Get your tickets now – Weaver will start game 3

Opening day doesn’t cut it for me anymore, maybe someday when there is a ring ceremony to accompany the pageantry, otherwise, it is just to expensive a ticket for me to justify.  Even when I had season tickets I’d sell opening day to help defray the cost of the season tickets. I always felt that if someone wanted to pay me $300 for two tickets to one baseball game that were worth $25 on any other night, I was more than happy to oblige them.

Though I have to admit the last opening day I went to was a doozy. I took Joe and Chris and we were treated to the pitching and hitting of Clayton Kershaw as he shut out the Giants while hitting a home run.

Hmmm, maybe I should change my stance on this.

Instead,  I usually go to the game after opening day but this year I just saw that Jered Weaver is going to start game three for the Padres. How can you pass up that opportunity?

Bombs away

LAD Prop Bets for 2017

You might know by now I’m a betting person, and while I don’t always bet I always like to look at the odds. Below are the odds for the 2017 MLB season brought to you by  Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv, Twitter: @BovadaLV).

I’ll only list the odds relevant to the LAD (and Matt Kemp). Who would you bet on?

I think I’d put most of my money on the Kershaw ERA under 2.10.

I’d probably take the under on Justin Turner hitting 25.5 home runs and the over on Matt Kemp hitting 25.5.

If I’m going to continue to believe in the Puig 26-year-old season I have to take the over on the .270 BA.

 

Corey Seager – BA in the 2017 Regular Season

Over/Under                               .300                 

           

Corey Seager – Total HR’s in the 2017 Regular Season

Over/Under                               26½

Corey Seager – Total RBI’s in the 2017 Regular Season           

Over/Under                               84½

 

Clayton Kershaw – Total Wins in the 2017 Regular Season      

Over/Under                               17½

Clayton Kershaw – ERA in the 2017 Regular Season    

Over/Under                              2.10

 

Clayton Kershaw – Total Strikeouts in the 2017 Regular Season          

Over/Under                               255½

 

Matt Kemp – Total HR’s in the 2017 Regular Season     

Over/Under                               25½

Matt Kemp – Total RBI’s in the 2017 Regular Season    

Over/Under                               89½

 

Los Angeles Dodgers Regular Season Props

Corey Seager – BA in the 2017 Regular Season

Over/Under                               .300

Corey Seager – Total HR’s in the 2017 Regular Season

Over/Under                               26½

Corey Seager – Total RBI’s in the 2017 Regular Season           

Over/Under                               84½

 

Adrian Gonzalez – Total RBI’s in the 2017 Regular Season

Over/Under                               89½

Adrian Gonzalez – BA in the 2017 Regular Season       

Over/Under                               .280

Adrian Gonzalez – Total HR’s in the 2017 Regular Season       

Over/Under                               19½

Justin Turner – BA in the 2017 Regular Season

Over/Under                               .290

Justin Turner – Total HR’s in the 2017 Regular Season

Over/Under                               25½     

 

Justin Turner – Total RBI’s in the 2017 Regular Season          

Over/Under                               89½     

 

Yasiel Puig- BA in the 2017 Regular Season    

Over/Under                               .270     

 

Joc Pederson – Total HR’s in the 2017 Regular Season           

Over/Under                               24½

 

Yasmani Grandal – Total HR’s in the 2017 Regular Season     

Over/Under                               24½

 

Logan Forsythe – Total HR’s in the 2017 Regular Season        

Over/Under                               20½     

 

Logan Forsythe – Total RBI’s in the 2017 Regular Season       

Over/Under                               65½     

 

Clayton Kershaw – Total Wins in the 2017 Regular Season      

Over/Under                               17½

Clayton Kershaw – ERA in the 2017 Regular Season    

Over/Under                              2.10

 

Clayton Kershaw – Total Strikeouts in the 2017 Regular Season          

Over/Under                               255½

Kenta Maeda – Total Wins in the 2017 Regular Season 

Over/Under                               12½

Rich Hill – Total Wins in the 2017 Regular Season       

Over/Under                               10½

Kenley Jansen – Total Saves in the 2017 Regular Season        

Over/Under                               39½

Ryu makes rotation against all odds

Back in December when we looked at the LAD rotational depth we had Ryu on there simply out of respect but in the analysis, I didn’t give him any innings.

I think the Dodgers will give him a long look this spring but end up releasing him. I hope I’m really wrong on this and that he surprises everyone but for this exercise, no innings for Ryu.

Ryu surprised just about everyone by not only being healthy but being effective. He hit every threshold and kept right on ticking.  Dave Roberts announced today after Ryu went five innings that he had indeed made the rotation.

