Tag:Los Angeles Dodgers
Posted on: May 7, 2009 12:51 pm
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Manny Ramirez suspended for 50 games

Manny Ramirez has stepped into a lot of history books lately, but Thursday he stepped into the wrong one: Biggest name to be put on ice for 50 games after failing a performance-enhancing drug test since baseball got religion about steroids.

That sort of takes the edge off of the Los Angeles Dodgers' record 13-0 home start, doesn't it?

Ah, dreadlocks!

Baseball never caught up to Barry Bonds. Sammy Sosa disappeared. Mark McGwire melted into a puddle in front of Congress. Alex Rodriguez actually did fail a PED test, but that was before it resulted in suspensions. And baseball never outed him, that information was leaked.

This, this is 100 percent, prime-time, major-league baseball driven. And it does two things:

1. Whatever you've thought of baseball's testing program, Ramirez's suspension Thursday adds credibility to it. Loads. Because this side of A-Rod or, perhaps, Albert Pujols, there is no bigger fish in the game. For baseball to whack an impact player like Manny, Lordy, Lordy. The reverberations will be felt deep into the corners of every clubhouse in the game.

2. It hollows out Ramirez's numbers because, until now, and especially lately after his run last year, all conversation surrounding Ramirez has included the phrase "one of the greatest hitters of all-time." Really? Maybe. If you can get past the new stain.

Somewhere, A-Rod no doubt is smiling, at least a little, in anticipation of his pot being turned down to simmer from full boil.

Over in Mannywood, this blow is devastating to the Dodgers. Barely a month into the season, there already are signs all over the place that this was shaping up to be a special summer. The home start, the best record in baseball, the 6 1/2-game lead over San Francisco in the NL West.

But now, instead of turning the divisional race into a blowout and storming toward their first World Series since 1988, the emergency brake has been yanked on the Dodgers. They'll have to muddle through without Manny for nearly a third of the season. Without an appeal and assuming the suspension begins tonight against Washington, if my math is right, Manny won't be eligible again until July 3.

The glee in Boston already is deafening. Though now we must play the game of "How long has Manny been on the juice?" and you figure that this all didn't just start yesterday. Does it compromise what he did in Fenway (and, consequently, the two World Series the Red Sox won with him)? Does it date back to Cleveland?

All we know for sure is, the game suffered another cataclysmic earthquake on Thursday. Manny, dreadlocks and all, will never be viewed the same again.

And regarding the Dodgers' 13-0 home start: Turns out, that is one heckuva unlucky number, isn't it?

Posted on: May 3, 2009 3:15 pm
Edited on: May 3, 2009 3:19 pm
 

Manny not in Dodgers' lineup Sunday

LOS ANGELES -- It will be a Sunday afternoon off for the Los Angeles Dodgers' Manny Ramirez, at least to start. Manager Joe Torre said Ramirez is not in this afternoon's lineup against San Diego because of tightness in his hamstring.

"I was hoping we could wait until Monday or Tuesday to give him a day off , but we'll have four guys off today," said Torre, who also is sitting leadoff man Rafael Furcal, catcher Russell Martin and third baseman Casey Blake as the Dodgers look to extend their home record to 10-0.

Of Ramirez, Torre quipped: "I knew he was moving a little slower, but I chose to ignore that."

Ramirez has played in 24 of the Dodgers' first 25 games and has five home runs and 15 RBI. He is hitting .349 with a .495 on-base percentage. Torre did not say which hamstring his tight.

"What I've got to do is find a formula to space this stuff out," Torre said of a planned rotation to rest some of his veteran players.

Ramirez was expected to be available to pinch-hit if need be Sunday. He also is expected to return to the lineup Monday when the Dodgers open a two-game series against Arizona.

Posted on: May 1, 2009 6:44 pm
 

Dodgers-Giants best rivalry? E-Forbes

I about choked on my Quaker Oatmeal Squares this morning when I saw that Forbes magazine picked the Los Angeles Dodgers-San Francisco Giants as baseball's best rivalry.

What are those guys, high on Red Bull? Stricken with the swine flu? No wonder the economy is tanking if this is the way they go about their coverage.

There is no way the Dodgers and Giants are anywhere close to the game's best rivalry. Not anymore. Trust me, I thought about it often this winter as Manny Ramirez sat on the free agent market like dinner  equidistant between two sloths.

If Giants ownership was intent on winning, they would have zeroed in on Manny for two reasons.

One, because they ranked last in the majors in homers last year and power is a clear need.

Two, because not only would Ramirez have strengthened their own lineup, it would have seriously wounded the Dodgers'.

