The Cubs traded second baseman Darwin Barney and cash considerations to the Dodgers on Monday for a player to be named later. The Cubs had previously designated the 28-year-old Barney, who is known for his outstanding glove work and horrendous hitting, for assignment on July 22nd.
Barney won the Gold Glove in 2012 after tying a Major League single-season record with 141 consecutive errorless games, but batted .254 in the same year. This season he’s batting .230 with 10 doubles, two triples, two home runs and 16 RBIs in 72 games. Barney has hit .244 with 88 doubles, 18 home runs and 146 RBIs in his career.
Since he’s not very handy with the bat I can’t see Barney getting to many starts. His role with the team will most likely be coming off the bench as a defensive replacement late in games, while getting the occasional start to give Dee Gordon a day off. Barney is not an inspirational acquisition, but a safe one. With Alex Guerrero far from ready to come up from the minors this year, it’s a smart move. The Dodgers get a really solid backup glove in the middle infield at relatively no cost, as “the player to be named later” will most likely be a low-level, non prospect, minor league player.
On Thursday, the Dodgers wrapped up their three game series with the Giants with a much-needed win after dropping the first two games of the series. This was one of the most disappointing series so far this season, mainly because well, it’s the Giants. Dodger fans alike take losing a series to the Giants harder than losing to any other team. The series was weird in a way because it was definitely a tale of two sides of the Dodgers that was not to be expected. In fact if I would have told you what would happen before the series began, I don’t think to many people would have thought I was being serious.
Everyone knew that game 3 starter Hyun-Jin Ryu would pitch well during his start. Now if someone would have said both Josh Beckett and Paul Maholm would only give up a run combined during their two starts, I would have laughed at them in humorous disbelief. To my amazement they did, though it wasn’t smooth waters by any means. Combined Ryu, Beckett, and Maholm stat line was 18 IP, 9 SO, 1 ER and a 0.50 ERA. The bullpen was a little shaky but decent. In their defense they pitched a lot this series going a combined for 12 2/3 IP, 5 SO, 4 ER, and a 2.84 ERA. With that kind of pitching you would expect to win the series right? Wrong.
What people would not have believed is that he Dodgers hitting would be just ridiculously bad. Unfortunately that’s exactly what it was. It definitely didn’t look like a championship lineup out there this week. As a team they hit for a .255 BA (25-98) but the real problem was they couldn’t hit when they had chances to score runs. There were a few time this week when the dodgers had the bases loaded and couldn’t push across a single run. In fact the Dodgers bats hit .192 (5-26) with runners in scoring position and left 24 runners on base. I don’t care how good you think you are, you will not win many series posting those kind of numbers. Not to mention Hanley Ramirez getting plunked on the hand by a pitch, adding injury to insult, and was out of the lineup for the last game.
Leaving runners on base and in scoring position is something the Dodgers struggled with last season too. According to www.teamrankings.com, the Dodgers had an average of 3.62 runners left in scoring position and of 7.17 runners left on base per game. This season hasn’t fared any better in the early going for the Dodgers. So far in 2014 the Dodgers have an average of 4.06 runners left in scoring position and of 7.00 runners left on base per game. This is a lineup built to score but at times they seem to struggle with stringing hits together. If the Dodgers have hopes of going to the World Series anytime soon, this is a trend that must stop.
The Rangers claimed Rule 5 righty Seth Rosin, and the White Sox claimed reliever Javy Guerra from the Dodgers on Wednesday. While Guerra seemed to be a lost cause for the Dodgers, Rosin on the other hand was coming out of a very good spring training and was one player I really wanted to see make it.
Rosin would have been a good addition to the bullpen and a great weapon to have in your back pocket. Being a former starter for the Phillies double A club last year means he could go out for more than an inning of work. While he may not have been headed to being a top of the rotation starter, he was defiantly on his way to being an above average reliever, with Rosin dropping his below average changeup, and sticking to a really good fastball-slider combination instead. Look at how Chris Withrow has gone from starting to relieving for example.
