September 19, 2014

Notes from the Couch…

This week was a pretty busy week…had to prepare for a garage sale we had on Saturday and Sunday, therefore, not much time was available to catch the Dodger games on TV…I did, however, see a few things…

Joe Torre is amazing…
Last Thursday…2 outs, bottom of the 8th in St. Louis…game tied, 3-3…man on 3rd…Hong-Chih Kuo on the mound…he just struck out Ryan Ludwick…the fastball was working…next batter, Albert Pujols…Joe Torre comes to the mound…usually, Joe makes a pitching change, but instead, there was a conversation…pitch to Pujols or walk him intentionally?…we got our answer 4 pitches later – the intentional walk…so, up steps Matt Holliday – probably the hottest hitter in the NL since his trade from Oakland…I was thinking that you pitch around one great hitter to face a hot hitter?…interesting…

…then I was amazed…Kuo walked Holliday intentionally to load the bases!…this setup a lefty-lefty matchup with Rick Ankiel…in a classic battle, Ankiel swung at all 3 pitches he saw…all 3 of them were fastballs…and he didn’t make contact on ANY of them!…the Dodgers escaped and eventually won the game in 10 innings…wow!

Joe Torre is amazing, part 2…
In Atlanta on Sunday, Chad Billingsley was pitching a great game…he had 9 strikeouts in 5 innings while holding the Braves to just 2 hits and no runs…a freak hyperextension of Billingsley’s left knee led to Joe Torre pulling him after the 5th for precautionary reasons…I don’t blame him…why risk further injury at this point of the season?…our goal is to win in October, so let’s take care of our guys…

Billingsley was slated to lead off the top of the 6th inning…because the Dodgers were short of bench players (only 3 hitters were available on Sunday), Joe went to power hitting pitcher, Jason Schmidt, to pinch hit…Schmidt has 7 career home runs…what did Torre have to lose?…anyway, Jason lined a 1-1 pitch back up the middle for a single and eventually came home to score the 5th run of the game…the Dodgers went on to win, 9-1.

George Sherrill Trade
Have you guys fallen in love with George Sherrill yet?…as I mentioned in a previous post, he’ll be great out of the bullpen for us and gives us another strong lefty for matchup situations (ie – the Phillies lineup) or be the 8th inning setup guy for Broxton in the 9th…in just 2 appearances (1.1 innings), he has 3 strikeouts, 1 hold, 0 hits and 0 runs allowed…of course, we’ve only seen him twice…sooner or later, he’ll get touched up for a hit, maybe even a run…until then, the Dodgers got the better end of this trade…

Vin Scully’s Farewell Tour
The LA Times published an article last week challenging the Dodgers to send out the great Vin Scully in style…Vin announced he will come back for one more year in the booth before retiring after an incredible career…here’s my 2 cents on what should be done…#1 – Dodgers win the World Series this year and next year!…win it for Vin!…#2 – next season, let Vin choose 81 Dodger greats (1 for each home game) from his days of broadcasting and have that player, manager, coach or Dodger employee take part in throwing out the first pitch and then come up to the booth so Vin can share some great memories with that person…let VIN choose the 81, not the Dodgers…simulcast all 81 of those home games so fans can take part in the farewell – whether you are watching on TV or listening in your car on the radio…that would be awesome…

Trade Talk

I love this time of year…usually, the Dodgers are in a position where they are looking to acquire a big bat or some arms for the stretch run…this year, I hope whatever moves they make will make them better for a DEEP playoff run…

The site I’m keeping my eyes on this week is this one – http://trades.mlblogs.com

While there was initial talk about the Dodgers and Roy Halladay, those seem to have gone by the wayside (along with Halladay talks to virtually every other MLB team)…Toronto is asking too much and they are in a position to do that (Halladay would be under contract for this season and next season, so a team would be trading for him and have him through 2010 rather than just having him for a couple months)…

Cliff Lee of the Cleveland Indians seems like the next best option…Cy Young award winner…great numbers…we’ll see where that goes…

The most recent rumors on the site indicate Baltimore is shopping their closer, George Sherrill…I know George from a fantasy baseball perspective (he’s on my team) and he puts up great numbers…sure, we have Broxton on the back end of our bullpen, but it would be great having an established closer in the fold to help with 8th inning duties, lefty-lefty matchups and best of all, be available if Broxton has pitched 2-3 consecutive games…and the better part is the rumor has the trade involving a minor leaguer, so we’re not trading anything from our current major league roster…

I love it!

