Monday, September 30, 2013

Matt McCrutchen

Team Killeen was at yesterday's game. From Scott: "We knew it was over when we saw the crutches…Then the guys were giving him pats and hugs…reality set in..."

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Post-Game 162 Thread: Fans Get Punked


Let's count the ways that Dodger fans, on Fan Appreciation Day, must not have felt very appreciated:

  • The Dodgers dropped the series finale 2-1, despite having the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the ninth...only to see Tim Federowicz flail (swinging K) and Skip Schumaker follow in kind (fooled on a bad breaking ball away).
  • Schumaker, who will likely start in center field now that Matt Kemp has been shut down for the entire postseason, went 1-for-4 to lower his intimidating .263 batting average.
  • Speaking of injured center fielders, Andre Ethier is only going to be available as a PH for the NLDS. Great.
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu took the loss after pitching four innings of 8 H, 2 ER ball. Ryu got in trouble early in the first and escaped with only one run, but opened up the fourth in kind for another station-to-station run by the Rox.
  • Chris Capuano made an appearance in the sixth, and gave up two hits. Yeah, that feels pretty reassuring.
  • Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth and struck out two but gave up two walks. Hmm.
  • The USC marching band, apparently, led off the post-game rally.

The Dodgers are limping into the postseason with a bunch of bad ankles and a lot of rainclouds. I'm not feeling very appreciated here. The Braves must be salivating.

Game 162 Thread: Sept. 29 vs. Rockies, 1p

Last year's Fan Appreciation Day

Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-7, 2.97) vs. Jeff Francis (2-5, 6.61).

With Clayton Kershaw getting his proper tuneup and Zack Greinke right behind Kershaw in sharpness, today we let Ryu take the mound and bring this season to a close.

Today is also the Dodgers' Fan Appreciation Day, which means all fans in attendance are eligible for outstanding prices like a Hello Kitty Themed Party at Your Home for 20. Hold on a second, is this Fan Punishment Day? (Actually, there are some cool prizes (including a Vin Scully outgoing voicemail message!); full prize list details here.) Following the game, there's a postseason rally hosted by Arsenio Hall.

The Rockies wanted to start Tyler Chatwood in their final 2013 game, since Francis hasn't started since June 18. However, Chatwood is dealing with right elbow soreness, so Francis gets the nod. Or, in other words, the guy that's restin' ain't Francis.

Thank you, Rancho Cucamonga! Good night!

UPDATE 10:28a: There's also a bevy of games going on this morning with playoff and/or playoff pairing implications: Rays @ Blue Jays, Phillies @ Braves; Indians @ Twins, Cubs @ Cardinals, and Angels @ Rangers: all of which have first pitches prior to 1p PT. Please feel free to make this a Scoreboard Watching thread as well!

Post-Game 161 Thread: Greinke Solid; Offense Take Night Off


The Dodgers, sans Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Yasiel Puig (save for a PH appearance), did not support Zack Greinke in suffering a 1-0 loss at the Stadium. Scott Van Slyke, Skip Schumaker, and Nick Buss, substituting for the aforementioned outfield threesome, went a combined 0-for-10. But Greinke was fine in his final regular-season appearance preparing for the postseason by looking sharp (6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB and 7 Ks over 90 pitches).

The loss did not affect the Dodgers' postseason plans, which will have us starting on the road either at St. Louis or Atlanta. The Cardinals took a one-game lead on the Braves in the standings, so if they beat the Cubs today, we play Atlanta in the NLDS. If the Cardinals lose and the Braves lose, it's still Turner Field for us. If the Cardinals lose and the Braves beat the Phillies, we play St. Louis (due to the season tiebreaker between St. Louis and Atlanta). All of this is not as exciting as the AL postseason possibilities, but believe me, I'll still be watching.

photo: Lisa Blumenfeld / Getty Images

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Wedding 1 Thread: Sept. 28, 6p

Stubbs (0-0, -.—ERA) and Karina (0-0, -.—ERA)


Many of you may already know that our very own SoSG brother Stubbs (née Mr. Customer) and one of our longtime, most loyal readers, Karina (Our Lady of Perpetual Optimism), are getting married. To each other! And today is their special day. The Sons are proud and honored to welcome Karina to the family, and full of pride for our dear brother Stubbs as he takes this great step in life.

It warms the heart of the SoSG family to know that this snark-filled pit of undying Dodger love, originally conceived as a way for a small group of friends located in different parts of the country to communicate about Dodger games and their shared love for the Boys in Blue, has now had the effect of actually bringing two real live people together in (mostly) holy matrimony. Even more amazing is that Karina hails from a country far, far away yet still found a way not only to follow her beloved Dodgers day or night, electrical grid blackout or no, while at the same time meeting her life match in Stubbs.

Orel, Sax, Delino, Nomo, AC, and I, together with our departed brethren EK, Lasorda, and Pedro Guerrero, and our millions of loyal readers, wish a lifetime of happiness to Karina and Stubbs (hopefully to include a World Series win!). May your lives forever be full of rancho ardiendos. Cheers, mazel tov, y feliz matrimonio!

Stubbs and Karina Pose for Their Wedding Photos

Note: Regrettably yours truly is ill, and unable to make the event. Rumor is that other Sons may, so hopefully we’ll here updates from them. Regardless, feel free to use this thread to leave your good wishes and/or snark for the happy couple!

"Priorities" - Stubbs

Game 161 Thread: Sept. 28 vs. Rockies, 6p

So that's what Amy Adams has been up to.

Zack Greinke (15-3, 2.67) vs. Juan Nicasio (8-9, 5.32).

"I hope we sweep and win 94. You know keep that 88 mojo in place."

Post-Game 160 Thread: Boobies and Ice Cream


We were way overdue to administer an ass-whuppin, and boy did we administer one. Boobies and ice cream, indeed, thanks to the offense and pitching.

Clayton Kershaw was on from the first pitch. He struck out eight and walked none. It was one of those outings where he seemed to be able to get a batter out at will, as if he were playing a video game and had the strike-this-mofo-out cheat code. Kid K moves to 16-9 with a - are you sitting down - 1.83 ERA on the season. He is the first Dodger to do so since the revered Sandy Koufax in 1966. And he became the first pitcher to lead the majors in ERA in three consecutive seasons since Greg Maddux did so from '93-'95. That's some good company, Clay.

On the offensive side, well, there was a notable lack of noffense. The bats came alive from the first inning, when the Dodgers put up four on Colorado rookie Collin McHugh thanks to a two-run double by Uribe and RBI singles by both Ellis boys. Crawford got off the home run schneid with a three-run homer in the fourth. A-Gone notably got his 100th RBI of the season with a solo shot to his favorite spot past the right field foul pole. AJEllis also got in on the red hot HR action with a two-run homer in the fifth. Honestly the Dodgers could have added several more runs, but were classy enough not to run up the score in several situations where they could have easily crossed the plate.

The only negative to the night was that Puig fouled a ball off what appeared to be his calf and had to leave the game. Subsequent x-rays were negative, thankfully, but he is likely very sore. Mattingly later noted that Puig would be day to day. But, aren't we all, Vinny?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Game 160 Thread: Sept. 27 vs Rockies, 7p

There are so many ways this video just does not hold up. The baggy clothes. The lack of choreography. The colors. NME was right.

Clayton Kershaw (15-9, 1.88) vs. Collin McHugh (0-3, 8.59).

Collin out? Around the world? Are you ready for a brand new beat? Well, the Dodgers might be, having won only two of their last six series. So look for a short but efficient night for Clayton Kershaw (in his last start before the postseason), and hopefully some more fireworks than what Dodger Stadium will put off post-game.

