This season the Dodgers outfield situation has been a rather interesting one. First there was the question of how would Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and Carl Crawford would handle the whole platooning situation and if one of them would be traded. Then came the Center Fielding issues where Kemp was moved to Left Field then the drama between Kemp and the Dodgers where he was moved to Right Field and played really well as well as Puig being moved to Center Field where he has been playing pretty great as well. Let’s not forget about Scott Van Slyke holding his own where he’s getting some pretty good playing time and Andre Ethier apparently preparing to get playing time at 1st Base. If you managed to some how follow the cliff notes version of this whole thing then congratulations. While all of that was going on there’s one player that is currently in the Dodgers farm system making a case for himself and that player is Joc Pederson.
While the Dodgers have been playing musical outfielders (Now between Crawford/Ethier/Van Slyke) Pederson have been helping the Albuquerque Isotopes by tearing up the Pacific Coast League and putting up outstanding numbers. In 103 Games Pederson has bat .303 with 26 HR/62 RBI’s/26 Stolen Bases which is really impressive. Joc has been so impressive that Don Mattingly has gone on to say that Pederson is one of the best Outfielders in the Dodgers organization. Joc’s name has been thrown around in some trade rumors and offers but the Dodgers have been very reluctant to trade him or any elite prospects. So seeing Joc will stay a Dodger for the foreseeable future come’s this question that many have been asking. When will the Dodgers bring Pederson up?
There was a time where the Dodgers were very close to calling up Pederson over Puig when the two were in Double A Chattanooga but the Dodgers ultimately went with Puig and well the rest was history. Pederson right now is indeed Major League ready and has the potential to be a great player. While he may not have the same spark as Puig did when he came up, He can have a good effect on the Dodgers and at a time where the pennant races are heating up. I think he can put up pretty good numbers in the Majors as well. So what’s the problem with bringing him up? Well there’s a few things that’s stopping that from happening with One is being the 40 man roster. While Joc did play a handful of games with the Dodgers during Spring Training he is currently not on the 40 man roster and in order for him to be called up the Dodgers would have to release someone and place Joc on there. Whether the Dodgers do it or not before September call up’s will remain to be seen at this moment. Another issue being the crowded outfield situation that I mentioned earlier. Joc is indeed affected by that log jam in the Outfield which isn’t freeing up anytime soon. With Puig finding a new place in Center Field and Matt Kemp finding new life in right that leaves Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier. Unless one of the two get traded or anything I don’t Joc coming up anytime this season. Let’s not forget Scott Van Slyke is there but he’s better suited as a bat off the bench for the Dodgers. It was said before that Pederson would be a victim of a crowded Outfield and very much so. It seems like every day we see an update on him hitting a home run or just destroying it in Triple A and wonder “What is taking so long?”.
It’ll be a matter of time until Joc Pederson is in a Dodgers uniform but until there’s room to place him on the 40 man roster he’ll continue to put up great numbers down in Triple A. I think the Dodgers can make room to put him on the 40 man roster and call him up in September to get him some Major League at bats. While Center and Right field are locked up he can make a place for himself in Left Field. With Crawford and Ethier struggling this season with the bat and Van Slyke not really a real defensive option it wouldn’t be a bad idea to give Pederson a try. Someone with such talent can’t be left down in the Minors for long but as long as Ethier and Crawford are there and the 40 Man Roster currently full then Joc will continue to be down there….At least for this season.
That’s right! It’s about that time we show a little bias. Tonight is the start of the yearly meeting between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Anaheim Angels which we dub “The Freeway Series”. Some houses will be divided and friends will be foes when these two teams clash for 4 games. This also means something very special and that’s the return of I-5 Bias! Incase you’re knew to this or forgot about us then here’s how it works. A series of questions are answered in regards to the Dodgers and Angels as well as other baseball related topics about the two. Now I know you’re wondering who’s behind the Angels side of things? A good friend of the blog Kristen, who is a die hard Angels fan and runs a great blog This is a very simple game and I chat to talk Angels and Dodgers baseball and bring it to out blogs for you the readers to view. Today’s edition we talk about The Dodgers and Angels stellar play, Freeway Series, The West Coast Attention in Baseball, the Dodgers TV issue and Predict This week’s Freeway Series. If you have any questions that you want to ask us then please feel free to ask as we accept All Questions. So without further or due I bring to you. I-5 Bias!
The Angels and Dodgers both find themselves as strong playoff contenders in heated division races that are likely to come down to the wire. What has impressed you about both squads this season? What do you think of their chances in the postseason?
Matt: Well with the Dodgers I would have to say what impressed me about them is their starting pitching rotation. Having Kershaw Greinke and Ryu pitching is dangerous and always set the Dodgers up to win but now you have (Had) Beckett when he’s on it. The offensive serge that the Dodgers are on is really helping them as well. Even though the Dodgers got off to a really slow start it seems like they’re starting to find their groove and at the right time too. After sweeping the Giants and Braves they’re making it known that they are starting to get their groove and when they’re on a role then they’re a very dangerous team.
As far as the Angels I think they finally have their complete game finally figured out. They’re absolutely deadly with their bats and they managed to make some moves to improve their bullpen especially with the addition of Hudson Street, Joe Thatcher, and Jason Grilli. What impressed me more is how Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and Erick Aybar are hitting with Mike Trout as well as the impressive play of Kole Calhoun. I think they’ve finally made themselves known as a legit World Series Contender.
Kristen: The Angels offense makes me giddy. They’ve been so hit and miss – pun most assuredly intended – these last few seasons, especially for having so much potential. But this season? Wow!! And it isn’t just the usual suspects – of course Mike Trout, etc., have been impressive, but so have Howie Kendrick, Kole Calhoun and Erick Aybar. It’s nice to feel spoiled with hitting again. The starting rotation is not as impressive as it’s been in years past, but they’re getting it done and I am impressed with the way Garrett Richards has really come into his own this year. But even more than all of that, I love the guys’ fight. Walk off wins, come from behind wins and, yes, plenty of decisive wins as well – this season it feels like the Angels have the fight and the drive to pull a win from just about anything.
