Dodger Thoughts: Game chat

September 26 game chat

September, 26, 2011
9/26/11
4:30
PM PT
Ryan Braun, and this is understandable, is getting a day (or at least a start) off before the playoffs. So unless he pinch-hits, his batting average should remain at .333. Jose Reyes grounded out in his first at-bat to fall to .330. Matt Kemp is at .324 as play begins tonight.

Cliff Lee gave up a first-inning home run tonight, meaning that to catch Clayton Kershaw for the ERA title, he now needs to pitch into the 15th inning for the Phillies without giving up any more runs.

Triple Crown and Cy Young watch

September, 25, 2011
9/25/11
7:55
AM PT
Jose Reyes (.32950)
Roy Halladay
Phillies at Mets, 11:10 a.m.

Ryan Braun (.33092)
Marlins at Brewers, 11:10 a.m.

Albert Pujols (37 homers)
Cubs at Cardinals, 11:15 a.m.

Matt Kemp (.32534, 37 homers)

Update: Ryan Braun is 2 for 3 so far today, including his 33rd homer, and is now hitting .333.

September 24 game chat

September, 24, 2011
9/24/11
4:58
PM PT

Once more unto the breach, dear friends ...
  • Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com traces Clayton Kershaw's development to superstar.
    ... When Kershaw's second pitch in the top of the sixth inning hit Parra on his front elbow, plate umpire Bill Welke ejected the pitcher immediately.

    The next day I asked the same veteran player who had told Kershaw it would be OK to back away from this fight whether or not Kershaw had proved something to him, whether he liked him more or less than he had the day before.

    "Neither," the player said. "I already knew him." ...
  • Here's an interview on YouTube with Vin Scully talking about Matt Kemp, Kershaw and more, courtesy of Marty Caswell.
  • Peter Gammons endorses Kemp for NL MVP in a long piece at MLB.com.
  • Joe Block of Dodger Talk speculates that, because of the theory of "progression to the mean," injuries deprived Juan Uribe the opportunity to recover from his poor first half of the season.
  • Kevin Baxter of the Times runs a list of the top 10 free agents this offseason alongside the cautionary tale of the top 10 free-agent flops of last offseason.
  • John Sickels of Minor League Ball checks in on some minor-leaguers with major-league bloodlines, including one Matt Scioscia.
Vowing to reject any TV deal that involves the Dodgers with Frank McCourt as owner, Major League Baseball filed a motion requesting the bankruptcy court to order a sale of the franchise.
... Attorneys for the league argued in a court filing that McCourt is using the team's Chapter 11 case to try to resolve his own personal financial problems. They said he has methodically stripped the team of its revenue sources and is now seeking to auction off the team's television rights without league approval, which could lead to its expulsion from the league and leave it in economic ruin. ...

Bill Shaikin of the Times first reported the story, which included this haymaker of a passage:
... The current Fox Sports contract with the Dodgers expires in 2013, and Fox holds exclusive negotiating rights for another 14 months. A sale of TV rights now not only would subject the Dodgers to significant damages in a lawsuit from Fox, baseball argued, but could result in MLB discipline up to and including the team's suspension from the league. ...

Fancy. Still, before it comes to that, we'll presumably just see this continued to be played out in court.

More from Shaikin, who spoke with Thomas Salerno, lead attorney for the Phoenix Coyotes during their bankruptcy:
... By announcing its rejection of any deal before a sale could take place, and by signaling its veto of a plan that McCourt could use to pay all the Dodgers' creditors in full, Salerno said, the league could be seen as not acting in good faith.

"I think MLB runs a risk that the judge says that's not reasonable," Salerno said.

Since a settlement in the case is highly unlikely, Judge Kevin Gross could issue a ruling that stands as precedent for other disputes between owners and leagues.

"This case is clearly going to make law," Salerno said. "The league is going all in."

* * *

Since Carl Yastrzemski won the Triple Crown in 1967, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Matt Kemp "is the only player to date to be within five points of the league leader in batting average (or leading), within one HR of the league leader (or leading), and within one RBI of the league leader (or leading), in the last 15 days of the season, let alone the last week of the season," reports ESPN Stats and Information.

