Saturday, April 30, 2011

Game 28 Thread: April 30 vs. Pads, 7p

Hiroki Kuroda (3-2. 3.21) vs. Tim Stauffer (0-1, 3.21).

Kuroda against the Boys from Pipco — I mean Petco — seems like a good combination to me. What's even better is when players other than Kemp and Ethier show up at the plate. Hey, even the bridesmaids of the batting order have to contribute. And while Broxton may be the butt of Dodger fans' ire right now, expect to see him in a save situation. Those are the key players for the Dodgers; let's hope they don't get upstaged by the Padres tonight.

Stauffer Hoping To Keep Ethier Frozen

With the Ethier streak at 25 and counting,'s Jesse Sanchez previews today's Padres starter Tim Stauffer:

Will San Diego's Tim Stauffer be the streak stopper? The Padres sure hope so.

Stauffer turned in a solid effort in his last time out, tossing six innings while allowing two runs in a game that went 11 innings. The Padres eventually lost to the Phillies, 4-2, keeping Stauffer winless on the season, but he matched his career high with seven strikeouts.

He's pitched well in his past two starts, earning a no-decision in each.

"I felt pretty good," Stauffer said. "Overall results, I felt pretty good, just a little bit upset with that [sixth] inning there, how it unfolded. After we scored a run, I was hoping to go out there and put up a zero. A couple of hits that found the right places, and an unfortunate finish."

Let's make sure Stauffer doesn't heat up today.

Deadspin Finds A Frank McCourt Reference Sure To Please DelinO

Deadspin has a post today titled, Frank McCourt is basically Charlie Sheen at this point":

Kind-of Dodgers owner Frank McCourt toured cable television yesterday, pleading his case. Here are some of the things he said. They are totally not the ramblings of a man who has lost all money and control.

"First of all, there shouldn't be an investigation. But if there is an investigation, I welcome it. Because the more you see, the more you're going to like. We run a great franchise.

I just want to access my capital. That's all I want. I want to sit and talk about it, that's all.

What is the rule, uh, what is wrong with an individual investing his own money into the team? What's not in the best interest of baseball for an owner to invest his own money in the team?

I've got half a dozen calls into Bud Selig over the past several weeks, and he hasn't returned those calls. I don't know why he's ducking me, but in my experience, when there's a problem, you sit down and you talk about it. Without communication, you're not going to solve anything.

The McCourt quotes go on, and on, and on. But what I really loved was this priceless comment, from "Same Sad Echo" in the comment section:

I just want to access my capital. That's all I need. I don't need this or this. Just my capital this ashtray... And this paddle game. The capital and the ashtray and the paddle game and that's all I need... And this remote control. The capital, the ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that's all I need. And these matches.

That's some funny shit right there. Now I'm going to go pick out a thermos for you.

Is Broxton About to Lose the Closer Job?

The only thing between Jonathan Broxton and the bench right now.
"He's just trying to get me gray is all."

—Don Mattingly, on Broxton (via @ramonashelburne)

Mattingly's wry quote would seem to indicate Broxton's status as closer is secure...for now. The guess here is Broxton's next blown save will be his last, at least for a few weeks. The question is, who becomes the inevitable next closer? Matt "I am the" Guerrier? Vicente "Soap Bubble" Padilla? Hong-Chih "Small Doses" Kuo? Kenley "Can you believe I was a catcher?" Jansen? Or the ever-popular closer-by-committee?

Jackson, Shaikin Grill Dodgy McCourt

McCourt being interviewed at Dodger Stadium yesterday.

After holding a big press conference in New York, Frank McCourt threw some local writers a bone and sat down for individual interviews. Tony Jackson and Bill Shaikin came out swinging, but couldn't ding the slippery McCourt:

"MLB did not run up $500 million in debt. You did." Very nice, Mr. Shaikin!

Frank McCourt: 'I'm Not Going Anywhere'

Is Frank waiting for the iPhone 5?

Is he stuck on the 110?

Is he hanging with Wilson?

Is he orbiting Earth?

Or is he just in a different universe altogether?

mall photo from Flickr user The Pug Father; galaxy photo by Jim Misti/Misti Mountain Observatory (really)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Post-Game 27 Thread: Urinalysis

Urine haters: Juan says hi.


Let's get the usual suspects out of the way: Andre Ethier had an RBI and a double to extend his hit streak to 25 games. He also made a nice diving catch in the seventh. Matt Kemp hit what turned out to be the game-winning home run in the seventh. Oh, and he also made a nice diving catch in the top of the inning.

But here's the unusual suspect: Juan Uribe. He hit a home run to put the Dodgers ahead in the fourth. He also had a double in the seventh, but more impressively, Uribe played great defense at third base, turning a tricky double play in the third and making a nice diving catch in the fourth.

Ted Lilly was solid, allowing five hits and one run over six for the win. But Jonathan Broxton created more ulceritis: K, GO, single, single, single. Men on first and third, one-run lead. Nick Hundley smokes one into left, but Tony Gwynn Jr. saves the day with a diving grab. A lot of diving in the outfield tonight.

"I guess you could say Broxton got a save; he certainly got a scare."

—Vin Scully

photo by Mark J. Terrill/AP

Blake To DL; Welcome, Russ Mitchell

From everything else I've read, 15 days isn't going to be enough...but the Dodgers announced this afternoon that Russ Mitchell will take Blake's place as a potential option at third base:

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers placed third baseman Casey Blake on the 15-day disabled list Friday with an infected bursa sac in his left elbow and recalled infielder Russell Mitchell from Triple-A Albuquerque.

Blake opened the season on the disabled list with an irritated thoracic disk.

Game 27 Thread: April 29 vs. Padres, 7p

Thirty straight hours without Dodgers baseball is enough to send any Dodgers addict into withdrawal.

