Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Post-Game 103 Thread: Haren, Eaten Up

PIRATES 6, DODGERS 1

After becoming deluded into thinking otherwise, thanks to Josh Beckett's no-hitter, coupled with an impressive 4-0 start to the season by Dan Haren. But Beckett proved yesterday over his ephemeral 3.2 IP that he is not reliable, and Dan Haren came out today and evidenced why his promising season start was just a mirage.

The back of the Dodgers' order is just a train wreck. And with each crash, we have to suffer through Paul Maholm!

Haren gave up five runs in the first two innings, and though he stretched out to a somewhat-less-implausible 5.0 IP (in which he apparently retired the last 10 batters faced), Haren fell to 0-4 with a 9.47 ERA for July. The good news is, Haren presumably has one more start this month to get him to a double-digit ERA, as July's not over yet!

Haren is so bad (how bad is he?), even Don Mattingly might be coming to his senses, saying: "He's gotten us in a bit of a hole in the last couple of games but now is not the right time to talk about his future." No shit!

Meanwhile, the offense only consisted of a double from both Miguel Rojas (who was promptly doubled off of 2B) and Dee Gordon; two hits from Juan Uribe; and a hit from PH Justin Turner, who came around to score the Dodgers' solitary run.

So we continue our 2-4 road trip with a day off, before our last roadtrip stop in San Francisco, with a chance to be 5.5 games behind by the time we leave (we are currently two games back but SF plays one more with Philly Thursday). Whoop de frickin' doo!

Game 103 Thread: July 23 @ Pirates, 4p

Dan Haren (8-7, 4.30) vs. Francisco Liriano (1-7, 4.43)

Well, who's ready for the inevitable gut punch today? Will it be a fast-regressing Haren allowing multiple home runs and getting bounced in the 4th? Will it be the Noffense? Will it be our zombie bullpen walking in three runs? Will it be because we can't field a full squad after having so many of our players hit and hurt? Will every Dodger batter swing at the first pitch? Will Dodger outfielders switch positions between Pirate at-bats?

These questions and others persist. Yes, as many have pointed out the team still has as many wins as any other team in the NL, but one gets the sense this could start going south quickly, especially with a tough away San Francisco stand due up next.

Also, word is that there may be thunderstorms in the Pittsburgh area this evening, so we'll monitor to see if they can get the game in. In the case it is delayed, please use this space to grouse.

Post-Game 102 Thread: Pirates Plunder Dodgers

PIRATES 12, DODGERS 7

It was almost a game. Pirates had two solo shots in the second; Dodgers return with two runs in the top of the third (Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier RBI). Pirates get two more runs in the bottom of the third; A.J. Ellis knocks in two in the top of the sixth.

but with A.J. Ellis on second and one out, the Dodgers keep Paul Maholm (who took over for Josh Beckett in the fourth) to bat. Maholm Ks, and Dee Gordon flies out. And then immediately afterward, Maholm gives up two leadoff singles, is replaced by Jamey Wright, but the floodgates are open and the Pirates score four runs.

The Dodgers come back to make it 8-6, in the top of the seventh, with a two-run A-Gon shot. And we get one more back on a solo Scott Van Slyke shot in the eighth to make it 8-7.

And then Don Mattingly gets his second ill-fated idea of the night, to go to Chris Perez in the bottom of the eighth. Perez gets one out and then delivers four straight walks; Brandon League tries to relieve Perez and gives up two straight singles. 12-7 is the score through eight, and that's all she wrote.

Mattingly tried very, very hard to go with the freezing cold hand tonight, depending on Maholm and Perez to...screw things up. What a missed opportunity.

At-Game Recap: Dodgers in Sydney (Part 6)

Here's another post in the series recapping the Dodgers' historic trip to Sydney, Australia, for 2014 MLB Opening Day.

Going into the tunnels underneath the big scoreboard, heading from the Noble and Bradman Stands toward the O'Reilly Stand.

Would you believe, instead of dot racing,...sailboat racing?

Back in the original seats. Wish I could remember what was on the scoreboard at this time, as it's kinda blurry (the scoreboard, as well as my memory).

Game over! Dodgers win!

Diamondbacks sulk off the field in defeat!

More soon!