With the Dodgers pitching coaches with him, and the fact the Rosin is only 25 years old, I feel that the Dodgers could be missing out on a really good piece in the pen for a years to come. The Dodgers also paid the Mets $50 thousand dollars to pick Rosin in the Rule 5 Draft. I know money doesn’t matter to the Dodgers, but I just thought I’d throw it out there that they are literally throwing that money in the trash, but I guess that’s nothing new.
Two factors kept Rosin from making the Dodgers. One happens to be that the Dodgers have a really good bullpen already. It’s hard to find room for a spot when you have proven pitchers like Rodriguez, Howell, Withrow, Perez, Wilson and Jansen. So I can see, from the Dodgers front office point of view, why a pitcher like Rosin is expendable. To them it doesn’t really matter that they spent $50 thousand dollars on a player to pitch four spring training games just to give him away to the Rangers. After all the Dodgers have wasted a lot more money than that on below average players.
Speaking of wasting money on below average players, that brings me to reason number two, Brandon League. Instead of having a pitcher that could be useful like Rosin in the pen, the Dodgers are burning $7.5 million dollars a year, for two more agonizing years, for a pitcher that even they don’t really want to use. Now, who’s to say for certain that Rosin would still be a Dodger even if League wasn’t on the team, but League is using up a roster spot that could definitely go to someone more deserving of it. Instead of having a spot for a young player hungry for a chance in the Majors, the spot is wasting away on a player who’s walking the shores of Southern California looking for his career because it’s washed up.
predicted this would happen back in his February article for the LA Times. At the end he made a great point of another pitcher who had a good spring and didn’t make the team.
“Now, the Dodgers will tell you these things have a way of working themselves out, though certainly not always. Last year Kevin Gregg was terrific in the spring and Manager Don Mattingly wanted to keep him. Instead, he was let go. He went on to sign with the Cubs and became their closer, saving 33 games.”
While the Dodgers can’t change the past, and unfortunately had to let Rosin go, I wish him good luck with the Rangers. I’ll be looking for his name in the box scores.
The Dodgers are looking for a mini two game sweep of the D-Back tonight, as game two of the series down under resumes at the Sydney Cricket Grounds in Australia. The Dodgers took the first game last night by a score of 3-1.
Hyun-Jin “And Juice” Ryu will take the mound for the Dodgers tonight and try to follow-up a very succesful rookie season where he went 14-8 with 3.00 ERA. Ryu will try to shake those dreaded sophomore blues that tend to strike some second year players. He’ll have to be carefull of Paul “Fools”Goldschmidt tonight. In 14 at bats Goldschmidt is hitting .500 with a homer and 5 RBI’s off of Ryu last season. Ryu is 1-2 with a 4.65 ERA against the D-Backs. Ryu doesn’t have the most dominant stuff, but is more of a pitcher than a thrower so if his command is good tonight watch out.
Facing Ryu for the D-Back will be Trever “Can’t Get It Together” Cahill. Cahill had a very disappointing season last year when he went 8-10 with a 3.99 ERA. He could do it against the Dodgers tonight, as he is 6-0 with 2.01 ERA lifetime against the boys in blue. He’ll have to be carefull for Adrian Gonzalez who has hit .450 with a homer and 3 RBI off of him.
Scott Van “Dam” Slyke, who had a great game one, will be replaced by Mike Baxter in left field, while we’ll see Dee “I like Big Bunts And I Can Not Lie” Gordon playing second base tonight.