UPDATE – July 30th
Of course, a day after this rumor came out, the trade happened…we got George Sherrill!…a nice addition to the bullpen which really needs some help in the coming days now that we went 15 innings in St. Louis yesterday and have no off days until next week…as I mentioned above, his numbers are great…will that translate to success with the Dodgers?…who will be the odd man out now that he’s on the team?

dodgerfan.net report from Chavez Ravine

Thanks to tickets provided by a co-worker, aka Emi, I had the opportunity to catch Saturday night’s Dodgers/Marlins game from a great position – field level, first base side and about 10 rows up from the visitor’s dugout…

…it was a great position to watch another great celebration by the “walk off wonders” aka the 2009 Dodgers…

For most of the game, my attention was directed toward to specific players – Hiroki Kuroda who is on my fantasy baseball team and Manny Ramirez (who isn’t?)…Kuroda turned in a great game for me with 9 strikeouts and only 2 earned runs in 6 innings…not bad considering his recent “not-so-great” outings…Manny did me some good with a single in 5 trips to the plate.

The greatest part of the game, of course, was the bottom of the 9th…Juan Pierre led off the inning, pinch hitting for Broxton who pitched a scoreless 9th to get is 7th victory against zero defeats!…anyway, I told my friend that all I wanted was for someone to get on base so Manny had a chance to win it for us…

Pierre lined out to center…Furcal had a perfect bunt up the first base line that went for a single…Hudson then followed with a sharp line drive single to left field which setup possible hero #1 – Manny Ramirez…

At this point, the fans were on their feet for the rest of the game…Manny struck out much to the chagrin of the crowd, but it setup the situation for possible hero #2 – Andre Ethier…

Ethier, our walk off hero so far this season, drew a walk…this setup the situation for possible hero #3 – Casey Blake…

…bases loaded…2 out…bottom of the 9th…possible game winning situation…this is what you dream about as a kid, right?

Of course, that dream ends with a home run, but as I told my friend, all we need is a lousy single (to take the words out of Rex Hudler’s mouth)…

0-2 count…not looking good…

…2 balls later, things were looking a little better…Marlins pitcher Luis Ayala paced around the mound…2 more balls and he loses the game…he had to throw a strike…

On the 2-2 pitch, Casey made contact and from where I was sitting, I had a great view of something great – the ball coming down and landing on the GRASS between 3 Marlins fielders…

As I like to tell my water polo players, sometimes it’s better to have placement than power on shots and Casey’s certainly was placed perfectly…

DODGERS WIN!

The dog pile on Casey Blake after his walk off single against the Marlins on July 25th.

The dog pile on Casey Blake after his walk off single against the Marlins on July 25th.

Scoreboard - Dodgers-Marlins on July 25th

Notes from the Couch…

In my second installment of Notes from the Couch, here are a couple random thoughts about the past couple of weeks for the Boys in Blue…

Trade Talk
While adding Roy Halladay to the starting rotation would be awesome (and keeping him out of the Phillies’ rotation or some other NL team), the asking price will probably be too high…there’s NO WAY I want the Dodgers to even consider Clayton Kershaw in the deal (the prevailing rumor these days)…what Kershaw has done in his last 7 starts is exactly what us fans like to see – domination! (5-0 record, 0.63 ERA – 3 earned runs in 42.2 innings!, 0.98 WHIP, only 21 hits allowed in 42.2 innings)…I like the fact that the Dodgers have been scouting Cliff Lee (Cleveland)…will he come at a cheaper price?

