Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dodger Elation Turns To Horror: Colletti Mistakenly Signs Man-E-Faces

An afternoon of joy for Dodger fans suddenly turned to an evening of tragedy, as a hastily-called press conference confirmed that Dodger General Manager Ned Colletti mistakenly acquired Man-E-Faces rather than Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez.

"I regret to inform Dodger fans everywhere, as well as my boss Frank McCourt, that I may have screwed up here a bit," said Colletti at the press conference. "When [Red Sox GM] Theo Epstein told me that we could 'steal Manny by giving up [Dodger prospect Andy] LaRoche,' I was so ecstatic that I forgot to confirm Manny's last name. Upon further review of the contract I signed, it seems that I gave away LaRoche not for Manny Ramirez, but for a fictional character from the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon.

"For failing to read the fine print," Colletti continued, "I am truly sorry and apologize for any confusion I may have caused."

McCourt stood behind Colletti at the podium, weeping into his Boston Red Sox hat.

"When Theo told me I was picking up a three-tool player, I assumed it was Ramirez," continued Colletti. "Still, I'm hoping that Man-E-Faces' alternate human, robot, and monster faces might give our lineup the flexibility it needs to adapt to game situations."

It is suspected that Colletti may also have been confused by Man-E-Faces' good friend, Ram-Man, who shares a name that almost sounds like a common nickname of the Red Sox' Ramirez.

McCourt left the press conference hastily, only mumbling under his breath as he exited the room. "The least he could have done was pick up He-Man, for pete's sake. Shit, we still need a power bat. This guy's orange plastic gun is useless."

The press conference also ended very awkwardly. After Colletti had left the podium and McCourt had left to go watch the Red Sox game, a shirtless Joe Torre entered the room wearing a blonde wig. "The moral of this story," Torre told a perplexed group of reporters, "is to always read the fine print before you sign any legal contracts. And it helps if you can consult a lawyer!" As Torre walked away from the microphones, a little man in a red robe and floppy hat appeared to levitate across the room.

Bagging Ramirez May Have Saved Colletti's Job

John Donovan of also likes the Manny deal for the Dodgers--and writes that it gives Ned Colletti a stay of execution by bringing Frankie the Red Sox's crown jewel:

Ned Colletti has made a lot of -- to put it more kindly than many people in Southern California do -- questionable decisions during his tenure as the Dodgers general manager. And maybe someday, Thursday's deadline-pushing trade for Manny Ramirez will get lumped into that category.

But for right now, Colletti has pulled off the coup of his GMing career, a trade for a future Hall of Fame slugger that immediately, and perhaps irrevocably, changes the look and feel of the heretofore gutless National League West. With Ramirez in Tinsletown, the Dodgers go from contenders to favorites, from clueless to clued-in. The kicker: It cost them next to nothing to get there.

Ramirez to L.A. is all upside for the Dodgers. Even if Manny reverts to being the Bad Manny -- the one that so clearly wanted out of Boston in the last few weeks that he ripped management, pushed aside an elderly Red Sox employee, alienated teammates, sat out a game with phantom injuries, dogged it in the field (while yukking it up in front of the fans) and slow-poked it down the line -- all the Dodgers have to do is bench the guy. Or release him. They're not paying him a dime. (The Red Sox, in their haste to wash their hands of Bad Manny, are picking up the $7 million remaining on his 2008 salary.)

In fact, there is every reason to believe that we'll see nothing but the Good Manny in Chavez Ravine. Ramirez will use these last two months of the regular season -- and any postseason that the Dodgers can muster up -- to show that he not only is still a formidable offensive force (his career OPS is .999, and if he's slowed down any lately, it's only slightly) but a fan-friendly, teammate-loving, loyal L.A. employee. His free-agency goal -- said to be at least a four-year deal worth at least $20 million a year -- rides on it.

Manny being Manny? In these next couple of months, Manny will be practically angelic.

With Ramirez in the lineup, the Dodgers don't have to worry about handing out playing time to Andruw Jones or Juan Pierre, two of Colletti's more expensive and most noticeable flops. With Ramirez clobbering home runs, even in spacious Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers -- 15th in the 16-team NL in homers -- now have a legitimate bat to go with emerging sluggers Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier and still-capable veteran second baseman Jeff Kent.

Does this single move make the Dodgers world beaters, or even World Series material? Probably not. But it gives them more oomph and more chance to get there than the Diamondbacks, their main competition in the West. And it gives Colletti a little more time to make up for the things he didn't get right.

Also note that Donovan indicates that Ramirez needs to join Kemp and Ethier in the field, and not the other two people for whom Colletti grossly overpaid.

Keith Law Thinks Dodgers Did Well...With A Caveat

Now, before you get all excited, know that's Keith Law likes the deal from the perspective of all three teams involved. Everybody's a winner at the Keith Law Carnival, so step right up! But here's what he said about the Dodgers (insider only, no link; my bold emphasis at the end):

The Dodgers get much better this season in exchange for a great young arm who is probably three years away and a third baseman on whom they appeared to place little or no value. You have to imagine this is seen as a huge win within the Dodgers' front office.

If Ramirez, now freed from the team that "doesn't deserve" him, stops mailing in various at-bats and hits toward the right-tail end of his abilities (as he hit in April, for example), the Dodgers have just made a quick two-win upgrade in exchange for a good player they weren't going to use and a quality prospect, and they didn't have to add to their payroll. The move keeps Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones on the bench where they belong, and I wouldn't be surprised if the team were to try to outright Jones off the roster and assign him to Triple-A to clear the roster spot. The move makes the Dodgers slight favorites to win the NL West, assuming that they put the right personnel on the field.

The right personnel on the field does not include Andruw Jones or Juan Pierre--BOTH OF WHOM ARE STARTING TONIGHT in what I hope is to allow the obligatory "farewell waves to the crowd" for at least one of those players. Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp simply cannot ride the pine if we hope to make a run.

Game 108 Thread: July 31 vs. D'backs, 7p

Derek Lowe (8-8, 3.74) vs. Brandon Webb (14-4, pi).

COMMENTS: Manny manny manny, manny Manny manny Manny Manny manny manny manny. Manny. Manny? Manny! Manny! Oh yeah, and there's a game tonight, against the team one game ahead of us and in the division lead, so if we win, we're in first place. The Snakes have their ace, Webb, on the mound; but Lowe has to be so stoked about getting Manny (and finally some potential run support) that he may bring his good stuff to the game tonight. Don't get distracted by the Manny mania, Dodgers--we have an important game to play tonight, the first of four against the Snakes.

ESPN Fans Think Dodgers Got Best End of Three-Way Deal

In other news, Montana and Wyoming are scheduled to get the internet in 2010.

Say It With Us: Manny. Kemp. Ethier.

So our third baseman of the future is reunited with his brother in Pittsburgh. Does this mean Blake DeWitt gets the starting job in 2009? More importantly, what do we do with FIVE outfielders? This trade only works if the starting outfield goes:

  • Manny Ramirez.
  • Matt Kemp.
  • Andre Ethier.

Rinse and repeat. Andruw Jones and Juan Pierre must stay on the bench! You want speed? Kemp and Russell Martin. You want power? Manny. Kemp. Ethier. Reports Manny Ramirez Traded to Dodgers, Andy LaRoche to Pirates

Manny traded to Dodgers, Bay headed to Boston (

Jason Bay headed to Boston as part of the deal. No word yet on who the Dodgers are giving up.


All baseball-related servers are sluggish!


It's LaRoche. From Robothal:

Pirates outfielder Jason Bay is headed to the Red Sox. The Pirates will receive Andy LaRoche and right-hander Bryan Morris from the Dodgers and outfielder Brandon Moss and releiver Craig Hansen from the Red Sox.

The Red Sox will pay all of the approximately $7 million remaining on Ramirez's contract.

The Pirates have cornered the market on LaRoches!

Jason Bay to the Dodgers?'s trade deadline blog is reporting that left fielder Jason Bay may be headed from Pittsburgh to the Dodgers.

If this turns out to be true, I hope we gave the Pirates Andruw Jones in return.

UPDATE 1.32p: See post below: the above link has been updated to say that it's uncertain whether the Dodgers got Bay, or Manny Ramirez, or none of the above...

