Friday, February 29, 2008

Kuroda impresses, the rest don't

So here's how my first view of the Dodgers went today. The game started at 1 (Eastern time, I'm a New Yorker remember). I was at school, but had an off period from 1:00-1:45. Perfect. I hooked up the TV, was lucky enough to have 1 of the 16 channels be ESPN, and I got in some quality Dodger-time.

Hiroki Kuroda started, and he looked great. The first hitter, Kelly Johnson, singled up the middle, but Yunel Escobar grounded into a DP. The next 4 hitters, including Mark Teixeira and Chipper Jones, could not reach base. The final line was 2 IP, 0 R, 1 H. Andy LaRoche laced a ground-rule double to center, and the Dodgers were up 1-0. Now keep in mind that I was off only until 1:45, then had to conduct the last class of the day until 2:30. I'm thinking... yes, the Dodgers are in change, they look great, they'll handle business. Surely this would be a good day...

... And then I picked up the action at 2:30. In a nutshell, they sucked. Hard. It was 6-2 Braves when I came back, and it quickly ballooned to 10-2. Esteban Loaiza, Greg Miller, and Matt Riley were all pathetic. I'm talking 10 runs in a 2.2 innings bad. I guess the time away from the TV turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Now, if I was asked which pitcher I'd rather see play well, Kuroda or Loaiza, I'd easily say Kuroda, and that was indeed the case. Everybody already knows Loaiza is no good, but Kuroda is still an unknown. So, that was satisfying. There's really nothing else good about this game, and is just Spring Training (and thank God not the regular season yet), so it's easy to wash your hands of this one and move on.

Next up will be a date with the Mets. Brad Penny makes his first start. Hopefully he took a nap after the 2nd inning and didn't have to witness the implosion.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Looking at the Day 1 lineup

1 day down, plenty more to go. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the lineup used by Joe Torre for his first game in blue.

1. Juan Pierre - LF
2. Rafael Furcal - SS
3. Russell Martin - C
4. Jeff Kent - 2B
5. Andruw Jones - CF
6. James Loney - 1B
7. Nomar Garciaparra - 3B
8. Matt Kemp - RF

Could this be the lineup used on Opening Day?
Yes, it very well could be for a few reasons. Pierre has the speed to his leadoff, and if you are willing to ignore his poor on-base %, that could be his spot. Furcal is good enough to drive the ball or lay a bunt down and use his speed. Martin is a contact hitter. Kent has hit cleanup for a long time, so he's used to the spot. Jones could be a HR threat if the other guys get on. Loney can get on base. Nomar can get a bunch of hits. Kemp played well hitting 8th, perhaps because there's less pressure in that spot.

Could changes be made?
Oh yes. Pierre's OBP is just way too low to have him getting the most at-bats in the top spot. Furcal is better at leading off than anyone else. Jones is more of a power threat than Kent at this stage. Kemp could be a big power threat if he can play up to his enormous potential. Loney can be a better pure hitter than Martin, so they could switch spots.

What changes, if any, would I make?
I can't take watching Pierre lead off and NEVER take walk, so I'd move him down. I'd be more comfortable putting Furcal leading off and Martin in the 2 hole, with Pierre at the 8 spot. Let Jones hit cleanup because that is why he's there. Move Loney to the 3 spot. Either LaRoche or Garciaparra can hit anywhere from 6-8.

Before people think I'm getting way too carried away, I will say this: YES, I understand it's only the first game of Spring Training. I'm just throwing my 2 cents out there. Everyday, the lineup will be tweaked in some way. I get that, and know that's the way it should be.

Torre is no dummy, so he'll have the best lineup possible by Opening Day.


Ok... so it was only the first game of Spring Training, but right now, the Dodgers are undefeated and sitting on top of the world!

All kidding aside, Joe Torre started off his Dodgers' career with a 5-4, comeback victory over the Atlanta Braves in Vero Beach today. The Braves took a 4-2 lead into the bottom of the 9th, but non-roster first baseman John Lindsay hit a 2-run single to end the game. Dramatics indeed.

This is Spring Training, so it's kind of hard to post a complete recap considering everybody and their mother made some sort of appearance. I'll just stick with the important stuff. Jason Johnson started after Chad Billingsley was scratched with a tight left groin and threw 2 scoreless innings. Tanyon Sturtze, Mike Myers, Brain Falkenborg, and Mike Koplove all followed with scoreless innings apiece.

The down side, however, was Tom Martin, who gave up 2 runs in 1 inning of work. He also wedged in 3 hits and a walk. He's battling Mike Myers for a bullpen spot of lefty specialist, and he's definitely in a hole to start. Myers is already a Torre-guy considering their time together with the Yankees, so Martin will really need to strut his stuff if he wants to make the team.

While it's still WAY too early to judge and just about anything, I couldn't help but laugh at a couple of things. The first is that Matt Kemp made another boneheaded baserunning blunder when he ran to 3rd with James Loney already there. How did that happen, you ask? Kemp didn't look at Larry Bowa's directions when he was running. As I've said in the past, it's stupid decisions like this that really put people in doubt about how good he could be.

The other was yet another clutch, 2-out single by Juan Pierre. Yes folks, I'm being sarcastic. He grounded out with Loney on 3rd to end the 3rd inning. Again, it's just 1 at-bat in a season full of them, but it's typical for that to happen. This is the same guy who hit .245 last year with runners in scoring position, and a whopping .071 with the bases loaded (1-14).

Yes, I know I'm pretty much contradicting myself by saying in one sentence, "It's too early to judge anything yet," and then in another sentence, "Kemp and Pierre were their normal dumb selves." But, it is what it is, so deal with it!

Tomorrow's game is on ESPN at 1 p.m. (EST). Hiroki Kuroda will make his first appearance in Dodger Blue, to be followed by Esteban Loaiza, who will be battling for the 5th spot in the rotation. So, if you're at work like me, try to weasel your way to a TV or tape that sucker. It's good to see Spring.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


A new edition of the mailbag is up. Topics are why so people think Juan Pierre's '07 season was a disappointment, if Hiroki Kuroda is the real deal, the chances of Nomar Garciaparra posting another comeback season, a compensation pick from the Marlins for losing Luis Gonzalez, if locking up young players long-term is a smart move, and the chances of Chin-lung Hu making the team as a utility infielder.

