Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Suddenly the Dodger Bullpen is Extremely Weak

About a month ago the Dodger bullpen was what many considered to be the strongest part of their roster.  Jansen was a light’s out closer.  Belisario had an ERA in the low 1’s,  Scott Elbert was a solid lefty used to take down the left handed bats.  Josh Lindblom was often used as the 7th or 8th inning stopper, in which he succeeded.  Even Javy Guerra had returned from the D.L. to some success.  Add to that mix, Jamey Wright who had proved himself as a valuable addition this year as the long man.  Shawn Tolleson came up from the minors and had a stretch of consecutive appearances when he didn’t yield a run.

(photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

How quickly things have changed.

With the Dodger medical staff’s announcement today that Kenley Jansen has a recurring heart issue, he may be out for the season.  Suddenly the closer role in the Dodger pen is a big question mark.

Ronald Belisario has been far from stellar this past month.  Now in place as the closer, Belisario in that role shows that the pen lacks significant depth.  Guerra isn’t even on the roster now, and returning him to that closer role doesn’t restore much confidence.  The pen has been exposed these past three games in Colorado.

It is a major weakness now and something that Colletti will not be able to fix at this late juncture of the season.   As much as we are concerned with the sputtering offense (with the exception of today’s 10 run outburst), the loss of Jansen, Elbert, Guerra and Lindblom is troubling.  

I hate to say it but pitching on this club may be it’s undoing.  It doesn’t matter that the team can trot out 6 All Star bats in it’s starting lineup.  If the pitching staff can’t over perform, this club probably isn’t going anywhere.  We saw that in Colorado this week.  No team should be struggling to hold a 10-1 lead in the 8th inning, much less a team that we expect to make it to the World Series.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Luckless Dodgers Attempt to Right Ship Tonight Against Rocks

Sometimes you just can’t catch a break.  Last night's game was one of those frustrating unfortunate contests where the Dodgers simply couldn't buy any luck.  When you look at the 10-0 loss to Colorado last night, it’s easy to say that it was a forgettable blowout loss.  I know I quickly deleted it from my DVR as soon as it was over.  I wanted to put the memory of that loss in my rear view mirror.  The funny thing is that with a break or two here or there, it could have been a Dodger win.  This was a game where NOTHING broke in the Dodgers favor.

Josh Beckett, in his Dodger debut, pitched well (photo by Joe Mahoney/AP)

For example:

1st inning:  With two outs Matt Kemp doubles to right center.  It would have been a homer in most parks, but not in Colorado where right center field fence is about 790 feet.  The Kemp double was followed by an Adrian Gonzalez blast to right field.  It was an “at-’em” ball that was completely tattooed, right into the outstretched glove of Rockies right fielder Andrew Brown, who made a fine spinning catch.  Instead of a 1-0 lead with Hanley Ramirez coming up, Jeff Francis escaped the top frame without giving up a run.

2nd inning: After the Rockies scored on a Tyler Colvin blast in the 1st, the Dodgers led off the inning with their own.  Hanley Ramirez flied out on a 410 foot shot to left center field.  Again, just missing another homer.  With a decent break or two, the Dodgers should have had 3 runs by then, instead they remained scoreless.

Shane Vicotrino strikes out in the fifth inning after slashing a fould ball down the third base line by inches (photo by Joe Mahoney/AP)
5th inning: With the Dodgers trailing 2-0, Luis Cruz singled and then A.J. Ellis ripped a Jeff Francis change-up to the left field wall.  It was a line drive that missed clearing the fence by about a foot. It was a frustrating hit as Luis Cruz couldn't score from first because the ball was hit so hard.   Had the breaks gone the Dodgers way, it’s a 2-run homer.  Instead the Dodgers had men on second and third and after Josh Beckett struck out, Shane Victorino scorced a ground ball down the third base line that  was foul by inches.  That would have scored both runners easily, but since things weren't breaking the Dodgers way, it’ wasa loud strike.  Victorino eventually struck out to end the inning.

So there you have it:  with a few breaks going their way, the Dodgers would have had about 4 or 5 runs to give Josh Beckett, who was pitching very well.  From there, who knows how things would have turned out?

We are looking at a frustrated Dodger team that left 16 men on base in a very winnable game on Sunday and one that couldn’t catch a break in Monday’s game.  Baseball is a game of inches and one that can turn on a moment’s notice.  This veteran team, now made up of 8 out of 25 that weren’t even in a Dodger uniform as little as a month ago, is going to have to reach down deep to right this ship.  These are crucial games against sub .500 teams that should be beaten.  As the Giants go to Houston and Chicago for 6 games, the Dodgers need to hold serve, because it doesn’t look like help is coming their way.

Chris Capuano starts against the Rocks tonight as the Dodgers attempt to get things righted.  It's as important a game for Capuano as he's had this season.  Capuano is coming off a painful loss to the Giants last Wednesday and he has his work cut out for him as the Rockies have an 15-11 record in August and have won seven of their last nine.  Joe Blanton takes the hill the following night looking for his first Dodger win.  Things don't look good for him.  First because it's in Colorado and second because he leads the league in surrendering home runs.  Blanton could really win the favor of fans by pitching the game of his life Wednesday and turning things around.


I posted an article over at ThinkBlue LA.com on the current Dodgers and their status at each position, contract by contract.  Linked HERE

Monday, August 27, 2012

Wall Called Up and Other Assorted Topics

In Don Mattingly’s post game comments yesterday he mentioned that only Shawn Tolleson would not be available to pitch in Colorado the following day.  Apparently the Dodgers gave that decision more consideration than thatt was originally thought.  The thinking that they may need all the pitching they have on the roster to get through this three game stretch in Denver.  With the roster expansion a mere 5 days away, it was easier to send Tolleson to Single A Rancho Cucamonga and recall him on Friday, while they could call up a fresh arm from Albuquerque in the name of Josh Wall.