I know there’s been some scoffing about the Angels chances in the postseason because the team doesn’t have the world beating pitching they’ve had in years past and, “as everyone knows” pitching wins championships. But, I have to say, the pitching is getting it done and in that scenario I actually think that the ability to fight for the win in close games is at least as important. And if you’ve ever followed this blog, you know that’s about as far as I will ever go in terms of making postseason predictions. I feel like there really is something to the old cliché about taking them one game at a time and, also, perhaps there’s a bit of superstition there for me as well.
As for the Dodgers, oddly enough I feel like I don’t know much about the team this season other than their strong record, and obvious highlights like Kershaw and Beckett’s no-hitters. In a normal season, Seth and I tune in to other games before each Angels game starts and after it finishes, frequently the Dodgers, although other AL West games feature highly as well. With nary a borrowed-from-the-original-minor-league-Angels LA logo in sight on TV most nights, I haven’t been able to follow the team.
August is unusually late in the season for the Freeway Series – normally we’re writing this column in June! What are your feelings on Interleague match ups this late in the season, just as the postseason races are really heating up?
Kristen: When the new schedule debuted, I thought I would hate having interleague play throughout the season, but as it turns out I don’t mind it. As long as we have interleague play – and I am one of the oddballs that actually looks forward to these unusual matchups, a baseball DC/Marvel crossover comic if you will – when we have it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference in the way the teams perform. And here’s the thing, even before the current interleague format, September wasn’t strictly reserved for divisional play anyway and, depending on how the season goes, and doubly so the moment the wild card came into play, it isn’t a given that the most exciting end of season games will be divisional games. As for the Freeway Series, specifically, happening in August? I think this is the best Freeway matchup we SoCal baseball fans have seen in years and, to me, having the games mean so much on top of it just makes it feel like one of those series I’m going to wind up describing as a privilege to watch. What’s the downside?
Matt: It’s really interesting but at the same time out of place. We’re usually seeing interleague teams as early as late May and now it’s all over the place. How ever I do believe with rivalries like the Freeway series being this late in the season it put more at steak. Right now you have two teams in the southland and down the I-5 from each other battling for their division and this game will have a lot on the line in terms of Postseason positioning. If you had a game like for example the Tigers against the Cardinals at this point of the season and both teams were in division races then the causal baseball/Sports fan would be attracted to this. At the same time it takes away the meaning of planning your summer seeing teams from the other league that you usually don’t see as much so I guess you can say I have mixed feeling about it. It has it’s positives and negatives.
What key players/match ups should fans watch for in this year’s Freeway Series?
Matt: Well as far as key players for the Dodgers (Not Named Yasiel Puig haha) one would have to be Matt Kemp. Kemp has been on an absolute tear as of late with the bat since the “drama” towards the trade deadline. Kemp been hampered with injuries left and right and I think he’s starting to come around now (.386 BA Post All-Star break). Another key player to keep an eye on for Los Angeles Hyun Jin Ryu. Ryu, Who is predicted to be in the rotation during the series, is one of those pitchers where they give up a lot of hits but once he’s locked in then he’s on it. Why I have Ryu up here as a key player? Because as of last season (Rookie season) the Angels are batting .065 against him and if he can repeat his performance from their last meeting then it could be a long night for Anaheim. As far as Match-ups It would have to be the Dodgers starting pitching rotation against the Angels line-up. Monday and Tuesday being Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw this will be the first time the Angels see the two Post All-star break and with the game at Dodger Stadium (NL Park) it’ll be very interesting to see what line-up Scioscia puts out there. Then comes the games at Angels Stadium and the DH in effect you’ll have the struggling Dan Haren and Hyun Jin Ryu facing the Angels with their dangerous offense. I think that’ll be the key because you have one of Baseball’s best offenses in the Angels taking on one of baseball’s best pitching rotation in the Dodgers.
Kristen: Well, there’s this young kid called Mike Trout, and I understand he’s pretty fun to watch. ;) I know, I know. Dodgers fans – and everyone else! – are already well aware. But you may not be as aware of the combination of Trout and Calhoun. They’re brilliant together in the outfield and a blast – often quit literally – to watch hit back to back in the lineup. I realize that my defensive bias is showing a bit here – this chick thinks homeruns are very nice indeed, but what she really digs is a perfectly executed 4-6-3 – but I will never tire of watching the fielding combination of Aybar, Kendrick and Albert Pujols. As for pitching matchups, I am most excited about Richards vs. Zack Greinke at the first game.
As you are probably aware, Time Warner and a number of cable providers are currently in a huge standoff over SportsNet LA, which controls the Dodgers’ TV rights, with the result that 70% of the Los Angeles Market is without Dodger games. As baseball fans and sports fans what are your thoughts on this issue and is this becoming a growing issue in sports television?
Kristen: As a fan of the game, this is such utter bullshit. I don’t usually swear on this blog, but let’s call a spade a spade. And, yes, I do see this as a growing problem in sports, not just in this sport. I think it really comes down to a question of what do teams owe their fans? The financial perks of lucrative, exclusive TV deals cannot be denied and often, though certainly not always, those benefits are reflected in the quality of the team the owners are able to put on the field. But if the fans can’t afford to see that team play? Or, as in this case, can’t have access to see them play even if they can afford it? Quite simply you have not done right by the fans. TV deal money needs to be balanced against fan access. If your team goes all the way to the playoffs and you don’t get to watch them until October, does the victory still count? Absolutely. But unless you were able to jump up and down in your living room or at your local sports bar with friends, family and even random strangers for all of those key moments throughout the season, there is no way that victory tastes as sweet.
