Wednesday, April 30, 2008

9 runs in 7th and 8th bust open game for Dodgers

For the first time since April 7, the Dodgers are over the .500 mark. For a change, I'm thankful to say that it's their bats doing most of the talking.

Staked to a 4-1 lead entering the 7th inning, the Dodgers' bats absolutely unloaded on the helpless Florida Marlins. Between the 7th and 8th innings, they sent 18 men to the plate, scoring 9 runs on 7 hits. Throw in some walks, stolen bases, and errors, and the Marlins must have thought the game would never end. The Dodgers still don't hit home runs, but when they are stringing hits together and showing their speed, they are really tough to beat. Tonight was the perfect example of that.

Even with the big offensive output, a better story may have been Chad Billingsley's dominating effort. He's pitched well before, but has always managed to run into a wall later in the game. In the 5th tonight, he was faced with a bases loaded, 1-out situation. After getting a big out by forcing Dan Uggla to foul out to 1st, Jeremy Hermida hit a cheeseball infield single to score 1. Needing another big out, Bills K'd Jorge Cantu swinging. The bats took over soon after.

The final line for Billingsley was 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 8 K. After 4 loses to open the season, he finally has his 1st win. He's pitched better than his 5.20 ERA indicates, he just found a way tonight to avoid getting shelled in 1 inning. On the road against a scrappy Marlins team, it's a big win.

With the exception of Billingsley and Andruw Jones (big shock), every starter got at least a hit. Leading the charge as usual was Rafael Furcal, who was 5-6 with 3 runs and 1 stolen base. Other contributors were Matt Kemp (3-5, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 SB), Russell Martin (2-2, HR, 3 R, 1 RBI, 3 BB), and Blake DeWitt (2-5, 4 RBI). In the 7th and 8th, both James Loney and DeWitt had huge, 2-out, bases loaded triples.

Thursday's game will be an early one for you LA people, as it starts your time 9 a.m., my time at noon. I'll admit that with the exception of those ridiculous games overseas that Major League Baseball forces 2 teams to open the season in, I'm not used to waking up and watching a baseball game. I guess that means you have the rest of the day free, which is cool. Anyway, Hiroki Kuroda gets the ball and will look to bounce back from a poor start against Colorado last Friday.

2 sweeps in-a-row would be SWEET.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Kent rescues Dodgers from blown lead

It was a fast start for LA as they scored the first 5 runs of the game. By the end of the night, they had to do everything they could just to squeak out the victory.

Thankfully for the Dodgers, they had the right man up at the right time in Jeff Kent. With 2 down in the 9th and Andre Ethier on 2nd, Kent singled to center to score Ethier and take the lead, 7-6. Takashi Saito nailed the Marlins in order with 2 K's to seal the deal.

The night started off great against Andrew Martin, who looked completely lost. Russell Martin hit an RBI-single in the 1st to score Ethier for a quick 1-0 lead. The 2nd would bring 5 straight men reaching base starting with Derek Lowe hitting a single, all with 2 outs. Matt Kemp and Kent found good spots to place singles and a big 5-0 lead.

With Lowe on the mound, the hope was that this would be a cruise control victory. Instead, Bad Lowe took over. He was constantly struggling with his command, and when he did hit the zone, he was hammered. The middle of the order for the Fish of Dan Uggla, Jeremy Hermida, Jorge Cantu, and Luis Gonzalez (remember him?) all did the damage. About the only thing that went right during Florida's rally was that Hanley Ramirez got caught stealing twice. If he advances, who knows what the outcome would be.

Of course, it's hard to put all of the blame on Lowe, especially when he should've gotten through the 5th with no problems. But, with 2 down, James Loney botched the easiest ground ball ever, and the Marlins would tack on 3 unearned runs. Lowe still wasn't very good, but it's not all his fault.

As I said before, Kent was the perfect man to be at the plate in a big-game situation like he had in the 9th inning. He didn't try to kill the ball - he just made contact and let his team do the running. Very encouraging. I have to admit, I had plenty of feelings during the later innings that the Dodgers would somehow blow this one. They would have in the past. Winning this game against a pesky Marlins team is a great sign that the better ball they have been playing will keep up.

While I'm on this whole positivity thing, I hope Saito's save will at least quiet the idiotic critics who claim that Jonathan Broxton should now be the closer. Please. A couple of bad nights does not change the fact that Saito's still one of the top closers in the game. He had his stuff flowing tonight. Now shut up!

Chad Billingsley will look to make it 5 straight when he starts tomorrow against Scott Olsen. It'll be a good young guy matchup.

Monday, April 28, 2008


It's an off day today as the Dodgers arrive in Florida, fresh off a 3-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies. This week's topics are the difference between this year and last year in Takashi Saito, why the money spent on stadium upgrades wasn't spent on big-name players, if the China trip affected the team, and what exactly "options" means.

Read and be smart.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Loney singles home a sweep

One day after pounding the Colorado Rockies from the 1st inning, the Dodgers had to work extras to get the job done.

Fortunately for them, they were able to come through in the clutch, something that has plagued them all season long. James Loney's RBI-single with 1 down in the 10th scored Rafael Furcal to get the duke, 3-2. It's the first sweep of the season for the Dodgers, against the defending NL champions no less.

Last week at this time, the Dodgers scored 3 total runs in a 3-game sweep in Atlanta and looked like the worst team on Earth. Well, that's probably because they were the worst team on Earth. After splitting in Cincinnati and home against Arizona, they welcomed the Rockies to Chavez Ravine in a battle between 2 struggling teams. I'm thankful to say that the Dodgers were the ones that left feeling much better about themselves.

The Dodgers got the scoring started in the bottom of the 4th by scoring 2 runs all with 2 outs (did I just say that?). Blake DeWitt tripled, and after Chin-lung Hu was intentionally walked, Esteban Loaiza came through with a run scoring single. Furcal added 1 next for a 2-0 lead.

The lead would be short-lived when the Rocks used a Willy Taveras double and Todd Helton single the very next inning to even the game at 2. That would be the end of the scoring until the 10th.

Jeff Francis had his 2nd good start in 5 tries by giving up only the 2 runs in 7 innings. The Dodgers did have their chances against him at various times, but they left 10 on base. Shockingly (sarcasm indeed), Andruw Jones left 3 of those with 2 outs. He went 0-4 with 3 K's and continues to prove his case of being the worst free agent signing in baseball. I'm trying to find new, creative words to describe how much he sucks but the well has run dry. That's all I've got to say about that.

Esteban Loazia was rewarded with the start a couple of days ago, and made the most out of it. In addition to his RBI-single, he went 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. Very efficient day for him. He threw strikes and made the Rockies beat them with their bats, which didn't happen. For the #5 spot in the rotation, that's all you can ask for.

Much like the last series against the Arizona Diamondbacks was important, this was as well. They can look back at those 2 series and be very pleased by going 4-1. With the D-Backs playing the best ball in the Majors, maybe being 6 games back at this point isn't so bad after all. True, it could be better, but they are now in 2nd place and can look to build on this recent momentum.

After an off day Monday, the Dodgers will be in Florida for 3 starting Tuesday. The Marlins are one of the more surprising teams in baseball with a 15-10 record, good for 1st in the tough NL East. That won't last forever, but it's fun to see them play so well for now. Even without Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis, they keep plugging away and winning. Derek Lowe will be given the ball in Game #1.

Dodgers put this one away early

At first I thought I was just seeing things. Then I thought I was seeing things over and over and over. Thankfully I wasn't.

The Dodgers put up a 10-spot on the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night to get the easy victory, 11-3. They went into the bottom of the 1st down 2-0 thanks to a Garrett Atkins 2-run homer. Then they must have realized that they were about to face Mark Redman, someone who hasn't had a quality start since Little League. Seriously, how in the world is this guy starting for the defending NL champions? Mind boggling.

Anyway, Redman was his own worst enemy. He walked 3 straight batters, hit 2, gave up 4 singles, 1 double, 1 sac-fly, and the big grand slam to Matt Kemp. The Rocks must have acknowledge defeat early on because they let Redman stay on to pitch 6 innings. His ERA alone after the first inning jumped 4 runs to somewhere in the 9's.

For the Dodgers, it was another case of hitting being contagious. The 1st actually started with Rafael Furcal grounding out, but Juan Pierre singled, stole 2nd, went to 3rd on a wild pitch, and scored on Kemp's sac-fly. Again, for all of the Pierre haters out there (and I've been one of them), that's why he's kept around - he causes plenty of trouble on the bases. Kemp ended the inning with 5 RBI, and Brad Penny even chipped in with an RBI-single.