Read and become smarter.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

D Lowe is bigger, faster, stronger

Sometimes a good old fashioned offseason workout program is all it takes for an athlete to declare himself "better that I've ever felt." Such is the case with Derek Lowe.

So far, it must be working. He's averaging nearly 14 PPG and shooting 39% from 3. Oops.... sorry.... wrong Derek Lowe (or Derrick Low)!

The Dodgers version of Derek Lowe is entering the last year of 4-year contract, signed fresh off his dominating postseason performance with the Red Sox in 2004. His numbers the last 3 years certainly haven't been too shabby. He won 12 games in '05, 16 games in '06, and back to 12 in '07. His ERA has been under 4.00 each season. His strikeout numbers are ok, but he's more of a ground ball specialist. If batter's are pounding the ball into the ground, then it'll be a good day for him.

What has not been encouraging is his lack of consistency. Us Dodger fans will have a hard time forgetting the month of July when he picked up a whopping zero wins. To his defense, it's not like the offense did a whole heck of a lot to help him out with this. But, no wins for 9 straight starts is not good for a guy that is the #2 starter.

For a sinker-ball pitcher, getting command of your delivery is key. If that sucker is flat, then it's batting practice. But, when it's floating like a butterfly (and stinging like a bee!), then it'll be a good day. I remember Derek Jeter once saying that Lowe is the toughest guy for him to face, so that shows what kind of stuff he has.

With a solid yet often times uncertain rotation, the Dodgers need him to anchor the staff and get quality wins if they want to be playing deep into October.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Eric Karabell's Dodgers fantasy preview

As the baseball season approaches, my favorite fantasy season does as well. Which fantasy season is that? Baseball! Bet you never would have guessed.

Eric Karabell from ESPN wrote a great Dodgers fantasy team preview. And get this, it's actually free to read! Seems like every other damn article on that website is "Insider only," or in other words, pay to read about sports. Don't we pay enough for a computer and internet access anyway? But I digress...

I'll give a quick overview:

Ballpark: Dodger Stadium. It's been called a "pitcher-friendly park," but Karabell strongly disagrees. And he's right. Back in the day when all of that foul territory existed, I would say it favored pitchers, but not anymore. He warns not to overvalue Dodger pitchers just because the ballpark is supposedly suited towards them. It's not.

Top Sleeper: Andy LaRoche. 20 homer potential?

Intriguing Spring Battle: The 4th outfield spot. Andruw Jones and Matt Kemp are locks, so once again, it's down to Andre Ethier and Juan Pierre. His safer bet would be Pierre.

Training Room: Rafael Furcal is finally back from his nagging ankle injury. Expect more steals and power from him. Jeff Kent will be nicked up all year, but is still very productive for playing a weaker 2nd base position. Jason Schmidt won't be the power pitcher he once was, but will start based on his contract. A possible late-round pick.

Schedule Preview: They'll play in 2 pitcher's parks (San Francisco and San Diego) and 2 hitter's parks (Arizona and Colorado). Brad Penny is much better in the 1st half than in the 2nd half the last three years.

Future Closer: Jonathan Broxton is 1st, Jonathan Meloan is 2nd.

Backups to Watch: Nomar Garciaparra because of his eligability at 1st and 3rd.

Fantasy Studs: Russell Martin for his base stealing ability. Matt Kemp based on potential.

Prospects to Watch for 2008: Clayton Kershaw and Chin-Lung Hu.

NL West breakdown: 1st Base

My next NL West position breakdown will look at 1st base.

1. Adrian Gonzalez (.282 AVG, 30 HR, 100 RBI)
San Diego Padres

Gonzalez was a member of the Texas Rangers organization for the 2004 and 2005 seasons where he only garnered 192 AB’s. Leaving a hitter’s park in Texas to go to pitching-friendly San Diego would normally mean that your offensive numbers would only get worse, right? Wrong. He hit .304, 24, 82 in 2006 and became one of the better hitters in the NL. Last year his AVG dipped a bit, but his power numbers did not. He has become a legit hitting threat on a team that desperately needs it.

What is worth noting is that his numbers at home were not nearly as good as on the road. At home he was .262, 10, 36. On the road, he was .295, 20, 64. Those are pretty big differences. In my mind, that means that Petco Park really is a hitter’s nightmare like it’s advertised as. If a good hitter like Gonzalez has only decent numbers there, then it’s not hard to see why the Padres continue to stockpile their pitching.

With Mike Cameron gone and old man Jim Edmonds in, then he will have to continue to carry the power load with Khalil Greene. So, expect plenty of close ball games this summer yet again.

2. Todd Helton (.320, 17, 91)
Colorado Rockies

Mr. Consistency had yet another year hitting over .300. While he’s no longer the home run threat that he was in the early 2000’s, he still can hit 15-20 while driving in around 80-90. Not bad for a guy that has survived the Rockies’ youth movement to still be a main hitter.

Of course, he’s also smart for staying in Colorado and playing in the “rarified air.” I guess the Humidor, or whatever it is, has made for more realistic games, but it’s still Colorado. His AVG is much better at home compared to the road (.333 - .308), but his power numbers are surprisingly about the same. Looks like hitting behind Matt Holliday takes away more RBI chances than I thought.

What’s good for him is that he won’t be expected to carry the offense like he once was, thanks in large part to Holliday, Hawpe, Atkins, and Tulowitzki. He can slide nicely into any part of the lineup and just continue to pile up the hits. Can’t beat that.

3. James Loney (.331, 15, 67)
Los Angeles Dodgers

It should be no secret to anyone that has been reading my blog that I love Loney, so I was tempted to be totally biased and put him higher. But, I gotta look from a reporter’s standpoint, so 3rd it is. His talent is good enough where he may be 1st by next year, though.

