July 31, 2014

Kemp Ties Club Home Run Record for April in Dodgers Loss

First the good news: Matt Kemp continued his amazing April with his 10th home run in the first month of the season, typing Gary Sheffield’s club record from April 2000.

Sure, Kemp has made a few questionable decisions this season (he had a couple of base running and fielding issues last night), but the guy has been lights out at the plate and generally in the field, driving in 23 RBI with a .449 AVG, a .513 OBP and a .942 slugging percentage.  That prediction of 50 home runs doesn’t seem so far fetched right about now (no comment on the 50 SB prediction), but regardless, Kemp is clearly playing like the best player in baseball and he’s a joy for Dodger fans to watch night in and night out.

And from Jon Weisman I learned that Ted Lilly has taken over the major-league ERA lead at 0.90…not bad for the old man!

Now for the bad news: Unfortunately for the Dodgers, the team blew a 2-1 lead in the 9th against the Braves when Javy Guerra gave up what seemed like an endless stream of hits (it was five) after getting smashed in the jaw with a line drive.  You’ve got to wonder about Mattingly’s decision to leave Guerra in the game after the jaw shot, but to be fair the guy did look good to go on TV.  Can’t say I would have acted differently than Mattingly.

Anyway, this all led to a 4-2 loss, dropping the Dodgers to 13-6 on the season…but hey, they still lead the NL West, right?

Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers 2012

My Thoughts on Ted Lilly’s Return to LA

I realized I hadn’t commented on the return of Ted Lilly (well, outside of Twitter) so wanted to officially weigh in on his return to the Dodgers.  To recap, Lilly signed a three-year contract worth a total of $33 million.  At nearly 35, Lilly isn’t exactly a spring chicken, but he is a durable, consistent starting pitcher that’s had a high degree of success throughout his career. 

Most importantly, he’s a veteran who knows how to win and will be an excellent mentor to both Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw in the years ahead.  I think this is just one of many intangibles that are often overlooked by fans and bloggers when assessing whether or not a free agent signing or trade is a success or not.  Yes, bringing back Lilly shows the Dodgers are willing to spend money to improve the club, but more importantly it shows they are willing to invest in a quality starting pitcher.

Plus, Lilly’s a really good guy and character matters when building a baseball team. 

Like many fans, I would have liked for the deal to have been for two years instead of three.  But the reality is that Lilly would have commanded three years in today’s free agent market and I’m not opposed to spending the extra $11 million if that’s what it takes to bring him back.

Lilly had solid success while in LA (and was simply amazing upon his arrival), going 7-4 with a 3.52 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP in 12 starts.  For the season, Lilly was 10-12 with a 3.62 ERA.  I’m sure Lilly recognized that his season really turned around when he came to the Dodgers, and was a factor in him resigning vs. testing the free agent market and probably obtaining a slightly larger contract elsewhere.  Whatever the reason, I’m glad he’s back and will look forward to him pitching and representing LA for the next few years while he’s in Dodger Blue.

Now for a #4 starter…any ideas?

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Danny Moloshok

Dodgers’ Post-Game Comments from Torre, Lilly and Martin

Here are the post-game comments from Joe Torre, Russell Martin and Ted Lilly on tonight’s win over the San Diego Padres:

From Joe Torre:

On Lilly’s performance:

“Lilly made it look easy.  This kid is really calm.  He’s got a lot of passion inside, but he’s very calm.  Certainly when you go to a new club, it’s nice to be able to pay dividends right away.  Oswalt struggled somewhat in his first outing… I think Haren struggled a little bit.  It was nice to see him give us that game.  And we needed every bit of it.  He gave up two hits, the home run and the base hit in the first inning.  He made it look easy.  Russell was like sitting in a rocking chair.”

On taking Lilly out after the 7th inning, despite retiring 20 batters in a row:

“If I don’t have Kuo to go to, we may have to rethink it.  Kuo has been pretty much lights out.”

On Broxton:

“Brox, we need to get him back, because he certainly is too important for us to not have him.  This is going to be good for his confidence.  He went after the middle of the lineup and it was a good outing for him.”

On the possibility of using Kuo in the ninth inning:

“No, you can’t do that. Half the battle in this game is showing confidence in somebody.  I’d rather pay the price then not do that.”

On Martin:

“He’s going to have an MRI and we’ll hold our breath and see what we have.  He just felt a little click in the right hip.  It didn’t happen, I don’t think, in the contact at the plate.  It happened when he went by into the grass.  Maybe he stopped himself or stepped wrong or whatever it was.”

On winning the game:

“We beat one of the better pitchers, and we have to come out here tomorrow and hopefully we can build on this.”

On intentionally walking Gonzalez in the ninth inning:

“I was torn there, because Brox is like 1 for 11 with 5 strikeouts against him.  But the thing that bothered me more than anything is with a man on second base, we’re sort of compromising our defense, because we’re going to keep him close and we’ll keep the big hole on that left side.  He burned us a couple times in San Diego with groundball base hits to left.  So when I saw him take that swing on the second pitch, I said that was enough for me and just tried to play the percentages there.”

From Russell Martin:

On tweaking his right hip:

“I still have some mobility, but obviously I don’t have all of it.  We’ll get the MRI tomorrow and we’ll see what happens.  I know I can play with this, it’s just whether or not, if I play with it, is it going to get worse?  Those are the types of things that I’m worried about.”

On choosing not to slide on the play:

“[The play] looked like it was going to be bang, bang.  I was indecisive on whether to hit him…I don’t want to hit the catcher when he doesn’t have the ball in his hand.  It was so bang, bang that it caught me in-between.”

From Ted Lilly:

On his first game with the Dodgers:

“Coming up through the minor leagues, this was the goal, every day: to get a chance to pitch for the Dodgers.  This is a special night for me, no question about it.”

On coming out of the game after retiring 20 batters in a row:

“I felt good.  I’m not going to question Joe.  He’s been pretty successful and with the bullpen that we have, the bottom line is, do whatever it takes to win the game.  It’s not so much trying to concern yourself with what your individual numbers are.  It was nice to win the game tonight.”