Saturday, May 31, 2008

Game 55 Thread: May 31 @ Mets, 12.45p

Chad Billingsley (4-6, 3.68) vs. Mike Pelfrey (2-6, 5.33).

COMMENTS: Billingsley looks to keep the Dodgers' winning streak alive (okay, it's only a one-game streak, but when you've lost six of the last eight, you'll take it), and the Dodgers try and see if their nine-run outburst last night carries any momentum into this afternoon's game. Given Joe Torre's penchant for mixing up the lineup, momentum will likely be lost. But at least we're going up against the Mets' version of Mark Hendrickson (a tall (6'7") pitcher with a losing record (6.08 ERA in May)). Maybe the Dodgers can keep their bats in with Pelfrey? (Wow, that was a stretch of a pun. Sorry.)

At-Game Recap: Dodgers @ Mets, May 30

My first visit to Shea Stadium in over a decade turned out to be a roller-coaster night...even before the game started. Here's a summary of the evening's ups and downs:

Up: Free Snacks! Upon approaching the stadium grounds, I was greeted by youngsters handing out free bags of Cheez Doodles and Honey BBQ Chips. When such landmark events occur, history has shown that the world will divide into two groups: those offering free snacks, and those accepting free snacks. Tonight was no exception. By pocketing a bag of Cheez Doodles, I align myself with the latter.

Down: Very oddly, at least three people seemed to think either I and/or my friends were celebrities or something. Before the game a young couple appeared to be taking pictures of us from two different angles. Then a bit later I caught this strange old guy snapping a shot of us from straight ahead. WTF?? Has SoSG really gotten that big? I am sort of weirded out.

Up: Juan Pierre opens the game by walking on four pitches and promptly stealing second. Later in that inning, amazingly, Loney, Martin, and Ethier get three consecutive 2-out RISP RBI hits. Huh!?! This cannot be happening. Maybe I am a celebrity. I look around for Ashton Kutcher. Nothing. Dodgers 3, Mets 0.

Down: I came to the stadium thinking Clayton Kershaw was pitching. Turns out it was Nik Kershaw. Since I'd never seen either Nik nor Clayton live, I figure six in one, half a dozen in the other. In anycase, Kershaw gives back 2 of the runs in the bottom of the 1st. In the 3rd, he allows the tying run to score on a Beltran sac fly. Disgusted, I take a quick bathroom break. End of 3rd: Dodgers 3, Mets 3.

Up: Just as I'm emerging from my restroom break, I see Russell Martin deposit a 3-1 John Maine offering into the left field bleachers! Not that I'm overly superstitious, but just in case, I try to spend the remainder of the game emerging from the restroom. Not easy. Middle of 4th: Dodgers 4, Mets 3

Down: Kershaw is pulled in the bottom of the 4th after allowing an RBI fielder's choice to Reyes. In keeping with the evening's Chips theme, the Dodgers bring in CHP. End of 3rd: Dodgers 4, Mets 4.

Up: Turns out CHP = Can't Hit Park. He retires 8 of the first 9 guys he faces. Unfortunately, over that span, Mets pitchers retire 8 of the 9 Dodgers they face. Top of 7th: Dodgers 4, Mets 4.

Down: CHP finally falters. To me, a 1-out 2-on single constitutes a big inning, so I can and will now say I was there in attendance the day Fernando Tatis had his big inning against Chan Ho Park. If anyone interprets that another way, that's their issue. End of 7th: Dodgers 4, Mets 5.

Up: We all know what happened in the bottom of the 8th. With Mets pitcher Pedro Feliciano pitching, Juan Pierre hits one of his signature dribbler to short off Mets reliever Pedro Feliciano. Well, with Pedro's brother Jose apparently umping 1st, Pierre is called safe even though, even from my not-particularly-good seats, I could see he was out. Now I know: New Yorkers know how to boo. This opened the floodgates to a Dodger barrage that included six consecutive hits. Middle of 8th: Dodgers 9, Mets 5.

And that's how it ended, with the Dodgers winning 9-5. So, in spite of a sophmore slump (outing-wise) from Kershaw, there was plenty to feel good about: Solid long relief from CHP, nice rebound performances from Broxton and Saito; clutch hitting from all over the lineup; a 4-for-4 day from Martin; and a bad call going our way. We even closed to within 2.5 games of Arizona after their loss. So, all in all it was a good day at the ballpark and a nice farewell-to-Shea experience (the new Citi Field is looking pretty sweet). All that and a bag of chips!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Post-Game 54 Thread: Dodgers Win! Dodgers Win!

This Was a Little Confusing

The Goat is Dead

The Cubs have done it again. I walk away from my desk for a second, and poof... The Rockies seven run lead goes bye-bye. If the Cubs keep this up, there might not be any whiners left. (Though Philly's recent commemorating 100 seasons of sports futility comes close).

I tried to find a picture of a dead goat to post, which was the second dumbest thing I've ever done on GoogleImages. (Ranking behind only this)

Game 54 Thread: May 30 @ Mets, 4p

Clayton "Minotaur" Kershaw (0-0, 3.00) vs. John "Remember the" Maine (5-4, 3.41) (SoSG's first Spanish-American War reference!)

COMMENTS: The Dodgers are of to a rollicking start to this roadtrip, now 0-4 with three games to go. In the past four games we've witnessed impotent offense (particularly with RISP), blown saves by both of our bulwarks (Jonathan Broxton and Takashi Saito), and runners thrown out at home (Juan Pierre, yesterday in the first inning). Despite daily shuffling of the cards, the nine spots in the lineup aren't enough to hide the warning-track power of Jeff Kent, the three-pitch strikeouts from Matt Kemp, the average-plummeting slump of James Loney, or the sub-Mendoza numbers from Chin-Lung Hu. And that's not even counting the worthless spot reserved for Mark "Black Hole" Sweeney, the worst pinch-hitter slot in the majors, let alone the DL spot occupied by Andruw Jones. With Rafael Furcal still unavailable, this comedy of errors is enough to raise the (presidential campaign-paraphrasing) question: are we better off now (under Joe Torre) than we were with Grady Little? I shudder at the thought.

But don't blame the Sons of Steve Garvey, as we are once again pulling out all the stops, putting SoSG's own Eric Karros on a plane to get out to Shea this evening and root on our intrepid Dodger squad. Look for the dashing man with Dodgers body paint swimming around in 50% humidity. (Oh yeah, and EK can't bend at the knees, so don't ask him to pick up the card you want him to autograph off the ground.)

Molly Knight Brings Us Into the Dodgers Clubhouse

Sportswriter and Dodgers fan Molly Knight brings us "Reporting from...the Visitors Clubhouse at Shea" from ESPN the Magazine:

You can't break up the 9.

