Feb 14

Scully “slams” Piazza!

Steve Dilbeck at the LAT has dug up the incriminating KTLA interview Vin did with Mike Piazza before he was traded to Florida which Piazza has claimed permanently damaged Piazza’s reputation with the LA fans. I dunno, but I don’t hear Vin saying anything which Piazza objected to at the time, and certainly nothing which would have sent the fans into fits of outrage.

Update:

PRIME TICKET will televise games Feb. 25 against the Cubs, Feb. 28 against the Angels, March 7 against Texas and March 18 against Arizona. Scully will be at the microphone for all four games. The Dodgers previously announced that Scully would handle KCAL 9 games on March 17 against Milwaukee and March 26 against Colorado.

Feb 12

Pitchers & Catchers Report

If there’s a more magical phrase than that to a baseball fan, it can only be “Game Seven.”

Anyway, the Dodgers’ Spring Training Camp in Arizona opens today for those two groups of players. The rest of the team arrives on Saturday. Here’s the official schedule.

Chad Moriyama has several wonderful pictures at his place, including ones of the Dodgers’ spring training caps (!). Gotta maximize revenue opportunities, I guess, but specific caps for training camp?

I’m preoccupied with a new dog, but I’ll start up the blog in earnest as the whole squad gets to Camelback Ranch, honest.

Bonus Training Coverage: The Vatican (!) just released video of John Paul II taking batting practice from 1987 while on an American tour. This took place in California.

Note: There’s some speculation as to whether that’s really Pope John Paul II, based on the English fluency of the hitter and the lack of interest the spectators are taking in his swings. Who knows? It’s a fun video.

Update: Jon found this article at Fox Sports about our new #2 guy Greinke. Apparently he’s a pretty decent judge of baseball talent; so says his previous manager with the Brewers, and Ned Colletti agrees. Greinke met with Stan Kasten, Colletti and Mattingly before signing and they talked baseball:

“The conversation went three hours and could easily have gone longer,” Colletti said. “We talked about our draft — he knew Seager. We asked him to go through our lineup, and he went through all of our hitters’ strengths and weaknesses.

“I looked at Donnie, he looked at me. Zack was dead on.”

That’s kind of fun to know.

Feb 01

New fan rewards program announced

For those who live a little closer to Dodger Stadium than I, this might be of interest to you.

The Dodgers on Thursday announced the launch of a comprehensive engagement program that will reward fans for supporting the club online, via social media and at Dodger Stadium. The free Dodgers Rewards program is the first of its kind in Major League Baseball and offers fans the chance to win prizes by supporting the team through an array of digital activities, including merchandise purchases online, checking into games through MLB.com’s At the Ballpark mobile app and interacting online at dodgers.com and on the Dodgers’ official Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

[snip]

“We are creating an interactive rewards portal for all things Dodgers,” said Lon Rosen, the Dodgers’ executive vice president and chief marketing officer. “Being a sports fan is about passion and competition, and we believe through this platform we are entering the next phase of fan loyalty with the ultimate goal of rewarding our fans for their support.”

The first prizes include game tickets to the April 1 game with the Giants and an autographed baseball from Sandy Koufax.

Update: One of the commenters at MSTI sent along a super picture of the Dodger Stadium rehab project as it looks this week.

Update: Chad Moriyama has thoughts on the 2013 projection of results by Dan Szymborski‘s ZiPS system, which I confess I’ve never heard of. Moriyama thinks the system has some surprises on the low side but is overall pretty good at guesstimating how the Dodgers’ 2013 roster will perform.

Jan 22

Dodger TV deal done

It’s with Time-Warner, and terms won’t be announced till Thursday.

The Dodgers have agreed with Time Warner Cable on a new television contract that will provide the team with a channel of its own, according to two people familiar with the deal but not authorized to discuss it.

Time Warner Cable now has secured the television rights to the two most popular teams in Los Angeles — the Dodgers and the Lakers — within two years.

The Dodgers’ deal is expected to be finalized and announced Thursday. The team has not yet submitted the deal to Major League Baseball for approval, but the control of the channel is expected to rest with the Dodgers’ owners rather than with Time Warner.

Presumably it pays the team enough to cover its payroll.

In other equally welcome news, Sandy Koufax will return to Spring Training to work with the Dodgers’ pitchers.

