Thursday, February 26, 2015

Grandal, The Sleeper

Fantasy baseball writer Eric Karabell says Yasmani Grandal will have a breakout year for the Dodgers (link insider only):

Let’s be honest, I prefer to use the word value when describing players I like more or less than most in whatever fantasy league we’re talking about because the simple terms “sleepers” and “busts” are oft-misinterpreted. For example, look no further than St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright. Is it fair to call him a potential bust? I suppose, but if you ask me to project numbers for him, they’re obviously going to be better than what I expect from Colorado Rockies right-hander Kyle Kendrick. The difference with Wainwright is he’s viewed as a top-10 starting pitcher for his past achievements and the fact I’m concerned about his arm holding up means I wouldn’t view him as such. (A view shared by my colleague Mike Petriello, for that matter.) As a result, he’s not a great value to me and a potential bust. But would I draft him if he falls a few rounds to me? Of course!

So with that caveat, taken however you like really, let’s go position by position offensively with my "sleepers and busts," and one can only do so with a baseline. In this case, I’m using ESPN’s standard Top 300 rankings as my point of comparison in determining how much I view someone as a sleeper or bust, and don’t take the terms literally. In general, I don’t see how a top-50 pick can be viewed as a real sleeper, so I’ve got varying degrees of sleeper- and bust-hood, if you will. Whether you agree or disagree, form your own opinions about which players you find strong and not-so-strong values, and act accordingly. And since this blog entry got really long, pitchers will have to wait for another day! Catcher

Sleeper: Yasmani Grandal, Los Angeles Dodgers He’s a walker with power and a full-time starting gig for a really good team, one that doesn’t play its home games in spacious Petco Park. It’s considerably easier to hit for power at Dodger Stadium. Grandal closed last season strong and is poised to break out. Unlike most, I regard him as just missing my top 10, and he might still get there.

Joc Pederson was also mentioned in Karabell's Top 100 sleepers. Andre Ethier was not.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ethier Decides Now Would Be A Good Time To Play The Grumpy Card

One thing about recently-departed OF Matt Kemp: the last couple of seasons, when injuries were plaguing his performance and he had fallen from MVP-caliber levels--he was able to maintain a more mature and positive attitude than may have been evident in his rookie years.

Andre Ethier, in contrast, may have regressed:

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Los Angeles Dodgers were hoping they were done with the drama that comes with having an excess of well-paid outfielders after they traded Matt Kemp to the San Diego Padres over the winter, but the storyline could linger.

Andre Ethier, who was the odd man out for most of the second half of 2014, said he would prefer to play elsewhere if there isn't an everyday job open for him on the Dodgers.

Ethier is the longest-tenured Dodgers player, having broken in with the team in 2006. The Dodgers' tentative Opening Day plans are for Carl Crawford to start in left field, rookie Joc Pederson in center and Yasiel Puig in right, with Ethier the fourth outfielder.

"You're not wishing for it ever to end, but sometimes that opportunity takes you somewhere else," Ethier said. "I'm not going to do anything to sit here and force it. Hopefully it works itself out."

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said early in the winter he would like to trade at least one and possibly two outfielders to make the Dodgers a more functional team. He sent Kemp, $32 million and catcher Tim Federowicz to the Padres for catcher Yasmani Grandal and pitcher Joe Wieland. He was unable to find a trade match for Ethier, who has three years and $55 million left on his contract.

Ethier, 32, batted .249 with four home runs and a .691 OPS in 331 at-bats last season. His production has been in decline since the 2012 season, when he had an .810 OPS and hit 20 home runs, but his playing time also has declined each of the past two seasons.

"I want the opportunity to play every day. My mind hasn't changed from when I told you guys that a couple months ago," Ethier said. "I felt like when I get a chance to play every day, I put up the numbers they ask of me. For some strange reason, it just happened that coming off a good 2012 season, in 2013 they took games away. You start to wonder why that happened. I feel like if I get a good full year in and get the at-bats, it starts to add up. It's tough when you get 300 at-bats and you're expected to hit 15 or 20 home runs."

Yeah, it's tough to know $55M is due to you for part-time work, especially when your productivity has shown significant declines.

C'mon, Andre. You were a good team player all last year. Don't botch it now with some ill-placed comments.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Berkeley Guy Having Trouble Hiring Top Analysts?