I know this because a veteran just yelled it at a rookie, but I have no idea what it means. "If you multiply nine by anything, you can add up those two resulting digits and get nine," said Mark Sweeney, the Dodgers' unofficial mathematician. "The number 54 is part of that system, and I can't believe it's not good enough for him."

The him in question is Clayton Kershaw, a freshly minted 20-year-old southpaw whose meteoric rise to the majors is so mythical he was recently nicknamed the Minotaur. But the seven Cardinals he K'd in his stellar debut on Sunday was not enough to keep him from breaking up the nine. Two hours before the first pitch of the opening game of the Dodgers last-ever series at Shea Stadium, the crimson-faced, floppy-haired, definitely still-growing Kershaw traded in his #54 for #22, a number that belonged to his childhood idol Will Clark, and, until five minutes ago, Sweeney. "Shouldn't I be getting a watch or something?" Sweeney asked the four Dodger beat writers on the trip. "Can you guys check and see what kind of a signing bonus he got?"

I wonder if Sweeney likes graphs? The rest of Knight's behind-the-scenes insight includes Matt Kemp, Blake DeWitt and 13 pizzas.

Two Dodgers Make Dubious Top 10 List

From "These 10 guys aren't earning their paychecks" by Dayn Perry at

1. Andruw Jones, Dodgers
Yes, Jones is presently on the disabled list after undergoing knee surgery, but that's merely the start of his problems. On the season, he is batting .165, is on pace for just seven home runs, and has played sluggish defense in center. At the time, Jones' signing looked like a sensible value addition on the part of GM Ned Colletti, but it's turned out to be a low-grade disaster. Perhaps it's the knee, perhaps it's a lack of conditioning — whatever the cause, Jones has seriously hurt the Dodgers' chances thus far. It takes a lot to make Juan Pierre look like an upgrade, but Jones has somehow done it.

8. Brad Penny, Dodgers
Andruw Jones isn't the Dodgers' only problem. Penny was one of the NL's best starters in 2007; this season, however, he's been anything but. An RA of 5.45 at the front of the rotation doesn't cut it, especially when you're trying to keep pace with the Diamondbacks. If the opposite side continues abusing Penny to such an extent, then those numbers aren't going to improve.

Five Things to Reassess

1. Apologies to Derek Lowe. We called him a headcase. The Onion mocked his dippiness. But he proved he's got some life left in him yet, holding the Cubs scoreless and throwing only 91 pitches through seven innings Wednesday. That game ended in heartbreaking loss, but the Dodgers will need more of such performances from Lowe if they're to have a chance this season.

2. Where is Matt Kemp's power? He's hitting for average (.305) and is second on the team in RBIs (28), but Kemp's slugging percentage (.441) is currently 80 points lower than last year's. Should he sacrifice making contact to try hitting more home runs? He already leads the team in strikeouts.

3. Ned's on the hot seat, Joe's not. We said it before, but it's hard to ignore: $50 million on the disabled list. Ned Colletti's contract expires in 2009, but if the Dodgers don't make the playoffs in 2008, Frank McCourt might not be feeling so generous. Meanwhile, Joe Torre has gotten a pass from the media for his incessant lineup shuffling, in part because of the Dodgers' injury situation. Joe's unfireable, Ned's not.

4. The Giants sweep the Diamondbacks. WTF? OMFG! San Francisco outscored Arizona 21-9 over three games, hitting five home runs in the series. Tim Lincecum, the Giants' answer to Clayton Kershaw, is 7-1. Don't look now, but the Giants are only 3.5 games behind the Dodgers...who are 3.5 games behind the Diamondbacks.

5. The Most Interesting Man in the World. What about his polar opposite? The police often question me...just because they find me offensive. My beard alone...well, I don't have a beard. I've been known to cause narcolepsy...just by walking into a room. I am...the Least Interesting Man in the World. I don't drink beer, but if I did...I'd prefer Dos Equis.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Game 53 Thread: May 29 @ Mets, 4p

Brad Penny (5-5, 5.32) vs. Claudio Vargas (1-2, 3.93).

COMMENTS: The Dodgers have a $119 million payroll; the Mets have a $138 million payroll. The Dodgers have a 26-26 record and have lost six of their last ten; the Mets have a 25-26 record and have lost seven of their last ten. The Dodgers have $50 million on the disabled list; the Mets have a Dead Manager Walking. The Dodgers have a mascot in the overpaid, injured veteran; the Mets have a mascot in, well, Mr. Met. I'm hoping for a split in this four-game series.

Post-Series Thoughts: Dodgers Swept At Wrigley

And now, some post-series thoughts from our friend Bit, from the classic movie Tron:









P.S. In addition to the coded message that Bit provided above, he also wanted me to tell you that if we needed to depend on only one run of offense in each of our games this season, our record would be 1-51.

Yoda Is Following Me, Part I

While I have no concrete evidence, I can sense that Yoda is following me. And it's a little unsettling.

To be continued...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Post-Game Thoughts: Dodgers vs. Cubs #2 (May 28)

I think this is what happened before the game:

Torre: Hey Lowe, come on in my office, I want to talk to you about tonight.

Lowe: Yeah, coach.

Torre: Well, you know this is a nationally televised game. So I picked a lineup especially for you! (Shows him the lineup card). See how much offense we are going to generate! Aren't you excited? We have THREE rookie infielders and THREE sophomore players. You have great veteran leadership in Pierre too. So go get 'em buddy. We will spot you one run the entire night. Just go out there and pitch a shutout and you just might win.

Oh crap, I'm sorry, that is almost exactly what I posted yesterday. It was groundhog day at Wrigley all over again, except this time Saito comes into blow the save instead of Broxton (who, by the way, was lights out - where the hell were those 98 MPH fastballs yesterday???). Then Uh-Oh Chan Ho gives up the double and the game winning single to Soriano in extra innings. Again, that damn "Go Cubs Go" song is repeating in my head.

The only thing I left with was seeing fellow Dodger blogger Erin from Beantown West and the following two pictures. The first is a picture of Mark Sweeney's 0.098 batting average (click for larger image)--which didn't budge because he got a walk. I think he started towards the dugout for a couple of steps before he realized which way first base was because he has been so used to turning around in the batter's box after a strikeout.

I also left with a picture of the CUBS WIN sign which should be changed to the CUBS SWEEP.

This is getting pretty pathetic. I think Jerry Crasnick from suggested some free agents that definitely have more pop that this anemic dodger lineup - Kenny Lofton, Sammy Sosa, Jeff Cirillo, Royce Clayton, Reggie Sanders, and dare I say, nah, I can't even write his name. Off to New York for this extremely average team, that wins about half the time and loses about half the time. Go Blue.

