Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Not Many Of Us Are Happy With the Trade Today

I have been reading what many bloggers have been saying about the last minute trade deadline moves by Colletti.  I see that they are overwhelmingly against the Robinson deal.  Trayvon Robinson was coming in to his own and seemed to be a perfect fit for next season’s starting outfield.  Now, with the acquisition of a catcher and two pitchers (one starter and one reliever), the Dodgers appear to have swapped quantity for quality.  
This all looks to me like an opportunity lost.  As admitted sellers at the deadline, Colleti swapped one of his promising youth pieces for questionable prospects.  Meanwhile Kuroda, Carroll, Miles, Gwynn, Uribe, Kuo, and Lilly remain on the roster.  This is another disappointing punch to the gut that reminds me of how I felt when Lambo and McDonald were moved to Pittsburgh in exchange for Octavio Dotel.   
I hope that Federowicz, Fife and Rodriguez all outperform what the pundits say about them, but I have to be honest.  I had never heard of any of them and most bloggers that follow the minors hadn’t heard of them either.  None of the three were ranked in the top 20 prospects out of the BoSox system.

Newly acquired cather, Tim Federowicz, an above average defensive catcher projected by the baseball scouts to be a backup in the major leagues

Starter Stephen Fife will be sent to AA Chatanooga to continue his minor league career.  Scouting reports say he needs to develop his secondary stuff to become a legitimate major league prospect.

22 year old reliever Juan Rodriguez has a high ceiling  and is viewed as possible closer material.  He reports to Low A Great Lakes.

So at present, the Dodgers have Dee Gordon back playing shortstop, but Trayvon Robinson won’t be coming to L.A. for a September call up.  Colletti states that it is much easier to acquire a left fielder in the free agent market than a catcher, but Federowicz is questionable offensively.  Fife is a potential number 4 or 5 starter, but no better than a John Ely that is already in the system.  22-year old Rodriguez throws smoke and has a high ceiling, but he’s a ways away from being major league ready.
Oh well, at least we get to watch Kershaw tomorrow night in San Diego going for his 13th win.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Will They Just PLEEEEEEESE Go Away?

The off day is dominated by Dodger divorce news, something that we are all sick of.  And just when you think that it’s not possible to dislike both Frank and Jamie McCourt any more, they come through with more shenanigans that prove you wrong again.  The events that unfurl as time goes on in this case just make you shake your head.
I have no sympathy for either one.  Having experienced a divorce many years ago and being a person that recognizes that divorce brings out the worst in people, the McCourts have taken that “worst” to a new level.  I understand the emotions that come into play but come on.  How much of this do they want to continue to air in public?  They are embarrassing themselves and they are embarrassing the Dodgers.  Loyal Dodger fans don’t deserve this.
As far as I’m concerned, owning seven houses is five houses too many for a couple that is divorcing.  The bulk of Jamie McCourts support payments are used to pay the mortgages on these properties ($400K of the $600K she receives).  Time to liquidate Jamie.  And if $200K/month isn’t enough to live on, then she has some serious issues. Frank isn’t far behind, frivolously paying $40 grand a month to live in a hotel is asinine when you are declaring bankruptcy.  There are apartments, and luxury ones at that, to be rented for a tenth of that price.  Heck for what he has paid for his hotel the past  8 months, he could have bought a comfy residence to live in.  (Probably not comfortable enough for his taste, but 99.9% of the population would be fine with it).
The fact that Jamie McCourt is attempting to line up investors to purchase the team is proof that these people don’t understand that fans are largely staying away because of them.    Yes, the team performance has something to do with it, but there is no way either one of these two can save face and recover what they had.  Their reputation is tarnished to the point of no return.  They are probably the most despised people in Los Angeles.  They can’t possibly think that they will ever be able to remain in L.A.  If they do, they are completely blind to reality.   

And think about this, with her history, does Jamie McCourt seriously think that she would receive approval from the other MLB owners  if she were to put an investment group together to buy the team?  Additionally, what investor would seriously want to align themselves with her?
ESPN radio host Colin Cowherd
Back to baseball:
Orel Hershiser on Colin Cowherd’s ESPN radio show this morning:
Cowherd:  Is there an arm out there on a bad team that if you are, say the Yankees, you really want?
Hershiser:  I like Kuroda.  I’ve always kind of liked Kuroda.  I’ve always thought that his stuff really could play up in a big game.  Like you say, you’re either gonna win or lose big games and that’s the kind of guy that can really play up in a big game.  His split, the way he goes about his business.  I don’t think pressure really gets him.  I think it has been mainly health.  When he’s healthy, I think he can really perform at a high level.
Cowherd:  You know I was in L.A. about two or three years ago for opening day and I think he was the starter.  And it was funny, my buddy Tim in L.A., is a huge Dodger fan, and he said “I just keep waiting for this guy to win 18 games.”  Well for Joe Torre, to name him as the (opening day) starter a couple of years ago, he has to have something.