With Ryu making the rotation, that gives the Dodgers a very nice problem to have. They have seven legitimate starters for only five spots. The final spot is between McCarthy and Wood, but in a few weeks, they will also have to figure out what to do when they want to put Urias in the rotation. Scott Kazmir starts the year on the DL but he also has to be dealt with if he can figure out his problems once he comes off the DL and goes through his rehab.

Just imagine if Ryu is back to being Ryu. I’m guessing Ryu would be on an innings count given he hasn’t pitched in two years, good thing the Dodgers have plenty of options to give him rest.

 

 

Rotation attrition hits acceptable levels

The Dodger rotation depth headed into spring was eleven deep which was what allowed the front office to trade Jharel Cotton / Frankie Montas / Grant Holmes / Jose DeLeon / Chase De Jong over the past eight months. That and  Walker Buehler /  Yadier Alvarez / Trevor Oaks / Imani Abdullah / Mitchell White.

A few fans were worried that ten deep would not be deep enough given the health histories of Rich Hill, Ryu, Wood, McCarthy, and Kazmir. With a week left before the season starts, the spring has left only two behind and not two that the team was really depending on in April.

Scott Kazmir got hurt early and has been unable to get on track. His start on Sunday did nothing to help his cause, and he seems certain to hit the DL to start the season.

Brock Stewart who had no history of health problems has been sidelined most of the spring and will not be pitching until May. He was ticketed for AAA anyway unless an epidemic of health or trades hit the names in front of him on the depth chart. The good news is that his innings will be shortened in 2017, the bad news is that his innings will be shortened in 2017 thus possibly creating inning issues in 2018 if you want him in the rotation from the get go but that is a long way away from being anything.

Have to say, if someone told me I had to pick two pitchers to get hurt this spring, those two might have been my choices.  Nothing against Kazmir, but I would rather have a healthy McCarthy, Ryu, Wood, and Hill if I was given a choice.

Things continue to be fluid but at this point,  it is easy to make a case for an opening season rotation of Kershaw / Kenta / Hill / McCarthy / Ryu.  Ryu keeps stretching out and putting him on the DL seems harder and harder the better and longer he pitches. He’s not going to AAA and he’s not going to the bullpen. Last year at this time the rotation was Kershaw / Kenta / Kazmir / Wood / Stripling. I don’t know about you, but this version looks better to me.

And that is with Urias simply biding his time. Oh my

Which leaves what to do about Alex Wood. Bullpen or AAA?  We might address that tomorrow.

Andrew Heaney might be on to something

Pedro Moura wrote a column yesterday about Andrew Heaney and the unique contract he signed with Fantex that left me wondering if maybe Andrew Heaney started something that might become commonplace.

eighteen months ago, Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney agreed to commit 10% of his future earnings to investors in exchange for $3.34 million up front. It was an unprecedented transaction for a major league player.

This might have been talked to death when he signed the deal but I don’t recall the conversation. What I liked in the story was how Huston Street eventually agreed that maybe this was now an option for players instead of signing team friendly deals that buy out their arbitration years.

I could certainly see this as an option for certain types of players.

  1. Pitchers as insurance in case their arms implode before they hit arbitration
  2. Allen Craig types who didn’t get the contract Craig got and want to make sure they get something monetary out of their major league career.
  3. Players who don’t plan on blowing it all on houses/entourages/blow/girls/cars/jewelry in one year.
  4. Players who never got a signing bonus over $1 Million when drafted and have never seen any money yet from their pro career.

Heaney felt his breakeven point was $60 million in career earnings, Street crunched his own numbers and came up with $80 million.

Given that Heaney signed this deal before he knew he was going to have TJ surgery, it looks like his move was a prudent one. He didn’t pitch much in 2016 before discovering his elbow ailment and is expected to miss all of 2017. It is very possible that Andrew Heaney may never get a large major league payday and the odds of him ever earning $60 Million over his career are now longer than they were eighteen months ago when it looked like he was going to be a mainstay in the Angel rotation for at least the next five years.

Just a quick review of Dodgers on the 40 man roster, I could see several Dodgers who might want to check out this route.

Brock Stewart

Grant Dayton

Andrew Toles

Anyway, the whole thing intrigued me. I can understand eschewing any type of insurance and bet on oneself, but injuries have waylaid many a confident baseball player. It just might be that getting the best of both worlds is the right option. An immediate payday for a % of your lifetime earnings. I’d like to meet the person who was the first one to suggest this to an agent. Bold move Cotton.