At the risk of being very long winded – I know, too late! – seasons like this Dodgers season make baseball fans, and I’m not talking about fair weather and bandwagon fans. No, I’m talking about the children of adult fans who grow up with the memory of a magical season, of the year their parents let them stay up late all summer just to watch the games because the team was that good, of the time they got to see their unshakable grandfather shed tears of joy over a long hoped for playoff berth…you know the kind of season I’m talking about because, if you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re a baseball fan and largely because of memories just like these. I know that’s my story. Now, what if that magical season, the season, wasn’t broadcast on television where you could see it? Managers and GMs are always talking about the need to consider the bottom line importance of the intangibles. I think owners need to keep them in mind as well.
Matt: I think this whole thing is outrageous. You have a 70% of fans who can’t watch a game in their local market because cable companies don’t see eye to eye with each other on what price to pay to carry a channel? I think if you look or pay attention to this whole issue you have to say all parties involved are responsible. The Dodgers because they knew that when they took this deal the potential for fans not to see their team play and the Cable companies because all they’re doing more finger pointing than working to reach a possible deal for the people. For me I’m getting by just fine attending games and listening on radio but it would be better to actually get this channel that I’ve heard about. This is really becoming a growing issue in sports because it’s becoming about the money more than the fans being able to see their team play on TV. I mean you have the Pac-12 Network and their ongoing issue with DirecTV where people can’t see certain college games. You also had the issue with the Lakers channel when they moved to Time Warner and most of the market couldn’t see Laker games until three weeks into the season. I can list more examples but I think the readers get my point haha. Point being that while the money being pumped into a franchise to pay the players that can help and having their own network but at what price are fans paying? I think franchises should at least think about those who put the money into their pockets.
We joke about our I-5 bias, but the truth is that baseball has taken a huge shift out West. The Dodgers and Giants are battling it out for control of the NL West in a race where the loser is mostly likely to head to the playoffs anyway as a wild card team. The A’s and Angels currently hold the best records in baseball and are locked in a similar race in the AL West. In the AL, there’s even a chance that both wild card teams could come out of the AL West if the Mariners go on a tear. Would you say that having this many West Coast teams in such tight races is good for MLB?
Matt: Two years ago when we first did I-5 Bias I said that baseball’s power shift was swinging out west. Here we are with 5 teams out west gunning for the Postseason (Sorry Padres and Diamondbacks). The Dodgers, Giants, Angels, and A’s are making playoffs baring any big big collapse and the Mariners are right there in the thick of the wild card race. Yes this is great for the MLB right now because for once all the attention is out here. I think Baseball media’s east coast (And Midwest) bias is finally realizing that the excitement is really in the AL and NL West as well as the Wild Card races. To think this all triggered with the spending of the Angels, the ownership change with the Dodgers, the out of nowhere push of the A’s, the Giants as hard for me to say and now Robinson Cano and the Mariners. This is what we’ve been waiting for.
Kristen: Tight baseball races going down to the wire make for a great season for everyone, plain and simple. It doesn’t matter what division they occur in – though, this is definitely a case of the more the merrier. There’s a reason that, when I Google “the best night in baseball ever,” every single reference on the first page is to September 28, 2011. I didn’t even have a team still in the running at that point and I still agree with that title. As far as the West Coast more or less owning the wild card race this season, I’d say it’s a definite improvement over the idea that the then one wild card spot would almost certainly go to the second place East Coast team, and one step closer to true competitive parity, where those wild card berths are hotly contested across all divisions right up until the end. Because as much as I love my West Coast teams, I think that would be the most fun for baseball fans in general.
Care to make any Freeway Series predictions?
Kristen: I hate predictions! *cue Stevie Wonder’s Superstition* But in this case I always make an exception because it’s the done thing. When the series was 6 games, I always came down in favor of my Angels because, well, history. Yes, I said it. Cope. But with only four games and the Angels once again down a key starting pitcher (C.J. Wilson came off the DL just in time for Tyler Skaggs to go on it), I predict the Angels and Dodgers will split the series.
Matt: I know I may sound biased here but I am indeed very realistic with this. I believe the Dodgers will take 3 of 4 in the Freeway series. The Dodgers have been playing very good baseball as of late during the past 8-9 games. Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, and Yasiel Puig to name a few have been hitting pretty well after the All-Star break and the Dodgers pitching rotation falls into their favor especially against a team like the Angels. Also the Dodgers hold a good but slim lead over the Giants and they can’t afford to allow that lead to trim especially at this point of the season. The Angels on the other hand have been struggling on offense as of late and headed into the series with the Dodgers against that pitching staff is really something that Anaheim can’t afford to do. They’ll also be without Tyler Skaggs who has been pitching pretty well for them. Now honestly it could go either way and CAN even be a split like last season but I think the writing is on the wall for the Dodgers to take the series over their interleague rivals.
The trade deadline as come and gone. Teams like the Tigers, A’s, and Cardinals managed to make some trades to improve their team while the Red Sox retooled their roster for 2015. As for the Los Angeles Dodgers? They ended up standing pat during the trade deadline. Yes the Dodgers did not make a move yesterday though they pushed hard to get more pitching help for the back end of the rotation and bullpen. Los Angeles was linked to pitchers John Lackey and Andrew Miller from Boston and Joaquin Benoit from San Diego but the prices were either too much for the Dodgers or other teams outbid the Dodgers offering what the selling teams wanted. Leading up to the trade deadline it was reported that the Dodgers were in on elite pitchers like John Lester, David Price, and Cole Hamels as well as potentially trading Outfielder Matt Kemp. As days went GM Ned Colletti stated that Matt Kemp wasn’t going to be traded and the Dodgers didn’t want to part with their top prospects which meant they were likely out of grabbing an elite pitcher. Well Lester ended up being traded to the A’s while the Phillies took Hamels off the market. David Price on the other hand? The Dodgers and Rays did talk but Tampa Bay ended up trading Price to the Tigers in a three team trade.
