Results tagged ‘ Los Angeles Dodgers ’

After Saturday Goes the Way We Expected, Cain and #SFGiants Go For Sweep Against Greinke and #Dodgers

Saturday’s showcasing of Madison Bumgarner throwing double-digit K’s against Paul Maholm and the Dodgers, I was relieved that the Giants took care of a game they should have had. Maholm is a back-end guy that hitters can take advantage of, while your chances are normally fewer against a starter like Bumgarner. While the Giants bullpen isn’t perfect, they’re not an awful bunch, especially when you get into the higher leverage situations. Still, having a 7-1 lead when Bumgarner left and winning 7-2 is right along the lines of what I expect to see when the Giants throw out one of their top four guys and the opposition sends out someone that is not of the front-line variety. Tonight’s game will not fit that description, as Matt Cain and Zack Greinke are both solid #2 guys in a top-heavy rotation, and while I hope the Giants sweep and win 18-0, seeing a low-scoring one-run game should be the expectations of near everybody.

The Starters — A recap of their first games

Zack Greinke and Matt Cain both went five innings in their first starts, not really reaching the distance fans know they are capable of. Both saw their pitch counts get into the nineties at the close of the fifth inning and each walked two batters. Cain saw seven hits get allowed, but no home runs, while Greinke fell victim to only two hits, one of which suffered the wrath of the hot start by Seth Smith. Both are pitching on four days of rest.

The Bullpen — Who’s Probably Out

Santiago Casilla threw thirty-seven pitches for the Giants in five outs of relief, so I’d say he’s to be used in emergency situations only. For the Dodgers, Jose Dominguez has been used in two straight games, so I’d expect him to be in the same boat as Casilla. Jamey Wright has also pitched in two straight, but only needed two pitches to do his work on Saturday, though I’d imagine Don Mattingly would like to avoid using Wright tonight. Paco Rodriguez leads the league in appearances at five, and it’s not difficult to remember that Paco got tired at the end of 2013, possibly due to overuse. The Dodgers have played seven games so far, and I’d hope Paco is getting a day off.

The Lineups

For the sweep-minded Giants:

Thoughts on the lineup: A good lineup, I just might like Buster up in the 3-spot a little better. No Giants player has more than ten plate appearances against Greinke, so the players are still getting used to him, relatively speaking. That, as opposed to some of the Dodgers and Matt Cain, who’s been pitching in the NL West since 2005.  For the close-to-.500 Dodgers:

Thoughts on the lineup: Andre Ethier has a .441/.467/.574 career line against Matt Cain and Adrian Gonzalez has four career HR off of Cainer, so it’s no surprise that they are in the so-called “heart” of the lineup, but I don’t think I agree with him being this far down. I think you can take Dee Gordon and put him behind Juan Uribe and get better results.

The Prediction

The Giants have won five straight at Dodger Stadium dating back to September 13th of last season, and have won seven of their last eight meetings with LA. I think they continue to deliver the pain, winning tonight against Greinke with most of the damage coming against and often-used bullpen in a 4-2 victory on national television.

Larry Baer Gives “Informal” But Important State of the Organization

If you’ve read Andrew Baggarly’s piece or Hank Schulman’s piece on the Baer interview, you’re probably all caught up on the news, so I’ll do my best to throw in my opinions as we go along so you don’t feel like you’re reading the same thing over, and over, and over again.

One of the many elephants in the room is the Los Angeles Dodgers and their sky-high payroll. The Giants brass will not, as Baer put it, “match them dollar for dollar,” and any baseball fan will tell you that having the highest payroll doesn’t buy you a championship, but it can definitely better your odds. Even though we shouldn’t expect the Giants to try and sign the biggest free agent out there, what Baer said (emphasis mine), was pretty important to put away for later:

“You can look at where the Dodgers are now. If you look at their track and other teams’ tracks, it’s pretty wild swings. There was a period recently before the new Dodgers ownership that we were $30-40 million ahead of them. They’ve gone up, they’ve gone down. I don’t know where they’re going to go from here. Maybe they’re going to go way up. We think we can get it done with a plan where each year, as long as business stays strong, we can go up. But we’re not looking for wild swings up, because usually what that necessitates is wild swings down.