Meantime, if Dodgers ownership was hell-bent on winning, they wouldn't have risked Ramirez landing with the Giants.

As things turned out, the Dodgers played it perfectly. They not only landed Manny, but they did so with a deal (one year, $25 million) that won't hurt them in the future. (Had the Giants at least made more than a few inquiries, by the way, they also could have drawn Dodgers' blood by driving Ramirez's price up).

So hurray for the Dodgers, and because of it, the only way they're going to miss the playoffs is if vice-president Joe Biden causes such a swine flu panic that Bud Selig cancels another postseason.

Yes, the Giants' $83 million payroll is very respectable, ranking 13th in the game in 2009. And yes, they've got a bunch of debt to pay down on AT&T Park, and they've done a very admirable job of being responsible with their finances (the Barry Zito contract notwithstanding).

But when you're talking baseball's best rivalry, you have got to go with two clubs that keep the pedal to the metal all the time. Two clubs that will do anything to win -- in the summer and in the winter.

And right now, that's still Yankees-Red Sox. They go at it for a ludicrous number of hours each time they play, they've met in October three times since 1999 and they spent each winter thumping each other over the head with their wallets.

I'm tired of the excessive hype. And unless you live and die with the Yankees or Red Sox, I bet you are, too. But that's a rivalry. Comparatively speaking, the Giants-Dodgers is recess at the local elementary school.

I know Forbes compiled its list by crunching some numbers ("we looked at every season since 1950 and tabulated how many times the two clubs had finished first and second in their division and how often they'd finished the season within five games of one another. Weighted equally with those two stats in our methodology is how much the meetings matter to fans -- in other words, how much extra money people are willing to pay for a ticket").

What I also know is, if Giants-Dodgers is what their numbers spit out, then it's a bunch of hooey. Because these aren't the days of Giants pitcher Juan Marichal clubbing Dodgers catcher John Roseboro with a bat.

The top current modern rivalries (not counting Interleague play)?

Here you go. And I guarantee this is more accurate than the folks who obviously have been drinking buttermilk long after its expiration date at Forbes:

1. Yankees-Red Sox. In a league of their own -- and yes, it's run by U.S. Mint, not Tom Hanks.

2. Cubs-Cardinals. The fact that the Cubs can't get to the World Series only enhances it. Besides, these are two of the top four or five baseball towns in the land.

3. Mets-Phillies. They hate each other.

4. Dodgers-Giants. Their fans don't like each other, but it's not hate. It's more in the way they prefer to not eat moldy sourdough.

5. Red Sox-Angels. Both stadiums are full when they play, no doubt because they've met in three of the past five Octobers.

6. White Sox-Twins. The proximity of the two teams, the fact that they both regularly contend in the AL Central, Ozzie Guillen's mouth, A.J. Pierzynski's act, the mutual admiration between Guillen and Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire, the fact that the Twins channel Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction and refuse to go away. ...

Likes: Joe Mauer back on the field in Minnesota. ... Mark Buehrle of the White Sox on the mound. ... They're doing a very, very nice job over at the MLB Network. If you haven't watched yet, you should. And if you can't find it among your 200 channels, if you've got cable -- no matter the provider -- you have the MLB Network. You just need to find it. ... Ghosts of Girlfriends Past looks like a swell idea for a film.

Dislikes: Had to hit the television mute button watching actress Denise Richards sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the seventh-inning stretch of Friday's Cubs-Florida game. Wow, was that bad (and I speak as someone who can't carry a tune in a bucket, to I can both identify and sympathize). But in the booth with Len Kasper and Bob Brenly, she seemed like a very pleasant and intelligent gal.
 
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Young girls
"They've taken husbands, every one
"Young men
"They're all in uniform
"Soldiers
"They've gone to graveyards, every one
"They're covered with flowers, every one
"Flowers
"Young girls have picked them, every one"

-- Pete Seeger, Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

Posted on: April 7, 2009 12:00 am
 

New year, and Dodgers loaded

It's a miniscule sample size, but the snapshot following game one of 162 for the Los Angeles Dodgers is that they should have the best lineup in the NL West this season and, possibly, as good as there is in the National League.

Against San Diego ace Jake Peavy, the first inning played out perfectly. Leadoff man Rafael Furcal punched a single, and second baseman Orlando Furcal followed with another.

So Peavy was staring at two speedsters aboard, none out and Ramirez at the plate.

"That's what we're hoping for at the top of the lineup," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "That they can make the pitchers pitch to Manny.

"Manny didn't get any hits today. But I believe his presence is important."