McCourt Will Just Have To Keep Coveting Manny Ramirez From Afar WHOOPS SCRATCH THIS

Frank McCourt's continued attempts to make the Dodgers "Red Sox West" hit a speedbump at today's trade deadline--despite the Dodgers' involvement in the final hour before the deadline:

It appears that discussions with the Marlins, which had hit a snag, are still ongoing. And the Dodgers, who checked in in the afternoon, may be in the running as well.

There is skepticism as to whether the Dodgers can put together a deal quickly. According to people familiar with the talks, the Dodgers have offered young outfielder Andre Ethier, but Boston is believed to prefer the ultra-talented Matt Kemp. Then later, L.A. supposedly moved Ethier out of the deal.

Sorry, Frank! No ManRam for you (we hope)!

But the good news is, we Dodger fans can still watch Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier up close!

UPDATE 1.32p: Holy crap, I may be wrong on this. Now is reporting that we may have landed Ramirez after all:

Also, keep in mind that after talks fizzled regarding a three-way deal with Boston/Florida/Pittsburgh, the Dodgers jumped into the ring as a possible suitor for Manny Ramirez. If so, there could be a scenario in which the Red Sox still landed Bay while the Dodgers got Ramirez. This remains pure speculation, but the addition of the Dodgers in the mix certainly has made it a possibility.

Griffey to White Sox. Wow!

Griffey accepts trade to White Sox (

Dodgers, Unlikely To Land Professor, Shift Trade Focus to Gilligan, Maryann

Buster Olney blogged this morning that the Dodgers are unlikely to get Greg Maddux through a trade (which may not be such a bad thing):

The conversations between the Dodgers and Padres about future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux have hit a roadblock, and it's unclear whether the two sides will continue talks on Thursday. The Dodgers have mild interest in Maddux, who essentially has boxed in San Diego with his insistence that he can be dealt only to a West Coast team; the rival Dodgers are the only team on the coast with a need for a starter. The two sides are far apart in agreeing on what compensation is appropriate for the pitcher.

If Maddux is not dealt before the deadline, the Dodgers could try to place a waiver claim on the pitcher in August, and once again, the Padres would be left with little leverage.

Olney correctly points out that we have ALL the leverage here and can just wait this out. Maddux doesn't want to stay in San Diego, and as Orel and Karina and others have pointed out on this blog, would be a good fit as a Dodger starter as well as mentor to Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, and any other player that wants to listen and learn.

I have a feeling Maddux ends up coming back here, but hopefully we get him for nothing.

UPDATE 11:50a: Five minutes ago, Jayson Stark reiterated that no deal for Maddux will be made:

Maybe Greg Maddux isn't going to wind up back with the Dodgers after all. The Dodgers and Padres have always been uncomfortable making deals with each other. And with 90 minutes left until the deadline, they've been unable to reach agreement on a trade that would send Maddux back to L.A., the only team he has told the Padres to which he would approve a deal.

One source familiar with the two clubs' discussions say the $3.3 million remaining on Maddux's salary this year is not a major issue. But the Dodgers have been unwilling to make anything beyond a modest offer as they're aware they're the only taker.

Dodger RBI Leaders, 7/31/08

With the trade deadline at 1p PT today, I wanted to make sure Ned Colletti is aware of our top five RBI players:

James Loney, 60
Matt Kemp, 57
Russell Martin, 51
Andre Ethier, 46
Jeff Kent, 44

Kemp and Ethier's are even more astounding given that Torre hadn't thought of them as everyday players earlier in the season (even as late as last week).

Don't touch the kids, Ned!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Los Angeles News at its Finest

The Delino lives. Long live Delino.

More to come on my recent disappearance. But in the interim...

Remember in LA Story when Steve Martin got yelled at for not making the news wacky enough? And we all thought it was a comedy?

Well, it's not. Check out this poll taken from Fox 11's newsite - (Note, I'm not putting up the link... to spare all of you)

Poll - What were you thinking when the Earthquake hit?

Holy S***!! - I was scared!

Cool, this is fun!

Eh, talk to me when it's over 7.0

I didn't feel it

Game 107 Thread: July 30 vs. Giants, 7p

Chad Billingsley (10-9, 3.26) vs. Jonathan Sanchez (8-6, 4.46).

COMMENTS: The Giants took Game 1. The Dodgers took Game 2. Tonight is Game 3 and will therefore decide which team wins the series (what do they call this, again?). The Dodgers couldn't have been more different in the two games; in Game 1 the bats were alive but couldn't overcome the starting pitching disaster, while in Game 2 the bats were dead but the starting pitching held San Francisco scoreless. The only consistent part has been watching The Misadventures of Fred Lewis, as he misplayed balls both evenings. That gives us Dodger fans someone to mock out in left field, a tradition when the Giants come to town. Sanchez was a disaster in his last start (81 pitches when he was pulled in the third inning); Billingsley was great in his (7.2 innings of two-run ball, giving Chad the win). Let's keep those traditions going too, okay?

That LoDuca Trade Keeps Looking Better And Better

Jerry Crasnick of has another post-mortem report on the Brad Penny for Paul LoDuca trade of 2006, Paul DePodesta's last big hurrah:

Los Angeles Dodgers trade catcher Paul Lo Duca, outfielder Juan Encarnacion and reliever Guillermo Mota to Florida for pitchers Brad Penny and Bill Murphy and first baseman Hee-Seop Choi -- July 30, 2004

The headline: "Dodgers didn't need to do this" (Los Angeles Times)

Why the heck is L.A. general manager Paul DePodesta doing so much tinkering when the Dodgers sport a 3½ game lead in the National League West?

This trade is panned, in part, because DePodesta mistakenly thought he could flip Penny in a deal for Randy Johnson. But the biggest outcry is over DePodesta's decision to trade Lo Duca, the team's resident leader, glue guy and "heart and soul," and inflict irreparable damage on the Dodgers' clubhouse chemistry.

The postscript: Los Angeles went on to win the NL West for the first time in nine years, and Penny posted 16-win seasons in 2006 and 2007. The Dodgers fired DePodesta in October 2005. But in a strange twist, his image hasn't taken nearly as big a pounding as the catcher he was panned for trading.

Since leaving Los Angeles, Lo Duca has been scrutinized for everything from his gambling habits to his extramarital flings to his comments that the Latin players in New York should be available for media interviews because they speak better English than everybody thinks.

And that was before Lo Duca's name popped up in the Mitchell report. Some people suspect that's why he was scratched from catching the ceremonial first pitch from President George Bush in the Nationals' 2008 season opener.

"According to interviews with alleged steroid suppliers, Paul Lo Duca wasn't so much a clubhouse leader as a clubhouse pusher," LA Times columnist Bill Plaschke wrote in December 2007. That really hurts.

Crasnick doesn't even mention that if Paul LoDuca was still a Dodger, we never would have had to endure Dioner Navarro, but we also never would have gotten the chance to get to know Russell Martin. Say Nope to Dope, Russell! And stay away from the track, while you're at it.

Simers: Angels World Series Appearance = Dodgers First-Round Exit

From "Dodgers have no moves as Angels shake it up" by T.J. Simers at the LA Times:

My first thought, of course, after hearing the Angels had traded for Mark Teixeira, was how are the Dodgers going to beat them now in the World Series? [...]

Shouldn't the Dodgers be making the kind of move the Angels made -- the Angels already in the playoffs, but the Dodgers still fighting to get there? [...]

The Angels are 26 games over .500, the best team in baseball and yet making a move to get better. They traded a quality first baseman in Casey Kotchman and a minor league prospect to maybe win a World Series. [...]

The Dodgers have a chance to make the playoffs too, competing against opponents a combined 47 games below .500, making a good acquisition possibly a difference-maker. [...]

The Dodgers had the same chance, though, as the Angels a few weeks back, but passed on Atlanta's asking price for Teixeira of James Loney and a prospect.

Back in January, Brian Kamenetzky at SportsHubLA asked us, "Brighter Future, Dodgers or Angels?" I reluctantly said the Angels, who right now have better pitching, better hitting and better management than the Dodgers. The Dodgers are working on improving their pitching, hitting and management—while somehow still contending for the post-season.