Game 52 Thread: May 28 @ Cubs, 5p

Derek Lowe (2-5, 5.03) vs. Carlos Zambrano (7-1, 2.47).

COMMENTS: Hard to muster enthusiasm for today's game. Although Lowe improved in his last outing against the Cardinals, we're facing Carlos "Big Z" Zambrano, who might be able to single-handedly beat the Dodgers with his pitching and hitting. ("Smells like a sweep," says SoSG commenter Karina.) The Dodgers are frustratingly lacking in situational hitting, but through no fault of Erin from Beantown West and our own Alex Cora, both again braving the brutal Chicago wind chill to provide the Dodgers some positive blogger karma. Stay warm, kids!

Poll: Life Choices in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

The journey from cradle to grave is filled with formidable challenges and difficult choices. Sometimes success or failure depends on who you choose to jump into the foxhole with. Below we present four real-life situations and ask you, dear reader, to select who you would most like to have by your side when facing the given situation. While I urge you to think carefully before answering each one, there are no wrong answers. Except maybe answer (b) in the first question.

Choose wisely!

Q1. You find yourself in a dark alley cornered by a group of thugs. Who would you most want to have your back?
Han Solo
Free polls from
Q2. You're a single guy preparing for an evening of cruising the bar scene to pick up women. Who do you pick as your wingman?
Han Solo
Free polls from
Q3. You've been called away on an extended business trip to a foreign country. Who would you feel most comfortable to have periodically check in on your wife while you're gone?
Han Solo
Free polls from
Q4. You've recently inherited a large sum of money from a distant relative. Who would you be most willing to take financial advice from?
Han Solo
Free polls from

Do the Dodgers Want the Eldorado or the Steak Knives?

"Put that coffee down!! Coffee's for closers only."

—Glengarry Glen Ross

Coffee's not for the Dodgers right now. The Dodgers aren't closers—not in a Takashi Saito sort of way, but in a killer instinct sort of way. The Diamondbacks are trying to hand the Dodgers first place on a silver platter, but the Dodgers are having none of it. "First place? Oh, no we couldn't possibly."

Although winning when your rivals are losing may have as little correlation as maintaining a winning streak, the Dodgers inability to close the sale—6-for-51 with runners in scoring position in their past six games—has basically cost them first place. The Diamondbacks have lost six of their past eight (including Brandon Webb's second consecutive loss), Eric Byrnes is on the disabled list...and still the Dodgers are 3.5 games back. It's enough to make a Dodgers fan steal the Glengarry leads.

It gets worse. Rafael Furcal may not be ready for the next homestand (kudos to Ken Gurnick for this lede: "It's understandable why Rafael Furcal would blow out his back. He was carrying the team"). No Dodger starting pitcher has a winning record. Clayton Kershaw can't pitch every game. As we enter Act II of the 2008 season, let's hope the Dodgers can get their act together. Otherwise, it's curtains.


Does Phil Jackson read SoSG? Probably not, but we have the same thing on our minds. From Bill Plaschke:

For the younger Lakers, indeed, it's all about closing, finishing, finding the energy and intensity to drive that last championship stake.

That was the theme Thursday, where, in a building full of bandwagon-jumping celebrities such as Cameron Diaz and Sean "Diddy" Combs, no star was bigger than one who wasn't there.

His name is Alec Baldwin, and his intimidating role as a star salesman in the movie "Glengarry Glen Ross" was featured as one of Phil Jackson's pep talks.

Jackson showed the team the video in which Baldwin's character waves around two brass balls before challenging other salesman to close the deal.

"The money's out there, you pick it up, it's yours," shouted Baldwin in the movie. "You don't, I got no sympathy for you!"

He continued, "You want to go out and close...close, it's yours! If not, you'll be shining my shoes."


"Yeah," said Bryant of the Baldwin video. "We got the message."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Post-Game Thoughts: Dodgers vs. Cubs (May 27)

I think this is what happened before the game:

Torre: Hey Kuroda, come on in my office, I want to talk to you about tonight.

Kuroda: Yeah, coach.

Torre: Well, you know this is a nationally televised game with about a million Japanese press here tonight for your Fukudome matchup. So I picked a lineup especially for you! (Shows him the lineup card). See how much offense we are going to generate! Aren't you excited? We have FOUR rookie infielders and THREE sophomore players. You have great veteran leadership in Pierre too. So go get 'em buddy. We will spot you one run the entire night. Just go out there and pitch a shutout and you just might win.

So it was freezing tonight, I think I had 12 layers on and I was still cold. And the Dodger offense was just as cold. "Close the damn roof!" I thought to myself, but then realized I wasn't in Milwaukee. Kuroda did all he could with the craptacular offensive display by the dodgers - truly offensive. You have to tip your cap to Kuroda for his effort, holding them to one run for a good portion of the game and keeping his pitch count down was impressive (the picture is Kuroda vs Fukudome). Then towards the end of the game we had he bases loaded TWICE with the meat of the lineup coming to bat. But, of course, the Dodgers implode. Man, that was depressing.

Only thing I got to take away was being with the crowded, drunk Cub fans for the long ride back on the El. I'm a glutton for punishment and will go back tomorrow for the last game of the series to see if we can salvage anything. Go Blue!

What Does a Surgeon to the Stars Look Like?

Dr. Neal ElAttrache successfully repaired the cartilage in Andruw Jones' right knee today. Which made me think: What does a man named Dr. ElAttrache look like? My guess:

The real Dr. Neal ElAttrache:

Actually, as long as he ElAttraches Andruw's knee back correctly, I don't care what he looks like.

Game 51 Thread: May 27 @ Cubs, 4p

Hiroki Kuroda (2-3, 3.48) vs. Sean Gallagher (1-1, 5.68).

COMMENTS: Desperate times call for desperate measures. And going 4-for-45 with runners in scoring position definitely qualifies as desperate times. Don't let it be said that Dodger bloggers aren't doing their part to help the team! SoSG and Beantown West are holding a mini Dodger blogger Wrigley Field. That's right, Erin from BW will be in attendance, as will our own Alex Cora. Wonder Twin powers activate...form of clutch hitting! Work your mojo, guys!

While we're all atwitter about our good luck charms, the press is hyping up the Kuroda vs. Fukudome matchup. Unfortunately, Fukudome seems to have the edge:

Japanese reporters agree that Fukudome has Kuroda's number. He hit .330 off the right-hander with four home runs in Japan.

But that won't matter if the Dodgers don't bring some offense...power, situational hitting, anything will do. Let's give Clayton Kershaw something to look forward to in New York besides his first visit to Shea, okay?

Debunking the Myth: Winning Streaks

I generally don't believe in the concept of a team "getting hot" or "going cold". That doesn't mean a team isn't capable of, say, losing 5 consecutive games after winning 10 of 11; I just think attributing such streaks to the team "being in a groove" is largely misguided (though psychologically convenient).

