July 31, 2014

Ethier & Farmer John Battle Hunger with Home Runs

Faithful readers of this blog know of my loyal allegance to Farmer John and the Dodger Dog (remember the Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dog?  Blasphemy!).

Well now Farmer John is getting it right and focusing their efforts on their signature  product, the iconic Dodger Dog, and partnering with the big dog of the Dodgers’ lineup, Andre Ethier.

Here’s what’s happening: Farmer John has agreed to donate 1,000 pounds of food to the Union Rescue Mission for every home run hit by Ethier during the 2011 regular season. 

 The press release goes on to say, “With every home run carrying meaning to the community, Ethier aims to exceed his 23 home runs from the 2010 season.”  Uh, he better do better than that if he wants to return to form.  Ideally he’ll match his 31 HR in the 2009 season, right?

“To have the opportunity to help those who are less fortunate definitely provides additional motivation during every game,” said Ethier. “I am happy to be teaming up with Farmer John again to help those in need here in Los Angeles for an effort that is close to my heart.”

Will MLB Enter the McCourt Divorce Fight?

Lots of great writing from around the web over the past few days.  Unfortunately most of this news isn’t all that positive, but that’s the way it goes some years, right?

- I’m a little late in getting to this, but Bill Shaikin had a thought-provoking look at the on the McCourt divorce saga in yesterday’s LA Times.  Very interesting to see that Commissioner Bud Selig is closely monitoring the situation, but not getting involved at this point.  Also interesting to see the list of potential buyers should the Dodgers come up for sale (my money is on Dennis Gilbert, but that’s just a hunch).

- Ross Newhan has a great story on his blog, looking back at the reporting that was done by him and former LA Times Dodgers’ beat writer Jason Reid on the McCourt’s financial situation when they purchased the team, and what their plans were for the future.

- Tony Jackson from ESPN Los Angeles recaps Clayton Kershaw’s brilliant complete game shutout against the hated San Francisco Giants.  One of the true highlights of the second half of the season.

- Ken Gurnick at MLB.com looks back at the life of Al LaMacchia, the longtime scout for the Dodgers and the man who is credited with Andre Ethier being in Dodger Blue.  Al passed away yesterday at the age of 89.  Old-time scouts are sadly a dying breed, and from all accounts, Al was a suberb baseball man.  Former Dodgers’ GM Fred Claire also wrote a great story on Al and the Ethier deal a few years ago.  Check it out…it’s one that I’ve always loved.

- Answer Dave over at Big League Stew has a rare Q&A with Vin Scully, where he discusses his love for Jolly Ranchers,  his thoughts on Elizabeth Montgomery (from “Bewitched”) and what the Seventh Inning Stretch means to him.  Terrific stuff.

- Jon Weisman gets a jump start on the 2010-2011 offseason and lays out the questions (and they’re big ones) that Ned Colletti & Co. face in the months leading up to Spring Training.  Yikes.

- There’s a lot more going on in Dodgerland, including Asst. GMs Logan White and DeJon Watson interviewing for the open General Manager position with the Diamondbacks.  Neither are rumored to be the current favorities, but the fine folks over at Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness brought up a good point: what if Logan or DeJon gets the job and takes the other with him?  What if they take Kim Ng?  Losing one would would be really tough.  Losing more than one would truly be tragic.

Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Crazy Rumor of the Day: Ethier to Red Sox?

I know, it’s crazy right?  But according to NECN, Ethier “has reportedly told friends he would like to come to the Red Sox.”

Look, I’m sure most players have a short list of teams they would love to play for at some point in their career, but that doesn’t mean they are unhappy with their current team.  Plus, Ethier is under contract for two more seasons and I really don’t see Colletti trading one of his best young position players for any package…let alone for a theoretical package of Dice K and a minor league prospect as the article mentions.

Nice try, Boston.

UPDATE: The LA Times’ Dylan Hernandez caught up with Ethier before yesterday’s game and tweeted the following comment from Andre: “I don’t think it makes any sense to comment on something like that.”

Hmm.  Not exactly a denial, is it?  I don’t have any doubt Ethier likes the Red Sox would love to play with his college teammate Dustin Pedroia, but still don’t think this is anything to worry about during the offseason at this point.

Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2010

Trade Rumors of the Day

As the trade deadline approaches, there are (and will be) numerous rumors, each with varying degrees of truth.  We’ll continue to report the major ones, but keep in mind that these are just rumors, many of which are floated by various general managers and organizations as smokescreens.  Ok, on to the rumors!

The persistent rumor today has the Dodgers talking to the Pirates about starter Paul Maholm.  Per Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

“Maholm, a 28-year-old left-hander is the Pirates’ highest-paid player on the active roster at $4.5 million — second baseman Aki Iwamura is continuing to make his $4.85 million salary in the minors — and he is coming off a three-hit shutout Sunday of the Astros. Overall, he is a team-best 6-7 with a 4.03 ERA.”

Paul Maholm? Eh. The news that the Dodgers are talking to the Pirates about this guy doesn’t get me excited (57 Ks and 40 walks in 114+ innings of work), but he most likely is going to be the type of starting pitcher the Dodgers eventually acquire before the trading deadline.  He won’t cost them a ton in terms of prospects (hopefully), and also won’t cost them that much in terms of salary this season and next year (per a tweet from DodgersFYI, “Maholm is owed $5.75M in ’11 % has a 9.75 club option in ’12 that can increase to $11.05M with a $750k buyout”).  No word yet on who the Dodgers may have to give up to land Maholm.

On the plus side, Ned Colletti told Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times that he’s not planning on moving Matt Kemp:

“I’ve never floated his name,” General Manager Ned Colletti said. “He’s a gifted, five-tool player. He’s getting better and better. He’s had a tough couple of months. It’s a baseball career. It’s not a baseball two months.

“I have no intention of moving him.”

And trading Andre Ethier would be even crazier than trading Matt Kemp, right?  This is lunacy in my book, but Peter Gammons thinks it’s a possibility (per Steve Dilbeck at the LA Times):

“The one team I keep wondering about if they drop a few games back, if the Dodgers start dropping back, would they talk about Andre Ethier. He’s going to make $10-$12 million next year, the coaching staff feels with their bizarre ownership situation, they don’t want to pay Ethier and might trade him now. That would be a fascinating guy to go after.”

More updates to come…

Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Ethier, Broxton Named MLB All-Stars

It’s official!  Andre Ethier was elected as a starting outfielder for the 2010 National League All-Star Squad, and Jonathan Broxton was named to the pitching staff by skipper Charlie Manuel.

Dylan Hernandez, the erstwhile beat writer for the Los Angeles Times, caught up with Ethier:

“It’s something I never imagined would happen,” Ethier said. “You fight to try to get here to the major leagues. You get here and to be singled out by the fans as one of the top outfielders is certainly something special.”

The road to the All-Star nod hasn’t been easy for Ethier.  Although he’s batting .320 with 13 home runs and 49 RBI, he’s struggled significantly since coming off the DL with a pinkie injury suffered during batting practice.  Still, the honor was certainly deserved, and it’s nice to see baseball fans across the country honor the Dodgers’ young hitter. 

Jonathan Broxton also arrives at the All-Star game after a recent tough go of things.  Although the two-time All-Star has a 3-0 record with 17 saves and a 2.02 ERA (to go along with 52 strikeouts with just seven walks), he did face some tough innings against the Yankees and the Diamondbacks over the past 1o days.  That said, Broxton is the key to the Dodgers’ bullpen and any struggles are simply a blip on his stellar season.

And while a case could be made for either Rafael Furcal or Hong-Chih Kuo making the team, the worst All-Star snub in my opinion goes to Joey Votto, the first baseman of the Cincinnati Reds.  He’s only hitting .312 with 19 HR and 57 RBI.  The problem is that Votto’s competition, Ryan Howard, plays for the same Phillies manager that picks the reserves, and he went with his guy.  I get it, that’s the way the game is played.  Managers often pick “their guys” and bigger names traditionally win out over regular players like Joey Votto.  That’s who the fans want, right?

My problem is when this happens to a guy who is leading his team this year and is actually a legitimate MVP candidate for the first half of the season.  Those guys deserve to be named All-Stars, and it’s a crime when they don’t get the chance.  I’m no fan of the Cincinnati Reds, but this is just wrong. 

Here’s a little more on the Joey Votto situation from SI.com’s Joe Posnanski:

We’ll have more about the Reds’ Joey Votto in a minute… but the truth basically seems to be that he was left off the list for Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard. Now, THIS YEAR that’s ludicrous. Votto hasn’t just been better than Ryan Howard in every single way possible — but he’s been A LOT better in every single way possible. His on-base percentage is 61 points better, his slugging percentage is 68 points better, his OPS+ is 35 points better, his defense at first base has been about three or four grades better, even his TEAM has been better, which isn’t necessarily relevant to the conversation but certainly can’t hurt the guy.

So, comparing half-season to half-season, this is no contest, Votto is a slam-dunk, no-doubt choice over Howard. But is that really what the All-Star Game is about? You might think so. I might think so. But someone else might think, no, the All-Star Game is about having the biggest stars perform in front of the fans. And over the last five years, Ryan Howard has been a much bigger star than Joey Votto — he has won an MVP and finished second in another year, he has hit more home runs than any player in baseball, he has led the league in RBIs three times, and he has been a central figure in the Phillies’ renaissance. Fan voting is obviously a flawed way of looking at things, but it is true that 500,000 more people voted for Howard than Votto.

Fortunately, fans still have a chance to right this wrong (along with a few others) by taking advantage of the All-Star Final Vote.  Until 1:00 p.m. PT on Thursday, fans can vote on the final addition to each team’s roster.  Hopefully Votto will get what he deserves and will join Ethier and Broxton on the field in Anaheim for the 2010 National League All-Star team.

Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2010