Hershiser lauds Kuroda as the pitcher that contending clubs should be targeting
Hershiser:  The thing I think he doesn’t do so well is that he doesn’t change eye levels.  He’s so dominant when he gets locked in, both with his fastball and his split.  He can really command the strike zone, but every once in a while he’s got to be affectively wild.  He’s so precise when he’s on, and he gets locked in.  And I think that the hitters just kind of know, that this is the area, even though he’s dominant stuff.  They know that this is the area he’s going to be.  If he could be a little more intimidating at times.  That might put him over the top in those kind of games.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Stults Available / Some Tweeting Rumors / James McDonald Surfaces

Yesterday the Rockies designated lefthander Eric Stults for assignment.  I say pick him up on the cheap.  Rubby De La Rosa is approaching a career highs in innings pitched this season and was stretched to 113 pitches by Mattingly in last night’s win.  I question why the Dodgers are risking injury to him in this meaningless string of games as they close out the last two months of this season.  Put Stults out there every 5th day.  Who knows, maybe he’ll toss another shutout.

I always liked Stults and thought he wasn’t given a fair shake.  He could be very serviceable as a number 5 starter, especially in pitcher friendly Dodger Stadium. Stults is never going to overpower anyone, but he has shown that he can pitch effectively to contact, evidenced by his two shutouts in ‘08 and ‘09.  He also pitched well down the stretch in key September games during some pennant races.
Call me nostaligic, sentimental, living in the past.  Whatever you will.  This move is a no-brainer.  What have they got to lose other than a roster spot?  Sign the man and put him in Albuquerque for a few starts and then bring him up to give De La Rosa some rest.
Jon Heyman tweets today that Ron Burkle would want total control of the Dodgers if purchases the team.  So it appears that he isn’t a part of the Garvey/Hershiser group as rumored.  Heyman is not specific as to his sources for this information, but since I have addressed this in a few posts in the past.  I thought it was worthy of mention.

Speaking of Heyman tweets, he also reports that the Tigers are very interested in Hiroki Kuroda but that the Dodger starter is rumored to not have the same interest to play in Detroit.
Whereever Octavio Dotel is, please don’t let Ned Colletti know.  Don’t look now, but James McDonald is pitching some quality baseball in Pittsburgh.

With a stat line of 7-4, 3.95, ERA , 94 K’s, 108 IP, in 20 starts this year, the first place Pirates have won seven of his last eight starts, including last night’s 3-1 win at St. Louis.  It is interesting to note that McDonald has mixed an effective slider into his repertoire of pitches and is striking out hitters at an alarming rate.  He’s still having issues keeping pitch counts down and going deep into games, but this is a guy that is starting to reach his potential.  I wonder what pitching coach Ray Searage was able to accomplish that Honeycutt couldn’t figure out.

Monday, July 25, 2011

How Come I Never Had the "Cool" Teachers?

When I was in elementary school, the World Series was a day game affair.  It wasn’t until 1971-or 1972 that MLB embraced prime time television hours for the fall classic.  If I remember correctly, Charlie Finley had something to do with that.  Finley was a real jerk when it came to dealing with people in general, and an eccentric one at that, but one thing he knew how to do was make money.  His prime time post season idea was pure genious from a money making standpoint.  But that’s another topic altogether.  In my early childhood years, the World Series games would start at 1:00 pm, that would be Eastern time, meaning that they would be played while we were in class at 10:00 am on the west coast.

Some of us would sneak in transistor radios with the wired earpiece.  I had this “Snoopy” radio, you know, the Peanuts character, that was a little to bulky for concealment purposes, but with the earpiece, attempts could be made to hear the game.  Additionally, there were other friends that brought in the much smaller, portable radios and we’d flash hand signs indicating to each other the score of games because for the life of me I can’t figure out how I was always assigned to the class of the non-cool teacher.  The one  that didn’t give a rip about the game.

Once again, through the magic of the internet, I found a photo of the exact same “Snoopy” radio that I toted off to class to listen to World Series games while in school. (note: the 1970 WS was probably too early for this radio.  I know for certain that I carried this radio through High School and heard the classic 1977 playoff comeback vs. the Phillies as I walked home from school with this radio) 

Then there was Mr. Salas’ class.

Mr. Salas was the coolest teacher on campus.  He coached all the after school teams.  That would be flag football and basketball.  He was a sports guy and during recess, if he was out there, you could talk sports with him all day.  In summer school, (something that my mother made us all attend), his classes were the best.  They would cover interesting topics like oceanography and sports/recreational activities.  His classes always had lots of field trips and he seemed to show a movie in there everyday.  I even remember him once during summer school showing us a World Series highlights film from years past.