Loney emerged last year from Triple A to supplant Nomar Garciaparra as the primary 1st baseman, and what a move it turned out to be. He started off hot, fought off a .244 AVG in August, and hit .382 in September. Plus, his defense has often times fantastic. Unlike other positions on the Dodgers, there is no talk at all of competition at 1st base. It’s now all his.

His power numbers probably won’t overwhelm anyone, but his AVG is good enough to land him in the 3 spot in the order. One great sign is that his road numbers were outstanding (.370, 10, 34). It’s hard to expect him to hit that high again, but for such a young guy, handling the pressures of playing on the road was done with ease. The sky could be the limit for this kid.

4. Conor Jackson (.284, 15, 60)
Arizona Diamondbacks

Like Loney, Jackson is another young stud with plenty of upside. But, a very slow April made playing time more difficult as the year went on. He should have been the starting 1st baseman, but instead had to settle for 107 starts there. The good news is that his numbers picked up as the year went on despite the inconsistent playing time.

I remember drafting him in one of my fantasy leagues and being really excited about his potential. Then, he went out and hit .217, 0, 5 in April. 60 AB’s and only 5 RBI’s. Ouch. Arizona won the NL West, so it’s hard to claim that they should have left him alone at 1st rather than decreasing his playing time. His postseason was pretty lousy as well (at least he made it there…). Overall, it probably was a year he’d rather forget.

In my mind, he’s good enough to eventually be the everyday 1st baseman and hit more than 15 HR’s. He never hit more than 4 in a month, which he can improve upon. Going into his 3rd full year, he will be pushed by the newly arriving Tony Clark. While Clark will get his AB’s, he needs to establish himself as someone who can drive in runs more often in order to be the main guy at 1st.

5. Rich Aurilia (.252, 5, 33) or Dan Ortmeier (.287, 6, 16)
San Francisco Giants

Ah, the San Francisco Giants offense. True, getting rid of Barry Bonds means the circus has left town, but any hope of scoring runs left with it. For crying out loud, Bengie Freakin’ Molina is their cleanup hitter! Wow, and do I mean wow!

But since I’m looking at everyone, let’s look at Aurilia first. He’s really old and also really unproductive. I could pretty much just stop right there, but I’ll continue. He actually did halfway decent with Cincinnati in ’05 and ’06, but not last year with the Giants. To even suggest that he may be a starter is kind of sad.

Ortmeier is someone I know nothing about, and the rest of civilization probably doesn’t either. It’s been suggested that he’ll win the starting job. He was a call-up in May last year and appeared in 62 games. Looking at his Minor League stats, he can be a decent power threat, but nothing too overwhelming. The most he hit was 20 at Double A ball in 2005. In my mind, just give him the job and let old man Aurilia sit. It’s not like the Giants have anything to lose (other than 100 games).

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The State of Jeff Kent

Another year, another season where this might be Jeff Kent's last. At 40-years-old and entering his 16th season as a Major Leaguer, he certainly has seen his fair share of ups and downs. He came close to winning a ring with San Francisco in 2002, and is starving to finally get one.

While there's no disputing his will to win, the stigma of being a "locker room cancer" continues to follow him. It's hard to forget last September when the Dodgers were down and just about out. As he lashed out at his team, he appeared to be singling out the youngsters when he said,

"We have some good kids, so don't get me wrong. But it's hard to translate experience, and I don't know why they don't get it."

He continued on by saying,

"It's just a lot of things. It's professionalism, it's knowing how to manufacture runs, it's knowing how to keep your emotions in it."

Fast-forward 6 months later, and now it's a different tune being sung. He now said that it was all a misunderstanding, and he wasn't singling anybody in particular out. He just wanted to win.

"Gentlemen, my frustration doesn't lie with anybody, they lie with wins and loses," said Kent, who turns 40 next month. "You don't win and anybody that's not frustrated, they shouldn't be playing the game. My frustration was not with a player or management, and therein lies the frustration."

Ok, I can certainly agree with him that everybody should want to win. Kent signifies that more than anybody. But, it's hard to believe that his "frustration doesn't lie with anybody." It sure didn't seem that way at the time. I can't blame Matt Kemp and James Loney for taking exception to that.

But, that was then, and this is now. Now, the Dodgers are a much better team. While they still lack punch to a degree, signing Andruw Jones won't make it nearly as bad as it was last year. The back end of the rotation is also stronger. Then again, getting rid of Brett Tomko and Mark Hendrickson will make any team better.

I still love watching Kent's hustle and desire no matter what the score is. I know his range has been decreased according to the "experts" that somehow measure that type of stuff, but he gives it his all. At the end of the day, despite the negative vibe he can give off, I'd still want him on my team.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A couple of websites to check out

I've added a couple of additions to the site that will appear on the right underneath the projected lineups. The first is a link to the Top 100 Baseball Sites, which is something I just stumbled upon tonight. It's a listing of top baseball blogs across the 'net. I just submited my blog, and while I'm still just getting started, hopefully I'll make the cut at some point! All sorts of different team sites and fantasy sites are right there to view.

The second is a widget from MLB Trade Rumors. This is a site I visit everyday, as it's full of great rumors from all over the majors. The guy who runs the site, Tim, said a couple of weeks ago that he quit his job to run the site full-time, so I can imagine that it's become very popular (and profitable, I guess). The last 10 headlines will be constantly updated, so it's one click away. Definitely worth taking some time to read - you'll be amazed at all of the rumors this guy manages to find.

Pierre will move to left... but won't sit

The newest offseason Juan Pierre article is up on the Dodgers official website, focusing solely on moving to left field and the possibility of sitting for Andre Ethier. In short, he claims to have no problem giving up center field for Andruw Jones, mostly because of his 10 Gold Glove awards. But, when the subject of riding the pine came up, his tone went sour. Here's what he said:

"They said I would more than likely move to left field. They didn't say nothing as far as competing for a job. My approach every year is as if I'm competing for a job so, mentally, it's no different."

He also said that sitting the bench meant that he was not an asset to the team, and that they should look to trade him.

