Tag:Los Angeles Dodgers
Posted on: April 5, 2010 2:07 pm
This is why the groans in Los Angeles:
The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in the first in Pittsurgh. Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, rocking and rolling just like last year.
Bottom of the first, Padilla gives it right back. He left a belt-high fastball over the plate to the always dangerous Garrett Jones, who promptly deposited it into the Allegheny River for a two-run, game-tying homer.
Padilla knew it immediately, jerking his head down in disgust and making a waving, snapping motion with his arm.
See, the difference between an ace and others is that an ace specializes in slamming the door in innings after his team scores to give him a lead. Granted, it doesn't always happen that way. But it does more often than not.
Maybe Padilla winds up slamming the door more often than not as 2010 rolls along.
But he didn't in the first inning on opening day, and first impressions are, that's only going to reinforce the questions surrounding the Dodgers' sketchy rotation.
Posted on: March 25, 2010 4:19 pm
Edited on: March 25, 2010 4:43 pm
As Dodgers manager Joe Torre was saying here in the desert Thursday morning, somebody has to start in Pittsburgh on April 5.
Think I'm being sarcastic here? I'm not.
"We just had to pick someone, and he's the one," Torre said. "Am I saying he's better than the other guys? I can't do that. We decided to line them up that way.
"The fact is, we don't have a No. 1. We have four guys who have pitched important games for us."
That pretty much says it all. The Dodgers are waiting for Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw to step up. Each has No. 1 stuff. But both are still maturing and growing. Padilla will be followed in the rotation by Kershaw, then Billingsley, and then Hiroki Kuroda.
The Dodgers' fifth starter remains unnamed. Veteran Russ Ortiz has moved into position to win that job over the final 10 days or so of the spring. Journeyman Ramon Ortiz also is vying for the slot, as are knuckleballer Charlie Haeger, former Blue Jay Josh Towers, Justin Miller and Eric Sults.
As for Padilla, the Dodgers signed him as a minor-league free agent last August after the Rangers essentially booted him off the team. He went 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA over eight games (seven starts) for the Dodgers down the stretch.
While he threw seven shutout innings against St. Louis in the playoffs last October, he was 0-1 with a 6.10 ERA in two NLCS starts against the Phillies.
Torre said that Padilla's playoff work factored into the decision some, but, basically, "we have four guys and you can put their name in a hat."
Sunblock Day? Rocking now in Arizona: High 70s, 80s this weekend.
Likes: Phil Hughes as the Yankees fifth starter. Vicente Padilla as the Dodgers opening day starter. Love the time in the spring when we're close enough to Opening Day that decisions start rolling in. ... Doug Mientkiewicz's grit. The veteran is in Dodgers' camp trying to win a job. His shoulder is much better following last year's surgery. Don't know if he's going to make it in LA, but maybe somewhere. ... Dodger legend Don Newcombe addressing the team before Thursday's practice. ... The bunting contest the Giants had scheduled for Thursday morning, a handful of pitchers vs. a handful of position players. ... Tina Fey on David Letterman Wednesday night. Date Night looks like it's got possibilities. ... Four more days of NCAA tourney action. Go Butler, go Michigan State and go Cornell.
Dislikes: Glad to see baseball remove the silly off day from the middle of the League Championship Series, which probably will force teams to use four starters throughout (as opposed to the way the Yankees were able to take advantage of off days and breeze through the entire postseason with just three starting pitchers last fall). But there's still too much time between the LCS and World Series, and this does nothing to move the World Series up and prevent it from being played in November. A very inauspicious start by Commissioner Bud Selig's special committee for on-field matters. ... Dwight Gooden's ongoing saga. Driving under the influence of drugs, leaving the scene of an accident, and all with a child in the car. That's pathetic. ... The fact that in this blog the other day I referred to the movie Ghost Writer as Ghost Rider. I know it's Ghost Writer. As in, someone who writes a book for someone else in that someone else's voice. Ugh. Obviously I need more spring training. Still not quite in mid-season form.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"I still love Tom Petty songs
-- Gaslight Anthem, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
Posted on: March 3, 2010 4:33 pm
SARASOTA, Fla. -- The changing spring training landscape is presenting some clubs with scheduling dilemmas, not the least of which is teams which already face divisional rivals 18 or 19 times a summer because of the unbalanced schedule facing those clubs even more in the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues.
In Florida, with Baltimore having moved to the Gulf Coast side (Sarasota) from Fort Lauderdale, all five AL East clubs are within a two-hour drive of each other. Tampa Bay is just down the road in Port Charlotte, the Red Sox are a little further down the road in Fort Myers and the Yankees and Blue Jays not far north in the Tampa area.
