Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Check Out ThinkBlueLA.com

Over at ThinkBlueLA.com I provide a guest post again, LINKED HERE.  This time it's on the Hall of Fame, the perplexing dilemma that Barry Bonds eligibility brings to voters and lastly my All-time Scumbag Hall of Fame starting lineup, (that is lacking a catcher, since I can't come up with a backstop that measures up).
Image Capture from the ThinkBlueLA.com web site.

ThinkBlueLA.com I highly recommend to everyone.   You simply have to check it out from top to bottom.    The site includes various sections that include Dodgerfilms clips, photos and best of all, a forum that all are welcomed to join and participate.  Site creator and administrator Ron Cervenka is cutting edge and highly engaged in all the latest Dodger news.   He and collaborator Scott Harvey were instrumental in designing the website that is much more than your average Dodger themed blog.  Many recognize Ron from his participation in the Dodger 2008 film, Bluetopia, with his son.  He has run a Dodger forum/message board for several years at ThinkBlueLA.   Additionally he is a regular as the Dodger Bloggers spot in the press box and very well acquainted with the Dodgers P.R. staff after a short time in the blogging world.  He's a fine writer to boot.

Take a few minutes and sign up.  It'll be well worth your time and is a "must check in" each day for the latest Dodger news and opinion.  With DodgerThoughts having been scaled back substantially, there's no better stop where you can provide your opinion and ideas.  

One last thing I want to mention is that regular posters at ThinkBlueLA, from all over North America, congregate at Camelback Ranch for a week or two each year.  I really look forward to meeting a lot of these fine Dodger fans that I consider good friends already.  There is a lot of friendly banter amongst the posters on that forum.  Join up and meet us at Camelback Ranch this year in late February,  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Rumors and Pre-Winter Meetings Transactions

Some movement a few days before the winter meetings.

BJ Upton signed with the Braves today, 5 years for $72.25 million.  There are several top tier outfielders out there for the taking.  Shane Victorino, Michael Bourn, Josh Hamilton and Angel Pagan come to mind.  Where will the surface?  It is reported that the Phillies were close to landing Upton.  Watch for them to make a blockbuster move and land a superstar like Hamilton.   Jerry Crasnick predicts via tweet that he believes Hamilton will be a Phillie by the end of the winter meetings.  If they don’t land Hamilton, I think Pagan might be in Philadelphia next season.

Take this with a grain of salt, but a co-worker of mine that has known Shane Victorino since they were kids in Hawaii tells me that Victorino would like to stay on the west coast, closer to his Las Vegas home and a short flight from Hawaii.  Since the Dodgers are no longer a fit for a starting job for Shane, he is seriously considering signing with the Giants next year.  I trust this source because he was spot on with his prediction in July, stating that Victorino was L.A. bound a few days before the deal was finalized.

Brian Wilson in Dodger Blue? (and this ain't the Beach Boy)

Get this, Brian Wilson, who will likely be a free agent by this Friday is rumored to be interested in signing with the Dodgers.   The Giants will not be offering him arbitration after coming off Tommy John surgery.   Andrew Baggerly at  CSNBayArea.com is reporting this as true speculation, based on Wilson’s off-season L.A. home and flamboyant lifestyle that is more conducive to Los Angeles living.  With Colletti’s history of snatching up anything ex-Giant, would we really be surprised?

There’s a very interesting post by Eric Stephen at TrueBlueLA.com in which he breaks down Bill James’ 2013 offensive projections for the Dodgers.  Take a look, I think you’ll be very pleased.  he says the Dodger lineup will score 123 more runs than last year.  If they do that, count on them winning 95-97 games next year.

A few baseball transactions of interest the past few days:

November 28th
The Seattle Mariners announced that Chone Figgins has cleared waivers and he is now released.

The Kansas City Royals announce that RHP Chris Volstad has cleared waivers and elected for free agency.

November 26th
The Boston Red Sox announced that Ivan DeJesus Jr. has cleared waivers and been outrighted to the minor leagues.

Look for next weeks winter meetings to produce some deals and for the Dodgers to be engaged more than in previous years.  I predict a free agent pitcher or two, (Greinke?), a third baseman and a surprise signing or trade.  Could that surprise be the bearded one from the Giants?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Making 51-Year Old Dodger Stadium a 21st Century Gem

I never really gave it much thought, but the photographic evidence makes sense.  In order for the Dodgers to expand the clubhouses and make them completely modernized, the only way that can be done is by excavating, and that has resulted in another major renovation project at Dodger Stadium.  Out go the seats in the lower bowl again.  For the third time in the past 10 years.

This photograph below was posted by Patrick O’Neal on his twitter account.   As you can see, the gutting of Dodger Stadium this off season is underway again. 

(photo by Patrick O'Neal, Twitter photograph)

New Senior Vice President of Planning and Development, Janet Marie Smith, was hired in August.  She brings experience that involved the construction of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, refurbishing 90 year old Fenway Park and earlier she did the same in Atlanta converting the Olympic Stadium into Turner Field in a 7 month period in 1996.  Making some key upgrades at Dodger Stadium should be a piece of cake with that track record.  She entered on the job and hit the ground running full steam.

