Category Archives: Los Angeles Dodgers

Who’s Gonna Buy Me This?

 

lol.

 

If you’re reading this in the distant future, today is the day Frank McCourt filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  It was a big middle finger to Bud Selig, who was basically about to take over the team, the local media (he reported it to the New York Times first) and to the fans of the LA Dodgers, who now have to wait at least until the end of the season for a new owner, since he now has a $150 million loan from MLB because of the bankruptcy.

It’s been real, Frank.

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For My Father, a Year and a Half After He Passed

following Ken Arneson

My dad (left) and me at Wrigley Field in 2006.

My whole family is in New York right now–mom, brother and sister, their spouses and my niece.  I’m at my sister’s house, taking care of her dogs.  It’s a bit lonely here, but not having a dad is kind of liberating today. I have nowhere to be except by his graveside. I have what feels like all the time in the world to reflect on his life and our mutual love of baseball.

He was a great man. He was beloved by many and he had an ability to draw people close–to get them to trust him. He never took advantage of that. He loved to talk to people, but felt most comfortable with the ones he loved. He loved his mother and struggled at times with the guilt he felt caring for her. He loved the finer things in life. He loved golf too much. He lost his brother, business partner and best friend, Billy, in the mid-90s and struggled with that for years. He had a huge collection of wines, some of which he told me to save for my wedding (when I was 15) and my sister’s unborn daughter’s wedding. He loved telling people what they should and shouldn’t do.

He also had some hard luck. After he retired, he went to get his knee repaired and then found out he needed heart surgery. Just months after getting heart surgery, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was 60. He died 14 months later.

His greatest love, besides family, was baseball.

His father had taught him the game and he taught each of us–my brother, my sister and myself. He preached the beauty of the game. We watched the Dodgers for years. His father had season tickets and passed them down to him. Now they’re split between the three of us and our mom.

Of all the times to die, he died the day before the 2009 NLCS began. The four of us (myself, my mom, my sister and my brother) went to game 1 the next night and it felt like the Dodgers needed to win. They needed to win for us. They owed us. They owed us that moment that I never got to have with him; that transcendental victory and happiness. They owed dad.

Give not thyself up, then, to fire, lest it invert thee, deaden thee; as for the time it did me. There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness.

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Chad Billingsley Talks About Pitch Sequencing

I got to sit down with Chad Billingsley today and speak to him about pitch sequencing. This is the best conversation I’ve had about it yet and special thanks to Chad for being so open in discussing this.

This is the second or third pitcher or pitching coach I’ve spoken to about sequencing, please click the “pitch sequencing” tag to find the other ones.

Let’s start with the basic: tell me what you know about pitch sequencing.

Well, first, there’s a lot of luck involved. The hitter knows what you have, as far as the pitches and what your tendencies are.

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We’re gonna want to remember this one for a while.

Matt Kemp blasted a shot OUT of Coors Field on Saturday. Link is here.

Dylan O. Hernandez on Twitter:

Heard that Kemp’s HR ball last night hit the concourse and one-hopped out of the stadium. Landed in the parking lot.

And the distance it would have gone approximately, thanks to Google Earth:

Yes, 490 feet is approximately how far it went. Even in a bad season, it’s pretty good to be a Dodger fan.

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Picking Mattingly’s Brain About Kershaw’s Ability [From a Hitter’s Perspective]

Everyone knows who Don Mattingly is; not many know, I guess, that he’s a very intelligent baseball guy. I was taken aback when he just opened up this conversation with me about what makes Kershaw so effective.

Here’s what he had to say about Clayton Kershaw’s performance, and skill set, tonight and for his career since coming up.

[Clayton] can use his breaking ball, he used his change up tonight, and his curveball is always there.

How much of Kershaw’s efficiency tonight was because of the line-up he faced?

These guys were pretty aggressive, but you still gotta throw the ball in the strike zone. That’s really the biggest difference, is establishing fastball counts all the time and now Kershaw is at the point as much as he throws a slider for a strike, he throws a slider for a chase (when the batter swings at a ball); he throws a breaking ball for a strike, he throws a breaking ball for a chase. He works both sides of the plate and to me that’s the evolution for him. Coming up, watching him as a young kid, he was one side of the plate and now he’s both.

He went from being a fastball-curveball guy to being a fastball-curveball-slider-change. When you’re [on the receiving end] of four weapons as a hitter, you have to start picking sides of the plate, you’re gonna try to eliminate pitches, but with Kershaw, you can’t do it.

I wish I asked more questions, guess I’ll have to settle for this and wait ’til my next interview.

More from Kershaw coming tomorrow.

Here’s some more comments from Donnie Baseball:

Seems like usually with good pitchers you have to get to them early. If you don’t, they get settled. The Cubs had their chance and Kershaw was able to get the big out in that first and then basically stopped them from there.

When you get to [their pitcher] early with Kershaw it helps too. You know, they get the run early and from there he pretty much stopped them. We were able to get back in the game. Ivan’s hit down the line with two outs … he gets that hit and then Jerry’s big hit there too so it kind of opened it up.

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Counterpoints: Uribe Will Stay, Loney Will Go?

There’s two counterpoints to the last post.

First is about Juan Uribe. Uribe is expensive, but plays the three positions that the Dodgers have serious needs in: 2B, SS and 3B. His positional flexibility makes him very important and thus less likely to be traded. So get used to that.

Second is about James Loney. Someone pointed out to me that Loney is more than likely to be traded this year because Sands can play 1B and Trayvon Robinson can fill the outfield (along with Xavier Paul or another replacement player), if both are capable of playing every day.