I’m know many Dodger fans were thinking that the GM Ned Colletti would make an aggressive push to strengthen the pitching staff and yesterday that wasn’t the case. One thing for sure you can’t fault him for not trying to do anything. Dodgers were indeed in on a lot of pitchers yet the prices were too steep for the Dodgers to pull the trigger. Ned Colletti talked about keeping Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, and Julio Urias and was a man of his word. Yes the Dodgers are a team that’s built to win right now and could use the help but the Dodgers do want to contend for many more years to come and not just this season which I didn’t have an issue with. Something I do question is how aggressive the Dodgers were on getting help for the back end of the starting rotation. Dan Haren and now Josh Beckett have been struggling and I question how they can hold up going forward. Guys like Ian Kennedy for example were out there and I felt the Dodgers could’ve made a tougher push for that. Bullpen helped ended up becoming steep as well. Dodgers kicked the tires on Joaquin Benoit and just couldn’t get the Padres to drop the price that they were asking (NL West premium price).
Sometimes the best deals are the ones that aren’t made. Los Angeles as of today have won 6 straight games and hold a 3.5 game lead over the Giants in the NL West. They’re on a role so we will see what happens as time goes. The speculation however is not done because there’s still the Waiver wire deadline where pretty impactful deals. Remember the Dodgers made that HUGE blockbuster deal to get Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Nick Punto, and Josh Beckett. It’s been mentioned that Carl Crawford could be shopped this month but we’ll see what happens come that time. For now let’s enjoy the play of the Dodgers as they make their push towards October and push towards winning the World Series.
At 56-46 the Dodgers find themselves in a heated divisional race with their rivals from the Bay in the San Fransisco Giants. As things stand the Dodgers are a game back of the Giants but how the way things been playing out that could change in an instant. Now not only are the Dodgers in a fight for the division but they’re in a fight for their postseason lives as well. Right now the NL has at least 8 teams in division races and if you don’t count the teams that’s already in first place in their respective division then that’s 5 teams battling for the wild card spot. Yes the NL is that deep and that close together right now where the margin for error is not that great.
For the Dodgers this will be a big challenge for them because they have to hold on to a possible Wild Card Birth while fighting for the NL West with the Giants. We all know Los Angeles want the division but they’ll have to play more consistent baseball if they want that to happen. Right now their schedule is a very tough one but can also help the Dodgers out a lot. This weekend they have a very crucial series with the Giants that could really swing momentum in the NL West race between the two teams. It gets tougher after that because the Dodgers return home to kickoff their home stand in a 3 game series with the Atlanta Braves who are also in a race with the Washington Nationals in the NL East as well as in a Wild Card Battle with the Dodgers, Cardinals, and Reds. The schedule isn’t going to get any easier for the Dodgers as they face their Rival from up the 5 Freeway and AL in the Angels, The Braves in Atlanta and the Brewers in Milwaukee and Los Angeles. Talk about brutal.
As of late the Dodgers have been pretty inconsistent yet still find themselves right in it. You have this sense that with the talent the Dodgers have that they will click and get it together anytime now. There’s no doubt the Dodgers really do need help in the bullpen and need an effective 5 Starter due to the struggles of Dan Haren. Lets not forget the offense could use a little help and the ongoing drama with Matt Kemp and the Outfield positioning. One thing is certain and that’s that the Dodgers need a huge spark/pick me up to get it going and whether it’s a big trade or building a few wins or calling up a top prospect (Joc Petersen?) but this team needs to get it going and at least show some fire. Many fans are wondering what happened to the Dodgers that showed fire from last season? They also need everyone healthy. They have Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez both hurt from their series with the Cardinals but Puig will likely play tonight while Hanley likely will be headed to the DL. Many think the Dodgers are reeling and the older roster is hurting them yet they’re still in a great spot. This upcoming series with the Giants favors them when it comes to the pitching and Giants have been struggling as of late so this is a great chance for L.A. to get it going. If not then what will that say for the Dodgers? The NL Postseason race is hot right now and as close as it is for the boys in blue this will either light a fire under them or break them.
The Trade Deadline is quickly approaching and many are wondering what the Dodgers are going to do come the trade deadline. Now let’s go ahead and point out a few things here before we get into this article. Los Angeles is currently sitting in first place and .5 games ahead of the Giants and seems like they’re getting into a groove. Some are even asking if the Dodgers should even make a move come the deadline. Well let me be the one to say that yes the Dodgers should make a move as they’re still holes that need to be filled. The Dodgers are going to be buyers and going to look add that key piece that could propel them to a World Series. Dodgers have been linked to a few players and a few Dodger players could find themselves out to other places soon. What’s going to happen? Who knows but this is a great time to look at the possibilities.
Dodgers dealing with Tampa Bay: There are two players that are on the Dodgers radar that are currently playing for the Rays. Their names? David Price and Ben Zobrist. David Price was on the Dodgers list during winter meetings and once again one of teams that could get him. Right now the Dodgers starting pitching have been pretty stellar with Ryu pitching pretty good, Beckett being solid, and Harren just getting the job done but having a guy like Price in the rotation would make the Dodgers very deadly. Let’s not forget that Josh Beckett, Paul Malhom, and Chad Billingsley are in the last year of their contracts and Price is under contract through 2015. Without a doubt the Dodgers have the pieces to make such a move but how much would it cost them? Most likely it’ll cost top prospects like Joc Pederson, Zach Lee, and/or Julio Urias and the Dodgers want to re-build their farm system so they will have to make a tough choice. Move their future to add to an already strong starting pitching rotation and keep away from potential October opponets and the Giants or pass up on him for their future. Ben Zobrist on the other hand is a player who will likely be moved. Zobrist is a popular target come the deadline because he can provide power and speed off the bench and can play multiple positions (OF, 2B, and SS). Los Angeles can use a player like him off the bench because he can really provide so much. Yes Justin Turner and Miguel Rojas have been playing pretty well as of late but Zorbrist is indeed an upgrade off the bench. He likely won’t cost much but Dodgers will have to outbid for a half-season rental.
