Thursday, April 10, 2008

I Like Loney and Mango Pickles

by Art

James Loney has hit safely in all of his nine games this season.

I like Loney and I think I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say he's the first Dodger I've ever seen that has the potential to maybe approach "The Streak". It's considered the unbreakable record and it's been held by Joe DiMaggio for going on 67 years; in 1941 he hit safely in 56 consecutive games. Loney is no DiMaggio, but even DiMaggio wasn't DiMaggio when The Streak started. He puts the bat on the ball more consistently then anyone I've ever seen play. Last year he hit .331 with a strikeout once every 7.1 at-bats; this year (so far) he's hitting .364 with a considerably lower at-bat/strikeout ratio of 5.5 but he always seems to find a way to put the bat on the ball.

Fun fact: in '41 DiMaggio struck out a total of 13 times the entire season, Loney already has six.

I'm not saying he's going to break 56 or even approach it, all I'm saying is he is the only Dodger I've ever seen to have Streak-like potential.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Offensive Woes

by Art.

Matt Kemp826270109.269
R. Martin9294303610.103
Andruw Jones9310401310.129
Juan Pierre718030101.167

Our reliance on our pitching is becoming unfair. The Dodgers have scored three or fewer runs in six of their nine games, four of those games accounting for almost all of their five losses on the season. It's a tribute to Dodger pitching that we've been able to salvage and win two of those six.

Of all of the Dodger bats no one looks worse then Andruw Jones who started the day on the bench in today's 4-3 loss against Arizona. It's a joy to watch him play the outfield but it's a chore to watch him bat. He just looks over matched out there.

This is nothing new to the Dodgers who have struggled at the plate since the early nineties when I remember begging for a hit when runners were in scoring position. So far in this young season the Dodgers have stranded 132 runners. Let me say that again, 132!!!! Their wins haven't looked much better then their losses: in their four wins this season they've averaged 12.75 stranded runners a game meanwhile that number balloons when they lose to 16.2. If they were able to score just two of those 16.2 well then you're looking at 6-3 record, which would put them in a tie for first with Arizona instead of three games back.

It's only nine games into the season and it's crazy to panic or to read too much into what's going on yet. Martin will get better, Kemp is on his way back, and Jones might carry last year's slump into this year but he can't be this bad all season so there is reason to be hopeful, I just hope we don't blow out our pitching before then.

Friday, April 4, 2008


by Art

He scored the first run of the season on Kent's home run and he scored the winning run on an infield single the next day in the bottom of the ninth. On Wednesday he went 0 for 4 with a walk and two strikeouts leaving three men on base and the Dodgers loose by one run. It's evident to me, even this early in the season, that as Rafael Furcal goes, so do the Dodgers.

Nice to see DeWitt is doing well. Actually I think I like him better then LaRoche who reminds me of my dog Floyd when I take him to the dog park. If it were up to me I'd trade LaRoche when given a chance and use DeWitt as Nomar's backup. He's come into a tough situation and stepped up and that's the kind of attitude I like to see in a Dodger. Now having said that the kid is only going to do well for so long. This isn't football when the season is over 16 weeks after it begins, we play 162 in the majors and it's only a matter of time before he starts to struggle. Hopefully by then Nomar is back and can take some of the pressure off.

Pierre is on the bench and deservedly so, the guy batter below the Mendoza line in spring and the one chance he gets to prove himself on Wednesday he bunts back to the box and gets caught stealing for the last out. Talk about anti-climactic. Torre has Ethier taking some ground balls at first in hopes to alleviate the congested outfield and it makes sense. Pierre isn't good enough or powerful enough as a pinch hitter and using him solely as a pinch runner seems like a waste; with Pierre the only way you're going to reap the benefits of his style of play, and there are benefits, is by playing him every day. I know I said I would have gone with Pierre over Ethier but I was wrong. Ethier's earned it: he looks like he's lost some weight and solidified his swing, the kid is better then I thought and will probably be good for a long time. Maybe it's time to alleviate some payroll and trade Pierre to perhaps the Cubs. It's only fair to the veteran and maybe we can acquire a proper 4th outfielder.

Martin is the new Dodger god. If you're not on his bandwagon I suggest getting on. Just look what Kuroda had to say about the guy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Not Enough Skills to Play the Bills

If I were a young pitcher in my first real spring with the major league club I'd be pitching better then Billingsly. Everyone tells me that he's been given the four spot (perhaps three), but in a rotation full of right handed pitchers, if I were him, I'd make sure I wasn't the weakest one. Especially when two lefties behind me, not expected to crack the starters squad, and the two veterans competing for the five hole are pitching so well.

Esteban Loaiza, Chan Ho Park, Clayton Kershaw, and Hong-Chih Kuo are all having amazing springs with a combined ERA of 1.22 over 37 innings. Park is throwing the best, allowing no earned runs in 12 innings pitched and the front runner for the 5th spot Loaiza allowing four earned runs also over 12 innings.

Meanwhile the group of Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsly, Brad Penny and Hiroki Kuroda have combined for a whopping ERA of 5.73 over 50.1 innings with Billingsly skewing the curve with 11 earned runs over 13.1. In this group only Penny is pulling his weight, dominating the spring with a 0.90 ERA over three starts and ten innings.

Spring is a time when everyone is working out the kinks so ERA's are often inflated. Lowe (who was named after an Alaskan trout) for example, tends to have to find his rhythm before he's successful and while he hasn't found it so far I'm sure he'll be fine once the season starts. Kuroda, as a Japanese veteran is most likely the same. But, Billingsly in my opinion hasn't established himself and should be careful.