Again, money is in the driver’s seat here and Uribe will likely make almost twice as much as Loney, but depth-wise, it makes more sense to do trade Loney and keep Uribe.

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So What Happens Next for the Dodgers?

You’ve heard the news by now. MLB has taken over the Dodgers day-to-day operations, wresting it from Frank McCourt, who nearly had to take a $30 million loan to meet payroll obligations.

Amazin Avenue has a great breakdown of teams in similar dire circumstances and there are two major examples: the Expos in 2001 and the Rangers in 2009. The Expos owner at the time, though (one Jeffrey Loria), up and left the team and no one was willing to buy them and the Rangers situation wasn’t dire enough to force MLB to control the team (though Selig threatened it. More about the Expos from that Amazin’ article:

In 1999, art dealer Jeff Loria bought the team and made things worse with bad personnel moves (spending way too much on middling free agents like Hideki Irabu) and worse business moves (failing to secure English language broadcast rights). He also failed to secure public funding for a new ballpark in downtown Montreal, and rumblings that the team would be moved began in earnest.

In other words, terrible, costly moves cost the team more money which was eventually the reason the team moved to DC (damn you, Loria).

The Dodgers do have some things going for them, so this won’t be as brutal as the Expos, but it won’t be as seamless as the Rangers.

So what’s the first thing that’ll happen?

Cost-cutting. And yes, we’re talking about the MLB payroll.

It certainly won’t be pretty, but the only young, talented player the Dodgers lose to FA after this season is Jonathan Broxton. That’s the fortunate thing. The bad news is that Rafael Furcal, Casey Blake, Jamey Carroll, Hiroki Kuroda, Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla will be gone too. That’s three position spots to fill and two starters.

The line up will look like this:

C AJ Ellis/Barajas again?
1B Loney/Sands
2B Uribe/Ivan DeJesus
SS ???/Uribe?/Gordon?/DeJesus?
3B Uribe/cheap FA guy
RF Ethier
CF Kemp
LF Sands/Tony Gwynn Jr.

SP Kershaw
SP Billingsley
SP Lilly
SP Fill-in/de la Rosa?
SP Fill-in

RPs staying for sure: Blake Hawksworth, Kenley Jansen, Hong-Chih Kuo, Matt Guerrier.

Which, effectively, isn’t all that bad. Really depends on the replacement players that are brought in.

In the event of a freaking panic fire sale, which isn’t altogether likely, but not out of the picture, things get more complicated.

Of those that are going to arbitration this coming off-season:

Arb 1
Clayton Kershaw

Arb 2
Tony Gwynn Jr.

Arb 3 (final year)
Kuo
Loney
Kemp

Arb 4
Ethier

In the 2011 year, Rafael Furcal is making the most money ($13 million), followed by Kuroda ($12 million), Ethier ($9.5), Lilly ($8.2) and Kemp ($7.1).

Of people who’ll potentially be back in 2012, Lilly is the biggest money maker at $11.5 million–whether he gets traded until then remains to be seen. Ethier’s the second biggest in the group (likely $10 mil in 2012). After that, Billingsley (9 mil), then Uribe (8 mil), then Kemp (likely > 7.1 mil).

I know almost everyone who’s a fan of the Dodgers is praying for Uribe to be traded off, but that’s not happening for two reasons: 1) nobody goddamn wants him for that price tag and you’re delusional if you think otherwise and 2) organizational depth is shallowest at the three positions Uribe plays: 2B, SS and 3B.

On the flipside, it won’t be too hard to keep Kemp and Kershaw, the only problem is they’ll be the easiest to trade. Colletti will get the most phone calls about them and Kemp is the easier of the two to let go because he’ll be making more in 2012. Yes, this sucks. But Colletti has stuck to his guns on Kemp, so while I’d understand Kemp being traded away, I’d still be shocked if it happened.

Assuming the team’s core sticks together for next year, with all of the arbitration payoffs, the team’s payroll will likely be at $65-70 million, which is still too much, but trading away one of Ethier or Billingsley will balance that to about $60 million. Add in a few minor league players and some waiver wire acquisitions and you have a full major league roster. The only real problem with this is if McCourt was so highly leveraged that the team still had to make payments on his debts, but declaring bankruptcy would be a good start in that case.

With market sharing, ticket sales and TV revenues, that’ll put the team into the manageable payroll area until the end of 2012, when basically everyone on the team is a free agent.

After that is complete chaos, but let’s hope it doesn’t get to that.

The best solution is clearly getting potential buyers organized ASAP and have the team sold by January 1, 2012.

In conclusion, it’s possible that an MLB-run Dodgers squad can at least keep together the best players on the squad for the next year and maybe a bit more–at least ideally. But in practice, that’s a little more difficult. The three big questions are:

  • How fast is MLB going to act to cut costs? (The answer is probably immediately)
  • How dramatic will those cuts be?
  • And what will be the market be for trading away players?

I get the feeling the market for pitchers will be better than the market for OFs at the trade deadline or even before it. Of major contenders this year, the Giants and Phils seem to be the only two with a solidified staff. Meanwhile, the Rockies, Braves, Rangers, Yankees, Rays, White Sox, Twins and Tigers could use an SP of Kuroda or Lilly’s stature down the stretch.

So players who are likely gone: Lilly, Kuroda
Players who probably are gone: Ethier, Uribe (if anybody will take him)
Players who might be gone, but probably not: Billingsley, Kemp
Players who are staying: Kershaw, James Loney, Jerry Sands

It seems the Dodgers’ scouting has served them well.

These cost-cutting measures also mean the team will draft at slot, which hurts Logan White and Dejon Watson quite a bit, but hopefully it’ll be only for one year.

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