Chat with Tony Jackson
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPNLosAngeles.com Dodgers writer Tony Jackson stops by to chat about the MLB season.
Jackson covered the Dodgers for the Los Angeles Daily News for more than five seasons. He has covered Major League Baseball on a regular basis for 15 years in Denver, Cincinnati and Los Angeles.
Send your questions now and join Jackson Thursday at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT!
Tony Jackson (6:01 PM)
Good afternoon everyone (and especially to you, Dylan). It's a beautiful day at Dodger Stadium, but most of us here in the press box are dragging a bit after last night's marathon. However, I'm ready for your questions, so start firing them at me.
Matt M ( boston, MA)
how come the dodgers are trying to trade for an ace, we have the talent to give up?
Tony Jackson (6:03 PM)
I'm not sure they are trying to trade for an ace right now, although as the summer trading deadline approaches, if they're in contention, you can bet they will be looking for one then. They do have some minor-league talent, but most of it is at the lower rungs of the system.
Hey Tony -- how worried is Joe Torre about the bullpen?
Tony Jackson (6:08 PM)
Jud, I think he is very worried, and you can read between the lines of what he says after every game. Joe isn't the type to rip on his players or his team, but he has a way of expressing when he's not happy about something that leaves little doubt as to how he feels. Keep in mind that Belisario and Kuo will be back soon, possibly by sometime next week. Once that happens, everybody can kind of settle into their usual roles. Until then, they have to try to stay afloat with these guys.
Tony Jackson (6:12 PM)
No, he usually runs into the same issues when he's good or bad. It's just on the nights when he is good, he is able to correct is more quickly. He always goes through these little spells where he loses the strike zone, and nobody -- least of all Clayton himself -- can figure out exactly what causes that. But it has been his undoing in both of his two starts this season.
Tess (Sierra Madre)
Hey Tony, Is there any difference you see in Kershaw's approach between nights when he's "on" and nights when he's "off"?
Tony Jackson (6:12 PM)
There is the question to which the last answer applies. Sorry about that
Tony Jackson (6:18 PM)
Well, he has been great at the plate. Even though he is hitting just .200, he has a .429 OBP, and while I'm not a Moneyball devotee, I do wholeheartedly subscribe to the notion that OBP is a much more important stat than batting avg. Dewitt has been an adventure at times at 2B, and he did commit an error in Pittsburgh that basically cost the Dodgers a game, but he also has made some outstanding plays there. I think with time, he's going to be fine. But I also think it's going to be harder and harder to keep Ronnie Belliard out of the everyday lineup the way he is hitting -- 7 for 13, four extra-base hits -- and if DeWitt is supplanted, he'll have to go to Triple-A so he can play regularly
What are your thoughts on Blake DeWitt's first two weeks?
Tony Jackson (6:19 PM)
Again, I posted the answer before the question. Again, I apologize.
Are these moments when the team starts off unevenly when Joe Torre is at his best? Or is there nothing much to "manage" yet?
Tony Jackson (6:20 PM)
Joe's biggest strength as a manager is his calming demeanor, which keeps everyone from panicking. So in some ways, yes, this is when he is at his best. It's a long, long season, and a 3-5 start is nothing to panic over, especially when you know there are reinforcements coming for the bullpen and the lineup has been outstanding thus far.
Louis (san francisco)
Tony, Any chance that the Dodgers bring up McDonald or Elbert and release one of the Ortiz guys while they are waiting for Kuo and Belly
Tony Jackson (6:21 PM)
Probably not, although that was the first question I asked Joe after the game last night -- not specifically whether they were going to bring up J-Mac or Elbert, but more did they need to add a reliever because they used so many last night and the toll that might take on the bullpen for today. He said no, that the good thing about last night was that nobody had an extended outing, so they should be fine.
Mike (Los Feliz)
I've seen the Dodgers take two pretty tough losses here early in the season...I'm thinking one of the Pittsburgh games and this one last night right off the top of my head...do such things bother players this early on? Does it dampen their early season spirits?
Tony Jackson (6:23 PM)
For the younger guys who haven't been through it before, yes. For the older guys who realize what a long season it is, no. Don't forget, the Dodgers were written off as dead with about five weeks to go in 2008, and they wound up in the NLCS. Most of the players from that team are still here, and that experience is an invaluable thing when a team is going through a rough patch.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
When will we see Joe Torre face the New York Yankees the team where he won 4 World Championships with?
Tony Jackson (6:24 PM)
Chris he will face them on June 25-27 when the Yankees come to Los Angeles for a three-game interleague series, the first matchup between the two clubs since 2004, when the Dodgers took two of three, also at Dodger Stadium.
Hi Tony, I know it's really early in the season, but given both teams' starts so far, what do the dodgers want to see out of this weekends series against hte Giants to know they're on the right track?
