Feb 02

Open Thread #7, 2022

As if losing Seager and Scherzer and possibly Kershaw aren’t enough, now comes word that the Dodgers tried to extend RHP Walker Buehler’s contract last spring and he turned the offer down. Now, he’s under club control for another three years, hard as that may be to believe, but he’s in line for big raises through arbitration in each of the next two years, and by the time he hits free agency he’ll be about to enter his age-30 season in 2025. What if Turner, Kershaw, Bellinger and Urias are gone by that point? All of them will have completed their current contracts by that season. Will the team want to spend millions on one pitcher if the entire roster has been depleted?

Or maybe their roster will have been reloaded by then, given their Baseball American farm system ranking of #8. But is that a good bet?

The future is occasionally scary to contemplate.

Jan 18

Open Thread #6, 2022

The Dodgers announced a passel of front office moves today.

The Dodgers announced multiple front office moves Tuesday, including the promotion of former Vice President, Assistant General Manager Brandon Gomes to General Manager.

In addition, the Dodgers promoted Alex Slater to Vice President, Assistant General Manager, Brandon McDaniel to Vice President of Player Performance and Thomas Albert to Head Athletic Trainer. Damon Jones has also joined the Dodger front office as Vice President, Assistant General Manager & Baseball Legal Counsel.

Gomes, 37, becomes the 12th general manager in Dodgers history and the first since Farhan Zaidi departed to become the Giants’ President of Baseball Operations in November 2018.

Two Brandons, huh?

Jan 03

Open Thread #5, 2022

The lockout continues. CBS Sports says there are four things fans should know as the new year begins:

  • 1. Talks should get serious in January
    “owners and the union before the new year were set to discuss matters of relatively lesser importance. That’s notable because at the very least discussions took place…”

  • 2. Those ‘core economics’ are complicated
    “…the average player salary has declined in the face of ever-soaring franchise values, the union wants to remake the economic structure of the game. The players’ wish list is too expansive to be addressed in a single CBA negotiation, but you should expect that their energies will be focused on getting young players paid more and paid sooner.

    Younger players in terms of on-field value are, as a group, better than older players, but the antiquated salary structure, which is driven by tenure rather than capability, doesn’t reflect that. Right now, almost all players are entitled to no more than the major-league minimum until they have three years of MLB service time, at which point they become eligible for arbitration. To put a damning point on it, AL MVP finalist Vladimir Guerrero Jr. made just $605,400 this season (compared to the current minimum salary of $570,500), which means he was underpaid relative to his production by tens of millions of dollars.

  • 3. The players may have some leverage for the time being
    Negotiations leading up to the COVID-shortened 2020 season served to galvanize the players, and the mass of signings leading up to the owner lockout means less uncertainty for several high-profile free agents. All of that, in turn, makes it less likely that there will be divisions within the ranks of players. Beyond those factors, veteran players like union rep Max Scherzer sound fully committed to fighting for the rights of younger and less tenured players during these negotiations. That means fewer class schisms that management can exploit.

  • 4. Time will soon be running short
    Should we get into the second week of February or thereabouts without a deal, then the possibility of a compromised spring training becomes a concern. This again plays into the leverage that players may have right now. Spring training games at sites in Arizona and Florida have become a profit center for teams, and they don’t want to lose those games. Players, meantime, don’t start getting checks until the regular season begins. So the prospect of a shortened spring training figures to increase pressure on the league side to get a deal done.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers pulled off a rather unusual signing this weekend

Taking a swing at improving their middle infield, the Dodgers have signed Eddy Alvarez, known as a Miami Marlins Quad-A prospect … but more prominently known as a USA Baseball silver medalist and a decorated speed skater from the 2014 Sochi games.

[snip]

Alvarez also got his most extended big-league run with the Marlins during the 2021 season, too.

In 24 games, split between third and second base, Alvarez hit .188 while cracking his first home run at the MLB level. He doesn’t offer much on the defensive end, grading out as below-average at third, the spot he spent the majority of his reps.

Just getting to the big leagues is nothing to sneeze at, of course. Getting to the big leagues after winning silver on the rink? Now that’s really something.

No need to treat this as some sort of token reward, though. Alvarez mashed at the minor-league level last season, posting an .865 OPS in 31 games at Triple-A (.423 OBP). He earned his keep, and will now be getting a fresh chance in one of baseball’s model organizations.

Dec 03

Open Thread #3, 2021

As it stands, Max Scherzer and Corey Seager have left the Dodgers for greener pastures. Kenley Jansen may have found several teams willing to give him a longer term contract than the Dodgers are. They did re-sign Chris Taylor. Trea Turner can slide from second base to shortstop, where he’s played most of his MLB career. They’re hoping Max Muncy returns to full health, but he admitted earlier in the week that he’d torn his UCL in that last game and he wasn’t healing as quickly as he’d like.

