Dodgers Report: Erisbel Arruebarrena

How serious are the Dodgers about Yoan Moncada?

January, 27, 2015
Jan 27
LOS ANGELES -- The most exciting Dodgers-related news lately are the multiple reports that the team had a private workout for Cuban second baseman Yoan Moncada on Monday, one attended by both president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and manager Don Mattingly, according to

Then again, is it exciting news or troublesome news? The Dodgers have had mixed success with Cuban defectors lately.

Many people thought they were just showing off their newfound financial muscle when they signed Yasiel Puig to a seven-year, $42 million contract 2 ½ years ago after a short scouting trip to watch Puig work out in Mexico. Though Puig has caused the Dodgers plenty of headaches along the way, he has had an outstanding .888 OPS in two major-league seasons, electrified the team’s fan base and established himself as probably the majors’ second-best Cuban position player after Jose Abreu.

On the other hand, the Dodgers may have swung and missed on two expensive Cuban infielders, Alex Guerrero and Erisbel Arruebarrena, who signed for a combined $53 million and last winter and have done nothing but make negative headlines while in the minor leagues. The Dodgers no longer mention Guerrero, 27, when discussing their infield (or outfield) plans and they designated Arruebarrena for assignment after signing pitcher Brett Anderson.

Guerrero lost part of his ear in a dugout brawl with a teammate, Miguel Olivo, last season and Arruebarrena sparked one of the nastiest minor-league brawls of 2014 with an ultra-slow trip around the bases in a Triple-A game.

Moncada, 19, appears to be in a different category than Guerrero or Arruebarrena, who arrived with glaring question marks -- Guerrero’s defense and Arruebarrena’s offense -- based on reports out of Cuba. According to Baseball America, Moncada, is “a 6-foot, 210-pound switch-hitting infielder who’s the best teenager to leave Cuba since Jorge Soler, a player with exciting tools and dominance of the Cuban junior leagues on par with what Yasiel Puig did at the same age.”

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Dodgers' options at shortstop appear limited

November, 24, 2014
Corey SeagerAP Photo/Danny MoloshokThe Dodgers are in need of a shortstop as they wait for Corey Seager to be ready for the majors.

LOS ANGELES -- The same day that Hanley Ramirez came to an agreement to play for the Boston Red Sox for at least the next four years, the Seattle Mariners committed $100 million over seven years to their third baseman, Kyle Seager.

Just four months ago, here is what Seager had to say about the Dodgers’ No. 1 position-player prospect, a shortstop who happens to be his younger brother Corey:

“He pretty much does everything that I’m doing, but just a little better. He’s bigger, stronger, faster, he runs better. He’s good. He’s going to do a lot of really good things in this game.”

That’s the context for what the Dodgers are looking to do to replace Ramirez: Think short term. It’s why the idea of locking up Ramirez -- and paying him something like $22 million when he’s 33 and 34 -- became less and less appealing as Seager continued to dominate at Class A and, eventually, Double-A.

Many people think Seager will wind up playing third base, but that would have been even more problematic with Ramirez in the fold. Had he stayed with the Dodgers, Ramirez would have moved to third base, where some scouts think he plays even worse defense than he did at shortstop. He was, by many accounts, the worst shortstop in the league. A better idea, which the Red Sox seem intent on, is to move Ramirez to the outfield and give him plenty of at-bats at designated hitter, two avenues completely closed to the Dodgers.

So, who do the Dodgers now go with at shortstop? Dee Gordon was asking the same thing on Twitter Monday.

It’s quite possible they’ll live with the in-house options, giving Erisbel Arruebarrena (who will earn his $25 million by 2017 whether he’s in the big leagues or minors) first crack at it. Miguel Rojas will be standing by if he flounders. The Dodgers’ defense would improve significantly, but the offensive drop-off from Hanley to either of those guys would be vast.

The Dodgers don't view Justin Turner, Alex Guerrero or Darwin Barney as possibilities as everyday shortstops.

