Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Dee Gordon to play OF in winter ball in last-ditch effort to make him valuable

If the Dee Gordon era wasn't officially over yet, it is now. The shortstop (and part-time second baseman in Triple-A) will try his hand in the outfield during winter ball.

Gordon will play center field for Licey in the Dominican Republic. The team's general manager is, purely coincidentally, Manny Acta -- the man I either want to replace Don Mattingly (if he's not officially back, because that isn't totally official yet) or be his right-hand man on the bench (hat tip to Mike Petriello). But I digress.

Gordon is a good example of how volatile prospects can be. Once thought to be the next Jose Reyes (with far less power), now he's going to struggle to have a prolonged Major League career.

Many, including myself, ranked Gordon among the Dodgers' top prospects for a few years. Oops.

His speed was never a question -- dude can run. But that's the extent of his plus tools (or even close to average). The adage is, "You can't steal first base." Once again, that adage holds true.

Gordon's best game came on April 7, 2012, against the Padres. He went 3-for-4 with two walks, three stolen bases and drove in the game-winning run. That is the Dee Gordon everyone was expecting (not every night, mind you, but more often than not). His inability to adjust his game is frustrating. He obviously has a below-average bat and no power, so why not adjust and try to walk more?

If Gordon could even get on base at a .330 clip, he'd be a top 10 shortstop in baseball because he could wreak havoc on the basepaths. He'd steal 50-plus bases with ease. Alas, he did not compensate for his poor bat by walking more, putting himself in this position.

I wrote in January moving Gordon off shortstop would be a bad idea. Now, it's almost a necessity.
"If Gordon isn't traded, he could be the Isotopes' shortstop, because it doesn't make a lot of sense to make a guy with Gordon's potential a utility player so soon.
There's little doubt Gordon could handle the outfield, but any value in his bat goes out the window with a move. His bat is barely passable at shortstop. In his first 143 games, it isn't passable.
Gordon's position won't matter if he doesn't start hitting better -- something else that isn't guaranteed."
Almost everything written above can be said right now. Gordon is a trade candidate, if any team will have him. If he is dealt this winter, he'd likely be a throw-in as part of a bigger package. Teams interested in him last winter include the Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners.

But back to Gordon's defense. His defense at shortstop hasn't improved, so he'll need to market himself in another way to remain a potentially valuable major leaguer.

Side note: In 3 2/3 innings at second base this year, Gordon had a defensive run saved. While an extremely small sample size, perhaps his future lies there. It'd be much better than center field.

We'll see what happens. Gordon could become a capable center fielder (because that's the only outfield spot he could conceivably play), but I'm not confident it's going to help his bat.


Here's a full list of Dodgers playing winter ball (those who played in the organization in 2013).

Australia (Adelaide Bite)
James Baldwin
James Campbell
John Cannon
Chris Jacobs
Blake Smith

Dominican Republic
Pedro Baez (Licey)
Angel Castro (Cibaenas)
Kelvin De La Cruz (Cibaenas)
Carlos Frias (Cibao)
Dee Gordon (Licey)
Alexander Guerrero (Cibao)
Elian Herrera (Cibaenas)
Luis Vazquez (Licey)
Rafael Ynoa (Cibaenas)

Matt Angle (Culiacan)
Juan Noriega (Los Mochis)

Puerto Rico
Freddie Cabrera (Mayaguez)
Noel Cuevas (Mayaguez)
Jose DeLeon (Caguas)
Jon Garcia (Santurce)
Matt Magill (Mayaguez)

Eliezer Alfonzo (Magallanes)
Chili  Buss (Lara)
Elevys Gonzalez (Margarita)
Jeremy Hazelbaker (Aragua)
Luis Meza (La Guaira)
Hector Nelo (La Guaira)
Matt Palmer (Magallanes)
Red Patterson (Lara)
Joc Pederson (Lara)
Chris Reed (La Guaira)
Miguel Rojas (La Guaira)

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Monday, October 28, 2013

Dodgers' 2013 Arizona Fall League update: Seager, Garcias, more

The Dodgers didn't send a lot of talent to the 2013 Arizona Fall League, but they did send one of their top prospects in Corey Seager.

He hasn't played particularly well, but it's hard to get discouraged at AFL numbers. Keith Law fell into that trap last year when Joc Pederson hit .096/.161/.154 in 56 plate appearances. Law has since did a reversal on Pederson.

Here's a brief update on all the Dodger prospects who have participated in the AFL. They're playing for the Glendale Desert Dogs.


Brian Cavazos-Galvez, OF
.250/.300/.389, 1 HR, 2 2B, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 7 K
- Not a bad showing thus far, but Cavzos-Galvez is 26, so he's a bit older than most of the competition in the league.

Chris O'Brien, C
.100/.296/.200, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 6 BB, 5 K
- O'Brien is having a rough go of it, though, the six walks are nice. However, he's been tweeting quite a bit about his AFL time -- especially about Twins' super prospect Byron Buxton.

Pratt Maynard, C
2-for-8 (.250/.455/.625), 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 0 K
- Not a ton of data on Maynard, but 2014 will be a telling season for the former third-round pick.

Corey Seager, SS
.162/.262/.243, 3 2B, 4 RBI, 5 BB, 12 K
- Not Pederson-esque, but not especially great, either, considering how much he struggled with his late-season promotion to Rancho Cucamonga.


Pedro Baez
4 1/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K
- The converted third baseman has thrown well so far in Arizona. Many thought he would be the second coming of Kenley Jansen. Those people would be wrong. Baez is no longer on the Desert Dogs' roster.