Let's take winning streaks. How often do you see an otherwise mediocre team rip off 5 consecutive wins and hear people say things like "they're in a zone." I think "being in a zone" or "hitting a groove" almost never* has anything to do with it - I instead believe winning streaks are due almost exclusively to two things:

    1) How good the team is (including injuries, suspensions, etc)
    2) Randomness

So I begin by trying to debunk Hypothesis 1: a team improves its chance of winning a game if it's coming off a win in its previous game.

To evaluate this hypothesis, I looked at the games for each of the 30 mlb teams since the beginning of last season - roughly 210 games per team - to see if their winning % was any different in games when coming off a win as they were overall. Here's the result:

(click graph to enlarge)

The bubbles to the upper left of the diagonal represent teams that do indeed seem to show a higher winning percentage coming off a win. Well, exactly half of the 30 MLB teams are above the line, half below. The white dot indicates the overall average, which resides barely above the line (overall, MLB teams won 50.6% of games after a win vs 50% of all games overall).

Well, not exactly conclusive, but the fact that the white bubble lies barely above the line doesn't debunk the hypothesis. Maybe a team really does have a slightly better chance of winning a game when coming off a win. Let's continue.

The next step was to look at Hypothesis 2: a team improves its chance of winning a game if it's coming off a win streak (i.e., is "hot"). To do this, I looked at teams' winning percentage after 2-game winning streaks. Turns out such teams won their next game 50.4% of the time, again barely over 50% but slightly less than the 50.6% above. So thusfar, for small 1-game and 2-game streaks, results are still inconclusive and no concrete myth-debunking has occurred.

When I got to 3-game winning streaks, it started to get interesting. The overall win % in the next game after a 3-game winning streak dropped to 47.7%. And this is based on 776 cases, so it seems like a decent sample size (and I mean 'seems' in the strict statistical sense of the word).

So it seems like the hypothesis is taking some hits. Let's keep going. Win % after a 4-game streaks? 45.8%. And after a 5-game streak, it dropped further to 45.5%. I stopped there, as sample sizes beyond 5-game streaks were getting pretty thin.

Add to that the fact that teams with 3-, 4-, and 5-game winning streaks are more often than not among the better teams, and thus would tend to have an overall expected winning percentage greater 50%. This makes their sub-50% win % after streaks even more telling and further weakens the myth. Factoring this in, let's check it out graphical-style:

(click graph to enlarge)

I won't go so far as to say this proves anything, as a proper analysis probably involves Bernoulli Trials and R squared values and other stuff I'll leave to you mathematicians out there. But the bottom line is if an otherwise mediocre team is coming to LA on a 5-game winning streak, my response will continue to be: "Bring 'em On!"

*The '02 A's and '07 Rockies may have been in a zone.
For a related article regarding the '07 Rockies, click here.
For an article debunking the 'basketball-players-with-the-"hot hand"-myth', click here.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Game 50 Thread: May 26 @ Cubs, 11.20a

Chad Billingsley (4-5, 3.76) vs. Ryan Dempster (5-2, 2.70).

COMMENTS: Following the completion of yesterday's extra-inning 4-3 win (courtesy of Andre Ethier's first career walk-off hit!), all Vin Scully could talk about was the Dodgers' brutal travel schedule to have to catch an evening flight to Chicago for tonight's afternoon game at Wrigley. We at SoSG are worried less about the flight itinerary (they're not going through Heathrow, after all, so at least their bags are safe) and more about the seven-game road trip vs. the Cubs and the Mets, whose aces of Zambrano and Santana are enough to get our own Eric Karros excited and the rest of us (unfettered by vowel-consonant order) nervous.

So, we at SoSG are taking matters into our own hands, and sending our own Alex Cora off to Wrigley Field for games two and three of the Cubs series (AC's attempts to ride stowaway on the Dodgers' flight today failed). Desperate times for desperate measures, right? The last time we pulled a stunt like this, things went pretty well (AC went 2-0 in Milwaukee). Sure, we had to borrow against future blog earnings. It's called trading on margin, baby! Nothing ventured, nothing gained! Baby needs a new pair of shoes! (And the Dodgers could use a Memorial Day win, while we're at it.)

Memorial Day

Memorial Day commemorates the 1.8 million Americans who have died in military service since 1775. "Thank you" seems the least we can say, especially since we'll never hear "You're welcome" (that's what Veterans Day is for). But we'll say it anyway: Thank you.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Game 49 Thread: May 25 vs. Cards, 1p

Clayton Kershaw (MLB debut) vs. Todd Wellemeyer (5-1, 3.25).

COMMENTS: In Greek mythology, the Minotaur was a daunting half-man, half-bull creature who lived at the center of a complex labyrinth and was a formidable opponent. In Dodgers mythology, Clayton Kershaw is a 20-year old pitching phenom whose major league debut today has been so anticipated, that they ran a banner headline during last night's 4-0 debacle just to keep viewers interested in the game. Welcome, young Kershaw; we'd love for you to help us salvage a victory from this lost series. (No pressure or anything.)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Jones to Go Under Knife; Dodgers Fans, Hospital Personnel Celebrate

From Diamond:

Jones to undergo surgery

Andruw Jones will undergo knee surgery on Tuesday and will be placed on the DL...


From Tony Jackson:

it's an arthroscopic procedure, called a debridement, to repair a tear of the medial meniscus (that's cartilage, from what I understand) in his right knee. He'll be out four to six weeks, and while the down time might not help him, it certainly isn't going to hurt him -- or the Dodgers -- given the year he is having. Surgery will be performed by team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache. Jones was placed on the 15-day DL just before game time. The club will purchase the contract of versatile utility man Terry Tiffee, who is having an outstanding season at Triple-A Las Vegas. To make room for him on the 40, Nomar goes to the 60-day DL, which tells you won't be back ANYTIME soon.

Game 48 Thread: May 24 vs. Cardinals, 7p

Brad Penny (5-4, 5.34) vs Kyle Lohse (3-2, 4.71).

COMMENTS: ATTENTION ANDRUW JONES: PLEASE REPORT TO THE O.R. IMMEDIATELY. YOU ARE NEEDED IN SURGERY. After being thoroughly flummoxed by Adam Wainwright's hammer curve (and the rain) last night, the Dodgers look to rebound against Lohse tonight. The Dodgers will need more than Russell Martin to perform, as they squandered scoring opportunities all night and left eight men on base. Meanwhile, which side of Penny will turn up? Although Derek Lowe finally managed to steady himself last night, we're still waiting to see if Penny's arm injury is serious enough to land him on the disabled list. Not that Clayton Kershaw needs the additional pressure. Let's just put it this way: Break out the bats tonight and give Kershaw some confidence for tomorrow, okay?

