April 21, 2014

Notes from the couch…

A theater crowd?
On my way to one of my coaching engagements, I was listening to Tuesday’s game against the Mets…it was classic how Rick Monday and Charley Steiner were describing the crowd…particularly when it was dead silent in the stadium…one of them said it was more like a “theater crowd rather than a baseball crowd”…classic!

Perhaps the pricing at Citi Field is to blame…for the game versus the Dodgers (considered a “Gold” game), the cheapest ticket was $23…at Dodger Stadium, the cheapest seats are $9…the equivalent Loge level seats at Dodger Stadium ($60) go for over twice that at Citi Field ($138)…I guess the Mets have priced themselves out of bringing in the true fans…now, they are tailoring their home crowds to the likes of the theater district…the Dodgers have done a great job of keeping prices low for the fans!

Home Field Advantage…on the road!
From watching parts of the recent series at San Diego on TV, it was great to see the Dodger fans out in force…very similar to what I experienced at the Dodgers/Angels game in Anaheim when the Weaver brothers pitched against each other…our Boys in Blue must feel like they are playing in front of the home crowd when chants of “Let’s go Dodgers!” ring throughout the stadium…

Manny makes fantasy owners happy…
As a Yahoo Fantasy Baseball manager who happens to have Manny Ramirez on his roster, I am pleased that he’s back in my lineup…I was beginning to get sick of my replacement outfielder, JD Drew, sitting every other game and not getting stats for me…in the 4 games since Manny returned, the Dodgers are 3-1 as a team and Manny’s given me 3 hits, a homer, 4 RBI’s and a run scored…I’ll take it!

Hoping for a speedy return!
When news hit that Ronald Belisario returned to Los Angeles after complaining of a stiff elbow, my first reaction was, “Uh oh!”…I saw Saturday’s game at San Diego and how he struggled to throw strikes…chalked it up to simply having a bad day, but hearing the news of his elbow has me concerned…he pitched in 43 of the Dodgers’ first 82 games…add to that the number of times he’s had to get up and warmup in the bullpen and you can see that it’s a lot of pitches thrown for a guy who had Tommy John surgery and sat out the 2005 and 2006 seasons…I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this will pass and he’ll be back in the lineup soon…after all, it’s hard to lose a guy with a 2.42 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and a blazing fastball…

I’ve done my part!
Matt Kemp is still in contention for the last roster spot for next week’s All Star Game in St. Louis…I find it amazing that the Dodgers, with the best record in Major League Baseball, have fewer All Stars (3 – Billingsley, Broxton, Hudson) than the New York Mets (4 – Wright, Beltran, Rodriguez, Santana)…didn’t the Dodgers just beat the Mets, 8-0 on Tuesday???…how did the Dodgers build their 53-30 record with just 3 All Stars and the Mets build their not-so-impressive 39-43 record with 4 All Stars?…oh well, I’ve done my part by voting for Matt Kemp over-n-over via mlb.com…have you?

Monday’s great game!

Andre Ethier's Game Winning Homer vs. Rockies

Click on image to see a larger version!

Sorry for posting this the day after the fact…it was a long night that finished the right way – with a Dodger victory!

Thanks to a guy named “Doc” at work, I was able to watch Monday night’s game from a great position – loge level, first base side, row A…fantastic seats in foul ball territory (one landed one aisle over and about 5-6 more were in our “area”)…of course, the only souvenirs I walked away with were a soda cup and a white Dodger soft serve helmet…

The game got off to a great start as Randy Wolf pitched 3 perfect innings before giving up a hit to leadoff the 4th inning…even though Wolf gave up a 2-run homer in the top of the 5th, he made up for it with a 2-run single in the bottom of the 5th!

The bullpen went to work in the 7th inning when Ronald Belisario came in and struck out the first two batters he faced…it was great to see the Rockies a bit off balance – seeing Randy Wolf and his high 60′s curveball for six innings and then facing Belisario and his mid-90′s heat in the seventh…

It was then Ramon Troncoso’s turn in the 8th, pitching a scoreless frame and then handing the ball to Jonathan Broxton who was throwing even more heat (high 90′s with a couple of pitches reaching triple digits on the Dodger Stadium radar gun)…

The only inning where we got into trouble was the 10th when Jeff Weaver gave up hits to the first two batters he faced, but proceeded to strikeout the side to get out of the jam…the fans were going crazy!!!