Shawn Tolleson optioned back to Single A for the week.

The move makes sense.  Tolleson has options.  He can rest up for a few days and return to the club after some much needed rest.   Wall is capable of going a few innings if asked to do so.

The Dodger' s Press Release on the transaction follows:

The Los Angeles Dodgers today recalled right-handed pitcher Josh Wall from Triple-A Albuquerque and optioned right-hander Shawn Tolleson to Single-A Rancho Cucamonga. Tolleson had made 13 consecutive scoreless appearances (11.2 IP) from July 24-Aug. 24 before allowing two runs on back-to-back homers in 1.1 innings of work yesterday. Overall, the 24-year-old was 1-0 with a 3.42 ERA in 25 appearances with Los Angeles.

Wall, who was recently named to the All-Pacific Coast League team, joins the active roster for the second time this season after a call-up from July 14-22. The 25-year-old made his big league debut and his only Major League appearance on July 22 at New York, tossing a scoreless inning of relief and picking up the win in the Dodgers’ 8-3, 12-inning victory. Wall has posted a 1.98 ERA (3 ER/13.2 IP) and a .188 opponents’ batting average in 14 relief appearances with Albuquerque since the All-Star break, going a perfect 9-for-9 in save opportunities in that span. Overall, Wall, who was originally selected by Los Angeles in the second round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, leads the Pacific Coast League with 27 saves and is 2-1 with a 4.70 ERA in 53 games.


San Francisco sports radio was insane today, with hosts from the Giants flagship station  talking incessantly about the blockbuster trade.  The overall sense I got from most hosts was that the Dodgers moves were panicky in nature.  

On the Fitz and Brooks show this afternoon, Bob Fitzgerald said that the Giants schedule is overwhelmingly in their favor, and he broke it down, stating that aside from the Dodgers, the Giants have no future opponents with a record over .500.   (Arizona stands at .500 right now).   He added that the Dodgers only upgraded at the first base position and that would result in them falling short in their quest for the NL West title.

The overall consensus was that they overpaid, picking up these three monster contracts in an effort to acquire Adrian Gonzalez.  What none failed to mention was that the Dodger ownership’s deep pockets allow for that and that the pending new TV contract will put them in a very comfortable position financially. 

All agreed that the Dodgers offensive lineup is “scary good,” but the loss of Billingsley and Giants advantage in starting pitching will be enough for the Giants to take the division.

Whew!  Nice to know that the Dodgers gave up Allen Watson instead of Allen Webster in the Red Sox trade.  Well, that’s what Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated wrote today.   You’d think a publication such as S.I. would catch such a sloppy error.

Regardless of the mistake, it's an interesting take on the trade.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Vin Scully to Return / Dodgers to Play at Yankee Stadium in 2013

In Bill Shaikin’s column today he revealed that Vin Scully will announce today that he’ll return for another season.  ( LINKED HERE  )I’m certain that there will be a fair amount of hoopla about the pending announcement.  Vin has got to be re-energized by the recent moves and the belief that the Dodgers will be thick in the pennant race each year due to this ownership groups proactive stance to make the team better.

There was a short blurb in Shaikin’s pieced that caught my attention:

“The Dodgers are scheduled to play at Yankee Stadium next season. What could be better than Scully making a rare trip to the East Coast, weaving stories of Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle in between pitches to Matt Kemp and Derek Jeter?”

Dodgers last trip to the Bronx was the 1981 World Series

That might be the road trip worth taking.  After 15 years of inter-league play, the Dodgers finally go to the Bronx for a series that should have been played more than once already.  I’m no fan of Inter-league play, but a Yankees-Dodgers contest in Yankee Stadium is about as nostalgic and historic as you can get.  It’s a shame and travesty that the Dodgers never returned to original Yankee Stadium one last time before the wrecking ball took it down.

Dodger Press Release just out, Posted below:

August 26, 2012
 LOS ANGELES – Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully, one of the most revered figures in Los Angeles sports history, will return to the broadcast booth for an unprecedented 64th season in 2013, it was announced. Scully will again call all Dodger home and road games in California and Arizona.
 “The new ownership of the Dodgers has revitalized the city, the team, the fans and myself,” Scully said. “I am so convinced of their great purpose and leadership that I eagerly look forward to joining them in pursuit of the next Dodgers championship.” 
 Widely regarded as the finest sportscaster of all time, Scully’s 63 years of service mark the longest tenure in his field. While he calls all nine innings of the team's television broadcasts on PRIME TICKET and KCAL 9, the first three innings of each of his games are also simulcast on AM 570 Fox Sports LA.
 “The Dodgers are ecstatic to have Vin back with the team in 2013,” said Dodger Chairman and Owner Mark Walter. “Vin is a treasure to the Dodgers, baseball and the city of Los Angeles and having him continuing his work in the broadcast booth next season means a great deal to all of us.”
 “It was a treat to be able to listen to Chick Hearn through my years with the Lakers,” said Dodger owner Earvin Johnson, “and it’s been great to be able to listen to Vin work his magic in the broadcast booth since I came to Los Angeles in 1979. Generations of Angelenos have been blessed to have these Hall of Famers in their midst.”     
 “We’re thrilled to know that in our quest to heighten the fan experience at Dodger Stadium, the fan experience everywhere Vin’s voice can be heard will continue to be maximized through at least the 2013 season,” said Dodger President and CEO Stan Kasten.
 Scully began his professional baseball broadcasting career in 1950 with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. During his unmatched career, he has called three perfect games, 25 no-hitters, 25 World Series and 12 All-Star Games. Iconic moments called by Scully include Kirk Gibson’s miraculous Game 1 homer in the 1988 World Series, Hank Aaron’s record-setting 715th home run, Sandy Koufax’s four no-hitters, including a perfect game, and the scoreless-inning streaks of Dodger greats Don Drysdale and Orel Hershiser.
 When Scully began broadcasting, the Dodgers had yet to win a World Series. Three years later, at the age of 25, he became the youngest person to ever broadcast a World Series game. In 1955, he had his most memorable moment behind the microphone, as he called the Dodgers' first and only championship in Brooklyn.
In Los Angeles, Scully called Dodger World Championships in 1959, ’63, ’65, ’81 and ’88 and he was elected the top sportscaster of the 20th century by the non-profit American Sportscasters Association.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Farewell Post on James Loney...Big Hit in 2008 Will Not Be Forgotten

