The Pitchers are now out the way in our 2013 Preview so now the REAL fun begins. As we continue on with the 2013 Preview we’ll take a look at the Infield. This was an area where the Dodgers really needed help at last season when it came to batting. The production wasn’t all there for them when the summer hit but the Dodgers basically did their work to bring in the likes of Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez. Luis Cruz also stepped up and became a hidden gem last season as well. This season not much needs to be done and production is expected to be better. Lets take a look at the Dodgers infield.
2012 Review- Going into last season the Dodgers were lacking production from the Infield big time but at the start of the 2012 Season James Loney, Mark Ellis, Dee Gordon, and even Juan Uribe were producing in the early part. AJ Ellis was also making his case that season even finding himself in the discussion for the NL All-Star team. Once the summer came things took a turn south. Mark Ellis ended up missing time due to a leg injury suffered in the first Cardinals series, Juan Uribe and Jame Loney weren’t producing very good at all, Dee Gordon was struggling hitting and defensively. So many things happened where it hurt the Dodgers in games but Stan Kasten and Ned Coletti weren’t going to sit back and wait till winter meetings. In the heat of a NL West Race the Dodgers worked to make moves and managed to strike gold through Trade and call ups. Luis Cruz came up from Triple A and didn’t disappoint when given the chance. He was a huge spark in the Dodgers season come the second half. Another huge trade was the Dodgers acquiring Hanley Ramirez from the Miami Marlins after they had a fire sale. Hanley’s numbers went up along with his production causing Dee to be sent down to Triple A for more coaching. In late August the Dodgers also struck with another blockbuster deal this time with the Boston Red Soxs that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Nick Punto, Josh Beckett, and Carl Crawford to L.A. and James Loney, Jerry Sands, and Ruby De La Rosa to Boston. After that the Dodgers still struggled until they heated up for a little bit until elimination but they showed a lot of promise.
offseason Not much was done in the Off-season because it was done over the summer. Dodgers traded for utility player Skip Shoumaker from the Cardinals in the off-season. Another addition made was the hire of hitting coach Mark McGwire who helped the Cardinals become one of the Top offenses in the NL. McGwire will have the task of helping a loaded Dodger line up this coming season.
Utility Skip Shumaker- Shumaker who was brought to the Dodgers via Trade from the St Louis Cardinals. While Shumaker will likely see time in the outfield it isn’t hard to see him play some second base or anything If Injuries hit. This was the only addition made but it is a solid one at that. In St Louis Skip was batting .279 with 1 HR and 28 RBI’s so he may not be the home run threat but he does make contact and get on base.
3 Questions to be Answered
1) Will Luis Cruz repeat his 2012 Season?- This has to be the main and key question right here. Will Cruz repeat what he did in the 2013 Season? Last season Cruz came out of nowhere and had a very good season for the Dodgers to where he will be starting at 3rd Base this coming season. Batting .297 with 6 HR and 40 RBI’s Cruz brought energy to the Dodgers and fans fell in love with him. Defensively he brought it as well at 3rd Base. This year there will be expectations from him. If he can repeat what he did last season consistently then he will be fine. Cruz have been working hard but the results is something we will see. If not then we could see Jerry Hairston Jr or Juan Uribe at 3rd.
2) Will Hanley have some success at shortstop?- Another question that many are wondering and that’s Hanley Ramirez and Shortstop. During the Caribbean World Series Hanley not only struggled batting but struggled defensively at 3rd base. Last season before he came to the Dodgers the Marlins moved him to 3rd base for defensive reasons. Hanley will be at shortstop and is willing to get it to work defensively which is a great sign. If he can step up then Hanley will be there for most of the season but I won’t be a bit surprised if he gets moved to third and Cruz goes to shortstop the moment he struggles.
3) AJ Ellis bound to produce again?- Last year some were high on AJ Ellis and he didn’t disappoint at all. He was one of the top players in the NL in terms of OBP (On Base Percentage). Defensively AJ was average and he needs work on blocking the plate better. This is another key at the bottom of the line up. Ellis needs to get on base in order for the team to have further success. AJ I believe will have a good 2013 season but he will have to A- Stay Healthy and B- Do a better job at blocking the plate.
Players to Watch For
Utl Jerry Hariston Jr- Jerry Hariston Jr is another utility player the Dodgers have and he was really solid last season at 3rd Base and Left Field. I have him as a player to watch because he is a veteran player who the Dodgers will need to step up. A healthy Hairston Jr will be a solid one. In 2012 Hariston was batting .273 with most At Bats coming from him being at 3rd base before the All-Star break but due to Injury Hariston had to have season ending surgery. 2013 he will be a player to keep an eye on.
2B Mark Ellis- Another player who contributed very well for the Dodgers and is a key player as well. Ellis is a guy who you can put at 2nd in the order and rely on him to get on base to set it up for Matt Kemp or whoever at the 3 spot. While there has been some people wanting him to lead off Ellis is fine at the 2 spot in the line-up. Defensively he can also bring it as well just as long as he is healthy.
Overview: This group has A LOT of talent starting wise and you can say on the bench as well. You can expect guys like Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Ellis and Hanley to produce with the bat. Defensively the left side is going to need some work just by the looks but I am sure they will have it together. These guys will only have so much time in the Spring due to the World baseball Classic (Cruz and Gonzalez Team Mexico and Hanley- Dominican Republic) but they have time to work individually.
On Deck for the 2013 Dodgers Preview: Outfield
And It Begins. That’s right folks Baseball is finally here. The Dodgers full squad are at Camelback Ranch in Glendale Arizona and preparing for their upcoming 2013 campaign. This year there’s a lot of high hopes for the Dodgers after the ending of last season and the off-season moves that were made. Regardless of the signings there’s still questions that loom around this team but it seems like for the most part are working towards answering those. Theres a lot of headlines going into Spring Training this year…You can say more than last season at that and yes it is Interesting.
One of the biggest things that’s being talked about with the Dodgers is chemistry. Many fans and media seem to mention this a lot and wonder how the Dodgers will mesh on the field. Other players seem to be talking too, Most noticeably Giants First Baseman Brandon Belt who said “All I can say is you can’t buy chemistry.” That quote has had many Dodger fans talking but the players aren’t fazed by it at all. Matt Kemp however had something to say about Belts comments with a few words of his own. The Dodgers for the most part look like they’re getting the whole chemistry thing down but once they get on the field that’ll be a whole different thing. I honestly don’t believe the Dodgers will have an issue with chemistry. Hanley, Adrian, Kemp, Ethier, Cruz and so on have played in the second half of the 2012 season and only a few pieces will have to mesh which they’ll have all spring to get it together.