But in Simers' mind, not trading Loney (under team control for the next four years) for a "difference-maker" means the Dodgers are "headed back to the drawing board." Does Simers really think any NL West team, with our without Teixeira, is going to make it past the first round of this year's playoffs? It's an American League world, T.J., which is why the Angels should be commended for landing Teixeira*—and the Dodgers should be commended for not.

*and keeping him away from the Diamondbacks

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Game 106 Thread: July 29 vs. Giants, 7p

Jason Johnson (0-0, 2.57) vs. Matt Cain (6-8, 3.82).


Trade rumors swirling
Play for now or for later?
Ned's knee jerk may hurt.

Angels Ensure NL West Will Continue to Suck

Mark Teixeira Traded To Angels (MLB Trade Rumors)

McCourt Whines About Declining Attendance

I cannot believe what I've read in the article which Orel just posted, about the Dodgers (read: Frank McCourt) coveting Manny Ramirez, even at the cost of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. That is INSANITY.

But strangely, it's Frankie's frugality (Ramirez earns $20M/year), and not his short-sightedness or highly obvious love of Boston, which has him doubting the deal. And instead of relishing his second-place in the NL attendance status, he is actually complaining about lagging attendance!

Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, a Bostonian, is believed to love the idea of adding Ramirez to bolster the Dodgers' mediocre offense. However, McCourt, whose team has previously acquired or signed ex-Red Sox Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Lowe, Bill Mueller and manager Grady Little under his stewardship, has been telling Dodgers people he doesn't want to add payroll during this trading season, and has been openly complaining about disappointing attendance and revenues. Ramirez is making $20 million this year.

Okay, Frank, let's look at the numbers. Home attendance averaged 46,400 in 2006 (a playoff year), good enough for second place (to the Yankees), and obviously best in the NL. In 2007, average attendance increased to 47,614, still good enough for second in MLB and first in the NL.

This year, home attendance is averaging out at 44,763, a 6% decline from prior year. What's worse, the Dodgers are now in third place overall, as the Mets have vaulted them to take second place to the Yankees; the Mets are averaging over 50K per home game.

Why the decline in attendance, particularly from a fan base that is legendary for supporting the Dodgers in thick and thin? A number of hypotheses jump to mind:

  • The product on the field has not performed, mostly due to the money you and Ned Colletti have misspent on pricey veterans that either sit on the disabled list or play well below expectations;
  • Ticket prices have been jacked up every year to astronomical amounts that are silly and illogical, when you stop to think about it (for example, my $35/seat ticket has jumped to $85/seat since Frankie took over in 2004);
  • Parking has jumped from $8 to $15 per car over the same period of time, and the Dodgers refuse to fund any public transportation alternatives;
  • The total cost of a family visit went up 19.3% from 2006-2007, while the MLB average increase was less than 4% and no other team had a double-digit increase over prior year;
  • The revised traffic plan for Dodger Stadium sucks, particularly for weekend games, and is no more efficient than the more logical we-won't-force-you-out-a-specific-gate system from before;
  • Did I mention the team on the field, despite habitual overuse of veterans at every possible circumstance even when logic and statistics would have one think differently, has not performed?

Frank, if attendance is lagging, you can write off some of our slipped positional ranking to Shea Stadium's final year. But the absolute decrease of 6% is really due to the shoddy composition of the team your staff put together (with huge amounts of salary generating negative returns), or the fact that your greed has made coming to Dodger Stadium a simply unaffordable experience for the average fan.

You want more attendance? Get rid of the All-You-Can-Eat $25 tickets and replace it with a Come-Back-More-Often alternative. Cut us a break on parking, or fund another frickin' shuttle bus. Make coming to Dodger Stadium a weekly summer tradition for families, and not a once-a-year treat like Disneyland.

And, you can also try putting a quality team on the field, rather than lining the pockets of your family, the disabled list, and the staff of the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic. Which could mean adding ManRam, sure (heck, if it were only money and not prospects in return, I wouldn't say no)--but only if Kemp and Ethier and Martin and Loney and Billingsley and Broxton and all the other youth with potential play around him, too.


Dodgers interested in Manny (

Smarmy "Wives"

Big League Stew brings us the latest celebrity sighting at Dodger Stadium, as Nicolette Sheridan of "Desperate Housewives" threw out the ceremonial first pitch last night.

"And that's why, Russell, I'd like you to stop backhanding balls in the dirt."

"Sorry, Nicolette, my I LOVE MICHAEL BOLTON'S ON-AGAIN, OFF-AGAIN GIRLFRIEND shirt is in the laundry."

Not shown: Hiroki Kuroda taking notes.

(Thanks to our very own Steve Sax for the heads-up!)

last photo by Getty Images

Yet Another Article Condemning Colletti's Moves

Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus thinks Ned Colletti paid too much for Casey Blake:

Across the country, the Dodgers were also adding a right-handed bat, trading two prospects to the Indians for Casey Blake. Although Blake, who turns 35 next month, was desired for his experience and perceived leadership qualities, his bat is adequate, a .270/.340/.440 hitter who can play all four corners and is actually a pretty good third baseman. Trading for Blake isn't a problem in and of itself, but the Dodgers have both paid too much talent for his services and are using him to block a comparable, perhaps even better, player.

First, the price: Power right-hander Jonathan Meloan, whose 5-10 record and 4.97 ERA at Triple-A Las Vegas are less reflective of his talent than they are of the context in which he's pitching, is half the package. Meloan, 24, is about ready to be a middle man in the majors, and his upside is that of a high-leverage, high-strikeout reliever. The other prospect, Carlos Santana, is a catcher who is a little old for the Florida State League (22), but he has hit very well this year and has earned good grades for his defense. These prospects haven't gotten the play that Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw and the rest of the Dodgers' youth has gotten, but they're also very talented and can't be treated as free resources. Trading two prospects of this caliber for 200 at-bats of Casey Blake is a ridiculous waste.

Moreover, Blake is reportedly slotted to take time from 24-year-old Andy LaRoche, who is almost certainly as good Blake, and has upside that Blake doesn't have. The Dodgers could improve their situation by playing Blake in the outfield in lieu of Andruw Jones and/or Juan Pierre, as those two are among the worst players in baseball in 2008, and Blake isn't. Playing Blake, or if you prefer, those two outfielders ahead of LaRoche, is actively hurting your team's chances of winning. This is nothing new for the Dodgers, who have come to value experience over performance, but it is a sight to behold.

This is a great package for Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro. It's actually a better package, relative to what he gave away, than the Matt LaPorta-plus one that he received for CC Sabathia. Meloan will probably be a big part of the Indians' 2009 bullpen, and Santana could be Victor Martinez's replacement two or three years down the road, and at the least will be a solid major league backup catcher.

Lucky for us that we have a reasonably stocked farm system...which I suppose only provides more chips for Colletti to deal away...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Why Oh Why Do We Suck Against the NL West?

  • collective record of the Dodgers' NL West opponents: 187-237 (.441)
  • Dodgers' record against NL West opponents: 18-18
  • Dodgers' record against non-NL West opponents with records currently under .500: 18-12

In Other Words, Nomar's Out Again

From Tony Jackson:

He has a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee. What we are being told is that he will have "very little" activity over the next few days, then will "progress to baseball activity as tolerated." I love the vagueness of this prognosis. Speaks volumes, IMHO.

Correia, Kuroda: Let's Call The Whole Thing Awful (Post-Game 105 Thread)


A furious comeback from a seven-run deficit comes up a run short. Amazing night, though, in that both Mark Sweeney and Andruw Jones each came up with RBI pinch-hits. "You know, it's so crazy, it just might work."

Dodgers slip below .500 by a game, but lose no ground to Arizona (who lost to the Padres).

I'll See Your Blake And Raise You One Teixeira

The Diamondbacks are apparently close to a deal to acquire Mark Teixeira from the Braves, according to the Yahoo Sports blog, Big League Stew:

While everyone is going agog over the Manny trade speculation that will most likely ultimately go nowhere, the wheeling and dealing for a much more attainable difference maker in Mark Teixeira is flying under the radar.