James Loney is now a former Dodger and he’ll probably be remembered by most as a solid Dodger, but one that never lived up to expectations.   We all thought James would develop some pop and become a formidable middle of the order power guy.  That never panned out and his career in blue is now done.  There were a few accomplishments that come to mind though of his Dodger days.

There was a September game against the Rockies in Colorado where he hit 3 homers and had a ton of RBIs.  That was the time when many of us thought he had arrived as a major leaguer.   He always had a steady glove and I thought he deserved gold glove consideration, but was ignored.  
The biggest hit in James Loney's life,  Oct. 1, 2008.

Loney’s crown jewel of accomplishments was a game for the ages in the post season: October 1, 2008.  For one day he lived up to that “Big Game James” moniker that former Laker forward James Worthy was so often called.  

It was Game One of the 2008 National League Division Series against the favored Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field.  The Cubs finished that regular season with the best record in the National League and were seen as a very worthy opponent.  Many felt that Lou Piniella would be the manager to get the hapless Cubs over the hump and into the World Series.  The Dodgers had not won a post season series since their championship 1988 season.

Jon Soo Hoo photo/Los Angeles Dodgers

 After having spotted the Cubs and Ryan Dempster a 2-0 lead, Loney stepped up to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded after the Cub starter battled with some wildness.   Dempster had walked the bases full and had Loney on the ropes with a 1-2 count.  It was at that time that I believe our magic Robert Redford “The Natural” moment happened.  Maybe it was lightning striking the transformers, or cracking open an old ash tree on the Loney family farm in Houston.  Whatever it was, James blasted that 1-2 pitch into the Center Field Bleachers at Wrigley for a grand slam homer.
Andre Ethier, James Loney and Rafael Furcal celebrate the 2008 NLDS Slam. 

It was the catalyst that sent the Dodgers into a winning frenzy in that series.  They finished off the Cubs that day 7-2 and followed up the following day with a 10-3 win.  The series sweep was finished off two days later with a 3-1 win in Los Angeles.

Loney didn’t do anything else spectacular in the series and only hit .214 overall (3 for 14), but the grand slam homer was by far the biggest hit in his career.  What few remember though was that James is the guy that started it of.  That post season series win was the first the Dodgers had experienced in 20 years.

Best of luck to you James.  I’ve been mighty critical of you and called for your removal from the lineup, but I’m not forgetful of your accomplishments over the years.  I only wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

Dodger Press Release: Largest Trade in LA Dodgers History

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers today acquired four-time All-Stars Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, former 20-game winner and World Series MVP Josh Beckett, infielder Nick Punto and cash from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for first baseman James Loney, pitcher Allen Webster, infielder Ivan De Jesus and two players to be named later. Dodger General Manager Ned Colletti made the announcement.

The nine-player trade is the largest in Los Angeles Dodger history.

“We continue to do everything in our power to strengthen our team for the stretch drive in an effort to reach the postseason,” said Colletti. “This trade today exemplifies ownership’s commitment to making the team as good as possible not only for 2012 but for many seasons to come.” 

Gonzalez hit .300 with 15 homers and 86 RBI in 123 games with the Red Sox this season and ranks second in the Major Leagues with a .398 (53-for-133) batting average with runners in scoring position. His .338 batting average since the All-Star break ranks eighth in the American League.

The San Diego native has hit 30 or more homers and driven in 100 or more runs four times in his career (2007-10) while hitting .300 or better twice (2006, 2011). The 30-year-old has won three Gold Glove Awards (2008-09, ’11) and took home the 2011 Louisville Silver Slugger Award. Last season, he batted a career-high .338 with Boston and achieved a career-high 40 home runs in 2009 with San Diego.

Gonzalez, who lived in Tijuana, Mexico from ages 1 to 13, owns a lifetime batting average of .294 with 210 homers, 728 RBI, 268 doubles and a .509 slugging percentage. Since 2006, Gonzalez ranks second among all Major League first baseman in games (1,063), innings (9255.2), total chances (9,659), assists (878) and putouts (8,737). He owns a career fielding percentage of .995 at first base and is signed through the 2018 campaign.   

Crawford, 31, a four-time All-Star and MVP of the 2009 All-Star Game, has led Major League Baseball in triples four times in 11 seasons with Tampa Bay and Boston. He’s hit .300 or better five times, including a career-high .315 in 2007. He’s stolen 50 or more bases five times, including a career-high 60 in 2009. In 2010, he achieved career highs in home runs (19), RBI (90) and runs scored (110). In 11 seasons with Tampa Bay and Boston, he has a career average of .292 with 118 home runs, 254 doubles, 114 triples and 432 stolen bases. He won a Gold Glove Award and Louisville Silver Slugger Award in 2010.    