Clayton Kershaw named Opening Day Starter
Clayton Kershaw was named the Dodgers Opening Day Starter by Don Mattingly (Insert your pretend surprised face here). This was something that we ALL knew for months unless there was something we didn’t know. Baring any injury Kershaw is the Dodgers guy and there shouldn’t be any shock or anything like that.
Hyun Jin Ryu Impresses
Many Dodger fans have been waiting to see what Hyun Jin Ryu brings to the Dodgers and when he was given the chance in a Bullpen session he didn’t disappoint. Ryu placed the ball where he wanted very well, had good command with his fast ball but the curveball needed more work. Mattingly, AJ Ellis, and Rick Honeycutt were all very impressed with his bullpen session but the knock on Ryu was his conditioning which has gotten better. In Korea training and conditioning is a much slower paced conditioning schedule so it’s all apart of the adjustment that Hyun Jin Ryu will have to make. Feb 25th is when we’ll see Ryu pitch in a live game.
Non Roster Players
Usually in Spring teams have players who get signed to minor league deals and give them a shot to make the 40 man roster. This year the Dodgers are hoping to find a gem that will make the Opening Day Roster like years before. This year the Dodgers are looking for a vet in a young Bullpen and there’s a few arms that stick out to the Dodgers. One of them being Peter Moylan who was with the Braves last season but only played in 8 games. Moylan also has an issue with staying healthy which is something he’s working towards doing. Another is a player the Dodgers just signed to a Minor League deal in Mark Lowe. Lowe played 38 games with the Rangers last season until getting injured. Lowe has an escape clause in his contract if he does not make the Dodgers come Opening Day where Moylan is willing to pitch in Triple A if he doesn’t make it. Both of them will have to battle with Josh Wall and Stephen Fife. Outside of pitching you have players like Tony Gwynn Jr who was on the team last season fighting for a spot on the 40 man roster. Alex Castellanos, Ellian Herrara, and Yasiel Puig are currently on there right now so a spot for Tony Gwynn jr will be pretty difficult at this moment.
Saving the best for last. Sandy Koufax back with the Dodgers as an Advisor and was it a sight to see him back in a Dodger uniform. It was a treat having a Dodger great back in Uniform talking with players and helping pitchers like Hyun Jin Ryu and Zack Greinke prepare for the upcoming season. I think this is overall a great thing for the Dodgers to do. Koufax is one of the best Dodgers and to have him involved with franchise is great for not only the Dodgers and it’s players but for the Fans as well.
Last time we covered the Starting Pitching and what a break down that was. Now it’s time to move to the Dodgers Bullpen. This has also been a focal point in the off-season outside of Starting Pitching. Dodgers went out and started off with re-signing Brandon League to a 3 year $22.5 Million Dollar Contract but even after that the Dodgers were still looking for left hand pitching which was something they were lacking due to Scott Elbert being out with an elbow injury and Randy Choate signing with St Louis. Los Angeles would go ahead and sign left-handed pitcher JP Howell. This is still a question mark but will the off-season additions as well as call-up’s from last season better the Bullpen? Lets go ahead and break it all down.
2012 Review: Before the start of last season you might as well had held your breath with a Dodger relever came out and yeah I was one of them. The Dodgers biggest question mark was with the bullpen who were indeed of a lot of things. Once the season started the bullpen came out ready to go and were impressing people for the most part. Javy Guerra and Kenley Jansen picked up where they left of from the 2011 season and Ronald Belisario came into his own. Scott Elbert and Josh Lindbloom were also solid early on in the season. Could the Bullpen be proving us wrong. Well things kind of went south after as the season went, Injuries hit, Inconsistent play, blown saves you name it. Javy Guerra lost his starting spot due to inconsistency, Jamie Wright and Matt Guerrier were adding more fuel to the fire in games, and not to mention that Kenley Jansen (irregular heart beat) and Scott Elbert (elbow) fell to injuries that hurt the Dodgers through the mid-point of the season. Things did have an upside though through Trades and call-ups. The Bullpen saw call-ups of Shawn Tolleson and Paco Rodriguez and the Dodgers acquiring Randy Choate and Brandon League in deals to help the bullpen. Josh Lindbloom would be traded to the Phillies in a deal that brought Shane Vctorino. After all the moves it wasn’t enough to provide the lift the Dodgers needed to reach the post-season. The Dodgers Bullpen ERA wise was Top 3 in the MLB at 3.35 (2nd in the NL) and 10th in the NL in saves.
Off-Season Moves: Relief pitching was a big thing that needed to be addressed. Outside of Starting pitching you can make a case that this was a important need here. The Dodgers re-signed Brandon League who was solid in 2012 with the Dodgers. In his 28 Games with L.A. He was 2-1 with a 2.30 ERA and had 6 Saves as a closer when Jansen went down to injury. The Dodgers didn’t really do much with it’s signings but they did lose Randy Choate in Free Agency (Signed with St Louis) leaving Los Angeles lacking a lefty out the pen (Elbert and Guerrier injured).
JP Howell- This was pretty much the only key move made to help the Bullpen. Howell, who played with Tampa Bay last season, Was signed to a one year deal with the Dodgers. JP is a solid pick up after losing Randy Choate to Free Agency. A left handed vet is what Howell will bring and with Elbert out this signing was much needed.
3 Questions to be answered:
Starting Pitchers in the Bullpen?- Last post I talked about Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano, and Aaron Harang being involved in trades. While I still believe that It’s not Farfetched that we could see them coming out the bullpen. You can never have too much pitching but with the depth of the Starting rotation there could be some starting pitchers Not Named Kershaw or Greinke that get moved. Ted Lilly already made note that he’ll be willing to moved to the Bullpen so that solves that for the most part.
Will there be consistency?- In baseball there’s 162 games so teams will have bad games BUT the Dodgers bullpen do have a hard time gaining consistency. There’s games where the Bullpen keep the Dodgers in the game and times where they become the “Box of Pain” and it gets painful to watch. If the Dodgers to win the Division ad some then they’ll have to be more consistent. They’ll need it from everyone in there.
Will the closers close?
The Dodgers went through 3-4 closers due to injury or inconsistency. Most of the games the Dodger closers have blown save opportunities. There has to be some consistency there between Jansen or League. Dodgers as a team had 40 Saves which was 18th in the MLB. Los Angeles will have to have more than that if they want to win the Division.
Players to Watch:
Javy Guerra- Last season Javy Guerra was the closer come opening day and was bound to have a good season but few games in Guerra lost it. He started to get inconsistent and soon lost his job to Jansen. Javy was sent to AAA for a little bit but was brought back up and moved as a middle reliever. Most likely Javy will be on the club come opening day as a middle reliever but weather he can keep that consistency has to be seen.
