Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dodgers on MLB Network today

Just a quick note to let everyone know that the Dodgers-Angels game will be carried live on MLB Network today at 3 ET/12 PT. John Ely will get the start against Scott Kazmir.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Padilla already feeling soreness

*** UPDATE ***

Padilla will undergo arm surgery on Thursday after going through a series of tests on Tuesday. Because he is going through this procedure now, the hope is that he will be back in weeks instead of months.


That didn't take long.

Once again, the injury bug appears to have bit Vicente Padilla. A mere few days into Spring Training, Padilla is experiencing soreness in his right arm and will receive an MRI. Yes, that would be same arm that DL'd him last year with a similar injury.

Padilla was brought back to the Dodgers this season to serve as the ultimate swingman. He can be a spot starter, throw multiple innings in relief, or possibly get a few big outs at the end of games. However, he recently said how he'd like to compete for the fifth starting spot, currently occupied by Jon Garland.

This news, though, reminds everyone just how fragile his arm can be. When he's on, he can really be on. We all remember how red hot he was to end the 2009 season, quickly becoming the Dodgers' ace that postseason.

After starting Opening Day last year (and getting bombed in Pittsburgh), it was a roller coaster ride from there on out. He ended up 6-5 with a 4.07 ERA and 1.08 WHIP, but in only 16 starts. Again, he showed how good he can be when healthy, but that seemed to be few and far between.

The hope here is that the Dodgers have caught the injury ahead of time, unlike last year. Wait and see.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The perfect lineup

Spring Training is almost here, as pitchers and catchers are currently fine-tuning in Arizona. We know Clayton Kerhsaw has been named the Opening Day starter, with Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Hiroki Kuroda, and Jon Garland (or possibly Vicente Padilla... who knows) lined up behind him.

If the season started today, let's take a look at what the ideal lineup would be. Keep in mind this can easily change in no time.

1. SS - Rafael Furcal
2. 1B - James Loney
3. CF - Matt Kemp
4. RF - Andre Ethier
5. 2B - Juan Uribe
6. LF - Jay Gibbons
7. 3B - Casey Blake
8. C - Rod Barajas
9. Pitcher's Spot

Here's why I have each guy in a certain spot:

1) Furcal - When healthy, it's a no-brainer. Plenty of experience leading off, and has speed and pop to set the table.
2) Loney - Probably a bit of a surprise, but his lack of power is mostly the reason why. His double plays are still a concern, but it's worth a shot.
3) Kemp - Ethier and Kemp could be interchangeable depending on the matchup, so the spots here really aren't a big deal. He should be the Dodgers' best hitter, so the #3 spot would be best.
4) Ethier - Like I said, this can flip-flop with Kemp in the #3 spot. If he's back to full strength, he has 40 homer potential.
5) Uribe - He won't get on base that much, but he does drive in runs when needed.
6) Gibbons - This may be more wishful thinking on my part, as I hope he can find that power stroke again. Could be a sleeper.
7) Blake - I'm not sure what's left in his tank. Hitting lower in the order doesn't bring as much pressure, so maybe he can settle in.
8) Barajas - He won't hit homers at the pace he did last year, but the pop is there. If he can keep that bat alive, it's a great weapon for late in the order.

We'll revisit this lineup later on in spring and see how it looks.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Kershaw gets the Opening Day nod

Congratulations are in order for young Clayton Kershaw, who was named the Dodgers' Opening Day starter today by manager Don Mattingly. It will be his first career start on the first day.

It really wasn't a hard decision to make for Mattingly, as Kershaw is the closest thing to an "ace" the Dodgers have. Last season was a breakout one for him, as he went 13-10 with a 2.91 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 212 strikeouts in 204 1/3 innings. He also held opposing hitters to a .218 AVG, including .200 against lefties. Not bad numbers, I say.

Opening Day is on March 31 against the Giants at Dodger Stadium. With a national audience on ESPN watching, look for a great Tim Lincecum vs. Kershaw matchup.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Loney gets a raise

James Loney's batting average, OBP, runs scored, homers, and RBIs in 2010 all dropped from the '09 season.

The result? A raise in salary.

After earning $3.1 million last season, Loney and the Dodgers avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $4.875 million deal. The Dodgers have now signed all three of their arbitration-eligible players (Chad Billingsley, Hong-Chi Kuo, and Loney) without a hearing.

Loney was seeking $5.35 million, despite the fact that his numbers crashed and burned after hitting a horrible .211 in the second half of the season. The Dodgers initially offered $4.7, but soon settled on $4.875.

No disrespect to Loney, who is a very talented defensive player, but he should be very thankful for getting a pretty good increase in salary. He really has something to prove, as first basemen who hit 10 home runs aren't exactly too sought after these days.

In addition to his slick glove, he's capable of collecting 90 RBIs, which isn't too shabby. But he really needs to show that he can be a productive bat in the middle of the lineup. A .267 average, .329 OBP, and 10 homers just isn't going to cut it. A .395 slugging %? Um, yuck.

Look, I actually do like Loney, even if it appears I don't. He has a career .994 fielding % and had only four errors in 161 games last year, obviously fantastic numbers. But the Dodgers can't afford to watch him not produce at the plate much longer. Great glove aside, if he doesn't pick up the slack at the plate, it may be time to move on.

Especially if that guy in St. Louis doesn't resign...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Kuo joins Billingsley in avoiding arbitration

Lefty flamethrower Hong-Chih Kuo agreed to a one-year, $2.725 million deal with the Dodgers today, avoiding arbitration. He can also earn another $675,000 in performance bonuses, with $600,000 of that for finishing out games.

Last season was a magical one for Kuo, as he did about as well as you can possibly expect a pitcher to do. In 60 innings spread out over 56 games, he went 3-2 with 12 saves, 21 holds, 1.20 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, and 73 strikeouts.

Perhaps most impressively, he converted his last 12 save opportunities once he took over for Jonathan Broxton, who forgot how to get a save towards the end of the season. All of that while pitching with a left arm that doesn't allow action in back-to-back nights.

Those numbers would normally be a pretty good reason for more money, but like I said before, his fragile arm is what holds him back. He's already had two (yes, two) Tommy John surgeries in his career. He's also missed more time here and there because of arm troubles.

The way I look at it, anything the Dodgers get out of him is a bonus. He's not a guy you want to rely on too much, but when he's there, and when he's dealing, it's an awesome sight. The fact of the matter is, he can easily be gone for the season with his next pitch. So a one year deal is more than justifiable.

Kuo should open the season in a setup role again to Broxton, but we all know that can easily change at any point.


After a long layoff, the mailbag has returned at Beat writer Ken Gurnick covers topics like adding another lefty reliever, Vicente Padilla as a starter, what to expect from Ronald Belisario, the status of Eric Chavez, and pinch-hitting.

Happy reading.