What Outfielder could be on his way out?: No Yasiel Puig isn’t apart of this group so let’s not think this at all. It has been reported that All outfielders not named are on the block. Coming into the season the Dodgers had this issue with 4 Everyday outfielders in Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and Carl Crawford. Many knew that Puig would play Right Field everyday but when it came to the rest it was all up in the air. I do remember before the season saying that it would be wise to hold on to all four outfielders because the injury bug could hit at anytime. Right now Crawford is Injured, Kemp is playing pretty good in Left Field and Ethier is platooning with Van Slyke out in Center Field. So comes the ultimate question. Who will the Dodgers move out of the three? If you want to look at the safe bet and cheaper option then it’ll likely be Ethier on the move. His batting may not be what we expected but Ethier has been a very solid defensively in Center Field. Now if the Dodgers wanted to move Crawford or Kemp them most likely that’ll require them to eat some of their contracts that they’re paying now but the issue with Crawford is that he has an issue to be injury prone which really hurts his value and as far as Matt Kemp the Dodgers could eat some of his contract to move him and get some pretty good value back. Kemp out of the three has the most value and upside. I wouldn’t be surprised if a team like Boston try to do something to get him. One way or another an Outfielder will be moved come the deadline.
Improving the Bullpen: There’s no doubt the Dodgers really need to improve their bullpen. If Los Angeles really wants to compete come October then their Bullpen will have to be a lot better than what it is now. Most likely this is what we’ll see from the Dodgers and that’s trade to upgrade the bullpen. Now likely it won’t require much to obtain pitchers to come out the pen and come closer to the deadline teams will be placing more players on the market. One report out there states that the Red Sox may place some pitchers on the market and you can believe that Los Angeles will be the first ones to make a call to Boston. Joakim Soria from the Rangers is another guy who the Dodgers could get and likely won’t cost much. The Rangers are in last place in the AL West and for sure will be sellers come the deadline. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Dodgers aren’t one of the teams that look to improve the pen. Phillies Johnathan Papelbon has been linked to the Dodgers and some believe the Dodgers will most likely end up with the Phillies closer. Kenley Jansen is already the closer for Los Angeles but how the way Brian Wilson been pitching this season it won’t shock me if they do end up trading for Papelbon. There’s more guys out there like a Hudson Street but most likely Anaheim will end up with Street.
More Starting Pitching Help: Outside of David Price, Los Angeles have been linked to a few top pitchers like Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. it’s highly unlikely due to 2 things that the Dodgers don’t want to do and Thats part with 3 of their top prospects and eat salary that the two pitchers have. Ned Coletti already mentioned the unwillingness of wanting to part with their farm system and not doing anything big but whether it’s a bluff or he’s serious remains to be seen. However the Dodgers want to add another starting pitcher to the back end of their rotation due to the health of Josh Beckett and the inconsistency of Dan Haren. A pitcher like a Jake Peavy could be on the Dodgers radar or another pitcher to add to the back rotation. It may not be something Dodger fans expect but it’s what the Dodgers are planning to do especially if it means holding on to the farm. Acquiring a second tire starter like Bartolo Colon (gulp) or a Jake Peavy but I won’t count the Dodgers out on major starter just don’t expect it really.
July 31st is two weeks away and we can expect the Dodgers to do something to help Los Angeles win the NL West and make a deep run in the MLB Post Season. To be honest I think the Dodgers will pull something huge off at the Deadline. The Dodgers have the Giants right there on them in the NL West as well as the whole National League. Things do change based off one trade. What do I expect? Well to be honest I have no clue on who will be out and who will be here but it will be interesting that’s for sure and Los Angeles are in win now mode so you can bet they’ll do something that can help them propel to that World Series that’s been missing since 1988.
Last night was beyond anything that I could ever put into words and I’m sure every Dodger fan can say the same thing. 46,000 went to Dodger Stadium to see the Dodgers attempt to sweep the Colorado Rockies at home with Clayton Kershaw on the mound. What happened that night was something many didn’t expect at all. June 18th Clayton Kershaw threw his first career No Hitter against the Colorado Rockies. This was the first No Hitter at Dodger Stadium since July 14, 1995 by Ramon Martinez and the 2nd No Hitter in the MLB since May 25 of this year pitched by his teammate Josh Beckett. It’s amazing on the type of pitching performance that Kershaw was having that. The way Kershaw was striking out the side early on in the game you just had a feeling that something special was bound to happen. Kershaw was perfect through 7 innings until an error committed by Hanley dashed any hopes of a Perfect game but the No-No was still intact. Clayton also had 15 strikeouts in his No Hit pitching performance. Only one pitcher has had more in No Hitter performance and that was Nolan Ryan. Twice Ryan has struck out more batters during a No Hitter (17 in 1973 and 16 in 1991). Now here’s something very amazing for everyone and this was an incredible thing that I found out. Clayton Kershaw is the first pitcher EVER in MLB History to Strikeout 15 without allowing a single or walk. Not only did fans witness No Hitter but we witnessed probably the best start in baseball history. Let’s not forget that the Colorado Rockies are one of the hottest hitting teams in Baseball and best batting team in baseball as well so that makes this performance very very impressive.