Ted Lilly (1-2, 5.13) vs. Clayton Richard (1-1, 3.95).

The Dodgers' mediocre 13-13 record has us luckily tied for second place in the NL West (4.5 GB), and it's clear who has brought us here even to this level: Andre Ethier (who clubbed a game-winning HR Wednesday to give us the win in Florida) and Matt Kemp (whose stratospheric .378 BA, which has finally dropped below Ethier's, has actually been trending downward each day since April 17 when it was .464). Without these two players, we'd be in the cellar. And now that we've had a day off to take a breather and think about it, it's time for the rest of you guys with lumber to step the hell up.

It's only a six-game homestand, including the sub-.500 Padres and Cubs. Surely we can go better than a breakeven 3-3 this go-round, right?

An Unlikely Hero

The Charlie Sheen Helping His Fellow Man Tour continues. Days after bailing out Vatican assassin Lenny Dykstra from jail, Mr. Sheen is turning his attention to assault victim Brian Stow.

Proceeds from any merchandise sold at the actor's weekend show -- part of his six-week "Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not an Option" tour -- will benefit the medical fund set up for assault victim Brian Stow, the rep told the Hollywood Reporter Thursday.

This is not the first time the 45-year-old Sheen has used his tour to offer to raise money. He organized a last-minute walk to raise money for bipolar disease when his tour was in Toronto in April. However, the group he had promised to give the money to expressed frustration days later saying they hadn't seen any cash. Sheen's business manager later assured the group, the Organization for Bipolar Affective Disorders, the actor would make the donation.

Nice to see Sheen doing a mitzvah for a man in need. Though I'd be careful taking any cash that came in contact with Sheen's hands.

The Lowe Down: Faster and Furiouser

Just in time for Fast Five, Derek Lowe gives the Atlanta Braves (and DelinO's fantasy squad) another black eye. From ESPN

ATLANTA -- Atlanta Braves pitcher Derek Lowe was charged with drunken driving, another blow to a team already dealing with allegations that pitching coach Roger McDowell spewed homophobic comments before a game in San Francisco last weekend.

Gordy Wright, a spokesman for the Georgia State Patrol, said a trooper stopped Lowe's vehicle at about 10 p.m. ET Thursday after it was spotted racing another car down an Atlanta street. The trooper detected an odor of an alcoholic beverage and administered a field sobriety test, which resulted in Lowe's arrest.

The 37-year-old right-hander was charged with DUI, reckless driving and improper lane change, Wright said. Lowe declined to take a breath test before he was released, the spokesman added. The other driver also was stopped, but there were no immediate details on whether he was charged.

And as if driving down the road drunk as a skunk wasn't enough:

"Troopers observed two vehicles racing on Peachtree Road and were able to get both vehicles stopped," State Patrol spokesman Gordy Wright said. Lowe, who was driving a 2011 Porsche Panamera, was also charged with reckless driving along with driving under the influence and making an improper lane change.

Considering I just got hit with a $400 bill for my first (SLIGHT) speeding ticket in 20 years, I hope Lowe gets launched into the sun. Or forced to drink the nasty foreign sodas at Atlanta's Coca-Cola bottling company.

SoSG has the EXCLUSIVE footage from Derek Lowe's drag-race.

McCourt Takes SoSG Advice, Attempts More Conciliatory Approach

Frank McCourt's Thursday's bombast revolved around how MLB Commissioner is avoiding a rational discussion between reasonable individuals:

Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt said Thursday that commissioner Bud Selig is "ducking" him as he makes his case to retain control over the team.

McCourt spoke to MLB officials in New York on Wednesday, but Selig was not present. The league has taken control of the franchise in the best interests of baseball and has installed Tom Schieffer as monitor.

McCourt has argued that MLB just has to approve a proposed television deal with Fox and uncertainties over his divorce and the finances of the team will disappear.

"I want to talk to Bud, and I want to know why he's ducking me," McCourt said during an appearance on MSNBC Thursday. "I'm here to solve a problem, not make a problem, and you know, we'll deal with the next steps if he says. I can't make a person talk to me and can't make a person focus on the issue. [...]

"I just want to talk to Bud," he said to CNBC. "I'm sure I'll learn a lot more. You know, guys, we all you know run into different jams at different times, and how do you solve them? You communicate. You sit down if you're interested in solving a problem, you sit down to talk about a solution. At least that's what I've found in my business career. And I've tried to talk to Bud for several weeks. He's ducking me. I don't know why. We should be having a conversation about this. This is about solving a problem."

All Frank wants to do is talk, right? Maybe he read our post yesterday and took our advice to heart? Not likely (on either count)...

Off-Day Puzzle #2: Solution

One puzzle with neither ubragg nor mr c in the top 3 solvers! (congrats lf). The solution to yesterday's puzzle was: WALK.

As you may have noticed, there were seemingly random hyperlinks to the wikipedia entry of the song scattered about the text . But...if you took a step back and happened to plot out where the links occurred, this is what you would have come up with:

(click image to enlarge)

Congratulations to Loney Fan for being the first in! He was followed by Jason, Quad, Steve K, Timothy, Dusto Magnifico, Mr C, and UBragg. Next puzzle, Thursday, May 26, 7am!

Royal Wedding GT: Kate @ William, 1a

Yeah, I know you're up this early every Friday. Suuuuuuure.

Then how are you going to explain that fancy new hat you just bought?

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Don't forget Mother's Day is coming up. That is one hot mom on the Dodger website selling some Dodger gear...Yikes!

NBA Playoffs GT: Lakers @ Hornets Game 6, 5p

This foul from Game 5 was upgraded to a "flagrant 1" today. Which means, if they retroactively find one more flagrant 1 in their review of Game 5 tapes, Kobe might be retroactively ejected from that game, right?