The Dodgers and D-backs released their lineups for tonight’s game in Sydney.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Yasiel Puig, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Andre Ethier, CF
A.J. Ellis, C
Mike Baxter, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Hyun-Jin Ryu, P
A.J. Pollock, CF
Aaron Hill, 2B
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
Martin Prado, 3B
Miguel Montero, C
Mark Trumbo, LF
Gerardo Parra, RF
Didi Gregorius, SS
Trevor Cahill, P
The season is finally here, well at least briefly, as the Dodgers and D-Backs open up their two game series in Australia Saturday morning. Though it will be a half a world away this Dodgers fan is excited to see a few meaningful games. My excitement can be summed up in the words of Entourage’s great Ari Gold when he said,“We are gonna get drunk with Russell Crowe and we’re gonna head-butt some goddamn kangaroos.”
Clayton “No Flaw” KKKershaw will get the start for the Dodgers in the land down under. While he might not be one to head-butt kangaroos with me, he is one to completely manhandle a team. Kershaw has had a rough spring by his standards but looks to turn it around in the series opener. Kershaw is 7-6 with a 2.22 ERA lifetime vs. the D-backs. he owns most of the hitters but will have to be mindful when facing Gerardo Parra. Out of all the D-Backs, Parra has had the most success against Kershaw, posting a .333 batting average in 18 career AB against the lefty.
Wade “They Hit It Off Me A” Miley will get the start for the D-Backs. Miley is replacing Patrick Corbin, after Corbin damaged his ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. This change won’t make the game any easier for the Dodgers as Miley is a pretty solid pitcher in his own right. Miley is 3-1 with a 3.59 ERA lifetime about the Dodgers. Keep a lookout for Hanley Ramirez in this game as Ramirez seems to own Miley. Ramirez is batting .455 with a home run and 3 RBI’s in 11 career AB against Miley.
Tim Welke is scheduled to be calling the balls and strikes in the first game of the series. Welke habits in 2013 were calling strikes on 10.46% of balls out of the strikezone. That percentage is the 12th highest for umpires
One thing that is kinda cool for me as a baseball fan, is to see non roster invitee Justin Turner not only make the team, but actually start the first game of the season at second base. Turner earned a spot with the Dodgers after posting a triple slash line of .355/.447/.484 this spring with some solid defence too. It also means we won’t have to see Dee “I Like Big Bunts And I Can Not Lie” Gordon until Sunday.
So get hyped up for a long morning Dodger fans, and get ready to hear Vin Scully, who made the trip to Australia, utter those magic words, “It’s Time For Dodgers Baseball!”
On Thursday, 23-year-old Cuban shortstop Barbaro Erisbel Arruebarrena finally got his visa and showed up to camp. Last month the Dodgers signed Arruebarrena to 5 yr/$25 million dollar contract. Now as much as everybody gets excited about Cuban players, Arruebarrena deffinetly has some question marks in his game and would need to work hard to have a chance to play with the team this season. It’s with good reason to think he’ll play in the minors all year. especially since Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti called Arruebarrena’s offense “a work in progress.”
Arruebarrena, who defected from Cuba in the fall of 2013, is the third prominent Cuban player signed by the Dodgers in a short span, following Yasiel Puig and Alex Guerrero. When asked how he felt about being in camp, Arruebarrena stated, “I’m really excited, not nervous. I’m going to get ready to play baseball. I’m happy to sign with the Dodgers.” Arruebarrena will wear Manny Mota’s No. 11 jersey.
Arruebarrena has all the defensive tools you could ask for in a shortstop (check out the video below), but in a article by Ben Badle, Badle talked to an international scouting director who broke it down how Arruebarrena would fit on a team. “He’s a premium defender at a premium position with questions on the bat,” said the scouting director. “If you’re built well offensively around the field other than shortstop, you can live with that if you get outstanding defense. But the bat is still the question mark.”
As much work as Arruebarrena has in front of him, mostly everyone one agrees that his potential ceiling his very high. It’s also very low risk for a team like the Dodgers who seem to have money to throw away if need be. If Arruebarrena becomes a star it’s a good deal. If he doesn’t, what’s $25 million dollars to owners with deep pockets?