All of this probably isn't exactly breaking news to anyone, but I thought his comments on sitting the bench were interesting. In a way, I can't really blame the guy for not wanting to be on the bench considering the numbers he's put up in the past and the contract he's signed. But, the reality is that barring anything last minute, Ethier won't be traded, so he has just as good a shot at the left field job as he does. It should be a dog fight.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: both guys will see their share of playing time. I don't see a clear-cut favorite emerging. Both guys bring something different to the table, so they'll both be used. For defensive purposes, I would much rather see Ethier, but with Jones and Kemp in the outfield with their great arms, maybe Pierre's lollipop throws won't be as big a deal anymore. Ethier will get on base more, but there's not many people in the majors that are bigger threats on the base paths than Pierre.

At the end of the day, while I can certainly understand Pierre's frustrations, I can see many unhappy nights for him. If he does eventually request a trade, will anyone want to take on that contract? He better hope that he plays well in the time he is given if he wants any sort of trade value.


The mailbag has returned to Here's the topics: why long-term contracts are not offered to the young stars, whose idea it was to go to China in Spring Training, if D.J. Houlton had any say in going to Japan, the buzz on Clayton Kershaw, and free agents after this season.

Happy reading.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

NL West breakdown: Starting Rotation

With Spring Training upon us, it’s time to start taking a tour around the National League West, position by position. Let’s kick it off by looking at the heart of each team, the starting rotation. The teams appear in the order in which I feel are the strongest.

1. Arizona Diamondbacks

RH – Brandon Webb (18-10, 3.01 ERA, 1.19 WHIP)
RH – Dan Haren (15-9, 3.07, 1.21)
LH – Randy Johnson (4-3, 3.81, 1.15)
RH – Micah Owings (8-8, 4.30, 1.28)
LH – Doug Davis (13-12, 4.25, 1.59)

The addition of Haren has obviously made a strong team just that much better heading into this season. Look at the first 2 guys of the rotation. Ok now look at what the 3rd guy has done in the past. Scary. If they can get just decent seasons again from Owings and Davis, then it’s easy to see why the DBacks are on top of many people’s lists for winning the division.

After receiving 3 losses in 4 starts (with 1 no-decision wedged in between) in early July, Webb went on a tear to end the year, going 10-2. He lowered his ERA from 3.38 to 3.01 during that time. He has leaped into the upper echelon of starters in the league. If Webb is #1, then Haren is #1A. In 3 full years of starting, he’s won at least 14 games. I think it’s safe to say that the Cardinals regret trading him away.

Uncertainty still remains for Johnson. He only made 10 starts last year, with his season ending after his start on June 28 vs. the Dodgers. But, if he’s anywhere close to healthy, he already was showing signs of improvement from his Yankee days. In fact, he’s being rumored to be the #2 starter, so they can go right-left-right, which is not a bad idea.

Owings and Davis did what you would expect, which is pitch around .500 ball. With the 3 guys in front of them, that’s all they really need to do to win a lot of games. If Owings can get past 6 innings, it’s a good sign. It’s those days in which he gets bombed from the start where he gets in trouble. Davis is entering his 10th year. He had a great month of August along with 2 decent starts in the playoffs.

2. San Diego Padres

RH – Jake Peavy (19-6, 2.54, 1.06)
RH – Chris Young (9-8, 3.12, 1.10)
RH – Greg Maddux (14-11, 4.14, 1.24)
LH – Randy Wolf (9-6, 4.73, 1.45)
RH – Justin Germano (7-10, 4.46, 1.30)

Much like Arizona, the first 2 pitchers are so good, it’s scary. Not only is the rotation deep, but they play in the perfect ballpark to help them succeed. Let’s not forget that Mark Prior is waiting in the wings for sometime during the season. I would think he would get a chance to start, but perhaps not right away. Still, not a bad guy to have in your back pocket if necessary.

Peavy is the reigning Cy Young Award winner and All-Star Game starter. The only team in the West to beat him last year was Arizona (2 times). He came off a 2006 in which his ERA went north of 4.00, but he turned that around quickly to be an ace again. Ya, he’s awesome. Young deserved much more than just 9 wins last year. He was every bit as good as Peavy until he got an injury late in the year. From the start of the year to the end of July, he gave up 3 or more earned runs only 4 times. From August until the end, it was 8 in 10 starts. Who knows if he rushed back too soon to try and help with the playoff push, which is only natural. But, there’s no disputing that without the injury, he would have had an ERA under 3 and more than 9 wins.

Maddux was a nice addition who won 14 games. He had some strong starts in August and September, which shows that he still has plenty of gas left in the tank. In that ballpark, he can still succeed, as evidenced by his ERA being a full run lower at home than on the road. Wolf got off to a great start with the Dodgers last year, but arm problems once again sidelined him. When he’s feeling good, he can rack up the K’s. But, it’ll be another case of watching his every start to make sure nothing is wrong. Germano is coming off his first full season as a starter, and he had mixed success. He’s capable of going 5 or 6 innings. He was yanked out of the rotation and made a few appearances out of the bullpen at the end of the season, but I would think he’ll be the #5 guy this time around. If he doesn’t do as well, look for Prior to fill his spot.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers

RH – Brad Penny (16-4, 3.03, 1.31)
RH – Derek Lowe (12-14, 3.88, 1.27)
RH – Chad Billingsley (12-5, 3.31, 1.33)
RH – Hiroki Kuroda (pitched in Japan)
RH – Jason Schmidt (1-4, 6.31, 1.79)

While there’s no lefties, it’s still a potentially deep rotation. While Penny and Lowe have shown they can be highly successful, the rest of the rotation could go either way. If Billingsley can continue his growth, Kuroda can pitch in the majors, and Schmidt can regain his health, this everything should be fine. If even a couple of those factors don’t pan out, it could be like last year where the bottom of rotation can’t pull their weight.