 

 

 

Vin Scully and the General

csun_vpac_tb_49_4

This past Saturday Night we ventured out to the Cal State Northridge Valley Performing Arts Center to catch Buster Keaton’s groundbreaking silent film “The General” with the New West orchestra conducted by Richard Kaufman providing the soundtrack.

It was a crime that we had never been and I have to admit my surprise at how beautiful the center was. That was just the first of several pleasant surprises. Our seats were awesome, individual box seats along the right-hand section. We weren’t sitting right next to each other but we were extremely comfortable with no worries about getting up and about and bothering anyone. They were the greatest seats and we will be looking to purchase them every time we come back. The biggest surprise, however, was simply the public address announcer. Cal State Northridge didn’t settle for some nondescript public address announcer. No siree. We got Vin Scully and let me tell me, it was the sweetest sound hearing Vin Scully telling us to get comfortable and to turn off our cell phones. I had to resist the urge to give the public address announcement a standing ovation.

The show started with Jamie Farr telling some jokes with the conductor Richard Kaufman. Once that was done, they introduced some dignitaries in the audience and the first one was ex-Dodger and current Matador announcer Ross Porter. Ross Porter took a bow and was just a few feet from our seats.  I always enjoyed Ross Porter era as a Dodger announcer. His fascination with bizarre stats rivaled mine and I was always annoyed at how the McCourt administration had gone about replacing him.

Ross Porter was the reason I got involved in Dodger blogs. He was doing a game in the summer of 2004 when he mentioned Jon Weisman and Dodger Thoughts. I remembered the name but never actively went looking for the blog as reading blogs just wasn’t something I did in 2004. Yet when the big trade happened with LoDuca I was confused and did some searching on the cloud and Dodger Thoughts came up. I remembered what Ross had said about Jon Weisman so with that previous reference in mind I clicked on the link and my life took a left turn.

The show itself was fantastic, a hilarious romp, place looked sold out and I think everyone had a great time. Having the New West orchestra doing the soundtrack live brought the movie to life. I can’t really describe how much fun this show was.

The final surprise was after I got home and started to write this little column. I looked at a few reviews and picked one written by Roger Ebert in 1997. Holy shit, the movie was based on an actual event.

“The General” is an epic of silent comedy, one of the most expensive films of its time, including an accurate historical recreation of a Civil War episode, hundreds of extras, dangerous stunt sequences, and an actual locomotive falling from a burning bridge into a gorge far below. It was inspired by a real event; the screenplay was based on the book “The Great Locomotive Chase,” written by William Pittenger, the engineer who was involved.

This may have been the first time I’ve hit the Valley Performing Arts Center but it won’t be the last because if I ever want to hear Vin Scully, I now know where to go.

 

 

Unscientific analysis has Dodgers winning another Western Division

For years I’ve done a silly little analysis before the start of the year to determine the Dodgers fate in the Western Division.

What I do is take the five NL Western Division team and compare them numerically from 1 – 5 with 5 being best at each position. I like to think I’ve always been objective in this analysis but I’m sure some Dodger bias always leaked out.

At the point where I rank them, I’m simply using my own subjective opinion about who I think is better. We have a lot of unknowns this year. The biggest for me was LF.  If Dahl was healthy to start the year he’d have gotten the 5 but he’s not and I’m not sure how long his injury will linger.

Dodgers – Puig is a huge ??? but I’m fairly positive that Carlos Gonzalez is going to be better. Will Pence? Probably. That was pretty much the only question mark I have on this team until you hit the rotation. You know what you are going to get with Kershaw/Kenta but Hill / McCarthy / Wood / Urias / Kazmir / Ryu all come with questions but between the lot of them, I still think they are the best option in their rotation spot than almost all other options for the other teams. The rotation is just so bloody deep, it is a mockery for the rest of the division. Even Kazmir as the 5th option would be the best option when compared to every other team’s 5th option and he’s the worst 5th option the Dodgers have. I may be giving the Dodger bullpen to much credit.

Giants – From 1 – 4 the Giant rotation almost matches up with the Dodgers. They fall heavily after that and I’m not impressed with the bullpen after Melancon. On offense, they have only one five player and that is Posey. I’m not down on Panik I think he’s a fine 2nd baseman but the Division is deep with Forsythe / DJ LeMahieu / Solarte. Yes, the Padres have moved Solarte from 3rd to 2nd this spring. I gave Belt the nod over Adrian simply because of age. Belt should get better or at last stay the same, while Adrian should continue to decline. Nunez might be a fine 3rd baseman but he’s not better than Arenado/Turner/Lamb.

