Results tagged ‘ NL West ’
Well we are at the end of the regular season which means it’s time for another edition of I-5 Bias. For those are are new to this allow for me to explain. Kristen , who runs a great blog called This Is A Very Simple Game and a huge Angels fan, and myself will answer 7 questions about the Dodgers, Angels, and other Baseball related issues. Out here we don’t call it westcoast bias but its I-5 Bias!
The Dodgers and the Angels both had abysmal starts to their seasons. But by the end of June, the Dodgers started to turn things completely around. What are your thoughts on the Dodgers comeback/why do you think they were able to turn their season around?
Matt says: It’s amazing to think about what the Dodgers did. At the begining a lot of things were going completely wrong. Injuries, Leaving runners on base, Errors, Mismanagement, I mean whatever you thought of it happened with the Dodgers. When they went on that run It was unbelieveable run and took first place, There was a feeling that this team could do something special. How they were able to turn it around? Honestly there was a number of things. Everyone started to trust one another, In an Interview before the Blue Jays Series Adrian Gonzalez and AJ Ellis said that everyone on that team started to trust each other. Taking a few pitches and not over do things knowing the next guy behing them. Anotheher was the pitching started to get better. If you look at the Dodgers Statisiticly pitching it started with their top two starting pitchers in Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. In the 2nd half both are a world better with low ERA’s and great win-loss records so there was no doubt that they would get it together. The rest of the staff on the other hand really went on to shock me. Ricky Nolasco was really getting it together, Hyun Jin Ryu continued his success, and the Bullpen as a whole managed to get better and the addition of Brian Wilson made it better as well. Let’s also not forget about Yasiel Puig! I think he was the huge spark that the Dodgers needed with his play.
Kristen says: I think it was as close to a perfect storm of good as a team can get – things started clicking for the Dodgers when Yasiel Puig debuted right as key players started coming off the DL. This is, perhaps, an oversimplified explanation for a pretty epic comeback, but that’s all I’ve got and, really, it’s no worse than Vin’s Magic Castle explanation.
And what are your thoughts on the Angels continually frustrating season/why do you think they weren’t able to turn their season around?
Kristen says: Frustrating doesn’t even begin to cover it. Trust me, I watched something like 145 of 162. Seriously. There are a lot of things that went wrong – injuries, veterans failing to perform, an on again/off again offense – but I think that the worst thing, the truly irreparable nail in the coffin, was pitching. This is a team that had relied on stellar pitching for the last string of seasons and they went into 2013 without a true starting rotation and no improvements to speak of in a shaky bullpen. Then injuries and aging arms made the pitching situation even worse and the powers that be failed to make any moves that constituted so much as a legitimate patch before the trade deadline – not that they really had a lot of funds to make such a thing possible by that point in the season.
Matt says: The Angels were a team I thought would also get it together in the 2nd half of the season. They had the offensive fire power, Pujols, Trout, and Kendrick was doing their thing, Josh Hamilton was starting to come around but ultimately the Angels couldn’t get it done. You had the injury to Albert that put himout for the rest of the season and inconsistant play it just wasn’t good all around. I think what hurt the Angels was the inconsistant ball play. The inability to really put something together to make a run hurt them. In the AL West you can’t afford to lose series against the A’s and Rangers and expect to make up ground. Droping games against Seattle and Houston didn’t help at all either. I believe the Angels needed to get it together consistantly and didn’t.
With postseason baseball coming for the Dodgers what is their biggest strength and weakness? How far do you think they can go?
Matt says: Their biggest strength will be pitching. I always preach that pitching will win you championships. Look at the Giants in 2010-2012 and look at the Phillies 2008-2009. Both had a great pitching staff that lifted them to World Series appaerances/Championships. That’s what the Dodgers needed and they tackled it well the Dodgers pitching staff is getting it done at the right time and when it’s really needed. Kershaw and Greinke in game one and two is scary enough and the bullpen has been lights out. As far as their weakness I do believe it’s their health. Dodgers for some reason have this issue with staying healthy and that tend to hurt them a lot. Right now L.A. have Matt Kemp out for the season with a ankle injury and the status of Andre Ethier is really up in the air right now. This team must stay healthy in order to really make an impact. I do believe the Dodgers can go far. It’s going to be difficult because they have a lot of good teams to pan up against and will be on the road. I think the Dodgers can make it to the World Series due to their pitching and talent.
Kristen says: I think pitching is the Dodgers biggest strength and an on again, off again offense is potentially their biggest liability. They sure aren’t hitting right now but even the last few games leading up to the postseason aren’t always an indication of play come October. If the Dodgers start hitting again, they could go pretty far.
What, if anything, do you think the season fallout will be in the Angels organization? Is there anything this team can do to get back on track for 2014?
Kristen says: I feel like Sadusky in National Treasure, “Someone’s got to go to prison, Ben.” I don’t know or even really want to predict who is going to leave but it’s certain that someone, and probably several someones, will. There are rumors flying far and wide about Jerry Dipoto and Mike Scioscia. On the one hand, if you take injuries out of the equation, Jerry Dipoto is responsible for the pitching situation – he dismantled the old starting rotation to build this one. One the other hand, Scioscia has managed four teams that failed to make the post season in a row, two of them with losing records…and don’t think we haven’t noticed that this is the first season Arte Moreno has failed to respond to questions over Sosh’s future with with instant unwavering support. So is it one or both of these guys or will it be a massive player shift? Or, D, some of all of the above? Personally, I’d like the fallout to be enough player movement to get an actual starting rotation going into 2014 without throwing all babies out with the bathwater to accomplish it. But I learned a long time again that I don’t think like a team owner, especially not this team owner, so I doubt it will be that.