Go figure that I never was lucky enough to have him assigned to me as a teacher.  I always got a female teacher that would discourage our sports fanaticism.  One even gave me detention once, making me write the interlocking LA on the chalk board 1000 times.  As if that was a punishment.  She is responsible for my perfect interlocking LA that I can draw blindfolded to perfection to this day.  (This was the result of having an argument with an Angels fan in class.  He had to write the interlocking CA on the board 1000 times.  Which in the end, I get the last laugh at because the CA logo is a useless obsolete insignia that serves no purpose today whatsoever.  HA!).

So on one glorious October morning after the morning recess, we lined up to enter our 4th grade classes, our concealed radios stuffed down our shirts or in our jacket pockets to attempt to take in the World Series game.  We look over at Mr. Salas’ class line and lo and behold, what is Salas doing?  He’s rolling out a television on the audio visual cart.  We knew what that meant.  They were gonna watch the game in Room 12 (Salas’ class).

You talk about envy.  We were going to be doing math and social studies and they were going to watch three hours of Cincinnati/Baltimore in the 1970 World Series.

When lunch time rolled around and the guys from Salas’ class didn’t appear for our lunch hour football or basketball game, we knew what that meant.  Salas was allowing them to eat their lunch in the class room and to continue watching the game.  I hated the guys in Room 12. 

Javy Guerra continues to impress.  The young rookie has ice water in his veins as he closes out his 7th consecutive save without a blown one to his credit.  Now with an ERA under 2.00, Guerra may be the most pleasant surprise of the 2011 season.  The 25 year old out of Denton, Texas has burst on to the scene and embraced the closer role, something that many seasoned veterans are unable to do.

The last three outs are always the toughest and Guerra doesn’t seem to be fazed by the pressure which is a unique feature for a rookie.  Perhaps that is because he hasn’t really faced extreme pressure with the club being out of the pennant race.  Frankly I think this is excellent training ground for the young right hander.   He’s facing Major league level competition, in the closers role without the nerves that would escalate in do or die situations of a pennant race.   It might be in Mattingly’s best interest to see how some other youngsters will handle these types of situations as well.
Well, it looks like Steve Dilbeck beat me to it on the Javy Guerra front.  Take a look at the L.A. Times Blog today that addresses Guerra’s emergence as the Dodger closer.

As the trade deadline creeps within 6 days, who gets moved?  Kuroda? Miles? Carroll? Furcal?  Where are the Dodgers greatest needs?  Will Kuroda land them a decent prospect or two?  It is a foregone conclusion that the Dodgers won’t be buyers.  Let’s hope that Colletti is able to pull the trigger on a deal or two that lands a future impact player, as he did in the Bradley/Perez-Ethier deal in his first month on the job.

Friday, July 22, 2011

LA's Loss is Visalia's Gain

When commissioner Bug Selig announced that he was assigning a conservatorship to move in and monitor the operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers back on May, I immediately wrote that he needed to assign Tom Seidler, Walter O’Malley’s grandson, to take the position.  I cited his background and his bloodlines.  I mentioned his experience working in minor league operations from the ground up.  I felt that his legacy and concern for the Dodgers would stand out above anybody else that would be an outsider, and that his skills and more importantly, his heart, would care about the future of the franchise.
I wrote Tom Seidler and more or less begged him to take accept such a position.  He answered quickly.  That very same day in fact.  He politely thanked me and said that he wished the Dodgers well, but he wasn’t interested in the job.  After meeting him yesterday, I believe him.  Here is a man that truly loves his present position as majority owner of the California League, Visalia Rawhide.  
Tom Seidler, majority owner and President/General Manager of the Visalia Rawhide, the Arizona Diamondbacks Single A affiliate in the California League.
(photo by Michael Robinson Chavez, Los Angeles Times)
“I really haven’t given it much thought,” he answered when asked if he’d ever like to eventually move up to the major league level.  “I am enjoying my time here and the chance I have to interact with this community.  This is a nice place to live.  One of the great hidden communities in California.”
Tom mentions the geographic location of Visalia, with a population of around 120,000.  Its a few miles away from a major highway, off of Highway 99 as you meander up the spine of California, about 40 miles south of Fresno.  “I’m working with the community, (he sits on the Board of Directors for the Visalia Chamber of Commerce), there is a lot of community support.   We get the players interacting with the businesses and with the local kids,” he says. 