One of the first statements made by Smith was something that must have pleased most Dodger fans.  That was that she liked the 1950's retro feel of Dodger Stadium and she didn't want to change that.  She also said that making upgrades at Chavez Ravine will be much easier than a place like Fenway, that was constricted by limited real estate.  With Dodger Stadium, there is room for upgrades.

So as the season ended and the work began, the first priorities in upgrades are improvements that few fans see but are of vital importance.  The clubhouses need to be enlarged and modernized.  Don Mattingly’s office was the former groundskeepers room, a windowless cinderblock framed room that had all the charm of a jail cell with carpeting. The clubhouse kitchen/dining area was miniscule in size and had inadequate plumbing, thus forcing caterer’s to come in and improvise.  The locker room? Well, my high school locker room was more spacious and when September call ups arrived, there wasn’t any room to move.
A look at the spacious Padres locker room at Petco Park.

How did the horrid Dodger’s home digs affect potential free agent signees?  They certainly didn’t help, though I never heard anyone state that they stayed away for that reason.  However, every year when the Dodgers packed up and left Camelback Ranch for home after Spring Training, their spacious Arizona locker room was suddenly reduced in size by about 90%.  

This 1963 Dodgers locker room shot is familiar, it is the same locker room that the Dodgers have used for 51 years, with very few changes.

Dodger Stadium's one small underground batting cage was very inadequate.  The coaches dressed in one cramped room.  This lockeroom/clubhouse upgrade was long overdue and will only help the ball club as beautiful Dodger Stadium is upgraded to 21st century standards.

2012 photo of Dodger Locker room, the very same space used in the 1963 photo.  Only notable difference is the cubby holes above each dressing space. (photo by Allen J. Schaben/LA Times)

Aside from the clubhouse upgrades (and that is both the home and visitor clubhouses, with the exception of when the Giants come to town and the old clubhouse is reverted to original form -- joking), there will be Wifi in the stadium throughout and cell phone reception.  Plumbing upgrades should make matters easier in concessions and bathrooms.  Electrical modernization will allow the press box to be state of the art.  Then there are sound system upgrades that I assume will require some work.  The massive sound system beyond centerfield will be replaced with adequate amplification of sound in various strategic spots at the Stadium.  The echo effect will be minimized.

Then there are the expanded restaurant choices and bars.  Back in August Stan Kasten described the expansion as something that won’t be completed in one year saying “we’re on an aggressive timeline, we’d like to do as much as we can by opening day next year.”   

So as Dodger Stadium undergoes cosmetic surgery this off-season, a lot of the nuts and bolts of it is taking place in areas not visible to most of us, but reality is, these are vital renovations that are getting the 51-year old landmark up to present day standards.  Visually the changes won’t be to evident, but once inside, the fan experience is going to be a noticeable improvement.  And you’ll be able to call your family at home and tell them about it.


Breaking news this morning comes out of a Hollywood Tabloid, (at least I think it's a tabloid, since I'm not the type of person that frequents the entertainment pages of any source).  Nikki Finke with Deadline reports that the Dodgers are near a 25-year, $6 to $7 billion dollar deal with Fox.  

You can read Finke's article HERE.  Very interesting comments from a lot of Dodger fans follow the article.

MSTI addresses the ramifications of such a deal HERE

Chad Moriyama also discusses it.

I believe we'll see quite a bit of discussion on this the next few days.  If there is truly a November 30th deadline on such a pact with Fox, the Dodgers just may be dominating the news real soon.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Who is Kyuji Fujikawa anyway?

Fujikawa has excelled twice in the World Baseball Classic. (Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images)

He's probably the best relief pitcher to come out of Japan ever.  Takashi Saito was quite the discovery, but Fujikawa wouldn’t be a “discovery.”  He’s proven to be the best closer in the NPB.  Better yet, he's a free agent and not subject to the posting fee rules.  That leaves the Dodgers in a pretty good position if they are genuinely serious about landing him.

Since 2007 Fujikawa has saved 202 games and posted an ERA of 1.36, all with the Hanshin Tigers.  He has a strikeouts per 9 innings ratio of 12.4 lifetime, (11.0 last season) with pinpoint control.  He has never posted an ERA in a season over 2.01, very seldom giving up the home run (0.4/9 inn. lieftime).

Fujikawa’s a right hander that stands 6’0”, 190 lbs,  32 years old.  He tops out at 92-93 MPH with his fastball and scouting reports say that he has lost a tick or two off of that since he used to motor that thing up to 95.  What hasn’t been lost is the late movement on the fastball that gives the illusion that it rises.  He also mixes in an effective splitter, a curveball and occasional change up. 

Scouts compare Fujikawa with Joel Peralta who throws the splitter 32% of the time along with a rising fastball. 

Negatives?  There are a few.  Durability may be one.  Fujikawa has never thrown more than 84 innings in a season, and that was six years ago.  In 2012 he pitched only 48 innings.  All this may mean that he may not be the 9th inning guy or the horse that can be depended on in the late summer days.  We definitely won't see two inning saves out of him.

