Dec 14

Roberts on rosters

Newly-inked manager Dave Roberts used his media availability requirement at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday of this week to answer a few questions:

On the position player side, Roberts said he expects Cody Bellinger to be an everyday player in 2019.

“Just the way he can defend and how he can affect a game and impact a game with his legs, with the bat, the goal is to have him out there and handle lefties and righties,” Roberts said.

“I think for Cody, it was a tough year,” Roberts said. “It was a grind for him with a slow start. But if you look at the surface line, it wasn’t bad. Now you kind of introduce the defense and the versatility, for a second-year player, still pretty good.”

But if you have Bellinger in the lineup every day, what position will he play? CF or 1B? “Reply hazy, try again.”

Well, what about Muncy? Kiké? CT3?

Roberts said Muncy, Chris Taylor and Kiké Hernández will all be options at second base, with Muncy also getting at-bats at first.

On the pitching side, Roberts said he sees Kenta Maeda and Alex Wood, who transitioned to bullpen roles by the end of 2018, as starters in 2019. Roberts said Ross Stripling will also compete for a starting job after an All-Star 2018 season.

I think Roberts was in a good mood, as shown by this:

On former Diamondbacks All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt going to the Cardinals:

“Goldy, he can stay in the (National League) Central as long as he wants. I’m trying to work on getting him to the American League next. But Goldy, one of my favorite players to watch. To get him out of our division is great. Hope he’s happy. I’ve got to send him flowers.”

Dec 08

Rumors, alarums and excursions

Over at MLB Trade Rumors Connor Byrne notes the recent Times story about Yasiel Puig’s ostensible “disgruntlement” about his diminished playing time last year. He also speculates about a Matt Kemp trade, but wonders how and to whom that might happen. So do I. I can’t imagine another NL team wanting the Bison, a 34-year-old outfielder who had an excellent first half of last year but then fell off drastically at the midpoint of the season. He did win the Players’ Choice Comeback Player of the Year Award in 2018 but was beaten out for the MLB one by Atlanta’s LHP Jonny Venters. He could be a useful DH for an American League team.

Here’s a wonderful Christmas gift idea. You can purchase it at ALL BLUEA for $28.99-$34.99.

Nov 08

Management turnover

Roberts extended.

“Nothing’s changed,” president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said at the GM Meetings here at the Omni La Costa Resort. “We remain extremely optimistic. We have just set it off to the side a little bit as we work through all of our coaches and the vacancies we have there. Nothing has changed from our vantage point.”

In addition to hitting coach Turner Ward and third base coach Chris Woodward, the Dodgers are also losing Danny Lehmann, their game planning and communications coach who was in uniform for games. And general manager Farhan Zaidi, who was introduced Wednesday afternoon as the San Francisco Giants’ new decision maker.

Friedman says the team’s only urgent need is catcher, presuming Grandal doesn’t accept the qualifying offer the Dodgers extended to him. Of the two players to whom those offers were made, Ryu is considered by observers to be more likely to agree.

This assessment of Grandal from Friedman is probably the same most Dodgers fans have:

“I would prefer a more even, level distribution,” Friedman said this week. “But I would also prefer how it has played out to most catchers in the big leagues. So.”

Former exec Jim Bowden speculates on who the Marlins’ Realmuto might be traded to and what he might bring in return. He thinks the Dodgers would have to give up Alex Verdugo and AA pitcher Dustin May. Incidentally, there’s a chart of MLB catchers sorted by WAR in that article: Realmuto’s 4.8 is the highest, but second is Grandal at 3.6.

Oct 30

Gather ’round the stove, y’all

We go into the offseason earlier than we hoped and without the ultimate prize, so who’s coming back to ensure we get back to the Series for the third consecutive year?

…the Dodgers retain their nucleus. Hill will return for the final year of a three-year deal he signed after 2016. Justin Turner and Jansen will be back. Max Muncy, this year’s breakout star, will be back and cost-controlled. Seager is expected to be healthy. A young nucleus of position players that includes Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor, Kiké Hernández and Joc Pederson will also come back, with Andrew Toles and Alex Verdugo perhaps ready to take on bigger roles.

Kershaw or not, the rotation could post a combination of Buehler and Julio Urías that is currently a combined 45 years old.