Baer said ownership is willing to spend more money in midseason to acquire players if the Giants are in the hunt.

There’s some firepower left if warranted,” he said.

This saves the whole world a blog post later if the Giants are trying to add an outfielder, a starting pitcher, or maybe even a high-priced reliever. It saves us the speculation of saying, “Can the Giants add the contract of this player that has almost eight digits of dollars of money left for 2014.” We’re just left to wonder how much money equals “some firepower.” I also found the first sentence I bolded pretty insightful. It may not be my money they’re spending, but as a fan, I also don’t want to see the Giants in a rut because of their spending.

Baer doesn’t think Pablo Sandoval is necessarily gone from the Giants if an extension doesn’t get done. After all, Hunter Pence‘s deal still got done right before Pence hit the market. I agree with Baer here. I don’t see why a deal has to be impossible. If Pablo sees the Giants throwing out stupid money to him like they did to Lincecum, why should he say no? For those wanting the draft pick instead of Pablo, I’m guessing you haven’t seen what’s out there on the 3B market (or in-house) that could replace Pablo. It’s not good.

The A’s and Giants possibly sharing a park if the A’s need somewhere to go while they build a new stadium (if they ever get there) would be a nice gesture. It would give A’s fans a chance to watch baseball where baseball should be played: in a baseball stadium. Kind of like how Candlestick was the dump that belonged to Giants fans, the Coliseum is the dump that belongs to the A’s fans. Except their dump is probably starting to smell like one.

Not from the report that the beat writers talked about, but on the radio today I heard Baer mention that teams were calling the Giants about Brandon Belt. A player going into his first arbitration year that’s just starting to blossom? Why wouldn’t you want one of those? Not everybody has a Joey Votto, Prince Fielder, or Paul Goldschmidt on their team, so you can understand the need for the teams to kick the tires on Belt. Baer told Flem and Jon that the Giants made it clear Belt belongs to the Giants without saying the word “untouchable,” that’s what it seems like Belt was this winter.

Speaking of the Giants and the A’s, the Giants lost 10-5 today to the A’s. I’d recap it for you, but I didn’t watch it, nor did many other people outside of Scottsdale.

#Rockies Chacin to Undergo Shoulder MRI, #SFGiants Pagan Has Minor Back Pain, #Dodgers Have Intrasquad

Jhoulys Chacin had a fantastic year in 2013. He didn’t hit 200 IP, but he did drop his BB% from 10.2% in 2012 to 7.5% in 2013 in thirty-one games that he started. His K% was up from 2012, but not a career high. Still, his FIP at 3.47 was the best he’s ever had, and the 4.3 fWAR and 5.8 rWAR were career highs in a season. The Rockies need their starting pitchers to hold down the fort, especially if their starting position players keep getting injured. That necessity of everybody staying healthy is not having a good start in Rockies camp:

That doesn’t sound good at all. Hopefully it will be nothing and Chacin can get back on track — nobody likes to see somebody injured.

In another part of Scottsdale, Angel Pagan wasn’t out on the field because his back locked up in a meeting:

Games haven’t even started and Angel Pagan’s back is acting up, and of course, moves now are precautionary because we aren’t even in March yet. Good news on Marco Scutaro doing work, as well. You’ll remember he had that mallet finger in 2013 and played through it.

Tyler Colvin, who has a minor league contract, hopefully is healthy and provide some competition for the outfield bench. I would really like to see more competition for the infield bench, but hey, I can’t have everything. As lazy as this analysis might be, if Colvin’s healthy, he will probably be of some use to the Giants, and may even be able to be the 5th outfielder, with Gregor Blanco being the 4th. Out of Dodgers camp, they had their intrasquad game today, and so everything you would expect today happened, like:

Yup.

Juan Uribe not getting a triple is shocking.

Juan Uribe striking out is shocking. 

Chris Perez getting the save is something blog trolls are waiting to take advantage of.

