Feb 12

Spring Training begins this week

To get into the mood, Houston Mitchell of the Times is listing the results of a readers’ poll which asked “Who are the 10 Greatest Dodgers of All Time?”

I received 8,382 ballots from newsletter readers who responded to send me their choices as the top 10 Dodgers of all time. Points were assigned based on ranking, with the first-place choice getting 12 points, second place getting 10, third place eight, down to one point for 10th place. After tabulating the ballots, I will be presenting the top 25 in points. We will be counting down Nos. 25-11, one each weekday, for the next three weeks. Then we will time the top 10 so No. 1 unveils on March 29, the day the season opens.

Click the link to see who #25 is.

The Cubs wanted Yu Darvish enough to pay him $126 million over six years. Obviously the Dodgers didn’t want to pay that much for that long. I suspect it was the length of the contract more than the dollars which gave the Dodgers pause.

Kenley Jansen and Alex Wood are both ready for spring training:



Jan 28

Could collusion happen again?

Kenley Jansen is wondering that. He suggested that there may even need to be a strike to unlock the free-agent market, which so far this off-season has seen “eight of the top 10 free agents from MLB Trade Rumors’ top 50 list…still in search of teams for 2018.”

But is it collusion or is it smarter front offices which has made offers so rare? Jay Jaffe of SI.com analyzed the top 20 of the Top 50 free agents first identified in November. He suggests

Of the seven pitchers, four had Tommy John surgery within the last three years, and all hit the disabled list at least once, with Arrieta the only one not to miss at least a month due to an arm injury. Of the 13 position players, just two will start the 2018 season still in their twenties. Only two rank among the top five at their positions in three-year WAR, while five were in the lower half of qualifiers.

As he says, if he can figure this out with a little effort, the analytical teams in each front office can do the same.

If I were a player who’d been counting on at least one big payoff in salary and length of contract in my career and had finally reached free agency, I’d be feeling a little annoyed and a little worried right now.

Of course, it could be both smarter front offices and collusion.

Jun 30

Game 82, 2017

Dodgers at Padres, 7:10 PM PT, TV: SPNLA, FSSD, MLBN (out-of-market only)

Lefty Alex Wood (8-0, 1.86 ERA) pitches for the Dodgers and YALHP Clayton Richard (5-7, 4.42 ERA) takes the hill for the Padres.

Wood is having the best year of his career, partly because he’s making batters hit the ball on the ground 66.2 percent of the time. Richard is no slouch; he’s getting ground balls 60.1 percent of the time.

RBI asked “When a third strike is dropped by the catcher, why must the runner be thrown out at first?” This SABR article explains the origins and reasons.

The three-strike rule in 1845 takes this form: “Three balls being struck at and missed and the last one caught, is a hand out; if not caught is considered fair, and the striker bound to run.”

There’s lots more interesting history there. Read the whole article.

Kenley Jansen wants to be “the Kershaw of the bullpen.”

“He’s the guy here,” Jansen said. “Me, in my role in the bullpen, I’m the same thing, I’m the ace and the leader in my department. I have to take care of my responsibility.”

Seager’s not hurt, just easing back in to the day-to-day.

This date in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1962 Sandy Koufax becomes the first Dodger southpaw to throw a no-hitter since Nap Rucker accomplished the feat in 1908 when he keeps the expansion Mets hitless in the team’s 5-0 victory in Los Angeles. The 26 year-old left-hander, en route to fanning 13, strikes out the first three batters he faces – Richie Ashburn, Rod Kanehl, and Felix Mantilla, on nine pitches to start the game with an immaculate inning.

     

  • 1973 With an 8-7 extra-inning loss to L.A. at Riverfront Stadium, the Reds finish the day 11 games behind the first-place Dodgers. Led by the eventual National League MVP Pete Rose, who will win the batting title with a .338 average, Cincinnati will go on a 60-26 tear to capture the Western Division by 3.5 games.
  • 1985 Pedro Guerrero ties a major league record by hitting 15 home runs in June when he goes deep off Bruce Sutter in his final at bat of the month. The eighth inning two-run round-tripper will prove to be the difference in the Dodgers’ 4-3 victory over Atlanta at Chavez Ravine.
  • 1997 Rangers’ hurler Bobby Witt becomes the first American League pitcher to hit a home run in a regular-season game in nearly 25 years. His round tripper off Ismael Valdes helps Texas to beat the Dodgers in interleague action, 3-2.

Lineup when available.

Mar 29

Freeway Series begins

The Dodgers and Angels put on their annual Freeway Series three-game show to end spring training for both teams starting Friday night. Opening Day is Monday, April 3 against the Padres at Dodger Stadium.

Brandon McCarthy earned the #4 spot in the rotation. He’ll be preceded by Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill and followed by Hyun-jin Ryu. At least that’s the plan today.

Roberts added that Alex Wood, a finalist for the rotation, would share the long relief role with Ross Stripling. Rounding out the bullpen are closer Kenley Jansen, set-up man Sergio Romo, Grant Dayton, Luis Avilan and Chris Hatcher.