Kenley Jansen- The reason Jansen is on here is because of health. Jansen had an irregular heart beat which sidelined him. Now it’s about how will he pitch after it. Jansen had some issues with consistency last season but wasn’t pitching bad. I do believe that he will have a good season next season but his health is a concern.
Shawn Tolleson- Shawn Tolleson was called up last season for the Phillies series due to the number of injuries that struck the Dodgers at the time. Tolleson tends to get himself into a jam at times but can get himself out. He COULD make the club come opening day but who knows what the Dodgers will think come that time. No doubt we could have an upside.
Overall: The Dodgers bullpen was one if the best in the MLB last season. I believe this group they can repeat that and maybe better but they need to be consistent. They’ll have bad games and slumps but it can be a content things. The Dodgers bullpen have question marks but are also proven.
Next On Deck- Dodgers 2013 Preview: The Infield
It’s about that time again folks! With Pitchers and Catchers reporting next week that means Baseball is in good sight. It’s been a long offseason for many teams. Some were really busy making moves to better their team or make it worse. Some were quiet. Many players were on the move this offseason as well, Josh Hamilton signed with the Angels (Texas fans are mad at that) Zack Greinke made a move down the I-5 to Los Angeles, Torri Hunter went to Detroit, So much happened. The Dodgers were really busy making moves to move towards the ultimate goal. Win A World Series. As we kick off our Dodgers 2013 Season Preview we’ll start off with what the Dodgers needed, Pitching. Starting with Starting pitching.
2012 Review: At the start of last season the Dodgers starting pitching was filled with a lot of question marks. However once the season was underway the Dodgers starting pitching surprised everyone. With the exception of Kershaw the rest of the Dodgers Starting pitchers were really stepping up. Chad Billingsley was playing up to his All-Star form, Chris Capuano was pitching like a Number 2, Ted Lilly was also pitching great as well. As the season went Injuries started to come and hit the Dodgers. Ted Lilly was sidelined for the season due to Injury and Chad Billingsley went back to melting down in late innings before he was struck by injury twice in the season. Chris Capuano declined in the second half of the season and Aaron Harang couldn’t get it together. Kershaw played well but towards the end was hit with a hip injury and caused him to miss a few games towards the end. Los Angeles brought up Nathan Eovauldi and Stephen Fife to start a few games while players were injured and played well. Eovauldi was traded in the Hanley deal towards the deadline. Dodgers also traded for Joe Blanton whose time in L.A. wasn’t the best of things and made a run at Cliff Lee and also acquired Josh Beckett who was solid in L.A.. All and all the Dodgers didn’t make playoffs but you can say the Starting Pitching got them in position to make such a run but fell off as the season went. Dodgers starting pitching at the end managed to go 56-56 with a 3.41 ERA (3rd Best in MLB). As to note Clayton Kershaw finished second in the Cy Young Award voting.
Offseason Moves: Going into the Offseason the Dodgers were going to have money to spend and they spent on gaining pitching help. Los Angeles was looking for solid Number 2 behind Kershaw and everyone knew who was out there. Come winter meetings Zack Greinke had talks with the Dodgers but Los Angeles wanted to try to trade for a pitcher. That ment Chris Capuano or Aaron Harang would be in a deal to make a trade. While a trade for a number 2 pitcher didn’t happen the Dodgers did make moves to grab what they needed and more.
Zack Greinke- From the start of the offseason many executives had Greinke going to the Dodgers stating that they could throw whatever money at him. This was the Number one Pitching Free Agent on the market and many thought the Dodgers and Angels would go after him. Well Anaheim made a few moves to take themselves out and in came Texas who gave the Dodgers a good bidding run until the Dodgers and Greinke both agreed on a $147 Million dollar deal. Largest for a Right Hand Pitcher. In 2012 with the Brewers/Angels Greinke went 15-5 with a 3.48 ERA and 200 Strikeouts. Zack was traded from the Brewers to the Angels before the 2012 Trade deadline.
Hyun Jin Ryu- Stan Kasten talked about wanting to have the Dodgers make an impact in the international market like they used to. We all know Yasinel Puig was the first guy the signed but Hyun Jin Ryu was a player that really stood out in my opinion. When then Dodgers won the bidding to negotiate with the Korean Left Hander they got right to it to try to sign Ryu but as time went it was looking less and less likely that the Dodgers would get him. On the last day of the 30 day deadline (Nov 9th to Dec 9th) the Dodgers signed Hyun Jin Ryu to a 6 year $36 Million Dollar deal. Many Dodger fans will be impressed at his career stats in the KBO (Korean Dodger Baseball Organization). In his career with the Hanwah Eagles Ryu went 98-52 with a career ERA of 2.80 and 1,238. That’s very impressive no matter where you are pitching. Many scouts say his change-up is his best pitch and a legit out pitch at MLB level.
3 Questions to be answered: 1) The health of Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly- With So many questions regardless of the moves, It’s hard to pick 3 questions but I’ll start with this Billingsley and Lilly. Chad Billingsley has issues with melting down in late innings but tend to show flashes of his All-Star form. Chad Billingsley was sent to the DL after he injured himself towards the All-Star break, When he came off Billingsley was pitching really good until going back on the DL for a partial UCL tear and sidelined him for the season. Ted Lilly on the other hand was hurt early on in the season (May 24th) and was placed on the DL. Lilly did make a rehab start but suffered a set back that sidelined him for the season. The big question for these two is the health progressing towards the 2013 Season. We’re hearing that Chad Billingsley isn’t feeling any pain at all while throwing and that Ted Lilly is pitching some as well so that’s some good news on that but how far are they from actually pitching a full game or anything remains to be seen.
2)Will a Starting Pitcher be Traded?- This was a question in the offseason that many were asking. The speculation was that someone not named Clayton Kershaw in the rotation would be traded. Well here we are as of February 7th and we still a lot of Starting pitching. Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano are on the Trade block, That much we do know but whether they’ll remain there or not is something we won’t know. If I had to guess I do believe the Dodgers will trade either Capuano or Harang (Maybe both) during Spring training. It’s good to have a lot of starting pitchers but if you can made a deal to help the team in any way then by all means go for it.
3) Will Zack Greinke live up to expectations?- In my opinion I believe Zack Greinke will have the most to prove this season. He was the most sought after pitcher on the market during the off-season and the Dodgers signed him to a $147 Million Dollar deal. The number 2 Ace behind 2011 Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw Greinke have some expectations this coming season and eyes will be on him. What makes things helpful for Zack is that he’s playing in a Pitchers league, in Dodger Stadium which is a pitcher’s park, and has a Lineup that you can say is stacked. You can see in his attitude that Greinke is a guy who lets his pitching talk for him so you can say that’s a positive right there. As long as he help the Dodgers get into a position to win with his pitching then he will be alright.
