You can mark that down right now, as we enjoy today’s 4-2 win over San Diego, which represents the eighth victory in nine games and finishes off the first winning month of the season at 16-11. As much as we might like to think that A.J. Ellis and Tim Federowicz might start next season as the backstop duo, it’s not likely to happen, nor should it: Federowicz has just 111 games of experience above A-ball. So while the out-of-options Ellis seems almost certain to be on the roster, the Dodgers are going to need another guy to pair with him. As Rod Barajas finishes off a smoking August (.357/.403/.750 with ten extra-base hits, including six homers) it seems more and more likely it’s going to be him, particularly with his professed love of playing in his hometown.
While we make fun of Barajas and his .293 OBP, I’m not entirely convinced that’s an awful thing. Don’t get me wrong; Barajas isn’t a great player, and I would love to have a better option than him. Just keep in mind how atrocious the state of the game is as far as offense from catchers is right now, because even lousy Rod Barajas is worth 1.2 WAR (in a rare situation where both WAR systems agree). The Dodgers have a .690 OPS from their catchers, which is pretty bad… except that 13 teams are even worse, and that’s even including the healthy dose of Dioner Navarro the Dodgers just suffered through. Sad as it sounds, a combination of Barajas and Ellis could possibly be average to slightly-above both at the plate and behind it.
That says a lot about the catching situation in the bigs, I think, but unless any of the guys on the 2012 free agent list thrill you (I joked recently that 41-year-olds Ivan Rodriguez and Jason Varitek are exactly the type of guys Ned Colletti would go after), it might be the best we can hope for.
Eugenio Velez went hitless in two more at-bats; there is no reason for him to ever play again, ever. I’m serious about that, especially since Dee Gordon is back soon and rosters will be expanding. That said, thanks to Chad Moriyama and his smartly-named new site ChadMoriyama.com, we do have footage of the one thing Velez did hit today:
MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports that the Braves were the team who won the claim on Jamey Carroll, but the Dodgers said “they will not trade him”. It’s hard to know what, if anything, was discussed as the return from Atlanta (not much, most likely), but this does seem short-sighted. I like Carroll as much as anyone, yet having him around for another month isn’t going to add much. Ideally, he’d have been moved for whatever return was available, with the middle infield being handled exclusively by youngsters Gordon, Justin Sellers, and Ivan DeJesus, and third base dealt with from a grab-bag of whomever can walk among Aaron Miles, Casey Blake, and Juan Uribe. (Russ Mitchell can fetch coffee, I guess.) Again, it’s not that they were going to get a top prospect or anything in return for Carroll, it’s just that something would seemingly have been better than nothing.
To the surprise of absolutely no one with a pulse, Dana Eveland will be recalled to start for the Dodgers on Thursday in Pittsburgh. Eveland appeared in three games for the Pirates last season, allowing 20 baserunners in 9.2 innings, though he was named a PCL All-Star this season for the Isotopes. DeJesus is also expected to join the team for the game, with further call-ups happening in the days ahead. (Update: now it sounds like it might be Mitchell instead.)
Glancing at the remaining schedules, each pitcher appears to be in line for five more starts (although, with rotation shuffling and double-headers, it’s impossible to know for sure). Kershaw may have an easier go of things. Assuming regular rest, three of his remaining starts will come against the two worst offenses in the league by runs per game, the Giants and Padres. Entering play Tuesday, Kershaw’s probable remaining opponents had hit a collective .242/.307/.372 (.679 OPS). Meanwhile, Halladay’s likely slate sits at .261/.326/.400 (.726 OPS). It includes the Mets, Brewers, and Cardinals, all well above-average offenses. Don’t be surprised if Kershaw emerges from the 2011 season with his first piece of hardware. Either way, the NL Cy Young vote figures to be hotly debated and narrowly decided.
Not to totally shortchange Clayton Kershaw‘s fifth complete game of the season or Andre Ethier‘s 3-4 performance despite the whirlwind of controversy around him, but there’s no way either of those things interest me more than the fact that James Loney had two more extra base hits on Monday, including his ninth home run of the season. Over his last eight games, Loney has an absurd .541/1.000 OBP/SLG with four dingers and five doubles, and now that it seems this streak didn’t leave town with the Rockies, it’s time to take a look at what’s really going on here.
My first thought was that perhaps Loney had changed his mechanics, which is something we’ve heard endless times throughout the season from both Loney and Don Mattingly. I went through several of his games from his awful April and his amazing August, hoping to find some small change in his swing… and to be honest, I couldn’t, at least nothing worth pointing to and declaring that it was the cause of his recent success. Still, since I made several animated gifs, here’s two of them for you to look at and compare for yourselves.