It's Official! Kershaw to Start Sunday!

From "Kershaw to start Sunday for LA" by Ken Gurnick at

The Dodgers' youth movement hit another milestone Saturday when 20-year-old left-hander Clayton Kershaw was promoted to the Major Leagues from Double-A Jacksonville.

Kershaw is expected to make his debut in a Sunday start against the St. Louis Cardinals. To make room for Kershaw on the 40-man Major League roster, the Dodgers activated Esteban Loaiza from the disabled list and designated him for assignment. To make room for Kershaw on the 25-man active roster, reliever Yhency Brazoban was optioned back to Triple-A Las Vegas.

Okay everybody, just need to put the weight of the entire franchise on the kid's shoulders....

Aaugh! I can't help it! This is going to be awesome! Help us, Clayton Kershaw! You're our only hope!

Kershaw photo by Nati Harnik/AP

Simers Calls Out Dodgers for Not Being Lakers

From "Lakers throw another strike at the Dodgers" by T.J. Simers at the LA Times:

The Lakers have won championships before and with some mega stars bouncing the ball for them, but this love affair with the guys feels different now -- in some respects, a little over the top.

Maybe it's the Hollywood stars who drive by Dodger Stadium on their way to Staples or having the best basketball player in the game. But nothing new there.

So I wonder how much this has to do with L.A. having no NFL team, or more than that, starving Dodgers fans now looking elsewhere for some thrills and promise of continued success?

The Dodgers might counter by pointing to the 3.7 million fans they continue to attract each year, but when it comes to outright popularity here, they are no longer in the same league.

Simers goes on to say the Dodgers lack "a must-watch highlight show," with James Loney and Matt Kemp showing some promise. First of all, you can't write an article about popular Dodgers and fail to mention Russell Martin—which Simers does. Secondly, being a Lakers fan and being a Dodgers fan aren't mutually exclusive. Thirdly, of course L.A. fans are more passionate about the Lakers than the Dodgers—the entire sporting world is more passionate about the Lakers than most sports franchises, period.

And yet, despite the uneven comparisons, Simers' ultimate point is well-taken: Until the Dodgers start winning consistently, they'll always be an entertainment, rather than a passion, for L.A. fans. But when it happens, we'll still be here.

It Didn't Seem Like a Bad Idea at the Time

Earlier: Colletti Coaxes Andruw Jones Into Dodger Bluw

Friday, May 23, 2008

Kershaw Rumblings Reaching Critical Mass

From Tony Jackson:

Kershaw to start Sunday

All indications are that he will be recalled from Jacksonville Sunday morning and start that day's game against the Cardinals, his major-league debut. The Dodgers begin a 17-day stretch without an off-day tonight, so they'll need a fifth starter at least the next three times through the rotation, the first time that has happened this season. That makes this a good time to call him up and get him started, because he can start on a regular basis without having his routine interrupted. Not sure what will happen after that. He will likely fly to Los Angeles tomorrow. That means Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda will each be pushed back a day, so the Kuroda-Fukudome matchup won't happen until Tuesday.

From Kevin Pearson at Diamond's blog:

Dodgers Kershaw to debut Sunday...

It appears as though Dodgers pitching phenom Clayton Kershaw will make his major league debut on Sunday and start against the St. Louis Cardinals. Currently at Class AA Jacksonville, Kershaw was pulled after one inning Thursday night to help put him in line to start on Sunday.

Game 47 Thread: May 23 vs. Cardinals, 7.30p

Derek Lowe (2-4, 5.34) vs. Adam Wainwright (3-2, 3.25).

COMMENTS: Good news: The Dodgers have won three straight! Bad news: Lowe (1-4 record, 5.93 ERA lifetime versus the Cards) is starting tonight. Good news: Wainwright has had two consecutive rough starts! Bad news: Big, Bad Albert is feeling just fine. Good news: Rafael Furcal might be back tonight! Bad news: So might Andruw Jones. It's a mixed bag for both these second-place teams; which one will rise above?

Off-Day Puzzle Solution: Watch Your Vowel Movements

The correct answer to yesterday's puzzle is c. No, Chewbacca isn't from Switzerland (nor is Yoda from Dagobah or Geronimo Gil technically from Mexico City). The answer is c because both parts of each analogy stem have the same pattern of vowels (V) and consonants (C) throughout the length of the word(s):

  • Hiroki Kuroda (C-V-C-V-C-V C-V-C-V-C-V) and Japan (C-V-C-V-C)
  • Geronimo Gil (C-V-C-V-C-V-C-V C-V-C) and Mexico City (C-V-C-V-C-V C-V-C-V)
  • Yoda (C-V-C-V) and Dagobah (C-V-C-V-C-V-C)
  • We mix up the pattern itself with Chewbacca (C-C-V-C-C-V-C-C-V) and Switzerland (C-C-V-C-C-V-C-C-V-C-C), but nonetheless they still match each other.

Gold star goes to Quadsevens who, in his efforts to solve the puzzle, was responsible for almost 70% of wookieepedia's traffic yesterday.

Hope you enjoyed. Next Off-Day Puzzle: June 9.

Results Are In!

Now comes the part of exam-taking everybody dreads: the public posting of scores. The good news is, we're a little more considerate than your freshman year math professor, so we're only posting the top scores (if you haven't yet taken the exam, you can still do so here).

The bad news is, due to technical difficulties, we were unable to do a 100% accurate tallying of results. Our results-gathering mechanism was down during peak test-taking hours of 9:30am to 1:00pm PT on quiz-day. Many scores were thus not recorded, meaning we've certainly omitted folks who deserve to be listed. Please accept our apologies - the problem has been fixed so everything should work swimmingly for the next quiz.

Nonetheless, we did our best to compose an accurate honor roll, so here goes:

Gold Star (8 of 8):

  • Steve (no, not SoSG Steve Sax - his score doesn't count)
  • Karina (¡felicidades!)
  • gggg (good job, bad name)

Silver Star (7 of 8):

  • Nina
  • Dani

Bronze Star (6 of 8):

  • FelixP
  • (no name entered)
  • Stacene
  • Natalie
  • Linda
  • PIMP

Congratulations to all!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pierre's Base Stealing, Low SLG Draw Attention's Jerry Crasnick's latest "top nine" list names baseball's top base stealers, and Juan Pierre checks in at #7:

In 1998, Pierre and Chone Figgins were teammates for Colorado's Class A Northwest League club in Portland, Ore. They ate hot dogs by the box because they couldn't afford anything else, and talked wistfully of playing in the big leagues while watching "SportsCenter."