Matt says: I don’t think much will happen in the Angels Organization really but ig I had to pick I do believe the Angels will let go Jerry Dipoto. He has made splash signings with Albert Puljos, CJ Wilson, and Josh Hamilton but really nothing much has come out of it. He also failed to get the Angels true help which was to upgrade the pitching staff. I do believe that there is something that this team can do to turn it around in 2014 and that’s to get pitching help. They have the offensive firepower and enough of it but now is the time to really lock down on pitching if they want to make an impact in the AL West.
After winning the NL West the Dodgers came out of their clubhouse and celebrated in the Diamondbacks pool in the outfield. This was controversial and commentators have expressed differing opinions on the matter. What is your take on the celebration?
Matt says: Well I maybe in the majority that actaully don’t have an issue with this. I honestly think the Diamondbacks and media are making a huge deal out of it than we are or the Dodgers. If anything it started with them saying that the Dodgers couldn’t comeback out to celebrate which puzzles me. It was all done when everyone was out of the stadium and Los Angeles didn’t mean any harm over it at all. I understand the sportsmanship and classiness of celebrating but lets not forget when the Dbacks clinched they went swiming in their pool in 2011. It’s really no issue at all really and I think it’s bigger deal to Arizona than anyone else.
Kristen says: On the one hand, I think the DBacks telling the Dodgers not to come back out of the Clubhouse to celebrate on their field was out of line and contrary to baseball tradition. So, if the Dodgers had just come out of the Clubhouse and celebrated on the field, I wouldn’t have any objections. But come on Dodgers, you can’t tell me that a large part of your motivation to celebrate specifically by jumping in the DBacks’ pool wasn’t sticking it to a division rival with whom you have bad blood and have brawled this season, knowing that such an action would really piss them off. While that is certainly an understandable, human motivation it isn’t exactly a classy one. So, do I think the Dodgers are evil? No. But they sure aren’t winning any kudos for sportsmanship this season. Of course, did they actually set out to? Probably not.
So, baseball fan boys and girls, what does the 2013 season have to teach us about pre-season media hype?
Kristen says: Well, both the Dodgers and the Angels were heavily hyped to go all the way. The Angels…yeah, ‘nuff said. *sigh* While the Dodgers have made it to the post season in style for sure…but with significant help from guys who weren’t even on the team when the predictions were made. Look, an MLB season is too long and complicated to ever listen to the preseason predictions with anything more than the kind of interest a diehard baseball fan shows any MLB news when there are no live games on yet and a ‘that’s nice’.
Matt says: I think it taught us something very valuable. Baseball isn’t played on paper. If you were to tell me the Giants, Angels, Nationals and Blue Jays wouldn’t even come close to playoff contention then I would think you’re crazy. This season basically showed us a lot when it comes to pre-season media hype. The Dodgers and Angels got off to bad starts but the Dodgers managed to get it together in the second half of the season and the Angels struggled which was disapointing to see. I think we will all be more careful when we take a look at things in the pre-season but this was another example of how anything can happen in baseball.
Get to Know Your Bloggers Bonus Question: Do you have any favorite memories and moments from the MLB Postseason?
Matt says: Well I do have a few memories and moments from the MLB Postseason. The Dodgers sweeping the Cardnials in 2009 is one that sticksout because St Louis was a heavy favorite and it really shocked a lot of us when the Dodgers swept them out of the playoffs. Another was the Cardinals/Rangers World Series. It was sad to see Texas lose it when they had two chances at winning it but amazing to see the Cards win it thanks to David Freese heroics but I think my favorite has to be the Red Sox and Yankees 2004 Series where the Yankees were up 3-0 in the series and was bound to win the series only for the Sox to pulloff an amazing comeback to win the ALCS which was crazy to see. I hope to see some this postseason as well that we can talk about for years to come.
Kristen says: You all know what I’m going to say here, right? ‘Erstad says he’s got it. Erstad makes the catch!’…except, favorite memory though that was, I wasn’t strictly back to being a baseball fan in 2002. I was a bitter, bitter lady over the strike, and I’d been raised a Dodgers fan, after all. No, I wouldn’t come back to baseball until I fell head over heels in love with the Angels about three seasons after the 2002 series. Sad, but true. But I do remember when they won. My grandfather was a lifelong Angels fan going back to the Minor League PCL days, but he passed away in 1990 and missed the team’s truly good years. It’s maudlin, but I remember catching the end of game 7 on TV and wishing that somehow he knew, as you do.
Now, with my odd mixed fan base baseball background, I also have vivid warm fuzzies over 1988, and that first Saturday game, building the Lego castle of the weekend all along the den floor with my sister while we watched the World Series. Memories of Vin Scully’s, ‘And look who’s coming up…’ and just knowing who I was going to see when I put down the Legos and looked up at the screen, because Kirk Gibson was my hero, so of course he would come in at just the right moment to win the game like it was some sort of fairy tale.