Onelki Garcia
No stats
- Yet to pitch, but he just replaced Baez on the roster. Could use a little seasoning.

Yimi Garcia
6 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K
- Garcia has been the best performer of any Dodger prospect in Arizona so far. While his fastball is no better than a 55 pitch, his slider will determine how long his Major League career will be.

Jarret Martin
8 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 12 BB, 6 K
- Oof, 12 walks in eight innings isn't going to get it done. His future lies in the bullpen. He'll need to get his command and control down if he wants to ever crack a big league bullpen.

Michael Thomas
5 2/3, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 7 K
- Thomas is an under-the-radar prospect who could be a left-handed specialist in the majors one day. He had a rough start in Arizona, but has managed to turn it around a bit.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Friday, October 25, 2013

Dodgers would be wise to keep Joc Pederson for the foreseeable future

To say Joc Pederson is tearing up the Venezuelan Winter League would be an understatement.

While his .286 batting average is solid, his on-base percentage and slugging percentage are what's most impressive thus far.

Through 12 games, Pederson has a .545 (!) on-base percentage and .686 slugging percentage. That comes from a ridiculous 20:11 walk-to-strikeout ratio and seven extra base hits (3 HR, 3 2B, 1 3B) in 35 at-bats.

Pederson, 21, had a really good season with the Lookouts in 2013 and is making it even tougher for the Dodgers to consider trading the center fielder.

With Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig in the fold, it seems there isn't a lot of room for Pederson. However, it might actually behoove the Dodgers to keep him.

Pederson's stock is rising and he's going to be an attractive trade piece this winter. But if the Dodgers can find a way to move Ethier and/or Crawford, Pederson might be able to stick around. Of course, trading massive contracts like those of Ethier and Crawford are easier said than done.

The Mariners were rumored to be interested in Ethier last winter, but nothing ever materialized. There was an Internet rumor of Ethier-for-Ian Kinsler deal with the Rangers, but that's probably all it was. The Rangers would like to open up a spot for Jurickson Profar by trading Kinsler. Getting Ethier in return would at least give the Rangers some value in return. That trade would make sense for both teams if the Dodgers hadn't just signed Alexander Guerrero, who is almost certainly their future second baseman. The Mets could use an outfielder, and that might be the most logical destination for one of the high-priced Dodger outfielders.

It almost doesn't matter what the Dodgers get in return. They'd get roster flexibility, which is more valuable than any package the Dodgers could realistically get without having to pay all of the remaining money on either contract.

And let's not forget: Pederson is entering his age-22 season, so he doesn't necessarily have to be on the 25-man roster come opening day. He could go to Albuquerque, seem some slop from lefties, try to improve his platoon splits and mash a little -- which would force the Dodgers' hand even more.

Pederson might the best defensvie center fielder who has a chance to be more than a 4-A player. That plays in his favor. He has speed and is a smart baserunner, while having average power potential. Those guys don't exactly grow on trees. He's not Mike Trout or anything, but he could be a 20 HR/20 SB guy in the majors at his peak.

We'll see what kind of plan General Manager Ned Colletti has in store for the winter. Despite Kemp's questionable healthy, the Dodgers really can't go into 2014 with four full-time outfielders for three outfield positions. Yes, injuries happen, but what if they don't?

At this rate, I'd love to see the Dodgers keep Pederson in the fold, unless they're getting a stud player in return for him (you know, a guy like David Price or Giancarlo Stanton).

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 60 - NLCS review, Guerrero, Kershaw, more

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (Dodger Diamond) and I lament the end of the Dodgers' season after losing 4-2 in the 2013 National League Championship Series. Go Red Sox.

But before this, Jared paid tribute to the recently departed Alex Castellanos. He was designated for assignment late last week (and was traded to Boston on Wednesday).

Surprisingly, we don't spend a ton of time on that series. Instead, Don Mattingly and his Monday press conference was the topic of a lot of discussion. I'm still not sold he's going to be back, but the longer he's still the Dodger manager after Monday, the better.

The Dodgers finally signed Alexander Guerrero after trying multiple times. He should be the team's starting second baseman for the foreseeable future.

Clayton Kershaw, despite a terrible Game 6, is in line for a huge payday. It seems like we've been saying this for awhile, but, unlike Mattingly returning, I am confident this deal will get done before the start of the 2014 season.

Stop me if you've heard this one: Matt Kemp had another surgery. This time, it was his ankle. He had shoulder surgery a few weeks ago. Here's hoping he comes back healthy for 2014, even if it isn't for the start of the season.

David Price rumors are still floating around. We do our best to sift through everything and give our opinion on the situation. Anytime you can add an elite pitcher, it certainly isn't a bad thing (see: Zack Greinke).
Episode dedications
Jared: Alex Castellanos
Dustin: Masao Kida (even if Jared wouldn't let me say it)
Then, we close with Q&A, which were plentiful. Keep it up!

We'll probably record every other week, or as news warrants, during the winter.

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

Extending Clayton Kershaw should be Dodgers' No. 1 priority this winter

This is a few days late, but wow. Never in my wildest dream did I think Clayton Kershaw would lay an egg like he did on Friday in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.

And yet, he's still the best pitcher in baseball and is worth every penny the Dodgers are about to pay him.

No, I don't think Buster Olney's report of $300 million is legit, because Kershaw would have signed it already (he'd be foolish not to). Instead, I'm in line with Mike Petriello's thinking that it's going to be somewhere the neighborhood of eight years and $220 million.