Update: The TV deal has now been confirmed. There may be some differences with MLB as to how much of the money the Dodgers receive is subject to revenue sharing:

The new ownership group, which bought the team out of bankruptcy court in April 2012 for a record $2.1 billion, said it has created a company called American Media Productions that will start broadcasting Dodgers games in 2014 on a channel called SportsNet LA. Time Warner Cable, the largest carrier in the area, will be the network’s first distributor.

Although terms were not disclosed, the SportsBusiness Journal calls it a 25-year deal worth $7 billion.

“We concluded last year that the best way to give our fans what they want — more content and more Dodger baseball — was to launch our own network,” Dodgers chairman Mark Walter said in a statement. “The creation of AMP will provide substantial financial resources over the coming years for the Dodgers to build on their storied legacy and bring a world championship home to Los Angeles.”

The deal is subject to approval by Major League Baseball, and one baseball source privy to the negotiations told ESPN.com the team and the league could very well butt heads regarding exactly how much of the deal will be shared with other teams.

The other question yet to be answered is “how big a carriage fee will Time Warner pay to AMP for the rights to show the Dodgers’ games and other content and how much will Time Warner turn around and charge its mostly-captive subscribers?”

Jan 11

Spring training’s a month away

Here’s a video of Dodgers VP for planning and development Janet Marie Smith talking about the stadium renovations.

At ESPN LA Mark Saxon points out that on the day camp opens the Dodgers have six veteran relief pitchers, four utility/bench players, eight starting position players and seven starting pitchers. That’s a far cry from the last few years when there were deals for starting pitchers being done seemingly up to Opening Day. Presumably they’ll deal a starter, hopefully for a fourth outfielder. Saxon gets off a good line, noting that there are a bunch of players whose health is best described as “improving.”

Trainer Sue Falsone might have more interesting media sessions than manager Don Mattingly.

Should we start getting excited yet?

Update: ESPN has released the Sunday Night Baseball schedule through July 21, and the May 5 Dodgers – Giants game at AT&T Park is included on the list. As David Pinto points out, there’s only one Yankees – Red Sox game on the schedule, which is a welcome change as far as I’m concerned. The Angels have two games scheduled, at Texas and the White Sox.

Update: Jon has some parting thoughts about both Stan Musial and Earl Weaver at the old site.

Dec 08

Christmas is a little early, if. . .

If, that is, the stories in the press (USA Today earlier and Sports Illustrated now) are accurate, and the Dodgers have indeed come to an agreement with Zack Greinke on a six-year, $147M deal.

It is the highest average annual value for a pitcher ($24.5 million) and the highest total value for any right-handed pitcher ($147 million). The Dodgers become the first National League club to exceed a $200 million player payroll ($210 million and counting for active players next year, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts)

I wonder what value they’re going to put on Clayton Kershaw when he comes up for a new contract. His deal calls for an $11M salary this year, after which he’s arbitration-eligible in 2014 and a free agent in 2015. Kershaw might say to himself (or to management) “Hey, I’m the ace of this staff and I’m only making half what the new guy’s getting. That’s not right.”

These extraordinarily deep pockets have to run dry at some point, don’t they?

Update: There appears to be some interest on the part of some teams in the American League in acquiring Andre Ethier. According to Ken Rosenthal at Fox,

the talks about Ethier originated from inquiries by two American League clubs, and that the Dodgers are not actively pursuing a deal.

The official adds that the renewed interest in Ethier stems from the shrinking pool of available hitters on both the free-agent and trade markets

The Dodgers have “zero intention” of trading Ethier, the official said, but will listen to offers. The discussions, to this point, have failed to progress.

Huh. Can’t see it, not after extending his contract for five years earlier this year.

Update: Elymania is no more. The young (26) pitcher has been traded to the Astros for left-handed Minor League pitcher Rob Rasmussen.

Rasmussen, 23, a native of Arcadia, Calif., and a former standout at UCLA, was the Marlins’ second-round pick in 2010. The Astros acquired him on July 4, 2012, as part of the deal that sent Carlos Lee to Miami. Rasmussen went 4-4 with a 4.80 ERA in 11 games, including 10 starts, at Double-A Corpus Christi in 2012, and is 20-21 with a 3.88 ERA in 60 career games, including 53 starts.

It could be called a case of the Dodgers finally getting their man. Los Angeles selected Rasmussen out of Polytechnic High School in Pasadena, Calif., in the 27th round of the 2007 Draft, but he opted to go to UCLA.