This is Loney on April 8 in San Diego, where he went 0-5 with two strikeouts in one of his worst games of the season…
…and here he is crushing a homer off Colorado lefty Matt Reynolds last weekend against Colorado:
Other than the fact that he’s swinging at some bad balls from San Diego’s Cory Luebke and the Reynolds pitch is something of a meatball over the inner half of the plate, I don’t really see much there. He’s stepping in the bucket slightly in April, though he’s still doing that in August. That being said, I in no way consider myself a swing expert, so feel free to point out something I’m missing.
Still, even if it’s not mechanical, there’s clearly something going on, so what is it? Some suggest that the talk of his being non-tendered has somehow motivated him, but I have trouble buying into that, since there’s never been any negative whispers about Loney’s work ethic or personality and he’s been struggling for nearly two years now. There’s also the idea that replacing Jeff Pentland as hitting coach with Dave Hansen kick-started things; this is possible, though Hansen had been with the team all along and when people talk about how many more runs have scored since the move, they like to conveniently forget that Juan Rivera arrived at basically the same time. Maybe his struggles this year were so bad that opponents finally moved past the “but he’s a good RBI guy” myth and realized there was no reason to do anything but challenge him, allowing him fewer opportunities to chase bad balls and receive better pitches to hit. (The numbers don’t bare that out, though they’re for the full season; I don’t have any way of breaking them down within segments of a season.) All of these suggestions are possibilities, yet none stand out. (Edit: I also meant to mention, but forgot to do so, that his streak roughly corresponds with being moved up to the #2 spot in the lineup, which could also help him see better pitches in front of Kemp. Kudos to Wil in the comments for pointing it out. That said, it also has to be more than that, since he has batted sixth twice and fourth once in his streak.)
For the moment, I’m leaning towards our subconscious perception of Loney as being the main culprit. As hot as Loney as been lately – and make no mistake, he’s been excellent – it’s also been eight games and 35 at-bats. In his previous 37 at-bats, leading back to the beginning of the month, he’d hit .243/.341/.351 with two extra-base hits. In all of July, he hit .176/.225/.230 with four extra-base hits, all doubles. So as much as I’m enjoying the new and improved James Loney, this level of production is going to need to last for at least another week or two (if not the rest of the season) before I’m able to chalk it up to anything more than a very welcome hot streak.
That’s what brings me back to perception. Streaks happen in baseball. Anyone can have one, in either direction. Just as Loney is absolutely not as good as he’s been over the last week, he’s also not really as bad as he showed in April when we were all calling for his head. It won’t take too much more for this hot streak to basically counteract his frigid start; as Jon Weisman rightly mentioned at Dodger Thoughts, since Loney’s low point on April 24, he’s essentially been standard-issue Loney, with an OPS similar to his career marks.
The problem for Loney was the timing, since due to the daily nature of baseball, first impressions sometimes count for too much. Other than fewer RBI, in large part due to the low-OBP crew the Dodgers have assembled this year, Loney is probably going to end up with a season line very similar to what he’s put up in each of the last three seasons. Taken as a whole, whether he was cold in April and hot in August or vice-versa doesn’t really matter, since it all counts for the same over the course of a season. Yet since Loney got off to such a bad start, his batting average didn’t climb above .250 until the middle of June. That’s a whole lot of time for people to be looking at box scores and television graphics and seeing their first baseman hitting .190, .220, .240, etc. If he’d had the hot streak first, it might have taken him that long to get his average below .300, and you can bet that people would be thinking of him differently, even though overall his season might be completely identical.
We’ve seen this phenomenon happen before. Rod Barajas had essentially one good week in all of 2010, yet since it was in his first week as a Dodger, he didn’t receive a whole lot of criticism for the fact he did little in September – and it helped him get a hefty contract for 2011. In 2009, Orlando Hudson got off to a fantastic start, hitting .348/.429/.539 through the first 35 games of the season. Despite the fact that he played so poorly the rest of the year that he eventually lost his job to Ronnie Belliard in the playoffs, that first impression (and the fact his batting average looked pretty on the scoreboard every night), meant most Dodger fans remembered their first impression of Hudson as a second base superstar.
The point is, absent further information or the unlikely probability that Loney hits like this through the end of the season, he’s probably going to be the same James Loney that he’s always been. He’ll end up with 10-12 homers and a line somewhere in the neighborhood of .280/.335/.395, just like every year. He was never as bad as we poked fun at him for being early in the season when he struggled to get the average above .200, nor is he as good as he’s seemed in the last week. He’s still going to be a likely non-tender following the season, simply because the Dodgers can’t afford to pay ~$6m to a non-star first baseman (though it’s possible they still attempt to bring him back after that for a lesser price.)
Streaks happen. Let’s enjoy this one.