Reports are that Fujiwaka has narrowed down his choices to five teams.  The Angels, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Orioles and Dodgers.  If the choice is totally dependent on money, I wouldn’t count out the Dodgers as being the favorite.  You can never have too many arms and the addition of Fujikawa would be the sleeper signing that will go un-noticed by the baseball world.  That is until they see his electric stuff.  I'd hate to see the D-Backs sign this guy.

With Fujikawa added to the Dodger relief corps, we are looking at having three stoppers to cover innings 7, 8 and 9 (Fujikawa, Jansen and League).  Then you add Belisario, Elbert, Guerrier and Paco to that mix.  You probably have the best  bullpen in the majors .

This is an interesting development and something that we as fans might want to think about some more.  Many are critical of the Dodger starting pitching stating that beyond Kershaw there really isn’t anyone for the opposition to fear.  But if your starter only needs to go 5-6 innings each game, what does it matter?  Having a lights out bully to close a ton of games is the secret weapon that the Dodgers may throw out there next year.  Could it prove to be as effective as having the great starters that San Francisco has?  I think it may.

I know reducing the our starters longevity may be a bit unorthodox, but I’m not saying that the Dodgers should become the Colorado Rockies and put their starters on a strict pitch limit.  It’s just my opinion that with the best bullpen in the league and one with so many options, Mattingly’s decisions will often be made for him.  He’ll go to the pen early in the game because it’ll be his best option.  This also may prove to be a really big move late in the season when our starters will be strong during the stretch run.  I really hope we get this guy.


They say in July or August that we go through the “dog days of summer.”   Well, these are the "dark days of winter."  Truth is, it’s still autumn since winter doesn’t officially start until December 21st, but as the days get shorter and we are looking at daylight disappearing at 5:30 pm everyday,  we’re in the dark days of autumn and a full season away from watching meaningful baseball.  Man, that’s so depressing.  Baseball seems so far off in the distance.   Before we're watching spring baseball:

I know I have to complete my tax returns.  I hate doing my taxes.  

I know that I need to get through another holiday season.  That includes Christmas shopping, putting up a tree, lights, and decorations, taking down the tree, lights and decorations and then getting through New Year’s.  My wife will want to go out dancing.  I suck at dancing.

Then there’s the work appraisals and countless other assignments that are not looked forward to in my employment.  

All this has to happen before baseball begins again.  It can really be depressing time of year if you truly think about it.

Sorry, but football just doesn’t do it for me.  A lot of brawn, abnormally huge men and showboating.  I do recognize the amazing athleticism and complicated tactical moves in football, but it simply doesn’t do it for me, and I loved playing the game when I was growing up.  I don’t even enjoy the Super Bowl anymore as it has become an event more than a game.

Basketball?  Wake me up when the playoffs start since 3/4 of the teams qualify, and the playoffs begin a full month into the baseball season.  I root for the Lakers and have a soft spot for the Clips, but the passion for the game isn’t there.  The excitement is lacking.

Hockey?  Well they aren’t playing and I haven’t missed it, so what does that tell you?  One of my co-workers with season seats to San Jose Sharks games offered me tickets when and if the Kings come to town at face value.  I figured I’d take him up on it, that was until I found out that they would cost me about $300 for the pair.  I’ll pass on that.

Soccer might as well be badminton.  If it isn’t a World Cup year, there isn’t much to watch.  The MLS is the minors essentially.  Half the games are 1-0 finals with most of the action being the back and forth mid-field passes.  Yawn.

Back to the topic at hand though, it just seems that baseball is so far away, especially this year.  I think it’s because the Giants won the whole enchilada.  It has made the off season doldrums extra hard.  I simply want to get on with the season and put 2012 in the rear view mirror.  I know this sounds as depressing as all get out, but it is what it is.

We are still a week and two days away from the winter meetings.  Add an additional 7 more days before the deadline to sign Korean pitcher Ryu.  Maybe the signing of a top tier reliever like Fujikawa will make the winter seem a little less dreary.  The clock can't click away fast enough.  If the Mayans were right, we'll definitely go down on a negative note.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Translation of Puig interview

I ran across this great article from Puerto Rico that was an interview with Yasiel Puig.  I spent a good portion of the evening translating it.  (There are those that aren’t aware of my years living in various parts of Latin America that have no clue that Spanish is practically a first language).  So I’m just about finished and I perused my favorite blogs and find that Roberto at Vin Scully is My Homeboy has already linked it up and translated portions of the piece. LINKED HERE “Darn, he scooped me again!” I thought.  But Roberto’s cool about stuff like that.  I fired him off an email and he quickly answered me and said that there’s no problem running my translation of the Puig piece.

So here it is in it’s entirety.  

Yasiel Puig poses with championship trophies from past seasons of the Mayaguez Indians (photo capture from  El Nuevo Dia, Juan Luis Valentin)

Yasiel Puig Valdes is a Champion in the Making

by Fernando Ribas Reyes, Diario El Nuevo Dia

Mayaguez, Puerto Rico-Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig Valdes asked the public relations department of the Mayaguez Indians to bring out some trophies to his interview with El Nuevo Dia.  


“I want to be a champion in Puerto Rico and start getting used to victories that are going to come with the Dodgers,” he answered.