Crawford, who is signed through 2017, helped lead Tampa Bay to the World Series in 2008, hitting .345 (10-for-29) against the Red Sox in the ALCS and then belting two homers vs. Philadelphia in the 2008 Fall Classic.

Crawford played in just 31 games this season due to wrist and elbow injuries. The Houston, TX native underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery on August 23.

Beckett has a 130-92 lifetime record and 3.93 ERA in 12 seasons with Florida and Boston. His best season was 2007 with Boston, when he was 20-7 with a 3.27 ERA. The 32-year-old has won 15 or more games four times and is under contract through the 2014 season. Entering 2012, he ranked fifth in the Majors with 99 wins since 2005 and he was third in the American League with 84 victories since 2006. Beckett was a member of American League All-Star teams in 2007, 09 and ’11. He was the winning pitcher in 2007. In 2012, Beckett is 5-11with a 5.23 ERA in 21 starts. 

In his postseason career, Beckett is 7-3 with a 3.07 ERA and three shutouts in 13 playoff starts. The three postseason shutouts are tied for second in Major League history. The Texas native was the MVP of the 2003 World Series with Florida, when he went 1-1 with a 1.10 ERA against the New York Yankees and won the clinching game at Yankee Stadium. Beckett earned ALCS MVP honors in 2007, when he won both starts vs. Cleveland and posted a 1.93 ERA. In 93.2 postseason innings, he’s allowed just 67 hits while striking out 99 batters. On Thanksgiving Day 2005, Beckett was the centerpiece of a deal that brought him from Florida to Boston in exchange for then prospect and current Dodger Hanley Ramirez.     

Punto, a switch-hitter and outstanding defender who has played second base, third base, shortstop and center field in 12 Major League seasons with Philadelphia, Minnesota, St. Louis and Boston, was a member of the Cardinals’ World Championship team last fall. His best full season was 2006 with Minnesota, when he hit .290, with 45 RBI and 17 stolen bases. This season, Punto is hitting .200 with a homer and 10 RBI in 65 games. The native of Mission Viejo had a fielding percentage of .985 in 50 games at every infield position this season.

Loney made his Major League debut with the Dodgers on April 4, 2006 and has played 896 games for Los Angeles since then, second only to Andre Ethier (968) over that time. In seven seasons, Loney has compiled a .284 batting average to go along with 173 doubles, 71 homers and 451 RBI. He drove in at least 88 runs for three consecutive seasons (2008-10) and averaged more than 159 games per season from 2008-2011. Since 2008, his 752 games played are the most in the National League over that time.

At the end of his rookie campaign, Loney hit his first career grand slam and tied a Dodger franchise record with nine RBI on Sept. 28, 2006 at Coors Field. The nine RBI tied Gil Hodges and broke Ron Cey’s Los Angeles Dodger record of eight RBI in a game. In 2008, Loney’s grand slam in Game 1 of the NLDS at Wrigley Field helped spark a three-game sweep of the Cubs and lead Los Angeles to its first NLCS since 1988. The free-agent-to-be was hitting .254 with a .302 on-base-percentage and just four home runs in 114 contests this season.

De Jesus was selected by the Dodgers in the second round of the 2005 First-Year Draft and has hit .231 with four RBI in 40 career Major League games at second and third base. The 25-year-old is a career .297 hitter in eight minor league seasons. De Jesus was the Dodgers’ Branch Rickey Minor League Player of the Year following the 2008 season when he hit .324 with 91 runs scored for Double-A Jacksonville.

Webster was taken by Los Angeles in the 18th round of the 2008 First-Year Draft and is 6-8 with a 3.55 ERA in 27 games (22 starts) for Double-A Chattanooga this season. Overall, the 22-year-old right-hander is 34-24 with a 3.34 ERA in 108 career minor league appearances over five seasons.

Done Deal, 2:30 PM Press Conference at Dodger Stadium

Nick Punto, Josh Beckett and Adrian Gonzalez are on a private jet en-route to Los Angeles right now.  All major media outlets are announcing that the deal is done.  The Dodgers will have them in uniform tonight.  No word on a press conference.  ESPN News just announced that Gonzalez will wear number 23 and start at first base tonight.  It is unsure when Josh Beckett makes a start, (he was scheduled to start for Boston today).

Nick Punto Tweet pic showing Beckett, Gonzalez and Punto on the private jet on their way to Los Angeles.

The Dodgers will need to make a roster move or two.  A-GON will take Loney's spot, but Alex Castellanos, who was just called up to take DeLaRosa's spot may be the odd man out and optioned back to AAA to put Punto on the 25 man roster.  As far as Beckett, Shawn Tolleson may be jettisoned off to Albuquerque for a few days until the September 1st roster expansion.

The blogs are going nuts.   I suggest that the entire blog roll be read.  Everyone has interesting insight.  MLB Network is running a special edition covering the trade.

I was particularly interested in Dusty Baker's comments where he mentioned that Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten have changed the whole perception of the Dodgers and the National League won't be the same.  Baker said he stood at the batting cage and he and Billy Hatcher were calculating what the Dodgers payroll is and they are blown away by the numbers.

Just as I was writing this update, an email came in from the Dodgers announcing that Stan Kasten, Magic Johnson and Ned Colletti are conducting a 2:30 pm press conference.  So more information will soon be coming.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Adrian Gonzalez? What Price Is Too Much?