After the 1st inning where Penny gave up 2 runs, he was really good. He finished at 7 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K. After starting the year with control problems, this now makes his 3rd game in a row where he has been in command and picked up the W. He's their ace, so if he can keep the walks down, he'll have success. His ERA is now 2.89 with a WHIP of 1.31.

Of course, for those of you that have been watching Sportscenter at all today, this game will best be known for home plate umpire Kerwin Danley being knocked out by a 96 MPH fastball from Penny. It seemed obvious to me that Russell Martin was crossed up, and was most likely expecting something off speed. Martin didn't even react to the ball until it was over his glove. The reports were that he's doing much better in the hospital, so hopefully he'll be back on the diamond soon. But man, that looked scary. It's a good thing he didn't get hurt much worse.

The Dodgers will look for their first sweep of the season when Esteban Loaiza takes the mound against Jeff Francis this afternoon. Loaiza is part of the revolving door for the 5th starting spot with Chan Ho Park and Hong-Chih Kuo. But let's be honest here, we're all just waiting for the inevitable call-up of Clayton Kershaw, who's dominating Double-A ball. Loaiza has a chance to look really good with a quality start today and a Dodgers' win.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Nomar to be DL'd, so DeWitt is back

I made a small joke the other day that "when" Nomar Garciaparra (not "if") gets hurt, Blake DeWitt will be back with the big club. Little did I know how right I would be.

Nomar exited Friday night's game against the Colorado Rockies with a strained left calf muscle and will be back on the shelf once again. It's a positive for DeWitt fans, as he'll get the call back up. That demotion lasted, oh... about 5 minutes.

Look, I can fully appreciate Nomar's desire and heart to play ball, but enough is enough. The guy is simply WAY too much of an injury risk at this point in his career, and is just an accident waiting to happen. He was actually hitting pretty his last few games, but like always, cannot find the ability to stay on the field.

So what to do with him? I hate to say it, but it's time to seriously consider moving him, whether that be by trade or outright releasing him. Andy LaRoche will be back soon, and while he's had his fair share of injuries, it's not nearly as bad as Nomar. DeWitt has played well enough to keep getting starts for now, but LaRoche is their future.

No disrespect meant to Nomar, but it's time to acknowledge that resigning him was a mistake and for the organization to move on.

Don't ever gid rid of Russell Martin!

On a night where the Dodgers lost both Nomar Garciaparra and Andruw Jones to injuries, Russell Martin showed why he is the true MVP of the team.

Martin started off the night as the catcher, moved over to 3rd base for the first time in his Major League career when Nomar was hurt in the 9th inning, and hit the game winning sacrifice fly in the 13th to get the W, 8-7. He ended the game at 4-4, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, and raised his average 40 points to .276. Not a bad night.

This was a back-and-forth game much of the night, as each team puts runs on the board in innings 2-4. The Rockies took a 4-1 lead off of Hiroki Kuroda in the 3rd on a run-scoring double by Matt Holliday and a 2-RBI single by Garrett Atkins. The Dodgers immediately responded when Rafael Furcal and Andrew Jones (no... really) each reached base to start the bottom of the frame. Furcal scored on a Nomar single, Jones on a wild pitch, and Martin and Juan Pierre added RBI-singles for a 6-4 lead.

Kuroda ended up pitching 6 innings, but gave up 5 runs on 9 hits, his first poor start in 5 outings. Cory Wade made his 2nd appearance and gave up 1 run in an inning. Takashi Saito had a blown save, part his fault and part backup catcher Gary Bennett's fault when he let a passed ball score the tying run. The game could have been MUCH worse with Scott Podsednik on 3rd with nobody out, but a flyout by Troy Tulowitzki and a double-play ball by Matt Holliday ended the inning.

Just as the Rockies benefited from an error, but Dodgers started their rally in the 13th thanks to an error by Clint Barmes at SS to put Matt Kemp on. After a Bennett single moved Kemp to 3rd, Martin's sac-fly scored him with 1 down for the game winner.

Much like Martin, Chan Ho Park deserves plenty of praise as he pitched 3 scoreless innings in "overtime." His WHIP is really high at 1.73, but he's managed to get key outs when he's needed them to keep is ERA at 3.00. Last night works out huge for him in keeping his job in the Majors.

The Dodgers have been on a win one, lose one streak this week, so they will look to break that today when they send their top guy, Brad Penny, to the mound against the awful Mark Redman. A night start will work well for everyone, and may mean that Martin will talk his way into the lineup again.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Needing a 12th arm, DeWitt is odd man out

Blake DeWitt has gone from a virtual nobody in the minor league system to the everyday starting 3rd baseman for the Dodgers, all thanks to the injuries of Nomar Garciaparra and Andy LaRoche. He started in 15 of the 18 games he appeared in, and was praised for his hard work.

Unfortunately, he became a victim of the numbers game as he was sent down to Triple-A Las Vegas today in order to make room for right-handed reliever Cory Wade.

His final numbers are modest, but pretty good for someone who jumped from Double-A to the Bigs without any prior experience: .255 AVG, .367 OBP, 4 2B, 8 BB, 5 RBI. More impressively, however, is that in 57 total chances, he committed only 1 error for 98% fielding.

As for the new guy, Wade has been at Double-A Jacksonville and has compiled a 4.30 ERA with 13 K in 14.2 IP. He'll throw strikes, which obviously will make Joe Torre feel comfortable about putting him out there if need be. I speculated earlier today that since Jonathan Broxton and Takashi Saito both threw over 30 pitches last night, they probably wouldn't be available for tonight's game against the Diamondbacks. It will be good to have that extra arm ready to go.

I have a feeling we have not heard that last of DeWitt, as he made quite the positive impression. When.... oops, I mean IF Nomar gets hurt again, DeWitt's phone could come ringing for a return.

Derek Lowe injury update

Good news for the Dodgers, as Derek Lowe should be ready for his next start, which will probably come next Tuesday in Florida.

Lowe was cruising along last night against the Diamondbacks, but had to leave with tightness in his right elbow. With Jason Schmidt gone for who knows how long, Brad Penny and Chad Billingsley fighting with command issues, and Hiroki Kuroda just a rookie, it'll be good that Lowe will not be out for any extended period of time.

Dodgers hand Haren 1st loss

FINALLY the Dodgers were able to do something that has plagued them all season: get clutch, 2-out RBI's. In fact, 6 of their runs came with 2 outs, leading the way to a 8-3 victory over the Diamondbacks. It was Haren's first loss of the season in 5 starts.

As I stated before last night's game, this may have been the strangest of Joe Torre lineups yet. When Nomar Garciaparra is your cleanup hitter, it's probably a sign for desperate times. Last night, though, it worked. Nomar got the scoring started in the 1st with an RBI-single to score Rafael Furcal. James Loney then drove in Nomar for a quick 2-0 lead.

Pretty much each person in the lineup contributed to the win in some way. Furcal stole 2 bases to go along with 2 hits, raising his average to .398. Andre Ethier hit #3 and scored 3 times. Loney drove in 2. Matt Kemp hit another double and drove in 2. Chin-lung Hu got the start at 2nd for the resting Jeff Kent and went 2-3 with 2 RBI. Weird lineup or not, it worked.

But remember how I said "pretty much" everyone did well? That's because Andruw Jones, hitting in the 2-hole, did absolutely horrendous yet again. He was 1-5 with 2 K's, and the 1 hit was a puny single up the middle. He now is "hitting" .159 with 25 K's in 69 AB's. He continues to be a complete waste of space and the worst free agent signing of the year.

Derek Lowe turned in a good performance, so it was the Good Lowe last night. He finished at 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K. Unfortunately, he had to leave after the 5th because of right elbow tightness. Considering that he's right handed, and the elbow is part of his pitching motion, that can't be good. Hopefully it was just more precautionary and he'll be ok. More on that when I find out.

Jonathon Broxton got the hold and Takashi Saito got the save, but both had to throw a lot of pitches (Broxton - 32, Saito - 34). This is where the lack of available arms in the bullpen really showed. Scott Proctor got the night off, so Chan Ho Park entered in the 6th and pitched a scoreless inning. He got into trouble in the 7th, so Joe Beimel took over. Broxton then came in later in the 7th and pitched into the 8th, where Saito then got out of the inning when Miguel Montero pinch-hit and lined out to left with the bases loaded. The D-Backs put 2 more on in the 9th, but could not score.

With the amount of pitches thrown by Broxton and Saito, you have to wonder if they will be available tonight. They had to throw many more pitches than they're used to, so expect Proctor to get called on at some point. The Dodgers really need Chad Billingsley to throw deep into the game tonight. He has yet to last more than 5 innings this year. He was great for the first 4 innings against the Braves last start, but then fell apart. He's till young, so he'll mature gradually and learn to battle through rough spots.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Jones hitting 2nd, Nomar cleaning up tonight

I would definitely qualify tonight's lineup against the D-Backs as "quirky."