Puig at the age of 21 has never won a championship, inside or outside of Cuba.  He added that he is eager to obtain one, starting with the nearest opportunity: in the Puerto Rican Winter League.

The Cuban is here, playing a large role with the defending champion Mayguez Indians, contracted under an agreement with the Dodgers who signed him last year to a 7-year pact for $ 42 million.

That signing made Puig Valdes an instant attraction when he left Cuba, where he participated on the Junior National team and where he played in the Serie Nacional (top tier league).  The contract turned him into the highest paid Cuban in the Major Leagues.

He wanted to talk very little about Cuba to El Nuevo Dia, even though he gradually accepted the questions sent his way answering them as if he was hitting a curveball.
(photo capture from  El Nuevo Dia, Juan Luis Valentin)

He left Cuba in a boat arriving in Mexico.  He wasn’t playing with the Cuban national team as the team had suspended him for what he called a “disciplinary action” while the team played in a tournament in Holland in 2008.  By “disciplimary action” Puig hinted that it was an attempted defection.
Did you leave (Cuba) because you were being “blackballed?”

“I already knew I wouldn’t make the national team.  I was wasting my time.  I was 21 years old and I needed to be here with the best ballplayers in the world,  Matching up with the greatest pitchers like Verlander,” he said.

“I couldn’t stay there anymore because I would play one year and the the next I wouldn’t.  Baseball can’t be that way.  It has to be played every year.  I played in 2008 and then I didn’t in 2009.  Later I played in 2010 and didn’t in 2011.  In 2012 I came here (referring the the U.S.) where I have been for four months where I have what I didn’t have in Cuba and will never have in Cuba,” he added.

You need to have a lot of courage to leave by boat?

“Courage you need to have to live in Cuba.  Here (in the U.S.) is where you need to be or else you’ll stay in the middle of the ocean.  Now they can say that I came illegally, in Mexico, in the U.S., in Puerto Rico.”

Puig signs autographs at a Mayaguez promotional event (photo capture from  El Nuevo Dia, Juan Luis Valentin)
And the family you left behind?

“Yes, it’s a sacrifice.  But the family that is left behind in Cuba wants you to be here.  They know that we’ll always be close because that’s what is in our hearts.  Besides, my mother and my family got used to being far away from me because I was always playing ball and I traveled to all provinces and we lived very little at home.”

Puig Valdes will play in Puerto Rico until the first week of January when he needs to return to Los Angeles to participate in some promotional activities with the team (the Dodgers).  He said that he’d speak with the organization for permission to return to Mayaguez to finish the season and win a championship trophy with the Indians.

He’s only been with the club for two games.

“The quality of play here is good.  That’s why my team (Dodgers) sent me here to play,” said the Cuban prospect who made his debut last week with a homer in his first plate appearance.

His goal is to prepare himself physically and to work on details of his game because by 2013 he wants to be in the big leagues playing in the outfield next to Matt Kemp.  (Article incorrectly referred to Matt as “Jeff” Kemp)

“I came to prepare myself for Spring Training and work on things I need in order to be ready for the big leagues.  It all depends on me, what I can do here in Puerto Rico and  my manager when I’m in Spring Training.  They are the ones that’ll make the decision,” he said.

Would he accept that I compared him to Yoenis Cespedes, the Oakland A’s outfielder who received votes for the Rookie of the Year Award?

“Wait for me to get up to the Dodgers and there you’ll be able to see which player is better and which one helped his team arrive to the World Series finals.  It’s something that the fans want and players want.”  

He added that his idol was German Mesa.

(end of article)


First things first.  I had no idea who German Mesa was nor do I know why the author of this piece made that final statement.  It turns out that Mesa was a star shortstop for the Cuban national team that won an Olympic gold medal in 1992 and the silver in 2000, (the team that lost to Lasorda's 2000 gold medal team in Sydney).  Known as "The magnet" for his amazing defensive abilities.  Mesa is currently the Manager of the Industriales team in the Cuban National League.

There was no mention by the interviewer (Fernando Ribas Reyes) of Puig’s staph infection injury to his elbow that kept him from participating in the Arizona Fall League, but all indications are that he is over that set back.

Aside from the written article, Puig gave an interview that is on video which has quite a bit that is repeated in the piece.  It’s a bit lengthy to translate and additionally doesn’t have the best audio quality.  He went through a lot to get to where he is.  Yasiel doesn’t go into details, but his experience in Mexico was not easy.  In fact, it was downright life threatening.  He described Mexico as a very “violent place,” adding that “the United States is where you need to be.”

Additional quote, talking about money: “I never thought about being the highest paid Cuban baseball player.  I didn’t come for money, I simply came to play ball.”

Sunday, November 18, 2012

For the Holidays, a Great Dodger Gift Idea

There are coffee table books and then there are Dodger coffee table books.  What I’m about to do is write a review on the ultimate Dodger coffee table book.  This book is so good that I literally can’t get enough of it.   I have had it for a few weeks now and I can’t get over the amazing quality and awesome photographs within it's pages.

Dodgers From Coast to Coast, The Official Visual History of the Dodgers, is Published by Skybox Press.  It was released this off-season and will help us all get through the doldrums of winter following a brutal post season that all of us cringed watching.  Dodgers from Coast to Coast reminds us what the Dodgers are all about and makes us remember that we do follow an amazing franchise that has for the most part written baseball history for over a century.