Earlier: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Game 102 Thread: July 22 @ Pirates, 4p

Baling wire. Not shown: spit.

Josh Beckett (6-5, 2.26) vs. Vance Worley (2-1, 3.38).

The Pirates' offense, undoubtedly frustrated after seven innings of extended-rest Ryu, today face a fresh-off-the-DL Beckett, who is currently being held together with spit and baling wire. "I feel like as long as I'm not messing up my mechanics and I feel like I can get people out, I'm just going to ride it out until the end of the year," he said. It's not exactly Mel Gibson's speech in Braveheart, but as long as Beckett can keep filling that number-four slot, we'll take it.

Another Cuban On The Dodgers' Horizon?

In the first rumor ESPN has posted about the Dodgers since spring training this year, ESPN.com says that the Dodgers might be interested in Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo (link insider only):

Seattle may be the front-runner to land 27-year-old Cuban outfielder, Rusney Castillo.

Bob Dutton of The News Tribune reported Friday that "some rival scouts suggest the Mariners, who seek a right-handed bat, are among the leading contenders to sign Castillo. ..."

The speedy line-drive hitter will have a showcase in Miami on Saturday and, per Dutton, is also being pursued by the Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers and Minnesota Twins. Dutton also reports that U.S. government recently cleared Castillo, making him eligible to sign immediately with any club.

Yasiel Puig, Alex Guerrero,...next up, Rusney Castillo? Because we could always use another outfielder, right?

Kemp: Right In, Rather Than Left Out

Matt Kemp started Monday's game in right field, and to his credit (unlike Kemp's agent), Kemp was saying all the right things prior to the game:

“I’m just happy to be in the lineup,” Kemp said to The Times’ Dylan Hernandez in Pittsburgh.

“It’s just another position to play.”

It seems clear, however, the Dodgers are determined to let Kemp know they very much do not envision him a center fielder. The easy thing Monday would have been to send Andre Ethier back home to right and start Kemp in center; Carl Crawford is starting in left.

Center is the more glamorous, demanding position and where Kemp still sees himself, even if the Dodgers have seen enough of him making poor jumps and routes on balls up the middle.

Sunday in St. Louis he made another bad jump on one ball, starting back on a drive in front of him and letting it drop for a hit, but then making a terrific diving stop of another on his next ball. If possible, he sometimes seems almost awkwardly athletic.

But with Puig out, tonight Kemp slides over to right. Kemp is hitting only .229 (11 for 48) this month but had two hits Sunday. And, as ever, the hope remains he can approximate his offensive form of 2011.

I don't think it's necessarily clear that the Dodgers don't want Kemp in center field. I think they're just trying everyone in this crowded outfield out a bit, before making decisions that they'll have to make sooner or later. At least Kemp has his head in the game and is saying the right things.

At-Game Recap: Dodgers in Sydney (Part 5)

Okay, let's shake it up here from my last four entries in this series (links to which are conveniently posted along the bottom), and instead post some videos. Sure, they're short, but they're videos nonetheless!

First, here's a quick video of Clayton Kershaw doing some warm-up throws:

Next, here's the tail end of Scott Van Slyke's two-run HR (scoring Adrian Gonzalez), which ultimately proved to be the difference in the 3-1 final score (yes, that's me screaming like a madman on the audio):

Finally, along with clay from California, two teams from America, and plenty of tradition: MLB also brought the wave over to the Sydney Cricket Ground:

Man, that was embarrassing; of all the things we could have left in the US, we tried to export the wave. Maybe it was a one-way ticket! In any event, even with the wave, this was a very fun game to watch from these awesome seats. I am indebted to my friend for these awesome Dodgers memories.

More soon!

Earlier: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Post-Game 101 Thread: Rested Ryu Bumps Bucs

DODGERS 5, PIRATES 2

Coming off a week of rest, Hyun-Jin Ryu went 7.0 IP yielding only 5 H and 2 ER, striking out 5 and walking 1, to earn the win. The Dodgers won even with Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez sidelined, who were spending their time videobombing Dodgers reporter Alanna Rizzo. In their absence, the top of the lineup stepped up:

  • Dee Gordon, 2-for-5 with a run and his 45th stolen base;
  • Justin Turner, 2-for-5 with two runs, a double, and 2 RBI;
  • Adrian Gonzalez, 3-for-3 with a double and a RBI;
  • Matt Kemp, 1-for-4 with a double and a RBI.