They’re not high on any of the free-agent possibilities. General manager Farhan Zaidi worked recently with the Oakland A’s, Jed Lowrie's last stop, and he’s not said to be a big fan of what Lowrie brings to the table. His glove is nearly as suspect as Ramirez's at shortstop and his bat not nearly as lethal.

They could re-start trade talks for the Chicago White Sox's Alexei Ramirez, who is under contract through 2015 with an option for 2016 -- a perfect stopgap to see how Seager develops -- but at last check, those talks weren’t exactly humming along. The White Sox, who have designs on competing next season, want a nice return for their All-Star shortstop and the Dodgers are trying to rebuild their farm system.

The most intriguing possibility -- short of trading for Troy Tulowitzki, which seems unlikely for reasons similar to the Alexei Ramirez hold-up -- would be to throw Seager into the fire. He won’t turn 21 until next April 27, but he did bat .345 and slug .534 in 38 games for Double-A Chattanooga. Former Dodger infielder Jerry Hairston Jr. recently publically advocated making Seager the everyday shortstop in a segment for SportsNetLA.

That’s both risky and, potentially, expensive. If Seager is as good as the Dodgers think he is, they might be tempted to wait until some time in June to promote him so they can avoid making him a “Super-Two” player, who would be eligible for salary arbitration after 2 ½ years instead of three. It would also accelerate his path to free agency. One workaround for this problem is to do something like Friedman did with another can’t-miss prospect. He signed Evan Longoria to a nine-year, $44.5 million deal six days into his rookie season. The Rays later extended him through 2022 in a deal that pays him $100 million.

The Dodgers are going to feel the loss of Hanley in the short term, but having him around for the long haul could have proved even more painful in the end.

Dodgers start looking for Hanley's replacement

November, 10, 2014
PHOENIX – The Los Angeles Dodgers’ top decision-makers spent most of the first day of the general managers meetings at the team’s Glendale, Arizona, complex. The top brass watched an Arizona Fall League game that included the Dodgers' top position-player prospect, Corey Seager.

Afterward, they made it clear that they view the shortstop position as a puzzle to be solved between now and February. Much as they like Seager, they don’t view him as an Opening Day possibility, and both Erisbel Arruebarrena and Miguel Rojas would be a major risk as an everyday option. Rojas batted .181 and Arruebarrena has played just 22 major league games and is viewed as a bit of an off-field liability after some of his maturity issues in the minor leagues.

Hanley Ramirez rejected the Dodgers’ $15.3 million qualifying offer Monday and, according to a source, there has been no internal dialogue about retaining Ramirez on a multiyear deal. The Dodgers will take the compensatory draft pick they get for losing Ramirez and move on.

President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the team has begun to check in both on the free-agent market -- which is thin -- and the trade market for shortstops. The Dodgers are believed to have expressed interest in the Chicago White Sox’s Alexei Ramirez. Free agent Jed Lowrie could be a fit. In both cases, the acquisition might simply be a stopgap until Seager is ready, assuming he doesn’t move to third base.

“The limited supply at the position makes it hard to put a lot of rules on it,” Friedman said. “We’re going to try to acquire the best player we can and, if we wind up having depth there, that’s a good problem to have.”

General manager Farhan Zaidi described the Dodgers’ pursuit of both shortstops and starting pitchers as “preliminary.”

“I think it’s easy to say we’re in the same spot, which is starting to evaluate the options,” Zaidi said.

2015 Position Outlook: Shortstop

October, 27, 2014
By early next week, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman will face his first major player personnel decision. He and the rest of the team’s brass will have to decide whether to extend a qualifying offer to Hanley Ramirez. Such an offer must be made within five days of the conclusion of the World Series and the player has exactly one week to decide whether to take it or leave it.

This season, the qualifying offer will be $15.3 million, which is lower than Ramirez’s 2014 salary of $16 million and would be his lowest salary since 2012. If the Dodgers extend the offer and Ramirez rejects it, he becomes a free agent and they would receive a compensatory draft pick if a team signs him.

