Dodgers Report: Angels

LA Beat Report: The Puig-Trout debate

September, 18, 2013
ESPNLA's Mark Saxon chimes in on a debate that is on the minds of many Southern California baseball fans: Mike Trout or Yasiel Puig?

Quick take: Angels 3, Dodgers 2

May, 30, 2013

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Every time it looks as if the Los Angeles Dodgers are getting unstuck, they hit another snag.

They managed to cool off the Los Angeles Angels by snapping their eight-game winning streak with a couple of energetic wins at Dodger Stadium earlier this week. Then, they got on the freeway and hit heavy traffic.

They lost two tough, one-run games at Angel Stadium -- Thursday's by a 3-2 score -- and they're right back where they started, eight games under .500 and mired in last place in the NL West.

Had the Dodgers managed to win one of these two games in Anaheim, they would have won their first season series against the Angels since 2006. Because of realignment, the Dodgers and Angels don't play again this season.

The Dodgers got a second straight nice outing from veteran Ted Lilly, who got into the sixth inning and gave up three runs and five hits. It was a bit of bad luck that helped the Angels push the go-ahead run across. Chris Nelson hit a slow roller that reliever Ronald Belisario deflected to second baseman Mark Ellis, who had no play at first. Howie Kendrick scored from third on the infield hit to give the Angels a 3-2 lead.

Against lefty Jason Vargas, who had been on a roll, and without Matt Kemp, the Dodgers fielded a hodge-podge lineup. Ramon Hernandez, batting .111 coming in, was the designated hitter. Scott Van Slyke, Jerry Hairston Jr. and newly arrived catcher Tim Federowicz all played.

The Dodgers scraped across a couple of runs early, with Carl Crawford scoring after leading off the game with a triple and Hernandez hitting his second home run with the Dodgers. After that, it was quiet. Vargas won his sixth straight decision.

Injuries shuffle the deck again

May, 30, 2013
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- An assortment of injuries, minor and less-minor, have put the Los Angeles Dodgers' roster in limbo.

Catcher A.J. Ellis strained a rib-cage muscle swinging before Wednesday's game and won't be available for a couple of days, so the team recalled Tim Federowicz from Triple-A. However, Federowicz might not stick around long.

The Dodgers also will need an everyday center fielder to replace Matt Kemp while he's on the 15-day disabled list and the most likely candidate is Tony Gwynn Jr. Manager Don Mattingly said the team isn't considering Double-A outfielders Yasiel Puig or Joc Pederson, both of whom are viewed as longer-term prospects.

Andre Ethier moved over to play center field Thursday, but that was a stop-gap solution until the Dodgers recall a minor-league center fielder, Mattingly said.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers held out Matt Magill from Thursday's start in Albuquerque in case he's needed to replace Hyun-Jin Ryu in Colorado on Sunday. Ryu took a grounder off his foot while pitching a two-hit shutout Tuesday, but Mattingly said it's unlikely he'll miss Sunday's start.

Got all that?

OK, here are lineups for Thursday's game in Anaheim:

1. Carl Crawford LF
2. Mark Ellis 2B
3. Adrian Gonzalez 1B
4. Scott Van Slyke RF
5. Jerry Hairston Jr. 3B
6. Andre Ethier CF
7. Tim Federowicz C
8. Ramon Hernandez DH
9. Nick Punto SS

1. Erick Aybar SS
2. Mike Trout CF
3. Albert Pujols 1B
4. Mark Trumbo RF
5. Howie Kendrick 2B
6. Alberto Callaspo 3B
7. Chris Iannetta C
8. Chris Nelson DH
9. J.B. Shuck LF

Quick take: Angels 4, Dodgers 3

May, 29, 2013

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Dodgers rarely look competitive in interleague road games -- especially when they drift south to Anaheim -- and Wednesday night was no exception.

The Dodgers were dominated by returning ace Jered Weaver and lost 4-3 to the Los Angeles Angels, snapping their modest two-game win streak. They were attempting to build their first three-game winning streak against the Angels since 2006.

The Dodgers now must worry about the health of struggling superstar Matt Kemp, who left the game in the seventh inning accompanied by a trainer after chasing a Mike Trout double into the right-center field gap. He was also hit in the right elbow by a pitch Tuesday night and had been feeling some numbness in his fingertips. Kemp was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts before that and has 15 strikeouts in his last seven starts.

Chris Capuano managed to keep the Dodgers in the game while the offense grasped at straws facing Weaver, who was making his return to the mound after a broken left elbow.

The Dodgers didn't get on base until Andre Ethier led off the fifth inning with a double off the right-field scoreboard. The Dodgers looked as if they might strand Ethier when Kemp and Scott Van Slyke struck out, but Skip Schumaker broke his bat while softly lining a hit to center field and the score was tied 1-1.