Kobe Bryant and his "bum ankle" go against Chris Paul and his "black eye." More importantly, if the Lakers win, this series of ups and downs is finally over, and the Lakers can rest until Monday. Make it so!

photo: Mark Terrill / AP

McCourt Just The Latest In A Series Of Los Angeles Carpetbaggers

I have to thank my mom for finding this interesting piece by DJ Waldie, contributing editor of the Los Angeles Times, which opines on Frank McCourt and the perils of having our most beloved Los Angeles institutions managed by non-Los Angeles natives:

Like the arrival of the Dodgers in Los Angeles, the sale of the Times to the Chicago-based Tribune Company in 2000 was a deal that sounded good to AngeleƱos. Instead of bitter Chandler family members, real journalists would run the paper, even if nearly all of them were out of town. And like the sale of the Dodgers to the McCourts, which floated on so much borrowed money that the franchise is now $525 million in debt, the leveraged sale of the Tribune Company in 2007 to developer Sam Zell turned out to be a cynical farce. Another fast-talking out-of-towner took control of an iconic L.A. institution for cents on the dollar and with no idea of Los Angeles. What mattered was making the deals. The deals had nothing to do with this place or our story.

The deals still do not. The Delaware bankruptcy court overseeing the dismantling of Zell’s empire of paper is only interested in getting its assets sold. Commissioner Selig’s takeover of the Dodgers was only a last-ditch maneuver to prevent the McCourts from saving their borrowed lifestyle by mortgaging the Dodgers’ future broadcast rights.

Something narrow and coarse in the imaginations of the McCourts and Zell and Selig and their business partners squeezed out any moral dimension to their deals or any feeling for Los Angeles. But to question how they acquired so much of our place so cheaply is uncomfortable for AngeleƱos. Better to grumble about indifferent outsiders. Seen from their perspective, Los Angeles has only market value, the sort of value that sold Los Angeles to the world as one of the most successful lifestyle products of the 20th century.

Not any more. Too many deals have soured; too much of the city has been taken into receivership. Even our citizenship – already problematic – has been foreclosed. Deals under duress have taken too many of our civic institutions from local control and put them in the hands of monitors and special masters, raising another question we would prefer to duck: Do we have the capacity to govern ourselves?


Grudging compliance to special masters and appointed monitors may be the best we have to give in a city fragmented by institutional barriers and so distracted from civic concerns. Few of us want to see Los Angeles as it is or what it should be; we’ve let others do it for us. This city’s unaccountable political structure, its conception of power merely as the means to another deal, and the city’s air of disconnected neutrality have let thugs police its streets, unfeeling technocrats run its services, and the McCourts loot its most-loved institution. And when those faults became intolerable, others – not us – imposed their solutions. We’ve come to expect this – and worse – from Los Angeles and ourselves. “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.” might as well be the motto on the city seal.

Los Angeles succeeded once, less as a place and more as a succession of slick real estate deals that have reached the limits of our landscape. Truthfully, we never needed a shared moral imagination until now, when so many desertions from the common good have shown us how little loyalty the once powerful had for this place. And no deal, no special master, no court-ordered monitor can supply what we lack.

It's not the most uplifting piece, by any means. But I don't know if I subscribe to the underlying assumption that non-natives won't be able to effectively manage Los Angeles institutions. Do we look elsewhere for operational and managerial assistance? Sure, but so do most major corporations and entities beyond political structures. In an increasingly global economy and society, outside help isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Selecting bad outside help, however, can be debilitating. And good and bad managers exist everywhere. If anything, I just hope that the next owner and operator of the Dodgers is willing to invest in the team and the Los Angeles community with the proper amount of fiscal, social, and managerial care. And if he or she can do that, I don't care from where that person might have come.

Hong-Chih Kuo Second in 2010 "Shutdown-Meltdown" Ratio

One more thing from that ESPN the Magazine May 2 2011 issue: a sidebar called "Shut 'Em Down" (no link) had high praise for where Hong-Chih Kuo ended up in one sabermatrician's statistic:

To better quantify reliever performance, sabermetrician Tom Tango developed two stats, Shutdowns and Meltdowns. Based on win probability, if a reliever's performance in a given game increases his team's chances of winning by more than 6%, he gets a Shutdown. Decrease it by 6%? Meltdown. Most of the big-name closers are oddly missing from the list of best Shutdown-Meltdown ratios of 2010.


Rafael Soriano, SD/MD ratio of 10.25
Hong-Chih Kuo, 8.50
Hisanori Takahashi, 8.50
Joakim Soria, 7.80
Ryan Franklin, 7.25

Former Dodger Mark Hendrickson had the third-worst ratio in 2010, 0.58.

Frank McCourt, Tragic Scorpion

There was another way that Frank McCourt could have played the hand, you know.

McCourt could have easily played the victim card, and probably elicited some public support from his fellow owners, and possibly the sympathies of some of the public and the press. Maybe even from some Dodger fans.

I thought a lot about McCourt's chest-pounding press conference in New York yesterday, and how he used the public forum to bash MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and MLB for being "un-American". McCourt deliberately scheduled his meeting to upstage MLB-appointed receiver Tom Schieffer in his dueling press conference on the other coast (and on this point, he succeeded; Schieffer delayed the start of his press conference by a half-hour).

And he made no bones about his utter defiance. "Nobody handed the Dodgers to me," McCourt said. "Nobody is going to take them away. [...] Somebody coming in to run my business? I'm not going to accept that."

McCourt went so far that he invoked hyperbolic terms like "fairness" and "transparency", terms which are hypocritical at best when reflected against his own management tenure. Terms which caused other MLB executives to rebuke McCourt as being simply "not accurate."

And at base, McCourt may not be entirely wrong. If he is indeed in compliance with MLB debt rules and standards, then his operational management may not be subject to review (even if he found loopholes in order to get there). If Fox is really willing to front him $300M now as an advance against $3B in future television revenues, rebuffing the commissioner's request to "stand down," then that's their business decision, and something that the league can address without such a strong operational intervention.