* * *

With Eugenio Velez starting tonight, a reminder of where he stands:
  • 0 for 33 this season
  • 0 for 42 since his last major-league hit, May 18, 2010
  • Since a third-inning single on April 20, 2010: 1 for his last 62 in the majors.

Home finale game chat

September, 22, 2011
9/22/11
5:06
PM PT

Last chance to boycott the Dodgers in 2011 ...
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Game chat


Kirby Lee/US PresswireKenley Jansen has allowed two runs since June, while stranding all nine runners he has inherited.
Keeping this as concise as possible in the interest of time:
  • Kenley Jansen has struck out 25 of his past 40 batters.
  • Kenley Jansen has gotten 25 of his past 31 outs via the strikeout.
  • Kenley Jansen is so overwhelming right now, a Giants blog, Bay City Ball, rhapsodized about him.
  • Kenley Jansen has a WHIP of 0.671 since coming off the disabled list in June, allowing eight singles, a double and 10 walks in 28 1/3 innings.
  • Kenley Jansen has allowed a .098 batting average, .192 on-base percentage and .109 slugging percentage in that time.
  • Kenley Jansen is the Dodgers' most dominant reliever, the reliever you'd most trust to get an out when you need it.

It is for these reasons that I hope the Dodgers do not make Kenley Jansen a closer next season.

Tuesday's victory illustrated why. If Jansen were the closer, Dodger manager Don Mattingly would have held him back until the ninth inning, rather than having him come put out the fire when Clayton Kershaw gave up a home run and two walks in the eighth inning.

It's far better that Jansen be available at the game's biggest crisis point, whatever inning that comes.

My hope is that if Mattingly feels he must have a regular closer in 2012, he is seduced by Guerra's 19 saves in 20 opportunities and keeps him in that slot. Nothing against Guerra, who has been one of the season's most pleasant surprises, but he is not a smokejumper like Jansen, who looks more capable of putting out the toughest fires than any other Dodger reliever.

* * *
  • With Colorado's loss to San Diego today, the Dodgers' clinched no worse than a third-place finish in the National League West.
  • Matt Kemp could be the first NL player to finish in the top two in home runs and steals since Hank Aaron in 1963, according to Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A.
  • From the Dodger press notes: "Since Aug. 1, James Loney leads the National League with a .359 batting average (51-for-142) and ranks among the league leaders in doubles (15, T-1st), on-base percentage (.425, 4th) and slugging percentage (.627, 2nd)."
  • Kenny Shulsen of Lasorda's Lair predicted Jerry Sands' home run off Tim Lincecum on Tuesday — a home run, I believe that will be remembered when debating Sands' potential this offseason.
  • Tuesday was the 50th anniversary of the Dodgers' final regular season game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, notes Keith Thursby at the Daily Mirror, which also features a Jim Murray column commemorating the event. Sandy Koufax struck out 15 in a 13-inning complete-game victory. If Baseball-Reference.com is accurate, Koufax threw 213 pitches in the game.

Best wishes to Derrick Hall

September, 20, 2011
9/20/11
5:05
PM PT
Tough news out of Arizona: Diamodbacks CEO and former Dodger executive Derrick Hall has prostate cancer. More from the Diamondbacks' official site:
... A date for surgery to remove the tumors has not yet been scheduled. Hall underwent a series of tests recently and had a prostate biopsy performed on Sept. 14.

"I was informed by my doctor while in San Diego with the team Saturday," Hall said. "I am fortunate the disease was caught in the early stages and expect a full recovery. I will use this news as an opportunity to educate and drive awareness, while hopefully saving more lives in the future. I am in great hands, and my family and I are confident we will get through this successfully. I notified all of my staff immediately and am eternally grateful for the overwhelming support, love and prayers."

Hall underwent a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test, which resulted in elevated numbers and then underwent the prostate biopsy. That test was diagnosed as positive and revealed cancerous tumors.

D-backs managing general partner Ken Kendrick is a prostate cancer survivor. ...