With a forward penned by Tommy Lasorda and an Introduction by Vin Scully, you don’t get much more “Dodger” than that.  What follows are photos and photos.  Gobs of them.  The shots that you saw once and wished you had framed.  Then there is the dozens of photographs that you’ve never seen before that simply take your breath away.

For example, Orlando Hudson pointing to the sky as he triples to complete the first Dodger cycle in nearly 40 years while jubilant fans behind him raise their arms in triumph knowing they just witnessed history.  It’s a great shot.  A wonderful moment captured that simply tells thousands of tales.  You have it all in one.  A record breaking moment, a Giant fan amongst the sea of blue in a none to happy state, an auxiliary scoreboard telling the tale of the game, and fans in ecstacy enjoying the moment.  This is just one of the amazing photos that you will see in this book that will give hours and hours of enjoyment to the loyal Dodger fan.

There are the great Dodger moments, the historical photos, the events captured that you always wished you could find.  The obscure events that are interesting side stories.  The Brooklyn days.  Pre Ebbets Field.  Ebbets Field from construction to demolition.  The Coliseum years and Dodger Stadium Construction to today’s refurbishing.

Black and white to high definition color.  Blurry figures to crystal clear.  You name it, its there.  Red Barber to Vin.  And the stories, oh the stories.  Casey Stengel and the bird, the Babe and Leo the Lip’s feud. Larry Macphail to Branch Rickey to Buzzie, Al Campanis, Fred Claire and so on.

There is essentially a pictoral history of how the game was integrated.  Those classic Sandy Koufax poses.  The winning celebrations.  Those dreary moments of defeat. The cascade of lights at the Coliseum to pay tribute to Campy.

Dodgers From Coast to Coast is the equivalent in enjoyment as Jon Weisman’s 100 things Every Dodger Fan Should Do Before They Die, but this time, it’s in pictures.  And there are the short stories by those that were there taking part in history.  Roger Kahn, Wally Moon, Tommy Davis, Wes Parker, Ron Cey, Steve Yeager, Steve Sax, Roy Gleason, Mike Scoiscia, Eric Karros, Shawn Green, Ken Gurnick, and others.

I don’t know what else to say other than, what are you waiting for?  Order it.  You will not regret it.

How to Order

CLICK THIS LINK HERE to the site where you can order the book.  Cost is $40.00 but believe me, it is well worth it.  Dodgers From Coast to Coast is the perfect Christmas or holiday gift for the ultimate Dodger fan out there.  When ordering, in the promo be sure to input  "DGRBLG."   After shipping, you are looking at a cost in the neighborhood of $47.50.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Did Koufax Ever Throw the Brushback? Ask Lou Brock

L.A. Times photo
There is a fallacy that has made the rounds of baseball circles that says Sandy Koufax was too nice of a guy to brush back opponents.  The truth is, Sandy didn’t hesitate throwing the occasional brushback and standing up for his teammates.

Jane Leavy addressed this topic a bit in her excellent biography of Koufax, Sandy Koufax, A Lefty’s Legacy.  She tells the story of Bill “Moose” Skowron, who was traded to the Dodgers in ’63.  Skowron as a Yankee in the 1962 World Series had tripled off the high kicking Giant starter Juan Marichal in game four of that series.  Juan attempted to get his revenge against Moose now that he was a Dodger in the first game they met.  Skowron explained what happened:

“First time up, he low bridged me, I’m hitting like two-twenty.  I go back (on defense) to first base.  Willie Mays comes up.  Sandy threw one up tight and Willie’s cap flew off.  They said Sandy didn’t throw at anyone, but he protected his players,  I blew him a kiss.” (Source: Sandy Koufax, A Lefty’s Legacy.  pp. 180-81,Jane Leavy, Harper Collins, 2002)

Why did Koufax get the reputation from fans and players that he didn’t throw inside or brush guys back?  Well it’s probably the Marichal/Roseboro incident that did that.  Skowron said that he often just blew players away in embarrassing fashion.  He opined that Koufax didn’t like putting guys on base that he could easily strike out, and he was skilled at making them look foolish striking out.  In a sense, that was more effective that hitting them.

On August 22, 1965, the Giant/Dodger brawl that surfaced from the fight between Marichal and Roseboro resulted in giving Sandy an unfair rep that he didn’t protect his players.  Nothing was further from the truth.  Reports from players on the Dodger bench were that Koufax wanted a piece of the Giants that day.  “Who do you want me to get?” he said to Roseboro in the dugout early in that game.  “I’ll take care of it,” said Rosie, hinting that he’d brush back Marichal with throws from behind the plate back to the mound.  Roseboro knew that if Koufax was ejected, it would hurt the team in the race and they could ill afford to lose their best pitcher with the pennant on the line.

The rest is history.  Marichal was suspended for eight games, a significant portion of the September race, and the Dodgers won the National League Title (and eventual World Series), beating out the Giants by two games.

Then there is the story of Koufax hitting Lou Brock.