Besides Kershaw, other free agents include Machado, Freese, Dozier, and Grandal. Despite the current dissatisfaction with Grandal,

…only J.T. Realmuto was a more valuable catcher by Baseball Prospectus’ WARP metric, and he is coming off the best offensive season of his career. He will be paid, and handsomely, as the Dodgers will look to find a catching partner to join the light-hitting Austin Barnes.

Beyond Kershaw’s decision, which must be made this week, the biggest question is whether Dave Roberts will manage the team next year. You’d think three consecutive playoff appearances and two trips to the World Series would make that question ludicrous, but baseball owners have done screwier things*.

To win the World Series, the Dodgers would have had to play better than they had for any seven-game stretch all season. Roberts would have had to nail every single decision, which he did not. Puig would have had to throw to the cutoff man, which he did not. Their pitchers would have had to pitch to their strengths, which they did not. Their hitters would have had to, well, hit.

“You have to realize that we are a really good team to get to go to the World Series two years in a row,” Kershaw said. “It might not be a personnel thing. It might just be a ‘play better’ thing.”

So, what’s next? Here are selected events from Major League Baseball’s calendar:

  • Nov. 2, 2018 Deadline for teams to extend qualifying offer to own free agents, 5 p.m. ET
  • Nov. 8-15, 2018 Japan All-Star Tour (including CT3)
  • Nov. 12, 2018 Deadline for players to accept or reject qualifying offer, 5 p.m. ET
  • Nov. 30, 2018 Non-tender deadline
  • Dec. 9-13, 2018 Winter Meetings in Las Vegas
  • Dec. 13, 2018 Rule 5 Draft

*Back in 1964 the Cardinals’ owner Gussie Busch fired the team’s entire senior management in August, leaving field manager Johnny Keane as sole survivor for the time. Shortly after the Cardinals won the World Series, Keane surprised management by resigning (and then being hired by the Yankees, who’d just lost to Keane’s former team).

Oct 28

World Series Game Five, 2018

Red Sox at Dodgers, 5:09 PM PDT, TV: Fox

The English theologian and historian Thomas Fuller appears to be the first person to commit the notion that ‘the darkest hour is just before the dawn’ to print. His religious travelogue A Pisgah-Sight Of Palestine And The Confines Thereof, 1650, contains this view:

It is always darkest just before the Day dawneth.

Kershaw for the Dodgers, Price for the Red Sox. Let’s hope it’s the great Kershaw and the bad Price in this game.

Today in Red Sox history:

  • 1951 The Red Sox trade catcher Les Moss and flychaser Tom Wright to the Browns for backstop Gus Niarhos and outfielder Ken Wood. The deal will have little impact in Boston (6th place) and in St. Louis (7th place) as both teams will finish in the second division.
  • 2007 With a 4-3 win over the Rockies at Coors Field, The Red Sox, for the second time in four years, complete a four-game sweep to win the World Series. Terry Francona becomes the first manager to win his first eight games in the Fall Classic.
  • 2007 During the middle of Game 4 of the World Series between the Red Sox and the Rockies, SI.com reports Alex Rodriguez has decided to opt out of his contract with the Yankees. The timing of the announcement and being a no-show at the game to receive the Hank Aaron Award, which honors the most outstanding offensive performer in each league, are severely criticized by fans and the media.
  • 2010 Before Game 2 of the World Series at AT&T Park, Tim Wakefield receives the Roberto Clemente Award, in recognition of his excellence as a ballplayer and his commitment to the community. The 44 year-old Red Sox starter is actively involved with “Pitching in for Kids,” a nonprofit that provides grants to improve the lives of children across New England.
  • 2013 In the fifth game of the World Series, Red Sox first baseman David Ortiz ties Billy Hatcher’s 1990 World Series record, reaching base in his ninth consecutive plate appearance. ‘Big Papi,’ the Fall Classic MVP, extends the streak that began in Game 3 with a fourth-inning single in the team’s 3-1 victory over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1953 Red Barber resigns as a Brooklyn Dodger broadcaster and will take the ‘catbird’ seat with the rival New York Yankees. The ‘Old Redhead’ is reported to have left the team because he was upset with Brooklyn owner Walter O’Malley, who refused to support him when he failed to get a higher fee from Gillette, the sponsor of the 1953 World Series on television.
  • 1981 After dropping the first two games of the Fall Classic, the Dodgers defeat the Yankees, 9-2, capturing the World Championship in six games. The victory at the Bronx ballpark marks the third time this postseason that Los Angeles will come from behind to win a series, having been down 0-2 against the Astros in the five-game strike-necessitated NLDS, and 1-2 behind the Expos in the NLCS five-game series.
  • 1981 Entering Game 6 of the World Series in the fifth inning, Yankee right-hander George Frazier, relieving starter Tommy John, gives up three go-ahead runs in the team’s 9-2 elimination loss to the Dodgers at Yankee Stadium. The 27 year-old right-hander becomes the first pitcher to lose three games in a best of seven World Series, and the second hurler to drop that many decisions in any Fall Classic, joining White Sox southpaw Lefty Williams, who also lost a trio of games in the best-of-nine series played in 1919.
  • 2012 At a press conference held before Game 4 at Detroit’s Comerica Park, Clayton Kershaw is named the recipient of the 2012 Roberto Clemente Award, an honor given to a major leaguer who demonstrates the value of helping others by his action off the field. The Dodger right-hander and his wife, Ellen, founded the Kershaw Challenge, which includes its cornerstone charity, “Arise Africa,” that helps the couple to build and sustain an orphanage in Lusaka, Zambia known as “Hope’s Home.”