Result: Tampa Bay is scheduled to play AL East foes in 16 of 31 Grapefruit League games. The Orioles play AL East rivals in 15 of 32 games. And so on.
The Dodgers' move to the Cactus League last spring made for more NL West spring matchups. In Vero Beach, Fla., the Dodgers didn't see any of their NL West rivals all spring. This year, Los Angeles plays NL West opponents in eight of 28 Cactus League games.
Aside from the simple fact that you get bored playing the same teams over and over, are there advantages to seeing divisional rivals so often in the spring? Disadvantages?
"There are two schools of thought on that," Baltimore president and general manager Andy MacPhail says. "One, is that you need to hide, or camouflage, what you have. The other is that what you're afraid of letting your opponent see, you get the same benefit with your opponent.
"There's probably some validity to both points of view."
The Yankees, for example, could pitch Joba Chamberlain in a 'B' game one day this spring rather than against Boston, thus not allowing Red Sox hitters the luxury of seeing Joba until the meaningful games begin. Or they could shuttle Joba into a minor-league game.
There was the spring in Arizona several years ago when Curt Schilling did just that, facing either the White Sox in each of his spring starts or the Diamondbacks minor-leaguers. His preference was to not reveal anything to the Rockies, Giants or Padres until he had to.
Meantime, the defections of the Orioles and Dodgers from Florida's East Coast has made the Cardinals and Marlins (Jupiter) and Mets (Port St. Lucie) adjust travel plans. That trio must play each other more often, and make a couple of extra trips north to face the Nationals (Viera).
It's that, or hike clear across the state, or way up to the Orlando area.
Sunblock Day? Technically, because the sun is out. But the game-time temp for Baltimore's first-ever game here in Sarasota today was 54 degrees, with a howling wind making it feel like high 40s or low 50s.
Likes: Thanks to Johnny Damon for playing along when I hit him with this quiz on Detroit and Michigan the other day. Not everybody would have been such a good sport. ... Thanks also to the Jefferson High School track team in Tampa, which graciously shared its facilities with me the other afternoon when I actually got outside for one of my few outdoor runs over the past couple of weeks in this chilly state. Jefferson, by the way, is the alma mater of Tony La Russa and Tino Martinez. ... Great line in Baseball Prospectus in comparing the struggles of the Orioles, Expos and Brewers in its 2010 edition: "The Expos were a ward of the state, while the Brewers were a ward of the Selig family, and in both cases, the clubs were the baseball equivalent of inmates in dire Dickensian orphanages." ... In the tweet world, it will be hard to top one of Dave O'Brien's from several days ago. O'Brien, who does a great job covering the Braves for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, tweeted something about closer Billy Wagner's "flannel shirt." Only he dropped the "r" in shirt. Fairly soon after came another tweet from O'Brien, explaining that's what happens sometimes when you're trying to work the keyboard on a cell phone.
Dislikes: Jay McGwire. What a sleaze. Can you get any lower than writing a book to cash in on your brother's name? Jay and Mark apparently are estranged. This oughta keep them that way. ... Watched the monologue of Jay Leno's return to late night Monday. It was even lamer than his monologues used to be. David Letterman remains the king in my book, and Conan O'Brien got jobbed.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"The senioritas don't care-o
-- Zac Brown Band, Toes
Posted on: October 16, 2009 11:09 pm
LOS ANGELES -- As the Phillies headed back to Philadelphia following a tough 2-1 loss here in Game 2, they dragged a very troubling question with them:
What in the world is going on with second baseman Chase Utley?
He air-mailed a relay throw past Ryan Howard in Game 2 Friday on what would have been an important eighth-inning double play.
And a night earlier, he heaved another relay throw over Howard's head and into the Phillies' dugout that helped keep alive the Dodgers' three-run fifth inning.
"Utley is probably one of the most fundamentally sound players I've ever seen," Dodgers' pinch-hitter Jim Thome, a former teammate of Utley's, said following Game 2. "Him and Omar Vizquel, and you can't forget about Roberto Alomar. He's in there too. Utley is a very sound player."
Which is what make his two spectacularly off-target throws so inexplicable.
"He's a great player, obviously," Phillies reliever Ryan Madson said. "That's the human nature part of it."
Utley now has two errors in two NLCS games after committing only 12 over 156 regular season games this year.
In Game 1, Utley threw away a relay after taking a quick flip from shortstop Jimmy Rollins. He appeared to lose the handle on the ball as he threw. Rollins, after watching the replay following the game, said he didn't think Rafael Furcal was close enough to the bag to where his slide would have bothered Utley.
In Game 2, third baseman Pedro Feliz started what looked like it was going to be a quick 5-4-3 twin killing, with Utley receiving the throw from Feliz but heaving it to the Phils' dugout instead. That time, it appeared as if Ronnie Belliard's slide might have had something to do with Utley's too-quick release.
"Chase is better than that," manager Charlie Manuel said. "Those mistakes that you make like that, that happens sometimes. ... I know it plays a part in a game, and so does he.
"But at the same time, I've got a lot of faith in him. If there's one guy in the world that will work on it and correct it, it's Chase Utley."
Dodgers manager Joe Torre, too, thought Belliard's slide may have had something to do with Utley's Game 2 error.
"Errors are part of the game, and strikeouts and all that stuff," Torre said. "I mean, I'd certainly like to have his problems. He's pretty damned special."
Likes: Pedro Martinez and Vicente Padilla were such a pleasure to watch Friday afternoon. Martinez, especially, simply because he's such a different pitcher now. Where he once threw pure gas in the mid-to-upper 90s, he was lucky if his fastball touched 90 all afternoon. He mixed in mid-to-upper 80s fastballs, 87 m.p.h. changeups and some slow curves. "I'm tricking 'em," was how Martinez described his success. ... Can't blame Phillies coach Davey Lopes for declining to participate in the ceremonial first pitch ceremony before Game 1 when the Dodgers dragged out their famous infield from the 1970s -- Steve Garvey, Bill Russell and Ron Cey. Lopes was invited but, ever competitive, wasn't having any of it. Good call, Davey. ... Excellent work by the Falcons of Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central High in shutting out Jefferson 21-0 on Friday night to clinch another Huron League football championship. Catholic Central, hats off to thee, to your colors. ... ah, who am I fooling. I can't sing.
Dislikes: Poor Chase Utley.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Is there nothing that I can say
-- Genesis, Throwing It All Away
Posted on: October 15, 2009 7:25 pm
Edited on: October 15, 2009 10:15 pm
LOS ANGELES -- Who gets Tommy Lasorda in the Frank and Jamie McCourt split?
Los Angeles is buzzing about the bust-up of the Dodger owners, who were named as the area's "Power Couple of the Year" in 2008 by the Los Angeles Business Journal.
Though the timing of the public confirmation was inconvenient, to say the least, with the Dodgers set to open the NL Championship Series against the Phillies, those connected with the Dodgers have known for much of the summer that there's been trouble in paradise for the McCourts.
So as far as any immediate distractions, forget it. The only thing that's changed for the Dodgers is that knowledge of the McCourt's separation now has extended beyond the inner circle.
"It's a very private thing, and I respect that. ... It's not going to affect anything we do," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "My players and myself, we have a job to do, and whatever is going on there is certainly not going to affect what we do here. As I say, it's unfortunate and I feel badly, but it's one of those things that happen in life."
"I've experienced no difference in how we do our business," general manager Ned Colletti said. "On a personal level, I'm saddened by it."
No divorce papers have been filed, so it's premature to know for sure what it going to happen. But California is a community property state, meaning, couple split their assets 50-50 in divorces. That simple fact alone seems to spell big trouble ahead for the Dodgers -- just as it did for the Padres -- unless the McCourts reconcile.
Because if they don't, sources say neither one likely is financially liquid enough to buy out the other one.
Meantime, though Frank McCourt's lawyer told the Los Angeles Times that Frank is the sole owner of the Dodgers, that seems disingenuous because if the couple divorces, Jamie would be entitled to 50 percent of all assets failing a pre-nuptial agreement.
"Speculation about a potential sale of the team is rubbish," Grossman told the Los Angeles Times. "Frank McCourt is the sole owner. He has absolutely no intention of selling this team now or ever."
Aside from the sole owner stuff, he has no intention of selling the team ... ever? Ever? Really?
Colletti could be most immediately affected by the split because his contract is up after next season and, after building the team that finished with the best record in the NL this season -- 95 wins -- he should be in line for a multi-year extension.
Now, who knows?
"I'm fine," Colletti said when asked about the contract issue before Game 1 here Thursday. "I'll always be fine. I'll be wherever I'm supposed to be."
Colletti maintained that whatever is going on with ownership, Los Angeles is still the place he wants to be.
"I've made it known that I'd like to stay," he said. "We've had four good years here as a group. We've been to the postseason three times. We have the best record in the National League today. We struggled with Manny [Ramirez] being gone for 50 days.
"We have an investment here in time, energy and effort. Not just me -- everyone."
Likes: Philadelphia making its pitching up as it goes along. ... Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy writing the other day of Boston's Game 3 loss to the Angels that, before that day, closer Jonathan Papelbon's ERA was the same as John Blutarsky's grade-point average: 0.00. Fabulous line. ... A new Nick Hornby book to read: Juliet, Naked. Always a good thing when Hornby writes a new book. High Fidelity and About a Boy remain among my favorites. ... Great morning run Thursday morning around the Rose Bowl and through Pasadena's Arroyo Seco. Terrific.
Dislikes: Sure wish legendary Philadelphia broadcaster Harry Kalas were with us at this NL Championship Series. ... No sellout in Los Angeles?
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"We'd been living together for a million years
-- Greg Kihn Band, The Breakup Song
Posted on: October 14, 2009 10:36 pm
LOS ANGELES -- Though he no longer carries the Dodger lineup on his back like he did last year, all eyes will remain on Manny Ramirez when Game 1 begins Thursday simply because of memories of how the Phillies treated him in last year's NLCS.
Ramirez isn't the same hitter now as he was then -- he hit just .255 with 10 homers and 34 RBI after the All-Star break this year -- but that doesn't mean the Phillies will treat him more lightly.
Nobody knows Ramirez better than Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel, who became a father-figure to Manny during their years together in Cleveland in the 1990s (Manny as hitting savant, Manuel as the club's hitting coach).
And from the opposing dugout, Manuel always has believed that the most effective way to pitch Ramirez is to "move him around" in the box.
Doesn't necessarily mean drill him.
But it does mean pitch him tight inside, perhaps uncomfortably inside, certainly enough to make him move his feet and back away from the plate.
That Manny isn't the force he was a year ago was evident during Wednesday's workouts in Dodger Stadium. At his formal press briefing, Manuel wasn't asked one question about Ramirez.
The Dodgers, though, spent plenty of time answering questions on the importance for their pitchers to work both sides of the plate -- even though they essentially broadcast their main answer nationally when they unveiled their rotation and Chad Billingsley wasn't in it.
All three of those were named to the Dodgers' NLCS rotatoin -- Kershaw starting Game 1, Padilla Game 2 and Wolf Game 4. Hiroki Kuroda will start Game 3.
"Pitchers have got to do what they did all year," Bowa said. "I don't think you can say, 'This is the playoffs, I'm going to change.'"
Said manager Joe Torre: "I think it's important all year to [pitch inside]. But last year it got out of hand over there [in Philadelphia] on us. I thought the next game, when we played it back here, sort of showed that we could pitch effectively.
"But again, it's something that you always encourage pitchers to do, and you make sure that your'e able to go out there and make sure that you have a presence as far as knowing what's yours and what's theirs."
Posted on: October 14, 2009 7:23 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2009 7:36 pm
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers are coming strong out of the gate with a left-hander against Philadelphia in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series on Thursday, opting to hand the ball to rookie Clayton Kershaw, 21.
The decision not only emphasizes the Dodgers' growing confidence in Kershaw, who started Game 2 against St. Louis last round after defeating Colorado on the final Saturday of the season to clinch the NL West, but also allows them to position a lefty right away to face Philadelphia's big left-handed bats: Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez. Kershaw was 0-2 with a 5.23 ERA against the Phillies in two 2009 regular-season starts.
The rotation also is notable on a couple of other levels, from going with the kid in Game 1 to starting August acquisition Vicente Padilla in Game 2 to leaving All-Star Chad Billingsley out completely. Hiroki Kuroda will start Game 3 and Randy Wolf Game 4.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel named lefty Cole Hamels as his Game 1 starter, as expected. Manuel declined to go beyond that until the Phillies finalize their roster, probably either later tonight or Thursday morning.
Billingsley's absence is particularly noteworthy not only because he was an All-Star in July, but because he was the starting pitcher against Philadelphia last year in Game 2 when the Phillies' Brett Myers knocked Manny Ramirez off the plate and the Dodgers failed to respond.
Billingsley was the losing pitcher that day, and he lost more than the game. He also lost face in his own clubhouse as several Dodgers were angry that he did not respond and protect their best player. His fortitude has been questioned ever since and, though he seemed close to leaving that behind while pitching like an All-Star the first half of the season, those questions came back to dog him as he slumped down the stretch.
Kuroda, who wasn't even on the active roster last round because of a bulging disk in his neck, has been working at the Dodgers' facility in Arizona. Manager Joe Torre and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt journeyed there to watch him Tuesday and came away impressed enough to pick him to start Game 3.
"I wasn't hopeful that he would be ready for this round with the way things started with him," Torre said.
But the manager said he was "comfortable" watching Kuroda pitch Tuesday.
"He may not be as good as we want him to be, but still, off of what he did for us last year, it's something that we felt we wanted to give a shot to," Torre said of Kuroda, who won two postseason games for the Dodgers last year, holding the Cubs and Phillies to a combined two runs in 12 1/3 innings in the process.
Meantime, Wolf, a second lefty in the starting quartet, is bumped down to Game 4 after pitching Game 1 against St. Louis.
While he seemed disappointed, Wolf chose not to complain.
"I feel like I have an opportunity in Game 4 to help the team win," he said.
Posted on: September 10, 2009 6:41 pm
Edited on: September 10, 2009 6:42 pm
• Why the Dodgers are still first in the NL West: Thanks to gritty starting pitching and a stellar bullpen, they're surrendered four or fewer runs in 27 of their past 29 games.
• The Dodgers' latest challenge: Lefty Randy Wolf, their most consistent starter this season, has a sore left elbow and will skip the opener of this weekend's big series in San Francisco. So, to review: Wolf is ailing, Chad Billingsley appears to have hit a wall and youngster Clayton Kershaw (non-pitching shoulder) is skipping a start.
• The way things stand today, it'll all eyes on the field generals come October: The managers from the eight clubs would comprise the most experienced group of managers in one postseason since the wild-card format started in 1995. Jim Leyland, Mike Scioscia, Terry Francona, Charlie Manuel, Tony La Russa, Joe Torre and Jim Tracy will have combined for 51 postseason appearances (including 2009), 17 pennants, 11 World Series titles and 11 manager of the year awards. (The Yankees' Joe Girardi would be the lone man of the eight to have never managed in a postseason).
• Reasons why the AL West race is not a foregone conclusion: Sure, the Angels lead Texas by 4 1/2 games with little more than three weeks remaining, BUT: While the Angels still have four games left with the Yankees, three against Boston and seven against the Rangers, Texas' mix includes six games against Seattle (72-68) and three against Tampa Bay (72-68), decidedly less fierce than that Yankees-Red Sox tango. And the Rangers have beaten the Angels in nine of 12 games so far this summer.
• Reasons why the AL West race could be a foregone conclusion: While the above is true, so, too, is this: While the Angels are only 19-23 against the AL West this season, they're 24-12 against the AL East. Texas is 24-13 against the AL West and 25-19 against the AL East.
• Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson both think left-hander Francisco Liriano, 5-12 with a 5.80 ERA this summer, is going to come back strong in 2010 based on being two years out (by then) from Tommy John ligament transfer sugery. Liriano finally has regained his strength but couldn't repeat pitches this summer, especially his slider. "He'd throw two nasty sliders and then not get on top of the next one, leave it down in the zone and whack," Gardenhire says.
• He's out now with a plantar fascia injury, but Kyle Blanks has made a good early impression in San Diego (10 homers and 22 RBIs in 54 games). And it's easy to see why the 6-6, 285-pounder was who Tampa Bay targeted in trade talks last spring when the Padres came asking about right-handers Jason Hammel and Jeff Niemann. The Rays' answer was no, and Tampa subsequently wound up dealing Hammel to Colorado for minor-league pitcher Aneury Rodriguez on April 5. Rodriguez went 9-11 with a 4.50 ERA, with 111 strikeouts and only 59 walks over 142 innings pitched (27 starts), for Double-A Montgomery this summer.
• Maybe the Royals should zero in on second baseman Placido Polanco this winter on the free agent market. The Tigers' infielder is batting .337 (66 for 196) with 10 doubles, a triple, two homers and 24 RBI in 45 career games at Kauffman Stadium. The .337 average is seventh among active major leaguers at the K.
• Only two AL pitchers since 1988 have won 12 or more games in a season before turning 21: Seattle's Felix Hernandez and, now, Detroit's Rick Porcello. In Motown, Porcello's 12 wins is the most in one season by a Tiger 20 years old or younger since Dave Rozema won 11 in 1977 before he turned 21 that Aug. 5.
• Boston general manager Theo Epstein's line about the possibility of Curt Schilling running for Senate in the spot vacated by the late Ted Kennedy, that Schilling "would be good at filibustering", is one of the summer's classics.
• Bob Watson, vice-president of major league baseball's on-field operations, is recovering from back surgery this week.
• Hilarious piece on a new Jeter "movie", Pride of the Yankees 2, from my buddy Jim Caple.
Dislikes: I'm already stocked up with reasons enough, but Ellen DeGeneres signing on with American Idol gives me one more reason not to watch.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Back then it was beautiful
-- The Hold Steady, Joke About Jamaica