Steve Dilbeck at the Times reported this morning that the Dodgers have been awarded the claim on Adrian Gonzalez and are now attempting to iron out a trade with the Red Sox. LINKED HERE  Some may think this is very good news.   This potential move scares me to death and I believe could potentially damage the franchise severely.

What would the future of the Dodgers look like if you removed Zach Lee, Chris Reed, Dee Gordon, Jerry Sands, Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster and possibly a few others?  It would be considered the weakest farm system in the Major Leagues.

Now add more to the mix.  Assume the Dodgers gave away most or all of those players and agree to pay over $127 million dollars over the next six years to the player they receive in return.

A 31 year old Adrian Gonzalez becomes a Dodger.  Then there is more to sacrifice.- possibly a 32 year old Josh Beckett joins him (owed $34 million) and Carl Crawford, a left fielder that will be owed $21 million next year, $107 million over the course of his contract (until 2017) while he sits out next season due to Tommy John surgery.

I know this ownership group has some crazy money but are they nuts?  I like Adrian Gonzalez and all, but please, let’s be sensible here.  A deal like that could set the team back for years.  At least in the minor league/development ranks.

Loney and Rivera are a mess at first base while Jerry Sands rakes at a .400 clip in Albuquerque.  Does the Dodger brass not think that Sands can’t hit .250 with some occasional pop?  They’ll get that production from him and be paying the major league minimum.  Perhaps they are all in agreement that Sands’ potential production is not enough to take the team to the next tier of championship play.

What I think this all comes down to is that the Dodgers might believe that the acquisition of Gonzalez and Beckett could result in a pennant.  It would be the ultimate grab to buy the championship.  I used to hate it when the Yankees and Red Sox did that.  It seemed like unfair playing ground.  Now that the Dodgers are the buyers, I’m not certain if I like this.

I’m all for this ownership group and their “win at all costs” attitude.  But just because they have money doesn’t mean that they need to spend it with reckless abandon.  Just because they have minor leaguers doesn’t mean they need to empty the ranks of talent in one desperate move to steal the division from the Giants in the last month of the season.  We are looking at a crucial negotiation window here.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Follow Up After Last Night's Game

I’m sure as I wandered around the Dodger clubhouse last night for the first time, that I looked like a deer in the headlights.   As much as I attempted to be nonchalant, I find that for me that usually has the opposite affect and I stick out looking like I don’t belong.

My wife bought me this awesome Nikon digital camera camera that can zoom in on a mosquito from 200 years away.  Carrying that thing around my neck made me feel a bit out of place as I noticed that I was the only one carrying anything other than a notepad and pen.

Matt Kemp at batting practice, Aug. 22nd (photo by Evan Bladh)

The reporters had their cliques, like any organization does.  There were those clusters of guys conversing and walking around comfortably.  Here I was, in the Dodger dugout for the first time, amongst all the players, trainers, and coaching staff for the first time and I know i looked like a fish out of water.

Sure, I've been around these guys before, but never in this capacity.  Intimidating?  Sure it was.  Overwhelming?  Not really.  I kind of expected what I saw.  I was surprised at the Dodger locker room that is embarrassingly small.  Players came and went, but I didn’t approach anyone one on one.  Just an eves drop here and there.  I didn’t know my way around, wasn’t quite sure where the boundaries were and certainly didn’t want to go past them.

Overall I must say that the experience was amazing.  I'll definitely want to do it again.  Jon Chapper and Garrett Thomas in the Dodgers P.R. Department were very helpful.  I'd like to thank them for being so helpful and accommodating.

Unknown to me before yesterday is that Andre Ethier has been dealing with a problematic blister on his right hand.  Something that may be responsible for his diminishing power numbers this season.  Mattingly had this to say about it in his post game comments:

Denis Poroy/Getty Images
“That thing is huge.  It’s not like a little blister.  It’s a monster.  They said something to me last night.  He’s having some trouble.  I saw him today.  It’s not pretty.  But he did a little something different tonight.  He wrapped it a little different.  He had to hold the bat a little different.  He’s trying to go off the bat.  That we talked about, choking up a little bit.  He went a little left.  He tried that tonight.  AK (Adam Kennedy) had something like this too.”

“I think this is something that’s going to nag a little bit.  It’s going to limit the amount of work that he’s going to be able to do.  Because if he keeps working any kind of true amounts it’s gonna keep ripping.  This is gonna be something that I think is gonna hang around a little bit.

“I hate to call a blister like it’s not a big deal but if you see this thing, it’s ugly.  It came in as a blister and then he ripped it and it got underneath the callus.  It’s not pretty.”

More on the blister issue can be found in Alex Angert's mlb.com column.

On Rubby De La Rosa’s outing:

“It was okay.  A little rough.  But I didn’t really know what to expect after a year and Tommy John (surgery).  I didn’t really want to be behind like that getting him in a game, I would have rather been ahead, but...he got his feet wet and we’ll see what he looks like next time.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Remember when we laughed at the Giants because they countered the Dodgers Hanley Ramirez acquisition with a trade for Marco Scutaro?  Well, half -way into the game I broke out my calculator and determined that Scutaro was hitting .346 in 98 at bats as a Giant.   He was raking tonight hitting in the two hole.   (Ramirez is batting .301 as a Dodger).  Another young Giant infielder named Joaquin Arias has become a Dodger killer, with three hits and 5 RBI tonight. 

Matt Cain was dominant through 7 innings tonight (photo by Evan Bladh)
Remember a week ago when Melky Cabrera was suspended for 50 games  for the positive PED test and many said the Giants were dead?  They played in a demoralizing loss that day of the announcement of the announcement and looked lifeless.    Since then, they are 5-1 and have gained 2 games on the Dodgers in the process.  This is a team on a mission and the Cabrera suspension has lit a fire in them.