Juan Uribe also went 2-for-5 from the seven-hole. Andre Ethier went 0-for-5 but had a groundout RBI in the third.

Giants won so we remain in a tie for first with 61 games left. And I didn't watch any of this game, so unfortunately that's all I got!

cropped image swiped from here

Monday, July 21, 2014

Game 101 Thread: July 21 @ Pirates, 4p

Where they took Hanley after last night's game.

Hyun-Jin Ryu (10-5, 3.44) vs. Edinson Volquez (8-6, 3.65).

Today's theme is injuries. As in, how many more can the already-fragile Dodger lineup take? Thanks to the handiwork of the Cardinals' pitching staff, both Puig and Hanley are questionable for today's game. Three of our five starting pitchers have spent time on the DL, as well as our catcher and third baseman. It's enough to make a general manager wonder if he should sign more players under the age of 30.

Old friend Volquez is having himself a dandy little run right now. According to STATS LLC/ESPN, he "has given up one run or none while going at least six innings in three of his last four home starts. The right-hander also has posted an 0.90 ERA while winning his last four starts overall."

So the 52-46 Pirates, in third place and only 1.5 games back of our buddies the Cards, could present quite a problem for the Dodgers during this nine-game road trip. Let's see if Ryu can channel his inner Kershaw and give the boys a chance to win.

Kemp Key For Dodgers' Second-Half Run

David Schoenfield says what we all are thinking: if Matt Kemp can rise to form and make some more highlight-reel plays in left, or center, or wherever he plays, the Dodgers should be in very good shape:

OK, we're already a couple of days into the second half of the season, which actually begins well past the actual halfway point of the season, but here are the key players to watch for each National League team. [...]

Los Angeles Dodgers: Matt Kemp

Kemp began the second half with his agent Dave Stewart proclaiming that Kemp just wants to play every day and "his hope at some point is to get back to center." That's not going to happen, as the Dodgers finally realized Kemp's bad routes lead to too many bad plays in the outfield (he had the worst Defensive Runs Saved total in the majors in the first half at any position). So that means Kemp will have to hit -- and play left field. He had a solid June, hitting .317/.375/.525. The Dodgers will happily take that at this point.

Keep up the good work, Matt!

ESPN's Bowden Suggests A Trade So Crazy, Even Colletti Would Laugh

Three prime Dodgers prospects for Cole Hamels (link insider only)? Not likely...

Philadelphia Phillies-Los Angeles Dodgers

Phillies receive: CF Joc Pederson, LHP Julio Urias and INF Alex Guerrero

Dodgers receive: LHP Cole Hamels

Hamels has a limited no-trade clause that includes 21 teams he cannot be dealt to. However, he has pre-approved eight teams, and the Dodgers are believed to be on that short list. Imagine a Dodgers rotation of Kershaw, Greinke, Hamels, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Josh Beckett (when he returns). Hamels, 30, has proven to be a good postseason pitcher and boasts a 7-4 record with a 3.09 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 13 playoff starts. He would immediately make the Dodgers the World Series favorites.

The Phillies, meanwhile, are in desperate need of a rebuild, and Pederson would be a major step in the right direction. He'd immediately become their best prospect, and many believe he's major league-ready. He could take over any of the three outfield positions. Pederson currently sports a .319/.437/.568 line at Triple-A, with 11 doubles, 3 triples, 17 home runs, 42 RBIs and 20 stolen bases.

Urias, 17, would become the Phillies' best pitching prospect. He would need a good three or four years of development before he can help the team, but he has plenty of upside. Alex Guerrero missed time earlier this season after teammate Miguel Olivo bit off part of his ear, but he's back now and is sporting a .376/.417/.735 line at Triple-A. He could play second base or shortstop if Chase Utley or Jimmy Rollins were traded. He could also be used as a trade piece, as teams such as the Orioles, Blue Jays, A's and Giants could all use an upgrade.

This would certainly be an unpopular deal for the Phillies to make, but the rebuilding process needs to begin sooner rather than later.

