Results tagged ‘ Angels ’
Thats right it’s that time again. Thats right Opening Day is here! Fans have been waiting for almost 6 months for this and this is where teams take today to make a statement on the first day. As we celebrate the start of Baseball season whats a better way than to have another edition of I-5 Bias. Kristen, who runs a great blog “This is a very simple game” (http://blithescribe.mlblogs.com/) and myself have done a set of post together refering to the Dodgers and Angels. In this edition we will talk about Opening Day and post Spring Training. With the baseball power shifting towards the west a lot of attention is on the AL and NL West. For those who haven’t read our collabrations before you are in for a treat and it’s something for EVERY baseball fan to enjoy. We really hope you enjoy reading. And Now The I-5 Bias!!!
1) So, about those less than stellar spring training records? Are you concerned? What, if anything, did you learn about your team from spring training?
Kristen says: I’m not really concerned about the Angels spring training record (or, truth be told, the Dodgers either for that matter). Split squads facing full squads. Pitchers taking the mound in unconventional innings for unusual stretches of time. Players pulled both more and less quickly than they usually would be. Minor leaguers finishing what the big leaguers start. Spring training play is just too different from regular season play for the one record to say anything predictive about the other. Besides, lately the Angels have started off their seasons with a crappy April and early May. The terrible spring training record gives me a small, odd hope that they’ve somehow gotten it out of their systems earlier this season. Now, having watched more spring training games than not, I can tell you that I am still really concerned about the Angels bullpen and only somewhat less concerned about the back end of the starting rotation. Here’s hoping that I’m just a hopeless worrywart without cause.
Matt: as far as the records I’m not concerned at all because if you look at spring training most of the time it’s the minor league guys and Non roster guys playing so no need to worry at all. As far as what I learned in Spring I learned a few things. 1- the Dodgers minor league system is in great hands and 2- Dodgers have depth.
2) After watching spring training, what player(s) have particularly impressed you? What player(s) you look forward to seeing this upcoming season?
Kristen says: I’m still head over heels enamored with the Angels outfield – Mike Trout, Peter Bourjos and Josh Hamilton. They had their rough games and bouts of butterfingers this spring training but I really got the impression they learned to work well together. Watching Bourjos get his centerfielder’s confidence back after a season spent largely on the bench was a kick and a half, as was watching Hank Conger kill it at the plate.
Matt: One player I am really looking forward to seeing and Impressed by is Josh Beckett and here’s why. While Beckett isn’t going to be a Cy Young Award winner he is going to produce for the Dodgers. I believe the change of scenery will really help him this season. Another player that impressed me was Hyun Jin Ryu. Ryu will have to adjust to the MLB style of play but without a doubt he can for sure get it done. He will be a treat to watch this season. Yasiel Puig also impressed many Dodger fans this spring. Even though he was sent to Double A due to no room on the roster he will be something else once he’s called up.
3) This is the first season with two 15 team leagues and interleague play every day. In fact, the Angels are one of the teams opening the season with an interleague series. What are your thoughts on this?
Kristen says: I’m an oddity among hardcore baseball fans in that I actually enjoy interleague play and look forward to all of the odd matchups — perhaps it’s a throwback to my childhood and all of those great DC/Marvel comic mash ups. So, on many levels, I am excited to see the Angels take on the Reds. In fact, my only annoyance with the Angels season opener is not that it’s against a National League team. It’s that the series takes place on the East Coast and most of the games are early, sticking me with the unappealing choice of either catching games that take place while I’m at work only in bits and pieces on the radio and in phone updates, or watching them on delay knowing full well that there is no way I will be able to avoid knowing the outcome of the game prematurely unless by some miracle I can avoid the entire internet, the radio, television and basically all human contact until I’m finished watching the game. I know. Not bloody likely. As for this being the first season with two 15 team leagues, I love having an equal number of teams in both leagues at last, but still have some serious reservations about that equal number being an odd one. We’ll see how this works out.
Matt: I honestly believe is a pretty cool yet odd thing. With Opening Day it’s the start of the season and you always want to start the season off on the right foot. Interleague games to start the season will be an odd one but will also be fun. A good example is Angles and Reds. The Reds pitching staff against the Angels line up at Great American Ballpark is a game that catches many eyes. AL vs NL contenders. I believe it is a great treat for baseball fans
4) What are your thoughts on your team’s Opening Day 25-man roster? Do you have any issues or just plain surprises?