Erisbel Arruebarrena
AP Photo/David ZalubowskiIf Hanley Ramirez doesn't return, Erisbel Arruebarrena could be the Dodgers' starting shortstop in 2015.
Of the 22 players who have been extended qualifying offers over the previous two seasons, none has accepted it -- though a handful of players later wished they had.

It’s a surprisingly tough call in Ramirez’s case, but it’s worth making an offer. If Ramirez rejects it, the Dodgers would have another early pick to help rebuild their farm system, a major thrust in what they’re calling Phase 2 of their rebuilding process and part of the reason Friedman is here. If he accepts it, they’re only on the hook for one season at a reasonable cost if they get his average production. They can live with his poor defense and moodiness for one more season provided he stays healthier than he did in 2013 (playing just 86 games) and hits as well or better than he did last year (.283/.369/.448). Ramirez’s .810 OPS was the best in the majors among shortstops.

It’s most likely that a team -- likely from the American League – would be enticed enough by Ramirez’s bat to extend him a multiyear deal. The New York Yankees dispatched a small army of scouts to watch the Dodgers’ final few regular season games and they were writing reports on Ramirez. They could use him at designated hitter, shortstop and maybe some first base. The Oakland A’s could use a middle of the order bat to replace Yoenis Cespedes. Given his injury history, Ramirez, 30, would be best-served playing in the AL, where he could be at designated hitter for one-third or so of his games played.

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The pluses and minuses of Hanley Ramirez's return

August, 22, 2014
LOS ANGELES -- All signs point to Hanley Ramirez coming off the disabled list on Sunday, exactly 15 days after he landed there because of a strained muscle in his right side.

Ramirez's return is a good thing for the Dodgers' lineup, which has struggled to score runs in its past nine games. It comes with a tradeoff, however, and an appreciable one.

Ramirez's primary replacement, Miguel Rojas, couldn't come close to matching Ramirez's offensive impact. Rojas is batting .203 with a .520 OPS. Ramirez, though he hasn't been as electric as he was in 2013 at the plate, still has an .822 OPS, which is good at any position and elite for a shortstop.

The defensive metrics indicate that Ramirez is a major liability at shortstop. His defensive WAR is the worst in the majors aside from Tampa Bay's Yunel Escobar. According to Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), Rojas has been 20 runs better than Ramirez at shortstop. The Dodgers' other option at shortstop, Erisbel Arruebarrena, is also a strong defender though he hasn't played enough in the majors to establish reliable numbers.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly ruled out Ramirez playing any other position when he comes back. Third baseman Juan Uribe currently is on the DL and Ramirez took some ground balls there earlier in the week. Mattingly said the team will continue to sub Rojas or Arruebarrena in the final two innings of close games, but Ramirez's offense is simply too important to the team to leave on the bench, no matter how badly he struggles with the glove.

"When you get the kind of offense that Hanley gives you out of that position, it's a bonus," Mattingly said. "Early in the season, Hanley wasn't moving as well. As the season has gone on, he has moved better. I don't want to say it as a negative, but we're still willing to defend those last couple innings. We have a couple guys that are outstanding defensive shortstops. If you get the lead, then you try to do it."

Ramirez, 30, is a free agent after this season and it appears the Dodgers are grooming Arruebarrena as his replacement. The Dodgers signed him to a five-year, $25 million contract in spring training.

Stock watch: Crawford continues fast pace

August, 21, 2014


Carl Crawford, LF: Dodgers manager Don Mattingly takes a heavy dose of criticism, even from many Dodgers fans. I wonder how many of them will give him credit for sticking with Crawford even when he was batting .240 not that long ago? Crawford has rewarded that patience by batting .485 with five multi-hit games since Aug. 10. His emergence, of course, means Andre Ethier's role gets even further diminished, but it's the point of the season when you just go with your best nine.

Justin Turner, INF: The Dodgers' bench is better than it has been in years and Turner is the primary reason why. He has stepped in twice for injured Juan Uribe and, while not quite living up to Uribe's defensive abilities, has actually hit better than they could have expected from their regular third baseman. According to Baseball Reference WAR, Turner (2.7) is second to Yasiel Puig (4.1) among Dodgers position players. That tells you all you need to know.