In another one of Joe Torre's lineup shufflings, he has Andruw Jones in the 2-hole, Nomar in the cleanup spot, Matt Kemp 7th, and Chin-lung Hu 8th. Jeff Kent gets the night off against the dangerous Dan Haren.

Should be an interesting game...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hitting (or not hitting) is contagious

What a night Monday was. The Dodgers came ready to play from the first pitch of the game. Rafael Furcal led off with a home run, Russell Martin was 3-3, Matt Kemp had 2 doubles, James Loney had 3 RBI, and Nomar Garciaparra hit his first home run of the year. Yup, it was quite the exciting night.

So of course that meant that the Dodgers would then revert back to their old ways 1 night later.

Up 1-0 in the 3rd inning from a Furcal RBI-double, it was all downhill from there as the Cincinnati Reds took the last game, 8-1. The Dodgers could only gather 5 hits, but did collect 6 walks. But, they then hit into 3 double plays. It was lousy, un-clutch hitting once again.

This was the kind of game you'd watch and just constantly roll your eyes at. Put a man on base? Good. Ground into inning-killing DP's? Bad. Hit 3 doubles? Good. Leave 4 runners in scoring position on with 2 outs? Bad. Allowing the other team to have 4, 2-out RBI? Bad. Lousy starting pitching? Bad. Striking out 9 times? Bad. Looking lifeless, clueless, and utterly pathetic for nearly the entire night? Bad, bad, bad.

Quite simply put, it was a pathetic effort from a pathetic team. The Dodgers are just incapable of stringing together solid innings and beating teams they should be beating. Instead, they are a free-swinging, low-hitting, completely beatable team. They are the worst team in the NL West and deserve to be there. Even the San Francisco Giants are better than them. That's really sad.

If the Dodgers ever want to prove they can be a contending team, then they need to man up and beat the Arizona Diamondbacks the next 2 games. It won't be easy with Dan Haren taking the mound tomorrow, but I don't care. They have to win a couple of big games in a row at some point. The next 2 days are the perfect time to do so.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Raffy and the Dodgers talking extension

I'm willing to look for any sort of good news after that horrific performance over the weekend in Atlanta. I think I just found it.

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Rafael Furcal and the Dodgers are willing to talk about extending his contract during the season. From what I've seen in the past, usually top stars would rather not be bothered talking during the season, instead opting to wait until its conclusion. This is definitely a good sign.

He's in the final year of his 3-year/$39 million contract, of which he is earning $13 million this year. Now that he's healthy, he is proving once again why he is one of the top SS in the league. Currently he has numbers of .391 AVG, .494 OBP, 8 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 4 SB. He's hit in the leadoff spot in every game and has been virtually the only sure thing in the Dodgers' lineup. His value is increasing with each game he plays.

I like the aggressive move of Ned Colletti to try and lock him up. Even with prospects like Chin-lung Hu and Tony Abreu waiting in the wings, Furcal is a legit All-Star and deserves a fat new contract. While Colletti has been criticized for giving big contracts to players like Juan Pierre and Jason Schmidt, signing Furcal would be met with open arms.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Braves own the Dodgers yet again

Here's some numbers to look at regarding the last 3 games in Atlanta:

3 runs
17 hits
20 K's
1-23 with RISP
52 runners left on base
23 runners left to end an inning

Now here's a look at how some of our "superstars" did:

Andre Ethier: 2-10, 2 K
Nomar Garciaparra: 0-8
Matt Kemp: 1-8, 2 K
Jeff Kent: 2-7, K
James Loney: 0-12, 5K
Russell Martin: 1-8, HR, 2 K
Andruw Jones: 2-8, HR, 5 K

So there you have it. They'd keep the game close early, but when it came time to get a big hit and take over, they looked helpless. The Braves totally outplayed them in every way imaginable. Plain and simple.

Needless to say, I'm embarrassed. In fact, this 3-game series was one of the most embarrassing series I can ever recall the Dodgers playing in recent memory, and that's saying something. They've lost before, but to look as lifeless and pathetic as they have is inexcusable.

Despite not being too sharp all game, Hiroki Kuroda tried his best to keep them in the game, and he only gave up 2 runs in 6 innings. That would normally be enough to win, but nope... not the Dodgers. Bad swing after bad swing after bad swing. I can't believe I once said that their lineup is "deep." Ya, they're deep enough to have everyone look terrible, not just certain guys.

So instead of sending a message to rest of the league that they are capable of beating good teams on the road, they are once again a complete laughingstock. I have a feeling Ned Colletti will start feeling the heat that his big free agent signings haven't done well, perhaps rightfully so. But what is forgotten is that people were screaming to keep the "young guys" and let them grow and develop. Well, he's kept them, and they suck right now. What's he supposed to do?

The Dodgers not only lose, but look unwatchable in the process. Thank God I'm a Lakers fan and I could just turn off the Dodgers game today. Like I said the other day, you can make changes to the front office and coaching staff, but it's up to the players to perform. They haven't done that in the least bit.

I sincerely hope each and every hitter walks up to not only Joe Torre but the entire pitching staff as well and apologizes for their pathetic performance. That's the least they can do.

Obviously I'm not involved with the team in any way, but I can honestly question their work ethic right now, because it sucks. Until they decide to change the way they approach the game, they will continue to be the most underachieving team in the league.

Gosh, what a great start to the season...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Another sad offensive effort

Here we go again.

It seems like everytime the Dodgers go to Atlanta, they suck. No matter who's playing on each team, they look like they are not even in the Braves' league. Today, they proved once again that they are not.

Despite putting the first batter on base in 7 of the 9 innings, the Dodgers could only score 1 lousy freakin' run. 1. That's it. It's unreal the different amount of ways that they can turn something positive into a negative so quickly. But that's our Dodgers for ya.

Seriously, just think about that for a second. If you were told before the game that your team would get the initial runner on base 7 times, wouldn't you think they'd have at least a few runs scored? Nope, not the Dodgers! That would be the easy way to do things. They like to do things the hard way. Grounding into 3 double plays while leaving 16 total men on base (5 to end the inning) is a recipe for a big, fat L. That's what they deserve.

I know I know I know, it's only April, but excuse me if it's "Deja vu all over again" for me. It seems like every damn year the Dodgers get really good pitching, but are let down time and time again by a pathetic offense. Looks like the same old typical Dodger BS again this year.

Chad Billingsley gets the loss, but I can't blame him. He struck out 9 before the floodgates were opened in the 5th. He was constantly having to make perfect pitches, because God forbid his team score some runs for him. So pretty much, the only way he was going to win was to be... well, perfect. He was for awhile, but ran into too much trouble eventually. Don't blame him for this loss, blame the team surrounding him.

Rafeal Furcal (2-4) and Andruw Jones (1-1, HR, 2 BB, RBI) were the only positives in this game. Nomar Garciaparra started at 3rd and for some strange reason hit #6, and responded with an 0-4 and an error. Great game! Russell Martin got the day off, and his backup Gary Bennett proved why he is a backup with an 0-2 before being lifted late in the game.

Here's the bottom line: blame Joe Torre, blame Ned Colletti, blame the coaches, blame the entire Dodgers' organization if you want. It's the responsibility of the players that are put on the field to produce, and right now they are not. That's why unless something drastic changes, they will continue to be mediocre, a letdown, and not even sniff the playoffs.

Hiroki Kuroda starts tomorrow against some guy on the Braves I've never heard of. Then again, the last 2 games the Braves have thrown nobodies up there and won. Think the Dodgers have 1 good game in them before going to Cincinnati? We shall see...

Jones dominates in Atlanta

There he was, one of the best Braves players of all-time, jacking 2 home runs en route to a 6-1 route. Once again, Jones has proven to be a superstar in this league and someone who can carry his team to a division title.

Now, you didn't think I was talking about Andruw Jones, were you? Of course not!

Last night belonged to Chipper Jones, with his .455 AVG, 6 HR, 18 RBI. It's amazing how well he still produces despite suffering injuries all over his body the last few years. He really is a pleasure to watch.

The same cannot be said about the Dodgers' version of Jones. Andruw did reach base twice at 1-3 with a walk and a run, but his average is still a paltry .167 with 0 HR and 2 RBI. So that pretty much means that at this pace, he'll end up with 20 RBI's on the season. There's a funny poll up on the Dodgers' website asking how many RBI's you think he'll have this year, and the lowest one of "Fewer than 70" is by far winning out. I think they should change the poll to "Fewer than 20." I think I'd vote for that one.