May 24, 1965.  The defending champion Cardinals came to L.A. for a three game set.  After the Cardinals took game one, the second game of the series was one for the ages.  It was a true barn burner pitting future Hall of Famers Bob Gibson against Don Drysdale as the Dodgers shutout the Cards 2-0.  Big D pitched a 1-hitter, allowing a single to Curt Flood on the first pitch of the game.  Nobody came close to getting a knock off of Drysdale the rest of the way.  This wasn’t a game chalked full of bean balls and brush backs as you’d expect from those two intimidators.  Only Dodger light hitting second baseman John Kennedy fell victim to the HBP.  No retaliation, simply one that got away from Gibby.

In the rubber match of the series, Sandy Koufax faced Cardinal starter Curt Simmons.  What is remembered from this game was the exchange between Koufax and a young speedy outfielder for the Cards, Lou Brock, in the first inning.  Lou laid down a bunt and embarrassed Koufax, who failed to field it cleanly, thus allowing Brock to reach on an infield single.  What followed was the young speedster stealing second, then third.  He eventually scored on a Ken Boyer sacrifice fly.  The Cardinals scored a run off of Sandy by taking a page out of their own offensive playbook.

Apparently Koufax was steaming over the events.

Now Sandy was a true competitor.  Many thought his low-key demeaner showed a lack of inner competitiveness and nothing could be further from the truth.  He was a level headed pitcher that never let his emotions get the best of him, but in this instance, he wasn’t going to let the young Brock get away with wreaking basepath havoc on him without paying a price.

Drysdale knew what was going to happen, and he turned to Dodger rookie Jim Lefebvre and said, “Frenchy, I feel sorry for that man...Sandy doesn’t appreciate that sort of thing.  (He) gets mad enough when you beat him with base hits, but when you score runs without hits, Look out.”

Hall of Famer, Lou Brock

There are different accounts on how the events unfurled, but one thing everyone agrees on: when Brock came to the plate in the top of the third, the first pitch he received was a fastball that drilled him in the back.  It had “a thud that had a crack in it,” said Cardinal outfielder Mike Shannon.   Drysdale said “you could hear the thud all through the stadium.”  Dodger catcher Jeff Torborg described it best: “It hit him so darned hard that the ball went in and spun around in the meat for a while and then dropped.”

What everyone agreed with was that this was a world class beanball that hurt a lot.  From there, the stories get fuzzy.  

Drysdale is reported to have said that Brock refused to rub it and attempted to "man up" and make it to first, but couldn’t.  He said that Brock dropped to his knees while attempting to walk to first, and had to leave the game right there.  That’s a great story from Big D, but unfortunately, it isn’t true.  

Here is what happened.  Brock made his way to first base and like so many star players in the game do, he made Koufax pay again.  He promptly stole second base.

But the beaning took its toll on Brock.  First, because he had to leave the game two innings later and go to the hospital for x-rays, (that were negative).  Second, because the beaning actually knocked him out of the next five games, with only a brief pinch running appearance a few days later.  Third, Brock never attempted a bunt off of Koufax again.  

No. 3 was the point that Sandy was trying to make to the young man.  It worked.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

If I Had a Cy Young Vote...Wait a Minute, I Do

This year's three Cy Young Award finalists, Clayton Kershaw, R.A. Dickey and Gio Gonzalez.

If I had a vote for the NL Cy Young Award, Kershaw would have received my vote.  Not because he’s a Dodger, but simply because he was the better pitcher this year.  Run the numbers, aside from the meaningless “Wins” statistic. Kershaw was the better pitcher this year.  ERA, WHIP, Strikeouts per 9 innings, walks per nine innings, WAR.  You name it, he out-pitched RA Dickey.  Not by a lot, but enough to merit the Cy Young Award for the second consecutive year.  But it wasn’t to be and I really can’t complain too much about Dickey getting the award.  He was the second best pitcher in the league.  

How could we have expected Kershaw to win the thing?  The recipient of the award plays in New York of all places and us West Coasters know what that means.  I will say that the fact that Clayton only got two first place votes is a travesty.  27 first place votes for Dickey to two for Kershaw.  That is an absolute joke.

Those of you that insist that “wins” is a meaningful statistic will find that Kershaw’s run support ranked amongst the worst in the league.  Kershaw’s run support was 3.94, 66th worst out of 80 starting pitchers in the N.L.   R.A. Dickey, in contrast received an average of 4.64 runs per game, a full 31 places ahead of the Dodger pitcher.  Kershaw had a superior ERA, K/BB ratio, K/9 IP ratio, BA against and more.  The thing is, Dickey was right there with Kershaw in each statistical category, so his winning the CYA should have been expected when you factor in the East Coast bias and his winning percentage.

Internet Writers Have a Vote of Their Own
I must say though that I did have a vote in one sense.  I’m a voting member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA).  The IBWAA was founded by Howard Cole, veteran internet writer that has represented such blogs as www.baseballsavvy.com, and up until a few months ago, the OC Register’s Dodger blog.  Howard currently writes at www.coleonla.com, a must read that covers many topics that includes L.A. sports as well.   One thing that Mr. Cole has been pushing for for years is the Dodgers commissioning a statue honoring Sandy Koufax.  He has had an on-line e-petition calling for this for a number of years, I believe dating back to 2004.  You can READ ABOUT IT HERE.

