Dodgers Report: Baltimore Orioles

Why can't the Dodgers win at AL parks?

April, 19, 2013
4/19/13
11:38
AM PT
Coming off a sloppy series against the San Diego Padres, who came into Dodger Stadium at 2-10 and left at 5-10, the Dodgers will try to get well this weekend in Baltimore. It’s not exactly an ideal refuge.

Not that Camden Yards holds bad memories for the Dodgers -- they haven’t played there in 11 years -- but playing on the road in American League cities rarely goes well. Lucky for them, it’s just a teaser of the interleague schedule to come. Because each league now has 15 teams, the MLB schedule demands one interleague series at all times.

The Dodgers have won just four of their last 18 interleague series on the road. The last time they won one, last season in Seattle, they got no-hit by six pitchers in the game they lost. Since Opening Day of 2005, the Dodgers are 17-49 at American League Stadiums, the second-worst mark in the majors for teams traveling for interleague play.

Not a pretty picture.

Is it an anomaly or a trend? The readiest explanation, of course, is the designated hitter -- or lack therof. As Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said when I asked him about it, American League teams usually have “some big, hairy guy” -- ie., a power hitter -- they can use at designated hitter or to break open a game with a home run late. Nolan Reimold, Baltimore's DH, certainly is big -- 6-foot-4, 215 pounds.

Here are Mattingly’s possibilities for an extra bat this weekend (note: He may use the DH to rest his regulars, which would still insert one of the following hitters into his lineup somewhere) with lifetime home runs:

Ramon Hernandez 166
Juan Uribe 159
Jerry Hairston Jr. 68
Skip Schumaker 23
Nick Punto 15
Tim Federowicz 0

Uribe and Hernandez, of course, are well past their hitting primes. Since 2006, Hernandez's slugging percentage is .399. Dodger fans are well aware that Uribe hasn't reached double digit home runs since he left San Francisco after the 2010 season. The rest of Mattingly’s options offer, essentially, no power.

So, the Dodgers will try to pitch and play defense this weekend to win some games. Ask most pitchers how they like to pitch at Camden Yards. They'd be better served to snap out of their early-season hitting woes.

Dodgers crack the $200 million barrier

October, 31, 2012
10/31/12
11:37
AM PT
The reaction to the Dodgers' three-year, $22.5 million deal with reliever Brandon League seems to be tepid, at best. Grantland.com's Jonah Keri tweeted in response to the move, "Burning piles of cash is the new market inefficiency."

It is, of course, a hefty pile of cash for a pitcher who has really only worked about a year-and-a-half as a closer over an eight-year span. Then again, if League proves to be the final piece that turns the Dodgers into World Series contenders, who cares?

Once again, it proves the Dodgers are willing to take this thing to financial depths never before explored. Already, they have just over $200 million committed to their 2013 payroll, when you include the $8.33 million in deferred money they'll owe Manny Ramirez. That total locks up just 18 major-league players and prospect Yasiel Puig. Catcher A.J. Ellis is arbitration eligible and likely to make at least $3.5 or $4 million. The team still is in the market for a frontline starting pitcher.

It's practically a lock that the Dodgers will open next season as the most expensive team in baseball history, surpassing the 2008 New York Yankees, who handed out $209 million. Even if they somehow come in short of that figure, they still would be the first non-Yankee team since the 1998 Baltimore Orioles to lead the majors in payroll.

The Yankees, by the way, have about $131 million tied up in just eight players going into 2013, so they could still pass the Dodgers. Then again, the Yankees have been hesitant to dole out luxury tax money to other teams and have reined in their spending in recent seasons.

The question, as usual, will be how far does it get the Dodgers? They're in a division with the best team in baseball, the two-time champion San Francisco Giants, plus improving young teams in Arizona and San Diego. Money doesn't buy you love and it doesn't buy you championships, usually. The 1998 Orioles finished in fourth place.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Clayton Kershaw
WINS ERA SO IP
19 1.70 219 185
OTHER LEADERS
BAY. Puig .294
HRA. Gonzalez 23
RBIA. Gonzalez 106
RD. Gordon 86
OPSY. Puig .856
ERAC. Kershaw 1.70
SOC. Kershaw 219