Still, it's not like the rest of the team did any better. They could only muster 5 hits, and nobody had more than 1. James Loney saw his hitting streak end at 15. Nomar started again and went 0-4. I could go over more stats, but what's the point? They were awful.

Derek Lowe struggling with his control all night, only throwing for 58 strikes out of 101 pitches. He took the loss at 4.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 2 K. That was the Bad Lowe. Hong-Chih Kuo actually finished up the 5th inning for some strange reason. He was also told that he's going to start in Cincinnati on Tuesday. I guess he can do it all.

Chad Billingsley will look to build off of his impressive performance against the Padres by taking on Chuck James today. James was recalled from Triple-A to make the start after Tom Glavine was placed on the DL for the FIRST TIME in his 22-year career. Wow. Talk about durability. It's a Fox game, and since I'm in New York, it'll be Mets and Phillies for me. Enjoy it for those than can see it.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

4-run 1st buries the Pirates

For once, it was nice to see the Dodgers jump on a team from the get-go.

After being victimized by allowing 1st inning runs way too often this year, it was the Dodgers who hung up a 4-spot and then 2 more in the 2nd for a quick 6-0 lead. It was cruise control after that as the Dodgers collected 15 hits for the victory, 8-1.

All of the great hitting aside, it was Brad Penny who looked like his old self. He finished at 5.2 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K. After coming into the game with a 1.61 WHIP, he surrendered 0 walks, finally gaining his pinpoint control back. Granted, the Pirates aren't exactly the world's greatest hitting team, but still. I was a little surprised he was taken out of the game in the 6th, but it's still early in the season. He'll have bigger games to pitch as the year goes on. Of his 87 pitches, 62 were for strikes. Good stuff.

Just like last game, it was the top of the order that got the job done. This time, it was Rafael Furcal, Russell Martin, Matt Kemp, and Jeff Kent that went 10-17, 6 R, HR, 4 RBI. That includes a perfect night for Furcal, going 4-4 and raising his average to .407. It's amazing what a healthy Raffy can do. James Loney now has the hitting streak at 15 games with a single in the 7th. He had 2 sac-fly RBI's earlier in the game.

Perhaps the most interesting night belonged to Matt Kemp. He got the scoring started with an RBI single in the 1st. Then when Jeff Kent singled into right, scoring Martin, Kemp tried to go to 3rd and was hung up. Somehow, he was able to dip underneath the tag and make it to 3rd. Really athletic play, although he should have been a dead duck. He also threw a perfect strike to Martin to gun Xavier Nady at the plate to end the 2nd. Quite the eventful night.

Nomar Garciaparra found his way back into the lineup, and was 1-2 with 2 BB. He also committed an error later in the game. It's good to see him back, but I can only hope that Blake DeWitt is not forgotten about. He has played pretty well himself.

The Dodgers get a travel day on Thursday before a 3-game set with the Atlanta Braves starts Friday. Derek Lowe gets the ball and will look to continue his great pitching.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

With Nomar back, Troncoso optioned

I speculated on who would be sent down once Nomar Garciaparra was activated earlier today. And the winner (well, loser) is... Ramon Troncoso.

He was one of the few guys I mentioned, and his 9.53 ERA was most likely the deciding factor in the end. It's certainly not the end of the line for him, as he's only 25. He pitched scoreless ball in his first 4 appearances covering 3.2 innings, but was roughed up for 6 runs in his last 2 innings.

It's not like Triple-A Las Vegas is the best place to improve your numbers pitching, but with the Dodgers crazy injury history, if he can prove he can keep the ball down and get outs, he'll be back.

Nomar will be back on Friday

*** UPDATE ***

I guess we all were wrong about Nomar's return date, because he's playing 3rd base and hitting in the #7 spot tonight. In fact, he just drew a walk in his 1st AB of the year.


Nomar Garciaparra will return from the DL on Friday and join the Dodgers in Atlanta. He has been sitting out since March 7 when St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Kyle McClellen beaned him in the right hand. After initially thinking it would be a day-to-day injury, it turned out to be 5 weeks. Coincidentally, this was the same game that Andy LaRoche was hurt and lost for 2 months. Rough day.

Now that Nomar will be back, 2 questions will be asked: 1) What will happen to Blake DeWitt? 2) Who will be optioned to the minors? First things first, I firmly believe that DeWitt will remain with the big club. He's hitting .261 with 5 RBI and a stolen base. However, he has been praised for his slick glove work, which is the most important thing. Heck, the guy had his hometown of Sikeston, MO name the month of April in his honor. How can you send him down now?

Since I don't believe it'll be DeWitt to get optioned, that brings us to question #2. As of now, both Esteban Loaiza and Chan Ho Park are the long relievers, so one of them could get sent back. After Loaiza's sparkling performance last night, it would have to be Park if either of the 2 are sent back down. Another option is Ramon Troncoso, who's given up 6 runs in 5.2 innings for a 9.53 ERA. His days could be numbered.

My take is that DeWitt should absolutely NOT be sent back down. He has played his way to at least a platoon player for the time being. If the Dodgers are that high on Troncoso, then it should be Park. They really don't need 2 long relievers considering their starting staff is capable of pitching deep into games each night.

Kuo and Loaiza tag team for win

Hong-Chih Kuo started off the game as a lost man that could not find the strike zone to save his life. With 2 outs and 1 runner on 1st, he walked the next 3 hitters to force in a run. After the fiasco the night before, it was not the best way to start the game. Fortunately, he K'd Jose Bautista to end the inning.

From there, it was all Dodgers. Down 1-0 in the 4th, they finally struck for 3 runs thanks to an Andre Ethier 2-run double and a single by James Loney. The 5th inning saw more big offense: run scoring single by Rafael Furcal, an RBI triple by Matt Kemp, and a 3-run shot launched by Jeff Kent. Russell Martin chipped in with his 1st homer of the season in the 8th to take the game, 11-2. Loney's hitting streak is now at 14 games, or every game to start the season.

The Dodgers certainly like to score in bunches - either it's a lot, or very little. The first 4 hitters in the order of Furcal, Kemp, Ethier, and Kent went 8-16, 8 R, HR, 2 2B, 3B, 7 RBI, 2 SB. Yes, I'd say that would qualify as a productive night. It took them 4 innings to get going, but once Matt Morris got through the order once, the onslaught began.

Andruw Jones went 2-3 with 2 runs, a walk, and a double. His average has now soured to... .149. Hey, it was .100 going into the Pittsburgh series. Is he finally breaking out of his slump? Well, he needs to show more of the power he's shown the last 2 games (triple and double) and possibly sprinkle in a home run to show that he's legit.

After Kuo's rough start, he was great. He ended at 4 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K. He did not get the win, however. That went to Esteban Loaiza, who relieved and ended up pitching the rest of the game: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K. Maybe Torre was throwing Loaiza a bone since he wasn't too happy about being demoted to the bullpen. The funny thing is that he ended up getting the win anyway. This was more likely a case of building up Kuo's arm strength more than anything else. It's not like he'll only pitch 4 innings the rest of the year. It was an encouraging game all around.

Brad Penny takes the ball in the final game of the series against Paul Maholm. Penny's ERA is a respectable 3.86, but he really has not been sharp at all this season. His 1.61 WHIP would suggest that he's lucky to not have a sky-high ERA. He'll look to right the ship tonight.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Kershaw watch continues

Switching my attention to the farm for a minute, Clayton Kershaw will make his 3rd start of the season tonight in Jacksonville against the Carolina Mud Cats. He's actually 0-2 right now, but has a 3.38 ERA, and most impressively, 12 K's in 8 IP. He'll look to get on the winning track tonight.

On a side note, I've finally figured out how to get that damn audio player to work. If you don't remember what I'm talking about, go back to my last post about Kershaw and you'll see my rant...

Anyway, this is only for those with Windows Vista. If you don't have that, you can stop reading right now. Ok, so when you click on the link to listen and the audio player pops up in a separate window, you then have to go to the bottom where it says "Protected Mode: On" Double click on that and the Internet Security window will pop up. Go to where it says "Enable Protected Mode" and make sure the box is NOT checked. Hit Ok, refresh the player (hit F5) and you should be ok.

Go to this page, scroll down to the Carolina/Jacksonville game, choose which radio broadcast you'd like, and you're all good.

Blown save, blown opportunity

It's times like this that Joe Torre may be questioning his desire to move on from the Yankees.

Given a 4-3 lead in the 9th inning, and facing the 6-7-8 hitters in the Pittsburgh Pirates' lineup, Takashi Saito could not slam the door shut as Nate McLouth hit a 3-run shot to take a 6-4 lead. The Dodgers had a chance to make some noise, but the top 3 in the order of Rafael Furcal, Andre Ethier, and Matt Kemp could not reach base.