Oh, and we'll have two one Sons talking with Stan Kasten and other Dodger dignitaries this evening. Verbose writeups to follow!

Update 4:23pm (from Nomo): Dusty has been sidelined with the Boogie-Woogie Flu, so I'll be flying solo at Blogger Night.

Take it away, Martha, and redeem Mick and David:

Bobblehead Mania, But Dodgers Rise Above

Many of you might have heard about the Yankees' recent fiasco distributing the Mariano Rivera bobblehead (what a royal mess and PR nightmare). With the Dodgers recently doing as many as 10 bobblehead stadium giveaways a year, it's pretty impressive that they haven't stepped in piles of crap like the Yankees just did.

But in a recent WSJ article recapping the Yankees' debacle, it was nice to see the Dodgers represented as having solid bobblehead protocol:

Bobblehead management has become something of an issue with popular teams. In April, the Dodgers issued a rule limiting the number of bobbleheads given away at games to one per ticket holder to deter hoarders—and to help ensure that the fans actually stick around for the action.

"They're our most popular giveaway," says team spokesman Steve Brener. "We're trying to be fair to our fans."

But during the doll giveaway days, it can be tough to tell who the real fans are.

Ms. Connelly admits she isn't a baseball aficionado. She says she goes to the games to keep her husband company—and to bag a bobblehead. Explaining her postgame marketing efforts, she says, "I don't need extra crap lying around."

David Perahia of Torrance, Calif., has snatched up dozens of tickets for $2 bleacher seats at Dodgers Stadium just to get as many free bobbleheads in the image of popular former players like Sandy Koufax and Fernando Valenzuela. He then goes to his office to list them on his website,, for as much as $100 apiece.

He started the business in 2001 because his collection of bobbleheads became too much for his wife to bear. "She said 'get these out of the house' and that's how I started selling them," he says.

Post-Game 159 Thread: Dodgers, Giants Solidify Placements


The Dodgers lost the rubber match and ended up the season with an 8-11 record against San Francisco this year. But the Dodgers, 36-37 against the NL West, are going to the playoffs while the Giants, 42-31 against the NL West are not. This is because the Dodgers went 55-31 against the rest of the majors, while the Giants went a dismal 32-54. But enough math!

The Dodgers' loss...demonstrated that Edinson Volquez might be passable as a fourth starter (5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB and 4 Ks). Paco Rodriguez, who lost the game on an eighth-inning Angel Pagan HR, might be a bit worn. And the offense wasn't fully clicking; Carl Crawford had a first-inning triple and scored on an Adrian Gonzalez sacrifice; Juan Uribe and Mark Ellis strung consecutive doubles to notch another run.

But the Dodgers have more important games to consider, especially with their fate solidifying as the third-best division-leading record in the NL. This would put the Dodgers on the road for the first two games of the NLDS, with home games October 6 and 7 (and a final fifth game on the road, if necessary). Both Atlanta (54-24 at home) and St. Louis (51-27) are formidable at home, so I suppose it's a tossup.

The Giants win...vaults them ahead of the Mets in the standings, making them the 12th worst team in the majors. This is a good thing. On top of that, Tim Lincecum (7.0 IP of 2 ER ball) didn't look all that bad last night. So the Giants should really be picking up Lincecum (10-14 this season; ND last night) on a long-term deal. Absolutely.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Game 159 Thread: Sept 26 @ Giants, 7p

Edinson Volquez (9-12, 5.77) vs. Tim Lincecum (10-14, 4.44).

Ricky Nolasco's sub-par performance last evening put our postseason starting rotation more into doubt. (He lost to Barry Zito, for pete's sake.) And there's already been enough sadness and tragedy around Phone Book Park in the last 24 hours.

So let's see if Volquez can deliver us a series win tonight and get us back in the happy column. Except, wait a second, we want the Giants, currently the 11th-worst team in the majors, to not fall into the bottom 10, right?

Ah, this is so confusing. No it's not!

Life & Death at AT&T Park

Still developing story...
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A man wearing Dodgers gear was stabbed to death when a fight broke out between rival fans just after a San Francisco Giants baseball game near AT&T Park late Wednesday night.

San Francisco Police said a confrontation between two groups of men following a Dodgers and Giants game broke out near the intersection of Third and Harrison streets about 11:40 p.m.

The man was walking away from the stadium with his father and brother when a verbal disagreement led to a physical confrontation involving a knife, police said.

The man was stabbed during the fight and transported to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries, police said.

Three people were taken into custody in the area, and police were continuing to interview witnesses.
UPDATE: LA Times has a few more details...
The unidentified victim was with his brother and father who were wearing Dodger blue when he was stabbed, NBC-Bay Area reported. The argument began after a comment about Dodgers apparel, KGO-TV reported.

The victim was not wearing team colors, according to media reports. It was not immediately clear if others in the fight were wearing Giants gear.

UPDATE (from Nomo): Dodgers released a statement via Twitter.
The Dodgers are shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Jonathan Denver, who is the son of one of our security guards. There is no rational explanation for this senseless act which resulted in Jonathan's death. The pain that this has caused his family and friends is unimaginable. Words are not enough to describe our sadness. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family during this extremely difficult time.

Life & Death at the L.A. County Fair

Thanks to Scott Killeen for the photos. First, a deep-fried bacon-wrapped Dodger Dog:

Then, what happens if you eat too many of them:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Post-Game 158 Thread: Wobbly Fourth Leg


Ricky Nolasco (5.2 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 1 BB and 7 Ks) took the loss tonight in what may portend a bad turn: after going 8-1 in his first 12 starts with the Dodgers, he's now had two shaky outings of fewer than six innings, in which he's given up 11 ER and 13 R in aggregate three shaky outings of fewer than six innings, in which he's given up 17 ER and 19 R in aggregate. This is a pretty dangerous way of trying to solidify a sturdy fourth leg, or even mention a #3 starting rotation position on the post-season rosters. Not sure what's eating Ricky here, but I hope he reverts quickly.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers' offense--starting a substitute infield of Michael Young, Skip Schumaker, Nick Punto and Jerry Hairston, went a combined 1-for-14. We were 2-for-10 with RISP. So maybe it's not much of a surprise we dropped this one, the second game of the series.

In more important news, Atlanta lost to stay two games ahead of us, but St. Louis won to gain a game on the Braves. The Dodgers look increasingly unlikely to finish first in the NL; in which case, finishing second or third would only swing home-field advantage, rather than opponent. Keep tinkering, Donnie. Don't go nuts here.

Game 158 Thread: Sept. 25 @ Giants, 7p


Ricky Nolasco (13-10, 3.55) vs. Barry Zito (4-11, 5.91).

General consensus is that Ryu locked up the number-three position in the Dodgers' playoff pitching rotation with yesterday's impressive performance, but we'll see what Nolasco, who's coming off two rough starts, has to say about that. Meanwhile, this is likely Zito's last start with the Giants. Look for Ned in the visiting dugout, checkbook in hand.

Dodgers tickets

Thanks to Gnomes for the caption.

Scoreboard Watching: Nationals @ Cardinals (Sept 25, 2013)

Postseason pairing implications may be had from this afternoon's matchup, pitting Washington's Jordan Zimmerman (19-8) vs. St. Louis' Shelby Miller (14-9). Right now it's tied 1-1 in the middle of the fourth.