Sure, the leaks in the dam are multifold. And McCourt looks like a harried vaudeville performer running all over the stage trying to make sure that the myriad spinning plates don't fall to the ground.

Shaky financial liquidity. Divorce from his wife. Loss of his Los Angeles lifestyle. Tragic violence in the parking lot. Declining attendance. Mediocre on-field performance. Evaporating public support. Blood-thirsty media. Out-of-patience league officials.

It's really too much for one person to bear.

In this period of a downtrodden economy and a depressed public sentiment, McCourt could have easily gone out and said, "Look, mistakes were made. Bad things happened. But I want this to work."

He could have acted more quickly and decisively to address the Bryan Stow incident. He could have kept his financially desperate hail mary throws out of the press. Who knows--it's unlikely--but he might have even found a way to prevent the divorce from coming to court and airing all of the financial chicanery and dirty laundry that proved to be the start of his undoing.

McCourt could have come out yesterday and said that the troubles which have plagued him are crippling, but could happen to anyone. Ugly divorces happen all the time. Low cash flow is something to which we can all relate.

Disappointment, over things in and out of our control, can become a bonding sentiment. And all Dodger fans can look at the 13-13 team on the field and find company in the misery (as we do on this blog daily!), even as we're revelling in the joy of Andre Ethier's incredible hitting streak and Matt Kemp's torrid start.

He could have sought those points of connection, points which transcend income strata and backgrounds. He could have appealed to Dodger fans who just want to believe in the team with all of their heart, even when their mind and logic say otherwise.

He could have wept.

This strategy has worked for others, notably celebrities and politicians. It's been proven. Heck, it's almost the American way.

But Frank McCourt doesn't do contrition. He doesn't care about reaching out to sympathetic ears. He does not do weakness--which is why many have noted that he tends to withdraw from the press when the going gets tough.

McCourt also does not seem to be connected with how he is being perceived in the press (and to be fair, when he has hired publicists to help manage this, in the early years of his ownership tenure, they were not effective (which could reflect on them as well as McCourt as a client)).

He cares about money. He is not afraid of litigation. He is not looking to win public approval or sentiment. He is looking to increase his financial coffers, continue living his high-rolling lifestyle, and maintain his interactions among the noble elite.

And it's kind of sad, really. As I've written before in meeting McCourt multiple times, he's a reasonably personable guy, especially in a one-on-one setting. And he does have some passions, things which engage his mind and command his energy, and when we have conversed, it seems like the Dodgers--as an institution, not just a shell business structure--might indeed be truly one of those passions.

McCourt might be even be visionary. The field level concession / concourse makeover was a definite improvement, and though the rest of the levels might never come to pass (let alone the larger vision for the Stadium that he unveiled in 2008), it did demonstrate investment.

He might truly be a victim of circumstances here.

But we'll never know, either because McCourt doesn't care about connecting with the people, or he doesn't know how to do that. Either way, this was one shot he had to present his best argument, and he missed a prime opportunity to make that connection, with any constituency (including Dodger fans). Instead of pangs of sympathy, he's getting eye-rolls and sighs of resignation.

That's the way Frank McCourt has chosen to play the hand, at least today. And now he has not only Bud Selig playing against him; but, in slighting the collective with a public mudslinging, he may now have the other 29 owners against him as well.

He certainly didn't do much to garner public or media support, either. And so the train appears to keep chugging toward an inevitable wreck.

Could all of this have been avoided? I'm not sure. But I do realize that McCourt knows only one way to play the hand, and so he did just that.

One might conclude, it's in his nature.

Dodgers Doing Their Part To Spread Wealth Globally

Buried in the depths of the May 2, 2011 issue of ESPN the Magazine ("The Money Issue") was an interesting chart of the best-paid athletes from 181 countries (no link).

Soccer claims the title of the most-represented sport, with basketball second, but baseball is third for paying the highest-paid athlete in 12 countries (including the USA, with Alex Rodriguez at an annual salary of $32M).

The Dodgers actually made the list twice: Vicente Padilla is the highest-paid athlete from Nicaragua ($2M annual salary), and Hong-Chih Kuo is the highest-paid athlete from Taiwan ($2.7M)*.

Also interesting is that of the 12 baseball representatives, only two are from the AL (besides A-Rod, there is Ichiro Suzuki representing Japan with an $18M annual salary). The Mets also are represented three times: Jason Bay (Canada, $18.1M), Carlos Beltran (Puerto Rico, $19.3M), and Johan Santana (Venezuela, $21.6M). (And look at what all that's getting the Mets.)

(If you want to get all political, one could cite that Yao Ming (China) dwarfs Kuo's salary (Yao is at $17.7M). But I'm staying away from this one.)

Shaikin Highlights Other Dodger Bobbleheads

Whoops, forgot to catch this one: Bill Shaikin, over the weekend, listed 18 bobbleheads given away this baseball season in Southern California alone. It's a pretty useful list.

Dodger fans already know about the Dodgers' six bobblehead giveaways this year: Clayton Kershaw (May 17), Don Mattingly (June 1), Hong-Chih Kuo (June 14), Andre Ethier (July 7), Fernando Valenzuela (July 26), and Duke Snider (August 9).

Shaikin did call my attention to these gems, however:

  • Clayton Kershaw, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, May 20 ("Same bobblehead, but $12 for best seat in house")
  • Adrian Beltre, Inland Emplire 66ers, June 11 ("Beltre played for the San Bernardino Stampede at age 17")

Clip and save this list!

Off-Day Puzzle #2: Take Me Out To The Ballgame

Here's puzzle number two:

Katie Casey was baseball mad.
Had the fever and had it bad;
Just to root for the home town crew,
Ev'ry sou Katie blew.
On a Saturday, her young beau
Called to see if she'd like to go,
To see a show but Miss Kate said,
"No, I'll tell you what you can do."