They need starting pitching; right now they have Walker Buehler and Julio Urías. They need to re-sign Clayton Kershaw not just for sentimental reasons but because he’s still a very good starter. Their other starters include David Price and Tony Gonsolin and possibly newly-signed Andrew Heaney, whom they believe they can help improve and reduce his tendency to give up home runs.

Heaney has allowed home runs at a higher-than-average clip in three of the past four years, and he was among the game’s most homer-prone arms this past season. The former first-round pick allowed 2.01 HR per nine innings in 2021, a rate eclipsed by just five other hurlers (minimum 100 IP).

On the free agent market, the best starting pitching remaining includes Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Carlos Rodón. Trading for starters is another option, of course. And they’re waiting for Dustin May to rehabilitate from Tommy John surgery.

The lockout precludes any activities by teams or players until a new collective bargaining agreement is completed, so we may be in limbo for a while.

Sep 15

Game 49, 2020

Dodgers at Padres, 6:10 PM PDT, TV: FSSD, SPNLA

RHP Tony Gonsolin (0-1, 1.57 ERA) gets back to his starting role after an unexpected stint in relief of Dustin May after May’s foot injury last Thursday. He’ll face RHP Zach Davies (7-2, 2.48 ERA), who is apparently the changeup artist in all of baseball, using it to great effect: opponents are hitting .175 against it.

Highlights of yesterday’s game are few, so here’s the postseason schedule instead.

The best-of-three Wild Card Series, best-of-five Division Series and best-of-seven League Championship Series will each take place without any off-days in between games. Teams will have to decide whether to use the traditional five-man rotation, or utilize four starting pitchers, with the potential for as many as three of them pitching on short rest.

Each series will be preceded by at least one off-day, though more are possible depending on when other series are completed.

The 116th World Series is slated to start with Game 1 on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at Globe Life Field in Arlington. A potential Game 7 is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 28.

The Dodgers have activated IF Justin Turner and optioned RHP Josh Sborz.

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1946 In Brooklyn, a giant swarm of gnats engulfs Ebbets Field at the end of the fifth inning of the second game of a doubleheader. The nightcap is called due to the bothersome insects and the impending darkness, resulting in a 2-0 Dodger victory over the Cubs.
  • 1950 At Ebbets Field, Cardinal starter Cloyd Boyer hurts his arm while warming up and is replaced by Red Munger. The reliever goes the distance, beating the Dodgers, 6-2, getting credit for a complete game, but not for a game started.
  • 1978 Don Sutton, in front of 47,188 fans at Dodger Stadium, throws a six-hitter to beat Atlanta, 5-0. Los Angeles, with tonight’s attendance, becomes the major league first team in history to draw three million fans at home.
  • 1995 Ozzie Smith takes part in the 1,554th twin killing of his career to set a new big league record for double plays. The Cardinals’ shortstop’s wizardry isn’t enough to prevent the Redbirds’ 7-6 loss to the Dodgers at Busch Stadium.

Lineup when available.

Aug 20

Game 27, 2020

Dodgers at Mariners, 4:10 PM PDT, TV: MLBN (out-of-market only), ROOTNW, SPNLA

LHP Clayton Kershaw (2-1, 2.65 ERA) pitches for the Dodgers, while LHP Yusei Kikuchi (0-1, 5.28 ERA) does the same for the Mariners. Kershaw’s last start was vintage: one hit and one run allowed over seven innings with no walks and 6 Ks. Kikuchi missed his last start with neck spasms, but he’s apparently recovered. The 29-year-old is in just his second year in MLB after 9 years in the Japanese and Australian leagues, where he compiled a 79-59 W-L record with a very good 2.85 ERA.

Yesterday’s high (and low) lights:

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1945 Dodger shortstop Tommy Brown becomes the youngest player (17 years, eight months, and 14 days) in major league history to hit a home run. The round-tripper by ‘Buckshot,’ who started his career as a 16 year-old high school student, will be the only run Brooklyn scores off 30 year-old Pirates southpaw Preacher Roe, who goes the distance in the 11-1 rout of the home team at Ebbets Field.
  • 1974 In an 18-8 rout of the Cubs, the Dodgers collect 24 hits and set a club record with 48 total bases, including Davey Lopes’ three home runs, double, and single. The Dodger second baseman’s 15 total bases are the most ever for a leadoff hitter.
  • 1978 In the visitors’ clubhouse at Shea Stadium, Dodger Blue becomes black and blue when Steve Garvey confronts teammate Don Sutton about a Washington Post story in which the pitcher is critical of him. After the right-hander confirms he had made the comments, the argument becomes physical when he makes an inappropriate remark about the first baseman’s wife.