The Dodgers were scratching and clawing all game long to get a lead from the Pirates after Jose Bautista launched a 2-run homer into left field in the 1st for a quick 2-0 lead. It was back-and-forth until the 7th when the Dodgers took a 4-3 lead thanks to RBI singles by James Loney and Blake DeWitt. It wouldn't be enough, though.

Hiroki Kuroda settled down after a rough first inning for another good start. He finished at 6 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 2 K. That should be good enough to win from the #4 starter, especially considering the Pirates are supposed to suck. But, credit goes to Zach Duke, who worked around 8 hits and 2 walks in 6 innings to only surrender 3 runs. Once again, the Dodgers are their own worst enemy, leaving 15 men on base, and 8 to end an inning. No matter who you play, that's just not going to get it done.

2 struggling players may have seen some light at the end of the tunnel. Russell Martin hit #6 and was 2-4 with a run. But here's the shocking part... Anduw Jones hit a TRIPLE. Yes, you read that right. He also had an RBI groundout. He seems like the key to all of this runners left on base problems. If he had been hitting from the get-go, I would think they'd have a better record. Actually, they definitely would have a better record. They need his bat big time.

I'll give a mulligan to Saito because it's not like he blows many saves. It's more of a rarity to see that happen to him. He'll be fine. Still, it's a bad loss to blow a lead at home against one of the worst teams in the league. In the packed NL West, games cannot be handed away like that, plain and simple.

Hong-Chih Kuo will get the ball tonight instead of struggling Esteban Loaiza against Matt Morris. This could mean the return of Juan Pierre to get the righty-lefty matchup, and since Matt Kemp was only 1-5 last night.

Monday, April 14, 2008


I haven't seen one of these lately, so it's good that it's back. The topics this time are the status of prospect Scott Elbert, why Terry Tiffee hasn't been called up to fill the 3rd base hole, why Clayton Kershaw went to Double-A and not Triple-A, and what's up with Yhency Brazoban.

Here you go.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Kuo takes Loaiza's spot in the rotation

Joe Torre has announced that Hong-Chi Kuo will start the 2nd game of the upcoming series against the Pirates in place of Esteban Loaiza. Loaiza will go to the bullpen for the time being.

The move makes sense for a couple of reasons: 1) Kuo is the only lefty in the rotation, and it's nice to have at least 1. 2) Kuo has yet to give up a run in 6.2 innings this year, while Loaiza is sporting a 6.75 ERA. Even though Loaiza only made 1 start, that was enough to prompt the change in Torre's mind.

To be honest, I could probably list another reason, in that Kuo is just better. Loaiza pitched well enough in the Spring to earn the job, but it's not like he was the clear-cut winner. He was just good enough. Because of recurring arm problems, Kuo is not the type to pitch in consecutive days, so as long as he can make quality starts, he'll probably be kept there. Sucks for Loaiza, but it's not that surprising.

For now, Kuo will slide into the #5 spot in the rotation in between Hiroki Kuroda and Brad Penny.

That can of whoop ass has now been slammed shut

After watching last night's ballgame, one would think that the Dodgers have finally busted loose on the offensive end. My oh my were we wrong.

Greg Maddux was simply awesome today, 2-hitting the Dodgers over 5 innings, and 4 other pitchers came in to blank them and win, 1-0. 5 lousy hits was all they could muster all game long. So much for finding their groove offensively.

What should not be forgotten in all of this is how great Chad Billingsley was. He also went 5 innings, giving up 1 run on 4 hits, and K'ing an impressive 8. He let a couple of guys reach in the 1st inning, but settled down after that. His only blemish was in the 4th, when Jim Edmonds scored on a Paul McAnulty sac-fly. That's it. Considering how rocky Bills has been lately, this is a great sign for the future.

At no point during the game did the Dodgers even put 2 men on base in the same inning. That's pretty bad, but give Maddux and the rest credit - it's not like they're a bunch of stiffs. They're actually pretty darn good. Still, on a day where the Dodgers only yielded 1 run, you would think they could score 2 at some point. I guess not.

Juan Pierre got another start in the #2 hole today, and went 1-4. It's not like anybody else was hitting either, so it doesn't matter. Andruw Jones was 0-2 with 2 K's and a walk. I'm not even going to waste time talking about him. It's all rehash at this point.

Trevor Hoffman got the save, but ran into some trouble yet again. With 2 outs, Jeff Kent doubled. Russell Martin had a chance to be a hero, and came close, flying out to deep right. It's a good thing he swung the bat because if he reached base without Kent scoring, Jones would have just struck out to end the game anyway, so it's good that Martin tried to win it on his own. That's how much confidence I have right now in the big, free agent savior for the offense that would drive in all sorts of runs with is power. Ya, that's really paid off so far.

The Dodgers stay home for 3 games against the Pittsburgh Pirates starting Monday. After on off day on Thursday, they will hit the road across country to hook up with the Atlanta Braves.

The bats break open a can of whoop ass

Last night's game started off like many of the other loses have - with a run scored by the opposing team in the 1st. This time, Scott "Not Jerry" Hairston led off with a triple, and came around on Adrian Gonzalez' RBI double. It was that "Here we go again" feeling. Except that's where all of the damage stopped.

Rafael Furcal promptly smacked a leadoff home run, and the onslaught was on. After getting another run on a Russell Martin single, the Dodgers scored 7 more in the 3rd and 4th innings, highlighted by 2 unlikely sources: Blake DeWitt and Derek Lowe. DeWitt hit 2 doubles and Lowe drove in 3 thanks to a Chris Young error and a single. When it rains, it pours.

Andre Ethier made my praise of him in yesterday's fantasy column look pretty darn good. He smacked a 2-run homer, a double, scored 3 times, and had a sweet sliding grab in left. Matt Kemp didn't get the start, but he pinch-hit and had a home run. Perhaps most shocking is that Juan Pierre took a walk! No, seriously, he did. James Loney continued his hitting streak (11 games) by going 3-3 with 2 walks. He's locked in.

Now here's your Andruw Jones update: 0-3, but 3 runs scored and 2 walks. Baby steps I tell ya, baby steps. Here's a nice article where he swears his weight isn't the issue for why he's sucking so bad right now. He just has no rhythm. I'm guessing it might be a little of both.

Much like the Peavy-Penny game from Friday, this pitching matchup didn't really materialize the way people thought, but not because of Lowe. Young continued his shaky play against the Dodgers by giving up 6 ER in 3 IP. He also walked 4, hit poor Chin-lung Hu, and gave up 2 jacks. He seems to be brilliant against everybody else, but does nothing against LA. Lowe was fantastic at 8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K. After the 1st inning, he only allowed 2 more hits. He should be 3-0 right now if he got any sort of run support in the first 2 games, which is probably why he took matter into his own hands and drove in some runs.

Jeff Kent was given the night off, and after Friday's game, I can't blame them. This is a perfect chance for Hu to prove his worth, because it looks as if Torre will rest Kent 1-2 times a week. Smart move. I still love Kent, but 40 is 40, and keeping him fresh is the right thing to do.

The rubber game will see Chad Billingsley try to shake off his rocky beginning to '08 by going against future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux. Bills was bombed in his last start in Arizona, and has yet to even pitch 3 innings in any game. He's obviously much better than that, so hopefully he can start finding his comfort zone and pitch more like the up-and-comer that he is.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Fantasy impact of the outfield jumble

Over at, Brendan Roberts has a great article looking at the Pierre-Kemp-Ethier situation. He makes a detailed case that Pierre is the one who will end up with more AB's once the season is over, despite supposedly losing his starting job once Spring Training ended. He could very well be right.

The main argument is that Pierre is a "Torre guy" because of a couple of reasons: 1) He's a veteran with a proven track record. 2) He causes trouble on the bases. Again, both good points. While fantasy owners don't like it, here is a perfect case where team needs in real life differ from what fantasy heads are thinking.

The final prediction was that Kemp will end up with more AB's than Ethier, which is not the case currently. Roberts didn't seem all that enamored with Ethier, but liked Kemp. Time will tell.

In my mind, what hurts Kemp the most when it comes to getting PT is that he's a righty and Pierre is a lefty, so Pierre will get more chances to start based on matchups. If Kemp didn't have the reputation of zoning out too many times, this may not be an issue. Unfortunately, it does. I've had plenty of negative things to stay about Pierre going into the season, but I'll be the first to admit that games like last night against Peavy and the Padres is what he's capable of doing.

I'm higher on Ethier than Roberts is, maybe because I think he has more potential to be a good hitter. But, even I would have a hard time arguing that he has more upside than Kemp, because Kemp has more power and speed. One thing I did predict correctly prior to Opening Day was that all 3 would see their fair share of playing time, because none of them is bad enough to simply be taken out of the equation altogether. Look for that to continue.