Well the other thing is, this would certainly be an unpopular deal for the Dodgers to make! After all, two of the three of these prospects were on the aforementioned Top 50 Prospects list. Let's hope Ned Colletti doesn't do anything foolish.

Okay, maybe let's just hope Colletti doesn't do anything THIS foolish.

Three Dodgers in Keith Law's Top 50 MLB Prospects

Here's the relevant Dodgers who made the Top 50 Prospects list, from ESPN.com's Keith Law (link insider only):

5. Corey Seager, 3B | Los Angeles Dodgers

Age: 20 | Current Level: High A (Rancho Cucamonga)

Preseason Ranking: 18

Seager had some trouble in the Cal League late last summer after a promotion from low-A, but the Dodgers got him to firm up his front side and stay balanced through contact so he wouldn't overrotate and become too pull-oriented. That change was fortuitous: Seager has destroyed high-A all year, at his hitter-friendly home park and away from it, with 54 extra-base hits through 80 games. He's not going to stay at shortstop, but he'll be the Dodgers' third baseman for six solid years once he gets to the majors at some point next year.

17. Julio Urias, LHP | Los Angeles Dodgers

Age: 17 | Current Level: High A (Rancho Cucamonga)

Preseason Ranking: 14

Ranking the 17-year-old 17th was a coincidence, I swear -- he's just this good, up to 95 consistently with an above-average to plus curveball and average or better changeup, deception in the delivery, lots of torque from his hip rotation, and shocking command for his age. We all should hope the Mexican-born Urias stays healthy as he navigates his late teens. The Dodgers are being extremely cautious with him, so he might not see the majors until 2016 or later.

22. Joc Pederson, CF | Los Angeles Dodgers

Age: 22 | Current Level: Triple-A (Albuquerque)

Preseason Ranking: 41

Pederson should be the center fielder in L.A. right now, but the Blue Man Group has run a series of corner outfielders out there rather than call up Pederson -- who isn't quite as good as his Albuquerque-inflated line might indicate, but would definitely give the Dodgers a boost on defense and in OBP. He still needs work against left-handed pitching, mostly picking up spin, but he's not getting much of that experience in the PCL anyway.

The Giants do not have one player on the Top 50 list.

When Did Tommy Get Slim So Fast?

Tommy looks great here, but I mean, should we be worried?

Another Pederson Plug (from Plaschke)

No one, let alone the Dodgers, appears to be listening to Bill Plaschke's pleas to nab David Price. So, echoing others, tired ol' Plaschke has written another tired ol' article, this time in a plea for Joc Pederson:

If the Dodgers offense continues in this vein, even in the mediocre National League, their playoff hopes could eventually fall off. Despite ranking third in the league in runs scored, their bats have been wildly inconsistent, having scored three runs or fewer in 46 of its 99 games, going 13-34 in those games. This is an offense that needs a burst of energy. This is an attack that needs another July jolt like last season.

In this space previously, the call was for the Dodgers to trade two of their top three star prospects for Tampa Bay star pitcher David Price. Now another mandate has appeared. The one prospect they should keep, center fielder Joc Pederson, should be called up from triple-A Albuquerque immediately to give them that charge.

Pederson is athletic, powerful — with a 1.025 on-base plus slugging percentage — and energetic. Another veteran outfielder will have to be benched to make room for him, but the excitement the kid will provide will overcome any bad chemistry his presence might cause. The Dodgers' uniformed personnel can't say anything, but you know they would love to see a kid such as Pederson give a push to the stiff and struggling clubhouse veterans. Mattingly can't say anything, but you know he's tired of watching his veteran hitters casually toss away midseason at-bats as if they were pesky pieces of junk mail instead of the precious stuff of championships.

While Mattingly publicly continued to contend he is happy with his current roster, he acknowledged Saturday his team needed a spark and that "sometimes, it happens all of a sudden.''

Sometimes, Ned Colletti, it's just a phone call away.

Actually, it's 664 miles by flight, or 787 miles by car (through Flagstaff, Arizona).

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Post-Game 100 Thread: Dodgers Win, Hands Down

Matt Kemp treated us to a little vintage Bison defense in the sixth inning.

DODGERS 4, CARDINALS 3

The Dodgers eked out a win in St. Louis, but this series could mark a turning point in the health of the Dodgers lineup. If this sounds like a repeat from the 2013 NLCS, there's a reason for that.