He'd be the highest-paid pitcher in baseball history and one of the highest-paid players, period.

What makes a deal like this more than paletable is the fact Kershaw just finished his age-25 season, and he did so in great fashion (NLCS Game 6 notwithstanding). He's the first pitcher to finish a season with a sub-2 ERA since Pedro Martinez in 2000 (1.74) and first in the National League since Greg Maddux in 1995 (1.63). He's a true ace when there are fewer and fewer true aces these days.

Kershaw should be (and probably is) the Dodgers' No. 1 priority heading into the offseason. Getting him locked up and happy is vital for the team's future success.

Why did Kershaw perform so poorly in Game 6? It could have been fatigue -- he threw a career-high 236 innings in 2013. Add an additional 23 in the postseason, and he's at nearly 260 innings. That's a lot for any player these days, let alone a 25-year-old.

In no way am I blaming the Dodgers. I'd give the ball to Kershaw as many times as humanly possible. I'm just trying to figure out why he was so bad when the Dodgers needed him most.

He wasn't locating his pitches well. He threw a ton of hanging breaking balls -- pitches that had been so good in his first three playoff outings.

But, that happens sometimes. It's baseball. The Cardinals are a good team, but the Dodger pitching neutralized them for five consecutive games -- the bats just didn't show up. With Hanley Ramirez hurting, it was going to be hard to win the NLCS, let alone the World Series in 2013.

The Dodgers have already made their first offseason move, signing 26-year-old Cuban Alexander Guerrero on Monday to be their second baseman. It won't be the last transaction the Dodgers make this winter. But I'm hoping their next is locking up Kershaw for nearly the next decade.

Photo credit: SD Dirk, Flickr

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Don Mattingly correct to want contract extension from Dodgers' ownership

The end of the season press conference doesn't usually provide so much drama and intrigue, but that's exactly what happened at Dodger Stadium on Monday. The main topic of conversation from the conference was Dodgers' manager (for now) Don Mattingly.

Side note: Check out that great photo in the link above. A picture really can say a thousand words.

Mattingly told reporters his option for 2014 vested when the team beat the Braves in the National League Division Series. However, he added this nugget.
"That doesn’t mean I’ll be back."
Well then. Mattingly went onto talk about the conditions under which he managed the 2013 season. If one reads between the lines, it's clear Mattingly doesn't want to be a lame duck manager -- and he has every right to feel that way.

Mattingly's contract situation was seemingly an issue ever since spring training. With new ownership coming in for its first full season, Mattingly could have easily been let go following the 2012 season. And he was almost let go in June, but the Dodgers went on their ridiculous streak to save his job (for now).

Mattingly is making this play because there are a number of managerial openings around baseball, including gigs in Detroit and Washington. Both need managers and are playoff-caliber teams. In fact, a report in May said the Nationals could be a logical landing spot if he were to be fired.

This could be a ploy to get the Dodgers to call his, for all intents and purposes, bluff. The ownership won't be afraid to let him go, but Mattingly had no other play here.

The fact is, he's going to have a job somewhere. I'm thinking he'll remain in Los Angeles, but the presser didn't exactly inspire full confidence in that.

If Mattingly doesn't return, let's just hope Dodger ownership wants to go in another direction -- a modern direction. That means no Dusty Baker or Tony LaRussa.

The best candidate for the job would be Tampa Bay Rays' manager Joe Maddon. Unfortunately, he's signed through 2015 at a modest $2 million per season. The Dodgers could work a deal with the Rays, but manager-for-player trades don't happen too often.

Another candidate would be Manny Acta, who is jobless at the moment. He's definitely a forward-thinking baseball mind, as evidence by this Q&A from FanGraphs in May 2012. He talks a lot about the offense, but this might be the best quote:
"'I’m not big on bunting guys from first to second. I don’t think it’s a secret, because the facts are out there. It’s been proven that a guy has a better chance of scoring from first with no outs than from second with one out. I have to have way too much of an advantage late in the game, bullpen-wise and great hitters lined up, to do that. At first and second with no outs, I usually only do it with the bottom of the order, or maybe the top guy in the order, depending on how he’s swinging the bat. It guarantees me a runner on third with less than two out and another runner in scoring position. But I probably won’t if we need multiple runs. If it’s the heart of my order, it won’t happen.'"
Man, it'd be refreshing to have a guy like that leading this team. At the same time, the players have to buy into the manager's philosophy.

It's no secret the Dodger players love playing for Mattingly. He's definitely a player's manager, and reports state in 2013, the clubhouse was as loose as it has been in many years. When I was in there for one game, it was definitely a fun environment in which all the guys seemed to get along. A lot of that can be attributed to winning, but some of the credit must go to Mattingly for that.

Mattingly was able to get the most out of Hanley Ramirez since his 2009 days in Florida, when he was one of baseball's best players. Now, he's without a doubt one of the league's best hitters.

The decision ultimately is Stan Kasten's. Ned Colletti hired Mattingly before the Guggeneim group, Kasten and Magic Johnson took over. It really isn't his decision. The ownership, despite extending him last year, could very well jettison him as well -- but it doesn't seem like Kasten wants to do that.

But Kasten and Co. did get rid of Trey Hillman on Tuesday. Hillman was the Dodgers' bench coach and was hired by Mattingly. What's more, Mattingly wasn't informed of the decision. With this news just breaking, the odds Mattingly returns just got significantly worse.