* * *
    Congrats to Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness - he's engaged! To his girlfriend! She finally bagged her a Homer.
  • Matt Kemp won the Dodgers' Roy Campanella Award, "given to the Dodger player who best exemplifies the spirit and leadership of the late Hall of Fame catcher." Rafael Furcal, Russell Martin, James Loney, Juan Pierre and Jamey Carroll are previous winners of the six-year-old trophy.
  • Frank McCourt winning his hearing on TV rights, Tony Gwynn Jr.'s close friendship and James Loney's willingness to move to left field — all reasons to speculate about Prince Fielder coming to Los Angeles, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
  • Manny Ramirez plans to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic this year, reports The Associated Press.
  • Tommy Lasorda will be in uniform as an honorary coach for the Dodgers' home finale September 22, which happens to be the birthday of Lasorda, my daughter and Molly Knight.
  • From the Dodger press notes: Dee Gordon "is tied the for NL lead along with Florida’s Emilio Bonifacio with 28 September hits and ranks fifth on the circuit with a .373 batting average this month (28-for-75). The 23-year-old also leads the Majors with nine stolen bases in 17 September games and overall ranks second among NL rookies with 21 steals in 27 attempts (77.8%). Gordon went 3-for-4 on Sunday to extend his career-long hitting streak to six games and is batting .423 (11-for-26) since the run began on Sept. 13. He is batting .337 (35-for-104) in the season’s second half, which ranks sixth among NL qualifiers."
  • Tonight's matchup between Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum reunites two pitchers who, as of now, are in the top 20 in major-league history in adjusted ERA for starting pitchers (minimum 700 innings), according to Baseball-Reference.com.

September 18 game chat

September, 18, 2011
9/18/11
11:42
AM PT

"How a line drive percentage boost has helped Matt Kemp," from Mark A. Simon of ESPN Stats and Information:
Matt Kemp hit line drives on 16 percent of the balls he put in play in 2010. He’s upped that rate to 22 percent in 2011 (statistics through Wednesday's games).


How much of a difference does a six percentage point jump make? Let’s explore:

In 2010, Matt Kemp had 50 hits on his 71 line drives (50-for-69, .725 BA, two sacrifice fly)

In 2011, through Wednesday, he has 72 hits on 91 line drives (72-for-90, .800 BA, 1 sacrifice fly)

Hypothetically, let’s say that Kemp was hitting line drives at a similar rate to last season and that he was getting hits on them at a similar rate to last season.

In our new situation, that would give him 48 hits on 66 line drives

That would give him 24 fewer hits than he has right now.

To account for those 25 balls he hit that we’re no longer considering line drives (91 minus 66), Let’s presume he still hit those balls- but hit flies and grounders.

Kemp has hit fly balls and ground balls this season at nearly the same rate. So let’s give him 13 fly balls and 12 ground balls. And his hit rates on those are such that it should add about 8 hits to his ledger.

In all, that would mean that the increased line drive rate and line drive performance has been worth about 16 hits to Kemp’s ledger.

If we took those 16 hits and turned them into outs, it would chop 30 points off Matt Kemp’s batting average.

He’d be hitting .286 instead of .316. Still pretty good, but would perception be any different, given that he’s still a 30 HR-30 SB player?

* * *

On Thursday night, I read a review in the New Yorker (abstracted here and also discussed here) of a new novel, "The Art of Fielding" by Chad Harbach.

In Friday's mail was a copy of the book, sent to me by my father. Nice.
Ted Lilly, trying to stave off joining the 30-30 club, hasn't allowed a home run in his past three starts, his longest stretch since April. This season, Lilly has allowed 28 home runs and 33 steals (in 35 attempts).

According to Baseball-Reference.com, there have been 18 pitcher 30-30 seasons since 1950, none since Gavin Floyd of the White Sox in 2008 and none in the National League since Randy Johnson of Arizona in 1999.

Trayvon's way

September, 16, 2011
9/16/11
1:28
PM PT
Former Dodger prospect Trayvon Robinson is the subject of a great feature and multimedia presentation by Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times that illustrates just how improbable and challenging the young outfielder's journey to the majors was.