Penny has turned into one of the better pitchers the last couple of years. It’s amazing how he was being shopped just 1 year ago. My how that has changed. He’s turned his career around by relying more on pitching, and less on trying to blow everybody away with his fastball. He’s more than capable of leading the staff. Lowe had pretty good numbers, but too many loses, which were not always his fault. He was banged up late in the year, but continued to get 6 or 7 innings a start. If he’s locating well, he’s hard to hit. Then there’s the games in which he looks like he’s throwing batting practice where everything falls apart. He’ll still have those starts every now and then, but needs to limit them for the Dodgers to get further this year.

Billingsley is a possible future ace. I’ve read plenty of baseball reports praise him for his gifted talent. After starting the year in the bullpen, injuries pushed him to be a starter, and he got much better as the year wore on. If he can get over his wildness, he can be great. Kuroda is the big free agent signing from Japan. He’s shown the ability to pitch deep into games, and is reportedly a good pitcher in the clutch. Time will tell. Schmidt is the ace of the past whose career took a hard fall last year. Quite simply put, he did absolutely nothing. The good thing was that he was shut down in mid-June, so all of that time off will hopefully do him good. If he doesn’t work out, Esteban Loaiza waits in the wings.

4. San Francisco Giants

LH – Barry Zito (11-13, 4.53, 1.35)
RH – Matt Cain (7-16, 3.75, 1.26)
RH – Tim Lincecum (7-5, 4.00, 1.28)
LH – Noah Lowry (14-8, 3.92, 1.55)
RH – Kevin Correia (4-7, 3.45, 1.32)

While the Giants will face many long nights struggling to score (seriously… Bengie Molina is their cleanup hitter!), they do have some impressive young pitchers that are more than capable of breaking out. And they still have that Barry Zito guy, who signed a monstrous contract last year just to basically do nothing.

Zito will still anchor the staff, but my God was he bad last year. His first 2 starts he got bombed, then he settled in a bit, then got bombed again, then had a couple of good starts… You starting to see a pattern here? The only thing consistent was his inconsistency. He’s really only had 1 other bad year, in 2004, out of 8 seasons, so a comeback wouldn’t be out of the question.

Cain’s record last year was bad, but he fell victim to some horrendous run support. Just look at his last 4 starts of the year: at least 6 IP, 2 or less ER each game, 0 wins. There’s not much he could do about that. He kept his ERA in the mid-high 3’s all year, so if you ignore the won-loss record, he did pretty well. Lincecum is the newest young stud who racked up more than a strikeout per inning (150/146.1). Obviously he throws very hard, but he must have good stamina because in his last 15 starts, only twice did he not get into the 7th. Not bad.

Lowry has one of the strangest lines I’ve seen yet. The positives are the 14 wins and sub-4.00 ERA. The negative is the bloated 1.55 WHIP. Unlike Cain, he had great run support, which makes his season look better than it really was. He also had the same amount of walks as K’s (87), which is bad. He can’t expect to be that wild and still get wins like last year. Correia is the number #5 right now, but he will face competition from Jonathan Sanchez. He was 3-1 in 8 starts at the end of last year, and gave up 2 or less runs in 7 of those starts. It should be his spot to lose with numbers like that.

5. Colorado Rockies

LH – Jeff Francis (17-9, 4.22, 1.38)
RH – Aaron Cook (8-7, 4.12, 1.34)
RH – Ubaldo Jimenez (4-4, 4.28, 1.30)
RH – Kip Wells (7-17, 5.70, 1.62)
LH – Franklin Morales (3-2, 3.45, 1.22)

It’s hard to imagine that the defending National League champions rank last in their own division in pitching, but that’s the case here. We all know the ballpark they play in balloons their ERA’s. But, they showed last year that even with bad numbers, they can still pitch effectively enough for their awesome offense to take over and win games.

Francis anchors the rotation, and he was huge down the stretch and in the NL playoffs to get the Rockies to the World Series. His ERA remained in the low-4’s in the last 3 months of the season, and has shown the ability to rack up 7-8 K’s in any given game. Cook suffered a strained right oblique that sidelined up in early August all the way up the final game of the World Series, where he pitched 6 solid innings vs. the Red Sox, yet it still wasn’t enough. He’s good for about 6 innings a night.

Jimenez should slide up into the #3 spot. He was a late-season call up that showed signs of being a good pitcher. If he takes care of some control problems, he will be pretty good. I really have no idea why they signed Wells because he is plain awful. Those numbers are sad… really, really sad. Do I even have to analyze them? Putting him in Coors Field is like putting Michael Vick in charge of the Westminster Dog Show – you’re just asking for trouble.

Morales is currently the frontrunner to win the 5th spot, and his numbers are pretty decent. Granted, he only had 8 starts at the end of the year, but he gave up 0 runs in 3 straight. I can safely say that he’ll do better than Wells. My slow pitch softball numbers are better than that guy.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Great gift for us loyal Dodger fans

I was cruising around the 'net searching for anything to do with the 1988 World Series, and I came across this. On March 4, A & E Home Entertainment will be releasing a 7-disc DVD set of the '88 Series. Not only will every game be in its entirety, but bonuses include:
  • Games 5 and 7 of the NLCS vs. the Mets
  • Ring ceremony
  • Locker room interviews after Gibson's home run
  • Award ceremonies for Gibson's MVP and Hershiser's Cy Young
  • Assorted game footage of winning the NL West, Hershiser's scoreless innings streak, and Jack Buck's call on Gibson's homer, among other things

I can't even wait to get this sucker ordered and start reliving my youth. I'm only 27 now, so it's not like I'm that old, but this will bring me back to my elementary days when I used to have to tape the playoffs and watch them the next day after school. Even back then, waiting so long was agony.

The coolest thing about this is that my search for any type of footage from this series is finally over. So check this out - I live a little over an hour away from Cooperstown. For God knows how long, I've tried long and hard to find memorabilia from this series. You would think the birthplace of baseball would be full of cool things, right? Guess again. With the exception of autographs which are really cool, but way too rich for my blood, there's not a damn thing at any of those shops surrounding the Hall of Fame. What to know the only thing I could find? A Coors can that had a picture of Gibson rounding the bases. That's it. Cooperstown is a great place, but trust me, if you're not a fan of the Red Sox, Yankees, or Mets, don't expect to find a bunch of your favorite team's collectables there. That's just the sad truth.