Remember when the Dodgers waltzed into San Francisco and broke out the brooms for a three game sweep a three weeks ago?  That seems like ancient history now.  

Remember three games ago when the Dodgers returned from a tough road trip with a 7-3 record and were in first place?  Well don’t look now, but they’re dangerously close to falling into third place behind the Diamondbacks.

For the third night in a row, the Dodgers played a crucial pennant stretch game against the club that they must beat and came up empty.  Spotting the Giants an early 3-0 lead in the first inning, the announced crowd of 40,173 knew this one was over before the seats were even warmed up.  Chris Capuano gave up a two run homer to Joaquin Arias and Giant ace Matt Cain was handed the ball with a 3-spot to his credit.

The core of the Dodger offense, Victorino, Kemp, Ethier, and Ramirez all left runners in scoring position as Cain continued his recent dominance over the Blue Crew.  It is the 4th consecutive win for Cain over the Dodgers in his career after he lost his first 8 decisions against them.

Rubby De La Rosa delivers his first pitch in over a year.  His results were mixed.  A bit wild.   Probably a little nervous.  In post game interviews he admitted to having butterflies.  His fastball was clocked as high as 95 MPH.  (photo by Evan Bladh)

The boo birds were out tonight as the fan base became increasingly frustrated with the anemic Dodger offense.  As the Giants tacked on three additional runs in the 6th, the restless crowd let out an enormous “bronx cheer,” when the Giant offense was finally retired. As the innings pressed on and the Blue failed to score, the remaining Dodger faithful were really giving it to the home club.

Giant Manager Bruce Bochy removed Matt Cain  after he had thrown 105 pitches.  He left with a comfy 8-1 lead in the 8th.  The Dodgers pushed across three runs against the back end of the Giant bullpen, but that rally ended feebly with another inning ending double play.  Something the Dodgers have become quite prone to of late.  They lead the league in that category.

Former Dodger Kevin Gross threw out the ceremonial first pitch, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the no-hitter he pitched against the Giants at Dodger Stadium (photo by Evan Bladh)

In pre-game comments, Dodger manager Don Mattingly admitted that the club is struggling, but was confident that they will snap out of it.  His post game comments continued to be optimistic.  "Andre hit well.. Matt had the big hit in the eighth...Victorino had a hit and hit that bullet to short where he made that spinning play...cost us a few runs."

Let's face it though, this was out and out embarrassing.  Giant fans are giddy with joy.  Dodger fans are searching for the nearest bar to drown their sorrows.  Bumgarner, Lincecum, and Cain came into town and set down Dodger bats like a bull would take out a blind matador.  My 6 year old grand-daughter has a word for it.  She calls it “UG-U-LLY.”  It was 8 to 4 UG-U-LY.  It doesn’t get much worse than that.
Dodger Manager Don Mattingly during pre-game presser (photo by Evan Bladh)
Call them the “Jekyll and Hyde” Dodgers.  They are either very good or very bad.  Not a lot of room in between.  “I can’t remember a Dodger team that ever played this bad at home,” said ThinkBlueLA.com’s Ron Cervenka to me earlier in the day when we met for lunch.  We both pretty much agreed that the entire team is slumping and in an incredible funk that they can’t seem to escape from.  Mattingly called this "a weird season." 

 "Each series with these guys (San Francisco) is different," continued the Dodger skipper.  "We sweep them, they sweep us.  We play good on the road, then we get swept at home.  It's hard to explain.  I'm not giving up, it's painful to go through this.  We'll take the day off, re-group and the season starts again on Friday."


During the post game press conference it was announced that Jerry Hairston's hip injury will require season ending surgery.  He should be ready by the time Spring Training rolls around in March, 2013.

Live Game Chat tonight at ThinkBlueLA.com

For those followers of the blog, I'll be conducting a live game chat from the Dodger Stadium Press Box tonight over at ThinkBlueLA.com on their forum.  Feel free to register and join in the chat.  This is my first actual day of working in the Dodger Stadium press box and something that I don't anticipate doing more than once or twice a year (due to the limited space up there and my distance from home to Dodger Stadium).
Don Mattingly talks to media during pre-game press conference.  When asked by Eric Stephen if the Dodgers are going to mix up the pitching rotation due to tomorrow's day off, he said that it is being considered and he may have an answer about it after the game tonight.  (photo by Evan Bladh/OpinionofKingmansPerformance.blogspot.com)

I had an interesting lunch today with Ron Cervenka of ThinkBlueLA.com.  We are both in total agreement that tonight's game is about as close to a "must win" game that the Dodgers have had in a long time.  It'll be a tough chore facing Matt Cain.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Cabrera's Web of Lies

Frankly I don’t even want to mention Melky Cabrera’s name anymore, especially as we’re on the cusp of watching a  classic 3-game Dodger-Giant series that could determine the direction of the pennant race, but his story gets stranger and stranger.

Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

It is now reported that Cabrera, in an effort to lesson the severity of his positive test, paid an associate to create a fake web site to give the appearance that Cabrera was an innocent purchaser of steroids.  It was a ruse that has gone array and MLB was able to easily expose their attempts to lie themselves out of this mess.  Worse yet, the story continues.

Sam and Seth Levinson of ACES Sports Management act as Cabrera’s representatives.  It turns out that the creator of the fake website is a guy named Juan Nunez.  Nunez is a consultant to ACES and has admitted to this fraud putting ACES right smack in the middle of this investigation.  (Seth Levinson has denied any knowledge of Nunez's actions and Nunez has stated that he was acting alone).