Some minor pitching news: the Dodgers are about to need two additional starting pitchers. Nathan Eovaldi‘s start on Saturday will be his last one of the season, says Don Mattingly, but in addition he’s shuffled the rotation so that Chad Billingsley will start on Friday and a minor league callup will start the Thursday makeup game in Pittsburgh. Thursday is September 1, so there’s no roster implications there, but presumptive choice John Ely started for Albuquerque on Sunday and I doubt they’d throw him on short rest. Ken Gurnick suggests Dana Eveland or Allen Webster; Webster is infinitely more fun yet has also been hit hard in his last few games, so it’s almost certainly Eveland, with he and Ely probably each getting starts in September.
This is relatively unimportant in the grand scheme of things, though I’m happy to be taking a break from the Andre Ethier firestorm for just a second (though do be sure to check out Tony Jackson’s latest must-read on the subject). Lost in a weekend of Ethier-mania, Matt Kemp walkoffs, and James Loney resurrections was this somewhat minor note that popped up yesterday: Dee Gordon‘s minor-league rehab stint has been extended to three games, rather than two. This is the second time his rehab has been slightly delayed, since he was originally supposed to start the rehab on Thursday and Friday in hopes of returning over the weekend. That didn’t happen, and now the earliest he’s going to be able to rejoin the team is Thursday’s makeup game in Pittsburgh, or maybe even Friday at home against Atlanta if he doesn’t make that long one-day trip to Pennsylvania.
As Jackson notes, it’s simply a “more conservative approach, nothing to be worried about”, and he’s right: alone, it’s barely even worth noting. But what it means is that not only is he not coming off the DL as soon as he was eligible (which was August 25), he won’t be back until Thursday – and Thursday is September 1, roster expansion day, meaning no corresponding move will need to be made in his place. And that means that instead of the long-welcomed DFA of Eugenio Velez (which was almost certainly going to be what would have happened, unless you really think that Justin Sellers was going down instead), Velez is going to be a Dodger for the rest of the season. Much fun as it might be to watch Velez chase down a historic mark for futility, I have a hard time enjoying it in the same way I was rooting for “most left fielders in a season” and “most players in a season”. Watching Velez flail isn’t fun; it’s just sad. He’s clearly not a big leaguer, and he doesn’t belong here. With every out he makes, it’s just more embarrassing for him and the team.
Since we’re talking about September 1, let’s put some expected names out there. Don Mattingly claims “fewer than 10″, though even that seems like a lot since (without doing any research at all) I believe the number has been between 5-7 in previous years. That being said, here’s who I think we’ll see:
As I said previously, I originally didn’t think Federowicz would come up this soon since they didn’t need to place him on the 40-man roster until after next season, but that plan changed as soon as Dioner Navarro was cut loose. (Since we now know that Navarro’s move was in the works for a while but just required Rod Barajas to be healthy first, I suppose Federowicz is who Ned Colletti was referring to when he said at least one prospect was coming up to get acclimated.) Other possibilities could be Jon Link or Dana Eveland, though neither are on the 40-man roster. I also wouldn’t completely rule out DeJesus not getting recalled, if the Dodgers prefer to see what Sellers can do at second base once Gordon returns to reclaim shortstop.
Last week, I praised the solid performance of rookie Nathan Eovaldi, while in the same breath pointing out that his low strikeout rate and unsustainably low BABIP meant that regression was likely coming. We didn’t have to wait long to see it: payback from the BABIP gods came in the first inning today, as the balls that had previously found their way into gloves for Eovaldi instead found open grass amid some questionable outfield defense, allowing Colorado to put up five before the Dodgers even came to bat.
To Eovaldi’s credit, he did manage to retire nine of the next eleven before being lifted after four, but the damage was done; despite the Dodgers scoring single runs in the first and third on hits by Justin Sellers and James Loney – yes, him again – the margin returned to five as the Rockies plated two more against Blake Hawksworth in the fifth inning, even as Los Angeles chased noted Dodger-killer Jhoulys Chacin with eleven baserunners in five innings. The Dodgers scored two in the seventh despite not having a hit (Chacin walked the bases loaded, followed by Eugenio Velez hitting into a fielder’s choice – that’s an RBI, not a hit – and Tony Gwynn adding a sacrifice fly. Two more scored in the eighth on hits by Aaron Miles and Trent Oeltjen, setting the stage for a nearly identical situation as Saturday: Colorado closer Rafael Betancourt looking to protect a one-run lead against Miles, Loney, and Kemp. (The batting order was slightly different, but each game had the same three hitters).
Unfortunately for the Dodgers, neither Kemp nor Loney could recreate their Saturday heroics – and as much fun as it might have been to see Loney tie the game on another homer, I’m not sure I could have lived in the world that would have ensued, where black is white, north is east, and up is west – and Miles flew out to left to end the game, ending the Dodger five game winning streak.