Howard has reached out to a number of internet baseball writers and started the IBWAA.  I speculate that he created the IBWAA partially in deference to the stringent guidelines of the Baseball Writer’s Association of America.  Who of us hasn’t griped about the BBWAA and their ridiculous voting results in the baseball awards or Hall of Fame enshrinements over the years?  I’ll admit that they get things right most of the time, but they have had their share of controversial choices too.  One being last years NL MVP choice that selected Ryan Braun over Matt Kemp.  Another the snubbing of Bert Blylevan for several years in Hall of Fame voting.
My IBWAA Membership Card.  Note the silhouette of the lefty pitching on the right side of the card.  Recognize that pose?  If you don't, shame on you.

I was extremely pleased to be invited to join the IBWAA back in September and I submitted my votes at the close of this season.  The following are the results from the voting of the IBWAA:

2012 Season IBWAA Awards
AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
NL MVP: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
AL Cy Young Award: David Price, Tampa Bay Rays
NL Cy Young Award: R.A. Dickey, New York Mets
AL Rookie of the Year: Mike Trout, Anaheim Angels (Unanimous)
NL Rookie of the Year: Byrce Harper, Washington Nationals
AL Manager of the Year: Buck Showalter, Baltimore Orioles
NL Manager of the Year: Davey Johnson, Washington Nationals
AL Rollie Fingers Relief Pitcher of the Year: Fernando Rodney, Tampa Bay Rays
NL Hoyt Wilhelm Relief Pitcher of the Year: Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves

Note that the Relief Pitcher of the Year awards for each league (named after the great Hall of Fame relievers Fingers and WIlhelm) are unique awards to the IBWAA, something that gives the organization an edge on the BBWAA.  Also, you'll find that the results from the IBWAA isn't too far off from the BBWAA.

So who did I vote for you ask?  Most of the winners actually.  I voted for winners Cabrera, Price, Trout, D. Johnson, Rodney and Kimbrel.  The differences I had were:  
NL MVP where I voted for Andrew McCutchen, 
NL Cy Young- Clayton Kershaw
NL Rookie of the Year-Wade Miley
AL Manager of the Year-Bob Melvin

Where did I mess up?  Probably in the NL MVP vote.  I should have had Buster Posey higher.  I placed him 4th behind 1) McCutchen, 2) Chase Headley and 3) Ryan Braun.  In retrospect, I think I should have placed Posey in the number two spot, but at the time of the voting I was strongly influenced by Headley’s performance that I witnessed and Braun’s late surge in numbers.  Additionally, I didn't have Bruce Bochy in the top three selections for NL Manager of the Year, but at the time, the playoffs hadn't started.

Those of you contributors interested in joining the IBWAA, you can do so by emailing Mr. Cole at baseballsavvy@aol.com.  He can provide you the application and details.  There is a small fee, but well worth it in my opinion as the IBWWA grows.  THe voting deadline for the Hall of Fame is quickly approaching, so it's best to get on board soon if you want to take part.  The IBWAA website is found at : www.ibwaa.com.  Take a look at it.  Past IBWAA winners dating back to 2009 are posted.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Some Guys Just Don't Look Right in a Dodger Uniform

photo by Jon SooHoo (L.A. Dodgers)

Some guys just don’t look right in a Dodger uniform.  That was my first thought when photos on twitter appeared of Mark McGwire wearing Dodger blue.  It just looked odd.  I know it shouldn’t.  Mark grew up in the southland and as a Dodger fan, but it just does.  Maybe things will change over time and it’ll not look awkward.  Right now that is the case.  I remember thinking that Torre and Mattingly looked strange in Dodger uniforms at first, and that changed with time.

There are a few that wore Dodger unis that I never could get used to though.  Looking at photos from years past of them hasn’t changed my position.

There was Richie Allen.  A Phillie, Cardinal (for a short time) and Whie Sock.  He looked normal in all those uniforms.  For some reason, he simply looked awkward to me in the Dodger duds for his lone season as a Dodger in 1971.

Then the next year, Allen was traded to the Sox for Tommy John and the Dodgers attempted to replace his big bat in the lineup with former Red and Oriole Frank Robinson.  Again, the future hall of famer didn’t look right in the blue.

Of course the worst match of a player in a Dodger uniform was this future hall of famer.  Is it any wonder that he didn't last a month.  No need to even discuss it.

Years passed and other players that don't quite look right wearing Dodger blue comes to mind.  I won't name their names, (though some of the photos are of baseball cards, so their names are given away).  One thing for certain, they all served the bulk of their careers in other uniforms.

Who comes to mind for you?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dee Gordon...the Good and the Bad

(Photo: Los Tigres de Licey, team website)
In a small sample of Winter League games, we have some numbers on how Dee Gordon is performing. Through nineteen dates in the Dominican Winter League with the Licey Tigers, Gordon is hitting .329 with an OBP of .402.  He has tripled four times, scored 13 runs and stolen 8 bags in 11 attempts.  This is the kind of offensive output we have hoped for from Gordon.  The old adage “you can’t steal first base” has been the biggest problem as his on base percentage has made putting him at the top a the lineup a big problem.  Most encouraging from this output is that he has drawn seven walks, a pace that is five times better than his normal rate in the majors.