Kristen says: The 25-man roster is more or less what I expected. There were no surprises for me in terms of the starters and I am completely happy on that front, ecstatic even. I was thrilled, though not surprised, that Hank Conger made the roster. Hopefully 2013 is his year to really make an impact! I was pleasantly surprised to see Andrew Romine make the bench list and am excited to see what he can do. I’ve had a soft spot for the kid ever since I saw him pull off a tough force play at third with a long distance slide across the bag with the ball, just ahead of the runner. He’s rough around the edges and needs work at the plate but has good instincts and an appealing versatility. My only issue is that even, with a large personnel shuffle in the bullpen, I still don’t trust them to be consistently reliable. Prove me wrong guys. I would love nothing more than to be making heartfelt, happy mea culpas to the bullpen at the end of the season.
Matt: Justin Sellers is a player that surprised me. I would’ve thought Alex Castellanos or Ellian Herrara would be on the roster but Mattingly wanted to go with Defense. Paco Rodriguez is also another surprise but the kid shown that he can pitch. That’s for a fact. He can really pitch and has a bright future with this team. Other than that I see no other surprises on the 25 man roster. Most are healthy which is great.
5) The World Baseball Classic was big news and now the media are debating the impact it will have
on the regular season. What are your thoughts?
Kristen says: I think it’s a mixed bag and that the effects will differ from player to player. I’m thrilled silly that the Angels’ participant, Erick Aybar, emerged from the WBC with a May and June like hot bat that he shows every intention of maintaining. In the case of Aybar, who regularly plays pretty much year around between the regular season and the Dominican League, I think he actually has a chance of maintaining it and other teams will be in this same, happy little boat. Other players may start out hot but fade early having, effectively, started playing hardcore, competitive baseball a month earlier than their teammates. And, of course, WBC related injuries – many of which would not have happened during less intense ST play – will be an issue for a few teams, including the Dodgers. What we have to remember, however, is that if the unfortunate end of the WBC related effects spectrum is enough to tip the seasonal balances for any team, then one of any number of the sort of injuries/issues that managers have to anticipate during the regular season might well have had the exact same effect.
Matt: I honestly believe it will. Hanley’s injury was something that could’ve Happened in a Spring Training game. What many fail to realize is that the WBC gets players into 9 innings shape instead if slowly getting into that game by game. It gets them ready and going and if their teams make playoffs then the atmosphere will have them set to go. So I believe for the good it will have them ready.
Meet the Bloggers Bonus Question: So, Opening Day. Do you have tickets to your team’s home opener and what, if any, Opening Day traditions do you have?
Kristen says: I am bouncing off the walls excited! Yes, we do have tickets to the Angels home opener, though it’s just about the latest home opener for any team this season so I still have a ways to go before I get to see my guys play live. For the last three seasons, our tradition has been to go to the Angels home opener. In seasons like this one where that doesn’t coincide with Opening Day, our tradition is just to watch as much baseball as possible and really soak it in after the long winter without, preferably accompanied by a nice bottle of red…or two. Sadly, this year all traditions will be bucked. I’m sick, so no wine, and the Angels are playing at 1 p.m. on a weekday so, really, no Angels. Thus this year’s ‘tradition’ is apparently watching not my team and being frustrated until the Angels hit Texas. But, you know what? Today umpires will call out those magical words, ‘Play ball!’ twelve times in regular season play, so I simply can’t be bothered to wipe the big, silly grin off of my face long enough to be upset about much of anything. Baseball is back!
Matt: yes I absolutely do. This is my first FULL season as a season ticket holder and I am looking forward to it. A tradition I always have is I check my stuff the night before and put it in one place. Then I get there the next day for batting practice and to see all the festivities. Opening day is really great.
Its that time again! Baseball is finally here with Spring Training under way and the World Baseball Classic not far off. It’s also that time to look at not only the Dodgers but the Angels as well as Kristen who runs a very great blog This is a very simple game (http://blithescribe.mlblogs.com/) and myself bring you the Early Spring Training edition of I-5 Bias!!
- What player(s) should we keep an eye on during spring training? Are there any young minor leaguers Angels/Dodgers fans should pay special attention to?