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."

Katie Casey saw all the games,
Knew the players by their first names;
Told the umpire he was wrong,
All along good and strong.
When the score was just two to two,
Katie Casey knew what to do,
Just to cheer up the boys she knew,
She made the gang sing this song:

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."

Hint #1 (8:39am PT): Feel out the lyrics and watch the hands (or other icon if you've customized them).

Hint #2 (7:31pm PT): Pretend you're blink and you have to read it in Braille. Sort of.


Puzzle Rules: The solution to the puzzle is a common baseball play. Comment freely in the thread, but if you have the solution, please don't give it away to everyone in the comments section. Instead, do the following:

  • Email us the solution, along with your reasoning. Submitted answers without the reasoning, or those submitted with the incorrect reasoning, will count for participation only, even if the answer itself is correct. And please include your screen name somewhere in the email; and
  • Post a comment simply saying you have emailed your solution attempt. We may not be able to reply to your original email promptly, so please be patient and check back on the comment thread for the latest news; we may confirm correct answers there.

You have until midnight PT tonight to submit your answer. Answer will be posted tomorrow morning. Good luck!

Not familiar with SoSG's off-day puzzle competition? Read up here. And join the fun!

24 Consecutive Games With A Hit Makes ESPN's Karabell Notice Ethier's fantasy baseball guy, Eric Karabell, recently noticed Andre Ethier's hitting tear and concluded that even if Ethier's BABIP regresses, a batting title is still a realistic outcome for our own beloved RF (link insider only):

Fantasy owners have a tendency to assume that a player performing above and beyond his past history early in a season is an automatic sell-high option. But in the case of Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier, who is in the midst of an April-record hitting streak (extended to 24 games Wednesday!), I'm not so sure that's the case. In March, I recommended numerous Dodgers as bounce-back choices, led by Matt Kemp, Ethier and Rafael Furcal and, to a lesser degree, James Loney and Jonathan Broxton (OK, so that's not working out), but as I watch Either hit against the Florida Marlins on Wednesday afternoon, I'm reminded that he can flat-out hit, and he looks versatile at the plate, stinging line drives all over the field.

Like many Dodgers, Either disappointed in 2010. Perhaps some of the team's problems were related to the turmoil surrounding the team and its ownership, but in Ethier's case, I think his issues can be blamed primarily on the broken finger he suffered in mid-May. Remember, Ethier was awesome early last season, as well; he was hitting .392 when he suffered the injury May 14. Simply put, he was baseball's top hitter at the time, with 11 home runs and 38 RBIs in 33 games. Then he missed a few weeks and was never the same, hitting a mere .263 with little power afterward. Coincidence? I think not!

As good as Ethier has been since joining the Dodgers, he never has been this good. His best season featured 31 home runs and 106 RBIs, with just a .272 batting average (pretty modest for a career year). A 23-game hitting streak in the season's first month can be overrated quite a bit. What if Ethier gets hurt again? What if he's merely an average hitter the rest of the way? I mean, his best season isn't exactly Hall of Fame-quality. Plus, no matter how well he's driving the ball to the opposite field, there's no way his .459 batting average on balls in play can be sustained. [...]

Interestingly enough, Ethier entered Wednesday not among the top players in fantasy baseball. His Player Rater rank was 52nd overall, 21st among outfielders, mainly because batting average is about the only thing he's thriving in. Ethier does have 30-homer power, but I'll take the under on that number, and he doesn't steal bases. I made the point on Wednesday's Baseball Today podcast that even when Ethier's BABIP regresses and takes his batting average with it, I could see this guy winning the 2011 batting title. If he hits .330 with 26 home runs and 90 RBIs, basically his ESPN Fantasy preseason projections save for the batting average, you'll be quite pleased you didn't trade him thinking he was Danny Bautista after a terrific April.

photo: AP / Jeffrey M. Boan. [I know, it's amazing how close this photo is to this one that we published earlier. But the backgrounds are different. Eerie, right? (Or maybe shot at the same time from a different angle?)]

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

McCourt Plays Patriotic Card, Pulls No Punches

Frank McCourt took his soapbox to New York City today, taking a defiant stance against Bud Selig and MLB's actions to remove him from operational control of the Dodgers, even going so far as to call Selig "un-American."

I didn't expect the ever-litigious McCourt to go down easy--after all, this is a man who had no problem exposing the brittle timbers in the foundation of his Dodgers empire when he engaged with his wife Jamie in their public divorce battle--and expected some move of escalation. Honestly, I expected him to be pissed off and angry about the situation, which clearly came as a sudden surprise to him as well as most Dodger fans.

However, I also didn't expect the rash of hyperbolic quotes mentioned in the article, which seem fairly hypocritical given all of the mud that has come out in the last 12 months:

Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt expressed defiance and outrage during a news conference in New York on Wednesday after baseball commissioner Bud Selig vetoed McCourt's agreed-upon deal with Fox for a regional sports network. McCourt said the deal would infuse the club with enough cash to be competitive on the field for the forseeable future.

McCourt went so far as to describe Selig as "un-American" for what he sees as an attempt by Selig to unlawfully seize McCourt's property.

In a statement released after the news conference Wednesday, Rob Manfred, MLB's executive vice president of labor relations, took issue with McCourt's comments, both for airing them publicly and for being "not accurate."

"It is unfortunate that Mr. McCourt felt it necessary to publicize the content of a private meeting," Manfred said in the release. "It is even more unfortunate that Mr. McCourt's public recitation was not accurate. Most fundamental, Commissioner Selig did not 'veto' a proposed transaction. Rather, Mr. McCourt was clearly told that the Commissioner would make no decision on any transaction until after his investigation into the Club and its finances is complete so that he can properly evaluate all of the facts and circumstances."