Let's go, Nats!

photo swiped from here

Early NL ROY Talk Has Puig, Ryu Behind Marlins' Fernandez

Early National League Rookie of the Year projections are starting to surface, and's Jerry Crasnick thinks the Dodgers' Yasiel Puig and Hyun-Jin Ryu should be second and fifth, respectfully:

At first glance, the 2013 National League rookie class appears noteworthy for its depth and international flair. The list of top candidates includes two Cubans (Jose Fernandez and Yasiel Puig), a high-priced free agent from Korea (Hyun-Jin Ryu) and a bonus baby from Colombia (Julio Teheran). It's stacked with pitching talent and includes a few players who arrived too late to enter the rookie of the year debate. New York Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler and Cincinnati stolen base machine Billy Hamilton quickly spring to mind.

Time will ultimately bring perspective on how good this group is. But it looks like the deepest and most productive rookie class since 2006, when Hanley Ramirez, Ryan Zimmerman, Prince Fielder, Matt Cain, Andre Ethier, Dan Uggla and Russell Martin debuted in the National League, and Justin Verlander, Jonathan Papelbon, Francisco Liriano, Jered Weaver, Ian Kinsler and Nick Markakis first appeared in the American League.

"It's a little weird in that almost all the prominent rookies are in the National League," said Steve Hirdt of the Elias Sports Bureau. "That's just the luck of the draw. You also have rookies like Teheran and Ryu who are playing big roles for contending teams. I always think that's worth something. I know it's not a popular stance these days. But I think playing games that are important to something more than your own statistical line is of value."

How will the 2013 ballot shake out? Here's a guess: [...]

2. Yasiel Puig, Dodgers (.327, 18 homers, .941 OPS)

Puig, nicknamed the "Wild Horse" by Vin Scully, has been a polarizing figure during a spectacular rookie year in Los Angeles. He won fans and gained national attention by collecting hits in bunches, running the bases with abandon and challenging baserunners with laser throws from the fence. He also undermined those jaw-dropping moments by running into outs, airmailing cutoff men and banging into walls and nearly injuring teammates.

The Dodgers were limping along at 23-32 in early June when Puig arrived from Double-A Chattanooga and went 2-for-4 with a game-ending throw to beat San Diego 2-1. Hanley Ramirez returned the following day from the disabled list and began tearing it up from the cleanup spot. But Puig, more than anyone, changed the tone of the conversation surrounding the Dodgers.

Feel free to quibble with Puig's .236 batting average (17-for-72) with runners in scoring position, his 11 steals in 19 attempts or diminished production since the All-Star break. It's hard to ignore the fact that the Dodgers are 62-29 when he's in the starting lineup.

Signature achievement: Elias notes that Puig is the first player since Joe DiMaggio in 1936 to amass 70 or more hits and 10-plus homers in his first 50 major league games. Puig's 18 home runs are the most by a Dodgers rookie since Mike Piazza slugged 35 in 1993. He'd have a lot more if he hadn't missed the first two months.

A teammate's take: "Yeah, Puig might come off as cocky to some people," Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp told Ramona Shelburne of "But why not think you're one of the best players in the league? Every great player has a swag to their game. That's what makes them great. If he's one of your teammates, you like the way he plays."

Outlook: For all the entertaining copy Puig has generated, the most intriguing questions will be answered in 2014. With Kemp, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier still owed a combined $280 million or so in long-term deals beyond this season, there are only so many at-bats to go around. Dodgers management has some important decisions to make this winter. [...]

5. Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dodgers (13-7, 3.03 ERA)

Ryu outlasted Josh Beckett, Ted Lilly, Chad Billingsley, Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano to emerge as the Dodgers' No. 3 starter behind Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. He has dealt with some back issues of late, but still has a 2.94 ERA since the All-Star break. Ricky Nolasco appeared to be moving ahead of him in the postseason pecking order, but the Dodgers might want to stick with Ryu now that Nolasco has been shelled in his past two outings.

As a 6-foot-2, 255-pound lefty with a diverse repertoire and natural strike-throwing ability, Ryu has generated lots of comparisons to David Wells. Ryu has a 3-0 record, 1.64 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 33 innings this season against Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and St. Louis -- the National League's other four playoff teams. That bodes well for him to make a positive contribution in October.

"We had scouted him since he was 18 and had more information on him than any international player we have signed," GM Ned Colletti said in an email. "He competes very well, adjusts mid-game and challenges hitters. He is one of those people who rises to the level of the competition. He's got a great sense of humor, and even though there is some language barrier, he has become a favorite of many in the room."

Signature achievements: Ryu ranks among the NL's top rookie starters in innings pitched (181), strikeouts (144), ERA (3.03) and wins (13). With one more win, he'll tie Kazuhisa Ishii for second-most victories by a Dodgers rookie starter behind Rick Sutcliffe, who set the franchise standard with 17 wins in 1979.

The manager's take: Opponents are hitting .216 against Ryu with runners in scoring position. "He throws the ball around the plate, [and] he's going to give up some hits," Don Mattingly told the Los Angeles Times. "But he's a guy who knows what he's doing. He pitches out of trouble. This guy can pitch."

Outlook: Ryu was a seven-time All-Star in the Korea Baseball Organization and signed for $36 million as a free agent last winter, so the Dodgers had reason to expect an immediate contribution. At 26, he's more experienced and significantly more advanced than the kid pitchers competing with him for the NL's top rookie award. A top-five finish is probably the best he can expect.

Paco Rodriguez was mentioned in the "also of note" section.

Jose Fernandez has indeed had a ROY-worthy year, especially given he's playing in Miami. But his shutdown earlier this month, juxtaposed with Puig getting more time to shine on a playoff stage, may not make this an open-and-shut case. It's quite common for the "X got us into the playoffs" discussion to factor into the voting. So we'll see.

Time to shine, Yasiel!

SI Columnist's Son Succumbs To Dodger Fandom

I've had the privilege of working with a couple of expatriates who have moved to the United States this year, and watched them as they've embraced the Dodgers this season as their MLB team of choice. Of course, the Dodgers' historic run of success this summer probably had a little to do with that decision.

But as Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated chronicled in the August 26, 2013 issue (how did I miss this piece!), the force of Dodgers fandom is more powerful than other team allegiances, despite some heretics' best efforts:

This was the summer I'd teach my son to hate the Dodgers. Austin is five, rapidly approaching that pivotal age when we make the first major decision of our lives, and maybe the most lasting. Careers, marriages and cellphone providers can change. Your favorite baseball team is forever.

Dodger Stadium is the closest big league ballpark to our home, which constituted a monumental risk. I grew up rooting for the Padres and cannot stand the thought of my son adopting another team in the National League West. The Angels are fair game. The division, however, is sacred.

About the time preschool let out in June, the Dodgers were 30--42, last in the West despite a $223 million payroll. See how they waste all that money? the paternal brainwashing went. Small markets build character. Check out the A's. It was safe to spend Sunday afternoons at Chavez Ravine in Row O of the upper deck—"tippity top," my son calls his preferred perch above home plate—because the Dodgers weren't giving anyone much to cheer for. The defining quote of the first three months of their season was, "All talent and no grit isn't going to get you there." I didn't say that. Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly did on May 22, when he was reportedly on the verge of being fired.

The Patriots won 18 straight games six years ago. The Heat won 27 straight five months ago. But those were juggernauts with established stars in sports in which outcomes often seem inevitable. The Dodgers, on the other hand, haven't been to the World Series since 1988, they are less than two seasons removed from the Chapter 11 hearings of disgraced owner Frank McCourt and their most popular player—Cuban sensation Yasiel Puig—didn't even arrive in the majors until June. Nothing could prepare a parent for what the Dodgers have wrought in the past 60 days.

