October 2, 2014

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

Post-Game Comments from Torre, Martin, Broxton, Kuroda (June 8)

Joe Torre:

On the game as a whole:

“It was a classic.  That’s post-season baseball right there.  Great pitching on both sides.  Carpenter did an amazing job at getting out of jams.  They made plays.  Kuroda, that’s as good as you want to see him right there.  It was a great game.  If they had beaten us, I’d still have to say it was a great game, just the way things played out.”

On Kuroda:

“It looks like he was very aggressive.  It looked like he was pretty much doing what he wanted to.  It looked like the ball was really alive, movement wise, and he was locating it.  I think that he had as good of command as he’s had since early in the season.”

On Ethier:

“It is just a matter of timing for me.  You saw him hit that ball the other way with two strikes from the left-hander, you know he is back and comfortable.”

On Manny:

“It looked like he tried to pull.  He was hitting the ball on the ground.  Stayed inside the ball that last time and hit the ball hard to right field.”

Hiroki Kuroda (through his interpreter):

On his pitching overall:

“Most of my key pitches were moving. The sinker, slider and also splitter…were all good today.”

On facing Chris Carpenter:

“Before the game I didn’t really have the time to think about the other pitcher.  I just was worried about how I was going to pitch today and how to get outs on other hitters.”

Russell Martin:

On Kuroda:

“His command was great today.  Good velocity on his fastball and good movement on it too.  His two-seamer was working well for him.  He really had all his pitches tonight: his two-seamer, his slider working well, his splitty as well and also using his cutter.

From the first inning, he was throwing 95 and getting that good sink.  Just with that pitch alone, he can get away with just having that pitch.  Today’s the day where he had everything. So you know when you have all those weapons that you can use, that there’s a lot of different things you can use to get the hitters off balance.

On hearing that the surgery for the little girl who fractured her skull during batting practice on Monday was going to be ok:

“Earlier today, I heard the news, and definitely felt a bit better. It definitely was on my mind yesterday, the whole day, and it was good to hear the good news.”

On playing 0-0 games:

“It means that you’re doing things well, playing good defense and pitching well.  The hitting part, you’ve got an ace on the other side.  You get a win against him, you’re happy, no matter how you get it.”

On Chris Carpenter:

“He had his good stuff today.  Good curveball, command.  Not really leaving anything over the middle of the plate.  Every time you’re up there, it’s a battle against him.”

On Manny’s big hit:

“I don’t know how he hit that ball – it seems like he got jammed a little bit.  That’s a good sign when he’s able to stay inside the ball like that and drive it the other way.  That’s when he’s at his best, so it’s good to see that.”

On Broxton’s 11 pitch battle with Pujols:

“When you get in those situations, the great hitters just get even better.  And you could tell right there, he was fighting off some really good pitches.  Good thing we had one of the best closers in the game out there.  That’s what Pujols does, he’ll just wear you out until you make a mistake and then capitalize on that, but fortunately Broxton just came through, kept making good pitches.”

Jonathan Broxton:

On the ninth inning:

The heart of the order coming up.  I just had to go out there and make pitches…I did.”

On his battle with Pujols:

“I was just out there trying to go pitch for pitch…trying to see what he’s doing with the ball.  He kept fouling off some good pitches.  I finally just had to bury one.”

“It felt like it was a long time.  I had to keep going with good pitches and good location.  I couldn’t make a mistake.”

Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2010

Dodgers Unveil 2010 Bobblehead Lineup

The Dodgers have unveiled the lucky players that will be immortalized as bobbleheads in 2o10 (drum roll, please):

May 18 - Andre Ethier

June 8 – Jonathan Broxton

July 20 – James Loney

August 17 – Matt Kemp

I like that the club is focusing on the young stars this year, although I would LOVE to see the team give the fans a vote for a fifth bobblehead.  Everyone remembers the enthusiasm that was generated for the Joe Beimel bobblehead campaign – a fan favorite and an unlikely choice to say the least.

And to get everone in the spirit, once again, here are The Adventures of Lil’ Matt (circa 2009)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4Q02w9MNQU&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

Broxton, Dodgers Roll Through NL West

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Let’s face it, things are pretty damn good in Dodgertown right now: the sun is shining, it’s going to be near 90 degrees today, the team has reeled off seven straight wins, the starting pitching has been solid (a combined 3.26 ERA for the staff as a whole; third best in the NL), Ethier’s super hot (4 HRs and 13 RBI), the team is hitting .284 (second in the NL) and Manny’s starting to find his swing with a pair of bombs yesterday.

Probably the most exciting performances is that of Jonathan Broxton: six games, four saves, 11 strikeouts, a 1.35 ERA and a 0.15 WHIP.  Are you kidding me?  Not sure Brox can keep that sort of pitching all year, but you’ve got the love the fire this team is playing with. 

Sure, things are fantastic right now, but how much of this is the team, and how much of this is the traditionally anemic play of the clubs in the NL West?  I think the real litmus test will be when we play the NL Central and the Eastern teams.  But for now, I’m going to enjoy the ride, and hope that James McDonald can get in on all of the positive mojo and complete the sweep of the Rockies.