McCourt hinted at a possible lawsuit against Selig and Major League Baseball.

"I have not decided exactly what we're going to do, but we will keep you posted," McCourt said after meeting with several baseball officials, but not Selig, at the league headquarters in Manhattan. "As I said, I am not going anywhere. This is the team I love and the community I love. These are my hard-earned dollars I put into this franchise, and I am going to protect my rights, obviously."

As I recall, McCourt was pretty highly leveraged throughout his ownership tenure, including the initial transaction which required a substantial loan from Fox. So I wouldn't exactly call it his "hard-earned dollars" at work here. But McCourt goes on:

McCourt also was asked to clarify a statement he made to a television reporter earlier in the day in which he called Selig "un-American."

"What I said was un-American was somebody's property being seized unlawfully," McCourt said. "There are core values in this country, and fairness is one of them. Transparency is another, and private property is another. Thankfully, it's not appropriate for one person's property to be seized by somebody else just because they get divorced or just because of some arbitrary reason. That is one of the great core principles and core values of this country, and that is what I'm referring to when I say it's just un-American to me."

I mean, I get it, McCourt wants to wave the flag and hide behind it, and unlawful seizure of property is one of the foundational issues our country tries to protect.

On the other hand, the core values of fairness and transparency that McCourt cites don't mesh whatsoever with the revelations that he siphoned over $100M from the franchise to fund his and his family's lifestyle.

Or that he gave mid-six-digit salaries to two sons either employed full-time in NYC or attending school full-time in the Bay Area.

Or that he didn't pay a cent in income taxes from 2004 to 2009 (LA Observed explains how).

Or that employees in charge of a $1.6M-budget Dodger-named charity should pull down salaries of $400K.

I mean, I could go on here. Frank McCourt has every right to sound indignant. But to cite "fairness" and "transparency"--values which were betrayed by McCourt according to facts that came out in the divorce case--really rings hollow.

The Hillis Are (Is) Alive

With the Sound of Madden. Congratulations to Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis, who surprisingly bulldozed his way past Michael Vick to grace the cover of Madden 12. (Apparently, dogs voted too).

An angel gets its wings any time you use "Cleveland Browns" and "congratulations" in the same sentence, without any irony.

Hillis had a monster year, and led my otherwise mediocre fantasy team into the playoffs. Not bad for a waiver wire pick-up.

We already have the cover for next year's Madden. A SoSG Exclusive.

To see my previous coverage of the Madden franchise, including the most painful-looking glitch in video game history and my record-breaking Tecmo Bowl run with another famous Brown, click yonder.

StubHub Upgrades Graphics Department A Notch

As of April 21, StubHub's cheaply-made banner ads looked like this:

Today, April 27, the ad appears to have been revised to be numerically correct (albeit strangely ordered in reverse):

Mirror, mirror, on the display? Who's the cheapest subsidiary of ebay?

Blake's Elbow Infection May Cause Trip to DL

This isn't Casey Blake's elbow per se, but this elbow joint looks pretty infected, too.

Casey Blake's body is falling apart this season, and what's worse, Stan Conte's explanation of what may have caused this sounds like he's grasping at straws:

MIAMI -- Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake is likely headed to the 15-day disabled list due to an infection in his elbow, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly indicated Wednesday.

Blake made a middle-of-the-night trip to a South Florida hospital when symptoms from a bursa infection in his left elbow worsened. The Dodgers play the Florida Marlins Wednesday.

Blake received an IV and antibiotics and was released from the hospital. He was expected to fly back to Los Angeles with the team following the game and receive further treatment when he arrived there.

Blake declined to give Dodgers trainer Stan Conte permission to discuss his condition with the media, but Mattingly said Conte told him Blake could miss significant time, possibly in the four-week range.

"We have to be careful," Mattingly said. "Obviously, it's some type of infection. It's one of those situations you can't really play around with. I think Stan feels good that we got started on this yesterday and didn't let anything get out of hand. I'm not quite sure when we'll get him back, but there is a possibility of this thing being long term."

It isn't entirely clear how the infection developed, but Conte said earlier this week that injuries like this typically occur as a result of banging an elbow on something, which Blake said he doesn't remember doing. In Sunday's game in Chicago, Blake was hit by a pitch in the first inning and also dived for a ball at third base, either of which presumably could have been the cause of the injury.

I don't think "banging on elbow on something" is exactly medical terminology, so I hope Conte had a more scientific approach. In any event, Russ Mitchell, who batted .143 in 15 games with the Dodgers last year (OPS+ of 14) is the likely call up.


Post-Game 26 Thread: Ladies And Gentlemen, Your New Dodgers Closer?

Yes, that's champagne Padilla is spraying. No, Padilla was already that sweaty on his own.

DODGERS 5, FISH 4 (10)

The Dodgers close out their 20-consecutive game marathon with an extra-innings victory in the sweltering heat of Miami (ending the roadtrip 3-3 and the marathon 10-10). But what was truly remarkable about this game? Was it Andre Ethier extending his all-time MLB April consecutive-game streak with his 24th straight game with a hit? Or James Loney going 1-for-4 but still raising his average to .206 (thanks in no small part to his 4-for-4 day yesterday; today, however, he actually plated a run)?

Was it the Dodgers showing some rare backbone by coming back from a 4-0 deficit in the second inning to get three back in the fourth inning (a three-run Rod Barajas HR)? Or Chad Billingsley righting himself after coming off the rails in the second inning (four straight singles, followed by a two-out double that cleared the bases)? Or even Ethier coming back to hit the game-winning homerun, leading off in the 10th?