Who to watch for: Josh Beckett- Out of many Starting Pitchers on the Dodgers there’s plenty to keep an eye out for, One of them being Josh Beckett. Beckett came over in the huge Dodgers/Red Sox deal over the summer and provided a solid outing through his time in Los Angeles. Josh Beckett as noted is a very solid pitcher but needed a change of scenery after things went south in Boston. This season Beckett will have a Spring Training with L.A. to really get going and I believe that is good for him to work with AJ Ellis and Rick Honeycutt as well.
Hyun Jin Ryu- I list Ryu because he is the one pitcher who I believe many have no clue about. The Dodgers pitching coaches will have all of spring training to work with the Korean Lefty and see what he is made of. While he is an Unknown he will be pitcher to watch for, Just to see where in the rotation he will be. One thing for sure is that many can’t wait to see what he can do.
Clayton Kershaw- I put Clayton on here not because he’s unknown or anything like that but because one he is coming off of hip surgery and two will that bother him? Clayton missed some games due to a hip issue and from what you could say might have hurt his Cy Young Award chances. despite all of that Clayton Kershaw STILL lead the NL in almost every pitching statistical category. Impressive huh? We will know what effects the surgery will have on Clayton but this guy continues to get better and better every single season and it shows too. Cy Young in 2013? We have to see how he does.
Overview: Over all the Dodgers have TONS of starting pitching going into Spring Training. This was an area where the Dodgers spent the most money on during the offseason. While the Dodgers tackled the needs and spent the money there’s still A lot of questions that has to be answered in this area.
On Deck in the Season Preview: Dodgers Bullpen
MLB released their Top 100 on Tuesday night which featured three Dodgers Prospects. The Dodgers farm hasn’t been the best of things the past few years but Stan Kasten is really working on building the Farm system back up. Now a few prospects should be playing during Spring Training and for a fact we know the three who are in MLB’s Top 100 will be there as well. Who are the 3 you ask? Well they are none other than RHP Zack Lee, OF Joc Pederson, and OF Yasiel Puig. Those three are respectively the top prospects in the Dodgers organization (Lee-1, Puig-2, Pederson-4) . Now I haven’t gotten the chance to see any of these guys play or taken time to look at film but I have read on them and from what I read and hear these guys will be called up soon. This Spring Training we should see what they can do and if they’re ready or if they still need work. Here are where they’re ranked in the Top 100 and what is said on them.
76) OF Yasiel Puig- Over the Summer this was the Dodgers first big International Signing. Puig was signed to a 7 Year $42 Million Dollar deal by Los Angeles who was intended to re-up their International market presence that has been missing for a while. Puig spent most of last season in the Dodgers farm system and impressed a lot of people. Many scouts who saw him LOVED his Bat Power and Speed as well as Athletic actions. He is rough around the edges as many question his maturity. Not bad for a guy who missed a whole year after being suspended by Cuba for a failed defection. He should be at Double A to start the season that’s if he shows he’s ready for MLB.
My Take: The Dodgers invested a good amount in Puig. He slumped out in Puerto Rico but picked it up by playoffs. We’ll see what he is about come Spring Training. Kemp, Crawford, and Ethier have the outfield starting spot but if Puig does show he’s ready then don’t be surprised if he is the Dodgers 4th Outfielder that they need.
78) RHP Zach Lee- The Top Prospect in the Dodgers organization for the 2nd season. Many people are high on Lee and believe he has a bright future with the Dodgers. Lee left LSU, where he was a QB on the football team, to join the Dodgers Organization. Lee is most likely to join a deep rotation at the show but right now he’ll be in Double A like he has part of last season. However Lee does lack an overpowering pitch which hurts him. He has a fastball that sits in the low 90′s but he is learning how miss the zone effectively and has a great mixture of pitches that he can use.
My Take: Lee is another guy who will likely get called up soon. No it won’t be out the bullpen but in the rotation. I don’t see Capuano and/or Harang in L.A. as Spring Training progresses. I do see Lee coming to the Majors if an injury hit but that’s it. He’s 21 so he has plenty of time and a good future ahead. I think Lee will be in Triple A this coming season.
85) OF Joc Pederson- Pederson has had a remarkable 2012 Season with the Class A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. Named the Organization’s Position Player of the year Joc Pederson has managed to move up in the Dodger Prospect rankings. In 2011 Joc had a horrible season which had him demoted from Rancho to the Rookie Leagues. 2012 he bounced back Strong and finds himself as one of MLB’s Top 100 Prospects. If the Last name is familiar to you guys then here’s something that’ll help, He’s the son of Former Dodger Stu Pederson. Pederson is a solid all-around player but will need to continue improvement while he’s tested in Double A.
My Take: Pederson made a remarkable climb to the top 5 of the Dodgers top prospects. He’ll be in Chattanooga this coming season and will have some work to do but if he does continue the uprise then he’ll be in Triple A/Spring Training by next year.
The Los Angeles Dodgers held their Fan Fest which was a chance for many Dodger fans to come up to the Stadium and see their favorite Dodger players, coaches, legends, and personalities in person before the season started. Last year the Dodgers held a Fan Fest which was a such a success that they held it again on Saturday, A Month before Spring Training. Like last year, I managed to go this year and I have to say in my view Fan Fest over did itself from last season. Unlike last year I managed to meet many current players and coaches who turned out to be very great people. Fan Fest though started off great for me when i met the Stan Kasten. The man behind the work of putting the Dodgers back on top. I managed to get a picture with him after he talked on the podium to Season Ticket Holders who got to enter at 30 minutes before the General Public. After meeting him I have to say I can see why I along with many Dodger fans are sold on this guy restoring the Dodgers back to Major League prominence.
Back to the players. The players were very friendly and welcoming to the fans today that it made the event even better in my view. From Andre Ethier, Zack Greinke, Nick Punto, Jansen, and Javy Guerra meeting the Dodger players made me feel like a kid again. The highlight of the whole thing was having a good conversation with Javy Guerra about season tickets and Andre Ethier joking around with my little cousins. One thing that bothered me was how long the lines were for Kemp, Ryu, Cruz, and Mark Ellis which cause us to not even attempt to stand in line for them. The interviews were also very good as well and attracted a huge crowd once Vin, Kemp, and Aj came. Matt Kemp managed to follow a fan on twitter during a Q&A with fans as well as encouraged many Dodger fans to make the trip to Spring Training next month. I honestly believe the best on stage Interview by far was by Tommy Lasorda who gave the fans a real pep talk to pump them up. He told many Dodger fans in attendance that he had a Wait Problem because he can’t wait till the season starts. I honestly felt very pumped up when he was talking. Made me want to suit up and play. You can always count on Tommy Lasorda to get the Fans going. Vin Scully was also a treat to hear and see. Vin always blesses us with his voice during Dodger games and his presence was even greater to see at Fan Fest. The crowd also got its first look at Hyun-Jin Ryu as he came to the stage and greeted the many Dodger fans at Fan Fest. One area that really caught my attention was the baseball history tent where they had historical artifacts from years on in baseball. I was very impressed with the programs from the late 1800′s and old uniforms they wore in the 1920′s as well.