Manny’s Moment, Juan’s Salute
How awesome was Manny’s grand slam moment on Wednesday?…I was feeling somewhat sorry for the sellout crowd who went to the ballpark to get Manny’s bobblehead and of course, see Manny play…he wasn’t in the starting lineup for good reason – sore left hand from being hit the night before…we all know what happened, so I won’t rehash that Gibson-like moment…what I’d like to point out is yet another professional thing Juan Pierre did – allow the fans to cheer and savor the moment…as the guys pointed out on Dodgers Live after the game, if Juan had gone straight to the plate and stepped into the batter’s box for his at bat, the crowd probably would have cheered a little more and sat down to continue watching the game…instead, Juan stayed in the on deck circle and let the fans cheer like crazy, giving Manny the applause he deserved…

Fantasy Baseball Hell
Those of you who participate in head-to-head Fantasy Baseball leagues know what I’m talking about…you are playing an opponent that week who has a Dodger or two…what do you do when you are cheering for the Dodgers, but at the same time, a great performance by a Dodger puts you behind in the standings?…I ran into this on Wednesday when my opponent had Chad Billingsley pitching…I had Manny Ramirez in my lineup, so when Manny hit the grand slam, it was great for me (homer, 4 RBI’s, 5.000 OPS, etc.) and gave the Dodgers the lead, but also great for my opponent because the grand slam led to Billingsley getting the victory…as it stands now, I trail my opponent in victories and am currently behind 7-5 with 3 days left…oh well, it all comes down to Dodger victories…that’s what we all want…that’s what we all need…

The Lucky Charm?
Last Saturday, my wife pulled out our Dodger flag which has been sitting in a closet waiting to be hung for the first time in front of our house…the reason it was in the closet was because it couldn’t hang on our existing flagpole…she needed to sew it so it could…sure enough, she got to work and had it ready in time for the game against the Houston Astros…we hung it, the Dodgers won…same thing on Sunday…we hung it, the Dodgers won…same thing on Monday…same thing on Tuesday…same thing on Wednesday…5 games in a row!…all I know is I will continue to follow a few “rules” when hanging the flag – can’t hang it out all day…it comes out on game day no more than 1 hour before the first pitch…it comes down within an hour after the final pitch (let’s hope I get out of the stadium quickly on Saturday and Sunday)…more rules will probably follow, but I’ll stick to these to start until the Dodgers lose a game with the flag hanging…

My new favorite card…
I’ll have a scan of this shortly, but I got a card recently that has become one of my favorites…an autographed Clayton Kershaw from the 2009 Topps set…this goes quite nicely with the Chad Billingsley jersey/auto card I have from the 2008 Upper Deck Heroes set…will they someday become the Drysdale/Koufax of the 21st century?…we’ll see…

Matt Kemp SHOULD be an All Star…

If you saw any part of tonight’s game at Milwaukee, particularly the 10th inning, you would have seen an All Star in action…

…at least in my book, he’s an All Star…

After hitting a grand slam in the top of the 10th to extend the Dodgers’ lead to 12-6, Kemp came up with an unbelievable catch in the bottom of the 10th to end the game…an over the shoulder, Willie Mays style catch on a drive by Jason Kendall…

How big was that play?…men on 1st and 3rd, 2 out…if Kendall gets a double on that play, perhaps both runners score and we’re looking at a 12-10 game with Jonathan Broxton struggling on the mound…instead, Kemp ends the game and ends the threat…Dodgers win!

I can accept the addition of Shane Victorino to the NL All Star squad…the fans voted and those in Philadelphia seem to have nothing better to do than sit in front of their computers and vote…I bet we’ll see a spike in carpal tunnel problems in Philadelphia in the coming months and years…

What I cannot accept is the replacement of injured outfielder, Carlos Beltran of the Mets, by Jayson Werth of the Phillies…granted, Charlie Manuel sees Werth play everyday and knows his talent, but how can a guy who wasn’t even part of the “final vote” by the fans be allowed to go to the All Star game ahead of a guy who Major League Baseball thought was good enough in the first place and could have gone if the fans voted him in?

I wonder who Charlie Manuel would have picked to replace Carlos Beltran had Matt Kemp won the Final Vote…Victorino or Werth?

Oh, and of course, Philadelphia now has 5 guys on the All Star team and the Dodgers, with the best record in the majors, has just 3…go figure…