April 24, 2014

News & Notes (Including Zach Lee & Matt Kemp)

Lots of good stuff from the Dodger blogosphere (even while the team is 12 games out with virtually no shot of the playoffs).  Here are some of my favorites from the past week:

The Signing of Zach Lee

I’ve got to give credit to Ned Colletti and team for this one.  A GREAT signing and a real feather in the cap of Assistant GM Logan White.  Here’s a nice recap of Lee’s potential (as well as the other draft signings) from Tony Jackson.  The Dodgers really did a nice job (and spent quite a bit of money for once) in getting this done.  A potential 2012 lineup of Billingsley, Kershaw and Lee is pretty damn exciting.

There’s also a great video on the Dodger Media Network showing that Zach Lee was Logan White’s great white whale of the draft.  It’s a well done piece, and a nice look behind the scenes.

Criticizing Kemp

Steve Dilbeck wrote an interesting column today about fans’ perceptions about the performance of Matt Kemp and how any writer who criticizes Kemp is immediately jumped on by rabid fans.  I don’t remember this happening when Chad Billingsley stumbled down the stretch last season.

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

The Bison Delivers!

Two nights, two walk-off wins for the Dodgers!  Rather than recap the night’s festivities, I thought I’d let the photographs of Dodgers photographer Jon SooHoo do the talking.  But it’s safe to say, a huge night for both John Ely and Matt “Bison” Kemp!

I’ll be in the press box for tomorrow’s day game against the D-Backs when Edwin Jackson returns to Chavez Ravine!  Email any questions you would like me to ask of Joe, Edwin or any of the Dodgers starters to chris@dodgerfan.net

Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo / LA Dodgers 2010

Is Matt Kemp “an Issue in the Clubhouse” for the Dodgers?

If you trust the sources of ESPN LA’s Tony Jackon, then yes.  According to the transcript of an online chat from earlier this week, Jackson had the following exchange with a Dodger fan named Earl:

Earl (LA, CA)

Wow, if Kemp gets traded for anyone, I would be bummed.Do you feel that would be a big mistake for the Dodgers to trade Kemp for a frontline starter, despite what Colleti thinks about him?I think Colleti exaggerated the issues of Kemp, personally.

Tony Jackson (6:41 PM)

Earl, I have it on good authority (NOT from Colletti, from others) that if anything, Ned UNDERSTATED the issues with Kemp. This kid is really full of himself, to the point that it is becoming an issue in the clubhouse. I’m not saying they WILL trade him. I still think there is less than a 50-percent chance that they will. I’m just saying that if they do trade one of their core young players, he probably will be the one, not only because of these issues but also because he would have the most value.

————–

Earl (LA, CA)

Wow, Tony, didn’t know that about Kemp. I just don’t think you can afford to let a talent like his go. Do you think its just a simple case of immaturity?I mean a lot of ball players start out cocky, but mature and settle down with age. Kemp could be no different.

Tony Jackson (6:50 PM)

well, if it’s immaturity, he has had plenty of time to outgrow it. Based on what I’m told, he hasn’t outgrown it yet. None of this is terribly surprising, just judging from the way he handles himself with the media. He is difficult to deal with, and I’m told that isn’t limited to the media.

After reading the full transcript, as well as the reflections of my blogging brethren over at Memories of Kevin Malone and Vin Scully is my Homeboy, I found myself thinking a lot about this exchange and found it really interesting for a number of reasons.

First, like many Dodger bloggers and fans, I really enjoy and respect Tony Jackson as a writer and his perspective on things related to the club.  He’s with the Dodgers day in and day out, and he knows his beat.  So if Jackson says he has sources that indicate that Kemp is “really full of himself” and “becoming an issue in the clubhouse” then I’m going to pay attention.  That said, I’ve personally covered a handful of games over the past year, and (in my very limited interactions) I’ve always found Matt Kemp to be a straightforward guy.  For example, I was at the second home game of the season when the Dodgers lost to the Diamondbacks in a five hour marathon.  Kemp had a couple bone-headed fielding plays, including one that allowed the eventual winning run to score.  Yet there he was, being a man and answering the difficult questions in the clubhouse after the game.

I am, however, surprised that Tony Jackson’s comments aren’t a bigger deal.  Saying that one of the Dodgers’ biggest young stars has issues is newsworthy, but I’m guessing that as long as it doesn’t divide the clubhouse or cause problems on the field, then there’s no reason to make a mountain out of a mole hill, right?  I’m probably most surprised that this came out in a chat on ESPN LA, rather in one of Tony’s regular articles.  Jackson seems to know what he’s talking about here, and I’d be curious to know why it wouldn’t be a bigger story, either at ESPN or in the eyes of other mainstream media outlets.  Food for thought.

Dodgers Post-Game Comments After 11 Inning Marathon

Well, after 4 hours and 57 minutes, 16 pitchers and 33 hits, the Dodgers lose an exasperating 9 to 7 game to the Diamondbacks in 11 innings. Tonight’s game was the longest for the Dodgers since July 14, 2001 when they played a 4 hour, 58 minute game against the Oakland A’s (the Dodgers won that one 5-4 in 15 innings).  And as it’s now 1:02 a.m. and I’m still in the Dodger Stadium press box, I’m going to get right to the post-game quotes:

Joe Torre:

On Chad Billingsley: “He got in some bad counts and I think he started over-throwing the ball in that last inning.  It is frustrating for him because his first three innings were really good and his last start was really good and I know this is a disappointment for him.”

On keeping pressure off the relievers: “I think ability-wise they can do it.  It is a matter of going out there and not thinking they have the weight of the world on their shoulders.  We’ll get through it…we just have to make sure we don’t lose our composure.”

On the offense and closing out games: “Offensively, we’re fine.  We’re having good at bats, quality at bats, doing some good things.  Casey Blake with a big hit tonight for us, Manny is swinging the bat really well.  The thing is, you can’t run the clock out on this game.  You have to get 27 outs and we have to find a way to do that on a consistent basis.”

On who would pitch the 12th inning (if necessary): “It would have been one of those guys on the field…we would have found a volunteer in there somewhere…we may have gone lefty righty, back and forth.”

Matt Kemp:

On the game overall: “It was a fight.  Two good hitting teams, and we battled it out.  At the end, they ended up coming out on the right side.”

On the team’s slow start: “I’m not worried about.  We still got 150 games left.  It’s not time to panic; we’ve got a lot of games left.  We still got a great team and we’re capable of doing a lot of great things.  We can’t always start out the way we did last year.  We’re not that hot right now, but we’ve got a great team and we’re going to end up on top at the end.”

On the ball that dropped for a single in the bottom of the 10th inning (I think): “I played deep, but that’s no excuse.  I should have got to the ball.  It was high enough to get there….it should have been caught.”

On the way they played:  “We never give up…that shows the character of the team.  We’ve got great character, we never give up and we battle to the end.”

 Good night!