Matt: Well for the Dodgers there’s two players that fans should keep an eye on. Yasiel Puig and Zack Lee. Puig as you know was the first major International signing that the Dodgers made in the middle of the season. Many scouts say he has good Power but is still Raw and needs more coaching. Fans will finally get to see what he is all about this Spring and we’ll get to see if he is ready or needs more time. Zack Lee is another player who is listed as the #1 Prospect in the Dodgers Organization. This is a guy who I believe will be called up this season (If any injuries are to hit). If not we will see him in Triple A.
Kristen: Well, I don’t think I have to tell anyone to keep an eye on the usual suspects. In fact, at least this early on in spring training, I wish fans would keep less of an eye, or at least a more casual eye on some of the bigger names. Josh Hamilton going 0 for 3 in his Angels _February_ spring training debut merits a top Yahoo headline today? Really? *shaking my head and laughing* As for some of the players who aren’t already on every fan’s radar but should be, with Bobby Wilson no longer on the team, Hank Conger will be trying to make this season finally be the season that sees him start and stay on the 25-man roster. His batting average was the only thing standing in the way before and this spring he’s off to a great start. Peter Bourjos spent 2012 on the bench but is slated to finally share the outfield with Mike Trout in 2013. He should be both thrilled to play again this spring and extra eager to prove himself. Outfielder Kole Calhoun and short stop Andrew Romine will start the season in the minors on the 40-man roster but are exciting up and comers likely to become 25-man roster fixtures in the seasons to come.
- Teams often find a hidden gem in a non roster invitee. Which NRI player(s) have the best shot at making the Roster come opening day?
Matt: Dodgers tend to find hidden gems with the NRI players. I will say one who has a good shot would be Peter Molan and Mark Lowe. The Dodgers want to add a Veteran presence in a young bullpen and both of them have a good shot at making it but will have to beat out Stephen Fife and Josh Wall just to get on the 40 man roster. Molan you may remember was with the Braves last season but was hit with Injury problems and Lowe was with the Rangers as well but didn’t play as much. Only one of them will make it on the 40 man roster in my opinion.
Kristen: Barring any injuries or other oddities *knock on every scrap of wood in a 40 mile radius!* I think the Angels came in to spring training with the 25 and 40-man rosters pretty much set in all respects except perhaps the bullpen. I think that if NRI relief pitcher Hiroyuki Kobayashi continues to have a good Spring, he will have a shot at making the roster for Opening Day but I don’t expect any of the other Angels NRI players to make the roster for a couple of seasons yet.
- Are there any issues or unanswered questions that you hope to see your team work out in spring training?
Matt: Well for sure it isn’t Chemisty haha. I honestly think there’s a few questions and issues that I would like to see the Dodgers workout. One is being Hanley at Shortstop. Hanley isn’t the best defensive Shortstop out there and we all know he was at 3rd for a reason with the Marlins last year. Hanley will have to get fielding down at short and only has so much time with the Dodgers before he goes and plays in the WBC with the Dominican Republic. The rotation after Kershaw and Greinke is also a mystery as well. Dodgers had a deep rotation which could see guys either traded or moved to the bullpen. #3-4-5 will be up in the air pending on how Capuano, Harang, Beckett, Billingsley, Lilly, and Ryu pitches through the spring. Right now it’s projected to be Beckett, Billingsley, and Ryu but that could all change.
Kristen: For me, at least, the biggest question still facing the Angels is the starting rotation. I’m thrilled with the addition of Jason Vargas, but once I get past Jered Weaver and Vargas, I am full of questions. Will C.J. Wilson’s bone spur surgery mark the reappearance of the strong, reliable, successful C.J.? And will we get to see this C.J. in the second half too? Which Tommy Hanson will we see? And so on. I bounce back and forth between optimism and queasiness on the subject and really hope that spring training ultimately gives us a strong indication of positive answers to those questions. A secondary question for me is how quickly will the planned outfield configuration of Trout in left, Bourjos in center and Hamilton in right shape up? I don’t ask how well because I don’t really think that’s a necessary question — an all young, talented centerfielder outfield is a pretty drool-worthy prospect. At the same time, Trout and Hamilton are both used to calling the shots in their respective outfields and Bourjos spent most of 2012 — unfairly — on the bench so it may take him a few games to get used to taking charge again and will definitely take all three of them a few games to get used to each other’s range and working together. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what spring training is for – and I do love the fact that so many games are on TV now so that we get to watch the process.