Through Sunday they had won 42 of 51 (that's more than the Astros all season), 25 of 29 since the All-Star break and 15 of 17 in August. They're as automatic as a morning Sig Alert. They've won after being down five runs in the seventh inning against the Blue Jays, down three in the ninth against the Rays and down two in the ninth against the Mets. And this isn't like the Heat reeling off 27 in a row—it's like the Knicks doing it. The Dodgers went from last in the NL West, 9½ games back, to first, with a 7½-game lead. They took 15 straight on the road. They've won in blowouts (10-2 in San Francisco, 14-5 in Toronto) and by the thinnest margins (three times escaping 1-0). After one of those 1-0 duels Puig slid home to celebrate a walk-off bomb, and when kids were allowed to run the bases afterward, my son joined the throng and slid as well. I knew when I spotted the raspberry on his leg that I'd lost him.

The right team, at the right moment, can capture a generation in addition to a pennant. Two years ago, under McCourt's tight-fisted reign, the Dodgers ranked 11th in the majors in attendance. This season they're first. Sure, L.A.'s payroll could cover the Braves' and the Pirates' combined, but most of the overpriced have been injured. Utilitymen Skip Schumaker and Nick Punto have played more than Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez.

Handicapping baseball's postseason is as foolhardy as filling out an NCAA tournament bracket, but who will beat the Dodgers with Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu at the top of the rotation, with Kemp, Puig, Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez in the middle of the lineup? The day Austin asked for a Kemp jersey tee, I flashed back to a scene from the seventh season of The West Wing, when White House communications guru Toby Ziegler sneaks into his son's room one night and slips a Yankees hat over the Orioles cap on the bedpost. "Trust me," Ziegler whispers. "You'll be happier."

The Dodgers are the new Yankees, with a television contract that feeds them $300 million a year and an ownership group fronted by Magic Johnson that is eager to reinvest. Collecting shiny free agents on swollen salaries is no longer enough. Late last month reports surfaced that the team was moving toward signing Cuban shortstop Alexander Guerrero to a seven-year contract worth $32 million. Maybe Guerrero becomes the next Puig. Maybe he doesn't. The Dodgers must have him, just in case, because they don't lose anything anymore.

That's life at the tippity top.

I know it's bad form to use a linked article's entirety, but in this case, the article is so well-written, I'm making an exception. Glad to welcome Austin Jenkins into the Dodger brotherhood. Let's try and give him some memories that last a lifetime this October.

Or at least get him out of those camouflage pajamas.

Vin Scully, on Free Hugs

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Post-Game 157 Thread: Peaceful, Easy Feeling


Slightly more suspense in this one than I had earlier anticipated, but at least it wasn't a Heartache Tonight.

Hyun-Jin Ryu had a solid 7.0 IP, giving up one ER on a Tony Abreu solo shot in the bottom of the fifth (countering Yasiel Puig's solo HR in the top of the inning). Ryu had a reasonably long night on a cold evening in San Francisco: 104 pitches, 1 BB and 6 Ks, but was relieved in the eighth by Brian Wilson for a 1-2-3 eighth. And Kenley Jansen let Oyster Pubes get a single to right, advancing him to second on a wild pitch--but proceeded to fan Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval (both swinging on high heat) to earn the save.

The winning margin for the Dodgers was a HR in the top of the sixth by Matt Kemp. Kemp's blast, like Puig's, was a no-doubt-about-it shot. Both HR came off of Matt Cain, who took the loss and fell to 8-10 on the year.

Madison Bumgarner gets scratched tomorrow in favor of Barry Zito, making his last home start as a Giant before accepting the $7M buyout, the capper on his 7-year, $126M deal.

With Atlanta and St. Louis both winning tonight, I still contend the Dodgers should take it easy. I Can't Tell You Why.

Game 157 Thread: Sept. 24 @ Giants, 7p

Hyun-Jin Ryu (13-7, 3.03) vs. Matt Cain (8-9, 4.06).

With the Giants playing meaningless baseball for weeks now, all they can hope to see this evening is the potential for Matt Cain to claw back to a .500 W-L record, and the joy of seeing former closer Brian Wilson in enemy colors. According to, the Giants have scored only five runs in their last 40 innings, and have scored two runs or fewer in four straight games.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers have more important, October-play issues to consider: whether making up the two-game deficits against BOTH the Braves and Cardinals is worth the effort (technically, the Dodgers have a 1.5-game deficit against the Cards, who have only five to play), and whether Ryu can get back to form (Ryu is 0-2 in September and has lost four of his last five starts).

Beating the Giants is always fun, don't get me wrong. But having Ryu deal a Greinke-like outing on this turn would be just fine. Take it easy*, boys.

Note (*): Not to be confused with the other Eagles song, "Take It To The Limit", which has the entirely contrarian view

NPR Snags Yasiel Puig "Interview"

I put interview in quotes because Shereen Marison Meraji gave it a good go, but Dodgers phenom Yasiel Puig wasn't very forthcoming in his five-minute interview. Points for trying, however!

However, listening to this piece on the commute into work today, I was struck how Puig, just like any other 22-year-old, has a spartan furnished apartment here in Los Angeles, with the most used appliance being the PlayStation console.

Mattingly, And Why He Might Matter As Manager

Up until midway through June, many Dodgers fans were ready to pull the ripcord on Don Mattingly. So now that he's guided (or at least presided) over a historic run and the Dodgers' first playoff berth since 2009, it's a good time to consider how much of an impact he might have had on that turnaround.

ESPN the Magazine's Peter Keating did just that in the September 16, 2013 issue, in his column "Do Managers Really Matter?" (link insider only). And Mattingly was actually front and center as the example:

UNTIL JUNE 22 of this year, the nation's sports writers tripped all over themselves to excuse Don Mattingly's managerial record -- a mediocre 198-197 to that date. "Mattingly has proven to be a victim of circumstance" was one typical take. Then LA ripped off 42 wins in 50 games, and the same pundits started talking up Mattingly for NL Manager of the Year. This kind of thing drives me bonkers. If Mattingly wasn't to blame when the Dodgers failed to meet expectations, why does he deserve so much credit for vaulting them into first place? It is recency bias and a man crush, not sound statistical judgment.

But the Mattingly bandwagon does make you wonder: When it comes to evaluating managers, what is sound statistical judgment? There's no sabermetric berbenchmark like Wins Above Replacement for managers; it's surprisingly hard to track their effect on players or teams. That leaves many statheads hostile to the idea that skippers have any significant impact at all. (Just think of Moneyball's portrayal of Billy Beane the genius vs. Art Howe the spluttering doofus.) As Sabermetric Research blogger Phil Birnbaum has put it, "There can't be a whole lot of manager influence in temporarily increasing a player's talent." [...]

But maybe [a lack of statistical correlation in overperformance, year-over-year, is] the point. Perhaps a manager's true value is not found amid strategic dexterity but in a hitter belting 30 home runs, for whatever reason, when we expect him to hit 15. When Davey Johnson gives regular playing time to teenagers like Dwight Gooden or Bryce Harper, we should credit him for the production of his young players. When veterans rejuvenate their careers playing for Tony La Russa, we should view their stat lines as incorporating his impact. "I think statheads have to be a little careful when they say managers don't matter," Nate Silver told me last November. "What if you can get guys to play toward the higher end of their performance curve?"

This is the idea that Hardball Times columnist Chris Jaffe examined in his excellent book, Evaluating Baseball's Managers. Jaffe studied a huge database that Birnbaum developed, which stretches back to the 1890s and projects how well players should have performed in each season. (Essentially, Prince Fielder's estimates for 2009 are a weighted average of his stats for 2007, '08, '10 and '11.) He figured out how much each team in every season exceeded its aggregate expectations, or fell short of them, then credited the difference to its manager. And he found that over time, managers' totals didn't regress to zero; they grew, and the longer a skipper managed, the more his hitters and pitchers tended to beat projections, indicating skill was involved. Jaffe's book came out in 2010 and ranked Joe McCarthy as the greatest manager of all time and La Russa as the best since World War II.