Despite hitting Peavy, Dodgers still fall

On a night where Jake Peavy was not his normal, dominant self, the Dodgers could not get a quality start from Brad Penny as they lost 7-5. Peavy gave up 9 hits and 2 walks in 6 innings, but only 3 runs. Why couldn't the Dodgers score? You guessed it... 17 MEN LEFT ON BASE.

Penny was wild yet again: 6 IP, 10 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K. He threw 119 pitches, which would normally be more than enough to get into the 8th-9th inning, but not last night. Constantly getting behind on hitters, he had zero command of the strike zone. Even in the 1st start of the season against the Giants, he wasn't sharp. They need their #1 starter to get back on track.

The good news was that there were plenty of hits, lead by Rafael Furcal (3-3, 3 R, 2 BB) and Juan Pierre (3-4, 2 R, SB), both hitting in the first 2 spots. Pierre got another controversial start over Matt Kemp, but he did produce very well. Now this is the Pierre they signed for last year - to hit in the #2 hole behind Furcal and wreak havoc on the base paths. With Chris Young and Greg Maddux, both righties, starting this weekend, he'll probably get at least 1 more start. Like it or not, even I have to admit that he played well last night.

I'll bet you'll never guess who didn't play well, though. That's right... good old Andruw Jones. Now bumped down to the #7 spot behind Russell Martin (who was 2-3 with a walk), he went 0-4 with a K, including a pop-up to start the bottom of the 9th. He looks absolutely, positively lost right now. He can't possibly be that bad, can he? It didn't take long for the fans to boo the hell out of him. Can't blame them, honestly.

James Loney hit a nice shot to left, and came close to hitting another one off of the always nasty Heath Bell in the 8th. He now has hit safely in all 10 games. Jeff Kent had a rough night, topped off with a swinging K from Trevor Hoffman to end the game with the bases loaded. He'll be fine.

Chris Young takes the hill against Derek Lowe today. Just like Peavy-Penny, it's a rematch from last weekend in San Diego, won by Lowe. Esteban Loaiza was originally listed as the starter for Sunday, but Chad Billingsley will instead get the ball. 2 more big games this weekend.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Kershaw K's 8 in 5 innings, but takes the loss

The big matchup between Dodgers' prospect Clayton Kershaw and Cubs' prospect Jeff Samardzija turned out to most likely be a glimpse into the future. While Kershaw was awesome with a line of 5 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, Samardzija was actually a little better, getting the win with 7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K. 2 quick runs in the 1st inning was all Samardzija's Tennessee Smokies needed for the 2-0 win.

I would love to say that I enjoyed every minute listening to the broadcast, but I can't. That's because my damn computer wouldn't connect to the streaming audio. So check this out. I have a Dell Inspiron E1505 that I bought in April of 2007 with Windows Vista installed. You would think that with brand new technology like this, listening to Internet radio would be a breeze. Instead, the connection never worked, the Internet connection would come and go, and I was locked out. Think about how many times there's a minor league game between 2 big-name pitchers. Probably not too often, but tonight was one of them. Could I listen to it? Of course not!

I hate computers.

Listen to Clayton Kershaw's start tonight

For those of you that like to follow what is going on down on the farm, here's an interesting link for y'all. lets you listen to all sorts of games free of charge. By registering your email and a password, you're locked in.

Tonight, Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers' blue chip prospect, will take the ball for the Double-A Jacksonville Suns. Now here's the interesting part - his opponent will be Jeff Samardzija, the former standout wide receiver for Notre Dame. That's a pretty good matchup.

Gametime is at 7:15 ET.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Dodgers swept away in Arizona

All of that momentum the Dodgers gained by taking 2 of 3 from the Giants and Padres has quickly faded away.

The Arizona Diamondbacks completed a 3-game sweep at home against the Dodgers this afternoon, 4-3. The Dodgers had leads of 1-0 and 3-2, but could not hold onto them. 3 of the DBack's 4 runs scored were with 2 outs.

Hiroki Kuroda gets charged with the loss, but it's hard to pin the blame on him when his final line was 5.2 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K. 9 hits is too many, but a horrible throwing error by James Loney in the 4th made those numbers look worse. For the most part, I thought he was pretty good.

Nope, the real blame (and I'll bet you'll never guess where I'm going with this!) is placed squarely on the shoulders of the hitters. Yet again, they fail to push runs across the plate. 15 more men left on base. Yup, that would be 35 RUNNERS LEFT ON BASE THE LAST 2 GAMES. That's just plain pathetic. The 3-4-5 hitters of Andre Ethier, Jeff Kent, and James Loney left 9 total. Great, clutch hitting, boys.

Andruw Jones was mercifully given the day off today, and Juan"ting to be traded" Pierre started in his place. Hey, at least Pierre was 2-3, including getting the 1st run of the day on a double. I'll give credit where credit is due - at least he finally got a hit. Maybe there really are snowball fights in hell after all! Then there's Jones, who pinch-hit and got single! Wow! Amazing!...

... Of course he came crashing back to Earth when he struck out to end the game. Bet you never saw that one coming! Have I mentioned how awful he's been this year? Well, he has been.

Look, I know I'm being pretty over-the-top here, but I can't help and keep thinking that this is the "same old Dodgers" every game. Their pitching is good, but the hitting is just pitiful. They have to scratch and claw for EVERY RUN, yet other teams take a could of hacks and they score with ease. I can't blame Joe Torre for trying new lineups, but at some point, the hitters just have to step up and produce. They sure as hell aren't right now.

They now have to come home to face San Diego, and unfortunately that means Jake Peavy, Chris Young, and Greg Maddux. They won't beat Peavy unless he gets food poisoning, resulting in nausea and severe stomach cramps (and he'll probably still only give up 2 runs in 8 innings). They beat Young last week thanks to Derek Lowe, so hopefully that will happen again. Maddux could be the man to beat... but Esteban Loaiza starts that day, so no dice.

At least they get to play the Pirates soon.

Billingsley can't shake early wildness

Another game, and another early hole that the Dodgers could not dig out of. For the 2nd game in a row, the Arizona Diamondbacks scored in the 1st inning (4 in Game 1, 3 in Game 2). Even with a few runs scored at the end, it was way too little, way too late, as the Dodgers fell, 10-5.

Chad Billingsley got the start, and did pretty much nothing right. His final line was 2.1 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 2 HBP. Yuck. Out of his 70 pitches, only 32 were strikes. Again, yuck. After retiring the first 2 batters, it was all downhill from there. Bad location and getting behind of nearly every hitter spelled doom for him.

Now, one can make the case that he should be given a mulligan since his first start was disrupted by rain last week against the Giants. I can understand that to a point, but even with that said, he was still pretty awful last night. His next start will come at home against either the Padres or Pirates, 2 teams that don't exactly hit the cover off of the ball. Hopefully he'll get back on track.

The offense, yet again, was a big disappointment. The only time they did anything was when they were down 5-0 and 9-2. Yes, the pitching was bad, but it's not like the hitting ever did anything to show that they could get back into the game. It's starting to really get annoying.

True, they did score 5 runs, but do you want to guess how many people they left on base? 20! TWENTY RUNNERS LEFT ON BASE. That's completely embarrassing in every way possible. The only starter who did not leave anyone on was Matt Kemp, who went 3-5 hitting in the #2 hole. At least SOMEONE did well.

And how did Andruw Jones do? 0-3 with a walk and K. Brilliant. He's now down to .103 on the year. Like I said yesterday, it's looking more and more like last year's numbers were the real deal and not a fluke. It's not like he doesn't have chances to hit anybody in. There were 20 men left on base for crying out loud! The DBacks hit a 3-run shot in the 1st inning with 2 out. Why can't the Dodgers ever do that?

Needless to say, it was another bad loss, but they are still 4-4. If there's something positive to take away from this, it's that DBacks starter Doug Davis pitched very well in his last start before getting surgery for thyroid cancer. No matter which team you might root for, you have to root for him. Good luck, Doug. Hope to see you back soon. Just take it easy on the Dodgers next time.

The Dodgers will try to salvage the series in an afternoon game today, and Hiroki Kuroda will try to get some momentum back. He pitched great last time, and they really need another effort like that again. Because, you know, it's not like they'll hit a home run or anything to get a nice lead. Not gonna happen!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Andruw Jones needs to step up

This was supposed to be Andruw Jones' comeback year. A year in which he was going to prove to all of the doubters that last year was a fluke and he is still an All-Star caliber player.

Instead, he's looking more and more like the miserable hitter he was last year.