That looks like that’s what’s going on in the NL West on Sunday. The Giants will begin their games against other teams on Wednesday.

Early Spring Training Videos of Some @Dodgers Players and a @SFGiants MVP Hitting

I have some spare time before heading out to a nice night with friends, so if you’re a baseball fan, would you like to see some baseballs being hit around? Of course you do. Let’s start with the Dodgers new 2B Alex Guerrero:

A Vine video of the scary part of the Dodgers lineup in Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, Hanley Ramirez, and Yasiel Puig:

I wasn’t sure whether to include this video or not of Kemp taking swings because of how far back the journalist is, but whatever. I’m starved for baseball.

We will finish with the MVP, Buster Posey:

The first Spring Training games start in Florida on Tuesday, February 25th. The first game for three-fifths of the NL West, including the Dodgers and the Giants, will be the next day on the 26th.

Saturday News Out of #Dodgers Camp: Billingsley, AJ Ellis, Maholm, Kemp, Australia Starters

There isn’t much happening in the Giants world and I’m not sure I’ve blogged this month, so let’s talk about the NL West favorite Los Angeles Dodgers, whom have reported for camp duties. You’ll remember that the Dodgers and Diamondbacks have a two-game series in Australia that will take place on Saturday, March 22nd, United States time. As the Dodgers get ready, here’s what we’re being told over social media:

On Chad Billingsley, forgotten pitcher by most other NL West fans:

Good news for the Dodgers as they increase their rotation depth, and it looks to be of a higher quality than in 2013. Add another left-handed pitcher to the mix in…

…Mr. Paul Maholm, whose stats really aren’t too awful for a Major League deal, it’s a wonder how he got scooped up by the Dodgers on a Minor League deal. Had other teams known that’s how they could have had Maholm, surely other teams (e.g., Giants) would have been in on that. Manager Don Mattingly isn’t commenting on the Maholm deal, but doesn’t anticipate changes in the 40-man roster, per beat reporters.

A.J. Ellis, clubhouse comedian, and also possibly in the Best Shape of His Life:

For those unaware, Dylan Hernandez and one of the beat writers of the Giants, Hank Schulman, normally take jabs at each other over weight issues. All in good fun.

On the starting pitchers in Australia:

Barring any injury, I think it’s pretty safe to assume Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, and having Hyun-jin Ryu and Dan Haren ready in your bullpen isn’t too bad for a two-game series.

As for Matt Kemp, coming off of ankle surgery:

A healthy Matt Kemp is great for baseball, but bad for opponents of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

That’s all the updates that came in recently. Now we await the complaints of everybody for the regular season to begin.

Kyle Crick and Edwin Escobar Make MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects, Every Other NL West Team Features More Than SF

At mid-season in 2013, Kyle Crick (formerly #43) and Clayton Blackburn (formerly #94) held spots in the MLB.com Top 100 prospects list, and while Thursday it was announced that two Giants would still be on the list to give Giants fans hopes of help coming from the farm, the ranking, with one of the names changing. Since mid-season, Crick climbed eleven spots to #32 and now Edwin Escobar joins the list at #95. You’ll remember MLB.com named Escobar their eighth-best LHP prospect not too long ago. Looking at the rankings from the Top 100, Crick would appear to be the 14th best RHP prospect. Projections on Crick range from excellent reliever to a solid #2 starter, while the talk on Escobar is from a back-end starter to a #3 SP. Considering the Giants problems with depth in starting pitching in 2013, Giants fans saw why you can’t have too much pitching ready for the big leagues. Going around the NL West, here’s an update on what MLB.com saw for the other NL West clubs:

Diamondbacks

Three prospects made the list, beginning with the projected future frontline starter, RHP Archie Bradley. The #5 overall prospect, and the #1 RHP prospect on their list, Bradley could be the ace of the Diamondbacks staff for years, but that might change if he’s traded for a gritty position player, a pool security guard, or a veteran pitcher. Archie is expected to arrive in the bigs this coming season. I remember the days when I was scared of the Diamondbacks having Bradley, Trevor Bauer, and Tyler Skaggs. The new trio could be something like Bradley, #79 Braden Shipley, and perhaps the soon-to-be-20 year old Jose Martinez. The third Diamondback to make the list was #77 Chris Owings, a shortstop that profiles with a good power and better hitting tools, debuted in 2013.