That could change quickly, though, because a front office source from another team interested in Teixeira just told Yahoo! Sports' Steve Henson that negotiations between the Diamondbacks and Braves were "pretty far along." The Braves are said to be asking for a prospect and either Conor Jackson or Chad Tracy in return.

Teixeira will be a free agent at the end of the season and a trade would mark the second time in as many years that the slugger was swapped at the trading deadline. The Braves gave up Jarrod Saltalamacchia and four minor leaguers to pry Tex from the Rangers last season.

If it goes through, it'd be a good trade for the D'backs, whose middling offense could use Texeira's power down the stretch while trying to fend off the Dodgers. Meanwhile, Tracy is scheduled to make $4.5 million next year in the last year of his deal while Jackson will be arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason.

Only one prospect? Surely the Braves can get more for Teixeira than a half-season rental plus one prospect. But to have a 20-HR hitter on the squad--wow (Arizona already has one in Mark Reynolds (21); Matt Kemp leads the Dodgers with 12).

Game 105 Thread: July 28 vs. Giants, 7p

Hiroki Kuroda (5-7, 3.98) vs. Kevin Correia (1-5, 5.71).

COMMENTS: While the Dodgers were sweeping the Nationals to move back to .500 for the first time since May, the Giants were playing like Lassie up north against the Diamondbacks, politely obliging the Snakes by rolling over and playing dead, allowing Arizona a sweep of its own (the Giants wouldn't want to be rude hosts, would they?). The Dodgers remain one game back of first-place Arizona. So you know what this means, right? We've all seen this movie before:

  • Lassie becomes Cujo and the archaic Giants open an inexplicable can of fountain of youth whup-ass;
  • Joe Torre benches Andre Ethier for Andruw Jones just because Ethier's hair is out of place;
  • Mark Sweeney starts in leadoff;
  • The mercurial Kuroda follows up his last two shaky starts with another two-innings-and-out performance;
  • Nomar gets a hangnail and has to sit after the third inning;
  • Chan Ho Park serves up BP on the mound in the sixth;
  • Frank McCourt on a whim raises parking rates to $20 for a "rivalry" game, exacerbated further when the Dodgers Shuttle breaks down on Figueroa;
  • Levy runs out of Dodger Dogs by the fifth inning;
  • Rick Monday scares the hell out of the pre-game show paratroopers by stealing their flag parachutes soon after they land;
  • the hat shuffle selects the missing "hat #4" just for the hell of it, leading to rampant rioting in the left field pavilion;
  • Nancy Bea Hefley's organ keys get stuck on a dissonant chord after her coke spills on the keyboard, and attempts to drown out the sound with the ever-present Tag Team "Whoomp, There It Is!" short the sound system;
  • Vin Scully finally says, "That's it, I can't take these stupid lineups any more" and walks out of his own press booth mid-inning.

Wait, maybe I haven't seen that exact movie before; perhaps I'm mistaken. On the bright side, at least we aren't seeing Tim Lincecum this series. Maybe this will all turn out okay.

Keith Law Calls Out Crazy Neddie: Dodgers' Asking Prices Are Insane!

Just like the nostalgic consumer electronic store's pitch, Ned "Crazy Neddie" Colletti's deadline wheeling and dealing has led's Keith Law to highlight the Dodgers' annual bargain-basement firesale of youth (as if other teams really weren't aware of Colletti's M.O. by now): (no link, insider only)

The Dodgers, determined to avoid playing Andy LaRoche at all costs, acquired Casey Blake from Cleveland for two prospects. Blake is in the middle of a bounce-back year at the plate, hitting for the highest average of his career while showing his usual marginal patience and fringe-average power. Blake's problem -- and now the Dodgers' -- is that he's a statue at third base; he's okay on balls hit right to him, but he offers very little lateral range. Add him to an infield that already has pillar-of-salt Jeff Kent at second base, and Derek Lowe might have cause to sue.

Carlos Santana is a recent convert from third base to catcher, and like most players converted to the position, he has an above-average arm. He's also a good receiver and has unusually good plate discipline. He has a compact swing and generates power through hard contact and upper-body strength. He projects as an everyday catcher with great defense, average power and an average to above-average hit tool.

Jonathan Meloan has worked this year as a starter with awful results. It's no surprise, as he projected all along as a good reliever. He works with a solid-average 88-92 mph fastball, but he's effective because he has two plus offspeed pitches, a 12-6 curveball with great depth and an 86-87 mph cutter with a long, late break. His downside is that despite his size (he's 6-3), he gets no downhill plane on his pitches and tends to leave his fastball up in the zone.

Meloan could probably pitch in Cleveland's bullpen this year, and at worst should be in it in April of 2009. Long term, he should be an above-average short reliever, maybe even an unconventional closer because he can miss so many bats in spite of the average velocity.

In total, it's a great return for Blake, who at most would have fetched two draft picks this offseason, and could have fetched just one, with the players selected with those picks much further from major league value than Santana and Meloan. When you consider that Cleveland signed Blake as a minor-league free agent on a one-year deal in 2003, received almost five years of big-league production and flipped him for two prospects, the ROI on the original deal must be off the charts.

The Los Angeles Times on Saturday reported that the Dodgers are shopping LaRoche for relief pitching or middle infield help. That's as good a buy-low opportunity as you'll find, and teams with shortstop options or middle relievers to spare should be calling the Dodgers as we speak.

Poor Andy LaRoche. And poor us Dodger fans.

Indians GM Won't Blind Meloan By Mandating Starting Role

The Dodgers' discard of Jonathan Meloan in the Casey Blake trade comes after his conversion to a starting pitching role was unsuccessful. Indians GM Mark Shapiro told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that rather than push this experiment further, they will evaluate Meloan as a reliever, a more comfortable role for Meloan:

Meloan, 24, was the Dodgers' fifth-round pick in 2005. He pitched out of the bullpen until being moved to the rotation this year at Las Vegas. He went 5-10 with a 4.97 ERA in 21 games, including 20 starts. He struck out 99 and walked 60 in 105 innings.

In his minor-league career -- Meloan made his big-league debut in 2007 with the Dodgers -- he has 355 strikeouts in 262 2/3 innings. The Indians, looking to repair one of the AL's worst bullpens, like him as a reliever.

"The Dodgers needed starting depth so that's why he was starting this year," said Shapiro. "I think most organizations saw him as a reliever. We'll move him to the pen so he doesn't get too many innings, take a look at him as a reliever and then take the off-season to decide what role he'll come to spring training in."

Okay, okay, I know this article is three days late and not really that newsworthy. I came up with the headline pun late, all right? So sue me!

All I can say, is that my life is pretty plain.

New PCS Rankings

The new PCS Tour Rankings revealed some movement at the top. Not the very top, where Quad seems to have fended off a brief Mickelson-esque threat from Orel, rebuilding his lead from 18 points 3 puzzles ago to 140 points today. But thanks perhaps to Loney Fan's poorly-timed vacation, Jose has taken over the 3rd spot and continues his steady march up the rankings. Hope your vacation was worth 3rd place, Loney Fan.

Here are the full rankings:

Player (Wins)
PCS Tour
quadsevens (4)
jose (1)
loney fan (1)
steve (1)
benjamin pratt
dusto magnifico
mike scioscia's t.i.
alex cora

No longer ranked: dangerion; Click here to see how rankings are calculated.

But don't lose hope, Quad-chasers: with the next puzzle Aug 4, the rankings' rolling 7-puzzle span mechanism starts to take effect, and Quad (among others) will begin to lose points off the back end. Time to make your move!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Witnessing A Los Angeles Institution's Slow Decline to Mediocrity

The last three months have been gut-wrenching for Los Angelenos, as we have witnessed a beloved Los Angeles landmark slowly erode, descending into mediocrity. Overall quality has suffered, as the legends of the staff have mostly faded away or retired, often leaving a wispy-thin product with tons of holes. On-the-field mistakes cause fans to roll their eyes. And as one watches the slow deterioration every single day, it's pretty clear that the glory years are behind it, and the future quality is uncertain at best.

But thus is the state of the Los Angeles Times, the newspaper that I grew up with and idolized, and has now become a shell of its former self.