There were some things that would’ve been done better like being better organized but In my opinion I was very good. There were some people on the other hand who had a lot of complaints about Fan Fest and I hope the Dodgers fix that next time to make it even better. Many Dodger fans not only showed for Fan Fest but to also buy Tickets for Individual games. From early Saturday morning many Dodger fans showed up to receive a wristband and take part in a raffle to purchase tickets so it wasn’t promised that you’d got tickets regardless if you got a wristband. Some decided to buy online but there a few who told me that the website crashed and that they were unable to get tickets while some were just unlucky. Tickets sold out very quickly. Tickets online were however limited which ment only a number was sold. it’s unclear though if more will go on sale later on so that’s something to wait and see later on. It will also be interesting to see if Season Tickets and Mini Plan demands go up because of the people who didn’t get tickets to the games.
All in All Saturday the Dodgers did a lot to bring a bigger buzz and anticipation for Baseball. 21,000 Fans were in attendance for Fan Fest. It pumped me up even more for the season and I can’t wait till Spring Training to see the Los Angeles Dodgers step on the field for their road toward bringing back a championship to Los Angeles. The threat of rain was a big concern but it grew smaller and smaller as the skies cleared and the sun beamed through Blue Heaven On Earth. Cousins had fun, Got to meet players, and meet more Dodger fans and catch up with many friends as well. Oh how I can’t wait for the season to start.
Today the Team USA Roster was announced for the World Baseball Classic and while names were already mentioned on who would headline the team the full roster was a mystery. Well this morning Team USA Manager Joe Torrie announced who would represent the country in this Spring Baseball Tournament. Here is your Roster (From the Team USA Baseball website)
Jeremy Affeldt – San Francisco Giants – LHP
J.P. Arencibia – Toronto Blue Jays – C
Heath Bell – Arizona Diamondbacks – RHP
Willie Bloomquist – Arizona Diamondbacks – UTL
Mitchell Boggs – St. Louis Cardinals – RHP
Ryan Braun – Milwaukee Brewers – OF
Steve Cishek – Miami Marlins – RHP
Tim Collins – Kansas City Royals – LHP
R.A. Dickey – Toronto Blue Jays – RHP
Luke Gregerson – San Diego Padres – RHP
Derek Holland – Texas Rangers – LHP
Adam Jones – Baltimore Orioles – OF
Craig Kimbrel – Atlanta Braves – RHP
Jonathan Lucroy – Milwaukee Brewers – C
Joe Mauer – Minnesota Twins – C
Kris Medlen – Atlanta Braves – RHP
Glen Perkins – Minnesota Twins – LHP
Chris Perez – Cleveland Indians – RHP
Vinnie Pestano – Cleveland Indians – RHP
Brandon Phillips – Cincinnati Reds – IF
Jimmy Rollins – Philadelphia Phillies – IF
Giancarlo Stanton – Miami Marlins – OF
Mark Teixeira – New York Yankees – IF
Shane Victorino – Boston Red Sox – OF
Ryan Vogelsong – San Francisco Giants – RHP
David Wright – New York Mets – IF
Ben Zobrist – Tampa Bay Rays – UTL
Now while that isn’t a bad Roster in my view there are still opinions on the roster. Many will complain the roster not having enough Stars on it. Well let me go ahead and get into that. As many know the format of USA Basketball most of the International Tournaments take place during the Summer when the NBA isn’t going on. That allows Stars like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James to play. With the World Baseball Classic it can’t take place in the Summer because that’s in the middle of MLB and the Main pool games can’t take place in the Winter because most players are playing Winterball. Some will skip most of Spring Training with their teams to play and some will stay with their teams to get ready. Players like Mike Trout for the Angels chose to skip the Classic so he can get ready with the Angels and that’s understanable. Other players such as Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw will not play due to Injuries or recovering/Rehabing from Off-Season surgery. So the whole Not enough Stars have to be put away.
On paper this is still a good team and good enough to win. Will they win is going to be a mystery until the Classic because we don’t know who will be on the other teams roster till later. Looking at the Pool in Arizona I’d say the top two favorites would have to be Mexico and USA. All together I am excited like many baseball fans for this and been looking forward to the World Baseball Classic for a while. First Round of the World Baseball Classic take place on March 2nd at Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome in Fukuoka Japan.
We are 30 Days Away from Pitchers and Catchers reporting, Almost a month before the first Spring Training Game against the White Soxs, and 78 Days until Opening Day. A lot can happen between that time and that has been proven before. This off-season the Dodgers managed to go on a spending spree to try to improve the team. Stan Kasten and Ned Colleti got together and signed the likes of Zack Greinke and Hyun Jin Ryu as well as trade for guys to help on the bench such as Skip Shoemaker. Off the field the Dodgers have been busy getting Dodger Stadium redone to not only improve fan experance but improve the Stadium for the players and modernize the 51 year old stadium as well. As we aproach the 2013 Season there are still questions that loom over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Regardless of the amount of talent and spending the Dodgers did there’s still some things that many are uncertain with. Let’s see what questions suround the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Will Zack Greinke live up to expectations in L.A?
I think this is the key question many were asking once the Dodgers signed Greinke. Yes the Dodgers did pay a lot for Greinke and we understand that but in this case Dodgers had Greinke on their list and was willing to pay whatever for him so lets clear that up. Theres going to be a lot of things expected from Grenike and with him being the #1 Pitching Free Agent there’s going to be pressure on him for a fact. To be honest I for one am not worried about Greinke at Dodger Stadium but when the Dodgers go out on the road is something that I will keep a good eye on. I think if he can stay consistent and healthy then watch out MLB.
How will Hyun Jin Ryu adjust to the Major Leagues?
Lets be real here we know International players have to adjust to the style of Major league pitching and play and Ryu is no different. After a dominant career in the KBO (Korean Baseball Organization) Hyun Jin Ryu signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers and if you look at his highlights you along with myself would be very excited to see him pitch. The one good thing about this is that no one in the Majors has seen Ryu pitch but MLB runs longer for pitchers which is something Ryu does know and is preparing for. I do believe Ryu will be a treat to watch but also is very unknown to many fans in the U.S. I think as the season progresses we will know more about him on the field.