Ah childhood! But I guess that’s part of why I really get into doing this whole I-5 Bias thing, even when my team blows so many goats for the season that they actually made me momentarily happy the regular season has ended. Oh well, here’s looking forward to 2014 and hopefully less drama and more editions of I-5 Bias where I get to brag about my guys. Cheers!
It’s been 4 years since the Dodgers last made their postseason appearance. In 2009 the Dodgers were once again the NL West Champions, One of the favorites to win the whole thing. Dodgers started the 09 playoffs against Cardinals in the NL Divisional Series. Dodgers managed to sweep St Louis 3-0 to advance to the NL Championship Series where they ran into the Philadelphia Phillies, The same Phillies team that knocked them out of the playoffs and went on to defeat Tampa Bay to win the World Series. The hope around Dodgertown was to beat the Phillies and advance to the World Series. Dodgers couldn’t pull it off as the Phillies eliminated the Dodgers in 5 games in the NLCS. Ever since then things has been a roller coaster for the Dodgers. Now 4 years later the Dodgers find themselves back in the MLB Postseason and as Division champs. I have to say that this season was a crazy one. Who would’ve thought that the Dodgers would come from last place where they were 9.5 games out and left for done to NL West Division Champs? Who would’ve thought that the Dodgers would go on an amazing run from July 22nd to now and catch the baseball world’s attention? If you predicted all of that then please make sure you go to Vegas. The fans of this team should be happy and excited for this moment coming. The day after the Dodgers clinched playoff tickets went on sale instantly sold out minutes after. The excitement is running high in Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Dodgers organization from the front office to the players have overcome a lot and worked day and night to put a contending team. If anything I do believe the credit goes to Mr. Stan Kasten as he has done a lot to help this team and franchise. A team that was bankrupted, depleted in the farm system, and missing talent that would’ve taken a while to fix Kasten done in 2 years. Now just cause I’m putting this out here doesn’t mean I think their job is done but lets take the time to look at what Mr Kasten along with ownership and Ned Colleti has done with this team. Another thing I pointed out earlier was the excitement for the playoffs by Dodger fans. Playoffs tickets selling like crazy and fans scrambling for tickets, more gear, anything to prepare them for the postseason. You can sense the feeling that the Dodger fans can feel that this could be the year the Dodgers do something special and win the World Series, Something that hasn’t been done since 1988.
The job isn’t done as this is only the beginning. the Dodgers are healthy and playing good ball at the right time. Now that the Dodgers clinched they can get core guys healthy and keep them fresh while certain players audition for a spot on the playoff roster. Fans are excited and postseason is around the corner. Prepare yourself for…..
So many things have been going on for the Boys and Blue. After yesterday’s series finally with the Marlins, The Dodgers find themselves in 1st place of the NL West by 9.5 games ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The boys are playing good Baseball but there’s no time to let up on teams. Lets go ahead and look at what’s going on with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Vin Scully To Return In 2014
That’s right you heard it. The legendary Vin Scully has announced that he will be coming back for another season. Whenever Vin ponders his future in broadcasting for the Dodgers first thing that plays a factor is his health. I think if Vin feels he can do it and if his wife is okay with it then Vin gladly takes it. Either way me along with many Dodger fans are very happy to hear that he is returning. For all of our lives We have been blessed with having Vin Scully broadcast games for us. From telling us things about the players/managers that we never knew to telling us his interesting story it’s always been a treat to hear Vin. Without a doubt the greatest to do it and in 2014 Vin will do it Again.
Brian Wilson Dodger debut
Yesterday we saw the debut of the beard in Dodger blue. While it was indeed a very VERY weird site to see for many of us it was indeed exciting. Wilson came in and got made a very successful save for the Dodgers which impressed a lot. While Wilson won’t be the closer for the Dodgers (That role belongs to Kenley Janson) he does bring much needed depth and help to the bullpen that could be critical to the Dodgers. I do believe he will do well here and contribute. Los Angeles the Beard is here!
Red Sox come to town
Who would’ve thought that the Dodgers and Red Sox would be a potential World Series preview? This weekend two Baseball powers clash in Los Angeles for interleague play. For the Dodgers the Red Soxs will be the last AL team they face this season. The Soxs come in like the Dodgers playing great baseball and find themselves in first place in the AL East. This is the 1st time since 2002 that Boston will be in Los Angeles to face the Dodgers. Last time the Dodgers and Red Soxs met was in Boston in 2010 (Red Soxs won the series). This will be another huge test for the Dodgers and the whole nation will see if the Dodgers can continue there hot play against the Red Soxs.
Ok so what has gotten into the Dodgers? Morning of June 22nd this team was 12 games under .500 and 9.5 games back of 1st place in the NL West. Many of the media and fans wrote the team off and even said that they should be come sellers when the deadline comes. Well from then on the Dodgers managed to go on a hot streak surging them past the Giants, Padres, Rockies, AND Diamondbacks. The last two series after the break shown something that has fans really excited. In the 2nd game of the Nationals series and the 2nd and 3rd game of the Blue Jays series the Dodgers trailed late in the game but rallied back to win. Something that we haven’t seen much of from this Dodger team this season. So the question remains….What has gotten into the Dodgers?!