The LA Times' attempt to achieve birdcage-lining fodder has been a slow decay over the last five years or so, but it seems to have picked up the pace of its plummet into terminal velocity over the last couple of months, as page counts have dwindled, whole sections have disappeared, and advertisements have become more obtrusive (stickers on the front page blocking text; banner ads taking up 1/6 of a section's cover page). I could deal with the ads--after all, I know how important advertising and not circulation is to a newspaper's overall revenue--but when substance is severely compromised, it's hard not to notice the ads' prominence.

And substance has clearly suffered as well. Column One continues to be a relatively engaging news-features read, with the requisite catchy leads and overall length that allows true insights to emerge. But as news bureau reports give way to wire feeds from the AP or Reuters that aren't much of a premium to what one could pick up over Yahoo! News, what's the point? Perhaps abdicating national and world news stories is to be expected for the news staff of the US' #2 city, but that seems a little sad to me.

But fine, I can get the NY Times for my national coverage, and depend on the LA Times for local coverage, right? If you're buying a handbag here in LA, you're in luck, as far as I can tell from the LA Times' "Image" style section thrust in front of my face each Sunday. Bundled atop the Sunday paper, Image loudly proclaims the city's love of superfluousness, burying important news behind in the less-important and under-resourced sections. California, a section once called "Metro", is still back behind the front section, but like the city's public transportation system that inherited its abandoned name, it's mostly unused and its key parts don't seem to get very far or deep.

And then there was always the Sports section, which was a standout for the LA Times, particularly in relative comparison with the Sporting Green of the San Francico Comical. The Comical's paper was tinged with a green color border back in the days of black and white print, an interesting attempt to deflect attention from theh wispy-thin columnists (before Scott Ostler abandoned us) and homer-filled coverage (after all, if the sports story was at all important, such as any off-season article pertaining to the 49ers, it was simply elevated to the front page). The Comical's sports page was a joke. The LA Times gave you sports coverage, insight, and opinions. We didn't need no stinkin' green border.

Today's Sports section was indeed full and insightful, particularly for a Dodger fan, making it hard to complain. Dylan Hernandez did a fine recap of the game and "Dodgers FYI" section (funny that the LAT changed "Dodgers Report" to "Dodgers FYI", as if tha acronym conveyed a trendiness or youth-speak that would counterbalance the rest of the paper's traditional nature). TJ Simers used his Page 2 column to unload his grumpiness on new Dodger Casey Blake and Alan Hale Jr.--er, Ned Colletti, playing the role of a skipper without compass. Bill Shaikin, picking up admirably after Ross Newhan's retirement, added his wood to the fire burning beneath the Dodgers' entropy-filled front office, likening Colletti and McCourt's madcap antics to a scene from Sid and Marty Krofft's Banana Splits Adventure Hour. Even Bill Plaschke had a passable article on Walter O'Malley (a passable article mostly becuase it was shorter than normal). Hernandez added a profile piece on Blake; Shaikin's "bottom half" column of factoids previewed the Dodgers' upcoming week and recapped the minor league standouts, and there was even an article on how the Dodgers Shuttle siphoned $9,000 away from McCourt's parking lot tills (with 600 riders on its first day of service).

Seven Dodger-related articles, plus some extra tidbits here and there. It was a good day to be a Dodger fan and LA Times subscriber. And given how it was a rare day when we could expect this sort of multi-faceted, insightful coverage on our favorite LA team, I am indeed appreciative.

So it was sad to me to have to turn back to the front section (I read the sports page first, of course) and see the half-page letter from LAT Editor Russ Stanton, basically throwing up the white flag and committing the rest of the paper--I assume sports section included, today's cornucopia notwithstanding--to continued erosion and decay. "In-depth journalism remains our hallmark," Stanton wrote, before basically insinuating that it's mostly moving to online, leaving the regular newspaper even more thin that it was before.

The Opinion section, which was already reduced to an embarrassing "flip book" with the Book Review section, is now shuttered altogether as opinions get shoved into the back of the front page, and book reviews get squished into the Calendar section (renamed Arts and Books). If it seems odd that the daily paper of the worldwide capital of the entertainment industry is shrinking its entertainment coverage (the weekend "Guide" section is another casualty), I suppose it's because we are too busy buying handbags. Business is getting re-focused on personal finance, which means endless stories on the bursting of our speculative housing bubble, which took down the Real Estate section (which had been part of the LA Times since 1901) as one of its many casualties. And I'm sure that every section will get pared down and whittled away to nothing, following more layoffs dictated by the Zell Hounds.

Stanton trumpets the LA Times' growing online readership as the rationale for this directional shift, but this is just smoke and mirrors. Readers of the New York Times online can tell the difference between a quality newspaper's online site, complete with multimedia insets, easy navigation, and even "most blogged" links, versus the patchwork site thrown together by the LA Times. Particularly striking is the disparity in the two papers' mobile sites--the NY Times makes it easy to navigate a wealth of stories from the front section and within sections, while the LA Times' mobile site offers a fraction of stories navigable by blackberry. It's like comparing a gas station convenience store with a Whole Foods--there ain't that much floor space, but the shelves are pretty empty anyway.

If the LA Times' changes are to embrace the online future, then why hasn't the basic online infrastructure been assembled first? And if it offers less selection than Yahoo news' mobile service, why bother stopping by at all?

I looked at today's Sunday LA Times with sadness, and at the unusually rich sports section today as if it were the last gasp of a once-proud newspaper. I hope I'm wrong, and the sections that depend upon insightful local and thoughtful national reporting will continue to flourish and provide content for both print and online media vehicles. The Beijing Olympics and upcoming political conventions and race will be perfect tests to see if the LA Times will set its own course and mark, or just depend on swiping and reprinting wire feeds from others.

A great city needs a great paper. The LA Times was once that paper, and now it is in peril of becoming as irrelevant as a turntable record. Don't give up the fight, LA Times, lest you become as Comical as the rag published up north.

Game 104 Thread: July 27 vs. Nats, 1p

Clayton Kershaw (0-3, 5.18) vs. Jason Bergmann (1-7, 4.21).

COMMENTS: You heard it here first: Clayton Kershaw is getting his first major league win today. The highly anticipated arm has seen his ups and downs this season, starting with a May call-up, a promising debut, and then a series of short stints and an overall 0-2 record that got Kershaw demoted again. His second promotion this season at Coors Field had the predictable outcome of walking into a buzzsaw, as Kershaw was shelled for 10 hits and five earned runs over three-plus innings. But today, Kershaw will climb the mountain. The Dodgers' bats are rolling, sparked by the addition of Casey Blake (2-for-3 last night with a double and a run scored), and an outstanding eight-inning one-hit outing by Derek Lowe kept the bullpen relatively rested. And for Pete's sake, it's the Nationals. Let's take the sweep here in LA, and hope that the Giants show up for a change and help us claw back into first.

Bill Shaikin Lays It All Out

The latest column from the LA Times' Bill Shaikin is titled "Ned Colletti's rope seems to be getting shorter: General manager's job is in jeopardy and Dodgers owner may have cut off his allowance." It's worth a read but here's a summary:

  • The Dodgers have money issues.
  • Ned Colletti's job might be in trouble.
  • The Dodger front office is a mess.
  • Joe Torre is a bad fit with the Dodger kids.
  • Brian Cashman and Kim Ng are possible replacements for Colletti.

Maybe management is purposely flogging its dysfunction to make the players feel well-adjusted by comparison? Unfortunately, we can expect this soap opera to continue well past the trading deadline, at least until the Dodgers make the playoffs.

And if the Dodgers don't make the playoffs? Then grab some popcorn.

Five Things About Casey Blake...

...that are different in the two images below. Can you find them?*

*this is not an off-day puzzle and is not part of the PCS Tour rankings.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Andruw Jones Trade Rumors, I Kid You Not

Found this while trolling around this evening:

Once again, no one seems to know what the Dodgers are doing. Reports that they’re showcasing Andy LaRoche and discussing Matt Kemp in deals are balanced against discussions involving Jack Wilson on the low end and Mark Teixeira on the high end. A rumor has been making the rounds that the Dodgers would be willing to eat some of Andruw Jones' deal and send him back as part of a package for Teixeira were shot down by both sides.