I was lucky enough to be able to attend the game and like the rest of the fans there I didn’t know what to expect. You can feel the anticipation just build pitch by pitch and just the whole atmosphere in the stadium was electric and amazing that I couldn’t find the words to really put it. To think that I was close to not going is crazy to the point where I really can’t think about it. This will be something that I will never forget and it will really be a story that I will share for years to come. I was lucky enough to get video of the final out and you can just feel the electricity of the Stadium as everyone erupted. Yeah I’m not going to lie when I say that I was a little scared to take the video in fear of jinxing it but I had to catch video of this and I am glad that I did but even more glad to be a witness to a No Hitter at Dodger Stadium pitched by a future Hall Of Famer in Clayton Kershaw. It’s not everyday you get to witness something like this but when you do it sticks with you for life and I am very grateful to be one of the many in attendance for this special night. This will be something where years from now people will look back and ask “where were you for Kershaw’s first career no hitter?” I can answer that I was there at field level and the Bullpen overlook checking out a brilliant performance. As you’ve heard people say many times, This is why You don’t leave games early.
Seems like the same story from last season right? Dodgers with a lot of expectations and tons of talent but struggling big time to the point where they fond themselves 10.5 games out of first place. Things turned around when a young outfielder Yasiel Puig came up and Hanley Ramirez got healthy. Now you’re thinking yes this is very similar right? Well here’s a difference to the whole thing right now. Hanley is healthy, Puig is up with the club, Matt Kemp is also healthy and Starting pitching is settled. So what’s the problem right now? It seems like everyone is unhappy from the fans to the players to the Manager himself. Matt Kemp, who has been committing errors playing Center Field, is unhappy about his move to Left and after last nights lost to the White Sox where the offense have been non-existent Don Mattingly voiced that he was “tired of answering questions” . Dodgers right now are not playing up to what they’re suppose to be playing and it’s frustrating to watch. How can a team with so much talent lack production and find themselves in this state?
It’s a number of things that’s going on. The Dodgers this season has committed 45 Errors fielding which has really hurt them in a lot of games and it’s from all parties. Outfield and Infield haven’t been helping as much but Mattingly has switched things up to help the team defensively. Another thing that has been a big glaring issue is lack of production offensively. While stats show Los Angeles batting a .255 with Runners in scoring position it seems as if the Dodgers are just being very inconsistent with the bat. A team built to give the Dodgers more production offensively just isn’t getting the job done. Last but not least the Bullpen. The Dodgers bullpen haven’t had the best of outings as of late. Brian Wilson seems to be losing it after a stellar outing with the Dodgers last season and Chris Perez have struggled as well. Jansen has 17 saves and somewhat been doing his job but the Bullpen haven’t been getting the outs. Starting pitching have been absolutely stellar and yes while they give up 2 runs or so they do keep the Dodgers in games. Los Angeles find ways to really put themselves out of games which is why they’re 31-30.
Los Angeles right now are 8 games back of their rivals the San Francisco Giants and how the way the Giants are playing compared to the Dodgers they have to figure something out or they’ll really be in a steep uphill battle to win the division. Whatever it is the Dodgers really need to look at themselves and figure it out. The chemistry comes with winning and right now it’s low and that’s the effect of losing. Nobody is going to be happy when they’re losing and if they say they are then they’re lying. Do I think the Dodgers need a spark? YES! They desperately need a spark. Do a move need to be made? I can’t answer that because there are some key spots that need to be fixed like the Bullpen and the bench to a point. Point being the Dodgers have to do something to get it going. While the Dodgers are still in postseason position in this very early season the goal for them is winning the Division. This road trip will be a critical one and if they can win the series in both road games against Cincinnati and Colorado and trim the Giants lead then things will be alright. Right now the Dodgers need to kick it into gear.
After last night’s game with the Detroit Tigers the Los Angeles Dodgers have played 10 games. Yeah the season is still very very young but we also have seen a lot in these 10 games. Now this doesn’t mean that this is a final conclusion but this is an observation that caught attention at this point. Here’s what caught my eye up to this point.
Dee Gordon coming through: During Spring Training many people noticed that Dee Gordon bulked up a little as he prepare to possibly play 2nd base. During Spring Training Dee showed that he has indeed been working out and working oh his swing as well. In the 9 games he has been hitting very well batting .394 and 5 RBI’s. I will admit I was critical of Dee especially after the last 2 seasons where he really struggled batting and fielding but to this point he’s showing that he indeed is going to make the most of this opportunity. I am interested to see what he does in the month of May and if he continues to produce.
Matt Kemp performance back on the field: Matt Kemp’s return has been the talk of many Dodger fans. Since the home opener many wondered what Kemp will do on the field. Well it’s fair to say that he has been here and there but he’s also just getting his feet wet in actual games. Batting wise Kemp has had a number of 1-4 or 0 for whatever games but that is expected right about now. Let’s not forget Kemp on Sunday had an outstanding game that included him bombing two Home Runs against the Giants. Another thing that many people haven’t noticed is Kemp’s plate discipline has gotten better. He’s laying off more low and away pitches from what I’ve noticed. Fielding wise Kemp has been struggling and once again product of not really playing in games. Right now Kemp showing he wants to be out there to a point but he has to understand that it will take time for him to completely get it together which is showing thankfully.
Kenley Jansen Struggles: Right now Jansen has been struggling closing games. Last series against the Tigers Jansen allowed the Tigers to either tie or take the lead in late innings. Is this a cause for concern? Well as of right now no. Yes Kenley has failed to close games effectively but lets not compare him to Brandon League or Johnathan Broxton. I believe Jansen will get it together. If the Dodgers aren’t panicking then no need to really be concerned. Now this is a question I do bring up. When Brian Wilson get back from injury and if Jansen struggles continues, Will we see Wilson close games? I wouldn’t be surprised but I believe Kenley will figure it out.
Batting with RISP Woes: This has been the Dodgers issue since the postseason. Yes the Dodgers can hit and hit a lot but when they have Runners In Scoring Position (RISP) then the Bats will go dead from time to time. Dodgers have to consistently get the bats going and get insurance runs. This team right now is batting .223 with RISP and that at times can be problematic but there’s plenty of time to change that. This team is capable of turning things around.