So as the web of lies gets untangled there is more than one guilty party: Cabrera, maybe his his agent and definitely a consultant to his agent.  Making matters worse is that there are now reports that other players may be engaged in using the same stuff that Cabrera took and that they are circumventing the dope testing process by using fast acting creams and patches that are almost undetectable after short periods of time.  Baseball is again facing another crisis of confidence.

MLB could have acted before this ever came to light by throwing the book at last years NL MVP Ryan Braun.  Instead they allowed some legal maneuvering to get him off on a technicality.   Perhaps they were forced to by the Collective Bargaining agreement, but had they used the court of public opinion correctly, the union would  have been in a tough spot, that of protecting a guilty player and in the process, alienating fans.  What has resulted from the inaction in the Braun case is that the cheaters continued and now we have a tarnished pennant race and suspicions that others continue to juice.

Reports today are stating that MLB is planning on no further sanctions against Cabrera.  If they wanted to start sending a message now, the Commissioner should issue a lifetime ban against Cabrera and the Agency that represents him for attempting to conceal the positive test with this scam.  Send a message loud and clear that if you mess with the testing system and lie about it once outed, you’re gone.  Of course there will be pending litigation.  I say, “Bring it on!”  You don’t think public sentiment won’t be on MLB’s side?

If it turns out that this synthetic steroid use is as widespread as Victor Conte estimated, (that 50% of today’s players are using), I will be done with this.  To many of us spend a good portion of our lives following the game due to our love and dedication to it.  If players aren’t going to show the fans a semblance of respect for it to keep it honest, then why should we even care about it.


Hello Pot? Kettle Calling...

It would be easy to place blame on the San Francisco Giants for this whole mess.  We know they have the history in their organization with Bonds, Santiago, Guillen and others being notorious steroid users.  But the Dodgers are not alone in this department.  Manny Ramirez, Eric Gagne, Paul LoDuca...all being steroid users in their day.

This has been a baseball-wide problem.  From the weaklings of the sport like F.P. Santangelo and Bobby Estelalla that took the stuff to keep Major League roster spots to the superstars such as Ramirez, Sheffield, Giambi, Sosa, McGwire, Palmiero, Alex Rodriguez and Bonds.

I’ve read a lot of stuff out there from livid Dodger fans that are quick to blame the Giants for this mess.  To that I say, it’s best to hold your tongue as a Dodger could easily be implicated in such a mess too.

Cabrera Attempted to Blame Dodger Fans According to Bay Area Blogger

One interesting sidelight to the Cabrera story was when Giants Comcast Sports blogger Andrew Baggarly approached Cabrera with a story that he had tested positive back in July, the left fielder denied that it was true, even though at the time he knew of the positive test and he was in the process of appealing it (and inventing the web site).  Cabrera said that the story had probably been planted by “Dodger fans.”  LINK to that Story HERE

Lifetime ban for the liar?  Yes, no doubt about it.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Just In: Dodger Press Release, Elbert back and Herrera Optioned to Albuquerque

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers today reinstated left-handed reliever Scott Elbert from the disabled list and optioned infielder/outfielder Elian Herrera to Triple-A Albuquerque. Herrera appeared in just two games during his six-day recall, going 1-for-3 at the plate.

Elbert had been on the disabled list since July 26 with left elbow inflammation and made three rehab appearances with Double-A Chattanooga, striking out all six batters he faced in 2.0 innings. Prior to going on the DL, Elbert had made nine consecutive scoreless appearances (8.0 IP) and overall was 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 39 games.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Supension Saturday

So Mattingly gets a two game suspension. All things are hinting towards Kemp getting none, meaning he gets time served for being tossed from Thursday's game.  The question remains "How many games will umpire Angel Campos be suspended for?"  MLB isn't announcing that one.  Since he is not a member of an MLB umpiring crew, perhaps his blunder will affect him being called up as a MLB umpire permanently.  If that's the case, then Campos is the one that is punished the most of the three.

I hope this is a lesson learned for the three of them.  For Campos, to not have such "rabbit ears" and the quick trigger.  For Kemp, arguing is fine, but going ballistic and bumping umpires in the heart of a pennant race will not serve the team well.  For Mattingly, uh- gee, can't seem to figure that one out.  He defended his team.  Something that he predecessor (and coincidentally, the one from MLB that handed out the punishment), didn't seem to do hardly at all.  Make that a lesson learned for two of the three.

Come to think of it.  The one guy that probably shouldn't have been punished in my estimation, is the only one that did.  Shows how much I know.

Mattingly starts serving his two day suspension today.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Next Year the Dodgers May Face the Same IP Dilemma as the Nats

Many a baseball fan is intrigued by the story out of Washington D.C. that the Nationals will shut down their young ace, Stephen Strausburg, in the heat of the September pennant race.  It seems crazy, but I’m convinced after listening to a quick radio interview of Washington’s G.M. Mike Rizzo, that it’s going to happen.  Strausburg’s limit of no more than 180 innings pitched this season is set in stone by the G.M..  As of yesterday, Strausburg has tossed 134 innings this year.  

Here’s a wrinkle in the Strauburg story that has a direct Dodgers twist to it.  I believe that the Dodgers will face the same predicament with  23 year old Rubby De La Rosa next season.  They’ll have to proceed with caution.  In fact, probably even more caution than the Nationals.  De La Rosa has never thrown more than 110 innings in a season.  

Now, one year after his Tommy John Surgery, Rubby he has thrown eight innings in the minors in three outings.  The results have been encouraging, but let’s get real here.