Dodgers

The Dodgers have too many outfielders and it’s about to get more crowded with Joc Pederson at #36 on the way for sometime in 2014 and the starting pitching continues to gain MLB-ready depth with Zach Lee at #63. Pederson may not be at the level of a healthy Matt Kemp, but reports are that he would be a solid MLB OF. Lee would fit in nicely at the back-end of a rotation, with reports on the ceiling being #3. Other prospects that ranked highly but might be a a year or two away are #34 Corey Seager, a shortstop that is the younger brother of Kyle, and #64 Julio Urias, just seventeen years old and could reach the big leagues in 2015. He’s also left-handed. All these prospects didn’t even require a team having deep pockets, so don’t think that the Dodgers just went obnoxious on these guys like they did for Yasiel Puig.

Padres

Two in the top-half, two in the bottom-half of the Top 100, and while four on the list is great, the Padres aren’t the farm they used to be touted as. Still, they have some excitement coming their way, and leading the way is the great defensive catcher Austin Hedges at #24. As long as Hedges can hit, which I’m seeing people say he’ll be able to at least hold his own, you’re going to see him on All Star teams for years to come. 2012 first-round pick Max Fried comes out at #43, a lefty that could be a couple years away. Fried could be their best pitching prospect in terms of upside, but doesn’t get the #1 label put on him. RHP Matt Wisler (#78) and RHP Casey Kelly (#87) could help round out the middle-back end of the San Diego rotation right away.

Rockies

You know how the Rockies knew they needed to grow their own pitching because their park is not an attractive venue for pitchers? Well, that train is about ready to pull up to the stop, and it’s coming in the form of a possible 1-2 punch in Jonathan Gray and Eddie Butler, both first round picks from 2013, and 2012 (supplemental first round), respectively. By “1-2 punch,” it’s possible that could even mean a true #1 and #2 pitcher, and that could spell big-time trouble for the NL West. Should Gray and Butler stay true to their prospect status, I’m sure Rockies fans would love to see a team-friendly deal lock up those starters through their arbitration years. Gray is #14 on the list while Butler is #41. The Rockies have two more prospects on the list, first-rounder from 2012, OF David Dahl is #71 and years away, as is #99 Rossell Herrera, a shortstop.

This is just what MLB.com’s team thinks. Baseball Prospectus will release their version of their list on Monday. I’ll try to cover that one, but we’ll see. The weekdays are always busy.

#SFGiants Come Out Winners in Tanaka Derby as Masahiro Goes for Pinstripes

Masahiro Tanaka signing a 7-year, $155 million deal with the New York Yankees, or maybe more specifically, not the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Arizona Diamondbacks, is like when any other NL West team loses when the Giants have a day off: Did the Giants do anything today to warrant a great feeling of happiness? No. However, the letdown of other fanbases that wanted him makes you happy. Does that make you a bad person for delighting in other people’s suffering? Probably.

I’m going to assume every Giants blogger that doesn’t like the Dodgers wrote an opinion piece on Tanaka, so this post might be highly unoriginal, especially since Ken Rosenthal broke the news nearly twelve hours after I’m composing this article. Because, listen, if the Dodgers had this rotation going into 2014:

1. Clayton Kershaw

2. Zack Greinke

3. Masahiro Tanaka

4. Hyun-jin Ryu

5. Dan Haren

…You’d probably hate your life as a Giants fan. Do teams win games on paper? Absolutely not. You wouldn’t feel that great about your chances in a three-game series against any order of those pitchers, though. Maybe against Ryu, Haren, and Kershaw you can picture winning the series, but that assumes either Ryu or Haren doesn’t show up and Tim Lincecum doesn’t have a bad inning, etc., etc., etc. So instead of having that rotation, now the Dodgers have:

1. Clayton Kershaw

2. Zack Greinke

3. Hyun-jin Ryu

4. Josh Beckett

5. Dan Haren

and then maybe some mix of Chad Billingsley or Zach Lee, perhaps. The Dodgers still have some decent depth once Billingsley comes back. Good problem to have. They also had this problem last year, but I think this year’s quality of depth is a little bit better.