Well if you ask me I think it’s a few things. One they’ve finally gotten healthy. Through the 1st half of the season the Dodgers have been banged up and missed players when they needed them the most. If you remember this was the same thing that hurt the Dodgers last season. Another thing you have to throw in there is the fact that guys are finally producing. Early in the season the Dodgers had a low Average with RISP and the Bullpen ERA was as high as a kite. If you listened to what Adrian Gonzalez said before yesterday’s game in Toronto the guys are finally feeling the pressure fall off. They can take a few pitches, get walked, and do their part to help the batter behind them and have the confidence that they will cash in. Everyone is doing their job to help the team out and that’s what’s we’ve wanted out of them. Let’s also not forget that the Dodgers have gotten some help from the Giants and Padres cooling off.
This team is playing up to their potential and even in late games they’re finding ways to pull through and come away with wins. Dodgers don’t have to win EVERY game but just keep taking series and hold off Division rivals. If they can do that they’ll take the NL West and play onto October. The Dodgers are on fire right now and on top of the NL West. Lets hope they can keep this up.
In a season full of expectations and a new era of Dodger baseball there has been a lot of umm Drama around the Los Angeles Dodgers. If you looked at the roster you’d think this team would be in first place in the NL West by the All-Star break right? Right now as of today the Dodgers find themselves 2.5 Games out of first place which is being held by the Arizona Diamondbacks and are 4.5 Games back of the Wild Card. They also have a record of 47-47. So you might be wondering what on earth happened? Let me answer your question with this: A LOT! The start of the 2013 Season seemed very promising after opening day but from then on things kind’ve sent south. Losing games due to lack of offensive and defensive production, Bullpen issues, Mismanagement of the team, and Injuries were the main issues that hurt the Dodgers in the first half of the season. It seemed like an ever lasting nightmare from April to Mid June. It got to the point where the Dodgers found themselves below .500 and 9.5 games out of 1st place in the NL West. Come Late June things took a turn for the better. Lets break down the 1st half of the Dodgers 2013 season.
Injuries: Dodgers kept getting hit with Injuries left and right. From the begining of the season and on the Dodgers have struggled to keep healthy and that has hurt the Dodgers from producing. Think of it like this, Pretty much majority of the Dodgers roster has been on the DL at some point. Hanley, Kemp, Crawford, Aj Ellis, Scott Van Slyke. The group that took the hardest hit when it comes to injuries has to be Pitching. At the start of the season the Dodgers had Starting Pitchers like there was no tomorrow but with injuries that number quickly fell. Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett will miss the season which hurt the 4 and 5 pitching spot before the Nolasco trade, Zack Greinke broke his collar-bone in the bench clearing fight with Carlos Quentin and the San Diego Padres, and Fife/Capuano missing time as well. Last season the Dodgers injuries cost them and this season it has hurt them at the start.
Lack of production and bad play: Outside of injuries the lack of production was another thing that killed the Dodgers. Whenever there were runners in scoring position it seems as if the Dodgers failed capitalize on the chance given. Yes we all understand about the injuries and pitching but there’s no excuse for the Dodgers not getting runs when the chance is there. Leaving men on base, below average with RISP, It just doesn’t add up with a Line up like this. This season Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier who are usually key factors have really under produced and many Dodger fans aren’t happy about it. Lack of bench production hasn’t been all that great either and defensively the team just hard to watch. Overall it was just bad baseball.
Pitching issues and Bullpen Problems: Where can I start? Well lets put this out there the 1-2-3 Starting pitching slot was not an issue at all. We kind’ve got that but when it comes to the 4-5 spot and bullpen….thats a different story. The Dodgers came into the season with a loaded starting pitching staff and a bullpen that was one of the best in the NL last season. As the season went it was the complete opposite of that. Chad Billingsley went down to an ongoing arm injury that required Tommy John Surgery, Josh Beckett was winless during the season after he had an amazing Spring Training. A nerve injury forced him to have surgery and miss the season as well. As for Ted Lilly? He continues to struggle with injuries and had multiple rehab stints and continues to have a set back. Steven Fife tends to have solid outings and has potental but Chris Capuano has been very inconsistent and has given up a lot of hits in his outings. The bullpen on the other hand as really been an issue for the most part of the season. Josh Wall who is no longer with the team has really not helped and struggled before being sent down and later traded in the Ricky Nolasco deal. Ronald Belisario has hurt the Dodgers and come in only to give up hits and runs. His ERA has sky rocketed as the season went but seems to get the hang of things towards the break. Brandon League on the other hand as took a complete turn south. After closing games last season and showing that he can be a solid reliever League has blown saves left and right. Many of us kept wondering why Mattingly sending him out to close games but finally he got it together and had Jansen as closer. Jansen out of the two is a no brainer right there to have as closer. The Dodgers also brought up guys like Chris Withrow and Jose Dominguez who can really throw the ball in the high 90′s. Paco Rodriguez and JP Howell also have had solid outings and can also get the team out of innings as well so things won’t be all doom and gloom for the pen from the looks of it. As far as Starting pitching? The Ricky Nolasco deal solidified their Number 4 starting pitching but still the 5 spot is the big question mark.