Now for the bad news:  19 games, 9 ERRORS.  Yes, that’s nine including the one committed in last nights ninth inning to cost his club the game in a 5-4 loss.

As the years go by, Dee’s defense seems to have gotten more erratic.  At the end of this season, he looked completely lost out there.  Granted, he was returning from a dislocated thumb in his throwing hand.  I’m hoping that the cause of his problems is that he’s still recovering from the injury, because here we are, with Dee possibly entering his third year of major league service and he’s still a defensive liability out there. 

I know there are many that are thinking the Dee is trade fodder.  I am hoping that isn’t so.  With Gordon’s speed on the base paths and range defensively, I still think he can be a valuable Dodger for years to come.  The thing is, there isn’t much room on the present day roster for him.  If he’s dealt, I’m hoping it's to the American League where he won’t come back and haunt us.

The Dominican League isn't an easy Winter League to thrive in.  Fans are tough.  The competition is very good too.  Gordon did well in the Puerto Rican League two years ago, so it is encouraging to see him do well offensively in the Dominican.  The Liga Dominicana is viewed as the most competitive of all the Caribbean Winter Leagues.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hyun-Jin Ryu, Youkalis, Torii Hunter...Is There Anyone Not Rumored to Join the Dodgers?

With the announcement that an MLB team has posted over $25 million for the rights to negotiate with Korean left handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, rumors are circulating that the team that won the bidding war is the Dodgers.  This shouldn't be surprising to any of us.  The Guggenheim group is sparing no expense to assemble a championship club.

Ryu was instrumental in leading the Korea National team to the 2008 Olympic Gold Medal at the Beijing Olympics.  He tossed 8 1/3 innings against the Cuban national team in the gold medal game, winning 3-2.  He also has World Baseball Classic Championship experience in 2009 hekping the Korean to a second place finish against Japan.  

The 25 year old lefty throws and assortment of 4 pitches.  With a fastball hitting as high as 94 MPH, Ryu set the Korean Baseball League record by striking out 17 in one game this past year.   He was 9-9 with a 2.66 ERA, striking out 210 batters over 182 innings.   Some believe he is best set to be a reliever in the Big Leagues but I have a hard time believing that the Dodgers would pay such a hefty sim for additional bullpen help.  Ryu is going to start.  

This is a pitcher that puts up innings.  He's a workhorse having led the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) in strikeouts five of the last seven years.  He also led the league in wins once and won the ERA title twice.   He has thrown between 165 and 211 innings in the KBO since joining the league in 2006.  His lifetime numbers in the KBO are: 98-52, 2.80 ERA.   In international competition aside from success in the WBC and Olympics, he has led his national team to two Asian Games championships. 

A pitcher with a hefty build he is listed at 6 feet 2 inches and 215 lbs.  Video clips of him show him to be probably closer to 240-250 though.  Some compare him to David Wells for that very reason.  Ryu is represented by Scott Boras, so expect the Dodgers to pay handsomely for him.  There is a 40-day window to negotiate a contract.  If nothing is settled in that time, The 25 year old lefty will return to the Hanwha Eagles.

Look for Ryu to be signed and the Dodgers to see how things play out in Spring Training with the starting staff.  The addition of Ryu means they enter Spring Training with Kershaw, Beckett, Capuano, Harang, a questionable Billingsley and Lilly and the new Korean left hander.  If opening day approaches and there are seven healthy starters, I wouldn't be surprised if one or two are dealt.  If there is one thing we have noted with Colletti, he seems to collect an over abundance of starting pitchers each year becasue he knows full well that there is usually someone that will break down.

The reports on Billingsley were encouraging this past week, but the fact that he is returning from a partial elbow ligament tear should be a major concern.  As much as we all want to see him next year, isn't in the Dodgers best interest to have him go under the knife and completely heal?  You have to figure that Bills will be overly cautious and perhaps will hold back a bit to remain healthy.


Ken Rosenthal has mentioned that the Dodgers are interested in free agent Kevin Youkilis as a third baseman this year.  Youk had a career low .328 on base percentage.  For those that are against this possible move because of the emergence of Luis Cruz, it is important to look at Cruz's OBP of .326 this past year.  Maybe one year of Youialis and using Cruz as the super ultility guy is the way to go next year.  This is all contingent on signing Youk to a 1 year deal.  Anything more than that would be a waste on the aging third baseman.  I believe that Youkilis may be seeking a longer deal in an attempt to nab one last big money contract.  He is 33 years old.

It is also reported that there is interest in Torii Hunter as well.  Hunter, at 37 years old, had a fine year and the thought of adding him is an interesting proposition.  San Francisco is also rumored to be interested in Hunter who would fit in well in the Giant outfield that is lacking of a solid third outfielder.  If Hunter is willing to take on the 4th outfielder role with the Dodgers, this might be a good move.  The friendship between Kemp and Hunter is well chronicled.  Is that enough for him to accept a role of reduced playing time?

Matt Kemp and Torii Hunter take in a Laker game together.