Dec 07

Winter meetings begin Monday

Grantland’s got speculations!

Question 1. Will the Dodgers move Kemp? Grantland and the Magic 8 ball say “Can’t predict now.”

Questions 2 through 5. Who cares? The only guess about the Dodgers here is whether they’ll try hard to get one of the available starters: Lester, Hamels, Scherzer or Shields.

As Paul Harvey used to say, “Stand by…for news!”

Nov 28

Prospects now, prospects later

Throw ‘em into the fire now or give ‘em another year? It’s a question more and more teams are facing. With the Dodgers, it’s 20-year-old Cory Seager at shortstop. The cons, as determined by Richard Justice:

  • He’s 20 years old.
  • He’s played only 38 games above Class A.

The pros:

  • He’s scary good.
  • He’s passed every test so far

The Mets, Twins and Giants are facing similar decisions.

Obviously it’s a gamble. Sometimes it pays off, as when the Orioles brought up a 20-year-old named Cal Ripken in August of 1981. Probably more often than not it fails, or at least the kid has to go back down to the minors for more seasoning. Given the dearth of big league players looking for short-term deals (because the Dodgers don’t want to block Seager for years), they may decide they don’t have much choice.

Update: Vinnie turns 86 tomorrow. A couple of years ago ESPN celebrated his 84th birthday with a sequence of what it picked as his top five calls:

Nov 17

Open Thread #2

Here’s a nice story about Dodgertown in Vero Beach. It has had a checkered history since the Dodgers left in 2008. Minor League Baseball tried to run it for a while as a multi-use facility to accompany its already-obvious baseball uses, but that closed down in 2012. Then a miracle occurred!

O’Malley and his sister, Terry, feared that if the facility shuttered again it may never reopen. So the O’Malley family became owners again, with [Chan Ho] Park and Hideo Nomo, as founding partners, and re-branded the place as Historic Dodgertown. It was named a Florida landmark on Monday.

Those are some good Dodgers names, huh?

Young Mr. Puig had a good day yesterday in the Japan-MLB Series in the Tokyo Dome: he went 3 for 4 and made a diving catch in right field as well.

Nov 06

Awards season

Update: Kershaw wins Baseball Prospectus’s NL Player and Pitcher of the Year awards.

Adrian Gonzalez and Juan Uribe won Defensive Player of the Year awards at their respective positions. In addition,

Gonzalez’s honor comes one day after he won a National League Gold Glove Award for the fourth time in his career. Gonzalez also won the Fielding Bible Award as top defensive first baseman in 2014.

Gonzalez also won the 2014 Silver Slugger award for National League first basemen.

Zack Greinke won a Gold Glove for 2014 as well.

A few days ago Clayton Kershaw was awarded three Players’ Choice awards: MLB Player of the Year, National League Outstanding Pitcher and Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award. He’s the first player ever to win three Players Choice awards in one season. It’s the third time he’s won the Outstanding Pitcher award.

Today he was awarded the 2014 Warren Spahn Award for best left-handed pitcher in the major leagues. It’s the third time he’s won the Spahn award, given by the Oklahoma Sports Council in Spahn’s home state.

Nov 06

New Hires at Dodger Stadium

Thursday the Dodgers announced they hired Farhan Zaidi as general manager and Josh Byrnes as senior vice president of baseball operations. Zaidi had been with the Oakland As for the past ten years, and Byrnes has been a GM for parts of eight seasons with the Diamondbacks and Padres.

In addition, ESPNLA is reporting that

the Dodgers will hire former longtime MLB outfielder and current Fox TV analyst Gabe Kapler as the team’s farm director and Billy Gasparino as the director of amateur scouting.

Gasparino is essentially trading places with Logan White, who left the Dodgers to join the Padres last month. Padres scout Jeff Pickler also will be joining the Dodgers, likely as the team’s top talent evaluator for potential trades and free-agent acquisitions.

This is a sabremetric-friendly front office, that’s for sure.

Nov 01

Hot Stove League Talk

The Dodgers bought out Chad Billingsley’s contract for $3M, making him a free agent.

The 30-year-old Billingsley, a former All-Star, is trying to return from two arm operations. He didn’t pitch in 2014 and made only two starts in 2013 before needing Tommy John surgery. While rehabbing this year, he required surgery to repair a partially torn flexor tendon.

A first-round pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, Billingsley went 81-61 with a 3.65 ERA for the Dodgers. He won a career-high 16 games in 2008 and was an All-Star in ’09.

Billingsley becomes the seventh Dodger free agent. In addition to him, Hanley Ramirez, Paul Maholm, Chris Perez, Roberto Hernandez, Kevin Correia and Jamey Wright are also free to negotiate for new deals with any team.