Yasiel Puig, CF: Other than Crawford, Puig has been the only real sign of offensive life on this homestand, but the Dodgers knew he could hit. They weren't so sure how well he would play center field. So far, he has not seriously injured any of the team's corner outfielders, he has made some great catches up against the wall and he has discouraged other teams from taking extra bases with his arm. He looks like a more complete player, mostly because center field allows him to show off the full range of his game.


Zack Greinke, RHP: The Dodgers pushed his scheduled start back two days to give him extra rest for his sore right elbow. Greinke admitted he probably won't feel 100 percent the rest of the season. That, clearly, is a bit worrisome considering the Dodgers' primary World Series hopes ride on the arms of their two Cy Young winners, Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. The best-case scenario is Greinke can pitch with some pain and Hyun-Jin Ryu returns from the DL in fairly short order. The worst-case scenario is too dire to even bring up at this point.

Dee Gordon, 2B: A good series and a bad series are literally a matter of inches for the Dodgers' leadoff hitter. It's all about infield hits. Lately, he has been getting thrown out by a hair frequently at first base and his offensive numbers have suffered for it. Gordon is just 2-for-16 on the homestand and hitless in his past 12 at-bats. He's a .196 career hitter against the San Diego Padres. What's that old line about you can't steal first?

Miguel Rojas, SS: The Dodgers love his glove, but he just couldn't hit enough to hold onto the shortstop gig while Hanley Ramirez was out. In an 0-for-9 slump, Rojas was replaced by Erisbel Arruebarrena, who very well could be the Dodgers' Opening Day shortstop next season. Rojas looks like a nice candidate to hold a bench role the rest of this season and going into next, so at least he has established himself to that degree.

Dodgers recall Erisbel Arruebarrena

August, 19, 2014
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers promoted shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena from Triple-A Albuquerque and optioned infielder Carlos Triunfel on Tuesday.

Arruebarrena, 24, was batting .333 with three doubles, a home run and 11 RBIs in 26 games for the Isotopes. He also was suspended five games for his role in a major brawl between Albuquerque and the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Triple-A Reno team. Arruebarrena angered some Reno players with a slow-motion trip around the bases following a home run and got into it the next game with Reno’s catcher when his throw back to the pitcher got near Arruebarrena’s head.

Arruebarrena has gone 5-for-16 in two call-ups for the Dodgers this season. He was put on the 15-day disabled list July 5 with a strained hip flexor muscle.

Dodgers' infield injury woes continue

July, 6, 2014
DENVER -- The Los Angeles Dodgers again are feeling the pinch at the shortstop position.

On Sunday, a sunscreen-necessary one at that in the Mile High City, the Dodgers placed Erisbel Arruebarrena on the 15-day disabled list with a right hip flexor and recalled infielder Carlos Triunfel from Triple-A Albuquerque before the team’s series finale against the Colorado Rockies.

[+] EnlargeErisbel Arruebarrena
AP Photo/David ZalubowskiErisbel Arruebarrena was placed on the 15-day disabled list after injuring his right hip Friday.
After coming in for Hanley Ramirez during Friday’s contest here, Arruebarrena apparently injured himself running on an eventual ground ball out during his first at-bat in the sixth inning. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly let Arruebarrena finish the game though, saying the shortstop felt fine until he woke up Saturday morning.

“Yesterday, when he came in, he just wasn’t able to do anything,” said Mattingly, who played Ramirez, a health concern in his own right, for all nine innings in Saturday’s 8-7 loss to Colorado.

Arruebarrena, who is 5-for-16 at the dish for L.A. this season, will head to Arizona to get a MRI on his hip later this week. His replacement, Triunfel, is 2-for-13 and has a home run in 10 games with the Dodgers this season.

The Dodgers gave Miguel Rojas the start at shortstop Sunday, with Ramirez getting the day off.

Who’s in the ASG?

The All-Star teams will be announced at 4 p.m. PT Sunday. The Dodgers will most likely send Yasiel Puig and Clayton Kershaw, while Dee Gordon, Zack Greinke and Kenley Jansen also are in the running.