No kidding. Ramirez didn't do any damage in the inning, popping to center. But two batters later, with two out and Russell Martin at the plate, Furcal and Hudson took off, successfully completing a double steal.

After Martin walked, Loney cracked a two-run single. The Dodgers never came close to trailing after that.

Peavy was impressed, not only with a deep Dodgers lineup in which the six-seven-eight hitters are James Loney, Matt Kemp and Casey Blake, but with the one-two punch of Furcal and Hudson at the top.

"Both can run," Peavy said. "Both are switch-hitters, table-setters, All-Stars. They can run, they can hit-and-run, they can get on base and steal. They can run around the bases, and when you've got Manny up there. ..."

Trouble.

It's a miniscule sample size, but if the Dodgers get some pitching, and if Furcal avoids further back trouble and they stay away from key injuries, then these Dodgers are going to be extremely dangerous.

Likes: Day baseball at this time of year. Nice to watch the Mets-Reds before heading to the park later Monday. And nice to listen to Thom Brennaman and Jeff Brantley on XM radio. I'll tell you, though, when they started talking about Montgomery Inn, it made me wish I was in Cincinnati for opening day this year. Might be the best ribs in America right there. ... Writing out the first lineups of the year on my scoresheets. ... 75 degrees at game-time in San Diego on Monday. ... Spring break. Nice to have my daughter home from school. ... Cruising through the park on my daily run and seeing the rabbits out. Ah, spring. ... My wife's homemade pizza on Saturday night as the NCAA semi-final games were going. I may be one of the more boring guys around, but I'll tell you what: It's still really hard to find a more enjoyable evening than a good ballgame on television at home with pizza.

Dislikes: Longtime New York Times baseball columnist and buddy Jack Curry getting hit by a car while in Philadelphia on Sunday for the Phillies-Braves opener. Thank God he escaped with "only" badly bruised ribs and several scrapes. Get well soon, Jack. ... Ichiro out with an ulcer. ... San Diego's crack media relations gal, Leah Tobin, leaving for a job with the Red Sox. Don't get me wrong, good for Leah and great move for the Red Sox. Personally speaking, I'll miss her. She's good. Congratulations, Leah. ... Michigan State getting clocked in the NCAA title game. And, worse, a lopsided title game.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

With respect and eternal admiration to Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell, who regularly ushered in the new season in his first spring broadcast each year with this:

"For, lo, the winter is past
"The rain is over and gone
"The flowers appear on the earth
"The time of the singing of birds is come
"And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land"

-- Song of Solomon, Solomon 2:11-12.
 

 

Posted on: March 17, 2009 7:23 pm
Edited on: March 17, 2009 7:27 pm
 

Dodgers' fifth starter: Staff?

 PHOENIX -- With Manny Ramirez, Orlando Hudson and Rafael Furcal in uniform, the Los Angeles Dodgers project perhaps the most versatile and deepest lineup in the National League.

But the race for the Dodgers' fifth starter slot is going nowhere fast.

With less than three weeks remaining in camp and six or more candidates in line following Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Hiroki Kuroda and Randy Wolf, none of them is stepping up.

"You don't ever necessarily eliminate the fact that you may have to do something you didn’t plan," manager Joe Torre said at the club's Camelback Ranch complex here Tuesday.

The list of candidates, in no particular order: Veterans Eric Milton, Shawn Estes, Claudio Vargas and Jeff Weaver and youngster James McDonald. Torre essentially eliminated veteran Jason Schmidt the other day when he said that because of Schmidt's physical issues, he wouldn't have enough time to be ready for opening day.

McDonald is intriguing because he's young and promising, though he's surrendered four earned runs in 7 2/3 innings. He entered camp as probably the longest shot and, aside from Weaver, has pitched the least amount of innings in the group.

"McDonald, first off, has to make the club," Torre said. "I'm not questioning his ability. The thing I have to question is, is he going to get enough work here to have it make sense?

"We think highly of him. He handled the heat last postseason."

Milton, who didn't pitch last season after undergoing Tommy John ligament replacement surgery in 2007 (and he only had six starts that season), appears strong and healthy this spring and, if you're looking for a clubhouse favorite to win the job, it might be him.

"There are things I like about all of the guys," Torre said. "I have a little history with him even though it's not at the major-league level. I had him in spring training before before we traded him in the (Chuck) Knoblauch deal, and you could see him mature. I have first-hand knowledge of him."

The maturity and the fact that Milton, at 33, has 10 seasons in the majors counts for something with Torre.

"The thing you don't want to have happen is a starter, say, all of a sudden saying, 'I'm in the big leagues.' You want someone who will keep his wits about him.