After A.J. Ellis followed that with another bloop, hit Weaver looked a little upset, yelling in the direction of Angels left fielder J.B. Shuck.

Capuano, like a lot of soft-throwing pitchers, has a problem. Hitters tend to do damage the third time through the lineup. With Albert Pujols on after a walk, Mark Trumbo belted a high fastball over the left-field fence to give the Angels a 3-1 lead.

Capuano walked four batters, a season high.

Quick take: Dodgers 3, Angels 0

May, 28, 2013

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers' best hope of digging their way out of this mess is to re-establish their pitching depth and let it churn its way through the schedule for a while.

Tuesday night felt like one of those days when you could feel the plan turning to action. No. 3 starter Hyun-Jin Ryu dominated the Los Angeles Angels, allowing just two hits over nine innings, in a 3-0 Dodgers win.

Ryu had everything working. He had good pop on his pitches, striking out Mike Trout on a 93-mph fastball that grazed the outside edge of the strike zone, and good deception, striking out Howie Kendrick on a 79-mph changeup.

The question you always ask in the Dodgers’ situation is: Are things just bad or are they hopeless? With Ryu pitching this consistently, Clayton Kershaw doing his thing and Zack Greinke just beginning to get his feet under him after a month-long injury, it seems unlikely this season falls in the latter category yet.

Ryu has been better than most scouts would have guessed. He has been better, frankly, than the Dodgers probably would have guessed. Ryu has gotten through at least six innings in 10 of his 11 starts.

The Dodgers didn’t scrounge up much offense against former teammate Joe Blanton, but they saw some promising signs from two badly slumping hitters. Luis Cruz came into the game batting .105 and in imminent danger of losing his roster spot when Hanley Ramirez comes off the disabled list next week.

Cruz said he felt something click in the batting cage recently, and Tuesday we finally saw a result. Cruz had his first extra-base hit of the season, a two-run home run in the fifth inning. Matt Kemp, struggling so badly he slid to the No. 5 spot for the first time in three years, doubled and scored to add a run in the sixth.
LOS ANGELES – Derek Jeter slid into second base, called timeout and had a few seconds to chat with Baltimore Orioles second baseman Jerry Hairston Jr.

Like the rest of baseball at that time -- late May of 2004 -– Hairston was aware of how badly the New York Yankees captain was struggling.

Through 184 at-bats, Jeter was hitting .190 and -– yes -– getting booed at Yankee Stadium.

“I turned to him and said, 'DJ, you all right?,'" Hairston said. “He goes, ‘Oh yeah. I’m a bad boy.’ And that’s the mindset you want.”

Matt Kemp said he has had conversations with several future Hall of Fame players as his struggles have dragged through the season’s first two months. He wouldn’t say who he has spoken to, but he said they’ve all given him the same advice.

“That I can hit and you’ve got to believe you can hit and it’ll come back,” Kemp said. "All I’m going to do is continue to work, grind this thing out and continue to try and help my team in any way possible.”

Kemp, 28, is batting .253 with two home runs, 17 RBIs and a .637 OPS in his first 186 at-bats. On Tuesday, for the first time since 2010, Kemp was not hitting second, third or fourth for the Dodgers in a game he started. Don Mattingly moved him into the No. 5 hole.

If he wants to have another such conversation with a Hall of Fame-caliber player, he won’t have to get all the way to second base tonight. Angels first baseman Albert Pujols was batting .227 with a .646 OPS after his first 185 at-bats. He didn’t hit his first home run as an Angel until May 6.

A year ago, reporters were asking Kemp about Pujols’ struggles and whether he had become a better player than Pujols.

“I was like, ‘Hell no, are you serious?’" Kemp said.

By the end of last season, Pujols was batting .285 with 30 home runs and 105 RBIs -- career lows, but far from shabby.

“That’s not bad,” Kemp said. “If I can do that, that’s a successful season right there, I think.”

In 2004, by the way, Jeter rebounded to bat .292 with 111 runs scored.

Hairston took to Twitter Tuesday afternoon and sent the following message to his followers: “Our CF is coming off a tough surgery. keep believing in @TheRealMattKemp and all us.”

Hairston has had surgery on his left shoulder and said it can take months to regain full trust in it. He said he tweeted support because he didn’t want the booing to get out of hand.

“I didn’t want it to become the chic thing to do,” Hairston said. “Matt has given this city so much at such a young age. I see how much Matt puts into it.”