Will Chad Billingsley, Matt Kemp, and Carl Crawford be the same coming off Injuries?
A concern with the Dodgers last season and something that hampered the team was Injuries. Chad Billingsley came off a stent on the DL when the second half of the 2012 season hit and was really pitching well until he suffered a partially torn right elbow ligament which sidelined him for the rest of the season. Matt Kemp was also bothered with injuries throughout the season and that affected his play through the season. Suffering from Hamstring injuries that sidelined him until the All-Star break and then tearing his right labrum and a frayed shoulder-blade which really affected him through the season. While Carl Crawford didn’t suit up with the Dodgers last season he also was injured and had to have Tommy John surgery which sidelined him for the season as a Red Sox. The health of those three have been closely watched since the end of the season and from the sounds of it progress is being made with Kemp and Billingsley. Kemp is swinging the bat again and working with McGwire in Arizona, Experiencing no pain while Billingsley has went fourth with is throwing program and from what is being said he’s sound confident which is also good to hear. While nothing is out on Crawford they expect him to be the Opening Day Starter at Left Field. My main concern at the moment for these guys is game speed. Yes they’ll have Spring Training to get it together but will they be at game speed and game condition once the season hits? Last thing everyone wants is for Kemp, Billingsley, and Crawford to struggle because that’s never a good thing to see. The key for their success as players is going to be Good health and confidence and If they can do that then watch out.
If Carl Crawford Isn’t Ready Who Starts at Left Field?
This was the talk at the end of last season and the answers was all over the place. In the event of Crawford not being able to play come the start of the season then who will start at his position? There were tons of players thrown into the discussion and some weren’t bad ideas while others were ehhh I don’t know. One Idea was to sign back Shane Victorino but there were two problems with that. 1) Shane wanted to be a starter and was not going to sign with the Dodgers to be a bench player once Crawford returned plus I questioned if he even wanted to be a Dodger and 2) he signed with the Red Soxs for a ridiculous amount of money so he’s officially out the picture. A few players also thrown out there was Juan Rivera which isn’t a bad idea but wasn’t the same player he was when he was traded to the Dodgers and Tony Gwynn Jr who was with the Dodgers until L.A. designated him for Assignment to Albuquerque. Yasiel Puig is a name plenty of Dodger fans put out there and while he is on the 40 man roster and has been Killing it in the Minors I question if he is indeed ready for MLB ball. He hit a major slump in winter ball but seems to be picking it back up. We have to see how he does at Spring Training to really judge if he is truly ready.
Will Luis Cruz repeat his 2012 Season
Luis Cruz was fantastic and was quite the surprise in the 2012 season. Cruz really became a popular player in Los Angeles and a key player as well earning the everyday 3rd Base spot. This season Mattingley said that the plan will be for Cruz to be starting 3rd baseman come Opening Day and why not? How the way he played Last season he should but whether he will make the same impact is a good question. Cruz will be playing with Team Mexico in the World baseball Classic so he will miss part of Spring training with the Dodgers for that. We’ve seen Juan Rivera who had a good impact on the team some what struggle the next season along with Dee Gordon and that is one thing that is in the back of some minds but with Cruz he has the work ethic to be better and help this team so it’s something to keep an eye out.
Is Andre Ethier on his way out of Los Angeles?
Andre Either has had his name in many trade rumors in the off-season and while the word is that the Dodgers are listening to offers they have not indicated that they will trade Ethier. Andre Ethier signed a 5 year $85 Million Contract extention during the season which raises eyebrows on why the Dodgers would trade him. Yes the knock has been that he can’t hit off left-handed pitchers and we all understand that but wouldn’t it be fair to wait and see how he does with Crawford AND Kemp in the outfield with him? There has been the rumor of him being traded to Seattle then signing Michael Bourn but that remains to be seen at the moment. I honestly think if Ethier struggles come the trade deadline then the Dodgers will likely look into Trading Ethier away but with his contract there isn’t many teams who will be willing to take him. I see the Dodgers holding on to Andre because as of right now it’s the right and smart thing to do.
Will The Dodger Stadium Renovations Be Done In Time?
I think this is another major question but it takes place with the stadium. If you have seen pictures of Dodger Stadium being redone or have been to the stadium then you can’t help but to worry about the Stadium being done in time for Opening Day. Stan Kasten made note that it will be ready by March 29th when the Dodgers take the field for their exhibition game against the Angels. Dodger Stadium was in need of renovations and that wasn’t a mystery at all if you visited there. After the 2012 Season the renovations start to modernize the 51 Year old Stadium but the worry is if it will be done and ready in time. It’s currently January right now and Dodger Stadium has to be ready by March for the season but in the event of it NOT being ready then there has been plans in place for the Dodgers to play at the L.A. Coliseum or Angel Stadium. I don’t believe that the Dodgers will have to play else where for their games and that the stadium will indeed be ready by March. They’ve already moved the Dodgertown Classic where USC and UCLA play at Dodger Stadium due to renovations so that’s already one event down. Yes A lot has to be done and it is a concern about getting it done in time but workers are working hard to get the upgrades done and it will be worth it.
Will Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez Have A Better Season L.A.?
Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez had up and down season in L.A. after they were aquired. With Adrian playing in the World baseball classic and Hanley in Winter Leagues I expect those two to improve. Another advantage is that Mark McGwire is the hitting coach and based on what he did for the Cardnials I can see him really doing what he can to help Hanley and Adrian improve. Weather it will work or or not is something we will have to wait and see. If Adrian Gonzalez can hit lights out and if Hanley can hit like his 2009 Batting Champion self then the Dodgers will really be a dangerous team hitting wise.
Dodger Stadium Renovations
For a while now many people who have visited Dodgers Stadium have made mention or noted that the Stadium is in need of a make over, As soon as the 2012 Season ended they got what they’re asking for. When Guggenheim Baseball bought the Dodgers one of the many questions asked during the press conference that day was What they were going to do about Dodger Stadium. Stan Kasten made note that they would analyze the Stadium to see what work had to be done and boy were they in for something. Come September the Dodgers had announced that they would hire Janet Marie Smith to take charge in modernizing the 51 Year Old Stadium. Smith was involved in working with Stadiums like Fenway Park. What work is being done right now? A lot of it for starters but what’s being added is going to be great. The Stadium Concourse in Fied Level, Loge, Reserve, and Top Deck will be widened to give more room in the concourse area. The first 4 rows of each level were removed which will lower attendance to around 56,000. Bathrooms all over the park will be redone which will be 65% Women’s and 32% Men’s which was one of the biggest needs in the Stadium, Wi-Fi and Cellular towers will also be added which means better Stadium will have better Cell Service which was also an issue at the Stadium for people who wanted to make calls, Playground will be added for the little Dodger fans who can’t sit still, Standing Room which means the Bullpen will be pushed back a few feet, and Last but not least New HD LED Scoreboards and Video boards above the Pavilions. The Team will also have a more modern Clubhouse which mean Batting Cages, New Weight Rooms, and so on for the Players. Dodger Stadium will be getting more in the future but this is a great start. Dodger Stadium getting it’s much needed make over is something the fans will finally get.