So whether or not Mattingly wins NL Manager of the Year (my vote would be for Pittsburgh's Clint Hurdle), his value doesn't come from his curfew rules or batting orders. It comes from keeping Hanley Ramirez happy and playing Yasiel Puig -- generating loads of unexpected W's.

It's funny to look at this article now, a couple weeks after it was published, now that the Dodgers have slowed a bit and there appear to have been some managerial gaffes in the last ten games (Juan Uribe bunting in the ninth with none out and two on, for example?). Is Mattingly really getting the most out of his players, like the stories of Tommy Lasorda's gift? I suppose we'll find out soon enough, if this is truly Donnie's gift as well.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Scoreboard Watching: Sept 23, 2013

Last off-day of the season for the Dodgers, so let's start watching the scoreboards around the relevant NL teams:

  • Brewers @ Braves, 4p. Marco Estrada (6-4, 4.26) vs. Mike Minor (13-7, 3.19). Braves are two games up on the Dodgers, with the best record in the NL (92-63).

  • Mets @ Reds, 4p. Former Dodgers Aaron Harang (5-12, 5.69) faces Johnny Cueto (5-2, 3.02). Reds are tied with the Pirates for the NL Wild Card, and both are two games behind St. Louis.

  • Pirates @ Cubs, 5p. Charlie Morton (7-4, 3.35) vs. Jeff Samardzija (8-12, 4.42).

  • Nationals @ Cardinals, 5p. Tanner Roark (7-0, 1.08) vs. Adam Wainwright (17-9, 2.98). For those of you not down with the transitive property, St. Louis is one game ahead of the Dodgers as the NL Central leader.

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Kershaw Is Crown Jewel of New ESPN Spot

Thanks for goodchild27 for the find:

Post-Game 156 Thread: Greinke Gets Short Tune-Up

This wrench sure has a tiny head.


Zack Greinke, unfazed by the Padres' camouflage uniforms, pitched a quick five innings (72 pitches), giving up only 2 H (1 BB and 3 Ks), before being replaced by Jerry Hairston to PH in the top of the sixth.

It was a short leash but that's all the Dodgers needed of him Sunday, after Michael Young doubled home Adrian Gonzalez (Young took third on RF Will Venable's error). Watching Gonzalez truck home from first base exerted as much energy as Gonzalez used. Meanwhile, J.P. Howell, Chris Withrow, and Kenley Jansen shut the Padres down.

I suppose I should be concerned at how Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Skip Schumaker, and Tim Federowicz all 0-fered today (a combined 0-for-17). Whatever. The Dodgers' win kept pace with Atlanta, whom we're two games behind; St. Louis, our likely NLDS opponent, lost to Milwaukee to stay a game ahead of us.

Off-day Monday. Relax before our three-game series in SF.

PCS 6.6 - Dodger Bingo

Find the common thread that separates some of these former Dodgers from the others.

click to enlarge

Puzzle Rules: The solution to the puzzle is a former Dodger. 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:
  • Send me an Email with "PCS" somewhere in the subject line, containing the first and last name of the players, 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.
Under the new rules, you now have until midnight PT on Saturday to submit your answer. Answer will be posted Sunday morning. Good luck!

Let's Join the Push to Make This a Reality

KPCC notes that there is some local (LA) talk about renaming Stadium Way (non-locals: the exit off the 110 leading to Chavez Ravine) for Vin Scully.

How great would it be to take Vin Scully Way into our beloved Chavez Ravine and Dodger Stadium? Probably the main barrier, though, is Vin's own humility; he's been loathe to endorse various gestures to honor him over the years.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he's happy to make the push:
Mayor Eric Garcetti said he would run the idea of naming a street near Dodger Stadium after legendary announcer Vin Scully.

Responding to a listener comment ABC7's "Eyewitness Newsmakers" program, Garcetti said he'd been giving the idea some thought after seeing it on Twitter.

"This is something that has been buzzing around on Twitter," the mayor said. Adding later that "If there's a Los Angeles hall of fame, Vin Scully would be my number one choice to go in it."
This can be done. We'll get the SoSG Government Relations and Public Relations teams on it to figure out how to take up this cause.

UPDATE 2:18p (Sax): Ever the humble gentleman, Scully is advocating that the street be named after the O'Malley family:

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's suggestion that a street should be named after Dodgers Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully hasn't been endorsed by Scully.

In fact, Scully offered an alternative.

"The mayor of Los Angeles has a great deal more important things to do than name a street after me," Scully said Sunday. "And if he is considering that idea, better the street should be named after Walter or Peter O'Malley than myself."

h/t and image props: @VinScullyTweet

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Game 156 Thread: Sept. 22 @ Pads, 1p

Zack Greinke (15-3, 2.75 ERA) vs. Andre Cashner (10-8, 3.21 ERA)

Rubber game today, kids. Greinke goes for his 16th win and the Dodgers look to say goodbye to the Pod Rays on the season. Interesting note: The Dodgers are one win shy of joining the Giants (403) as the only teams with at least 400 wins over the Padres.

ps- Happy birthday to the Dodgefather, Tommy Lasorda!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Post-Game 155 Thread: Kershaw Restores Order


Clayton Kershaw, well-rested and pool-bathed, took the mound tonight and hadn't missed a step: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB and 10 Ks. A.J. Ellis got in his second HR in three games, a two-run shot in the fourth; Yasiel Puig launched a mammoth two-run shot to deep center which sailed over a tall piece of shrubbery just right of the batters' eye. That's all she wrote.

The Braves' loss to the Cubs left them one game away from clinching; both division leaders Atlanta and St. Louis each have 91 wins. The Dodgers are now at 89 wins, with seven more to play.

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Game 155 Thread: Sept. 21 @ Pads, 5:40p

Clayton Kershaw (14-9, 1.94 ERA) vs. Burch Smith (1-1, 6.57 ERA)

Look right here. See the little flashy thing?

There. Now listen up. The Dodgers didn't play yesterday. They didn't field a Double A lineup filled with names you wouldn't recognize. They did not squander a decent outing by Edinson Volquez. They did not have three errors on the day. Carlos Marmol did not suck. They did not have terrible, amateur level pinch hit attempts from their so-called big guns. Today is a fresh start. The boys are recovered from their post-clinching celebrations and ready for business, ready to finish out the season with energy and be ready for the playoffs. Oh, and there was no sports talk radiogasm over the swimming pool incident.

This one has all the makings of a Burch Smith-turns-into-Cy Young type of game. Let's hope Kershaw rebounds from a poor last few outings and gets the job done. Come on boys, do it for the stadium full of Dodger fans there at Petco Park.

2013 NL West-Winning Graphs

There's a real treat on the front page of today's LAT: a series of great graphs illustrating how the Dodgers completed their worst-to-first 2013 run, including breakdowns of the pitching and hitting impacts. The bottom graph on hitting, in particular, really drives home the point about Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez' impacts.

(click on image, or link above, to enlarge)

Well done, LA Times graphics people (specifically, Austin Knoblauch, Len de Groot, and Lorena Iniguez Elebee).

Man, I can't get enough graphs.

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Because This Story Can't Die #Poolgate

Bill Shaikin did a great job capturing the Dodger player reactions to the ongoing Poolgate (no relation to the Dodgers' equipment manager Mitch Poole), and succeeded in capturing the class guys we have on the team, despite what Senator McCain may think.
Ethier said it was one thing to criticize the act of jumping in the pool — "Maybe some of his constituents were complaining to him, wondering if he could do something," Ethier said — quite another to label the players as overpaid, immature, arrogant and spoiled.