Here are lineups for Tuesday night's game against the Angels:

1. Erick Aybar SS
2. Mike Trout CF
3. Albert Pujols 1B
4. Mark Trumbo LF
5. Josh Hamilton RF
6. Howie Kendrick 2B
7. Alberto Callaspo 3B
8. Chris Iannetta C
9. Joe Blanton RHP

1. Carl Crawford LF
2. Mark Ellis 2B
3. Adrian Gonzalez 1B
4. Andre Ethier RF
5. Matt Kemp CF
6. A.J. Ellis C
7. Juan Uribe 3B
8. Luis Cruz SS
9. Hyun-Jin Ryu LHP

Dodgers, Angels share many parallels

May, 26, 2013
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers couldn’t help but notice a few parallels with the team that plays approximately 30 miles down the freeway from them.

Massive expectations after an offseason splash, two franchises trying to plug the hole on declining attendance from three straight seasons out of the postseason. A slow start, mounting injuries, a manager rumored to be on the hot seat. You could go on.

[+] EnlargeMike Scioscia
Ed Zurga/Getty ImagesMike Scioscia won the 2002 World Series with the Angels and has made the playoffs six times, but even he is not immune to job security rumors.
The Dodgers hope they soon have one more thing in common with the Los Angeles Angels. While the Dodgers have shown only glimpses of getting their disappointing season moving ahead, the Angels are in full-scale recovery mode, having won eight straight games.

“You always knew they had a talented club, and they were going to put it together,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “I wish they would have just waited a little longer.”

Southern California’s two expensive, sub-.500 teams meet this week in a new home-and-home format that features two games at Dodger Stadium Monday and Tuesday, followed by a couple of games at Angel Stadium. It will be a chance for the Angels to stay on a roll and for the Dodgers to finally get on one. The energy in those games is always elevated.

“We’re not done yet,” Angels catcher Hank Conger told reporters this weekend in Kansas City. “We’ve got things rolling, but we need to continue this momentum in order to be where we want to be down the road.”

The parallels eventually peter out, of course. While Angels manager Mike Scioscia was rumored to be on the hot seat, few people doubt that Mattingly actually is. In just his third season as manager, Mattingly realizes it. The Angels had high expectations, but not as high as the Dodgers, who are spending a National League record $217 million on salaries, $75 million more than the Angels.

Mattingly said he considered the rumors about Scioscia’s shaky hold on his job to be “absurd.” Scioscia is in his 14th season in Anaheim. He won the 2002 World Series and made the playoffs six times.

“Playing against his teams from the AL, I always hated it,” Mattingly said. “They’re tough to play against. They’re a little different now, not quite as speed-oriented, but they’re well managed and prepared.”

Angels owner Arte Moreno gave Scioscia a sturdier vote of confidence 10 days ago than Dodgers president Stan Kasten gave Mattingly Friday. Moreno told that the chances of an in-season managerial change for his team are, “right now, zero,” and that was before his team caught fire.

Meanwhile, Kasten said he was not thinking of pulling the plug on Mattingly any time soon but reserved the right to do so on fairly short notice.

“I expect this to work, but if it doesn’t, I guess there maybe will be a day where we have to look at a different solution,” Kasten said.

Mattingly is in the final year of his contract, and the Dodgers have declined to pick up his 2014 option, saying they’ll wait until November to make that call. Scioscia is halfway through a 10-year deal that reportedly pays him about $5 million per year. It would be a far more financially painful move for Moreno than for the Dodgers.

National writers have speculated that the Dodgers could cut ties with Mattingly and try to work out a deal with Moreno to get Scioscia, a Dodgers catcher from 1980 to 1992. That speculation probably isn’t going to entirely disappear, particularly after Kasten brought up Scioscia as an example of how the length of a manager’s deal won’t quash rumors about his job security.

“Down the road from here, there’s a pretty damn good manager -- one of the best, maybe, ever -- who also won a world championship and, until the last week or so, I’ve been reading his death watch,” Kasten said. “And he’s got five years left on his contract.”

The Angels are 23-27 and in third place in the AL West. The Dodgers are 20-28 and in last place in the NL West. Both teams, though, are on the mend. The Dodgers now have a formidable top of the rotation with Zack Greinke back after he fractured his left collarbone in a brawl with San Diego’s Carlos Quentin in his second start. All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez could start a rehab assignment this week and will likely join the Dodgers next weekend.

Angels ace Jered Weaver is expected to return from a fractured left elbow and pitch Wednesday or Thursday against the Dodgers.

It just might be ‘go’ time for both teams, but for the next four days, somebody’s going to have to be the launching pad.

Still waiting for the grit to kick in

May, 26, 2013
LOS ANGELES -- Don Mattingly might have been better off waiting until his team was about to play the Miami Marlins before making those comments.

He urged his Los Angeles Dodgers to show more fight right before they got to the toughest neighborhood in town. Two of their next five series were coming up against the best teams in baseball, St. Louis and Atlanta. Another was against baseball's hottest team, the Los Angeles Angels.