No One qualifies into the Baseball Hall Of Fame
For the first time since 1996 the Baseball Hall Of Fame will not have a class for 2013. The BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) casted their ballots and Wednesday they were counted to see who would go into the Hall of Fame. No one got the number percentage of votes to get elected this year (75% is required to be inducted). Craig Biggio was the closet to that required 75% with 68.2 while the next was Jack Morris with 67.7. A lot of people thought Mike Piazza would get into the Hall of Fame but he didn’t come close only grabbing 57.8% of the Votes to get in. This year was basically highlighted by players who were part of the “Steroid Era” and players like Rodger Clemons, Berry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire were eligible to be inducted into the Hall of Fame and many people believed and in that case knew that it would be an issue for many Voters to vote for players who have used PED, HGH, or Sterioids during their playing career. Let’s be honest we didn’t expect Bonds, Clemons, Sosa, or McGwire to get inducted but I felt that it was shocking that no one was getting inducted into the Hall of Fame. Many people are saying that having writers vote who gets into the Hall Of Fame is a big issue and something needs to be changed. I am one of those who believe something needs to be done with voting. One idea that could be done is have those who are already in the Hall of Fame (Thats living) Vote along with the writers. Another is maybe lowering the needed votes by 5% or a respectable percentage but something has to be done. I’m all for not allowing PED users in the Hall Of Fame and that’s fine but I think it’s kind of ridiculous that we don’t have anyone in the class of 2013. Next Year Mike Piazza and others will have to wait to get their chance but this has to be changed ASAP. BWAA Hall of Fame Voting this year is just another reason something has to change.
Dodgers To Play Exhibition Game Against Quake
As it was announced on Wednesday the Dodgers will play an Exhibition game in Rancho Cucamonga to face their Single A affiliate The Quakes on March 28th at 6:05 PM. Now before anyone gets very excited about the full team playing this will be the day the Dodgers have a Split Squad because theirs also another game an hour later in Anaheim against the Angels that day but the exciting part is that Tommy Lasorda will manage the team in Rancho. While the roster will be named at a Later date (Spring Training) it’s going to be exciting for the City of Rancho Cucamonga and the Quake Baseball club. This is also a chance for many Dodger fans, who decide not to make the Trip to Anaheim, to checkout some of the young players and prospects of the Dodgers organization and Young players of the Quake Organization and California League. March 28th will be filled with Dodger baseball both in Rancho and Anaheim so don’t miss out Dodger Fans.
This week’s post is going to be something very very special. Baseball headlines shifted to the L.A./OC Area thanks to the Dodgers and Angels making big moves in the off-season. Kristen, who runs a great blog http://blithescribe.mlblogs.com/ as well as a very good friend to this blog and I have decided to come together to bring you the I-5 Bias “Hot Stove Edition”. Between the A’s winning the AL West, Giants winning the WS (Yuck!) as well as the Angels and Dodgers making huge splashes in the off season California Baseball has been something else. Kristen and I have set a side 6 questions that you may have been asking as of late and wanted answered. Well we got them right here for you so without further or due. I-5 Bias!!
1- Which of your team’s offseason moves do you think was the strongest?
Matt says: As important Pitching was this off-season I’m not going to say it was Zach Greinke or Ryu. I think the strongest was Mark McGwire as the Dodgers hitting coach. The Dodgers had issues with getting hits and runs in games and that hurt the Dodgers playoff chances. Look at what Mark did as hitting coach with the Cardinals. They were pretty much in the top ten in Runs, Batting Avg, and OPB. For a Dodger Team with Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, and Carl Crawford that’s going to be huge help for them.
Kristen says: I imagine everyone is expecting me to say Josh Hamilton here. Hamilton was a huge signing and should be a boon to the team, combining with Albert Pujols, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo to make the Angels offense a formidable one indeed (at least on paper – I am very careful about how excited I allow myself to get before the teams actually take the field when, as any longtime baseball fan can tell you, anything can happen). However, I actually think the Angels strongest move was the most recent – the trade for Jason Vargas. As a player, Hamilton is definitely on another level than Vargas and will probably contribute more to the team directly. But trading for Vargas set the rest of the Angels roster in ways that will benefit the entire team and make Hamilton’s talents that much more effective. In addition to providing another reliable, workhorse arm to a starting rotation that needed exactly that, the Kendrys Morales for Vargas trade ensured that the Angels do not have to make less advantageous trades to get said arm. They no longer have to worry about trading the more versatile slugger Mark Trumbo, whose bat has the potential to be more explosive in the lineup with Hamilton. They no longer have to worry about trading Peter Bourjos, who can instead be the gold glove caliber centerfield anchor between Hamilton and Trout in what should be a truly scary Angels outfield — oh, and having Bourjos and Trout tear up the base paths together won’t hurt either.
2- What, If anything, do you think your team still needs to do?
Matt says: I still think the Dodgers need to address the Bullpen and bench. Dodgers lack a LHP out the pen. Scott Elbert is still out, Paco Rodriguez isn’t really ready for a full stent like that, and missed the chance at resigning Randy Choate. The only thing the Dodgers did for the bullpen was resign Brandon League. They have Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang out there on the trade block so maybe they trade them for Bullpen help. Bench wise I believe the Dodgers have to address getting a 4th Outfielder because lets be honest Yasnel Puig isn’t really ready quite yet. They traded for Skip Shoemaker which help but a 1st/3rd Baseman off the bench along with a 4th Outfield will really help.
Kristen says: Well, if we were asking these questions earlier in the week, I would have said that the Angels need another starting pitcher in bold, italicized, all caps, 24 point font. But, thank you Santas Jerry Dipoto and Arte Moreno, that seems to be taken care of – see previous response. Instead I’m going to enter complete fairy tale land here (Well, it is Christmas after all — might as well wish big!) and say that I think the Angels need to move Vernon Wells, even if it means eating almost all of that huge contract. Nothing against Wells himself — he has been a smiling example of good attitude, trying hard to improve at the plate and gracefully moving wherever the team asked him to, including the bench. But this acquisition just hasn’t work out, and that’s putting it mildly. I would love it if any of the, quite frankly, trade porn rumors surrounding one team or another showing interest in Wells worked out…even if the deal is for practically nothing! The Angels would seriously benefit from having the room on the 25-man roster and I think Wells himself would benefit from the chances offered by that supposed panacea, the change of scenery.