- The Dodgers are well represented in the 2013 World Baseball Classic with five players participating. The Angels only have one player participating. How do you feel about this? Do you think it’s more important to have the cream of MLB represented in the WBC or for teams and players to conserve their talent for the regular baseball season?
Matt: I for one Love the World Baseball Classic. I like that the Dodgers are well represented in this because they’re playing for their country which is something they don’t get to do that much. I honestly would like to see the MLB’s best play in the classic but can understand if the Player don’t want to play..Notice I said player because I feel it’s up to them if they want to play in the Classic. Through the past few weeks we have seen teams step in a block players from play in the tournament and that I think is not fair. I get that teams don’t want guys hurt playing but it’s the same risk if you have them play in a Spring Training game. In my opinion I think it’s more important to have players ready for the Regular season but the WBC is played in the Spring and the players will have their rest before the Season starts but that’s for the players to decide. You see players like Mike Trout who declined to play to work with the Angels and that I can understand and respect.
Kristen: I think it’s great for the Dodgers to be so well represented in the WBC and most years I would be happy to see the Angels equally well represented. However, after all of the injuries of 2011 and 2012 and with so many very young players still learning how to keep positive momentum all the way through the second half of the regular season, I am glad that this Angels team largely opted not to participate. There will be other WBCs with more Angels participation. In general, while it would certainly be exciting to have all of the best in baseball playing in the WBC, I think this is a question best left up to the individual players. As with the Angels, I completely understand when players, knowing their own pre-season training needs, decide that they would prefer just to concentrate on the regular baseball season and skip out on the WBC. Look, half the fun of the WBC is seeing MLB greats playing for their home or ancestral countries, so excellent MLB participation isn’t going to guarantee a strong USA team regardless – though I do think we have a strong, competitive team this year and am excited to have tickets to the USA/Mexico game in a few weeks. I also don’t think that teams should step in to block players from participating in the WBC unless there is a legitimate injury concern in the sense of a frequently or recently injured player.
- We had a Freeway Series showdown — naturally! — during the MLB Network’s recent Face of MLB contest and Matt Kemp beat Mike Trout. Thoughts? Reactions?
Matt: I didn’t vote or anything for this because I don’t see the point in it but I find it to be something that adds for the fans. Last year Mike Trout was in the same position Kemp was in 2011. Great season only to not be named MVP due to his team not being in the Playoffs. Honestly I believe this is a great honor for both players to be recognized but in my opinion this was for the fans to make that call which we all knew who everyone was voting for. I just want to know outside of Dodgers/Angels fans who voted for who haha.
Kristen: On the surface, the Face of MLB contest is just a fun, silly way to pass the offseason time. On a deeper level though, I think the results demonstrate the effect of changing technology on the way fans interact with the game. With the increasing popularity of social media, constant MLB-wide highlights streaming across a baseball dedicated cable channel and all of the different ways we have to stream games online and watch out of market games on TV, baseball is no longer about just getting to see “our team” and the handful of, primarily East Coast teams, that at one point held an almost “National Brand” status. There was a time, not so long ago, when West Coast ballplayers would have been eliminated in the first round of any such competition. Now we fans still root the hardest for our own teams – as it should be! — but we are also aware of the daily exploits of talented players on every team regardless of rank and market size and I think that’s wonderful! As for Matt Kemp beating Mike Trout in this competition quite handily, this season I think that’s as it should be. Both are exceptionally talented players but Trout is a brand new face while Kemp is an established a team leader with several MVP level seasons to his credit. However, as Trout continues to live up to his potential, I expect that the results of any such future contests will quickly start shifting in Trout’s favor.
- Bonus Bloggers’ Bias Question: As a fan, do you look forward to spring training or can you take it or leave it?