At least, that's what Ben Baumer is insinuating, reflecting on the Dodgers not being in the top tier of analytic-driven MLB teams:

At the moment, the Dodgers are the most difficult team to assess. They paid a record $35 million for new president Andrew Friedman, snatching him from the Tampa Bay Rays. The Dodgers also lured Farhan Zaidi from the A's to be general manager. Their new president-GM combo -- with Friedman a former Bear Stearns analyst and Zaidi a Berkeley economics Ph.D. -- has the talent to make the Dodgers the analytics leaders in baseball.

But under the current five-headed ownership group and CEO Stan Kasten, the Dodgers have not been a strong analytics organization. Over the past few years, the Dodgers were nearly a bottom-tier team despite canyon-deep pockets. And Dodgers fans have seen this play out badly before, when a previous ownership regime hired "Moneyball" legend Paul DePodesta as GM, then fired him after two seasons. Friedman and Zaidi have started hiring, but the group of analysts they've inherited is nowhere near the cutting edge.

That said, this rating reflects our expectations that the Dodgers' expensive new front office hires send the signal that the Dodgers are now believers and are ready to continue investing, with the potential to move up into the upper echelon quickly.

To be fair, there is no other NL West team mentioned in the top MLB tier (which comprises nine teams; only the A's and Astros represent the West (further indicating a true East-Coast bias). The Dodgers, in the second tier ("Believers"), are in that tier with the Padres.

Let's Have A Grandal Ol' Time

I'm not calling Yasmani Grandal some kind of monster. But Jim Bowden says he's one of 12 pitchers and catchers to watch in 2015 (all others are, by elimination, simply unwatchable). (link insider only)

6. Yasmani Grandal, C, Los Angeles Dodgers (development)

The Dodgers' front office made one of the more unpopular trades in recent club history this offseason when it dealt Matt Kemp, Tim Federowicz and approximately $30 million to the Padres for Grandal and two other young players. Grandal, the 12th overall pick in the 2010 draft by the Reds who was traded to the Padres in a blockbuster deal that included Mat Latos going to the Reds, got off to a fast start with the Padres in 2012, hitting .297/.394/.469 with eight home runs in only 60 games. However, a positive PED test that November got him suspended, and 28 games after returning in 2013, he suffered a knee injury on a play at the plate and was done for the season. He dealt with more knee issues last season but still managed to hit 15 home runs, albeit with just a .225 average, in 128 games.

The potential is still there; now the only question is whether he'll reach it. Being the key piece in a trade of Kemp brings high expectations, and in addition to that, he'll have to fight for playing time with one of the game's best defensive catchers in A.J. Ellis.

Knee injury is one thing. I hope he doesn't have his arm ripped off.

Blue Plate Special: Cofax

In this installment of Blue Plate Special, Mrs Cora, Mamma Cora, I visited Cofax coffee shop.  Why you ask?  Well, Coffee + Speciality Burritos + Dodger Theme = YES SIR!  Cofax is located at 440 North Fairfax Ave between Melrose and Beverly in Los Angeles (  Speaking with Adam, one of the managers, the place was started by 3 Dodger fans and while thinking about the name for the place, came up with COffee on fairFAX, leading to COFAX with the homage to Sandy.

They have an assortment of coffee selections, both hot and cold.  In addition, the kitchen makes two types of burritos, veggie and chorizo.  Being a thorough reviewer, I opted to try BOTH of them just for the sake of completeness (ah yes, the SOSG sacrifice).  Both are jammed packed with flavor goodness, but what separates these from other burritos seems to lie in the smoked tomatoes and the integrated chips which gives them both a rustic and whimsical taste.  Plus the wrapped tortilla is grilled to just the right amount of crispness so you get that satisfying crunch when biting into the burritos.  They also come with a spicy red sauce and a milder verde sauce.  I'm not much of a coffee drinker, but Mrs. and Mamma Cora said the coffee was spot on.

And, of course, the Dodger decor could not be beat, with a Dodger blue painted espresso machine, bobbleheads above the counter, and specially commissioned original art of Dodger legends, both past and present.  The Cofax logo resembles both the Dodger script on the signage and the Brooklyn Dodger logo on with window and hats.  So give a local Dodger coffee shop a try, and if you mention that you heard about them through SOSG, you will probably get a quizzical look and a "uh ok, what would you like to order."  You can also follow them on what mamma Cora likes to call "The Facebooks and Instant Grams".  Try it and let me know what you think!  Also, if you know another place with Dodger memorabilia, I will again sacrifice the stomach, put on the stretchy pants, and review it.  Enjoy and bon appetit!