Loaiza has practically been given the number 5 spot, Kershaw will probably be sent back to the minors, and Kuo is most likely destined for the bullpen perhaps even to play a swing roll once arms fatigue to the point of minor injuries. Park on the other hand is signed only to a minor league contract (I never liked him out of the pen) but he's done a great job this spring. I doubt he'll be strong for an entire season at this stage in his career but I think he's definitely pitched well enough to deserve a good hard look to see where he fits into the big club, maybe even a spot once reserved for a promising youngster whose last name starts with B, ends with Y and looks like a Chad.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sky is not falling

In 2004 as I was driving home from work while listening to the press conference that introduced Frank McCourt as the new owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. I pulled the car over and sat for 20 minutes listening to this out-of-towner speak about our beloved franchise and its history. To me, this press conference was more important than any State of the Union address the President could ever give because leading up to that moment, every media report, local and national, every talking head on the radio, and any blogger with a keyboard painted this guy to be poor, evil, and incompetent. After all, that same off season the Dodgers had a chance to sign the biggest free agent on the market, Vladimir Guerrero, but couldn’t because his salary wouldn’t have worked for the financials the accountants drew up to make the sale work and as a result, Vlad went to our hated rivals?? (That’s another blog) the Angels, who themselves just months before introduced their new owner who was the complete opposite of McCourt. There were reports that he would cut the payroll, turn Chavez Ravine into a mini mall with condos, move Dodger Stadium downtown or move the entire team to Boston leaving us with nothing but memories. According to media reports McCourt was to be our version of Brooklyn’s Walter O’Malley. Fast forward to the present and not only is the payroll higher, Chavez Ravine has no condos, Dodgers Stadium is still standing, and the team still calls Los Angeles home. McCourt has embraced the city and made several charitable contributions while also creating the Dodgers very own foundation, Think Cure. He continues to honor the rich history of this franchise by bringing old legends back and having special events celebrating key moments in its past. Don’t get me wrong, McCourt has made his share of blunders and has had a quick turn around in personnel but he is nothing like the person he was painted to be back in 2004.

I bring this all up because last week I read a story how LAUSD wasn’t going to be able to have its championship games at venues like Dodgers Stadium and the Coliseum because due to budget cuts they couldn’t afford to pay the rent fee. I immediately said to myslef, “McCourt won’t allow it he’ll find a way of making it happen”. Sure enough in today’s Dodgers report in the LA Times, I read this:

Budget crunch

Proposed budget cuts affecting the Los Angeles Unified School District could deprive the district of the money it needs to rent facilities such as the Coliseum, Sports Arena and Dodger Stadium for City Section championship games. However, the Dodgers and chief operating officer Dennis Mannion, whose responsibilities include stadium operations, said Wednesday they are looking for a way to solve the problem regarding their facility, including the possibility of allowing the district to use the stadium rent-free.

Not bad for a poor, evil, incompetent out-of-towner.


Monday, March 10, 2008


The injury bug has hit the Dodgers early this year. Obviously enough it’s the old guys who are hurting but the most serious injury occurred to young 3rd baseman Andy LaRoche. By all accounts he’ll be out a minimum of 8 weeks which means a May return to the big leagues or AAA. The silver lining in all this is that the Dodgers now don’t have to choose between LaRoche and Nomar as to who will be the starting 3rd baseman. Although everyone up to now has been publicly saying all the right things, I don’t think Nomar was ever going to start the season on the bench. Same for the other position battle between Pierre and Ethier which makes this injury to LaRoche, well timely, if there’s such a thing.

All these injuries remind me of that horrific 2005 season when just about every starting player went down and was replaced by a Jason. (Grabowski, Werth, Phillips, or Repko, Art hates that guy.) The difference between this season and 2005 is that the Dodgers have solid internal options. Even with Abreu hurt the Dodgers could fill a decent infield of Young/Dewitt at 3rd and Hu at 2nd or vice versa. Yes this Dodger squad has many options and it’s going to be interesting to see who will be the starting nine at the end of it. I’m guessing the oldest guy starting will be tubby Andruw Jones.

By the way, I hear this kid is stupid sick.


Thursday, March 6, 2008


by free_form_art

Back in 2005 I was arguing with some idiot fan in the loge section of Dodger Stadium about the trading of Paul Lo Duca. I told him Dioner Navarro was the wave of the future and that eventually Martin would be the face of the franchise. I told him to look for a chap named Loney to plant himself at first base. I told him to be patient as our talent developed in the minor leagues. I told him to wait until 2008.

Well it's 2008 and sure enough here we are with a young and fresh team, perhaps powerful, perhaps good. So is 2008 really the year the Dodgers take it all? Well that's the question isn't it, and it has a lot of subquestions that live under its umbrella.

Starting Pitching
The rotation looks anchored with four solid front line starters: Lowe, Penny, Bills, and new import Kuroda, but the number five spot is the question mark here. Anyone who thinks Schmidt has anything left is retarded. Loaiza? Park? Kershaw? My guess is a platoon is in store. And heaven help us if one of our top four goes down with an extended injury, that alone can spell disaster.

3rd Base
Nomar = injury
LaRoche = ? (he hasn't flat-out taken the spot despite multiple opportunities to do so.)

Do we even have one?

Andruw Jones is coming off his worst year and I hear he's tubby. Still his 2007 was better then any other Dodgers' so it can't be all that bad.
Can the kids carry a team? I think yes here; they're ready.
Pierre or Ethier? My vote Pierre.

I don't get cynical till late July but in spring I like to be optimistic so I think the answers to these questions will be very favorable. Torre is better then Little, young is better then old, and last year wasn't all that bad. 90 wins easy, 95 wins likely, 100 wins not unheard of. 110 wins? 162!

Any other concerns I might have missed? Leave a comment and let us know.