After Monday night's game in Arizona, he is now 3-26 on the season for a .115 AVG. He's only taken 2 walks, so it's not like he's finding other ways to get on base. The season started with him hitting in the #5 spot, and now he's been moved down to #6. None of it seems to matter.

Going into the offseason, Jones was reportedly looking for a long-term deal, somewhere in the 7-year range for mega-bucks. Instead, he settled on a 2-year deal to try and shake off last year's mediocre numbers. The thinking at the time was that he would do whatever is necessary to prove that he is one of the best outfielders in the league all over again.

And then there were reports that he came into Spring Training overweight. He said he was fine, but others disagreed. Not exactly the best way to start the comeback trail.

Now there's his performance at the plate, which has been flat out embarrassing to say the least. Take a look at his 4 AB's last night: grounded out to 3rd, K swinging, grounded into a fielder's choice, and K swinging. The Dodgers' offense is already weak enough, but when their so-called "big free agent signing" is doing a big pile of nothing at the plate, it's really hard to win games, no matter how good the pitching may be.

It's still too early to call the Jones signing a bust, but it's not too early to at least talk about it. He's played his way into that talk. He has yet to hit a home run, only has 1 RBI, and is tied for the team lead in K's at 8. Rather than leading the team to a new level offensively, he's making last year's team look better.

What is Joe Torre to do? He's already faced with 2 other struggling outfielders in Matt Kemp (3-17, .176) and Juan Pierre (1-15, .067), so it's not like he other people are covering for Jones' mistakes. Does he sit him down for a day or 2? Hard to do when looking at those other numbers. The options are limited.

The bottom line is that Jones needs to step up and play ball, and fast. The National League West is way too competitive of a division to have much room to mess around. It's hard to believe they're over .500 at 4-3 right now, and they have their pitching to thank for that. Yes, it's a long season, but when you are brought in to be the big dog, you have to show your bite.

Plenty of games and plenty of at-bats remain, but Jones needs to regain his focus, maybe actually get in shape, and be a team leader. If he plays like he did last year, the Dodgers will be going nowhere once again this year.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Thank you, Mr. Hu

Chin-lung Hu got his first start of the season at 2nd base when Jeff Kent was given the day off. For his first 3 at-bats, he did a big pile of nothing. Then when the Dodgers needed him the most, he came through.

Going into the 9th inning tied at 2 apiece, the Padres called on closer Trevor Hoffman to keep things right where they were. Facing the bottom part of the order, Russell Martin was able to coax a leadoff walk. After Blake DeWitt got him over to 2nd, Hu stepped up and just managed to land one inside of the left field line and in front of Scott Hairston. Takashi Saito got the Pads in order to end the game, 3-2.

A day after getting creamed by Jake Peavy (I wonder if that substance on his hand had anything to do with it? Hmm.....), Chris Young was pretty good himself. Andre Ethier launched the 2nd homer of the season for the Dodgers in the 2nd inning for a 1-0 lead. Yes, that really is 2 home runs in 6 games. Ugh. Anyway, an Adrian Gonzalez double in the 4th tied it up.

Each team was able to tack on 1 more run, although Martin's throwing error helped their cause. The Dodgers had a chance in the 8th to take a lead when Rafael Furcal lead off with a single, stole 2nd, then advanced to 3rd with 1 out. But, Andruw Jones and Ethier could not plate him.

Both starting pitchers were really good. Derek Lowe went 6 innings and gave up 2 runs (1 earned), while Chris Young went 7 and 2. Scott Proctor and Joe Beimel got an out each, and Jonathan Broxton became the winner with 1.1 IP and no runs.

About the only annoying thing about today was that Juan Pierre not only started, but hit leadoff. The result? 0-4. If Joe Torre is reading this, I would like to say the following. Look, I know you like giving veterans a chance to play, but for the love of God, Pierre has done NOTHING this year to prove he should start over anybody else. Just put Ethier, Jones, and Matt Kemp in and leave it alone. Pierre has played his way out of contention in my mind.

Now that I have that off of my chest, the Dodgers deserve credit for getting 2 big wins in this series. They had to grind one out today, but when a big hit was absolutely needed to win, they got it from a rookie. I'll take that.

Esteban Loaiza will get his first start of the year tomorrow in Arizona. He will be up against... Dan Haren. Gee, I bet he's thankful for that.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Dodgers get Peavy'd

Jake Peavy is awesome.

That's really all I have to say. He is worth every penny they pay him. He struck out the first 3 hitters of the game (all swinging). The first hit for the Dodgers didn't even come until the 4th, when Rafael Furcal led off with a triple (hey, at least SOMEONE got a hit). There was absolutely nothing else going for the Dodgers' offense.

It's hard to get too down on LA since Peavy is in the top 2-3 pitchers in today's game. But it still would have been nice to see them put up at least a little bit more of a fight. Like I said, Furcal hit a triple with no outs, but the only reason he scored was on an error by catcher Josh Bard. James Loney doubled with 1 out in the 4th, but neither Jeff Kent of Andre Ethier could score him.

I said this in a previous post, but Russell Martin needs to be moved out of the #2 spot. He was 0-4 today, and his at-bats looked like this: K swinging, pop out to catcher, K swinging, and grounded into a double play. That may be his worst offensive game as a Dodger in his career. He'll come around eventually, but they need better production than 1-19 at the top of the order.

Brad Penny certainly did not look good at all to start the game. The Padres torched him for 6 singles and a sac fly in the 1st for 4 runs. After that he was fine, only giving up 4 more hits and no runs the next 5 innings, but the damage was done.

Facing Peavy was hard enough, and it doesn't get much easier tomorrow when they go against Chris Young. Derek Lowe will oppose him, and a win by the Dodgers would be a big step in the right direction, which would mean taking 2 of 3 in San Diego. It'll be a big early season matchup to watch.

Quick Helms update

Looks like Wes Helms will not be on his way to LA. With the great play of Blake DeWitt, the Dodgers are either no longer willing to bring him in, or are just waiting to see if there's a better deal out there. Still, it's a tremendous compliment to DeWitt that after just 4 games, he's managed to squash this talk. Good for him.

What's the best lineup so far?

4 games into the 2008 season, the Dodgers are a solid 3-1 after last night's shellacking of the San Diego Padres. While they did put up a 7 spot, their offense has yet to really get going. They can thank their great pitching for the record they have thus far.

Some interesting numbers pop up when looking at team stats. They are 9th in AVG (.267) and 4th in OBP (.364) in the entire majors, which are great numbers. But, they only have 1 HR, 4 2B, and 0 3B, leading to a 21st ranking in runs scored (16). The lack of clutch, power hitting has shown. A closer look at their numbers shows that they are hitting only .221 in innings 1-6, but to their credit, have hit much higher at .356 in innings 7+.

Here's what I believe to be their best lineup to give them a chance to consistently score runs:

1) Rafael Furcal - SS
Raffy looks like a new man this year, thanks in large part to being knick knack injury free. He's getting on base, has a couple of doubles, and is patient enough to draw walks. Opposing teams would much rather see Juan Pierre to start the game than Furcal. He is their leader.

2) Andre Ethier - LF
Maybe it's just the Tony LaRussa in me, but I like the idea of seeing a power hitter in the 2-hole. Ethier is not the type of person that will lay down a bunt to move a runner along (maybe he could, but that's not his game). But, he can drive the ball all over the park to get Furcal in.

3) James Loney - 1B
I was a little hesitant to put a young guy like Loney in such an important spot, but he's a good enough hitter to handle it. He won't be a huge power threat, but the guy can just flat out hit. In my mind, it doesn't matter what kinds of hits he's getting - if he hits, all the better.

4) Jeff Kent - 2B
The old-timer is still Mr. Consistency at the plate. He's patient, will wait for his pitch to drive, and won't give away too many at-bats. He'll have his share of injury problems, but when he's in there, he's still feared.

5) Andruw Jones - CF
Jones has yet to get going, and still looks like he's trying to find his swing, much like last year with Atlanta. If he does get going, he's an instant switch with Kent. Out of all of the players in this lineup, he is the biggest home run threat.

6) Matt Kemp - RF
Another guy who looks a little lost at the plate right now, he could easily move up when he's hitting. Once he takes the Loney approach and stops acting like every pitch can be hit out of the park, he'll pick up his play. Still, he's a great guy in this spot of the order to either keep rallies going or to start new ones.

7) Russell Martin - C
He could just as easily be the 2-hitter, but I think he's better lower. To me, he looks like all of the praise heaped on him is starting to mess with his head to start the year. Put him lower and take the pressure off of him. Let him worry about catching instead of hitting so high in the order.

8) Blake DeWitt - 3B
It's been great watching this kid play. He's definitely making the most of his opportunity. He can hit and show the patience to take a walk, which is great for a young player. Even when Nomar and LaRoche come back, he's putting himself in a position to be a factor all throughout the year.