Rubby threw 47 innings in 2008, 16 innings in 2009 and a career high 110 innings in 2010.  Last year, prior to injury, he tossed 40 innings in Chattanooga and another 60 in the big leagues.  At the time I had concerns that the youngster may be injury prone if the Dodgers were not careful.  Linked HERE  Sure enough, 28 innings later he was removed from the game with traumatic ligament damage requiring the surgery.

When Ned Colletti was asked about the Strausburg situation on Blogger’s night  (July 13th) at Dodger Stadium, he said that he wasn’t about to criticize what another organization was doing.  “They know their player and they have the medical reports.  I’m sure they’ll do what is in the best interest of their organization and their player.  A lot of money is invested in these guys and they aren’t about to make a decision without consulting their medical staffs.”  He later mentioned that it was a tough decision that he was glad he didn’t have to make.

Come 2013, Colleti and the Dodgers medical staff just may have to make that decision.

(Howard Smith/US Presswire)

if De La Rosa breaks through and makes the Dodger starting staff next year and pitches well throughout the first half, I seriously believe they’ll have to consider shutting him down by August, since it would be detrimental to his health to have him pitch more than 110-120 innings.  Anything over 110 innings pitched is uncharted territory for the young man.

De La Rosa is a power pitcher that will throw a lot of pitches due to the nature of his pitching style.  That 97 MPH fastball is used to rack up strikeouts.  This isn’t a pitcher that will pitch to contact.  Innings pitched by De La Rosa are hard core innings of all out performance.  Innings that are very taxing physically.  It’ll be an important decision and one that I hope the Dodgers make very wisely.


With the Dodgers alone in first place for the first time since July 13th, it is time for the club to really take advantage of a reeling San Francisco Giants team that is demoralized at the moment.  It is during these times in a long season that you don't let up.  Now into their 7th game of what we thought would be a difficult road trip, the Dodgers are on the verge of sweeping the season series from a very good Pirates team.  With a 6-0 record against Pittsburgh, they entire the final game against them this year with Joe Blanton facing Pirate ace A.J. Burnett who is in search of his 15th win on the season.

It'll be a hungry and desperate Pirate team that is slowly seeing it's incredible season slipping away.   The Dodgers take an over all 9-game winning streak against the Pirates into their final match of the year.  They also own the best Win-Loss record of any team at PNC Park.  Joe Blanton seeks his first win as a Dodger before the team finalizes this 10 game road trip against a hot Atlanta Braves club.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Chad Billingsley is Back

Chad Billingsley turned out one of his best starts of the year (photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

They worked on his delivery in Spring Training and he got pounded.  They said not to worry about Spring Training performances, after all, he was simply working on his mechanics, but how could you not be concerned.  Billingsley was getting hit hard.

As the season started he looked good.  He made it into the 9th inning, shutting out the Padres in the season debut.  Then he beat the Pirates at home.  Yeah, there was a terrible start against Houston, but he wrapped up April with a 2-1 record and 2.64 ERA.  It looked like the Dodger starter that is signed through the 2015 season would be productive, but then regression set in.

Billingsley wasn’t tearing the league apart, and he was surely hittable.  Slowly his ERA started creeping up.   Chad couldn’t put hitters away.  His pitch counts were high.  It seemed like he was always pitching himself into 3-2 counts and that hitters would foul off 2 strike pitches over and over again.  He didn’t have that pitch that would put hitters away.  By the 5th and 6th innings, Chad was tiring due to high pitch counts.

In June the losses started to pile up and by the All Star break he’d lost five in a row and was 4-9 with a career high 4.30 ERA.  Bills wasn’t going to say anything was wrong, but the Dodgers put him on the D.L. with elbow inflammation at the All Star break.  Chad wasn’t at all pleased with it, but it turns out that rest was just what the doctor ordered.

Since coming off the disabled list, Billingsley has turned out these performances:

July 23, 6 IP, 7H, 1 ER - a win by the Dodgers at St. Louis 5-3
July 28, 7 1/3 IP, 4 H, 0 ER - a win by the Dodgers at San Francisco 10-0
August 3, 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER - a win over the Cubs at home 6-1
August 8, 6 1/3 IP, 7 H, 4 ER - a win over the Rockies at home 6-4
August 14, 8 IP, 5 H, 0 ER - a win by the Dodgers at Pittsburgh 9-0

Those are 5 key wins in the heat of the pennant stretch.  If Billingsley turns out to be the true number two pitcher that we have always known he is capable of, the Dodgers just may have the most valuable addition they could have ever attained at the trade deadline.  And they didn’t even need to give up a prospect for him.

Some say it’s the beard he has grown.  Others the rest he got after the break.  Whatever it is, it has worked.  A 1-2-3 punch of Kershaw-Billingsley-Capuano is enough to take this club far into the post season.

12-1 in the Eastern Time Zone

With a 11-0 route of the Pirates today, the Dodgers continued pounding teams on the road in the Eastern Time Zone.  I’m not sure if there’s an explanation for it, but it certainly is a welcome surprise.  This East Coast trip that many dreaded is turning out to be the best road stretch this team has had all season.  With the Dodgers tied for first in the division, they also find themselves on the cusp of being one of the top two records for the wild card spot.  They are 5-0 against a fine Pirate team this season too.
Luis Cruz eludes a Clint Barmes tag (photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Luis Cruz’s career high 3- hit, 3- RBI night paced the Dodgers into the early lead.  Hanley Ramirez also had a 3 knocks as well, but we can’t ignore Chad Billingsley stellar starting pitching.  Billingsley has evened his record at 9-9 and lowered his ERA almost a full run in the last five starts.  

Tomorrow Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw takes the mound against Wandy Rodriguez.