Ten years later, Pierre ranks first among active big leaguers with 407 steals, and Figgins is at 215 and counting. Not too shabby for a couple of dreamers.

Pierre, as you might expect, approaches base stealing from every conceivable angle. He spends hours studying video, knows which tracks are the quickest, and works to refine his jumps during batting practice. No detail is too trivial for his consideration.

That 45-for-69 effort in Florida four years ago doesn't look real good in hindsight, but Pierre has become more efficient with maturity and time.

Given his .373 career slugging percentage, he needs all the help he can get turning singles into doubles.

Wow, quite a back-handed compliment there at the end. And if it's indeed back-handed, wouldn't we call it a "slap hit"?

Someone at the Onion Is Watching the Dodgers

Russell Martin's Agent: Playing A Little Greed(o)y?

Okay, the Star Wars theme of today's post is starting to stretch a bit...nevertheless, Jayson Stark says that Russell Martin's agent is not entertaining any of the Dodgers' overtures to sign a contract:

Russell Martin: You might be surprised that many people now casually refer to Martin as the best catcher in baseball. But though the other young contenders for that honor -- Victor Martinez, Joe Mauer, Brian McCann -- all signed multiyear deals early, Martin has had other ideas.

Dodgers GM Ned Colletti told Rumblings the club approached Martin's agent, Bob Garber, last fall and again this spring about a contract that most likely would have stretched through Martin's first year or two of free agency (i.e., through 2013 or '14). They were told, "No thanks."

So there are no immediate plans to resume that conversation. And there are no indications the Dodgers have approached any of their other young players -- such as James Loney, Jonathan Broxton or Chad Billingsley -- about any similar deals. But presumably, that's only because the club wants to let those players establish themselves. Colletti says his team has no fear of such a contract, as long as it goes to the right guy.

"If you know the person, and you know his priorities, and you know what kind of player he is now, and you know what kind of player you project him to be, and all those things are positive, then it's a great idea," the GM said. "But if you have any doubt about any of that, then you're really rolling the dice."

Tough talk from Ned, especially given the limited offensive options available on the current squad. Think this through further we must. Hmm.

Speaking of Star Wars...

Post-Game 46 Thoughts: You Learn Something New...

Had a great time at the ballpark last night, watching the Dodgers win 5-2 and seeing James Loney's massive bomb that was not in question from the second he hit it. Winds were high early on, blowing trash all over the field (particularly congregating around Juan Pierre in left, which I found magnetically ironic), but the subsided in time for FJL to hit his towering homer. Nice outing by Hiroki Kuroda, continued impressive play from Blake DeWitt, growing concern about what Jeff Kent is doing (or rather, isn't doing) in the four-hole, and an above-average review on my first Mrs. Beasley cupcake ($5 is a bit pricey, though).

But what I really took away from the evening was a conversation I overheard from the two guys behind me during the game (which, strangely enough, totally fits in with EK's latest post) (I assure you, this was not by design here at SoSG).

"Hey, do you know what the name of the Cantina band was in Star Wars?" [Sax: For the record, I do know, since I've got the action figures; I stayed quiet.]


"Figri'n Dan and the Modal Nodes."

"Huh? Did they ever mention their name in the movie?"

"Nope. It's kind of like they never say 'Tusken Raider,' they only say 'Sandpeople,' but Tusken Raider it is."

"How the hell do you know 'Figri'n Dan'?"

"I looked it up on Wookiepedia."

Wookiepedia? F'n brilliant, though I had to look it up myself to be sure...and sure enough, it exists. Wow. Hilarious. You learn something new every day.

They also proceeded to sing the entire cantina band song, in unison. At least it wasn't the yub yub song, I suppose.

Plants Are To Carbon Dioxide As SoSG Is To My Time

Here's an SAT question for you (there really is a deducible answer):

Hiroki Kuroda is to Japan;
   as Geronimo Gil is to Mexico City;
      as Yoda is to Dagobah;
         as Chewbacca is to _________?

   a) Panama
   b) Senegal
   c) Switzerland
   d) United Arab Emirates


UPDATE (11am PST):

Still no thoughts? Yoda is looking disappointed...

HINT #1: No knowledge of any of the people or places mentioned is needed to answer correctly.

HINT #2: If you have the right answer, you will know it.

HINT #3 (12:38pm PST): Re-reading this post might indirectly help.

Update (3:15pm PST): Orel and quadsevens both correctly figured it out (it's c). Answer explained here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Beware: This Man Is Coming to Dodger Stadium

From "Pujols takes out Padres pitcher, catcher in third" at

San Diego Padres pitcher Chris Young and catcher Josh Bard were knocked out of Wednesday night's game against the St. Louis Cardinals by Albert Pujols within a span of two batters.

Pujols hit a line drive off Young's face in the third inning, forcing the right-hander to leave the game. Young immediately fell on his backside and put his right hand up to his face. Blood was running down his face....

According to the Padres, Young suffered a nasal fracture and laceration to the nose and was transported to Scripps Green Hospital for further evaluation.

Pujols' shot ricocheted to the left side of the infield for a single and loaded the bases with one out. After Ryan Ludwick's grounder knocked in one run and advanced the runners, Troy Glaus lined a single to right field.

Aaron Miles and Pujols scored on the play. But right fielder Brian Giles' throw arrived at the plate at the same time as Pujols, who slid and caught Bard's left leg.

Bard went down in a heap and stayed on the ground for a few minutes before he was helped off the field, dragging his left leg.

Game 46 Thread: May 21 vs. Reds, 7p

Hiroki Kuroda (1-3, 3.67) vs. Johnny Cueto (2-4, 5.75).

COMMENTS: Infused with the heady aroma of a series win over Cincinnati, the Dodgers send Kuroda to the mound tonight for the sweep. A victory would not only give Kuroda his second win of the season but also bring the Dodgers to .500 (7-for-14) sans Rafael Furcal—a pretty decent record without the contributions of this year's MVP. Meanwhile, life without Raffy is looking up. Chad Billingsley just might be the stopper we've been yearning for. The heretofore unthinkable outfield of Juan Pierre, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier is producing and will finally get some consistent playing time. The bullpen is back to its nasty self. All that stands between the Dodgers and Furcal's scheduled return Friday is Cueto, who averages about a strikeout per inning but also allows a lot of home runs. The Dodgers, who have been shut out only twice this season, figure to score some runs for Kuroda. Hopefully his string of hard-luck outings will end tonight.

For those attending tonight's game: Leave early, as you'll be competing with the Lakers (Staples Center, 6p) and the American Idol final (Nokia Theatre, 5p). Our own Steve Sax will be on the Field level, third-base side—give a holler in the comments section if you want to meet up!

Congratulations, Jon Weisman!

