December 20, 2014

Kershaw Wins, Jones Loses, Dodgers Sweep

Wow. Today was a crazy day for the Dodgers.

Clayton Kershaw has certainly been coming along, and today’s 2-0 win, which featured six innings without any runs, was the best outing yet in his 10 game major league career.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, make it back to the .500 mark but still trail the D-Backs by a game as everyone in the NL west seems to win and lose in synchronicity these days.

In other news, Andruw “Tubbo” Jones finally got a $36 million dollar wake-up call. Jones and his .166 batting average will be riding the pine as the Dodgers take on the Giants in their upcoming series. He got a brief appearance against the Nationals but Andre Ethier is the man who has been asked to do what Jones can’t – hit the ball. Jones has been told to spend time with the hitting coaches and that those with better batting averages will be filling his spot until further notice.

Welcome Casey Blake!

Cleveland Indians' Casey Blake, right, and Grady Sizemore celebrate after Blake's two-run home run against the Los Angeles Angels in the fifth inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Monday, July 21, 2008.

Finally!  On Saturday morning, the Dodgers pulled the trigger and landed 3B Casey Blake from the Indians for a pair of lower-tier minor leaguers giving them a solid bat at one of the positions where one was desperately needed: third base.  He also gives the Dodgers a ton of flexibility, playing first base as well as in the outfield when needed.

Let’s first talk about Blake’s numbers: he’s hitting .289, 11 HR, 58 RBI.  Nice.  Sure, he’s a free agent after this season, but there’s no reason to think that Casey can’t re-sign with the Dodgers who will be looking for a replacement for Raffy Furcal.  Plus, this guy plays hard and the Dodgers need gamers.  I bet he and Jeff Kent are going to get along famously.

Plus the guy is a clutch hitter, hitting .398 with runners in scoring position (something the Dodgers most certainly are not this year).  If you want to get as psyched as we are about this trade, check out this article in yesterday’s Cleveland Plain Dealer: “The Mighty Casey: Blake Maintains Pace as Tribe’s Best in Clutch in ’08”

This year, the Tribe’s versatile third baseman entered Friday’s series opener with Minnesota hitting .402 with men in scoring position, .326 with runners on second or third with two out and .600 with the bases loaded. But he is hard-pressed to explain it.

“I’m not doing anything different. … I tried to keep the same approach [as 2007], and that’s why it’s so weird,” said Blake, who is hitting .287 (92-for-321) with 11 homers and 58 RBI. “It’s one of those things. I just try to hit the ball hard somewhere.”

Blake said he hopes that fans appreciate his blue-collar work ethic and said it is a privilege to roll up his sleeves everyday and go to work.

“I’m not real flashy … I don’t believe in that,” Blake said. “I show up every day ready to play hard. … I’ve had some tough times here [with the fans] but I’m glad they’re embracing me. It’s nice to have them on my side.”

In return, the Indians will receive Carlos Santana, a catcher in the Class A California League where he has 14 homers and is hitting .323.  Also acquired in the deal is AAA pitcher Jon Meloan who is 5-10, but is also a strikeout machine, racking up 335 in 262 innings.

Sure the Dodgers gave up some potential major league talent in this deal, but the NL West is ripe for the picking and the Dodgers managed to strike first in a big way while not giving up the farm in the process.  Nice job Ned, but you’re not done yet!

Sabathia Gone, Dodgers Going After Wilson?

While I know I’ve spouted off about the need to make a deal (especially for a shortstop), trading Matt Kemp for Jack Wilson straight-up is sheer lunacy! Kemp is one of the brightest stars of the Dodgers’ future, and trading him for an average shortstop is ridiculous. Yes, the club could win the NL West with the right move, but this isn’t going to put them over the top in terms of winning the pennant. This would be a move made by Ned out of sheer desperation and is cause for immediate dismissal. Surely the Dodgers brain trust can see the disaster that this move would bring with the fans, right? I’m trusting that after all the time Ned has spent defending the younger players, that he wouldn’t just go out and trade Kemp the moment he decided one or more were expendable.

At the very least, you would hope the Dodgers would package 1-2 of their high-profile younger players/prospects together for two of the following three holes: a #1 starter, a big bat and a quality shortstop. But trading Kemp for an average (albeit solid) shortstop, is just wrong. Hopefully this is just a rumor, but time will tell. You just never know with Ned.

Dodgers Trade Analysis – What We Need, and What We Don’t

The rumor mill has the Dodgers going after the Indians’ C.C. Sabathia and shortstop Jack Wilson from the Pirates according to Ken Rosenthal from FOX Sports. Rosenthal implies that Andy LaRoche, minor league pitcher James McDonald and shortstop Chin-Lung Hu could be some of the players potentially headed to Cleveland.

Now those would be some moves. In my opinion, help at shortstop is the clear priority with Furcal likely done for the season. You can never argue with adding a #1 starter to your pitching staff, but that’s not where the Dodgers really need the help. The Dodgers are currently leading the NL with a 3.70 ERA. Clearly the pitching staff is producing, and is on the upswing with Kuroda coming back and Kershaw waiting in the wings in the minors.

What the Dodgers desperately, desperately need is hitting (Jason Bay and Matt Holliday are at the top of my list). As I mentioned yesterday, there is no way the Dodgers are going to advance in the playoffs without some big bats producing for the team. If you’re not going to hit home runs (the Dodgers are ranked 15 out of 16 NL teams with just 60 HRs), then you need clutch hitting, and that’s something this team does not do well either. To date, they’ve generated 330 RBI, placing them a meager 14 out of 16 teams. I’m not saying that I don’t want Sabathia on the Dodgers, but picking up an ace is going to mean absolutely nothing without having the run support behind him.

As for “the kids,” the Dodgers need to get better, and not all of their young players are going to turn into All-Stars. Ned has shown a proficiency in identifying the best players to keep and the ones to move. Right now, I think LaRoche could be a great bargaining chip. We have depth at 3B with DeWitt and Nomar, and Loney is really showing some fantastic hustle and pop with the bat, making the stock of the first baseman a lot higher than Andy’s in my opinion. Now is the time to make a move, and Ned, this is your chance to save your job. Let’s make it happen.

Speedy Gonzalez Goes Down

It’s hard to believe, but Juan Pierre’s sprained MCL was the first injury the speedy outfielder has received that’s caused him to land on the DL. Pierre has 35 steals, placing him second in the majors, one behind Willy Taveras. Replacing Juan (if that can be done) is Jason Repko who’s up from AAA. Repko’s batted .375 (39-for-104) with eight doubles, 15 RBI, and eight steals in 26 games in June, which is good considered Juan’s only supposed to be gone for 15 days. Here’s to a (ahem) “speedy” recovery for Mr. Pierre!

Game update: Unfortunately that hot month in AAA didn’t carry over in the bigs. Repko was 0-5 tonight with four strikeouts, leaving four men stranded. I think I can hear that choking sound from Houston all the way out here in Santa Monica.