Puigmania- Something uplifting here that really took Los Angeles and the Baseball world by storm. Yasiel Puig. They hype started up when he played in rookie leagues and Single A but it was Spring Training where many started to hop on the bandwagon after posting impressive numbers but due to the lack of room for him on the 25 man roster Puig, As expected my many scouts, was sent to Double A Chattanooga for more development. Once the injuries hit the Dodgers Yasiel Puig was called up to the Dodgers and from there everything played itself out. Puig lived up to the hype he generated batting above .400 while playing and exciting fans around baseball. Before All-Star Break he had many write his name in on the All-Star ballot and came in 2nd in the Last Chance vote. Yeah he didn’t make the All-Star game but his presence provided a spark for the Dodgers that helped them make up ground in the NL West.
From 9.5 to 2.5: By June 21st the Dodgers found themselves 9.5 games back of the NL West and pretty much left for dead by many but when June 22nd hit things changed. The Dodgers would go on and hit a streak that would really shape up the NL West for them. Winning 17-22 Games from June 22nd to July 14th. The Dodgers ended up gaining ground on the Padres, Giants, and Rockies in that stretch of games. Now that Los Angeles find themselves in a great position come All-Star break it’ll be interesting to see what they can do in the 2nd half of the season.
For many Southern California natives its a dream to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Only few get the chance to do so. Come tomorrow one of them will get that chance to live their dream. Saturday the Dodgers and Marlins completed a trade that sent RHP Ricky Nolasco to Los Angeles for 3 Prospects in Steven Ames, Angel Sanchez, and Josh Wall. The Marlins has Nolasco on the trade block since early June and it was rumored that the Dodgers, Giants, and Padres were one of the many teams that were interested in trading for him. For Nolasco this is a dream come true to play for the team he grew up cheering for and watching.
For the Dodgers this was a no brainer to make the trade for Nolasco and the price wasn’t steep at all. Los Angeles has lost numerous Starting Pitchers to injury and is struggling with the 4-5 rotation of starting pitching. Nolasco right now is currently pitching 5-8 with a 3.85 but as shown before a change of scenery can really change things (Hanley was batting .247 with Miami before being traded to L.A.). This Tuesday Ricky Nolasco will make his Dodger debut in the middle of the Dodgers hot streak.
Nolasco’s dream has came true and now it’s time for him to step up and help this Dodger team continue it’s push for the NL West. We all know this isn’t the last move the Dodgers will make to improve the team but this could be the start of the Dodgers getting really active in the market like last season. For now Ricky Nolasco will have the chance to help this Dodger team and fill a void that was left by injuries. Ricky Nolasco Welcome to the Dodgers
Two teams with storied history clash in Interleague play. It’s been 3 years since the Dodgers and Yankees played (2010 Series at Dodger Stadium). This is the first time the Dodgers will make a regular season visit to Yankee Stadium (New and Old Yankee Stadium that is) and the Dodgers first visit to the Bronx since the 1981 World Series. While many baseball fans are excited for this the expectations aren’t as high as we all thought they would be. The Dodgers are in last place in the NL West and both teams have been hit by injuries but regardless it’ll still be an interesting series in what will be the start of a Home and home 2 game each series.
Now when you at the current Yankees and Dodgers roster there’s very few connections between the two teams. We all know Don Mattingly is one of the Yankee greats but many also have to remember he was a coach under Joe Torre when they were both with the Yankees. Current players like Jerry Harriston Jr was a member of the Yankees 2009 World Series Championship team. Hiroki Kuroda, who is having another solid season with the Yankees, Was the Dodgers starting pitcher from 2008 to 2011. We all know Mattingly will get a good reaction from a lot of the Yankee fans in the Bronx. This game is also lacking the “Star Power” as many say with injuries to both teams BUT to many it’s Dodgers/Yankees so hey.
As far as the game goes this will be an important series for both teams. For the Dodgers this series along with the Padres series will determine a lot for the Dodgers and their NL West fate and for the Yankees they can move closer in the AL East standings. It’s June so games really do matter here. If the Dodgers want to pull of the win then they’ll need a good showing from their bats with runners in scoring position (RISP). Too many times in games where the Dodgers get guys on base and then their bats go completely missing. Also the Bullpen will need to not add fuel to the fire. That’s basically all I have to say on the Bullpen as I have nothing nice to say about them. The sense of urgency have to come here and be ready for a ball game. While playing at Yankee Stadium is an amazing thing along with being in New York City, They can’t afford to be in awe in the Stadium. You have to come ready to play baseball.
This is going to be a great series in my view. The Dodgers and Yankees twitter account already went back and forth with each other and many Dodger faithful made the trip to the Bronx. It will be a good series in New York. When the Yankees come to Los Angeles in July you can expect a good anticipation and hopefully some key players healthy as well. As for now just sit back and enjoy the Dodgers vs Yankees.
Well folks we are here! The annual Freeway Series between the Dodgers and Angels. Two teams down the I-5 from each other clashing in what is now a 4 game home and home series. 2 in LA and 2 in Anaheim. If you are unfamiliar with how I-5 Bias works allow me to walk you through. A good Friend to the Blog Kristen, who is a huge Angels fan and runs a great blog called This Is A Very Simple Game (http://blithescribe.mlblogs.com/), and I go through a set of questions talking about Dodger/Angel baseball. Without further or due we bring you I-5 Bias!!