Mattingly isn't a bad guy by any means. He just wants to feel, well, wanted by the club. By the club not offering a contract extension following a 92-win season and coming up two wins short of reaching the World Series for the first time in 25 years, it isn't showing confidence in him. Mattingly rolled with the situation, and now he wants to be rewarded.

Yes, he still bunts far too often and sometimes his in-game management can be questioned, but he's still the best man for the job -- for now.

Photo credit: BryanKemp, Flickr

Monday, October 21, 2013

After a few months, the Dodgers finally sign Alexander Guerrero to 4-year deal

For the third time since July, it appears the Dodgers have signed Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero.

Jesse Sanchez of reported it's a 4-year, $28 million deal that could be worth as much as $32 million. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports corroborated the report, adding Guerrero will get a $10 million signing bonus.

Original reports had the deal at 7 years and $32 million. Then the next report had it at 5 years, $32 million. this deal is much more paletable and better for all involved.

Guerrero, 26, will make his MLB debut in his age-27 season. There's no guarantee Guerrero will be good enough to justify a 7-year commitment, so a 4-year deal seems just right.

Guerrero played shortstop in Cuba, but almost everyone believes he'll be a second baseman in the majors. The Dodgers have a gaping hole at the position, so it makes sense.

This spells the end of the Mark Ellis era as the Dodgers' starting second baseman and likely takes the Dodgers out of the bidding for Yankees' free agent to be Robinson Cano.

With this kind of contract and a full winter, I'd be shocked if Guerrero isn't the Dodgers' starting second baseman for both opening days in 2014.

Here's some video of the Dodgers' new second baseman.

This is just the first of what I expect to be many and potentially impactful offseason moves for the Dodgers. After falling short in the NLCS, they need to get stronger at a couple positions and have some quality depth. That depth was tested this season, and it wasn't that great.

I'm just glad the Guerrero saga is over. Now, when is Masahiro Tanaka getting posted...?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Dodgers-Cardinals NLCS Game 6: Clayton Kershaw's time to shine

This is it. This is Clayton Kershaw’s most important start of his career, and it couldn’t come at a better time for the Dodgers.

The Dodgers took two-of-three from the Cardinals in Los Angeles, but because they failed to steal one of the first two games of the National League Championship Series, Kershaw is next on the list of pitchers to help the Dodgers stave off elimination.

Kershaw threw six brilliant innings in St. Louis on Saturday (6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 72 pitches) only to be lifted for a pinch-hitter in the top of the 7th inning because Nick Punto had gotten on base with two outs. With the Dodgers trailing 1-0 at the time (and ultimately the final score), it was the right move.

This is unlike Kershaw’s first start of this postseason, when he threw 124 pitches in seven innings (and came back to throw 91 pitches in six innings on three days’ rest). This time, Kershaw comes back on full rest after having thrown just 72 pitches.

This is it, Clayton. This is your time to shine.

Well, Kershaw’s been shining brightly ever since the Dodgers drafted him, so it’s to be expected. The Dodgers will get a great performance out of him, and he will give the Dodgers the best chance to win.

If the offense can get him a few runs, they’ll be golden. Kershaw is 55-0 with four or more runs of support in his career. This season, he got 3.79 runs per game of support -- good for 57th-best in the majors. The game’s best pitcher got the 57th-best run support. That’s baseball for ya.

If guys like Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and even A.J. Ellis can stay hot, the Dodgers just might have a chance to pull this series out.

But first, they have to win Game 6. Obviously, it’d be better if the Dodgers were up in the series, but if they have to be down, I want no other pitcher on the mound than the next Sandy Koufax.

Make it happen, Clayton.

Photo credit: TBS screencap

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dodgers designate Alex Castellanos for assignment, claim OF Mike Baxter

Alex Castellanos, the player acquired from the Cardinals for Rafael Furcal in 2011, was designated for assignment on Thursday by the Dodgers in favor of Mike Baxter.

The Dodgers claimed Baxter, 28, off waivers from the Mets. This is an all-important roster move in October.

No it isn't.

While I think Castellanos should get a chance to be a fourth- or (more likely) a fifth-outfielder in the majors, it won't come with the Dodgers. Castellanos has produced in Triple-A, but he's played in one of the most hitter-friendly environments around, so take those numbers with a grain of salt.

Castellanos, 27, is an all-bat player with a really good arm. He was unsuccessful in trying to play second- and third base for the Albuquerque Isotopes in 2012 and 2013. He got his feet wet in the majors, going 7-for-41 (.171) with a couple home runs and 13 strikeouts. If he isn't hitting, he's a career minor-leaguer. That's probably the safest bet at this rate.

His minor-league numbers have yet to come close to translating to the majors due to lack of opportunity and, more likely, a lack of overall skill. Despite that, I'd be surprised if another team doesn't pick him up.

Baxter isn't much of a player, posting a .229/.335/.348 triple slash in 415 plate appearances spread over four seasons. He actually made his Major League debut against the Dodgers in 2010 with the Padres. He was San Diego's fourth-round draft pick in 2005.

I'd be surprised if Baxter is still on the 40-man roster come February or March. Then again, I thought Matt Angle would have been gone long before he actually was, so Baxter has a better chance of sticking than it may seem.

He's really not any better than, say, Nick Buss right now, whom the Dodgers already have. This is probably just a procedural move because Castellanos was likely to be outrighted this winter anyway.