Have you heard? Dodger Thoughts' Jon Weisman is writing a book, 100 Things Dodger Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die, due out next year from Triumph Books. SoSG would like to congratulate Jon on this achievement—and offer a cover idea....

(Click on picture for original inspiration.)

More to come as we think of 'em!

To Graph or Not To Graph: That is Never a Question

I don't know why, but I have a strange fascination with these sector graphs. Maybe it's because they're graphs, who knows. In anycase, they inspired me to take a moment and put together this bad boy:

(click graph to enlarge)

It's pretty straightforward:

  • The average age of the team is plotted along the X axis
  • The number of games above/below 500 is plotted along the Y axis
  • The size of the circle corresponds to the team's total payroll
  • The color of the circle designates the league or division in which the team plays

After an admittedly brief look at the results, here are my - you guessed it - five takeaways:

      1. Rich doesn't mean good. A lazy eyeballing of the graph doesn't reveal any obvious pattern of bigger circles above the 0.500 line or smaller ones below it. While the free-spending Red Sox, Angels, and Cubs are all safely above water, similarly sized behemoths representing Detroit, Seattle, and of course the Yankees are significantly submerged.

      2. Young does mean cheap. Each of the 11 smallest circles are bunched safely to the left of the centerline (Florida, Tampa Bay, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Washington, Kansas City, Minnesota, Arizona, Baltimore, Texas, and Colorado). Similarly, the 5 biggest circles are all to the right (NY Yankees, Detroit, NY Mets, Boston, and Chicago Sox). The biggest exception to this rule is the Angels, who have the 6th biggest payroll yet the 11th youngest team.

      3. By some bastard child of the transitive property, there is little correlation between age and ability to win. Both the 5 winningest teams (Arizona, Cubs, Boston, St Louis, the Angels, and Tampa Bay) and the 5 losingest (San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Colorado, and Detroit...boy, the NL West sucks) are scattered broadly across the age axis.

      4. The Marlins and Rays know something we don't. See that teeny tiny dot waaay off to the left? That's Florida. Despite the oft-noted observation that their entire payroll is smaller than A-Rod's (and less than half the payroll of the 2nd cheapest team), and the fact that they're far and away the youngest team, they still boast the 3rd best record in the NL even after a recent 2-5 slide. And Tampa Bay, with both the 2nd cheapest and 2nd youngest team, are winning at an even greater clip.

      5. The Dodgers are slightly above average in all three dimensions. This is indicated by their position just offset to the upper right of center. Of the 30 MLB teams, they are the 13th oldest, 11th winningest, and 8th richest.

While none of these observations is revolutionary, a properly- conceived graph can tell the story like nothing else can. And yes, it's still early - it'll be interesting (at least to me) to see how this graph looks at the end of the season.

Thanks for reading. Please share any thoughts or questions.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Passing of the Torch?

Game 45 Thread: May 20 vs. Reds, 7p

Chad Billingsley (3-5, 4.34) vs. Matt Belisle (1-3, 7.45).

COMMENTS: You can't pick your spots in the Dodgers' formidable lineup. At least, that's what Reds manager Dusty Baker has got to be thinking after Russell Martin, as the winning run, gets to third with one out in the ninth; Baker proceeds to issue free passes to Free James Loney and Matt 4-for-4 Kemp, only to get burned when Blake DeWitt hits DeWinning base hit to left. Vin Scully gets at least one more night to drive home the point that the Reds have not won at Dodger Stadium since 2005. But tonight, things get even more testy now that Gary Bennett joins Andruw Jones on the DL. Without Bennett (.190) and Jones (.167) in the lineup, will the Dodgers have a fighting chance?

Mike Piazza Retires

Piazza was the MVP of the 1996 All-Star Game.

From "Piazza, one of best hitting catchers in history, retires" (AP/

Mike Piazza is retiring from baseball following a 19-season career in which he became one of the top-hitting catchers in history.

"After discussing my options with my wife, family and agent, I felt it is time to start a new chapter in my life," he said in a statement released by his agent, Dan Lozano. "It has been an amazing journey."

The 39-year-old Piazza was not on a team this season.

Taken by the Los Angeles Dodgers on the 62nd round of the 1988 amateur draft, Piazza became a 12-time All-Star, making the NL team 10 consecutive times starting in 1993.

He finished with a .308 career average, 427 home runs and 1,335 RBI for the Dodgers (1992-98), Florida (1998), New York Mets (1998-05), San Diego (2006) and Oakland (2007).

Congrats, Mike! Too bad you'll be entering the Hall of Fame as a Met.

photo by Roberto Borea/AP

Padres Hit Rock Bottom, Meaning They're About to Tear Off a 20-Game Winning Streak

From "Padres’ woes ignite Towers inferno" by Tim Brown at Yahoo! Sports:

"We're bad, no question about it," [Padres GM Kevin] Towers said. "There comes a point in time we can't say, 'It’s early.' There’s nothing to lead me to believe – or the fans to believe – we're going to turn this thing around."

He promised changes. "Wholesale," he said. And he waved his hands at the clubhouse, meaning most of the players in it, he had little use for right now.

"I'm certainly not going to watch this for another four months," he said.

Judging by the stands at Petco Park on Monday night, he's not alone in that.

"If you hear the word that morale is good in this clubhouse, we've got major issues," he said. "The morale should be horrible. For winning-type players, morale should be horrible. I know it's horrible in the coaches' office. And it's horrible upstairs."


And now it's already reaching a time the Padres will have to think about trading for the future, even parting with players Towers likes, such as Greg Maddux (who has a full no-trade clause but might consider finishing what could be his last season for a contender), Randy Wolf, [Brian] Giles, whomever.

Rare bluntness from a general manager. But I wonder if they're desperate enough to trade with the Dodgers?


More on the Padres' woes:

Punchless Padres get ready for 'wholesale' changes (Bill Shaikin, LA Times)
With little power or speed, cellar-dwelling Padres don't have a prayer (Scott Miller,

Our Recommendation: Surgery

From "Surgery not a certainty, but Jones has tear in right knee" at

Andruw Jones underwent an MRI on Monday that revealed a slight cartilage tear in his right knee, and the Dodgers will wait a few days to see if the center fielder will have to undergo surgery.

"Hopefully, I can do it [surgery] in the offseason," Jones said, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Jones was scratched from Monday night's game against Cincinnati because of swelling due to fluid buildup. He said he felt discomfort during the Dodgers' weekend games against the Angels.

No, Andruw, hopefully you can have surgery right now. (I'll drive!) And hopefully the Dodgers have an insurance policy that covers your time on the DL.

...But Gems Can Still Be Found

From "How the Lakers solved their chemical imbalance" by Mark Heisler at the LA Times:

Forget your father's Lakers, these aren't even your Lakers.