Now that my rant is over, if you're reading this and a fan of another team, there's plenty of other teams available and their WS highlights. It's really cool.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Love for the NL West

I just read a GREAT article about how the NL West has turned into the most competitive division, top to bottom, in baseball. In fact, the division has been dubbed the "NL Best." Gotta love that.

While the East Coast bias will always exist (Yankees and Red Sox, in case you've been under a rock), the West has gone from being a joke in 2005 (San Diego won with an 82-80 record) to having the Rockies and Diamondbacks in the NL Championship in 2007. My, what a difference 2 years has made.

So what's been the cause for the sudden turnaround? 2 words: pitching and youth. Each team has them and will ride them to many victories this year. It's good to see teams go back to the old school method of building from within, letting those prospects get time on the field to grow, and watching them become stars for years to come. The Rocks and DBacks proved that can be done last year.

1 day into Spring Training, and I already want it to be Opening Day. I can't wait.

Schmidt is out, Loaiza is in as the 5th starter

The first day of Spring Training brought some confirmation of what people have long suspected: Jason Schmidt's shoulder will prevent him from starting the year in the rotation. So, it's now Plan B as Esteban Loaiza is the man.

I can't say I'm surprised about this. Anybody who follows the Dodgers closely knows that Schmidt was never given a green light to be a starter once April hits. Whenever his health was questioned, the response would be along the lines of "we'll see where he's at" or "it'll be taken day-by-day." In other words, he won't be ready like we hope. But, maybe it's a good thing that they're letting people know from the start not to expect miracles here and that he's going to be eased back into things. In the long-run, it's smart.

So now it's up to Loaiza to step up and be reliable. He seems to have confidence in himself when he said:

"I'm ready mentally and physically," said Loaiza, who was claimed last August from Oakland while still recovering from neck and knee operations. "That wasn't the real me last year. I've worked harder than I've ever worked over the winter. I've lost weight. I'm ready to go."

I guess that's a good thing. He was horrible with the Dodgers last year, so it's good to see him go back to the drawing board and rededicate himself. Of course, anyone can say they're "working harder than ever" whether they really are or not. He's won 125 games in his career, so let's hope he can regain his form.

Spring is here!

The countdown is over, and Spring Training has finally arrived! I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am to see Joe Torre start his reign in LA. While I'm still in the middle of cold and snow (I'm in New York, you know), it's great to hop on the Dodgers' website and read about the pitchers and catchers reporting. It's a very welcomed sight.

Why am I so excited? Well, I get excited every year, no matter how great or horrible I think the Dodgers are. This year brings many changes, like Joe Torre, Andruw Jones, and Hiroki Kuroda. Gone are some of the veterans that didn't pan out (bye-bye Luis Gonzalez, Shea Hillenbrand, Roberto Hernandez, among others...). It's a new look and a new start for the Blue Crew.

As for my blog, I have no idea how many people are actually reading this, and I don't really care. All I care about is writing about my favorite team and hoping that Dodger fans can make this one of their daily stops when cruising the 'net. Whether its news, opinions, game summaries, whatever, my ultimate goal is to make this a gathering place for us fans. So if you're reading this and like what you're seeing, tell a friend to check it out.

Here's to a great 2008!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008 preview: Bench

The final installment of the team preview series focuses on the bench. This year for the Dodgers, there will be many new faces. Like the article pointed out, the youth movement has greatly impacted the late-inning subs.

Gone are Olmedo Saenz (Mets), Mike Lieberthal (retired), Shea Hillenbrand (nobody), and Wilson Valdez (Korea). In steps Tony Abreu, Chin-Lung Hu, Mark Sweeney, Ramon Martinez, Gary Bennett, Delwyn Young, and Jason Repko. That's not to say that all of these names will make the final roster, but they could. Then on any given night, you could pick 2 of the following 4: Nomar Garciaparra, Andy LaRoche, Juan Pierre, and Andre Ethier. There's plenty of options.

From what I can tell, there's pretty good depth here. Sweeney is 2nd of the all-time pinch hit list. Young is out of options, so rather than risk losing his bat to another team, he'll be there. Hu and Abreu are being groomed for the future, and knowing how the Dodgers are usually so injury-prone, could step in this year. Bennett should get more spot starts than Lieberthal did last year. And any of the 4 names I mentioned from 3rd base or left field could be starters on lesser teams.

The combination of youth and experience should help the Dodgers in late-game situations. Last year, there were too many letdowns when big hits were needed. Seanz and Martinez flopped for the most part. So, they can only go up, and they've got a good group to do just that.

Sammy gets richer

Takashi Saito has agreed to terms of a 1-year, $2 million contract for this season. The deal assures the 3rd year star of going into the season without any lingering contract issues.

In short, Saito has had a brilliant career thus far. In '06, he was 6-2, 24 SV, 2.07 ERA. In '07, he was 2-1, 39 SV, 1.40 ERA. For those of you keeping score at home, that's a career total of 8-3, 63 SV, 1.77 ERA. He's only blown 6 saves along the way as well. That's like as many blown saves as Danys Baez had in his short stint in '06 when he was supposed to be the heir apparent to Eric Gagne. Thank God he's gone.

At 38, he's shown no signs of slowing down, though I have a feeling the second he gets into even a little bit of trouble, that talk will heat up. Combined with Jonathan Broxton, they can turn games into 7 inning affairs.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

NL West preview from

So I just came across a preview for the NL West, and it didn't exactly make me too happy. To see why, here's the order of finish they predict:

1) Diamondbacks
2) Rockies
3) Padres
4) Dodgers
5) Giants

In fact, the Dodgers were listed under "The Long Shot" category, not to be confused with "The Challengers" in the Padres and Rocks and "The Favorite" in the DBacks. That's great.

Look, I realize I'm obviously not the most unbiased person in the world, but these standings are almost as if they were taken at the end of last season. I guess adding Andruw Jones and Hiroki Kuroda, cutting the excess fat (unhappy veterans), and adding one of the best managers of all-time (that Torre guy) doesn't mean a whole lot.