The big story, of course, is the fallout from T.J. Simers’ story about Andre Ethier‘s knee. Ethier was not in the lineup today, having met with team doctors for a further examination, and Don Mattingly had some choice quotes for Tony Jackson of ESPNLA:
“I got kind of blindsided by that (column),” Mattingly said. “To me, the way I read it was that Dre has been telling us he couldn’t play and we said play anyway. That definitely isn’t the case. For me, that is taking a shot at my integrity. Not just mine, but the organization, the training staff and Ned.
“His knee has been banged up, there is no denying that. But with that, we check with him. ‘Are you OK today?’ There have been times when I will get him in the weight room after a game and say, ‘I’m giving you the day off tomorrow,’ and then he’ll come into my office and say he wants to (play).”
Ned Colletti didn’t take the story well, either:
“I talked to Andre three weeks ago, one on one,” Colletti said. “We talked about the season, talked about the future and talked about the team. (The knee) wasn’t a topic.”
Colletti said he then received a call from Ethier’s agent, Nez Balelo, while the Dodgers were in Milwaukee two weeks ago informing him that Ethier was experiencing knee problems, that he might need a minor surgical procedure at some point to correct them and that they were affecting his offensive performance, which has been disappointing this season, especially since the All-Star break. “I said, ‘Can he play?”’ Colletti said. “(The answer was) yeah. I had a conversation with Nez again before the game (Saturday). We talked about a lot of different topics related to Andre and related to the knee. My impression was that it was something that would have to be looked at, but it wasn’t something that had to be taken care of right now.”
As we’d thought, the Dodgers were not simply shaking off the truth and forcing Ethier to play; in addition to the firestorm that’d bring from the player’s union, it also makes no sense at all. What’s most interesting, as noted by Vin Scully during the game and printed by Steve Dilbeck of the LA Times, is that Ethier never claimed that Simers misquoted him, (which may be a first for Simers), just that the story didn’t come out the way he’d wanted it to. It’s also worth noting that his knee is apparently such a problem that he considered surgery last winter, has felt “cracking and crunching” in the knee just when walking, and required three injections of synthetic fluid in the knee a few weeks ago. All of which seems to suggest that not only is the knee largely responsible for his lousy season, it’s something that isn’t going to get better unless he goes under the knife – and if that’s the case, I’m wondering what the point is in delaying it until after the season while trying to continue to play and potentially making it worse.
Remember John Lindsey, last year’s heartwarming story? 2011 hasn’t gone quite as well, as he’s missed nearly two months with a variety of leg injuries and is all but certainly not going to receive a call-up next week. At 35 in January and with that big-league callup under his belt, you might think he’d be ready to move on, but Christopher Jackson of the Albuquerque Baseball Examiner shares with us that Lindsey has other ideas:
Lindsey has been limited to serving as a designated hitter, moving slowly and carefully out of the batting box any time he does connect with the baseball. Sometimes fans who are clearly unaware of his physical condition have given him an earful from the stands.
“It’s funny, I hear it but I don’t,” Lindsey said. “My teammates come in and tell me, ‘Hey, have they been to a game this year? Don’t they know you’re hanging on there by a thread?’ (But) it doesn’t affect me.”
Lindsey said he will return to his home in Hattiesburg, Miss., to rest and rehab his leg with the hope of being healthy enough to play in a winter league in Latin America later in the offseason.
“I’m just trying to stay positive, going into this offseason, working with the trainer and hoping I can erase father time a little bit,” Lindsey said. “It’s kind of strange how this hit me all of a sudden this year. But I feel if I can get myself in good shape, go to winter ball and show teams that I can play, then hopefully next season I can get another job and do what I can do.”
Of the many things that have gone wrong for the Dodgers this season, among the most troubling is the total power outage from Andre Ethier, counted upon to be a lynchpin of the offense alongside Matt Kemp. Ethier’s 30-game hitting streak ended on May 7; since then, he’s hit just .255/.336/.373 with seven homers in 375 plate appearances. He hasn’t homered since July 25 (against you guessed it – Colorado) and August is shaping up to be an especially brutal month, with just three extra base hits and a .189 batting average in 89 plate appearances.
So what’s wrong with the longest-tenured Dodger hitter? T.J. Simers of the LA Times points to two issues, the first being his supposedly injured right knee:
Ask Ethier if he should still be playing on a right knee that will require off-season surgery, and he says, “If you’re expecting me to do what I’ve done in the past, no, there’s no possible way I can do that right now. You can say tough it out and give it your best shot, but it’s not going to happen.
There’s a lot more to get to in this piece, but let’s start with the knee. We’ve known that Ethier’s been dealing with a sore knee for a while, but this is the first time that I’m aware of that we’ve seen Ethier “will” require surgery on it. (It’s here where we note that Simers is generally a clownshoe who prefers to make fun of how to pronounce Marcus Thames‘ name than to actually break news, so consider the source, though it’s not his style to falsify a fact like that.)