Rockies – The offense is loaded but beyond Arenado/Blackmon/Gonzalez they have some huge holes at catcher and now 1st base without Desmond. Even a healthy Desmond would have had a hard time cracking higher than a 1 going against Adrian/Belt/Myers/Goldy. They get two 5’s with Arenado/Gonzalez and just missed a 3rd with Blackmon. As of now, they are missing Dahl/Desmond/Murphy. That is a tough way to start the season and it impacted the ranking. On the rotation side, I do think they have one of their better rotations and I’m a big fan of Jon Gray but he simply can’t measure up against Kershaw/Bumgarner/Grienke. Without injuries,  I think this team is just a hair behind the Giants, but those injuries are going to hurt. Chad Bettis would still have ranked as the 2nd worst option as his spot, but the difference could be huge. Or not. Maybe German Marquez can do exactly what Bettis would have done.

Diamondbacks – Goldy gets one of their two 5’s. Lamb is good but not better than Arenado/Turner. The middle infield is the weakest in the division. I’m giving Pollock the benefit of the doubt and he gets the other five over Blackmon/Pederson. I could be very wrong on this one if he can’t stay healthy. Peralta needs to bounce back so for now,  he’s ranked with Renfroe. The rotation could actually be good headlined by Greinke. Walker has the stuff to be a legitimate number two and I’m ranking him that way. Robbie Ray is solid as a number three. I’m a fan of Corbin and expect one of Corbin or Miller to bounce back. This is a decent rotation but it comes in 3rd simply because they are facing off against the Dodger/Giant rotations.  Their biggest problem in my view is up the middle at catcher/SS/2nd Base. I could be underselling Drury but I don’t think I’m underselling Iannetta / Owings. The bullpen could be their undoing, maybe the new GM knows exactly what he’s doing in building this bullpen but it looks like a unit that is going to piss off many a starting pitcher.

Padres – We kind of know the Padre rotation is going to be awful. but we don’t know what kind of production the Hunter Renfroe and Margot duo are going to provide. Renfroe could end up back in AAA or hit 30-40 home runs. Margot looks like he could be a solid player but CF is deep in the division with Pollock/Blackmon/Pederson. Myers is their best player and gets their highest ranking but they have no 5’s because of Goldy at 1st base. I do like the bullpen with Mauer/CappsHand.

So that is my little foray into prognosticating the NL Western Divison race.

Pos Dodgers Giants Rockies Diamondbacks Padres
1st 2 3 1 5 4
2nd 5 2 4 1 3
SS 5 3 4 2 1
3rd 4 2 5 3 1
Catcher 4 5 1 2 3
RF 3 4 5 1.5 1.5
CF 3 2.5 4 5 2.5
LF 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 1
Bench 5 2 3.5 3.5 1
Offense 34.5 27 31 26.5 18
1 -Starter 5 4 2 3 1
2 -Starter 4 5 2 3 1
3 -Starter 5 4 2 3 1
4 -Starter 4 5 2 3 1
5 -Starter 5 2 3 4 1
Closer 5 4 3 1 2
Bullpen 5 2 4 1 3
Pitching 33 26 18 18 10
Grand Total 67.5 53 49 44.5 28

Batting gloves and Aloe Vera plants

AloeVeraBattingGloves

Most of my spare time is spent gardening and for twenty years I’ve been slicing up my hands when I handle my Aloe Vera plants. I’ve tried using many different gloves but they are either too thick to get the feel for hand pruning the sharp dead fronds or too thin and the fronds slice right through the material.

A few weeks ago I had put on an old pair of batting gloves and was swinging the bat around when I wandered into the front yard with the gloves still on. I pondered the 100 or so aloe vera I had and knew I had to start pruning them while dreading it at the same time. I grabbed one and started working on it without even realizing I had left my batting gloves on. I did one after another and realized that I was going to finish the job pain and cut free. I marveled at how strong and pliable the batting gloves were for this specific task.  It had never occurred to me before to use them but as I thought about it made perfect sense. They gave me the tactile feel I was missing with thick leather gloves, but they were strong enough to keep my hands from getting shredded.

I’ve spent the last few weeks pruning the rest of the Aloe Vera in my garden and while I now need a new pair of batting gloves for baseball, I have a fantastic pair of beat up gardening gloves.

You can teach an old dog new tricks.

WBC Goliath slays David

The entertaining 2017 WBC ended last night with the United States clobbering Puerto Rico 8 – 0 ending the surprising undefeated run by the Puerto Rican team. Marcus Stroman bounced back from his previous humiliation at the hands of the Puerto Rican team to no-hit them for six innings and the bats did the rest.