1) So, the 2013 Dodgers and Angels. Hmmm…how can I put this delicately? What the hell happened??
Matt: Well with the Dodgers I am still trying to figure out what is going on. This season hasn’t been the start we all expected for them. To be fair Injuries has hit the Dodgers pretty good but that’s no excuse. Between issues with batting with RISP, Bullpen meltdowns, and mismanagement in games the Dodgers have found themselves in a good hole.
Kristen Says: While I love SABR and all of the increased attention even the average fan pays to statistics and analysis these days, the drawback is that no one is satisfied until they have a specific, detailed answer to performance questions these days and, I’m sorry, but sometimes that just isn’t possible. I mean, if there were a specific, detailed answer to the question of the Angels slower than molasses in a blizzard start to the season, don’t you think the problem would have been quickly solvable? In a nutshell, I think this was a perfect storm for the Angels. Heading into the season, player transactions were very tightly concentrated on beefing up the offense, and very much at the expense of the quality of the Angels starting rotation while virtually ignoring the bullpen. I was already queasy over the idea of assuming the offense would always pick up the pitching and then Murphy’s Law struck with a vengeance with a series of injuries taking out the only ace in the Angels pitching staff, turning the starting rotation and bullpen into personnel revolving doors, removing key set up pieces from the lineup and hampering the starts of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton – severely, in the case of Pujols. Does that fully explain the Angels start? Perhaps not for everyone, but when you throw in the added pressure of not living up to sky high expectations as each new calamity occurred, it explains things for me…not that I’ve been obsessing over this since Opening Day or anything…*whistles innocently*
2) Be honest. Do you think the Dodgers/Angels’ issues are fixable? How fixable? And what would it take at this point for you as a fan to call the season a success?
Matt: Yes I do believe it is but that’s up to the Manager. Switch up the line up to where it’s more effective to get runs, Make better bullpen decisions and not put the same guys who keep blowing the game in. As far as what will make this season successful? Winning and getting back to the Playoffs is what will save this season. At the start all the expectations were going to be on but missing the playoffs after spending on the Starting Pitching and making changes will be a disapointment. They have to get it in gear ASAP.
Kristen says: Well, don’t look now but the Angels offense is back online, the pitchers are performing well enough and then some, and the guys have quite a nice little winning streak going on heading into the Freeway Series. And the cherry on top? Ace Jered Weaver is coming off the DL and scheduled to pitch on Wednesday…the game I have tickets for. Score! If this level of play continues, then I will count the Angels season a success, no matter what the standings say at the end. It’s not that I don’t care about making the playoffs, I very much do. And I’m not counting the Angels out at all. If they keep playing like this, anything is possible especially with two wild card opportunities. No, I’m just acknowledging the fact that when a team digs themselves this deep of a hole to start the season, they are no longer fully in control of their own destiny – final standings are as much a matter of the other teams having off days as your team having good ones, something that we as baseball fans know you can hope for all you want but never, ever count on.
3) There have been talk/rumors of Don Mattingly and Mike Scioscia possibly getting fired. Do you believe it’s time for them to go or should they even take blame?
Matt: I’m going to be straight up with Mattingly. From the looks of this he isn’t the right fit for the Dodgers. He has mismanaged games on his part and at times shows lack of fire but as of late he is starting to pick up that fire and take action. Benching Ethier and Kemp as well as calling out the team is a start right there. Now should he take blame. Yes but not ALL of it. Blame has to go around to everyone on their part. Mattingly has messed up on his part and it’s going to cost him his job at some point.
Kristen says: Nope. Never. You will not see me calling for Sosh’s head over this. Not going to happen. I may cringe over his bullpen management from time to time…er…all the time and yes, there have been and will always be instances of mismanagement. But I really think that as fans we have a tendency to point to the handful of mismanaged plays and ignore the rest of the game. Besides, injuries aren’t the manager’s fault. Personnel changes are not the manager’s fault. And somehow, despite all of the setbacks, the Angels are climbing back into this race and I think that that speaks volumes for the players’ grit, of course, but also for Sosh’s ability to keep them together even through the rough times.
4) One more uncomfortable question: What do you think about emergency/closed door team meetings — players only or otherwise? Are they ever effective or do they just feed the drama?
Matt: You know about those meetings I actually really like them. You have time to really air out whatever issues their are and talk about what you have to do as a team to get it going in the right direction. The Media will always make it more than what it needs to be but they are an effective way to talk as a team to get things going in a positive spin.
Kristen says: I think that, like any other tool, closed door meetings can be useful at times, useless at others and downright detrimental at others. I think a team meeting certainly can turn things around and, when such things become necessary, I do love it when the players show enough passion, initiative and team spirit to take ownership and have their own meeting. Here’s the thing though. Back in the day, fans would never hear about a closed door meeting or certainly not about every closed door meeting. Now we hear about every single one, often as they’re happening. Frequently we even hear what was said at the meetings – pretty contrary to the point of ‘closed door’ don’t you think? This is the part I don’t think it healthy. It adds to the drama and it also leads to the tail wagging the dog. When things start to go downhill, everyone expects a closed door meeting creating external pressure for the meeting to happen, rather than the meeting just occurring or not occurring naturally in keeping with the rhythms and chemistry of that particular team.