In an article at MLB.com, it stated that Arruebarrena felt he was in shape to play now, but hasn’t played regularly since the winter. Either way, I’m super excited and curious to see what he looks like in his first game.
In the hip hop song “Glamor Life,” Cuban Link says, “If it doesn’t make dollars then it doesn’t make sense.” Well the Dodgers have dollars and Clayton Kershaw definitely makes sense. How much sense does Kershaw make for the Dodgers? About $215 million dollars worth of sense as it was announced on Wednesday that, the Dodgers and Kershaw came to an agreement on a 7 year/$215 million dollar contract extension. The contract also has a player opt out clause after 5 years, which would mean Kershaw could be a free agent at the age of 30.
[Update] On Thursday Joel Sherman of the new york post reported via Twitter that, Kershaw could void his contract before the start of the next season if traded to another team mid-season, or immediately after the season ends if he is traded before the season begins. Further more, if Kershaw is traded in the off-season he would get a one time $3 million dollar bonus. Kershaw could also earn bonuses with the Dodgers. He would get $1 million for winning the Cy Young award or, $500,000 for coming in second or third.
This kind of contract is most deserving for the two reasons. The first reason is his age, while most players get this kind of contract in their peak or tail end of their prime, Kershaw is 2 to 3 years away from entering his prime. The second is his dominance on the mound. Kershaw has proved he’s no flash in the pan talent. With his 1.83 ERA in 2013, Kershaw became only the third pitcher in MLB history to lead the MLB in ERA three years in a row. He’s not just the number one guy for the Dodgers, Kershaw is a “true” ace that could go to any team in the Majors and automatically be their number one guy. That type of pitcher are a rarity in baseball to be sure.
In the last three seasons Kershaw has been simply amazing, posting a 2.21 ERA, 2.58 FIP, 9.15 K/9, and a 2.19 BB/9 in that time span, which is good for a 18.5 WAR. One of the reasons Kershaw has been so dominate is his continued improvement on his slider. When he debuted with the Dodgers in 2008, Clayton threw a fastball (93mph), changeup (85mph), and the most devastating curveball (74mph) known to man. The only flaw was that batters got wise with two strike and would just let the curve go without taking a swing.
In 2009 he added the slider (85mph) to his repertoire to solve the problem and, every year it just keeps getting better. As you can see looking at Kershaws Wiff Percentage in the chart above, via Brooks Baseball, the rate at which batters swing and miss on his slider has not only jumped up almost every year and is the second most thrown pitch next to the fastball. He’s still mostly a three pitch pitcher as he rarely uses the changeup.
Besides his on-field talents another reason it’s a good move by the Dodgers is his off-field actions. Kershaw involves himself in a lot of charity work through Kershaw’s Challenge, a foundation that aids at-risk children. Its cornerstone charity, Arise Africa,has built and is maintaining an orphanage in Zambia. Kershaw is also involved with Sharefest in Los Angeles and Mercy Street in Dallas, which both sponsor after-school programs and sports for children. He also donated $500 dollars for every strikeout he’s gotten since 2011, which has amounted to $354,500 dollars to date.
All this earned Kershaw the 2013 Branch Rickey Award, which is designed to honor those in baseball who contribute unselfishly to their communities and who are strong role models for young people. Speaking of being a role model Clayton is probably one of the best you can have. Despite his success and popularity he maintains a relatively quiet privet life. You won’t see him on TMZ rubbing shoulders with celebrities, running up $25,000 dollar tabs at the club, or getting arrested for doing 110 mph.
In fact in my opinion, and some may argue this, Kershaw has quietly passed up Matt Kemp to become the face of the franchise. Ticket sales are a little higher when he starts because fans know it’s almost an automatic win for the team. So Dodger fans breathe a sigh of relief because Clayton Kershaw is going to be a Dodger for a long time to come. This deal is good for the franchise, the team, and most importantly us fans.