“One thing I will say about the All-Star Game, making it as a young player, you come back with a lot of confidence,” Mattingly said. “You come back into the season, the second half of the season, with a different confidence.”

Asked if he really believed Puig would come back from the ASG in Minneapolis feeling “even more confident,” Mattingly had to retract a bit.

“He may be an exception; he’s pretty confident already,” Mattingly laughed. “He doesn’t seem to lack in confidence.”

Down Under understanding

Mattingly wouldn’t blame the early series in Sydney, Australia, for team’s rough start.

“I can’t go back and guess that,” Mattingly said. “I think we have a rhythm now, definitely. But I can’t be guessing about Australia and blame it on that.”

Ramirez appears healthy in return to lineup

July, 4, 2014
DENVER -- Here’s some relief for Dodgers fans: shortstop Hanley Ramirez's strained left calf and aggravated right shoulder appeared healthy in the team’s 3-2 win over the Colorado Rockies on Thursday night.

[+] EnlargeHanley Ramirez
AP Photo/David ZalubowskiHanley Ramirez went 0-for-2 with two walks Thursday against the Rockies.
Well, at least they appeared to be somewhat healthy. After speculation that Ramirez would most likely end up on the disabled list Thursday, Ramirez instead returned to the lineup and carved out two walks in four plate appearances before he was replaced by rookie Erisbel Arruebarrena for defensive purposes in the eighth inning.

“I can still help this team win games,” Ramirez said.

On Thursday, though, it was starting pitcher Zack Greinke who took much of the spotlight, going eight innings while giving up only two runs. And Juan Uribe took most of the rest of the work, collecting three hits, including the game-winning single in the top of the ninth inning.

Ramirez, meanwhile, made it clear that he’s happy the team is winning. And although his offensive production has dipped -- dipped in the most plunging sense of the word, going from a batting average of .345 in 86 games last year to an average of .269 in 77 games this year -- Ramirez assured reporters Thursday that he wasn’t worried about it.

"The past is the past. I never think about the past,” he said. “I don't care what people think. The only thing I care about is winning games. Numbers, at the end of the year, they're going to be there.”

Ramirez, who will turn 31 in December, will be a free agent after the season. His health and production from here on out will likely be a huge factor in the kind of contract he’ll be offered.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, who was pleased with Ramirez’s performance on Thursday, said his shortstop will be in and out of the lineup heading into the All-Star break.

Time to slide Ramirez to third base

May, 29, 2014
LOS ANGELES -- Don Mattingly seemed to get a little tense the other day when asked to explain the difference between Matt Kemp's struggles in center field and Hanley Ramirez's struggles at shortstop, and why one led to a position switch and the other has not.

Kemp was asked to veer from center and keep walking until he found a position where he could do less damage -- left field as it turns out. Why shouldn't Ramirez be asked as well?

[+] EnlargeHanley Ramirez
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesHanley Ramirez is considered the worst shortstop in the major leagues when it comes to defensive WAR.
If anything, Ramirez is the bigger liability than Kemp. Now that he's healthy and playing in the field every day, the issues that were so obvious in Miami are becoming worrisome in Los Angeles. He has, frankly, been exposed. He's not a shortstop any longer. The advanced defensive metrics paint an absolutely frightening picture for the Dodgers: Ramirez is -10 in Defensive Runs Saved; -6.9 in UZR. He is the worst shortstop in the major leagues, by a wide margin, according to defensive WAR.

Granted, if we take last season as the barometer, Ramirez clearly swings a more impactful bat than Kemp, and the drop-off to the other everyday options at shortstop -- say Erisbel Arruebarrena or Alex Guerrero -- might be steeper than that from Kemp to Andre Ethier.

But still, wouldn't you think the Dodgers have to be considering moving Ramirez to third base, and maybe soon? Their latest medical information on Juan Uribe isn't good. His strained hamstring, Mattingly himself admitted, won't be healthy enough to get him back on the field within the next two weeks and, for all they know, it could be months.