Brent Leach, Guillermo Mota and James McDonald each pitched a perfect inning to setup the heroics in the bottom of the 13th…

Casey Blake led off with a single to right field that Brad Hawpe trapped on a diving attempt…Andre Ethier, the Dodger’s leading “walk off man” with three game winners this season, stepped to the plate…

Strike one called…everyone in the stadium disagreed with the call…

Ball one…low and away…

Strike two called…another questionable call from the fans’ perspective, but we all have a worse view compared to the home plate umpire…

Pitch #4 was fouled away…

It was at this point that my friend put on his jacket and called it the “rally jacket”…I told him he should have put it on in the 9th inning so we could have gone home earlier…

The 5th pitch was a thing of beauty – for Dodger fans…Ethier ripped a line drive to right field that I thought was going to hit the wall…so did Brad Hawpe as he stopped and prepared to play the rebound off the wall…

…except the rebound never came…

The ball barely cleared the wall in right field…HOME RUN!

The crowd was going crazy…the Dodger bench emptied onto the field, awaiting Ethier at home plate…the helmet was off…the grin was ear-to-ear…he was pointing to someone at home plate…the final leap to touch the plate was complete…the dogpile began…what a game, what a game…

While Ethier stole the headlines in the paper this morning, the true heroes of this game were the guys coming out of the bullpen…in fact, the entire pitching staff…

17 strikeouts were recorded in the 13-inning game…the bullpen did not allow a run in the final 7 innings…the ONLY hits the Rockies got came off Jeff Weaver in the 10th…we brought the heat and the Rockies could do nothing with it…I love it!

When Manny Returns…

With Manny Ramirez taking his swings in Albuquerque and getting back into shape for his July 3rd return, the big question revolves around Juan Pierre and his role with the Dodgers…

In Manny’s absence, Juan has been a blessing for the team…his 71 hits (4th on the team), .327 average (tops on the team amongst the regulars) and 17 stolen bases (2nd on the team) are great numbers for a leadoff man…

From what I’ve read and heard on the radio, there are some things the Dodgers may consider in the coming weeks…

  • Trade him while is stock is high and reduce our payroll…that seems to be a very logical move and I’m sure some teams would be interested in a quality leadoff guy in their lineup…the positives for the Dodgers would be the reduction in payroll and maybe getting something good in return…
  • Keep him on the roster and relegate him to the bench…the positive for the Dodgers is Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier are the top-3 outfielders and deserve their starting roles…my fear is this would take away Juan’s momentum that he has built during Manny’s absence and we may see a drop in his productivity if he’s not in the lineup everyday…
  • Keep him on the roster, but give him a few starts here and there to give Ramirez, Kemp and Ethier a break…this works for me because you want to give guys a day off every once in a while to keep them fresh and allow them to be at full strength for what we all hope will be a long playoff run…PLUS, what if Ethier gets hurt?…what if Kemp runs into the outfield wall and is out for a couple weeks?…having an experienced outfielder available will do nothing but help the team…giving him a few starts here and there will keep him in “game” mode when called upon…

One thing I have thought about is this…

Have Ramirez, Kemp and Ethier be the starting outfield trio with Pierre on the bench…in the 6th or 7th inning, when we often see pinch hitters batting for our pitcher, use that as a time to get Pierre his first at bat of the game…

When the team takes the field for the next half inning, put Pierre into the game in left or center and you can move around the outfielders as you see fit (ie – if he replaces Kemp, Juan can play center…if he replaced Ramirez, Juan can play left…if he replaces Either, Kemp can move to right and Juan plays center)…

This will serve a couple purposes:

  • give one of the outfielders 2-3 innings “off” for that game…rather than having them rest for a whole game, give them their 9 innings of rest over 7-8 games…
  • Pierre will probably get 2 plate appearances per game if he comes in during the 6th or 7th inning…if you figure he does this 5-6 times per week, that’s 10-15 plate appearances per week which is better than giving him 6-10 as a bench player who pinch hits or fills in on occasion as a starter for the starters…
  • If Pierre comes in and pinch hits for the pitcher, most likely that means he’s batting 9th in the order and will bat in front of the projected leadoff man, Rafael Furcal…doesn’t Pierre/Furcal batting back-to-back sound familiar???…that’s what they do now!

Anyway, all this is just talk, but it’s something to think about as we anticipate the return of Manny to the lineup…whatever Joe Torre decides, I’m all for it (so long as we keep winning!).

A perfect night…

Dodgers vs. Angels, 6/20/09

Dodgers vs. Angels, 6/20/09

Tonight’s game at Angel Stadium was nearly perfect, and I was there to witness it…

Jeff Weaver and the Dodgers beat Jered Weaver and the Angels, 6-4…in yesterday’s post, I “correctly” predicted Jeff would win because he was the older brother…the trend from the past 3 brother matchups had the older brother winning the game over the younger brother!

…actually, that had nothing to do with it…the Dodgers played a great game and there were plenty of highlights…

The game started off a bit rocky for Jeff and the Dodgers…the Angels got out to a 1-0 lead after the first inning and increased it to 2-0 when Kendry Morales hit a home run in the 2nd inning…while that may seem like it was really bad for the Dodgers, I wasn’t too disappointed…why?…Morales’ home run meant ALL fans in the stadium got a coupon for a free classic taco at Del Taco! (it was the “home run” inning)

The play that may have changed the momentum for the Dodgers came on the 3rd out in the bottom half of the 2nd inning…

Erick Aybar hit a shot to right center field that looked like it was going to go for extra bases…instead, Matt Kemp timed his leap perfectly and made a spectacular catch (from my vantage point) while crashing into the wall to end the inning…the Dodger fans were going crazy…

In the top of the third inning, Russell Martin hit his first homer of the season to left field…it was the first of 3 hits for Russell on the day…has he found his stroke?…is this the start of a hot streak?…only time will tell…

The Dodgers added another run in the inning to tie the score at 2-2…

The 5th inning saw the Dodgers break the game open…three runs courtesy of an RBI single by Casey Blake and a two run triple by Andre Ethier…our boys had a 5-2 lead and were looking good…

Chone Figgins led off the bottom of the 6th with a triple…Joe Torre pulled Jeff Weaver after just 66 pitches, but he brought in another guy who came up with a huge game – Ronald Belisario…

Man on third, nobody out…a golden opportunity to score a run, right???…the Angels couldn’t thanks to a great pitching performance by Belisario…he struck out the side in the inning and had 2 more strikeouts in the 7th…1 2/3 innings pitched…all 5 outs courtesy of the strikeout…THAT’S what we call shutting a team down when it matters…

Despite a 2 run homer for the Angels in the bottom of the 9th off of Jonathan Broxton, the Boys in Blue won the game and sent the thousands of Dodger fans home with ear-to-ear grins…

It was a perfect night…

  • the electric atmosphere…many Dodger fans sporting their Dodger blue…
  • the Weaver brothers matchup with our favorite Weaver picking up the win…
  • the free taco (thanks, Kendry Morales)
  • Matt Kemp making a great play in the field
  • Russell Martin hitting his first homer of the season
  • Ronald Belisario throwing bullets and coming up with a big game
  • the Dodgers winning

Can it get any better?…yes, how ‘bout a win on Sunday?

A Family Affair

Jered Weaver, Angels (left) and Jeff Weaver, Dodgers (right)

Jered Weaver, Angels (left) and Jeff Weaver, Dodgers (right)

Since I’m heading to the Dodgers/Angels game on Saturday night, I figured I’d post something special about the game – the fact that Jeff Weaver will be the starting pitcher against his brother, Jered Weaver!

The dodgers.com website had some interesting tidbits and facts about brothers facing each other on the mound…

  • The last time it happened was 9/6/2002 when Andy Benes (Cardinals, the older brother) and Alan Benes (Cubs) faced off against each other…
  • The most recent brother pitching duel in Dodger history was when Ramon Martinez (Dodgers, older brother) beat Pedro Martinez (Mets) on 8/29/96.
  • This is the 8th time brothers have faced off against each other with a total of 20 brother-brother matchups taking place in MLB history.

Of course, I’m picking Jeff and the Dodgers to beat Jered and the Angels because the older sibling has won the pitching matchup the last 3 times this has happened…it’s what we call “looking at the trends”…

…then again, I don’t know if it means anything that the last 3 brother-brother pitching duels came in 1988, 1996 and 2002…do trends really work when you have 6-8 years between games like this???