"Eric is not going to be the kind of pitcher who beats himself. He may get beat, but it's not going to be because he was overwhelmed by the situation."

The Dodgers need a fifth starter right out of the gate this season because they open with eight consecutive games.

Likes: Corey Koskie returning to the game as a non-roster player in Chicago. He played third for the Cubs on Tuesday. ... Carlos Zambrano drilling a homer and a double against the Dodgers. Who needs the designated hitter? It can be wildly entertaining watching a pitcher bat who actually works to contribute offensively. ... The Cubs and Dodgers each wearing green caps on St. Paddy's Day. Painting the bases green, red and white to resemble the Irish flag was a bit extreme, though. ... The black pepper and garlic encrusted scallops at Richardson's Cuisine of New Mexico were outstanding the other night. ... The corned beef for lunch on Tuesday. The best thing about St. Patrick's Day (yes, far better than the green beer).

Dislikes: The shuttering of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Dammit, some more really good and dedicated people cast aside.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"So I bought me a ticket
"I caught a plane to Spain
"Went to a party down a red dirt road
"There were lots of pretty people there
"Reading Rolling Stone, reading Vogue
"They said, 'How long can you hang around?'
"I said 'a week, maybe two'
"Just until my skin turns brown
"Then I'm going home to California"

-- Joni Mitchell, California

 

 

 

 

Posted on: March 3, 2009 11:06 pm
 

Dodgers, Manny continue talking


Slugger Manny Ramirez and the Los Angeles Dodgers have long since reached the point where they either have a deal or they don't.

Forget "close." You can't get much closer than they did last week without actually finalizing a contract.

"No deal," Scott Boras, the agent for Ramirez, wrote in an e-mail to CBSSports.com on Tuesday night. "Talking with the Dodgers daily."

But in the strongest indication yet that Ramirez is ready to splash down and again make Mannywood of Hollywood, the slugger is flying to Los Angeles ready to make a deal. He is expected to be there by Wednesday, available to meet with the Dodgers in person.

"... I think we're close (to a deal)," Ramirez told columnist T.J. Simers in Tuesday morning's Los Angeles Times. "... Tell everyone that Mannywood is coming."

The two sides essentially reached the framework for a two-year, $45 million deal last week, only to see it fall apart over how much money would be deferred. Ramirez was to receive $25 million in the first year and $20 million in the second, with an opt-out clause.

The two sides were around $1.5 million apart last week when Dodgers owner Frank McCourt emotionally declared that the Dodgers were pulling their offer and that the negotiations would have to begin from scratch.

Instead, the two sides continued talking. And late Tuesday night, it was extraordinarily clear that there would be no "starting from scratch." The Dodgers -- and Manny -- had picked up where they left off.

 

Posted on: February 26, 2009 1:44 pm
 

Manny: Modern-day holdout


At this point, what we're seeing with Manny Ramirez simply is a modern-day holdout.

Remember the classic "holdout"? A guy would be unhappy with his contract so he would stay away from spring training for several days (or weeks)?

Oh, I know Manny doesn't have a contract, so he's not technically a "holdout." But at this point it's essentially the same thing.

Everyone in baseball is expecting him to sign with the Dodgers. It's reached the point where it's barely news. The only way it will be a big story at this point is if he signs with someone other than the Dodgers. The lack of interest across the board is astounding -- and, given his past behavior, deserved.

Ramirez often reported to Boston's camp a few days after he was expected. He's not overly fond of spring training, anyway, and this spring contains an extra week because of the World Baseball Classic. There is no urgency.

It's a holdout, pure and simple. He must make his point that he's not at all happy that the Dodgers and others didn't rush that four- or five-year, $100-million-plus deal toward him.

The most famous holdout in Dodgers history was a double holdout: In 1966, unhappy with their contracts, Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale stayed out of camp together for 32 days. The disagreement finally ended when on March 30 that spring, Koufax signed for $130,000 and Drysdale signed for $105,000.

Unlike Ramirez, both Koufax and Drysdale were property of the Dodgers during their contract spat. Ramirez is a free agent, but one without many landing places.

So the Dodgers continue to wait, and Manny waits. Indications are that it will be over with soon -- agent Scott Boras reportedly suggested a 2010 player option, which is a signal that Ramirez's side is getting close to serious negotiating.

Most likely, this modern-day holdout will be finished soon.

Then everyone can yawn, Manny can go back to being Manny, and the Dodgers can stop answering questions about him.

 

 

Posted on: December 17, 2008 7:14 pm
Edited on: December 17, 2008 9:21 pm
 

Angry Braves move on from Furcal

On the first day of Christmas, Atlanta failed to land Jake Peavy.