So, the fact the Dodgers are 2-2 post-rant might not tell us all that much about their grit, toughness, tenacity, pluckiness or whatever you want to call it. It's in there, they say. It's just waiting for a poke.

"There's a different feel around this place," catcher A.J. Ellis said. "After Don's comments and the way he addressed us and the situation, I think we feel there's a bit more fire."

The Dodgers are certainly not playing their worst baseball of the season. They didn't exactly kick it around in a 5-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals Sunday. They just got a less-than-dominant outing from Clayton Kershaw and struggled to rally against the Cardinals' string of hard-throwing relievers. Forgivable crimes, those.

But what's slightly more troubling is their inability to rally as innings dwindle.

They have yet to win a game they've trailed entering the ninth inning. They have yet to win a game they've trailed entering the eighth inning. Heck, they have yet to win a game they've trailed entering the seventh inning.

They're 0-17 when trailing after six. Mattingly said he didn't realize that, but it must have led to the impression that his team lacks fight.

"That's not good," Mattingly said. "We've had our chances in these kinds of games, too, I think."

Personally, I don't fault Mattingly for letting Kershaw bat in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and Matt Kemp on the bench, tied at three. Have you been watching Kemp's at-bats lately? Plus, things haven't usually gone well for the Dodgers this season when they try to protect leads over three innings. Plus, Kershaw is Kershaw.

"It was just kind of that he's our guy," Mattingly said.

Every Mattingly failed gambit looks more obvious, because his team can't break through late to turn sad endings happy. Eventually, the Dodgers will need to capture a little of that magic or they can forget about October. They loaded the bases with one out in the seventh inning, but Trevor Rosenthal struck out Ellis with a 100 mph fastball and Skip Schumaker with a 97 mph fastball. What could have been a spirit-building rally fizzled, yet again.

Now, the Dodgers are left to try to get some traction against a team that's rolling downhill. Their next four games are against the Angels, who have won eight straight.

"There's always a sense of urgency. You've got to win," Kershaw said. "That's the name of the game."

Dodgers vs. Angels: Who has the edge?

January, 24, 2013
Who knows, maybe this is the season it finally happens. The Dodgers, having spared no expense, will field a balanced, dangerous team and feel like they are positioned for a World Series run. The Angels, who jacked up their already formidable power with the surprise acquisition of Josh Hamilton, have similar aims.

If there really is to be a Freeway Series in 2013, a lot of things have to go right for both teams. But the team that made -- and makes -- the best personnel decisions likely will go further into October.

Let's break down the key areas of both rosters to try to decipher which team is better constructed to play longer into 2013.

Starting rotation

This is the part of the discussion in which Dodgers fans get to gloat and Angels fans have to just sit there and marinate. You could argue -- in fact, you don't really even have to -- that the Dodgers have better pitchers in all five spots.

We know this because one of the Angels starters, Joe Blanton, couldn't have cracked the Dodgers' seven deep. We also know this because one of the Dodgers' starters, Zack Greinke, almost helped the Angels make the playoffs.

Jered Weaver is perfectly ace-like. About 25 teams would put him at the top of their rotation. He has finished in the top five in Cy Young voting three years running and even got a couple of MVP votes last year -- always a cool accomplishment for a pitcher. He won 20 games, had a sub-3.00 ERA for the second season in a row and usually gives you more than 200 innings. And we won't even hold the .250 and .241 BABIPs from the past two seasons against him. Weaver is a fly ball pitcher and he relies on mishits to pitch deep into games. He gets strikeouts when he needs them, which is quite often, actually.

The only reason he doesn't get the edge is that Clayton Kershaw might be the best pitcher in baseball. We don't need SABR to tell us that. It's not that scientific. For the past two seasons he led baseball in ERA and was in the top three in WAR for pitchers. If he's not the most dominant pitcher in baseball, he's in the team photo and it's a small team (probably Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg, Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander).

So, the Dodgers get an edge in the No. 1 department, though it's a fairly slight edge because of Weaver's competitiveness and consistency. "Slight" isn't the right word for the rest of the Dodgers' edge in starting pitching.

Greinke has never come close to touching his 2009 Cy Young season, but neither has just about any other active pitcher. Greinke flirted with a sub-2.00 ERA, led the league in ERA+ and WHIP. Nobody could square him up. He gave up 0.4 home runs per nine innings. He was mediocre the following season, probably in part because of a personal crisis, but has gone 31-11 with a 3.63 ERA the past two years. Is he worth $147 million? Is any pitcher? He's as good a No. 2 starter as there is out there.

(Read full post)



Clayton Kershaw
21 1.77 239 198
BAY. Puig .296
HRA. Gonzalez 27
RBIA. Gonzalez 116
RY. Puig 92
OPSY. Puig .863
ERAC. Kershaw 1.77
SOC. Kershaw 239