Tony Jackson (6:28 PM)
Tom they want to win two out of three, just like any other series. Joe Torre, like a lot of other managers, always says the key is to win as many SERIES as you can over the course of a season, regardless of who the opponent is. Dodgers will run into Lincecum on Saturday, but if they can find a way to beat a very beatable Todd Wellemeyer on Friday night and somehow beat a resurgent Barry Zito on Sunday, that'll be a positive step.
erik (los angeles)
ok thsi might be a weird question, but lets say Loney wanted to work on something with his bat in the offseason. Couldhe go work with Rudy Jaramillo, or is Rudy not allowed to work with other teams players even in the offseason?
Tony Jackson (6:30 PM)
Erik, I'm not sure what the rule on that is. In your hypothetical example, I would guess if it was approved by both the Cubs and the Dodgers, it would be OK.
At what point does Mr. McCourt realize that you have to pay for some talent to be competitive. The Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Phillies all have some home grown talent along with higher priced free agents. You can't pick from the bottom of the barrel and expect to win all the time!! It's getting frustrating to watch.
Tony Jackson (6:31 PM)
Bradley, wait until the divorce is finalized, then we will get a more definitive picture of that. I think right now, Frank is being conservative because he doesn't know how all this is going to turn out and what his finances will be when it's over.
Eric Stephen (Victorville)
Sure, it may have been midnight and we all wanted to go to sleep, but wouldn't it have been cool if the Dodgers had tied the game in the 11th, if only for the chance to see (former HS pitcher) James Loney take the mound in the 12th?
Tony Jackson (6:33 PM)
It would have been NOVEL. Not sure about cool, though. Although I stand in staunch opposition to the DH, I still say I hate to see National League games go longer than about 11 or 12 innings because they turn into a joke after that because you end up with position players pitching, pitchers playing positions, etc. Some people find that fascinating, and I'm not saying they're wrong. But I find that it turns the game into a travesty.
Mike (Lake Forest, CA)
Have you, or another member of the media, ever gotten a straight answer from Frank McCourt about how the Dodgers can have a $80 million payroll? Every time someone asks him about he talks about Division titles and brings up the past. Never get a real answer.
Tony Jackson (6:34 PM)
Mike, no and we never will. Only thing I can tell you is that I believe Frank actually wanted to get the payroll to $80 million (or $70 million) as far back as 2005 or 2006, but he was finally made to realize that if he was going to turn the franchise around, he would have to keep it in the $100 million range for the firest few years. Now, I think he is getting it down to where he always wanted it, although the divorce is a factor as well.
Tony, do you think there's ANY chance the Dodgers will make a deal for a front-line pitcher this summer? Their offense seems charged but I'm afraid the McCourts' divorce will keep it from happening.
Tony Jackson (6:36 PM)
Jim, there is a chance, but I wouldn't say there is a huge chance. Will probably take a creative deal where the other team picks up a big chunk of a guy's contract just to get rid of him and get prospects back for him rather than waiting to lose him on the free-agent market.
This Saturday game v. Giants/Lincecum is top billing in my mind...are there any individual matchups you're looking forward to or particular plate strategies the Dodgers are likely to use?
Tony Jackson (6:37 PM)
Ike, I haven't really thought about it. We usually get a matchup sheet the day before a series starts, but we haven't gotten one yet for the Giants. When we get it, I usually peruse it for potential marquee matchups. But I'll be surprised if I find out that any of the Dodgers have had a great deal of success against Lincecum.
Can we dream of a Crawford-Kemp-Ethier OF?
Tony Jackson (6:39 PM)
Paul, yes you can dream of that. I can dream of dating Jessica Alba, too, but that doesn't mean it's going to happen. However, your dream is a tad more realistic than mine. Carl Crawford is going to be one of the prized free agents on next winter's market, and if Frank McCourt is willing to pony up, I think it would be a hugely popular and successful addition. But Frank's recent track record suggests he isn't going to be willing to spend what it would take to bring a guy like that to town.
Eric Stephen (Victorville)
When is the last time a pitcher played a position during the game? Also, position players pitching in 2009: NL 6, AL 4
Tony Jackson (6:41 PM)
Eric, I'm not sure when the last time was, but I do remember Fernando playing 1B in a marathon game in the late '80s.
John (El Monte)
$80 Million, are you kidding me? This is Los Angeles!!?! The dodgers are 11th in payroll yet 1st in attendance. Something isn't right here. Any chance that Russian Billionaire takes up an interest in baseball?
Tony Jackson (6:44 PM)
Right, but a lot of teams have won a lot of World Series with far less than that in their payroll. Remember the 2003 Marlins?
Tony Jackson (6:45 PM)
Going to cut it off a little early today because we appear to have run out of questions and the clubhouse is open to media. See you all next week, and thanks again for your participation.