Tom tells me that the Visalia Rawhide is affordable family entertainment at its finest, a reminder of what the Dodgers were under the O’Malley ownership.   And guess what? Free parking.  I pulled up to the ballpark and simply locked my car and headed in.
When was it that Tom realized that baseball administration was the career path he wanted to pursue?  I figured that he would answer that it was early on in his life, being the prodigy of Dodger royalty, but that wasn’t the case.  “I had a job working the booth at the Dodger Stadium parking lot when I was in High School, but I really wasn’t thinking of getting into the baseball business,” said Seidler.  “During my Junior year of college I took an intern job with the Dodgers in Great Falls, Montana,” he continued.  “That first day, I remember starting at 9:00 am and not leaving the ball park until 11:00 pm, and this was May, a month before the season started.  Working ten to fifteen hour days are the norm in this job.  There were three of us managing the operations: the General Manager, the Office Manger and me (the intern).  It was a great experience and Great Falls is a fantastic, supportive community.”
So the minor league operations was in Tom’s blood at an early age.  Twenty-two years later, he is still working in it.  Has minor league baseball changed much?  “It is very similar today as it was in 1989 when I started at Great Falls,” he answers.  “The differences are for the better, being that the stadiums are newer and renovated, which brings in more fans.  The fields are in better shape, and the lighting is better.  The travel is the same with the buses but the hotels are an improvement and the meal money for the players is a little better.  But the game is the same.”
Tom’s staff isn’t made up of a trio of people like there were in Montana.  When I arrived for our scheduled 2:00 pm interview, I was greeted by three people in the ticket office and then I was introduced to his media staff and met his broadcaster/historian Donny Baarns.  (Baarns, by the way is a true up and comer in the broadcast business, I listened to his broadcast later that evening and he has a smooth eloquent delivery).  “We have fourteen working in the front office and two in facilities and groundskeeping, plus additional game day staff that help out,” says Tom.

Recreation Ballpark, Visalia
Speaking of the facility.  Recreation Ballpark in Visalia is a cozy, comfortable park with all the amenities.  Seidler was able to work with the city to upgrade the stadium that seats 1,800 (with additional room for lawn seating), an air conditioned Hall of Fame club and bar, dugout seats, lawn berm seating, two grandstands, sky boxes, and the all important “Cold Zone” down the left field line that is made up of shaded seating with mist fans blowing throughout the game.

The Visalia Rawhide have an Air Conditioned "Hall of Fame Club" down the right field line.  It has a full bar and is available for catered events.  It is very comfortable for those 100 degree summer days.

“They have been playing baseball in this stadium since 1946.  It is the smallest of the full season class A teams.”  Then Tom shows me the renovations. It is a great venue and has a little bit for every type of baseball fan.  “There is something for everyone here, with the kids, it’s the mascot and the fireworks.  A father may be interested in the player development and will compare a present day player with a Kirby Puckett or Vada Pinson (both Visalia farm products). We have the Hall of Fame Club up here that allows an adult to enjoy a glass of wine in an air conditioned environment.”   When Seidler bought the club, there were 60,000 fans crossing through the turnstiles  per season. “We’re on pace to draw almost double that, about 115,000.”

Baseball Digest named Visalia’s Recreation Park the “Best Renovation of the year” in 2009, citing that it has “...an excellent blend of local baseball history and modern amenities.”   So I asked him how fans react when players move on and advance through the ranks, leaving a competing Visalia team high and dry.  “The fans understand and accept it.  They take pride in players that advance to the big leagues and that they went through here.”  He points out the photos of Visalia greats on the outfield walls.  Amongst them are Vada Pinson, Kirby Puckett, Tom Kelly and even umpire Doug Harvey.  There are a few other names that I don’t recognize, Bud Heslet, who hit 56 home runs there in 1956 and Bob Talbot, a local boy who played briefly with the Chicago Cubs.  “We have our own little Hall of Fame.”
The Dodger affiliate Rancho Cucamonga Quakes are in town, so they expect a decent Dodger fan turnout.  Visalia is in that region of the state where allegiances between the Dodgers and Giants are somewhat split.  I saw my share of Ethier jerseys and Posey jersey in the stands at the game that night.  “We’ll serve Dodger Dogs in the concessions stands tonight.”  And they did, and they were grilled.

Rancho Cucamonga stages a second inning rally during their 6-2 victory in Visalia on Thursday night.
I ask him how do they manage to balance things out with the complexity that makes up his teams rosters, i.e. high round draft picks making next to nothing combined with 1st rounders that signed multi-million dollar signing bonuses. “Once they sign they all get $1500 per month.  Most players live with host families.  It really isn’t much of an issue.”
I was intrigued by the host family issue.  Tom explained that there are a number of families that volunteer to allow a player to live in their home, usually without compensation, just because they enjoy being close to the players and helping out the franchise.  Tom mentioned that Vada Pinson is still close to his host family and that Ubaldo Jimenez invited his host family to last years’ all star game.
I stress to him initially what I think my readers would be interested in, the Los Angeles Dodgers and what it was like growing up with O’Malley bloodlines.  “We’d spend each Sunday in the summers attending Dodger games in the box, the owners box.  It was a family get together each Sunday.
He grew up amongst 9 siblings.  What was that like?  “We had a triple bunk bed, four older brothers.  We’d spend a lot of summers outdoors.”
Hall of Famer, Walter O'Malley
Memories of his grandfather and his thoughts on the Hall of Fame induction:
“I remember the Sundays in the owners box.  It was the only box at the time.  In the off-season we’d get together for church, Sunday brunch.  With his Hall of Fame induction, at first we expressed disappointment that it didn’t occur during his lifetime, so he could see it.  But my mom (Terry) and my uncle (Peter) have seen how it has allowed some of the family to get to know their grandfather/great grandfather.  Many who weren’t around to know him before he died.  They all got together and heard stories from everyone.  It connected everyone to him.”