Barnes will likely be the backup catcher, although that’s not been formally announced. Kiké Hernandez hurt his wrist the other day and is questionable for the backup infielder spot until he shows it’s healed. If he can’t go, it’ll probably be Chris Taylor, and that might mean Van Slyke stays up too, since he can play center field and Taylor doesn’t. Additionally,

The Dodgers trimmed the roster before leaving Arizona on Wednesday, sending out seven players. Infielder Rob Segedin was optioned and reassigned were outfielders Tyler Holt and O’Koyea Dickson, pitcher Brandon Morrow, first basemen Cody Bellinger and Ike Davis, and infielder Charlie Culberson.

Nov 03

Now the offseason has officially begun

And it starts with the announcement that nine Dodgers are officially free agents. Justin Turner and Kenley Jansen top the list, followed by by starting pitchers Rich Hill and Brett Anderson, relievers Joe Blanton, J.P. Howell and Jesse Chavez, outfielder Josh Reddick and second baseman Chase Utley. Scott Kazmir and Carlos Ruiz could join the list depending on their respective opt-outs.

My personal opinion? Keeping Turner and Jansen should be management’s first priority. After that it’s mixed. I doubt they’ll keep Utley. I think I’d keep Blanton and Howell, I’d try to keep Hill, and I’d watch Reddick and Chavez go.

What do you think?

Jun 16

Game 68, 2016

Brewers at Dodgers, 7:10PM PT, TV: SPNLA, FSWI

The Brewers open up a four-game series with the Dodgers tonight, sending righthander Junior Guerra (3-1, 3.31 ERA) out to face the Dodgers’ Scott Kazmir (5-3, 4.52 ERA). Kazmir walked five in his last start against the Giants and left after just five innings, but he’s won his last three decisions. Fun fact: when he throws his first pitch tonight Kazmir will become one of the small number of pitchers who have faced all thirty MLB teams over their careers. In other milestone news, Jansen’s save last night was his 161st as a Dodger. That ties Eric Gagne for most ever by a Dodger reliever.

The Brewers’ Braun (OF) and Lucroy (C) have both been mentioned in trade rumors. I can’t see the Dodgers wanting Braun, but they might want a catcher who’s less vulnerable to injury than Grandal has shown himself to be over his 160 games in a Dodgers uniform.

Lineup:

This is Venable’s first start in Dodger blue.

Dec 07

Winter meetings

Update: The Chapman trade is on hold until MLB finishes a domestic violence investigation of an incident involving Chapman and his girlfriend in October. It’s not pretty, although the police filed no charges.

Police interviewed multiple people, including Chapman, Chapman’s girlfriend, her brother and a man identified as Chapman’s driver, according to the report. No arrests were made “due to conflicting stories and a lack of cooperation from all parties involved,” the report said.

On Day One of the meetings the Dodgers have already traded for Aroldis Chapman, sending two prospects to the Reds. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Corey Seager, Julio Urias and Jose De Leon are not in the deal.

As the article suggests, getting an elite closer in a trade means your current elite closer may have some bad feelings, understandably so. What they’re going to do, or try to do, with Kenley Jansen is still up in the air.

Earlier in the day the Dodgers signed 34-year-old right-handed starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, a free agent who’d been with the Mariners for four years. Interestingly, he’s thrown fewer pitches in his career than Greinke, who’s three years younger.

They also signed 37-year-old infielder Chase Utley to a one-year deal for $7M, about half what he made last year, a season in which he never fully recovered from an ankle injury he suffered in January.

Jun 04

Game 54, 2015

Cardinals at Dodgers, 7:10PM PT, TV: SPNLA

It’s a pitching rematch of last Saturday’s game featuring the Cards’ Michael Wacha versus the Dodgers’ Carlos Frias. Frias won the first game 5-1, going seven innings and giving up just that (unearned) run. Wacha gave up just three hits but four earned runs, including a three-run homer to Yasmani Grandal in the sixth which chased him. It was Wacha’s only loss of the season so far: he’s 7-1 with a 2.27 ERA. Frias is 4-2 with a 4.29 ERA.

Regarding Kenley Jansen’s non-appearance in last night’s ninth inning, Mattingly said repeatedly “he just wasn’t available.”

Update:

I think Vassegh co-hosts Dodger Talk on AM570 radio in LA.

Lineup:

May 15

Game 35, 2015

Rockies at Dodgers, 7:10PM PT, TV: SPNLA

Clayton Kershaw goes for victory number 100 for the fifth time. His last time out he was roughed up (or nibbled to death) by the Rockies for five runs in 5 1/3 innings. He didn’t figure in the decision as the Dodgers recovered to win 9-5 at Coors Field. His opponent will be Eddie Butler, who pitched and lost the rain-shortened game last week, also at Coors.

The Dodgers could activate Kenley Jansen as early as today. Whether he’s immediately thrown into the closer role is up in the air.

Sports Illustrated has a nice story about the Dodgers’ defense and how it’s improved, particularly with Joc Pederson in center field.

Lineup when available.