So, no one knows what the Dodgers are doing, but there's the rumor nonetheless. I shudder to think why in the world we would want Andruw Jones back. Hasn't he proven (both this year and last year) that he's not the player he used to be? No mention of James Loney, but my guess is he's the guy the Braves would want.

How sweet would it be if the Jones rumor was true and we were dumping him, taking the sunk cost instead of the sunk team.

How sad would it be if Loney were traded to the Braves. Ye gods, would Colletti be that stupid?

Five Things About the Casey Blake Trade

"Hi, I'm Casey Blake. You may remember me from the previous post."

From Diamond:

Dodgers option DeWitt, other notes

- Casey Blake said he was excited about gaining free agency at season's end and has said he would like to retire a Cleveland Indian. "I still have a chance to finish my career there," he said. Joe Torre plans to put him every day in the lineup. [...]

- When Andy LaRoche heard about the trade from a friend, his reaction was, "I'm going to Cleveland? I didn't want to go to Cleveland. It's too cold up there."

- LaRoche on Casey Blake: "If he's going to help me get a ring, throw him out there. I have to accept my role. I'm a young guy. I can't complain. I'm here. I'd rather be in LA than anywhere else. This is my home now. All my friends are on this team. Obviously, it (stinks not playing)."

- Blake DeWitt will be asked to play second base at Class AAA Las Vegas as well. "When you don't produce, it's not going to be in your favor."

So what does this tell us/make us wonder?

1. Casey Blake is a half-season rental. Will he have been worth Jonathan "Bamm-Bamm" Meloan and Carlos "Not That One" Santana? Only if the Dodgers make the playoffs.

2. Andy LaRoche loves L.A. Does L.A. love Andy LaRoche? If Ned Colletti can keep his pants on past the trade deadline, we should get a chance to find out in 2009.

3. Blake DeWitt might be the next Jeff Kent. That is, our next second baseman. Despite his recent slump, DeWitt bought himself a ton of credit with Joe Torre and Dodger management with his first-half play. Instead of playing to impress as he did this year, second base may be his to lose in 2009.

4. Which free agents do the Dodgers target in the off-season? With this lineup...

C Martin
1B Loney
2B DeWitt
3B LaRoche
SS ???
LF Pierre
CF Kemp
RF Ethier

...and a trade for a shortstop unlikely, will the Dodgers still try to re-sign Rafael Furcal? (How many millions has Furcal's injury cost him?) Will the Dodgers play in the free agent pitching pool again and throw $$ at CC Sabathia?

5. Whither Andruw in 2009? Still shoehorned into center? The bench? Traded? Released? Fat camp?

Also from Diamond:

- Colletti said he is now looking to acquire a relief pitcher, as he's not too excited about the starting pitchers available.

The fun ain't over yet, folks!

Let's Meet Casey Blake (Paladin Level 10)

From the Dodgers press release on todays transaction:

"Casey Blake is a gamer," Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said. "His experience and character will be a plus as we head down the stretch in the final two months of the regular season."

Blake is a gamer? His experience and character will be a plus? Dungeons and Dragons fans, rejoice! And in honor of D&D, here's the vital stats (and I'm not talking about the 11 HR and 58 RBI he's had this year for the Indians):

Class: Fighter, Paladin

Level: 10 (+10/+5 base score bonus, as per his 10th MLB season)

Ability scores (all 3d6):

  • Strength: 15 (he's 6'2", 200 lbs; peaked at 28 HR in 2004);
  • Intelligence: 12 (according to this blog written by a fellow Iowan, Blake turned down a full scholarship from Wichita State despite being drafted in the 11th round by the Phillies straight out of Indianola High School (mere spots ahead of Craig Counsell); it appears he even graduated;
  • Wisdom: 15 (playing the odds paid off as he overcame a mediocre minor league record to be picked up by the Indians, signing a two-year deal at the end of 2004 for a cool $5M);
  • Dexterity: 8 (he's never had more than 7 SBs in a year, and usually is CS as many times);
  • Constitution: 10 (played in only 109 games in 2005 due to separate injuries to his left oblique and right ankle, followed by a full 156 games in 2006);
  • Charisma: 11 (I couldn't find any substantive info about his demeanor, searching on "casey blake" and "nice guy".)

Well, let's hope Blake is the fighter we hope he might be at third, as Blake DeWitt has been ushered back to the minors to make room.

Game 103 Thread: July 26 vs. Nats, 7p

Derek Lowe (7-8, 3.97) vs. Odalis Perez (3-7, 3.99).

COMMENTS: Well, lookee here on the mound. Odalis Perez, Dodgers bust of yesteryear, moseys back into Chavez Ravine sporting an ERA not too much off his opposing starter. Perez hasn't ben back since we unloaded him to the purgatory that is Kansas City in 2006, but he did fare well against us as a Brave back in the day (2-0 in three starts). Lowe, on the other hand, has been on-again-off-again, but more of the "off" since the All-Star break. Can he keep it together and beat Odalis tonight? Or will Odalis gain strength on the mound from seeing another Brave-turned-Dodger over in the Dodger dugout, who surprisingly has a larger weight problem than his own?

Dodgers Trade for a Third Third Baseman, Second Blake

From "Dodgers send pair of prospects to Indians for Blake" at

The Cleveland Indians traded third baseman/outfielder Casey Blake and cash to the Los Angeles Dodgers for two minor leaguers on Saturday.

"Casey Blake is a gamer," Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said. "His experience and character will be a plus as we head down the stretch in the final two months of the regular season."

The Indians received minor league catcher Carlos Santana and right-handed pitcher Jon Meloan. Santana is hitting .323, with 14 homers, for Inland Empire, in the Class A California League. The hard-throwing Meloan is 5-10, with a 4.97 ERA, at Triple-A Las Vegas -- but has piled up 335 strikeouts in only 262 innings in his minor league career. [...]

Those three teams would have played Blake in the outfield. But with the trade completed, he'll become the Dodgers' everyday third baseman, replacing slumping rookies Blake DeWitt and Andy LaRoche.

Right now DeWitt and LaRoche are saying to each other, "Nice playing with you. See you around sometime."

Friday, July 25, 2008

Can We Call Matt Kemp a Five-Tool Player Now?

Game 102 Thread: July 25 vs. Nationals, 7.40p

Chad Billingsley (9-9, 3.32) vs. John Lannan (6-9, 3.29).

COMMENTS: Tired of hearing about how the Dodgers could be in first place, if only the the Diamondbacks (who took a series from the first-place Cubs) would win less and the Dodgers (who lost a series to the third-place Rockies) could just, well, win more? Yeah, so are we. So consider this: The Diamondbacks have traded for both Tony Clark and Jon Rauch lately. The Dodgers are purportedly showcasing Andy LaRoche for a trade. Oh, and Juan Pierre is returning, perhaps as early as tonight and probably displacing Matt Kemp and his .925 leadoff OPS at the top of the order.

As admirably as Blake DeWitt has played, his production (.257/.324/.364) doesn't overwhelm so much that LaRoche shouldn't be given a longer look at third. But Joe Torre likes DeWitt, and we can only hope trading LaRoche doesn't become a debacle of Konerko-ian proportions. Meanwhile, Pierre's return should bump Andruw Jones to the bench. After all, Kemp and Andre Ethier are tied for the team lead in home runs. If we're that desperate for speed, power shouldn't be sacrificed.

The trading deadline is six days away, and many things can happen. And a lot of knee-jerk keeping-up-with-the-D'backs things can happen as well. But the Dodgers shouldn't trade valuable players for what at best would be another first-round playoff exit.

P.S.: Tonight marks the first career start against the Dodgers for the Nats' Lannan. Enjoy the game!

Off-Day Puzzle #7: Solution

I hope you all got the most out of your scissors. Here's the solution to yesterday's puzzle (my apologies to cigarcow and others who work in totalitarian environments where YouTube is blocked):

The winners are, in order, Jose, Quadsevens, Steve, and Fanerman. Of the winners, I wonder: how many of you solved the puzzle outright, and how many found the message first through trial & error, then deduced the methodology based on the final placement of the cells?

Anyhow, thanks again for playing. Next puzzle August 4, and updated PCS rankings to be posted soon!

*In my ongoing quest to include different musical genres, I stole from DJohRicky. Thanks dude!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Really? This Is News?