This photo is from www.walteromalley.com, a 1968 photo of the the Seidler children taking in a game in the President's box at Dodger Stadium.  This photo was taken the year  Tom Seidler was born.
When asked if it was unfair how he has been vilified in Brooklyn for moving the team, Tom says, “I think Peter and his staff, with the website, LINKED HERE , have done a great job at honoring his legacy and telling his story.  He was a saver and there is a treasure trove of documents that have been preserved for everyone to see.  We’re secure that his legacy really helped grow the sport and that he made the most out of a difficult situation in Brooklyn.”
Things have come full circle for Tom.  He told me how as an intern, he worked under Dodger Farm Director, Charlie Blaney in 1989.  “He was the one that recommended that I go to Great Falls and work my internship there.”  It is where he got his feet wet and a true taste for minor league baseball.   Charlie is currently the President of the California League, so they are still working together.

Former Dodger Farm Director and current California League President, Charlie Blaney poses with Doug Harvey and the Cal League recipient of  the Umpire Doug Harvey award, Blake Davis, in September, 2010.
I ask if he was disappointed when the family sold the Dodgers.  Tom was General Manager in Great Falls at the time and had already been awarded a minor league executive of the year award.  “It was the right time.  Football played a role.  The NFL wanted Peter and he wanted to build an NFL stadium at Dodger Stadium, but politics got in the way.”
“I think we are all disappointed how that turned out,” I said.
So from there, Tom and his cousin Kevin O’Malley bought the Stockton Ports Single A club and attempted to get a new stadium built up there.  “It was a good learning curve for us.  We weren’t successful in getting the deal done because we hit a dead end politically, but we swapped ownerships and moved to Visalia and have been able to secure the stadium deal down here.”  Kevin continues to be the other Majority Owner along with Tom, but isn’t involved in the day to day operations of the club.
So I ask Tom with some trepidation about the current state of the Dodgers.  I equate it to the reluctance a home owner might have to look back and see what has happened to a home that he lived in, raised his children in, fixed up and then moved away.  Tom kind of gets my analogy, “It’s tough,” he said.  “There are fewer and fewer we know well in the front office over there.  It’s tough to see what it has come to today.  But I’m an optimist.  I believe things will come around and the Dodgers will return to greatness.  Look at the Yankees, that 15 year drought they had.  They rebounded.  The Dodgers are a great franchise, and the great franchises always come back.”
Coming from Tom Seidler, I can’t help but feel better after that statement.


I walked away from Visalia being gifted a wonderul keepsake, a historical book on Visalia baseball history written by Visalia play by play announcer, Donny Baarns.  Goshen & Giddings: 65 Years of Visalia Professional Baseball.  Mr. Baarns is a hidden gem that some major league team needs to snatch up in a hurry.  Take a look at his website. Where you can order a copy of his book.  Oh yeah, I almost forgot.  Donny is a Dodger fan, through and through.

CLICK HERE for link

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Off Field and On Field Bad News

Brandon Belt homers in the second inning in tonight's 5-3 Giant win over the Dodgers
Just when you think things can’t get worse for the Dodgers.  They do.  Whether it is on or off the field.  The bad news bounces back and forth like a ping pong ball rally of news that gets worse and worse.
On field:
The Giants take two consecutive games from the Dodgers.  That is now 6 wins in a row against them, their longest string of victories against Los Angeles in 42 seasons. 

Off field:
MLB reports in the bankruptcy filings that things are actually worse financially for the team than originally thought.  McCourt pulled out $180 million for his own personal use.

On field:
Brian Wilson has no problem taking down the Dodgers in the ninth tonight, (minus a minor hiccup against Kemp), after struggling recently in outings against the lowly Padres

Off field:
Hiroki Kuroka is stating that he is unsure if he will agree to a trade if the Dodgers go into sellers mode.  

On Field:
Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, the only offensive spark plugs to the Dodger offense have, begin to cool off.

Off field:
There is a possibility that McCourt prevails in court tomorrow and the judge orders that his loan with Chase is valid, further damaging the franchise’s financial stability.  And there is the possibility that McCourt doesn’t prevail in court tomorrow starting a string of lawsuits by McCourt against MLB that will continue ad infinitum.  (Yeah, I know, neither decision is good).

On field:
Brandon Belt dominates the Dodgers with his MLB call up, homering and driving in 3 runs in the Giants 5-3 victory. 

Off field:
Marcus Thames officially cleared waivers today and is now a free agent, (I must say though, this really can’t be considered bad news).

On field:
18 of the final 19 LA hitters were retired in tonight’s game, continuing the offensive futility of the Dodgers who have now lost four straight.