So, there's the roster update. Now about the Game 6 in St. Louis... more on that tomorrow.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Friday, October 11, 2013

2013 NLCS by the numbers: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. St. Louis Cardinals

2013 National League Championship Series
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Oct. 11-19

Location: Busch Stadium, St. Louis (Games 1-2, 6-7 if necessary); Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles (Games 3-5 if necessary)
2013 record vs. Cardinals: 4-3
Last postseason meeting: 2009, Dodgers won 3-0

*- Denotes not on NLCS roster

Game 1Zack Greinke vs. Joe Kelly
Greinke career vs. Cardinals: 8-3, 3.10 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 7.5 K/9
Kelly career vs. Dodgers: 1-1, 3.72 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 4.7 K/9

NLDS numbers
Greinke: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
Kelly: 5 1/3 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 5 K

Cardinals hitters vs. Greinke
Matt Holliday: 9-for-26 (.346), 2 HR, 2 BB, 2 K
Yadier Molina: 7-for-22 (.318), 2 2B, 1 BB, 2 K
Jon Jay: 6-for-22 (.273), 1 BB, 2 K
David Freese: 6-for-18 (.333), 1 HR, 1 2B, 2 BB, 3 K
Daniel Descalso: 2-for-11 (.182), 1 2B, 2 K
Matt Carpenter: 3-for-7 (.429), 1 2B, 1 K
Carlos Beltran: 1-for-7 (.143), 1 2B, 2 BB, 2 K
Tony Cruz: 1-for-3
Adam Wainwright: 0-for-3, 1 SH, 2 K
Adron Chambers: 1-for-2, 1 BB, 1 K
- Holliday is always a dangerous hitter while it's probably best to throw out regular season numbers when talking about Beltran and his Babe Ruthian performance in October.

Dodgers hitters vs. Kelly
Andre Ethier: 2-for-8 (.250), 1 HR, 1 2B, 1 K
A.J. Ellis: 1-for-8 (.125), 4 K
Adrian Gonzalez: 4-for-7 (.571), 1 HR, 1 2B
Hanley Ramirez: 2-for-7 (.286), 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K
Mark Ellis: 0-for-7
Nick Punto: 4-for-5 (.800), 1 2B, 1 BB
Carl Crawford: 2-for-3, 1 2B
Yasiel Puig: 1-for-2, 1 BB
Dee Gordon: 1-for-2, 1 K
Clayton Kershaw: 0-for-2, 1 K
Juan Uribe: 0-for-2
Chris Capuano*: 0-for-1
Scott Van Slyke: 0-for-1
- Gonzalez is the butter and egg man here, with Ethier chipping in a home run. Kelly has struck out 10 Dodgers in his career -- four times it's been A.J. Ellis taking the fall.

Game 2Clayton Kershaw vs. Michael Wacha
Kershaw career vs. Cardinals: 4-5, 3.75 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 8.2 K/9
Wacha career vs. Dodgers: Never faced

NLDS numbers
Kershaw: 13 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 13 K
Wacha: 7 1/3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 HR, 2 BB, 9 K

Cardinals hitters vs. Kershaw
Holliday: 9-for-30 (.300), 1 2B, 10 BB, 7 K
Beltran: 5-for-22 (.227), 2 2B, 2 BB, 8 K
Molina: 5-for-19 (.263), 2 2B, 3 BB, 4 K
Freese: 3-for-15 (.200), 1 2B, 2 BB, 2 K
Carpenter: 2-for-12 (.167), 2 K
Jay: 1-for-6 (.167), 1 2B, 1 BB, 3 K
Pete Kozma: 4-for-5 (.800), 3 2B
Wainwright: 2-for-4 (.500), 1 2B, 1 SH 2 BB, 1 K
Descalso: 2-for-4 (.500), 2 BB
Cruz: 1-for-3
Shane Robinson: 1-for-3
Kelly: 0-for-2
Shelby Miller: 0-for-2, 1 K
- Holliday has a positive K:BB rate and, of course, Kozma has hit him the best because baseball.

Dodgers hitters vs. Wacha
Never faced
- All you need to know is Wacha has almost thrown two no-hitters in the last month. He's damn good.

Game 3Adam Wainwright vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu
Wainwright career vs. Dodgers: 4-4, 3.10 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 6.2 K/9
Ryu career vs. Cardinals: 1-0, 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K

NLDS numbers
Wainwright: 16 IP, 11 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 HR, 1 BB, 15 K
Ryu: 3 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K

Dodgers hitters vs. Wainwright
Ethier: 9-for-30 (.300), 2 HR, 3 2B, 3 BB, 7 K
Ramirez: 5-for-24 (.208), 3 BB, 5 K
Gonzalez: 4-for-16 (.250), 1 2B, 2 BB, 6 K
Mark Ellis: 1-for-12 (.083), 2 K
Uribe: 3-for-11 (.273), 2 K
Crawford: 2-for-7 (.286), 1 K
Kershaw: 0-for-5, 1 SH, 1 K
A.J. Ellis: 0-for-5, 1 K
Greinke: 1-for-4, 1 SH, 2 K
Puig: 1-for-3, 2 K
Michael Young: 0-for-3
Punto: 1-for-2, 1 2B, 1 BB
Ricky Nolasco: 0-for-1
- If Ethier is good to go, it'll be an nice boost. Not a whole lot of success otherwise.

Cardinals hitters vs. Ryu
Freese: 2-for-3, 1 K
Holliday: 2-for-3
Carpenter: 1-for-3, 1 K
Beltran: 0-for-3
Jay: 0-for-3
Kozma: 0-for-2, 1 K
Seth Maness: 0-for-1, 1 K
Carlos Martinez: 0-for-1, 1 K
- Ryu gave up one unearned run in seven innings, so it's easy to see why there hasn't been a lot of success by the Cardinals against the southpaw.