Off-Day Puzzle #7: Scissor-time!

Happy puzzle day to all! Here's today's rompecabeza:

(click image to enlarge)

That's all I'm giving you for now, but check back here periodically, as I may post hints if needed. And remember, the correct solution and the correct methodology must be submitted to receive full credit. Solutions arrived at through luck or trial & error - even if correct - receive participation credit only (credit towards what, you ask? Credit towards this.)

Please comment freely, but if you think you have the solution, please don't give away the answer to everyone in the comments section. Instead, do the following:

  • Email us your solution explanation (and please include your screen name somewhere in the email), and
  • Post a comment simply saying you have emailed your solution attempt so I know to check our email.

Please be patient if I'm unable to respond right away. Solutions accepted until 6am PT tomorrow, July 25. Thanks, and good luck to all!

Update: Please note that due to my schedule, the submission deadline has moved from 10am PT tomorrow to 6am PT tomorrow. Thanks.

Hint #1 (1:59pm): might be helpful, but not for stats.

Hint #2 (3:24pm): I could not include either Mike Scioscia nor Jackie Robinson, as neither worked within the puzzle's methodology.

Hint #3 (4:37pm): Hmmm, let's see. Think about the path of each of the players' careers. If this were a Laker blog, I wouldn't be able to include Kobe Bryant. But Shaq I could, a few different ways.

Hint #4 (5:17pm): ...Kareem I could include, Magic no...Wilt yes, West no...Byron Scott yes, Worthy no...

Final Hint (5:30pm): Fred, Dan, or Kevin should be able to solve this one immediately.

Solution: Click here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Game 101 Thread: July 23 @ Rockies, 12n

Hiroki Kuroda (5-6, 3.79) vs. Glendon Rusch (3-3, 5.79)

COMMENTS: Will the Dodgers "dial long distance" in the series clincher? Actually, do we want them to? After all, they didn't hit a single home run Monday night and scored 16 runs. Last night Kemp went deep for their only run of the game.

And in each of those games they gave up 10 runs. Here's hoping their pitching gets better the next few games. In fact, maybe they'll allow 3 runs tonight, 2 on Friday, and 1 on Saturday. Get it? 10-10-3-2-1! Of course, maybe they'll instead give up 321 runs tonight.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Diamondbacks Just Got Better


Jon Rauch Traded To Diamondbacks

According to Baseball Digest Daily, the Diamondbacks acquired reliever Jon Rauch from the Nationals for second baseman Emilio Bonifacio.

Bonifacio was ranked sixth among D'Backs prospects heading into the season. He's hitting .302/.348/.387 in Triple A currently. He's incredibly fast and plays above-average defense.

The D'Backs get a fine late-inning reliever in Rauch; I thought Jim Bowden would ask for more. Rauch is signed cheaply through 2010 and has been an above average reliever for several years now.

Game 100 Thread: July 22 @ Rockies, 6p

Clayton Kershaw (0-2, 4.42) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (5-9, 4.20)

COMMENTS: Quick - without looking it up, answer the following question:

Which landmark event seems longer ago?
The film "The Da Vinci Code" opens in the US
Anna Nicole Smith's son Daniel dies
Free polls from

Why do I ask? Well, The Da Vinci Code opened in the US and in many countries worldwide on May 19, 2006. That same night, the Dodgers put up 16 runs the crosstown rival Angels, the last time they would do so until last night. Anna Nicole Smith's son died on September 15, 2006, three days before the Dodgers edged the Padres 11-10 - the last time they allowed 10+ runs but still won the game

The point being, yesterdays offensive outburst was a once-every- two-years-or-so rarity. So based on that astute observation, I wouldn't expect anything more than, say, 14 runs tonight.

P.S. If today also seems like a landmark day, well it is. This is SoSG's first ever combination Game Thread/Poll!

P.S.S. It also marks Kershaw's return to the rotation. Let's hope he can make the 14 runs stand up!

Andruw Jones To Change Uniform Number to 143

After witnessing first-hand the carnage caused by the much-ballyhooed, lackluster-reality return of Andruw Jones from the DL, Dodgers coach Joe Torre has asked Jones to change his uniform number from 25 to 143, in order to better reflect his similarities to legendary pokemon monster Snorlax. As described in wikipedia [my emphasis in bold]:

Snorlax (カビゴン) is a gigantic Pokémon with a huge body somewhat in the shape of a bear. Snorlax has been said to weigh over 1/2 of a ton on the Pokémon cards, and has a face with pointed ears that resembles a cat. It has a large off-white colored belly, with the rest of its skin being either dark or bright blue.

Snorlax is a very lazy creature which sleeps almost constantly; one of the few reason it will wake up is to eat. Having an enormous appetite, it will devour almost anything, even moldy and rotten food....Snorlax usually appears to be in a deep slumber, and can only be woken at will or by the Poké-Flute. It is such a docile Pokémon that children use its large, expansive belly to jump on like a trampoline....

Their main role in the games has been as a roadblock.

Said Torre, "I know 143 is an unusual number in the baseball annals, but having a $36M player who is batting .166 late in July is pretty damn unusual, too. The later and later we got in the season, the more obvious it was that Jones was almost like a fictional cartoon--so we figured honoring Snorlax was the obvious choice.

"We tried to deflect criticism by putting Jones on the DL for a while, but his recent return to the lineup, highlighted by separate four-strikeout and five-strikeout nights, were so abysmally bad that even I haven't found a place to hide him in the lineup. And believe me, I've tried. And if I try and sit him, I've got that crazy GM barking at me on the phone, so I really don't have a choice but to have fun with it.

"In all seriousness," continued Torre, "the good news is that with Andruw's girth, we can find a way to fit all three digits on his uniform without any crowding issues. It looks perfectly normal on a jersey that size."

Solidifying Torre's decision was the Dodgers' game on Friday, when Jones committed his first error of the year in the first inning. Though the Dodgers came back to win 8-7 in the 11th inning, taking the opening game of the series, Jones' defensive misplay, coupled with an 0-for-2 performance, was the final straw for Torre.

"Look, he almost ruined by 68th birthday in the desert," Torre said, "letting that ball roll right through his legs and erasing our early 3-0 lead. I told Andruw, 'With the way you're swinging an ice-cold bat at the plate, you gotta catch them all!'"

Dodger owner Frank McCourt would not comment when asked to confirm rumors that he is asking Jones to pay for the extra fabric caused by the additional third digit. Vice President of Public Relations Josh Rawitch also would not comment when asked if the Dodgers were considering a "jiggle-tummy doll" promotion later in the season--giving fans hopes that Jones might be exiled before season's end.

And Then There Were Three

Estelle Getty is dead.

Sad but true. And here is something I just took 2 minutes out of my life to research: Interestingly, Estelle Getty played Bea Arthur's mother on Golden Girls, despite being a year younger than Arthur. Sort of like Angelina Jolie portraying Colin Farrell's mother in Alexander despite being a year younger than him.

And with that, folks, we shall kick off the citations of Angelina Jolie-Estelle Getty similarities. Who's got next?

One Rare Category Where The Dodgers Are Ahead of the Angels

Wow, the LA Times is a goldmine for Dodgers information today, which is surprising given the diminishing volume of the sports page and record of fleeing columnists and sportswriters. Jerry Crowe writes about veggie dogs: Dodger Stadium's got 'em; Angel Stadium doesn't.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers is being introduced before last Friday night's game against the San Francisco Giants, and Johanna McCloy, otherwise preoccupied at AT&T Park, lets out a yelp.

"Yes," she cries. "Vegetarian."

The Berkeley-based McCloy, a self-appointed advocate for meat-eschewing baseball fans, has crossed the San Francisco Bay to promote her dreamer's quest: to add veggie dogs to the menu at every major league ballpark.

Eight years into her mission, the 43-year-old actress and Duke graduate is halfway there, with Dodger Stadium among the first to sign on and Angel Stadium still a holdout. Fielder's decision to give up meat has been a welcome shot in the arm to the cause, which has encountered pockets of hostile resistance.