Off field:
Dodgers did Giants a favor by contributing to Miguel Tejada going on the D.L. for the Giants.  Who promptly replace him with Jeff Keppinger via trade with Houston.  Keppinger is a lifetime .360 at AT&T Park.

Keppinger acquired by Giants today for two AA pitchers

On field (sort of):
San Francisco Giants play “Don’t Stop Believing” in bottom of eight inning at AT&T Park.  A Bay Area band’s song, made up of Giant fans, playing in their home park, yet Dodger brass still continue to play that tune at Dodger Stadium, despite the numerous calls to get rid of it.

Off field:
“Culverfan” tweets to “dodgerscribe” that the more appropriate Journey song that the Dodgers should play is “Who’s Crying Now?”

On field (in Albuquerque):
Trayvon Robinson homers for the 4th consecutive game, and he continues to linger in Albuquerque while Eugenio Velez, Juan Rivera and Dioner Navarro continue to take up spots on the major league roster.

Trayvon Robinson continues to excel as an Isotope.  Time for a call up?

Off field:
Ned Colletti is talking about the trade deadline and hinting at next year’s payroll with Ken Gurnick at mlb.com.

On field:
Can we really expect anything positive out of a lineup that has Juan Rivera batting third and Aaron Miles in the 5 spot?  No wonder Kemp isn't getting anything to hit.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dodgers in Town for the San Francisco Series, Nobody Notices

It’s a beautiful day in San Francisco.  A sunny morning, with projected temperatures of 71 degrees.  I look out my window and realize this is such perfect day for baseball.  The trees aren’t even swaying with the wind as they normally do.  The Dodgers are in town, and there is no buzz about it at all.  I sold my tickets about a week ago, not because I didn’t want to go, but I had a work assignment that was supposed to send me out of town, (that has since been postponed).

But the buzz about the Dodgers being in town is gone.  We aren’t even an afterthought anymore.  The Dodgers are viewed as a joke, well let me re-state that, they have always been viewed with disdain, but never as a team that wasn’t a threat.
Now, they’re the laughing stock of the National League and Giant fans are loving it.  There is not even a word on the radio about the upcoming series.  Nobody gets excited about a series with the Dodgers.  KNBR, the Giants flagship is talking about the women’s world cup final this morning.  There isn’t ANY conversation about this three game set.
“How bout them Dodgers?!” blurted out Rod Brooks, noontime co-host on the sportstalk radio show, the day it was announced that some Dodger employee checks had bounced.  He concluded his rant with, “Let me just say though, about the Dodgers going bankrupt. It couldn’t happen to a nicer group of people.”
I used to arrive to work on a day when a Giant-Dodger series was to begin and get a ribbing from everyone.  Now they just barely mention it.  I’m fairly certain that if I mentioned the series to someone I would hear, “the Dodgers are in town?”  
Now, if the Dodgers are discussed, it isn’t about the team, it is about the financial troubles, the low attendance, the Brian Stow incident, the bankruptcy, MLB taking over control.  I’d even welcome talk with them about what they proposed on the radio here a few weeks back, an Ethier for Jeremy Afeldt trade.  As ridiculous as that is, at least they are talking baseball.
Giant fans are oblivious to the fact that Matt Kemp is having a monster year.  “Matt who?” says a co-worker.  We’ve got Andres Torres, I’ll go with him.  He won a World Series.”
Giant outfielder Andres Torres
“Okay then,” I think to myself.  “I guess they can have Torres and his stat line of .239, 3 HR, 17 RBI, .372 SLG., .699 OPS.  Maybe we can pawn off Uribe on them if they like anemic stats.”   Then reality hits me in smack the face.
San Francisco  55-41
Los Angeles     42-53   12.5 Games behind
Ouch!  Even a sweep doesn't put them in reach.  This season is an embarrassment.  At least we have Kemp and Kershaw to root for.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Longest Win Streak of the Year Continues after the Break

Juan Rivera is greeted in the Dodger dugout after slugging a home run on the first pitch he received as a Dodger

Five wins in a row for the blue crew.  An impressive start for Juan Rivera.  Matt Kemp rakes and Clayton pitches well.  Additionally the club overcomes some costly errors and Kuo is looking good again as the bullpen racks up another 2 innings of shutout relief.  Nice way to start the second half.

I can't help but have mixed feelings about the Dodgers recent success.  If they keep this up, Colletii is bound to trade Jerry Sands, Trayvon Robinson or Dee Gordon for a two month rental veteran third baseman.


I mentioned it on twitter but not here, Dustin Nosler over at www.feelingkindablue.com has a ten question interview with me, discussing the blog and the Dodgers.  Take a look if you are interested. 

 I'm the second blogger he interviewed.  He had Jared Massey from www.ladodgertalk.com a few days ago too.  Dustin's blog is a great daily read.  Be sure to check it out.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Mets are Selling, Why Isn't Colletti?

Yesterday the New York Mets dealt their closer Francisco Rodriguez to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for two players to be named later.  The Mets agreed to to pay slightly less than half of the remaining $4.9 million owed on his contract and are responsible for $3.5 million of the buyout.  

Yes, it was a salary dump and yes, the Mets are shipping him away so that they don’t have to pony up for that ludicrous incentive clause in his contract that pays him $17.5 million next year if he finishes a certain amount of games.  I don’t fault the Mets for doing that, I commend them.  It was the smart thing to do.  They aren’t catching the Phils or Braves and they are doing the wise thing for the future of their franchise.  I wish I could say the same thing with the Dodgers.
The Mets, at 46-45, are 7 and a half games out of first place in the N.L. East and there is plenty of talk of them unloading Carlos Beltran and/or Jose Reyes.  The Dodgers, at 41-51 are 11 games behind San Francisco and behind both Arizona and Colorado sitting in 4th place.  Yet Ned Colletti said today that the Dodgers will be buyers at the trade deadline.  Are you kidding me?
Colletti is quoted by Ken Gurnick on the Dodgers website:
“...we need to execute better in the second half and gain the confidence that we can, and we’ll be in buying mode at the [trade] deadline, as usual.  I’m still confident we can make a run, pick up a game and be in a decent spot.  We still have a load of games in the division.”

Dodger G.M. Ned Colletti is still in "Buyers" mode despite Dodgers 4th place standing
So there you have it.  It doesn’t matter that the Dodgers are buried one game out of the cellar.  It doesn’t matter that the starting staff is really only 3 deep, followed by an unproven rookie that is throwing more innings than he ever has, and a faltering veteran on his way to leading the league in HRs allowed.  It doesn’t matter that the Dodgers have serious question marks at catcher, first base, second base, third base, left field, shortstop, and the bullpen closer role.  They’re buyers.
Be very worried folks.  I’ll be expecting a deal for a Podsenik type player or a Dotel type reliever to come in exchange for prospects again.  What few realize is that what the Dodgers got in the Dotel deal is essentially Anthony Jackson, currently in Rancho Cucamonga sent back from AA Chattanooga  The Dodgers dealt James McDonald and Andrew Lambo for Dotel, who then was shuttled off to Colorado for a player to be named - Anthony Jackson.  Hmm, Lambo/Mcdonald for Anthony Jackson, a speedy outfielder with no pop.  A very astute move, don’t you think?
Don’t even get me started on the Podsednik deal with KC.  The results are similar in nature, except the Dodgers have nothing to show for that trade now.
My question is this.  How many games do the Dodgers need to be out of first for Colletti to consider them to be out of contention?
What I would do if I were G.M. is to get value for players while they still have value:  Notably Jamey Carroll and Rafael Furcal.  Both perfect fits in Cincinnati who are in need of a shortstop.  The Reds have some prospects that may fill Dodger future needs.  One being a fine switch hitting catcher by the name of Yesmani Grandal, playing currently in AA ball.  He’s a 22 year old Cuban ballplayer with a combined OBP of around .375 at High A Bakersfield/AA Caroline this year.  11 HRS and 51 RBI.  Good plate discipline, the only flaw noted so far is that of throwing out base stealers.  Something that Yeager could work with him on.
That’s the first move I’d make if I was sitting in the GM chair.  There are others, but what’s the point.? Ned is buying, not selling.  I said it several weeks ago and I’ll say it again.  The future of this franchise will only be saved if is if the Dodegrs go on a July tail spin that even ned can’t deny that they will come out of.
Colletti sees the writing on the wall.  McCourt is probably out and that doesn’t bode well for his future with the club.  Let’s hope he does the dignified thing and attempts to leave the franchise intact with a future for development rather than leaving the cupboard bare in last ditch efforts to save his job.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Post All Star Game Discussion

Nice win by the National League and there were fine contributions from the Dodger participants.  Most blogs have discussed the performances of Kemp, Ethier and Kershaw at length so I see no need to go over it again, nor do I have much of anything to add.  Those three players are the core talent of the Dodgers and I hope that at least Kemp and Kershaw are locked up for years to come.
Ryan Vogelsong and Andre Ethier during pre-game warmups
All-Star games make strange bedfellows.  It definitely is strange seeing Ethier and Matt Cain yucking it up or Keshaw and Lincecum chatting to each other as they leaned over the dugout railing.  Then seeing Brian Wilson high fiving the likes of the Dodger core following the victory is absolutely a strange sight.

I have a question though.  Can players be fined for tampering?  The ZZ Top guitarist in the Giant uniform pretty much made it clear that he wants Carlos Beltran on the San Francisco roster.  Not the smartest of things to do if he really wants it to actually occur.  First because the Mets are in an advantageous posture now, being able to demand top prospects and second, because Giant G.M. Brian Sabean’s desires were exposed on a national stage, putting him at a disadvantage.  If the Gnats are serious and able to obtain Beltran, I hope the Mets steal some top prospects for him.  Dare I say, Brandon Belt, Gary Brown, Zack Wheeler, Jose Casilla.

I wonder if Heath Bell replaced the divot after his slide into the mound after he made his entrance, taking out a patch of sod.  Closers are a strange lot.  Personally  I find their act a bit tiresome with these guys thinking that they have to show the world that they may have a screw loose or two, as an intimidation factor.  
I remember back in the 70’s, when Al Hrabosky was doing his mound psyche out antics that veteran and former Dodger Ron Fairly was at the plate against him one game.  He stood there and laughed, had to step out of the batters box and compose himself after watching his ridiculous psyche out routine.  He then proceeded to rip an RBI single off of him,  (I looked it up, it was on July 3, 1978).  

My dad turned to me and said something to the effect that showboats out there are simply that, show offs.  That players need to do their talking with their actions, not their theatrics.
Battling With A Gopher
On a personal side note. I must mention that this All-Star break also happens to coincide with an ideal opportunity for me to do some major front yard demolition and remodeling.  There’s nothing like a three day respite from baseball to attempt to execute the gopher in my front yard that has be terrorizing my lawn.  Without going into the details that will bore you to death, I have been defeated.  Attempts to trap, gas out, flood, smoke out, and sever the little rascal have proved fruitless.  
Yesterday I saw it appear briefly out of one of it’s many holes to taunt me.  I must say, he’s an ugly bugger, not like the cute thing on Caddyshack.

So the decision was made to demo the whole lawn, tear up the sidewalk, rototill the entire front yard, level it out and lay down impenetrable galvinized steel mesh to keep the varmint out, before laying down new sod.   I have read more than my share of war stories from others that have faced a similar predicament and have decided to go this route.   My front lawn will look like the pristine sod laid at Dodger Stadium when I’m done.   But meanwhile, it looks like it just survived a battle of War of the Worlds.

If anyone out there has a better idea on how to rid myself of the gopher from hell, I'm all ears.

Second half, here we come.  Hopefully Ned doesn't trade off the remaining minor league core for the likes of Juan Rivera type players.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Okay, So We Kinda Suck at Home Run Derby Too

That was a real bummer, Matt Kemp’s Home Run Derby performance tonight.  I felt for the Bison who was obviously pressing and was embarrassed after starting out 0 for 9 attempts.  It was nice to see him recover enough to hit two out and not get shut out.  I remember in 1993 and 1994 that Mike Piazza was shut out in the derby.  He vowed to never participate in another one again.  A promise he kept.

Matt Kemp jumps in mock celebration after saving face after hitting a homer in tonight's Home Run Derby
Below are the numbers of Dodger participants in Home Run Derby and their HR totals:
Year Player   Homers Venue
1993 Mike Piazza   0         Baltimore
1994    Mike Piazza   0         Pittsburgh
1995 Raul Mondesi   2        Texas
2005 Hee-Seop Choi   5           Detroit
2011 Matt Kemp          2       Arizona
The original Home Run Derby Television show was filmed in 1960 at Los Angeles’ Wrigley Field.    The rules were different than the present day AllStar Game version, with two players facing off against each other, getting 3 outs per inning and then taking a break while their opponent batted.  An additional twist was added to the show with a home plate umpire calling balls and strikes.  If a player took a pitch that was called a strike, it would count as an out.  The winning player of the derby would collect $2,000, the loser, $1,000.  Additionally if a player hit three consecutive homers, he’d get a $500 check.  This was decent money for players of that era, and the funds went directly to the players pockets and not to charity.  You'll see in the clip below that Willie Mays was a bit upset that he just missed hitting a third homer in a row as it tailed foul.

The show host was Mark Scott.  Scott would conduct an interview with the player that was not hitting.  Some real superstars and future Hall of Famers participated, i.e., Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Ernie Banks, Harmon Killebrew, Al Kaline, Frank Robinson, Eddie Mathews, and Rocky Colavito  Two Dodgers were also a part of that show, Duke Snider and Gil Hodges.
In the Duke’s match against Hank Aaron, he lost 3 homers to 1.  Hodges was victorious in his first Derby against  Willie Mays, defeating the Say Hey Kid 6 to 3.  Gil failed to advanced beyond his second matchup after losing to Ernie Banks 11 to 7, but Hodges performance was easily the best Dodger performance ever in Home Run Derby when his combined totals are tallied.

Year   Player      Homers                 Venue
1960 Duke Snider 1          Los Angeles, Wrigley Field
1960 Gil Hodges 17          Los Angeles, Wrigley Field

So there you have it, the best performance by a Dodger in Home Run Derby was gentle Gil Hodges, who, by the way,  belongs in the Hall of Fame.
On a side note.  Though Home Run Derby was a popular with baseball fans, the show only lasted one season.  Host Mark Scott died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 45 only 9 days after the last show aired.  Producers decided to not continue the show after Scott’s death.