September 15 game chat

September, 15, 2011
9/15/11
6:11
PM PT
Two members of tonight's Dodger starting lineup started 2011 in the National League.
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Better late than never ...
  • The McCourt hearing today was mostly a tablesetter, according to The Associated Press. Bill Shaikin of the Times adds that a trial in 2012 will settle the question of McCourt ownership between Frank and Jamie. The date for that trial is to be decided in November. While the team is in bankruptcy, it will not be sold, Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon said.
  • Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic supplies some background to the Hong-Chih Kuo-Gerardo Parra spat.
  • Roy Halladay, Clayton Kershaw's top rival for the Cy Young Award, shut out the Astros today.
  • Dodger postgame radio host Joe Block speculates that Kershaw might win 300 games.
  • An Arizona victory tonight would eliminate the Dodgers from the National League West race. And the NL wild card could be out of reach as soon as Thursday.

September 13 game chat

September, 13, 2011
9/13/11
4:59
PM PT

To the extent that Ian Kennedy is a contender, the Dodgers can help Clayton Kershaw's Cy Young Award hopes by doing a number on the Diamondback righty tonight - and preventing him from reaching the number 20, as in wins.

* * *

Dee Gordon surpassed Rafael Furcal on Tuesday in innings played at shortstop for the Dodgers this season.
  • Gordon: 310 2/3 innings, 162 chances, 54 putouts, 100 assists, eight errors
  • Furcal: 304 2/3 innings, 156 chances, 57 putouts, 95 assists, four errors

* * *

Dodger position player complete game leaders, via Baseball-Reference.com:

134 Matt Kemp
124 Andre Ethier
113 James Loney
91 Jamey Carroll
83 Aaron Miles
69 Rod Barajas
55 Tony Gwynn Jr.
54 Juan Uribe
45 Dioner Navarro
39 Casey Blake
32 Rafael Furcal
31 Dee Gordon

* * *
  • Kershaw is the Dodgers' nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, given to the major leaguer "who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement."
  • At True Blue L.A., Chad Moriyama writes about how low-cost relievers carried the day for the Dodger bullpen.
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Bureau of Engraving and PrintingNot everyone went to Best Buy on Wednesday. Ted Lilly (middle left) and Clayton Kershaw (middle right) of the Dodgers saw a demonstration on the currency production process at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, D.C. More about the visit from U.S. treasurer and diehard Oakland A's fan Rosie Rios.


Prime Ticket for Game 1 of today's scheduled doubleheader; KCAL Channel 9 for Game 2.

It's time to participate in Tangotiger's annual Fans Scouting Report. Head on over before today's game.

All-time single-season leaders in strikeouts per nine innings, minimum 40 innings pitched: Kenley Jansen is now No. 2 with 15.04.
The Dodgers have recalled John Ely and Jerry Sands while purchasing the contract of Tim Federowicz from Albuquerque. Federowicz will become the 48th player to suit up for the 2011 Dodgers once he gets in a game.

When that will happen is a bit murky. Dylan Hernandez of the Times tweeted that Federowicz might not play until the last week or two of the season because Don Mattingly wants him to get used to his "new environment." Aside from this making more sense if Federowicz were joining the Terra Nova Dodgers, I can't quite believe that Mattingly thinks it's necessary for the young catcher to have no game action for more than a week. It's not as if the Dodgers have been doing that with any of their other young farmboys this year.

In a procedural move, injured pitcher Vicente Padilla was moved to the 60-day disabled list, so the number of players on the Dodgers' 40-man roster remains the same.

Meanwhile, to give Sands at-bats, Don Mattingly will have to take some playing time from either Juan Rivera or Andre Ethier. That could mean more angst for Ethier, whose saga gets scoped out by Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Zack Greinke
WINS ERA SO IP
11 2.90 130 124
OTHER LEADERS
BAY. Puig .308
HRA. Gonzalez 14
RBIA. Gonzalez 62
RD. Gordon 54
OPSY. Puig .915
ERAC. Kershaw 1.92
SOC. Kershaw 134