3- Now that we know what you want your team to do, what do you think they will do? Any trade/move/signing predictions?
Matt says: I think the Dodgers will end up Trading Aaron Harang or Chris Capuano along with Dee Gordon for a Left Hand Arm out the bullpen. Theres been rumors about Andre Ethier being traded but I don’t see that happening at all. As far as signings go I believe the Dodgers will look into the Market for a Outfielder or Corner position player off the bench but at the same time I think they’re done.
Kristen says: I think that, with the Vargas trade, the Angels are pretty much done. I suppose that you might hear about a smaller move here or there – one lesser known bullpen pitcher or non-top minor league prospect for another, but other than that they’re done making deals for the offseason. Although, if Jerry Dipoto chooses to see this as a challenge — because of course the Angels read my blog – and moves Vernon Wells just to spite my prediction, I certainly wouldn’t mind being wrong.
4- There has been A LOT of money being spent in LA/OC these days. A LOT OF IT! Does the Payroll of the teams or amount being spent worry you at all?
Matt says: To be honest yest it does. With the amount of money being put into the Dodgers I would hope winning comes with it. You can’t buy wins or world series and playing Yankee ball can only work when done right. I fear of the Dodgers being like the Red Soxs. All the money being spent and no playoff apperance or anything. Not only that but the fear of Contracts back loading up to where the Dodgers can’t do anything in the future but the Dodgers said they have deep pockets and a new 2 Billion dollar TV deal is coming in soon so we shall see what happens but I can’t say it doesn’t worry me or isn’t in the back of my mind. Everyone tries to play Yankee Ball but the only way that works is if you get the players that fit and generate wins.
Kristen says: Absolutely. Spending this much money should scare anyone. Every player, no matter how talented, is a risk. No one wants to see it happen but any player has the potential to age, slump, lose their swing/pitching location/etc., fail to mesh with a given team and (God forbid) get injured. And when you’ve spent outrageous sums of money acquiring that player, the end result of any such occurrence is devastating because suddenly you’re priced out of just eating that paycheck one way or another to move the player off your roster. And if this happens on several such deals? Yeah, say hello to a nice block of ever-so-much-fun-for-the-whole-team-family “rebuilding” seasons. No. Thank. You!
Here’s the thing though – I think that more and more teams are going to need to come to terms with this level of spending as we go on. Teams are wisely locking up their talent before they hit free agency with greater frequency, leaving smaller free agency pools for teams in a buying mode to fight over. Nothing against Zack Greinke — he’s one hell of a pitcher and I wish the Angels had been able to keep him – but do you really think he would have garnered this impressive a contact if the Giants, Phillies and Angels had allowed Matt Cain, Cole Hammels and Jered Weaver to hit the free agency market in 2013 as scheduled? And Greinke is just the latest example of this phenomenon. And, of course, when quality players are making those kinds of dollars you know that marquee players will command even more from their current team or on the FA market (Holy Staggering Albert Pujols Contract, Batman!!). The end result is that, while the Dodgers and Angels may seem to be leading the charge at the moment, more and more teams will be joining in that charge out of necessity over the next several seasons – as a trend this is both kind of exciting and very scary
5- The MLBN analysts seem to think that the Dodgers and Angels offseason moves are all about one upping each other. Do you think there is any truth to this? How do you feel about that?
Matt says: You know that’s an interesting question. I honestly don’t think it’s one upping at all and theres two reasons for that. 1- The Dodgers and Angels are filling needs that prevented them from making the playoffs. Thing was it just so happen the Angels signed Hamilton in the heat of the Dodgers making serious moves. 2- The Angels turned out to be the mystery team that was after Hamilton and got him just like last year with Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson So they’ve done this before. People predicted the Dodgers having money to throw at Free Agents before Off-Season. I don’t believe it’s one upping at all but It has caught the attention of the National Media so I like the westcoast attention the Baseball Media is giving.
Kristen says: To quote Annie Savoy, “Baseball may be a religion full of magic, cosmic truth, and the fundamental ontological riddles of our time, but it’s also a job.” Or, from the owners’ perspectives it’s also a business. I’m sure Arte Moreno and Magic Johnson and partners do consider things like Los Angeles/Orange County market share when they’re making decisions about advertising, overall ballpark experience and the price of parking, beer, etc. But I highly doubt that this thinking extends to personnel decisions. Competitive teams that win games and reach the Postseason make fans happy and draw them to the ballpark. In order to do that, it’s far more important to be competitive within one’s own division than with an interleague rival as I’m sure all owners and GMs involved are well aware. I can see why the timing of some of the Angels and Dodgers free agency signings lead to the comments in question on MLBN, but I think that both the signings and their timing had little to do with Freeway Series rivalry. Yes, the Angels wanted Zack Greinke and so did the Dodgers. But at least half a dozen other teams also seriously wanted Greinke. He was the best free agent starting pitcher on the market this season. Once the Dodgers signed Greinke, I’m not surprised that the Hamilton signing followed so quickly on its heels. Suddenly the Angels had a lot less pokers in the big money free agents fire and could just concentrate their efforts on Hamilton.
6- Now on to something really important – the annual LA/OC billboard war. Which team do you think will have the most/best billboards plastered all over town?
Matt says: Hahaha It was a year ago when the Angels had billboards all over LA/OC until the Dodgers got new owners. I believe it’ll be fairly even. In the OC you have Albert Pujols, Jarred Weaver, Josh Hamilton, and Mike Trout where in LA you have Matt Kemp, Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, and Adrian Gonzalez. I believe the Dodgers will have them posted all over L.A. knowing Magic and his promoting of the Dodger brand and the Angels will do a lot of marking themselves as well. It’ll be interesting to see.
Kristen says: *snerk* The “billboard wars” always make me smile and laugh. I take the 605 freeway to work. Most seasons that freeway is littered with Dodgers billboards heading south and Angels billboards heading north as if both teams were making a concerted effort to convert their rival fan base. Honestly, the arrival of the billboards is one of my favorite So Cal signs of spring. Last season at the height of all of the Frank McCourt ick in L.A., the Angels rather dominated the local billboard space and, as much as I like seeing red everywhere I look, it just wasn’t nearly as much fun as when it’s a “battle.” (Yes, mine is a long and boring commute and I take my simple pleasures where I can. Why do you ask?) However, between Arte Moreno (who made his fortune in advertising and billboards, don’cha know) and Magic Johnson (who also seems to have an admirable grasp of the importance of good marketing) I am sure both that teams will being trying to convert us all once again this season – looking forward to it, in fact!