Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lilly lands on the DL

The Dodgers chose the precautionary route on Friday, placing Ted Lilly on the 15-day DL with a sore neck. It'll be retroactive, so he's eligible to come back on April 14 against the Padres.

In his place, Chris Capuano will take the ball in the #3 spot in the rotation, essentially just flipping spots with Lilly. Don Mattingly's decision to not take a chance too early with Lilly was made easier thanks to Capuano's strong spring. He has a 2.75 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and .197 BAA. Add in 22 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings, and he's looking like he can be a pleasant surprise this season.

Lilly will pitch with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga on April 8 before being activated from the DL.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

It's all about MAGIC

You know your day is off to a good start when you wake up to news of the Dodgers finally being sold.

You know the news is even better when you find out who the owner is.

After going through a lengthy bidding process since the Dodgers were put up for sale last year, it was a group led by the lengendary Magic Johnson that won it all. That's right - the guy whose post-NBA career may have arguably been better than his sensational career on the court has done it again. And it's the fans who come out the true winners.

Look, I haven't said a whole lot about the ownership bids mostly because it hasn't been all that entertaining. I prefer to focus on the action on the field, not off of it. I just didn't see what was so fun about saying "so and so may get the bid, so and so may not." I'd rather know about the players who are actually on the Dodgers.

But now we finally have some closure to a long, frustrating process that had been brewing for a few years. While Magic and his boys may have had to fork over $2 billion just to get the team, what's even more interesting was the $150 million needed to own half of the parking lots and other property in Chavez Ravine. The other half of that deal? You got it, Frank McCourt.

Not to worry, fans. McCourt will not have any say in baseball activities, or even in the parking lots themselves. He just has "economic interest" in them. Gee, how shocking. By the way, when's the last time you've heard so much about parking lots when it comes to watching baseball? Maybe on how expensive it is to park, but that's about it.

I'm a huge fan of the Lakers, so this is obviously just awesome for me. I'm sure millions of other people feel the same as well. If anything, the Dodgers can focus on the field now and get back to playing winning baseball. I think people lose sight of the fact that the Dodgers were in the NLCS as little as three years ago. While the World Series drought has been long (1988), it's not like they've been clueless for a long time.

With Opening Day about a week away, this is a very exciting time to be a Dodger fan. Let's sit back, relax, and watch it all unfold... hopefully with some magic!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sands to search for his swing in the minors

Jerry Sands may be the future for the Dodgers. But for now, he's the latest young stud to be suffering through a sophomore slump.

Sands has been optioned back to the minors on Tuesday. He's having a horrendous Spring Training at the plate, hitting only .158 with 2 RBIs in 38 at-bats. Throw in 12 strikeouts, and you get the picture that it hasn't been all peaches and cream for him so far.

It's a disappointment for everyone considering that he hit .342 last September after being called back up following a slow start earlier in the year. Just when you thought he had it all figured out, this happens. Don Mattingly envisioned him playing both in the outfield and possibly at first against lefties, giving some power that Andre Ethier and James Loney may have been lacking like last year.

Look, this isn't the worst thing in the world. Sands acknowledged that he needs to settle down and just focus on his mechanics to get going again. Getting away from the majors for a little while may do the trick. He could be a name to remember during the season, as he still has that label of being a potential power threat. Let's hope we see that come to fruition at some point this year.

Wright earns his spot

When his back is against the wall, Jamey Wright is always prepared to come out swinging. Or, more specifically, pitching.

For the seventh straight season, Wright has earned his way onto a Major League team out of Spring Training as a non-roster invitee. He'll earn $900,000 this year with a possible $500,000 more in incentives based on appearances.

On the flip side, John Grabow was given his outright release after being told he would not make the team. Wright's spot on the 40-man roster was cleared when Blake Hawksworth was placed on the 60-day DL. He's been hampered by a sore elbow and staph infection, and will need about six weeks to regain his strength once he's ready to throw. In other words, don't expect to see him for awhile.

As for Wright, it's pretty stunning that he's been able to make team after team despite never really having a solid contract to fall back on. He's pitched in the bigs since 1996 when he broke in with the Rockies. Since then, he's pitched for the Brewers, Cardinals, Royals, Rockies again, Giants, Rangers, Royals again, Indians, and Mariners for the last two seasons. Hopefully he's been able to rent and not buy.

On his career, he's appeared in 526 games with 246 starts. He's 85-121 with a 4.93 ERA and 1.56 WHIP. Those numbers aren't exactly pretty, but he has turned things around quite well as a reliever the last two seasons in Seattle, with a 3.41/1.24 in 2010, and 3.16/1.33 in 2011. That's more like it.

According to Don Mattingly, Wright will fill the role once played by Jeff Weaver, which is like a long reliever and spot starter. Who knows, maybe even some short innings as well. With the way the Dodgers went through injuries last year, Wright could find himself to be in a very valuable position.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Lilly banged up, could miss a start

Ted Lilly's stiff neck will cause him to miss his scheduled start on Tuesday, and puts him in jeopardy of not making his first regular season start as well.

Lilly has gone through some therapy and felt better today, but still couldn't even play catch before shutting it down. He also missed a bullpen session a couple days ago.