Matt: As a fan yes I do and for many reasons. One it signals that Baseball is back after a long off-season and seeing Free-Agents sign and moves being made in the winter. Also allows fans to get a good look at players like a Kershaw and Kemp play and get their pre-season done, New players like Grenkie and Ryu play with their teams for the first time, and get a good look at the Top Prospects in the farm system play in MLB Uniform and see if they’re the real deal. Best part is actually going to see Spring Training and actually getting to meet the players. Yes people spend a lot of money to attend opening day or Opening night but it’s the only time fans can catch Baseball at a cheap price and in a location (Well to me and Kristen) where it’s not far at all. This year will be my first trip to Spring Training in Arizona and I am honestly looking forward to it. I understand some fans say they’ll wait till Opening Day to see what the team is about and that’s fine but with me being such a Baseball Junkie I like to see the Prospects and NRI guys just to see what my team will be working with.
Kristen: I love spring training and look forward to it every year! Yes, this is partially because of how stir crazy I get in the offseason. However, a big part of my spring training love is the glimpse it gives us inside the teams’ preparations for the season. I love watching my favorite players shake off the rust and work back into their regular season form and I enjoy watching new players and/or existing players in new positions work to blend seamlessly into the team unit. No, the games aren’t the same quality as regular season games, especially this early on. And, yes, once we get past about March 15th, I will be Jones-ing hard for the regular season to start. But the more casual vibe of spring training has an undeniable charm all its own and serves as the perfect appetizer before the regular season main course. (I decided that this was a more mature metaphor than Foreplay/Long Time, if you will. Aren’t you all so proud? )
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
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!
Many Baseball fans and players usually say the game isn’t over until the final out and that anything can happen in baseball. In the 2012 season that was what the Dodgers thrived off of until they were knocked out of playoff contention. Apparently they brought that into the Off-Season as well. Let me go ahead and make the long story short. In case you haven’t heard the Los Angeles Dodgers have signed Zack Greinke. When Off-Season started many Front Office executive’s and Analyst were predicting the Dodgers to sign the 29 Year Old Right Hand Pitcher. The Angels and Nationals going into Winter Meetings were also two teams who could sign him as well but as time went the Angels trade for Hanson and Signing Joe Blanton took the Angels out of it and the Nationals getting Dan Haren took them out as well. So all that leaves are the Dodgers right? Wrong because the before the end of the Meetings the Texas Rangers got into the Greinke race and made an aggressive push for him. By Friday it looked as if the Dodgers were going to walk away from Greinke and by Saturday morning many reporters had the Dodgers out of it. That same day reports started to come out that the Dodgers were close to signing Greinke to a 6 year deal which had many Dodger fans excited about the possible signing. Once the report that the Rangers were out it was all clear from there. Greinke and the Dodgers agreed to a 6 year $147 Million Dollar deal pending on the physical. Dodgers made a big splash in the Off-Season as expected by many.
A lot of people and some fans may not like this deal because they feel the Dodgers overpaid for Greinke and some felt that he isn’t worth that much. Going into the Off-Season it was known that teams were going to drop big money on Greinke and while people fear of him being a bust I don’t see it happening. Greinke played in Kansas City for most of his career and trust me those weren’t good teams at that time. When he came to the Brewers and traded a season later to Anaheim he had 15-16 wins with a ERA of 3.44. With this Dodgers ballclub he’ll get the run support needed to get the wins and help this team. Not only is this a great signing but this provides a solid Number 2 Starting Pitcher that the Dodgers been looking for since Chad Billingsley was consistent. An Ace behind Kershaw is just what this pitching staff needed. Pending on the physical Zack Greinke will be the highest paid Right Hand Pitcher in MLB History which is pretty amazing looking at the deal but the Dodgers had a lot of money to spend and was willing to pay big for Greinke.
Zack Greinke will come from the O.C. to Hollywood as many expected and that will be huge but the Dodgers will not stop there. With about an hour left the Dodgers are working on signing the Left Hand Pitcher from Korea Ryu. If L.A. can’t get a deal done with Ryu then look for them to go after either Anibal Sanchez or Kyle Lohse who are both solid Starting pitchers. Don’t forget that Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang are both on the trading block as well so the Dodgers are working to put the team together to win a Championship this year. It’s a great time to be a Los Angeles Dodger and Dodger fan!