No, the most remarkable part of today's game was after the Dodgers took the lead in the tenth, and it was not Jonathan Broxton who got the nod--it was Vicente Padilla. And Battletoad got three infield ground outs to end the game without a batter reaching base (admittedly, Ivan DeJesus made a sweet backhand play for the third out, but I'm not giving DeJesus credit after coming up with rancho ardiendo and one out in the eighth, and quickly GIDPing).

Brox out? Battletoad in? Sure, Brox pitched yesterday, but still... At least we've got another day to stew on this tomorrow, an off-day for the Dodgers. Which I'm sure will lead to even more speculation and debate!

UPDATE 7:11p: Here is the video if you want to hear Eric Collins gush over Andre Ethier: "Andre Ethier is a STUD!" is Collins' HR trot call.

Free James Loney...

... Of Playing Time? According to ESPN's Matt Meyers, that might not be such a bad idea. He's pegged James Loney, along with Kevin Kouzmanoff and Jonny Gomes, as the players with the least-deserved job security.

When the Los Angeles Dodgers won the National League West in 2008 and 2009, much of the credit was given to their young homegrown core of outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, catcher Russell Martin and first baseman James Loney. In reality, it was a bit misleading to group them all together since their individual values are wildly different -- and this is becoming even more obvious as time goes by. Thus far this year, Kemp and Martin (who is now with the New York Yankees) are in top form, and Ethier continues to crush baseballs all over Chavez Ravine. All three are showing why the Dodgers had so much success when they were clicking on all cylinders together.

And then there's Loney. (Hey, it can't all be good news, right?)

The first baseman has picked up right where he left off last year ... and that's not a good thing. Loney posted a .616 OPS after the All-Star break in 2010 and is sporting a .470 mark 25 games into the 2011 season. The common refrain of the optimistic is "give him time, he'll come around." But the truth is that Loney was never that good in the first place, and he's one of a number of players who is the beneficiary of job security he never really deserved.

Back in 2007, Loney looked like a future star. The then 23-year-old hit .331/.381/.538 in 375 plate appearances, and the Dodgers probably figured they were set at first base for the foreseeable future. And if you only paid attention to his fantasy stats, he seemed like he was keeping up his end up the bargain, hitting .285 over the next two years while averaging 90 RBIs per season.

While his average dipped a bit in 2010, he again knocked in 88 runs despite slugging just .395. This, however, is just another example of why RBIs are a relatively meaningless stat. From 2008 through 2010, Loney had the third-most plate appearances in baseball with runners in scoring position, which goes to show that he was actually extremely inefficient when it comes to driving in runs. However, from a cosmetic standpoint, he looked decent, which allowed him to keep his job. There is nowhere for him to hide anymore. The standard for offense at first base is extremely high and his .394 slugging percentage since the start of the 2009 season is stifling the Dodgers' offense. The Dodgers called up prospect Jerry Sands last week and suggested he would see some time at first base, but Sands has played only the outfield thus far.

The question is, why have the Dodgers given Loney so much leeway? According to FanGraphs, he has been worth a total 2.3 Wins Above Replacement since 2008, which is the worst among qualified first basemen during that time.

It's understandable that the Dodgers would have an affinity for a player they drafted and developed, but Loney's malaise is now in its fourth season -- and it's not like he's cheap, either. The 26-year-old is making $4.875 million after earning $3.1 million last year. Russell Branyan, who posted a WAR of 6.1 from 2008 through 2010, signed a minor league deal this offseason. This isn't to say that Branyan is the answer, it's to show that first basemen who can hit are not that hard to find, and the Dodgers are choosing to handicap themselves by starting one who can't.

Does this mean my Free James Loney shirt is now ironic and cruel? (And for what it's worth, I dropped Loney and his over-inflated salary from my keeper fantasy league. I have since gone from dead last to near dead last)

Pirates Covet Xavier Paul's Package, Pick Him Up Off Waivers

The Dodgers had placed fifth outfielder Xavier Paul on waivers, and Pittsburgh, drooling over Paul's "overall package," claimed him on Tuesday:

The Pirates have made their second waiver claim in a week, taking outfielder Xavier Paul from the Dodgers on Tuesday. The Pirates added Paul to the 40-man roster by moving Scott Olsen from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list. Olsen has been in extended spring training trying to build up arm strength. [...]

"We like the overall package and that package is what has allowed him to have success at the Minor League level," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. "Our challenge is to help him get over that next big hurdle. A lack of consistent playing time is a challenge for nearly any young player, and 160 Major League plate appearances is a small sample size. We have some thoughts as to how we can help Xavier, but we want to allow him to settle into his new environment and gain a comfort level before we begin to look to make adjustments."

It's a sentimental bummer to be losing XP, whose speed I liked (as well as the fact that his initials brought back memories of time spent on myriad RPGs); but in three years with the Dodgers, and a sad .233 batting average and a 67 OPS+, there didn't appear to be a lot of future upside here--especially not with Tony Gwynn Jr. and Marcus Thames and maybe Jerry Sands and perhaps Jay Gibbons all clogging up that position as well. Not sure how Paul will do as a Buc, but I assume he'll light us up for three HR and seven RBI over May 8-10.

And while we're at it, what of that other Dodger refugee turned Pirate James McDonald (who was traded along with Andrew Lambo for the thoroughly unmemorable rental of Octavio Dotel last year)? McDonald went 4-5 in 11 starts with a 116 ERA+ last year: promising. But this year, McDonald is off to an 0-2 start in 4 appearances and a 10.13 ERA, calibrating to a 40 ERA+. Small sample size? Maybe.

But I recall watching a couple of McDonald's starts at the Stadium during his Dodger career, and always seeing him look a little lost out there when things started going astray. Is this apparent psychological weakness addressable with experience? Maybe (see: Chad Billingsley (I hope)). Maybe not (see: Jonathan Broxton (I fear)).