So the Giants came out as winners since the Dodgers didn’t come out of the Tanaka sweepstakes, LA losing a guy Baseball America profiled more as a #2 SP than an ace. That splitter is nasty and probably would have tore up the NL West, we’ll see how he does about 3,000 miles away. However, the Giants still don’t have Kershaw or Greinke or Yasiel Puig or Hanley Ramirez or three capable full-time outfielders. Moral victory, I suppose. You take them when you can get them.

The Dodgers lost, but not the way I wanted

Clayton Kershaw will be a favorite for the NL Cy Young, and he was on the losing end of a miserable outing on Friday night in Game 6 against the St. Louis Cardinals. For a guy that had a FIP below 2.50 for September and at 2.20 for the second half and had struck out more than 40% of the lefties he faced in 2013, you regularly expect excellence out of him, and rightly so, I believe. Maybe the innings caught up with him. Maybe it was one of those days where he was off his game and he faced a team that was ready for the punishing like they always seem to be against Matt Cain of our beloved Giants. Whatever it was, it didn’t feel right.

I hold Kershaw in the highest of lights for pitchers, considering him the best pitcher in all of baseball. I love watching him dominate when he’s doing his work, I’m even a little awestruck when he’s on against the Giants, or even just having a slightly bad day and only going seven innings and striking out five. Really it is no wonder there were rumors of him getting big money before the regular season started. His fastball sits around 92-93 with pretty great command, his slider gives you a different look of a good pitch, and his curveball is straight out of baseball heaven with the numbers to prove it. That repertoire can go up with the best of them, and has been successful, too.

When the Cardinals went up 1-0, 2-0 in Game 6, that was exciting. It could be all Michael Wacha needed, I thought and wondered, and the wasn’t necessarily a game that was out of reach, even for the bats of the Dodgers. Then the Cardinals went up 4-0, and even though it was only the third inning, I worried that this game was over before a third of it had been completed. Kershaw had thrown 81 pitches through three, there was no way he’d be able to go six. The Cards would eventually double the score plus one, and within that time Kershaw was pulled, a couple relievers used, and then it was over. If only the game had stayed closer, and Kershaw hadn’t been lit up, then this would have been a bowing out I would not have felt so odd over, but in the end, would I rather have this 9-0, STL NL Champions in 6, than possibly start the game over and see if the game could be closer?

Absolutely not.

Now my attention turns to rooting for the American League, because nobody wants to see the Cardinals win besides people connected with the team and their fans (really, what sort of “best fans” call themselves “best fans in baseball?”). I do wonder if the media will do another sketch featuring a Red Bird defending the trophy against a team with a payroll $30-$40 million more than themselves. Sure, it’s not around $100 million more like the Dodgers were compared to the Cards payroll, but doesn’t every team that lacks have the farm depth to make a team have to do some buying to field a competitive team?

Game 6 of the ALCS between the Tigers and the Red Sox is tonight at 5PM on FOX.

My Rooting Ranking for the Eleven Teams Playing Past Game 162

Some people will have rankings once the field narrows down to ten. I am hardly ever in the mood to blog during the weekdays for various reasons, and so since I feel like writing right now, now is as good of a time as any to give you my list of how I’ll root for the Winning Eleven. My list might differ from yours, and it may not even make sense to you, but that’s OK.

“It’d be good for them” Division 

1. Pittsburgh Pirates — No playoffs and no winning season since 1992? How do you not root for that if you’re not a fan from a team within the NL Central?

2. Oakland Athletics — I have developed a soft spot for the team across the Bay, even though I don’t live there to listen to A’s fans. A’s fans coming back around to troll Giants fans would be the worst part of the Athletics winning. Possibility of speeding up ruling on a new stadium a naive thought in my head.

3. Tampa Bay Rays — A combination of youth, a former Long Beach State Dirtbag in Evan Longoria, and a manager I enjoy listening to make this a team I support at nearly all times.