Game 3Lance Lynn vs. Ricky Nolasco
Lynn career vs. Dodgers: 2-0, 2.50 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 10.5 K/9
Nolasco career vs. Cardinals: 3-4, 3.84 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 6.3 K/9

NLDS numbers
Lynn: 4 1/3 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 HR, 3 BB, 6 K
Nolasco: Did not pitch

Dodgers hitters vs. Lynn
Mark Ellis: 2-for-9 (.222), 3 K
A.J. Ellis: 1-for-7 (.143), 4 K
Ethier: 1-for-6 (.167), 2 BB
Young: 0-for-5, 1 BB, 4 K
Gordon: 0-for-5, 1 K
Gonzalez: 1-for-4, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K
Ramirez: 0-for-3, 2 K
Uribe: 1-for-2, 1 2B, 1 BB
Punto: 0-for-2, 1 K
- Lynn has been downright dominant against the Dodgers in his two career appearances.

Cardinals hitters vs. Ryu
Beltran: 16-for-47 (.340), 1 HR, 6 BB, 11 K
Holliday: 12-for-26 (.462), 2 HR, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 BB, 2 K
Jay: 7-for-13 (.538), 1 2B, 1 K
Desclaso: 4-for-13 (.308), 1 2B, 1 BB, 2 K
Freese: 6-for-12 (.500), 1 2B, 3 K
Molina: 3-for-11, 1 K
Cruz: 0-for-10, 2 K
Carpenter: 1-for-5, 1 K
Matt Adams: 0-for-5, 3 K
Wainwright: 0-for-2, 1 SH, 1 K
- Yikes, the Cards absolutely destroy Nolasco, though, his career numbers against them aren't that terrible.

This is going to be a long series, and the pitching options could change as the series progresses. These teams are evenly matched, with the Dodgers having the advantage of setting up their pitchers the way they want.

The offense is going to have to continue what it has done in the postseason thus far.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Cardinals struggle against LHP, so Dodgers naturally remove two for NLCS

There's a reason managers do the things they do, but I'm really struggling to figure out what Don Mattingly is thinking with his National League Championship roster.

The offense remains the same and all but two pitchers remain the same. The Dodgers removed Chris Capuano and Paco Rodriguez in favor of Carlos Marmol and Edinson Volquez.

You read that correctly. The Dodgers willing chose to put two right-handed pitchers on the roster, while they removed two lefties.

The Cardinals struggled against left-handed pitching this season to the tune of .238/.301/.371 this season. That's the entire time. Even their right-handed hitters have struggled against lefties.

Capuano likely wouldn't have started a game, but he was still a legitimate option to throw out of the bullpen. He owns 7.90 career ERA at (new) Busch Stadium, but most of that came as a starter and against the Albert Pujols-led Cardinals. Unless there's an undisclosed injury, this move doesn't make any sense.

Removing Rodriguez makes some sense. He was awful in September and wasn't great in the National League Division Series. Still, if he were to find his breaking ball, he'd be hell on the Cardinals' lefties. Instead, the only left-handed reliever guys like Matt Adams, Matt Carpenter, Jon Jay and even Carlos Beltran have to worry about is J.P. Howell. Here's hoping he's up to the task. He held lefties to a .164 batting average and a 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio this season, which is great.

I'm not even terribly upset at the pitchers the Dodgers added. Both are volatile, but Volquez in for Capuano is a must because a long-reliever is necessary. Marmol, surprisingly, has solid career numbers against the Cardinals (3.08 ERA in Busch, 2.95 overall).

I hope Mattingly's news conference later today sheds light on his decision. If it's a physical issue for one or both lefties, then it makes sense. If it's almost anything else, well, let's just hope it's a physical thing (which sounds weird to say).

Maybe Mattingly thinks the offense will out-slug the Cardinal offense. I'd be inclined to agree if there were more lefties on the roster. I just hope Mattingly isn't overthinking things.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 59 - NLDS review, NLCS preview, Price

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (Dodger Diamond) and rejoice in the Dodgers' NLDS victory over the Atlanta Braves. We give a thorough review of the series.

Then, we talk about the Dodgers' next opponent in the NLCS -- the St. Louis Cardinals. It's going to be a long, good series between the two best teams in the National League.

Andre Ethier could be fully back for this series, which gives the Dodgers' lineup more depth. Hanley Ramirez continues to mash and Juan Uribe is just the best.

David Price rumors are already floating, and many have the Dodgers linked to the former Cy Young award winner. While it's too soon to look toward the offseason, a Clayton Kershaw-Zack Greinke-Price trio wouldn't be half-bad, no? But I wouldn't give up both Corey Seager and Julio Urias to get him, though.

The Arizona Fall League started on Tuesday, and Seager had a solid debut. There isn't a lot of high-end talent there from the Dodgers, but Seager is the guy to keep an eye on.
Episode dedications
Jared: Kelly Wunsch
Dustin: Ismael Valdez (honorable mention to Guillermo Mota)
Then, we close with Q&A, which were, unfortunately, lacking. Step it up next episode, folks.

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

Andre Ethier's impending return could be big boost for Dodgers in NLCS

The Dodgers showed some surprisingly good offensive output against the National League’s best pitching staff in the first round of the playoffs. The team could get even stronger with the return of Andre Ethier.