I couldn’t remember a specific incident where Ethier had hurt his knee, and it hasn’t kept him out of the lineup for more than a game or two this season. A Google search turned up this Ken Gurnick story from July 19:
Andre Ethier was out of the Dodgers starting lineup Tuesday night, in part because he’s struggled against left-handed pitchers and in part because of a right knee that could require offseason cleanup arthroscopy.
“It’s just a day off,” said manager Don Mattingly. “Dre’s been battling lefties [.228] and I’m hearing a little more about his knee. It’s a good day to give him.”
Ethier hyperextended his right knee in Spring Training 2010 and ices it after every game. On an at-bat in Arizona over the weekend, he stumbled out of the batter’s box on a swing. Nonetheless, he’s played all but two games this year.
I couldn’t find any reference to Ethier hurting his knee in articles published in February or March of 2010, and it doesn’t appear in the Baseball Prospectus injury database. He was crushing the ball to start that season before injuring his finger in May; his struggles in the second half of the season were largely blamed on that injury. Still, I’m willing to believe that his underwhelming performance over the last year has to have a root cause, and as Gurnick notes Ethier has looked bad on several swings this year, so the idea that the knee was a small problem that’s progressively gotten worse passes the small test.
If that’s the case, that leads us to a larger concern, which is Ethier’s apparently deteriorating relationship with the team. (Assuming, again, that Simers is still pretending he’s a journalist and hasn’t completely inflated these quotes.) If Simers is to be believed, these quotes from Ethier sound as though player and team are at odds about the severity of the injury:
“It’s only going to get worse from this point. I’ve dealt with it all season long, but as the season goes on my body wears down. That’s just the way it is — I keep getting put in the lineup, so what am I supposed to do?”
The Dodgers played all season without a left fielder, so why not make a change in right, shut down Ethier and wheel him into the operating room?
“A million-dollar question,” Ethier says before catching himself. “But I think there is a value in finishing anything you start.”
“Other than going into the training room every day and saying my knee hurts,” Ethier says, “and having six-inch needles stuck into it to make it feel better, I’ve told them my mechanics are messed up because of my knee. They know.
“But they’ve told me, ‘Grin and bear it.’”
That does seem to infer that the club doesn’t agree about how much pain he’s in, and the article also includes some less-than-supportive quotes from Ned Colletti on the situation. If the team really thought he was hurt, Don Mattingly probably wouldn’t be saying things like bumping him down to the 5th spot in the lineup was done to relieve some pressure on Ethier. That said, it’s hard to know who to believe here; Colletti may be the guy who foolishly called out Matt Kemp last year, told Xavier Paul that he needed to learn how to be a big leaguer, and announced on the radio that Jonathan Broxton was out as closer weeks before that was actually the case, but Ethier’s also well-known for his emotional outbursts, including dropping the thought that he might be non-tendered just 48 hours before the start of the season.
The point is, it’s impossible to determine the truth from these quotes, other than the seemingly unavoidable conclusion that Ethier and the organization may be at odds. If Ethier is hurt, then it does neither him nor the team any good to keep throwing him out there to worsen the knee and torpedo the offense. With Jerry Sands‘ return imminent, it’s not the worst thing in the world to throw Sands and Juan Rivera out there around Kemp every day, with Tony Gwynn, Trent Oeltjen, and Jamie Hoffmann around as depth. If Ethier’s not hurt, then that might even be worse – why, then, has his performance suffered so much?
Either way, I’ve long taken the opinion (unpopular among casual fans) that Ethier is not someone I want to see the team invest tens of millions of dollars into, since he’s nearly 30, less than a star-level hitter who can’t hit lefties, doesn’t play outstanding defense, and is a bit too vocal with his criticisms – particularly since Kemp and Clayton Kershaw both need to be taken care of, despite the uncertain ownership situation. Unfortunately, none of this is doing much to help his trade value.
Hey, remember earlier today, when I said that James Loney had hit six of his last eight homers against Colorado? Well, let’s make that seven of nine after his game-tying blast with one out in the ninth against Rockie righty Rafael Betancourt.
Back to Loney in a second, because let’s not skip how we got to that point: Chad Billingsley staked the Rockies to a 4-0 lead, allowing 10 hits in six innings (including a Troy Tulowitzki dinger) in his continuing quest to confound us by throwing out starts that don’t seem to be effective yet add up to one of the better pitchers in the league. The Dodgers fought back to take the lead with five runs in the sixth, partially on five hits but also in part due to errors by catcher Chris Iannetta and third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff. (By the way, since Andre Ethier was thrown out at the plate trying to score on Casey Blake‘s double, that meant that both hitting outs were made by Trent Oeltjen, who popped out starting the inning hitting for Billingsley, and struck out to end it.) Hong-Chih Kuo gave the lead back by allowing Tulowitzki’s second homer of the day, a two-run job in the seventh, and that’s how the Dodgers found themselves down 6-5 headed into the 9th, where Loney tied the game.