Kershaw stepped down from godly to merely very good tonight, working with a 3-1 lead until giving up a two-run home run to Bourjos in the sixth. Kershaw left after seven innings with eight strikeouts. (He also stole a base for good measure.)

Offensively, the Dodgers didn't score a ton, but in a refreshing change of pace scored all their runs with two out. Uribe had an RBI jam shot in the second, Kemp and Ethier had back-to-back RBI singles in the third, and AGon, who had been taking a lot of unsuccessful first-pitch hacks up to that point, hit a second pitch for the game-winner. Patience pays!

Now the bad news: With Puig sidelined by Joe Kelly's plunking of his hand yesterday, the Dodgers watched as Carlos Martinez hit Hanley in the shoulder in the fourth...and AGAIN as Rosenthal drilled Hanley on the forearm/hand with a 99-mph heater in the ninth. Results are negative, but we'll see.

And, in a further demonstration of Kershaw's awesomeness, he plunked Mothballs in the ass with his first pitch in the bottom of the fourth, generating warnings all around. If you believe in karma, the next batter hit into a double play. Kershaw did it right: Message sent, nobody hurt. Unlike the Cards, who seem to like going high and tight, or in toward the hands — three times alone in this series.

In unrelated news, Steve Garvey favorited a Star Wars-themed tweet I made. The streams have crossed!

photo via @MLB

Game 100 Thread: July 20 @ Fredbirds, 5p

We need to Photoshop a hologram Kershaw.

Clayton Kershaw (11-2, 1.78) vs. Carlos Martinez (2-4, 4.43).

How quickly things turn. At the All-Star break the Dodgers were on top of the world, alone in first place with four All-Star representatives. Then Puig oh-fer'd his Home Run Derby appearance, and now the team is back in second place, their outfield controversy has rekindled itself, Plaschke is calling for big moves, and Puig is out of the lineup with a sore hand.

Which is when we get to the bright spot: Once every five starts we get to see a Kershaw start, and today he's only being asked to pull the Dodgers out of a nosedive against the very team that handed him his worst postseason loss ever. The Giants lost again, so first place is also at stake. Help us, Obi Wan Kershaw, you're our only hope.

Mattingly Wants Joc in CF

From an MLBTR summary of this Ken Rosenthal video:

Don Mattingly prefers Joc Pederson in center field, but he’s not yet on the active roster. In Pederson’s favor, there’s little doubt that he’s the best defensive option. Some within the organization worry about his minor league strikeout rate, and believe he’ll benefit from further seasoning. If Mattingly gets his way, the Dodgers outfield will become even more crowded, further increasing the likelihood of a trade.

OK, so you've got four outfielders with contracts totaling $429 million and the manager advocating for a minor-league callup? Ned Colletti problems!

Post-Game 99 Thread: Dodgers Explode for Two Runs Again

CARDINALS 4, DODGERS 2

Sorry to pinch Grant Brisbee's schtick in the headline there, but scoring two runs a game is like flushing the toilet after hearing that blorp blorp bubbling sound in the bathtub: It ends with shit everywhere.

For the sixth time in their last seven games, the Dodgers scored two runs or fewer. That strategy may work against the Padres, but not a real team like the Cardinals. Greinke had a rough first inning, allowing four runs, which was all the Cards needed. The Dodgers scratched out runs on RBIs by Hanley and Crawford, but the game was never close.

All-around terrible person Joe Kelly continued his Dodger-hunting ways, this time beaning Puig on the left hand in the third. Puig left the game in the eighth and x-rays were negative.

Oh, and did I mention the Dodgers are no longer in first place?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Game 99 Thread: July 19 @ Cards, 1p

Will we get another Van Slyke-Kelly standoff today?

Zack Greinke (11-5, 2.73) vs. Joe Kelly (1-1, 3.44).

Oh hey, look, it's Joe Kelly, everybody's favorite rib-plunking, standoff losing (above) Cardinals pitcher. Too bad we're not at Dodger Stadium, where he can get the fan reception he deserves.

Last time Greinke pitched, things ended poorly for both the Dodgers and SoSG Nomo. St. Louis isn't coming after Gnomes yet...but there's still time.