Ethier, who’s suffering from an ankle sprain, made three pinch-hit appearances in the National League Division Series. He went 0-for-3 with a walk (that came against Craig Kimbrel in Game 2).

Skip Schumaker filled in well enough defensively, but didn’t hit much in the NLDS -- as expected.

With Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez, Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez and Juan Uribe effectively carrying the offense, Ethier’s addition to that quintet almost seems unfair -- but the Dodgers are going to need him against a tough St. Louis Cardinals’ rotation.

All accounts say Ethier is progressing from the injury and could be in the starting lineup on Friday. The biggest concern is making sure he’s as close to 100 percent as possible, because Ethier hits well against the Cardinals for his career.

Ethier career vs. Cardinals
Home: 29 G, .351/.415/.559, 3 HR, 12 2B, 10 BB
Away: 27 G, .231/.320/.380, 1 HR, 9 2B, 14 BB
Total: 56 G, .292/.367/.470, 4 HR, 21 2B, 24 BB

Against current Cardinal pitchers, he’s hitting .250/.333/.563 with seven home runs.

To add his bat to the already hot offense the Dodgers boast could be the difference in the series. Ethier’s return to the starting lineup puts Schumaker on the bench and likely means the end of Dee Gordon’s playoff utility. The Dodgers will almost certainly add another pitcher for the National League Championship Series, and Gordon will be the roster casualty. It’s not clear who gets the nod, but my money is on Edinson Volquez.

With Hyun-Jin Ryu having a shaky outing in Game 3 of the NLDS and Ricky Nolasco having not thrown in a professional game since Sept. 29, the Dodgers might need another pitcher capable of throwing multiple innings. If not Volquez, it could be Carlos Marmol or Stephen Fife (both extremely unlikely).

But Ethier coming back is only a good thing for the Dodgers. The Cardinals have an all-righty rotation, so Ethier -- in close games -- will get at least two at-bats against per game against them. The Cards have old friend Randy Choate and Kevin Siegrist to come out of the bullpen who have lots of career success against Ethier (combined: 1-for-12, 3 K).

At worst, I’d say Ethier is back in center field for Game 3 at Dodger Stadium. If so, then that will be a huge boost against Adam Wainwright, whom Ethier hits well (36 PA, .303/.361/.667, 3 HR, 3 2B, 3 BB). I'd either bat him second or fifth in the lineup, with Yasiel Puig occupying the other spot.

Everything is setting up quite well for the Dodgers. If Ethier comes back and is effective, it’s hard to see the Dodgers losing this series.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin’ Kinda Blue

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Yasiel Puig named best Southern League prospect by Baseball America

In news that should surprise absolutely no one, Yasiel Puig on Tuesday topped the Top 20 Southern League prospects list published by Baseball America.

While Puig isn't a prospect anymore, he had enough plate appearances to qualify for the end-of-the-season list.

Puig hit .313/.383/.599 with eight home runs and 37 RBI in 40 games with the Chattanooga Lookouts this season. The 22-year-old was hard to evaluate after an abbreviated 2012 debut season, but he's proved to be more than worth the $42 million contract he signed with the Dodgers.

The Dodgers promoted Puig to the majors in early June and he never looked back. He hit .319./.391/.534 with 19 home runs and 42 RBI in the majors.

Joc Pederson also made the list, checking in at No. 7 behind Puig, Archie Bradley, Javier Baez, Taijuan Walker, Christian Yelich and Alex Wood.

Pederson got off to a fast start, especially in the power department. But with little-to-no offensive help after Puig left, his numbers declined a little bit. But he still managed to hit .278/.381/.497 with 22 home runs and 31 stolen bases (in 39 attempts).

It was an impressive showing from a 21-year-old in a neutral league with some of the game's best prospects.

Zach Lee was No. 15 on the list after posting the best season of his young career: 10-10, 3.22 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and a 8.3 K/9. The biggest knock against Lee is that he has an average fastball and no true strikeout pitch. Despite that, he was able to post a career-best strikeouts per nine rate while reducing his walk rate to the lowest of his career.

It's really curious why Lee doesn't get more publicity or acclaim. He's not the sexiest prospect, but his low floor has a lot of value in this game. And he posted his best season as a 21-year-old in a league where the average age is 22-23 years old.

The only other prospects who were probably considered for the list were Onelki Garcia and Ross Stripling.

With Garcia throwing mostly out of the bullpen, that probably doomed his chances.

Stripling is a lot like Lee in terms of repertoire, polish and physical frame. I'm a lot higher on Stripling than most, so it isn't a great surprise he didn't make the list.

What's funny is: the best minor-league talent was at Chattanooga this season, yet the team was never really in the playoff hunt. But, that's baseball for ya.

The Pacific Coast League Top 20 is up Friday. I'd be surprised if any Dodger prospects ended up on the list. The only guy I could see making it are Matt Magill, and that doesn't seem too likely at this point.

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Juan Uribe is the best, Yasiel Puig shows maturity, Dodgers head to NLCS

So, that was a pretty good game, no? I had a chance to be there, but just couldn’t make it work, logistically. Man, am I regretting that.

But, all that matters is the Dodgers won and are on their way to the National League Championship Series.

It started around 12 p.m. on Wednesday, when the Dodgers announced Clayton Kershaw would start on three day’s rest. He responded by throwing six innings, allowing three hits, two unearned runs, one walk while striking out six. The history of pitchers going on short rest wasn’t good, but Kershaw isn’t one to fall prey to history.

Carl Crawford got it started early with a leadoff home run. Then he hit another one in the third inning. Some possibly smart and handsome person pegged him as an "X-Factor" of sorts prior to the playoffs.