Lineup:

Jul 30

Game 7, 2020

I get an email notice whenever anyone comments on this blog (excluding my own). I cleaned up the mailbox tonight, deleting 17,256 comments from January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2019.

And we didn’t even GO to the second round of the playoffs or the World Series last year!

Dodgers at Diamondbacks, 6:40 PM PDT, TV: FS-A, SPNLA

Fresh off a satisfying two-game sweep of the Astros, the Dodgers send RHP Ross Stripling (1-0, 1.29 ERA) to the mound in Chase Field to face the Diamondbacks’ LHP Robbie Ray (0-1, 7.36 ERA). Stripling was impressive in seven innings against the Giants on July 24, giving up just one run. Ray had a horrible opening against the Padres, throwing 97 pitches in 3 2/3 innings and giving up a 3-run HR to Wil Myers.

Here’s Edwin Rios’s go-ahead HR in the 13th inning of last night’s game in Houston:

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 2004 In a blockbuster trade, the Marlins deal Brad Penny, the winner of two World Series games last season, first baseman Hee Seop Choi, and southpaw prospect Bill Murphy (who will be traded to the Diamondbacks tomorrow) to the Dodgers for backstop Paul Lo Duca, relief pitcher Guillermo Mota, and much-traveled outfielder Juan Encarnacion.
  • 2017 Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre collects his 3000th hit when he doubles in the fourth inning in the Rangers’ 10-6 loss to the Orioles at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The twenty-year veteran, who has also spent time with the Dodgers, Mariners, and the Red Sox, is the first-ever Dominican-born player to reach the coveted milestone.

Lineup when available.

Jul 28

Game 5, 2020

Dodgers at Astros, 6:10 PM PDT, TV: ATT SportsNet-SW, FS1, SPNLA

The Dodgers’ RHP Walker Buehler makes his first start of the season. Also making his first start of the year is the Astros’ LHP Framber Valdez, who’s in his second full season in the big leagues.

This will be the first meeting between the two teams since the Astros’ sign-stealing methods of 2017 were revealed in the off-season.

A number of Astros players and coaches apologized when spring camps opened in February, but many, including Dodgers center fielder and reigning National League MVP Award winner Cody Bellinger, were critical of the team’s response.

[snip]

Many of the core players [from the 2017 World Series] on both sides remain the same, including Bellinger, Corey Seager, Justin Turner and Kenley Jansen for the Dodgers, and José Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer and Alex Bregman for the Astros.

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1991 Expos right-hander Dennis Martinez pitches a perfect game, defeating Los Angeles 2-0 at Dodger Stadium. Ron Hassey becomes the first backstop to ever catch two perfect games, as he also was behind the plate on May 15, 1981 when Indian hurler Len Barker faced 27 batters, beating the Blue Jays, 3-0.
  • 2017 Alex Wood won his twelfth game against just one loss, going seven innings while giving up eight hits and four runs to the Giants. The Dodgers came from behind with four runs in the seventh and won 6-4.

Lineup when available.

Aug 24

Game 131, 2019

Yankees at Dodgers, 1:10 PM PDT, TV: SPNLA, YES

Unless these two teams meet in the World Series, this will be the Yankees’ retiring LHP CC Sabathia’s (5-7, 5.01 ERA) last appearance at Dodger Stadium. He has made two other appearances at Chavez Ravine, going 1-0 with a 1.20 ERA. In his last start he went just three innings, giving up four runs on four hits in his return from a month on the IL. Sabathia will face the Dodgers’ RHP Tony Gonsolin (1-1, 3.00 ERA), who bobbed and weaved for four innings in his last start against Atlanta but gave up only one run.

The Dodgers have recalled Austin Barnes and placed Russell Martin on the bereavement list.