Original Dodger Artwork

Commissioned For The Store

Specially Painted Dodger Blue Espresso Machine

Veggie Burrito

Chorizo Burrito + Avo

Cofax Logo Hailing The Brooklyn Dodgers

Coffee Signage in Dodger Script

One Of Many Speciality Donuts

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Your 87th Academy Awards GT

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Guess Who Reports Today, People!

The Pegasus Skeleton of La Cienega

Not sure if this is still there, but last year I passed an abandoned gas station somewhere on La Cienega and saw this street art:

Which of course is a pegasus skeleton, and perhaps a takeoff/commentary of the Mobil logo:

Here's somebody else's photo of another example:

Turns out the artist is named Skullphone. Good stuff!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Aaaaaannnnd Here We Go with the Injuries

A mere 48 hours before pitchers and catchers are to report to Spring Training, we get some bad news about bad-ass Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen, courtesy of Dodger Insider (h/t to PaulJ for being the bearer of this ill communication):
This morning at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, Dodger pitcher Kenley Jansen underwent surgery to remove a growth from a bone in his left foot. This was discovered when Kenley reported discomfort while running last week. A subsequent X-Ray, MRI and CT scan showed the problem in the 5th metatarsal of his left foot. The surgery was performed by Drs. Earl Brien and David Thordarson under the direction of Dr. Neal El Attrache.

Jansen will be on crutches for about 10 days and then a boot for 3-4 weeks. How he progresses during the rehab process will determine his return to competition, but it is expected to be approximately 8-12 weeks.
So late April/early May we get him back in some sort of availability and form. Great. Off to go eat a shit sandwich now.

Dogs, Cats Cohabitating; Dodgers, Angels Unveil Joint Billboard

From a Dodgers press release:

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim jointly unveiled a billboard today celebrating the 2014 Most Valuable Player Awards of Dodger left-handed pitcher Clayton Kershaw and Angels center fielder Mike Trout. Located on the corner of Highland and Wilshire in Los Angeles, the billboard features the faces of Kershaw and Trout with the script “Is Your MVP Red Or Blue.”

2014 represented just the 11th occurrence in the 83-year history of the BBWAA MVP awards in which players from the same market captured their league’s respective honors (see chart below). Kershaw and Trout are the first duo to accomplish the feat since the 2002 season when Oakland’s Miguel Tejada and San Francisco’s Barry Bonds were tabbed as MVPs, and it is just the third such occurrence in the last 55 years.

Beginning today, the Angels and Dodgers are inviting fans to celebrate the Los Angeles clubs sweeping the MVP awards via social media. Fans can show their support by utilizing the hashtags #MVPKersh and #MVPTrout during a six-week period leading up to the annual “Freeway Series,” which takes place at Angel Stadium April 2-3 and Dodger Stadium April 4.

Schoenfield: "Dodgers Should Coast To Division Title"

Except for the fact that coasting to a division title didn't yield postseason results; yeah, I'm excited that's David Schoenfield ranks the Dodgers second out of all 30 MLB teams (only to the Nationals):

2. Los Angeles Dodgers

Big offseason moves: Hired Andrew Friedman as president of baseball operations and Farhan Zaidi as general manager; traded OF Matt Kemp and C Tim Federowicz to the Padres for C Yasmani Grandal, RHP Joe Wieland and RHP Zach Eflin; lost SS Hanley Ramirez to free agency; signed RHP Brandon McCarthy and LHP Brett Anderson; traded 2B Dee Gordon, RHP Dan Haren and SS Miguel Rojas to the Marlins for LHP Andrew Heaney, RHP Chris Hatcher, 2B Enrique Hernandez and C Austin Barnes; traded Heaney to the Angels for 2B Howie Kendrick; acquired SS Jimmy Rollins from the Phillies; acquired RHP Joel Peralta and LHP Adam Liberatore from the Rays for RHPs Juan Dominguez and Greg Harris.