Thanks to 4.1 scoreless innings from Matt Guerrier, Scott Elbert, Javy Guerra, and Mike MacDougal (who got the win, because of course he did), 6-6 was the score through the bottom of the 11th. Loney was unable to single-handedly make the earth cave in upon itself by hitting a walkoff, but it didn’t matter: Matt Kemp took up the slack by crushing a Jason Hammel pitch into the nearly empty bleachers for his 31st homer of the year and 100th RBI. MVP? MVP.
But back to Loney. I’ve been making jokes about his performance against the Rockies for some time now, chalking most of it up to the Coors Field effect. Clearly, that doesn’t hold water anymore; the last two have come at home. He’s now hit just two homers in the last 362 days that didn’t come against Colorado. The Dodgers finish off the series against the Rockies with Nathan Eovaldi against Jhoulys Chacin tomorrow, before welcoming San Diego into town. Has Loney really turned some kind of corner? Or will he turn back into a pumpkin as soon as Jim Tracy and crew leave town? More importantly, is this going to convince Ned Colletti to tender him a contract after the season? I still think it’s unlikely at the price he’d get in arbitration, but the last week or two has thrown some doubt into the conversation…
James Loney has seven homers this season. Anything stand out to you on the list below?
|2011 HRs||Date||Pitcher||RBI||BOP||WPA||Play Description|
|1||2011-04-06||@||COL||Jason Hammel||1||5||0.091||Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep RF)|
|2||2011-05-27||FLA||Javier Vazquez||1||6||0.122||Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep RF Line)|
|3||2011-05-30||COL||Jason Hammel||2||6||0.043||Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep RF); Ethier Scores|
|4||2011-06-12||@||COL||Ubaldo Jimenez||4||5||0.329||Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep RF); Carroll, Miles, Kemp, Loney Score|
|5||2011-08-07||@||ARI||Ian Kennedy||1||6||0.116||Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep CF-RF)|
|6||2011-08-21||@||COL||Kevin Millwood||1||6||0.118||Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep RF)|
|7||2011-08-26||COL||Matt Reynolds||2||2||0.078||Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep CF-RF); Sellers Scores|
Five of the seven have come against the Rockies. That’s 71.4% of his 2011 dingers, despite the fact that only 12.9% of his 2011 plate appearances have come against Colorado. But it gets better; his final homer in 2010, the only one he hit from September 1 on… came in Colorado on September 28 against last night’s starter, Esmil Rogers, so six of Loney’s last eight dingers (you know, the eight whole homers he’s hit in nearly the last calendar year) have come against Colorado.
If you’re Colorado, how are you not making a low-risk play for Loney this winter, even with the presence of Todd Helton? Not only to get Loney hitting in Coors Field every day, but to stop having to see him in the opposing lineup.
Dioner Navarro’s ouster from the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this week was hastened by a failure to devote the requisite time to game preparation that is expected of a catcher, multiple sources said before Friday night’s game against the Colorado Rockies. Navarro was designated for assignment on Tuesday, giving the Dodgers 10 days from that point to trade him, release him or outright him to the minors after he clears waivers.
Good riddance. For a guy who wasn’t performing at the plate, was having defensive issues, and had a history of locker room issues (quitting on Tampa Bay last year), the lack of effort is shocking. Fortunately, he’ll be someone else’s problem now.
Work the deal. Get what you can, even if it’s precious little.
Carroll deserves the opportunity to play for a contender, to make a real postseason contribution. At his age, he may not get another chance. The Milwaukee Brewers had reportedly talked to the Dodgers about Carroll prior to the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline.
I agreed with this at the July 31 deadline. Carroll was a potentially valuable piece to a contender, and could have brought back a decent return. But now, I’m not even sure it’s worth it, since the Dodgers would only be able to talk to the team that claims him, preventing any sort of bidding war. (Such as it were.) It’d be nice for Carroll, I suppose, and I agree that he’s not a part of the team future. But I also understand the thought that with Juan Uribe out, Dee Gordon not back, and Casey Blake unreliable, you want to make sure you have more than just Aaron Miles and Justin Sellers to finish out the season. (Eugenio Velez doesn’t count. Eugenio Velez never counts.)
Russ Mitchell, catcher? Don Mattingly noted that the team will try him behind the plate during winter ball in an effort to increase his versatility. Mitchell’s probably never going to hit enough to be an everyday player, so if he can make this stick, all the better for him. (It’s here where I’ll try to forget Ned Colletti’s claims that “catchers can’t be made”, at the time of the Trayvon Robinson deal.) Usually conversions like this happen in the low minors, though; I can’t think of another recent example where this kind of move has been tried (successfully) for a player who Mitchell’s age who has already seen big league time.