Last month, after an article about McCloy appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle magazine, reader Marc Kimberly of Concord wrote: "For goodness' sakes, is there no limit to which annoying vegetarians won't go in their efforts to try to convert people from enjoying meat in favor of the bland mishmash of unappetizing and virtually tasteless 'food' these elitist snobs choke down their gullets?"

McCloy says she was equally dumbfounded when, during an appearance on a Denver radio station, her efforts were labeled un-American. Her only objective, she says, is to give fans a choice.

"I said, 'How more American can you get?' " McCloy says of her Denver radio experience. "This is a nation of immigrants, this is a nation of diversity, this is a nation of opportunity, this is a nation of saying 'yes' to everybody. How are you threatened by a couple of people to your left at a baseball game choosing to eat something other than what you're eating?"

Bravo, McCloy, fight the power. Vegetarians are people too (even Berkeley vegetarians), and we all could use greater breadth of edible options at our bseball stadiums. Heck, can we get a real Chinese food place in Dodger Stadium, while we're at it, with more dim sum items and less of the orange chicken?

And why is Angel Stadium behind the curve on this issue? Well, let's just say they've got other issues.

Dodgers' Offense Just Starting to Get Feisty...And Guess Who's Coming Back?

From the LA Times:

Penny and Pierre close to returning

Left fielder Juan Pierre and opening-day starter Brad Penny could be sent on minor league rehabilitation assignments this week.

Pierre, who suffered a sprained ligament in his left knee three weeks ago and was expected to be out six weeks, could be with triple-A Las Vegas before the Dodgers start their next homestand Friday. The assignment could be anywhere from a game to three games, Torre said.

Yay. I'm giddy with excitement--or should I say, slap-happy?

Congrats DT On Year #6

Quick congratulations to Jon Weisman's Dodger Thoughts for hitting its sixth anniversary.

With last night's win, it appears this gives the Dodgers a 3-3 record on the anniversary date since DT has been running. We at SoSG believe DT's impact on the Dodgers has been much more positive than that record would have one assume. Jon continues to be the hardest working guy in (Dodgers blog) showbiz (remember, there are seven of us (though only five who post)).

Keep up the great work, Jon!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Gold Glove, Silver Slugger...Oscar?

A still from a television commercial for Brad Penny Bobblehead Night. Penny himself does not appear in the spot.

This Is Not the Swing of a Healthy Player

Durham Leaves San Francisco; 45-Year Old X-Men Vie For Open 2B Slot

On Sunday, the San Francisco Giants traded away 36-year old Ray Durham to the Brewers for two minor leaguers.

In July, the Uncanny X-Men celebrate their 45-year anniversary and 500th issue by uprooting themselves from their Westchester, NY home, and moving to San Francisco.

Coincidence? I think not. I think the X-Men, especially the older ones, think they might have a shot at the Giants' starting lineup. After all, they love 40-year olds in SF!

I'm personally hoping they're picking up Pixie, whose powers include "produc[ing] a 'pixie dust' that causes hallucinations, often to comedic effect." I'm not too scared of her in the lineup. However, I have a feeling that would be a Longshot.

Kershaw's Back

That didn't take long. From Diamond:

Dodgers recall Kershaw

The Dodgers will recall Clayton Kershaw to start tomorrow's game in place of Jason Johnson. Kershaw racked up two wins while he was gone and will be pitching on regular rest. A corresponding roster move will be made tomorrow.

Game 99 Thread: July 21st @ Rockies, 6:05p

Eric Stults (2-2, 2.67) vs. Kip Wells (1-1, 2.29).

COMMENTS: "Don't call it a comeback, I've been here for years"...ok, well it was a GREAT comeback led by the kids who have not really been there for years, but I had to put some old school '90s rap into the blog. I'm still overjoyed by the comeback last night, especially since four of those runs came in the ninth inning with TWO OUTS. Hopefully the Dodgers can use this comeback as motivation and show themselves that they can win no matter the odds. Now let's go do what Mama said, knock out the Rockies. Go Blue!

Apparently Crappy Puns Are a Dime a Dozen

Shamelessly cribbed from Joe Posnanski's blog:

My blog is worth $40,082.34.
How much is your blog worth?

Don't Mess With Milka!

Of the seemingly daily altercations with fellow drivers that Danica gets into these days, this one's definitely my favorite:

I don't know what caused this one, but unlike all of Danica's previous spats in which she knew her adversary could and would never physically fight back (see: Dan Wheldon, Ryan Briscoe), this is the first time I've seen her seem like less the aggressor and more the pacifist. Coincidence? You decide...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Dodgers Gaining Character

I'm saying you've already done plenty of things to regret, you just don't know what they are. It's when you discover them, when you see the folly in something you've done, and you wish that you had it do over, but you know you can't, because it's too late. So you pick that thing up, and carry it with you to remind you that life goes on, the world will spin without you, you really don't matter in the end. Then you will gain character, because honesty will reach out from inside and tattoo itself across your face.
—Roger Rueff, "The Big Kahuna"

(Thanks to Mrs. Orel for showing me the quote!)

Ethier photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers
Kemp, Martin photos by Paul Connors/AP

I Want To Believe...This X-Files Movie Is Still Relevant

Yahoo is reporting tonight that Gillian Anderson thought reprising her character Dana Scully for the new X-Files movie was "a little odd."

Sorry about that, Gillian! Didn't mean to get in the way of you voice-over work as Queen Vorkana in Robbie the Reindeer in Close Encounters of the Herd Kind. But thanks for being excited about bringing this movie to screen about a decade too late!

And while you're at it, please fire your publicist.

Post-Game 98 Thread: Prediction: D'backs Will Trade for Huston Street


Who thought Arizona would miss Jose Valverde this much?

The Voice of Reason Is...T.J. Simers?

From "Dodgers need Kemp to have a contact year" by T.J. Simers at the LA Times:

There are some folks around here, Page 2 included, who still think [Matt] Kemp is going to be superstar, the best of the best young players on the roster, and it's only a matter of more time and experience.

"I don't want to go anywhere," said Kemp, who turns 24 in September. "Everything everyone is saying, I've said to myself a million times. I'm too aggressive, maybe it's a lack of concentration at times, maybe I need a better plan at the plate, maybe I'm too power-happy. I've gone over it all."

The Dodgers have thrown five hitting instructors at Kemp the last two years: Eddie Murray, Bill Mueller, Mike Easler and now Jeff Pentland and Don Mattingly. Funny thing, the Dodgers aren't big into consistency, and yet that's what they want out of their players.

"I listen to people," Kemp said, still very much the headstrong youngster, "But I'm the one who has to do it." [...]

So what do the Dodgers do?

I say send [Ned] Colletti on a vacation until after the trading deadline. And maybe send Andruw Jones with him.

ANDRE ETHIER, who sometimes gets lost in the background because he's more solid than spectacular, made an interesting observation.

"They don't like consistent players in this game unless you're older," Ethier said. "They want to see young guys flash a lot of stuff or they get impatient."

Finally a mainstream columnist who sees Kemp for what he is: A hugely gifted young player who's struggling with the difference between his instincts and the expectations of others...all while leading the team in RBIs and being tied for second in home runs.

And Kemp wants to remain a Dodger—even James Loney bitched about being traded early on. When was the last time the Dodgers developed a player with Kemp's potential? Raul Mondesi? If a player like this shows up only once a decade, you hold on to him.

Ethier correctly identifies the organization's unending patience with veteran players, but management isn't necessarily looking for flash in its young players. Instead they want players with the tools of Kemp and the attitude of Blake DeWitt. And the Dodgers have a player like that—his name is Russell Martin. Clearly the answer lies in cloning technology.

Dodgerz Releaze Maza, Zign Ozuna

Dodgers Replace Maza with Ozuna (Dodger Thoughts)

Game 98 Thread: July 20th @ D'Backs, 1:10p

Derek Lowe (7-8, 3.85) vs. Brandon Webb (13-4, 3.23).

COMMENTS: Hey Dodgers, Don't Go Breaking My Heart. You guys were so close. You were in first place again, but only for one game. And last night, you tried to comeback down 3 runs, only to leave a man on third in the ninth inning. In other Dodger news, Andruw Jones did not start last night due to "food poisoning" - E. Coli from the salad bar, right Andruw? Hopefully we can take the series with the win tonight - Go Blue!