"That's over the line," said Ethier, who lives in Arizona.

"It is absolutely absurd that he would even comment on that," said Mark Ellis, who also lives in Arizona. "I would have thought he would know better than that. He doesn't know any of us. The whole thing is absolutely ridiculous.

"To call us overpaid? Come on. Coming from a politician?"

Young said he would welcome the chance to meet with McCain, to explain how players are heavily involved in charities in the cities in which they play, and in their hometowns.

"I'd like to change his tune that we're spoiled," Young said. "I've never had the pleasure of meeting him. I'd love to."
As I was hammering the Senator on Twitter yesterday, that's the theme I hit. Our players are incredibly dedicated to giving back to their communities, and to call them overpaid and spoiled is just ignorant and ill-informed. Give Clayton a call and ask him about his charity work. Ask Matt Kemp about the terminal kid he flew down for a Dodger game. Meet Ethier over at the Union Rescue Mission. And the fact that McCain has now offended two constituents...well, I guess he's likely to retire after this term so it doesn't matter. Stick to calls for carpet bombing at the drop of a hat, Senator.

ps- Sorry to cross the line and bring politics in, but this is a rare nexus of Dodger baseball and criticism from an elected official.

Walkoff Celebration Featuring Chewbacca (and KISS)

Two More Funny Quotes On The Dodgers' Pool Party

With the exception of John McCain's ill-timed tweet, I actually found the brouhaha over "Poolgate" naturally subsiding pretty quickly. I did like these two quotes the best, however, (both of which are in this same article).

First, Arizona Diamondbacks' president Derrick Hall, with a comment to the local paper:

Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall offered a statement Thursday to the Arizona Republic in which he said, "I could call it disrespectful and classless, but they don't have a beautiful pool at their old park and must have really wanted to see what one was like."

See, that's pretty funny. Critical of the Dodgers as one would expect a rival team's president to be, but aware enough to flip it back with a veiled insult (which is totally legitimate, by the way; Dodger Stadium is indeed old, and I also think the Chase Field pool is a cool stadium feature).

Also extending the argument in a funny way was Dodgers manager Don Mattingly:

"These are like little baby boys; it's like Little League when these guys win. It's exciting and stuff is spontaneous. I don't think there was a plan to embarrass anybody. And to be honest with you, I bet there weren't 100 fans out there in those seats. Everybody was gone. So it's not like they were doing anything to rub it in anybody's face. There wasn't anybody there. If we tore anything up I would feel bad about that but we didn't hurt the pool. It can't be that bad." [...]

I don't think it's that big of a deal. I don't think it hurt anybody and I don't think it was done on purpose to embarrass anybody. If we won it here, would the Padres be mad if we jumped the fence and made sand castles in the sand box out there. Seriously, would anyone care?"

Football players have been told to "act like they've been there before" when scoring a touchdown. We've never clinched at Chase Field, and that pool is damn inviting, particularly for a team that was in last place and 9.5 games out of first midway through the season. Next time, maybe we won't take the plunge. But this time, it was a pretty cool spectacle and spotaneous celebration. Let it be.

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photo: Norm Hall / Getty Images

Friday, September 20, 2013

Post-Game 154 Thread: Send In The Scrubs


With most of the Dodgers' core group of starters unavailable, as their uniforms were being run through the clothes dryer (gotta use gentle cycle or they could shrink; right, Uribe?!), the Dodgers fielded a minor-league lineup today and got...minor league results.

Prior to the ninth inning, the Dodgers were held to only four hits (two from Skip Schumaker, including two doubles; one from Dee Gordon (1-for-4 with a SB) and one from late double-switch entry Michael Young). We had made three errors (Gordon, Carlos Marmol, and Tim Federowicz). The ninth had some slight intrigue: another Skip Schumaker double to leadoff the inning, with Skip advancing to third on a one-out Adrian Gonzalez PH single. But Yasiel Puig's PH appearance ended in a K, as did Matt Kemp's PH appearance. Should have let those guys rest, Donnie!

Edinson Volquez did pretty well: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER (HR by Jedd Gyorko), 4 BB and 6 Ks. Marmol pitched 1.1 IP and it was a push, 3 BB and 3 Ks. I'm all for resting the starters, but shouldn't that mean giving them a full nine-inning respite?

Dodgers tickets

Game 154 Thread: Sept. 20 @ Pads, 7p

Edinson Volquez (9-11, 5.94) vs. Robbie Erlin (2-3, 5.18).

Wait, there's a game tonight?

Brian Wilson Takes Big Step to Cement Himself as True Blue

Shut Down the Internet, Folks!

We're done here.

Where To Fit Matt Kemp This Postseason

Amidst all the NL West-winning celebration is a sobering question: where do we fit Matt Kemp in the three-person outfield? Buster Olney has some perspective (link insider only):

Los Angeles Dodgers: What will they do with Matt Kemp?

He is going through a baseball version of speed dating: He has 11 days left to make himself attractive to Don Mattingly, to show that he can help, after missing most of this season. He had four hits, including two doubles, on Tuesday, and then on Wednesday he went 1-for-4.

As of this moment, the Dodgers would face the Cardinals in the postseason, which means L.A. would face right-handed starting pitchers, and it may be that Mattingly would prefer to use the left-handed hitting Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier in left and center, with Yasiel Puig in right. It’s up to Kemp to change Mattingly's mind.

The Dodgers will rest Hanley Ramirez as much as possible before the start of the postseason.

I say you hold Kemp on the roster even if it is the Cardinals we face. Ethier is still recuperating and Puig is...Puig.

Diamondbacks Not Happy About The Dodgers' Celebratory Pool Party

Make sure to stick around until the end of the video to watch Hyun-Jin Ryu jog out to right field, and demonstrate water displacement.

The Dodgers clinched the NL West with their 7-6 win over the Diamondbacks on Thursday, making them the first team to clinch a 2013 postseason spot. As per the Diamondbacks' request, the Dodgers did not celebrate with a speech platform, post-game interviews, or a champagne celebration on the Arizona field.

However, a Dodgers player contingent did go out to the Chase Field right field pool, after the Diamondbacks' crowd had dispersed, and celebrated in the pool.

The Diamondbacks were not amused:

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Diamondbacks were upset after roughly half of the players on the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrated clinching the NL West title on Thursday by jumping into the pool at Chase Field.

Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall said in a statement to the Arizona Republic, "I could call it disrespectful and classless, but they don't have a beautiful pool at their old park and must have really wanted to see what one was like."

The Diamondbacks had asked the Dodgers to keep their players from returning to the field once the division-clinching celebration began. After the Dodgers' 7-6 win, the team high-fived and gathered briefly at second base before it filed into the clubhouse, where champagne and beer flew.

A few minutes later, players began running toward the pool beyond the right-center field wall and scaling it.

The Dodgers misunderstood the intent of the Diamondbacks' request, according to team president Stan Kasten. He thought they were asking Dodgers players not to celebrate raucously in front of Diamondbacks fans. By the time the players took the plunge, the stadium was largely empty.

"I've never been around a celebration like this that didn't get excited and a little bit boisterous," Kasten said.

Diamondbacks infielder Willie Bloomquist was the most vocal critic of the Dodgers' actions.

"I think it's tired and disrespectful," Bloomquist said. "It's surprising, because they have a lot of veteran guys on that team that I thought were classier than that."

Diamondbacks right-hander Brandon McCarthy hopes it's his team doing the partying in the pool next year.

"Celebrating is fun. I don't care how and where you do it. Only thing to care about is what we need to do to celebrate in our pool next year.", tweeted McCarthy.

Nick Punto was the first to cannon-ball into the pool. Yasiel Puig later took a belly-flop, arms outspread.

Props to McCarthy for understanding the situation and taking the higher ground. Yes, it might not have been the most polite move to celebrate in the pool. But come on, Arizona. The Dodgers' initial celebration was indeed confined to the visitors' locker room, as requested. And it spilled over with a small contingent running over to the pool well after the fans had dispersed.

Here's Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic, incensed at the Dodgers' alleged sacrilege:

When the Diamondbacks clinched the division in 2011, their post-game pool party was an organic masterpiece. The moment became part of the mythology of Chase Field, where the pool became much more than a sponsorship gimmick and showcase for high-dollar fans. [...]

Surely, the Dodgers were aware of the breach of etiquette. If they weren’t, it’s an even worse commentary on their lack of awareness, on their lack of respect for baseball history.

Wait, let's ground ourselves a second here. Are you talking about the "mythology" of a field that has changed naming rights in its short 15-year history? A field where the D'backs rightfully celebrated a clinching four years ago by doing the same pool party "tradition"? Please.

After six months of battling, and coming back from last place and 9.5 games out of first, is this ebullient wave of emotion unfair? I think it's reasonable. This is a remarkable season for the Dodgers and the post-crowd pool party still is better than a directly-post-game celebration.

Prior Dodger playoff celebrations involved Dodger players spraying champagne while running up and down the dugout roof. I think this episode was more sedate, with behavior par for the course for any pool owner.

Stay cool, Arizona.

Now Available

What and where, thanks to Scott Killeen:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Post-Game 153 Thread: We Are The (NL West) Champions!


Last place on July 1.

First team to clinch.

'Nuff said.

Image vis Dodgers on Facebook

Game 153 Thread: Sept. 19 @ D'backs, 12:30p

"After we win today, I want a nice orderly celebration just like this."

Ricky Nolasco (13-10, 3.35) vs. Wade Miley (10-10, 3.70).

Magic number's still at two. At least Nolasco should be rested after getting shelled — nay, bazookaed — in his last start, in which he threw 50 pitches in giving up seven runs to the Giants over 1 1/3 innings.

So it's either a win and a happy flight to San Diego, or start the regulars against the Padres and hope the Rockies give the Snakes a hard time. I say we go for the win.

Matt Kemp, Poised To Rebound Big In 2014

Jim Bowden of forecasted some players he expects to have huge comebacks in 2014:

Forecasting how well these players will bounce back can be tricky, but based on a player’s track record and work ethic, general managers often will take gambles based on hunches. They often are the best offseason acquisitions because they cost nothing in terms of trade assets or signing values.

Here are seven players who I believe will have bounce-back seasons in 2014 after subpar 2013 seasons:

1. Matt Kemp | CF | Los Angeles Dodgers

Kemp’s injury-plagued 2013 season was nothing short of a nightmare. Early in the season he didn’t display his typical power, and while the team maintained he was healthy, most observers attributed his lack of power to a surgically repaired shoulder. He also was hampered by a sore right hamstring in May, then again in June.

However, with Kemp’s high character and work ethic, I would expect him to return 100 percent in 2014. A fire will burn inside him to prove he can regain his 2011 form, when he led the NL in runs, home runs and RBIs. To have a healthy Kemp and Yasiel Puig in the same lineup next season will be can’t-miss baseball. The Dodgers will boast two of the best power/speed combination players in baseball.

In fact, Kemp made his first start since July on Tuesday night and went 4-for-4 with two doubles, giving us a glimpse of what he is capable of. I would not be surprised if he returned to be an MVP candidate.

Bowden also gave some love to the Angels' Albert Pujols, not to mention Matt Cain and Pablo Sandoval of the Giants.

Bill Plaschke And Living In The Moment, One Moment, And The Next Moment

The Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke likes to live in the moment. And, he likes to live in the next moment.

So much so, that he seems to be using the same cliched mechanism to illustrate "sudden" changes in perspective, separated by simple moments, to underline the tension or contradition in the conflict. And in fact, he's been using this hackneyed device not only regularly for the last ten years (if not longer; the first reference I found was twenty years old!), but also, more alarmingly, with increasing rapidity.

Let's spend some moments with Plaschke (bold emphasis mine).

September 17, 1994, on football issues:

One moment you are standing there, your entire world in sight, the possibilities endless.

The next moment you are swallowing somebody's jersey and feeling for your toes.

January 9, 2004, on Brett Favre:

One moment Favre was throwing the ball into the hands of cornerback Melvin Jenkins, then watching him run 15 yards to give the Lions a 10-point lead. Then he was screaming at Lion defensive players.

The next moment he was being publicly scolded by Coach Mike Holmgren. "I hate watching films because sometimes I wonder, 'What the hell am I doing?' " Favre said. But in the final moment, he was sending his team to Dallas for a second-round game next Sunday while sending the stunned Lions to their winter homes.

December 25, 2003, on USC wide receiver Mike Williams:

One moment, Mike Williams is in a stereotypical tale of inner-city failure.

The next moment, he is in a Christmas card.

August 12, 2008, on a tragic shooting affecting the US men's volleyball team at the Olympics:

One moment, his phone contained a happy text message from his father-in-law.

The next moment, that phone carried the news that his father-in-law had been slain during a nearby tour of the ancient Drum Tower.

May 26, 2009, on the Lakers' Game 4 Western Conference play loss to the Nuggets:

In one moment, the Nuggets' Chris "Birdman" Andersen was inspiring the crowd to flap their arms as he leaped through Lakers statues for 14 rebounds.

In the next moment, that crowd was raining down an obscene chant upon the cold-shooting Bryant, who could only grab his shorts, catch his breath, and shake his head.

February 11, 2010, profiling skier Lindsey Vonn:

In one moment Wednesday, a woman who has earned a U.S. women's record 31 World Cup victories while enduring everything from a sliced tongue to a battered back was talking about hobbling down Whistler Mountain for her five events. "It's just managing the pain," she said. "It's a matter of dealing with the pain."

The next moment, she was talking about baring her body for an annual magazine swimsuit issue and website that is famous for its perfect flesh. "It was a wonderful opportunity," she said. "I was honored."

October 15, 2010, about the baseball postseaon:

One moment there was a wonderfully noisy pennant race. The next moment it was so quiet you could hear a rating point drop.

One moment, we were marveling at the heartening end of a timeless marathon. The next moment, we were yawning over the silly steps of a manufactured sprint.

One moment, there were players spilling champagne over each other in celebration of one of sport's most difficult achievements. The next moment, well, it's been nearly two weeks and guys are still pouring champagne over each other and we're not sure why.

One moment, the country cared. The next moment, much of it didn't, and why should it?

September 11, 2010, on the Angels' Peter Bourjos' fielding error:

One moment Peter Bourjos was standing under a soaring fly that would not have directly affected the Angels' championship chase. The next moment he was looking with panic at an empty glove that might have ended it.

October 24, 2011, about golfer Charlie Sifford:

One moment he says, "I've lived a damn good life. I only have a few little years left, and I want to spend it happy."

The next moment he says, "I'm not sure about everybody calling me the Jackie Robinson of golf, because Jackie Robinson had a team behind him, and I had to do it alone."

September 24, 2012, on replacement NFL officials:

In one moment, Packers safety M.D. Jennings clearly intercepted a final-play pass while falling upon Seahawks receiver Golden Tate in the end zone, preserving an apparent 12-7 Green Bay win.

In the next moment, the replacement officials ruled that Tate had made the catch, and upheld that ruling after replay review, giving the Seahawks a 14-12 victory.