Nov 22

Happy Thanksgiving, Dodgers fans!

I hope you’re all enjoying your turkey/ham/prime rib dinner and giving appropriate thanks for the blessings of the year just past, not least of which was the sale of our favorite team to owners far more committed to winning championships than the previous group was.

Update: Here’s MSTI on the prospective TV deal Fox may be about to offer the Dodgers. Suffice to say (and you should read the whole thing) it could pay off the purchase price of the team several times over. Here’s Mike:

In six months, the Guggenheim group would have turned a $2.15 billion investment into a cash cow which pays three times that over the next twenty years – without selling a single ticket, parking spot, beer, or replica jersey.

That is startling, at least to me. We all knew the potential for that deal was big, given the size of the Southern California market and its value to a TV network, but still. “Between $6 billion and $7 billion over 25 years?” Wowsers.

Update: The Dodgers announced several front office personnel moves, mostly promotions from within. Here’s the paragraph that struck me, though:

Josh Bard, previously announced as a new special assistant for player development, joins Aaron Sele, Jose Vizcaino and Juan Castro in that role.

Do you supppose that position is now the entry-level front office position for newly-retired major leaguers who earned reputations as good guys during long careers?

Nov 10

Open thread #1

Update:Kuroda resigns with Yankees.

Update: R.A. Dickey wins NL Cy Young Award, Kershaw finishes second, 113 points back.

Let’s start a new thread for personnel speculation and anything else which gets our attention.

From the comments in the last thread we learn that the Dodgers have spoken to Torii Hunter about a two-year deal, or so says Mark Saxon at ESPN LA, citing an unnamed source.

Well, maybe. I can’t see a need for him. The Dodgers have Ethier in right, Kemp in center, and Crawford in left, with Hairston and possibly Tony Gwynn as backups. Why would they need a relatively expensive 37-year old, even one who just had an excellent year?

Saxon also reports that the Dodgers have paid $25.7M for the right to offer a contract to a 25-year-old Korean pitcher named Ryu Hyun-jin.

Who? Well . . .

Ryu was 98-52 with a 2.80 career ERA during seven seasons in South Korea. He pitched for his country on teams that won a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and reached the championship game of the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

The $25.7 million fee will be paid to the Eagles only if Ryu signs with the major league team.

The Dodgers have 30 days to get a deal done with the young man and his agent, who happens to be Scott Boras.

Oct 30

Nice catch

Via Jon W. on Facebook, we learn that AJ Ellis’s wife gave birth to their third child on the way to the hospital.

Yikes.

Update: The Dodgers signed Brandon League to a three-year deal. Even though League can both close and come in in the seventh or eighth, I’m not sure a three-year contract is a great idea.

Update: The Dodgers’ clubhouse in the bowels of Dodger Stadium undergoes major renovations starting next week, and Lasorda, Yeager, Cey and Lou Johnson reminisced about it before its rehab.

Update: In slightly older news, the Dodgers declined club options on Juan Rivera, Todd Coffey and Matt Treanor. I wonder if that means they plan to bring FedEx up as a backup catcher next year, or perhaps even to have him compete with AJ for the starting job.

Update: Via Roberto at Vin Scully is My Homeboy comes this rather startling news: Mark McGwire may take the hitting coach job with the Dodgers.

Mark McGwire, who has served as Cardinals hitting coach for three seasons under two managers, has informed the club that he intends to accept a similar position with the Los Angeles Dodgers, sources familiar with the situation told the Post-Dispatch this afternoon.

Though a deal between the Dodgers and McGwire is not considered final, McGwire has told the Cardinals that he does not anticipate accepting their offer of a contract extension.

Apparently McGwire’s family lives in Orange County and he’d prefer to work closer to home. He’s been on the Cardinals’ staff for three years; the conventional wisdom seems to be that he’s done a good job while there.

Update: Oh fer . . . now Guerra has had arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder ” to clean up bursitis and the acromioclavicular joint, where the top of the scapula meets the collarbone.” The team expects him to be “competitive” by the time Spring Training rolls around.

Update: Jay Jaffe suggests free agent David Ross is the Practically Perfect Backup Catcher. If the Dodgers conclude that FedEx needs another year of seasoning in the minors, maybe Ross would be a sensible acquisition.