So, why not slide Ramirez to the far left side of the infield and, when Uribe is healthy, use him as in a super-utility role, spelling whomever plays shortstop, playing second base against left-handed pitchers, giving Ramirez a blow at third base once a week or so. He could easily play four or five days a week and the other players would have fresher legs for it.

If the Dodgers really are serious about going all in on their starting pitching -- and that seems like a smart bet if you've been watching these guys throw lately -- they'd be crazy not to at least consider going to their best defensive alignment. The way Dee Gordon has improved at second base, imagine how impermeable this team could be up the middle with Gordon and Arruebarrena turning double plays.

It's simple and doesn't involve shifting Ramirez back and forth, the one thing he has asked the team not to do. Move Ramirez to third and leave him there. It might even take some of the pressure off and allow him to start swinging the bat better.

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Dodgers bet heavily on pitching, defense

May, 26, 2014

LOS ANGELES -- As Hyun-Jin Ryu was getting ready to board the Los Angeles Dodgers’ charter flight from Philadelphia on Sunday evening, he ran into manager Don Mattingly and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt on the tarmac.

“I told him he had to throw a perfect game to top [Josh] Beckett,” Mattingly said.

We’re uncertain whether an interpreter was present, but Ryu apparently took Mattingly’s meaning quite literally. Either way, his response speaks louder than words:

Ryu carried a perfect game into the eighth inning Monday against Cincinnati Reds before Todd Frazier doubled into the corner and foiled the Dodgers’ bid to become the first team in baseball history to throw back-to-back no-hitters.

[+] EnlargeHyun-Jin Ryu
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY SportsHyun-Jin Ryu clearly was up for the challenge set forth by Josh Beckett on Sunday. Ryu flirted with perfection into the eighth on Monday but ultimately fell short of duplicating Beckett's feat.
Ryu was brilliant, mixing his usual assortment of baffling changeups and soft curveballs with a livelier-than-usual fastball that touched 95 mph to render the Reds’ lineup lifeless until a long Dodgers’ seventh inning broke his momentum. It also sapped his legs of some of their vigor when he had to run all the way around the bases to score one of the three runs in the inning.

For a long while, in fact, Ryu was performing better than Beckett, who pitched the first Dodgers’ no-hitter in 18 years Sunday against the Phillies.

What that really tells us is that the Dodgers have a very good starting rotation that is trending toward special. After all, this was 17 hitless innings from the Nos. 3 and 4 starters. The next two guys to pitch are both Cy Young winners -- Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw.

If ever the Dodgers had a chance to get on a roll, it’s now, behind a rotation humming and purring its way through the schedule. And if ever they needed to fix their defensive shortcomings to appease those pitchers and go all-in on stopping the other team from scoring, it was now.

So, if it’s uncomfortable to see one of the team’s most talented players -- Matt Kemp -- stuck to the bench and, according to scouting reports, one of the organization’s weakest hitters -- Erisbel Arruebarrena -- playing every day, keep the prime directive in mind. The Dodgers are about pitching and defense ... always were, really.

They just lost some of their identity while they were jousting with the Washington Nationals for most errors in the league.

So, that’s why Andre Ethier and his two home runs are playing center field every day. That’s why Arruebarrena was tapped as Hanley Ramirez’s replacement. That’s why the Dodgers won’t think about moving Yasiel Puig out of right field, where they think he’s the best defender at his position in the league.

The organization has been in frantic, fix-the-fielding mode for a while now.

“It wasn’t about trying. We were trying, but it was just costing us too much,” Mattingly said. “I know it’s not sexy to play good defense and nobody talks about it too much. But when you watch games, it can cost your pitchers an extra 25 pitches and force you to use your bullpen in different ways.

“It tells you you’ve got to catch the baseball. This pitching is that good that we’ve got to be able to catch the ball for them.”

Justin Turner made two diving stops or nobody would have been buzzing about Ryu’s performance going into the eighth. Arruebarrena has a reputation for brilliant glove work, and if he can hit just a little he might force the Dodgers to consider moving Ramirez to third base when he returns from a strained calf.