February 21, 2013, on the memorial honoring Jerry Buss:

In one moment, NBA Commissioner Stern was properly describing Buss as "nothing less than a transformational force in the history of sports."

In the next moment, Johnny Buss, looking and sounding strikingly like his father, right down to the untucked shirt and sport jacket, was calling for Lakers fans to remember him forever in blue jeans.

September 17, 2013, on Matt Kemp's return to the Dodgers lineup:

One moment Kemp was standing on second base, raising his hands into the air, pointing those hands at the Dodgers dugout. The next moment he was standing on first base slapping those hands together in joyful relief.

What to make of all of this?

One moment, I think Plaschke is incredibly lazy in his writing.

The next moment, I still think Plaschke is incredibly lazy in his writing.

Matt Kemp Is Back, And He's Bringing His Friends With Him

Hot off the sting of a difficult loss, I was super-excited to read about how Matt Kemp paid for five Dodger batboys to fly into Phoenix from LA, just in case the Dodgers had clinched Wednesday night:

PHOENIX -- Five bat boys and ball boys that work games at Dodger Stadium were flown in by outfielder Matt Kemp so they could be in the visitors clubhouse at Chase Field Wednesday night if the Dodgers clinched the National League West title.

The five: Gabriel Esparza-Torres, Francisco Herrera, Sergio Garcia, Javier Herrera and Eddie Gonshorowski.

Equipment manager Alex Torres said Kemp also picked up the hotel charges for the group. Torres said Brad Penny did the same thing for bat boys and ball boys in the 2004 playoffs.

Now I'm even more disappointed at Ronald Belisario's performance Wednesday night. If Kemp has to fly those five on to San Diego, they sure as heck better be on Belisario's tab.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Post-Game 152 Thread: Fife And Beli Let It Get Away

Fife was played tonight.


Stephen Fife, spot-starter in place of Clayton Kershaw, didn't last very long. Wild pitches and walks helped the Diamondbacks score 4 ER, which took care of Fife with one out in the third inning.

The Dodgers muscled their way back into the game, making it 4-3 by the seventh inning, which doesn't account for a horrible call at the plate after Miguel Montero missed the tag on Michael Young (who was called out), as well as an unusual call at second (ejecting Adrian Gonzalez, who was voicing his displeasure having doubled without getting the RBI).

Still, the Dodgers' bullpen kept the one-run game close...until Ronald Belisario came in and picked up right where Fife left off. Belisario, who has been shaky for over a month now, gave up three walks and two doubles, putting the Dodgers down 6-3. Peter Moylan didn't do much better, inheriting the bases loaded and letting all three runners score.

Tim Federowicz added a two-out solo shot for the Dodgers in the ninth but who the hell cares. This wasn't one we expected to win, anyway, not with that lineup plus the umps working against us. Let's come back tomorrow for some early baseball and see if we can clinch this.

Game 152 Thread: Sept. 18 @ Snakes, 7p

Stephen Fife (4-3, 3.38) vs. Brandon McCarthy (4-9, 4.58).

Happy Whacking Day, everyone! It is finally time to drive the Snakes from the NL West! (They'd still be alive in the Wild Card, but on life support.)

Tonight's scenario isn't exactly how we envisioned it. Don Mattingly has given Clayton Kershaw some additional rest (lining him up to start Game 1 of the NLDS), so Stephen Fife takes the mound tonight in the first potential clinching game. Fife was, well, awful in his last appearance. With Kemp and Hanley (and possibly Carl Crawford) back in the lineup, though, Fife should have enough run support to be able to relax. Update (3:46p): Kemp and Crawford are in the lineup, but Hanley is OUT. Argh.

We can set aside the talk of Magic Numbers for now. A win in either of the next two games gets us in. A lot has gone wrong lately, but let's make it right tonight (tonight tonight).*

*h/t Neeebs

Plaschke Flip-Flops On Dodgers Lineup Fortitude, But Short Sentences Keep Him From Falling Down

Gotta love our hometown hack Bill Plaschke, who couldn't wait 24 hours to flip-flop positions on the strength of the Dodgers' lineup, not to mention Matt Kemp's ability to contribute.

Exhibit 1: Monday September 16. The Dodgers had just lost their third in a row to the woeful Giants (though believe me, we know what we're doing!), using lineups that were only anchored by two regular starters (Mark Ellis at 2B and Juan Uribe at 3B).

All three outfield positions changed starters each night. We started Dee Gordon for pete's sake. There was no Hanley Ramirez to be found. Matt Kemp entered only for a late PH AB in the Sunday game.

And yet, after losing a fourth straight game, falling in the series opener with Arizona, Bill Plaschke came out of the weekend really worried:

PHOENIX — The clinching is slowly becoming a clenching.

The Dodgers are going to win a game that puts them in the playoffs, and it will probably happen this week, but at this rate the sounds of cork popping will be drowned out by teeth grinding.

For the fourth straight day their magic number is still four — and still apparently hiding somewhere up their sleeves — after a 2-1 loss to Arizona on Monday night in a game that was typified by the final out.

Remember Matt Kemp? In his first appearance in nearly two months after suffering through ankle and hamstring injuries, he came to the plate as a pinch-hitter with two out in the ninth inning and the tying run on third base and the go-ahead run on second.

Stop the presses? Nah, let them roll, the Dodgers' narrative remaining unchanged as Kemp struck out flailing on four pitches. [...]

Make no mistake, no matter what the Dodgers are doing now, their journey is going to take them to the postseason for the first time in four years. With the recent injuries and ineffectiveness, the growing concern is suddenly how long they will stay there.

Yikes, that sounds dire. The game was "typified by the final out", which must mean that Kemp's PH K somehow typifies the nine basehits from the team, not to mention the bases-clearing / lead-taking double from Adrian Gonzalez! And Matt Kemp can't be trusted! Disaster!

Oh, but wait a second. Exhibit 2: 24 hours later, the Dodgers opened a can of whup-ass on the Diamondbacks, romping to a 9-3 win and dropping the magic number to two. And suddenly, according to Plaschke, the lineup woes are all solved by Matt Kemp and his 4-for-4 performance:

PHOENIX — The champagne is still on hold for at least another day, but the Dodgers bounced out of their clubhouse here Tuesday night happily soaked in a different sort of bubbly.

There's nothing like being sprayed with a vintage Matt Kemp.

One ball was smacked into the left-field corner. Another ball was blasted off the wall above the center-field fence. There was a line drive up the middle. There was a grounder past the shortstop.

One moment Kemp was standing on second base, raising his hands into the air, pointing those hands at the Dodgers dugout. The next moment he was standing on first base slapping those hands together in joyful relief.

In his final moment Tuesday, when Kemp was pulled off the Chase Field diamond in the seventh inning to protect his still-tender ankle, he was enveloped by teammates with hugs, back slaps and welcome laughs. After a 58-day absence from the lineup card, Kemp's name showed up with exclamation points, his bat accounting for four hits and three RBIs while helping to whittle the Dodgers' magic number to two in a 9-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"That's me, that's what I do," a grinning Kemp said afterward. "To be able to do it in my first game back is a pretty good sign."

As usual with Matt Kemp, the three words trumpeting his dreamy return must be accompanied by three words rooted in reality.

He is back. Will it last?

Wait a second, wasn't this the guy you were just excoriating as typifying the Dodgers' ineptitude? Weren't the Dodgers up shit creek a day ago? What the hell is "being sprayed by vintage Matt Kemp", anyway (and why am I afraid that Plaschke might know the answer to that question in the first place)?

Wow. Well, I suppose I should at least be excited Plaschke isn't uniformly focused on just Trojan football anymore. Hope Matt doesn't 0-fer tonight so we get another "end of the world" column tomorrow.