LA Times' Hard-Hitting Journalism Redesigned For Modern Attention Spans

Today's LA Times Sports Section has a 96-point font banner-headline, loudly trumpeting, Can they save their sports?"

An interesting lead, right? And full-color pictures of Sidney Crosby, Candace Parker, and Big Brown kick off separate pieces on whether the declines in interest of hockey, women's basketball, and horse racing can be reversed through the coming of electric personalities such as the ones pictured.

Even better, the LAT has brought in the big guns--respected sports columnists of the paper--to opine about the situations confronting the new stars in each of three sports: Helene Elliott on Crosby; Kurt Streeter on Parker; and Bill Dwyre on Big Brown. And, they've got David Carter, executive director of the Sports Business Institute at USC, to weigh in as well.

So sit down, fearless reader! Here comes an insightful set of articles about a thought-provoking issue, right? I mean, it's got #1 article placement, color pictures, big-shot columnists, and a super-big headline usually reserved for stories like "War Is Over" or "Man Lands On Moon". This has going to be good. Better get comfortable!

But wait! Each "article" is actually only three paragraphs long. And the supporting commentary from Carter? One paragraph.

Seriously, go read it yourself. I can wait all of two minutes.

This has got to be a new low even for the LA Times, in its continuing efforts to replicate USA Today. What, the four column-inch, banner advertisement at the bottom of the page has truncated the opinions of each columnist? Or the interview with Carter ran really, really short?

For those of you that can't stomach reading all of four paragraphs each, here's the cliff notes version of the cliff notes "articles": No. Yes. No.

Bill Plaschke would be proud.

All the rest of us weep.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Five Things I Never Thought I'd Say

1. Blake DeWitt, starting third baseman. 6-for-6 with the bases loaded. Tied for second on the team in home runs. Dependable defense. "This kid has the calm of a veteran player," says Joe Torre, and DeWitt has earned the starting third base position even after the return of Andy LaRoche. Much like Russell Martin before him, DeWitt has seized a role and it doesn't look like he plans on letting go.

2. Matt Kemp, defensive threat. I've always considered Kemp a four-and-a-half tool player, docking him half a point for his evolving baserunning skills (although the speed is definitely there). I've taken his arm for granted...until Monday night, when he turned two potential errors into assists. So his fielding may be evolving as well, but not since Raul Mondesi have the Dodgers seen a player with so much raw talent. Fortunately, Kemp seems to have a steadier head than Mondy.

3. Juan Pierre, under-appreciated. By Dodgers blogs, anyway. Yes, his skills are limited (a two-tool player?), although Pierre, a lifelong center fielder, has adjusted to left field nicely. Offensively, it's simple: I like it when he gets on base. Now if he could only do it more often.

4. $18 million on the disabled list. We have an excuse (it's no longer mental!). Now put Andruw Jones on the DL, get him away from the boo-birds and let him clear his head. Ease him back with a rehab assignment in Las Vegas and get Don Mattingly to solidify his swing mechanics. Maybe some of that salary can be salvaged.

5. Thank you, Chan Ho Park. It's been seven years since his last victory as a Dodger, but Park is writing a nice second chapter in Los Angeles by providing steady long-relief work. He even had a decent spot start this weekend, helping the Dodgers to a rare win in Angel Stadium. Although he lacks the efficiency to be a regular starter, Park deserves to be commended if only for keeping Clayton Kershaw's seat warm.

Youth Movement Backlash Backlash

From "New ideology will be on display this week" at

The four teams that have turned the baseball standings upside down economically this season showcase themselves and their new school ideology this week.

Never mind those payroll-busting New York Yankees who took a financial-blistering from senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner last week, and focus instead on those penny-pinching darlings in first or second place in four of the game's six divisions: The NL West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks, who travel to the NL East-leading Florida Marlins for a three-game series starting Tuesday; and the AL East-challenging Tampa Bay Rays, who are at the AL West-challenging Oakland A's for a three-game set opening Monday.

Suddenly, it's not about how much money an attractive off-season veteran player commands or a team spends, but how a developing young player performs and a team schemes. The buzzword in baseball: Young players are an organization's most valuable asset.


Through the first quarter of the season, youth-dominated teams in the bottom 10 rung of the payroll ladder are outperforming the money-hoarding, veteran-laden 10 teams in the top layer.

Through Sunday's games, the bottom 10 — from the Marlins at $21 million to the Texas Rangers at $67 million — are a combined 17 games over .500. The top 10 — from the Yankees at $209 million to the Atlanta Braves at $102 million — are nine games over.

That's an eight-game gap (just a few days ago it was 18, but the wealthy teams have rallied). Even more startling, it's a $79 million gap between the average top 10 payrolls of $131 million and average bottom 10 payrolls of $52 million.

Game 44 Thread: May 19 vs. Reds, 7p

Brad Penny (5-4, 5.09) vs. Bronson Arroyo (2-4, 6.08).

COMMENTS: What do the Dodgers and Yankees have in common? Let us count the ways: (1) Joe Torre. (2) Overpriced center fielders. (3) Got thumped by Interleague rival this weekend. Want more bad news? Andruw Jones went 0-for-10 with four strikeouts and a walk against the Angels, according to Ken Gurnick. Also:

Penny has not looked anything like the two-time All-Star that opened last season 13-1. For comparison sake, he brings a 5.09 ERA into Monday night's start, double the 2.54 ERA he had after the same nine starts last year....He already has as many losses as he did all last season.

Meanwhile, "Arroyo has pitched 12 consecutive scoreless innings and has allowed just one run over his last 15 innings," so don't be fooled by the losing record and fat ERA. All signs point to a Dodgers loss tonight—which probably means they'll win, because I can't figure this team out.

Jones to Marlins! Jones to Marlins!

Giddy with anticipation, I clicked the link:

Outfielder Jacque Jones has reached agreement on a deal with the Florida Marlins.

Jones, who hasn't faced live pitching since May 4, expects to spend two or three days with Florida's extended spring program in Jupiter before joining the major league club later this week, said his agent, Damon Lapa.

After Jones hit .165 in 24 games with Detroit to begin the season, the Tigers designated him for assignment on May 5. Detroit released Jones on May 13, allowing him to negotiate with clubs as a free agent.

Detroit is responsible for the bulk of Jones' $6 million contract this season, while Florida will pay him the pro-rated portion of the minimum salary over the next 4½ months.

Oh, well.

Have You Been Paying Attention?

It's Monday! And just like in school, that means it's pop-quiz time (yes, I once had a teacher who employed the flawed "pop quiz every Monday" strategy).

Anyhow, below is an 8-question quiz about our beloved blog. All questions refer to SoSG posts within the past 4 months, so recently indoctrined readers needn't feel at a disadvantage.

Good luck!