Injuries Injuries Injuries: The Injury bug has hit early. One thing that will hurt a team is the injury bug and so far is has claimed Kershaw, AJ Ellis, and Brian Wilson. Last season this was one of the many issues that hurt the Dodgers which was a huge reason on why the Dodgers fell to last place. I always say if things are going to happen better now than later in the season or summer because that’s when you’ll have to really hit a stride.
Dodger Game blackout STILL Going On: We are 10 games into the season and STILL 70% of the Los Angeles market are unable to see Dodger games due to the Time Warner Cable dispute with other TV providers. Recently in numerous articles it was said that DirecTV and TWC could not come to a deal and that DirecTV has walked away from negotiations Time Warner blames DTV while Direct blames TWC for it’s ridiculous offer. Anyway point being that nobody has SportsNet LA which leaves many Dodger fans in the dark. Me myself have been listening and watching highlights/updates on MLB Network to see what is going on with the Dodgers. On Fox 11 news Steve Garvey was interviewed and he predicted that Dodger fans will have SportsNet LA in 2 weeks. So We’ll see if he is right on that prediction. Until then Dodger fans will have to urge their TV providers to get something done soon.
Those are my observations from 10 games into the season. Some obvious and some not so much. Now I want to hear from you guys. What are your observations from this team so far?
The regular season has started. The Dodgers kicked off the season against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Sidney Australia. Many Dodger fans managed to stay up to watch the 1:47 AM (Pacific time/7:47 PM in Sidney) start and see Los Angeles pull off the 3-1 victory to open the season as well as complete the season. Now while many stayed up only few were able to see it on TV. Yes some may have found an online stream to watch the games or listened on Radio if the option was there but it was a real struggle to see the games. As of today as I type this there’s still no deal by Time Warner Cable and Any major cable provider (DirecTV, Dish, Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, etc) to carry the Dodgers new channel SportsNet LA. The issue seems to be the same with every new channel that comes out and that’s the price that should be paid to carry the network thus leaving fans who don’t have Time Warner or Bright house hostage from seeing games. Usually I would talk about the game or the Dodgers playing in Australia but I feel this is a huge issue right now. Why you ask? Well 70% of the Los Angeles market don’t have SportsNet LA which means almost no one saw the game on TV. Mind you this isn’t counting streams that fans found to watch the game. There has been people who threatened to switch, if not having doing so already.
For those who don’t remember the Lakers had this same issue. While it’s different rules (Yes It is! No use of repeating it) the situation is dearly similar if not the same. Many fans blacked out from seeing their team in their own market if they didn’t have Time Warner. Most TV providers managed to get a deal within 2 weeks of the season (Dish as far as I know is the only cable provider that don’t have it). Also the Pac-12 Network as many College fans in the area know is currently going through the same thing with DirecTV and has reached a point where Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott has recommended that users switch providers switch if they want the Pac-12 Network. Now the Dodgers are a higher demand which will push providers and TWC to come to a deal soon. I have called Dish numerous times and from what they told me is that there is a good demand from people who want SportsNet LA which is good for Dish users. Lately there has been rumor going around that DirecTV could be getting SportsNet LA very soon so things are coming along. Fans however are still upset and won’t be happy until an agreement is reached.
So who’s to blame for all of this? The Dodgers for agreeing to the deal and thinking money over fans (Been a few complaints of that lately)? Time Warner Cable for sending cable providers a ridiculous price just to carry their network? Cable providers for giving too low a number and claiming they’re thinking about the customer when they aren’t? Well depends on how you’re looking at things. In my opinion I believe everyone is to blame for this and the fans are suffering for it. TWC and Cable providers can’t really decide on a price and the Dodgers decided to take the TWC deal knowing that many fans will be shut out from seeing Dodger games. Many Dodger fans are looking to switch but I do give many this advice. Don’t switch JUST because you don’t have ONE channel. Yes you want to see the Dodgers and that’s very understandable but completely switching just for one channel will not do its justice. Right now it’s upsetting that many fans will miss their team in their OWN market and understandable. Lets hope that they’ll come to something sooner rather than later.
We finally made it past the pitchers and now to the most interesting part of our preview. The position players. I believe this is where most of the Dodgers questions lay. In this post we take a look at a what you can say loaded Infield filled with Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, and AJ Ellis to name a few. Last season this was a group that was without Hanley Ramirez for some of the season but still managed to hold up with Adrian Gonzalez playing really well and Mark Ellis picking things up. This season the Dodgers are going into the 2014 Season with a different look at some positions. Lets take a look at the Dodger infield.
2013 Review: Last season the Dodgers started out the season without a key member of their Infield group. Hanley Ramirez was out with an injury suffered during the World Baseball Classic. Things really didn’t look so good for the Dodgers from the jump. Defensively the infield committed errors left and right and with the bat some struggled big time. Guys like Justin Sellers, Luis Cruz, and Jerry Hariston Jr really had issues swinging the bat and getting on base. Mark Ellis and AJ Ellis were batting pretty solid and Skip Schumaker had troubles at the beginning of the season. Dodgers knew they had to make changes so they went on to DFA Luis Cruz, Who managed to catch on late last season, and started Juan Uribe who was in the last year of his contract and struggled his last two years as a Dodger. Uribe managed to have himself a breakout first half of the season and many Dodger fans including myself was wondering where was this was earlier? When the Dodgers got Hanley Ramirez back the Dodgers line up not only got more deadly but the infield managed to get better as the second half of the season got rolling. Guys like Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker got hot and contributed Come the 2nd half of the season guys the Dodgers really got rolling as Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley kept there successful season rolling, Uribe added on to his turn around season, AJ and Mark Ellis continued their solid contributions to the team. The playoffs saw something completely different as Los Angeles would eliminate the Braves thanks to Juan Uribe’s home run to put the Dodgers up in the 8th Inning. The NLCS would be a whole different thing as Hanley would go down due to fractured ribs that hampered him through the series. St Louis would eliminate the Dodgers in 6 games.