One of the most exciting times in the MLB baseball season is coming up this weekend. That’s right Interleague play kicks off for your Los Angeles Dodgers and from the looks it’ll be a good test for the team with MLB’s best record. The Dodgers this year will get the usual White Sox series and how can you forget the Freeway Series but this year the Dodgers will get two teams from the AL west in the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners. Last time the Dodgers played Seattle was in 2009 when Ken Griffey JR was still playing.the Dodgers will travel to Seattle and Oakland this year and this will be a test for the Dodgersntaking on teams in their stadium under the DH rule. The Dodger are a MLB best 37-21 but Seattle and Oakland both beat Texas in a series as Of late while Seattle just beat the Angels. Either way it’ll be a good Series and interesting to see the Dodgers in two of those cities.
While the Dodgers prepare for Interleague series they managed to do something that hasn’t been done in 66 years. Sweep The Philidelphia Phillies. Yesterday Afternoon the Dodgers came from a 3-0 Deficit to complete the sweep of the Phillies beating them 8-3. While we know the Phillies have had some injury problems themselves beating Cole Hamles and Cliff Lee in Philly is something. Elian Herrera came through in two games with clutch hits to take the lead and bring the Dodgers win. The Dodgers historically has had issues in Philly but this year things are different. With the sweep momentum has to be on Los Angeles’s side.
Monday is the Start of the Long Awaited Freeway Series between the Dodgers and Angels. Great give-a-ways with the Mike Scioscia Bobblehead and Jamie Jarrin T-Shirt on Monday. This Sunday there will be a Live Radio/Podcast Think Blue Weekly on Blog Talk Radio and Special guest will be Kristen who is an Angels Blogger (This is a very simple game). This Freeway series preview will consist of Talk about the Angels/Dodgers as well as predictions and fans questions. Make sure you check it out on Sunday at 8PM Pacific time on the Link Below.
Think Blue and Go Dodgers!
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Think Blue Weekly Twitter: @ThinkBlueWeekly
Your Los Angeles Dodgers are 29-13 which is a MLB Best, 1st Place in the NL West, Playing really good baseball with Matt Kemp, Jerry Hariston, Juan Rivera, Mark Ellis, and Juan Uribe. The Dodgers are getting all types of production from everyone this season at this point. The Dodgers even Swept the Defending World Series Champion St Louis Cardinals with a dangerous line up. Yet the Dodgers still have not received any National media attention. It seems like no matter what obstacles the Dodgers over come it gets little to no notice. Why is that? It’s beyond me but whatever it is I don’t like it but at the same time I do. Last year the Dodgers were in the headlines for all of the wrong reasons. Bankruptcy, Frank McCourt Draining the franchise, Losing, Brain Stow beatings. It seems like the Dodgers and it’s fan base couldn’t get a break. Come winter meetings the Dodgers only big move was Extending Matt Kemps contract while another team in Anaheim was making big moves signing Abert Pujols and CJ Wilson. Came the start of the Season Dodgers had new Owners in Magic Johnson, Stan Kasten, and Mark Walter and great display of baseball but national recognition hasn’t been all that.
Sometimes not having that National spotlight on you isn’t always a bad thing if you think of it. Right now the Dodgers have the best record in the MLB but is also staying quiet. As you see teams with the most pressure are usually teams like the Yankees, Red Soxs, or even now the Rangers where if one minor thing can become big news for you. The Dodgers having a big media spotlight just adds pressure to them to win. With the Starting Pitching playing well, Bullpen getting it together, and Everyone stepping up for the Dodgers it seems like things are going pretty well. So not having that national exposure isn’t always a bad thing when it comes to the play on the field. Just as good as it is to fly under the radar comes that respect.
As of now the Dodgers may have the top spot on a lot of Power Rankings but there’s others who talk more about other teams more than the Dodgers. How is it that Collin Cowheard can go on his show as with a straight face say the Cardinals are the best team in the MLB. The Dodgers swept the Cardinals in a competitive series but a Sweep is a Sweep. I’ve also heard many say the Texas Rangers are the best team which you can argue but comes this argument on why the Dodgers don’t get that recognition is the Schedule. Dodgers have played teams like San Deigo, Pittsburgh, Houston, Cubs, Rockies. Well let me kill the arguement that it’s hard to beat teams the way the Dodgers do in Baseball regardless of the teams and not to mention the Dodgers have hung around in games vs Atlanta and was robbed in two straight games vs Milwalkee. Not only that but Swept the Washington nationals and St Louis Cardinals as well as come back from a 6-1 defecit on the Road against Arizona to continue a 6 game winning streak without Matt Kemp. Want to talk about other stuff? the Bullpen is getting better and the Starting Pitching staff like Chris Capuano, Ted Lilly, Clayton Kershaw (Defending Cy Young Award winner), and at times Chad Billingsley playing very very well. So the Dodgers should have that notice from the media that the Dodgers are something special. Now its not how you start but how you finish and the Dodgers have to keep this good play up once June July and September October hit.