4. Cleveland Indians — They normally lose a lot, and maybe the public can say to MLB, “Hey, that logo is kinda racist.” That they’ve turned things around to go from dark horse candidate to first Wild Card spot is a great story to me.

“I ain’t even mad” Division

5. Detroit Tigers — I’ve interacted with some twitter folk that are Tigers fans and they’re good people. I would be happy for them. Justin Verlander seems like a nice guy and Jim Leyland is a lovable grandpa.

6. Texas Rangers — This is a pity spot. I’ll leave it at that.

7. Boston Red Sox — I’ve put them here because I’ve forgotten what Red Sox fans are like when the Red Sox win. My memory is pretty poor.

“Nope” Division

8. Cincinnati Reds — The idea of Mat Latos winning after his history with the Padres and his outside-of-game antics against the Giants just leave a bad taste in my mouth. Billy Hamilton running wild on the world will be fun to watch.

9. St. Louis Cardinals — An incredibly talented team, I am tired of them winning and tired of their fans claiming to be the “Best Fans in Baseball.” Nobody likes people like that, especially when that’s pretty difficult to accurately measure. 

10. Atlanta Braves — The Chop, the newfound policy of policing the game with their made-up rules on admiring home runs make plenty of players on this team and their fans that support all that easy to despise.

 

“I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy that’s also an obnoxious, disrespectful Giants fan” Division

11. Los Angeles Dodgers — There are some players on the LA team I like, but it’s still the Dodgers. That they have oodles of money is one thing, I mean you have to spend your money wisely, can’t just spend it on anybody. Still. Boo Dodgers.

That #10 and #11 on my list square off early guarantee one gets knocked out, but one could still do some big things. Hopefully that’s not something I have to worry about, and the bottom four teams find themselves knocked out of the Postseason before the trophy is hoisted.

The Good That Can Come Out of the Dodgers Winning the West

Once the Dodgers went on their fiery streak of August (and then some), it was only a matter of time. Outside of Dodger fans, are there many people that are pleased that a Dodger team lined with greenbacks has made the postseason? Probably not, but it is what it is, and congratulations to the Dodgers and their dedicated fans that have watched the games. Ratings will skyrocket as Yasiel Puig bat flips, Clayton Kershaw impregnates human beings with his pitching, and Juan Uribe and Brian Wilson get numerous close-ups as Champions of both Black and Orange and Dodger Blue. This will be painful to watch for many NL West fans, and many Giants fans, but baseball fans will know that despite a large contingent of bandwagoners joining the baseball world for 2013, there is a potential for growth in the game.

The population of Los Angeles County is close to 9.9 million people. Think about that number compared to the city you live in. Granted, a lot of those people might be primarily football fans or basketball fans if they are even any sort of sports fans, but with success brings in supporters. Don’t like it? Welcome to Life. The Dodgers haven’t seen a playoff birth since 2009, and on the cusp of their rivals parading down Market Street twice in that time period, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were people looking for a solid excuse to love their nearby Dodgers. Four years have passed, and that can bring about a new wave of fans: kids that didn’t care as much four years ago now have a greater cognitive capacity to analyze the game and put events into context. People also have a ton of ways to express themselves on social media, because everybody wants to share what they’re feeling and to be acknowledged for their thoughts.

Might this wave of Dodger success lead to a great crop of future Fangraphs, Beyond the Box Score, or Baseball Prospectus writers, or future baseball scouts? Who knows, but it could, and with the millions of people that can get involved with the Dodgers as fans of team, I’m optimistic there will be at least one or two that will not just put their heart into the playoffs, but also their heads. Furthermore, should they be exposed to guys on (or formerly on) the beat, well respected Dodger bloggers, or scouts that happen to be Dodger fans — and that’s just on Twitter — fans could be helped to becoming smarter fans, and heck, maybe even baseball fans in the process.

I’m an optimist more than is good for me, but there is some good that can come out of this. I just want a larger number of smart baseball fans to listen to, and I don’t think that’s too much to ask with what’s being provided.

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