On the second day of Christmas, the Braves missed on A.J. Burnett.

On the third day of Christmas, Atlanta lost out on shortstop Rafael Furcal.

They haven't even gotten to the swans a-swimming or maids a-milking part. The Grinch is having a better holiday season than these guys.

Furcal agreed to return to the Dodgers on Wednesday? Really? After the Braves on Tuesday clearly believed they had an agreement-in-principle with Furcal's people?

Since when did an economy in tatters cause a decline in the value of agents' words?

Wait. Don't answer that (unless you've got a really witty one-liner). Paul Kinzer has some explaining to do. What does he use for negotiations, toilet paper?

"My take is, it's very difficult to do business in this game when you don't have confidence in the other people you're dealing with," Atlanta general manager Frank Wren said. "A deal's a deal.

"After reaching an agreement on all of the different terms Monday night, we were asked to give them a term sheet. We delivered on Tuesday morning a signed term sheet by fax, at their request.

"I've been in the game for 30-some years, and when you're done with a deal you do a term sheet. I can't imagine how we could have (misunderstood) anything."

Paul Kinzer, Furcal's agent, did not respond to multiple voice-mail messages left on Wednesday. Earlier in the day in New York, Kinzer disputed the notion that Furcal and the Braves had a "verbal agreement."

Among the things you expect to see in this game is incompetence from the Padres, penny-pinching from the Twins and general malaise from the Pirates.

You don't expect one of baseball's proudest franchises to become embroiled in some of the winter's most soapiest of stories.

Flush with more cash than they've had in years, the Braves came into this off-season both with a plan and élan. Granted, this is baseball in the crazy-money era, so nothing ever works out exactly like you draw it up.

Still, how difficult could it be to land two starting pitchers and maybe improve their offense?

In Atlanta, the answer has been Advil-inducing.

The Braves went from scheduling a physical examination Wednesday so Furcal's contract could be completed to watching the Dodgers cut in on their dance.

Things were set. At least, they were on Monday night, in Atlanta's view. The Braves had offered three years for $30 million, with a vesting option for a fourth year. Furcal would play second base in 2009 and lead off. Yunel Escobar would remain at shortstop. Kelly Johnson would move to left field.

"We looked at our club (envisioning) different scenarios," Wren said. "Not necessarily with a power outfield bat. We thought if we landed a dynamic leadoff hitter like Furcal, it would change our offensive club in a different way.

"We would have improved our overall team speed and if we moved Kelly Johnson to left field, which he was amenable to doing, we would be keeping a solid offensive player with speed. We would have improved the club in two different areas."

Instead, by Wednesday, Furcal's people -- he's represented by Kinzer and Arn Tellem -- were engaged in serious discussions with the Dodgers.

Wren said late in the day Wednesday that the Braves still hadn't been told by Furcal's people that they would not accept Atlanta's offer, but "we've pretty much turned the page," Wren said. "I think it would be difficult at this point to re-engage them."

Or, how about, re-engage them on anybody, ever again? The Braves believe that part of the issue is that Kinzer was negotiating with them and Tellem, who is based in Los Angeles, was talking to the Dodgers. There were folks in baseball Wednesday night suggesting that the Braves may never sign a Tellem/Kinzer player again.

So, to review, Atlanta spent six weeks and two days negotiating a Peavy trade in October and November. The Braves thought they were moving close to a deal, but the Padres kept changing names on them.

They thought they had a deal with Furcal, only to have that blow up amid what appear to be highly questionable -- and likely unethical -- circumstances.

"It makes it difficult to do your business when a lot of times in this game you're dealing with people who either won't make a deal or can't make a deal," Wren said.

They did acquire starting pitcher Javier Vazquez from the White Sox earlier early this month.

"Thank goodness for Kenny Williams," Wren quipped, referring to Chicago's GM.

Oh, and they lost out on Burnett after offering a reported five years and $80 million. The Yankees offered five years and $82 million.

At least the dealing on that one was straight forward.

"That was geography," Wren said. "We just weren't close enough to his Maryland home for him and his family. We had all of the other ingredients. Logistically, it just didn't work for his family."

So now the Braves move forward, still searching for another starting pitcher and more team speed.

"We're not done yet," Wren said. "We started right back up again today, making calls, talking to clubs, talking to free agents. ...

"You learn in this game, you have disappointments, things happen on a daily basis. During the season, you wake up in the morning and immediately have to start getting ready for your next game. Now, you get up in the morning and get ready for your next challenge."


 
 
 
 
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