason to be concerned. Others are off to slow starts, but it is just a four- or five-game sample at this point.

Finally, we close with some good listener questions.

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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 (ladugout@gmail.com or feelinkindablue@gmail.com) 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, April 9, 2013

Hyun-Jin Ryu, Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp win the Internet this week

We all knew it was coming, and it's finally here. This is probably the greatest thing on the Internet, at least until the next big cat video hits YouTube.

Hyun-Jin Ryu, Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp put on quite a show. I just wish the video clip was a little longer.

What I'm wondering is, how did Steve Ames end up winning "Dodger Idol" instead of Ryu? I mean, Ryu was able to get Kershaw and Kemp to join in. That should be worth a victory in itself.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Dodgers' pitching staff picking up for early-season offensive deficiencies

The Dodgers' offense is off to a slow start, which is pretty much the norm for this club in the last, oh, 25 years. At least, it seems that way.

In the same breath, the pitching is off to a great start, which is par for the course.

The Dodger pitching staff is tops in a ton of categories:

  • Runs - 10
  • Earned runs - 6
  • Hits - 28
  • Doubles - 1
  • Walks - 8
  • Shutouts - 3
  • ERA - 1.00
  • Batting average against - .154
  • On-base percentage - .189
  • Slugging percentage - .209
  • OPS - .398 (almost 200 points better than the next-best team)

This is flat-out dominance, led by National League Player of the Week Clayton Kershaw. The bullpen has yet to allow a run and, even with Hyun-Jin Ryu giving up 13 hits in 12 2/3 innings (which really isn't that bad), the team still has these amazing numbers.

It's amazing I haven't even mentioned Zack Greinke yet, who was really good in his Dodger debut (6 1/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K) and will back up Kershaw come October.

The fact this team is pitching so well is great, as guys like Justin Sellers, Luis Cruz and, unfortunately, Matt Kemp have gotten off to slow starts. Normally, guys like Sellers and Cruz would be non-factors, as they're not starting caliber players on a team with World Series aspirations.

But we know the Dodgers won't pitch this well all season. It's impossible. Thankfully, guys like Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez came to play so far this season. Crawford is tied for the National League lead in batting (.450, with Jean Segura) and Gonzalez is eighth (.400).

The team will hit better. The team will also pitch worse. It's going to even out. But it's nice to know this pitching staff is fully capable of shouldering the load for the times the offense will invariably struggle.

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue