First place Dodgers host Braves

July 29, 2014

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After that huge sweep of the Giants, our team returned to home base. With a day off to relax at home, the Dodgers should be healthy and ready to take on Atlanta.

To open the three game series, Josh Beckett goes up former Dodger Aaron Harang. Zack Greinke takes on Alex Wood on Tuesday, followed by Clayton Kershaw vs Julio Teheran on Wednesday.


A Giant Series

July 24, 2014

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This weekend series with the Giants could be a turning point for the season. After getting their butts kicked by the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Dodgers fell to 1.5 games behind the San Francisco Giants. After the game on Sunday, the Dodgers will be anywhere from 4.5 games behind, to 1.5 games ahead of the current divisional leader.

From Chris Haft’s article in mlb.com:
“The Dodgers aligned their post-All-Star-break rotation so their top three starters — Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu — would face San Francisco in this weekend’s series at AT&T Park. By contrast, Giants manager Bruce Bochy’s top priority was the first series after the break, which happened to be at Miami. He arranged the starters by pecking order, with All-Stars Madison Bumgarner and Tim Hudson receiving the first two starts, reflecting Bochy’s belief that, with some exceptions, no single game is bigger than another.”

Several articles indicate that the Dodgers would like to trade Matt Kemp, including one from Fox Sports reporter Ken Rosenthal that includes this excerpt: Manager Don Mattingly and Kemp are at odds, sources say, in part because of Kemp’s publicly stated desire to return to center field. Informed recently by reporters that Kemp views himself as a center fielder, Mattingly said, “That’s fine. He can view himself however he wants. I’m playing him in left.”


First Quarter Extrapolations

May 13, 2014

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Lying with statistics.  We all do it, yet we all hate to be fooled by it.  It’s fun to do, yet exasperating.  Let’s see what happens when we apply it to the 2014 Dodgers:

  • Their final record will be 85-77, good enough for third place and 18 games behind the Giants.  The Giants finish the season at an incredible 103-59.
  • Adrian Gonzalez leads the Dodgers with 36 HRs and 108 RBIs.
  • Yasiel Puig finishes his sophomore season with 28 HRs and 116 RBIs.
  • Dee Gordon steals 96 bases and is caught just 12 times.
  • Zack Greinke and Dan Haren lead the pitching staff with records of 24-4 and 20-4, respectively.
  • Clayton Kershaw is only able to chip in with eight wins on the year.
  • Kenley Jansen has 48 saves, but 8 blown saves.
  • Brian Wilson finishes with an 0-8 record and 4 blown saves.
  • AJ Ellis has eight walks in 58 plate appearances.

Obviously, none of the above is going to happen.  That’s why they play the games.

Here’s looking forward to the last three quarters of the season being more successful than the first one quarter.


Home Opener: The State of the Dodgers

April 3, 2014

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I had a few thoughts about the state of the Dodgers going into the home opener against the Giants. This will be partly a regurgitation of what we already know, but also partly a rant.

The Kershawless Pitching Rotation

Without Kershaw, Greinke and Ryu slip from #2/#3 to #1/#2, even though it doesn’t look that way in terms of the days they pitch. Rather, it looks like Ryu has moved into the #1 position, as he is about to start his third game in the sixth game for the Dodgers. But that’s really because Greinke was held back from going to Australia. Now whether he was held back by his calf injury or whether he held himself back and had a phantom injury, I will leave that for you to contemplate.

The rest of the rotation is slowly coming together. Haren looked great last night, so he slips into the #3 position. That leaves us with who can do a credible job at #4 and who can do at least semi-decent at #5 when that need arises. Maholm is slated to be the #4 man at this time, and we’ll get our first look at his abilities or inabilities to fill this role on Saturday against the hated ones. It will be some time before we need a #5 starter. With that extra time, Beckett may be available, but I for one have a nagging feeling that he may not be ready. In that case, we will likely use Fife as an emergency spot starter. Zach Lee would not likely be used until the team needs a #5 starter on a more permanent basis. By then, Billingsley may also be ready.

Bullpen

Well, Brian Wilson pretty much said that he didn’t have enough time in Spring Training to get in all the work he needed. That’s what precipitated him having to move to the DL. He’ll be back, hopefully in fifteen days. In the meantime, we need to find a new set up man for the eighth inning. The answer to that need is not immediately obvious. If it was me making the decision, I would use Paco. He was lights out last year until he got tired late in the season.

Impact of the Australia Trip

This reminds me of last year, when Hanley broke his thumb during the World Baseball Congress. Don’t mess around during Spring Training. It’s called Spring Training for a reason. This is the time to get the team ready for high level, professional, major league baseball.

The Return of Matt Kemp

The four outfielder conundrum returns. Who will be shipped off? Probably SVS, rather than Baxter. Why? (1) Options (2) Baxter is the left hander off the bench. Why does that matter if Crawford or Ethier will be on the bench? Keep Scott Van Slyke on the MLB roster. His bat is the bat we need off the bench. No more Michael Young, no more Sweeney. Get rid of Baxter, he hasn’t done a thing.

Coaching

Somebody is getting into Mattingly’s head and moving the baserunners. Look at the surprise bunt by Puig to move Crawford to third base. Look at Ethier and Hanley stealing bases. I think this is the impact of Wallach as bench coach and it is a great impact. I’d like to see more of it. This will keep the opposing pitchers off balance when we’ve got guys on base. This is the National League, you don’t sit around and wait for home runs.

Yasiel Puig

Puig is here to stay and will continue to be a force both offensively and defensively. Does he still have rough edges? You bet. How many? Well, let’s see there’s (1) baserunning mistakes, (2) doesn’t always hit the cutoff man, (3) missed a sign while batting last night. I’m sure there’s more than that. He is still a work in progress. He needs to take advice from both the coaches and his teammates. He’s getting there, but don’t expect him to be a veteran player by the end of this season. Meanwhile, right now he’s one of the most interesting hitters to watch. The others being Hanley and Matt.