In fact, moving Ramirez seems like a smart move this point. It would turn Juan Uribe into a utility player, but they should be able to find at-bats for him at third, shortstop and second. Plus, neither Uribe, 35, nor Ramirez, 30, has held up physically when asked to play every day over the past two seasons.

Kemp might prove a perfectly serviceable left fielder or someone you can live with in center when you’re facing a left-handed pitcher. But leaky defense has always looked like the thing that could sink this Dodgers season.

When you have pitching this good, the last thing you want to do is leave your pitchers stranded.

Rapid Reaction: Dodgers 4, Reds 3

May, 26, 2014

LOS ANGELES -- If you were at Monday night’s Dodgers game -- and millions of you would have said you were -- you nearly saw something that had never been done.

Hyun-Jin Ryu carried a perfect game into the eighth inning before Todd Frazier yanked a changeup into the left-field corner for a leadoff double, foiling a bid at history.

Had Ryu been able to get six more outs in what wound up a 4-3 Dodgers win over the Cincinnati Reds, he would have combined with Josh Beckett to give the Dodgers the first back-to-back no-hitters in baseball history. Beckett, who no-hit the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday, was among the first people to greet Ryu with a high-five when he came into the dugout after being removed by Don Mattingly in the eighth.

One team, the 1917 St. Louis Browns, pulled off no-hitters on consecutive days, but the second came on the back end of a doubleheader.

How it happened: Ryu was mesmerizing, changing speeds as usual and summoning unusual zip when he got in jams. He got Brandon Phillips to ground out on a 95 mph fastball in the seventh inning.

The Dodgers didn’t exactly rack up the baserunners off the Reds’ Johnny Cueto, one of the National League’s toughest pitchers this season. L.A. got a run in the third inning but also left the bases loaded that inning.

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, a utility player thrust into the starting lineup by an injury to Juan Uribe, made two diving stops behind Ryu. Turner also drove up Cueto's pitch count with a 16-pitch at-bat that led to a walk in the seventh inning and started a three-run rally.

The long Dodgers' rally in the seventh, during which Ryu had to run the bases, seemed to throw off his rhythm. The Reds bunched two more hits. Then reliever Brian Wilson continued to struggle, with closer Kenley Jansen having to be summoned to get the final four outs. Jansen struck out Phillips to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth.

Hits: For a guy who has started only 170 major league games, Drew Butera has done some extraordinary things. He has caught two no-hitters, Beckett’s and Francisco Liriano’s for the Minnesota Twins in 2011. Much of it, of course, is luck. But Butera is an excellent defensive catcher and, apparently, calls a pretty fair game behind the plate.

Misses: The Dodgers are trying their best to fix their defensive shortcomings. They replaced Matt Kemp in center field with Andre Ethier. They’re using acrobatic shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena at shortstop in place of injured Hanley Ramirez. But it has come with some cost in the lineup. The Dodgers have scored four runs or fewer in five of their past six games. As usual, all personnel decisions have trade-offs. The Dodgers apparently are going all in on pitching and defense, at least for now.

Stat of the game: Yasiel Puig reached base safely for the 27th consecutive game with his third-inning walk.

Up next: The Dodgers’ strong pitching has a good chance to continue for a while. The next two games are pitched by Zack Greinke (7-1, 2.01 ERA) and Clayton Kershaw (3-1, 3.49). The Dodgers will face Alfredo Simon (6-2, 2.31 ERA) Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. PT.

Series preview: Reds at Dodgers

May, 26, 2014
The Dodgers have overcome losing ace Clayton Kershaw for more than a month, shaky fielding all season and scant production from a handsomely paid outfield during April. Monday presents another challenge: trying to score off the most dominant pitcher in the National League.

Most numbers indicate that’s what Johnny Cueto has been for the Cincinnati Reds, who visit Dodger Stadium for a three-game series Monday through Wednesday.

Cueto leads the majors in WHIP (0.74) and the National League in strikeouts (82). He’s fourth in the league with a 1.86 ERA, but carries just a 4-3 record. Then again, the one starter who has, arguably, pitched better than Cueto, the Chicago Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija, is 0-4.