Ramirez’s contract is possibly the biggest decision new boss Andrew Friedman will have to make. Do the Dodgers make him a $15.3M qualifying offer, which ensures they get something in return (a supplemental draft pick between the first and second rounds) if he rejects it and goes elsewhere? He might be worth more than that, especially if he’s willing to move to third base for a new team. The Dodgers have Uribe signed through 2015, so that’s not an option they could easily fulfill. My guess is they make the qualifying offer just to guarantee themselves a player in return when he signs with the Yankees to replace Derek Jeter.

Dan Haren picked up his $10M option to stay with the Dodgers, and Brian Wilson is expected to pick up his for the same amount. Maholm is recovering from knee surgery, Perez was lightly used down the stretch, Hernandez was mostly adequate, Correia wasn’t much help, and Jamey Wright is 40 years old with who knows how much left in his arm.

The team still has more outfielders than it knows what to do with, and it’s also got Joc Pederson pounding on the door to get in, although his cup of coffee at the end of September wasn’t very successful. Ethier and Crawford could be trade bait, but both have very large contracts. Ethier is signed through 2017 with an option for 2018; the balance of the contract is $53.5M through 2017. Crawford is still under terms of the contract he signed with the Red Sox, which has a balance of $62.5M through 2017.

It should be an interesting off-season.

Oct 29

World Series Day Seven, 2014

Giants at Royals, 2:00PM HST/5:00PM PT, TV: Fox

I wrote this at my other blog:

There’s no more dramatic phrase in sports, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve said so before and I’ll say it again: Game Seven is evocative of heroics on the field in do-or-die circumstances: Bill Mazeroski and Joe Carter’s home runs, Sid Bream’s slide, Carlos Beltran’s strikeout, Luis Gonzalez’s dribbler…so many instances of melodrama.

Tonight we see another Game Seven. It’s only the third time in 13 years the World Series has gone the full seven games and the fourth time in the last 20 years, so cherish it.

The Giants ask veteran Tim Hudson to hold the Royals in check as long as he can, and the Royals do the same with veteran Jeremy Guthrie. The Giants have Madison Bumgarner in reserve, since today would be his between-starts throw day; the Royals have their fearsome bullpen threesome, only one of whom has pitched since Game Four (Davis threw an inning in the Royals’ 5-0 Game Five loss).

I can’t wait.

Oct 28

World Series Day Six, 2014

Giants at Royals, 2:00PM HST/5:00PM PT, TV: Fox

Up three games to two, the Giants send Jake Peavy to the mound to try to win the Series for them tonight. The Royals counter with Yordano Ventura. This is a rematch of Game Two. Peavy went five innings, gave up six hits and four runs, walked two and struck out one, and took the loss. Ventura gave up two runs on eight hits with no walks and two strikeouts in a no-decision in the same game.

Is history any guide?

Although teams playing at home down 3-2 in a best-of-seven World Series (2-3-2 formats only) are just 13-16 all-time, they’ve won it all in eight of the last 10 instances, including, most recently, the 2011 Cardinals and, most appropriately, the 1985 Royals. Only four road teams have won a Game 6 since 1980 — the 2003 Marlins, 1997 Indians, ’92 Blue Jays and ’81 Dodgers.

And how about this? Going back to 1982, when the home team wins Game 6 to tie a League Championship Series or World Series, that team is 14-1 in Game 7.

I’m rooting for a Game Seven, because I don’t want baseball to end before it has to. “Pitcher and catchers report” is still four months away.

Oct 26

World Series Day Five, 2014

Royals at Giants, 2:00PM HST/5:00PM PT, TV: Fox

MadBum goes for the Giants and Big Game James goes for the Royals. It’s a rematch of Game One’s starters, one the Royals hope will turn out better than the original did. Bumgarner held the Royals to a run on three hits and a walk over seven innings in that game, while Shields gave up five runs on seven hits and a walk and was gone after three innings.

Oct 25

World Series Day Four, 2014

Royals at Giants, 2:00PM HST/5:00PM PT, TV: Fox

The Giants ask veteran Ryan Vogelsong to put a stop to the Royals’ advance, while the Royals send Jason Vargas out to give them enough innings to get to their so-far lights-out bullpen. Vogelsong had a poor outing against the Cardinals in Game Four of the NLCS, lasting only three innings while giving up four runs on seven hits in a game the Giants eventually won. But he’s been a postseason horse for them in the past, making five postseason starts in which he compiled a 3-0 record, a 1.19 ERA and a .168 batting average against. The lefty Vargas has pitched 11 1/3 innings of nearly flawless baseball in the postseason, giving up three runs on five hits and four walks against the Angels and Orioles while holding them to a .135 batting average.

A bit of history: “Holland has now recorded seven saves this postseason, tying the record for a single postseason. He joins five others — John Wetteland (1996 Yankees), Robb Nen (2002 Giants), Troy Percival (’02 Angels), Brad Lidge (’08 Phillies) and Koji Uehara (’13 Red Sox).” Some pretty good names there.