As long as the Dodgers keep winning then all is well but most Dodger fans have to be some what frustrated that they’re being OVERLOOKED by the national baseball media. Does it bother me? Some what but the Dodgers are 30-13. As long as they complete the season in October with a World Series back in Los Angeles then Im fine and happy. Dodgers playing great baseball and I love it how they’re doing it!!
Through Months is seems as if the Rivalry between the Dodgers and Angels has started to heat up. Since the addition of Albert Puljos and CJ Wilson most of the Positive attention has been shifted to Anaheim. Things then started to get a little turned up with Angel billboards posted in Los Angeles also being the media mentioning the Angels as Los Angeles team. Even some Angels fans saying We Run LA. The Minority that I’ve seen Not ALL Angels fans see it this way. As a Dodger fan I kind of took it as a Jab to the face. With the emberassment we’ve taken with the McCourt issue and Bankruptcy issue we now deal with the team down the freeway in Orange County making big signings, Posting billboards in Los Angeles, and the Media asking will the Angels take over. Even Some fans on twitter claiming that Dodger fans will now go to Anaheim just to see the Angels play now. What has happened? Whos to blame here? Well let me explain in my view.
Let me first go on to say this is Not bashing the Angels or anything because I want this to be a Non Trash talk post and I wanted to stay away from the topic but had alot to say of if Any Angels fans read this is not a jab toward your team and congrats on your team.
Now I the Angels as you know have went under different names. California Angels, Anaheim Angels, Now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I have a BIG ISSUE with the Angels using the Los Angeles name due to Location but at the sametime Understand why the name is there and thats to take advantage of the marketing in Los Angeles. I can’t blame the Angels Franchise because they’re trying to sell their team to people (Tickets, Merchindise,TV Ratings, Radio, etc) but in Los Angeles? Well this isn’t the first time it has been done in the city of L.A. as I call it Dodger Territory. Anyone Remember when the Angels put billboards up in Los Angeles I believe in 2004? Still the same unhappiness but didn’t understand the sports business like I do now. When I see them now yes I don’t like it at all because it’s the Angels in Los Angeles when they’re obviously in Anaheim..Orange County. It doesn’t stop with Billboards…The Sports Media like ESPN asks the question. “Has the Angels become Los Angeles team?” Some people play into the Media hype and that I can blame the media for that but the attention is offically there. Los Angeles and two baseball teams..That makes the Blood boils big time especially in Many Dodgers fans and I know Angels fans as well.
So what is this? To me the Freeway series not only within the Field and fans but has now spilled towards the Marketing side of things. Angels post up Billboards in Los Angeles. Dodger Commercials on KCAL 9, Fox Sports Prime Ticket, and Now Dodger Billboards going up. I don’t think the two Franchises are worried about each other because they’re selling their team as I mentioned but in a way they’re luring fans from the LA area (Dodgers being in LA is a bigger advantage with them being the LA Dodgers) As I looked at the Angels billboards (A lot of em that i’ve seen in Los Angeles) I wondered “When will the Dodgers put up Billboards?” “Why aren’t there any Dodger billboards up” With Albert Puljos on them the Dodger have the best player in baseball in Matt Kemp..Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw, 50th Anniversary of Dodger Stadium, Legends and yet none of it being taken advatage of. Marketing is Marketing but too much Momentium with in the Dodgers Organization with Matt Kemp, Kershaw, Great ending to the season, and the Stadium Anniversary.
I know with all that went on in the Off-Season between the Signings, Marketing, Fan Trashtalk, and so on the Freeway Series this year should be an Interesting one on the Field of play. The Angels with a Pretty good team and the Dodgers who look Very Solid right now. They may not be in our Division let alone our League but bragging rights are there. In the Words of Matt Kemp and Don Mattingley Los Angeles only has ONE Baseball team and that Team is the Los Angeles Dodgers (Get That ESPN?)