There's many scenarios that could come into play if Lilly can't go his first start in San Diego. One is to simply swap spots with Chris Capuano, who appeared to be the odd man out for the time being with an off day following four straight games. Another is to place him on the DL and let Nathan Eovaldi make a start or two, delaying his demotion to the minors. We shall see.

The Dodgers have been pretty fortunate this spring in that they haven't faced any major injury issues by any means. Even Lilly's doesn't appear serious, although neck injuries are nothing to mess around with. Hopefully good health will equal a good start to the season.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Early spring rotation results

I know it's early, but the starting five of the Dodgers have all gotten a taste of Spring Training action thus far. Let's take a look at how they fared the first go-around.

Clayton Kershaw
3 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K (vs. Rangers)
So far, so good for the reigning Cy Young Award winner, as he easily disposed of the Rangers. And it wasn't a B-level squad out there, it was the big dogs like Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltran, Michael Young, and Nelson Cruz. Nicely done.

Chad Billingsley
2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (vs. White Sox)
Bills kicked off Spring Training with a solid performance. His biggest focus is working on his mechanics, as he pointed out after the game that a smoother leg kick gave him better control. Let's hope it keeps up. He'll be the #2 starter behind Kershaw, so the Dodgers are counting on him for big things.

Ted Lilly
2 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 1 K (vs. Giants)
Old Ted didn't start off so hot, as he gave up a couple of homers to the evil Giants. He had trouble locating his fastball, and apparently his curveball wasn't a whole lot better. Melky Cabrera led off the game with a homer, and Brett Pill hit a two-run shot after that. Not the start to the season you want, but at least he's healthy.

Aaron Harang
2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (vs. A's)
The damage was done in the first inning to Harang, as the A's got a two-out, two-run double from Josh Reddick. Harang was able to bounce back and retire the final four hitters. A right foot injury has limited him a bit this spring, so the fact that he was able to go out there as scheduled is a good sign.

Chris Capuano
2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K (vs. A's)
Capuano got the win as he threw an impressive couple of innings. The A's aren't exactly a loaded lineup, or even a decent one, but it's good to see the new guy take care of them regardless. The Dodgers had lots of inconsistency at the bottom of the rotation last season, so solid innings from Caps can go a long way.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Spring Training schedule on MLB Network

Spring Training is in full swing, as the Dodgers are now heading down the long road of 34 games before they start to count for real.

Thanks to the great MLB Network, here is the full list of games you can catch over the course of March and into the beginning of April:

Thursday, March 8 vs. A's (delay)
Sunday, March 11 vs. Cubs (delay)
Monday, March 12 @ Angels (delay)
Tuesday, March 13 vs. Rockies (delay)
Thursday, March 15 vs. Royals (delay)
Friday, March 16 vs. Rangers (live @ 1:05 PT)
Saturday, March 17 @ Rockies (delay)
Saturday, March 17 vs. Giants (live @ 7:05 PT)
Sunday, March 18 vs. Angels (delay)
Monday, March 19 @ Indians (live @ 1:05 PT)
Tuesday, March 20 vs. Brewers (live @ 1:05 PT)
Wednesday, March 21 vs. Padres (delay)
Saturday, March 24 vs. Indians (live @ 1:05 PT)
Monday, March 26 vs. White Sox (delay)
Thursday, March 29 vs. White Sox (delay)
Friday, March 30 vs. Brewers (delay)
Sunday, April 1 vs. Diamondbacks (delay)
Monday, April 2 @ Angels (live @ 7:05 PT)
Wednesday, April 4 vs. Angels (live @ 12:05 PT)

Games on TV are always subject to change, but assuming this all stays the same, that's 19 games remaining that you can catch, including 7 live ones. That's pretty awesome.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Kershaw to start both Opening Days

In a bit of a no-brainer, Don Mattingly said on Saturday that Clayton Kershaw will get the ball for both the season opener in San Diego and the home opener against the Pirates. With a four-game set against the Padres and an off-day before coming home, it all works out.

It's a pretty easy decision, as a home opener featuring Aaron Harang or Chris Capuano just doesn't sound as juicy as Kersahw. It's what the fans want to see, and from a baseball standpoint, getting Kershaw as many starts as possible on normal rest should equal more wins. I mean, duh!

Anyway, the first time we'll see the #5 spot in the rotation making a start looks to be on Saturday, April 14 at home against the Padres in the season's ninth game. It's typical for the early part of a season, as there seem to be a few more random off days than later on.

In taking a glance even further down the road, Kershaw could very well make another start on normal rest in Houston on Friday, April 20. That would again cause the #5 spot to be skipped. So, the next start for the end of the rotation would then be on Tuesday, April 24 at home against the Braves.

All in all, if Mattingly chooses to keep starting Kershaw on normal rest and skip the #5 start all of the month of April, here's how the starts will go:

Kershaw (6): 4/5 at Padres, 4/10 vs. Pirates, 4/15 vs. Padres, 4/20 at Astros, 4/25 vs. Braves, 4/30 at Rockies
Harang or Capuano (2): 4/14 vs. Padres, 4/24 vs. Braves