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1941 During a double-header against the Cardinals, a rag-tag group of five ‘musicians’, dubbed the Dodger SymPhony by announcer Red Barber, makes their Ebbets Field’s debut. This band, in which none of the members can read music, performs their zany antics at all evening and weekend games.
  • 1955 A telegram sent to Brooklyn president Walter O’Malley by the Patchogue Chamber of Commerce offers the team “thirty acres or more of dry flat land in open country in the heart of Long Island’s densest Dodger fan concentration.” The village’s attempt to attract the fleeing franchise to the south shore of Suffolk County will not materialize, and the club, after exploring many different venues as an alternative to Ebbets Field, will leave the East Coast in 1958 to play in Los Angeles.
  • 1957 The Dodgers, in a 13-3 loss to Milwaukee at Ebbets Field, use eight pitchers in one game, tying a major league record. Johnny Podres gives up three home runs in the fourth frame when Nippy Jones, Hank Aaron, and Andy Pafko all go deep off the Brooklyn starter.
  • 1960 During a dull game, Vin Scully, the play-by-play voice of the Dodgers, knowing that many fans in the stands follow the game on transistor radios, asks his listeners to help him surprise third base umpire Frank Secory. His ballpark audience responds when the veteran broadcaster tells them, “Let’s have some fun. As soon as the inning is over I’ll count to three, and on three everybody yell, ‘Happy birthday, Frank!'”
  • 1974 Davey Lopes steals five bases, tying a National League record established in 1904 by Giants first baseman Dan McGann. The Dodger second baseman’s quintet of stolen bags adds to the team’s franchise mark of eight stolen bases in their 3-0 victory over the Redbirds at Chavez Ravine.
  • 1975 Davey Lopes steals his major league record 38th consecutive base, but the streak will be stopped by Montreal backstop Gary Carter when he attempts to swipe another base in the Dodger Stadium contest. The second baseman will be thrown out in the 12th inning of the team’s 5-3 loss in fourteen innings.
  • 2014 Joc Pederson becomes the fourth player in the history of the Pacific Coast League to have a 30-30 season, and the first to accomplish the feat in 80 years, when he steals his 30th base for the Isotopes. The 22 year-old Albuquerque slugger, who has 32 home runs and a .432 slugging percentage in 116 games this season, will join the Dodgers when rosters expand next week.

Lineup when available.

Aug 03

Game 113, 2019

Padres at Dodgers, 6:10 PM PDT, TV: FSSD, MLBN (out-of-market only), SPNLA

RHP Cal Quantrill (4-2, 3.57 ERA) pitches for the Padres. RHP Walker Buehler (9-2, 3.38 ERA) pitches for the Dodgers. Quantrill has made three starts and five relief appearances since June 23 and put up a 1.67 ERA while doing so. In his last start Buehler was saddled with his first loss in two months by the Nationals, who after four scoreless innings knocked him out in the sixth inning, by which time he’d given up eight hits and seven runs (only four of which were earned).

From The Athletic:

The fact that the four best relievers rumored to be on the market — the Giants’ Will Smith, the Padres’ Kirby Yates, Vázquez and the Mets’ Edwin Diaz — were not moved should tell us that the asking prices for all four were astronomical and/or those teams are hanging on to the delusion that they, too, could win a World Series this year (they can’t). The Yankees needed a starting pitcher as badly as I need traffic in Los Angeles to disappear forever. Unlike me, they could wave a magic wand and make their dream happen, but they chose not to. It is very obvious that sellers in this market were infected by a madness that convinced them they weren’t sellers.

[snip]

“We focused on the top four or five guys and, after that, we weren’t just gonna bring a guy in just to bring a guy in,” Friedman said.

In other words, the Dodgers weren’t going to trade for Shane Greene, Mark Melancon and Chris Martin like the Braves did, or Sam Dyson and Sergio Romo like the Twins did, or Hunter Strickland, Roenis Elías and Daniel Hudson like the Nationals did. And that might be because they believe their own minor leaguers, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin, are better than all of them.

On this day in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1959 In the second All-Star Game played this summer, Yogi Berra’s two-run home run off Dodgers right-hander Don Drysdale in the third inning at the LA Memorial Coliseum proves to be the difference in the American League’s 5-3 victory over the Senior Circuit. The home run will be the last one hit by a Bronx Bomber in a Mid-Summer Classic game for 41 years until Derek Jeter goes deep in 2001.
  • 1995 Making his first start for the Rockies since being acquired from the Mets, Brett Saberhagen gives up 13 hits and walks three batters, but gets the win in the team’s 9-4 win over the Dodgers. The sellout crowd gives their new hurler an enthusiastic standing ovation when he departs the game with one out in the seventh inning.
  • 1997 Jeromy Burnitz, coming off the bench in the Brewers’ 6-5 loss to Seattle at County Stadium, homers as a pinch hitter for the second consecutive time, tying an American League record. The major league mark for consecutive pinch-hit appearances with a home run is three, shared by Lee Lacy (Dodgers – May 2, 6, and 17, 1978) and Del Unser (Phillies – June 30, July 5 and 10, 1979).
  • 2013 The first-place Dodgers set a franchise record, winning their 13th consecutive game on the road with their 3-0 victory over the Cubs in Chicago. The Giants established the National League mark in 1916 when the team won 17 straight games away from the Polo Grounds.

Lineup when available.

Little bit of shuffling here. Cody to 1B, Joc to RF, Alex to CF. Pollock’s groin must still be tight.