Lineups when available.

Red Sox:


Dodgers:


Oct 27

World Series Game Four, 2018

This is a 1971 Commemorative Trading Card. Its text is now obsolete.


Red Sox at Dodgers, 5:09 PM PDT, TV: Fox

The Dodgers send Rich Hill to the mound tonight while Alex Cora is still puzzling over who he might start for the Red Sox.

“We’ll sit down now and we’ll go over it, and we’ll decide,” Cora said. “Somebody will start. Most likely a lefty.”

The options range from logical (Eduardo Rodriguez) to highly intriguing (Chris Sale on three days’ rest) to someone who would be utterly stunning (Pomeranz).

The Athletic recounts the Muncy tale from unemployed to Game Three hero.

Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post on momentum:

For those who wonder whether a powerful Game 3 showing by a star pitcher can swing a whole World Series, even if that ace’s team trails by two games when he takes the mound, I refer you to Game 3 of the 1978, ’81 and ’85 World Series. Ron Guidry, Fernando Valenzuela and Bret Saberhagen were the complete-game star pitchers for the Yankees, Dodgers and Royals. All three of their teams came back to win the Series.

Roberts thinks the Dodgers’ bullpen is “in pretty good shape.”

Amazing facts about Game Three.

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 2017 Yu Darvish has his first bad outing of the postseason, giving up four runs in 1 2/3 innings in Game Three of the World Series. The Dodgers couldn’t come back against the Astros’ Lance McCullers and Brad Peacock and fell behind two games to one.

Today in Red Sox’ history:

  • 2013 Johnny Gomes hit a three-run homer off the Cardinals’ Lance Lynn in the sixth inning and the Red Sox won Game Four of the World Series.

Lineups when available.

Dodgers:


Red Sox:


Oct 26

World Series Game Three, 2018


Red Sox at Dodgers, 5:09 PM PDT, TV: Fox

The visiting Sox send RHP Rick Porcello (17-7, 4.28 ERA) to the Dodger Stadium mound to face the Dodgers’ RHP Walker Buehler (8=5, 2.62 ERA). Porcello has made several relief appearances in this postseason as well as two starts, and he’s 1-0 with a 4.22 ERA. Buehler is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in his three starts this postseason. He started Game Seven of the NLCS and gave up one run on a homer by Yelich in the 4 2/3 innings he worked.

Which Dodgers are hitting well in the postseason and which are not?

From The Athletic:

…37 percent of the 38 teams to return home down 0-2 in a World Series battled back to tie the Series by Game 4. That doesn’t mean the odds are in L.A.’s favor, but the history is more favorable than you might expect.

This will be the third time this postseason Buehler has started “the most important game” for his team.

Today in Red Sox’ history:

  • 1934 While Washington Senators player-manager Joe Cronin honeymoons with Mildred Robertson, owner Clark Griffith’s niece and adopted daughter, he is sold to Red Sox.
  • 2004 Pedro Martinez, Mike Timlin and Keith Foulke combine on a four-hitter to lead the Red Sox to a 4-1 victory in Game Three of the World Series.
  • 2013 The St. Louis Cardinals defeat the Boston Red Sox to lead the MLB 2013 World Series 2-1

Today in Dodgers’ history: They’ve never played a game on October 26 until this year.