5) With the new schedule and league realignment, rivalry matchups including the Freeway Series have shrunk from 6 games to 4 for the season. Do you like this development or is it messing too much with tradition, albeit a relatively recent tradition?
Matt: Well I ALWAYS have enjoyed the freeways series. To be honest I don’t have an issue with the series being 4 games because you have 2 in LA then right then another 2 in Anaheim. So more of a 4 game series home and home. I know this will eventually end up being a Opening Day match up soon with the realignment so 4 games isn’t bad. Though I did like the 6 game format.
Kristen: I love the Freeway Series and the rivalry fan energy that both surrounds it at the ballparks and spills over into our work and social lives for a few days. I’m really going to miss that lasting for two full series and, to be honest, a shorter more compacted Freeway Series cuts into my ability to attend one game at each stadium, a mini-tradition Seth and I have enjoyed for a few years. But, at the same time, I get the necessity of trimming down the rivalry matchups under the new schedule. I also understand how awkward and underwhelming two series’ worth of rivalry matchups were under the old schedule for teams/fan bases who had no natural rival and were stuck with 6 games against an, in essence, MLB manufactured and assigned rival. So, while I’m disappointed for Angels and Dodgers fans, I get that this was the best course of action.
6) Make your predictions now. Which team will win the Freeway Series and with what record?
Matt: With what I have seen from the Dodgers they for some reason can’t get it together. Against St Louis they were shut out where they didn’t even show up and Yesterday where errors took them out of the game. This series starts off with Greinke and Ryu so it’s not pitching that I am worried about but the lack of offense. With that said I see this series going 2-2. Dodgers taking one in LA and one in Anaheim but with the Dodgers I really don’t know what to expect out of them at times especially with a hot Angels team coming into Dodger Stadium.
Kristen says: The Angels are hot right now and, since the start of interleague play, have owned the NL, including the Dodgers. I predict the Angels will win 3 out 4.
Meet the Bloggers Bonus Question: Do you enjoy the Freeway Series and, if so, what is your first/best Freeway Series memory?
Matt: Theres so many favorite memories and moments from this series. I enjoy the Freeway Series because it’s two teams that’s close to each other clashing. As far as my favorite/best Freeway Series memory wellll theres so many that I can’t pin point on one. Mine would have to be my first trip to Angels Stadium in 2009. The night before Juan Rivera (Angels player at the time) hit a walk off Home Run. This night Jarred and Jeff Weaver pitched against each other. The Dodgers won that night but what made it memorible was that it was my Very First Freeway Series that I witnessed (The First of Many).
Kristen says: I can’t pick out one specific, favorite memory – there are just too many! But the thing I love the most about the Freeway Series and the warm, fuzzy sense of family tradition I get from it. Growing up, my family primarily rooted for the Dodgers, but the Angels were Grandpa’s team, so I always knew both teams and loved watching them play each other. And, coming from such a Freeway family, as it were, my parents always took my sister and I to at least one Freeway Series game. There was no interleague play when I was a child so the Freeway Series was a pre-season exhibition. This meant that the Freeway Series was frequently my first live baseball game after the long winter without, adding to the specialness of t occasion.
And we’re here. The final part to our 2013 Dodgers spring preview will not focus on positions or players but the whole look at the Franchise. Hopefully the guide has given you an outlook on each position and answered some questions that you asked. Or maybe brought new questions to you regarding the 2013 Dodgers. This Off-Season the Dodgers took time fill the needs in order to not only make playoffs but win the NL West and contend for a World Series. They loaded up on pitching with the signings of Zack Grenkie, Hyun Jin Ryu, and J.P. Howell as well as re-signing Brandon League. They also hired Mark McGuire as batting coach to help improve the batting, An issue that the Dodgers had last season. Los Angeles done a lot in the off-season and it shows that they want to win the whole thing. Will they do it though? That’s something we all want to know. Before we drive right into the final take a few question and answers that should help. Now about a few weeks ago I asked some fans on twitter and Facebook what questions they had about this Dodgers team.
From @LAno1sportsfan via Twitter- Will Luis Cruz will play 3rd base for the rest of the season or do the Dodgers eventually make a move for a 3rd Baseman at some point?- Well to be honest it really depends on Cruz really. You have to look at it like this…If Cruz can repeat what he did last season and what he’s doing during Spring Training then yes he’s going to be there but once he struggles OR has an injury that keeps him out or something then most likely. I don’t think they’ll trade for one if Cruz struggles because look at who they have on the bench that can play that position but that’s what I see.
From Victoria Nunez who asks If Crawford isn’t ready by Opening Day, who will take up left field- That has been a question we’ve been asking since the end of the season really. My mind keeps shifting because a part of me think Crawford will be ready and another don’t see him ready till mid April maybe first week of May. Anyways if Carl Crawford isn’t ready then I believe Skip Schumaker will take his place. It’s a tough toss-up because you have Jerry Hariston there as well as Alex Castellanos but I really see Schumaker there come opening day but don’t be surprised if Mattingly platoons at Left till Crawford comes back.