Most intriguing player: Yasiel Puig, Year 3. Is this the year he remains consistent, cleans up the mistakes, keeps the power going and becomes an MVP candidate? Or does he settle in as a very good player? Either way, we'll all be watching.

Due for a better year: Clayton Kershaw ... in the postseason. Hard to top 21-3, 1.77 with Cy Young and MVP trophies. In just 27 starts.

Due for a worse year: Juan Uribe hit .300 for the first time since he was a rookie with the Rockies in 2001 and posted a career-high .337 OBP.

I'm just the messenger: The Dodgers spent a lot of money to bring in McCarthy and Anderson as their fourth and fifth starters. They're convinced McCarthy is capable of another 30-start, 200-inning season even though that was the first time he has reached either mark in his career (previous highs: 25 starts, 170 innings). Anderson is still a talented lefty when he gets out on the mound, but he has made only 32 starts the past four seasons. There isn't a lot of depth here. Joe Wieland and Juan Nicasio could be next in line. Erik Bedard has been invited to spring training. If Kershaw or Zack Greinke suffer a long-term injury, the rotation could have issues.

The final word: It's not often you see a 94-win team get such a big makeover, but the new regime is rebuilding on the fly. The Dodgers had to clear space in the outfield for rookie center fielder Joc Pederson and they had to get better defensively up the middle. They'll have a new middle infield -- a much better defensive one with Rollins and Kendrick. In fact, all of the Dodgers' moves were done in part to improve the defense, including catcher, where Grandal is rated as a good framer. A better pitcher than analyst, Greinke didn't give rave reviews to the moves. This is a good team, one that should coast to a division title.

Prediction: 93-69

I'll take it.

(Giants ranked 11th, well out of the top 10, with Joe Panik predicted to be much worse. Padres ranked 16th, Rockies 26th, and the Diamondbacks a woeful 30th.)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Get Well Soon, Pedro Guerrero

Pedro Guerrero is in the hospital, but on the mend...

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Former Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Pedro Guerrero has been hospitalized in the Dominican Republic with bleeding on the brain, but a friend says the 1981 World Series co-MVP appears to be in good spirits and is speaking with people in the hospital.

Andres Vanerhorst, who visited Guerrero in the hospital, spoke with The Associated Press on Monday.

Guerrero, 58, was in the intensive care unit and is being treated by a neurosurgeon while undergoing further testing. He was hospitalized a day earlier, and tests detected the cranial bleeding.

Dodgers Second In Projected Wins

2015 projected wins are out, and the Dodgers are second only to the Nationals. A 2015 championship is basically in the bag:

The Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers have the highest projected season win totals, and the Philadelphia Phillies have the lowest, according to numbers posted Friday at the Atlantis sports book in Reno, Nevada.

The Nationals, who are 5-1 favorites to win the World Series at the Atlantis, top the sports book's season win total list at 93. The Dodgers, at 91, are the only other team projected to win more than 90 games.

In fact, Buster Olney is pretty confident on that total (link insider only):

Los Angeles Dodgers, 91 wins

[I]t’s easy to forget that the Dodgers won the NL West comfortably last season, winning 94 in the regular season and finishing with a six-game margin. Sure, Clayton Kershaw had two lousy starts against the Cardinals in the postseason, but he's early in what looks to be one of the best pitching careers in history, and I wrote the other day about all the strong work the Dodgers have done in bolstering the infrastructure this winter.

And remember, when you consider what’s ahead for the Dodgers -- as with the Yankees and Red Sox and other high-budget teams -- you have to factor in the midseason boost they'll get before the trade deadline. If a move is needed to make them better, they’re going to do it, and the Dodgers have the wealth and the depth of prospects to make deals that small-market and mid-market teams don’t want to do. Cole Hamels? Johnny Cueto, if the Reds are out of contention? For L.A., anything is possible. The Padres should be better than last year, but the Dodgers have a really, really deep roster, and they’ve got Kershaw and Zack Greinke at the front of their rotation.

Start booking those World Series accommodations now!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Softball Registration Is Live

Click here to register. Event is Saturday, April 11, at Big League Dreams in West Covina. Proceeds benefit the Los Angeles Mission. All players get a bitchin' SoSG T-shirt!

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Super Bowl XLIX Thread

A mockup of next year's Super Bowl logo. SUPER BOWLL! Can't wait.

deflated balls photo by Rick Osentoski/AP