I enjoyed this tournament, was surprised to see the Puerto Rican team make such a run given the pitching staff they were using but wasn’t surprised that the US eventually won the Championship. Even though many of the biggest names did not play for the US, they still had an excellent team with major league all-stars and MVP’s in the lineup.

For those who were rooting for the US, I hope you enjoyed your victory. I had a friend said he was proud of the US for winning but I guess I just don’t get that.  The competition was fun but I’m not sure what there was to be proud of.

The Puerto Rican team had four position players who garnered two bWAR or more in 2016 and two of them played the same position. They had zero pitchers who garnered two or more bWAR. By contrast,  the US pool had 79 position players to choose from who had two or more bWAR and 69 pitchers with two or more bWAR. This was after all a team that was starting Enrique Hernandez in CF against a right-hand pitcher. Their talent pool was limited so my hat was off to them for accomplishing what they did.

The starting pitcher for the PR team won’t even be in a major league rotation, and he was followed by pitchers who are not expected to be key contributors on any major league team. The starting pitcher for the US team is the ace of the team who won 89 games last year.

I’m sure I wasn’t being very patriotic for rooting for the Island teams but patriotism is very low on my list of things I care about.

I’m proud of my country when they do things that make me proud. That doesn’t happen often these days and winning a baseball tournament doesn’t make the cut.

Other related WBC notes.

Ian Kinsler created a hubbub by commenting that he hopes to show the world the right way to play the game.  I get that,  even if I don’t agree with the sentiment. If you were taught to play the game without showing emotion after every pitch and play, it might be annoying to watch those who learned how to play the game by showing emotion after every pitch and play. Cultures collide. It happens, it happened when the African-American became a part of the game, and it is happening now as more and more Latin players become MLB players. I’m sure it was no different in Japan when they started letting American players into the league. Some will resent it, some will embrace it. Doesn’t make someone a racist because they don’t like how the game is played by Latin players. I for one am blown away at the silliness exhibited by players over walks offs these days or home run celebrations in the dugout but I don’t think that makes me a racist. I also don’t think that makes me an old fart but I may be wrong there. I actually enjoy watching players play that look like they are having fun. The Puig slide into home after his game-winning grand slam is still one of my favorite Dodger memories.

Everyone time I watch Eric Hosmer play I end up enjoying watching him play. His peripheral stats don’t suggest he’s an above average ball player but he sure looks like one. He gets clutch hits, he runs the bases extremely well for a 1st baseman, he’s smooth as silk at the bag. Hopefully, he can put it all together in his age 27 season and be that player that he looks like but isn’t.

Javy Baez is the same way. What a beautiful ballplayer, but so far the stats don’t match the aesthetics. I think they will.

I still can’t put out of my mind that home run that Stanton hit in Petco. Geezus

No matter what Adam Jones does, I’ll always remember him for that catch and the hat tip by Machado.

I wish Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout had played for the US just so the world could see them. They are too good and unique to have sat this out. Besides it may have been the only way either of them will have a Championship to call their own.

Orel Hershiser mystery umpire

The other day on Dodger squeeze play I heard Orel tell Joe Davis about the time he was thrown out of a baseball game. Evidently, Orel had gone his whole career without being tossed but that came to an end when he was the pitching coach for the Rangers.

To hear Orel tell it, Buck Showalter was his manager, and he asked Orel to go to the mound and ask the umpire when he showed up “is this going to be the strike zone we are working with the rest of the game”. Orel said he did exactly that and was tossed.

The key here is that it was a rookie umpire who had been called up and I think Orel said it was the umpire’s first game. Buck Showalter made a fuss and the other umpires came in to see what Orel had done to get tossed. He told them and the next day, Orel said he had an envelope on his chair from those other umpires saying they were sorry he had been tossed.

And to top it off the umpire was sent back to the minors the next day. Joe Davis asked Orel if he knew if the umpire had made it back to the major leagues and Orel said he didn’t, that he didn’t keep track of him. That part surprised me because if I had a 30-year major league playing/coaching career I’d keep track of the umpire that threw me out. It is possible that the umpire was only scheduled for that one game, maybe someone had been sick or took a quick personal leave, but wouldn’t it be something if that umpire had finally reached his dream of being a major league umpire only to see it dashed after one game because he had a quick hook with Orel Hershiser?

If Bob Timmerman read this blog I’d ask him who the umpire was and what happened to him, but he doesn’t, but it left me curious, and maybe someday I’ll see if anyone knows who this umpire was.

[Update for those who don’t read the comments]

I read this and e-mailed Bob. He came back with this:

Matt Hollowell