Frank McCourt To Meet With MLB Elderly

According to one of his lackeys, our pal Frank McCourt is going to meet with MLB officials of the "senior, senior" level tomorrow:

MIAMI -- Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt issued a statement on Tuesday -- his first since commissioner Bud Selig named former Texas Rangers president Tom Schieffer on Monday to monitor the Dodgers' day-to-day business and financial operations -- stating that he plans to meet with Major League Baseball officials on Wednesday in New York.

McCourt said in the statement that he'll also discuss the "practical concerns" about the hiring of Schieffer. He also talk about a pending television deal with Fox at the meeting.

MLB seized control of the Dodgers last week, only days after the Los Angeles Times reported McCourt had arranged a $30 million loan from Fox to meet payroll. Selig cited his concern about the team's finances and operations as the reason for his decision.

McCourt said he is confident a new television deal will provide financial stability for the Dodgers.

"The media rights package is fully negotiated, and it is one of the most favorable ever reached by a baseball team," McCourt said.

A source close to McCourt, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Selig won't be one of the officials meeting with McCourt, but that McCourt will be meeting with officials on the "senior, senior level." The primary reason for the meeting, according to the source, is to make an impassioned appeal for approval of the 10-year agreement with Fox on the development of a jointly owned, regional sports network, which would go into effect in 2014."

Maybe the McCourt source meant the "senor, senor" level, and he's going to hang out at SoSG Dusty Baker's favorite Mexican bar, in the hopes of getting additional funding from the tip jar on the counter? I don't know.

Intergalactic Friday

Ha! I knew the Rebecca Black label would get some use. I don't know what primeday is, but it has a Star Wars theme with new lyrics to the (should be) Grammy nominated, best original song ever. Oh, and you are welcome for that song now replaying on an endless loop in your head... ">

(stay till the end as hilarity ensues)

In World of Security, Dodgers Like Lonely Guy at Dance

From "Dodgers pick LAPD veteran Rich Wemmer as security chief" at the LA Times:

The Dodgers have chosen former Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Rich Wemmer as their security chief, but are awaiting approval before they can finalize his hiring. [...]

Wemmer, 63, a onetime Dodgers clubhouse attendant, has been offered the job, according to team officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the move isn't official.

The Dodgers settled on Wemmer after approaching numerous former LAPD command staffers and being turned down, according to law enforcement officials.

Used to be a position with the Dodgers was a prestige job. Now they can barely give them away. Is this because Ray Maytorena ("Hey, Maytorena!") was let go after only two years on the job? Is it because of the negative publicity caused by the Bryan Stow incident? Imagine that — the LAPD afraid of bad press.

In any case, welcome to the Dodgers, Rich Wemmer. Hope your new job isn't as thankless as it appears.

Puzzle Reminder - Tomorrow 7am!

Now that we have a specific puzzle schedule (listed halfway down sidebar->), it may be harder to remember when they occur. So I'm reminding you, Puzzle #2 is tomorrow, 7am. So no Berkowit28-style "I forgot to set my alarm clock and even when I did get up I didn't have a color printer" excuses.

See you tomorrow!

Game 26 Thread: April 27 @ Marlins, 9a

Breakfast is served!

Chad Billingsley (2-1, 4.13) vs. Anibal Sanchez (1-1, 3.55).

Anibal-Style Sanchez nearly threw a no-hitter his last time out, against the Rockies. The Dodgers have slidden (that's a word, right?) below .500 again. Do I go for the we're-so-going-to-lose-and-get-swept reverse jinx, or do I place my faith in Andre "Hit Streak" Ethier and Matt "The New Beard" Kemp? Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Post-Game 25 Thread: Piti-vol


The Dodgers led 4-2 going into the eighth yesterday. They lost. The Marlins led 4-2 going in to the seventh today. They won. WHAT'S UP WITH THAT?

Mike Stanton broke Clayton Kershaw's back today, singling with the bases loaded in the sixth. Okay, so maybe my revolutionary prognostication was wrong. But I did predict James Loney would go 4 for 4 today. What's that, I didn't? Well, I thought about calling Andre Ethier's record-setting 23-game hitting streak. So there.

Clayton Kershaw, Gold Glover?

Last Thursday:

Today (official video):

NBA Playoffs GT: Hornets @ Lakers Game 5, 7.30p

Kobe Bryant approaches the Lakers team bus after Game 4.

photo by Gerald Herbert/AP

Ethier Takes Sole Ownership Of Longest April Hitting Streak

With his run-scoring double in the first inning, Andre Ethier has assumed sole ownership of the longest April hitting streak in MLB history, with 23 consecutive games with at least one hit. It came on a 2-0 count off of Chris Volstad of the Marlins. It was Ethier's ninth double of the year, putting him on track for 58.3 doubles for the year (assuming he doesn't double again in this game); 58 doubles would put Ethier in the top ten single-season all-time (Todd Helton is the only active player in the top 10, with 59 doubles in 2000).

Congratulations, Andre! Keep hitting!

Earlier: Ethier Extends Streak to 22, Tied For Longest April MLB Streak Ever (man, that is awkwardly worded)

Game 25 Thread: April 26 @ Marlins, 4p

Clayton Kershaw (2-2, 3.00) vs. Chris Volstad (1-1, 6.60).

After the revolting end to yesterday's game, I'm going to volunteer this: We're going to win today's game. It may sound like a frivolous claim, but we've got our ace and their pitcher has a career 4.91 ERA against us. Sure, that's not volumes of evidence, but I'm also hoping the baseball gods will feel benevolent towards us today and take the edge off yesterday's volatile loss.

A win today will also involve good hitting. Wouldn't it be lovely if our offensive game evolved from singles and sacrifices to a megavolt, volcanic power game? Andre Ethier, with his 22-game hitting streak, and Matt Kemp, disciplined under his own volition, are a good place to start. My fan philosophy isn't convoluted; it just revolves around this simple thought: All you need is vole.