Kuroda dazzles in MLB debut

Hiroki Kuroda signed a 3-year, $35.3 million deal in the offseason to provide the Dodgers stability in the bottom of their rotation. So far, so good.

Kuroda was awesome in his big league debut, going 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K to simply overwhelm the San Diego Padres. He only threw 77 pitches, with 53 of them for strikes. The only blemish was a solo shot by Brian Giles in the 6th. It's hard to ask for a better start than he had tonight.

As for the rest of the team, the bats were looking dead again for the first 6 innings. And then came the 7th, where they unloaded. After Matt Kemp grounded out to start, Joe Thatcher, who took over for starter Justin Germano to start the inning, walked Blake DeWitt, Kuroda, and Rafael Furcal to load the bases. Russell Martin, 0 for his first 13, finally got on track with a big 2-run single to start the onslaught. RBI's by James Loney, Andre Ethier, and Andruw Jones (with Chin-lung Hu scoring on a wild pitch wedged in between) rounded out the scoring.

In another odd sight, Chad Billingsley came out of the bullpen to pitch 2 scoreless innings to end the game. It's odd because he's the #3 starter, but with his 1st start completely thrown off by the rain, maybe it was a good thing to get him some work. He should get back on track either in Arizona next week or home against San Diego right after that.

I pointed out after the last game how they have left 48 men on base through 3 games, which was pretty bad. Tonight they did much better. They only left 16.

Ok 16 still is way too high, but they did score 7 runs, so I'll stay focused on the positive: at least they're putting men on base. Better than doing nothing.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

PTI guys rip on Bowa

Larry Bowa was a topic of discussion on PTI this afternoon, and oh my did they rip on him. It started off with Michael Wilbon saying how he was tired of seeing him acting like this, and only got worse. Tony Kornheiser then called him a "clown" and someone "who needs to act his age." Kornheiser correctly pointed out how a 62-year-old man would never be allowed to act this way at work, and his job as a 3rd base coach does not give him the right to behave in that manner.

Overall, it was quite the hatchet job. But, like I've said before, I really have a hard time defending Bowa on this one. He just snapped out of nowhere as if he was still a manager. Maybe an incident like this will finally calm him down, but knowing his temper, who knows if that will ever last.

The real funny thing to all of this is that Bowa worked for ESPN a couple of years ago before joining Joe Torre's staff with the Yankees. That still didn't stop Wilbon and Kornheiser from ripping him apart.

Rain falls, and the Dodgers pack it in

It was a weird sight on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. Rain was falling harder than I can remember, and a 1-hour, 14-minute rain delay ensued. Both Chad Billingsley and Tim Lincecum were scratched from their starts, and then came out of the bullpen anyway. The Giants were able to get the edge in this one, 2-1.

The new Giants starter, Merkin Valdez, was overpowering, and the Dodgers flailed away without much success. After K'ing 4 in 2 innings of work, Jack Taschner pitched 1 scoreless inning before giving way to Lincecum. What was really unusual was that Lincecum not only pitched before the delay, but after as well. The Dodgers could only manage a bloop single to left from James Loney as the only run off him in 4 IP. Brian Wilson pitched the final 1.1 innings for the save.

Billingsley only recorded one out, but did give up a sac-fly RBI to Aaron Rowand. Esteban Loaiza came on to pitch 2.2 innings, and surrendered a run-scoring sac-fly to Randy Winn, which proved to be the difference in the game. The Dodgers are now 2-1 going into an off day today before a 3-game set in San Diego starting Friday.

While I commended them for having a deep lineup after Monday's game, they really haven't been too good yet. They've had chances to score, but have left an amazing 48 men on base already. Yikes! Of course, having Russell Martin strike out looking with the bases loaded to end the 7th didn't help, especially when James Loney and Blake DeWitt both doubled in the inning AND NEITHER ONE SCORED! That's hard to do. Needless to say, that will have to change to beat better teams.

If people actually did make it through the rain delay, I'm sure more fuel will be added to the Juan Pierre fire when they saw him pinch-hit in the 9th, reach on a fielder's choice, then get caught stealing as Furcal struck out to end the game. Pierre is definitely not having his best moments as a Dodger right now.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Billingsley and Lincecum scratched

I turned the Dodgers-Giants game on during the 1st inning because I got home late, and I see Hong-Chih Kuo starting. Then I see that Merkin Valdez is also starting. Both Chad Billingsley and Tim Lincecum did not get the ball tonight because of the threat of rain.

I have seen a lot of baseball games in my life (at least I think I have), but I do not ever recall seeing both starters scratched because it might rain. Weird.

Bowa suspended 3 games

Larry Bowa has been served a 3-game suspension for his conduct last night against San Francisco. The suspension begins tonight in the finale of the series against the Giants.

I can't say I'm surprised, or disappointed. He probably deserves this. He completely lost his mind out of nowhere for reasons that he really can't defend too well. Just another chapter in the book of Bowa.

I would expect Marino Duncan to remain at 3rd and hitting coach Mike Easler to take over Duncan's 1st base position for the time being.

Wes Helms may be coming aboard

A new day, and a new 3rd baseman rumor for the Dodgers.

This one could happen soon, as Wes Helms may be on his way out of Philadelphia. Helms signed with the Phillies last season, but pretty much did a big pile of nothing: 112 games, .246 AVG, .297 OBP, 5 HR, 39 RBI. That was after hitting .329 in 140 games with the Florida Marlins the year before. With Brad Lidge due to come off the DL this Saturday, a roster move will need to be made.

If the trade does happen, it will most likely be for a player to be named later. Or, they could flat out release him, making the signing that much easier. It would basically be like swapping him for Rudy Seanez, who just signed with the Phillies.

Blake DeWitt has been filling in, but even he knows that will not last too long. He looks like he knows what he's doing out there, but with Nomar Garciaparra and Andy LaRoche due back, he's the odd man out.

Would I get Helms? Probably not. He's a career .265 hitter, and is coming off a really down year. An argument could be made that a change of scenery would help, but when Nomar and LaRoche come back, it's not like he'll see a lot of at-bats anyway. If they do insist on signing him, I would hope that they don't have to give up anybody, and would instead sign him to a cheap free agent deal.

Larry Bowa tossed, Dodgers win in comeback

Tuesday night's game against the San Francisco Giants was rolling along like any typical National League game. Both starting pitchers dominated, the hitters could not get anything going, and the innings were flying by. Then came the bottom of the 6th, when Larry Bowa decided to act like... well, Larry Bowa.

Let me rewind here for a second. Sometime in the offseason, Major League Baseball decided to make their umpires start enforcing the "Coaches Box" rule, where 1st and 3rd base coaches had to stand inside. Normally, most coaches aren't anywhere close to them. This was in response to Colorado Rockies minor league coach Mike Coolbaugh being killed by a line drive along the 1st base line last July. In addition, coaches are also required to wear batting helmets on the field. These precautionary rules are completely understandable given what happened.

But, Bowa does not like either new rule. In Spring Training he threatened to never wear the helmet until Joe Torre stepped in and told him to. Now, he's pitching a fit about the box. Larry, I like you bud, but I'm afraid you're fighting a losing battle here. I highly doubt MLB will back down just because he's complaining. He'll either have to adjust to the new on-field rules, or he'll be on the bench in no time.

Onto the game itself, which saw the Dodgers erase a 7th inning 2-0 deficit to win, 3-2. Rafael Furcal is loving life as not only a leadoff man, but a healthy one as well. With 2 on in the bottom of the 7th, he singled up the middle to plate Blake DeWitt and pinch-runner Chin-lung Hu. Tied at 2 going into the bottom of the 9th, pinch-hitter Delwyn Young hit an infield single that scored a hustling Furcal for the win.

Perhaps lost in all of this after the whole Bowa tirade was how good both Matt Cain and Derek Lowe were. Cain threw 113 pitches in only 5.2 innings, but surrendered no runs. Lowe was cruising until getting into some trouble in the 7th, and then was knocked out of the game when he took a hard-hit grounder off his left leg. He finished with 6 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K.

The first look at the Jonathan Broxton-Takashi Saito combination was perfect. Broxton K'd 1 in his inning, and Saito struck out the side to pick up the win. Joe Biemel and newcomer Ramon Troncoso also combined for a scoreless inning. That's all great signs for the bullpen.

The Dodgers will look for the sweep tonight in a matchup of 2 young, stud pitchers in Chad Billingsley and Tim Lincecum. That game could be a mirror image of last night's with hitters looking lost. But, it's nice to know that the Giants are still the Giants, which means they'll find ways to lose. Let's get a sweep!