Last night’s game was great. The Dodgers’ defense wasn’t, but the rest of the game was. Two of the Braves’ three runs came in the fourth inning when two of their most sure-handed defenders made errors. Technically, Adrian Gonzalez got both of the errors, but the throw Mark Ellis made on a surefire double play ball was bad. But, you can’t assume a double play -- for some reason.

The Dodgers, down 3-2, had Yasiel Puig up in the eighth. You know, that guy who was supposed to cost the Dodgers some games in the playoffs? Well, not only did he help win the series for the Dodgers, he showed a maturity that was previously unseen.

Instead of trying to tie the game up himself off flamethrower David Carpenter, Puig did what a great hitter does: he took what the pitcher gave him and doubled to the right field corner. That set up the eventual game-winning home run by everyone’s favorite Dodger Juan Uribe.

I’ve been difficult on Uribe in the past. It was hard not to be after he got a ridiculous contract after not doing a whole lot in San Francisco (no matter what Giants’ fans say). He somehow survived the winter by not getting designated for assignment, began the season behind Luis Cruz on the third base depth chart (which looks absolutely ridiculous now) only to take it back with elite defense, better plate discipline and timely hitting.

A few months ago, I softened my stance on Uribe and warmed up to the reality he was a solid third baseman for this club.

Well, he might have hit the biggest home run of the season for the Dodgers -- and it was a no-doubter (Jazz Hands!). This after Don Mattingly called for the bunt on the first two pitches of Uribe’s at-bat.

Kenley Jansen came in and slammed the door shut by striking out the side.

The Dodgers are NLCS-bound, and they’ll face either the Cardinals or the Pirates. The deciding Game 5 (in St. Louis) is Wednesday night.

The Dodgers match up favorably against both teams. Playing St. Louis means playing a playoff-tested team that is sound in every facet of the game. However, their left-handed hitters could be neutralized by the Dodgers’ left-handed pitching. Playing Pittsburgh means playing a young and hungry team with some underrated pitching. However, the Dodgers would have home-field advantage over the Pirates, meaning Zack Greinke and Kershaw would start Games 1 and 2 in Dodger Stadium.

Gerrit Cole faces Adam Wainwright. No matter what happens, both pitchers likely won’t be available until Game 3 of the NLCS, which is an advantage for the Dodgers.

The NLCS starts Friday. This feels different than 2008 and 2009. This feels like something special is about to happen. Stay tuned.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin’ Kinda Blue

Monday, October 7, 2013

How Hyun-Jin Ryu can improve his effectiveness against left-handed hitters

Hyun-Jin Ryu’s start in Game 3 of the National League Division Series wasn’t a complete and total failure, and he was lucky the offense (and Chris Capuano) bailed him out. But a weakness of his was exploited last night.

Ryu, somewhat surprisingly, struggles against left-handed hitters. Here are his platoon splits for his first big league season:

vs. LHP
.270/.322/.416, 5 HR, 2.64 K/BB

vs. RHP
.245/.291/.342, 10 HR, 3.34 K/BB

Ryu thrives because of his plus changeup. The pitch allows him to have better success against right-handed hitters. In the regular season, he threw it 22.3 percent of the time. It was his go-to off-speed offering. In Game 3, he threw it 26.5 percent of the time against a Braves’ lineup that featured tough lefties Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward and Brian McCann. Fortunately for Ryu, those five combined to go 1-for-5 with a walk and RBI. Ryu was actually hurt more by Justin Upton and Evan Gattis during his 3-inning outing. He also only threw two of his 18 changeups to lefties on Sunday.

While his changeup is a plus offering against righties, it could also be a plus offering against lefties, if he’s willing to throw it.

Many years ago, I was watching Tom Glavine pitch, and the broadcasters noted that Glavine started throwing his changeup to left-handed hitters. Glavine has one of the best changeups of all-time, and he didn’t have a particularly great breaking ball. Despite that, he had a Hall of Fame career. Johan Santana, while having a better breaker than Glavine, also thrived by using his changeup.

Ryu’s changeup usage against LHH

Ryu began his career barely throwing changeups to lefties. His slider and -- less often -- his curveball, were weapons against lefties.

Then August rolls around and Ryu gets frisky by throwing his changeup to lefties 14.2 percent of the time for the month. Ryu, coincidentally or not, posted his second-best monthly ERA in August at 2.61 (2.38 in May). Despite giving up more hits (40) than innings pitched (38) that month, he also only walked four hitters the entire month.

Lefties hit .133/.235/.333 with a .091 batting average on balls in play against Ryu’s changeup this season. Granted, it was just 15 at-bats, but perhaps it’d be a bigger weapon against them if he decided to throw it more. For comparison’s sake, lefties hit .337/.385/.505 with an abnormally high .369 BABIP against his fastball. His slider against lefties, which wasn’t great in Game 3, was a .196/.237/.250 offering against lefties.

Ryu got lefties to swing at his changeup 68.1 percent of the time -- by far the most of any pitch he threw against lefties. He also allowed the most foul balls on the pitch (31.9 percent), got the most ground balls (17 percent) and the second-most whiffs, as in swings-and-misses, not strikeouts (12.8 percent).

So, for Ryu to get better against left-handed pitching (and it isn’t like he was terrible against them), perhaps his changeup is the answer. He only threw it to left-handed hitters 5.6 percent of the time in his rookie season.

It's worth a shot, especially if his average slider and below-average curveball aren't working for him.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue