Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kemps wins the NL Hank Aaron Award

Matt Kemp's monster 2011 season became even sweeter on Thursday by winning the National League Hank Aaron Award. The award is in recognition of the best offensive player in each league. Hall of Famers vote on the award, including Aaron, Tony Gwynn, and Robin Yount.

While it remains to be seen if Kemp will also claim the MVP, there's no denying that he put together the total package to get this award. In addition to hitting .326, he led the NL with 39 homers, 126 RBIs, and 115 runs. He also had 40 steals to just barely miss joining the prestigious 40/40 club. But hey, 30/30 ain't too shabby.

The MVP award will be announced on November 22, so there's still a month to wait and see.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Cardinals can thank the Dodgers

Now that the World Series has started, it's worth noting that the Dodgers played a big role in helping the Cardinals get home field advantage. In addition to giving away Rafael Furcal to hit in the leadoff spot, it was the solid performances of Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Clayton Kershaw in this year's All-Star Game that helped pave the way for home field advantage for the National League.

Kemp got the start in center field and hit third. He hit three times and went 1-for-2 with a walk. Ironically, his one hit was against the Rangers' Game One starter, C.J. Wilson. His single followed one by Carlos Beltran (then with the Mets), which led to Prince Fielder's three-run homer to put the NL up for good.

Ethier was one of the last additions to the team, but made his sole at-bat count. With two outs in the fifth, he singled off of Joe Walden to score Rickie Weeks and go up 4-1. It was the first RBI by a Dodger in the All-Star Game since Mike Piazza in 1996.

Kershaw got the ball in the fifth with a 3-1 lead. He struck out David Ortiz swinging to start, then got Robinson Cano and Alex Avila to ground to Fielder at first to retire the side in order. In all, he made only eight pitches.

Friday, October 14, 2011

2011 Report Card

As the MLB postseason rolls on towards the World Series, let's take a look back at the season the season that was for the Dodgers. Here are my grades from this past season.


Clayton Kershaw - 21-5, 2.88 ERA, 248 strikeouts. An absolute monster season from one of the game's best pitchers. A pleasure to watch every fifth day.
Matt Kemp - A Triple Crown threat until the very end, he erased any doubt about his desire by hitting .324 with 39 homers, 126 RBIs, and 40 stolen bases. Plus his defense in center was top-notch.
Kenley Jansen - Started the season off rocky, but after returning from injury in June, was absolutely untouchable. Finished with an MLB record 16.1 K's/9 innings.
Javy Guerra - Came out of nowhere to go 21-23 in save opportunities with a 2.31 ERA.
Dee Gordon - Mr. Excitement finished with a strong .304 average in 56 games. His blazing speed got him 24 steals, and made even routine grounders into close plays at first.
Hiroki Kuroda - I don't care if he had 16 losses, his 3.07 ERA and 202 innings pitched were the real reasons this was his best season to date.
Mike MacDougal - Quietly had a great year with a 2.05 ERA and 14 holds in 69 appearances. Was a stable force in a bullpen that struggled for most of the year.


James Loney - It's hard to believe just how much his season turned around once August hit, as he was as hot a hitter as there was in the majors. Raised his average over 30 points in that span, and perhaps played himself back onto the team.
Scott Elbert - A quiet contributor, he showed some great stuff from the left side with a 2.43 ERA in 47 appearances.
Nathan Eovaldi - A quality starter (but not a reliever). Gave up two or less runs in five of his six starts to perhaps lead the way to a starting spot again next season.
Juan Rivera - Picked up for practically nothing from the Blue Jays, proceeded to drive in 46 runs in 62 games. Gave the Dodgers a legit run-producing threat to pair with Kemp.
Tony Gwynn - Only hit .256, but did steal 22 bases, and flashed some serious leather, especially as a defensive replacement late in close games.
Jamey Carroll - A scrappy, gritty competitor who hit .290 and led the way with his hustle.
Aaron Miles - A non-roster invitee to Spring Training, ended up playing in 136 games. Hit well above .300 in July before sliding some in the last couple of months.
Dana Eveland - Not much of a sample size, but a 3.03 ERA in five starts is pretty darn good. Was fantastic in his three wins (1 run in 20 2/3 innings) and terrible in his two losses (9 runs in 9 innings).
Josh Lindblom - Was up and down between the majors and minors, but showed he can get the job done with a 2.73 ERA out of the 'pen. Another power arm to keep an eye on.


Andre Ethier - Might seem a big harsh for a guy who hit .292 and made the All-Star team, but his lack of power (11 homers) and whinny comments made it a season unfulfilled.
Ted Lilly - Bounced back great to end the season, but it was too little, too late. A 5.02 ERA through July is hard to forget.
Rubby De La Rosa - Was lost at the end of July because of Tommy John surgery, but looked pretty good with a 3.71 ERA. Someone to remember in the future.
Jerry Sands - Came in with the reputation of having all the tools, but it's taken him awhile to get on track. Fortunately he did towards the end, as his .342 September average raised his overall to .253.
Rod Barajas - His 16 homers were (sadly) second on the team. Still has good pop, but a .230 average is pretty poor.
Chad Billingsley - Maddeningly inconsistent, as he just never seems to have the numbers to match his stuff. One step forward, and one step back meant an 11-11 record with a 4.21 ERA.
Blake Hawksworth - A solid arm for most of the season, but the wheels fell off the bus at the end, as a lousy last two months raised his ERA from 2.95 to 4.08.
Matt Guerrier - Wasn't bad, but wasn't worth the big contract (3 years, $12 million) either. Ended with a 4.07 ERA in 70 games.
A.J. Ellis - Hit a decent .271, but with only four extra-base hits in 85 at-bats. Still hasn't exactly done enough to show he should even be the backup.


Rafael Furcal - Injuries once again left their toll, as he hit a lousy .197 with five stolen bases in 37 games. Traded to the Cardinals at the deadline... where he of course is enjoying postseason success. Figures.
Jon Garland - Was signed to be the #5 starter because of his durability... and then made only nine starts before ending his season with shoulder surgery. Collected a 4.33 ERA in those starts.
Casey Blake - Still plays hard when he can, but his days of starting are clearly over. Hit only .256 as he appeared in a measly 63 games. The ship has sailed.
Ramon Troncoso - He stunk. That's pretty much it.


Jonathan Broxton - Had the luckiest seven saves you'll ever see, as he had a 5.68 ERA in 14 games. Elbow injuries ended his season in May, as it's unknown if he'll ever come anywhere close to the All-Star he was only a couple seasons ago.
Juan Uribe - The big free agent signing after winning a ring with the Giants in 2010, proceeded to absolutely suck. Hit .204 with four homers and 60 strikeouts in 77 games. A colossal disappointment.
Eugenio Valez - 0-37. 'Nuff said.
Lance Cormier - Complained after Spring Training that he deserved to be on the big league roster. So he was... and then earned his way off of it with a 9.88 ERA in nine games.
Hong-Chih Kuo - From shutdown All-Star in 2010 to a 9.00 ERA and monumental flop in 2011. Unbelievable.
Marcus Thames - So much for being the power righty in the outfield. Instead hit .197 with two homers in 36 games before being shown the door.
Dioner Navarro - Horrendous effort led to putrid defense, and a .193 average. Was mercifully sent packing in late August.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Options declined on Blake and forgotten Garland

The Dodgers made their first official roster moves of the offseason on Tuesday, buying out the last year of Casey Blake and Jon Garland's contracts. Both men are officially free agents as a result.

Blake was bought out for $1.25 million, as he ended his three-year/$17.5 million deal. The Dodgers had a $6 million option for next season, but that won't happen.

Garland got paid $5 million this season to basically do a big pile of nothing, as his season was cut way short thanks to shoulder surgery on July 11. He'll receive $500,000, as opposed to the $8 million he could've earned had he been brought back. Um, that's a no-brainer.

Going into the 2011 season, both men figured to play key roles in Don Mattingly's rookie season as manager. Instead, injuries just crippled both of them, as their best days are clearly long behind them. Blake appeared in only 63 games this year, hitting .252 with four homers and 26 RBIs. He actually hit very well when he did play in April and May, but his body wouldn't hold up.

The irony of Garland's situation was that he was brought in to be an innings-eater at the back end of the rotation. He had never appeared on the DL during his 11-year career up until this season, and had thrown at least 190+ innings since 2002. So naturally, he only made nine starts, going 1-5 with a 4.33 ERA.

I'd be shocked if Garland was resigned, but don't be too surprised if Blake is. I can see Mattingly using Blake as a utility guy, making starts at the corner infield spots along the way. At this point in his career, it might be the best offer he can get.