Well, home games and division road games, anyway. So, best news of the season? Vin, just a few minutes ago, on the air:
“I don’t want to make a big deal out of it, you and I have been friends for a long time,” Scully told the audience on PRIME TICKET. “But after a lot of soul searching and a few prayers, we’ve decided that we will come back with the Dodgers for next year. God’s been awfully good to me, allowing me to do the things I love to do. I asked him one more year at least and he said okay.”
Fingers crossed: Vin might just outlast Frank McCourt.
On Tuesday, Clayton Kershaw tossed six scoreless innings in St. Louis, extending his National League strikeout lead and making the start the 10th of his 27 outings this year in which he hasn’t allowed an earned run. At 23, Kershaw is living up to the promise we’d all seen since the day he was drafted in 2006. But is it really going to be enough to get him the NL Cy Young Award over Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and others? Let’s take a quick trip through the stats to find out. For the purposes of this exercise, we’ll just compare Kershaw to Halladay, because if he can’t beat Doc, then the rest won’t matter.
Stats that shouldn’t matter, but do:
Edge: Kershaw’s had the advantage of one additional start, so this is essentially a draw. Of course, Halladay plays for a Phillies team that scores 4.3 runs per game, while the Dodgers are ahead of only the Giants in scoring 3.8 per game, so Kershaw leading the league in wins would be somewhat miraculous, if wins weren’t completely pointless.
Edge: Basically identical. Draw.
Kershaw: Plays for a West Coast team that is in and out of last place and is more notable for its embarrassing legal situation.
Halladay: Plays for an East Coast team that is the best in baseball and is an overwhelming World Series favorite.
Edge: Here’s where Kershaw is going to run into his first problem, since he’s a young pitcher on a bad team, while Halladay has been a long-time star. This might not affect him as badly as it will Matt Kemp, however, since “Cy Young Award” isn’t named “Most Valuable Pitcher”. It’s silly, but that word “valuable” really gets a lot of people stuck, and Zack Greinke & Felix Hernandez have each won on bad small-market teams in recent years.
Stats which are moderately more helpful:
Edge: Kershaw’s mark is very good and represents marked improvement over previous years. Halladay’s is just under twice as good as that. Good god.
Edge: WHIP isn’t as helpful as people assume it is, because it doesn’t correct for opponent, defense, park, etc., but it’s still a nice quick and dirty snapshot. Kershaw has the edge here in part because his edge in hits/9 (6.9 to 8.4) is more than Halladay’s edge in BB/9 (1.1 to 2.3).
Opposing hitter’s line
Kershaw: .212/.265/.304 .569
Halladay: .248/.272/.320 .592
Edge: Both excellent, of course. Halladay turns the average opposing hitter into Orlando Cabrera; Kershaw doesn’t even have a perfect comp because no qualified hitter has a lower OPS than Alex Rios and his .592.
Advanced stats which no real voter will even look at:
Edge: Halladay’s FIP equals his ERA, suggesting that his results have been exactly what they should be. Kershaw gets dinged a bit because his BABIP is relatively low, but not much to see here.
Edge: Halladay, clearly though they’re 1-2 in the NL. I don’t consider WAR, especially for pitchers, to be pinpoint enough where slight differences like this make a ton of difference.
So what’s the final verdict? Too close to call, honestly. I think it’ll be a tight 1-2 (unless something unexpected happens over the final five weeks of the season), with Halladay pulling out a thin victory due to his reputation and the success of the Phillies this year.
I almost don’t want to post this because it’ll just get our hopes up, but the rumors keep flying, so who am I to deny them? Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times claims that the Cubs are already doing information-gathering on Ned Colletti:
Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts is wasting no time gathering information on potential general manager candidates, talking this week to people in and around baseball about current GMs Andrew Friedman of the Tampa Bay Rays and Ned Colletti of the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to sources.
While Colletti is viewed by many as cut from similar old-school-GM cloth as Jim Hendry, one attraction to him, a source said, is the likelihood he would try to bring Ryne Sandberg back to the organization as the Cubs’ manager. Sandberg has told those close to him that with Hendry out, he wouldn’t hesitate to return to the Cubs.
Again, I wouldn’t put too much stock into this; Ricketts has said that he wants a change, and Colletti is too similar to Hendry to qualify as that; besides, if Ricketts wants Sandberg so badly, he could just go out and hire him himself.
Some of you have asked me why I always bash on Bleacher Report, which is somehow mind-bogglingly popular despite being a barren wasteland of horrible, juvenile writing, slideshows, and occasional incredible insensitivity. After I devoted a whole post to it in January and nearly brought the writer to tears, I resolved to just ignore the site completely, since it would only make me angry.
That was all well and good until handsome reader Scott emailed me this morning directing me to an “article” titled “Ned Colletti’s 5 Worst Trades as GM”. After I regained consciousness from blacking out, I decided I could not let this injustice go unnoticed. I’m not going to link to it. If you’re brave enough to subject yourself to the feeling of hitting yourself in the face repeatedly with an ice pick, I’m sure you can google it. Now, when you think of terrible Colletti trades, you don’t need to look too far. Millions of words have been spilled on “Carlos Santana for Casey Blake“, “James McDonald and Andrew Lambo for Octavio Dotel“, and the recent Trayvon Robinson deal.
None of those are on the list. Here’s the ones that are:
1) Joel Guzman and Sergio Pedroza for Julio Lugo. I didn’t have a blog at the time. I don’t really remember how I felt about the deal. But I do know that neither Guzman or Pedroza amounted to anything. At worst, this was irrelevant.
2) Ryan Theriot for Blake Hawksworth. Or as I like to think of it, one of the best moves Colletti has made all year. Why was this bad? Because Hawksworth is 2-4 and Theriot “has already surpassed his RBI total from 2010 with 39″. Oh. You got me there.
3) Delwyn Young for Harvey Garcia and Eric Krebs. Like the Lugo deal, who really cares at this point? I was one of Young’s staunchest defenders at the time, and even I can’t get up in arms about the fact that a guy who is hitting .252/.305/.400 in AAA during his age-29 season this year is gone. Completely, totally irrelevant.
4) Juan Pierre for John Ely and Jon Link. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that a guy who references Pierre’s “perfect 1.000 fielding percentage” in 2009 has absolutely no idea what the hell he’s talking about, right? Boy, I sure do wish we had Pierre and his 21/13 SB/CS back on the club.
5) The Manny Ramirez trade. The stupid… it burns. Basically, since Manny was suspended in 2009, injured in 2010, and lost on waivers, they never should have acquired him in the first place. That ridiculous run at the end of 2008? Never happened!
I feel bad for this poor guy, who has no idea what he’s talking about, but I mostly feel bad for us. Bleacher Report just picked up $22m in funding. They have partnerships in which their content appears on the sites of the Los Angeles Times and plenty of other large outlets. The common fan sees this garbage in the wrapper of a respected paper and they think it’s real. They think it’s journalism, when really it’s just the misinformed ramblings of an in-way-over-his-head intern. And that’s why sites like this will always exist – because sites like that will always exist.
A.J. Ellis, we’ve been waiting all year; it’s a nice way to welcome you back.
Ellis’ fifth-inning home run was not only the first of his major league career and one of his two-run scoring hits in his first MLB game since July 8, but it also came just 115 miles from his hometown of Cape Girardeu, MO. Over the last 24 hours, Dodger catchers are five for nine with three homers and a double. Dioner who? After not having hit a homer since 2008, Ellis now has three in the last two months, clearly brought about by the fact that he may or may not have been reading our gentle ribbing about his lack of power on the family of Dodger blogs.
Of course, Ellis wasn’t alone in helping the Dodgers destroy the Cardinals 9-4 on their way to their first sweep in St. Louis since 1993. Ellis’ second-inning single merely made him the eighth consecutive Dodger to reach to start the inning against Cardinal lefty Jaime Garcia, which included one of James Loney‘s three hits on the day and Juan Rivera‘s first extra-base hit, a run-scoring double to deep left. Loney’s third multi-hit game in four days gives him 17 total bases in his last 17 at-bats, a fact noted by many, but don’t get too used to it: after a day off Thursday, the Dodgers are back at home on Friday. (To be fair, they do face the Rockies, so maybe it’ll be a wash.)
Rivera followed by hitting a two-run homer in the 6th inning, accounting for the 8th and 9th Dodger runs, and pushing his line with Los Angeles to .322/.367/.496. Since these are the 2011 Dodgers, that merely served to prompt a barrage of “yeah, but how much is Ned Colletti going to toss at him this offseason simply because he’s made a great first impression” jokes, understandable given what we’ve seen in years past with Rod Barajas and others. That’s a discussion for another day; for now, I’m cognizant of Rivera’s somewhat mediocre past (Toronto does not drop value for nothing lightly) while greatly enjoying his upgrade over Marcus Thames, particularly as Andre Ethier struggles mightily.
Eugenio Velez grounded out hitting for Hiroki Kuroda in the eighth to extend his misery to 0-27, but there’s roster moves on the way: Kenley Jansen and Dee Gordon could each be activated by the weekend. (Update: that was quick; right after the game, the Dodgers announced via Twitter that Josh Lindblom had been sent down for Jansen. Your time is still coming, Eugenio.)