The bottom of the article makes 3 "bold" predictions for the upcoming season. Here they are along with my reactions:

1)With Peavy, Webb, Penny and now Kuroda and Haren, the 2008 NL Cy Young Award winner will once again come from the West.
There's a good chance, but keep in mind this article was written before Johan Santana was traded to the Mets, so it's not a slam dunk like it once may have been.

2) The 2008 NL Wild Card winner will once again come from the West.
It's been 2 years in a row, so why not a 3rd? The pitching is so good, it will probably happen.

3) Arizona's Micah Owings, 3-3 but with a 3.02 ERA over his last 10 starts of 2007, blossoms into the best No. 5 starter in the league.
Who cares??? I mean seriously, that's the best prediction they could come up with?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Mark Sweeney is on his way back

Barring anything crazy happening, Mark Sweeney will come back to the Dodgers with a 1-year deal. The other choice was Tony Clark, but he has signed with the Padres, so no go on that one.

It's a good deal for LA. When you need a pinch hitter and you sign the guy who's 2nd on the all-time list, I've got to think it's a smart move. He's listed as being a 1st baseman and outfielder. I can't imagine he'd play at 1st at all considering James Loney should never come out of the game, so maybe some outfield. Mostly, he'll just take his one hack a game and call it a day.

As for Clark, he'll get more chances to play in San Diego. Granted there's Adrian Gonzalez at 1st base, but he'll still see some time. Plus, he grew up in San Diego, so it's a natural fit.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Is Joe Blanton on his way to LA?

A story from suggests that Joe Blanton is being hotly pursued by the Dodgers. While LA already has Brad Penny, Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, Jason Schmidt, and Estaban Loaiza, Ned Colletti still does not feel 100% comfortable. Knowing the Dodgers' injury history, I can't blame him.

The article accurately points out that Kuroda has never thrown a pitch in the majors, and Schmidt and Loaiza are anything but reliable starters with their injuries. So, going after a proven arm might make sense. Who do the A's want? Andre Ethier and Andy LaRoche are the 2 big names along with another prospect. Let's take a look at the possible trade:

Blanton - Coming off a 2006 season in which he won 16 games but posted a 4.82 ERA and 1.54 WHIP, he turned things around last year by going 14-10, 3.95 ERA, 1.22 WHIP. Also important was that he had 230 IP in 34 starts, which translates into nearly 7 innings per game. Making it into the 7th inning from the starting pitcher is considered a positive these days. As is always the case with the A's, if there's a veteran that can play, he will be shopped, and this is no different.

Ethier - If this trade does go through, he will come full circle after being involved in the Milton Bradley deal a couple of years back. Playing in a semi-regular role last year, he hit .284 with 13 HR and 64 RBI. He has a decent amount of pop and good arm in the outfield. He hasn't quite broken out to really establish himself yet, which has caused his value to kind of flatten out. Plus, the crowded outfield situation has made him even more expendable. I wouldn't exactly shed a tear if he were traded, but would certainly like to see him stay as well.

LaRoche - Another trade rumor, another mention of LaRoche. Why am I not surprised? On the one hand, he only hit .226 in 93 at-bats last year with 1 HR and 10 RBI. Not exactly a breakthrough performance. But, he's been Mr. Everything in the minor leagues, and deserves a chance to play as the main 3rd base option over Nomar Garciaparra.

If I were given the option of making the decision, I think I'd have to lay off of this one. Including LaRoche is what scares me. The Dodgers would be down to Nomar and would have to look to get someone else, like a Joe Crede. I think keeping LaRoche and letting him prove his worth is the best way to go. Blanton is a solid starter, no doubt, but it's time to make a commitment to both LaRoche and Ethier and let them prove they can play, much like the DBacks did last year with their young guys.

The Reds are the other team involved, and they would need a starter much more badly than the Dodgers. Playing in that ballpark, they can use any good arm they can get.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Spring Training questions

It seems like every article I read about the upcoming season focuses on a few specific questions about the team. I just read 2 more, one about "quick hits," the other about Joe Torre. In a nutshell, here's what the Dodgers are facing as the pitchers and catchers report in less than a week:

1) Who will be the odd man out, Juan Pierre or Andre Ethier?
It's been talked about to death, with no clear-cut answer as of yet. Andruw Jones occupies center and Matt Kemp (99% sure) will be in right. For Pierre, it's speed. For Ethier, it's decent power and solid defense. I think they'll both see decent amount of time.

2) Who will be the fifth starter, Jason Schmidt or Esteban Loaiza?
Schmidt was the "mega free agent star" signed last year to be the ace of the team. Instead, he sucked. Hard. Of course, being hurt totally threw off his season, and quite possibly his career if he can't turn things around. Loaiza wasn't any better, as he battled injuries as well. I would think Schmidt has the better stuff, but Loaiza did win 21 games in 2003, so he shouldn't be counted out as well. My guess is that Loaiza will get the nod to start the season because Schmidt won't be 100%.

3) Will Andruw Jones regain his form and be a true slugger?
Like I just said, they signed Schmidt last season to save the universe, and that flopped miserably. I've read that Jones had a bad elbow last year that really messed with his mechanics, and that's all over with now. He still is one of the most gifted players in the Bigs with his power numbers and slick defense. The Dodgers REALLY need him to step up and produce.

4) Will Chad Billingsley put together the type of solid season people think he can?
I just picked up the 2008 Rotowire Fantasy Baseball Guide, and they have Bills as the 18th ranked pitcher and 96 overall. I was amazed at how much they were praising him. Don't get me wrong, I know he can be that good. But I've also seen him walk everybody and their mother too many times, and in my mind, he needs to prove he has the control problems under wraps before he makes a big jump.

5) Can Russell Martin repeat his spectacular 2007?
There's no reason to think he can't. Granted, he was overplayed (151 games) last year, but he was awesome. He started the All-Star game, won the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards, and is one of the top ranked catchers in the game. I just hope the offense doesn't suck so much this year and he won't have to play in every game.