Off-season: The Off-season would give the Dodgers a number of questions in regards to the infield. The Dodgers were looking to upgrade at 3rd and 2nd as well as look for some bench help. Dodgers went on to re-sign Juan Uribe to a 2 year after having that breakout season. One signing that caused a bit of a buzz through Los Angeles was the signing of Cuban Infielder Alexander Guerrero. Nobody knew much about Guerrero but he has some high expectations when he plays. Now the Dodgers did happen to lose Mark Ellis (Cardinals), Nick Punto (A’s), and Skip Schumaker (Reds) as well as Jerry Hariston Jr to retirement. That put the Dodgers in a situation to find players to add to the bench. In comes Dee Gordon and Scott Van Slyke who were on the bench for the postseason and part of the regular season. Dodgers would go on to invite Justin Turner, Miguel Rojas, and Chone Figgins. One of them could also make it to the active roster and play a bench role.
Alex Guerrero: Many people in Los Angeles were a buzz about the signing of Alexander Guerrero. The Cuban infielder had Dodger fans raving about him without even seeing him play. Guerrero originally plays Shortstop but seeing that Hanley has that position locked up the Dodgers moved him to 2nd Base. It is unknown that he will be an upgrade at 2nd base or not. There has been word that he has struggled at the position defensively but not playing for a year does that. Only time will tell what we can expect.
Erisbel Arruebarrena: Okay so I had a hard time spelling this without looking. Anyways remember the guy who had his last name arch almost all the way around the back of his jersey? Meet Erisbel Arruebarrena. The Dodgers signed the 23 year old Cuban Shortstop at the beginning of February which was very interesting for the Dodgers to do. Arruebarrena played in the World Baseball Classic for Cuba and really destroyed it defensively and with the bat (.375 BA through the tournament). Mostly he is known for his glove which is understandable why the Dodgers signed him. When Erisbel gets to the Dodgers he will start at Triple A to get a few games under him before Los Angeles eventually calls him up. Weather he will push Hanley to 3rd Base will remain to be seen.
3 Questions to be answered:
Platoon at 2nd Base?: Before the season started it was projected that Alex Guerrero would be starting at 2nd base come opening day. His recent struggles during Spring Training has caused the Dodgers to consider sending the Cuban infielder down to the Minors for some seasoning. Now this will leave the Dodgers in a position to figure out what to do at the 2nd base position. Dodgers moved Dee Gordon over to 2nd as well as given Justin Turner and Chone Figgins shots at 2nd base. From the looks of it Dee is the favorite to be the opening day starter at 2nd base due to his play in Spring Training. Dee has had fielding and batting issues during his time up at Shortstop and this could be Dee’s last shot. Most likely the Dodgers will platoon at 2nd until Guerrero get it together at 2nd base.
Juan Uribe Encore?: Last Season Uribe has a big turn around season which left Dodger fans wondering “Where was this the first two years?” Now he’s back on a two year deal and starting at 3rd base but many are wondering if we will get the same productivity from Uribe this season or was that just a contract year thing? The first two years Uribe really struggled but come last season including playoffs Uribe had more plate discipline which gave him better at bats. I believe we will see productivity from Uribe but who really knows.
Hanley Ramriez?: Last season Hanley had a killer season but Injuries really got in the way of him showing us his productivity for the whole season. This year with no World Baseball Classic to worry about Hanley will be with the Dodgers come opening day but will we see Hanley put up the same numbers like last season? Without a doubt Hanley is a factor on this team and when healthy his presence on this team is indeed a huge one. Just look at the NLCS for example. The question is can Hanley repeat last seasons success? Answer is when healthy yes and maybe even better.
Players to Watch:
Alex Guerrero: Guerrero is truly a player to watch because we know so little of him. Apparently he has struggled in Spring Training fielding the ball. Word around is that he could get sent down to the minors for some seasoning which isn’t a bad thing at all. Things could change between now and the series in Australia but all indications are that he will be sent down. It’ll be interesting to see him develop as time come along but ultimately I do see him being in Dodger blue at some point during the season.
Tim Federowicz: Most likely starting the season off as the back up catcher which is obvious. Reason I have him on this list is because of his development. I am interested to see his development offensively. Last season FedEx batted .231 in 160 At bats. He was also sent down for Ramon Hernandez in the early parts of the season. I honestly see Tim some what improving with his bat this coming season but to what extent is something to be seen.
Chone Figgins: Non roster invite in Chone Figgins makes this list because he has a legit shot to make the roster. many may remember him for having those seasons with Anaheim but as of late he has been struggling. Figgins can basically play anywhere you put him and right now he is looking to find his way in Los Angeles. With the Dodgers looking to add on to their bench they could use a utility guy like Figgins but all of that depends on how he performs. If he can really find his way then it’ll be a good addition.
Dee Gordon: It seems as if Dee just can’t get it going. One moment he shows promise then the next he’s having issues batting and fielding. This season Dee will be playing 2nd Base which was a position he played a little in Triple A. As I stated earlier in this post this may be Dee’s last shot with the Dodgers to really make something happen and in the off-season he’s taking it really serious. Dee has bulked up a little and this Spring has been pretty decent. He is also a perfect 9 for 9 stealing bases. Most likely he’ll be the Opening Day starter at 2nd Base so it’ll be interesting to see how he does.
Overview: This group is shaping up to have another solid season with AJ Ellis, Adrian Gonzalez , and Hanley Ramirez. I think this group will really do wonders but can they stay healthy? Only time will tell but if they can then this group I believe will provide a major impact to the team offensively and defensively.