Lineups when available.

Dodgers:


Red Sox:


Oct 24

World Series Game Two, 2018

Dodgers at Red Sox, 5:09 PM PDT, TV: Fox

LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu pitches for the Dodgers v. LHP David Price of the Red Sox. Ryu pitched well in the NLDS but not so well in the NLCS, in which he made two starts and gave up seven runs in 7 1/3 innings. Price didn’t get the win, but for the first time in one of his postseason starts his team did, in Game Five of the ALCS.

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1951 Former Reds and Dodger owner Larry MacPhail suggests there should be four new major leagues, including one located on the West Coast. The innovative baseball executive, responsible for introducing night baseball and commercial air travel, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1978.
  • 2017 The Dodgers win Game One of the World Series 3-1 behind Clayton Kershaw’s strong seven innings.

Today in Red Sox’ history:

  • 2007 In a 13-1 rout of the Rockies, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia becomes the second player and first rookie to hit a leadoff home run in a World Series opener. The 24 year-old freshman, the 31st major leaguer to homer in his first Fall Classic appearance, joins Orioles’ outfielder Don Buford, who went yard in 1969 as a leadoff batter in Game 1 off Tom Seaver of the Mets.
  • 2013 The Cardinals defeat the Red Sox 4-2 in Game Two of the World Series behind Michael Wacha.

Lineups when available.

Dodgers:


Red Sox:


Oct 23

World Series Game One, 2018

Dodgers at Red Sox, 5:09 PM PDT, TV: Fox

As we all know by now, the only time these teams have met in a World Series was way back in 1916, when the Dodgers’ stars were named Zach Wheat, Casey Stengel, Jake Daubert, Rube Marquard, Nap Rucker and Chief Meyers. They also employed Fred Merkle (yes, that Fred Merkle). The Red Sox had guys named Babe Ruth, Ernie Shore, Carl Mays, Duffy Lewis and Harry Hooper.

Today’s game will pit the Dodgers’ LHP Clayton Kershaw and the Red Sox’ LHP Chris Sale against one another. This will be Kershaw’s second appearance in the World Series (2017) and Sale’s first. Kershaw is a year older than Sale and started in the big leagues in 2008; he’s got a career record of 153-69 with a 2.39 ERA. Sale started in the big leagues two years later and has a career record of 103-62 with a 2.89 ERA.

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1945 Dodger President Branch Rickey announces that the team has signed two black players, shortstop Jackie Robinson and pitcher Johnny Wright, to play with Brooklyn’s Triple A team in Montreal. The 26 year-old Negro League infielder will be the first black player to play in organized baseball since 1884.
  • 1951 The Associated Press selects Giants skipper Leo Durocher as the Manager of the Year. Under his leadership, the Giants rallied from a 13 1/2-game deficit in mid-August to win the pennant, beating the Dodgers in a three-game playoff series best remembered for Bobby Thomson’s fabled home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of the deciding game at the Polo Grounds.
  • 1993 Mike Piazza, the sixty-second round pick of the 1988 draft, is the BBWAA’s unanimous choice for the Rookie of the Year award in the National League. The Dodger catcher is the first player to hit over .300 (.318), connect for more than 30 homers (35), and drive in at least 100 runs (112) in the Senior Circuit as a freshman since Wally Berger accomplished the feat in his initial major league season with the Braves in 1930.
  • 1998 Davey Johnson is hired to manage the second-place Dodgers, taking over the reins from Bill Russell. The former Mets, Reds, and Orioles skipper, who has finished first with every team he has ever led, will see his streak end in LA when he compiles a 163- 161 (.503) record.

Today in Red Sox’ history:

  • 1986 In Game 5 of the World Series played at Fenway Park, Bruce Hurst throws a complete game to beat the Mets, 4-2, earning his second victory of the Fall Classic and bringing the team within one victory of ending their 68-year World Championship drought. New York will dash the Red Sox Nation’s hopes with two come-from-behind victories at Shea Stadium.
  • 2004 The Red Sox begin a four-game sweep of the Cardinals in the World Series with an 11-9 win.
  • 2013 The Red Sox win Game One of a World Series in which they’ll defeat the Cardinals in six games behind Jon Lester’s 7 2/3 innings of scoreless five-hit ball.

Lineups when available.

Dodgers:


Red Sox: