December 20, 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

Russell Martin Done for the Season?

After watching the play at the plate during the second inning of Tuesday night’s game when Russell Martin injured himself, I wasn’t that concerned.  It just didn’t look that bad.  And in talking to Russell after the game, he also didn’t seem that concerned about the play or the injury.

“[The play] looked like it was going to be bang, bang,” said Martin. “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.”

Martin went on to talk about how his hip was feeling after the game.  “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.”

Unfortunately, the MRI results showed a torn labrum in his hip, and Martin is off to the disabled list.  But the long-term impact could be even more devastating for the Dodgers this season.

Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts spoke with injury expert Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus who noted that Martin is likely done for the season and could need surgery with a three to four-month recovery time.  That would leave the Dodgers with the offensively underwhelming catching duo of Brad Ausmus and A.J. Ellis.  It also makes Ned Colletti’s decision on what to do with Martin in 2011 that much more difficult.

In other news, Randy Rosetta of The Advocate newspaper of Baton Rouge, LA notes that first round draft pick Zach Lee remains unsigned by the Dodgers and is currently on campus as a member of the LSU football team, where he is projected to be a future quarterback.  From the article:

“‘I think his want to be a college student and to play both championship football and baseball is still (at the) forefront there,’ [LSU head football coach Les] Miles said after he dramatically leaned over and knocked on the nearest wood he could find.”

Now the Dodgers have yet to make an official offer, but they have until August 16th to sign Lee.  The newspaper notes that Lee could theoretically sign with the Dodgers and still play football, but definitely not baseball.  I just don’t see Ned going down that route, given how expensive it’s going to be for the Dodgers to sign the kid.  And given the radio silence from all parties on contract negotiations, I don’t have much faith this deal is going to get done by the deadline (cue the conspiracy theorists who claim the Dodgers only drafted Lee because they knew he was unsignable…something GM Ned Colletti adamantly denies).

Now we wait…

Photo Credit: JonSooHoo/LA Dodgers 2010

Dodgers Select Zach Lee with First Round Pick

Ah, draft day.  It doesn’t have the flash and pzazz of the NFL or even the NBA drafts, but it’s still important for the future of MLB clubs. 

Today, the Dodgers selected right-handed pitcher Zachary Lee from McKinney (Texas) High School with the 28th selection in the first round pick of the draft.  Lee is 6-foot-4, 195 pounds with a 93-mph fastball, as well as a full arsenal of other pitches, including a changeup and slider.

More on Lee from the Dodgers:

Lee, a 6-foot-4, 195-pounder, was a two-sport athlete in high school, starring in both football and baseball. The 18-year-old won 11 games during his senior season with a 2.15 ERA and 90 strikeouts. He throws three different pitches for strikes, including an effective breaking pitch and changeup. As a quarterback, Lee passed for 2,565 years and 31 touchdowns last fall and has committed to play both sports at Louisiana State University.

“We are happy to have selected such a fine competitive young man and athlete such as Zach,” said White. “He has a chance to be a quality Major League pitcher.”

Lee entered the draft as the 14th-best right-handed pitcher and ranked 29th overall among draft-eligible prospects according to Baseball America.

Lee does sound great, right?  But there’s thatcatch: Zach Lee has also committed to LSU where he’s received a scholarship to play quarterback, as well as baseball.  Jim Alexander of the Long Beach Press-Enterprise said the following in a series of tweets:

Dodgers VP Logan White: Zach Lee is a “very good quarterback, but an outstanding pitcher.”  White said he’s optimistic McCourt will allow him to go over the normal slot for a 28th pick if necessary to sign Lee.  White: “The talent level is so good, it’d be sad if we didn’t take the chance.”  White said he hadn’t thought of a contract that would allow Lee to play football as well, but is focused on just getting him signed.

Mark Dent of the Dallas Morning News’ High School Sports Blog had the following assesment of Lee:

For Lee, the question already hovered in the air before the draft: Would he play professional baseball or would he go to college and play quarterback at LSU?

Now the decision just got tougher for Lee. No one would argue that Lee is worthy of a spot this high in the draft based on talent, but plenty wondered if he’d get taken so high given that he appeared interested in keeping his commitment to LSU.

The Dodgers, who have some of the deepest pockets in baseball, are just the team that could try and make a run at Lee and bring him to the Major Leagues.

This spring, Lee had 11 victories and had a 2.15 ERA and 90 strikeouts.

Ok, the “some of the deepest pockets in baseball” comment made me laugh, but in all seriousness, Logan White and Ned Colletti are the men that can get this done and get Lee in a Dodger uniform ASAP.

But there’s a potential darker motivation to drafting of Zach Lee.  Could the Dodgers have actually have drafted him with the understanding that they probably can’t sign him?  Dylan Hernandez tweeted tonight:

Logan White adamantly denied that the Dodgers purposely selected an unsignable player to save money. “I can only give you my word,” he said.

Maybe it’s the way I approach life, but I can’t believe the Dodgers would ever intentionally draft someone that they didn’t think they had a shot of signing.  That would be a very, very bad sign for the credibility of the organization and I can’t believe ownership would risk that to save a few million.  Sure, the Dodgers are trying to steal the kid away from LSU, but Logan White and team have got to feel like they have a shot if they’re going to take a chance on drafting him, right?  Here’s a little more from Hernandez on the Dodgers first round selection.

Eric Stephen of True Blue LA and Chad Moriyama of Memories of Kevin Malone have even more on Zach Lee, so be sure and see what makes this guy worthy of a first round selection and some of the challenges that come with signing the high school graduate.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out!  Regardless, congratulations Zach!