Cueto is coming off his only so-so outing of the season, in which he gave up six earned runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings against the Washington Nationals and, afterward, told reporters, “I’m human.” It was his only non-quality start of 2014. He also is 1-3 with a 4.09 ERA at Dodger Stadium.

Dodgers starters haven’t been too shabby themselves. After Josh Beckett's first career no-hitter Sunday in Philadelphia, they are third in the National League with a 3.14 ERA. One area they’d like to improve on is pitching deeper into games. Dodgers starters have worked 298 1/3 innings, good for 12th in the majors.

The Dodgers were impressed with Hyun-Jin Ryu's command after he spent nearly three weeks on the disabled list with some discomfort in his left shoulder and they were even more impressed after he struck out nine New York Mets and gave up two runs in six innings in his last start. The only time Ryu faced the Reds, he was amped up for a showdown with fellow Korean Shin-Soo Choo, who signed last winter as a free agent with the Texas Rangers.

Ryu allowed only two hits and struck out nine in seven innings against the Reds at Dodger Stadium last year.

The Reds might be a little sluggish after traveling through the night after playing the Sunday night game.

The Reds have made the fewest errors in the National League while the Dodgers have made the second-most. On the other hand, the Dodgers have taken some steps to try to improve their defense in recent games, replacing Matt Kemp with Andre Ethier in center field and using light-hitting defensive whiz Erisbel Arruebarrena at shortstop. Kemp, who has begun working out in left field, figures to get a start against Cueto since he’s 6-for-12 against him lifetime.

The Dodgers have not announced whether Hanley Ramirez will be put on the 15-day disabled list with a calf injury, but it appeared to be heading that way.

Dodgers' two-year plan seems to be Hanley at third

March, 7, 2014
Hanley Ramirez is setting himself up for a pretty handsome payday.

One could argue he was, when healthy, the best offensive player in baseball not named Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout last season. After a few down years, perhaps due to his recovery from shoulder surgery, Ramirez returned to being the force his early career had suggested.

And, for a player who has been dogged for a while by questions about his attitude, he showed up this spring in good shape and saying all the right things. The Dodgers have made it known they'd like to sign Ramirez to a long-term contract extension to keep him in Los Angeles beyond 2014. Ramirez said he'd like that, too.

But where should he play? That's the question that has followed Ramirez around for the last few years. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register this week that, presuming the Dodgers can sign him long-term, a return to third base is in the works.

"I’ve asked him, ‘Honestly, where do you think you’re going to end up?’ " Mattingly told Plunkett. "And he says, ‘Third base.’ I think he knows as you get older, you make that move. Hanley is like Alex (Rodriguez). He’s got third base power and pop. As he gets older, obviously guys are going to slow down."

Ramirez was agnostic about the move, saying he'll do whatever the Dodgers ask and that he only would object if he's asked to move back and forth within a season. The move seems to be in keeping with the Dodgers' long-term plan of using slick-fielding Cuban defector Erisbel Arruebarrena at shorstop and shifting Juan Uribe into a utility role for the second season of his two-year deal.

The only problem with the plan is that Ramirez might be a worse third baseman than he is a shortstop. The Dodgers would simply be stashing him at a position where he his shaky defense would be less exposed, because third base typically sees the least action of any of the infield spots. In 2012, his one season at third base, Ramirez had an Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) of -3.6 and his Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) was -11. These are worse numbers than in five of Ramirez's seasons at shortstop, including last year, when he may even have been above-average in a smaller sample.

Essentially, the Dodgers seem to be hinting that Ramirez would do less harm at third than he would at shortstop. That begs the question of whether his best long-term trajectory might be in left field, first base or designated hitter. Of course, none of those options are open to the Dodgers at the moment.



Yasiel Puig
.296 16 69 92
HRA. Gonzalez 27
RBIA. Gonzalez 116
RY. Puig 92
OPSY. Puig .863
WC. Kershaw 21
ERAC. Kershaw 1.77
SOC. Kershaw 239