6) Who will win the 3rd base job, Andy LaRoche or Nomar Garciaparra?
Much like the battles for the outfield job and starting pitcher, the 3rd base job is anybody's guess. We all saw how much Nomar struggled last year, and it got painful to watch at times. LaRoche had chances, but didn't impress. From all I've read, LaRoche just needs a chance to be given the job and get enough at-bats to strut his stuff. I love Nomar (it's hard not to), but LaRoche will hopefully win this one. Who knows how high a ceiling he has.

7) Can James Loney and Matt Kemp continue building on their promising careers?
I think there's more confidence in Loney than Kemp right now. Loney not only showed he could hit (.331 AVG), but his defense was fantastic. It's good to see that he's being left alone at 1st base. Kemp has been dangled in all of those trade rumors (Santana, Haren, Bedard) until Ned Colletti finally went on record saying he was going nowhere. He's been praised for his tools, but his mental breakdowns are a real pain in the ass at times. At only 23, he's allowed mistakes for now, and will hopefully learn from them. These 2 guys could really make a big impact this year if all goes well.

I'm sure more questions will emerge as time goes on, but those are the biggest ones in my mind for now. Let's just enjoy the fact that with football over, baseball is about to make a splash again. preview: Relievers

The second-to-last version of the upcoming season preview focuses on the bullpen. For the Dodgers, this is definitely one of their strengths. With a great closer and setup man, they can easily turn games into 7 inning affairs.

Takashi Saito has turned into one of the most reliable closers in the game. As the article points out, it's amazing how fast people have forgotten about Eric Gagne. Well, maybe not so much forgotten, but more that they aren't stuck in the past and wishing he was still there. Already with 63 saves in 2 seasons, he's bumped his way up into the category of elite closers like Hoffman, Papelbon, Rivera, and Nathan. Not bad for a guy that wasn't even on the roster to start the 2006 season.

Then there's Jonathan Broxton, who's still only 23, yet is quickly earning a reputation as one of the top setup men in baseball. With the exception of his September meltdown last year, he's been flawless. Should Saito ever go down, they should barely skip a beat sliding him in there.

Joe Beimel is the primary lefty, with Tom Martin and/or Mike Myers possibly joining him. Rudy Seanez has been resigned, and has provided solid innings for a 39-year-old. Scott Proctor will continue to be a workhorse, more so because of Joe Torre's love for him. The rest of the 'pen could include names like John Meloan, Eric Stultz, Yhency Brazoban, and Eric Hull.

Hopefully, the bottom end of the rotation won't be as crippled and ineffective as they were last year, so the bullpen will not be overworked.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Mattingly's wife caught flipping out

I think we can now see why Don Mattingly will not be in a Dodgers' uniform this season.

A crazy story came out today saying that Kim Mattingly, who is in the process of a divorce from Don, was busted for public intoxication and disorderly conduct. She was arrested when she refused to leave Don's house.

Now you might be asking, What was this argument about? Why it was over a telephone, of course!

That's right, a freakin' TELEPHONE caused her to flip the F out. I guess she thought he had it, he said he didn't. So she went nuts. Ya..... I can definitely see why he tapped out of that marriage. Apparently she has had a history of causing trouble like this, which is why he's filed a restraining order against her. She should feel so proud!

But seriously, I hope he can get this crazy lady out of his life so he can move on with his. He deserves better than this. He has a great job with the Dodgers and a son in the minor league organization. Let's hope things turn around for him and soon.

Rudy Seanez is back for more

The always durable Rudy Seanez has resigned with the Dodgers for 1-year/$550,000. The selling point is that he will enter the season in the majors, and not as a minor leaguer.

After floating around from 2004-2006 with the Royals, Marlins, Red Sox, and Padres, he managed to be a nice addition to LA last year. In 76 innings, he went 6-3, 3.79 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 73 K's. Not bad for a guy that was barely factored into the season-long plans. Since Dodger pitchers have a habit of getting banged up, any decent arm can help.

With the bullpen needs addressed with the signings of Seanez, Beimel, Proctor, and invites to Tom Martin and Mike Myers, arguably, the last area of need is a lefty pinch-hitter. The first option is resigning Mark Sweeney, who is in 2nd place in the all-time pinch-hits list. The other is Tony Clark, the power-hitter who was most recently with the Arizona Diamondbacks. It's a toss-up there. One can get you the clutch single to keep the inning going, the other can hit a game-changing home run. Either one would be a nice addition.


Time for a new mailbag, courtesy of This week discusses if the Dodgers could have landed Johan Santana considering the Mets gave up 4 unproven prospects, why Hiroki Kuroda was signed instead of trading for Dan Haren, if the All-Star Game will be in LA soon, Scott Elbert's status (remember him?), and another lefty in the bullpen next to Joe Beimel.


Friday, February 1, 2008

On second thought, no arbitration for Beimel

The final piece of the pie avoided arbitration today when Joe Beimel signed a 1-year/$1,925,000 deal. He will be entering his 3rd season with the Dodgers.

So far, it's been so good for Beimel. In 2006, he was 2-1 with a 2.96 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 62 games. Last year, he appeared in 83 games while posting numbers of 4-2 with a 3.88 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. He has been a great presence on the left side of the mound. Yup, he's pretty much done everything right...

... Buuuuuuut there's that minor "incident" that will continue to haunt him the rest of his career. For those of you unfamiliar, here's the skinny. Right before the '06 NL Division series started in New York against the Mets, he went out drinking at some NY bar watching the Packers-Eagles Monday Night Football game. Well, the night didn't end so well as he ended up slicing his pitching hand on glass. He initially lied about it and said it happened in his hotel sink. Feeling guilty, or perhaps because people were questioning his story, he finally came clean.

Oh ya, the Dodgers got swept and lefties like Carlos Delgado and Cliff Floyd hurt them. Beimel could have been used against them.

But that was then, and this is now. He pledged to change his life and appears to have done so, which is good for him. They need him coming out of the 'pen considering their lack of quality lefties. Expect another big year from him.