@KingBilly via Twitter- Besides Kershaw and Greinke, what other starter do you see having a good/great season ?- I really believe Josh Beckett will have a good season. Many don’t think about Beckett as much but he did have a solid season when he was traded to Los Angeles. I think that along with him being in the NL (A Pitchers League), Pitching at Dodgers Stadium (Pitchers park), as well as a change of scenery will really help him out. Beckett won’t put up Cy Young numbers like that but he will be a solid Number 3 and that’ll be enough to help the Dodgers win.
@Dodgersrules1 via Twitter- are the dodgers going to trade harang or chris capuano- Right now with all the injuries It’s probably not wise to trade either at this point but I do see them getting traded. Eventually I do see both getting traded but at the right price. Depends on who needs Starting Pitching and everything.
Now that all the questions are out the way lets hit the home stretch. With everything the Dodgers did in the off-season and last summer, Is it enough for the Dodgers to win the NL West? If you look at the NL West it’s really bound to be interesting. The hated San Fransisco Giants brings back everyone (Pretty much) and Arizona spending on pitching nothing will come easy for the Dodgers. Los Angeles has some questions with the health of players and positioning especially at Left Field. I believe it comes down to if this team can be consistent and healthy enough to win the division. On paper they’re contenders but can this team keep it together to win the NL West and more? I think they will based on what I’ve seen during spring training and the World Baseball Classic. ultimately it will come down to pitching and that’s what will carry this Dodger team to a NL West title.
Not only is there questions with the team but there’s questions with the Manager as well. Many people question if Don Mattingly is the right guy for the job. Don Mattingly have been the Dodgers manager since 2011, When the Dodgers were going through its worst times with the franchise. Mattingly has gotten his team through the worst of things and the next year came close to leading this team to the Playoffs. I believe the Dodgers front office will wait and see what he’ll do with this team before deciding if they should sign him back to manage this team. I do believe he can be the right guy but he will have to gel all this talent together. He has the staff and players so there’s no more excuses for Mattingly not to succeed with this team.
So there you have it. We made it through the Spring preview. We broke down the positions, answered the questions, and took a look at a few things with the team. With all of that out the way we can now let the team go out on the field for their 2013 campaign and answer everything for us. On to Opening Day We Go!!!
I’m going to take a few minutes to talk about something that I’m sure all Baseball fans out in the west coast (Basically California coast) can agree with me on and that is the landscape shift in Baseball. You see most of the time you have either the East (Yankees, Red Soxs, Phillies, Braves) or Midwest (Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, White Soxs, ) Ruling the baseball world and getting most of the attention and well deserved because of how they play and the division. From the last year or 2 that landscape is slowly but surely moving out to the west. About a year ago after the Angels signed Albert Pulojs and CJ Wilson I said that the baseball landscape would shift once the Dodgers get their new owners. So far I was right but I didn’t expect the extra stuff like the Dodgers trading for Hanley, Adrian, Beckett, and Crawford as well as becoming very active in the Trade Market during the season, The A’s beating out the Texas Rangers and The Angels to win the AL West, The Giants winning the Division and World Series (YUCK!!!) and the Padres got new ownership in the O’Mally’s (Former Dodgers owners and Yes the Family of the great Walter O’Mally). Baseball in California is getting interesting and moving on up.
You might be wondering how is that happening? Well let me go ahead and point it out for you. If you look at it right now the Yankees, Who would use to get pretty much any player they want, haven’t been really signing players like that and teams like the Dodgers and Angels this winter have been very active in the market. The Dodgers currently have a larger Payroll than the Yankees. YES THE YANKEES!!! Star players like Zack Grenike (Dodgers), Josh Hamilton (Angels), Albert Pujols in 2011(Angels) are moving to the west due to the Angels and Dodgers having the money to grab those big time players. The rivalries are also starting to grab more attention out west. The Yankees/Red Soxs has lost it’s luster due to the Red Sox’s decline and last season the Dodgers/Giants were in a heated Division race through out the summer. While the Red Sox/Yankees will have that historical bad blood the Giants/Dodgers will most likely be a divisional battle every year as will the A’s up and coming in the same division as the Star studded Angels will be something to keep an eye out for as well. Interleague out west is also starting to grab the attention of a lot of baseball fans. The Freeway Series with the teams the Dodgers and Angels have is starting to become a must see. If things go their way then the Freeway Series could go as far as a World Series Match up. Field wise the Yankees records were at least one W/L better than the A’s and Giants who went on hot streaks down the stretch. Think of it One and I don’t even like the Giants but it’s not about that right now. The Dodgers and Angels barely missed the playoffs which was disappointing for each teams fan base because of the current roster. What about San Diego you ask? Well now that they have new ownership it leaves the potential for them to become something in the NL West. While they won’t be like the Dodgers or anything in terms of ownership and having a major impact the O’Mally’s are no stranger operating a MLB Team. They have the challenge of not only fielding a team that can compete but filling the seats at Petco Park. The Padres played role of the spoiler towards the end and won 78 Games which gives the new ownership something to build on.
While I am a Dodger fan and live out in Los Angeles I am not blind at whats going on here. Yes the media will always have some east coast bias to it and the results on the field will have to back me up but the shift is starting to happen. We already seen a team have a higher payroll than the New York Yankees (Dodgers). It’s all right there. Weather you agree or disagree Is solely up to you but I can tell you in my opinion the West is starting to become an attention grabber so far and if the results on the field are what we hope it is then watch out.